Friday Flashback: A week of surprises

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MothersJournalIHNMy theme for this week is… Surprise!

In my life this week… My husband had to take a last-minute trip to Dallas for work, leaving Sunday afternoon. I found out about it while he was at the airport coming home last Friday. Surprise!

While in Dallas, he also had to change his flight home to accommodate an extra meeting. Surprise! So I missed my evening Zumba stress-reliever on Tuesday night. In moments like this, I try to remind myself what a blessing it is that although my husband travels a lot, he works from home the rest of the time. And he’s worked for the same company for almost 17 years… and his job has blessed us in so many ways. And he’s expecting to be home for the next two weeks… hopefully!

In our homeschool this week… we drove into an unexpected snowstorm on Monday on the way to Worship Dance classes. Surprise! As of Sunday afternoon, I heard that it would probably not snow again until the end of this week. By Sunday night, I heard a chance of snow overnight or in the morning, but just a dusting. Monday morning, it was suspiciously cloudy. By the time we got in the car to drive to take the 25-mile drive to Littleton for dance, tiny pellets of snow started falling.

The farther we drove, the harder it fell. By the time we got to dance class, large chunky flakes were falling fast!

Homeschool Surprise Snow

Although this surprise made for a nervous drive for me, my girls were elated! They absolutely love snow and cheer on every new snowfall. Once we got home, they couldn’t wait to play outside with the neighborhood kids. By then at least 2-3 inches had fallen in Castle Rock. I still managed to get my eldest back out to ballet and home again without too much trouble, although the slush was starting to harden into ice by then.

Of course, the next morning it was completely clear and sunny, and most of the new snow had melted by the end of the day. The girls were disappointed to only have a few shady spots left to try and mound snow for sledding. That’s Colorado for you!

This week we also finished week four of our six-week unit study on Jamestown in Paths of Exploration. We’re almost done reading “Surviving Jamestown: The Adventures of a Young Sam Collier” by Gail Langer Karwoski, which is our read-aloud for this unit. My eldest, who is an avid reader, also finished reading two supplemental books that are recommended for this unit: “John Smith of Virginia” by Robert Syme and “Pocahontas” by Joseph Bruchac. She really enjoyed these additional books and being able to take note of the contrast in how different authors portrayed the same characters — just another reason we love using “living” books (a la Charlotte Mason) rather than dry textbooks to study history.

My girls really enjoyed all of the drawing that we did in our nature studies this week. One of the reasons I love unit studies is that we can incorporate many art techniques and skills with various components of our unit work each week, such as making lapbooks and the daily art projects incorporated into our science, geography, history and writing assignments. Here are a few examples of some of the girls’ drawings this week:

Homeschool Plant Sketches

Homeschool Notebook

My youngest has recently taken an interest in copywork, which I shared about in last week’s Friday Flashback post. This week, she decided that it would also be fun to copy words from her favorite iPad/iPhone learning apps:

Homeschool Copywork

Here’s a list I found on the table (after school time!) that she copied from a Valentine’s Day vocabulary app:

Homeschool Copywork

Surprise! Elise has decided she likes copywork after all. I’m a happy mama!

We also had our girls book club co-op this week, where we discussed the last half of “Little House in the Big Woods.” I was really impressed with the insightful comments shared by my tweenage (11-12 years) reading group. For example, many of the girls shared that although life was harder physically for Laura and her family back then, it was a simpler time, and they would have enjoyed it because life is “so complicated” today.

Most of these girls are also pretty adventurous, so they liked the idea of living in the woods, getting lots of snow, running around barefoot all summer, and seeing wildlife on a regular basis. What they didn’t like: Sundays sounded “really boring!” and the dresses worn to the dance, with corset and layers of petticoats, seemed “crazy uncomfortable.” One girl added that, “You can see why girls couldn’t really play back in those days!”

LittleHouseLapbookSeriesOur next meeting will be our book project day, and we’re planning to make clove apples, snow candy, and start a lapbook that we downloaded from one of this week’s NextGen Homeschool “What’s Working Wednesday Link-Up” featured posts: a custom-designed lapbook resource from Marine Corps Nomads, “Complete Little House on the Prairie Lapbooks” free printables set.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… In last week’s Friday Flashback post, I shared some of the ways that I juggle homeschooling, working from home, and solo parenting when my husband is traveling for work. Although most homeschooling parents are already “solo” during the day — one parent homeschools while the other works outside the home — those of us whose spouse works away from home for an extended period of time know that this type of solo parenting while homeschooling presents its own challenges.

I received quite a few responses and questions about this topic, so I thought it would be helpful to share my top tips for maintaining a smoothly functioning home with minimal stress during your solo parenting days. I hope these tips can be a blessing to you as well: “Survival skills for solo parent days.

My favorite thing this week was… discovering that my 12-year-old is now taller than me. I’m not sure if I’m actually happy about this fact, but since I am pretty petite, I knew this day would come soon. She has been wearing my shoe size since last summer, and now she is officially the tallest female in the family.


My kiddos favorite thing this week was… an unexpected visit from my in-laws, who are on their way back to their home in Kansas from a trip to the West Coast. Surprise! Time to clean the guest room, which has become a “catch all” room as we’ve been reorganizing other rooms and sorting toys and clothes for giveaway or storage.

Today we wrapped up some loose ends with our student workbook pages for this week’s lessons and called it a day, so the girls could have more time to hang out with Grandma & Grandpa Gotcher. The girls love visiting with my in-laws, who homeschooled for many years and are always ready to teach them something new.

Grandma is the crocheting expert, and my eldest Audrey is planning to get some help on a project she’s been stuck on (because unfortunately I don’t know how to crochet). Audrey has also developed her baking skills by making rolls and specialty cakes with her grandpa, who is a serious hobby baker. Tomorrow they will be making HIS birthday cake for Sunday.

Grandpa is also planning to show my 10-year-old (who loves rocks almost as much as he does) some cool geology videos he’s discovered on YouTube since his last visit. If it wasn’t for the next big snowstorm that’s due in later today, they probably would have gone rock-hounding in the local creek canyons near our house, as they often do when he is visiting.

Homeschool Week

What’s that? Even more snow on the way? Surprise!

How was your homeschool week? How do you handle unexpected surprises? What was your favorite moment or experience? Did you get any snow? We’d love to hear about your week in the comments below!

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7 thoughts on “Friday Flashback: A week of surprises

  1. I’ve gotten better at rolling with the changes, especially with my husband’s travel schedule, after years of working on it! I also pray a lot! 🙂

  2. We’ve had a very snowy winter here in Minnesota — quite a change from last year which was in the top 10 driest/least snow winters! We just got about 9 more inches this week, and the kids were thrilled to go out yet again and play in it!

    1. That sounds like fun, Kirsten! Since moving to Castle Rock, we’ve had a few dry years too, so this has been a nice change. When we lived in Durango CO, our first winter was a very snowy one. The girls miss having 4-5 foot drifts piled on the sides of our driveway. Thanks for sharing with us!

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