Timeline game review

This game is great! It is like a history test for all ages! The box suggests for ages 8+ but anyone who can read can play.

It comes in a little tin box. There are different kinds like historical events and inventions. You don’t need a lot of room for this game, maybe two feet. We play on a small table. The cards are very small. They are good for little hands but my dad has big hands and wishes they were bigger. 
You start with 5 cards. The first one to have no cards wins.You have to take turns putting the cards in historical order.

A Typical Day

I’ve been asked a few times about what our typical homeschool day looks like. First, I would say there isn’t much that’s “typical” about our family. I don’t have a label for what we do either. When I first started this homeschooling journey I had some negative preconceived notions. The funny thing

is, I didn’t even know anyone who homeschooled. My belief then was that a rigorous academic course was necessary for my kids to stay ahead of their peers.

It didn’t take long for that to blow up in my face. Sitting at the table memorizing spelling words was a daily battle. Practicing math facts brought about tears. Even reading, a once beloved pastime, was a chore. I finally had enough of the fighting and just quit. I stopped requiring any time at the table. I didn’t talk about math facts, and I closed up all the books and put them on the shelf. Returning my children to a classroom was not an option. I had to figure out something.
Steve and I had long conversations about what we wanted for our kids and what we thought were important subjects for them to learn. We read more about various homeschooling methods and started making lists of our favorite curriculums. I joined a couple groups and signed up for a weekly coop.
I highly recommend a support group! That group can be made up of whomever you’d like and is probably more effective if their beliefs in homeschooling are different than yours. It’s in that difference where I learned the most. 
I also found the support of a coop to be very helpful. We have been participating in various co-ops for about four years. I make new friends, my kids make new friends and there is the expertise of other parents to help teach my children. There is also an accountability associated with a co-op. The only reason I have completed two volumes of Story of The World is because I was accountable to another family to stay on track. 
Back to the original purpose in this post. What does our typical day look like? My kids have a list of “requirements” that I ask they complete each day. The list changes based on individual need. I also ask for input from the kids to create their lists. Khan Academy, art, language, reading, writing, puzzles and chores are currently on the list. We do history and science in a weekly co-op. I purposely left the categories vague. For example, I’m not concerned about which language the kids learn right now. Stephanie was interested in ASL for a few months and then decided she’d rather learn French. Now, both of my kids study French online and are excited to be able to chat with each other knowing I can’t understand them. I call that incentive!  Reading is another category purposely left open for interpretation. I used to require the kids read aloud every day. I quickly found that I was creating a dread when it came time to read. It’s when I started allowing operations manuals, graphic novels, magazines, etc to count towards reading time that both of my kids were excited to read. In fact, many days they get sucked into a book and beg for more time. 
I don’t have all the answers, I’m still learning from others and from my own mistakes. I do know that when I lightened up and realized that there was no way the kids couldn’t learn that our days were much more enjoyable. There have been days in the past when I suggested we spend the day at Disney and blow off school work only to have one of the kids ask for time to finish up their math. (They are paid for math progress. I call that incentive, too!) 
In a perfect world, the kids would be in charge of their own education. I’m just available to facilitate the process. I hope to create a love for learning that spans all of the subjects and lasts a lifetime. 

Why we homeschool?

Steve and I met in our 30s. We both had steady jobs and were working our way up the corporate ladder. Life was good for us. We had a daughter, three dogs, a nice house, two cars, two 401ks…living the American Dream. We were financially comfortable. Steve worked to pay the bills and I worked to cover private school tuition. 

Our son came along, a little earlier than was planned. As a result of his prematurity he had a slew of health problems. He was allergic to everything, including peanuts, soy and sesame. He had severe asthma. Two holes in his heart, blocked tear ducts so severe the Dr. was confident he would have vision loss and was unable to keep down any type of formula. It was a rough time in our lives. I share the story because even then we never considered that I would stay at home. Maybe we should have, but we were determined to provide high quality, private school educations for our children.

Stephanie was an early reader and accelerated learner so we pushed her into kindergarten a year early. I now realize this was another moment I should have considered alternatives to education. Hindsight…

Traditional school wasn’t working for us and we wanted more for our kids than what was offered in a classroom. I had never given thought to homeschooling. Quite honestly, I had planned on working harder just to pay private school tuition. When I first pulled Stephanie from her school, two months into the first grade, I placed her in daycare with Aaron while I worked on the logistics of what we were going to do. I researched private schools in the area, I considered hybrid homeschooling where she would spend part of the week in class and the rest at home. I never could find the right fit. So I decided homeschooling was the answer.

I spent hours reading about how others homeschooled, I read books from the “professionals”, I spent my days recreating school at home. I just couldn’t figure out how to make this work for us. 

Four months into our journey I was ready to give up. I didn’t feel I was going to provide my five year old with the tools she would need to compete with her peers. I was doubting that I could really homeschool her without a college education myself. I honestly felt very alone in this journey. Steve was working hard to provide for the family as we only had one source of income now. His days were consumed with the corporate world. 

And then it hit me. We would wake up in the morning, get dressed, eat breakfast together as a family and Stephanie would pick up whatever book she was reading at the time and beg to leave the table so she could finish her book. We would head out to Animal Kingdom for the day and I would watch as Stephanie  “educated” Aaron about animals I’d never heard of. We would spend the day at the science center and I would watch my kids having fun playing with other kids they didn’t even know. They were happy kids. And they were learning!

We never pushed our kids academically, we have always let them learn at their own pace, when they were ready. What we consistently did however was provide lots of ways to learn. We read books together, listened to music, walked around museums, practiced chemistry in the kitchen and built lots of crazy things with blocks. 

It took me a couple years to let go of the notion that my children needed to learn what was being taught at school and that they needed to stay at “grade level”. I believe public school has its place; homeschooling isn’t for everyone. But I realize now that teaching children only information that will appear on a test is detrimental to us all. Read Sal Khan’s book titled The One World Schoolhouse, it will change your perspective.

Looking back, I am grateful for the paths we took. I’m thankful that we struggled and that I had an opportunity to question everything. I feel today that we are headed in the right direction and that Steve and I have made the right decisions for a successful future for our kids!

A new ship to sail…

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, we took a month long trip up the east coast last year in our 26TBUD travel trailer.  It was a blast, but it was a tight fit and we came away with a list of things that would make our lives easier.
That list included things like:

  • Two bathrooms
  • More counter space in the kitchen
  • Washer/dryer
  • Dedicated kids space
  • Storage, storage, storage
  • Dedicated work space for me
I started casually looking around when we returned, but the looking got much more serious when Karen said she wanted to take a 6 month+ trip.  So we narrowed it down a bit and found this little beauty at the Cocoa Camping World.  It’s a 2015 Montana Mountaineer 350QBQ.  We went down and checked it out and it met every one of our requirements.
Now we are about to close this deal.  We’ve got some stuff to figure out, but an exciting new chapter is opening.  Everyone is excited and it appears that life without a concrete foundation is drawing nearer.
More to come soon!

Aaron’s Skylanders Trap Team Review

I bought Skylanders trap team with my own money. It’s a little like the other Skylanders games but there are challenges that you can unlock like Kaos’ doom challenge. You can still use the old Skylanders figures.


I love it. And I very highly recommend it. I give it 4 1/2 Buckeyes out of 5!  The goal of the game is to find all the bad guys and trap them in traps. You have to buy traps. They are small, plastic pieces. There are fire, water, magic, air, undead, light, dark, earth, life, tech and kaos traps. I am trying to collect a trap for each bad guy. That’s a lot of traps! I think about 48.
This game can be played as a single player but is way more fun as a multiplayer. I play with my pop and my sister.
Traps are $6.99.
The starter pack is $64.99.
Trap masters are about $16.99.
Others are about $6.99.
Sometimes you can get them on sale. At first I bought the starter pack for $64.99 but then my mom saw it on sale for $39.99. So I took the receipt back to the store and they gave me money back. I used that extra money to buy traps.

April fools jokes

April fools is coming up and I have a couple pranks for you today. The first is sure to gross out mom.

You need:
A raisin
A fly

1. Let the fly fly around the house.
2. Hold the raisin in your palm.
3. Swat at the fly then pop a raisin in your mouth.
It will look like you’re eating a fly!

This one’s funny!

You need:
Clear cup
2x jello (red)
Drinking straw

1. Make jello in cup.
2. Put the drinking straw in the clear cup before the jello chills.
3. Put in fridge for two hours.
It makes the thickest fruit punch ever!

This one was used on me last year.

You need:
Brown construction paper
Black marker

1. Draw “E”s on the paper.
2. Cut out the “E”s.
There – you have brown”e”s. Get it?

Welcome to Our Rear View!

Hello world!  We are the Church family.  A family of 4 with 2 dogs.  Let me tell you a little bit about why we are here.  We are currently planning to hit the road for an extended period of time…

trying to figure out a new fifth wheel, road schooling kids, working from the road, pet care on the road, etc. and we came up with the genius (**cough**) idea to create a blog along the way.  So we spent an extended car ride coming up with cool names and talking about the subjects we want to talk about, and then my wife set up the site last night.  So now we have to actually do it, right?  

Yep…this is where the rubber meets the road so to speak… Of course you’ll get your typical campsite reviews and park/attraction reviews, but we are going all out!  

I’m Steve, the dad, and I’ll be filling you in on any honey-do projects or camper mods we work on, as well as some of the more technical things we have to deal with camper wise.  You’re also hopefully get a chuckle or two along the way. You’ll also find that I’m a quote-a-holic.  My favorites usually come in 2 flavors…insightfully reflective or childishly humorous.  You have been warned!  

My wife Karen will have plenty to say about finances and the unschooling of the crumb snatchers.  She’s been running that show for years now and really has some great ideas and projects that I’m sure she’ll share with everyone.  

Stephanie is our 11 year old television, reading and animal expert.  She’ll be providing plenty of show and book reviews I’m sure, as well as keeping you up to date on our monster dogs and their adjustment to camper life.  She’s also a hell of a baton twirler, and she is participating in the Junior Olympics this summer…I’m sure she’ll mention that too.  

Aaron is our 7 year old techno-geek.  He is addicted to anything mechanical, especially if it’s electronic.  He loves to read instruction manuals for the craziest things (even things we don’t own), so expect some really cool feedback from him.  He’s also a video game junkie and he’s learning to write code and program his arduino set.  

I’m hoping you will find this very interesting.  We’re glad to have you along, so buckle up and hang on tight as we prepare for the adventure of a lifetime!