Sledding at White Sands

Roadschooling – P.E. at White Sands National Monument

We woke up this morning earlier than we thought we would. Our campsite was very close to the main road, and close to the entrance/exit of the park. So, at about 5:50 we were all wide awake.

Breakfast was at a restaurant close to Carlsbad Caverns where half of us tried more local fare. I had chorizo and eggs while Du had Mexican eggs with jalapeños. The girls opted for the tried and true — pancakes.

Carlsbad Caverns sign

The Caverns

I’m thinking most school districts are back in session now, or no one else likes arriving right when the park opens because we almost had the caverns to ourselves. They don’t boast to be the largest, deepest, longest caves but they are truly magnificent.

Part of the Big Room at Carlsbad Caverns

Part of the Big Room

Once we toured the caverns we traveled on to Alamogordo and White Sands.

Green pasture in NM

NM can looks like this, too!

Entrance sign to White Sands

Sledding time!

Our goal was to stay in White Sands until after dark so we could do some good star gazing. White Sands National Park is on or adjacent to White Sands Missile Range, and they must be doing testing throughout the night because everyone had to be out of the park by 9pm. We’re not too disappointed though, because I think we’ll do some good stargazing in Arizona. . . if the super moon isn’t putting off too much light. Here’s a link to an article about the Supermoon and the Perseid Meteor shower that will be happening almost simultaneously in a few days.

Onto the P.E. portion. We arrived at White Sands at 6:56 and the visitor center closes at 7:00. We saw that they had sleds for sale in there so I raced in and bought one kid’s sled (and the wax for .75 that was supposed to help it slide better…). We headed out to the dunes and tried several before we found the perfect sledding dune.

Sledding at White Sands

Needing an extra push

We all sledded down and raced back up, sledded down and raced back up.

sledding at White Sands

Here I goooo…

Sledding at White Sands

The big hill!

After Du and I had enough and wanted to watch the sunset, the girls kept racing up the dune, running and jumping down it, racing back up, running and jumping down. It’s the best P.E. they’ve had in a while. They definitely needed to get the energy out.

Running the dunes at White Sands

This is P.E.

So, there’s a little lesson — you can accommodate your school to almost any setting you’re in. Wink, wink.

A plant at White Sands

A type of Yucca?

The next two days will be more like down days for us. We plan on meeting with some family and relaxing. I’m hoping to take some time to catch up on/review some schoolwork I want the girls to know. Laundry and cleaning out the cars may happen as well as relaxing by the pool.

More later!

   Not So SAHM

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Striped Starfish

Roadschooling (& moving) East to West – Week 1 recap

So far –

  • 9 days
  • over 1500 miles (x2 vehicles)
  • 8 states
  • lots of friends and family
  • 0 speeding tickets
  • 0 major fights
  • 2 or 3 things left behind or lost
  • 4 head colds
  • 1 starfish (or sea star as they are now called, but I’m old school so it’s still a starfish to me)
Striped Starfish

Anyone know what kind this is?

We all know, nothing ever goes as planned. That maxim indeed held true for our first week of the move/roadschool. We’ve had tons of fun, seen lots of friends and family, and hopefully have learned something along the way. We’ve also (especially me) had to adjust to life on the road and to things not going quite like we (I) planned.

Here are my observations:

1. first and foremost – expect the unexpected! Plans will change and you will have to deal with things unforeseen. It’s important to be able to go with the flow, especially if it’s nothing life threatening.

My husband is driving the vehicle with the girls in it. He’s not the one that came up with this master schooling plan, so he doesn’t really know the best way to implement it. I have purposely not been interfering on the walkie talkie (that’s another tip) because he needs to know that I trust him with schooling the girls. I didn’t get my master plan printed out before our printer was packed up, and due to some of those unforeseen circumstances, we haven’t been able to print it out yet. So, he’s been pinch hitting with their schoolwork. And that’s fine. I had built in some down days, so I’m hoping that we can use a day or two of those to go over some things that were missed.

2. As mentioned above, if you’re driving more than one vehicle you need a set of walkie talkies. We figured this out early into our marriage…and it probably helped save it. Now there’s very little likelihood of losing each other and driving several miles down the highway before you realize your better half got off at the last exit to gas up. It’s a great way to keep the lines of communication open (cell phones don’t always have coverage), and it prevents HUNDREDS if not thousands of fights and ticked off feelings. Ahem.

3. As you’re coming and going from many different houses, hotel rooms, camp sites, etc., help each other go over a list of things that might possibly get left behind. Say phone cords. Or bathing suit bottoms. It’s so much easier to take those things with you than to have to replace them, or ask your AirBnB host to mail them to your next stop. . . just conjecturing.

4. Don’t count on having cell connection or wifi everywhere you go, or even in the most touristy of places you go. We stayed a night in Panama City, and there was absolutely no cell coverage in the condo. There wasn’t great coverage even on the beach. I’m several days behind in posting because we’ve been without internet when I least expected it!

5. Don’t forget to pack all the little doodads and medicines you use in everyday life. You are still living, even though it may be out of a car. I packed all our medicine in one bag, and it’s easily accessible, to include bandaids. I’m keeping our sunscreen and bug spray in the car door pocket. We don’t have to hunt for that at all, and it’s easy to slather on and then put right back in the door pocket. Cell phone and computer chargers; toothbrush chargers (if you use an electric one); contact solution; EXTRAS of things like contacts; bandaids; even Dramamine in case someone’s head/tummy isn’t as suited to cross-country travel as you’d like. It’s easier to have this stuff on hand than to assume you’ll be able to get it if you need it.

Since we’re schooling, I made sure to pack extra pencils, a pencil sharpener, a tiny stapler (it was cute, that’s really the only reason), a hole punch, a ruler, magnifying glasses, etc. I should have packed a portable printer, but who knew I’d have so much problems with trying to get something printed out! (See tip #1)

6. Be flexible and let the little stuff go. It adds years to your life. Really. Even if it’s school related. If you’ve been homeschooling for any amount of time you know that they obtain the information sooner or later. So what if you wanted to cover the Ocean Biome while you were at the ocean, but didn’t get around to it. When we do get around to reviewing it my girls will have first hand experience with the ocean and will be able to remember that. It will still be meaningful.


I’ve forgotten any other observations I might have made. I’ll add those in another update. I’d like to show you soon how we set up our “school room” in the car. I need to get pictures of that. . .

Happy roadschooling!
    Not So SAHM

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Driving through Atlanta

Roadschooling East to West Coast

Lately it has been my desire to do more roadschooling – traveling with the intent of learning while we’re on the go. This summer I GET TO DO JUST THAT – in an EPIC way for us. We are moving from the East Coast to the West Coast. And we’re taking three weeks to make the drive. 18 states! 21 days! What better time to get some schooling in than during the hours that we’ll be driving AND with all the sites that we’ll be passing.

Driving through Atlanta

Driving through Atlanta

I took several months to plan out the curriculum. Naturally, the places we’ll be going to and the experiences they’ll have will provide a lot of education in and of themselves. I wanted to make sure, though, that we were getting specific subjects in as we traveled. To do this, I mind mapped what I was sure I wanted them to learn. I then spent lots of time online compiling information, finding worksheets to use, and creating my own.

Here are the things we’re working on:

  • I created a “daily page” that would work on each day. It includes copywork, some math work (deals with our gas each day),
  • I created a state page for each state we’ll be driving through. The girls have to find the state tree, flower, and bird, the motto, the date of statehood, the number of electoral votes, etc. We’re going to try to taste local food from each place we go, so there’s also a place for them to record the food they tried.
  • They’re going to journal on most days about what they did and what their favorite parts of the day were.
  • We’re also going to learn about:
    • the earth’s layers
    • the continents and oceans
    • the countries of North America
    • the 50 states
    • the 5 biomes of the earth
    • the 8 eco-regions of the USA
    • the water cycle
    • the rock cycle and rock identification
    • caverns and bats
    • the Grand Canyon
    • the Hoover Dam

The girls each have an atlas so they can plot our progress and learn about the states. They’ve got a map to mark off license plates that they see. They’ve got some grammar pages to work on each day. We’ve got audio books to listen to. And, of course, we have the Barbies.

WHEW! It seems overwhelming and I’m not sure how it’s all going to actually pan out. I hope to document each day as we go along. The key is to be flexible and know that, even if we don’t get everything covered that I had planned they still ARE learning.

Pictures are coming soon of our school bins, folders, and days!

Jamestown Settlement Not so SAHM

Roadschool – Yorktown and Jamestown

This past week was Homeschool Week at Yorktown and Jamestown. We’ve been before, but Ash was too young to remember, and you can always use a refresher course on historical events, right? We spent one day at Yorktown and the next day at Jamestown.

Reading the Declaration of Independence with General Washington Not so SAHM

Reading with General Washington

Jamestown Settlement Not so SAHM


The Yorktown Victory Center now consists of a middle-class-size colonial farm, a field camp to portray the revolutionary war events, and an indoor museum. It’s all very hands on!

Combing Cotton at Yorktown Victory Center Not So SAHM

Carding Cotton

Learning about flax at Yorktown Victory Center Not so SAHM

Flax – start to finish

Colonial gardening at Yorktown Victory Center

Colonial gardening

Colonial bread toaster Not so SAHM

What is it?!

One daughter took a class on “Colonial Life” and learned about the different chores, clothing, housing, etc of kids and adults back then. The other daughter took a class called “The Life of a Private” where she learned what it was like to be in General Washington’s army during the Revolutionary War. Later in the day we took a Guided Tour through all the facilities where we all learned about farm life and war life.

Revolutionary war camp at Yorktown Victory Center Not So SAHM

new conscripts

Revolutionary medicine at Yorktown Victory Center Not so SAHM

tooth ache?

The one thing we didn’t do this time was the driving tour around the expansive battlefield. There is a CD you can purchase and listen to as you drive that explain the different positions Washington’s and Cornwallis’ armies took.

The Jamestown Settlement is a living history museum in the outdoors and a very large indoor museum. Both are hands on. The actual historical site of Jamestown is down the road and there is still archaeological digging and research going on (there is a separate entrance fee). So much so, that whenever they find new information that differs from what they previously thought, they will tear down the “re-enactment” and rebuild it to be historically correct. We walked through an Indian village, a ship (so small!), and the reproduction Jamestown settlement.

Learning about the Jamestown Settlers at the Jamestown Settlement Not So SAHM

Learning about the Jamestown settlers

Learning how to clean a deer skin at Jamestown Settlement Not So SAHM

using every part of the deer

Making rope at Jamestown Settlement Not So SAHM

Twisting rope

Digging out a canoe at Jamestown Settlement Not So SAHM

Canoe making!

Reenactment ships at Jamestown

Ships at Jamestown

Using a Traverse Board at Jamestown Settlement Not So SAHM

learning how to plot navigation

Inside the Jamestown Settlement Not So SAHM

Inside the settlement

Instead of having the girls do their “regular” school work, I planned on doing several activities while we were there that would incorporate subjects like math, writing, reading, and science. Some were more successful than others.

SCIENCE: Reagan is studying birds in science right now (Apologia’s Zoology I) so I took my camera and a field guide with the intention of taking pictures of all the different birds we saw and looking them up in the field guide. Well, we saw very few birds, and they were mostly in mid-flight, so I didn’t get very many pictures. I was most successful in our grandparents’ backyard at the bird feeder. . . Also, we haven’t had a chance to look at the pictures yet. So we’ll have a bit of delayed gratification next week when I can pull up the pictures on a computer and they can flip through the field guide to identify the birds.

MATH: The Jamestown website has a lot of great curriculum ideas, and I printed out several of those to use. One of them incorporated math by discussing jettons, what they were and how they were used as counting tools. It was geared towards Ashlyn’s grade level (2nd), but Reagan (6th) still had fun figuring out the problems that were on the sheet. I had also planned to do some spontaneous math and ask Ashlyn to do some adding and subtracting with different dates and facts, but that never happened.

WRITING: I had wanted the girls to write down each day about the favorite thing they learned that day, their least favorite, etc. It’s hard, though, to get school done when you’re visiting relatives. After we left Yorktown we went to the grandparents’ house and not a single one of us thought about school until the next morning.

ART: See above.

There were several activities that I had printed out that we didn’t get to. I still want to do them so I plan on fitting them in next week. One that we did do, and I think the girls enjoyed, was the kids’ museum guide. We used the guide as we walked through the indoor museum to find objects and answer questions. That gave the girls an objective and helped them to feel like we weren’t going to be indoors all day.

And Ashlyn just reminded me, the cafe at the Jamestown Settlement was “the best she had ever been to”.

Williamsburg is just a couple miles down the road, but we were there recently so we didn’t go back during this visit. I met a family from Texas who was visiting the area for a week, and they were going to do all three (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) and then drive up to DC (about 3 to 10 hours away depending on traffic). If you’ve never been to the Historic Triangle this needs to be on your short list of places to visit.
   Not So SAHM

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Young daughter sweeping

Cleaning and Homeschooling Don’t Mix…Do They?

Preconceived notion about being a SAHM:

“Since you stay at home all day your house should be clean. All the time.”

That is a preconceived notion I myself have but only about myself. Not towards any other SAHMs, oddly enough. I expect that every other mom is so busy with her kids that her house won’t be neat and tidy and dust free all the time. But for some reason I hold myself to a different standard.

For years I’ve tried to incorporate a daily cleaning schedule into our homeschool schedule. It would be nice for the girls to know how a duster works. Or a vacuum cleaner. Or why there’s a brush with a long handle standing next to the toilet and what the business end is used for. Cleaning and homeschooling just don’t seem to mix at this house. I’m so ready to press on to the school work that most days I just say “forget it!” with the cleaning.

Young daughter sweeping

Cinderella #1

And that’s when I had a genius, aha! moment. I had forever been trying to schedule it in the morning, right after breakfast and before devotions and school. Move the cleaning to the evening!

My theory was that we’d be done with school, and I would be in the kitchen preparing dinner, so the girls could do a chore a day during that kitchen prep time. OMG, it’s been such a miserable failure. We just can’t. seem. to. clean. Any time of the day. Even if we happen to be home that day/evening.

Our house is rarely a huge dump because we’re pretty good at putting things back where they belong. But little things start to creep and get left out. My external hard drive will be sitting by the couch for weeks. I don’t have the heart to make the girls clean the Barbie world that they have created in the middle of the living room.  And the dust begins to build up. And maybe a bathroom doesn’t get cleaned for a while. And the crumbs build up under the table. Am I airing too much of my dirty laundry? I’m embarrassed so we’ll stop there.

Young girl mopping

Cinderella #2

I have realized that the only thing that really kicks my butt into gear is one word:


When company’s coming over, the house gets cleaned. Except for that stray spider web hanging over the fireplace I just saw this morning. . .

I actually know the answer to my dilemma. Discipline. I lack self discipline in certain areas of my life. Eating healthy foods. Exercising. Going to bed at a decent hour (but really, decent is a subjective term). And cleaning. Who likes to do any of those things?

Wait.a.minute. My   husband   likes   to   do   all   of   those   things. . . Maybe I should be the one going to work and he should be the one staying home. . .

Well, I’ve solved it! We’ll have a consistently clean house when my hubby is the one staying home! AND the kids would probably be smarter because he likes playing with them so he’d make the learning more fun.

Case closed. Preconceived notion not necessarily debunked, but deferred and projected.

          Not So SAM

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homeschool break, spring break, kids playing in yard Not So SAHM

We took the week off! (Homeschool scheduling)

It wasn’t obvious to me when I first started scheduling our school years that I needed to add in some REGULAR break time. I wanted to do school for about 180 days, and in my flawed thinking, the faster we got that done, the sooner our summer could begin. Forget the love of learning; forget school fatigue; forget appointments; forget beautiful false spring days in the middle of winter where we just want to play outside.

I was so married to this schedule. Each week was a struggle to keep pushing towards the arbitrary goal I had set. And there was nothing to look forward to. Not only was I burned out, but my daughter, the main reason for all this, was hating school. Ugh.

Sometimes things are so obvious, yet I’m just stuck with my initial plan that it’s hard to see the forest for the trees. I had to allow myself to give ourselves breaks during the school year. To accept that our school year would extend past 36 calendar weeks. I laugh now thinking about that. You all are probably thinking it’s so idiotic to not do that to begin with. Homeschooling is about flexibility, and I always have touted that, but I wasn’t allowing myself to be flexible.

What we’re trying this year is to school for six weeks and then take a week off. I am LOVING it. The weeks go by so quickly that it seems like we’re always just a week or two away from a break. At first I was hesitant to really play up the break weeks. I want the girls to love schooling and so I didn’t want them to love the break weeks more. But even when we’re doing something we love it’s always nice to take a break and do something different, right? And the bonus is I have a week to recharge my batteries, review what we’ve been doing, and make any necessary changes to our school days, curriculum, etc. if necessary.

homeschool break, spring break, kids playing in yard Not So SAHM

Break from homeschool, kids playing in the yard – Not So SAHM

A friend of mine, who has chosen to school year round runs a four weeks on/one week off schedule. I’d be willing to try this if we were able to school year round. Right now we are moving just about every summer and I’m not at the point where I’m willing to school during those moves. . . although we *will* be roadschooling this summer when we move, and that’s something I’m going to blog about more in the near future!

Schedules are beneficial to most homeschool families. Unschoolers or families with very young kids probably don’t work within the confines of a schedule. I’ve come to realize that a flexible schedule helps me to stay organized and on track–with our school work and with our breaks!

What is your “school work to break time” ratio within your homeschool schedule? I’d love to hear how different ratios help different families.

P.S. The picture above is from a break from last spring. I don’t think I took any pictures during this last break week!
      Not So SAHM

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