Super Busy at Home

Family blog about homeschooling, autism, saving money, mom blog, travel, vacation, budgeting.

North Chicagoland

Waukegan, Illinois. Do you even know where this place is? If not, you should! This is a great hub for all things between Chicago and Milwaukee.

That being said, there isn’t much to do IN Waukegan. We stay there and there are a couple of fun things we have found to do but outside of that we travel around the area for most of our happy, happy, fun times.

For about the past three years, once or twice a year, we find ourselves in this area, traveling with Nick for work and working on trying to figure out what types of things there are to do in the area.

One of the most built up areas around Waukegan is Gurnee Mills. If you are from the Midwest you’ve probably heard of Gurnee Mills: its largest claims to fame are 1) Six Flags Great America, and 2) The Gurnee Mills Outlet Mall, one of the largest outlet malls in the nation.

Aside from those things, some widely known chain restaurants, and various car dealerships, I’m not sure there is much else in Gurnee. And so I began what is apparently to be a lifelong quest to find things to do in the Gurnee/Northern Illinois/Southern Wisconsin area.

Traveling with our kids, mind you. Here is what we have found:

Yummy Food

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The Shanty-

The fisherman wharf style of restaurant was a huge hit with our kids. The kids prices were very reasonable and their appetizer platter was a huge hit with all of us. Make sure you try their fresh (piping hot!) bread with their olive oil…this was an amazing and fruity oil that was a great start to our amazing meal.

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Dockside Ice Cream-

We love stopping here for a cone or two and then taking a walk along the water to see the ducks and fish. It’s always a nice way to end the evening and have some family time. There is a large cement pier that you can walk out on and see the bay…very pretty at sunset!

O’Tooles of Libertyville

has amazing fish and chips and is a super relaxed atmosphere. They always decorate for the seasons or for holidays so it’s a lot of fun to visit and hang out each time we’re up there.

Nature

Illinois Beach State Park

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located in Zion, Illinois is such a fun getaway from the hustle and busltle you can sometimes feel on the crowded interstates of Chicagoland. We loved the beach and our future geologist loved all of the smooth stones it offered to look at. There are also plenty of hilking trails and a nature center.

Chicago Botanical Gardens

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This free garden is massive and one of the best in the world! It can easily take you a day to meander through all of the different displays. Fun fact is that Nick is also a landscape architect so this is a legit place to us. Nick came up to the gardens in college on field trips because it is so wonderfully made. The gardens are free to visit but you pay for parking. This garden is located on the North side of Chicago which is very close to Waukegan since Waukegan is a suburb of Chicago.

Fun Places

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Bowen Park

This park in Waukegan is one of the top playgrounds in the nation and will help your kiddos to get their wiggles out…guaranteed! We love the large spider web maze and the gigantic playground structure with slides that go underground! This is a seriously cool playground!

Bricks 4 Kidz

If you find yourself in the area you have to check it out! It was so much fun and we had a blast creating and putting together different ideas. This would also be a perfect rainy day activity.

Downtown Libertyville, Illinois

This is a fun downtown to explore with a historic feel, lots of shopping, and fun restaurants to try!

Where to Stay

We love the Springhill Suites in Waukegan

The rooms are nice and spacious with a mini kitchen and a separate living room space from the bedroom area. Another nice feature of this hotel (not all Springhill’s have this but most do): they have two rooms for the bathroom. One room has a sink and toilet, another room has a sink and shower. This makes it so nice for families when you are traveling because there are two places to change, two places to brush your teeth, and two mirrors to get ready at. So, so lovely!

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8th Grade Curriculum Choices for 2019/2020

As much as writing about our choices for Cal’s 6th Grade Year made me feel old, Emma being in the 8th grade makes me feel straight up ancient.

It’s been so fun though to watch her grow and mature through the years and I just couldn’t be prouder of her than I am!

8th Grade Curriculum for our 2019/2020 Homeschool Year.

And this girl is such a beauty, on the inside and the out. The boys are starting to notice too so Nick will definitely have his hands full in the coming years, I am sure.

This year after a lot of praying and debating we decided to stick with Classical Conversation again this year. In the end we decided to stick with CC and Emma just started her year in the Challenge B leve.

A lot of her curriculum is what they have chosen however the majority of it is not specifically a CC resource meaning that even if you are not part of Classical Conversations you may glean some of these resources from here and decide to use some of them with your kids.

That being said, here is what we are using:

Writing: The Lost Tools of Writing

Emma used this book last year as well. It seems to be a wonderful program however, we got a little busy last year with travel and felt like we got a bit lost in the program (see that pun? lol). This year we are gearing up to use the program again and I am trying to get a better handle on understanding the program so it will be smooth sailing all year long.

History: Story of the World, Volume 2: The Middle Ages

I dislike that Classical Conversations does not have an actual history program beyond the 6th grade. While I understand that they use literature to facilitate discussions involving history, I think there needs to be an intense study when the students are older about the cultural and psychological changes that take place among people and entire populations of countries surrounding the timeline of events. I find that to be something that is both fascinating and important in understanding the world.

To compensate for that we will be using The Story of the World. While this is really basic for Emma I think it will serve as an easy read that can them propel us onto deeper reading if time allows or at least to create opportunities for deeper discussion.

So we will be using the softcover chapter book by Susan Wise Bauer (the history reads like a story which we all LOVE!) and the Activity Book. There is an audio book of this available as well as tests. We don’t use either of those materials though.

Latin: Henle Latin, First Year

In true Classical Education fashion we will be doing Henle Latin for the second year. We started doing year one last year and will go through it again this year. Last year I felt like we started with a good base of knowledge based on doing Latin before we joined CC but as the year progressed we started knowing less and less as it got harder and harder. It was very graceful for us to know that we will be studying the same material this year, hopefully understanding and learning more through this second time around.

We will be using the paperback book, the Grammar book, and the answer key.

Typing: Jump Start Typing

This is an older program. Honestly I think I may have purchased it from a Scholastic Book Order when Emma was in preschool (gulp!) but it is still available. It works really well for us and is game formatted which both kids have enjoyed.

Science:

We will be following the CC weeks of Science and adding materials in that pertain to each week.

We will also continue with Kiwi Crates because the kids love doing those. So excited to do experiments with our kiddos who LOVE science! We are so blessed. Allow me to just randomly interject that little statement.

Geography:

We will be following the Story of the World’s maps as well as tracing maps that go along with Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations.

Math: Saxon Algebra 1/2

In total mom confession mode here I am going to share with you that I hardly ever do math with Emma. Maybe once a week. She gets it, her homework problems show that, and reading the work herself proves to help her understand the information better than me reading it to her or working it out with her.

However, we are starting to get to the point where I am going to have to actually do it with her. She is starting to have questions that for the most part I’ve been able to look at the book and figure it out but I can see that I am standing on the edge of the land where that just isn’t going to cut it anymore.

So this year I am planning on doing math with her. Sitting down and doing it myself. We homeschoolers call this “redeeming our education” meaning that we are relearning things that, let’s be honest, no one wanted to learn the first time around.

Other Activities Emma will be in:

Youth Group

Ballet

Piano


We will be adding in unit studies as we can and nature studies here and there as we have time.

So I’m curious. What are your curriculum recommendations? I love having new ideas so comment below!

I hope you have a lovely school year. Give me all of the coffee is what I’m feeling like right about now towards school, lol.



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Learning Time Management...even with Autism and ADHD!

Y’all. I’ve got to tell you. I love my kids. I think they are the coolest, most amazing kids ever. This is how moms are supposed to be, right? We all think this about our kids which I think is so amazing about mothers and motherhood. We all have these rose-colored kid glasses on and we think our kids are great and we know that our kids can do anything they want. This is how love should be. This is what love looks like.

I say all of this in the midst of the early morning while they both are snoozing upstairs. Yesterday was a peaceful day of laundry (on my part) and playing (on their part) and we all ended the day being snuggly and wonderfully happy. Summer days are wonderful for this kind of relaxation in schedule and in losing track of time.

But…

Not all days are like this. So many days are hard and painful. Difficult and stupid. Those are the days when things do not go as planned and when all of our expectations are not met.

As I have done this for years now, the ebb and flow of life itself, I have taken the time to step back and evaluate what makes the bad days bad in an effort to correct and tweak. Any corrections can make bad days better. That is what life is about.

One of the biggest things that I have discovered makes our bad days horrible is a lack of time management. We are all given the same amount of time in each day and no matter what we do, there is no way to obtain more time. There is no rollover plan. We can’t take hours from a lazy day and use them on a day when things are hectic and crazy. It doesn’t work that way. The only thing we can do is to figure out how to manage our time to make the most out of our days and to get the most done or to do our best with the time that we have.

We all have different ways that we manage our time. I know that I am obsessed with my planner and am even more so when times are hectic. However, not everyone works that way.

Emma tends to have a lot of the same brain wiring as I do. Some things are different though. For Calvin, things are a lot different than me. Which isn’t a bad thing but for me I have to work actively to come up with things to try to help him manage his time better. Some things work well and others do not. Like life, it is all trial and error. Thankfully after being a mom for 13 years I’ve figured out some things that work.

5 minutes, 3 minutes, 1 minute remaining

Since my kids were little I’ve done this. I’ve noticed as they have aged they’ve been able to start doing feeling this on their own. When I tell them 5 minutes are remaining they can pretty well gauge when that time is up. When I tell them one minute is left they can feel when they need to be done with their time and move on.

Enter the visual timer

Especially when the kids were younger and couldn’t tell time very well (or at all!) we used this all of the time. Now we enjoy using it for things like piano practice and other things that they may not particularly enjoy doing every time and therefore the time seems to forever drag on. I enjoy that there is a feature for the light to turn to from green to yellow to red so there is a middle time and they can kind of gauge their time remaining using those.

Magic Toothbrush App

So this is of course for teeth brushing only but we like it to manage time spent on teeth brushing. This is an app where you push the go button and a toothbrush starts to clean foam from the screen to reveal a picture. Where the brush on the screen is brushing shows you were you should be brushing in your mouth. We love it! I love that I can know my kids are spending enough time brushing their teeth when they use it rather than 22 seconds and then they try to be done.

A Planner

This one is only for Emma…so far. I might try to get Calvin on the planner train but right now I think it would be more work than it would be helpful.

Emma on the other hand LOVES her planner. I surprised her when June camps were over with a new student Happy Planner. She uses it all of the time. It is a fun thing that her and I do together. We like to sit down and put stickers in our books and think of all of the ways to decorate. It’s an outlet for our creativity and it forces us to think of what is coming up in the upcoming days and to really focus and plan for things. It also has helped us to live intentionally through our life which I love. For time management it has helped her because she writes down all of her homework and activities to do and can visually see what all she needs to get done. It has helped her to not put things off until later that night and then forget she had plans and become frustrated.

Emma struggles with ADHD. With girls it is sometimes so hard to discern. With Emma her struggle with time management manifests itself in her becoming so, so frustrated with herself. It is hard to watch her beat herself up about missing deadlines or over committing herself to projects. The planner has really helped her and has helped me to aide her.

The Old School or Cell Phone Timer

Just a classic timer has helped us so much. Before things could take the kids forever. Now I will put a timer on for, say 30 minutes, and whatever math they get done in that time is what we get done. If I feel they didn’t put much effort into their work then I will start doling out homework but for the most part they work hard and stay diligent in their tasks. This gives them the peace of mind to only have to do math for 30 minutes and doesn’t make them frustrated when math takes them 2 hours and they still have a whole day of work to do.

Garmin Vivofit Jr.

We purchased one of these for Emma for Christmas. She had been begging for one.

We finally caved and I must say that we have been really happy with it. It has a stop watch feature and a timer She uses the time feature all of the time and I love that is has an alarm.

We will have her set it when they have electronic time so they know when their time is up. For her classes in homeschooling I will give her an amount of time to work on something and she sets the timer.

It also has reminders for chores and other things which helps her to keep on task and to remember what she needs to be doing.


So those are the things that our family uses to help us stay on task and help our kids with time management. Who am I kidding? And us! I use the cell phone timer ALL of the time!

If you have pointers or tips for things that help your family manage time better, please let me know! I am always looking for things that will help us to live more intentionally and use our time the best we can!

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Helping Kids to Manage their time in school and throughout their day to live intentionally.













Cottage Details

My last post about the cottage was the tour of how we are almost done with the interior! We are so in love with our favorite spot and love to go there to get away. If you missed that post you can read it all here and see what we have done with the place!

I thought I would get a little more in depth and talk a bit more about decor and pieces that I have picked up along the way that I love. The feel of the cottage that I am going for is acquired. I don’t want a feel that we went and bought everything new but rather I am going with a collection of pieces and momentos that we love, that bring us joy, and that will give the place a curated feel like it’s been in our family for generations rather than a few years. To do this I look for pieces everywhere: at thrift stores, flea markets, my grandma’s house, and things that we have at our house.

I will also say that by doing it this was it is such a neat experience to see how God provides. For example, this summer we have been getting serious about stocking our kitchen with more gadgets that we need while not going overboard. After all I don’t want a ton of items to have to take care of, put away, and weed through when I am looking for something. Not cool. However necessities like a pizza cutter and an ice cream scoop have proven to be missing items that are desperately needed, especially when you have kiddos. Well, I didn’t want to go and spend a ton of money on buying a bunch of stuff. I wanted this to be a thing of collecting items. It was hard to go without but I knew the pieces would come. Sure enough, last week I was at my moms and she was giving a bunch of kitchen gadgets away. She pretty much had everything that we needed for the cottage.

All of that to say, we are going slow with filling in the gaps of needed items, knowing that we have all the time in the world and that God will provide in His time.

All that to say I am thrilled to be able to show you a few of my favorite details of the place:

Our favorite details about our tiny lake cottage! It's all in the details, right?

Nick built these shelves next to the kids bunk beds (they are a total mess in this photo but you get the idea) and we love them! He built them out of salvaged lumber from a bookshelf that was in the office of my childhood pastor. How cool is that? The biggest obstacle we’ve had to face with having a tiny place is the lack of storage. There just isn’t room for furniture to store things so we’ve had to be really creative. The shelves have really helped to keep all of the kids things at bay and provide them a solid sense of belonging in their bedroom.

Our favorite details about our tiny lake cottage! It's all in the details, right?

Hello my name is Lindsay and I am sucker for fun towels. Seriously, give me all of the towels. It’s a real problem, folks. I love this one I picked up in Middlebury, Indiana.

Our favorite details about our tiny lake cottage! It's all in the details, right?

I picked this pillow up at an antiques store in Nappanee, Indiana. The color scheme for our cottage is gray, blue, white, and a teeny bit of green. So this fits in great. I love it because my Grandpa was in the Navy at Great Lakes. This is totally something he would have sent home to my Grandma. It is so special to me because of that.

Our favorite details about our tiny lake cottage! It's all in the details, right?

Does anyone else love old boxes for storage or is it just me? This box holds a lot of the kids toys and books…and a shirt apparently.

We found this cold brew coffee press at Bloomingdales and love, love, love it! It works so well, the coffee tastes great, and there have been no grounds in the coffee. This has been perfect for super hot days. Also, I love these cute cups we found at Homegoods and gifted ourselves at Christmas (does anyone else do this???). Sorry guys but I scoured the internet for ours and can’t find them, but I adore these and think they would be a great gift idea!

Our favorite details about our tiny lake cottage! It's all in the details, right?

This fan was a Goodwill find but was a really ugly taupey kind of brown color. Nick spray painted it and now it is so fun. All of the windows that face the lake are in our kitchen so sometimes it gets toasty over there while cooking. The fan helps provide just a touch of a breeze.

Our favorite details about our tiny lake cottage! It's all in the details, right?

I adore our dishes. They are vintage Corelle and they belonged to my late Grandma Wannie. They are one of my most treasured possessions. They make me think of her every time we use them.

The blue dishes on the right were a gift from the sweetest Mother-in-Law ever and I just love them. They were a wedding gift they received and I love using them. They are fun for desserts with friends and other snackys.

Our indoor/outdoor rug was the most expensive decoration we bought for the cottage ($60!) but it has been perfect. It helps it is indoor/outdoor because it can be scrubbed or even thrown into the washing machine. I found one that is pretty darn close here if you like ours.


So those are some of my favorite little details of the cottage! I am always looking for tiny house storage ideas so if you have any pointers or tips for how we can keep clutter at bay, I’d love some ideas!

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6th Grade Curriculum Choices for 2019/2020

Eep, y’all, can time please stand still? I don’t know how I became the mom of a 6th Grader who is my baby but I’m pretty sure someone is going to quickly realize I’m really only 15.

6th Grade Curriculum for our 2019/2020 Homeschool Year.

At least that is still how I feel. Is there a medical condition for never feeling like you are growing up and still feeling completely inadequate to adult? What is that called? Because I have that.

Needless to say Calvin is going in to the 6th grade or perhaps we should call it 6th grade-esque. We are after all homechoolers, folks. You know how we like to be all loosey-goosey with those rules.

This is the first year in a while that I am not changing everything under the sun for Cal in a wild effort to find something, anything that will help the kid to learn. Can we all get a Hallelujah because I am one happy momma that I am not having to spend hours reading scope and sequences for curriculum and compare them and stalk people on the interwebs who have used said curriculum to see if their children look relatively uncouthed from the curriculum or if it has changed them and not for the better. Like Becky Sue with that mule. Cross eyed one minute, straight back the next. Don’t buy curriculum that’s like the mule, folks.

All that to say I feel free but like I should be doing something. I choose to ignore that feeling most of the time and instead watch more Hulu. Hulu and I are friends.

As promised, today I’m sharing our 6th Grade Curriculum picks, so let’s get to it!

Here is our curriculum line up for this year.

Writing: IEW Medieval History-Based Writing 

Grammar: Essentials of the English Language

(Available to purchase if you are in the Classical Conversations Essentials Program). If we were not in the CC Program we would be doing First Language Lessons or Rod and Staff English. We’ve used both in the past and I really liked both of them.

History: Story of the World, Volume 2: The Middle Ages

We will be using the softcover chapter book by Susan Wise Bauer (the history reads like a story which we all LOVE!) and the Activity Book. There is an audio book of this available as well as tests. We don’t use either of those materials though.

Latin: Latina Christiana Level 1

Typing: Jump Start Typing

This is an older program. Honestly I think I may have purchased it from a Scholastic Book Order when Emma was in preschool (gulp!) but it is still available. It works really well for us and is game formatted which both kids have enjoyed.

Science:

We will be following the CC weeks of Science and adding materials in that pertain to each week.

We will also continue with Kiwi Crates because the kids love doing those. So excited to do experiments with our kiddos who LOVE science! We are so blessed. Allow me to just randomly interject that little statement.

Geography:

We will be following the Story of the World’s maps as well as tracing maps that go along with Cycle 2 of Classical Conversations.

We tried about 5 different math curriculums with Cal (that just made me think that maybe I’ll talk about that sometime) before we found this curriculum. It plays really, really well with the autism because it is very large concept thinking. Things that I never would have thought of. It’s also extremely out of the box thinking which seems to help pull Calvin in and keep him challenged on a fun level rather than being bored with the work. I highly recommend this math curriculum!

Other Activities Cal will be in:

Awana

Pottery

Piano

Parkour


We will be adding in unit studies as we can and nature studies here and there as we have time.

So I’m curious. What are your curriculum recommendations? I love having new ideas.

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6th Grade Curriculum for our 2019/2020 Homeschool Year.
6th Grade Curriculum for our 2019/2020 Homeschool Year.