Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013 In Review

2013 was an interesting year for us here at Homeschool Campers. We began our year in Paducah, KY and ended it in Marine City, MI. Blessings in health were bestowed upon members of our family and happiness is now a more regular thing. So, sit back and join me in a quick tour of our year in review.

January found us enjoying winter temperatures that none of the campers were used to. I'd personally enjoyed them as a teenager when I'd previously lived in Kentucky, but no one else had. Yes, it was a bit chilly and we did get a few inches of snow but it was no where close to what we had experienced in Michigan. It was difficult to keep those winter coats on children who felt that 40+ degrees just wasn't that cold for winter weather. We discovered a few empty shacks in the woods during our nature walks and Younger Cracker Jack lost a new tooth! Daddy was in the throws of treatment for an illness that had us fearing we'd loose him (well, the girls didn't know what was going on). Each day was an attempt to make things as "normal" as possible. Elder Cracker Jack turned 11 that month and for the first time ever opted for a Boston Creme Cake (his Dad's favorite).

 February found us visiting the Paducah riverfront murals more often. Peanut had just received her new glasses (after having to deal with glasses that were horribly scratched for several months) and she could suddenly see again. Though we'd been there often she was seeing everything for the first time all over again. More nature walks in the nearby woods finding more abandoned shacks. Elder Cracker Jack was very sure that these had once been used by hunters in the area and then just left to fall apart for whatever reason.

March found us returning to Michigan a bit earlier in the year than we had intended. Several months of camping in a 1970's 30 foot pull behind camper had taken it's toll on said camper and it was in desperate need of repair. Daddy had been given an almost clean bill of health and permission to leave so long as he checked back in when he was supposed to for follow up visits on his treatments (we're now, as of Sept., only due for yearly check ups). We moved into Grandma's house temporarily while we searched for a new home in Michigan. Peanut loved finding snow on the ground when we arrived, she'd missed making her snow angels. Brand new Easter outfits and Easter mass and day being spent with Grandma and Papa have long been a tradition.

April seemed to drag on forever. There were doctor appointments for Daddy, set up by his doctor in Nashville with a doctor in Michigan. The exhaustive house hunt was still continuing and we thought it would never end. School was almost an afterthought while we looked. Oh, they all learned all that they were supposed to be learning but there was not set schedule to their days. At any moment we could drop everything and go look at another house. Near the middle of the month we finally found the house that we thought would be the perfect fit. By the end of the month we had signed the papers and paid our money, ready for a new beginning.

May found us spending the first ten days in the campground less than fifteen minutes from our new home while we repaired plumbing. Nearly half the pipes in the home had burst over the winter and just after we'd signed our papers someone had broken in and taken the hot water heater! It could have been done far more quickly we're sure but we only spent a few hours each day at the house and the rest of the day we relaxed at the campground, nature walks filled our afternoons and bonfires filled our nights. After moving in we were delighted to discover deer in the farmer's field next to our home. It's been a pleasure ever since watching as the fawns grew and the deer gained weight and height. YCJ turned 8 that month and was super excited. Another super exciting moment was Buddy graduating from pre-teen to teen! The wonders (and parental terrors) of a thirteen year old.

In June we spent many hours in parks. Climbing and sliding were the best things ever. YCJ began her struggle with learning how to finish the monkey bars on her own. We did very little school this month as we adapted to life in more than 240 square feet (yes, that's how much room our camper gave us). Slowly we watched children unpack all the toys they hadn't seen in almost a year and watched the mess pile up on their bedroom floors. Being outside, however, was the order of the day almost every day. And Daddy was enjoying being able to be outside enjoying the children's play.

There were no real surprises in July. YCJ finally mastered the monkey bars and now acts more monkey than girl when she's at a playground. She can even cross the ones that ECJ has too much trouble with! We again spent most of our days outside during this time. ECJ began his review work to prepare him for Mom's test before being allowed to continue to sixth grade curriculum and we worked a few days a week on YCJ's reading. We still spent the majority of the time outside. Our poor, beloved camper was taken apart at this time. It had gotten to the point where it was beyond repair. It's still missed as the urge to go camp is always strong in all of us.

August was a flurry of activity compared to the rest of the summer. Spending a few Sunday's with Grandma (who is now almost 70 miles away from us) and going to mass. Trips to park down the road from her with the campers that aren't with us daily. Nature walks being implemented down the two track and beyond each week. ECJ taking a week's worth of testing that I'd planned to make sure he was "ready" for sixth grade work. Preparing our new home for daily school use, a few days a week is not the same as every day and needs some prep work. 

September began the "official" start of the school year. We continued with nature walks, "discovered" the water front parks of our little town, and began our lessons in earnest. Each day, though busy, was more relaxed and happy than we'd experienced the year before in our homeschool. I was more confident and they were more willing to learn as our routine took the place of the unfamiliar. This was also the month that Peanut turned a whole hand! Baby Girl also turned 12 this month (plus, now she's almost my size!)


October was a super busy month. There was our quick, partial kitchen remodel due to finding new cabinets for $35 and a dishwasher for $40. In less than 72 hours my kitchen went from non functioning (I hated not having cupboard doors) to nearly complete. There's still a bit of work to be done, paint and a new window installed along with some cosmetic touches ... but I couldn't be happier at this point. We made jack-o-lanterns and pumpkin seeds, went on field trips and trick or treated, and lest we forget of course we did our lessons.

November was another busy month for us. It seemed like as fall was in full swing so was everything else. We spent a lot of time outdoors and making crafts in the house. And began our next large project of fixing up Peanut's room. All of this and schooling that a few years ago I would have never thought could have been accomplished unless the children were away at public school for several hours each day. 

And finally we come to December. A month full of remodeling, family, school, crafting, cooking, and fun. A full week off of school (if you don't count worksheets) and a lot of time spent with Baby Girl and Buddy. Our first Advent study and the first year we'd actually celebrated it as a family. 

This has been a year of firsts. A year of happiness. A year of blessings. We've learned how much we love and need each other. We've learned how to write (Peanut), type (ECJ), and "discovered" how to read (YCJ). We've made progress on our home and plans to complete it. We've set goals for the upcoming year and the years that follow after. The year held challenges and stress that we'd never before had to deal with (some of which we pray we never have to again). We learned that as a family we can do anything. The campers grew closer and for the most part enjoy each others company and help each other out. My marriage is stronger than it's ever been in the past. 

When I look back on the year 2013 I smile in happiness and shed just a couple of tears for all we went through. It had a rocky beginning and a wonderful ending. It's a year I will always remember.

But, boy, I'm really ready for 2014!

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