A Pretty Good Schedule

We struggled all of last year getting a good schedule for school. Cameron had seminary 6-6:50 am. When he got home, he’d go back to bed and wake up at some point to do all together work with his brothers. It never really worked.

This year, however, is so much better! This year, he has seminary 7:15-8:05 am. So much better. He walks to the church and back so he’s usually home by 8:15 or 8:20. While he’s at seminary I make breakfast and get the boys up for the day if necessary (they usually get up on their own before 8).

When Cameron gets home we eat breakfast while watching CNN10. Then we get to work on our all together work. During most weeks, normal 5 day weeks, we do history on Monday, geography on Tuesday, science on Wednesday, and the arts on Thursday. That makes Friday a short day. A bit of a reward for working so hard during the week.

All together work takes about 2 1/2-3 hours. The little guys have some together work Cameron doesn’t (religion and holidays). Once all of the all together work is done, they move on to their on their own work. Once they finish that, they are done for the day. So far, they’ve been finishing anywhere from 12-3:15 depending on the kid and the day.

Tuesdays and Thursdays Cameron teaches taekwondo 11-11:45. I don’t think he’ll be teaching in the mornings much longer, though, since school has started up again so most of the kids no longer attend that class so that part of our schedule may go away (or Cameron may take class himself). Sometimes the little guys take class, too. Since I have to take Cameron, Fritz works on his on his own work while I’m gone whether we’re done with all together work or not (Adrian still needs me for his on his own work so he gets a break while I am gone). Wednesdays Cameron goes to instructor training 10-12. I drop him off and pick him up, but in the middle, I work with the boys on their on their own work. All three of those days, we have lunch when we get home and then go back to work after lunch. Monday and Friday we have lunch about noon and then get back to work until they are done if necessary.

It’s nice having a good schedule for school. Even though it’s a little crazy with the three days of taekwondo stuff, it still is so much better than last year (which also included taekwondo class for all of us since for part of the year Fritz and I hadn’t gotten our black belts yet).

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Back to School

We went back to school today so, as usual, I took pictures and asked them some questions. This year is different, though, because now that Ani has graduated from high school, it’s just the three boys and me.

(See how they looked and what they said last year and the year before.)

Back to SchoolCameron
age 15 years 10 months, 10th grade
Favorite food: Food
Favorite movie: Baby Driver
Favorite book: Tunnel in the Sky
Favorite song: Stole the Show
Favorite subject: PE
Favorite activity: Sleeping
Favorite color: Pink
Height: 6’1″
Weight: 147 pounds
Wants to be when he grows up: Taekwondo instructor

Back to SchoolFritz
age 11 years 1 month, 6th grade
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite movie: None
Favorite book: Percy Jackson series
Favorite song: Goner
Favorite subject: Reading
Favorite activity: Gaming
Favorite color: Dark Blue
Height: 4′ 8′ 1/2″
Weight: 93.5 pounds
Wants to be when he grows up: Coast Guard nurse or medic

Back to SchoolAdrian
age 9 years 2 months, 4th grade
Favorite food: Potatoes
Favorite movie: None
Favorite book: None
Favorite song: Beauty and the Beast
Favorite subject: Math
Favorite activity: Science experiments
Favorite color: Yellow
Height: 4′ 3 1/2″
Weight: 71.5 pounds
Wants to be when he grows up: YouTuber

Bonus: Heather, age 39 years 4 months, teacher
Favorite food: Salad
Favorite movie: Miracle on 34th Street (original version)
Favorite book: Emerge series by Heather Sunseri
Favorite song: Pretty Woman by Roy Orbison
Favorite subject: History
Favorite color: Purple and sometimes green

NOT Back to School Day 2017

Somehow we’ve already reached the end of the summer and it’s time to go back to school. But, as is our tradition, today while kids all around us went to their first day of school, we played.

We started off with crepes, Nutella, and turkey bacon for breakfast.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

The went to Main Event and played some games. Space Invaders has gotten quite the modern update!
NOT Back to School Day 2017

We played some air hockey and skee ball. Those games can be pretty intense in our family.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

Giant Connect 4 turned out to be way more fun than you might think. And also pretty intense.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

Cameron picked up a pool cue and started doing the jahng bong form right in the middle of Main Event. (Note: Cameron hates this picture because his stance is awful because he was just playing around.)
NOT Back to School Day 2017

Fritz and Adrian attempted the gravity ropes. Several months ago, my brother came to visit and we went to Main Event. Adrian tried the gravity ropes, but he got too scared and came back down. This time he was determined to make it across. Fritz got too scared this time, but Adrian made it!
NOT Back to School Day 2017


(Video of Adrian being brave.)

We played a game of laser tag before we picked our prizes and headed out.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

We had pizza at Luciano’s for dinner. They have some of the most amazing pizza and their gluten free crusts are really good.
NOT Back to School Day 2017

We ended the day with shaved ice from Bahama Bucks. Fritz said he must be making a whole lot of dopamine because he was feeling so happy.
NOT Back to School Day 2017


Check out previous years’ Not Back to School Days: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016. (I missed blogging about Not Back to School Day in 2011 and they went to public school in 2013.)

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

This is part 2 of how we use OneNote. Part 1 was about how I use it as My Brain. Part 2 is on how we use it for school.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

I have five notebooks in my school section. The cleverly named School notebook is where I keep files and information I’ll need later. Together contains my lesson plans for the work the boys do together. Cameron, Fritz, and Adrian each have a notebook with their assignments for each day of school. Those notebooks are shared to their OneNote accounts so they can use them each school day (they get to choose how they access OneNote: computer, phone, or iPad).

I am currently spending most of my time in the 2017-18 tab in the School notebook. It’s where the lesson planning happens. The Subjects section in the 2017-18 tab has a page with a list of what we are using for each subject, a page with a running list of general school supplies I need to get as well as specific things I’ll need listed out by week, a page with specific needs (which are mostly food so cannot be bought before the week we’ll need them), and a page with our school year calendar. The Subject Notes page has links and passwords and other notes like what days of the week they do certain subjects.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

The answer keys for various subjects are each on separate pages in the 2017-18 tab. The answer keys for Latin (Fritz), Math (Fritz), and WWS1 – that’s Writing With Skill 1 – (Fritz) are attached pdfs.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

The rest of the answer keys, NLE/NME – that’s Latin and Mythology exam practice – (Fritz), CW1 – that’s Creative Writing 1 – (Cameron), and WWE3 – that’s Writing With Ease 3 – (Adrian), are written directly on the pages with no attachments.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

There are three reading pages, one for each boy. As I pre-read the books I assign to them, I come up with questions for them to answer. Their books are from what we are studying (usually history, but sometimes science or geography).

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

The final page in the 2017-18 tab is for Planning. I use that page kind of as a holding tank as I work through a subject in the Layers of Learning units. Once I’ve got a subject all planned and divided into two days worth, I copy and paste it onto the appropriate day in the Together notebook. Most of the time this page is blank and it will get deleted once planning for the year is done.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

Most of the remaining tabs in the School notebook are past assignments by Ani, Cameron, and Fritz. One tab holds their report cards and transcripts. The Files tab has pages for various things I use occasionally as well as my Layers of Learning Year 2 master plan.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

The Together notebook is for me to use during school. There is a tab for each month of the school year and then pages under each tab for every Monday through Friday of the month (school holidays are marked and have blank pages). Each page is my guide for what to do during together work time.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

The notebooks specifically for each boy tell them what to do each way. They are set up very much like the Together notebook. Their assignments for the day are all laid out for them.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

Some days there is additional information on their daily page for them to look at and refer to during all together work.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

In addition to the daily assignment tabs, they have some additional tabs. The Spelling tab has daily pages for the boys to record their personal misspelled words and also to take their weekly tests. The Interest Led tab is for them to work in however they want about whatever they want each day. The Writing tab has a page for each writing assignment they will complete over the course of the school year.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

Fritz’s notebook has two additional tabs. The WWS 1 tab has a page for each week’s worth of assignments. The Latin tab has a page for Memorization and a page for Vocabulary.

How We Use OneNote, Part 2: School

So that’s how we use OneNote for planning school, keeping school records, and as we go about our daily school activities. OneNote is an amazing tool for keeping us organized. (One more thing… the boys are color coded. Their folders and things have always been certain colors in school – orange for Cameron, blue for Fritz, yellow for Adrian, and green for Together – so I chose to make the notebook icons next to the names of the notebooks color coded with those colors as well.)

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I used a paper Bullet Journal, affectionately known as My Brain, for well over a year, but, then, a few months ago, I decided to go digital. I switched to OneNote (which I have on my laptop, phone, and iPad). In addition to everything I had in my paper Bullet Journal, I also use OneNote for school planning (which I’ll explain in part 2).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I use it the most to tell me what to do each day. Our planned meals and snacks, schedule, and my to do list are all on one page so I can see what I need to do when. I have the My Brain notebook shared with Jamie so he can see what we are doing and what’s on our schedule and add to it as needed.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

My to do list is color coded so if I have a few minutes I can just look at the colored section with tasks that are most convenient at that time. Red is in the physical world, blue is on my phone, green is on my computer, iPad, or phone, and purple is on my iPad. If I don’t get something done, I just move it to the next day (like on today’s list, I moved fold clothes and put away clothes from yesterday).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I have three notebooks that make up my digital Bullet Journal: My Brain, Recipes, and Journal. In My Brain, the My Day tab has several pages under it. Several of them are my calendar. They allow me to easily add things to my Today and Tomorrow pages. The Every Day, specific day of the week, and First of the Month pages are my to do lists for those days. I just copy and paste to add them to my Tomorrow page (which gets copy and pasted to today each morning). The RS Lesson Schedule page helps me keep track of what to read (in the Gordon B. Hinckley manual and Conference talks) each week to prepare for Relief Society.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I keep track of what I’m reading and what I’ve read in my Reading tab. The 2016 Books and 2017 Books pages are just running lists split by month of what books I read on what date and what rating I gave them (out of 5 stars). The Reading Challenges page is where I plan the books I’m reading each month this year to spell out the birthstones, what our book club books are, bedtime stories for the boys, school books, 52 Books Bingo, etc. My favorite page is Sentences That Made Me Laugh. That page has a bunch of quotes from books I’ve read that I found funny.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

The rest of the tabs in My Brain are Health which has pages for keeping track of Ani’s symptoms, what we are still owed from overpaying for some procedures she’s had, and the kids’ vaccine records. Blog Ideas is just one page of ideas for blog posts. Scouts which has pages for Fritz and Adrian with a list of things they need to complete for rank advancement. Sports has pages for our taekwondo schedule, a record of dates for earning belts and mid-terming, and Fritz’s times at swim meets. Church has pages for planning family home evening, my notes for General Conference (one page per Conference), my Personal Progress answers split by value, and a poem Ani wrote when she was around 12. Finances has pages with spreadsheets for our checking account, the kids’ money, our budget, and a list of 2017 pay days.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

I really love my Recipes notebook. Most of the time we use it just like a cookbook, reading the recipes off the iPad as we cook. The notebook is extremely useful every Wednesday. That’s the day I make our menus for the week. I go through the sections of recipes and pick the breakfasts, lunches, snacks, and dinners that sound good to me at the time. As I write down what we’ll be eating, I make our grocery list and note how the chicken will need to be cut. The grocery list is the used to order groceries from HEB (which Jamie picks up on his way home from work). I cut chicken once a week, on Wednesday night, so the gross bits can go out in the trash on Thursday morning (living in Texas, we definitely don’t want chicken sitting around very long).

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

My Journal notebook is mostly exactly what it sounds like. I copied my journals from 1999 on and divided them into years. Under the year sections, the journal entries are divided into months. I copy and paste all my Facebook posts including pictures into my journal. The AB Letters tab is where I wrote my letter to my aunt each week (it also gets sent to my mother-in-law). I keep her up to day on what’s going on in our lives. I’ve been keeping those letters since December. The Fun Stuff tab had a page for funny things people in the family have said. It’s probably no surprise to anyone that Adrian’s is the longest. I also have Adrian’s birth story, a page of things that happen that I am grateful for, and a page of things that blew my mind (like the fact Queen Victoria had a granddaughter who was still alive when I was born). The Christmas Letters tab has a copy of all of our annual Christmas letters (and one Valentine’s Day letter that year I was super late…) since 2007.

How We Use OneNote, Part 1: My Brain

So that’s how I use OneNote to be my brain. It totally keeps me organized. In a couple days I’ll post part 2 on how I use OneNote in our homeschool.

Magical Magic Birthday

Today Fritz turned 11 on the 11th making it his magic birthday. We always try to make the magic birthday extra special for our kids and it looks like we totally succeeded with this one. Fritz said no day can be perfect, but today was almost perfect.

Magical Magic Birthday

The 11th birthday is extra magical because, as JK Rowling taught us, that’s when kids learn they are a witch or wizard. Ever since Fritz read the Harry Potter series, he’s been hoping the magic world is real. For a while, there was an owl hanging around our house and he was pretty sure it was scouting out where we live for his upcoming birthday. Just like we did with Cameron almost 5 years ago, Fritz’s owl and letter were waiting for him when he woke up this morning.

Magical Magic Birthday

He was so excited about his owl and letter. I was a little concerned beforehand that he might think it was real just because he wants magic to exist so badly. I needn’t have worried. He loves his owl. I hope when he’s about to turn 16, he’s still got it in a place of honor in his room just like his big brother and his owl.

Magical Magic Birthday

Fritz got his big present a few weeks ago when he went to Houston for the Markiplier tour. Today we gave him his other present, a Harry Potter Pop Figure. He got a Dobby last year so his collection is growing.

Magical Magic Birthday

We played a bit of Pokemon Go. Jamie, Fritz, and I joined together in a raid battle and all defeated, and then caught, a Muk (none of had one before today). We defeated a gym and hit a bunch of PokeStops, too.

Magical Magic Birthday

We spent the day at The DoSeum. I was a little hesitant to go there, but Ani was bringing the girls she’s been nannying there today and convinced us to join them. I wasn’t sure there would be enough stuff to entertain kids as old as Fritz and Adrian. As it turned out, there was plenty for them to do. We visited every exhibit, but, honestly, we could’ve spent the entire time doing just one or two. The boys loved it and want to go back. In fact, we’re considering an annual pass because they loved it so much.

Magical Magic Birthday

The first thing we did when we walked in was customize some fish using our phones and then added them to the virtual fish tank on the wall. Then we played in the wind tunnel and with some pulleys.

Magical Magic Birthday

We spent a couple hours in the spy room. There were lots of activities to do. The first thing they had to do was complete specific activities in order to get an access code. Once they got the access code, they could make their spy badge and then do more activities in order to become a master spy. One section was set up like a room in a house with clues hidden all over the place. It was a lot like an escape room. Adrian thinks we ought to build a room like that in our house. He spent a really long time working on the clues in there.

Magical Magic Birthday

The other exhibits inside included light, sound, color, and building activities. The kids really enjoyed playing with the green screen. Adrian was wearing a green shirt which made the green screen a little more fun. Fritz played with a green sheet to make himself disappear like he was under an invisibility cloak.

Magical Magic Birthday

We went outside on one side and played in some water activities and climbed on a huge climbing set. It was hot today (in the very high 90s), but the humidity was low (less than 30%) so it wasn’t so bad out, especially in the shade.

Magical Magic Birthday

Outside on the other side, we discovered a bamboo forest, and eco-pond, a treehouse with a fairy village underneath, and a fun little river to play in. The pond had quite a few red eared sliders in it so now we know just how big Ani’s hatchling, Venus, will get when she’s full grown (huge!).

Magical Magic Birthday

After we left The DoSeum, we went to Big’z Burger Joint for dinner. They have some of the best burgers and we can get amazing gluten free buns there. Fritz was pretty much in heaven eating his burger.

Magical Magic Birthday

We went to PetSmart partly because the boys love to watch the fish and partly because we needed to get a basking platform to go in Venus’s tank. We also got some ghost shrimp to help clean the tank/be food for the turtle (we also have minnows in there both to be fun to watch and also to be turtle food).

Magical Magic Birthday

When we got home, we watched Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I’d been meaning to buy it since it came out on video (we saw it in the movie theater), but hadn’t gotten around to it. My procrastination came in handy because the digital version (we only buy movies/TV shows in digital) was on a great sale today for Prime Day.

Magical Magic Birthday

So that was Fritz’s truly magical magic birthday. Adrian said Fritz’s birthday was way better than his own last month and I told him it’s because this was Fritz’s extra special 11 on the 11th birthday. So now Adrian is expecting a truly epic 19th birthday. Guess we better start planning!