Evacuation Academy Floats on Alright

We did it! It is done! We finished our first year of homeschooling.  Evangeline finished Kindergarten and is ready to be a first grader!

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To say I am proud of this accomplishment would be a huge understatement. Homeschooling for the first year in and of itself is challenging. Everything is theory until you jump in and try to actually teach your child something. Sure it’s fun to read about different theories and curriculum but when the rubber meets the road it means routine lesson plans and making school time in every busy keep-the-kids-alive day. Add to that being displaced by the flood, juggling the physical and mental needs of 4 kids and 2 adults in new and traumatic surroundings and the task seemed near impossible. Evangeline’s desire to learn and my refusal to fail saw us through the year.

(Minus December which we totally took off because holidays are distracting.)

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When we first started seriously considering homeschooling two years ago, I harbored a secret fear that I would not be able to teach my children to read. How could I? Obviously I learned how to read somehow but I have no training in teaching. People make entire careers out of teaching kids to read. I prepared myself for the possibility that Evangeline would go to first grade not knowing how to read and needing traditional education.

Then she learned to spell her name, and I was on cloud nine.

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We’d done it! I taught her, and she learned one of those big milestone things! She could spell her name. There was no stopping us after that.

I have our full curriculum listed out on our homeschooling tab. Hooked on Phonics definitely worked for us. I plan to use it again with Felicity. We both loved our history lessons. We went through Bede first to get an understanding of time and history, then the History Pockets to learn specifically about Ancient Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans. I worked in some geography with this too.

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We’ve used the science book for two years, repeating some lessons. They are fun each time. For Christmas, Evangeline racked up on National Geographic and Smithsonian project kits. This took the place of the science book for the rest of the year 😉 . She also got an Encyclopedia for her birthday in October which we used to look up more about the experiments she was doing.

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We stuck with Saxon math, and Evangeline did well with it. However she moved faster than the lessons did. She’s a quick study and the lessons became short and unfulfilling. I’m planning to stay with Saxon next year but I hope second grade math will be more on the right level.

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I am so pleased with our accomplishments this year. I am proud of both of us for sticking with it and getting through as much material as we did. Evangeline gets frustrated so easily when she encounters something she does not already know. The week she learned “doubles” she couldn’t remember 8+8 and refused to do a math lesson for almost two weeks. As a mother this is frustrating to deal with. It took a lot of discipline to keep on the teacher hat and help her work through her frustration. That is no easy task but such a rewarding one. Seeing her work through a math concept she struggled with is a victory for both of us!

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Mostly I am proud to see my daughter love learning. Her encyclopedia is her favorite book, she walks through the library looking for new things to read and she is constantly identifying things in the world around her. Any question she has, she knows how to go about finding an answer.

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It also makes my reader’s heart proud to hear her say she’s most looking forward to summer because she can read whatever she wants now. We’ve already read through two Magic Treehouse books and she’s set a goal to read all the Fancy Nancy’s at the library. You go girl.

For Better or Worse, Come Hell or High Water : Eight Years of Marriage

Four years ago I wrote 4 Down 96 to Go…or Happy Anniversary to Us. As yesterday was our 8th anniversary, I thought this post could use a little update. I used to day dream of calmer years and routine. Now I am just begging for a working second toilet

29485_429193835398_686920398_5875683_7633647_nFirst Year: We set up our first home in the townhouse. As the year closed, I think the day before our anniversary in fact, Ryan graduated LSU and I entered the second trimester of my first pregnancy. We planned to bring home baby to the townhouse, but when the complex hiked their prices and things outside our doors started disappearing, we decided it was time to find somewhere else.

 

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Second Year: We lived in the barn until finding a house to rent. Ryan sold Rainbow vacuums (and anything else that would fetch a fair price) to support me and my growing belly until beginning work at Catholic High. We welcomed Evangeline Lily into our family and survived the first school year by the skin of our teeth.

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Third Year: Actually was calmer. Ryan worked his second year at Catholic teaching the same classes. We lived in the same rent house, ignoring the ick factor and enjoying the great location. Just before our anniversary, we brought home sweet Felicity Iris to join our family. Our actual anniversary was spent back in the hospital while I received treatment for postpartum pre-ecclampsia.

 

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Fourth year: This was the year we finally were going to settle down. Instead, we bought our first home and moved in after two and a half months living with my parents. Just weeks before our anniversary we brought home another sweet Carruth bundle of joy, Reuben Benedict (for those of you keeping score at home, yes, I’ve been pregnant every year of our marriage thus far). And Ryan began working on his Master’s degree in Theology, commuting to New Orleans and back each Saturday.

015Fifth Year: You guessed it! Another baby, our fourth was born June 2014 Genevieve Rose. We lived in the same house, making room in a corner of the master bedroom for the new baby. We worried about affording a vehicle to accommodate our growing family, but God took away all doubt when our Tuscon was totaled and we were forced to buy a mini-van. Ryan continued working on his Master’s Degree…

2014-06-10 14.38.49 (1)Sixth Year: We were able to enjoy our house fully. We made a splash park in the backyard, season craft walls in the dining room and made small changes around the house to make it more our own. This was also the year chickens suddenly came into our lives. A bold step into homesteading we all came to enjoy. This was also the first year we got a vacation together as a couple since our honeymoon. Ryan continued working on his Master’s…..

12247096_10105176282789825_7269548078356078359_nSeventh Year: Thus began our first tiptoe into homeschooling. I began Hooked on Phonics with Evangeline and she got her first taste of reading. The years after Genna was born are mostly a blur, or more precisely, four fast moving, loud, hungry blurs. We made some more changes to the house making more and more our own comfortable home. Ryan continued working on his Master’s…….

Eighth Year: This year will forever be remembered as that year from hell. It started off well with Ryan completing all requirements for a Master’s degree in Theology from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans. This felt like a huge accomplishment for all of us. A lot of team work went into that degree. We enjoyed the summer with no classes, no tests and no studying. Then as we prepared for Ryan’s 7th year at Catholic High and Evangeline’s first full year of homeschooling, our house flooded. We have been out of our house since August. In our marriage we’ve lived in a townhouse, barn, rent house and guest room. This year we added game-day condo and FEMA trailer to the list. We’ve survived a summer of unemployment, four kids under 3 and a half, pre-ecclampsia, post-partum depression and still this year takes the cake for most trying year of our marriage.

This next year, though, is bound to look up. It will be the year we get back into our (remodeled) house. The year we have steady homeschooling, holidays and parties in our own home again. Maybe this will be the year Ryan begins work on a PhD…but you didn’t hear that from me.

As trying as times have been over the years, our marriage is truly blessed. We’ve drawn closer together through our adversity and strengthened the foundation of our family. We’ve passed good times and bad, holidays and lazy Sundays with our extended family and watched our friends’ families grew. We’ve seen our children become people of their own and we are guiding them toward happiness the best way we know how. The future looks bright for the Carruths, as long as we are together.

Having more than one working toilet would be great too.

Just saying.

 

60 % From Home

There is no place like home

There is no place like home

Especially when you’re living in a government issued trailer during spring storm season

We are so ready to be back in our house, back to our home and our space. Of course right now the house is unlivable, at least for the kids. Ryan and I would be there in a tent if we could. We need money to finish the house, but we have to finish the house to get money from the mortgage company.

Yesterday a mortgage company inspector came by our house. This was our first inspection since beginning work on the house last summer. We hoped to be marked officially 50% done so that the mortgage company would eek out some of our insurance payout.

We have gutted, cleaned and disinfected the house, insulated the walls and hung drywall throughout, had the drywall taped, floated and textured and had the tile floor cleaned.

Alas, that only brings us to 40% done.

We are in a difficult spot being at the end of the school year and having to meet numerous requirements from the mortgage company to get materials or work done. There is a huge toss up between doing work ourselves — in stolen hours here and there — and jumping through hoops to hire more expensive workers our mortgage company approves and will pay for. Neither is going to get us home this week.

We preparing to install doors ourselves, order flooring to DIY install and find someone to install our trim work. Once those things are done (with exceptions in the kitchen/dining room), we can have the walls and ceilings painted. All of this work should put us comfortably over 50%. Once we are there, we should get half of the remaining money from our insurance settlement which can be used to finish the kitchen and bathrooms.

While this is a major priority, we also have hopes of getting back into the house as soon as we can and live there while work continues. The trailer shrinks one square foot a day. For this to happen, our priority switches to bathroom cabinets and sinks to make the house livable. We need money from our insurance settlement to start work there.

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You can see the catch 22. If we were independently wealthy this would be easier. Then, I imagine many things would be easier with self-sufficient funds (affording a house not in a flood zone, for instance)

So, once again we find ourselves at a cross roads trying to decide which way will get us home quickest. If the heavens align and the clouds part in just the right way, we can make some real progress this month. I won’t speculate about a move-in date; I’ll just say if I’m still in that tin can during the heat of the summer, it may be best for everyone to just leave me alone.