Friday, December 23, 2011

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Lady of the Rivers (The Cousins' War, #3)The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A little bit history, a little bit magic. Love the way this story was the story of Jacquetta....rarely told. Enticing.

View all my reviews
The Red Queen (The Cousins' War, #2)The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I read these completely out of order reading the last one first...this one on the middle. I enjoyed them anyway, and I was able to follow the English monarchies easily enough. Interesting, but much bloodshed......

View all my reviews
The White Queen (The Cousins' War, #1)The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am on a English History kick...Philippa Gregory brings this time period to life. Really enjoying this series of books about the "Cousin's War".

View all my reviews

The Art of Racing in the Rain

The Art of Racing in the RainThe Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sweet. Life told from the perspective of a dog. Strangely insightful...full of life lessons.

View all my reviews

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mom of the Year: NOT

I am not feeling like the Mom of the fact, I Amy not be in the running for quite a while.
Today, Elvis went in for his annual eye exam... 2 years past due....with a complaint that he could not focus well...and he was seeing in duplicate and quadruplicate( is that a word?). Doctor H gave him a good exam, knowing that Elvis had/has Lyme Disease.
His exam shows Neurological Palsy and optical nerve damage. Prognosis...?????
This was probably caused by know that disease...which isn't really real....which only needs some doxycycline and you become in the class known as "adequately treated".

So, I am sending his pediatrician...who decided he was " adequately treated", his report while I do some research and try and find a doctor who can REALLY adequately treat him.

So, here we are, almost 3 years into this battle....with some wins and other losses...
So far or wins are good....he is out of bed and doing something daily, he has gained some weight, he is not depressed anymore....

Our losses: he is still in pain in his joints ....especially his elbow and wrists....he is having sleep issues, wired but tired....he has no appetite.....he still can't study, and he has lost a good portion of what he already learned in high school.

So, the bad mom award goes to me...for not being aggressive enough in his treatment, for not being forceful enough to insist on IV antibiotic treatments earlier, for believing his body would fight to get well if I gave him enough good food and vitamins...for not listening to the little voice in my head that said we should treat more aggressively.

And now, We go on to the fight of our live Lyme Free and healthy....2012 is our year to get well....

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Carl's Quest: To Beat Lyme Disease

I am serious about not being able to get ANYONE to treat ds further inside what insurance will allow. All other doctors are NOT covered, and unfortunately...who knows then who you are getting. It is like the insurance company is sending us back to charlatans.
Thank God my ds is getting better.....through vitamin and nutritional therapies I kind of designed myself through research. He was diagnosed 5 years after his first exposure. He spent 6 months in bed...not able to stay awake longer than 15 minutes at a pop. His doctor thought he was "depressed". I was livid! Depression does not make you run fever every day, it does not give you brochitis and pnemonia repeatedly, it does not make your elbows swell......I insisted on a Lyme test, which came back falsely negative.......then he got infected AGAIN!!!! He must be a tick magnet. He finally had a tell tale bullseye in his armpit. jerk doctor said he had chafing because he wasn't washing.
I asked him to humor me....and run a western blot. I had just read about came back with a romping active Lyme and the evidence of long term Lyme.
He gave him the Doxy for 21 days...I insisted on 28... Then on the zithromax.

I took him to the head of infectious diseases in Kingston....he said he was adequately treated ( that is the phrase they use to tell you it is all on your head and they are not treating you any further.). He gave him a long talk about aids....and sent him on his way.

Then I took him up to the head of pediatric infectious diseases at Albany med. After a 2 hour consultation...which happened the day of my mother's funeral.....she recited basically the same seems like the doctors have been handed a script and damn well better recite it well.

Anyway.....that was a year ago. Since then he has had good days and bad days. He is having more good days ...these days. As I continue on my research, I am looking for alternatives to anti biotics, mostly because he thought he was going to die the whole time he was on them. He ended up with systemic yeast....and the fun that goes with that. He has outright refused to go the IV route....if I could find a doctor to do that for him.

You would think that with the number of Lyme patients in this area SOMEONE would be willing to treat...or research their heinie off, if for no other reason than financial gain.....but, as we know it seems the research is blocked off, the insurance companies are in
Cahoots with the research labs...and in the meantime...Lyme has become endemic.

I am incredibly frustrated.


My blogging plans for 2012

I have been thinking about what I want to blog about for the next year....and maybe try and be a bit consistent. A few things have been going on that definitely need a place for me to vent, and revisit....and maybe make some order out of chaos.

So, these are the topics at hand:

1: homeschooling during all of the following:
2: home business
3: Lyme disease
4: Hashimoto's and Auto-immune disease....but you don't look sick...
6: Marriage and family...keeping it all together and having some fun too
7: anything else that strikes my fancy .

So, in the midst of trying to keep everything moving...and everyone happy, I am going to try to use my blog as my working memory....because the one in my brain isn't working so hot.


Sunday, November 20, 2011

Climbing out of the Disorganization Hole...Homeschooling in Chaos.

Today, on the WTM forums we have been talking about homeschooling when life is nutsy...and even coming back when things are calming down.

I have btdt...too often to say...except the unemployment thing, which I am sure adds tons of stress on top of it all.
My advice in a nutshell:

Burn the MOTH schedule....Burn anything that demands perfection and makes you feel like a failure. Having a failing attitude and constant reminder of how behind you are makes no one peaceful or happy.

Make a list of your own routine...and try to tweak as you specific...but not chained.
I put EVERYTHING in there....and then put it in my cell phone until it became habit. My phone would ding.....and remind me that I needed to change gears. My kids got used to the singing...and would yell...Hey Mom...YOU DINGED!!!!!!

I put in wake up time for me...then the kids...

School schedule....extra class schedules...meals etc.
Everything I could think of...went into the

As I got into my new habits, my day began to have more flow. I didn't constantly have to check my schedule because it would

As far as school goes...if you still have babies and will often hear "school while the babies nap.". Well, I was blessed with kids who never, schooling during naps never worked....

I lap I always had a baby or toddler in my lap. I confined us all to one section of the house...and gated off the I didn't have to worry about kids climbing on chairs...counters...refrigerators etc. I also kept them out of the bathroom with potty breaks every half hour or so for the potty training crowd. Bigger kids could hop the gate when need be.

I would school my 11 year ....or my middle one first. I know some start with the oldest...some with the youngest....I found my 10-13 year olds easiest to work with. They were semi- independent, yet needed instruction and assistance. I try to use all open and go for skill subjects. Reading, Math and LA are workbook programs that we can just do the next thing in. If we finish the major 3, I feel we accomplished the meat of the day. Figure out your meat...make sure you get that done. I always schooled my teens in the evening AFTER babies, toddlers and little ones were in bed. It was quiet here and we could focus on Algebra, or formulas, or Dante:D. My teens seem more focused at night....I would give them their next day's assignments and when they got up in the morning, they could get busy on assignments.
My muddles would get up, eat and then have littles would get up, have breakfast, and play....until middlies break time.

While my middle guys ate...and took a play break, I would do phonics or math with my little guys...then call everyone back for family reading time.

We would do Bible, Poetry, read aloud and History....then eat lunch. Then Middle kids would have assignments....teens would be finishing theirs from the previous day and doing chores...little guys would have math.

If I couldn't fit all our family read alouds into our morning ( which happened a lot). I would just save them for bedtime reading.

I made myself check lists for each kid...for each subject...rather than a daily schedule containing all subjects...this helped me see our progress....and feel like we were accomplishing I also wrote a daily flow chart....using my lists as the guide. My whole planning took a weekend at the pool in the summer while the kids played. Over planning made me feel overwhelmed...and any changes made me feel like a failure.

Make your schooling as simplified as possible. Stay on one topic for Bible, History, Science, Poetry, Literature, or any other content subjects you can. Make use of videos and online resources for your older kids...especially your teens. If you can't afford online classes, use the free stuff on YouTube. A little research will go a long way. We used YouTube for so many subjects! We loved it especially for biology and Chemistry. Watching the experiment demonstrations and videos were so awesome and added so much to our teens studies. Kids can be on the same topic....for us right now, for example, we are doing a one year World History. I tried using 3 separate programs....I should have known better!! So, I dropped 2 of them....decided on Sonlight Core W...and just use 2 age appropriate textbooks for my 13 & 17 year olds. Everything else fits across the ages.

For science, we are all studying Life Science....using a topic a week from Lyrical Life Science...and age appropriate library books.

Basically, if we can stay on the same topic, we can have something to chat about...whether we are doing dishes together, riding in the car, stacking wood....etc.

As far as chores....I write them out on the dry erase board in my kitchen. We all work at them until they are all done....if I notice someone NOT doing their fair share....I assume they need some mommy instruction in that chore. That child becomes my partner...and learns to WORK. this way, being MY partner is not a desired

~~~Post it notes are your friend.
Let me say it it notes are your friend...
So is the yellow note feature in your phone..
Use them for everything. Don't nag....write it down and stick it on the kid. Write errands and stick them on the dashboard of your you get them finished, stick them in your notebook to show you have finished your chore. Makes you feel accomplished. Same with kid assignments. Write them on post it's...stick them as place marks in your kids books with any extra assignment...or words to focus on...or essay prompt....etc. Hen they are get the post it and slap it in your plan book...instant record of work achieved.

Drop any outside activities which cause stress if you can....BUT don't drop everything. It is important to get out and have a change of scenery. I have instituted a chore day in town. We all look forward to it. It is the day we go into town, Do our shopping, get our supplies, go to the library, etc. In nice weather we pack a picnic and go to the playground. During the winter, I take them to either Panera Bread and buy them some soup...or to a pizza shop for a slice. Very inexpensive....but they love it and feel so special. I try to sign the kids up for short term obligation sports or outside classes...6 weeks is perfect! Swim team in the in the fall....looking for something in the winter.....and golf in the spring. Dd 13 does a 1 hour a week drama class which is inexpensive and nearby. The library also has lots of inexpensive, but interesting programs. We are going to try is free, and the kids need some social time...and it is after school hours.

Check out Flylady....I don't follow her plan to a tee...but I have gotten so many cool ideas...and encouragement from her site.
I have found minimal stuff helps keep peace. Too much junk makes me uncomfortable and stressed out. If in doubt, throw it out. If you don't love it...get rid of it. Toys can be packed into rubbermaid containers and stored to be used one at a time. A closet with a padlock is a moms best friend. Pretend you are moving. If you wouldn't take it with really don't want it....out it goes.

Try to stay in the NOW. Don't worry about tomorrow's mess....or yesterday's mistakes. Give yourself to today and making it the best today you can.

Be kind to yourself. Be forgiving of yourself. Be an encouragement to yourself. If you can be those things to become those things to your husband and children. I am not talking about syrupy, made up sweetness...but being the real person you want to be. Striving for a perfection which doesn't exist, is futile. Striving to love and nurture your family with peace in your heart, despite circumstances, can be attained....and enjoyed.

Our daily life is busy...crazy....I am often distracted by our business phones and some emergency that crops up....but, that is life. We move on.

Coming back from stressful situations is stressful in itself. Adding homeschooling, unemployment, sick parents, sick kids, chronic mommy illness, etc.....makes all those issues multiply....but...Through it all...My Lord and My savior walks with me...hand in hand....His strength shall be my strength....

The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (Millennium, #3)The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Read the first 2 had to read the sequel. I am funny like that. Not my favorite...but I kept reading anyway. Lots of Swedish politics....and I thought they were neutral......hmmmmmmmm.

View all my reviews

Friday, November 18, 2011

Week in review 11/13- 11/18

We had a pretty good academic week this week. Now that we are moving into holiday season....we are finally hitting a groove.

Dropping HOD helped more than I could imagine. I didn't realize having 2 programs going at once would stretch me and stress me so much. Sonlight is working very well for all my kids...sticking with one core....simplicity.

This week we read:
Proverbs 3,5,7,8&9
Instead of the SL bible study, we are using Grandfather's Box from the HOD set...since my kids all really love it.
We finished 4 chapters

From CHOW and Usborne world History we covered the Assyrians, The Babylonians and the early Greeks. Gracie also read the corresponding chapters in Patterns of Civ.

We worked on our timelines and got them up to date.

The kids covered vascular plants in Lyrical Life Science

We also read from Olivia Coolidge's rendering of The Odyssey and the first few chapters of D'aulaire's Greek Myths. My kids LOVE these stories.

They all are moving along in their CLE Reading, Math and LA. All the kids did very well on their quizzes and all finished at least 4 lessons in each book.

Hammy is still very resistant to seat work, so I try not to overwhelm him too much, yet insist he does get used to the routine. He did beautiful copy work this week. His handwriting in becoming lovely...and he is having less troubles with reversals.

Cubby is blossoming this year. He is choosing to read more on his own. He is enjoying the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and the How to Train your Dragon series. He has been reading one of each every week. Hammy is working his way through Nate the Great...and Mr. Putter and Tabby. Gracie is finishing up Hittite Warrior, which is a SL book, and the new Rick Riordan book. I wish she would hurry on that I can get my grubby hands on it!!

I am finally pleased with our school work for this to start planning our next....hahaha


Friday, November 11, 2011

Week in review 11/7-11/11

So...this week went weird.  Hahha.
I finally decided...again...that it doesn't make for a happy homeschool to try to do more than one program with my kids.  I know some people have time and energy for that...but I do NOT!

I decided to drop Heart of Dakota with my boys and fold them into dd's Sonlight Core W.  They both use the same spine,  so the switch was relatively seamless.  The boys didn't even

We have been enjoying reading and narrating from these books.  They give DD 13 a good easy intro to the topic of the week.  This week we learned about the Greeks and the Spartans.  We also learned bout the first Olympic games.  I am teaching the boys to write simple 1 or 2 sentence narrations.  I am also teaching the to write simple outlines using the Usborne book.
DD has been using Patterns of Civilization by Prentice Hall.  It is an extremely readable and dare I say enjoyable textbook.  My dd likes textbooks as research tools.

This book is adding depth to her studies and  more age/grade appropriate.   She is enjoying it and using it for info for her NaNoWriMo novel.  She is writing,  writing,  writing.  Her story is based in Ancient Greece...and she has already written about 150 pages!  

My kids are moving along n their CLE studies.  All the children have almost finished their years worth of Reading already.  Grace and Cubby have 1 Light Unit left,  so should be done by Christmas.  Hammy has already finished both 2nd grade readers and is now in the 3rd grade reader.  The kids all absolutely love this series of books and remember the stories years later.  My dd always talks to the boys about he stor they are up to...and how much she loved them.  Can't beat that!!!!

We are moving along in math.  My boys have begun the new Life of Fred Elementary books.  Hammy read through Apples in 2 days!  He loved it!  Cubby worked through Butterflies over a week.

Cubby has now moved into Cats and Hammy into Butterflies.
Gracie is using Pre- Algebra with Biology....and will move into Pre Algebra with Economics After Christmas.  Math is not her strong subject....using LOF makes it fun.  CLE gives lots of practice.  Love the combination. 

In science,  we have begun using Lyrical Life Science volume 1.  The kids find he songs catchy and dd is actually enjoying it.  We have not had much luck finding science curricula that she enjoys...or will tolerate.  After suffering through one program after another,  she found this one on the shelf and asked to try it.  I really didn't think she would like it,  but of course didn't tell her that!  Surprise!  Surprise!!!!  She loves it.  The boys love the songs,  so I have decided to just get books and other go-alongs for their age.  She is usinng the text and the workbook.  I won't require that from them,  but have been adding other coloring pages and simple kids books from the library. HOORAY!!!!!  Science is getting done.  That makes me a happy Mom.

Soccer season is almost over.  Boys loved it.
DD was cast in the play Footloose in her drama classes and is thrilled,  even though it is just a backround part.  She likes the idea that she will get some dance lessons as part of her involvement.'s been a busy,  but productive weel...and thus ends our first quarter of the 2011-2012 school year.


Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Girl Who Played With Fire (Millennium, #2)The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


View all my reviews

Support System is Down.

Dh and I have been doing this for 6 years. His business is growing....but, I should say our business. I am exhausted, grumpy, tired, used up, nasty feeling right now because...well, I am.

I need to step up ( which would mean my kids have to go to school)....or step down.... ( which dh does NOT want me to do).

I would love to be the support system that keeps the house, schools the kids, Looks sexy at night, Has great meals on the table....and he expects all that in addition to me working 40-50 hours a week in our business. He does not do any of the schooling, but does cook. He will do outdoor maintenance...and clean up after himself....but not help me with the kids stuff...laundry, dishes etc.

I am not trying to paint him as an ogre. I love him and he is my best friend. He means it all well. He works as hard as he expects us all to work. He is never on the couch watching tv and drinking a beer. He is a great provider and does not mandate over us.

That's the good and bad.

I hate our business. Hate it!! But, it is what dh does. It is a high liability, hard service industry. We deal with people when they are at their worst...when they have no heat or a/c or water....or their house is filled with soot etc. I am a terrible introvert...and I need to play an extrovert in my business role. I am usually a little high strung....but need to play the calm one on the phone. This business goes against every fiber of my being.....but it is what he knows....what he is an expert in.....what he makes money doing. It is honest work. It is grueling work. It is what we do.

So, before volunteering to help or support in your dh's business....ask yourself what your boundaries will be. Ask yourself what you are willing to give up to do this....ask yourself if you are willing to give up yourself. Ask yourself what your kids will have to give up...and what they will learn and gain from the experience of a family business. Weigh it all in....then make your decision.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Dead End in NorveltDead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was so sweet and so funny. I laughed out loud...a big belly laugh...just relating to this young boy...relating to his mom...and to old Mrs. Booker. I wonder how much of this book was based on the authors!

View all my reviews

So funny. So sweet. Gotta read it.

Apron Strings

Today on the WTM forum, the moms were talking about being able to let go of our children. One woman was batting around a neighbor's comment....and another commented on how she wanted her child to have a longer childhood. As a mom of grown children....I have a bit of a different perspective to all of this.

I am actually looking at this in an opposite way. My kids are growing up in, they are not still children at 18 or 20 or 25. They are adults. They moved into the adult phase of their lives smoothly...without being jerks.....they found jobs, went to college and didn't party like mad and fail out. They didn't sit home on the couch playing video games instead of interacting with the real world.

I think our society has extended childhood well onto some people's 30's. I have friends whose 30 year olds still live at home, have no direction, or desire of direction...can not put in a full day of work....the parents are left with full grown toddlers.....right down to the hissy fits.

My kids were helping us in our family. Helping to build a house, carry in firewood, cook meals, volunteering to help others in need, building and running a business. My 13 yo dd is very capable in an office. She can answer calls, dispatch service technicians, take messages, file...etc. Her friends are trying out make up and how to look pretty to boys.....whatever.

My older kids also played hard....and still play hard. They can have fun because we always had fun. My adult boys will sit on the floor and play legos with their young brothers...teach them to shoot arrows, sled down the hills etc. But, they are men.....not little boys anymore. Even at 17, my son is a man....not a boy. He is intelligent, well spoken, well read, and leading a work crew of men twice his age.

So, Yes.....their childhood was an actual childhood.....and then they became adults. No teen bull cr@p. So far, no teen pregnancies, drug issues, etc. It seemed my kids stayed little kids until about 15 or 16.....and then, they were adult-like.

It became a bit of an awkward period for them because they had a hard time relating to their peers. They did seem a bit odd and out of place because of the seriousness of their character. They were not the usual ousted teen whose parents are sick of parenting...and on their own completely to fall into all kinds of sordid behavior, nor were they the over watched, over scheduled teens who were forced to fill every waking hour with study and other enrichment activities.

I didn't do a perfect where near one. My children are human...and therefore fallen, as we all are, and in need of a savior, but being home schooled gave them a different sociological avenue of development that I did not expect...and quite frankly, it unnerved me a bit. I feared I failed them. I feared I failed to give the the "American teen experience". Then, I looked around and realized that teen thing had extended well into the twenties...and even into the thirties. The system has created an entire generation of children with Peter Pan syndrome...who are " entitled" to be cared for by free health care, free housing, free food....etc. What was meant as a helping hand is now becoming a way of life....because children need to be children...even when they are no longer children. Then, the stakes were raised, and now a high school diploma is basically useless, except as a ticket to the University...if younhave the money or grades to get in. Does anyone hear a giant sucking sound??

So, when I am hit with the " you need to cut the apron strings" line of nonsense....I can comfortably say, " No, I don't. I have given my children the scissor, and the ability to cut those strings. They are independent. They can make it. They have lived in a hard working family their entire lives. They have seen and helped their parents work. They have been in the trenches, not in a belled prison.....they have been watched and taught, discipled, loved, and raised....not handcuffed, lined up, and force fitted into a box not of their own making.

Mammas.....keep those apron strings. They are an important tool in raising our children. Don't let just anybody come by and cut those strings. You hand those scissors to your children....give them the tools they need...and watch as they grow into the incredible adults God meant them to be.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friday, September 30, 2011

Wow!! That week went fast....Week in review 9/30/11

Homeschooling with chronic pain sucks. There....I said it! Homeschooling with chronic pain and a fullish time work from home job sucks more. Homeschooling with chronic pain, a full-timish job and other health issues and no household help sucks the biggest!

But here I am...and I pulled off another week....somehow.
Got the biggest boy to his class both nights....
Got the girlie to her drama group
Got the little guys to their soccer games
Was able to put in 2 or 3 walks for myself w/ df.
Picked up birthday present and got everyone to nephews surprise birthday party.
Took little guys for their prize at Toys R Us ( they finished their light units and deserved a prize)
Took everyone to the library and let them find some books
Got the food shopping done and dinner on the table almost ball week...with the exception of the night we had a frozen lasagna donated by our good friend who bought too many for a party he was throwing.

Caught up on the laundy....there are a few dishes here and there...but no great towers to speak of
Got the hairy dogs groomed.
Paid all the bills that were due
Made appointments for dentist...and took Big boy in to see the dentist
Made appointment for little girl to see the orthodontist
Spoke with a million clients....vendors...etc. To keep things moving in the field..AND did some collections work...successful collections work...YAY!

Oh....that's right...we are talking about school......

Little Girl:
She is still struggling with math. It is one subject that makes her brain hurt! We did manage to work through 3 full CLE lessons. I want her to finish up the 600 series before Christmas. We are also working through Life of Fred pre-algebra and she did a few sections in there and is now up to the first bridge. We will see if any of it sunk in.

She is moving along beautifully through CLE reading 8 and LA 700. She is doing 2 light unit tests today...and the Reading coming in a week early.
She also read Mara, Daughter of the Nile and began Hittite Warrior. She loves the Egyptian period in history! I need to pull out our SOTW AG and get some crafts out of there that she was too little to do last go round. She did end up writing a 5 page expository paper on the 3 Kingdoms of Ancient Egypt. Her LU in LA was on expository she used that as a guide.

Cubby: Getting him to focus on his school work is a challenge. He wants to....BUT.....oooh cows!
Anyway, this week he did get some book work much? I have to check. He did work on his light units, and he has been reading Beverly Cleary this week. He just plowed through 3 or 4 Henry books and a couple of Ramona ones too. I just gave him a Clyde Robert Bulla book and he was glued into that one for a while. He is coming along in math....learning his times tables. Memorizing facts has not been easy, and I have not been very consistent with drills and flashcards or skip counting etc. We do them sometimes, but not daily, like we should. I do allow him a multiplication chart and if he needs it, he can use it. he uses it. Hopefully, at some point it will become easier to remember than look itnup all the time.

Hammy: finished the 2 nd grade CLE Reading....I did not use the workbooks with him because it is just too much writing. I used the TM and write out the vocabulary on the white board. I then went over the story questions with him orally....and that seemed to work very well for him. He is getting the meat of the program without having to battle his aching hand.

The boys are beginning week 4 in HOD Preparing Hearts. I think I hate the format. It is not a smooth transition from subject to subject. This weekend, I am going to put thebassignments into a regular schedule sheet and see how it goes that way. My kids also hate doing a tiny bit of a project day by day....we all hate taking everything out for 10 minute part of an art project and then putting it all back, only to be taken out the next day, so I have started doing the whole projects on Friday. That is working much better for us. My kids don't want to paint a background...put away....paint a rainbow.....put away.....paint a giraffe....put away.....they just want to paint! Sorry...too much putting away for our

I do like their narration prompts and having the boys work on a summary together and then writing it down in their notebooks. I think it makes for good paragraph practice.

I do like the books that were chosen. We are finishing up Life in the Great Ice Age this week and One Small Square Arctic Tundra. We did not do all the science note booking. I got lazy on this one....oy. We just did the narrations orally. I will work in the written part over the year. My boys are still getting used to a much more handwriting heavy school schedule. I don't want to break them or anything:-)

We also didn't memorize all of psalm 1....only the first 2 verses. I plan on putting the cd on in their room at night and letting them listen to it while they fall asleep.

We are reading the Golden Goblet to coincide with our Egypt studies. We finished 11 chapters.

We are working through Latina Christiana 1 and we worked on Lesson 3 this week. We will probably work on it Monday and Tuesday next week as well and then go on to Lesson 4.

We did some cool cave paintings....they came out awesome.

Well, gotta be off....finish up Friday...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Week in Review 9/23/11

This is my first WIR in a long time. It is our 3 rd week back after a long and fun summer. We usually do some fun schooly stuff over the summer, but this year we mostly played. We did take some cool vacations and field trips to the beach, aquariums, historic sites like Kitty Hawk and the Wright Bros. Museum. We did have a great summer and now we are settling back in to our homeschool routine using some oldies but goodies, and some new stuff too.

Elvis is now apprenticing with his dad learning HVAC and plumbing. He is already epa certified and passed his exams last summer. He is now taking a night class at a local Technical School on heat pumps and split system air conditioning. He loves working with his dad. He is also studying world history this year using Spielvogel's Western Civilization and living books. This week he is studying Egypt. He is reading Pharoah by Eloise Jarvis McGraw.

In addition, he is using ABeka's English Literature as a spine and reading many of the books which are excerpted in that book. This week he worked on Poetry.

We will be doing a half credit Art History course that he needs to fulfill his graduation requirements. We will be using Sister Wendy's Story of Painting, some of the Sister Wendy videos, reading artist biographies and studying works of art as we studybthrough our history text. I plan to start this course in October when his night class ends.

Dr. Kazam is using Sonlight Core W, CLE Reading, Math and Language Arts, Latina Christiana 1 & 2, God and the History of Art and Apologia General Science.

This week she read most of Mara, Daughter of the Nile, we are reading aloud The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw, and she is getting used to her new schedule. She finished up some sections in her CLE light units. We are a bit behind in Math, and we will need to work our butts off to bring her up to speed and ready to start Algebra next fall.
Dr. also started taking an acting class at a prestigious group near our home. She loves it. She is making new friends and having so much fun with the practice exercises and assignments she brings home. She will also be in a play in the spring. I am not sure which one as they just did auditions on Saturday and this school does 6 different plays....we are hoping with our fingers crossed that she gets into Winnie the Pooh.

Cubby and Hammy are working together this year (2nd and 4th grades). Using Heart of Dakota's Preparing Hearts for his Glory. I am learning how to use a teacher manual and how to follow what someone else is telling me to do with the kids. I think I am enjoying this so far!

This week we finished reading about Noah and the flood. we used a beautifully illustrated book about The Flood requiired by HOD. It came with a cd with the, I read them the pages for the lesson, but they love listening to the cd and looking at the pictures over and over! We finished reading The Hobbit this week too! This was such a fun read. We were sorry when it ended.
We are reading Life in the Great Ice Age. We studied some cave paintings and cave art. We also studied ancient weapons and how arrow heads were made. We also prepared paper to make our own cave paintings. We will do these on Saturday.
We are reading One Small Square:Arctic Tundra. The boys are really enjoying this book. We paid special attention this week to arctic animals especially fox, hares and geese.

This year our poetry focus is on Robert Lewis Stevenson. We have covered 3 poems so far: The Swing, Bed in Summer and Rain. They memorized Rain.

The boys are also working on memorizing Psalm 1. They have the 1st 2 verses down.
They both are working on the CLE light units for Math, Language Arts and Reading. they completed 3 lessons in each book this week. Next week we will shoot for four. If we can complete 4 per week, I will feel that we have accomplished our goals. I love CLE. It is thorough, challenging, reviews plenty, and my kids like it well enough not to complain too much.

Both boys are playing soccer this season, so I guess I went from swim mom to soccer mom.

Today we took the day to clean...clean...clean. We packed up our summer gear and pulled out our sweat shirts and long pants. The kids read on their own, but I needed a home ec. Day.

I am going to try to get some schooling done with Dr. Kazam and Cubby tomorrow. They both need to do some extra math in order to catch up on grade level.


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Golden Goblet (Newbery Library, Puffin)The Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw

This is my 3 rd time reading The Golden Goblet to my kids....I love this book for our Ancient Egypt studies.

View all my reviews

Monday, September 19, 2011

Winthrop Woman

The Winthrop WomanThe Winthrop Woman by Anya Seton

Anya Seton can tell the story, teach the history, and leave you wanting more...and more. Love!

View all my reviews

Any a Seton

KatherineKatherine by Anya Seton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Beautifully told.

View all my reviews

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dumbing us Down? The Hybrid Homeschool

This week on the Well Trained Mind forum, we have been discussing homeschool curricula that has been dumbed down. The OP posed the question of whether or not homeschool curricula has been made easier over the years. My position, was yes indeed, much homeschool targeted curricula has been written to make things "easy" for us uneducated, plain old moms to administer to our less than enthusiastic students. As the homeschool market gets bigger and bigger, many mainstream companies as well as new independent companies targeted at the homeschool market are producing inferior products designed to entice homeschooling parents into an easy out.

I think as a homeschooler, we need to be aware of our goals and keep them firmly in sight. Some of us focus on academics, some on family closeness, some on family independence from the "system," some on spiritual development, some on bringing their sn kids along, some providing a challenging program for their gifted/talented kids, etc. Most of us a combination of these reasons.

I homeschool for academic pursuits and well as relational pursuit. When I started meant being home, coming along side your children and teaching and discipling them. The "resources" were not as important as the goals.
Just to put this in perspective...when I started homeschooling, no one had a computer in their home and when my first graduated, there were NO online, real time courses. By the time my next dd graduated 3 years later, you could do your entire high school in front of a a message curricula written directly to the parent involvement.

It is almost like we need to apologize for simply homeschooling without all the bells and whistles, AP classes, CC classes, co- ops, online courses, etc...and the sooner the better....sigh. I do not want to hang my head and explain that we stay home to home school. That I am my kids primary, and only teacher and no, I am not worried about them going to college, because I am preparing them well for that endeavor.

And yes, homeschool curricula has been dumbed down. Much of it has been written to make it "easy" to teach and learn from, easy to box check, easy to fulfill a state requirement, easy to say you did it, when in fact you didn't. Some homeschool only curricula is just basically " here is what I did with my kid and he turned out ok, $100.00 bucks please.".

What turned me off to Sonlight, was Sarita Holzman's daughter went to Public High here she is writing high school homeschool curriculum, but didn't trust herself enough to use it herself I will probably get bombed for that one, but that was my feeling about Sonlight high school courses for a really long time.

I love that small classical schools will now share their curricula with us mere homeschoolers...and continue to because of the dollars and cents involved...but they (Veritas Press) will tell you flat out that there is no way you can give your own kid a rigorous education unless you send them to a Classical School, but since you don't live near one, or you would( their assumption, not mine). We will let you use ours...and now, let us get fancy and offer online classes (which were sub par in my opinion) and online interactive lessons (haven't tried these.). Face it...we are a great market...we have $$$ and if made to feel particularly inept, we will buy pretty much anything , especially where our little scholars are involved.

The onslaught of homeschool curricula is fed by fear...fear that we won't measure up to Public and private schools, fear of failing our kids, fear of not keeping up with the Joneses, and the curricula marketers feed this fear, produce more and more inferior products that we can't possibly produce a well educated child without, or makes homeschooling so easy, anyone can do it and produce excellent results, without breaking a sweat.

Then, we have on the other hand.....leave'em alone, let them do what they want, as long as they are home, they are doing more than the public school nonsense. If Johnny doesn't want to do math today, or tomorrow, someday he will. Maybe, but not probably.

I am not for semantic purity...and I hybrid homeschool sometimes, especially in the upper grades, but it is what it is. I think educational choices are wonderful, and when I need to farm out a class, I have no problem doing it, especially if one is available. I could not teach my high schoolers everything they needed...we hybrid home schooled. My 16 year old is apprenticing under his dad right now and taking outside trade related classes. I could NOT teach him how to pass the EPA exams or how to service an oil boiler....

I could not teach my oldest how to use in-design or photo shop pro, or how to use oil paints. She took classes for those things.

I do not think classes in and of themselves are bad things, on the contrary, I like to have them in my arsenal.

I guess my problem lies in parents who do not want to send their kids to public or private school...but somehow try to farm out every dang subject, refuse to teach their own kids anything including plain old manners and discipline, get annoyed when there is homework involved, then claim they are homeschooling....ummmm, no, not so much.

It also gets my goat when curriculum developers write materials that us dumb moms can pass off to our kids to make our jobs easy. Homeschooling is not easy, it is hard! It takes precedence over every other interest. It consumes my time and energy. It causes me to ask myself very hard questions and then forces me to answer them. I don't want to purchase junk...and I don't want to hand junk off to my kid doe because the experts say it is "enough".

What I love are well written, sequential, clearly written manuals that can be tweaked and supplemented easily to personalize it for my children. That is why I love TWTM. It speaks to me.....I can move my children through the stages of learning without feeling constrained by an badly written curriculum.

I am ranting now...sorry.......

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Remediation?? Or, a different timeline...

I often get frustrated by "grade level" materials because my kids seem so far "behind" what is expected of their peers in the early grades. It is frustrating because it makes me feel as if I need to push them way beyond their maturity and readiness levels to "keep up" with what would be expected of them in the public school arena.   I do not teach essay writing until my children are adept at writing paragraphs.  These paragraphs need to be well formed,  well written withour grammatical or spelling errors.  They can not be boring and their sentences must not only flow but show a varied structure.  I do not teach paragraph writing until my kids are comfortable and adept at writing sentences, lots of sentences,  strong, simple sentences and even stronger complex sentences.  I do not teach writing sentences until my children are comfortable writing words.  Their mechanics must be down.  They must bve able to write copywork and take longer dictations.  They must be able to narrate and orate. 

All of these foundational skills take time.  Some kids take to them like a fish to water...and others...not so fast.

I have to constatly remind myself that the Public School is not the standard I wish to emulate. 

I constantly have to remind myself that the goal is to create lifelong independent learners who can think deeply and rightly.

I need to constantly remind myself of the failure of the system to produce learners and thinkers...and also remind myself not to rush...rush...rush.

Even the way the WTM levels are beyond my kids in the early years...however, it is funny that somehow they end up in the Rhetoric stage by 9th or 10th grade even though we do not begin many of the subjects as early as recommended. We do lots of reading and talking and asking and researching answers in the early years. We try to create many many pegs to hang info on as well and lay firm foundations in reading, math and writing mechanics...copywork...narration, summarizing, outlining, sentence analyzing, rewriting in our own words etc....bring us to that point of essay writing...precis writing, term paper writing, creative writing, poetry writing etc. If we barrel through the skill areas...through the school of hard knocks, I have learned the faulty foundation can not produce thoughtful worthwhile writers.
What disturbs me is these skills are not grade level,  but skill level.  And,  skill levels vary at different ages and there can be growth spurts and then a leveling off...then another spurt.  All of this is natural within a developing brain.
Homeschooling gives us the opportunity to be sensitive to the ebb and flow of material.  It gives us the opportunity to build a firm foundation in both skill and content areas,  while adjusting the pace for the particular student.  Even siblings do not grow at the same rate.  We must be careful not to weary in building those foundations,  and we must  not be afraid to back up and shore up a wobbly foundation when one is discovered. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Day 21..Travel Center????

Set up a Travel Center today. Include travel lists, travel documents, travel accessories, frequent flyer information, travel destination files, and books on travel. Complete instructions follow. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 136)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Travel with carry-on luggage and skip the lines at the airport. Make a drop-dead short packing list and stick to it! Light travelers are free and independent. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 142)

For me...this is ridiculous.  I don't travel,  unless you consider a 45 minute ride to visit my daughters traveling....or a sprint to the grocery store etc.  We take a family vacation once in a very blue moon...but not often enough to warrant going all out on setting up a travel,  I put my attention elsewhere...and set up an errand center.  I do go on my weekly all emcompassing trip into town....and I hate forgetting anything that I might need for the week.  So,  I thought an errand center would make the most sense.
My errand center consists of a pad and pen on my desk....this is to write down what we need for the week.  Everything goes on this list...from pet food, to school supplies,  to decorating items, to groceries, prescriptions, library name it,  I write it down.  I also make sure my cloth shopping bags are ready and in the trunk of my car.  As the week goes by,  I have a box in the trunk of my van...and anything that needs to come into town...returns, repairs etc.....into the box in the trunk.  I store my cloth bags in the car....bags of used cloths that are for donations...into the trunk.
The night before errand day,  I plan my route...and plan a nice lunch with the kiddoes.  We also make sure we spend a nice time at the library.  We treat errand day like a treasure hunt...the kids also bring some of their earned money for that little car they just have to have...or the new Owl City CD....or new colored pencils. 
So,  my errand center is set....and I like having that all simplified.  :-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Day 20. Mindful of the Mundane.

Today, practice living in the present---not in fast forward or reverse.  Do one mundane job with your full attention.  When you pay attention in your daily life, whatever you do becomes transformed.  Step 1.  Sit still for a few minutes before beginning the next activity on your To Do list.  Focus on your breathing.  When you feel calm, centered, and grounded, turn your attention to your task.  Next, walk slowly to the site of your task.  Step 2.  Now do the job slowly and deliberately.  Perform this act as if it were your last.  Step 3.  When mental and physical distraction arise, remind yourself to refocus.  If the interruption is about something you must do later---such as calling the plumber---write it down and return to your chore.  (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 131)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Sign up for a week-long retreat that requires you to be silent.  A week of silence will be one of the most renewing weeks of your life.  (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 135)

I like the mundane. I like the simple. I like putting myself into a mindless task and making it mindful. I like folding laundry and praying for every child as I fold their socks and undies and shirts and pants. I like cutting up veggies and fruit. I like washing the floor and making it shine when my back is in good order. I like the methodical work of weeding the garden. I like hanging clothes our on the line one piece at a time...clip by clip. I find it very spiritual to be engrossed in the simple activities of the day. Our culture is so rush ....rush...rush...get it done...NOW! In it's mentality. This is hard for me. The rush for production seem almost anti-productive. The more I try to go faster...the more my feet slip.

Being a homeschooling mom, there is always a long lists of Academics, housework, spiritual and moral training, meals, yard work, laundry. There are books to be read...there are groceries to be bought...lessons to be planned meals to be cooked. There are emergencies to tend boos to kiss...swings to push and heinies to wipe. It is never ending....which is also a mantra in itself. Gott get it done.
When we embrace the day to day..the simple...the becomes meaningful and even enjoyable.
Today, I learned to sit still.....for 10 whole minutes...I sat. I closed my eyes and I breathed very deliberate, mindful breaths. I cleared my mind of the "gotta do-s." It was pleasant.

Off to mindfully cook

Day 19. Run Fewer Errands....

Today, create a box for errands.  You can use a great-looking basket, plastic tub, or shopping bag.  Whatever works.  Keep it by the door and fill it with film to be developed, shoes to be repaired, purchases to be returned, and papers to be taken to the copy center.  On errand day, take the box in the car.  When you come home, it will be empty.  What a feeling! (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 123)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Run errands just one day a week.  Designate a particular day and write it on your calendar.  Obviously, some errands are urgent and cannot wait for Errand Day.  Learn to discern the difference between urgent and non-urgent errands.  To run fewer errands, look for the underlying reasons behind your errands.  Then eliminate the reasons! (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 130)

When I began homeschooling, one of the first things I realized was that I had to be HOME if I wanted to homeschool. I also realized we had set ourselves up to live on one income...and back then, it was a rather meager one. So, I learned to try Nd make all my trips into town on e a week. As time went on, and my older kids were involved in more outside activities, I found myself on the road constantly. I put 26,000 miles on my car the first year I owned it!! Those were all driving kids back and forth to swim practices, art
Lessons, music lessons etc. This year our lives have taken a turn to the calmer (I hope) as the older kids are all in college or working in the field with daddy....and my younger kids are re-settling into a home lifestyle...which works better for me. I had run myself ragged and physically exhausted....I like being home.

Anyway, I keep 2 baskets by my front door. One is a collapsible cloth shopping basket...and another big wicker basket. Both have handles and are pretty to look at. The wicker ones hold gloves, hats and scarves in the winter, and sun caps, sunglasses and other stuff you grB Shen leaving the house. My shopping basket holds anything that needs to be given back to its rightful owner, toys other kids left here...their socks, sippy cups, books etc. I also keep su screen, a few dollars in the zipper pouch, my sunglasses, and anything else I need to grab on my way out. In the summer, I grab the whole basket on my way out. I pack it with sunscreen, goggles, towels and off to the pool we go....

I also have a cloth library bag that hangs from my coat rack. As we finish our library books they go in there. On my way out to the store, I grab the bag....

So, older ds blew the engine in his car...and now the only days I have for errands are either Tuesdays or Thursdays it is! All week long I have a pad and pen on my kitchen desk...and as we use up...I write it down. As I find a need ...I write it down. On Wednesday, I make up my itinerary for the next day. I try to include a trip to the library....and I also take my kids out for a light lunch. It breaks up the chore parts and we have time to chat. This week we have about 9 we will quickly do our Bible story and reading...then off into the world! I will try to make sure I get all that we need in that one trip.....anything else dh will have to pick up during the week....and that is always hit or miss.

I find being a list Akers makes it so much easier to get organized and be productive. ....

More later.

Day 18 results

I did it!!! I really , really did it. I stopped procrastinating and opened a family company on my quickbooks program. I back entered all of our income and expenses from January 1, 2011 and even balanced the checkbook and credit card accounts!

Then, since dh brought home a lovely new to me 4 drawer file cabinet, I decided to attack the files I emptied out my old broken and falling apart cabinet...cleared out all the old paperwork and made up new files for our 2011 expense receipts. I also made files for all of our car titles and maintenance, property deed, birth certificates, wills, social security cards....insurances etc. I also let my older kids know where everything in an emergency, they would know where to look.

I then put all the older papers into expandable files...wrapped with a rubber band...and up in the attic they go. I have dated the file, so I will know when it is ok to toss. I also made a file for all of our appliances and electronic equipment with the software discs, extra cords etc. Wow!! It feels great! to look at day 19 & 20.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Day 18....Financial Simplicity

Happy Monday to you!
Day #18's task is:

To achieve financial freedom, first figure out what you have and then manage it well.  Today, collect your documents that are associated with large assets---documents for your car, house, investments, and so on---and put them in one filing cabinet called Assets.  For your house: file your deed, purchase contract, closing papers, title policy, and insurance papers.  For your investments: file confirmations, year-end statements, and tax reporting forms.  For cars: file ownership papers, registration documents, and insurance papers.  (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 116)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Don't use your credit card for three months.  Be resolute.  Or, every time you use your credit card, deduct the amount in your checkbook.  Better yet, trade in your credit card for a debit card.  It automatically withdraws the amount from the bank.  You'll spend less.  

Attacking the finances! I have been working on taming this beast for a while...and I am sort of getting it. If only I could reign in dh's spending.....he just doesn't always realize the impact on our general finances. He works so hard, so it is difficult to deny him anything he wants if we happen to have the money available...even if it is earmarked for something else....sigh. financial rules
1. Pay your savings account first...every matter what. Decide what is a reasonable amount and set it aside. No cheating!

2. Christmas comes every matter, how much do you want to spend? Split that amount up by 40...and start putting that amount away more credit card debt there.

3. Pay your credit cards in full every single month. If you can't afford it....don't buy it. If you have to pay down credit off your smallest first, then put that amount towards your next card and so on until it is all paid off.

4. Pay extra principle on your mortgage...and your car payment every month...over time it adds up to much less interest you have to pay.

5. Re- without. If I don't need it...I don't buy it. Period!

6. Watch those sneaky ones etc. Coffee....snacks...impulse buys.....give yourself an allowance each week for these kinds of things. We all need a treat...budgeting for them makes the cost not sneak up on you.

This year I had intended on putting all of our expenses into my quickbooks, but just never got to it.....maybe this is the incentive I need!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Days 13-17 Lent Simplification.

This week I really focused on getting my kids back into their routines so I didn't have the time to blog I just figured I would give a quick overview of my progress.  I did try to keep up on the challenges,  and I plan to finish up some more this weekend.  I also can not find my camera.  I was taking pictures of the progress of the boys room renovation, put it down (big mistake!) and can't find it.  UGH!!!

Day 13 Challenge:Today, examine all of the projects you have not completed. To locate them, look into files, inside drawers, in closets, and under the bed. As they surface, make a list of things you promised yourself, or others, to do. Divide the list into Big Projects and Small Projects. See how many you can come up with in 30 minutes. Then ask yourself, "Which projects can be jettisoned? Which are a burden? Which ones are totally unrealistic? Which ones am I willing to start today? Finally, drop one project from your life and box up all its paraphernalia. You know what we are talking about --- paint sets, knitting needles, unread magazines, and plans for building a dome-shaped doghouse. Finally, place the supplies to be recycled in the trunk of your car. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 81)

                                    OR for serious simplifiers only...

Collect all your unfinished and unstarted projects. Next, toss your projects and the paraphernalia that goes with them. Who knows what new interests you may discover if you free yourself of the deadweight of old business. Remember how good it felt when you finished final exams and could throw out your notes? (30 Days to a Simpler LIfe, p. 85)

I have already done this when I moved the kids rooms around last year,  so this was not really a challenge for me.  I ended up saving my knitting needles and my crochet hooks....but I tossed EVERYTHING else...all scraps,  wool, etc.  I decided to start with a clean slate.  I always felt guilty buying new stuff for my projects because I had something else at home...but THEN,  I didn't want to DO any projects,  because I didn't want to put time into a craft or project that wasn't going to come out how I wanted it.  DILEMNA.  So,  by getting rid of it ALL,  I can get what I need one project at a time......solved!
DAY 14:
Today, go around your house with a shopping bag and fill it with outdated magazines, catalogues, newsletters, newspapers, brochures, and books. Put the magazines and books in the trunk of your car to be taken to the library or your health club. Put the rest in your recycle bin. Finally, make a pile of newsletters and clipped magazine articles that you intend to read immediately.

(30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 86)

DONE!  I put all the newspapers in the burn box,  catalogs I am keeping in the magazine rack,  and the rest...gone!

                                        OR for serious simplifiers only...

Go on a "Low-Information Diet." Say "No!" to extraneous information for one week. Just read what you must for your profession. Don't read irrevelant articles in magazines, newspapers, and newsletters. Avoid catalogues and self-improvement books. Shun the television. In your car, don't listen to radio shows or mind-bending tapes. Instead, play soothing music from tapes or CDs. Finally, dodge advertising where possible. Consume fewer info calories. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 92)

This one will be hard to do for me.  Avoid Catalogues???????  Don't think I can do it!In the car,  I put my radio station to the Christian Praise Music station....and I use my drive time for worship...nice.   Does Radical Homemakers count as a self improvement book????
DAY 15:
Today seek, sort, and organize the keys to everything in your life---cars, boats, bike locks, gates, sheds, houses, and offices. Purchase key labelers and rings and make duplicates, if needed. Finally, create a place just for keys. Install a rack or board with pegs or nails and label it so missing keys can be identified. This system works well for duplicate and seldom-used keys. For everyday keys, we have three suggestions: 1) Put a basket by the front door for family members to deposit their keys. 2) Hang a hook inside your entry door. 3) Provide each family member with his own complete set of keys.

(30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 93)

Okie Dokie....I think I can handle the household stuff...we are not really over run with keys.  BUT,  we need to come up with a better system than a "key" drawer for our clients keys.  It has worked forever,  but I would  prefer a "prettier" system.  Must talk to dh.....and work on this one over the weekend.

                                              OR for serious simplifiers only...
Systematize everything you do repeatedly. To find out what needs revamping, look for things you do randomly. Before you design a system, ask yourself, "Can I eliminate this routine completely?" Dropping a routine is the simplest system of all. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 100)

I am not really sure which routines this is talking about,  but I have been working on our family's routines.  I find my boys function so much better when they know "what comes next."  Hmmmmm....I do wish I know which types of routines they were suggesting to drop.

DAY 16:
Today, declutter your desktop and surrounding counters. Spend at least an hour sorting and tossing. Make your work space the most efficient area in your life. Clutter is especially annoying when it is on your desk or in your office. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 100)

Office is decluttered....have one TO DO filing is caught up....and I even tossed all my dried up pens.  I call that done!  Now I have to set up my schooling desk...getting ready to REALLY write out lesson plans  I also have to buy a new printer for the school room.  I dont like the file system for planning,  but I do use a modified workbox system that I love.  As I set up my schoolroom,  I must make sure I make my work area simple, usable, and effective.

                                     OR for serious simplifiers only...

Spend several hours ruthlessly editing your files. If you don't have a filing cabinet, but an inexpensive filing box to organize your important papers. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 110
I did this a few months ago...and it doesn't need I guess I don't have to worry about this one.  YAY!
DAY 17:
To simplify your computer life, make three piles: pile one, manuals; pile two, floppy discs and CD-ROMs; and pile three, registration materials and bills of sales. Read on to discover how to handle these piles. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 111)

Actually,  I keep these in my file cabinet.  Whenever we buy a new computer or hardware,  appliance etc,  I file the manual, cd-rom and any other related paperwork with it...that way it is always easy to find.
                                      OR for serious simplifiers only...

Keep your computer free of superfluous stuff. Delete programs you rarely use. Don't get lulled into buying new fonts, games, graphics, and utilities that you won't use. Frivolous program slow down computers and create clutter --- more CDs, more manuals, and more information to manage.

Hmmmmmmm........I don't have many programs,  but I have tons of homeschool downloads, pdf's, docs etc.  I would probably be able to use them more efficiently if I filed them better.....I am not sure I really want to spend the time to do that though.  LOL.

There is my week in simplifying!  I would say it was sort of successful.  Still didn't get to that school closet though!


Week in Review 3/28- 4/1/11

Well,  the barfing is over!!!  HOORAY!!!  We had a pretty decent week of school, especially since we were pretty whiplashed from the week.  That,  and my df is having some serious health problems and she was in the hospital all week.  I am hoping the doctors finally have a diagnosis (Lyme disease...UGH!) and she is on the mend. 

On Tuesday,  Hammy had a dentist cavities,  but probably orthodontic work...we shall see. We also had our first library trip in ages.  The kids were so good,  we even got in a good grocery shopping.

The room we are putting our schoolroom into has been emptied,  but while we are renovated the little boys bedroom,  they are sleeping in the schoolroom.  I can not wait to move in there!!!!  We have been schooling in the livingroom and kitchen for 10 years...and I can not stand the mess anymore.  It is driving me nuts!!! I am hoping to paint this weekend and have the boys out of there and upstairs within 2 wweks.  Please pray this job gets done QUICK!

So..on for our Academic week

Our Bible Theme:  Gabriel Announces to Mary she will have a Baby:

I am using Veritas Press Gospels with Christian Liberty Press Book F (I think...It is the one on the Gospels...LOL)

I tied this weeks Art/ Picture study into our Bible stories...we studied Fra Angelico's "The Annunciation."
Notice the martyred monk in the backround.
In History,  we studied the building of the Suez Canal.  We all found it very interesting....We also studied the geography connected with this section of SOTW with the AG.
The kids all made progress in their Light Units in Math, LA and Reading. 
Hammy began Singapore Math's Challenging Word Problems 1.  He likes word problems,  but these are ot too challenging...yet.

And Tallulah has begun Life of Fred Decimals and Percents in addition to her regular Light Units.  We LOVE Fred!!!!
We also began a daily walk.  I think this is really helpful for wiggly boys and tired crabby Mammas.  Tallulah also walks the neighbors dog,  who is looking quite chubby these,  it is good for them too.  I try to take them out before lessons...sort of walking to school.  I am hoping dh will take over this walk so I can get school set while they are out...hint...hint.  It would also be so good for him and bringing his diabetes into control.  We shall see....but in the meantime,  I use the walk to enjoy their conversation...and drill them on their math facts, spelling words, history facts for the week, Bible verses etc.  i need to make sure to bring my memory lists with me.  They think it is fun to drill this way....I like stealth teaching!  This time has also lead to some great nature study.  As we live in a very wooded area,  there is always something interesting to see.  Today we saw a TURKEY BUZZARD!  That thing was almost as big as Hammy...AND he was not budging from the middle of the road.  he was eating a dead squirrel...and was truly enjoying his meal.  We decided to turn back home rather than interrupt his feast....LOL

So,  to go plan next week!


Friday, March 25, 2011

Week in Review: 3/25

Well...this was a week of barf.  Poor kiddoes.....this was possibly the worst stomach bug my kids have ever had.....yuck!  We did manage to get some school in...lots of stories read....

We finished The Wind in the Willows.  Hammy LOVED it....LOVED!!!!
Hammy finished his CLE Grade 2 Book 1 CLE Reader Helping Hands. He also learned how to add and carry the 10's!  He is the first kid to just get it!  I love CLE math...and the gentle gradual way they teach new concepts. 

We read about "The Scramble for Africa."  and I had an AHHA!  Moment.

My moment:  For as long as I have been homeschooling,  I always begin our history lessons with the narrative part...and when I ask the kids for narrations,  the kids look at me like a deer in the headlights.  The night before our history day,  I was reading through the Kingfisher Encyclopedia to learn about The Scramble...I had never read about it before...and then I realized,  I needed the backround information in order to make the narrative make sense...(BIG HEADSLAP!)  So,  for our lesson,  I read our Kingfisher to them first...went over the timeline and map stuff...and THEN read SOTW....The kids were able to answer EVERY SINGLE NARRATION question.....So,  after 16 years...I am changing my method!  LOL.

I am making my final decisions on next years curricula...and will be posting on that one it all comes in.

DD wants to do History Odyssey,  but I am not sure about that.  I am drooling over TOG...AGAIN...but I KNOW it doesn't work for me. 

Oh...and I finally decided on Elemental Science...we shall see...LOL.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 11. Minimalism

Oh, how I wish I was allowed to be a minimalist! My family has so much CRAP!!! When you live in a house as small as ours with as many people, who are now turning into full sized people, it is hard to turn around without your behind knocking something over!

So, since we are now creating my schoolroom, I am going to plan to keep it simple...not overloaded with stuff or even closets unless I can get nice even, smooth lines. The clutter and mess around me, makes my mind cluttered and feel confused and messy. I think the same might be said of my students. We like things very simplistic. Even our curricula...not too many worksheets or extraneous nonsense.

So, today's challenge:

The day #11 challenge is:

Today, create a minimalist environment in one room.  In that room, remove the wall art.  (You might put it under your bed temporarily.)  Next, remove everything except the lamps from tabletops, dressers, and counters.  Most people live in rooms that are overfurnished and overstimulating.  In these spaces, we are distracted from the present moment by too many objects from the past.  This task will enable you to experience one extremely simplified room. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 69)

OR for serious simplifiers only---

Create a minimalist environment in every room of your house.  What more can we say?
(30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 73)

I don't think I would be permitted to do every room in the house. They would run me out of town! But, ummmmmmm....maybe modified

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Day #10. Knick-knack Paddy-whack throw away the crap.....

Beware of overfurnished, overdecorated living spaces.  Create feelings of comfort and serenity by living with less.  Today, let go of at least ten knickknacks.  There are three categories of knickknacks---meaningful, semimeaningful, and meaningless.  Look for ones you have outgrown.  If you can't part with ten, or any at all, put several in a cardboard box and store them out of sight, in an Ambivalence Center.  Experience your home with few visual distractions. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 64)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Abide by this rule: When something new comes into your home, let go of something old.  Everything has a life cycle.  Embrace change. (30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 68)

Today's challenge is to get rid of it! Now, if it was me and only me in this house, there would be no Knick knacks! Where would I put all the rest of the books I want to buy if I had more tchatchkes as my mom called them? Now mom, she loved her stuff. Her apartment overfloweth...and can you believe when she passed away, I packed it all very carefully into boxes and stored it in our shed to be gone through by my brother and his wife, my daughters and sons when they have their own homes. I actually have her china closet here in my living room....and it is gorgeous...but is is mostly empty. I don' like too many things because with little kids in the house, they either get broken, and I get upset...or the ones I really couldn't care less for live on until I have to peel the dust off of them. I am sure however, that finding 10 dinky things to get out of here won't be too much trouble :-). Hmmmmm.....where to begin....and when do we get to toss all the odd cups and dishes...and Tupperware containers without lids and lids without containers? Now that will be a progress filled day!

A Week of BARF! What to do during those bad days.

Ugh!  If I need to wash one more bucket or blanket covered in puke,  I may run screaming from my if you see a crazy woman careening down the road...please don't look at me weird,  just have some sympathy.  7 days of puke and poop is enough to try the best of a Mom's soul.

So....I have been pondering or homeschool....and trying to think of ways to start off these seasonal breaks...which happen due to sickness and can't be planned open themselves to a fresh start and a new plan.  I love many aspects of the curricula we are using,  but I feel it is not the best fit for my very active boys without some serious tweaking.  Since I am a natural tweaker,  this hasn't been too much of a problem. 

I am working on our schedule,  re-reading the WTM,  re-devouring the Ambleside Online site and enjoying the WTM forims more than ever....amybe too much. (But as I am trying to rest a lot and allow my body to get healthy again,  I may as well exercise my mind!)

A post that struck me today was "what to do on a bad day....when the kids don't wanna...and quite frankly,  you don't wanna...When there are tears, or harsh words, or down right  obstinance.  What about those days when you are sure that kid is dumb as dirt because he still can't remember that 2+3=5 or a noun is a person, place or thing...although you have been repeating everyday for the past 2 yars....sigh....

There were some good ideas.....One especially that I plan to incorporate into our daily schedule.  We are going to walk to school from now on.
I love this idea!  Thanks Hunter!

I really think this will help get us started fresh...get a little exercise and fresh our minds get ready to begin our day.

I will post the new schedule in another post.

 Here are things I do during those BAD days:

On bad days....I usually..
Organize something...anything...take a before and after picture to see your progress...feels so good!

Take a walk

blow off school and read good books to my kids

make everyone go to their room and play or read quietly

put on a movie for the kids while I read a book

send them outside with instructions not to come back in until I call them. (make sure there is a pitcher of water and cups on the deck, and they all went potty BEFORE going out. Only bloody booboos are a reason to break this rule.)

Give them the choice to sit down and get their work done or clean their room...whichever sounds more pleasant.

Make a list of things I need done...and set the little army to work. No griping or I may add to my list.

Get someone to take them for a few hours (I rather stay home) Grandpa, or an Aunt or older sibling, so I can either rest, or clean ..whichever is more needful.


Be nice to me....go to my room and rest, or read, or web search, or take a nice long shower.

A bath with a glass of wine and a good book...and a "do not disturb" mandate.

Go to the park and let them run it off

Call a friend and cry...let it all out and then get back to business.

When all else fails...I Love Lucy Re-runs and ice cream usually do the trick....for me anyway :-)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Day 9 Organize Your Recipes

Here is the challenge:

Day #9 is here. Today's task is:

Organize your recipes! Make a three-ring binder for Favorite Family Recipes and another for Recipes to Try. You will need two binders, two divider sets with tabs, a three-hole punch, and a few clear vinyl sheet protector pages.

Notebook #1. Favorite Family Recipes: Gather all of your recipe cards, recipes from magazines, and your favorite dog-eared recipes in cookbooks. On 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper, photocopy recipes you use frequently. Divide them into hors d'oeuvres, salads, entrees, and desserts. Place them in your notebook. This notebook will contain all those old favorites like Mom's Apple Crisp and Uncle Charlie's Chili. It will not contain untried recipes.

Notebook #2. Recipes to Try: Create another binder with dividers and add a top-loading clear sheet protector to each section. Recipes collected from magazines and friends are placed inside the sheet protectors. When you have several odd sizes collected, photocopy them onto 8 1/2 x 11-inch paper, punch, and put into the notebook. After you have tried a recipe from this notebook and know it is a keeper, transfer it to your Favorite Family Recipes notebook.

(30 Days to a Simpler Life, p. 55)

OR for serious simplifiers only...

Make a list of your top twenty simplest dinners. Select dinners with the fewest ingredients. Choose recipes with five or fewer ingredients. Post this list on your fridge and use it to plan dinners during the work week. (30 Days to a Simpler LIfe, p. 63)

This one is also a no brainer for me...LOL.  My oldest dd copied our family recipes into a blank notebook holiday recipes including many from Dh's Grandma,  who was a fabulous cook.
I have my standbys....Betty Crocker (Now on my 3rd Copy!)
For an education in whole foods prreparation,  including combining vegetarian foods for whole protiens,  none is better than this one::(Now on my 2nd copy)
And,  for special meals,  a great geography lesson,  and still keeping in the whole foods...very yummy catergory,  this one can't be beat!
Although we are not vegetarians, (excpet for Ding,  who has been one since she was 3,)  I find it very easy to add a meat dish or add meat to the main recipe. 

These are the only recipes I keep.  Everything else is either in my head, at or

Easy menus:
Breakfast:  must include 1 protien (usually some kind of eggs) and one carb (usually fresh fruit or whole grain toast.  I also do muffins, granola bars (made with lots of ground nuts, or whole grain, hi-protien pancakes.

Lunch:  PB&J, Grilled Cheese, leftovers, soup etc.

Dinners: 1 meat,  2 veggies, (one cooked, one raw) 1 grain.  I  very often stir fry, broil,  or make a crockpot with all but the salad.

Now,  I am going completely gluten free due to Hashimoto's and Fibromyalgia.  I am a very simple cook...unless we have something special.  I try not to bake too much.

Anyway,  my recipe books are already pared down...maybe I live simpler than I thought.