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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

H is for Heart for Homeschooling

Check out the ABC's of Homeschooling over at 5 Kids and A Dog  to see what other homeschoolers are talking about.
 
H is for Heart.  I might get in trouble for some of what I say in this post, but it is what is on my heart this morning and I might add, solely my opinion.  For the record, I am preaching to myself on some level.   Homeschooling is not for the faint of heart, it takes what I like to call "sticktoitivness" aka long term commitment. It's not for people who never finish what they start or those who are easily distracted or aggravated by the presence of children just being children. 
 
Christian Homeschooling especially, demands that we have a heart for God's best for our children, a heart for learning, a heart for commitment, a heart for obedience.  As much as I wish it was, homeschooling isn't for everyone.  For the mom that can't be bothered with teaching their child (aka wanting a curriculum that doesn't require much of their involvement), they may not have a heart of homeschooling.  I hope I am not misunderstood because I know moms of multiple children do need curriculum that simplify their school day.  I am referring to the mothers who don't want their decision to homeschool affecting their lifestyle too much. 
 
Making the decision to homeschool isn't a decision to make lightly and it isn't easy to implement for a lot of families.  It takes a level of sacrifice that some mothers are unwilling to make.  Sometimes it requires giving up a second income and all the "perks" that came with that second income.  For the mom that was already staying at home it may mean chores are harder to get accomplished or that grocery shopping may happen in the evening or on weekends.  Speaking of groceries, food consumption may go up with everyone home more often.  Our grocery bill almost doubled when we first started homeschooling, but since we had a loss of income we had to make some serious adjustments.  If not for a heart for homeschooling something like that could have easily caused me to say, "We can't do this.  I need to get a job." 
 
Having a heart for homeschooling, in my mind, means staying the course and not being swayed by emotions, financial struggles or the opinions of others.  I have seen some homeschool parents who homeschool one year, put children in school the next, pull them again and on and on.  That kind of thing wouldn't work for my family so I have a hard time seeing how that is good for anyone and to me, that scenario says there is no heart of homeschooling.  It screams indecisiveness and uncertainty.  I feel the need to clarify I am talking about the rule, not the exceptions of family illness or tragedy that requires children going back to school for a season.
 
The flexibility of homeschooling is truly wonderful and if homeschooling mothers can remember that it may make having a heart for homeschooling easier to come by.  As a new homeschooler I had it in my head that school happens from 8-3pm.  I needed to have some experience and get some education from other homeschoolers to truly own the idea that homeschooling can be flexible and that I could be flexible.  Have you ever been so rigid about stuff that nothing sways you?  I truly had to learn that learning can happen outside the hours of 8-3 and I also had to train my children for that as well, since they were so used to that school schedule.

I learned that a heart for homeschooling means that what I want may not always come first. I am not saying we have to be martyrs or suddenly not take care of ourselves because we are overwhelmed with school.  What I am saying is that my personal preferences may have to come at a price of inconvenience now and then because as a homeschooling mom, educating my children is a top priority. 

I also learned that having a heart for homeschooling has no relation to our confidence in our ability to do so or whether or not we feel qualified.  It simply means that I will keep the commitment to homeschool no matter what hard stuff is going on in life and even if it turns out to be nothing like I imagined it would be.  I will not be wishy washy and unsure if I should be homeschooling.  I believe when I began homeschooling that it was divine intervention and that I should commit to it for the duration.  There have been plenty of times I was overwhelmed, wanted to quit, didn't want to be around my kids etc., etc., but I knew quitting was not an option.  I get through those times with prayer and giving myself a time out.  I also try to stay positive and when I am mad about something I try to think of things I am pleased with in our homeschool and remind myself that the good outweighs the not so good.

 Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 NIV

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Noodle the Cliff Jumper

Noodle and Daddy went to the river yesterday to get relief from the Texas heat.  They went to a popular spot and Noodle decided he wanted to jump off the waterfall cliff.  Daddy told him he should wait until he was eight.  Noodle wasn't going for it so Daddy let him go up there thinking he would be too scared to jump, but he went up and jumped right off - at least 6 times.  Yay Noodle!!!





Apparently there were some older kids too afraid to jump so Noodle was sort of a little celebrity after his first jump.  He loved it and keeps begging to go back.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Brain - aka My Organizer

I have a similar 3 ring notebook in Hot Pink, that I call "Mom's Brain."  It is called that because if I don't put in it what I need to remember, then it may not exist, according to my real brain.  I shared the notebook at a recent Mom's Coffee that my homeschool group hosts each month. and it was a mini-hit so I thought I would share it here.  Here is what it looks like most days.  Notice the reams of paper.  I have seen pictures of other mom's binders and lesson planners and I think, "How do they keep it so tidy?"  I stuff and jam everything I can into mine and every once in a while, I purge it and it looks a little better, but tidy isn't a description I would use to describe it, ever.  Uh, my desk is the same way.


Upon opening the first thing inside is a pencil pouch, also hot pink (it's my favorite color, obviously).  I have pens, pencils, highlighters, extra tabs and my voter registration card.  Don't ask why the voter registration card is in there, I don't remember why I stuck it there and now I am afraid to move it.



Behind the pouch is my calendar.  It isn't fancy and it was free.  I printed it from Donna Young




 After my calendar, there is a year at a glance calendar that I got free with an order from Christian Light Publications.  It allows me to find a far off date quickly.

Behind the calendar I keep a page of websites and my usernames and passwords.  Typically I use the same password for everything, but they do vary and I don't want the hassle of trying to remember.  So this page has a list of all the sites I access online where I need a password - from homeschool message boards to bills I need to pay.  It's all there.  Which means I am "done" if I ever lose this binder, but I would never be able to log in to anything  if I didn't have the list. 

 The first tab of my Brain is the homeschool group section, the homeschool group I belong to.  I keep a list of our events, member roster of phone numbers and emails, notes from our meetings and Co-op information in this section.
This is the Homeschool tab.  I have sub-tabs in this section, one for each of my boys.  Immediately behind the tab I have general information that I want to keep at my fingertips.  In the pocket on the left you can see I have some articles printed out from The Well Trained Mind and a flyer from the library we use.  That pocket is stuffed.  On the right is a scope and sequence I printed from World Book I only use it as a reference, I don't follow it.  After that,. I keep a list of books I want the boys to read and I keep curriculum planning lists and wish lists.


Behind the tab for each boy I have things that pertain directly to them.  Bear's high school plans, course descriptions, etc.  Noodle's has book lists and project ideas.  I also keep goal lists and resource lists.


Tab 3 is the Household section.  Below is page one of my cleaning list.  Back when life was less chaotic for me I had a cleaning lady.  This was the list I put together for her.  Now I am a mom without an income of my own and the kids and I follow this list.  Ahem, sometimes.

Also in the household section I keep plans and wishlists.  Below is a design I drew for the future wall unit (sort of a built in, but not really).  I have priced the wood, but I have no idea when my husband and I will have the time to build it.  So, in the Brain it stays.


Household also has local political information, my budget, recipes, calorie information sheets from fast food restaurants, and pet vet information.

The next section is my Mary Kay section.  I have been with MK since 1996.  I keep a catalog, order forms, customer lists and team member lists in this section.  Sadly, I am not the consultant I once was so this section has a layer of dust.


The last tab is for Scouts. I have a Cub Scout and a Boy Scout.  I keep calendars, flyers, camp information, den and troop phone lists etc., in this section.  I also have a separate binder for scouts where I house all the worksheets with belt loop, pins and merit badge requirements and worksheets. 


In the front and back pockets I keep stuff that I can't really decide what to do with or I don't know what category to put it in.  I really am not as organized as I want to be, but this (messy) binder helps me to believe I am.  I tweak it every now and then and I have been known to completely disassemble and start over when I feel it isn't working right for me.

For the organizationally challenged out there, trust me, I can relate and I hope this has inspired you in some way. 


Friday, May 27, 2011

Weekly Accomplishments- Catching Up

I think I have missed at least the last two weeks doing a report.  First I was overwhelmed with getting myself ready for my trip to California and getting everyone else ready for being home without me.  I left the kids with very light "to do" lists for school.

Since Noodle was being cared for during the day by my step-father, I made it easy on both of them by just leaving a packet of worksheets for Noodle to complete during the week.  Here's some of what he did:

A little math.......


 A ittle copywork with art.....


Science Word Search.......


Vertebrate cut and paste.....kind of babyish but I left it for him anyway.....



This week has been a part time week because my brother and his new wife are in town and I just haven't been ready to get back in the full swing of things.  We have been doing math and reading mostly. 
The week before I left Noodle and I broke in a new game called "Super Sentence."  It's kind of the Mad Libs of board games.  We had fun making silly sentences.



Noodle practiced a little handwriting.



I decided to give Noodle a spelling test, just a random test as we never do formal spelling or take spelling tests.  He learns how to spell from doing Explode the Code and CLE Language Arts.  His CLE hasn't introduced spelling tests yet, but will in the next book, so I just thought I'd see how he handled it.  I gave him ten words and he only missed one.  Not bad!  This test focused on the 'short a' sound.  I used the spelling list form Spelling Power.  I think I am going to give him the next test very soon just to see how he does.


We also managed to do Art, which we rarely do, but somehow on a part time week we did it.  I chose an assignment from one of my Scholastic E-books Quick Art Crayon Projects called Silly Circles.  Basically, Noodle had to make pictures out of circles that were already on a page.

From the circles on the page he made the sun, a clock, some grapes, a snowman and an exploding paint ball.




Also this week Noodle had his Cub Scout Crossover Ceremony.  He crossed over from Tiger to Wolf.  Here he is with Daddy, hamming it up for the camera as usual.  He and Daddy are so handsome!!


The Scouts are such a great organization for our family.  Noodle earned 15 Belt Loops and several patches this first year of Cub Scouts.  He sold popcorn, placed 2nd in the Pine Car Derby and he helped with canned good sales.  His Den visited a local Newspaper office, carved pumpkins with the elderly at a local assisted living facility, went to watch a basketball game at the local high school, went on a weekend camp out, learned to tie knots, play marbles, play kickball and so much more!  It has been such a rewarding and enriching experience.

Bear also had a Scouts moment this week - he had a Board of Review and officially became a Star Boy Scout.  He has had the requirements done for quite some time, but had been unable to secure a Board of Review until this week.  His next step is Life Boy Scout, he already has those requirements met due to the number of badges he has earned already (over 40 I believe) and his volunteer hours.  He just needs to serve in his current position for 6 months before officially getting his next Board of Review.  Once he does that he can begin the process for his Eagle Project.  The goal is for him to complete Eagle by the end of 2012 so that he has a good year and a half in the Troop as an Eagle Scout before graduating high school.

In other news, my husband completed our game room makeover (aka his "man cave").  I returned from my trip to an A/C that is working on overdrive in the Texas heat.  It doesn't want to get cooler than 79 degrees.  I have put in a message to the A/C guy I used last year, but haven't heard back from him yet.  Basically, we have a leak and it needs freon every summer.  Did I mention our A/C is only six years old and that we have been doing this since year two?  Lovely.

We are almost in wind down mode for the summer.  We school year round and take breaks when we feel like it.  Since Texas gets so hot and the only thing to do in the summer is go to the pool or water parks, we school through the summer, mostly wrapping up subjects we don't get to as often.  However, we continue math and reading too.  That said, we start a new curriculum when we finish the prior one.  Sometimes we wait for a magical first day in August, but typically we keep plugging away.  I have seen others posting about their 2010/2011 Yearly Wrap Up, but ours probably won't go up until August.

Until next time.........






Homeschool Mother's Journal 5/27/11







In my life this week…Family.  My brother and his new wife are visiting from California.  This is sort of their honeymoon.  They are staying with my mother, who incidentally lives behind us so we are getting to see them often.  Since our grandparents, uncle and cousin live nearby as well, we have been having get togethers with them too.  Family, family, everywhere I turn! 

In our homeschool this week…A little of this, a little of that.  Reading and Math everyday.  A hodgepodge of everything else depending on the day.  You can get a full Weekly Report when I post it this afternoon. 
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… We have been to the Cub Scouts crossover, seen lots of family, at BBQ dinner at a local BBQ joint that was featured on The Travel Channel last year.  BBQ is pretty much our town's claim to fame.  That and Hollywood likes to film movies here!
My favorite thing this week was…My brother's wedding in California.  It was a week ago today, but I am still counting it for this week :)  I am so happy for him and pray for the best for him and his new wife.  I am hoping I don't have to wait too long to be an Auntie!
What’s working/not working for us…It's all working school wise.  Around the house, the chores are still a challenge to get done it seems.  I want and need a cleaner house.  It's tough and some days it is a higher priority than others.
Homeschool questions/thoughts I have…Next year's plans are on my mind.  I have too much going on right now and really no time to work on them yet.  I don't have all our curriculum in yet, but basically it's only the TOG and Science plans I need to do.  Everything else is pretty much open and go.
A photo, video, link, or quote to share… My brother's wedding cake topper! True to life :)



Giveaway - Teacher Created Resources Safety for PreK- 1st

My latest giveaway is this workbook from Teacher Created Resources, called Safety.  It is basically a safety unit study for PreK-1st. It is 48 pages and covers indoor safety, like cleanliness, things you shouldn't touch, fire and emergency.  It also covers outdoor safety such as appropriate clothing, water/pools, cars/streets, safe play, people/strangers and safety helpers.  This copy is slightly used/handled, but has no writing and basically looks new.

To get entries, leave separate comments when you do any of the following:

1 entry just for commenting on why you'd like this workbook.

1 entry for becoming a follower of this blog (if you already follow just comment to let me know)

1 entry for liking my Facebook Page (if you already "Like" just comment to let me know)

1 entry for sharing this giveaway on FB or Twitter or on your own Blog.  If you do all three, leave separate comments for separate entries.

The winner will be chosen by Random.org - Giveaway ends at Midnight of June 4, 2011. Workbook will be mailed via Media Mail to the winner.  U.S. residents only.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lego Link Up




Game Room/Man Cave Makeover - On a Budget

Some dear readers may remember when my husband brought this home.  That's when it all started.  Hubby had a dream dart machine and now he needed a proper showcase for it.  Let me start off saying that my husband is a wonderful man.  He's a make a way find a way type of guy - when it is something he wants.

After six years of neglecting the game room and the pool table being stored there......yes, stored.....and being a catch all for everyone's junk, he decided to go up there to figure out where this dart machine would go.  I can count on one hand how many times he played pool or even went upstairs in the last six years.  What he found was unacceptable to him (and me for the last six years, but who was listening?) and he started making plans right away.  He was going to paint, pull out the gross carpet and put the laminate wood flooring in, get a big screen tv and some couches.  I really thought this was a pipe dream because we could not afford to just run out and do that on one income.

Turns out I was wrong.  My husband is a bargain hunter and a wheeler and dealer when he wants something.  Craigslist is his best friend. 

First he did some side work and came up with paint and supplies cash.  He decided he would paint the room in 49er colors since they are his favorite football team.  Paint- CHECK.

Then he and my son ripped the carpet out.  We just happened to have left over flooring from our flooring projects from last year.  We actually had enough that we only needed to buy two additional boxes!  Flooring - CHECK.

Then he hit a small bump in the road.  He started talking TVs and at first I just nodded and said, "Uh-huh" lots of times.  He didn't let up so I just flat laid it out that there wasn't $1000 laying around to go drop on a big screen tv and that he needed to just give it up for a while so we could save.  He turned to Craigslist, like he does for a lot of things, and just watched it like a hawk.

I went to California for my brother's wedding on a Saturday and on Sunday I get a text message containing a picture of a giant tv.........IN OUR GAMEROOM.  Lucky for him he found the deal of the century.  He was perusing Craigslist and when he refreshed a new listing was there.  In the flash of an eye he drove to Austin to some "rich" gated neighborhood and bought a practically brand new tv from a couple with a "ginormous" house.  Apparently they had the TV for about two years in an upstairs room that no one ever used.  They turned the TV on maybe five times they said.  He handed over $375 (firm for them!) and promptly drove it home.  He Googled the model number when he got home and discovered that it is a $3000 TV new.    Big Screen TV - CHECK.

The next day he found a tv stand on clearance at the Sony outlet store for $50 - normally $300.  TV stand - CHECK.

All week while I was in California I was receiving text messages about couches.  I told him he'd have to wait, that we didn't have $1000 laying around to drop on couches for a game room/man cave.  I should have just saved my breath because before he picked me up from the airport he picked up two leather like (pleather) couches for $50, took them home, wiped them down and disinfected them and TA-DA.....Couches in the game room - CHECK.

Also, while I was gone he decided that the mini-fridge he kept at work needed to come home, but not before he painted it red and gold to match the room.  My husband is an auto-painter, so he can paint anything.  Fridge to hold cold drinks - CHECK.

A final touch - a pool table light.  A guy at work had one and they made a trade.  Pool table light - CHECK.

If the suspense is killing you.......here are the before and after pictures:














So, there it is, a game room makeover on a budget. Money spent from April's dart game purchase to the couches it was a grand total of $620.  Plus another $60 for the dart game computer monitor that he sent out for repair.  So, I guess $680, technically.

Now, I wonder how long it will take him to come up with the cash for the stairwell carpet I want replaced???
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