Monday, September 29, 2008

If You Make a New Schedule...

...your children will sleep late and throw the whole thing off on the first day. (Sigh.)

It was a really pretty schedule too. It's color-coded and I hung it on the wall in page protectors. Oh well, we will follow the order, if not the time slots.

I feel it's time for some updates around here. One thing is about this multi-tasking I wrote about earlier. I can't do it anymore. It's now officially driving me insane. Thus, the new schedule where Sweetheart goes to play while I do some Pre-K activities with Little Bit and then they switch places. So, that's update number 1.

Update number 2 is: I was talking to S about some character issues with one of the kiddos and he said, "I read your blog and all, but I really think they would do well in their own rooms." So, we talked about it and all the pros and cons and decided to think about it this week. They may end up in their own rooms because he had some good points about our girls. There will be ground rules and all to go with that, but that's update number 2.

I learned earlier in the year that just because someone writes something on their blog doesn't mean they are still following suit a few months later. I guess we all forget to update.

So, there. Now I am off-schedule, but I am updated!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Fitness Friday--The Premier

The bloggy world is kind of slow on Fridays so if someone is not interested in my weight loss goals, they needn't be bored to death. That's why I decided Friday would be the best day to document my (presumed) progress.

So, after I wrote yesterday's post, I had a realization of how wrong and ugly my attitude towards my weight really was. I was super honest and shared it with Karly and guess what? She understood! I KNEW there was a reason we were friends!

Karly told me (via e-mail, we have that issue of several states being between us) that she knew she needed to lose weight and be healthier, but she just couldn't care. I was so there just a week ago! I told you all about the little helpful reminders I keep running across. (I also remembered JulieMom has been posting about it too--see how good I am at ignoring it?) Well, I just can't ignore it anymore.

Karly and I will be encouraging and motivating each other and we just wanted to share the love. If you want to join in on Fitness Fridays--just please do so in the comments! We'll Mr. Linky it up later if there is a need...

OK, my friend the tape measure and I got in the bathroom this morning (before breakfast, mind you) and I wrote all my measurements down. I'm not sure I want to share those right now. I feel funny telling the world wide web how big my bust is, OK? I'm sure I'll get over it. And I don't know how much I weigh, but it's a big number. I'm 5'7", so it will always be a bigger number than say, those who are 5'3" but I'm OK with that. I just want a smaller number for ME.

Maybe this weekend I'll buy a scale and share all the numbers with you. For now, I have them written down so I can share how many inches I've lost each Friday. Assuming there will be inches lost.

Stay tuned next Friday for the update! And go check out Karly's post today!

Oh, I almost forgot! My goals this week are:
1. Cut out cokes.
2. Cut out bedtime snacks.
3. Snack healthy during the day.
4. Watch portions (those labels come in handy!)

Exercise? Not sure yet. I'm motivated...not crazy!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Why I Can't Lose Weight

I really need to. I used to be so skinny. I don't even want to be skinny anymore, just thinnER. I would settle for that. My sister was all motivated this summer to lose weight and I should have jumped on board and done it with her but I just couldn't make myself care at that time. But I keep seeing little reminders all around me that I need to...

First, there was Terry. When she started her challenge I just couldn't get the care going that I needed to. Then, there was MamaTeaching2. She went all out and posted her measurements--everything! Her updates are so inspiring and honest. And there's also Lara. (I suspect we will be hearing about her success soon!) You know, actually, GB was first at Restoring the Years. Wow. I've been ignoring these hints for a while now! And there are several other little things I have read or come across lately that keep reminding me: You need to lose weight!

Wanna know one reason why I don't want to? Because when I do, people will tell me "Oh wow. You look great!"

Huh? You don't want compliments, Brenda? Yes. Yes I do. But people gushing about how much better I look will only mean that I looked horrible before and I have tried to convince myself for a few years that "it's not so bad." So that will mean I was wrong. And I do look bad. That's hard to face up to.

And I don't have any idea what I weigh because we don't own a scale. I'm not sure I want to know. I'm very afraid to step onto a scale. I don't really even want to measure myself.

And I'll just go ahead and say it: I'm not doing this for health reasons. I WANT TO LOOK BETTER! There. Vanity revealed.

But they say to start small and have goals so here are my goals this week:

1. Cut out cokes. In Texas everything is "a coke." You know that right? It goes like this:
Host: Would you like something to drink?
Guest: I would love a coke.
Host: Sure, what kind do you want?
Guest: Do you have Dr. Pepper?

2. Cut out bedtime snacking. Folks, I'll eat even when I'm not hungry. That makes no sense. I can go to bed without a snack. At the very least it can be a healthy one.

OK, those are my goals. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Traveling to the Land of Farm Animals

OK, so I've been looking for a tutorial online on how to make a sweatshirt cardigan. I asked my sewing buddy Rachel if she could help me find something and she sent me a link to this pattern. (Which is perfect for what I needed!)
And ya'll, it just took me straight back to the early 90's!!!! Look at their hair! Better yet...look at the scene behind them!!! That wreath on the wall reminds me of the punched wreaths I used to make out of little scraps of fabric with a screwdriver. Heart-shaped ones, no less. I gave them as Christmas gifts one year. I cough just thinking about the dust those babies attracted on someone's wall.

And that got me to thinking about our college apartment. My roommates and I had quite the 90's country abode, let me tell you. We frequented craft shows and collected all manner of country goodness along the way.

Our kitchen and dining room (if you can call the table area of a 2 bedroom apartment a "dining room") was done in cows. There was cow and cowprint accessories on every square inch of that poor little kitchen. One morning at breakfast I counted 70 something cow items. My only contribution to that room was a cow magnet on the fridge. I still have it too. When I got married a few years later I was clearly too sophisticated for something like cows in the kitchen. I had pigs instead.

In every window of our apartment (that would be...3) we had a balloon valance. Now these were made by hanging a length of fabric from a spring tension rod. Then, you put a spring tension rod on the bottom of the fabric and tucked it up underneath. And last, you stuffed the whole thing with plastic Wal-Mart bags so it was puffy. Oh, they were fine.

Our living room was done in American flags. We started noticing some flag stuff popping up at craft shows and we declared that they would be "the next big thing." So we had Americana pillows on the couch, little flags stuck in all the ivy plants, a flag picture on the wall, etc. Then the Gulf War broke out and you couldn't walk past a booth at the craft show without seeing a flag. We were country when country wasn't cool--so ahead of our time.

And talking about the living room reminds me of our end tables. My roommate Molly procured these huge wooden cable spools for us and we used them as end tables. When we realized we had one more than we needed we all helped take it to Molly's truck so she could take it home that weekend. Well, it was far too big to carry so were letting it roll down the sidewalk and walking behind it. Did I mention it was really hilly where I went to college? The thing was starting to get away from us and giving us splinters trying to hold on to it. It was then that I uttered quite possibly the stupidest phrase to come out of my mouth all through college:

"Ya'll just let go and I'll go down to the bottom of the hill and catch it."

I'll let you soak that statement in for a minute. My roommates didn't think twice about my statement. Obviously, none of us had learned anything in our physics courses.

That sucker picked up momentum in a way none of us could have ever predicted. And things started to move in slow motion for me. I first saw one of my roommates get a horrified look on her face and rush over to try and put her foot in front of the spool. It kicked her back a mile. Then, I came to the realization that I was standing in front of a guy's pick-up truck who lived nearby in the apartments. The spool was headed straight for me and the truck. Still going in slow motion, I became aware that the owner of the truck was watching us from his second story window.

That spool HAD to be stopped and I was the only one to do it. I don't remember much else except that somehow I launched my body at that cable spool and somehow, we both came to rest about 2 inches from that truck.

I still have a scar on my left wrist. I don't really have a moral to this story except to say: don't underestimate the importance of bringing those physics lessons to life. Reading it in a textbook didn't do it for me.

But back to that 90's decor--it was divine. My mother-in-law had a goose kitchen which I remember LOVING. What awesome 90's decorations did I leave out?
Cause I seriously doubt any of you have a story to share about stopping a huge wooden cable spool that was rolling straight towards you downhill.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Dress

OK, Rachel sent the dress on and here is the post at Ahh Duh!. This is the coolest thing ever! Here are the original posts just in case you missed them:

My post
Rachel's post

Thanks Lexie and Lexie's mommy for playing along!

Wonder where the dress will end up next?

Now, scroll down to the next post b/c it's a Keepin' It Real Event, people!

Keepin' It Real: Lesson Plans for Left-Handers

Actually, I'M the left-hander in this situation--not my children. And if you know anything about lefties, then you know we tend to be very graphic, artsy, organized-in-a-different-way, right-brained thinkers.

Come to think of it, it might not be exactly a left-handed problem. There could be other people who tend towards our way of thinking as evidenced by this article. This is possibly my favorite article I have ever read anywhere. I stumbled on it nearly 10 years ago and I have shared it with other people with right-brained tendencies and they have all said the same thing, "YES! YES! THIS IS WHAT I NEED!"
Obviously the author described the problem well. And that is why I cannot make lesson plans. I have no idea if homeschoolers actually make lesson plans or not. I hear about homeschool moms who have to "work on lesson plans" so I assume some do. Some have to, depending on what state they live in, I suppose.
When I taught public school I taught in a utopia-like school where we were not required to turn in lesson plans. Our administrators actually trusted us to be professionals in our field and make our lesson plans each week. They simply asked that we leave them on our desktop if they needed to see them for any reason. For years I slugged through filling up all the little boxes for each subject. In college I actually had to go the whole 9 yards and write out the objective (The learner will....), the appropriate TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) that the lesson covered, the procedures, the materials needed, etc. Ugh.

Then we had training on brain research at our school. We were learning to adapt our lessons and methods to all the different learning styles in our room. Here is where we learned that we should keep koosh balls on the desks for students who needed to fiddle with something while they listened. Here we learned about the need for hydration (imagine that!) and allowed all students to have a water bottle on their desk during the day. Here is where we learned to play classical music while our students worked.

Here is where I learned to make MY kind of lesson plans!!!!

I believe it was called brain mapping or something like that. And from that day forward this is how I made my plans. I thought I would share it just in case it would help anyone out there. If you've ever heard me say I'm working on "lesson plans" please know it's not as complicated as it sounds!

This week I am beginning a unit of study on Chocolate with Sweetheart (grade 3). Here is my lesson plan from last night. OK, actually, I re-copied it so it was legible. The original is much worse.
So, as you can just sort of brainstorm what you want to do on the topic (or subject). And I can actually work off of this. I know others who need to re-copy, make a spread sheet, and color code the whole thing. It makes them happy.

Me? I would lose the spread sheet so why bother?

Well, there you go. Thank you for joining us on the tour of my strange little mind.

So tell me, how do you make plans? (doesn't have to be homeschooling!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

For All The "Part-Time Homemakers" Out There

I just wanted to throw a word of encouragement out to those moms who find themselves wanting to be home but who...aren't.

I was thinking about you the other day. I was remembering that place I was in where I longed to be home, but had to be at work instead. My heart had changed, but my situation had not.

I remember finding the section of the Ladies Against Feminism website where people told their coming home stories. Sometimes they encouraged me. Sometimes they made me want to spit nails. I knew I would never be the one telling my story.

No matter what, no matter how impossible I believed my situation to be--I just couldn't get it out of my head that God was bigger. That it was NOT impossible with Him.

I still believed. And yes, it took time. I remember thinking, "If I just knew that it would only be 2 more months or 1 more year or whatever...I could have hope knowing that I only had a little more time to work before I would be home and then I could relax."

But faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. And I'm not here to tell my story. I've told it on this blog several times.

What I wanted to say to you is: you are already a homemaker. I know people just love to divide everyone up into little categories, one of which is: working mothers or homemakers. But I don't think it's that easy. Whether you have the whole day at home or just a few hours--you are still a homemaker. You just have less time to do it!

And I don't believe you can do it all. I never could, anyway. I still can't! So I think you are going to have to do 2 things--no, make that 3.

1. Believe that you are already a homemaker. Live it. Be it! Get yourself a lovely apron to put on when you get home. Change clothes when you get home. Put that work I.D. away. You can't deny that you do work outside the home, but you can "transform yourself" when you get home. Your family doesn't need an extension of your secretary job or whatever (I was a secretary for a while). They need a wife, a mom, a homemaker. In that order. So shed that other job when you walk in the door, if possible. And spend those 3 or 4 hours you have doing what you have been wanting to do all day.

2. You can't do it all, so prioritize. There is no way you can work full-time, or really even part-time and still be an all-around homemaker, so you are going to have to decide on a few areas to focus on. I found out a few years ago that the thing that blessed my husband the most was having his clothes ready. Washed, ironed, put away and available for him to grab and go. When he had to search for socks or iron a shirt in the morning before work he hated it. However, when I was working--he didn't care if I cooked or not. In fact, many time he said, "Let's just go out to eat so the kitchen will stay clean!" So, for me... I needed to focus on laundry and ironing in my few short hours at home. Of course there is picking up and helping kids with homework and all that stuff too. Like I said, talk to your husband and decide what things you could feasibly do in the evenings and weekends. Then, get help for the rest. Even moms who stay home have their kids doing housework! It's O.K. for them to help. In fact, it's good for them! Everything else, hire it out if you can. That's totally up to you and your husband. I'm just saying: talk about it and decide.

3. Pray. Sounds obvious, huh? I do believe that the way God intended the family to work did not involve someone else caring for the kids all day while mom and dad go their separate ways. It's too divisive of a plan! But many of us find ourselves in exactly that situation. Pray. Pray for the future that you can be home and pray for now that God will help you in the situation you are in.

That's my word of encouragement for the day!

Friday, September 19, 2008

What a Difference a Week Makes

Last Friday--evacuated and doing school at my parent's "country home." Waiting for the storm to hit at home. Watching hours and hours of news coverage. The only highlight was Geraldo. The house was picked up and boarded up and husband had driven 6 hours to be with us the night before.

This Friday--home but no school all week. I know, I know--the public schools didn't have a choice and I did. I think I chose wisely because I've gotten a lot of stuff done around the house! The house is un-boarded and almost put back together. Husband is finally back at work thanks to generators.

It's been a whirlwind! I feel guilty having power when so many don't. My sister-in-law and brother-in-law came over to wash clothes yesterday. They aren't projected to get power anytime soon. Ug.

We also invited a friend and her little boy over to play yesterday--in the light and air conditioning! She can't go back to work until the daycare gets power. I don't know how parents are able to go back to work when schools are not open yet. Talk about a rock and a hard place!

We haven't ventured out to a store yet although many more are opening every day--some without power only selling non-perishables. We would have had to go get a few things on Thursday but my parents got back into town bringing groceries with them. We feel like we have such an abundance of food now! Even Sweetheart, viewing the things Grandma and Grandpa brought home said, "Mom! There's so much food!" Ah, perspective.

We were planning to get rid of cable on the 15th of this month. New budget requirements and all. Anyway, after living with only 1 channel for a few days, and not watching many kids shows all last week because it was always on the news...when our local PBS station came on, Sweetheart was overjoyed! Again, after living without....even little things seem like blessings.

So, we've had a lot of good lessons this week in living with less and what really matters.

And now? I noticed Sonic was open and I am going to get a beverage. And then try to find the homeschool room under all the junk. So maybe we could have school around here next week.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I Have a Question

What do you think? Should kids share a room or have their own room?

Now, I know that question has a lot of factors to consider so let me give you some details. I have 2 girls and no boys. I have 2 bedrooms for them. Currently, they are sharing a bedroom and the other room is the playroom. In that past they have had their own rooms. We've gone back and forth.

What are the benefits you have found for sharing/not sharing a room? I have some thoughts of my own, but I want to hear from others.

Give me some parental wisdom here folks!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ike Huffed and He Puffed...

It's not too bad. We got home Sunday morning with no traffic problems. I was really concerned everyone would be trying to come back and we would get stuck for hours on the road. Instead, we had roadway trouble. Lots of roads were impassable, either because of water or power lines and we had to do a bit of weaving around town to get home. There was no power most of the way home. That was obvious from all the dark businesses lining the road.

Here is what we found at home:

This is the area of our house formerly known as "fence." We normally like our fences to be vertical.

This is the area of our house formerly known as "gate." Ditto on how we normally like our gates.

This is an area of our house formerly known as "shingles." The neighbor across the street said he watched our shingles flying through the air all night.

Remember our playhouse?


It's really not bad though. We spent the last 2 days cleaning up limbs and shingles and hauling our various house parts out to the curb. We know we are very fortunate.

Our power came back on Sunday afternoon. THAT is incredible! The water was declared fit to drink yesterday and a few stores in our city are open now. There are lines everywhere, for gas, food, ice, etc. Thankfully, we haven't needed anything yet. My parents are still out of town so we told them to go grocery shopping before they return home. They'll be bringing us milk, eggs, bread, etc.

There is still no power in so many places--including my husband's work. Our cell phone bill will be astronomical this month as texting was just about the only way to communicate and we don't have unlimited texting on our plan. (We are so low-tech!) We do have a phone now (thus, the internet...thus, this post) and are feeling very blessed.

Just wanted to share a few pictures with you all. Guess I will get back to regular blogging soon. Most schools around here are closed for the whole rest of this week and so far--our homeschool has been "closed" too. We picked up a lot of things before we left in case of flooding and so there is unlimited junk on our homeschool table. More work to do...

And I don't even want to look at my Google Reader. How will I ever catch up?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

We Are Fine!

We are out of town, even though we weren't under mandatory evacuation orders. We made our own decision! :)

Now, we just have to decide when to go back. There is no power and it could be weeks (although I have trouble believing it will be weeks for our area.)

Thanks for the prayers and thoughts! See you when we get home and have power again!

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Expanse of Goals

There is one thing about homeschooling that a great many people who don't homeschool do not understand. At least I suspect they don't understand it by the fact that before I was a homeschooler this had never occurred to me. If I can be considered normal...then I believe this one thing to be very misunderstood. Or very under-considered.

As a homeschool parent, I have the opportunity to look at the WHOLE child. The whole student. For the whole expanse of their school career. Does that seem obvious? Let me tell you about public school--just in case you've never worked in one.

Sometime in the week before school starts (sometimes only a few days before), each teacher is given a list of students. (Remember, my experience is with elementary--secondary might not work like this) That teacher then goes about writing his or her student's names all over the place: name tags, folders, Popsicle sticks, the front door, bulletin boards, grade book, etc. Each classroom is given a roughly equal number of girls/boys, black/white/Hispanic/other, Gifted and Talented/Special Ed, and whatever other ways you can think of to divide children up. If the teacher is really on top of things, she may have time to wander down to the front office and take a peek inside her student's cumulative folders. If they are ready. Or, she may be given a card with comments from last year's teacher. These can say anything from, "He wears glasses to read--make sure he has them." to "Do NOT sit her next to Vanessa R." to "Takes Ritalin each day at lunch." You know, the important stuff. Rarely will a teacher have time to discover that Tommy's parents divorced last year in the spring or that Matthew is a foster child. She'll find out in the course of the first few weeks of school, but...

Can you see that there is NO WAY a school can set personal goals for each student? A teacher has those goals for her class figured out (for her) long before she ever knows who is walking through that door. That's not to say that teachers don't work with children who need it, of course they do. In the limited way that they are able.

But as a homeschool parent, I was able to sit down last month and write out my goals for my 9 year old daughter. I titled it "Responsibilities of a 9 Year Old" and shared it with her so she would know what we expect of her this year. There is a wide range of things in that paper, from "clean up after yourself in the bathroom" to "find ways to be a good big sister each day." Some are physical goals (keep your hair brushed). Some are homemaking goals (learn to cook X amount of new things). Some are relational (being a big sister).

We also have the choice to make spiritual goals for our daughters. Not every homeschooler is religious, but it is a freedom we have. And I'm not saying that if a parent does not homeschool, that there is no way they have goals for their children. Of course they can and probably do! I'm only meaning to point out the superiority of parents who love their children and spend tons of time with them being the ones who make goals for that child over the school doing it.

It's easy to get focused on the educational part of homeschooling. There's the curriculum and the lessons and the very cool craft projects and the field trips and the experiments and all the other stuff that goes with educating our children.

Don't forget, in all the sharing of knowledge, to look at your whole son or daughter. It's a blessing that we are able to do so and one we should take full advantage of.

Check out the rest of the Carnival of Homeschooling going on this week here. A big thank you to the Cates family for hosting this week!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Time for a Status Update

Physical: I just got inspired over at this blog. She's losing weight like a crazy person and some of our measurements match so I'm thinking I should join her on this quest. Hmmm. Trying to get really motivated on that one but I'm not sure it's working.

Spiritual: Frustrated with people who have gone to church for a sweet forever and still don't seem to know a whole lot (not mad at them, just frustrated, OK?). Frustrated to sit in class this morning at church and have not one person open their Bible.

Homemaking (homemakingtial?): Hmmm. I got the dishes washed tonight!

Not enough? OK, I washed a lot of clothes this weekend, ironed 5 shirts for my husband's work-week and decluttered that bedroom. I now need to get into the master bedroom closet, which is tiny by the way so it shouldn't take long. Obviously, people had fewer clothes back in 1967. And no need for air in the laundry room, but that's another topic. After the closet, I plan to start the toy room. This will require much prayer, I'm afraid which is why next time I do a status update, you can look for the topic of "toy room" under the heading of "spiritual."

Educational: Sweetheart is liking her 3rd grade curriculum so far, but misses doing "fun stuff." As usual when she says that, I probed further to find out what "fun stuff" she perceives herself to be missing. It turns out, she wants to make a lapbook. Fine. The horse unit study is up at Heart of the Matter--we will begin this week.
Little Bit is working on her Dora lapbook, which I am making up as I go along. This week we are going to twist the topic of 5 senses to be about Dora. Hey, it can be done!

Financial: Husband starts his new/old job tomorrow. We are very thankful and hope he will be so much happier back at his old digs. One thing is for sure, this will force us to get our little financial ducks in a row. Gotta be frugal. Gotta be frugal. Gotta be frugal. (I'm reminding myself.)

Wanna update your status?

Saturday, September 6, 2008

I Am Very Serious About This Goal

The decluttering is still going on. I decided to continue in the bedroom so that I could have one room that had been thoroughly gone through. From the doorway, the room looked clean.

And then I opened things. Like drawers in the nightstands and places that were out of sight, out of mind.

Yeah. We have a few things to sort out before we can sleep here tonight.

See the hallway? Each of those bags is filled with clothes or old sheets or something. They have many different destinations. Some are going to the re-sell shop, some to the thrift store, some will be passed down as hand-me-downs. (Those black bags are 30 gallon trash bags, folks!) feels so good having room to breathe. Wonder what room I'll do next?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Spelng Iz Ovr Ratted

I'm kidding, of course. Spelling is important. Even though spell check is here to stay.

Last year, our first year of homeschooling, I didn't teach spelling at all to my daughter. I know, I know. I'm horrible. The reason I didn't teach spelling is I didn't know how.

What? You taught school for 11 years! How could you not know how to teach spelling? Well, that's just it. I knew how NOT to teach spelling. The old 14-words-and-a-test-on-Friday method that we used in public school was simply not effective. The reason I know this is because I tested my third graders one year. I found a test that gave you a grade level for each child's spelling ability. At the end of 4th grade, I gave the same test to the same group of kids. Guess what? Not one single student had improved a grade level at all. Those who already knew all the words on Monday got A's, those who didn't got less and some students studied all week so they could pass only to forget the words as soon as Friday was done.

So, effective? Not so much.

And I want to believe that copywork and dictation alone will teach my child to spell...but I'm doubtful when I see her writing. Some children? Yes. But my child? Hmm--not sure.

Now, let me tell you my other experience. After I was no longer a classroom teacher, I was the "Dyslexia Specialist" on our campus for 2 years. Which is funny because my training was very limited. That "specialist" part on my nametag might have been stretching it a bit. During the two years I taught, however, I did pick up a lot of information.

So THIS year I was determined to add spelling to our homeschool curriculum. I researched, looked around, asked other moms what they use, and went to our local homeschool bookstore. So many things I found looked just like public school spelling. They were cute, colorful and looked pretty fun to a nerd like me. But spelling comes very easily for me.

I know my daughter. I knew she could expertly complete every one of those weekly activities for her spelling list and still not pass the test on Friday. I wasn't even sure I wanted a list and test format kind of spelling.

Then I found something different. I was so scared to buy it because it wasn't at the store and I couldn't put my hands on it. But it really, really looked good. It's called All About Spelling* and I finally got up the nerve to buy it after asking around at The Homeschool Lounge. Only a few folks responded to my inquiry so I think many people have not heard of this curriculum.

Well, I am SO glad I bought it. And I'm glad I listened to those moms at The Homeschool Lounge who told me to start with Level 1. It is a bit easy for my daughter so far, but I suspect the end of the book will be stuff she really needs to know before we move on to Level 2. And get this: it's completely NON-CONSUMABLE so I can just save my Level 1 materials to use with Little Bit in a few years. Love that! Also, my sister is a dyslexia teacher and has learned way more than me about it. She looked at it and said it it so much of what she uses for her struggling middle school students. It's the basics they didn't get but needed while they were doing their 14-words-and-a-test on Friday!

I am so far really enjoying the curriculum we chose for this year. If you want to know what else we are using, I posted about it here.

So, how is your curriculum working out for you so far?

*I'm an affiliate--click my All About Spelling link in this post!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

How Did I Ever Find Time To Work?

I have a confession. I used to be one of those people who thought of stay at home moms, "What could she possibly do all day?"

I'm sorry. I didn't know, OK?

I really and truly thought that there was no way a person who did not have to get up and go to work every day could ever feel stress.

Surprise! I was wrong.

But it's better, this being home. Oh yes it is. I don't worry about the safety of my children. I don't worry how I'm going to get to them if an emergency arises. I know what they've been doing all day. I can help my husband.

But that isn't the point of this post.

The point is, I'm BUSY! I have big plans for this house and even those sicko readers who don't struggle with clutter have been very supportive of my decluttering efforts. I know I haven't snapped any pictures but that's because I haven't accomplished a whole lot. Except in my mind. I love our house and I mostly love living 3 doors down from my parents. But I must admit I daydream about moving to a smaller house with a much smaller payment. What a relief that would be in so many ways. But, that is never going to happen until we have less stuff!

So, job #1: decluttering.

I'm trying to get some sewing done lately, both for Christmas presents and to (hopefully) set up an Etsy shop. A little income is needed so I'll see what I can do to help.

So, job #2: sewing.

My beautiful 9 year old daughter is in 3rd grade this year and 3rd grade is taking a bit more out of us than 2nd grade did. We breezed through 2nd grade. I'm kind of glad we started there! She isn't finding everything in school to be "fun" anymore and that's OK. We have to do hard things sometimes. But I'm trying hard to make school wonderful. And Little Bit is off-again, on-again in her interest with school. Some days she doesn't even wander into the school room. I have to be ready for her when she does though because she'll work for 3 hours if she's interested! I really love teaching my girls at home.

So, job #3: homeschooling.

And there's cooking, meal planning, laundry, paying bills, reading to/spending time with the girls, Bible study, helping my husband, errands, ironing, etc. etc. etc.

None of these are listed in any special order. You know that, right? And no way is that a complete list. I have no idea how I managed to get up and leave for work at 6:30 every morning and still have a life.

And I am thankful every. single. day.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

How To Hold an Open House--Homeschool Style

First, clean up the classroom!

Add some nice touches.

Get the work all laid out ready to show off.
Then, invite some folks over to show off the work to.

Get the refreshments ready.

Then let the sharing begin!

Grandparents are good.

Daddies like to see what you've been working on too.

(See Rachel? I really DO have a husband!)

Even a friend may stop by to patiently listen to you read every single book you've made since school started. (That would be Little Bit!)
It's fun! You should try it!

Determined to Be Simple

Not simple minded....just simple! I have really been thinking about all the stuff we have and what a mess our house stays in because of that. Well, there are other reasons why our house stays a mess, but honestly a large part of it is because there is no way to keep up with the amount of stuff that we own.

I visited my aunt's house this weekend. Every time I visit one of her houses (her real house or her "country home") I want my house to look better. One time, when Sweetheart was around 5 or 6, we visited my aunt's real home and I went home and started cleaning. A few weeks later Sweetheart observed me cleaning and asked, "How many weeks have you been trying to make your house look like Aunt N's?"

The little smartie pants.

The real answer? Years!

I don't mean to be all philosophical, but I've really been thinking about how stuff ties us down, consumes our time, orders our day, and makes life a bit un-enjoyable. Oh sure, some stuff makes life better, don't get me wrong! But in general, we just have TOO MUCH of everything.

I started working on that yesterday. (If you've been reading my blog for a while, please don't bring up the fact that I have preached this sermon before! I got my kitchen and laundry room done and that was the end.) This time, I started in the room that always gets left for last: our bedroom. I rearranged, dusted, cleaned and it looks great!

BUT, I'm not done! Oh no ma'am! It's clean and new and I found the cedar chest under all the laundry, but it's still not simplified. There is stuff all over the place in that room and it must be dealt with. I began with that cedar chest. It holds our sheets and it was full to the top. It's a HUGE cedar chest so we obviously had enough sheets for our entire block. I now have a big pile of mismatched sheets in the hall to give away, plus sheets that don't fit any beds we currently own. It's much better now.

So what else could I possibly need to do in there? Oh boy, where do I start? It's all those hidden places: the closet, the nightstand drawers (who knows what's in those?) the top of the dresser, the bathroom cabinets, under the bathroom sink, etc. I am very serious. We are getting rid of stuff. We do not need this much junk in our lives.

And this cleaning spree comes from lots of time thinking about consumerism and how the media tells us we need, need, need and thoughts about contentment, etc. All those are good things to think about, but I decided I needed to do something about it. And it starts at home.

In the master bedroom to be more specific.

So, how much stuff do you have in your bedroom? :)