Wednesday, July 27, 2011

I Just Remembered

...what a time-sucker TV is. Little Bit is sick and so we watched 2 movies back to back this evening. That was it. The whole evening gone. No one talked to each other. Nothing else got done. Oh I do not miss TV.

It's OK of course because she's sick. By the way, she has what her older sister had THREE WEEKS AGO! Have you ever heard of such a thing? We were so careful and after Sweetheart was no longer sick I completely decontaminated "her" rooms. (We always let whoever is sick have a bathroom all to themselves!) Three weeks pass and now Little Bit has it? Crazy.

I'll be back when things aren't so germy around here.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I Have a Classroom--And I Am OK With That

I know a lot of homeschoolers are very....

...anti anything that looks like formal education.

And when I read posts or articles by those kinds of homeschoolers, I start to doubt myself just a bit. And then I read that their children are (usually) in preschool and I relax.

I completely agree that you need to do nothing that looks like school when your kids are that little. Unless you want to! That's the beauty of homeschooling.
Sigh. I miss preschool. 
So I'm not writing this to make anyone doubt themselves. Or to make anyone feel badly. But I would just like to write a little bit in favor of those who do a little "school at home."

You have to understand, I taught public school for 11 years. I grew up in public school. So when we started homeschooling....I did this:
L to R:  Sweetheart's desk, my chair, and Little Bit's preschool desk. 
I'm sorry, OK? We didn't have a table! And I had no idea what I was doing! Well, that set-up lasted 2 weeks and then we ended up at the dining room table the rest of the year.
Apple Unit. Three year old Little Bit and 8 year old Sweetheart. (2nd grade)
Which was fine. But we had this perfectly good room at the front of our house where we COULD do school AND store all our school stuff. That was really the part that got to me about using the dining room table--I wanted everything in one place! I NEEDED everything in one place.

So I prayed for a table. And the Lord provided! Twenty dollars later, we were in business and our first school room was born.

And when we used that room those few years, Little Bit would play/do school-y stuff in the hallway by the front door. She didn't want to be in the living room "all by herself." And in Kindergarten when she did join us for school more formally, I found out our little school room was CROWDED!

Kindergarten. Took about an hour every day. 
So we moved. I switched the toy room and homeschool room. We are still in there and it works great for us right now. It has everything I have wanted in a homeschool room:

1. Room!
2. A table.
3. A place to keep all our school stuff.
4. Walls to hang up school stuff where we don't have to look at it in the main part of our house.
5. The ability to close the door and leave school behind on our weeks off--and weekends.

I have found that the older my children get, the more we really look like we are doing school work. There are more subjects. There is more work. They have more responsibility.

That's not to say we don't have fun. That's not to say we don't leave the "classroom". I'll be writing more about this.

But now you know how we came to have a classroom, which I'll be showing you around soon too. The "new and improved" version that is!
Where do you do the main part of school? Don't you think so much depends on the floor plan of your house?

Monday, July 25, 2011

It Begins! (Our First Box Day)

Saturday at exactly noon (while I was on the phone to a company trying to get a refund), the doorbell rang.

It was our Sonlight order! (I was so bummed I was on the phone when it came!)

Now this order was mostly Sweetheart's stuff. She's studying core D+E this year (American History). Little Bit knew she had a handwriting book in the big box, but I also saved one of her Amazon orders for her to open. Looks kind of pitiful in the pictures but she was happy.

They both helped unpack it all. I couldn't believe how many things came out of that box. It was like a clown car.

Sweetheart was excited, but also a bit like, "wow." It is a LOT of books!

So then we got Little Bit's books off the shelf (She's doing core A this year and we've been collecting them used and borrowed for several weeks) and she wanted me to read over the packing slip for HER stuff too. Just like I had done for Sissy's. Except...there actually isn't a packing slip for all this. But I did have the two Amazon packing slips with about 7 books listed on them so I read those off and then continued to hold the packing slips very importantly while peeking at the pile to call off titles for her to find. She was happy.

But, this was funny...

We have rabbits you know. Well, one rabbit now that Snuggles died. Rabbits are a bit like cats in that they will actually use a litter box. Our outdoor rabbits have always lived in a little rabbit house outside and they just naturally picked a corner of the house for their, um, litter box. We have always called it "poo corner." As in, "Be careful, don't step in poo corner!" or "Just sweep all that extra hay into poo corner."

So now that you know that, you will understand why Little Bit yelled "EWWW!" when I read off the title of one of her books:

Ha! I cracked up! She was relieved to know it was just Winnie the Pooh and not the other kind.

I was very excited and I've already arranged my binder and read the first 2 of Sweetheart's books. But I do have some concerns. I'll share more about those tomorrow. Overall, we are very excited about the new school year (which starts in 2 weeks! ACK!)

Now I'm going to sit back and wait for Luke's comment. He magically finds all Box Day posts! :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

Quilting Means Math (Which Makes My Head Hurt)

Remember those rag quilts I'm making for the girls? Yeah, it's been awhile since I've worked on them. Or thought about them. Or talked about them. I think I started buying fabric for them in the spring of 2010. year. Not bad.

I realized that I only have about 2 weeks of summer left and I want to get those quilts made before the fall. So yesterday I scrounged around in the (not yet clean) sewing room and found all the pieces. The sack had torn and they weren't all in one place anymore. I even found the original plan I had made in my sewing binder. BUT....I haven't actually looked at said plan in a really long time so it took awhile to make sense of it all again.

Unbeknownst to me, Sweetheart was taking pictures of my hard work. They are hilarious.

Counting squares....

and checking to see if they've all been sewn.

Wait a minute. Something's not right here.

Oh dear. 

This one cracks me up. I am deep in thought. You can almost see the smoke coming out of my ears. 

All right. Dadgumit. Let's count all these again. 

My super organized makes total sense customized plan for the quilts.

Yes Mom?
Get that camera out of my face OK?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Looking for Carrots

No, not from the garden. Our garden has just about done it's time. It's just too dry around here. We had a good run. It was a pretty good garden this year.

I'm talking about another kind of carrot. The kind that you tie on a string and hold on a stick in front of a donkey to get him to walk. Except my kids aren't donkeys and they wouldn't walk 2 inches to get to a raw carrot. (Little Bit loves cooked carrots but that would be hard to tie on a string, huh?)

I'm trying to make a schedule for the school year is what I'm telling you. And this post had some good wisdom. Basically, each time a break comes up in the school day, you need a "carrot" to get them back to the table.

Well, I don't NEED anything to get them back. I am very capable of telling them to come and they will come and I will nip all complaining in the bud. But I think it's wise to pre-plan to avoid those scenarios, don't you?

I had never really thought about it before. Anything with the promise of drawing or coloring will get them back. Just something that they will look forward to doing.

I think it's safe to say math is not a carrot. Not for my kids anyway.

So I'm going back to the drawing board. Also, I realized I scheduled breaks for each girl but NONE FOR ME! This will not work. Mom needs a few minutes to walk away during the day, you know?

I think I'm going to start over.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Progress, Cleaning Up, and Getting Ready

I want you all to know that I made major progress yesterday! And thank you for those of you who left comments letting me know that I wasn't alone in my..aloneness. It made me feel better. It really did. (And also, I'll try to remember to use small words on this blog because apparently a lot of us need that!)

Here's a look at my beautiful, mostly-crossed-off to do list:

The table is still a mess in the homeschool room, but I got all the piles off the floor and dealt with and got the girls' shelves organized for the year. A major accomplishment!
Wait until you see what we did above those!
Also, we had a little family meeting at lunch (me and the girls) and discussed how I am tired of washing CLEAN clothes that I just recently washed. **sheepish looks** So we will be instituting the new school year laundry plan starting today. The laundry room is all cleaned and ready to go.
Won't you please ignore my undergarments hanging to dry?  LOOK! Colorful laundry baskets!!

The red laundry basket on top of the washer is for towels and rags and napkins. When it is full, Little Bit will wash and dry those. I will fold the big towels and she will fold all the small stuff. The blue laundry basket on the cabinet is for darks and those are Sweetheart's domain, start to finish. I'll wash the lights in the white laundry basket. I used to have them do their clothes separately but we just don't have the room to keep separate laundry hampers so this will help. I predict the number of clean clothes being thrown back in the laundry room will decrease dramatically.

Plus, last night I ordered our school curriculum. Everything has now been ordered and we are just waiting for boxes and packages to roll in! This is the exciting part!!

One more major thing before our summer is over: the girls' room. At our meeting yesterday we discussed the possibility of rearranging or at least switching sides of the room and at the end of the discussion, everyone decided they were happy where they were! Wow! So today will just be spent detailing their room and cleaning it out really good so it's easier to keep up with on a daily basis. They've collected a lot of junk over the last few months and we need to toss some stuff, organize dresser drawers, etc. I'm getting really excited about the school year.

Don't get me wrong, I'm still thankful every morning I wake up and don't have to be immediately productive. I am enjoying summer! But I am so thankful to get some stuff done around here.

Also, I've noticed that my second most popular post ever...the one about homeschool organization....has been getting a lot of hits lately. It always does this time of year. I guess later I'll do an update post on that since we aren't even using the same room anymore and I wonder if any of those old links are still good? Anyone want to join in with me?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Just Call Me Jack

You know, Jack of all trades but master of none?

Well, I'm "Starter of all rooms but finisher of none."

I went to bed early with a headache last night and later S joined us. (ha ha!) When I woke up at 1 something to go um, visit the ladies' room, I felt better and suddenly very determined to finish things today. At one in the morning it all seemed possible. I was going to finish the homeschool room, the laundry room, and do most of the organizing in the sewing room ALL TODAY.

I'm sorry to say that by 6:15 this morning that did not seem so possible or even appealing. But I really do need to just finish something around here! I've got stuff to sell/give away stacked on the fireplace and I just need to get rid of it already. I have little things left here and there to go through in the homeschool room and I'll feel so much better when they are DONE. I'm almost though with the laundry and if I could just finish and clean off that one little cabinet I would be so happy. Why is everything half done?

Also, we do not have milk and that means no cereal, no blueberry muffins, no pancakes. I was at Kroger yesterday. ARGH.

I think I just need someone to visit with while I work. That always makes it go better. Why is everyone so busy with their own families and their own homes and their own lives? I mean, don't they know I work better when I have someone to chat with??? So selfish!

And speaking of that, do any of you ever go several days without talking to another adult? I mean, husband comes home at the end of the day but he works late a lot and we're tired and we don't exactly wax eloquent about our day together, you know? I mean during the day. S will ask, "Did you talk to anybody today?" (Just trying to get the news about what's been going on while he was at work) and a lot of times I pause and say, "No. Well, I did chat with the lady who checked us out at Wal-Mart." I mean seriously! I can go several days and not have talked with anyone but my kiddos.

It's no wonder I don't finish anything. Maybe I'm losing my mind REALLY slowly?

Anyone else ever feel that way?



Well, if you need me I'll be wandering from one room to the next.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Living Small

For our anniversary this weekend, we went to a bed and breakfast. We got to stay in a Texas Tiny House and oh it was so wonderful! I've been wanting to see inside one of those tiny homes for a long time. Saturday morning after breakfast, the owner gave us a tour of the other tiny homes as well as the other buildings they have on their property. He had done all the remodeling and building on the other homes (not the TTH ones) and S and he enjoyed talking woodworking for a while. It was way better than staying at a hotel!

We would absolutely love to live in one of these one day but....what to do with the children? Hmm. Details, details.

To the left when you walk in. 

Straight ahead when you walk in. 

To the right of that window. The ladder leads to the loft and bed.

A view of the whole living room from the loft. 

Looking back at the front door. 

To the very right when you walk in, is the kitchen.  The bathroom door is there on the left.

Looking up at the "bedroom."

The bath. River rock on the shower floor and ceiling tin on the walls. 
 One thing that sets the Texas Tiny Homes apart from other tiny homes is they use 90-something percent repurposed materials.
Salvaged sink.  When is the last time you saw 2 separate faucets?

Old windows saved from another house or building.

Old doors with doorknobs just like in my grandmother's house. 

All these antique details are really neat. 

And OH! the beautiful smell of all the wood! The hardwood floors were also antique. It was just beautifully made.

Good-bye Little House! We would love to live in you one day!
It's easy to imagine, while you are staying there, that you could actually live that small. Then you come home and walk abound your regular house and think HOW? Well, we don't need to go that radical with our simplifying right now, but I do wonder how much less we could live with.

I mean, instead shelves full of games, couldn't we just have a few decks of cards? You can play a lot of games with cards! Books are important, but you could get a Kindle or a Nook and do without shelves and shelves of books. (I don't want to, but you could.)

The bigger the area you live in, the more you fill it. If there is a shelf or mantle, you have to put things on them. We definitely do not live with just the necessities. And if we ever did get a tiny home, it would have to be bigger than the one we spent the night in. Still, I would love to go smaller. How about the Ingalls' home? That one would work just fine for me.

Except with A/C.

Hey, we're talking about simplifying, not losing our minds!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Please Watch Divided!

I have been wanting to watch this documentary for a while now and thankfully I found out it is online free until September. Please go and watch it. Basically, it's about youth groups. But it covers so much more than that.

I already know many of my readers will agree with it. I would like to hear feedback. I'll probably write what I think about the whole thing next week. It's very good and very thought-provoking. It also really was interesting to us as one of the reasons we were looking to change churches before August was that Sweetheart is entering 6th grade and was going to be expected to "join" the youth group. Also, the part about the origins of Sunday school was very interesting. You may remember I blogged about that a while back, but this gives even more information that I did not realize.

Here is the link where you can watch it free.

Or here is the official website where you can also watch it.

Let me know what you thought! And also, will it cause you to change anything in your life?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

On the Lookout for Planning Posts!

Oh I just love reading everyone's curriculum choice posts! It is fun to me to see what everyone else chooses for their children. I know there are several link ups for these posts around the web. If you know of one.....tell me about it in the comments, would 'ya? I'd like to visit and join a few.

I just wanted to let you know, dearest readers, that I edited my curriculum choice post. I have changed my mind about a few things and wanted to let you know. Before I link up with any lists, I'll probably just delete those things I am not going to be using. For now, I just crossed them off.

Changing our mind is part of the fun, right? Oh we are so blessed with all the choices we have! And the freedom! I cannot forget that other parents in other countries are facing large fines and even worse if they choose to homeschool their children. Let's be diligent and plan carefully for this blessing we have.

Oh I love planning too. I love to see how others plan and organize their stuff. If you've seen any great posts about this lately...shout those out too!

Homeschool Nerd Planners Moms Unite!


Here's what's going on at our house:

1. Sweetheart is still sick with the stomach issues. She hasn't kept anything inside of her since Tuesday afternoon. When she gets up, she starts to black out and gets dizzy. Breakfast (banana and half a piece of dry toast) didn't stay around very long either. Very discouraging.

2. Little Bit is very bored and missing her playmate. And confined to play in the toy room or homeschool room only.

3. I am sick of the smell of Lysol. I am sick of washing hands and worrying about germs.

4. We have (very fun) plans for this weekend. I certainly hope they still happen. I'm getting kind of worried.

5. I can't decide about the doctor. The nurse said yesterday to bring her in if she was still having the issues today. But really, what are they going to do? She's hydrated. I don't think we should go out and spread this around and pay $20 to hear...."make sure she drinks plenty of water."

On a positive note, I am almost completely done with the laundry!

What else is there to do?

Ug. I guess I'll go wipe things with Clorox wipes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Coming to You Live From My Phone

Sweetheart is sick. :( And she was awake most of the night watching Netflix. Which means, of course, that she touched my computer. Germs, you know.

I'll be back when I figure out how to de-germ the keyboard and my girl feels better.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guess What I'm Doing?

Curriculum is starting to come in!

We had a little money so we got a few school supplies today.

The Brendster....makin' copies at the copy machine. 

Oooh. Pretty colored paper!
I LOVE getting ready for school.


We have this couple who walks their dog down our street every morning. I call them "The Boring Couple." They are an older couple who are both tall and thin. The woman wears khaki pants and a pastel colored shirt every day. With sensible shoes. The man wears jeans and a short-sleeved button up shirt every day. Tucked in with a belt. There is never ANYTHING surprising about their dress. It is, to say the least, consistent. They keep the same pace all the time. The man holds the leash. They pause to let the dog do it's business and then the man picks it up with a Wal-Mart bag.

They are like clockwork. Responsible, neat, steady.


Just once I want to see the woman with red on! Or the man with a polo shirt! Or see them laughing and talking to each other! (Their dog, surprisingly, is small and brown and energetic.) They kill me.

And I sort of feel like them lately because I have NOTHING OF INTEREST to blog about!

I just shuffle in here everyday talking about the same old things.

Maybe I should add a perky brown dog to this post?

Oh, that's right. We have allergies. Sorry.

So.....what would you like to hear about? You guys gave me suggestions a while back but I can't find them anywhere. Humph.

And this post is making me feel the need for a Wal-Mart bag so I'll end here.

Hope you have good ideas!!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

I'm Up Early and Some Other Stuff

Being 40 is very strange. I'm about to tell you all about the virtues of getting up early.


Liking getting up early?

Forty is weird.

I know some of you are natural early-risers and have blogged about how wondrous it is, but I never bought it. I used to think the world would be just about perfect if I could get up at 8:00 every morning. When I was in high school, we slept until 10am at least every morning of the summer. Ug. I would hate to sleep that late now! S and I have been getting up around 6 or 6:15 and I can't believe how much I get done and get this: I'm actually tired at a decent hour and ready for bed!

Now, moving on to other less nerdy 40 year old topics.

Here is the completed dollhouse.

It was one of the smallest ones at Hobby Lobby and the dollhouse itself only cost about $40 with a coupon. But BOY the putting it together!! At last, it is done.

Here is the inside of our old TV cabinet/my new homeschool cabinet.

I love it, but this cleaning up the homeschool room has drug on long enough. I've got to finish it today or tomorrow. It's driving me crazy. I'm ready to start making copies and organizing notebooks, etc. NOT keep sifting through piles.

Today, friends are coming over to play and later in the week we are going to a splash park with our homeschool group. So see? That good night of sleep totally got me in summer fun mode.

And of course, we'll be going to the library. Each girl has read over 50 books so far. Most of which were from the 1,000 Good Books list. And so many of them really have been good books!

This was a book with very few words, but excellent illustrations. They pored over it for so long!

They are so much better than all the bright, colorful paperback books that the kids are drawn to because they are from some Disney show or movie. These books usually have boring covers. But inside--that's what counts. I think Little Bit truly has learned what the saying "You can't judge a book by its cover" means this summer.

I'm off to be productive with my early rising self. (Gotta pick up some before the friends get here!)

Have a great Monday!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

One Track

That's the nickname we used to use for Little Bit because her mind tends to be that way. know the animal that never forgets? That's her. Sheesh, once something is in her head that's IT.

This time I'm the one with the one track mind. I'm in all out get ready for the school year mode. I am so boring. Where is my summer fun attitude?

I think it melted last month. It's SO HOT.

Can I just have a fall fun attitude instead? Huh?

I'm thinking of working really hard in the summer and winter and taking more time off in the spring and fall. That would be mean revising my schedule from last year (6 weeks on, 1 week off) but it only makes sense. When it's beautiful outside--I want them outside!! When they can't be, we might as well work!

Other than that, I have some things to finish up around here. A friend got a teaching job so I loaded him up with stuff that I realized I am never going to use for homeschool. My room is so much emptier now!!! I still have some stuff to deal with in there, but it's MUCH better.

The sewing room however? Not good. I might need a machete to make my way through there.

S and I (mostly S) worked very hard and got Sweetheart's dollhouse put together this weekend. She got it for  her birthday last August and piddled around and didn't finish painting it and procrastinated and never worked on it....until Daddy threatened to throw all the pieces away.

{WAY too tired to upload a picture. Tomorrow, OK?}

Then she got busy. And now she has a dollhouse. And I no longer have dollhouse pieces all over the house.

We went to a friend's house Friday. Some other friends are coming over tomorrow. I guess we're having some summer fun...but I just feel so serious all the time. Maybe I'm tired. We had a really awesome Bible study last night with a friend and we wrapped it up about 12:30. So I think I need to go to bed.

Then maybe I can have a more fun attitude.

And maybe even get my mind off the homeschool track for a while.

I think that's the point of a break.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

What It's Going to Take

So I decided a few things.

First of all, this next school year is going to take more time. I think each year takes a little more time than the previous year, especially when you add a student or change curriculum and of course, as your kids get older. I don't think it will start taking less time until they start graduating.

So there is no way we will get all our work done by lunch. We didn't do that often last year either, but I didn't make any plans to accommodate that change.

This year, however, I shall!

My concern is school taking so long that I get up from school and start fixing supper. When will I ever get anything done? So, here is my plan!

(Yes, I'm prepared to eat some of these words but you know....if you aim at nothing....)

1. We have to get up earlier. School can't start at 9:00 anymore. S is leaving for work earlier already, which has me getting up earlier, so I'm getting the girls up earlier. Might as well start a good habit.

2. Everyone will wash their own breakfast and lunch dishes. I bought one of these bad boys

(image from here--got mine at Wal-Mart.)
and moved the old bathroom stool to the kitchen so Little Bit could reach the sink. We're practicing that habit now.

3. Having a certain day to do certain things. I know, you have to be flexible. Still, I have decided Fridays are grocery shopping days. I decided something for all the other days but I can't remember them just now. The point is, I have a plan.

And I'm thinking on a family theme for this year. Seriously thinking on it. And I'm not kidding like last year.  (Although we have gotten better at that previous theme idea!) Anyway, I still have some studying to do before I tell you my theme idea.

What are you planning to make your year smoother?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Our Fourth of July, On the 6th of July

I promised pictures. And I want to remember too....

Patriotic pancakes!

A happy way to start the day!

Then we had a little birdhouse painting.

They built these at Little Bit's birthday party last year and had not painted them yet. 
 Then we ate at Mom and Dad's house for supper. I cooked all day before that. No pictures.
We got there early to get a good spot. 

Someone couldn't wait!

Don't let her fool you. They ran around like banshees most of the time. 
So Daddy took them on a walk. 

Look! I was there!

Come on Sun! Go down!!!

Countdown! 10, 9. 8...


Hope you had a happy Independence Day too!