More or Less Homeschooling & Home-making Adventure

I am a work in progress. I am striving to be an encouraging wife, a fun and loving homeschool mother, to learn to homestead, organize, and adapt. I desire to see life more like Jesus and less like the world's view of what's important. I praise God that I am saved by grace alone, through faith alone, by Christ alone! Cuz' I CAN'T DO IT ON MY OWN!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

New Changes

So, it's been a long time since I posted. Life took over in the spring and I felt like I was drowning in a lake of good intentions and overwhelming expectations of myself and my children. I never did finish my planning and organizing projects. They are piled up and waiting to be continued. School didn't go like I had hoped. I love AO, Simply Charlotte Mason, & HUFI and the Charlotte Mason education, but I was finding that I was becoming too task oriented and my children were hating school.

To bring myself back to reality, I reminded myself of why we homeschool.

1. I want my children to be grounded in the Word of God and to see Him in every aspect of their life and the world.

2. I want my children to have a love of learning that will continue into their adult life.

3. I want them to be kids and enjoy their childhood, having time to play outside, explore, and enjoy adventurous times.

4. I want them to learn the truth rather than the watered down versions of truth and history that I see all around me.

After getting myself realigned with my purpose for homeschooling, I went to the big homeschool bookfair/conference in our state. Did it help me? NO, I was now worried about how close my oldest is to high school and how I did NOT feel he would be ready. Then college is around the corner. How can I get it all in and not ruin him and his future with my decisions for him. Oh, what a sad experience that was!! I kept coming back to the booth of My Father's World. I spoke to three different Mom's/reps for MFW. The last one I spoke with explained that she start MFW with her 7th grader and starting at Creation to the Greeks was not a problem at all, even with starting the history timeline over again in 9th grade. That was a huge concern of mine. I was already planning on starting our history rotation over again at Creation this year but I didn't have it in me to prepare the curriculum myself this year.

I had purchased Simply Charlotte Mason's guide but I was tired of trying to prepare for the year for 3 different children. It had just gotten to me this year. The guide looked good, but I needed more. So, after much stressful contemplation, I purchased MFW Creation to the Greek. While carrying that box to the car, I felt a relief come over me. I wouldn't have to hunt for each book this year. Everything was in my hands. I wouldn't have to spend hours typing out our schedules. I had a book in my hand that is already listing what needs to be done each week.

Now, just to be fair, that was a little scary for me. I don't like someone telling me what I have to do each day because if life sneaks in and we get off schedule, I freak out about not finishing a subject for Monday on Monday. I know. I'm ridiculous. Welcome to the world of a Type A personality.

As I began to read through the curriculum, I saw how easy it would be to implement my love for Charlotte Mason's ideas into this already prepared program. I did add a few items from my SCM guide. I don't feel like MFW has enough reading for the students, so I used the SCM guide and the AO booklist to add to our reading. I added the individualized items for each child and I was ready in a third of the time as years past. Wow! What a burden lifted. Don't get me wrong. I have had guilt of abandoning my love for AO but this is what I needed this year! I am determined to give it a try.

So, how did we get involved in Classical Conversations? This is not CM at all!! Well, a CC campus came to my church. They are starting their history rotation over again at Creation, just like our homeschool. I was tired of fighting my children to get school completed and to do a respectable job (not just scribble down something and say, "I am good with this work.") The idea of positive peer pressure was very enticing to me. And this is how we could find fun in school again. At CC, they do art projects and science experiments every week. I always cut these out first in our school if time is pressing. That is some of the fun aspects of school.

I was once an outdoor education, hands-on science teacher. I used to be a fun teacher. Over the years, I had become boring, cranky, and too task oriented. My children didn't have the joy of a fun teacher who loved to teach. CC has brought that back for me. I am a tutor for the 10 year olds and I HAVE to play games with them. It's part of the curriculum. This is what I loved about outdoor education.

So, after much debating, praying, and stressing, I finally signed up as a tutor. Wow! Relief again! The decision was made and now it was simply time to start. CC and MFW is going well together. We are now leaving MFW in the CC timeline, but everything else goes perfect with what I am doing at home. I do not have to beg, plead, or threaten my children to get their school started or completed. They come to me and make sure we get it all in. They don't want to arrive at the writing portion of CC and not have it finished. That positive peer pressure has been wonderful addition! They love having lunch with their friends and having an hour of free time to play with friends in the middle of the day. The funniest part, is how excited they have been to take their lunch with them. Maybe it's the snack items we don't usually get. I don't know. But they love it! They have learned so much in just a few short weeks.

This may not be for everyone and I do apologize to all my fellow AO'ers. But I didn't completely abandon AO. I still love the idea. I just found that I am terrible at implementing it all on my own. I wish there were more AO families near me. I think that would have helped so much.

I wish we could put together a program like CC has created for a Charlotte Mason education homeschool co-op that would be as well organized and prepared as CC. I believe more families would find the help they need in the gentle art of education with more guidance and local support. I know the yahoo groups are good and helpful but there is something special about having the curriculum laid out for you with other families and then diving in depth on your own. At least, this is how I feel.

I don't know what is in store for us in the future, but I am very pleased with our homeschool this year. That is exactly what we needed.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Week 5 - Challenge - Organized Mommy

This month will get us starting to organize our paper life. This month, grab your handy-dandy notebook and write down your bills, when they are due, etc. If possible, try to find any insurance paperwork as well. It may be time to review those policies to see if they need updating.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Week 4 - Organized Mommy

Life is starting to take on a normal pace after the month of holiday that we take each year. I finally have my cards finished and now I will implement them completely for the first time this year.

Challenge #4: Papa Blessings

A few years ago my husband was feeling very left out in the family. The kids were so young and demanded 99% or more of my attention. The toys were constantly thrown everywhere. Dinner may have been prepared on time or very late and usually cold. His towel usually had dirty hand prints and he couldn't find his things when he needed them. He wanted a place of his own in the midst of chaos. At first I resented this, especially since I felt that I was doing everything for everyone and getting nothing for myself.

At that time, I was reading Debbie Pearl's book, Created to be His Help-meet. This book sure opened my eyes as to my role as a wife. I wanted to be a better wife but I was so tired and really just wanted some "me" time. But with small, intentional changes, our marriage really took a turn for the better. Debbie says the easiest change to make is to smile at your husband every time you see him. I didn't realize I wasn't smiling. That little expression of love started the changes and grew our marriage. I couldn't believe it was working. We always want to change our spouse but Debbie says we must change ourselves to be what God has called us to be. Boy is she right.

I decided to start a system to help him feel as if he too were important to me. I cleared a shelf in the bathroom cabinet and organized his things nicely. When I showed him his shelf, he was so excited. We don't have room for a man-cave but a shelf seemed to do just the thing for him.

From there, I implemented "Papa Blessings". I made up a list of things around the house that would make him feel special, thought about, and give him a comfortable, peaceful home to come back to each night after a hard day at work. I divided these "blessings" up between all four of us and we start them at 4:00. By the time Papa gets home, the house is straightened, the kids are calming down, and dinner is started.

The change in his attitude about coming home was dramatic. He noticed the change weeks before I told him what we did. I didn't even tell him until he asked. When he heard the name, he felt important again. There was a time when I gave him my full attention, then I didn't have any energy left by the end of the day, now with only a few intentional ideas, he feels validated. That is my role as a wife.

So what are our "Papa Blessings"? Mine will be different from yours.

Papa Blessings
Hang a clean towel in the bathroom
Take out the bathroom trash
Wipe the counter
Light a candle to make the house smell better than dog
Clear the toys away from the entrance of the door on the porch
Straighten the living room and give a quick vacuum

I also read a book by Focus on the Family about the smells of the home. It said do whatever we, as mothers and wives, can do to make memories that smell. How many times do you smell something and it takes you back to a time? Some ways to make "smell" memories are bake bread in the bread machine as often as possible for dinner, light special smelling candles during specific activities, bake cookies on the same day each week while having a game, special talk time, etc. These are only some ideas. My family loves it when I try to make "smelling" memories. I don't do it as often as I'd like but my husband loves this.

So, what is your challenge? Make your husband feel special when he comes home from work by implementing "Papa Blessings". Make a list of items around the house that bug your husband and make an effort to focus on these items each day around 4:00. They don't have to be big or time consuming. You won't believe the joy this will bring him, and you in the end, as well. Then you can just imagine the teachable moment to your daughter about her role as a wife and to your sons about choosing a wife who puts him first, after God.

British History Timeline

Though we are using Ambleside Online for our curriculum, I've really revamped it for myself. We are starting our Term 2 tomorrow for this school year and focusing on British History with Our (An) Island Story. I found this great link to Timeline Characters of the Kings & Queens of England on fellow AO Mom's blog: Little Homeschool Blessings. I am so thankful for this. I think this will make a great addition to our study.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Grammarland worksheets

I've posted before about my favorite book for teaching grammar. I just love GrammarLand by Edith Nesbit.

It's a fun and interesting way to learn grammar. I wanted to share a link to the grammar worksheets you use with this book. Thanks to Jessica Cain for preparing all these awesome worksheets and posting them for all us to use for free.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My chore cards

I hope you have been able to finish your room inspections and plans. I finally finished my chore cards. Click the picture below and it will take you to my google docs link. I wrote in some of my considerations for each room to explain why I chose specific days of the week or months of the year. I kept November and December free for holiday focus rather than room focus.

If you would like a copy of this in open office, which is what I made mine in, let me know I will email the file to you.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 3 - Organized Mommy

Goodmorning everyone! I do hope you all had a great and relaxing weekend. This is our third week of organizing in 2012. Let's don't give up if we aren't doing as well as we hoped. Our lives are busy but with some intentional changes we will be much farther ahead next year than we may feel this year.

This week's challenge is simple....let's work the plan. If you haven't finished preparing your chore cards, this week will allow you to get caught up. By the end of January, all the cards should be completed and implemented.

You will notice that in preparing the chores last week, that the annual chores were divided up throughout the year. I thought I'd explain this a little more in case it wasn't clear. Many chores don't need to be done weekly, but once a year is not enough. After doing our weekly clean in a room, I like to challenge myself to do one more chore. It never takes much time to do just one more thing. It's when I feel like I have to do everything that I get overwhelmed and exhausted. Well, finish all the weekly chores on your list, then do one annual chore like clean the ceiling fans, wipe the bathroom walls, wipe off the appliances, etc. The chores like changing the a/c filter will go under the bi-annual card since we really only need to change them twice a year.

I have not finished my cards yet but plan to this week. Once they are completed, I will post them here. Good luck and let's get cleaning!

Monday, January 2, 2012

WEEK 2 - Organized Mommy

I hope you were able to get through all the rooms in your home to list out what you hope to accomplish in them this year. Now, we will take each room and dedicate one day per week as well as 2 months per year for special projects in each room.

Each day, take one of the sheets of paper (one room per day). Underline any chores on the paper that your children are able to do. Even if there are too many chores, underline them all anyway. The ones left will definitely go on your chore list.

Next to the yearly section of each room, write a number 1-4. These numbers will represent the week of the month that the chore will be done. If you have more than 4 of these chores, you may either double up smaller chores or put an "S" for spring or an "F" for fall after the number. This allows you to only do that chore once a month or twice a year.

Decide which day of the week you'd like to focus on each room. I feel better when my kitchen is clean and organized at the beginning of the week since I spend more time in that room than any other. Write that day on the top of the paper.

Below is a word version of my chore list by rooms. Download it and put it in your word program. It will convert into whatever you use. You will see that each card has a date on the top, a room name, and a list of chores. Take the Monday chore card and replace my chores with your room and your list of chores.

I hang my cards on a hook on my refrigerator, changing the card to the appropriate date. I keep the project cards on their own hook making it easy to keep these projects in the forefront of my mind. Any time I have extra that month, I try to do one or two projects. If I miss any, that room will come around again in 6 months. I like to dedicate 2 months to the yard and garden because I love to stay outside in the spring. I will admit that I won't spend 2 months in the fall. But this is a good time to work on cleaning the shed, setting up Christmas lights, etc.

I hope this makes sense. Good luck this week!

New Year - Let's Get Organized!

I will be blogging this year about getting organized in 2012. I decided to post my plan in order to make me stick to it. If I know that other's are reading and working this plan along with me, I will be more dedicated to keep it up. If you'd like to join me and my friends who have already signed up, just read this blog each Monday for your weekly assignment.

Years ago, I read FlyLady's website non-stop. I put most of her ideas into practice and I LOVED it! It worked great and after lots of reading (and I mean addicted reading) I made my plan, worked it, and kept it up. I loved it. After several years, life took over, our business took off, and I wasn't home to work the plan anymore. I had learned a lot from her and I thank her with all my heart! But this time I decided to go even slower and easier. I spent WAY too much time reading that website and neglecting my family last time. I want to be that Proverbs 31 woman but it's very hard. I once saw a speaker at a church who talked on her book which was about the Proverbs 31 woman. She said we don't have to HATE the Proverbs 31 woman. The chapter on her is short but it covers all the stages in her life. What an eye opener that was for me!! Now, I don't HATE her, I just have to read it and see which stage I'm in right now. I can't always be everything but I can always work towards her as my goal. I don't remember this author's name or the name of her book. If I come across it during our book cleaning day, I'll post it then.

I will post short and easy assignments to do each week. We have 52 weeks. There is no need to get in a hurry. After the year is over, we should have a great game plan in action to keep us going in the years to come. We'll see where that leads but for now, it's ORGANIZING our home, family, and life for 2012.



Our first project for this new year, to get us organized by the end of the year, is to take a clean sheet of paper to a different room each day of the week. Divide that paper into 3 sections. Section 1 - weekly cleaning, Section 2 - Yearly cleaning, Section 3 - projects for that room, goals for that room, or long term ideas for it.

By the end of the week, we should have a good plan to work with for the year. We'll start putting it together next week. This month will be organizing our ideas and making a plan.

Good luck!