Friday, July 24, 2009

Curriculum has been decided.......

and there is no going back or changing of minds allowed!!! I have really struggled with deciding what to do this year - not because I didn't find something I liked but because I have become a book junkie - lovin' me some yard sales and thrift stores!! I have WAY TOO MANY books on WAY TOO MANY subjects!! At convention a friend helped me to decide that I should just use what I already have, do my own planning and then next year start back with a bought curriculum. I was all gung ho for that and a little bit excited but then I could never sit down and figure out HOW to plan it. It has been a month - if not longer - and I have been in limbo because I didnt know what to do to get started planning! Finally - a friend sent me a blog that uses some of ambleside online but she has tweaked it a little bit and she has it on her blog for anyone to use. So - I got all excited again becuase this gave me some guidelines to follow and I had a lot of the books and I was sure I could find replacements or use the library for the ones I don't have. I got everything in order - made some planning sheets and sat up till all hours of the night and for 3 days did nothing but work on this. By the time I had finished going thru each week, writing it in my planner and rearranging books and stuff I knew there was no way this would work for us!! 3 days - gone!! But.....By going thru each week all the way to the end it really helped me make decisions and know things that I would not have figured out until we had already started! I have a tendency to judge a book by it's cover and the cover of this looked real good and it probably is real good for lots of you but I knew I would not stick with it! It also didn't have enough american history in it for the boys interests at this point! So - I was very frustrated but had a quick solution - I went back to the curriculum that I had gone to convention thinking I was going to use!!!
I also got to know a little bit about myself - there is no way that I will ever, ever again try to attempt to do any planning on my own - NOT FOR ME!!! It also made me realize that every year I AM going to look at everything available to me and make a new choice each year instead of sticking with one company forever. I also was very convicted to get rid of all of the extra books that are just laying around tempting me and making me feel like I need to use them just because they are here. Well - why are they here? Because I was at a yard sale or a thrift store and saw it for a cheap price and thought that someday we might use that or we are studying this topic - maybe I need 1 more book about columbus - it is only 25 cents!!!! TROUBLE I tell you - TROUBLE!!! I have decided that this desire to find something cheap is a serious addiction and I am prayerful that God has broken that in me and that I can now move on to more important things!!!
Now - with all that said - this is what we are going to use this year..........
Stephen - 3rd Grade, Ben - 1st Grade and Thomas - PreSchool

Pre-School with Thomas will be very informal. Totally Tots has some great ideas and we may also follow what my friend over at Homeschool Creations did last year in her Preschool Corner. He will be doing a letter a week at co-op so we will follow along with that in regards to learning his letters.

Heart of Dakota - Bigger Hearts for his Glory
I love the way this is set up and laid out. I have not been able to get my hands on it so when it comes next week I am sure I will spend days devouring it and getting to know it a little better. It seems very easy to use so that all I have to do is get everything we will need together for each day, open the TM and go! I am all over that - I need someone to tell me what to do and how to do it so I can just skip that step altogether in my life! The boys will devour the history and I am excited about the other things that are included - The books for storytime are from nine different genres, Bible is focusing on character traits, Science uses these fabulous books called One Small Square, in Music we are going to learn about the history behind some of our beloved Hymns and we will touch on a little bit of geography each week. Can you tell I am excited????

Horizons Math - we didn't finish our books last year because we spent some time focusing on our addition and subtraction facts and playing games so we will work through our books some and add in some more games!

The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading - I learned about this at convention and listened to her speak and then was able to chat with her a little bit. I will use the same book for all 3 boys they just will be at different spots in the book. It seems like a great program so I will keep you updated as we work thru it!

Spanish - I found a beginner spanish kit by Hooked on Phonics at Ollie's for dirt cheap and so we will be starting with that this year. It is just the basics and seems like a good a place as any to get started!

Spelling - I am going to start using All about Spelling with Stephen after we establish where he is with his reading. My friend has written up a fantastic review of this spelling program.

Art - we will study an artist or two this year but I don't know who yet. I am gonna check out ambleside online when I get home to make that decision!

We will be doing the workbox system this year to keep our day on track! I have everything all set up and ready to go for that....just need school to get started!!!!

We will be doing co-op on Fridays that will fill in all the gaps(I hope) and provide a little bit more to our week!

I am really excited about our year and looking forward to hearing what others are using and reading reviews and updates from your year!!!


Well - tomorrow we are off to go camping for a week with my family. My sister's family and my parents and us are all going to be staying in cabins at Hungry Mother State Park for the next week!!! The boys are soooo excited - they can't wait to be camping and to be able to hang out with their cousins for a whole week!
I will be off the net for a week - I think - so I will have lots to share when we get back!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Homeschool Share - New Stuff

I am not sure if you are familiar with Homeschool Share or not. They are a fantastic website with loads of free lapbooks, unit studies, notebooking stuff and they have added a section called Workboxables!!!!! They have just come out with a whole lot of new goodies that I highly recommend you stopping by and checking it out! Take a browse thru all the goodies and to find the workboxables i went to what's new and scrolled down the page a little and there it was!!!!

The BIG Curriculum Clean-Out

My friend - over at Homeschool Creations is hosting this wonderful blog carnival. Go check it out and see what it is all about! Maybe i will see you guys there!!!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Getting Ready

I have been working on our NEW and Improved schedules and charts for school and life to keep mommy and the boys on track!! I have borrowed ideas from different blogs and other websites I have found to create something that I am hoping will work for our family. I am a Very visual person so if I don't see it it probably won't happen or will be forgotten about! It also has to be easy to follow because I get sidetracked so easily and I have a lot of trouble following routines and schedules. I have been trying to reduce the amount of stuff and get better organized.

First I came up with my daily task chart......

I am hoping that a visual reminder of what my day should look like will help to keep me on track!! I put one upstairs in my bathroom so I would see it first thing in the morning and there is one on the frig!

Next, I worked on what I wanted the boys day to look like and what habits and routines I felt were a priority in our day! This is what I came up with........

Each boy has a chore in the morning and a meal chore each day. They will keep these specific chores for at least 3 months so they get familiar with them and know how to do them well.

Habits we need to master - eating every meal together, brushing teeth, putting their dishes in the dishwasher and cleaning up every day before daddy gets home. These are the things I feel like we need to focus on for quite a few months to get started creating good habits and routines in our house!!!

The black dots are velcro and I have made big check marks with velcro on the back of them that the boys put up after they have done each chore. The check marks are in a bucket next to the frig within easy reach!

I created a few extras for Saturday. Cleaning rooms, scooping poop out of the yard and cleaning out the van.

I have uploaded the charts to scribd if anyone wants to go get one! I put stickers on them with the boys name and I hand wrote the verses on them so these would be easy to just print out and use if you wanted to! The saturday one is a little bit more personalized but you could easily change the pics and jobs in each box!

This is a chart from Doorposts that i found at the thrift store! I did have to modify just a smidge. All the verses were King James version and so I started out rewriting them in NIV so the boys could better understand them but then I got out my favorite book - Creative Correction by Lisa Welchel - and found some different verses on the same topic that I liked a little better!!! The first column is the bad behavior, the middle column is the verse and the empty column is the consequence for the behavior. I haven't figured out the consequences yet but we are working on that!!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

School & WorkBoxes

A couple months ago we discovered workboxes. I am so excited to use them and I have lots of grand plans but I am getting nervous that by the time we actually start school I will have forgotten all the things I wanted to do and my excitement will have waned!!! Every day i look at those boxes on the shelf and I get a tad bit nervous about filling them every day!!! Can I really keep up with this?? Is it really gonna work for us - we tried it for a couple of days here and there and it worked and i totally bought into the system and now that the excitement has worn off and I haven't been reading so much about them I am getting nervous that I will not be able to pull it off on a daily basis! I desperately want to start school so I can get past this initial hurdle of nervousness and move forward with the workboxes and my school plans but I can't......
We have 1 more week of vacation, a week of poetry camp for Stephen and then Alex comes home to get ready for his school. So now I have the dilemma of deciding if we should start when Alex starts or should we try to start before that with him home all day??
I am so ready to start and mostly just becasue I want to get using the workboxes and get a feel for how it is going to work for us!!!! I am very impatient - it is a pain to wait!!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

nothing but Mess

I have been trying to clean off the counter and kitchen table ever since we came home and I just can't seem to get anywhere with it! Take a look at what our house normally looks like.......
kindof embarrassing to share but isn't that what blogging is all about??? I must have at least 5 different things I am trying to get done and ready for school in that mess along with all the other clutter, toys and whatnot that sits around the house!! It is neverending and it drives my hubby crazy!! he just doesn't understand this part of homeschooling - I wonder why not???
i am struggling with how to keep the messes i make contained since we are always in the main part of the house....any suggestions??

Friday, July 10, 2009

Homeschool Burnout

Homeschool Burnout


I recently read an article in The Old Schoolhouse(spring 2009 issue) titled 10 Burnout Busters for Homeschool Burnout. I found myself applying each of the ‘busters’ to myself and my way of thinking and I thought it would be fun to share my interpretation. I should mention that some of my responses to her ‘busters’ had nothing to do with what she was referring to!

  1. Don’t subscribe to the grass is greener syndrome. I just started laughing at this one because the grass is soooo brown at our house! I love to read blogs, magazine articles, talk to other homeschool moms and just listen to what people say and feel and do in regards to their homeschool. Now – I am able to discern that some of it is just not for us but more often than not I find myself trying to figure out How to make it Work for Us. So I really have prayed and been talking to God about sticking with my system and actually seeing if it will work for us and then changing it or not changing it at all! I absolutely will not allow (or will try to very hard) myself to look at other curriculum until we are done with this one or until I am failing completely!
  2. Bookend each day with Prayer. I love this idea – she says to greet the day with a “Hello, Lord – what do you have for me and my children today?” I would love to be able to do this without fear and with complete and total faith of what he is going to hand me each day! She also suggests to end the day with praise for what the Lord has done that day. I have heard before to make a point of praising each of the kids for something that happened that day in our nighttime prayers.  I really want to do this. Can you imagine what a blessing it would be for each kid to hear his name being praised at the end of every day to the Lord??? I know it would fill me up so I can only imagine how it will make them feel!
  3. Each day, after school is over, spend a few minutes assessing the day and planning for the next day.  This is where workboxes will come into play for me. My plan is to get them loaded and ready to go, all my supplies ready and clean up from this day at the end of each school day. I know that if I leave it till night(after the kids go to bed) I won’t do it because I will have moved into “my time” !
  4. Open several Bibles around the house so that you can glean from the word as you go about your day. This is now the third or fourth time I have heard this and we definitely have enough Bibles so maybe I should do it?? Here is my problem – where in the world do you put them so that little ones are not messing with them? I don’t want to get into a verse or passage, get called away or not able to finish it and come back and the pages have been flipped or the bible is simply gone! That would stink because it is highly unlikely that I would even remember where I was reading! If I put them where they aren’t going to mess with them then they will be in places that I am not going to look. But if I put them in an obvious spot they will be in the way and they are going to get messed with by little hands!! What I have done is put verses, sayings and prayers on index cards and posted them in different spots around the house – bathroom mirrors, above the kitchen sink, inside kitchen cabinets, by my bed. The one problem with this is you have to change them every once in awhile to be refreshed and so you don’t just ignore them because you are so used to reading the same old thing and that is where I fail in doing this! I think that if I made a couple sets at a time and had them ready to switch out – that might work. If there was then a specific issue or verse I wanted to pray over I would have to make one or two for that as an extra! The other thing I do is have a devotional or prayer book in each bathroom for those times when you are in there a little longer than usual!
  5. Work toward establishing order in your life. I am completely and totally OCD so this is no problem in our house! It is stopping it that is the problem! I always come up with new ways to organize and keep things in the place they belong but since I am always changing things no one – except me – knows where anything goes!! God and I have been talking about this one a lot and I am convicted that he is going to keep me on track this year and help me to stop changing things – unless they are so completely failing! I keep telling myself once I do it this way I won’t do it again and I do do it again and again and again. God and I will spend a lot of time together in regards to this and I know he will change my heart and my desires to be so project minded.
  6. Create a rhythm in your day.   This one makes me just roll on the floor with laughter. I cannot even tell you how many times I have tried to make a schedule, a plan, a routine and how many times I end up off in LaLa Land doing nothing that even looks like that schedule! I am somewhat good about following a routine for school  - if we actually do school that day - but in regards to chores, paying attention to screen time and the fact that hours have gone by and Stephen is still on the computer, cleaning on a regular basis, bedtime routines, etc I am horrible at staying on top of things! I did read(again) and listen to a wonderful speaker and author, Carol Barnier, at convention who reminded me of the fact that I am what you would call “Highly Distractable” and she gave me some great ways to combat some of my symptoms! I am hoping that the other areas God is working on in me will help this area to be able to follow charts and schedules a little better because I am going to try again!! For my kiddos!
  7. Take a few minutes to plan your meals. A few minutes my butt! If you do not enjoy cooking and cannot look at a recipe and go – yeah, I can make that – without pictures, it is a huge imposition and pain in the behind to do this! I can buy snack foods like a mad woman but when it comes to planning , shopping and keeping the shelves stocked I have failed - beyond miserably. I can cook some things and I am not a bad cook I just do not enjoy it!! When we first got married I bought a lot of prepackaged things and that was how I cooked but over the years(these past 3 in particular) I have begun to care more about what we are eating  and putting into our bodies so I try  not to buy a lot of processed foods(except nuggets and hot dogs), bring in more fruits and veggies, we are making our own bread(that was  a big hit) but it is still hard for a non cook to put it all together!! I started doing meal plans right before  summer and since we have been gone and home and gone again I haven’t bothered to even buy that many groceries for the week we are home. But after the summer is over we will be meal planning( as much as it pains me) but I can guarantee you it will not take a few minutes – more like a few hours(until I get the hang of it – I hope!)!!

My sister has shared a couple of coupon websites which I can’t wait to be home long enough to start using  – coupon mom and southern savers. Southern savers is so user friendly and fantastic – they list the specials by store(they don’t have all stores –  it is based in the southern states) and with each list they have what the store special is and if you should have a manufacturer coupon for that item from the Sunday paper and then what the price of that item will now be. Apparently you can use a manufacturers coupon on top of a store sale which means more savings and if you have a store that does double coupons…It is a great place to start when doing your meal planning for the week – which is my plan. I think we will have to start getting the paper with the coupons in it but that is small if this can save us some serious grocery money!! The boys are starting to eat more and more and each year it is just gonna get worse! Maybe finding good food deals is gonna have to be my new project instead of frequenting the thrift stores for good deals on books and things to paint?? I already really miss the thrift stores but it is sooo worth it!

  1. Get outside. This one is huge for me because my hobbies all revolve around being inside the house. Painting, crafts, scrapbooking, decorating – they have nothing to do with being outside! I do enjoy being outside but I have gotten into the habit of sending the kids out so I can do my own thing(which has got to stop – I miss my kids). I go out to hang laundry, sand something down or spray paint something , play in the pool or if they beg and plead with me to come outside on the trampoline with them. I am thinking I need to get outside a little more??
  2. Take time to be alone. No problem! I have gotten into the habit of doing my thing after the little ones go to bed but I now have a teenager who stays up later so I really should spend that time with him or around him instead of off doing my own thing. This means it is going to be harder to find some time for myself but my hubby is really good about letting me have time so I will get it but it just won’t be every night!!! I love to go to movies so I will go to the movies alone to get away and I do have some girlfriends that like to get away too so I can hang out with them! But my absolute favorite time is when I am alone in my house – my husband will take the boys camping or to Blue Hole for the day and it is the most fabulous time!!! I must admit that since I have been convicted to homeschool  I really do enjoy my family much more than I did! We have fun together and do things as a family and I haven’t wanted or needed to get away as much as I used to! It is such a good feeling to be home with the family!
  3. Don’t forget to laugh! This is sometimes very hard to do but if I keep all the other areas in check this one should come naturally!!! It is easy to laugh with the kids and my friends but sometimes it is not so easy with my hubby  as we are both stressed and don’t get that time together when we aren’t stressed and we can  be more relaxed together – just us! I also think the TV plays into this one because we watch too much of it and don’t get enough time to just hang out together and find ways to laugh as a family!!!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

I Painted....

go see what I did at our family blog

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


I have yet to do any official planning since we have been homeschooling. The first two years I have used My Father's World and all I had to do was open the TM and it told me exactly what to do for each subject - except LA and math - and if I didn't want to do it we just skipped over it! This year, since I have decided to use some of the stuff I have already around the house, I am going to have to do the planning! I have no idea where to start. Do I plan weekly for all subjects? Do I do an entire plan for the whole year and then adjust it as we go along as needed? Do I really need to plan out math since all we do is go from page to page until we finish the book? What to do?? Where to start?
Thankfully we are going on vacation tomorrow so I don't have to think about it for a few days!