Friday, February 25, 2011

Homeschool Mother's Journal

   The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In My Life This Week

This was a difficult week.  

It started off with some stuff that kind of kept me
struggling to keep my head above water...
which is not my best mode.
I think that we kept things running along without any big pieces falling through the cracks, but small things, (if you call laundry, and house chores small) took a back seat, and are now
demanding my attention.

I have to keep reminding myself that life happens.  God knows that life presents challenges, and I have to work at not beating myself up when I experience the impact that comes along with these challenging times.
He needs to remain my focus and my comfort, especially in hard times.

I am hopeful that things are going to improve next week.

In our homeschool this week...

Things with school managed to stay afloat this week.  That is always a priority.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...

Caylie has been super busy with running, play practice, school work and church activities.
Her show opens next week, so they are about to kick into even higher gear this weekend.  
She loves it, but it super intense right now.

Christian had his 2 days of outside classes this week, and he always enjoys those.  In addition to his usual church activities, the youth group went to play paint ball last Saturday.
Corey went with them, and they all had lots of fun...even if they did come home with some bruises!
(Corey said that paint ball is not a kiddie game...it can really hurt!)

Today, the older kids both have guitar lessons.

My favorite thing this week was...

Last Friday, Caylie and I went to a preview day at the
University of Central Arkansas, in Conway.  We both really enjoyed the day, and were impressed with the school.  Right now, I think that her top college picks are
OBU (Ouachita Baptist University...where Corey and I graduated!) and UCA.  She still has some time to weigh things out though!  

I posted here about a day where a we
"made lemonade out of lemons".
That made all of us happy, and gave us something exciting to look forward to!! :)


It made my heart happy to read this post that Caylie wrote on her blog. Caylie's sincere desire to allow God to work in her life, and guide her daily choices is one of my precious blessings.


I'm also thankful that while things were difficult for me this week,
Corey was very supportive and helpful.  

What's working/not working for us...

What's working?  
School.

What's not working?  
When I am feeling down, as I have this week, everything seems like a challenge, and it is hard to motivate myself to do the things that I need to do.  It DOES however, reinforce the need for me to count my blessings in the midst of struggles.  That is something that I have tried to become better and better at over the past few years.
It is absolutely a gift to be able to be thankful in hard times!

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

I am in the process of getting Caylie's senior year classes planned.  Most of her classes will be outside classes...at Co-Op, and at the community college, so I am just trying to get those details lined out, and make sure that everything will work well together.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share..

"Thank Me for each blessing along the way; this brings joy to both you and Me.

A grateful heart protects you from negative thinking.

Thankfulness enables you to see the abundance I shower upon you daily."
(Todays devotion in Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

4 Blog Design Tutorial Sites


Since returning from Blissdom in January, I have been trying to pay more attention to my blog.  I want to do a better job of recording the things that happen with our family, I want to connect with other bloggers that share similar interests, and I also want to improve the look, and functionality of my blog.

I want to make blogging a hobby that I become good at, and know a lot about!

When I made plans to attend Blissdom, I had no idea what I was getting into!

Seriously.

Even though I had been an on and off blogger, often turning away from my blog when life became busy, I knew that I really enjoyed blogging.   I also knew that there were bloggers out there that were clearly aware of some things that I wasn't aware of, but again...I really didn't have a clue.

It is both exciting and overwhelming to realize how much there is out there to learn!

The connections that I have already made have been amazing.  There are so many wonderful, encouraging bloggers out there that value the same things that I do. It is fun to engage with, and learn from these neat ladies!

I have found several resources that I want to share.  For a newbie like me, everything that I read about teaches me a little something that I didn't know before.  I would love to be able to walk myself through some of these great tutorials over the next few weeks, months...maybe even years!

Like I said...there is a lot to be learned.

Here are some great places to begin for those of you, who like me, are interested in getting your feet wet!

1)  April, at April Showers teaches blog workshops as well as free linked tutorials on her great site.  She can take you from your first baby step, to becoming a professional blog designer!  Fun stuff.

2) Kendra at These Days We..., has posted some fun tutorials for tweaking your own blogs. I would really like to spend some time learning her tips!

3) Carolynn at Makin' Cute Blogs, teaches how to do many blog improvements that require no professional software. I'm not kidding when I say that I could get lost in this site, and not come out for days!

4) Jill at Sneaky Momma has so many free tutorials, and they are arranged by ability level!  If you are a beginner like me, this will help you start with the things that you are most likely to find success with!

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Stuff

While I do consider myself a bargain shopper, over the past several years, I have become more and more picky about what I want to come through the doors of our house.

I am strongly focused on finding the balance between nothing...


and too much...


In the early years of my marriage, I enthusiastically mastered the whole "feather the nest" thing by finding bargains at every store around.  I loved fixing up our house, and gathering things to make that possible.

Years went by, and at some point, that "gathering stage" ended.  I found that I
did not want more stuff...
it just made life more cluttered, and difficult to manage.

Since then, while I do like to tweak things and make improvements to our home when we can, I have become very intentional about what I want to add to our "stash".

I have soooo realized that 
more stuff = more work = more stress.  

For the last several years, I have tried to have 2 yard sales each year...one in the spring, and one in the fall.  When the sale is over, we take anything that is left to Goodwill.


I have joked many times that my goal is to some day have one of those yard sales that people look at from their cars, and see that there is just one piddly little table with a few items sitting on it...
so they just drive on by!

Then I will know that I have won the war against stuff!

That hasn't happened yet...and as long as I have kids at home, it probably won't.
(I would rather have my kids, and the stuff that comes with them ANY day!),
So for now, being intentional about what comes IN, and making sure that things are regularly moving OUT, keeps me actively engaged in the battle!


This morning, Nester linked to this post, which  L.O.V.E.D.
It is a must read.

What do you do to avoid too much stuff?

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Great Save

We have had a busy weekend.  

Some good stuff.

Some bad stuff.

One of the not so good things, is that we realized the Little Rock 1/2 Marathon...
that Caylie has been dutifully training for months for...has filled up, and I did not register her in time!


I felt H.O.R.R.I.B.L.E.!

She and her sweet friend Carolyn were planning to run it together.

Ugh...

So...the wheels in my head started turning, and something good started to develop.

I told dad about it, and he helped me search online for some other fun 1/2 marathons.

We have decided on this one, and are going to turn the fun road trip into our family's
Spring Break! 




It is an area that will be new to us all...
Galveston, TX
...and we are getting pretty excited.
We are even planning for Carolyn to go with us so that they can run together!

We will get to go to the beach... 




and also plan to spend a day doing some fun things in Houston...just 30 minutes away! 

F.U.N.  

Have any of you been to Galveston or Houston?   We are on the hunt for fun things to do!

Are you making any plans for Spring Break?  

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A New Laundry System

I was just doing a little blog surfing, and came across a
new laundry system 
that I think I am going to try.

Laura, at orgjunkie.com,, wrote this post about how she has changed the way she does laundry.

Instead of doing what most of us do, and sorting all of the laundry by color, washing, and then separating each family member's clothing before returning it to their rooms, she has done something that 
I had never even thought of.

Each family member has a laundry hamper in their room, and each person has a day of the week for their laundry to be done.

Rather than separating laundry by color, 
each person's entire load gets washed together.
She adds 1/2 a cup of vinegar to the wash to keep the colors from running.  
(Red things are washed separately the first time.)
She says that none of her clothes have been damaged from not sorting by color.

I assume she is using cold water only.

I'm thinking that I will have a day each week (M-F) for each member of our family.
The older kids will do their own load on their day.
I would do a load of towels, and a load of sheets each week, for a total of 7 loads of laundry a week.

What I like about this system, is that it would save time by
eliminating the color sorting, and the family member sorting.

Socks might actually stay together, and be returned to the person that they belong to...as a set!  :)

The only part that I am hesitant about, is whites.  I like to wash my whites with bleach.
Maybe I could just do some whites that need to be bleached once a month or so. Hmmm.

There were lots of comments below Laura's post.
I skimmed over them, and they offer even more good tips.

Anything that might make laundry a little bit faster and easier, is worth a shot!

Do you have any tips for making laundry happen more smoothly at your house?

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Off To A Bumpy Start...

Yesterday, it was my day to drive Christian and some friends to Science CoOp.  
Everything went well.
I got them settled, and started the drive home.

As I passed over what looked like dirt in the road, I  suddenly felt a big bump!  

I slowed down, and quickly realized that something was wrong.

Thankfully I was just a few feet from a gas station, so I pulled in and called Corey.

To make a VERY long story short, we had to have the car towed to a dealership.  After FIVE hours, I finally drove away...only to return again today. Money that could have easily paid for some pretty window treatments, or a great entry table, or a beautiful new rug, 
was spent on a shiny new...

wheel and tire.

Ugh.

I just really dislike spending big money on such totally boring things, don't you?

When I got  home, for the first time all day, I started thinking about what I would make for dinner.  

I moped over to the refrigerator to take a look around, and before I knew it, I was pulling out everything, tossing this and that into the trash, and wiping down each of the shelves and drawers.  

 Almost an hour later, I had a very clean refrigerator!  

and a nice sense of accomplishment...



That is often the way projects end up getting tackled at my house..unexpectedly.  
One thing just leads to another.  

Today that unplanned little project was just what I needed!

Sometimes it is little things like this that make me feel better!

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Valentines Day In The Kitchen

Yesterday, Carson and I got busy in the kitchen to make Valentine's treats for everyone.  We made this recipe for Valentine's Confetti.  

Carson knows how to make microwave popcorn, so he got us started by popping our first bag.


After he popped the popcorn, I melted the candy coating.

We poured  it into the popcorn, and added the MnMs.  

Carson then stirred it up for us.


We spread it out on parchment paper to dry.

Carson sprinkled a few more MnMs, and some peanuts on top!  

He was feeling pretty proud of our little project!  :)


His attention span maxed out when it was time to fill the bags,
so I finished that part up.

We were both really happy with how the treat bags turned out!

When Caylie came home from CoOp, we started handing bags out. 

It was fun to give people a treat that we had worked together to make!


Caylie and Christian each made cards for everyone in the family, and they were 
very special. 
 I love things that are made by my kiddos!

Corey got us gift certificates to some fun stores, and then we all went out to eat at Chip's, one of our favorite casual restaurants. 

 It was a fun and relaxed Valentine's day!

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Sunday, February 13, 2011

3 Yummy (Gluten Free) Valentine's Treats

I have been searching for some cute ideas for Valentine's Day, that are also gluten free.  These are 3 great ideas that I found that are either already gluten free, or can easily be tweaked!  I think that one or two of these might show up at my house for Valentine's Day tomorrow!

Doesn't this Valentine Confetti from Kellie at This Blessed Nest, look great?! And all of the ingredients are already gluten free!

LOVE THAT!

I have made something similar to this before, and added peanuts...Mmmmm.


Chelsie Mae at Sweet Baby Hiccups 
(love that name!)
 made these cute cheesecake pops

 A couple of the toppings that she used have gluten... 
Graham Crackers and Oreos,
but there are gf versions of both available. 

The Butterfingers, Reece's, and MnM's are all gluten free!

My crew loves cheesecake, so I might have to give these a try!


And finally, this luscious looking Creme Brulee from Jamie at Sophistimom, is naturally gluten free.  

Love the idea of preparing it in the heart shaped ramekins!  
Who wouldn't love these?

I think that this is a wonderful idea, but I don't think I am going to tackle this one since my sweet mom makes a KILLER creme brulee, and I just couldn't compete
...but I still wanted to pass it along!  :)


If you, like me, have procrastinated just a bit
(I think I just work well under pressure!)

...maybe I just helped bail you out!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Friday, February 11, 2011

3 in 30 Week 2 Check In


The 3 goals that I set for February were...

1) Have a short morning quiet time using my devotional book, "Jesus Calling".

2) Prepare gluten free dinners 4 nights a week.

3) Post 3-4 times a week on my blog.

So far, I think that I have done pretty well.  We had snow this week, and routines were thrown off, but overall, I'm happy with my progress.

Next week, I would like to continue with my progress in each of these areas, but find more balance in other areas.  I have let laundry get ahead of me this week, and I hate having the laundry monster waiting for me around every turn.  Ugh.

Also, I've been needing to clean out the fridge and organize a couple of areas in my kitchen that have been catching piles of clutter lately.  Clutter in the house makes clutter in my brain, and I know that living with some clutter is reality, but I sure would feel better if I could come back next week and say that I have been able to accomplish my 3 in 30 goals AND manage these things a little better. 

If not, then a more consistent laundry routine and kitchen reorganization can be included in my 3 in 30 goals for March! 

I'll let you know how it goes!  :)

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Homeschool Mother's Journal



In my life this week...


This week we have had snow



I have loved having the slow moments to just be together at home.  We have eaten together, played games together, relaxed together, enjoyed friends, and yesterday, I even got quite a bit of laundry done!

Everyone loves it when that happens!


In our homeschool this week...
Since we have had snow, I caved in, and gave the kids Wednesday and Thursday off so that they could relax and play.

Today we are kicking back into gear!  :)


Places we're going and people we're seeing...
Yesterday Corey took the kids to a big hill close by.  They met another dad, and some friends from church there, and had great time playing in the snow and sledding. 


After that, we had a house full of kids for the afternoon.  It was a fun day.





My favorite thing this week was...
I was thrilled to have such a heavy snowfall for our area.  It is rare for us to have as much snow as we have had this winter, and especially rare for us to have as heavy of a snowfall in one day as we had on Wednesday.  It was beautiful and exciting to see it falling, and covering everything in a blanket of white!  I didn't want it to stop!

What's working/not working for us...

Other than having a few things that I don't want to do staring me in the face...like
more laundry, and cleaning out the fridge, things have gone well this week.  

Maybe it is just because we haven't had much going on!  :)

Homeschool questions/thoughts I have...

I keep thinking that I am somehow missing the boat on how I plan out my curriculum.  

I hand write it all.  

I do the original planning and scheduling in my teacher planner, and then I write out individual daily plans in the kid's binders.  I know that there must be an easier way, but this actually seems to have worked for us so far.  I really only do planning twice a year...before each semester, so although it takes a lot of time at those points, it is a small part of the year.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share..

As your kids grow they may forget what you said, but won't forget how you made them feel. (parentingzone.com)


Writing the Waves,
Christi

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Let It Snow!

This is the peaceful view from our porch today.


We are lovin' it.


Since we have already had a few snow days this year, the kids weren't in such a rush to play outside.

That will come tomorrow.  


Today we enjoyed being warm and having a nice lazy day inside.

I treasure these times.




Boys and their games.


And some warm apple crisp to wind up the evening.

Mmmm.

You can find my super easy, and yummy recipe here on my recipe blog if you want some for yourself!  


What's happening today at your house?

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Valentines Craft Time

Yesterday, Carson and I had some fun crafty time together.

I got him set up to make Valentines cards for his preschool teachers.

We started by ripping up pieces of scrapbook paper. I let Carson rip up some papers that he liked, and we put them in a little box.


Next, I took a sharpie, and drew a heart on the outside of two folded pieces of scrapbook paper that he would use as cards.

We used a glue stick to glue the pieces of paper inside the hearts.


After he finished filling in his hearts with paper scraps, I asked him to tell me a message to put inside the cards. At first it was all about rocket blasters and things zooming around, but eventually I convinced him that as much as his teachers would love a message about rocket blasters, it really needed to be about them, and Valentines Day...not rocket blasters...he finally gave in. :)

After I wrote "his" message, I drew dotted letters to help him "sign" his own cards.
The one with the white paper inside was a little bit of damage control after he got carried away and smeared the glue stick inside the card...just gotta go with the flow!
He is pretty proud of his cards, and is excited to give them to his teachers next week.


Writing the Waves,
Christi

Monday, February 7, 2011

A Family Favorite Recipe...Black Beans, Beef and Rice

I recently prepared a new recipe for my family, and it was a big hit with everyone!

I love it when that happens...because it seems like SOMEONE in our family (...a cute little opinionated 4 year old), turns his nose up at most anything that is not Mac N Cheese these days!

Anyone know the feeling?

What makes it even better, is that it is gluten free, so our whole crew can enjoy it....which has become a requirement around here.

I have made it twice so far, and the last time, we decided that when I make it again, I should do a double batch!

Black Beans, Beef and Rice

4 slices of bacon, cut into 1" pieces
1 lb. lean ground beef
1/2 c chopped onion
green pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1C long grain rice
1C water
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, undrained
15.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 t dried Italian seasoning
1t salt
1C shredded mozzarella cheese

Cook bacon in large skillet on medium heat.  Add beef, onion, pepper, and garlic.  Cook, stirring often, until beef has browned.  Add water, rice, tomatoes, beans, Italian seasoning, and salt.  Mix well.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until liquid is absorbed and rice is done (20 min. or so).  Sprinkle with cheese

 Give it a try, and I bet it will be a crowd pleaser at your house too!

If you happen to have a picky kid or two wandering around your house, check out Jenny's new series, "Meals Kids Love"!  

Writing the Waves,
Christi

Here's where I'm linking up...
It's a Keeper
Miz Helen’s Country Cottage

Friday, February 4, 2011

My 8 Favorite Homeschool Resources

Yes, I know that it is only February, but as a homeschool mom, I am always trying to think ahead, and work to make our courses as interesting and effective as possible...so yes, I'm already thinking ahead to next year!

We have actually had a really great year with our curriculum, and so believe it or not, unless something sweeps in and changes my mind (which I'm always open to), next year we will stick with these 8 resources that have been working well for us.

1) ALEKS online math curriculum-  This year Christian did Pre-Algebra, and we have been very pleased with the program.  Next year, we plan to stick with Aleks for Algebra.  They offer a free trial, which is what we used this summer before making the decision to switch from Teaching Textbooks.


2) Sonlight History- I really like how Sonlight merges resource books with historical fiction books to create a richer, more in depth picture of history.  This year we are doing our 2nd year of World History, and next year we will do US History.


3) Wordly Wise Vocabulary- This was our first year to use Wordly Wise.  It is a great, easy to use, yet challenging vocabulary curriculum. 


4) ABeka Grammar and Composition-  I like how thoroughly the ABeka workbook introduces and explains each new concept.  Last year we used Easy Grammar and Daily Grams, but I have found ABeka to be a little better at presenting the information.  We will continue with ABeka next year.


5) Spelling Power- This is a great spelling book that can be used from age 8 to adult. 


6) Apologia Science- Christian is doing Physical Science this year, and will be moving to Biology for 8th grade.  We will probably supplement the course with Red Wagon Tutorials.


7) IEW Writing- The Institute for Excellence In Writing is a thorough program.  It took me a while to get it all figured out, but once you get rolling, it leads the student step by step through continually advancing writing techniques.


8) Lizardpoint Geography-  I just came across this recently, but both Christian and I really think it is great.  It is a free online geography "game" that allows the student to master each part of the world, one area at a time. Right now, Christian is mastering Africa.  Before I found Lizardpoint, we were using our interactive globe to look up the areas that we were studying in history.

Caylie attends the homeschool high school co-op in our city, and will continue to do so (as well as taking classes at the community college), next year, when she is a...

SENIOR! 

Aagh!  Did I just type that?!?! 

Please excuse me while I take a quick break...sniff, sniff...

Ok...moving on...

The only classes that she is doing at home this year, are history, grammar, and vocabulary.  She is using the same resources as I listed above, only at the high school level, and next year will be the same.

Also, both kids do Christian World View here at home, which I have just put together using monthly memory verses, and daily readings.  The last book that we covered was Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven Life", which I love, and now Christian is reading "Live Like A Jesus Freak", by DC Talk, while Caylie is reading her Bible.

What homeschool resources do you love?

Writing the Waves,
Christi

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