Magic in the Mundane

Today….as I stood and viewed the pile I so affectionately call Mt. Laundry…a temptation crossed my mind…just the sweetest and smallest of temptations. To leave the mountain of stinky socks…dirty under garments and sweaty workout clothes till tomorrow…or perhaps the next day.pile of clothesPerhaps just a peek at how many people liked my last post on Facebook or just a not so quick look on Pinterest for Christmas present ideas. After all Christmas is soon to come!

But then I walked back into my kitchen….I stood and viewed the piles untitledof dirty dishes on the kitchen counter…remnants of breakfast that needed cleaned up and put away…..sighing….the temptation was shifting from small to great. I looked at the clock. Thirty minutes until our scheduled time to start a new week of school.

Walking back to the  laundry room, I pulled up my self control and started a load of smelly garments. School, underway shortly after….no stopping until it is complete…except to replenish my cup with a fresh brew of “Heaven’s Goodness”. And then the clock struck 11:30! Time for a run!! My children didn’t seem to respond with the same enthusiasm that I felt. But three miles complete…thirty minutes later….sweat…and a good stretch seemed to make everyone in a better mood.

As I walked back into the laundry room to switch loads from washer to dryer….I began to think. You have already read my thoughts on schooling and being at home, but I feel as though I am in a fairly constant state of adjusting my priorities. Growing up as the youngest of four, I recall my mom always seemingly being content with being at home…cleaning….cooking….doing laundry, and then still having time to sit and read and snuggle with me. Her home and her kids were her only priority during the day, and then add my dad to the mix in the evenings. She managed to have on nice clothes, hair nice and lipstick on when my dad walked through the door. She always said she didn’t want him to have to be tempted to look else where for beauty. Now lest you roll your eyes, thinking I am living in a fantasy memory, it probably was not all that straight forward, and mom probably had her itch to get out and do something “exciting” at times.

This simply prompted me into further evaluating my heart in my priorities. I can always make a to do list and through shear will power muscle my way through that list….not making anyone feel particularly valued and making myself exhausted from the stress of it all. Or I can adjust my heart to have value and JOY in my priorities…..this seems to be a lot more rewarding and a lot less exhausting in the end. Joy is strength, in fact, in the Bible, the only way to get strength is to have Joy! But there are days when I don’t feel joy. I want to thrust my responsibilities aside, looking for a distraction from what truly will be fruitful.

In today’s society, structure, discipline, mundane….almost seem to be dirty words. Everywhere we look, individuals are looking for fun, excitement….”out of the ordinary” experiences. I am not against fun and having adventure, but when it is used as a drug or an escape from the real of life it becomes problematic. The simple, sweet temptation of Facebook and Pinterest, are simply time sappers and escapes from the mundane. But actually, in the mundane, magic happens, the magic of accomplishment, there is magic in real life. Discipline in excersize allows me energy and health. Structure in the mundane facilitates an orderly home, happy children, a husband who is happy to come home and be with me! To me that is magical. Often I hear others longingly wish for a bigger house or to have far more money than they possess, or wish for vacations and all that seems glamorous. Yet these same wishers would rather sit and watch hours of TV or play on the computer rather than clean what they already have. Wanting more money rather than stewarding the little they have to create a lot. Perhaps this seems a little critical, but it is not meant to be, I have been having get real moments with myself and these are some areas that I have had to work on. Wishing for the more rather than stewarding the bit I have. Going shopping for new clothes, rather than wash the ones I already have. Eating out instead of cooking what is in my refrigerator…lol….. Going out with friends, instead of creating relationship and intimacy with my spouse and my children. Yes, I could go on, but you get the point. I am convinced, that in eternity we will be rewarded for how we stewarded our time here on earth. Time is a non-renewable resource, yet we or maybe I should say…. I, have wasted so much on it looking for something that brings momentary magic and a break from the mundane. But from here on out….I am going to start looking for the magic and beauty in the mundane…in the structure….in the discipline….I will choose Joy in the boring, so that I will be full of strength for the ordinary, because so much of our time is made up of the ordinary, and time is to short not to be extraordinary! 268b0976a4614eaa57d724af9830c21f

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She Is Free

Dark spaces, corners actually, corners of the heart that rarely get a glimpse of the soft glow and warmth of light. Spaces…. that one would rather stay hidden in darkness, but knowing freedom only comes from the warmth of light. As if hidden in the long corridors of a castle dungeon, out of sight, out of mind, one would have to purpose to visit such a place. There is no welcome mat left out in front of the door beckoning visitors to come in. Rather a “KEEP OUT NO TRESSPASSING” sign hap-hazardously perched upon the door, complete with a small window with cell bars running straight up and down, as if to say……”Behold, the resident of this cell has been tried and found guilty.” A small trap door sits towards the bottom of the door, for the keeper of the jail to slide food and water through…enabling the guilty one within to “survive”….rather than live life in thrive mode….in the clarity of light.

But then, almost in one miraculous moment the guilty verdict is over turned…..the sounds of the declaration “NOT GUILTY!”echoes through the corridors of the castle dungeon. The echo of those words unlocking the jail cell door, the vibration of freedom knocks the “KEEP OUT NO TRESSPASSING”sign from its precarious perch, as doors swing wide open, the light of freedom comes pouring in.

Startled, dazed, and overwhelmed by the brightness of light infiltrating the darkness of the guilt filled cell….the prisoner sits….not sure what to do next. The echoes and whispers of “NOT GUILTY” still bouncing off the cell walls like a rubber ball bouncing out of control. The prisoner….who in the beginning…knew she was not guilty, forgot what freedom looked like and began living life as if the guilty verdict was her identity. But as the warmth of light soaked into the skin, warming it, as the chills of darkness became saturated and soon to be forgotten, She remembers who she is. Stirring from her sedate position, she rises feeling strengthened by the light.

Leaving the cell, she turns and takes a last look at where she has spent a good portion of her years. She asks herself, “How did I get here? Why was I locked up for so long?” Images pass in her minds eye….the should be’s…I should be taller….I should be thinner…I should be kinder….I should be, I should be, I should be. A pang of guilt pierces her heart, but then she remembers….she is not guilty. Then the pictures of the you should have been’s  dance across her memory…You should have been a doctor, you should have been popular, you should have been more glamourous…stinging her soul. Shame tries to come with its hideously heavy blanket….but then… She remembers she has been declared free!

Her lock up, she realizes, came through ever so clever little lies….I should be, is a nasty lie that locks the heart right up…padlock…security lock…on top of the strength of chains. Shame might as well be the key of should have beens. She realizes that it was a team effort taken to lock her up tight, seemingly never to be free. Some of the fault lay within herself, telling herself she should be something other than what she was  created for. Some of the fault lay with others….society, friends, enemies, all having opinions of who she should have been created to be. But then the “NOT GUILTY” verdict, the light…it came.

She turns to wind her way through the passage way to complete freedom. Her foot knocks something and it skids across the floor…looking down she sees the “KEEP OUT NO TRESSPASSING” sign that had once been the banner on her cell. She pauses, bends over, picks up the sign. Realizing that in the dimness of the surroundings,099fe0484d7264cb8b8982275881936a the sign actually had something else written on it in bold print. “KEEP OUT NO TRESSPASSING” was simply written with a finger through the grime that time had built up. She wipes the layers of dirt off….LOVE….in big bold letters!!!!! It said, LOVE….His banner over me is Love. She throws her head back and laughs. His love came and unlocked the chained up, dark places of her heart. The Light of Love came and warmed her….LOVE FREED HER!!!

Reviewing Purpose

83e23a804928eed714179a0cc3e9c506Well, here we are…three weeks into school and I must say…it seems to be going fairly smoothly. Of course, there is noise never ceasing….snickers, snorts, burps, giggles, and toots…sometimes I think they just want to see who can make the last noise. But I would have to say overall, I am happy with our choice to home educate.

And then comes the dark…lights out…my thoughts are not quite as sleepy as my body. So they stay awake and revisit the day and all the what if’s and what could be’s

They say confession is good for the soul…so here is a confession….I have been rather on the sharp edge with my words and emotions of late. Not a great way to spend the days teaching children whom you hope will have the law of kindness on their own tongues. Something was amiss in my heart – I just couldn’t quite pinpoint the origin of the sharpness. But then came the lights out a week or so ago. And my heart became honest with my thoughts and it dawned on me what the problem was.

We all want to know our purpose….to know that we matter….that we are needed….to belong….and when seasons change or jobs shift or we find ourselves with an empty nest, it can become extremely displacing emotionally. We tend to gain our identity from what we can do or how we can do….rather than from simply just being us.

I realized that this was the source of my sharp-edged tongue. I was feeling a bit displaced and needed to remind myself that my identity is who God created me to be, not what I could do for others or what I could create. With this choice of education has come personal sacrifice. I have privately taught music lessons for nearly the past five years of which had its own joys and tears…but mainly joy. But that has been something I needed to set aside so that I would have the time to invest into my children. I have also spent the past ten years playing in some capacity with a band. That too, because of time, health reasons and a shift of seasons has been set aside. The season of being completely needed by Little Boy has come to an end and now we have moved into a season of instruction. All the familiar ways to feel needed and important has shifted and now I feel like I am driving in a different gear. At times it feels foreign and uncomfortable, and to be honest a little lonely.

But with the “little bit” quieter season I find myself….I also see so many things that I truly used to love doing that I had set aside in the hustle and bustle of the last while. I have found a little bit of time to run, have quiet devotions, bake, cook and just sit and enjoy each of my children. Of course, things are there own new kind of crazy, but its a better kind of crazy and busy. I love reading and learning new things, talking about current events….and every conversation in our house generally ends up in politics….but I LOVE IT…..EVERY CRAZY, NOISY, BUSY moment….because I have found a new account of memories being made with my tribe. And then I remind my heart there is no reason to feel displaced or lonely….because, according to my children I am the best mom in the world. I belong right where I am….no need to worry about what I am missing out on. I am never alone….lol…(not even when I need to use the bathroom). I have a purpose and that purpose is to shape the hearts of these CRAZY, NOISY, BUSY kids, inspiring them to live life to the fullest, take chances and live free from fear.

Using Time Limits to Tame your Homeschool Day

Several months ago, most school days just seemed to drag on (and on…and on…and on), yet nothing was accomplished. Both DQ and I were getting worn out, and little time was left to dedicate to Hulk. Burnout appeared inevitable, and I knew we needed to make some drastic changes. I gave DQ an unexpected week off of school (we go year-round and normally just take off for holidays and birthdays), and determined that I was going to revamp as much as possible. I made some curriculum switches and started planning a more literature based day, because reading is a love for both DQ and I. However, the most important change I made was setting up daily limits for each subject we do. One little alteration to our plans has impacted our school life in a positive way.

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Each time we start a new subject, I set a timer for the designated time and we work diligently until the timer dings. When time is up, we pack up and get ready for the next subject. Our time frame gives us a solid ending to a subject, and DQ enjoys trying to “beat” the timer, even though I never say “this, this, and this needs to get done today.” I also purposely made my planner blank in both the plans and the dates sections. My Type A personality balks at my empty planner every day, but I have been doing this homeschool thing enough to know that my plans NEVER go the way I want. I have learned to stress less without a solid day-by-day lesson plan and I record what gets done each day as we go. I can also tell you that our productivity has sky-rocketed using a timer, even though our day is much shorter than it used to be.

In order to make sure that we are staying on track for the year, I make a goal sheet at the beginning of each year. I list each subject and what I hope to accomplish for the year. It looks something like this:

  • Math – Complete all CLE Math 2nd Grade units
  • Science – Complete Zoology, Anatomy, and Botany units

Every 3 months, I make another goal sheet for those months, like this:

  • Math – Complete 3 CLE Math Units
  • Science – Complete Anatomy Unit

And the end of the 3 months, I evaluate our progress and make sure we are meeting my goals. If we aren’t, I analyze why we may not be on track and whether I need to make any changes. Say we are only half way through our Anatomy Unit after 3 months, when I wanted it complete. Are we skipping Science when we should be doing it? Does it need to get moved to a different day or done at a different time of day? Or are we just really diving in and doing more projects and reading more books than I intended on completing? If the latter one is the cause, I just allow more time to complete the unit. If the problem lies elsewhere, I make adjustments and reevaluate after the next 3 months.

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Our school day never lasts all day like it did prior to time limits. School starts for us around 10am and is usually done by 2-3pm (including a lunch and snack time), leaving us with plenty of time for other activities and downtime. Afternoons filled with playtime make year-round schooling possible. We don’t get burned out easily because school is just part of our daily routine and is not the sole focus of our lives. On occasion, the timer will go off in the middle of a lesson. Unless it happens to be a hands-on activity that DQ is begging to finish, we go ahead and pack up the lesson and move on to the next one. Sometimes, DQ is just really struggling with a concept. She knows that as long as she has worked diligently and has done as much as she could, moving along in the middle of something is just fine. She normally comes at it much easier the next day after having a break from it.

Setting the time limits per subject is not an exact science. Grade level and maturity will be key factors in determining how long your student can dedicate to each subject. A great resource for a daily schedule with time limits can be found here. Her list is the basis for our times. I adjusted it slightly to fit DQ’s individual needs and made more changes after a few days of working with time frames. Always do what works best for your child, and never be afraid to adjust to meet those needs.

Want to see our schedule in action? Here is a look of one of DQ’s days last week:

Bible (10-15 minutes) – Reading done while eating breakfast. Coloring sheet and memory verses done while I wash up breakfast dishes.

Spelling (10 minutes) – Takes test. Test graded. Study for a few minutes.

Grammar/Writing (30 minutes) – Copywork from Complete Writer while I change diapers of little ones. Complete a lesson from CLE Light Unit 204 while I give snacks to littles. Go over lesson with Mom. Worked on one of the Light Unit Extra Activities for a few minutes.

Snack (not timed)

Literature (30 minutes) – Read Wizard of Oz and complete notebook page while I work with littles on Preschool stuff. Discussed reading with Mom for 5 minutes.

Languages (20 minutes) – Reviewed Latin flashcards and completed Copywork from Greek Alphabet book for one letter while Mom plays with littles. Mom quizzes with flashcards for Latin and goes over Spanish lesson.

Playtime with littles while Mom gets lunch ready. This time usually involves song time.

Lunch (not timed)

Math (60 minutes) – Work on Reflex Math while Mom gets littles ready for nap. Worked on Speed Drill while Mom puts littles down for nap. Completes Lesson 8 from CLE203 book. Did one page from Lollipop Logic and one page from Word Problems book. Did one review page from Math Mammoth. Played math game with Mom from RightStart Card game book.

History (60 minutes) – Listened to Story of the World Vol. 1 Chapter 15 while coloring. Completed Notebook page. Worked on timeline and map with Mom. Read from Ox, House, Stick with Mom on the couch.

Day over!! Read quietly until littles wake up, and then play the rest of the day!!!

Human Anatomy Unit Week 1

This school year is shaping up to be an amazing one. We have made several changes to both curricula and methods, and we are having a smooth, fun-filled year. We have also had to cut down on homeschool expenses this year by quite a lot, so I have been making a lot of my own resources and implementing free quality ones I can find. We are getting ready to start a unit on the Human Body, and I thought I would share my plans with you. I will post about each section as we go. I do have a master document with my personal notes you can access here, but it may not be decipherable to anyone other than me;) I will work on a more reader-friendly version of all of the Section plans as time allows. Our main text was only $12.50, and all of the other resources are ones we already owned. I did incorporate Bill Nye videos because DQ loves them. We do not own these, but they are currently running on Netflix, and even our less than stellar library has all of the episodes.

Resources:

DK First Human Body Encyclopedia

My Body by Teacher Created Resources

Free Matchcard Sets for Anatomy and Nutrition

Magic School Bus DVDs

Bill Nye Videos

Projects from Pinterest (See my Human Anatomy Board)

Quiz sheets made by yours truly (no Quiz for the last 3 sections)

We spend around 2 hours per week on Science. I don’t make set lesson plans. We just work for a total of 2 hours (one hour per Science Day), and I make note of what we accomplish. Each unit plays out about the same. We sit together and buddy read the text. This method gives DQ the chance to ask me any questions as we read. We then work on our life-size body model and any worksheets I have. We also make vocabulary cards. The video/s come next, followed by an experiment or project if I have one (previously set up in Science bin so I just pull it out whenever we need it) and my homemade Review Worksheet. With this Review Worksheet, I have DQ answer as many as she can on her own. If she has any questions left unanswered, we sit together and look up the answer in the tex.t. Often, more than one video is listed. You can choose to watch all or just one. We normally watch all because DQ really loves them, and it makes my life a little easier.

DQ working on her life-size model.

DQ working on her life-size model.

Lesson Plans

Section 1: Introduction to the Human Body

  • Read pages 4-11 in DK First Human Body Encyclopedia
  • Trace body onto large piece of paper to begin Body Model
  • Complete Matchcard Worksheet 1 from Human Anatomy set
  • Make flashcards for Vocabulary words (Anatomy, genes, cell, nucleus, organ)
  • Watch Magic School Bus Goes Cellular (Season 6)
  • Watch Bill Nye Cells
  • Watch Bill Nye Genes
  • Build model of an animal cell. General instructions found here.
  • Review Worksheet
DQ working on Animal Cell model.

DQ working on Animal Cell model.

If you find any mistakes, please let me know so I can make changes.

Libib Review

In shelves. On dressers. In baskets. On desks. In beds. On tables. Books are spied in pretty much every spot you look in our home. We are all voracious readers, and books rank as the most affluent item in our house. However, this proclivity for attaining new books has lead to a problem. Countless times, I have found myself staring at a magnificent row of books in our Children’s Consignment shop or in our Friends of the Library book room pondering whether or not we have that copy of The Courage of Sarah Noble.   I needed a system for keeping track of the books we own that I could easily access on the go. Enter the Libib App and website. This program is simply amazing and is completely free!

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Easy to use, Libib helps me keep track of the books in our personal library. As an added bonus, I can create up to 100 libraries for the different types of books we have. I have one for each Story of the World volume so I can track the books that belong in each period. I have one for each year of Literature. I even have a Curriculum List, where I have all of the curriculum we own listed. I have not entered all of my homeschool items, but so far, every curriculum I have is listed. Being able to track my homeschool materials was an added boon that I was thrilled to discover. In total, you can store 100,000 books, so I am not afraid I will be running out of space any time soon.

Two other features I absolutely love are the Tag feature and the Group feature. I use the Tag feature for marking my ebooks. I prefer hard copy books generally, but will sometimes purchase ebooks. As with my hard copy books, I tend to forget what I own, and this feature has made it easy to see which ebooks I have available. I also Tag the location of the book. As mentioned at the beginning, books are often strewn all over, so tagging the location makes it easy to locate. If I am looking for Tales of the Odyssey, Part 1, I search the title in Libib and the tag tells me where it should be. The Group feature is lovely, too. I really only use it in the Curriculum List, but it has made sorting books in that library easy. I can group books by any category I want. For Curriculum List, I have groups for Geography, Math, etc.

A peek at my Libib library in the App.

A peek at my Libib library in the App.

Books are easy to enter into the system, too. Using the App on my iPad or iPhone, I can actually scan the barcode on the back of the book, and it is automatically added to the library I selected. In the App, is is not possible to search a book by keyword, but that can be done in the Website. So far, that little inconvenience is the only problem I have encountered while using Libib. Considering the fact that the service is free, I find the problem more than easy to handle. It even tracks video games, music, and movies, too, although I have not even begun to use those aspects. Overall, I highly recommend using Libib to track you personal library. Free, well-done, and just all around amazing, you really cannot go wrong.

*I was not sponsored in any way for this review. I just happened to stumble upon Libib, fell in love, and wanted to share it with all of you! Hope you enjoy as much as I do 😉

Ready, Set, Go

The aisles are laden with new packages of pencils, cap erasers, notebooks and all sorts of educational tools and goodies. Back to school signs seem to be everywhere.

There always  seem to be an excitement and anticipation in the air this time of year. With the beginning of school, comes the promise of cooler temperatures and fall festivities. As my hairdresser mentioned today, ” And then the holidays are upon us!” YIKES…..but, back to school starting…a few weeks ago, The Husband and I made the decision to keep all four of our children home this year…YIKES! AGAIN! Although I am not a newbie to homeschooling….as I am a product of such an education…I still have had some anx. The Big Boy enters high school, Big Girl is entering seventh grade, Little Girl…third and Little Boy…second. I felt a little overwhelmed in the planning and purchasing of curriculum, but I decided to stop fretting, roll up my sleeves and decorate! LOL…I figured nothing gets my creative juices flowing and makes me think clearer than when I am cleaning and decorating.

We have a room that has changed uses multiple times since purchasing our home four years ago. It was a media room, then a craft room, and then a rented room, and then a guest room (very briefly) and now it serves as the office for The Husband’s business, with a desk for me to use to blog and sew.

Going back to my motto this past year….use what you have…I gave the room new life…by rearranging so I would have a place to shelve newly acquired curriculum and school the children when The Husband is out doing business.

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Perhaps there is still a wee bit of anx, but mainly excitement now that I have cleaned my doubts away. We stand on the threshold of new opportunities, new concepts and fresh adventures! 20150820_153014

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