Wednesday, May 27, 2009

School Prep 2

Now is the time to plan your curriculum for next year. Reflect on the previous year: what worked, what did not work, what just needs a little bit of tweaking.

The first thing I do is to go through each child's schoolbooks from the previous year (the ones that were not completed and therefore not stored or discarded) and see if the book will last another school year, or if I will have to purchase the next book in the series. I make a list of what I will need to order. For example: we use Easy Grammar and Daily Grams. I begin these books when my child is in 2nd grade (for Daily Grams) and 3rd grade (for Easy Grammar). We usually do not complete the entire book in a single school year, so I have the child just pick up where he left off when beginning the new school year. I have them work through each book before advancing to the next. Building Thinking Skills books are completed the same way. For subjects like math, we advance to the next grade when the new school year begins even if we did not complete every single page (this happens with my younger children who use Horizons math, but not with the older ones who use Teaching Textbooks--TT has about 118-125 lessons in a course. My children always complete their TT book within the school year.)

Next, I make a list for each child that includes what subjects he will be studying next year and what books and resources he will need. Most of my list is comprised of history books---biographies, historical fiction, literature, and general information about whatever time period the child will be studying.

I spend a good bit of time browsing through all of the homeschool catlogs that I receive this time of year. As with all tasks, I don't have large hunks of time, but I keep the catalogs and a pen in a bag, and whenever I have a spare moment (waiting in the car, in bed at night, a few minutes after lunch, etc.) I go through each catalog circling what I may want to purchase. I turn down the page if I circled an item on that page. I also spend short spurts of time online browsing curriculum websites and online catalogs. I put any items that interest me in a shopping cart for later use. After spending two or three weeks doing this, I am ready to make my order list. I handwrite this list rather than type it, because I work on it in a variety of places at a variety of times. I keep the notebook with my order list in the same bag as the catalogs. Since I have turned down the pages and circled the items that interested me, this does not take much time. By this time, since I have looked at curriculum at so many different places, I usually eliminate several items from each catalog or online shopping cart as I review them. I write down the name of the book or item and its price. Then I do all of my ordering online, crossing off each item as I order it. I try to group as much as I can into a single order in order to save on shipping costs.

Now, what to do with all of those books as they arrive?!?

Memorial Day

On Memorial Day, we joined Jimmy's parents and his sister and her family for an afternoon of food and fun. Jimmy had to work until about noon, so we arrived at his parents' house about 1:00. Jimmy invited me to do a long run with him before we ate.....I was due a long run (I try to run an 8 mile run every other week), but I wasn't sure if Jimmy's idea and my idea of a long run were the same! Anyway, I was more than happy to go for a run with my husband! He was very patient with my slow pace, and we really enjoyed each other's company. We were able to talk without interruption! Our plan was to run 10 miles, but it ended up being 11.5! I am still recovering two days later!! The weather was alternately blazing hot and rainy throughout the 2 hour run. I definitely prefer the rain.

The grandchildren all played together while we ran, and after Jimmy and I returned, we enjoyed a delicious grilled meal!
The grandchildren (minus Will who was working at this time) eating their supper

Pop grilling the steaks---this is the new grill that all of Granmomma and Pop's children gave them for Mother's and Father's Day this year.

Julie crocheting a baby blanket

Jenny and Granmomma in the kitchen.

Will, Jeff, and Pop
Will joined us later in the day after he got off work.

Grace, Leah, and Sam

Clay and Olivia

Monday, May 25, 2009

School Prep 1

I am going to write a series of posts about preparing for the next school year. Even if you homeschool year round, you still have an ending the of the current grade level and a beginning of the new grade level. There are tasks that must be completed to insure a smooth transistion from one year of school to the next.

The very first thing I do to prepare for the upcoming school year is to clean out the children's "Work Buckets". The work buckets are simply dishpans with their names on the outside. The buckets hold their schoolbooks. I go through each child's work bucket, removing everything. I store non-consumable books for the next child, and then I decide what to keep. I keep very little.......I keep tests in a folder in my filing drawers, and I keep all of their writing. I think that this year I am going to bind each child's writing with those little comb binders. That will take up much less space than 3 ring binders. Finally, I put away pencils, crayons, markers, etc. that have collected in the bottom of the work bucket, and then I throw away all of the trash. Now I have a clean work bucket for next year's school books and supplies.

As the new schoolbooks come in for the upcoming school year, I place each child's books in their work bucket, and I store the teacher books on a shelf for easy access.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Just a Mama!

Earlier today when I was unloading the dishwasher, Leah and I were talking about people having surgery and how they were sewed back together afterwards (Leah initiated this conversation). I explained to her that they used some sort of thread or staples to sew them together, and that it was not like the thread we use to sew cloth or the staples we use to staple paper. I just said that I was not sure what it was made of, but that it was different. She responded saying, "Oh. You don't know because you are not a doctor!"
Me: Yes, that's right.
Leah: So what are you?
Me: What do you mean?
Leah: What ARE you?
Me: Oh. I am a Mama.
Leah: I know you are a Mama, but what ARE you?
Me: I am just a Mama. That is what I do everyday.
Leah: I see. You are a nothing!
Me: What???
Leah: You are just a nothing.

I thought about that for a minute as we were still unloading the dishwasher together. Then our conversation continued.
Me: I know what I am, I am a domestic engineer.
Leah: What is that?
Me: You know, I take care of all of you--Daddy and the children, I cook, I clean, I teach, I do things with yall and take you places.
Leah: That's not anything. You are a nothing.

Then she skipped off to play.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Splash Pad Fun

We visited the Splash Pad twice last week! Once with friends and once with just our family--Jimmy too. We all ran in the park, then cooled off in the water.

The girls were shivering after getting wet!

Clay cooling off

Olivia reading under a tree

Sam playing on the "raindrops playground". That is what he calls this park!

Leah and Sam after our run.....all of that riding in the stroller just wore Sam out! He is sound asleep! Leah actually ran/walked 1.2 miles with me before riding!

Clay on the day we were there with friends


Summer Clean-up Progress

I could never take AFTER pictures of my house all in one day. Because when one room is finally clean and neatly organized, another one is a cluttered mess! Today I will share pictures from Leah's room. In this room I removed a small bookshelf, and placed it in Julie's room. Leah needed the space in her room, and Julie needed more shelves for books. I rearranged a few things after removing the shelf. I also cleaned out all of the drawers and the closet, and I removed many toys that Leah had outgrown.


A little bit of tidying up....a little bit of rearranging.....


Now you can see the floor, and I stored the Christmas tree....Leah liked to use it as a night light, but I convinced her that storing it until next December would make it more special!


This is where the bookshelf used to be.


I moved the other shelf to her bedside, moved her doll crib to this wall, and then hung her bulletin board.


All of the stuff from the bookshelf that I moved to Julie's room was piled on the bed, awaiting a new home.



I rearranged and removed some items on this shelf to make room for all of the books that were on the other shelf. I placed the kitchen play food boxes underneath her bed and the little crib.


Friday, May 22, 2009

The Piano Recital

Last night Olivia, Julie, and Clay had their piano recital. It was delightful! I was so proud of all three of them! This was Clay's first year to take piano lessons, but he said he was not one bit nervous about performing!

Each student played two songs. Most of the songs were played by each student alone, but some of the students performed duets. Clay and John Parker had a duet! It was quite entertaining!
Clay and John Parker

Julie and Olivia

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Just a Cute Picture

sweet Sam with his daddy!

Almost every day Sam will ask me, "Where's Daddy?" After I remind him that Daddy is at work, he will always reply, "Daddy is at work AGAIN??"

Beginning Running

Recently I had a comment from a reader asking me to blog about beginning running. Some of my real life friends also asked me to do the same thing......

Let me begin by saying that I am NOT an expert! I am not even an athlete! I did not play any sport in high school; I was not even a high school cheerleader! However, I have pretty much always exercised. My past exercise experience includes walking, a variety of aerobic classes, weightlifting, the stair stepping machine, and playing tennis. I ran for a short time before I was pregnant with Leah, but I did not begin running as a regular form of exercise until a little over two years ago.

My reasons for starting to run were not really that spectacular, and they did not include getting in shape or weight loss (although I did hope for those benefits!). The two main reasons I began to run were 1. Jimmy and the children had been running for a year, and I felt left out. 2. I felt guilty! I was taking my children to the track to run, or instructing them to run on the treadmill, but I was just a spectator! Of course I had a few excuses....mainly that I had a one year old and and three year old. I mentioned to Jimmy that I would like to start running, and he promptly bought me a double jogging stroller!

I did not take the time to educate myself about how to begin running. I just took off, trying to keep up with Jimmy and the children. Big mistake! I battled knee pain from the beginning, and I think I just did too much too soon. But after taking 6 weeks off last spring to let my knee heal, I spent time reading about beginning running. When I restarted, I used a method advocated by Jeff Galloway--the run/walk method. This allowed me to rebuild my strength slowly. I followed his plan, and 5 1/2 months after starting back, I ran my first half-marathon (13.1 miles)!

Running/walking is such a convenient sport. It is a lifelong sport, and it can be enjoyed by the whole family. The advice I am listing is primarily for women---mothers in particular. Young women can progress faster, and if you are beginning to run with your children, you will find that they progress faster than you too. Youth is on their side! Remember, I am NOT an expert! This is just friend-to-friend advice!

1. Educate your self about beginning running. I recommend reading books or reading online articles about running. Some key authors are Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon. You can also google beginning running, beginner 5K training plans, beginner running training, etc.

2. Walk first! If you are not walking for 30 minutes a day, 4-5 times a week, begin there. Most of the beginning running programs will advise this. Walk briskly! This is not the time to chat on your cell phone!

3. Wear decent shoes---keds or fashion shoes don't count. As soon as you commit to sticking with running/walking, you need to invest in a good pair of running shoes. Most of my friends' husbands have rewarded them with real running shoes after they have ran/walked for 2 months or so. My husband bought me my first pair of running shoes after 6 weeks of running. The quality running shoes DO make a difference. Be prepared to spend around $100 for a good pair of running shoes. Locate a small outdoor/running type store to purchase your first pair of running shoes. The salespeople at these type of stores really know their products and can fit you correctly. Be prepared to walk/jog on a treadmill or around the store for them. They need to watch you so they can properly fit you.

4. Run slowly! After you have walked for a few weeks, and you are ready to insert a few jogs into your workout, run slowly! I cannot stress this enough. You should be able to talk while running. It is not a race! You can prevent injury by walking to warm up and running slowly. The speed will come over time!

5. After you have completed a couple of weeks of a program like this: walk 10 minutes; run 2 minutes/walk 2 minutes, I would extend my total time running/walking before I would try to run for longer stretches.

6. Don't give up! Commit to running/walking 4 days a week. I don't like to run 3 days in a row; I usually run Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday or Saturday. I like to run 5 days a week in the summer when I have more time, but I have been able to maintain my fitness level with just 4 days a week.

7. Expect aches, pains, and general muscle soreness. Every one of my friends have experienced knee pain. Use your judgement, but do not be alarmed if you ache! Rest usually cures most aches and pains, so you need to run/walk every other day at first. I have taken Motrin 4-5 nights a week for over 2 years because of general aching in my legs at night! Of course if you have a serious injury, please get it checked out. You can search online for general advice about running aches, pains, and injuries.

8. A few links to get you started:

If you are just beginning to run, please leave me a comment from time to time with your progress. I want to encourage you! If you stick with running/walking, you will feel great! Running is a super stress reliever!

Happy running!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Summer List

I have finally completed my summer list! I have it divided into six major categories:

1. Household--I listed every single drawer, closet, shelf, and area that I wanted to clean out and reorganize. I also listed things like deep clean the refrigerators, wash windows, wipe ceiling fans and other cleaning tasks that I don't do on a weekly or even monthly basis.
2. Children's Rooms--This list includes cleaning out their closets and drawers, and removing toys that they have outgrown.
3. School--This list includes cleaning out the schoolroom and preparing for the next school year.
4. Projects--Here I have listed projects like scrapbooking, mending, Bible verse book for Leah, and letter writing list.
5. Places to Go--All of the places we want to make sure we visit this summer (locally)---the library, splash pad, book mobile, HealthWorks children's museum.
6. Hospitality--I listed people to visit (elderly and shut-ins), people to invite over to swim and play, and people to take a meal to.
Under each category I have very detailed, very specific items to accomplish. My three older children have each made their own Summer Productive List which includes productive things that they can do in their rooms (like clean out drawers, shelves, and closets). Each morning after our Bible lesson and regular chores, we set a timer for 30 minutes and everybody works on their productive list. Some days I will assist the children in their rooms, and some days I will work alone on my list. I also am working on my summer list at least one other time during the day. I hope to work on the list three times a day on most days.
Making the master summer list, and then making the time to work on it each day works for me!
Please visit We Are That Family for more tips and ideas.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Summer Schedule

Today I am participating in a new blog carnival hosted by my friend Kimberly from Raising Olives.
Tuesday’s Tips for Mom is a blog carnival created by Raising Olives to allow moms to share what they have learned along the path of motherhood. Join us every Tuesday as we learn and share tips and ideas for spending time with, encouraging, training or relating to our children.
Here is my Tip for Moms:

The Summer Schedule

I am by nature an organized, planning type person. So even when I have free time (not really sure what that is) or an extended break from homeschooling, I like to have a schedule. I spend time thinking about what I would like to accomplish during this time...projects, both creative and cleaning-related, that I don't have time for during the regular school year. I am currently working on The Summer List, which lists in great detail all of my goals for the summer.

When I make a schedule, I list times for the various activities, but I am not a clock-watcher. I will not automatically end an activity because the "schedule" says that it is time to, but I do list times when I am initially planning my days so that I won't try to cram too much into one day. The schedule is my guide, my goal, for the day. I am not a slave to it! Without a plan, our summer would waste away. The end of July would arrive and I would panic!

The biggest benefit to a summer schedule is the routine that it creates. The children know what to expect. For example, they know that each morning they will run, eat breakfast, do chores, work for 30 minutes on their "Productive List", then they are free until late afternoon. The older children are each making their own Summer List, so they have ideas for what to do during their free time this summer.

With a summer schedule in place, little by little, we will accomplish much! Our house will be cleaner and more organized, school will be planned and ready for the next year, creative projects will be finished, and lots of time will be devoted to old-fashioned playing!

Please visit Raising Olives for more Tuesday's Tips!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tie-Dye 5K

This morning Jimmy, Olivia, Julie, and Clay ran the Tie-Dye Cross Country 5K. I opted not to run, (I just don't like trail running....too dirty! I like pavement better!) so I took lots of pictures and cheered for my family and friends.

Most races we participate in give small trophies or medals for awards. However sometimes the race directors are children have been awarded wooden cutouts, golf towels, beach towels, lunch boxes, water bottles and pottery pieces. But today's prizes were the most creative of all! This 5K was sponsered by Healthworks, our local children's museum that focuses on health. The children's winners were awarded bags of carrots, and the older winners were awarded some very interesting looking trophies (with vegetables on them).

Julie was the overall female winner, and she was crowned The Tie-Dye Queen, complete with broccoli scepter, an outrageous hat made of a paper grocery bag and tissue paper adorned with plastic play food and a milk carton, and a large bucket of fresh fruit and vegetables.

What a prize!

The Tie -Dye Queen!

Jimmy finished 17 overall (not sure where he was in his age division), Olivia finished 2nd in her age group, and Clay chose to run for fun today...he ran with a few of his friends as an encourager.....this was their first 5K. Heather, our Spartan coach won her age division! Go Heather! Another Spartan, Brandon, won his age division too.

Clay with Parker and Carson

Clay and Carson---just about finished!

Some of the Spartans after the race

Catherine, Sarah, and Julie

Lynn and Me
We didn't run today, so finally a picture of us at a race where we are not all hot and sweaty!

Olivia, Catherine, Julie, and Sarah

Kelly and Lynn

Sam and Leah--eating breakfast while waiting for everyone to finish the race

Leah and Avery posing with the crazy hat!

Cale ran too!

Some Spartan girls before the race

Kelly, Clay, and Cale before the race

Blogging Buddies!

Here are some of my real life blogging friends--Julie (The McAfee Family), Liesa (Life By George), Kim (Kim's Khaos), Lynn (Mims's Memories), Me, and Emily (The Accidental Farm Wife). You can check out any of their blogs by clicking on them in my Bloglist.
The race and the fellowship before and after proved to be so much fun today! We enjoyed beautiful weather, and it is always great to see all of the Spartans and their families.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Let the Summer Games Begin!

Hooray! Today was our last day of school! The Johnson Homeschool is dismissed for summer break!
Everyone was promoted.....Leah to Kindergarten, Clay to 5th grade, Julie to 7th grade, and Olivia to 9th grade! Congratulations to all of my super students!
Our school year has been very productive, and we are all looking forward to a relaxing summer. Well, a little bit of relaxing! I am working on The Summer List (which I will post about later). This list is a very detailed list of items that we will be tackling throughout the summer. I like for my summers to be productive too!

The first craft of the summer was Hamma Beads. Sam is a little too young to participate in this activity, so he played with the new kittens.
Happy Summer!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The Salt of the Earth

My whole life I have heard the expression, "He is the salt of the earth". I am very familiar with the Scripture passage in Matthew 5:13 where Jesus tell His disciples, "You are the salt of the earth". So this morning after I read this very passage, I pondered it for a while. What exactly does this mean, "the salt of the earth"?

"Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savor, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodded under foot of men." (KJV)

"You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men." (NIV)

If I am to be the salt of the earth, I need to know what exactly is the purpose of salt. What does it do?
  • salt enhances the flavor of food--It simply makes it taste better. In fact, there are some foods, like tomatoes or eggs, that I simply cannot eat without salt. I need to enhance the people around me....make them better. Do my actions enhance others? In order to enhance the "earth" around me, I need to be loving, kind, joyful, forgiving, merciful, meek, gentle, a peacemaker, and I need to pray continually.
  • salt acts as a preservative---a preservative keeps food from spoiling. Hopefully if I am exhibiting the qualities mentioned above, I will be preserving my children.....I will be teaching them the way to serve God, to obey Him, ultimately leading them to their own salvation.
  • salt melts coldness--what better way to melt the coldness of the hearts of the world around you than by living a life full of the fruits of the spirit (love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance).

But what happens when salt gets wet? It loses its power. I want to avoid getting wet! I am striving to preserve my saltiness with prayer, Bible reading and study, fellowship and worship with other Christians, and most importantly, the grace of God.

"You are the salt of the earth."

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Crunchy Green Salad

The original recipe for this salad is from my sister-in-law, Megan. As I do with most recipes, I changed a few things. Here is my version.

Several handfuls of organic salad mix
one bunch of broccoli, chopped
Mix together in large bowl.

1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1 package crumbled Ramen noodles
Brown the nuts, seeds, and noodels in 1/2 stick butter.

1 cup olive oil
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 Tbs. soy sauce.
about 1/2 of the seasoning package from the Ramen noodles (I buy chicken)
Mix dressing ingredients in a glass jar.
I either half the ingredients for the dressing, or use only half of it and store the rest for another day.

Keep greens, nuts, and dressing separate until serving time. Toss in large bowl and enjoy!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Keepers and Contenders Awards

Monday night was our Keepers of the Home and Contenders For the Faith Awards Night. The members' families gathered for a delicious meal followed by the presentation of the awards. Each child worked on the requirements to earn an award pin throughout the year.
This year is Olivia's 7th, Julie's 6th, Clay's 4th, and Leah's 1st year to participate. Our Keepers and Contenders meet monthly at night from 6:30-8:30 (or later). The girls and boys meet separately for a Bible lesson and activity, and then they all gather together for refreshments and fellowship. The parents, who must attend the meetings with their child, enjoy these meetings as much as the children.
Jimmy presenting Clay's awards

I am presenting Olivia, Julie, and Leah their awards.
The children had so much fun visiting with all of their friends!

Julie with a friend

Leah acting silly!

Olivia with friends

Clay with friends

Leah and Avery
These are the award pins the children earned this year:
Bible reading--Job, Psalms
Bible reading--Genesis-Deuteronomy
Books of the New Testament
pocket knife
Books of the New Testament
table setting
card making