Saturday, August 23, 2014

What's Going On

Here is the short(ish) version of a long story.

I left on August 15 with all five children, in a fully packed vehicle with a carrier thing on top, hours of audio books and 3 new DVDs.  We arrived at Olivia's college 13.5 hours later.  What a trip!

We spent the night in a hotel, and moved Olivia's things into her dorm room that Saturday morning.  I was greeted with a wonderful surprise and a most unexpected blessing--Olivia's roommate and her mother had moved all of their things (Olivia's too) out of storage and into the dorm room.  It was all there.  Waiting for us to unpack.  I cannot express what a delight that was!  Olivia is in the same dorm room with the same roommate, but they had to move every single thing out of the room for the summer.  We stored most of it in a climate controlled basement storage area of a nearby dorm.

I stayed for 3 more nights there, and spent the time unpacking Olivia, buying her some groceries and a few items from Target, and then, one by one, all of the children except Leah came down with strep throat!  Olivia was first, and her case was the worst, because it was two days after her throat began hurting until she began treatment.  I found a Walgreens walk-in health clinic, and she was seen by the nicest nurse practitioner.  Next was Sam, then Julie, and on the Wednesday we arrived home, Clay.  So far, neither Leah nor I have a sore throat and Jimmy was here at home the whole time working…..I figure that if we were going to get it, we already would have.

Since Olivia was feeling so badly, and since she was contagious, I bought her school books for her and ran all of her errands.  She was beginning to feel somewhat better when we left for home on Tuesday afternoon.  We took her to an Indian restaurant for lunch before we left.  Yum.

We drove halfway, and stopped for the night in a hotel.  Then on Wednesday morning we got on the road early and arrived home about 2:00 PM.

We were so glad to be home, but we are already missing Olivia terribly!

We did school Thursday and Friday, and then Friday afternoon we traveled to Jackson to attend Jimmy's 20th year medical school class reunion.  We met my daddy along the way, and he took the children to my parents' house.  Jimmy and I joined them later Friday night after his reception.
We spent the night, ate lunch with them today, and then came back home this afternoon.  Home again!

We will get back to school next week!  I had budgeted these days for travel when I made my original home school year calendar.  So it's all good.

Except that we miss Olivia.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A Smooth Homeschool Day

Is there such a thing as a smooth homeschool day? What about a smooth day in general?  While no day is perfect, I believe that we can takes steps to encourage a day that flows fairly smoothly.  Now this does not take into consideration the inevitable mishaps, but having a routine in place creates stability in your day.  Children thrive with the security of routine.  You don't have to be a drill sergeant or a tedious clock watcher with a timer, but finding your own personal rhythm to your own school day, and then teaching and implementing the routine to your children, will make for a productive day.  (Well, on most days!)

I wrote a post for Real Life At Home (formerly The Homeschool Classroom) three years ago entitled, 10 Ways to Make Your Homeschool Day Run Smoothly.  This article sums up my thoughts about creating a rhythm to your homeschool day.

We completed our 6th day of homeschool for this school year yesterday.  Fortunately, the schedule/routine that I created for us to follow is working smoothly.  When Julie begins her online college courses later this month, I may have to adjust our routine slightly….it depends on how well our internet provider cooperates with the online classes!  For the first few days, she may need me to help her navigate her courses, and I will have to make allowances in my routine for this.  The younger children will be comfortable with their schoolwork by this time, and I am hoping that they will be able to work independently while I assist her.

Olivia will be going back to college soon.  We are slowly packing her up.  Thankfully I saved the master list that I typed for her last August, and now it's just a matter of putting items in boxes/bags/suitcases/ and checking them off the list.  We stored a lot of her things at her school, so we do not have as much to carry this time.

My blogging will be sporadic as I adjust to the hours of marathon training, homeschooling for 7 hours a day, the children's extra activities beginning, and keeping the household running as well.

Have a great day!

"She watches over the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness."
Proverbs 31:27

Friday, August 8, 2014

Your Scheduling Questions Answered

Do you plan your group classes together first? 
I only do Bible with all of my children together.  They are welcome to listen to each other's Sonlight books, but Bible is the only thing that I require all of them to be with me at the same time.  I choose our Bible time based on what time I think all children will be awake, fed, and through with their chores.  I also take into consideration if I am training for a marathon or not, and realistically what time I will consistently be home from running.  Over the past several years we have had our Bible time anywhere between 8:00 and 10:00 AM.  This school year our Bible time is at 9:00 AM.  I have on my schedule to do writing and chemistry (when needed) with Clay (10th grade)  from 8-9.  I am making sure that I am through running by 7:45.  Julie (12th grade) is working on her online classes from 8-9, and Leah and Sam are eating breakfast, doing chores, and beginning their independent school work from 8-9.  We do our Bible lesson from 9:00-9:30.

How do you plan to be with each child at a certain time during the day and not cross over onto another child's time? 
I plan very carefully!  :)
I highly recommend reading and implementing the scheduling methods in Managers of Their Homes (MOTH), sold at  I also have learned many tips which I use on a daily basis from Teri Maxwell's other books (sold on the same website), Managers of Their Schools and Managers of Their Chores.  I used to use the sticky tack and the huge spreadsheet that is included in MOTH when planning my new school year schedule.  Now I just pull up my last year's schedule and delete, add, and rearrange blocks in the table.  Then I rename it, save it, and print it out.  
But actually it's way more involved than that!
It takes a little bit of trial and error to get it all work out, but now I pretty much follow a similar schedule from year to year.

Here is an overview of my current school year schedule:
  • 8-9:  work with Clay; Julie does online classes; Leah and Sam do chores and begin independent school (using a laminated checklist that I have prepared)
  • 9-9:30:  Bible with all
  • 9:30-11:00:  Clay and Julie work alone; I assist Leah and Sam with all schoolwork except science and Sonlight
  • 11-11:30:  science with Leah and Sam; Julie and Clay work alone
  • 11:30-12:30:  school with Clay (check all his work, go over algebra, etc.); Leah and Sam finish up any schoolwork needed, Julie work alone (or she may be done by this time)
  • 12:30-1:30:  lunch.  I check email, attend to laundry, clean the kitchen, etc.
  • 1:30-3:00:  Sonlight with Leah and Sam.  I am doing 2 Cores.  I do one Core and then the other.  I alternate which Core I begin with each day.  Clay and Julie finish up any school work and then have free time.
  • 3:00:  I check Julie's schoolwork (really not that much, and I usually do it before this time.
  • extra activities, errands, housework, laundry, etc.
  • 5:00:  cook supper, kids do evening chores
Which leads me to these last questions.

School takes all day. When and how do you fit in all of your cleaning? How do you divide your chores with your kids and when do they do them if school starts around 8am? after school? 

We have very specific chore charts and lists.  The children  have before school chores (things like bring dirty clothes, pet care, make beds, etc.) and they also have evening chores (things like tidying different areas of the house, both inside and out, putting away clean laundry, taking out trash, etc.)  In addition to these daily chores, each child has weekly chores (things like dusting and vacuuming their rooms, cleaning out my vehicle, taking the trash to the road, cleaning bathrooms, etc.).  I divided my housework into areas and jobs, and everyone, even my 8yo has work to do each week.  I do not assign a specific day for these weekly chores to be done, but they must be completed by Saturday night.  I assess fines for any chore not completed by Saturday night.  Thankfully, I rarely collect any money!  I also do my fair share of the housework--the jobs that no one likes to do and the jobs that take the most time.  I usually do my housework 2-3 afternoons a week or on Saturday.

So, no, my house is not completely clean from top to bottom on any given day, but the whole house is cleaned once a week--just not all clean at the same time.  
I will add, that I do have a housekeeper that comes once a week and cleans my main floor.  That is a huge help, and I am very grateful that I have this help.  
My children are hard workers!  Jimmy is a hard worker too, and we just seem to keep the household running.  Our house is  never "magazine perfect", but it's homey and for the most part clean and orderly.

One last tip:  We pick up all the clutter every day

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Our First Day Of School

We started our 2014-1015 school year bright and early Monday morning….about 7:30 AM.  I had a special breakfast ready.  (Normally our breakfast is self-serve).

I shopped at our local teacher supply store a few weeks ago, and I bought several products with the same apple theme/print.  I had fun planning our back-to-school celebration with these apples things.

Here is the table…..I copied a table I had seen on Pinterest….with a few modifications.

 I hot-glued green felt pieces cut out like leaves to the red plates. On the right are two pieces of chalk tied with ribbon.  The chalk is for writing on the placemats!  Another Pinterest idea!  I spray-painted old vinyl placemats with chalkboard paint.  It took three coats, and some of the placemats wrinkled up, but I had 5 that turned out fairly smooth, so I used those for the children's place settings.  I taped an alphabet letter initial on each child's cup, and I made a place card using white card stock, red paper, and the apple stickers that I bought.

I made this banner by glueing some of the apple cutouts and the black letters on a banner I bought from Hobby Lobby.

Here are the children enjoying their breakfast.
Then they drew on their placemats.

After breakfast, we had our annual back-to-school treasure hunt.  I had 9 clues that the children took turn reading and figuring out, and then for clue #10, I typed up 5 separate clues, one for each child, which led to the treasure.  This year's treasure was a pack of Sharpies for everyone except Olivia, who got Frixion erasable pens.

One last thing before actually beginning our schoolwork was to take the first day of school pictures.

We began school later than what I have planned for regular school days.  I think it was 9:00 before we started.  We did our Bible lesson and worked on other school work for a while, and then we took a snack break.  Again, this is a first day of school treat---normally, snacks are self serve too--when you are hungry.
Both snack ideas were from Pinterest.  Jimmy made the popcorn sacks (out of notebook paper), and he helped me get the "chalk" out of the straws.  (I melted white chocolate candy discs, sucked them into a straw, and froze them until they were hard).

We did more schoolwork after our snack break, and then I had one more special surprise for the day:  homemade alphabet soup.  (I had put it in the crock pot earlier in the day).

We continued with our schoolwork until 4:00 that afternoon!  It did not take all of my children until 4:00 to complete their work, but it took me that long to work with my children and check their work.

And then I canned a batch of tomatoes!