Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Homeschool Planning

So I have been working on my homeschool lesson plans for the upcoming school year all summer. I am still not done.  And I am planning for only three students!

To begin my planning process, I first had to clean out my entire schoolroom. I cleaned every single cabinet, drawer, shelf, closet, etc.  And this led to my wanting to clean and and reorganize every single bookshelf/bookcase in our house.  I did that!  I am so happy with the finished product. I grouped like books together in various spots in our home.  I cleared out two shelves of books in one of my schoolroom closets, and moved those books to the built-in bookshelves upstairs.  That gave me much needed room in the closet for teacher supplies, binders, current school resources, etc. As I went through the hundreds of books, I found many, many duplicate titles.  I kept all the duplicates, and I can share them with my children when they leave home.

After I got everything in order I began making a school supply list.  It was actually fairly short.  I think I have enough markers, pens, spiral bound notebooks, and glue sticks to furnish an entire elementary classroom. (Clearly, I am an over buyer in certain products!) Next I made a list of schoolbooks that I needed for each child.  It wasn't too long of a list either.  I ordered everything, and all has arrived except for my final (second!) Sonlight order.

I bought new crates for the children's schoolbooks and supplies and have put all their new school things in there.  I typed up their daily work checklists, and I think I have almost everything ready to go.  I am just finalizing my daily schedule.  When my Sonlight comes in, I will need to spend some time putting the new Instructor's Guide in my binder, sorting out the books, and putting stickers on them.  The last big planning task I have is mapping out my English IV class plans.  This is a senior level English class for Clay and five other twelfth graders.

About the Sonlight.....Lynn, Leanna, and I are taking a short break from our Sonlight studies this August-November to study the presidents, the election process, and our American Government.  I am also going to finish covering the 50 states with Leah and Sam.  Beginning November 7, I will start Sonlight Core F.  My original plan was to fly through this Core, cutting books here and there and still completing the Core by the end of May.  I spent several hours culling the books and typing a 100 day plan.  But I still wasn't satisfied.  I couldn't figure out how to fit in the books and content that I wanted to cover, and I also wanted to add some of the newer Core F books.  I first used Core F 6 years ago, and Sonlight has revised this Core since then.  Last weekend I had a new idea!  I decided I was not in a race to complete this Core. In fact, I decided to order the newer Instructor's Guide (at half-price since it was a reorder!) and the newer Core F books.  I am so excited!  I really liked this Core, and I feel so much better going through it at the intended pace. We will just work on it November-May, and pick up where ended the next school year.

I am starting school later than I have in years.  I will be having various houseguests (college students) during most of August, and then I will be driving Julie (Olivia has to go a week early for a class) to school later in the month, and staying there a few days. So, I have set August 26 as our first day of school.  That leaves me exactly one month to get everything ready.  Actually, I want to have everything ready before the guests start arriving.  :)

I'll share our curricula for next year and an outline of our daily plans as soon as I get everything ready.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Our Anniversary Trip

Back in June, Jimmy and I celebrated 25 years of marriage.  This week we continued our celebration with a short trip to one of my favorite destinations--Seaside, Florida. We left early Monday morning and came home yesterday afternoon.  We left the children here at home....but we felt badly about doing so.  They assured us they were fine with us going on a little vacation without us.  All was well when we arrived home!

So what did we do??  Well, if you know us, you know that even on our "vacations" we are active!  Our tiny rental house (and it certainly was a tiny one bedroom cottage!) came with two bicycle rentals. After we parked our car upon our arrival, we never used it again until we loaded up to come home.  We rode those bicycles everywhere!  One of them had a basket on the front so we could carry our groceries home each day. We rode to the grocery store, we rode around the towns of Seaside and Watercolor, we rode on biking/running trails, and we even rode on one very, very difficult (and unoccupied--that should have been our clue) nature trail.  We logged many miles on those bikes!

Here we are bright and early the first morning--about to go on our bike ride.

In addition to biking every day, we also ran every day.  It was hot, but we tried to run either early in the morning or near sundown. 

After some biking and running each morning, we were ready to relax with books on the beach. The water was beautiful!  As clear as we have ever seen it at Seaside.

I read three books while sitting on the beach or back in our tiny house. (Giddy Up, Eunice by Sophie Hudson--excellent!, Glitter and Glue by Kelly Corrigan--it was okay....it held my attention, but I would not recommend it, and The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho--interesting....an allegory of sorts...not earth shattering, but an interesting read.  I was disappointed in the ending. I began a 4th book, but after reading the first few chapters and then skimming through the rest of it, I knew that I did not want to finish it. (The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion) (Some books are like that.  I think it's okay not to finish a book!) So I began a 5th book, and I hope to finish it here at home.  (Gilead  by  Marilynn Robinson) We will see. I am back to reality--which does not allow much time for reading for pleasure.  Gilead was recommended to me by one of the employees of Sundog Books, my favorite bookstore of all.  It's located in Seaside, and I love to look around there when we visit. On some of the shelves in the bookstore there are groups of books that are the favorites of each of the employees. I took a picture of another girl's shelf.  I could tell by the books on her shelf that I have read and enjoyed that I would like her other recommendations too.  What a neat idea!

 Here we are about to walk to town for supper.

This picture was taken on the crazy hot trail ride we did!  

All in all it was a super fun trip!  Jimmy and I enjoyed each other's company so much, and I came home very rested.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Time Management

I have been struggling with time management recently.  I have so much that I want to accomplish, and each day goes by without much of my list crossed off.  My goals aren't that impressive, it's just basic things that I want to do.  But somehow I always run out of time.

Here are some of the things forever on my "list". 
  • daily Bible reading/study/prayer
  • exercise (running and CrossFit)
  • meal planning
  • cooking our meals
  • housekeeping (cleaning and keeping the daily clutter under control)
  • visiting family (close by and far away)
  • having people over for a meal
  • school planning
  • deep cleaning my house
  • blogging
  • yard work
  • cleaning out closets, drawers, storage areas, etc.
  • laundry and ironing
  • reading
  • school preparation (in addition to planning)
  • errands
  • grocery shopping
  • bill paying/emails/computer work/etc.
  • doing something fun with the kids
  • doing something fun with Jimmy

I find that if I concentrate on one area, the other areas fall apart.  For instance, if I spend the morning working on school stuff, then I fall behind on the laundry.  If I spend 3-4 hours cleaning the house, I never get to reading or the yard work, and then it's time for supper!

I know in my head what to do.  Prioritize.  Make a list.  Work on lots of different things for short periods of time.  Figure out a weekly cleaning/shopping/computer work schedule, and then follow it. 
But I find that lately I can't even formulate a plan!  My brain is tired.

I have a short vacation with Jimmy coming up soon. We are going on a little getaway to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. I hope during that time I can relax, regroup, and be ready to tackle life when I get home. I have several "just for fun" books that I'm taking with me.

Please feel free to share any time management tips or words of wisdom.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Running and CrossFit

So I have been going to CrossFit since February, and I have also slowly increased my weekly running mileage. It has been challenging!  From February until the first of June, I could only attend CrossFit classes twice a week, on Mondays and Fridays. Since we are taking a break from homeschooling for the summer, when I have been in town, I have gone to CrossFit three days a week. That has made a difference!  I am getting stronger, but I am also more tired, especially on days like today when I do a long run in the morning and then go to CrossFit in the afternoon.  But, overall, I am pleased with my exercise routine.

But in all honesty, I am sore almost every. single. day. Sore in areas where I did not even know I had muscles!

The seven of us in our CrossFit class (6 students and our dear instructor) have an ongoing group message text/chat, and most of the dialogue is about how sore we are or what hurts or how we want to skip the workout that day because we looked online at what we were going to be doing--and we were dreading that particular activity. (For the record, we shame/encourage the complaining member into attending anyway!) The camaraderie and friendships built and maintained while we are sweating together (and there is a copious amount of sweat!) is worth all the discomfort.  My CrossFit ladies are my support group! (Lynn, Leanna, Leigh, Tracy, MC, and Season). Also Olivia is joining us for the summer, so she gets to have fun too!

Several people cautioned me about getting injured while doing CrossFit.  Our coach (MC) is very conscientious of the fact that I am weak (and not a spring chicken!), and she has been very thorough when instructing us the proper techniques. She also is kind and very encouraging!  She has her work cut out for her with six homeschooling mamas who are not natural athletes. (Well, some of my classmates are very strong and have progressed quickly!) At the end of each workout, after I pick myself up off the floor, I am so glad that I came!

Leanna and I are currently training for the Tupelo 13.1 Miler on September 4. We do have a time goal--we must be through by 7:25 so have time to get home, shower, and be at our church service which begins at 9:30.  Fortunately, the race begins at 5:00AM, so unless something really terrible happens, we should finish in time.  I have run this race several times before, and I have always made my time goal.

Running and doing CrossFit at the same time has been hard, but since I am not training for a marathon, it is certainly doable.  And when I begin my homeschool again in August, I will cut my CrossFit workouts back to twice a week.  Leanna, Lynn, and I are also running the St. Jude Half Marathon in December, so we will continue that training throughout the fall.

Our CrossFit class just ordered the shirts in the picture above...but in pink.  It will bring us such joy to all wear them on the same day to class and take a picture!

Keeping fitness fun.  That's the key to doing it.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Planning and Canning

Well. Summer is in full swing around here.  For me, summer means planning for the upcoming school year and also tackling projects that I cannot do during the regular school year--things like canning, cleaning out closets and drawers, and deep cleaning. All of these activities actually bring me great joy.

We didn't plant a garden this year.  After last year's traumatic experience with the deer eating my entire garden, I just needed a break from the commitment and work of having a garden.   However, I am still canning, but instead of fresh produce, I am canning jars and jars of dried beans.  I ordered 100 pounds of dried beans from Azure earlier this month.  I also had lots of bean from my order last summer....so I am going to can until I run out of jars.  I actually started today.  My canner holds 19 pints at a time, so today I plan to can two batches.  I am not sure how many jars I have, but I'm guessing I have at least 100.

As far as school planning goes, I have planned 10 weeks of one subject.  Lynn, Leanna, and I are going to do a "co-op". We are all studying American government and the presidents, and we have planned three group meetings.  During these meetings the children will give brief oral presentations about an assigned subject or president. We also planned various other learning activities and games to review what we covered at home.  Leah and Sam have never done a co op like this, and I anticipate they will love it!  When Olivia, Julie, and Clay were younger I participated in co ops similar to this for many years.  They have fond memories this, and I hope that Leah and Sam will as well.

That leaves me lots more planning to do!  I now have to condense Core F of Sonlight to roughly 24 weeks.  (Since we are spending 10 weeks on the presidents and government.)  I also have to make decisions regarding which curriculum to use for Clay's economics and American Government courses.  I am considering using something different from what I used for Olivia and Julie.  Then I have to make my shopping list for things such as math, worldly wise, daily grams, Apologia elementary science, etc.  I hope to place my order for school books and materials next week.

The timer beeped (the beans are ready to process), so I better get back to the stove!