Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wednesday Clean-Up

I noticed that I messed up yesterday's title! Oh well!!!!!

Last night Bear didn't go to sleep until almost midnight. That makes a very late night for this momma! So we didn't wake up until 8 a.m. We are becoming very late risers! We had ham and eggs for breakfast, started laundry and got to work cleaning off the desk. It has rained here for almost 24 hours now so the laundry went into the dryer. Momma finished cleaning the desk, straightened the boys bookshelf and made frozen pizza for lunch. I am tossing around storage solutions in my head for the kitchen. More about that tomorrow!
I finished cleaning off my bookshelf while baby napped and the older boys helped me move furniture and vaccum after he woke up. So now the living room is clean! One more room down.....the last 3 to go are the hard ones! I have folded and put away 3 loads of laundry (I mean that I folded and put away my, dh's and Bear's laundry. The older boys put their own away). The diapers are in the dryer. I still need to quick-pick-up the kitchen from the lunch mess and write a review for TEACH magazine. Then I am done for the day! YooHoo!!!!

Below I posted an article from my friend Cindy Rushton. She is getting ready to kick off her Back to School Blast. Be sure to check that out - you will love all the great resources that she has available.

Be sure to check back tomorrow and see how far I have gotten cleaning the last 3 rooms! These are the rooms that need the most work :)

Another Article

Psst! A Secret to Scheduling Success!
by Cindy Rushton

Want to know one of my biggest secrets to homeschooling the easy way? Want to know one of my biggest secrets to scheduling success? This one secret can make your daily schedule finally fit. It can end your scheduling frustrations forever.
I am not a "schedule by the minute" type of person. (GRIN) I fail with schedules like that. They don't meet my needs. My life includes too many areas that have different needs daily. Timed schedules just do not work for me.
So, what has worked for me? Setting up a framework to my day. This is one incredibly powerful tip. It can make a HUGE difference in your day as well. It just might be the secret that has alluded you through the years.
Wondering what I mean by a "framework" for your day? By framework, I mean a general flow to each day that includes all of the areas of my life that I juggle. But, how do I do that? Here are some quick tips:

1. Decide what should be included in your daily schedule. Look at what you are all about. Look at your goals, activities, values, priorities. Look at your husband's schedule--wrap everything around him. Look at what you need to include in your day to get everything done--quiet times, lessons, homemaking, read alouds, work, etc. This is important. Otherwise, you will include things in your schedule that may not be the very best choices. big may never get around to the things that matter the most. Decide what really needs to be a part of each and every day for your day to be successful.

2. Decide the best time for the tasks you need to complete each day. This will help you get a good flow to your day. For me, quiet times are just best at the beginning of the day. Chores are great right after them--I need them completed so my brain can focus on the table time. Our business work and errands need to be done in the early afternoon. Read alouds are best before bedtime. You get the picture. When I tried to read aloud over lunch, we had so many distractions that we could never fit it in. Trying to work the business in the morning would never work...and of course, we couldn't take care of business errands at night. See how important it is to really look at the best time to get tasks done. Look at the best time for all of the tasks that need to be done. Look at the best flow to get everything done easily each day. You may not get this right at the beginning, but you will get closer and closer each day. You will love it!

3. Balance your day. Don't let any one area of your life get out of balance. Everything that we do in our day has a tendency to grow into a big time thief--homeschooling, homemaking, home business. Those important aspects of our life can easily grow out of their boundaries. While I love each of them, they can get rather exhausting if we don't keep them in balance with the other things that we have to do. The best way for me to stay balanced is to be reasonable about what I expect for each day, keep things simplified and easy, and keep everything inside of its time of the day. I don't mind those days that we want to dig deeper in a topic that we are studying. I also don't mind those days that we tackle a messy room. I don't even mind those days that we have a special business project that needs more time. But, if those areas were demanding extra time every day, it would be easy to get burned-out, frustrated and battle with our time each day. Want to make it work? Find a balance for your day.

4. Set up routines. Talk about a HUGE help for me. Without routines, things can get so frustrating every day--there are constant decisions, there is more strife in the family, there is no consistency. Routines help us to make things go faster, without the strife and struggle of figuring things out DAILY. Routines reduce the stress of making decisions daily. Routines help our children to know what to expect so they can move through all of the things that they need to do each day. Routines are crucial. They assure a smooth ride. They keep us on track. They keep us out of the ruts. They take us in the direction that we want to go. One of the toughest things I ever did was develop routines in my home. However, one of the most rewarding things that I ever did was develop routines in my home. When I got very, very sick, everything kept going. During those times that I have been stretched, things kept on going. All because of routines. Set up routines. Then, your children will know what to expect. They will learn what is next and next and next. The decisions will be made for you. They will be able to "just do it" with or without you. Set up routines for your family. Develop one set of routines at a time--look for the time of day that things go haywire. If it is morning, for example, look at all that needs to be done. Brainstorm. Make a to-do list for that routine. Write it out. Work it as a checklist until it becomes a habit. If you see other things that need to be added into that set of routines, add them. Tweak it until it is smooth. Then, move to the next troublespot. Do this for all of the times of your day. Watch to see how much it helps!

5. Prune anything that is not necessary. Truth is, we cannot do everything. What we do in our day keeps us from doing other things. It zaps our time, energy, strength. We need to be picky about what we add to our day. Every single thing that we do costs us something. We need to constantly prune those things that are not necessary. Prune anything that hinders, distracts. Be honest. Be ruthless. Prune. Even the good things! Go for the best!

6. Take the squeeze out of your schedule. Watch out for the squeeze in your schedule. Don't fill every minute of your day with something to do. Why? Because there are always going to be crisis situations, interruptions, melt-downs, delays. If we have our schedule maxed out, we will constantly be overwhelmed, overworked, and squeezed. Find ways to take the squeeze out of your daily schedule--cut out extra running, watch out for time thieves, prioritize your daily to-do's (and eliminate any that make the day too tight), cut out extras that are unnecessary, keep the day simple and easy. Keep a relaxed atmosphere. Constantly, take the squeeze out of your daily schedule.

7. Stay flexible! Stay adaptable! Actually, one of the reasons that we really want to develop a framework to our day is so we have more flexibility, so we have more "space" in our day to be adaptable. We want to be able to seize opportunities that come our way. We want to be able to slow down and enjoy our children. We don't want to miss teachable moments. These days just go by too fast. We want to enjoy every second. We want to make sweet, sweet memories. This requires that we stay flexible and adaptable. So, take the time to develop your own framework to your day. Do the tough work. Get your plans together. Work on these suggestions. Then, stay flexible. Stay adaptable. Grasp on to all that God has in store for you!
About Cindy Rushton…
Cindy Rushton is the hostess of the Back to School Blast, her annual back to school fling for homeschool mothers around the world. She is recording Preview Chats for the Back to School Blast RIGHT NOW! Join her wonderful guests FREE for the next weeks as they count down to the Back to School Blast (August 8-9--BUT! NEVER ENDING because it is an ONLINE seminar!). Get your ticket NOW and receive her awesome A Quick Start for Notebooking Mini-Set FREE today! Check out all of the details here:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Current Reading

If you are intested, here is a list of what I am currently reading:

A Mom After God's Own Heart by Elizabeth George
Furry Tails: The Adventures of Cinnamon Persimmon by Tristan Perry, PhD. (just finished)
Sounding Forth the Trumpet: God's Plan for America in Peril 1837-1860 by Peter Marshall and David Manuel
Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola
KJV Bible - I am somewhere in Joshua

Clean-up Tuesday

Baby Bear and I got a late start this morning. When the alarm went off at 6 a.m. I just turned it off, rolled over and went back to sleep. We got up at 7:30 :)

So we didn't walk. But that's ok. We had ham and eggs for breakfast then picked up around the house and started laundry. Bear cried in his playpen while I hung out the first load. I got the older boys up at 9. They watched Bear while I hung out the 2nd load and then we got started cleaning their rooms. The playroom was first and didn't take very long. The bedroom, on the other hand, was a disaster! I hadn't cleaned these rooms for several month, relying instead on the boys to pick them up. While they may have been presentable on the surface, they were in terrible condition underneath. When I instructed Lee to take everything out from under the bed, Greg to take everything out of the (small) closed and I took everything off the entertainment center I about had a heart attack. The mountain of stuff on the floor filled the whole room and was at least 12 inches deep throughout. Oh my! I assured the boys that it wouldn't take very long at all to clean, all the while thinking to myself that we might never reach the end of it. We cleaned for about an hour before I stopped to fix lunch, leaving them to finish sorting toys. It took about an hour after lunch to finish cleaning that room and to vaccum both rooms and hallway. But they are done! We celebrated with watermelon after lunch and the boys were allowed to go to Grandma's house for a visit after completing a few other small chores.

I finished up the day by writing a letter, working up a spreadsheet for a project of dh's, folding and putting away laundry, and sorting and filing coupons. The work is done, baby is sleeping and I am enjoying a nighttime summer storm. I am thankful for the rain that will help the garden grow!!!! We think that the potatoes should be ready to dig next week :)

Tomorrow's agenda includes cleaning the rest of the living room, bookshelves and my desk. That will probably take all day, but if it doesn't then I am going to start MAJOR decluttering in the kitchen. Talk tomorrow!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Monday Clean-Up

Dh and I had a disagreement last night. As expected, that caused my day to begin in a less-than-ideal way. However, I spent considerable time seeking God today and have peace that the conflict will be quickly resolved.

Anyway, yesterday (Sunday) afternoon I spent a couple of hours sorting and organizing the clothes in my closet and dresser. I have 4 garbage bags that we are taking to charity today. I hope that the clothes that I no longer want or need will be a blessing to someone else.

Today, Little Bear and I walked 2 miles. Upon returning home I fixed egg burittos for us for breakfast and started laundry. After breakfast I hung out that load, started another (while Bear played in his playpen). Then I put bear down for his morning nap.

For my morning project I cleaned the back part of our living room. Our living room is very large 18x24ft. We have a sectional sofa that "divides" the room into the front 2/3 and the back 1/3. In the back 1/3 we have my desk, the boys bookshelf, Bears plastic dresser and changing table, 2 little school desks that we use to hold/use art supplies and most of the school books in rubbermaid totes or on a plastic bookshelf. You can imagine how cluttered this area becomes! I organized the art supplies into containers so that they would be easier to use (and move about the house if necessary). Then I organized the changing table and Bear's plastic dresser. I also "vaccum bagged" Bear's outgrown clothing and sent them to the garage. I didn't get to my desk, but that is almost a day's project all by itself! I rounded out my morning chores by hanging out the 2nd load of laundry. I love sun-dried laundry!!!!!

For lunch we had cube steak, fried zucchini and french fries. I had salmon patties, sliced cucumbers and fried zucchini. After lunch, I went out back, alone and spent some time talking to God. I returned to the house with some of the dried laundry feeling refreshed and renewed! Dh had blessed me by putting Bear down for his afternoon nap and then left for work. I spent the rest of the afternoon decluttering/cleaning my bedroom and folding laundry. The boys and I just ate a snack and then we are off to town to run errands and attend taekwondo classes.

Tomorrow we are tackling the boys bedroom and playroom. I imagine that will take all day! I will definately report back how that goes.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Saturday Clean-Up

I have been convicted of my laziness. I am lazy. There is no reason to sugar coat it. It is the truth. God is truly working on me. So, today I am cleaning. It is very frustrating to me that it seems like every time I clean, the house gets messed up in a different part before I am finished in the part I am working in. The truth of the matter lies in the fact that I spend one day a week cleaning (usually just one room - not the whole house) and then I grouch about how quickly everything is going to pot the other 6 days. My whole outlook on life has been frustrated, grouchy and overwhelmed lately. This is not how God would have us to live.
I made a list a couple of days ago of all the rooms in the house and the best order in which to clean them for a (between-spring-and-fall) cleaning :) Today I started in the boys bathroom. I gave it a good wipe down and cleaned out their cabinet, swept and hand mopped their floor. Then I moved into our bathroom. I wiped it down, cleaned the tub and shower, all the cabinets (but not the drawers) and countertops, swept and hand mopped the floor.
Those are my "deep cleaning" chores for today. Done daily chores include laundry, leftovers for lunch, quick kitchen cleanup, and put away groceries from yesterday. I still need to finish folding laundry, make a dessert for a cook-out tonight, choose songs for services tomorrow and file Walgreens rebate paperwork for July. As long as I am diligent, I know that I can get all that done!

After church services tomorrow I think that I am going to try to sort through my clothes (closet and dresser). That way when we go to town on Monday the bags for the resale shop will be ready. I also need to pick up some rubbermaid type boxes before I clean the boys' rooms.

I purpose to maintain the rooms that I clean before I start any new projects and daily chores will still need to be done. So I figure that it will take a week (or more) to get the whole house done. School starts back up here on next Monday so if the cleaning isn't done by then I will finish up on Saturdays until done.

I am thankful that although painful, God has shown me this sin area in my life and is willing to give me a second chance. God is GOOD!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

An Article for You

Easy Record-Keeping for the Reluctant Homeschool Mom!
By Cindy Rushton

Record-keeping! Does your hair stand up when you think of record-keeping? Do you begin to grind your teeth? Did you feel like skipping this article just because it seems impossible for “EASY” and “Record-keeping” to ever go together??
Relax. I know that there is not a “one size fits all.” I know that in spite of how hard we may search, there is not a perfect system for every mom! That is OK! My prayer is that if you are in need of some ideas to make a couple areas a little easier or if you have no idea of where to begin, that you will find a few ideas as you come home with us to see how simple record-keeping CAN be. Ready for some quick tips??? Here we go…

--> Find what is mandatory. Every state and school district has differing requirements. Find other homeschool families in your area and see how each of them manages their homeschool records. Find the easiest way possible to meet the requirements. Make it as DOABLE as possible!

--> Choose what works for YOU. Every mom has her favorite method that works JUST for them whether a planner with reproducible pages… a ready to use planner… a simple spiral notebook… binders… a filing cabinet… computer… etc, etc, etc! Before you consider anything else, look at who you are. What makes you feel more comfortable? What helps you to feel more accomplishment? Whether formal or informal… detailed or not even written down… YOUR way is the best way! Decide what works best for you!

--> Document daily! Don’t let it build up. Jot it down throughout the day. When my children were little, I kept one journal for everything. I kept it out on my desk so I could just jot down what we were doing as we did it. It was amazing how much easier that was than even waiting till the end of the day. As they got older, I transferred this process to them. I had always made it easy. So, transferring it to them did not overwhelm them. I began this process by letting them keep up with their reading log. The rest was easy after that. They now keep their records just like I used to. At the end of the month and again at the end of the semester I go through making sure that everything is on target and also look to see how well they are keeping up with my overall schedule. Without good records, this would be impossible.

--> Keep all of their work in Notebooks. We keep ALL of our written work in a binder of some sort. Then, we take it further… we keep ANYTHING that can be pressed in binders. Anything left?? Yes! Then, we take pictures and keep THEM in the binders! (Hehe!) ANYTHING and EVERYTHING that can be studied can also be kept in Notebooks in some way. We keep anything that would expand a study and build a great collection of information on topics we study… great quotes, definitions about a subject being studied, diagrams, character sketches, pictures, coloring sheets, art prints, poems, Bible verses, narrations, Bible word studies, on and on! Our main reason for Notebooking in this way is that if our children are going to spend their time DOING something, it ought to be worthwhile enough for us to KEEP IT. This teaches them to value their work, do a great job on all they do, and that ALL areas of life are truly educational.

--> Scrapbook events, activities, fun studies, and projects! Scrapbooks/Yearbooks for what are REALLY doing throughout our school year is not only fun, but it helps to preserve the memories of ALL that we are doing in our family. There are just some things that our children are learning that are impossible to document without scrapbooking! Get out of the old “school” box and really document your family’s education. You won’t be sorry!

--> Use planning sheets designed JUST for homeschooling. Don’t let commercial record-keepers keep you from homeschooling with a lifestyle of learning! Look for printable pages that are designed just for the homeschool mom. You can find great options everywhere!

--> Buy resources that are designed just for you. We have an entire line of resources that we now have available through our bookstore. Check out our Make Your Own Brain-in-a-Binder Printables. It is designed specifically for the homeschool mom who wants pages designed for every area that must be balanced in the busy homeschool family. Also, check out other great resources by homeschool writers and even pages that are included in many homeschool books (we always try to include pages that we use in our books). Now, you may be like me. You may prefer to make your own planning pages. That is perfectly fine! You can tailor your pages to fit exactly with your family needs. Just be sure to use what works for you!

--> At the end of the school year, file all records together. This may seem to be a mute point, however this will save your brain! At the end of our school year, I gather everything together and add them into one big binder. I date the binder and store it away for my children’s permanent file. Be sure to pull all of your records together into a set and safe place. When you get discouraged along the way, just look back and see how far you have come—it will be a HUGE blessing!

Ok...So, Are You Ready?
So, what about you? Still scared about Record-keeping? Why not think through YOUR OWN way? Try your spin. Use what is easy, simple, and will give you more time with your little ones while helping to keep things in place for you. Most of all, find a way that can capture all of these precious memories of these days for you so you will have them to look back upon tomorrow! Have fun! EVEN with Record-keeping!
Need MORE Help? Check out Cindy's New Organized Mom Super Set! It is full of great ebooks and audios that will help take you by the hand and plan the best homeschool year ever! Plus! When you purchase your set you get MORE help with record-keeping, organization, and setting up your home to learn--you also get access to Cindy's Organization 911 Seminar Set and her newest Seminar Set, Let's Get Organized for the New School Year.
Yep! Both! Complimentary! Get your set here:

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July update

I seem to be so very bad about updating lately. I do apologize. The baby is taking up some of my time, plus the garden, school preps, housework.....Oh My! I am hoping to get into the swing of things soon :)

I hope to shortly share our curriculum choices for the year and some review stuff that I have been working on. Also, this week is the last week to sign up for the Ultimate Homeschool Expo at the discounted rate! Those speakers are such a blessing to me as I walk in the morning.

Our garden is finally growing! So many of our neighbors have been harvesting and we have been jealous, but yesterday I picked 4 green beans and we have little tiny cucumbers, zucchini and spaghetti squash on the vines. We also have several green tomatoes! And a little tiny pepper I think. I ordered some seed for fall planting. I hope it gets here in time!

I have been decluttering school stuff. I sold some stuff on ebay, but ended up not making hardly anything after shipping. I think that shipping rates have went up recently. I know everything else has. I ordered flours, popcorn, honey, and oatmeal from our local food co-op and was surprised at how much the prices had increased. I am going to have to be more creative with our food budget I think. I am also trying to store some food for emergencies. I have been very blessed by a website HERE with a bunch of ladies (and some gentleman) that are helping me in my long term preparations. No matter what the future holds for each of us, it doesn't hurt to be ready for it!

Little Bear is almost 9 months old! I can't hardly believe it! He has started to take a few steps alone at a time.....6 is the most so far. We have some little kitties as well and they all entertain each other with chasing and stuff. The little kitties aren't smart enough to stay away from the baby though and he tries to squeeze the stuffing out of them.....or drops them when he is done......grabs them by the tail, etc. I spent an hour yesterday saying "be nice to the kitty, love the kitty, don't throw the kitty, don't drop the kitty, don't strangle the kitty, love the kitty". I was beginning to sound like a broken record! Luckily enough the older boys came home from grandmas and helped and Little Bear had to go to bed. Right now Bear and the grey kitty (with no name - we are hoping to find it a good home) are sleeping on the couch. Sleeping they seem to get along pretty well..........with very little stress for momma!

Well, I need to finish my chores and get lunch started before Bear wakes. I am going to be trying a sourdough english muffin recipe tomorrow. I will let you know how that goes!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Let's Get Organized for a New School Year!

Cindy Rushton is hosting a wonderful seminar this weekend; Let's Get Organized for a New School Year! I know that I need all the help that I can get! If you want to join us visit HERE for a ticket. Happy planning!

Later today or tomorrow I will post about our curriculum choices for the year. We have a lot of fantastic stuff planned!