Friday, August 1, 2014

My Homeschool Mother's Journal - August 1

Weekly Wrap-Up

In my life this week…I am not doing very good on the self-nurturing activities I'm supposed to be doing and I am feeling the result. It's just little things like reading or 15 minutes of personal God time [as opposed to with the girls]. It sounds silly when I type it, but it's just been so hard to fit that into my day. Not sure how to do it better, but I must somehow. I am very happy we aren't starting school until October 1 because I have a couple months still to get into the groove of taking better care of me before my schedule gets busy.

In our homeschool this week…keeping it real: we haven't done a great job of getting our daily God time and math practice in. Math has been 2-3 times/week and God time is less. Not ok, but that's what's happening. We also managed to get letters in the mail to our new pen pals in South Carolina.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…craft a homeschool mission statement. Wise homeschoolers all over the internet advise writing down why you are homeschooling to help get you through those rough days. This sounds great but how to get started? With Marianne Sunderland's Why Homeschool? How to Make a Homeschool Mission Statement. I really like her point that having a mission statement helps you decide what activities to include and which good opportunities to decline. That's the biggest reason I am recrafting our mission statement this summer. ODD has so many activities she wants to do and I need to make sure they line up with our reasons for homeschooling or I will be a crazy person.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…last Sunday we celebrated summer birthdays with my side of the family. Today YDD and I met some homeschool friends at a local park. Those are the only fun outings we've had.

Things I’m working on…re-arranging.We bought a new dresser for me and were given a gorgeous buffet. This has resulted in so much storage. We live in a house with one closet on the main floor and it's the one in my bedroom. Upstairs isn't much better: there are 2 closets one is being used as a bedroom and one is used for lots of stuff. I now have a place to neatly stack towels. I now have a place for paper towels that I can reach. I now have 4 empty cubbies that I am working on using. I am so excited because we've moved all my kitchen stuff that I had been storing in the garage into the house. Our garage is a dirty place and I've only stored kitchen stuff out there because there was no other option. We're also working on getting the girls' room re-arrange done. Right now we're working on the spaces that were their bedrooms and will be their private spaces. I am stunned at how much garbage can fit into a 5x10 foot space. I am not taking pictures because I do NOT want to remember this part.

My favorite things this week . . . real cream in my coffee. I usually use half & half, but I have cream in the house for making a treacle tart so I decided to have some in my coffee. SO GOOD. I forget how much I love it until I have it again.

My kids' favorite things this week . . . has not been cleaning out the garage or their rooms or moving rocks, but all of that makes Mom happy.

I’m cooking…not as much as I'd like. I'm very much looking forward to the cooking my new fridge and freezer will enable.

I’m thankful … YDD has been able to go off her tummy medicine cold turkey with no problems. She started it back in January because she was so anxious, but counseling has helped her process a lot of heart transplant baggage and now she's off the medication. I am so thrilled and so thankful to have her in this new place.

I’m praying for…Jennifer Huston and her family & friends. If you don't know, she is a mom of 2 boys who went out to do errands last Thursday [7/24/2014] and disappeared. She is the neighbor of a lady I went to church with and that same church has been helping a lot with the search & prayer efforts. It's hit home with a lot of my friends from that church. Police are stumped, so we continue to pray and do what we can to get the word out.

I rewarded my kids this week by… baking a cake. ODD wasn't feeling great and wanted first a cinnamon roll and then a bagel. I told her I didn't want to go any where, but that I would bake. She picked cake, so we had one just because.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thankful Thursday - July 31

thankful thursday
Today I am thankful a couple things are done: I am done with a test that required an armband and an IV [I HATE when I have to have those] and I am done getting a crown on. It is good to have those things behind me.

I am also very thankful for a huge buffet my husband's cousin gave us. I am using it for kitchen stuff and gaining enough space in my kitchen to bring in all my kitchen stuff from our garage. SO COOL to have my canning stuff in the house where it can stay clean. I am thankful for the used fridge and freezer that I bought today. We have been struggling since our spare fridge died; any leftovers I want DH to eat have to be frozen because he's so sensitive post-transplant. I am thrilled to have space to store stock and bread and frozen fruit and and and. I am thankful I will not have to unload half my freezer to get to what I need. I am thankful for the energy to do all this re-arranging today. I am thankful our hand-me-downs are such a blessing to a family of 5 girls; it is so awesome to be able to bless another family. I am thankful for the abundance of clothes my girls have gotten from other families. I am thankful that our dresser shuffle has resulted in better toy cubbies for YDD and cubbies to store stuff under my bed. I didn't realize the replacing my dresser would have such a huge impact.

Friday, July 25, 2014

My Homeschool Mother's Journal - July 25

Weekly Wrap-Up

In my life this week…I saw the specialist that my primary care doctor wanted me to see. I like her; she saw my husband when he was so sick before we knew he needed a heart transplant. She even remembered him and was happy to hear he's doing well. She wants to do some testing on me. *sigh* This was the reason I didn't want to see her because I don't want to do any testing. But it is necessary and it's not like I am feeling fabulous so on we go.

In our homeschool this week…we got the results for the girls testing already which was very cool. Not surprising, each girl's reading score was spectacular  and the other scores were all very good. I finally have concrete proof to show ODD that her math is AT GRADE LEVEL; her brain has to work harder at math than any language art so she keeps thinking she's "not good at math" [her words]. I respect her brain has to work harder at it, but at grade level is PERFECT. I was a bit concerned that YDD would be so anxious that her tests scores would not be an accurate snapshot, but that was not at all the case. It was very lovely, reassuring, and soothing for me to see this formal assessment because it showed me what I know about their learning. No surprises which means I have an accurate view of their skills even though we don't test.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…if it ain't broke, don't fix it. I was wondering if the girls needed to do more than the Sumdog math practice they have been doing this summer. Then I reminded myself of their test scores. We are doing just fine as is and we don't need to up or tweak anything. So we're going to continue to coast through our summer just doing 15 minutes of math practice.

This week's art . . . ODD has been working on a commission for my Dad and it's been a bit more challenging than we expected. I can't share her results yet, but she's put time in on that project this week.

What we are reading . . . I've not been reading much at all; it's been difficult to take time to read and that's been uncomfortable for me. ODD has been reading mainly Avengers fanfiction online lately.
1 - Believing God by Beth Moore I am just a few chapters into this, but it is good so far. 2 - Truefaced by Thrall, McNicol and Lynch Also a short way into it, but it's not grabbing me like the Beth Moore. 3 -How to Lose a Duke in Ten Days by Laura Lee Guhrke She is one of my favorite new authors. That is new to me. 4 - The Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling by Debra Bell I did not realize this was published by Apologia, and I am really enjoying it so far.
Some of YDD's recent reading. She's hard to keep up with. 1 - The Rotten Romans by Terry Deary I didn't realize these were connected to the Horrible Science series she's been reading and she loves both. 2 - The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter She gave this 4/5 stars but said it's a little dark for her tastes. 3 - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis She gave this 15 stars and finished it in a few hours. 4 - The Land of Stories: The Enchantress Returns by Chris Colfer This is book 2 in the series and she's just started it, but liking it so far.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing… COUSINS!! We love having the cousins come spend the night with us.
1 - My niece, L, spent HOURS on the swing. 2 - Nephew, O, loved YDD's shovel and dug all over under the trees. 3 & 4 - Nephew, Z, talked both DH and ODD into playing No Stress Chess with him. We sent it home with him for the summer.
Usually the pairing of cousins is ODD & L and YDD & Z. This weekend they changed it all up. 1 - ODD and Z working on art. 2 - O lounging on YDD's enormous bear. 3 - Z and YDD playing iPad games. 4 - L snugging the huge bear, too. 
1 - Just before bedtime. Z, L, O and YDD were all showered & jammied, and watching ODD play Kingdom Hearts on the PS2. 2 - O eating pancakes. 3 - O and L helped me makes pancakes. 4 - O, DH and DS eating. It was lunch for O and breakfast for the other two who slept later.
1 - Z and ODD; she wasn't sure she could carry him because he's getting so big. 2 - O had to get in on the action, too. 3 - Z on the swing whenever he could pry his sister off! 4 - O & L digging.
1 - Another favorite activity with cousins is playing with Nano Bugs. 2 - Z & YDD playing Little Big Planet 2. She found a user created Disneyland level. This screen shot is from the Haunted Mansion. 3 - We got 3 extra girls for a few hours. 4 - Showing everyone the Disneyland level when my brother & his wife came for dinner.
Things I’m working on… getting my house ready to put in a new wall. We've gotten rid of 2 of our 3 dining room tables and even some books! Took a load to our favorite thrift store last night and that was a beautiful thing.
This is my new "dresser". It is 2 units we got from Costco and it gives me so much more storage for the same foot print in my room. FYI, DH says this is sturdier built than the Ikea set. For us, getting it at Costco also means we get 2% back on it next year.
We gave my old dresser to ODD and it's in the same spot as her old bed used to be. Slowly we're getting the girls' space changed. The end result has them sharing a room, but gives each girl a separate space to get away. Right now, it's all a mess but I'll share pictures as we get sections done.

I’m thankful for…the return of sunny weather! I am thankful for all the homeschool resources available. I am thankful for the space gained in my downstairs. I am thankful for medical insurance. [I would sure hate to be paying full price!] I am thankful for all the books we have access to through the library. [Again I would hate to have to buy all the books we read.] I am thankful we have 67 days until our new school year starts because I feel like I am just getting in the groove of summer break.

I’m praying for… peace for the coming testing. I am not good with medical tests because I spent from age 16-21 undergoing test after test. Thankfully I will be sedated for the test next week, but knowing it's looming is not very easy.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thankful Thursday - July 24

thankful thursday
I am thankful my chest freezer did not fully defrost before we discovered the outlet does not have electricity. I am thankful I can easily move the chest freezer. I am thankful it's plugged in and running just fine now. I am thankful for our jetted bathtub. I am thankful for my truck. I am thankful for the changes we are making in our living space. I am thankful we have a house to change. I am thankful for the handful of berries harvested today. I am thankful for baskets of sorted, clean laundry. I am thankful ODD now has a dresser for her clothes. I am thankful for my new "dresser" and all the storage space it involves. I am thankful my husband is able to help as my body acts up.

Friday, July 18, 2014

My Homeschool Mother's Journal - July 18

Weekly Wrap-Up

In my life this week…I got my truck fixed! Turns out my radiator had a hole in it which was not conducive to keeping fluid in the engine. Thankfully our mechanic came and fixed it, and made me very happy to have wheels once again. I also got a temporary crown put in; not my favorite thing in the world, but it was a way better experience this time around for which I am thankful. It's been a bit of an up and down week.

In our homeschool this week… the girls got their first state testing done and out of the way last Saturday. YDD did really well not being overtly stressed until we got there. Once in the classroom, she really started to get wound. A wonderful father of one of the other testers asked her if she wanted to play with a new app on his iPad. He walked her through taking the picture and playing with the app which gave me time to find her a book to read. I am so thankful for his help, and here's her finished product:
YDD's iPad creation of her hedgehog, Rassafrassa
I left the testing because I thought it would help YDD settle; the dad stayed and took this picture during the break. He thought it was pretty funny that each kid picked up a book immediately.
Both girls said their test was easy and the whole thing went smoothly. We should get the scores in a few weeks.

Things I’m working on… crunching numbers and planning our next school year. I had wanted to take the summer off from our math curriculum, so I needed to check if that would work. First step in my process is set our start and end dates [which don't change]; we start October 1 and end June 30. Next I count available school days; this year I counted M-F subtracting out Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks. This left me with 172 days; subtract 5 days for Spring break; and then subtract 10% of the days for miscellaneous sick etc. That left us with 150 school days for our coming year. This means we can take the break I wanted from math books because ODD has 195 lessons of middle school math and 2 years of middle school left. Once I worked math out, I thought I might as well look at history. We're doing Story of the World, volume 3 this year, and it has 79 sections which means we will need to do 2-3 sections/week. I am a little bummed we can't do a chapter/week, but not enough to add 3 months to our school year.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share… this week I shared how I bought much of our curriculum for next year with Swagbucks and bing.

This week's art . . . I found these this week, but the girls did them this school year at our local groups lesson on Fauvism.
YDD's project
ODD's project; she mixed watercolor and colored pencil.
Favorite resource this week . . . swagbucks and bing. I know I shared this above, but it's been truly amazing and a great blessing for my family. Maybe it could be for yours, too.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…ODD rode her bike to art class and almost got hit on her way home, so no more riding her bike around town at rush hour. And many thanks to God for keeping her safe. She made it to voice lessons and we both did Krav again this week.

My favorite things this week . . . having the testing go smoothly for both girls.

My kids' favorite thing this week . . . was air conditioning.

I’m cooking… Sunday the temperatures were cool and a little rainy so I decided to get some kitchen work done before it got really hot. I started a massive pot of stock, cooked meat for dinner, baked bread, cooked a batch of "refried" beans, baked breakfast cake, made mountain bars, did tons of dishes and dealt with laundry [which is in my kitchen]. By the end of the day I was hot and tired, but it was satisfying to get so much stuff done.

I’m thankful for… living close enough to family that we can see them on weekends. I am thankful for a good time picking berries with our church people this morning. I am thankful for a good time at the park with our homeschool group this morning. I am thankful most of my mornings are not that busy. I am thankful my inlaws are doing the cooking for dinner tonight. I am thankful we're on summer break for school and that we won't be starting back to school until October.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Thankful Thursday - July 17

thankful thursday
The weather has been in the 90s here and I have loved the sunshine. I am, however, extremely thankful for air conditioning in my home. I am thankful my truck is fixed and we had the money to pay for the repair. I am thankful we have a mechanic we trust. I am thankful we had the money to pay for my crown and I am thankful I do not appear to need a root canal. I am thankful my husband's anti-rejection med keeps getting lowered. I am thankful the girls' state testing went smoothly. I am thankful for the drive time to/from our Krav Maga class because it's built-in one-on-one time with my almost teen daughter. I am thankful my kids appreciate living close to family. I am thankful for the chance to earn money from home with no commitments [swagbucks and bing]; it was such a huge blessing to buy curriculum that I didn't pay for out of my husband's paycheck especially when we've got so many other bills to be dealt with. I am thankful we've always been able to pay our medical bills. I am thankful my husband is almost done with his community nursing class. I am thankful he has one more bridge class before he starts work on his master's degree. I am thankful he can get this degree through online classes.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

How I used Swagbucks and Bing to buy curriculum

I opened my Swagbucks account October 24, 2013. I had heard about it for a long time online, but I was distrustful. It just seemed too good to be true. I can earn money at home with no commitment and it's not a scam? I was very cautious. Every day I answered the daily poll and did a few of the 1 or 2 swagbuck activities. It was during our school year, so I didn't spend more than 10-15 minutes on the site and not even every day. Mostly I watched commercials and slowly watched my balance go up. When I hit 450 swagbucks, I was excited because that is the amount needed to purchase a $5 amazon giftcard. Occasionally I was able to answer a survey, but I rarely hit my daily goal of 30 swagbucks. Then I read a blog post about how the NOSO [No Obligation Special Offers] works. It is simple and they really mean no obligation. I click the NOSO link on my swagbucks To Do list, and decline the offers and earn 2 swagbucks in about 1 minute. I have received no junk mail or junk email from any of the swagbucks activities I've completed. There's no punishment for not doing it daily; I do what I can when I can and some times that's not at all.

Several months ago, swagbucks had an offer for bing. I signed up with bing and earned swagbucks. Bing has its own earning system: make 30 searches/day and earn 15 bing points. I was surprised how easy that was to do. Each day has a new background picture with 4 search points embedded in the picture that give more info about the picture. Under that picture there are 16+ headlines I can click that count towards my search total. I very quickly earned my first $5 amazon card.

My routine has evolved to this: each morning I get up and check my email and facebook and my Google calendar. As I am doing that, I do my swagbucks To Do List and click all the bing links. This adds about 10 minutes to my computer time each morning. When I have time, I try to do surveys with swagbucks. I use bing for any searches we need to do for school; I usually get my 15 bing points by midday.  To date, I have earned $25 in amazon cards with bing and $60 in amazon cards with swagbucks. I used that money to buy Story of the World, volume 3 along with the activity guide and the test book, and Jump In writing curriculum and teachers guide. I am stilled amazed that such little effort on my part resulted in needed homeschool resources; what a huge blessing.

My only hitch was with swagbucks and the time needed to get the amazon card. I collected up thousands of swagbucks and then turned them in when I placed my amazon order. It took the 10 business days swagbucks states it will take to get those digital cards. This surprised me because bing got me amazon cards within 24 hours of ordering. So now I don't carry a swagbucks balance and I order my $5 amazon card as soon as I hit 450 swagbucks. No biggie, but I thought I'd share my experience.