Getting It Together

I'm trying!  You guys know I am always trying to get myself organized.  My main goal is to get everything together before we start school and then just maintain.  I've made some good changes and I'm happy with the results.  I thought I'd share some of them with you.  If they can work for me, they can work for you!

1.  Do ONE load of laundry EVERY day.  I'm normally completely overwhelmed by laundry.  I'll wait to do it once a week and then have 6 loads or more to do.  I'll end up with 2 loads sitting in a basket for a week or more digging for clean clothes every day.  I never have it all done and it looms over my head.  Now that I'm doing one load a day, I'm always caught up.  I've also removed all the clothes hampers from the bedrooms.  I have a laundry sorter (3 compartments) in the laundry room.  Now everyone sorts their own laundry by throwing it in the proper laundry basket (whites, darks, colors).  Whichever hamper is the most full gets washed that day.  Brilliant, huh?

2.  Centralize cleaning supplies & frequently used household items.  Part of being disorganized is losing everything.  I'm the queen!  And, having 3 floors in our house, I can never keep track of cleaning supplies, tools, etc.  Did I put it back in the bathroom?  Or, did I leave it under the kitchen sink?  Did I take that carpet cleaner to the basement or to the linen closet in the laundry room?  Where did I use the hammer last (I do this way more frequently than you'd think!)?  So, I took one of the lovely Pinterest ideas to work.  I purchased 2 over the door hanging shoe bags.  I didn't spend a fortune, btw.  I had Kohl's cash, it was on sale, and I had a 30% discount!  Anyhoo, I have  one hanging over the door in the laundry one and one in the closet on the main floor.

3.  Prepare snacks for the week.  How many times in a day do I hear, "I'm hungry.  Can I have a snack?"  Admittedly, when it's time to make a lunch, I'm throwing something together - especially on school mornings for Maddie.  Now that cheerleading is here, we need healthy snacks on hand to take with us.  What I'm doing to get this together takes about 30 minutes of prep time right after grocery shopping.  I go ahead and wash up all the fruit and place in individual Ziploc snack bags that they can grab and go.  Each girl also has their own snack drawer with individual bags of things like Cheezits, Goldfish, etc.  Now when they ask if they can have a snack, they get sent to a particular drawer.  (Some drawers are healthier than others.  There's only one "sweet" drawer, so they only get one from it a day.)

4.  Make a cleaning list & schedule.  I made a simple list of what is to be done daily and weekly.  It's not difficult.  There's one major chore a day (like cleaning out the fridge on trash day, stripping the beds on Friday, cleaning windows & mirrors, etc.).  I alternate Thursdays.  It's my "swing day", so there's a bigger chore that changes each Thursday.  I printed out the list, laminated it, and it hangs in my bathroom to remind me when I get up in the morning what needs to be done.

5.  Make it a family affair.  The girls each have their own list that looks just like mine.  It, too, is laminated and hangs on their bedroom door.  They also have a different chore every day and swing day.  Maddie is proud that she's in charge of making sure all hairbows and headbands make it back to their rightful place.  Audrey enjoys wiping down the bathroom sink & counter every day.

So, there you go!  I know it's simple and you've probably heard them all before.  I hope it encourages you if you're struggling as I have.  It can be done!

Curriculum Choices 2012-2013

Here it is! Our choices for 2nd Grade (feel free to click on pic for link):

Core Curriculum - We're sticking with SONLIGHT.  I adore it.  I'm not going to lie - it can be overwhelming.  There's a lot of information and a ton of reading.  Honestly, I felt really guilty that we didn't finish reading all of our books in the first grade.  But, I finally realize that it is OK.  We have the books and can read them at leisure later!

Science - We're absolutely sticking with APOLOGIA.  I can't say enough about this program!  I love it!   I totally love that they get a full, in depth study of one concentrated area.  We did Astronomy last year and will be doing Botany this year.  My daughter takes this at a local homeschool program once a week and we review it through the week.  I did not get the Journal with it this year since she takes this elsewhere and they give her assignments from it anyway.

Handwriting - We're going to give HANDWRITING WITHOUT TEARS another go.  I really like it.  If it doesn't work with her this year, I'll use it with Maddie when the time comes.  She seemed to catch on well when I was working with Audrey some last year.

Math - This one is a bit complicated and don't freak out when I tell you what we chose.  Let me start by saying that we started first grade last year with Math U See.  We got about 19 lessons in and Audrey was bored.  I switched to Singapore, but I was only using their review books.  She really enjoyed them.  I did some research on several curricula, but decided to stick with the actual SINGAPORE set.  We'll be doing 1B and 2A.  Upon recommendation I also bought a couple of books of LIFE OF FRED as a fun supplement.  They're awesome books!    THEN... my Statistician husband, went to the conference Saturday and met a lovely man named Miles Jones.  He has an Accelerated Math program that we both agreed would be fantastic for Audrey who really is great in math!  The packaging is not as "fancy" as most other curricula, but you can't judge a book by its cover!  In fact, I'm not able to get a pic, but here is the link to Jones Geniuses.


Latin - This is a new one for us.  After recommendations and research, we both feel it is important to start Latin.  It will only help with other areas of learning.  We're starting out simple with SONG SCHOOL LATIN.  I'm excited about learning it with her!

Extra Curricular - Audrey enjoys learning about history and world cultures.  I thought it would be great fun to sign them both up for LITTLE PASSPORTS.   They get a package in the mail each month with info from a different country.  There are activities, a "goody", a sticker for their "passport", and a tag for their "suitcase".  Check out their site for more info!

We are also doing KEEPERS OF HOME through our homeschool group.  I'm looking forward to the monthly meetings and learning some new skills with her.  :)

And, there you have it!  That's the plan!  Keep in mind that we also participate in Awana, Children's Choir, and Competitive Cheerleading.  It's going to be a GREAT year!

Southeast Homeschool Convention Review

I'm refreshed, recharged, and ready to go!  I just spent two days at the Southeast Homeschool Convention.  I finished up choosing and purchasing curricula.  It was nice to spend time with like minded people and hear from experienced individuals in different fields.

Last year I also attended the Homeschooling 101 conference.  It was very informative, but not necessary this year.  I went in with more of a game plan and wasn't as overwhelmed going into the Vendors Hall.  I knew what I needed to see and what I needed to research further.  I was incredibly blessed this year to have Derek go with me.  He wasn't able to go both days, but did go today.  We attended some great talks.  I appreciated his input into the math curriculum, which we'll get to in the next post - Curriculum Choices.

One of my favorite speakers is Rebecca Powell of  She is incredibly wise and I admire her ability to share her knowledge in parenting and homeschooling.  She was the main speaker last year in the Homeschooling 101 courses.  Yesterday I attended her talk, "Square Peg, Round Hole: Shaping Your Daughter’s Identity in a Be-Like-Everyone-Else World".  What wonderful advice!  One of the most profound things she said was, "If we don't tell them (our daughters) who they are, they will believe what others tell them."  It is our job to build up our daughters and help them understand who they are in Christ.  She gave specific roles each parent has.  It was a fantastic talk.

Robert Andrews gave an encouraging workshop entitled "Parenting: Mission Impossible".  It was a  Biblical perspective of who we are called to be as parents, understanding our children, and understanding how to relate to our children.  Some things I took away from this was that we are parents called to raise the next generation for Jesus.  As parents, we are first sinners.  We are made righteous through Christ and carry the Authority of God in the lives of our children.  We, ourselves, must learn to yield to authority before we can wield it properly.  Likewise, our children are sinners.  We are all born  this way.  It is our job to bring them up in the ways of the Lord.  In dealing with their sin we are not to ignore it, believe everything (they ARE kids), excuse it, or berate them.  As a parent we are not their best buddy, we are the parent.   We should discipline without anger, but with firmness and compassion.

One of my favorite speakers from last year was Kirk Martin of Celebrate Calm.  Derek & I were able to catch one of his talks this time .  It was hard to get in since it was standing room only.  I do have some of his CD's that I plan to listen to with Derek.  Kirk is a dynamic speaker with some great ideas for creating a calm home.  It first starts with US and how we react to our children.  It's about giving the responsibility of choices & consequences to our children.  I recommend looking him up!

Ok, so it wasn't all about parenting and dealing with kiddos - though I think that's the larger part of homeschooling. I did attend some talks about specific subjects and teaching techniques - one of those was the Handwriting Without Tears. I actually used this curriculum last year, but Audrey disliked handwriting so much that it really was not enjoyable for us. And, honestly, I struggled with the curriculum. I should have spent more time studying and preparing for it. It isn't difficult, but when you have a child that dislikes it so it does add another difficulty level! I decided to stick it out and actually bought a used set for Maddie when it's time for her. I enjoyed the talk, got some nice ideas, and some great goodies to take home, too. =)

The first class I actually went to was "Incorporating Fine Arts into Homeschool". It was important to me to attend this workshop as Audrey is stressing a huge interest in Art. We will be making an extra effort in doing more art classes, attending museums, and studying a broad spectrum of arts. She also gave some practical ideas for introducing art, artists, and history into every day.

One great class I attended was "Understanding Your Child's Learning Style". The talk was given by a vendor (of a school) and it was, in part, their spin on learning, but I still found it helpful. In addition to the common learning styles (Auditory, Visual, & Kinesthetics), they introduce what they call The Learning Dispositions. These approaches are more student based rather than concept based. It is about fitting their talents, interests, & goals into their learning. The 5 Dispositions she shared are Relating, Performing, Inventing, Thinking/Creating, and Producing. I'm still looking over these and deciding what style Audrey really is.

I attended a workshop called, "How to Homeschool & Stay Organized". My expectations of this going in was pretty high. The speaker lacked a ton of personality, but she did have a lot of information and sped through it very quickly. Some of her suggestions did not really pertain to our family, but I did take away some usable information.

Since I'm doing a review, I must also honestly report on some talks I did not find helpful. Derek & I both attended the "Homeschooling the Gifted Child". Now, let me preface this by saying that I've never had Audrey tested. I do not KNOW that she is gifted. However, I know that she is very intelligent. According to the checklist provided by the speaker, Audrey IS gifted. If only the talk had really followed that. I did not feel that anything useful came from this talk. It was mostly about her and her gifts. Sorry... that's how it came across.

The last talk of the day, Derek & I split up. I went to "Instilling Organization in Our Children". Derek attended "Creating a Gifted Mathematician" (surprise, right?). Let me start with my class. I kinda cringed when I realized who the speaker was. I attended one of her workshops last year and was really disappointed. I tried to change my attitude and give her the benefit of the doubt. Unfortunately, it was much of the same. I found myself making tally marks on my paper for every grammatical error I saw on the Power Point presentation. :/ There were no concrete ideas on organizing. It was all about realizing that you need organization and doing it. Duh! (For the record, last year she taught on Lapbooking/Notebooking and I found her stuff to be elementary and PPP full of errors.)

On the flip side, Derek came out of his talk pumped and excited! I was actually talking to a lady outside of my workshop as I waited for Derek to finish up. She did not like the one Derek attended for her own reasons, but Derek loved it. He really connected with the speaker and we spent some time afterwards talking to him at his booth.

So, that's it! Overall, it was a great experience. It was informative and encouraging. I met some sweet people and saw some familiar faces. It is not easy, but I am so grateful for the opportunity to teach my girl!

I *heart* Pinterest

There it is!  I'm just saying.  I LOVE Pinterest.  It has changed my life.  LOL  Seriously!  Now, I do consider myself a fairly creative person.  But, I do have my limitations especially in certain areas.  That's why I LOVE Pinterest!  If I'm looking for something specific I can just go there and look it up.  It is amazing!  However, it is very easy to get caught up in the love of and not the "doing".  For that reason, I am working diligently to fill my new board, "Ideas I've Actually Used" to the brim.

So far I've found a new haircut, organized my classroom, found a few new recipes, organized an entire birthday party, made sweet gifts, and used organizing fabulousness - to name a few.  I'm currently working on a few more.  It is so hard not to want to just sit and "pin", but I am encouraged to do a little less "pinning" and a lot more "doing".

Happy Pinning, friends!  And, feel free to follow me on Pinterest:

This Mama is D-O-N-E

Shew.  It has been a tough week.  I'm sure the girls are exhausted from a busy week.  And, they're missing their dad who has been traveling all week.  However, that is no excuse for poor behavior.  I have a major issue that I've been dealing with for some time which has escalated in recent weeks.  It's nothing new to some of you.  The age old issue - CLEAN YOUR ROOM!  Recently it has taken HOURS of procrastination and excuses.  In the past we have cleared the room of ALL toys.  They've lost privileges.  Meals have been delayed until it was done.  Playdates have been canceled.  Yadda, yadda, yadda.  NOTHING WORKS - at least permanently.

So, why the post?  I need some inspiration.  I need your ideas.  Sometimes, ok MOST of the time, as  parents we just have to get creative.  Here's what I'm doing right now.  They are both officially grounded from their rooms.  I have locked the doors.  They are not allowed in there.  I will go in for their clothes.  They will be sleeping in the floor outside of their bedroom.  They have no access to anything in their rooms.  If this doesn't do it, what next?!


Families on Mission

Audrey and I went to Cherokee, NC for our first mission trip together a couple of weeks ago.  We went with a group from our church which included our musical group, Chosen.  We weren't able to go for the entire week; more like a long weekend.  Even though we weren't there long, it was special and quite memorable for both of us.

I am incredibly grateful to be able to share music for the glory of God!  Chosen sang in nursing homes, churches, and town square as part of the worship services.  It was wonderful!  We also participated in VBS at local campgrounds.  Audrey and the other kids were able to help out and be part of each service, as well.  What a blessing to see my sweet, quiet little girl handing out gospel tracts to strangers.  I also watched her (with other adults & kids) waving people into our church service, holding signs, and waving on the side of the road at the town square.  Precious!  Oh, to be as bold as the children!!

The people in the nursing homes, mostly Cherokee Indians, were a huge blessing.  I LOVED loving on them, talking with them, and worshiping with them.  The greatest part was when one of the men started giving a piece of his testimony and he and a couple of other residents sang Amazing Grace in their native language.  It was awesome!!  I only got to serve there one day.  I really would have liked to stay longer so I could go back there.  Maybe next time!

I also loved the sweet children at the campgrounds.  I think we had about 15 the day I helped with crafts.  They were great kids!  And, I have to admit, after spending some time at the campgrounds - I'm ready to camp!  I've never really camped out.  Derek got a really nice, 2 room tent for his birthday over a year ago and we haven't taken it out.  But, I'm ready now!!  Cherokee was BEAUTIFUL!  It was so peaceful and relaxing.  I just wanted to stay right where we were, play in the river, and just sit and enjoy the nature around us.  Oh, and more than once we saw wild elk & turkeys just hanging out on the side of the road.  They were beautiful!

One of the highlights of our trip was a church service in an old church a couple of miles from where we stayed.  We were sharing the service with a youth group from Thomasville, GA.  There were about 35 of them plus our group and the 5 or so members of the church there.  The worship was indescribable.  The power went out in the building about halfway through the sermon, but we just kept on praising.  There were 3 salvations that night.  The Holy Spirit was definitely in that place!

Aside from the missions and the spiritual blessings, it was a great time to spend with some of the dearest friends and sweetest people I know.  We had a free day that we just hung out with friends and had fun.  It was a wonderful time for Audrey to get to know her little friends better and make some new ones.  The trip was also a great opportunity for the two of us to have some time together - not having to share with a sibling, activity, or other distractions.  :)  I'm so grateful for the experience and can't wait to go back again!

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