Category Archives: 170 School Days. 2009.

Day 138. Learning To Fly.

I am not a huge reader….but there are times. I read an amazing book a couple of months ago and I actually just ordered my SECOND book of the year. PLAN B is on it’s way to me from Amazon and I am quite certain it was written directly for me right now. The first few sentences had me captivated. Anyway, back to the first book I read this year. LOVING OUR KIDS ON PURPOSE was recommended highly somewhere in blog land (I forget where), so I ordered it. It truly is worth your time. It focuses on your relationship with your children and not simply the rules. The bottom line of what I took out of it was to train your children up in a way that they WANT to make the right choices. The author gives tons of examples of his own parenting style and I LOVE IT.

This family seems to be really big on giving the children choices, with consequences of course, but the children are free to make their own age appropriate choice. It may just be a spin on presentation sometimes, but it is powerful. Here is an example from my own experience.

I LOVE music. All kinds from Dixie Chicks to Frank Sinatra to Fergie. Since homeschooling, I find that I have little ears around ALL the time, six of them to be exact. I have been fairly careful about what the kids listen too, but it is hard when they hear it EVERYWHERE. The commercials alone on tv, even “children’s” stations, will educate them to songs that I would never dream of continuing to play. 107.9 THE END is the radio station around here that plays all the top 100 type songs. Really I am sounding like a true “mom”, but when was the last time you have actually listened to some of the lyrics? I know for me, it’s really easy to NOT sometimes. I have tried to avoid the YOU CAN’T LISTEN TO THIS SONG commandment and try to slyly just change the station instead, but those days are long gone.

A couple of weeks ago we were going somewhere in the car. I had all three kids with me. WOMANIZER by Britney Spears came on. Now my 10 year old is usually the total rule follower, ultra conservative, and very compliant. However, recently she has started to sufficiently protest about why she can’t listen to certain music.  This day was no different. I changed the radio station to a different song and she spoke up from the back about what a great song it was and why she should be able to listen to it. The typical parent~almost preteen conversation followed. “No you can’t” “why not” “because I said so” “I just like the beat” “I don’t care, it’s an awful song” and then it got interesting…”What’s it about, anyway” I decided to change my tactic. “ok. I am going to explain what this song is really singing about and then you can decide if it’s something that you think we should be listening to.”

Utter joy on her face as she knew she was about to succeed in proving her mom wrong.

“A womanizer is a man who likes all kinds of women and wants to have sex with them all.”

Complete silence.

Wheels turning.

“oh, YOU’RE RIGHT MOM. I guess that’s kinda gross and we probably shouldn’t listen to it.”

Utter joy in my heart.

Now the older kids are asking what songs mean and actually thinking it through. I don’t actually give detailed explanations of each one and I don’t need to anymore. Somehow now when I say  “this isn’t an ok song, they actually don’t question me.” One of them actually said the other day….”Wow, there aren’t too many songs on the radio worth listening too. It’s too bad because I really like the beat of most of them.” Too which I replied “I whole heartedly agree.”

So far so good.

I love the perspective shift of this book. It teaches the value of decision making and age appropriately empowering your kids with enough freedom, so that they can learn to make good decisions for themselves. They need to spread their own wings and learn to fly.

Sometimes “NO” and “BECAUSE I SAID SO” does not take you far enough. SUCH valuable insight for any parent I think and particularly homeschool mamas. One of my fears of homeschooling has always been a how to balance letting the kids grow up. It’s very easy to keep them TOO sheltered when they are with you almost every single minute of the day. They NEED to LEARN to THINK for themselves and have a chance to practice those choices….because in the blink of an eye they’ll be hugging me “goodbye”…and I want them to be ready to face that big bad world out there without me by their side.

Now there is just 32 school days left until summer.

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Day 137. Thinking Back.

I love it when the end is in sight, of anything really. I love accomplishment. I started thinking back over the last 137 days and some of the important things I have been reminded of along the way…

1. “I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out—plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for.” Jer. 29:11

2. Being pregnant when you are a tummy sleeper is rough.

3. The road less traveled is quite bumpy.

4. Make God your audience, not people.

5. Caffeine is not necessary to sustain life.

6. God gives us those moments that are so entirely indescribable, that time, but for a moment, truly seems to stand still.

7. What an incredible responsibility being a mother really is.

8. My children can learn in a classroom or a living room.

9. Rejection hurts. Deeply.

10. Many great things have been accomplished by simply putting one foot in front of the other. (Thanks Jim for the reminder, it has stuck with me.)

11. It’s all in perspective.

Now there are just 33 school days left until summer.

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Day 136. Thinking Ahead.

Just around the corner is a whole lot of this…

and a whole lotta that…

We will have summer birthdays…

and street fireworks.

We will eat ice cream desserts…

and try super hard to get my darling husband to enjoy the beach.

We will spend time with friends…

and grandparents…

and try and stay cool however we can.

There’s gonna jumping and playing…

and a whole lotta silly.

…and I, for one, can hardly wait.

Now there is only 34 school days left until summer.

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Day 135. Real Simple Chore Chart.

I have always held some grand aspirations of beautiful chore charts hanging in my home. I am able to keep up with them for a week or two at best, but life is usually too chaotic and I get sidetracked and we stop the chart. Things have changed after months of homeschooling. First and foremost is WE ARE HOME. I have wondered at times over the past couple years why we pay for this house? It seems as though we are never in it, except to sleep. I didn’t realize at the time, the one good thing about that was, it hardly got dirty.

It’s a little different story around here now. Two adults, three children with one more on the way, and a two year old yorkie live here in this house A N D ….someone or something is home around the clock. One of the first pieces of practical advice I received when crossing into homeschool land was that your house better be cleaned and organized because it was going to be used like never before. Boy is that true. After all, it is called homeschool for a reason.

I heard a concept recently called the  Partial Chore mentality that kind of clicked it all into place for me. It states that you rarely get an uninterrupted opportunity to clean the entire house at one time. Why not do a little bit at a time? Your whole house may never be clean at the same time, but it’s never going to be all the way dirty at the same time either. So, this brilliant statement got me thinking. In the past, part of my hesitation of having the kids help is that they are kids and can’t get the cleaning done up to the standards that I want it. It was then that I realized, I rarely get to the cleaning at the “high standards” that I want it. So, why not have the kids pitch in and help? While the house isn’t going to be clean up to my standards, it isn’t going to be dirty all the way to the bottom of my standards either.

This new found thinking combined with my new found lifestyle where we live IN and enjoy our home has brought about the need for a change. The kids have always helped with chores, but only when I have asked. Life changed last week. Mine for the better, their’s for the worse, they say.

It all came down to a calendar on an end cap at Target. It is part of the REAL SIMPLE collection. It is priced at 10.99 and is now our chore chart. I hung a bulletin board in the hall by the kids rooms and put this glorious creation right on it in plain view. After about 45 minutes, I had laid out chores for the entire month for the kids. Each child has their own color. Cameron~blue. Taylor~green. Emma~ brown. These chores are in addition to the regular make your bed, pick up your stuff, kind of chores. These chores can be done at any point during the day, on their time, but I will not be reminding them daily. They will not receive any cash for completing them and failure to do complete them correctly, has some serious consequences.

What if you “forget”, or “couldn’t find the time” to do them? No problem, you are forgiven. However, you will do them the next day, in addition, to that day’s chores AND go to bed 30 minutes early. If you do the chores poorly…you will redo them and go to bed 15 minutes early as well. This is the first month we are at this and this is undoubtedly going to have a little bit of  a learning curve. I am sure it will be adjusted some. However, I LOVE that this is a once a month commitment on my part to maintain the chart part and it provides me with the flexibility to change from day to day what I have them do, if needed.

I have high hopes for this….REALLY HIGH. This morning I walked out of my room to find my 12 year old emptying the trash…ALL ON HIS OWN. Ironically, as I finish up typing this my 9 year old skipped in with Windex and a roll of paper towels to wipe down my bath for me. PINCH ME…I MUST BE DREAMING.

How do you handle the chore situation in your home?

Now there are just 35 school days left until summer.

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Day 134. Raisin Cake.

We are still steadily moving through the remainder of our textbooks and trying to keep some fun alive during the day too. We are all equally anxious for summer. Today after the work was done we decided to bake…a raisin cake. Questionable sounding, questionable looking… but delicious smelling and delicious tasting! Give it a try, if you like raisins you won’t be sorry. Scroll down to the bottom for the recipe.

First step, after boiling the raisins (one of the questionable looking parts, hang in there….)

oh my silly girls…can NOT stop sniffing the spices

When I got married, my mom gave me a recipe box filled with a bunch of recipes of the things that we had eaten growing up. She had written them (in her own handwriting!) on recipe cards. There it is sittin’ on the counter. One of my favorite gifts. This particular recipe came from my grandma.

Of course, by the time it was baked, the camera had been put away and I don’t have a finished picture. My husband slathers it with butter, kids love it sprinkled with powdered sugar, and I like it just plain. You will have to try it out to see the end result. I warn you though: upon making this cake, you will find that your house has never smelled so delicious. You may also find yourself with a sudden urge to call your grandma, sit down with an afghan and a cup of tea, or anything else you find nostalgic. It’s that good.


1 lb. of raisins

2 cups sugar

1/2 cup margarine

4 cups flour

1 tsp. each of following





1 Tbsp. baking soda

Cook raisins in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes on low heat, keep at a simmer. Remove from heat and add margarine. Stir to melt and then and sugar and one more cup of water.

Stir the flour, spices, salt, and soda together. Add to the raisin mixture A LITTLE AT A TIME and stir really well to avoid lumps.

Bake in 9×13 pan (crisco and floured) at 350 degrees until toothpick comes out clean. Just about 40 minutes.


Now there are just 36 school days left until summer.

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Day 133. Gardening Class.

I met Vicky through church when I worked there as the event coordinator. She is always so helpful and particularly helped me many times, as she is one of those Martha Stewart types and can basically do anything crafty and creative. Not too mention, she is a total crack up and so much fun. These days you can find Vicky down at church taking care of the flowers. She is also adding new ones and giving our campus some extra pretty. She told me if I wanted to bring the kids down she would teach them how to garden and they could help her. Super fun, since I know NOTHING about plants and can’t even keep a chia pet alive.

Each of the kids had their own area and got to dig right in. Vicky had supplies, showed them all the steps, and was as patient as could be.

She even bought a first gardening set for Emma. Emma counted down the days until we got to “GROW” and was as excited as she gets about anything. She even had some “help” from Vicky’s sweet dog Buddy.

Lots of gorgeous new flowers were planted, the kids learned a lot, and Vicky even had little markers for each of the kids flower areas.

Thanks Vicky for all you do and for teachin’ our munchkins a thing or two about keeping flowers ALIVE!  You rock! The kids are so proud and excited to see their flowers growing each time we drive on campus.

Now there are just 37 school days left until summer.

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Day 132. Heading Home.

We opted to stay another night after the convention ended because we knew we would want to be able to continue to talk and plan everything. We slept in until a fabulous 9:30, worked out, and then ate pancakes at the ihop that was attached to our hotel. I think those two almost balanced each other out. After checking out of our hotel we visited the Great Mall in Milpitas, where we discovered the ultimate princess parking spot, thanks to this…

Next we headed over to Borders. We grabbed a spot in the cafe and planned away. With my curriculum chosen, my next task was to plan out my school days. I purchased a planner specifically for the school year and thanks to Sonlight’s weekly planning system, I picked out my 36 weeks of school. We begin on August 16th 2010 and end June 2nd 2011. We have a three week baby break scheduled around the approximate baby arrival day. I can be flexible, if I need to, on this little break. However, due to the fact that this is baby #4 and I have never gone into labor on my own and the fact that my children come out the size of toddlers (all ranging from 9 l bs up to 10 lb 6 oz.), my doctor is already talking a scheduled 39 week induction. I know this could change, but for the sake of planning that is my starting point.

I filled in all school holidays and will eventually fill in field trip days and electives as well. I wanted to have this type of calendar all school year, this year, but could never pull it off. I am thrilled to have this completed already. The weeks are the numbers circled down the left side. Pretty, huh?

After some shopping at Border’s and our second meal of the weekend at El Burro (yeah it’s that good), we had a little of this on the way home.

We drove home on some back roads through the hills and trees because in Elk Grove you get NONE of that. We opened the sunroof and listened to Xanadu, Captain and Tennille, 50 cent, Rob Base, Christina Aguilera, Def Leopard and everything in between. It was quite the concert.

Thoughts on Homeschool Convention weekend? Shopping, eating out (I got to use a cloth napkin!), planning, laughing my head off for three days straight…..I’m hooked. I’ll be back next year. Please have my canvas tote waiting.

Now there are just 38 school days left until summer.

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Day 131. Curriculum Plan for 2010/2011.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to have the basics for my curriculum, picked out for nest year! I started WAY too late last year and with baby #4 arriving in time for turkey dinner this fall…this mama better have my act together. Not too mention, I have things to do this summer, you know important things like going to the beach and sleeping in. I do not want to be working on school.

I wondered before I homeschooled how much it actually cost, so I’m gonna tell you. I have three orders written out ready to go and they look a little somethin’ like this.

Abeka $156.60

Sonlight $875.77

Teaching Textbooks $242.90

for a grand total of 1275.27 to fill in the core curriculum for the 3 kids for next year…(this does not include electives)


All core subjects~Abeka

Bible ~ Sonlight



Read & Thinks (reading comprehension quizzes)~ Abeka

Bible~ Sonlight (Almost went with Positive Action curriculum)

Language Arts~Sonlight

Science~Sonlight (Almost went with Abeka)


Math~Teaching Textbooks


Cooking (1x per week) ~ William Sonoma COOKING TOGETHER. Purchased at Borders for 40% off. I have seen lots of kids cookbooks, but this one is fantastic. Very basic ingredients and lots of pictures. We will be doing one recipe a week throughout the year.

Art (1x per week) ~ I am putting together my own gig for this. I wanted actual art projects, not art history etc. I will be sharing this with you when it is complete! I am excited about this one…love love art! Love getting messy and creating things! All three kids will be doing the same thing.

So, after much research, prayer, and thought….this is where it’s at! Of course this plan is always subject to change until the books are in my hands, but I am 99% sure this is where we are headed! Email me with any questions!!!!

Now there are just 39 school days left until summer.

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Day 130. Curriculum Review, My Top Three.

It alone, was worth the price of admission to the convention, to have the ability to look at all these curriculum choices in person. I am quite visual and find that I really need to look through and touch these textbooks to figure it all out. If that wasn’t enough, we got to talk to reps too. Our basic line was walk up to a booth and say, “Go! Tell me everything wonderful about your curriculum”. Apparently by the look of shock, that wasn’t the usual question. Ha ha. We got TONS of information. A little overload on the brain, but worth it.

What is the best way to teach phonics and why was the Bob Jones rep dissin’ the Abeka Way to teach it? I have no clue. So, I walk into that exhibit hall expecting that all the “ways” to teach lead to the end result of learning. Are some better than others? I am sure they are, but as an upcoming second year homeschool mom with a background in event planning and nannying, I can not make an educated decision on this subject any more than I can decide the best course of treatment for someone who is ill. I literally didn’t even understand his words while he was explaining it. When it comes to textbook driven, literature driven, etc…THAT I can pick to the best of my knowledge for my child, but the rest I am leaving up to the experts. I am choosing to stick with well known, established, and well reviewed companies and trust that they have the “how to learn part” figured out for me.

After all the research, time, and conversations these three companies were my favorite…

I heart Abeka

~I LOVE the way Abeka’s text books are laid out. They are beautifully illustrated and easy to follow and understand. I really like their younger grade curriculum. It is engaging and adorable.

~I find their prices to be very competitive. They are a lot lower than at least what I have seen out there for traditional style learning.

~It is God integrated, truly. There are Bible verses everywhere and God is found in everything from word problems to science discoveries.

I do not heart Abeka’s…

~Bible program. It seems quite old fashioned to me, pretty pricey, and is not very interactive.

~Lesson plan books. Although they are all done for you and laid out day by day. My brain and their organizational method are not friends. They verge on enemy status and it’s pretty frustrating.

I heart Sonlight

~This company exists for the homeschooling family. You are not using a curriculum designed for the classroom yet adapted for home. It is designed for a home learning environment. It does make a difference.

~Curriculum is designed to teach multiple grade levels at a time. It is laid out by age range and grade range. So if you kids are within a three years or so of each other. ONE CURRICULUM LEVEL, not two!

~It’s very easy to understand and put together. You can buy a newcomer kit or customize your own.

~They offer several math programs and handwriting programs, so you can choose what’s best for you!

~Tons of gorgeous books and more books. No textbooks.

~Incredible customer service. That’s huge to me.

~ Lesson plans and I are already BFF. They are not bound, laid out by week, and each week is on it’s own page.

Sonlight kinda scares me…

~ Literature based learning. No textbooks. No quizzes. No tests.

I say…WHAT? “They” say it works. I’m more than willing to step out of the box and try it.

Check out their website. It’s great. It will explain everything far better than I. Make sure and check out 27 reasons why families love Sonlight and 27 reasons why NOT to buy Sonlight. These two articles seem to do a pretty thorough job of explaining Sonlight.


The end. Admittedly, I have not used it yet, but check out their website and tell me what is not to love. This is a math curriculum only. I am just a little excited about it.

My curriculum plan for 2010-2011 school year will be found in the next post. I have decided and it’s May, YAY ME!

Now there is just 40 school days left until summer.

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Day 129. Convention Day.

I am worse than a toddler. If I don’t have some sort of noise going at night, I can not sleep. A regular house fan is usually my drug of choice. This adorable hotel had an air conditioner but NO fan option. Clearly we could not set the thermostat for 50 to keep it continuously running, so I had very little sleep all night. First stop at sunlight was Target and a 12.99, very cute chrome fan. Problem solved.

Back at the hotel, we hung out for a bit and then headed over for day 2 of all things homeschool.

Our first stop was a breakout session called CONFESSIONS OF A DISORGANIZED HOMESCHOOLER by Susan Kemmerer. It was fantastic. The teacher was a homeschooling mom of 9. Impressive.

Here are some notes that I jotted down from the meeting. Just random thoughts that stuck with me:

Allow Him to interrupt your agenda as HE sees fit.

Adopt the partial chore mentality~ clean for 5 minutes here and 5 minutes there. You may never have an entirely clean house, but you will never have an entirely dirty one either. I loved that.

She referred to herself as mother jekyll teacher hyde. ha. loved that too.

The family cat was run over by a speeding car outside their home one day. Upon finding it smashed on the road, she actually thought about dissecting it as a science project. She didn’t. She was hilarious.

Proverbs 16:9 In his heart a man plans his course,
but the LORD determines his steps.

and my favorite thing of the whole weekend:

When it comes to organization there are two types of people, those who are time focused and those who are project focused. For example, if you are a project focus thinker and you try and adopt a schedule that holds you to time constraints and time focus, you are doomed for failure. The same is true in reverse.

Neither is WRONG! God created both. Figure out which you are and work like that!

A project focused person will not succeed by trying to manage their day through detailed time schedules. They will accomplish more through a general time overview and a to do list that is project based. Her suggestion was to keep a running to do list of ALL the projects you have going or want to have going and work off of that. Keep plugging along and cross it off when done.

That is SO me. I have always felt that the “proper way” to be organized was through a detailed time schedule, but I could never find that I could stick to them. There was a tremendous freedom found in hearing this workshop for me. It was a very interesting concept and a little funny because Gina, who went with me, is very time focused and I am very project focused. We hit them both.

Finally, a cute idea she gave. When it comes to displaying school work and art work, she uses their school room work table and places projects on top. Then she covers it with clear plastic (purchased on the roll at Walmart or a fabric store). This gives a great, clever way to display things without taking up wall space.

The rest of the day was spent at Sonlight workshops and visiting more booths at the exhibit hall. We ended the convention winning a canvas tote filled with books from Sonlight (I am an official teacher now with a canvas bag!). We topped off the day with an awesome dinner at The Black Angus. There is not much equal to their Sesame Teriyaki steak. YUM. Back at the hotel was more planning and a peaceful night sleep thanks to my morning Target run. Curriculum thoughts coming in the next post!

Now there are just 41 school days left until summer.

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