Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Firsts


Ruby had her first visit to the ER last week.
She was so pitiful! She started getting a bad cough suddenly over Wednesday night and then Thursday it got worse and she ran a fever all day.  At around 11pm she woke up trembling and gasping with a tell tell "bark" to her cough.  I wanted to go let someone listen to her to rule out anything too serious or to evaluate the severity of what I was sure it was: croup.  No meds, but I was reassured with her lungs being clear, so we just have to wait it out.


This picture was taken on Friday.  She got in my lap and asked to be rocked with the blanket.  She took a really good nap for a little while at least.


This was taken this past Tuesday. After she felt a little bit better she would just fall asleep whenever and wherever she would be able to get comfortable for a few minutes. 


She was sleeping hard! Moved onto the floor completely!


This was taken last night.  She has felt a TINY bit better every day, and she's finally off the pain meds for her sore throat today.  I finally got brave enough to give her a bath after almost a week of waiting for the worst to pass.  She wanted bows in her hair because she saw them under the sink.

And after her bath....she got comfy on the bed.  Took about an hour nap but it didn't keep her up TOO late afterward.


And today she had her best nap of the week in the recliner.  Over two hours in this exact position!

She still has a really nasty sounding cough, but from the increase of stubbornness and mess, I can tell she's getting back to her usual self after a full week.  Croup is ROUGH!

And another first....


Corey celebrated his first anniversary with Shaw this week and he got this really cool water bottle as a present.  His official anniversary date was in September but since apparently a ton of people get hired in September they split them up over two months to celebrate.
He has come SO FAR with the company in such a short time, I am very VERY proud of him.  And I am very pleased to see that they recognize hard work and see his potential for leadership.  That awesome water bottle happens to be sitting on his very own desk.  Who gets a desk upper level job less than a year after going to work for Shaw? My awesome husband that's who! God definitely placed him in the right place at the right time and we are very blessed! And patiently (attempting anyway!) waiting to see what will come our way for his future!


Friday, October 11, 2013

Organizing Our Homeschool Year!

When this posts, we will be finishing the last day of our 9th week of the school year! I spent yesterday organizing and planning for the next nine weeks and decided to take some photos and share how I organize our school days!

This was taken after I finished.  Just some laundry and school planning!



Here's the front of my notebook.  I keep a big binder every year and at the end just take everything out and put it with all their school papers in a blue banker's box and label it with the year.  I put everything they do in there.  It's only two kids work so the box is plenty big to keep everything.  I also throw in their art, co-op papers and projects, and test scores.


The first page in the binder is a page listing our curriculum for the year.  Our Math has been scratched out a few times for our issues picking something at the beginning of the year, ha ha.


I then have divided sections as you can see.  The calendar I print from Donna Young and pencil in special events when I know about them.  I also roughly plan out our semesters and breaks, then actually circle school days after we've completed them. That section also contains the printed confirmation of our declaration of intent which I have to keep a copy of for legality sake.


In my lesson plan section I have....lesson plans! ha ha.
Yep, I write out lesson plans.  I do this for nine weeks at a time, ahead.
I started doing this the year that I was pregnant with Ruby, (although I didn't know I was pregnant when our year started).  It was the single most important thing that kept us afloat while I was very very very sick with the pregnancy.  And then, our year went SO well, that I decided to keep doing it!
I take each subject, and just go through writing down a very short lesson number or just a phrase to describe the topic for that day.  
The top section of the lesson plan is just showing that we do spelling, vocabulary, and handwriting practice every day and gives an approximate time those take each day.
The next subject is Math, I write the lesson number and the skill/topic.
The next subject down is our rotating subject area.  This is new for this year.  
I decided that instead of doing a little bit of science, social studies, language, writing, and art every day, that we would block those subjects off by day.  
So on Monday, after co-op, we do a week's worth of social studies along with the worksheets or activities.  On Tuesdays we do First Language Lessons, again a week's worth (which is usually only 1-3 lessons), and I have scheduled Art that day as well because Language doesn't usually take as long. 
On Wednesdays they do a lesson from Institute for Excellence in Writing, and complete the work that goes along with it.  That's also a subject that only does one lesson per week. 
 On Thursdays I had originally planned on it being a light day because they had violin and karate spread out throughout the day, but Katie's violin got switched to the morning, so this has turned into finishing up the writing assignments and maybe doing Art if it wasn't done on Tuesday. 
Then on Friday, we do science.

I looked into those subjects, the number of chapters or lessons, then figured out how many we needed to cover per nine weeks, then went from there breaking it down into each individual week.
This really helps me make sure that we will finish each curriculum by the end of the year.  I have also allowed for most subjects to be "finished" before the last two weeks of school, to allow for review or delay, and to allow time for testing week.

Under that in the bottom section is Reading.  We are doing Literature studies this year and they are reading the same books which is wonderful!  
You can see we are going to be continuing our study of The Borrowers.  

Now, some people may HATE being stuck to a lesson plan, but I LOVE it!
Honestly, if it were left up to me to go on our own pace....well....
let's just say that pace would reflect my serious deficit in attention and love of procrastination.

The next section is progress reports. The Georgia homeschool law states: "Parent must write an annual progress report and retain it for three years."
The way I do this is to write a short little status for each subject area at the end of each nine weeks for each child.
I made a chart and printed it out similar to the lesson plans with each subject area, then put a box for each nine weeks.  Then I just write a little update, list something they excelled with, or listing something they might have struggled with.  Then at the end of the year I have a more detailed account for each nine weeks than if I'd just written something at the end.
And yes, my kids always do well on their progress reports? Why in the world wouldn't they?! ha ha.
They always get A's because why would a private tutor move on before their student learned the subject matter? ;)
They keep working till they've finished for the day, so there's no "unfinished work" or incomplete projects.
Yep, they have been doing math right before bed. But it doesn't happen often. But if it needs to, it does. There's no leaving because it's time for school to be "done" and therefore they just take a bad grade.  
They finish. And if they get it wrong, we redo it together. Pretty good system.
Oh, and they don't have to go attempt independent work until we've done enough of it together that I know they understand what to do.  Just another BIG advantage of individualized private schooling at home from a teacher who knows you. ;) 

So, after my lesson plans section comes the WAY big help.  All my lesson planning would be in vain if I didn't do this next part.  I usually spend an evening or two planning out all the lessons then spend another afternoon or evening doing this.

I have a numbered divider for each nine weeks.


Behind each numbered nine weeks there are two heavy duty plastic page protectors. One for Katie and one for Noah.


Inside their labeled page protector is every single worksheet they will need for that week.
Spelling, Math, Vocabulary (pulled out of the Wordly Wise book, yes), Science, Social Studies, and even their Language Lessons. I pull everything out of its original workbook, divide it up and put it in these individual page protectors.

I cannot express how much this has helped me stay on track and COVER everything!
Even last year there were some things that I didn't pull out of the workbooks, like spelling and vocabulary, and guess what didn't get finished by the end of the year??
When dad is home in the mornings, there is a needy toddler *needing* to be given a new distraction every so often, or a juice cup refilled, or there are just various random *things* going on, every 2-3 minutes that it takes to find a workbook, find the page they need to do, show them where it is, and FIND it later or the next time you need to do some work, well that's just time we don't have! Add that on to every subject and you've got a BIG ole chunk of wasted time spread throughout the day.
Not to mention, I've got quite a few things on my mind.
Planning out when I need to start lunch (since that's our big meal of the day with Corey home), time getting Ruby down for her nap, and trying to get most everything done fairly early in the day so we aren't still working on school at 5pm (it happens!), well, this is just the thing to help us not waste time finding what we need.
And this year, I added another level of organization to it that is even better!


Katie and Noah each have a binder with five pocket dividers.
On Friday or over the weekend, I take all those worksheets out of the 9 week page protectors and further divide them by day into their own dividers. 
This is where some more customization can come in.  If we are behind, or if I know there's a change in the schedule that week, I can divide things out to accommodate those things.
When we are up and I'm getting breakfast or prepping for lunch, I can tell them to go get started on their Math or Vocabulary, or start on their reading for the day.  It's so wonderful that it's already in their day's work so I don't have to go find it.  It also gives them some responsibility, or at least gives them the opportunity to take ownership of their work a little more.


The back of each day has a pocket as well, so the idea is that they will put their completed work there when they are done...but that part hasn't work out quite as well, ha ha.

Their Literature studies are right now from things I've put together myself and printed.  I put them in pocket folders and they are separate from all this.  Their literature study is a weekly assignment (ex, by Friday read and finish all the pages chapters 1-5), so they are being given some responsibility in planning out what days and when they complete those assignments.
They also have a completely separate binder for Institute for Excellence in Writing.  They came with that curriculum and it has to stay separate because they have sections with outlines, sources, word lists etc.

I love that I don't have to have ALL our workbooks and curriculum out all the time.  We have enough just storing the binders, reading books, and textbooks for science and social studies.  Everything else, teacher books, workbooks, etc, stay put away.  Another good thing is that last year we were in transition a couple of times throughout the year and having nine weeks planned out at a time this way was WONDERFUL when we had to be out of sorts and I didn't have to lug boxes and boxes of school stuff just to stay on track. (as long as picking up and going never happens the 9th week! ha!)

Now, since I've gotten all this done DURING our 9th week, I can enjoy our fall break next week with no planning to get done! And I'm finished planning through the rest of 2013! I don't *have* to plan again until our Christmas break, though I will probably get it done before then.

Theoretically I could do this over the summer and have an entire year planned out at once.  It would take more space to store the nine weeks materials, perhaps a hanging file system. It would also take some TIME and SPACE. I really want to give that a try next year. I bet it would be really nice! :-)

Thursday, October 10, 2013

October Busy-ness!

The sensory box for August stretched into September.  When I made it "apple" themed I was still thinking about starting school in September.  ANYWAY, she was way bored with that box for several weeks so we were long overdue in making a new sensory box for October.

We've been so busy that I haven't even had the chance to go to the dollar store to pick up little things for this month's box, but lucky for us, all of these items were scavenged from family members! ha ha! 

Here's a view of the busy/sensory box for October!


Nanna had all the little play things...the two scarecrows, the little plastic spiders, and the fall color flower wreaths!  I had thought in the back of my mind that I would do popcorn kernals or dried corn for the scooping play, but look what turned out!




SHE LOVES this thing!


 For scooping, for some crazy reason I had the thought to use bird seed.  We were able to get an AMPLE supply from Memaw and Granddaddy, and it turned out to be even more perfect because it was all black sunflower seeds!  Pretty cool to go with the "bone guys" and the scarecrows!

Now I can use another variety of birdseed another month for a different feel.  She likes digging for the "te-shures" which are the little sticks and rocks/bark that are mixed into the birdseed.

The best part about the bird seed is that we will be able to throw it and toss it outside or put it in a bird-feeder when she is done playing with it!  The lentils and split peas were more difficult with last month's box.  She had (of course) dumped some larger portions of them out several times.  So, in sweeping it up, various kitchen floor debris had gotten in the mix, so no good for eating. I didn't want to throw it in the trash, so I ended up putting it away in plastic baggies to use again later.  I don't think it would be a good idea to just throw lentils outside would it?  Would birds eat it?  Would that even be safe?!
The green and tan colored lentils and peas will probably reappear in our March box.

I am so excited that she has another "new" thing to occupy her for a while!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Life: randomness

Sometimes I can't think of a title for my posts!

So, life is crazy.  This past week I almost enrolled in a Master's Degree program through Liberty University.  But then I thought better of it.  HA!

Seriously though, I have made the decision that *one day*, I will go further with my own education.  Pretty big thought since I never EVER considered it at all.  I think because I have a bachelor's degree in education and don't ever plan to go back to teaching in that capacity, I never even thought of more college as an option for me.  But, when I started considering the fact that a master's degree could be in any field whatsoever, I was really inspired!  The program that I actually applied to (yes, I got as far as actually applying!), is a master's degree in Human Services, Marriage and Family Counseling.  If I ever one day decided to "get a job" I could very honestly see myself doing something in that field.  I would love to counsel, give classes, do premarital counseling, etc, etc.  This would NOT be a clinical degree or end up with an actual therapy license.  That's WAY too much work, ha ha.  This would be a ministry/non-profit/service area of work.

I was really excited thinking about getting back into academics if it was in a field that was specific to my interest.  But, the timing is definitely not right for me to do this at the moment.  Toddler, homeschooling, husband full time student, money money money, etc. etc.  But one day, I look forward to pursuing this.  I like the idea of having something in mind for that *one day* when my current full-time job is finished.  I can retire to a casual part time career, HA.

In other news, my frugal shopping this week was a pretty big success.  I kept it right at $100 and stocked up on some non-perishables.  I was again blessed by the mark-down area.  Two things we really needed (some file folders for book studies and ink pens) were marked down super cheap!

Our church is doing *Humbug* this year for the Christmas musical.  It's an original adaptation of A Christmas Carol.  Corey is going to be Bob Cratchit, Noah is Tiny Tim, and Katie also has a line in the Christmas Past scene.  Corey and Noah actually have a short duet together during one of their scenes, and Katie gets bopped on the head by a caveman! It's going to be awesome I'm sure!

We are finishing up our first nine weeks of school this week and plan on taking three days next week as a fall break.  I can't believe it's already the middle of October! School is going very well, both kids are breezing right along.  I love doing book studies! They've done Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and just started The Borrowers this week.  The rest of the year is planned out also including A Christmas Carol (followed by a field trip performance to see the musical version in Atlanta) and The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  We are enjoying CHAT, our co-op this year.  There will be a Night of the Stars (talent show), fall festival, and a Christmas craft fair coming up with that.

Last weekend we made a big pork picnic barbecue and I made homemade rolls to go with.  I am very excited to say that I finally had SUCCESS making a FLUFFY yeast roll.  I have a recipe that I've used recently that turns out pretty well, but they were always still a bit dense.  I googled  "How to make fluffy yeast rolls" and got some tips ha ha.  I read that temperature is everything.  So this time, I put out all the ingredients and let them get to room temperature before starting.  The eggs and yeast most importantly I believe.  I always keep my jar of yeast in the fridge.  And eggs of course are always cold.  When I went to add the flour, I had the foamiest yeast mixture I've ever had!  And another change I made was buying actual bread flour.  The rolls were SO YUMMY!!!!!! I had made them large like buns, but I plan to do them again as rolls!

Good news and bad news with weight loss progress.  The bad news is, I've pretty much stopped losing weight. The good news is, I'm not gaining any weight either.  Yet.  And there's plenty good reason, did you see that last paragraph about making homemade rolls? ha ha.  Between frugal cooking and trying homemade breads, it's been tough to stay under calorie or even at my calorie count the last couple of weeks. But at least I'm not gaining!  I really gotta get back motivated! I've got at least ten more pounds to go to reach my goal, my pre-babies weight! ;)

I guess there's not much else to say.  Life is just slipping on by.  I love fall!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Daybook: October 1

I haven't done an overall check in post in a while, so here goes.  I copied this format from a friend's blog.  I think I did this one time a long time ago......

Outside my window... It's starting to get dark slightly earlier in the evenings.  I enjoy the cooler temperatures and the leaves will start changing colors soon, but I do not enjoy the bulkier layered clothing it brings to the still not potty trained or interested in potty training two year old.   I do love fall.  I do.  It brings many memories.  

I am thinking... about needing to get Ruby some different busy box activities together and make her an October box.  I have some skeletons to throw in, but in general I am going to do a fall box.  Popcorn kernals or dried corn for scooping.  Some mini pumpkins.  Some pine cones, nuts, etc.

I am wondering...when my child will be interested in using the potty.  I really wish she would.  Only because we've cleaned up poop twice lately from where she tried on her own to empty her diaper into the potty.  Seriously...that has to be a readiness sign right?

I am praying...for two families that we've pulled their Christmas card from our prayer bucket for October.  For Corey's next/last two years of school to speed by but not the years of the kids to fly by in the meantime.  For a special set of grandparents making their move to retirement housing.  For our own housing situation.  For our families' needs and health concerns.  For our church commitments this fall and holiday season.  

I am thankful... for food in the pantry and a very comfortable bed at night. And for good sleep.

I am hearing... Katie giving Ruby a bath. Laughing, talking, toddler speak, practicing parent/life skills.  Can I add that I'm thankful to be able to pay my kids a little token to bathe Ruby in the evenings?  I was able to clean up the kitchen in peace and now blog a bit because they take their time doing it which is fine by me! :)

Learning at home... is going very very well!  After all our back and forth over choosing homeschool curriculum, and ending up with all parent led and hands on curriculum, we are doing VERY well so far!  I have to credit most of it to planning out nine weeks at a time.  I have done that the past few years and it has really kept us on track.  Nine weeks worth of lesson plans, worksheets pulled and organized, and this year I added weekly folders for the kids.  They each have a binder with a Monday-Friday divider that also has pockets.  I divvy out their week's work by day, so they can get up and get right to work on what's in their folder that they can do independently.  It's wonderful!

From the kitchen...  I've made homemade bread and some delicious diet cupcakes lately.  The cupcakes are really yummy, though they aren't exactly "healthy" as far as *real food* goes.  They are just low calorie yet sweet which sometimes really fits my needs if you know what I mean.  It's a box of cake mix (funfetti) and 12oz of sprite zero.  Frost with some fat free cook whip mixed with fat free vanilla pudding and it's a great sweet tooth killer with not a lot of effort or cost involved.  Today, I've had Fiber One cereal twice because I am not feeling creative and really want to make it to my goal weight sooner than later.

I am reading... LOTS of Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte.  Seriously.  In the last month I've read Northanger Abbey, Mansfield Park, Lady Susan, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Villette, Shirley, as well as The Great Gatsby, and about 5 random Christian fiction novels. I am 35% through The Professor, but got tired of Charlotte Bronte and moved to all those Austen novels. At the very moment I am on the last chapter of Sense and Sensibility.  I was sure I had read it before, but I don't think I have!  All the others were first time reads except of course, Pride and Prejudice which is an all time favorite of mine, and I'd read The Great Gatsby before as well.  

One of my favorite things... time spent with Corey.  It's few and far between lately.  He's been completely swamped with school work!

I am creating... hmmmm..... I hope to be creating some homemade Christmas gifts this year so I've been collecting some random things to help with that.  I guess I'm creating mental lists?  ha ha.

Around the house... really need to clean out closets! And the school shelves.  I feel that the school shelves are constantly cluttered!

A few plans for the rest of the week... meeting some friends at the park.  Noah has a test Thursday for his first Karate stripe.  Katie has violin lessons.  I hope that Corey and I will be able to use a groupon we have for Studio Movie Grill this weekend.

A picture thought I am sharing...


So sweet.  Big sister and little sister.
She had fallen asleep in the car and actually stayed asleep for me to hand her to Katie.  I even got her back from her after I did what I had to do and she slept more.  Rare moment!


Words to Share: This is another short little verse from Streams in the Desert.  But so rich!

I walked a miles with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she;
But, oh the things I learned from her
When sorrow walked with me.