Our Notes

Saturday, July 19, 2014

BlogShare: 10 Tips to Maximize Your Daily Time

Ten Ways to Maximize your Day:

1. Get up early. The bottom line is, if I get up early enough to have some time to organize and have a little Mom-time before my kids get up, the day goes great. When I don't, it doesn't. I get up early. Even when I have went to bed late. I treat Motherhood as a profession and I want to show up on time and NOT in my pajamas.

2. Daily Priority List. Each morning. A list with NO MORE than three things on it. Those are the things I know I have to get done. Serious...no more than three things. 

3. Motherboard. In our house, its the kitchen calendar. Everything is on there so I can see the month at a glance. If there is a day or two together where there is white space, I guard it with my life. White space is good.

4. Fuel. I eat really healthy because I want/need lots of energy. I don't eat, I fuel my body. When put in those terms I don't want to put junk in my body. This is not a discount body and I don't want to put discount food in it. I need to keep up with the world's busiest four year old every day and her 4 siblings. When I changed my diet for the better, it was like getting an extra hour or two built into each day. How's that for diet modification motivation?

5. Sleep. I know my body. I will never be one of those get 5 hours of sleep a night and everything will still be awesome type of people. I need 7-8. This is an unmovable, fixed number in the grand scheme of how do I want to spend my 24 hour day. I can tell you; I'm spending close to 8 of it sleeping. I envy those of you who do fine on 5 or 6. My husband is that way. When I go more than two days at under 7 hours, it starts looking like an episode of walking dead around here...

6. No little trips. I go grocery shopping once each week.  Little trips suck away gas, money, time and energy. Little trips are bad for the environment and bad for productivity.  I meal plan and do one trip. Then I don't have to think about what is for dinner or grocery shopping for another 6-7 days. Which is good, because with two teenage boys the grocery bill is depressing enough once a week...

7. Delegate. Even small children can have chores and will (hang with me here) enjoy them. Kids like to feel they are a part of something bigger than themselves; we all do. Everyone likes to feel needed. I give big verbal praise and let my children know how valuable (and it IS ) their contribution is when we do our "morning work" time. I don't give them a lot cause they are all still young, but what they do do (put their own laundry away, take their own dirty clothes to the laundry room, pick up their owntoys~~see the pattern) is time I don't have to spend doing it for them. 

8. Find hidden time. Hidden time is any time that you can multitask. My main ones are (yours may be different): 
  • I utilize the time  when I am waiting for my kids to get done with their activities. Before grad school, I visited with the other Moms when I was stuck in waiting rooms, you know, waiting. Now I use that 1-2 hours to study, meal plan, make my daily priority lists and write blog posts. 
  • I return calls, (when I return calls), while I am folding clothes or some other rote activity. I do not return them in the car while driving. I used to, but I realized my attention needed to my on the road and there are always amazing little people in the backseat I can spend that time talking to, visiting with, and learning more about what's in their mind and on their hearts.
  • I am never without a book or my Nook so that I can either study myself or help the kids study or read to them if we are caught with unexpected wait time.
9. I Chunk my time. Homeschool time is homeschool time. Laundry time is laundry time. Blogging time is blogging time, etc. This way I don't feel guilty that I'm not folding laundry while homeschooling and not feeling guilty that I'm not homeschooling while cleaning, etc. I have given myself the freedom to delegate time to specific tasks. My attention is not divided between multiple things at once, I became a better teacher and my house got cleaner. Just by allotting time to each activity on its own. 

10.  Organize. Everything. Not in a total OCD kind of way, but really, how many days in a row do you want to give time to activities like finding your keys, finding your kids soccer shoes, looking for...whatever?  If you aren't an organized person, make small steps toward this. Hang a key holder by the door, clean out one drawer or shelf a day. When you know what you have and where it is, you save time and money.

Time is the Currency of your life and no one gets younger as they go through life. I am the author of the life I live and I want that book to be full of memories, goals achieved, trips taken, and more so I guard my time, my life's currency, as the valuable commodity it is.

The Anatomy of A Homeschool Adventure...

The strength of the education you give your child lies in the ideas you put before them, and not in how many hours they spend filling paper with answers.

There's a lot of truth in that statement. I wrestle with the whole "appearance of school" in our homeschooling every day. When you grow up without knowing homeschooling is even an option, when you are a product of a strict system of education that thrives off multiple dry textbooks and monotonous classroom lessons, your view of what homeschool is supposed to be is skewed. 
When you start your journey into homeschooling you are running against the grain, though these days that isn't as true as it once was. The style you choose varies, usually based on the homeschoolers you make friends with. When we started out (a good 17 years or more ago), I knew just a few homeschoolers. One group used a Bob Jones in-home satellite classroom approach. The days were strictly scheduled, there were lesson tapes to view with classroom tutors and so forth, tests to be done on time and mailed off for grading and proper credit, strict attendance procedures to adhere to...a distinct air of private school to the whole experience.
There was another group, branching out from satellite schools and using texts like Saxon math, Alpha Omega LifePacs, ACE School of Tomorrow curriculum. Most were still pretty strictly scheduled, but not to the extent the Bob Jones crowd was. Most had a designated 'school room' and were very much a school-at-home group, with little flexibility in their daily routine. You certainly weren't going outside in the neighborhood during 'school hours' or even scheduling appointments or errands during the time when children were expected to be 'in school'. Even in more relaxed, free homeschooling states, parents towed the line of keeping their homeschool efforts in match step with the government system around them. 
You had the more hardcore Classical Education group, teaching the Trivium, children learning Latin not so much as an aid to grasping the true foundation do English as a language, but learning Latin as a full language in itself. 
Another group still embraced a much more a 'free spirit' homeschool environment. These were the very few Charlotte Mason folks I knew of, a few followers of the Robinson Curriculum, and the Unschooling crowd just emerging with a title for their unencumbered approach to home education. 
When we pulled our oldest from the government system in 6th grade, I was immediately bullied by the system as to how inadequate my own simple education was, how ill-prepared I was to be teaching a child any useful knowledge, and how I needed to submit to those who had been specifically trained in the higher educational system otherwise my children would perish into oblivion and flounder with substandard knowledge and even lower skill levels.  
As a result, I grabbed an almost perfect duplicate of the texts my oldest used in the public school and we set about doing 'school at home'. I duplicated the scheduling, we had breaks between 'classes' and the whole thing. He played his school at home part well enough to convince his Dad to put him back into the public system for 7th grade. The school district though, decided he must have had a year-long vacation and would need special attention to be brought "up to speed" in order to assimilate back into their ranks. A few tests and it was apparent their concern was unwarranted and he was allowed to be a 7th grader. Part of his assimilation was that I attend what they called Parent Enrichment Training once a week at the school, led by a 'professional in child development'....who we found out was not even a parent herself, but simply a child psychologist who happened to have a couple nieces and nephews. The class was a very "I'm Ok, You're Ok" psychology approach and taught that parents and children are equals on all things, be your child's best friend, get down on their level, learn from them thru their eyes. We were being taught Dr Phil philosophy before Dr. Phil was even a name.
We were out of there without even considering looking back before he reached the 1st quarter report card. Now what?
We went with the Alpha Omega LifePac approach to schooling. Even followed their suggested scheduling and daily routine plans. We did attempt our church's private school option for a while, but in the end that wasn't going to work any better than the public school option. They were very big on homeschooling...as long as it was done under their guidance, and in their building. 
We moved on from AO to their Switched-on-Schoolhouse, then into Christian Light Education workbooks. After years of the workbook venue, we settled into another textbook approach, using Rod & Staff almost exclusively. We taught reading with Learning to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, Alpha Phonics, and stock workbooks and flash cards from Walmart. Our homeschool was still just that...a school at home. The only thing we didn't do all those years was buy 'real' school desks and set up a miniature classroom in the house. 


Ok, confession...I have always wanted to have our own little red school house...a nice, one-room school area set up off a trail in the woods, quiet and secluded from the everyday routine of the house itself. I still want that. I want everything in one place...our book shelves, our printer, our arts and crafts...instead of scattered throughout every room in the house. But that is all part of what makes up our home school experience I guess. The 'school' isn't a specific area...it's the entire HOME experience of all those minutes and tasks that make up our day, from feeding goats in the barn, to scrubbing laundry at the wash tubs, to sweeping the floors. 


The past handful of school seasons, we have more fully embraced a Charlotte Mason style of learning. I have learned, albeit slowly, that a textbook is a great tool, but it certainly isn't the only tool. We keep textbooks around to keep my attention focus on what I consider core areas, namely math and English lessons. Everything else is free flowing thru good, solid books for referencing and reading aloud, lapbook and notebook creating, hands-on projects and adventures. Looking back on our years of homeschooling, we have always leaned toward real books as a heavy learning tool. Even when the oldest was in the public school arena, we would supplement those homework assignments by going farther with them on our own and crafting various home lessons, projects, and scrapbooks of our knowledge as we learned more. It's only been the past few seasons I have really grasped the truth of what Charlotte Mason was talking about for our educational adventure. It doesn't have to be textbooks and quizzes, with a reward of a field trip scattered here and there after some arbitrary lesson number is reached. Life teaches in more ways than a textbook ever can. There is math everywhere, even in mopping a floor. Grammar can be taught thru the regular use of real language in everyday conversation, in real books, and in quiet contemplative moments.


Will we totally ditch the textbooks here? Alas, probably not. Old, ingrained habits are marrow deep and so hard to shake free from. But we are freeing ourselves bit by bit every day we shed the textbooks in favor of a new adventure outdoors here. This simple truth is we can always find great books to read about and learn from, but experiencing those lessons is where the real education lies.

The strength of the education you give your child lies in the ideas you put before them, and not in how many hours they spend filling paper with answers.






                                        photo credit: The Hmmmschooling Mom

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Mile-a-Minute Crochet request


Way back in March, some poor visitor came by and left a message on a post about Mile-a-Minute crochet I was working on. I shared several links, but nothing with any real tutorial.

And I totally missed the comment waiting for attention.

Just in case Jolene makes another visit, here is a great YouTube for working a Mile-a-Minute pattern…

Mile-a-Minute Crochet

oh…one more thing…


At this point, I am not planning to segregate the homesteading from the homeschooling from the kitchen sharing. I will at least try to keep things divided up into categories, and keep a post title that reflects the contents…

Maybe it will work, maybe it will be muddled and jumbled. Time will tell.

Summer of Change at the Homestead

A photo from last year, but it was summer so it fits the topic. It’s been rather hot and muggy the past month and a half here so there aren’t many new summer photos to share. We had so much rain for the spring, and then went straight into the over-heated, nasty stuff, it sort of put a damper on our hiking and outdoor fun. There’s always autumn, though!

Around the Homestead:


I mentioned in the last update that the Man of the Homestead will be heading off to New Jersey soon. We haven’t gotten an exact date yet, but it’s coming up. Definitely by this time next month he will be enjoying the cooler temps of the northeast while we are still sweating it out down here in the South. This job will be the farthest away from home he’s been in the past 5-6 years…15+ hours. The plan is he will fly home for 4 days, every 3 weeks. at least until winter strikes the northeast and we will play it by ear from there. Another year of the single parent homesteading and homeschooling isn’t quite the adventure I had in mind, but it is what it is, so onward we go.

I also mentioned the possibility of moving. We aren’t. I love Tennessee, and I can list off a hundred pros to being there vs here, but the biggest con on the list, the one that I just can’t get around, is the debt-free part. We own this place, there is no debt here. to move, we would be starting over with a bank loan or renting from someone and not having the ownership. If the goal is to drag the Man of the Homestead home and keep him here, that debt-free thing has got to be. He can’t, and won’t, come home at all with a loan hanging overhead. And as much as I’d love the like-minded fellowship of Tennessee, I don’t think it’s smart to start over again with $100k and more in debt just to get there.

So…we finish projects here…like the addition off the back of the house, the barn that needs rebuilding, the fencing that needs done, the remodeling that has been ‘in progress’ for so long. The list is lengthy, that’s for sure, but it all keeps moving forward toward the goal, and that’s the point I suppose.

Some projects I need to work harder on…keeping the pantry stores up, and forcing this land of clay and slop to produce for our needs. Part of that process will include finding Miss Judy, and perhaps Bo the bull, a new home. There isn’t enough ‘pasture land’ here at all to truly keep a contented cow. She is just 7 years old now and still has quite a few years of calving and milking in her. She just needs the right family homestead. I hate seeing her go, but it has to happen. I will miss the availability of the milk, and definitely the fresh butter, but we don’t have the proper set up for her, I cannot get her bred way out here (no one want to come AI a single cow in the middle of the hinterlands here and there isn’t a neighbor willing to rent a bull for date nights, etc). I have to stop hanging on and just admit that bit of the dream just isn’t meant to be. Perhaps we can get reworked here to better suit the goats, and work on rebuilding the herd back up. We have lost our best goats over the past several summers with so much rain and the increase in the worm-load. I stopped milking them to keep their health up for those having babies.

In the Schoolhouse:


We are wrapping up some odd projects and such to end the current school term here and I’m preparing for the next great school adventure…the 1800’s. I am planning out a Daniel Boone and Lewis & Clark refresher. then into the Westward Expansion this school season, then the Civil War next season. We could work them both this year, but I’m afraid we will just miss too many good things trying to lump them both together. The Civil War can easily take us the majority of the year, and 20 weeks/5-6 months seems such a short time frame. Same with Daniel Boone, Lewis & Clark, The Gold Rush, Westward Expansion…there’s just so many projects and so many adventures waiting in those topics, kwim?

General Notes:


The blogging will increase. Yeah, I know you’ve heard that before from here. I’m serious this time. I love Facebook, it’s a great tool for keeping in contact with friends and family. It’s so easy…that’s part of the problem really. I can grab up my phone and visit with friends, share in their day, keep up with prayer needs. Blogging takes a more concerted effort. I have to grab the computer or the iPad and get logged in. That brings along the various bunny trails I inevitably begin to follow, and before you know it I’ve lost some serious time in my day. I can do that with Facebook too, but I tend to use that venue in more of a snatch-n-grab style, as opposed to sitting down with a glass of sweet tea, getting comfortable, and playing with the iPad. I miss those old Homestead Blogger days, but I spent a lot of time getting lost among the blog fields back then :-) However, despite my own shortcomings in being disciplined with ‘all the world at my fingertips,’I want to get back to blogging. I want to recapture a bit of those care-free days I no longer seem to access thru Facebook.

Wait…What did I hear you say? I just want a larger format for passing along my rambled, often jumbled, incoherent thoughts? Ok. You got me there. Y’all know me so well :-)


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