Venturing Outside

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Something that can be hard to remember for a book-loving introvert, is to go outside, everyday (and walking between your car and house, work, store, church, does NOT count). I do remember to send my kids outside every day. I’m a big believer in the many valuable effects of playing outside. And living in the Mountain West, we get plenty of days of sunshine, so I can send them out all but 1 or 2 days a month.

But while my kids are joyfully playing in the sunshine, I’m usually seizing the moment to clean or prep something, or to write, budget, email, anything I need to do to get caught up. I have a few precious moments not being taken by the kids, so I usually keep them to myself.

But not today. Today I tackled a mountain of weeds in my garden that were taller than my kids, and I conquered them. I ventured out into the sun and the heat (it’s not bad today, only 83 degrees, with a nice breeze) with my sunhat and my pink gloves, and I waged war with that mountain. And I won! The best part? I got them before most of them went to seed, Yay!

I’m feeling good, and maybe I’ll have some autumn vegetables planted in a few weeks. I should really go outside more often.

Now back to my desk and that blog…

Blessings,
Sarah

Cloudy Head Day

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If wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

If horses were wishes, the West would never be won.

 

I feel like Hiro (from Disney’s Big Hero 6) today. “Nothing! Stupid, useless, empty brain.” Guess I need to change my perspective…

Actually, my brain is not empty, it’s so full of thoughts and ideas, and half completed posts that I can’t focus on any one long enough to complete it. It’s just a low energy, head-achy kind of day. My kids feel it too, they are cranky and arguing more, restless and difficult today. So no good advice today, no epiphanies, no well-researched articles are going to get finished today.

Just an honest admittance that everyone has these days. Mama said there’d be days like this…

How I Survive the Summer with Kids

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Hi there!

One thing I really like about summer, is that my house is cleaner than any other time of year; not because I clean more (I am Not the best housewife), but because my kids clean more. (Woohoo!!)

A few years ago I ran into a great post on Pinterest on how one mom kept her kids from driving her nuts during the summer. She started her own summer camp. I loved the idea and ran with it, researching a few different methods and finally coming up with my own.

I have 7 categories of task that each kid can accomplish. Depending on their ages, they have to do 3, 5, or all 7 of the tasks. Each task is made more difficult as each kid grows older. I give them a checklist that they can check off the tasks as they complete them.

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If they want anything beyond the necessities from me, they have to complete their daily number of required tasks. So when they come asking to play Wii (or any other computer/video game), I ask, “Have you finished your checklist?” The same goes for when they want to do any activity that requires making a mess or adult supervision.

The 7 categories are as follow:

  1. TIDY UP YOUR ROOM: Make your bed, dirty clothes in hamper, clean clothes in drawers, stuff put away
  2. READING: Pick a book from the library books or from the bookshelves
  3. WRITING: Write a page in your journal, write a story, write about what happened yesterday
  4. EXERCISE: Go Outside! Do a physical activity, run a race, or play a sport in the backyard, bounce on the trampoline
  5. BRAIN WORK: Exercise your brain by doing a page or worksheet in math, science, history, another language, etc.
  6. GOSPEL STUDY: Study a gospel topic or read your scriptures for a set amount of time
  7. HELP THE HOME: Do a chore to help out – sweep the kitchen, vacuum a room, clean the bathroom mirrors and sinks, load or unload the dishwasher

This system has helped me to have a little less chaos during the restless summer months, especially as kids of all ages (from our first marriages) rotate in and out of the house. Regardless of age, when the kids have something to do, they spend MUCH less time creating trouble. And this helps them learn good habits. AND my house gets much cleaner! Hehehe.

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Thanks for reading my post. I hope you picked up something you can use. Please feel free to comment with ideas that help you through the summers.

Blessings,
Sarah

 

My 2017-2018 Curriculum Plan

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Hi there!

So school is about to start and I’m spending time putting together my lesson plan and gearing up for school to start. We’re starting early this year to coincide with the kids’ new “Monday school.” Monday school is a one day a week enrichment program for homeschoolers in my area, where the kids get to do Art, PE, and other classes I don’t usually focus on. I am better at teaching the “core” curriculum, so Monday school is perfect for balancing my kiddos out.

I am definitely more of a classical method teacher than a crafty teacher. I have often beat myself up over not being able to help my kids get creatively messy. But it’s just NOT one of my strengths. So I was VERY grateful to find this enrichment program. Now my kiddos get social skills and messy and creative, and I don’t have to clean it up! (Heehee, Woohoo!)

Anyway, this is my 3rd year homeschooling and I’m just starting to get into a routine that I like. Though I realize that will be turned upside down by adding my kindergartner.

My oldest homeschooled kid is starting Second Grade and we are both excited for the new year. I’ve decided to use the following books for my core subjects this year:

For Scripture Study, we will be reading through the New Testament, I have a manual from Sunday School (Primary 7) that I use to hit the highlights and teach the gospel topics. The picture shows the Old Testament book (Primary 6) because we haven’t received the New Testament book yet (see my note in the next paragraph about being a bit behind my plan). I chose Old Testament last year to coordinate (loosely) with the History curriculum, which started with Ancient Times. So this year we will continue forward in time.

For History, we will continue using Story of the World. We will start on Volume 2: The Middle Ages in October or November. We moved across the country last November so we fell behind quite a bit. I had hoped we would get more done during the summer, but it’s summer… I let go of stressing about it months ago. After all, this is part of why we homeschool. We don’t have to be slaves to a book’s beginning and ending. This year should be much more stable so I expect we’ll make good progress.
(On a side note, while we were packing and moving and unpacking, we were using unit studies and life lessons on the days that we could.)

For Language Arts, we are using 2 different books; for Grammar we’re studying First Language Lessons, and for Spelling we’re using All About Spelling Level 2.

For Math, I’m trying out Lessons For a Living Education. I wanted a curriculum that balanced worksheets with real world examples and this seems to do it nicely. It also doesn’t overwhelm my kiddo with dozens of practice problems. It has a nice balance between practicing new skills and reviewing old ones. So far my son really likes it. And he can do it mostly independently, so I like it too. This is the first time I’ve stuck with a Math curriculum for more than a week, so I’m very pleased with it (we’ve been using it since April).

This year I’ve decided to add something new into the mix, with Manners Made Easy For the Family: 365 Timeless Etiquette Tips for Every Occasion. I’m going to try one tip per week and see how it works. Also for Life Skills, each child has a chore to do for the home (on top of keeping their room and bed tidy). I’ll do another post on how I do this later.

Of course, all of my kids will be expected to read to himself each day and sit and listen while I read-aloud. This year we are going to start with Aesop’s Fables and then move to Fairy Tales as we get further into the middle ages.

For my kindergartner, I’m still not going to do a full schedule. But for her part-day, 5-10 minute lessons, I am going to have her join us for Scripture Study, History, and Manners. Then we’ll work on Handwriting and an occasional All About Spelling (Level 1) lesson for Language Arts. One thing I really like about All About Spelling is that I can help her learn how to spell without her having to write the words. Her handwriting is struggling quite a bit, but the tiles AAS uses helps her learn the methods and rules without requiring her fine motor skills to be perfect. We’ll round out the plan with Math games or manipulatives.

My toddler preschooler will join us when he feels like it. I have books and busy boxes for him when he feels like hanging out in the school room with us. He wants to be close to us most of the time, but sometimes he wanders off into the play room for awhile.

(FYI: For your convenience I’ve linked to the sites for the curriculum I use, so you can research them more if you like. But I don’t get anything if you follow the links, so I don’t have a “disclosure policy.”)

So there it is, I’ll do another post later on how I organize my kids to be more independent, as well as one on how I organize myself. But this is enough for now.

Good Luck and God Bless on your journey! And please feel free to add your comments below on what works for you.

Blessings!
Sarah

Parenting and Tempers Don’t Mix Well

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So I’ve been researching how to parent better for over a decade now (see my previous post, I Have Difficult Children), it’s an ongoing thing. Anyway yesterday I was reading a great article about keeping calm when doling out consequences (The Distracted Mom) and remembering the advice received in the parenting class I had to take after my dear boy, Aagh was diagnosed with O.D.D. (Oppositional Defiant Disorder). I took the class back in February, so I had practiced the methods that The Distracted Mom described. And I have seen them work.

However, I am not good at keeping my cool on a day-to-day basis. More often than I’d like to admit, I am frustrated with myself for hollering at the kids, again. So, I’m working on it. But I’m still human, last I checked.

Feel free to comment with your commiserations and/or techniques for keeping cool.

Thanks again!

Sarah

I Have Difficult Children

 

So I’m the mother of a blended family. Yup, I failed my first marriage, utterly, pretty ugly. Anyway, I had one son from my first husband, a very bright, energetic boy (some of you already know where this is going), who used every tool in his arsenal to test my newly-developed mothering skills. As payback for us getting divorced at 2, he learned to hold his stools, creating a years long dance with toilet training and constipation. Yay! …

Once we got through that (just have patience with yourself, it WILL end eventually… right? 😉 ), my amazing boy, who we’re going to nickname AAGH!, had to enter kindergarten. — Actually, we weren’t all the way through the potty training when kindergarten started, imagine calls from the principal that he needed to go home early because he smelled… Such fun! — Anyway, my dear Aagh retained his bright, energetic nature and landed himself in so many suspensions that I honestly thought he was going to be expelled… from KINDERGARTEN!

We’re going to let that one sit for a minute. Wow.

This, by the way, is when I seriously started considering homeschooling.

Yeah… so anyway, and anyway, and anyway (as my dear Aagh used to say at the long-gone adorable age of 3), we have somehow all managed to survive elementary school with the lovely new diagnoses of ODD, ADHD, and Major Depressive Disorder, all my son’s. And surprisingly, other than more wrinkles than I should have at my age, I can honestly say I’m a better mom and person in general than when we started this journey.

Granted I still lose my cool more often than I’d like. But in general I’m a better person. I have to say I couldn’t have survived without my Savior. I leaned on Him when exhausted, cried to Him when in deepest despair, and prayed constantly when lost for ideas. Nothing He has asked me to do has been easy , but it has all brought me more peace, joy, love, and a greater understanding and liking of myself.

Up next… Middle School!! AAAHHHH!