Friday, December 30, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week…
We have had the week off from homeschooling, from ballet and from work. We did have guitar lessons, a birthday party, a sleepover to attend and the heater tuned up.

We basically were as lazy as possible.
In our homeschool this week…
We have had the past two week off from school. We will start back up on Monday.
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
I have learned over the years that it is better to take time off during the holidays than to try to work through weeks that you know are going to be very busy or stressful. That time off will pay for itself several times over.
My favorite thing this week was…
Time to read for pleasure. I have really taken off this week -- no grading, no planning, nothing. And I refuse to feel guilty for it either. There will be plenty of time in January to catch up on my grading.

Things I’m working on…
No projects at the moment. But I am trying to be more organized with my blogs. This will be a work in progress though.
I’m reading…
Graveminder by Melissa Marr and Climbing Parnassus by Tracy Lee Simmons.

Thursday, December 29, 2011


The Nutcracker is finally over! Our lives have been taken over by rehearsals and then all the  performances. I love that my daughers really love the whole process and they love dancing in the productions, but all the work and driving back and forth just takes over our lives for a few months. Now things should settle back down to some semblance of normalcy. Whatever that might be.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Homeschool Mothers Journal (4)

In my life this week…
Halloween was fun, but so busy. Halloween being on Monday really threw a wrench in our school week though.  Oh well, go with the flow.

In our homeschool this week…
This week is just another shortened week due to Halloween. My older daughter is participating in NaNoWriMo this year, so she has been writing furiously. She worked through the workbook before and had her characters all planned and an outline of her novel ready to go.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
We are all about Nutcracker rehearsals these days. A large chunk of our weekends are being spent in ballet rehearsal. The girls love ballet and I love that they love it.  But as we get closer to Nutcracker season, the rehearsals start coming fast and furious. One plus, I have lots of reading time.

My favorite thing this week was…
Well, it was technically last week, but I really loved Milwaukee Ballet's Dracula on Saturday night.

Things I’m working on…
I'm working on giving myself a break. I am trying to give up some of the pressure I put on myself to be constantly "caught up" on all the grading and planning for our homeschool. The planning is pretty much done for this year, but the grading is never-ending.

I’m reading…
Bunheads by Sophie Flack and Stasiland by Anna Funder. I just finished The Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman and I really liked that one.

I’m cooking…
ha! As if. (My husband does most of the cooking around here.)

I’m grateful for…
my husband - for being such a kid and loving Halloween as much as the kids. Also, he indulges me when it comes to books and technology. Gotta love that.

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal (3)

In our homeschool this week…
We are finally getting into a routine for this year. This was our first full week of school. We are adjusting to our new schedule and I've added weekly chore lists to the routine instead of just randomly assigning chores as needed.

I am inspired by…
my homeschooling friends.
Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…
My daughters have auditions for The Nutcracker this weekend. They get so excited every year.

My favorite thing this week was…
My new Erin Condren planner!  I had to go back to my own planner -- I just cannot do the homeschool planner thing. I love my new planner! It has everything I need -- which includes tons of space for writing my schedules, to-do lists, etc. I know they are rather expensive, but I think they are totally worth it. I put some clear packing tape on the month tabs and it is holding up well.  This is the planner style I bought. I just love the quote on the front.

What’s working/not working for us…
For the last several years, I have printed out daily school lists for the kids. At first, this worked well, but as the kids have grown up, it has become just too much added work for me. So, this year, I made up lists of weekly assignments for each course and each kid is responsible for keeping track of what they worked on in their individual planners. So far, this is working pretty well. This gives me the freedom to grade their work when I have time rather than rushing around and being stressed each morning.  
I’m reading…
War and Peace (still)
A Feast for Crows
The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (long term reading project)

I’m grateful for…
our homeschool group. We had our first ever Mom's Night Out last night and it was so nice to sit around and just talk with other homeschooling moms. We made a point of not talking about the kids for the first couple of hours and just focusing on ourselves, eating some yummy snacks and drinking a lovely sangria.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined. ~Henry David Thoreau

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal (2)

In my life this week…
This week I'm just trying to relax emotionally as I prepare for our new school year. The oldest is finishing up his driving school classes, middle kid is finishing up summer ballet class, the youngest is reading - a lot.

In our homeschool this week…
I have been trying to get organized for the new school year and at the same time finish up the few remaining things for the current year -- we homeschool all year with short breaks throughout the year.  I'm doing some things differently this year and I am working on the kids' weekly schedules for the coming year.

Things I’m working on…
the kids' weekly schedules for the new school year. Organizing the school room.

I’m reading…
A Feast for Crows by George R.R. Martin
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
I’m grateful for…
the ability to homeschool my kids.  Gratitude for this hits me every year around this time.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Short break

I am sorry for my absence lately.  I have taken a break from some of my responsibilities so that I can focus on making plans for the new school year. Also, I need to give myself a bit of a break so I can get mentally ready for the new homeschool year. We have been doing this for eight years and I find I need a short rest before beginning the new school year since we school year-round.

Now that my youngest will be in fourth grade, we are trying something new regarding scheduling and I am creating weekly schedules for all of their courses. Updates coming soon.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Family Movie Night - Who is Simon Miller?

What a great idea! I just found out about NBC's upcoming family movie night feature "Who is Simon Miller". It looks like a lot of fun.

The Millers were an ordinary family living an ordinary life. That is, until the day Simon Miller went missing. Now wife Meredith, daughter Sarah and son Kevin must embark on a perilous mission to find him. But what they soon discover creates more questions than answers. This heart-pounding thriller takes you on a family's journey and tests the limits to which the Millers will fight for each other—putting their trust, loyalty and forgiveness to the test.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Paranormalcy: A review

Paranormalcy by Kiersten White
borrowed from library
Description from Goodreads:
Weird as it is working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency, Evie’s always thought of herself as normal. Sure, her best friend is mermaid, her ex-boyfriend is a faerie, she's falling for a shape-shifter, and she's the only person who can see through paranormals' glamours, but still. Normal

Only now paranormals are dying, and Evie's dreams are filled with haunting voices and mysterious prophecies. She soon realizes that there may be a link between her abilities and the sudden rash of deaths. Not only that, but she may very well be at the center of a dark faerie prophecy promising destruction to all paranormal creatures.

So much for normal

My thoughts:
There has been a lot of hype around this book.  I've had it on my YA to be read list for a while and I finally got around to reading it this weekend.  As with many YA books, it is a fast read. Personally, I like a fast read every once in a while.

The main character is Evie and she is cute, smart and funny. She also has the unique ability to be able to see through all the glamours of paranormals. This makes her extremely useful for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. Evie has grown up within the IPCA and this life is all she has known even though she wants to go to high school and have a (somewhat) normal life. She thinks she understands what the IPCA is about and why she works for them. Things are called into question when a shapeshifter appears in the agency and events cause Evie to begin questioning what she has always accepted as the truth.  I was happy to see that Evie is able to learn from her mistakes and takes her friendships seriously.  When Evie is presented with the opportunity to attend a high school for a day, she is downright giddy with the lockers, classes, the students, etc. It was quite amusing and endearing. 

I thought the way Evie's perceptions of the various paranormals is called into question and how she manages to start changing how she thinks about them is well done.  Since this is the first book in a series, I am hoping that exactly what Evie is and her role will be explained in the next books. The story is interesting enough and Evie is a charming enough main character that I will read the next book. I am curious to find out where White is going with the plot line as well as what she plans to do with the paranormals.

This book is pretty tame regarding boy/girl relationships and language and I would have no problem with my daughters reading it. In fact, one of the funny and endearing things is the way curse words are replaced by "bleep" and why. It is quite cute.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Planner and stuff

We have been homeschooling for eight years. We started when my oldest was in third grade and the younger two were a preschooler and a toddler. My oldest is now finishing up tenth grade. I have tried several different planners and a couple of different computer based school tracking systems.  I find that even though I now use Homeschool Tracker for keeping our records and printing daily lists, attendance, transcripts, etc., I still need a paper planner to visualize our schedules and various activities and to make notes on the run. 

This year I bought The Well Planned Day and I have been filling it with my schedules and plans for the rest of summer and next school year. I really like the format and that there is plenty of room to write notes and keep track of all the things my kids are involved in.  The only thing I think might be a useful addition would be pockets for loose papers, stamps, etc. I really like the shopping lists, the fact that there is room for four children and the holiday organization section.

I just recently found The Checklist by Cindy Downes at Oklahoma Homeschool.  It is exactly what the name implies -- a huge checklist of so many things I couldn't possibly list them all here.
I purchased the pdf version and printed it all out and put it into a binder. There is also a printed book format available.  I am finding it extremely useful now that I have a high schooler and we are looking ahead to college. This is a handy format for making sure I have covered everything I had planned. Now, of course, no one will cover everything on the list, but it is nice to have a way to see at a glance what still needs to be covered.

All products discussed were purchased by me.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

From my garden

The strawberry plants are blooming.

The catmint is beatiful. As promised, the ants hate it and stay out of the raised bed. The neighbor cats love it.

Potted marigolds.

The lettuce looks okay -- not great, but okay.
I am hoping the beans and potatoes do well.  Not much to look at yet, so no photos.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - 1

This is my first ever The Homeschool Mother's Journal entry! This lovely meme is hosted by The Homeschool Chick.

In our homeschool this week…
We are enjoying a slower pace in our homeschool. Even though we do schooling year-round, we are finishing up and taking time for fun stuff too. My oldest is in jazz camp for half a day for two weeks, so it's been kind of quiet around here.

My favorite thing this week was…
Due to our more relaxed pace, I have had so much more time for my own reading. I love that.

Questions/thoughts I have…
I've been thinking that I need to focus more of my reading time on reading the classic books I have been meaning to read and just haven't. It's time.

Things I’m working on…
I've been working on our school plans for next school year. 

I’m reading…
I'm reading A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin and The Priest's Graveyard by Ted Dekker.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Need more space!

I need more space to work on my homeschool planning, grading, etc. Our house is pretty small for a family of our size and I have no place of my own anymore for working.  I have been looking for ways to consolidate our books and supplies and make room for a desk for myself. I am thinking about this one.
It isn't too big and it looks simple and classic.  Now I just have to talk the husband into it and find a place for it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Summer is almost here - despite whatever the weather happens to be doing.  There will be lots of reading and some finishing up of curriculum, but I also hope to be doing a fair amount of just sitting outside and enjoying the sun.

I also expect that we will be doing a fair amount of hiking on some of the wonderful local hiking trails.

What do you have planned for summer?