Homeschool Conference!!!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Look at all those beautiful little feet two people can create!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Looking for a way to keep your blog organized?

Try out a PLANNER!!!

Yeah, I know...novel idea...why didn't I think of it before???

I use a planner for our business, for my homeschooling and for our family life...but sadly never considering using one for my beloved blog.

Well, lucky for me April Starr
 
at The Flourishing Abode
did the work and is sweet enough to share it with all of us!

Let me tell you all about my experience with this wonderful little blog planner...

I had never considered the idea of having
an organized space for my thoughts, notes,
wishes, future dreams, etc. for my blog ~ 
until this handy little blog planner entered my life!

I recently joined
The Mosaic Reviews Team

and our first "assignment" was to choose from ten different blog planners.
THIS was NOT an easy decision!!!

But I finally chose the one that I knew would work best for me.
It is relatively simple, which is one of the reasons I loved it!
The other thing that appealed to me (Greatly!)
was the "feel" of the page!

I REALLY do LOVE my blog...so this spoke to me in a BIG way!!!



The Flourishing Abode

I love the fact that one page is all I need for an entire week!

Having this blog planner has given me new thoughts and new hope as I look at my blog and what I hope to do with it in the very near future.

And IF I utilize it to its fullest...
I will no longer be searching the napkins in my purse, 
the notes scribbled in every scattered notebook on my desk 
or the backs of envelopes that have all been desperately written on; 
for as some of you may readily agree-- 
there are times when the perfect thought just comes to you and it MUST be written down so as to never be forgotten!

I LOVE this planner...and honestly wouldn't change a thing about it!
AND if you need one more reason to love it...I have it for you!!!
IT'S FREE!!! How great is that???

Just click on this handy little link and VOILA...it can be yours with the simple click of your mouse!!!

A huge THANK YOU to April for her beautiful work!
I would also suggest taking a peek around her blog ~ but I will give you a warning ~ 
LEAVE PLENTY of TIME for yourself 'cause you are not going to want to leave!!!

Now if you'll excuse me... I have some blog planning to do! ;)

Monday, February 25, 2013

Where will I walk?






I find it fascinating that during the times I am in the midst of deep introspection 
regarding my passions, 
my purpose, 
my desires and my dreams...
that things such as these two little gems of thought cross my path...

I do not think this is happenstance, 
chance, or luck of the draw...

There are REASONS these came to me...
and 
now
it is time 
for me to decide...
Where will I walk?
What I am afraid of?
What is out there waiting for me...and what is it that is holding me back
from seeing places I've never seen before?

Time to take that first step...
Where
Will
I walk???

And what does this journey hold for me???
(to be honest, I'm feeling a little giddy...
I've always LOVED a great adventure,
and this may prove to be one of the greatest!)

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Chores and Agency...A match made in heaven!!!

This week came in as a rolling, thundering mess of a storm!!!
One that I was certain might drown me in a sea of tears.

I found myself in my office during the wee hours of Sunday morning sending emails to any and all that I had commitments to for the week...
my full intention was to erase EVERYTHING from my calendar...
and I was successful!
I know myself well enough to ACT when I feel I should, so I rushed to do as I felt....had I given it any extra time or thought, I'd have "chickened out" for fear of messing up someone else's schedule and life; I couldn't think about anyone else knowing that if I did, I would choose to just buck up and deal with the blows of this fierce storm.
Instead, I followed through with what I knew had to be done:

Co-Op classes - cancelled
Book Clubs - cancelled
Business meetings - cancelled
Reviews due - cancelled
Tax Appointment - cancelled

What relief I felt...
There have been too many RED FLAGS waving all around me,
yet I've had so little time to address ANY of them!

It was time to CHOOSE my family over all else!

The contention in my home has been at an ALL-Time High!!!
Really not good, considering my hubby is out of town working and I am here trying to put out all the fires alone...and while we are on that subject..
WHY???
WHY???
WHY???
Why do all the fires have to come while I am alone?

Why can't kids DUMP their problems on both of us together?
Why do they fling it all my direction?
Do I look Strong?
Do I look like I can handle all of this mud-slinging?
By the end of Sunday, which didn't come to a close for me until well after midnight,
I had HAD IT!

You would think I should feel blessed to know that two of my kiddos think I walk on water...
BUT when FIVE of them think you suck pond water...well, the feeling is a little less than blessed!!!

SO...
this week has taken on a new life!
With everything officially erased,
it is
high-time to do a little introspectin'
and a little re-assessing.
Time to dig in to the workings of this family
and the family schedule
and the chore schedule
all the STUFF
that makes a family work...
Time to figure out why ALL of my kiddos don't think I walk on water...
why several are out of sorts and if there was anything I could do to make a difference.

After my email madness in the wee hours,
I went in search of answers...
to the only place I know to really receive any answers that will make a difference.

And inspiration came...
hooray for me!
Had it not, I was strongly considering jumping off a bridge!  jk  ;)

So...the first thing to start with was to give a few choices!
I'm finding that my kids have quite the desire to exercise their agency, so time to find a way to put it into action.
I started with one area of our life that seems to cause me to be the DRILL SERGEANT and my kids to become whiny little turd-muffins who wish to argue with anything and everything that is asked of them...
I have always had a pretty good go with keeping a chore schedule that worked and was followed without too much drilling on my part...
But since our move, I cannot say that has been the case.
With kids getting bigger and busier, the "PLAN" I've used in the past failed miserably.
So, I tried to just assign things out as I saw necessary, this only resulted in whining, complaining and bickering.  Belly-aching DOES NOT do it for me!!!  And that seemed to be all I was receiving.

Back to my inspiration ~
LOVE it when I get some!!!

I felt impressed to write down ALL the chores that this family does to function well.
I made sure to include EVERYTHING I do in this list...something I've never done in the past!

My kids are forever telling me, "I ALWAYS have to do ALL the work around here."
When you hear that from one
after another
after another
after another...
the story loses any credibility with me...
that and the fact that I'm quite certain I do my fair share of work around this place!

Anyway, I gathered all my chicks in around me and told them they could choose to do any chores they wished as I read them aloud...
The smiles and snickers began almost immediately!
There was a place for each of our names on a poster board I had prepared for this occasion...as I read the chore, I would place it on a name...at first, my pile was stacking up as my kids sat and didn't offer to help too much...
THEN an amazing thing happened, they started saying things like,
"Well, I could do that one"
or "Yeah, give me that, I'll do it"
or quite possibly my favorite,
"Mom, you can't do all of those jobs, it's not fair, I'll take some!"
At the end of this entire process I began taping the little papers underneath their names...
as I was doing this I saw that my pile started to diminish ever so slightly and then a bit more and a bit more.

I still have a few chores left on my list that I'm not willing to do, such as
Cleaning up dog poop in the back yard...
the way I've decided to handle this one is simple and brilliant, if I do say so myself!!!
Dog poop duty will go to the Turd-Muffin of the day...
Cause it's quite fitting for the person being a turd to pick up the turds...don't ya think???
I'm thinking I will have handled many crucial issues in our family with one simple task...yep, brilliant!!!

So far so good...chores are happening, bickering and whining is not!

Maybe this agency thing isn't so bad after all!!!

Give it a shot, you might be pleased!  :)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dove Chocolate Lessons...

Don't you just LOVE the sweet little messages that adorn each yummy little piece of chocolate???
I sure do!
It's like a two for one...chocolate and a smile!

"Linger over chocolate longer"
This first one has me convinced...
I really SHOULD linger over this chocolate a little longer...
and with an invitation like that,
who I am to turn it down???

Okay...don't mind if I do...
lingering, savoring, indulging, and loving every single moment of it!

I think I shall have another
and another, but then that's it.












No more...
Okay, if you insist...
but just this last one!

As I unwrap the next tasty little morsel,
these words appear:

"Believe in those you love"

SMAAAAAAACK!!!

I have to say that this is the very first time I recall Chocolate ever slapping me right in the face!!!

And I'm down for the count,
speechless
and feeling quite like a heel!

I've never been stopped in my tracks by a piece of dark chocolate in quite such a way.
It has never caused me to have one of those "Oh Crap!" kind of moments...
honestly never thought a Lesson could be learned by eating chocolates.
And I don't think I would have expected it to be anything less than a tasty lesson, had I ever considered the possibility of such an occurrence!
Yes, I've learned the lesson that IF I eat too much of a good thing
not such good things will come as I try to sneak those jeans over my hips...
BUT
I'm willing to deal with such tragedies...
A girl has got to have her chocolates!

But this...
well,
I had to walk out to my sweet son, whom I had been
gently raking over the coals
and offer a true heart-felt apology to him.

He deserves for me to Believe in him
and I was too busy
questioning
and worrying
and, and, and
to really listen
and believe...

Fear was winning and the relationship we have was losing...

Thank you Dove Chocolate for the Smack and
for following it up with a bit of sweetness!


Walk with me...




What would it be like to walk a mile or two with the Savior? 
What would you say to him? 
What do think He would say to you? 
I suspect that He would want you to come away feeling better about yourself, 
more positive about your future 
and more love towards yourself and others. 
That's a pretty great way to feel!
 I really think that the invitation is always there to "take a walk by his side".  
Greg Olson

I love Greg Olson's work...

this was the perfect piece for my heart today.

As I have pondered these questions...

I don't know that I'd say anything, 
I don't know that I'd ask a single question...
I imagine that I would just listen 
and be still
and soak in the peace that I know would be present...
just as it is now while looking at this painting.

I am grateful for "the walk" I've shared with Him today...


Saturday, February 9, 2013

The world is our classroom!


If I didn't already homeschool my kiddos,
this photo just might push me right over 
that teetering edge of "Should I - Shouldn't I"!

My heart smiles as I look at this ~
WHY?
Well,
this is what I can offer to my children 
EVERY SINGLE DAY!!!

No I can't take them EVERYWHERE 
in the world...
BUT
I can help them to FEEL LIKE THEY ARE THERE!
I can help to bring things to life for them...
I can help them to dream and to believe...
I can help them see 
the beauty, majesty and wonder of the vast creations of this world...

Yes, 
we have a FABULOUS
classroom
in our home...
filled with all the "Things" 
you would expect to find in a classroom.

But 
it is NEVER
limited to just that room!

If we feel like 
digging in to all that the study of ocean life holds
we can!
AND THEN
if we really wish to,
we'll just climb in the car
and head to the nearest ocean 
to soak it up first hand;
and if that seems out of our reach ~ 
well we'll settle for a trip to an aquarium.

Same goes with anything put before us...
Lewis and Clark Expedition???
You bet...
let's hit the road 
with a cooler in hand filled with all the sandwich fixin's necessary 
and go check it out...
WHEN we go out and see and touch and visit these places
my kids feel it,
they know it,
it becomes REAL to them...

It's FANTASTIC to read about it
or to see it on a screen.

BUT 
to REALLY see it...
THAT is using the world as your classroom!

To take the time to learn the ins and outs of Spelunking is great!
But let me tell you when I pose the question to my kids,
"How would you all like to try your hand at being a speleologist?" 
I have them!!!
Their interest is piqued...
It becomes an adventure in the making!

Memories are made when we 
go out and explore those caves...
when, with flashlights in hand,
we journey inside to check out the vastness 
or get down on all fours to crawl through the tiniest of places...
The lessons learned are innumerable...

Why are there puddles in this part of the cave and rocks in another part?
Why is it so cold?
Do bats live in here?
Did people ever live here?
Who found this cave?
How long has it been here?
Are there other caves that haven't been found?
Why do some caves have those hangy-down things and others don't?
Why are some filled with ice?
Can we explore a water cave?
How many different kinds of caves are there?
Just HOW did these caves become caves?
What made it happen and when did it happen?
Are new caves being formed or is this it, are we done with cave making?

Just by taking our kids on these mini-adventures,
we've opened a whole new world for them...
They are filled with questions and thoughts.
They have the opportunity to learn all that they may desire
and I will help to feed and fuel that desire in any way possible.

 I love that I have this room to educate our children in!  

I am grateful for our tables and chairs and white boards and screens
and the many, many items that make homeschooling
a snap to do each day...

But the moments I am 
most grateful for
are the times that we
use the world as our classroom and leave all else behind!


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Stay Strong Momma...

Wow...

Life is just full of refining moments!

I am breathing deeply and calmly and trying to give myself a gentle pat on the back for standing for what I know I must do as the Mom of this family.

It is sooooo hard to be strong and to stand firm on the issues that are just worth standing up for, especially when kids just cannot seem to understand or see why certain things matter.

I have a son, actually three of them,
that are amazing motorcycle and downhill bike riders...
this is a wonderful blessing to them
while at the same time being a horrid curse.

WHY???

Well, for the simple reason that most all of the "RACES" that really mean anything are held on Sundays.
Sunday is a sacred day for our family...
and it is being CHALLENGED
in a very ugly manner.

I am staying strong,
because I believe with all of my heart that our Sundays need to be a day for our family,
a day for attending church,
a day of reprieve from the rest of the week...
It's the one day of the week that I get all of 'em to myself!
Life is so busy and so full and they are all running this way and that way and I can't keep up.  Sunday is our day to catch up with one another and to enjoy our time together, it's my day to just have all my little chicks safely under my wing.
It's my happy place
and by darn it...
they (whomever "they" are)
have the need to put all of this exciting stuff on this special day.

My boys,
especially one of them at this point,
who is way too good for his own good,
is fighting us in a big way...he is still respectful, but just does not get why we have to limit him...why our beliefs have to limit his choices.

He just wants to be racing,
he believes that if we would let him do the whole "circuit" he could be top in his class or next to...and without doing the entire circuit he doesn't stand a chance...
he feels like our choices are ruining his life!

aauugghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!

He doesn't feel that I am listening to him
or hearing him
or that I care about what he wants.

And
my dear hubby
is away for work...
so it's just me
here
trying to hold it all together.
Trying to reach this sweet boy of mine
who is so frustrated with me.
Right now this is the ONLY thing in the world that he really loves or dreams of doing...

am I dashing his dreams?
am I holding him back?
am I doing the right thing?

How would you explain to your son that Sunday is just a different day and you really wish to keep it special?
Would you give in?
Would you Stand Strong?
Would you go and be the Momma on the side of the track rooting for your boys?
Or would you just tell them how much you love them and for that reason you must not give in?
 How do you explain to teenagers that you, their Mom, know what is best for them?
They think they know it all
and you just don't get it...

Oh my gosh!!!
I would LOVE your help, your ideas, your suggestions...
Please take a moment and share your thoughts with this mom who just doesn't know all the answers right now!
If you can solve all my problems, I promise I'll bake you a delicious batch of cookies...


Saturday, February 2, 2013

“THIS MOM IS ON OVERLOAD!!!”


Have you ever uttered these words . . . or screamed them out loud???

If you are a homeschooling mother, this may feel quite familiar -- rest assured, you are not alone!

Burnout, or Mother Overload, may be the one downside to homeschooling.  
Does it happen to everyone?  
Does it happen every year?  
Does it only happen to those who are new to the homeschooling lifestyle?  
How can you cope and how can you prevent it?

Nearly every homeschooling mom has experienced burnout to some degree.  Many of us feel as though we’ve reached the end of our rope, we wonder if our homes will ever run smoothly, and if we’ll ever really be able to keep our schedule while keeping the house clean and keeping kids somewhat happy.  
The job of homeschooling is NOT for wimps!

We’ve been at this homeschooling business for as long as I can remember.  
I don’t believe that every year has to hold a burnout period, or that we need to feel overloaded, BUT, it does happen, and when it does, it feels BIG and UGLY!  
So, what can you do to overcome this little phase?  
How can you cope?  
More importantly, how can you prevent it?

I think it is imperative to first identify the causes. 

We all have stressful situations to deal with; some are non-negotiable and out of our control, while others are within our ability to control and change if need be.  Take a look at your life . . . are you enjoying your job?  Do you enjoy your time with your kiddos?  Do you look forward to the day ahead of you?  Are you excited about what is on your plate of learning and teaching?  Do you feel like you’ve got it under control?  Are you satisfied with the balance in your home, family and school? 

If you answered NO to any or all of these, you probably need to take a deep look and see what needs a little mending.

If you feel as though you have no sense of priority, if everything feels out of control, if you agonize over what to teach your children each day, if you just want it to all go away, if you dream of waving goodbye to your darling children as they board that big yellow bus . . . now is the time to kick burnout and take your life back!!!

Burnout feels horrible, BUT I’d like you to look at it as a GOOD thing; while it is unpleasant and difficult, it is also a beautiful flashing red signal begging you to pay attention and consider making a few minor changes.  It’s your wake up call, if you will; it is a second chance just waiting to be taken.

Often times, the answer is quite simple . . . if you are feeling stressed and overloaded, you may just be doing too much.   
Are you overscheduling yourself and your kids?  
Do you have unrealistic expectations, again of yourself and your kids?  
Too many commitments, perhaps?  
Is your curriculum too rigid and time consuming?  
Do you feel more like crying than laughing?

My suggestions would be to consider adjusting your expectations of yourself and your kids, if necessary.  I would also suggest that being a little more flexible, adding in a game here and there, throwing out a school day and replacing it with a play day, a cooking day, or a day outside enjoying all that nature has to share with us--might just do the trick.  I am a firm believer that we, the moms of our families, must LOVE what we are doing . . . we really should love our job!  If we aren’t, we need to change our teaching style, our routine, our curriculum . . . don’t limit yourself!  Dream big and make amazing things happen with your kiddos!

You can be successful at knocking burnout by just taking a little time for you.  Plan some fun activities outside of your home with your kids . . . do ANYTHING that will make you laugh!  Laughter opens up your brain and fills your heart and rekindles that fire that has felt burned out.  It reminds you of why you started homeschooling in the first place, and gives you a great reason to not give up!  Because we all need to remember that one thing that’s so easy to forget when we’re feeling overwhelmed with it all—that we’re here to have JOY in the JOURNEY.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Those Greeks knew how to do it!!!

After a very joyous month of learning about the Ancient Greeks, the geography of Greece, the Greek Gods and Goddesses, the architecture, and the customs and cultures of the various city-states...

it was time to have a PARTY!!!!

~ Greek Style ~ 

Togas?  
Well, Of COURSE!!!











Pictured here are my four youngest kiddos...
the only ones I could actually get into a toga...
the other ones couldn't believe I would PROMOTE wearing togas...
hehehehe...
it's all good and innocent and fun!
If you are wondering what my little guy is doing ~
 he is depicting "The Thinker"

~ we all laughed because he decided to go with a little clothing instead of doing it in the buff!!!










Food?
What would a party be without food?




















This amazing layout of Greek foods included:
Chicken Souvlaki
Greek Festival Lemon Rice Pilaf
Greek Potatoes
Greek Salad
Pitas and Hummus
Falafels and Tzatziki
Dolmades
Figs and Dates and Grapes
and to top it all off ~ Baklava!

I'm tellin' ya...THIS was some fabulous food!!!!!
The Greeks know how to eat!



Music and Dance?
YOU know it!!!  Again, what good would a party be without music and dancing???












We threw in a little learning time ~

We had a Greek Herb Identification Station...


We had several dried herbs for them to see and 5 bottles of oils (also herbs) for them to smell.  The task before them was to do their best to identify what they saw or smelled.






Little noses were turned up here and there as they sniffed,
many were surprised by the contents.
It was fun to see how many of the herbs were familiar to the kids...great exercise!!!
I, for one, might never tire of such savory sniffs...yum, yum, yum!!!



All parties need a little creating ~
Each of the kids tried their hand at decorating Greek Pottery...













The pottery of the Greeks was painted showing significant historical events,
it often included paintings of their gods or goddesses,
and was full of geometric designs.
We decided to use Paint Pens, rather than messy paint and brushes.
Clean up was a cinch!!!
Paint pens and small terra cotta pots ~ PERFECT combination!











Their designs were so varied and so fun...
it was fantastic to see the work that they put into these!!! Kids LOVE to be creative!

They also had the opportunity to make Greek Theater Masks ~
one for comedy and one for tragedy...
again ~ they came up with some great designs!












I have to admit, I am feeling just a little sad to move on...
the study of the Ancient Greeks was fascinating, to say the least!

We enjoyed our time with all our co-op friends who meet with us twice a week ~
these days make learning a BLAST!!!

I think Zeus and Apollo will be favorites here for years to come...
And we'll probably always reflect back to what we've learned about the architecture of the Greeks...it surrounds us!

The influence that the Ancient Greek Civilization has had on the Western Civilization abounds ~
so many gifts were handed down to us:
to name just a few...
The OLYMPICS
Theatre ~ Comedy, Tragedy, Satire
Greek Columns and Architecture
Fables, legends and myths ~ we had a great time reading through many of Aesop's Fables ~ the best part of spending time in these fables was the opportunity to dig into the "moral of the story" and how significant they can be!
Trial by Jury
Roots of Democracy
and ancient inventions such as the ice house -- the first being built by Alexander the Great!

Time to switch gears a little and dig into CHINA...
What would February be without a little China New Year Celebration???

I really do have the BEST JOB EVER!!!