Monday, September 12, 2011

Gratitude Journal - 311 - 320

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311. For starting our fourth week of school with everyone working together well.

312. For a successful and happy first day of co-op.

313. For walking approximately 735 miles during the first day of co-op. Woohoo for exercise!

314. For getting out of co-op, coming home, and getting our work finished for the day.

315. For a new CD that I am SO enjoying listening to! (And later this week, I want to share it with you and will be having a giveaway for it!)

316. For melatonin, which is helping me to sleep much better.

317.  For old memories with friends.  And the fact that EVERY SINGLE TIME I make anything with broccoli that requires chopping, I am suddenly 20 years old again, watching Dana Carvey sing about Chopping Broccoli on Saturday Night Live.  It's awesome to be all alone in the kitchen getting supper together and having an attack of the giggles that prompts a YouTube search.

318.  For the hilarity of a six year old singing "Dream On."  Over and over.  And over.

319.  For spending long hours cleaning this weekend and having a clean family room.  It was clean for all of about four hours.

320.  For it being nearly bedtime after a long day.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Week In Review - Weeks 2 and 3

Pin It So now we are three weeks in and have some of the kinks worked out!

I am giggling.  As I planned school for the oldest, there was one part of her curriculum that I felt iffy about.  I had decided we'd give it a try for a couple of weeks, then re-evaluate to see if we needed to skip that portion.

Would anyone care to guess what she told me her favorite part of her curriculum is?  LOL  Never fails, right?  Glad I ordered it.  Who would have guessed I would have a child who loves ... SHAKESPEARE of all things.  I think she only has a Shakespeare overview once or twice a week, but she really loves it.

In week 2, she studied The Tempest.
In week 3, she studied Midsummer Night's Dream.  (She is only halfway through this.)

This just fascinates me.  Those of you who I talked to through the years about my child who could read well but hated to read?  Never mind.  LOL  Sometime in the last couple of years, she decided that she really enjoyed reading.  Apparently even Shakespeare.  I loved reading, but I can't think of a single time I EVER said "hey!  I'd like to read some more Shakespeare!"  LOL

She has gone from Rome to Alexandria to Constantinople as she is studying history and geography.  Her curriculum has her do a bit of research on these cities every week and then write a postcard to a friend telling them about the city.  This is fabulous to me and I am really enjoying what she is learning and writing about.

She makes a timeline every week, starting where her curriculum from last year left off.  So far she has gone through Polycarp, to Constantine, to Theodosius, to Alaric the Visigoth.  I have no idea who most of those people are.  Maybe I should do some of her history with her!  She's in about 400 AD now.

She is enjoying some art as well.  This was her first time to use chalk, and we really liked the way this came out.


In science ... well, in all honesty, science is our weak area.  She's starting off in astronomy, and is learning about atmosphere, craters, and has been focused on Mercury.  I imagine most of the science learning she will do will come from co-op.  I am trying to make more of an effort with her in science.  We'll see how that goes!

The middle one has found her groove and is doing well with school.  She is writing her first paper in English, and I am finding it hysterical.  Bob Jones English has one grammar chapter and then one writing chapter.  This writing chapter was a compare and contrast essay.  I suggested cats and dogs, oranges and apples, tennis shoes and sandals, etc.  She chose to compare and contrast herself and her friend.  Um.  Okay.  She has really done well on her paper though, and I can't wait until she is finished with it so I can make a copy to give to her friend's mom.

In history, she is studying creation.  She is really enjoying Draw and Write Through History and has drawn some dinosaurs, early people, Noah's Ark, and her latest, cave drawing style wooly mammoths.

This topic is carried over into her science class, where she is studying the Ice Age.  I'm doing some of this along with her and we are finding it very interesting!  We are particularly enjoying this book:

We read it together and honestly are both finding it fascinating.  These are topics I have never thought about too deeply, so it's been fun learning it along with her.

She is also doing a timeline, and since her curriculum starts with creation, her timeline currently includes creation, Noah's Ark, and the tower of Babel.

She enjoyed painting using watercolors.  She was supposed to make a rainbow, and she did.  I like the smiling sun.


The little one is getting used to school too.  His kindergarten class is still reviewing things he already knows, which he enjoys telling me frequently.  ("Mama!  Ms. Russell already teached me this!")  He has learned a few sight words and is sounding out some new words, and he is having fun doing it.

He is enjoying his Heart of Dakota curriculum as well, and especially looks forward to reading about Reddy Fox every day.

The best part of his week, and the girls agree, is the snack time he gets every week.  The first week, he decorated cupcakes with his letter.  Let me tell you, it's tough to make a B out of sprinkles on the top of a cupcake!  The second week, he made a firetruck out of graham crackers, frosting, pretzels and gumdrops.  Week three was a traffic light out of graham crackers, frosting, and m&m's.  It's amazing how the girls' ears perk up from all over the house when the DVD says "Snack Time!"
It was firetruck day; see his fire hat?

Sister wants in on the firetruck action!

Now both sisters are making traffic lights.

(btw ... I am DELIGHTED to report that there is no longer a mattress set in the family room!  DELIGHTED.  House is back in order!)

This past week was rather hectic getting everything done with a bunch of extra activities thrown in, but somehow we managed.  I still can't say enough good things about the Heart of Dakota curricula we are using.  It has been such a blessing to us!

Co-op starts tomorrow, so next week's review will include co-op, day 1.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

If it's Monday, it's hamburger.

Pin It This whole summer I have felt out of control. Those of you who know me well probably know that this isn't a very good state for me. I don't have to be in control of everything and don't stress about (a lot of) things that simply are not in my control, but I really am much happier if the things that ARE in my control are well-controlled.

I had a major wake-up call a couple of weeks ago, when just for grins, I pulled up our Quicken spreadsheet and clicked on itemize by category. I glanced at the "Dining" category and just about fell over. Seriously, there was no more grinning, and quite a bit of shock at the total. Unbelievable how much money we had been spending on dining out. We went from a family who went out once every couple of weeks to a whole bunch of "I didn't plan anything tonight, so let's just go out."

Bad idea. The thing is - we are on the run a lot, especially during the school year. I was trying to make plans with a friend for a couple of her kids to come over and realized that we are running a LOT.

Mondays - co-op. Tuesdays - piano. Wednesday - church. Thursday - choir. Nothing Friday or Saturday, but usually we either have an extra child or one less child those nights. Sundays - church. With all of the busyness and running, there HAS to be a plan or it's the "we're already out in the car, let's just go to Jason's Deli." (I'm sure I have spoken of my deep deep love for Jason and his deli, right?) So, we're making changes. I want to have the meal situation under control, but still allow for some flexibility too.

Here's what we're trying out.

Breakfast - this has the most flexibility. Kids can choose from whatever we have. I do a big grocery trip every two weeks and buy two boxes of cereal, eggs, and oatmeal. Generally the cereal is gone first and then onto the other stuff.

Lunch - Jim is with us for lunch two or three days a week. On those days, we have hamburgers or chicken nuggets, and usually on Fridays, he makes a pizza or calzone. Other days are sandwiches, soup or ravioli, leftovers, or quesadillas. I think I would love to get an organization system for lunch but other than these options, I don't have it more scheduled. I'm not sure how well it would work, maybe I'll try to implement that soon.

Supper - this is where I have the most planning done. Every two weeks, I plan a menu out and make the grocery list and shop from that menu.

On Mondays that we have co-op, we need a crock pot meal for supper. It needs to be something that Jim can toss in while we're at co-op, before he goes to work. We get home from co-op and have half a day of school, and Jim works late, so Mondays are chaotic, I am worn out, and I need as little meal prep time as possible. On Mondays that we don't have co-op, it's some meal with hamburger. Spaghetti, tacos, lasagna, sloppy joes ... something along those lines.

Tuesdays, Jim also works late. Chick Fil A has their family night with two free kids' meals with every adult meal, so we do that once every two weeks. The next Tuesday is breakfast for supper. Everybody likes that, and it's pretty easy.

Wednesdays, we go to church. (Well - Jim and the kids go regularly. A lot of the time, I stay home. I feel bad doing that sometimes, but I get so little alone and quiet time, and I can have about 2 1/2 hours on Wednesdays if I stay home.) We do plan to eat at church, which I do realize is officially dining out. ;)

Thursdays, the girls have choir. This is a casserole, crock pot, or Jim cook night. Generally it's going to be something quick, and probably chicken. If I ever do the freezer restocking (AFTER hurricane season!) then we'll plan one of those meals for Thursday nights.

Fridays are "try a new recipe" night. I actually enjoy cooking and trying new things. :)

Saturdays are the nights that someone other than me chooses what we're having. This is usually a meat, potato or rice, and vegetable type meal. About half the time, Jim makes it.

Sunday nights the kids have church. Usually this is a crock pot night. I don't work in a church program any longer, but I do attend a Bible study when there is one offered, or do lesson plans if I'm at home. It is very convenient to throw something in the crock pot when we get home from church Sunday morning and then it's ready when the kids get home from church. Usually either Jim or I is at home, so we aren't exactly chained to the crock pot if there is something else that sounds good.

We got serious about this a few weeks ago. The last two week period went very well. No dining out! Then this past weekend came and well ... let's just not talk about that, mmkay? (In our defense - the oldest had a birthday. I took her out for lunch thinking we were making supper for her at home. Then Jim said he thought we were taking her out for supper, and well, who could turn that down? Apparently not me. LOL) In the ... ahem ... two days since then we've done very well. The menu is on the wall and we're following it. :)

So ... if anyone is interested, there are our meal plans. I'm happy to feel like we're taking control over the dining situation, and it's nice to have one less thing to think about.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Gratitude Journal - 301 - 310

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301. For rain, and lots of it ... and the ability to pray for rain for our neighbors to the north and west who so desperately need it.

302. For a successful second week of school. (Yep, I forgot to write up a weekly wrap-up post. I actually took pics and everything. I'll try to remember to combine weeks two and three and do that this week!)

303. For a "still needs bedding but otherwise complete" little boys room. And for the bunk beds that the little one and middle one think are ultra-cool and the easy bedtimes we've had since they have been installed. I am fully expecting the "new" to wear off pretty quickly, but in the meantime, I'm enjoying it!

304. For the world's easiest dog. She likes to be inside, in sight of her mat at all times. She does not want to be anywhere in the house where she can't see her mat. Sometimes I wonder about her a little, but for the most part, I'm just thankful that she is so easy.

305. For a nice, unexpected, visit with a friend yesterday morning. It was so nice to catch up with her!

306. For all three of my kids having birthday parties to attend this weekend. So great to share the birthday party love! (And so nice to not have one or two upset because SHE/HE got to go to a party and *I* didn't!)

307. For a fabulous first day as the mom of a teenager. :) Wow. How is that even possible? More on that later this week.

308. For the high temp of 74 degrees on Saturday. I know it will be back up to sauna level later this week, but it sure was nice to have a reminder that fall is indeed on the way. It probably won't get here until late November, but it IS coming!

309. For successfully taking control over one area of the finances and spending. Let's hope for that motivation to continue! It was just a baby step, but baby steps count, right?

310. For what feels like some renewed motivation in a couple of other areas, and that the Lord is faithful to provide motivation when we need it and ask for it. :) More on that later. Maybe. ;)

I will probably, if I remember, be linking up with www.aholyexperience.com today. Hop on over and read some other gratitude journals, and consider starting your own! It really is a blessing!