Saturday, January 30, 2010

Living with lists

Homeschooling 2 and 1/2 children in a formal way requires so much more organisation than unschooling 1, occasionally 2, children. I have to admit to not having a great habit of remembering all the things I need to do in the areas of home maintenance and in organising our school days. I am in the process of making myself lots of check lists. To make them more visual I am even adding pictures. My addled brain needs the promptings on bad days.

I have one child who remembers routines and rules after only a couple of repetitions. The others of us just live each day, sometimes even each moment, as it comes and we don't always achieve much beyond minimum survival. I don't like living this way so it is off to create another list and laminate it to stick up somewhere.

Just for fun here is our bathroom list.

I have more. lol The homeschool scheduling list is 3 pages. I may just include a page for fun too.

See, fun, huh? But it seems that is the only way I can make sure I get as much done as possible. It isn't always everything, but it sure covers a lot more than I remember on my own.

Best wishes
Jen in Oz

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Work before play will pay!

School is starting to roll along nicely. I am finding it a challenge in a nice way to juggle all the boys' needs. So far play dough is working well for keeping my toddler occupied. lol

Today we lost 2 hours to a doctor's visit but still managed to get a decent amount of maths done. Tomorrow I hope to get both maths and language arts done.

Mike, my eldest at 11yo, is struggling with understanding why he must buckle down and get some serious work done this year in all areas. These past few years it has been easy enough to only do what school the boys have felt like doing. I have let it go on the basis that we were unschooling (not my first choice) while we dealt with other life issues, but I am seeing that while my boys are still learning and gaining skills I do not see much enthusiasm in them for some of the vital skills they will need to give them options for their future.

I am learning for myself that life is not always about what we feel like doing, or what we like to do. I am learning the hard way that life is more about working to provide for our families (be it as an income earner, or working as a mother providing meals and clean clothes etc due to her home duties). Entertainment, doing what we feel like, even eating what we feel like is not the main goal here. If anything I have found that there ends up being a cost to pursuing these without thoughts to our work first. The cost is both in moral fibre (character/self discipline/sense of duty) and in our physical lives through bad health, bad financial situations and lack of self control.

In my family my boys (and I) need to learn to focus on disciplining ourselves to do what we need to do first before we do what we want to do. By exercising our mental muscles we will have more options to experience fun things later in life, and we will have the pleasure of good character, knowing we have done our best, rather than the weight of guilt of not doing what is needed.

My health is improving recently due to some major dental surgery. I have a plan in place with my GP to further improve my physical and mental health. This is my time, now, to make a difference in both my own life and that of my children. It won't be easy, but then, from what I read, easy is not always the best way anyway.

Best wishes
Jen in Oz

Saturday, January 23, 2010

My Plan for School Days

My school year started this last week. We spent some time tidying up our binders and school boxes. I haven't always dated art work, big regret! But at least it is now in a box ready to be sorted and culled at the end of the year.

I have sat down with my two older boys, 11yo and almost 8yo, and explained my goals for them for the year. My eldest, M, was shocked at first that I expected him to get thru Singapore Maths 3A, 3B, 4A and 4B this year, but he was really quite pleased with the challenge of doing 7 lessons a week. I know he knows most of the work in these books.

I try to teach my kids maths principles a lot as we come across them in real life. I love maths! (Yup, loved chemistry, physics and accounting too, but wasn't always great at those like I was at Trig, Calc and Algebra.) He may not have "seen" this maths before but I am sure he will do quite well with the goals I have set.

This semester the goals have been decided by me but I am hoping that as the year develops that M will start to set his own goals to work towards.

Another "fun" thing I have done this week with regards to school is to work out a rotation for our subjects, making sure each covers the basics in the order best for them, and with breaks between "tough" subjects.

I like the Classical method so most of my curriculum is from Peace Hill Press. FLL is First Language Lessons Lvl 1 and 2. I use Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading for phonics and have added Sequential Spelling Level 1 and Writing With Ease for my eldest.

Seeing as he taught himself to read and really didn't take to phonics, spelling and composition are going to be interesting subjects this year.

Here is our second page.

I hope these images can be viewed clearly once I publish this. For now they at least give an idea of how I spent well over 4 hours. lol

This whole organising caper is really very full on - what with being a home manager and a home schooling mum. Some days it feels like my head is spinning but it does seem to be coming together. I really hope this year turns out as well as I would like.

Best wishes
Jen in Oz

Friday, January 22, 2010

Extremely hot!

It has been very hot here the last few days. I managed to keep all my flowers alive, and surprisingly, my new lettuce seedlings survived too. The kids and I have been living in the 2 air-conditioned rooms during the day. Lucky dh works in air-con so he has just been working late. lol

It is days like these that I appreciate the owner of this house planting many trees in the backyard. It has been cool enough for the boys to go out and play for short periods and I don't have to worry about sunburn.

Well, it is time to go get dinner. There is no way I am cooking.

Best wishes
Jen in Oz

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

My views on some books I am reading.

I am currently reading a couple of books in tandem. I can't seem to just read one at a time.

I am slowly reading my way thoroughly through Raising Godly Tomatoes by L. Elizabeth Krueger. I have read her ideas for quite some time but haven't really felt confident I could implement them. Now I have reached the point in my life where I have realised that I really need to study those who are further along in this journey of parenting. Doing it on my own, my way, is not going so well. (wry grin!)

I am quite an introvert and the thought of having 4 children right under my feet as I "tomato stake" them was overwhelming. Now though I am realising that I do myself and them a disservice by not training them and I need to be near them at all times to really train them well. The things that bug me as an introvert could also be the things that will hold them back socially in the future so I am trying to teach them to not endlessly and mindlessly chatter. I am training them to not interupt each other and to also think though what they want to say before they say it so their communication is clear. It is only early days but I am hopeful.

Check out here to read more on Elizabeth's ideas.

Another book I am reading is How to be Comfy by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming. This is an Australian publication and while I thought it would be great to read something more local I am finding it just doesn't have much guts.

I have a couple of other books I have read on making a house a home. My favourite would be Designing Your Home on a Budget by Emilie Barnes and Yoli Brogger. There are some great designing tips in there and I have enjoyed gradually changing my home from functional to functional and pretty. Smart Organising by Sandra Felton (at time of posting was only US$2.99, $10 off RRP) was a big help too in changing from clutter to more functional. Home Sweeter Home by Jann Mitchell was more about creating a home that was filled with spirit. It was my first book and I have kept it despite buying it many years ago and since reading many more books in the same vein.

Anything by Emilie Barnes is good for those starting out but as a Type A personality there just wasn't much in her books that I haven't already implemented on my own with personal inspiration.

While on the topic of making a house a home, it seems to me that once we are comfortable within our space we will hopefully be more comfortable inviting others in to share that space. A Life That Says Welcome by Karen Ehman is an awesome book on how to be confident in being hospitable. Her book really makes me feel that I don't have to have it all designer magazine perfect, but comfort and the spirit of hospitality is more important. A great read!

By the way, most of the above books were purchased from ChristianBook, although not are available there now. That place is dangerous, in a good way, for those of us who love books. Their shipping prices to Australia are good, and they have always delivered quite quickly too. They carry loads of great books, even homeschool curriculum. Ahh, yes, a dangerous place!! lol

Best wishes

This year so far!

To date this has been a particularly productive year.

I have
* defrosted my monster of an old chest freezer (the boys loved the "snow"),
* pulled some of the virulent weeds in my large backyard (still need to do some more),
* organised a more efficient way of checking blogs,
* made some new friends,
* learnt more about getting a place of our own (which we can't, so a-renting we will go, hi ho the merry-o for another year or two),
* set some goals with my weight and health,
* started to work on the above goals,
*started the baby steps of getting my boys into a routine that will help school go more smoothly when we start back in 1.5 weeks.

I still need to do some tweaking in HST+ for maths but most of our other subjects should be just ready to schedule and go. Hmm, that is something I need to check on soon. I also would like to do a bulk chicken purchase (gotta refill that freezer) and look into a hindquarter of beef too.

I hope your year is going just as well.

Best wishes

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Today's Mission

Today I have decided my mission is to get the little things off my rolling to do list that have been lingering way too long. Most times it seems just normal life just takes up all my time, but with some pondering, I am realising my normal life doesn't have to take up all my awake hours. I just let it.

I am slowly working my way through a long list of projects. Just knocking them on the head! The good feeling I get from finishing some items is motivating me to work on my normal jobs more quickly so I can "finish" another thing from the list.

I use a system called AutoFocus to keep track of my endless ideas and projects. It helps to catch those someday project ideas. And now I am working faster on the mundane so I can get to those projects.

Maybe you can check it out for your projects this year!

Best wishes
Jen in Oz