When I began homeschooling, I would plan the whole year prior to the first day of school. This never worked because inevitably life would happen and falling behind (or getting ahead or just changing our minds) in one subject would throw everything off. So I started planning one week at a time which was very labor intensive and inefficient.
This new system occurred to me at the end of a long day/week. It's inspired by the house keeping system laid out in Side Tracked Home Exectutives. Here's what I did:
I hit Staples and purchased a couple of sets of colored note cards, note card dividers, and note card boxes (these I actually got at Hobby Lobby) - one set for each child.
Using a (word processing) table and the table of contents from each book we use, I typed in the name/number of the lesson. I printed these out, cut them neatly, and glued them to a colored note card. Each subject has its own color (Math-yellow, Religion-purple, Science-green, History-blue, Language Arts-white, Latin-red.) Each individual lesson was listed on one card. Each week is separated by a note card divider and the lesson cards for each week are then filed.
Here, I took some action shots to illustrate:
The advantages of this are:
It's easily and quickly done for the year.
It's easy to tweak and doesn't permanently undo any planning. The cards are separated in order, but I'm not dating the dividers so if we are sick for a week we just pick up where we left off. If they have trouble with math one week and need some extra time, a quick shuffle of the yellow cards will have everything back in order.
The very best part: I can make supplementary study notes on the back of each card. OK, like you know when you wake from a dead sleep and remember that there is a Draw.Write.Now page on starfish? You just flip to the card on Phylum Echinodermata and jot 'Draw.Write.Now. Book 6 pg. 50' and go back to bed. Or maybe you just saw that Jim Weiss has a Shakespeare CD. Flip to History, Chp. 39 -'England's Greatest Playwrite' make a note and move on with your life. I have these thoughts bouncing around my head all day and night and it creates a feeling of panic because I know I'm not going to remember most of it.
So each week the children can just check the cards for lessons. We have a daily focus so they know what they are supposed to do on any given day. I might still print out a more detailed list for them but that would still take minutes to prepare, as opposed to hours. I've also thought about punching a hole in the cards and placing the current week on a ring but just haven't had the time to mess with it.
7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess - I have two takes on this book. Initially, I found the concept contrived, vain, and gimmicky. I really struggled through the first two chapters. It's written in a very casual, hyperbolic style which more closely resembles a blog than a book. The author's tone seemed more sincere as she went on and I'm glad that I finished. There are many excellent thoughts on fasting which I found particularly appropriate now. It has the potential to be a life changer.
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage - This was a gripping, very readable tale of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. Had this been fiction, the author would have been laughed out of the publisher's office. Utterly implausible. The most ridiculous tale ever told. Entirely unbelievable. I only knew a bit about Shacketon's explorations so this was mostly new information to me. The details of how the voyage went so terribly wrong over and over and over again and how the men coped and even (spoiler alert!) survived is just fascinating. Extra points for the meteorological, geographical, and biological details. Excellent book. (ht: Angela) PS: This would be a fun read for those of us participating in the Journey North Mystery Class. I'm thinking here... I think it would be OK for ages 12+. There are a few details (lack of toilet paper, eating whatever they could find, descriptions of their chamber pot) that are a little gross but it's really remarkably clean.
Max & Benedict / Joseph & Chico - I picked up this set during a sentimental few minutes. (Did anyone sniffle this week during the intentions at Mass? This will be the last week we pray for Pope Benedict.) My daughter read them on her own and will use a lot of the information in her paper. I'm reading them aloud to my son. We're only a little ways through because read aloud time has been in short supply, but I'm very happy with the purchase. Sniff.
I made some changes last week to try and alleviate some of the anxiety I was feeling, which hit out of nowhere.
Lesson plans were taking way too long to prepare. I would work on lesson plans on Friday and Saturday. With interruptions, it would take hours and if I happened to be occupied on Friday, which happens lot, I would be behind for days. And in a very foul mood about it. Solution: I came up with a brilliant new lesson planning system and finished plans for the year. (I intend to write more about this because I'm so happy about it).
History was a giant burden. Solution: I threw money at this problem and despite the fact that I owned the Story of the World book, I downloaded the mp3 from Peace Hill Press. Now I pop it in the CD player during commutes and check history off the list.
IEW was not being done as it should be because I couldn't supervise. And I wanted to focus on the papacy right now. Solution: Drop the formal IEW program and use the principles in the Student Resource Guide to do write a biography of Pope Benedict and a paper on the process of choosing a new pope. We have many resources stashed around the house and everyone should check out this website; Electing the Pope. We're probably all a little ignorant because it just doesn't happen that often.
Internet shopping for everything. I abandoned all attempts at shopping in a store. If I happen to pick something up while we're out, fine. But anything that matters has to be done online. It also needs to be done quickly. I can't tell you how much time I waste filling up a shopping cart then letting it sit in a window for days while I try to justify the expense of whatever. Then I find myself in a pinch paying too much for that same whatever. I have been forcing myself to be more decisive.
Nursing the baby to sleep for every nap and all night long. Sigh. I don't know. On the one hand, I love it. On the other, I have two other children, a husband, and a house to care for. Solution: We (dramatic pause)... we bought a crib. Whether I'll actually be able to put the baby in it is another question.
Walk, walk, walk. I've been taking long walks to calm myself. The baby falls asleep and I can pray and think.
The commute. To everything. Solution: We need to move. I'm not particularly attached to our home but I'm not quite feeling up to the task of selling and purchasing a house. But it feels like we are coming to the end of the road here. Some things that I desperately wanted fell into place last year; that blessed third child, a parish we love... is a home that feels like home possible? I honestly haven't dared to hope just yet.
OK, so those are some things bouncing around in my head this morning. It felt good to sort them out. I'm trying to wrap up the final pieces of the new lesson planning system today and start to look ahead to the new week. I hope you all have a restful and wonderful weekend!
I knit my baby wool undies and then posted a photo of it on the internet. I'm troubled that this all makes perfect sense to me.
But apparently wool diaper covers are magical and that I can believe. Wool socks are magical. "They never smell!", my brother the snow boarder tells me of his Smartwool socks. "I know! They never smell!", I reply of my hand knit merino socks. And they really do never feel wet, even if I step on a melted ice cube in the kitchen.
I'm hoping this will be our nighttime diapering solution. The cover was a breeze to knit and is so darn cute. And, fingers crossed, the baby seems fine wearing wool. She doesn't fuss a bit about her wool cardigans. And let me tell you, she doesn't hesitate to let us know if she's the least bit uncomfortable (or bored or sad or tired or just awake).
I'm about out of time. The days are so full right now - uncomfortably full, if I can be frank. I keep wishing I could turn off all the noise and lights and all my thoughts and then it dawns on me that that state is called "sleep". Everything is fine, I just keep feeling like it's not.
On that note... everyone is awake now and my coffee cup is tragically empty. All the best, friends!
From Wikipedia: Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: In many cultures, this means no meat, dairy, or eggs.
One of my most popular posts ever. Pancake Tuesday. I still do think the Cook's Illustrated recipe is the best, but the recipe I make most often is from The Joy of Cooking:
1 1/2 cups of flour
3 tbs sugar
1 1/2 tsp of baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups of buttermilk
3 tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp of vanilla
1/2 tsp or less of cinnamon (my family insists on cinnamon in their pancakes)
Mix the wet ingredients together and the dry ingredients together and then mix it all together and there you go. (I paraphrased the instructions because I spent too long staring at the baby this morning.) Setting my griddle to 350 makes perfect pancakes. And if sprinkle pecans on top? Wow.
Excuse my super lazy, no photo post. Happy Fat Tuesday!
And PS! In case you missed it, Elizabeth shared some ideas for a Papal notebook. I still have the bulletin with Pope Benedict's picture on the cover. Sigh.
According to my husband, microgreens are all the rage. Eager to try my new seed starting set up, I chose to try the Spicy Mix and the Savory Mix from Botanical Interests. Y'all, these are so easy! They are ready to harvest quickly (10 days or so) and add a little something fresh, tasty, and fun to so many dishes.
Fresh! In February!
It's a perfect little window "crop". I have a warming mat and grow light, but didn't really find either necessary. The sunlight shines on my kitchen sink creating a warm, bright little nursery so I just set the trays there through the day. I gave them a little extra boost of warmth and light through the night just because I could.
Evening, under the grow light.
I am not one to give advice (because shoot, what do I know?) but I highly recommend growing something with children. I was inspired early on by many different people and it grew into a lifelong love of gardening (as well as a very happy marriage!) An edible crop couldn't get much simpler than microgreens. This is a great, no fuss, no commitment winter gardening project.
More (better) growing info here and information on nutritional benefits here.
I was craving patchwork... I had basted all those hexagons... I had starred this project months ago... So I put it all together!
I purchased and downloaded the Sleepy Time Animal Pals pattern which I think is beautiful as is, but I had to tweak it to work with the hexagons. I also changed the embroidery a bit to match my daughter's favorite storybook characters. And I don't keep nearly enough pretty trims on hand to mimic Amy's finishing touches. But in the end, it works well as a little cuddle quilt for car rides. OK, I just cracked myself up because it truly is 'lap quilt' size for my little 8 month old which is funny because it's so tiny.
As we made our commute, I asked my older two if the baby liked her new little quilt and my daughter said, "I think so. She's chewing on it."
Aaaanyway, as I was sewing along it occurred to me that this would be a sweet project for aspiring quilters of any age. It would be a great way to teach or learn all the proper techniques (and a bit of embroidery). Plus, what little girl wouldn't love to go through her mom's stash and pick out her favorite prints? My 12yo, actually, but I don't understand why. Perhaps your daughter is more sensible.
In between taking crummy photos of the little quilt (my least favorite thing to photograph!) I made a cake for my daughter, who was feeling a little under the weather. Lemon cake, for the vitamin C, you see. I found this decorating technique via Pinterest and it's my new favorite way to frost a cake - super simple and fun.
ETA: I'm linking up with Elizabeth's Needle and ThRead today, but alas... still not reading anything myself. I have heard good things about The Launguage of Flowers and also The House at Tyneford but I can't handle anything that might make me weepy.
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