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June 30, 2015

Developing Passions

peanut butter blossoms
One of the pluses of homeschooling is my kids have had time to develop their passions. Passions like seasons come and go with age. It's as if they grow into them and grow out of them. Some passions stay longer then others. Currently, Superstar has a passion for baking. He bakes us up some yummy treat at least once a week. Today's yummy treat: peanut butter blossom cookies.
oatmeal muffins

I know if he was in school he could developed some passions as well, but with homeschooling there is clearly MORE TIME for cooking, baking, or whatever is their passion.  There is more time because schooling does not take 6 plus hours a day with a couple more for busing/traveling to school.  My kids on a good day, when they are focused and ready to work can be done with their book work in about 3-4 hours. That gives them AT LEAST good 2-3 hours more a day to work on their passions and hobbies then their non-homeschooling peers.   The link below is for the current cook book my son is using for his yummy treats.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

June 29, 2015

Camping, Boys, Race Cars

What a weekend! I spent it sleeping on the ground, in a tent. I did have my body pillow and that did help some along with the air pad. However, I really do need to get a cot.

Over all it was a good weekend. SS planned the weekend's activities and I think he did a very good job. The boys in his troop all seems to have a good time over all, despite the fact that breakfast Saturday Morning was a bit of a disaster.

Pancakes and sausages was the game plan for Saturday morning. The stove did not work. The regulator was broken. One of the adults ran to go get a new regulator while the boys gathered sticks to start a fire to cook breakfast. They were able to get 12 pancakes cooked before the other adult came back with the replacement part.   It ended up putting us 30 minutes behind schedule, but the boys made up for it.

I didn't realized how much walking I did over the weekend until after I got home. I was wearing my iFit Act Activity Tracker.  I didn't think I did that much seeing I spent, I thought, the majority of the day in my chair, but I did have to walk to the port-a-pot a few times and I helped the boys and walked some with one of the other parents.  Seeing my walking count made me want to share it with others. I have decided to share my tracker information more regularly on my facebook page: Catholic Christian Homeschooling.

The image below is from Saturday. Plus I did over 7,000 on Friday and over 5,000 on Sunday. Today I didn't fair as well, but that's okay. Tomorrow is a new day! You are welcomed to like my facebook page and check out my steps...... Keep on walking!

So camping was good. I'm tired and my legs feel like jelly.  I think this is why.....
Posted by Catholic Christian Homeschooling on Sunday, June 28, 2015
So what does this post have to do with race cars you are wondering? Well the camping trip was at a local race track. So we spend the day watching (and hearing) the race cars. Actually, it just became back ground noise to me and I really didn't watch the cars.  Our camp site was in the middle of the track so we really didn't have go anywhere to watch the cars go around and around and around.

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Marriage is....

Marriage is between ONE MAN and ONE WOMAN!  That is God's design and that's how it is.

Men can make all kinds of laws and rules and say whatever they like. Just because they say it is this way doesn't mean it's TRUTH.  TRUTH is one man and one woman. That is all I have to say on this today.

Check out: For Your Marriage.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

June 24, 2015

Balancing Household Chores and Homeschooling

This is the question I see a lot over the years: "How do you stay on top of homeschooling AND the household chores?" It seems that this is a balancing act that many struggle with including yours truly.

The short and long answer of it is: ROUTINES!

Having a good routine leads to good habits. Having a good routine leads to having more time. Having a good routine..... I know, I know.  Many fight the urge, and I do to, because you don't want to be bogged down by a schedule! Homeschooling should be freeing, fly by the seat of your pants, do what you want to do when you want to do.  Yes, it can be and is depending on what method you are using, but at the same time having a routine is not horrible.  You most likely already have routines that you don't even think about and do because they come naturally. Like washing your hands after you use the bathroom, putting your dirty dishes in the sink or dishwasher, tucking the kids in at night, reading bedtime stories, and going to Church Sunday mornings.

Some routines come more naturally than others and some routine form bad habits. Either way having a routine is key to keeping things balanced.  I like to get up in the morning, after spending time snuggling with the dogs (Puggy and Onyx), to put a load of laundry in the wash. At lunch time I switched it over and from there it piles up in the laundry room. I haven't found the good routine to getting it folded, but at least for the most part our clothing is getting washed and dried.

In addition to establishing good routines having some organization helps to. What is your go to place to check and keep track of appointments? What is your go to place to keeping records, EM numbers, doctor numbers, etc? Where are you going to find your important information when you need it?

Several years ago, because balancing household chores and homeschooling has been my struggle along with lesson planning, I came across Flylady.  She introduced me to the idea of a control journal. Then later I read A Mother's Rule of Life and she talked about the 5 Ps and routines and writing it all down, doing your best to stick to a schedule/routine. Not to be a slave to it, but know if you establish good habits, routines, you will find you have more "time" to do what you love.  -- Flylady, Holly, and everyone else I read all pretty much say the same thing. Routines, Schedules, having some kind of home management/control binder/journals.

I made a huge binder. Writing things down, making plans and routines on paper is not my issue following through is my issue. I have poor follow through. Working on it. It's getting better.  I liked flylady, but then I got bogged down with all her emails. I got bogged down with feeling I was behind because I couldn't keep up with the emails, reminders, etc.

The control journal while helpful I was using less and less, because I was going digital. I got a smartphone. I found that I like things like google calendar. Flylady, Holly (author of A Mother's Rule) and everyone else I was reading and following made it clear having a family calendar is good. Having a calendar where everyone can access it is good. My husband and I getting smartphone made google calendar a no brainer. We both had google accounts, the smartphones we got were (are) android based (google owned). It just made sense.  --- well back track prior to getting my smart phone I had a Palm PDA (digital personal assistant). Hubby got that for me as soon as I started homeschooling. I told him I wanted something small and digital that I can carry with me everywhere. Easily. Something to sync with the computer and device. The Palm was doing that. I just got tired of carrying TWO devices. Phone and PDA. I wanted one device. The only way to get what I wanted was upgrading to a smartphone.

So while I used a paper control journal/binder. I never used it for calendar. I used the PDA and manually synced it (plugging it in to the computer) as needed and then printed out paper calendars. When we upgraded to the smartphones a benefit of using google calendars was discovered. I didn't have to print out calendars and updates from the computer and phone are done automatically via google. That and I now had the power to SHARE the calendar with hubby and HE could write or add things to it and SEE it from his phone or computer. NO more having to call me and ask if it's okay if he goes here or there after work (making sure we/I didn't have plans already) No more calling me while at the doctors office asking if this day would work for an appt. He had complete access and he could add things like HIS own doctor appts, going to confession, meeting up with his friends, working late or going in early to the calendar without running it by me.  Don't get me wrong we still communicate with each other daily, but it is rather freeing to add something to the calendar and not have to worry about it conflicting with plans your spouse may have already made.

Getting the smartphone made me dive into the apps and other features to see if I could meet my "home management binder" needs with the smartphone. I also wanted to move away from Flylady. While I learned some available things, I wanted something as simple as a check list. Sure I could make my own check list, but I wanted something a little bit more automated; where I didn't have to think. I tried several free apps and while they were okay they didn't fit my needs exactly and some of them were just pure garbage. Good thing they were free.

After searching I found the Motivated Moms App. Yes, you have to pay for the app. I didn't sign up at first because I didn't want to pay, but in the end I did and I found it to meet my needs the best.-- It is worth every penny.  The days (because routines is stills a struggle) I do the things on the app my husband comes home and is amazed the most. He truly thinks I worked hard all day cleaning --- shh... It's our secret that the items on the app listed for the day take maybe an hour at most. Of course you can personalize it: add to the list or remove the ones that don't fit your needs. For example the app comes pre-loaded with feed pets as a daily task. If you don't have a pet you remove it. If there something you want to do that's not listed you just add it.

Using the calendar app and motivated moms app on my phone made me ask: Is there way I can make the control journal more digital? Can I do away with the binder? The answer was Yes, mostly! I found this ebook to help me with the process: Paperless Home Organization: How to Create A Digital Home Management Binder.  I say mostly, because there are something that I just go totally digital with like bills for example: So that's where the binder comes in handy.

Mystie's ebook, paperless home organization, centers around 3 different apps/programs: Google Email and Calendars (already using), Evernote (heard of it), and Remember The Milk (what's that?). All of them are free apps/programs. The ebook really talks about maximizing the use of these apps/programs and how to get the most out of them. It was a huge help to me. Although I found that I do not care for Remember The Milk (RTM).

RTM is basically at it's core a task management app. I was already using Motivated Moms for chores and the only other thing I would need task management for was those things that were NOT on my calendar (because you don't want to clutter it up with wishful thinking), and NON-Chore related items, that popped up as needed: like helping Superstar with scout project, collecting library books for hubby to take back to the library, call my mom. etc.  I found that a simple check list in evernote or memo on the phone worked. I could even use google task which is apart of the google calendars (but for some strange reason google won't let you access google task via the phone --- really google you should fix that!).

The way to get it done and find balance between chores and homeschooling is to establish good healthy routines, use some kind of home management control binder/journal, and just enjoy life with your family.

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June 23, 2015

Family Game Night

As the kids have grown our games have gone from Candyland and Dino Math Tracks to The Settlers of Catan. We just discovered Settlers of Catan. It's a game that even I enjoy playing.

Family game night while a good goal and something we have tried to do regularly over the years has never taken off. Why? ME. That's why!  I don't know I'm just not a gamer. I have played Candyland, Dino Math Tracks, Chutes and Ladders, Phase 10 and whatever games the kids and family want to play. It's just over a period of time I get burned out. Well, burned out isn't really the right term. I just don't like feeling obligated to play. That's what happens when game night is set on a regularly basis.

With that said lately we have been playing a lot of Catan. I really have been enjoying it. I think that's because like chess the game is different each time. It's a bit of chance and a bit of strategy. We have been looking at getting one of the expansions.  If you play Catan which expansion do you recommend and why?

 Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

June 22, 2015

Jupiter, Venus, and the Moon

Photo Credit Earth Sky
Last Friday night while at Friday Night Flix, a local free movie in the park event, we noticed Jupiter and Venus near the crescent moon in the western sky.

I knew they were planets, my son (who is 14 today, Happy Birthday) knew they were planets. We knew they were Venus and Jupiter but we were in disagreement over which was which.  My daughter and husband, who was with us, didn't know which was which either so we settled it by me grabbing my phone!

I found this cool app Star Tracker for the phone.  You point your phone at whatever you are looking at in the sky, as if you are going to take it's picture, and the app will tell you what you are looking at.  I loaded the app, open the app, pointed it at the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter and it revealed that my son was right and I was wrong!  I had my planets mixed up. Once we settled which was which I let my son and daughter play with the app. They had fun pointing it at everything.  Even at 14 and 13 little things like that still amuse them, at times.

Superstar, my son, noted the sun according to the app, was below the moon. The sun had gone down for the night and the app even when you point the phone low enough will show you what's below the horizon. This discovery of course made him question: If the sun and moon are both in the west why are we only seeing a crescent moon?

By this time we were in our car driving home, from our event, I was driving and trying to explain, but my words were making it more confusing for the kids. So my husband took out his phone googled it and found an answer. What he found was basically saying what I was trying to say but clearly in a less confusing way. Sometimes I fumble around for the right words or examples.  Who knew a family outing to watch Jurassic Park would turn into an astronomy lesson?

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June 18, 2015

Church and Little Ones

My kids, being teens, now are not so little. However, I remember what it's like to have little ones. I remember what it's like feeling overwhelmed. I remember.....

Reading many comments over the years about a churches lack of babysitting, nursery, or even children church makes me sad. Reading comments from mothers stating what's the point of going (to church) if there is no child care of some kind.

Listen! I get it! My kids, if you remember, are 10 months apart. I remember what it was liked to spending most of the Mass outside the main sanctuary, because of a noisy baby, diaper changes, etc.  Some Sundays it seemed like the kids double tagged me.

Sigh... What's the point of going to church? The point is being there, even if you feel overwhelmed, out of touch, and dealing with fussy baby or wiggly toddler is feeding your soul. You might not feel like it, but it is.

Yes, it's fustrating to have to deal with a little one. Yes, it would be nice to just sit in church and not have to deal with a little one, but your child needs to be there as much as you do.  How else are they going to learn what is expected of them if they aren't there? 

You might be overwhelmed in that moment, but if you take a deep breath and accept that this is just a season, it gets better.  If you take a deep breath and remind yourself it's just for today, it gets better.  Once this season is over you will be thankful and better for it.  Seasons come and go.....

Some tips to make it a little smoother:

1. It's a season, soon enough it will be over and a new season started.

2. If you haven't already adjust your expectations to match your child's age and abilities.

3. Bring quiet activities for your child to do. This is especially helpful for those toddler/preschool years.

4. It's OKAY if you spent most of the Mass outside the main sanctuary, because of the kids. Know that even though it doesn't feel like it your soul has been feed.

5. While you are there to feed your soul, it's really not about what you get out of it; It's about what you put into it.

6. Your efforts now to start sharing Mass with your children, even as babies and toddlers, will show in the later years.

June 17, 2015

Hello, Teenage Years

So it's a beautiful, sunny, cool day here in northern Illinois.  The local park district puts on summer children program. It's weekly event with a series of performance ranging from story telling, to music, to magic shows.

Today's performance happens to be a magic show.  So, I asked the kids, I mean my teens, if they wanted to go.  I know they are above the target age range of these shows, but it's a magic show, it's free, and who doesn't like seeing a live magic show?

Well it turns out my teens don't.  I don't know if it's because they are above the target age range and they don't want to go because the show is meant for little kids or if they really are not interested in a magic show. Sigh..... 

June 9, 2015

What does homeschooling cost?

Often over the years I see people say things like "I can't afford to homeschool" or "I'm using public school at home option, because it's the only way I can afford it."  I realize many of us spend more and may spend on things like homeschool co-op/groups, sports, dance, gymnastics, other activities that many, including myself, would consider the cost of homeschooling.

However, lets take a moment and just discuss the basics. What do you spend PER child, PER year on your primary curriculum? Mind you primary curriculum doesn't' have to be text books, after all there are many methods and many resources. I'm just interested in showing people what is "needed" for the very basics.

As you look at this keep in mind a couple of things:
  1. This is the cost just for the primary curriculum/resources the family uses per child; per year. It's an average; an estimation.
  2. This does not included the cost of sports, scouting, dance, or any other extra curricular the family may or may not use.
  3. A family may not spend all of this at one time. Some families actually spread out the cost and buy things as needed. Like math materials this month and science next. Or they use an all-in-one program and make monthly payments.
  4. If you are using one of the free programs (ambleside, old fashion, etc) please estimate what you spend on ink, paper, or whatever else you need to implement and use your curriculum.
  5. All other basic supplies like pens, pencils, crayons, markets, writing paper is assumed to be on hand or the cost minimal and that does not need to be counted towards basic cost.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

June 6, 2015

Scouting Fun

Order of the Arrow.  It's hard to believe that my boy is growing up and has been involved in scouting long enough to participate in the Order of the Arrow.

That is what he currently doing right now. A weekend full of silence, physical labor, and minimal food. A night under the stars with nothing more then a sleeping bag and tarp.

I hope this weekend proves to be an good experience for him.  I will wait to here all about tomorrow.

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