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Each Year is Different…and New

Tonight I’m sitting here and pondering. Feeling immensely behind in all that needs to be done and started for the upcoming year. 

Because here’s the truth you all – I haven’t completely wrapped up last year yet

There are so many excuses I could give and they are all valid, but the biggest one is this: we put stuff on hold because our girl was leaving to head across a huge ocean and would be gone for over a year. (gulp)

Every moment we had with her was precious. Filling out course descriptions for kids that aren’t close to graduating – well, that could be put aside. The focus was on the most important thing: relationship.

And yes, now I’m feeling a bit of the crunch in this moment. Each year isn’t just a “cookie cutter” year of what our older children have done. While that may have been a bit more so when the kids were younger, as our children have aged, both their interests and abilities have varied drastically. 

One kids loves medical stuff. 

Another one is a sports enthusiast. 

Still another – drama and music.

Each year is different and new, offering a chance to reevaluate decisions we’ve made in the past and the opportunity to make changes for the future. 

You know what I love about each new year though? Each year is an opportunity for me to learn all over again along with my kids. Sometimes that is in a new subject area and other times it’s an area that originally filled me with fear, but now I look forward to with anticipation (biology labs, I’m looking at you). 

In the next week I’m tackling some of the areas that have been driving me crazy. Curriculum that hasn’t been put away will find its way to the proper shelf. New curriculum to be ordered (and hopefully some missing items will show up…). A semblance of order should hopefully be established for the upcoming year.

Here’s the thing. We may not be starting as early as I had initially hoped, but we will be starting. One of the kids may be working on a few lessons that weren’t wrapped up last year (oh yes, it’s true) before launching into the upcoming year, but we will get it all in. 

And the focus? 

Enjoying the learning together and finding the JOY in the opportunity that we have: being with our kids and guiding them in the learning process. The past few months with our oldest out of the house have shown me nothing short of this: our time with our kids is so precious, so we need to soak up every second we have!

How are your plans coming for the upcoming year – no fear, friends! JOY!

What We’re Reading – June 2019

Why hello there lovely people. It’s been so very long. For both talking to you and reading in general. 

What are you reading? 

Truthfully, I haven’t had the time to read at all. Period. We’ve had a lot of traveling, but since I was doing the driving it made it a little hard to read. Yes, audiobooks, but I don’t always do so hot with those. 

Never mind my brain has been a bit preoccupied the last few months as we readied Laurianna for her graduation. And a trip to Africa. Sigh.

Add to that getting our local pool and swim team ready for the season and it’s been truly non-stop, not sitting down, never mind picking up a book. By the time I get to bed at night, I don’t last long in my attempts at reading. 

I actually sent Laurianna a picture on Saturday of the first time I’ve been able to sit down and read. For real.  Ironically, the book is  It’s All Under Control by Jennifer Dukes Lee. So far LOVING IT!!

My 2019 Reading List.is technically making progress, but rather slowly. lAt the moment seven of the 14 books on the list have been marked off – so there has been progress! This month ONE of the books in my pile are from my core list, one from my fiction list, and one is from my “if there’s time” pile. They look so very good!!

*all links are referral links

What the Kids are Reading

Nada. Nothing. 

Call me a crazy mom, but we are focusing on wrapping up the few things that have taken a backseat while we tried to get things ready for Laurianna to head out. 

Well, technically Laurianna is done with school, so anything she reads is all on her own time now. I am no longer responsible for her literature intake (or lack thereof). But she’s a reader, and books were definitely in her bags she took to Africa. 

Kaleb is still working on All About Reading Level 4  with me and will continue reading through the summer. We are also having him tested by a friend of ours who is a reading specialist to make sure we aren’t missing anything and can add in suggestions to help him out in his reading. 

What I Read Last Recently (and Quick Thoughts)

Here are the books I’ve read in the last few months along with a more detailed look at 

Parenting Beyond the Rules by Connie Albers – This is the book that I wish would have been around six or so years ago, BEFORE our kids were teenagers. Reading through this now, with four kids ranging in age from 12 to almost 18, I was nodding my head in agreement, especially as we learned some things the “hard way” on our parenting journey. 

Albers addresses so many various topics from building a strong foundation in your relationship with your kids to not giving into the fear that can strangle you as a parent (been there!). Her heart is encouraging parents, and that is so strongly achieved in this book. Through examples of family meetings gone completely off course and other extremely relatable examples, this book is a wealth of information for parents who are either embarking or wading through the pre-teen/teen years with their kids. 

Parenting teens is hard, but it can also be one of the most rewarding times in our lives and reap benefits for years to come. It’s the timeframe when our kids are waking up to all the possibilities that are in front of them – and we get to have a front row seat (and part) in the adventure! The best news is that it is never too late to learn from our mistakes, take a step back, and approach things in a different manner to connect with our kids. (5/5 rating)

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult – This is one of those books that will have your brain going in so many different directions as you get sucked into the story, but also all of the societal implications behind the story. As a nurse hesitates to perform CPR on a newborn (because she was ordered not to touch him), it spirals into criminal charges that will have you truly looking into your thought processes on race, religion, privilege, and justice. Definitely a great read. (5/5 rating)

The Governess of Penwythe Hall by Sarah Ladd – normally I’m a huge fan of Sarah Ladd, but this is one of those books that just fell a bit flat and short for me. If you don’t mind reading a few spoilers, you can read my full Good Reads review, but in short I’m personally just a little bit done with heroines having to be a part of the “action” in a sense when it borders on unrealistic. (Call me crazy) (3.5/5 rating)

You can follow along with me via the Goodreads app where I share my reviews and additional thoughts. What have YOU been reading this month? 

 

Tips for the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom

Tips for the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom

The homeschool year hasn’t even started for our family yet and last week there was a moment when all I wanted to do was sit down on the floor and have a really good cry. Ambitions were high for the summer months, and essentially nothing on my list was accomplished (according to what my brain and unwritten expectations were). Just so you know, I envisioned having co-op syllabuses completed in June and a huge chunk of my planning done that month as well. I thought I’d have it ALL done and just kick back and relax the rest of the summer. 

Sometimes those unwritten expectations can really wreak havoc on a person – and mind you, I’m a top contender in that department. 

But life intervened and between swim team duties and some wonderful family interruptions, summer didn’t go according to plan. And that’s all a good thing. I don’t want to get so wrapped up in my expectations that I miss the life to live right in front of me.

However, when walking into the school room last week to get started on organizing for the new year, it felt like a blanket of heaviness was draped over my shoulders. Piles of curriculum pulled off the shelf to relocate or sell were all over the place – even after baskets of books had been taken out. Stacks of supplies the kids had brought up to the school room for me – and then dumped somewhere random – stared at me. Our room is a huge blessing, but left alone where we don’t see it everyday left it at a point where it was just plain overwhelming. 

homeschool room before

I shared a picture on Facebook last week of the overwhelm I was feeling, and many of you chimed in or emailed me sharing your current state, which told me one thing: we are NOT alone in our feelings of being overwhelmed. Sadly, many of us sit and hold it in, adding to the mountain of feelings. 

Whether or not you have a week or more (or less) to get ready for the upcoming year, here are a few tips for when you feel overwhelmed as a homeschool mom. 

Tips for When You Feel Overwhelmed as a Homeschool Mom

Take a deep breath. I’d love to say that I didn’t tear up, but that would be a lie. I cried a little – and that’s ok! I needed a chance to stop for a moment, and getting that overwhelmed feeling out. After that, I sat back, stared down my nemesis, and took a deep breath. That moment of calming was enough to help me focus on the task ahead and realize it could be done. 

Jump in and DO IT. While the list of things needing to be done would definitely take more than an afternoon, I jumped right in to work on what was in front of me, clearing the visible clutter since much of my overwhelm comes from the visual aspect of messes. You know what your own triggers are – tackle those first so you can relax a little. I grabbed a large trash bag, moved piles to the hallway for things to be taken out of the school room, shelved books, vacuumed, dusted, and focused on the giant task in front of me. I set an internal goal (remember how I said I’m good at those??) to get it cleaned up in an hour (call me crazy). 

Plot your attack and stay focused. Because I have trouble remembering things at time (I’m over 40 and a mom of four. Have mercy, please.), I took a small notebook with me to jot down things that came to mind as I was working. Print off planners for the girls. Plan out the first month of lit lessons for our co-op classes. Double check all curriculum for the year. Find all the US History books on our shelves. Organize science supplies.

The list may keep growing, but rather than getting distracted by little things along the way, stay focused on the task in front of you. My list was my mental dumping ground for what needed to be worked on later that day or in the upcoming week. When finished with the initial cleaning, I went over the list and prioritized what needed to be done. Some of the items were able to be checked off quickly (making me feel accomplished and more motivated!), and the rest – well, they’ll get done too – in time. 

Putting it down on paper puts it into perspective for you as well. Looking at it in black and white helps you see what really needs to be accomplished, or saved until later. While finishing off the baseboards in our school room is something that needs to be done, it doesn’t need to be finished before the school year starts. (grins)

Phone a friend. There is power in numbers, so don’t push aside the benefit of friends. My initial panic also involved chatting with a friend on the phone and commiserating our mutual chaos. We made a plan to sit down together in the upcoming week – me to help her with one of her daunting tasks (anything is more fun with a friend!), and she is going to work with me on one of my projects. Together is always more enjoyable! 

Friends also have the added benefit of talking you down from your proverbial ledges and giving you a nudge (or shove) in the direction you need to be headed. I have two local friends who are fabulous at holding me accountable on tasks and helping me stay focused. 

Let go of what doesn’t need to be done. It’s so easy to get caught up in all the things you feel you should be doing. Earlier this year I shared 10 things to eliminate from your homeschool and in addition to those ten things, I would also encourage you to not overdo it. Don’t overwhelm yourself (or your kids) with subject areas that you don’t really need to work on solely because it appears it’s the right thing to do. From outside activities to 15 subjects per child, you can get yourself on the fast track to a certifiable mess. Limit and eliminate the extra stuff – and don’t look back. 

Pray. This just goes without saying, but remember to keep yourself grounded in God’s word, letting Him know your fears, frustrations, and dreams. 

Get rest and lots of it. It’s hard work being a mom and adding on the responsibility of being your child’s teacher ups the stress even more. You need to rest. And beyond rest, you need to sleep. Don’t burn the candle at both ends and hope to catch up on the weekend, or whenever. Get the rest now. Go to bed on time and strive for the rest your body needs to keep going. Take care of yourself as much as you care for those children of yours, otherwise you can put yourself out of commission quickly. Ask me how I know. 

Aside from your body responding better, sleep will also give you more clarity of thought. Tasks that seemed incredibly overwhelming the day before might be put into perspective or a different approach may come to mind. Know when to slow down, stop, and put your feet up for your own sanity (and your family’s)!

homeschool room after

While there are still many tasks ahead in the upcoming week, my perspective has completely shifted from feeling overwhelmed as I’ve taken a step back and plotted out what needs to be done. And that hour time limit I set for myself? It did wonders to ease my mind. It’s amazing what you can get done when you stop and focus on what’s in front of you. 

This won’t be the only time during the year that those feelings of overwhelm will creep up. Throughout the year, they resurface in different areas, but in those moments, pause and take a deep breath. You CAN get through this. 

Are you struggling with feeling overwhelmed? What tips can you offer to other homeschool moms in the trenches with you? 

 Tips for the Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom from Homeschool Creations


 


Another post you may enjoy….Why Your Homeschool Needs a Rest Time.

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What the Summer Has Looked Like… Homeschool and Life Happenings

Pretty much, this has been my view much of the summer…

or this…

Let me be honest and tell you that I feel as if I have ZERO done for our upcoming school year. Being poolside weekly for meets and managing our summer swim team has taken up pretty much most of the summer (and I’m thankful we get to be a part of our kids’ passions). 

It’s been so much that I almost forgot to file our end of the year paperwork letting the county know that our kids finished up their year and they are doing fine academically. YIKES! But that was mailed yesterday and now I’m breathing a little easier. 

But next week with no swim team means zeroing in on any missing curriculum pieces, placing orders, printing like a mad-woman, and at least feeling like some prep is underway. Including cleaning out the schoolroom (which hasn’t been done since we wrapped up school in May). 

Hopefully this is helping you feel that you aren’t any more behind than others – or at least me! (grins) 

These summer updates feel like they have been pitiful, but truthfully, it’s life at the moment. We are enjoying our time off. Hanging out together. Camping. Spending time with friends (and away from online) – and I am loving that for sure. But my brain and sanity are ready to step back into the routine that our school year offers. 

How has your summer been going? 

 

Be sure to stop by WeirdUnsocializedHomeschoolers.com and hang out with some other moms who are sharing their day-to-day happenings.

What I’m Reading (and the Kids too)

December is here. Chilly temps have really settled in, and books are becoming my most favorite thing – especially by the light of the Christmas tree. Admittedly, those non-fiction books are a little harder to pick up and dig into (it’s much easier to get lost in another world where I don’t have to focus on anything), but I am making progress.

The one thing I really need to focus on this month is decidedly making time to read for my growth – not just for fun. The last few weeks have been crazy with family visiting and traveling, so focusing on a more serious topic has been harder to do. Hence – the fiction. :) I will also admit that the last little bit I have been sidetracked by the Hallmark channel (we subscribed to Sling TV for the month so we could get all the holiday movies!!), and that may have put a damper on my reading.

My GoodReads app is helping me track the books that I’m reading. Only two books on my original reading list for 2017 remain, and one of them is already halfway finished. I’m definitely looking forward to our Christmas break and hoping to finish both of them prior to that so I can just relax and read all the FUN books that are still on my shelf.

To help me toward my goal of finishing those two books, I’m setting an alarm for every afternoon at 2pm so I can sit down and read for at least 15 minutes.  Here are the books on my pile to read this month: 


The Kids are Reading…


  • Laurianna – lots of assigned reading for her college classes
  • McKenna – Heart of Darkness
  • Zachary – Carry On, Mr. Bowditch
  • Kaleb – Boxcar Children book #3
  • Family read-aloud – Gregor the Overlander series

What I Finished in November

Here’s a peek at what I finished in the month of November – just fiction and working through some non-fiction too. 

 

  • Irish Meadows by Susan Anne Mason
  • Until the Dawn by Elizabeth Camden – HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!
  • five books in the Jacobite chronicles by Julia Brannon (there were some parts I had to skip). Otherwise a good series, but the parts I skipped seemed like they were token “add in” scenes that honestly could have been modified or left out completely. 

That’s it for this month – what is on YOUR reading list??

Happy Thanksgiving!

happy-thanksgiving-from-our-family-to-yoursThe next few days are promising to be full of food and family (and fun). Lots of cooking will be happening in the house (I’ve already made some amazing cranberry orange scones and that’s just the tip of the baking).

We’re taking a few days off to celebrate Thanksgiving with lots of family and also Kaleb’s birthday, which is Friday. The boy has already asked for a special pumpkin pie ice cream cake. 

Friday I’ll be sharing some Black Friday and Cyber Monday specials and am planning to finish up the remainder of my shopping from a nice cozy bed if possible. After that, it’s on to decorating for Christmas and curling up to watch sappy Christmas movies. 

For those of you in the States – have a GREAT Thanksgiving! If you aren’t celebrating Thanksgiving, hope you and your family enjoy the next bit and we will talk to you soon. :)