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Monday, June 18, 2007

Sisters - A Blessing

I have been blessed with 3 sisters and as time goes on we have grown closer. Closer as sisters, closer as friends, closer as we grow in our new roles as wives and mothers. It has been wonderful to be able to offer parenting advice (when asked), or to be able to take the kids so one of them can have a date with their husband or just some time to go grocery shopping alone.

A few months ago one of my sisters hurt her back and was unable to lift her little ones at all (a 3 year old and a 19 month old). I was thankful that we homeschool and could pack up within a few hours and help take care of the kids so her husband could go back to work and not eat up all his vacation time. In 10 days, another sister is taking my 3 kids so my husband and I can attend a 2 day meeting near my hometown. The kids already brainstormed a huge list of activities and they are looking forward to what I call "Aunt Camp". Maybe this will become an annual event and we can all host each others kids, when they are a little older. There is a 5 year break from my youngest to the next cousin, so that will be a few years yet.

Here are two pictures of the 4 of us from my sisters wedding.

From left: Me (Kristi), Kay, Cheryl and Lori (front)

Bottom photo is just a close up of the top photo.

P.S. I just love the flowers from her wedding.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Finally Some Photos on my Blog

I let the digital pictures really pile up on my cameras digital card (like for 6 months). When I downloaded them, I wasn't able to send them online to be developed because the connections would time out (on their end evidently, because we have broadband), so I finally just took my card into Walmart and got them developed there. There were 376 photos (that was a chunk of developing cost all at once) in all!

When I got home I messed some more with things and got them download onto my ancient (but working wonderfully yet) computer that is getting old (for a computer), so I can back them up to a CD. Now that they are on the computer, it is much easier to access them to post with. So hopefully, in and around other committments this week, I can post some photos of the puppies, our field trips, etc.

Of course if you are a scrapbooker, you already realize that developing 376 photos presents another problem: that even if I was caught up with my scrapbooks (I am not), I would be instantly behind. Oh well, it will help me use up some of my huge stash of scrapbooking supplies (heaven knows that I have plenty!).

Do You Have A Vision Statement, Mission Statement or Goal?

This is a post from my previous blog.

We have been reassessing our goals and priorities again at the beginning of this year and I have been wondering if many others have set down and developed a goal for their personal/family life or for their homeschool.
We wrote a family goal, which included a few personal goals for my husband and I. We try to look at it each year and adjust parts of it to more closely reflect where we are and to address any shifting in priorities, that have come about over time. We took some training a few years ago which has really helped us to clarify our overall goals. Here are a few of the things we learned:

1. If you don’t have a goal, then how do you know if your are achieving that goal?

2. Writing down your goal helps to clarify it in your mind. It also keeps it visible, to remind you.

3. Everyone who is part of the family/group/organization needs to be involved in the development of the goal.

4. If everyone has ownership of the goal, they are more likely to be a part of the effort to achieve the goal.

5. Goals should be reviewed and reassessed regularly. Circumstances may change and the goal that you wrote last year, may not reflect your life/homeschool/etc. this year.

6. When you need to make a decision, walk through some questions to determine if the decision is leading your toward or away from your goal. How can you reach your goal, if your decisions all lead you away from your stated goal?

7. Remember that just because something seems to be leading your toward your goal, it may be leading you away from your overall goal in other areas. Strive to keep balance among all the facets of your overall goal.

8. Try to determine what indicators you may look for to determine if things are not going in the direction you want. Be aware of these indicators and monitor them to see if changes are necessary, so you don’t get off track.

To set your goal, brainstorm what you want your situation/life/homeschool/etc. to look like in the future. Write out the goal in sufficient detail to clarify your thoughts but not so detailed that you get bogged down in writing it. If it is too detailed, you will obsess over how to write the goal. Then determine the steps that you need to take to get to that goal being achieved. Once you have identified these steps, you can start implementing actions to lead to those goals being achieved.

Trying to Simplify My Household (and Still Get School Done!)

This a post that I had on my previous blog.

Is it just me, or does it take a few weeks to find your groove when you start a new school year. Because I took the time to do more planning the week before we started, I felt that we got off to a good start and stayed on schedule the first couple of weeks. We had a few trips (1-2 days) planned over the next couple weeks, plus a playdate with another homeschooling family, so we have had to adapt our schedule to those, but they have worked out fine and we are keeping up with the basics and have a little catching up to do in some of our secondary subjects.

I don't have a good enough (read: rigid) schedule that my laundry is always caught up, that the house is always drop-in clean or that meals are planned well in advance and on the table in a timely manner. I am working on that. But first, I am trying to declutter my house some more so that cleaning it will be easier for myself and the children. Our lives have become increasingly busy in the last two years and I haven't quite adapted to this new level of activity.

This weekend my sister is coming to help with some long-put-off decorating projects that I promised my daughters and we are going to go through several totes of kids clothing that I had kept for her kids. If she doesn't want them then they are going to go to an outreach center that a friend's church has opened. It will be good to get them out of my storage area, as it doesn't appear that I will be having more kids (my youngest is approaching 8 this winter). Next project after that is to sell some of the books that are overtaking our house.

Perhaps when we are staying indoors more this winter, I will have more time to attack these projects with a vengeance. I have the makings of a menu planning system, but have not implemented it. My sister came up with the system and it works pretty well. She did say that she was getting tired of the recipes she originally put into her system and is looking to expand her choices. I have used the card system (SHE's) and Flylady, and I think that my daily routines are the thing I need to get back to using. Hopefully, I can get back into the routine of doing those things.

Our Homeschooling Journey

This is a post from my previous blog that I brought over.

We began homeschooling when our oldest (twins) were 2 years old. My husband had been hearing about homeschooling on Christian talk radio and provided me with information. I knew there was no way I could do that. After much prayer on his part, my heart was softened and I can't imagine not homeschooling and the freedom it affords us in educating our children. Rather than put them in a preschool program, we created one of our own. We added our third child shortly thereafter and continued on with early learning activities until it was time to begin Kindergarten.

We used Rod and Staff Preschool series workbooks with all the children the year prior to starting Kindergarten, which are inexpensive and give a solid and comprehensive skill set. We follow that up with Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons, combined with the Explode the Code series of workbooks for phonics. After recommendations from nearly everyone we knew who homeschooled, we introduced Saxon Math to our children and have been very happy with the results. We began handwriting instruction with A Reason for Handwriting, but have now switched all 3 children to Handwriting Without Tears.

I am very much the frugal homeschooling mom, so nearly everything we buy for school, I have been able to purchase used.

We follow the Classical Method (ala Well Trained Mind) for our history and science studies, but prefer to have something structured within that method. We use Story of the World as we study the 4 year history cycle and Living Learning Books for elementary science.

Some Old Posts from my Homeschool Blog

I was never very good at posting on a frequent basis with my Homeschool Blogger account. Probably because I wasn't sure that was the place to put most of my thoughts. After meeting several of my online friends (Loopers) in person who were using Blogspot and discussing it, I promptly arrived home and started a new blog here. The posts that follow are the ones I felt that I wanted to preserve so I will be adding them here individually....so if you used to read that blog, this half a dozen posts are old news for you.

The posts will be marked as such in the body of the message.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Photos from my Sisters Wedding

While my sister's wedding was last fall, I wanted to post a few photos that she sent me. If you've ever met me in person, you probably don't recognize me all dressed up with my hair done. That is my beloved husband next to me, with our 3 kids in front of us. The twins are on the outside and the youngest is in the middle.

My mom, sisters and I made all the floral arrangements and bouquets. My sister got 400 roses in various colors plus greenery from Sam's Club a couple of days before the wedding and the day before we spent about 6 hours putting the arrangements and bouquets together. They turned out beautiful. Someone commented that the large urn arrangements would retail for about $500-$600 had we purchased them. I dried my bouquet and am enjoying it at home now.

This is the entire family. Everyone is posed with their family. I am the oldest, the sister on the far right is next in age, then the bride, and my youngest sister is on the right between my mom and the sister closest in age. We are getting to be a quite a large group. In fact, there is another baby on the way as we speak (my sister).