Minimalism

1-IMG_0737As the years have gone by with our adventure into homeschooling and as Catherine has grown older, I have found that my days are getting busier and busier.  I remember when Catherine was a baby how overwhelmed I felt.  I told a friend that I barely had time to eat or shower.  She lovingly told me that it only got worse.  I thought she was crazy.  And then I panicked!  How in the world could life be any busier?  I thought that children became more independent as they grew older!  I thought they could entertain themselves longer!  She said that they need more, want more, and communicate it more.  They have activities they need to be brought to, friends to see, homework to do, crisis’s that need managing.  I didn’t believe her.  Well, here I am 6 years later and she is totally right.  Catherine has places to go, people to see, things to do, and subjects to learn.  My…life…is…crazy…busy!

I have noticed as Catherine is more involved with activities, as she advances in school, and as my organization has grown, I have noticed that I have been able to keep my home neat and clean.  I have less time to stay organized.  Usually by the end of the evening I am too tired to clean.  These factors usually lead to a house that looks like a disaster by the end of the week.  Counters with piles of ‘stuff’ and floors that are covered with toys, and books, and shoes, and couches that are covered with magazines and art supplies make me stressed and feeling out of control.  I feel ready to chuck it all and yet I feel so strangely attached to EVERYTHING that I own.

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Over the last year my sister and I have been talking a lot about getting rid of stuff and purging.  My sister even convinced my mom to read a book about getting rid of the clutter and my mom jumped on the band-wagon and started clearing the extra junk out of her house.  I would have to say that both my sister and my parents have pretty clutterless homes, especially compared to my home.  I was inspired and I knew that I needed to started clearing the clutter but I just couldn’t find the mojo.  I had every excuse in the book, including my packed out spring and summer schedule.  Well, now school has started and our schedules are a bit more clear (although not by much) and I figured now is the time.  Plus, after nearly two weeks of being sick, my house looks like a disaster zone, so I know that it’s time to clean up this mess.

I am doing a 40 Day cleaning program with my sister and one of our friends where we will be focusing on one area a day to purge and clean.  I’m pretty excited about it!  I have already managed to purge through most of my kitchen cabinets and drawers.  The counters and the pantry are another thing!  But here is a look:

Junk drawer before:

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Junk drawer after:1-IMG_0750I can already feel a sigh of relief!  Less is more!  I’m not going to let my stuff own me anymore!  Well, tell that to me when I hit the craft room!

2nd Grade

1-20140811_092419[1]We have a 2nd grader on our hands!  How time has flown by since we first started thinking about taking the homeschooling journey!  I remember being petrified to start kindergarten and now here we are in 2nd grade!

We have done so much and I have learned event more since our adventure began!  I feel way more confident but yet I still question every choice that I make when it comes to our curriculum.  I want to make sure that I am giving her the best education that I can and that she knows what she needs to know.  I really struggled this year with choosing a math program and a language arts program for her (which I will talk about in a bit) but I was finally able to make some pretty sound decisions after I attended the Texas Homeschool Coalition Convention in August.  Wow, did that convention open my eyes!  My heart was overjoyed to be with so many other families that have the same passion for educating their children and to meet with all of the curriculum vendors.  It was amazing!

While Catherine is 2nd grader age wise, most of her curriculum is on a 3rd grade level.  She is one smart little girl, because each year we wind up ending school earlier than anticipated because of crazy, busy schedules that seem to plague us in April.

Again, for this year we chose My Father’s World as the spine of our program.  I just love how they set up their curriculum and how well rounded it is.  I have also really been looking forward to this year where we are studying about countries and cultures.  While we studied some countries in kindergarten after I ditched the curriculum we were using at the time, this time it will be more focused.  I have seriously been looking forward to doing this program for 3 years!

1-IMG_0723My Father’s World will be focused on geography, Bible, social studies, and crafts.

Language Arts is the only subject that we are starting at the 2nd grade level.  Somehow last year I did not go into LA as in depth as I should have.  I was so focused on teaching Catherine to read and read well, that I lost focus on teaching her about the mechanics of the English language and the writing.

I had first chosen Abeka as the program we would use for LA but after visiting the vendors at the conference, I ended up choosing Rod & Staff.  They were highly recommended by many, many families because of how thorough and yet gentle their approach is.  It’s a very black & white, to the point and with not a lot of fluff type of program.  I shied away from that because I tend to gravitate to loud & colorful text, graphics and worksheets.  After looking at the textbooks a bit more in depth, I figured that for her core LA & spelling, we would go with Rod & Staff.  I will be supplementing it with BJU Press (which I already had) and the Write Source series by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

1-IMG_0724Math was another tough subject for me to choose as well.  I am absolutely terrible at math and I don’t want my lack of mathematical fortitude to get in the way of Catherine learning this subject.  I really struggled with math (just ask my Dad) and I definitely don’t want Catherine to struggle.  As the years go on, I will have to become more dependent on John, the curriculum, and some tutors to get her where she needs to be.  At first I had chosen Math-U-See because of the DVD that comes the program but after looking at Christian Light Education (CLE) at the conference, I decided to go with them.  Like Rod & Staff, CLE is a Mennonite published curriculum.  They provide a thorough, yet gentle approach to math that is broken down into small bite sized increments.  It’s a spiral program, which I like.  And it is designed to be an eventually self-taught curriculum (which is hard for me to fathom).  Again, there is not a lot of fluff or flashy graphics but I have come to grips with that.  For the first couple of weeks we will be doing some review using Math-U-See, which I had purchased used.  And I plan on using the program as supplement to CLE as we need it.

1-IMG_0725This year we will also be doing some basic computer applications and a science program that John and I found at the convention.  She will also be taking a science class from an individual that teaches homeschool classes.

We have already been in school for two weeks.  Since we seem to have to finish up school in the mid-spring time frame, I like to get a jump on things earlier in the summer.  So far the programs have worked out well.  The first week we spent doing a unit study on the Statue of Liberty since the My Father’s World program hadn’t kicked into full gear yet.  We had a lot of fun with that!  And we have also been doing a unit study on horses since we were supposed to do that over the summer and never got around to it.

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1-IMG_0727So far things are going pretty well.  I spent all of last week sick with some sort of respiratory crud, so Catherine just worked on the basics.  This week I am working on getting back into the swing of things.  Hopefully, we will have a great year this year and learn lots of new things!!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Saying Good-Bye?

I think this may be the beginning of the end for the blog.  It makes me sad in a way to think about this because I have been writing this blog for over 7 years.  My life, though, is starting to burst at the seams and something has to give.  Family, work, and now homeschool…and especially work and homeschool have made me busier than ever.  I am not sure when or how my life seemed to start feeling as if it’s being sucked dry and yet drowning all at the same time but here I am, exhausted and overwhelmed at the end of the day.  Guess what’s suffering?  Anything and everything that is extra-curricular…photography, blogging, hanging out with friends (although I am going to the movies with some friends tomorrow night!).

I want to be able to write my memories down and to capture the everyday but honestly, I’m so tired by the time that I put Catherine down at the end of the day that the last thing I want to do is sit at my computer and write.  With 20+ days between my posts, I think the writing is on the wall that it might be time to let this go.

This might be a slow transition.  I will let you know though when I decide to close up shop.

Homeschooling Into Week 4

We are officially entering into week 4 of our homeschooling journey.  So far there hasn’t been any major disasters.   It’s been a lot easier than I thought and yet at the same time it is a difficult as I have thought.  It’s such a learning curve for the both of us so adjusting to the schedule and following a curriculum is a bit crazy but all in all, we are enjoying our adventure.

What I love about homeschooling is that we can pick up and move our classroom to anywhere we choose.  We were reading about clownfish and camouflage, so the next day we packed up the sketch pad and the colored pencils and headed to the aquarium.  We studied the fish and she got to see firsthand some of the things we had been studying.  We then set up camp in front of a fish tank and she picked out some fish to color and sketch.  Art and science at one time, you can’t beat it!

We also spent some time watching an I-Max about polar bears.  This week we are studying bears and she was able to recall what she learned from that movie three weeks ago.

We chose the curriculum called Animals and their Worlds by Winter Promise.  She is such an animal nut that when I happened upon this company, I knew this was what we were going to use for the year.  So far we love it although we have had to tweek it to make it more understandable for her.  She is quite a smart child so there are quite a few concepts she has gotten a grasp of.  It’s pretty fascinating what information she retains.  I love this program because it is quite hands on with lots of exploration of the world around her.  Right now we are studying the woods and animals that live in the woods.  We have picked a small square in our backyard to study the plants and animals in that area.  It has been so much fun to look for bugs and birds and leaves and then study them.  I have to say it has been overwhelmingly hot to spend too much time outdoors.  I’m really looking forward to spending some time outside once it cools down.  The curriculum even had us build an exploration backpack that consists of all kinds of fun things to observe nature.

We also spend time on craft projects to go along with animals she is learning about and the letters and numbers that are integrated into the program.  They have some super cute projects that we have enjoyed doing!  I have to say though that John has been doing quite a few of the crafts with her.

To supplement the animal program we are using Winter Promise’s language arts program to help Catherine learn to read.  Teaching her how to read scares me as much as having to potty train her.  Their program has made the process enjoyable and it’s so amazing to watch her read short words!  We are also using Horizons Math.  Math scares me more than reading because I have always been TERRIBLE at math (just ask my dad.  I gave him many of his gray hairs!).  Once kindergarten math is done, John will have to start teaching it and I’m pretty sure I will need a workbook to learn with Catherine!

Our school week is short, only 4 days and the time we spend per day is only 2-3 hours. at the most.  I couldn’t believe how quickly we were able to get through the work and most of the work is fun!

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