Printable Book Report for Middle Grades

Free Printable Book Report for Middle Grades - the simple hive

There are many reasons I love homeschooling.  I love the fact that the kids and I can complete morning chores in a calm manner before starting the school day.  I love that I we can have healthy lunches and have meaningful conversations.  I love hearing my son pick out tunes on his Grateful Dead Guitar.  Mostly I love that I can teach in my pajamas or, if I’m feeling fancy, my yoga pants!

It’s not all a bed of roses, though.  Well maybe it is.  Roses have thorns, after all, and thorns hurt!

One thing about homeschooling that hurts, is that my older daughter doesn’t love to read.  I’m not sure how it’s possible she is my child.  I devour books nightly.  I would get seriously bent out of shape if someone took away my Nook.  My sister doesn’t like to read.  Maybe my daughter is lacking the book-loving gene or maybe it mutated into the shopping gene.  Genetics are funny.

Even though she doesn’t enjoy reading, I still make her read great literature.  I’m mean that way.

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Charlotte Mason Homeschool for First Grade

 

Charlotte Mason Homeschool Plan for First Grade

Around this time every year, when our motivation for homeschooling begins to fizzle, I look back over the year to evaluate our success in our current homeschooling plan.  I look at the year, without any biases, to see what worked, what needs tweaking and what needs to be scrapped altogether.

Since this year was the first official year of homeschooling for Baby Honeybee, we had a little more structure than the previous years when her learning was led by her interests.  For Kindergarten, I had a plan that was inspired by Charlotte Mason.  It was a good framework, but has evolved through the months to look slightly different from what I had envisioned.

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Exploring the World with Little Passports

Little Passports - A Global Adventure

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on a link and purchase anything, I may receive a commission. Also, I will receive product compensation for this post.  The opinions are my own and I have only signed up as an affiliate because I believe in the value of  Little Passports.

I’ve been working on next year’s homeschool plan for Baby Honeybee and have been searching through mountains of curriculum to find the perfect resources to develop a love a learning.

I’ve been looking at all subjects, and for Social Studies, I am falling hard for Little Passports.  I have been on the fence for a little while, unsure of committing to a monthly subscription, but I have decided to take a chance.  After reading all about what is included in the service and each month’s adventure kit, I know Baby Honeybee will fall head over heels in love with it, too.  At least in deep like.  She’s too old to fall in love.  She’s five.

If you think it’s strange that a grown woman is gaga over curriculum, let me explain myself.

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Homeschooling on a Budget

Homeschooling on a Budget

Not unlike many homeschooling families, we are on a strict budget.  If you homeschool, you know that buying curricula can be a major annual expense.  Multiply that by several children all on different levels and it can quickly become a budget buster!

I’m sharing a few ways that I cope with the expense of buying curriculum.  These are by no means revolutionary or ground-breaking, but they might be of some use.

Buy and Swap Online

One of my favorite websites is PaperBackSwap.com.  After becoming  a new member, you list 10 books you would be willing to mail if someone requested it from you.  After your 10 books are posted, you will receive 2 credits that allow you to request 2 free books from other members.  When a member requests a book from you and they receive it, you gain another credit for another free book.

With this site, we have been able to pass along the books we no longer need and receive new books that tie in with our school lessons.  If you use a literature-based curriculum like Sonlight, this can be a huge money saver.

Another way we save on curriculum is to buy it used on eBay.  In March and April I sit down to fine tune next year’s school plan for each of my kids.  After I have a good idea of which curriculum I need, I begin stalking.  At first, I watch a few auctions to get an idea of the going price.  Then I become a full-on, lurk-in-the-shrubbery (figuratively speaking) stalker.  I have purchased the more expensive curriculum this way.

Half.com is another great resource when buying readers not available at the local libraries.  Many times, sellers using a literature-based curriculum will list all their readers for a particular year at the same time.  By searching for a title and then looking at the other books available by that seller, you can quickly scan to see what they have available.  When buying multiple books from the same seller  you save on shipping charges.

Buy Used from Local Sources

Once a year, our local libraries host a huge book sale.  On the last day of the sale, they hand you a large reusable tote bag at the door and it’s $10 for all the books you can fit in the bag.  We have purchased much curriculum and many readers this way.

Used bookstores are another great way to find classic literature and, if you’re lucky, some popular curriculum.  The books are used, not the stores.  Just so we’re clear.

Goodwill, Salvation Army and other thrift stores often have a large book selection.  Their prices for books tend to be very inexpensive.  Many times, I’ve found a Teacher’s Guide for a subject that I can use as a road map to construct lessons.  This works better for lower grades.

A quick search on Craigslist will sometimes result in a good buy.  We began homeschooling with the bulk of our curriculum purchased this way.

Another great source in our community has been local yard sales.  We live in rural area with many Christian homeschooling families.  A quick detour on our way home has given us the opportunity to buy books and curriculum at very low prices.  It has also led us to know our neighbors better.  Win-win.

Buy New from Local Sources

If you didn’t know already (I didn’t until a couple of months ago) Barnes and Noble offers an Educator’s Discount to homeschoolers!  I was over the moon on this one.  Then, a little baffled that I never knew this before, as we spend so much time there.  A short application will get you a card you can use that day.

Half Price Books is another book retailer that offers a Teacher’s Discount card (homeschool teachers included).

Don’t be afraid to ask any chain retailer if they have a program that would be of benefit to you.

More Expensive Doesn’t Always Mean Better

After struggling with Tween Bee over math, I was desperately seeking out a curriculum that would fit her learning style.  After trying Abeka, Horizons and various workbook supplements, we made the switch to Life of Fred math.  We had to back up several books to help fill in some learning gaps.  Even when purchased brand new, these books are affordable.  The great news is they are hardcover and non-consumable so they can be used again for the younger ones.

Because Life of Fred has worked so well with Tween Bee, I ordered Life of Fred Trigonometry for Teen Bee for next year.  After looking through the book, he decided to begin ahead of schedule and has remarked several times how much he loves Fred.

Fred has become a family friend.  The kids fill me in on what is happening in Fred’s life and talk about him as if they know him personally.  Fred has saved us from tantrums and tears, and that’s just me.  Tween Bee actually enjoys her math now and has bumped it to the first subject of the day.

Ordering online is easy.  Visit stanleyschmidt.com for ordering info and to view sample lessons.

Free is best

Library cards are free to obtain and to use.  So get one already!  Even if weekly trips to the library aren’t your thing, many libraries offer a free download service with an impressive selection of titles.  Whether you use an e-reader or read on your computer, several formats are available.  No car? No problem.

Libraries are not only good source for free books.  We supplement our history lessons with DVDs from the library.  Popcorn and history go well together!

Check your local library schedule and let the kids participate in the scheduled activities.  Our library offers weekly story time for younger kids.  Knitting and crochet classes are often taught, as well as drawing classes for teens. Take advantage of this valuable, free resource.

Useful education-based websites are popping up like dandelions in my yard.  Many offer free printables, lap books, tutorials, science experiments and other freebies.  Consult the Google.

My last tip:

Find and follow homeschool bloggers.  They are a treasure trove of useful information.  Heather Sanders if a favorite of mine.  I’m not sure if it’s her writing style or the fact that her kids are roughly the same ages as mine that attract me.  Many of her posts have an immediate practical application for our family.  Whatever the reason, I find her posts informative and refreshing.  Hop over and check her out.

Note:  I am not affiliated with any company for which I have provided links.  I only offer them to you as a tool to further your research.  They have no idea who I am.

Charlotte Mason Inspired Kindergarten Plan

Charlotte Mason This summer Baby Honeybee turns five.  I’m not sure how she can be almost five years old, seeing how she was just a tiny baby yesterday.  She’s magical. Like unicorns!  That must be it.

Magical or not, she still demands an education.  She pretends to not know how to spell or read, but I’m on to her.

Because this is the time of year I typically evaluate our curriculum to see what is working and what needs to be tossed to save our sanity, I’ve put together Baby Honeybee’s Kindergarten plan inspired by the Charlotte Mason method of teaching.

I love the way Charlotte Mason treated children as little people and didn’t squash their love of learning with textbooks and math drills.  I also agree with her philosophy of a child’s need for outdoor exploring and activities that nurture a their natural curiosity.

Keeping that in mind, I have put together a plan for Baby Honeybee that will fit her personality and fit in also with our teaching Tween Bee and Teen Bee, who will be a senior next year.

Thunk.  I just fell out of my chair.

College Bee graduates this August.

Thunk.  I just died.

Ok, I’m not dead yet.  I think I’ll go for a walk.  I feel happy.  I feel happy!!  (Can anyone name that movie?  If you can, we should be friends.)

Moving along.

Reading

We read to Baby Honeybee daily.  To say she loves books doesn’t even come close to describe how she feels.  She will chase down and harass us until we cave.  It’s cute.

If you’re not familiar with the Charlotte Mason style of learning, living books are read aloud to younger children then they are asked to retell the story in their own words.  This allows the child to organize the story in their heads and is the first step to learning reading comprehension skills

Some of the Read Alouds will include:

  • Leaves from a Child’s garden of Verses – Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Mother Goose’s Little Treasures – Iona Opie/Rosemary Wells
  • Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present – Charlotte Zolotow
  • Where the Wild Things Are – Maurice Sendak
  • The Princess and the Pea – adapted by Janet Stevens
  • The Tale of Benjamin Bunny – Beatrix Potter
  • The World of Christopher Robin – A.A. Milne
  • The World of Pooh – A.A. Milne
  • The Velveteen Rabbit – Margery Williams
  • Little House Series – Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • The Boxcar Children – Gertrude Chandler Warher
  • The Story of Dr. Doolittle – Hugh Lofting
  • The Story About Ping – Marjorie Flack
  • Beezus and Ramona – Beverly Cleary (along with other books by this author)
  • Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – Judi Barrett
  • Least of All – Carol Purdy
  • Johnny Appleseed: Story of a Legend – Will Moses

This list is based on books we have or can check out from our local library.  This is not a complete list by any means.  It seems all my kids were born with the ability to persuade me into buying them books just about anywhere books are sold.

I’m a sucker for kids and animals and they all know it.

Handwriting

dry-erase alphabet binder

dry-erase alphabet binder

I made this binder for her this year to begin practicing her letters and numbers.  I found some free printables online and slipped the pages into sheet protectors.  With a dry-erase marker, she is able to reuse the worksheets.  It stores easily and it was very inexpensive to make.  As she masters writing her letters and numbers, the pages can be swapped out for copywork, drawing or math sheets.

History & Geography

Usborne Children’s Encyclopedia

We will use The Little House Series by Laura Ingalls Wilder to begin our journey of American history.  We will sew (with lacing cards, plastic canvas and yarn), grow our own food, bake bread, make butter, raise livestock and live like pioneers.  We attempt to do much of this anyway, but we are spoiled with the luxuries of indoor plumbing and electricity.  I’m OK with that.

Math

math manipulatives

math manipulatives

Practice writing numbers with dry-erase binder pages.

Learn Shapes – Attribute Blocks by Learning Horizons.

This is a set of shapes of varying size, color and thickness.  With the shapes, children can sort and classify and learn how they are alike or different.

Counting games with marbles, cards and dominoes and dice games.  Yahtzee anyone?

Sorting items (like buttons and coins).

We also have a set of Cuisenaire Rods that have been and will continue to be useful with counting, sorting and pattern sequences.

Science & Nature

Berenstain Bear’s Big Book of Science and Nature

Nature Journal – Observe and draw plants, birds, insects, clouds, weather.  Basically we will spend time marveling at God’s creation.

Wonders of Science & Creatures of the Air and Sea – Reader’s Digest Pathfinders books

Magic School Bus books

My First Book About Space – Dinah L. Moche

Calendar & Clock

Learn days of the week and months.  I plan on letting her pick out her own calendar at the dollar store so it will be special for her.  I have no doubt it will have puppies and kitties on it.

For the clock, well, we will use a clock.

Building Healthy  Habits

This seems like a natural time to implement a Chore Chart for structure so she knows what is expected of her daily.  This will include tasks like: make bed, put away toys, feed Sam (her guinea pig), brush teeth, etc.  This sounds great in theory.  We shall see how it works.

Please and Thank You Book – Richard Scary.  This is so people won’t think she’s being raised by wolves.

Learn about healthy eating habits.

Physical Fitness – Outdoor play

Foreign Language

One of my goals for the year was to implement Spanish Immersion techniques to teach Baby Honeybee and Tween Bee and to reinforce what Teen Bee has been studying for the last two years.  For me, I would like to be able to say more than “I have a dog”.  It’s a bit awkward for others when that is my answer for every question asked.  I’m a natural conversationalist.  On opposite day.

Music

This year, we implemented a study of three composers each year.  So far, we have only studied Beethoven.  As we wrap up our math and science curriculum in the spring, we will have more time for music history studies.

Art

Not only will she be allowed to create her own masterpieces, but we will study three artists each year.  Tween Bee and Teen Bee will study the artists in depth.

Last, but certainly not least:

Bible Study

Baby Honeybee and Tween Bee have the best Sunday School teacher we could have ever wanted.  Not only is she kind and generous, but she has picked up on their learning styles and has been able to teach them while having fun.  They love their Sunday School teacher and she loves them.  When I have to fill in on the occasional Sunday, the girls grumble and groan.  I feel the love.

We have numerous children’s bible story books from which to learn, but this year we will be putting more effort into scripture memorization.  I have some ideas to incorporate this with art.  Stay tuned.

 

So that’s our Kindergarten curriculum in a nutshell.  The cost of this curriculum for us is zero dollars since we have all the resources available to us from the older kids.

Leave a comment and let me know if you have any thoughts or know of any resources that we shouldn’t be without in our homeschool.  I’m all ears!

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goat’s milk and honey soap in the crock pot

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When I tell people I make my own soap, I’m sure many of them think it’s a waste of time.  After all, soap is readily available in just about every grocery, drug, convenience and dollar store and it’s inexpensive.  So why do I make my own?  I’m glad you asked.

Your skin is your largest organ.  Some adults carry around 8 pounds or about 22 square feet of it.  While it does a good job at regulating temperatures and keeping our insides on the inside, it’s porous, and that means it is penetrable.  Some of the  stuff we put on the surface of our skin can make it’s way into our bodies.  If you are not convinced, think about the medication patch delivery system.

Because my girls suffer from food allergies and psoriasis, we spend more time than I would like traveling to and fro and sitting in the office of our allergist.  On his advice, we have been removing fragrances from the cleaning, laundry and toiletry supplies we use.  We have completely omitted dryer sheets (replaced with dryer balls) and said sayonara to store-bought liquid fabric softener in favor of homemade fabric softener and cleaning concentrate.  Our cleaning supplies are baking soda, vinegar and a few essential oils like tea tree and eucalyptus.  When extra cleaning power is needed, I break out the big guns like borax and washing soda.

Now, back to why I make my own soap.  I don’t know what is in the mass-produced soap.  The “fragrance” on the list of ingredients doesn’t have to be disclosed.  It can be a dangerous cocktail of chemicals that have been linked to cancer and  phthalates that can lead to asthma and allergies.  Not in my bath water.  No thanks.

If you are a homeschooling family, like we are, a lesson in soap-making is a great way to connect chemistry and real life.  Do a unit study of organic chemistry and make something useful in the process.  Embrace your inner geek!  We all have one!

There are other goat’s milk soaps on the market that are safe and lovely, but at 5-6 dollars a bar, it’s not doable for my family of six.

So that’s why I make my own soap.  I get to design the soap with the cleansing, lathering and moisturizing properties I want.  Fragrance and color can be added by using essential oils and natural pigments.  Although, my favorite unscented “scent” comes naturally from goat’s milk and honey.

Here’s how it came to be.

A few years ago, I made my very first batch of cold-process soap.   It was unscented and made with goat’s milk. It was mild and even though it did not contain any added fragrance, it smelled heavenly. There is something about the scent of goat’s milk when it “cooks” in the soap that I find irresistible. If you don’t have any idea what I mean, then you need this soap in your life!

Today, because I needed mild soap and didn’t want to wait, I made that same goat’s milk soap by the hot process method. This is the first time I have used this method and I have to say, I’m a convert. You see, with the cold process method the bars require a curing period to make sure that the oils are completely saponified and the lye is no longer present. The curing period can last for several weeks and is difficult if you want it now!  With the hot process method, the lye “cooks” away in the crock pot (yes, you can make soap in the crock pot!) and the soap is ready to use in as little as 12 hours.

I want my soap now! My winter-ravaged skin needs it. I’ll bet many of you feel the same way, so I’ll tell you how I did it!

You will need:

  • a kitchen scale that measures ounces or grams
  • safety goggles
  • gloves
  • face mask
  • spoon for stirring
  • glass container for mixing milk and lye
  • crock pot
  • olive oil (22.4 ounces or 635.029 grams)
  • coconut oil (8.96 ounces or 254.012 grams)
  • castor oil (0.64 ounces or 18.144 grams)
  • goat’s milk (12.16 ounces or 344.73 grams)
  • honey (2 Tbsp)
  • lye (4.521 ounces or 128.158 grams)
  • pH strips (or phenolphthalein )

You also need 2 Pringles cans to use as molds (my kids thought I was the bees knees for buying Pringles) or a soap mold that accommodates 2 pounds of soap.

Warning:  Lye is a caustic substance.  Failure to follow safety precautions and to wear proper safety gear can result in injury.

This recipe is for two pounds of soap. It fills two Pringles cans about 3/4 of the way. It’s important to note that Pringles can may only be used during the hot-process soap method because the soap being put into the cans is already soap.  Do not use Pringles cans with cold-process soap as it still contains lye until it is cured.

Safety first: If you make any changes to the oils, run your oils of choice through a soap calculator. SoapCalc.net is the one I used.

When using goat’s milk or any other milk in soap making, it must be ice cold to keep the sugars from caramelizing too much and creating an off-putting scent.  On the morning I make soap, I measure out the amount of milk needed for the recipe into a container and place it in the freezer.  Within a couple of hours, the milk is slushy and ready for the lye.

weighed oils into crock pot

weighed oils into crock pot

Weigh each oil and place in the crock pot on low.  While the oils are melting, measure out your lye (I used a disposable paper cup).  Be sure to wear your safety goggles, mask and gloves when handling lye.

Turn off the crock pot when the oils have melted.

Transfer your slushy goat’s milk into a large glass measuring cup, or pitcher.  Wearing all you safety gear (long sleeves are a good idea here, too) sprinkle the lye slowly into the milk and stir gently until completely dissolved.  I add the lye to the liquid outside to avoid breathing in any fumes.  I recommend doing this.  Always.

Safety note:  (This post is full of them!) Never pour your liquids into the lye.  It can make a very dangerous volcano-like situation.

Once the lye is fully dissolved in the milk, slowly pour into the oils.  Stir gently with a spoon to mix, then break out the stick blender!  I wouldn’t think of making soap without one.  I’m pretty sure by the time I stirred the oil/milk/lye mixture to trace, my arms would fall off.  I’m pretty attached to my arms, so I use a stick blender.  You should, too.

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With the stick blender, immersion blender or whatever you want to call it (call it Hank, if you want) blend until the mixture looks like a soft-set pudding.  This is called “trace” because your blender (or Hank) will leave a trace of a trail when pulled through the mixture.  This stage usually takes 8-12 minutes, depending on the oils being used.

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When trace happens, turn on the crock pot to low and cover with the lid.  I offset the lid slightly so the heat stays in, but the lid does cause condensation.

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As the soap cooks, it will bubble along the edges.  Stir with a spoon occasionally to keep the mixture cooking evenly.  While cooking, the soap mixture looks like applesauce.  Resist the temptation to taste it.  When the soap is ready, it will resemble waxy mashed potatoes.  At this point, use a pH test strip to make sure the lye is cooked out.  Remove a small blob of soap mixture and test it with your pH strips or phenolphthalein, whichever one you’re using.  Your goal is a pH of 8.2-10.  Some soap makers use the zap test.  If lye is still present, the soap will zap your tongue like a 9-volt battery.  When the soap is fully cooked, it just tastes like soap.  Using pH strips or phenolphthalein is more accurate and the recommended way to go.  Do that.

This recipe took about an hour and 15 minutes to cook.

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When you have determined that your soap is fully cooked, turn off the crock pot and add the honey.

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Stir until the honey is fully incorporated.  If using any other additives, such as coloring or essential oils, add them at this point.

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Spoon the mixture into the Pringles cans.  (You do not need to line them with parchment or freezer paper.  Beautiful, isn’t it?)  Work quickly and tap the cans on the counter occasionally to avoid air bubbles.  Fill the cans no more than 3/4 of the way.  You need a little space to cut and tear the can away when the soap has hardened.

DSC_0176

The soap needs at least 12 hours to cool and harden in the molds.  When ready to unmold, take a sharp knife and cut straight down and then tear the can off the rest of the way.  Slice into bars.

Congratulations!  You made soap!

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I usually let my bars sit on a wire rack to continue to harden after I cut them into bars.  By allowing them to dry out, they last longer in the shower.

This recipe yields 12-14 bars (3/4″-1″ in thickness).

As soon as I force more Pringles on my kids and the youth group (or I make my own wooden soap mold), I’ll be making more soap in the crock pot.  I’m see  Lime-Basil or Lavender-Mint in my near future!

What about you?  I’m curious.  What is your favorite soap scent?

(I am also curious how many people have the urge to watch “Fight Club” after making soap.  Is it just me?  Please tell me I’m not alone.)

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a simple plan

2014

This is the year we go back to basics.  We already live fairly simple lives as compared to many families of our size, but life gets out of control in a large spiral then gains momentum.  Before you realize, it’s string cheese for dinner as you fly out the door to youth group or 4H meetings.

This must not continue.

I’m sharing my plan for 2014 to accomplish my goals for health, homeschool, church, my home and my garden.  It was born from exasperation stemming from too many days of buzzing around in circles and accomplishing little.  I need results, people!  I thrive on them, in fact.

In sharing my thoughts, I hope to clarify the foggy areas and focus on my priorities.  Also, I feel if I don’t get some organization to my thoughts, they will make my head explode in dazzling display of glitter, rainbows and unicorns.  Oh sure, that sounds fun for you, but I wouldn’t be right after that.

So here I am.  I am hoping you will keep me focused and hold me accountable.

Health

  • Drink plenty of water daily.  This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s so hard to remember.  I begin the day with good habits but as the day progresses, I get busy and never have a free hand to perform the physical act of holding a glass and bringing it to my lips. I need a beer hat with the flexible tube straws to hold a couple of bottles of water.  You may think I’m just saying this be funny, but I kid you not.  Don’t be surprised if you ever meet me in person, is what I’m saying.
  • Incorporate more fruits and veggies into daily diet and move away from meat-based meals. Buy organic produce when possible and grow more in the garden.  We eat healthy meals overall, but we have room for improvement.  We deal with multiple food allergies in our family so meals can become complicated when trying to feed everyone.  Over the years, I have tweaked recipes to allow for delicious and healthy meals for all.  We have a good-sized garden so with a little more effort, we can achieve this goal.
  • Cardio and strength-training workouts.  We have an old one-and-a-half story bungalow.  Before we bought our house, the upstairs had been gutted and renovations began.  We spent a couple of long, dusty days up there recently to organize it more efficiently.  I now have a sewing and crafts area and we now have a workout area for the weight bench and elliptical.  Now I have no excuse for not exercising.  I have mixed emotions about this.
  • Schedule annual check-ups for everyone early in the year.  I’m guessing most of you don’t have an issue with this like I do.  I usually put off scheduling doctor appointments until closer to the month we need them.  My thinking is that I will be better able to schedule appointments around the other chaos and obligations.  This. Never. Works.
  • Start a routine of getting the kids out for a daily walk.  We homeschool and the day can get pretty hairy in the afternoon if the kids don’t get a break from schoolwork and chores.  A short hike through our property or to the mailbox (we live in the country) will hopefully prevent them from turning into angry bees.

Homeschool

  • Keep ongoing records on computer for easy management and to print year-end records to be stored with work.  This is pretty straight forward, but up until now, I have been keeping handwritten records.  I know!  What was I thinking?
  • Allow for more field trips and journaling to replace textbook curriculum.  After all, I’m teaching them not just to make a living, but to make a life. We learn naturally from experiences. This might be the best thing for my little ADHD bee. She’s an eager learner when it doesn’t feel like learning.  
  • Incorporate life skills into homeschool day. Teach cooking, fiscal responsibility and time management.  We all grow up and leave the hive someday. These skills aren’t optional.
  • Weekly trips to library for movies and books.  This is me being self-indulgent.  I love the library! I could live there! They won’t let me, though.  Need a business idea?  Library/B&B.  There you go.  You’re welcome.
  • Use Spanish immersion technique to reinforce what has already been learned by my older child and to begin teaching the girls.  I’m planning on driving my family crazy with this.  When they get frustrated with me and the shouting begins, I’ll shout  back “Espanol por favor!”.  This will be fun!

Church

  • Phase out responsibilities of youth group and Sunday school to prepare for busy school year.  I almost didn’t include this.  We currently are the youth leaders and Sunday school teachers for high school kids at our church.  These activities require planning and time in an already stretched schedule.  Many days I feel like we aren’t making a difference and anybody could take our place.  (Here is where I mentally scream and stomp and then sigh.)  God called us to do this. He led us here for a reason. So, phasing ourselves out of church responsibilities probably will not happen this year.  I think I’m ok with that.

Home & Garden

  • Improve soil in existing garden beds and maintain.  Easy peasy.  We have plenty of organic compost.  The hard part is digging it out from the bottom of our bin.
  • Create cleaning schedule and keep clutter under control. This should more accurately state Blow the dust off the cleaning schedule created last year and put it to use!
  • Regularly go through household items and donate unwanted items.  When we cleaned upstairs to make room for a workout/sewing/lounge area, we cleared out and donated several bags full of clothing and items we no longer need.  Well, we haven’t donated them yet.  They are sitting in my kitchen.  I like to think of them as frumpy fans cheering me on as I channel my inner rockstar while I cook.  I feel badly as I kick them aside to access the lower cabinets.  They understand.

Cancel newspaper subscription and Netflix.  Done and woohoo!  Man, those two innocent-looking subscriptions are a beast to control!  Unfortunately our day doesn’t allow for sipping coffee leisurely while catching up on local events.  I have to say, newspaper wrangling just isn’t for me.  As for Netflix, it became a burden to sit down and watch a movie and return it in a timely manner.  We plan to check out movies from the library.  Problem solved.

This next goal doesn’t fit in any one category above, yet it fits perfectly in all of them.

Find the funny in everything.  Humor keeps me sane by laughing hysterically and it is everywhere!  We have all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but did you know it’s also the best workout?  It’s true (in my head).  If you laugh hard enough, it’s an excellent ab workout so you don’t have to spend any time upstairs in your newly created workout room.  Two birds, one stone.

Join me in my journey of simple living. If you have any tricks up your sleeve that help keep your life simple, I would love to know.