Simplifying Our Homeschool

As we are winding up this school year we are making a few changes! I have been using curriculum that we (teacher and student) seem to like most of the time. So we are going to continue on with it and purchase the next grades up. We are not in a major rush to do so because we are still working through our current books. I do have one purchase that I am looking forward to getting soon for health. It is the American Girl “The Care and Keeping of You: The body book for girls.” book for 8-13 year olds (I think that is the age range). This should be a good book for my little tween.

I have been going over tons of ideas in order to simplify our finished homework/storage situation. We have been using very wiggly binders with printed worksheets and loose leaf paper for book work. I would have taken a picture but I had already moved everything to a new location.This was more than a bit cluttering. We thought about one giant binder (the new location) for finished work. I switched some over and it is terrible because of the combo of loose leaf paper and worksheets over loaded it and still have more work to put in……no good!

Over loaded binder with more finished work to add and a couple of weeks of work left to do....

Over loaded binder with more finished work to add and a couple of weeks of work left to do….

The more my husband and I talked about it, and made a trip to Office Depot, we have come up with the plan for a filing box for previous grades and finished work (file box and folders to be purchased), current work folder per subject, and composition notebook per subject(no pages getting lost).  I also have a folder or accordion folder (still on the fence of which I want to use. I am leaning toward the multi-layered folder because it is less bulky) for pre-printed worksheets, a zip top pouch for work to be graded (a work in progress), a folder to record reading assignments, a binder for grade sheets, and a planner.

A folder and matching composition notebook per subject.

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I hope that this will work as well as I think it will. We will know for sure when we have worked with it for a while. Another change is that instead of working straight through year round we plan to take a month off starting July 17th. A break to relax and see friends, do what ever, and for me to get everything graded/filed from this year and prepared for the next school year. (+ filing intent form with the school district) So quite a bit to do between now and August 17th our start date. Leave me a comment if you would like more detail about anything.

Quick information about this planner:  It is a quite small weekly and monthly planner, approximately 5 in. X 7 3/4 in. Distributed by Wal-Mart. (No real maker info.) I actually bought both of these last year because I was certain that I would like it and wanted to have another for the next year. I thought correctly!!!

I really like its’ features.

  • It has 3 years at a glance in the front.
  • 12 Monthly calenders that you fill in yourself (month, dates, year) =Customizable!!!!
  • Lots of space for notes
  • Weekly 2 page layout where you write everything in = Customizable!!!!
  • Several pages for important contact information (group leaders, group members, library, dept of education, etc….)
  • It only cost about $4
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Developing a Green Thumb

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Top left to right: Geranium, petunia,carnation, aloe vera, row 2: salvia, calibrachoa

Like I have mentioned in other posts: I have an issue with blocking new things out mentally. If I think I can’t do something, then I won’t. I set up tons of barriers within my mind that make whatever the new thing is impossible. I stress out and don’t even given myself a chance to learn it, because I know that I just can’t. Well, I am pushing myself this year! Still sticking to my resolution. I am proud of all the growth (pun intended!LOL)

For the longest time I felt like a plant murderer. I could not keep a plant alive and did not /could not know anything about taking care of plants. I recently got a beautiful plant for Mother’s Day because I wanted to face those fears and really give it a try. It is growing beautifully by the way!!!!

I recently went on a quick run to the store to grab food for dinner and I heard over the PA System a store announcement: “Garden Center has carts full of plants on sale for only 25 cents!! Come and get yours while they last!” Well me and my developing green thumb thought “well here’s my chance to give this a real try on the cheap, I still have potting soil at home and plenty of pots to fill”. So I almost raced to the other side of the store. I wanted to be the first just in case there were any perennials (ones that grow back every year or stay nice all year long). There were! Granted I had no idea of what they were, but I knew any that I picked needed to be for full sun. The only place I have for plants is in full sun. I grabbed a blue star (P), salvia (P), 2 petunias (A), 2 geraniums (A), carnations (A), and calibrachoa (A). (Perennial/Annual)Two of these came with nice planters so if I really did poorly on reviving these sun scorched plants then I at least I got planters out of the deal. (originally about $10 and $25 for those two) The plants we on sale because they were in poor shape. I wanted a little challenge to boost my growing green thumb. I did pick up some bigger pots for the larger plants and ones I wanted to plant together. I am not certain but I think I mentioned in another post that we separated and repotted our sickly aloe vera plants which are now quickly on the mend and also tried to start roots on wild rose cuttings (4, but only one seems have taken root). If I did not mention it in an earlier post then I just did. With the help of my husband, daughter, and neighbor boys (also home schoolers) we got them all planted.

Cuttings of wild roses only one of the four have taken root.

Cuttings of wild roses only one of the four have taken root.

Our repotted aloe vera.

Our repotted aloe vera.

As I was getting all of the necessary things together to repot all of my new plants to revive. I remembered that we had gotten seeds to start container vegetable gardens that we never did a whole lot with, and some flower seeds. I had extra pots so I figured this would be a nice project for Bug to do. She was really excited because these are “hers”. She wants her own plants to nurture. She really has wanted her own garden for a while.

Bug's seeds for Marigolds, mixed flowers, and double dwarf sweet williams.

top left blue star and Bug’s seeds for Marigolds, mixed flowers, and double dwarf sweet williams.

We got these plants on June 9th and now it is June 16th. When we brought them home they were in bad need of water. I mixed up some Miracle Gro and gave them a boost so I could repot them the next day. I have kept a very close eye on them watering and pruning them as needed. They have all perked up and some have produced flowers! IN ONE WEEK!!!!! I am so proud of myself!!!! I am really doing this! The carnations are half good and half dead only a little better than when I bought them. When these croak I plan to use it’s planter to start an indoor herb garden with some of the seeds. The planter is long and narrow; just right for a window sill. I was going to use one of our large older pots for something new, but found that a plant that was growing in our back yard had wandered into the pot and started growing quite nicely.It is an asiatic day flower that only blooms its little blue flowers in the morning.  I just cleared out the debris and gave it a Miracle Gro boost as well. I am thrilled by all of the progress the plants and I have made. I look forward to taking care of them each day. Paying close attention to the amount of sun, water, and rain that threatens to drown them.

The blue star and planted seeds.

The blue star and planted seeds.

I even got a bit of a surprise in the new hanging planter as I was merrily pruning dead leaves off of it. Something was alive in there and I had had my hands in there for several minutes. I jumped back and said ugly words (just telling the truth here! I did not expect to see eyes in my plant.) I finally composed myself and found a beautiful little frog hiding from the hot sun. I got my daughter so she could see it, took pictures, and later showed my husband. We looked him up and found that he is a brown tree frog. Sadly he has moved on. I guess he didn’t like all of the nosy neighbors peeking in on him….

I am looking forward to all of the beauty that will hopefully bloom with this new project.

Our little froggy friend. The brown tree frog.

Our little froggy friend. The brown tree frog in our hanging petunia plant.

Tinkering with Papaw

There are days when fond memories float through my head reminding me of precious moments with those loved ones who passed long ago. I wrap these memories around me like a warm blanket and hold on to them tightly. I don’t want them to fade. Fade they eventually do. The details aren’t as sharp, the words spoken may not come to mind,but the feel of the moments hold on. I may not think of these times every day, but when they do come about I cherish them and know that even for that short time my loved one is with me. I can feel their presence and I often speak to them letting them know that I feel them with me. I have lost many people in my life, but the ones that I feel with me the most are the ones I was the closest to. My Mamaw ans Papaw…

Growing up I was Papaw’s little buddy. We did all kinds of things together and I loved taking in all of the things that he could teach me. Yes we tinkered, fished, bird watched, and did competitive word searches together, but it wasn’t about those things really. It was being close to this kind hearted man who was showing me how to be an adult eventually. He would talk to me, tell me stories, and gently guide me to right instead of wrong. He taught me not so much of the “right” way but of the patient way.

He loved children! It’s a good thing too, because before he passed he fathered five of his own and was the proud grandpa to ten (now 11) grandkids. He and my Mamaw also took in one of us to help raise. They were the babysitters for our working parents. We spent a whole lot of time together that I will cherish my entire life.

You see Papaw was the neighborhood grandpa in a way. The kids knew that he had the love, patients, skill, and tools to fix their broken bikes, or to just chat with to make it all better. He was just that awesome! Kids would see his old white pickup truck in the driveway, either back from work or fishing, and they would have no problem coming to the house for his assistance. They would wonder around the yard looking for him, knock on the shed or house doors to find him with a smile. He would gladly lower his truck’s tailgate, flip the bike upside down and get to work. He would teach along the way and the kids were fond of him and listened. He mended hearts and bikes for kids at least 5 streets over. His side yard looked like it was part of a scrap yard with all sorts of materials to pick from. If he didn’t have the part he needed it is possible that he would find it in there or make it from something in there. I adored every moment I spent with him even if they sometimes consisted of a lunch made of vienna sausages, potted meat, and crackers. I was his buddy and he was mine!

Not too long ago the kids in my neighborhood realized that I knew a little about fixing bikes (thanks to the patients of my Papaw). When my daughter is out playing with them and something goes wrong they know they can come to me. (refer to ’tis the season of boo-boos”) Anyway, the other day the neighborhood kids were out playing and we were all inside. I heard a small tap at the door and it was one of our dainty little friends shyly asking me to help put her chain back on her bike because the older boy told her that I knew how and wouldn’t mind doing it. I went out to help and tried my best with two bikes and a scooter. I couldn’t really fix any of them because I didn’t have the right tools. I did have my Papaws spirit with me and it warmed my heart. I have been thinking of all of those tinkering times with him ever since.

When I came in from helping the kids with their bikes my husband said “you know that reminds me of what you told me about your grandpa.”  I had just been thinking that and holding on to it tightly letting all of those memories float around me and hold me for a little while.

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