Adulting Update

It has been a little while since I made an adulting post that I promised many of. First off, I have been taking a mini break after writing such a detailed post about budgeting. Secondly, I have started working on my next adulating post on keeping and balancing a transaction/checkbook register, but have been having more technical difficulties with my word processing software. I am seriously having the worst luck with losing content while saving. Yes, while saving!!!! I hit the save icon and poof content gone and it backs out of the software. I am really not pleased with it!!!

I have been writing on my word processing software because here on WordPress the writing space was so small. I could not get the look I wanted because of not being able to see it all while typing. As I started writing this I realized that I now have a big writing space on WordPress. I know that I can save drafts here while I am working on them. I will have to start typing up my content directly on WordPress from now on.

It has been a busy January so far and it is gearing up to be a pretty busy February as well. Adulting has been happening for sure!

  • Homeschooling
  • Field Trip
  • Crazy Work Schedule to plan around
  • Checkbook Balancing
  • Budget Planning
  • Meal planning
  • Grocery Shopping
  • Cooking at home to save money
  • Keeping mine and my daughter’s dentist appointment (teeth cleaning)
  • Bill Paying
  • Vehicle Cleaning

These are just a few highlights.I know that my adult tasks are not the same as many other’s. I am a stay at home mom that takes care of all of the at home stuff. I do not work to make money from home. Home is my work! I manage all of the home tasks so that my husband only has to deal with outside work issues and can spend time with us on his time off. (Unless he wants to cook to give me a break, and in that case why would I not let him!?) This is the arrangement that works for us at this stage in our lives.

I am starting to ramble……so I will leave it at that for now. I will have an adulating post up about keeping and balancing a transaction/checkbook register soon. I am not going to say a specific date right now because it is a work in progress and detailed info like that has to be worded just right to make sense. It will be up soon though!

Adulting: Keeping a Basic Budget

 

The general idea of budgeting your money is pretty stressful, because it seems easy and so difficult all at the same time. It should be easy, right? I think it is the pressure behind it knowing that it is important that stops us in our tracks in fear of really messing up.

For the longest time our family/guardian managed our needs, the expenses, and the responsibilities that come with them. For most of us we haven’t had money of our own to manage. Any money received as a child is usually given as a gift to spend how one pleases. As a child you get excited about being able to purchase those things that wouldn’t be bought for you. In one quick moment you go from having little to no money, to being able to buy what you want within that range of funds. Then almost as swiftly as it arrived into your possession it has been spent. As a child those purchases would most likely end up with you having a bag of candy and a stomach ache from not heading your guardians advice to not eating all of that in one day. If wise choices were made then you have something to show for it, but often times it slips away on little things here and there. This also happens as an adult and you are left wondering where your hard earned money went. Not making wise decisions about purchases can get you into more trouble as an adult. I am not going to get into the doom and gloom of financial distress, but I assure you it is real and is not a place that you want to be.  Even as an adult with a solid income, it is possible to not have enough funds to take care of your responsibilities, and that is where budgeting your money can help

Budgeting, or holding certain amounts of money for only specific purposes, helps you to make wise money decisions..

To get started with budgeting you have to ask yourself some questions:

  • How much money do I have each pay period after taxes are removed?
  • How much money do I have each month after taxes? Total usable income for the month. Can I afford all of the expenses?
  • What are my bills/expenses for the pay period /month? (I personally separate mine by pay period so I will know if there will be enough funds left over for other budget categories that don’t include the bills, or if I have enough funds to pay some bills ahead of the due date.)
  • What other areas do I NEED to have money for? Groceries, gas/transportation, monthly medicines/prescriptions, etc.
  • What expenses are a set amount and what expenses fluctuate?

These may take some time to answer, because you may not be used to writing down this type of information. Keep track of this info for a month. You can do it on a piece of paper, a calendar, notebook, or planner.

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I know this looks like a lot of questions, but once you have these answered and get into the habit of having knowledge of your expenses it becomes a matter of just plugging in a few numbers. You’ll have total set amounts and total rounded amounts for each budget category. Evaluate for each pay period to see where your money needs to be distributed.

To find the rounded amount for fluctuating budgets, add the amounts for all of the numbers in that category to see how much was spent over that pay period. Round it up, this is a good starting point for that budget catagory (which is also subtacted from your check book register). Over time you will get an idea if more or less money is needed in that catagory.

An example of the rounded amount for a catagory:

5.75 + 10.34 + 98.25 +22.13 = 136.47    $136.47 rounded up to the next 10’s place $140 for that budget catagory.

You are in control and can change the amounts according to your needs.

Systems:

  • Some people like to use the envelope system. This is a cash system where your budget categories are represented by labeled envelopes holding that amount of cash for that specific purpose. I personally don’t use this method because our expenses are mostly paid electronically, but my husband used this method before we were married when most of his expenses could be paid locally.
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  • My preference is to use a written system along side my checkbook register to keep track of my purchases with my debit card. It is really not as difficult as it sounds. I keep only four things with me at all times to keep track of my budget: my wallet with debit card, checkbook/register, tiny budget book, and pen/pencil. Once I have my budgets set I keep a running total in my budget book as I subtract from those funds in the appropriate category.dscn3447dscn3445dscn3446

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Before separating funds into budgets I make sure that my checking account register is balanced. (This will be another post. Leave a comment if you are interested in learning how to balance a checkbook register, and any specific questions you have on the topic.)

* REMEMBER THIS IS ALL ON PAPER MOVING NUMBERS AROUND. THERE IS NO MONEY MOVING OUT OF YOUR ACCOUNT RIGHT NOW!!

  • Balance Checkbook Register (Know how much money you have)dscn3454
  • Use the gathered information from the month to set up budget categories.
  • Set your budget amounts for that pay period making sure that you have the money to cover all areas.dscn3455
  • Record in your checkbook register the money that is to go out or to be held and used a little at a time (Separate bills, Separate budget categories) Subtracting these amounts from your account total in your checkbook register.
  • Where ever you are keeping track of your budgets make sure that there is plenty of room to keep a running total and notes of when and where that money was spent. If the whole amount was not spent in that pay period either add it back to the checkbook amount or move it forward to the next pay period’s budget in that category (or savings).dscn3449dscn3457dscn3446
  • Go through and check your incoming and outgoing amounts for the next pay period to see if there is anything that needs to be paid early or money held to make the next pay period comfortable.

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To be honest, there are times where there are not enough funds to cover all of the bills, budgets, and outgoing needs. Sometimes there is just not enough money coming in, and that is a pay issue, but sometimes we just need to spend wisely. There may be places where you can spend less by changing habits, changing amount of services needed, changing to less expensive service providers, or using less of a costly thing. Using a budget helps us to be aware of our money and if a change is needed. Looking back on the budgeting records you can see where you may be over spending. You can make changes to have your money work best for you, and still feel freedom.

SAVINGS:

When you don’t make a lot of money saving is difficult. I have heard that you are supposed to pay yourself first before anything else. That is all well and good if you have the extra to begin with. What I say is, “After working out your budget with bills, food, gas, medicines, etc. How much of what is left can I put into savings?” Yes, that $10 is worth it! You put in more when you can, but even that little bit can get you to a better situation. My Savings category is not in every budget period (it needs to be and I should make that a priority…I think I will. It won’t hurt anything!)

Once your budgets are set and your money is balancing out then you can use the money as needed to pay those bills and spend from the categories. Keep track as you go so you don’t over spend.

I knew that having a budget was important, but I didn’t understand how much of an impact it would have on our lives.

  • We no longer stress over unpaid bills, and late fees.
  • We know that we can afford the food that goes in our cabinets.
  • We know right away if we have the money to go and do something fun.
  • Our credit score has steadily gone up so that we can move forward in our lives by being trusted with larger amounts on loans. (still keeping any new bills within our budget)
  • We do not need co-signers on loans.
  • We don’t live in fear or threatening collection calls.
  • We no longer have to borrow money with interest that is hard to pay back on the next pay day.
  • Our daughter witnesses how we manage the money and will know how to do this herself when she gets out on her own.

Don’t think of keeping a budget as a restriction, but more as a way of giving yourself permission to spend knowing that all of the important areas have already been accounted for.

Our new interactive notebook system…

I have decided to kick our floppy binders to the curb this year, or at least to the bookshelf to be used for other things. In place of what I now consider our “homeschool blunder” I have decided to use notebooks (composition notebooks so the pages don’t get weak and fall out) and simple folders for loose work until it makes its’ way into the filing box. I am getting these all ready for the new year and hope that this will be a fun and easy addition to our homeschooling routine.

My goals for this new concept are to help Bug learn more by taking notes to help along side her homework, get rid of bulk, and develop fun note taking skills. This new concept (to me) is called interactive notebooks. It is basically taking the idea of lapbooking and mashing it up in the same notebook as homework in an organized way.

From what I have seen there are a few key elements to making this notebook flow and work as it should.

  • Table of Content Pages for keeping track of where certain topics are in the notebook. With the information for the note taking pages I will have Bug highlight them so she can quickly see which pages to refer back to for a quick reminder. The information that I have chosen to include here is the date, content, and notebook page number. I used the lines already marked on the pages instead of creating new sections. Frankly there is no point in making new sections unless you are adding more information.DSCN4330
  • Numbered Pages these go hand-in-hand with the Table of Contents so you can find what you are looking for quickly… We as adults know how this works but it may be a new concept for the kiddos. I saw a tip to number the pages in the top right corner because it is easier to see while flipping pages. I have gone through with a bright pen to number the pages so it is set apart from any information written on the page. I have done this for Bug so pages aren’t missed. If she was older and more organized/focused I would have her do this step herself.
  • Note Pages will be for when I am in teacher mode on the white board giving her specific information on the topic. This may include slim glue in foldouts, drawn diagrams, labels, vocab/definitions, and practice problems. Making it all colorful and fun with colored pencils.
  • Bookmarking System I have chosen to glue a ribbon in the back cover of the notebook that pulls over to mark the page last worked on. You can add a bit of personal flare for your kiddo. I have seen other options like cutting corners of the finished pages to flip easily to the next, but I feel this is extra work for me knowing that Bug likes to write to the edge of the page and may cut too large a piece off…It would be me doing this extra step. I will not be using this method at least for now.

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I have seen some extra elements that could be useful. I may implement these at some point if necessary.

  • Tabs Using tabs to mark important pages may be a good idea, but then again they may just get in the way. So for now highlighting the notes pages in the Table of Contents will suffice.
  • Pockets to hold thin items for that subject. I may do this for her math notebook to keep a cardstock  ruler, clock, numberline, etc.
  • Glossary Just to keep an alphabetical record of that subject’s vocabulary. Not for the definition unless you really wanted to use that much space at the end of the notebook. I think of it more as an index of the vocabulary words: only using the word and notebook page number for quick reference. The example I saw was to section out enough pages at the back of the notebook into four equal parts and label them in ABC order to put that letter’s word in the box.
  • Fold Outs: Bits of information that can be folded out from the covers. I have incorporated one fold out for her math notebook (see picture…This is a quick reference numberline.)

I have color coordinated a folder to go along with the subject notebooks. If there is any loose worksheet that can obviously not be used as a Notes page add in then it will be a homework page in the folder. I plan to give a daily grade for the notes and a separate grade for the homework. In my assignment/grading binder I have created a section to indicate if something is is the notebook or if it can be found in the folder. (N/F on the grading page) This way I know where to look when grading. IF you are interested in my grading sheets, I created them with Open Office software. I used the grid making tools and shaped it out from there and did a light color difference to separate the entries. The sections I have included are:

  • Average % for semester (grade)
  • Semester choice boxes with dates (circle and go)
  • Date of assignment
  • N/F (Notebook or Folder location)
  • Subject
  • Grade Level
  • School year
  • Assignment details (middle section lines)
  • Portion Correct (example: 18/20)
  • % Score (Single assignment grade)
  • Total Page Points (adding up all of the % scores to get the average for all semester pages later)

DSCN4334This is only set up for one child. I did not need a book with 50 lines for students so I created my own grade book. I have pages set up in a binder divided by subject. I can print as many of these as I need throughout the year.

Simple Homeschool Planner

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An in depth look at my “simple” planner for homeschool.

(I know this will not work for everyone. This is a small simple planner that I use for one student.)

My goal this year is to simplify. I tried to go big this year and create a whole classroom. It did not go well!

The first pages I want to show you are the months.

DSCN4281I am sorry the picture isn’t very clear. I tried multiple times…. Anyway, in this planner there are 12 customizable calendars. I write in all the dates, the month, the year, and important days (in pencil!!!!!). The side is blank for notes. I have chosen this year to indicate repeated or special activities with stickers. I had many of the same type of stickers so I could mark those repeats easily.

  • For example:
  • A party day marked with a star or explosion sticker.
  •  field trips have a backpack
  • checking homework has a check mark
  • important information has a pushpin
  • birthdays have a smiley face or something representing the person being celebrated
  • themed days with a sticker to match
  • here I have books and scissors to indicate our Story Art class, but have since changed them all to crayons

The next is a page of “Notes”.

  • DSCN4280The first Notes page I used for:
  • a list of the subjects to be covered,
  • what books I am using,list of what I need to buy (notebooks, folders,file box, hanging file folders,books, etc.), and
  • a WISH LIST of things I would like to get.

Again all written in pencil because plans change! I probably would have used a few pages for this instead of just one, but in this planner this is the only “Notes” page in the front section.

Next are the weekly 2 page layouts.

DSCN4243Weekly 2 page layout. Here is where I write the assignments. There is not a lot of room so I abbreviate the subject, add the book and page #, and topic. I try to fit this all on one line because we do 4 subjects per day. I also put an indication of what week we are on up in the top right corner of the page.

Example of one day’s assignments:

______________________________________________________________________________________________

29 Monday

Sp: 3CC p.236 Contractions, print flash cards (spelling)

R.S: 4CC p.44-45 Sequence (Reading Skills)

M: Skill Builders p.43, Mixed #’s (Math)

Sci: Spectrum p.10-11, Scientific toolbox (Science)

Read: (Book Title, Ch2)

_________________________________________________________________________________________________

I use these abbreviations all the time so my daughter knows what they are. We both use this book. Me for planning and her for finding her assignments. She is very responsible and knows not to write in the book.

On to more “Notes” pages.

I have another set of “Notes” pages that I have finally put to good use. Last year I did not use my planner to its’ full potential and I fully intend to this next year.

Themes for my “Notes’ pages:

  • Extra Curricular Subjects and Activities (Anything that isn’t necessarily book work, that isn’t done on a weekly basis, and is still a learning experience. Art, Music, Foreign Language, Sign Language, Crafts, Sewing, Scheduled Physical Activities)
  • Special Books to look into for future assignments.
  • Lists of stories and page numbers in readers for the year.
  • Extended length reading materials: Long books, Audio Books,etc (still a work in progress)
  • Math Units to cover for the year
  • Geography Units to cover for the year
  • History Units to cover for the year
  • Field Trip Information (scheduled trips with groups, trips we want to take as a family)
  • And other subjects that I have yet to plan out…

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Finally Address pages.

The last pages that I want to share are pretty important! The address pages! I didn’t think too much about them this year using my current planner (the pictures are my set up for the next school year). I did fill out one full page of the address section with contact information for our

  • homeschool group leader
  • Department of Education Homeschool office
  • website address for forms that I need to fill out for the school year
  • Superintendent’s office for our school district
  • my child’s Pediatrician contact info
  • local library
  • I may add contact info/addresses for field trip locations

I think that about sums it up! I am very excited to use this planner to its’ full potential this year. It is nice and neat. I plan to keep it that way. I hope you enjoyed this!!!! Happy homeschooling!!!!

Sharing My Personal Homeschool Knowledge

I have been homeschooling my daughter for six years now! Starting our 7th! (PreK-5th next school year)  I thought you all might be interested in a few things I have learned along the way.

PreK, make it fun don’t be too structured or a perfectionist. You will stress you and your child out. This will kill your child’s love of learning. If you are at this point change it quickly!!!!!!

Reading aloud to your child is so important! Why!? Bonding time with your child, language and vocabulary development, follow along for spelling and sight words, imagination explosion. My daughter reads very well, but still longs for our nightly reading time together. Yes, our books are much longer now and take around a month to finish reading roughly one chapter a night. We both enjoy the stories and miss our time together if we can not read at night on occasion.

Reevaluate to make sure you and your child are in a good, functional, learning environment. Change as needed. I start changing things up every spring so that we can test out the new idea at the end of the year in preparation for the next year to run a bit smoother. Not to mention your child’s needs change as they grow and learn.

Buy used curriculum where you can. I like Amazon and Goodwill.

Make your own answer sheets for grading your child’s work if you don’t have answer guides. (Recent face palm moment!)

Upbeat music without words during homework. Nothing to sing along to as a distraction and it won’t put your kid to sleep. We like Lindsey Stirling! Look her up on Pandora or Spotify and you’ll get a great station to listen to.

Customizable planners are really nice!!!!!!! (I did see more of the planners that I showed in my last blog at Walmart today $4.98)

Write in pencil in your planners!!!!!! Plans change! You need more time on a subject, you miss assignments for fun days or sadly sick days. If you use pen or highlighter as I have been known to do, your planner becomes a mess quickly.

If your child is stressed doing one subject let them take a break from it and come back to it later. Swap it with an assignment of their choice.

If your child doesn’t get it (whatever the idea, topic, assignment, etc) try teaching it in another way. Use colorful markers to draw it on the white board, associate it with something silly or something that they can connect with, move with it, sing with it, give it a beat. Recently my daughter needed to spell the word eyes on her homework. So I made a “Y” shape with my pointer and middle fingers and pointed them at my eyes. You see the round shape of an eye looks similar to the lower case “e” follow the “Y” of your fingers to the other round “e” shape. So this gives a physical reference to the actual spelling of eye(s). Also, I was talking to my husband about the spelling of desert. I used to get is confused with dessert until I did a little mind  picture association. We would all love to have two desserts (2 S’s in dessert).

Use those teachable moments when you are out and about. We’ve nearly all heard the saying not forget to “stop and smell the roses”….well, don’t forget to stop and take in/share knowledge with your child. It doesn’t have to be a “let’s write a report about this later” kind of deal, just a let me show you this really cool thing that just so happens to be taking place right before us. Be present with your child and what is around you.

Don’t forget to take off your teacher cap and put on your caring compassionate parent cap from time to time. As my daughter says “I don’t need you to be my teacher right now. I just need you to be my mom.” She needs that comfort and reassurance that the love of a parent can give.

Don’t be on your kid all the time about everything. You are together all the time and you both will get SICK of the micro managing.

Try to be more positive than negative. Give praise more often than criticism. Your child will work better, harder, and with more focus if they know their efforts will be rewarded and appreciated.

Encourage their dreams and help them gain the tools to accomplish them. My daughter wants to be a game designer/Youtuber. We are guiding her in developing those skills and are looking into the equipment she will eventually need.

If you are actually grading your child’s work set a day or more aside each week to grade the work. Don’t let it pile up! I am converting her work to percentage grades this year to see how it will work for next year ( to actually start from the beginning of the year next time). Right now I am trying not to drown in a years worth of only one child’s school work to grade. I have made it probably 75% through…..sigh.

Plan ahead at least one day! If you don’t know what to expect then your child won’t either. It is a recipe for STRESS!!!! AKA a Disaster!!!!!

Your child’s attitude is a mirror of your own……..This sounds silly, right!? Once I realized this it was a GAME CHANGER!!!!! If you are focused, confident, and on top of your game, they will find that groove too. If you are a stressed mess, then they are too!!!

Don’t forget to take breaks! It’s not just for your child to unwind; you as the parent/teacher need down time too.

I hope this will help you on your journey of homeschooling or to becoming a homeschooling family. I wish you all the best of luck! If you have any questions feel free to comment and I will try my very best to give you a helpful answer.

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.

Where is my mind?

Today has been one of those days where my brain is so full and unfocused. I feel that if one more distraction, mood swing, or accident comes flying my way that the makings of my brain will burst like particles in space. I would need to retrieve them in maddening chaos, but at the same time I feel that letting them float away would keep me sane.

Sure, I thought after those past five days of crazy, that this school week would be mellow and would flow without incident. We took yesterday as a Home Economics day to get back on track around the house. My daughter was zipping through the list of chores like they were nothing. I did not bother her with nit picky instructions and micro managing. For goodness sakes I had my own cleaning sections to take care of. I eventually looked over her areas to clean and know in my mind that she did something. I saw her doing something. Well it just so happened that she did somethings that weren’t the main somethings; only cleaning parts that are rarely looked at. I told her that when she cleaned it not only had to smell good, but actually look like something has been done. Let it go….let it go…Setting that aside for a more structured cleaning tutorial for my helper in training….

School….today our first day back to book work. I wasn’t going to go real easy on her but I wasn’t going to push her to a breaking point either or so I thought. Honestly, I think I made it to a breaking point first. I planned two math worksheets adding to our new skill of working with decimals. A little instruction on writing standard numbers with decimals into expanded form, fraction form (which she learned at the end of last week), and then expanded form to standard with decimals. These words came out of her mouth, ” These are fun and so easy! I like these!” Now keep that in mind while we move on to another subject since she can obviously do these on her own… I read to her about the major rivers around the world and had instructed her before hand to pay close attention to the importance of rivers because she would be writing a paragraph about it. Of course there is grumbling because she hates to write, but I can proudly say that she knows the layout of a basic 5 sentence paragraph. Back to math now that we have painstakingly found countries and rivers on maps, globes, and satellite images online.
Math, so far so good until there is a slight bump in the road. Not a hill or mountain, more like a pebble. You see this is where I see my childhood self in her…hold on to your seats…. I look at her from a distance to see that within seconds she has pushed herself from her desk, is red faced, shaking, and shutting down. Minor changes in the system bring fear and mental block confusion. I understand this and have worked through this myself. I have to snap her out of it. As a baby I would blow a quick puff of air in her face to get her focus somewhere else, now it takes a sharp toned “stop, listen” to get her to snap out of it enough to start over with gentle instruction. The pebble was that within the expanded form there was no tenths place shown, but there was hundredths and she did not know how to write it. Simple fix we just needed that place holder 0. We get that down and crisis averted. Although during the meltdown process she said to me “I don’t like this.This isn’t fun!” I reminded her that just a few minutes ago she said that it was fun and easy. She seriously said to me “No! I did not you are just saying that to make me feel better!” I go back to my kitchen duties of starting dinner early because it has to cook for about 2 hours when a whole glass of water is spilled on both worksheets, quickly spreading to all of the books, and creeping toward the computer. Freak out mode! She is trying to get the massive stack of curriculum up and onto the floor but it is too heavy. So of course I take over. All the time she is saying “I am so sorry….” I am frantically getting stuff off of the table and grab the closest towel and instruct her to get the trashcan so I can redirect the water. I finally get it all dry except for her worksheets that we just had the recent battle over. There us no other way to remedy this situation other than to reprint to worksheets. No big deal, this shouldn’t take very long…well, I try to print but nothing is happening. I go through and check all the settings, cancel all the documents to be printed except one. Still nothing happens! Finally, after turning the printer off/on, checking the cords, turning the computer off/on we have worksheets that I need to rewrite the examples and instructions on. I eventually get Bug back in to do her work (which I pulled her away from her comic book writing to do), but she doesn’t want to do it all. I give just a little and let her do her math and then take a break knowing that I want that paragraph about rivers when school starts tomorrow. Negotiations about due date and time set in until I have to put my foot down. Bug takes her break and wonders outside and I sit trying to meditate into calm listening to the birds.

Thankfully dinner was great and there were thank you’s from the family with calmness all around. We discussed vacation options and settled on one as a family. She did eventually get the paragraph finished about 10:00pm. It is now bed time….well beyond bedtime since my bedside clock now says 12:26am, and I am winding down. We did work in a bit of light reading in the form of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Good night all! Maybe my brain will be intact by morning, or I may have to invest in a RemeberAll…

(NIGHT TIME UPDATE: I tossed and turned for about 4 hours until Bug had a nightmare and came to sleep with me. I got about 3 1/2 hours of sleep before the hubby came to bed and we had to get up. It is a shower and probably coffee kind of morning. My sanity is hanging in there for now.)

Unplanned Spring Break

As year-round homeschoolers we tend to take breaks as we feel like it or as we need it for sick days. I only have official school time with my daughter about 3 hours a day, Monday through Friday. She gets quite a bit of free time mostly spent on the computer playing Minecraft and watching Youtube videos, or on her handheld game system. Now that spring has sprung outside time is more available. I was asked by a public school teacher friend of mine if we were….oh , how did she put it…I honestly can not find the post with her exact wording, but it was along the lines of asking if we were partaking in ‘spring break’ like the public schools were. I honestly didn’t plan on it and I told her as much. We had no real plans to do anything and the hubby’s schedule is a bit wonky for a while.

Franky I got up on Monday morning and I had stuff to do so I let her go outside to play. Tuesday, same thing but a friend of hers (public schooled) biked pass and asked to come and play. We are not too crazy about having people over. It just makes me and the hubby anxious. For our daughter’s sanity I let the friend come to play for a little while and then she could come back later to play (lasting until after dark). Since the wonky schedule allowed I mentioned that she could come again the next day. My daughter was so excited to play with her friend and get good quality time. They even found out many things that they have in common. The next day as promised I set up the shade tent outside for them to play under since they got a bit sunburned the first day. Bug waited and waited and waited, she was getting upset that her friend had not come at the loosely set time of arrival. (She is a stickler about keeping plans like her parents.) Bug’s homeschooled friends finally came out to play (apparently the boys were still schooling through the week). Bug asked if they could come over and I agreed since I was already expecting her company and ‘the wonky schedule allowed’. It was quite warm out so I soon had four kids reeking havoc in my house and waiting on the fifth. The boys had to leave before the other little girl came over, but she did finally ride by and Bug reminded her of their play-date. It was close to dark when we took her home again.

That was Tuesday and Wednesday…The rest of the week is a bit blurry…. I know I cleaned a bit and cooked every day….We did have a bit of a crisis Friday. Thankfully easily navigated around and  good to go. Whew….Saturday we played D&D!!!!! and went out to eat. Sunday was gorgeous!!!!! So we went to the botanical gardens again and wore ourselves smooth out…. It is a good thing we had planned to make a quick dinner and watch a movie. We were seriously tired. My hubby fell asleep on the couch and I was about to. We did not want to cook, but had to so we got up and made quick pizzas homemade-ish. It was a miracle that we watched the whole movie without falling asleep and then went to bed way too late again. Oh yeah! We did stay up way too late watching tv and reading Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets a couple of nights.

So that was Spring Break!!! We did go to bed too late (around 1:30am) Sunday night/Monday morning and I did planto start ‘schooling’ again the next (when we got up) morning. My daughter was not pleased with this. As I was planning her work assignments she went out to play, but was ignoring me and giving me dirty looks when I told her to come in. I even planned her favorite subjects so that she wouldn’t balk too much. Reading skills, spelling, and math (geometry review worksheets). She had done all of this before nothing really new. ***Don-da-dahhhhh***** It was too hard and harder than usual……   Nope! I’m not buying it!!!! It took quite a while for her to realize that she knew what to do and that she had to take steps to get the answers for math. Laziness had set in. Her attitude/mood this morning was telling her that anything harder than single step math problems were beyond her comprehension. I tell her that we all have things in life that we do not want to do, but still have to. I gave her the example from my current situation: “I do not want to be over here scrubbing dishes with this massive headache just to turn around and cook dinner either, but I have to. You need to learn to stick with it and get things done even when you don’t want to.”

We have this saying in our house to ‘not let something become your dragon’ and sit there doing nothing but pouring bbq sauce on yourself to let it devour you. Bug was letting her math become her dragon…sigh… I am all in teacher mode and getting straight to the point with the steps of the assignment. She looks up at me after the 3rd or so hug and says to me “Mommy, I don’t need you to be my teacher right now. I need you to be my mommy.”

I took a deep breath, changed hats, and continued to give her a hug in a less ridged manner. I softened my tone and gave her the strength and encouragement that was needed to slay the dragon and come out victorious. Yet again another stressful math session ending in a happy dance!

Homeschooling Challenge!!!!!

Being a homeschooling parent I obviously know what work has been assigned because I am the teacher. Changing hats I am also the parent that sits beside her to help her complete those assignments. I help her understand the concepts before we move on. I often make notes to come back to it once she has matured and other skills have been learned that will makes said assignment achievable.  So inside this brain of mine is a running tally if you will of where she is at academically. I see daily what works and what is a stress. I help her with a good portion of her work guiding step by step or giving subtle hints that help her find the answer within her own mind.  So I don’t feel that “grading” her work daily is a big deal nor do I influence her by scoring her performance…..I do look to see how well she is understanding the material and act accordingly.
Last night I decided that it was the night to get most of it checked (I also said this a month or so ago and didn’t get very far). I sorted a stack of papers a little more than an inch thick into subjects: math, reading skills, science, health, spelling, writing, test prep, and Spanish. Then I checked the test prep and was quite pleased! Then sorted just the math (since that takes the longest) into work that I had answer guides for, worksheets, and book work that I needed to work through to check answers. Thankfully after a good 2+ hours I got through the stacks for answer guides and worksheets leaving about 7 pages left to grade. It was then after midnight, my eyes felt like I had stuffed bits of cotton-balls just under my eyelids, my daughter was still exploring her world of Minecraft and listening to Minecraft Youtubers that are more like friends to her at this point. If you are the parent of a young Minecrafter you probbaly already know who Stampy, iballistic squid “Squidy”, and Amylee33 are.

Beddddddddd please let me get to bed!!!!!!!

But now we have to read. We finished Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone yesterday and I had her start writing her first real book report about it since it is HP all the time now. So of course what book is chosen for the next nightly reader but Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Early next moth there is book character day and she will be dressing up as none other that Miss Hermione Granger to attend the scavenger hunt and other activities to celebrate that day with her homeschool group. She can pull off the look with her long wavy brown hair.
Today’s homeschooling challenge was to complete a well thought out and mostly well written book report about the HP book and simplifying fractions (+ other subjects). The book report went surprisingly well, but then we got to fractions. We have been rotating through geometry and fractions for a little while. We have really only begun simplifying as of this past  Monday(it is now Wednesday). We added like fractions yesterday then came back to simplifying today. You would have thought I was trying to force feed her a toad!!!! “Bug, what is this times this?” NO! “Bug, what is this divided by this?” NO!  “Bug…..”  “No! (grumbling) I don’t want to do fractions we have been doing them for a month…..”  (not really! geometry with shapes and lines, and different types of fraction work) Bug, you only have to do half of this worksheet then you will be done for the day….” That perked her up a bit. I helped her with the top row…..then soon after she shouts “I only have 6 left!”  FINALLY! Ending with Bug doing a happy dance around the kitchen!
Hey homeschooling parents what else do you do while helping your child with homework? While all this battle was going on I was washing clothes, getting a roast ready/in the oven, washing dishes, and writing this blog……. By the way this pork roast was beyond huge and I should have cut it in half before cooking it or put it in the oven earlier. Apparently 2 hours was not enough time……. boooo…..dinner is usually being eaten by now……not enthused…..

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