Tuesday, August 16, 2011

the dog days of summer


Summer is basically over for us. I leave today for my big trip to Romania, chaperoning high school youth from my church. The kids and their dad will be taking a trip to see family in Kentucky and Arkansas while I'm away.

When I'm back, I'll immediately be jumping into the September gear up at church, with teacher trainings, classroom set up, and all the rest of it. I'll also immediately be jumping into moving. We sign today on this lovely place:


So it's going to be packing, moving, and fixing up our current home. We are going to rent the current house out to friends, but there is a little laundry list of things I need to fix/clean up around here before I hand the place over.

It all feels so BIG. I'm a bit panicky, to be honest.

The blog will be quiet for a couple weeks, while I'm off in Europe exploring our religious heritage. And then I'll be back with pictures to share and stories to tell and a LOT of work to be doing.

Enjoy the last bit of summer!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Homeschool planning


It is officially Back to School planning time, and I'm enjoying reading all the posts out there on homeschooling blogs with plans and curriculum lists and photos of school rooms.

So what are my plans for these two dirty, nintendo-playing ragamuffins? Not much - seriously for a plan-loving woman I have very few plans for the kids.

We will do school stuff.

We will do it almost every day.

There will be Math (math-u-see). There will be writing (Explode the Code). There will be reading (library books!).

There will be messy science experiments.

There will be nature study of a practical "what was that bird/plant/tree we just saw?" kind of variety.

We'll do unit studies. I can't say what they will be, as the kids will pick them, or how long they will last (until we feel ready to move on), but I know they will be there.

We're hoping there will be some Spanish language. At a minimum there will be "learn in the car" CD's leading up to our November trip to Mexico.

I've found some Meetups and groups for homeschoolers, so there will be Park Days and Museum Days and all those great things - and I'm sure there will be play dates as well.

There will be Home Ec, of course. Chores, cooking, animal care, building a new bed for the boy (he has elaborate ideas - we'll see).

There will be religious education classes at church. There will be board games, documentary movies, audio books, music, swim lessons, gymnastics, hikes, and settling in to our new home/mini-farm.

There's also Science and Art workshops at a local museum, and then a series of Drawing and Painting classes and a Magic Tricks class at the community center.

But I have no elaborate plans. No planner, no "assignments" penciled in, and no school room set up. What I have are two buckets to toss their stuff in - one for her and one for him - and one Log Book to just keep a record of what we do each day.

And that's the plan!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

the summer social scene


The kids have had a great summer, socially. Besides being in a few summer camps each, they also had church every Sunday morning and a weekly playgroup at the park and lots of play dates.

It may just be that the kids are getting older, but the whole play date thing is feeling like a lot less work. For one thing, parents don't stay at play dates anymore, so "play date" can also mean "childcare". I've had a semi-regular trade set up with another mom, where I took her kids in the morning then she took mine in the afternoon. That was a great way to have an afternoon to go into work and not take the kids with me. Trading childcare with another parent is a brilliant idea - it saves money, it gives the kids a varied social scene, and it's community building.

I also am very lucky to have friends who will consistently do me the favor of watching my kids - you know who you are and I appreciate you! In the great cycle of karma I've also watched a friend of Carbon's a few times this summer, providing free childcare while that family worked.

This year I set up a play group as well. It was a bit of administrative work for me:

  • I sent out invites to all the friends I could think of, surveying for the best time of week for a play group.
  • Once I had a time, I made a general announcement about the group and published that at church for anyone to join.
  • I picked a different park for each week and emailed out the schedule to everyone who had expressed interest.
  • And I sent out a reminder email the day before each play group, with directions to that park.
But that was it, and then folks showed up, with snacks to share. The parents would hang out around a picnic table, eating snacks, chatting, and doing some hand-sewing or knitting if they were so inclined, and the kids were off playing. I really enjoyed the time and it was wonderful for building a bit of community. Friendships were made or deepened, for both the kids and the adults.

I'll definitely make a play group again next year!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Back from my Mental Break


It's been great to mentally focus on my domestic life, as a mental break from my church job (not a real break from it, but a partial mental break). Now I need to turn my attention back again and make sure I'm all organized and ready for the new school year to start soon.

Thank goodness for DropBox, which makes it easy for me to work from my home computer and still have access to all my church computer files.

And the Toodledo app that I put on my iPhone is helping me keep on top of my To Do lists. I love the ease for creating repeats for recurring tasks, such as every Tuesday it tells me to write Thank You notes, or every Wednesday it has "weekly email to parents" pop up.

Google Calendars is very helpful for scheduling, and I was very pleased to find an app for my iPhone that automatically syncs with google calendar so I know where I need to be at what time.

But I still find myself reaching for a pad of paper and a pen when the going gets tough and I feel really overwhelmed with how much I need to plan, how many lists I need to make, and all that needs to get done.

  • Teachers (mostly) all recruited
  • Teacher training scheduled
  • Teacher training powerpoint created
  • Registration packets created and mailed out
  • Parent Orientations scheduled
  • Lessons all on the calendar

To Do:
  • Put together teacher binders with lesson plans and songs, etc.
  • Recruit Assistants for each classroom
  • Go through lesson plans and make a Materials List
  • Publish the Materials List to solicit donations
  • Create and find materials for lessons
  • Set up classrooms for new classes

And that's just for the RE program. What really gets me is that I also have a To Do list for little things like MOVING, and I'm about to go to Romania for two weeks with some of the high school youth ....

Toodledo is totally going to keep me on track with this. At least until someone invents a Robot Assistant .......

Is there an App for that?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

the new place


As crazy as this may sound, I just spent the last two days painting a garage on a property I don't own yet. We are buying this place, but before we can get our VA loan approved the "as is" garage had to be fixed up. So .... we fixed it up. It felt weird though, working on a place that still isn't mine!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Saturday Morning Book Post

I have a million things I should be doing (getting ready to move, trying to close on time on our new house, prepping for a trip to Romania in a week, etc), so I'll make this quick.

This week we started our unit study on Asia, so I read Kids Around the World: We Live in Japan to the kids. It was a good general introduction to how kids live in Japan.

I am reading Welcoming Children with Special Needs: A Guidebook for Faith Communities, and finding it a useful book for planning some improvements in our RE program at church.

I also started The Careful Use of Compliments, and I can tell that I like the book but it's not the beginning of the series - I'm going to set it to the side and go seek out the first book in the Dalhousie series. I enjoyed the Number 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, so I'm looking forward to another one by this author.

We found a working little personal CD walkman at the thrift store this week, so Carbon has been able to listen to audio books on his own. He listened to Holes, and loved it, and then he listened to The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling. I had wanted to read that out loud to him, but we didn't have time, so he got the audio CD. He loved it, and I think I may want to just read it to myself also. It seems like a very clever and fun book.

In the car, we are all listening to The Mysterious Benedict Society. We had started to read that out loud once before, then had to return the book to the library before we could finish it. I am enjoying the narrator's voice more than my own - it's funny how I can listen to an audio book and think "oh, that would have been a better way to read that character" or "the emphasis here makes so much more sense that what I was doing".

I'm sure I'm forgetting some minor books that were read around here this week - picture books and early readers, for sure. I know there was some non-fiction that was browsed rather than read.

But that's all we have time for this week. What books should I get to take on my trip to Romania? Good airplane reading will be needed!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

the mending


This is my mending basket. I have a lot of it! I keep thinking of some old book I read - probably Jane Austen - where they were saying that the young ladies had to be good and do the mending before they were allowed to do their "fancy sewing". I need to do the mending, darn it!

But I managed to turn one mending project into a bit of fun, when I converted an old ripped up pair of Carbon's jeans into a cute jean skirt for Hypatia. The knees had been patched and ripped to shreds, so I cut it off above the knees, slit the pants open, added a triangle of fabric front and back, then a ruffle around the bottom.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011



To recover from my two weeks of teaching camp, I'll be focusing on domestic things for a week here on the blog. Even though I'm still doing plenty of other work, where I turn the focus of the blog is frequently where I turn the attention of my heart and mind.

Balance - so important in anyone's life.

Monday, August 1, 2011



Somebody finally laid an egg! This is a tiny little egg from one of our new turkins (aka naked neck chickens), and the big one for comparison is from our Ameraucana. The little tiny egg was so small it had no yolk. But hopefully now that the process has begun, the eggs will get bigger!