Archive for the ‘Homeschooling’ Category

When Mommy Doesn’t Feel Well

I have been in treatment for chronic Lyme Disease for almost 9 months now. And during this time, I have learned that when Mommy doesn’t feel well, it greatly affects the rest of the household. While not all of us are struggling with a chronic illness, many of us have suffered bouts of morning sickness or short-term illnesses that have affected our ability to mother and run a household.

What steps can we take to make those times easier on ourselves, and on our family? Although I definitely don’t have everything figured out, God has taught me many lessons this past year, and I (very humbly) share some of these with you.

1. Simplify. This often includes simplifying meal plans. Crock pots are such a useful tool for everybody, but especially for moms struggling with feeling poorly. Also, when I am feeling better or have more energy, I try to make meals to freeze. That way when I’m not feeling well, I will hopefully have something in the freezer that’s easy to heat up and serve.
Simpifying may also mean cutting down on our commitments outside the home. Maybe this is a year to take off from children’s extra activities and spend more time together at home as a family.
I have also had to simplify our homeschooling this year. A couple of months into our school year, I made some curriculum changes that allowed my children to work more independently. For example, we switched from Rod And Staff English to Easy Grammar for my sixth grader. This was much easier for me to quickly explain a new concept with her, and allow her to do the rest independently. This was so helpful on days that I wasn’t feeling well (sometimes homeschooling from laying on the couch in our schoolroom!:) )

2. Delegate. I will admit I’m not the best at this. The prideful part of me thinks I need to be able to do it all, to be “supermom”. But the truth is that God has allowed this in my life not only for my benefit, but for my children’s as well. God wants to teach not only me during this time, but my children also. That may include becoming more independent and taking on more responsibilities.
I remember hearing somewhere that if you want a child to be more responsible, give him more responsibilities. Children are capable of more than we probably give them credit for. And when Mommy isn’t feeling well, it provides an opportunity for children to serve each other and others.

3. Make the best choice. A wise friend of mine who has herself struggled with chronic illness for many years gave me some wise advice: ask yourself throughout the day “What is the best choice in this situation?” It might be choosing to have a simple breakfast that morning instead of trying to make something from scratch. It might be choosing to stay home that day instead of going out as you had planned or choosing to go to bed on time. Or, it might mean making the best choice in something very small (giving the kids their apples or sandwiches whole instead of taking the time and energy to cut them up). There have been days that I have had to ask myself “What is best?” all day long.

4. Ask for help. This is another one that I’m not very good at. It is humbling to ask for help, to admit that I can’t do it all. But I also have to remember that asking for help provides an opportunity for someone else to serve the body of Christ.
Asking for help can also include hiring help. Perhaps having someone come in to help clean every other week would be a huge help just for the next several months. Or maybe asking a friend’s daughter to come be a mother’s helper once a week.

5. Know that this is God’s will for you right now and it is for your good.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

6. Give thanks and praise him, even in your suffering.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

These last two are the hardest for me to live out. But God’s Word is Truth. And God has blessed me when I have chosen to obey Him, praise Him, and give Him thanks in the midst of this trial. May God bless you.

I would love to hear from you other Mommies. Do you have any additional suggestions or ideas about managing in times when you are not feeling well?

-Beth

Linked to Raising Olives

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10 Questions to Ask When Choosing Curriculum

For our family, this time of year is usually a mixture of some spring cleaning or organization, and finishing up our regular schoolyear. (We do usually homeschool year round, but most of our work is from mid-August to mid-June). As I work towards the finish line for I am also making plans for next year- going through curriculum catalogs, making to-buy lists, writing our plans for each child for the upcoming school year.

Homeschoolers are blessed to have so many good curriculum choices out there these days. But what might work wonderfully for one family might be a total bomb for another. What one mom might love, another mom will feel overwhelmed or dragged down by. So how do we know what will be a good fit for our family? Here are some questions I ask myself when evaluating a curriculum, either online or at a homeschool convention.

1. Does it glorify the Lord? This applies more to history and science, but is so important. If I have reservations about a curriculum in this area, I probably shouldn’t choose it. I want to infuse my children with the Truth. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things.” Phil. 4:8

2. Does it fit the worldview I want to impart to my children? I want to teach my children to “not conform to the ways of this world” (Rom. 12:2a), so I choose curricula that supports a biblical worldview. Again, this applies more to history and science. This helps me weed out many “academically good” curriculum choices for these subjects out there.

3. Is it in line with my educational philosophy? If I am a strong advocate of textbooks, and I choose a Charlotte Mason spelling program (or vice versa) I may find myself discouraged and questioning my decision. That being said, I personally prefer a more eclectic approach, having different educational philosophies for different subjects. The important thing is that my choice reflects my philosophy for that subject.

4. Is it adaptable to my family? (For example, can it done over two years instead of one if that fits my family better?)

5. Does it match my teaching style? (Do I thrive on lots of hands-on activities, or maybe I need a curriculum where everything is laid out for me day-to-day?)

6. Does it match my child’s learning style? or

7. Can it be easily adapted to match my child’s learning style?

8. Is it realistic for my family this year? Babies, moves, illnesses, etc. may affect our homeschool in a given year. Sometimes the best curriculum is the one we can actually finish! 🙂

9. Can it be used with various ages? (Unless you have children very close in age, this usually applies to subjects other than the core (3 Rs) subjects.) Mommy’s teaching time is precious, so when I can combine , I do so. It is just more efficient.

10. Is it within my budget or can I easily supplement with library books? (I have a system for using the library efficiently that I will write about in a future post)

As I ask myself these questions, it helps me choose curriculum that is going to work for my family for each year. Sometimes I may be drawn to the look of a certain curriculum, but these questions help me be more objective when making decisions.

Above all, of course, I should be seeking the Lord’s wisdom and counsel. After all, it is for His glory that I am educating and discipling these precious gifts.

-Beth

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Organizing the Homeschooling Home, Part 2

Last week was Part 1 of Organizing the Homeschooling Home I talked about my rules for decluttering and organizing, and showed you my linen closet. This week I am writing about organizing the Master Bathroom and Closet.

Since I haven’t covered the school room yet, you may be wondering why this series is called “Organizing the Homeschooling Home” :). When our homes are organized our household runs well. And when our household is running well, it helps us focus on another calling the Lord has given us: to disciple our children through educating them at home.

The master bedroom/bathroom is an important area of the house. (Although I will admit I am often guilty of leaving baskets of folded laundry at the foot of my bed for way too long 🙂 ) This is the place where we start our day. If my bathroom and closet are well organized I can get ready for the day more quickly and easily, with less stress. I’m not wasting valuable time searching for something to wear that is clean AND matches. And I can easily see what I have to wear and make a decision quickly. I can even pick out a pair of earrings to match because they are easy to find. Not only does having an organized bathroom and closet help us start our busy days properly, but it can help and bless our husbands as well.

Okay so we know why we should do it. Now HOW do we do it? Last week I posted my 4 rules of decluttering. I kept items that:

1. Fit us (or will fit a sibling in the next 2-3 years)

2. We have worn or used in the past year

3. I really like 🙂

4. Could be a family heirloom.

I also followed my four rules or organization:

1. Keep stuff close to where you use it.

2. Stuff that is used the least goes in the hardest to reach places (usually the top shelf)

3. Stuff that is used the most goes in the easiest to reach places. (right in front of you)

4. Use containers to hold items that don’t neatly stack.

I followed my decluttering rules in my my bathroom and closet. In my bathroom, I got rid of any medicine, makeup, hair products etc. that hadn’t been used in the past year, and kept only products that I use regularly or seasonally. I kept only my favorite cosmetic bags to use for storage.

Here are some pictures. I want to keep my counter free and clear of any clutter, so it looks peaceful when I walk in. My bathroom has three drawers, and I kept the items we use frequently in these drawers, since that is where they are easiest to reach. (rule 3)

The top drawer is my husbands.

In the next drawer, I put my makeup bag, contacts and contact solution, my glasses, brushes, and clear ziploc of hair thingies. (These are all items I use every day)

In the bottom drawer, I put my hair dryer, extra contacts in a cosmetic bag, and nail polish/supplies (items I don’t use every day)

In the cabinets under the sinks, I also put items I use infrequently, such as hair rollers, curling iron, humidifier, heating pad, travel toiletry bag, etc. I used containers to hold loose items (rule 4)

On our shelves in our bathroom, I kept medicine used infrequently in a bin on the top shelf (other medication is kept in a cabinet in our kitchen, since that is where I usually use it), as well as a bin of pet supplies. Also on the top shelf is a small bin with a handle. This holds medication, thermometer, bandaids, antibiotic ointment, etc. for when we travel. That way, I can just pick it up and have one less thing to pack. (I also do this with my toiletry bag under the sink.)

Also on these shelves are cleaning supplies (within easy reach), towels for my husband and myself, and sprays and lotions I might use after a shower. On the bottom shelf are a basket of extra toiletry items and a basket of toilet paper. All of these items are kept close to where they are used.

On a side note, I love the look of beautiful containers on shelves, but for me, it is more practical to be able to SEE what is in the bins.

Lastly, on the back of each toilet in our home are: an extra roll or toilet paper, room spray, and a roll of cleaning wipes.

Okay, if you are still with me :), on to my closet. Here are some pictures of our Master closet.

I gave away any items I didn’t love, didn’t fit, or hadn’t worn in a year. (Some items met all three criteria 😉 ) I removed any fall/winter items to be stored in our attic. I threw away any metal hangers (they always get tangled on the rack) and kept mostly plastic hangers. I separated clothes according to type. ) on another shelf. I used baskets to hold miscellaneous items such as belts.

On my top shelf, sticking to rule 2, I put memorabilia, our vacation bag (used once a year), formal shoes, and other items used infrequently. Loose items were grouped into bins or baskets. I put a small stool on the floor to help me reach the top shelves. (This makes it easier for me to put things away where they belong after using them)

I put camis on the shelf under my shirts(organization rule 1) I kept my four favorite purses and hung them up where I could see them when I get dressed, in case I want to change purses.

Is this too much information?? I’m a very visual person, so I wanted to include lots of pictures. I hope this is helpful.

I can’t stress enough how important it is to declutter first. The times that I get overwhelmed by organizing are usually when I have too much stuff! (Remember, I am not a natural born organizer. 🙂

I would love to hear about any decluttering/organization project you have done, are doing, or want to do!

Next week, I’ll show you pictures of our school room!

Didn’t read Part 1 yet? Click here for Part 1 of Organizing the Homeschooling Home

-Beth

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Linked up to We Are THAT Family

and Raising Homemakers

Organizing the Homeschooling Home, Part 1

Spring tends to inspire me to organize. Maybe I have more time with my kids wanting to play outside so much :). This week, I’m starting a series on organizing, specifically for the homeschooling home.

Let me start by saying that I am not a natural born organizer. I tend to be more of a “whole picture” kind of person, rather than a detail person. However, the more children I have been blessed with, the more important it has been for me to learn this skill of organizing. Add in homeschooling, and organization has become an essential a survival skill. It can make the difference between peace and chaos in our home. I am still learning (love my naturally organized friends!), but hope to share some of what I have learned so far here.

I was recently inspired by Erica over at Large Families on Purpose and got rid of 10 bags of stuff. I followed four rules of decluttering. I kept only items that

1. Fit us (or will fit a sibling in the next 2-3 years)

2. We have worn or used in the past year

3. I really like 🙂

4. Could be a family heirloom. (like my wedding dress or the blanket my grandmother crotcheted)

I was ruthless. And you know what? It. Felt. Great.

After the decluttering (and isn’t that half the battle?), next comes organizing.

Here are four rules I follow when organizing:

1. Keep stuff close to where you use it.

2. Stuff that is used the least goes in the hardest to reach places (usually the top shelf)

3. Stuff that is used the most goes in the easiest to reach places. (right in front of you)

4. Use containers to hold items that don’t neatly stack.

As an example, here is my linen closet. I followed my four rules of decluttering by getting rid of all towels and sheets other than those we use all the time. (read my post on how we Color Code Towels). I gave away any placemats and tablecloths that had not been used in the past year and kept only my favorites, including my vinyl tablecloths.

I also followed my four rules of organizing by keeping blankets and seasonal items on the top shelf and floor, while the towels are right at kid height, and sheets are easy to reach. (We have two sheet sets per bed for little ones in case of accidents. Everyone else has one set for summer and one set for winter.) I kept seldom used quilts in a plastic tote, as well as my nice cloth napkins. Also, I followed rule number one by keeping only kid towels in this closet, since it is close to their bathroom. Mommy and Daddy’s towels go in our master bathroom, since that is where we use them. (more on that next week :))

Anyone else doing some spring organizing? Please comment! I would love hear about it or see your pictures!

Read Part 2: Master bathroom and closet

-Beth

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Linked up to WFMW at We Are THAT Family and Raising Homemakers
AndLike a Bubbling Brook

And Simple Homemaking at Raising Arrows

What a Great Career I Have


“Thank the Lord today for the precious children He has given you. Each one is a precious eternal soul that is going to live forever. Each one has a destiny to extend the kingdom of God on this earth. And you are privileged to be their mother—to train and teach and prepare them for life and eternity. What a great career” -Nancy Campbell

-Beth

Linked up to Women of Noble Character

Bookshelf makeover

Have you heard about the study they did, linking the amount of books a family has in their home, to the IQ of the children in the home? (more books= higher IQ)? Well, I really hope that’s true. Because after almost twelve years of parenting, and eight years of homeschooling, we have quite a few alot of a ton of books. (We all love books) 🙂

Until recently, the bookshelf in our girls’ room looked alot like this…

When my little ones finished looking at a book, they would often just pile books on the shelf. Or, books would not stay straight and just fall over. Eventually, it would be quite a messy bookcase!

Now, after our “bookshelf makeover”, their bookcase looks like this:

We purchased two nine-cubicle bookshelves, and then sorted and organized the books. Emma and I designated each “cube” a certain type of book (chapter books, easy readers, bibles/devotionals, science, history, picture books, etc.). I might even use my label maker soon to label each shelf, making it even easier to keep organized.

I love this new shelving because it makes it much easier for all of the kids to remember where a book belongs and put it back properly. The books stay upright much easier.

The girls have had these bookshelves for a few weeks, and the books are still staying tidy! They used all the space on the very top to put stuffed animals and photos. It looks really cute!

Now if I could get ALL of the bookshelves in our home to look like this….:)

-Beth

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and

WFMW at We Are THAT Family

Crafty Nature Journal

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about a Fun Journal Project tutorial from my friend Angela’s blog. Well, my daughter Emma (11) followed the tutorial and made her own Nature Journal. (Emma is wayyyyy more crafty than her mother!) It was very easy to make and turned out so cute!

She is using it to keep track of all the birds we are seeing in our backyard these days. What a perfect time of year for a nature journal, and this is really so easy! Have fun!

-Beth

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