Friday, September 27, 2013

Weekly Recap: September 23-27, 2013

This week it felt like we settled into a routine. We got through every subject. We had some extra free time. We began planning for the co-op science and history fair. There wasn't anything out of the ordinary. Sometimes you just need a week of regular and routine to make you feel like you are making progress.

In honor of routine, let's get back to ours. Here are the highs and lows I know you've been waiting for:

Low - Math. It took forever.
High - History. I liked learning about the history of writing. I like how it became something more than just a drawing and scribbling. I like that it actually became something you could communicate through.

Low - School. I especially hate school.
High - Writing. I am creating a new card game.

High - Grammar. I like diagramming. Math too because I love graphing.
Low - I don't have one.

High - Getting it all started. We are even ready to officially begin Latin on Monday. Three cheers for that!
Low - How unhappy S11 is with the work this week. He's not usually a complainer. ch freedom Also, the way H14 has fallen back into bad habits. She asked for some extra responsibility this week to prove that she had matured and was able to manage her work better. She's not ready to manage her own work. Next week we go back to assigning and checking each day.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Wonderful World of a Disney Cruise: Fish Extenders and FE Gifts

Back in February Rob took a job that allowed him to work from home most of the time. He travels about one week a month. The rest of the time he enjoys this office space.

Not bad, right?   Lots of light, a great view and his own gym.  

In additon to the office, he got a nice signing bonus. Since he'd gotten so many benefits from the job, he decided that the entire family should enjoy the bonus.  M9 immediately suggested that a Disney cruise wuld be fun for the whole family.  Everyone quickly agreed to her brilliant plan. We've spent the last few months planning that adventure.

Rob and I have taken a cruise before. You pick your date, buy your tickets, get on the boat ship. Not so with a Disney Cruise. There is planning. Not just planning, strategizing, to be done. There are message boards, websites and books devoted to getting the most out of your cruise. There are Facebook groups dedicated to each and every aspect of the Disney Cruise. You can even "meet" your fellow shipmates before you see the ship.

One of the Disney cruise extras that I learned about are fish extenders (aka FE) and FE gifts. The idea here is similar to that of Christmas stockings. You hang these fish extenders on hooks (shaped like fish on some of the Disney ships) outside your cabin door. Other guests on your cruise bring gifts to put in your fish extenders and you bring gifts to put in their fish extenders. Fun, right?! As with all things Disney, the idea is to add to the magic. The trick is not to add to the stress.

Keeping the magic vs. stress balance in mind, I made our fish extenders and some of our FE gifts. I'm pretty pleased with all of it.

Here are the fish extenders.  Since we'll be occupying two cabins I made two, each with three pockets.  One pocket for each family member.

The FE gifts were a little more challenging to plan.  On our cruise there are three FE groups.  Each group has about 25 cabins included in their exchange.  Our group includes 24 other cabins, 70 people total.  That's a lot of gifting.  I would rather spend my vacation budget on dolphin swims and drinks by the pool.  Sorry fellow FE groupies but it's the truth.  However, I do like to make magic so here's what my creative brain, aided by Amazon, Google and Pinterest came up with for our FE gifts.

Using some super cute Mickey shaped cookie cutters, ribbon, and star covered wire we made Christmas ornaments for each cabin. 
For the kids in our group, we made Mickey hand wands for the boys.  Shane says they are butt slappers.  He's probably right.  That's probably what they are and what they will be used for.  At least, they are Mickey hand butt slappers.  For the girls, we made fairy wands.  There is one teen age boy in our FE group.  He'll be getting a duct tape wallet, complete with a Mickey sticker, of course.

I'll try to remember to share pictures of our door magnets when we get back.  That's another bit of Disney magic that I have enjoyed preparing. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Weekly Recap: September 2-6, 2013

We began our school year with a little getaway.  What could be better than Gilgamesh and autobiographies poolside?  In addition to our poolside studies we visited The Topiary Garden and the CMA.  Mostly we swam.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Here We Go: Start of the 2013-14 School Year

Here are the students on the first day of the 2013-14 school year.

M9, S11, H14
Here is the plan for the 2013-14 school year.

M9 - Fourth Grade
Explorer’s Bible Study – Discovery: In the Beginning - Genesis
Spelling Power
Rod & Staff 4 Grammar
Writing Strands 3
Math Mammoth
Story of the World: Ancients
Apologia Biology
Latina Christiana
Great Artists

S11 -Sixth Grade
Explorer’s Bible Study – Discovery: In the Beginning - Genesis
Thinking Toolbox
Fallacy Detective
Analytical Grammar
Writing Strands 5
Mastering the Fundamentals of Mathematics
Lial BCM
Story of the World: The Ancients
Apologia Biology
First Form Latin
Great Artists

H14 - Freshman
Explorer’s Bible Study – Quest: In the Beginning - Genesis
Discovery and Deduction
Teaching the Essay
Building Great Sentences
The Great Courses Algebra 1, & Jacobs Algebra
The History of the Ancient World
Apologia Biology
First Form Latin
Great Artists

Ready. Set. Go!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Next Big Thing

I have a lot of skills. I'm organized. I'm a great planner. I am able to remain calm under pressure. All these skills set me up to be the perfect multitasker. And for a long time I was. I took great pride in my ability to keep as many balls in the air as I could find. If you needed a job done I was your girl. Not only would I get it done, I'd get it done well and on time. Doesn't that sound wonderful?

For a long time I thought multitasking was an admirable lifestyle. Then I realized by taking on anything and everything I was letting too much go. I was rushing through each moment to get to the next. My attention was so fragmented that nothing I did received my full concentration. Not my family, not my friends, not myself, not God. I was living my life like a constant string of commercials, 30 second bursts of intense effort with very little substance.

I began to realize the value of longevity and selectivity. Rather than saying yes to every little thing I began to say yes only to the things that would bring value and were in line with my values. That began with being present for my family. I limited my computer time. (This area could still do with some more limits.) I began to stop what I was doing and look at my children when they spoke to me. I concentrated on what they were saying rather than on the list that ran on continuous play in my head. I sought them out to do things with me or so I could participate in their activities. I began reading aloud. I sat down with them for meals during the day rather than eating alone.

All these things may sound simple and they are. However, not doing them sends the message that anything and everything is more important than my children. If folding laundry or unloading the dishwasher is more important that what my child is saying or doing there's something off kilter. I don't mean that I can't ever do chores if my children are around. I'm saying that there are times when it is necessary and important to stop and really concentrate on the child at hand. As a born multitasker I didn't even realize the message I was sending and stopping cold turkey was, in my opinion, the best way to get control of the habits I'd developed. Now, I that I understand how important it is to do one thing at a time, I can sometimes talk and work but it's not the norm.

I've also realized that doing one job and finishing it has value and provides a sense of accomplishment. As a multitasker I often had lots of things going on at one time. I'd finish something and move right onto the next thing. There was no time to take pleasure in a job well done because the next job was already underway. My habit of layering responsibilities was robbing me of my joy in celebrating my accomplishments. Over the years, I've learned the importance of taking a moment to recognize and celebrate these achievements. No one else is going to do that for me. It take discipline to slow down and pay attention. This is especially true when other responsibilities are calling. However, even a moment to say to myself, "Wow, the laundry is all done. Nice work!" or "That lesson really went well." is so worthwhile.

There will always be the next big thing. It is important that I am now aware that not every big thing needs to be my big thing.