Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Isn't Over!

I want to scream it!  CHRISTMAS ISN'T OVER!!!  I don't.  I remain calm and know that my tree will stay up until Epiphany.  

A decorated tree clutters my living room.  My life feels a little out of whack.  The manger scene is taking up valuable space and the Christmas lights are starting to get on my nerves.  I would like to "get my house back" but it is still Christmas.  Not to mention, I have several children who will already be heartbroken on January 6th ... or 7th, 8th, 9th... when I finally take down the decorations.

So, my decorations remain - and I'm making the effort to make sure the Christmas spirit remains for a little while longer, too.  It is, after all, still Christmas!

You see, Christmas BEGINS on December 25th (or if you want to fudge a little, Christmas Eve).  In my home, on Christmas Eve, the Advent decorations are joined by the Christmas decorations - the tree goes up, the decorations come out of their boxes, and the lights are hung.  "Advent?" you may ask.  Yes, the period of time when our hearts are preparing for the birth of Christ.  "But I thought Christmas begins at Thanksgiving - or the day after."  Nope!  That's when everyone thinks - and the retailers want you to believe - Christmas begins, but it doesn't.  I mean, think about the word:  Christmas.  What's the first syllable?  Christ.  And the second syllable?  Mas.  You can't have a mass for Christ without his birth, and that's what Christmas is.  It is a celebration (a Mass) of Christ's birth.  That time after Thanksgiving (roughly speaking) and before Christmas is Advent.  Say it with me...  A d v e n t.  

Advent begins the fourth Sunday before Christmas.  That day my Advent decorations go up.  There aren't many - an Advent calendar, an Advent wreath with its candles and greenery, the manger...but without baby Jesus (he hasn't been born yet...remember... Christmas?).  That's all.  Compared to my neighbor's homes, it looks like we aren't even celebrating Christmas at that time.  Guess why?  It's because we're not!  We are celebrating... A d v e n t.

It's after Christmas Day now.  No, my tree didn't go down on the 26th, nor will it go down on January 1.  Why?  It is still Christmas then.  

There are Twelve Days of Christmas!  (There's a song about it, you know.)  TWELVE.  After, not before, Christmas!  They begin on December 25, last until Twelfth Night, and then the next day is Epiphany.  (Some celebrate Twelfth Night the night of Epiphany.)  "Wait!  What is this Epiphany stuff?"  Oh, come on!  You know what an epiphany is; it's when you have a sudden realization.  The light comes on.  The shoe drops.  Something finally hits you.  Well, the Wise Men aren't standing at that manger on Christmas Day... or before Christmas Day for that matter.  It takes them a while to make their journeys from their respective realms to witness that the King of Kings has been born.  Once they get to their destination, thanks to the star, they see for themselves that the Son of God has arrived.  While they are bestowing their gifts on the precious babe, internally, they are saying, "A-ha!"  That, my friends, is an epiphany.  January 6th is the day we celebrate the Epiphany - when the world knew that Christ was born.  

On January 6th, we know Christ was born and we can pack away our Christmas niceties.  So, this year, leave your decorations up for just a few more days...keep the Christmas spirit and the joy of Christ's birth in your home for a little while longer.  And next year, wait... revel in the joy of a child who will be born soon.  The anticipation is something wonderful!  

...Besides, you already know it's going to be a boy!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Facebook Privacy Notice - as posted by users

I cannot tell you how many times I've seen people posting messages on Facebook asking me to hover over their name and change the settings in my feed so that the public at large cannot see their posts. If I change the settings so that I cannot see your posts or pictures in my news feed, then why are you bothering to post?  And why am I bothering to be your FB friend?

Recently, I've been seeing posts like this:  "I do not give Facebook or any entities associated with Facebook permission to use my pictures, information, or posts, both past and future."

Well, guess what?!  You can't do that!  Well, actually, you can, but it doesn't mean anything.  It's not unlike signing a contract to buy a house then writing on a piece of paper (on your own,without the seller's consent or agreement) that the seller is responsible for anything that goes wrong with the house from that date forward.  Contracts don't work that way; neither does Facebook.

In response to seeing all of those posts, I posted this:

To everyone posting these messages that you are letting FB know that they cannot use your profile or anything you post to FB, please know that you cannot presently or retroactively alter your user agreement with FB.  Read the user agreement then decide if you can live with those conditions.  If you do not like the fact your information may become public, then don't use Facebook.

It's easy to find the Facebook User Agreement (you know, the one you haphazardly scrolled passed and checked the box saying you read it before you could have initial access to your account...the one you KNOW you didn't read...Yep, that one!).  On a laptop or desktop computer, scroll to the bottom of a Facebook page and click on the link to Terms.  You'll see something called "Statement of Rights and Responsibilities."  (Interestingly enough, the subtitle to that statement is "Terms you agree to when you use Facebook.")  The same information can be found on mobile versions of Facebook.  Go to the "More" menu and look for "Terms & Policies."  Again, you'll see the Statement.  There is also a Data Use Policy - regarding the information received and how it's used.

Before you post another of those useless messages warning Facebook how they can't use the data you are posting, take a few minutes and read your agreement.  If you can't stomach what Facebook might do with your information, then disable your account.  Thanks! 

[NOTE:  I'm sure that somewhere in that User Agreement, Facebook reserves the right to change the User Agreement; Facebook does change it periodically.  If you have concerns about your information, read the agreement every now and then.]

Friday, September 27, 2013


I'm no photographer but I do have a fabulous camera that makes me feel like a photographer!  I also have lovely, willing subjects - and they help make great photos.

I decided to photograph the baby today.  It was such a beautiful, warm fall day.  The sun was shining around cotton ball clouds.  We have plenty of leaves in our front yard.  So, I grabbed my camera and my baby and headed outside.

I have a Nikon D60 SLR.  I have books and have researched online how to take portrait photos with nice bokeh, but I cheated today.  Hey!  I'm just a mom with a camera and few skills - not to mention I'm photographing an almost 6 month old.  So, how did I cheat?  I slapped a telephoto lens on my camera, flipped the settings to Auto (I can almost hear you groaning), and got to it!  These are a few of my favorites.

Oh, yes...  I made some Photoshop touch ups and created a watermark...  MommyLawyer of course!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Another Reason Why I Home School - #2

A few weeks ago, news broke that the Chicago Public School System was mandating sex education in its schools... for KINDERGARTENERS!  The curriculum calls for an average of 30 minutes a month.

The concern is that parents are not teaching the facts of life to their children (to put it mildly).  The problem as I see it is that the nanny state isn't giving parents the chance!  Goodbye innocence!

I'm so glad I can home school - if only so I can introduce sensitive topics at the time I feel my children are ready... and Kindergarten is NOT the time for my kids.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Big Family Road Trips

This past summer provided some opportunities for travel for my family.  Not only did we take several day trips, but we had some overnight adventures as well.  I don't know if all moms of large families are like me, but I feel if I don't plan ahead, something will go drastically, tragically wrong awry. 

One thing I've started doing is packing outfits in individual bags.  I purchased mesh lingerie bags from the D0llar Store - $1 for 3 bags.  I have enough bags to put each outfit for each child in a bag.  I also put each child's pajamas in a bag as well.  When I say outfit, I mean the shirt, pants (or shorts or skirt), underwear, and socks (if needed) in one bag.  One day = one bag with one outfit.  It's just so much easier than having each child pack their own suitcase (with 5 children, we are a bit limited on space) and I can contain all of the clothes and find each child's clothing quickly if we have one large suitcase.

 Another thing I do is pack snack boxes.  I bought subdivided plastic, leak proof, microwavable plastic "lunch" containers for each of the children, me, and my husband.  I can pack sandwiches, fruit, cookies, cheese sticks, pretzels, crackers, hummus, etc.  The containers I have only have two separate compartments, but I can subdivide them further using paper cupcake cups.

Finally, I always, always make a packing/TO DO list.  So far, my lists are handwritten, but as soon as I decide to type one up, I'll post it!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Microwave Popcorn in a Paper Bag! A Recipe.

Let me begin by saying that I loathe microwave popcorn.  The taste.  The smell.  The headache I inevitably get.  The indigestion that follows.

So, imagine my surprise when I learned you can microwave popcorn kernels - get this - in a brown paper bag!  It's true!  It's amazing!  It's headache-free!

Here's what you do:

Put 1/4 cup of  popcorn kernels in a brown paper bag.  Fold the top of the bag over 3 to 4 times, with each fold measuring about 1/2 inch.  Set the bag upright in the microwave.  Microwave on high for 2 to 3 1/2 minutes.  (The first time I tried it, I cooked it for a little over 3 minutes - TOO LONG in my microwave.)  Listen for the popping to slow.  When 2 seconds passes between pops, turn off the microwave.  Be careful opening the bag due to the steam.  Add melted butter or olive oil and salt or other spices to taste.  I added a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and it was divine!


Saturday, August 31, 2013

Another Reason Why I Homeschool

Given things I have been reading in the news of late, I've decided to post (from time to time) reasons why I homeschool. This is the first installment. Recently, a local child - a kindergartener - was dropped off at the wrong bus stop the first day of school. The child was wearing some sort of identification which detailed his (or her, the gender of the child was not disclosed) address and which bus he was to take. However, this information, provided to the child by his school, was WRONG! The child's mother had attended the school's open house the night before and had noted the incorrect information and told a school representative about it. The school representative said it would be taken care of. It wasn't, and this five year old was dropped off in the middle of nowhere. The child was "missing" for some 40 minutes. Fortunately, a kind woman saw him on the side of the road and took him back to the school and into the arms of his frantic mother. Of course, the school system has now implemented a new policy of requiring each child dropped off by the bus to be delivered into the care of an approved adult. According to school officials, this is not a "knee-jerk reaction" to the missing kindergartener episode. RIGHT! I shudder to think of what could have happened to that child, and that is why I homeschool! [NOTE: This is why I homeschool, not why YOU should. These posts are not for debate, but are purely my opinions and why homeschooling is good for my family. TYVM.]

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

There's Another Person in My House! (Birth Story - and some [not gross] pictures)

I can't believe it!  After the longest pregnancy I've ever had - okay, I found out I was expecting VERY early and I almost went to my due date (just one day shy) - our baby girl was born!  I haven't yet decided what her internet name will be...  hmmm.

We had a wonderful home birth - my second, in fact.  I started timing contractions around 3 a.m. on April 8.  [NOTE:  Yes, it's been almost a month and I'm just now getting around to blogging my birth story.  Cut me a little slack... I have five children now INCLUDING a newborn!]  Until around 7 in the morning, my contractions were 15 minutes apart, but I could tell they were the real thing.  I'd been having the warm-up contractions for a couple of days before, but these were different.  Instead of just squeezing the lower part of my belly, these contractions were radiating from behind - in my behind! - and into my hips and thighs.  For me, THOSE are the real thing!

Around 7 a.m., they started coming a wee bit closer: 10-12 minutes.  My husband wanted me to call my midwife, but I didn't want to bother her just yet given the timing.  (By the way, I used a wonderful FREE app called Contraction Master!)  I did send her a text and we chatted that way for a few minutes.  She told me to keep her updated when things started moving a bit faster.  In the mean time, my husband HAD to go to court.  I told him to go ahead since I felt it might be a while.  In my opinion, I have notoriously long labors, especially considering the number of children I've had; no quick babies for this girl!  Maybe...

My mom came and stayed with me and the children until my husband could return, which he did around 11:30.  Not much had changed, until about an hour later...

Closer contractions, getting more painful...  So I called my midwife.  She and her assistant arrived within 45 minutes.  My mom and husband rounded up the kids and herded them out the door.  I missed kissing and hugging my (then) baby boy, Chaucer.  When my midwife walked into the house, I was sprawled on top of my birthing ball sobbing.  She asked why I was crying and I told her that I didn't get to kiss Chaucer good-bye.  Casey, my oldest, ran outside to get him for me.  He came in, I kissed my baby boy, and he was gone.  My oh-so-wise midwife told me he will look huge when I see him again.  "I know," I sobbed.

I labored on my bed for a while.  My husband kept coming back to tell me everyone was outside.  At one point, he came back and told me how nice it was outside and invited me to join everyone.  So I did!  I rolled my birthing ball and took a blanket outside.  Laboring outside on a warm April day in the South with a cool breeze on my face... pure BLISS!

Things weren't picking up much, so my midwife and her assistant took a break and went into town for a little while with instructions to us to call if things changed.  And they did!  Right after they left.  My husband kept asking me if I needed to call her back.  "I can't think," was the only response I could give.  I was in such a fog - I understood what was being asked but I felt I couldn't give a rational answer.  I was NOT lucid!  Eventually, I did have my husband call.  They were back in a flash - and by then I was really feeling things moving along!

I came back inside and went to my bed.  My midwife, the assistant, my husband, and Casey helped get the birthing tub filled up for me.  (Oh!  Did I mention my 10 year old daughter stayed?  I did all manner of prepping her for the birth - from "The Talk" to watching birth videos including "The Business of Being Born."  She was as ready as she could be!)  Once I was in my tub, the fog lifted, albeit briefly.

All throughout my labor, my right thigh was KILLING me!  With every contraction, I asked my husband to squeeze my leg where the pain was radiating.  That helped some.  The water helped a great deal...until I had to go to the restroom.  (I had to ask my midwife what to do!)  My midwife had me get out of the tub.  I walked to the master bathroom (staring longingly at my bed as I passed it by - that was a very long walk to my bathroom, not because of the distance, but due to the contractions).  After I finished in the bathroom, I knew I couldn't make it back to my tub.  I collapsed on my bed, had a couple of contractions, then my water broke.  THAT'S when I needed to push.  So I did!  I've never pushed a baby out so fast!  3 or 4 pushes in 10 minutes and I had a baby girl!  (So, according to my midwife, it only took 3 hours of active labor, instead of the 15 hours I was counting from contractions beginning to birth.)  By the way, the reason my thigh was hurting so much is because the little girl was born with her fist coming out right beside her head!  Ouch!

Casey saw her little sister before my husband and I did!  My midwife said Casey's eyes were HUGE!  Funny thing about our littlest girl...she didn't cry!  She was just calm as a cucumber.  And purple, too!  And given that combination, I was concerned, but my midwife didn't seem to be.  Casey got to cut the cord, and everyone and the bed got cleaned up.  Then, we were able to begin enjoying the newest family member!

And what a joy she's been the four weeks we've had her!

Welcome Baby Girl!  (We'll come up with something to call you online, I promise!)

[By the way, my wonderful midwife can be found at:  Journey of Life Midwifery Services ]

Sunday, March 17, 2013

With a Little Help from My Kids...

Several years ago, a very wise woman was having a picnic for the parents and children of her art class. At the end of the meal, the parents stood up and began clearing the dishes. "Wait! Let the children do that!" she exclaimed. Then she went on to explain that if children have the ability to do a task, they should do it. It isn't cruel; it teaches them to be responsible adults. At the time, I only had two children ages 4 and 2. Her advice to the parents struck home and that very day my children started taking responsibility (and pride) in cleaning up after themselves. 

Flash forward 5 years later - March 2012. My husband and I were taking a weekly F!nancial Peace Univer$ity class (you know, Dave Ramsey). Dave also has a FPU Junior course for children. Intrigued, I bought the kit and walked through it with my children. Now, we had been trying various reward systems for a few years by this point - they earned everything from marbles (redeemable for items), quarters, candy, and other rewards for completing their chores. However, I always fell behind in keeping up with everything. FPU Junior somewhat simplified things for me - but I simplified it further...

My children have daily and weekly tasks to perform. Each day they make up their beds, clean up their rooms, clear their dishes, etc. They also have age-appropriate jobs. Monday through Friday, they can earn a dollar a day - except for Chaucer - he earns quarters when he does an individual task (little kids like the clink of coins; they haven't yet learned to appreciate a piece of paper with a dead President on it). I also give an incentive dollar - if they have earned all 5 dollars for the week, I'll give them an extra dollar. They can also earn extra dollars for doing extra work; I never tell them they can earn the extra dollar and they know they should not ask for the extra dollar. Pay day is Saturday at breakfast. I give them their earnings for the week then they sort their money into three envelopes: SAVE, GIVE, and SPEND. This past Saturday was a "Give" week - so they have to put $1 in their Give envelope (regardless if they earned one dollar for the week or six). Anything left can go in either Save or Spend. Next week will be a "Save" week - so, again, $2 (regardless of the money earned) goes in their Save envelope. So, every two weeks, they are giving 10% (to our church) and 20% to their savings accounts. They usually keep those monies in the envelopes for a couple of months at which point we bring the envelopes to our church and to the bank. As for spend, they can spend their money on whatever they want to. I, personally, love the Spend envelopes! When we go to a fair, museum, or store, they aren't begging me for toys. They know to bring their money! This system has saved me and my husband a small fortune, I'm sure! Yesterday, while we were out and about, we stopped at a restaurant for lunch. Casey, wanting a milkshake and knowing not to ask me, whipped out a couple of dollars of her own money and bought one for herself. She was positively beaming about that milkshake! 

One other thing I've implemented in our home is KID OF THE WEEK (KOTW). What a life saver this has been!! My children used to argue over who would go first - or, rather, last - when seeing their music teacher. KOTW has changed that! They used to break their necks to run out and get the mail. No more of that nonsense since we have a KOTW! Kid of the Week has advantages and disadvantages. Kid of the Week gets to check the mail, has a stronger vote in the choice of flicks for Family Movie Night, and gets their choice of where to sit during that movie. Kid of the Week also has to practice piano and voice first, has to clear extra dishes from the dining room table, has piano and voice lessons first, waters the plants, feeds the dog, and helps me sort and bag recycling. I'm sure there are more KOTW tasks, but I can't remember them right now. Recently, given that we will have a newborn in the house soon, I've given the kids a few new tasks to do and have taught them how to clean showers and Casey has learned how to set the washing machine to do laundry. Because of the simple advice I was given years ago, my children take pride in their home, earn money they can give and save and spend, and I have an amazingly clean home (usually) considering 6 people (7 before too long) live here!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Playing with an Unborn Baby

I woke up from a nap (the blessed repose I seek most afternoons) to find Baby Cinco's foot busily working my right side.  So, I decided to play with that little foot.  It was an enjoyable few minutes - probably the most fun I've had with this last part of my pregnancy, thus far - complete with me talking to my baby.  Of course, there is a person in there, but I really feel as though I was bonding with this person.  I mean, there is a PERSON inside of me - and we were PLAYING!!!

I thought I would blog about some ways a mommy (and daddy and siblings) can play with the baby before baby is even born.

1)  Talking.  The baby always hears its mommy's voice, but it's a good think to talk directly to the baby.  I'm guilty of not talking to this baby as much as I did with my other children, especially my first.  When I want quiet time these days, I'd like it to be, well... quiet.  But I try, when I think of it, to speak directly to Baby Cinco.  Tell the baby you are excited to be meeting him, you love her, what you imagine he looks like.  I also encourage my husband and my children to talk to the baby.  Casey is quite fond of talking to her unborn sibling - it's very sweet.

2)  Singing.  I enjoy singing; my children and I are constantly singing.  Sometimes, we even sing to Baby Cinco.  Even if you're not the greatest singer, I think music has a profound impact on people - even unborn babies.

3)  Music.  Of course, with singing comes music.  I usually wake up to the same song every morning:  Loreena McKennit's "The Old Ways."  I love it, and I've noticed Baby Cinco loves it, too.  When I was in my 6th month of pregnancy, I noticed one morning that she started stirring as soon as Loreena began to sing (there is a long instrumental intro to the piece before the singing begins).  After a few weeks of playing this song every day and noticing that Baby Cinco woke up during the tune, I decided to play it one afternoon when baby was still.  Sure enough, she woke up when the singing began.  I can't wait to play the song for Baby Cinco in person (not in utero)!  I'm interested to see if she'll perk up or calm down.

4)  Massage.  I think most expectant mothers rub their bellies - consciously or otherwise.  Rubbing your belly can also act as baby massage, depending on how firm the rubbing is.  It feels good for mommy and baby, too!

5)  Light.  I've always played the flashlight game with my unborn babies.  You know, taking a flashlight and seeing if baby reacts. 

6)  Reading.  Similar to my music experiment, reading the same book over and over to your unborn baby may have an effect on the baby once the baby has made his/her appearance.  With Casey, I read Guess How Much I Love You.  Unfortunately, I didn't read it on a daily basis until she was born, but it was still fun to interact with her prenatally.

7)  Tickling.  This was my inspiration for writing this blog post.  I found my baby's little foot began my quest to tickle it.  It was fun to see that foot trying to escape my tickles.

So... there you have it!  Play with your baby now - you don't have to wait until your baby is born to play with - and bond with - your little one.

Monday, March 4, 2013

NEWS FLASH! Cookies!!!

I love cookies.  LOVE.  This time of year used to be my dream season (except the years I gave up sweets for Lent; then it became torture season)...  Girl Sc0ut cookie season.

However, given my feelings about my girls' past experiences with Girl Sc0uts, my husband's boycotting the Girl Sc0ut cookie sales for socio-political reasons (which I support), and the fact they charge WAY TOO MUCH for a box of cookies (they're good, but not THAT good), we aren't buying Girl Sc0ut cookies this year.

Fortunately, I have found something better than a substitute for Samoas.  These things ARE Samoas - with slightly different packaging, a much lower price ($1.40 a box), and year-round availability.

Check this out:

Yup!  I'm convinced these cookies are manufactured at the same place making Samoas.  These cookies look, smell, and taste like Samoas.  The interior packaging is the same.  The exterior packaging is frighteningly similar (the purple box).  So!  There you are!

Oh!  I got these at Big Lot$.  I'm beside myself excited!

If you know of any good Girl Sc0ut cookie knock offs or something very similar, let me know.  Just be warned:  I haven't yet baked a cookie myself that is "just like" a thin mint, so I'm not very keen on recipe substitutes.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Counting Down to Baby Cinco

We are 39 days out from Baby Cinco's due date (that's what we are calling the baby, for lack of a better cutesy in utero baby name, since this will be our fifth baby).  When we were expecting Chaucer, I had the idea of making a paper chain to help the kids visualize the number of days left and as a fun way to mark the days until the newest addition to our family.  The five days remaining on Chaucer's chain have been lovingly pasted into his baby book.

I thought it would be fun to do again.  I printed the dates (only for the last 40 days, and the chain is still ridiculously long) and my girls colored each link.  Every day one of the children can tear off a date and we can watch the chain dwindle as we inch (second by second it seems at this point) closer to meeting our baby.

In addition to making the chain, I've organized my home birth supplies into baskets.  Have I mentioned I'm having a home birth?  Chaucer was born at home and so will Baby Cinco.  It's the right decision for our family and that's all I'm going to say about it for today.  My midwife may (and probably will and that's okay) rearrange my stash, but for now, here's my collection of stuff for my birth.  Well...almost all of it.  My birth tub isn't in the picture.  [Note to me:  Inflate that thing to make sure it still holds air before going into labor!]

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Pregnancy Checklist - Printable, Downloadable, and FREE!

I thought I would post a sample page of the Pregnancy Checklist I made just so you can see what you will be downloading.  This is the Week 34 page:

So... that's a sampling of what you get if you download the 8.5 x 11 version.  The 5.5 x 8.5 is similar...just smaller.  Remember, it's mine - you can print and use it, but don't copy it, link it without credit, or pawn it off as your own.  Thanks!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pregnancy Checklist - Printable, Downloadabe, and FREE!

A few months prior to my current pregnancy (I'm 33 weeks now), I was pregnant for a few weeks but miscarried.  As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I started researching checklists.  I LOVE a good list!  Unfortunately, I couldn't find one that I really wanted.  I didn't want something to tell me, medically or developmentally, what was going on in my pregnancy - I have plenty of books that do that.  I just wanted something that would help me keep track of taking vitamins, weighing myself, taking weekly photos.  Nothing fit the bill.  So, me being me, I made one.  Sadly, I didn't get to use it during that pregnancy, but I have been using it during my current pregnancy.

I've decided to make my checklist public so I'm putting my Pregnancy Checklist here - for FREE!!! - for any expectant mom to download and print.  There are two options available:

Again, this is my work and, while I don't mind you printing and using it, I do seriously mind if you pawn it off as your own.  Please don't abuse the privilege!  Thanks.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Planning for Next School Year including Downloadable Forms!

I know, I know...  It's terribly early to be planning for the 2013-14 school year, but that's how I roll!  Not to mention, my normal planning month, April, will be filled with baby-gazing and resting.  So, I have to get ready for next year NOW!

It will take me a while to complete my planner.  I've made my list of the contents I plan to have:
  • Pretty Cover (I'll laminate a pretty sheet of scrapbook paper)
  • Title page (with my school title, school year, and the kids' grade levels)
  • Envelopes (I put in several 8 1/2 X 5 envelopes so I can put in loose papers without them being loose)
  • Calendars Tab
  • Our daily schedule by subject (it helps me to know what I want to accomplish each day, but becomes obsolete after the first couple of months, either because I get used to our schedule or it changes)
  • School attendance calendar (I get this from
  • 2013-14 monthly calendars (I've found several free calendars with pretty, cute, or whimsical borders and backgrounds; I've always used plain ones in the past, but I'm going with "fun" this time)
  • Plan/Assign Tab
  • 54 weeks of planning sheets (I make my own in Excel; 2 pages per week with blanks for all the kids and their subjects.  I fill these in on a weekly basis.)
  • History & Science Tab
  • History plan (This is where my advanced planning comes in handy; I plan, by chapter of the history text(s) we are using, the topics to be covered for both the Grammar Stage and the Logic Stage along with documentaries we might watch and supplemental books for the kids to read.)
  • Science plan (Just like history; although, this coming year, I'm changing texts to a Logic Stage text, so I'll have to figure out what to do for my Grammar Stage children using the same texts.)
  • Kids' Grade Plans Tab (Another realm of advanced planning - I go through all of the kids' texts and decide when all of the lessons will be taught and build in breaks; of course by the end of the third month, I'm usually off track, but I like knowing where I would like to be and eventually we catch up.)
  • Lists Tab (I make several lists for things I want to keep up with)
    • Text books used for each child
    • Performance pieces
    • 2014-15 text book wish list
I usually take my planner, once put together to my satisfaction, to my local office supply store for clear plastic covers and spiral binding.

I may try to publish some of my forms here in the future.  I don't mind sharing!

Speaking of sharing, I've made a Student Planner for my children, and I'm happy to let you download it!  One page is a relatively blank form that can be printed for the number of weeks of the school year.  Since we home school year round (with several breaks built in), I plan on printing 52-54.  That page is here.  Just so you know, I've made it for the subjects we use; if you don't use those subjects, you can at least use it as a guide to create your own.  The blanks next to the weekday names are to put in the specific dates.

The next page is the page my children can use to write the things they want.  Included are areas to write down their "jobs at home" (i.e., their chores), a To Do List, appointments, and things they are reading/doing.  I've also included "Dreams for the Week," "Creative Corner" (for doodles and the like), and a question at the bottom of the page they can answer (a different question every week).  There are 54 different pages here.

I will print the first page (the school work planning page), then print the fun page on the back side of the school work planning page.  I'll either comb bind each child's book with a cover page of their choice or I'll take it to my local office store and have it spiral bound.

I don't mind if you download them and use them for your own use.  If you choose to share, please link back to my website and don't pawn off my work as your own.  See?  Nothing too harsh!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Going Public... again

After almost seven months, I've decided to make my blog public again.  I don't know how long it will last, simply because my life is busy and ever-evolving, and I may have a change of heart about the whole thing.  However, for now, at least, I'm back.

After being on Pinterest for months and reading a lot of blogs about large family management (which, 4 kids - well, 5 in two more months, may not seem like a big family to some, being an only child, it is a HUGE family to me), I've decided that I might have something to add on how I make things run in my home.  Maybe it will help someone.  Maybe it will serve as a reminder or, better yet, inspiration for me if I feel daunted by my many tasks in the future.