Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Goals for March-April 2015

I'm still on a blogging break! Really! I'm just stopping by, and then I will get back to work. 

This year, I had phenomenal success with my New Year's resolutions. Why? Here's what I learned to do that has made all the difference:

I wrote my resolutions as achievable goals. 

Most New Year's resolutions are written as lofty but unattainable goals, meaning that they can never be completed, finished and checked off. For example:
  • Read more Shakespeare
  • Improve my Bible study habits
  • Write to my aunt more often

Good intentions, but impossible to complete or measure.

But this time, I wrote my resolutions as specific, attainable goals. Here are a couple:

  • Write one letter to my aunt 
  • Buy one maternity skirt
  • Fill out my Christmas to-do notebook 

I made my resolutions to cover only a two-month span (instead of an entire year), and I was actually able to complete almost all of them. (Getting the carpets cleaned didn't get done, but I have accepted that that is one item on my to-do list that may never get done. Or if it does, it will be a miracle.)

This method worked so well that I have decided to continue it! I hope to post my bi-monthly (achievable!) goal list on my blog so that you all can see what I'm doing. 

Love to you all, dear readers! I'll be back in another week or two when I finish my book-list update project!


Goals for March and April 2015


  • Write a letter to Aunt M.
  • Email my aunt and uncle
  • Audit my list of supplements
  • Research supplement purchases
    • Amazon
  • Lose the baby weight 
  • Go shopping for clothes after losing baby weight
  • Find several keto dessert recipes
  • Write 3 thank-you notes for G's birthday gifts
    • Grandma and Grandpa (boots/hat/truck book)
    • Grandma and Grandpa (money for open gym)
    • Aunt/Uncle (money for water bottle and aquarium)


  • Freeze lemon juice
  • Zest lemons for mom
  • Get the carpets cleaned 
  • Clean out master closet
  • Rearrange master closet for clothing storage 
  • Set up storage in master closet
  • Celebrate April Fool's Day 
  • Celebrate Easter (dye eggs, Benjamin's Box, Jello Eggs, egg hunt, church on Good Friday and Easter)
  • Celebrate St. Patrick's Day (corned beef and cabbage, green ice cream, Irish soda bread, green cookies)
  • Celebrate Uncle T's birthday (mail card and cookies, call)


  • Finalize curriculum choices for 2015
    • History
    • Science
  • Make a summer break notebook
  • Develop a new chore schedule to start over summer break
  • Finish the school year
  • Enjoy our summer break
  • Clean out homeschool cupboard
  • Clean out homeschool shelf
  • Make list of supplies needed
  • Purchase supplies
  • Finish all end-of-the-year book-keeping
  • Curriculum summaries
  • Copies of records for student notebooks
  • Write semi-annual goal sheet for students for next year
  • Create C's weekly checklist for next year
  • Order curriculum (English and math)
  • Get out piano teaching materials, review

Have a lovely week, dear readers! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's Time for...

... a quick blogging break!

Recently, I decided that I need to finish a project - bringing my family book list up to date. It's just one of those things that has been at the back of my mind, nagging me, but it simply hasn't gotten done.

It's time to knock that puppy out!

Translation = I need to take a blogging break until my other project is finished. Hopefully it won't take too long (I've finished editing 85 out of 125 pages), and I'm hoping that holding my blog over my own head ("You can't blog until you're done!") will be an effective tool to help get this project DONE. My goal is to finish within two weeks.

Other projects I'm working on:

- Planning next year's curriculum
- Keeping the garden alive
- Writing out my next quarter's goals
- Turning our master closet into a storage unit for children's clothing
- Cleaning out the garage before the weather turns

I'll still be reading blogs, and I hope to be back to publishing posts within a fortnight!

Love to all!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

(Almost) Walking!

Here is our baby with special needs (age five and a half) doing some supervised cruising! Daddy videoing while his OT therapist guides and coaches.

Actual unassisted walking is still several years away (minimum!), but this is wonderful progress! We are all celebrating our little guy's accomplishments.

Have a wonderful week, friends!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tidbits for February 18th

Why We Homeschool - "I homeschool because of the benefits I personally received from it. It IS a sacrifice. I'll admit the odd jealous twinge when I see moms drop their kids off at school and meet for coffee or go shopping. But in the end, I KNOW it is worth it." (Hip Homeschooling)

Why I Don't Publicly Share My Due Date - "I’m one of those crazy moms that probably drive you batty." (The Modest Mom)

Homeschool Information Overload (First in the series)- "I enjoy research.  I enjoy learning about new curricula... But when the information we acquire from all our research, blog reading, and discussions with friends stops us dead in our tracks and keeps us from moving forward with energy, enthusiasm, and faith, we have to learn to shut it down." (Raising Arrows)

10 Homesteading Ideas That Can Save You Money - I could stand to work on a lot of these. (Growing in His Grace via Thrifty T's Treasures)

Age With Zeal - Yes, yes, yes! (Out of the Ordinary, Hat Tip to
"Aging is a part of God's created order, and as Christian women, we don't want to be sucked into the pursuit of eternal youth. We want to embrace that grey hair, those hard won wrinkles, that extra girth around the middle which demonstrates the years of living which we've done. We don't want to look like those aging celebrities who inject their faces with stuff that makes them look as though they've been attacked by a vacuum cleaner. We don't want resort to dressing like we're twenty-one in the name of taking pride in our aging bodies. But aging is more than bodily changes; it's about our hearts, minds, and attitudes." (Age With Zeal)

Fun Stuff

Beethoven's Wig

This is a series of classical pieces with funny lyrics added. We are especially fond of the first number, "Beethoven's Wig." Watch an animated version of that number here.

Have a wonderful week, dear readers! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Meet Our Two Newest Family Members!

Nope, not twins...

Apple Trees!

Last year I saved my birthday money to spend on apple trees this Spring. Today was the day!

Actually, it took all weekend to shop for the trees, purchase, pick up, and plant. It was quite a process.

As you can guess, apple trees are not a prime species for the Phoenix valley. However, there are a few varieties that can survive here. The four choices at our local nursery were Dorset, Anna, Fuji, and Pink Lady. We originally chose a Dorset and an Anna, but changed our minds after finding that both were descendants of the Golden Delicious (never my favorite) and ended up purchasing a Fuji and a Pink Lady.

I had decided long ago (twenty years?) that I wanted to "give" a tree to each of our children as his or her "birth tree" (following the tradition of L.M. Montgomery's "The Story Girl"). Thus, our eldest two children received their trees first, and we were able to bury the 5yo's placenta remnants under his tree. (Yes, we still had it in the freezer after five years.)

With the 8yo and his Fuji:

With the 5yo and his Pink Lady:

Next year I hope to buy two more fruit trees, and so on and so forth. My goal is to have fully producing trees by the time we have teenagers to feed. The children eat like ravenous hyenas as it is, so we will need some serious FOOD around here in another ten years!

After we have enough fruit trees, I'd love to plant some non-fruiting trees (like my beloved cottonwood). But for now, feeding the family comes first!

I have been meaning to get around to this for several years, so I was happy to see the completion of a long-anticipated goal. It was actually quite a bit of work, and my husband was really a trooper in helping me to get this project completed.

Now, to take care of them properly and keep them from dying over their first summer!

The tree is already planted, but that's not going to stop him digging a hole for it! 

To any fellow desert-dwellers, what fruit trees have you found that take well to Phoenix weather?

Have a wonderful week, dear readers!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Third (Month) and Happy Third (Year)!

This past week we had one of those fun once-in-a-life time dates - our third-born turned three years old on the same day that our newest turned three months old! How cool is that?

As a matter of fact, it was almost down to the minute, considering that the 3yo was born at 9:33 a.m. (in 2012) and the baby was born at (approximately) 10:06 a.m. (in 2014).

Fun stuff!

The 8yo spent some time decorating the house with streamers and coloring pictures for the occasion. Presents will come later when grandparents visit.

We celebrated with a special birthday dinner (egg rolls!) and homemade chocolate cake and ice cream.

Someone may or may not have gotten into the ice cream before he was supposed to.

We also took time off of school to work on making Valentine's Day boxes and valentines for our homeschool group's Valentine's Day party, which was held on the following day.

Here's the picture we took of the two of them together!

The 3yo is currently gaining multiple new words every day and stringing them together in increasingly complex ways. He alternates being cute as a bug with throwing some pretty good tantrums (he still doesn't hold a candle to the 8yo's former achievements in that category, though!). He is a natural-born helper, and a bit of a neat-freak (hurray!!).

The 3mo is an absolute darling - our easiest baby so far. She is treating us to some charming smiles, and has added some adorable cooing and chattering to her repertoire of cuteness. She's also working hard on turning onto her side. We are all enjoying her thoroughly, and the boys dote on her.

Here's a quick video of some cuteness:

My husband videoed while the 8yo entertained baby. The loud noises in the background are the 3yo "helping" me get lunch - heaven help us all.

Happy birthday to all involved!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homeschool Edition: Skills Training Time

One of my all-time favorite homeschooling books is Terri Maxwell's "Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit." I highly recommend this excellent book!

As you all know, one of my major goals for this year is working on crafting a more peaceful home atmosphere. In reviewing this book toward that purpose, I was especially drawn to some of Terry's words particularly addressed to the problem of mothers who deal with unnecessary anger because they have not properly trained their children to responsible habits.

She says:
"Have you ever considered how much of your day is spent on the defensive when dealing with almost insignificant discipline issues such as: flush the toilet, don't slam the door, chew with your mouth closed, hang up your coat? Often these little situations are the ones that build up to the point where anger bursts from continual frustration.
"What about being on the offensive? ... Do you want your children to put their shoes and socks away when they take them off? Then you will need to have a time set aside in your day when you are training them to do this task...
"Work on a handful of tasks and attitudes during training time until you are comfortable that the children are beginning to implement them during the day on their own... The possibilities for proactive teaching and training are endless." (pp. 81-82)

Okay, then!

And thus, after a few weeks of procrastination, we began "Skills Training Time" - so named in order to give a more "military" feel to the whole thing, which delights the 8yo.

We do our Skills Training Time each school day morning right after breakfast. Each short session (usually between five and ten minutes) covers a specific skill - either a character skill (obedience, sibling relations), a responsibility issue, or a basic skill.

We are not following any set curriculum (and indeed, I don't know of any in existence). I simply go by whatever skill pops into my mind that is needed in our home or that would be useful to our children. Over time, I expect that this will greatly expand to cover many, many topics. Right now, though, we're just at the beginning!

Here are some of the topics we have taught (or discussed) during Skills Training Time:

  • How to peel and cut up a carrot
  • How to use Barkeeper's Friend (a scrubbing powder) on the sink
  • The Obedience Game
  • How to deal with a younger sibling taking a toy away
  • How to hang up your coat when coming inside
  • How to put your shoes neatly by the door when coming inside
  • Hand-washing
  • Hanging up bath towels
  • How to introduce oneself to an adult

I will report in later to let you all know how this goes over the long-term. For now, I think it's a keeper!

(I should note that we have separate times in our school day for covering manners and safety skills, so those topics aren't generally included in Skills Training.)

Homeschoolers, do you have anything similar in your daily schedule? What skills or attitudes have you worked on in your homeschool?