This Year’s Plans

As my husband of almost 20 (!!) years will tell you, the beginning of the year can be a little scary if you live with me. I am full of ideas, plans, and things I want to do. I make lists, I join classes, I find lots of ways to try to make our lives more meaningful and more fulfilling. And then, I lose track of all those projects and I fall off the wagon and I end up sitting there on December 31st trying to figure out what happened. But not this year.

What makes me think this year will be different? Well, for starters I have a planner that I adore that makes me think about my choices more concretely and helps me to plan and organize in a fashion that is more suited to my style (read, I can ramble on a bit and it doesn’t seem to matter given that it is paper). I’m using personal sized Life is Crafted pages from here. What I like about these is the review aspects of the monthly pages and the other pages that give me a place to put the books I read and the movies I see and so forth.

One of my goals is to write more. Thanks to a random mention on Twitter, I discovered the Magic Spreadsheet. More importantly, because I’m not quite at a point where I want the world to see how many words I write in a day, I found a personalized one that I can use for myself and only myself. I am using it and it is helping me to be aware of how much I am writing.

Right now, I’m writing in word, but I finally made the decision to commit to Scrivener this year and I can’t wait to get started with it. I’m hoping to produce some more academically focused articles this year, and I think this a tool that can help me do that.

As for the other things that I’m doing, well, I joined Ali Edwards’ One Little Word class and Cathy Zielske’s Move More, Eat Well Jumpstart at Big Picture Classes. I’m not expecting miracles from the latter, but a bit more consciousness on my part simply won’t hurt anything. I’m starting a year long cross-stitch project in a few days (Once Upon a Time Sampler, some scripture memory work from A Holy Experience, and some other things designed to help me find and focus on the goals that I need to pursue to fulfill the person I am supposed to be. I’m also continuing with Digital Project Life. I truly love doing this project and I think we learn so much from what we used to do and who we used to be even one year ago. I may suck at scrapbooking in a traditional manner, but put me in front of Photoshop and watch out.

Finally, I am tackling the house. Anyone who knows me knows that my house is something of a terror zone. So I’m working on decluttering and clearing, and making space for us all to breathe. We’re going to tackle some small projects along the way to try to make things more workable while we decide whether this house is still a fit for us or if we need to do something different. Only time will tell.

My Own Personal Organizational Nightmare

Anyone who knows me knows that organization is not my strong suit. Time management? Nope. Keeping track of a calendar? I try. Meal planning? Forget about it. Homeschool planners? Hate them. Organizers? Hate them. If there is an organizational tool or system out there I haven’t tried, it’s only because I haven’t heard about it yet.

This is the point where you’re probably expecting me to announce the wonder system that I found that is saving my life and is turning me into an organized person. If you’re thinking that, you don’t know me well at all. I have been trying to implement Mind Organization for Moms (a GTD-based system designed by the folks at Power of Moms). It’s actually a brilliant system and would probably work really well for a lot of people, and I love the concept of GTD (note I said the concept), but it, like all its friends before it turns out to be a lot of architecture and structure and I find myself struggling to figure out how to make it all fit together.

About halfway into this process, I stumbled across an eBook called Paperless Home Organization. I was intrigued. I’ve always been convinced if my planner was completely based in my device, I would be a much happier person. The catch? I am not a fan of Google Calendar or Remember The Milk. Evernote? I’m an evangelist, but the rest, eh. I think the book is great and if you are a Google Calendar person, and you like Remember the Milk, then you are going to LOVE this and you should hurry to get it because it is on sale right now for $2.99. I grabbed her templates and tucked them in Evernote, but I’m still struggling with making Evernote work for me as my daily planner.

So, being me, of course, it uses things I don’t like so I don’t see how it will work for me. But I keep thinking if I tweak it, maybe I could make it work. And then I discovered Evernote’s Paperless ambassador Jamie Rubin and he discusses his use of Penultimate (an iPad app) to capture his To Do list (he uses a nine things model based on a concept of the website 27 Good Things (and yes, like Rubin, I think you should follow them if you aren’t already). And I thought, a ha, here’s a way I can use the Mindset for Moms formula as a paperless model, except, I couldn’t get behind it either. And I toyed with the nine things model for about two hours (probably should have been grading, but yeah), and figured out that nine things means I have to leave out some chunk of my life, which I would prefer not to do (you know, do you skip the homeschooling, the adjuncting, or the person — something has to give and I have to feed the dogs, you get the drift).

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My attempt to use Rubin’s concept with the GTD-based Mindset for Moms platform. I just don’t see this working for me. The spaces are too small my life feels too big.

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The nine things attempt. You’ll notice that me as a writer or quilter or whatever is missing here. Yeah, that’s not good.

I also, to make matters even more confusing have an ongoing thing with Motivated Moms. I have the 2013 app on my phone. I mostly love it except for the whole making me feel a little lost when I can’t get everything done on the whole list for the day. Also, not a total fan of the fact that I can’t make things happen every other day if I want to rather than every day. However, as a whole, my house is cleaner and I don’t forget as many common household tasks as I used to, so overall worth the money, but it’s a stand alone system. It doesn’t catch everything.

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Part of one Motivated Moms screen. I had it in edit mode at the time, thus the little blue arrows. I do love this way more than, say, FlyLady, so if you’re looking for something to help you remember the pesky cleaning tasks that no one remembers, this is your app :).

I want to get into meal planning, but I am not the chief cook around here these days — and the chief cook is not open and welcoming to my ideas about menu planning. I have tried introducing him to Plan to Eat and to Ziplist. He likes neither, so that’s an avenue I guess I should give up on, except that man it would make things easier. Though, if it just ticks him off the ease is probably not worth it.

If at this point, you’re starting to think, my God this woman is a ferret — distracted by the bright and shiny, you would be so right.

So, for a time Mondays are going to be focused on my travails at trying to set up an organizational scheme that works for me and maybe, just maybe, with that as my motivation, I can cobble together something that will work for me — eventually.

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The one thing I did do this weekend, that scared me half to death, was make a list of roles that I am currently filling. Maybe, just maybe, that list is part of the reason why I have such a hard time finding an organizational system that will work for me.

Next time: my journey through the world of paper planners — God help us all.

Curriculum Plan 2012-13 — Katie

If you see me wandering around muttering to myself, kicking rocks, and generally unhappy with the world, Katie’s schooling is the reason. Why? Well, because she’s a very different child from her brother and I’m having trouble figuring out what works for her and what doesn’t. She is 3 1/2 years old, so firmly in preK3, except that she doesn’t like the kinds of things we did with Ben for preK3. She doesn’t like story based learning the way that he does. She wants work sheets. Lots of worksheets. She wants to do the same things that Ben is doing, even if she doesn’t have the skill to keep up. She wants to be reading NOW and views me as the only obstacle between her and her goal. So, I’m floundering a bit trying to find the right fit for her.

We have Raising RockStars Preschool to help her get a biblical foundation under her, but she’s not been interested in it. We have some Kumon workbooks for tracing and so forth and she likes those, but doesn’t love them. We have Get Ready for the Code which she likes, but which is somewhat behind where she is, though ETC1 is too far ahead of her. We have Core Knowledge 3-4 What you’re preschooler should know but again, a lot of it is behind her. We have the AlphaTales to help her learn alphabet sounds, and she enjoys listening to them,  but she seems to know almost all of her alphabet sounds already (x is a sticking point). She counts well and can do some basic addition thanks to listening in on her brother’s Life of Fred lessons. She even kind of understands set theory.

My problem is that I don’t want to push her and yet I don’t want to hold her back either. Finding balance with this kid is really, really hard. But it’s also easy to let her slip through the cracks because her brother needs focused attention to learn while she’s seemingly learning via osmosis at the moment, so I really don’t have much of a plan for her. Add to that, technically, she wouldn’t be eligible to START preK3 until this fall and you can see where I’m running into trouble. She has two more years before she’s a kindergartener according to the state of Florida. By then, I fully expect her to be completing first grade work if she continues on her current path. So, I’m traversing this territory carefully and trying to figure out how to make it all work. Lord help me.

For Katie we have resources:

Raising Rock Starts Preschool

Core Knowledge Preschool 3-4

What You’re Preschooler Should Know

Kumon My First Book of Tracing

Get Ready, Get Set, and Go for the Code (I have ETC 1 and 2, which Ben rejected waiting in the wings)

She listens in on Ben’s read alouds for bible, science, history, and geography. I copy coloring pages for her when she’s interested in doing them (not often).

She’s started with Book A of Pianamals (aka Phonics for Piano).

For art, she fingerpaints, paints with brushes, glues, etc. A typical range of preschool art projects, I think.

Outside Activities: Right now, she doesn’t do as many outside things as her brother does. She has a dance class, which we’ll continue at the new studio Ben will go to in the fall. She needs this because she has some coordination and balance issues that are “residue” of her surgery. Dance was her doctor’s recommendation, so she’ll dance until he says she can stop (and she can continue after that if she wants, but until he says stop, much like her mommy at that age, she goes whether she wants to or not). She also does a preschool science class at MOSI. She was a little young this year, but she seems to be “getting it” so we’ll continue with it next year. I’m also considering getting her into the little kid zoo classes at the zoo, but they’re not ideal when you’re also dealing with her brother. She’s going to take swimming lessons starting this summer. In Florida, swimming is a matter of survival not choice. You have to know how to swim, so swim she shall.

I guess you could say that I’m not as organized with Katie as I am with Ben. I don’t believe it will always be this way, but it is this way for now.

Curriculum Planning 2012-2013 — Ben

I’m strangely settled with our curriculum. We’ve shifted quite a bit closer to unschooling, though we’re really not doing that and don’t really plan to do that. We do more interest-based learning and we’re working on a lot of life skill development stuff, BUT we do have a basic curriculum plan that we’re following:

English: We’re using a multi-focused approach to get Ben where he needs to go. We’re currently working through Writing With Ease, vol. 1 and we’ll continue with Vol. 2 when we finish the first one. We’re also using Writeshop Primary A right now and will continue with Writeshop Primary B when we finish A. For reading, we’re really not using a formal program anymore. He reads; I read aloud. We’re going to adopt How to Report on Books, Grades 1 and 2 for the next year to see if that helps him explain a bit more what he’s reading. Handwriting is going to come through these venues for now. When he’s ready to start learning cursive, we’ll get a Zaner-Blosser book that he can work through at his own pace.

Math: We’re going to continue with the Life of Fred elementary series. We’re currently in Dogs. We anticipate going through the series at least twice before moving up to Decimals/Fractions, as that is what Dr. Schmidt advocates. We both love the story based way you learn math and the practical application skills. An additional bonus is that I now understand the math things that I’ve never understood before. So much so, that we’re buying all the way through calculus even if Ben loses interest because I am learning math in a way I never have before.

History: We’ve been moving slowly through Story of the World, vol. 1. We’re still moving through it, but Ben has come to love it more than I thought was possible. We’ve agreed that we want to do vol. 2 when we finish vol. 1 and then we’ll decide whether we want to change gears or not (more on that after I finish this).

Social Studies/Geography: We’re using A Child’s Introduction to the World and Little Passports to work on the notion of other people and other countries. It’s been working really well. We’re going to add in Around the World in 80 Tales when we get to the continents and different countries, which should be a lot of fun.

Science: We’re going to continue using Building Foundations of Scientific Understanding, Vol. 1. My projected goal is to finish it in 2013 and move into vol. 2. We’ll see how that goes. We’ve also added A Naturalist’s Guide to Florida and a Florida nature guide book. None of the guidebooks designed for the “east” are really designed for Florida, so we’re having to truly specialize in this area. I’m hoping to convince him (and myself) to keep a nature notebook this year. We’ll see.

Bible: We’re using Telling God’s Story, vol. 1 and loving every minute of it. We have vol. 2 waiting in the wings for when we finish vol. 1.

Music/Art: We’re currently using Pianamals to learn the foundations of playing the piano. Ben seems to be in enjoying it and Katie likes to get in on the act with this one as well. To learn more about the history of music, we’ve been reading/listening to The Story of the Orchestra. Again, it’s been a hit and works well with the way that Ben learns. For art, we’re still trying to use Artistic Pursuits. Ben has some resistance to this, but we’re not sure why. We’re going to keep on with it for a bit longer and see if his attitude changes.

Outside Activities: We’re currently looking at several. Some are one’s we’ve been doing and some are new additions: MOSI classes — we started these in October of 2011 and Ben has fallen in love with them. This is a once a month class that focuses on different areas of science and technology/industry. Zoo school — another once a month class that Ben has been doing for almost two years. He’s enjoyed it quite a lot and desperately wants to go back for next year. Dance: Ben has really enjoyed his dance class (harassement and teasing aside) but wants more focus on the areas he’s interested in (tap, specifically), so we’re going to move to a dance studio around the corner from us and see how that goes. He’s expressed interest in also taking ballet, but I don’t know if he’s serious or not. We’ll see. Finally, we’re going to add a homeschooling class at Young Chef’s academy to capitalize on his interest in cooking.

Physical stuff: He’s working on swimming. He rides his bike. He’s learning to use a traditional scooter. We have a PE curriculum, but we’ve never really implemented it. We’ll see where we go from here with this area.

So, that’s the plan for Ben. I’ll be working on a plan for Katie next and will hopefully be able to post it sooner rather than later. As for shifting gears after vol. 2 of Story of the World. I really, REALLY like Trail Guide to Learning’s Paths for Exploration, but Ben’s skills just aren’t quite up to where they need to be to conquer that curriculum this early (I have to keep reminding myself he’s a very young whatever grader because of his birthday). I would have to modify even the lowest level for him and at that point I don’t see why I would do that. So, we’re going to wait at least a year and then look at it more seriously. None of us are sure we’re ready for vol. 3 of SOTW, and it might make more sense to shift over at that point. We’ll see.

December 3 in 30: And on the last day

3in30 Challenge

Read the Daily Office

I’ve read it every day for the last 35 days. I think that makes it almost a habit. My intention had been to read it in the morning, but that doesn’t always happen. I try though.

Slow Down

I did this as well. P was shocked when there were two days the week before Christmas and most days the week after Christmas completely unscheduled. No activities; no work; no nothing. It’s been a good break and helpful in that respect.

Build a Schedule

Still working on this. It turns out that this is a much larger undertaking than I imagined. I needed to just keep plugging away at it, and I’ll hopefully have it done soon.

This is the weekly link up page. Please go there if you want to see how others did this month. I’ll be back tomorrow with new goals and hopefully a renewed commitment to the blog. We’ll see.


December 3 in 30: Week 1 and 2

3in30 Challenge

Read the Daily Office

This is going well. The app on my phone makes it easy. I added in a Worship playlist and it’s just a perfect combination to get my mornings going. I read the evening psalm sometime in the evening and it all works for me. Yay.

Slow Down

I have actually slowed things down a bit. We aren’t doing as much. I’m not trying to jam in everything, though it apparently feels that way to P. This weekend is a bit jammed up, but it’s going to be worth it, I think. Both kids have mini-dance recitals. We have a couple of work things and Ben has a dress rehearsal of his “big play” on Sunday after church. But the next week is really slow. This weekend is packed and then it’s a vast white space on my calendar until Christmas eve. I think that’s slowing things down. A lot. I haven’t tried to do everything. I haven’t tried to do all the cool things I wanted to do. I’m just taking it slow. Even if this particular weekend doesn’t feel like it.

Build a Schedule

I have finished reading Managers of Their Homes. I’m starting to work on the first part of building the schedule. I’m thinking this will work for us. My biggest issue is to figure out what Katie can do while Ben is doing school. Ben has been absolutely heroic in completing his school work the last two days while his sister has been doing her darnedest to distract him, me, etc. We need to give the child something to do. Sigh. Now I need to figure out how to school two kids. I thought I had a bit more time.

This is the weekly link up page. Please go there if you’re joining in, want to see what others are doing and so on.

And I’m glad to be back 🙂

December 3 in 30: Goals

3in30 Challenge

Read the Daily Office

Um, daily. Kind of like the name implies. I have this handy app on my phone now that gives me the office for the day, so I don’t have the excuse of having to look it all up anymore. So, for this month I want to try to read it, you know, daily. I figure if I can get the habit going maybe I can keep it going. We’ll see.

Slow Down

Last night, Fr. Doug (who probably doesn’t mind me talking about him, but one never knows so I won’t link to his blog) showed us a Rob Bell video. Now, I know there’s a lot of fuss in a lot of circles about Rob Bell and I understand that. Heck, I even get, to a degree, why he makes people fussy. However, this video (“Shells”, if you’re wondering) made me wonder about my God-given purpose and I realized that I really need to slow down and figure out if I’m living in alignment with what I believe my purpose to be. So, part of that is trying to slow down a bit (though today has not been one of my best examples of that, sigh). To me, this means trying to be more deliberate in the choices that I make and trying not to be influenced, too much, by the outside when I decide how I’m going to devote my time this month.

Build a Schedule

I have all these amazing books and stuff on scheduling and the benefits thereof. Now, instead of letting them sit here, I’m going to spend this month working through one of them (Managers of Their Homes) and attempt to build a schedule. I know, from a brief foray into scheduling before P went on vacation that schedules work for me better than I thought they would, but as soon as he was on vacation my whole schedule was done. Sigh. So, back to that, too.

This is the weekly link up page. Please go there if you’re joining in, want to see what others are doing and so on.

And I’m glad to be back 🙂

October 3 in 30: Week 1

3in30 Challenge

Clean Out the Bookcases.

Continuing apace. I need to get a picture of the inside of my husband’s truck. We focused the effort there and on cleaning out the bins in the bedroom. We moved books from the truck to the bins, BUT there was method to that madness. We took all the magazines and catalogs out of the bins first. Those have all been recycled and then we put all the books from the truck into the bins so a) P has a truck to drive if he wants to and b) the books are more or less in one space and I can find them.

Course Revision

One of the first new pieces that I’m adding to this course is written. This is a huge step building on the research that deals with concept inventories, but making it appropriate to the class that I’m building. It was more work to make the charts I needed than it was to come up with the question and it’s received good feedback from the folks reviewing so that’s good. I’ve also been checking data and figuring out what works and what doesn’t with the discussion question sets we currently have. Since I wrote the questions, I can tell you that’s always fun. Also sorted out some issues with assignment language that need to be addressed. A lot of what I say about this is necessarily vague. The course is proprietary and belongs to someone else when I’m finished, but for those students who wonder — it takes a lot of work to build a good online course.

Develop a Weekly Schedule.

So far, I’m flailing around like a crazy person, so the schedule idea is not working out as well as I’d like. I tried drawing a quadrant map today so my son could see everything I have to do this weekend. He was not happy with the amount of work that mom is going to be doing and wants to know where the fun is. You know what? I want to know that, too. So, with luck I’ll be able to work on a schedule next week that’s better than the vague-ish thing I had this week.

Here’s the linkto the weekly link up. Make sure you check out the goals that others’ are setting.

October 3 in 30: Goals

3in30 Challenge

Clean Out the Bookcases.

Carry over from last month. I’ve already started in again, so I feel very hopeful that this may be the month that I finish.

Course Revision

This is a work goal. I want to turn in the course revision that I’m working on by October 31. This entails a lot of brain work and writing on my part, but I think I can do it in the space of a month. We’ll see.

Develop a Weekly Schedule.

As my work has kicked back in I can see that I need a schedule to guide me and make sure that I’m not spending all day with a computer on my lap. I need to make sure my kids get their schooling and so forth. It’s been a little hectic during seminar 1, so a schedule seems like the only logical way to attack the situation. I’m planning to use Tell Your Time to help me with this. If I manage it, I’d like to add to this weekly schedule a cleaning schedule using Create Your Perfect Cleaning Schedule. That may be too ambitious, but we’ll see.

Here’s the link to the weekly link up. Make sure you check out the goals that others’ are setting.

One Bite at A Time: Week 1

I decided to jump on board with the One Bite at a Time Challenge over at Sam’s Noggin. This is where we’ll spend the next 52 weeks going through Tsh Oxenreider’s new ebook, One Bite at a Time. The idea is that each week we’ll pick a new project and work on it, then report back at the end of the week. Some folks are going in order, but this is me. I can’t manage to go in order if my life depends on it. I picked one I thought would be doable this week and went with it.

I’ve been working on clearing the junk out of my email. Somehow, I’ve ended up receiving way more emails about things I’m not the slightest bit interested in than I can count, but for the last week, every time one came in, I found the unsubscribe link and removed myself from the mailing list. My inbox seems clearer and it is so much easier to go through email and find what I need now. There’s a bit more to it than just unsubscribing, and if you’d like to know more, please consider buying Tsh’s ebook and joining in on this year long life improvement project.

Books mentioned in this post:

*Links in this post is are amazon affiliate links. If you click and buy, well, I get a little percentage.