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.

Not Back to School Blog Hop: Curriculum Week 2nd and PK3/4

Not Back to School Blog Hop

I figured this would be a good way to dip a toe back into blogging waters. I wrote a post earlier this year about curriculum, but things have changed a bit, so I thought I’d go back over our plans.

2nd Grade
Ben has started second grade and clearly has some strengths we can build on and weaknesses we need to develop. He’s quick to learn new things, but he’s easily frustrated if he thinks he can’t do something. We have to work on attitude and determination.

WriteShop Primary A and B: A is probably a little too easy for him, but it helps to build his confidence and that’s what I’m after with writing. He sees writing as an extension of handwriting rather than as a means of communication, so we’re starting slow and easy and progressing at a reasonable pace. We might hit C before the end of the year, but I doubt it.

Writing with Ease Level 1 and 2: We’re finishing off level 1 and then we’ll move to level 2. He actually really likes this, even though there is handwriting involved. He’s learned to accept a certain level of handwriting in his life and is willing to work on it.

All About Spelling Level 2: After putting it away for awhile, he’s agreed to get back to this because he’s now seeing how it helped his reading.

First Language Lessons Level 1 and 2: Again, we’re finishing off level 1 and then moving to level 2.

Assorted Mead workbooks: reading comprehension and handwriting. He has to work on handwriting, but he doesn’t enjoy Zaner-Blosser and the Mead stuff makes sense to him.

Reading: At this point, he’s ready to tackle small chapter books, but he’s “afraid” to tackle small chapter books, so we’re easing in with June Jam by Ron Roy and then working on The Unicorn’s Secret series because he likes that sort of thing.

Math Life of Fred Elementary series. We just finished Edgewood. We’re taking a break for the next two weeks and working on basic facts by playing the addition game from Edgewood and Sleeping Queens.

Science We’re using Building Foundations for Scientific Understanding, vol. 1. We are a little over half-way through which is where we should be, I think. He has science classes at the zoo and at MOSI every month. We also have some REAL Science Odyssey stuff that he uses. Sometimes. But, they involve lots of handwriting and that’s just not his gig yet.

History Story of the World Vol. 1 and then start Vol. 2. Based on my projections, he’ll be into vol. 2 in early January. He did not like this the first time we tried it, but now he asks for it. I think I just started too young with most things for him.

Art/Music/PE We’re doing a mix of things here. I’m still very high on Artistic Pursuits, but I have to be very careful how I introduce it to him (more on that in a minute). He’s using Phonics for Piano right now and doing pretty well. PE is dance class and we have a PE program from FamilyTimeFitness that we use when Mama’s feet allow us to (right now, that’s a big negative). He also gets some PE type stuff from sports when he decides to do them.

The reason I have to be careful about how I introduce it is that I bought a book (I know, a shocker) about project-based homeschooling and it has rocked how we homeschool in a really good way. The thing is that Ben is currently most passionate about art (his art) and he wants near total control in how he does things and what he does. So, I’ve started bringing out Artistic Pursuits for MYSELF and about half the time, he joins in with me and we learn how to use a new kind of art material or we learn a new technique and that seems to work for him. Anything other than that, and I get a huge negative reaction and he refuses to even try. I’m going to be talking a lot more about this book in a future post, just not today.

PreK 3/4

Katie is a whole different world of student. She is very close to reading on her own. She is verbal, independent, and desperate to do school. We started trying what we did with Ben at 3 with her and it wasn’t not working, so we’re trying what is actually a PreK4 program with her even though developmentally she’s 3 (she’ll be chronologically 4 in November, but won’t be developmentally there until May-ish).I settled on using Confessions of a Homeschooler’s K4 curriculum. We’re using Explode the Code, book 1, but we’re moving extremely slow. We do “school” two or three days a week, maximum. Katie does a science class at MOSI every month. We usually wander the zoo while Ben does his zoo class, though we may alter that this year. We’re considering a tot class at the zoo every so often, but I’m not convinced yet. She has tons of learning games on her LeapPad including Little Pim Spanish (the panda game, as she calls it). She also starts her new dance class (ballet and tap) at the same studio Ben will be using. We are counting sleeps and she is VERY excited.

This post is part of the Not Back to School Blog Hop hosted at

Curriculum 2012-13 Reconsidered — Katie

So, remember me of the kicking rocks, issues with the whole what to do with Katie thing? You can click back a blog post if you don’t remember. Anyway, I was settled with being a little dissatisfied and trying to do something for her. And then I got a catalog in the mail. Now, I admit, I’m as susceptible as the next person to a good ad. But, this junior K program seems like an answer to my prayers. It’s structured enough to guarantee that she’s going to get time and attention from mom each week. Has enough different things to keep her interested, but not so much that she can’t still tag in on her brother’s things if she’s interested. And it has a checklist for mom. That checklist is the thing that I think is going to help me succeed with her because I feel like she doesn’t get a chance to actually develop her skills and learn as her brother’s education sucks all the air out of the room. Will this be a program we stick with for her? We have no idea. We agree that the junior Kindergarten investment seems worth it for her and seems to work with what we know are her current strengths. Have I lost my mind? Possibly. I know she won’t use Oak Meadow (a curriculum I already have around here somewhere because it’s not her thing, nor is it Ben’s thing for that matter). I don’t like Sonlight for a number of reasons. Ditto Calvert. And, after junior Kindergarten, I admit, there are parts of this that I don’t like either, but as a point to give her some focus to her preK days, I think this is the ticket. FOR HER. And maybe also for Mama. We’ll see.

February 3 in 30: Goals

3in30 Challenge

Positive Parenting Solutions

My goal here is to work on completing the sessions and worksheets. There are six sessions, total, and I’ve completed one, so I have five to go and this is the month that I’m determined to get through them and start applying the techniques that I’m learning.

Drink More Water

My plan here is to drink two 32 oz. glasses of water per day. So, it’s really more specific than drink “more” water, but that’s definitely more than I’ve been drinking and I’m hoping it will help to stave off my usual March bout with bronchitis.

28 Days To Hope for Your Home

Honestly, this could not have come at a better time. I cannot get organized. I cannot keep the house clean. I don’t know why these tasks seem insurmountable, but they do. So, this featured challenge is perfect for me. I’ve already done the first two days, and my wonderful husband did the third day without even realizing it for me because I have a cold.

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


January 3 in 30: Week 4

3in30 Challenge

Mind-Body-Soul Time

This really has been one of the best things that I’ve done for myself and for the kids. I’m getting know them a lot better (which, I know, sounds nuts given that I homeschool them and see them every day), and I think they both feel more valuable to the family as a whole.

Get the Kids More Involved in the Household

The Motivated Moms thing is going out of the window, today. It is simply not working for us right now. It has worked in the past, and I think when I get this crazy class behind me, it can work again, but there’s just so much happening, I feel like I have to find an “easier” way to manage the house. To that end, new chart being made tonight and implemented tomorrow. Hoping that with fewer things on it, we’ll all feel better able to manage the house and that we’ll all feel like we’re valued, contributing members to the culture of our family.

31 Days To Build A Better Spouse

I think this has worked for us in ways I couldn’t have predicted. Has it made P a completely new person? Of course not. Has it softened my attitude toward some of his foibles? You bet. So, I think this has been a win and something that I’m going to continue for the next month in a less structured way. Perhaps more praying in color or something like that.

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

January 3 in 30: Week 2 & 3

3in30 Challenge

Mind-Body-Soul Time

Still managing this quite well. Most days both kids get one on one time and they seem to be thriving with it. Clearly one of the better decisions I’ve made. Need to keep this going for them and for me.

Get the Kids More Involved in the Household

We have been dividing the chores each week and the kids have attempted a couple of them. Ben is making huge strides with keeping his room clean and remembering to put his clothes in his hamper. We’ve had a few glitches with toys in the living room and with some of the more involved chores due to my work schedule being way more full than I anticipated this term. We may have to rethink the Motivated Moms part of this and create something that is more doable for us in this season of our lives. Worth the thought.

31 Days To Build A Better Spouse

I’m keeping this up well. Mostly in the morning with the daily office, but sometimes I don’t get to any of it until the evening. I’m trying to be more precise with it and more determined in my focus. We’ll continue to see.

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

January 3 in 30: Week 1

3in30 Challenge

Mind-Body-Soul Time

We have managed this. There have been days where the ten minutes turned into thirty minutes, but otherwise, both kids are getting some one-on-one time with me where their interests dominate.

Get the Kids More Involved in the Household

We sat down and divided up the chores, but then we got swept up in some household craziness and didn’t get as far with the chores this week as we’d hoped. We’ll divide the chores again tomorrow and see if we can make a better stab at finishing things next week.

31 Days To Build A Better Spouse

This has been going really well. I’ve linked it up with my Daily Office readings and just plug away a little every day. I have to believe that it will ultimately have an effect even if it doesn’t seem to be in the beginning.

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

January 3 in 30: Goals

3in30 Challenge

Mind-Body-Soul Time

This is a concept described in Amy McCready’s Positive Parenting Solutions class (and her book, If I have to Tell You One More Time …).  The idea is that you spend ten minutes of uninterrupted time with each child, each day, that is child directed. That means the child chooses the activities and so forth. My goal here is to ddo this with each of my kids every day this month.

Get the Kids More Involved in the Household

My goal here is to use the Motivated Moms chore chart to help divide the household workload and to help  them learn new skills. I think this is going to be interesting and hopefully helpful to all of us in maintaining the house.

31 Days To Build A Better Spouse

This is a challenge going on this month based on a book by the same title. I’m hoping that joining into this will help ME think more about P and his needs as my health issues seem to be heading toward resolved..

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

Please note this is the first post written using my new keyboard hooked up to my iPad. I’ve tried to catch all the errors, but if I’ve missed any, I’m sorry.


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.