Friday, November 18, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal: Week 3

In my life this week...
We had a blissfully boring week this week.  I got to stick to my regular routine and I love that.  I was able to get some really good coupon deals this week (yep I'm bragging) and even snuck out of the house all by myself to do some shopping.  This never happens!  I'm trying to talk the hubs into letting this be an every week thing.  It was soooo much easier to shop without the little people whining, and asking for things, and without worrying about losing anyone in the store.

In our homeschool this week...
Little M did not do a letter of the week this week.  He has really been into completing puzzles so I let him just go with it.  He completed his reading lessons and worked on different jigsaw puzzles, alphabet puzzles, shapes puzzles.

Ms. Q is finishing up some lessons about Louis XIV and reading The Man in the Iron Mask.  Which fits in nicely with the fact she has FINALLY started French lessons.  She has wanted to start learning French since last year.  We looked into a few different options but couldn't find one that fit academically or financially.  Until now.  Yeah!  I'm having a hard time helping her because I don't know any French but it's become something that she and I are now learning together.  And if we really find ourselves struggling we do know a few people who speak French that I'm sure would be willing to help us out.

We enjoyed a wonderful guided nature walk on Monday with our homeschool group.  The sun was shinning and the temperature was a balmy 68 degrees.  We saw a number of flying squirrels and learned how the Lenni Lenape tribe used the area before settlers arrived here.  

Everyone was disappointed that our homeschool group kickball game was rained out this week though.  That beautiful weather just didn't hold out.  Not sure if we are going to be able to make it up.  Seems our Indian Summer is over and winter is showing it's face around here.  Oh well, I'm sure it will be ok when they are out playing in the snow and making snowmen.

Places we're going and people we're seeing...
This weekend we are going to a local city zoo for their Critter Story Time.  We have gone to this program before and the kids really loved it.  They listen to an animal related story, make a craft, and then we get to walk through the zoo and see all the animals.

My favorite thing this week was...
Baking ginger snaps with the kids.  I love, love, love baking with my kids.  Yes it often takes longer and the mess is bigger but it's totally worth.  They are always so proud of what they've made and I enjoy spending that time with them.

What's working/ not working for us...
I'm having a difficult time figuring out what to do with Little M for naps.  He often refuses to take a nap but come 4-5pm he's groggy and grouchy.  He eventually gets a second wind but never really gets out of grouchy and falls asleep in the car if we drive anywhere.   This really isn't working for us.  I may try having him at least lay down to rest even if it's to watch television so he can at least get some quiet time.

Things I'm working on...
I'm working on planning a cookie exchange for December.  I've thought about doing this for a couple of years but this is the first time I will actually host the exchange.  I am really excited!

I'm cooking...
I'm in charge of bread baking for Thanksgiving.  I just mixed up some wet dough to sit in the fridge for a few days so that it will take on a slight sour dough flavor.  I will bake the loaves on Wednesday to bring to my parents' house Thursday.

I'm grateful for...
A very patient and tolerate old dog. (See below.)

A photo, video, link, or quote to share...

The Homeschool Mother's Journal

Monday, November 14, 2011

Simplify the Holidays

I love Christmas time.  I love listening to holiday music, eating indulgent food, gathering with friends and family, finding the perfect gift.  Since becoming a parent however, I've noticed that all that merry-making can be quite stressful.  If you love the holiday season but dread the hustle and bustle and feel a full out migraine coming on when you think about budgeting, shopping, planning, traveling, cooking, wrapping, cleaning - well then I have something I think might help you.

What if your holidays were simplified?  What if there was a little less stuff but more meaning and happiness?  Take the 2011 Simplify the Holidays Challenge.  Pledge 5 or more actions that you will adopt this holiday season to simplify your holidays and help others and the planet.

Here are the actions I pledged this holiday season:

1. Create a handmade gift.  I usually knit or sew something for each of the kids and we bake sweets or make candies for friends and family members.

2. Consider less gimmicky, less commercial gifts for children, such as arts/crafts supplies, books, a magnifying glass, or building blocks.  Lets be honest - this may be the toughest one.  With all those toy commercials on TV right now and shelves overloaded with toys, even in the grocery store, this time of year it's hard for little ones not to want the newest, coolest thing (whatever that may be this year).  As a parent, I decided that it is quality over quantity that counts with toys.  I don't need to go out door busting on Black Friday because the toys I want my kids to have aren't at Walmart or Best Buy and they rarely go on sale.  But those "educational" toys are the ones my kids play with over and over again.  They are engaged, they are being creative, they're thinking, and yes they're having fun too.

3. Shop for used items.  This too can be a little difficult with older children.  But we are bargain hunters and used items shoppers on a regular basis.  Christmas shopping should be no different.

4. Give back to your community.  No matter how little we think we may have, there are always those with less.  Get out and do something.  We are collecting canned goods and helping to prepare holiday food baskets and our homeschool group is adopting a family for Christmas.

5. Save paper by wrapping gifts in newspaper comics, junk mail, paper bags decorated with markers, old maps, phone books, or other reused paper.  This one sounds a little funny but we've done it before.  My husband was a little skeptical the year I told him I was going to save money on our Christmas budget by wrapping all the gifts in old newspaper.  He was thinking along the lines of wrapped up fish.  It was a little more elegant, here is how it turned out.

I wrapped each gift in newspaper then a small piece of wrapping paper to make a colorful stripe.  Then added a ribbon or bow.  It came out great, saved us a bunch on our budget, and we reused then recycled all that newspaper. 

So what will you choose to simplify your Holidays?