Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Young Man's Handybook

As I pondered our homeschool journey, I thought a lot about what I wanted to accomplish. Not just what I want to accomplish this year, but what do I want my boys to learn that will take them through their lives. There are quite a few practical skills I'd like them to work on. I am a firm believer that through the practical we can also hone our character. To learn a new skill takes patience and perseverance. Working together on a project takes understanding and kindness. Completing a mundane task over and over requires us to put aside our own wants and focus on the needs of those around us.

We are going to use The Young Man's Handybook this year to focus in on some new skills and practice some old ones. Here are my notes for each chapter. I have included a saint for each chapter to keep us focused on how these topics and skills are related to the path that Christ has set for each of us. I'll have the boys read about the saint in one of the books we already own or search the internet. They will write or type a narration and draw a picture or decorate the page in some manner befitting the saint. I've also given quite a few assignments using PowerPoint or Microsoft Publisher. My boys enjoy using the computer and are often more willing to learn by creating in this manner.

In the Kitchen
  • Saint Pascaul - notebook page
  • retype kitchen rules (page 3) using either PowerPoint or Publisher
  • Sew your own apron (this isn't in the book but seems practical to me)
  • Read and discuss pgs 3-10
  • Pick one recipe to cook for the family. Follow the rules for the kitchen and remember to clean up after yourself
  • Prepare and serve an entire meal for Dad and Mom (that means cleaning up, too)
The Young Gentleman
  • Saint Maximilian Kolbe - notebook page
  • PowerPoint presentation of pgs 65-68 (2 pages for each boy)
  • Shop for a tie.
  • Learn to tie the tie.
  • Get all dressed up for a dinner (either out if the budget allows or at a family meal). Use all the manners you learned about in this chapter.
First Aid and Safety
  • Saint Damian of Molokai - notebook page
  • Make a first aid booklet using information in chapter
  • Make a first aid kid for the house and car.
The Young Handyman
  • Saint John Bosco - notebook page
  • Read about laundry and begin having a family laundry day. A task to do together, properly.
  • Set up an outdoor and (if possible) an indoor laundry line.
  • Sew a button
  • inspect the house for maintenance issues. Make a list and prioritize the maintenance needs.
  • Read pages and follow directions for plumbing, light bulbs, auto and tidying.
Let's go to the Woodshed
  • Saint Joseph - notebook page
  • Create a PowerPoint or publisher page about caring for your tools.
  • practice whittling
  • make a toolbox
  • make a bird house
  • make a paddle boat
The Country Boy
  • Saint Joseph of Cupertino - notebook page
  • Read the chapter
  • practice knot tying
  • Go camping, hiking and fishing
  • refer to section on cooking on a campfire for meal planning
I plan to do this chapter toward the end of the year when we are sick of school and need time away from home. We'll camp at several sites close by and use the knowledge from the book to help us in any area we are deficient.

Outgrowing the Piggy Bank
  • Saint Thomas Becket - notebook page
  • Read chapter
  • Take a look at personal and family finances.
  • Think about how to earn money over the summer
  • Talk about saving vs. spending and how to be a cheerful giver.
I'm not sure we'll cover all the chapters this year. My thought is to spend about one month per chapter. Some chapters are more intense than others and so we may spend two months on some chapters and only two weeks on others. As with all my planning, I need to see the curriculum in action to see how well it will go and how we need to tweak it to fit our needs.

I am planning on using this curriculum once per week on Friday. Some chapters may require two days. Again, I have to actually do it to see how it will work. Maybe I'll give some homework that will spill into Saturday.

It's official...

We're homeschooling again. I've been spending my nights planning our curriculum. The boys will start home learning in November. I've been so delighted at some of the plans that have been shared by other homeschoolers that I've decided to share my plans with you. I've been blessed by others and want to give in return. Putting my plans up here also helps me tweek them one last time.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I sit here, at the laptop, thinking of the changes that are happening in our lives. I feel like a stream, flowing through the meadow, hitting the rocks and logs and feet of little ones catching frogs. I am awash in this world, beautiful but flowing quickly down stream. A pool of clean, clear water is waiting for me just ahead. Here there is time to wait, to sit and swirl and think.

Our life has been too busy, too crazy. It seems that so many people see this as normal. I guess I've always known we were abnormal. We tried, we really tried to do it like eveyone else: The two jobs, the kids in school, the activities.

It just doesn't work for us. We were miserable.

So....this Friday.....I will be no longer working, the kids will be un-enrolled (is this a word?) from school and we will again be a homeschooling family.

I can't wait to breathe again.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Decalogue for Living

Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII

  1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

  2. Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behavior; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

  3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

  4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

  5. Only for today, I will devote ten minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

  6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

  7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and it my feelings are hurt, I will make sure no one notices.

  8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

  9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

  10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for twelve hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.
The bold items are the one's I really need to work on today. I probably need to work on them every day but I guess the idea is one day at a time. I also stumbled across this blog when I was googling for the Decalogue. Good stuff.

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Just because it makes me happy. I hope it makes you happy, too.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Confusion and Complication

I started this blog to chronicle our life. Our SIMPLE life. Wow, have things gotten complicated. Needless to say, we are in flux. We've changed our lives in several ways since I started blogging. We've moved, we've changed the boys' school....twice. We've aged, we've lost loved ones. We've changed jobs, gone back to school and changed jobs again.

What we've lost is the simplicity in our lives.

I vowed when I started this blog not to let it be a place for me to vent my frustrations. I would keep it positive.

Well....I'm venting. Sort of. I changed the banner to reflect my mood. I want my simple life back. Many would say that life isn't and can't be simple. I say we make it what we want. I don't want my children to spend their childhood doing homework. If I had to narrow our difficulties down to a few things I'd say school and work. We have family crisis as well but that can't be changed. To be honest, the school and work problems keep us from being able to spend time on the family crisis the way we'd like.

So....we're contemplating. We're praying. We're making choices. I know this post isn't very specific. I think changes are in the air but I'm not sure. I keep changing my mind. More later.

The above picture was taken at Pinchot Park. The boys and I hiked the whole way around the lake. 8 miles. That was a really big rock. They loved climbing it. We need more rocks in our life.
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