Thursday, January 28, 2010

Home Learning Organization part 1

I was recently reading about Dawn's organizational system and thought to myself, "Self, do you think anyone cared how YOU organize your homeschool?" Since I received one comment that was positive about blogging such an issue here it is.

Let me preface this post by saying that blogs seem to make life look easy, effortless and mostly perfect. Lord knows that isn't the case around our house. So, I'm showing you what I do, what works for me and my crew, in case some part of it will work for you.

Another thought before I many of you know our oldest is autistic. If there's one thing that we've learned about autism in our household, it's that when we are organized and have everything planned and noted, life goes much smoother. Anxiety levels are down and work gets accomplished. Needless to say my "system" has in great part stemmed from the needs of Nathan and my own need to "know what's happening."

To begin, lets talk about colors. Both my boys are fanatical about their favorite colors. Nathan's is blue, Nolan's is red. EVERYTHING they own is their favorite color. Needless to say, it can be annoying at times but it works out well in my organizational system.

As you can see, each boy has several notebooks in his favorite color. I'm going to talk today about the folder we use every day. This folder (it's just a simple two pocket folder) holds all the papers needed for the week, their weekly schedule and all the finished papers for the week. I don't require them to put anything in order at this point. Nathan probably tends to keep things in order a bit more than Nolan but, to be honest, I don't really look at these folders other than to put papers inside them over the weekend.
Included is a picture of the weekly schedule that I print out for both boys. This week's looks a little thin because we have a field trip and a homeschool group activity. I keep the instructions to a minimum in the schedule because I often change my mind about exactly what we are learning OR I have given the boys a long term project that they can finish as they wish. I'm trying to work on more independence in their school work and responsibility this year. It is slow in coming but I can see progress.

Last for this post is my notebook. I really don't use it very much but I do keep a three ring binder with my lesson
plans (I usually do my plans on the computer and just print them out), ideas and field trip info thrown into a folder in the back. Once you see what I have in some of the boys other folders, you'll see why I don't really use this folder a whole lot. I do like having everything in one spot so I can find what I need quickly. In the next post I'll share what we do with all those papers that accumulate.

Simple, Modern

One of the extra pleasures of no longer working is the extra energy I have to get back to the things I love. One of those passions is making quilts for friends who are having babies. I just think every baby needs a homemade quilt. I regret that I didn't always have the time and energy to bless every new baby with a quilt!So, here is my newest. It is very simple. I intended to make this differently, but the rocket ship fabric needed to be the focus. I don't know why I have more difficulty making a quilt for a boy. I just do. The fabric selections are more limited for one. So when I stumbled upon this fabric I knew it was right. I machine quilted the whole thing with 100% cotton thread and the batting is 100% cotton as well. I think that is one of the reasons the whole thing is so crinkly. It is very soft as well so baby should be very comfy. This quilt is for Nolan's piano teacher's baby. His teacher (you can check out his web site here) is wonderful. Since the lessons are at his house I've become friends with his wife and two daughters. They are also homeschoolers. His daughters bring a smile to my face every week. I love to listen to their antics and their stories. So I was happy to make this little quilt for their newest member to be born in March. I have quite a few friends at church who are due this summer and I have ideas brewing around in my head for those babies. Two of them read my blog so I won't be able to show pictures for some time but I'll be in the sewing room as much as possible over the next few months.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's a lamp thing

On Wednesdays Nolan goes to his old school for PE and stays for lunch with his pals. I have about an hour and fifteen minutes from drop off to pick up. Usually I just go home and see how Nathan is getting along with his work. Some days I head to Target which is about 3 minutes from the school. Today I needed some magazine holders to help in my homeschooling organization (hopefully a post tomorrow or Friday about that) and some acne medicine since we are now entering the hormone laden years (help me Lord). Next to the Target is a Goodwill. So, having some extra time, I stopped by the Goodwill. I bought my dad a never opened 2000 piece puzzle for $1.97 (too much money my mother will say) and an old lamp for $7.97. I thought it would go well with the one I recently fixed. It didn't have a shade and I wasn't sure it would work. With my new lamp fixing skills I figured this wouldn't be a problem. As it turned out, the lamp worked fine and Nolan and I stopped at Home Depot after our volunteer session with PAWS tonight to pick up a shade. I'm pretty happy with the purchase.

In other quilty news, I just finished the quilt for Nolan's piano teacher and his wife. Their baby is due in March. You can see part of it in my new header. It just came out of the dryer all crinkled and warm. There's just about nothing I love better. Pictures soon.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The alphabet of blogs

Some days I just can't do a whole lot. Today is one of those days. It's cold. It's gray. I'm grouchy. So as the boys are quietly reading, I sit at the computer because I just can't bring myself to do anything else (although Lord knows, I should). I began checking those blogs that I enjoy. It's so nice that I don't even have to type the url address anymore. My little Apple lap top remembers everything for me. All I have to do is type in one letter and it gives me a list of web sites to choose from. Isn't that nice, especially on a day when I'm feeling really lazy? I wondered if I had a site that I regularly look at for each letter of the alphabet. Here's what I discovered:
Well, I'm glad to see I don't have the WHOLE alphabet. If I get a little more energy I'd like to write a post about how we organize our homeschool materials. I know everyone is different and I've changed things up over the years but I feel like we have a good system right now and thought I'd share it for whoever may be interested. Then again, I just may be too lazy.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


We had to say a forever farewell to a beloved husband, father and grandfather this week. Mike's dad passed away on Tuesday with his family and beloved priest by his bedside. He had a long battle with cancer and a final stroke that took away his voice but not his spirit! I'm using the above picture because DadDad (what the boys called their grandfather) was ceaseless in his work. He did not rest when there was work to be done. There was always work to be done. Sometimes the work involved filming the likes of Johnny Cash and Mohammad Ali. His work included helping Vietnamese refugees find a place to live and teaching them English. If you needed help, DadDad found a way to help you. He made friends everywhere he went. Friends with the waitress, the innkeeper, the neighbor, the hitchhiker. There are not enough words to describe the life of this man. But, we will not remember him for his work as a tv producer or because of the stars he met, but because of the love he showed for all he met. You are truly an inspiration. We will miss you but your spirit lives on in everyone who you touched in some way. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Geology fun

We've been back to homeschooling for one marking period. It took me a lot of that time to figure out just what we were doing! I committed to earth science and astronomy this year. I'm a firm believer that science should be hands on. Despite my firm belief, I found that it wasn't always easy to gather supplies for the experiments in the book. Science was getting a little boring. So right around Christmas time I fleshed out the rest of our earth science units. Geology and weather will round out these studies. Nolan has always been very interested in rocks and gems so I thought I should try to make it fun as well as educational. I made them each a science notebook to go with our lessons (about 6 weeks for this unit). I also bought some equipment that I thought was economically priced from Home Science Tools. We now own a spring balance (for finding specific gravity), streak plates, hydrochloric acid (who doesn't love to see if rocks react??), new magnifying glasses and rocks, lots of rocks. Today's lesson utilized many of the tools for identifying rocks and minerals that we learned in the last few weeks. To practice we used the Geology Field Trip in a Bag. Totally cool. The boys worked on this science lesson for about 2 hours and were very focused. They found specific gravity, streak, hardness, color and luster of five known minerals and rocks. I found this type of schooling has helped me feel less of the winter blahs. I hope you are plugging away as well.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Mrs. Fixit

Once upon a time, about 15 years or so ago, a good friend gave us a beautiful, antique lamp that he rewired. This lamp was probably one of the finest gifts we'd ever received. It was perfect. We loved it. We used it. Alot.

Once upon a lesser time ago, about 3 years, this beautiful, well loved, one-of-a-kind lamp stopped working. We tried to fix it (sort of), but it was beyond our meager expertise. This little lamp was moved to the basement when we moved to our new house.

Always in the back of my mind was the reality that this lamp could be fixed, by me. I looked it over several times but was stymied by the metal construction. How does all that wire get from the bottom to the top and attach to the light bulb? How does one get ones fingers in those tiny spaces?

Well, yesterday I decided that I NEEDED to fix this lamp. I longed for the lamp. I craved the beauty of the old metal, the curve of the decoration, the gentle light. I set to work.

I discovered that said lamp could be unscrewed in various places. I found out how to take it all apart. Actually, I've always been good at taking things apart. It's putting them back together again that is sometimes difficult.So, after a few trials and a trip to Home Depot, I was able to fix the lamp. Need I say that I'm proud of myself and not ashamed to toot my own horn. I spent the night reading (homeschool curricula) by my lamp with a fire in the fireplace. Ahhhhh, peace.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year (are you out of your pajamas yet?)

I know I'm not. Nor is anyone else in my family. That's the way we like to celebrate the new year. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it's good to take a day to really relax. We had a wonderful New Year's Eve last night. We all participated in our parish Mass. The boys were altar servers, Mike played the organ and I was the cantor. It was my first time cantoring and it was so nice to stand beside my honey in the choir loft and see my babies on the altar beside our beloved priest. It was a fabulous way to spend the last hours of 2009.Today was the deadline for Jaquie's Joy in the New Year challenge. I had only one work in progress (which had been in progress for 2 years). I was able to finish it a few weeks ago. I originally made this to be a picnic blanket for the summer time. I love it so much that I've just been draping it over our bed (not that it matches or anything) for extra warmth. Thanks, Jaquie, for inspiring me to finish.Here's the other quilt I was able to whip up in less than a week. The finished memory quilt for my in-laws. I had a bit of difficulty with the red flannel running, despite prewashing. I guess with red you really need to prewash a few times. The photo blocks turned a little pink but overall it was a success.
I wish you all happiness in 2010. Now, I'm off to lounge some more.
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