Getting organized

I was completely unmotivated and overwhelmed last week.  It wasn’t just school that had me down, though I wasn’t feeling much inspired by that – we just had so much going on and I didn’t feel like I had any time to relax or get myself back on track!  Tuesday was the first day back for our arts co-op, so Mr. S was excited to see his friends and Little T was slightly less excited about trying something new.  All the moms in the co-op are required to volunteer three or four times a quarter, and I got to do it last week – so instead of having a little downtime while the kids were occupied, I spend the morning shepherding Mr. S’s class (about 12 4-6 yr olds) to their classes and helping the teachers enforce a bit of classroom management.  It was fun, but exhausting!  Then on Wednesday, a church group I belong to had its monthly  meeting, and on Thursday I had arranged for us to visit a local Classical Conversations group to see if it’s something we want to participate in next year.

All three days, we had fun activities, but all three days we were running late and I felt disorganized.  On Tuesday, we didn’t get out of the house early enough to go to 9am Mass with the group before classes; on Wednesday, we were 20 minutes late for the meeting, which is problematic because I’m the group’s secretary and have to take minutes (fortunately, there’s a little extra time built into the schedule for socializing); and on Thursday, I felt rushed and forgot that I was supposed to bring our lunch so we could stay and socialize with the other families after the academic portion of the day ended.

I’m definitely not a morning person, but I hate feeling disorganized even more than I hate getting up early – so I decided it’s time for a change.  The only day we don’t seem to run late is Sunday, and that’s because I teach PREP (Parish Religious Education, for those of you whose churches might call it something different) at 8am, so I know I have to set an alarm and get up before the kids.  I’ve decided to try doing that during the week as well.  I was not excited when the alarm went off at 6am this morning, but it was nice to have time to work out and have a cup of coffee before the kids woke up.

Hopefully I can keep it up, and it will make our schedule feel less hectic going forward!  I’ve always been good at organizing some aspects of our life – for instance, I generally stay at least two weeks ahead when it comes to lesson planning – but I really need to be a better steward of our time.

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Back to the grind

After taking four weeks off for the holidays, it’s been a little tough getting back into the routine this week.  Fortunately I had the foresight to do some lesson planning before we went to Florida for Christmas and New Year’s, so at least I didn’t have to do more than print out the craft instructions and make sure I picked up all the books I reserved from the library, and we were good to go!  The kids were excited to get back to school, and I’m rediscovering my enthusiasm too.

Back in December, I decided that after the holidays we’d spend a few weeks talking about winter and reading winter-themed storybooks, many of which are related to snow.  This turned out to be perfect timing, because Sunday night we had the biggest winter storm that Georgia has seen in years – nearly six inches of accumulation!  So in addition to reading snowy books and doing wintry crafts, we’ve been playing in the snow every day.  We even got to build a huge snowman yesterday!  Unfortunately we built him on an incline, so he fell over after an hour, but considering that I grew up  in Miami and DH in Puerto Rico, you can’t fault us for not having the mechanics of snowman construction down pat.

Anyhow, I do want to share the books we’ve been reading this week:

Jan Brett’s books are always well-told stories with beautiful illustrations, and Annie and the Wild Animals is no exception!

 

Kazuno Kohara’s Here Comes Jack Frost is my new winter favorite.  The blue and white illustrations are just gorgeous, and the story is simple but fun – perfect for preschoolers!

 

Snowmen at Night is the weakest of my selections for this week, but it’s still a cute story.  I read it to the kids on Monday as we were sitting outside in the snow, and we’ll read it again tomorrow before we make our snowman craft.

I need to get back in the habit of blogging – I do this mostly for myself, as a record of our homeschooling journey, but I’ve gotten out of the habit of both reading blogs and writing these past few weeks.  Need to reestablish my habits in the New Year!

Wordless Wednesday – books we’re reading

St. Lucy Day

This was our first year celebrating St. Lucy Day, and I sort of threw it together at the last minute – but the kids enjoyed it, and I will definitely put a little more planning into it next year!

We had cinnamon rolls for breakfast, and traditionally they are supposed to be served to the family by the oldest daughter wearing a crown of greenery with candles in it on her head, a white robe, and a red sash.  There is no way we were putting anything with candles in it on Little T’s head, so we made a crown of green construction paper with four construction paper candles instead.  Next year I’ll work on the robe and sash part.

According to my Big Book of Catholic Customs and Traditions, boys can wear a blue hat with yellow stars on St. Lucy Day – so I made one of those for Mr. S.

The hats lasted past breakfast, much to my amazement!  I don’t think they’ll make it through the day, though – but I’m glad the kids enjoyed this new tradition, and I hope to make it more meaningful in the years to come.

Planning ahead

We’re going to be out of town from Dec. 22 to Jan. 2 – we’ll be spending Christmas and New Year’s with my family in Florida, I’m hoping for warm weather!  This week I’m trying to get a head start on planning what kinds of units we’ll be doing the first few months of 2011.  Here are my ideas so far:

  • Winter – I found enough picture books and craft ideas to keep us busy for the entire month of January.
  • African American History Month – I’m not sure I can fill an entire month, but I’m going to give it a shot.  The challenge will be finding picture books on notable African Americans that aren’t over my kids’ heads!  But if I can’t fill the whole month, February is also Children’s Dental Health Month and Library Lovers’ Month.
  • Spring – the first day of Spring is March 20, but hopefully the weather will be getting a bit nicer in March so we can start taking some hikes and talking about the changes that Spring brings.
  • Easter – this year it’s April 24, so we’ll focus on Lent and preparing for Easter during the month of April.

At some point in the early months of 2011, I’ll have to start thinking about what kind of curriculum we’ll need for the 2011-2012 school year.  I’m still leaning towards Classical Conversations; I plan to arrange for us to visit a class meeting in January, because I think the local group starts registration for Fall 2011 in February.

We’re also going to be busy with extracurricular activities. In addition to the co-op enrichment classes every Tuesday, little T will be starting ballet in January, and Mr. S is going to play t-ball beginning the first week of February.  There is much to look forward to in the coming year!

Wordless Wednesday

Preparing for Christmas

Yesterday we started baking.  I put Little T and Mr. S to work peeling the wrappers off Hershey’s kisses so I could put them on peanut butter cookies (my mom calls these Peanut Blossoms, and it’s our family’s go-to Christmas cookie).  They did a great job, even if they did eat quite a few of the kisses!  You can also see our Advent wreath here – we light it every morning, and they color their Jesse tree ornaments here while I read them the corresponding verses from the Bible.

And here is our Jesse tree.  I bought it on eBay specifically because it has enough space to hang all the ornaments the kids will be creating between now and Christmas.  I wish I could remember where I downloaded the ornaments – I know it was one of the blogs that I read faithfully, but unfortunately there are so many of them that at this moment I can’t recall which it is!  When I figure it out, I’ll come back here and link to it. Edit:  I found it!  Here is the link.

This is our Advent calendar.  My sister gave it to us last year, and it’s perfect – each little door opens to a cubby that’s big enough for two Hershey’s kisses and a folded piece of paper with our Bible verses for the day and a short prayer.  Since Little T is 3 and Mr. S is 4, she gets to open the door on the odd-numbered days and he does it on even-numbered days.

Our stockings are literally hung by the chimney – after growing up in Miami, I truly relish having a fireplace this time of year!  On top of the mantle is our Nativity set.  My mother took a ceramics class the first year that she and my father were married (1959), and she made two of these sets – one for her and one for my grandmother.  Now I have one set and my sister has the other one, and even though it’s got a few chips and the donkey is missing an ear, it’s my most beloved Christmas decoration!  The only thing I don’t particularly like is that the baby Jesus and the manger are all one piece, so I can’t leave the Christ-child out until Christmas – unless I hold the manger back too.  Oh well!

And finally, here is our tree.  Growing up, we always had a fake tree because I was allergic to real trees (and a variety of other things, most of which I have fortunately outgrown); and so I have always felt more at home with fake trees than real ones.  We bought this particular tree about five years ago, and I love that it’s pre-lit – so the only lights I have to untangle are the ones that go outside!

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