Monday, August 29, 2011

Our first day

First day jitters... I think I was more excited last night than they were!  Anticipation of how today would go, wondering if we'd throw in the towel before our second subject...  ;)  Thankfully, our first day went wonderfully!

The girls were dressed before I could even tell them to do their chores, and ate their oatmeal, blueberries and yogurt quickly.  Jujubee was so excited she kept telling me she couldn't wait another hour until school started.  However, mommy has more morning chores than they do, so we didn't start until 9:00.

We sang the morning song, said the pledge, and read a story at Coco Bear's level, and then the girls sat at their desks.  They love having it set up as our education room.  I'm sure we will gravitate toward other rooms too, but we are very fortunate to have a room where we can keep everything.

Jujubee worked hard, and we had a lot of fun getting through our morning classes.  I have them set up as workboxes, where everything for a specific subject is in a box.  That way she just has to pull the box out, we work on that subject, and when we're done with it, we put it away and pull a new box.  

When she got to her science workbox, her to-do sheet said "get your shoes and backpack on."  It also had her backpack in it, with her science materials in it.  So we went to the park, did our science, drew in our nature journals, and waited for her surprise to come.  I had called her Grandparents to come have lunch with us.  Grandpa took them for a walk down the (currently dry) creek.

I also took this opportunity to have Grandma and Grandpa fill out some information for Jujubee's "My family history" project.  :)

We couldn't have had better weather.  The day was gorgeous!  After lunch, everyone was tired, so we went home for a nap.  Jujubee read to me, and wrote in her reading journal.  Then we were done for the day until daddy read Stuart Little as part of literature before bed.  I love that he gets to be a part of our "school day".  

Friday, August 26, 2011

It's almost time!

Our "homeschool journey" will officially start on Monday.  I have planned for this for months, agonizing over curriculum, purchasing curriculum, gathering books and supplies, organizing our supplies, our room, planning our days.  Monday, it will all be put into action.  We are all excited, Jujubee is antsy and wishes we could start (several days ago).  I am also very worried.

What is there to be worried about?  I've planned, prepared, planned some more.  But what if I fail?  This is their education, their future!  I have to do it right...  right?

Lately, I have met some amazing moms, both online and in my personal life.  They have taught me many things, but most importantly, that there is no "right" way.  That is the beauty of homeschool!  The only "right way" is the way that works for us.  So if something isn't working out, we have the opportunity to change it!  Not so in public school, or private even.  They have a curriculum, and that is it for the rest of the year.  Wether it works for you, or not.  No matter if you understand, or you click with your teacher, your class is moving on.  But with homeschooling, you have choices!  So many choices!

I've often had the thought cross my mind that the curriculum I have chosen or created will not work for us.  Well, guess what?  If it doesn't work, we will change it!  We can buy a new one, sell our old one, or we will adjust it to fit our needs.  It's that simple!  And if that doesn't work, we can ask for help.  There are so many wonderful resources available to homeschooling families.  We do not need to feel alone in this journey.

To all my fellow homeschooling families, I wish you peace on your journey this year.  Take heart in knowing you are doing what is right for you, and your family - no matter what choice you make.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


Today I realized something.  While using a new app for my iPad (HomeBudget), I came to the shocking reality of needing to *actually* budget.  Normally, we do very well with budgeting, meaning we have always been able to pay our bills.  We don't carry a balance on anything except the mortgage.  Although we do pay for everything with our Discover (or Visa, if Discover isn't accepted) we pay them off monthly.  It has benefited us greatly to do this, because we get 1-5% or more back on everything.

Lately, expense after expense has been coming up, and after inputing everything into this new app, I realized if we don't make some changes, we could be in trouble in the near future.  My job, as a stay-at-home-mom, is to be in charge of the home, the finances, etc.  And I have been doing a good job, but not a "great" job.

So basically what I'm getting at, is although I knew we were making big changes in our lives by getting ready to homeschool (Monday!  Eeek!), we will also be making more changes from finances, to schedules, menus and food...  It's kind of ironic that Mommy will be learning/improving "math" and "home economics" right alongside the girls.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Our homeschool curriculum choices for first grade

I've talked about it before, but now that everything is finalized I want to share it with you.  We are following the Charlotte Mason Method, and mixing in a little Classical Education.  Those words probably mean nothing or very little to you if you are not a homeschooling family, and possibly even if you are!  Basically, it is just a guide on how we homeschool.

I spent months researching curriculums, reading books, reviews, talking to other moms.  My favorite resources to figure it all out have been Simply Charlotte Mason website, the book The Well Trained Mind, as well as the forums on the Well Trained Mind website, and an amazing group on Cafemom called Homeschooling Moms.  Finally this is what we decided on:

Math - Saxon 1
Spelling - All About Spelling, level 1
Handwriting - Handwriting without tears, my printing book
History - Story of the World, Ancient Times
Science - Outdoor Secrets, and we will be doing our own body curriculum after we complete OS
Poetry - Favorite Poems Old & New, and A Child's Garden of Verses
Personal Development - A Child's Book of Character Building, Book 1
Art - Drawing with Children
Music - World's greatest composers series, starting with Bach
Nature Study - using Hours in the Out-of-doors as a guide, as well as the Handbook of Nature Study
Reading - reading books relating to our Science and History
Literature - following the literature list on
Grammar (will not start until second semester) - English for the Thoughtful Child

Wow, so that seems like a lot.  But the nice thing is that with the method's I am using, most lessons only take 15-20 minute, and of course we do not do every subject every day.  We started Handwriting over the summer, and are about halfway through that book, so we are trying to decide if we should move on to the next HWOT book, or start doing copywork like the CM method suggests.

Another great thing about the method we are using, is that it uses "living books" instead of a lot of text books for subjects like science, history, etc.  So that means, my library has been an amazing resource!  It has saved me so much money, and so far, they have had every book we will need for the first month or two, or a very good substitution.

Wish us luck!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I'm loving this new binding machine

I love to personalize things.  Shirts, purses, backpacks, notebooks, anything I possibly can.  Mainly because there is never anything out in shopping world that is exactly "me".  So now that we have begun our "homeschool journey" I have found myself unsatisfied with the selection of plain notebooks out there, and the cute ones cost entirely too much money.  Plus, they are never exactly what I need.

Which brings me to my quest for the perfect notebooks!  If you can't find what you are looking for out there, make your own!  While reading one of my favorite blogs, Satori Smiles I came across a post about her creating her own notebooks with a binding machine.  I immediately fell in love with the idea, and promptly purchased one from Office Depot online, as well as some spines, and different types of paper.   (If you plan on doing this, be sure to check for online coupon codes!  I saved a bundle and it shipped free to my home!)

It seems expensive, but after coupons, and taking into account that I can use this for years, it is well worth it.  So far, I have created a reading log, some drawing pads, my own homeschool planner (a whole other post!), 3 nature journals, and a dictation notebook.  It is well on it's way for paying for itself already!

This is my first project with the ProClick; a reading log!

Isn't it adorable?  I cut down 12x12 scrapbook paper for the outside cover, added a sticker to the front, and used unpunched, ruled paper for the inside (also purchased at Office Depot).  It was so easy that I find myself looking for things to bind daily.  

Here are some pics of how I made a drawing pad.  First, you gather your supplies.  The blue thing is the actual binding machine.  In front of that is the spine, my paper, and the binding tool.

Stick the paper in the binding machine, making sure it is nice and even.  I did about 4 sheets at a time.  

Then you pull that little black handle you see at the top, and make it come down to the bottom.  Presto!  You have holes in your paper!

Line the holes up with the binding spine. 

As you can tell, mine is a little bigger than I need, so you just trim it to size.  They cut easy with a pair of scissors.

Then, you will need to close the first couple rings on your own, they snap together very easily.  You could snap the entire thing with your fingers, but the little tool is included so, why not? You just run the tool down the spine, squeezing it.

And you're done!  Sometimes I add a pretty cover made of heavy card stock, sometimes I laminate the cover if it is going to be used a lot, or has a possibility of getting wet (nature journal).  

I have to warn you though, it is highly addicting.  Before you know it you may start binding your monthly bills together.