reading gals 2018

Reading Goals for 2018

Reading Goals 2018

It’s a new year (even though January is somehow already behind us) and time for new reading goals! But first, let’s discuss last year.  My goal last year was to read 120 books, of which 40 would be nonfiction.  That was basically my only criteria.  I knew that the nonfiction take me longer to get through, but I did try to have one going all the time.  At the end of the year, I had read 128 books, of which 41 were nonfiction.

This year, I want to go for a little more structure and depth to my reading.  I’m keeping the number goal of 120, but upping my game to 50 nonfiction.  I’ve made a list of about 30 classics and professional development books I want to get through.  Not all of the 30 will qualify as nonfiction, but there are some challenging classical fiction reads in there.  I’m anticipating that I will easily fill in the gaps just by following my fancy at the library.

 

What I read in January

And since I’ve been stupendously slow about getting back to blogging this year, we’re already to the point that we can evaluate how I did in January.  I’ve read nine books so far, and Goodreads is telling me I’m one book behind schedule.  However, I’m currently reading 8 books, so I’m not really worried about that right now.  As I finish these off and work in some lighter fiction reads I’ll get back on track.

Miss Buncle was my favorite light fiction read, and Miss Prim came in a close second.  “How to Homeschool” by Gayle Graham was the best nonfiction read of January.  If you’re beginning to homeschool, the practical tips on how to manage house, littler kids, and school are invaluable.  The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder was absolutely fascinating.  Honey for a Child’s Heart was a thoughtful discourse on the benefits of reading aloud in a family life.  It also included some great booklists, broken down by general age/reading level.  I always love a booklist!

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What I’m Reading in February

Hopefully my currently-reading stack on Goodreads. Ha-ha.  I have 2 books by Susan Schaffer McCauley going (For the Children’s Sake and For the Family’s Sake) and Ourselves by Charlotte Mason.  The Pilgrim’s Progress is one of the classics on my list for this year too.

A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War by Joseph Loconte, which has started me on The Fellowship of the Ring (and Narnia, but I’m doing those as read alouds with my kids and I don’t count kids read alouds towards my reading totals even if they’re books I would have absolutely read alone.  Hey, I have to TRY to keep it reasonable! ha-ha…)

I haven’t started any of my light fiction for the month, but I have 4 from the library that I plan to get to.  We’ll see how it goes.  I’m working myself into a lovely hole here of reading plans that outscope my reading time already this year.  It’s a good problem to have 😉

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Hopefully I’ll check back in here at the end of February and let y’all know what I’ve finished!  What’s your reading life looking like this year?  Favorite book so far?  Let me know in the comments!

reading gals 2018

Favorite Moments on a Wednesday

Once upon a Favorite Moment

“What day is it?”

“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.

“My favorite day,” said Pooh.

~ A. A. Milne

We have had a crazy week. And it’s only Wednesday. But it’s not the crazy moments I think I’ll forget, or specifically, want to reflect on in the future. Those are the simple life moments with my people. Too often, I think I forget to practice remembering. The days can seem to fly by or last forever, but in every day there are memories to be made. Here are a few from today.

Garbage Day

favorite moments - watching the garbage truck
Wednesday is a favorite day around here, because it is garbage day. The kids make a beeline for the window as soon as they hear the first rhythmic thumps and beeps of the garbage truck making it’s way around the neighborhood.
I love their tousled hair and snuggling blankets. Most of all, I love the delighted giggles, and Eva’s tiny feet tap-dancing with excitement while she watches.

Love Notes in Math Class

favorite moments - love notes in math
Of all the reasons I love homeschooling, this is right up there. Sophia loves math (98% of the time, anyways) and frequently writes little love notes on the top of her papers. “I love you, Mommy!” is of course one of my favorites, but another that she produced last week was “I am a star!” (with a drawn star, not the word.) It made me laugh. She is a star, in my book at least 😉

Quiet Afternoons

favorite moments - quiet afternoon study
My sister Emily came up for a couple of days to help out and she was coloring with the kids this afternoon while I did some studying. She’s a pretty good artist, and of course the kids were intrigued and wanted to do their own coloring too.

Evening Dressup for Eva

favorite moments - Eva plays dressup
After her bath, Eva went looking through her sister’s clothes and came out with this nightgown. She looked like a baby from Peter Pan with the long, long nightgown. Her hair has the softest curl in the end, just over the back of the nightgown–it’s not very visible in this picture, but it is adorable. She’s always reminding me of a vintage poster-child for a Peter Pan book or something from Winnie the Pooh.

Those are a few of my sweet moments today. Hope you’ve had some sweetness in your day too!

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This Is Your Real Life

This is your real life.

Right here, right now, this is your real life.

Whether you feel happy or sad, purposeful or unfulfilled, content or covetous; this moment is your real life. The children might be swinging from the rafters, or you might be settling down after the bedtime rituals. This is your real life. The dirty dishes. Mount Laundry. The crisp night air. The musty scent of changing seasons. All happening now. All your real life.

Several weeks ago, I stumbled across a quote by C. S. Lewis, at the moment I most needed it. You might have noticed it up on the blog header, or not. But it made such an impact on me that I’ve been mulling it over for weeks. I’m sure it’s relevant to most of us, but it stopped me in my tracks that first day I read it.

Here’s the thing: I imagine I can control things.

It is one of my great weaknesses. I like to know what is happening, and when. Each day, I plan out everything I would like to accomplish, and make note of all the things that must be done. I like to have routines that run like clockwork. But they don’t always. Because I am human, and everybody around me is human. It wouldn’t be an issue, either, if it were not for my heart’s murmurings and discontent when things don’t go my way. I found myself in a cycle of disappointment when things went awry in our day. In my mind, I had an idea of what our perfect days would look like. When our days failed to meet my standards, I felt that somehow our “real life” was being bogged down by these monotonous interruptions.

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”

Could I really think that God Almighty, who ordered my footsteps and called me by name, was thwarted in his purpose for my life by what I considered interruptions in my messy days? Of course not! I felt (feel) quite foolish, to think how bothered I can be by the little “interruptions” to “my time”. It is not my time at all. It is God’s time.

This is the Day, which the Lord hath made.

Today is the day he has given me. This day, in this house, with these children and my man. I will do what needs to be done. When it happens that the next thing just wasn’t on my list for the day, I will remember that this is the moment that was meant to be–not that figment of my imagination and Pinterest. For this is the day. This is my real life.

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Little Minutes and Mighty Oceans

“Little drops of water, little grains of sand, make the mighty ocean and the pleasant land. Thus the little minutes, humble though they be, make the mighty ages of eternity.” ~ Julia Abigail Fletcher Carney (1845)

Every Little Minute

There are 1440 minutes in every day. Most adults hope to spend 420 or so of them sleeping, and our kids probably spend between 600 and 720 minutes asleep. Even so, we have about half of those minutes to spend with our kids. That’s a lot of minutes. Here’s the thing, not all of those minutes are good minutes. Toddlers have moodswings and tantrums. Preschoolers need (what seems like) constant attention. 5-year-olds can supply enough drama for an entire high school. And, let’s face it, sometimes our own attitudes are not what we want our kids to see and emulate. We get frustrated about so many things.

Funny thing about angst: one bad attitude begets another bad attitude. When the children are fractious, our calm is challenged and it’s easiest to join them. And everybody knows, “If Mama isn’t happy, nobody’s happy.”

Here’s my point: I think we focus on the bad minutes too much. How many minutes does the average toddler temper tantrum take? Maybe 5 if she’s really committed? Little kid drama can be ridiculous, but it takes just a few seconds of silliness to totally swing from sad/angry to happy. Are the minutes spent rereading the same book for the 25th time even bad in the slightest? A few bad minutes–when we respond with our imperfect, or when our kids exhibit their imperfect–can cast their flavor on the whole day, but I don’t think they have to.

What if we gave the good minutes as much weight as we give the bad minutes?

Wouldn’t our cups be full to running over with joy?

If we delight in every good moment the same way we wallow in every bad, will we even have time to wallow?

Probably. We’re not perfect and our children aren’t perfect either. But it seems to me a good place to begin.

I bet if we kept journals for even one day, counting up the good moments and remembering them when we’d like to wallow in the bad, our perspective of our lives as a whole would gain some depth. Maybe, just maybe, that little perspective shift is all we need to turn our “bad” days into the best days.

emeals

eMeals Review: Eating Healthy Life Hacks

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Trying eMeals for our Groceries on a Budget

The following is my own opinion of the eMeals service. I was in no way compensated by eMeals for this review.

If you think that putting a homecooked, healthy meal on the table 3 times a day, 7 days a week, is too much work and too expensive, you’re in good company. Most people do. You’ve probably heard of meal subscription services like Blue Apron
or Hellofresh. While those subscriptions do make menu-planning and cooking a breeze, boy-oh-boy do they break my budget. I had a free trial of Blue Apron for a week a while ago. The food was delicious, but there wasn’t enough of it. We rely heavily on dinner leftovers for easy, cheap lunches, and the Blue Apron meals JUST fed our family. Then there was the fact that it was only a couple of meals for $70+ dollars. In my budget-world, that is only a good price if we were going to eat those meals out anyways. And since I cook every.single.meal, even using a fancy subscription box to cook yet another meal is just not how I want to spend my splurge money. Our weekly grocery budget is only $100, so that obvously did not continue. I had to resign myself to the fact that as long as our budget remains my primary concern, Blue Apron (or any meal subscription box) is just not going to be a good deal for us.

Enter eMeals


A couple of weeks ago, I saw a recommendation for eMeals on on the Dave Ramsey facebook page. I thought it was another grocery subscription service, and I wasn’t entirely wrong. It’s a meal plan and grocery list subscription service. They have a bunch of different meal plan types, for basically every diet imaginable. Low Carb, Paleo, Low-Calorie, Budget… and more. Each week you get a new menu plan. You can look over it and select meals that you want to make, and it automatically generates your grocery list. Then, you just look over the grocery list, add any other sundries you need, and you’re in business. You can even order the groceries through something like Kroger Clicklist.
Best of all, the price is really reasonable. If you buy it in 3 month increments, it’s about $10 bucks a month. If you’re menu planning and couponing and creating your grocery list yourself based on the best sales, you know it takes a LOT of time. eMeals cuts out so many of those really lengthy steps. But, y’all know I’m all about the budget, so let’s look a little closer at these pros and cons.

Pros

1. It’s only $10 a month. If you expect your menu-planning/grocery-list-making process to take between 1-2 hours every week, you’re basically paying between $1.50 and $2.50 an hour for a service. I think my time is definitely worth more than that.
2. The food was all fantastic. Not too time-consuming, but different dishes than I usually think to make.
3. It fits our diet. We’re currently Low-Carb (the kids get their carbs earlier in the day) for our main meals, and the Low Carb menu was great.
4. I love not having to plan our menu. I always feel like we’re eating the exact same things because I know what is healthy and works in our budget, and that’s just what I tend towards. It’s so enjoyable to have different meals every night. Flexing my cooking skills is actually bringing a little bit of fun back to cooking dinner–and I’ll be honest, it was getting to be not-my-favorite chore.

Cons

1. It’s $10 a month. I would end up spending my personal money on it. There is no room in the grocery budget for $10 that isn’t devoted to food because…
2. The food is delicious but it is harder for me to get most of what we need and keep it at $100. I’ve done it for two weeks, but I don’t like how stressed it makes me. Plus, I hate the debate in the store over what is actually essential to the recipe and what I can modify. Trying to think about recipes, budgets, and the groceries I’m trying to get, while corralling three small children? Not my most rational moments. I think just getting the groceries for the 7 main meals would max out my budget if I didn’t fiddle with things and modify recipes. Unfortunately, there are 2 other meals in the day that we have to account for, as well as cleaning supplies, paper products, etc. The maths aren’t good, y’all.

My Conclusion

I really, highly recommend eMeals, especially if you’re having trouble making a menu plan and sticking to a grocery list. If you’re just starting out in budgeting and meal planning, it can really help you get going. There are lots of healthy options that really aren’t that expensive, considering average grocery budgets. It is a fantastic deal, and it makes the whole menu planning/cooking dinner situation so much easier. Try it out! You can try it free for 14 days–that’s what I just did. Pick a menu plan, try several different menu plans. See what works for you and your family.

I LOVE this service, but I’m not continuing it.

ONLY because of where we are in our budgeting situation. We need to be focusing on saving for another house. I’d be truly happy to pay for it out of my personal money if that was the end of it, but I’m not comfortable with how tight it makes our grocery budget. If I ended up having to go over regularly, it would have a negative effect on our budget and saving. I could use the budget menu plan and make it work, but our diet is important to us. I CAN make a healthy, low carb menu work in our budget the way I’ve been planning and shopping. It’s a little work, but I think it’s worth the tradeoff right now.
At some point in the future, when our grocery budget eases up a bit, eMeals will be the FIRST thing I add.

So! Check it out! I hope it helps you and your budgeting and/or meal-planning situation. It’s a fantastic service, MUCH cheaper than meal subscription services, and it takes the stress out of meal-prep. As long as you don’t have a double-whammy of budget and diet considerations, I think you will love it.

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Homeschool Planning: Creating Habits and Routines

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Today in Homeschool Planning: Creating habits and routines for a successful year.

I admit it–I’m a little obsessed with homeschool planning right now. Even so, there comes a point where you have to sit back and wait on curriculum to get in. You can only plan your weeks so far, and there is a finite amount of detail that one can pack into those week plans. Well, you could go on, but realistically it would be pointless. If you are attempting to map out every minute of your homeschool, you will be disappointed and probably discouraged. Kids wake up late, make messes, coffee spills, breakfast burns… any number of things can throw off a morning. It’s life, whether you’re homeschooling or just trying to get your kids on a bus. Not all of homeschool planning–or life planning for that matter–needs to be about planning every minute. Establishing helpful habits and routines that will help schooldays to flow smoothly? That’s a good place to start.

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“The Mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits secures for herself smooth and easy days.” ~ Charlotte Mason

Establishing habits is not easy. As Mason implies, it may even be slightly painful–but it pays off in the long run. Our morning routine has given me the most concern as I think about planning homeschool days. Mornings are our most productive, happy time for learning or doing anything but they are slow. It takes so. long. to get through all the basics that we’re next door to lunchtime before we’re ready for anything. I really need to change that if we’re going to be able to settle into a schooling routine.
The following are the main goals I’ve set for the last month before we start into a schooling routine.

1. Getting Up and Being Purposeful

As much as my kids need good habits, so do I . We’re pretty early risers right now, because my Superman has a long commute, so we’re up every day between 4:30 and 5. Even getting up that early, I have to really be purposeful to get my day off to a good start. If I’m not careful, it’s easy to just lounge the morning away until 7. Then the kids start waking up, I still want to workout, they need breakfast, etc. So, I’m making these six tasks a routine in my morning. My goal is to have them all done by 7:30. I don’t set specific time limits for things, because (cue the chorus) life happens.
1. Have breakfast with my Superman and make his lunch.
2. Read my Bible and pick a verse to focus on for the day.
3. Check my calender and make a to-do list for the day.
4. Study whatever I’m working on in website design.
5. Exercise.
6. Shower and get dressed
Getting these things done before the kids are all up, or at least early in the day (if they get up earlier than usual) makes all the difference in how energetic and productive I feel through the day.

2. Limiting morning television shows.

Klaus and Eva often get up before I’ve finished working out. When they do, I let them watch a show while I finish. Sophia tends to wake up later and want to watch a show right around the time I’m ready to turn it off. I’ve gotten into a bad habit of saying yes. Our new “habit” is that the TV turns off at 7:30, regardless of whether everybody has watched a show.

3. Kids morning routine

Since Klaus and Eva need help getting ready, I’ve been getting them ready as we go through our day. Now, I’m focusing on getting them all ready for the day right after breakfast. Since I’ve already eaten, I’ll do some quick clean up while they eat. I’m also having Sophia get dressed and make her bed while I’m making breakfast. Once they’re dressed and reasonably clean, they play and I work at my to-do list.

4. We read at 9 AM.

Unless there has been a cyclone of destruction in the kitchen or something, I’m making myself set down the to-do list around 9:00. We’ll do a version of morning time–reading, singing, and memorization– and then move on with the day.

Having our mornings flow a little more quickly is a welcome change. So far, it’s going pretty well. We’ve been trying at it since I finished up my weeks of homeschool planning in the beginning of July. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits don’t happen overnight, but I’m hopeful that we’re on the right track.

How do you prepare your kids for school? Do you do anything special to get them ready for different routines?

summer reading

Summer Reading Update: Week 6

Summer Reading Week 6 Update

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The library summer reading program has only two weeks left. Our reading habits don’t really changewhen it ends, but all the free coupons for the kids are a really fun addition to our summer. So far, I’ve accrued tickets to a kids science museum, horse park, pool, Shaker Village, and Arboretum. So yeah. It’s been fun!

I spent the last few weeks previewing the materials that we’re buying for our homeschool year. The library had many of the books I plan to use, whether for read alouds or texts, and I’m so glad! There were a few books that I’m really relieved I didn’t buy first. They were all highly recommended, but I found they introduced topics I’m not ready to engage my younglings in. On the other hand, I fell in love with a couple of other books and am so excited to use them!

Summer Reading Week 6 ~ Kids Favorites

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1. Bedtime for Frances by Russell Hoban, Illustrated by Garth Williams

The kids love the Frances books and I do too. She is such a funny, precocious little character, and her parents are just fantastic. I don’t usually find admirable traits in the parents within kids books–not because they’re bad, but just because they can be very one dimensional. I don’t consider that a bad thing, but it makes the good ones stand out. Frances’ parents are unfailingly patient with her, but through the story you see their perspective too. Anyways, that was a longish way of saying that we love the Frances series and this book was another easy favorite.

2. 5 Little Monkeys Reading In Bed by Eileen Christelow

My little monkeys never cease to be entertained by Christelow’s little monkeys. These books are a riot–rhyming, witty, and usually downright funny. This was an especially fun one to read. Books about books and reading are just a special kind of fun 🙂

3. The Biggest Story by Kevin Deyoung

The Biggeset Story is a wonderfully unique take on bible stories for children. I’m not often an advocate for paraphrased childrens bible stories–so often they remove the substance and seem very pointless. The Biggest Story is definitely paraphrased, but it is made unique and purposeful by telling a variety of the short stories from the old testament all with the goal of pointing towards Christ’s salvation of His people. It is broken into short chapters that ultimately keep returning the story to Christ. The language was a little too casual for my grammatical sense, but I liked the theme enough that I will happily overlook it. It tied together the oft-told stories of the Old Testament with the purpose that is often neglected.

Summer Reading Week 6 ~ My Favorites

I scanned through a handful of books in preview for our homeschool this year, including the first volume of The Story of the World, a children’s encyclopedia on animals, and several books about ancient Egypt and Greece. I also read Kings Cage by Victoria Ayevard, Give Your Child the World by Jamie Martin, reread Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, and finally finished Our Mothers War.

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Our Mothers War by Emily Yellin

This book was fantastic. It details the different jobs women performed during the second world war–jobs that really pushed the envelope open on what women were allowed to do. The freedom that women have today began in those days, as women stepped forward to fill in the shoes left vacant by men fighting the war. I loved that this book didn’t try to diminish what the men did at all, but just focused on the ways women fulfilled different roles than they ever had before. It’s really amazing to me how far we came in terms of equality in the 76 years since Pearl Harbor. In some ways, I think we’ve gone so far in the other direction that we’ve created a new kind of inequality, but that’s a story for another post. Long story short, this book was fantastic. Highly recommend it. (If you’re considering for a younger reader, please be warned that there is a chapter with inappropriate (sex-related) content)

Give Your Child the World by Jamie Martin

This book was so, so, so good! I’ve had a hold request on it for the last month or so and only just got it. It was worth the wait! If you ever wanted to introduce your children to the countries of the world in a more memorable way than just memorizing lists and facts, this book is an excellent resource. There is a chapter for each of the continents. Each chapter contains booklists for every age group that compile some of the best books to read about the countries within the continent. This book is a danger only to your library hold list. I am so excited to use the books to make our geography come alive, and hopefully give my kids as much of a desire to travel the world as Josh and I have!

Kings Cage by Victoria Ayevard

This is the 3rd book in the Red Queen series. For some reason I was thinking it would be a trilogy, and it is definitely not. I think it could have been though. The ending just seemed kind of out-of-the-blue and a random way to keep the series going. I have a good guess at what she’s going for in the series conclusion (whenever that might happen) and I’m just not feeling it. Also, I have a real problem with how “normal” it is to have sexually active teenagers in YA fiction these days. Yes, we need to have conversations with our kids about these subjects. No, it doesn’t have to be glorified in the fiction they’re probably reading. That is definitely not an issue unique to this series, but it needs saying. Anyways, I’m kind of ‘off’ this series now. I don’t know if I’ll be curious enough to read the next book whenever it comes out.
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Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

I reread the Harry Potter series every summer. Well, technically I relisten because the audiobooks by Jim Dale are one of my favorite things ever. Every summer. Obviously, I love it.

So, that concludes our summer reading update! How is your summer reading going?

Homeschool Planning: 5 Steps to Your First Homeschool Year

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First year of homeschool planning is happening now!

Probably for homeschoolers all over the world, but definitely here in our house. I’m surrounded by books, and at least 5 homeschool-related tabs are open in my browser–I’m so excited about this!

Who am I planning for?

Well, Sophia is reading well and ready for a (slightly) more structured day, even though she’s only five. So I’m planning for a first grade year, and also to keep my 3yo son and 1yo daughter pleasantly occupied in our learning times.
Our homeschool method looks like a heavily literature based cross between Charlotte Mason and a Classical Education.
Charlotte Mason and Classical are very similar in some ways, but they do bring different elements to the table. Charlotte Mason focuses much more on learning through experience and observation in the lower grades. A Classical Education provides a much more structured approach with specific cognitive development goals. As the child develops under the different stages of the trivium, the scope of the lessons change. My intention is to find some sort of balance between those two methods.
No matter how much you love a method, I think it’s important to keep the door open to change. The point of homeschooling (for me) is mainly to provide an education that works well with my children–capitalizing on their strengths, and helping them to overcome weaknesses. I don’t really expect that we’ll have to change our method. I picked it because it meshes well with our lifestyle and personalities. However, I will always leave the option there.

5 Steps to Planning Your Homeschool

1. Do your research on homeschool methods.

Are you a Charlotte Mason girl, Classical, Waldorf, or Eclectic? There is a great overview of the most common homeschool methods, and what they might look like in your home at www.homeschool.com There really is something for every one. There have never been more accessible, quality resources easily available for home-educating families.

2. Once you’ve settled on a style, you need to get a baseline idea of grade level knowledge goals.

Are you starting off in 1st grade? Are you jumping in at a different level? Research those grades and see what general knowledge is expected and achieved (generally) within a year. I highly recommend Home Learning Year by Year by Rebecca Rupp and the series “What Your ____ Grader Needs to Know” by E. D. Hirsch, Jr.
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OF COURSE, these are only general guidelines. Your child may be farther ahead in some areas, behind in others, and par for the course in still others. That’s the beauty of homeschool! You get to meet your child where they are; encouraging them to excel in the things they’re great at and helping them through difficult subjects. Nonetheless, the guidelines will give you a good idea of where you may need to start.

3. You know your big picture goals for the year, now for the fun part–curriculum ideas!

Check out those curriculum catalogs, find some blogging homeschool mamas and see how they’re putting it all together, make a wishlist. Go ahead and be unrealistic. Add everything that looks amazing and get excited about all the incredible things you’re going to do with your kids! We’ll pare it down in the next step.

4. Now for the budget…

Take that beautiful wishlist of yours and pare it down to what you think is achieveable for a year. Then, take that list and start doing some math. This year I made three lists–one with just the baseline Things-We-Must-Have, one with a few extra “fun” things, and one with my ultimate wishlist. Josh and I discussed the three budgets and settled on our budget for this year.

5. Technically, you could be done at this point. You have your list, you know your budget–you could just start buying books. But, I’m a budgeting-the-budget kind of girl which means I’m shopping around.

I’m checking out our local book stores, and seeing what I can get locally before I go ahead and make the big purchase. That’s just me though. I may not do it this way again–but it’s what’s happening this year. I’ll do a post in a couple weeks about what I’ve chosen and where I got it!

Hopefully this will be helpful to somebody! Are you planning your homeschool year or considering homeschooling? Let me know in the comments! I am SO excited to be planning our first year of homeschool. Also, I’m a little bit nervous-excited about actually starting, but who isn’t?! Here’s to a great year of homeschooling!

Raising Readers

raising-readers

Raising Readers

And an update on Week 4 of our summer reading program

Sometimes I think I might actually be raising readers. When I begin reading aloud, they swarm like little bumblebees, jostling for their seats. When we go to the library, the librarians know us by name. I’m even passing on my book-hoarding qualities. Yesterday at the library, Sophia had a stack of books so tall she could barely carry it. She never complained. (Though she did ask me to carry a few of the last acquisitions that she couldn’t manage).

Klaus is heavily in the favorite books stage. He picks a few that are his FAVORITES out of each library haul and requests them over… and over… and over…

These were some of his favorites this week. Do you see a theme?

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For our read aloud we’re reading The Borrowers by Mary Norton. I find it delightful, and the kids think it’s okay too. Although Sophia recently got her hands on a Great Illustrated Classics copy of Heidi, and she’s been reading that while I read The Borrowers. Not sure whether to be proud of that or not, but it is what it is!

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Even Eva gets in on the reading action these days.

It is not uncommon for her to drop a book or five down beside you and then clamber into your lap with a purposeful glint in her eyes. She sits and “reads” on her own too–picture book open on her lap, paging through it and jabbering contentedly in her singsong baby voice.

I’ve been reading too, pretty consistently. So far, I’m listening to the Harry Potter series (always). It makes it downright fun to clean the kitchen up in the evening. I catch myself dragging my feet and puttering about jobs that I would probably just skip, for “just one more chapter…” (The audio books with Jim Dale narrating are superb!) I’ve also read The Other Einstein, Their Finest, and Small Town Girl. I’m currently reading Our Mother’s War. I have a whole stack that I’m hoping (probably unrealistically) to dive into this holiday weekend.

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My Top Three

1. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict is fantastic. I highly recommend it if you enjoy historical fiction and/or learning about the things women accomplished even when recognition of their work was limited. It is heavily based in fact, but it is historical fiction. It’s all about Einstein’s first wife, Mileva Maric, who was a brilliant scientist and mathematician. I don’t know how much of the emotional drama depicted is accurate, but based on the facts of her relationship with Einstein, it seems plausible. In any case, even if the emotional drama is completely fictional, it makes a fantastic story. After I read the book I did a little research on her, just curious to see whether the facts of her life were accurately portrayed. Overwhelmingly, they were. Read it. On the other hand, if you want to keep feeling like women in the US today are really treated unfairly, this might disillusion you.

2. Their Finest by Lissa Evans was okay. I wanted to love it, but I just didn’t. I think I would have liked it better if I’d been able to read it in chunks, rather than 15 minute spurts. Partially because the storyline follows a handful of different characters, and partly because of the sporadic way I read it (thanks, kids) it just seemed very fragmented and difficult to follow. Really though, I think the best books stay with you, even if you have to read them sporadically.

3. Our Mother’s War by Emily Yellin is superb. Nonfiction and very informative regarding the roles women filled during the second world war, but it reads so easily. It’s riveting. (Oh, I’m so punny it hurts. :D) I’m reading it partly because the subject fascinates me, and partly as preliminary research for my next hopeful writing project. So, double exciting!

That’s it for this week! How is your summer reading going? Favorite book so far? Let us know in the comments!
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Into the Woods: Blogging

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A Blogging Journey, in brief

Once upon a time about 9 years ago, I started blogging. I was still in high school and it was just another way for me to delve into the writing world. Blogging stayed with me, though in sporadic and mainly personal ways, through my school years. When I married my superman, it changed names to reflect my life change. As we began growing our family and my focus grew, it changed again. I had a run at book reviewing, and really enjoyed it. Book reviews have stayed with me. Posts about my family have stayed. Occasional deeper posts about my thoughts on life and memories have remained as well. Throughout the years, I occassionally wondered how on earth people made money blogging. It would briefly ignite my interest, and then I would move on. Not the most productive way to pursue an idea!

Enter 2017. I started out in the end of last year studying my Superman’s CCNA textbook in some freetime, thinking that I could slowly work towards a certification just for kicks. As we both delved deeper into IT related fields, I took a course on HTML and CSS and discovered that I really enjoy website design. More courses followed–Codecademy and Lynda.com make it so easy to go for it. I plunged down the rabbit hole and haven’t looked back yet. As I learned more about the way the web works, SEO and analytics made more sense. When I started reading about WordPress, that little seed of curiosity about blogging began to grow again.

And here I am, in a new blog space. This blog is two things. First of all, it’s a place where I can write more daily-life than full-length-novel. I love sharing books and budgeting, and I love writing short pieces about motherhood and childhood and the crazy things kids do. Secondly it’s a platform for my website practice. It’s an easy place to experiment with what I’m learning in website design and development. I’m not sure where this endeavor will take me. Will it be a platform to market my books? A homeschooling blog venture? A book and curriculum review site?

I wish I knew, but I think it’s one of those things that is going to have to grow and develop with me. I’m not going to gain any focus just by sitting on my hands and thinking about it. I need to be working it out and doing it. So, if you’re following along, I appreciate your patience and willingness to come on this journey with me. What would you like to see more of? Book reviews, budgeting, homeschooling, life? Something that isn’t one of those things? Ultimately, I want to write pieces that are purposeful, to one end or another. Let me know what you think!