Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesday Minutes

Outside my window:
:: Still winter, but did you know that I saw and heard BIRDS?! I heard the distant call of what I call the "cemetery bird" because it was a popular bird in the cemetery where my sister is buried. Many years of helping to tend her gravesite while growing up and hearing that bird call - if only I could figure out what bird it is.

When the birds start returning, we know spring is around the corner.

I am thankful:
:: Fr. PhD, Greg, and I figured out how to make it so everyone who is able to receive Holy Communion can, given that we're mostly on house arrest due to Moose's leg. Father also gave us a dispensation so we can miss Mass as needed to deal with Moose's leg and the cold (as both Greg and Peanut have lung issues that make extreme cold really bad on them both). We already knew we could miss Mass to tend to the sick and injured as well as avoid future injuries; but it's always good to have it "official".

So while TV Mass will have to do for me for the near future, at least I can still receive the Holy Eucharist. I need all the help I can get!

I am thinking:
:: I am so overly frustrated. We are pretty much reaching the upper limits in terms of care that we can find locally for our ASD kiddo. If I had it my way, I'd move but alas, it's not that simple. The lack of professionalism that I've had to deal with is astonishing (with insurance, a few clinicians, etc). I'm just at the end of my rope in terms of "well, we don't provide that" or just not having my calls/referrals/etc answered. I'm not asking for miracles, I'm just asking for things like Applied Behavior Analysis and the like. Good grief.

I am working on:
:: activities for Moose. I was entirely right about extreme cabin fever, and one can only watch so much Netflix before you can start smelling the brain-melt. Legos are working well (until they fall on the floor and then become unreachable), mixed bag on drawing/coloring, reading is a hit, read-alouds are better, new movies from the library, play-doh as well.
Greg's sister gave us this book for Christmas so I'll be checking that out as well to find things to help him pass the time.

I am praying:
:: Moose's leg!
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fifth baby
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fourth baby
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:


and the companion planner/journal
Peanut insists that I read this aloud to her. Obviously I heavily edit it as I am reading it, but I'm curious about why she wants me to read it to her so badly.
One of my favorite things:
:: Dr. Pepper. :-9

This week's plans:
:: Science School
:: Book sale (bags of books for $2, why yes please!)

Monday, January 16, 2017

Getting Organized with the Happy Planner

Last week I alluded to using my planners successfully in order to get my life back on track in terms of homeschooling, homemaking, and keeping track of all the other things floating around in my life. Here's a look at how I set up my planners for success.

My homemaking planner is the planner that was in the $25 kit that was (is?) available at Costco. I already had a planner, but I wanted to turn that one into a homeschool planner and still have a homemaking planner. The kit comes with a bunch of fun things like pens, washi tape, stickers, and more; so it's a really great deal if you can pick it up.

This particular planner has "Morning, Afternoon, Evening" labeled on the page, which makes it good for me for managing the house. This helps me figure out where chores fit in the day, appointments, etc. The other planner that I have (also a Happy Planner) doesn't have these labeled, so it lends itself nicely for homeschooling.

Both planners have monthly spreads, which I use to track appointments, the liturgical year, birthdays, etc. At the beginning of each week I transfer events from the monthly spread to the weekly spread.

This is last week's spread:
The blue thing is a dashboard, which I purchased off of Amazon for my older planner. I purchased a pack of three, so I have one in each planner with an extra if needed. The holy card is a spiritual adoption card which I received from Lena, and it reminds me to pray regularly. Behind that is my print out of the 2017 reading challenge I'm working on (I'll list the books I'm reading or will read in another post), a Year in Pixels mood tracker, and a Yearly Habits Tracker.

In the notes column, I've been making a color code system - chores and to-do are noted and colored. The chores repeat from week to week so I'm starting to fall into a rhythm for cleaning. The Volume 1 and 2 refer to Charlotte Mason's six volume set. There are two groups on Facebook doing read-throughs of the volumes that I'm {trying to} follow. Even if I can't stay caught up in the readings I still follow along with the discussions.

I also am keeping track of Moose's pain levels and medications, his doctor's appointments, the liturgical year, when library books are due, packages that should be arriving, book sales, speech and OT homework, and anything else that pops into my head.

Mood tracker. So far, 2017 is doing pretty well. 

The habit I'm working on is trying to get up early (except for special circumstances, such as if Nugget is teething all night and I needed to sleep in because I stayed up with him until 3am). The X's indicate success, you can see I've hit a pretty good streak. And since I'm tracking my overall moods as well, I can see how waking up early is impacting my moods. It's pretty fascinating.

(Both inserts I found in a planner freebie Facebook group, by the way.)

The rest of last week. All the stuff pixelated is stuff related to doctor's appointments, insurance, notes to self, etc. I take notes on phone calls that come in, as well as the ones I make so I can keep track of details and have some sort of a record for calls. I have the weather in the bottom row and a couple stickers for funsies. 

Onward to the homeschool planner! It's just like the planner above with some minor differences, so no pictures (unless someone wants a look inside).

It's not as decorated as my homemaking planner, but it's worked out great. Like I said earlier, this planner isn't marked "Morning/Afternoon/Evening" so I have Peanut's work accomplished (and hours worked) in the top row, Moose's work accomplished in the middle, and the bottom is where I track the cumulative amount of hours worked, scores on quizzes/tests, and so on. I use the weekend to mark reminders such as "print next week's handwriting sheets" or "write math exam for Chapter 4".

When I have more than 3 kids being homeschooled I will have to change this around but for now, it works wonderfully.

I purchase my stickers from Hobby Lobby (check out their clearance section - there's always good stickers in it, at least at my HobLob) and Staples. The Staples ARC planner system works with the Happy Planner. Some of the Staples stickers are a little too utilitarian, but there are some fun ones as well. I have this set (which I use on the monthly spread) and this set. The plastic backs they're sitting on can be used as dashboards as well! 

HobLob seems to have their stickers on sale about every couple of weeks, or just use the 40% coupon on their website to get some great deals. 

The bottom line to keep things running smoothly is record everything. It all goes into one of the planners as I simply can't be trusted to remember anything these days. There's simply way too many moving parts and it's just easier for my mind to dump it all out in ink on a pretty planner page. 

I'm thrilled with the success that I've had with this system, and continue to tweak it slightly as I go along. I would like to get some newer pens and maybe some Catholic stickers (I'll have to purchase those online). But for now, everything's coming together. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Minutes

Outside my window:
:: Right now it's well, almost 10:30 at night. Greg is downstairs with Moose and everyone is sacked out. Which means I get glorious uninterrupted night owl introvert time! I can't possibly explain how excited I am by this. At any rate, we had plenty of snow today and Mr. Weatherman promises even MORE snow this week and cold, cold temperatures (back below zero again).

I did happen to see some amazing dogs going on a walk today in front of the house. Two magnificent German shepherds and two boisterous Corgis. I don't usually see Corgis around here so it was definitely something fun to watch.

I am thankful:
:: Moose's leg is doing well. He had x-rays last week (and will need more x-rays each week for a while) and all is well with his bones. The concern is the eventual overgrowth, if the bones aren't aligned just right he'll end up with a leg longer than the other one. :-/

I am thinking:
:: I had several epiphanies over our Advent/Christmas break - lots of things to share. I think I have about 6 or 7 posts in drafts to polish up and eventually post.

I am working on:
:: Well, the posts sitting in drafts, for starters. Posts talking about scheduling the day, organizing the house, using my planners to their fullest, and so on. Everything basically rebooted after Moose broke his leg. Necessity is the mother of invention, and let me tell you, plenty of inventing going on given that Moose is essentially in a wheelchair until March. (I suspect I will be entirely ripped by March, given there are situations where I need to carry Moose - such as going up and down the stairs - and he is not a small kid at all.)

I am praying:
:: Moose's leg!
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fifth baby
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fourth baby
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:

Around the house:
:: Dare I say that - gasp! - everything is running splendidly around here? I'm dumbfounded because even life's curveballs aren't knocking me off course. Dinner is getting made, laundry is getting done, the kids are actually doing chores! Even Little Miss Sunshine and Wok - they've been known to unload the dishwasher, put away allll the cloth diapers after they've been cleaned, etc. Even Moose tries to keep his Legos under control and not scattered all over whatever surface he's parked at.

Clicking around on the web:
:: How to Teach Handwriting to Kids - YES. Wok has been enjoying learning to write and she's slowly getting Little Miss Sunshine interested in it as well. At least now I know what I can be doing with LMS when she too insists on "school".

One of my favorite things:
::  I have the most amazing Spotify playlist made full of 90's music. I suppose this means I have really bad taste in music, but I've been enjoying (probably too much) alllll the music from my teenage years. Does that make me an adult? Or just old? NOW I understand why my mom was hellbent on listening to the 60's channel on the radio in the car when I was a teen - we would get into it constantly over what station to listen to. I TOTALLY GET YOU NOW, MOM.

This week's plans:
:: Science School

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Over my Advent and Christmas break...

Moose broke his leg. 
And by "broke his leg" I mean "broke off the top of his tibia as well as his fibula" in a sledding accident. He's still couch-bound but is finally over the initial extremely painful period. But he still has a long road ahead of him, as he will be unable to put weight on it for a couple of months while it heals up.


Our plumbing had major issues.
We had a frozen drain pipe, ice-capped vent pipes and a clog of cheese to deal with. Cheese is officially verboten in this house, as once you've fished out cheese three weeks old, any cheesy appetite is G-O-N-E for the foreseeable future.

We did get it fixed without needing to call a plumber. Whew!


We read some really great books.
During our break, we read (or listened to):
  • Understood Betsy
  • The Storybook of Science
  • Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers
  • Swiss Family Robinson (in progress)
  • Lord of the World (in progress for me only)
  • The Secret Garden (in progress)
TV watching was at an all-time low and everyone was much more ... grounded, for lack of a better word.

Greg and I got engrossed with season 2 of "The Man in the High Castle." 
Love love love it. So many great themes and discussions were spawned out of that season between Greg and I. Bring on season 3!



The kids helped me research my family tree
I found an uncle that no one knew about (he had a tragic death as a child) and discovered that a lot of my family comes from Alabama. I also figured out some things, like the names of my great-great grandparents. Fascinating. 

Peanut was accepted into Science School at the local museum.
Through some miracle a spot opened up that was her grade and she was at the top of the list. She will be learning about Geology and Physics until June. Science School is a homeschoolers only "school" that meets once a week at the local museum and learns about science, and does some pretty awesome labs. There's always a waitlist for it. Peanut had been on it for about six months. It should serve our science-loving extrovert well. :P

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's Advent (and Christmas!) Break

In the last week we've had the following:
  • random puking
  • the vent pipes on our kitchen plumbing freeze
  • we only found that out after we sent 50 feet of plumbing snake through pretty much all the plumbing in the house (including toilets)
  • washed our dishes in our bathtub which took multiple days as we kept running out of hot water (and clothes, kids, and diapers all still needed to be washed)
  • but we still have to shopvac our sink out when we run the dishwasher until we get the pipes unfroze
  • two kids have headcolds which I'm sure will mosey on over to the rest of us
  • occupational therapy stuff  
  • nap strikes
  • bedtime strikes
  • lots and lots and lots of snow and temperatures well below zero = cabin fever because I'm mean and won't let them spend hours in temperatures well below zero with wind chill
SO. Greg and I decided to end all formal sit-down-and-work schooling and replaced it with an Advent/Christmas bonanza instead. Lots of good read-alouds, lots of practical work, and just some time to relax and recover.

I'm putting this blog on Advent/Christmas break as well. I'll be back here after the new year. Have a safe and blessed Advent/Christmas season/New Year!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday Minutes

Outside my window:
::
I had every intention of blogging when I took this picture this morning. Best laid plans, right?

I am thankful:
:: for a lot of things, one of which being our heater for the house. We're being hit with an arctic blast, and the windchill in some areas is -30F.

I am thinking:
:: the ancestry DNA results came back and it wasn't TOO surprising, except for the percentages. It's fun to see where I came from and thus what exactly the kids are.

I am working on:
:: tackling the laundry. Our missing mate sock pile is gigantic, and I swear I lose socks every time I do a load. I found a couple socks in the kids' bedrooms but come on, where are the rest??

I am praying:
:: for my Mom and Dad
:: for a happy and healthy pregnancy of a friend's fifth baby
:: special intention for Greg
:: for all priests
:: for the souls in Purgatory
:: for my standard litany of regular intentions - conversion of life, several special intentions, etc

I am reading:
::

Around the house:
:: Greg is waiting on a break in the weather in order to install a gas water heater that will be way more efficient for our family. Once again, my laundry room is a construction zone. :P

Clicking around on the web:
:: Sensus Traditionis - amazing homilies and talks.
:: 15 Fun Facts from Archbishop Fulton Sheen's FBI File - in case you wanted to know some pretty awesome trivia

Living the Liturgical Year
:: Tomorrow is the feast of St. Nicholas, Thursday is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin, and Friday is the anniversary of the death of Venerable Fulton J. Sheen.

One of my favorite things:
:: Nugget's many, many smiles. He is such a smiley little guy.

This week's plans:
:: dental appointment
:: OT appointment
:: Immaculate Conception Mass
:: Sacrament of Penance

Friday, December 2, 2016

Weekly Wrap-up, Week 12

Peanut
We are continuing on with good momentum. Peanut is doing exceptionally well, cruising through everything nicely and is reaching the end of the third grade phonics book. She wants to do the fourth grade book, but only because "it has fun pictures". Her reading is strong so I'm not really inclined to purchase another level of phonics when she pretty much has everything down.

Phonetic Zoo continues to be a hit, and she is improving with each test she takes. Her confidence in spelling is improving and she is much less resistant to spelling other words, such as when she's writing a story. Spelling isn't a dreaded torture chamber anymore, hooray!

Other subjects like Latin are coming along nicely - she received a perfect score on her Latin test today, which covered five chapters.

Moose
We switched from Math Mammoth to Singapore Math for Moose, and it's like night and day for him. He really appreciates the bright pictures in the Singapore text and the workbook is easy for him (although sometimes I need to do writing). He begins structured OT just for the sake of writing next week. I asked his OT about cursive vs. print first; and both have their pros and cons, of course. We both agree though that cursive first may be easier on Moose, so that's what we're starting with. I'm excited to see how he does.

He is about halfway through his phonics workbook and also wants to continue on to the next level. That I will purchase because it's helping him so much and he loves it.

Wok
She is still enjoying her preschool. She has mentioned frustration with being unable to read but doesn't seem to be too overly interested in learning how to read. She and Little Miss Sunshine are in the "super helper" phase which is FABULOUS, I can breathe a little bit.

LMS... is in the crazy two-year old stage. So far she's unrolled multiple (Costco!) sized rolls of toilet paper into the toilet, tried to manhandle the dog, etc etc. She definitely is in a contained area when school is in session (either next to me or napping). I noticed her stacking the glassware {which the Olders had lovingly left behind after lunch} so I found the wooden blocks for her to make her engineering marvels with instead.

Nugget
Earlier this week I mentioned some sort of ridge on Nugget's forehead. Turns out it's a metopic ridge that will need some "watching". Most kids who have them grow into them, so we're hoping he's one of them. He's progressing perfectly in his development, he's about 8 pounds lighter than LMS (and almost as tall as her), and is *so close* to rolling from back to front. It's not easy moving that much weight around! He babbles and coos all the time and is extremely mellow (just like when he was in utero). He's delicious.

* * *
The checklists are saving my bacon in school and I have one for household chores in my planner. I love my planner and I am loving the checklists, and I love that I can combine both into one handy book.

Happy weekend, friends!