Four things I learned this year

Another school year done.  Another school year planning in the works.  It was a good year.  Really, probably the best one.  Not bad considering we had SoldierBoy returning from deployment, quickly followed by a cross-country move, quickly followed by the holidays.   Come fall, I will have an almost-10 year old and a 6 1/2 year old, plus the 4yo.  So I think that moves me into the seasoned homeschooler category.  (How did that happen?!)  So…in light of that, here are four things that really hit home for me this year.

I determine the day.  Mama being on task in the morning sets the tone for our day.  Why do I forget this so often?!  Limiting my computer time, getting my morning list done quickly.  These things help our day start on time and go well.  That isn’t to say, of course, that if I start the day well, we are guaranteed to have a good one or starting the day poorly guarantees a bad day.  But, at the very least, my frame of mind starting well helps!

Preserve the relationship and shelve it!  That math topic that reduces you and your child to tears?  Set it aside for two months.  Or three.  Really.  Time really does well.  Maybe your child just needs more time for it to click.  And maybe you need that time for the topic to not be a trigger anymore.  So many times I’ve tried to force something that my kiddo just wasn’t grasping and we’d end up in tears.  Sometimes we’d push through it and she’d never really get it but I could mark it off my to do list.  (Go ahead and roll your eyes, I am at myself!)   The times I was feeling less stubborn, we’d set it aside and pick it up again later.   And, like magic, we’d breeze through it!  Its the very rare topic that your child MUST get through RIGHT NOW.  Really.  Being able to shelve something is one of the beauties of homeschooling.  (This really goes for any subject/topic…math just seems to be the one that triggers me!)

History is amazing!  I learned history the way many of us did–world history one year, US history another and so on.  I decided to go with a cyclical study for my kiddos.  I can’t believe how much I’ve learned!  And how many things I’ve pieced together!  And realizing what was happening in one part of the world while something else was going on at the same time?  Who knew?!

Schedule your breaks!!  We started early last year (mid-July) because I knew we would take most of the fall off with SoldierBoy coming home from deployment, preparing for a move, making the actual move and then the holidays.  The early start was great.  I didn’t plan, however, any breaks in the spring.  We went from January until almost the end of May without any breaks, save the occasional Friday when SoldierBoy had a long weekend.  In mid-April, I realized my mistake.  Next year I am planning (roughly) to do a six-week on/one-week off plan.  Some on times will be shorter/longer than six weeks but it will be close.  I am also going to schedule in the occasional Friday off.

Linking up with Hip Homeschool Hop

Menu Plan Monday–Summer 3

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We survived last week!   Naps daily for the 4yo, pure exhaustion for me and, by Friday evening, a full onset of crankies by everyone.  The weekend was restful and today we all awoke ready to take on this week, a much quieter week in comparison.

Breakfasts
Cereal & fruit
Oatmeal & fruit
Toast & fruit
Smoothie popsicles

Lunches
Salad w/leftover cornbread
Homemade taquitos
Leftovers
Grilled pizza w/Boboli-crust clone

Dinners
Cookout #1 (butter burgers)
Cookout #2 (???)
Spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, bread
Kung Pao chicken, brown rice, stir-fry veggies
Rotisserie chicken from Costco (leftovers for the taquitos), salad
Chipotle chicken fajitas, skillet roasted corn, homemade tortilla chips & tomatillo salsa
Pulled pork (freezer), sweet potato & bacon hashbrowns

Homemade Snacks
I’m not making any this week!  I’m making my bi-monthly trip to Trader Joe’s and I’ll get pre-made snacks there for the week.

Check out Organizational Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday for more inspiration & to share your menus!

Menu Plan Monday–Summer 2

MPM-Spring

Last fall we moved from El Paso, Texas back to Indiana.  Watching my Facebook friends in El Paso talking about the record heat made me even more grateful for this beautiful summer we’re having!  I had forgotten that Midwestern summers can have days in the 70s!   The weather is predicting another week of 70s!  Only downfall is that they are also predicting thunderstorms…and we start (outdoor) swimming lessons this week!

In addition to swim lessons, we also have VBS each evening, two events at the library and a homeschool park day.  Plus two Father’s Day celebrations this weekend.  Timing works out that SoldierBoy won’t be home to assist with pre-VBS dinenrs and getting ready.  I’m worn out and its only Sunday night! So this week’s meals are easy, quick and/or ones I can prepare in advance.  I spent a few hours this weekend prepping produce, cooking & making snacks.

Breakfasts
Smoothie popsicles
Toast & fruit
Pancake muffins & fruit
Oatmeal muffins & fruit

Lunches (all served with a fruit/veggie tray)
Nachos/Taco salad
Popcorn chicken
PB&J
Homemade taquitos

Dinners
Italian grilled chicken, homemade pasta, sauce, 5-minute bread with dipping oil, salad
Teriyaki grilled chicken, rice, sugar snap peas, pineapple
Italian beef (freezer meal), potato wedges, fruit/veggie tray
Blackened chicken, homemade Rice-A-Roni, salad
??? (Maybe pizza?)
Brisket, cornbread, salad, green beans & homemade ice creams

Snacks
Homemade cinnamon granola bars (new recipe)
Fruit with dip
Peanut butter & chocolate chip muffins

Be sure to check out Organized Junkie’s Menu Plan Monday for more inspiration!

Weekly Plan for Kids

Our first full week off of school and the kids were asking what we were doing each day.  Over and over.  Without the structure of our usual school-year routine, they were floundering and their behavior was nuts.  I considered a structured weekly routine BUT its summer!  I don’t want to be forced into structure!!  So I gave it more thought, thinking about what they needed to know and how much/little information I wanted to give them.  And I came up with a printable for the fridge.

On it, I included:
Habit of the Week–One for them, one for me
Menu–Dinner with room for special snacks/lunches
Weekly Plan–I can write down one or two things we will do each day, even if it is just an ‘at home’ day
Miscellaneous–Things we may do if we have time, special crafts or movies, etc.

The habits I’m including will be ones that I’ve either let slip or new ones to create.  The first week I focused on a downstairs clean-up before lunch.  Last week we focused on cleaning up the upstairs after lunch and my personal habit was clearing my desk at least once.  This week we are going to concentrate on making sure spots are entirely cleaned up after meals, including folding napkin & pushing in chair, and making beds.  Both of these are habits I’ve let slip.  I will keep a list of all the habits we work on so we can continue to practice them throughout the summer.

Tomorrow will start Week 3 of this and, so far, it is going well.  The kids like that they can check what is happening.  If they have something to add to the miscellaneous section, they are allowed to ad it after checking with me.  On the Weekly Plan, I’m being careful to add only those things that I am at least 90% committed to completing.  Anything I’d like to do but don’t want to have to do is added to the Misc. box.

I may add another box or two to this plan, as the summer goes on.  For now, this is providing the kids with some information and structure.  Its forcing me to have more structure than I’d prefer while leaving room for flexibility.  Plus its eliminating the “what are we doing today?” questions!

Menu Plan Monday

MPM-Spring

Long time, no blog.  A handful of posts, if that, in the last year or so.  Gonna’ blame it on a deployment, a cross-country move right before the holidays, first real winter in more than 10 years (not to mention one of the snowiest on record), lots of travel for my husband.  And life.

But summer is here, soccer season is almost over and I’m feeling like I can finally breathe deep.

And exhale.

Breakfasts
Toast & fruit
Cereal & fruit
Oatmeal & fruit
Smoothie popsicles (a summertime favorite!)

Lunches
Leftovers, fruit/veggie tray
Sweet & Spicy Pineapple Chicken Kabobs, fruit/veggie tray
Energy bites, fruit/veggie tray
Sandwiches, fruit/veggie tray

Dinners
Leftovers/sandwiches (standard Sunday night meal when DH is gone)
Weeknight Whole-grain pancakes, fruit smoothies
Taco Skillet Pasta
Pizza Buns, Italian Salad
Chili-Lime Chicken Kabobs, salad
Italian Grilled Chicken, homemade pasta and red sauce, Italian salad, grilled garlic bread

Homemade Snacks
Peanut butter & chocolate chip muffins
Strawberry & cream scones
Blueberry ice cream

Check out orgjunkie.com for other Menu Plan Mondays!

Menu Plan Monday–Week of 1/6

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Dinners
Sunday–Chili
Monday–Roasted chicken with bacon, potatoes, red bell peppers & onions; butterhorn rolls
Tuesday–Roast with potatoes and carrots
Wednesday–Happy anniversary to us!  #14–Evening activities for the kids, so going easy with tacos.
Thursday–Pork tenderloin (not sure what recipe), homemade rice-a-roni
Friday–Chicken & sweet potatoes enchiladas (from No More Whine with Dinner)
Saturday–???

Breakfasts
Oatmeal & fruit
Toast & fruit
Apple-licious Oatmeal Bake (from No More Whine with Dinner)
Gingerbread Cake (DD’s chosen recipe to make)

Lunches
First week back to homeschooling, so we’re doing easy lunches–sandwiches & leftovers.

Snacks
Pretzels w/cheese cubes & fruit
Apples & peanut butter
Veggies & hummus
Peppermint milkshakes w/mini chocolate chips

Share your menus and get ideas at orgjunkie.com!