Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year

My family is not much into New Year resolutions, instead we tend to see something that needs doing and decide to do it- regardless of the date on the calendar.

However, a few years ago it occurred to me that I'm not normally brave enough to take a hard look and make goals for myself. Instead, I tend to push things aside and give myself the "I really should", or the "one of these days I'll..." speech. Obviously, that automatically means that nothing gets done. That year, I resolved to put time and energy into 2 friend relationships that were important to me. While both of those relationships ended being very toxic, I am still glad that I put my effort and care into them. I can never say that I didn't try.

So, without further ado, my goals:

1. Make my bed every day Even when I know that it will only get messed up in a few hours.

2. Make a dinner menu every month This goes such a long way in making my home run smoothly.

3. My speech I have a tendency to be critical. I'm a perfectionist, and I'm always working towards "the best". I think this frustrates my family when I don't focus on current accomplishments, but instead continuously look toward furthering "the best". At the very least, I need to learn to just keep my mouth shut

4. Accept the things I cannot change and probably more important to me personally is to let go. There are countless things that I cannot change, but I'm always trying to anyway. I'm always looking for that one crack that will make a difference. I always think that if things can be talked about, they can be worked out. To let go goes against my "never give up" personality, and will be very difficult for me. However, I've spent years of my life trying to fix and change and mend things that I have no control over. It's time to move on.

5. focus on my mind, body, and spirit In other words, the things I do have control over and that I can change.
Mind: same as #4, focus on recognizing what I cannot change and letting go
Body: Making time and effort to exercise, making time and effort to take a shower, get nicely dressed, hair and makeup. In other words, don't fall into "frumpy stay-at-home mom" looks!
Spirit:My spiritual journey is mine to invest in. My children's is mine to guide. I will invest the time and energy. Even when it is hard.

A New Year, a fresh start.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Venison is back on the menu- yummy!

With deer season ending on Jan 1st, we thought we were going to be going without this year. Since the deer had eaten our entire crop of Purple Hull Peas, we were determined to get back out what we had put in.

Today was the day. One of the biggest does to date with one shot! That's my man :)

No pictures, since I'm inside because my pregoo tummy isn't handling the dressing. I did clean out the little freezer so we can cure the meat in there, though :)

Sausage is one of the very few things that we still rely on the grocery store for, and we do eat a fair amount of it. Our goal is to master sausage this year (or at least be well on our way), so that's what we plan to do with the venison and pork that we will harvest in the spring.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Back to it!

Vacations, holidays, birthdays...we've had quite a bit of time off in the last 2 months. Sweet memories, good times, growing together and individually. It's time to get into the thick of things for the winter. I think we're all ready for a lot of tea sipping and fireside reading that comes with winter.

Somehow the fact that we are finishing up our Roman studies and that we will need a plan for the Middle Ages has completely escaped my pregnant brain until a couple of days ago. Looks like for the next few days I'll be putting together our Middle Ages study.

I've had a lot of struggles with history in the last years. Some parts I'm really happy with, and others I've been completely dissatisfied with. Nevertheless, we've muddled through, mostly by focusing on the parts we're dong well, and completely ignoring the parts I'm unhappy with. I wish that we had very clear goals and visions for the earlier years, but since that never happened, we got through the best we could. There's always high school, right?

For our new unit, instead of re-researching my options and spending countless hours agonizing and talking my poor husband's ear off, I skipped ahead to the decision making part, decided what my goals were, looked at what matched my goals, and bought Mystery of History Volume Two. Now all I have to do is schedule in the lit, and cross it with other sources (much of that work has been done for me by various wonderful Mamas!). I'm happy.

No other curriculum changes are planned until we need to move up again. #2 will be finishing his 8th grade math book in 2-3 months, and we'll move up to Alg from there. I will tweak the scheduling again next week hoping for maximum flow to get the most done.

Onward we go!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Science switch-up

As the mid year break approaches, one of the things that I do is re-evaluate how my goals for the year are going and if our direction is headed to where I want to end. For me, this goal and vision is one of the hardest parts of my job as a teacher. I'm not one to just pick a set of textbooks and follow that for 12 years. Learning is so much more than that! However, because that's my view and choice, I've made things harder for myself. Of course I have...I excel at choosing the hardest option!

Up until now, we've followed a fairly loosey-goosey science plan. It mostly involves lots of reading, lots of exposure, and learning to enjoy asking "why" and finding out the answer. A year and a half ago, I added in mandatory Apologia Elementary readings for the oldest two in addition to the topic that we were focusing on. I figured we were on the Apologia track, and that's where we would be headed. This year, I made a huge plan for studying physics- complete with a custom schedule of living books, spines, biographies, and a huge number of experiments. After all, this is middle school, so I wanted to ramp up quite a bit. While this went very well, and #1 and #2 were enjoying themselves and learning quite a bit, I started to question if I was on the right path. To further push me, the oldest daughter (who is very easy going, and tolerates pretty much anything) tells me that she just can't stand Apologia's "chattiness" in their texts. This is a complaint that others have made, but I honestly didn't think that it would be an issue for us.

This, of course, led to a few weeks of research figuring out my options on where I wanted to end up, and what the best way to get there is. This led to a mid-year change (something that I normally would not do at all to BJU Life Science.

We chose BJU because BJU is known for it's rigorous high school science curriculum. While we may not have future scientists, we do want to give our children every opportunity, and not give them a disadvantage by using a lighter curriculum. We chose to start now instead of waiting until high school because of the value of learning the skills needed now instead of when their workload is so much higher.

The first week was a big learning curve for all of us. The children are having to learn how to read a textbook and be able to pick out important information, how to study, how to outline, how to read a test carefully and answer the questions. I'm having to ramp up my lecturing in a subject that I haven't had to in the past, which also leads to restructuring our day. My goal is that they learn these skills needed for the rest of their science careers, not necessarily that they ace Life Science in 7th grade. They both badly failed the first test, which I thought was really good for all of us. It gave them a good wake up call that this really was going to be as tough as I said it would be.

Like many other choices that we have made in the past, I feel that choosing the harder road now will pay off in the future.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Vision

"Without a vision, the people will fail".

I have found this to be so very true in my own life. In the areas where I have a "vision" or very clear and specific goals in mind are the areas that I do extremely well in. To say that I am a goal oriented person is putting it mildly. If I have a goal, come hail or high water, I'm going to meet that goal. Failure is not an option. Quitting is unthinkable. The only time I give up is when I have absolutely exhausted every option given to me. I'd much rather fail than quit. I'm pretty stubborn that way.

On the other hand, I can look around my life and see the areas that I am just floating along...or worse, struggling with. Those are the areas that I have no goals, no vision. No idea where I'm headed. Maybe a vague thought of a plan: "one day, I'd like to...", or "maybe I should think about trying ______". No way are those plans going to go anywhere, I guarantee. I just can't dig in and apply my heart to things that must not matter very much, or else I'd have a clear plan.

This summer, I had the goal of having my garden produce. Regardless of the worst drought in TX history, I was going to produce. I'm probably one of the only people in my county who was crazy (dumb?) enough to go through with it. And I did it. I had my garden. Even now, I have fresh tomatoes to eat.

While this vision business applies very much to my personal life, it is probably most evident when I wear my Homeschool Mom hat. When I have clear and defined goals and vision for what I want, and exactly where I'm going, I get there. When you know where you are going, the simple thing is to find the curriculum that gets you there. If it doesn't exist, I just make my own. The subjects that are clear to me are the ones with which we excel. The ones that I just can't see where I'm going are the few that we flounder on.

That's what I'm tackling and refining this week. After a nice vacation and break, I can see some things clearer, and am able to take a step back and re-evaluate for the coming rest of the year.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Vacation, part 3

Friday we planned to visit the "quaint shops" on the Strand and do some seashell hunting in a place that we had found. However, the shopping venues didn't excite us (we didn't see much, if any "quaint shops", so we gathered our shells fairly quickly (it was coooold!), and headed home. We were just outside of Houston when the Mr. decided we should visit NASA while we were there. This was totally unplanned, and neither of us had any real idea where to go, or what we would do when we got there, but away we went. We found where we were going, and had lunch first. We stayed until they closed at 5. Our only regret was that we wished we had arrived even earlier. We listened to a presentation from an astronaut, and took the tram tour, which included seeing parts of the Johnson Space Center and one of the control rooms, along with one of the Saturn V rockets. Of course, we also did as many of the other exhibits as time allowed as well. We learned a lot, and we all had a lot of fun.

Vacation, part 2

The next day we went to Moody Gardens. We had passes to see all three pyramids, go to the 3D movie, and have a paddle boat ride around the bay. We arrived when the doors opened, and left when they closed. It was a very full day, and we enjoyed every minute of it!

Here is our paddle boat, "The Colonel". It is a replica of the boats from the 1800s, and The Colonel is an honorary member of the Texas Coast Guard. On the boat, we learned quite a bit about Galveston history and the history of the Moody family.

We had a great time!

We ended the day eating Cajun seafood at Bueno's on the Beach- a very yummy informal place that we loved.


Last week, we headed down the shore to Galveston for 3 days. It was the first vacation we've taken in 5 years, and to say that we were all excited was an understatement!

We knew it would be pretty cold with the exception of out arrival day (which was still only the upper 70s), so we chose that first day to head to the beach. Galveston's beach isn't spectacular by any means. You won't find any white fluffy sand, as the tide keeps the sand wet all the way up to the seawall. However, none of us cared! The children had never seen the ocean, or played in the sand. Within about a minute of hitting the beach, they stripped their shoes off and started running.

The baby wasn't at all sure about this sand and water thing.

One jumped right in to play in the sand with the "plow" that he had made and brought with him.

It didn't take long until the first one sat in the water.

More followed shortly.

They slowly got braver and braver.

Even the baby finally stood in the water and accepted that his beloved toes were not going anywhere even though he couldn't see them.

The baby and I went back to the hotel room to rest while the olders and the Mr. swam for the next couple of hours. The did venture way out to ride the waves, and they tried to make sand castles (but the sand was too wet). They came back dripping and freezing cold. We decided to take a swim in the heated pool for a bit.

After that, we rested and lounged around the hotel, drove around the island for a bit exploring, and headed to The Fisherman's Wharf for the best seafood I think I've ever had.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Ikea and Rodeos

Last week was a flurry of activity. First we had the field day, then several family members came down with the Change of Season Cold, then we took a day to go to Dallas to install a new server for the biz. The whole family decided to make a day of it in the big city. We left much later than I would have liked (at 10), but we arrived right at a good time to eat at our favorite Turkish restaurant as their lunch rush was at a close.

From there, we went to the server facility. Instead of dropping off D as I sometimes do, I opted instead to stay. The 5 children and I took over the lobby for almost 2 hours (a bit longer than the estimated time). We played Euchre and got almost through a game of Stone Age.

Then, for the reason I came alone- IKEA! My first trip to an IKEA. Wow. I found it to be a little intimidating at first, but once we understood the concept, we jumped right into the showroom and had a great time. The Mister is redoing my craft room for my birthday, so I wanted some desk components, and organizational items. We did come home with the desk cabinets, but the organizational things I had on my list. I think they were in an area of the market place that we must have skipped over, but we were all too tired to go looking for more stuff.

Saturday brought the small town Rodeo and the "Farmer's Market" (I use that term very loosely here). For something that I spent the better part of a month preparing for, it didn't amount to hardly anything at all. Not worth it. I think I'm just going to go ahead and set up an online store.

Sunday brought beautiful weather and gardening and outdoor projects all day. That's my kind of day, for sure! We're still on burn ban, so there is a lot of trees and debris, both from our work as well as from all of the dead trees that have already fallen. We look forward to being able to clean all of that up soon. We were able to get other stuff tidied up, and we marvelled that there were weeds growing in the cactus garden. Weeds need rain to grow, and we just haven't seen hardly any weeds all year!

Monday, November 7, 2011

First Annual Field Day

Last Tuesday (Nov 1st), in honor of our two year anniversary of moving into our house, we had our first annual field day. We would have done it last year, but we had a baby instead ;)

The oldest 4 participated, and we all had a blast! The Mister and I planned the event not really sure exactly how hard to make some of our events, and not sure how well the 4 (ages 12-6) could compete with each other. The events turned out really well, and we were pleasantly surprised to see how well the youngest could keep up! Some of our events need to be harder for next year, and the children are already practising to compete better!

First up was the leaf identification contest. Each child was to go in the woods and bring back 4 specific varieties of shrub/tree. Clearly this was too easy! All four of them reappeared within a few minutes!

Then the knot untying contest. #1 won, with #4 coming in a very close second.

Next was the balancing competition.

This was one that needed to be much harder for next year. #3 was smart enough not to goof off, so she handily won.

Next was a race across the property, they had to race and also find an object that they couldn't see from the starting line. #4 got a 5 second head start, with #3 about 3 seconds after that. #1 barely pulled out the victory. It might have had a different outcome if they had known where they were going!

Next up was the slingshot. #1 won that one, with #4 coming in very close.

We were a little worried this one may hurt herself:

But she did just fine!

We also had ball bouncing, long jump and triple jump. #4, #2 and #1 respectively won those events.

The finale was the .22 shoot. 5 balloons were tied to the fence and each child had 5 shots to pop them.

#4 went first. It was his very first time to shoot the youth .22 riffle.

He popped two, and was tickled pink about it!

Next to give a try was #3.

She was very frustrated. She's too girlie for such things.

While everyone did very well, it came down to #1 and #2.

We had to have a tie breaker.

By the skin of his teeth, and much to his relief, the well earned win went to #2!