Thursday, March 10, 2011

Long Time, No See!

So it's been a while since my last post.  Ok, maybe a "while" isn't exactly the best way to describe my absence.  But if you know me at all, you know that my blogging is sporatic at best.  I envy those who are able to blog every day or week like clockwork.  My schedule just doesn't allow me to be a routine blogger, as much as I'd like to be.  Maybe one day I'll get with the program and make myself find the time.  Until then.......

I've had a lot going on in the last 5 months!  I started babysitting a little boy, 2 years old.  He's been a funny little addition to our already wacky homeschool!  It was a challenge at first to figure out how to work our schedule, but I really think it's working out well.  I like having a little extra money at the end of the week.  I'm losing weight still, and I like to have clothes that fit!  : D

Also....we converted our shop into a school room!  The hubs and I spent many hours sweeping, building, scouring, scrubbing, rearranging, moving, unpacking, climbing ladders, and decorating.  But I think our work paid off!  It looks really, really good!  I'm proud of our work! 

This is my faux wall!  The hubs built the bookcases, and attached foam insulation boards to make walls/bulletin boards.

Another faux wall.  This is our Reading Center/Play area.  There is a tall bookshelf on the left wall that holds all their books.  We also have a sofa, perfect for naptime!  :D  Behind the walls/bulletin boards, is our fitness room.  We keep it separated from the young-uns.  You can also see my horrible garage door covering.  It looks like something straight out of the 80's, but I couldn't figure out a way to cover it so the little ones wouldn't scratch themselves on the metal bars. Any suggestions are appreciated!!

Another view.  From here, you can see the kids work area and my desk.  The little shelf in front of my desk holds plastic bins where I store their work after it's graded.  That's why it's looking a little full over there!  :D

A good view of my shelves and bulletin board.  I've got the shelves divided into centers.  There's math, science, and art, as well as cubby space for their books and supplies. 
The only downside to our school room being out there is that there is no water. bathroom!  We have to go inside everytime someone has to take a bathroom break.  That's been the only challenge, and it's actually starting to work itself out by way of simple scheduling maneuvers, so it's not that big of a deal. 

I like being outside of the house for the majority of our day.  No kids in my kitchen smearing strawberry jam all over my freshly mopped kids in their rooms changing clothes 25 times a day - adding to the size of  "Clothing Mountain" growing in my laundry room.  It's nice to walk into a clean house at the end of our school day.  And since I've been utilizing the crockpot even more, I also find it nice to come home to dinner waiting for us! 

As far as school is concerned, the kids have been more engaged because I'm back to a more scheduled day.  They have my undivided attention - I'm not constantly sidetracked with various chores that I try to sneak in while they're finishing up their spelling words, etc. (So they were the ones that ended up waiting on ME). 

I also started using a new computer program to help me start tracking our lessons, assignments, chores, grades, etc.  It's called Homeschool Tracker Plus.  I actually bought it last year, and gave up on trying to figure it out.  I was so upset because here I am looking at a 4 year college degree hanging on my wall and I couldn't for the life of me figure this program out!  The tutorial thing was of no use. I had just chalked it up to a wasted $50 and a lesson learned....until I found a friend in our homeschool group that was using it successfully and LOVING it. 

I asked her if she'd come over and help me with it and she did.   She said she also had trouble figuring it out, but she called and spoke with a customer service representative several times and they helped her figure it out and make it work for her.  She came over and showed me the ropes, and I have to say...this thing is AMAZING!!  I'm totally in love with this program!  It does everything!  I enter in their lesson plans, and then I am able to print out assignment lists for the kids.  Not only can I track their attendance, finished assignments, and grades, but I can also print out transcripts, report cards, a list of all the books they've read (taken from my lesson plans), and even daily supply lists!  I'm super excited about this program (can you tell?!)!!  And I'm not even a paid spokesperson!

Before I started this program, I was kind of floating through my day (focusing most of it on 5th grade lessons, and shamefully sacrificing some of Lindsay's Kindergarten lessons when we were running short of time).  Now, I'm able to print out the 5th grade assignments, the order in which they are to be completed, and spend the rest of my time actually teaching those lessons!  I've found that I now have so much more time to spend with Lindsay's Kindergarten lessons, and I am much less stressed!

Yesterday, she and I spent some time with our math manipulatives (I call them Linky Dinkies for some reason, but I'm sure there's a more appropriate name for them).  

She loves these things and usually spends her extra time just playing with them as long colorful chains.  But I love them for teaching addition and subtraction.  If you have a young-un and you're teaching should really consider adding something like this to your arsenal of sneaky learning "toys".  They are super cheap, super versatile and lots of fun for Lindsay (again, not getting paid for these rave reviews....weird, I know).   

So that's about it....I'm starting to look more like myself instead of the decapitated poultry I was starting to resemble, and that's a good thing!!  :D  Hope everyone has a great weekend!!  :D 

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