Friday, September 30, 2011

photo organization challenge

A month ago I announced on this blog that I was going to devote two hours a month to organizing my photos. As of 11:30 p.m. September 30th, I kept my promise! Nothing like waiting to the last minute. ; )

Granted, I hardly made a dent in what needs to be done, but it was a start. It will be a long time before I start getting the pictures in albums. You would not believe the mess I have. Nothing is in any semblance of order. The box I went through tonight had mostly pictures from Ryne's first year, and I spent all my time trying to group the pictures by event and put them in chronological order. I'm surprised at how much I've already forgotten! All the more reason to keep my promise for the upcoming months -- my memory is not going to get better.

Since I'm going to be updating my progress every month, I thought I'd liven up the post a bit by posting a few favorite pictures I came across tonight. And since I'm totally loving this season, I narrowed it down to some of my favorite old fall photos.

Anna -- 21 months

These playing-in-the-leave-shots were taken in the front yard of our previous house, what we call the green house. I think I'm glad we moved just because of that -- can you imagine my blog being called "Green House Academy"? Anyway, it was an old urban neighborhood with tree-lined streets. We had maybe three trees in our yard, and yet we would end up with at about 25 bags of leaves to be carried away. Now that we live next to a forest, guess how many bags we fill. None! The wind just carries everything into the woods. I have no idea why I'm telling you this. Maybe because it's almost midnight and I've been up since 4:30 a.m. for Anna's swim practice. Forgive me.

One of my most favorite pictures ever - Ryne - 2 months

It is a rare occasion when I make it into a photo, but one day we went with our playgroup to a pumpkin patch and I had a friend try to take a picture of me with the kids. It didn't go so well, but I still love this picture.


This next photo is actually from a different year, but was in the box I sorted tonight. What a brilliant idea -- we should bring a baby backpack to carry our picked pumpkins every year! Do they still make those?


Something really annoying about that year was that the auto-date-thingy got messed up and I kept forgetting to turn it off. So for the entire year of 2000 (I think) the photos had some random date on them.

Speaking of random, it's clearly time for me to go to bed. ; ) If my challenge inspired you to do any organizing of your own in September, leave a comment and tell me what treasures you found. Or maybe you can share them in a post too!

Happy Organizing!

Monday, September 26, 2011

1000 Gifts


98. My favorite season.

Trees starting to turn color.

Sweeps of goldenrod and sunflowers lining the highways.

Brisk temperatures.

99. Traditions.

Celebrating my birthday by watching The Sound of Music.

All five of us singing along.

Laughing at the cheesy parts.

Declaring, "Oh, how clumsy of me - I meant to accuse you," one of the best movie lines ever.

100. Finished projects. And the promise of unfinished ones . . .

101. Christian friends God has provided my husband through work.

102. The opportunity to share an incredible evening with one of those friends and his wife.

Delicious dinner at a restaurant usually reserved for business meetings -- much better with your wives, yes?

Opening night at the symphony.

In a new performance center.


103. Grace dropping over 22 seconds on her 50 freestyle, and just how stinking cute she is while doing it. : )

104. My kids' rapt attention for a speaker at church.

105. God reviving me through a Bible passage at just the perfect time.

Friday, September 23, 2011

And many more...


White roses, my favorite flower. Marc gave them to me a week ago yesterday, and they look so lovely especially now that they are all open. Hmmm... now why would he have given me roses? It couldn't possibly be because I had a birthday. THAT birthday.


Yes, I turned 40 without so much as a peep out of me here at the blog. I've made kind of a big to-do out of my birthday the last couple of years, with a dorky things-you-didn't-know-about-me list and a give-away. So, was I too embarrassed about turning 40 to announce the momentous occasion?


No, it wasn't embarrassment. I was just too busy. Granted, this busyness was mostly my own doing. If I were going to make another things-about-me list I might include the following:

1. I have an addiction.

2. This addiction rears its ugly head when I'm scheduled to entertain.

3. About two weeks before the event, I succumb to temptation and find myself in Sherwin Williams, convincing myself I can finish this paint project and still have time to do all the other preparations, plus my regular housekeeping and homeschooling responsibilities.

4. Marc just shakes his head, knowing that he's going to eat too much fast food and his wife is going to have a meltdown two days before the event.

5. He loves me anyway. And even brings me roses.


I belong to our neighborhood Bunco group, even though I haven't attended in over a year. Our Wednesday nights were just too packed with ballet, swim, and Catechism class at church. But every member gets to host Bunco once every two years, and this month I was scheduled to host. So a couple of weeks ago, just as I was starting to recover from the Texas trip and settle into our fall schedule, I felt the paint brush calling again. I finally finished painting the kitchen walls from last year's pre-Thanksgiving paint marathon. I painted two book cases and a small hutch. I bought a round table at a garage sale and painted that. And I started to paint the dining room, but didn't get that done. Funny how Marc scheduled a business trip so he would leave two days before my Bunco party and get back the night after -- smart man! Although I was still setting up food as the guests arrived, the night turned out fine and we all had a wonderful time. And I got three Buncos for the night! If you're not familiar with the game, that means I did well. : )


So if you were to ask what it feels like to be 40, I'm not sure I can really answer. I think I added at least 5 years to my life in the last week, so I never really knew what 40 felt like. But I'll tell you, 45 feels just the same as 39 did. ; )

What it comes down to is that I'm grateful for every day that God gives me and for His many blessings (a patient, loving husband, for example) no matter how old I get. Life can be crazy, especially when I make it so; but God is good. Lord willing, I will have many more days on this earth. Many more opportunities to drive my husband crazy. Many more days to smell the roses. Many more days to experience His grace. Many more days to sing His praise.

Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens,

your faithfulness to the skies.

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,

your justice like the great deep.

O Lord, you preserve both man and beast,

How priceless is your unfailing love!

Both high and low among men

find refuge in the shadow of your wings.

They feast on the abundance of your house;

you give them drink from your river of delights.

For with you is the fountain of life;

in your light we see light.

Psalm 36: 5-9

Friday, September 9, 2011

Week 3 in Review

This was our first week of adding everything back into our schedule. Well, almost everything. Since it was a four-day week, we stayed with a normal weekday schedule instead of art and nature study on Friday. Plus, I forgot about typing and deliberately chose to skip piano most days. I had a mild cold all week. Not a big deal, but just enough for me to be off my A-game. I'm not really sure I have an A-game, but if I do, I certainly didn't show it this week. Tuesday afternoon, it was all I could do to keep from falling asleep while I read aloud to the kids. And Thursday night while preparing dinner I burned the bacon beyond recognition. Twice. And since this was our favorite expensive bacon from Whole Foods, that made our simple skillet meal more expensive than if we had gone out to eat.

Back to homeschooling. It was exhausting, but it was a good week. My biggest accomplishment was actually starting IEW's Ancient History Writing Lessons. IEW has intimidated me for so long, that it was a victory just getting the first lesson behind me. It's too early to tell how successful we'll be with it, but I could tell that the checklist system appeals to Ryne. I was, however, frustrated with our nifty portable walls. I bought two of the walls at our convention last year, but for some reason they are printed differently. So my teaching sounded something like this:

Me: Let's look at the list of -ly words on your folders.

[Look at Grace's folder] It's right here in the middle.

Ryne: I can't find it.

Me: In the middle, honey. Open the folder, and it's right in the middle.

[Ryne gets upset, so I look at his folder.] Hmm... okay, your -ly list is on the back. So you turn to the back, and Grace to the front.

[A few minutes later]

Me: Now let's look at the list of strong verbs. Where is it on Grace's folder? Okay, now Ryne's. Ryne, where IS your folder? Oh, forget it -- let's just look at the list in the book. What page was it on again? Is this the teacher book or the student book? Oh, look -- our 30 minutes for writing is up!

[Thinking to myself] I wish Starbucks would deliver to my house.

Here's a peek at our week:

Grammar, spelling, phonics, math, math drill, map skills, oral reading, Sunday School lesson, Mind Benders, copywork, piano (1 day), swim (2 practices).
Spelling, grammar, math, math drill, oral reading, outlining, Mind Benders, copywork, swim (2 practices).
Memory: Bible Sound-Off; review old stuff
Latin: Latin for Children A -- finished Ch. 2, started Ch. 3
Exploring Creation with Zoology 1 -- started Lesson 1
Read-aloud: The Burgess Bird Book for Children (look at this great resource!)
Composer Study: Started Tchaikovsky
Geography: Lesson 1 from The Core - labeling the 5 great circles
Writing: IEW Ancient History -- finished lesson 1, started lesson 2
Story of the World 1; Intro – How Do We Know What Happened?
Archaeologists Dig for Clues, Kate Duke
Veritas Press History & Bible Cards 1 - 7 (Creation - Tower of Babel)
For each card we read the accompanying selections from The Child's Story Bible (Vos) and Journey Through the Bible (Cook).
SOTW Ch. 2 – The Earliest People
Project : Make a Cave Painting
I spent hours planning out our history, and I'm so excited to have finally started! This will be our second time around with SOTW 1, but Ryne seems much more engaged now that he's older. Grace, who was usually napping when we did it four years ago, is enjoying it for the first time. The only thing I wished we had done different the first time would have been to incorporate more Bible history. So this year I added the Veritas Press history and Bible cards into our history studies. Each card gives various reading suggestions for further study, so I'm adding a couple of those too. If you're really interested in the nitty-gritty details, I've uploaded my plans here. I might have been too ambitious -- it will be tough to fit it all in one school year. But we've always been pretty heavy on history in this homeschool and this will take the place of any formal Bible curriculum. The first week went very well!
Happy Homeschooling!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Week 2 in Review

This week hardly merits a weekly review. We did less work than we did last week, since we didn't start a new composer study. But we still covered the basics, and I've been hard at work getting everything organized. You'll be happy to know that the floor is clear again. Well, there is still one pile of stuff in the corner that needs to be sorted and my desk needs some help, but I have until Tuesday to get it all done.
My big project right now is finishing setting up the filing cabinet. I got this idea from The Well Trained Mind forums, and it made such a difference in my preparedness last year. Some people use file boxes, but I already had a big filing cabinet in our room so I cleared out one of the drawers. I added 36 files, one for every week of our school year.

It took a while to set up the files, but thankfully that was a one-time effort. The files can be reused year to year. The next thing is to fill the files. I made copies of all the handouts we'll need for history for the entire year and put them in the appropriate files. Basically, anything that I need to make a copy of for the year will go into the files. Some people go a little crazy with the system and take apart all their workbooks, filing those as those as well. I don't do that because I would never be able to predict what we'll be doing in math week to week. Here's what I do instead: Usually on Sunday night I pull out the file for that week. I fill out my planning page and then rip out the appropriate workbook pages for that week and place them in the file. Now I have everything in one place for the week.

You can see that there are also two folders in the file -- one for Ryne and one for Grace. This is where I put their finished work, except for history/geography which goes in a 3-ring binder. At the end of the week I move the file to the back of the drawer so that I always have the current week in the front. It makes a great visual for how much progress we've made as we move through the files!
At the end of the year I go through all the papers, deciding what to keep. Actually, I hope to do that monthly this year, since it ends up still being a pretty big job at the end of the year. That's why I still have a big pile in the corner of our room right now -- I haven't finished sorting last year's stuff. : )
All in all, I've been very happy with this system. It was such a relief to know that everything was ready to go and my weekly prep time was easier. It's worth making the effort at the beginning of the year. Ideally, I would have had this done BEFORE we started our school year, but that unplanned Texas trip came right when I would have been doing my planning.
So that's what I'll be doing with my holiday weekend -- how about you?
Happy Homeschooling!