Saturday, May 30, 2009

Planning a Planner.

So these past few days I've been working on my new planner for the year. Unlike last year's planner, I would like to have it bound rather that using a 3 hole punch approach. Although I like the flexibility of being able to add pages, I wasn't thrilled with it. I especially didn't like that it was bulky and it couldn't write in it comfortably. So here is what my planner for this year will have.

2 Page Weekly Lesson Plans: This has a column for the subject, as well as columns for Monday through the weekend (we don't just do school on a M-F schedule). I decided to make my own, but you can find a similar one at

Curriculum Planner: This is a list where I list exactly what books I'm using for each subject and what I paid for them. Last year I wished I had kept track of my costs, as well as all the books I had purchased. It's actually more helpful at the end of the year when I'm planning the following semester's books.

Student Checklist
: Lately, the kids have been using checklists after they have completed their assignments. Not only has this stopped the incessant "Am I almost done with school work?" question, but it has given them a sense of pride and accomplishment after they check off each assignment. If there is no assignment for a subject that day, I put an "X" in it's square. Rather than printing out a new sheet for them for each day or week, I decided to include the checklist in my planner. This can also serve as an attendance record if you are required to have one for your state. This form can also be found at

Book List: I wasn't sure if I would need this list or not, so I decided to add it just in case. This will allow me to keep a record of books read or checked out from the library. Many times we will check out a great book from the library and later, after I've returned it, I want to reference it and I can't remember the name or author of the book! This list will be handy especially if you have younger kids you plan on homeschooling. You can always look back to see what books were hits and find them with more ease rather than starting a search from scratch. (**the O/L stands for Own or Library. Sometimes I forget I own a book!)

Daily Schedule:
This is just a copy of what our daily schedule typically looks like. I haven't planned it out for the new year yet, so that is something I need to do.

Lined Paper
: This will be for notes and ideas.

Monthly Calendar: An at a glance view for the month.

Hope this helps someone out there in deciding what to include in their own planners!! Although purchasing a ready-made planner is inexpensive and easy; I like that I can include my own personal forms and fit the planner to my needs. I'm actually excited to start writing down our schedule!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Some Updates.

Well, the local homeschool convention has come and gone and I have purchased the majority of our school books for the upcoming year. I still have some books left to get, but I'm hoping to find them at the Catholic conference in a few weeks.

As for school, we have been diligently working to catch up and finish. Although with some subjects we won't be taking much of a rest (writing, handwriting, grammar,etc.) and will go straight through the summer and into our new year. Unfortunately, this is the price you pay for taking a couple of slacker months due to morning sickness followed by a few weeks here and there for vacation. Nevertheless, I am so happy that my kids are being troopers about the whole situation and are just chugging along wonderfully!!

Anthony is pretty much done with his BFIAR and it was something that he loved this year! He loved the stories, the crafts, the lapbooks, and just knowing that he was doing his own thing. He is really the sweetest guy!! Since we have completed that, I am working on alphabet activities for him for the next few weeks. I haven't focused on this and feel like it's time to get him into preschool mode! He is having lots of fun so far.

Anthony's alphabet work.

Isabella is still working though Level 1 of SSRW. I had to really adjust the program to fit her needs, since it has lots of writing and she just isn't at that level with writing yet. So we are doing everything orally and it is working a lot better. For math, I decided to drop Saxon Math 1 for a couple of months and do MCP Math K. We started about 2-3 weeks ago and she is already half way through the book. I'm hoping to finish it off and go back to Saxon in late August.

Marco is working the hardest at this point and doing double duty with subjects like math and history. His reading has significantly improved and his handwriting has taken a turn for the better!!! We are working with WWE and love it so far!! The copy work is fantastic, the narration is great, and his listening skills are being sharpened. I'm expecting him to start Level 2 of WWE sometime in the late fall.

As for history, we had stopped doing it altogether in order to improve on reading. So now we are trying to catch up and plan to finish studying the ancients this summer. It is a little disappointing to not have the time to do all the fun activities and really delve into the book. SOTW has been a favorite and now it's not as much fun. Luckily, it hasn't become a chore. The book is still being enjoyed and I have started using Discovery Education Streaming in order to supplement with interesting videos and clips. The kids love that!!

Of course, I have been doing lots of crafts with the kids lately too. I don't want it to be all work and no play, so we've been making ocean crafts, recipes, painting, taking nature walks, and reading fun books. It keeps things interesting!

Having some fun painting and making crafts.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Happy Birthday to Me!!

It's another year and I'm a year older! It was a great day and full of fun! DH took care of me all day and it felt good to have him "run the house" for a day. I slept in (although I don't know if getting up at 7:30am is considered sleeping in!), got dressed and came downstairs. Breakfast was all ready for me and all I had to do was sit down and eat! No refilling cups of milk for kids, getting up and serving everyone seconds, or cleaning up the kitchen afterwards.

Not only that, but my birthday cake came nice and early! Right after breakfast, the kids turned off the lights and DH brought out the cake! It was a nice day followed by strawberry picking with the family, nice cool Popsicles, and time alone at the homeschool convention book fair. Dinner was even a breeze.

It would be nice to have days like this more often!!

Yes...I'm 32!!

The kids helped me blow out the candles.

Time to open all the lovely homemade presents and cards from the kids!

At the strawberry farm.

Christian helped his papi pick (or eat!) the strawberries.

Marco had a great time too!

At the end of the trip...a happy family, a happy mom, and LOTS of strawberries!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Well, I haven't written about my daily duties as a mom lately. Mostly dealing with diapers. In the past I posted about my mediocre transition into using cloth diapers. My motivation being that I want to do the earth friendly and "green" thing. I feel a responsibility to this, especially since we have a large family and who knows how many of my kids' diapers are still lying in some land fill.

Since having tried cloth diapers, I can honestly admit that I did not fully transition into a full cloth diaper routine. It was more like 75% disposable and 25% cloth. An improvement, but not fully eco-friendly. But recently (like a month or two ago), I began using a combination of disposable, cloth, and G Diapers.

If you haven't heard of G Diapers, they are pretty much an earth friendly diaper that you can flush and even compost!! They take a little extra effort, but I like them! I have also made an effort to use more cloth. This has drastically reduced the amount of disposable diapers I use. My percentages?? 10% disposable, 60% G Diapers, and 30% cloth. A great improvement. My goal is to move to just G Diapers and cloth. I still keep a pack of Pampers, though, since I don't want to make life so hard for when my DH takes the kids or when my babysitter is around.

The use of G Diapers is not any cheaper, so if you want to make the switch to save money...this is probably not the way to do it. I recommend fully switching to cloth in order to see any savings.

So that is the update on the ever so interesting discussion of diapers!!!!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Planning for Second Grade, Kindergarten, Preschool.

Homeschool convention time is fast approaching and I'm trying to get geared up to make the most of it. This weekend I have been working on looking at what I have used this past year, what I had planned to use for the upcoming year, and reviewed anything that sparked my interest. So far, I have several things cemented as definite. But it seems like I've been changing my opinion on other things and wanting to add some new things as well.

I've been debating whether or not to enroll with Angelicum Academy once more and I'm leaning more to skipping it. I love their Good Books program for the elementary level as well as the Great Books program for the upper grades. But it seems like we are digressing from some of their recommendations and adding others. It just doesn't make sense to enroll when I'm not planning on using their grading services or all of their lesson plans.

What I am sure of, however, is that I keep coming back to my good old companion and guide...The Well Trained Mind. So far, I have not been let down by the WTM's recommendations and love the way that they cycle through the subjects. I have read the book over and over and it is definitely the way I want to teach my children.

So my choices for the upcoming year are still along the lines of what I thought they would be. I made a chart of what I'm looking into that I plan to take along with me to both the convention I am attending this weekend (the book fair part only), and the Immaculate Heart of Mary Conference in early June. The IHM conference is where I'm planning to really sit down and plan out the new year, since I will be away from any distractions.

*SSRW = Sing, Spell, Read & Write
*SOTW = Story of the World
*MCP = Modern Curriculum Press

Marco 2nd Grade
MathSaxon 3MCP Math B & Calculadders
PhonicsSSRWVaried Readers
English GrammarSeton English, Rod and Staff English 2 or First Language LessonsNone
SpellingSpelling Work OutNone
WritingWriting With Ease (Finish 1 and continue with 2)Narrations and copy work through history, science, etc.
HandwritingZaner Bloser Book 2M & 2CNone
HistoryHistory Odyssey or SOTW with Activity GuideLibrary Books, Discovery Streaming Videos, and Add a Century Timeline
Geography/CartographyMap Essentials & Galloping the Globe or otherInclude Saint Studies
ReligionFaith & LifeBaltimore Catechism & Faith Formation Classes
Foreign LanguagePrima Latina, English from the Roots, SpanishLatin at Co-op, Discovery Streaming Videos
ReadingGood Books from AngelicumLibrary Books for fun
ScienceReal Science 4 Kids Chemistry Pre-Level 1Science Lab at Co-op
Art & MusicPiano Lessons, Bell Choir, Art ClassesBell Choir & Art at Co-op

As you can see, I'm doing lots of supplementing through our awesome co-op! This takes a big load off of my schedule since the teaching is done by someone else.

It's overwhelming to see so many subjects, but as many veteran homeschoolers know, many subjects take less than 20 minutes (mostly language arts!). I'm excited to start looking through books and putting a schedule down on paper. Since we homeschool year round, our transition from 1st grade to 2nd grade will most likely occur in the summer. This is especially so because of the new baby arriving mid-August.

For Isabella, things are easier to plan because she will be sitting in for some of Marco's lessons and having free play time for when she is done with her own work. It's funny that since I've been through this stage before, I feel more confident in scheduling her work.

Isabella Kindergarten Grade
MathComplete Saxon Math 1, continue with 2MCP Math A
PhonicsFinish SSRW 1, continue with 2Readers
English GrammarFirst Language Lessons?None
SpellingSpelling Work Out in 2nd semesterNone
HandwritingZaner Bloser, repeat K or 1?None
HistoryHistory Odyssey or SOTW with MarcoLibrary Books and Discovery Streaming
Geography/CartographyMap Essentials & Galloping the Globe or other with MarcoNone
ReligionSit in with MarcoFaith Formation Class, Baltimore Catechism
Foreign LanguageSpanishDiscovery Streaming Video
ReadingGood Books from AngelicumLibrary Books for fun
ScienceReal Science 4 Kids Chemistry Pre-Level 1Science Lab at Co-op
Art & MusicMusic at Co-op, Crafts at HomeNone

This only leaves Anthony. He will be a true preschooler this fall, with his 4th birthday coming in September. Although I should know hands-down with what to do with Anthony, I am totally undecided. He is definitely will be a young 4 year old in the maturity level, so I want to make sure to choose a program that will be gentle. He likes to sit in with the big kids for read alouds (even the bigger books!), religion, and crafts.

This year we did Before Five in a Row and it was a big hit with him! But I don't want to continue with it because I want something that will already be mapped out for me. I don't mind adding extras, but I want the core of what he is going to be doing to already be laid out. Colors, numbers, alphabet & sound recognition...these are the basics I want to focus on. Just a typical preschool program.

Preschool Contenders:
Little Hands to Heaven (from Heart of Dakota)
Handwriting Without Tears Preschool
Letter of the Week Preschool Program
OR Make my own program with workbooks, crafts, and activities.

A positive is that preschool at co-op will give Anthony a lot of the playtime with friends that he needs, as well as structured learning time.

Perhaps after I visit the book fair this upcoming weekend, I'll come with a whole new set of ideas! I'm hoping that these lists will help narrow down my search, however, and I can go and browse each curriculum before committing to one.

Ramblings as I Get Back in the Groove.

I'm trying my best lately to catch up with school after taking nearly two weeks off for vacation, so that might explain my blogging absence. But we are chugging along and doing well! Now I feel I can slowly come back and share with everyone (which is why you might see more than one post today!!).

Today is not starting to be such a great day, however. Last night, Anthony woke up with croup. I had to immediately stick him in the bathroom with a hot shower running since it sounded like he had a bit of stridor. The steam really helped his breathing, especially when he calmed down and stopped crying. After the steamy bathroom, I took him out for some cool air and he fell asleep in my arms. He slept with me for the remainder of the night and thankfully is still breathing well and sleeping.

Not to make my night any easier, Christian woke up crying with a stuffy nose. He asked to be rocked with his blanky and I obliged since the last thing I needed at 2:30am was an angry, crying, kid. Lucky once more, after I put him down he slept through the rest of the night.

Isabella and Marco also had their own issues. Marco woke up screaming and scared me half to death! Apparently he had a horrible nightmare and was angry that I wasn't right there when he woke up. Isabella was awakened by Marco's cries and unfortunately wasn't feeling well herself. She complained of her head hurting and I assured her that sleep is the best for things like that. After whining a bit about it, she eventually went back to sleep.

Why such a rough night?? It's like somehow everyone knew I was tired and alone (Jimmy worked last night, so he wasn't home). So here I am now...blogging at 6:00 in the morning. Tired, sleepy, and feeling a bit bummed that today I won't be able to relieve my thoughts at Mass.

****And completely off subject.****
Why is Notre Dame giving Obama an honorary degree? I was aware of his visit for graduation, which I thought was diplomatic at best (but don't really agree with it). But to give him an honorary degree??? Someone who is sooo pro-choice? Yea...doesn't make sense for a CATHOLIC university to do that!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Trip!

I'm finally back from yet another trip. And this trip was actually worth two! We were in Dallas for a week and we followed it up with a week at the beach.

I'm just getting back into things and will be catching up with all the projects, ideas, and updates that have been brewing!

Cheers to Being Back!

It's been quite some time since I updated this little part of the blogosphere.  New adventures, new trials, and new seasons in life.  I&...