A little here, a little there

Moms struggle to keep the house running. We are COO’s. Meals, cleaning, routines, and if we homeschool, then school. There’s the all important husband-care and self-care, and mandatory hourly and daily snuggles. Don’t forget time for prayer, Bible study and deep thought which should happen at least daily, but sometimes multiple times a day, depending on your season. Add friendships, service to others, duties, and for many, good ol’ regular work. That’s more than a full time j-o-b! That’s life!

I’ve really focused this last year on trying to create a home that’s a sanctuary. This means a few things. Ambiance. Music. Orderliness. Great smells. Simplicity. Balance. Routines.

I read “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, which I highly recommend. It breaks down the science of habit-breaking and habit-formation. The patterns of our lives greatly impact our success! Philippians 3:17 says “Dear brothers and sisters, pattern your lives after mine, and learn from those who follow our example.” Duhigg’s book is secular, but God talks of patterns too!

I’m in a season of raising little kids – such a busy blessed time! They are my third priority. First is God. Second is my husband. But I have other assignments too. God has recently put it on my heart to reach out to my neighbors. So today I was able to deliver some of that yummy Cinnamon Sweet bread to a neighbor who’s been slow to warm. 

I also had time to make homemade Chicken Pot Pie and some scratch apple pastry with leftover pastry from the former. Yum! 

The good news is since my husband is fed lunch at work now, our dinners usually last two nights! I love leftovers! So this week I think I’ve only cooked meals twice, but they’ve been delicious! And I have two others ready to go, including one for a dinner party we are hosting Saturday for some new friends. This makes me very happy! I love welcoming people into our lives and hearts even though it means more work. This is the blessing of threading bonds together in the tapestry of a blessed life. And to not do things of obligation but of choice is a precious place to be!

Let me get down to some brass tacks. Here’s how to get more done. Most moms know this, but many don’t do it.

  1. Eat your frog first thing every day: do your three most critical tasks first thing every day.
  2. Pack lunches, prep breakfast (this includes shakes, teas, etc), load laundry, and set clothes out the night before. Prep dinner if you need to or can. Crock pot anyone?! Or thaw meat, scrub potatoes, etc.
  3. Have iron and magnesium with some nighttime reading.
  4. Turn on worship music as soon as your rise. Spend some time with God while you drink water.
  5. Work out!
  6. Everyone makes beds before breakfast.
  7. Start laundry.
  8. Have a shake (which you’ve prepped the night before) and take your vitamins or supplements if you do these important things.
  9. Have breakfast with the kids.
  10. Turn on the crock pot, which you’ve already prepped, or thaw meat.
  11. Flip laundry at lunch time.
  12. Fold laundry after lunch or early afternoon. A quick sweep of the house is amazing now too.
  13. A 15 minute round up before meal times and after dinner make all the difference!
  14. Put laundry away after supper or while you and your husband chat at night. No television. 
  15. Oh, and clean dishes and put them away after each meal!
  16. End your day reflecting on the day, and then in Bible study and prayer. Do this as a team or individually, but do it.  During this time determine tomorrow’s “frogs”! “This is what the LORD says—the LORD who made the earth, who formed and established it, whose name is the LORD: Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”‭‭ Jeremiah‬ ‭33:2-3‬ ‭NLT‬

As far as homeschooling goes, we keep it fun! We’ve learned 35 major historical events in order now. This week we’ve focused on the 100 Year’s War, Joan of Arc; the falling of Judah, Babylon, and Persia; Jews return; Roman Republic in the Golden Age of Greece, Alexander the Great, and the Peloponnesian War. We are skip counting by 9’s and 10’s. We know Ephesians 6:1-6 by now and added the Latin endings for first conjugation future tense to our memory portfolio. Adding to types of consumers and parts of the food chain, we have learned how animals react to environmental change. We’re celebrating what it means to be adopted, the fruits of the Spirit, good manners. We learned where five European cities are located. And by now Micah can correctly tell you where 5 Western European countries are, plus 6 rivers, and 5 seas. He also can point out the 7 continents and 4 oceans on the globe. He’s learned some good English basics with an emphasis on pronouns. 

We play memory games. Today we played Jeopardy. We used beads as points, and graphed our points after we played to see which color got the most points, during which we practiced skip counting 5’s and adding. These comprehensive learning review games make it easy for me to track what we know and what we are still learning. Plus it motivates Micah to learn the newest material while feeling successful with the older topics.

Tonight, Micah focused on reviewing just the newest material by literally spinning in circles, tumbles, head stands, standing on one foot, spinning in a chair, hanging upside down and jumping like a frog. 

Certain things we review in constant, such as the 10 Commandments and the Books of the Bible. These are things Micah knows that I just want to stick. 

And other things we review weekly, like how to read a clock, and read a calendar. Some things Micah just picks up on his own, like counting money – he’s just learned this by exposure.

We are still working our way through “How to Teaxh Your Child How to Read in 100 Easy Lessons” and Singapore Math Kindergarten Book A. He can do the entire math book verbally, but we are practicing handwriting too. 

No week is perfect, but I am leapyears ahead of where I was last year! I hope this helps someone else!!

Mom-ing and Wife-ing

I am humbled by the compliments I receive from ladies sometimes who say I seem to get a lot done. How nice to hear that kind of thing! I’m not sure I feel the same way about it, because my birthday cards to people are always late and my house is usually dirtier than I prefer (the struggle is real!!). However, I am totally happy to share the main tool I use for planning. Please open the link below. It’s my weekly docket. You’ll see:

  • a Goal Dashboard on page 1,
  • a Monthly Planner on page 2, and
  • how I stay focused and reflective on pages 3-4

If the strange circles under “Notes”on page 4 confuse you, look up LM Hyperdex online.


Homeschool Progress for Real

I was determined to do a better job tracking what we actually cover each day in our homeschool efforts this year. One of the questions my husband asked me last year was how I know the kids are learning ‘on schedule’, though he’s regularly impressed by my eldest’s reading or math skills at 4 years and 10 months old.

If you follow this blog, you know this is the first year we joined Classical Conversations. With that, is the much more orderly integration of topics to explore. Previously, for my eldest’s tot school, the ladies we were schooling with had just chosen themes to follow.

Much to suit my personality and meet my husband’s question, I made a custom tracker called a CC Homeschool Docket, and sent it for printing and binding at our local office store, complete with monthly assessments and dividers with pockets to hold loose papers.

I’ve been tracking fairly regularly since the end of August this year, but I’m so excited to have this custom tool ready for me tomorrow! I hope you’ll make use of these tools in your own homeschooling journey as well!

XO, Robyn

Tracking Daily Achievements in Homeschool Life

It’s one thing to plan. It’s a very different animal to execute. I use this simple form to keep track of what we actually accomplish each day. Feel free to use it in your home too!

Here it is: cc-homeschool-docket-for-binding-generic

CC homeschool with littles under 5!

My style is eclectic, catering to the learning styles of my littles, but part of this embraces classical education. We just joined a Classical Conversations community (CC) for the first time this year. Last year, in my oldest son’s 3rd/4th year of life, we just listened to Cycle 1’s audio CDs as we wanted. My younger son was 1.

Well, now my eldest is almost 5, and my now-2-year-old deserves the same investment my first received. As we continue to homeschool, I try to feed both their appetites for taking in the world. We will welcome our third in the Winter. Big smiles and warm fuzzies for that.

My husband and I discussed my eldest’s future last night, because my eldest has been talking about wanting to become “highly specialized” and “to work on solar cells like daddy”. My son asked me how the application process went for a post-doc two days ago and what to do if they don’t accept you. *what in the world is a 4 year old doing thinking of these things?!*

You won’t believe me after that last paragraph, because you’re wondering what we talk about in my home… But I don’t really have a preference for his life. Here’s the truth. My preference is for my children to do whatever is their God-given assignment, even if it means sweeping chimneys… but with excellence as if it were for God himself.

It so happens excellence is one of my values. I didn’t know that especially until I did this self-evaluation. As a life coach, I’m usually exploring these things… values, priority, efficiency, future, fulfillment, assignment, identity. I digress.

Our CC community day is Tuesday. Which means our schooling happens on those other days, and I view Tuesday as a play day. My eldest gets to do a mini-presentation. Afterwards, sometimes I introduce next week’s material on Tuesday IF (and only if) the mood strikes US BOTH.

Wednesday is a homeschool, errands and cleaning day. I’m debating whether to participate in a free afternoon Sports Day or not. I don’t like that it forces me out of the house in the afternoon and messes up the 2 year old’s nap schedule. Half the time he won’t nap anyway, but we value the brain break. I take an ad hoc approach to cleaning most days. I wait to see what messes the two year old makes and clean that area. Today he opened bath fizzies so my toilet, sink, and surround was swirled blue red and purple. He dumped his yogurt drink and granola on the family room and kitchen floors. He came to me with his diaper off, pointing to his toosh saying “poopie”. Half the poo was on his booty. The other half was in the potty.  A ‘pinch’ was on the bathroom floor. I guess we start potty training today. Thanks kid.

Thursday is a Bible Study morning for mom while the kids go to Thursday school which is very much like a Sunday School for them. We will homeschool in the afternoons as of next week on this day. This is also hamster cage cleaning day.

Friday is a homeschool morning which is sometimes interrupted by field trips, Bible studies, or errands. I move homeschool to the afternoons in this case.

Saturday soon will start soccer for my eldest, and a day of exploring nature. Last Saturday we had an adventure at a volcanic preserve. We did a nature collection during the hike, and drew the scrubland biome. Before we went I printed colored images of the plants and animals we might see. We took a bug collection kit with magnifying lens, box for collecting nature finds, camera, and leaf press with us. Today (Wednesday) we compared our pictures to the printed pictures and checked off what we think we found.

Sunday is church and small group on an every other week basis. It’s also “Science Sunday” when my husband will do a science experiment with the kiddos. Last Sunday they made a solar jitter bug, and we recorded my son’s short presentation from it. We also discuss my eldest’s presentation for CC at some point that day.

Monday is a play date or playground morning. We do schooling in the afternoons to review for CC, practice my eldest’s presentation.

I have two jobs as a homeschooling mom. 

  1. Develop a godly worldview and character. 
  2. Help them ever expand their world of knowledge and exploration.

A homeschool day consists of this:

  • Always starting with morning symposium. This is worship music, breakfast, Bible reading from whichever children’s Bible we are using at the moment, and prayer. We follow that with getting dressed, washed, flossed, brushed, and’socked and shoed’ for the day. Plus chores.
  • Rotating the schedule to suit their body rhythms. They are little efficient machines, naturally falling into a Pomodoro method of life. Learn, play, learn, snack, play, learn, eat, learn, rest, snack, play, learn. You get the idea. 
  • Play happens either in the house, in the bath, outside, at a park, etc., but the goal is to change the scenery, sensation, or mood in some way.
  • Learning for my boys rotates between active and still activities. We learn a ton by moving, reading, listening, experiencing, and exploring. Sometimes this includes watching.

Let me share some learning examples now. We covered five bible stories this morning, because each one is short and ends with a quick discussion question. The older one could go on twice as long, but the younger one was finished two stories in. That was fine with me. 

In geography, we are learning European waters, so I made foam fish. With a magnet on a string that was tied to a dowel, my son went fishing to learn European waters are Adriatic Sea, Baltic Sea, English Channel, Mediterranean Sea, and North Sea. We noticed our ABC’s in these waters as well: ABC/MN anyhow. He also reviewed last week’s geography through fishing.

He knows his math skip counting songs for the 3’s and 4’s from last year. He surprised me in that. We just sang them a few times then. We also do Singapore Math and the Abacus. The Family Math Book has games we play. We use a Base Ten set of blocks to learn math too. Other than those, I use household items like food items as manipulatives.

He’s learning Ephesians 6 through song. Sometimes we do scavenger hunts in the house for other scriptures posted throughout.

He knows large pieces of the CC Timeline through song from last year, but we are adding hand motions this year. We also put the cards in order, and read the facts on the back of the cards. 

He learns history and Latin through song. We read the Story of the World series, and are slowly going through a little social studies book for kindergartener’s. 

English happen through song and example. And we are working our way through “How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”.

We still do some preschool activities because it’s fun and easy. We play a matching game every time I show my toddler a new letter. Usually my older flips alphabet flash cards for the younger too.

If you have any more questions, let me know!

Cc review time

I am so enjoying CC! This is our first year of CC but our third year homeschooling. My oldest will be 5 in 2 months. We have jumped skipped rolled caught velcroed sang read built explored watched taped folded danced imagined and exercised our way through memory work this week, which was our soft launch of real dedication (last year we just listened… This year I’m preparing my VERY naturally competitive son to be successful in a class full of kids mostly a year or two older than him). What a rich program!
I had started homeschool communities in the past. I’m enjoying the tight structure of CC, and the community it offers as newcomers to a new city clear across the continent, and expressly NOT being in charge! Haha!
We are memorizing with purpose, and I’m getting better at learning how to memorize in general. My son’s memory is far superior to mine! Ah!
I’m so fortunate as homeschooling moms that we “get to go to school again”, but this time really savoring in all the things we are learning. I disliked history before. Now it’s becoming one of my favorite topics.
At the same time, the rhythm of the morning folds my just-turned-two year olds needs and my home is fun and peace-filled! 
My two year old gets to practice his art, ABC flash cards and learn his colors with us, and then dances and runs or copies my older son in whatever we are doing. When we are doing work that needs writing (like the little bit of copy work we do), I set the little guy up with his own notebook for coloring, dot art or stickers. We also do a Kumon sticker and paste book together. And today my older son insisted on doing the same as the younger. He shouts “yay!” when we finish our CC songs. He also gets his nursery rhymes and reading daily, and learning songs in at the playground. It’s honestly just adorable! 
Anyhow, schooling two young kids is my favorite! And we are blessed to add a baby to our family in January – our first girl.