Simple Summer Homeschooling: How We Manage

 

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Summer is more than half over and my grand plans to start kindergarten instruction haven’t exactly flourished. But that doesn’t mean we haven’t been learning. We took a family trip to the beach and visited an aquarium. It was a small aquarium with several touch tanks, and we spent a long time working our way through several exhibits. Thea did a week of VBS and then two weeks of swim lessons. Formal school hasn’t gotten much attention. I’m still feeling torn about what curriculum I’m going to use in the fall. I’ve been waffling between Five in a Row and My Father’s World. Both have advantages and disadvantages. It may simply come down to which of the recommended books our library has more of. But until then we’ve decided to keep things simple. I finally dragged out our two “learn to read” books that I purchased earlier this year.

100 easy lessons

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Ordinary Parent's Guide

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Child to Read

Neither was of any interest to my daughter and who can blame her, they are really boring to look at. But we started with an Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Your Child to Read because I thought the lessons seemed interesting and I like the poem used to help learn vowels. Plus, the premise of 100 Easy Lessons is to teach the child the sounds the letters make before the letters themselves. Well, silly me. We just spent the last two years learning letters. So I didn’t know how well that one would work for us anyway.

We’re only a few lessons in and while my daughter doesn’t love it, she will listen. My son will sit and listen to anything new for a least a little while, so he tries to learn the letter sounds which makes my competitive daughter more engaged.

Games for Math

Games for Math: Playful Ways to Help Your Child Learn Math, From Kindergarten to Third Grade

We’ve also been using Games for Math. I know that this isn’t a formal math curriculum, but it’s a way of trying to make math more fun. I honestly wish I could find a curriculum that focuses mostly on the practicality of math. I loved story problems when I was in school, because they made sense. They were based on real life. I think that if we made math as practical as possible kids would be more interested in it, but until it’s applied, it feels so abstract. (Fortunately my daughter is still too young for the “When will I need this anyway?” argument).

We’ve also been trying some new read aloud books. After we finished The Wind in the Willows I gave my daughter the choice of going back to the Little House on the Prairie Series, The Secret Garden, Heidi or All of a Kind Family. She chose All of a Kind Family.

All of a Kind Family

This book is an old favorite of mine. I’ve reread it and the others in the series more times than I can count. I vividly remembered when I was standing at the shelf of the Emmaus Library and I realized that this book, which my teacher had read to us in school, was one of a series. I was so excited and took out the other four books and was done with them in less than two weeks.

I love that through this book my daughter and I are exploring a different time in history and different culture. All of a Kind Family tells the story of working class Jewish Family living in New York City before World War I. It is filled with beautiful Jewish traditions and holidays and the fun filled and tender interactions of the family; mother, father and five daughters.

So that’s our simple homeschooling summer so far. I’d love to hear how you spend the summer with our kids, whether you homeschool or not.

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Find the Emotional Rest You Need: Mindset for Moms

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This topic was very appropriate this week. My stress levels have finally begun to lower a little bit after several weeks of functioning almost constantly in high gear.

Sometimes I feel so weary. It can be lack of sleep or a busy few days of constant running around. Travel and visiting with family are both wonderful, but for introverts like my husband and I, they are also draining. As moms, we are on call all the time. Even if you work a paid job outside the home, volunteer regularly or run your own business from home; the dynamic is often the same. Now, I realize that in many households this is changing. Shared care and shared household responsibilities are becoming more common. But if you look at the statistics, even when moms work full time outside the home, they are still responsible for more than 50% of the household management from childcare to food prep. This is not to criticize but to be aware of the load many of us carry. It’s OK to feel weary and like there is more to do than you have hours in the day. It’s not an illusion. There really is more work than we can finish, which is why much of our time is spend prioritizing and often multi-tasking, whether done well or not.

But we need rest. I’m not going to discuss the philosophy of taking care of yourself first. I realize that is a controversial one that I’m still trying to figure out myself. How do I serve my family without wearing myself to a frazzle or becoming bitter? I don’t have those answers yet. But what I am saying is that when you are tired, you need rest. Sometimes this will mean actual sleep. Sacrificing those lovely post bedtime hours by going to bed early. This is one that I hate and still struggle with. But I know in theory that I will feel better and be more efficient if I sleep well, so I’m working on it.

Emotional rest is a little more complicated. It often requires physical rest too. But sometimes it actually takes additional work. The cure for emotional weariness is to find our joy and purpose again. But it can be helped along the way with little decisions. I love Jamie’s first tip in this section.

“Take it one hour (or minute) at a time.”

Yes. This is how I survive most days. Otherwise I start going down the slippery slope of negativity. All I need is the strength to survive today, or sometimes just the next hour or minute. I have to believe I’ll have what I need for the rest of it when the time comes.

We talked last week about gratitude and it comes up again here. We need to look for the good and continually remind ourselves of it. This is part of the practice of thanksgiving. It’s also another coping strategy for when things get difficult. It isn’t easy. Easy is tuning your kids out through electronics (Guilty!) or having that extra dessert because you tell yourself you deserve it. (Been there too). Focusing on the positive is harder, but totally worth it because the end result is that soon it is easier to see the blessings in our lives.

Last, but certainly not least (actually it really should be first). We need to pray, constantly and without ceasing. I’m still trying to get a handle on how to do this. I am by no means an expert (though I believe it was Henry Nouwen who said we must except that we will only ever be beginners at prayer). But it occurs to me that every time I mutter complaints under my breath I could be praying for help. When I want to scream, I could sing instead. When I want to run, I could fall to my knees and ask the savior of the universe to save me once more from myself. Do I always do that? Nope. Do I want to? Desperately. Just like all of you, I’m only a beginner.

 

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28-29

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Don’t Expect Kindness From Your Kids: Mindset for Moms

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He Finished It and I Can Rest: Five Minute Friday

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Today’s writing prompt is Finished.

Nothing in my life ever seems to be finished. Not the laundry, my the house chores, the myriad undone projects. Nothing is ever finished so I can’t really rest. I say I’m resting but my brain is always working. I can’t fully enjoy the things I should because I’m always distracted by all that I should be doing. This past Sunday our pastor preached a sermon on Sabbath. He talked about how we can experience God’s rest. It’s not just a nice idea, it’s a necessity.

But how do we experience the rest of God, how can we really have Sabbath? The answer my pastor provided surprised me. In order to experience rest we need to experience and acknowledge the completed work of Christ on the cross. It was simple, yet also incredibly complicated. In my busyness I have become self-sufficient, or at least behave like I am. Resting acknowledges that I know I am not in control and that He is. To quote my pastor “Sabbath is a symbol of God’s sufficiency.” Sabbath rest is supposed to be a time of freedom. How can we be free when there is so much undone work? First of all, rest can be part of that work. Some of it is in our attitudes. I know I am constantly going through my week feeling harried and at loose ends. I can’t always choose what happens to me, but I can choose how I respond. I can lean on him. I can remind myself of his ultimate sacrifice that was completed on the cross. That’s right, completed. I don’t have to work for it. My service is an honor and privilege. A thank you directed to my savior. But it can never match or add to his work, because guess what? It’s finished.

I also need to find moments of deliberate inactivity. When my pastor said this, I kind of wanted to laugh out loud. Inactivity? Has he been at my house recently, I have two small kids, there is no room for inactivity. But the truth is I can find moments of stillness in my crazy day. In the shower, after the kids are in bed, before they wake up. The issue is quieting my soul and mind enough to experience these moments. To enter into His rest. Because He has begun a good work in my life and I believe He will complete it. I need to stop living like it’s my job to make the world go round. He’s got it covered. He finished it, so I can rest. Now I need to lay down my oars and let him steer.

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Fit2B Strengthening: Pathway to Amazing Arms

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For the last few weeks I’ve been working on strengthening my arms. I’ve never enjoyed weight lifting but I know that I need more strength just to wrangle my two year old. If I’m honest there is a little bit of vanity in play as well, in that I’d really like to have nicer looking arms too. Beth Learn’s challenge is that doing one of these workouts twice a week for 6-8 weeks will transform your arms. I’ve been working on these for two or three weeks and my arms do look different. I wouldn’t say transformed, but maybe that’s yet to come.

 Biceps Desk Workout

Quick, simple to the point. This was actually my first workout from the office path. I wish I’d known about these when I was working. This would have made a great break during the day instead of run to the vending machine.

 

Kelly Dean’s Wall Workout

I used to think this wasn’t that great a workout because it was so short and appeared basic. I was wrong. I really went overboard the previous day (Ultimate Upper Body was way more difficult than I remembered) and I was really feeling it today. I was able to do this work out without pain, but it definitely challenged my upper arms. I also appreciated that it didn’t include any weights, so this is a great choice if you are on the go. It might even work in an office environment as well. The alternating between upper and lower body allowed me to push my muscles but then still rest between reps so I didn’t start using bad form due to fatigue. The core component? Still very challenging.

 

 Tricep Training Office Workout

Another office workout, this time for the triceps. I really appreciate the brevity and accessibility of these. I wish I could get my husband to do these at work. He is a computer programmer and mostly gets up from his desk to go to the restroom or get something to eat from the kitchen. Maybe this would give him something to do instead of grab another snack.

 

Ankles & Upper Body
I enjoyed this workout for two reasons. One, it did work my calves and my arms but without me breaking a sweat. I know I was working but it was a gentle exertion. I will always thing of this workout as “The one I did in a dress.” The short length made it easy for me squeeze in before I ran out the door to a morning meeting. But I was already dressed to go (in a dress no less, which used to be a rarity for me). However, it was actually great. No sweat, to muss, still a good workout.

 

Dumbbell Workout

I’ll be honest, I don’t love this workout. But I also know it’s one of Bethany’s older ones. I definitely miss the music. It’s not a bad workout but there are so many better upper body workouts to use.

 

Ultimate Upper Body

I always think that Insane Upper Body sounds scarier and more challenging than Ultimate Upper Body, but this is actually just as difficult. This workout continues to challenge me. It’s really just your upper body, and half the workout is done sitting down, so it’s best when combined with another lower body workout. I like it after I’ve done some time on the stationary bike. I had to try really hard to do these movements properly. They aren’t hard and I wasn’t even using really heavy weights, but doing each exercise slowly and correctly takes a lot of effort, especially if you want to make sure your core is being used properly. I probably would have liked a little more tricep action, because that is a problem area of mine. But we’ll see how I look after a few weeks.

 

Kelly Dean’s Total Body Toning

So when this came up on the Pathway to Amazing Arms I was confused. I didn’t remember this really being an arm workout. But it challenged me as much, if not more than any of the other exclusively upper body workouts. Similar to her Wall Workout, Kelly Dean moves between upper body and lower body in this workout, adding sections of just core work in between. All done entirely standing, this a great choice if you aren’t in a position to do floor work. (Such as being attacked by little people, as I often am). The first time I did this during Fit2B Beginning I wasn’t impressed but returning to this after abdominal rehab I have a new appreciation for this workout.

It involves no weights or equipment so you can start exercising without wasting valuable time looking for your dumb bells (or cans of soup, as Beth Learn would say). I couldn’t get through the various arm series without a quick break. Definitely a good addition to this pathway.

Insane Upper Body

This was a little harder than I remembered this time around. Probably because I had taken a bit of time off while I was doing my core rehab. Truth be told, I probably let my core bulge maybe once or twice and I probably should have started with something easier. But after doing 30 minutes on the stationary bike and Totally Transverse II, I wanted to squeeze in a short but challenging upper body workout. This may not be insane, but it is definitely short and challenging. I love that so many of these workouts are on the short side. I have two small children. So this fits (ha, small joke there) well into my daily schedule.

 

Bringing Back Fit2B: An Update

What Are the Foundational Five?

Kelly Dean on Fit2B: A Tummy Team Collaboration

Fit2B on Vacation: A Week of Relaxation

Fit2B Transitioning: The Tummysafe Pathway to Great Abs

Fit2B Training: The Tummysafe Path to Great Abs Part 1

 Fit2B Training: The Tummysafe Path to Great Abs Part 2

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Don’t forget you can use the coupon code laundryblog to save 30% off a Fit2B Studio yearly membership. That’s less than $7 a month.

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The 6 List: 31 Days to Clean

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I love lists. Seriously I have them everywhere. Sometimes it’s the only way I feel like I can get my brain organized. I’ve used word documents, apps (though I still haven’t found one I like) and old fashioned legal pad and paper. The problem is my lists are never ending. Once a item is finished another item takes it’s place and there is never a feeling of completion. So the idea behind this chapter, The Six List, is appealing. If I only got six things done each day, what would they be? How would it feel knowing that I actually accomplished the items I wanted for once? Looks like I’m about to find out. Even if you haven’t been following me as I work my way through 31 Days to Clean, this would be a great challenge to join.

Mary Challenge

Print out the Six List and use it for six days straight. Put the items in order of priority and then do them in that order throughout the day. Whatever you don’t finish goes on the next days list.

Love this. I always have a list of things for each day, but they are usually too long and discouraging. But if I can get the top six each day, I’d probably have a better sense of accomplishment in my life. I’ll note that I’d like at least two of the items on my list to be quantifiable, meaning not maintenance tasks like dishes or laundry that always have to be redone. They should be once and done items that I can check off and forget.

Martha Challenge

Clean out and organize all of your cabinets

I’ve been dreading this one. I think I knew it was coming somehow. I hate my cabinets. They are too small, too awkward and always crowded. I’ve organized them before and invariably I still end up with things falling out on my head within a week or two. So this isn’t just about organizing the cabinets, but being able to maintain them that way.

So we’ll see how this week goes. Hopefully the Six List becomes a new habit that helps my life move more smoothly.

 

31 Days to Clean: Having a Martha House the Mary Way

Why Clean?: 31 Days to Clean

Created to Give Life: 31 Days to Clean

10 Ways to Give Life to Your Home: 31 Days to Clean

A Place to Put Your Feet Up: 31 Days to Clean

Priorities: 30 Days to Clean

31Days1

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