Weekly Wrap-Up: The One With the Great Week

I am happy to say that this is one of the first weeks in a really long time where I have looked back and just felt joy. Don’t get me wrong, Babydoll is a joy to teach; she loves school, she listens, she tries hard, she does her best, she does extra work-she’s a complete blast to homeschool. But everything else around me seemed to constantly aggravate me. I was dealing with mental clutter, and it was really annoying me.

Part of this is due to the fact that, in addition to homeschooling, I do freelance writing, go to school myself, trot Babydoll off to soccer four times a week, and lead her Brownie troop. I appear to have it together to those around me, but I always felt like I was always trying to catch up. Well this week with my household notebook in order and my daily do-its and to-do lists ready, I conquered the week in a most orderly fashion and thoroughly enjoyed it.

I honestly think one of the greatest determining factors was deciding to switch from cleaning a room a day {which rarely worked because I’m just so stinking busy} to cleaning the entire house in one day on the weekend. Yes, I have to spend a greater chunk of time doing the cleaning at once, but it’s knocked out and ready for maintenance the rest of the week. I felt as if a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I always tried to do it the way I would read other people doing it, little by little each day, but that just wasn’t working for me.

Now on to more fun stuff, like Math!! I believe I recently mentioned switching from our K12 math to Math-U-See {it’s late and I really can’t remember}. In case I didn’t: we recently switched from our K12 math to Math-U-See. I am beyond thrilled about the choice. Babydoll loves math anyway, but she’s really taken to this program. I have to say that this is probably the single greatest thing I have found for our homeschooling.

I decided to backtrack and start with the Alpha level, even though Babydoll is “technically” in 3rd grade. I wanted to make sure she had her addition and subtraction facts down and had a great foundation moving forward. We also reviewed telling time and she said it finally clicked when she saw it.

In history we started discussing medieval African tribes and gold  Babydoll also continued to work on her blog, and we redid all of her three-ring binders because I wanted tab dividers in them.  We finished up a unit on verbs, did several spelling and vocabulary activities, and finished up our unit on the digestive system.

Our week was a bit interrupted by an emergency trip to the dentist and a on again/off again soccer practice {and reading this it doesn’t seem like we got too much done}, but we worked very hard this week and did quite a few lessons in each subject.  We ended the week by baking some coconut cupcakes together and getting items together for a Fall craft that we’ll be doing this week.

How was your week?  Check out other weekly wrap-ups at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.

Child ID Kit

I am super-paranoid when it comes to my daughter’s safety. Maybe I just watch too much TV, but I always worry about her becoming one of the more than 2,000 children abducted each day.  Even if she’s not abducted, she could easily get lost.  It’s definitely not a fun subject, but sadly it does need to be discussed.

I originally bought the USB Child ID from AmberAlert.com early last year.  I believe I read about it in a magazine, I’m not sure.  All I knew was that I was paranoid, I was about to send my daughter off to summer camp for the first time, and we were moving across the country.

I despised the little paper ID kits that got sent home with school pictures, simply because it was one more sheet of paper I had to keep track of {maybe if I had a household notebook then it wouldn’t have been so difficult?}.  I’ve told you guys that I’m a geek, and I love all things technological {probably not all things, but most of it sure is fun}, so having a handy USB device to tote around with me was a much better option in my eyes.

The device was easy to use, essentially plug-and-play.  I was able to enter Babydoll’s contact and identifying information, parent, family, and friend contact information, social media information, pictures, etc.  All of it was information that would be helpful in quickly issuing an AMBER Alert if need be.

Tonight I was updating the USB device and decided to check the website for updates.  The website let me know that they have since changed/updated the device.  AmberAlert.com now offers the My Child ID,

an elephant-shaped key chain USB device that holds all the info necessary to issue an AMBER Alert and assist authorities in retrieving your child if he or she is lost or abducted.  The information can be transmitted electronically to law enforcement when time is of the essence.

In addition to the My Child ID device, AmberAlert.com also offers a free child ID kit download and a less-expensive option for those not wishing to purchase the USB device.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what you use, I just implore each of you to put together some sort of ID kit to have on hand that can quickly be accessed in case of emergency.  It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it.

Photo credits:  Amber Alert – www.amberalert.gov; Pink My Child ID – www.buymychildid.com

~For the record, AMBERAlert.com has no idea who I am; I just like their products.~

Household Notebook

What the heck is a household notebook?  Yep, I thought the exact same thing when I first read about them.

“I’m pretty organized on my own, I don’t need yet another thing to keep track of.”

How completely stupid I was. 

Having a household notebook has been one of the single greatest things I personally could have done for my home.  I am the type of person that needs to see something in black and white {or pink} in order to really feel together.  Otherwise, I feel like I have this massive amount of crap swarming around in my brain.  I know a few of you know what I mean; I can’t be the only one…

Image from Amazon.com

I first stumbled upon the idea of a household notebook while reading Cynthia Ewer’s book, Houseworks.  For what it’s worth, I love the book.  It’s short, sweet, and full of practical and useful information on running a clean, organized, efficient, and functional home.  Love, love, love it!

Besides all of the other great info contained in the book, Ewer explains how to set up a household notebook.  Basically, this is the command center for your home.  It contains everything from takeout menus to emergency contact information to weekly, monthly, and seasonal cleaning checklists.  The beauty of the notebook is that you personalize it to fit your family.

I am still diligently working on mine, but I’ve got a good skeleton notebook going.  Inside you will find:

-  Emergency contact information
-  Master to do list {every time a “to do” pops into my head, onto the master list it goes}
-  Daily to do lists {a compilation of appointments, tasks from the master to do list, who to call, etc.}
-  Weekly chore list {cleaning that needs to be completed each week}
-  Minimum maintenance {no matter what happens during our day, these things need to get done}
-  Monthly checklist {things that must be cleaned/completed on a monthly rotating basis}
-  Seasonal checklist {things that must be cleaned/completed on a seasonal basis}
-  Forms that need to be filled out
-  Takeout menus

Ewer recommends dividing the book using dividers and filling it with plenty of page protectors {they come in handy for takeout menus and other such items}.  She has a ton of free printable pages that can be found here!

The notebook actually doesn’t take that much time to compile, and if you like organizing, it’s super fun to put together.  This is the first week since we’ve been back in town that I’ve had a chance to really put to practice the checklists and other goodies, and I have to tell you, I’m really loving it.  With homeschooling, my schooling, Girl Scouts, soccer, and everything else, I feel like this thing thinks for me {I’m not crazy}.  It’s flexible enough to allow leeway for our various days, yet rigid enough to hold me to a standard and a routine.

Do you have any special ways of maintaining your household?


Menu Planning

I absolutely love organizing! Anything and everything. Lists give me a little thrill. Calendars make me smile. You get the idea… With everything that we’ve got going on, I decided to try menu planning about a month ago. And, like my lists and my calendars, I {heart} it.

Michelle over at Make 5 Dinners in 1 Hour is a genius! I know many use freezer cooking, or have a prep day, or some other variant, but Michelle really has made it easy.  This method seems to suit me best.   

Each week you are emailed a list of five dinners, complete with ingredients, cooking instructions, and a shopping list. You spend one hour {she swears you’ll spend just about an hour in the kitchen, and even shows you what your plan of attack should be} in the kitchen and at the end you’ve got five dinners prepped for the coming week! 

She offers a one week trial {an email with a week’s worth of meals from the current month}, which is what I got today. I then took the dinners and looked at my monthly calendar to see what we had going on this week {do I need to do a crockpot meal on a day when we have soccer, that type of thing}. I then placed these meals on my “master calendar”, went through the shopping list, added the items I’d need to my “master list” {where I’ve got stuff like milk, cereal, sponges, etc., listed}, and I’m done!

The dinners looks appetizing, kid-friendly, and reasonably healthy {to me that means they include a good balance of food groups-I’m not a low-carb, low-fat, low-anything nut}. Could I have compiled this myself? Sure. Do I want to? No! She offers this gem for only $5 per month.

I’ve got yet to get to the store and do my hour, and I’ll update you guys when I have. Bottom line is: my menu plan is done for the week! And what are we having for dinner?

  • Monday – Ordering in {didn’t make it to the store today}
  • Tuesday – Turkey Bacon Swiss Croissants
  • Wednesday {something I found that I want to try} – Chicken Cordon Bleu Panini
  • Thursday – Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas
  • Friday – Slow Cooked Asian Pork Chops with Glazed Carrots & Peas
  • Saturday – Mini Meatloaves
  • Sunday – Pizza and other goodies

Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday are all Michelle’s creations {I opted to not use one of them}.  Her blog is full of useful info, even if you don’t use the service.  For instance, we tend to struggle with lunches around here, unless there happens to be leftovers handy {my husband takes them to work for lunch, though, so many times there’s not}.  She has two great posts {here and here} about how she handles lunches.  Brilliant!

Do you have a favorite meal planning resource?

Weekly Wrap-Up: The One With Lots of Field Trips and Fun

This week was so incredibly busy, but it was so fun!  I even did a superb job of telling myself that it was completely alright that the house looked “lived in”.  Remember that trip we took last week?  Yeah, we still haven’t done any of the laundry, cleaning, unpacking…  And you know what?  At this point I’m OK with that, because it will get done in due time.  At any rate, on to the fun!

The week started off fairly boring, with me catching up on internet things {ever notice how fast time can slip by when you’re on the ‘net?} and us driving an hour and a half to Montgomery to pick up our fair ribbons.  Babydoll got a merit ribbon for her coconut cake and I got a third place ribbon for my lemon cake.

The following day was spent at our SIFAT CARES field trip.  I blogged about that earlier this week, so be sure to check this post out to find out all about this wonderful trip that focused on global awareness.

Hearing the AL Symphony Orchestra play and enjoying the science center were the next day’s frivolities.  I also blogged {here} about this trip earlier this week.

Thursday was one of my personal favorites, as a generous portion of the day was spent at the library {told you I was a geek}.  I just love the library {and bookstores for that matter}.  I used to want to be a librarian {I’m not sure what changed my mind}.   

Hoover Public Library is one of the most amazing libraries I’ve ever been to.  So amazing in fact that many people {us included} who do not live in the county pay $50 a year for a library card to the library system in Jefferson County.  The beauty is that not only is the Hoover Library amazing {although it’s probably the most amazing of them all}, but others in the system are as well.  We also visited the Emmet O’Neal Library in Mountain Brook and it was pretty sweet too.

We’re trying to make our trip to the Hoover Library a twice a month trip.  It’s a bit of a drive {45 minutes in B’ham traffic}, but very much worth it.  I brought my laptop and worked on my schoolwork while Babydoll was a kid in a candy store, quickly walking around {because we don’t run in the library…} scooping up book after book. 

She’s taken a liking to graphic novels {age-appropriate, of course}, Garfield, and still enjoys series books like Magic Tree House and Judy Moody.  We finish up our visit with a trip to the Coffeeology cafe, where every two weeks they add a new mini menu that focuses on a different ethnic cuisine.  This we ate Mexican fare!

After we were done at the Hoover Library, we headed across town to music class.  Babydoll showed off her flutes and a drum {from Ecuador} that she bought from SIFAT and sang and danced for an hour.

From there we headed to the Emmet O’Neal Library to sign Babydoll up for Hogwarts Night at the B’ham Zoo.  We had no idea what fun awaited us.  

Babydoll was given an official application to Hogwarts, which asked for things such as was she “muggle born” or from a “highly connected wizarding family”, what her muggle school affiliation was, information on any “unfortunate encounters with magical creatures or dangerous plant life” and any known antidotes.

After she turned her application in, it went into the magical filing cabinet where an admissions decision would be made.  After a short wait, we learned that she was indeed allowed to attend Hogwarts.  

It was now time for her to pick her wand {or as any HP fan knows, for the wand to pick her} from Ollivander’s wand shop.  She ended up with a 9″ maple wand with a hair from the mane of a kelpie inside.  The wand is good for all sorts of spells and is said to bring the user great wealth.

She was encouraged to dress the part for her attendance at Hogwarts as well, so we’ll be sewing a cloak and a few other items for her.  She is so excited!

We’re finishing up the week with a little math and history and spending time with Daddy before he starts an extensive overtime period. 

Be sure to check out other weekly wrap-ups being hosted over at See Jamie Blog this week!