The Things They Say

So many times, this particular child says something… and I laugh and clutch it to my heart. And try to remember… and so many times. I can’t remember. But this one… I have tried to capture.

The Precious, Hilarious Things He Says. His perspective is so funny.

So- Recently I took a little boy to Home Depot and Target on some errands.

He stood next to me while I tried to decide on a kitchen faucet. He was very bored.

That trip earned Home Depot a place on his

Places I Do Not Want To Visit Again list.

I didn’t even know he had such a list. Apparently, he does. 🙂

The Things They Say

Bookshelves and School Bin Organizing (fourth and final post in the planning mini-series)

Bookshelves and School Bin Organizing!

If you need to catch up, or want to look back quickly- here are my prior posts right at your fingertips! Intro, Post 1, Post 2, Post 3 🙂

Before I begin to just share from the heart- I thought I would link three of the items I use and find so very helpful. I am always eager to hear from homeschool moms with tips and ideas.

Item 1: Billy Bookshelves by Ikea. Ikea makes these in all different sizes and they can be mixed and matched. Here is an example: narrow Billy Shelf

Item 2: Sterilite 34 quart clear bins with locking lids. This is for a set of six… you get the idea. 🙂

Item 3: the shelves in my kitchen are metal shelves we purchased at Lowe’s and they have been repurposed. They are simple and nice for a kitchen and can hold potatoes and rice, water jugs, and Teacher’s Guides. Grin. Keepin’ It Real here. They look something like this. We also have a very tall one.

So, now to chat a bit: I am just perfectly at this stage in homeschool planning myself…right now.  My curriculum is sitting in boxes before my bookshelves, waiting to be unloaded and organized. It is time to go through my kids’ school bins and purge, prune, and re- stack. There are two areas of my home involved in this step. Our music room/library and the kitchen. The music room contains our main bookshelves and houses the children’s plastic storage school totes. The kitchen has some metal shelving that is the landing place of Teacher’s Manuals and Answer Keys; file folders of accumulating work;  as well as joint school work we do daily that is currently in use (like the week’s read alouds, etc.)

I am an intuitive person and so I organize my shelves in the way that makes the most sense for me and gives me a feeling of ease.

This is a massive job. Especially because the very first step (after ordering the school books) involves taking down all of last year’s books and either packing them up for another year, re-shelving them for the next student, deciding to resell them, or choosing to shelve them into the “regular books” we have on shelves. Decisions. They can be so very draining!

It is typical for my entire floor to become covered in stacks of books as I sort and organize.

It can feel overwhelming. But take heart! I have learned to exercise my faith as I face the mountain before me.

Psalm 37:3 Trust in the Lord and do good; Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

So- I take it student by student. I tend to start at the top and work my way down. 🙂

This year, my oldest, rising tenth grader will have the top shelf. My ninth grader, the next shelf down and so on. My dear little baby… my two year old… will have the very bottom shelf stacked with well-loved board books and sweet literature on her level.

Each student gets a shelf and a large, clear plastic bin with a lid. If students are combined in a level and share literature books, they share a book shelf.  I also keep curriculum that we use daily on shelving in our kitchen. This shelving also holds all my answer keys and teacher’s manuals. There they are at my fingertips! Easy for me to access whenever I need them.

Generally, I begin with the bookshelves and then move to the bins.

The bookshelves will hold all literature, Bible (not consumable), and history books.  They are organized by level and student. I will also have a separate place for our art curriculum(we use Atelier).

The bins will hold all consumable workbooks and worksheets. They also hold the students’ current readers and other books that are in use daily. They keep their pencils and erasers in them as well.

The children are free to access the shelves as needed and I often send them to their particular shelf to get something for me. They must become very familiar with their shelf! Of course, this does not hold for the little ones. I think third grade and up is about what I would expect for this…

Soon, I will be pulling down books off my own shelves, making decisions, and reloading them for the next year.

I hope this little series has been a blessing! It has helped me as well.

I also have to plan our Morning Meeting time… which includes Devotions, Poetry, Gratitude, Compliments, Scripture, Health topics, Hymn singing, and Shakespeare. We are planning this for Friday mornings this coming school year. 🙂



Endless Gifts- May into June

A beautiful weekend away with Todd… and coming home to such open, happy faces in the children and sweet memories for them as well.

thankful to leave the children with grandparents they love so much

Feeling tightly wound inside and seeking God to understand why

little girls so fresh and fragrant after bath… damp hair curling, sweet faces shining, peeking out my bedroom window…that rounded face in profile. Happy, clean scamper down the hallway, little skirts twirling

Good talks with teens

Cardinals on the lawn and in the trees and flitting by in the sky

Her little face, pressed against the glass, waiting… and then the happy shrieks when she sees me coming

My little three year old telling me again and again, “It was SO MUCH FUN at Ama’s!” Loudly and emphatically.

Then later… on a second trip: “I love Ama’s house!”

All the flowers and all the life in their yard…

Getting her all set up with a snack after she had been quite distraught- and she- so happy… settled. She blows me a kiss to show her love…which is really just her hand pressed to her mouth- and then the kiss while she looks at me with happy love.  My heart. (E)

Baby dragon flying in the wind (M)

Visiting a bit with friends and it brightened both our hearts and countenances

Watching them run and scamper together… blond and brown. Best of friends.

Clutching her close and we are cuddled, her sweet head tucked under my chin, heart to heart. My arms wrapped round this bundle of grace, this blessing of love. I could sit for hours. I think of the babies, my babies, I have tucked just so.  I sit and burn the memory into my heart and soul. Little Mellie, gathered up, tucked in.

Flowers gracing porch and deck and table…

Cupping his chin in my hands and staring into those sweet blue eyes. One on one, telling him how much I treasure him.

Clean children- one of my favorite things.

A trip to Walmart in warm, sunshine rain with two sons of mine. (13 and newly 7) and how we traipsed through the Garden Center… sloshing in puddles and being sprinkled. How they helped me pick flowers and how he(J) called Petunias “trumpet flowers” and “hummingbird flowers” convinced that if we bought the bright pink and purple ones hummingbirds would come to visit.  We picked some hanging baskets and flowers for the porch… and then we wandered a bit through the store and I found… a beautiful butterfly candle holder on clearance… for the foyer. With N(13) by my side, full of thoughtful advice, and J(little 7) buoyed up in glee over the toy section. 🙂 Blessed memory.

And… then,  the perfect match in the flower pot from my mom(for the foyer) and those special clearance candles. The fingerprints of God.

Having our dear, sweet North Carolina friends here in this place

Red, red roses

birthday celebration success for Todd

butterfly balloons

This house

I never want to forget how…

she calls them “‘E and ‘Mo” …

and how A first called her “Ela” in her gruff little voice and then she was Wer-Wa  and Ria for so long. .

May and June Days. Close eyes. Still soul.

This almost last day of June… I start some preschool with my little girls. My heart.

The Things They Say- Sweet Sunday Edition

Tonight, we had a lovely, fun “summertime is coming!” Burger dinner. It makes my heart happy to see plates loaded with burgers and bright colored veggies, pickles, and ketchup, special sauce and fries, steamed veggies. All delicious goodness. Happy Sunday Feasting.

Before all this goodness appeared on the counter, I was happily grilling away on our George Foreman and slicing green peppers for the veggie platter.

Children were scattered all about the house and needed some prodding to come for the meal. I think they needed an announcement to know all was finally ready and it was time!

Todd strolled to the bottom of the stairs and commandingly called:

“Gentlemen! Lady! It’s time for dinner!”

All our boys and one dear daughter were upstairs.

Gentlemen. Lady. Perfect.

The Things They Say.

Notebooks (post #3 homeschool planning mini series)

Little aside… tonight, shortly after I publish this post, I am heading up to my comfortable room with a hot steaming cup of tea and I am going to write below mentioned notebooks for all my students. We went a little while just on rote routine and it is time to pull up the boot straps and focus our gaze. Notebooks help us do that. We are working diligently to finish out our school year. Our report cards are due around June 21st. Press through to the finish!

Intro, Post 1, Post 2

In January, just as we were getting up on our feet from a long bout of illness, I read this blog post on Amongst Lovely Things.

For the first semester of school, I had been using a planner provided by my Homeschool Oversight (that can also be bought through Rainbow Resource). It was moderately effective. I also had a highschool planner for my 9th grader that I used for additional notes on specific assignments and that he uses to log hours for his music and phys.ed requirements as well as extra curricular activities (like Boy Scouts). A lot of things were slipping through the cracks. I had printed checklists and had them tucked in a file folder. I have used checklists with the children for a very long time, now. However, it can be frustrating- with sheets of paper getting lost and adjustments needing to be made. Somehow, it seems really easy to ignore that piece of paper after awhile, too.

I read her (Sarah- at Amongst Lovely Things) blog post and it just clicked for me.  I needed all the explanations including why I need to write them every night. Sometimes this translates as first thing in the morning for me. I am wont to talk myself out of doing such things- getting worried that I am wasting time and I should be more efficient. It does take me more (sometimes much more) than ten minutes with six students, though. But it is incredibly worth it. I know it would drive some people batty to have to do such a thing and there can be a little niggling nag whispering that it would be so much more efficient to just have a master sheet to print every week. But a master sheet can never predict all the variations we encounter in any given day or week. And for us, it is just too easy to ignore after awhile…all those little details.

We are all so much more productive and the children are accomplishing so much and achieving a great sense of satisfaction as they check things off. It also serves as excellent accountability as I can easily see what is not being completed and verbally (and somewhat immediately) check in with that child/student. It provides great space to write individualized notes on assignments as well as love on each child with fun stickers and sweet comments.

Right after Norah was born, I discovered a post on using notecards in homeschooling. I am sorry to share that I can’t find that original post anywhere. 😦 So, I can’t link it here. However, the idea and process was akin to the notebooking one. Filling out an index card daily for each child. This was similarly effective for our family but we moved away from it after awhile.  It did generate lots and lots of notecards- found floating around the house. Using notebooks has the same “feel’, while also keeping a record of our school – all in one place. My little girls recognize whose book belongs to whom just by the color on the front- this is how deeply embedded they are in our life and school in just these past almost two months. (It has now been much more than two months… 🙂 )


Please read the post on Amongst Lovely Things if this appeals to you at all. Her detailed and simple explanations are so helpful.

If you are interested- below is a little more detail on how I use this tool:

I write everything in them for my children. School, Chores, Music Practice, Events, Boy Scout Requirements, etc. I do not go through each textbook and write the exact lesson they are to do. We school just about every day- often six days a week in some capacity-and work continuously through our books. We have multiple sources of curriculum. The children date every page of work (most of the time) and my older students initial and date the curriculum they use as they go through it. It would probably take me two hours a night to write the exact lesson for every subject for every student. I keep abreast of their progress by checking their work and checking in with them.

Finally a little note- well-learned by me: It is very important to maintain accountability with your older students. I am the driving force behind our school. They have to have the strong sense that my eye will be upon their work and upon their books to provide accountability and ward off temptation to let things slide. They need to be gently and sometimes firmly called back to the standard that has been laid out. They need to be urged and exhorted to put forth their best effort and pursue excellence.

Onward and Upward!

Blessings on your week,