Growing Every Day

Posts tagged ‘life’

Follow Through

From 1st grade through graduating high school, I was a bowler.  I bowled on a league the entire time.  One of the phrases my couch would say continuously, “Follow through”.

Follow through.

Who knew this was a key to success in so many areas of life.  When I was out in the working world, there were deadlines imposed on me.  If I was late with a project or simply didn’t get something done, there were immediate consequences.

Making the shift to staying at home made something very clear to me…I am not so good at follow through.  If a blog post or chapter of my book doesn’t get written, then they don’t get written.  There is no immediate consequence.  However, after being home for several years now I am realizing the consequence is there; it is just far more subtle.

The consequence is not moving forward in life.

If I do not discipline myself to follow through and complete certain projects, then I remain in the same place in life.  No book published, no blog making money, no digital art to sell.

Another lesson from bowling, every time I remembered to follow through, I would hit my mark and almost always get a strike or high scoring roll.  Without the follow through, I would miss my mark and it would not go so well.  That is so parallel to life.  When I push myself to follow through and write for those planned two hours a day, then I move forward.  Things get completed.

What I realize now is that the act of “follow through” is not natural, at least not for me.  This is something that I must discipline, train myself to do.  When I sit down for my two hour writing block, I will inevitably find my mind wandering (and sometimes my body) and have to bring myself back to the project at hand.  I now say out loud, “follow through”.  Even this simple intentional act of speaking out loud to myself has made an impact in how much I am moving forward.

A second thing that has helped me in the discipline of “follow through” are these amazing monthly, weekly, daily calendar printables from Productive Flourishing.  I have tried so many calendars without much success, or with little success.  I am not very good at sticking to an incremental timed calendar.  The calendars found at Productive Flourishing are said to be geared toward the creative mind flow.

Creatives tend to think less on a timeline and more in chunks or projects.

These calendars help you “chunk” your time and order it for the day as well as helping plan the scope of your project(s) for the week/month.

The third element for me in this “follow through” epiphany is realizing that my kids have the same non-follow through nature as I do.  There are numerous Lego projects, art projects, building projects, craft projects, etc. all over the house.  I have no problem with having more than one project going; however, I now have the desire to help discipline (train, not punish) my kids so that they can actually complete these projects.

In the realm of learning and practicing this discipline called “follow through”, I have asked Builder and Princess to pick a project that they want to work on.  We now have “project time” for 30 minutes each day.  They are welcome to work on it more as they wish, but they must work on it for that designated 30 minutes.

Builder has chosen to break down all of his currently built Lego sets and organize them into tubs according to categories.  For example, all police sets will go in one tub, all city or fire sets will go in each of their own tubs, etc.  This is a huge project, and he is continually making forward progress.

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Builder’s Project

Princess has chosen to build all of her Lego sets.  For her to actually complete any one Lego set is quite an accomplishment.  This week already, she has finished two and started working on a third just because she was having fun!

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Princess’s Project (1 of 2 sets built)

The kids’ project times have also helped me to realize that I need to pick a project to work on that is for me personally and not related to business/work.  I know this will be an on-going learning process for us all, and I am determined to follow through!

And You? ~ How are you on following through?

 

 

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Game Changer

woman-1172718_1920For me, this time of year is a time of reflection.  Reflecting on what changes need to be made in the areas of curriculum, school organization, schedule, etc.  However, once the reflection bug bites, it seems to lead me into reflecting in many areas of my life.

 

This week I am reminded of the many changes that have taken place in my life.  Changes that were never on my radar.  The beginning and end of this week are my kiddos birthdays.  This year it commemorates my 9th year of staying home with my children.

Wow.

If we set the “way back” machine to reminisce my early 20s to mid 30s, I really had no thoughts or intentions of staying home with, let alone homeschooling my children.  I was thirty-two years of age when I had my first child, and knew immediately that staying home was the only decision for our new little family.  For me, this was stepping into a completely unknown territory.  I was far from confident in my mothering capabilities, let alone entertaining the idea of spending every waking day, hour, and minute with my kids!

(insert panic)

Things settled into a routine and though it was (and still is) the most challenging role I have ever been in, things were ok.  Then almost two years later, my daughter was born.  I felt a tad more confident, but it was also a totally different ballgame.  Again, things settled into a rhythm.

And of course, as we approached Builder’s time to go to school, I knew in my spirit that we would be homeschooling.  And, though I really did want to homeschool with all my heart, fear reared its ugly head…again.  We pushed through and are now entering our 5th year of homeschooling.

My desire in writing this blog post is that wherever you are, whatever crossroads you find yourself at, know that there is everything in you that can do it.  You may struggle, you may have to learn something new, you may have to be vulnerable and find someone to walk the walk with you, but it is not out of your reach.

The hardest part is starting.

Do you want to write?  Start writing.  Do you want to homeschool?  Find someone in the game to talk with.  Do you want to (fill in the blank)?  Then find the first step toward that.     If it is not the right path, the Lord promises us that He will let us know.

Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”  ~ Isaiah 30:21 (NIV)

You don’t always have to have everything in place to start.  Find that one thing that you can do to start walking down that path.  Then, trust that you will hear His voice behind you letting you know if you are off His path for you.

All of this to say, we have a journey that is each unique and individual to ourselves.  I encourage you this summer to reflect on where you have come from, where you are presently, and your desires for the future.  Let’s all move forward as we reflect on the past and navigate our future.

Signing off with many blessings and prosperity to you and yours.

And You? ~ What has been a game changer in your life?

 

Finishing Up

Oh sweet heavens, tomorrow is our last “official” day of school!  

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(insert Hallelujah chorus!)

We will take a six-seven week break and start up again after July 4th.  Of course, you know in the homeschooling world summer “break” is not always as it seems.  Learning still happens.  A math lesson here, finish up a handwriting book there.  Learning never really ceases, whether it be book work, or life learning.  The nice thing is that it is not structured, and it gives a much needed break both to kids and to Mama!

A question I get this time of year is, “What does your summer look like?  Planning any trips?”  Do you know what…

I have not planned anything!

And that is what makes my heart happy!  I am not one to fill our summer with camps here and summer classes there.  I am ok with my kids getting bored and having to find ways to entertain themselves.  And for that matter, how to get along with each other when they are bored out of their minds.  So much creativity comes from boredom.  So, I guess you could say my summer plans are to instigate boredom.  (We may go bowling, take some walks, maybe a fun cooking class at our local chocolate store…yum…but overall, not a whole lot planned.)

However, on the schooling front, I do have some goals in mind that I would like to accomplish.

Goal #1 – clean out the school cubbies

This, unfortunately, has become our place to “stuff” school items.

cubbies

 

With my son moving into fourth grade and my daughter moving in to second grade, there are many things stored in these cubbies that we simply don’t need anymore.  And, since space for school organization is at a premium here at our homestead, some things need to go.  Not to mention dusting, eek.  I won’t tell you how long it has been since I’ve done that!

Goal #2 – curriculum

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Yes, that.  We don’t use an all-inclusive curriculum.  I like to piece together this and that to fit each kid’s personality and learning style.  With that, I have a few items I want to reevaluate.  With Builder moving into fourth grade, a couple more subjects are going to be added to the mix, so I want to take a look at his schedule and how to fit it all in.  I am not a fan of doing everything everyday.  Our schedule is a little more block schedule-esque.

Goal #3 – the house

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As seen in a former post, Spinning Plates, I am not strong in keeping multiple aspects of life going at once.  Yes, I am a woman, but multi-tasking is not a strength of mine.  In light of that, when school is going, the house suffers.  Yes, my kids help, but they are still learning.  So much still rests on me, or me informing the kids of what needs to be done.  This takes mental, physical, and in some cases emotional energy, which during the school year just isn’t there many times.  So I am hoping much will be accomplished on the inside, and around the outside of the house.

Goal #4 – scrapbooking

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This is a personal goal.  With Builder and Princess getting a little older, I am finding a little more “me time” here and there.  I used to scrapbook before having the kids, and this is something I want to get back to doing.  I have a feeling the kids will get into it as well and can learn how to collect and keep their own treasured memories.

And there you have it.

My plans and hopes for this summer.  I know full well, it will be over before I know it and that is just fine.  I am blessed and joyful that we get to spend our time together learning and growing as a family, in season and out.

And You? ~ What are some of your summer goals?

Spinning Plates

We are back!

We have just started back to school this past week after having our six week summer break.  It was well needed for all of us.  Stepping back into schoolwork and prep is a stark reminder to me of one of my weak areas in life:  spinning plates.

What I mean by this, is that I would love to say that I multi-task well…I do not.  I have three major areas that I feel I need to focus on in this season of my life – school, home, crafting business.  During the summer we take a break from school, there are few to no craft shows I attend in June or July, so that leaves me with home.

I had gotten into such a great rhythm, getting up early (just before the kids wake) to have some me time (I never thought I would do that in my life, but I have enjoyed it).  Then doing my exercise video, reseting the kitchen, and working on the household chores for that day.  It was a beautiful thing.  I felt I was making progress, and then school starts and my next craft show is in four weeks.  So, you can probably guess what my house looks like at this moment!  Now, I understand my house does not have to be perfect, but I can tell you that clutter distracts and can agitate me.  I get a lot less done when too many things are out of place.  So, back to the spinning plates of life.  Maybe, just maybe one day I will learn how to keep these three plates a-spinning at the same time.  But for now, we may have a few metaphorical plates broken all over the not-so-clean kitchen floor.

Toothy Mats

On the up-and-up side of things, I did find this really fun resource at the end of last school year (May-ish).  They were created by Lucky Little Learners over at the TeachersPayTeachers website.  It is such a simple idea, and so ingenious at the same time!  This is just the motivation my kiddos needed for some extra practice with no groans.

These Toothy Mats include a mat with a fun face and a wide open mouth.  Each skill has a set of problem cards and either a blank mat or a mat that has some problem set up help.

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The student works the problem and then checks his/her answer.  If they are correct, then they get to draw a tooth in the mouth.  Each correct answer continues to fill the mouth with teeth.  It is just a lot of fun!  I simply printed mine out and slid it into a page protector so that Princess and Builder can use a dry erase marker.  Lucky Little Leaners has a post on her blog site explaining more about how she uses them in her classroom.

The Toothy Sets are offered as a bundle, or there are some individual toothy mat characters that you can purchase for a lesser price.  I went ahead and purchased the Math Bundle, because it included skills that both kids are working on.  I could also see Princess continuing to make use of these even after Builder has moved on from the included concepts.  Another beautiful thing about these mats is that the blank mats can be used with any worksheet.  So Builder will still be able to practice the Toothy way even when he advances beyond the skills included in the bundle.

I have not looked through the complete line of products Lucky Little Learners offers, however, I do know that the Toothy Mats come in math, grammar, and phonics.  Follow this link to check out some of the Toothy (or Hairy) options she has to offer.

Your Turn to Play ~ What is one of the best resources you have found to keep skills sharp?

Always Learning

So, Builder and I had real troubles this morning pushing through today’s math lesson. We both ended up in tears, frustration, and a blubbering mess. I leave the lesson frustrated. He is upset because he has upset me, and yet he still doesn’t want to have done the lesson. 
 
Then, we each go about our own business, calming down and taking a break from each other. He eventually starts playing with Princess in the living room. As I am going around emptying the trash, I head into Builder’s room and find this spread out on his bed.
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He had come across the section of continents in his new encyclopedia, got out his geography game, found the correct corresponding continent and was matching the playing cards to the correct country on the board.  He was then finding that country in his encyclopedia. Wow. Can we say, “school”.
 
This homeschooling journey never ceases to humble me. Learning is a much more natural occurrence than we give it credit for. We feel it must be scheduled, and sequenced, confined…And sometimes, yes, but more often than not, this is what happens. Learning happens.  Evidently it was a geography day, not a math day.
 
Sadly, I again realize that too many times it is not my desire for Builder and Princess to know more that pushes me to push when it is the wrong timing.  It is my own insecurities and fears.
Lord, thank you that this journey is ours with You, not apart from You.  I thank you that what you have to place in Builder and Princess is too precious for me to stand in the way.  I thank you that their learning is in Your more than capable hands.  Thank you for the reminders of when I am hindering instead of helping.  Please, Lord, continue to show us how to proceed, when to turn left or right, and when to keep on heading straight.  I am thankful you have already written our path, and we will follow you to the best of our ability.

Ebb-and-Flow

Wow.  It truly doesn’t take long for life to hit warp speed.  That is what seems to have happened at our house.  We have recently returned from a nine day trip up and around New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma.  It was a wonderful trip centered around a beautiful family wedding in Colorado.

With that said, when we returned our rhythm was gone, for myself, the kids, school.  Of course the learning that occurred on the trip and the possibilities for further learning were huge.  However, the day-to-day flow had disappeared.  We are currently in the process of finding our new focus and flow, which seems to be a part of this crazy journey called homeschool.

I have come down to the fact that the next two months are months of completion.  It is time to focus on the units and topics we want to close out and wrap up.  My goals for Builder are to complete his math mastery challenge on Khan Academy, finish our Level 1 spelling, and complete our Volcano lapbook.  In regards to Princess, my goal is to keep on track with her math at Khan Academy, finish up a bone unit she is working on, and complete the set of sight words we are currently working on, from Tweet Resources.  I fully expect to have other learning opportunities arise, but these are my specific goals and focus.  Completing these items will place us in a good position for starting anew in January.

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Outside of completing our focus items, we are starting to memorize and learn the meaning of the Pledge of Allegiance to the United States.  There is a nice set of resource papers over at Kindergarten Nana that fits what we need.  We will use these printables as our diving board into deeper learning conversations.  Each day we will read, The Pledge of Allegiance, published by Scholastic to help aide in memory.

P.S. There will soon be an update on our Water of Life project.  We are done collecting and will let you know the final amount given.

Your Turn to Play ~  What would you like to complete by the end of the year?

Water of Life

Each morning (or most mornings), we start our learning with Bible Time.  I didn’t want this time to become stagnant by doing the same thing every day.  It would be easy to come together, read a chapter of the Bible, discuss, and move on.  Though we do this some days, I wanted this time to include a variety of activities that lead Builder and Princess into knowing God’s heart.  I don’t want them to only know facts about Jesus; I also want them to know His heart.

Many mornings we do read a chapter, find the places on the map, discuss what it would be like in life now.  Builder loves to look at maps and find all the places mentioned in our reading.  Princess loves to play while she listens, and truly she can tell me about what we discussed.  So, I am good with that.

Recently, my desire is that Builder and Princess know the heart of Father globally…for all people.  We have been discussing the issue of access to clean water.  We talked about going out to the puddles on the driveway to get a drink of water when they are thirsty.  Neither kid thought that was a good idea.  Then we talked about the 663 million people on the earth who don’t get to drink the clean water that we have flowing out of our sinks, water bottles, or refrigerator.

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As stated by water.org

We have discussed how clean water is a vital part of being healthy.  Discussions have taken place regarding the fact that many boys and girls have to spend most of their day traveling to and from water sources such as rivers, lakes, and ponds, to gather water for their families.  Because of this, many children are not able to attend school.  When a family, village, or town is provided with access to clean water, children no longer have to perform this duty and are more likely to be able to attend school.  Or they are at least one step closer.  Now, whether those schools have access to clean water is another part of the story.

With all of these details in mind, we have started a fundraiser.  The kids have a bowl in which they are saving money here and there.  We will be saving for this “Water of Life” project until November 1st.

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We humbly ask and invite you to participate with us in our campaign.  Our goal is $300.  After the fundraiser is complete, the company through which we are donating, charity:water, will let us know what country we have helped.  Perfect geography lesson!  charity:water is an organization supported by sponsors so that 100% of donated money goes to providing water for those in need.  If you want to check out more about this organization, click here.

To meet and/or exceed our goal we need only 30 people to give $10, or 60 people to give $5.  Any amount is appreciated in this quest.  Builder and Princess are well on their way, having saved $7 in their money bowl.  Clicking the button below will take you to our campaign page, where you can donate.  Thanks for helping Builder and Princess see the love of Jesus spread throughout the world, by taking care of those who have need of clean water.

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