Friday, August 3, 2018

Making Schedule Adjustments

We have survived our first week of school!   And only three apples have been swiped and abandoned (guess what they got with their lunch today?).
Teddy's says "Play All Day School"

The plunder
Today we completed the week with a Weekly Meeting.  I used this form courtesy of Jen MacKintosh, and I also intend to use the Weekly Prep form tomorrow to prepare for the coming week.  The biggest thing that stood out while chatting with my older three scholars is that the little boys are a big distraction.  They really are.  They need constant supervision or they will hurt each other, themselves, or the house (or all three at once!)

We've tried different things this week, including having the two big kids alternate spending time with Froggy and Teddy, but it's not helped.  Maybe in a different season when they are not such puppy dogs!  And at some point the big kids really do need to focus on their own studies.  So I spent some time this evening brainstorming and going over the plan again and moved some things around.  (Use the link at the bottom of this post to see my previous plan.)

{Click to enlarge}


A few big changes were made. I made our Morning Time (Circle Time on the chart, I use both terms interchangeably) more for the reading and our afternoon Tea Time is where we will do our Memory Work Binders.  Also, instead of directing the big kids on what work they will do when, I gave them a big block of time for Independent Work.  It was not working trying to stay on top of the time slots (little boys, remember?).    I was also more realistic with myself.  I am NOT going to get up and go for a walk before I've had my coffee!  But, I don't mind getting up and doing my MuTu core.  So Mass and going for a good walk will alternate days.  I have that big block of Exercise Time that includes shower time, but I'm also going to be realistic here....probably not going to happen as much as I'd like.  Let's face it.  I'm wiped by 7.  But walking and my core are the most important pieces of this for me, so if I get that intensive workout in great.  If not, I'm not going to sweat it. :)

The whole reason this plan has changed is to figure out WTDWTLB (What To Do With The Little Boys).  So in the first block of time, the younger three will stay with me in the school room while the older two take their work to their rooms and close the door.  I will work with Froggy and Sunflower and then set the boys free for play time (preferably outside when it's not 500 degrees).  I'm going to have to suck it up and give up some of my afternoon quiet time so I can teach Ladybug and Fritter while the little boys are resting.  This is a bit dicey, because we are forcing out Froggy's naps due to night time sleep issues, so he is still up and a potential distraction, but it's the best I've got.

The biggest point of all of this is that you can't be afraid to tweak the schedule.  Take the time to build one.  Print it off.  Follow it as you can, see how it flows and then tweak it.  And relax.  If you are anything like me, you are probably not going to follow completely anyway.  But the schedule brings peace to those moments when you are not quite sure what you are supposed to be doing in a certain time, or how to best adjust when something is not working.

Have you had to tweak your schedule recently?  Any other tips for homeschooling with toddlers/preschoolers/boys?!  Oh my!

You can see the other posts in my recent planning series linked here.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Average Day Plans PLUS Chore Charts *Updated

Update Notes:  As is usually the case, I have already updated the plans, plus included mom's routines.

Last time I showed you our Morning Time binders and plans.  Now I'm going to show you how we organize our day, and that includes chores.  These are years worth of work and tweaking and planning and learning and tweaking and tearing up and reworking.  What works in this season is NOT going to work in the next season, and what works for me will NOT work for you.  Trust me.  I learned that the hard way.  Also note: most days will not look like this.  A few will, many will be close, and plenty will not even be recognizable to this.

So why build a schedule or a routine?  Because as Eisenhower once said, "In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable."  And let's face it.  We juggle a lot of hats.  Our days are a battle.  We battle to stay afloat from the chaos that threatens to drag us down.  So we make a plan, we work to stick to it, and we have (a bit) of peace at least knowing what comes next.

This average day chart I built from most of what I've done in the past, but this year added in what I learned from Brandy Vencel's planning posts.  Some of it may remind you of Flylady.  Some is similar to what I've learned from taking Mystie Winkler's Sweep & Smile course.  Some is learning from A Mother's Rule of Life (if you haven't read it, stop reading this post and read that book!)  Some is gleaned from the various websites, books, courses I have taken.  And much is just me doing my best to lay out a good plan for the school year.

So this first one is our Average Day Chart for Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. (click to enlarge).  We are each color coded and I tried to account for how long their school takes (assuming they are not dawdling) so they have plenty of time.  If they do dawdle that have all that wonderful free time in the afternoon in which they can make up any work. ;) I work individually with the youngest first and move up.  Teddy is really the fly in the ointment here.  I still haven't fully worked out his plan, but I think it involves trading off with big kids and engaging toys.  And a playpen and baby gate.  Let's be real.


 And this is our average day chart for some Thursdays (I say some, because twice a month we have AHG in the afternoons, which isn't accounted for here).  Note that I do not have one for Fridays or weekends.  First because our Fridays are much simpler, so I don't need the big picture plan as much. Second, I've tried to schedule my husband, but it just comes across as me being bossy and doesn't really account for the fact that he is an adult.  So I just don't do it.



 The biggest thing that the average day charts do not show are the routines that happen within those times.  And this is the real key to my (hopeful) sanity.  Because even if our day gets off to a late start, we can pick up with these routines and (again, hopefully) sail.  Each school-aged child has their own "Chore Chart". They have been put into page protectors and put up on the walls of their rooms.  This is a little different from what I've done before.  Previously I've used Flylady's weekly zones and assigned chores that way.  Life is just too complicated now for me to keep up with that level of detail, so I have assigned each zone to a day and we'll tackle part of it.  Other chores can be used towards earning extra cash.  Cash is only given for things done above and beyond the norm.  I'm not going to pay my kids to do what they should be doing anyway.  But if they want to earn a few extra bucks, there is a path for that. (pardon the glare.  Click to enlarge.)




Next up is Mom's Routines and loops, which of course is different from the kids'.



We will test the new system Monday and adjust if we need to, but we have a good start here.  When craziness threatens to take over, we'll just turn back to our plan!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

2018-2019 Morning Time Plan PLUS Binders! (Bonus Tea Time Plans)

I've had a few requests to go through our Morning Time plans and our new Morning Time Binders.  The blog is probably the easiest way to do that with the added bonus that I can link to our resources (note that some links are amazon affiliate links).

 Here is my binder and the one that I will walk through here.  Each school age child (I'm teaching four this year!) has their own that is almost the same.  The only difference that I included their poems in their binder, not everyone else's.  My binder has everything for everyone.


The kids' binders are color coordinated, just like everything else around here!  They were also given the freedom to personalize their covers.




 The back covers have our opening prayers (click to enlarge).


The first page is our overall plan.  The numbers are minutes.  Why, yes I did sit down and do a pretend Monday Morning Time and time how long it took to go through each item.  I needed to make sure we could do it all in an hour.  Adding up the minutes equals 66, which is pretty close to an hour and includes lots of margin.


 After that are detailed weekly pages of the plan.  At the bottom of this page is the key to what my abbreviations mean.  




  • Science - This year we are studying Chemistry using Noeo's Chemistry 2 plus all the resources they recommend.
  • Poetry - We are following the poetry schedule laid out by Mother of Divine Grace plus each child will memorize one poem of their choice from the poet they are studying.
    • Fritter (Grade 6) - Robert Frost
    • Ladybug (Grade 4) - Emily Dickenson
    • Sunflower (Grade 2) - Christina Rossetti
    • Froggy (Grade K) - AA Milne



  • Bible - We are going to work on memorizing six Psalms this year: Psalm 23 (a review), Psalm 34, Psalm 100 (a review), Psalm 139, Psalm 51, Psalm 136.  Some of this was taken from recommendations from Catholic Icing.
  • Catechism - We have used the Mother of Divine Grace recommended schedule for memorizing parts of the Baltimore Catechism.  But I have found that keeping up with so many children each memorizing different parts to be impossible.  And now Fritter, as a sixth grader, is supposed to begin memorizing parts of Baltimore Catechism 2.  It's really unsustainable for us at this point to do that.  So instead, we are memorizing the first 14 chapters of BC 1, while still reading and discussing the parts that are recommended for their grade.  So Fritter will still get discussion of chapters from BC2, but will work on continuing to memorize BC1.  Each question and answer part of the chapter was typed out a put into the binders for ease of use.
  • Other Memory - Here we have memory work for History, Geography, and Science.  Some of this comes from various years of recommended work in Mother of Divine Grace and some from Living Memory. (Note: We are not memorizing all of the info on these pages at the same time.  We are just doing the portions where the little Post-It Flag is until we've got it and then we'll move on.  This is all just possibilities.  I put all of these pages here simply so you can see what types of information we may get to.)


  • History - We have used Connecting with History for several years and will be doing Volume 3 this year (High Medieval to Early Explorers) along with resources they recommend.
For Tea Time we are alternating Art and Music.
There you have it!  We will have one hour, three mornings a week, during breakfast and before Mass to go over the Morning Time material.  Tea Time will be after naps, also three times per week.  The hope is that this becomes the cornerstone of our homeschool day.  My goal is that if something has to be skipped due to....whatever, then we skip something other than this.  Morning Time, Mass, Tea Time.  This is what our homeschool day will turn on.  I need to be reminded of this when October and February hit!  Hopefully this cornerstone keeps burnout for us all at bay.  The focus here is on the good, the true, and the beautiful.  Soul food.

Tell me: are you doing a morning time or a tea time (or both!) with your students?  Do you have favorite resources?  Let us know in the comments!

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Books Read in 2018

For Books Read in 2017 click here.

Continuing the theme of the books I have read, here are those completed in 2018.  Only those I actually finished are listed.  There are many more I started and continue reading off and on!  I will add to this list as the year goes by.  Note that these books lists are linked to over in the sidebar. -->

**These are amazon affiliate links.  I get a little kickback from any purchase made through those links.  That kickback helps fuel my reading habit!  :)

Books Finished in 2017 - Incomplete

I have kept a commonplace for quite some time now, but it was in my own disorganized way.  As I was reading I would jot down quotes that stood out to me, and list the title and author of the book.  My first commonplace was just a random collection of good thoughts from other people.  I did not even note the page, let alone have a spot to document the books finished.

When that commonplace was complete, half-way through last year, and it was time to start another one, I did things a little different.  I added a reading log to the back of the notebook, began using book darts to save the quotes I liked, and added the quotes when I was finished with the book.  So now all my quotes from the same book are together and they include the page number.

Now that I have a good list of books I have read, I thought I would share them here as well.  This list is incomplete because I only have info starting from September of 2017, as well as those read from the Well Read Mom (WRM) list.

*Note that these are only the books completed.   Several other books are not listed here because I did not finish them.

**These are amazon affiliate links.  I get a little kickback from any purchase made through those links.  That kickback helps fuel my reading habit!  :)

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Preparation for the Triduum and Scenes from Holy Thursday

So many thoughts of food....



 Hot cross buns for Friday from A Continual Feast.

 One a penny, two a penny...
 We have a Good Friday birthday girl, who is willing transferring her birthday to Saturday. The coffee cake muffins are for breakfast that day.

 Cleaning as I go.
 Playing in between work with his Mass kit.

 Enjoying our spring weather.

 My kitchen helpers.
 Holy Thursday supper...
 A tweaked dinner...

 Washing of the feet...


 Even the toddler gets involved...

Have a very blessed Triduum!