Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

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What Moms Really Mean by ‘We’re Homeschooling’

 

750x500-ehow-images-a06-e3-ou-requirements-homeschooling-virginia-beach-1.1-800x800I think it’s time that we were finally honest about what we homeschooling moms really mean when we say, ‘Oh, ‘we homeschool’, especially when talking to our non-homeschooling compatriots. I mean, everyone knows that ‘it’s just the best option for us right now’ is too straight-forward and simple to be the truth. It has to be more complicated than that, right? So I thought I’d clear the air, for once and for all, with a list of the top five things that, though unsaid, are clearly lurking just below the surface of our not-so-innocent comment:

5. We’re craftier and better-organized than you.

Just look at our Pinterest boards if you don’t believe me. Or our blogs. Or our Pinterest board filled with pins from our blogs! And while you’re at it, check out our supply cabinets at home. With everything in it’s place, properly labeled, color-coded and alphabetized; it’s plain to see that homeschooling moms out-class you. Not only can we create a lesson plan that includes craft time, we’ve also allotted time for a healthy, organic snack (plated beautifully, or arranged to recreate either a beloved children’s book character or into a bento featuring whatever Disney feature Princess ranks #1 this week).

4.We’re way more patient than you.

We spend every waking moment with our kids. And we LOVE it. Every day, it is our utmost pleasure to not only be in the presence of, but engaging with our children; helping them understand the world and their place in it, and helping them make plans to change it for the betterment of mankind. We lovingly slave over difficult concepts like phonics, and long division, and Latin declensions just to give our blessed spawn a step up in the real world (with which they interact on a daily basis, unlike your child who is in a glorified jail!!). Our cups overfloweth with limitless time and attention to every detail of everything our kids say and do, and we’re never too tired or cranky to be fully supportive of and nurturing to our future leaders of humanity and industry.

We also do crafts with our kids; MESSY crafts, like papier-mache, with our kids. We let, nay, encourage our precious little angels to create messes. In fact, even our messes are better than yours; they’re artfully scattered and arranged in eye-pleasing heaps, so that you actually feel guilty for being judgmental when you read the (hand-home-made chic) sign that says, ‘excuse our mess, the children are making memories’. And we do glitter… WITH the kids.  ‘Nuff said.person you hate is talking

3. We care more about our kids’ education than you care about yours.

Obviously. Because how can you possibly be as involved as we are? And volunteering with your child’s school simply doesn’t compare – how could it? We literally have our fingertips on the very pulse of our children’s education; adding this and excluding that, studying into the wee hours comparing one curriculum with another, spending countless hours reading ahead and creating – not just ‘lesson plans’, but environments that foster total immersion into learning. Nothing can compete with that. NOTHING.

2. Our kids are smarter than yours.

And it’s all due to how much time and effort we’ve put into them. While our kids are solving complex equations by age 5, having in-depth discussions over the literary significance of Harry Potter by 3rd grade, and submitting this year’s next prize-winning science fair project at University level while still in middle school, your precious little pumpkin-head is still eating paste and making mud pies. The fact is, your kids could be this smart if only you invested in them more… which brings us to the number one thing that we’re really saying when we say ‘We’re homeschooling’:

1. We’re better mothers than you are.

That’s really it. I mean, this basically sums up all of the previous points in a nutshell – we are simply better at this whole parenting thing than you are. So suck it, poser!

 

At least, that’s what some people (most notably, non-homeschoolers with an inferiority complex) would have you believe. Obviously, the above is quite cheeky, and not an actual depiction of the unspoken meaning behind such a simple phrase. In reality, probably 90% of us truly are simply doing what’s best for our kids and family right now, and the vast majority of us are fine with changing what we do if/when the need or situation arises. The other 10% are either sanctimommies who give the rest of us a bad name, or have some other reason I can’t account for here. We’re not trying to challenge you or anyone else by homeschooling our kids; it’s just what we’re doing and your mileage may vary. And that’s fine. Honestly.

I’ve been accused of harboring most of the above points at one time or another, either outright or thinly veiled. As a mom who is just doing her best, comments or thoughts like these from ‘friends’ hurt. Especially when we are all supposed to be on ‘Team Mom’ in Solidarity. Just like other moms in various niche environments, I know that as a homeschooling mom, I have to watch things that I say that might be construed badly by the casual listener. I will absolutely admit that there have been times where I’ve said something in reaction that was divisive, or that made it sound like homeschooling is ‘better’ (I mean, it’s what we do, so of course I think it’s better… people don’t do the things they do because they think it’s the worst), but I try very hard to temper my enthusiasm for homeschooling (because most of the time, I actually do really enjoy it) with the slice of reality that is: homeschooling is NOT the right choice for every family. And the fact is, we may not always homeschool. We plan to homeschool throughout, but circumstances change, and if they do, I am not necessarily opposed to having my kids enrolled in a brick and mortar school again. But that doesn’t make one choice or the other ‘better’. The entire concept of ‘better’ is based on so many factors that are unique to each individual child, family, situation, options… a host of factors (most of which are probably unknown in casual conversation).

So the next time you hear a mom say, “We homeschool”, and you’re inclined to take that as some sort of slur or attack, check that urge and try listening to what they’re probably saying, which might be any number of things, including (but not limited to):

  • we had issues with our child’s school/teacher/other students that weren’t getting resolved and this is what’s best for us right now
  • my child has learning disabilities or other special education needs that weren’t being addressed or handled by the school and this is what’s best for us right now
  • we have odd scheduling or other family/situational factors that make this the best choice for our family right now
  • we have fundamental issues with the public education system and thankfully, we’re in a situation that means that this is what’s best for us right now
  • I/my spouse/my child or other person in our life has medical issues that make this the best option for us right now
  • I’d love an alternative, but our options are limited, and so based on available options, this is what’s best for us right now
  • my child has athletic or other area of study/expertise that require a non-traditional educational schedule, which makes this the best choice for us right now
  • We travel a lot, or are only in this area for a limited time due to work or other factors, which makes this the best option for us right now
  • I didn’t realize this was a competition; you do you and we’ll do what’s best for us right now

(This post was inspired by Rants From Mommyland’s ‘Domestic Enemies’ series.)

Warmly,
~h

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Planning Your Homeschool Year

plan your year

We follow a non-traditional school year. When I originally withdrew my boys from public school, it was just after the winter break. They were mid-semester, so we finished out that 6-week grading period, and then started homeschooling. Ever since then, we’ve started our ‘year’ in January.

Way back when I was a newbie homeschooler, I was anxious to get started. I knew what I wanted, and I was ready to go after it. We jumped in, both feet first and never looked back. The older, wiser, more experienced homeschooling mom in me now looks back on that eager, idealistic mom and thinks, ‘Aww… you sweet, summer child.’ As with so many, many things, I wish I’d known then even half of what I know now. All in all, I don’t think we had that bad of a start. There are things I’d do differently; de-schooling for a while, for one thing, but we didn’t hit the books hard and heavy right off the bat; we got started soon, but we did take it easy, so I don’t have too many regrets. But the pressure I put on myself was enormous. At the time, I had yet to be diagnosed or started treatment for anxiety disorder, and looking back I know that my internal stress-o-rama was partially due to that. Even so, I had no direction, no real clue as to what I really needed to do, so I did all the things. I’d never planned for homeschooling before, so I was making it up as I went along, and like many newbies, got way to ambitious and idealistic. Luckily, I had some really kind and caring guides along the way who helped me reign in my tendencies. Even though some of them no longer blog, Jana, Julie, SmrtMama, Farrar, and many other helped me find my way.

Now, I know better, but still browse homeschooling blogs to make sure I’m not missing out on anything I haven’t seen before. I do still plan the year, and I do still usually start in January. We take the month of December off – at least we try to. There’s almost always something that interferes with the plan (this year, it was illness) that forces us to play catch-up, but that’s okay – that’s partly why I plan that break. The time off gives me a couple of weeks to catch up anything we were lagging behind on, consider what’s working, what needs to change and come up with a new plan or figure out new material to replace it. I know that we’ll complete this ‘grade’ in the spring/summer and start the next ‘grade’ in the fall, so I plan to do another planning session in the fall, to refine and add new materials I come across during the course of the next six months. There are always new materials coming out, which makes planning difficult sometimes. Throughout the year, I keep notes and use Pinterest to keep track of things I want to look into later in the year. If you use it that way, don’t forget to go back through it and pull resources from your boards when you’re planning!

I usually have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to do for the year before I start, but I’ve also learned to value flexibility. If something isn’t working, I don’t waste time trying to force it. There are always other materials out there.

This year, we’re starting the One Year Adventure Novel for grammar. We’re doing other things as well, but that’s a new addition. Most of our plans from the fall remain the same, which is nice. Back when we started, I had grand ideas that didn’t work in our life, so things got switched up a lot. I don’t regret it, exactly; it was a huge learning curve and part of the journey that I think helped make this part run more smoothly. It also let me accept that flexibility is okay, and normal, and probably for the best, considering the many options and changes that happen during the year.

When I start planning, I look at several things. Take history, for example. This year, we need to work through the last half of Story of the World IV. We’re on schedule; my plan was to finish that in May-ish, and we’ll make that target. After that, we’ll be either between books, or can start with SOTW I again immediately. At this point, I think I want to take a couple of months and focus on geography, but I know that will play more of a role in our overall journey through the SOTW books this go-round, so we’ll have to see what happens when the time comes. In addition to the regular curriculum, we keep track of a timeline, we have our homeschool group’s social studies club each month, and will hopefully be adding actual travel to the kids’ experiences this coming year. Even though I can’t put those things on the books in exact dates, I know that’s what I want to accomplish this coming year.

I treat the other subjects similarly; I know if we’ve started, where we’re at and what needs to be done. If it’s new, and we’re starting in January, then we have the year to divide the lessons up. The One Year Adventure Novel curriculum is designed to be completed in 9 months, so by the time we break for the year at the end of November, we should be done. That’s about right, counting the various breaks we take through the year.

That brings me to another point – planning the actual school dates. I usually plan for 6 weeks of school, then a one-week break. That’s what we did originally, when we started, but it didn’t work. The kids were too young, I think, and I was too new and stressed. We amended it to 4 weeks of school and one week off, and that worked a lot better. As we’ve progressed, we’ve gone longer and had fewer breaks (or took 2 instead of one week)… depending on what we needed at the time. Regardless of how the actual breakdown of the year happens, I still always plan for a block of school, followed by a mini-break. This year, we’re on a 6-week on, one week off schedule. I also planned for a 2-week break in July, and for school to ‘end’ December 2, 2016. That’s roughly 190 days of school, not accounting for birthdays (which are holidays) or sick days (which we rarely have). That’s comparable to our local ISD’s school calendar, just spread a little differently.

The last part of my planning regimen is my planner, itself. You might say that’s the first part, even. I usually start working on designing my new planning ion November and try to have it completed and printed by mid-December at the latest. Because I also plan events for our homeschool group, I need to be able to see what’s going on months ahead of time. I also get the luxury of planning my kids’ lessons around whatever we have scheduled for the group, if I want to. For comparison sake, I took a couple of pictures of 2015’s planner (end of year) and 2016’s planner (brand new and *so* crisp!!):

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I’ve made changes to my planner every year; last year, I discovered Passion Planner and so I added a page to every week. My weekly layout is 4 pages and I love it! I also added a pocket folder and tabs for the months so I can quickly and easily find my current week. I use both the monthly layout and the weekly/daily formats; this really is the center of my world. Whereas I used to keep my personal planner and my lesson planner separate, I’ve since learned the value in integrating them – everything is in one place and it’s lovely. I have blank, printable versions of my current planner, and every previous version of it, available for free, here. There are also a few other printable pages, including a student planner I designed, but the kids don’t use right now. Every year, I find little tweaks and things that work better, and that’s pretty neat to see. I keep all of my old planners, and it’s fun to look back through them.

If you’re at a loss, even a calendar from the dollar store can be effective; I found a video that a woman with small kiddos did on how she plans – not for homeschooling, but the idea was the same. With only a few supplies, she created a color-coded layout that worked for her family. Whatever you use, even a plain spiral notebook, can work! I know a few homeschooling families who don’t pre-plan; instead they write down what they accomplished at the end of the day or week.

Since this is the beginning of the year, I thought I’d share a progress picture – this was our first day of homeschooling way back in 2010, and a shot from this week:

 

Homeschooling, Day 1

Homeschooling, Day 1 – January 2010

 

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Homeschooling, Beginning of our 6th year – January 2016

How do you plan?
Warmly,
~h

 


Winter Break 2015-2016

So I had this whole post planned… I went in last week and updated with all the things we had on the books for this week, and I made sure to prompt myself so that I wouldn’t forget anything – and it was going to be so good! I was going to get a gold star and everything… and then, illness struck. UGH! I hate being sick. I am never sick, so when I am, it’s like the universe wants to play catch up and make me suffer the pains and woes of all the days I went off scott free since the last time I was sick (which is, by my best estimate, sometime in 2011-ish. Maybe). I’ve spent the last week freezing, wheezing, coughing, shivering, burning with fever, congested, and snotty. HOW can your face be totally swollen and clogged up AND be dripping snot?? Who designed the human body, because I have complaints. I’ve coughed so much that the muscles in my sides and back are sore. Ridiculous.

Moving on to more pleasant topics, I really did have plans for this point, stretching back to last week. Unfortunately, a lot of them got scratched, seeing as I was moonlighting as Typhoid Mary for a few days. So I’ll leave what I had in tact and you can see what we missed.

***

Recently, we said goodbye to our trusty Honda Odyssey, and bought a Dodge Journey. As sad as I am to see the van go, I am glad to be out of a minivan and into something that’s … less mom-ish. I loved my Honda, for sure. It was great for family stuff and company, and as a homeschooling family always on the go, it was perfect for long trips with school on-board. But I never saw myself as a mini-van mom, so it’s nice to be into something that fits my mental perception of myself. I thought I had a picture of the van to post, but it seems that I don’t. I also haven’t gotten a picture of the new car either, so I guess it’s a thing I don’t do. <shrug>

Our Thanksgiving was pretty normal/low-key, as usual. My family doesn’t celebrate holidays, so we don’t have a conflict over who to spend holidays with like many do, for which I am grateful. Then again, we’re pretty chill, so I feel like it wouldn’t be an issue either way, but still. After Thanksgiving, we decorated the house for Christmas. We got a real tree this year! After many years preferring a fake, pre-lit tree, this has been a nice change. It smells heavenly! We’ve had a real tree in the past, spruce, not fir, and I wasn’t a fan. The needles were long and made decorating both difficult and the decorations hard to see. They also went positively everywhere. This time, we went with a noble fir this time (my preference of the fir options) and I think it’s perfect.
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In other news, I finally got to participate in NaNoWriMo! I do better with a ‘group’ – I like groups. They keep me motivated and accountable, and in the course of another project, I stumbled across Golden Triangle NaNoWriMo’s weekly meet-up a couple of weeks into NaNoWriMo 2015 (November). I wasn’t able to complete the challenge, which is 50,000 words in 30 days, but I made it to 17,000+ for total word count, with over half of that dedicated to the novel I am working on with The Hauswife (who needs to update her blog). Shenanigans and excuses aside, I am happy with my progress and effort considering the deadline and coming in halfway through, it’s not too shabby. I am already planning for 2016 though, and fully intend on meeting the goal. Luckily, there are a couple of Camp NaNoWriMo challenges between now and next November!

nano-2015-participant-banner

NaNoWriMo also has a Young Writer’s Program, which I hope I can convince the boys to attempt next year. One of the moms in our group recently recommended One Year Adventure Novel as a language arts/English/Grammar option, and I have been really considering it for January. If we started then, they’d be almost done by the end of November. Granted, that’s not the same as writing a novel in a month, but if they enjoy the year-long program, they might find themselves up to the challenge for November 2016. It might also be a good thing for our homeschool group to consider for the coming year. It would be great for the kids to have a writing group, I think.

AMSET Holiday Tree Lighting – we didn’t get to go because mom was sick. Boo. I’ve seen some of the pictures though, and it looks like we missed a great time.

Social Studies Club – Japan – this was originally scheduled for this week, but got rescheduled, so YAY! That means we’ll still be able to present. Rather than doing individual projects this time, the kids and I went with a group project. We are relating the history of kabuki – ‘the art of singing and dancing’. More on that next week (with pictures).

TH Teen Social at the mall – we missed it because mom was sick. Boo!

Homeschool Book Club is going well – we actually managed to not only finish the books for December, but also write out the discussion questions and prepare for them. Gold stars all around! The book club meeting is next week, so I’ll have more on that as well.

Even though we have a few things coming up on the calendar, including LBB’s 14th birthday, and Loverly Husband’s birthday, ‘officially’, we’re out of school until January 5th. We usually take all of December for Winter Break – at least that’s the plan. Inevitably, we still have school into the first week or so of December because of last-minute company or vacation days or something else that throws us off. This year is no exception, since I was sick this week, that means make-up work next week. Alas, the joy and flexibility of homeschooling means that it’s really not a problem!

Warmly,
~h

 


April Update

I suck at blogging this year. I know it’s not an excuse, but (like most of you) I’ve had too much on my plate lately. I used to make time for blogging, but I haven’t been motivated to do so lately. I tend to work in cycles, so this isn’t entirely unexpected  from my end. Things have been kinda topsy-turvey for the last couple of months, but we are settling into a routine again, so hopefully updates will come a little more frequently now.

Let’s see…

February was pretty busy. For field trips, we saw a play (The Real Story of the 3 Little Pigs, which is based on this book – one of my kids’ favorites when they were small), visited the symphony, went to Moody Gardens, celebrated Imbolc and Valentine’s Day, met with our newly-forming Spiral Scouts group to finalize our charter paperwork, had a ‘s’mores and movie day’ with our local homeschool group and had our monthly community service day volunteering with our local Humane Society.

picture by Amanda Horn

picture by Amanda Horn

Aidan - HumaneSoc January26_2013

picture by Jean Bennett

I also tested for my orange belt in karate, re-visited my doc for an update and medication switch to handle my depression and anxiety (because I am a good mother who does not want to end up on the evening news for freaking out and taking off my clothes and running down the street starkers), and got new contacts (because vision is of the good).

Orange belt!

March was full of school-y goodness, with a visit to the ballet to see Snow White, the NOAA Sea Turtle Research Facility in Galveston, celebrated Ostara & observed Easter, went hiking in the Big Thicket (I’m Mayor of the Kirby Trail on FourSquare!!), the Exotic Cat Refuge in Kirbyville, TX, a hike in Village Creek, and another successful volunteer date with the Humane Society.

Shambola

April has been equally exciting in some ways, but less ‘school-ish’. Due to inclement weather, we’ve ended up seeing movies (OZ and The Croods) instead of educational stuff, but those links are to lesson plan fun, so even strictly social/leisure outings can be built into school). I was also sick for a couple of weeks, so we missed out on some pretty awesome field trips (like NANO Days at the Houston Children’s Museum). I was bummed. I also missed our Humane Society date. Boo to that.

I’m on the mend though, and on a personal level, April rang in both the celebration of my 36th birthday and marked the occasion of my first ever 5K event. Loverly Husband and I went with my sister and some friends to the Mud Farm in Sour Lake, TX to do a ‘mud run’ obstacle course. It was so dirty and so much fun! #213 Heather Thomas 1:19:56 – 111 of 121 runners <— that’s me! He came in 38th with a time of 0:43:50.

Mud Run 5K - April 6, 2013

picture OF me, BY someone who is NOT me…
Carrie, maybe?

In homeschool news, we’ve been working our literature unit pretty consistently. It’s been a long time since I’ve worked with the kids on a unit study; I’ve forgotten how ‘big’ this type of schooling can be. Even though this is ‘just’ Beyond Five In A Row, and ‘just’ The Boxcar Children #1, which is way below the boys’ reading/grade level, it’s still lent itself to some surprisingly in-depth lessons. We don’t necessarily have anything to show for it (other than the lapbook components), but it’s steady progress, which is a good thing. One of the more memorable lessons was on the construction of the Hoover Dam. The boys watched a half hour documentary about it and were pretty riveted. Another lesson was on planting blueberry bushes, which led to growing zones and was a nice tie-in to starting our garden this year. We’ll be planting more, but this was a nice start.

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We’ve also been hitting math and Latin pretty hard, which has been surprisingly fun. I found a Cambridge Yahoo group that and has been helpful in finding add-on lessons to go with book I. They also have a files section with worksheets and practice lessons and games.

I’ve been working with the boys on timed multiplication drills using Math-Drills.com worksheets. 5 minutes to do as much as they can. We’re working on adding one number each week and it’s going really well. We started with 1’s and that was a real confidence builder for them both. I am also using a workbook that I found called Multiplication Puzzle Practice by Bob Hugel/Scholastic. It’s divided into riddles and puzzles and the lessons are cumulative, each one adding another number. With this and the drill sheets, they’re doing quite well. I’ve also found that they are motivating each other (in between snarky comments and death-threats whispered under their breath to each other). Sorry… it’s been one of those days, LOL.

I’m also going to start using Lesson Pathways again, I think – at least for Language Arts and Science. I need something more… guided, I think. I tend to flit about from subject to subject in science and I really want something a little more cohesive. Their 5th grade Language Arts is using Dear Mr. Henshaw – a book I remember doing in 5th grade and I loved it. I think the boys will like it when we’re done with Boxcar.

In personal news, we had another Journalistas ‘dinner & coffee’ event, I picked up two of the other Keri Smith journals (Mess and This Is Not A Book). I’m more or less done with WTJ, but am having a really hard time getting into the other two books. I think I am going to start Mess first; TINAB makes me cringe for some reason. I’m not ready to explore that feeling just yet. Somewhat recently, I also went to see Beautiful Creatures and to a Happy Birthday dinner with PBJMom, and spent a Saturday morning cooking quiche and toffee crackers for a friend’s Blessingway. Loverly Husband and I had 2 date nights with our ‘best couple friends’ (to see Evil Dead and IHOP, and out for dinner and coffee), had my picture taken by a real professional for the BBC’s new website (coming soon), and am almost done with Leader Training for our Spiral Scouts group.

photo by Sarah Lynne Photography (click picture for link)

photo by Sarah Lynne Photography
(click picture for link)

Sprinkled between all this has been regular school days, pool preparation for the summer, board meetings an peer counseling with the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition, complete and utter enjoyment of the new seasons of Game of Thrones & The Borgias, taking care of taxes, visiting family, and cooking dinner, amid other things. I’ve been in a funky place lately, but I am coming out of it now. My life is full, and I am grateful.

We’re getting ready for the summer, which means summer reading club, summer movie clubs, hiking every week, my niece, Appleberry, will be back with us, and lots of time spent lazing about on the beach (if things go well). Hopefully, you’ll hear from me again very soon!

Warmly,
~h

 

 


January Review

I thought I’d re-cap what all we did this month, both to catch you guys up, to archive for myself, and to get back in the habit of regularly updating… I don’t know what my problem is lately, but I have not been in a blogging mood.

It’s always a bit of a struggle to get back in the groove after a break, and we had an especially long/unstructured break due to my mom’s illness and the holidays. Buckling back down into good school-habits was especially challenging for me – I got spoiled to sleeping in, but we disciplined ourselves, and got settled back into the swing of regular school day-type things pretty easily. Our main issue, I think, was shifting from the idea of being able to stay up super-late to going back to a normal(ish) bedtime and getting up earlier. If Loverly Husband ever switched to working nights, we’d all adjust to sleeping all day and being up all night just fine!

With my mom being sick for so long, we ended up skipping over the last little bit of several things – lapbooks, writing assignments and such. So we got those back out and finished them up (including the Ancient Greece Lapbook and Manatee Lapbook), then started on the Viking Adventure Lapbook from HomeschoolShare.com. Viking Adventure is a Sonlight book, and the lapbook goes chapter-by-chapter. We’re doing a little more than a chapter per week, and the boys are having a lot of fun learning to write in runes. We’re also lapbooking The Boxcar Children via Beyond Five In A Row, which is going really well.

I remember back when we first started homeschooling, we did a lot more hands-on projects; we’ve gotten away from that a bit lately, and these lapbook and story combos are offering a lot in the way of hands-on learning. One of the things we have been learning about is different types of armor, and at a field trip a few weeks ago, we came across a full suit of medieval armor. Being able to see it in person is always more of a learning experience than just looking at a picture – after getting a good look, both boys decided that they’re glad they don’t have to be knights!

Suits of armor

Over the last few weeks, our local homeschool group has really grown! We’ve added 5 new families to the group over the past month. Since our group is private, we usually meet with interested parties before adding them to the group, which has meant that at least once a week, we’ve been able to take a mid-day break and hit the coffee shop to meet a new homeschooling family.

Let’s see… field trip-wise, we’ve gone to the Houston Museum of Natural Science, (they have free admission to the main halls on Thursday, so we try to take advantage of that when we can). We got a nice surprise when we got there this last time; admission to the Butterfly Hall was discounted that day, so we got tickets for that as well. We had such a great time! And we even made it back into town in time for karate class that evening!

Butterflies

learning about energy

Looking for fossils

checking out human evolution

MASTODON!

Megalodon devouring an elephant-like creature…

The kids checking out the whole of human evolution – amazing reference!

 

Rise of the Guardians – Don’t mess with Santa Claus 😉

We took the kids for a movie day – some of us saw Rise of the Guardians, others in our group saw The Hobbit. That was fun – we took the boys to see The Hobbit a few weeks before that, so we saw Rise. I liked it; their portrayal of Santa as a tattooed, dual sword-wielding Guardian was pretty awesome.

 

The week after that, we took a holiday; Loverly Husband was off work, and the boys’ friends were out of school so we met up with them at the park. My friend PBJMom and I are working through ‘Wreck This Journal’ with some other friends of ours, and so we played journal while the kids ran around the park. We started a group called ‘Art Journalistas’ and have been egging each other on encouraging each other in our creative endeavors. We started sharing pictures of our work, and have scheduled a few meet-ups to work on them. As I write this, I actually just got back from our ‘Document Your Dinner’ dinner & coffee extravaganza. We usually all bring a bunch of art supplies and have a lot of fun with it.

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

photo by Mamie Leger

photo by Mamie Leger

This past winter, I really started moving towards a more herbal-based first aid/medicine ideal, and have been experimenting with making tinctures and other herbal remedies. Some of the moms in our homeschool group have similar interests, so we organized an herbal workshop of sorts. We talked essential oils and herbs, and made an all-purpose herbal salve (beeswax, coconut oil, tea tree oil, ginger root and chamomile).

In other news, as a group, we decided that we should do some sort of volunteer/community service project each month. We chose our local Humane Society. We’ve all done our orientation training, and this month was our first official volunteer date with the Humane Society of Southeast Texas. We organized our dates for the next six months with them – the kids love going!

Photo by Jean Bennett

Photo by Jean Bennett

This week, we were supposed to go to see two theater performances, but we ended up going walking/hiking instead. I am SO READY to get back to regular hiking!! This was the first hike (more of a walk, really – though we did walk the dirt-bike trail, which is much more challenging…. so a mild hike, maybe) of the year – I am itching to really get out there. We did see one performance – the ‘True Story of the Three Little Pigs’ by Dallas Children’s Theater. It was pretty funny – I wasn’t sure of I was going to like it, but there were some parts that really made me laugh. It’s always a gamble when you see a show that’s really geared towards younger kids, but we have been attending theater shows since the boys were very young, and have rarely been disappointed. This is the first time that we were in the balcony, on the very top row – as high and far away as you can get from the stage. I never realized how steep the balcony is – they really mean ‘nosebleed’ section!

Afterwards, we spent the afternoon soaking up some Texas sun at the park. It’s been a good month!

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Feb 2, 2013

 

How’s your year starting off?
Warmly,

~h


New Years’ Resolutions: 2013

If you’ve been fluttering around in my world over the last few years, then you’ll be thrilled to know that my annual tradition of writing NYR’s, and re-capping previous year’s resolutions is still in effect.

If you’re new here, then consider that your crash course in how I do NYRs.

Before I get started, I’d like to say that writing NYRs is a tradition that I am quite fond of. I don’t necessarily write them to break bad habits; I view the practice as more of a goal-setting session for the coming year.

The religion that I was raised in forbade the making of NYRs, based on some such nonsense that I can’t even remember anymore… suffice it to say that whatever the history of the practice, the reason that *I* make them is because the beginning of a new year feels like a natural time to set goals. The marking of a years’ time is a good way to mark progress… and it’s fun. I didn’t get to do the ritual growing up, which is probably one of the reasons I enjoy it so much now.

Moving on then…

2013 Resulutions:

  1. Complete ‘Wreck this Journal’, and keep up with the Art Journalistas group on Facebook. (It’s a secret group; one for my IRL friends and I to post pictures and progress and meet up to browse each others’ books. We’re starting in January.)
  2. repaint living room & kids’ rooms (also includes new beds in their rooms, decor and the like)
  3. spend more time with Grandmama & Mom & Dad (My mom had a stroke this past year, and it really pointed out how little time we spend together. Plus, my grandmother’s sister died a few weeks ago – her younger sister – which really brought home how much time she may have left. Making more time to visit with my family needs to be a priority this year.)
  4. Harry Potter Marathon. I’ve talked about it many times… now is the time. ALL of the movies – one weekend.
  5. Karate: keep on keepin’ on. I’d like to be a green belt (or maybe even blue!) by the end of the year… though I am  not the one who has the final say in whether or not I get to test; still, I plan on working hard, and I think that green is doable over the next 12 months. I also want to learn the Dojo Kun in Japanese. Also included in this res is going to be general health/fitness goals. More HAES, less sighing over a flat stomach.
  6. Submit at least one writing project for publication (AnnA – gonna need your help on this). I also want to work on establishing and maintaining a regular writing schedule this year, and collaborate more with AnnA (my amazing writing partner – click her name above and read her blog!). Also, check out the local writer’s guild group again. I tried it a while back and it wasn’t my cuppa; it’s been a while though, so maybe fresh meat?
  7. Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x each month. we did really well on this a while back, but have gotten away from it and it shows, so back onto the list it goes. Up this week: Django Unchained. At some point this coming year, I also want to take a mini-break, just the two of us. San Antonio or Dallas, maybe.
  8. Family Vacation – we so very much need to do this. We’re in better financial shape that ever before, so maybe this is doable this year.
  9. Run a 5K… or walk a 5K. I really want to do a Color Run and/or a Tough Mudder…. or a Zombie Walk… or a Flash Mob. Something along those lines. We have friends who are into 5Ks as a family and it looks like fun. I’d love to get the kids involved in something like that.

Here endeth the Resolutions. As always, nine only (not ten, or eight or five or three – NINE. Because that’s the way how I roll {which is not a typo; that’s how my kids used to say it and I am posting it here so that I don’t forget it}).

And now for the updates!!

2012’s NYRs (posted December 28, 2011)

1. Home Blessing – this has been my first resolution for a couple of years now. It’s an on-going thing and I am wondering now how long it needs to be an actual resolution since it doesn’t seem like it’s completely accomplishable. There is always something else to do that falls under this category… in any case, this encompasses all de-cluttering and home improvement type activities from resolutions past. This year’s actual targets are the master bath and kids’ rooms: painting and decor.

UPDATE: I left off the ‘major’ home blessing resolution for 2013 because we’ve made a lot of progress in 2012, and now need to be more specific. Over the past year, we moved our bedroom to the spare room, opened up the second bathroom, moved the boys into their own rooms, repainted and re-applianced the kitchen (new table, new fridge, new dishwasher, new microwave, and the all-important new coffeepot). I’m looking forward to working on the living room and kids’ rooms this year!

2. Medication: get them filled, on time; stay on them. I seem to go through phases where I feel good and stop taking them, then need them again, but fight the need and so things deteriorate until it’s apparent that I am truly effed up and require them. So… keeping them filled and myself stable will circumvent this whole scenario. FYI, I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and last month was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication as well. It’s helping. I also take thyroid medication, asthma, and allergy medications daily.

UPDATE: This is an ever-lasting battle. Right now, I am only taking asthma and allergy meds, because breathing is important. I am taking a break from the anxiety meds, and I actually seem to have less anxiety overall… but depression is still an issue. So, it’s back to the doctor, I go. 

3. Plan and take a family vacation. As the kids get older and wrapped up in their own interests, Loverly Husband and I actually get quite a bit of time to ourselves these days. That trend will only continue as the kids age, and I think that the focus needs to shift to keeping them focused on the family. A family vacation before they get too old and too ‘cool’ to enjoy it would be nice.

UPDATE: Negative, Ghost Rider. We didn’t do a big vacation this year; we never have, really.  It’s back on the list for this year.

4. Get back to kid-friendly exercise. We slacked a lot on this in 2011. I want to get back to being outdoorsy even if it means just me and the kids by ourselves. Hiking, biking, swimming, beach – all that and more are on the books for 2012.

UPDATE: Yes! We hit the beach a ton this summer, and though we didn’t hike as much as I would have liked, we did FINALLY make it out to the swim area at Village Creek – more than once. Also, karate 3x a week for basically this entire year *totally* counts*! I am calling this one successfully met, and look forward to continuing in this vein in 2013.

5. Forage/Raw Foods Week: Loverly Husband’s idea is to take a couple of weeks and instead of doing our normal grocery-shopping routine, buy only foods that can be prepared or consumed without cooking. I’m open to it, and doing something like this with him on board will be much easier than trying to do it with him kicking and screaming. Since it’s his idea, it’s going on the list for this year.

UPDATE: Done! We did raw foods and 90% vegetarian for about 3 weeks in 2012. A friend of mine (the lovely Miss Mamie) has been doing raw foods for a couple of months now and is absolutely inspirational. I’m considering trying for a month in 2013.

6. Fashionista: this is going to encompass my hair/nails and wardrobe. I need to keep up with my hair, I want to get my nails done (and keep them done) and update my wardrobe in the coming year. Hopefully the ‘kid-friendly exercise’ resolution up there will help necessitate the actual need for new clothing… one can hope, right? 

UPDATE: Meh… I am considering this one half-way met. My nails are done, and have been done since October, and my hair has been in various stages of color since then as well. Currently, nails are black-tipped French manicured and hair is purple in the front (well, faded to blue and is in desperate need of a root job). New clothes? Not so much… I hate clothes shopping, and I love black… so anything new I buy just adds to the already exhaustive selection of black clothing I already possess. I need new jeans though.

7. Figure out Container Gardening: This year will be our third attempt at a garden. I want to do an herb garden indoors and a veggie garden outside. I’d also like to do a couple of fruit trees (a cherry tree??). I need to read up on them and decide where and when to start them. It’s part of our homeschool science class, so the kids can help, too. 

UPDATE: Another half-met goal. We did container gardening (and my rosemary is STILL ALIVE! Muah-ha-ha-ha)… I learned that next year’s garden needs to go off my front porch or in bigger containers. We have no roof over our porch, so the shallow containers we were using basically took the heat of the sun and the heat form the concrete of the porch and fried my plants… so lesson learned. Next year’s garden will be the best yet! Maybe straw-bales?

8. Post my art journals to DeviantART. I have an account and pictures of my journals, I need to either put them in a video or post the pictures. 

UPDATE: Ha! I posted ONE picture of ONE page… that is all. I need to do this.

9. Complete at least one writing project. Any of them. At least one.

UPDATE: Aaaaaannnd again with the no.

Normally, this is the space where I would post resolutions from previous years and update them as well… and after a little thought, I decided that I like that tradition, because it puts all of my goals (past and present) in one place. It makes for a hella long post, but since it’s my party, I can post if I want to {wink}. Feel free to move on!

2011′s Resolutions (originally posted December 29, 2010) & updates:

1: Home Blessing – this has been on the books for a while, and will finally see real progress this year. This resolution encompasses all the de-cluttering/cleaning goals from years past and includes anything related to making our home a nicer place to live in. We’re planning a major re-decorating/face-lift to our house in the spring, including painting inside and out, switching our bedroom into the master bedroom (which is currently doing time as a storage/library/craft room) and putting the boys in their own bedrooms. We’ll also do some appliance upgrades and redecorate. I’m excited!! – update: We completed repainting the outside of the house, and our bedroom is moved and decorated. That took a lot more money than we’d planned on, so the rest of the renovations will be carried over to this year. I’m not displeased with our progress – it’s part of home ownership, which I am grateful for. 2013: see #2 above.

2: Teach the boys to cook. SFK was bragging about her 9-year-old dd making a four-course meal; I’m jealous and so shall attempt to teach the boys more about the culinary arts this year. The goal is to have them make at least one full meal each by… December 1st. That should give me plenty of time.update: meh. Cooking, yes. Full meal, no. They have gotten pretty good at making simple things – following recipes and using the stove. That’s more from efforts of their own than me actively teaching them, but I am not displeased with that, either. I find that as much as I dislike cooking, I dislike for the children to be underfoot while I am cooking even more. Based on this year’s progress, I can surmise that their continued experimentation and learning in the kitchen will continue with or without my help. 2013: Last year’s presumption is correct; the children have continued to experiment on their own. They can use the stove and oven, and though I still haven’t turned them loose in the kitchen with the task of making dinner, I anticipate that they’re ready for that sort of assignment and plan to make that happen sometime this year. We may even plan out a dinner for them to make on their own (but that’s a little ambitious, so don’t count on it).

3: Attend a Writer’s Conference/Workshop (or a homeschooling one). Both would be ideal, but attendance at one or the other will fulfill this one. This is a re-hash of a previous resolution; before it was ‘attend monthly group meetings’. I think that the monthly group would be good to do, too, but I really want to try for a conference or workshop that is more in my field (so romance or sci-fi/fantasy or para-normal romance. And no, you can’t read them…yet). update: nope; I didn’t do either. I DID, however, work on a couple of my stories and stared a new writing project with one of my BFF’s, AnnA of TheEverydayAlchemist. We have weekly Skype dates to collaborate and toss some encouragement for our individual projects around… and just because we’re more awesome when we’re together and need to be reminded of that often. 2013: I’d seriously LOVE to make a conference happen at some point this year, but in lieu of that, AnnA and I have tentatively planned a weekend retreat in NOLA at some point mid-year to write, write, write. I sincerely hope that the stars align appropriately to make that happen, because I want it SO BAD.

4: Try veganism on for a week. I’ve tried vegetarianism on (it doesn’t fit), but never veganism. It’ll be a challenge. update: HA! I say. I didn’t do this at all. In fact, I did the polar opposite of this – going all meat for a few weeks. I tried the Atkins diet for about three weeks – it sucks; I don’t recommend it. Maybe in 2012? Loverly Husband has mentioned trying a meal plan that consists of keeping only raw foods in the house and ‘foraging’ so maybe something like that would be more attainable since I’d have his support. 2013: This year, I met the lovely vegan/Greyhound-loving Sabrina, and have had more of an inside look at veganism. Since her son is my son’s BFF, that means that my boys are exposed to vegan meals, and even have taken it upon themselves to learn about what is and is not vegan so that when thier friend comes to our house, we can feed him appropriately (though S makes it super easy by sending food)… but still… knowing them and seeing vegan in-action, so to speak, makes giving it a more serious try this year an attainable goal.

5: Personal Growth. This is the one that I am lumping the rest of my writing goals and all of my health/weight loss goals into, as well as parenting goals (such as putting into practice/deeper study of NVC). I always have a couple of these listed, and I think it’s kinda cheating to have 4 of the same, on-going goals… so. I’m also putting things like: continue meeting meditation and spiritual goals, making time for ‘me’, blogging/writing something daily, etc. Some friends and I are re-committing to SparkPeople.com for this year (so if you wanna join me, come on!). I have many goals in that particular department, but I blog there too, so that’s where most of that goes. update: Meh… I’m giving this a 75%. Some of this has been met and surpassed, other parts of it have been seen to but not quite as well as I’d like. See this year’s NYR’s for an updated and possibly more specific list of goals. I have posted parts 1-6 of 13 from the NVC book here on my blog with plans to continue this year. 2013: We had to give up on NVC. I am a sarcastic bitch and NVC can be used as a weapon just as much as other words… more so, even, because it can be uber-manipulative. Maybe I just don’t care enough and/or am a horrible person, but I hate people prying into my feelings almost as much as I hate delving into other people’s feelings… so that got shelved. We have, however, worked on other aspects of communication that are effective for my (and my kids’) personalities. Even Loverly Husband has gotten on-board, and with all of us working together, it’s much easier. I also have to say that proper medication plays a role here, for me, at least. As much as my mother hates for me to say it, I have a mental disorder that I will forever need to take medication to effectively manage. Managing my illness makes me better able to manage other areas of my life. As far as health/weight is concerned, I ahve long been under the impression that the two go hand in hand, and they may, to some extent. However, I am/ have been getting regular exercise for the better part of the last year, and have been building stamina and muscle. I’m damn proud of that, even if my pants size has stayed the same.

6:  Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x per month. We used to do this at least that often, but this year, it seems like that’s taken a backseat. Between homeschooling and him working more, it’s been harder to find time to go out. It’s not a ‘problem’, but I’d rather focus on this now, before it becomes a problem. One the plus side, we did get a mini-break in 2010, with plans for another in a couple of months. Yay!! update: We didn’t stick to this plan… nor did we get to have a mini-break without the kiddos. We spent our money on house stuff, which was good, and as the kids are getting older and more wrapped up in their own interests, we do get more time together. I think this year’s more family-focused goal is more necessary as the kids get older. 2013: We actually did get a mini-break this year; Loverly Husband and I went with my brother and SIL to the Texas Renaissance Festival for the weekend. I was sick the whole time though, so it might not count {wink}. I put monthly date nights back on the agenda for this year, but I agree with more family-fun as well. LH and I have a plan to sit down and plan some togetherness activities for this year – soon, before the calendar gets too full.

7: Dye my hairNote to self: For the love of all that is salon, please visit the beauty supply shop and DO SOMETHING about your hair!!!! It’s been months – MONTHS – since you’ve put color in it. You have 6 inches of natural hair color. WTF?? That’s simply unacceptable. One cannot remain worthy of the moniker ‘Rainbow Brite’ with one’s natural hair color slapping people in the face. Before the month of January is out, you must fix this! And keep it fixed. All year. update: for the most part, yes. I haven’t had roots beyond an inch or so and have kept dye on-hand most of the year. Go me! 2013: Again, yes… (even though I need color at the ‘mo). Next week, scout’s honor!

8: Plan for lunch out better. When the kids were little, I had food for them on me all. the. time. I breastfed them for 3 years each, and I believe that had an effect on how they eat now. They’ve always eaten frequent small meals throughout the day; with no big meals and no set times, that meant that as an in-tune mama I needed to keep food in the bag so that I could meet their needs. When they started school, they had to adjust to a more common eating schedule and I got out of the habit of keeping food with us. Since we started homeschooling, they’ve fallen back into their normal eating patterns but I have not. So my goal for this year is to plan for food better – packing a cooler with appropriate small meals and snacks when we go out. This will help me with #5 as well. update: pretty much met for the first part of the year, then sort of slacked off as the year wound down. We did Bento lunches for months, then were home a lot and I slacked off on making them. I do prefer Bentos and so do the kids, so we’re going to work on getting back to that on a regular basis again. 2013: We had a really good stretch where we didn’t do fast food at all, then it gradually started creeping back in. I need to work on eliminating fast food again. Bentos are still the lunch of choice, I just need to get back to planning for them better.

9: Do something about my wardrobe. I am putting this one separate from the ‘home blessing’ because it’s not really about making space or de-cluttering (though that does play a part). I have a bunch of clothes that don’t fit (both too small and too large) and that are out-dated that I’ve held on to. It’s time to let go! I don’t necessarily need new clothes (though if certain portions of #5 are carried out, I may), but I would like for the clothes that are taking up my space to be ones that I like and wear.update: I did declutter my clothing! I am in need of some new pieces though (but don’t expect a rainbow of colors or anything; I am still *me*). I also did the kids’ clothing and Loverly Husband’s, so yay! 2013: I think this is under ‘Fashionista’ above… I do desperately need to go through the boys’ clothing again… drat them for growing up so fast!

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2010′s Resolutions and Progress Report: NYE’s Written on Jan. 2, 2010

ONE: Continue making progress on the home front.
I’m going to include all the things that are in reference to “home blessing” from previous years, such as redecorating, de-cluttering and the like. It’s still in the plan, but it’s something that can be chipped away at slowly. There are a couple of specifics that I want to focus on like:
-my office (switching our bedroom to the office and the office to our bedroom) and the redecorating that goes along with that.
-the hallway bathroom (I’d really like to work on that this year)
-decluttering and organizing (all over)
**Semi-Accomplished** We actually lost the office when we started homeschooling. I do have to say that I’ve rocked the decluttering thing this year though. About twice a month, I take at least one bag of stuff to Goodwill and still have more to go. The switching didn’t happen, but will this year, and the bathroom also did not get attention (though I did paint in there). Everything will get a face-lift this year though… so yay!
2012: ongoing – I think we’ll forever be decluttering and simplifying.
2013: ongoing… but progress is definitely visible!
 
TWO: Take a mini-break with Loverly Husband without the kids.
I want to go somewhere, just the two of us, with no kids, for a whole weekend. It’s been over 8 years since we’ve gone away for some time alone, so I think we’re due.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We went with my brother and SIL to Galveston for a long weekend, and have plans to go to San Antonio this year. Yay!
2012: we didn’t get to do this in 2011. I did get to go to Ren Faire for the weekend with The Girls though. Not the same thing.

2013: TX Ren Faire with Loverly Husband (as mentioned above)… but I was sick the whole time, so dosen’t count.

THREE: Attend the Writer’s Workshop every(ish) month.

I really want to work on my stories/books/series this year. It’s once a month, on a Tuesday, and I think I need to make that a priority.
**Semi-Accomplished** I went to a couple, then got lazy. The main problem is that half of the writers didn’t say much, and the other half were SO not in my field. I am going to try again for this year though. Writing is fun for me, and I owe it to myself to hone my craft, even if it is only a hobby. For now. This has been updated for 2011′s list.
2012: That’s good advice, self. You should pay attention. 
2013: Ditto above, self. Look into the writer’s workshops again this year. It’s been a while; maybe there’s fresh meat?
 
FOUR: Get more kid-friendly exercise.
Now that the boys are older and more active, it’s a little easier to plan excursions with fitness as a focus. We all have kids and I have a bike rack for the car, so I think that’s going to be something we do more of this year. The boys are also into skating, so we’re going to get back into that habit again, too.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We’ve been hiking, biking, skating, swimming and Wii Fitted… and we’re continuing in this vein this year! Go me!!
2012: suckage for 2011.  It was insanely cold, then ridiculously hot and I’m being whiney and lazy. Better goals for this year!
2013: Karate, baby! And the beach! And more of the same for this year!!
 
FIVE: Go TV-FREE for one week per month and for one month during the summer.
I have no idea how this will work since Loverly Husband is completely opposed to the idea, but I would like to try it. We already don’t have much TV time when school is in session (no TV in the mornings, and no TV until homework is done) so it’s not like we watch a ton of TV as it is, but I do know that my kids are much more imaginative when the TV is not there to influence them and I want to see more of that.
**FAIL** Well, kinda. We actually don’t watch all that much TV. The boys are not allowed to watch TV or play video games on school days, so that’s the bulk of the week. The time they do have is squished between when ‘chores are done’ and ‘dinner’ so free-tv time is rare. Video games, however… they’re all about them and will spend as much time as allowed on them. We’ll be curtailing this come January 3rd.
2012: We’ve actually enforced this a couple of times. The kids have been playing more video games, but they’ve had less ‘free’ days… so I think it evens out. We’re going to cut them back this year again though. More outside time!
2013: I think we’re going to add this back to the list. With my mom’s hospitalization and recovery, the kids spent a lot of time being ‘out of the way’, which usually meant ‘in front of the tv/game’. I’m thinking that a strict ban on screen time might be a good thing, at least until a little more balance can be found.
SIX: Work on getting Mom’s old pictures into digital format

Mom has TONS of pictures that I want and since she won’t part with them I need to make an effort this year to get them in digital format, both for preservation purposes and just to have.
**FAIL** Yeah… not so much. I did get a fantastic external hard drive this year, so now I actually have space to put all those pictures. Maybe in 2011…
2012: Because I don’t have enough of my own pictures to put on discs, I had to take on someone else’s photo-library?? What was I thinking?? I am retroactively striking this from the list.
2013: YES!! That’s insane! It’s still a monumental task and I am annoyed with myself for having suggested that I should do this. Maybe I will get HER a scanner and external hard drive and show her how to do it.
 
SEVEN: Savings & Retirement plans
We’re doing pretty well in this regard, so it’s not a major thing to have to ‘resolve’ to do, but I like having it on my list because it IS something we need to focus on. SO the plan is to continue adding money to our savings accounts, to the kids’ savings accounts (and college funds), and into our retirement. We’ve been talking about getting a new car this year, and about painting the outside of the house and landscaping a bit, and it would be nice to follow through with those plans.
** ACCOMPLISHED** We bought a new (to us) Honda Odyssey in April 2010, also bought our house in June. Loverly Husband took care of all the retirement plan financial stuff, so we’re doing well! The landscaping and painting are in the plans for the next couple of months.
2012: Yep – Loverly Husband is still on top of this. Landscaping and home improvements are all still on the list as money becomes available.
2013: More of the same… handing money makes me physically ill – more even now than in the past, so he handles all of that business. Landscaping will be on the menu once the inside is finished.
 
EIGHT: Be more crafty
I really have missed arts and crafts. I’ve cut back on my “work and volunteering” schedule, so I am going to use the ‘extra’ time to do the things I enjoy. I want to do a glass project for the living room window, batik the curtains in the living room, make blackout curtains for our bedroom and the boys’ room, re-cover the couch… among other things. Plus, I need to work on scrapbooking and having pictures from recent years printed. I also would like to work on drawing and painting.
**ACCOMPLISHED** With multiple craft-days under my belt this year, and many crafty-projects with the kids, this is well done! Not these exact things, maybe; I made new curtains for the living room, decided not to cover the couch at all and blacked out my bedroom windows with foil and tape. Not as classy, maybe, but it’s hella-freaking-dark even at mid-day in there, so that’s done. The kids don’t want it to be that dark in their room…
2012: Two words: ART JOURNALS. Love them and have been having SO much fun with them! Eventually, I’ll have them all loaded to my DeviantART account, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve also made several crafts projects for friends, so I’m definitely still feeling the craftstravaganza vibe and hope it continues.
2013: I’ve actually added to my ‘work and volunteering’ schedule again this year, but I am determined not to let those commitments detract from my crafty time. My goal for this year is to work through Wreck this Journal, and I am doing it in a group… among other projects. DeviantART – yes… gotta do that.
 
NINE: Learn more about homeopathy
I have a fairly decent foundation (not that I’m an expert or anything), but I’d like to learn more and utilize this more in day-to-day life.
**ACCOMPLISHED** I’m not an expert by any means, but we’ve relied much less this past year on western medicine than we have in years past, and I know more about treating the underlying cause of something than simply masking symptoms, so I’d call this well done as well. I plan to continue educating myself, and am thankful to have several friends who are willing to share the knowledge!
2012: Actually, it’s not ‘homeopathy’, it’s naturo-pathy that I like/use/meant. And yes; still into it.
2013: Ditto… more-so even than last year. I’m all about it, baby!
 *******************************
Here’s an update on 2009′s resolutions: 
Numero uno: Stop obsessing about things.

2010: Ummm… yeah. So I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. “Stop obsessing” is like saying I’m planning on not breathing this year. FAIL.
2011: no change.
2012: added an anti-anxiety med to my anti-depressant meds… it’s nice so far; need to up the dose, I think, but I am definitely less stressed over minor nothings.
2013: All hail anxiety medications! Best thing I ever did for myself. Even though I am currently in need to a visit to the Man in the Lab Coat, I recognize that many, many of my issues with ‘things’ have to do with my illness. Accepting that, admitting that, and working within that context has helped me so much.

 

Numero dos: Help the kids to listen to their bodies more and learn to understand the feeling of, and be able to voice “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” instead of falling apart at inopportune moments.
2010: I’d say that this one is accomplished. Not in the sense that this is something that is ever “done” with, but I think it was something we worked on, not just for the kids, but for myself as well.
2011: This is an ongoing exercise for us. Food affects me and the kids so much, and it’s a struggle to respect its power without obsessing or over-focusing on it.
2012: ditto.
2013: more of the same

 

Numero tres: Stick to SP goals.
2010: Well… this one got pushed aside this year. Between being pregnant for the first part of the year, and then grieving throughout the last half of the year, I am just glad I haven’t gained 20lbs. 5 is acceptable and easier to get rid of.
2011: I’m back on the wagon, with some friends to help motivate and keep me accountable. We’ve already started, and are doing well!
2012: meh. I’m working on it.
2013: Suck it, skinny bitches. I am working on ‘health at any size’, and trying not to focus on weight.
Numero quatro: Finish DONA cert.

2010: Eh… I didn’t do this, but it’s still the same ole thing I have been debating about since the beginning. Certification is nice to have, but not necessary and may be too limiting. BFF and I are planning goals for WMC on Monday, so we’ll re-hash this again and decide what we want to do about it.
2011: I can pretty much cross this off my list. I’m not interested in being a doula anymore. I’ve also retired from LLL Leadership this year, so my attention is focused in other areas.
2012: Same; I am happy volunteering with the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition when I can and/or the mood strikes with no further obligation. 
2013: Same; I’ve taken on a larger role for 2013 with the BBC; and plan to pursue formal lactation counselor certification this year.

 

Numero cinqo: Continue de-cluttering house and down-sizing possessions. Get rid of things I don’t love, use or need, including shoes, baby clothes and extra furniture.
2010: This is a mixture of yes and no… yes b/c I have definitely been downsizing, esp over the last couple of months, but the baby clothes and stuff I have kept and will keep as there may be a need for them at some point. We’re still kinda unclear on that point, too.
2011: Ongoing… forever?
2012: ditto…
2013: ditto…
Nombre six (… switching to French now, because 5 is as high as I can spell en espanol without looking it up. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.): {edited on 12/31/2010 to add that since ‘cuatro’ is how you spell four in Spanish, it would appear that I can only spell to three…lol. Funny that it took 2 years to realize that.} (2013: Also, wprdpress wants to autocorrect ‘cuatro’ to ‘coatroom’. I find that funny.)

Home Improvements: Repaint and redecorate my bedroom and re-finish the kitchen cabinets. Design and complete the mural for the boy’s room, and re-do their decor. Rugs for various rooms, extra storage bins and cabinets, etc…
2010:… not so much. On any of that, actually.
2011:Eh.. some of that got done, some didn’t in 2010. The mural is ever incomplete, but we’re painting everything in a couple of months, so it’s fine.
2012: ongoing… home decor is much more expensive than I previously realized, but we have a plan. My bedroom is done; kids are up next.
2013: Kids’ rooms and living room still on the menu, but now a reachable goal since the kitchen is done (except for the cabinets).

 

Nombre sept: Work on kids’ scrapbooks and get big pictures into frames. Lapbook the boy’s previous years’ school work. Better organize craft supplies and find the damn high-temp hot glue gun! Get a label maker. Try really hard not to label every single conceivable thing in my house. Figure out where the holiday boxes will live when not in season.
2010: …ditto.
2011: Yeah… not so much. That last part is a big one since we’re losing our storage room in a couple of months!
2012: Still working on some of this; not so much the scrapbooking thing – I’ve been art journaling, not srcapbooking. One day the mood will strike again and I will love it. Until then, it remains in storage. Plans to get the school room storage situation under control this year are underway.
2013: Jesus, the frakkin holiday boxes are still a problem. I have a plan for them, but need Loverly Husband to install shelving over the washer and dryer… then the boxes can live there. Found the glue gun! It was in a box of craft stuff that I had packed to make personalized clothespin ornaments for a fundraiser for the kids’ school a few years ago. I actually found it last year, I think… it was packed up for a LONG time, lol. Scrapbooking… meh. I’m kinda over it. Art journals have taken up my time, and blogging documents the kids, so I don;t ‘need’ to scrapbook, really. Maybe one day when they’re older….
 Nombre huit: 

Either buy gumballs for the gumball machine or get rid of it.

2010: DONE! We bought more gumballs. There are still some in the machine, too! 

2011: Why aren’t all of my resolutions so simple and easy to accomplish?? I think I’ll start adding at least one challenge to my resolutions list. This year: be vegan for a week!

2012: this is a throw-away resolution. I am including at least one every year, I think. 

2013: We got rid of the gumball machine, LOL Yay for de-cluttering!

 
Nombre neuf: 

… That’s all I can think of for now. I need to print this list out for myself so I can keep track of sticking with them. Now, I need to go back and see how I did for last year.
{Edited to add:  found a number nine!} Create outlines for all the story concepts I have written.
2010: Yes and no – I did outlines for some of them and have started an outline for most of them.
2011: I’ve really slacked on my fiction this year. I’ve blogged pretty faithfully though.. does that count?
2012: While not exactly kicking ass, I have been slowly plodding away at my stories. Progress=progress, yes?
2013: Added a few thousand words  spread out across several stories just yesterday, after a coffee date with AnnA… with plans to continue this year.
 **********************************
As for 2008′s resolutions, Ha! I didn’t write them till the 6th last year, so I’m ahead of the game this year. To recap: 
1) It’s called a budget! I need to make one and stick to it. More importantly, I should probably let my loverly husband in on the what’s what so he isn’t surprised by the complete lack of money that we have going.

2009: Yeah… we actually have been doing much better in the cash-flow department this year. I’m fairly proud of that, so I think I can call this one “accomplished” and we’ll say maintain this instead of making it a new resolution.
2010: We did VERY well this year in this regard. I can say that we’re progressing nicely on this front. We eliminated credit cards a couple of years ago, so that’s a big hassle that we don’t have to mess with anymore. This year, we’re funneling more money into savings and retirement. I’m proud of that!
2011: Loverly Husband took over all the budgeting of funds early in 2010, so… yay! He’s better at it than I am. We’re definitely in a better place financially now that we were back in 2007/8. It’s nice to be able to look back and see progress happening.
2012: Loverly Husband is still Mr. Finance. I have less and less to do with money and I like it that way.
2013: I am hands-free on the money department, and couldn’t be happier about it. Thanks to Loverly Husband’s awesome fiduciary skillz, we’re insured, we’re saving, we’re planning for retirement and the kids have savings accounts… it’s been a long road, and he’s been working hard to make our family’s finances are in order, and I am eternally grateful that I don’t have to worry with it.
2) Complete my Childbirth Doula Certification and Trustbirth Facilitator Application

2009: This is kind of a done deal (DONA) – but I’m making it an actual resolution so that when it’s done I can cross it off the list. Actually, I’m not doing TrustBirth at all – after thinking more about it, I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s not that I disagree with them, exactly, just that I am a little more open-minded about things. As for the birth doula cert, I am still working on it, and am actually doing DONA now instead of CBI, which was what I was looking at then. DONA is different, and either way, I need certain criteria to certify and I haven’t been as on top of it as I had planned. Can I blame part of this on Hurricanes Gustav and Ike?
2010: see above.
2011: Let me explain… I had all of my certification stuff done – all I needed to do was send it in and pay for it. I was waiting on BFF to get her breastfeeding education requirement done so we could submit our applications together, and got pregnant, then miscarried… Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a doula, and therefore see no reason to pay for the certification. So. That’s the what’s what on this.
2012: ditto…
2013: no change…

 3) Keep my prescriptions filled and faithfully take my medicines daily … so that I don’t end up needing my rescue inhaler multiple times daily and end up on the nebulizer like I did 2 weeks ago.

2009: I suck at doing this. I HATE taking meds EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s a huge hassle (and could it be any clearer that I am barely taking anything at all right now, which is why I am defensive about it?) I have kept up with asthma and allergy meds though, which is a good thing… so this is a “halfway” for me.
2010: I STILL suck at this. Something about this time of year. I have not been keeping my Rx filled and have been using the neb for the last couple of weeks. Ugh.
2011: Better this year… I’m off of some of them and need to refill others. This is going to be one of those on-going things for me, I think.
2012: ongoing… new meds this year; anti-depressant & anti-anxiety. It’s helping. Now to stick with them.
2013…. see above notes on medications and illness….
4) Stick with SparkPeople I slacked off in about August, so I’m starting over with that, kinda. So far, a week in and I’m doing well, so go me!

2009: Since I’m basically starting over again, and it’s on this year’s list, I guess  didn’t keep this one either.
2010: See above.
2011: Ditto this year… I lost 80lbs the first go-round with SP, then my weight-loss plateaued and I got discouraged. I managed to keep it off for a while, then have, over the course of 3 or 4 years, have put back on about 30lbs. That sucks. So, along with a couple of friends, I’m re-committing myself. It’s in 2011′s #5.
2012: *expletive deleted*
2013: Skinny bitches can still suck it.

 

5) Wear hats more often because I like them.

2009: Ha! I SO did :) I bought, like 4 new hats and have worn them all. And they look awesome, if I do say so myself. Go me!
2010: I’m still keeping this one faithfully :) That makes me happy.
2011: ditto :) My hat collection is ever-growing and still awesome.
2012: chapeaux + NicCuinn = even more awesome as time goes by. This remains one of my favorite NYR’s.
2013: Hats… yes and double yes. My favorite is a black fedora, but I also have a black newsboy style cap that I just love (but currently cannot find). I think I need a few more hats this year.
6) WRITE!! I have no less than 7 stories outlined, and 5 more concepts written that I need to work on if they are ever to become actual reading material. So my goal is to devote a little time each week to write something, even if I don’t like it and end up deleting it.

2009: Fleshing out already-written storylines? No. Adding all the newly thought-of concepts into word.docs? Yes! So another half-assed accomplishment on my part. I’m going to add “making an outline for all story concepts” above.
2010: I have been feeling more creative lately and have started a couple of new concepts that need to be fleshed out. As long as I keep doing that, I am happy with this level of progress.
2011:Yeah… homeschooling leaves very little time for writing fiction. That’s a total cop-out, but that’s my excuse for doing absolutely NO writing this year, fiction-wise. I did come up with a new non-fiction concept for a children’s book series, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. I’m making notes on it now (like right this minute …. okay – I have an overview of the series written now) – so that’s something, at least, lol.
2012: And Skying/collaborating with AnnA. Lots of it. 
2013: As previously explained, writing = yes, with AnnA.

 

7) Maintain the clutter-clearage that’s been going on. because I don’t want to end up like one of those people with an un-livable home due to all the unusable crap stored in it, I’m going to continue whittling down my collectibles (not that there’s that many that aren’t in printed format) and other assorted crap so that it at least looks like we have space in our house.
2009: I guess I’m kind-of on the same page as last year with this. I got rid of a TON of crap over the past year, so this is another “maintaining” for me. I’ll leave it as above though, because I have more specific goals in mind for this year.
2010: see above
2011: ditto
2012: ditto
2013: ditto
8). Make more time for me. As a wife and mom, I have a full plate – add starting a new business to that and you can see how much time I don’t have. So my goal is to take a few hours sans anyone else and concentrate on me once a week (if I can swing that, but once a month is probably more realistic).

2009: This has been a lot easier since both boys have been in school. So I guess I’ll mark that as an “accomplished” too.
2010: I have been keeping this one.
2011: Oh, I just thought I was busy before…homeschooling is possibly the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken yet. It requires almost constant thought and attention on my part. On the plus side, my Loverly Husband is incredibly supportive and has both encouraged and made it easy for me to go exercise with my sister or grab coffee with a friend in the evenings. My resolution for this year is to stop feeling guilty about it!
2012: Yes – homeschooling time commitment is eternal. Coffee out and a weekend trip to Ren Faire with the girls this past year was amazing. Definitely on the list of traditions to continue. Also, meeting more personal spiritual nourishment goals has helped. Planning to continue in this vein.
2013: 2012 was an AMAZING year for me, overall (barring a few unexpected happenings). Our school year went exceptionally well, I found a sport that I love (that also qualifies as ‘family time’), a spiritual study group that has become more like family, and a group of friends that is so full that I am starting to feel guilty about not having time to spend with any of them. I am truly blessed.
9) Whole Mothering Center I don’t know how much we will be able accomplish this year due to external factors, but I want us to accomplish all that we three are able to.

2009: The “three” isn’t the same three as it was when this was written, and I think that we’ve done pretty well. We’re well into our 2nd year, and with the Ike evacs and BFF’s birth, the last few months have been slow, but we’re gearing up for an eventful year with WMC. So this is another thing I think I can say “accomplished” on.
2010: 2009 was rough on many fronts. I am hoping that 2010 will be a better year for WMC.
2011: I’ve pretty much phased myself out of WMC. BFF is continuing with her own plans, including starting midwifery school in Jan 2011, and I will be involved as much as I can, but it’s pretty much her show now. My attention and focus is elsewhere these days, and though I miss being in the place in my life where WMC was my dream, I’m excited about what the future now holds, both for my BFF and WMC and for myself.
2012: I miss being involved, but am so glad to see BFF continue meeting her goals. Also very glad to see WMC and the BBC flourish, if not quite in the ways we’d first envisioned. I am still proud to be part of the community of support for natural mothering in our area. My attention is still focused elsewhere, but my future goals are leaning in a similar direction – I’d like to go to school and work in counseling with new mothers and families once my kids are grown.
2013: I have found it easier over the past year to start working myself back into the goings-on in the new mother community again. It was really hard for a long time, but it’s much better now. I actually enjoy talking to new moms again, and even holding the occasional babe (though I am quick to give them back when they start crying). I still plan to get into counseling, but that’s several years off yet; gotta get the boys into college first!

 

10) (because ten is a nice, round, reasonable number) I can’t think of anything else, but I’m going to format this like there is an actual resolution here anyway. because it looks better and because I can. So there.
LOL – I think it’s funny that I can only ever think of nine. I did the same thing this year. But it’s edited to add the writing one update ;)
2012: nine has become the tradition. I see no reason to alter that now!
2013: Nine is an awesome number 😉
Thanks for playing along, kids!
May your 2013 be full of joy and happiness, goals met and accomplishments celebrated. May your families be healthy and whole; may your every day be full of thankfulness and love.
Happy New Year!
Warmly,
~h

 


NYR: The 2012 Version

So this will be my second NYE post on this blog, since abandoning my MySpace blog a couple of years ago. For most of you, this info will be irrelevant, but since it’s become tradition for me, I am posting it anyway.

My usual format is to post this year’s resolutions, and then do a re-cap of previous year’s with progress reports as needed. It’s a long post (so feel free to skip most of it. I’m blogging this more for my own accountability and record-keeping than for public consumption), but I find it entertaining and see no reason to alter that format, so without further adieu, here are 2012’s New Year’s Resolutions (amazingly, I’m running ahead of schedule here, posting this almost a week before the new year. Go, me, all organized and stuff!):

1. Home Blessing – this has been my first resolution for a couple of years now. It’s an on-going thing and I am wondering now how long it needs to be an actual resolution since it doesn’t seem like it’s completely accomplishable. There is always something else to do that falls under this category… in any case, this encompasses all de-cluttering and home improvement type activities from resolutions past. This year’s actual targets are the master bath and kids’ rooms: painting and decor.

2. Medication: get them filled, on time; stay on them. I seem to go through phases where I feel good and stop taking them, then need them again, but fight the need and so things deteriorate until it’s apparent that I am truly effed up and require them. So… keeping them filled and myself stable will circumvent this whole scenario. FYI, I have been diagnosed with clinical depression and last month was prescribed an anti-anxiety medication as well. It’s helping. I also take thyroid medication, asthma, and allergy medications daily.

3. Plan and take a family vacation. As the kids get older and wrapped up in their own interests, Loverly Husband and I actually get quite a bit of time to ourselves these days. That trend will only continue as the kids age, and I think that the focus needs to shift to keeping them focused on the family. A family vacation before they get too old and too ‘cool’ to enjoy it would be nice.

4. Get back to kid-friendly exercise. We slacked a lot on this in 2011. I want to get back to being outdoorsy even if it means just me and the kids by ourselves. Hiking, biking, swimming, beach – all that and more are on the books for 2012.

5. Forage/Raw Foods Week: Loverly Husband’s idea is to take a couple of weeks and instead of doing our normal grocery-shopping routine, buy only foods that can be prepared or consumed without cooking. I’m open to it, and doing something like this with him on board will be much easier than trying to do it with him kicking and screaming. Since it’s his idea, it’s going on the list for this year.

6. Fashionista: this is going to encompass my hair/nails and wardrobe. I need to keep up with my hair, I want to get my nails done (and keep them done) and update my wardrobe in the coming year. Hopefully the ‘kid-friendly exercise’ resolution up there will help necessitate the actual need for new clothing… one can hope, right?

7. Figure out Container Gardening: This year will be our third attempt at a garden. I want to do an herb garden indoors and a veggie garden outside. I’d also like to do a couple of fruit trees (a cherry tree??). I need to read up on them and decide where and when to start them. It’s part of our homeschool science class, so the kids can help, too.

8. Post my art journals to DeviantART. I have an account and pictures of my journals, I need to either put them in a video or post the pictures.

9. Complete at least one writing project. Any of them. At least one.

I would do 10 because it’s such a nice, round number, but it’s become somewhat of a tradition to only make 9. So that’s my list for this year. I don’t usually post progress reports during the year, so don’t feel bad if you forget all about them until the end of December.

This officially concludes the ‘current resolutions’ portion of this post. If you’re interested to see how previous resolutions have held up over the years, feel free to read on. I’ve been updating each year’s resolutions for the past few years; it’s interesting to me to see how my goals and things have changed.

2011’s Resolutions (originally posted December 29, 2010) & updates:

1: Home Blessing – this has been on the books for a while, and will finally see real progress this year. This resolution encompasses all the de-cluttering/cleaning goals from years past and includes anything related to making our home a nicer place to live in. We’re planning a major re-decorating/face-lift to our house in the spring, including painting inside and out, switching our bedroom into the master bedroom (which is currently doing time as a storage/library/craft room) and putting the boys in their own bedrooms. We’ll also do some appliance upgrades and redecorate. I’m excited!! – update: We completed repainting the outside of the house, and our bedroom is moved and decorated. That took a lot more money than we’d planned on, so the rest of the renovations will be carried over to this year. I’m not displeased with our progress – it’s part of home ownership, which I am grateful for.

2: Teach the boys to cook. SFK was bragging about her 9-year-old dd making a four-course meal; I’m jealous and so shall attempt to teach the boys more about the culinary arts this year. The goal is to have them make at least one full meal each by… December 1st. That should give me plenty of time. update: meh. Cooking, yes. Full meal, no. They have gotten pretty good at making simple things – following recipes and using the stove. That’s more from efforts of their own than me actively teaching them, but I am not displeased with that, either. I find that as much as I dislike cooking, I dislike for the children to be underfoot while I am cooking even more. Based on this year’s progress, I can surmise that their continued experimentation and learning in the kitchen will continue with or without my help.

3: Attend a Writer’s Conference/Workshop (or a homeschooling one). Both would be ideal, but attendance at one or the other will fulfill this one. This is a re-hash of a previous resolution; before it was ‘attend monthly group meetings’. I think that the monthly group would be good to do, too, but I really want to try for a conference or workshop that is more in my field (so romance or sci-fi/fantasy or para-normal romance. And no, you can’t read them…yet). update: nope; I didn’t do either. I DID, however, work on a couple of my stories and stared a new writing project with one of my BFF’s, AnnA of TheEverydayAlchemist. We have weekly Skype dates to collaborate and toss some encouragement for our individual projects around… and just because we’re more awesome when we’re together and need to be reminded of that often.

4: Try veganism on for a week. I’ve tried vegetarianism on (it doesn’t fit), but never veganism. It’ll be a challenge. update: HA! I say. I didn’t do this at all. In fact, I did the polar opposite of this – going all meat for a few weeks. I tried the Atkins diet for about three weeks – it sucks; I don’t recommend it. Maybe in 2012? Loverly Husband has mentioned trying a meal plan that consists of keeping only raw foods in the house and ‘foraging’ so maybe something like that would be more attainable since I’d have his support.

5: Personal Growth. This is the one that I am lumping the rest of my writing goals and all of my health/weight loss goals into, as well as parenting goals (such as putting into practice/deeper study of NVC). I always have a couple of these listed, and I think it’s kinda cheating to have 4 of the same, on-going goals… so. I’m also putting things like: continue meeting meditation and spiritual goals, making time for ‘me’, blogging/writing something daily, etc. Some friends and I are re-committing to SparkPeople.com for this year (so if you wanna join me, come on!). I have many goals in that particular department, but I blog there too, so that’s where most of that goes. update: Meh… I’m giving this a 75%. Some of this has been met and surpassed, other parts of it have been seen to but not quite as well as I’d like. See this year’s NYR’s for an updated and possibly more specific list of goals. I have posted parts 1-6 of 13 from the NVC book here on my blog with plans to continue this year.

6:  Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x per month. We used to do this at least that often, but this year, it seems like that’s taken a backseat. Between homeschooling and him working more, it’s been harder to find time to go out. It’s not a ‘problem’, but I’d rather focus on this now, before it becomes a problem. One the plus side, we did get a mini-break in 2010, with plans for another in a couple of months. Yay!! update: We didn’t stick to this plan… nor did we get to have a mini-break without the kiddos. We spent our money on house stuff, which was good, and as the kids are getting older and more wrapped up in their own interests, we do get more time together. I think this year’s more family-focused goal is more necessary as the kids get older.

7: Dye my hairNote to self: For the love of all that is salon, please visit the beauty supply shop and DO SOMETHING about your hair!!!! It’s been months – MONTHS – since you’ve put color in it. You have 6 inches of natural hair color. WTF?? That’s simply unacceptable. One cannot remain worthy of the moniker ‘Rainbow Brite’ with one’s natural hair color slapping people in the face. Before the month of January is out, you must fix this! And keep it fixed. All year. update: for the most part, yes. I haven’t had roots beyond an inch or so and have kept dye on-hand most of the year. Go me!

8: Plan for lunch out better. When the kids were little, I had food for them on me all. the. time. I breastfed them for 3 years each, and I believe that had an effect on how they eat now. They’ve always eaten frequent small meals throughout the day; with no big meals and no set times, that meant that as an in-tune mama I needed to keep food in the bag so that I could meet their needs. When they started school, they had to adjust to a more common eating schedule and I got out of the habit of keeping food with us. Since we started homeschooling, they’ve fallen back into their normal eating patterns but I have not. So my goal for this year is to plan for food better – packing a cooler with appropriate small meals and snacks when we go out. This will help me with #5 as well. update: pretty much met for the first part of the year, then sort of slacked off as the year wound down. We did Bento lunches for months, then were home a lot and I slacked off on making them. I do prefer Bentos and so do the kids, so we’re going to work on getting back to that on a regular basis again.

9: Do something about my wardrobe. I am putting this one separate from the ‘home blessing’ because it’s not really about making space or de-cluttering (though that does play a part). I have a bunch of clothes that don’t fit (both too small and too large) and that are out-dated that I’ve held on to. It’s time to let go! I don’t necessarily need new clothes (though if certain portions of #5 are carried out, I may), but I would like for the clothes that are taking up my space to be ones that I like and wear. update: I did declutter my clothing! I am in need of some new pieces though (but don’t expect a rainbow of colors or anything; I am still *me*). I also did the kids’ clothing and Loverly Husband’s, so yay!

2010’s Resolutions and Progress Report: NYE’s Written on Jan. 2, 2010: 

ONE: Continue making progress on the home front.
I’m going to include all the things that are in reference to “home blessing” from previous years, such as redecorating, de-cluttering and the like. It’s still in the plan, but it’s something that can be chipped away at slowly. There are a couple of specifics that I want to focus on like:
-my office (switching our bedroom to the office and the office to our bedroom) and the redecorating that goes along with that.
-the hallway bathroom (I’d really like to work on that this year)
-decluttering and organizing (all over)
**Semi-Accomplished** We actually lost the office when we started homeschooling. I do have to say that I’ve rocked the decluttering thing this year though. About twice a month, I take at least one bag of stuff to Goodwill and still have more to go. The switching didn’t happen, but will this year, and the bathroom also did not get attention (though I did paint in there). Everything will get a face-lift this year though… so yay!
2012: ongoing – I think we’ll forever be decluttering and simplifying.

TWO: Take a mini-break with Loverly Husband without the kids.
I want to go somewhere, just the two of us, with no kids, for a whole weekend. It’s been over 8 years since we’ve gone away for some time alone, so I think we’re due.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We went with my brother and SIL to Galveston for a long weekend, and have plans to go to San Antonio this year. Yay!
2012: we didn’t get to do this in 2011. I did get to go to Ren Faire for the weekend with The Girls though. Not the same thing.

THREE: Attend the Writer’s Workshop every(ish) month.
I really want to work on my stories/books/series this year. It’s once a month, on a Tuesday, and I think I need to make that a priority.
**Semi-Accomplished** I went to a couple, then got lazy. The main problem is that half of the writers didn’t say much, and the other half were SO not in my field. I am going to try again for this year though. Writing is fun for me, and I owe it to myself to hone my craft, even if it is only a hobby. For now. This has been updated for 2011’s list.
2012: That’s good advice, self. You should pay attention. 

FOUR: Get more kid-friendly exercise.
Now that the boys are older and more active, it’s a little easier to plan excursions with fitness as a focus. We all have kids and I have a bike rack for the car, so I think that’s going to be something we do more of this year. The boys are also into skating, so we’re going to get back into that habit again, too.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We’ve been hiking, biking, skating, swimming and Wii Fitted… and we’re continuing in this vein this year! Go me!!
2012: suckage for 2011.  It was insanely cold, then ridiculously hot and I’m being whiney and lazy. Better goals for this year!

FIVE: Go TV-FREE for one week per month and for one month during the summer.
I have no idea how this will work since Loverly Husband is completely opposed to the idea, but I would like to try it. We already don’t have much TV time when school is in session (no TV in the mornings, and no TV until homework is done) so it’s not like we watch a ton of TV as it is, but I do know that my kids are much more imaginative when the TV is not there to influence them and I want to see more of that.
**FAIL** Well, kinda. We actually don’t watch all that much TV. The boys are not allowed to watch TV or play video games on school days, so that’s the bulk of the week. The time they do have is squished between when ‘chores are done’ and ‘dinner’ so free-tv time is rare. Video games, however… they’re all about them and will spend as much time as allowed on them. We’ll be curtailing this come January 3rd.
2012: We’ve actually enforced this a couple of times. The kids have been playing more video games, but they’ve had less ‘free’ days… so I think it evens out. We’re going to cut them back this year again though. More outside time!

SIX: Work on getting Mom’s old pictures into digital format
Mom has TONS of pictures that I want and since she won’t part with them I need to make an effort this year to get them in digital format, both for preservation purposes and just to have.
**FAIL** Yeah… not so much. I did get a fantastic external hard drive this year, so now I actually have space to put all those pictures. Maybe in 2011…
2012: Because I don’t have enough of my own pictures to put on discs, I had to take on someone else’s photo-library?? What was I thinking?? I am retroactively striking this from the list.

SEVEN: Savings & Retirement plans
We’re doing pretty well in this regard, so it’s not a major thing to have to ‘resolve’ to do, but I like having it on my list because it IS something we need to focus on. SO the plan is to continue adding money to our savings accounts, to the kids’ savings accounts (and college funds), and into our retirement. We’ve been talking about getting a new car this year, and about painting the outside of the house and landscaping a bit, and it would be nice to follow through with those plans.
** ACCOMPLISHED** We bought a new (to us) Honda Odyssey in April 2010, about bought our house in June. Loverly Husband took care of all the retirement plan financial stuff, so we’re doing well! The landscaping and painting are in the plans for the next couple of months.
2012: Yep – Loverly Husband is still on top of this. Landscaping and home improvements are all still on the list as money becomes available.

EIGHT: Be more crafty
I really have missed arts and crafts. I’ve cut back on my “work and volunteering” schedule, so I am going to use the ‘extra’ time to do the things I enjoy. I want to do a glass project for the living room window, batik the curtains in the living room, make blackout curtains for our bedroom and the boys’ room, re-cover the couch… among other things. Plus, I need to work on scrapbooking and having pictures from recent years printed. I also would like to work on drawing and painting.
**ACCOMPLISHED** With multiple craft-days under my belt this year, and many crafty-projects with the kids, this is well done! Not these exact things, maybe; I made new curtains for the living room, decided not to cover the couch at all and blacked out my bedroom windows with foil and tape. Not as classy, maybe, but it’s hella-freaking-dark even at mid-day in there, so that’s done. The kids don’t want it to be that dark in their room…
2012: Two words: ART JOURNALS. Love them and have been having SO much fun with them! Eventually, I’ll have them all loaded to my DeviantART account, but that hasn’t happened yet. I’ve also made several crafts projects for friends, so I’m definitely still feeling the craftstravaganza vibe and hope it continues.

NINE: Learn more about homeopathy
I have a fairly decent foundation (not that I’m an expert or anything), but I’d like to learn more and utilize this more in day-to-day life.
**ACCOMPLISHED** I’m not an expert by any means, but we’ve relied much less this past year on western medicine than we have in years past, and I know more about treating the underlying cause of something than simply masking symptoms, so I’d call this well done as well. I plan to continue educating myself, and am thankful to have several friends who are willing to share the knowledge!
2012: Actually, it’s not ‘homeopathy’, it’s naturo-pathy that I like/use/meant. And yes; still into it.

Here’s an update on 2009’s resolutions:


Numero uno:
Stop obsessing about things.
2010: Ummm… yeah. So I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. “Stop obsessing” is like saying I’m planning on not breathing this year. FAIL.
2011: no change.
2012: added an anti-anxiety med to my anti-depressant meds… it’s nice so far; need to up the dose, I think, but I am definitely less stressed over minor nothings.


Numero dos:
Help the kids to listen to their bodies more and learn to understand the feeling of, and be able to voice “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” instead of falling apart at inopportune moments.
2010: I’d say that this one is accomplished. Not in the sense that this is something that is ever “done” with, but I think it was something we worked on, not just for the kids, but for myself as well.
2011: This is an ongoing exercise for us. Food affects me and the kids so much, and it’s a struggle to respect its power without obsessing or over-focusing on it.
2012: ditto.


Numero tres:
Stick to SP goals.
2010: Well… this one got pushed aside this year. Between being pregnant for the first part of the year, and then grieving throughout the last half of the year, I am just glad I haven’t gained 20lbs. 5 is acceptable and easier to get rid of.
2011: I’m back on the wagon, with some friends to help motivate and keep me accountable. We’ve already started, and are doing well!
2012: meh. I’m working on it.


Numero quatro:
Finish DONA cert.
2010: Eh… I didn’t do this, but it’s still the same ole thing I have been debating about since the beginning. Certification is nice to have, but not necessary and may be too limiting. BFF and I are planning goals for WMC on Monday, so we’ll re-hash this again and decide what we want to do about it.
2011: I can pretty much cross this off my list. I’m not interested in being a doula anymore. I’ve also retired from LLL Leadership this year, so my attention is focused in other areas.
2012: Same; I am happy volunteering with the Beaumont Breastfeeding Coalition when I can and/or the mood strikes with no further obligation. 


Numero cinqo:
Continue de-cluttering house and down-sizing possessions. Get rid of things I don’t love, use or need, including shoes, baby clothes and extra furniture.
2010: This is a mixture of yes and no… yes b/c I have definitely been downsizing, esp over the last couple of months, but the baby clothes and stuff I have kept and will keep as there may be a need for them at some point. We’re still kinda unclear on that point, too.
2011: Ongoing… forever?
2012: ditto…


Nombre six (… switching to French now, because 5 is as high as I can spell en espanol without looking it up. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.): {edited on 12/31/2010 to add that since ‘cuatro’ is how you spell four in Spanish, it would appear that I can only spell to three…lol. Funny that it took 2 years to realize that.}
Home Improvements: Repaint and redecorate my bedroom and re-finish the kitchen cabinets. Design and complete the mural for the boy’s room, and re-do their decor. Rugs for various rooms, extra storage bins and cabinets, etc…
2010:… not so much. On any of that, actually.
2011:Eh.. some of that got done, some didn’t in 2010. The mural is ever incomplete, but we’re painting everything in a couple of months, so it’s fine.
2012: ongoing… home decor is much more expensive than I previously realized, but we have a plan. My bedroom is done; kids are up next.


Nombre sept:
Work on kids’ scrapbooks and get big pictures into frames. Lapbook the boy’s previous years’ school work. Better organize craft supplies and find the damn high-temp hot glue gun! Get a label maker. Try really hard not to label every single conceivable thing in my house. Figure out where the holiday boxes will live when not in season.
2010: …ditto.
2011: Yeah… not so much. That last part is a big one since we’re losing our storage room in a couple of months!
2012: Still working on some of this; not so much the scrapbooking thing – I’ve been art journaling, not srcapbooking. One day the mood will strike again and I will love it. Until then, it remains in storage. Plans to get the school room storage situation under control this year are underway.


Nombre huit:
Either buy gumballs for the gumball machine or get rid of it.
2010: DONE! We bought more gumballs. There are still some in the machine, too!
2011: Why aren’t all of my resolutions so simple and easy to accomplish?? I think I’ll start adding at least one challenge to my resolutions list. This year: be vegan for a week!
2012: this is a throw-away resolution. I am including at least one every year, I think. 



Nombre neuf:
… That’s all I can think of for now. I need to print this list out for myself so I can keep track of sticking with them. Now, I need to go back and see how I did for last year.
{Edited to add:  found a number nine!} Create outlines for all the story concepts I have written.
2010: Yes and no – I did outlines for some of them and have started an outline for most of them.
2011: I’ve really slacked on my fiction this year. I’ve blogged pretty faithfully though.. does that count?
2012: While not exactly kicking ass, I have been slowly plodding away at my stories. Progress=progress, yes?


As for 2008’s resolutions, Ha! I didn’t write them till the 6th last year, so I’m ahead of the game this year. To recap:


1) It’s called a budget! I need to make one and stick to it. More importantly, I should probably let my loverly husband in on the what’s what so he isn’t surprised by the complete lack of money that we have going.
2009: Yeah… we actually have been doing much better in the cash-flow department this year. I’m fairly proud of that, so I think I can call this one “accomplished” and we’ll say maintain this instead of making it a new resolution.
2010: We did VERY well this year in this regard. I can say that we’re progressing nicely on this front. We eliminated credit cards a couple of years ago, so that’s a big hassle that we don’t have to mess with anymore. This year, we’re funneling more money into savings and retirement. I’m proud of that!
2011: Loverly Husband took over all the budgeting of funds early in 2010, so… yay! He’s better at it than I am. We’re definitely in a better place financially now that we were back in 2007/8. It’s nice to be able to look back and see progress happening.
2012: Loverly Husband is still Mr. Finance. I have less and less to do with money and I like it that way.


2) Complete my Childbirth Doula Certification and Trustbirth Facilitator Application
2009: This is kind of a done deal (DONA) – but I’m making it an actual resolution so that when it’s done I can cross it off the list. Actually, I’m not doing TrustBirth at all – after thinking more about it, I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s not that I disagree with them, exactly, just that I am a little more open-minded about things. As for the birth doula cert, I am still working on it, and am actually doing DONA now instead of CBI, which was what I was looking at then. DONA is different, and either way, I need certain criteria to certify and I haven’t been as on top of it as I had planned. Can I blame part of this on Hurricanes Gustav and Ike?
2010: see above.
2011: Let me explain… I had all of my certification stuff done – all I needed to do was send it in and pay for it. I was waiting on BFF to get her breastfeeding education requirement done so we could submit our applications together, and got pregnant, then miscarried… Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a doula, and therefore see no reason to pay for the certification. So. That’s the what’s what on this.
2012: ditto…


3) Keep my prescriptions filled and faithfully take my medicines daily … so that I don’t end up needing my rescue inhaler multiple times daily and end up on the nebulizer like I did 2 weeks ago.
2009: I suck at doing this. I HATE taking meds EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s a huge hassle (and could it be any clearer that I am barely taking anything at all right now, which is why I am defensive about it?) I have kept up with asthma and allergy meds though, which is a good thing… so this is a “halfway” for me.
2010: I STILL suck at this. Something about this time of year. I have not been keeping my Rx filled and have been using the neb for the last couple of weeks. Ugh.
2011: Better this year… I’m off of some of them and need to refill others. This is going to be one of those on-going things for me, I think.
2012: ongoing… new meds this year; anti-depressant & anti-anxiety. It’s helping. Now to stick with them.


4) Stick with SparkPeople I slacked off in about August, so I’m starting over with that, kinda. So far, a week in and I’m doing well, so go me!
2009: Since I’m basically starting over again, and it’s on this year’s list, I guess  didn’t keep this one either.
2010: See above.
2011: Ditto this year… I lost 80lbs the first go-round with SP, then my weight-loss plateaued and I got discouraged. I managed to keep it off for a while, then have, over the course of 3 or 4 years, have put back on about 30lbs. That sucks. So, along with a couple of friends, I’m re-committing myself. It’s in 2011’s #5.
2012: *expletive deleted*


5) Wear hats more often because I like them.
2009: Ha! I SO did 🙂 I bought, like 4 new hats and have worn them all. And they look awesome, if I do say so myself. Go me!
2010: I’m still keeping this one faithfully 🙂 That makes me happy.
2011: ditto 🙂 My hat collection is ever-growing and still awesome.
2012: chapeaux + NicCuinn = even more awesome as time goes by. This remains one of my favorite NYR’s.


6) WRITE!! I have no less than 7 stories outlined, and 5 more concepts written that I need to work on if they are ever to become actual reading material. So my goal is to devote a little time each week to write something, even if I don’t like it and end up deleting it.
2009: Fleshing out already-written storylines? No. Adding all the newly thought-of concepts into word.docs? Yes! So another half-assed accomplishment on my part. I’m going to add “making an outline for all story concepts” above.
2010: I have been feeling more creative lately and have started a couple of new concepts that need to be fleshed out. As long as I keep doing that, I am happy with this level of progress.
2011:Yeah… homeschooling leaves very little time for writing fiction. That’s a total cop-out, but that’s my excuse for doing absolutely NO writing this year, fiction-wise. I did come up with a new non-fiction concept for a children’s book series, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. I’m making notes on it now (like right this minute …. okay – I have an overview of the series written now) – so that’s something, at least, lol.
2012: And Skying/collaborating with AnnA. Lots of it.


7) Maintain the clutter-clearage that’s been going on. because I don’t want to end up like one of those people with an un-livable home due to all the unusable crap stored in it, I’m going to continue whittling down my collectibles (not that there’s that many that aren’t in printed format) and other assorted crap so that it at least looks like we have space in our house.
2009: I guess I’m kind-of on the same page as last year with this. I got rid of a TON of crap over the past year, so this is another “maintaining” for me. I’ll leave it as above though, because I have more specific goals in mind for this year.
2010: see above
2011: ditto
2012: ditto


8). Make more time for me. As a wife and mom, I have a full plate – add starting a new business to that and you can see how much time I don’t have. So my goal is to take a few hours sans anyone else and concentrate on me once a week (if I can swing that, but once a month is probably more realistic).
2009: This has been a lot easier since both boys have been in school. So I guess I’ll mark that as an “accomplished” too.
2010: I have been keeping this one.
2011: Oh, I just thought I was busy before…homeschooling is possibly the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken yet. It requires almost constant thought and attention on my part. On the plus side, my Loverly Husband is incredibly supportive and has both encouraged and made it easy for me to go exercise with my sister or grab coffee with a friend in the evenings. My resolution for this year is to stop feeling guilty about it!
2012: Yes – homeschooling time commitment is eternal. Coffee out and a weekend trip to Ren Faire with the girls this past year was amazing. Definitely on the list of traditions to continue. Also, meeting more personal spiritual nourishment goals has helped. Planning to continue in this vein.


9) Whole Mothering Center I don’t know how much we will be able accomplish this year due to external factors, but I want us to accomplish all that we three are able to.
2009: The “three” isn’t the same three as it was when this was written, and I think that we’ve done pretty well. We’re well into our 2nd year, and with the Ike evacs and BFF’s birth, the last few months have been slow, but we’re gearing up for an eventful year with WMC. So this is another thing I think I can say “accomplished” on.
2010: 2009 was rough on many fronts. I am hoping that 2010 will be a better year for WMC.
2011: I’ve pretty much phased myself out of WMC. BFF is continuing with her own plans, including starting midwifery school in Jan 2011, and I will be involved as much as I can, but it’s pretty much her show now. My attention and focus is elsewhere these days, and though I miss being in the place in my life where WMC was my dream, I’m excited about what the future now holds, both for my BFF and WMC and for myself.
2012: I miss being involved, but am so glad to see BFF continue meeting her goals. Also very glad to see WMC and the BBC flourish, if not quite in the ways we’d first envisioned. I am still proud to be part of the community of support for natural mothering in our area. My attention is still focused elsewhere, but my future goals are leaning in a similar direction – I’d like to go to school and work in counseling with new mothers and families once my kids are grown.


10) (because ten is a nice, round, reasonable number) I can’t think of anything else, but I’m going to format this like there is an actual resolution here anyway. because it looks better and because I can. So there.
LOL – I think it’s funny that I can only ever think of nine. I did the same thing this year. But it’s edited to add the writing one update 😉
2012: nine has become the tradition. I see no reason to alter that now!



That last bit still makes me smile. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s resolutions and to seeing how you fared from last year. Good luck reaching them and Happy New Year!!

Warmly,
~h

Questions From a Teacher

Alistair Bomphray of  Teacher Revised.org wrote an article in 2009 called Homeschool Teacher,  meet Public School Teacher. Now Hug. In it, he expressed his thoughts regarding another article that was posted to his site that was a condemnation of homeschooling by a seemingly young and idealistic teacher that had homeschool feathers ruffling all over the place.

The original article was brought up in a homeschooling support group I’m in as a ‘hey, need a break – check this ridiculousness out’ type of joke, and while reading  some of  the links on that article, I came across a list of questions that Mr. Bomphray asked and felt like addressing them* – all in good, fun, of course. Some of this is quite serious, other bits are tongue in cheek; I’ll leave it to you to make the distinctions.

Mr. Bomphray asked:

As a public school teacher who knows very little about homeschooling, I would love to know what it takes to be a good homeschool teacher. I have questions like, How do you balance being both parent and teacher to your child?

For me, there is only a distinction when we’re having a really bad day. I have been known to insist that my kids call me Mrs. LastName instead of Mom, but usually only during those moments where there is a constant wailing stream of ‘buuuut Mo-ooooom’ from the peanut gallery at the beginning of an unwanted assignment.

Frankly, I think this is kind of an odd question. As a parent, you begin teaching your child from the moment he is first placed in your arms. Your job as their parent is to teach them – through example, through gentle molding, through outright lessons… we do it all, all the time. Even unconsciously, we’re teaching our children, whether we like it or not. Homeschooling is simply an extension of that. I would find it odd to withhold a ‘lesson’ because it’s ‘parenting time’ or stop being ‘mom’ because it’s ‘school time’.

I won’t lie; it’s a difficult job. Homeschooling adds pressure and stress to an already 24/7 job that some people either can’t or don’t want to take on, and that’s fine; that’s one of the many reasons why homeschooling isn’t for everyone. Homeschooling is simply one of many educational options out there. Homeschooling doesn’t make you a better or more dedicated parent; not homeschooling doesn’t mean that you’re uninterested or uninvolved in your child’s education.

Balancing the job of ‘parent’ and ‘teacher’ is easy some days and hard some days… I think for many homeschooling families, consciously looking for learning opportunities just becomes an extension of their parenting – it does for us. Though we do have more formal/structured ‘school’ time, we also incorporate education into other things and places and activities – I think that many (most? all??) families do that; it’s not a trail exclusive to homeschooling families.

How do you incorporate technology into your lessons? How do you go about teaching a subject you know very little about?

I am putting these two questions together because they go hand-in-hand. I am somewhat unclear what this question is referring to by ‘technology’ in this case, so I am just guessing here.

Dictionary.com defines technology as, ‘ The application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, esp. in industry: “computer technology“; “recycling technologies“.‘ In homeschooling, we do this in so many ways… the computer is literally at our fingertips – anything you want to know is a Google search away. Videos, experiment outlines, lesson plans –  organizations like NASA and even Ivy League schools have free resources that are accessible online. This puts almost anything within my reach – and what I personally don’t know, I can usually find someone that we know who can teach it. If I can’t, then there are tutors available for hire in almost any city.

If we can’t find it online, then we start looking in the community. Our city has a local college and in my experience, many teachers are ready and willing to help anyone who wants to learn. Several local professors have websites that are designed to be used by the community for homework helps; we take advantage of those resources. When we can find people who are willing to share what they know – whatever that is in a classroom setting or in a demonstration, we take advantage of their willingness to share.

It’s been my experience that museums, places of interest and even businesses are willing to work with homeschool groups because the groups are small and the kids are really engaged and interested in the subject being taught, discussed or demonstrated. Our homeschool group has an outing every week – sometimes for purely social gatherings, but most often, there is an academic component that is the focus of the trip. We travel up to 2 hours away, which puts us in touch with resources not only in our city, but also in neighboring cities – universities, museums, businesses – anyone who is willing to offer us something interesting.

I think that these kinds of trips are at least as valuable if not more so than 8 hours desking it every week.

How much homework do you give? Is it even called ‘homework’ when it’s assigned at home?

I don’t assign ‘homework’, as in, ‘lessons that must be completed on your own, as practice or to reinforce the lesson, outside of class time’. My kids do have ‘homework’ in the sense of, ‘you goofed off during class time and now you have to finish this in your free time’.

In my experience, homework is assigned for several reasons:

  • to help the student practice the concept learned in class today/this week
  • to reinforce or practice more advanced versions of the lesson
  • to cover material that the teacher did not have time to cover in class
  • to prepare the student for the next day’s lesson/discussion/lecture
  • to prepare for college level courses where the bulk of the work is going to be independently completed
Some of this is reasonable, and in the classroom context, necessary. My kids are in elementary school, so we’re still covering basics at this age. They don’t need to be working independently; they need to be well versed in core maths and skilled in application of grammar, spelling and writing techniques. They need a firm foundation of knowledge in history, and a working knowledge of science and the scientific process. I also think they need to be exposed to art and music, both hands-on and general knowledge-wise.
Because I am only responsible for two minds and not 26, I have time to devote to helping them fully develop and master these skills. I have time to linger when their interest is piqued, and plenty of time to come back to it if they’re utterly uninterested in it this month.
The school system is set up with First Graders learning ABC and twelfth graders learning XYZ. You can’t tailor the educational structure for a child who is a math genius, but reads at a 3rd grade reading level, or for this child who couldn’t care less about music, but loves to build scale replica models of architectural wonders out of toothpicks. You use your child’s strengths to tailor his education to how he learns and the subjects he’s most interested in to fit in the things he’s not. Because we homeschoolers are ‘allowed’ this flexibility, and because we’re not bound (at least in my state) by the public education system’s ‘rules’ regarding which information can be made available to and is standard knowledge for what age, we don’t have to assign homework to keep up with the planner.
Our kids also get plenty of time and experience to work independently and even present their findings research-paper style, and our homeschool group is working on hosting presentation opportunities for the kids so they can rack up some public speaking skills.

Do your students have to take the same standardized tests as mine? If so, how much test prep do you do each week? In short, I want to know your best (and worst) practices.

In Texas, we are considered a private school and don’t have to test. There are a zillion blogs on the merits of testing and a zillion more from the rabid opposers that state, quite succinctly, why testing is pointless. In any case, I’m not interested in having that discussion right now, so I’ll leave it at, ‘nuthin’ but the facts, ma’am’ and move on.

And as homeschool teachers, aren’t you just as curious about the life of a public school teacher? If for nothing else, to rethink and reshape your own teaching philosophies?

Absolutely, I’m interested in how teachers do things and why, all with an eye towards improving my own teaching skills. I think it’s a mistake to assume that all teachers have something worthwhile to share just because they have a teaching degree. I also think it’s folly to assume that all homeschooling parents are so arrogant as to assume that they know everything about educating their child.

Almost all of the homeschooling parents I know take their own education as teachers just as seriously as they do their children’s. Personally, I look for continuing education courses offered in my community and find out of they’re open to homeschooling parents. That may not ‘count’ professionally, but the information is no less valid because I’m not turning in those hours to an accreditation agency. It still helps me to refine my skills, learn new techniques and ideas and pick the brains of classroom teachers to find out what they can offer my kids.

Home educating is not a hobby. It’s not something that most parents undertake on a whim, or one that they only put a half-hearted effort into. When you become a parent, whatever your children do and achieve reflects on you – you’re held responsible for the good and the bad. Once they reach school age, it’s still on you, but you also gain a partner in crime. If your kids don’t learn, then blame – at least part of it – can be foisted off onto the school system (who then shuffle the blame back onto the parents). But when you’re homeschooling, it’s ALL on you – the successes, the gaps, the achievements and the lacks. As education plays an ever more important role in successful futures, no homeschooling parent feels that pressure lightly.

In response to the very first comment,

I would love to know what it takes to be a good homeschool teacher.

I think that the same things that make good parents make good homeschool teachers. I don’t necessarily claim to be either, but I do put a lot of effort into it and I see my children progressing and developing and learning and hear comments along the same lines from friends, relatives, museum directors, tour guides and park rangers. Based on that, I think that at the very least,  I’m not screwing them up any worse that the public school system would be. But I think I’m doing a much better job than ‘the very least’.

In closing, Mr. Bombay wrote:

We’re all teachers here, and therefore we’re all in this together. You love your students as if they were your own children, because, well, they are your own children. Well, we public school teachers try to do the same.

Forgive me if I sound a little like the Steve Carell character from Anchormanwhen he yells, “I DON”T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT!” But that’s kind of how I feel.

Deep breath. Now exhale.

Indeed, my friend. Indeed.

Warmly,

~h

* Disclaimer: I am only one homeschooling parent among myriads. I can only speak to my own experiences, ideas and musings; your perspective may vary greatly. That doesn’t make either of us wrong; it just makes us different.


Lazy Summer Days

This is undoubtedly something that we just don’t get enough of around here. Take, for example, this week… we’re out of school (it’s one of our regularly scheduled week-long breaks in our year-round school schedule) and so far, we’ve been go-go-go, and will continue to be so until at least Thursday. So that really only leaves us with 2 days of ‘break’ and 2 days of weekend.

Don’t get e wrong, I generally love having a busy schedule, but there are times when I look at my calendar and end up wanting to chuck it out the window. To be fair, sometimes I do shed the plans in favor of relaxing family fun, but sadly, this week will not be one of those times.

I started the week with bad news/good news. My eyes have been hurting a lot lately – very light sensitive (photophobic, almost) and almost like dry eyes but not quite… I know why; it’s because I wear disposable contacts that I don’t dispose of when I’m supposed to. I wear and wear and wear them until I can’t anymore and that’s lead to what amounts to scratches on my corneas and an incredible amount of irritation and swelling. We started off yesterday morning with a trip to the optometrist. So the bad news is that contact lenses are, for the foreseeable future, verboten. Furthermore, my future as a contact lens candidate is questionable. I’m currently on a ‘take these eye drops for a week and then come back and we’ll see’. It’s also been 7 years since my glasses prescription has been updated, so they have been woefully out of date for sometime now. I’ve been squinting through them for a while now, and I was informed that I’d fail a driving test with the current pair. The good news is that I got new glasses and rx sunglasses out of the deal.

Also, same-day service = Yay!

The rest of the week consists of trying to fit in painting my bedroom a lovely blue called ‘daring indigo’ in amongst playgroup (vegan/vegetarian & fermented foods luncheon rescheduled due to the first forecasted rainstorm in 8 months), summer reading club plans (bug cooking and eating today, a NASA presentation tomorrow) and  visiting our lovely friend SFK, whom we haven’t seen for 2 whole weeks.

One of these days though, we’re going to have to take a blanket out to the woods and just laze about with books to read and tasty cool drinks to sip. We may through a couple of  magnifying glasses and a pair of binoculars in the bag for good measure and do some exploring at the edges of the blanket or high in the trees. That sounds like a good plan to me.

Warmly,

~h


Ten Stupid Things Homeschoolers Shouldn’t Do

I found this article last night and before I post the link, let me issue a warning: stupid should hurt. It is not a quality article by any stretch of the imagination. We’re not even going to talk about the grammar…

However, this is the kind of information that is out there and I admit that I feel a certain responsibility for clearing up blatant misinformation, so this is my attempt to do just that.

Right off the bat, we’re informed that homeschooling is a ‘tedious task’, but that the we can be sure that the kids will learn what they are supposed to (presumably if we make education tedious enough… I guess if you use a non-traditional and dynamic method, your kids are doomed to idiocy). We’re also cautioned about parents who simply ‘claim’ to homeschool with very little progress. Thankfully, we’re given a list of blunders to avoid so that we don’t all into that category.

1. Preaching about homeschooling – Not every parent favors homeschooling. Some are just too busy and others do not have the ability to teach their kids at home. Pushing the idea of homeschooling only alienates you and your child in the community which is dangerous because your kids need a strong community presence.

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who ‘preaches’ about the virtues of homeschooling. Most of the homeschooling parents I know are advocates of homeschooling, yes, but I think we all realize that it is not the right choice for every parent. Homeschooling takes a tremendous amount of effort and it definitely is not feasible or desirable for every family. We know that. We even know people whom, if we found out about their desire to homeschool, we would actively discourage from trying to homeschool. But if you’re on the fence about it, talking to a homeschooling advocate can definitely give you a confidence boost enough to go ahead and try it. It’s not like ‘deciding’ your child’s educational path is the end-all, be-all decision. If you try it and it isn’t for you, then you can do something different – no harm done.

2. Setting a homeschool without additional help – There are too many ideas outside your home that can be used to properly implement homeschooling. Learn as much as you can from various groups online or in your local area. This will constantly give you fresh and smart ideas in teaching your kids.

However badly presented, this idea is a good one. I wouldn’t say that it’s ‘necessary’ to utilize outside resources (after all, few schools make use of the educational resources that their community offers to their full advantage), but it certainly can and does enhance your homeschooling experience. You’ll also offer a more dynamic lesson when your lesson incorporates ‘out of the box’ locations and resources.

3. Accepting all teaching responsibilities – Do not think that you can teach everything to your kids. This can only damage their learning process especially on the young ones. Identify the subjects you can’t handle and seek help so that you will maintain the quality of education.

This is one of those tricksy worded ‘helpful guidelines’. I daresay that as a reasonably educated adult, I am more than capable of teaching my elementary school aged child the basics of a 5-8th grade-ish education all by myself. With the inclusion of the local library and internet access, I might even extend that through high school. Personally, I would say that it is more in the later years – high school and beyond – that homeschooled students might benefit from having specialized teachers. Certainly if one knows oneself to be woefully lacking in any given subject, the responsible homeschooling parent will seek a mentor for their child.

4. Difficult schedule – One of the reasons why parents want to homeschool their kids is that they want their kids to have more time at home. Do not remove this advantage by establishing a hectic daily schedule for your kids. It is stressful for you and your kids.

This one makes no sense to me. Even the most rigorous homeschool schedule I’ve seen is less hectic than a schedule where the kids are being shuffled back and forth to classes every hour. Add in after-school stuff and that makes for a very full schedule. I don’t know of any homeschoolers who over-schedule themselves or their kids.

5. Overspending – You have to expect to spend a little bit more on books and other supplies for homeschooling. But you still have to be smart about the budget as overspending will not translate into a well-educated kid. It might even be the reason why the kid is not concentrating enough.

This one is reasonable, and makes a good point: Overspending does not result in a well-educated child. I don’t understand how more money = not concentrating, so we’re just going to ignore that part.

6. Moving forward without feedback – Assumption is the number one enemy of parents. Do not just think that your kid already knew the subject because it will only confuse your kids. Consistently ask for a feedback so that you can adjust the pace or even your teaching techniques.

The number one enemy of parents? I hardly think so. I don’t think this one makes much sense either; most homeschooling parents can see within a lesson or two whether or not their child ‘gets it’ and/or if this book/curriculum/style is working and will make those adjustments accordingly and automatically. Feedback in the form of discussion is kind of like flogging a dead horse. I will say that discussion with your child and getting ideas and input from him/her about how and what is being learned is a good idea – but that’s kind of a different point than the one being made.

7. Asking too much from your kid – Avoid stressful situations by setting realistic expectations from your kid. This will even be beneficial for your kid since he will have a good learning experience. Easy to understand subjects will be easier to learn which can be slowly adjusted depending on the kid’s response.

Again, however badly worded, this one contains a little nugget of useful insight. As a homeschooling parent, I think it is very easy to have high expectations – maybe even unrealistic expectations. Good communication with your child can help keep you both on the same page, as will resisting the urge to push them ahead or compare them with other kids.

8. Ignoring school-based ideas – Homeschooling is not a very unique system compared to regular school environment. Learn from regular teachers regarding their teaching methods and techniques and implement some of those ideas at home. Teachers are professionals who know what to do with kids so their ideas can really help in homeschooling.

I’m gong to flat-out disagree with this one. Homeschooling IS a very unique system when compared to institutionalized school environments. Classroom teachers and homeschool teachers have little on common and therefore their teaching methods can and should vary greatly. Homeschooling parent/teachers have any and all teaching methods at their disposal – the traditional teaching environment and style guarantee a good education in the exact same way that expensive materials do.

9. Pushing for more activities – More free time does not mean additional activities for the kids. Let them decide what to do with their free time and simply supervise or simply be a parent that prevents them from danger.

Again, disagree. More free time means exactly that there is more time for additional activities for the kids. Without spending 8 hours a day in a classroom, they will have more free time for activities of their choosing – academic or otherwise.

10. Not knowing when to stop– Your kid will reach an age that homeschooling is no longer an option. Parents have to recognize this stage so that they can help their kids have a normal adolescent development. Homeschooling is still a good option but should not be the only option parents should push to their kids.

Aaaaaannnndddd…. disagree. Completely. Utterly. In every way. There is no age when homeschooling suddenly becomes less beneficial. The benefits of homeschooling continue as long as there is an active parent involved. While the individual circumstance might prompt your family to choose other schooling options, homeschooling is a viable option from Kindergarten through High School Graduation – and even college or trade school (via correspondence) should one desire it. The idea that a child ‘needs’ to be in an institutionalized school environment in order to develop normally is absurd.

Since this is supposed to be a quick list of things not to do, here’s mine:

  1. Don’t spend a bunch of money on curriculum in the first year. Your style will change as will your expectations over the first year. Get a better idea of how you’ll homeschool before committing to a curriculum.
  2. Don’t stress about whether or not this is the ‘right’ thing. If you’re worried about it, that means that you’re mindfully considering your options and whatever you decide, it’s the right decision for your family right now.
  3. Don’t compare your kid, yourself or your homeschool to others. It’s not a contest.
  4. Don’t over-explain. Homeschooling is legal in most states. Learn your state’s rules and requirements and fulfill them. You don’t owe a single thing else to anyone.
  5. Don’t push – yourself or your kid. Take your time; you’ve got plenty of it!
  6. Don’t go it alone. Find like-minded families either in real life or online. Connecting with other homeschooling families is key in homeschooling success.
  7. Don’t be afraid to mix it up. Utilize every resource available to you – not all in one day, but do use them. There are a ton of resources and opportunities in your community and region. Find them.
  8. Don’t ‘cover the material’. Homeschoolers have the luxury of being able to be ‘mastery oriented’. We’re not on anyone else’s time table. Master each concept in turn, then move on – regardless of what ‘grade’ it is.
  9. Don’t burn out. Take regular breaks for yourself. You need and deserve to be well rested and centered so that you can continue giving your best to your kids.
  10. Don’t put too much stock in anyone else’s lists.

Warmly,

~h


Bloggity-Blog-Blog

Mothering Magazine posted a ‘where’s your blog‘ post on Facebook today, so I’ve spent much of this evening (child-free that it is, thanks to my sister graciously taking my heathens for tonight in exchange for my taking hers tomorrow since Fred is on Spring Break this week) browsing some awesome mama-blogs whilst watching television.

Since I’ve been hit by some of them, I thought I’d recommend a few (you know, in case your reader has been looking a little light lately). Not all are homeschooling blogs, but they caught my eye and I’m sure you’ll find them stimulating as well. If you’re a natural/crunchy mama, then the original link above will bring you all kinds of blog-linky goodness for days.

Stay at Home Mayhem‘s definitive posts on self, life and motherhood make for fun reading (pun intended… because she titles her posts with a word, then defines it and expands upon it in the text.) Clevah.

Mt. Moe Academy – “Make the Most of Every Day”, aka ‘Mt. Moe’ features posts by all the members of the family – a neat concept that, while not particularly wordy, has great pictures and great ideas. Be sure to check out the awesome pianos in Can You Play?

Pink and Green Mama is a former teacher turned stay at home mom with over 400 crafty activities to make and do. We’re particularly enchanted with the pine cone elves. It’s a Christmas decorating post, but we’re thinking they’ll look great as fairies in our living playhouse once the flowers climb and bloom!

Renegade Mothering has her fair share of sass and apparently the most beautiful baby on the planet. I’m thinking she might be biased because clearly, she hasn’t seen MY babies, but that’s neither here nor there. Her ruminations of the changes that year 9 brings to the mother-child dynamic brought tears to my eyes (so naturally, never one to suffer alone or in silence, I want to make you people cry, too). Go read it and tell me she didn’t hit the nail on the head.

And through her, I found Checking the Electrical Box. I’m adding the directives in Driving Miss Crazy to my living will immediately. Continuing to read requires a coffee-warning: no drinking while reading lest your computer suffer incalculable damage (unless your extended warranty is expiring soon and you need a new one – after all, that’s what ‘accident’ means, right??).

Blog on!

Warmly,

~h

Disclaimer: While I do, in fact, read all of the blogs in my blogroll (located in the sidebar), I need to clarify that I don’t read them all in one day… or even check in as often as I should. I just wanted to let you know that so you don’t think I sit on my butt for hours at a time reading blogs. Because that almost never happens. Really.


Welcome Back!

Monday, January 3, 2011: Year 2, Day 1 of homeschooling at T.H.E. Academy. If you’re new to ThisAdventureLife, I bid you welcome. If you’re back on the blogging wagon with the beginning of the new year and just rolling through to see what we’re up to, welcome back.

Let me start with an intro. Our cast of characters includes me, your hostess with the mostest, recently crowned ‘Queen of Homeschooling’ by an admirer, the Divine Miss ~h. {beauty pageant wave} My kids are 9-year-old LittleBoyBlue and 7.5-year-old PeaGreen. They’re somewhere between 2nd and 4th grade, depending on what subject you’re asking about, and between 3rd and 5th grades if you’re talking reading-level. For sanity’s sake, we’re calling it ‘Year 2’ and leaving it at that. The daddy-shaped figure in our home is Loverly Husband, gamer geek and techno-wizard-extraordinnaire. But enough about us…

I’ve taken the last month or so off from frequent blogging because we’ve been out of school. Our school year runs from January through the beginning of December, then we’re off for the month. Like most people, we have birthdays and holidays and family obligations that keep us busy during that time, so we plan our school year with a break in mind. After reading some blogs from families who don’t take off, I’m thinking that was a good plan! With all that vacation and relaxation, it’s given us plenty of time to rest up and start anticipating being back ‘in school’. I’ve also missed you people in blog-land! Now that our year is starting up again, I’ll be blogging pretty often again.

I wanted to take this opportunity to open the floor to questions. If you’re curious about something that I’ve written about or done, please feel free to ask in the comments. I’m not an expert (crown notwithstanding), but I’ll definitely have an opinion or two for you to contemplate. {wink}

I’m scheduling this post, so it will go up while we’re doing lessons. I’ll probably update it in the evening with a re-cap of our day, so check back if you’re interested in how our ‘first day’ went. If you’re starting back today too, then comment with a link to your blog and tell us how your first day back went, too!

Warmly,

~h

 

 


NYR: The 2011 Version

For the past few years, I’ve blogged my NYR’s on my MySpace blog. But since no one uses MySpace anymore, I’ve decided to import my resolutions here. My usual format is to post this year’s resolutions, and then do a re-cap of previous year’s with progress reports as needed. It’s a long post (so feel free to skip most of it. I’m blogging this more for my own accountability and record-keeping than for public consumption), but I find it entertaining and see no reason to alter that format, so without further adieu, here are 2011’s New Year’s Resolutions (completed on 12/31 and scheduled to be posted on 1/1 – FINALLY, a resolutions post made on the first day of the New Year!):

1: Home Blessing – this has been on the books for a while, and will finally see real progress this year. This resolution encompasses all the de-cluttering/cleaning goals from years past and includes anything related to making our home a nicer place to live in. We’re planning a major re-decorating/face-lift to our house in the spring, including painting inside and out, switching our bedroom into the master bedroom (which is currently doing time as a storage/library/craft room) and putting the boys in their own bedrooms. We’ll also do some appliance upgrades and redecorate. I’m excited!!

2: Teach the boys to cook. SFK was bragging about her 9-year-old dd making a four-course meal; I’m jealous and so shall attempt to teach the boys more about the culinary arts this year. The goal is to have them make at least one full meal each by… December 1st. That should give me plenty of time.

3: Attend a Writer’s Conference/Workshop (or a homeschooling one). Both would be ideal, but attendance at one or the other will fulfill this one. This is a re-hash of a previous resolution; before it was ‘attend monthly group meetings’. I think that the monthly group would be good to do, too, but I really want to try for a conference or workshop that is more in my field (so romance or sci-fi/fantasy or para-normal romance. And no, you can’t read them…yet).

4: Try veganism on for a week. I’ve tried vegetarianism on (it doesn’t fit), but never veganism. It’ll be a challenge.

5: Personal Growth. This is the one that I am lumping the rest of my writing goals and all of my health/weight loss goals into, as well as parenting goals (such as putting into practice/deeper study of NVC). I always have a couple of these listed, and I think it’s kinda cheating to have 4 of the same, on-going goals… so. I’m also putting things like: continue meeting meditation and spiritual goals, making time for ‘me’, blogging/writing something daily, etc. Some friends and I are re-committing to SparkPeople.com for this year (so if you wanna join me, come on!). I have many goals in that particular department, but I blog there too, so that’s where most of that goes.

6:  Date Night with Loverly Husband at least 1x per month. We used to do this at least that often, but this year, it seems like that’s taken a backseat. Between homeschooling and him working more, it’s been harder to find time to go out. It’s not a ‘problem’, but I’d rather focus on this now, before it becomes a problem. One the plus side, we did get a mini-break in 2010, with plans for another in a couple of months. Yay!!

7: Dye my hair. Note to self: For the love of all that is salon, please visit the beauty supply shop and DO SOMETHING about your hair!!!! It’s been months – MONTHS – since you’ve put color in it. You have 6 inches of natural hair color. WTF?? That’s simply unacceptable. One cannot remain worthy of the moniker ‘Rainbow Brite’ with one’s natural hair color slapping people in the face. Before the month of January is out, you must fix this! And keep it fixed. All year.

8: Plan for lunch out better. When the kids were little, I had food for them on me all. the. time. I breastfed them for 3 years each, and I believe that had an effect on how they eat now. They’ve always eaten frequent small meals throughout the day; with no big meals and no set times, that meant that as an in-tune mama I needed to keep food in the bag so that I could meet their needs. When they started school, they had to adjust to a more common eating schedule and I got out of the habit of keeping food with us. Since we started homeschooling, they’ve fallen back into their normal eating patterns but I have not. So my goal for this year is to plan for food better – packing a cooler with appropriate small meals and snacks when we go out. This will help me with #5 as well.

9: Do something about my wardrobe. I am putting this one separate from the ‘home blessing’ because it’s not really about making space or de-cluttering (though that does play a part). I have a bunch of clothes that don’t fit (both too small and too large) and that are out-dated that I’ve held on to. It’s time to let go! I don’t necessarily need new clothes (though if certain portions of #5 are carried out, I may), but I would like for the clothes that are taking up my space to be ones that I like and wear.

I would do 10 because it’s such a nice, round number, but it’s become somewhat of a tradition to only make 9. So that’s my list for this year. I don’t usually post progress reports during the year, so don’t feel bad if you forget all about them until the end of December, lol. This officially concludes the ‘current resolutions’ portion of this post. If you’re interested to see how previous resolutions have held up over the years, feel free to read on!

2010’s Resolutions and Progress Report: Written on Jan. 2, 2010: Doing better… last year, I didn’t write resolutions till the 4th. That’s progress, baby!

ONE: Continue making progress on the home front.
I’m going to include all the things that are in reference to “home blessing” from previous years, such as redecorating, de-cluttering and the like. It’s still in the plan, but it’s something that can be chipped away at slowly. There are a couple of specifics that I want to focus on like:
-my office (switching our bedroom to the office and the office to our bedroom) and the redecorating that goes along with that.
-the hallway bathroom (I’d really like to work on that this year)
-decluttering and organizing (all over)
**Semi-Accomplished** We actually lost the office when we started homeschooling. I do have to say that I’ve rocked the decluttering thing this year though. About twice a month, I take at least one bag of stuff to Goodwill and still have more to go. The switching didn’t happen, but will this year, and the bathroom also did not get attention (though I did paint in there). Everything will get a face-lift this year though… so yay!

TWO: Take a mini-break with Loverly Husband without the kids.
I want to go somewhere, just the two of us, with no kids, for a whole weekend. It’s been over 8 years since we’ve gone away for some time alone, so I think we’re due.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We went with my brother and SIL to Galveston for a long weekend, and have plans to go to San Antonio this year. Yay!

THREE: Attend the Writer’s Workshop every(ish) month.
I really want to work on my stories/books/series this year. It’s once a month, on a Tuesday, and I think I need to make that a priority.
**Semi-Accomplished** I went to a couple, then got lazy. The main problem is that half of the writers didn’t say much, and the other half were SO not in my field. I am going to try again for this year though. Writing is fun for me, and I owe it to myself to hone my craft, even if it is only a hobby. For now. This has been updated for 2011’s list.

FOUR: Get more kid-friendly exercise.
Now that the boys are older and more active, it’s a little easier to plan excursions with fitness as a focus. We all have kids and I have a bike rack for the car, so I think that’s going to be something we do more of this year. The boys are also into skating, so we’re going to get back into that habit again, too.
**ACCOMPLISHED** We’ve been hiking, biking, skating, swimming and Wii Fitted… and we’re continuing in this vein this year! Go me!!

FIVE: Go TV-FREE for one week per month and for one month during the summer.
I have no idea how this will work since Loverly Husband is completely opposed to the idea, but I would like to try it. We already don’t have much TV time when school is in session (no TV in the mornings, and no TV until homework is done) so it’s not like we watch a ton of TV as it is, but I do know that my kids are much more imaginative when the TV is not there to influence them and I want to see more of that.
**FAIL** Well, kinda. We actually don’t watch all that much TV. The boys are not allowed to watch TV or play video games on school days, so that’s the bulk of the week. The time they do have is squished between when ‘chores are done’ and ‘dinner’ so free-tv time is rare. Video games, however… they’re all about them and will spend as much time as allowed on them. We’ll be curtailing this come January 3rd.

SIX: Work on getting Mom’s old pictures into digital format
Mom has TONS of pictures that I want and since she won’t part with them I need to make an effort this year to get them in digital format, both for preservation purposes and just to have.
**FAIL** Yeah… not so much. I did get a fantastic external hard drive this year, so now I actually have space to put all those pictures. Maybe in 2011…

SEVEN: Savings & Retirement plans
We’re doing pretty well in this regard, so it’s not a major thing to have to ‘resolve’ to do, but I like having it on my list because it IS something we need to focus on. SO the plan is to continue adding money to our savings accounts, to the kids’ savings accounts (and college funds), and into our retirement. We’ve been talking about getting a new car this year, and about painting the outside of the house and landscaping a bit, and it would be nice to follow through with those plans.
** ACCOMPLISHED** We bought a new (to us) Honda Odyssey in April 2010, about bought our house in June. Loverly Husband took care of all the retirement plan financial stuff, so we’re doing well! The landscaping and painting are in the plans for the next couple of months.

EIGHT: Be more crafty
I really have missed arts and crafts. I’ve cut back on my “work and volunteering” schedule, so I am going to use the ‘extra’ time to do the things I enjoy. I want to do a glass project for the living room window, batik the curtains in the living room, make blackout curtains for our bedroom and the boys’ room, re-cover the couch… among other things. Plus, I need to work on scrapbooking and having pictures from recent years printed. I also would like to work on drawing and painting.
**ACCOMPLISHED** With multiple craft-days under my belt this year, and many crafty-projects with the kids, this is well done! Not these exact things, maybe; I made new curtains for the living room, decided not to cover the couch at all and blacked out my bedroom windows with foil and tape. Not as classy, maybe, but it’s hella-freaking-dark even at mid-day in there, so that’s done. The kids don’t want it to be that dark in their room…

NINE: Learn more about homeopathy
I have a fairly decent foundation (not that I’m an expert or anything), but I’d like to learn more and utilize this more in day-to-day life.
**ACCOMPLISHED** I’m not an expert by any means, but we’ve relied much less this past year on western medicine than we have in years past, and I know more about treating the underlying cause of something than simply masking symptoms, so I’d call this well done as well. I plan to continue educating myself, and am thankful to have several friends who are willing to share the knowledge!

… So that about sums it up for 2010’s resolutions. Six of nine well done, and 2 mostly done; I think that’s a pretty good success rate!

Here’s an update on 2009’s resolutions:
Numero uno:
Stop obsessing about things.
2010: Ummm… yeah. So I have an obsessive-compulsive personality. “Stop obsessing” is like saying I’m planning on not breathing this year. FAIL.
2011: no change.

Numero dos:
Help the kids to listen to their bodies more and learn to understand the feeling of, and be able to voice “I’m hungry” or “I’m tired” instead of falling apart at inopportune moments.
2010: I’d say that this one is accomplished. Not in the sense that this is something that is ever “done” with, but I think it was something we worked on, not just for the kids, but for myself as well.
2011: This is an ongoing exercise for us. Food affects me and the kids so much, and it’s a struggle to respect its power without obsessing or over-focusing on it.

Numero tres:
Stick to SP goals.
2010: Well… this one got pushed aside this year. Between being pregnant for the first part of the year, and then grieving throughout the last half of the year, I am just glad I haven’t gained 20lbs. 5 is acceptable and easier to get rid of.
2011: I’m back on the wagon, with some friends to help motivate and keep me accountable. We’ve already started, and are doing well!

Numero quatro:
Finish DONA cert.
2010: Eh… I didn’t do this, but it’s still the same ole thing I have been debating about since the beginning. Certification is nice to have, but not necessary and may be too limiting. BFF and I are planning goals for WMC on Monday, so we’ll re-hash this again and decide what we want to do about it.
2011: I can pretty much cross this off my list. I’m not interested in being a doula anymore. I’ve also retired from LLL Leadership this year, so my attention is focused in other areas.

Numero cinqo:
Continue de-cluttering house and down-sizing posessions. Get rid of things I don’t love, use or need, including shoes, baby clothes and extra furniture.
2010: This is a mixture of yes and no… yes b/c I have definitely been downsizing, esp over the last couple of months, but the baby clothes and stuff I have kept and will keep as there may be a need for them at some point. We’re still kinda unclear on that point, too.
2011: Ongoing… forever?

Nombre six (… switching to French now, because 5 is as high as I can spell en espanol without looking it up. It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.): {edited on 12/31/2010 to add that since ‘cuatro’ is how you spell four in Spanish, it would appear that I can only spell to three…lol. Funny that it took 2 years to realize that.}
Home Improvements: Repaint and redecorate my bedroom and re-finish the kitchen cabinets. Design and complete the mural for the boy’s room, and re-do their decor. Rugs for various rooms, extra storage bins and cabinets, etc…
2010:… not so much. On any of that, actually.
2011:Eh.. some of that got done, some didn’t in 2010. The mural is ever incomplete, but we’re painting everything in a couple of months, so it’s fine.

Nombre sept:
Work on kids’ scrapbooks and get big pictures into frames. Lapbook the boy’s previous years’ school work. Better organize craft supplies and find the damn high-temp hot glue gun! Get a label maker. Try really hard not to label every single conceivable thing in my house. Figure out where the holiday boxes will live when not in season.
2010: …ditto.
2011: Yeah… not so much. That last part is a big one since we’re losing our storage room in a couple of months!

Nombre huit:
Either buy gumballs for the gumball machine or get rid of it.
2010: DONE! We bought more gumballs. There are still some in the machine, too!
2011: Why aren’t all of my resolutions so simple and easy to accomplish?? I think I’ll start adding at least one challenge to my resolutions list. This year: be vegan for a week!

Nombre neuf:
… That’s all I can think of for now. I need to print this list out for myself so I can keep track of sticking with them. Now, I need to go back and see how I did for last year.
{Edited to add:  found a number nine!} Create outlines for all the story concepts I have written.
2010: Yes and no – I did outlines for some of them and have started an outline for most of them.
2011: I’ve really slacked on my fiction this year. I’ve blogged pretty faithfully though.. does that count?

As for 2008’s resolutions, Ha! I didn’t write them till the 6th last year, so I’m ahead of the game this year. To recap:

1) It’s called a budget! I need to make one and stick to it. More importantly, I should probably let my loverly husband in on the what’s what so he isn’t surprised by the complete lack of money that we have going.
2009: Yeah… we actually have been doing much better in the cash-flow department this year. I’m fairly proud of that, so I think I can call this one “accomplished” and we’ll say maintain this instead of making it a new resolution.
2010: We did VERY well this year in this regard. I can say that we’re progressing nicely on this front. We eliminated credit cards a couple of years ago, so that’s a big hassle that we don’t have to mess with anymore. This year, we’re funneling more money into savings and retirement. I’m proud of that!
2011: Loverly Husband took over all the budgeting of funds early in 2010, so… yay! He’s better at it than I am. We’re definitely in a better place financially now that we were back in 2007/8. It’s nice to be able to look back and see progress happening.

2) Complete my Childbirth Doula Certification and Trustbirth Facilitator Application
2009: This is kind of a done deal (DONA) – but I’m making it an actual resolution so that when it’s done I can cross it off the list. Actually, I’m not doing TrustBirth at all – after thinking more about it, I decided it wasn’t for me. It’s not that I disagree with them, exactly, just that I am a little more open-minded about things. As for the birth doula cert, I am still working on it, and am actually doing DONA now instead of CBI, which was what I was looking at then. DONA is different, and either way, I need certain criteria to certify and I haven’t been as on top of it as I had planned. Can I blame part of this on Hurricanes Gustav and Ike?
2010: see above.
2011: Let me explain… I had all of my certification stuff done – all I needed to do was send it in and pay for it. I was waiting on BFF to get her breastfeeding education requirement done so we could submit our applications together, and got pregnant, then miscarried… Since then, I’ve decided that I don’t want to be a doula, and therefore see no reason to pay for the certification. So. That’s the what’s what on this.

3) Keep my prescriptions filled and faithfully take my medicines daily … so that I don’t end up needing my rescue inhaler multiple times daily and end up on the nebulizer like I did 2 weeks ago.
2009: I suck at doing this. I HATE taking meds EVERY SINGLE DAY. It’s a huge hassle (and could it be any clearer that I am barely taking anything at all right now, which is why I am defensive about it?) I have kept up with asthma and allergy meds though, which is a good thing… so this is a “halfway” for me.
2010: I STILL suck at this. Something about this time of year. I have not been keeping my Rx filled and have been using the neb for the last couple of weeks. Ugh.
2011: Better this year… I’m off of some of them and need to refill others. This is going to be one of those on-going things for me, I think.

4) Stick with SparkPeople I slacked off in about August, so I’m starting over with that, kinda. So far, a week in and I’m doing well, so go me!
2009: Since I’m basically starting over again, and it’s on this year’s list, I guess  didn’t keep this one either.
2010: See above.
2011: Ditto this year… I lost 80lbs the first go-round with SP, then my weight-loss plateaued and I got discouraged. I managed to keep it off for a while, then have, over the course of 3 or 4 years, have put back on about 30lbs. That sucks. So, along with a couple of friends, I’m re-committing myself. It’s in 2011’s #5.

5) Wear hats more often because I like them.
2009: Ha! I SO did 🙂 I bought, like 4 new hats and have worn them all. And they look awesome, if I do say so myself. Go me!
2010: I’m still keeping this one faithfully 🙂 That makes me happy.
2011: ditto 🙂 My hat collection is ever-growing and still awesome.

6) WRITE!! I have no less than 7 stories outlined, and 5 more concepts written that I need to work on if they are ever to become actual reading material. So my goal is to devote a little time each week to write something, even if I don’t like it and end up deleting it.
2009: Fleshing out already-written storylines? No. Adding all the newly thought-of concepts into word.docs? Yes! So another half-assed accomplishment on my part. I’m going to add “making an outline for all story concepts” above.
2010: I have been feeling more creative lately and have started a couple of new concepts that need to be fleshed out. As long as I keep doing that, I am happy with this level of progress.
2011:Yeah… homeschooling leaves very little time for writing fiction. That’s a total cop-out, but that’s my excuse for doing absolutely NO writing this year, fiction-wise. I did come up with a new non-fiction concept for a children’s book series, but that’s as far as I’ve gotten with it. I’m making notes on it now (like right this minute …. okay – I have an overview of the series written now) – so that’s something, at least, lol.

7) Maintain the clutter-clearage that’s been going on. because I don’t want to end up like one of those people with an un-livable home due to all the unusable crap stored in it, I’m going to continue whittling down my collectibles (not that there’s that many that aren’t in printed format) and other assorted crap so that it at least looks like we have space in our house.
2009: I guess I’m kind-of on the same page as last year with this. I got rid of a TON of crap over the past year, so this is another “maintaining” for me. I’ll leave it as above though, because I have more specific goals in mind for this year.
2010: see above
2011: ditto

8). Make more time for me. As a wife and mom, I have a full plate – add starting a new business to that and you can see how much time I don’t have. So my goal is to take a few hours sans anyone else and concentrate on me once a week (if I can swing that, but once a month is probably more realistic).
2009: This has been a lot easier since both boys have been in school. So I guess I’ll mark that as an “accomplished” too.
2010: I have been keeping this one.
2011: Oh, I just thought I was busy before…homeschooling is possibly the biggest challenge I’ve undertaken yet. It requires almost constant thought and attention on my part. On the plus side, my Loverly Husband is incredibly supportive and has both encouraged and made it easy for me to go exercise with my sister or grab coffee with a friend in the evenings. My resolution for this year is to stop feeling guilty about it!

9) Whole Mothering Center I don’t know how much we will be able accomplish this year due to external factors, but I want us to accomplish all that we three are able to.
2009: The “three” isn’t the same three as it was when this was written, and I think that we’ve done pretty well. We’re well into our 2nd year, and with the Ike evacs and BFF’s birth, the last few months have been slow, but we’re gearing up for an eventful year with WMC. So this is another thing I think I can say “accomplished” on.
2010: 2009 was rough on many fronts. I am hoping that 2010 will be a better year for WMC.
2011: I’ve pretty much phased myself out of WMC. BFF is continuing with her own plans, including starting midwifery school in Jan 2011, and I will be involved as much as I can, but it’s pretty much her show now. My attention and focus is elsewhere these days, and though I miss being in the place in my life where WMC was my dream, I’m excited about what the future now holds, both for my BFF and WMC and for myself.

10) (because ten is a nice, round, reasonable number) I can’t think of anything else, but I’m going to format this like there is an actual resolution here anyway. because it looks better and because I can. So there.
LOL – I think it’s funny that I can only ever think of nine. I did the same thing this year. But it’s edited to add the writing one update 😉

That last bit still makes me smile. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone else’s resolutions and to seeing how you fared from last year. Good luck reaching them and Happy New Year!!

Warmly,
~h

Counting My Blessings

It’s not often that I read something that just floors me, but this does:

through the wardrobe

And even thinking about that contrast is so Western, so decadent, so much the spoilt complaint of a woman who has running water and food and a house and an education and children who are safe.

That line has stuck with me for days now. It’s hauntingly beautiful and poignant and has made me think about all kinds of uncomfortable things this over this long holiday weekend.

It doesn’t take a lot of flipping through my posts to see that I am, indeed, a spoiled American woman. I’m privileged to have grown up in a stable family; my parents have been married – and happily so – to each other since 1973. I came along 4 years later with a younger sibling of each sex. We were all healthy and happy and while not wealthy, we lived happily and comfortably for the most part.

I married my high school sweetheart and we’re working on our 12 year of marriage. We have 2 healthy children, and though we have one who will never sleep in my arms, I’m grateful that I held that tiny spark of life in my body for the months that I did. The tragedy of that loss strengthened my marriage, and helped me appreciate the children in my arms even more. My husband has a job that affords us the economic stability to live comfortably – not just comfortably, but enough so that I can stay home with our children without worrying overmuch about bills.

I’ve never known hunger or been afraid for my safety. I’ve never had to put my children to bed not knowing if they’d have food the next day, or watched them suffer through an illness without having medical care literally moments away. I’ve never watched my father or my husband leave our home with the knowledge that he may never return. I’ve never known the very real fears and dangers and tragedies that many people across the world live with every day. I’ve never even known many of the fears and dangers and tragedies that some of my friends have lived through.

I’ve been extremely fortunate in life and love; in health and security, and I am thankful.

Thanks to Melissa for helping me remember that.

Warmly,

~h


Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you and your family a safe and happy Thanksgiving weekend!

Warmly,

~h

Loverly Husband

LittleBoyBlue & PeaGreen


My First Blog Award

The end of this week has been so very busy for us that I’ve barely had time to get on the computer much. I was so surprised and delighted to find this message in my comments, ” Hi! I just love your post. I am sending you a blog award.” from Anna-Marie of Life’s Adventures.

Wow – I’m honored that you find my blog interesting; I really don’t know what to say. Thank you so much! The blogging mamas who’ve been reading here have all be so encouraging and supportive – blogging has really become one of my favorite ways to organize my thoughts. It’s like scrapbooking in digital form and with more words, lol.

I started this blog to chronicle our foray into the homeschooling world, and it’s since become an avenue to connect with other homeschooling mothers. It’s a tough job, but infinitely rewarding, and I hope that one day my kids will read back through our adventures with a smile on their face.

So here are the rules for accepting this award…

1. Accept the award. Post it on your blog with the name of the person who has granted the award and his or her blog link.
2. Pay it forward to 15 other bloggers that you have newly discovered.
3. Contact those blog owners and let them know they’ve been chosen.

So I am passing on this award to the following great blogs: (in no particular order)

  1. Homeschooling a Texas Tornado and a Preschool Tag-a-long
  2. I Capture the Rowhouse
  3. Lost Persons Homeschool
  4. A Domesticated Woman’s Adventures
  5. Enlightended Life (recently featured on No Longer Quivering and Ex-Christian.net)
  6. Lagniappe Academy
  7. Creekside Learning
  8. Here in the Bonny Glen
  9. Our Worldwide Classroom
  10. Laughing, Lace & Legos
  11. Homeschooling Seaside
  12. Life’s Magic Moments
  13. Karmamatopoeia
  14. F.I.M.B.Y.
  15. A Magical Childhood

I’ve learned so much from these amazing bloggers and enjoyed peeking into their lives (homeschooling and otherwise). I hope you’ll pop on over and show them some comment love 😉

Thanks again to Anna-Marie!!

Warmly,

~h