Earn money with Cash Crate

Saturday, May 30, 2009

workboxes...my newest obsession

Okay, so if you've known me any length of time you know how I get carried away over new ideas sometimes. No matter what the idea or craze, I tend to jump in with 150% of myself and give it all I've got, and then burn out on day three. I get so into the visualizing, the planning, writing every idea and detail down on scraps of paper or in my notebook. I think I expend so much energy then that there is none left to make whatever it is I am trying to accomplish actually last.

I hope this time it's different. I think it might be. This program, which I blogged about recently, is called Sue Patrick's workbox system, and the more I read and study, the more ready I am to try it. Many moms, just like me, have found discipline, orgianization, and a smoother school week using these boxes. The kids are said to be as enthralled with finding the surprises inside as on Christmas day.

I thought it might be too good to be true. But it seems to be a very useful and valid organizational and planning method. Many say it works better than checklists, assignment sheets, etc.

My main concern (besides the cash outlay) is space. And how "cute" the system can be made . I don't like ugly things in my school room. I like a pretty, calm, uncluttered room. I couldn't imagine using the system exactly as Sue intended, with 12 plastic boxes per child on shelving. That's 36 boxes for us!

So to save space and money, and yet still retain the visual appeal, I chose to use fellow blogger Jessica's variation. It involves filling up to 12 large ziploc bags/manilla envelopes per child and putting the bags or envelopes inside a Sterilite container. So each child has this clear container with all their items inside. It's hard to describe so let me give you a link to her system instead.

As soon as I set it all up, I'll post photos. This blog also explains this workbox variation very well:

If I were more open to the idea of using the system exactly as written (12 boxes on shelves), I'd at least jazz up the boxes like this creative mom at http://heatherpreckel.blogspot.com/2009/03/workbox-system.html. I love her system! It very pretty and pleasing to my picky eyes. I think her color choices would actually complement my school area. I am jealous.

Anyhoo, the workbox craze has taken off and while other methods usually fizzle out, this one seems to be sticking around with great success. I have seen threads on the FIAR and Well-trained Mind forums, not to mention a few others. A Google search yielded pages of results...I gave up after page 20, when my eyelids were so droopy I could've used toothpicks to prop them up.

I am so curious to see how others are using workboxes. If you have a blog and are trying them, feel free to leave a comment for me. I'd like to know how its going for you.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sue Patrick's Workbox System

I was listening to a conversation between two moms at our homeschool meeting recently, when the conversation turned to workboxes. I had never heard of these before, and only got to listen in for a moment before the meeting began. I heard enough that my interest was piqued however, and came home that very night to learn more online.

I cannot tell you everything about the system, as that would be a huge disservice to Sue Patrick, who spent years researching and formulating this system of organizing and implementing your school day. She has a website at http://www.workboxsystem.com/ but truth be told, her site didn't give me enough information to decide if I really wanted (or needed) to try yet another system. Reading the blogs (and glowing testimonials) of the many moms who have begun using this system is what made me want to try it, and so last night I bought the e-book from her site.
It's 122 pages and a very quick read really, as you can skip straight to the topics that speak to you most. You soon discover that this is much more than an organizational system; you get many helpful hints and tips about homeschooling in general, about learning centers, how to use posters more effectively as REAL learning tools, and even how often-neglected file folder games can play a big role in education and review.

I want to give you just a bit to go on, to decide if the workbox system might work for you at all, but not enough to give way Ms. Patrick's work.

Basically, you have plastic shoe boxes on a shelf or rack, up to 12 boxes per child. These boxes are numbered in the order you want them worked. Each night you fill the child's boxes with their work for the next day, a math sheet in one box, language in another, etc. But the neat thing is you also throw in some snacks in one, maybe a board game in another, those never-used-but so-cool-you-just-had-to-buy-them manipulatives, a file folder game, that Play dough that you never bring out of hiding for fear it might actually get messy, a card that says, "Read a book to sister", etc. You vary these throughout the day between the harder schooling and the easier, fun boxes. The child visually sees what they have lined up to accomplish and that they have fun items as well as the empty boxes signifying the work they have done. This makes them want to work more efficiently to get to the "good" boxes.
Mom can vary the boxes so that while one child is doing independent work, another can do a box that requires mom's presence. This makes for less stress on the part of mom trying to be everywhere at once, and less waiting for one child as mom finishes up with a sibling. Also, this method helps one to utilize toys, games, and items that are educational but rarely get pulled out of cabinets and used.

Perhaps the biggest plus to this system as it looks as though it would help a child stay focused better on the task at hand and be a more-organized individual.

I'd tell you more but buy the book instead, or at least go sniffing around some blogs and see what moms are doing with this system. There are lots of great photos of families using workboxes or even changing the system to fit their budgeting and space needs (something the author does not recommend doing, just so you know). Just Google "workboxes" or "Sue Patrick workboxes" and you'll turn up plenty to get you going.

I can see us trying this come fall, at least with my two younger children first, after a Summer of tweaking and getting it ready. If it works for them I can always add in my highschooler. I am the Queen of "paper organizing", meaning I can organize like crazy in writing. I'm quite obsessive about list-making and planning, but it's the actual carrying out of my plans which fail 95% of the time. I lack discipline, will power, and consistency. If Sue Patrick can get my homeschool running smoothly after all the "methods" I've tried since 1998, then she is my new hero!


nothing to do can be a good thing

Day three of DH working day shift and me and the yay-hoos being home with no car. But I am finding its all good. This absence of daily running the roads has actually been a blessing to me (and the kids, whether they realize it or not). Yes, when you've spent years staying overly-busy, visiting friends almost daily, meetings here and there, running little errands, being very active in homeschool groups and church activities and scouts and 4-H and sports (all good things mind you, as long as they don't keep me from being the Keeper at Home that I have been called to be) suddenly just sitting home can seem like being trapped and isolated. Yesterday I was in that stage. But by this morning I realized we're all sleeping better and rising earlier, starting our school day more efficiently. Chores are getting done. We are playing more...the kids have no one else to play with (for a change) and they are actually enjoying each other's company more...we're planting a little...reading more for pleasure...hatching tadpoles....having lengthy Bible readings and history discussions. It's amazing what one can do with a freed-up schedule. Why do we do this to ourselves? No one is immune, not even homeschool families. For some reason we as parents are taught to believe that our kids need to sample it all. And that we, as moms, to be fulfilled, have to serve on every board and be involved in every ladies' group in town. Afterall, it doesn't seem like enough to just be a mom. And other times we get overly involved because there are true needs to be filled, and because we know we are called to be servants. Nothing is wrong with activities or serving (and indeed we need a dose of each in our lives for proper growth). But just like flowers, too much water will rot them, too much sun will burn them up; they need a balance to grow healthy and strong. Why do we think we are so different?

In a few days after I've read all the magazines that accumulated last year, after we've played every board game in the closet, and I've made all my lesson plans for next year, then I guess I'll even be ready to come out of my forced cocoon and emerge back into the overly-busy, overly-stressed world. But I will know now what has been true all along...my ministry is this home, and this family. When I give away too much of myself helping everywhere else but here, and when I allow my kids to give their best time to the peers and social groups they are in and come home with nothing but grumpiness and attitude for me, we have gotten the scales tipped out of balance... again.

I was so afraid it'd be hard on us to get our family on this day-shift routine after 11 years of nights and I dreaded it all weekend. But now I see (as usual, after the fact) that the Lord always has a plan and His will is always better for us in the end. Did I mention my DH is doing pretty well adjusting to his new shift and has been granted some much-needed overtime hours? My husband needing the car this week wasn't an accident either; I believe God was giving me a taste of much-needed rest and time to think, so that when we do jump back into the grind, we can always remember to keep that proper balance in our lives. I've known this balance was important all along, but every few years I find that the Lord tends to need to refresh my feeble memory about how it all needs to work. :)


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I was watching a preview for a new show and saw myself...YIKES!

Yep, its true. I was watching a little TV (rare) and saw a commercial for a new show on OCD called Obsessed, and there I was....the woman who has panic attacks while driving on the freeway. Well, for me it'd be the Interstate, IF I drove on it. But I don't. I don't drive on the Interstate or in big cities. I admit...I have never driven in downtown Nashville and only to the edge of Chattanooga. I take back roads everywhere that I can. I actually sit around thinking of how bad its going to be when one day, someone I know ends up needing me to take them to a Nashville doctor. Then I may be like thay poor woman on the TV show sneak peek, crying her eyes out and gasping for air on the side of the road.
Okay, so now the world (well, at least my three followers) know I am very quirky. But it least it feels good to get that secret off my chest. I DON'T LIKE TO DRIVE. OR COUNT BACK CHANGE. There, I said it. Ahhh....feels better already.

I began having panic attacks as a child but didn't know they had a medical name. I just thought I was dying or having a heart attack or something. Over the years it has progressed to more of an anxiety issue than full-blown attacks. Just like the migraines in my previous post, anxiety disorders and OCD can be hereditary also. Great...my poor kids. Maybe its past time for a complete overhaul--er, I mean doctor's visit, to just unload ALL my wierdness and medical problems once and for all. I better start making a list....


What day is this?

It's 5:30 AM and I am (almost) wide awake. Strange for me to be up so early by choice. But considering I just slept for the past day I guess I should be awake. I had one of my longest migraines EVER yesterday. It actually began Monday morning when I awoke, but went away. Then it came back before bed Monday night, but again, responded to some OTC meds and went away (that's what I thought anyway). But yesterday (Tuesday morning) I began dreaming that I was talking to a neighbor who told me I didn't look so good...I asked her, in my dream, to go to the pharmacy and get my Maxalt as my head was pounding. Like so many times lately, I awoke to a really bad, full-blown, head-splitting migraine. I only had one Maxalt left yesterday and was so dizzy I knew I wouldn't make it to the pharmacy without running into a ditch, so I stayed home and tried to fight it off with various ideas...tried to rest, took some Melatonin, didn't use my eyes any more than I had to, assigned the kids all independent work and LOTS of outdoor free play, you name it. But this one stuck around until into the night last night, making it my longest one that I can ever remember. What's more, the dizziness with this one was the worst I'd ever had. Moving from the bed to the couch and waves of blackness would wash over me. I haven't felt like fainting since my last food poisoning. LOL Thank the Lord above for my oldest son who took the reins and watched the younger kids for me all day, pouring milks and fixing salads for lunch.

I had been doing so much better this month. This was actually my first bad case. I had just been bragging on my combination therapy of YAZ, Melatonin, and reading glasses when my body decided to show me that it was still in control of my life. I began to see a few blemishes over the weekend and wondered why that was happening as usually my YAZ bocks them. Then the tell-tale headache from the pit of Satan knocked down the door. I know these kinds of headaches...they are called Menstrual Migraines and they are probably the worst migraines ever. Unlike a regular migraine, these kind don't respond well to ANYTHING and they tend to linger for days. Which means, to those of you who do not suffer from them, you will be out of commission until its over. No driving, no reading, no work, no TV, no family life, no life of any kind, because this thing now has your life in its control. I sound bitter I know, but I have had migraines since my childhood and I do not look forward to having them the rest of my life. I am tired of them stealing my family time, my work time, my health. I am tired of canceling plans. I am tired of spending my good days waiting apprehensively for the next one.

I guess its time to reevaluate whether the YAZ is really helping or not. At first it seemed to be. Now the migraines have gotten used to it I think, and rather than the YAZ being their mortal enemy, they shake hands with it and say, "Good day." Problem with going off the YAZ and saving that money is I've tried to more than once, and my head feels 5 times worse than yesterday to the point I literally feel like my brain is about to split in half. At least the headaches are dulled a bit by the YAZ.

So here I am, finally awake. I missed saying goodnight to DH, who has already left for work. He took my car because his was acting up (again), and I just discovered we are out of milk. Its a good thing we live close to a little market that takes debit cards, as I suppose we'll be hiking there in a few hours to shop. This sharing of the daytime shift (and the family vehicle) is going to take some getting used to.

I pray I feel better today so I can get on with life. I can sympathise with those who live with any sort of incurable medical condition. In my case these migraines somewhat rule my life. I always wonder when the next one will hit, and it will, and how bad it will be. I think to myself about how little by little, all the meds have stopped working as well as they used to, and I wonder will they all stop working completely for me one day? I remember my grandmother, who suffered from them until a few weeks before she died at age 88, holding her head in her hands when she thought no one was looking during family visits...will that be me someday? I really hope not. I remember my sister being part of a headache study group at Vanderbuilt hospital, hers were so bad. I know that not only my sister but my mother, mother-in-law, oldest child, 4 year old, and husband all have frequent headaches, and am reminded that they are all around me.

A friend suggested I try adding magnesium supplements to my diet. When DH gets home with my car tonight, I guess I'll be visiting Walgreens. I am curious as to how others out there are dealing with these monsters.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Changes all around

Wow, a weekend of changes has me a little off-track. But I think it's all going to work fine.

After 11 YEARS of night shift, my husband was asked if he'd like to come to days. We are natural night-owls. I kid you not. As a baby I was up all night. My husband also has that tendency as do our kids. Our body clocks just tend to be different than most people we know; even when we've tried to shift them, it never lasts and we don't feel refreshed during the shifting phase. I can go to bed at 10 pm and sleep until 6 and feel downright nasty upon waking and groggy all day. But I can go to bed at 1 or 2 am, sleep until 8:30 or so, and wake up feeling energized...not one yawn all day! Not only that, but I am fully charged and can go full-speed until into the night again. Dear hubby is worse than me, because he has slept all day for so long. I am wondering how he is doing at work right now.

It may be that in an odd way God is answering my prayers about our finances. Day shifters are getting overtime and some don't want it. We could certainly use it to build our savings back up.

Around the same time hubby got called in to work days I found out that my one sure summer daycare child might have issues in coming here due to a shift in her mother's job. We don't know yet how that will play out but I can't help but wonder if either God is saying no to daycare---just be a hard-working homeschool mom OR if He is freeing up our days to welcome in some little preschoolers while dad is not here sleeping. Hmmm...too early to see the big picture, at least on this end!

I went through a rearranging mode this weekend. About once a year I completely change my school area. When I can't control everything else in my life, rearranging rooms gives me at least one area I can control! I decided I could make our school area a little better organized to benefit not only my family but any daycare kids I might end up serving.
This resulted in also changing closets and the kid's rooms, as I tend to pull items from their rooms to use or put items in their rooms that had once been in our school area. Since I can't imagine it quite right in my head, I just grab the furniture and start dragging away, moving it here and there until it clicks. It becomes an obsession until complete. I am very picky about my school area looking neat and uncluttered. It also has to meet the needs of three different kids while not looking out of place with the rest of the house. I cannot stand it if things look too busy or chaotic...it begins to distract me. Must be a little OCD coming through. We have a very small space for an actual school room, and even that space is open to all the main living areas and has very little wall space for hanging posters and things. My kitchen has a long wall that I am seriously considering painting with magnetic paint and using that wall to hang posters and charts from.

Anyway, here is the before picture from last year. We had cubbies and desks I had made for the boys...they were not used at all, except for me to stack things on all day. The boys tend to work at the kitchen table or on the couch with clipboards. All our manipulatives and games were hidden in the closet and never got used. Out of site, out of mind. The cubbies were too small to hold many of the boys' textbooks and larger items such as binders.

I took out the cubbies and added in two cheap bookshelves. I also moved my filing cabinet from the closet into the room. I was a little concerned about this as I really am not going for a home office decor as you enter my home. However, I needed the hall closet space for other items. So here is the new look....not too bad. I added some plants and a small lamp and tried to make the file cabinet look less conspicuous. It now holds our school books. Each of us has a drawer and inside we keep our daily books. My themed file folders, hundreds of them, found new residences in large plastic totes in my garage. I also took out any books we won't be using for next year and out them in totes in the garage.

This is my school cabinet. it holds the basic daily needed items like scissors and glue sticks, plus any reference books or teacher's aids for the year.

This hall closet also holds school supplies...I can't stand the way it looks. This will be my next project! The inside door is Ashleigh's "learning wall"...that's her name for it. We can open it to do her ABC's and circle time, if daycare works out.

The old cubbies worked out very nicely in Ash's room for all her small baskets of toys.

One leftover cubby made a great night stand.-Lynn

Thursday, May 14, 2009

free E-book for those considering home education

I just read the most wonderful little e-book. It's called Why You Should Homeschool Your Child: a Public Schoolteacher's Confession by Lisa Preston. It is available, free of cost, to download from www.homeschoolhelper.com If you have ever wondered what a typical day for a modern-day public educator must be like, this book will open your eyes. Pardon my grammar but we ain't talking Mayberry here. Oh, we like to think that the things that happen in large, poorly-funded, inner city schools just don't happen in small, Bible-Belt rural schools....maybe we need to be shaken, not stirred, and shaken hard at that. This book should shake you and then make you think twice before shoving the idea of home education down the garbage disposal.

I love the strength and courage it must have taken for this author to go against the grain, and admit the failings of the public education system. Yet she never bashes the educators and administrators who have tried so hard to make education what it ought to be. In fact, she highly praises her former colleagues for their hard work in that system all these years.

I have a relative in public education. I have never for a second doubted this is her calling in life. I know she will greatly impact the school she works in, as will doubtless others. I feel certain she eats, sleeps, and breathes education. So in that respect, and because I, too, had dreams of being a public school teacher once upon a time, I cannot bash those who give 150% to improving their students' way of life. However, I can and openly will bash the system that places too many children under one teacher's care, that pays teachers way too little, that expects teachers to not only TEACH but spend most of their day being a referee to all the dangers and woes that are carried into today's classrooms. My hats go off to these women and men who daily go into what I consider to be a spiritual, moral, and oftentimes physical battlefield, to try to do what they were called in life to do: educate. How can any education at all take place when you have so many obstacles to overcome? I can see why so many teachers are exhausted and ready to throw in the towel. Thank goodness they are in it because they truly love it, or it might become very difficult to justify remaining in that profession.

Whether you already homeschool, are just curious about it, or are thinking about trying it, this book will open your eyes, fill you with passion for raising up a Godly generation, and call you to act.

Thank you , Ms. Preston, for being brave enough to show us what others perhaps could not. And after 9 years and dreaded high school fast approaching, thank you for renewing my homeschool vision and reminding me of why I do what I do.

hard economy calls for creative thinking...and FAITH!

I have decided, well I think I have, to open a very small, in-home childcare over the summer. I have one little girl from church that is probably coming and I hope to get 2 more full-timers.

People know we homeschool and that we have homeschooled for around nine years. They ask how will I be able to homeschool and run a childcare if I continue on with daycare children in the fall. Good question. I ask myself that same thing everyday. All I can say is I don't really know. I have a plan formulating in my head but its really up to the Lord to provide me the strength to do both. If this idea is in His will for my life at all, then I have to trust He will give me the wisdom to carry it out. And if its not in His will, or this is not good for our lives, then I pray He'll never let it come to pass. And if its NOT in His will, then I have to accept the fact that He has a different plan and trust Him. That in itself would be a challenge for me, as I so often identify myself with the man in Mark 9:24 who was lacking in faith and belief as he cried out, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief." No sooner do I cry out "I believe!" then I am begging for His help to get me over my lack of faith. It is not a true test of our faith when things are going easy; our faith can only be truly tested in times of trial, because it is then our inner heart is made known.

So when the bills come in and the savings is all gone, Lord, help my unbelief. When sickness rears its ugly head and the future is uncertain, Lord help my unbelief. When the road forks and both paths seem right, Lord help my unbelief.

There's just not a lot I know right now. Our futures, for so many of us, are quite uncertain. I, the almost anal control freak, has lost control. I feel sometimes like I am driving behind the wheel with my eyes closed, hoping I don't go over the edge of the mountain. Why do I fear? God is my guard-rail, always present to help me. But maybe its time I climb out of the driver's seat. Maybe its time I give up the wheel.

I remember how He called me into this ministry called "wife" and "mother" and "teacher"....that call, I feel, is just as strong today as it was nine years ago. I haven't felt it leave me, so therefore, He has it in control. The money will come; although the "how" of it I don't know for certain. The wife in me sees my husband's efforts at caring for his family and he has given 150% for months. No, make that years. He is tired. The wife in me sorrows for him when he needs a rest and tries to jump in and fix it all. The wife in me begins to think on how I can help, and thus, the childcare idea is born. It may or may not be the "how" of getting our finances back to a comfortable level. Or perhaps we're not meant to be comfortable right now. Perhaps there is a lesson we are to learn first.

The Proverbs 31 "superwoman" as I like to call her, was certainly industrious. She was not only a wonderful keeper at home but a business woman, a crafter, a worker. I like to say if she could do it, then through God I can, too.

In my life, the thorn in my side is money. Others have job losses, loss of homes, loss of family members, cancers and illnesses. Whatever the future holds, we must all pray God's perfect will in our lives. Only then can we know in our hearts that whatever comes, it will work for His purpose and His glory.