Sunday, September 30, 2018

Setting Up For Our Homeschool Year ~ Schedules and Curriculum

I used to be a teacher.  My classroom was filled with 20 four and five year olds.  We would work through the morning with a focus on reading, art, writing, math, science, circle time, and story time.

In all the years I taught, I was given the curriculum, given the calendar, given the order in which it would all go.  Told how long the kids got to have "free play", how much outside time they got (which was still structured teacher led), how long they had to sit for each activity.

On the flip side, through it all I learned how I would want my classroom to flow like if I had the freedom to have more say in how the schedule and curriculum looked.  Despite the attempts of telling parents there is a balance between teacher directed and child lead in the classroom, there really wasn't.  Literally everything was scheduled, if it wasn't teacher lead it was teacher influenced.  For example, sure we could have the block area open, but we told the kids which ones they could use for that time and suggested what to make.  No real free, open play...not even outside.  And looking back, it was a lot of sitting for the kids too.

While I had my own classroom, I tried to make as much room for free play and learning through play as often as I could because in the end, that is what the kids really needed and learned the most from.  I tried to plan and schedule, then let the flow of the day lead.  So if reading books was taking longer because the kids were enjoying them or the discussion was going well, I kept reading and adjusted things later in the day as needed.  When areas were open, I just let the kids use their imagination and play.  If circle time the kids were getting antsy, we would take a break and get moving. 

While most of those sound like the right thing to do, I was really going against what the schedule and curriculum said or allowed for.  I was risking getting in trouble from the director.  But even before having kids of my own, I knew that while yes a schedule is needed because it creates consistency and routines for kids, they need time to just play and be kids.

So when we decided to home school, I knew what direction I didn't want to go.  I also knew that I could really tap into my kids likes and dislikes, to build our day and the curriculum.

For the first time ever since becoming a teacher I bought a lesson plan book.  I found it in the dollar section at Target and thought, it's $3 pick it up and maybe I will use it to help put a plan down on paper.  I am using it.  For two reasons, one to help guide us through the year and the other is to keep a running record of what we are working on for records.

After assessing I laid out our plan of what we need to focus our curriculum on.  No, I didn't buy a bunch of curriculum.  But I do have a few things. 

I have a Alphabet Letter Curriculum that is filled with different letter and math activities with each letter.  Right now, I am using the letter color page for my youngest and the fun poem on how to write the letter with my oldest.  We are using Reading Eggs to guide through learning to read and sight words and Mathseeds for the number side of things.  We are also using Growth Mindset for Kids.

The rest of the curriculum has been found online for free.  So while my oldest has a focus on letters and numbers, my youngest is starting to learn his as well.

Each day we do calendar and weather, as well as we have a thought of the day card that also pairs with the letter of the week.  This week our letter is A and the thought of the day, which we use for the whole week, is always be kind.  There is also a sight word posted near the calendar to help learn specific sight words.

So here is what our week looks like:

Mondays are our reading focus day as well as the growth mindset activity.

Tuesdays are our getting together with other home school kiddos at playgrounds

Wednesday is our swim lessons day and outside for as long as we can, mixed in with art

Thursday is bible study fellowship

Friday is our math focus day

We head to the library, have time to just play, art whenever the mood strikes, and plenty of other adventures and exploring around the city.

Add in science, geography, history throughout each month and the planning all falls into place.

The library fills the gaps, especially for learning about history and geography.

We have put together a nature bag so that we can capture moments for our time spent out and about in nature as we have such a vast amount of possibilities for exploring.  There is a home school on the go bag, so I can put in any work we need to accomplish in the day and take it with us.

A few other items we got for supplies:
  • I bought a magnetic calendar and weather set up
  • Kid writing lined notebooks to create an ABC Journal and Math Journal
  • Flashcards
I have various other items we have gathered over the past year and a half to set up for homeschooling.  I have yet to decide when and where, or how those will be incorporated.  But for now, we have some letter boards, dry erase dice, puzzles that can help guide us in our learning.

As we start this journey, we are also learning the flow that works the best.  So, for now, this is what works.  Both kids are enjoying learning, asking for me, and show enthusiasm.  It provides enough variety, while getting in the things we need to, as well as utilizing the things the kids enjoy doing.  Because we can learn through all areas of life, where ever we are, no matter how old we are.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Emergence ~ Acrostic Poem

Each and everyday

Meet the day

Easing in

Ready for the richness that it will provide

Give grace, ground yourself, & grow

Enlightened, full of energy

Nourished for what comes next

Come, celebrate, and cherish this new found

Emerging, to bloom right now, right where you are, in this moment

Friday, September 21, 2018

Setting Up For Homeschool Year

If you have been reading my blog for awhile now, you know that we are going to home school for our kids' education.

I know, some of you may think I am crazy for going this route, but we took a lot of time and thought about the direction we wanted to head for education, where education in our society is headed, our options around us, and what would truly be the best fit for our kids.

My oldest, Kindergarten age, is curious, creative, loves the outdoors.  He asks about a million questions a day and loves art.  Anytime he can spend outside is even better.  Those things aren't available in schools, and the curiosity, creativity, and questions would get squashed out of him like a bug on a windshield the first week of school.  We want him to flourish.  We want him to learn where ever he is.  We want him to develop a life long love for learning, while keeping the bits of personality that make him him.  Homeschooling, or as I like to call it sometimes road schooling, allows us to do this.

We may not have to officially report to the district until the school year he is 7, which will be in two years, yet we are still setting up the foundations and basics to grow his learning.

We are gearing up for the school year, though the reality of it is that we school all year long.  Because we take it where we go, it is always a part of our day.

Here is what our year looks like:

I will wrap assessments this week to see where we need to focus our efforts on the most while building off of the stuff he already understands.  I have done a lot of research and have found that he has a pretty good handle on most of the Kindergarten things.  So the stuff he knows, we will move forward on to the next level and see where it leads.  This will lead a majority of learning time.

I am going to add in calendar and weather time each day, as well as some character development stuff.

We will be continuing to build connections, explore, learn, grow.

Our schedule is almost set up, stay tuned and look back to see what our plan looks like even more detailed.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Welcome Fall ~ Change is in the Air

Happy Fall Y'all!

As I sit here and dwell on this change of season, I am sipping on some pumpkin spice coffee, letting it warm me and listening to my heart. 

It has been raining all week, big storms here and there, and cooler weather is beginning to settle in.  The weekend was hot, humid, and definitely a last hurrah for Summer.  Today, the first day of Fall, it is raining and storming, but it definitely is looking and feeling more like Fall.

It is a time of transition and time of change.  It's also a time of preparing, a time of gathering in the abundance, a time of letting go.

It surely has been a transition week, not just the weather, but I can feel it in me and the happenings around me.  I have taken some time this week to do some digging in and setting my focus for the season.  Opening up, doing some simple clarity card work, and seeing where this season will lead.

I have been one to take dragonflies, butterflies and the like as symbols, a deeper connection.  Dragonflies are my baby girl dropping in to say hi, or it's okay, or it's going to be alright, or you got this.  Seeing them makes me pause, even if just to linger for a few seconds more.  Butterflies, since about a year ago, have become another big one for me.  They represent change for me.  Whether it is a change I know about it or not, they are a heads up that either I need to change something or to be ready for a change.

Let me share two dragonfly stories with you that happened recently, one has a butterfly in it as well.

Back in the end of August I cracked a tooth.  My first thought was, I am only 36 and I cracked a tooth.  But then I thought on it, I was the one who tried to eat the cookie filled with m&ms and chocolate chips too soon after I took it out of the fridge.  Oops...I still need to work on patience sometimes, or waiting until truly the kids won't know.  Either way, I was left with a cracked tooth.  From the time I got the temporary until I got the permanent, it was on my mind that what if this wasn't going to be enough of a fix.  The day I went to get the permanent, I was sitting in the chair waiting and looking out the window.  For a brief moment I watched a dragonfly hover nearby before it took off on the wind.  I knew then, that things would be okay.  And yes, I do pray, and yes I added this all to prayers as well.

Now, just at the beginning of this week I came to a stop light.  While I waited I watch a dragonfly pass by the front of my car.  As I watched it fly by, a butterfly flew near it in the other direction.  Okay, I thought...Change is in the air, but it is going to alright.  At that point I didn't have any clue as to what that change could be. 

But looking back now, here is what I came up with.  A reminder that life is precious, to slow down, to breathe, to take care of our bodies, to take care of our relationships, to be open, to trust, to let go.

On the way home after that experience, I was driving and without warning a car from three lanes over came shifting lanes towards me quickly.  I had really nowhere to go, couldn't speed up, couldn't slow down. After the driver realized what was going on (mind you I have a mini van, this was a car can't be missed), quickly moved over to their own lane and exited the direction the freeway took.  As for me, I had begun to slow and pull off onto what little shoulder there was.  I paused for a moment, looked around, and drove the rest of the way home (luckily I wasn't far), probably holding my breath and tense the whole time.  I got home, paused, but just couldn't shake the feeling I had.  I had groceries to unload, and had to help get the kids ready for nap.  Hubby came out and took one look at me and asked what happened.  We took a moment to just settle me and then glanced at the car, noticing just how close that car had come.  I am missing some paint and there are scratches.  Yup, that was close, too close.  But I can look back on it with a different perspective.  It's going to be alright.

I have had two unexpected doctor appointments this week.  One with my doctor, and one for a mammogram/ultrasound.  I couldn't quite shake that something wasn't quite right in a certain spot.  The doctor agreed, something off, but what.  My mammogram and ultrasound both came back normal.  So what next?  I have this tubular spot that doesn't feel right, but also hurts sometimes.  I am waiting to hear back from the doctor which way to head.  Lots of praying, lots of patience, and still some waiting.  But at least for now, I can rest on the it isn't anything abnormal and all looks good.

Like I said, life is about change and transition.  That is where we are at, where I am at.  There is always some amount of uncertainty.  But there is also something to just being open to the change. 

Sometimes, it is an easy, happy time.  Sometimes it is hard, brings sadness or grief.  Either way, it can be scary.

My hubby started a business and it is to a point where big decisions need to be made on it.  But it involves change, uncertainty, and a whole lot of trust and letting go.  Does this scare us?  Most definitely.  Have we answered all the decisions?  Not yet, but we are working through them.

We have our home school plan and schedule set up.  It's still new to us, but it is exciting.  Giving us some new adventures to try out, but also take our learning on the go.

Fall is my favorite time of year.  It is about change, letting go, starting to prepare.  It's about learning and growing.  It's about reflecting and digging in deep.  It's about trusting and yet still dreaming.

What changes are you facing right now?

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Loving Kindess Message ~ On Emerging

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May you allow yourself to take up space, to be seen, to be heard~
~May you have strong roots that ground you~
~May you let yourself plant your feet firmly, grow, & emerge from within~
~May you let yourself - inside and out- radiate~
~May you let your blossom emerge as you emerge, filling the space around you~

Saturday, September 15, 2018

No Make Up Challenge ~ What Came of it?

Beside the fact that I am terrible at taking selfie pictures, for which I am sorry, I wanted to share my thoughts and experience on going without makeup. 

So almost 2 months ago I gave myself the challenge to go with no make up.  I started July 19.

On that day I woke up, put my make up away in our linen closet and closed the door.  I will admit, I did use an under eye dark circle roller thing for a few days after, but then decided to be done with that as well.

The hardest part of it all was giving up the under eye roller.  I had been using different eye creams and the roller to help but nothing ever seemed to be an effective, long term solution.

Before giving up makeup, I felt I needed it, all the time, everywhere I went.  I would start with day eye cream, primer, then do the under eye roller, bb cream foundation or just full coverage foundation depending on the time of year, and then powder.  At one point I was using the green face stick to cover up red spots on my face.  On special occasions add in eye liner, eye shadow, lip liner, lipstick, mascara, occasionally blush, and occasionally lip gloss.

I know, it sounds like a lot for some and not enough for others.  I wanted to simplify my routine for both the morning and bedtime.

I have even given up the two different eye creams that I was using depending on time of day and the apple cider vinegar toner I made.

So, if you add in the washing of my face, the toner, eye cream, and then make up it was a lot going on my face to start the day.  Then I had to clean it off at the end of the day.  So wash, toner, and eye cream again.

Lots of steps, lots of time, and for what?  Did I really needed the make up?  Thinking on it, no I didn't really.  For me it was a layer I could put on.  That layer represented different things at different times.  But once I grew my confidence and decided to challenge myself to go without did I finally, truly see the beauty that I had actually hidden underneath.

I found an amazing face product that helped me to switch out almost of all of my morning and bedtime routine.  It is called Joyome.  It is two different all natural serums, one for day and one for night.  I have been using one pump of each, every day, and have seen positive changes in my facial complexion, scar reduction, lines disappearing, softer texture, and my favorite no more dark circles under my eyes.  I have even gotten a little red from the sun a couple of times because I was out too long without my hat or sunscreen on and it has helped to get rid of that quickly.  The changes may be slow, but they are happening and they will only improve with use and time.

By adding this in, it gave me more confidence to be brave and go without makeup because it got rid of my dark circles within just a couple of days.  No amount of anything I had used before worked.   I now just wash my face with water in the morning and put the day serum on.  Then at night I wash my face with a homemade, all natural, clay based bar and then put on the night serum.
By giving up my daily make up routine, I have simplified my routines, begun to save money, and actually have better looking skin now then I did before.  Even better, it gave me the boost in confidence I needed to see that I don't need that extra layer on and don't need to hide behind it.  It is almost as if a load has been lifted allowing me to be more vibrant and truer to myself.

Sometimes it is the smallest step, the smallest thing that sets up as a catalyst and brings perspective changes, a shift in grounding, and growth.

This all started one day when I looked in the mirror, like really looked, and noticed that make up or not, I look no different.  I made the comment to my hubby that maybe I don't really need to wear makeup.  He never commented when I did, never commented when I didn't.  To him, it was all the same look.  And in reality, he preferred the look without, the natural look.

So between my observations, his honest comment, I decided to let go of the layers I added on.  Lay them down, let myself shine anyways.

What layer or even layers do you need to shed?

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Fall, Back to School, & Setting Up Our School

Fall is around the corner, school has started, and we are gearing up to set up our home school year.

I am finishing up assessments this week and will be building our home school lesson plan shortly.  I am excited to tell you more about our plan once it is completely set up.

But for now, we are going to focus on building on the skills that the kids already have, moving forward where we can, focusing on the spots that need a little more work and time, adding in more focused character development, building connections and making friends, utilizing the abundant resources we have nearby to grow our learning and adventures, adding in more creative time, adding in more outside time, and fostering a lifelong love for learning.

One of the resources that I have found very helpful in planning is the book called "Homeschooling Through the Years".  It gives a great break down of the basic skills and information that a child typically learns each year of school.  This book is helping me assess where we are at and where we need to focus, but also giving me ideas of which direction to head in for the skills already mastered. 

You may be wondering why we didn't start after the Labor Day Holiday like most other kids.  Partially because we do our learning all year long, we don't have a specific "first day" like most.  Also, because we don't have to officially report and test until the school year our kids turn 7, we have some time.  But we did set September 5 as our "first day" of school.

This week we are figuring out a new rhythm and routine as new activities have begun because of the start of the school year.  So we are mixing these activities in with our focused learning times, as well as just learning on the go where ever we are.

In the coming weeks I will post more about our plan, how things are going, the resources we use, the activities that we love, and more.

Welcome Fall and welcome back to school!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A Loving Kindness Meditation ~ On Finding Calm

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~May calm wash over you even in the midst of chaos~
~May you find calm inside and out~
~May you be filled with calm mentally, psychically, emotionally, spiritually~
~May calm be your grounding to carry you through~

Friday, September 7, 2018

Health, Diet, & Fitness ~ Results & Successes, More Than the Number on the Scale

Did you know, fat and muscle weigh the same?  One pound of fat or a pound of muscle, either way it is a pound.  However, they don't look the same in your body.

So you may loose weight for awhile, but hit a plateau.  During that time, you may begin toning up in areas.  So, while you may not be loosing pounds, but you are loosing inches.  Sometimes they happen at the same time, loosing pounds and loosing inches.  But sometimes, it is only one of them.

Some of it depends on what your workout routine is.  Is it just cardio or HIIT?  Is there only toning?  Do you mix both?

Do you remember to warm up and to stretch?  Include a variety in your week?

It also changes based on how, when, what you eat and drink.

When you are making changes in your health and diet, you have to remember this...successes are not all scale victories.  Successes go beyond the number on the scale.

While sure, it is nice to see that number go down.  It can be equally as frustrating, stressful if that number doesn't go down or even goes up.  Our bodies fluctuate so much from day that just based off what we eat and drink.

The results you are seeking may not occur overnight.  They may take time, longer than you may hope for.  But staying persistent, changing things up when needed.  Are there going to be things that trip you up along the way?  Most definitely.  If change was easy, we wouldn't dig our heels in so much.

When you start this journey I encourage you to find a way to keep track, like written track of your results. 

When I started this journey I got a simple spiral notebook.  I would record my results daily at first, then weekly, then before and after a certain round of workout challenge, now it is not very often.  I would make sure to record my results at the same time during.

So here is what I would record:
  • Date
  • Weight
  • Measurements
    • Chest
    • Upper belly (just above the belly button)
    • Middle belly (at the belly button)
    • Under belly, but not hips (I had a saggy belly so I would measure under there)
    • Hips
    • Legs: Left and Right: Upper Thigh, Middle Thigh, Just above the knee, calf
    • Arms: Left and Right: Upper (almost near pit), Middle of Upper Arm, Just above elbow, and wrist (yes, you can loose inches in your wrists. I didn't know it until it happened to me)
  • Pictures
    • I did lots of different views, both with arms up and at my sides
      • Face the camera, Left Side, Right Side, and Back
I will admit, I hated taking pictures.  Still kind of do.  But when I didn't see scale differences, I saw differences in pictures.

The thing I found was that the more areas I documented on, the more I could see differences, even if only very small.

Now, at this point, I haven't recorded much lately or done pictures.  I have come to a point where I am okay with where I am at and know where I want to head.  So every now and then I take a look at measurements and take pictures. 

However, I have been stepping on the scale daily for about 2 months.  I go in spurts where I use it daily and then I put it away in the closet for awhile. I have mixed feelings about the scale and whether or not to step on it daily.  I have heard it keeps you more accountable if you step on it at the same time daily.  But for me, I, in the past, would get a little obsessive over the number shown.  I hate to admit that, but it is true.  I would get too focused on it and then when changes wouldn't happen it affected me negatively, thus adding in more stress.

The only reason I have been using it again lately is because I am seeing where things are leading now that I am off birth control.  I have been watching more closely to see if not only my weight would begin to go down again, but also make sure my blood pressure returned to my normal.  Because all is well in both areas, I am going to go back to using it less.  Just for check ins as I get close to my mini goals to see where I am at.

Before we get in too much farther and talk about results and successes, take a moment to set some goals.  I know, you may not be a goal oriented person.  But setting a few overall goals will help guide you and keep you going.  Then, take each goal you write and break it down in to a mini goal or several mini goals depending on how far out your end goal is.  Be realistic and set intentions.  This will help guide you as you move forward, but also get you over those hard spots or plateaus.  Use the mini goals as check in points along your journey.  Also, be okay with adjust them as you go along.

Now, for the results, the successes.  There will hopefully be many along this journey.  And remember, they are not all just about the number on the scale. I will share where I have seen results and successes.

For me I have seen results in:
  • inches lost and weight loss
  • improved gut health and regularity
  • clothing size changes ~ be careful with this though. I am not sure if it is the same for men's clothing as it is women's. but I have found much discrepancy over time in sizing.  One store I may be one size, but a whole different one in another store.  Or even within the same store and same article of clothing. And it depends on the piece of clothing.  I have stuff that is XS, but still big on me, but other stuff is a size medium.  Shirts too, mostly medium, but some small or large.  Tank tops are so varying as well.  Add in skirts or dresses.  I can confidently say I am down in sizes for clothing.  But I can't give an accurate size number.
  • the look and feel of my skin
  • focus ability and energy
  • sleep length and quality
  • strength and flexibility, as well as posture
I am sure I have missed some others that you may have seen in yourself.  Share your results and areas of successes below. 

When you reach a goal, even if it takes longer than anticipated, treat yourself to a reward if you want to.  You can set up reward ideas for each goal if you choose.  It gives you motivation to keep you going.

I hope you take the time to look beyond the number on the scale.  There are, more often than not, other good results to be seen on this journey.  Sometimes you just have to look for them or be open to them.

*Photo credit: found on google search from LiveHealthy Blog

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Doors, Windows, Books ~ Change is Hard

Closed doors, blocked paths.

We all face them.  At one point or another, we find them in our way.  It could be permanently or could just be a season.  Sometimes we are facing them every day.  Sometimes we go stretches where they become a distant memory.

Sometimes we problem solve our way through and think nothing of it.

But what if the door is closed and locked? What is the reason?  Maybe there is a reason for this blocked path, but we need to give it time to show or maybe we were never meant to know.

Have you, in you life, ever found your path blocked, a door suddenly closed, or even closed and locked?

You have heard the quote I am guessing, "when one door closes another opens" or "sometimes its a window" or "your life is like an empty book, page by page it gets filled, your life book gets written"

Well, what happens when you get to the end of chapter?  Or when that door you so wanted to open, hasn't opened yet?

Not a literal door, but when was the last time a door was closed for you?  You faced a transition, even if you didn't feel ready for it.

Life is about change, transitions.  These things cause us to grow.  Sometimes there is pain in this growth, sometimes not.  But there is always something to take away from it.  Even something good.

Though you may not see it right away, it will show up... if you let it.

We don't always know where this path is headed and no, we can't always control it.  But we can still hope, we can still dream, we can trust.

The start of a new year is always a transition time.  But so is the transition from August to September.

The season is beginning to change, as we slowly shift from Summer to Fall.  The weather is cooling down, the leaves are getting ready shine in a different way.  I love Spring and Fall for this reason, because leaves shine differently in Spring as we get further out of Winter and then again in Fall as they change colors and slowly twirl to the ground.

Kids are heading off to school.  Schedules are changing and filling up with different activities, sports, and so on.

The daylight is getting shorter as the sun rises later and sets sooner.

Our internal side begins to feel this shift as well.

In a way, this is a door closing.  But these doors are usually more easily navigable.  They are a known part of life.  But they do cause us to slow down and change pace.  Which is a good thing every now and then.

But even bigger doors can slow us too, if not flat out stop us.  Those bigger life changes, those losses, the unexpected change.

And what if that so called next door doesn't open soon?  Or ever?

Often, when the change happens we are left with two options.  To grow with it, through it.  Or to dig our heels in and not move.

Which do you choose?

Whichever quote you go with, whichever way you look at, change is hard.  It is even harder when it comes out of nowhere. 

I will admit, I am not always graceful while navigating these sometimes.  I feel lost, sometimes ask a thousand questions, dig my heels in, try to linger a tad longer, go over the top trying to create a permanent memory. 

I wish I handled it better.  But I am learning to face, to push, to keep dreaming.

To let go, to trust.

With time, I warm up to the change.  Sometimes quicker, other times I still feel I need more time (but I don't always have it).

Whatever life decides to throw your way, you have what it takes to face it.  And when you feel you don't, you will always have that one person that can help you navigate until you find your footing again.

So while there may be door closed right now, you can still dream, you can still hope, you can still trust.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

A Loving Kindness Meditation ~ On Knowledge & Trust

Take a moment. Close your eyes.  Breathe deeply.  Let it out.  Tell yourself... 

~You have the knowledge & 
wisdom to take the necessary steps forward~ 
~You can trust this~