To be in heaven is to steer: Homeschooling Mid-Year Planning, Organization.

“To be in hell is to drift; to be in heaven is to steer.”
George Bernard Shaw

If you know where you want to go, then you already have your hand on the tiller.

The tiller is the rod that is attached to the rudder, and that sucker is the one in the water doing to work.

But you…you are in the boat, directing where it needs to go.

Any homeschooling family will understand what it feels like to have periods of aimless drifting, when everyone is interested in a million things and it is a chaos of learning in the house. One side is learning how to solder and build Arduino circuits, while the other is happily sewing a quilt, and somehow you saw someone walk by the other day with a new acrylic paint set…

These endeavors are good and well, but if you don’t get your hand back on that tiller, you are going to find your house covered in quilt squares with LED lights blinking in Morse code and sending signals to the HAM radio repeater attached to the International Space Station.

It’s time to get organized.

First things first: The Books.
I got these baskets from Walmart, and I put all the workbooks and notebooks in these baskets. Every morning the kids can get their basket, and all their books and notebooks that they need are in their basket. Their basket also has a loading dock on the desk, so they know where their basket belongs at the end of the day.

It certainly isn’t perfect…but it is so much better than losing books every single morning. This system has worked fantastically for 6 months, which is fantastic.
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This is the cabinet for reading books, binders, history books, science books and some extra supplies like construction paper.

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We also have a basket for pencils, scissors, tape, glue, index cards, markers…

And the bookshelf underneath for reading books…mostly for the younger kids. The older kids have their reading books either in their baskets, or next to their beds.

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Art supplies also have their own baskets. I put projects in there, like paint, brushes, felt, kits, etc.img_4250

 

Now, I am a creature who needs balance. I need a little bit of new world tech to pair with my old school binder system. Technology isn’t magic, it’s a tool, and I use it like a tool.

Right now, I am logging all the kids’ attendance and daily studies in a binder. I am writing out every day’s work by hand, for every subject. I started this last summer, and it has worked out great so far.

Here is what my Subject Breakdown sheet looks like:

screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-9-48-57-amdownload it here

So, I have one of these pages for every subject for every kid.

I also have Yearly Goals:screen-shot-2016-12-30-at-10-00-46-am

download it here

And I keep a monthly calendar in the binder, just to log field trips or extra stuff we’ve done during the month:

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download it here

On the plus side, I have a detailed account of everything we are learning on every day for every student in every subject.

On the down side, this is 30 pages of writing every day…and that adds up like molasses. I like this system, but it isn’t practical for 5 kids.

So I’ve been looking for some sort of online organizational package that will take care of everything I have been doing already, but one that will save me time at the end of the day.

And I found this: Homeschool Planet

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Every kid gets a page listing what they need to do every day, at what time…and since it’s online, I can put links on their lesson plans to direct them to their computer work!

Sweet!!

Homeschool Planet takes care of attendance, logging daily work, I can create lesson plans for every subject for every kid, and I have a meal planning section incorporated into our calendar, as well as some other neat widgets like the weather app.

This is everything I have been doing already, and I don’t have to spend hours upon hours doing it!!

Plus, at the end of the month you can print out the logs. Because they understand that we ultimately need to put it in a binder and file it away in our records.

This is a great time to reorganize your homeschool room and start the year off on a good foot!

Enjoy!!

 

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Happy Little Tie Dye Mistakes

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“We don’t make mistakes, just happy little accidents.”

Bob Ross

Sometimes when you tie dye, it doesn’t turn out the way you’d like. This is pretty much a given, if you only try this like, ever 10 years or something. You might forget the right bunching patterns, or you might not use enough dye (note: use WAY MORE DYE than you think is necessary). And then you’re left with a tie dye shirt that’s mostly white, and too ugly to get away with.

Do not despair, fellow crafter. This is not the end of your crafting career! You can easily redeem your slightly imperfect product!

So, we were trying a new technique with the dye by just squirting it onto the shirts without bunching them up. I don’t know if this’ll work…but we’ll find out!

Some of them turned out really well, but I wasn’t entirely happy with. Those ones were too washed out and not crisp enough.

Fortunately, I have some craft paint on hand (this in particular)…and I can just touch them up myself.

 

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So, we started by the usual soaking and binding…but this time instead of bunching up the whole shirt, we just drew on the wet shirt with a pencil, and made little bunches around the line.

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Then we poured the dye onto the shirt in the sink…for anyone concerned, the sink didn’t dye at all, so it was a pretty safe situation.

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The pumpkin there is after the touch up paint. It was too blurry with just the dye, and the fabric paint helped significantly. But then I thought, hey, how about a motivational word?? So that was fun 🙂

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You can write little words on the shoulder, or turn a failed dye job into a super-artsy flower.

Yay, art!

These are my favorites, and honestly I think they turned out really well!

 

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You Would Like To Have A Tie Dye Party, Wouldn’t You?

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“Tie-dyeing was especially popular with American youth who opposed theVietnamWar (1954–75), a controversial war in which the United States aided South Vietnam in its fight against atakeoverby Communist North Vietnam. During the late 1960s American young people rebelled against the conservative rules of dress and appearance that had influenced their parents’ generation, and many began to appreciate a movement that valued arts and crafts, simplicity, and traditional ways of making things. Tie-dye was a natural outgrowth of these values, combining personal creativity and bright designs to create low-cost clothing.” (link)

The history of dying fabric goes way, way back.

But the history of tie dye is still pretty recent.

And since I was raised in the 70s, by a couple of hippies…you can bet that my home had lots of hand-made potholders, homemade dresses and tie dye t-shirts

Sometimes, we take our childhood for granted.

We certainly don’t appreciate the freedom of climbing trees in our youth as much as we do when we are adults.

We also didn’t appreciate health insurance for broken bones as much, either.

When I was growing up, we were always outside. Granted, I lived on concrete in the middle of LosAngeles, but we were still outside! Chasing bugs, digging up my neighbors tulip bulbs (Sorry Vivian), swimming…and tie dye parties.

I honestly thought everyone had tie dye parties when they were growing up. They were just a part of life.

For me.

I am finding a lot of my friends have never had a tie dye party.

In their LIFE.

I don’t even know what to say. Other than the fact that I am now having tie dye parties… mostly with their kids. My friends won’t wear tie dye shirts.

I will though.

 

1. DIY Tie Dye Party

https://www.ilovetocreate.com/How-To-Throw-A-Funtastic-Tie-Dye-Party

You don’t need a lot for a tie dye party, but the things you do need are pretty crucial. The soda pre-wash is crucial for getting the colors nice and vibrant. Latex gloves are BEYOND CRUCIAL unless you want tie dye’d hands for the next few weeks.

2. Easy, All Materials Included, Fabulous Cored Tie Dye Kit

http://www.walmart.com

I’ve used this kit before, and it is really fantastic. One box includes everything you need, except the shirts, and the colors turn out really bright! We used 2 boxes, and made about 9 shirts out of what we had. And this includes two of the kids squirting each other with the dye, because: siblings.  #BathNight

3. Some Great Visual Examples Of How To Make Patterns

http://www.bystephanielynn.com/2015/06/tie-dye-folding-techniques-16-vibrant-tie-dye-patterns-tiedyeyoursummer.html

I really need to see how something is done before I understand how it works. Call me “visual” call me “right-brained.” Call me incredibly resourceful, because I know where all the visual demonstrations are, at this point.

4. 100 Creative Tie Dye Patterns

http://www.favecrafts.com/Tie-Dye/Tie-Dye-Techniques-and-Patterns#Tee%20Shirt%20Tie%20Dye%20Patterns

Not everyone wants a gigantic swirly on their chest. Some people would like a heart, or a star! There are some neat patterns in here that will break the norm of tie dye habits.

5. All Natural, Vegetable Dyes

http://playfullearning.net/2013/06/all-natural-tie-dye-diy/

All righty, my fellow hippie friends. Not interested in paying The Man for pre-made, commercialized dyes filled with chemicals and alien technology? Try vegetable dyes…use the purple from boiled beets, or vibrant yellows from organic cayenne! Trust me, this will be a gentle experience for your sweet, hippie soul.

6. For The Seasoned Hippy: Watercolor Tie Dye Techniques, No Rubber Bands Required

http://tiedyeyoursummer.com/tech-watercolor.html

Okay, Bonus Round: Try using a brush with the dyes, instead of rubber bands.  I KNOW, RIGHT??!!

Just Because It’s Summer…Doesn’t Mean We Don’t Get Field Trips

 

I am a sucker for Marine Biology.

Truth be told, it was the subject I had intended to study in college. Unfortunately, I did not fare too well in the required Science classes. Henceforth, I degreed in my other favorite hobby: reading.

Nevertheless, my enduring love for aquatic biomes has yet to subside and I find as many opportunities to share my love with those around me.

Marine Science Center for the day? Don’t mind if I do!

So, it wasn’t a terribly large place…and granted, I only have the Monterey Bay Aquarium for scale, so it isn’t exactly a fair comparison. But they really packed a lot of interesting stuff in here! We loitered for well over 2 hours, and I honestly believe we could have stayed longer except we were tired and becoming delirious with sea cucumbers at that point.

We are very big in touching squishy, wet and slimy things. So the fact that this whole place was filled with touching stations made us squeal with delight. There were critters we knew, like anemones and urchins, and other critters I have never seen before! The docents were also extremely helpful, and friendly, and showed us where all the pipe fish were hiding, and the eels…and the secret backroom with all the microscopes…

 

The microscope was so much better than the microscope I have, which uses a mirror…that I just could never get the hang of. But this one was pretty neat. We were looking at a jellyfish, and we could see the plankton swimming in the middle of it. If that isn’t totally nifty, I don’t know what is.

We also got to work in a side room with TONS of skeletons, and videos, and audiostations, and magnifying glass stations…honestly, I can’t believe we only spent 2 hours in here.

We definitely outlasted the afternoon crowds…

 

After visiting a sister exhibit across the road and seeing even more amazing skeletons, and learning about a class for kids where they get to assemble a gray whale skeleton in the back room (dude, seriously), it turned out that we really were totally beat from all this amazing exploration and information gathering.

So we trekked down the road a bit and hung out at the beach. Made a few driftwood forts. Walked the shore. Got to watch a baby otter swimming around looking for lunch.

Picked up some enchiladas on the way home and called it a day.

You really can’t get a better field trip than this.

I Spoke And Said, “Let There Be Cheese.” And There Was.

#NationalCheeseLoversDay

Get the bread! Get the mustard! Get the turkey! Who has the apples…Get the apples! GoGoGo!

 

 

January 20th is National Cheese Lovers’ Day…which only means one thing:

You are going to need more crackers. A lot more.

When I was a child, I loved cheese as a child. I understood that there was white cheese and yellow cheese, when I was a child. But when I grew up and became an adult, I discovered that I loved cheeses that also had names.  I discovered that I could browse the cheese section with money in my pocket, and unlock a whole culinary universe which I had previously been unaware of.

It all began…with roasted brie.

Good heavens, do I love brie.

I love brie on crackers, on apple slices, with prosciutto, as a grilled cheese sandwich or baked with garlic.

Or gorgonzola! For those of us who are not huge fans of the huge taste that is wielded in the veins of bleu cheese, we have its slightly meeker cousin: gorgonzola. Baked on steak, crumbled in a salad or paired with fresh dark cherries…it is a taste to behold.

Or goat cheese! Its pungent flavor is not for the meek of heart, but for the bold souls who marvel at the tang as it sits atop balsamic marinated beets, or crushed into cinnamon laced blueberries.

And, I am happy to say, that everyone in this house loves cheese with the voracity of an F1 pit crew. 

The delicate world of cheeses is a cornucopia of delight for us all, and verily:

But we in it shall be remembered-

We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

For he to-day that eats amazing cheese with me

Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,

This day shall gentle his condition;

And gentlemen and women in this world now a-bed

Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here,

Delighting in the feasting of cheeses whiles any speaks

That fought with us upon #NationalCheeseLoversDay day.

-Henry V’s, lost monologue

So, how can we truly appreciate this day besides snacking off of the cheese platter?

1. 15 Unusual Cheese Facts

I truly believe that the best way to begin to thoroughly enjoy cheese, you must understand how complex cheese is. Like, did you know America produces the most cheese in the world? This sounds great, until you realize they are producing American cheese…

2. Straight Outta Wisconsin: Seasonal Cheese Pairings

The best thing about cheese is how many different ways it can be eaten. However, you cannot traverse this path without a guide! Let the cheesy experts show you which amazing pairings can be made with seasonal cheeses. For example: just imagine mascarpone mixed with pear, or cheese curds mixed with pickled jalapeño. I’m all over this one.

3. The Essentials: 50 Grilled Cheese Recipes

One of my favorite meals is hands down, tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. You really can’t bet that combination…unless you have 50 recipes for grilled cheese sandwiches! Is this a challenge? Shall I explore one different sandwich each week of the year?? Maybe. Probably.

4. The Top 10 Worst Cheese List

I almost did not include this, for the sole reason that they included most of the cheeses I love on this list. So, I can only conclude that they are magnificently wrong. However, in the spirit of fair and balanced reporting, I felt it was important to show that not everyone is right. And they are all very wrong.

5. The Top 10 Cheeses You Must Know and Love

On the other hand, there are some cheeses that are loved universally!  This is definitely a weekend project. So much more fun than reorganizing the garage.

6. Cheesecake Recipe

If all else fails, bake a cheesecake and enjoy with wine.

Cheers!