Sunday, April 28, 2019

Memory Making Mom by Jessica Smartt

On Amazon
Be a different kind of mom. Break through the distractions and create lasting memories.
What’s the solution to gaining the balanced, meaningful life you desire with your family? Create traditions that bring joy and significance. Popular "Smartter Each Day" blogger and mom of three, Jessica Smartt explains why memory-making is the puzzle piece that today’s families are longing for. She highlights ten tradition-gifts kids need most, including a rich resource of two hundred–plus unique traditions. She also offers practical encouragement to modern parents to keep on adventuring—even when they are fighting distractions, are on a budget, and exhausted.
My Review:  
Memory Making Mom by Jessica Smartt shares about making memories in your family.  The author talks about making memories on holidays, in service, on trips, with food, in work and in relationships.  She talks about gifts of rest, memories, music, family devotions, and holidays.    The author refers to holidays as gifts.    Her writing style is storytelling and she spends the chapters giving ideas and telling stories from her family and others.  Each chapter starts with a quote and ends with suggested things to do.  There is also a master index in the back with over 200 memory making ideas.  

I was so intrigued to read this book.  In my heart I want to be a memory making mom so the title spoke to me.  I want to celebrate traditions and have connections with my kids. You can pick and choose what chapters you read and the index has so many ideas that you can choose or use it as a springboard  to discover more ideas.  I found myself skipping around the book to find what fit for my family at this time in our lives.

The book helped me up to seeing memory making in a different way.  For instance every spring my kids and I recite a the Robert Frost poem Nothing Gold Can Stay at the first signs of spring.  We laugh about it and it is bonding moment.  I am not sure if I saw that as a tradition, but it really is a tradition for our family.  The book opened me up to thinking of different activities to do with my kids. It also opened up conversations with my kids to reflect on what traditions were important to them.  I was surprised at their answers, thrilled we had good memories, and encouraged to make more after reading.  

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Monday, April 22, 2019

Re Post: Walking Through Burnout 2

Last time  I talked about what I did when I was burned out.  This week I wanted to share about what I did not do.

  • I did not keep looking for new curriculum or new ways to do things.  I did not research or look for anything.  I stopped getting freebies. 
  • I did not stick around when home education friends started getting in big discussions about math programs or the latest and greatest.  I found it too stressful.  I stepped away from talking about home education.  
  • I did not blame my children for being burned out.  It was me, not them. 
  • I did not worry if my children were doing enough, reading enough, or making progress.  I followed the plan and rejoiced at what we were doing.  

Stepping back was really helpful.  It helped me to get a new perspective and remember why I started home educating.  I want to enjoy the limited amount of time I have with my kids.

Hopefully something in these last two posts was helpful for you if you are feeling burned out.  I am here to say that things are better.

photo credit: Fuego 1 via photopin (license)

Monday, April 15, 2019

Guest Post: Three Organizing Tips by Lisa Woodruff

I asked my friend Lisa Woodruff from Organize 365 to share about her organizational system.  She will be at the Ohio Homeschool Convention April 25-27.  Stop by and see her at booth 1611,1613 ! I will be. 
Becky and I have known each other for years. Our journeys through adoption and advocating for our kids have had similar parallels, but I never thought I would be following her into homeschooling!

While I received my degree in teaching at Miami University, I never anticipated I would be putting it to use at home – and starting at the junior year of high school! But that is what we do as parents when we feel an educational change is what is best for our family and our children.

Becky asked me to share with you my homeschool organizational systems. I can understand why, as my year with our daughter has progressed my confidence in providing what she needs - when she needs it - has increased as well. I quickly moved from the thought of purchasing a curriculum, to making a modified curriculum myself. Within a few months we ditched that idea and I have been following her passions the past few months.

Truth be told, I’m having a blast with the curriculum we are creating. I wanted to visit all the presidential homes in Ohio so we did! I LOVE learning and am wondering how I justify these fun field trips when she “graduates”. But organizing it all – well that can be a challenge. Especially since I work full-time, albeit from home.

Here are my 3 organizing tips I have used this year to say organized with links for more detailed information.

1. Keep your ideas in ONE place.

 I have created a system for organizing all your ideas, curriculum and assessments. It is called the Homeschool Friday Workbox. It is the ONE place I drop all my notes and to dos. I go through it on Friday afternoon and plan next week’s activities.

This allows me to plan one week at a time and review our goals and objectives to make sure we are on track for graduation. My box is regularly organized which gives me confidence I will be ready when I have Becky do my assessment!

2. Keep track of your child’s medical and educational papers in a binder. 

While I am homeschooling, my kids qualify for IEPs and educational help. I have all those formal papers in a binder to take to all our medical and educational meetings.

This spring I formalized the system I created years ago into the Warrior MAMA binder. This eBook & binder system will guide you as you advocate for your child’s needs outside of your home.

3. Focus on your life long goals.

I am a highly goal-oriented person. My goals have goals. But when push comes to shove, I have had only 2 goals for the last 20 years. Goal #1 is to remain married to my husband for the rest of my life. And goal #2 is to raise independent, self-sufficient, contributing members of society.

When I am stressing out about state standards, other people’s opinions, or my own past educational thoughts I stop and ask, “Is this important for my child to become an independent, self- sufficient contributing member of society?” If not, I let it go.

Balancing the spontaneity and customization of a homeschool curriculum with the structure needed for assessments and daily life can be challenging. If you struggle in this area as the parent, why not give yourself permission to “take a class” and improve your organization. Organization is a learnable skill! You can find my free masterclasses here and listen to the Organize 365 podcast here.

I’d love to help you get organized!

Lisa Woodruff
Founder of Organize 365

Monday, April 08, 2019

Re Post: Walking through Burnout!

I originally posted this four years ago.  I had 7 children under 16 and I thought I would drown soon.  I still have a lot going on, but no longer feel burned out. (maybe worn out, but that is a different story. :-)   I am re-posting in case it is helpful again.   

About this time last year, I looked at my husband and told him I could not keep home educating.  I just did not have it in me.  Between our oldest son with multiple issues, all the kids, and my very busy little ones I could not go on.  He thought I was joking.  I convinced him that I meant it.  I started looking at the Baptist school down the street, and I am not even Baptist.  Something had to change.

I watched this video by Susan Wise Bauer. She starts talking about burnout at about the 9:30 minute mark.  It helped me to define my feelings, and realize I needed a plan to get through it to the other side.  I like home educating, but I needed a break.  These are some of the actions steps I took.

  • For me I started by taking the whole summer off.  I had never done that.  We had schooled all year with breaks in-between.  I had not taken a large chunk of time off.  It helped tremendously. 
  •  I realized I was not going to finish the whole curriculum, took a deep breath and cut my losses.  I did finish math, but that was all.  I dumped some things in my recycling bin and did not look back.  (Well, until the papers blew out of the recycle bin in a storm and landed on the deck posts and stuck there.  I did get over that.)
  • I choose a complete curriculum with lesson plans for the next year, and just followed that.  I would try to be more eclectic in the past and pull in all sorts of resources, but I did not have that in me.  I just followed the plan.
  • I was distressed with the state of my life and house and started doing a project a day.  My friend Kerry and I would write each other daily and share our projects.  It kept me going and as my house became neater my attitude changed.  My kids helped me with the projects.  We really had fun.  I felt like I was getting my life back. 
  • I shared with some other friends how I felt, and I was shocked that they felt the same.  One friend said she was so burned out she was crispy.  I loved that.  Just sharing with others made me feel better. It is so easy to think that everyone else is doing great and you are the only one.
  • I enjoyed just playing with my kids.  I played hours of badminton, sat in the back yard with them, took a few field trips, and just did not worry about school.   I remembered what it was like to just be with them. 

Next week. . . I will tell you what I did not do.