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Post Partum Weight Loss Update: Fitness Program

Ok, so it’s been quite a while since I posted about my post-partum weightloss journey.  I’ve got to be honest…life has been getting in the way!  I actually gained 7 pounds.  Eek!  I went the wrong way!  Though we’re back to school now, we recently took a month-long break from lessons, which means we kinda took a month-long break from any kind of structure that even remotely resembles a routine.  Things have been totally crazy!  Plus, it’s been so insanely hot outside…it’s Texas, and it’s summer…of course it’s hot!  I have lots of excuses, don’t I?

So, here I am, dusting myself off, and getting back on the fitness wagon.  

What’s Next?

I’m going to keep up with my water intake goal, and try to keep on track with that one.  That’s pretty easy, I can do that!

I recently found a fantastic program for homeschooling moms (though I personally think any busy mom could benefit) called “Homeschool Mom Fitness”.  I have only been through one week so far, but, I feel like I finally have some hope for getting fit again!  I’m back down to 229 pounds after my high of 230.  My biggest problem with getting myself in shape has always been this preconceived notion that I have to find a big block of time every day to “work out”.  I just isn’t there.  I’m always doing something.  I flutter from doing dishes to folding laundry to sitting at the kitchen table teaching lessons to…well, you get the picture.

There just isn’t any extra time in our schedule for a big block of half an hour, or even 20 minutes for me to take on my own.  But, this program is different.   Each week, there are 5 sets of 3 exercises to complete each day.  You can complete them all at once, or just take them a set at a time.  The first week, you only have to go 20 seconds per exercise.  That’s 60 seconds 5 times a day…that’s all.  The second week is 30 seconds per exercise.  It increases each week.  Even I can find a single minute here and there throughout my day.  As I become more cognizant of my extra time through the day, I’m pretty sure I’ll be finding time to squeeze in exercise in spots I thought were totally jam-packed.

How to Work In the Work Outs

Consider this…

How often do you find yourself standing in the kitchen, waiting for something to cook?  It takes a few minutes for those pancakes to cook on each side, but not enough that you can leave them and go do something else.  You’re a captive.  But…why not squeeze in a set or two of exercises while you’re there?  You’ve already started your day out right!

Or this…

You’re sitting on the floor with your baby while she has some tummy time.  That’s a great time to do something a little entertaining for her…why not make it some exercise.  My baby thinks it’s hilarious to watch Mommy exercise.  I get a step closer to being a fit mom, and baby grins all at the same time.  Everybody wins!

If you’re homeschooling…

These would make great P.E. exercises to do with your students.  Work in a few with your kiddos.  Now, you’ve covered a class subject, and you’re all better off than you were before!

We’re back to school here in our house, and our routine is back to normal.  I feel like I have even less time to myself with all of our school work to oversee.  But, I am still going strong, finding those few minutes here and there.  It’s only Tuesday, and the hardest part of the week is still to come…we’ve got a swimming day scheduled tomorrow (how’s that to stay in a routine?).  But, for once, I have confidence in my ability to stick with this program.

To learn more about Homeschool Mom Fitness, hop on over and check out their website.  For one low price, you get lifetime access to all of the materials…there is no monthly fee.  So, even if you do fall off the fitness wagon (it happens to us all), you still have access to the materials to get yourself back on track again.  There is a fitness tracker, access to videos to show you the proper form for all the exercises, access to a Facebook group (which I have really enjoyed so far), and more.  The program was created by a homeschool mom and her husband, who happens to be a certified personal trainer, so you know he knows his stuff!  I really hope you’ll drop by, and check out this program.  Join us, and let’s all get back in shape together!


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Today, I just wanted to write about notebooking, and what a life saver it has been for us in our homeschool!  I was getting increasingly exasperated a couple of years ago with the direction our schooling was going with Bear.  She was (and still is) an incredibly bright child…in fact, that was actually why we didn’t send her to public school in the first place.  She was reading independently before she was five.  I wish I could take credit for that, but I can’t…all I did was teach her the basic sounds, she took off from there faster than our phonics program could keep up!  But I digress.

As is often the case with bright children, she had trouble sometimes applying herself to what I was trying to teach her.  When she was younger, she loved doing workbooks…strange child, I know.  So, I had kind of tried to encourage her by using workbooks early on.  But, as she got past the point of learning the basics, her love for workbooks began to wane…but I was stuck in an educational rut.  Plus, workbooks are so easy…as the teacher, I didn’t really even have to think about it.  We’d just open our workbook, read our lesson, then I’d set Bear free to complete the independent portion of the lesson.

But Bear hated it.  She didn’t jump up and yell, “YAY!” when I said “Time for lessons!” anymore.  Instead I got a groan and “Right now?  Couldn’t we do it later?”  It had become drudgery.  Even worse, Lizard was picking up on Bear’s attitude and adopting it as her own.  Now I had to fight 2 kids every day to get started with school.  Where had that little girl who looked forward to school time gone?

I started looking at different curriculum options.  I needed something that gave me a little structure, so that I could make sure we were covering everything.  Bear needed something that allowed her to use that creative nature she was so blessed with.

Enter notebooking. We can use it with pretty much any subject or curriculum we choose to use. Click To Tweet

Enter notebooking.  We can use it with pretty much any subject or curriculum we choose to use.  We use it most in science and history, but I know some folks use notebooking for pretty much everything.  

Bear reads her assignment for the day.  We have a discussion about it.  The time our discussion takes really varies.  We talk about any words or phrases that she didn’t understand, then I make sure they show up in her vocabulary work for the week!  In history, in particular, we often discuss why it’s important to our lives today.  Why do the things some dead guy did 400 years ago impact our lives after all that time?  We don’t skip our discussion time.  It’s critical for comprehension!

Then, after we’ve discussed what she’s read, I hand her a notebooking sheet.  Sometimes I give her a very specific assignment, but sometimes I leave the assignment very open-ended.  She writes about what she’s learned, and illustrates it in some way.  It’s that simple.  It’s always interesting to see what part of each lesson has really resonated with her each day, too.  She loves that she gets to draw during history, and she really takes pride in her work (both the writing and the drawing).  I love that she’s actually learning her history!  It’s a win-win for us both.  Plus, at the end of every year, we’ll always have something to come back to…a record that reminds us both of what she’s done in the past.

Here’s a free printable for your personal use.  There are 12 different general use notebooking pages in this free pack.  You can use them for any subject you want.  All I ask is that you don’t sell them, or share them.  If you want to share them with someone, send them here to this post to get their copy!  Thanks!

General Notebooking pages

General Notebooking Pages

Do you use notebooking in your homeschool? 


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Think Tank Thursday

My kids are weird...and why I'm ok with it

My kids are weird.  

Whew!  I got that out of the way!  I love my kids.  They’re really, really good kids!  My kids just aren’t normal kids.  At least they aren’t normal based on today’s standards.  A hundred years ago I’m sure they would have been normal, run-of-the-mill, cookie cutter kids.  But not anymore.  My kids are weird.  But, I’m okay with that.  I might even encourage it.  They have seen more and understand more about real life in their few short years than many adults.

You see, my kids are country kids.

I grew up in town.  No…not in town, in the city.  I grew up in Dallas.  Well, in the rough, tough, suburbs of the northeastern corner of Dallas county, anyway (please take note of the sarcasm dripping off that statement!).  Dallas…it’s currently the ninth largest city in the United States, the fourth largest metro area in the United States.  That is, according to Wikipedia, anyway.  My grandfather’s (my mom’s dad) family were sharecroppers.  My grandmother (my dad’s mom) grew up on a farm.  I visited my great-grandparents’ farm a couple times per year until they died…I was in elementary school.  My uncle and his family lived in a rural area north of Dallas for a while.  I visited them every once in a while.  More importantly, I heard all his stories…about the chickens, and dogs, and coyotes.  I might have been a city girl, but I knew all about “country” stuff.  I was sure I had experience.

But I had no idea.

Did you know that meat doesn’t actually appear in the refrigerated section at the grocery store through some sort of magical process?  I didn’t.  Well, when I actually thought about it, I did.  But, like most people, I never had to think about it.

What about fruits and vegetables?  Most people grow beans for some sort of science project in elementary school, but that’s the end of food production…they rarely think of it again.  Many folks never think about the work that goes into producing enough for your family to eat for an entire year.  I know I didn’t…but my kids do. 

We moved out here, and I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into.  I had no idea what I was getting our kids into.  I’m glad we did it.  Our kids are better off because of it.  But, our kids are most definitely weird.

Our kids eat their vegetables.

Gasp!  That one little fact probably makes them weird all on its own!  They don’t usually even complain about it…as long as no one did anything silly to the vegetables, you know, like cooking them.  They prefer them straight out of the garden (see number 8 on this list).  I don’t think we even managed to get any of our peas into the house this year.  The kids ate them straight off the plants for “outside snacks”, as Monkey called them.

Now, don’t try cooking their precious vegetables…that is ill-advised.  Don’t try to heat up canned peas and tell my kids to eat them because you’ve heard they like peas.  They will look at you like a cow looking at a new gate…and then absolutely refuse to eat whatever it is you just served them (it certainly wasn’t peas!).  Cooked carrots?  Forget it!

Our kids are homeschooled.

This is probably why they don’t realize that our family is a little bit different than most.  They get plenty of time to play with other kids, don’t get me wrong.  But, they’re not around the same set of other kids every single day like they would be at school.  We teach the things that we feel are important, not what the state tells us to teach.  We set high standards for what they learn.  

Most preschoolers learn about farm animals from picture books.  Our kids don’t just learn how to point them out in a book.  They learned that cows are huge.  They know that big brown one ain’t a cow…and not to mess with him.  There’s a difference between a cow and a heifer, and my four year old can tell you all about it.  Eggs come from hens, not from roosters, and even my 2 year old knows how to tell the difference.  Pigs really do enjoy a good wallow in the mud, and if there is no mud available, they will make their own!  Our kids know all about farm animals, and they know how to treat them, and how to behave around them.

Our kids pull their weight

Now, some of them weigh more than others, and we certainly make allowances for that.  But our kids have to work.  Most of the time, they actually enjoy it!  When I say it’s time to clean our bathroom, Bear jumps up and says, “Ooh!  I’ll clean the potty!”  No, I’m not making that up.  I actually did it myself this past week, and she honestly got upset with me.  There are certainly household chores they don’t enjoy, like cleaning up their rooms, but they are learning to do them anyway…like it or not.

All the kids have a blast helping their daddy with his work outside.  They go with him nearly every night to lock up the chicken coops and pull water for all the animals.  They help as much as they can.  When Daddy is out planting the gardens, the kids are right there helping him out.  They help pick the vegetables once the plants start producing, too.  Once the vegetables are picked, they help wash and sort it as well.  They know what goes into making the food they eat, and they probably have a better appetite for it!

Our kids understand that death is part of life.

This made me a little uncomfortable at first, but our kids have a very healthy view of death.  Without death, there is no life.  They understand where their food comes from.  They feed their food apple cores…our latest set of pigs recently went to the freezer, but we sure went through a lot of apples while they were living in the barn.  Our children know where the pigs are, they understand…but they aren’t upset by it.  It’s just part of life.  We take care of our animals, and when the time comes, our animals take care of us.

Many kids find a lot of blood and gore in video games.  Fascination with these types of things, while often disturbing to adults, is (to a certain degree) part of healthy development.  Our children don’t need video games…they’ve seen their dad slaughter chickens to feed his family.  It’s certainly not a pleasant task, but in our lives, it’s a necessary task.  Our kids understand that, and they’re blessed with an understanding that these animals have fulfilled their purpose.

The understanding of death gained by our children through their involvement in food production also prepares them for the death of loved ones as well.  They aren’t frightened of the concept of death and they understand what it means.  That means we can intelligently discuss our beliefs about what happens to people after death on earth.  My Granddad (their great-granddad) recently passed away after a year of confinement to a nursing home due to dementia and a hip injury.  When we told the kids about it, they were able to process the information.  Of course they were sad, especially Bear who remembered what he was like before his dementia got really bad.  But, since they already understood death, it allowed us to concentrate on the life that comes after death.  Without death, there can be no life.

So, there you have it.  My kids are weird.  But, I wouldn’t have it any other way!


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Awesome Life Friday


Well, this is the time of year when most homeschooling families start to decide what worked this past year and what we need to change.  Our family works on a bit of a different schedule than most (one of the great things about homeschooling is that we have the option to run on whatever schedule we want), and we just took a couple weeks off while I took a little maternity leave.  So, here’s what curriculum we’re currently using with all of the kids…well, all of the kids who are old enough to “do school” anyway.

Bear

Bear is working on many different grade levels in various subjects.  But, since she is currently 8 years old, we usually just say she is in the second grade.  It makes less confusion for most people we talk to!

      • Reading – We don’t have any specific reading program.  Bear reads pretty much anything she can get her hands on.  We are currently using the books from Catholic Heritage Curricula‘s Reading Comprehension program.  Right now she is reading the Father Brown Reader.  She reads a chapter, then narrates back what she reads.  Once or twice a week, I have her write down her narration.  We also use Beautiful Stories From Shakespeare, which is in the public domain.  We follow the same procedure for that book as we do for the Father Brown Reader.  She also narrates her history reading selections each week.
      • Memorization – We use The Harp and Laurel Wreath, and  How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare  for our memory selections.
      • Grammar – We just recently started using Fix It! Grammar (we’re starting with Book 1: The Nose Tree) from the Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW).  I am very happy with it so far.  It is all review at the moment, but I wanted to start at the beginning of the series for continuity’s sake.  Bear has really been enjoying it as well.  The lessons are pretty short, so she really likes that.  Plus, she waits with anticipation to find out what will happen in the story next week.  Fix It! Grammar consists of a sentence each day to fix.  The students are presented with a set of grammar rules each week.  They must then fix a sentence each day.  Each week they must remember to continue fixing the previous weeks’ rules as well as the rule for that week.  A vocabulary word is presented with each day’s sentence as well.  The student must look up and write the definition each day.  So, by the end of the week, the student has learned four new vocabulary words. 
      • Writing – We also recently began using Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales Writing Lessons from IEW.  We are both enjoying this curriculum as well so far.  We are only in Unit 1, but it really touches on some skills that were seriously lacking previously in Bear’s schooling.
      • Spelling – We are using the free curriculum from K12 Reader.  I’m thinking we may go back to the My Catholic Speller series from Catholic Heritage Curricula next year.  There’s nothing wrong with the material from K12 Reader, and I certainly like the price!  But, I don’t feel like it gives us any cohesiveness.
      • Math – Ah, the bain of our existence!  I have yet to find a curriculum that I really like or that Bear enjoys.  We’ve tried a few things, like Math Mammoth and Life of Fred.  The Life of Fred story just didn’t really engage Bear.  Math Mammoth seems fairly complete, but it was essentially just worksheet after worksheet.  We’re currently using the first book in the Strayer Upton Practical Arithmetics series.  It’s a good, solid foundation in basic arithmetic, with lots of practice problems.  But, it doesn’t provide me with much assistance for explaining mathematical concepts (which would be nice, since math is not one of my gifts).  I’m still not completely happy with it, but for some reason, we keep coming back to it.  Someday, we’ll find the math program that is right for us.  Right now, however, we are really enjoying Times Tales.  Bear had been struggling to memorize all of her multiplication facts.  But, since we started using this program a week ago, she seems to finally be getting them down!

     

  • Coupon Code PARTNER20 for 20% OFF Times Tales Products

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    • Science – We found Mr. Q Classic Science, Life Science curriculum.  He gives the Life Science away as a free download on his website.  We are really enjoying it so far.  The text is interspersed with funny little comments, that Bear enjoys reading.  The content seems pretty solid.  The elementary series also contains Earth Science, Chemistry, and Physical Science.  Each of the other books in the series are $50 each for a PDF download.  It’s a little pricey, but he usually offers the titles for half price every January.
    • History – We are currently working through (slowly) The Old World and America by Philip J. Furlong.  We also use Catholic Schoolhouse to add a little more detail for each time period.  I spend a lot of time pulling resources together for history.  We use a lot of library books and books from the public domain that I can download.  My husband likes to see a history quiz with short answer questions every week, so we use the discussion questions from The Old World and America quite a bit.  Bear narrates the reading selection every day, and at least once a week, she writes it out.  It really helps the information to sink in!
    • Religion – We’ve been using the Religion for Young Catholics curriculum series from Seton.  Bear likes it.  I like it alright, but some days it feels like she is just reading a page and filling in some blanks.  I’m not sure she’s really internalizing the information that is being presented.  I think we may try to go back to the Faith and Life series next year.
    • Spanish – We’ve been working through Learn Spanish With Grace.  Bear enjoys all of the songs.  I’m not sure she’s really internalizing a lot of the Spanish, but it’s a nice, gentle introduction.  When we’re done with this curriculum, I think we’re going to find something a little more intensive.  I have my eye on a couple of different programs, so I’ll have to make a choice soon.
    • Music – Bear is learning to play the piano.  I am using the Bastien Piano Basics series.  I learned piano using this series many years ago.  So, I’m familiar with the curriculum.  I can use my old books, which have notes from my piano teacher.  We’re still in the first level.

 

Lizard

Lizard is also working on a couple of different grade levels, but, we generally say she’s in Kindergarten.

    • Reading – We are currently using Bigger Stories for Little Folks from Catholic Heritage Curricula.  Bear went through this series, too when she was first learning to read.  The youngest son in the book, Greg, keeps the reader quite entertained with his antics.  The stories are precious, and have our Faith woven into them as well.  It’s great for reading practice.  That said, it doesn’t really contain enough phonics practice for my taste, even though the description of the curriculum claims to have phonics tied into the lessons.  We add a phonics curriculum as well.
    • Phonics – We just finished Phonics for Young Catholics 1 curriculum from Seton.  We are taking a break from that series to have a little light-hearted fun with Explode the Code
    • Spelling – Again, we are using the curriculum from K12 Reader, but planning on moving back to the My Catholic Speller series next year
    • Math – We are working through a workbook that we received free from my aunt, who is a former elementary school teacher.  It came with a teacher’s manual, which is nice to have on hand in case I need to think of a different way to explain a concept.  It’s called Mathematics Today, but I’m guessing it’s probably out of print!
    • Handwriting – We are using Seton’s Handwriting for Young Catholics 1.  We both like this program, so I think we’ll probably be using it for quite some time to come.

 

Monkey

Monkey is just starting out with his schooling.  Right now, we’re focusing on the basics.  He’s busy learning his alphabet sounds, and learning how to count and recognize his numbers.

  • Phonics Sound City Phonics is a great beginning phonics curriculum.  The best part is that it’s free!  You can go to the website, and download all the materials you need and print it out as you need it.  Each letter sound is introduced with a funny story that Monkey really enjoys.  It really helps him to remember the sound each letter makes.
  • Math – Right now, we’re not doing anything formal.  I print out number recognition sheets from various places around the internet for us to do together.  We also use counters, or buttons, or animal crackers to practice counting, and to play around with the concept of addition and subtraction.

 

So, what curriculum do you use and really enjoy?  If you haven’t decided yet what you’re going to use for next year, here’s a few charts I use to help me weigh all the pros and cons (and budget) for each curriculum item I consider.  Try them out…they’re free!  See how it works for you!

 

Curriculum by Supplier

 Curriculum by Subject

 Curriculum by Student