So I hesitated a little about posting my unedited kitchen photo, but I am *all* about keeping it real. I don't whitewash my life because I don't think that helps anyone. Just like my favorite YouTube beauty bloggers who don't mind baring their naked faces to show me how to cover my rosacea, I don't mind baring my real kitchen to dispel the notion that I have it all together (where do people get that idea?) Thus, the flaws are definitely visible in this picture!
What I choose to focus on, though, are the bags of food in the foreground! What you are looking at is a week and a half's worth of dinners ready to be thrown in the freezer. Come the morning in question, all I need to do is throw the contents of one of those bags in the crock pot, along with a bag of frozen chicken breasts, and (8 or so hours later) dinner will be served! I am so happy about that. It was a win-win-win. I went to the grocery store and came home and didn't have to put many things away. I used them all immediately! How ingenious an idea is that?
I'm not one to hog the good ideas myself, so here are the wonderful bloggers (with the pretty pictures!) from whom I took the ideas and recipes:
There are a ton more freezer-to-crockpot ideas out there. Pinterest is our friend, people!
Now if only I could catch up on my work...is there any help for that on Pinterest? Well, actually, considering my job is to create materials for elementary school teachers - yes!
Some days I just feel that I am lacking the mother gene. I am being brutally honest here. I hope I won't be judged, but I realize that's probably hoping for too much. My nearly 11 year-old son is overly emotional. He always has been. He cried excessively as a toddler and he hasn't stopped since. I'm sure it has something to do with ADHD/OCD/Tourettes/twice-exceptionalism. Right now I don't really care. It wears me out. It's the most amazing thing: dealing with him has a physiological effect on me. I can feel myself getting completely exhausted. I can feel myself getting drained. All of a sudden there's nothing left.
After he's crazy-made me for the hundredth time. After he's been disrespectful toward me. After he's done whatever he needs to do to make his brain happy. Then he comes weeping over to me telling me he's sorry. Today he told me, "When I act like that toward you, I feel like we're two positives or two negatives and I hate that." He's talking about batteries, of course, and how they repel each other. When he's dripping tears and snot all over me, I want to feel sorry for him, but I only feel sorry for myself. This happened yesterday. It happened today. It will happen tomorrow. He's always sorry. I know he can't help some of it. I hate myself for not feeling more compassion for him. Tonight when I'm in bed suffering from insomnia one of the things keeping me up will be my guilt that I don't love him enough (or, more accurately, that I don't show him enough love - I do love him enough. I don't doubt that.).
Still, he's rebounded. I'm writing this on the verge of tears and he's throwing clean laundry around the living room with the other kids. How and when will I know how much of this nonsense really affects him?
What is Mango Languages for Homeschool?
- Languages are divided into "Journeys" or units.
- Each Unit is then further divided into chapters. For example, my children are currently working on "Shopping and Payment" in Journey 1 of Latin American Spanish. That chapter is subdivided into 8 lessons.
- Each Chapter begins with a conversation which, at first reading/hearing, seems kind of intimidating!
- Grammar and Culture are also part of this program. I mentioned that this program is not grammar-focused, and it's not, but it does teach grammar. It is simply that it teaches it organically in the course of speaking the language. In the above slide, for instance, my kids were taught that they were asking a person in a formal manner if he/she had maps. Previously they had learned that verbs take different forms depending on who is being addressed. When it is necessary to explicitly address a grammar note, it is done so in the context of the lesson.
- Each Chapter concludes with a quiz. Students listen to a conversation and then answer questions based on what they heard.
Mango Features that We Did Not Use But That Are (or will be) Included
- Here are a few things you can do with Mango right now:
- Progress Assessments
- Built-in journals, discussions, and wikis
- Collaborative learning spaces
- eNote messaging/chat rooms
- Access to embedded/downloadable content
- Support from other community members
- Calendars to schedule meetings or study sessions
- Here are some things that will be introduced over the next few months:
- Enhanced tracking and progress monitoring - including seat time (for students and parents)
- Goals and personal lesson plans (both stand-alone and tied into Mango courses)
- Resume and Portfolio Builder
How We Used Mango (for ages 6 - Adult)
- Therese (12) - French, Greek, and Latin
- Boys (9 and 10) - Korean
- All (9, 9, 10, 12, Mom and Dad) - Spanish, German, Pirate
My Final Thoughts
Once upon a time my daughter fainted in church. After a full cardiology workup she was diagnosed with "Overdose of the Holy Ghost." Can I get an "Amen"?
The resulting blood work from that episode showed something unusual: my baby had high bilirubin. Except that my baby was 11 and her bilirubin hadn't been a cause for concern since she was a couple of weeks old. Sure, she's always been a little on the yellow side, and sure we make sure she never wears yellow because it makes her look like a squash or a banana, but she's got that island blood in her, right? Well, it turns out that she's not actually supposed to be quite so yellow...and her eyes definitely aren't supposed to be yellow.
Follow-up blood work showed the bilirubin stayed consistently high and an abdominal ultrasound showed that her liver was abnormal. A nuclear scan showed that her gall bladder doesn't play nicely with others, either, but her pedi GI actually thinks that might be unrelated to her liver difficulties. My daughter - such the overachiever. One faulty abdominal organ just isn't enough for her.
Even more blood work later (she's to the point now where she just sticks out her arm politely, gives up ridiculous amounts of blood, says "thank you" and walks out gracefully - phlebotomists love her) - oh, and urine (yay - no dignity left for my now 12 year-old!), and it turns out that copper may be causing her trouble.
So, a week ago we found ourselves where we didn't want to be at all: Texas Children's Hospital for a liver biopsy. And now we wait. I *really* hate waiting. I think that the doctor is pretty sure about what she has (not that he'll tell us) and I think that I'm pretty sure, too (not that I'll commit it to electronic paper). If I'm right, it's 100% treatable and 100% fatal if not treated for the rest of her life. That is super, super scary to write.
For reasons about which I am not entirely clear, her liver had to travel to MN, so we won't know for a little while. She is handling things awesomely. She is spending all of her time working on debate (she wants to qualify for Regionals so badly!) and looking forward to dancing at Ballet Center of Houston this summer. She even laughed when her brother asked us what time we were going to be home from her autopsy last week (Nicholas - oh my word! He's another post. It's a testament to how much time and energy Therese has been taking that we have not dealt with his diagnosis of Tourettes AT ALL).
The upshot: if you have a moment to spare, would you say a quick prayer for my Therese? We have dealt with this in private and in silence for almost a year now, but I am at the point where I feel like some prayers would really help us.
Organization is not my strong suit. I'm not proud of that. In fact, I can't stand it. I am firmly convinced that the perfectionism that has made me successful in my academic and professional lives has crippled me in my domestic life. At least that's what I'm telling myself. Needless to say, I jump at the chance to defy my disorganized side. I was thrilled, then, to be able to review one of the Motivated Moms Ebooks Planners from Motivated Moms.
In a world full of more planners than you could possibly ever explore, there are several things that set the Motivated Moms line apart from the rest.
The hallmark of all of the Motivated Moms chore schedule planners is their simplicity. To begin with, the majority of the chores are scheduled for you. Unlike a zone cleaning system, the Motivated Moms system has you doing a variety of chores in different rooms each day. The idea is that by the end of the week you will have done the work necessary to maintain your home, plus you will have done some chores that you don't think of doing (dusting light bulbs!), but that go a long way to keeping your house cleaner than you would have thought possible.
The Planner I Chose and How I Used ItI had a bit of a hard time choosing from all of the available planners, but I eventually decided to go with the full-page color chore planner. Printed, this planner comes to 55 pages. I know that saving on ink is a major concern for some families, but my printer is excellent and even printing on draft, I get vivid color while hardly using any ink (HP OfficeJet Pro 8600, in case you were wondering!). Hence, I didn't hesitate to buy this planner. I hesitated about the best way to print this planner (all at once and comb-bind? one page (week) at a time? all at once in a binder?). I finally decided that printing one week at a time and putting it on the refrigerator would be the best option for my family. I know myself too well to print the whole thing at once. My history with planners would suggest that I would put it somewhere never to see it again. As it turns out, I know myself well! The one page at a time method seems to be best for making sure that I use the planner.
Having said that, printing this planner one page at a time definitely makes it seem less like a planner and more like a house cleaning schedule, which is perfectly fine. I desperately need one of those! This planner (pictured above) has a section that allows you to check off all of your daily chores each day (beds, dishes, etc.), but it also gives you individualized chores for each day of the week. What makes it very different from a zone cleaning system, the system with which I am most familiar (and at which I have failed spectacularly) is that tasks are broken up within rooms each day. In other words, you clean a small part of the bathroom each day rather than focusing on the entire bathroom on one particular day. I *really* like this method. The primary reason I think I stink at cleaning is that I don't ever feel that I have enough time to do an entire room justice. By only doing a small piece of each room, I feel like I can make some headway so that by the end of the week I actually see improvement. The same chores are not repeated each day every week, as there are some chores that don't *need* to be done weekly (such as cleaning out the refrigerator or doing the mending and ironing - as if I would ever do the mending and ironing ;-) ). Conversely, some chores are, in my opinion, repeated too often - hand towels are changed in the bathrooms every other day. I would never change hand towels that often. Of course, the beauty of a chore system, like the beauty of homeschooling, is that you adapt the system to fit your needs. Thus - I just don't change the towels if I don't need to!
To summarize then - rather than letting this planner dictate my life, I have used it as a wonderful reminder to do things that I wouldn't ordinarily think of doing. Honestly, much of the time the reason things don't get done around my house is, very simply, because I don't think to do them. I am easily distracted and very busy and not that observant. To that end, this planner is ideal for me! Each morning, I look at the planner to see what special chores I am supposed to do during the day and then figure out when I can do them. Although I have the best intentions every day to check off the daily chores section (dishes, beds, etc.), I rarely remember to do so. However, getting the little nudge to do that extra thing that doesn't cross my mind (clean out one kitchen drawer, for instance) has been wonderful. It has made me feel that I am taking extra steps toward becoming more organized and neater.
The Bottom Line
By waiting and by calm you shall be saved,
in quiet and in trust your strength lies.
- Isaiah 30:15
I feel like we have been waiting for a long time. Last April we first realized that something was not right. Things really got kicked up in November. In the last 11 months, my daughter has had more than 20 tubes of blood and a piece of her liver extracted from her body. I know that I have friends whose children have gone through much, much worse, but just as you can't make interpersonal comparisons of utility, I have only begun to realize that you also can't make interpersonal comparisons of anxiety. I am anxious. I want answers.
I have been quiet and I do trust. I am waiting and I am calm. I know that God has it all covered. I just want to know where our next step lies. St. Bede said it quite well!
Unfurl the sails, and let God steer us where He will.
- St. Bede