Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Joy of Weekly Lesson Plans

Yes, I am one of those homeschool moms that simply love writing the weekly lesson plans. Maybe that is why I went to graduate school for curriculum and design - to write really good lesson plans! :-)

Now, seriously I do enjoy writing my weekly lesson plans for our children. This year the kids are completing 8th grad, 10th grade and 12th grade(dual-enrolled at the local community college.) So each Sunday evening I sit and move lesson plans, created last June, into my weekly list. I look at our outside commitments and place the appropriate lessons into each day and subject for the week. The kids each have their own report, listing by subject, what needs to be accomplished each day.

In the past I have used notebook paper and pencil. (Always pencil, as there were always changes to be made.) I graduated to making plans in Word, including hyperlinks to needed online resources. Of course there were seasons where I printed forms or created my own and filled them in by hand each week. Then I finally found my tool of choice: Homeschool Tracker.

I create a list of lessons for each book/activity in a subject area during the summer months. Then as each week arrives I move the needed lessons - typically five - into the assignment grid for the week for each student. I then print my report and we are good to go!

I'll spend more time on lesson planning in the coming weeks. But if you are eager and want to know sooner than later, you can attend an upcoming workshop. My next workshop is February 6th at 10am at the Tampa Bay Homeschool Conference & Expo.

Check back later this week for a lesson plan update. Have a blessed week!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Finding Joy in my every day life.....

I find Joy in my every day. You know those things we do every day, not necessarily a routine of things - just life. I found Joy this morning in the way my daughter takes the funnies (comics) out of the section of the newspaper and then folds it back nice and neat. I found Joy in taking my 16 year old to his first day of Spring semester classes at the local community college this week, even though it does not feel like spring yet in Florida. I found Joy in watching my youngest laugh at the "rescue" kitty playing in our bathroom this morning. I am choosing to find Joy in the every day occurrences of life. Be present in your surroundings. Watch and cherish what is going on around you. Take Joy in having your children and hubby surround you.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Joy Found at My Front Door

Every other Tuesday evening I open my front door to this wonderful basket of fresh produce. Yes, you read that right, I get this wonderful basket from Lancaster Farm delivered right to my front door! I told Angela, the owner, it feels just like Christmas to get a basket of goodies right at my front door!

As you can see I have everything from pecans to grape tomatoes to fresh baked rolls and muffins. This basket is chocked full of yummy fruits and vegetables.

You can order your own delivered basket by joining the produce club. The Produce Club at Lancaster Farm offers a variety of basket choices and lots of things to add onto your order. If you do sign up tell Angela that I sent you!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Finding Joy in Routines

I was so glad to get back to our usual routine today. It was back to the usual breakfast together, the usual school time together, the usual lunch and dinner together. The usual errands and the usual outing tonight. There is Joy in the usual routine. I find Joy that we are a family for all our meals around the table with no television or other screens in sight. I find Joy in the family discussion during these meals. The usual routine is comforting to me.

I am often asked what I do to balance homeschooling, writing, owning a business and keeping home. I didn't always have a balance, and occassionally that blance tips to one side more than the other. I craved reading organization books when my children were younger. I thought there was some single answer to getting everything in order. There isn't! What works for some families won't work for other families. For my family it was establishing routines.

I set out to establish routines one at a time. When the kids were still very young I started with the very basic routines: we were up and dressed and fed by 9am. Then I added everyone was to be in bed by 8:30pm. Then we added expectations to that routines. We were each "expected" to pick up after ourselves. If you went to bed and left something out, then it went in the Saturday Box. This Saturday Box was emptied on the following Saturday. So if you couldn't pick up after yourself you lost your stuff. Sure, those were easy in the beginning.

Now that I have three teenagers, life looks a bit different, maybe even rigid to an outsider. Everyone must be up, showered and to the breakfast table by 8am. Some get up earlier and begin school lessons before breakfast, as he or she has the desire to be done with schoolwork prior to lunchtime. And, due to ages the kids have staggered bedtimes in the evening. We have specific rules about "screen times" too. We are trying to instill good habits in our children before they leave home.

We have routines for most everything in our home. Routines make life so much easier knowing everyhting can be done and we can head out for fun too! If you are trying to establish some routines are your house, remember not to try it all at once. Choose one thing and do it well. It takes 28 days to establish a new routine. Set your expectations on "realistic" mode not "idealistic" mode. You can find Joy in routines.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Joy of Serving

Today I spent the better part of my afternoon serving. Serving comes in many forms. Serving is something I like to do behind the scenes. I love serving in leadership, but I find Joy in serving my homeschool community. Today was a day of doing just that! I am currently working with (as a volunteer) Linda Oberg organzing the Tampa Bay Homeschool Conference & Expo. It is on February 6th, 2010 at the University Area Community Development Center. You can read all the up-to-date information on the Facebook page as well as the website above.

Finding Joy while serving others is one of those perks of serving. Sure doing laundry and getting dinner on the table is serving and sometimes a chore, but see it as a blessing that you can do this for your family. Serve with Joy!

As I said before, I enjoy serving my homeschool community. It wasn't so long ago that I had just completed my first book. I was travelling and speaking to numerous homeschool groups, conferences and book signings. It was a whirlwind of a year! But, I so enjoyed every moment of it! After that first few months of being gone more than being home, God spoke to me about serving my own homeschool community - the community where I live. I had served in leadership with the Pinellas Parent Educators Association for nearly six years. But God had another plan: moving us out of our beloved homeschool community to serve in another nearby area. God blessed me with the opportunity to serve once again in leadership with the South Hillsborough Christian Homeschoolers. Serving is an act of love. I don't know about you, but I find Joy in loving and being loved.

So think about finding a place of service, you will find Joy!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Finding Joy in Fellowship

Saturday night is our night for attending our weekly church service. We attend a church full of people who love God and each other! We find Joy in fellowship with like-minded people, the people of our church: Impact Church.

Worshipping with others in song and praise fills my cup. I can't imagine not belonging to a church. God calls us to worship and fellowship. My prayer today is that you find just that place of fellowship with believers that God has for you. If you live in my area and want to check out Impact Church, I'd be glad to have you sit with me!

Friday, January 1, 2010

How do I find Joy?

There have been several seasons in my life when this question, or rather the answer to this question eluded me. Being a stay-at-home mom with three children can be lonely sometimes. Being a full-time grad student while homeschooling and serving on the board of directors for a homeschool group can be stressful. Being anything at any point in our lives can be lonely, hectic, fast-paced, wonderful and joyous. We use these words to describe the place we are in right at the moment. Looking back over the last twenty years of marriage, I can see the different seasons that could be described as everything from lonely to joyous. The times that were the most joy-filled were times when my "cup" was being "filled". These times also reflect the times when I was strengthening my walk with God.

I have spent the past year really seeking what "fills my cup". For me, this is seeking what God seeks to fill my cup. I have some very good friends that have been instrumental in helping me find what fills my cup. This past year I was blessed with the opportunity to hear Linda Werner speak about finding our purpose. (She could have been speaking on an entirely different topic, but this is certainly what I went away with: Leading with my strengths.) There are numerous books about this subject, but I found Strengths Finder 2.0 to be the best "fit" for my learning style. Through this book, or rather the quiz included in it, I was able to finally put into words what strengths God has equipped me with. I can now begin to see a connection with my strengths and how they go hand-in-hand with what fills my cup.

I will always be forever grateful to my friend Mary for helping me understand, process and continue to learn about my strengths and what it means to have my "cup filled." Everyone should be blessed with a friend as gracious and kind as Mary.

Another day I will explain in more detail my strengths, but today I am thinking more about how I find Joy, how my "cup is filled". Sure there are times when our cup is filled with temporary things. There are the "life" cup fillers too. Looking back again over the past twenty years of marriage I am compelled to see that my cup seems most full when I have been creative. Creativity is different for everyone. I find my creativity used when I scrapbook or when I am creating lesson plans or writing. Some days I need finished "product" other days I need to feel accomplished by the number of words I write. Each day is different and there are days when my cup is not completely full, but full enough that I can find Joy.

As I walk through learning more about each of my strengths I am finding stumbling blocks along the way as well. My personality or character is that of serving. My love language is acts of service. I want to do things for those that I love. I love to cook for my family. I love the art of keeping house and home. What I have to be careful of is thinking that it is my job to fill another person's cup. I have wrestled with this thought for many, many weeks. Of course we can see a need in our husband, child or friend and do what we can to help, nurture and listen. In the same token, we can't expect someone to fill our cup. It is ultimately our job to turn to the Lord. He is our ultimate cup filler. My prayer is that you find Joy each and every day.