Monday, February 21, 2011

When you move to crazy town....

WHAT have we been up to?

This last few months the Bear family moved to crazy town. No packing of boxes, thank goodness, just a slight shift in our mental balance. It started with the weather forgetting that we live in a cool-temperate climate and doing an impression of a tropical summer. Complete with some local flooding.

The biggest lasting effect of all this rain has been our inability to get laundry dry! Yes, I know that isn't much compared to those who had their homes flooded, but I think any mother of many little ones knows that the laundry monster, once awakened, is very hard to put back to bed! We have a drier, but the humidity and the size of our house has meant that we have used it sparingly. So with toilet training, wet beds, camping trips and life in general we are drowning in an avalanche of washing!

Yes, that is enough to send a Mama Bear slightly potty.... but it doesn't stop there.

There was the completion of the boys room going from this

to this

which has meant the rearranging of almost every room in the house.

And there have been birthdays

And camping trips

and automotive projects in the driveway (just in case you're wondering, the thing in the blue tarp is the motor)

day trips to the mountains

And of course we have added a few regular commitments to our schedule that weren't there before because, you know, we have so much spare time on our hands. Plus a few of my own short term projects have all reached a deadline at once - funny how that happens! And our landscaping project in the front yard....let's just say I haven't been brave enough to photograph that one yet!

So the Bear Family, residing in crazy town at the moment.


Partially it has been out of our hands. We don't control the weather! Partially it has been completely our choice - if we don't make camping trips a priority they won't happen and we think they are important enough to put up with a little extra chaos. Also, it has been a choice to put up with short term chaos for long term gain. Having the children go from all sharing a room to having a girls room and a boys room has changed our lives for the better in SO many ways. Having that ute fixed and on the road will cut our fuel bills and be useful for Papa Bear to cart building materials, landscaping materials and lots of other materials.


Being that this is a homeschooling blog I am going to give a quick rundown on how I keep school ticking along during times of chaos.

1. I put my own oxygen mask on first. This is recommended to you every time you listen to the safety instructions before a plane takes off. Put your OWN oxygen mask on before helping anyone else, that way you won't be passed out on the floor with your child's oxygen mask only half on! Profound. Hard to apply at times. For me this looks like getting enough sleep, having an afternoon down time, eating well, drinking lots and taking my vitamins. If I do not do these things, I will be a burden to my family not a help during this time of chaos.

2. I plan by weeks rather than days. I have x amount that I expect we will get done in a week. We start on Sunday and work through until it is done or we hit Friday, which ever comes first! Usually, with no interruption, we are done except for a few cooking projects or read alouds by Wednesday and we get to focus on life learning for the rest of the week but if we have life stuff happen at the start of the week, we just shift our other work to the end of the week. At this point, we need the extra flexibility this allows and it works for me not to have to stress or re-plan if a day goes pear shaped.

3. I plan. Each week's work is planned with anything I need printed out and stuck in the appropriate manilla folder. The folders are numbered rather than dated so if it happens to take two weeks to get one week done, it is no biggie. But I never have to be sitting up scanning and printing the night before so Princess Doc has her school work in the morning. I wanted to have the whole year done, but I only have the first 12 weeks complete at this stage but I am just plodding along getting the rest done. So long as I stay a few weeks ahead of where we are I am happy. I got this idea from Kendra at Preschoolers and Peace and I have to say, I love the way it frees up my days.

4. I use some grab and go resources. I am in love with resources like Math-U-See, Song School Latin, Downunder Literature copywork, First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind and Simply Charlotte Mason's Spelling Wisdom. These are all resources that I do not have to fiddle with which makes planning SO much easier. For the most part, my independent worker can work independently with these too! Other than our ten to fifteen minutes of couch time I rarely give my undivided attention to Princess Doc's schooling. I may go over a concept with her as I peg out the washing or check some of her work while I feed Laughing Boy but it is rare for her to need me to stop what I am doing. I believe this is an important part of her being a self motivated learner and I also believe this is important with the current level of chaos in our home! It WORKS for us, and that is what I want in a curriculum. I do not want to work for a curriculum! Also, it means on her really motivated days, Princess Doc is finished all her book work before I am out of bed - she's our morning lark in a house of night owls.

5. I go with it. If it weren't for some major commitments toward the end of the year which will require some non-school weeks I would probably declare a fortnight's holidays and defeat that laundry monster and go crazy on the mess. But there are some inflexibilities in our life and we have to realise that. So each day I try and wash, dry and put away more washing than we make. Each day I try and make the house a little tidier than when I got up that morning. Each day I try and find time to laugh and love with my kids. Because I am the author of this crazy life and much of the crazy is of my own making. Plus, Crazy Town, it comes with benefits.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Book Review: Out Live Your Life

Why did I choose to review this book?

I have enjoyed some of Max Lucado's books previously and wanted to see if this one matched up. The title intrigued me.

What did I like about this book?
Max's books often follow a formula. Each chapter starts with an inspiring or convicting story, then comes a bit of Bible work or a little bit of "How do we apply this to our life?" type talk and then a big finish with a quote or push on to the next chapter. This was no exception to this formula. BUT, he makes this formula work. It reads like a series of darn good sermons on the topic of social justice. Some of Lucado's previous titles were enjoyable to read but a bit "fluffy" for me. They dealt very much in the realm of the emotional, not my personal happy place. This book was nitty gritty. It had the courage to take on the tricky topic social justice and wrestle it. While not pretending to have all the answers, this book did have the courage to confront some of the harder aspects of living out the Biblical call for Christians to be champions of social justice. I found the ideas and concepts this book puts forward to be challenging and practical without being guilt inducing and hopeless. I appreciated the continual returning to the Bible for inspiration and the openness within the suggestions that left room for the season of life of the reader. Let's face it, at this stage of life much of my time and energy is already double booked and many books that deal with this particular topic are designed to guilt anyone who doesn't have a spare 4-8 hours a day/grand per week to put toward service outside the home. I always appreciate a book that is practical and open ended.

What don't I like about this book?

It was fairly hard to pick any holes in this one. I know of some people who felt overwhelmed by the suggestions within the book, but I did not. I think if I were a person who felt that I MUST implement every good thing that I read in order to be a "good Christian", I may well have felt overwhelmed. But I think if you take it in context and relate it to the season of your life, it is a good read that continually brings one back to THE Book, which is really what you want in a Christian work.

Overall, I would recommend this as an excellent read. Enjoyable, accessable, enough "meat" to it to satisfy me and enough inspiration to spur me on to bigger and better things in my own life.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the 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.”