"From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised." Psalm 113:3

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Thankful on Thursday...on Saturday


It's been a busy, crazy week (like all weeks tend to be), and I've forgotten to take the time to list my blessings.  So, this week, I'm thankful for...

...healthy children who are able to run, laugh, and play soccer (every night of the week)

...sweet, special friends for my children, who love them and love God

...rainy weather that gives us an unexpected Saturday morning at home together

...Friday night pizza and movie nights with my girlies

...a full night's sleep with no crying puppy


What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Student Logbook...A TOS Crew Review...


I have posted in the past about planners that I have found very useful in organizing my homeschool day.  Today, I want to tell you about a product that we've been using in an attempt to help my Firefly (6th grade) organize HER homeschool day...My Student Logbook.

My Student Logbook offers a variety of planner choices for students, second grade and up.  For our family, we received the logbook with the Rainforest cover and dated pages ($15.00).

My Student Logbook Review\
What Is My Student Logbook?

My Student Logbook is an 8.5 x 11 inch spiral-bound notebook.  It has plastic protective covers on the front and back, and the cover comes in one of several different designs.  The first few pages of the logbook help to introduce and explain how to use the logbook and how to set it up, as well as a brief introduction on keeping and creating high school transcripts.  After that, in our dated version (there is also an undated version), there are pages for dates 7/28/14 through 8/2/15.

The Logbook also contains pages for the student to record "All About Me", "Prayers and Goals", "Bible Verses Memorized", "Books Read", "Events, Projects, Field Trips, Presentations, and Activities", "Test Records", and "Year Highlights".

An interesting thing about My Student Logbook is its setup.  I will admit to being thoroughly confused initially, just from reading the directions.  However, there is a handy-dandy little video that worked beautifully for me in figuring out exactly what I was doing.  I am ashamed to admit that the video was a must-have for me!

How Did We Use My Student Logbook?

After struggling a bit with the setup, I quickly sat down to list my daughter's subjects along the left-hand side of the page.  


There was plenty of room for me to list all of our subjects--even the ones we only did once or twice a week.  And there are several subject sheets, so while I didn't need to change mine at all, they can be changed out in order to make a more accurate picture of what subjects you are working on.

Each morning, before we started school, I would highlight the subjects that needed to be completed that day.  As Firefly completed the subject, she would check it off, cross it out (if we didn't get to it), or keep track of the time it took her.


**A side note about the time here.  As soon as we got My Student Logbook, Firefly decided she wanted to make herself a schedule.  I, of course, being the Type-A, obsessive Momma that I am, thought that this was a wonderful idea!  Firefly's first step in this was to determine exactly how long she was working in each subject.  Hence, we timed everything.  Obsessively.  For four weeks.

Ugh.

BUT--today we have followed a schedule for the very first time all year--which was possible and realistic to set up due to knowing "about" how long each subject will take.**

What Did I Think of My Student Logbook?

Again, I am an organizer at heart.  I typically love all things planning!  So I absolutely loved the concept of My Student Logbook, especially as one of my goals for Firefly this year is to become more independent in her schoolwork.  This definitely seemed to help.  I noticed that although I still (after four weeks) had to go through every day and highlight what would be worked on, Firefly could take some ownership and quickly look at her logbook to see what still needed to be completed.

Now, because my Firefly has some special needs, we work hard on checklists and organization at our home.  So, although the logbook could tell her that she still needed to work on History, for example, she still needed to check her more detailed list to tell her exactly what she needed to do that day for History.  I wasn't able to get that detailed with My Student Logbook.

Overall, though, it was a great tool to help her feel more confident and more independent in her school day.  To me, that's worth a small bit of leg work on my end.  I definitely think that most kids could be more independent in keeping their logbook than Firefly was.

What Did Firefly Think of My Student Logbook?

"It was very handy.  I thought that it was very helpful when we tried to do my schedule.  I liked it.  It helped me feel more organized.  I want to keep using it."  (Firefly, age 11)

Find Out More About My Student Logbook:

Find My Student Logbook on Facebook


Take a peek at what my Crewmates thought as well:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, September 15, 2014

The 7 Minute Life...A TOS Crew Review...


I am a planner junkie.  I mean it.  I seriously think I have a problem.  My Type-A personality makes me go a little crazy when I get my hands on a new, blank, free to be filled up and crossed out planner.

So imagine my excitement when I was asked to review The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner ($24.95), made by The 7 Minute Life!  The 7 Minute Life is all about time management, organization, and increasing productivity, and their daily planner is a main tool to help moms with these skills.

Sound like anything you homeschool Mommas could use?

Yeah, me neither.

*wink*

Let me tell you a little bit about The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner, and how it's different from other planners I've seen and used.

First of all, The 7 Minute Life is a whole strategy.  If you spend some time on the website, you will find videos that cover a large amount of information about time management, goal setting, and habit training, as well as step-by-step videos that lead you through how to use the planner.  Although I found the planner to be relatively user-friendly and open-and-go, the videos that explain the how and the why behind the system were really helpful.  I would definitely recommend spending some time looking through them.

However, there is a good deal of information in the planner itself.  The first several pages serve as an introduction, explaining how The 7 Minute Life's strategy of Prioritize, Organize, and Simplify can be applied and used in your own life.  Each section of the planner is then explained in detail.

The next section of the planner is titled "Prioritize".  In this section, we are encouraged to take time to think about and select which values are most important in our lives, through a checklist.  After completing the checklist, we are then asked to choose the ten most important values checked off, on the way to completing the next section, "Discovering Your Purpose".  Here is where we write our purpose statement, define what we love, and find our "purpose words".

Some other features of the planner include sections to help us define our strengths, our work priorities, our "high value activities", and our reward choices.  There is a section to write down our mental clutter in order to clear our minds.  We are then encouraged to set 90-day goals, using a goal-setting plan shown in the videos and explained in the introduction to the planner.  Personal, work, financial, and life goals are included, with action steps ready to be listed and the outcome identified.  

There are several pages where unfinished tasks can be listed, again in order to clear up some "brain space", a list of home repairs that need to be done, a standard grocery list, and a list of Personal and Business Life Connections.  Many other features of a planner are included, such as monthly and yearly calendar pages.

Phew.  That's all before the planner gets put into daily action!

7 Minute Life Daily Planner Review

Once we have an idea about our priorities, our goals, and the things that need to be completed, we can move on to our everyday planner use.  Each day contains a two-page spread.  The sections on those pages are:  Daily Contacts, 5 Before 11, "7 Minute Life Connections", Unfinished Tasks, What I Spent, Appointments, Thank You Notes, and Voice Mail, as well as some room for note taking, a section for meal planning, and a spot to check off things like exercise, reflection, and drinking water.  The pages aren't dated at all, but are set up for us to date ourselves.

How Did I Use the 7 Minute Life Daily Planner?

Initially, I used it just exactly like it was intended.  I watched the videos, read through the introduction of the planner, and worked through my priorities, purpose, and goals.  And although I will admit to thinking that the process was going to be a bit cheesy, I really enjoyed it and learned a good deal about myself by spending time working through it.  Having my priorities and purpose so clearly listed out helped me to define what was most important for me to do on a daily basis.  It also made it easier to make decisions about taking additional tasks on.

My daily use of the planner, though, was probably not exactly what was intended, and I think that is because I am not working outside of the home.  There were some sections that were not ones that I needed to keep track of, so I simply relabeled them to fit my life.  One of these was the Daily Contacts section.  Instead of keeping track of how many new people, or leads, I was talking to, I used this section to write in prayer requests.  This way I found that I was keeping people close to my heart throughout the day, and could pray for them regularly.  

Another section I changed up a bit was the Voice Mail section.  Instead, I used this to list people I needed to talk to--friends I hadn't spent time with lately, or those I needed to catch up with.  I tried to list one to two people a day to try to reach out to.

The rest of the page was utilized pretty much like it was set up.  First I would list out my appointments for the day (there are lines for each hour of the day from 7 am until 10 pm.  I think it would be helpful if they ran the lines in half-hour increments, but I made it work anyway.)  After that, I would pick my 5 Before 11, the five most important tasks of the day.

Did I always get them done by 11?  Umm, no.  We are homeschoolers, after all, and we are homeschoolers that tend to want to do most of our school in the morning.  But, this section was very helpful in guiding my afternoon Quiet Time, when I do the bulk of my "Mommy work".  Having five main goals listed helped me keep my focus and streamline that time.

The Unfinished Tasks section was where I jotted down all of the things that came up during the day that I knew would have to get on a list somewhere for another day, and the Thank You Notes section was one that I was thrilled to implement.  Here I would make sure to list a person or two that I appreciated, and that I needed to make sure to let them know that day how much I appreciated them.  Or, I would use that section to list an action we would perform that day to be a blessing to someone else:  write to our Compassion child, donate to the Food Pantry, etc.

What Did I Think of the 7 Minute Life Daily Planner?

I really, really liked this planner.  It was so very helpful in my life to take the time to sit down, breathe, and figure out what my actual priorities and purpose are.  Going back to look at them regularly has just really helped me to stay focused on the big picture.

Daily, I am always using the planner.  It is small enough to fit comfortably in my purse, and the spiral-bound pages are book-ended by a thick plastic page to protect the planner.  That plastic page has a tendency to "roll" a bit, but it wasn't too bad to deal with.  Having a small list of the most important priorities for the day, a place to keep track of meals, a list of appointments, and a reminder of friends who need prayer helps to keep my day on track and keep "first things first".

The planner is set up for 90 days of use, and then a new planner needs to be purchased.  I think that re-evaluating goals and plans every ninety days would be a good habit to get into.  However, I don't know that I would be able to justify replacing the planner that often.  It would be nice if it could work through two ninety-day cycles.  That being said, though, I will definitely continue to use it until I've used it up this time around!

Find Out More About The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner:

The 7 Minute Life offers several free time management tools on their website, along with the videos I talked about earlier.

The 7 Minute Life on Facebook




Also, make sure to read what my Crewmates thought about their time using the planner:

Click to read Crew Reviews

Crew Disclaimer

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Thankful on Thursday...


Today I am thankful for:

--Community Bible Study, which started again today

--Good friends who know to bring chocolate cookies exactly when you need them

--Freedom to choose

--Sweet puppy kisses

--Cool breezes during a long, long summer!

--God's grace

--Comfortable beds

--Perspective

What are you thankful for today?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Five on Friday...Our First Weeks of School...

So we are just finishing up our third "official" week of school, and I have quickly realized that I can't keep up with a "what did we do this week" kind of post every week.  Every three, though?  

I should be able to handle that!

Here's a little peek of what our first three weeks of school have looked like:


1.  Lots of Puppy Lovin'.  We are truly enjoying our new little Mykah!  Although she is quite a large distraction for her size, she is a distraction that we are all thrilled to have!  And I have so many eager "helpers" when it is time to take her out to potty, since it gives them a break from book work!



2.  Attempting a Roman Arch.  Our first official project of the school year came from Heart of Dakota's Resurrection to Reformation, and it was our first foray into Firefly attempting the projects independently.

Yeah.

Fail.

Oops.  Maybe the next one will be either: 1. a bit simpler or 2. better supervised by the teacher, haha!

3.  Space Unit Study.  This is Bug's first unit study of the year, and we are both learning a ton and having a lot of fun with it so far.  We are working through it kind of half speed right now (like much of our schooling so far), but we have already discovered about a million rabbit trails that Bug wants to run down.



4.  Working on working independently.  This one's a biggie, but it is one of the most important goals I have for Firefly this year.  As she gets older and has more work (and as her brother gets older and has slightly more demanding work), I am getting to the point where I simply can't sit right with her and read her every direction for every task all. day. long.

Really.  I just don't think I can handle it.

So we are slowly easing her into a routine of being more independent.  Like any transition with Firefly, I expect it to be fairly rough, with gnashing of teeth, pulling out of hair, and lots of tears.

But with God's grace (and ONLY God's grace), we will make it through.

Wish us luck...


5.  Enjoying the weather.  Ha.  Today had a heat index of 111. 

Gross.

Really gross.

So we're spending lots of time inside getting on each other's nerves, or we are at the pool.

Is it cooling down yet for any of you?

Thanks for checking in on us.  I hope you all are having a smooth transition back to school, or enjoying the last days of your summer vacation!

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