Thursday, March 29, 2012

3 in 30 - March Update - Week #4

This is the final week for the three March goals that I set for the 3 in 30 challenge.  This is the progress I made during the past week and my progress towards meeting the goals for the month:

1. Do "Shaking Off the Bonds of Stuff...for Lent." As with last week, there are some things that were easy to do, another that I had already done, a couple that I chose not to do, and one that I need to do at another time because it is too labor-intensive to do at this time.

For example, one day there was an activity that didn't take long to do:

Dispose of chipped and broken dishes. Go through your dishes and glasses. If you have complete sets, give away the pieces of incomplete sets. I have no complete sets of dishes, so there were no incomplete sets to give away.

Of the dishes that I have, there were 11 chipped plates, 8 chipped cups, and 2 chipped bowls. Getting rid of the chipped dishes also freed a lot of space in the cupboard so now everything fits in there and no clean dishes are left stacked on the counter.

Another activity I had already done prior to this week:

- Go through all the magazines in your house. Sort them into three piles based on use. The only magazine subscriptions I have are Taste of Home which is focused on cooking and recipes; and Family Fun. About a month ago I went through all the magazines I had by the side of my bed (well over a half dozen from November 2011-January 2012 - when my dad went on hospice care and then died).

Clipped the recipes to try and articles I wanted to reference (for homeschooling and activities to do with the girls) and put them in my recipe binder or filed them. It was such a good feeling to have not only these magazines recyled, but the recipes and ideas in the places where I could reference them.
There is another activity that I will do at a later time:

Throw out anything that has been in your freezer for more than six months. If you don't know how long it has been there, throw it away. This activity seemed rather wasteful. For example, the girls and I pick strawberries and blueberries each June and July respectively. We freeze the berries so we can use them throughout the year until the next harvest is ready (this saves a lot of money because fresh berries are so expensive during the off-season). The berries have never lasted 12 months, but certainly they do last more than six months. I can't justify throwing away perfectly good food just to say "I met this goal."

So, instead I modified this activity to dispose of any food that has been in the freezer for a year; food that I know I won't use, or food that has been damaged (e.g., freezer burned). I want to take my time doing this and not rush through it. In order to do that, I need to this activity at a future date.

A couple activities I chose not to do:
- Set aside one bag of plastic bags from the grocery store and recycle the rest.
- Set aside one bag of paper bags and recycle the rest.

I use the plastic bags for collecting trash in several small wastebaskets around the home. I also use them for cat litter.

The paper bags I use for recycling. Since I make three meals a day, there are a lot of items that can be recycled (e.g., food boxes, cans).

With the exception of a couple of labor-intensive activities that will be done at a later date and a few that are almost done, this goal was met!

2. Finish taxes; and determine a budget for homeschooling curricula and supplies for April. 

I worked on the taxes during the first week of March. Submitted them during the second week; and the CPA finished electronically submitted them during the third week.

Based on the net refund, I have a budget for the homeschool conference, curricula, and supplies. A good percentage of the refund will, unfortunately, pay for hotel lodging and conference fees. So, as I did for this school year, I plan to continue to use as many materials as I can that I already have on hand and limit what I need to purchase.

Keeping the budget in mind, I needed to look at the key parts to next year's curriculum where I wanted to invest money. So, I decided on these main elements:

- Math textbooks from Rod and Staff. I have used the math books from Rod and Staff since the girls were in Kindergarten. These are no-frills, one-color math books that focus on the basics and have quite a few story problems in them. The images in younger years focused on farming and nature (which was an interest for the girls); and the story problems generally relate to real life and situations that a person could encounter.

- Language arts curricula from Simply Charlotte Mason.  I have not used any curricula from Simply Charlotte Mason before, but have incorporated elements of Charlotte Mason's philosophy in this year's schedule (e.g., nature study, picture/artist study, poetry). There are a couple of resources that I want to try to see if the girls learn and enjoy using this method as it relates to language arts (e.g., Spelling Wisdom and English for the Thoughtful Child).

The instructor guides/schedule for Sonlight's history/geography/social studies program. However, we would use the free books available at the library instead of purchasing them. Although this is a bit more of a hassle (and certainly not as exciting as receiving a box full of new books), it is the reality of living on a limited income. 

- The entire science program from Sonlight. The girls can use the same level of science which is an advantage with Sonlight (and it saves money!). The topics this upcoming year include electricity, magnetism, astronomy, light, color, microscopes, inventions, chemistry, and modern technology. There are hands-on experiments and ways to learn; and the girls are always excited to do science lessons.

They have been asking to do Sonlight's science program all year long (I took a break from it this year to do several multi-week science units from In the Hands of a Child [I had these on hand and was trying to save money]. They didn't care for IHC or seemed as enthused about it like they have the Sonlight science program.) Needless to say, when I told them we were going back to Sonlight for science, they were thrilled!

The rest of the subjects I either have the curricula or resources already on hand; or can check them out of the library. Some of the subjects are taught by others (e.g., piano lessons, harp lessons).

The other subjects that the girls do as part of homeschooling are listed below. (Note: not all these subjects are covered each day. Some are only covered once or twice a week.)

- 4-H (variety of projects and activities)
- Art
- Current Events
- Geography Unit Study (multi-disciplinary unit study using Cantering the Country which I already have. This will be the second year of studying each state in the United States. In 2011-12 we focused on the New England, Great Lakes, and Midwestern states. In 2012-13, we will focus on the Mid-Atlantic, Southwest, and Rocky Mountain States.)
- Girl Scouts (may join as independent scouts this year; otherwise will just use the badge books for ideas for learning activities for different themes)
- Handicrafts
- Language Arts (Grammar, Latin - looking at root words, and Vocabulary)
- Literature
- Music (Choir, Composer Study, Instrument/performance [piano for both girls, harp for Sophia, and Olivia chooses a band or orchestra instrument])
- Nature Study
- Penmanship 
- Physical Education (still trying to determine what sport/activities they enjoy. They are going to try a couple new ones this summer - synchronized swimming and equestrian vaulting - to see if these might be activities of strong interest)
- Picture Study (Study about six artists and six pieces of art each one created)
- Poetry
- Theater
- Typing

As for writing out a daily schedule for the school year, I am going to wait until after the homeschool conference in April. At that point, I'll have all resources in hand and hopefully have some new ideas about the upcoming year that I can incorporate into the schedule.
This goal was met!

3. Trim trees before spring. I trimmed the lower branches of one of the apple trees in the backyard on Tuesday. My goal was to get rid of the branches that were growing upward rather than down or out.

Since this is the girls' climbing tree as well there were a couple of branches that were rather large size that were growing up. These, I was told by Olivia, should remain on the tree because they helped her get up into it.

There was one rather large branch that I began working on. If I had a good saw, it wouldn't have taken too long. But, I don't. So, this became more of a challenge than anticipated. It ended up taking all 3 of us to get that branch sawed off and then carefully pulled through the tree without damaging other branches and buds.

Sophia and Olivia pulling on the branch.
Alternately, I would saw the branch.
Eventually, it came off and I was able to pull it out from the tree.

Also took off some of the lower branches off the tree so they wouldn't be at face level when I mowed. (I did this also on another tree in the backyard that had branches at eye level.)

Two piles of branches trimmed from
two trees in the backyard.

Next February, I will have a tree trimmer come out and trim the higher branches of the apple tree as well as other ones.

I chose not to trim the double-grafted apple tree which blooms white on one half and pink on the other during the spring. In November 2010, the tree broke in half when there was an ice storm. Rather than get rid of the fallen part, the girls asked if it could be kept since they play on it (they use it like a beam to walk across or they sit on it and read).

Last spring and this spring, there are branches growing up from the part that fell. More out of curiosity than anything, I'm interested in seeing what happens to this tree if it stays as it is:
- Will it grow another central trunk or will it just grow lots of branches?
- If it just grows branches that grow upwards, will the trunk that is parallel to the ground be able to support those branches?
- Will any fruit be produced?

Sawing off a small branch from a tree in the forest area.

In the pasture, I trimmed branches that were eye level (of the girls, horses, and me) along the pathways in the little forest area.

Olivia with Bailey.
(Bailey is a Pony of the Americas.)

Although I went out to trim the trees alone, before long I was joined by Olivia, Bailey, and Hoss who were all interested in the changes being made to the area.

Hoss with Olivia.
(Hoss is a miniature horse.)

As a side note: Bailey and Hoss were adopted in 2008 from the Minnesota Hooved Animal Rescue Foundation. Both of them were from neglect situations and underweight. They were not use to being in pastures, so it was a very slow and gradual change from being in a confined area to being able to gallop in the pasture.

Bailey and Hoss also did not know one another prior to coming here. However, they are now inseparable. Right after adopting Bailey, we also found out that she is blind in her right eye and has vision issues in her left eye. Despite this, she and Hoss enjoy racing and playing in the pastures.
This goal was met!


Rachel said...

What beautiful ponies! :) Jealous, your family must have such fun with them (though I know they're a lot of work as well). Great work on your goals, I'm excited to see what you'll be tackling in April!

Dianna said...

Looks like you have done a great job on your goals. :)

Jeanine Byers Hoag said...

Sometimes I feel tired just reading your posts! Congratulations on all you have accomplished. I think I'd like to know more about your math textbooks. My son has had some difficulty with multiplication and division and I was just winging it, no textbook, except for one I got from Usborne. Might help to have some more structure.

Aurie{OurGoodLife} said...

Wow - great progress! I enjoyed reading what curriculum you chose, since I'm about to start that process :)

Sherri said...

That is great progress. I love the idea of using the girl guide badge books as ideas!!!

Anonymous said...

I did a similar decluttering, cleaning out kind of project this month. it feels great!!!

you are really on the ball getting your curricula all picked out already!