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Photo by Oskar Henriksson

I’ve been in a mud bath of apathy. It’s not a lack of motivation. I’m motivated to do a lot of things. The problem is, I can’t seem to get going on anything. I have lots of unfinished tasks. To get moving, here are several techniques that I use with varying degrees of success.

Make a List and Work It


When I can’t decide what to work on, I often dump all of my ideas onto a list. Sometimes I prioritize, sometimes I don’t. Writing things on a list makes them demand attention. Plus, you have the added bonus of being able to cross items off when you finish them. That in itself is a reward!

Move Yourself


Sometimes getting moving helps a person to get moving. For instance, before tackling my list, I would like to try to begin pushups training. Hopefully, this will stimulate my body to produce adrenaline, which will help me move forward. At least I’ll be more awake.

Be Accountable


Telling someone else that you are going to complete a project can help. This works better if they ask you about your progress on the project. When they ask, be honest about how things are going on the project. If you hit a stumbling block, say so. Perhaps they can help you over it.

Create Mini Goals


Instead of making it a goal to clean the bathroom, break it up into smaller tasks: clear the counter, clean the mirror, wipe the counter, sweep the floor, swish the toilet and scrub the tub. Give yourself credit for doing any of these steps. The result will please you.

What do you do to get out of the mud? Put on your boots and get moving!

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Photo by Jeramey Jannene

One of the myths that many new homeschooling families fall prey to is that you have to spend money to educate your children. When you are just starting out, I suggest that you hide your credit cards. One wise mom advised new homeschoolers to leave their wallets in the car when visiting curriculum fairs. If a purchase is not worth the trip back out to the car, it is probably unnecessary. For elementary students, there is not much you need beyond a library card, some paper and pencils. If you have a computer and a printer, you have a fully functioning school. Everything else is extra or can be found around the house or cheaply at thrift stores or dollar stores. Let me show you how.

The Library


Guess what? I never taught my children how to read. Instead, we read and read and read. By the time they were five years old, they all instinctively knew how to read, having been read to since birth. Have you considered using real books in your homeschooling? Textbooks are often dry and boring to read. Living books, on the other hand, are full of inspiration and are fascinating to young minds. My kids learned more about frontier life from Laura Ingalls Wilder than from any history text. We read stories, picture books, books about frogs, books on the civil war, biographies, myths – the variety is endless. Our elementary science program has largely consisted of library finds. Books we can’t buy, we check out. This has saved us lots of money and lots of shelf space. When we find a book that we check out again and again, we know that it’s worth spending a bit to own. Then we scour used book dealers before heading to Amazon.

Find out all you can about your local library. Make friends with all of the librarians. Know your checkout limit. We are lucky enough to have a wonderful library system. Our checkout limit (sometimes unknown by the newer librarians) is 999. This is probably unusual, but even if your library limits you to 5 books, you can choose books for 5 subjects. Many libraries now have online renewal capabilities, so fines are more easily avoided. I also suggest that you designate a shelf, box or bag to keep your library materials safe and accounted for.

The Printer is Your Friend


Do yourself a favor and invest in a good printer. This does not mean that you must rush to your local big box store and buy the latest printer with all the bells and whistles. I just bought a lovely Dell laser printer for well under $100. A laser printer is nice because you may be printing a lot. Lasers have the advantage of being faster and the toner lasts longer, too, despite being more expensive. I’ve gone through several printers, mostly used and free, and the laser was the best by far. We get many public books online and print out copies for everyone. You can take them to your local copy store to get it spiral bound, or invest in your own binding machine from the office supply store. I would not be able to homeschool if I had to purchase all my books.

I use my printer in many other ways. I make labels for time lines, print out paper dolls to use for story narrations, create assignment sheets and handwriting paper, and print out maps for the kids to color. The possibilities are endless.

The Computer/Internet


If you have a computer with internet access, the world is literally at your fingertips. There are art museums, music libraries, and readings on every topic imaginable. Some curriculum, such as the Ambleside Online Curriculum, are available for free online. With a computer, you have access to homeschooling tools, such as planners, assignment sheets, maps, and handwriting resources. Even without internet access, you can create presentations, charts, and other materials.

Don’t forget about open source software, such as OpenOffice, which are free to download and use. The full version includes a writing program, a spreadsheet program, presentation software, a drawing program, a database program and formula software. I now use OpenOffice instead of it’s Microsoft counterparts and am a very happy camper.

When it comes time to plan your year, don’t automatically think that you must grab your credit card or checkbook. See if you can find it free first!

Do you have any money-saving ideas for homeschooling ? Let me know in the comments section.

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A couple of weeks ago the cedar count began edging upwards. Then there were itchy eyes, sniffles and sneezes showing up in everyone. At first, we just claimed it was allergies. After all, the weather man said we had the highest cedar count since 2004. But when T said he couldn't remember not feeling stuffy and R started refusing meals, I had to admit that we had a virus making its way through the family. These secondary infections always get us. Before the evening was over, all three boys were complaining.

This morning, I finally caved and decided I needed to take a decongestant. The decongestant ended up making me really sick. I curled up while my dear husband took T to school ( he's not feeling sick enough to stay home, just a stuffy nose), and we let the younger two sleep. School at home is hereby canceled while I wait this out. When the kids are feeling better, we'll resume.

In the meantime, enjoy these links on Homeschooling And Illness:


I’ll Be Back

I’m going to post soon…I promise. In the meantime, please enjoy this article over at Lorem Ipsum

Our TV died today at exactly 4:30 PM today. Yes, just minutes into the 2 hour Super Bowl pre-game show. My husband had informed us all that he might want to watch, so we could adjust our activities accordingly.

It was a slow death, starting several months ago. As we were watching one day, the screen suddenly went blank. No picture, no sound, no power. We finally figured out that it was probably short-circuiting and overheating, then turning itself off. A good thing, as that may have prevented its going up into flames. We soon discovered that with a sound smack on one side, the picture and sound would return.  After smacking the TV, the menu of settings would appear on the screen. A push of the correct button cleared this from the screen. Even R, who was only 3 1/2 at the time, mastered the smack and button push technique. This continued for months, occurring more and more frequently until it happened several times an hour, interrupting countless movies and shows. The family all took it in stride. T, especially took the initiative of jumping up to quickly fix the TV before we lost the plot of whatever we were watching. Tonight, It refused to be revived.

I’m not a real football fan. I didn’t even know which teams were playing. Personally, I was looking forward to the commercials. Nevertheless, there was some mourning. My sweetie offered to run out quickly to a pawn shop and pick one up. I convinced him that, as much as I’ll miss it (I’ll have to teach Latin myself) we can wait until the next TV moves in, whenever that will be.

So instead of vegging out, here’s what we did:

  • Went outside and tossed the football around
  • Made no-TV chocolate pudding
  • Listened to The Point
  • Listened to the first side of the Star Wars soundtrack.

I frequent a number of blogs, mostly in the categories of homeschooling, autism, housekeeping/organization, life hacks, and personal finance. Occasionally, a post crosses from area of interest to another.  One blog I read regularly is The Simple Dollar. On it, Trent recently wrote a very good article on cultural literacy.

Wikipedia defines Cultural Literacy as

"… the ability to converse fluently in the idioms, allusions and informal content which creates and constitutes a dominant culture. From being familiar with street signs to knowing historical reference to understanding the most recent slang, literacy demands interaction with the culture and reflection of it. A knowledge of a canonical set of literature is not valuable when engaging with others in a society if the knowledge stops at the end of the text – as life is interwoven with art, expression, history and experience, cultural literacy requires the broad range of trivia and the use of that trivia in the creation of a communal language and a collective knowledge. Cultural literacy stresses the knowledge of those pieces of information which content creators will assume the audience already possesses."

This is an invaluable life skill that we as homeschoolers must not neglect. In many ways, we, as homeschool educators have more chances to teach Cultural Literacy than do public educators, who have to keep their numbers, meaning test scores, up. We have all day, every day to point out items that are worthy of being known to our children, as well as modeling the skill by engaging in a little research ourselves. Check out Trent’s blog and this post in particular.

Happy Reading!

 I am one of those people who routinely check out several bags of books from the library at a time. Early on, I found out what the check out limit was at our library. I was astounded to find out that it is 999. Most of the librarians don’t even know this factoid. Though I don’t check out that many, I often come home with around 50. Three kids, each of which needs books for school, books for pleasure, and a couple of different reading levels (independent, to read with Mama, and challenging).

My rule for buying is that if I check a book out 3 or more times, it goes on my buy list. When I have spare money, I go to that list to decide what to buy. For school books, I do check out many, but I buy an equal amount. I only go to Amazon if I can’t find a used copy elsewhere. I’m a big fan of Half Price Books. If it weren’t for the library, our homeschooling endeavor would come to a screeching halt.

Thanks to Audrey from A Small Corner of Nowhere for the impetus for writing this post.

Just a quick link to an interesting article in the New York Times. This takes a load off of teachers and parents, who believe that there are some things a child will grow out of. I don’t want to say that there aren’t developmental disorders that are there for life, just that it may pay to be patient. Charlotte Mason was right on when she advocated lots of outdoor time for kids in the early elementary years.

Bad Behavior Does Not Doom Pupils, Studies Say 


I just visited the Shakespearean Insulter. Here’s what it said about ME!

“Thou dissembling knotty-pated ratsbane!”

Am I that bad?
Have Fun!

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