Friday, May 27, 2011

In my In-Box

In my e-mail in-box I recently received this pleasant email:

Congratulations - You Made the Crew!


So, while I feel like I've told everyone already, I thought I'd make sure. I was on the 2008-2009 crew, but didn't do very well. My dad had died in March, 2006, my step-dad in October, 2006, my uncle in May, 2007, my mom in June, 2007 -- and nevertheless I thought I could be a product reviewer for I had no idea how many products, WHILE homeschooling, WHILE settling three estates simultaneously, revamping a house to sell (my mom's), etc. And then, to top it off, with the physical labor I was doing emptying property, schlepping to auction or dump, moving furniture, etc., I tore two ligaments in my right shoulder that had to have surgery during my crew year, making me unable to type two-handed for six weeks.  Ugh!

So, I did a very poor job, never finishing many of my assigned reviews.  I really loved the opportunity, though, and hoped they would give me another. They required that I take two years off (2009-2010 year and 2010-2011 year), but now they're giving me another chance. I'm pleased as punch! So much has changed in my life now that I am hopeful I can do this well. So, thank you for reading my blog.

Thank you for subscribing to my blog, following my blog, even if you would consider telling others about my blog. I hope to make it fun, enjoyable, and educational for you to read. And you will always know that I am human, not some super-mom. Like those "Before" pictures I posted earlier... and the "After" pictures... They don't mean that every part of my house has arrived. They mean exactly what they say--that one place got fixed up in my home!

So, please, sign up to follow; tell your friends. I appreciate it a lot. Thanks.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

FREE GIVEAWAY! Friendly Chemistry!

Hey, everyone! I am so excited!

Friendly Chemistry is allowing my friend, Lori S. at Freely Educate to give away a free set of Friendly Chemistry to one of her readers! I want this so bad!

Head on over to her site and read up on what to do. Leave a comment about what frustrates you about teaching science, and be eligible to win a free Science program!

FlyMama Di

Saturday, May 21, 2011


I read an email today about scheduling, and suddenly felt a blog post coming on.

Scheduling. At times it is the only way to survive! It can be your servant, or you can become its slave.

The first form of "schedule" I ever used most people won't think of as a schedule. My first form of "schedule" was my daily lesson plan book. Yes, yes, it was a book. We may have owned a computer in 1991, but I don't think I was using it much, and I certainly wasn't using it for school. There was no internet. (Yes, that's right, there was none.) We could not have afforded ink, let alone paper. The paper in the printer was thin, connected, and fed through the printer on the strips of paper on the edges that had holes that went through teeth that pulled the continuous feed... ::sigh:: That was a rabbit trail. This is not a step down nostalgia lane; it is a blog about schedules...

Okay, I was so schedule-challenged when I started homeschooling that I wasn't even using a calendar. It was hard to make it to pediatrician appointments, dentist appointments, etc. because when I tried to use a calendar (write down an appointment), I wouldn't check the calendar daily, so it was pointless. I really had to grow up.

So my first schedule was my black book, probably the same ones used by the public school teacher's (not many publishers considered home schoolers a viable target market back then). So, I can't remember my first one (and don't want to dig it out), but it probably had the subjects down a column on the left, and the days of the week in a line across the top (or vice verse).

My first act of organization was to go through the entire book and put the date onto each day's row on each page. (I never had a calendar handy, and still didn't yet know "30 Days Has September" poem, so I made lots of mistakes, and don't start me on knowing which year is a leap year...)  The Daily Schedule now became my daily calendar. Everything went into it, starting of course with assignments, but I also noted here "La Leche League" meetings, any other type of activity.. It kept me on track. I can't remember now what type of activities we were doing, but there was a monthly home school support group in an evening, things like park days, roller skating days, spelling bees, free days at the zoo, etc. When I first started out, I missed out on a lot of opportunities just because I didn't note them or remember them. I had to learn to just do it.

I used one lesson planner or another for many years. First it was one I got from a friend. Then it was one I bought from a company in Pennsylvania that advertised a "jelly-proof cover" (Ferg N Us). Then it was a notebook from an umbrella group that provided daily lesson plan pages similar to the ones in the Gregg Harris Homeschool Organizer. But all these homeschool planning methods had one drawback: when my plans changed I had to white-out and write over. And when they changed again, I had to white-out and write over. And the ink wouldn't even stick to the white-out; and the white-out would crack and chip and peel.

Then I learned about Homeschool Tracker. It was free. I downloaded it, looked at it, liked it. There was a premium edition that at that time cost only $25, and I had $25 available, so I bought it. But, unfortunately, I just never got the hang of it. Didn't spend the time learning how. Don't understand how to bump assignments; would get triplicates of the same assignment. Don't know how to print out my lesson plans week at a view. ::sigh:: Missed my old paper version, but not the white-out.

I finally got brave. I used to be a secretary. I know how to use Word.  So, I finally created my own 36-week-lesson planner template, and I've been using it (and sharing it) ever since. Maybe some day I'll get brave and take the time to learn how to use my Homeschool Tracker, I don't know. But in the mean time, I love creating my planner on the computer. I consider it a living document; I update it constantly based on what we actually did or didn't do. I usually have a complete printed copy, fairly up-to-date, by the end of the school year to put in the portfolio, but I could also just put a floppy disk with the file on it into the portfolio and call it good.

Keeping my calendar on my lesson planner soon began to dovetail with a general wall calendar kept in a central spot in the kitchen. This way Dad could also know when we had been to the doctor, dentist, eye doctor, or gone on a field trip, etc., and we could know when he knew he would be working late, had a church meeting in the evening and needed dinner promptly, etc.

I love a calendar that I first learned of from FlyLady from a company called More Time Moms out of Canada.  FlyLady recommended these for awhile, but then went to a similar calendar that she makes herself that is also good, but I just don't like it quite as much. It is all purple lined; the other one is black-lined but with color illustrations and free stickers. (I would link the FlyLady calendar, but I don't see it on her website. They must be out until the new ones come in for 2011-2012 -- they are 18 month calendars, as are the More Time Moms calendars.)

When my oldest got to an advanced level of homeschooling, an opportunity opened up to participate in a co-op.  My daughters would attend classes in various homes, at approximately the same time, in different locations, multiple times per week. Various moms then developed schedules to carry kids of up to four families each, so that each mom would only have to drive once a week.

A schedule-savvy (that is s-a-v-v-y) homeschool mom clued me in to how to make a schedule on a word document, with one column for each of us. This became my lifeline, once I had created it. I learned to allow for things I had previously not allowed for, like the amount of time it takes to drive from my house to where I am going.  I just looked through my computer for those old schedules, but it looks like they are gone, gone, gone. Maybe on an old computer. If I come across them I'll try to post a sample.

So, through the process of learning to schedule, I purchased Managers of Their Homes by Terri Maxwell.  I worked my way through the book, did an effort to use that system, but still found my computer schedule to be much more friendly, although the book's ideas were helpful.

From daily schedule, I gradually progressed to realizing how desperately I needed, as well, to stay on top of our dinner schedule. To do this in a healthy way I really needed to learn to eat well on top of it. I found my answer in a year's subscription to Saving Dinner by Leanne Ely, combined with a membership to Weight Watcher's (which I desperately needed to the tune of 40-45 pounds, which I am still in the process of losing).  Now I am done with my year, have a full notebook of printouts of weekly soup ideas, weekly menu plan ideas (six days a week, but I manage to pull a 7th day together in my plan each week).

And just today I learned of another free tool on a website new to me, "Say Mmmm", that has a place to plot out your menu plan, create your shopping list from your menu plan, print both out -- I've been doing all this manually for a year! I'm so glad to have found them!

Well, I don't know why but Blogger is having trouble saving my draft at this point on this blog entry, so I guess I had better post it before I lose all my work. Ahh! I wasn't logged in! That explains it!  Well, anyway...

Hope you have found these ideas helpful!

FlyMama Di

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Fly Lady Day

First, I want to let you know that my "G" key is not working well. There is something under it making it so that even though I hit it, it doesn't appear. So in advance, I'm sorry for "typos" where it is not there. (Notice I am no words with that letter in sentence...)

Anyway, this is an illustrated primer of my FlyLady morning routine.  First, bathroom. got out of shower and noticed condition of room, so decided to do a "before" and "after" shot for my friends:

It's not that "P" word (perfect)... I didn't empty the trash or remove my son's books by the sink there, but it's nice, isn't it?

Next, I was wondering what you all do about cords. Do you have cords out the wazoo like I do? Cell phone cord, i-pod cord (for two different i-pods), cord for kindle, cord for blue tooth, whatever it is that you have. I also have a lifetime membership badge that I don't want to loose, and a cord that came out of a pair of pajamas that I need to thread back through, but in the meantime I don't want to lose.  So, what do you do?

Well, in case you need an idea, here's what I do. I keep my cords on my towel bar, and I hide them nicely under the towel.  Here's a before and after shot of that as well:

So, after that, by now I was "dressed to my shoes", and I looked at my bedroom.

So, actually there is a lot going on wrong in this room, but I'm mostly going to focus on the bed and ignore the overflow clutter beside the bed, on nightstands, and the fact that my hamper is overflowing and that I can't see my dresser for the stuff. So, now I will transform the bed and show how much nicer that makes the room look:

Very nice!

And last, but not least, what do you do when your college aged offspring has left for that last final exam of the semester, without giving said offspring's dog enough time outside before leaving, thus encouraging said dog to leave a present in the middle of your schoolroom/family room?

Well, you sigh, and you get a bag and pick it up, just like at the park, and you go flush it and then start your school day.

So, why did I blog about my FlyLady morning? Because I've been neglecting my blog lately, and I wanted to do an entry. Because my life is real, like yours is, and it's fun sometimes to read about someone else's life. Because doing it this way actually encouraged me to clean my bathroom, make my bed, and have a good attitude about the doggy droppings and "just do it!", as I like to say.

Have a real day!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cleaning Day

Dear bloggy friends!

Thank you so much for subscribing to my blog. In the long run, I hope to make it an enjoyable subscription for you.

But here I went and took the week end off -- which I might do most of the time. But then I made it a long week-end! Actually, I have a meeting in my family room with the person who heads my new umbrella group for oversight. I looked around at my family room, where I do my school, and when I paused to see my "school corner" through the eyes of a visitor.... well.... AAAAAHHHHH!!!!!

So, after dinner I stashed and dashed and crammed and decluttered, and it still needs work, but now my family room looks like this:
 and the school corner now looks like:

 Not perfect, but much better. The lump on the floor in the photo with the fireplace is a dog toy, and there is a coffee table in front of the fireplace with a jigsaw puzzle on it. There are still school papers for filing. It's real life, but not panic mode like the first photo.

So that's what I did after homeschooling today. No crafting. No blogging. Just cleaning, then made and ate dinner, and then more cleaning. ::sigh:: Past my bedtime. Off to bed.


Saturday, May 14, 2011

No Post Friday

Well, I started creating a post but never finished, so no post Friday. I had to mow the lawn after school, and was still not done at dinner so went back out to finish after dinner. Then a shower and a movie with hubby.  That post is saved for me to work more on later.

Saturday we have a major league baseball game to attend, free tickets thanks to all the popcorn my Boy Scout sold in the fall. The weather report predicts we will watch the ball game in the rain.  ::sigh::

Sunday our church has a community outreach followed by a picnic. Maybe. Weather still supposed to be rainy.

All that to say: Not sure when I will post the post I meant for today. It might not be published until Monday.

Hope you have a lovely, dry, sunny spring weekend... not like the one I am supposed to have.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Late post tonight...

I had intended to create a post about Narration, but the day slipped away from me, so I will have to do that post tomorrow.

Full day of homeschool, cleaned a bathroom, did two loads of laundry, and took a quick trip to the pediatrician to follow up on a nagging cough (bronchitis gone; just allergies). Home again, mowed some long lawn, then made a quick dinner, then off to Awana's. Home from Awana's, a little clean-up, down time, baths and bed, then a little sewing.


Working on six pairs of fleece booties for my favorite charity, Online Angels. These will go to keep newborn toesies warm!

Will try to post on Narration tomorrow.

Oh, a big welcome to all you new subscribers! If you like my blog, please tell others. I am trying to get to that magical 100 number of subscribers, and as I write this I have 8. I have a long way to go, but with a little help from my friends!...


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Free Lapbooks!

Ah... Yesterday Notebooking, and today Lapbooking...

Lapbooking is another fun way to work with your kids to study a subject in-depth and create an item that not only shows what they have been studying, what they have learned, but also is so much fun that they will go back to it again and again to look at it, show it to people, explain it, and thus review the material. In theory. This doesn't work with every child, my child being in the doesn't work category, but I myself still love lapbooks.

So first let me give you the link to today's great free resource, and then I will give you some links to read more about Lapbooking.

The online homeschool resource company, CurrClick, has a weekly newsletter they send out. Each week they give something away. This week they are giving away a butterfly lapbook (for grades K-4th) by Hands of a Child, which is one of the major lapbook creators. Hands of a Child, by the way, also gives away lapbooks -- a new free lapbook twice a year. Their free lap-book right now is called The Big Snow (grades K-2nd). So now you have TWO free lapbooks from Hands of a Child, and they are very nice lapbooks indeed!

But seeing that second free lapbook from Hands of a Child reminded me that there are other sources for free lapbooks available on the internet that you might now know about, so in addition to the links I will give you about lapbooking I will try to also provide some links for more free lapbooks.

Some more great free "how to" resources:
Lapbook Lessons
Homeschooling on a Shoestring
Lapbooking 101 on Bravehost
Jamin's Lapbooks

 Other great, but not free resources:
One of my favorite sources of information for how to lapbook is Cindy Rushton. She has lots to say about lapbooking in her pdf e-book called Let's Make a Lapbook.  It is like a "Lapbooking 101" course.

Well, there's so much more out there, but I need to go make dessert for a function tonight so I need to get off the computer. Maybe I'll add to this post later.



Monday, May 9, 2011

Notebooking and a Great Sale at

One of the methods of reinforcing what is being covered is if you decide to have your children use the learning method of "Notebooking".  Notebooking means creating a notebook for each subject or topic, and having the child fill out a page for different specific elements within that topic.

For example, my son and I spent several years expanding his knowledge of the birds that live in our area. So, we created a Bird Notebook (this can be a 3-ring binder, or it can be a composition notebook, a homemade book... whatever format you decide upon).  Each page in the book focused on a particular book. One page is the robin redbreast, with a color picture we printed out from a computer image from someone's website, etc. We didn't go into too much depth with this, because he was first grade, but you could go into depth. The page could include the geographic area this bird is found, what the bird eats, whether the bird migrates in winter, any predators, etc.

The Homeschooling Times has a great introduction to Notebooking, and Cindy Rushton's Notebooking ABC's is even better! Or you can do an internet search on the topic and see what you can find.  I have learned a lot about Notebooking from a blog I love called Harmony Art Mom.  Barb, the author, uses Charlotte Mason methods combined with Tapestry of Grace, and shows examples of how she has her sons use notebook pages to record and reinforce what they are learning.

Debra Reed, a homeschool mom out there has created her own small business with Notebooking. She creates templates for Notebooking for various subjects. Her business is  In addition to the fact that she has a lot free templates for various subjects, she has a membership page where you can access all her oodles and oodles of templates. The Notebooking Treasury is currently available at an amazing discount price! Please go take a  look and consider subscribing to her Notebooking Treasury page.

Here is a blurb from her email telling about the sale:

"We've teamed up with some of our old partners and have also added quite a few new ones too! They are offering fabulous gifts & prizes . . . I'm so excited to be able to bring these to you for our 5th Birthday Sale-a-Bration! You have got to go see what they're offering . . . amazing.

"All new members AND all renewing members will receive an e-gift package worth over $80 when purchasing between May 9th-May 27th. Check out the details:

I am a subscriber to the treasury, and I just love it. Thanks for considering!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

I just wanted to wish everyone a wonderful Mother's Day! Hope you have a wonderful day.


Friday, May 6, 2011

Listen to Audio Books for Free

Did you know that you can listen to audio books for free? I don't mean just from your library; I mean there are resources on the internet.

You can download or listen to free audio books online at,,,, and .

There is also a weekly online storytime at These are apparently picture book level, and are read showing the pictures, with music playing in the background. Very captivating for the little ones.  This month, the story is Charlie the Ranch Dog, read by the author and featuring the illustrations from the book.

Aren't these links amazing? My kudos go out to Molly Green (of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine) and her Econobusters blog  for her tip and her Freebie Friday entries each week (on Friday, of course). I love her blog!