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Welcome to the sometimes random posts of Gina Reynolds. Use the labels at right to select your area of interest. Comment and let me know what you think. Scroll down on the right to follow this blog. Please feel free to check out my website as well at http://ginareynolds.org
God Bless...Gina

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Little Learners "sneak peak"

What has kept me busy and away from blogging this summer?  Launching a new LITERATURE BASED LANGUAGE ARTS curriculum for 5-8 years olds!  It has been quite an experience to say the least.  

We began this journey almost 10 years ago when Lexie was in 2nd grade.  It was out of frustration that I began writing a curriculum for Lex that would turn into Little Learners Language Arts.

So I won't bore you with the details of finding an editor, formatting pages, coding websites, figuring out non-exempt retail status, setting up shopping carts with tax codes, getting a DBA, figuring out pricing, shipping and many more details that seem to consume mountains of time when I'd rather be creating more guides for the series!

With out further ado, here are a few "samples" to hopefully get you excited about our new adventure!

Just some of the titles you'll find guides for with Little Learners!
A look at the new covers!
 And last but not least, a peek at a few pages! 

I know, it's not enough, but that is the point!  It's a "sneak peak" so stay tuned for more!  The new website will launch in just a matter of days, maybe even hours!  Feel free in the meantime to let me know your thoughts so far.  I'd love to hear what YOU think!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Progress on writing!

Many years ago God made it clear to me that I was to do this and all the pieces of the puzzle have not come together until now.  Free Colorful Puzzle Clip Art

It's been a strange day (good and bad) but I'm choosing right now to be excited about something that I've literally been working on for 9 years.  Yikes, when I count them up, that is A LONG time but it's true.  

I just sent two workbooks to an editor!  This has been a long time in coming and is one of the last steps before I can put them "out there" for others to benefit from.

It reminds me of a portion of a verse I actually had "stickered" to my wallet years ago.  God gave me this "message" after I had had a miscarriage and it gave me great peace that I would have those little "blessings" running around and I did, and do!

 Psalms 37:34: Don’t be impatient for the Lord to act! Keep traveling steadily along his pathway and in due season he will honor you with every blessing..." TLB
(by the way the "rest of it is" and you will see the wicked destroyed, which wasn't the part I felt God was emphasizing to me but still, it's there.)

Sometimes we just have to "keep traveling along" and that seems to be what's happening in this long situation too.

So thank you Lord for this bright spot in an otherwise depressing day.  Hopefully it will serve as an encouragement to others to keep plugging along on whatever God has laid on your heart.  

Sometimes, like today when we've received not so good news in other areas of our life, you have to force yourself back to work and look for something to be excited about.  This is it today.

I'll leave it at that and be a bit "cryptic" for now, but good things will be "coming soon"!

Monday, June 29, 2015

Planning in July

"Traditionally" I have taken the last two weeks of July and spent about an hour or two each day to lay out our next year.  For many, many years this was the only way I could ensure we could stay on track and I could hold all four kids accountable.  It kept all of us organized.   

Though I will readily admit I have strayed from this path the last two (maybe even three) years; we are going back to it for this fall.  Going from 4 students to 3, and then almost immediately from 3 to 2, scheduling and "keeping" track became much easier.  I didn't have as much "need" to be so organized.  Then came this spring.  Let me refer you to my last post titled Busy, Busy, Busy!

When we get extremely busy, and we anticipate that we will be, extensive planning just makes life easier and keeps us on track.  It makes us think and plan ahead so we can proactively address needs.

So while I plan to "plan" our next year I thought I'd share some of the tools I've found useful over the years.

1. Donna Young has a FABULOUS site with a plethora of tracking forms all done for you and FREE!  I've used many of her forms over the years.  Please don't feel like you need to use them all or even 25% of them, just take what you need.  She has TONS.

2. Don't feel like you need a form to track everything.  I subscribe to the KISS method (Keep It Simple Stupid.)  Use the Table of Contents to note grades if you like.  When I was busy with many students at home I didn't have time to correct, let alone log grades.  What I did was simply note the grade they got for each chapter test in the margin of the table of contents by that chapter.  If you have more then one activity or type of test you want to note just do that.  At the end of the year, if I was giving grades, all I had to do was look at all the table of contents pages before I filed their work away.  Even now that I do have more time with only 2 students I still use this method for many of the subjects.

3. Excel can be your greatest tool.  If you are familiar with Excel or another spreadsheet program don't be intimidated out of creating sheets for your own needs.  Each year I created a spreadsheet for each of my 4 tailored EXACTLY to them and our needs.  Once you figure out what you need and like you will use the same sheet year after year making occasional tweaks. 

One of our schedules from a few years back
4. Make a daily schedule and try to stick to it (at least most of the time.)  You will be amazed at what this one consistent habit will allow you to accomplish.  I recommend "scheduling" your various subjects into your days/times.  Don't forget to put in other "non" school things like chores, working out, devotions, music practice etc....  Post this schedule on your bulletin board, refrigerator and give each of your students who can read a copy for their binder or desk.  Here's a blank for you to start with.  (Here it is in publisher.)

5. I alluded to this above...have a written plan (week by week) for each student.  This helps you and your student see if they are on pace to finish when you want/need to. It gives them some accountability.  Here's the one I used from Donna Youngs site.  

6. A note...what if we really mess up and get way behind?  Won't it just depress me to see how behind we are?  To solve this problem I highly recommend "project" or "catch-up/get ahead" weeks.  You simply schedule in weeks (perhaps one per quarter) slated as "project" week.  This can become a "fun" educational project of the students choosing (as a "reward" for staying on task) or it becomes "catch up" to get back on track with no harm done to your scheduling.  

So as a final note, why end of July for my planning?  For me it gives me a good month to decompress from the school year and I'm generally pretty rested and tan by then (AKA, have spent enough time lounging by the pool that I'm ready to begin thinking about it.)  Also, we generally like to have a "last blast of summer" the end part of August before school starts and I want to have it done before then.  Something different might work for you but there you go, there is my reasoning.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Busy, busy, busy...

Amazon.com has some cute free music samplers for kids available right ...Do you remember that song, "Busy, busy, we're dreadfully busy.  You've no idea what I have to do!"  It was from Veggie Tales and takes me back a bit as my children have moved on, however, that could have been our anthem this spring. 

We have traveled more this spring than any other year ever.  It's all been good, but challenging.  We are in the home stretch, almost done with this "season", thankfully!  What have we been so busy with?  Two things have been primarily responsible for our heavy travel schedule; NCFCA and Total Language Plus.  Both activities are an incredible blessing to us, but both require a "busy" season and happen to collide into the same couple of months.  It gets crazy, but IT IS WORTH IT.
Ariel traveling and working TLP with me

Everyone goes through these times when things get a little "stretched".  For most of us it's probably not quite as taxing as the last few months have been for us, but I'm willing to bet that you can relate.  So what works and what doesn't?  Fortunately, we've been doing this for several years so we've learned a few things.  I will fully admit though, I am not perfect and I'm looking forward to lots of white space in my calendar for July and August where I can catch up on some things.

So best practices for busy times...

1. Plan ahead.  This is my salvation many times.  Huge area here for us is the meals.  I try to always have some things made ahead in the freezer and this is the time we use them.  For instance, we were away at convention last weekend at a hotel that had a microwave and refrigerator; I was able to pull a frozen pack of pulled pork from the freezer and take it with us for a meal in our room.  A few days before we left I also took 1/2 hour and made some homemade breakfast sandwiches with eggs and cheese and froze them.  They made terrific breakfasts in the room and saved us some money.

Even if you're not traveling, planning some foods ahead will help you out!

2. If you know a busy "season" is coming prepare the house as much as you can.  When you are in a busy season it's not the time to clean out the refrigerator or other major cleaning, do it before or wait till it's over.  Try to get the laundry and ironing caught up before if you can.  If your "season" extends like ours has try to keep it up.  In my 3-4 days home between travel I try to get the laundry done.  Ironing...well, as my husband will attest, I can't quite manage that though I did have it caught up before we started.  I'll need to have  a little, okay big, ironing party in a week or two once I'm home for the long haul again. 

3. Keep your priorities.  This means my little Bible comes with us and even when we are getting up at the crack of dawn (or before) to get to our Debate tournament on time I'm typically reading to the kids our "thought for the day".  Is it a large in depth study,? No, but it keeps the focus where it should be even in the busyness.  

4.  Let go of what you can.  Remember, it's only temporary.  For me, part of what I "let go" for a time is my blog.  It's not a necessity.  I enjoy it and think it helps others, but it is low on my priority list.  Family and home come first.  What can you let slide?

5. Try to give extra attention to relationships.  When I'm busy it is often easy for my family to feel neglected.  I try to get everything done on the days I am home before my husband gets home from work to be able to spend time with him.  Here's the part that is hard.  Quantity does matter.  A few years back there was a saying that was going around, "Quality over quantity."   I don't have statistics to share here, but it's largely been debunked.  Quantity does matter.  Personally, I can attest to that.  You can't do much if you're in a "busy" season but you can carve out large quantities of time as soon as you can to build into your relationships.  This goes for kids too.   And of course if you can, have your family travel with you or do your "busyness" with you, that helps too and we often try to do that.

So that will bring me to my next entry, the importance of quantity time together!  Stay tuned....

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Convention season is here!

Do you love going to homeschool conventions?  Never been?  Here's my short and sweet top 10 reasons to attend!  Seriously though, it will change your homeschool for the better, just go!  Scroll down for the ones I'll be at this year; stop by and say "hi".

10.  Where else can you find such  a plethora of ROLLING CARTS?

9. Homeschool extra stuff, T-shirts, key chains, mugs etc...  You don't see this at Wal-mart!

8. You can sit down before a workshop and strike up a conversation with the stranger next to you and realize you have almost everything in common!

7. You get to see close up what's out there that you didn't know existed in the curriculum realm.

6. Your kids finding other kids, just like them!

5. Do you love to page through new books?  

4. You can find comfort and counsel with others about your book addiction.

3. Where else will your family of 4+ seem normal, or even small?

2. No where else will you find this collection of amazing speakers.

1. This is THE place for encouragement, inspiration and information for your homeschool journey!

Here's where I'll be this spring.  Stop by and say "hi" if you are attending any of these events.

March 21st      Farmington Hills, MI (Homeschoolworks)

March 27th+38     Indianapolis, IN (IAHE)

April 9-11th    Cincinnati, OH (Midwest)

May 15th +16th Lansing, MI (INCH)

May 16th Fort Wayne, IN (my kids will be at this one)

May 28th-30th Sandusky, OH (TTD)

June 4-6th Naperville, IL (ICHE)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Overcoming Overload Book Review

I'm not sure I've ever publicly confessed this, but I consume books!  Typically, I try not to buy a lot of books because it just is not worth the price per hour for me (not to mention the fact that I REFUSE to buy another bookcase!)  I'm an avid fan of the library.  When I do see a bargain on a book though, I will pick it up as I've always got some "snatches" of time to read.

Overcoming Overload by Steve and Mary Farrar just happened to be one of those books I took a chance on and just got to finish (due to subbing Friday and having an unexpected planning hour!)  I have to say I was not initially "wowed", but as I read on I did find some nuggets I hadn't heard before. 

The book covers much of the typical "time management", "busy life" type stuff I've read in many books and actually occasionally speak on myself, but it had some added insight that intrigued me.  They talk about King Josiah (one of my favorite stories!), William Tyndale, Edward VI and Samuel and Abigail Adams.  I love it when authors use historical examples!  What can I say, I am a homeschool mom at heart.  And they cover the sabbath rest in detail and give a wonderful, balanced perspective on it.  But the nugget I'll share with you that really nailed our society on the head and made me ponder was "non-evangelicals".

They site George Barna who differentiates "Evangelicals" and "non-evangelicals" who still refer to themselves as Evangelical.  "Barna calls these people "non-evangelicals."  But that is not how they refer to themselves.  They believe that they are Evangelicals, even though they don't accept the authority and teaching of the Bible.  Some don't believe in hell.  Some believe that God doesn't know what will happen in the future.  Others reject that Jesus is the only way to God." 

This is covered on a chapter really devoted to the sovereignty of God.  It's an excellent chapter that really delves into what believing in the sovereignty of God really means.  And, I agree with the authors, many claiming "evangelicals" miss the mark on believing in a sovereign God"And that is a very serious issue.  In fact, it is the core issue."  As I began to dwell on this concept, it is incredibility correct that is possibly THE CORE ISSUE of today's world.

I won't expound more, but suffice it to say that I do recommend reading Overcoming Overload and taking some time to dwell on the thought provoking content.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Going to Bless My House Today!

You know in life things get put on our plate all the time.  Many times we can just tip the plate and they can fall right off.  But other times gravy gets ladled on, it oozes all over everything and covers up the things you know God intends for you to have on your plate.  If you tip the plate to remove the gravy you lose the good things too.  It must be carefully and painstakingly removed which takes way more time than you have.

favorite place to enjoy the peace!
Seems like these last  few  weeks and even months have been a gravy season.  I can’t say the gravy is fully off the plate yet, but some mashed potato moats have been erected and I’m getting back to the items that are supposed to be on the plate in the first place.  It’s in these times that the “good” things can get neglected, and for me the one that will go first is the Home.

Like it or not, for most women their Home is supposed to be one of the main things on their plate.  Most of the time I like it, or at I at least like some of the things about the “Home” part of my plate.  I enjoy creating new decorating things for my home, making great food,  even choosing the d├ęcor and style (even if I don’t like the painting!) and yes, I do enjoy a clean orderly home!

The part I don’t seem to find time for, especially when gravy has been flowing, is the day to day upkeep and cleaning.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’ll be featured on Hoarders anytime soon (well maybe one of the kids room, but that’s another issue) but it’s not as “refreshing” as I’d like.  I take great joy and peace in sitting down to have a cup of coffee in a clean and clutter free home.

So today my husband is off shooting for the day and I intend to Bless my House.

Bless my House?  Yes, I think it’s a term I originally found in an Elizabeth George book.  It really does change your thinking when you look at the upkeep and “chores” of housework as “blessing”.  Ultimately you are truly blessing  your family.

They will now be able to find that bill they left out in a pile somewhere, or have clean socks and underwear.  And low and behold, there are now plenty of clean towels in the bathroom closet and spoons for cereal.

I may not get it all accomplished, but I will surely succeed in several rooms, so tonight I can sit down with a cup of coffee, maybe a book , fuzzy socks and enjoy the peace and relaxation of a clean room!

Have you Blessed your House lately?