Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Awesome Experience

I had the pleasure last week of being a community judge at a qualifying competition of the National Christian Forensics and Communication Association.  What is that, you ask?  Here is the mission statement that I got from the website of the NCFCA:

The National Christian Forensics and Communications Association (NCFCA) believes that formal speech and debate can provide a means for home schooled students to learn and exercise analytical and oratorical skills, addressing life issues from a Biblical world view in a manner that glorifies God. To provide these opportunities to home schooled students, NCFCA shall facilitate qualifying tournaments throughout the country and the annual National Championship.(my emphasis)

And glorify God they did!  What an absolutely incredible experience.  One day I judged a Dramatic Interpretation contest.  There were 8 students who participated in this round and they were all fabulous.  At the end of the round we had to rank them in order from first to last.  Last sounds so harsh because even the "last" student was still great!  Some of these kids had us near tears with their interpretations of literature (and I mean that in a GOOD sense :).  

The next day I judged a round of two-person debate.  Not having had any debate experience, I was a little nervous about this one.  The topic was such that it even took me a few minutes to figure out what they were talking about!  This, too, was very impressive.

Overall I have to say that these kids knocked my socks off!  They were dressed very professionally, they were incredibly polite and very talented.  A friend of mine had told me about this group in the fall but I didn't sign up because the group meets every week about 45 minutes away from here.  After seeing the caliber of students at this event, I might just take the plunge next year and sign the kids up!  After all, they could use a speech credit for high school and it sure would beat the speech class that the junior college offers.  Been there, done was awful!

These groups are all over the country so if you ever have a chance to join one, even for just one year, I have to believe that your kids will come out of it for the better.  The two friends I have who are in it now say that this is the best thing they have EVER signed their kids up for.

I'll have to remind myself of this next August when it is time to sign up :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (A Unit Study Activity)

Monday, January 24, 2011

My To-Do List(s)

In response to my last post about planners, a friend had asked me about how I manage my To-Do list(s).  Since I'm always looking for ideas for the blog, I thought I'd make a post out of it instead of emailing her my response :)

First let me start by saying that this year I changed our general calendar around.  With Ms 18 yo being in college, it seemed to add another dimension to our busyness, so I got one of these this year:
It hangs in the kitchen and is right there where everyone can see it.  I used to keep a weekly calendar on my desk where everyone could see it, but since we've moved here, my desk isn't in the kitchen anymore, so it made the family calendar a little less accessible to everyone (meaning they had to walk farther to look at it :)  I love being able to see the entire month at once.  It really helps me to get the big picture and plan things out better.  I wish I had done it sooner.

I also decided that I can't stand electronic calendars!  I really tried to use the calendar on my phone, but I hate not being able to flip the pages.  I know that sounds weird, but I'm sure some of you out there can understand what I mean.  I need to physically flip through the pages (whether they be the month pages or the week pages) of my calendar.  It helps me sort things out.

So, to that end, I bought myself a small daily planner and I leave that on my desk.  I can flip to my heart's content now, and it is still small enough to fit in my purse so I can take it with me when I need to set appointments.  Yes, I have to remember to copy the information onto the big family calendar, but I'm okay with that.

So what about the To-Do list?  Well, how I handle my To-Do list varies depending on how busy I happen to be.  If it is a relatively slow time, then I will just jot down in my planner what needs to be done on the day that it needs to be done.  I usually write things down as I think of them, but at night I'll make a mental run-through of the next day to make sure that I didn't forget anything.

If it happens to be a busy time for us, I will take a piece of paper and just start writing down all of the things that I will need to do for that week.  As I think of them, or as they come up, I just add them to the list.  Then, I go back and, if possible, assign a day of that week on which I am going to accomplish them.  For example, if we have a big party coming at the end of the week, my list might look like this:

dust house (W)
go to WalMart (TH)
go to Sam's (TH)
get haircuts (T)
bake cake (F)
frost cake (S)
cut grass (F)
clean basement (T)
clean bathrooms (S)
set up tables and chairs (S)
make the food (F, S)
clean up the yard (TH)

Each day I scan the list and do what I need to do.  Once an activity is done, I cross it off.  I've had lists that are a full page long, but it makes it much easier to manage when I organize my tasks this way.  I also find that once I write it down, I don't have to give it much thought until it is time to do it.  

I hope that helps!  I'm always looking for new organizing ideas, so if I missed something that seems obvious to you, please share it with the rest of us!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Horror of it All

I knew it would go off to college and they change.  Sometimes for the good, but many times it is for the worse.  I found out about it yesterday and it really put a damper on my evening.  Sometimes I wish that we didn't have technology that allowed us to see so much of what is going on in other people's lives.

You see, it seems that yesterday Ms 18 yo forgot about a project that was due in one of her classes.  It isn't that that upset me, however.  What got me upset was the fact that when I asked if she had written down the assignment in her planner, she said....NO!  "No," I asked her?  "Why not?"  "Because I forgot to" was her response.  

This child cannot be "flesh of my flesh".  We live by planners and calendars in this family.  She spent 18 years in the same house with a mother who writes down everything in a planner or on a calendar.  I make lists and then lists for my lists of things to do and she, after only 5 months of being away, has forgotten how to use a planner.  

And so it begins, the movement away from all that she knew; all that was what?????  I shudder to think of what is next!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Monday, January 17, 2011

Bittersweet Dancing

This past weekend we had our annual Father/Daughter Ball.  It is always such a joy to see how excited the girls get about dressing up and doing their hair and nails.  They really get into the fanciness of it and each one is cuter than the next.

This year, however, was bittersweet.  We had a great time, as usual, however we were missing one of our own.  Ms 18 yo had a conflict with an event at school and had to make a decision about which one to attend.  While both my husband and I feel she made the right choice by choosing her school event over the dance, it was still a bittersweet moment when I took the picture of my husband and his girls and she was not in it.  

I felt it again when her group of friends lined up to take a picture and the group was down two girls this year.  My how time flies.  It was only one short year ago when that lively group of senior girls took over the photo area and kept me laughing with their antics.  What a difference a year makes!  

I know that as we encounter these situations more often, and as we have more children who grow up and start to leave the nest it will get easier.  For the time being, however, it always makes me feel a bit sad when I realize that my children are all growing up.  I am thrilled that they are all growing into such fine, young adults, but it still doesn't make it any less difficult. 

On the bright side, I figure that by the time Ms 7 yo and Mr 5 yo are at this stage, we'll hold the door open for them, wish them luck on their journeys and collapse on the couch :)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Wordless Wednesday

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Ordinary Time

Here we are, back in Ordinary Time. The Christmas season has flown by and I can't believe all (well, most) evidences of it are removed from our house...all except the lights in front. Those will have to wait for warmer days.

It has been very busy around here and alas, my blog has been neglected. Funny thing about blogs, if they get neglected for too long, suddenly there is no one left. No matter, I enjoy writing just to write!

Christmas was a wonderful and busy time. It was good to all be back under the same roof, although it did take awhile for all of us to adjust to life together again. We passed the time with shopping, baking, Wii-ing and entertaining. We got a Wii Fit this year and I love it! It has motivated me to get out of bed early and exercise. That is no small miracle! New Year's was quiet, but that is okay because it isn't high on my list of favorite holidays.

We had our last batch of entertaining this weekend and now we are ready to settle back in to ordinary life; which means running around doing ordinary things, not holiday things. Same stuff, different purpose :)

Ms 18 yo is back for her second term and everyone else is gearing up to buckle down. With November being a month full of sickness and December being a month full of preparation we have definitely lost our groove. Hopefully we will get it back before February hits - the dreaded month of cabin fever!

May your Ordinary Time be extraordinary :)