Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to Routine

image via 
We start our homeschool year tomorrow. When I first started seeing back to school supplies in stores I thought, NO summer can't be over yet, more summer, more summer! But now I'm ready, I'm excited. I'm excited to get back to our routine. 

We get very lax in the summer. Chores don't always get done, days are spent flying by the seat of our pants. We play at the creek for hours, we play video games too long, we stay up too late. Which to me is what summer is for. But it's about now when I see a few yellow leaves creeping on the trees and the chokecherries are ripe on the bushes that I start to crave routine. The loosy goosy summer days are fun, but it's time to get back to normalcy, back to our routine. 

Somehow our routine brings comfort to me. I know many homeschoolers thrive on following their interests, going with the flow, more of an unschooling approach. I thinks that's awesome. We let our interests guide us to an extent and are definitely flexible. If we want to go on a tangent with something we're studying in history for example, I'm all for a trip to the library for more books on the topic. If one son is struggling with a concept we definitely spend more time with that lesson. But for the most part we have breakfast about the same time, chores about the same time, then our subjects in the same order. I have lesson plans mapped out for which lessons we'll do when. That routine is somehow more comfortable, relaxed, reassuring to us.

I can have a tendency to get distracted and really off track. Routine helps me with this. I have a notebook with all my cleaning tasks listed in morning routine and evening routine. My kids have Chorepacks with all their chores in there. I also have my Blackberry set to go off and remind me it's 'math time' for the teen, or 'phonics time' for the 7 year old. These things help me to stay on track. I need that routine or I'll turn around and it's 3 pm and I realize the 5 year old is still in his PJs and the teen is just eating breakfast.

I'm not a naturally organized person. I always thought that I was when it was just me. But somehow when that changed to a family of 5 all my 'organizational skills' went out the window and I found myself struggling to keep my head above water. I know that I need a little help, and so I look around and find what helps me. I'm not ashamed to say that. I'm not perfect. Never will be. But I keep trying. I want to improve, to be the best wife/mom/homeschool teacher I can be. Routines are my secret weapon right now. They work for me, they feel right for my family.

For me it's not Back to School, it's Back to Routine, wooo! I'm ready.

Do you thrive on routine or a more laid back approach?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When Life Gives You Apricots...Make Apricot Jam

And oh boy did life give me apricots! My father in law was over by the Palisade/Grand Junction area and brought me back a TON of apricots. Yay for free fruit! They were all very ripe and needed used soon. In fact, much to my chickens' delight, some were already too mushy.

So yesterday I made apricot jam. I always make my jams and jellies because I am absolutely against High Fructose Corn Syrup and many brands have it. I also just generally feel better about knowing what's in them because I put it there! Plus, they're just so much yummier.

I personally avoid sugar because I just feel better without it. I also limit it in my cooking/baking. I've played around with using less sugar in jam and jelly recipes and found Sure-Jell For Less or No Sugar works awesome for this. To me the fruit itself is sweet, and seriously, some recipes call for 7 cups of sugar?!

My apricot jam:

4 or 5 cups apricots with pits taken out and cut in half
1 cup sugar
1 pkg sure-jell for less or no sugar

That's it...and it's pretty yummy. My measurements aren't exact because I eyeballed the apricots. Once I had the apricots cooked down I just followed the instructions on the sure-jell package for adding it and the sugar. Put it in hot jars and water bath can. You may have to add more sugar for your tastes, but this is good for us.

I also have made jams without any sure-jell with strawberries, etc. Just cook the heck out of the fruit on low and add some sugar. It's fun to experiment.

I just love the 'ping' noise when the lids seal! Don't you?

What's your favorite jam?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Appreciating the Dandelions in the Sidewalk

I have dandelions in my sidewalk. 

Am I willing to spray poison on them in order to achieve a pristine sidewalk crack? Not really.

Am I willing to take time out of my hectic wife/mommy/homeschooler/writer day to pull the weeds out of my sidewalk crack? Right or wrong, again, not really.

Am I going to let them drive me crazy? No. 

I'm going to allow them to make me smile...because they're beautiful.

Sometimes you just gotta appreciate the dandelions in the sidewalk. Sure, they're really not supposed to be there. But life's not perfect. Would it really be any fun if it was?