V is for Vacation ~ The need to get away

Is it sad that when I think of the word vacation I hear Belinda Carlisle singing “Vacation. All I ever wanted. Vacation have to get away.” And then I see the Go-Go’s video for the song run through my mind. I’d make you all miserable with me and link up a You Tube video but I couldn’t find a legal version of the official video and I wasn’t happy with the live versions of the song.  Go on and thank me. I’ve spared your ears. You’re welcome.

Back to Vacation.  I don’t just want one.  I think I need one. It seems the older my children get, the more busy our lives become and I feel like everything is just GoGoGoGo (no not the Go Gos  even though I did mention them already and I do like them but that’s a blog post for another day.)

Vacation time is important. Even God took a day to rest.  Sometimes, I think we over schedule ourselves and fail to rest. ~ Circling Through This Life

When I think of vacations, I think of travelling to a different location and of staying in hotels and eating in restaurants. I think of visiting museums or parks.  I think of spending time with family that lives so far away. Childhood vacations were the time we went from Minnesota to Kentucky to visit my grandparents and so many of my Dad’s relatives. Vacation makes me think of trips to Disney World or to the coastal beaches like Hawaii. That’s how I define a “real” vacation.

Last week I needed a break. A real vacation would be lovely but no time for that. I took a few hours when the house was nice and quiet and I took a break. I refused to do any lesson planning. I did not do any grading. I did not even open up LiveWriter to do any blogging. I made a huge mug full of tea, grabbed my Kindle, sat in my rocking chair and read. For hours.  It was refreshing. I felt so much better mentally for taking time to truly relax.

I don’t mean escape. I don’t mean avoid.  I don’t mean procrastination. I do those things often. Reading as a means of avoidance knowing that I am just putting off the work that I need to do, does not provide me with the renewing I need to complete those tasks.

I still want, perhaps even need, a vacation. In my Random Thoughts post I mentioned learning my lesson and planning on setting aside more time for me. More time to read a book, or take a nap, or play a game or anything that I want to do that isn’t task driven. Something that I want to do; not something that I need to do.

I would love a weekend getaway.  I’m thinking a weekend getaway later this fall sounds like a perfect way to celebrate a wedding anniversary. It also sounds like a great reward for staying on task and getting my list of “to dos” completed.

Vacation time is important. Even God took a day to rest.  Sometimes, I think we over schedule ourselves and fail to rest. The things, in and of themselves, are not bad. Some are quite necessary. Some are fun.  But in the hustle and bustle of life today, I need to get away. I need a vacation day every now and again.


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Five Random Thoughts ~ September 26 Edition

I had every intention of posting these on Friday:  Five on Friday just has a better ring than Five on Saturday but if you read on you’ll understand why I delayed. <grin>

1. I skipped church on Sunday. I needed a mental break.  I love Divine Liturgy and attending is necessary for my spiritual health, but I had been going going going for so long. Sometimes I do miss church for health and often I will use that time to get caught up on grading or lesson planning or blogging.  Instead of working, I made a point of using that time to really get the break I needed.  I made some tea and grabbed my Kindle.  I read and I read for hours. I finished the book on my Kindle.  Finished a book of poems by Shel Silverstein and finished a section of Mere Christianity. By the time my family came home I was ready to get back to going going going.

The Twelfth Juror Cover Image Mere Christianity Cover Image Where the Sidewalk Ends Cover photo

2.  I learned that it is really important to carve out time to do something like just enjoy some tea and read a book. I don’t think it’s such a great idea to skip church on a regular basis to get that break so I’m looking at what I need to do make sure that I get something like that more frequently. I’m dreaming of Sunday afternoons where I can choose to just read all afternoon (after church) because all the school stuff and all the blogging stuff and all the house cleaning stuff and all the laundry stuff and all the other “this needs to be done now” life stuff is “reasonably caught up”  (in other words no looming Monday morning deadlines)

3.  I had a birthday this past week. My girls made a special breakfast for me.  My husband took me out to lunch.  That sounds so much better than it was.  We stopped at Burger King because we were out getting my driver’s license renewed.  My family made a special dinner for me and I got to watch the first two episodes of Broadchurch. It was a quiet day with my family letting me know I was loved.

Birthday Messages for Mama ~ Random Thoughts at Circling Through This Life

4.  My oldest daughter attended her first “not orchestra or piano related” concert. It was in a small not-quite local venue and featured 4 “metal” bands.  The headlining band is one of her favorites (or so I gather). She attended the concert with the son of my good friend. My good friend and I dropped them off and spent time in a pub that serves amazingly good food. It was a long night but the food was good and the company even better. My daughter had a great time.  I think my friend’s son had a great time, too.

5. The 2014 Schoolhouse Review Crew is winding down. The very last vendor list posted so all the vendors for 2014 have been assigned.  The last reviews will be posting in early November. If you’ve been reading my blog and wondering how you can be part of the Crew keep watching my blog (you can follow me any number of ways which are available on the sidebar) for more information about New Crew Applications.

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U is for Uniforms: School Uniforms in the Homeschool

When I think of school uniforms I think of Catholic schools first and then I think of fancy, expensive private schools, like the ones out on the East coast or in England. Homeschool and school uniform should not be in the same sentence or should it?

If you home school, then like me you might be aware of the “home schooling mom’s uniform,” the denim jumper.  I don’t wear denim jumpers. I did try it out. I got over it. I have baked my own bread and I own a grain mill but that’s all beside the point.

As you can read I am easily distracted. I start out talking about school uniforms and I end up mentioning baking bread. My 15 year old daughter is also very easily distracted. We’ve been brainstorming ways to help her stay focused.

Wearing Special Clothes during Home School can help students stay focused. ~ Circling Through This Life

She wanted to try wearing a school uniform. Though purchasing a real uniform is not part of our budget plans, we were able to brainstorm some ideas and reach an acceptable option.  We thought a vest would be a good option.  She could wear whatever clothes she wanted and then when it was “school time” she could put on the vest.  School’s finished?  Take off the vest.

We didn’t have a vest but I found a lacey cover up (like a shrug but not a shrug because it’s longer) and she said that would work. But she wanted to take the idea further.

She has some nice skirts that she really likes but they are too dressy for every day. Unless of course they are part of your school “uniform”.  So she puts on a skirt,  a nice blouse and the the lacey overlay.  FlyLady would be proud because Tailorbear even puts on shoes!

Getting up, getting dressed and getting started right away has helped her to stay focused on working through her planned assignments. She still gets distracted by wandering over to you tube instead of working on her math but her attitude is focused.

There really is something about the idea of dressing for work, even if that work is “School work” and is completed at home. I know I am far more productive when I put on certain clothes and more inclined to get less done in other clothes. There are some skirts that I wear only when I intend to lounge.  I wear my jeans when I am serious about “getting stuff done.” 

Being able to distinguish between school time and non-school time is another advantage of home school uniforms.  I know that I tell myself we start around 9am and we need to be done for the day between 4 and 5pm (Yes there are lots of breaks but I am teaching high schoolers.  They need more time for academics now than they did when they were in elementary school and longer school days means little to no school work in the evenings and weekends.

Never mind the children, I need the distinction. I need the time to switch gears and “come home.”  I’ve really struggled with the fact that home schooling seems to eat up all my time: all day, into the evening and on weekends too. This leads to anger and resentment on my part as I see my family relaxing and I still have a long to do list. Seeing my daughter’s success with her home school uniform, I am considering some type of work uniform for myself.  I guarantee though that it will not be a denim jumper.

Do you have clothes that you wear when you need to be more productive?  Have you tried a type of uniform or special clothes in your home school?  Did it help? Do you have some advice?

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***Please note: Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net ***


Random 5 on Friday ~ September 19th Edition

I’m just going to jump in with my five thoughts for this week:

1. I think the busier we are, the faster time flies. We’re very busy this month.  So busy that even my 15 year old said “how did we get to be so busy!”

2. A sweet homeschooling friend from church had a arranged for a trip to the women’s monastery on the other side of the mountains.  She graciously and kindly offered to take Turtlegirl and Tailorbear.  They left on Tuesday and came home on Thursday. They were exhausted but bubbling and full of excitement as they told me about the trip.

3. Turtlegirl brought home an icon for me! She found an icon of St. Nicholas to add to our icon corner. Most of our icons are Russian style but this one is Greek Style.  According to the certification on the back, it was made in Greece. I think it is beautiful. It’s a slightly early birthday present for me. I couldn’t find an image that was exact so I took this picture. It only shows half the icon because I am not very good with taking pictures with my Kindle Fire HDX.

Turtlegirl gave me this icon!

4. We canned tomatoes last Saturday. I brought home 20 pints to add to my 19 quarts. Our little canning club is taking a little break.  There’s talk of applesauce. I’ve made homemade applesauce before and it always makes me think of Grandma Elsie. I have frozen my applesauce but I’ve never canned it before.

5. Saturday marks 4 weeks since we made dill pickles. I could not take it anymore and I opened the first quart on Wednesday.  They are very good. Tailorbear loves pickles. She likes that these pickles are crisp. They have some crunch. Definitely a hit here!

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My Student Logbook ~ A Schoolhouse Crew Review

Record keeping is an important part of home schooling.  Even if you live in a state that does not require record keeping, it’s nice to have a something that keeps track of what you and your students have accomplished. For high school, record keeping is necessary for compiling credits for a transcript.

My Student Logbook ~ A record keeping and accountibilty tool. Perfect for keeping records to create high school transcripts ~ Read Tess's review at Circling Through This Life

Turtlegirl is very independent with her school work but needs accountability. My Student Logbook, a company owned by a homeschooling family, provides students and parents with a tracking method designed for independent learners. We chose the undated version with the  Vintage Map cover for our daily student logbook. It is also available in dated versions and more cover choices such as Dinosaurs, Butterflies or Rainforest themes.

What Is a My Student Logbook?

First let me say what it is not.  It is not a lesson planner. This is not a tool for mom to use to plan out daily lessons. This is a tool for the student. I love that they named it My Student Logbook and not something like My Student Planner or My Lesson Planner.

In the FAQ section, Corina addresses whether or not this is a homeschool planner. She points out that a My Student Logbook does not take the place of a planner where you write out goals and plans but rather that the logbook is a tool to implement those plans and goals. I like to think of it as a record of what Turtlegirl actually did but my planner is what is what I want to accomplish. The two go hand in hand.

a daily planner for students: My Student Logbook

But what is it exactly? The physical logbook is standard 8 1/2 x 11 pages and spiral bound. There is a heavy clear plastic cover protecting the paper theme cover and a sturdy, heavy vinyl back. The logbook includes set up instructions in the front including an article about using the My Student Logbook to create high school transcripts, followed by the checklist sheets. Permission is granted to photocopy these list sheets if you run out of them. (The rest of the pages are copyright protected. Please purchase a new book for each student or the PDF family license). The logbook includes 53 weekly pages with 7 daily columns.

There is a cream colored paper separating the weekly check off pages from the back section. This rear section includes places to log things like books read, projects completed and even Bible verses memorized. There is even a spot to record test scores.

How We Use My Student Logbook:

First you have to set it up. It’s very simple but hard to explain. There are checklists that fold over the weekly pages. Thankfully there is a set up guide video that shows you how to do it step by step. The Set It Up page also includes photos and written instructions. It is important that you cut the checklist where indicated because if you don’t, it might not fit correctly.

I still make my lesson plans using favorite planner, but instead of printing out (or failing to print out) an assignment sheet each day for Turtlegirl, I just list out subjects, resources, or resources on the checklist and add chores. Each checklist can be used again and again.  You only have to change the checklist if you want to make changes or add or subtract a subject or course. She is LOVING it!

I also came up with some codes to use in the 7 Day Column section. Sometimes life happens and if we have one of those days where I know she won’t be able to get everything done on the list, I’ll put a tiny P in the lower corner of the day check off box. This let’s Turtlegirl now that this a PRIORTY item.

My Student Logbook ~ a great way to help students with accountibility

I am planning that she will not do a subject on a specific day I use squiggly lines. This is my reminder that I told her not to do it. If she comes to me and asks not to do something because “mom, math took me longer than I expected and I can’t do English because the teacher hasn’t emailed me back yet,” then I initial the box. If I don’t do that, and I don’t see a squiggly line, she’ll get in trouble for not doing her English, but if I see my initials, it will jog my memory when I look over her logbook at the end of the week.

Items that are not done, get an x.  When Turtlegirl completes the assignment she puts in a check mark or a time amount or score depending on what I need to track or record for her transcript. This gives me a fairly complete record of the work completed an I can input scores and/or time into my homeschool planning software to keep for the transcript.

On the Weekly pages, there is a notes section.  This section will be under the checklist, but since the checklist can be lifted up, you can still easily access the notes. I love this notes section!  I can put a few details here such as Literature Discussion with Mom on Friday.

Most of Turtlegirl’s courses have their own schedules built into the curriculum but a few subjects such as Latin have specific details that vary from day to day. I print out an assignment sheet from my homeschool planner with only those courses, cut it to fit and taped it inside the appropriate week. This way she had easy access to which specific worksheets for Latin or the details of English paper requirements and would not have to come and ask me.

My Student Logbook ~ A place to log events, activities and projects!

My Thoughts:

I LOVE THIS and I wish I had known about this 5 or 6 years ago!! It is great for Turtlegirl.  It is what she needs:  structure but with freedom.  It would have been so wonderful to have had this with Boobear.

I didn't really think I would *NEED* this tool but um yes I think I do. This would get my vote for best product I didn't know I needed in the Schoolhouse Review Crew Blue Ribbon Awards. 


The Logbook is great for keeping me on track. There's a feeling of accomplishment when you look at a previous week, and can see that you DID get stuff done. I can look at the logbook and see EXACTLY what I have left to get done in the day. I can highlight the school stuff, if I need to. I can see what chores I have to do. And I can even use it as a schedule: Morning chores, then clean-up, and then school. I love how customizable the logbook is. I’ve been using the ‘Project’ pages in the back to keep track of my cooking projects, like when I experimented with ‘Teriyaki Tilapia’. I also love how there are pages for ‘Books I’ve Read’ where I can keep track of books that I’m reading outside of school. Basically, I can keep track of just about anything I want to keep track of, and I love it. I love how easy it is to use.

On another note, this has helped me be more accountable to my mom. I would say, “Oh yeah, I’ll do that!” and then I’d forget and it wouldn’t get done. The logbook helps me remember, keep track of it, ensure that I get it done, and Mom can look at the logbook and make sure that I’ve done it. We got the undated version of the logbook, so we were able to completely customize how the week was set up. For example, I really like having the week start on Monday, since that’s the first school day. Because I use the undated version, I can do that. I’m thinking, since I’m really absentminded, that I should put stuff like ‘put on glasses’ on my to-do list so I actually remember to put on my glasses. This logbook has really helped me organize things and also helped me be accountable.  So, yay for the logbook!

Turtlegirl and her Logbook

The Details:

  • The Vender: My Student Logbook
  • The Product:  My Student Logbook
  • Format: I reviewed a physical undated version, but physical and e-book dated versions are also available.
  • Age Range: For students who can read the checklist. Suggested from grades 2 to high school
  • Price:  $15.00

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about My Student Logbook.

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All information is correct and accurate as of the date of this review.

You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews to find more great products.