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?

Blogging Through the Alphabet

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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!

The Pebble Pond

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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.

This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for Reviews.

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.


The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner ~ A Crew Review

Have you heard the saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail?” I feel like my life is spinning out of control. Like many modern women, I wear many hats. I rush around putting out the fires of urgent demands and handling the little but important things that pop up but I don't feel like I am getting anything done. I don’t have time to plan and I end up feeling like a failure. I know I need to plan. I know that planning things out relives stress because it’s fewer “on the spot” decisions I have to make, but planning out priorities and goals in addition to lesson plans and menus? Who has time?

Knowing that I need to make a change in my life, I knew I needed to review The The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner from The 7 Minute Life. I knew that would force me to take the time. Force myself to slow down, breath deep and work through the front portion of this planner and then I would be able to use the main daily planner pages called daily progress reports.

The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is more than time management tool. It's a strategy to acomplish your goals. Read Tess's review at Circling Through This Life

Let’s chat a bit about those sections in the front: the planning pages.  Grab a cup of pumpkin spice latte, or hot apple cider with cinnamon (or really whatever beverage you like to sip while chatting with friends). There’s a gold mine in the planning pages, but it took some digging for me to find the treasure. I’m lazy and I didn’t want to take the time to think about personal goals, financial goals, work goals or any of that jazz. But I’m glad that I did.

First Things First

 The 7 Minute Life Daily Planner is more than just daily planner pages. It begins with a 3 page Preface section that explains the background of the planner. This is followed by an Introduction Section that explains what the planner is, why you need the planner and provides and overview of the planner. I referred to these pages frequently when trying to understand what to do with the different worksheets and the different sections of the daily progress report.

Next come the worksheets. I needed time to complete these. Remember what I said about time? I would think about these pages in the shower.  Pray about them. I tackled them in order.  First up: “Prioritize” which asks the planner (the person, not the book) to rank your values.  What do you find important?  Laughter? Arts? Honesty? Relationships?  This was not an easy task for me, yet it was not as difficult as I feared. I circled the items important to me and realized that some of those didn’t matter at all to me.  Ranking them and choosing the top ten was a little more difficult.

Why is it important to rank and prioritize your values? Because knowing what values are your priorities can help you decide where to focus your time and energies.  If “faith” is high ranking value priority for me, I’m going to want to choose activities such as completing my daily Bible reading, instead of flipping through the a magazine about how to get the most out of my next camping trip. (My girls love camping, me? Not so much, so “Nature” isn’t a high priority value for me.)

The hardest worksheet for me to complete, the one that required the most time, thought and prayer, was the “Discovering Your Purpose” page.  This page has a place for you list “What I Love” and “Purpose Words” as well as place to write out the answer to this question: “At the age of 85, I will know I have fulfilled my purpose when: . . . “

7 Minute Life daily planner samples and cover

Two more pre-planning pages follow:  You Highest and Best, and Mental Clutter. Next you’ll find the goal pages: 90-Day Personal Goals, 90-Day Work Goals, 90-Day Financial Goals, and Life Goals.  I realized that I do do have goals. I just never to the time to explore them or acknowledge them. They were more dreams than goals but writing them out helped me to realize that there are things that I can do to move towards those goals. I have a goal to be fit enough to hike some mountain trails with my daughters. I can use the daily progress report to choose activities that will help me achieve that goal. It’s more of a life goal than a 90-Day Personal Goal.

More Front Section Tools

Having worked through priorities, purpose and goals we get to my favorite section.  Unfinished Tasks.  There are pages for Unfinished Work Tasks and Unfinished Home Tasks.  This are the jobs like “wash comforter” (Unfinished Home Task),  or “write Nutrition lesson plans” (Unfinished Work Task).  There is a section on the Daily Progress Report for unfinished tasks.  On the DPR, I pick from my master lists of unfinished tasks to pick up to ten to tackle on this day. There’s a page for “Home Repairs,” “Mental Clutter,” “Connections,” as well as many calendar planning worksheets.

The Daily Progress Report

“The Daily Progress Report” is a two-page spread to help you plan your day. It includes the question “Did I do what I said I would do today?” with check boxes for Yes or No.  An explanation for each section is given in the front matter and on the website there are videos that explain each section. The sections are: “Daily Contacts”, “What Will I do . . . 5 before 11”,  “7 Minute Life Connections”, “Unfinished Tasks,” “What I spent,” “Appointments,” “Thank You Notes,” and “Voice Mail” with sections for meals, notes, and even check boxes to track your water intake.

7 Minute Daily Life Planner Cover ~ Read Tess's Review at Circling Through This Life

Customizing the Planner for ME!

I do not have employment outside the home but I wear many hats besides mom. I’m a reviewer, a blogger, and a teacher in addition to my home manager status. I do not have a business so I do not need a Contacts section and I do not need a section for voicemails.  I do however need a place to jot down things that I need to do today but that either do not need to be part of my 5 before 11 or comes up after I’ve made my 5 before 11.  These are things like responding to an email that arrived in the morning or my husband asking me to find something.  I turned the Voicemail section into a Things That Come Up section.  On days when I feel like I accomplished nothing I can look at the section and see that I did get many things done.

daily progress report customized

As a blogger, participating in social media is both fun and necessary. One of the requirements for being a part of the Schoolhouse Review crew is to have an active blog. The Contacts section of the daily progress report has become my blogging and social media section.  I’m still perfecting how best to make it work for me, but this section is where I can jot down the names of blogs I want to visit, or blog posts I want to pin. I can note which blogs I visited when participating in my favorite link ups.

The Details:

  • The Vender: The 7 Minute Life
  • The Product: The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner
  • The Creator:  Allyson Lewis
  • Format: Coil Bound: 7.3" by 8.5" physical planner
  • Age Range: adults, especially adults who have jobs but is also beneficial  for homeschooling and blogging mamas who “stay at home”
  • Price: $24.95 
  • NOTE:  Ms. Lewis has many tips, tools and strategies. I highly recommend exploring Time Strategy Tools and the Getting Started video.

Visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog to read what others have to say about The 7 Minute Life™ Daily Planner.


This Graphic contains the FTC Regulations statement for Reviews.

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.


Random Five on Friday ~ September 12th Edition

It’s been several weeks since I have done one of these so I guess I’ll just pick 5 random things from that last two or three weeks to share.

1.  Some of you may know that I love Duran Duran. I think I could write an entire blog post about them and about the music, but for now I’ll just that I very much enjoyed seeing the David Lynch Film: Duran Duran Unstaged. I’m not a really a fan of David Lynch.  Some of the effects though were really cool but many I could have done without and would have preferred to be able to have a clearer shot of what the band was actually doing.  Don’t know what I’m talking about? That’s ok. It was a one night only theater release. I’m hoping it will be on DVD. I want to put it on my wish list.

2.  I’ve been doing more canning this year than I have in the past.  We did strawberry jam (one session with friends, one of just us), raspberry jam (ok that was more of my girls), and with friends we did peaches, dill pickles, and dill relish.  Last Saturday we did tomatoes as a group and tomorrow my little canning club (that’s how I’ve come to think of my friends) will do tomatoes again. The girls, honeybear, and I also did a couple small batches of green beans and carrots. We want to do more green beans and more carrots.  I hope to do applesauce, either with my friends or with just my daughters.

Two of the Shelves full of canned goodness!

3. We had our First Day of School on Labor day.  So as of today we’ve completed two weeks. We’ve been using a Student Logbook with Turtlegirl. (Look for the review next week!) and I created a planner for Tailorbear. It does seem to help us stay on track and get more accomplished. School with Supergirl is not going as well.  I need to tweak the schedule and allow more flexibility. I had things come up last week and this week she was sick. Thank goodness for educational DVDs and hands on things like Learning Palette.

Tailorbear and Supergirl First Day of School

4. If you look only at the number of books I’ve read it looks like I’m not doing so well on my 2014 GoodReads Reading Challenge.  I’m two books behind schedule or something like that.  The truth is though that I did read When Christ and His Saints Slept and that is one huge book. I think it should count for 3, if not 4 books!  If the average book is 250-300 pages (give or take, more or less LOL) then I am not behind at all!

5.  BooBear started her sophomore year of college this week. She’s one busy girl with classes and music stuff and work. I wonder how much  time I will get to spend with her. Wait. I get to be with her tomorrow canning tomatoes.


The Pebble Pond

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