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And the Winner Is . . .

Drum roll please! The winner of the FREE ticket to the online homeschool conference put on by Heart of the Matter Online from Feb. 21-23 is TN Quiltbug!!! Congrats, Susan! I’ll pass your email address along to the HOTM conference people, so look for your log-in information to come from them!

Thank you all for entering and participating. If you didn’t win, I encourage you to purchase a ticket; it’s only $14.95 for 3 days of encouraging chats with some wonderful homeschoolers. Plus, if you miss a session, Mp3s will be available after the conference for you to download.

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Day 6 of Organization ~ The Juggling Act & a Giveaway

One question I hear quite frequently is, “How do you do it all?” The short answer is, “I don’t!” The other short answer is, “Not well.” Phew, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s see what we can come up with to help us all juggle homeschool work and housework with all of the other things we have going on in our lives.

My number one tip is to use schedules. I covered several types of homeschool schedules last week, so if you missed those posts, you can read them here and here. I also use schedules for my household cleaning chores. If you really want to go crazy with that, or to get some more specific ideas, check out The FlyLady.

She’s got great ideas, but it’s all a little much for me, so this is what I do: I schedule what laundry I do on specific days and I always do it. For example, I do colors and whites on Monday, colors again on Thursday, and sheets and towels on Friday. My youngest daughter does her laundry on Tuesday, while my oldest does hers on Wednesday.

I do have a menu, but only for dinners. It’s not listed out by day, but rather a list of all the dinners for which I have ingredients (so I make the menu at the same time I make my grocery list) and what I plan to make in about 2 weeks’ time. In the morning, I look at my list, look at my calendar to see if I’ll have time to make dinner later in the day or if I need to put something in the crock pot, then take the meat out to defrost.

My second big tip for juggling homeschool and housework is to have chores for every family member. Yes, we are supermoms, but there’s no need for us to actually do everything ourselves. Part of what we are doing in our homes is training our children with life skills; cooking and cleaning are life skills! There are many sites online that detail what chores a child should be capable of handling at each age. There are also many sites from which you can print out chore charts and/or lists. The most important thing is to make sure that your divisions are fair and that you’re consistent. We usually do our chore jobs on Saturday, although if our weekend is too busy, we’ll do them Friday afternoon. Find what works for your family and stick to it.

My third tip is to limit your outside activities. For those of you who know me, this is where we get into trouble! There’s a very fine line between not having enough socialization and volunteering time to having too much. I tend to swing back and forth across that line instead of finding it and sitting on it. This year I’m on the “too busy” side. Be sure to take time to think and pray about each new commitment that you want (or someone else wants!) to add to your schedule. The point here is that homeschooling and homemaking both require us to be AT HOME to do them. We need to make sure that we’re there enough.

My last tip is to be careful of the time wasters that tend to fill up our day. Ok, I’m even more guilty of this than of filling my day with outside activities! You know what I mean, though. It’s best to have set times to read blogs, check & answer emails, be on Facebook, etc.

Mum, don’t even bother sending me an email lecture about this last point (or the third point), I know already! It’s not always knowing what to do; sometimes it’s just doing it. So for the rest of y’all, I’m struggling right there with you in the juggling act. But, sometimes it helps to see a few pointers in writing from someone else, so I hope this post helps some of y’all keep a few more of your juggling balls in the air.

Giveaway? Did I just see a giveaway? Yes, you did! I’m giving away 1 FREE ticket for My Heart of the Matter’s upcoming Winter Conference. Get a big dose of encouragement February 21-23 from such speakers as Carol Barnier, Amanda Bennett, Kim Kautzer, and more. The best part is that you can attend in your jammies! This is an online conference. If you can’t attend all of the sessions live, you’ll be able to listen to the Mp3s later.
Giveaway rules: Everyone who comments at least once on my blog during the 10 Days of Organization (not on Facebook, Twitter, or email) will be entered to win the ticket. You may comment every day (but only once per day) for more chances to win. I will announce the winner on Feb. 18, the last day of the blog hop. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment (or another way for me to contact you). This contest is open to anyone living anywhere in the world since it is a virtual conference.

We have partnered with 16 of the most inspiring, lovely, and just plain awesome bloggers in the homeschool community to bring you 10 days, 160 posts full of resources for those starting out, burned out or need new ideas.

The idea for this blog hop was modified (aka stolen) from Darcy’s 31 Days to a  Better Photo, but that is ok because Amy is her cousin and families are allowed  to do such things. Using this idea we hope that many people in the homeschooling cyber-world feel encouraged, inspired and recharged in their own homes.

Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do, too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

Brought to you by Heart of the Matter Online.

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Day 1 of Organization ~ Introduction & Giveaway

Welcome to Day 1 of Heart of the Matter Online’s 10 Days of Homeschooling Blog Hop! I’m honored and thrilled that you are joining us on this journey. I’ll be blogging for the next 10 days (excluding the weekend) about homeschool organization. I realize that there are different degrees of organization, so feel free to take and use what you need from these posts and leave the rest. Some people need to work up to it slowly; that’s fine, too. These articles are not the complete, definitive end-all of organization; rather, think of them as starting places. So, grab a cup of tea or a can of Diet Coke and settle in for a chat with a friend.

Here’s a peak at what’s coming:
1. Introduction; giveaway announced
2. Start Here
3. Basic scheduling
4. Scheduling for high schoolers
5. Top 10 tools
6. Juggling Act
7. Motivate your kids
8. Car-schooling
9. Library books under the bed
10. On Your Mark, Get Set, Go!

Giveaway? Did I just see a giveaway? Yes, you did! I’m giving away 1 FREE ticket for Heart of the Matter’s upcoming Winter Conference. Get a big dose of encouragement February 21-23 from such speakers as Carol Barnier, Amanda Bennett, Kim Kautzer, and more. The best part is that you can attend in your jammies! This is an online conference. If you can’t attend all of the sessions live, you’ll be able to listen to the Mp3s later.

Giveaway rules: Everyone who comments at least once on my blog during the 10 Days of Organization (not on Facebook, Twitter, or email) will be entered to win the ticket. You may comment every day (but only once per day) for more chances to win. I will announce the winner on Feb. 21, after the blog hop is over. Be sure to leave your email address with your comment (or another way for me to contact you). This contest is open to anyone living anywhere in the world since it is a virtual conference.

CHANGE: I’m going to announce the winner on FRIDAY, Feb. 18, the last day of the blog hop so you have time to buy your ticket if you didn’t win one.

We have partnered with 16 of the most inspiring, lovely, and just plain awesome bloggers in the homeschool community to bring you 10 days, 160 posts full of resources for those starting out, burned out or need new ideas.

The idea for this blog hop was modified (aka stolen) from Darcy’s 31 Days to a  Better Photo, but that is ok because Amy is her cousin and families are allowed  to do such things. Using this idea we hope that many people in the homeschooling cyber-world feel encouraged, inspired and recharged in their own homes.

Be sure to visit these brilliant women in this 10 days adventure between February 7th-18th! We love these ladies and we know you do, too.

10 days of socialization for mom | The Homeschool Chick
10 days of classical education | Milk & Cookies
10 days of large families | Chocolate on My Cranium
10 days of special needs | Special Needs Homeschooling
10 days of struggling learners | Homeschooling the Chaotic Family
10 days of homeschooling girls | Homegrown Mom
10 days of homeschool enrichment | Confessions of a Homeschooler
10 days of building a spiritual legacy | Mommy Missions
10 days of frugal homeschooling |The Happy Housewife
10 days of Charlotte Mason | Our Journey Westward
10 days of unschooling | Homeschooling Belle
10 days of organization | Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom
10 days of getting started | Blog, She Wrote
10 days of homeschooling boys | The Tie That Binds Us
10 days of homeschooling Montessori |  Fruit in Season
10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

Brought to you by Heart of the Matter Online.

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GIVEAWAY From CSN Stores!!

CSN liked the reviews I wrote for them a few weeks ago so much that they offered to let me host a GIVEAWAY for you, my faithful followers. CSN Stores has over 200 stores online and the sell everything from drop leaf tables to spruce up your home for the holidays to organization products for your homeschool or office.

What? You missed seeing my very organized laundry room? Well, click here to read my review of the ironing board holder with basket and triple laundry sorter I received.

The prize: a $55 gift certificate for you to use on the product(s) of your choice from any of the CSN Stores (does not include shipping charges, but many items include free shipping).

The rules: 1. Be a follower of my blog (current or new).
2. Leave a comment on this blog post (not on FB or Twitter).
3. Include your email address or another way to contact you.
4. Give us a hint of what you might use the gift certificate for if you win.
5. I’ll choose a random winner by Friday at noon EST.

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Motivating Kids to Organize – Guest Post & GIVEAWAY

organized.jpgKids and chaos seem to simply go together like peanut butter and jelly. Having raised two children of my own gives me firsthand experience of the frustration that can get in the way of fun, when toys, clothes and collections take over the house. Many of the organizing techniques I use with my clients have been tested for effectiveness in my own household!
            Underlying all of my tips is the proven principle that kids will eventually learn to put away their things if you provide an obvious place for the belongings and are consistent in teaching them how. Organization can go beyond giving the relief of having a neat playroom; it can encourage the kids to be more independent in finding their toys, clothing and picking up after themselves. They feel like big kids, and that is a huge help to parents. A little strategizing can go along way toward a smoother, functioning household and leave more time for fun!
Make it fun. Sorting, matching and lining up collections are activities that kids do on their own. They also are important tasks in organizing their rooms. To make cleanup time feel more like playtime:
  • Use clear or brightly colored plastic boxes to store toys on shelves. Label boxes with words, pictures or actual object to help your kids easily identify what goes where.
  • Use small plastic or wicker baskets to store similar toys together. Kids love being able to tote, empty and fill the baskets.
  • Install cork or magnetic board to mount their most recent art creations. 
Make it accessible.  Whatever structure or system you implement, make sure your kids can easily use.
  • Place shelving low enough for kids to reach. However, consider some higher shelving for storing toys with many small pieces. Having these toys out of reach will encourage partial clean up before taking out more.
  • Use pull out storage containers on wheels, or other large flat containers from under beds for storing toys, books, clothes or bedding.
  • Set closet poles low enough for your kids to reach or supply a step stool. 
Underwhelm.  The less you have, the easier it is to maintain. Consider these techniques for having less visible clutter:
  • Cycle toys as you do clothing. Store half the toys away in boxes. In a few months, bring them out and store others away. This will make toy selection and management easier.
  • Place out of season clothes in separate storage boxes.
  • Use boxes for storing mementos and artwork. Review box contents at end of school year to edit items and keep only the most meaningful ones. 
Be consistent.  To help your kids develop good organizational habits, you’ll want to be consistent.
  • Set aside the same time of day to help them get back to square one.
  • Work with them to help maintain focus on organizing and putting things away. If they like music, experiment with some upbeat music to keep you motivated and energized as you work.
  • Encourage and never nag or berate them. Organizing doesn’t come easily to everyone. Be patient. Make organizing a positive experience. 
lindasam.jpgBe a role model.  We can’t expect our kids to do what we ourselves are not doing. So, if you want your kids to stay organized and you are not modeling this yourself, start with getting your areas in order first. Once you are organized enough, then begin to help your kids to do the same. 

Many thanks to my guest blogger, Linda Samuels, CPO-CD. Check out Linda’s website and her new book, The Other Side of Organized. If you would like to WIN a FREE copy of The Other Side of Organized, leave a comment below (on my blog, not on FB or Twitter). I will choose a random winner (and someone who has not won something from me recently) on THURSDAY at noon (EST). Linda will mail her book to the winner directly, either to the US or to Canada.

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100 = A Giveaway!

Woohoo! I’ve reached 100 followers! To celebrate, I’m giving away a book from my personal collection, The Complete Guide to Getting & Staying Organized, by Karen Ehman of Proverbs 31 Ministries. I only have one copy, so if you don’t win, click on the above link to purchase your own.

I’m also giving away a paper copy of my e-book compilation, Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom. It contains “Organize Your Homeschool,” “Demystifying Homeschool Portfolios,” and “Taming the Paper Monster.” If you don’t win, pretty please click on over to my website and order an e-book download of one of these e-books. Remember, I also have my latest e-book, “Pre-Plan for Your Best Homeschool Year Ever” up on my website. In addition, if you’re a writer or a wanna be writer, check out “From the Editor’s Desk.”

Rules:
1. You must be a follower to enter (new or current).
2. Leave a comment here on my blog stating which book you would like to win and why.
3. Leave a way for me to contact you privately, especially if your blog profile is private (type your email address as follows for privacy from lurkers and robots: first name space last name space at space carrier space dot com).
4. I will choose 2 separate, random names on MONDAY, Sept. 13 before noon (EST). The winners will be notified privately; after confirming, I will post the winners (first names or blog name only) as a separate blog post.
5. I can only mail to US (or military) addresses – sorry!
6. Just in case you’re wondering, I did not receive Karen’s book for free to review. I just thought it had lots of good stuff in it and I wanted to pass it along to you, my faithful readers.

Good luck!

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Super-Duper Giveaway


It’s finally here! The super-duper giveaway that I used to bribe y’all to come follow my NEW BLOG URL! I’ve decided not to post more content on the old url so as not to confuse people. I will, however, post titles and redirect people over here to my NEW BLOG URL for a while.

Anyway, now for the good stuff. I am giving away a brand new Brother PT70BM LABELER!! It’s the same brand that I have, but a different model number. Check out the specs here. Since I love my labeler so much, I figured it might help y’all be more organized, whether you homeschool or not. Look for a “(X Number of) Ways to Use a Labeler” post coming soon to help you use your new toy.

Here’s the 4-1-1:
1. You must leave a comment on THIS POST (not FB or email) with your name (you don’t have to put your last name) and a way to contact you by 6 p.m. EST on Wednesday.
2. Enter again for blogging, Twittering, or Facebooking (up to one time for each) about my contest (be sure to tell me where you posted).
2. Pretty please follow my NEW BLOG URL (just click “follow” to the right and give yourself another entry here if you’re a new follower)
3. Don’t enter if you’ve won something from me this year already.
4. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced Thursday morning right here as well as contacted privately.
5. Best wishes!
6. My bad for not adding this earlier: I am sorry to say that I am not able to ship to non-U.S. addresses. I am very sorry!

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Radical (GIVEAWAY & review)

What would Jesus do? In the 80s, this question became so common place that it almost didn’t mean anything. In Radical: Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream, author David Platt takes this question to a whole new level. He examines the way the disciples followed Jesus two thousand years ago and how modern-day Christians in atheistic (or anti-Christian) countries follow Jesus today. What did/does it really cost those two groups of people to live fully for Jesus Christ? What did they have to give up? Then he describes what happened when a typical suburban church decided to do what Jesus would do. He closes by challenging readers to join The Radical Experiment and transform their lives.

What I appreciated most about this book is that the author didn’t just talk about what Jesus would do, he did it. Platt begins with his own search for answers and continues with how his church responded when he challenged them to live radically. He gets down to the nitty gritty by showing how opposite the typical American lifestyle is to the way the Bible calls Christians to live. He details specific steps for readers to take in a one-year period and guarantees that their lives will be changed if they follow The Radical Experiment.

Want to read the first chapter? Click here. You can request a free copy of the companion booklet, The Radical Question, by clicking here and check out the Radical book Web site here.

GIVEAWAY: Leave me a message in the comments telling me what Jesus is worth to you. I’ll choose a random winner on Saturday. Be sure to post your contact information and to check your spam folder.

Disclosure: Multnomah provided me with a free copy of this book to review. I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”