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I Graduated!

Where have I been? What have I been up to? Where am I going from here? Well, here are a few answers.

The most exciting news of this past spring is that I finally finished my master’s in English degree from East Carolina University! YAY!! It took three reeeaaaaallllyyyy lllllooooooooonnnngggg years, but it was worth it (at least, I hope it will be!). I already have a part-time job as an adjunct English professor at our local community college, which I love. However, I really need a full-time job now, so I’m busy looking for one.

Where else am I headed? Well, I’ve decided to keep this blog as is for now and continue posting homeschool and organizational stuff as well as reviews here. I’ve started a new blog, too, to talk about the rest of what happened to me this past year. It’s called Just Bethany: Reinventing Myself. Feel free to check it out.

change, college, homeschool

Collecting for College

This coming fall (gulp!!), my older daughter heads away to a 4-year college. You’d think I’d be used to the idea because this is what we homeschoolers work towards for 12 years, right? Well, my heart is not ready for her to go away, but I’ve already started getting her stuff ready to leave the nest.

This is a large, plastic, storage bin. I commandeered it to start collecting the myriad of odds and ends that she’ll be taking with her. Just in case she had ideas of throwing other junk in there, I labeled it. I don’t have the money to buy her all-new stuff in August, so it works better for me to buy things a little at a time. So far, the container has a lint roller and a spray bottle of the homemade cleaner we use.

Other items I plan to add to the container: dishes and utensils (for 1), bed and bath linens, extra personal care items, Command hooks, laundry detergent, a small sewing kit (I can hope, right?), a first-aid kit, and over-the-door hooks. I’m sure we’ll think of other things, too, along the way. I found a really helpful, FREE college shopping checklist at Bed, Bath & Beyond. It’s available on their website at bedbathandbeyond.com/shopforcollege.

When August comes, all of her extra stuff (besides clothes and electronics) will be ready to go.

Q4U: Have you sent a child off to college already? What am I missing?

about me, homeschool

My 2012 Summer Speaking Engagements (Including Online)

I never set out in life to be a speaker. In fact, I’m not quite sure how it even happened that people actually ask me to speak now. I’m humbled and surprised. But I’m not beyond begging my loyal blog readers to show up (if you’re local) or to listen online. I’d hate to be talking to empty room!

First of all, I know it’s past, but I just wanted to let y’all know that I spoke with my friend Bonita Lillie at NCHE, North Carolina Home Educator’s State Conference, this past May. Our topic was “Organization for Right-Brained and Left-Brained Homeschoolers,” and we had a blast with it. In case you couldn’t guess, I was the left-brained one, and Bonita was the right-brained one.


Up-Coming Local Speaking Engagements:
July 13, 12:45 p.m., HINTS Book Fair, Matthews, NC, “PrePlan for Your Best Homeschool Year Ever”
August 4, all day, Love to Learn Homeschool Conference, Charlotte, NC, “PrePlan for Your Best Homeschool Year Ever” and “Organize Your Homeschool”
August 25, time and venue TBD, Pinehurst, NC, “Personal Organization” with the Domestic Diva


Up-Coming ONLINE Speaking Engagement:
August 6, 3 p.m., ONLINE, Heart of the Matter Online Fall Homeschool Conference, theme “Beginning with the End in Mind,” exact title TBD


Interested in having me speak at your event? Please see my website for details (click the “Writing, Editing, & Speaking” tab, then choose “Speaking”). 

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What It Takes to be a Good Online Student

Going back to school after you’ve been out for a while is scary. At least, it was for me. I entered college at age 17, full of dreams and plans to save the world as a social worker. Then I graduated and had to get a job to pay the rent. I found a social work job, but I didn’t think I could change the world anymore. I worked for two years, then started the job that never ends and really does change the world: motherhood. Somewhere between changing diapers and clutching the door handle of my car for dear life with a teen driver, I started writing and editing. I figured out that I really liked it. Then I figured out that to advance any in that field, I should return to school for a master’s degree in English. I waded through the hundreds of online choices, applied to a state school, and got accepted. Then I panicked!

School means studying, writing papers, and reading textbooks. In the world of online studies, it also means posting on the Blackboard (without the chalky mess of our childhoods), emailing questions to an unseen professor, and navigating Internet research materials. All of this happens in between driving the family taxi, cooking dinner, working, and a slew of other responsibilities.

How do I juggle it all? Very carefully! First of all, I am now the not-so-proud owner of brand new dust bunnies. I’ve had to lower many of my housekeeping expectations. Second of all, I recruit help; my teenagers do their own laundry, clean their own bathroom, and cook dinner occasionally. Third, I carved out a space where I can close the door to concentrate on my school work. Oh, it’s technically a shared office/school room, but when they’re done at the end of the day, I can put out my do-not-disturb sign.

So, what do I do with my do-not-disturb time? Not Facebook, not email, and not blogging. At least, not much. I dedicate the quieter times to the longer papers that take real concentration and the confusing textbooks that require my full attention. I do my best not to multitask during that time so that I can really focus on my schoolwork in order to make the most of my time.

I wish I could say I can get everything done when I’m locked in my own little space, but I can’t. I often take my reading to gymnastics and my paper drafts to waiting rooms. I’ve learned to check out the discussion forums while dinner is cooking.

This whole process is not easy. I’d much rather be reading a novel than a technical editing textbook on the way to the shore. I’d rather sleep on the long drive home for Thanksgiving than be working on a project due in a few weeks. But, it will all be worth it a year and a half from now when I hold that master’s of English degree in my hand!

Do you have a dream to back to school or maybe to go to college for the first time? You can do it! It takes a lot of discipline and a lot of determination, but it can be done. Go for it!

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What I Did Yesterday Instead of Writing Blog Posts

I rearranged the furniture–again! A few months ago, I had moved my office stuff into the guest room so that I could close the door on the TV, warring radio stations, and door slammings. Well, I realized that just was not going to work too well for school (which starts today), so now Emily has a school desk in my office/guest room. Don’t worry, Mum and Dad, there’s still plenty of room for when you come to visit us!

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10 Days of Organization . . . Coming Soon!

I am thrilled to announce that I will be part of Heart of the Matter Online‘s super-duper blog hop from February 7-18th (excluding weekends)! I’ll be posting 10 BRAND-NEW posts on homeschool organization! I invite you to check out my friends’ blogs as well; see all of the amazing topics we’ll be coving next month.

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 tots |  Mama Jenn

10 days of preschool |  Delightful Learning

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10 Reasons to Go Digital

If you’re reading this post, you have access to a computer and the Internet. If you have access to a computer and the Internet, you have access to a tremendous array of digital calendars and organizers–many of them for free. So, why aren’t you taking advantage of them?

Let me help you out here by detailing some of the benefits of going digital, at least with your calendar.

1. You’re less likely to lose your calendar than you are to lose a small planner.
2. You don’t need whiteout or an eraser to update a computer calendar
3. Most cell phones (even without an Internet connection) have calendars so you always have it with you
4. Google, Yahoo, and other calendars will sync with your smart phone so you always have access to your events and on multiple computers
5. You update once, automatically change all of your digital calendars AND never rewrite birthdays again
6. You can print out daily, weekly, and/or monthly calendars with your events already added
7. You can color code most computer calendars for different family members or types of appointments
8. You can share your online calendar with your family members
9. Digital calendars can remind you of appointments and to-do items
10. Catch up with the rest of the digitized population 🙂

My favorite computer calendar is with Google, in case any of y’all were wondering. And yes, I do sync it with my smartphone and check it regularly and before making any commitments.

Q4U: What are your top reasons or tips for going digital with your calendar?

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Help Me Write a Book

Would you like to see a lot of the great organizing tips in one helpful book format? Great, me too! In order to make it the most helpful for you, my faithful readers, I’d like to get your feedback on some specifics.

These are the current topics I have slated. Am I missing anything vital?
1. Getting Started Organizing
2. Setting Up a Physical Space
3. Top Tools of Homeschool Organization
4. More Tools of the Trade
5.  Taming the Paper Monster
6. Setting Up a Binder System
7. Setting Up a Filing System
8. Organizing Computer Files
9. Demystifying Portfolios
10. Creating Portfolios
11. Planning for the Long Haul
12. Scheduling for the Overcommitted
13. Keeping It Organized

What is the perfect number of pages per chapter to read for a how-to book?

I’m sure I’ll have more questions for y’all soon, but if you could PLEASE help me out now by leaving me some comments, I would really appreciate it!

Guess my original post on this topic got lost in the shuffle right before Christmas because I didn’t get any feedback! So, I’m rerunning it in hopes of garnering some comments.

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Reflections and Motivations

I read a challenging blog post by Rachelle Gardner the other day that talked about the motivations behind goals and resolutions. I think I’m going to try that approach this year.

Resolutions flop too easily, and I hate the feeling of defeat when I have chocolate cake instead of celery on January 2. Goals feel more attainable, but aren’t always realistic. Sure, I’d love to have my book published in 2011, but will that really happen?

Besides, by addressing my underlying motivations, I can constantly evaluate whether or not a particular activity–or even thought pattern–will help or hinder my true desires. So, here’s what I really want for my life to be in 2011:

Peaceful
Effective
Healthy
Energetic
Thoughtful
More spiritually mature

Q4U: What are some of your underlying motivations for the new year? Will you still make resolutions?

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Help Me Write a Book

Would you like to see a lot of the great organizing tips in one helpful book format? Great, me too! In order to make it the most helpful for you, my faithful readers, I’d like to get your feedback on some specifics.

These are the current topics I have slated. Am I missing anything vital?

1. Getting Started Organizing
2. Setting Up a Physical Space
3. Top Tools of Homeschool Organization
4. More Tools of the Trade
5.  Taming the Paper Monster
6. Setting Up a Binder System
7. Setting Up a Filing System
8. Organizing Computer Files
9. Demystifying Portfolios
10. Creating Portfolios
11. Planning for the Long Haul
12. Scheduling for the Overcommitted
13. Keeping It Organized

What is the perfect number of pages per chapter to read for a how-to book?

I’m sure I’ll have more questions for y’all soon, but if you could PLEASE help me out now by leaving me some comments, I would really appreciate it!