Monday, December 23, 2013

Winter Planning and Even MORE Poetry Resources!
Festus the Fish. (c) Kim M. Bennett, 2013

 "Be Ye Also Ready..."

We have a little betta (or Siamese fighting fish) that my youngest son named Festus. We don't know why. Festus used to live on my son's bookcase but we suspect his little fishy needs got neglected, amid soccer practice, LEGOs and other little boy activities. So I moved his bowl to the center of our dining room table, which might seem like an odd place, but he likes being the center of the action, and we kind of like him, too.

Bettas are labyrinth fish, which means they can breathe air directly, as well as taking in oxygen through their gills. This enables them to live in nearly dried up mud puddles in their native Southeast Asia, awaiting rains that will enable them to, once again, swim freely. It's always good to have a Plan B!

When rain does arrive, it triggers a series of "hurry up before the weather changes" kind of activities in the males. The males begin to blow bubbles in clumps of weeds, which they use to attract eligible bachelorettes, who then lay their eggs in these floating bubble nests. {We see this whenever I change the water in Festus's bowl, because he will spend the next few days happily blowing zillions of bubbles, preparing for the mate he hopes will come.}

It also causes the males to become even more colorful, and to fight intruders, which they do with an impressive display of gill flap flaring and fin raising. Our dinner forks have seen many a battle with Festus as the opponent. He's made a home for his family, and he will go down swinging to defend it!

Winter Plans/2013-14

In the winter, I feel a little bit like Festus must right now.  I am a summer girl, and winter makes me very restless (save this week, when our Connecticut weather soared into the mid-60's and I busted out the flip flops -- yes! -- and my cropped pants once again...).

Thankfully, I like to write, so I make plans and list for the coming months. Here is my "to-do" list for this winter, for this week's "List It Tuesday." How does it compare to yours?

List It Tuesday

1. Make a Seed List for 2014

I miss gardening dearly, so I make plans and seed lists (I subscribe to the Vegetable Garden Planner at Mother Earth News). My goal this year is to use all heirlooms, add companion plants (this worked so well last year), have my salad gardens in the yard, and my other crops in the five community plot beds I use (I wasn't good about getting to my lettuces and peas when they were not right there in front of me).

Other plots include...

  • Tomatoes and tomatillos (with borage, cilantro and parsley)...
  • Black popcorn and fava beans...
  • Chili peppers with sunflowers and nasturtiums...
  • Potatoes, fingerlings, and sweet potatoes, with parsnips, marigolds and alyssum...
  • Carrots/parsnips/peas sharing a plot with okra/eggplants...

2. Painting the Kitchen

I have countless household project lists. This winter, I decided to make monthly "to-do" lists, so that I could budget for purchases and schedule time for bigger things. Right now, I'm preparing to repaint my kitchen in THESE colors...
New Kitchen Colors (via Chip It!)

3. Blogging, Once a Week (or More)

THIS has been successful this month! I have given up on being a slave to a complicated blogging schedule, since I have many other things besides blogging to do! It was stressing me, and taking me away from my family. No bueno.

This month, I have been blogging about preparing  poetry workbooks for next year. I finished the last poetry workbook for next year, which I also saved in an e-book form to share with other teachers, parents and homeschool friends. The third poet for Ambleside Year 6 is Alfred Noyes (the author of the famous poem, "The Highwayman").
"Poetry of Alfred Noyes," (c) Kim M. Bennett. FREE.
 The e-book is 32 pages long, and I will use it in conjunction with Barbara McCoy's poetry analysis pages (they are intended for high school students, but language arts is my youngest son's strength, so will use them for his sixth grade studies, modifying them as needed).  I plan to bind ALL three poetry e-books into one workbook, supplemented with Celtic design pages copywork pages from the Notebooking Treasury (see the banner ad at the bottom of this post for more information on this great resource).

When I get ready to bind it all, I'll share the specifics of how I made this workbook (if you're like me, you need to know the steps!).

In case you missed the previous posts, here are the links to all three poetry e-books:

4. Set Aside One Day for Business

When you own your own business, you can find yourself working every day, all day. So I set aside one day (at least an evening) for business work, whether it's writing, grading assignments, sorting email or doing invoices. That way, what needs to get done, gets done, but doesn't encroach on other areas of life. Like sleep.

This winter, I have been working on writing a policy handbook for one of my clients. It's fun work, it's writing (which I love) and it fits well with my family schedule. From my mouth to God's ear -- this is the kind of work I'd like all the time.

5. Likewise, One Evening for School Work

I try hard not to take teaching work home with me. But we are encouraged NOT to email during instructional hours, so I allow myself one evening a week to do more than an "I'll check into that" email. AND to sort them. Because I hate a full inbox.

6. Take an Old Testament Survey Course

I've recommitted to my Bible course studies, and spent this morning charting out a course of study for myself -- Old Testament Survey this year -- and a schedule that (with God's help and my own dedication) I WILL commit to. As the first step toward completing my Old Testament Survey in 2014, I am taking an Old Testament overview this winter, through Christian Courses. I need to put this as a priority.

7. Homeschool Plans for 2014-15

I'm also beginning the planning of next year's homeschool, partly because we'll be changing up our arrangement next year, and because our son will be entering sixth grade -- which seems like a "big boy" grade to me. We are all excited about the many changes for our family for next year -- we'll keep you posted as they unfold!

As my son is entering 6th grade next year, I wanted more of his work to be independent, so that I could devote the "teacher time" to harder subjects or projects, where he will need more support. Hence, the development of workbooks to help guide him through the studies. This month, in addition to the poetry workbooks, I am developing a history workbook to accompany The Story of the World, Volume 4 (using activities from the corresponding activity book, and other things), and a geography workbook based on The Life of David Livingstone. Stay tuned for more on those in future blog posts.

And More on Thinking Summer Thoughts in Winter...

More wonderful ideas that keep me going until spring...