Monday, August 23, 2010

I've Moooooved!

I've moved! My new blog address is http://www.bethanylebedz.blogspot.com. Pretty please go over there and follow me again. I won't be posting any more new posts here. I'm still "Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom" and I'm still posting homeschool, writing, and organizational content. Hope to see you over there!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Benjamin Franklin's Thirteen Virtues

In order to find out what Benjamin Franklin's Thirteen Virtues are and to find out my recommendations for what to do with them, please visit my NEW BLOG URL HERE. Remember to become a new follower over THERE. Thanks!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

FREE Curriculum Reviews E-Book from TOS


My blog has moved! Please read this whole article (and get the link for your FREE download) at MY NEW BLOG URL! Don't forget to re-follow me over there please!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summer Fun From A to Z (a Molly review)

I've mooooved! Remember? Please check out this fabulous product at my NEW BLOG.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Travel Kits: A Simple Way to Bless Others (review)

I've moved! To read about TOS's fabulous and very creative ideas for making Travel Kits, hop on over to my other blog. Remember to follow me OVER THERE, too!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Importance of Community


My blog has moved! To read this article, please visit my NEW url here. Remember to re-follow the new link please!

This article appeared over in the Heart of the Matter Online community a few weeks ago. The picture above is me (on the left) and a friend from college who also homeschools. We met for a much-needed girlfriends' weekend a few months ago.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Super-Duper Giveaway

Remember how I promised y'all I'd have a big, super-duper giveaway today? Remember how I said I had moved my blog to a new URL (in order to streamline my online presence)? Well, in order to find out what the big, super-duper giveaway is, you have to VISIT MY NEW BLOG and re-follow me over there. You have until Wednesday (July 14) to enter (over there).

Also, for a little while, I'll continue to post article titles and reminders so you can read my posts at MY NEW BLOG. Pretty soon, though, I'll just post a permanent "moved" sign.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

TOS Homeschool Review Crew Announcement & Weekly Blog Walk

Join us every Tuesday            



Drum Roll, please! I haven an announcement: I have joined the TOS Homeschool Review Crew after a year's hiatus. Check back regularly throughout the 2010-2011 school year for helpful reviews of middle and high school curricula and general homeschool products. I'm excited to see what TOS has in store for us this year!



Talk a leisurely stroll through some of my fellow crew mates' blogs. Here are 10 to visit this week. Enjoy!



PLEASE remember to re-follow (or follow for the first time!) my NEW URL. Big giveaway coming next week on the new site only!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Alternatives to Traditional Portfolios

Pretty please remember to re-follow my new blog url! Also remember the totally cool giveaway coming next week only for my new blog followers (on the NEW blog).

Here's today's Heart of the Matter offering:

By now, most of us have heard the party line about the why and the how of assembling traditional portfolios for our homeschooling students. But, some things just can’t be flattened or captured in a photograph. What do we do with large canvas paintings? What about performances by the future ballerina or actor? How do we best showcase the culmination of thousands of hours of practice for our classical pianist?
We use a professional artist’s portfolio for large-scale art projects and we create an electronic portfolio for videos, audios, and multi-media presentations. This is my daughter’s artist’s portfolio. It is the smallest size I could find at a local art supply store (because I’m cheap!), but it has done the trick. I paid less than thirty dollars for it on sale. This will allow you to showcase over-sized drawings, paintings on canvas and other mediums, and other art projects. For a teen who wants to go to art school, an artist’s portfolio is a must.
Here are some links to help you decide which size/brand is best for your artist:
For musicians, if you can afford to do so, set up time at a professional recording studio in order to get the best results. If you can’t afford that, buy cables to connect the instruments or microphone directly into the computer. Several free programs are available online for download that will enable you to record, mix, and save music into different types of files. The quality of the recording is almost as important as the quality of what is actually being recorded, especially if your musician is planning on using these as college entrance auditions. Dancers, actors, and filmmakers can record their performances and dramas directly onto computer files. Again, be sure the sound quality is superb. Also be wary of poor lighting conditions and outside distractions while you’re doing the actual filming.
With an electronic portfolio, students can control who sees which content. They can create CDs to send to people and even create several different CDs with unique recordings as needed. If the files are stored online (securely, of course), students can refer anyone they wish to that website to view its contents. Another benefit of creating an electronic portfolio is that a lot of information can be stored in a small amount of space. It is portable and can be available to more than one person at the same time.
Here are some links that detail the electronic portfolio process:
The more our high schoolers are involved, the more they will take ownership of their portfolios. Besides, teens will probably come up with ideas that we would never have imagined. Enjoy the process and be creative.
Q4U: What creative ideas have you implemented in the portfolio process? Please share them with the rest of us.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Homeschooling 101

 

Are you considering homeschooling, or are you curious and simply want to know more? What if you were offered a commendable, complimentary class on homeschooling taught by experienced educators that included hands-on tools for your personal use? The course is called Homeschool 101 . . . Would you like a front-row seat?

The Old Schoolhouse® is thrilled to share this FREEresource with you--a digital supplement to the Schoolhouse Expo . . . The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine's Homeschool 101 Supplement.


REMEMBER: PLEASE, PLEASE PLEASE hot-foot it over to my new url and re-follow me over there. I'm sorry that's inconvenient, but pretty soon I'm going to discontinue posting at this url. Also, next Monday I will post a fab giveaway, but only over at the new url. Thanks :-)

Friday, July 2, 2010

New URL For My Blog! IMPORTANT

OK, this is take two. I'm changing my blog url to http://www.bethanylebedz.blogspot.com. I'm keeping the name the same: Confessions of an Organized Homeschool Mom. I tried this last week and it flopped as far as my followers go. So, I'm asking all of you to pretty please click on the link above and re-follow me. I'm so sorry to inconvenience y'all, but I promise I'll make it worth your while. I'll host a really FABULOUS giveaway sometime in the next few weeks, but you have to follow my new url. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Comic Relief

I don't know about you, but this has been one looooong week, on top of several other looooong weeks. So, I thought a little comic relief was in order. These have been scavenged off the internet, but I'll give credit where credit is due. Enjoy!









All of these comics are courtesy of http://www.cartoonstock.com/directory/o/organizing.asp.

Q4U: Please drop me a line in my comments section just to let me know that you're still getting my post feeds! I'm a little (okay, a lot) nervous since I changed my blog url. I don't want to ditch my faithful followers! Thanks.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A Change - Yikes!

I just did something even more drastic than my blog makeover: I changed my blog url. I really, really, really hope it doesn't mess everything up and make me lose all my followers. If so, I'm sorry!

The reason I decided to change my blog's url is because I've been reading a lot lately about branding. No, I'm not talking about cows in Texas. (I just know someone will leave me a note saying you don't brand cows or something, but you know what I mean!) "They" strongly suggest that if you're is going to cultivate a strong web presence, which is what I'm trying to do, you should choose a single name and/or image and stick with it. That way, everyone who knows you from one venue will be able to find you elsewhere or be recognize you when they stumble across other online activities in which you're involved. That makes sense to me, but it's harder to implement when I've had my finger in so many different pies and kind of piece-mealed my online activities.

Anyway, if you have more experience than I do in this whole viral campaigning thing, please let me know if I just committed a major gaffe! But it might be too late. Oops.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Introduction to Portfolios

Welcome to all the visitors from the Carnival of Homeschooling, hosted by Janice Campbell this week. Thanks for stopping by.

This is a repeat, I admit it, but it's that time of year again! School's out and you're wondering what to do with the plethora of papers under your dining room table. Or, you know you have to make a portfolio, but you  have no idea how to go about it. In the coming weeks, I'll post more ind-depth directions and thoughts on portfolios, so keep reading!


What does a hard-working homeschooling mom do with all those 3-D projects, art papers, grammar workbooks, math tests? Throw them away? Horrors!! There is an alternative that can make both the “savers” and the “throwers” happy, believe it or not. The solution is to make a portfolio to showcase a selection of each student’s best work throughout the school year. Portfolios are required by law in some states, but they are a good idea for everyone for several reasons: preserving hard work, providing evidence for skeptical grandparents or other family members and friends, planning purposes for younger siblings, and recording grades and/or levels earned.
                                    
A meritorious portfolio does not include every single assignment from every single subject. It includes a representation, which has the best writing samples, the best test scores, the best artwork, the best notebooking pages, and the best worksheet pages. It also includes pictures of 3-D projects, field trips, and other activities that can’t be condensed to a single written document.

To grade or not to grade? That debate is a whole separate subject which is goes far beyond the scope of this entry. But, if you choose not to give actual grades or not to fill out a report card (or its equivalent), then a portfolio becomes even more important.  A portfolio gives physical evidence that little Johnny really is a genius – just like you always thought!

The easiest way to make a portfolio to do all along, but it’s never too late to start. My preference is to take my children’s binders (again, a different topic, but I’ll get to that one eventually) about once a month, choose papers to go into the portfolio and trash the rest, unless they’re needed for a later test. Older students who have final exams may benefit from having some of the papers not needed on an every day basis sorted and put into another binder kept on a shelf for future reference.

That’s the ideal. However, I fully realize that it’s June and most of you are just ending your school years. If you’ve got piles, cartons, or binders stuffed full of papers all over your dining room table, that’s OK! Take it one pile at a time. Sort by subject, then by date, then choose the best page or two out of every 10 or 20. Use dividers to separate each subject. Have each child decorate the front of his or her binder, add the year and grade, and you’ve got a portfolio!

I'm currently working on an e-book dedicated to portfolios, so if you have any bright ideas, drop me a line, I'd love to incorporate some of them!

Q4U: What do YOU do with all the artwork, papers, tests, and projects that accumulate throughout the school year?


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Blog Makeover

Please come check out my blog's new look! When I logged on the other day, I was delighted to discover that Blogger now has push-button design tools. No more experimenting with html code to widen the display--yay! I was able to try different colors and backgrounds with just a mouse click. I also re-organized my sidebar and tried to remove some of the extraneous stuff.

Want to try it on your own blog? Go ahead; it's practically fail proof. Hey, if I can do it, anyone can do it!

No, it's not a custom-designed look, but I can't afford that right now. I was ready for a change, and I got it. So, tell me what you think.

Q4U: Will you try out a new design (or just tweaking what you have) on your own blog?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Home Sweet Home (Business) - a Molly review


Many homeschool/stay-at-home moms want to earn a little money on the side to help out financially or to provide some extras that just aren’t in the family budget. Just as many moms get stuck on what type of business to start and how to start it. Molly to the rescue! Normally, Molly’s Money-Saving Digests focus on ways to save money, but this issue focuses on ways to make money instead. Since I’m co-owner of a small business and work part-time from home in addition to homeschooling, these thoughts are near and dear to my heart. Molly interviews several adults and teens who have successful home businesses; you can learn from their thoughts and ideas.

If your young entrepreneurs want to make some extra money this summer, Molly’s got a whole section just for them! She has age-appropriate ideas, a list of things to do, how to advertise, and helpful links.

The fun, summertime extras included in this month’s digest include a rainbow salad and other unique summer salads, little-known holidays to celebrate, printable forms to help you decide what kind of home-based business is best for you (or your teen), directions on making decorative tassels, a mouth-watering menu for a week (including the shopping list), creative up-cycling projects, and more.

Check out Molly’s Econobusters website for more great money-saving tips. You can also join Molly’s special members’-only site for even more articles, ideas, and freebies. It’s only $3.95/month for a subscription, less than the $4.95 for just the digest!

Click your way over to The Old Schoolhouse Store to purchase Home Sweet Home (Business), Molly’s June 2010 Money-Saving Digest.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, 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.”

Monday, June 7, 2010

Desk Organizers for Mom



Update on my new desk: I still love it! Unfortunately, the cats think it's a great spot to sit and look out the window, so I'm constantly cleaning it off.

When I bought my new desk, I decided to splurge and buy new desk accessories to go with it. Fortunately, since I was shopping at Ikea, I didn't have to spend a ton of money to get the sophisticated look I wanted. The receipt got trashed, so I can't tell you how much they cost, but they were between $3-$9 each, I think. I chose three items from the STRIKT line in a deep burgundy. They're cloth covered and perfectly complement the color of the walls and curtains in our school room. They contrast nicely with the white desk as well.

Set one is 2 magazine holders that nest inside each other. I used them for curricula catalogs and some spiral-bound books that don't stand up on their own. Set two has 4 boxes that nest inside each other: 2 small boxes for paper clips, tacks, glue stick, lip balm, etc., 1 long box for pencils and pens, 1 slightly larger square box for my stapler, tape, etc. The third item from STRIKT was a large, shallow box that I use for my colored pencils (yes, I have my own set!), my business cards, cute notepaper, etc.

I also got a set of 2, white, CD-size boxes by KASSETT from Ikea. In one I have CDs for my computer, and in the other I have my labeler (I could write a whole post about my labeler;
I love it that much!) and cords for my various electronic things.

I must say that I was disappointed in the STRIKT products because I was hoping they'd fit on the shelf underneath the glass on my desk, but only the pencil case is shallow enough. Oh well. I figured out how to make them all fit onto one side of my shelves, so it all worked out.

On top of my desk, I have a wicker basket (that's actually an old one that I had in my previous desk) for small notepads, stickers, and bookmarks. I found a nice, red, glass vase at Ikea for less than $2 that is perfect for scissors and rulers. At Hobby Lobby, I found an adorable black and white tin bucket to put my pens and pencils in. Actually, my daughter found it
while we were shopping for party favors for her 15th birthday party, but that's just semantics!


So, now I have a large, classy, comfortable work area. I love it! What do you think?

Q4U: Tell me about your favorite desk organizers.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

My Blog Featured!


I've just been informed that my blog has been featured on OnlineDegree.net's post "50 Best Blogs to Organize Everything in Your Life." Cool! And, for all of you, my faithful readers, you can check out the other 49 blogs to help you get organized in other areas of your life. Enjoy! And, THANK YOU for following and reading my blog!

Back to our regularly scheduled posts . . . soon. As soon as I get my scheduling act together, that is.

Disclosure 1: No Material Connection. I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. 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.”

Q4U: Which of the blogs listed in the above article did you find to be most useful and why? After my blog, of course!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

What Happens

Oops--just noticed that it's been over a week since I posted anything! So, it's time for a true confession: that's what happens when life happens, even in the home of the very organized homeschool mom. I just ran out of time to write ahead, so my blog was the first thing to go.

Maybe that's the real lesson here. Sometimes it's okay to let the non-essentials slide for a short season. It's okay not to obsess about doing everything to perfection all the time to the detriment of, say, one's mental health and family obligations.

Q4U: What's the first thing you let slide when you just run out of time or energy?

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Homeschooling Breeds Precocious . . . Cats

Here's what you'll find over at Heart of the Matter Online today by yours truly:

When my oldest daughter, Meghan, was four years old, we discovered that she was allergic to cats (and grass and dust). Uh oh. We were very attached to our feline lap warmer and just couldn’t see giving him up. We decided to try keeping the door to my daughter’s bedroom closed so that she would at least have a fur-free place to sleep. That worked . . . except when it didn’t. Meghan continually forgot to close her door.

As I was scolding her yet again and reiterating the importance of keeping the cat out of her room so that she wouldn’t have an asthma attack, she came up with the perfect solution: “I’ll just post a sign on my door that says ‘Willy, keep out’!” After I gained control of my giggles, I informed her that wouldn’t work because cats can’t read.

Again, Meghan came up with the ideal answer: “Then I’ll just teach him to read!” She was very proud of her reading skills and was sure that she would be able to teach Willy how to read in no time flat. Ah, to have the innocence and confidence of a four-year-old again! The sign Meghan posted at the cat’s eye level on her door lasted longer than her efforts to teach Willy to read.

As homeschoolers, we have the ability to instill in our children that same confidence in their abilities. We can give our children the gift of knowledge to pass along to whomever—or whatever—they wish. How do we accomplish this? By not squashing their natural exuberance for passing along their lessons. By encouraging them to explore the world at their level. By giving them the tools they need to learn. By teaching them in the way that they learn best, which isn’t necessarily the way we learn or teach best. By letting them post signs to the cat on their door.

Want to foster precocious children? Let them teach their cats to read!



Thursday, May 20, 2010

Life, In Spite of Me (review)

Wow. Powerful. Heartfelt. Gripping. Those are my reactions to Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Anderson, as told to Tricia Goyer. I know I’m supposed to write the synopsis first, but this was such an excellent book that I couldn’t resist giving my reactions first. If you have teenagers or work with teenagers or even just know teenagers, run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of this book.

Deep depression, despair, and a lack of hope are usually what drive teens to commit suicide. But, what happens when suicide is attempted but not achieved? Kristen writes candidly about her transformation from a rebellious girl who made a fatal choice to a joyful young woman. She offers extraordinary hope for those who feel they have nothing to live for. Kristen also offers sensitive advice to adults who are trying to help depressed teens.

Here’s a link to download chapter one. You’ll be so hooked that you’ll have to scurry on over to the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group to buy your own copy of the book to find out what happens! If you prefer, you can view the video trailer here.

This is the part of the review when I’m supposed to announce that I have a giveaway for y’all. Here’s a true confession (haven’t had one in a while, it’s about time): I did receive an extra copy to give away, but I’m going to give it to our youth pastor at church instead. That’s ok, right?

This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New Desk!

Just so y'all know how seriously I take my readers' comments and requests for future posts, I went to Ikea yesterday and bought a new desk--for myself! Of course, I had to have new organizing accessories to go with it, too, but I'll review those another time.

This is the Vika Gruvan table top (white wood with a divider in the middle, closed on the ends, but open on the width) on top of the Vika Fagerlid table leg with storage (comes in white or birch). I chose it because of the extra storage underneath the glass top and the bookshelf-type legs.

I managed to wrangle the boxes onto the cart myself and put them in the car almost by myself, but my husband had to help me carry the top in. That box was heavy! I started to put the legs together by myself and I probably could have figured out the little picture thingies, but my hubby volunteered to help. I forgot to time us to see how long it took, but probably between 30-60 minutes from car to setup. Putting the legs together really was a one-person job, but setting the desktop and then the glass on top of that is definitely a two-person job.

So far, I love it! The surface area is easily twice as big as my old desk (you can see a picture of it here). Almost all of the books I had in the upper hutch fit onto the lower shelves of the new desk. The new containers house all of the things I had in the drawers previously. I love that I can actually see while I'm grading papers now. Previously, I felt like I was stuck in a cave. The only thing I don't like so far is that either the glass can stay clean or I can use my new desk. Oh well. I think I can live with just one more tiny thing to obsess over. In case anyone is wondering, yes, I will also obsess over keeping everything under the glass totally straight and organized. For real. Just ask my kids.
Q4U: What do you use for a desk for yourself?

Disclosure: No Material Connection. I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. 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.”


Friday, May 14, 2010

Centsible Celebrations (a Molly review)

Over the next few months, my family has been invited to two graduations and a wedding shower. In addition, we have a slew of summer birthdays and holidays that we like to celebrate with our friends by hosting bbq/swim parties. I can’t wait to use Molly’s thrifty ideas to make this year’s events fun and frugal! Maybe I’ll try one of her pretty gift basket projects, too.

A Molly digest wouldn’t be complete without printable organization forms, a week’s worth of menus and a shopping list to go with it, a special section on fresh produce (it’s time for farmers’ markets again), resources and links, and creative ideas to feather your nest frugally.

The May Digest is available for download on the Member's site and is available in the store shortly. You'll especially enjoy this issue that focuses on gift-giving, celebrations and parties.

Look for some great freebies in the special Member's-Only Page as well. This month is all about frugal celebrations! Here is a small sneak peek at some of the free downloads you will receive along with your May Digest.
• Tons of freezer cooking goodies
• Wedding freebies (along with tips, ideas, and frugal gifts)
• Inexpensive Organization E-book (creative organization ideas)
• A Baby Shower for Jesus E-book (encouragement for Moms)
• Mother's and Father's Day ideas
• Ideas for hospitality and parties
• A Free Kids' Cookbook
• And more!

You get all of that for only $3.95! If you have not signed up to become a Molly Member, what are you waiting for? If you purchase the Digest alone, it is $4.95! Why not save a dollar and get all the above to boot? It is $1.00 cheaper than buying the Digest and they get SO much more. Here is the link to the sign-up sheet.

Here is the link to buy just Molly’s Centsible Celebrations May Digest from the TOS store.

Disclosure: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, 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.”


Inspirational Zingers Jumble (review)

I found the cure for road-trip boredom! It’s Tyndale’s new Inspirational Zingers Jumble book. With six kinds of puzzles, including Jumbles, Double Jumbles, Mystery Person Jumbles, Word Search Jumbles, Super Jumbles, and Criss-Cross Jumbles, there’s something for everyone. It has inspirational quotes from well-known people, Bible verses, interesting trivia, and more. This 200-puzzle book will keep the whole family entertained over the hill and through the woods to grandmother’s house this summer.

Disclosure: Tyndale 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.”