The Week Ahead

We have decided to take our first “break week” of homeschooling this fall. That doesn’t mean we won’t be doing some “school” activities, but it does mean we won’t be so rigorous about checking off all the things. Tomorrow, we’ll go to the library and I hope to spend a lot of time outdoors this week since it’s finally feeling like fall in north Texas!

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I have a few different challenges going on, which used to stress me out, but now is super helpful to keep me on track and accountable. I’ve got Last 90 days challenge from Rachel Hollis, I’m doing the new Glute Guide from Lauren Gleisburg along with the Tone It Up 21 day challenge for workouts. I’ve got lots of planning and prepping to do for homeschool plans through Thanksgiving break. I’m also trying to finish up a month long minimalism game I was doing in September (but clearly fell behind on).

Tonight, I’ve still go to sit down and plan out the week. I need to find a different time to do this. I always wait until the weekend because that makes the most sense in my brain, but our weekends are usually full because we try to spend time with family and friends. Maybe I can try to do it on Friday? How do you plan? As it comes? Week by week? Day by Day?

This week, I’ll be sharing about the last 90 days challenge, what school activities we take on, any fun fall activities we do, as well as what I’m learning or checking off of my powersheets!

Happy second week of October!

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Last 90 Days Challenge Days 1-5

When I found out that the Chic Site was doing a last 90 days challenge for 2017, I was all in because of a couple reasons:

  1. I love a good challenge- it’s in my design to love a good checklist and to want to see a challenge in front of me to take on. I’m not actually all that great at finishing all of them. I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older to have a good dose of reality and grace (without making excuses).
  2. The “why” behind it made a lot of sense- much like the “love of challenges” I have, I have a love for new year’s resolutions, but a look at the statistics of completing those isn’t great. It wasn’t until Powersheets this year that I’ve actually made progress on goals throughout a whole year. This challenge is all about going into the new year with momentum instead of mailing it in and saying “I’ll do better once the new year arrives.”
  3. The last challenge she did at the beginning of the year was helpful- It was New Year, Do You (instead of New You) in recognition of the fact that you’ve got to set good goals for yourself in order to accomplish them.

I was SUPER excited about that my husband is even doing it with me and this first week was all about perseverance. 01.jpg

I decided to post this graphic every day for 90 days. It’s the 5 to Thrive List, personalized to me. The items are that you should get up one hour earlier and use that time for you, drink half your body weight in ounces of water, give up a food category you know you shouldn’t eat, workout for 30 minutes a day (even if it’s just a walk) and write down 10 things every day that you’re grateful for. The first day was exciting and of course, I got it all in.

This graphic was one I saved from the Chic Site email to refer back to and it’s so true. What was interesting is that on Thursday, I listened to a podcast interview with Jon Acuff and his new book is called Finish, and he talked about how just finishing the things you start makes you drastically different than most people around you.

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The second day was the first day I didn’t get everything in. Not only did I not get my water in, I had a Dr. Pepper at Bible Study. But I didn’t look at this day as a failure. I forgot to pour out Monday’s coffee from the pot (so the cups I made Tuesday morning just mixed in with the old and let me tell you, it didn’t taste good). I also got focused on helping a friend organize her garage and forgot to be drinking water. I did get my workout in (chest + back workout from Lauren Gleisberg), I did get up on time, and I did journal 10 things I’m grateful for in my Day One App. On Tuesday morning, Rachel had reminded us that this challenge isn’t about perfection or we wouldn’t be here. If we could all do these things perfectly, we wouldn’t need to be challenged to do them. I was not making excuses- just trying to be real because it would have been super easy to leave those checkmarks on that graphic from the first day and just not really bring it up. No one I know in real life is actually doing this with me, except my husband, and he isn’t on social media. So the lesson is re-learned: I’ve got to be much more proactive on busier scheduled-days than on our normal days where we spend more time at home.

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On Day 3, I was able to learn from my mistakes and be proactive in getting everything done. My big takeaway from the day before had proven what Rachel (sure, I’m just assuming that she’s okay with me calling her “Rachel” like we’re friends in real life) had gone over in her video about having to push through the habits and patterns you have to create new ones.

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Despite having one of those more difficult parenting days, I was able to prove to myself that I could still take care of myself. I didn’t have to use that as an excuse to throw everything I know I should do out the window and just make bad decisions. Using my bigger water bottle helps me drink more water. Having my workouts scheduled out for the week takes out the daily decision (aka opportunity to make up excuses not to do it) of figuring out what to do and it is super helpful. On Wednesday, I did Glutes & Cardio from Lauren Gleisberg and Yoga Booty on the Tone It Up Studio app. It was easier to get up early when you want alone time so badly that you’ll do anything for it. I use my silent alarm so I don’t disrupt my husband. Drinking more water made it easier to say “no” to Dr. Pepper. I did so twice without it being a big deal. I’ve loved focusing on one gratitude point for each day and finding other things about that. For instance, Wednesday night we went to church and we’re going through a study on marriage. Most of my list of gratitude stems from that- I’m thankful for marriage, that I’m married to my husband, I’m thankful for the grace he offers me daily, for how hard he works to provide for us, etc. etc. etc. Perseverance- fixed in direction in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

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Thursday came, the week is almost over, the newness is kind of wearing off. I did not get a workout in that day, but I got everything else in. This is also the day I heard that podcast interview about finishing well, and I remembered a point I heard from Lara Casey. It’s about more than just being able to finish something you start. It’s about starting the things that matter.

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When you know that real life change is happening and you want it to happen, pushing through the hard becomes the gift of character and perseverance to keep on doing hard things. We go into these days working as hard as we can that day, not remembering failures or striving for perfection, just doing the next thing in front of us.

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Friday, we had a full day of homeschool co-op and errands, but I took my giant water bottle around with me. I still got up early, still avoided Dr. Pepper, and got a workout in (albeit later in the day) and have loved using my Day One app to journal in. I’m considering figuring out how to save to get the subscription so I can use it on my computer too (it’s so much easier to type on my computer!)

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The first 5 days are done and a new challenge is coming tomorrow and then the second theme next week! Can’t wait!

September Powersheets Wrap Up

I kept things pretty simple for September as a kind of reset from the hard summer after our move. We focused on making new habits and rhythms in our new season so there wasn’t a lot of focus on big goals.

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Where I Made Progress

My monthly goals were taking care of some planning for end of life, which sounds super depressing, make an actual visual for savings and debt payoff tracking, make a fall bucket list, and take the first step on respite care. We had some hard conversations and took some of those first steps needed (which a lot of time is just getting on the same page with your spouse) on the end of life stuff and respite care, so now some actual first actions steps are going to be made. I did make the visual trackers for our savings and debt payoff and made a bucket list for October.

My husband and I were able to be involved with our small group at church and also find some time each week for just us, even if it was just at home and nothing fancy.

Where I Need Tending

I am still having trouble with making my daily goals more than my daily habits (which I track in an app) and so I fell off the bandwagon in checking my tending list every day.

I’m Grateful For

We did make some real progress in the whole learning how to read thing with my 5 year old. He started reading some CVC words on his own and getting some blend sounds memorized.

A Favorite Memory

My son is loving playing soccer (even though he doesn’t quite fully understand) and I got to go one last getaway with my mother-in-law and her sisters and nieces for some shopping and pampering.

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October Monthly Goals

I’ve made my October bucket list so I hope to get those crossed off.

  • Decorate our house for halloween- my son, for some odd reasons, loves halloween. We have never made a big deal about it outside of trick or treating and dressing up, but he has been asking to move from an apartment to a house so we can get those giant inflatables for our yard. I want to make this season for him and involve him in decorating without spending a lot of time or involving a lot of stress (which means letting go of pinterest perfectness).
  • Go to a pumpkin patch
  • Go trick or treating
  • Go to a football game
  • Go on a fall nature walk
  • Go camping
  • Bake a fall treat
  • Roast S’mores

Take first research steps on finding an agency to do respite care through

Track and make progress on savings and debt payoff.

Weekly Goals

Weekly Date Nights with Jim

Weekly Re-Engage Homework

Weekly Inductive Bible Study Homework

Daily Goals

The last 90 days challenge (For more on that, go here or go to to Rachel Hollis’ Facebook page.

Fall challenge (which is kind of an extension of the challenge listed above) from Lauren Gleisberg.

Using my productive app to build some streaks in habit making.

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Homeschool Week Review (Week 7)

Here’s a recap and some deeper explanations of what we’re doing on a regular basis during our homeschool days at home. If you have any questions, leave me a comment or find me on instagram (at) sarahjohnsondaily : )

Math

We’re using Saxon Math K this fall. I found that my son was ahead of assigned work in My Father’s World (MFW) pretty consistently so we needed to add in something extra, but that wasn’t too much extra because #balance. We’re supposed to do 3 lessons per week, with calendar meetings the other days, but I did go ahead and skip some lessons, again, because my son happens to be “ahead” in math right now. Our regular calendar meeting that happens involves pointing out each part of the calendar and identifying month, date, day of the week and year. We’re also working on constructing a very basic pattern. The lessons we’ve done were looking closely at pattern block (which is his new favorite thing- I even took a small box of them to a restaurant this week so he could play with them after the meal so adults could talk). We also looked at teddy bear counters and using one-to-one correspondence in counting. Oh, we also made our first pictograph counting the number of girls and boys in our family (we counted our dogs).

The plan for next week is to complete Lessons 10 & 11 and complete the calendar meetings each day. We’ll come back to Lessons 8 & 9 in October when there’s some money back in the homeschool budget to buy Linking Cubes. Lessons 10 and 11 are more practice with counting with one-to-one correspondence and making a graph using teddy bear counters.

Handwriting

The beauty of homeschooling is that we can be ahead and adding on some extra stuff to challenge my son in one area (like math, see above), and then be using an activity or curriculum or tool that’s technically “below” him to help in an area where he isn’t as proficient (like handwriting, continue reading).

We’re using the Handwriting Without Tears My First School Book that’s for handwriting readiness. This is technically a preschool book, not kinder, and his kinder curriculum has handwriting included in it, but he’s just not there yet. We still do the handwriting assignments for practice in the curriculum, but I’m not super strict about the way he completes it and we add in a page from this handwriting book. This week we’re moving past more “motor control” to tracing lines and getting familiar with the correct ways to write the letters.

My Father’s World

This is the center of our homeschool curriculum and day. We use this for our Language Arts, Read Alouds, and Subject learning. Each week, there are read alouds from a book list in the back, handwriting page, sound discrimination pages, cut and paste pages and a math page, all revolving around the letter(s) we have learned and learning necessary skills (like using scissors and glue) and lots of and lots of practice blending letters and doing repetitive tasks surrounding sounds in order to teach my son how to read.

This past week we finished up letter “Oo” Octopus. I would have liked to be able to go to an aquarium, but it’s a couple of hours away and didn’t work with our schedule this week. We did play with our water beads, use paint in a ziploc bag for an extra tactile letter writing activity, and read the books Swimmy, A House for Hermit Crab, Otto is Different, Octopus Under the Sea, and Fishy Tale. 

IMG_0051.JPGNext week, we move to the letter “Ww” and will be learning about water.

Extra Notes

This past week, I started typing out my son’s assignments with check boxes to fix having to ask the question that gets asked daily, if not multiple times a day: “how many more things do we have to do?” This helps him visually see where we’re at on our plan for the day. We don’t sit down and do all of our schoolwork at one time some days, so it’s nice to be able to say “let’s check off 3 boxes, and then we can take a break.”

For Bible, we’re using my son’s Awana book with a Charlotte Mason style of verse memorization and looping that I just found last week. We also add in fun activities from the Homegrown Preschooler curriculum (like water beads, a pretend hot air balloon ride, and homemade playdough).

Our Ideal Day

I’m learning how to have ideals but hold them loosely. Unmet expectations have really gotten to me in the past, and I’ve realized as of late just how much they get to me. Actually, only recently have I been able to name that I do get frustrated when my ideals go to the wayside and see it as a way I was being selfish and controlling.

Being a planner and having goals is okay, and even good. It’s holding onto those goals and ideas so tightly that can get us in trouble. Even more so, being strict about the right way(s) to achieve those things can bring a lot of frustration. At almost thirty-two years old, I’ve learned that I can be purposeful and even determined in a goal, but must be flexible with the methods and timeline to achieve it.

When we set our fall routine into motion, I asked my husband what he thought our ideal day at home should look like. He’s not here doing the homeschooling and home-keeping, but it doesn’t mean he can’t have input into what it looks like. As the leader of our home, he has entrusted me with much of what goes on inside the walls of our apartment, but I know myself enough to know that I can be too idealistic to be left to my own devices. I welcomed his input and together, we came up with a schedule for our ideal day.

Let me emphasize that this is a schedule for our family, and that if you’re looking for some tracks to lay for your day, that you should do that within your family culture. I have far too often taken on other’s ideals or goals without realizing it and then travel down the road of frustration from unmet expectations with the added struggle in that God had never intended for me to carry and try to live up to those expectations. I wouldn’t want that frustration for you.

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Ideally, here’s how our day would go:

6 am- My husband and I have our “me” time in the morning to do workouts, Bible Study, and just have some quiet. Realistically, sometimes we sleep in if we were up late or during the night with our son. We’ve actually schedule nights/mornings of who is on duty to put our son to bed and be up with him during the night if it happens and in the mornings. This means that on my days, I should be able to get a good night’s sleep and be able to wake up when I want to in order to get my self-care time in.

8 am- My son wakes up and has breakfast and screen time. Sure, I would rather him not start the day with a screen, but we’ve made big progress on limiting screens throughout the day, so we’ve kept this habit in there. It also gives us extra time in the morning to finish up preparing for the day. Around 9 is when my husband leaves for work. Soon after we’ll shut down screen time for the day until 4 pm.

10 am- Ideally, we start school. Sometimes it happens, but sometimes, if my son is playing contentedly alone with his toys, I let it go. It’s more important for me right now that he has that time to play and imagine than forcing him to do school work. So far, in the two months we’ve been doing school, we haven’t had a day where we ran out of time to get everything done. If that starts happening, we’ll revisit having a hard start time for schoolwork. We’ll also have lunch in here somewhere.

1 pm- We’re a one-car family, so we take my husband back to work and then either come back home to get school work finished up or go run our errands. When we get home, my son has more free time to play.

4 pm- Screens are now allowed again and we’ll pick my husband up from work. Once we get home, we’ll cook and eat dinner, have baths or workouts for whoever didn’t get to get one in that morning, and then wind down for bed.

New Menu Plan

For this month, we’re trying something new around our home when it comes to answering the question “what’s for dinner?” You could also sub in breakfast and lunch in that question as well.

I hate the whole process of meal planning and grocery shopping. It never works out exactly as planned, then something is wasted, whether it’s money or food, and you’re trying to do the right thing by eating lean, clean and green and so it’s like the extra gut-punch when you waste, and it’s all just frustrating. I have tried making a meal plan for the whole month, for a week at a time, for a few days at a time (which is what I found worked best) but still totally dreaded the process. Here’s what I did this month-

September Menu

I picked 5 or 6 things in each category to make on repeat this month. If you have a thing with eating the same thing over and over again, this might not be for you. So, I’ve made 1 meal plan, 1 grocery list, and each week, or every few days, I can get the list out, see what we haven’t made recently, and go from there. BONUS is that the grocery store across the street is about to have grocery pick up, saving me even more time. I’ll report back on how things went, and if we’ll do it again for October.

Fitness Journey Perspective Shift

Today, I officially made the jump back onto the proverbial bandwagon of working out. I may have been barely hanging on, my feet dragging to keep up, but I’m on, even if it’s barely. I realize that this whole health/fitness journey I’m on isn’t a bandwagon kind of thing in reality. It’s an actual journey, for me anyway, because it’s about who I want to be consistently rather than just doing something to get specified results. I think that became clearer to me over the last weeks of slacking off. Even though I don’t feel great overall, I’ve got a new perspective.
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At the end of June (yikes, actually going back to look at what date I think I pulled over to the side on this journey is farther back than I thought!) I posted my “after” results from the Eight Week Tone It Up Bikini Series (above). In the midst of a move across Texas, my husband working super long hours, and not having any kind of babysitter, I was successful in losing weight and inches. Insert a few reasons that I just couldn’t keep up with everything (too many plates spinning in the air), eating well and working out are the easiest to set down. I’ve worked out here and there, but nutritionally was WAY off. Now that we’re settled, our fall routine is running on all cylinders, I want to get this part of life integrated.

Here’s where I’m at today- feeling not great (not bad, but not great) and realizing that more important than losing the weight and inches is how I feel. I’ve heard lots of others preach this message on Instagram, but they were skinny and looked amazing so I thought in my head “yeah right- of course you can say that when you look amazing.” But it is actually true. My self-confidence and how I felt day in and day out was so much better, and not because I looked all that awesome (still lots of work to do on that after picture) but because I knew I was taking care of myself.

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So here’s to keeping going- to jump back into the habits that were changing my life, literally, even if it was more on the inside than out.

DAY ONE: I went to the gym, the fire alarm went off, the layout wasn’t optimal, my headphones kept falling off, and I lost my workout playlist. Lots of reasons I could have left. But, I did Day 1 of Lauren Gleisburg’s 30 For 30 Fat Loss Shred program. We won’t talk about what I ate- a bowl of cereal for breakfast, a sandwich and chips for lunch, oven baked tacos for dinner with a side salad, and candy corn were involved.

PS: If you care to follow along my fitness journey, my instagram handle is (at) sarahjohnsonfitness – I block anyone trying to sell me things, who aren’t kind, and who are male. No offense guys, but go follow other dudes.