Monthly Wrap-up: January 2015

I’ve always wanted to do a week in review style post, but weekly is really too often for me to commit to, so I’ve decided on a monthly wrap-up post. With my bullet journal, this shouldn’t be overly difficult.

Books & Things

  • Scheduling has been a work in progress. At the beginning of the month I started writing the kids’ assignments in individual notebooks. This was great as I could tweak the format daily. Some headings I tried:
    • “On Your Own”, “With Mom”, “Afternoons” —we only needed 2-3 of me
    • “Morning Work”, “Break” (meaning after the break), “After Lunch” —now we only need 1-2 of me
    • “Before Break”, “Before Lunch”, “Before Screens” —this worked better than the above wording
    • “Table Work”, “Reading”, “Others” (as in Duolingo, Piano) — back to 2-3 of me
    • “Round 1”, “Round 2”, “Round 3”, “Afternoon” — finer grained control, we are almost down to needing 1 of me
  • We’ve experienced the “A,B,C – choose 2” joke. (Usually I’ve seen this as “fast, good, cheap – choose 2”.) As we’ve done better at getting school done, we’ve not done as well at our afternoon free read time.  But progress often takes 3 steps forward, 2 steps back – and that’s A-okay.
  • The house was falling by the wayside as well, but as part of our “things” we began working on home skills. Many hands truly make light work, and I’m happy to see the children becoming more diligent. Oh, and we took Friday off of school to clean the house. That helped.
  • I have my older boys (10yo and 12yo) using Duolingofor Spanish, and that is going well. There is a bit of a learning curve, as they discover they need to pay attention to the spelling of the words, but after that they’ve both started to enjoy the program. I like that it teaches usage with good examples, uses all modes of learning / expression, and is independent.

Being Out-of-Doors

  • After much hemming and hawing I decided to track us for the 1000 hour challenge. I started on the 25th, and by the end of the month we had 8 hours outdoors as a family. For the cool winter months I’m trying to average at least one hour a day, so we’ve made a good start. (The boys, especially my eldest, easily have double that. But I couldn’t track us all, so I chose to track family hours, knowing that the boys would surpass that number.)
  • My boys managed to break not one but two sleds in their wild and wooly sledding. I am loving all the snow this year – we’ve had very little snow for the last few years, so this is great. Snow also means higher temperatures. (Do I hear an “Amen” for that?)
  • Our outdoor time was greatly boosted with five hours of ice fishing with my in-laws. We had a marvellous time, and caught oodles of little fish.
Jonathan (12, in black/red) and Andrew (8, in blue)

Jonathan (12, in black/red) and Andrew (8, in blue)

David (almost 11)

David (almost 11)

Anna (5) in the ice house with her Grandpa

Anna (5) in the ice house with her Grandpa


  • Words: I’ve made 18 entries in my commonplace book. My older boys are finishing a handwriting refresher course (part 2 of Italics: Beautiful Handwriting for Children).
  • Mankind: I’ve made a few entries in my Book of Centuries, and plan to order one for my 12yo this week, so hopefully later in the month I’ll be able to share from his book. He suffers from none of my perfectionism, and loves to draw, so I know his book will be great. Expect to see swords, lots of swords. I’m trying to decide if I should get a BoC for my 10yo in year 5 as well.
  • Nature: Our nature journals have popped out a few times, very organically. Inspired by Jeanne’s posts and by The Handbook of Nature Study discussion on the AO forums about the weather, I decided to drop my expectation of drawing something every entry, which has helped. I should have dropped that expectation on January 2nd, because, between the four of us (3 boys and myself) we have 6 entries in January … I’d like to have three EACH in February, as a minimum. My 12yo and I also made a few entries in our science journals.

Looking Forward

  • We will continue to fine-tune the schedule, until we only need one mom. I think there is a good chance all the kids will be reading independently by the year’s end, so this should become less of an issue as my dyslexic and my wild monkey man gain skill.
  • I want to average about an hour a day outside, so my February goal is 25 or more hours. We should be able to up that number in March, depending on what kind of spring it is. But the habit of going out daily is the most important thing right now.
  • More keeping. I know my eldest will love his BoC, and I expect he’ll inspire me. To facilitate keeping, I want to work on my painting skills. For some reason, myself and my eldest son really seem drawn to black & white sketches (I love Robert McCloskey). Well, that seems to have rubbed down to everyone but my 5yo daughter, so I think I need to conscientiously inject some color into our art.

Closing Thoughts
For the first time in my life, I am thrilled with small steps and gradual improvement. I’m very much a boom and bust style of person: work like a mad woman, then collapse. I can’t say if slow and steady wins the race, but it makes the journey enjoyable.


  1. dawn

    Sometimes a week seems very small to look back on, I love this consideration of a larger block of time!

    And, your ending sentence! Perfect, beautiful, I needed to read that. Thanks, Amy Jo!

  2. Celeste

    I usually end up writing my {This and That} posts about every other week, and that feels about right for me. I really liked seeing all your progress in the various areas!

    “He suffers from none of my perfectionism, and loves to draw, so I know his book will be great. Expect to see swords, lots of swords. ” << Laughed at this. Sounds like my son! He's going to love when we start keeping a BOC.

    And I just wanted to say that I too love black and white sketches! I was actually just telling a commenter on my blog that I actually have lots of ink drawings and writing in my nature journal–much more than paintings. They are easier to do and don't take so much hands-on time or prep work (getting out the water and paints, making sure no one knocks it all over–LOL). I liked that part in The Living Page when she describes how many of the naturalists CM referred to were doing mostly written observations. I do really enjoy dry brushing, but I like writing/sketching too. I'd love to see your black-and-white examples! I think they could be very encouraging to others that are drawn to the same medium or don't have time quite yet to learn watercoloring.


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