Home School Organization

November 2, 2017

Home School Organization

So I’m one of these crazy people who can’t stand anything to be out of order.  I use to freak out trying to keep the house looking like a picture in a magazine…

This was until God smashed me with the realization that while life is in my house, it will never be perfectly clean.  (Note to self: NEVER be PERFECT!)

We also homeschool.  This means in addition to the normal kid toys, clothes, and assorted paraphernalia, we also have a stupendous collection of schoolwork items.  This all has to stay organized.  (Organization has paid off repeatedly as the girls move into high school level courses and dual enrollment.)  So I looked for an easy way to keep organized.

My first step at this organization was the purchase of three letter envelope sized Boxes upon which I wrote “Christina’s Schoolbooks,” “Rebeccah’s Schoolbooks,” and “Kimberly’s Schoolbooks.”

These boxes hold all current textbooks, notebooks, and school “tools” (pencils, pens, crayons, etc.) for that student.  I only had one “student” at the time, but the littler girls felt big to have their crayons, art supplies, and activity books in a “school box” too.  They also aren’t too heavy for a 5-year-old to tote around.

The students are responsible for their box and keeping their books and supplies in good order.  (Mom “issues” normal supplies like notebooks, primary crayons, pencils, pens, erasers, mathematical instruments, and books.  Usually, they like to buy their own “extras” like markers, colored pencils, or work pens inscribed with their name.)  This helps with responsibility.

Bingo!  I scored a short, sturdy wooden bookshelf that held my boxes perfectly!  **One (Jaquline’s) is missing in the picture, but that’s because she was using it!**

This allowed me to add the next 2 boxes (they were only 1 and 3, but Jaquline kept asking about her school box) and a third set for notebooks, charts & flashcards, and shared coloring & art books.  (Granted, we have a full-size bookshelf with art supplies and games and three full-size bookshelves with the supplemental school books – mostly history, science, technology, readers, and encyclopedias.)

Later, Rebeccah decided we needed a “non-reader” system on our boxes so we added “pictures” to the labels.  She likes everything organized too.

I created a book I call the School Planner.  (Rebeccah calls it “The One Book” as in “The book to rule all school!”) **Deceptively plain, isn’t it?**

It has everything school related in a very easy, homeschool-mom-friendly format.  (This means I can quickly enter information and file papers within my 10 or 15 minute time crunch.  I love organization, but hate spending time on it.)  One file drawer turned into the workbook paper file with one file for each student’s work by school year.  They look like steps and Kimberly has called them “the steps to college.”

Our School Shelf still holds everything current for 6 students (okay, Lucas isn’t a student yet, but he does have a backpack, crayons, and two coloring books in his school box).  Our School Planner sits on top of the School Shelf, and two sturdy boxes (perfect size to keep the workbooks snug and dust-free) sit on the other side against the wall holding all of the “next-ups.” (Core curriculum workbooks to be used by the next student.)

Our School Planner is organized by student in 4-week snapshots on each page.

On these pages, I keep a running list of reading books completed, courses completed and their GPA & weight (for high school-level), extra-curricular projects completed, and educational extras like field trips, community service, or practical learning.  The first page in my planner is my “base grade level guide” (texts I expect each student to pass at said grade level).

At the end of each school year (for us, the last Friday before our annual evaluation), I spend about an hour or two and compile all this raw data into a concise one or two page “report” I call a school year summary.

I attach a reading book list (gathered from the same data!) and if any high school level courses were completed, I add them into the student’s high school transcript.

For portfolio evaluations, I just grab the School Planner (reports go in the front in age order) and the file folder for each student for that year.  It’s easy and keeps me mostly stress free.  After evaluations, I rubber-band the School Planner pages together and set them in the file drawer with the previous years, print out the new pages with the changed dates and continue… the story of each school year in less than 1.5 inches of paper. The copy of their evaluation report (the copy of the official report on file with St Johns’ County) goes in a file folder with their name on it.  This has all evaluations and communications from the school district.  (This was a life-saver when the county changed computer systems!) **Lucas’ folder doesn’t have his name on it yet because they get to pick their colors**

Everything important with our school is in one long file drawer and one shelf.  This makes school time fun and easy – and organized!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

 

Meet Matthew

October 8, 2017

Meet Matthew Taylor

Matthew is one of the Taylor boys.  He lives with his father, mother, brothers, and baby sister on the first settled family plot in Covenant.  Although he must help with chores on his family’s farm first, he prefers to spend time around the Summers’ farm and learn about Brown-Sheep.

Matthew has a twin brother named Stephen.

Matthew and Stephen don’t like to wake up early.  Sometimes their little brother, Jacob, will jump on them to wake them up!

Matthew sometimes likes to set pranks for others.  This isn’t a good trait, as he discovers every time he tries, but that doesn’t seem to stop him.

You can read more about Matthew and his family in The Devonians series, starting with Daydreamer.

 

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Summer Storms

September 13, 2017

Summer Storms

We are an outdoor thrill-seeking kind of family.  So, what do we do when the winds die down and there is water everywhere?  (And the kids are stir-crazy because it’s been thundering for most of the outside-time hours?)

We go outside…

In our bathing suits…

And get muddy.

Sometimes we ride boogie boards on flooded lawns. (Last year we “boogied” where hurricane Matthew created a pool in our front yard that reached 10 inches deep!)  Sometimes we march through the trough of water in the driveway. (This year, new place, new storm, new water adventures.)

The screams of “I found a real pool!” happen when a puddle is more than 3 inches deep.

The big girls make a funny Lego video about Hurricane Irma preparedness.  (My favorite part was the guy in line behind the mini-cooper!)

The most fun after the storm  is discovering the unique toys in the yard (Like the two felled trees that became “teepees” covered in branches shed by other trees.)  and the new “swing.” (A grape vine attached to the maple tree but hanging enticingly low enough and sturdy enough to be used as a temporary swing.)

After a storm, especially a major one, I always try to help everyone focus on the positive.

Bored?  We can help the lady next door by cleaning her yard.

An oak tree is gone.  But it became a teepee! 

The chinaberry tree, a favorite climbing tree, split and fell.  But the leaves make a great mulch for the chicken yard and help reduce odor. 

The power was out for two days.  But we had plenty of maple and oak wood to grill yummy meats and tin foil to bake sweet potatoes!  And we had good no-see-um screens & strong, cool breezes!

We couldn’t get out of our street to go to work because of three big trees blocking the roads.  But that meant we could stay home and play every board game in the house!  (We shifted to the backlit electronics like Scrabble Twist and Catch Phrase once the sun went down.)

We thank God for family, for the opportunities to help others as they presented themselves, for teaching us to find joy in any situation, and for keeping us safe through all summer storms.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

A Storm and Chicken Story

August 26, 2017

A Storm and Chicken Story

One day we were playing outside and a storm came up.  Not a cute little Pooh bear thundercloud with a few raindrops, but a giant, hurricane-wind, flash-lightning-fireworks-in-the-sky, shake-the-whole-house-thunder, all-people-hide-inside kind of thunderstorm.  (Okay, it was a simple, everyday, Florida thunderstorm.)  The winds were swirling chicken feathers and fluffing them out like towel-dried cats.  Smaller chickens were hop-flying to stabilize themselves as they fought for the safety of the henhouse.

After drying off from the first wave of rain, the girls peeked outside and giggled at the chickens until the raindrops were so large we couldn’t see the henhouse anymore.  The late summer winds blew the tree limbs around like strong autumn breezes scatter just-raked leaf piles.

“Mom, can you tell us a story with a storm?” Asked Rebeccah.

“A Long Tail story!” yipped Kimberly.  She was five, and she loved Long Tail.

So we snuggled on the couch with lightning flashes illuminating the room through the big windows and started what would become “Long Tail and the Big Storm.”

The chickens of the yard were ruled by Long Tail, the great yellow chief, and guarded by Long Tail and Alfredo, the white rooster imported some time ago.  Under this rooster team, the hens and pullets scratched and gossiped and laid eggs all day with no worries.

On one autumn day the bright sky darkened with angry clouds.  The sun hid.  The birds in the woods started crying warnings and flying away.  Two small humans who were playing in the henhouse with the baby biddies, heard a booming crack of thunder and jumped!  They put the baby biddies back in the safe brooder and left the henhouse.

“Look at those little humans!” cawed Alfredo, laughing, “running like rabbits!”

A giant bolt of lightning lit up the sky just behind the woods and a cannon-loud BOOM of thunder shattered the air.  Alfredo scrambled into the henhouse and hid under the brooder.

All the hens laughed at the silly rooster.

Even Red Feathers and Golden Eye, two of the youngest pullets, laughed at him.

Long Tail strutted by, “when the water falls from the sky, we come in.” Long Tail was not afraid.

A big wind shrieked through the henhouse.  It blew the people door open!

Can Long Tail save his flock?  Be sure to check out Long Tail and the Big Storm to see just how this courageous rooster accomplishes this brave feat!

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~Nancy Tart

Meet Jordan Binak

August 2, 2017

Meet Jordan Binak

We’re going to meet another fictional character today.  This one was created over 20 years ago!  Often when authors create fictional characters, they pull from themselves and add strengths they want.  If you study Charles Dickens, you learn that the character of David Copperfield has many traits and experiences that Dickens actually had.  Of course, the story is fiction, but the lead character is very close to Dickens.  I think of this as a “masked cameo” – like when a movie director has a cameo appearance in a film he directs.  Only in a book, since the readers may not know the author personally, the author can give his “masked cameo” a larger role.

When writing “Web of Deception,” I used many friends and family from real life and masked them or blended them together to make my characters.  (Don’t tell anyone!  And, no, I’m not saying who is who!)  Jordan was how I envisioned my character with his backstory.  Strong, bold, self-sacrificing for others, humble, frustrated, confused, content, fearless.  (Actually, he sounds like any teenager!)  I would work out the story in my backyard, acting out each part until I was satisfied with the way each sub-story played out and how the characters acted.  (Quite a lot of it was chopped later, or rearranged, just like a movie!  And my dog, Lady, was my first-ever audience.)

Jordan gets most of his character from his birth family.  This foundation is built upon by the family who takes him in.  He credits most of his character to his sister, who he looked up to and was always trying to be like.  He doesn’t realize it (most young people don’t until later when they choose to analyze themselves), but even his perception of others is influenced by his childhood village.  As a youngster he enters a military training school.  This is common in the World of Kings’ province of Swavaria.  Their Warrior-Spirits begin training between three and five.  Jordan enters “late” at seven and a half.

When he’s graduated from this school, he finds himself thrust into a twisted quest he knows nothing of.  This quest will answer more questions and touch more memories than Jordan knew he had.  “Web of Deception” was written using my “step in their shoes and walk around” model that I use for most characters.  Being that Jordan was my first protagonist (lead character), I discovered that when I was frustrated, it was easy to write confrontation and fight scenes. When I was calm, it was easier to drift to other characters and develop them.  This made for a great release of frustration!  I’d just turn whatever was bothering me into the creature Jordan happened to be fighting!  (This was a major stress-reliever!  When I created Kvortee, I was envisioning a bully we’d just dealt with.)

I completed the first draft of “Web of Deception” when I was fourteen.  When the first edition was published, the ending was cut, so this second edition contains the full ending!  Enjoy!

Thanks for reading!

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~Nancy Tart

Who You Are

July 28, 2017

Who You Are

As a teen, I decided never to “change myself” for others.  I watch people.  I watched many relationships in various stages during my teenage years and learned that I didn’t want to present myself as something I wasn’t.  It seemed that those who faked who they were had a hard time in their relationships.  You don’t have to pretend to love everything another person enjoys to “capture” them.  My mom didn’t have to bury herself in computer code to get my Daddy’s attention, she just does the bend and snap.

I analyzed the relationships of those whose love I admired.  They were the couples who had vowed til death do us part and meant it.  They enjoyed each other’s company in simple pleasures, like taking a walk, exploring a park, watching a movie, or eating a meal.  They built their relationship on trust and honesty.  They didn’t always do everything together.  They didn’t always have the same interests.  They did respect each other.  They loved each other.  They did life together.

I didn’t want a “catch” or “conquest.”  I wanted a best friend.  I wanted someone to grow up with, raise a family with, get old together with, and enjoy forever – I wanted someone to do life with.

I like to dress up (Heels, skirts, blouses and dresses) for church, work, and dinner.  I’m competitive.  If you want to play a game with me, I’m going to try to win!  I’m stubborn, so I won’t surrender.  I love to be outside.  If you ask what I want to do, surfing, tennis, bicycling, and swimming top the list.  I love worship.  I love to dance and be childish when I’m happy or feel free.  If I’m watching a sunrise on the beach, I am likely to start singing and twirling.  Bored on a bus or in a ride queue?  I’m probably singing some silly song with whatever child will sing along.  I am myself.  I wasn’t looking to change anyone else, so why would anyone want to change me?

That was my attitude; still is.

Truly it came down to self-worth.  I knew that God loved me so what else mattered?  My self-worth was in how God saw me.  I figured He died for me.  He must think I’m something good.  Out of love for Him, I’m constantly trying to improve myself, but not because He says I’m no good as I am.  (I am also a perfectionist, so yes, I’m always critically looking at myself and trying to self-improve – we tend to be hardest on ourselves.)  I especially want my girls to know that no matter what flaws they see in themselves, they are always loved by God.  (And by family, of course, but we are all human so putting your idea of self-worth in a person isn’t perfect.)

So think of who you are.  How do you see yourself?  Are you seeing yourself as the amazingly beautiful creation that Jesus loved so much He died and rose again so you can have life with Him forever?  You are a beloved child of God.

Today, my sense of self-worth is still in how God sees me.  This has helped me not to expect perfection from anyone except God.  (That seriously helps with all relationships!)

I have my husband, daughters, son, family, and friends to do life with.  We are loving every day of it!

Thanks for reading!

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~Nancy Tart

She’s On a Mission

July 21, 2017

She’s On a Mission

Sometimes God leads people into your life to bless you and everyone around you.  Sometimes you don’t get to see them all the time (Actually, you see them very rarely!), but you feel such a strong connection.  Sometimes those people are in your life to encourage you and to be positive influences in your children’s lives.

One such blessing in our lives is an awesome friend, Stacy.  (My girls all call her “Aunt Stacy.”)  She has been a friend of our family for over eight years.  She was at our house (and the only one with a camera) when Jillian was born, so she is the reason we have birth pictures of Jillian!  (She’s a photographer so not only did we have pictures, but they were awesome pictures.) Stacy is a missionary.  She has a blog where she writes a lot of interesting single-woman-missionary-related thoughts.  These are so insightful and spot on.  Christina started following her Aunt Stacy’s blog when she was about 10.  Every day Stacy was in Zambia in 2014, Christina would ask, “Has Aunt Stacy written some more?”  She updated everyone on her mission travels daily. (Or as she got internet connectivity) We’d read and Christina would journal about the verses Stacy referenced.

Stacy is a beautiful young woman.  I’ve watched her confidence and strength grow as now she’s inspiring and mentoring my teen and preteens.  Stacy has mentored other girls in person; she’s open, fun, and connects with them in a special way.  (Rebeccah says “it’s because she’s real, her love shines.”) Recently, Christina said “look!  Her quote is one of my favorites!”  In the last blog, “Jesus is not my Boyfriend,” Stacy quoted C.S. Lewis saying “A woman’s heart should be so close to God that a man should have to chase Him to find her.”  (This is one I’ve repeated many times in raising my young women – it’s also a favorite of mine.)

Even though we don’t get to visit in person as often as we’d like to, this wonderful young woman, a strong warrior of God, a vibrant passionate lover of Jesus, my sister-in-Christ, is such a blessing to our family.  She is leading, encouraging, and sharing from her heart.

That is how we teach people.  They say the best sermons you ever preach are the ones that are seen.  We show people who we are, what we are passionate about, and who we love, by the actions they see.  Online, you can’t really “see” people, but you can see the actions of what they are doing through the pictures and stories they show.  (It helps if they are “real” to you; someone you’ve actually met, but that’s not necessary.)  My children watch what I do.  I can talk patience all day, but if I get irritated because the line at the grocery store is too long, all that talk just disappeared because obviously, I don’t “walk the talk.”  When they see someone who has a huge heart for helping others and spreading God’s word and get to “follow” what she’s actually doing and read what she’s saying, it shows them that this person does “walk her talk” too.

I pray constantly to be the kind of person who “walks” my “talk.”  I want to be someone others can look up to and be inspired by.  This is why I write: writing is my passion, my love, my art.  God gives us talents and gifts.  He wants us to use them to encourage, inspire, teach, and love others.  This is my goal.

I am so grateful for those in my family’s life who provide positive inspiration for us – some may not even know how deep of an impact they have on our lives – but if I can, I want to tell them!  Stacy is such a blessing for us – it’s an honor to say she’s my friend.

Stacy writes about singleness, being “on a mission,” loving God, and everyday-Christian-woman challenges in her blog: www.thelivingone.blog.

Thanks for reading!

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~Nancy Tart

Our Historic City

July 14, 2017

Our Historic City

We live in the oldest continuing city in the United States.  Actually, our city is really a town – everyone here knows everyone else.  We are friendly and have fun.  On holidays, like the Fourth of July, our town comes together in a menagerie of period costumes, pirate ships, haunted buildings, and eager children.   Everyone turns into a child as they travel back in time in our town.  Our streets are narrow and the buildings old. (Of course, old only for New World buildings!) Trolleys, bicycles, and horse-drawn carriages maneuver the streets.  (Those riding in “New” automobiles must avoid these picturesque obstacles with care!)  Stately one-time hotels (one now a museum, the other a college) stand facing each other next to the Casa Monica (another old hotel) – the Lightner Museum and Flagler College have some amazing artifacts and display unique architecture.

One of my family’s favorite things to do in our town is to go downtown and to play tourist.  We park behind the Lightner Museum (free after 6pm, metered before then) and stroll around.  We explore the Museum and the children are entranced for at least fifteen minutes by the koi in the courtyard pond.  Sometimes a local anole (lizard that camouflages itself by changing between green and brown shades) shows up and that steals the show!  (As excited as they get, you’d think that was their first anole sighting!)

We waddle like Mom and Daddy Mallard with ducklings trailing behind through the colorful shops and cobblestones on St George Street.  Occasionally we comment on items in the windows, and we women like to stare dreamily at the artwork (especially the jewelry) displayed at the various galleries.  We might run into one of the local pirates!  Several pirates walk our streets at random times.

We cross to the Fort (precisely named, “The Castillo de San Marcos” National Monument) and they race up the hill (yes, what someone from any other region calls a mound of dirt, we flatlanders call a hill) and proceed with a game of “tumbledowners” (this is really just children rolling down a hill emitting high-pitched noises) while the adults walk royally along the sidewalk at the apex.  (No, we are more often seen rolling down the hill like maniacs too! But on only dark, moonless nights to avoid recognition.)

From here, we walk the bayfront.  The girls talk to the empty carriage horses, we watch the water carefully and spot dolphins, fish, and the occasional manatee, they jump from the walkway and back up, racing in the grass between the street and the upper walkway.

The bridge is opening!  Now the race is on! The girls love to watch the boats go through our Bridge of Lions (it is a drawbridge) and enjoy it even more if they are on the bridge when the boats go under.  (They wave as if the passing boats are putting on a parade – and most boaters wave right back.)  Walking the bridge is a highlight for the baby – this is because the pedestrian lane on each side of the bridge is protected by bars keeping baby from the water and a short concrete wall keeping the cars from baby.  Except for having to rescue the baby from the occasional bicyclist this spot is one long baby-proof runway!

Once on the Anastasia Island side, we walk around a bit.  I like to time our return to match the sunset.  This makes for some awesome views of God’s nightly artwork on the canvas of the sky.

Every time I walk downtown in my town, I am reminded of the quaint, simple beauty that attracted and has kept me here.  Saint Augustine is a beautiful place to see.  The friendly people make it a wonderful place to call home.

Thanks for reading,

Type at you later…

~Nancy Tart

Introduction

May 20, 2017

Who I Am (Introduction)

   Most importantly to me, I’m a wife, mother, home-school teacher, and friend.

That sounds really simple… so, how about adding in our hobby garden, ongoing “school project” flock of chickens, the fact that I’m a mother to six (and yes, I’d love more) children and two dogs (okay, so Prim is Christina’s dog), published author with dozens of stories, and I am an owner, operator, business manager, and financial accountant for our primary business.

Okay, so why on Earth would I start a blog?  (Because I need something else on my plate?  Because I’m crazy?  Because I love drowning in deadlines and yelling “Just a minute!” at the top of my lungs?)

No.

Honestly, it’s because I love to teach.  I learn best by watching (or reading) about other people’s successes and blunders.  (Here, you will read both… but that’s okay because we are all human!)

I also love to write.  (Otherwise completing a science-fiction fantasy novel for young adults would NEVER have happened.)

I’m hoping to create a fun, happy place with this blog where people can catch a glimpse of my crazy, wonderful, amazing life and hopefully glean a few pearls of wisdom.

Thanks for reading!

Type at you next time…

~ Nancy Tart