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    Seven Quick Takes on Meeting Dawn, Finishing School, Summer Ticket System, and MORE!

    June 3, 2016 by Brandy Vencel

    Seven Quick Takes

    :: 1 ::

    brandy and dawnYou all know Dawn Duran, who writes the PE column here at Afterthoughts? Well, she and I have communicated online for years, but never met … until the AO conference a couple weeks ago. See us at right? We were so excited! {And also tired since this was near the end of the conference.}

    Along with this, Amy Jo, who I’d had the pleasure of meeting in Seattle last fall, was also there, as was Jen:

    group hug

    Amy Jo, Dawn, me, and Jen

    So did I ever mention that Jen and I went to college together? We didn’t really know each other at the time, but I did remember her face when we reunited via AO years ago!

    Fun times. 🙂

    And I hope it’s okay that I posted pictures of you guys.


    :: 2 ::

    We have one. more. week. of school. Oh my word, it’s so hard to be diligent at the end, isn’t it? And yet: we need to finish well. And so we plug away. This week, we said no to some things. It was hard, but it was a good reminder that our work is not yet done. Time for Yes is coming soon!


    :: 3 ::

    This week’s links collection:


    :: 4 ::

    This month in 2012:

    Inside Matters

    I sort of laughed that I was freaking out because Daughter Q. wanted me to do kindergarten with her. Now that I have four students all in “real” grades, it’s funny that that was the big deal. But at the same time, I still remember it: it was a big deal. Adding a new student, even for a short portion of the day, always is.


    :: 5 ::

    Speaking of finishing the school year, Mystie my pretend life coach is leading us through a FREE end-of-the-year homeschool audit on Friday, June 10th at 4pm PST.

    Join us live! I plan to be there {barring emergencies, of course}.


    :: 6 ::

    Summer Ticket KidsI’m creating a summer ticket system for myself and all of my children except for my oldest. I don’t usually do stuff like this, but it felt necessary. Last year, I felt like our summer mornings were often wasted because there was no deadline on the chores. It seemed like they went on and on, and at 10 or even 11 I was still nagging reminding people to finish their work. I think we’d all enjoy the mornings better if we finished chores quickly and had truly free time on our hands.

    So, using Microsoft Excel {my beloved spreadsheet program}, I whipped up these tickets, printed them on cardstock {when printed, they don’t have lines — I just know that some of you like to see the spreadsheet lines so you know how it’s formatted}, and laminated them with packing tape. This way, we can reuse them day after day — boxes can be marked off using whiteboard markers.

    The plan is that the children take their tickets and Do The Things until they are done and they turn them in to receive their free time. That’s why I chose a sun with a clock on it out of my clip art options.

    Summer Tickets MeThe rest of the story is that I, too, wasted some time on summer mornings last year. Therefore, I made myself a card, only I don’t turn it in to get free time because we all know I have more to do than just what is one the card. BUT, I do have to check all the boxes before I get a cup of coffee. Hence the clip art you see there. My main motivation is that last summer, exercise fell through the cracks more than I’d like. By making it a morning priority, I hope to build better habits that will serve me well during the school year.


    :: 7 ::

    Facebook Live this summer! I’m planning to take the plunge on Facebook Live, and I’m announcing it here so that I don’t chicken out. We’ll do short little 15ish minute discussions on a variety of topics. I’m thinking Thursdays around 2pm PST. So I know that means that some of you are making dinner and experiencing the witching hour, but the reality is that morning swimming lessons will make this impossible to do until July. Who knows? We might just move it once those are over.

    So you should probably go like my Facebook page, if you haven’t done so already.

    Anyhow, I hope you join me! If you have any topics you want discussed, feel free to leave them in the comments.

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  • Reply Catie June 9, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    I love the ticket idea! I have a clipboard for the girls right now that has their lists on it. But I wonder if shaking things up for the summer would refresh them? Sometimes something new is enough to light a fire under our bums! 😀

    Looking so forward to your Facebook live stuff! YAY!

  • Reply Mama Rachael June 6, 2016 at 6:48 am

    I loved the idea of the morning ticket, and my 5 year old needs to learn to write his name by next Sept. But he is the kind of kid who doesn’t do well with small motor skills for more than 5 minutes. So, ‘write your name’ is one of the tasks. I figure once a day for 3 months will get him pretty good. Also, he struggles to remember to brush his teeth in the morning (Mom-mom and Daddy have a hard time remembering also. I introduced the ticket to Little Man last night. This morning, when I came out, he was dressed, he had brushed and we was working on writing his name. These work better than I ever imagined! Thanks for the idea!

    • Reply Mama Rachael June 7, 2016 at 12:59 pm

      I printed up ‘morning tickets’ for both him and me. Little Man loves it so much, he has asked for a ‘night ticket’. And he is insisting that Daddy has a morning ticket, too. 😛

  • Reply SarahD June 3, 2016 at 1:02 pm

    Math Sheets. Yes, I need to add this to my children’s lists. What source do you use?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      They are just continuing along in MEP. We tend to do mostly four-day weeks, which means that as the year goes on, we get more and more behind. So I remedy that by still doing math in the summers — sometimes only half a sheet per day…

      • Reply Amber Vanderpol June 3, 2016 at 3:27 pm

        That’s what I’m doing too w/ MEP. I was considering a goal of either one section or two sections a day (and they can’t move to the next sheet until all the sections have been done on the page!) so we can keep poking along. It’ll be a good way to keep the math skills going and bring us a little more forward in the curriculum as well. I know the level number doesn’t really matter, but it is rather deflating for my y4 son when he realizes that what he is close to completing is the y3 math… I sometimes wish they just wouldn’t use numbers at all for the levels! I know it is all nice and practical in terms of sequencing, but it is such a pain in other ways!

        • Reply Hayley June 4, 2016 at 9:42 am

          Amber, we’ve had a slow start to math, mostly because I don’t do it until they show aptitude for it, so we are starting MEP yr 1 for my yr 3 student.

  • Reply Hayley June 3, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Brandy, I love the ticket idea. I think I’m going to use it for every day, not just summer. I think it could help streamline our life! Thanks for the great idea.

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 3, 2016 at 1:51 pm

      Hey, you’re welcome! I’d love to see yours after you make them. 🙂

  • Reply Jen Snow June 3, 2016 at 9:44 am

    Wow! I’ve been featured on Afterthoughts. I feel kind of famous now. 😛 (And no, I don’t mind. I may or may not have stolen that same picture from Dawn and put it up on my blog. :D) It was a delight to meet you…officially? Again?…after a number of years that I don’t care to mention, and I look forward to doing so again sometime, maybe with a few less people around so we can have a proper conversation next time.

    I’ll be curious to know how your ticket system works out. Mornings are…well…not my forte and I know I tend to waste more time there than I should. I think if *I* could just get my act a little more together, the kids would probably follow suit. But when I do things like make checklists for myself, then I feel all legalistically tied to them which causes its own set of problems. Don’t know what that says about me….but there you go. I do need to tackle this somehow, though…

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 3, 2016 at 1:53 pm

      Yes! I look forward to when you come out to CA. 🙂

      And the tickets: I will try to remember to share how it goes. I told them about it and no one freaked out, so that was a plus. 😉

      • Reply Jen Snow June 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm

        Yes, no freak-outs is ALWAYS a plus.

        I will be in touch when our summer CA plans become a little more firm. 🙂

        The new Smith book arrived in the mail today. I perused it quickly while the kids swam this afternoon…and I have hopes that it will be an improvement over DTK. I can’t really dive in until I finish something else though….

        So many books. So little time. Sigh.

  • Reply Amber Vanderpol June 3, 2016 at 8:04 am

    Love your summer tickets, yours especially! The clip art is a great touch. So how are you going to keep the mornings from being a stream of, “wait, why are you playing, you haven’t finished your ticket yet!” ?

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 3, 2016 at 8:08 am

      I was thinking about this. I’m pretty sure if I find them playing before they have finished, they get another job added to their list. That usually deters things like this. The one exception will have to be if some of them are done before others because the exercise/therapy stuff is all done as a group.

      The weeding might not need to be done all the summer. It’s just that right now we have those awful goathead weeds and last year we got rid of them by weeding 15 minutes per day. I think they will prefer that to bleeding bare feet!

      • Reply Amber Vanderpol June 3, 2016 at 1:46 pm

        Ah, good idea. I’ve used that technique to good effect too. And, yes, weeding. We are drowning in weeds here, but thankfully not painful ones like that. My 10 yo and I learned how to use the weed whacker yesterday which was actually quite satisfying and enjoyable. Still lots more to do though, both with the machine and by hand…

        I also wanted to say that we have one more week too – and everyone else around us seems to be done already! But we will keep on plugging along and we’ll finish strong. But we are definitely eager for a summer break!

  • Reply Dawn June 3, 2016 at 7:35 am

    Excited doesn’t begin to describe it. I was positively thrilled to meet you in the flesh, friend. Looking forward to doing so again in the future. In the meantime, we’ll have email and Facebook Live. Yay!

  • Reply Carol June 3, 2016 at 1:10 am

    Don’t you need to have a cup of coffee before you start your list??

    • Reply Brandy Vencel June 3, 2016 at 8:05 am

      Ha! I wish I could! Because of my thyroid condition, I have a medication that I have to take when I wake in the morning, and I can’t have anything else in my stomach after that for 30-60 minutes. So I’m used to having my coffee later — just not quite *this* late. But still: motivation, right? 🙂

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