Welcome to TwoCowgirls, the blog about our crazy life in Downtown Saint Paul!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Utilizing Time Blocks to Organize Your Life

I am a stay-at-homeschool mom that manages a very small real estate company, works overnight to provide my family with insurance, and is 90% responsible for all household duties (cleaning, budgeting, shopping, children, etc).  To put it mildly, I'm overwhelmed.  What's a mom to do?  Go back to school of course!  Why not?  

When I think about the things that I'm lacking in my life; exercise, organization, and a clean house, for example, I wonder how other women do it all.  How do working moms do their jobs, take care of their families, find time to exercise, and maintain personal hobbies?  How do other moms seem so collected when they're in a similar position to me?

We all have the same 24 hours!

We all the the same 24 hours?  How cliche can you be, Leslie?  Think about it.  It's so true.  We all have the same 24 hours, some people are just better at managing their time than others.

What is working for me, is the implementation of the "time block" routine.  I thought long and hard about what is most important to me during my current "season" of life.  I came up with the following list:
  1. Homeschooling my kids
  2. Going back to college
  3. Exercising
  4. Maintaining my home (cleaning, budgeting, food shopping)
  5. Relaxation/hobbies
Next, I determined how many active hours I have in my day.  I wake up at 9 AM, but don't fully become coherent until 9:45ish AM.  I start getting ready for work around 9:45 PM.  That gives me 12 hours of real working, productive time.  

After I took a good hard look at my goals, and determined how much time I had to work with them, I brought out my calendar, and worked each of my goals into my day by blocking out time.

Here's an example of my ideal, stay at home day (which only happens 3 times per week, max):

9:00 Wake up
10-11:30 Exercise and shower (kids do independent work)
12:30-3 Homeschool
3-4 My own personal studying or real estate work
4-5:30 Clean and cook
6-7 My own personal studying or real estate work
7-7:30 Do something fun with the kids
7:30 Get the kids ready for bed, do a read aloud
8:00-9:45 Relax or work on hobbies

Friday, October 17, 2014

Journey As A Juliette - Daisy Petals and Corresponding Story Books

I've been busy putting together a compilation of stories that correspond with each of the Daisy petals.  

Most books listed below are also available on youtube (my girls love "watching" the books on the screen).


Lupe - Honest and Fair:
     The Wolf Who Cried Boy
     The Honest to Goodness Truth
     Ruthie and the (not so) Teeny Tiny Lie

     A Days Work

Sunny - Friendly and Helpful:
     The Best Friends Book
     Crazy Hair Day

     Chesters Way

Money Count Leaf:
     If You Made a Million

Zinni - Considerate and Caring:
     A Chair For My Mother
     Boxes for Katje

Count it Up Leaf:
     The Hard Times Jar
     The Go Around Dollar

Tula - Courageous and Strong:
     That Book Woman

     Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

     Mirette on the High Wire

Mari - Responsible For What I Say and Do:
     It's Not My Fault
Gloria - Respect Myself and Others:
     Incredible Me!
     Suki's Kimono

Gerri - Respect Authority
     The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin

     Officer Buckle and Gloria

Clover - Use Resources Wisely:
     The Lorax (the video is 25 minutes long.  Play at your own risk ;))

     The After Christmas Tree

Making Choices Leaf:
     Alexander, Who Used To Be Rich Last Sunday

Rosie - Making the World a Better Place:
     Marvelous Mattie
     Home by Jeannie Baker
     Miss Rumphius

I hope this list of books and YouTube videos is helpful for you and your Daisy Troop!  If you use these books, or do activities that coordinate to the stories, please link up below.  I'd love to see what your troop is doing :)

An outing a day keeps the school work away

We only stayed home one day this week.  Oy.  I'm starting to think I'm crazy.  I'll start reigning in the outings when it gets too cold to be outside.

As it turns out, an outing a day does NOT keep the school work away ;)  The girls squeezed in their 3 R's as planned, and did their super-fun subjects, too!  Here's what we did:


Today was our one and only stay-at-home day.  The highlight was geography in the afternoon.  As I've mentioned before, we're using Wee Folk Art as our US Geography spine.   We studied Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut by mapping them, reading about them and coloring their coloring pages in our book, reading Going Lobstering, and making buoys out of corks.  Going Lobstering is such a great book!  I learned so much (as did my girls!).


The girls did their 3 R's in the morning.  In the afternoon we did something a little bit different.  We normally go to playgroup, but we went to a NEW playgroup that we're going to go to once per month (no guarantees though),  It was nice to try something different, but I'm not sure it was worth the 35 minute drive there and hour long drive back in rush hour!


Today Elise had swimming lessons in the morning.  Millie and I played five rounds of Uno during lessons.  I only won once!  After swimming, we went directly to the farm.  It was so nice!  The girls looked for fall decorations for the dollhouse, and spent the rest of time playing with the kitties and cousins.  I sat outside by the bonfire the whole time :)  It was just what I needed!  We were supposed to leave at 3:30 to go to dance, but Millie opted to skip dance in order to go to Grandma Suzies house to play with her neighborhood friend.  Unfortunately, the neighborhood friend couldn't play. Bummer!


3 R's in the morning again.  In the afternoon, we went to a Nature Seekers nature study.  It just so happens that I had "nature study" on my calendar for the exact days that this nature study club is operating on.  What a cool coincidence!  It's a lot more fun to do this kind of thing with friends, I think.  We'll probably still do our own nature study, but this will certainly help with my accountability.  It was 70 degrees in Minnesota today, making it an absolutely perfect day to spend outside!


We started out the day by going to piano lessons, and ran a few errands to PetSmart and the Girl Scout Store.  After lunch, we had our first Girl Scout meeting!  It was super fun!  You can read all about it, here.  Unfortunately we didn't get to all the school work I had hoped, but considering the public schools have been off for the past 3 days, I don't feel quite as guilty as I would otherwise ;)

This is Elise being "courageous and strong," fighting off vicious alligators.  She's trying to prove that she should earn her Tula petal for her Girl Scout vest.  He he.

That sums up our week.  Find out what other homeschoolers did this week, here.

Journey As A Juliette: A Junior and a Daisy!

Girl Scouts!  We finally found our "niche" in the community.  It's no surprise that, with my "if you want it done right, do it yourself" attitude, that continuing their Girl Scout journey as Juliettes is a natural fit.  It's not that we don't like being part of groups, it's just that we can't find one that fits us.

So Juliettes, it is!  What's a Juliette?  A Juliette is a Girl Scout that goes on her Girl Scout adventure, independently.

But, that sounds so lonely!!  Why would they ever want to do that??  It's not going to be lonely, I promise!  They'll work together on projects, even though they're on different levels.  They're best-sisters, and love working together.  They'll also take classes independently of each other, and will meet up with other girls in their grade level (for example Millie will be taking a Bronze Award Adventure, Be A Friend First, Agent of Change camp sleepover, and  Elise will be taking a Three Cheers For Animals class, Be A Sister To Every Girl Scout, Welcome to the Daisy Flower Garden class, etc.)  There will also be events with our new service unit (which we haven't met yet).

Here's what we did for our first meeting...ever:

We watched this video about Juliette Gordon Low

We practiced the Girl Scout Law and Promise

We learned a new Girl Scout song.

We made a fun spooooooooky craft:

Elise the Daisy worked on her next pedal , Tula (courageous and strong).  We read the story of Tula, and watched a video about the courageous and strong Molly Lou Melon.

Her job for this month is do demonstrate that she can do something courageous and strong.  When she does, I'll iron the petal on her vest!

Millie the Junior and I talked about her aMuse journey, and came up with a plan of attack for the year, including how she's going to accomplish her journey, do a project significant enough to earn a Bronze award, earn the Junior Aide badge, and chose which badges she wants to earn.

That sums up our first meeting!  I'd call it a success!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mixed Media Art & SciGirls

FUN!  That's the word I use to describe this week.  It was busy.  I suppose I can stop saying "it was busy" and "we had such a busy week" now.  It's safe to assume that EVERY week is going to be busy.  The great part about our busy weeks now vs. our busy weeks last year, is that we have two cars.  I don't have to combine my busy calendar with Bud's busy calendar.  It's a big relief.

Here's what we did this week:


We ventured out to Lake Maria State Park with friends  The older girls were supposed to work on their "Hardwoods Biome" book, but they ended up just walking and exploring in the woods.  It felt SO GREAT to wander through the woods!  We left the park fairly early, so my girls were able to get their work done when we got home.


The girls got busy with their school work bright and early, and finished up with time to spare before leaving for playgroup.  They played outdoors with friends for a few hours.  The weather this whole week is nice, so we're trying to enjoy every last bit of it before it gets cold!  We went straight from there to piano lessons.  Millie is working on memorizing a piece that she'll probably play in her recital in January.  When we got home, I came with Millie as she walked the neighbors dog.  My mother in law and I had a parenting series to go to in the evening, so I dropped the girls off with Grandpa (for a fun night of crafts!), while we went.  It was very interesting!  I loved it.  I didn't get Millie until after 9:30, and I left Elise at Grandma and Grandpas.  This was the first time Elise has been away from me without the protective care of her loving sister.  :(  I missed her so much!


Millie and I woke up bright and early to get to SciGirls!  The girls made stethoscopes, had a visit from some students from the U of M, and had a great time.  This class was so much smoother than last months class.  Everything was perfect.  Grandma took Elise to swimming while we were at SciGirls, and then they spent the rest of the day test driving cars.  :)  In the evening, Millie had her first jazz class.  They worked on making a Thriller video commercial (for the dance studios Facebook page, I think?).  I finally got to see little Elise around 6:30 PM.


Our first stay at home day all week!  Did we stay home?  Noooooo!  We got all the school work done in the morning (Elise had a math test, worked on reading, listened to Bread and Jam For Francis, and did some copy work.  Millie had a math test, did typing, math drills, piano, and ohmygoodness!  I just realized we forgot to do English!  I'm sure that made her day.  Ha ha).  Bud came home for lunch, so we had him drop us and our GIANT bag of books off at the library.  The girls spent time there picking out books, looking at the fish, and playing witches.  We walked home, which was so nice because the weather was absolutely beautiful.  At home, we started art.  We talked about horizontal and vertical lines, and then made mixed media city-scapes using lines, pastels, and magazine clippings.  We were inspired by a picture I found on Pinterest.  Here's our beautiful art:


Geography day!  This is where geography starts getting really fun!!  We're using Wee Folk Art for our spine when we learn about the USA.  Today we read Abbie Against the Storm, colored the coloring pages for Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, browsed through travel brochures, did some mixed media sailboat art using travel brochures and water colors, and best of all, made blueberry muffins.  THIS is how to learn geography!

That sums up our week!  Find out what other homeschoolers are up to, by clicking here.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Autumn Is Blowing In

I can feel the autumn blowing in!  Our windows are rattling, it's 35 degrees, the ground is wet, and dry leaves are falling off the trees.  It's happening way too fast, I'm not ready for this!

As I look back on last week, I have to wonder if this was our last week of outdoor play without coats.

Here's what we did this week:


The girls did geography today!  They watched a few videos about the continents and oceans, and made their geography binders.  What's a geography binder, you ask?  It's a 3 ring binder with one tab per continent, plus another for the USA.  The girls will put their projects that pertain to each continent in the binder, and in the end will have a nice portfolio of their work.  Next time they have geography, they'll start doing really fun projects.  I'm super excited!


Playgroup day!  We met our friends at the apple orchard!  It was so nice.  The weather was great, the company was great, and the apple cider donuts were really great ;)  We went directly from there to Millie's piano lesson. She's making good progress on her piece.


Elise had swimming in the morning.  After lessons, the pool has open swim, so we met friends there for a couple hours of "free swim."  I think we'll continue this trend for the duration of Elise's lessons.  Next time, I'm bringing a swimming suit though!  The water slide was calling my name.  :)  When we got home, I fed the hungry swimmers, and then took a 3 hour nap. THREE HOURS!!  It felt great!


This was the first of the "Autumn's blowing in" days.  It was wet, windy, and cold.  We were going to do a really cool nature study (measuring the height and age of a tree), but the rain kept us indoors.  The girls did their 3 R's, and then played nicely together for the rest of the day.  In the evening I got to go OUT!  My sister took me to an "Old St. Paul" gathering, which was located at the Old Coney Island Bar.  The girls and I have been walking past that place every week on the way to the library for 10 years.  It's closed, and only opens up for private parties.  Purchasing that property has been on my "things I would do if I won the lottery" list for years (although, now that I know the history of the property, I don't think I'd want it.  The family that owns it loves it so much!).  It was a great night!


Another cold and rainy day :(  We stayed in and did our school work as planned.  Afterwards, the girls played board games for hours.  When did Operation get so annoying?  Holy cow.  That might have to go into the Goodwill pile.

So, that's the end of our week.  It was nice, relaxing, and we went from beautiful to winterish.  I'll take it!  But, please, I'd like a few more warm days.  I'm not ready to settle into winter yet!

Check out what other homeschoolers have been up to this week, here!

Look what Millie found in the barn at Grandma & Grandpas!  A fairy cat!

Friday, September 26, 2014

1 Piano Lesson, 2 Zoos, and 3 Playdates

I thought this was out last super busy week for a while, but then I glanced at my calendar, and realized that we only have a one week break from the craziness.  Oh well, at least we're a two car family now.  It should relieve some of the headache of having to balance everything!

Here's what we did this week:

We were supposed to go up to Lake Maria State Park to study Minnesota's hardwood biome, but plans changed, and we ended up having a play date at a friends house instead.  It was great!  Elise played dinosaurs with her little buddy, and Millie and friends walked around the neighborhood,   She bought junk at a garage sale (a ridiculous old chipped up cat salt and pepper shaker for Grandma Rira for $8!!), then returned said junk back to the garage sale where it came from ;)  (You're welcome, Grandma Rira!  Ha ha!)  Fortunately the guy running the sale took the stuff back.  Oy.  


Our biggest day yet!  It totally did poor Elise in.  We went to the MN Zoo for homeschool day.  The girls got to watch a diver feed the tropical fish.  He answered a question the girls have been wondering for a long time.  Why doesn't the shark eat the fish?  Because that kind of shark doesn't eat fish!  They also attended a talk about turtles.  From there we went directly to playgroup, where the girls played with their friends for a couple hours.  They found a hobo hut in the woods, which was pretty exciting.  :p  After that, we went directly to Millie's piano lesson.  When we got home, Millie had to walk the neighbor dog.  Phew!  What a day!  I was so glad to put the girls to bed and veg out on the couch in the evening!!


Swimming lessons!  Elise is going to learn to swim this year.  She's not afraid of the water, and she tried everything her teacher asked her to do.  I'm proud of my little fishy!  They have open swim on Wednesday afternoon.  Next week we'll come back for that (hopefully with friends).  Afterwards we went home and did school.  After their 3 R's, the girls worked on their DIY.org projects.  Millie worked on her painting challenge, and Elise worked on her zoology challenge.


This was such a great day!  We didn't get out of our jammies (until I had to run to the grocery store to get lettuce and tomatoes for taco night).  We did our 3 R's in the morning.  Millie finished working on her packed about Where the Red Fern Grows.  <--- That's a sketch of Billy when he walked to town and saw his reflection for his first time.  In the afternoon we set up a science experiment in which the girls track the weather using a pinecone, and did an art lesson about texture.  It was so nice to be home all day!!


Friday should have been a stay-at-home day,
 but we were sidetracked by an
invitation from cousins to go to the zoo!  The girls were so eager to go, that they finished all their work by 10:30 AM (that includes a math test, reading practice, and copy work for Elise, and typing, math, english, and piano for Millie).  They can really book-it with the right motivation!

That sums up our week!  We have a fun weekend planned, including a drive up to Duluth to see the fall colors and to cross a few waterfalls off our list.

Want to see what other homeschoolers were up to this week?  Check it out here!