The Reading Report, Vol. 7: Back to the Classics Challenge 2018

Welcome to the December edition of The Reading Report! I can hardly believe that Christmas is only two weeks away! The holidays feel a little different this year since we are in a new location, but we have been enjoying the local festivities. We will also get to see some family during Christmas break, which will be very nice!

My reading life has been a little off lately. I got a bit overwhelmed with life a couple of weeks ago and stepped back from a lot of things to give myself a mental break. During that time, I realized that I had succumbed to a bad case of start-itis, especially where books are concerned. I have started a lot of books recently and then lacked the motivation or focus to finish them. As I thought over what I want 2018 to look like, I came to the conclusion that I need to simplify and narrow my focus in several areas, one of those being my reading habits. And just at the moment I was thinking about how to do this, I stumbled upon some posts by fellow AmblesideOnline moms about the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge. Perfect timing!

This challenge is hosted by Karen at her blog, Books and Chocolate. (Sounds like a great combo, right?!) What I like about her challenge is that it will give me a chance to narrow down just exactly what I want to read in the coming year, with a creative twist. I have a specific goal to shoot for, and a timeline to do it in. It also will challenge me to read some things I might not otherwise have the courage to crack open. Some these prompts made me think of more than one book that I might like to read, so I am writing down both options and will see what mood I am in when it comes down to the actual reading. Now, without further ado, here are my proposed titles for the Back to the Classics 2018 Challenge:

1. A 19th Century Classic: Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
2. A 20th Century Classic: Howards End by E. M. Forster
3. A Classic by a Woman Author: Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
4. A Classic in Translation: Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert or The Wreath (book 1 of Kristin Lavransdatter) by Sigrid Undset
5. A Children’s Classic: Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder or Heidi by Johanna Spyri
6. A Classic Crime Story: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
7. Classic Travel or Journey Narrative: Endurance, Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing or 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne
8. Classics with a Single-Word Title: Utopia by Thomas More or Walden by Henry David Thoreau
9. Classic with a Color in the Title: White Fang by Jack London
10. Classic by a New-to-You Author: The Spiritual Life by Andrew Murray
11. A Classic that Scares You: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley or The Last of the Mohicans by James Fenimore Cooper
12. Re-read a Favorite Classic: something by Jane Austen (because I just have to read an Austen ever year!)

At the end of the 2018, I will report back with the complete list of finished titles. I really do hope I can discipline myself to focus in on this list and not get distracted by too many other books I could read. In 2017 I finished 16 books, not including numerous children’s classics we either read aloud or listened to as a family. In light of that, 12 classics should not be too much to ask, even if some of them a bit long. I also am very slowly working my way through Charlotte Mason’s Home Education Series, but I just read a few pages of one of those each day or two and let the ideas simmer.

Do you have any reading plans for 2018? Are you joining in the Back to the Classics Challenge? I’d love to hear what you are going to be reading in the New Year, so leave me a comment below!

 

 

 

This post is linked up with Books and Chocolate: Back to the Classics 2018. 

The Six “P’s” of My Personal Planning Session

 

In my last post, I talked a little about how I am planning for our new homeschool year. But this is also the time of year everyone is thinking about planning for the new calendar year. I have a lot of things on my mind for personal life improvements. I also have an increasing need to balance my homemaking roles and growing responsibilities as a Virtual Assistant. As I have had time here and there over the past week, I have been trying to make some plans and actionable goals going forward in the New Year. In the midst of that, I have been following these 6 steps to set myself up for success in 2018. I thought it might be helpful to some of my readers if I shared them here.

  1. Pray: Ask God what He would have you do in regards to the plans and goals you are making for the coming year. Ask Him for guidance in choosing priorities and action steps. Ask for clarity about what things He would have you pursue and what He would have you let go of for this season. Pray for Him to be ever present in your plans and goals, to the central focus of your life as you plan and prepare.
  2. Purge: do a “brain dump” of a sorts, writing down or typing out all the different goals, ideas, plans, desires, hopes, etc. you have for the coming year. Make a list of everything that comes to mind in every area of your life that needs attention and planning. You can go back after you have created this list and divide things up into different aspects of your life, such as homemaking, parenting, work, spiritual life, physical health, etc.
  3. Prioritize: Look over your brain dump and lists. Decide what your Top 3 Priorities need to be for the coming year and choose those areas to focus on in your planning. Keep other areas on the back burner for later. This may be a good time to write down a vision statement or choose a focus word to keep in mind as you prioritize and make your plans.
  4. Plan: Write down actionable steps to reach your goals under those Top 3 Priorities. Consider what habits you need to put into place and what measures you are going to take to move toward achieving your goals.
  5. Prepare: Write down new routines and schedules and post them in a prominent place. Create and use a habit tracker to keep yourself accountable. Put important dates and info into your calendar or planner. Post your focus word or vision statement for the year somewhere visible to remind you of your goals. Gather any supplies, books, etc. needed for putting your plans into place.
  6. Practice: Now it is time to put your plans into action! It sometimes helps to start small and work your way up with new habits and new routines so that you don’t get overwhelmed. Give yourself grace if you “fall off the wagon” early on. Each day is a new day and a chance to get back to work again. Follow your action steps, and you will get closer to your goals one day at a time.

If you need extra help planning and, perhaps more importantly, putting your plans into action, my “personal planning guru” Mystie Winkler of Simplified Organization has an amazing course to help you with just exactly that! Work the Plan is effective video training that will help you make a practical plan and learn how to follow through and be productive while remaining joyful and flexible on a daily basis. And, bonus! Mystie is offering my readers a 20% Off discount if you use coupon code “tuninghearts” at checkout! Happy Planning!

Simplified Organization

Planning Our Homeschool Year

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Yes, it is Christmastime! And in our homeschool that means a more relaxed schedule with more fun and freedom. It also means it is planning time for me! Since we homeschool year-round and have a January start, this is the time of year I get all our new books ordered and figure out what our new school year is going to look like. I already got my first shipment on new-to-us classics, and I was so excited!

This year I decided to be a little more proactive and plan out more of the details than I have in the past, especially when it comes to our memory work and morning time subjects. That means I am choosing hymns, folksongs, poems, quotes and scriptures to memorize for each month of the year right now. Usually, I do that on a month-by-month basis, and inevitably I get down to the last day of the month and realize I have a bunch of work to do to choose, format and print the next set of memory work. I am hoping by getting all these things in order now, I will have a less stressful, more productive school year!

There are several other aspects of our homeschool that I am also currently evaluating and planning as we get ready for the new year, including curriculum choices and scheduling. The Plan Your Year kit from homeschool planning wizard Pam Barnhill is great for all this. She literally walks you through every step of homeschool planning, from the very beginning step of creating a vision for your homeschool all the way to organizing simple, streamlined school days. I have used some of Pam’s products for scheduling, and they really are helpful and well thought out.

Plan Your Year Ad

How about you? Are you making any plans for the new year? Even if you don’t start a new school calendar in January, this can be a great time of year to step back and reassess what has been working and what needs tweaked. It might even help avoid the dreaded February homeschool burn-out!