Sunday, October 16, 2016

TPT Giveaway!!

I'm part of a HUGE gift card giveaway with a group of sellers from TeachersPayTeachers. To enter, just follow the directions for each store. Each direction that you follow is one entry into the drawing. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 15, 2016

The 4 Ways that I Made Our Homeschool Better

I want to share with you today something that his great for me. Something that I think I finally figured out (after 3 years). I think I've finally figured out this homeschooling thing and how to stay sane!!! I made some changes this year that have effectively changed our homeschool days. I want to share them with you, because I think that they can be very helpful if you're new to this and struggling.

 #1. I said NO! Homeschool Mom Part Time Nanny Sunday School Teacher Co-op Blogger Part Time TeachersPayTeachers store owner Part Time Graphic Designer Bible Study Mom Wife Daughter and on and on..... I have always enjoyed being busy. Some weeks, I all of the things that I am a part of have an off week. There's no Bible Study, I'm not working as a nanny, and maybe Co-op is cancelled that week. How nice is it to just put up your feet for a week and enjoy the peace? NO ME! Normally, these are the weeks that I find a way to add another responsibility to my life. Then, the following week, ALL of those things on the list above, and maybe even more collide and I am a hot mess! Homeschooling goes to the bottom of the list. I'm not a great mom, wife, or daughter. Worst of all, I get depressed. I doubt myself and feel like I am failing everyone.
Well, this year, I finally found my courage and my voice. First, and with a ton of guilt, I told the church that I no longer interested in being on the regular schedule for Sunday School. I told them that I'd like to be a substitute. Beyond just decluttering my schedule, I choose to change this, because I felt like I hadn't been to church in forever. I felt like it was time for me to get some one on one time with God. The other thing that changed was my nanny gig. The truth is, I'm not really a nanny anymore. I started with this family almost 13 years ago. Their oldest is going to college next year! Then, there will be another senior coming up and a freshman in high school. My job is really just to get these kids to their activities. It's actually a pretty sweet gig, BUT doing this means that I get TOO MANY last minute phone calls for pick up and drop offs. The other unfortunate thing that has happened is that my poor son, who has been going with me to do this job since he was 8 weeks old, knows dinner from fast food better than dinner at a table. My daughter was whisked into this too. There were nights that they really needed to be at home, being read stories or sleeping and instead I was running kids around for my job. The change this year for my nanny gig....I'm limiting it to 2 nights (with an occasional 3) per week. There have been very few surprises, and we have been getting home really early so that we can still have dinner together and get to bed on time.  

#2. Funday! In years past, we have had activities on Monday morning or maybe Monday afternoon. This year, that was a BIG change!! Mondays are now an at home day. We haven't been making playdates or really going anywhere at all on Monday. The reason being, I need Monday to prepare for the week. Monday is when I realize that we are out of towels and I do some laundry and head to the bread store. This works well for me, because Monday is like a day of renewal for me. I tend to WANT to get things done and really power through them with a lot of energy, so this actually makes all too much sense!  

#3. Quiet Time! Remember when your kids were babies and they napped? It gave you about an hour or two to fold some laundry, just onto Facebook, or rest on the couch? This year, I brought nap time the form of "Quiet Time". This year, from about 1-2 pm, my kids go up to their own rooms and have an hour to play, read, or rest. They need to stay in their own rooms and they are allowed to come back down when the timer goes off.
My 7 year old, I think he secretly likes this time to himself. My 4 year old, well, she's usually calling about once every 15 minutes to see if the timer went off. As for me, I've been taking this time to do all kinds of things. Usually, the first thing to do is regroup. I look around and see what needs done......"Hmmmm....the dishes....the messing the living room....the mess in the dining room....the toys that landed on the kitchen floor....laundry...." If I'm really on top of things, I may have asked the kids to help me pick up before they go up their room. If not, I take a few minutes to pick up. Some days I work on my TPT store. One day, I realized that a show that I love was on Netflix and I watched it while I folded laundry. If I'm really tired, I try to make myself just take a break. This has been such a good thing for me!

#4. Time Away! My kids are always together! Sadly, my son doesn't have great ways of showing that he loves my daughter. He will play with her, but most of the time he is begging to get away from her. That's really hard for us. This year, I was able to make a couple changes so that they can have time away from each other.

The first, is our co-op. Thankfully, my kids each have their own class for co-op and they literally don't see each other for 4 hours on Tuesdays. The other thing, is our YMCA homeschool program. My son has been going to this for a while, but this year is the best it's ever been. The program used to be a 1 hour swim. Now it's 2 hours of gym time and swim! While I am taking him there, my Aunt come and gives Chloe her full attention. Chloe loves that, Matthew is happy, and MEEEEE....I have 2 hours to sit in the lobby of the YMCA to just think! I've been very happy with these changes. I've known that some of these needed to happen for a long time. I wish I just would have had the courage and the discipline to do what I needed to do. Consider what might make your home a happier place for homeschooling and for making peace. I hope these ideas help.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Classical Conversations Tin Whistle

This year we are trying something new for homeschooling. We decided to enroll our children in Classical Conversations. If I had to explain this program to someone that had never heard of it before, I would say: "Classical Conversations is a program that uses the classical method of learning. Much of it is done via rote memory. At the elementary level, students are memorizing facts about math, history, Latin, science, and grammar. Many of the things that they are learning are meaningless to the students now, but as they progress through the program, it comes together."

Another great feature of this program is the time spent on the Arts. We are currently finishing up a segment on drawing. Students have learned about abstract art and perspective. In a few weeks, we will move on to learning the tin whistle for 6 weeks. Then, we will spend 6 weeks on each of learning about artists and composers.

This program is wonderful for my son who just who has a talent for memorizing everything!!! My daughter, who is about to turn 5, likes that she gets to see the same kids each week. My daughter is still trying to figure out how to stay in her seat, raise her hand, and be patient in class. The other amazing part of this community is the encouragement from the other moms. I am so blessed to be a part of a community that has is so willing to give me grace.

Classical Conversations communities can be found all over. If you visit their website, you can find a community near to you or learn how to start your own.

We are coming up on starting the tin whistle, so of course I had to find a way to save a couple extra bucks! Amazon has the tin whistles for almost half of the price as the Classical Conversations website. I am ordering them today after having done some research to find that the whistles that are used are in the key of D.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Hey all!

Wonder what I've been doing lately???

Well, I finished off the summer with a new book!!!

Which is a pretty big deal for me! First, I rarely have time for a book! Second, I NEVER buy a book at retail price!!!

After reading, I can say that it was a fun read. It wasn't all that I'd hoped for, but it was good. If you're in to Harry Potter, you're going to have to read it!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Egg Hatch - Part 3

Wow! I just realized that I never shared with you how our egg hatch ended! It was amazing!!! All of our 6 eggs hatched. We got to see about half of the chicks actually do most of their hatching. It's hard to be patient, but you have to let the chicks come out in their own time so that they can gain strength.

When they were finally all born and we
could put them in their new home.

The farmer was able to help me
identify the sex of the chicks.
 The reddish yellow ones were the girls.
 The totally yellow chicks are boys.
 Of the two black chicks, one was
 a boy and one was a girl.
The way to tell them apart was a little
 more difficult. We had to wait
 a few days to see which ones/if
 they would get white spots.
 I believe that white spots meant
 we had a boy. We had one of each though.

This little gal had me worried. She wasn't
growing as well as the others
 and they were beating to the food.
 We decided to put her in her own
 are with her own food. The farmers
 told us that giving them scrambled
eggs helped a lot. That seems so wrong!

After they were all hatched and happy. They stayed with us for 2 weeks. During that time, they were pretty quiet when they were warm. Eventually, they all go pretty big (as you can see in the last video) and they were starting to get loud and a little stinky! As much as I enjoyed having them, they were certainly getting to be too much for us. We knew they were ready to roam free more than we could offer. I was happy to hear from the farmer that all of our chicks were sold within a week of our returning them. I was happy to know that we did a great job getting them to the point where they could be sold.

In case you're wondering, I absolutely LOVED this project! I wasn't sure if I would....I am NOT an animal person. I don't understand animals. I've really never had pets in my life. So this was a whole new thing for me. Thankfully, I had some help to get started and truthfully, it's easier than I'd ever imagine. I hope that you will consider doing a hatch of your own! If you do, don't forget to visit my store WeddedMommyBliss, to pick up your hatching journal. It will help you out and be fun for your kids.

To find the start of this hatching project, click Hatching Eggs Part 1

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Creating a Homeschool Budget

If you haven't read "Let's Get Started", start there!

Welcome back to my series that is helping you get started on homeschooling. This series, along with my new Homeschool Planner Plus, will help you get started and organized so that you can homeschool your family.

If you have been wondering why I'm calling it the Homeschool Planner PLUS, the PLUS has to do with the extra information that I have added to the planner. There are many pages of organization, but there are also pages where I give you some tips. Most of these tips are just based on mistakes and trials that I have had over the past few years. I feel that all of us homeschool parents are meant to help and encourage each other, so I want to share my wisdom and hopefully help you!

Today, I'm going to share some information about homeschool budgets.

Here is a look at my budget for this year. As you can see, I have yet to total it up. Thankfully, I do not need many things for this year, but if you are just starting out, you might want and need more than you are comfortable purchasing all at once. Here are some thoughts on budgeting for homeschool that may help:

1. Make a note of things that need to be paid for now and things that can wait. 
In the above picture, you can see that my first two items are swim lessons for my children. $240 for swim lessons is not in our budget in September! Luckily, this includes what I will spend for the whole year and $120 will be all that I spend in September. The other $120 will not be needed until March or April. If you really cannot afford activities for your kids, but want them to have the opportunity to join group activities, consider asking for things like homeschool swim lessons, karate or dance classes for Christmas or birthdays.

2. Shop the off season!!!
Aside from lessons, remember that you may not need to buy ALL of your curriculum books right now. See on my list where I wrote "Explode the Code #4". I wrote that down in March. As it turned out had a sale in the spring and I was able to get many of the "Explode the Code" books for $4 and under! There are many ways to save on curriculum, but checking out the homeschool websites between October and April can save you some real money!

3. Only buy what you need.
The next item on my list is printer ink. I hate that I need to put that on my list, but I use my printer often for school and nothing is worse then when I have no ink! When I wrote it down, I was expecting to pay $75. That was because I thought I was going to buy one of the sets of ink that has all of the colors and black. As it turned out, I have been very conservative with my color ink, so I decided to buy just the black ink. Also make a note, my printer ink has the option of buying longer lasting ink. This kind of ink has whatever the number is for your ink cartridge with the letters XL after it. These may cost more, but the once that I used will provide more than double the pages for a cost that is NOT double the price!!!

4. Keep your eyes open.
One of my most favorite things about summer in Pittsburgh are the church rummage sales! I have found so many gems for next to nothing! You can see that next on my list are the math books that I need for my son and the handwriting books that I need for my daughter. My eyes are wide open looking for these items! I will also be scouting ebay to see if I find them. Typically, what I find at the church rummage sales are math manipulatives. I have been lucky enough to actually go to sales where they are doing "everything you can fit in a box for $5" and find classes sets of stuff like tangrams and puzzles to go with them. That's like finding gold!!! I always grab up that stuff and I share with whoever can use it.

5. Freebies!!!!!
One thing that I planned to have on my list, but no longer need is Science curriculum for this year. I had made my mind up about what I was going to use, but did not purchase...I REALLY like to wait and not jump the gun. Well, patience paid off! A friend of mine is still new to selling Usborne Books. She asked me to host an online party and I told her that I would try my best. As it turned out, the party went insanely well! I received over $150 in free books and Usborne happens to have some great Science books, so I'm going to use what I got from there for Science this year. Here are some examples of Usborne books that I already own (my new books haven't arrived yet). Nothing is better than free!! Consider having your own Usborne party and you can also receive free books or you can order right from the site. This link, will take you to the site of the friend that was the consultant for my party. Lauren is also homeschool mom and would love the business.
Isn't this cover beautiful? The pictures
inside are just as wonderful!!!
This book may look familiar if you saw
 the post on our egg hatch. I was in love with
 this book, so I bought it!!
6. Buy your school supplies with the rest of the back to schoolers or shortly after they go back to school.
Although you may not need tons of school supplies, if you even need a few, back to school is the best time to buy. Even if you overbuy, I'm sure you will not be sorry! If you don't believe me, wait until October to buy a pack of Crayola markers. The price will no doubt be $3.97 or thereabout for 8 markers!!! That same pack of markers will be around a dollar during back to school. I usually buy 2 or 3 packs of markers and crayons per child for school. This allows me to get rid of ones that aren't working or crayons that have broken and start new midyear. I also use back to school time to load up on super cheap, like penny deals at CERTAIN office supply stores for things like "stuff a bus" donations. One year, our church was asking for donations of backpacks filled with school supplies for children in need. I was able to buy a backpack and fill it with supplies for less than $10.

Well.....get started on that budget!!! For more help on getting started with homeschooling, stay tuned!!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Let's get started...

       Yesterday I was so excited to tell you about my new "Homeschool Planner Plus". Today, I'm sharing some of information about what you need to do to get ready for the year and how you can use this planner to help you.
      The first thing that you will want to do when you decide to homeschool make a list of things that you need to do. However, that's tough when you don't know what to do! I put together a list for you and it's available as a checklist in the planner.
       The first item on the list is reviewing the homeschool laws for your state. Every state will have their own set of rules. Some states do not require you to do anything to check in. To find the rules for your state, search for the name of your state followed by the words "department of education". 
      In Pennsylvania, children do not need to officially be registered with the local school district until the age of 8 (that applies to all areas except Philadelphia and there are a few other exceptions....see Pennsylvania Department of Education for more on this). At that time, if you are planning to homeschool your child, you should right up an affidavit, have it notarized, and deliver the affidavit to your local school district's administration office. It is highly recommended that you hand deliver this if possible and get a receipt or some notification that it was received by the school. If you mail the affidavit, make sure that it is sent certified mail.
      During your school year, there are just a few things that you should be doing to prepare for the end of the year. 
            1. Keep a log of the days that you are schooling
            2. Keep a log of books that you use for school
            3. Determine if your child needs to take a standardized test and research that EARLY
            4. Keep some sample of what you child is doing in an envelope or binder
            5. Find an evaluator for the end of the year

Well, researching the rules for your state can be overwhelming, so I'm going to stop here and let you catch up!!!

**Please note that the above rules for PA are a quick summary. There are many exceptions that you should read about and learn on the Pennsylvania Department of Education website

Next up....Creating your homeschool budget!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Homeschool Planner Plus!!!

I've been so working on this in my mind for over a year!!! I'm excited to share that I have a great series coming up to help families that are new to homeschooling!!!

If you are ready to learn more, download my new product called "Homeschool Planner Plus".

There is lots of great information in this product, but some additional help if you are a homeschooler in Pennsylvania....since I happen to also be! 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Hatching Chicks - Part 2

Today is day 10 of our hatching project! I want so badly to have something to share with you, but taking pictures of these eggs is very difficult!! Here is what I do have...

 This video will (hopefully) show you some of the veins that we can see when we "candle" the eggs.
This is the one picture that I got that showed anything. See that light spot on the bottom of the egg? That is the sac of air that the baby chicks will take their first breaths from! Each egg has a nice air sac.

That's as "eggciting" as things are getting around here. We have about 10 more days until hatch day! We are excited to see which egg will hatch first!

Click here to go to my store and purchase my "Hatching Eggs" activity pack.

Click here for: Hatching Chicks - Part 1
Click here for: Hatching Chicks - Part 3

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Hatching Chicks - Part 1

Have you ever been so nervous about something that you create your own obstacles to keep yourself from feeling guilty about not doing "the thing".

I have been tossing around the idea of hatching baby chicks with my children for a couple of years. I learned about this farm that is about an hour away from us and they give you everything you need to do the entire project! They even let you bring the chicks back when you're done, which is just the right amount of commitment for me!

After coming up with a couple years worth of reasons to not do this project, I finally jumped in with both feet and scheduled a day to pick up everything and visit the farm.

Prior to going, I searched to see if I could find any resources that would go along with this project. I did not find anything that I felt was really good, so this has also turned into a working project for me.

How about some pictures?
This is the bin (which will become a brooder) that we picked up from the farm. They included all of the supplies in here. We HAD already started to unpack it.....we couldn't WAIT to get started!
Here are the rest of the supplies that came in the bin. This is the incubator, eggs, and the "candle" (aka...led flashlight for looking at the eggs as they grow)
 These books also came in our bin. They are amazing when it comes to explaining what is happening with our eggs.

We were told to let our eggs settle for a few hours from the drive home. The farmer also said that we could write on the eggs if we wanted to name them. We couldn't resist! Introducing.......

 and LUCY
(We also have Chicklet....he seems to be MIA, but he's here)
Once everyone was named. We put the eggs into the incubator and we were off!
The next day.....

I wish I had a picture of my daughter when she got up and realized that there were not any baby chicks yet. This will certainly be a good lesson in patience for her.
At this point, I had started on my egg hatching activity for my store Wedded Mommy Bliss. The first activity was to look at the eggs and just color the 7 eggs to look like the eggs that we had. We also answered questions about what we felt and smelled. I loved that my son said that it smelled like scrambled eggs in the incubator.
 On the left, my son only wanted to color "his" eggs.My daughter and I worked on the right side. You can see the big black "X"....I did that, because we lost "Snowball" (yes, he didn't even get pictured above...) before we ever even got started.
Here are our eggs, just keeping warm!
This project will continue until the end of February. Please check back to see how we are doing and when our baby chicks hatch!!

Also, please visit Wedded Mommy Bliss to find my egg hatching activity. Likely it will be finished well before the eggs are hatched! 
Click here for: Hatching Chicks - Part 2
Click here for: Hatching Chicks - Part 3