Apr 13, 2018

5 Reasons Why We Homeschool Year Round

I homeschool my children year round. Our schedule and the type of things we do during the summer is different than what we do during the traditional school year. In the summer we do more nature studies, poetry, art, and whatever else might interest my kids at the time.

Here are my 5 reasons why I homeschool all year!

I don't want my kids to forget all the things they learned at the end of the school year when we get back into school after summer. I like to make sure they stick to their math lessons and reading. This is especially important to me for my younger ones who are just learning to read.

We get to do a lot of outside learning. We live in Michigan where winter can be long. (It's April 13th and we have snow storms coming)
Summer allows us to get outside and explore science through nature. We do a lot of our nature studies in the summer. I even have some fun poetry teatimes planned for this summer!

We are always ahead.
Because we school through the summer, we can take longer breaks during the traditional school year. For Christmas break, we can take 3 weeks off. If the weather is nice in the fall we can take a "sun day" and enjoy the weather before it gets cold.

During the traditional school year, I can slow down lessons that the kids who might need a bit more time understanding it. I don't feel rushed or a time pressure to get things completed. The kids don't feel that either so it helps them perform better.

Because of all these reasons we can gently homeschool year long. We have no need to "hit things hard" or rush to finish anything. All of this makes homeschooling more enjoyable for the kids and less stressful for me.

Mar 11, 2018

4 Practical Ways To Keep A House Clean | A Wise Woman Part 2

In part 1 of my Wise Woman blog series, we looked at this verse found in Proverbs.

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 14:1

You can find part one of the series HERE.

In part one, I started to talk about keeping my house clean. As a homemaker, this is important to me. I feel like in the society we live in today the art of keeping a home is lost and often looked at as not important or trivial. I decided to look at housekeeping more seriously and started to be intentional about it. My house has never been cleaner.

There are practical ways we can use to ensure our homes are being cleaned. I'm a homeschooling mom of 5 and don't have time to clean my house all day. I came up with a few ways to make my job easier and I'd like to share those with you. 

1. Come up with a weekly cleaning schedule.
This has saved me so much time and even my sanity. Each day of the week I have a specific chore to get done. For example on Mondays, I deep clean my living room. This means everything is dusted, windows are washed, and furniture is pulled out so I can sweep under everything. This is something I do on top of my daily chores like dishes, sweeping, and laundry. Having a weekly schedule helps each area of my house be deep cleaned so I don't get overwhelmed and try to deep clean every room in 1 day. Pinterest has lots of cleaning schedules! 

2. Have your children help with chores.
Having kids help around the house teaches them how to take care of a home and helps out the family. Even kids of a young age are able to help with chores. My 4yr old loves to set the table, load the dishwasher, and make her bed. It might not be perfect but she is learning. My older girls help put laundry away, take the trash out, and help keep an eye on the younger ones so I can get things done.

3. Find cleaning products you love.
This might sound silly but I find that if I love the smell of the cleaning product I am using, it motivates me to clean. I like to stick with simple and safe cleaning products that are safe to use around babies and pets.

4. Give yourself a day of rest.
We all need a break and time to be renewed. I take a day of rest on Sundays. I will still do the daily chores but I don't do more than what I need to do. I love to take Sundays and work on my blog, read, and spend time with my family.

These are all very simple tips but I promise they will help you. For many years I allowed myself to become overwhelmed by housework. Sometimes I didn't even know where to start and became unmotivated to clean. Gives these tips a try and let me know how to has helped you.

I believe keeping our homes clean is an important thing for many reasons. For one, having a clean home helps to keep our family safe and healthy. It's also so much easier to relax in a home that is neat and tidy. No one wants to come home to a messy house. I also think it's important to have a clean home because you never know who will stop by. I want my house to be welcoming and I don't want to feel embarrassed if it's trashed. Sure I might have dishes that need to be loaded into the dishwasher but I won't have last nights dinner still left out on the table and counters.

I want to be clear that I am not saying that your home should be perfectly cleaned at all times of the day. We are busy women. Some of us have jobs, multiple children, health issues, or are going through some hard times. It's important that we give ourselves grace and just do the best we can in the season of life that we are in.

Mar 8, 2018

Homeschool Q&A

I asked my facebook friends to share some questions they had about homeschooling. Here are some of those questions.

What is the process to start homeschooling your children 
This depends on the state you live in. If you are interested in homeschooling your child you should look up your state laws. HSLDA is a great resource for state laws about homeschooling.

Do you ever fear they will have social anxiety from homeschooling and not being in a school environment?
 I personally do not worry that my kids will have social anxiety because we homeschool. In fact, our kids are more socially engaged in healthy environments and with people of all ages. My 13yr old can talk to a 30yr old just as confidently as she can talk with someone her own age.
My kids are involved in activities with kids of their own ages like church clubs, co-op classes, sports, and library functions.

How long per day do you have to spend on each lesson and are they homeschooled approximately the same hours that they would be in school?

Some states require that you count hours of school instead of days. We are in a state that counts the days.
The second part of this question will be different depending on the family. For our family, no, my kids are not schooled the same hours as they would be in public school.
There are many different reasons for this. In a school setting, you usually have one teacher in a class teaching 25 or more students. I am able to give my children one on one attention during a lesson and this makes it go by faster. Once they understand a concept, we move on to the next lesson.
We start school at 9am. My 2nd grader and preschooler are done with school by 12. My 6th and 8th grader is done around 1 or 2. (This includes breaks)

How do you keep the kids socialized and are there still after school type of activities they can do? Band? Dances?
I keep my kids socialized just like any other kid. They go to birthday parties, have friends over or go to a friend's home, and make new friends at a number of different outings. My kids go to church kid group and Sunday school, dance classes, library activities, or other homeschool related outings with other families. There are so many ways to socialize a child without having them go to public school.

In my state homeschool kids can still participate in activities at their local public school. They can join sports teams, take classes, and even do band or choir. I'm not sure if this is an opportunity in all states so you will have to look up that information for your state.

How do you teach all of them at once if they're in different grades?
I spend most of my time teaching my 2nd grader and preschooler. My 8th and 6th grader are excellent readers and can do 90% of their work without me. I am available to answer questions or help them but I want them to be independent learners because I believe this will help them in the future.
I can also group them all together on different subjects. We all do Bible work together, poetry, nature study, and are currently learning about all of the US Presidents.
It's all about balance and time management. It took me some time to learn how to do this, but we made it work.

How do you go about starting homeschool? Where do you get the curriculum?
To start homeschooling you should first look into your state laws. I would also find some local homeschool moms that you can talk with. You can learn a lot from other homeschool families. I will expand more on this question in another blog.
You can get curriculum anywhere. There are many different companies to purchase from and you can also buy materials from Amazon. It all depends on what kind of curriculum you are looking for. I like to purchase from Amazon, Timberdoodle, Rainbow Resources and Christian Books websites. You can also find things on Pinterest and your local library.

What do you do when you reach a subject that you yourself are not very good at?

Thankfully there are a number of wonderful curriculum that will do all the teaching for you.
I am not the best at math so my kids use Teaching Textbooks. It's a computer-based program that teaches my kid's math and keeps track of their progress and scores. You can find similar curriculum for just about any subject.

How do you know if your child is where they should be?

Some states will require that homeschool children take tests. We are in a state that does not require this of us, but we can still have them tested. Testing can be done online or through a local school, or other private testing agencies.
Some curriculum will compare their levels to public school grade levels. I find that most homeschool materials are ahead of public school standards with their grade levels.

What does a normal day consist of?

This is a great question and I will have to write a separate blog on it, otherwise, this blog post will be too long.

Do you follow a schedule?
I like to start our homeschool days at 9. We have a little routine we follow to help us keep on track. I like to keep it simple here.

What kind of outside of home activities do you do?
Church, dance, drawing class, piano, library events, and community functions. I do my best to not over schedule our family so we can focus on our work at home during the traditional school months.

I hope you found this helpful and if you have any more questions, feel free to let me know!

Feb 23, 2018

A Wise Woman | Part 1

The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.
Proverbs 14:1

This verse weighs heavy on my heart as I never want to be the foolish woman. I want to be found building my house up. Does this always happen? No. I am far from the type of wife I want to be but I work daily to be better. I am only human and even on my best days, I fail. But, this is not about slipping up here or there. Mistakes happen and we can correct it. Building a home takes a lot of time and effort. Here are a few ways we can be the wise woman.

The wise woman builds her houseWe are not just talking about the physical homes we live in. The Greek definition of house is defined as a household, family, lineage, and nation.
So how do we build?
I am going to touch on this questions in 3 different ways I build my house. Later, I will expand on each topic in a severe blog post. Basically, I am going to make this into a series.
*Disclaimer* I am NOT perfect. I am just a woman who loves the Lord and wants to be a wise woman building her house. I have many areas in my life that I am working on and other areas that I really need improvement on. I make lots of mistakes and give thanks to God for his forgiveness.

To build my home I do my best to keep it clean. Yes, my dirty laundry piles up, you can find toys on my living room floor, and please don't look in my sink. But, I make sure my husband has clean socks to wear every morning, that my kids have cleaned their rooms, spills are cleaned up, and bathrooms are disinfected. It's important to me that my house is clean and I take it seriously. (most days)

I also build my house by building up my husband. It's one of my top priorities that my husband knows how much I appreciate him. I do not talk bad about him on social media and you won't find me disrespected him publically. I also try very hard to respect him as the leader of our household and submit to his God-given authority. Some of these things are easier than the others, and I am definitely not perfect in them. I am very much a work in progress and will always continue to be.

My children are the things that I will leave behind in this world when I am called to heaven. I want my kids to be God-loving people who will one day also raise God-loving kids. I teach my children about God and study the Bible with them. I show my kids grace, love, forgiveness, and discipline. I protect them from bad outside influences and try to keep them away from things that can damage them. I want to raise my kids intentionally for the Lord!

I could go on and on, on this topic. I decided to keep it short and expand on each later. There are many other ways a woman can build her house and I'm sure you can find more information on this topic. I would love to hear from you in ways that you build your home. Leave a comment below!

Feb 12, 2018

Baltic Amber Necklaces | Do they really work?

When people see that my 6-month-old daughter has a necklace on I get asked questions. What is that? Do they work? Are they safe? All of these questions I have asked myself before deciding to purchase one. I thought this would a great topic to write on and help to answer these questions for you.

First of all, I am in no way an expert on this. I'm just simply a mom who uses Baltic Amber necklaces. In fact, this is my second time using one. Before Raegan, I had one for Haddy. I love them and have noticed a difference in using them with both of my girls. I wish I would have known about these with my other three kids!

What is a Baltic Amber necklace?
A Baltic Amber necklace is often worn by babies to help naturally cut the pain of teething.It is thought that when the necklace is worn by a baby the warmth of their skin releases tiny amounts of oil onto their skin that is then absorbed into their bloodstream. That is my not so scientific explanation on how it works. Of course, you can do a fast Google search and find all kinds of articles better explaining how Baltic Amber necklaces work and what they are.

Do they work?
For us, yes they work. When Haddy wore hers we didn't even realize she was teething till her teeth had already poked up through her gums. She didn't show any signs of teething. She was not crabby, didn't drool, and didn't have a fever. I was completely sold after that.
With Raegan, her amount of drool has cut down significantly since wearing it. Raegan doesn't have any teeth coming in, but when she does we will see how it works for her. I will even come back and update this post. (Typically our children don't start to get teeth until closer to 12 months)

Are they safe?
Yes and no, it all depends on the parent. If you do decide to purchase a Baltic Amber necklace for your baby, you should follow these guidelines.

1. Never leave your baby unattended while wearing it, especially if you notice them reaching for it and trying to chew on it. With my girls, they didn't even pay attention to the necklace. I doubt they even realized it was there.

2. Remove the necklace during naps and bedtime. I usually just wrap the necklace around their ankle and zip up their pajamas so they can't get to the necklace. If your baby won't leave it alone, I would just take it off.

As with anything, use common sense. These necklaces can be used safely and you should follow the directions that the company/business you purchase from recommends.

How do I know if I am buying a real Baltic Amber necklace?
You can do a few things with this. If you know someone who has used a Baltic Amber necklace with their child, ask them where they purchased it from.
I like to buy from Etsy, but there are all kinds of other places to buy from. I did find a great website with a lot of information on Baltic Amber. This website also sells a number of Baltic Amber jewelry. You can find their website here.

Jan 23, 2018

Funny Things Parents Say To Their Kids

Have you ever said something to your child that made you shake your head? Have you said something that made you think that this is something you never thought you would have to say to another human being? I have done this so many times, especially when it comes to my son.

I asked parents what were some funny things they have said to their children and I got some great responses. I want to share them with you for a good laugh. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

Don't lick snow off the handrail.

Don't lick your popsicle drips off the gas station floor.

Stop licking your sister!

What are you doing behind that tree?! Pull your pants up and get over here now! No, you cannot pee on the tree, you’re a girl for crying out loud!

The IRS does not kill people with *axes*! They require us to pay *TAXES*!

Stop touching your butt!

Don't sit on your baby sister's head.

Is everyone wearing underwear? 

I'll pay you to take a nap.

No, you can't drink toilet water.

No, you cant eat soup with a toilet seat around your neck.
Is that chocolate or poop? Actually, I really don’t want to know.
Don't pick your brother's nose and eat it.
Quit putting money in your undies.
Don't pee on a random car in Walmart parking lot.

This was a fun post to write up. I had so many people messaging and commenting on all sorts of funny things they have had to say.
What are some funny things you have said to your kids?

Jan 7, 2018

Getting Rid Of Junk

The holidays have long passed but we are still on a homeschool break. I think as moms we don't ever get a break for the holidays. We are busy baking, cooking, wrapping, cleaning, and preparing for all the events that will take place. And once it's all over, we have a mess of things to do.

I don't know about you but my to-do list is long after the holidays. Decorations need to be taken down, new toys need to find a place, and I always try to hit up those 50% off sales after Christmas. After that is all finished, it's time to think about the new year. This is when I go on my cleaning and purging frenzy.

Even though this week has been busy with me getting all these things done, it feels good. I have gotten rid of so many unneeded and unwanted things. My house feels renewed, refresh, and clean.

Speaking of getting rid of things we don't need, how is your heart this new year? I'm not talking about your physical heart but your spiritual heart. Is your heart full of junk? Maybe you have some resentment cluttering up the cabinets, unforgiveness hidden in the back of your closet, anger lurking in the basement, or sadness taking up space under your bed.

Just as we clean out our home, we need to the same with our hearts. Carrying around junk makes it hard to keep things neat and tidy. It also makes it difficult to find room for new things like joy, love, and peace.

We need to take an inventory of what we have going on in our hearts and do some purging. It's a lot of work but once it's done you feel refreshed. So I challenge you to take your heart and all it's junk to the Lord in prayer. Ask him to help you work through the things you might have pushed into the junk drawer through the year. Chances are when you're done, your heart will feel renewed, refresh, and clean.

Jan 5, 2018

Large Family Grocery Shopping

One of the top questions I get asked is how I shop for our family. Many people are shocked when I tell them we feed our family of 7 on $400 a month. I don't use coupons and I stick to two stores, Wal-Mart and a day old bread store.

It's taken me a few years to figure all of this out. I tried couponing, driving to other stores for sales, using apps, and paying attention to flyers. None of those worked for me. I just need to get to the store and get out without having to mess with coupons or apps.

Here is how I do it.

Meal Plan

I start off by planning all our dinners. For our family dinner is the most expensive meal. I can easily plan breakfast and lunch, more on that later. I first figure out how many dinners I need to plan for. So for January, I will need 31 dinners. I grab a notebook and number the lines 1 to 31. I automatically give myself 4 "free" days as I like to call them. These are times we will eat leftovers or go out to dinner. After I do that I finish planning for the rest of the days. I add in my lunches and breakfasts by writing out all the things we will eat. Example: Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets, leftover dinner, etc. And for breakfast I know we eat oatmeal, eggs, toast, Cheerios, pancakes, yogurt, etc.

Grocery List

After I have my meal plan I go through the list and count up what I need to buy meat wise. I write all of that into my list and try to buy in bulk, if I can. I can later separate and freeze meat when I get home. Once I have all my dinner, lunch, and breakfast grocery list made out I add in snacks. 

Grocery Shopping

I shop at Wal-Mart for almost all of our food. I compare the prices and ingredients and try to make the best choice. After doing this for so many shopping trips you learn what brands to buy for your family. I will also buy things in bulk, like pancake mix. This way I can make up a bunch of pancakes and freeze them. I stick to my list the best I can. For bread, I shop at a local day old bread store. We buy 15 to 20 loafs of bread and freeze them in our deep freezer.

Home Cooking

Throughout the month I will check off the things I have made for my family. I try to plan out what I will make for dinner a week at a time so I stay on track. Of course, through the month we might need milk or other odds and ends we run out of. But the majority of my shopping is done on one day for that month.

Keep Your Lists

Keep your lists. For the following months, I look back at the previous month and plan out that month. I take a few meals out and add in new ones. I take the previous grocery list and work off that for what I need to get for the upcoming month. This saves me so much time.  

What you end up spending on your family on groceries will depend on what you buy and where you live. For our family, I choose to make simple meals and limit the number of processed foods we buy. Because of where we live fresh produce is hard to come by for decent prices, especially in the winter.

I hope you find this helpful. Just remember that what works for my family might not work for yours. It takes time to figure it all out and have a plan in place that works well for you and your family.

What are your tips and tricks for grocery shopping?

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