Jun 22, 2018

The Good and The Beautiful Controversy | My Personal Thoughts


If you are using The Good and The Beautiful homeschool curriculum or have been thinking about it then I'm sure you know somewhat about what is going on. If not, here is a basic rundown.
The Good and The Beautiful is a non-denominational curriculum produced by Jenny Phillips. One of the issues some homeschoolers are having with this is that the creator is a Mormon.

My family and I personally use the curriculum, and we love it. I have yet to come across anything about the Mormon religion. TGTB does a wonderful job keeping the curriculum non-denominational. I know of many other homeschoolers who love this curriculum as well.

So, here are my thoughts on all of this. I think it is great to read reviews and hear the thoughts of others when it comes to a curriculum, but they are all just opinions. We should take opinions with a grain of salt and form our own decisions. Believe me, I am guilty of following along with what someone else is doing, and it always ends up not working out for me. You should do what works best for your children.

As far as the religious beliefs of Jenny herself, it doesn't bother me. I am careful about all curriculum, books, and tv shows that I allow my Children to view/use. As parents, we should all be careful about what we use and not be blind even if the creator of the material has the same convictions that we have. Curriculums are simply a tool we use in our homeschool and it should never rule our lives. The reviews and opinions of others should only help guide us, not make a decision for us. (that includes my opinions)

Those are my thoughts on this topic. We do plan to use TGTB in the school year to come. I also plan to have a more detailed review of TGTB on my blog in the very near future. Make sure you subscribe to my blog and follow me on my social media accounts so you don't miss anything!

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Jun 18, 2018

5 Tips to Start Your Homeschool

I get messages and comments almost daily asking about homeschooling and how to get started. When I decided to homeschool I had so many questions and really didn't know where to turn. So, in this post, I will lay out some great resources in getting started and different things you can do to start your homeschool journey. Here are my 5 tips in getting started with homeschooling your kids.

1. Research your State laws.
You need to know what your state requires of homeschool families. States are all different and have different laws. Some require testing, keeping track of hours, or schooling for 180 days. It's important to know what your State will need from you. HSLDA is a wonderful place to find all that information.

2. Get Connected.
One of the first things I did when I decided to homeschool was to find local Facebook groups. I just typed in the name of my town and added the word "

homeschool" after it. I found a few groups and made some valuable connections. I learned about the different programs our community had to offer for homeschooling families. I also made some great friends.

3. Educational approach.
There are so many different types of homeschool methods. I recommend trying to figure out how you want to homeschool so you can easily narrow down your search for curriculum. Here are some methods to help get you started.
Unschooling
Eclectic
Charlotte Mason
Classical
Waldorf
Montessori
Online Schooling

(It's okay if you identify with more than one of these approaches)

4. Curriculum
This is where homeschooling can get overwhelming. There are tons of curriculum choices out there and they all range in different prices. Don't let this part stress you out. Before I bought any curriculum I watched YouTube videos and read online reviews. I checked out prices and made a list of all the things I would need. It helps to know how your child learns best so you can tailor their curriculum to best fit their needs. I will leave some links below of places you can find curriculum at.
Timberdoodle
Rainbow Resources
Christain Book

There are many other sites you can use, including Amazon. The three I shared are the ones that I personally use the most.

5. Relax
Homeschooling can be whatever you want it to be for your family. If you are pulling your kids from public school, take some time to unwind from it. Your homeschool does not need to be like public school or someone else's homeschool. Do what works for you and your children. Chances are you will change up your schedule and even curriculum choices throughout the years of homeschooling. It's all okay! It helps to have some good homeschool mom friends to help encourage you through these times.

I hope you found this helpful. If you did, go ahead and give it a share! Thanks for reading.




Jun 13, 2018

Why We Chose Baby Led Weaning

 

Co-sleeping, attachment parenting, and crunchy mom are just a few labels for different ways of parenting. I prefer not to use any of these but instead just do what works for our family and kids. This brings me to the topic of baby led weaning.

When I first heard about it I had no idea what it was. I assumed it just meant you let the baby decide when they are ready to eat food and wean from breastfeeding. I was kind of wrong. Baby led weaning is offering baby foods that they feed to themselves. You don't puree anything and you don't feed them baby food. You instead cut food into strips and let the baby feed themselves. Sound scary? Yeah, I thought so too.

I didn't plan to do baby led weaning. In fact, I bought everything I needed to make and store all my own homemade baby food. But when it came time for my baby to eat food, she refused it. She would smack the spoon away from her face and refuse to open her mouth. I figured she just wasn't ready for solid foods and decided that we would wait a little longer. A few weeks would pass and I would try it again, she still refused.

This battle went on for weeks. I finally decided to just give over and try baby led weaning. I read up on it as much as I could and even joined a great facebook group to learn more. After making myself more familiar with BLW, we gave it a try.

We started out with avocados and it was a huge success! She took a few bites of it and played a lot with it. She had fun! There was a learning curve for my baby on how to chew food and swallow it. She did gag a lot, but she never chocked. She was slow moving with BLW. Sometimes she just wanted to play with her food, but we kept offering it to her.

Eventually, Raegan started to eat without gagging and she learned how to chew her food. She is 10 months old and feeds herself very well. She likes all types of foods but loves anything that has carbs! (Girl after my own heart.)

All of that to say, we chose BLW because it is what worked best for our baby. There are so many benefits to BLW and if we have another baby we would probably do BLW again.

If you are interested in doing BLW with your baby, I highly recommend doing some research first. There are some things you do need to know before you start and some safety factors to consider. Here is the facebook group I joined that is full of very useful information, tips, recipes, and even encouragement. The group is named Baby Led Weaning for Beginners & Beyond (BLWBB)

May 22, 2018

Weight Loss


I want to be honest and transparent in my writing. Even though this is embarrassing to admit, I weigh over 200lbs. I'm not confident to reveal my actual weight, but a few weeks ago, I was the heaviest I have ever been. (not including pregnancy weight) 

Of course, this weight gain didn't happen overnight. It's taken me 13yrs, 6 pregnancies, a miscarriage, a stillborn, losing my mom and sister, and lots of depression to get here. Naturally, I can't expect the weight to come off overnight. I know it's going to take a lot of hard work and I am finally prepared for it.

I started to lose weight in April. That is when I finally got serious about this. It's May now and I am still sticking with it. I am very proud of myself! I have been sharing my weight loss journey on Instagram and have gotten messages asking what I am doing. So, let's dive into that question.

I am not following a program, taking supplements, or following a specific workout routine. I am doing things slowly and changing my lifestyle so things will stick and become a habit. I am still breastfeeding, so I am carefully making sure that what I do does not affect my milk supply. I'm ready for a change, and so far it is working.

I try to eat a low carb diet. I limit sugary foods and eat smaller portions of food. I don't want to remove foods that I love from my diet like brownies or ice cream. I do limit how often I can have those and eat small portions of them. This has been working out very well for me so far. I enjoy eating healthy foods like salads, but I do not like fruit. I've been finding lots of new ways to enjoy old recipes by taking out carbs and replacing them with things like spaghetti squash.
(I share a lot of the foods I am eating on my Instagram stories, follow me here)

As far as working out goes, I've stayed very consistent. In April, I focused a lot on changing my eating habits. I knew I needed to start there before I added anything else. Since the beginning of May, I have been walking 1 to 2 miles a day. I also started to add in climbing stairs once a week. There's a place in town that has 500 stairs to climb. It's a killer workout but it feels good to be able to complete something so hard. I will continue doing this through May. In June, I would like to add in lifting weights.

My goal here is to feel better and be healthy. As a family, we try and eat organic foods and don't eat a lot of processed stuff. We have also been limiting meals with meat and adding in replacements like Quinoa. I want to feel better emotionally and physically. I also want my kids to learn from me that our physical health is important and we should make efforts to be healthy.  

If you'd like to follow along on this journey with me, follow me on Instagram. I look forward to updating my weight loss in the months to come.
What are some things that you do to stay healthy or lose weight? I'd love to hear from you, leave me a comment below.

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!


1
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.

2
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!

3
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.

4
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.

5
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!


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