Thursday, November 29, 2012

Break Down, Slow Down

So about a month ago I felt very much on the verge of a break down. I just felt that I was a wife, mom, teacher & that was all, no me anymore! I love being all three of those things, but as my husband asked me what I liked to do when I had time for myself, I simply didn't have an answer. As I really thought about this I realized that I have never really had a hobby. I did used to DJ parties when I was in IL, but gave it up when I moved here. I really needed a hobby that I could do at home, between teaching, whether it was for a few minutes or a few hours. I decided to try crocheting. So 2 weeks ago I signed up for a class at Hobby Lobby. I have tried to crochet on my own before, buying a starter kit and all, but needed some guidance. I loved it! The 1 & 1/2 hour class just flew buy & since then I've made 3 scarves!

The real test was last week, Thanksgiving week. My husband had the entire week off work. Usually when he is off work it is him sleeping and reading all time and me being annoyed he's not 'doing' anything. I have to say this vacation week, however, was wonderfully peaceful! Since I have been crocheting it gives me something to do. I love how calm it makes me feel and I can take it anywhere! I feel like I've been more patient in general with my family because of it, which makes me happy!

What hobby do you enjoy? If you don't have one, get one soon!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Great School Deals

I am writing this quick blog to make sure you check out some of the deals right now at Home School Buyers Co Op. This website has amazing deals on all sorts of programs and curriculum for your kids! Go under the Group Buys tab & you will see all kinds of programs, you can even sort by the grade level you are looking for. The group buys are great because the more people that buy that deal, the lower the price comes down.

I want to mention a couple things on the site right now that I am using & love!

Home Art Studio - I cannot say enough good things about this DVD. My daughter has always loved arts & crafts and I, unfortunately do not. All I do is put in the DVD & set out the art supplies needed for the lesson & the art teacher, Lindsey Volin, does the rest. My daughter gets her art class, and I don't have to do it, so we are both happy. Currently you may order the DVDs for K-5 grade level.

Dream Box Learning - This is one of the two online programs we are using right now. DreamBox learning is all math games. The thing I love about DreamBox is they don't 'box' your child into a certain grade level. They let you know upfront not to help your child at all with the program, so it can be tailored to what they know & jump off from there. They have an excellent Parent Dashboard that tells you how your child is doing and even breaks it down on what things they have accomplished in each grade level of math.

Those are just a couple of things I've been using this year, that are on sale right now. There are a few things I have my eye on to order. You can also set up reminders from their website (if you need to wait until payday like me). Make sure you check out the Home School Buyers Co Op before you buy any books, programs, or magazines for schooling!

Friday, November 2, 2012


I feel like when you start home schooling, it's a lot like when you bring your baby home from the hospital. It's new & beautiful & lovely, you are learning & growing with your child, then it happens. Something (enter your personal experience here) happens that makes you step back & say, 'I didn't expect this, what do I do now?' It's like you finally 'know' what you're doing & where you are going & BAM, no, that isn't going to work now. Well, with children they just keep on growing up so guess what, we have to keep changing what we're doing. This is exactly the same with schooling.

We started Kindergarten the end of August, and now at the beginning of November we have had to switch out different things. I was getting a little frustrated, thinking it was my planning that was off. Then today I read on my favorite homeschool website, The Secular Homeschool, they have a poll on who has made changes on their curriculum this year. Guess what? Right now only 4 people haven't made changes. Whew! What a relief! It's nice to know you are not alone in the world because sometimes when you are a stay at home mom you feel like no one else feels your frustrations. They do!

I have to tell you about a book I just finished reading, I Was A Really Good Mom Before I Had Kids by Tricia Ashworth & Amy Nobile. These 2 moms interviewed a ton of mothers, in every different life situation and made this book. This book made me laugh, gasp and tear up. Most of all this book is a great read because you realize you are not alone on those hard days, in fact I guarantee when you read this you'll realize one of these moms have had a worse day than you!

Change is good! Just remember, "Will you succeed? Yes you will indeed! Ninety-eight and three quarters guaranteed!" ~ Dr. Suess

Monday, October 1, 2012


Who doesn't love freedom? Freedom to do what you want when you want. Well that's what homeschooling is all about. Just because you have the freedom in homeschooling though doesn't mean you won't have the work, in fact, you'll have more.

Because of the way I choose to home school I have to get school work ready for our work week. Right now it is taking about me about 4 hours & I usually gather work for 2 weeks at a time. It's not just me, that is a lot of time right? After a few weeks I was thinking, I should have just bought a curriculum. In the end that extra time of work that I do gives me the freedom to teach my daughter the things she needs to work on & the things I want her to learn.

Socialization freedom. So when it comes to home schooling you also have the freedom to chose different social things for your child. I have found there is actually a lot of Home School programs when you look for them. In my area, there are programs specifically for home schoolers at the library, I have found a golf program, Art programs, and a Science program through 4-H and more. Since this is our first year, I decided to keep it simple and only go to one program although next year I have my eye on a couple.

I want to talk for a minute about Home Schooling Co-Ops. If you are not familiar with these, you are not alone, I actually didn't know about this until we've already started our school year. A Home School Co-Op is, in essence, just a local group of home schoolers and their parents. Locally, I looked into the one where I live and found that to join I would have to pay a fee (I think it was $50) and had to guarantee that I could devote some of my time for Co-Op activities. Now these are not unreasonable requests considering that they schedule fun activities, field trips & even conduct school classes once a week where you can drop your child off for the day, just like they are going to school. Not to say anything negative about Co-Ops, I just know it's not for us. I do find that a lot in the Home School community online find them quite necessary for socialization.

 Again, sweet freedom, I decided in this regard, I was going to go, maybe against the grain, I didn't want to spend money and devote time to volunteer when I feel, currently anyway, that my week is packed as it is. And although sending my daughter to a class for a day a week sounded tempting for selfish reasons, the whole point is that I have control of what she is learning.

If you are worried about socialization with your home schooled child there are plenty of options out there! So if you are thinking about even possibly home schooling your child, I encourage you to just peek online & see what there is! Don't be overwhelmed by it all, just think of it as the freedom to chose any path you'd like.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

#crazy #lazy #hashtags

I know you have all been there, rolling your eyes at your parents because of something they said that sounds ridiculous, thinking they don't know what they are talking about.  Then you become an adult and something slips out of your mouth and you stop and think, 'ahh, I just sounded like my mother.' Then you become a parent and you start understanding what your parents were talking about.

I am definitely there. I am in my mid 30's and have a 5 year old and I can already feel a small generation gap. Sometimes I can see the eye rolling when I say something and it brings me back to that feeling. To make it worse is the increasing technology being made available. I love technology and my daughter isn't 'schooling' me yet, but I know the day will come.

Ok, that brings me to my rant on hashtags. Ok, so I'm on Twitter, I know the purpose they serve on there. But I'm noticing a disturbing trend of the non stop hashtags on Facebook and instant messages, even emails. What is the purpose here? For example I'll see something like this, " A beautiful day for a walk in the park. #park #walk #exercise #sunny #fresh air" All your hashtags are telling me is things you've already wrote or things that are pretty obvious. Sometimes I will see a picture posted with no sentence and 20 different hashtags. Wouldn't it have been easier to put all those words together & form a sentence? Am I the only one who does not like where this is going? I'm just afraid that once my girl gets to be a teenager that she will just use one word to convey to me a whole conversation.

So what, if any, generation gaps are you feeling?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Happy Joy Joy

I don't know what it is but I am in a very happy mood today. (Maybe because yesterday was our wedding anniversary & the night ended with dinner out with good friends & roses from my husband). But whatever it is, I am feeling happy & positive! Don't you just love those days? Thought I had better blog while I still had the fairy dust on me!

We are into week two & I am loving it! It does help that my daughter is eager to start every morning & constantly looks to the next thing we are working on, I keep telling her to focus on what is in front of her (don't look behind the curtain!).

We start every morning at the board. I have a number of the day & she has to answer five questions regarding the number (Odd or Even, Subtract 3, Add 20, < or > 50, Next Number?), it's a nice light way to begin the morning. I have also just made a weather board. I saw this idea on Pinterest & after purchasing my own laminator I made one this past weekend! You can see the Pin I took it from here.

We are loving it!

Our day has been starting at 8:30am, we take an hour lunch break where I allow her to play (mainly because she does not complain to start back up & we don't have recess - much less a yard to have recess being in an apartment). This lunch hour is very necessary for me as well. Besides making both our lunches, I clean up a bit from school work & supplies we are done using, and maybe have time to do my household chore of the day (yes, I do one household chore a week - by the end of the week, house is cleaned, another brilliant idea from Pinterest), or I relax a bit. After that hour our energy is renewed & we are ready to complete our day! Our day seems to be ending between 1:30-2:00.

I hope all you other newbies are also finding your groove... ;)

Thursday, August 23, 2012

We're off....and tripping

What is it about being a mom and getting sick? Obviously getting sick is never fun or convenient but when you are a mom and even more so, a home schooling mom, it feels like the end of the world, you can't really have a sick day when you have a child.

Today I woke feeling like I was hit by a truck. Pain in my head, ears, teeth, neck, back and stomach. I mean seriously what kind of medicine do you take for all those symptoms? I digress. Last week I would have told my daughter that I wasn't feeling good and needed to sleep. Done. This week it's a different story, having the responsibility of being a Kindergarten teacher, I dragged myself up and started to get together school supplies for the day.  It started off normal but then an hour into school work, she had a frustration meltdown!

So now we have taken a break from the worksheets and she did her Reading Kingdom online and is now currently working on Dreambox math online. I am hoping that after a lunch break we will both be more calm and ready to continue.

After today I was thinking more about this idea I saw on Pinterest from Peace Creek On The Prairie, a mommy sick day binder! Basically you make up a binder of things for your kids while you can still rest, check it out! I am going to do this! (For other school ideas I love you can follow my Schoolwork & Crafts Pinterest board here.)

Besides the hiccups today, our first week of school is going great! We've already covered some History, Science, Art, Bible study, Geography, Cooking as well as Reading, Math, Handwriting and Journal time which we cover daily.

To infinity and beyond....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Twas the week before Kindergarten....

Originally I had planned the last week before Kindergarten filled with fun stuff to do. Go to the waterpark one more time, go downtown & ride the trolley, a picnic lunch at the park, all those sorts of things. Instead my daughter has been sick all week long. A friend had a Kindergarten party at her house the week previous & now the kids are all sick. It's not her fault, it's ironic being when kids go to school, they pass the germs around & get sick. So, life goes on. We are sitting at home trying to relax & anxiously awaiting the UPS man who will be delivering our Home Art Studio package along with all the art supplies!

Onward to planning a special First Day of Kindergarten, I have a few small things planned but wondered what others did to make it a special day?

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Dreaded Curriculum Question

Once I made the choice to home school, I thought that was going to be my toughest choice, just to do it or not. <All you home schooling parents can insert laughter here> Oh my goodness, was I ever wrong! After I decided to home school the next question of course is, 'what curriculum are you using'? I read up on every type of generalized curriculum from K-12, Montessori, Charlotte Mason & unschooling to name a few. As I type this my head still spins at this subject.

The last year & a half I have been working with my daughter on schooling to see if, when it came time for Kindergarten we would be able to do this. In this time I have acquired schooling workbooks from The Dollar Tree, The Mailbox, The Old Schoolhouse, Wal-Mart & misc other places. This has worked well for us. However as I was approaching 'the real deal' I knew I needed a little bit more structure, so I will share what I am planning on using, as we start next week, this may change & develop more as we go.

Originally, I had decided I was going to purchase a secular curriculum. I, of course, liked the idea that I didn't have to think about what I was going to do each day, that I would just have it available. After more thought I had to re-evaluate why I was home schooling in the first place, it was so my daughter could get a quality education & not have to stop learning because she has completed the grade's curriculum. If I was going to do it I couldn't be lazy about it just because it was more work on my part. So, what is my curriculum? It is MY CURRICULUM, it is not a purchased curriculum, it is various things I will work with so my child can keep learning. Here are a few books/programs I am using however:
  • The Core Knowledge K-8 Guide: I have to organize somehow & this book is my general guide. These standards are much higher than the Common Core Standards. They have standards for each subject (except Math) & even break it down by month to make it easier for planning. Read more about them at their website.
  • The Mailbox Day by Day Kindergarten Plans: My daughter has been loving the Themed lessons this summer so I got this book mostly so I can keep that up without having to think too heavily, including which books I will order from the library to use for that theme. For each week it has Daily plans for Morning Group Time (which is geared toward a classroom, so I will not use), Read-Alouds & Art, Literacy & Math, Journal Prompts and then it has a song of the week. There are also reproducibles included for the week. Check this book out here.
  • Daily Handwriting Practice (Traditional Manuscript): I really like this book. We have been using it for awhile now. It is not for any grade, so can really be for anyone. We will be doing daily journal work but I am still going to use this book, so she can really work on structuring her letters correctly. Check it out here.
  • Dreambox: I have just discovered this but am in love with it! Dreambox is an online website that is all math games. Your child logs in & 'plays'. We are still going to be doing traditional math worksheets & games but I like this because it is independent math time. Dreambox actually tells you, the parent, not to help your child so they can truly see where they place. The thing I love most about this is the reports you can see about your child's activity on here, it is extremely detailed, breaking down exactly what they were asked to do & how they did. They also don't just stick to your child's grade level, they use K-5 math & you can see what things they have accomplished in different grade levels. Make sure you check them out (they give you a free 2 week trial) here.
  • Weekly Reader: I loved the Weekly Reader growing up. Most of you should be pretty familiar with this already, but you can order this by grade level so your kids can get their current events in an age appropriate venue. Check them out & order it here. Note that on the ordering page it says you have to order in quantities of 10, however if you call the number and tell them you are a home schooling parent, you can order single subscriptions no problem.
  • Science Fusion: I haven't received this yet but I am anxiously awaiting this. This home school kit includes a student work text plus student and teacher access to the online eLearning curriculum for 1 year. Once we break this open I'll let you know how it goes. If you'd like to order a Home School kit head here.
  • Home Art Studio: Ok, I haven't received this yet either, but am really excited to get this. My daughter loves art, and I'm pretty sure I don't have an art bone in my body. These DVDs are art lessons, one for each week of school by a certified art teacher & mom. Check her DVDs and program here.
Along with all these I am still using worksheets from the many different workbooks I have accumulated, these are just the ones that are going in regular rotation, so to speak. So, what's your curriculum?

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Love to Learn

The last week before starting Kindergarten is here, which of course means daily, or hourly I go from feeling confident that I am ready to be a teacher to my child to "Oh no, will I have enough to do, what if I'm not teaching the right things, is she going to hate me as her teacher." I'm a bit spastic. But as I got up on this Sunday morning and my daughter comes to me begging to do school work I know this will all work out because she loves to learn. I know that I am going to make mistakes along the way, will change the way I do things with her and that will be ok, because we will then be learning together. I need to love to learn right there with her, because I am learning too, of course we are always teaching our children as parents but believe me this is on a whole new level. Onward and upward....

Sunday, August 5, 2012

It Begins....

I'm a stay at home mom.
I home school.
I'm crazy.
Well at least my daughter says so. Tonight she said, "Mama's not crazy", then immediately goes to her daddy & whispers something in his ear & they laugh. Later he tells me what she said.., "I don't really mean it, but don't tell mama." Well, I think she means it in a good way.

But I will own the crazy. Life has been crazy. Three years ago I was living in IL working full time, living in an old house. Now I am living in AR, a full time mom, living in an apartment. Things have changed. I like change, but it is still trying.

Now here I am with a 5 year old, entering Kindergarten with me as her teacher. From the time I was pregnant my husband knew he wanted our child home schooled, I said, 'yeah, but I'll have to do it.' I never thought I would actually be in the position where I wasn't working full time so didn't worry about it. Now it has come upon me. I have been doing some school work with my daughter for over a year now just to test the waters to see if we could both do this. (I do believe home schooling is only for certain parents & certain children) I actually thought okay, I've been doing this for awhile, no big deal. Okay, working on an hour of school a day compared to being responsible for an actual grade level is completely different! I decided not to just buy a curriculum. This is going to be much more work for me but I didn't want her to feel stuck after finishing Kindergarten work, I wanted her to keep right on learning. I feel at this point the actual teaching is going to be a breeze compared to all the time and effort I am doing just prepping the work so it is ready to go.

So because this is all a new experience and figure I need to share this somewhere I turn to you, oh internet. Let's start this new crazy adventure and see what fun comes out of it... Are you ready to learn?