Thursday, March 20, 2014

So- My life got flipped upside down and then sideways…

 

The good news is though that I am back upright, on one foot, but upright nonetheless.

I was working some incredibly crazy hours, along with homeschooling.  My brother moved in with us…( BIG CHANGE).  My husband started a new job and he is gone even more… I didn’t know that was possible, but any who…..

Needless to say, I dropped a lot of balls.  I just couldn’t keep up. 

Some changes I made to get myself and my family back on track are:

  • I let go of anything and everything unnecessary.
  • I cut way back on working.  I mean like one or two days a month as opposed to the 30-40 hours a week. 
  • I quit blogging for a while.
  • I quit checking my email…. (uh, sorry!) It’s on my to do list now.
  • I stopped going out on activities with my friends as much… (you know, lunch out, play dates, craft classes and such)
  • I took our homeschool down to the basics, Reading & Math daily, Writing, History and Science 2x a week. Outside co-op classes had to be on Wed.  (our co-op has multiple classes on Mon, one on Tue and the bulk are offered on Wed.)
  • I had my husband take me out on dates when he is home… A big thing in my marriage is communication.  We text and talk on the phone often. We really do love to be with each other.  Our personalities complement each other.

Once I cut back on EVERYTHING I was then able to slowly add things back into my life.  I am still not working.  I have checked my recent emails, but not gone back very far yet. I have been back in my book club, my craft club and gone to lunch and play dates. I even hosted a ladies night out party at my house. Our homeschool is slowly coming back to the old schedule of more work.  However, I do think we just might keep this year fairly easy the rest of the way… I still make my husband take me out.  We still text and talk often.  He even makes sure to take days off just for our family time.  That is REALLY NICE!  We are getting used to my brother living here, which was our biggest challenge.  It’s like having another kid, but I don’t have the control or authority over him like I do my kids.  So that has been a personal struggle for me. 

I had given up most hope of my life every going back to what I would call normal. I was definitely in a depression. Then when I was at the park with my friend and she recommended a book to me, Remembering Wholeness by Carol Tuttle.  I did this book on audio book every chance I could get.  I am a big fan.  She talks a lot about personal change and spirituality.  I’ve never been into the you can create your own future thing.  I mean I know you have some say, but she taught me how to change things now, today! Her book and the things I have learned from it, the future I have been creating from it have been simply amazing.  I have the faith in myself that I can do great things in my life now.  I have so much more confidence then I had.

My plan is to begin her next book The Child Whisperer.

I am back on track and I am feeling gggreat!!

So know that when your life is falling apart right before your eyes, take time to stop it and change it.  YOU HAVE THE POWER!


 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Talking Shapes- A Preschool Reading App

 

Talking Fingers is a company that was established in 1994 by the same team of researchers that were a part of California Neuropsychology Services (CNS), a non-profit organization for research and education which was established in 1982.  They have since created many research-proven products.

Their most recent creation is Talking Shapes.

Talking Shapes is a new iPad app teaching children that letters are just talking shapes that stand for each speech sound.  This app is aimed at the preschool and kindergarten age but

I have been loosely researching Dyslexia. In my research of that I have found that it is best for children to use as many of their senses as they can to learn a letter.  This app uses 3 of our 5 senses to teach phonemic awareness.

Sight- you see the sounds/letters

Hearing- you hear the sounds

Touch- you trace the letters

and you also

Say- the sounds (out loud into the microphone which uses voice recognition)

So by using all these you truly get interactive learning. 

When you first start the app you get 3 choices.

  • Read To Me
  • Draw Letters
  • Play Game

In Read To Me you choose from 3 stories, each story uses all the interactive ways I told you about above. 

 

Throughout the story the reader uses positive reinforcement to let the kids know they are doing a good job.  My son’s face lights up when she would say Good Job!

In Draw Letters you choose one of the three books to draw letters out of.  It has you say sounds, then trace the sounds all while interacting with you. It doesn’t let you turn the page until you interact with it, well it does after two chances which worked well for us since our iPad has a case over the microphone it didn’t pick up our voices very well.

In the Game You choose one of the three books again to start with. You then choose to Find the Shapes, Find the Letters, or Draw the Letters.  At the end you find a picture and then match the words to sentences as it reads you a short funny story. 

 

A day/week in our life:

I chose to review this with my 4 year old in mind.  He does use it quite often and it has helped him immensely in his letter and sound recognition. It has even helped him to spell simple 3 letter CVC words like Hat, Cat, Fat, Sat, and many more. I appreciate that since it shows that letters make sounds at more than just the beginning of the words.


Our thoughts and feelings:

Apps and electronic learning are really all the rage today.  While I have wavered back and forth about the use of them.  Sometimes I am all gung ho and other times I am like we are having an electronic free day, or week…

It seems to me that apps are either fun or educational, they are very rarely both.  I can generally get my kids to use an educational app for a certain length of time but they always go back to the fun less educational apps. 

Talking Shapes is different.  It is both fun and educational.  This app can hold my preschoolers attention and he loves the interactive learning.

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 
 


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Motivated Moms

About The Company:

Motivated Moms is a company started by two moms who created a system designed to help you complete chores and tasks throughout the year so that you don’t spend your entire day doing housework.

They have an app for the IOS system and one for the Google system. (Some reviewers reviewed the app, be sure and click on the link at the bottom of the post to see more reviews.)

The Motivated Moms Planner is a simple well thought out planner that makes keeping house easy.  Literally!

The planner is not meant to cause stress it is meant to make your life so much simpler. 

How does it do that you ask?

By simply taking all the thinking out of it. Tasks are planned out for you each day.  Don’t go thinking this means you are not in control, you still are.  There are ways to personalize it and delegate tasks by using a highlighter.  There are also extra lines to be able to add tasks.  For example personalize it to your garbage day by quickly writing in garbage day on each day it is your garbage day.

The choices in a e-book planner are tremendous.  I chose the half size chore planner.  $8. 

 

 

About The Product:

The half size chore planner printed two weeks per page.  I tried to save paper and printed mine double sided.  That did not work out to have the pages in order.  I was kind of frustrated about that whole ordeal.  But afterword, I figured what does it matter. It’s not like they have to be in order. I only have to find the page once a week and they are generally close in the vicinity of the previous weeks page.  After using the planner, it really wasn’t an issue.

 

Ok- Each page or week on the planner has a list of things to be done daily. Things like:

  • Make Bed
  • Feed Pets
  • Sweep floor
  • Empty Garbage
  • Dishes
  • Vitamins
  • Laundry
  • and more

Each Item has a checkbox for each day of the week. You just check off when you do the item. There are blank lines too, so you can add to your daily list if you need to.

Easy!

Each Page has a list of the days.  Under each day there is a list of chores for that day.  Along with checkmarks and blank lines to add your own chores.

Some examples of these chores are:

  • Change sheets
  • Water plants
  • Sweep porch
  • Clean bathroom counters
  • Straighten Closet
  • and more

These chores are what I considered the extras.  My main priority was to get all the daily ones done by either doing them myself or delegating out the task to another family member.  I also worked the second list of chores the same as far as delegating them out. 

Our thoughts and feelings:

This chore list works well for me.  My kids know where I look to assign chores and this way the house can run fairly smoothly if I am not around to assign chores or haven’t done it yet. 

I do like that it is the smaller half page papers and takes up less space on my shelf.  I even got a small half page size binder for the pages to go in.  I appreciate the simple black and white basic look as far as printer ink goes.  I wish I had chosen the color option as it is something I get to look at all year round.   That was my choice. 

To see what others think of this check out this post. To see a wide variety of reviews check out our crew blog.

 
 


Saturday, February 8, 2014

Our Homeschool Method is, well……..


BacktoHomeschool
Eclectic. 

Aren’t we all a little bit.


We our going to be beginning our 4th year.  WOW!  So we have just been finding our way.  
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Katey doing a math lesson.

Our first year began with about 6 months or so of de-schooling.  Lots of reading and math games.  Spending time as a family and doing a few unit studies together.  After that we settled in and purchased Math-U-See and added that in.  That year we just slowly added stuff in and took some away.

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At the Children Learning Center in Yellowstone
Our next year we joined the Schoolhouse Review Crew and got a real feel for what eclectic feels like.  LOL.   We did not stick it out with Math-U-See.  We moved on to Life of Fred and trying out anything and everything we received from the crew.
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A picnic after visiting the fish hatchery

This past year we tried virtual schooling while remaining on the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  That was crazy.  We went with K12 and they really keep your days so full.  The kids also began some co-op classes.  Talk about over doing it that year. 
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The Dinosaur Museum.

This year we are going back to doing it on our own with very literature rich curriculum base.  K12 left hardly any time for reading for fun and we would like to get back into that.  We are also sticking with some of our co-op classes. 
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Using the Discovery Scope at the beach.

Like I said, we are still finding our way and even if something works great at one time, it may not fit our needs in the future.  We remain flexible and open minded. 
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Creating a home, complete with a swimming pool, for the bugs.


We do always try to fit learning and exploring in at every opportunity. 

Read what other methods the crew is using.




Thursday, January 16, 2014

Simple tricks to get little ones to help you with laundry.



Laundry is not my favorite activity. 
I just had to find a way to pawn it off on my kids. 
No, I am only joking. (sort of)

Here is how I taught my 8 year old to do laundry.  Really, if I would have thought of this sooner I could have taught her sooner.  Stay tuned below to see some laundry tips from me.

I used a Sharpie marker to show the line where she should fill the laundry soap up to.
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I used the same Sharpie to mark a star on the washer where she would put it for regular loads.

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She is able to turn the water on this way.  She is not aloud to wash from the Whites/Specials bin or from Daddy’s Work Clothes bin.  I can’t tell you how much having her simply switch the laundry helps me out each day.

I have came up with a few tips that will get your little ones helping with the laundry. 

Let’s start with the wearing of the clothes.
  • I make them wear their pajamas two nights in a row. (unless of course some catastrophic event causes otherwise)
  • I do not over buy clothes.  My children have about 7 everyday outfits each.  The more clothes your family has the more the laundry can pile up.
  • I do not let them change clothes unless required – like to dirty to go somewhere or to clean to do something.
  • We have dirty clothes hampers throughout the house.  One in each bathroom (except the guest) and one in each of the kids rooms. 

Okay how I wash the clothes.
  • I do a batch or two a day.  I do not have my older kids wash just their own clothes.  They are all required to help switch the laundry when it needs it. 
  • I set a morning alarm to start the laundry. I set an alarm in the afternoon to switch it over.  I set a final alarm in the early evening to do the final switch to the dryer.  If the alarm goes off and I am not home, I text someone who is to switch it. 
  • I taught even my 8 year old how to do the laundry. (My older kids too!)
  • We have simple laundry sorters.  Darks, Lights, Towels and Sheets, Daddy’s Work Clothes, and Whites/ Special
  • If something needs special washing you are required to put it in the Whites/Special bin yourself. 
  • Every day I assign someone to be in charge of laundry. They have to collect the dirty clothes, sort them and start the first batch. As well as switching out subsequent batches. I am the only one who can do the whites/specials. We do a rotation for laundry and dishes jobs.
The hardest part.  How we take care of laundry.
  • I have a “clean clothes area” in my bedroom.  That is where the designated laundry person must take the clothes to after they are dry.
  • Every 2 or sometimes 3 days we all get together in my room and someone sorts the clothes into piles of who’s they are. Someone folds towels. Someone helps Tyler (3 years old) with his clothes. Everyone is responsible for taking care of their own clothes.
  • Doing it this way only takes about 10 minutes every night and we all just work quickly and usually listen to some music while working.

Do you have any more laundry tips?


Friday, January 10, 2014

This week in the life and times of Family Style School

 

Whew,  I finally feel like we might actually get back into things.  

The week before this I spent some seriously needed time individually with each child. 

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My 4 year old and I made a huge batch of chocolate chip cookies!  Man, they were YUMM!!  IMG_3109IMG_3110

He turned the mixer on too high of a speed after adding the flour and well, you see. 

We also incorporated “Project Friday” into our schedule.  I helped my 8 year old make rice bags with her new sewing machine that she got for Christmas.

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My 7th grader chose music as her project and she has been practicing piano and teaching herself to play the guitar.

My 9th grader chose to work ahead on his personal finance course (which is online)  He likes the course, so that is what he chose to work on.


During our first week back to school I also incorporated a new way of planning.  I gave my 9th grader, my 7th grader and my 3rd grader free reign in their planning.  I had them each give me the list of things they were going to do each day.  Each morning I would have them give me their plan and approve it or suggest a few changes.  I honestly tried to leave it as they had it, but when something like daily reading was missing, I would suggest they add it.  By doing this they actually got their whole lists done each day.  It was amazing. There was no nagging on my part and it was lovely.  I did it again this week as well.  I will most likely do it again next week too, but I will add back in my “Family School” time.  That I plan and they will also have some type of guideline to follow.  I am still working all that out. 

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I also spent some time reorganizing myself.  I made new Mom’s Main Planner, with my blog planer, my daily planner, and some homeschooling stuff in there. IMG_3195

I made a budget and bills binder too.  I have always had my bills in a file, but I wanted a better way to keep them and I am watching my budget closer so I am giving the binder a try! I also am figuring out how to have my kids earn electronic time.  I am looking into some ideas now and how they will work within our family. IMG_3194

One day Katey wrote a thank you letter for a Christmas gift.  It is my hope that this weekend she will get the rest of them written.  I really need to get her writing more. IMG_3112

I got crazy and joined a 1000 mile challenge at work.  I could totally do it, except for one little rule.  You CAN’T use every day walking.  The 1000 miles has to be above and beyond that.  YIKES!  I am at about 3 miles. I better get on that. IMG_3098

Our newest addition to our family has actually been quite enjoyable.  I think her name should be Angela the Tarantula, but Katey insists her name is Hook Fang. 

 

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This week our co-op started back up and I now teach two classes at it.

I teach science using  Considering God’s Creation by Eagles Wings.  We began our weather unit and I can’t wait for us to make our very own weather stations over the next few weeks. 

I also teach a teen cooking club.  We had our very first meeting this week.  It went very well.  I had them make sausage calzones, no bake cookies and we made smoothies with spinach in them. 

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I am actually feeling an rush of excitement for the final half of this school year.  I have to imagine we will be getting so much done.  I sure hope I am right. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Ringing in the New Year with a Healthy YOU!

Let’s face it, it’s pretty cliché to have the New Year’s resolution of a healthy lifestyle. 

You know why that is the one main thing so many people want to change?  Because it’s your health, your mind, your body. 

Who doesn’t want to feel better and enjoy life more? 

Of course, we all do.

Weeding Out Wheat is a book that will make you think twice about how you go about getting a healthy - feel good lifestyle.

Buy the Book

 

I recently reviewed this book called Weeding Out Wheat written by husband and wife team, Luke and Trisha Gilkerson.

Together these two have read numerous medical journals and studied what the bible says about wheat.  They have also studied wheat and the changes that have happened to it and other foods throughout history.

With all their research they saw how complex all this is.  It can make your head spin.  So they decided to write a book sharing much of their knowledge that would be understood by the everyday person. 

This book is just over 100 pages and really does make for an easy read.  It did make me think about what I put into my mouth and how I feel afterwards.                                                                                                                                                                                                   

I appreciate that this book was not written to be above my head and was not dumbed down so much that I felt like a child.  It gave me enough information that I feel I can make an educated decision about my health.  They sight all there sources are are honest if something is speculation or scientifically proven.  The changes that have happened to wheat are substantial. 

I suggest reading this book and making your own decision about your health. 

We decided to majorly cut back on wheat. We may even end up cutting it out completely. 

Research shows all the problems wheat causes even if you don’t have full blown Celiac Disease. 

This review is part of the Bow Of Bronze Launch Team Review.  Check out more here!

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. There are also freebies. There are also just links to products without affiliate links. I'm trying to show what we did and where you can find it, not to sell you a product...although if you decide to buy one of them, please feel free to use the links and support a fellow homeschooler. I was given a free copy of the book in order to write this honest review. 

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