For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Summer Planning Series - Week 9 - Steps to Planning the Year

Week 9 is here and we have Aurie Good from Our Good Life sharing  about Her Steps to Planning this year.

August is typically my least favorite month. We always go on vacation in the middle of the month, and when we return it seems that we've lost the end of summer and are trying to play catch up with September and all that comes with jumping back into routine. This year, I decided that I was going to get my planning done in May. 

Hah. May turned into June, and then July.....and you can see where this is going, right? It's August and I still didn't have anything concrete planned. Before my Type A persona kicked in and I started hyperventilating like I do every year, I took a breathe and followed these simple steps: 

1. I'm planning 4 weeks in advance. I'm not planning 6 months in advance. I always do, and when I don't meet my lofty goals I feel like a failure. Not this year! 

2. I'm setting aside dedicated planning time every Saturday afternoon. We are usually home on Saturday afternoons, so instead of panicking Sunday evening because I don't have anything prepared, I've already blocked out 20 minutes on our Google calendar for planning purposes - and I'm treating it like a doctor appointment so I don't skip it! 

3. I'm keeping it simple all the way around. I have pinterest boards filled with beautiful crafts, but I can't do them. I don't have the time or the money to go out and purchase more craft materials - especially when we have a huge stash here. We will have craft time each week (my girls will rebel if we don't!) but they will be simple and fun - and probably not pin-worthy......and I'm okay with that. 

 4. I'm going old school. We just stocked up on notebooks, pencils, crayons, and dry erase markers. I've downloaded a few lap-booking materials from CurrClick and I'm good to go. No flashy stuff for us this year - I still have a shelf filled with *must have* stuff from last year! 

5. I've decided that less is more. We are going to be hitting the basics and combining subjects when we can. We are using dry erase boards for spelling and reusing our old chalk easel for math practice. I've removed all those pretty homeschool room pictures I had pinned and am being thankful that I can homeschool my kids right where we are! 

6. I'm writing in pen. I've got field trips already planned and penned in, instead of forgetting or trying to go last minute. I've got play dates scheduled, trips to the library and LEGO club for Sophie. 

 Now everything is right in front of me, and there is NO excuse for me to miss it. {I hope!} Right now I'm actually excited for the year to begin - and I still have THREE weeks before we start! 

What planning tips would you share? 

339-001Aurie Good is a pastor's wife and a stay at home mom who home-schools on the go - since her family is always on the go. The Goods are licensed to foster medically fragile infants and children and have enjoyed loving the children who have been placed in their home. Currently they are foster parents to an adorable 1 year old boy who they are hoping to adopt. Aurie blogs at Our Good Life, where she shares their foster story (as much as she can) and strives to encourage all moms that they are not alone in this crazy insane work of motherhood. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram sharing snippets of life with little ones.


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop - Helpful resources Part 2

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
Yesterday I started listing some resources that I found to be helpful to me in my homechooling. Today I will be continuing my list .

1. CoolMath A site where your kids can lay math games

2. Worksheet Works  A great site to make any worksheets you need.

3.  Make Me Genius  Wonderful science site resource

4. Mr. Donn
Pack-full of resource site for every school subjects.

5. Books Should be Free  Audiobooks for free.

6. Brain Pop . A Membership site but well worth the cost, if you can afford it.

7. A Math Dictionary for Kids  A  resource where you can find vocabulary and chart posters

8. Extra Math  Practice for Math facts.

9. Duolingo Site for foreign language learning .

10. Ology  A science site where you can find all sort of wonderful resource to use in your science studies.

Hope you enjoy discovering this sites and are able to add them to your school line up.

Don't forget to visit the other blog participating.

Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Melanie @ finchnwren
Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Linda @ Linda's Lunacy
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Back to School Blog Hop - Helpful Resources Part 1

Back to Homeschool Blog Hop
On day two and three of the Back To School Blog Hop I would like to share with you some of my top educational sources and resources.

This is our 7th year of homeschooling and I can tell you that I have come across a lot of resources. I also gone back and forth from one resource to another as my kids grew. That said, there are some resources that remain places that I consistently use in my homeschool, and I would like to share them with you.

1. Currclick. Make sure to look for their free stuff and watch out for the sales!

2. Homeschoolshare

3. Enchanted Learning. This is a member site but you can find group buys that can allow you to get a membership for a really good price.

4. Pinterest. I search about everything in there

Follow Joelle's board Homeschool links on Pinterest.

5. My Facebook Groups. There are some really great Facebook groups out there, especially the ones for specific curriculum and the free resource ones. Again, use the search button to look for the ones that might be of help to you.

6. The Homeschool Curriculum Choice

7. You Tube. The search button is really helpful.

8. BBC school. I love this resource because they often have nice games and videos on some of the topics that we happen to be studying.

9. Book Adventure. I love using this site to gauge my boys' comprehension of some of the books they read.

10. The Library. I cannot stress how much I use my library. This is my number one  resource. It is packed with resources, and it is free. What else can I ask?

Come back tomorrow for more ressources.

 Don't forget to check others on the crew who are also blogging about Back to School this week.

Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Melanie @ finchnwren
Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Linda @ Linda's Lunacy
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School Tips - Homeschool Edition Blog Hop

It's back to school time in many places at this time of year. Summer is certainly rounding down here in Canada where we live, and many are gearing up for the start of the school year in a couple of weeks. As homeschoolers I dare think that back to school has different meaning according to who you speak to. However, I think that there are some concepts that apply across the board when it comes to homeschooling, and today I would like to look at some tips that can be helpful to us as we prepare to embark in a new year of homeschooling.

I have five tips to share with you:

1. Have a Plan. I know this is classic. That said, as classic and basic this is, it is another thing to actually have one. It takes time and thought to come up with a plan on how you are going implement all of these curriculum you purchased or all these dreams you dreamt of for your homeschooling year. Planners abound (I am a very good hoarder of online planners - even though I prefer a printed one), but it takes me a while to actually write down a definitive plan for the year. This year, because we are going back to a more year round homeschooling style, I have divided the year into 6-8 weeks semesters and have planned out our first semester. Planning year, in full or pieces by pieces, is crucial if you want your year to start on the right foot and to avoid being all over the place at the beginning of the school year and this in turn leading to your kids being unsettled. Having a general plan will help give your kids a sense of stability and security.

2. Know what you want to accomplish in the coming year. Closely connected to #1 is the idea of being quite clear about what you want to accomplish this year. Some call it having a vision. You can think of it as goals as well. For me this takes the form of general milestones and goals to reach, such as :
  • Finish our curriculum
  • Help my oldest transition into Middle Grades
  • Have my oldest do more writing
  • Include more science in our school
  • Being more intentional in teaching my kids French

3. Don't expect things to run as expected or smoothly the first day, or even the first week. Give time for the routine to set in. This is a reality check. The first day or week may go as planned or may not. Unfortunately in a lot of cases it does not and if you expect it to, you may get quite discouraged after this first day, or disillusioned after the first week. Don't. It always takes time to get something going. Perseverance is one of these top qualities needed in homeschooling. We keep at it and do not despair. If after a while things do not improve, a change might be in order, but no matter what, we keep at it. The lord is always at work and something is being done.

4. Involve the kids in the decision and planning process. I have found this always enlightening to ask my kids their sentiment about our homeschooling. I get really interesting insights about how they feel about their homeschooling. I ask them questions such as, What do you like? What don't you like? What would want me to change? What can you improve on? It helps them own the process and be better participants. For the teacher it enlightens you as to how they perceive your teaching and what you are doing.

5. Pray. I kept this for last but this is THE important  tip. Prayer is the fuel for everything we do as Christian, not so much for the blessings, as for the guidance and the help of the Holy Spirit to do what God wants us to do. Whatever we do should never be about us but what God is accomplishing through us and in us. We are but instruments in his hands and we are being molded as well in the process.  So that is why we need to pray so that our mind would be in tune with what He is intending to do. What do we pray over?
  • over our plans: that the Lord's will be done.
  • over our kids: that they come to know him and that they be diligent in the task be before them.
  • over our heart, motives and attitudes: that we fulfill our calling with joy, thanksgiving and with a heart that desires to serve Him and our family.
Hope these tips are helpful to you as you prepare or are starting this new school year.

What are your Back to School homeschooling tips?
Back to Homeschool Blog HopVisit some of the bloggers of the crew and read about what they have to say on the topic of Back To School:

Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Melanie @ finchnwren
Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Linda @ Linda's Lunacy
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road
Hillary @ Our Homeschool Studio

Friday, August 8, 2014

Road Trips Tips and Tricks

Our family loves road trips. My husband loves traveling and going out of town. He also loves long drives. As a pastor he is not able to do that as often as he would like, so we always make it a point to go at least once a year on one of those road trips. . .
Read the rest of this post over @ Life by Ashley Pichea, where I am guest posting today talking about  Road Trips Tips and Tricks

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Planning Series - Week 8 - Homeschool and Housework . . . Can I do Both?

We are at week 8 of my summer  planning series. Today we have Misty from Joy in the Journey sharing with us about how she manages Homeschooling and Housekeeping.

I will be the first one to admit that homeschooling is a full time job. With planning for school, teaching our children, and grading large piles of schoolwork homeschooling can easily take up a full workday. After the homeschool day is done, we still have our “other” job to do-being a homemaker and mom.
For many homeschool families the housework takes a back burner. At the end of the day we are exhausted, which means dishes pile up, laundry stays in baskets, and our floors may be littered with crumbs. We often ask ourselves “How can I keep up?” 
I have found three things help me the most with keeping up with homeschooling and housework. The first is a cleaning schedule I am a planner, and I have a husband who prefers a neat and tidy house. When we first began homeschooling, our home was a disaster many days. I also ran a daycare so I had normal kid messes times 6 or 7. I was quickly getting in over my head and needed to find a way out. I had read a blog post that suggested moms break down chores into smaller pieces. This was a huge help to me and made a lot of sense. Hence, my cleaning schedule was born. 
A cleaning schedule does not have to be set in stone, it can be flexible. It more or less just lets you get yourself in a routine. I know Mondays are bathroom days, and on Wednesdays, I need to mop the floor. It helps knowing that if nothing else gets done that day but what is on the cleaning schedule, it is OK! This helps me feel like I am “keeping up” with a clean house.
The next thing that has helped me with homeschooling and housework is to get the kids involved. My children learn at a young age to pick up the laundry, help with chores, and to pick up after themselves. As a busy homeschool mom, you do not need to give yourself any more work than what is necessary. I have found numerous pins like this one that give a great guideline as to what chores your child is capable of at each age. Training our children to work around the house while they are young will be beneficial to them and us as they grow up. They will learn valuable skills that will last them a lifetime as well as develop a good work ethic. We will be able to have more time to tend to younger kids who need more help doing school work, will have more time to plan, and will be able to focus on chores that the children are unable to help with.
The last thing that has helped me with homeschooling and housework is to give myself grace. This is the number one tip I have for you! Sometimes your kids will get sick, you will have to let something slide. That is ok. Remember your priority at that moment is your child. Sometimes your child will be struggling with school, this will take more time, and your housework may have to slide. This is okay, give yourself grace. Sometimes life will get in the way and we will have to let our housekeeping standards slide and that too is okay. We must remember to give ourselves grace.
Homeschooling is a full time job, and one that is rewarding in many ways. Our homes are also important, and balancing homeschooling and a clean house can be done. We just need to find a schedule that works, teach our children to help, and give ourselves grace along the way. These tips will save us time and and our sanity .

Misty Bailey is a wife to Roger and a homeschool mom to three beautiful blessings. She resides with her family in Southern Ohio. She loves helping new homeschoolers and has a free Homeschool 101 eBook for those getting started. She shares her struggles with time management, becoming unglued and finding joy in the everyday moments on her blog Joy in the Journey. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Try a New Recipe Tuesday - Blueberry Scones

Who does not like baked goods for breakfast? These are also perfect for coffee breaks and snacks. Here is a favorites of our ours, which never disappoints, and easy to do.

Blueberry Scones

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar, plus more for sprinkling tops
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into pieces (3/4 stick)
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries, picked over and rinsed  
  • 1 teaspoon lemon, zest of, grated
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream, plus more for brushing tops
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  1. Adjust rack to center of oven, and heat to 400 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, or two knives, cut in butter until the largest pieces are the size of small peas.
  3. Stir in blueberries and zest. Using a fork, whisk together cream and egg in a liquid measuring cup.
  4. Make a well in the center of dry ingredients and pour in cream mixture. Stir lightly with fork just until dough comes together.
  5. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead a few times to mix well.
  6. Pat dough into a 1 to 1 1/2 inch thick circle, and cut into triangles (about 8). You could also make them into squares if you want.
  7. Transfer to prepared greased baking sheet. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake until golden brown, 20 to 22 minutes.
  9. Transfer scones from baking sheet to wire racks to cool.
PS: The last time I made these I added some cranberries and they turned out pretty good.

Enjoy!! These are moist and tasty!


Friday, August 1, 2014

Today I am Guest Posting

Today I am being featured on Lisa's blog The Canadian Homeschooler as part of her Canadian Homeschooler Spotlight series.

Go have a look, and learn more about me, as well as read about my experience as a Canadian Homeschooler.