The Easiest Way To Date Your Husband When Life Happens

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It's important to date your husband.

Most people know that, right? You probably even rolled your eyes at me.

And yet... it's just so dang easy for it to slip away in priorities. You're running around, you're exhausted, you're burnt out, you just need a nap (a 5 hour nap), you're busy, you're in the middle of something... you name it, it's a valid excuse.

I have found a solution to this very dilemma that plagued me at every attempt I made.

Hands down, this is the best and easiest idea ever.

 

The Easiest Way To Date Your Husband When Life Happens. You know you should date your husband, but gosh, life gets in the way so easily. I've found the easiest solution that will work with you and not against Click through... to find the best idea and get your FREE workbook!

Oh, this would be great to pin!

 

This year we were on a tight budget for Christmas. Mr Barlow and I decided we'd only spend $30 on each other, including the stocking. I asked for art supplies, Mr Barlow asked for dates and a coupon book.

Well... I've made some of those before for Christmas and my over-acheiving self made lots of plans, wrote the dates out and then when date night came up I was overwhelmed, un-prepared, and... use one of the above excuses.

Since this was his ONLY Christmas present this was getting bumped up to I-can't-let-his-Christmas-be-ultra-lame effort.

I also know myself.

The Easiest Way To Date Your Husband When Life Happens. You know you should date your husband, but gosh, life gets in the way so easily. I've found the easiest solution that will work with you and not against Click through... to find the best idea and get your FREE workbook!

I made it easy on myself and did all (90%) of the prep work ahead of time.

I scoured my favorite dating site (Dating Divas) and used my $30 to print off a bunch of date prep and gather supplies.

Here's a breakdown of what I did:

Date Night in a Box.

Genius genius genius.

I made four boxes.

  1. A Romantic Date Night in a Box
  2. A Fun Date Night in a Box
  3. 12 Months of Dates Box
  4. Games and Misc. Dates Box

What's in the (first) Romantic Date Night in a Box?

  • Champagne flutes (Dollar Store, baby!)
  • Sparkling cider
  • Fabric rose petals
  • Massage oil
  • Tea lights
  • Sexy dice (sorry Mama, close your eyes)
  • Chocoaltes

What's in the (first) Fun Date Night in a Box?

  • Box of popcorn
  • Boxed candy, you know, the fun kind perfect for movies
  • Space Jam movie (he's been wanting this movie for forever)
  • Deck of cards (fun games and can be used for romantic games)
  • Pack of dice
  • Soda for each of us

What's in the Extras and Misc. Dates Box?

  • Several other Date Night in a Box ideas under each category (fun and romantic)
  • One coupon book (the other went in his stocking) [links to both]
  • Fun games... of the bedroom variety. (Dating Divas has some fun, tasteful games that you can tailor to  match your comfort level, varying from "Mellow Mandy" to "Spicy Sandy" -- I totally made those names up). They're all cut out and ready to go.
  • Spoil Your Spouse date idea
  • Group date idea and printables
  • Chocolate body paint (ingredients in a jar ready to go)

In his box he was presented with a list of the titles of these Date Nights. I have my own separate page that lists the date ideas and all the supplies I need for those dates.

I made sure to make notes indicating whether I had them, where they were, and what I needed to borrow or buy. This helps me fill the box back up right away and never be caught without a date ready.

What's in the 12 Months of Dates Box?

  • 12 envelopes with the month written on the outside and a card on the inside with two planned dates

Each month there is a Date In and a Date Out.

We have 5 (going on 6) kiddos and babysitters aren't cheap, nor are they easy to find once they find out how many you have. :/ For the sake of our budgeting goals we've got one date out of the house a month.

Dates In are for when the kids are in bed. These don't all include bedroom type things.

We don't want date night to be alllll about marital relations do we? If that happens at the end, then yay for us. If it doesn't happen at the end, then how nice to not have that pressure at the beginning of the night and now no guilt is attached.

 

The Easiest Way To Date Your Husband When Life Happens. You know you should date your husband, but gosh, life gets in the way so easily. I've found the easiest solution that will work with you and not against Click through... to find the best idea and get your FREE workbook!

 

I'm due to deliver early April so I knew any dates would be low key with minimal planning.

I know the months where our budget is tighter than usual and made sure our dates were cheap or free.

 

How he uses his dating goodies

  • For the 12 months of dates: we sit down and quickly pick the dates for our dates. (takes 2 minutes) That way I can do any prep necessary ahead of time. Or at least prepare myself mentally. I don't do spontaneous. It stresses me out.
  • He can cash in his coupons at ANY time.... except if I'm sleeping, in the hospital, sick, etc. Mr. Barlow is not unreasonable, but I just want to clarify for others to be realistic.
  • The Date Nights in a Box we can pick any other day to use. Once that idea has been used, we fill the box up with the next idea and it's all ready for the next time we use it.
  • The Extras & Misc Box we can add items to any other date we have planned, use it spontaneously for a date night, or just a night of intimacy. *immature wink wink*

 

It sounds confusing, but it's not. Honest.

 

How to date your husband even when life happens.

Here's my report so far:

He's cashed in a few coupons and I gave myself a pep talk when I was putting this together that even if I was busy, tired, or "not in the mood" that I'd go for it. So far, so good! We've had fun and have definitely felt closer emotionally with just this one gift.

 

We've used a Date Night in a Box -- fun night -- and it was a simple, fun evening together.

Hubs and I are very independent and have our own things that we love to do and it's so easy for us to get wrapped up in our own things that we don't have time to just be together. This was a fun way to make that happen.

 

We've had our first Date In and it was a blast! It was a simple date to get us started off with. We had a movie and fondue. Now, you may think, wow, yawn, but it was great!

We've never had fondue and Mr Barlow was thinking it was going to be gross. He's not a sweets guy and apparently doesn't really like cheese that much. Weirdo.

Instead of watching a movie we finished a show we both like -- Battle Creek. I'm still ticked that it was cancelled. Ugh. Jerks, all of 'em. 

We prepped all the fondue dippers and I made the chocolate sauce and the cheese sauce. We decided to go for both in half batches to see which we liked the best.

We set up the coffee table with our goodies, turned the lights off, put on the show and dug in. It was so yummy. So so yummy. I want more cheese sauce. NOW!

He loved it, which made me all the more happy! I was so worried that our first date would be a total bust.

It was such a good, fun night working together, eating together, talking about the show and our favorite scenes, characters, and episodes. Success!

Was it worth the few days of prep work?

In this seemingly unexciting gift has been a fantastic chance for us to make dating one another not only a priority, but easy enough for us to do when life gets in the way, exhaustion sets in, and we're so busy doing everything that we do.

That easy excuse of not knowing what to do, not having the funds to do things, and not having everything ready to go is now gone. We just grab a box and go for it!

I feel closer to Mr. Barlow and am more aware of our relationship, our time together, and my desire to treat him like the king he is, has grown.

Our whole family is happier, our evenings together, even when we're not on a date, are happier and more open and relaxed. We can easily share the stresses of life because we feel that we're a true team.

 

Grab a free workbook to make dating your husband easier!

Your challenge!

Pick a box idea and get going! A little bit of work on the front-end will save you tons in the end. Pretty promise.

I've made a few worksheets for you to help you get on your way as painlessly as possible!

The Easiest Way To Date Your Husband When Life Happens. You know you should date your husband, but gosh, life gets in the way so easily. I've found the easiest solution that will work with you and not against Click through... to find the best idea and get your FREE workbook!

 

Marriage

Click the picture to find some other fantastic ideas and tips from some wonderful women!

 

Exhausted from homeschooling? Here's how to date your hubby without the work.

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

How to Teach Your Child Reverence - The Best Method

Sometimes you wonder why you even bother going to church...all you're doing is wrestling your child trying to get them to shush for 1 minute bursts. You can teach your child to be reverent without bribes, rewards, or death threats! CLICK to read more on the best method (and the easiest) to teach your child reverence. Reverence... doesn't have to be hard to teach.

You ask yourself, "why am I even bothering to go to church?"

What's the point when you miss most everything and you're wrestling a stinker child the entire time? Let me be the first to remind you that despite your struggles it really is worth it. That's all well and good, but we don't want to have church time equate a battle of the wills.

I have many people that ask me how I get my kids to be so reverent in church.

 

Please don't misunderstand, I'm not bragging. Nor am I saying my kids are heavenly angels 100% or even 90% of the time. They're regular children, just like everyone else's. Meaning, they get into trouble every day.

I am also not saying I am the master of parenting. Ha!

I AM saying it's possible to teach your children reverence (or quiet, to start with) without bribing, rewards, or death threats.

 

Here are the reverence rules:

Sometimes you wonder why you even bother going to church...all you're doing is wrestling your child trying to get them to shush for 1 minute bursts. You can teach your child to be reverent without bribes, rewards, or death threats! CLICK to read more on the best method (and the easiest) to teach your child reverence.

  1. No toys
  2. No paper and coloring things*
  3. No food*
  4. No more than one warning
  5. Don't reward bad choices

Okay, here's how it goes down.

Don't bring toys to church. NONE.

That is all. Do not bring toys. They do not need them. Honest.

How will they learn to listen to the service (or their teachers) if they are always playing with toys? I do NOT want to get into a debate about ADD/ADHD and all that goodness. Both my brothers and myself have these and trust me when I say, we went without toys and we were still happy and able to listen.

Same for coloring supplies

Ditch the coloring goodies. Leave them at home.

*There is a point you can re-introduce these. We'll talk about those in a minute.

Food is unnecessary!

Don't have your bag filled with fruit snacks, crackers, cheese, bananas, etc, etc.

If your child is over the age of 3 they don't need snacks at church. So don't bring any. The only exception to this is if your child has a real medical reason to have food accessible. A real one.

*If they're under the age of 3, bring only the minimal amount and not a bajillion choices. One or two things max, and a drink.

For instance, Teddy Bear is 19 months old now. We bring a sippy cup and a small snack bag of cereal or goldfish. ONE snack bag. It's not even all the way full. I only bring it out when it's necessary.

Seating Arrangements

They can sit in your lap or sit next to you. Those are the ONLY two options!

If they've over a certain age/size, then sitting in your lap would not be a good idea. My 6, 8, or 9 year old in my lap? I don't think so.

  • You don't let them get down to walk around by your feet.
  • You don't let them sit down on the floor.
  • You don't let them walk around the aisles or crawl around the aisles.

I do allow my children to stand on the benches until they reach an age/height that makes that inappropriate. Usually around 2.

One warning ONLY!

This shouldn't be a wrestling match. If they are misbehaving in ANY way (crying, whining, talking loudly, wrestling trying to get down, etc) you give them stern, but quiet direction. No threats, no warnings, no counting, no chances.

Here are some examples of things to say/do:

  • Tap them on the shoulder.
  • Tap them on the shoulder + "the look"
  • Tap them on the shoulder + a silent Shhhhh
  • "No more crying."
  • "Stop whining"
  • "You can sit next to me or sit in my lap. Those are your choices. You have 10 seconds to pick or I'll pick for you."  **Count the 10 seconds in your head only.** 
  • "It's time to be quiet"
  • "Stop. Now."

Etc.

You only say it once!!

One time. Uno. Not two, not three, not one and a half. ONE. TIME.

Well, what happens when they do it again?

Pick them up as gently as the situation allows, and without fuss you remove them from the chapel. If they are too big to be carried, you hold their hand and lead them out. If they're too old for that, walk them out in any way you see appropriate but the least disruptive to those around you.

Even if you warned them 5 minutes ago, you remove them now. If it was significantly longer than 5 minutes, I'll leave it up to your discretion, just keep an eye on it. Don't let it become a pattern or habit. If it happens at regular intervals, drop the hammer after the first reminder no matter the time between the first offense and the second.

My recommendation: until their good behavior has been consistent I would remove them even if they didn't misbehave for 30 minutes. Then, when they have been consistent, I'd become more relaxed.

NOW... this is the important bit.

You've just removed your child from the chapel because of poor choices.

Do NOT set them down to walk/crawl around!

Do NOT talk with others in the hallway!

 

  1. Find a quiet corner or empty classroom. Preferably with a chair or table. Don't leave the church. Stay inside.
  2. Set them down on the chair (a table will do in a pinch).
  3. Say, "we will go back in when you are ready to stop ____."
  4. Do not say more.

Do not make eye contact. Do not engage with them at all. At all. If they get down, pick them up and set them back down. Do not say a word no matter how many times they get off the chair or how upsetting it can be.

Do not show them any type of emotion in your face, eyes, body, or voice. Just be calm and neutral. Take deep breaths and maybe find your own nearby spot to be quiet in.

Why are we doing this?

The reward for their good behavior is to go back into the chapel and sit down with their family.

If you let them run around or are talking to other people the reward for their behavior is to get out of the chapel and have fun. Not the message you want to send.

When they've stopped crying or whining for a sufficient amount of time then come back in. Look happy and calm. Sit back down and enjoy your church service.

My general rule of thumb: 1 minute per year they are old -- I'll do longer if I feel they're not quite done. It does need to be that whole amount of time.

For instance, Sweet Cheeks is 4. If she were to be set on the chair, I'd have her be quiet for at least 4 minutes. If she gets down at 3.5 minutes, or starts crying again at 3.5 minutes (or any other time), her time starts over when she stops crying or sits back down. No exceptions. It must be 4 minutes straight.

Repeat as many times as is necessary.

Here are some more things you may find helpful.

  • Sit up towards the front.
  • Don't sit next to their friends.
  • Don't sit next or near (in front of or behind) families with children that are rowdy and disruptive.

When my eldest was 4 we once made the mistake of sitting near a family with a boy his age. His parents literally had a backpack FULL of toys and a backpack FULL of food. No joke. TWO BACKPACKS full of stuff for their one child. My son saw that and went berserk. Of course he wanted those toys and food! I did too, and I'm an adult!

You can sit near other rowdy kids or friends when your kids have been able to sit through the whole service for a few months without having to be removed.

Now, this isn't because we're better than those children or parents. We're not. This is for your children to be able to develop their own discipline without having to work even harder than usual for it. Sitting still and quiet can be a real challenge for some. Let's make it as easy as possible on them.

  • When your kids are older and have been reverent for some time (more than a few months), then you may bring a FEW sheets of paper and a small set of writing utensils. One pencil, one pen, or a FEW crayons/colored pencils (not the whole box).

My children receive these items after the sacrament portion of the service is over. This could be your communion, or other really important part of the service. Or about 1/3 through.

I don't even allow these items to be used every Sunday.

If they slip into bad habits they are removed.

  • When the older children need a drink of water or to go to the bathroom they are to leave quietly go about their business and return promptly. If it's been some time I either send an older child, or my husband or I go to check on them. If they're caught playing, talking, or dawdling, they will now have to be taken to the bathroom/water fountain for the next month.

[Tweet "Teaching children to be reverent is easier than I thought!"]

That's it!!

I realize that some of you may find this approach strict and even mean. You're allowed to believe what you believe. I, however, disagree with your disagreement. ;)

I have used this approach with each of my children with great success and without a ton of work. My rowdiest child was calm after two Sundays of "work."  I haven't had to take him out ever again.

I also see the fruits of my labor in other areas. When we go to a doctor or dentist appointment, if we have any meeting where they are required to sit still and be quiet, they can do it and it's not a power struggle. When they're at their sports practice, dance class, they are usually the only kid paying attention to their coach or teacher. They pay attention in their homeschool co-op and aren't chattering away with their friends when they should be working or listening.

Most important to me, my children listen to the church service, they listen in their Sunday School classes and actively participate. That is how children go from learning to sit still and be quiet, to learning to show true reverence.

This is how they are given the opportunity to learn the gospel, grow closer to their Father in Heaven and the Savior. To learn truths that will bless their lives forever. That is the biggest win of all.

This is perfect for pinning!!

Sometimes you wonder why you even bother going to church...all you're doing is wrestling your child trying to get them to shush for 1 minute bursts. You can teach your child to be reverent without bribes, rewards, or death threats! CLICK to read more on the best method (and the easiest) to teach your child reverence.

Let me know how it goes!

Have any questions? Success stories? Please share them below!

Mwah

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

I received these books for free and compensated only for my time. These are my real opinions, no fluff or fake sunshine here.   

I don't know about your home, but my kids are strange reading beasts.

I love to read and have loved to read since I can remember. When I say love, I mean looooove, as in I'm a middle schooler crushing on my latest Teen Bop Magazine, writing my married name and my crush's initials all over my paper, love.

Ya feel me?

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Then there's my children. They aren't obsessed. Not even mildly. I have to enforce reading time. Where I got in trouble for reading too much, they don't read enough and it hurts my heart.

Well, no more! I am officially on the hunt for books that speak to my children, so they too can get in trouble for reading too much! ;)

Enter Candlewick Press.

 

My kids love history, especially ancient history. With that in mind, I knew these 9 books were the way to go. I was right!

The kids' top 3 favorite books

https://youtu.be/y4_EXD2Momk

https://youtu.be/MA4bfxdkgRU

 

How we are using our new history books

Ancient Greece

The Odyssey -- by Gillian Cross and Neil Packer

Mom's Review:

This was the biggest success to me. I could not stand The Odyssey. I knew it was a fantastic story and was something that could not be missed in my children's education. I just didn't like it. At all.

I am so glad I got it. It is amazing. The book is written for 12 years old and up, but my children have had no trouble at all with it. In fact, they love it. It's full of adventure, wars, scary, creepy things. My kids love that kind of stuff. No wilting flowers in this house!

The writing is superb and the pictures are gorgeous! My son even loves the pictures.

We are reading this together as a family and my kids are engrossed. These are the kids who make faces during family read aloud time and barely pay attention to the story. They are riveted to this book. They didn't want me to stop reading!

Win!!!

Application Activity

When we're finished with The Odyssey, we're going to create a board game!

We started to sketch it out as we read the book so we don't miss or forget anything important, or any fun details that can really make the game fun.

After we have designed it, we'll create it, and then make a video playing it. As we get more into the game making phase I'll do a special post (or series of posts). I know it's going to be amazing! My family is a board game family.

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Greek Myths for Young Children -- by Marcia Williams

Mom's Review

I love how much my eldest son loves this book. He was giggling, laughing, and wanted to point out every little thing he read. He sat down for an hour straight after I handed him the book and didn't want to stop when it was lunch time.

Is that my son? Yes, yes it is. Sweet victory.

He's reading and he's learning.

What I love about the book is that the myths are accurate and yet they are not so graphic and horrible as I remember them being when I was younger.

You aren't going to have pretty pictures, there is a picture of Prometheus having a bird eat parts of his insides (yuck), but it's the cleanest safest way you could draw it while staying true to the story. My kids aren't squeamish so I wasn't worried about this part.

Application Activity

My kids each will select their favorite story and then we are going to act it out freeze-frame style. What does that mean?

Since the book is a comic book, the kids will be one picture at a time as they act it out. They just hold their position, looking as much like the picture as they can. I'll take a picture of it. Then we'll compile each picture into a homemade book and they can decorate the book and add little speech bubbles and narration (in their own words) of the story.

This is going to be a blast! I have a post already in the works for this.

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

Medieval Ages

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! -- by Laura Amy Schiltz

Mom's Review

I have mixed feelings about this book. I was thinking it was going to be more of a breakdown of what life was like in the castle in the medieval ages. It is, but it's not at the same time. The book is full of monologues and dialogues for children to perform instead.

The monologues and dialogues are absolutely brilliant. It may not be what I expected to read, but it was a great pick.

Application Activity

My kids may struggle to memorize such long passages to perform, but I think it will be something worthy of attempting as we get nearer to the end.

As we study castles and the medieval ages this winter the monologues will all be read and discussed. I know they will love that each monologue is a child telling their story.

 

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight -- by Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman

Mom's Review

My sons are over the top thrilled to be reading a book about a green knight and dragons, and fighting, and swords. My 3 year-old daughter is pretty into it as well. She's off sword fighting while we're reading.

Application Activity

This is one we're reading together as a family. We are incorporating our art into a final project for this book and painting our favorite scene on a canvas to hang in our school room.

 

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Castle Diary -- by Richard Platt and Chris Riddell

Mom's Review

I had to have this book. It's a journal of a young boy becoming a page to his uncle. It is so awesome. Each day there is an entry with him telling what he is doing and how he feels. There are fantastic pencil drawings that give great enhancement to the story.

My eldest really enjoyed a drawing about the different types of horses they used for various tasks. He then went through the book and found all the different horses shown and compared them to the first drawing.

I love that the picture doesn't take away from the text, but adds another layer to it.

He really enjoyed this book and devoured it. He was a bit broken hearted when I told him that Tobias wasn't a real kid.

Application Activity

My son is picking a new skill he is learning this year and is going to document it each day on what he does and what he thinks about it. He will draw simple pictures as he feels inspired. The hardest part for him is picking which skill he's going to document.

 

The Romans

 

The Romans: Gods, Emperors, and Dormice by Marcia Williams

Mom's Review

This one is similar to Greek Myths, but with just a bit different format. It is another winner. My kids are totally in love with this style of reading and I'm a pretty big fan as well. I love a little switch up with our reading. So many of the books we read every day are living and whole books. Which are fantastic and lovely.

I love to infuse in some fun to our homeschool because we are a family that laughs and does goofy stuff.

My eldest daughter was a bit reluctant at first to read it since she said there was naked people in it and it was gross.

There aren't naked people in it. The man was just shirtless. When she read it with her brother after he was determined to show her otherwise, she laughed and enjoyed it. I think she was just trying to be dramatic. Oi.

Application Activity

For this book we will draw our own comic strip to show what our life is like during a typical week. We are using a big sized drawing pad that I got at Target. They are using their rulers to draw their own boxes and then coloring the pictures with whatever medium they wish.

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Roman Diary -- Richard Platt and David Parkins

Mom's Review

I knew my daughter would love this book. She loves to read stories about girls and their lives. This was the first book she dove for. She read quite a bit through it. She loves that there's a glossary and index at the end of the book that helps her learn the tricky words.

She was a bit perplexed about why this girl was a slave. She hopes that at the end of the book she won't be a slave anymore.

Application Activity

My daughter will also have a project similar to my son's. She is starting her own diary (with  her lock on it) and is writing about her adventures and daily life. She is going to focus on something that is challenging for her and the stories of her days.

She already has filled a back log of her life and doesn't need any prodding from me to write in her diary. In fact, I have to tell her to put it down so she can get other things done. Mean mom, I know.

General History

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

Mesmerized -- by Mara Rockliff and Iacopo Bruno

Mom's Review

I love American history, so this book was a must!

The illustrations and typography are gorgeous! They make this book lovely. I love the natural working in of the Scientific Method. It is a fun story that had my children giggling.

Application Activity

Design our own experiment and use the steps similar to Benjamin Franklin. Use our science notebook to record our observations and conclusion.

 

Maps -- by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Mom's Review

I knew my kids were going to fall all over themselves to read this book and I was right! This book is huge! I mean that in a good way. It's the size of a typical coffee table book.

The illustrations are beautiful. They have this lovely vintage feel to them that are simple, yet detailed.

Each continent is broken down into chapters and then a few countries from each continent are featured with a full 2-page spread.

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

Application Activity

The kids are writing research papers this year. They are picking one of the countries featured in the book and will use the illustrations that are used to represent different aspects of the country as a jumping off point for their research.

My daughter loved to see what the girls and boys looked like and their names and clothes they wore. My son loved the facts about the country size, the language, the flag, and the population size.

They both adored the drawings of the animals, people, and all the little things in each country.

This is a fantastic book to pull out when you just want to look at something fascinating and beautiful. This book will be used quite a bit when the kids are waiting for me to help them with their school work when I'm working with another kid. It's also a fantastic book to sit and find new things and learn at the same time.

 

They're reading their books with joy!

9 History Books for Reluctant Readers to Fall in Love With

 

It does a mom's heart good to see this.

Our family has been blessed by these new additions to our library. My children are eager to read the books and there is no greater joy than to see the world inside a book open up to a child.

Final Thoughts

Pick books that contain topics that will draw your children in, even if they may not be your favorite subjects. My son loves nonfiction and my daughter loves reading about people. My younger kiddos love adventure and humor. The youngest love seeing seeing children and animals.

When you add activities to your books, don't overthink it. What naturally flows with the reading. Above all else, make sure it doesn't take away from the book and the love of reading it.

If it becomes too much, you'll all resent the project.

Don't give in too easily, but make sure it is actually worth it to do and not just something to do.

Here's the whole list of all the books we received so you can have a handy dandy list so you too can grab these treasures!

 

The Odyssey -- by Gillian Cross and Neil Packer

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! -- by Laura Amy Schiltz

Castle Diary -- by Richard Platt and Chris Riddell

Roman Diary -- Richard Platt and David Parkins

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight -- by Michael Morpurgo and Michael Foreman

Greek Myths for Young Children -- by Marcia Williams

The Romans: Gods, Emperors, and Dormice by Marcia Williams

Maps -- by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski

Mesmerized -- by Mara Rockliff and Iacopo Bruno

 

Check out all the Candlewick has to offer -- I guarantee you're going to find THE perfect book for your child.

Follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest (fantastic boards), and YouTube.

 

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 2 & 1

Did you have a tear slip slowly down your cheek too? Yeah, I know. It's the last day of the top 10 tips for homeschooling a large, and awesome, family.

Either you're crying with sorrow that it's over, or you're crying with joy because it's over (and now you can get to work... not that you were suffering, right?).

 

ten tips large family 5 header

 

The tips were so hard to put in order of importance. In a week, they could change. However, these last two tips were the ones I needed most to go from stressed and overwhelmed to feeling like a homeschooling supermom.

I'm even wearing my Wonder Woman T-shirt today to prove it.

#2

Your plan is set, that picture in your head is almost 100% clear. You ask yourself, "what will the day-to-day be like, though?"

Set your daily and weekly schedule to fit your personality and lifestyle.

This is best done by picking the scheduling method that suits you and gleaning from excellent examples, without copying.

Schedule Types

Set time schedule

You wake up and are ready at the same time, reading is always at 10 AM, lunch is always at 12:30, etc.

Robinson curriculum is similar to this. You read 2 hours a day, math 2 hours a day, and writing 1 hour a day. Without fail. It's encouraged to do this bright and early in the morning and be done at lunch.

Routine

Routine is that you do certain things in an order, but you don't care what time you do it at. reading could be at 9:23, lunch at 11:45, and history could have gone on for a lot longer than normal.

Block Schedule

Your school times are in chunks of time. You do your core subjects (3 R's) in the AM block, have lunch at a set time, and then do your other subjects after lunch.

When we were using Konos (unit studies) this is what we did. The 3 R's in the morning, and then our Unit Studies in the afternoon. I later switched it to Unit Studies in the morning and then the 3 R's in the afternoon because I was more consistent with them this way.

Rhythm Homeschooling

This is fairly new to me, but it's a different thing each week. Basically, you have a small set schedule and you have goals for each day and you allow those to dictate where you're going and what you do that day. It's got boundaries, yet it's completely flexible.

 

plan to be flexible quote

 

In her book, Plan to Be Flexible, Alicia goes much much more in-depth and she might be unhappy with me for not explaining it well. Don't punch me!

This book really resonated with me, her story and mine seem so similar and her pains are mine. She's got it figured out and I don't. This is a book I'm going to have to read twice and take better notes in to figure it all out.

Loop Scheduling 

This is where you list out all the curricula you use, how frequently you need to use it and then you put it in a rotating order. You can have it for a whole week, month, or quarter. So you go down the list and check off each as you complete them and move to the next item.

For instance: 

  1. Science 12x/quarter
  2. Art 6x/quarter
  3. History 12x/quarter
  4. Music 10x/quarter
  5. etc

You'd make your list: science, art, history, music, science, history, music, science, art, history, music, etc

You'd go science, and when you were done, you'd move to art, then history. This is so that if you do history and it takes all day Monday, it didn't ruin any plans, you will just do music on Tuesday and continue from there. You may do lots that day, or you may do one. This just helps you keep on track without feeling the burden of being "behind." There's no such thing.

I'll explain this one more another day. :)

 

In the end, you pick one of these, or any other you've heard of, that meshes well with your personality. As much as I wish I could live by a set time schedule, I immediately feel trapped and stifled and crazy.

You can do a combination of the two. We'll be doing a routine/loop schedule this year. As I read more of rhythm based homeschooling I'll move over to that.

Schedule Resources

Weekly Homeschool Planner -- I've been using this planner since the beginning of time. It's fantastic!

Family Homeschool Planner 2015-2016 -- I just found this one via the Omnibus sale, and I absolutely love it! I love all the extras it has.

#1

It's so easy to let things get in our way or self-sabotage our greatest efforts and plans. Your mental mindset is the final piece. Be reasonable, yet firm, with yourself and your family. Create support, accountability, and a backup plan.

ten tips large family 5 pin

Expectations.

Be realistic, but don't be milquetoast. If something's not working, figure out why. Maybe it's YOU (or your child) that needs a reset or encouragement.

Set expectations for yourself, not unreasonable ones though. Decide what you expect out of yourself and what you expect from your children. Do not budge.

Be flexible.

Tweak when necessary, change after evaluation, and let go of impossible standards.

[Tweet "Tweak when needed, change after eval, and let go of imposs standards. #homeschool"]

When you set expectations that doesn't mean that you need to be super homeschooling mom. That doesn't mean your children are all going to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This also doesn't mean you have to do what Suzie at Iamthebesthomeschoolmomintheworldandyoullnevermatchme.com is doing.

Let go of days that just didn't go how you wanted or planned or expected. Count all the victories, no matter how small. They do count. If something isn't working out, figure out how to make it work for you, not you working for it.

Be persistent.

Be consistent. Push even on those days that are killing you. Push a little more before you call a "day off" of homeschooling.

Those days are good to have, just don't let it become a pattern or that automatic backup plan. Have other strategies in place first.

Find someone to reach out to for you to be held accountable. This is helpful during those times when homeschooling is the last thing you want to do that day.

In summary

Tip #2: Routine + schedule + rhythm

Tip #1: Expectations + Flexibility + Persistence

[Tweet "Know that you've got this! #homeschool #tips"]

You have got this!

 

What has been the most helpful tip for you?

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 4 & 3

You're so close to figuring out homeschooling and your swarm of children. par

Or....maybe not. ;)

You're still just not seeing the WHOLE picture or how it all goes together.

These two tips will help fit some of the final pieces together in your mind. That picture will begin to form more wholly and beautifully!

tips for homeschool large family 4

#4

You're searching everywhere, reading everything, trying to figure out how to keep homeschooling your children. There's so many systems, and methods, and suggestions your brain is cramping.

Design your own game plan that combines methods into what works for YOU.

Go to your favorite resources and people to find the plans and suggestions that most appeal to you.

NOT what you think you should be doing. What you think would work FOR your family. Pick what will fit and throw the rest out.

Some resources I've used

Blueprint Homeschooling  -- Some serious goodness here!

Plan to Be Flexible -- Love!

Your Retreat: A Guide to Giving Yourself a Personal Planning Day -- So encouraging!

[Tweet "Your #homeschool plan should be designed for your family, not someone else's. "]

Write/draw it all out so you can see it.

Here's how I've done that.

I will say that I don't have pictures for you and I know how much those help. The huge poster I had filled out got smashed in our move. I just keep forgetting to grab a new poster every time I go to the store. Which I did tonight, I eyed the posters and thought, I think I need one of those... and kept on wheeling through.

But, I DID get to see Captain Hook (minus the hook).

Take out a piece of paper for each kid, even the baby.

  1. Write their name at the top
  2. List out every subject they do
  3. Underneath each subject list each piece of curriculum or resource you use (within reason)
  4. Grab some highlighters (or something similar)
  5. Highlight every piece of curriculum that requires Mom to be with them when they use it. Use the same color for this across all the papers.
  6. Highlight every piece of curriculum that needs some, but not full, one-on-one time. Medium help from mom (give instructions, help set it up, etc.); use the same color.
  7. Highlight every piece of curriculum that they can do on their own 100%. Again, use the same color. It may be helpful to indicate how long this task generally takes.

Now is the mind cramp time. Don't despair. I got through this with some major undiagnosed brain fog and pregnancy brain.  Meaning, even if you're at 5% of your game, you've got this. You just may stare at the paper a little longer. ;)

This is where I grabbed lots of scratch paper. Set out your plan (that you set up) and schedule. You can do this with routines rather than schedules.

 

Look at all your kids, how many things can each do alone, with you, and with some help? The younger ones will need more of you, obviously. Pick a child and a subject. Just do the first on the list. 

Now, when that child is doing this curriculum what could your other children be doing?

If Captain is doing his math (he does alone, unless he is struggling), I can have Little Miss working on her spelling and vocabulary words nearby. I sit with The Animal and do his reading lesson.  

I keep going through each child and putting them in work slots.

We usually do school in chunks of time. I break down our subjects to be efficient and and put about 3-4 work slots in one chunk of time.

[wc_row][wc_column size="one-fourth" position="first"]

The Captain - 4th

  1. Reading
  2. Handwriting
  3. Spelling
  4. Scriptures

[/wc_column][wc_column size="one-fourth"]

Little Miss - 2nd

  1. Math
  2. Handwriting
  3. Spelling
  4. Scriptures

[/wc_column][wc_column size="one-fourth"]

The Animal - 1st

  1. Handwriting
  2. Reading
  3. Math
  4. Play with Sweet Cheeks

[/wc_column][wc_column size="one-fourth" position="last"]

Sweet Cheeks - PreK-ish & The Baby (1)

  1. Color (Baby sits with me)
  2. Reading (Baby plays or has a snack)
  3. Plays (both)
  4. Plays with The Animal (Mom plays with Baby)

[/wc_column][/wc_row]

Then, I go through the next chunk of time and repeat.

I put each block of time on a post-it. This way, if something comes up, I can shift the block of time around and know that when I'm helping The Animal with math, the older two should be working on their spelling. It takes out the day-to-day thinking for me. I just look and it tells me what would be best for the other children to do if I'm helping another on a certain subject.

 

Test and tweak as necessary. Always be realistic with yourself.

 

 

ten tips large family 4 pin

#3

Large families have been blessed with many children just eager to love and be loved. There always seems like at least one child slips through the cracks no matter how hard you try.

Each week, set an appointment with each child to meet with them.

You'll check in with them, chat, and ask questions.

  • How are they doing this week?
  • What's been hard for them?
  • What's been enjoyable?
  • What have they learned?
  • What do they need help with?
  • What would they like to tell you about?

This is a perfect opportunity to go over any missed answers on work that's been turned in, anything they're struggling with, and to review any particular material you want to go over.

You can take this time to teach them something that's just for them. You can work on a special project together. My eldest son and I work on some of his Cub Scout stuff to pass off. With The Animal, we do some fun math games. Little Miss loves working on art projects together.

 

You can make this appointment as short or as long as you'd like. You don't have to do everything I've listed. Just set an appointment, put it in your calendar, and sit down and spend time with them.

 

This brought me a lot of peace when I started it. I have time to really connect and talk to each child, to spend it in a meaningful way, that I hope will foster and grow our relationship as parent and child that will bless us for years to come.

In Plan to Be Flexible, Alicia even talks about setting up a yearly date, or appointment, with each child to evaluate your Homeschooling. She's got tons of great questions and worksheets for this invaluable date.

[Tweet "Crave consistent one-on-one time with your children? Check out this easy #tip"]

In summary

Tip #4: Design your own plan + write it out

Tip #3: Set an appointment with each child

You are nearly there! Your homeschooling is going to take off and be just what you need it to be for your family and yourself. You'll find yourself giggling with relief.

chuffed

 

Get the last two tips tomorrow!! Wahoo!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 6 & 5

You thought Homeschooling was for your family, but gosh, this wrangling and teaching and cuddling and cooking and cleaning of all these kids at the same time is terrifying.

What in the heck are you to do? Give up? Throw in the towel? Never! ...but, wow.

tips for homeschool large family 3

 

It's okay. I get it. You're right, you don't have to give up. That voice that tells you there's gotta be a way, after all you see tons of Homeschooling families pulling it off and they look sane, happy, and they're all educated. They can't all be superhuman!

 

They're not. They're just the same as you, and as me.

Check out my next two tips to get you on your way to be just as joyful, calm, sane, and intelligent.

(Did you miss the first four tips? Get tips 10 & 9. Get tips 8 & 7).

 

#6

So many large Homeschooling families have little ones running around. Those precious little ones can (and will) derail your daily homeschool schedule and plans in an instant.

Implementing plans and backup plans will ensure all of your children continue to learn even on the worst days.

 

Schedule the bulk of your activities when your youngsters are at their happiest and most agreeable times. As well as during their nap times.

You can't rely on nap times all the time.

Many kids start to outgrow nap times before you're ready, or they won't go to sleep at the time you have planned, or at all.

For instance, my youngest little guy (1 years old) seems to be happiest early in the morning and then right after dinner. Between those times it's always a guess. Sometimes he's cranky (3 teeth are breaking through right now) and sometimes he's giggly. Sometimes he wants his nap at his regular time and sometimes he decides he needs his nap an hour ahead of his usual time.

[Tweet "Plan your #homeschool times around your baby's happiest times of the day"]

I plan our mom-is-needed school time around those happy times when he's happiest playing by himself with some toys, pulling out all the wipes, or exploring the kitchen drawers.

When he needs me to pay attention to him I have the kids doing the bulk of their independent work, or other items on their daily checklists. He gets lots of mommy playtime, cuddling, and food.

Use your checklists to have older kids rotate school time and sibling time. There are times when I need to help The Animal on his reading and he needs quiet. We go downstairs to the couch and the older kids are working. One is reading to Sweet Cheeks or coloring with her. The other older kid is playing with The Baby.

 

superhuman

 

As I mentioned yesterday, each child has on their daily checklist to spend time with the younger two. It is a tremendous help to me.

Have activities, easy ones, ready for the youngsters. Set guidelines for the older little ones. My Sweet Cheeks is 3.5 and she can handle guidelines where my 1 year old will just drool on my face.

Make the activities simple, easy to put together, and in a location that is easy to access. I would suggest setting rules that these are for school time only in order to keep them from growing uninterested in that set as quick.

Fun activities for babies to preschoolers

 

Follow Rochelle Barlow's board Homeschool + PreK on Pinterest.

#5

Homeschooling families can get overrun with their long lists of things to coordinate.

They don't implement them because they're too overwhelmed to think about it or where to start. Putting systems in place is a profitable strategy because it saves time, energy, and brain cells.

We can't start losing more than we already have! ;)

easy-peasy

Set up a system for your chores. Have chore rotations, each child in charge of a chore appropriate for their age. They can do more than you realize.

Here are the chores we have our kids do:

  • Dishes: hand washing, dishwasher, putting away (started at about age 6/7)
  • Laundry: sorting, wash, dry, fold, and put away (starting at age 3)
  • Trash: collecting, taking out, picking up trash in the house (age 3+)
  • Sweep and mop (age 5+)
  • Vacuum (age 5/6+)
  • Counters, table (4+)
  • Bathrooms (7+)
  • Make beds (2+)
  • Toys, books, clutter, rooms (2+)

Set up buckets or baskets for each chore containing the supplies they need for each chore (if anything is required) and put a checklist in each chore bucket. If the chore doesn't require a bucket, have a place for checklist for that chore.

This is what you'll use to say these things need to be done correctly for this chore to be checked off. You can inspect with that checklist in hand, or have them inspect themselves.

If you want chores done a specific time each day, set up a schedule. You can set up a time of day you'd like it done in (AM, after lunch, PM) otherwise just say it needs to be done today.

ten tips large family 3 pin

Set up systems for meals.

Use a meal planner system, make lunches ahead of time, make an assembly line, make dinners ahead of time, and have your older children involved in cooking.

Organize your school area to provide a place for everything and systems for your school days. Prepare every needful thing. Set aside a weekend to do major prep work, a time slot for each week, and a few minutes each day to prep for the next day.

Have shelfs, baskets, areas, pouches, folders, and bulletin boards and more dedicated to specific school work, tools, resources, and activities. Set up areas for the kids to have access their work and supplies and any other learning activity you'd like them to do independently.

This doesn't mean spend your lifetime doing this or a lifetime worth of money to do it. Do what you can with what you have and do it in the time you have.

The more you can do ahead of time setting up the systems that work for your family the better prepared you'll be when life hits you or you're all just having one of those days.

This MP3 is great at helping you organize your home for some peace!

In summary

#6 Have definite plans and back up plans for your littles.

#5 Get organized with systems and prepare as much as you can.

Today's tips require a bit more work than the previous four. You didn't think you'd get out of working did you? Nah, I knew you were realistic.

Working today will save you tomorrow. So long as you don't overdo it and try to do it all in one day. Make sure you get help from your family.

Tomorrow's Homeschooling tips are some of my favorite! See you then.

Mwah

 

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 8 & 7

As a parent of a large homeschooling family you wonder if it's doable. 

There's so much to consider, to worry about. It's overwhelming.

tips for homeschool large family 2

Here are two more tips -- tested and proven -- that will aide you in your noble quest for sanity, fun, and a fabulous education for your amazing family.

#8

You've got so many things you're think about in a constant, steady stream. You've delegated jobs and responsibilities, but are concerned that after half a day it will all fizzle out to nothing more than a puddle of good intentions.

Take your list of delegated responsibilities (tip #9) and make them trackable for each person.

Make a checklist of daily tasks for each child, with a special place to keep it and a pen, marker, highlighter, sticker, or pencil set aside solely for this purpose. This is all the motivation my kids needed.

They are in charge of doing the task and marking it done.

[Tweet "Put your kids in charge of their daily tasks and they will take more ownership #homeschool #tip"]

Include tasks such as:

  • Play with the baby
  • Read to the toddler
  • Go over skip counting with Jr.

Make their daily tasks required (schoolwork, chores, and misc) to be done before anything else. Rotate their responsibilities and switch it up.

Don't confine the children to a time, unless you really need it to be done at a specific time. If you allow them greater freedom by picking the order and the time they do things in, they will cooperate more and take better ownership of their checklists.

Perhaps if they do not do things correctly, or at all, or in a timely manner you could set a schedule for that list until they prove themselves otherwise. That's up to you.

Here are two resources for checklists and daily task sheets that I have used.

Free Accountability Printable -- Heather, over at OnlyPassionateCuriosity.com has so many wonderful printables. some free, some paid, but gosh, they are cheap and worth it! We used this checklist since I found it back in November 2014. Love it!

Betsy at Notebooking Nook has a bajillion amazing and awesome goodies. Check out this great student planner pack and assignment cards. We're going to give these a whirl this year!

ten tips large family 2 pin

#7

You are homeschooling a lot of kids...at the same time. The kids all want your undivided attention...all at the same time. Foster independence in each child and have them rely on themselves more and more to learn.

This may hurt and you may want to punch me: let go of curriculum that is teacher-driven, teacher-led, teacher-powered, teacher teacher teacher. Aahhhhh!

Or come up with a great way to use it, but take out the heavy burden of doing it all always.

Your children may resist. In fact, they will.

I want my teacher back! I want you to give me the information! I don't want to do this by myself... I can't do this by myself.... MooooOOoommmmmm......!

 

Do not fall for it. Your children are brilliant. Even if they don't test high on the IQ, and in fact, you truly worry that they're really not that smart, they are. They are smart enough to do this. This is when it takes faith and trust from you to allow them this opportunity.

You're still there, you're still their teacher (or facilitator), you're just letting them take more control over their own education. This is a great way to teach choice and accountability, a great characteristic for us all.

[Tweet "Your kids may protest when you have them do more #homeschool work on their own. Don't fall for it."]

What do you do instead?

Switch to a child-led curriculum (Robinson Curriculum). Have them read more living, whole, rich books as their way of learning. Charlotte Mason method takes advantage of many living books. As do many Homeschooling methods.

Get your kids writing more. Write more papers, more poems, more journal entries. Have them start notebooking.

Give them individual work that can be done without mom hovering. I'm not saying give them busy work. I do not believe in busy work. In fact, that's one of the reasons I do not send my children to public school. 

Here are some great resources for individual work for all ages:

See? There is TONS of goodness out there. You will need to do some prep work to get this all settled and ready to go. Take a bit of time one weekend, have someone help watch the kids, or have your husband take the kids out to the park while you stay home and just focus in on getting your stuff ready to go at a moment's notice.

If you don't get it all ready you'll never use it, or you'll get so stressed in the moment that you'll curse my name and wish you'd never read this stupid blog post.

iHomeschool Network's 4th annual Omnibus sale • the original homeschool bundle

In summary

#8 = checklists + daily tasks

#7 = independence + independent work (not busy work)

[Tweet "10 tips for #homeschooling large families. Can you guess what tips 8 and 7 are? "]

Up next

Tomorrow you'll get tips 6 & 5. I'll give you a hint: little.

Hey, if you have some great ideas to help with checklists and fostering independence, please tell me. I'm always on the hunt to add to my rotation. 

Mwah

 

 

 

 

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Top 10 Tips For Homeschooling A Large Family: Tips 10 & 9

Is homeschooling a large family really even possible?

Without losing your mind? Without becoming "that homeschool mom" that people bolt at the first sight of?

Yeah, it is.

 

tips for homeschool large family

 

I have many friends that homeschool their first two kids, love it, or get overwhelmed, and then when the third one is old enough for school they bail come August.

That's sad. Not only is it sad, but it's unnecessary.

[Tweet "#Homeschooling a large family is doable, no straightjacket required."]

If you are thinking about not homeschooling anymore because of the size of your family, just give me 5 days to show you another option.

5 Days. For 5 Days you'll get a countdown of my top tips, and things that I have used and am using for my own family. In case you are wondering, I have 5 children. I know some things.

I'm working my way from great to awesome. I'm saving my top tips for last. You've got to build up to the goodness. That doesn't mean you skip 10 - 6 because they're no good. False. They are good. It was really hard to put them in order of impact/importance; there are quite a few that I think are equal.

It's the final countdown!!!!

#10

Many large Homeschooling families feel alone, overwhelmed, and stressed. They don't know how to banish these damaging and discouraging feelings and often turn to the wrong sources. Use the free tools that are right next to you, but you may not see them as a tool and thus, dismiss them.

Learn to laugh at yourself and use humor to diffuse any negative feelings in your home and in your heart.

Using humor robs these negative feelings of their power over you.

 

When the kids' science experiment goes all sorts of wrong find something that you can laugh about; find something that you learned through this colossal gaffe and make it part of the learning process with your children. Breathe.

"Blue skies in, gray skies out." -McKenna (American Girl movie)

 

Start and end your day with sincere, earnest, and specific prayers for you, your spouse, your children, and your homeschool.

Pray for the clarity, energy, and focus you need. Pray for the support you need from your spouse, pray for each thing each of your children need. If they are struggling with writing a paper, pray for help to guide them, to encourage them, and for that child to understand, to persist, and to whatever else they need.

 

Do not isolate yourself or become a martyr. Reach out to your spouse, or anyone else to create a support system that fits you.

This is a hard one for me. I'm a mega introvert and love being alone. It's hard for me to ask for help, but I'm learning that things go so much better when I reach out for help and I make connections with other Homeschooling Mamas doing the same thing I am.

ten tips large family pin

#9

As a Homeschooling mom of a large family it often feels like we're herding cats. Stray, wild, feral cats.

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blackcat

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ninja_cat

[/wc_column][wc_column size="one-third" position="last"]

cinl

[/wc_column][/wc_row]

Getting everything and everyone to operate without any major kinks is necessary to avoid burn-out and stress overload. Work together and share the responsibilities to lighten your load.

Sit down and work out what needs to be done in your home, your family, and your school each day, each week, and each month. Gather the family together to discuss these items and then delegate these duties to every person in the family (except the newborn, of course).

You are a family, which means you are a team. The job of keeping the family going is everyone's.

 

Now what?

I don't like to just have ambiguous ideas thrown at me. I like directions, I like steps, I love examples.

There are a few resources I want to point out to you that you can use to help you accomplish tips #10 and #9.

hope-0

Hope For The Heart of The Homeschool Mom by Jamerrill Stewart

It has the most beautiful cover, don't you think? There are more than just pretty words in here, but actionable, helpful ideas, guidance, and encouragement specifically for those days when you question your sanity and know those angel children of yours are morphing into wild cats.

Mindset For Moms by Jamie Martin

I've followed Jamie since the beginning of time (when I started Homeschooling). This is a wonderful book that lays out a new way of thinking, acting, being for 30 days.

There are 3 MP3 that you will enjoy listening to. The titles alone grabbed me, never mind that they're excellent.

anger-0

Letting Go of Mommy Anger -- I know, right!

Discover the Joy in Letting God Lead Your Homeschool -- perfect to go along with your daily prayers.

You Are Not Alone: Collaborate Homeschool -- now you can figure out exactly how to create that support system you need.

You can purchase each of these separately and you will be on your way to mastering the skills, the stress, the overwhelm and doubt that you have. Don't mistake, there's no shame in feeling any of these. The important part is you don't let them beat you; you don't let them win.

Come back tomorrow for tips #8 and #7: they're gonna be awesome!!

Mwah

 

 

 

 

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Easy Plan For Your Not Back To School Party!

Let's celebrate! It's time for NOT back to school.

As homeschoolers we have the greatest freedom and flexibility in our days. We've got to take advantage of this great gift and use it for a day of fun!

 

That means, a (Home) school party!

not back to school party

Let's throw a Not Back to School Party!

I've posted some questions for you to consider as you plan your party. It can really be anything that fits you.

 

What do you want from your celebration?

  • Pump your children (and yourself) up for the coming school year
  • Have a day of fun
  • Celebrate your reasons for homeschooling
  • Set the stage for your school year
  • Etc.

When will you hold your party?

  • The week (or more) before
  • The day before
  • The night before
  • The day of
  • The night of your first day

Who is coming to the party?

  • Just your family
  • Your other Homeschool friends
  • Your family
  • Your Homeschool club or co-op

What age of people is this party for?

  • All ages
  • Littles
  • Middles
  • Olders
  • Parents

What's your budget?

  • Free
  • Mostly free
  • Small budget
  • Medium
  • Extravaganza-type

How complicated?

Your budget may impact your complication. Though, it is possible to have a very involved party without spending lots of money.

  • You want a simple party
  • Somewhat involved party
  • Very involved party

Location

  • Home
  • Park
  • Community Center
  • Outdoor location
  • Museum
  • Etc

Here's an invitation for you to use

blank invite

 

Click on the picture and it'll open in a new tab. Right-click and click Save As. Next, upload it to PicMonkey to edit it and add text of your choosing. Print or email to your friends and family to invite them to your Not Back To School Party!

Activities

Large Groups

  • Ultimate Frisbee
  • Water Kickball
  • Hike
  • Swim party
  • Flour tag
  • Party Games
  • Picnic

Smaller Groups

  • Party Games
  • Time capsule
  • Decorate your own journal/notebook
  • Wrap a pen/pencil
  • School photos
  • Treasure hunt
  • Hike
  • Picnic
  • Swim in the river/lake/pool
  • Painting
  • Water games

Yummy stuff to eat

  • Cookies and milk
  • Apple buffet
  • Ice cream sundae bar
  • Burgers and hotdogs
  • Chili cheese fries
  • Pizza
  • Family's favorite meal
  • Breakfast
  • Apple Pie Cupcakes
  • Confidence Cookies
  • Rice Krispie apples
  • Chocolate Kiss Pencils

Goodies

A treat to give away is always fun

  • A visit from the Homeschool Fairy (fresh fun school supplies)
  • Edible Glue
  • Lucky Charms goodie Bag
  • Gumball Ruler
  • Pencil cases
  • Snazzy notebooks
  • Membership to a museum or zoo
  • A new book (or a set of books)
  • A fun printable full of encouragement, framed

not back to school pin

Let's put it all together into two options

Party option #1

Who: Family Party

Where: Backyard

When: Afternoon/Evening of the first day

Have a few simple decorations

Red, yellow, and blue streamers, a couple grouping of balloons, and 3 mason jars filled with fresh new pencils, crayons, and colored pencils for a centerpiece.

Food

Have an apple buffet:

Apples with caramel sauce in a bowl (melt caramels with some milk/cream). Have bowls of toppings to sprinkle on your caramel apples. Can slice the apples up to make it easier to eat.

Have apple rice krispie treats, apple cupcakes, and apple juice. Lay out some savory treats as well to counter balance all the sweets: fresh veggies, chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, a favorite dip, etc.

Activities

Have a treasure hunt, draw a vague map. Have them stop at several locations within the house and backyard. Have a clue at each stop. Have a prize at the end -- a box of fun art supplies or science experiment.

Decorate your own composition notebook with glue, paints, paper, and anything else you love and can find.

OR decorate your own library bag with fabric markers and paint. What Homeschooler doesn't love the library?

Each person (even the parents) fill out a survey for the year.

Make a sign displaying their grade (if you use grade levels) and take a picture and have mom take a picture holding each sign for the children's grade levels. Make sure and take a family photo as well.

Play relay races.

Make a picnic dinner together, pack it up, go to a park, on a hike, or to the backyard and eat out under the sky.

Tell each kid what you love about them, what you think their strengths are, and your hopes for them this year. Ask them what their hopes are for this school year are.

Be sure to record them either at the picnic or when you get home.

Goodies

These are the treasure they find, the things they decorate, and the centerpieces for them to keep.

[Tweet "Plan your #notbacktoschool party here! "]
Party option #2

Who: Homeschol Group

Where: Lake

When: Weekend before school starts

Food

Everybody brings their own picnic lunch

Have fun treats: pencil cupcakes, chips and dip, cut up watermelon, Rice Krispie treat apples.

Activities

Ultimate Frisbee

Water Games

  • Mattress surfing: blow up a queen-sized mattress, push it out into the water. Everyone takes turns seeing how long they can stand up in the middle of it. Longest time wins!
  • Mattress wrestling: get on that same queen-sized mattress and have two people kneel on the mattress, facing each other. Place your hands on the other person's shoulders and try to push the other one off without getting knocked off.

Make sure those that are weaker swimmers have life jackets on. If in a pool, may need help to keep the mattress away from the sides.

Swimming

Easy party games for the younger kiddos.

Goodies

A small treat bag with a few fun art supplies: tube of paint, paint brush, pencil, and mini canvas or a list of art prompts.

Confidence cookies

Thought

Optional: Have an opening or closing "speech" to welcome everyone and to give some words of encouragement for the new school year. The confidence cookies thought is a great thing to share.

 

Looking for more resources and ideas for your Not Back to School traditions and celebrations? You're in the right place!

 

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120 ideas

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Here is a post I curated for you, my lovely friend. There's a ton of not back to school party ideas, treats, gifts, and photo ideas in this post. In fact, there's 120 different ideas. Get excited.

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Keep an eye out for more ideas headed your way! And to see what we do for our own NOT Back to School Party.

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

10 Tips For Cooking Dinner When You Can't Eat The Same Foods As Your Family

This post may contain affiliate links. This does not change the price in any way, just helps to maintain this blog. 2 sep dinner blog

Or that could be titled:

How to Make Two Separate Dinners Each Night Without Breaking Down in Tears

The hardest part with major diet changes is answering that daily question, "what's for dinner?" 

There are days when I want to punch the asker square in the throat. But then, that'd be child abuse and I don't believe in child abuse.

There are days when Mr. Barlow comes home from the grocery store laden with food and as I help put it away I realize there are only three things I can eat. I don't always handle that well.

 

I'm still stuck in the cycle of mourning.

 

5 stages of food

 

This is real (except I don't drink coffee or vodka).

Let me share with you how I survive eating the Autoimmune Protocol Diet. AIP for short.

Okay, I'll be 100% honest, because that's how I roll. I do not follow it 100% I'm probably about 75% on target and the other 25% is not budging right now.

If you want to know why I eat this way, head over to this post, I explain it all there.

You HAVE to have a plan.

Did I just tell you to have a plan? Yes, I did. Don't slap me.

The biggest contributor to my success AND to my failures has been meal planning.

Meal planning feels like an event; an event that doesn't earn me a medal of any kind.

 

The easiest way is to pull out your recipes, open your Pinterest boards, and grab a sheet of paper. I just use one of those magnet list things that I got from the Dollar Spot from Target. Who else is obsessed with Target?

I plan out about 8 - 9 meals. Why that many? I don't like going to the store that often and I'd like to get through half of another week before I need to replenish the stockade. Plus, I usually run out of ideas after that many days and have too many to stop at 4. Also, who wants to drudge through the grocery store for just 4 meals only to have to repeat it again so soon?

 

Not I. The grocery store sucks the soul out of my body and sucks the time from my life. I feel my life being tangibly shortened each time I wander those aisles.

10 Tips For Cooking Dinner When You Can't Eat The Same Foods As Your Family

Here are the 10 tips

[Tweet "Get 10 #tips for cooking #dinner when you can't eat the same foods as your family"]

1. Know your ingredients

You need to know what it is you can and cannot eat. I know that seems obvious, but if you have an allergy to corn, wheat, sugar, or dairy you need to make sure you know all the hidden ways it pops up in your food. Believe me they are in everything.

Keep an eye out for them in your regularly used products and cut them out or find substitutions.

2. Alterations are your friend

Pick your favorite family recipes. Is there a way to change the recipe so that you may enjoy them still?

There are some recipes that lend themselves to this easier than you think. There are some, like my favorite cheesy creamy chicken enchiladas, that do not. Especially when I can't have dairy or grains.

For instance, we had BBQ chicken tonight. Nearly every BBQ sauce out there has sugar in it. Or some variation of sugar. Make your own without sugar.

My favorite lie is when people say, on there's no sugar in it, but there's a elephant-sized amount of honey or cane syrup in it. That's sugar. Sure it's natural, but when you can't have sugar, you can't have sugar.

It's like saying it's organic tobacco grown on my Grandpappy's farm where no fertilizer touched it ever and only friendly animals and bugs wandered through its fields, and only the nicest, hard-working, loyal, and gentle laborers harvested and prepared it for my chew.

I'm still gonna die. 

Rant over.

3. Coordinate your meals

Say your family is having nachos for dinner. You can have taco salad, using the same taco meat that they put on their nachos.

Take what meals you have planned for the family and then build on it. If you can have the same meat, then make sure your sides are ones you can eat. If they have chips or french fries with their burgers, make sure you have a yummy side salad, or roasted veggies. I made baked french fries out of green beans once and they were pretty good.

If you can't have the main dish, or a portion of the main dish, make sure all the sides are things you can eat and then have a separate main dish for yourself.

4. Cook once for many

I love systems, factories, and efficiency. If I only have to do something once and it's set for a long time, I'm happy.

I pick out 7 different main dishes that I love.

Then each day for a week I make each meal.

If I have time to do this earlier in the day, I do. If not, I'll cook it alongside, just after, or just before I make the family dinner. It may be helpful to have the easiest dinners alive during this week, or enlist some help.

I eat one portion of the meal that night.

I then grab individual sized tupperware containersI proportion each serving out into each container. Slap a label on it and freeze them all. 

The next day I repeat. I do this for the whole week. After that week is over, I now have at least 4 weeks of dinners made for me. All I have to do is make the sides, which can be the same sides for the rest of the family.

This is my favorite way to do it. It's so simple, yet uses so much less energy.

 

10 Tips For Cooking Dinner When You Can't Eat The Same Foods As Your Family

5. Get help

When I was first adjusting to this new lifestyle and getting the lay of the land and figuring it out, my husband, bless his sweet soul, took over the dinner time responsibilities.

To make you really jealous, he just did it, he just planned out dinners and took over until I was ready to start up again. He's mine. You can't have him. ;)

If your husband is not friendly with the kitchen, it's time to figure out, the two of you, some easy easy meals that he can put together. You may have to be okay with them eating mac n cheese, or cold hotdogs, or pizza every other night. A few weeks won't ruin them.

Some options:

  • He can take over dinner for a week, two, or more.
  • He can take over dinner for a week each month (while you make your dinners)
  • He can take one - three nights a week to be in charge of dinner.

What if you're single? Or if your husband works weird shifts/is gone a lot

Is there someone you know and feel comfortable asking to come over and help you prepare meals, bring your kids dinner every once in a while, or be with the kids while you cook? Or even cook for you?

Get some friends and have a cooking day with each other to prepare as many meals ahead of time as possible. You'll have great company and the time won't be as painful.

If you have weird schedules work around the schedules you have set. My sister-in-law's husband works graveyards so they have a big lunch together and then make their dinner more like their lunch time. If she was doing this, she would just switch her big meal prep and help to lunch instead of dinner.

6. Embrace the necessary tools

I used to only use my crockpot for pot roast. Oh, how I love pot roast. I have finally learned that I can cook good meals, even healthy ones, in my crock pot.

Just learn to love it if you don't already.

7. Do as much as you can ahead of time

I just started reading this book, Chicken Dump Recipes. I made 5 meals in 30 minutes, 4 of which I can eat. It's fabulous. They aren't gross, icky, filled with cream of mushroom, and laden with cheese, and stuff. They're simple, tasty, and easy meals to make. I love that they don't take up much room in my freezer either. I can't wait for her to write Beef Dump Recipes.

chicken-dump-cover

I tried once a month cooking many years ago and don't think I'll ever attempt that again. I don't think it helped that I was pregnant at the time and very sick. I can't eat any of those meals from that whole month ever again. I can't even think about them without getting ill.

Do what works for you. If you can prep a whole week for the family really fast, then do it. I did it on a Sunday afternoon when the kids were playing or napping.

Prep all your snacks ahead of time. Get all those foods washed, chopped, bagged, and put where you can grab them quick.

I have my protein shake ingredients all put in snack baggies so I can just pour in the almond milk, the ice cubes, and dump the dry ingredients in there and whirl it away.

8. Have special ingredients on hand

Don't run out of those special-to-you ingredients. That's when your snack monster will attack and you'll find yourself eating Oreos... ahem.. not that I would know anything about that. 

9. Have lots of sides & easy meals

  • Have an abundance of sides ready for you to munch on.
  • Have lots of snacks ready for you to munch on in an instant.
  • Have the family's easiest and quickest meals stocked and ready to go.
  • Have YOUR easiest meals ready to go always.

You'll thank me later.

10. Last thoughts

Have dinner with your family.

You won't feel as disconnected and lonely in your journey to health. Plus, you'll feel better, even if you can't eat what they're having.

Don't make your old favorite meals (the ones you can't have any more) on bad days. 

If you've really had a hard time with your diet change, or just a stressful day that has left you in tears, do not make that delicious pasta recipe or that dairy laden recipe that you can't have any more. Not unless you plan to eat it any way.

You'll just make a hard situation harder. Go easy on yourself. Set yourself up for success. It's okay to have bad days. It's okay to be tempted by food that your body doesn't love any more. Just accept that it's a rough day, and grab that easy meal, or let your husband know that he needs to take over tonight.

Your husband loves you, he wants your success. If you've already talked to him, you already have easy meals stocked for him to use on nights like these, it'll be a breeze. If your kids are old enough, start teaching them to cook. Win-win.

 

I wish you the best of luck.

Mwah

 

Our Switch To The Charlotte Mason Method

It's hard to admit it, but I have a bit of a problem. I love ALL the homeschool methods. I can't pick just one I love.

I have that Shiny Curriculum/Method syndrome. I want to try it all. Now.

Can you relate? Or am I alone...? *sniff sniff*

switch to cm

Last December I decided Charlotte Mason was our official, and final way to go.

 

I had seen Charlotte Mason in my early research of Homeschool methods and thought, "oh, that’s nice...," but I was determined to do Classical and ignored everything else.

Then classical didn’t work out for us.

That's a long, boring story. I still love the Classical Method though.

Then we switched to Unit studies, using Konos.

I really did enjoy using Konos. There were great things about it and things I didn’t like about it. Mostly, it came down to three deal breakers:

  1. Too much work upfront for me.
  2. Too much money for gathering up supplies.
  3. Too easy to fall behind.

Also, the kids were using me as a crutch.

Back to the research arena. Truth be told, I love and live to research.

I don’t even remember what brought me to Charlotte Mason, probably a fleeting thought, a touch of inspiration.

I loved learning about Charlotte Mason. Mr. Barlow says I only switched to it because Charlotte was British. If you didn’t know, I’m obsessed with England.

Not so, but it was a faint check in the pros column.

What was it that I loved about Charlotte Mason?

  • Short lessons
  • Narration
  • Classic, living books (Previously I would snort at that term. Living books? Get real.)
  • Nature studies.
  • Music
  • Art
  • Handiwork
  • Time set aside each day for their own projects and self-led learning.

It was a rich lifestyle that my family dearly needed.

Fast forward a few months and I started to really focus on getting my health under control. I had no idea what it was, something with my thyroid, at least. It could’ve been cancer (there was a nodule), it could’ve been hypothyroidism, or hashimotos, or worse. Well, cancer is pretty bad, obviously,

I wanted to keep homeschooling, but my energy and motivation levels were dropping rapidly. I was wiped out and worried. That’s not a fun place to be in. We were entertaining the thought of public school.

Which made me sick sick sick to think about.

our switch to cm method

To sum it all up… we are still homeschooling, but with some big changes.

We’re still going to do as much Charlotte Mason as my health and our lifestyle allows, but we’re going to be doing a lot more independent, self-taught learning.

I’m a big believer in self-teaching and independence.

I re-found Robinson Curriculum. I remember seeing it years back and thinking these people had lost their minds. Oh, what a silly girl I was… am.

Robinson Curriculum is where you focus on the 3 R’s - Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.

You are given a HUGE ginormous reading list for all 12 grades. They start at the beginning and get to reading. You dedicate 2 hours every day to reading, 2 hours to math, and 1 hour to writing. After that, you can add in whatever you want, within reason. He doesn’t encourage a lot of extra stuff.

You work up to that time, and younger kids don’t get that large amount of time to work.

Now, Charlotte Mason believes in short time chunks and build up to larger time chunks. This is going to have to be let go of.

What I’m NOT going to drop:

  • Nature Studies
  • Fine Arts
  • Self-Led Learning Time (including handiwork)
  • Narration

What Our Day Will Look Like

7:00  Wake and Breakfast

7:30 Writing

8:00 Math

9:00 Read

10:00 PE + Snack

10:30 Math

11:30 Read

12:30 Lunch

1:30 - 3:30 Extras/Self-Led Learning

We’ll meet up each day for Circle Time.

Circle Time:

  • Calendar
  • Pledge
  • Prayer
  • Memory Work (scripture, poem, and song)
  • ASL (practice/review outside of lessons)

Once (or twice) a week we’ll have Tea Time

Tea Time:

  • Poetry
  • Classical Music
  • Artist Study

Here's more on Tea Time

Once a week we’ll have Nature Study.

Nature Study:

Walk or hike somewhere and examine nature and draw a picture in our nature journals.

 

After that, they’ll work on piano and anything else they’d like to work on.

Electronics are limited to 1 hour a day.

We’ll be doing 1 hour of math and 1 hour of reading on Saturdays.

Robinson Curriculum says to do a full day of school on Saturdays, but I am not sure if we will do this.

We do have co-op for the older two on Mondays that lasts all day, so they won’t be able to do their extra stuff those days.

 

We’ll be tweaking the schedule a bit as we start it up, so look for that post later. But, since we’ll be short on time for Mondays we’ll definitely do some work on Saturdays.

 

I love Charlotte Mason. With five young kids it’s hard to do since so much of it has to be read aloud. It was becoming overwhelming and my throat hurt by the end of the day.

 

The thing I love about Robinson Curriculum is that you sit with your children as they learn. I don’t go off doing my chores while they’re working. I sit there and model proper behavior and work. This works perfectly for my blog and business as well. I can blog, create ASL materials, and transcribe while my kids are hard at work.

Plus, it allows for me some freedom to work quietly with Sweet Cheeks and play time with The Baby. Which is always awesome.

My kids are early risers so they’ll be done by lunch. After lunch they can do their own thing, plus any extras we have. It’ll leave us time for chores, cooking, exploration, and fun.

I’m excited to be able to marry the two needs we have: a quality education with greater independence and responsibility from the kiddos.

Win-win.

Now I've got some major planning and scheduling and prep work to do before we start up school again! Yikes! I feel so behind, even though, it really is only July.

Plus, we're starting Year Round this year so I need to figure out the final schedule for our terms and weeks off.

What method do you use? Do you use any bits of Charlotte Mason? How do you help your kids be independent learners?

Mwah

 

 

 

 

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Fighting For My Thyroid Diagnosis

Getting a proper diagnosis for your thyroid, for some reason, isn't easy. I just want to share my story so that you can know 3 things.

  1. You're not alone
  2. You're not crazy
  3. You can get a proper diagnosis

thyroid diagnosis

Let's start at the very beginning...

A very good place to start... (know what that's from?)

In 2009, my mother-in-law pointed out my neck. It was swollen. A goiter, she called it.

Insert paranoia of my neck protrusion.

2011, I was pregnant with my 4th, and my OB/GYN noticed my neck and wanted to run a test. The test came back fine. If I had known then what I do now, I could've figured this out years ago.

I had my 5th child June of 2014. He was big. He was adorable. He was perfect. Well, I ought to say, is perfect.

6

Then, somehow (I know how it works), we were unexpectedly pregnant in September that same year. Yes. September.

We thought we were done with #5. Well, Mr. Barlow was done. I was like, 90% sure I was done. Then, I got pregnant.

I was elated. Nervous, but elated. They’d be Irish Twins.

I had a somewhat normal, for me, pregnancy. Normal = super super sick for 10 months.

This time, I got anti-nausea medication. Hallelujah. It helped a ton.

Two weeks after Thanksgiving, I started spotting. Which was weird for me because with my 5 pregnancies I never, not once, spotted. Ever.

I called my doctor, we ordered an ultrasound. I was a wreck. A straight up mess.

We went in. As soon as I saw that little baby, I knew. She (or he) had passed.

It was an awful awful moment. I bawled. I’m so glad Mr. Barlow was there. He is like a calming drug. He can just walk in the room and I know everything is going to be okay. We held each other.

I was devastated.

Then came the worst part.

Waiting for the baby to miscarry fully. Two days later I was in “labor.” It felt like full on labor. Remember, I have experienced labor without meds. It ain’t pretty and it ain’t comfy. It hurts like hell. I don’t care what any mother-earth woman says. It hurts like hell and give me an epidural now!

No such luck. I was given pain meds and ibuprofen. That was a joke. It took it from pain 10 to pain 9.5.  Anyway, needless to say, it sucked. There was lots of blood. Contractions and misery. For several days.

The absolute hardest part was when I was in the shower and huge clots and placenta were coming out. I just prayed and prayed and prayed that I wouldn’t actually see anything that looked like a baby. Then I had to flush all those bits down the toilet. It was torture. I felt like I was flushing my baby away. My gut twists even thinking about it now. I was a bawling mess.

Heavenly Father carried me through that storm. Prayers from my family carried me through. "I’ve-been-thinking-about-you's," carried me through.

I felt a strength within me - that didn’t come from me - build and hold me up.

My emotions and heart healed quickly. I knew I’d be blessed with another precious one. Someday soon.

 

I felt inspired to take care of my health and my body. At that time, I only thought of lose weight, and eat right.

I started right away. I ate clean - I followed Trim Healthy Mama. (They have a new book coming out Sept 2015) I felt better. But not much was happening weight wise. I looked more into their book and they kept talking about the thyroid and hormones.

Well, I have had, for years now, an enlarged thyroid. Some would call it a goiter, but I refuse, because it sounds like something Quasimoto-ish. Yuck. No offense Quasi.

So, I started searching around for other information. I kept seeing thyroid, thyroid, thyroid. I read Wheat Belly. Well, skimmed it. Until I got to the good parts. The HOW of the book (1 chapter). Then read Wheat Belly Total Health, this book talks a lot about the thyroid. Then I read Grain Brain. And on and on and on.

Yikes. It was time to get my thyroid figured out.

I was freaking out. I was looking for natural remedies and food remedies. I did not want to go to the doctor. I have no idea why. I just wasn’t ready for that step. But all that information. All that information!

It’s overwhelming.

And discouraging. And confusing. Oh... and scary.

Who in the H am I supposed to follow? Believe? What am I supposed to do??

Enter, Mr. Barlow. He calmed me down. Said to call the doctor and take it one step at a time.

I did. I called Doctor #1 and she ran some tests and ordered an ultrasound.

Results: My thyroid was fine, but I was low on iron.

Turns out, she ran the archaic tests. Boo.

I was all set to call her back and demand further testing and to look at my neck, when a dear friend of mine pointed me to another doctor.

Had the neck ultrasound. That was weird. I'm used to seeing a baby during an ultrasound, not gray neck matter.

 

I called Doctor #2, and got an appointment for two days later (thanks to a cancellation). Got in, and she ordered tests.

Results: I was borderline low thyroid and incrediblely deficient in Iron and Vitamin D.

I was put on a prescription for Vitamin D3 and was ordered to take a ton of Iron. At this point I had been eating wheat free, and sugar free for 2 - 3 months, and sticking to Trim Healthy Mama.

She referred me to an endocrinologist (Doctor #3) to look at my enlarged thyroid because in the ultrasound there was a nodule found.

A nodule could mean three things:

  1. It’s fine.
  2. Your thyroid’s dead.
  3. It’s cancer.

We monitored my vitamin D and iron levels. Over the next few months they rose towards a healthy level. Doctor #3 ordered an uptake scan and blood tests. I got to swallow a radioactive pill!!

 

enlarged thyroid

 

Results: My uptake indicated that it was a "normal" nodule. No one wants to explain what that means. Basically, it’s not cancer and we just monitor it.

In the words of my endocrinologist, "It's not cancerous...[super long pause]...probably."

She forgot to tell me about the blood test results: I had to remind her a few times to get the results .

I officially have Hashimotos, an autoimmune disorder.

My endocrinologist said, "oh it goes away, you don’t need to do anything to your diet or take meds."

FALSE!

That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard a doctor say.

I told Doctor #2 that and she said she’d be finding me a different endo and would not be referring any more patients there.

Doctor #2 put me on an autoimmune diet and on thyroid medication.

I’m telling you. The autoimmune diet sucks. Straight up sucks. Like, I’m crying it sucks that bad.

I’ve read books on the Autoimmune Protocol Diet for Hashimotos and Autoimmune Disorders. They eat poop foods and take out all the good ones.

I made a list of all the foods I can eat, that I like to eat. Here they are:

  • chicken
  • turkey
  • turkey bacon
  • onion
  • berries
  • apples
  • cantaloupe
  • lettuce
  • celery
  • herbs and spices (but not the good ones like cumin, chili powder, pepper)

That’s it.

Here’s the list of foods I am not supposed to eat:

  • beef
  • pork
  • eggs
  • ALL dairy
  • nightshades (peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, etc)
  • carrots
  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • cabbage
  • lentils
  • wheat/grains/rice/oats
  • sugars (even stevia, xylitol, truvia, swerve)
  • chocolate
  • citrus fruits
  • bananas
  • watermelon
  • pineapple
  • corn anything
  • soy
  • nuts
  • seeds

Seriously people! Seriously.

Who wants to live like that?

They say, "oh you’re not deprived. You can drink bone broth and eat liver."

That’s disgusting; don’t come near me with your liver-bone breath. I’ll throat punch you.

The funniest bit in The Paleo Approach about the Autoimmune Protocol (you can eat beef and pork with this one, but nothing else good) said, hey, if you don't like fish you can eat offal. You know what offal is? Brains and guts of animals.

Then she said, if you want protein powder, go to the pet store. Buy some crickets. Dry them out, grind them up, and use that as your protein powder.

I kid you not. I even took pictures of the pages to prove it. Sick and wrong I tell ya. Sick and wrong.

offal and crickets

What am I eating (or not eating)?

I’m cutting out all grains (which is in EVERYTHING), sugars (except for the sweeteners xylitol and swerve). I’m slowly cutting out dairy.

That’s it. That’s most of my diet anyway. You are not taking my tomatoes and peppers from me. You are not taking the only breakfast I have: eggs. You are not taking beef from me. I don’t give a rat’s behind, you’re not going to get me to not eat that stuff. They’re my favorite foods.

I’ll eat hard cheeses and butter every once in a while. Seriously, I am not going to be miserable eating chicken breasts, lettuce, and apples for my only food for the rest of my life every meal.

I have honestly tried the other foods that I say I don’t like. I do not like them. I cannot swallow them. Will I die sooner? Possibly.

Maybe in a few months I’ll be better able to cut some more things out, or at least, scale back on my frequency of eating them. For now, tomatoes are in nearly every meal.

And I’m okay with that.

After about a month of my thyroid meds I stopped losing weight and started to feel like garbage again. I also have Adrenal Exhaustion (worse than fatigue). I am now being treated for both.

I'll go into what tests you should run and the symptoms and all that goodness in another post. I didn't want your eyes to glaze over longer than was necessary.

In the end, I was lucky. It only took me 3 doctors to get it right. Many people have to go to 5 doctors or more to get one that will run the right tests and listen to them.

Why is this the case? I have no idea.

I wish you luck if you're on a similar journey. If you ever need to talk to someone -- I'm here.

 

Mwah

 

 

 

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success 

We all want to be successful in homeschooling. There’s more pressure on us Homeschool parents to be successful in our children’s education.

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success

The world puts pressure on us.

What are you teaching? Are you qualified? What about socialization? What about…? What about…? What about…?

We put pressure on ourselves.

What if I can’t teach something? What if they can’t get into college? What if they don’t make friends? What if I mess them up? What if…? What if…? What if…?

Our children put pressure on us.

Why is learning to read so hard? Why are they not good at spelling? Why can’t they remember their multiplication tables? Why…? Why…? Why…?

 

We look around and see all these other moms and think, gosh, they have it all together, why don’t I?

Or we look around and say, hey, that mama’s house is just as filthy as mine, and don’t lift a finger.

Both of these trains of thoughts are wrong.

Comparison is wrong. No one wins with comparing. No one. We also can’t use other people’s weaknesses as validation for our own.

It does us no good to say, hey, you know what, I’m an inconsistent homeschooler, and leave it at that. Ummmm… no. You acknowledge it, you make peace with it, and then you [wc_highlight color="yellow"]WORK[/wc_highlight] on it.

On to the tools.

 

There are a gazillion wonderful amazing posts on the tools you need to homeschool. Things you can’t live without, things that make life easier, things that organize you, prepare you, and get you where you want to go.

I love those posts. I’m addicted to those posts. I even have a few of them myself. (Planning, Scheduling)

Before you click away because you just realized that this is not about what’s the best stapler or printer to use (I have that post coming soon - minus the stapler), [wc_highlight color="yellow"]promise me you'll give this a good thorough skim[/wc_highlight]

1. Look at these tools and see which ones you have and give yourself a treat. Maybe a cookie. Have some for me because I can’t eat them anymore.

Better make it brownies, fresh from the oven, with a scoop of vanilla ice cream covered in chocolate sauce and caramel.

2. Go through this list and look closer at the ones you don’t have. Pick one that really just hits you right in the feels and focus on that one. Once you got that, come back and work on another one.

I’m the queen of trying to work on everything all at once. If only I’d just taken one baby step at a time, I probably would be the master of a clean house by now. Maybe even have my own TV show.

Believe me, I understand trying to tackle it all at once. Don't do it, but I won't judge if you do.

What are the tools, you ask?

[Tweet "What are the 10 Tools Every #Homeschool Needs For Success? I'm about to find out!"]

 

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success | RochelleBarlow.com

1. Conviction

Be fully committed to homeschooling. It’s okay to say, let’s try this out for a year, or six months. It’s not okay for during that trial period you on give it half effort. If you’re in, you’re in. Let’s do this.

2. Intention

I realize you have probably had this beat into you, but it’s for a reason. It’s the small and simple things that bring about great things.

I go over how to know your why in this post  and I relate to you an experience I had because I forgot my purpose.

3. Support

You have got to have a good support system. That doesn’t mean you can’t homeschool and have your whole family against you. That does mean you deserve lots of respect and hugs, and perhaps donations. $$$

Go find a great support group, in a homeschool group that you mesh well with, in a co-op that has similar intentions as you, and in several online communities.

I am in several Facebook groups that have made all the difference in my life. They may have one for your local area as well. Do a quick search.

Here are a two you may love:

Hip Homeschool Moms

Christian Homeschooling Moms

4. Trusted Resources

Find people that have been there and done that. Find people that not only have been there and done that, but do it in a way similar to you, or in a way that resonates with you.

Don’t close off everyone else, just be selective. If you look at what everyone is doing you’ll change so much that you’ll either run out of money or you’ll have zero consistency and have big education gaps.

Follow the blogs that really give you what you need and turn to them for help. I am a part of iHomeschool Network. The ladies in this network are freaking amazing. I feel so supported, so energized, and am given such fabulous ideas daily.

5. Plan

You have got to have a plan. In the words of every self-help, planning, time management guru “Fail to have a plan and you plan to fail.”

Who has a wooden spoon I can gag on?

Goshdarnit, it’s true though. Why do you think there are so many gazillion planning and scheduling and organizing posts? Because these steps are the ones that can make all the difference.

Make a plan that works for you and stick to it.

6. Flexibility

Gotcha! 

Yes, make a plan and stick to it, but no, not until the death. You’ll burn yourself out, you’ll burn your homeschool curriculums, and you’ll burn your house down.

Be flexible, let your expectations go, and just chill.

7. Be Realistic

This goes along with flexibility. Perhaps that’s why they’re next to each other. So clever.

What screws us up the most in homeschool

Don’t set these impossible expectations for yourself.

No, you probably won’t bake bread and have fresh milk (from your cow/goat) and warm cookies every day for a after homeschool snack. You probably won’t have children creating science experiments that have MIT knocking on your door, and art galleries from all over the world taking down their Picasso paintings to display your daughter’s paintings, and no, your children may not all go on to earn PhD’s at the age of 18.

You may not have this classic school room with maps, portraits, globes, chalkboards, desks, lab equipment, easels, an extra kitchen, a timeline that covers your huge wall that is both educational and classy in appearance. You may not have it all.

But you do.

10 Tools Every Homeschool Needs For Success

 

Know your limitations, your weaknesses, and your strengths. Realize what you're capable of. Being recently diagnosed with Hashimotos and adrenal fatigue I've had to learn this. And don't think I wasn't breaking glass and throwing it in a fit of tantrum along the way (I need tool #8)!

No matter how much you want to teach that Adult Skills Class (Rochelle...), if it's beyond your physical and emotional limitations, just let it go and be okay with that.

This isn't the time to heap on excuses.

The other side to reality is to realize when you aren't pushing yourself hard enough, you aren't doing as much as you can. Evaluate your reality and set reasonable expectations that will help you grow.

8. Attitude

A bad attitude is like rotten fruit. It stinks. I just made that up, can you tell?

Or... it’s like raw chicken that’s been left on your counter, put away, but no one cleaned the counter properly and then made PB&J sandwiches right on top of that spot.

Dangerous, deadly, and disgusting.

Kick that rotten or the [wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-o-up" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa] "3 D’s of attitude" out of here. Drop a hammer on it. Thor’s hammer.

You have got to be realistic, but you don’t have to be a martyr, nor do you have to be negative. “If only I had lab equipment my Fabio too could be a mad scientist.”

Wrong.

If only I had a better attitude, then I could feel happier and accomplish my goals easier.

Yes.

Now get to work on that.

Here are two tips:

  1.  Smile.
  2. Show gratitude.
  3. Serve.
  4. Learn to count.

9. Determination

  • Get it done.
  • Do your best.
  • Have a good attitude.
  • Be understanding and forgiving, but [wc_highlight color="yellow"]do not to take any lip[/wc_highlight] from yourself, nay-sayers, or your children that are whining and rolling on the floor because you asked them to ________ and they wanted to _________ instead.
Determination will get you everywhere.

10. Stick-to-it-iveness

With your powers combined…! I am Stick-to-it-iveness!!

This is not the same as determination. I know; I checked.

Consistency in homeschooling can be the hardest bit.

You have to hold yourself accountable.

You have to have loads of self discipline.

You can’t just stop doing math because you’re tired of drilling addition already. Or end your day early because you deserve it.

  • Help yourself be consistent.
  • Make a plan that works for you.
  • Set realistic goals.
  • Have reasonable expectations for yourself, have a good attitude, get phenomenal support, use fantastic resources, and take it a little at a time.
  • Set it up in chunks and give yourself small rewards for getting it done. A 5 minute breather, a chapter in the book you’re trying to read, or a nice walk around the neighborhood. Something that will relax you, rejuvenate you, and not take you off your plan/schedule.

[Tweet "10 Tools Every #Homeschool Needs For Success. I laughed, I cried, I ate brownies."]

Holy smokin' guns...

Is your brain cramping yet? Nah, mine isn't either...

There really isn't one tool better than the other. They all work together, like Captain Planet.

Pick the one that you know in your heart you can work on and buckle down. If you need some tips, some help, some support, I'm right here. I may not have it all together... in fact, I don't. But, I do make some pretty great funny faces, and I know some people who know some people.

If you liked these tools, or perhaps even one of them, would you share this post? You'd make a grown woman (who is still breaking out like a teenager) cry tears of joy.

Mwah

 

 

 

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional Schedule

  In the first edition of HOMESCHOOL WARS we have an epic battle.

hs war year round vs trad

 

Epic may be a little strong, but it's a battle, nonetheless.

Which is better? Which is right for you? Let's see the two fight to the death and see which one survives. Mwahahahahaha

 

That is so therapeutic.

Here are the Homeschool War Guidelines:

  1. They'll each have three rounds to prove themselves. That's it. If they're knocked out early, they're knocked out early and they dead. Dead dead dead.
  2. I'll leave the declaration of the winner up to you! You each get a chance to vote for the winner at the bottom of the post. The winner will be announced at a later date (TBD).

Let's not sit around anymore, let's do some stretches, wipe the sweat from our brow, guzzle some water, and get the bandaids ready.

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional

Round One: Benefits

Year Round Homeschooling:

  • Avoid forgetting school material over the summer
  • Move ahead faster
  • More practice for struggling learners
  • More breaks (flexibility) for life
  • Avoid burn out by having longer set breaks throughout the year + more prep time
  • Not worrying about falling behind or catching up

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling

  • Coincide with public school siblings and friends
  • Easy to schedule
  • Long summer break
  • Long time in the summer to prepare for the coming school year
  • Distinct grade/level changes

 

Whew... things are getting serious 'round here. Are you getting scared? Pumped? Who are you rooting for?

Now now... you've got to be unbiased!

 

[Tweet "Watch this epic #homeschoolwars battle unfold! Year Round v Traditional Scheduling. Who will win? "]

 

Round Two: Drawbacks

Year Round Homeschooling:

  • Tricky to schedule
  • Doesn't go along with public school friends and family
  • Smaller summer break
  • Harder to figure out grade/level changes

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

  • Less flexibility
  • Easy to fall behind, harder to catch up
  • Summer Slump = forgetting over the summer = more review time
  • Can get burnt out easily

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs Traditional

 

This is it... don't get scared now.  - Kevin M.

Round Three: Final Argument

Year Round Homeschooling:

I give you FLEXIBILITY!!!!

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

I give you EASE!!!!

Bonus Round: How To

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs. Traditional

Year Round Homeschooling:

Let's set up the schedule. You've got a multitude of options.

On = Doing school

Off = Break

Option #1:

Have 6 terms with each term consisting of 6 weeks on /1 week off (aka Sabbath Schooling, that's what the cool kids call it). You have a remainder of 10 weeks left to take breaks, no more than 2 - 3 week at a time.

Option #2

12 Terms with 3 weeks on/1 week off with 5 extra weeks to scatter around the year.

Options #3 - #5

  • Do 45 days on/15 days off
  • 45 days on/10 days off (more available for summer)
  • 60 days on/20 days off

I could go on and on and on... but then you'd want to do battle with ME. I don't like getting punched.

This is the tricky part: you have to pick which schedule will work with you and your family.

Now what?

#1  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Bust out your good ole friend, the calendar.[/wc_highlight] Grab some highlighters, a pencil with a good eraser on it, and some blank paper.

I like to have a blank calendar in front of me with the whole year in mini version with just the numbers, no boxes. I need as little clutter as possible to be able to think it through.

#2  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Grab your[/wc_highlight] family, work, and any other  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]calendars[/wc_highlight] you need and use.

#3 On that mini calendar [wc_highlight color="yellow"]mark with highlighter the dates[/wc_highlight] that are already designated holidays and vacations that you will take off from school.

#4 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]I mark the time period[/wc_highlight] that I usually get [wc_highlight color="yellow"]burnt out[/wc_highlight] from homeschooling. I just put a little dot in pencil by those dates.

No, you can't mark the whole thing with a burnout dot.

#5  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Pick your routine.[/wc_highlight] 6 weeks on 1 week off? 3 or 4 weeks on 1 week off?

You’ll be able to place those extra weeks in as you go, but first, let’s get a loose skeleton going.

#6 Then I kind of  [wc_highlight color="yellow"]pick a start date[/wc_highlight] that I might like and work towards the first holiday.

Are you starting now? Next week? Mid-August, first week in September? First of January? It doesn’t matter when you start, just so long as you start and that works for you.

If you started out your year with the traditional school year calendar it doesn’t mean that you can’t switch to year-round homeschooling until the next school year. You can start right away.

I want two weeks off for Christmas, so I try to make my schedule meet up so I can have that break then. It may help to work backwards.

Use pencil!!

#7 Play around with the dates. [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Sprinkle in your break weeks[/wc_highlight]  here and there.

Make sure to schedule your vacation weeks. For instance, a week off for Thanksgiving, or two for Christmas. A vacation planned for the summer, or the holidays, sports camps, or summer camps.Plan around these times.

You may want to save up some of your extra weeks for the summer and have a month off if you need to.

You’ll have 10 extra weeks to work with (if you did 6w/1w). I recommend that you don’t schedule all of those 10 weeks right away. Maybe leave yourself an extra week or two to plug in here and there where you need them.

You can move things around. What if your whole family gets wiped out with the flu in the middle of your 6 weeks? Well, no worries, that was your week off and now you can pick up where you left off and use that sick week as your off week.

Admittedly, that’s not really a fun way to spend your break. That’s why I suggested to leave an extra week or two for those what-ifs.

You may get sick for a few days. You may need an extra break. You may have a vacation or work trip come up unexpectedly. You may want to join the circus. It’s really just whatever you want to do with it. But you’ve always got that cushion.

If you don’t use it during the school year, you’ve got a few extra weeks of vacation before you start up again. Or heck, just roll right through them and save them up for next year. It’s like rollover minutes before those became obsolete.

Finished!

Homeschool Wars: Year Round vs Traditional

Traditional Schedule Homeschooling:

It's time to figure out your schedule.

#1 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Go to your local school district's website.[/wc_highlight] Go clickety-click on their calendar for the upcoming school year. Print it out if you can, or make notes on the important dates.

What are the important dates?

First day of school, last day of school, holidays and breaks, teacher work days, etc.

#2 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Grab that mini calendar[/wc_highlight] I was telling you about, your highlighters, your pencil and eraser. Maybe some scratch paper.

#3 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Mark the dates[/wc_highlight] the school year begins and ends. Mark the holidays and vacations you will be taking off.

#4 [wc_highlight color="yellow"]Decide[/wc_highlight] now if you'll take the [wc_highlight color="yellow"]school vacations[/wc_highlight] with them: teacher inservice days, random holidays, or half days.

In Oregon they are super weird and every Wednesday is a half day. And every other Monday is off. I think it was due to budget cuts and the still fudging the required number of days. That's another post for another time.

Mark the dates you'll be taking off with them. Leave the ones you will keep schooling unmarked.

#5 Next, you need to [wc_highlight color="yellow"]fill in any dates[/wc_highlight] you know ahead of time that [wc_highlight color="yellow"]you will be not doing school work[/wc_highlight]. Pre-planned vacations, conferences, work commitments, etc.

#6 Figure out [wc_highlight color="yellow"]how you will make up for them.[/wc_highlight] Are you going to add an extra day for each missed? Will you double up on school work on the days before and/or after the missed days? Will you skip some planned breaks, add on extra time at the end of the school year, or will you just ignore those missed days and forge ahead?

Don't forget to decide what you'll do for your sick days as well.

#7 Get it all [wc_highlight color="yellow"]in your calendar[/wc_highlight], pencil it in, just in case, and that's it.

You're all set and ready to go into your next phase of planning: adding in curriculum plans.

To sum it all up

No matter which one you choose, the most important thing to remember is that the schedule should work FOR you. YOU are not working for the schedule.

If you want to try Year Round Homeschooling but find that it's just lame-sauce, then scrap it and switch back to Traditional Scheduling. If you try Traditional Scheduling, but want to give Year Round Homeschooling a whirl, then start. You can make that switch at any time.

I do not recommend switching methods every other week, or month. Sorry, Charlie. I'll give you a pass for two times a school year.

What screws us up the most in homeschool

Two last things

#1 Are there any benefits or drawbacks that I missed? Share them in the comments!

#2 Vote. It takes two seconds to pick the winner. After a certain period of time... I don't have all the answers, people, I will announce the winner! So you've got to vote.

Don't worry, no one is going to hold you to your answer. You can change your mind later.

P.S. What do you want to see battle it out in the next HOMESCHOOL WARS??

Vote by clicking one of these fun tweets!

[Tweet "The #homeschoolwar is over. Year Round Homeschooling is the winner, no contest! "]

[Tweet "The #homeschoolwar is over. Traditional Scheduling is the clear winner! Take that!"]

 

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

The Zen of Tea Time

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

Before I go into zen mode talking about tea time, let me give you some background.

Recently, I was having a discussion with myself. That’s what I do. I discuss things to myself, by myself. I’m awesome like that.

I thought, "I really just feel like there’s something missing in my homeschool."

I wanted something more, but I wasn’t really quite sure what that “more” could be. What else could I possibly add to my list of ought's and should's and must's without winding up in a padded cell with a muzzle?

Well, in order to keep myself from paddling up guilt river (so unproductive), I tried to be logical about it. What was I wanting my kids to learn in our homeschool?

I made a list.

It was all that book-learnin’ stuff. I analyzed it. It wasn’t quite what I was looking for. So I made another list.

I want them to see the beautiful things around them and appreciate them.

To slow down and breathe.

To connect to the arts.

To connect to each other.

To appreciate one another.

As I was searching for other things, while keeping this list in mind, I found the perfect solution.

Bonus: it’s not overwhelming.

Too often we want to add these things of importance, but find ourselves adding a million things to the "important list," that we truly lose sight of the real important things.

I catch myself adding things to the list that I think I ought to make important. Or that I think others think are important.

Who am I trying to please here? The wrong people. That’s who.

Even with my own list of have-to’s I can get overwhelmed. I just want to breathe and enjoy my days with my crazy-awesome kids. We don’t get any do-overs. (boo)

How in the world am I going to do this? What the heck was my solution?

Tea Time.

Now now. I’m being serious. Maybe you think I’ve lost my mind. Or read too many Regency Romances (not possible). Maybe you’re like, dude, this is old news. N’er you fret, my dears.

Let me explain.

My kids beg for tea time. Yes, even my oldest boy who thinks doing anything girlie is a sin. I didn’t tell him that. Oi, that’s a post for another day.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

They beg for tea time.

It has brought peace to our afternoons. Tea time has given my kids an appreciation for the arts and for our time together.

I joke about the zen it brings, but it truly is a magical hour of the day. I'm not rushing around freaking about what needs to get done. The kids aren't arguing, making messes, shouting across the house.

It's an intentional quiet time. A time of reflection, peace, and calm. I did say magical right?

As in, swaying grass, a dripping weeping willow, fireflies zipping about, crickets singing, frogs croaking, warm sticky breeze, moon glowing magic.

[Tweet "Discover the magic of tea time. You may just be transported to another place. #homeschool http://ctt.ec/xbpH9+"]

Well, how can you bring this zen magic-ness to your life?

Speed version: we listen to classical music, look at a piece of art, read poetry, have tea and a treat, and read aloud.

Let me walk you through what our typical tea time looks like.

Ours is typically at 3 PM.

  1. I pull up Spotify, and play some Beethoven while we set up.
  2. Boil some water in our tea kettle. (2 min.)
  3. Put out a table cloth, set out the tea cups, put out a centerpiece. (1 min.)
  4. I have a tray with herbal teas and apple cider packets. (30 sec.)
  5. I put some snacks on a tray. (2 min.)
  6. We sit down, listen to the music and pour some tea. Or apple cider. (3 - 5 min.)
  7. We serve the snacks. (1 min.)
  8. I turn off the music and pull out the book of poetry we’re reading. I skip around and read some poems. I have my readers pick a poem to read, too. (10 min.)
  9. After they’ve finished round 1 of the tea and treats, we pull out the art piece. We do what’s called a picture talk, or picture narration. They each study the picture until they can describe what it looks like without seeing it. Starting from youngest to oldest (me included) we build on the narration. We don’t interrupt each other. We don’t critique the art. (10 - 15 min.)
  10. Then we serve round 2 of tea and treats. (2 min.)
  11. I pull out the book we’re reading aloud together and I read until I don’t feel like it anymore. Maybe it’s half a chapter, maybe a chapter, maybe more. (20+ min.)

No matter what, tea time is no more than an hour.

How often do we do this?

I was super ambitious when I first heard about it and said, we’re going to do this every day. Life just laughed in my face. Nice try, Rochelle.

So, now we do it once a week. If I can, I’ll do it more, but once a week is the standard.

Here’s what you need:

  • tea cups/mugs/cups
  • books
  • music
  • art book or pictures of art

That’s it.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

If you want Level 2

  • tea cups
  • treat (homemade or purchased)
  • poetry
  • book
  • classical music of one artist
  • art book or pictures of art
  • table cloth
  • center piece

Level 3

  • all of the above, but homemade treats that you made together.

Don’t say, I can’t do this without this this and this. I can’t do this without a special treat. I can’t do this without fill in the blank.

I said those same things too, I know how it is.

Just pick a composer, pick an artist, pick a poetry book. You don’t even have to do the read aloud if you don’t want to. That’s just what I added.

You could work on manners while you serve tea and treats.

You could just talk about what you’re learning, what you’ve been doing lately, or anything your kids want to talk about. It’s such a relaxing and safe way to connect. You’re taking time in your day to slow down, stop what you’re doing, and enjoy one another’s company.

The Zen of Tea Time | RochelleBarlow.com

I say make it your own. To heck with what I do.

You just need something to nibble on, sip on, and some great kiddos around the table. You’ve got that, haven’t you? Nibble on a slice of bread if that’s all you have. The most important part is you and your family.

Just make it happen and show it the reverence it deserves. When the kids feel how special it is, they’ll engage in it and show it equal reverence.

Go forth and drink tea!

(too cheesy? oh well)

[Tweet "I'm bringing #teatime back! Join me if you need some zen in your life.  http://rochellebarlow.com/the-zen-of-tea-time"]

The Homeschool Omnibus is here! Grab the 90 Creative Resources to Refresh Your Homeschool

 

Need An Awesome New Family Game? Introducing: Escape

We are a family that plays games. What isn't better than busting out a board game, gathering around, snacking, talking, laughing, and plotting the demise of your opponents?

Not much.

Need An Awesome New Family Game? Escape is a game that even non-game lovers can love. Click to see it in action and what it's all about.

 

Mr. Barlow is on his way to having his own big time collection. He's got about 50 games right now, and apparently, according to him, this isn't a lot.

We're not talking Uno and Monopoly. We're talking REAL board games.

 

The Captain is following in his father's footsteps. He's got 5 or 6 serious board games in his collection.

I collect books... and hobbies.

 

The Captain received this game for his 9th birthday.

Escape, The Curse of the Temple

Need An Awesome New Family Game? Escape is a game that even non-game lovers can love. Click to see it in action and what it's all about.

 

Object of the Game

You are in an archeological dig (think Indiana Jones) and you have to escape, get out, of the temple before it collapses on you.

This is a cooperative game. If one person doesn’t escape in time, everyone loses.

The fun part? There’s a soundtrack that you play along with that keeps time for you and prompts you to certain actions. There’s an introduction track to let you know how to play, along with examples of the sounds that signal specific actions.

It is playable without the soundtrack. There is an inclosed timer for your use.

This game is 10 minutes long. It’s short, but there is never a moment where everyone isn’t doing something. It can get intense! I love that it’s so short because you can easily set up it, play, and put it away and you’ve only used up 15 minutes. It’s a great game to use for a break, or when you’re short on time for a long activity.

Most of the time, the game is so addicting you wind up playing several rounds of the game. It’s like a chip. You can’t just have one, right?

Who is this game for?

Our 7 year old daughter plays Escape without any trouble. We just taught our 6-year-old (the older 2 kids did, actually) and, surprisingly, he did pretty great on his first game. He did need to be told what to do and when, but after a few times through he'll do amazing on his own.

We brought this game over to a friends house and my eldest son was sitting around the table playing with 3 girls aged 10 - 14. They were laughing, sweating, and did not want to stop. They kept at it for over two hours and were begging for us to come back over with the game the next day.

He was in heaven.

 

We’ve played Escape with adults, ranging in ages of 19 - 53. Everyone loved it and wanted to keep playing.

I’m just saying. It’s a good game.

We’ve created a fun video for you so you can see how awesome the game really is. We won’t show the whole 10 minutes of play, but some good parts of the action!

Get excited!!

https://youtu.be/KZ1nrcaDtgQ

This is when you tell me how adorable my kiddos are. I'll wait. ;-)

If you have a local game shop, I'd head over there to grab it. We have a fantastic store 15 minutes away from us that we frequent.

Otherwise, I'd snag it here: Escape (aff)

 

As you may have gathered, we have a ton of board games. We'll be sharing our favorites and our new finds with you regularly.

 

Go and get Escape, you will not regret it, I promise. Come back and gush all over the comments telling me how much you love the game.

 

 

aff = affiliate link. I get a small reward if you purchase this game through this link. It does not change the price you pay at all. Just keeps me in pencils.

Our Curriculum Picks for 2015-2016 (Big Changes)

It's insane that it's that time of year again. Time to start putting in your orders for next year's curriculum picks. Yikes, I'm feeling behind.

I shouldn't though, because I've know for several months what we were going to do. There was even a big crisis over it.

Why does everyone push the new school year stuff so early? Pretty soon they'll be having back to school sales the day school lets out.

Let's cut the chit-chat and get right to it!

 curric post 2015-16

First, Let me tell you what we did last year.

We used KONOS Curriculum, Volume II. I sincerely loved it. I switched for three reasons.

  1. It was so much work. If I got behind I just felt I could never catch up.
  2. The costs added up, buying all that random stuff that I didn't have lying around the house.
  3.  I learned more than the kids did. I had to learn it all, then teach it to the kids.

Sure, I love to learn and want to do that, but I was becoming a crutch for them. I'm not saying they didn't learn anything though, they still spout off random facts and information all the time.

It also ignited their love for history and maps. I'd say that's a win!

They learned to love America (spent a lot of time on the American Revolution).

My oldest still doesn't get that we're friends now with the UK, he still thinks of them as the Red Coats. Ha ha ha.

After about Christmas we switched to Charlotte Mason, by way of Ambleside Online.

It took me a bit to figure out how to navigate it all and find all the resources we wanted. I really liked it, it did cut down on our full days and my work load, however, I still needed something else since I was having to read a ton aloud every day.

With my health issues I needed something that would give my children more independence. And wouldn't make it so if Mom was having a bad day, health wise, that we got waylaid more than could be managed.

Hence the last switch.

Robinson Curriculum is the BIG change. I'll post all about it another day.

1

The Captain, 9, entering 4th

Math -- Math-U-See He'll be doing Zeta (he's still mad at me because I was supposed to get it for him over the summer), and then moving on to Pre-Algebra. The kid is obsessed with math, so I am sure that he'll be in pre-algebra by November.

Writing -- The Writing Course

Reading -- Robinson Curriculum

History & Science -- Our co-op, supplemental materials, and self-interest studies

Music -- Piano: 67 Fun Songs Primer by Jon Schmidt. I'd like to have him start another instrument, preferably a string, but we'll see how it goes.

Foreign Language -- American Sign Language using ASL Done Right Vol. 1  & French

Gymnastics -- We're switching to a gym with a  competitive boys team.

Basketball -- He really wants to join up, but we've never put him in sports and it seems most parents put their kids in sports before they can even walk, so I'm worried about him being super behind. Also, I'm trying to find a team that doesn't play games on Sunday.

Art -- Creating a Masterpiece DVDs & Mark Kistler's Draw Squad. Fun fact, I used to watch him on PBS when I was a wee lass.

Handwriting -- I tried to use Handwriting Without Tears cursive, last year, but I'm pretty sure that stink-butt threw the book away. He denies it, but it's GONE. This year, I'll be switching to this book: Teaching Cursive! This Method Works It was recommended to me by another homeschool mom in one of the many groups I'm in. I'll let you know how it goes.

Typing -- Looking into Keyboarding Without Tears. We used Dance Mat typing, but I'd like something more comprehensive.

2

Little Miss, 7.5, entering 2nd

Math -- Math-U-See. She's going to finish Gamma and we'll also be working on drilling her math facts like crazy. After that she'll move up to Delta.

Writing -- The Writing Course

Reading -- Robinson Curriculum

History & Science -- Co-op, supplemental books, and self-study

Music -- Piano 67 Fun Songs Primer by Jon Schmidt & other instrument during the second semester

Foreign Language -- American Sign Language using ASL Done Right Vol. 1  & French

Dance -- Ballet or Hip Hop

Basketball -- Gotta find a team that doesn't play on Sundays

Art -- Creating a Masterpiece DVDs & Mark Kistler's Draw Squad

Handwriting -- She has great handwriting and is dying to learn how to write "fancy," so I know she's gonna love cursive.  Teaching Cursive! This Method Works

Typing -- Looking at Keyboarding Without Tears

3

The Animal, 6, entering 1st

Math -- Math-U-See, finishing up Alpha & memorizing math facts.

Reading -- Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons (we need to finish up the book) and books from Robinson Curriculum

Music -- Piano 67 Fun Songs Primer by Jon Schmidt

Foreign Language -- American Sign Language using ASL Done Right Vol. 1 & French

Swim -- Swim lessons to transition to swim team for next summer

Handwriting -- Handwriting Without Tears. He did the first book pretty quickly last year, but definitely needs refinement. It is probably due to the fact that I wasn't so strict on what he turned in to me.

 

4

Sweet Cheeks, 3.75, "preschool"

I'm not a huge supporter for preschool. To me, it's unnecessary and all that. However, my friend said she wanted to put together a preschool group, and I thought it might be nice as a way to have her out and about having fun with some friends and give me some good time to focus on working with The Animal.

I'm not sure if the preschool group is a go anymore though, I haven't heard back about it.

I'm determined to come up with some activities in a bag for her to use to keep her out of trouble (read: my makeup, or the toilet) and focusing on something worthwhile.

I'm going to plan in a set time each day to spend some time with her just reading together and some play time. She has technically two years before she's eligible for Kindergarten so I've got plenty of time to work on reading ;)

 

6

The Babe, 1

Snuggle time! Hopefully, lots of naps and playing.

 

To wrap it up

I'll give a report on how things go with our new curriculum picks after a few months into the school year. For now, I've got to go through the school budget and start purchasing stuff. Agh!

 

Next week we're going to use Easy Peasy (it's free) to get us a bit back on track since we haven't done any school over the summer like we usually do.

 

Leave a link for me to check out what you're doing this year. It's my favorite way to explore new curriculum ideas and to get to know great new people and families.

10 Make Ahead School Lunches (Done the Lazy Way)

10 Make Ahead School Lunches (Done the Lazy Way) + free download | rochellebarlow.com When lunchtime swings around I push it off as much as I can because I just can't stop what I'm doing. Or it'll all crumble beneath me.

Can you relate, or is that just me and my ridiculousness?

Well, hungry kids usually make sure that I don't forget to feed the family.

 

 

Can I get an amen?

To help not put off lunch time, and make it super simple, I make-ahead as much as possible; it's really the only way. How can I not feed them lunch if it's already been made for me? Er, by me...

[This post contains affiliate links.}

If something is a project, I'll be sure to schedule it into my week or day and get 'er done. Don't ask me to explain my brain.

[wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-down" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa]Did I mention there's a FREE download just for you?[wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-down" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa]

There's a variety of ways to do it:

These won't make you work too hard. I'm all about efficiency and not putting more work than necessary into something.

Make an extra batch of lunch for a week.

Say, I'm making classic PB&J's on Monday. Instead of my usual 5 sandwiches, I'll make 10. Serve the 5 and freeze the other 5. That's one day of lunches already prepped for me.

Each day that week I can make-ahead an extra batch, for whatever it is. I can freeze it, or just pop it into the fridge for the next day.

Make a week's worth

Pick a day of the week that works for you. You don't need a whole bunch of time to do this, unless you're making crazy meals. Then, by all means, take more time.

Grab the ingredients for a week's worth.

I usually count a week as 5 days, for school days, and then leave the weekends open for whatever spontaneous meals we'd like to have. Go over to grandma's and eat her sandwiches. Use puppy dog eyes and words like pretty please with cherries on top.

Assemble one meal for each day.

I do one meal at a time to make it efficient. Assembly line the stinkers and it'll go so much faster. Seeing as you're a parent, you figured that out eons ago.

Make ahead for a whole month!

Now, before you click away, this is not as complicated, nor as crazy as a month's worth of dinners. I tried that a few times and I nearly died.

You can take a few days to do this. Do half of the lunches on Saturday, and the rest on Sunday. Or do it all in one go. It's up to you, obviously.

To make it simple I decide on 5 - 10 lunches. Then, I'll look at the calendar. 4 weeks in that month? Spectacular. Now, all I have to do is make 2 or 4 batches of each lunch. That's 2 or 4 days worth of PB&J's.

I assign days for the lunches as well. Monday is PB&J, Tuesday Pizza, Wednesday Hotdog, etc. That way when that day rolls around, I just pull it out.

Another option is just to have the lunches in the freezer, labeled clearly, and tell the kids at breakfast to pick what they want. When the mini pizzas are gone, they're gone and they have to wait for the next month's batch to be made. There's still a bunch of other lunches ready to be scarfed.

Well, okay, but what am I cooking here?

Nothing fancy, I promise.

  • PB&J
  • Ham & Cheese mini bagel sandwiches
  • Muffins
  • Burritos
  • Hotdogs
  • Kebabs
  • Southwest Roll-ups
  • Pizza pockets (homemade)
  • Ham & Cheese pockets/croissants
  • Turkey & Cheese wrap
  • Chili
  • Mini Pizzas
  • Corn Dogs
  • Homemade Lunchables
  • Quesadillas

I clearly lied right to your face when I said there were 10 lunches. I might have remembered some more and was too excited about it to remember to change the number. Whoops. My bad.

PB&J

I've seen people say that when you freeze them you need to cut them all crazy like a Crustable (is that what they're called?). Not so. Just slap the PB&J on the bread, wrap in foil, slip into a freezer bag and voilà. You speak french and you've got some sandwiches.

[Tweet "I can speak french + make ahead a month's worth of school lunches."]

Ham & Cheese Mini Bagels

Just as they sound, put some ham and cheese on a mini bagel, wrap in foil or saran wrap, stick a whole bunch in a big freezer bag. Now, if you want to have condiments on them, I'd wait until they're defrosted before slapping that on. Or if you want to add any lettuce or tomato, wait until the day of. You'll be sorry otherwise.

You can pre-cut or shred any topping you'd like and put them in baggies so the kids can just grab what they want and you can sit back and sip your herbal tea or change that alligator-of-a-baby's diaper.

Muffins

Who doesn't love muffins? Don't answer that.

Grab some of those huge Costco muffins and freeze 'em. Make a batch of homemade ones and freeze those. Do whichever kind you'd like and freeze them. For this lunch, you will probably want to add in two sides with it to make it a more well-rounded meal.

Burritos

Grab your favorite burrito recipe (I'll share ours soon), and assemble. Wrap them in foil, but let them cool before you plop them in a freezer bag and the freezer. Don't ask me why, that's just how it works.

Hotdogs

I don't freeze these. Sorry, there really isn't an easy way to pre-assemble these. Gosh, I just ruined everything didn't I? Well, you can't win 'em all, right?

You can do these for days when you're feeling extra motivated to whip up some lunch. You might have just lost respect for me when I said making hotdogs makes me feel like a champ.

Kebabs (or kabobs)

I don't mean the real-deal kebabs, though you're certainly welcome to fire up the grill and make some awesome kebabs. I've got my stick, I'm on my way over.

Grab a wooden skewer, carefully, and fill it with ham, cheese cubes (or sliced up string cheese), some veggies, and now I've really earned my "champ" award.

Pop 'em in a baggie, freeze. Wipe your hands and give yourself a high-five.

These are fun if you serve them with a strawberry & banana mini kabob.

Southwest Roll-ups

These are very much like burritos, except they're made of chicken.

Here's a recipe I have used for these roll-ups, I usually change it each time I make it, because that's the way I cook. Add a spice here, add a veggie there. I'm one of those annoying people that don't measure their spices: I just toss it in.

Pizza Pockets

Now, you could really cheat and bust out some Hot Pockets, but those can get expensive. They're pretty simple to make.

Get the recipe in the download.

When you want to eat them, just pull them out while you're making breakfast and then heat them up for a bit when it's lunchtime. About a minute or so in the microwave, or 10-20 in the oven.

Ham & Cheese Pockets/Croissants

These are nearly the same as the pizza pockets, but with fewer ingredients.

My family loves these. They couldn't be easier. Well, I suppose if someone else made them for you, they'd be easier.

You guessed it, the recipe is in the -- ? Download.

Turkey & Cheese Wrap

It's a turkey and cheese sandwich, in a tortilla. If you put it in a tortilla it's not a sandwich anymore, it's cool. Don't make the mistake I did one time and put lettuce in it before I froze it. Ew. Slimy lettuce is no bueno.

Roll them in saran wrap or foil before you put them in a freezer bag. You can add anything you want day of, or just eat it as is.

[Tweet "Put sandwich fixin's in a tortilla and it's no longer lame sauce #lunch"]

Chili

Okay... well, I lied. Again. This would be labeled under fancy.

Make some chili, some good, homemade chili. Put it in tupperware containers. You can put it in a container that will hold a meal's worth, and stick it in your crock pot, or just defrost it and warm in the microwave. Or, you can put it in individual-sized containers and just heat up one serving at a time.

My recipe is in the free download. It's pretty great, so check it out.

Mini Pizzas

These are super easy. Some people use english muffins, but we use those Sandwich Thins . Each sandwich thin makes 2 mini pizzas. Spread on your sauce, cheese, seasonings, and add-ons (if any). Broil for 1-3 minutes, depending on how hot your broiler is and how done you like them. We like our cheese a bit brown.

You can pre-assemble, freeze on a cookie sheet, then put in saran wrap and a freezer bag. Take them out and broil them day of.

Corn Dogs

We get these in the freezer section, so this has little to no prep for me. Just bake (or microwave if I'm in a hurry). Eat. Yum.

Homemade Lunchables

This is another easy mom-victory meal in our home. Ritz crackers, slices of cheese, slices of ham (or whatever lunch meat you love), and a plate.

To make ahead just slice up the cheese and ham, put one person's worth in a snack bag, put them all in a freezer bag. Put the crackers in a snack-sized bag, and set aside in the pantry for safe keeping.

Quesadillas

I ate these every time I went over to my cousin's house to play. Tortilla + cheese.

Recently, I made these for my kids and they said to me, "So-and-so's mom puts other stuff in her quesadillas. Like chicken and tomatoes." I held my tongue. Parenting win.

For dinners I always have extra yumminess in them, for lunches, sometimes they just don't get more than cheese. I put out sour cream and loads of salsa for dipping. If you have some pre-made chicken, or heck, even deli sliced chicken, torn into bits, put that in there. You can cut up some veggies to your liking, sprinkle them inside as well.

 

A quick note

We do re-use the ziplock bags, and the foil and saran wrap as much as possible to cut down on waste and cost. Let's be honest, cost is my main motivator, planet takes second place. I know, I know, respect has just dropped even lower.

Just pop the lunch out of the freezer at breakfast time, and unless your lunch is 30 minutes later, it'll be ready for you when your stomachs start growling.

Grab the FREE download with recipes, planning sheets and full instructions.

Click the picture for the download. Or here [wc_fa icon="arrow-circle-o-right" margin_left="" margin_right=""][/wc_fa]

[download id="2414"]

Make-Ahead Lunches Freebie

What goes with all this goodness?

  • Grapes
  • Orange slices
  • Baby carrots
  • Apple slices
  • Strawberry & Banana mini kabob (on toothpicks)
  • Apple Sauce
  • Mini Salad
  • Crackers (of any sort)
  • Frozen Gogurt
  • Yogurt
  • String Cheese
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn

We'll put the refrigerated sides in a container in the fridge, or the bottom drawer. I do have them pre-portioned out into snack bags. They just go in there and grab the side they want, or to make sure they get a specific side, I just grab it myself.

Pantry sides go in snack bags in a container set aside from the other snacks inside the pantry. It helps keep Mr. Barlow from munching on school-snacks without realizing it.

To help manage kids eating when they're not supposed to, or eating too many of the ready-made sides, I tell them, once they're gone, they're gone. If you eat all the sides in two weeks, you have to wait until the next month to get new ones. A few days of testing me and they realized it wasn't worth it.

What does Mom eat?

I have a unique situation in that I have major dietary restrictions thanks to Hashimoto's and adrenal fatigue. I don't eat what they eat.

Making ahead their lunches really helps me in the day-to-day. There are days when I'm feeling extra grumpy that I can't eat what they're eating, or extra tempted to just sneak a bite. When I just set the food out, and have to handle it as little as possible, it helps my mental state.

For some reason it's not tempting to grab some PB&J when I'm making 50 of them.

I have two options to make it simple on myself.

Fruit + spoonful of peanut butter. Or I'll make a protein shake. It's pretty good.

Snicker's Shake

Blend it up. This fits just perfectly in my single serve blender. I often have this for breakfast too.

When you cut out all sugar, gluten, wheat/grains, most dairy, and more you usually get really full on your heavy protein meals really easily and you don't need to eat as often. I could probably go a whole day without eating and not really get hungry.

Because of this, I don't really need a lunch, I just eat a bit of fruit and peanut butter just to keep my blood sugar level. When I do have lunch, it's a late lunch and this smoothie is perfect.

Make Ahead Lunches Freebie

 

Click the picture to grab your free download.

For the summer

This summer I have thought about doing bento-style lunches, but I'm not sure if I'm ready to set myself up for failure.

The kids are fascinated with lunch boxes though. We'll probably do more picnic lunches this summer and the coming school year as well. Even if they're in our own back or front yard. Then they can use their lunch boxes and feel awesome.

Maybe I can get my mom to send me my New Kids On The Block lunchbox and thermos, then I could have my own cool lunchbox, too!

 

What do y'all do for lunches? I'm all for adding new goodies to my files. Feel free to share your links and such.

 

Oh, check out my pin board for school lunches and snacks. Follow Rochelle Barlow's board School Lunches and Snacks on Pinterest.

 Check out more great lunch ideas by clicking this pic.

homeschoollunches

Homeschool: Figuring Out Our Why

figure out why title If someone asked me five months ago why I homeschool, I'd give them, what I'd consider, a valid, concrete answer.

Then, the crisis hit.

I mean THE crisis. Of 2015.

Well, that's assuming that there won't be some other type of crisis this year. I'm an optimist.

 

And so it begins...

A dear friend of mine told me about a Waldorf charter school in our area. I was immediately intrigued. I went right home and researched it.

You have to set an appointment for an orientation to find out more about the school before you can put them on the waiting list. I signed up for it and then started researching.

See, that's what I do. I research. It's kind of a hobby of mine.

 

Along the way, I thought, "if you're going to send them to the charter school why don't you just put them in public school while you wait?"

 

I mentioned this to my husband. It started a long, trying road, to figuring out just what I wanted to do with our kids.

 

I cried. I prayed. I struggled.

I wrestled, and I mean singlet, mat, sweat.

I was wracked with guilt. I just didn't know what to do. I wanted to do the right thing. Not just for the kids, but for me as well. I didn't know what that was.

 

I felt sick inside every time I thought about my children in public school. It felt wrong. Very wrong. And yet, something inside me was tempted by the prospect of free time.

I felt selfish. So so guilty and selfish.

 

I reached out to everyone I knew for help. I prayed and cried and researched some more.

VERY long story short, I came to my decision through multiple avenues.

Examining it all

I have struggled with my health for quite some time, and have recently been diagnosed with Hashimoto's (that's a whole other story). I work part-time as a transcriber for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. I also want to expand and grow this blog and business. We want to have another baby, but I have HG when I'm pregnant, so it's hard on all of us. These were all major factors in our decision.

 

Things were looking up with my health, though. My energy was higher than I can remember it ever being. I think I've been tired since I was in high school.

 

I reached out to: family, friends, Facebook groups, moms with kids in public school, moms with kids homeschooled, etc. They all said a variety of things, all helpful, yet not what I was looking for.

 

I spent a lot of time in prayer. If I wasn't actively talking to someone, I was probably praying.

I wrote a ton of pros and cons. A ton of pros and cons. I love and hate pros and cons lists.

 

At the charter school orientation the presenter was showing developmental information on children. He said, the most influential person at this child's age was their teacher. The teacher could tell the kid that 3 + 1 = 5 and they'd believe them, no matter what their parents said.

Does that freak out anyone else?

As an ASL interpreter and transcriber, I have daily experience with classrooms and the  information taught. Suffice to say, I'm not liking it.

 

The rest of the meeting he went over all the things they did, all these things seemed revolutionary to the rest of the parents in the meeting. They all had kids in public school. I was nodding along, thinking, duh, get on with it already.

I already knew this stuff, I was already doing this stuff. I believed it, we lived it.

 

I don't know why it took me so long to realize this. I just took what we did for granted. I didn't realize what a rich life we led.

 

I also spoke with a friend that had gone through a similar crisis the year before. We talked about her experiences on both sides, her regrets, things she wouldn't change, etc.

The decision

After more thinking, I came upon my answer, slowly, yet suddenly.

 

You know what to do

 

I knew the answer all along, l'd just forgotten. I had gotten in my own way. I was so caught up with this tempting idea of having some free time. Maybe some time to nap, to read, to potentially go out with other ladies, or to go to the store without 3 of the 5 kids.

Those things weren't important, in the scheme of things. I knew how to get my free time, my alone time, my time with friends all along. I wasn't going to go out with these ladies at lunch time anyway. I can nap and read if I want to, even while homeschooling.

 

I don't have a lot of time with these kids in my home. I don't have enough time. None of us really do. Even if we get the full 18 years. Is it ever enough? I say eternity isn't enough with our angels in our arms.

 

All that anguish, guilt, turmoil, stomachache, and heartache went away when I made my choice. Or, I should say, remembered my choice.  I was filled with peace, confidence, and a surity that this was right for me and the children.

So now, when you ask me why I choose to homeschool I have an answer that reaches to my very core, my heart and my mind.

figure out why

Want to know my reasons?

  • Lots of time with my kids
  • I can pick our curriculum
  • Tailor their learning
  • Use the method that resonates with us
  • Time for a more rigorous scripture study
  • Character improvement
  • Help our family be close and strong
  • Focus on the things I want them to learn
  • Time to develop interests, hobbies, and talent
  • Good environment
  • Able to thrive in their education

We also have access to a charter school that has educational and social opportunities. We are joining a great co-op this next fall that will be a great opportunity for them to be involved with kids and other people, in addition to giving me a few hours of time with the youngsters and other things I need to do during that time.

 

This experience strengthened my resolve to homeschool and has helped me to grow and to really have set in stone what I want for our children. On top of that, I think it was a great thing to have this debate with myself so that I could find a better solution for our temperaments and our life situations.

The relief I feel is amazing. Even looking back I can't understand why it took me so long to figure it all out. Sheesh.

 

If you ever need someone to bounce ideas off of, or help sorting your thoughts, I'm here for you! For reals.

 

Your turn:

Why do you homeschool? Have you ever doubted your decision?

 

WhyWeChose

60 Homeschooling Tips From 60 Years + Giveaway

Holy crap. I'm going to screw up my children forever. They're never going to learn to read, they'll never be able to do simple math, much less calculus.

They're going to never have friends, be bullied in college, if they even make it into college. They're going to never find a spouse unless they're equally out-casta-able.

They won't get into college. They won't be able to do any of those stupid standardized tests. I'll be that "mother" you know, the one that everyone says "oh she homeschools -- yeah right -- that's just her excuse to stay home and do nothing."

They won't ever understand a single thing they're learning. They won't understand all those quirky things you can't find in a curriculum, but necessary life skills.

I won't ever be able to cover enough. I'm dooming my children to failure. Not just academically, but in every freakin' stinkin' blinkin' area of their miserable little lives. All because I'm homeschooling them. What a selfish beast I am.

Have you ever felt this way?