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Monday, February 29, 2016

A Day in the Life of Our Homeschool

I'm linking up to Simple Homeschool today to share a day in the life of our homeschool.  For those who are new here, welcome!  My husband Jesse is a pastor, and he sometimes works from home, sometimes spends time at church, and sometimes is out doing other things.  If he is home, he usually works in the living room (or up in our bedroom if the kids are too noisy). We have four kids: Jonah is 6, Matthew is 4, Hannah is 2, and Elizabeth is 1.

5:30-6:30:  The kids wake up.  If we're lucky, it's closer to the later time.  Usually it's early.  Jesse gets up with all of them.  Sometimes I get up.  Sometimes I sleep.  Sometimes I end up cuddling with a kid or two in bed for a bit.

6:30: Make breakfast.  About half the time it's muffins or something I've made ahead of time, and the other half of the time it's eggs.  We eat at 7:00, or whenever I'm finished cooking.

7:30-8:30: Breakfast clean-up.  I work on tidying up the kitchen, and everyone gets dressed.  Usually the tv has some PBS Kids shows on while we work on this.  Sometimes the boys will do a chore for me - sweeping or taking out the garbage.

8:30-10:00: After I'm ready for the day, we start school.  We used to have this golden time of Elizabeth's morning nap, and then she shifted to one nap a day, after lunch.  So now I alternate between teaching the boys and chasing the girls.  We do our morning time (calendar, Bible story, memory work, and hymn verse), Math, and Reading.  Once we finish those, everyone picks a book or two for reading aloud.  (You can read more about our homeschool curriculum here)
10:00: Morning snack.  After snack, the kids are free to play with whatever they want, and I'll do a bit of work on the computer, or in the kitchen, depending on what I have going on that day.
11:00: Lunch time.  We eat early, because the girls are about ready to go to bed.

11:30-1:00: Rest time.  The girls still nap, and the boys go up to their room for at least an hour.  They take turns picking the time.  I spend this (mostly) quiet time reading, working on the computer, or watching a tv show that I'm behind on.
1:00ish: Whenever rest time is done, the boys come downstairs and we do a bit of afternoon school.  This is where History and Science alternate, and we have one free day for errands and extras.   Since the boys are 6 and 4, we don't spend a ton of time on these yet.  It's more of an introduction to the big concepts of studying History and doing science experiments.  These are not my strong area, but I'm enjoying learning along with the boys.
After we finish school, it's more free play time.  In the summer, the boys will spend a good chunk of the afternoon outside, but since it's frigid outside right now, they usually settle in for an episode of Ninjago on dvd, or build with Legos.  Occasionally I'll let them play kitchen (letter K here), which they think is AWESOME.
3:00: Snack time, and by now the girls have been awake for awhile.  I'll usually have at least one helper in the kitchen as I do any baking or dinner prep, or maybe we'll run errands if we need to.

5:00: Dinner, and then the boys help with dishes on alternating days.  I no longer have to wash any of the cups, bowls, plates, or silverware, and I'm excited for the day when I completely work myself out of this job!
6:00: Clean up the rest of the toys, put on pajamas, brush teeth, settle down.

6:30: Family prayer time, a few snuggles, and the kids go to bed.  Yes, it's early.  Yes, we've tried shifting their schedule so they stay up later and sleep in later.  It didn't work.  So this is where we are.  They're starting to sleep better at night (finally!), so I actually don't mind the early bedtime at all.

After the kids go to bed, I do yoga and shower.  Jesse and I read our devotion and hang out together, until about 9:30, when we head to bed too.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekly Goals: February 28-March 5

Elizabeth has learned how to climb.  We were bound to have a climber eventually.  This week I caught her licking the clean forks.  

Last Week's Goals:

  • Make some plans for a Whole 30 in March.  I'm almost done with the meal plan for the first half of the month!  We're doing some modifications for the kids, but overall the majority of what we all eat will be in keeping with the Whole 30 rules.  I'm sure I'll be updating you all more as we go along.
  • Run the first round of Lemon Poppyseed Muffin testing.  This didn't happen.  Mostly because I was out of lemons. 
  • Enjoy visiting with family!  We had a lovely day celebrating with my dad at his new church, and the kids always enjoy hanging out with Grandma and Grandpa and Uncle Phil.
This Week's Goals:

  • Finish the Whole 30 Menu Plan, grocery list, and shopping.  We're actually eating from what we have for the first few days, which was an adventure for planning as well!
  • Read Dressing Your Truth.  This should be an easy read, so I'm hoping I can finish it this week.
  • Work on some behind the scenes blog stuff.  I've been watching several free video courses and webinars on blogging and email lists and things like that, and I'm getting ready for some big changes to how (and where!) I blog.  

Look for a special bonus homeschool post tomorrow!  I'll give you a little peek into a day in our life right now...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Why We Want To Do A Whole 30 Challenge

As I mentioned in my Weekly Goals post, we are planning on doing a Whole 30 Challenge for the month of March.  (If you don't know what that is, head here).  But why?

Jesse and I are tired of being overweight and tired.  We do reasonably well with eating mostly real food for our meals.  Snacks are a completely different story, and we tend to splurge on extra food more often than we need to.  By doing a challenge like this with very strict rules, we're hoping to reset some of those habits.

I haven't had so much success with less strict options.  I've been tracking my calorie intake on the My Fitness Pal app for almost 2 years.  I also gained about 20 pounds last year (below is a part of that).  It's really easy to fudge the numbers, or to know that you're making bad choices and make them anyways, because it's "just a little bit" or "I deserve it".
This is my weight tracker from My Fitness Pal.  Ignore the big dip in the middle - our scale went wonky for a day as the batteries died.  But you can see the steady upward trend over the past 6 months.

I use food as a reward all the time.  That's a mindset I'm really fighting against.  When I have to do one of those adult things I hate, like make phone calls or clean the toilets, I tend to make myself feel better by rationalizing that I can have a treat when I'm done.  When I'm stressed, or sad, or bored, I turn to food at those times too.
So why now?  When I'm right in the middle of working on my gluten-free muffins cookbook, which contains many ingredients I can't have during the challenge.  When we have a child's birthday that we still haven't figured out how to work around, other than making cake for the kids and just not eating it.  When I'm not completely sure we can afford to buy the food we need, or the time to make it, or find recipes that the kids can eat too, or...

There are lots of reasons why this isn't a good month.  But really, any month is going to have challenges.  There are going to be things like birthdays, or projects, or picky eaters.  So we may as well jump in and do it.

We tried eating a modified paleo diet at one point.  We still included oats, rice, and beans, and probably a few other things I'm forgetting.  Jesse and I both really liked it, and we developed some good habits then.  I'm hopeful we can do that again.

If you're still reading my rambling, gold star for you!  I'll be sharing more of our meal plans, thoughts, and results as we go through this process.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Our 100 Day Homeschool Party

Yesterday was our 100th Day of School for this year!  We celebrated by taking a break from the usual and doing a bunch of 100th Day stuff.  My kids enjoy worksheets and coloring, so we did several of those (listed below).
Helpful Resources :
*I couldn't find the exact links I used for a few of them, but I found something similar.

We also read some 100 themed books:
  • One Hundred Shoes by Charles Ghigna
  • 100 School Days by Anne Rockwell
  • One Hundred Ways to Get to 100 by Jerry Pallotta
  • From One to One Hundred by Teri Sloat
  • The Cheerios Counting Book by Barbara McGrath
And finally, we had the 100 Day snack, with 10 of each item.  Hannah had raisins instead of crackers to make hers gluten-free.

All in all, a fun school party!

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Vehicle Math For Homeschool

This week for Letter of the Week, Matthew is learning about V.  Since we don't have a specific math curriculum for him, just concepts, we are reviewing some of the concepts he's already learned, but with vehicles.

He measured some vehicles using unifix cubes, he's going to classify vehicles based on where they run (land, air, or water), and he's doing some one to one corresponding and addition and subtraction games with toy cars.

Like today.  The prep for this was really easy:  I flattened out a cereal box and drew parking spaces.  1-6 were on each side, and 0 and 7 were in the middle.  He was able to play three games with this board, 12 vehicles, and a die.

  • Game 1: Roll the die and park a car on the matching number spot.  Keep playing until all the spots are filled.
  • Game 2: Roll the die and add 1 to the number.  Park a car in the answer's spot.  Keep playing until you've filled all of the spots you can (the 0 and 1 spots will remain empty, so you can park cars there at the start if that will be confusing).
  • Game 3: Roll the die and subtract 1 from the number.  Park a car in the answer's spot.  Keep playing until you've filled all of the spots you can (this time 6 and 7 will be empty).

I thought we were done, but Matthew wanted to keep playing.  And then he started doing patterns with the colors of the cars.  Cool!
This ended up being a really versatile and really easy-to-set-up day of math for us.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Weekly Goals: February 21-27

Seeing a nice (mostly) clear entryway is a breath of fresh air.  Probably should have taken care of that awhile ago...

Last Week's Goals:

  • Finish reading Garbage Land, and decide between reading Dressing Your Truth and How to Get Your First 10,000 Readers.  I finished Garbage Land yesterday, but I haven't started anything new yet.
  • Figure out my next muffin recipe to start testing.  I'm thinking Lemon Poppyseed will be good, especially since I just finished Lemon Blueberry, and it's the kids' favoritest favorite so far.
  • Clear the garage sale stuff out of the entryway and get it organized in the corner of the garage.  Done, although our garage is very wet right now as everything melts, so I had to strategically put all of the closed plastic bins on the floor, and stack some boxes on top.  Luckily, our city's big garage sale weekend is not too far off, so it won't be out there super long.
This Week's Goals:
  • Make some plans for a potential Whole30 in March.  Yep.  We have to figure out if we can afford it, if it's going to be just Jesse and me, or the kids too, and what we're going to eat.  You know, little things.  But we've both talked about doing one for awhile.  The only hiccup might be Matthew's birthday on the 28th, but hopefully we can work around that, or at least only feed cake to the kids...
  • Run the first round of Lemon Poppyseed muffin testing.  I'd like to get at least one more muffin recipe done before taking a break for the Whole30.  We'll see if that works.  My plan is to figure out the rest of my muffin flavor combinations and preliminary recipes during the Whole30, so that I can finish testing in April, and hopefully start working on the final production of the book!
  • Enjoy this afternoon with family!  My dad is starting his ministry as the pastor of a new church, so we're driving up as you read this to go to his installation service and hang out for a bit.  
Interesting Reads:

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Our Homemade Chores Charts

Last year, we came up with a list of chores we wanted Jonah and Matthew to do.  Some were daily, some were weekly, but we wanted to have them all in one place.  We recently re-did the charts, so I thought I'd share.
Jonah's Chores (age 6):
  • Brush teeth every morning (by himself)
  • Brush teeth every evening (Mom helps)
  • Set the table
  • Take out the recycling 
  • Sweep the dining room
  • Sweep the kitchen
  • Vacuum the living room rugs (we discovered the vacuum is a bit heavy yet, so his job is to get the vacuum out and plugged in for me and then put it away)
  • Do his laundry
  • Wash dishes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday
Matthew's Chores (age 4) are similar:
  • Brush teeth every morning (by himself)
  • Brush teeth every evening (Mom helps)
  • Clear the table
  • Take out the compost
  • Get the upstairs garbage
  • Sweep the dining room
  • Sweep the kitchen
  • Dust
  • Do his laundry
  • Wash dishes on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
Once we had our list for each kid, along with a dollar amount assigned to each one, I hopped onto the computer and found clip art to correspond.  A Google search got me pictures of the different coins, and I was able to find pictures that went along with each chore as well.
Some have multiple steps, like laundry.  So I included a picture for each step: wash, dry, fold, put away. (Read a bit more about how I got the boys to do their own laundry here)
Then I added boxes, and printed them out.  I laminated them, and the boys mark off their chores each day as part of their nightly routine.  If they do everything for the week, they've made $0.96, and they can cross off the box at the bottom to get 4 extra pennies.  This also encourages them to keep track so they can get A WHOLE DOLLAR. That's a big deal.

What do you use for keeping track of chores?

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Iron Craft Challenge #3: G Is For...

This week's challenge was the letter G.  I'll be honest, I got stuck on this one for awhile, because all I could think of was "gorilla" and "giraffe".  I hang out with little kids, but it's been awhile since G was the letter of the week.

I finally had a eureka moment: garland!
Don't mind the mess that surrounds our fireplace!

I have not joined the adult coloring trendiness, but I knew I had seen some cute hearts with doodly patterns somewhere recently.  Facebook?  Feedly?  Somewhere else?  I didn't end up finding the ones I had thought were cute, but I found something similar here.  So that's what I went with.
What would you make for the letter G?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Weekly Goals: February 14-20

Baby in a cape.  Because it's a baby in a cape.

Last Week's Goals:
  • Retest a few of the muffin recipes.  I made three this week: Cinnamon Banana Bread, which is ready for the book!, Lemon Blueberry, which I want to try a lemon glaze on, but is otherwise book ready; and PB Chocolate Banana, which still needs a bit of tweaking.  
  • Finish reading Garbage Land. Not done.  I spent my time watching the free Dressing Your Truth video series (sign up in the "learn your type" box on this page) and the free Nick Stephenson "How to Get Your First 10,000 Readers" video series, which I signed up for on the recommendation of Crystal Paine.  Both were really interesting!
  • Figure out an Iron Craft project for this week's challenge, the letter G.  Figured out something!  You'll see that post on Tuesday.
This Week's Goals:
  • Finish reading Garbage Land, and decide between reading Dressing Your Truth or How to Get Your First 10,000 Readers (free ebooks I got along with the video series I mentioned).  
  • Figure out my next muffin recipe to start testing.  I usually have at least 2-3 recipes going at once.  I have three levels of how I do this:

    First try: Figure out a flavor that sounds good, come up with the recipe and try it out.
    Tweaking: Work on the recipe and test it multiple times to make sure I have it just right, adjusting flavors and ingredients as necessary.
    Final recipe: Once I like it, make it one more time, take pretty pictures, type up the recipe.
  • Clear the garage sale stuff out of our entryway and get it all organized in the corner of the garage.  Hopefully we'll have a warm(er) day that I can do this.
Stuff I Like:

Schoola!  If you haven't started shopping at Schoola yet, you're missing out.  They have good quality and inexpensive kids' and womens' clothing, both used and new, and they're really awesome about giving buyer credits or offering promos and deals to their users.  I've gotten a bunch of good kids' clothes there, as well as a few dresses for myself.
If that hasn't convinced you to sign up yet, here's one more good deal.  Sign up through this link and you get a $20 credit for free!   And through tonight! February 14, use the code LATTELOVE on a $20 or more purchase, and get a free $5 Starbucks gift card emailed to you by February 19.  So you get free clothes and free coffee!  Go sign up now.

More Randomness:
Fellow Downton Abbey fans: Can we just take a minute to appreciate the character development that is Thomas Barrow?  Season one he was this despicable awful person, and now in season six I feel so bad for how he's being treated.  Superb writing there!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.  If you click through these links, I receive a bit of a commission at no additional charge to you.  Thanks for helping my kids get clothes!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Quick Tip: Track Your Water Drinking With Ponytail Holders

I first saw this tip in a magazine (I think Weight Watchers? but I'm not sure).  Whenever you drink a cup or bottle or water, put a rubber band or ponytail holder around it.  Then you can easily see how many cups you've finished throughout the day.
I go back and forth between doing this and tracking the cups in the Fitbit app.  Neither is completely a habit for me yet, and I can't decide which one is easier.  But I figured I'd post this tip anyways, because it might work really well for you!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Things My One-Year-Old Is Obsessed With

Little people are funny.  And so, for a dose of humor today, I present Things My One-Year-Old Is Obsessed With.
This box of Rice Krispies.
Any family member's dirty socks.
The bath soap and cup we use for rinsing.
This box of envelopes, which must always be dumped out.
Her green bunny, "Bun-Bun".
Any canned food, which should not be on the shelf.  Also, bringing cloth diapers all over the house.  You know, in case we need one.

Also cool:

  • Her brother's shoes, but only one at a time
  • The tv remote
  • Any Lego she can manage to find on the floor or pull off the table
  • The kitchen garbage
What about the little people in your house?  What things do they think are the coolest?

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekly Goals: February 7-13

We got a big snowstorm on Tuesday, and the boys are (for now) always willing to go help shovel.

Last Week's Goals:

  • Test at least one recipe for the new book.  I made Peanut Butter Chocolate Banana for the first time (pictured below), and they were really good, but not quite peanut butter-y enough.  
  • Do the February church newsletter. Done!
  • Meal plan for the beginning of February, including our annual Superbowl appetizer dinner. Done!  This year we're having a taco bar, pinwheels, jalapeno poppers, and chocolate cupcakes.

This Week's Goals:

  • Re-test a few of the muffin recipes I've come up with, including the lemon blueberry and the cinnamon banana bread.
  • Finish reading Garbage Land.
  • Figure out an Iron Craft project for this week's challenge, the letter G.  

Interesting Reads:

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Quick Tip: Put Stickers On Your Washer and Dryer

This is my washer.  Next to each dial is a little sticker by one of the settings.  This means that my six-year-old and four-year-old can do their own laundry.  Mostly.  We're still working on measuring the soap.

But they know how to load the machine, and after checking to make sure each dial is turned to the right sticker, to push the start button.  Same with the dryer.  A four-year-old might not remember to wash his clothes in cold water on the cotton cycle, but he can match the knob with the sticker.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Life Lessons From The Kids

"I can't do this, Mom! It's too full.  There's not enough room for everything."  I looked at the magnetic board overflowing with characters.  When Jonah was trying to put every single piece on the board, he was right.  There wasn't enough space.

And it got me thinking.

This is how my life is too.  When I try to do every single thing, there's not enough space.

I explained to Jonah that it might be more fun if he just picked a few of his favorite pieces, and put those on the picture.  They would have enough room to shine in the picture, and he would have more fun.

The same is true for my life.  If I pick just a few of my favorite things, and leave space, those things shine, and I have more fun.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Iron Craft Challenge #2: Hearts and Flowers

I've been eyeing all the tissue paper flowers on Pinterest for some time, so I decided this was the challenge to make some for myself.  I went with Valentine's Day colors for a bit of cheer for our dining room table.

I used the tutorial for carnations here.  I colored the edges with a maroon Stampin' Up ink pen and a pink highlighter.  Both worked fine, so there really is no need for anything fancy.  And I raided the kids' craft supplies for a few coordinating pipe cleaners.
A cheerful Valentine's Day decoration: done!