Today's Wisdom

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Weekly Wrap-Up | Week 1 | Back To School

I was really slack last year about updating our homeschool weeks so I am going to try really hard to do better this year!  Anyone out there want to keep me accountable?  Pretty please?!  

The first official week back to school is done. We had a great week. Easing back in always seems to get us back on the right foot. We had a few new items to introduce and more and more independence as my children continue to get older. I found myself just kind of being there for moral support this week!

We kept with our simple traditions of coffee, candy, crayola, and pj's for the first day back.


Of course I had to have my brain by my side! Lesson plans done and ready.

We are beginning each day studying 2 vocabulary words and answering a few Bible trivia questions.  I think this might be there favorite part of the day so far.

Although, Sarah might disagree and choose science this year as her favorite.  I remember these experiments so well since this is my 3rd time going through.  In 8th grade we begin with Apologia's General Science which is their first really independent science curriculum.  So the first week or so I always sit along side as my children prepare to study their lessons independently.  She LOVES the notebook that accompanies the textbook.  I had a feeling she would!

 A sneak peak at a few independent lessons - Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra for Sarah.  She was nervous to begin so I was glad to see the smile!

And Stephen's new English II paces - not his favorite as you can tell but I really think it will help improve his writing skills if he can stay awake.  :)  Notgrass, however continues to be his favorite.  He could eat, sleep, and breathe history!

He also had another big promotion this week - Cadet Chief Master Sergeant!  So proud of his accomplishments and drive in Civil Air Patrol and so thankful for the program and leaders. 

The overall arching theme this week in my Bible studies was the deep, unmerited love God has for me! 

I met my goal of walking/doing a walking video this week so let's hope the momentum carries on for week 2.  Meet you back here, okay?

Linking up with Weekly Wrap-Up

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Review of Enlivenze LLC | FlipStir Puzzles | Statue of Liberty

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

Oh, we have a fabulous and fun review product to share with you today! We recently had the opportunity to play with one of the award winning FlipStir Puzzles of the Statue of Liberty made by Enlivenze LLC. I have never seen these types of puzzles before so we were excited to try these out! This one is definitely fun for the whole family to get involved in.
FlipStir Puzzles Reviews

What is a FlipStir Puzzle?

Well, they are currently available in 2 levels. The puzzles available in Level 1 are Rainbow Pencils and Tyrannosaurus Rex. Level 2 puzzles include Solar System, Statue of Liberty, and Periodic Table of Elements (Limited Edition). All FlipStir Puzzles can be purchased online for $24.95. They are recommended for ages 7 and up.

Their genius design allows for a no mess puzzle. The pieces come contained in their own durable plastic container and that is where they stay. Inside you have a metal rod with a little claw on the end to help you grab, flip, and turn pieces around to fit in the right place. You simply shake, stir, and solve the puzzle. Your very own no mess, no batteries, completely portable, hours of fun puzzle. The pieces themselves and the container seem pretty durable so far and we have had plenty of instances where we scraped the sides with the puzzle pieces and claw trying to get the pieces in place.

We had a blast taking turns trying to see who could solve our puzzle the fastest. Since we finished up our US History studies last year, this was the perfect end to our learning. We were able to review a few facts about the history of the Statue of Liberty and challenge each other to puzzle races. At first glance, my thoughts were no way I'm going to be able to solve this but I quickly found my groove. It was a lot simpler to solve once I used the box it came in or picture underneath to reference because in the beginning I tried without those resources and it took me a while! You will want to do this again and again once you get it or at least we all did. Who knew success and victory over completed puzzles could be so rewarding?

It was so funny to see everyone's faces as they tried to solve this puzzle!  Frustration, concentration, hilarious fun, light bulb moments - you could see them all in each person's facial expression.  There are really no rules so just let your puzzle skills take over.

Here is a quick time lapse video showing myself completing the puzzle.  It is so much fun!

To find out more on FlipStir Puzzles visit them on Facebook and Twitter. Be sure to check out Enlivenze LLC on Facebook and Twitter too. 

You can also see what my crew mates thought about this and some of the other puzzles available by clicking the banner below.

FlipStir Puzzles Reviews
Crew Disclaimer

Friday, August 12, 2016

5 Days of Homeschool 101 | Day 5 | Encouragement

5 Days of Homeschool 101
See Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4

It's our last day of the 5 Days of Homeschool 101 blog hop!  How awesome that we get to leave one another with a little encouragement.  I've made a few older videos that pretty much sum up my encouragement ideas but my favorite is to keep on keepin' on!  Remember why you began and what your vision is for the hard times that are to come or that you may already be hitting.

In this video, I share 5 encouragement tips that have helped me.
  1. Examine myself - ask myself the tough questions.
  2. Go back to the basics.
  3. Do not compare!
  4. Do not over commit yourself or your students.
  5. Schedule in Teacher Workdays

In this video, I share some tips to help you find time for yourself in the midst of busy homeschool days.  I hope some of these will encourage you in your homeschool journey.

Remember whatever you are going through, you are not alone!  Someone, somewhere is or has been dealing with the same things you are.  That is why I share and encourage everyone to share.  We each have a story to share and yours just might be the story that someone needs to hear!

Thursday, August 11, 2016

5 Days of Homeschool 101 | Day 4 | Traditions

5 Days of Homeschool 101

See Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3

I can't believe the emotions this post brings.  As I was searching through old posts to share some pictures from our first day traditions, it just hit again how fast my children are growing.  It's also my birthday today so I'm growing too.  :)

Our main traditions in our homeschool are on the first day. We call them starting back to school with the 3C's and a P - Coffee, Candy, Crayola and Pajamas.  Who needs the 3R's when you have the 3C's?  Only kidding - kinda.  We also start back with a staggered slow start not beginning every subject at once.  I usually leave them a little note too!
We also always watch and have a Polar Express party at Christmas time.  It's become a lot more laid back over the years but we still enjoy our hot chocolate, popcorn, book, and movie.
What are some of your traditions?

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

5 Days of Homeschool 101 | Day 3 | Home Management

5 Days of Homeschool 101

See Day 1, and Day 2

As I stated in my planning post, I love to plan but fall off when it comes to the follow through sometimes.  My personality seems to be all or nothing with very little in between so when I'm on I'm on but the same is true when I'm off!  Here's my disclaimer:  This post will include almost all affiliate links because I have used these systems and gained a lot of insight from them all.  The thing about systems though is they do not complete themselves.  Oh how I long for a system like that!

I think I have come a long way in my home management though and the biggest success in that area is attitude.  I have learned to let go when needed.  I use to have the attitude that if I couldn't get it all done, then I would shut down and do nothing.  That did not give me any success.  I have since learned that if I do a little each day I don't feel so overwhelmed with trying to do it all. I have made index cards, used many planning systems, apps, taken online courses - you name it I have probably tried it and failed at it!  

So, my best advice in home management would be a quote from Elisabeth Elliot, "Do the next thing."
Here are a few tools that I currently use to help me accomplish doing the next thing.

1)  Motivated Moms - I have been using Motivated Moms for many years now because it is so simple and the tasks are broken down so that they are not overwhelming to me at all.  I began with the paper ebook planning system and have now transitioned to the app over the past couple of years.  This would be my all time favorite tool for home management and it appeases my type A personality too with it's color coding and delegation options.  I still transfer the items that need doing for the day into my paper planner because the act of writing it down helps me to keep the task fresh in my mind.  

2)  The To Do List - Making a nightly to do list with what I want to accomplish the next day also keeps me in sync with my home management. Again, I do better when I write down what I want to accomplish.  I have fought this tooth and nail because it seems like just another to do to add to the list but it really has helped me to accomplish more.  

If you are still fighting writing it down like I did for so long, I will share with you my weekly planner sheet that I made that just requires you to check off daily tasks.  It works okay for me because I still can write down what needs to be done for the week but I need a daily plan as well as a weekly plan so it's still not exactly what I want.  This is a free tool!

3) Last but not least is this great Home Management Course, My Homemaking Mentor, that I joined up to support in it's beginning stages.  There are videos for the visual learner like myself and lots of sharing, encouragement, and ideas to help any type of homemaker.  The great thing about these courses is they are self paced and always available to you. You do not have a limited time but will always be able to access the old content as well as any new that may be added. 

There is also this homeschool focused conference that was just recently presented and still available to watch as well. 

If you are looking something for free, Jami's Finding Joy In Your Home, is a great free option to begin with as well!  

Just like each homeschool is unique and has to find out what works best for them, so does each home manager.  We are all made differently with different schedules, learning styles, and personalities so fitting a standard mold will never work.  Sometimes you have to tweak and play around with what works best for you and your home but mostly you just have to get it done!

What plan, schedule, or system have you found that helps you with your home management?  I am always looking and trying to learn!!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

5 Days of Homeschool 101 | Day 2 | Planning

5 Days of Homeschool 101

See Day 1

Ahh, today's topic is one of my favorites.  I LOVE to plan!! Following through with the plans - not so much but the planning and organizing process is my favorite.  I plan for our homeschool yearly and weekly.
Yearly Planning

My yearly planning has pretty much stayed the same since we began homeschooling.  The first steps that I have to take are getting out last year's stuff.  I use this simple checklist that I made to keep me on track each year.  You can print a copy for yourself and tweak it to fit you if you like.  
Once most of that has been accomplished, I move on to prepare for the upcoming school year.  I'm currently working on that portion now as we type.  I am actually a little behind this year as I have completely moved our school room to a new location.  Since my oldest son graduated and has moved into his own apartment, we can now use his old room for our school room which is such a blessing.  I cannot believe how much stuff I had packed into a little corner of my bedroom which now currently looks so empty!!  I hope to add in a quiet time area and a treadmill in that space one day.  
I try my best to get all the copies that I will need made ahead of time and then file them by week.  Since we use My Father's World, I have weekly student sheets that need filing so any additional copies I will file in with those.  I use an accordion file folder to keep the sheets filed by weeks.
Here is a yearly planning video.  Again, most of my process has stayed the same even though this is an older video.  The only major differences that I noticed are we now usually work 6 weeks on and take 1 week off unless the week off is close to a planned vacation.

On the week that we take off I try to plan my the majority of my high schoolers lessons for the next six weeks.  Doing that makes it easier for me to complete my weekly planning.  We may not always get to what is on the list but I still like to have an overall plan.

Of course, I made my own planning sheet for that too! Download here to tweak for your own homeschool needs.

Weekly Planning

I've mentioned this so many times before but I cannot post a planning post without giving it a shout out.  This black zipper notebook aka as "my brain" has been in our homeschool since the beginning and is my all time favorite planning tool because I can keep everything I need for the week inside, zip it up and we're ready to go anywhere - home, on the road, park, basketball practice.

If I have done what I needed to during my yearly planning, then my weekly planning should be pretty minimal usually taking no more than an hour to complete.  Usually I can keep it around 30 minutes. 
Mainly, I break down the week for each child.  Here is an older video showing a weekly planning session and things pretty much look the same minus one child.  If you have any specific questions, please let me know!
Happy Planning!