Friday, April 29, 2016

Working and Homeschooling ~ Week 6 ~ Time Off! What's That?

Working and homeschooling, time off


When both parents work, time off is a rarity. Even more rare is having time off together. So how do we handle the lack of time off? We make the most of every opportunity!

When one parent works full time and one works part time, the part-time parent almost always gets to run the errands for the fmaily: groceries, car maintenance, kids to the dentist, etc. It also often falls to that parent to be the main overseer of the children's education. That doesn't mean you do it all, but you do most of it. That is the tradeoff. Accept it and get yourself a planner to keep track of everything!

I have worked three, four, and sometimes even five days (or nights) a week while Kurt has always worked full-time (or more) while we have been homeschooling. Sometimes we plan several weeks in advance to be able to take time off ( an extra day or two) and sometimes it just happens because of my work flow. Days off for me usually mean errands, doing extra schoolwork (like working on the more difficult math concepts, or doing a Biology lab) or both! Very rare is the day when I have a day really, truly off that isn't Sunday, like maybe once every other month. On those days I sleep in. Some of the time I use to write blog posts and schedule them to post in the future. Some of the time I use to help the girls deep-clean the house. Sometimes, I read a book!

During the seasons when I've only worked three days a week, we've been able to take a lot more field trips. These are low or no-cost trips, where we pack a picnic lunch, leave home with a full tank of gas, and return home before supper. When I've worked more days, we've sometimes sent the girls off on a field trip with friends and their bag lunches . True, understanding friends are a wonderful blessing for a working and homeschooling Mama! They fill in the gaps, encourage you, and love on your children as an extension of their own!

If you are in a family where both parents work, you need to wrap your mind around the idea that your family life will not look like everyone else's. One reason is time constraint, the other reason is economic. If you need to work to help pay the bills, your children are probably not going to play organized sports, take dance classes, nor are you going to be picking up a coffee (or dinner) at a drive thru! Fear not, your children will not miss out on life or fail to mature because you couldn't give them everything material that their friends have. When children see their parents working hard, and giving up personal free time and activities to provide for the family as a whole, they learn valuable lessons at an earlier age. They learn budgeting, they learn the value of a dollar, and they learn to cherish the time they do have with the family together!

Use your spare time of to make the rest of your life easier. Get a planner and put in the non-negotiable dates. Plan your children's schoolwork, but loosely, knowing that a snag can and will come up during each month. Maybe your child still struggles with arithmetic~ you'll need to set time aside each day to have someone work with them on that, whether it is you, or an older sibling. Make family plans to divide and conquer the housework. It can be a little bit every day, or a whole-family Saturday morning affair.

Remember to pray often, for your spouse, your children, your co-workers, and yourself. If you have an understanding boss, consider yourself doubly blessed! Remember to pray for them too!

Today I'm taking a day off, to attend our state's homeschool convention. It's a weird position to be in, since we only have one student to plan for next school year. I've pulled bits and pieces of time out of the past month to sit down, look at our master course plan for Arlene, and plan for the convention. Arlene and I have looked over the descriptions of the speakers, and Emily has picked ones she wants to listen to as well. Since Emily is a senior, she said she just wants to attend to listen, browse the used books, and maybe encourage others. 

As crazy as my schedule sometimes seems, I know the Lord has blessed us beyond our understanding through this journey. The boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places, and for that, I'm extra thankful!

Come back next week when we'll talk about frugal field trips, and why they are SO very necessary for working families!

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

SchoolhouseTeachers.com sale!

If you've been reading our blog for a while, you know we really like the variety of resources available at SchoolhouseTeachers.com !

Read our reviews of SchoolhouseTeachers.com here and here.

I don't often write posts about sales, but I wanted to make sure you knew about the sale that starts today at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. Besides the great courses, and parent helps, the folks at The Old Schoolhouse are adding in several great bonuses. One of the bonuses is a printed copy of the "Hey Mama" planner. If you click the picture below, you'll get to read all about the sale!





Come back by on Friday, as I plan to have our next installment of the Working and Homeschooling series posted then!

Have a great day!
Carol :)


Disclaimer: this post contains an affiliate link. If you purchase a subscription to SchoolhouseTeachers.com we will receive a small commission, which we will use for a field trip! I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC regulations.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

GREEMU Plant-Based Beauty Oil ~ A Crew Review

Many people world wide use Emu oil for skin care and hair conditioning. The scientists at Devonian worked for almost two years to come up with a plant-based alternative to Emu oil and the fantastic result is GREEMU! Arlene and I have been using GREEMU for several weeks for this review, and we both like it much better than Emu oil. One of our favorite things about GREEMU is no funny smell!

GREEMU, Plant based oils, natural beauty


We have used Emu oil in the past for moisturizing our skin. Ok, I'll be honest, it was mostly me using it because Arlene strongly disliked the smell... and she has never liked Emus. When she was little, our zoo had Emus and they were loud and smelly...like emu oil ~ LOL! But I digress...I really liked the deep moisturizing ability of emu oil, but I was not a fan of the smell. I'm not opposed to using animal based products, but I know many people are, so GREEMU should be a well received newcomer to the beauty oil scene. Because of the smell of Emu oil, I had switched back to using other single ingredient plant based oils for moisturizing.

GREEMU is so unique because the lipid (fat) composition is the same as the lipid composition of Emu oil. It is the same consistency as Emu oil, it is even almost the same color. What is different is the smell, and the cost is lower than with Emu oil. GREEMU has very little smell, similar to a high quality unscented hand lotion. GREEMU is formed from five ingredients: Macadamia Seed Oil, Palm Oil (certified Organic,)  Shea Butter, Sunflower Seed Oil, and Rice Bran Oil. Because of the high quality ingredients, a little goes a very long way!

Arlene is blessed to have skin that naturally moisturizes itself, however, she was working outside for three windy days in a row and ended up with chapped cheeks and forehead. Just a couple of drops of GREEMU on her face after the bath each morning and in less than a week the skin had healed. She did find out that you need to use just a tiny bit. I had been putting it on for her the first couple of days. Then she decided to apply it herself one day...she said she used too much and at bedtime it felt like it still hadn't all soaked in. It actually had, but let's just say she was super-moisturized!

I have been using the GREEMU on my neck and legs. After a month of really windy days, my legs were dry. It takes only a few drops to deep moisturize my legs. I like the fluidity of GREEMU and how well it spreads. After just a few days I only needed to use the GREEMU on my legs every other day.

Now, about using GREEMU on my neck. Did you know that most make-up artists can tell you how old a woman is by the number of neck wrinkles she has? I learned this from my friends in the beauty industry (thanks ladies- you know who you are!) How does this apply to me? In February I had a head-shot picture taken to use for my monthly column in our local newspaper. My friend Eliot did a wonderful job on the photo...but I noticed I had those dreaded neck wrinkles! Aack! Call me vain if you want to, but I really don't want people telling my age by my wrinkles. GREEMU to the rescue! I have been using GREEMU on my neck daily and have noticed a visible reduction in the depth of those neck wrinkles. They haven't disappeared completely, but they are much less noticeable. I call that success!

For those who have avoided using Emu oil because of objections to its origin (yes, it comes from the fat of Emus,) GREEMU is a vegan, plant-based alternative. If you're looking for a thick, milky, fluid beauty oil, then try GREEMU. So far I have only been using it straight from the 4 oz. bottle, but I have plans to try mixing GREEMU with a few essential oils in the future. To read our review on Emu oil, click here.

One more great use for GREEMU is as a hair deep-conditioner. Arlene has really thick wavy hair, which during the Spring and Summer around here means frizzy hair. She has used GREEMU to smooth the frizz away, and it has lasted until the next time she washed her hair. Once again, remember to just use a little bit. I tried using GREEMU as a deep conditioner and found something unusual. It made my gray hair less noticeable. I'm not sure how it changed the light reflection, but it definitely made my hair look more brown and less gray. I'm good with that!

GREEMU is distributed by our friends at Koru Naturals, which is awesome! Koru Naturals has always had such great customer service, and packs their products securely! We have ordered from Koru several times, and are happy that we can add GREEMU to our lists of Koru favorites!

Connect with Devonian and GREEMU through Pinterest or Facebook

Lots of the families on the Crew have been reviewing GREEMU, click the link below to read all the reviews


Greemu Devonian Review


Crew Disclaimer




Monday, April 25, 2016

YWAM ~ Ronald Reagan ~ A Crew Review

Arlene and I have been reading another great biography from YWAM Publishing. This time we received Heroes of History - Ronald Reagan to review. We also received a downloadable 82 page PDF  Digital Unit Study that is full of activities, study questions, and enrichment ideas. Because so many families are now using laptops and tablets for reading, and for schoolwork, YWAM has been working to convert all of their Unit Study Curriculum Guides to digital format. We have enjoyed this change, as it means the unit study can be viewed from so many different devices, and we no longer need to wait for the mailman to deliver them.



YWAM Reagan biography

Ronald Wilson Reagan was America's 40th President. While many adults remember his Presidency, many children know very little about his life. This biography from YWAM is a gentle introduction to Reagan's life. It begins with the episode when President Reagan was shot, then it flashes back to take you methodically through his childhood and adolescence. As Dutch, (Reagan's boyhood nickname,) becomes a man, you will learn of his acting, his Governorship, and his Presidency.

I remember a lot of Reagan's Presidency, as I was in school and old enough to follow current events. As I read the YWAM biography, I learned a lot about his earlier life. Many of the stories told of the hardships he endured while growing up during the Great Depression reminded me of stories my Grandparents had told.

Arlene is young enough that she doesn't remember much except pictures of Ron and Nancy Reagan appearing at events as 'the former President and First Lady.' Here are some of her thoughts:

I liked this book because it tells you about President Reagan's life in a fun and easy to read manner. I learned many things about President Reagan that I never knew before. I remember being sad when I learned about Mrs. Nancy Reagan's death, and when I read in the book that he was married to another woman before her, I was surprised and kept wondering where she was. I really liked the book. I even stayed up late at night to finish reading it the first time, and I only do that with a book I really like.

YWAM, Ronald Reagan, Digital Unit Study




The Digital Unit Study that we received that corresponds to YWAM's Ronald Reagan biography is extensive. It has eight sections, plus three appendices. It comes with suggestions on how to adapt it for home, co-op or classroom use. I liked seeing the  variety of activities it suggests. Although we did not set up a display corner (one of the classroom geared activities,) it did remind me of when our girls were little and Emily & Arlene did a display about the White House for our homeschool group's Geography Fair. They (with help) had made a simple White House out of Legos, and had a jar of jelly beans on the table, which they told their friends were to represent Ronald Reagan's time in the White House.


YWAM Reagan biography
In the section of the guide with Chapter Questions, there are six questions for each chapter. They include vocabulary and factual questions, as well as reading comprehension and open ended questions that are asking your student to really think about what happened and form an opinion. For your younger students, these could be done orally. Your students in the middle school grades and up should have no problem writing out their answers. Because the study guide is a PDF, you may wish to download it to a tablet style device so they can work on the questions while leaving your computer open for other use.

The Student Explorations section is the one I think most Unit Study based families will enjoy the most. There are four types of activities, divided into several difficulty levels. You may wish for your student to write an essay about Reagan's life or do a creative writing exercise. Your kinesthetic learners will thrive on the variety of choices in the Hands-on activities, and many students will want to try their hand at the audio/visual projects. There are also suggestions for Arts & crafts activities which would be great to do as a group, whether at home or in a school setting.

The families of the Crew reviewed several YWAM biographies, click the banner below to read all the reviews!

Visit YWAM on Facebook, Pinterest, or on their blog.



Christian Heroes {YWAM Publishing Review}


Crew Disclaimer



Friday, April 22, 2016

Spring has arrived!

Ladies and gentlemen, children of all ages, we are happy to announce: Spring has arrived at last!

Hebrews 11:1, waiting upon God


After waiting what seems like more than a season, we are so happy to see sunshine, have blue skies, and temperatures that are consistently ABOVE freezing. Spring is often fickle around here, it comes, it goes, it shows up again a couple weeks later. This year, instead of waiting six more weeks after Groundhog's day, it appears we needed to wait ten weeks.

What does a late Spring mean? Perhaps our vegetables will be a little later getting started, maybe the Spring allergy season will be a more intense, or maybe, . . . it will be life as usual. More than looking at the outward events that herald Spring's arrival, perhaps we should look at what we can learn from waiting.

Hebrews 11:1 states: Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

When God calls us to wait, whether it is for a new season, for a new job, or for provision, how do we respond? When we place our faith in things, we are often disappointed. Rightly so. Things are just material, they do not last past this life. When we place our faith in Christ, we will not be disappointed, we will be blessed and given peace. Faith in Christ is not a panacea that takes away our troubles, rather, faith in Christ puts our troubles in perspective. Faith in Christ puts our eyes back on God's power and provision, it takes our light and momentary troubles and draws them back down to size. Christ does not give peace like the world promises peace. The peace that Christ gives is beyond worldly understanding. It girds us up when we are lagging, and it gives us joy in the midst of whatever comes our way.

Be convicted of the greatness of God, be assured of His love for you. Be at peace in Christ, knowing that God is watching over you and directing your life for His glory.

Trust Him.

Whether you're waiting for Spring to arrive, or you're already outside planting flowers and vegetables, take time to wait upon God for His answers, His timing, and His provision. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Working and Homeschooling ~ Spring Break

A huge thank you to all of you for the wonderful response to our Working and Homeschooling series!



Working and Homeschooling series

This week is the first time it has really felt like Spring around here, so I declared a Spring Break ~ for me! 

I spent time cleaning up the flowerbeds, mowing the yard, and the girls and I went on a long hike this afternoon.

We will be back next week with more real life tips from our own experiences. In the mean time, here are the links to all of the working and homeschooling posts so far.

Week 1 ~ WHY Are You Working?
Week 2 ~ Homeschool Schedules 
Week 3 ~ The DANGEROUS Comparison Game
Week 4 ~ Housework, a Family Affair
Week 5 ~ Education Breaks

Hope you're having a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Working & Homeschooling ~ Week 5 ~ Education Breaks

Dear parents,
YOU need an education break!
Sincerely,
      Me :)


Working and Homeschooling, education breaks, education gaps


There is a train of thought that works really well for home education for the children, but can be a nightmare for working and homeschooling parents. The train of thought creates wonder and excitement in children. The train opens new ideas, new opportunities, and new experiences for students, and yet...it can leave the parents exhausted.

What is this train you may ask? It is the "always learning" train. We have found it quite beneficial to our daughters to not give them a set school ending time, because we didn't want them to check their brains at 3:30 p.m. and stop learning. Home education truly is a lifestyle, one where everyone can learn all day long, even on the weekends, and explore a vast number of interests.

The problem with this train comes when the parents can't stop the amount of things that still need done and become exhausted and overwhelmed. Parents need education breaks, especially working parents. 

Here are some things we have found that can help you continue to enjoy the educational lifestyle with your children, without coming to the end of your proverbial rope:

Prayer

Once again I must remind you that none of us can fulfill this role as home educating parents without help! Rely upon God's strength and understanding daily...not just when you've run out of your own.


Accept Limitations

Stop listening to what the world is telling you about gaps in your children's education, and start listening to what God wants you to focus on. Every child's education has gaps, whether they went to public school, private school, or were educated at home.

I went to pubic school, I graduated near the top of my class with an outstanding GPA, know what? I have HUGE gaps in my education! I didn't realize just how big those gaps were until we started educating our daughters. That's ok, because I had a couple of superb teachers who taught me HOW to learn. I have used those skills over and over again to fill in the gaps I wanted filled. I have learned alongside our daughters. Those other gaps? They haven't mattered much in the 25 years since I graduated High School.

Once you have God's plan for your children's educations, you can focus less and less on supposed gaps, and more and more on them learning things that will be relevant to their adult lives.


Make your own vacation schedule

Some homeschooling parents want to take their vacations when the local school takes theirs. Either for convenience's sake, or from fear of questioning, they've forgotten one of the greatest freedoms of home education is setting your own schedule. Yes, there will still be state rules to follow, but if you want to take your Spring break a month earlier, or later, than everyone else -do it! 

I am a 4-H Leader, which means a part of every summer is devoted to helping the other 50+ 4-Hers in our club (and their parents) get ready for our county fair. So while my focus remains on helping our daughters understand their projects and complete them on time...I'm still really busy helping everyone else too! When the State Fair starts in August, our family steps away from the rest of our 4-H club and we focus on just enjoying the fair together as a family. The month of August is MY summer. The time between outside responsibilities, and when the girls start their new school year. This is when we usually take a short family vacation. Almost everyone else is back in school, and we can enjoy the sights in relative quiet.


Last year we did something really unusual with our schedule. We went to Florida for a week in early November. Guess what? The beach is almost empty, but the weather is still warm. It was actually hot! We didn't stop learning while on our trip, the exact opposite, as the girls had never been to FL before, and neither Kurt or I had been to this part of the state. Want to know what we did do? We stopped requiring the girls to keep track of it. No reports to write, no summaries to give, not even a little narration. Just enjoy the vacation. It is OK for your child's education to be different from the kids down the street. We were making memories, the vacation was educational, but mostly, it was a vacation ~ for all four of us!

Working and Homeschooling, education breaks, education gaps



Stop grading Papers

Oh dear working parents, you simply have to give up the idea of grading every assignment your student completes. If you are working and homeschooling there just isn't time each day, and you probably don't have the mental capacity to stay focused on it anyway. I'm not saying "don't grade anything," I'm saying be selective. Choose which subjects you most need written grades for, or find an online course for your older student that is self-grading. If your student is trustworthy, have them check their own daily work, then all you have to do is administer and grade the unit test. Find a happy medium for your family. Perhaps your oldest students could check the math or spelling papers for your youngest, perhaps instead of always giving written tests, your middle school aged student could answer their history questions orally while they help you prepare dinner. There is a method that will work for each family that has working and homeschooling parents, if you're struggling to find yours, refer back to the first tip: Prayer!


Education Breaks for parents

Schedule in some education breaks for the parents. Or don't schedule them, but DO take them when needed! Just as our children need time each summer to reset their internal clocks and just be kids, sometimes WE need time to reset ourselves as parents. You can give your child the day off of their schoolwork, or you can just choose to not grade anything they completed that day. Find a way to step away from being the teacher once in a while, and simply focus on enjoying your children. They grow up ~ quickly!


Stop in again next week, there is still a lot more to be shared about working and homeschooling!

Friday, April 1, 2016

Tips for Homeschooling Parents ~ High School

Here we are on the final day of our Tips for Homeschooling Parents Blog Hop. I hope you've found lots of encouragement and help this week. I saved High School for last. Many parents feel they are ill-equipped to teach High School and consider sending their children to Public School. Let me encourage you that you CAN teach your High School aged students at home, and they can succeed, while you have the blessing of watching them grow into young adults.

Tips for Homeschool Parents, High School, Homeschooling


I just have five points I want you to think about, and then I'm going to link some of our recent posts about High School to give you more of an idea about what the day to day life of High School is like around here.

Keep The Vision

You started this journey with a vision, as you draw near to that goal, do not waver. It is ok to change up your curriculum choices, or even your teaching style, but remember WHY you started home educating in the first place and keep that forefront in your heart and mind. There are a lot of options for High School, textbook, living books, online, dual enrollment, private tutors. You can continue on through graduation with some planning and effort.

Make a Master Plan for Each Child

At no time since you taught them to read will you notice the differences in each child as much as when you sit down to plan out their 4 or 5 years of High School. Yes, you read that right, some students should be taking five years. One of ours is taking 4.5 years, the other one? We'll wait and see. Sit down as parents with your child and a copy of your state's requirements. Pencil in the basics, then talk honestly about which electives your student wants to consider. You don't need all the electives chosen before you begin, but you should have the state requirements for Math, Science, History, and Language Arts filled out early so you don't overlook a course they'll need to graduate!

Write it all Down ~ On Paper!

There are a wealth of online planners and record keepers out there. However, you're going to need to keep a basic tally of courses completed on paper. Computers crash, companies change software, with at least a general outline on paper, you can always re-create any transcript information that might have been lost.

Transcript choices

You don't have to decide NOW which way to write out the transcript, but you should be thinking about it. When in doubt, write it down in a notebook or planner you save JUST for High School records. See the link below to our post about transcripts and graduation for more ideas!

Remember the Field Trips

We are HUGE proponents of experiential learning. Plan at least one field trip each month in High School. Sometimes you won't get them all in, but try. Older students love the break from book work, and are often able to formulate deeper questions to ask about the event or location than they could at younger ages. You'll love seeing things through new eyes as well.

Enjoy the Ride!

The High School years can be a wonderful, crazy, exhausting ride. It is so worth your time and effort to spend these last few years with your children as they mature into adults. Continue to tie heart strings. Remember that you were once a teenager. Be the parent, but also be their friend. Show them through your actions that they are valued, and that you are truly blessed to be able to spend this time together!

Click on the links below for more of our real-life High School posts.

Transcripts, Graduation, and a Diploma

Help! I Can't Fit it all in!

How Will I Teach High School?

Math and Science in High School

Homeschooling High School ~ Electives

Language Arts (& History!)

Making a Plan ~ Homeschooling High School 




To see what everyone else is sharing today, click on the banner below! Thanks for stopping by all week!


5 Days of Tips for Homeschool Parents

Visit my friends to read their tips for Homeschool Parents
Dawn @ Double O Farms 
Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness