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Getting the homeschool routine down.

Wow! We are on week 11 of our school year. It has gone by so fast,  and I am so happy to watch my little guy grow and learn before my eyes. This year has been so much easier, organized, fun, and we are learning so much.

Choosing a curriculum

The number one thing that has helped us so far this year, was finding a good curriculum. Last year I tried to just make it up as I went along, gathering curriculum from Pinterest or on the web. Things would get pinned, or printed and then we would never use them. 

This year I decided that we would use a structured curriculum, and then the search was on for the right one. Our family is on a very tight budget, like many other homeschool families so high priced curriculum was out. A dear friend of mine suggested that I check out the curriculum she uses for all 4 of her homeschoolers. The price sounded amazing, so one day she came over and we logged in so I could explore their website.

I knew right away that this would be perfect for us. So, we signed up and became members of Schoolhouse Teachers. They were running an amazing special of $9.99 a month  (Reg. $19.99 a month) for unlimited access to all of their curriculum. The thing I liked best about Schoolhouse Teachers, is that if we started one class and it didn’t work out for Chief then it was no extra cost to start a new program (Which we have done twice already).  We currently use Beginning Handwriting, and Starting out with First Grade Math.

Another great plus to using this curriculum website, is that it doesn’t matter how many children you have wither it be 1 or 9, the pricing remains the same! How amazing is that! Of course there are two options when you sign up, you can pay annually or you can pay monthly. We chose the monthly plan, because it was in our budget where as paying the annual fee was just not doable at the time.

Getting Organized

The other thing that helped majorly this year was getting organized. No more just guessing what we would be doing for today. Last year I debated getting a teacher planner to keep out days scheduled and on track. I thought we could do it on our own. Boy was I wrong, so so wrong.

In a previous post I spoke about getting the Happy Planner Teacher Edition. I can not say how much I truly LOVE having this planner! Not only does it help keep me organized during the day, but it keeps a record of everything we are doing. I have a column where I write daily notes about our school day. So that I can look back and remember what we were doing, how Chief took to a new subject or topic, or any fun things we may have done.

If you are homeschooling, I highly recommend that you get a planner of sorts. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy, expensive, or specifically for teaching. It can be any type of planner you prefer. Every Friday after we finish our lessons, Chief gets free time and he chooses what he wants to do. Usually it’s playing the xbox (gasp! Yes, the xbox) or a game on his iPad. During this time I plan our lessons for next week, print everything out and write everything down. This frees up our weekend to do family things, and I am not rushing on Sunday night to get everything together. Check out our weekly schedule below.

Realize that it is ok to fail.

Raise your hand if you thought homeschooling was going to be easy. **Raises hand** I thought this was going to be much easier to accomplish. Boy way I dead wrong. Chief and I are very similar when it comes to doing things, which in turn causes us to butt heads often. When we first started it was a daily struggle to get our lessons done, I felt like the biggest failure. On the advice of a friend I took a step back and re-evaluated our schedule, our lessons and our approach, then I changed everything.

I found that I was using lessons there way to simple for Chief, and in turn he was getting frustrated. We ditched that curriculum and started with something slightly more difficult and it has worked perfect. This made me realize that we will fail, but in the end we can re adapt and we can move forward with the knowledge that we learn from those failures.

If you are struggling, or your littles are having a hard time focusing on their work. Try something else, give them an assessment or a worksheet that is a little bit more difficult then what they are currently working on. It could just be that they aren’t being challenged enough. Or, if the curriculum is on tract find a way to make your lessons fun, and exciting. We implemented a sticker chart, one sticker per lesson completed each day. At the end of the week if his sticker sheet is complete he can turn in his ticket for a prize. Prizes range from a special trip to the park, a movie night, a small toy under $3 or he can collect tickets for larger prizes. Do what works best for your little.

Have a fantastic school year! Just remember, don’t stress and its completely ok to fail ❤️

 

❤️Brittny

 

 

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Our Year In Review

Wow! Is the year already coming to an end? We have 10 more days until 2017, and I am so not ready. The end of the year also signifies that Chief will be another year older. His birthday is December 31st, so we always celebrate with a bang.

The Good Times

This year we started our official home school journey. It came on suddenly, but it was so worth it. To say that it has been easy, without challenges, and non stressful would be a lie. It has been one of the hardest, challenge filled, stressful times, but watching my sons face light up with joy when he finally understands something is worth it all.

Practice Writing

This year we also reunited with part of my husbands family who we hadn’t spoken to in almost 5 years. While this was odd at first, and still can be, I am so grateful that it happened. Family has and always will be important to me and it has always broken my heart that my son had cousins and grandparents out there that he had never met.

The best part of this year had to be my husband relocating for work. He now works about 10 minutes from home, and this is so much better for our family. Before it would take him about 45 minutes to get home. That 45 minutes could be a make or break it to be home in time to say goodnight to Chief before he fell asleep. We can now visit him for Lunch at work if we would like to, which helps for nights where he might be working late.

The Bad Times

Wow, where to start. I feel like this year has been filled with more bad times than anything. It has been one of my most challenging years ever. I could have never expected the heartache, pure grief and anger that I experienced.

In March after months of complaining, my grandmother was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That day I took her into the emergency room, I never expected to walk out making plans for the rest of her life. I expected her to live another 10 years at least. In July things got much worse. It was time for her to move in with us and receive full-time hospice care at home. Less then 3 weeks later we were saying our last goodbyes. Her loss was the hardest thing I have been through in at least the last 15 years. I still have days where I expect her to call, or pure grief overtime I look at my Christmas tree and I know in 3 days she won’t be sitting down for Christmas Brunch. But, I am comforted in knowing that she is in a better place and no longer in pain.

Hugs for Great Grandma ❤️

In August we reunited with part of my husbands family. Unfortunately this reunion came on terrible terms. His grandfather had been battling cancer for sometime, and received news that he now had a new kind. We started to make time to go over there and see them. Chief had been going over there for a few months with his Papa to visit, and for that I am grateful. No one expected what came next. In September he went into the hospital and they gave him the terrible news that the cancer had spread at lighting speed and he had days to live. Here we are FINALLY back together as a family and now we are losing grandpa too. He passed at the end of September in the care of the same Hospice team that cared for my grandma.

Dealing with both these losses put such an emotional weight on my shoulders. Here I was not even remotely over the loss of my grandma and having to explain her loss to Chief, but here I am having to explain to him the loss of his grandpa just months later. Just way to much loss in such a short time for such a young child.

Getting Better

Here we are, the year is finally coming to an end. We are 3 days away from Christmas, and 9 days away from Chief’s 4th Birthday! I still can’t believe that he is going to be 4 years old. I look back at my Facebook memories and 4 years ago I was on bed rest trying to keep this stubborn little boy inside for just a few more weeks, now I am putting together his birthday party.

We are going to celebrate these last few days with pure joy. This year has taught me one thing. To be thankful for everything, take nothing for granted, and to live for your self and not others. I have learned that no matter you take adventures,  have fun, love unconditionally, have faith, and do what makes you happy.

So with all this said, we are living for our selfs. We are taking the steps to a fantastic family adventure. We are moving across the country from Florida to Michigan. For now we celebrate Christmas, celebrate Chief’s birthday and the new year, and then we put our house on the market and cross our fingers that it sells quickly.

How did your year end? What were the good times? The bad times? Are they finally starting to look up?

 

Merry Christmas🎄 and Happy Holidays

❤️Brittny

P.S. If you like this, don’t forget to share with your friends and family.

 

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Baking Christmas Cookies

It’s that time of year, time to bake Christmas Cookies. We invited Chief’s best friend Hadley Girl over to join us and they had a blast.

Our Recipes

We didn’t do anything to crazy, I use a Chewy Sugar Cookie Recipe I found while googling. It was super duper simple and easy to make. The longest part was waiting for the dough to get cold so we could roll it out and cut them into shapes with the cookie cutters.

I also made my own version of homemade butter cream frosting. It is so easy to make and taste so much better then store bought frosting. Here is the recipe for that.

Buttercream Frosting

1 stick of softened butter (Not melted)

1 cup of powdered sugar

1-2 teaspoons of Vanilla Extract (Depending on how much vanilla you like)

1-2 tablespoons of Milk

Food Coloring Gel (Optional)

Cream your butter till it is a smooth consistency about 1 minute, add Vanilla extract and mix. Then add in 1/2 cup powdered sugar mixing until combined, add in the other 1/2 cup of powdered sugar. This is where you will see the need for the milk. Add in 1 tablespoon first and mix, adding more milk as needed until you get the consistency you desire.  Add in food coloring gel and mix till you reach the desired color (Optional).

Refrigerate after making.

Mixing our dough

The kids had a blast with this. I remeasured the dry ingredients so they could help pour them into the mixer, and to help keep the mess to a minimum. Chief cracked the egg and was super proud. This is a task we have been working on for about a year now, and he seems to have it mastered.

After mixing our dough we rolled it up in some plastic and put it in the freezer to get cold and solid. This step is super important to prevent your dough from spreading out while baking. While it was freezing the mom’s make some of their own secret peppermint bark to hide for later(Recipe below)

Cutting our Cookies

By the time we reached this step the kids were bored and didn’t want anything to do with us anymore. Typical for 3 year olds. They found the play dough and were happily making their own creations in the classroom.

I sprinkled flour onto a wooden cutting board, and rolled out the dough to be about 1/4 inch thick. We used traditional cookie cutters, the snowman, stocking, gingerbread boy and girl, and christmas trees. Because they were only about 1/4 inch thick they baked in about 10 minutes.

 

Decorating our Cookies

Finally! The time came. They were out of the oven, flash cooled (Put in the freezer for 10 minutes) and ready to decorate. We called in the kids from the play room, got them washed up and they sat at the table ready to create their masterpiece cookies.

I placed out our homemade buttercream frosting, that I split into 3 containers and dyed red, green, and I left one white.They also got a small cup of sprinkles, because lets be real no child should have a full bottle of sprinkles, hahaha.

We had green teeth, red teeth, and sugar rushes galore. But we had two very happy children. It didn’t take long after they decorated the cookies for them to devour the frosting off, and eat their cookies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Baking cookies has always been a Christmas tradition in my family and is one that I want to keep going with Chief. Being that part of our family is a few hundred miles away, we invited our best friends who have become our family to join us for this special day. I can’t be any happier with how the day went, and the time that we got to spend with Hadley Girl, baby Squish and Momma Nikki.

These days show me that you don’t have to be blood related to be a family. You can create family traditions with anyone, and make them special. Plus, Nikki and I use any excuse we can to get together and have some mom time ❤️.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

-Brittny 🎅🏽🎄❤️

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Homemade Homeschool

As a homeschooling family with a single income, we find our own ways to create our homeschool materials. Little man has been struggling with his recognition of letters, and tracing. So we are trying a new approach. He previously used sandpaper letters when he was in Montessori school, so here is my take on them. They are super easy to make, and relatively inexpensive. Here is what you will need:

Supplies:

Glitter Paper ( in your child’s favorite color.)

Or Precut Glitter letters (Make sure they are textured)

Hot Glue

White Card Stock

Paper Cutter

I use my Cricut to cut out my letters using the basic Arial Font, and made them about 2″ tall. You can adjust yours to whatever size you would like, or purchase the precut letters in the size you would like. I then cut out my White Card Stock into 3″ squares , then hot glued the glitter letters to the center of my card stock. They turned out great!  The total cost for the project for me was under $2. I already had the white card stock and hot glue, so I only had to purchase the glitter paper which was around $1.50.

I highly recommend that if you are a homeschooling parent that you purchase a Cricut. You don’t have to have the top of the line if you are just using it to cut out projects. I have the Explore One and I use it for homeschooling and for my online business. It is great to be able to cut things out on the fly and not have to worry about how its going to turn out. It is very helpful when the littles get older and start having projects of their own that need to be completed. They can use it to create the things needed without having to go out and specially buy items.

Here is our finished project. He loves them, and they are red which is his favorite color. He instantly started to trace the letters. I only placed out the letters that we are currently working on, so that he will not get confused. Good Luck with your projects!

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We do school in our Jammies.
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Our First Post!

Well I finally decided to do this. Where to start? Well, here is a bit about our family. My name is Brittny, and I am a stay at home mom to a very adventurous three and a half-year old and a wife to one amazing husband who makes this all happen.

I haven’t always been a stay at home mom, I had big dreams of working in a busy office and being important in the business world. Then my son was born and my whole view changed. I was a Senior Paralegal and Office Manager to a small law firm and I loved my job. Then one day things changed, I made a decision to work later than usual and the unthinkable happened. My husband and son were in a bad car accident, and my views changed. I realized that my family was more important than a job that I was constantly stressed out from, and always busy or running late.

Life after this incident was different. I made a huge effort to work less, stress less and be overall happier. I lost my job not long after the accident and it was a huge blessing. This allowed me to find a new job, where I could bring my little guy to work with me every day. I adored my job more than anything. I worked as an administrative assistant at a Montessori school and man it was amazing. Watching my little guy learn so much everyday, along with falling in love with each and every one of our students was the best thing ever. Unfortunately, in December 2015 the unthinkable happened again. Just days before Christmas, my son and I were in a terrible car accident. So, here is where my life as a stay at home mom comes into play.

We recently started our journey into homeschooling. We had a great headstart with our son being in a Montessori school for 2 years. He is a very bright boy, and enjoys learning new things each day. We use a mixture of Pre-K curriculum that we have purchased from wonderful homeschool moms and Montessori practices.

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I also use a font that I downloaded from dafont.com called trace. I am able to type out letters that he is then able to trace to learn the flow of each letter. Once he has traced his letters, he tries to write them on his own. Some come out better then others, he is struggling with his “s” letters but trying so hard. We decided that we were going to start on the letters in his name, so that he can learn to write his name. So far we have acomplished the letters “s”, “t” and are currently working on “e”. Today he was actually able to write his name on his own, and I was so proud I almost cried! img_1223

I can not wait to see what else he learns! There is nothing more satasifying then watching your baby boy turn into a little boy right before your eyes. The pure joy and excitement he gets when he learns something new is just amazing. Each day brings new tasks, new adventures, new lessons, and so much love.