Thursday, July 31, 2014

Wordless Wednesday Week 49


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Flourish:Balance for Homeschool Moms{Review}

Apologia Educational Materials has a great book to offer from Mary Jo Tate titled "Flourish Balance For Homeschool Moms"

Apologia is a trusted and well known name that most of the homeschool community loves and uses, from educational material to reading material and has something for everyone. Apologia Educational Materials sent Flourish to our Schoolhouse Review Crew for reviews and I was thrilled to be chosen as a part of it.

Mary Jo Tate is a homeschool mother to 4 boys and a successful business woman that in her book helps guide and direct from her advice so that you may possibly find a better way to Flourish!

Flourish is a book for mothers! I know can you believe it? Most the time our reviews are for our children and we finally all scored and got something for ourselves! 

The book is a softback book full of over 300 pages of information and the back of the book has recommended resources and planning forms! 

During the 16 chapters this is some of what you will touch on:

1 - An Invitation to Flourish

This chapter is an overview of all the things you need to understand about the book. This enlightens you about Mary Jo Tates story and reasons behind the book. Chapter 1 talks about what it means to flourish and thrive in all areas of your life and starts offering strategies for you too.

2 - Change Your Mind to Change Your Time

This chapter starts talking about the way you use your time and do you use it wisely? There was some awesome insight in this chapter and this chapter really made me think of some wonderful words that I had heard early in the year at a homeschool conference. This chapter hit home for me. Balancing home, homeschool and work outside of my home is something that is new and I've never had to do before this school year so I have to say this chapter really helped me to see where I need to be doing better at applying my time. 

"Tightrope walkers make frequent small adjustments to maintain their balance."

"True balance doesn't mean spending an equal amount of time and attention on each area of your life. It means spending an appropriate amount of time and attention on each area."

Mary talks about how each person's life is different and has circumstances that another will not have and I believe the reason this is talked about here is simply so you will not be discouraged. We all know how some people give advice and we are left thinking - Yeah I can really do that - yeah... Well this book isn't like that! She has advice and techniques for everyone!

3 - The Freedom Toolbox

This chapter started out with this quote

" If you really want to do something, you'll find a way; if you don't, you'll find an excuse. - Jim Rohn"

Man oh man how true is that for us?

FREEDOM stands for

F ocas
R eflect
E ducate
E liminate
D iscipline
O rganize
M ultitask

Here are 7 very important strategies for helping you with your life and obligations that you have. I loved within Educate that she talks about the need to expose yourself and your family to new ideas and methods simply to keep sharp on your skills or life. Who doesn't want to learn of a better way of doing something that could save you time or money? I know I am game!

"Self discipline is an essential tool for homeschool moms."

"If one aspect of your life is unorganized, it has a spillover effect on every other aspect of your life."

4 - Where Did My Time Go

This chapter is all about watching where your time is spent! She talks a lot here about a time log, I have to be honest I just couldn't do it. However she talks about routine and schedule here and this is totally me! You either like schedules or you hate them! I LOVE THEM!

I am a very routine oriented person and within this chapter you will get great tips at how to help your day go smoother and fit stuff in that you didn't think you had time for. 

When my family is schooling (we school year round) I have a very routine day and my children know this and enjoy it. You're asking how I can tell right?? Well, be here the 2 weeks every 8 that we take a break and you would see that they are somewhat lost and chaotic. This is exactly what Mary is talking about here. 

She gives you helpful tips on blocking your time and some advice on what you could accomplish within small blocks of 5-15 minutes.

"Do what you can, with what you have, where you are. - Theodore Roosevelt"

5 - Aim High - Setting Goals

Goal setting is something that I am personally not great at but I love check off lists. This chapter talks about setting small goals in your personal, family and business.

I know that each year when we start our new school year my children and I set goals for what we hope to accomplish and when we hope to have certain curriculum finished by. This does help one stay accountable and I believe that was a large portion of what needs to be took away from this chapter.

6 - What Do I Do Next? Seven Essential Planning

Big Dream
Yearly Goals
Monthly Calendar
Weekly Plan
Daily Tasks
Running To Do List
Stop - Doing List

All 7 of these planning tools are helpful for a more organized life. She had a great hint to offer me during this chapter that I just really haven't ever thought of. Color coding the calendar and planner! Why had I never thought of this? I color code my children lol but I never thought about it pouring out into my life. This is something that I have started doing last week after reading and redoing our homeschool planner. It is so much easier to look at a glance and see the color (child or event/topic).

I always have a running to do list and it helps me stay on focus so much! I recommend this for every household!

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard"

7- We Interrupt This Program

 This chapter is dedicated on how to deal with those interruptions that always come up in our life. The perception of the stay at home mom is exactly like Mary states in this book - They have nothing else to do so let's call them! I dealt with this for the first few years I homeschooled but eventually to save my sanity and schooling with my children came to the point that no phone would be answered during our instructional time, we actually purchased a phone that had a "Do Not Disturb" button for me to push while schooling, so we never heard the phone ring to distract us and I honestly have to say this saved me at that point and time. I don't use it as much now as I did but it was needed badly at one time in our family.

Here she also talks about social media and internet usage being great however it is a hindrance if you allow it to be!

8 - It's Time for an Attitude Adjustment

Attitude adjustment?? Ohh man does this hurt! This is an area that I struggle with almost daily but Mary talks about it being a struggle for her too.

9 - Oxygen Masks and Monkey Bread Days

This talks about taking care of you mom! Yes you. Your worth taking care of although we are normally the last one we think to do anything for. This is a challenge for most mothers I feel and I know most of my homeschool friends has the same struggle. Just remember that your actions speak louder than words and you want to give your children good habits and how better to give them that than to show them it. Mary talks about how you should make it a priority to spend time in your spiritual walk daily and I believe here again we show our children God is most important when they see us in His word.

"Don't sacrifice sleep." I try not to but I admit this is something I do.

I have to admit that this is as far as I have gotten. I am still digging away at the book and have learned so much on how to Flourish and thrive better in my every day life but I look very forward to the rest of the chapters that I have to read.

10 - Training Your Child

11 - Making Memories

12 - Managing Your Home 

13 - All of Life Is Learning

14 - Solo Act - Flourishing as a Single Mom

15 - Home Business

16 - Moving Ahead

At the end of each chapter you have a "Take Action!" section that goes over questions and to do activities to help you understand and put into action what Mary has talked about in her book.

There are quotes and encouragement all throughout this book and I found them to be awesome! I loved reading the quotes (its a personal favorite).

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday Week 48

 Kyle finished his last item that completed his 8th grade year. He worked hard through that Painless American Government book for 3 months and proud to say he did great! 

 Yummy green beans! Thanks Kev for always canning! 

 Boys & Rover playing in the front yard.

My beautiful birthday girl! 

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Happy Birthday Alexis

Happy 11th Birthday My Baby Girl.

We love you tons and are so happy that God sent you to our lives and family. I hope you have a wonderfully blessed day with all your favorite things! 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

All About Spelling Update

{ This post contains affiliate links }

Since its "summer time" I figured I would try to update on all the curriculum we are going to continue to use and have loved. All About Spelling has been something I have bragged about for years.

We have used Levels 1 - 4. 

Zachary is 9 and is in level 1. He has also completed their awesome series All About Reading Pre & 1. 

Alexis has completed levels 1 - 3 and is in level 4 near the end.

Kyle has completed levels 1 - 4 and I need to purchase level 5 by the end of August.

So let me tell you a little about why we love it so well.

1 - I love that AAS is simple for me as the teacher/parent to use. It breaks things down for me to understand. I was so scared when I started teaching spelling to my children because obviously this subject is very important and I was just scared I would mess it up. Well with AAS you can't!

2 - I love that All About Spelling engages my children. There are so many ways to do one lesson for the child that can't sit still or needs hands on learning. I have 3 children that have done awesome using All About Spelling and each have their own learning style. All About Spelling uses a multisensory approach.

3 - I love the mastery teaching that All About Spelling provides. My children can move at their own pace simply because AAS lessons go at the pace the child can learn.

4 - All About Spelling can be used over and over. This isn't consumable and personally with 3 children that speaks volumes to me! I have to out of pocket expense once and I have it for the other 2 children. Being on a very tight homeschool budget this has been something that has blessed me time and time again.

Alright so if your looking for something to teach spelling or reading All About Learning Press is the first stop I would make. I am so glad that several years ago a friend & therapist recommended it to our family. If I wouldn't have found it I know for certain that my children would not have the success they have had!


Monday, July 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday July 14


Menu planning has taken a back seat since I started working and I must say my family has suffered. I decided last week it wasn't fair to leave the house and not have at least everything prepped for them to cook or for it to be fixed and just need heated. At the end of the week last week I started and it worked good just more work for me before I leave but that's alright.

Sour Kraut & Dogs

Sweet & Sour Chicken
White Rice 

Country Style Steak
Mashed Potatoes
Green Beans

Baked Apples

Baked Tacos

Left Overs


Friday, July 11, 2014

WriteShop Junior E { Review }

I was so happy to have a chance to review WriteShop's new Junior E book with my daughter! This curriculum is some of my favorite. I have known about WriteShop for several years. They introduced me to a great way to teach writing in a fun way when my oldest hated to write. I have to add that their prompt cards are wonderful! All 3 of my children have enjoyed them and have written some wonderfully delightful stories from them! I believe we have used those for 4 school years! 

I received a physical copy of the Teacher's Guide $45.95 and Time Saver Pack $14.95 however I received a digital download of the Activity Pack $35.50 and the Junior Writer's Notebook $3.50. Each of the items has a physical book price and a download price so that should help your pocket!

WriteShop Book E is the newest release from Kim Kautzer & Nancy Sanders. This set is recommended for 4th and 5th graders but like almost all of their items you can use for sixth and seventh graders that may be struggling or have not yet had a formal writing instruction. I am using Book E with my 5th grader. She has had no issue at all using this book and although some of the teaching like Dialogue & Fable where new words for her she actually understood the meaning by the end of the lesson.

The lessons we have learned so far have been

Writing a Fable
Writing With Humor
Writing an Adventure
Writing Science Fiction

The teacher guide provided me with a book list that was VERY helpful to help introduce each of the types of writing genre's (like above Fable, Science Fiction) to her and for her be able to see the style of writing for her understanding.

Also in the teacher guide you will find lesson plans for you to get a good routine established. Also it helps to give you every supply you will need for each lesson.

The Student Activity Pack is the only other item besides the teacher guide that is required to teach this successfully. The digital version that I got was great because I was able to print off a paper if I needed another! One morning she spilt orange juice on the table but normally I would totally freak but this time I didn't have to - Simply going to my computer was all I needed! The student pack has all the worksheets and activities that is needed through the entire course.

The lessons have varied in length for us, some lessons have took a week and others longer so I personally suggest you going at your child's ability level. The teacher guide has a suggestion on a 3 week lesson plan which would last 1 year having 2 days off per week but there is a 2 week lesson plan allowing for 1 day off per week finishing it faster. This is not an independent course; the teacher is an absolute necessity. 

Along with the Activity Pack there is a Fold N Go Grammar folder that teaches:

Lesson 1-Punctuation Marks
Lesson 2- Self-editing
Lesson 3- Nouns
Lesson 4- Pronouns
Lesson 5- Verbs
Lesson 6- Adjectives
Lesson 7- Adverbs
Lesson 8- Prepositions
Lesson 9- Capitalization
Lesson 10- References

This was a great resource since we have finished our English/grammar for the year! Wonderful way to help those skills stay current.

WriteShop always has my back when it comes to time consuming materials - Because they lay everything out for you and you need nothing more than what is supplied. I highly suggest always purchasing the Time Saver Pack it has always been a life saver for my time and sanity! This package is just a package of short cuts for the parent! It is ready made props for your activities needed in the lessons. You could make your own but I will honestly tell you if you have the extra money you really will benefit from this purchase.

The Junior Writer's Notebook isn't long only 23 pages but it helps to inspire your kids to write more in an organized way. This is an optional item for Book E. My daughter loved this item. I printed it all out and stapled together for her and she actually used this enough for me to print her a second. She loves writing stories but had never had tools to map her writing out to gather her idea. I had taught her to story web at one time but she found that she loved this notebook for her brainstorming.

Find WriteShop around the web:

Also they publish a blog that has wonderful information for you!

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