Thursday, January 28, 2016

Our Homeschool Room {and some curriculum}

Do I have any readers who homeschool?

I get asked quite often which curriculum we use, where we "homeschool" and how my day is spent, so I wanted to do a mini-series, for lack of a better word, where I approach these questions.

Today I'm going to introduce you to our homeschool room and a few of our main books that we use.


Firstly, my most important tip would be to STAY ORGANISED. It is easy to visit a bunch of sites that tackle homeschooling, and to get overwhelmed and think you need allthethings. You don't. My first year I made this mistake and went with a strict curriculum, with certain specific books picked out for me. I realized about a month or so into it that it was not the best path for us. 
We have five children, 3 that are doing school. (1 kinder, and 2 first grade) and all our children have different personalities and I found myself doing exactly what I feared would happen at school. Trying to have one mold and fit them all into it. Needless to say, this failed. But since I had spent money on it, we decided to adapt it to ourselves while still keeping the books we'd been given.  It was an expensive mistake, as the curriculum was not cheap, and we had created the homeschool room at the same time, so a lot of $$ went out that year.
We are now in year two of homeschool and things make a lot more sense this year. I made a trip to Barnes and Noble and had a much better experience picking out the curriculum myself according to how I wanted to teach. Keep in mind, each state is different and so your requirements might be different. We are in Ohio, and the rules for us are to report that we are homeschooling, get permission from the district and then show proof of work at the end of the year. 

*****

Ok, I will take you on a tour of our school room and give you info along the way, this way i'm covering most of the important stuff for you... 

 I bought this caddy from Target for $3 and I keep all the basic every day supplies in it, and make sure they are full, sharp and working so we don't have the "my pencil is blunt" excuse over and over. Trust me, they will use it if you allow it!!!
I keep glue sticks, glue, coloured pencils, regular pencils with erasers, crayons and felt tip pens in it at all times. 

This is the spot for the extra supplies. We use an ikea cube storage, 4 spots left empty for books, and 4 spots have the drawer installations. In the caddys (also from Target) I keep just a bunch of markers, dry erase pens, pencils, crayons etc.  In the drawers are maths supplies, paints, crafting bits etc. and all are marked with a label so the children know where to find stuff.


This is the desk for computer work. We don't do a whole bunch of this yet. I'm thinking 2nd grade will be more work done using typing etc. I keep my "what a 1st grader needs to know" book on hand here too (the white and yellow book). This book is AWESOME if you want to be sure you are on task with their learning. We try to stay organised with where we are at and so our progress records are all on file so at the end of the year we know what we need to hand in.

You'll also notice our diffuser on the left. Yes, that cool looking thing has a great function! We rarely have a homeschool day where we are diffusing. We go between calming blends and focus blends, depending on the kind of day we are having. I'd LOVE to direct you in this if it's something you're interested in. We truly believe in the power of essential oils helping with our learning and our frame of mind. They are very much a part of our homeschool room. If you'd like info on the ones we use specifically feel free to contact me! (shop for oils here)


We like to do visual pieces to decorate our school room with, and the children love having something they can show people who visit.  Don't forget the little fun projects you can create when things get a little monotonous during the day. 



Having a clock on the wall is great as a teaching aid. You can assign a different person each day to be time keeper and who let's the teacher know when it's time for break, or a different activity. 


We use this map a bunch, and are going to start a project here soon using it to mark off the places we have visited or want to visit, using different stickers. Visual aids are important! We also have a world map on the other side, which can be written on with dry erase markers. That one has been a great teaching tool. The dry erase board is fantastic when you are teaching the group. Many a diagram has been drawn on here! (hanging in the corner are our paint overalls)

 
 These are some books we have collected along our homeschool journey. We love using reference books, and even though we use the internet for youtube videos (there are a bunch of great teaching tools on there), I prefer using books as each child can take one and use it without needing my help. 




These are some of their reading books that we are doing book reviews on. I read these aloud and then we discuss social issues, or their thoughts on the content. I will detail a book review one day for you, as they enjoy those projects. We tend to read a bunch of classics, and also use audio books (detailed in an older post) to get them familiar with stories and story format. The more you read or they are exposed to literature, the better! (I also feel the same about music. We often have classical music playing during school to encourage concentration and also questions about the music itself!)


This is a pretty good tool for history that helps give them an idea of where in time things happen. They cut out a picture, colour it and stick it in their timeline as we study each thing. We got this with the curriculum we bought the first year, and this is one thing we kept as I liked it alot. (the curriculum was sonlight. If you are big on routine and a TON of reading and busy work, then it is a great curriculum, we just prefer a more laid back, learn as we go style. I like incorporating a bunch of lessons into something that interests them. (A form of "unschooling" I suppose.)


This is a pretty great series for learning to read and write. We kept this from the sonlight curriculum.


These are our main books (other than history, art, music etc) that we use every day. We have completed the science, and almost the geography and will move onto 2nd grade next. The Harcourt Family complete curriculum has been great for us. It's thorough, engaging and challenging. We haven't touched the test prep section as it's not something i'm keen to do until they are confident.

Well that's it for now, I need to get back to my daughter's homeschool, I will go into more detail about how I approach the arts and history next time. 

If you have any questions about how/why we homeschool i'd be happy to answer, so either comment below or send a message using the tool in the sidebar.

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Stay Well ~xoxo

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

A homemade gift {the non "hokie" type, I hope.}

Hey Friends! I told you I would pop back to post my little homemade gift for the husband, so here I am. It's our anniversary, and so far has been a peaceful day, I think we are planning on an indoor picnic and movie tonight after the children go to bed, so I'm looking forward to that.
So I don't spend too long on this blog i'll give you a quick run down of what I did for his gift. I painted a simple picture with a little message. It's simple but thoughtful at the same time, don't feel intimidated by the idea of "painting", this is YOUR art, there are no  rules, and definitely feel like you have to make a grand gesture to prove anything. Didn't everyone's mum/grandma always say: "It's the thought that counts!" ;) 

Before I began, I looked up the traditional gifts that are associated with wedding anniversaries, and ours is 9 years, Willow/Pottery (modern day: Leather), I decided to go with willow as I thought I could incorporate that into my picture. 

I grabbed my watercolours, a paintbrush and a piece of watercolour paper and found a frame that I could repurpose, and went to work. I kept it simple just enjoyed a little painting time. {side note: I must have removed Archer from the table 100,000,000 times, and I was also overlooking Summer's homeschool work, the younger boys had about 100 arguments I had to break up, and I was being shown lego model after lego model by the eldest that I had to "ooh" and "ahhh" at. So YES, this is something you can do WHILE you "Mummy". Haha!}

I used a sharpie to do the writing, It wasn't my best calligraphy (or painting) by far, but re-read the obstacles I had then maybe cut me some slack?? Haha! I figured it would add to the "charm" of the piece...he knew I would have had to squeeze a project like this in, and so that makes it all the more special. Right??! 



 If you don't have watercolours, I highly reccomend them. They are SO easy to work with
and I've had these a fair bit of time, I just wipe them clean so they last me.

Well, I better get back to homeschool and life this morning, maybe plan a recipe for tonight,
but i wanted to to get on here real quick to share this gift idea with you. 
Hope you like it!! 
I'll leave you with a few of the candid pics from our wedding, that so often get overlooked. 
The happiness is pretty clear. 5 children later and a whole lot of "life", and I'm even happier. 
He was the one then, and still is now. 


Stay well, ~xoxo

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

How to make {Macarons}






I wanted to make something fun for our anniversary (which is tomorrow) but we don't have funds right now to go out and get specific things, so I had to think about what we had around the house already. I did a quick search of the baking cabinet, and found all the ingredients for Macarons, and they seemed perfectly fitting for the occasion. I used the same recipe from Archer's birthday, which can be found here. Beware, her blog is littered with SO MANY delightful looking treats...you might get distracted from the task in hand. I know I have been in the past.

I wanted to do a quick step by step pictures for you, as i've had success so far with them, so thought it might help seeing what things looked for. Unfortunately my camera died before they came out of the oven so I just used the ones from August to show the end product.

Hope these pics help. My one bit of advice is to read the directions through, including her tips. I didn't have parchment paper this time, and that really helps with the foot in my opinion, since I had to oil the pans they were affected and didn't rise as well. SO STICK TO HER DIRECTIONS!!


 Make sure all ingredients are out and prepped beforehand.
This was pre-sugar. (I don't buy the fine sugar, I throw my regular sugar in the ninja for a couple seconds and save on the extra $$)

Your sugared egg whites should be stiff and shiny.
 Don't be tempted to skip the sieve step!! It's important!

 Add the colour at this stage or before you add the dry mix. Just don't over stir.
 A good tip for filling your bag is to hang it over a glass so you can have a steady hand while filling.
 Remember...PARCHMENT PAPER works best!! 

I use Martha Stewarts macaron filling, which is perfect as far as not being too sweet.

I hand made a little gift too, which I'll have to share tomorrow, since the husband often comes on here and I don't want to ruin it. :) 

It's our WILLOW anniversary, (or "pottery", or modern day "leather"), so that's NINE years for us. Pretty wild how fast the years pass. I'll check in tomorrow to share the gift idea I had.


{In keeping with the "sweet" theme, here's a picture of our wedding cake, nine years ago.
Right before I had a big piece shoved in my face. Yes...he didn't hold back, and totally ruined my makeup!!  Don't worry, I got him just as good. ;) }


Stay well, ~xoxo

Sunday, January 10, 2016

When the Dollar Spot at Target is on point....{Haul pics}


Oh my goodness guys....if you live in the States and have a Target near you, you should go. Is anyone else a lover of all things Target?? So I love their Dollar Spot as a rule, for the gems you so often find, but today was particularly awesome. I am a big "planner", so in turn I love all things planner related, and in the dollar spot today I found SUCH cute things for those of us who are OCD, organizationally minded and who love nonsense things that most people will never understand. I did us all a favour and bought a few of the pieces, you know, so I could take pictures for YOU guys, I mean, it's only polite! ;)  (may have bought a few bits for my mum too because she also dies over this stuff!)
Here are the pics and descriptions from today's haul:

 So they had these cute little mini ring binder folders and sold separately different inserts, that had three hole punches that fit perfectly. They had daily/weekly planner type calendar, flag stickers for planning, tear out notepad, dividers, journal type pages and more. seriously, these things are awesome, and everything priced at either $1 or $3. So basically you can put together a perfect planner with add-ons for less than $12. Bargain!!! You can also go to their stationary section and find more bits to fit these style folders, so it's not exclusively found in the dollar spot, so no fear if it leaves after the season. These prints/styles are SUPER cute. Gold and dusty pastel colours, and stripes/floral prints.



These felt envelopes which they had this time last year and sold out SUPER fast. We had a bunch at ours today, but maybe it was the day they put them out? They are $1 and have so many potential uses, including just toting your planner accessories around (pens, stickers etc.). Matching pencils with erasers to the planner folders. Some floral and another pack that had all the days of the week in gold on them. Seriously SO cute!
Look how cute this wall calendar is. $3. The writing is in gold foil and looks gorgeous, the picture somehow butchered that part, apologies. But wall calendars are usually at least $12+ so I sort of loved this.

They had SO much more to choose from, but I had a budget (I just returned a sweater so I was spending the equivalent of that....) but lots of stationary, knickknacks, signage, fairy lights, containers etc. So much cuteness that are not only perfect for yourself, but for gifts. 


Now off of the stationary side of things, I found a few cute little accent pieces for our mantle and entryway for Valentines season. I can't have a bare mantle, and don't have the spare $$ to decorate the mantle in a more permanent way yet. {Restoration Hardware better watch out for when i'm ready, i'll be busting their doors down when we can justify spending $$ on frivalous decor! ;) } 
But for now I use the dollar spot to decorate for the seasons and it fills in blank spaces and 
makes the house feel festive. 

Love the Gold theme they have going on right now, and I even branched off and went with the splash of hot pink too, because why not?!
 This cute hashtag and arrow sign below $1, the banner and the candle holder 
(bigger than a votive size) also $1.




These just fell in my cart too, a confetti popper (because, hello, CONFETTI!), pinwheel straws just because they're delightful and i'm sure we will have some cutesy picnic in the spring where they will be PERFECT, and darling polka treat bags.
 I couldn't leave this stripey milk jug either.... $1!!! Could you??

Ok, well there's the end of my Target dollar spot haul (now known as Bullseye's Playground, which I can't get on board with....). 
I felt I had to include my blog readers in what I got so you guys know whether you want to race there too. ;) 

Well, I hope you enjoy the rest of your sunday, we are off to our in-laws and are expecting a karaoke sesh from the children over there, so wish us luck!!

~Stay Well friends, xoxo

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sad day for candle lovers like myself....

I've been putting off writing this post. Seriously. It might seem trivial to some, but to me, an avid candle lover, it's dreadful. I found out the truth about candles and it's not good.

Let me begin the post with something I recently read here:
Though they seem safe, regular scented candles are a huge source of indoor air pollution and they put off chemicals that are considered just as dangerous as second-hand smoke. Paraffin is a petroleum waste product and has to be deodorized and chemically bleached before it can be made in to wax.
This here is another excellent article to read re. scented candles.

This is such rotten news to me, but to my husband probably happy news as candles are not cheap, and I burned through them. Literally.

There a bunches of issues with candles, including them finding certain heavy metals (which are illegal to use) in many of them, according to studies. Many unscented candles use parrafin which when burned is just as bad as breathing in second hand smoke, scented ones contain a combination of chemicals, many of which have shown in labs to disrupt hormones, and I was burning these around my children. This is depressing, I know. The same goes for those cute little plug-ins/sprays that we use. They contain SO MANY harmful toxins.  (See THIS article....)

I do however have a couple solutions for this bad news.
Image source

1. 100% beeswax candles. I actually grew up with these in our home. They have a lovely glow to them and smell naturally divine. Seriously. Not only are the lovely to burn and a safe alternative, but they have actual benefits. Doesn't get much better, right? They are hypoallergenic which is AWESOME and are "the only candle that emits negative ions to purify, cleanse, improve air quality, and invigorate the body. A natural ionizer!" (Source) Some people argue that they are expensive, but they are on par price wise with Bath and Body works, or target and Yankee Candle. One warning about beeswax candles, make SURE they are 100% pure. You will find that there are ones that state: "Pure" which in the US means it just has to be made up of 51%+ (can contain as little as 5% and a whole bunch of paraffin), thus leaving a bunch of other stuff to "make up" the rest, which could be the stuff we were avoiding in the first place. So 100% pure are the words you're looking for. I have researched a few spots for you, but if I were you I would ask on social media for a local spot. There are often beekeepers who will sell the pellets so you can even make your own. Sounds daunting, but appears to be not so bad. I will leave a link below with a site that takes you through it. I'd say it was worth the hard work, it also might be a fun activity for older children.

Some beeswax resources for you:
 2. To fix the plug in issues, simply replace the yuk stuff inside with safe alternatives (yes....my beloved OILLLLLS are coming out again!!)


I took step-by-step instructions, but to be honest, it's so straight forward you don't really need them.

1. Empty the cartridge by pulling out the wicks. 
(Use gloves if you have them. This smelly stuff is STRONG) 
2. Use a good soap to shake and rinse out the old product. It took
a few rinses to get all the residue out.
3. Rinse the wick type pieces off. This again took a while. I soaked mine for a 
while in the bottom of the sink in the Dr Bronner solution with warm water.
4. Choose an oil that is beneficial to you and your family. Joy seemed
perfect for us at the moment. Winter can be a bit rough cooped up in the house.
(For info on our oils of choice click the link in the sidebar or contact me!)
5. Add around 20-30 drops (seems a bit much but this lasts a long 
while and is beneficial to you and your family!)
6. Top up with distilled/filtered water. 
(Our faucet is hooked up to a drinkingwater filter from our well.)
7. Shake, then pop the wicks back in, then hook up to the original case.
DONE!



Hope this inspires you to change up some of these things in your home. I know it all seems a little dramatic, but we deserve to know this stuff. We should know what we are putting in the air around ourselves and our children. Things that mess with hormones and moods and even have carcinogens present, it's horrifying. Do some research, and get to know the products you choose to have in your home. If you choose to keep them, then at least you know what the risks are. I still choose to burn a scented candle if i'm in the bath, but I won't put them around the children anymore. We will always choose beeswax from now on, and as far as plug-ins and spray deoderizers? NEVER again.

Hope you are all surviving winter, and if you live somewhere that is warm in the winter....i'm very jealous. I miss the palm trees from Florida and the white sand....le sigh.

~ Stay well, xoxo

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

{The one where we went to Florida...}


Hello blog readers!

I figured I have a few posts to catch up on, but I wanted to share some vacation pics, because we just had the most delightful time spent with family over Christmas. We stayed with my husbands Aunt and Uncle in Clearwater area of Florida, and oh my days.....it was bliss, and SO needed. Despite the weather here in Ohio being unseasonably toasty {ok...not toasty, but not the normal finger numbing cold} we just needed a break from the monotony of every day life during the winter months.
This family are some of our most favourite people, and to say they were fun puts it mildly. We had a total blast and the kids fell into bed every night completely and utterly shattered.

From the moment we got there they were in the pool and basically didn't get out until dark, with a few meals thrown in here and there. We went to the beach and there they wouldn't get out of the ocean. I guess our littles are "beach bums" and I loved seeing them so happy....so obviously, we're going to have to move to a beach area. Haha! We were most surprised by our daughter who was brilliant on the boogie board, the best in fact. She has struggled a little with balance in the past, for instance riding a bike is still tricky for her, but the moment she tried this you could see her face light up. She even loved to "wipe out". It was so fun to watch her bonding with my husband's cousin too while he taught her some tricks of boogie boarding. We have some awesome family.

 We even managed to sneak in a girls morning, where we went to get our nails done (I got told I looked like Brooke Hogan (!!!!) by the owner who says Brooke comes in to get her nails done there, and that if I got gel nails and a pedi I might be able to find a husband. Hahahahaha!) and for a ladies lunch of basically every appetizer on the menu and tropical cocktails while the boys morning consisted of a boat trip and lunch. So nice to just have a parent time out with friends!

It was just lovely being around family that we rarely see, watching the children have a blast with them all and also being able to have some adult time in the evenings where we stayed up wildly late each night putting the world to rights and laughing...a lot. Even having an intense game of beer pong which i've never played before, but WON the championship along with my partner Connor, much to the distress of my competitive husband. Hahaha!

Well I will post some pics and have that be the rest of the explanation of our time away, and thank our fantastic hosts once again. They fed/sheltered/entertained a huge group of us and it was fun from start to finish.




Look at their faces. This was a dream of theirs, and I never imagined they'd catch anything,
let alone such awesome looking fish!
 
Me, my best friend and the hostess with the mostest!



Tell me these sandy feets don't melt your heart!?!













~Stay well, xoxo

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