My Top Homeschool Resources

This week, my sister made the comment that she is considering homeschooling my niece for Kindergarten and 1st grade.  While I am not one with the patience to do anything like that, props to her!  But it got me thinking, as she asked her “teacher friends” about resources.  Even though I don’t homeschool my kids, I subscribe to many blogs that make learning at home a lot easier.  I’m that crazy mom that makes her kids learn over the summer (don’t worry, they get more than enough play time!).  And I’m glad I do.  Over this past summer, my daughter jumped 7 reading levels.  I think I’ll take it over the summer slide.

Here are some of the recommendations I gave her, and I hope they help you too!

Teachers Pay Teachers – You don’t have to be a teacher to join this site, and you don’t always have to pay.  There are many free resources available every week.

Teachers Notebook – Similar to Teachers Pay Teachers, you don’t have to be a teacher, and there are often free resources.

Educents – This website offers deals on homeschool material all the time, sometimes even free!

These are some of the blogs I follow that offer homeschool deals:

Free Homeschool Deals – A great site with a host of free homeschool deals; I find a ton of stuff from here!

Homeschool Creations – While there’s not as much available here, I still find a lot of good resources, sometimes some additional deals and freebies.

Intoxicated on Life – Mostly scripture copywork, but also has some other good resources for homeschooling

if you are thinking of homeschooling, a homeschooling mom friend of mine suggests contacting your local homeschool association.  You can locate them on google.  No matter how you use these resources, good luck!  And let me know which ones are your favorites!

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Word Searches for Preschoolers and Young Elementary – FREE PRINTABLES!

Last week, we planned to stay at home all week and do some different home activities.  One activity I had on our bucket list for the summer was to do a word search or crossword puzzle.  I was somewhat limited, as the kids I was planning for are 3 and 6.  There’s only so much they can do with a word search and a crossword puzzle.

So after a bit of searching through some blogs, my favorite websites, and (of course!) Pinterest, I ended up with these:

Curious George Word Search

I found this Curious George Word Search on TeacherVision.com.  Every so often I find some good free printables on here like this one.  If you’d like to download this resource, click on the word find image above.  I used this one for Rapunzel, who is 6 and who will be entering first grade.

A-Z Letter Hunt Worksheets by Confessions of a Homeschooler

Since Tinkerbell is only in preschool, I found it more appropriate to give her a Letter Hunt instead.  I found a few things I liked, but what I ended up with was this resource from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I gave her letters A-D on Monday, and she did very well with them!  I will definitely have her finish this packet for more practice.  If you click on the image above, you will be linked to the site, where you can download this free resource.  There are many letter printables listed; this one is called A-Z Letter Hunt Worksheets.

Hope you enjoy these as much as I did!

I Forgot My Sneakers (at the Gym)

I Forgot My Sneakers - Making the Most Blog

Nope.  I’m not kidding.  I got myself all the way down to the gym, opened my gym bag, and realized it.  I forgot my sneakers!

And my sports bra.

And my headphones.

And I had gone out of my way in the morning to make sure I remembered a change of clothes and a pair of socks ready for the gym.

I couldn’t believe myself.

But I couldn’t leave!  The front desk had seen me come in, and they know my face; they know my schedule.  So which would be more embarrassing–leaving right after I came in?  Or working out in what I had?

I decided the lesser of the two evils was just to work out in what I had.

I was sure that everyone was looking at me and inwardly laughing.  But I kept trying to tell myself that I don’t really pay attention to what everyone else is wearing, so maybe I would be lucky and no one would notice…that I was wearing my socks with my flats.  Yep.  Socks and flats.

I have to say, it’s not very easy to take a walk in flats.  Thankfully I didn’t have much time to work with anyway, so I just took a 15-minute walk.  I quickly changed into my flip flops before leaving the building so no one else could see what I worked out in.

This awkward situation reminded me of how unprepared for life we often are.

When I was pregnant with Rapunzel, I had planned to give her up for adoption.  I was 19, unmarried, and was no longer in a relationship with her father (long story).  I was in college and working in retail; I knew I couldn’t provide for her like I wanted, and, having been a child of divorced parents, I wanted her to be a child of a two-parent home.

But everything changed in the hospital after her birth.  Her father arrived for delivery and, the following day, announced that he would not sign the paperwork for her adoption.  My options were slim: I could sign away my rights to the new family I had chosen with the chance her father would fight it and win; then he would raise her (and if you knew his history, you wouldn’t want that either).  Not only that, but then the family would be heart-broken anyway and my daughter would have to try to bond with someone else during a time when she had already developed an attachment to another.  So I made the only choice I felt I had: the adoption was off.

And I cried.

our first night at home - I Forgot My Sneakers - Making the Most Blog

Here I was, 19 years old, without my four-year degree, working in retail, living at home, and single.  With a new baby.  This was not the life I had planned for my daughter.  Or myself for that matter.  I had no crib.  No car seat.  No diapers.  No clothes.  Nothing.  I was so afraid.  And unprepared.

But God gave me the gifts I needed for that time in my life in order to survive.

Friends, family, church members–they came out of the woodwork to support me.  My stepmom picked up a car seat, the family I babysat for gave me a crib and a mattress, and my friends and church sent diapers, wipes, blankets, and clothes–more than I could have ever asked for.

And their support was tremendous.  The first time I took her to church, everyone wanted to hold her.  During her first year, they fed her, rocked her, held her, and loved her.  And they loved me for me–a young, single mother.

WIth their help, and with my own instinct, the Word, and the help of Kevin Leman and Dr. James Dobson, I survived.  And with the help of friends and family, I worked hard to earn my associates degree and provide for my daughter.

God provided what I needed to get me through that difficult time.  And in time, he provided what I wanted the most for my daughter–a father.

That first year, I felt like I did at the gym: in my socks and flats, unprepared, clueless.  But nobody judged me for my preparedness, I worked with what I had, and we got through it.

Are you feeling unprepared today?  How have you been able to work with what you have to get by?

1 Year and Counting…

Wow!  What a fun (and busy!) summer we had.  Now we’re in the midst of fall and school, soccer seasons, and Wednesday night church programs, homework, and planning for the fall.  Does the busyness ever end?

I wanted to post a little over a week ago but, as usual, ran out of time!  I was excited to (internally) celebrate my one year anniversary of being a (sort of) stay at home mom!  October 1 was my first official day as an unemployed mother, and I can honestly I would never go back.  While the circumstances that surrounded my leaving my full-time job were thoroughly discouraging, I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had in the last year for anything!

I have no doubt that God was at work when he allowed me to leave full time employment.  Only two months into 2013 I had already had to grieve two loved ones and take time off to attend viewings/funerals.  There’s no way my full time job would have allowed that, as neither of the individuals who passed were immediate family.  I had the opportunity to volunteer for Kid Writing numerous times, went on field trips I never could have attended otherwise, and had the opportunity to attend other school functions.

I had a summer off!  (Well, mostly.)  We worked around my part-time work schedule, and I got to take my family to many different parks around the county, libraries, have playdates (my favorite was spa day!), color, read together, snuggle together, make crafts, and more.

I was able to start working out regularly at the gym–something I definitely wouldn’t have time for as a full-time working mom.  I’m working back toward being healthy.

And best of all, I’m able to drop Rapunzel off at the bus stop in the morning, drop off Tinkerbell at preschool three days a week, put in my hours, pick up Tinkerbell from preschool, and still get Rapunzel off the bus–something my full-time job wouldn’t budge on (we’ll just leave it at that.)  And in the meantime I get to help out my working friends who need to get their kids to and from school.

I love how God can take rotten circumstances and turn in them into something beautiful.  When has He done this for you?

Teaching Kids to Set the Table – FREE PRINTABLE!

One goal of mine last week was to begin teaching my kids to set the table.  Now, seeing as I have a teenager, a pre-teen, an elementary-schooler, and a preschooler, you may be wondering what took me so long.  Well, I don’t know how things work at your house, but over here it doesn’t matter how many times I tell them–they always forget!  So this time I found the perfect solution.

I LOVE this printable placemat that I found at Parents Magazine website.  They usually have a lot of good resources for activities, crafts, printables, and plain old parenting advice.  I wasn’t actually looking for a placemat printable on their website; I just ran across it, and I’m so glad I did!  Click on the image below to download this FREE printable:

Printable Place Mat from Parents Magazine

 

After printing it out, I laminated it and set it out for Rapunzel and Tinkerbell.  They took to it right away.  It wasn’t much later that Cinderella discovered it and wanted one for herself, so I went ahead and printed one for both her and Wendy.  This is SO easy!  Not only do they have a fun new placemat, but they also have a visual example for when they DO set the table–hopefully this will help them remember when they’re gone!  Right now we’ve been on track putting everything in the right place, and the only question I received was, “Where does the bowl go?” (lol)

I’d definitely recommend this as a resource for learning to set the table–and now I know it goes for any age! Try it out yourself!

Summer Scavenger Hunt (with FREE Printable!)

I know it’s been a while since my last post.  I must have had a crazy week, because it’s been a blur and now I can’t remember what on earth I did.  I can tell you I didn’t do anything I had planned, that’s for sure!

I did spend most of the day planning for the next two weeks at home, searching activities, creating activities, moving plans around, etc.  One thing I was looking for was a summer scavenger hunt.  I couldn’t find a whole lot online that I really liked, and I had my own things in mind anyway, so I made one up myself.  I’d love for it to be a little snazzier, but I don’t have great access to good graphics right now so this is what I have.

When you look closer at it, don’t freak out.  I’ve created this scavenger hunt to be a summer-long hunt.  This scavenger hunt is not meant to be completed in a day!  If you want to complete it in a day, by all means go ahead…but this is supposed to allow the kids to keep their eyes open all summer, notice certain things when they go somewhere different, and learn in the process.

Click on the image below to access the FREE printable!

Summer Scavenger Hunt - FREE Printable

PLEASE NOTE: If you’d like to share this printable, please do not post the PDF.  Instead, please link to my blog page.  Thanks!

Good Fathers

father and two daughters

My dad, my sister, and I in the 1980s (I’m the little one)

Today wouldn’t be complete without a tribute to fathers.

I had considered writing a regular ol’ post just because I haven’t for a while and I wanted to catch up, but instead I decided it just wouldn’t be right to post anything different on Father’s Day.

I’m a lucky girl.  A blessed girl.  I have a wonderful father.

Sure, my dad has his faults.  For one, he is generally late.  Secondly, he is a terrible mess (some days I’m not sure where I come from, because I’m a neat freak and he is so…NOT).  And last, he has a tendency not to say things that need to be said.  Like that he loves his daughters.  That he’s proud of us.

If it weren’t for his random acts of kindness, I’m not sure I would know he does.  His phone calls during the day when he’s on a long drive and he’s “BORED” to the cash he slips me when he knows my family is struggling to the times he stops by my office to drop off a Reese’s peanut butter cup or a Pepsi just because…that’s how I know my dad loves me.

But most of all, I know my dad loves me, because he raised us.  From the time I was still an infant until I was ten years old, my dad was a single dad.  Even in the 80s and 90s that was unusual, but my dad did it.  And not just the kind of single dad who had his kids every other weekend.  He was the single dad who had us 24/7.  And my sister and I are 15 months apart.  I don’t know how he did it.  Thank goodness for babysitters and grandparents.

Speaking of grandparents, the second best man that ever lived is my grandpa.  If you ever wanted to meet a saint, you’d have to meet my grandpa.  I’m not sure if there is a single fault in that gentleman.  Maybe that he likes sweets too much.  🙂  When my dad would go away on business trips, we’d fly out to see my grandparents and stay with them for a while.  We had such fun.  My grandma is gone now, but we still have my grandpa, and I’m so glad my kids have had the opportunity to meet him.  He is a man that everyone admires and looks up to and loves.  I hope one day I can be as good a person as he.

I should probably get in trouble that Prince Charming is not #1 on the list, but at least he’s made the top 3!  As a single dad, my hubby helped to raise his daughters on his own.  While there were certain things out of his control, he certainly did his best to raise his daughters right.  He’s a great disciplinarian (when I am not), though when I go away…well…that’s a different story.  And even though he picks on our girls WAY too much, you can tell he loves them.  His fault is in that he is just like my dad and doesn’t tell them enough.  I just hope they see it in the way that I see it through my dad.  I’ve been blessed to marry a man who accepted my daughter as his own and was crazy enough to have another one with me.

And even though a few years ago, I never would have said this, I have to say Happy Father’s Day to Rapunzel’s father.  His is still very much missed and loved by many, and even though we went through some very difficult times, I have been so blessed to have Rapunzel.  I would not be the person I am today without him.

I’ve had many male figures to look up to throughout my life.  I’m blessed in that.  I know there are many who never have a father.  But I am truly grateful for the fathers who love and support their children and do whatever it takes to be there for them.  As much as they drive us crazy, the world is a better place with good fathers.

Hello Summer!

Well, as I announced to my Facebook friends earlier today, as of today we are officially parents of a preschooler, an elementary schooler, a middle schooler, and a high schooler!  I don’t know whether to be excited or scared!

No matter how you look at it, one thing is true: it’s summer, and the kids are out of school.  Now officially begins our Summer of Fun 2013!  I’m so excited for more first summer (mostly) at home!  You have seen my calendar already, so you know we are booked for more fun than we can handle.  We’ve already started some activities, as my last week’s posts have indicated.

Unfortunately, due to some unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to do a few activities this week, but after Tinkerbell’s end-of-year preschool picnic today, we were able to squeeze in some of those.

little girl playing Pop the PIg game

Game Day was supposed to be on Wednesday, but we were able to fit that in today.  Kids this young still have a relatively short attention span, so this didn’t take long.  Our first goal for Game Day was to play a favorite game.  TInkerbell loves Pop the Pig, so we played that one first.

Our next task was to play a game we had never played before.  Surprisingly enough, we found one.  Thank goodness–Rapunzel’s teacher sent home foam dice and a few summer worksheets, one being a dice games packet and one a card game packet (learning activities in disguise!).  We played one of each.

I love these packets that the teacher sent home–they’ll keep the kids’ brains working over the summer so they don’t lose that important segment during their time off.

Last thing today: dance party!  This didn’t last very long either.  The kids didn’t want to do a whole lot right away, but once they got into it, it was dance party turned ring-around-the-rosie slash horseplay followed by some rest time on the floor.

I’m looking forward to the park’s fun day tomorrow. it’s supposed be chilly but not rainy and the kids always have fun there.

What did you do with your kids on the last day of school?

Plans Foiled (Again!): Learning to Adjust When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned

Yesterday, my plans were foiled again.

While I was working at church, a friend stopped in to visit.  I had Tinkerbell with me, as she needed to be picked up early from preschool for a short day (they only had preschool graduation practice yesterday).  Suddenly (and when I suddenly, I mean it!)–she started crying hysterically, holding her ear and telling me that it hurt and it was “bubbling”.  Whenever she did stop crying, it wasn’t for long.  She’s had the sniffles and a cough in the morning and evening hours for about three weeks now, so I figured I ought to take her to the doctor right away.  Luckily, I was able to set up an appointment for 1:30 and went straight there from work.  Bet you can’t guess what the issue was.

Yep–ear infection.

Ordinarily, I would try to fix it myself.  Check out my link for earache remedies here.  But with end-of-year activities coming up, I hated for her to miss them.  So we went with the antibiotics right now.  While we were there they gave her some Tylenol, and finally, about half-way home, she finally calmed down.  Now, you’d never be able to tell there was a problem.

As a side note, did you ever wonder why they don’t make adult medicines taste good?  It’s just not fair.

Needless to say, we didn’t have game day yesterday, but I’m hoping we can (maybe) squeeze it in today after our dance party.  Though if we can’t, I can always tack it on to something else.

That’s the thing about making plans.  If you’re going to survive life as a Type A personality (like me!), you need to learn to be flexible–which means flip-flopping plans if necessary, squeezing it in some other time, or just agreeing to wait until a better time in the future.  If you don’t, you’ll go insane.  Believe me–I know!

So whatever your plans are this summer, I hope you relax and go with the flow, adjusting where necessary.  Happy relaxing!

A Day In the Park

two little girls running toward lake

Yesterday was a very eventful (but good!) day.  My intention was to go by the calendar and head for the rail trail in the afternoon/early evening.  That wasn’t quite how things worked out, but…as I’ve said before–some of the best laid plans are foiled.  This foiling turned out okay though.

This morning, I dropped Tinkerbell off for her very last day of regular preschool this year.  *sniff*  I came home, did as much as I could in forty-five minutes, and left again to help Rapunzel’s kindergarten teacher with Watermelon Math Day.  Let me just say…thank God (literally!) for kindergarten teachers!  I don’t know how they do it!  I most certainly don’t have the patience for a class full of 20 rowdy five- and six-year olds!  Anyway, Rapunzel was thrilled to have me help her class, and I love being able to take part in her education.

After picking up Tinkerbell from preschool, doing some work for my dad, and finishing up some more chores around the house, we all piled into the car for a forty-five minute drive to another Home Depot.  Prince Charming wanted to pick up a new hose that was apparently a great deal this week ($20 for a 100-foot hose), and this particular store was the closest that had one in stock.

While we were out that direction, we decided to do some rubbings for the summer park program.  Sure beats driving out there a second time later.

The first post was relatively easy to find.  There was a playground nearby, so we let the kids run around for a little bit before moving on with our adventure.

The second post was about a mile or so into the woods over a bumpy, rocky trail with lots of roots and trees across the path.  This would have been a lot easier without a stroller, but I know for sure that Tinkerbell would not have made it even halfway in.  This trail was tough but provided for some good photography.

two geese and their goslings

The last trail was only half a mile, but I’d have to say it was the most gorgeous–I don’t know if it was just the terrain or the weather, but I got some great photos and took in some wonderful scenery.  What was even better was that we got to see a family of geese.  This ordinarily wouldn’t be special, but we saw the mommy and daddy goose with their fluffy goslings!  We were able to get close enough where the parents even began hissing at us.  We also saw a water snake at the edge of the lake.  This was the highlight of Tinkerbell’s day–not mine!

I’m so glad we were able to go out on such a lovely day as a family.  I’m looking forward to our next adventure already!