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Posts Tagged With: family

The Japanese Art of Getting Rid of All Your Stuff

The Japanese Art of Getting Rid of All Your Stuff

If you haven’t heard about KonMari, you’re probably not on Facebook enough.  (Congratulations!)  Marie Kondo wrote The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanses Art of Decluttering and Organizing a few years ago, but the phenomenon recently hit the US.  She teaches you how to have a tidier house by getting rid of the clutter, i.e. everything.

The Japanese Art of Getting Rid of All Your Stuff

I can’t really explain the book, so you have to read the real thing if you’re interested.  But you start with clothes, hold everything you own, and instead of choosing what to get rid of you choose what to keep– only things that bring you joy.  The distinction is surprisingly more important than you’d think.

The Japanese Art of Getting Rid of All Your Stuff

When I started I thought I didn’t have a lot of clutter, since our house is an older home with little storage space.  I was wrong.  Using Marie’s criteria I’ve gotten rid of more than half of each category I’ve “KM’ed” (that’s KonMaried).

The Japanese Art of Getting Rid of All Your Stuff

But, #farmmomproblems, I don’t have good place for a yard sale.

The Japanese Art of Getting Rid of All Your Stuff

And I have So Much Stuff.  (That’s crafts, not scrapbooking.)

The Japanese Art of Getting Rid of All Your Stuff

Homeschool.  Not this year’s curriculum.

So what every country girl needs is a friend in the city.  Hopefully a super great friend with prime garage sale real estate.  And then you’ll need a couple of pick-up trucks to haul everything down and a few days to sit outside with your laptop while writing blog posts and re-pricing items that lost their stickers.

Japanese Art of Tidying

And you’re set.

KonMarie8

Now if only I could get rid of all the dishes so I wouldn’t need to wash them…

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Categories: Family | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

How We Begin Our Homeschool Year

If you’re thinking it’s a little early to be back in the classroom you might be right, but I wouldn’t change the way we start off our homeschooling year!

As a public school teacher there is something of a shock when you go from working in your classroom whenever you want to the day the students arrive and suddenly you’re on a SCHEDULE.  That shock times ten best describes my transition as a homeschool mom.

How we begin our homeschooling year.

Getting my kindergarten classroom ready for the year was one of my favorite things about teaching public school. I still love preparing a bright, clean room for learning at home!

I think the adjustment is harder for me and my kids because we’re at home.  (Hence homeschooling…)  Our environment hasn’t changed, our behavior has to.  And there is no one to oversee that but me.

How we begin our homeschool year.

Like most homeschool families we make do with what we have. My craft desk doubles as a teacher’s desk. Not every teacher has a sewing machine! 🙂

I also hear this as a common fear from parents who want to try teaching their kids at home.  “I’m just not sure I could make us get the work done.”

So here’s what I do.  We start the first full week in August, but we don’t jump in with both feet.  Today we’ll be doing calendar, our first phonics lesson in two months, attempting a short handwriting session, reading together as a family, and playing with some of the “toys” that come in our curriculum for critical and hands-on thinking.

How we begin our homeschooling year.

This is today’s workload. A light schedule helps all of us transition to a full day of school!

Next week we add history, since we had the most trouble finishing this subject by the end of the school year in first grade.  I’ll also throw in two of our “daily” workbooks, geography and word problems, which are 5 minute daily practice lessons.  The third week we’ll begin math, add the daily writing lessons, and begin our religion read-aloud.  By the last week of August we’ll add science (it has the fewest overall chapters) and specials like art, music, and PE.

It means we’re doing a full workload about a week after most of Missouri’s public school are back in session, but we’ll have more total hours since we’ve been at it for three weeks already.

This is how we begin our homeschool year at my house.  What works for you?

Categories: Homeschool | Tags: , , , , | 10 Comments

My Journey for the Perfect Homeschool Curriculum

Be still my beating heart- our homeschool curriculum for next year has arrived!  As a mom, foster parent, and former kindergarten teacher you can be sure I have opinions on education–  if you’re not homeschooling, hang in there, I have opinions on games and toys too. 🙂  My first year homeschooling I created my own stuff.  I have a degree in early childhood, I’d taught kindergarten, and I was pretty confident I could handle it.  Yes, you may all laugh.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Mommy wasn’t the only one with a happy smile when our order came!

We had a great kindergarten year, but honestly first grade needed structure.  But oh my, there is SO MUCH stuff!  You can school online, or just on the computer with CDs, or you can read aloud to your kids all day, or you can give them workbooks, or you can sit down and cry because of all the overwhelming decisions.

I don’t want to know how many countless hours I spent researching just the right program.  What I do know is after filling most of a notebook and downing three quarters of a bottle of tylenol over a two-month period I had pretty much decided to use a different company for each subject to get the critical thinking, phonics foundation, hands-on approach I was looking for.

And then I found Timberdoodle.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

A friend reviewed their Block Builders set on her blog.  I clicked around for a while until I found their first-grade core curriculum.

It had everything I’d already picked out for my son.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

It was tempting to bang my head against the desk in frustration of all the wasted hours, but I was too thrilled to be angry.  In addition to the math, reading, history, and science they also had fantastic extras.  The Block Builders, but also mazes for building fine motor skills and games for memory retention.  I ordered Thinking Putty for my kinesthetic learning to use while listening and beautiful books of illustrated history.  I added writing and geography, which I hadn’t planned but have been favorites all year.

I ordered Christmas presents, Easter gifts and birthday surprises for my kids, niece, and nephews.  We had a great first grade year and I can’t stop looking at the pile of stuff for second grade!  I even ordered most of the kindergarten kit for Anna.

I’m not on their blogging team and can’t be till I can secure 26 more followers (if you can help with that…), so this really is just my opinion.  I’m sharing because if you order a core curriculum before April 15th you get a free Boogie Board, which I never would have spent money on but here’s the pic of us about two seconds after we opened our box.

My Journey to find the perfect homeschool curriculum.

Boogie Boards were the first things to come out of the box and held the kids’ attention well enough I slipped the Easter gifts out and they never knew!

So I just wanted to share, in case anyone is questioning the millions of choices for the perfect homeschool curriculum.  Order from Timberdoodle.

Categories: Family, Homeschool | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

What’s in the Bible?

Yay!  I’m pretty much bouncing up and down because its here!  We’ve been waiting for almost three years for this moment and its finally here!  The final DVD of “What’s in the Bible?” is available!

What’s more is that I have just been approved as an affiliate for “What’s in the Bible?”– meaning I get to link to their stuff on my blog (and if you click it, I get a commission!).  When I started this blog two years ago that was one of my goals: share about life on the farm, post great lesson plans and activities, and have a link to “What’s in the Bible?” ;-). (Yes, there are two. I’m excited.)

So, what is this great DVD you ask?

Just my family’s favorite kid’s program.  Possibly ever.

These thirteen DVDs walk you through the entire Bible and take a look at the big picture of God’s message to us.  The show is hosted by puppets, namely Buck Denver, and the man behind Veggie Tales, Phil Vischer.

The puppets do get a little carried away from time to time, but the slightly over the top drama is easily outweighed by a show that is enjoyed by our four and six year olds as well as my husband and I.  And I can’t believe how much I’ve learned from a puppet.

When Brett started kindergarten I looked for a religion curriculum for him, but found nothing for his age group, definitely nothing that I liked.  These DVDs have been great because he doesn’t need to be able to read or write, we all love watching them together on Sunday nights, and I can print coloring pages, memory verses, and other stuff from whatsinthebible.com.

We also took the DVDs to junior high church camp and the 12-14 year olds loved them too.

Try them– you’ll love them.  And if you click through with one of my little links,  I’ll love you too. 😉

Categories: Science | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Heartbreak of Foster Care

I’ve gotten a lot of questions recently: lots of funny looks and tiny head shakes. Its not something I write about on the blog, but since there’s interest, I’ll answer. People don’t get why I’ve opened up my home to a foster child.

I understand that. I really do. And maybe I can explain it to you and maybe I can’t. I went through a process to get here myself. Basically it boils down to this.

Love is always worth it.

But to open yourself up for heartbreak? People tell me “I couldn’t do that.” Well, I’ve said that too, so coming from the other side, and with no malice, let me just say, yes. Yes you could.

We choose not to.

The heartbreak of foster care

I mean, there’s nothing glamorous about it. You voluntarily allow a child into your home whose parents are probably less than stellar. They come with lice (or worse). They don’t know how to eat at the table properly. They probably cry for parents you wish could be locked up for decisions they’ve made. It means child services in your home, scrutinizing you in ways no one does for a biological child.

But take a second to consider the alternative.

The Heartbreak of foster care

Where else would they be? A fellow foster parent recently posted to her Facebook page “We don’t do it because we aren’t afraid of heartbreak, but because we are afraid of what would happen to them without us.”

Pretty much.

Foster kids are generally at the bottom of the social ladder. Who really wants these kids? Less than a week after the ink dried on our license I was holding a five month old in the middle of the night, tears streaming down my face as I both fed him a bottle and scrolled through my Pinterest account looking at pictures of Prince George. Just a few months apart, but the world ADORES the Prince of Cambridge. No one wanted the tiny life in my arms.

He literally was “the least of these.”

foster baby

In the hard moments that’s what I cling to. This little guy isn’t just a foster child. He’s my little piece of Jesus, right here in my house.

But apart from all of that, people still want to know.

Will I get my heart broken?

It already is.

His tiny smile and great big losses. The phone calls for another child who needs a home. Every news report. Every Amber alert. All heart breaking.

If he goes back to his bio parents I’ll cry because I will have lost him. If we adopt him I’ll cry because he will have lost his bio parents.

Heartbreak is really just part of living.

But hopefully I’m teaching all my kids a really important lesson. Be compassionate. Take care of those who are weaker than you. Share.

kids and foster child

And love.

Because I’ve looked into the eyes of an unwanted child and I know.

Its always worth it.

Categories: Family | Tags: , , | 412 Comments

Little Help Holiday Recipe

Easy.  Fast.  Kid-Friendly.  Healthy.  Best snack ever!

I kid you not, the nutritionist at Hy-Vee said you could eat as much of this chocolate as you want.  So of course I bought the two ingredients necessary to make this snack, and upon discovering my children can make this almost completely on their own, we have made it for five different events.

It’s nutritious, fast, easy and kid-friendly.

Best. snack. ever.

First, buy chocolate.  Dark chocolate.

And while you’re at the store, get those little clementine oranges.  Some of you probably know them as Cuties.  And get diapers.  And probably eggs and maybe shampoo.  Just trying to help…

Easy.  Fast.  Kid-Friendly.  Healthy.  Best snack ever!

Melt the chocolate in a double broiler, microwave, or in a glass measuring cup hooked to the side of a pot by its handle for your own double-broiler-in-a-pinch.  Whatever works for you.  Just remember that water is the enemy of melted chocolate so make sure whatever you use is perfectly dry and that no water can splash into it while you’re working.  If you get water in the chocolate you will need to throw it out, which is tragic to say the least.

Then spread out a sheet of wax paper, peel the clementines, and remove the glass from the hot water if you are letting your kiddos do this.

Next, dip!

Easy.  Fast.  Kid-Friendly.  Healthy.  Best snack ever! Easy.  Fast.  Kid-Friendly.  Healthy.  Best snack ever!

They take an hour or so to set up on the counter, but if you put them in the fridge or in your freezing cold garage, they’ll be ready in minutes!

Categories: Family, Food | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A New Addition

I told you in my last post we welcomed a new addition to our family.  I’ve been hoping to add sheep here on the farm for a while now, but that’s not exactly the direction we went…

{DaddysTractor.com}

Its fun… for now!

On the previous Monday we got our foster care license, and last Tuesday we picked up a little baby boy!  For privacy reasons I can’t post pictures of him, but he is a bright-eyed, 5 month old with the biggest grin!  We’re loving him already!

A new addition to our family! {DaddysTractor.com}

We waited at the Children’s Division office for a while to get all the paperwork etc., and only had my phone to entertain us…

I can, in future posts, have pictures of him as just part of the family and not labeled as a foster child, however, so faithful followers may catch a glimpse of “Baby” here and there. 😉

Brett and Anna have been the best big sibs.  Brett actually wants to help change diapers and I’m working to convince him he doesn’t have to hold Baby standing up to be a big kid!!  Anna wants to be the baby’s mommy and loves nothing more than to hold the bottle or give Baby his pacifier.  In fact, I bought pacifiers for her benefit, not Baby’s!  Not really sure he likes them at all-lol!

{DaddysTractor.com}

Never mind the fuzzy pajamas. Anna believes that warm weather needs warm pjs.

We’re keeping up with the school schedule I’d already set, Praise God, but if you’d like to offer a prayer on our behalf, pray Baby soon switches to the more age-appropriate 2-3 naps/day instead of his preferred newborn pattern of sleeping part of each hour!  This momma really would appreciate it!  (The prayers and the naps!)

Categories: Family | Tags: , , | 7 Comments

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