A New Direction

I’m so excited to be taking over the reins of this blog. My name is Dawn Peluso and I was one of the folks that helped Diane with the Schoolin’ Swag Facebook page.  I’m a homeschooling mom of 3.  Our children are 11, 9, and 3.  We live in Eastern, NC and enjoy hiking, the beach, and spending time with family. We are active in our church and strive be a family that follows Jesus.

We use a variety of materials and methods in our home school and like to say our style is “Charlotte Mason Eclectic”.  In particular, we enjoy using lots of good books, nature study, hands-on history, cooking, and traveling to create a family culture of learning and growing.

Look for more posts over the next couple weeks with information about book reviews, fun home school ideas, and more.

My plan for the blog beginning in September is to have a weekly post about the history that we are studying that week (my husband and I are creating a hands on American history program for our kids and I will share that plan and the resources that we are using,  in case anyone else wants to join us on that journey), Product reviews, a monthly book review of a book for Moms, lots of guest posts from other homeschooling moms about what they are doing in their home schools and a variety of other content.  I’m very open to hearing from our readers about what you would like to see and making sure we are meeting those needs.

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Happy Birthday AA Milne

Growing up we did not have satellite or cable television, but my aunt and grandmother both had a satellite dish (you know the big ones that looked like UFOs). When I went over to their house I loved watching the television show Welcome to Pooh Corner. I have so many fond memories and when my children were old enough I was excited to share the characters of Winnie the Pooh and his friends with them as well. The show is no longer available but the books that inspired them are a great place to start.

happy birthday aa milne

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

Today is the birthday of the man who created the wonderful imaginary world of Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne. What better way to celebrate his life than to read some of his wonderful stories. There are several different books and collections written about the bear and his friends. I have included links to those in the resources list for your convince. If you do not have any of them, several of them are less than $2 on Kindle or Audible.

In addition to the stories that he wrote, we really enjoy the book, Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear.(As of this posting the book is only $1.71 on Audible but prices are subject to change.) This book is a great story about the bear that inspired the Winnie the Pooh stories as well as an introduction to World War I. It is a picture book but even my older children enjoy it.

If you want to do something a little different you could try a new recipe with honey (Pooh’s favorite food). You could also try this free Winnie the Pooh art lesson by the wonderful folks at You Are An Artist Chalk Pastels. If your children are a little older you could also watch the new Christopher Robin Movie, I have not yet seen it but it does have good reviews on plugged in.

I hope you have a chance to study AA Milne and his wonderful books. Winnie the Pooh is such an enjoyable addition to any childhood and a great way to revisit memories of when you were younger.  I had a $5 credit on Audible and a lot of errands to run today, so for less than $1 I picked up The House at Pooh Corner and we will be listening while we ride. Take a few minutes today and read a book, listen to a story, draw a picture, or try a new recipe. Who was your favorite character from the 100 Acre Wood?

Winnie the Pooh Resources

Free Art Lesson

Winnie the Pooh (only .99 on Kindle)

Audible Dramatization of Winnie the Pooh and The House on Pooh Corner

Now We Are Six

Finding Winnie

Christopher Robin Movie

Pooh’s Library

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

 

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

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WriteShop

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Did you join us last week for the FREE five day activity challenge?

To keep the fun going, and keep making memories with your kids, Jamie has a program called The Activity Room that I know you’ll love, so I have to share about it just a bit, plus it is only open for enrollment a few times a year and enrollment JUST opened TODAY.

What this means for you, right now — is that The Activity Room is open for enrollment only through this Thursday, January 24th. After that time, she’ll close down to focus on her members and won’t open the doors again until May.

 

Field Trip Friday: Medieval Times

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*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

We recently had the opportunity to spend a few days in Myrtle Beach, SC for a little rest and rejuvenation. Our primary purpose for this trip was not educational but we did take advantage of a few fun educational opportunities. The first one was not your typical field trip but it was so much fun and a great addition to any study of medieval history.

We are currently studying Ancient history but still wanted to take advantage of this opportunity while we were there both because of its educational value and because we knew the children would have a great time. What is this wonderful opportunity? The dinner show at Medieval Times. We went to the regular evening show, but some days they offer special school/ homeschool shows at lunch time. They even have free lesson plans and materials that you can download to accompany your trip.

When you arrive at Medieval Times you immediately notice that the building is designed as a large castle. This is a great visual for children that have been learning about castles. On the inside you get a chance to meet several costumed interpreters that are playing the role of the queen, knights, and the queen’s advisors. You have the opportunity for pictures and to ask questions while looking at various shields, suits of armor, and other replica items. For a small additional fee you can also tour the dungeon, but this tour may scary for small children. My husband took my oldest through it but said that he would consider the some of the content to be ‘PG13’ so use your own discretion but I probably would not recommend it for children younger than teenagers.

Once the time of your show has arrived you will be seated according to the color that you were assigned when you arrived. This color represents the knight that you will be cheering for during the show. Once seated your server will bring you your beverage of choice and the first of several courses. My four year old’s favorite part of this experience was that there is no silverware; you eat everything with your hands.

Once you are seating with your drinks the show begins. Each year the show changes a bit but the overall idea is that you have multiple knights competing in a series of games. They demonstrate some wonderful horsemanship as well as skill in the competitions. There is jousting, sword fighting, targets and more all demonstrated as a part of the story and show that is taking place in the arena while you enjoy your dinner.

The dinner consisted of soup, bread, chicken, potato, corn and dessert. While not the most gourmet meal that I have ever eaten, it is well cooked with generous portions. It also includes your choice of tea, soft drink, water or lemonade. The ticket price includes the show and your dinner but not the gratuity. You also have the option of purchasing additional drinks (frozen novelties, adult beverages, etc) and a variety of souvenirs and pictures.

My children all enjoyed the show and their dinner. It was exciting and engaging. The horses were beautiful and very well trained. The knights did a great job in the games and they provided an excellent show.

This field trip would be a great way to introduce or conclude a study of knights, castles, and medieval times. The ticket costs vary depending on the season. We went in January which is the off season and they were offering a variety of discounts. They also have special ticket pricing for the lunch time shows. We went to the show in Myrtle Beach, SC but they do have several other castles through the United States and Canada.

 

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Where: 2904 Fantasy Way Myrtle Beach, SC 29579

Hours of Operation:

Varies depending on the season and castle. Check the calendar here.

Costs: $55.95 adults $28.95 Children 12 and under (regular pricing check for discounts and deals)

Homeschool Discount: If you go during a school showing you can get School Show Pricing of  $26.95 per person

Website:

School Show Pricing $26.95 per person

Food: Included with your ticket

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

 

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week ! The NEW color edition of All About Reading is ready to order! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

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WriteShop

 

FREE Writing About Books: Book Reports and Beyond from Write Shop!

FREE: Check out this great new FREE resource for classical and Charlotte Mason education! Classical Christian Education & Charlotte Mason. Great for folks already homeschooling or if you have friends that are looking into it!

Did you join us for the FREE 5 Day activity challenge? To keep the fun going, and keep making memories with your kids, Jamie has a program called The Activity Room that I know you’ll love, so I have to share about it just a bit, plus it is only open for enrollment a few times a year and enrollment JUST opened TODAY.

What this means for you, right now — is that The Activity Room is open for enrollment only through this Thursday, January 24th. After that time, she’ll close down to focus on her members and won’t open the doors again until May.

 

 

 

 

A Fun Winter Art Lesson and What It Reminded Me About Flexibility.

We have been using You Are An Artist Chalk Pastel lessons for several years now and I really enjoy the ease of use, the fact that my children can do them independently, and the flexibility that they offer. They did these adorable winter bird chalk pastel paintings this week which are now proudly displayed in our kitchen.

 

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

A few months ago my oldest son who normally loved art and drawing was starting to resist doing the lessons and I was not sure what was going on. He is a preteen and can be a bit moody as is typical of boys his age so I did not know if it was the program or just him testing the waters and pushing his boundaries. As we talked more I realized that he was frustrated with the bit of mess that can be caused by regular chalk pastels. My other two children that participate in the lessons do not mind the bit of mess, that is easily cleaned up with a baby wipe. I first tried letting him use his colored pencils and while he enjoyed that more, it was harder to get the same effects as the pastels with regular colored pencils but then I found Chalk Pastel Pencils! You get the neatness of colored pencils (no chalk pastels on your fingers) but the ability to blend and create the effects of chalk pastels. He received a pack of these pencils for Christmas and is once again excited about participating in his art lessons.

When I thought about the effects of that relatively simple change, I realized that there are many areas of our home school that might be positively affected by small changes.  If your child is not enjoying or performing well in a particular area you may not need to go all out and completely change curriculum (though sometimes that is the right solution). For example they need to do that subject during a different time of day, or they prefer reading in a comfy pod chair instead of their desk. When we have problems it is a good idea to look for those little changes that can make things work more smoothly. I would love to have you share with me what you are doing in art or what little changes have made your school days run more smoothly.

winter artand a lesson onflexibility!

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

 

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

2019-fresh-start-new-year-1st-pinterest-768x1024

WriteShop

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Did you join us last week for the FREE five day activity challenge?

To keep the fun going, and keep making memories with your kids, Jamie has a program called The Activity Room that I know you’ll love, so I have to share about it just a bit, plus it is only open for enrollment a few times a year and enrollment JUST opened TODAY.

What this means for you, right now — is that The Activity Room is open for enrollment only through this Thursday, January 24th. After that time, she’ll close down to focus on her members and won’t open the doors again until May.

Practice Monkeys Violin Lessons and a Discount! (Review)

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Practice Practice Practice

Years ago my daughter was gifted a violin from a friend but aside from her making a few screeching sounds on it she never really used it. We couldn’t’ afford private lessons and the time commitment of loading everyone up to drive across town (we live out in the country), wait for her to complete a lesson, and then drive everyone back home just was not practical for our family.  Thankfully, Practice Monkeys had a great solution for us. The Family Subscription to Live Violin Classes was a great way for her to learn violin right from the comfort of our home and for a price that was reasonable.

Practice Monkeys offers four days a week of live online classes as well as a ‘treehouse’ or website full of support. For the live classes you can log in at the time set aside for your child’s level and they can see/hear the teacher and she can see/hear them. This is a great chance for them to practice, learn new skills, and get feedback on their progress. In an ideal world and for the most benefit you would attend these sessions most of the days that they are offered.

However, our fall schedule was absolutely crazy and we were not at home most days during my daughter’s live lesson time. That did not keep her from watching, learning, or progressing. Each week the previous week’s lessons are uploaded onto the website where your child can access them to practice on the days when they cannot join the live lessons. This gives you a great deal of flexibility for practicing when it works best for your family.

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In addition to the regularly scheduled lessons, Mrs. Van Kleeck offers help sessions several times a week for students that may be struggling with a concept or need a bit of extra help. Also, for a small additional fee students can schedule one on one assessment times. These are required for moving up in levels but can also be beneficial for a student that has questions or wants one on one assistance with a particular skill. My daughter recently moved from level two to level three and I found the assessment to be very beneficial. Not only was she able to show mastery of the level two skills, but she was able to get some direction on a few small changes she could make that improved her performance.

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Using Dad’s office to do her assessment so the baby and the preschooler would not interrupt.

She also offers many resources for parents to be able to help their students as they learn and grow. I am not musically inclined and at first was very hands off of the lessons but I did find that it was beneficial to my daughters performance for me to be somewhat involved and helping her move forward. This does not mean that the parent needs to be a musician or able to play the violin but I do recommend utilizing the helps that she offers to be able to support your student as they progress. In addition, I had a few questions and was pleased at how quickly they were answered via e-mail. Mrs. Van Kleeck was very friendly and approachable both during the lessons and via e-mail.

When we decided to give this a try we realized that the violin that my daughter had been given several years ago was already too small for her. We were able to find her a suitable violin used for a very reasonable price but were not sure what we were going to do with the small violin. My four year old quickly let us know that he also wanted to learn to play the violin. While I have not yet formally started him in the program, he did enjoy watching the various lessons and learning some of the basic skills. Fortunately for us, this program is a family subscription so when we do decide to let him start formal lessons the cost will remain the same.

In addition to the monthly fee (regularly $49 a month for the family but check out our link below for a discount), you will need a few supplies. You need a violin, a shoulder rest, rosin, and some levels will need Suzuki books. We found with a bit of looking we were able to supply those materials used for under $40 though that may vary depending on your location. You also have the option of buying a new violin or renting a violin depending on what works best for your situation. She has links on her website to help you purchase the correct equipment and make it as simple as possible.

Practice Monkeys Discount Coupon Offer

Overall, my daughter really enjoyed the program. I saw growth and enjoyment even though we could not utilize the program to its fullest due to our time constraints. I recommend this program if you have a child or children interested in violin lessons. You will see the most benefit if you can regularly attend the live classes, however, if your schedule is such that it is not possible, I still recommend giving this program a chance. You may want to do a few extra scheduled assessments to get feedback as you move forward but you can still make great progress.  Now until February 1st Practice Monkeys is offering Review Crew readers a special discount of only $39 a month which is good for the lifetime of your subscription.  We are looking forward to continuing our subscription and hope to see you in class!

Online Music Education for the Violin {Practice Monkeys Reviews}Crew Disclaimer

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

January Hymn Study: Shall We Gather at the River

shall we gather

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

When I started thinking about a hymn study for January I was looking at various lists of hymns for the ‘New Year’ and thinking that it would be appropriate to chose one of those hymns. I even started writing a post about one of them but it never felt quite right. Then I finally slowed down enough to listen to that still small voice and I kept hearing the words to this song in my head. It is a hymn that I love but do not often hear anymore. I pray that you enjoy this study this month and that it resonates in your soul.

Shall We Gather At the River was written by Robert Lowry in 1864. He wrote the song based off of Revelation 21:1-2 where there is a description of heaven with a river flowing by the throne of God. I love the imagery and it makes me think of all of those who have gone on before me that are gathering at that river, singing praises to God.

While the song and the verse are speaking of heaven I think it also reminds me to gather and slow down in the here and now. Life has a way of getting busy and chaotic and we need to ‘Be Still’ and spend time with the Lord. I have included several audio versions of the song as well as the lyrics and sheet music in the links below. There is also a free downloadable hymn study sheet and a free copy work to go along with the hymn. I pray that this song blesses you this month.

 

Resources

Audio (Gospel Choir)

Audio (Buddy Greene)

Lyrics and Sheet Music

 

Download Your Freebies Below!

Hymn Study Fact Sheet

Shall We Gather at the River (January Copywork)

 

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

 

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week ! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

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WriteShop

 

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Join the FREE Get Active Inside Challenge!

Over the course of 5 days, we’ll discover ways to allow physical activities indoors, get your child’s energy out when it’s too ❆ cold ❆ to go outside & keep your kids busy so they’re not bored and asking for cartoons.

 

FREE Writing About Books: Book Reports and Beyond from Write Shop!

2019 Book List

 

 

For 2018 I had a goal of reading twelve books and I surpassed that goal.  I am a book lover that had gotten off of track because of children and life. It felt really good to get back into the habit of reading. I only count books that I am reading for myself and not the books that I read aloud to the children. I am increasing my goal for the year from 12 to 24 books. I have not chosen all of them but I have a good stack to get started and I can add to my list as I find good books to read.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

I am going to start out in January by finishing a book I started last year and put down after the hurricane, Becoming MomStrong. It was a really good book and I am excited to get back into it. I have also been reading Uninvited by Lysa TeKeurst and hope to finish that this month. Then I can dive into the rest of my 2019 list.

I plan to get quite a few of them from my own book shelves where I have lots of good books that I haven’t found the time to read yet. In addition, I am excited to hear about the books that you are reading and hope to find some good suggestions in the comments.

Just Open the Door is a great book on hospitality or at least the few chapters that I have already read. I received this book as a Christmas gift and I couldn’t help but get started. I love the down to earth suggestions combines with Biblical advice. I am hoping to finish it in January as well and begin to implement some of her strategies.

Girls Club: Cultivating Lasting Friendships in a Lonely World is a new book by Sally Clarkson and her daughters Sarah and Joy. I honestly have read many of her books and not found one I did not like. I am so excited to read this one when it releases in February and I already have it pre-ordered.  She gives wonderful practical advice with high ideals and a Biblical foundation.

Caught Up in A Story is by Sarah Clarkson and talks about how good books can shape a child’s education and imagination. ” Drawing on her own storyformed childhood and her long study of children’s literature, Sarah Clarkson explores and celebrates the soul-forming power of story to help children imagine, and live, a great story of their own.”

Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter is a series that I have been reading since the summer of 2017. You will notice that I tend to gravitate towards non-fiction but I do also love this charming fiction series that is based on the life of Beatrix Potter.

Journey that Saved Curious George is a children’s book and I will probably end up also reading it to my children but I included it on my list because my wonderful husband bought it for me after I had seen a blogger friend review it. It looked like such a great book that I mentioned wanting it and it showed up on the Christmas tree. I plan to read it for myself and then share it with the children. It is the story of how the author of Curious George, HA Rey, escaped Paris as the Germans advanced.

Anne of Green Gables is a book that I read and loved as a young child. My daughter is reading it as part of her literature assignments this semester and I decided it would be fun if I re-read it as well. It is a fun book full of many great lessons.   (if you do not have a copy of this classic it is only .49 on Kindle)

The Organized Homeschool Life is a book I’ll be reading throughout the whole year. It is a book that includes a week by week guide to getting organized. Each week has a manageable step that you can complete towards organizing your home school in a variety of aspects not just physical items. The first week was all about setting up a good devotional routine.  I found this book through a friend of mine that blogs over at HomeschoolFanatic and has started an online book  study. If this book interests you I encourage you to join us over in the group.  (Book Group with Homeschool Fanatic)

Those books will give me a good start to my reading goals for 2019 and I will be adding as I go along. I am hoping that at least half of my books will be books already on my shelves or in one of my reading baskets. There are so many books and so little time, but I have found that keeping books available and ready and reading even a few minutes at a time really adds up. Do you have a reading list or any reading goals for 2019?

Also check out this fun list full of classics from The Life We Build.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

LAST CHANCE ENDS TODAY!! Make meal planning easier with done-for-you meal plans and a variety of recipes that will keep your menu full for years with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. Get recipes for every type of eating style for $37 during this 6-day sale!

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week ! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

2019-fresh-start-new-year-1st-pinterest-768x1024

WriteShop

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Join the FREE Get Active Inside Challenge!

Over the course of 5 days, we’ll discover ways to allow physical activities indoors, get your child’s energy out when it’s too ❆ cold ❆ to go outside & keep your kids busy so they’re not bored and asking for cartoons.

Foot Prints Across the Year

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I thought this turned out adorable but in hindsight I would not use a black background.

Children grow up so fast and it really is true that the ‘days are long but the years are short’. As the mother of a 12 year old I can tell you that the years fly by and I’m sure that will become even more a reality as he continues to grow up and gets ready to leave home. I am blessed to have four children ages 12, 10, 4, and 10 months and I want to make sure that I utilize the perspective that comes from having older children to really enjoy the moments with all of them. This doesn’t mean that every moment is going to be fun or that I’m going to be any less exhausted (teething anyone?) but I want to make sure that I capture the memories while they are at each new stage.

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

When my oldest was a baby I thought I would always remember with vivid clarity each moment, each new accomplishment, each different stage, but time has a way of making some of those memories quite blurry. I think this is especially true for busy moms that have so much going on with just keeping the house running and making sure everyone is clean and fed. I wanted to be intentional about watching the baby grow up even in the midst of the hustle and bustle so I decided to create a keepsake each month that would remind me how much he was growing.

Each month I’m going to do a foot print project that goes along with the month/season and at the end of the year I will have a fun collection and be able to see how much his tiny feet grew over the course of a year. My four year old LOVES anything related to paint so he will probably also participate although I don’t expect to see as much of a dramatic difference in the size of his prints. I may use his hands instead of his feet. I had originally thought about using hands for both of them, but attempting to make a hand print using the 10 month old taught me that it was not the best plan.

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The hand print did not turn out well as he did not want to relax his hand.

I hope to be able to create some kind of book or keepsake at the end of the year to commemorate the growth.  While you have the paint out and the children messy you can even create a duplicate project that you can send to grandparents or other relatives that might enjoy the keepsake.

For January I found this footprint snowman that was super easy to complete. For the baby I just helped him make his foot print and then I finished the project. I let my four year old see the example of this cute snowman project using a hand print and he loved the idea. However, I made the mistake of leaving him alone with his hand print and his new paint sticks and the results were not quite was I was expecting.  We may try again later this  month with a little more guidance.

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If painting isn’t the right fit for you, you could do some other fun craft, a series of pictures, or a program like Qeepsake which sends you a question each day to answer and create a journal of memories. I hope this post encourages you to have fun capturing memories of the hectic but wonderful time when your children are small and growing and changing rapidly. I would love to hear your ideas in the comments for how you record those memories and mementos.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Make meal planning easier with done-for-you meal plans and a variety of recipes that will keep your menu full for years with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. Get recipes for every type of eating style for $37 during this 6-day sale!

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

2019-fresh-start-new-year-1st-pinterest-768x1024

WriteShop

 

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Join the FREE Get Active Inside Challenge!

Over the course of 5 days, we’ll discover ways to allow physical activities indoors, get your child’s energy out when it’s too ❆ cold ❆ to go outside & keep your kids busy so they’re not bored and asking for cartoons.

 

Treating Time Like A Video Game

While video games existed when I was a child (contrary to popular belief I’m not that old), I never had my own video game system. I did, however, have cousins that had Nintendo or Game Boy systems. We played a variety of games but one of my favorites was Tetris. If you do not remember the game, the basic premise was that different shaped blocks would fall from the top and you had to move them and turn them to fit as closely as possible at the bottom. If you did not plan well or just let them fall you would quickly have blocks stacked to the top and lose the game.

Time ManagementMaking it All Work Together

As a mother of four, small business owner, blogger, 4H leader, church volunteer and multiple other roles I stay fairly busy.  One question I often hear is how do you fit it all in? Before I get to far into how I fit it in, I want to first say I am not advocating that you take on more than you can handle, leave no white space, or worship busyness. It is okay to have down time, it is okay (even good) to say no to opportunities that would overwhelm your schedule or resources.  The concepts and tips in this post are designed to help you best utilize your time to complete those tasks that you need or want to complete not pressure you into taking on more obligations.

When I played Tetris if I just let those pieces fall how they came I was sure to lose in mere moments. With time management and planning if I just let the schedule and the obligations fall I will surely be overwhelmed and probably dropping the ball. When we plan our schedules it is important to look not only at all the small pieces but also at the big picture. If I know that Tuesday nights are busy because of American Heritage Girls then maybe I say no to other obligations on Tuesdays or maybe I schedule afternoon appointments on Tuesdays because I know we are already out of the house.

Planning ahead allows me to minimize those frantic days when I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. Those days where you realize you have 3 appointments, cupcakes to bake, a blog post due, company coming over, and the house isn’t clean are no fun. When I look ahead and know what is coming up I can use time to prepare. For example, if I know Tuesday is going to be really busy and I need to have cupcakes for Tuesday afternoon, I plan ahead and bake them on Sunday or Monday when I have more time. I can prewrite my blog post the week before and have it scheduled to post during a week where I have too many other commitments.

I use a Google calendar to track all of that because it works well for allowing my husband to see what is going on and add anything that he schedules to the calendar. You can certainly use other planners or programs but the important thing is to have something that shows all of your obligations. When you have your sons ball schedule on one calendar, your church obligations on another, and your daughters dance schedule on a third it is easy to overbook your days. When someone asks if we can participate in an event I can quickly and easily look at my calendar and see what else is going on and whether or not it will fit into our schedule.

In addition to basic scheduling planning ahead can look like meal planning and including crock pot or instant pot meals on those busy days when you don’t’ have time to cook. It is knowing that December is a busy month and getting certain tasks done ahead of time so that you have some breathing room during the holidays. I try to have my Christmas cards made and ready to mail the day after Thanksgiving and most (if not all) of my shopping completed by ‘Cyber Monday’. It might mean gathering all of the things you need for an event the week before because the day before is busy with some other obligations.

My children participate in several organizations that have major events such as Junior Historians history competitions, 4-H presentations, and 4-H State Fair projects. If I wait until the last minute these times can become overwhelming and they do not turn in their best work. Since I know those things are coming, I can work them into our schedules. I start months ahead by having them decide what projects and topics they will be working on. I also use that information to determine if I can combine any of these projects with other schoolwork. For example, this month my children are working on a research paper for their writing that will be turned into the Junior Historians competition next month.

When we take the time to look at our calendars and our obligations and plan ahead, we can make the pieces of our lives fit together in a way that reduces stress and overwhelm. Some days it feels like you do not have time to plan and work ahead, but those few minutes of strategic planning will pay off in a calmer and easier to manage schedule. I still have those occasional days where I did not plan well or life throws one too many curve balls but overall, things run much smoother and I do a better job keeping all the balls in the air when I have planned ahead and fit the pieces of our puzzle together with care.

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Make meal planning easier with done-for-you meal plans and a variety of recipes that will keep your menu full for years with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. Get recipes for every type of eating style for $37 during this 6-day sale!

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

2019-fresh-start-new-year-1st-pinterest-768x1024

WriteShop

 

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Join the FREE Get Active Inside Challenge!

Over the course of 5 days, we’ll discover ways to allow physical activities indoors, get your child’s energy out when it’s too ❆ cold ❆ to go outside & keep your kids busy so they’re not bored and asking for cartoons.

 

When A Word Is Not Enough…2019

A few years ago I started using a ‘word of the year’ where you choose one word to focus on for the year. I have enjoyed it and was planning on choosing a word for this year. I had considered simple or simplicity, thought about service, and was rather fond of rest. However, none of those felt like it was quite the right fit. Last month I did a ‘be still and be present’ challenge where I challenged myself and anyone that wanted to join me to spend time each day being still with God and present with your family.  As I continued to pray about what my word for this year would be I realized that I was not being called to focus on a word but a phrase. I am going to carry the phrase ‘be still and be present’ with me into 2019. I want this to be a year in which I really dive into God’s word with consistency and that I am fully present and enjoy my family.

Be Still&Be Present

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

There are benefits to concrete measurable goals but I also think there are benefits to just taking small steps with a focus on an end result. I need to personally remember that my goal is progress not perfection. Sometimes, if you are focused on that measurable goal (for example, having a quiet time 7 days a week) and you miss the mark it is easy to want to give up and say that you failed.  However, if you went from only having quiet time occasionally to having quiet time four or five days a week you have made progress.

For me personally, I want to get back to listening to the daily audio Bible app each morning, do more Bible journaling/coloring, and continue to get more consistent with my prayer life. I plan to use my Bible app and possibly Google Calendar to remind me each day until it becomes a habit. I have not yet decided exactly how I’m going to track my prayer life. I have tried complicated systems before that just did not work for that season in my life, but I also want to have a plan. I did find these adorable planners that focus on your quiet time and prayers life. For some people those planners will be a great way to organize and track Bible reading and prayer. For others they will be a hindrance to just getting it done. Use the tools that work for you and do not worry about the systems and tools that are not the right fit in this season of your life.

When I think about what I want ‘be present’ to look like in my life this year I see time spent just enjoying my husband and children. There will be times that are busy, times when I have to focus on cleaning, teaching, or writing, but I want to make sure there are also plenty of times that I am focused on them. I want to spend time with each one of them over the course of the week enjoying life together. Some days that might be craft activities, Legos, or hikes.  Some days it might be baking in the kitchen with one of the children, date nights with my husband, family game night or just watching the children play in the backyard. I still need to work on consistency so I plan to continue to use the planning sheets that I created to go with the challenge last month. It is my prayer that by the end of the year it has become my default and I no longer need the planning or reminders.

2018 was a year full of changes and adventures. The two most pivotal events were adding baby number four to our family in February and Hurricane Florence in September. We have been and will continue to be working to help with Hurricane Florence relief efforts, but are looking forward to finding a bit of routine in 2019. I do not know that 2019 will bring but I pray that it is a year where I can grow closer to God and my family. I would love to know what your word or phrase is for 2019 or any goals that you have for the year. Please share them with me in the comments.

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Make meal planning easier with done-for-you meal plans and a variety of recipes that will keep your menu full for years with the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle. Get recipes for every type of eating style for $37 during this 6-day sale!

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.

2019-fresh-start-new-year-1st-pinterest-768x1024

WriteShop

 

Are you looking for a free Bible study that your whole family can enjoy? The Proverbial Homemaker is offering up a study of James that is FREE for a limited time.

Join the FREE Get Active Inside Challenge!

Over the course of 5 days, we’ll discover ways to allow physical activities indoors, get your child’s energy out when it’s too ❆ cold ❆ to go outside & keep your kids busy so they’re not bored and asking for cartoons.

 

 

Be Still and Be Present: Week 4

James 1:17

*Some of the links in my posts may be affiliate links see below for more information. *

James 1:17 probably is not the first verse that comes to mind when you think of the Christmas season. Most people thing of the story of the birth of Jesus as told by Luke or Matthew.  However, during this time of gift giving and receiving it can be so easy to lose sight of the true gift of the season. Sure we know that Jesus is the reason we celebrate, but do we really live that out both in our hearts and our actions?

I want to spend the next week really focusing on all of the gifts and blessings that are in my life. We celebrate not just because Jesus was born but because he died for our salvation. No matter the stresses and frustrations of today, the gifts not yet wrapped, the child who is sick, the dinner that isn’t going to cook itself, the house that still needs to be cleaned; we celebrate because Jesus became flesh and was born to a virgin in order to die for our sins. When I put things into proper perspective there is so much for which to be thankful and joyful.

For many of us the next few days will be busy and it may seem that we do not have time to ‘be still’ but I encourage you to try very hard to carve out a bit of time each day to focus on Him. Sing hymns as you travel to visit family, read the story of the birth of Christ together on Christmas morning before you open gifts, pray over each person with whom you exchange gifts.  You may not be able to hide away and have thirty minutes of uninterrupted time but you can still take a few minutes to focus on the reason that we celebrate.

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.

James 1:17 (NIV)

 

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Sometimes our best laid plans just don’t happen. We had some fun times and did some great things this week, but other things did not go according to plan.  On Friday my four year old woke up with a fever. This is never a good thing but was made worse by the fact that Friday was supposed to be a fun day out with friends.  After much deliberation on my part, he stayed home with my husband and I took the other three to meet up with our friends.  This time of year can be hectic and it was nice to spend an afternoon hanging out with friends and enjoying fellowship with no obligations. We tried a new burger place, had some yummy cupcakes, and then spent a couple of hours at the aquarium where most of us have memberships.

It would have been very easy to decide not to spend the day with our friends due to all the things on my to-do list. I could have said that I was too busy to go and no one would have argued with me, but sometimes we need to put the lists aside and just spend time with our people. My first priority in ‘be present’ is my family, but I also need to take the time to pour into my friendships as well. Friday we were able to ‘be present’ not only as a family but with our friends.

We have not yet done our graham cracker nativity scenes because I want to wait until my son feels better so that we can do them together. We did do some more puppets because he has decided he is really into the puppets. Another activity that we did this week with our 4H club was a five senses activity with these blooming tea balls. It was fun for all ages and simple to do. It is also easy to adapt for one child or a group of children. I simply unwrapped one of the tea balls and had them look at it, feel it, smell it, and listen to it. Then we dropped it into a pitcher of very hot water and they watched it bloom. Once it had steeped they were able to taste it.  It would make for a nice low key activity this week after the hustle and bustle of Christmas.

If you didn’t finish all the fun crafts and activities that you wanted to do, do not despair Tuesday is only the first day of Christmas. I have found that the days following Christmas often bring a slower more relaxed pace and we can enjoy those activities without the pressure of long to-do lists hanging over our heads.

Take some time this week and ‘be present’ with your immediate family and if you can with extended family. If you are not close enough to visit for the holidays maybe you can spend time with neighbors or use technology to virtually visit those that live far away. Take the time to bake the cookies, get on the floor and play with the new toys, read the book, or just sit and chat.

How are doing with this challenge? I pray that it has blessed you and brought you closer to God and your family. I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. While this challenge may be wrapping up, it is my hope that you will continue the habits of ‘being still and being present‘ into the New Year.

 

Be Present Resources:

Blooming Tea

Free Printable Nativity Coloring Pages

Hands on As We Grow (If you have young kids and struggle to come up with easy activities to do with them, this maybe a great resource for you. She has some free challenges, e-books, and a membership plan full of great activities that are easy to implement.)

 

Resource Library and Affiliate Disclosure

When you sign up for the Schoolin’ Swag free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links, including Amazon affiliate links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Deals and Freebies!

Amazon is doing it again! $5 off $20 Book Purchase. Use Code GIFTBOOK18. If you aren’t sure what book to buy you might want to check out this new book by Sally Clarkson that is on pre-order right now: Girls’ Club.

Exciting news from All About Learning Press this week! They are coming out with a full color edition of levels 1-4 All About Reading and to celebrate they are hosting a $1,000 giveaway! We use All About Spelling and are hoping to use All About Reading next year with my son who will be in Kindergarten.

My Snowman Paul is Free on Kindle and many others in the series are less than $1.