Things To Remember About Homeschooling…

I wanted to post this sooner, but let’s be honest, it’s been a weird week. Even though my children haven’t had the disruption of school closures, they have had every other activity and event in their schedules canceled. No therapy, no music lessons, no church, no going anywhere. Monkey is having a hard time with the idea that food isn’t free range. This is a bad habit I’ve been meaning to tackle for a while now. We have enough food, but with store shelves empty, I want it to last more than 2 days! This Mama has been on poop patrol because SOMEONE decided to swallow a dime…..worst treasure hunt ever! Needless to say, we’ve been pretty unmotivated.

DSC_0748I wanted to share a few things with those who find themselves home with their children all day and aren’t sure what to do with them. First, remember, when homeschooling there is a period known as deschooling. This is a time of transition between school and homeschool. Learning at school is entirely different than learning at home. Let’s be honest, how many kids actually respond well when Mom wants them to do work? Most likely, they will fight you. They will whine, complain and turn on the tears. We’ve homeschooled for two years and we still turn on the tears regularly.

More than likely, if your district isn’t supplying work or online classes, then the students will be required to make up this missed time. So don’t feel you need to teach them everything they would do at school. Instead, focus on reviewing what they were learning so they don’t forget. Practice spelling, read, review math facts, watch documentaries, and read more.

But my kids are bored and stir crazy!? IMG_1923Allow them to create and tell stories, build with legos, cook (so much can be learned in the kitchen). Play board games. I cannot stress enough the amount of learning that happens through board games and they don’t even realize they are learning!

 

It’s also important to keep in mind that a typical day at school is FULL of interruptions, transitions, and disciplinary moments. It will not take you 6 hours to do a day’s worth of work at home. Please don’t try… you will burn out your child quickly. Schools typically move at the pace of the slowest child. Teachers have to wait for everyone to get on the same page before continuing. When you only have your children, things go much faster. Remember, most homeschoolers only do a few hours of work a day. We are almost always done before lunch.

IMG_1807Remember to give yourself grace and your children patience. None of you were prepared for this! Today, it’s 3:00 and I am still fighting my kids to finish their math. Yes, it happens to the best of us. What have we done today? Mr. Man spent the morning reading to Monkey. He read him the entire first Press Start book. Then, we took turns working on our new Osmo Detective Agency app. and worked on our Timberdoodle Smart Cookies logic game (I will be posting a review for this shortly). After that, we spent some time working in the garden and playing outback with their new bunny, Oreo. Will we get to the math? Eventually. It just didn’t seem that important today. Remember, it’s important to look at the big picture. Think about what’s important, TODAY. One step at a time….we want to emerge on the other side of this and still enjoy each other.

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Please take a look at our page of things we love for more ideas.

I am joining in with Timberdoodle‘s blog hop, take a look for more great homeschooling activities and tips.

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Hide & Seek Polar Bear: A Timberdoodle Review

My boys LOVE playing hide and seek. However, this can be challenging because it’s often too hot to play outside and our house is very small, with few good hiding places for growing boys. Timberdoodle’s Hide & Seek Polar Bear is an amazing solution!

bearThis cute little bear connects to your phone using an app and BlueTooth. You hide the bear and use the app to send pre-recorded (or you can use it walkie-talkie style) clues to those who are looking for the bear. This puts a fun spin to the typical hot/cold style game of Hide and Seek!

The app was easy to use and we were off laughing in no time! My husband even got involved and we all had a great time. The boys constantly ask to play with the bear, it definitely has a high replay value. You can adjust the volume on the bear itself which is nice. We also realized that you can use it as a BlueTooth speaker and play your music through it. The boys loved this discovery.  My only complaint, and really it’s just the nature of BlueTooth, is that occasionally there is a slight delay between clicking the phrase on the phone and when you hear it out of the bear’s speaker. Usually, this isn’t too much of a problem, but when the boys start moving quickly some of the ‘you’re getting closer’ or ‘you’re almost there phrases’ don’t fit very well.

The boys both enjoyed taking turns hiding the bear, making the bear talk and finding it. The best was when it was hanging on the wall in the entryway and the boys kept running back and forth down the hall, passing the bear completely, as they heard the clues go off. This kept them going for quite some time and gave mom and dad a good laugh.

See it hanging above their heads as they look through the backpacks!

I was pretty sure my boys would like this item. I am so pleased that it surpassed my expectations. The Hide & See Polar Bear is also waterproof (up to 3 feet), so playing in dewy grass or snow is no problem. I am looking forward to trying this outside, as well.

When I asked the boys what they thought about the Hide & Seek Polar Bear, Mr. Man responded, “So fun!” and Monkey said, “It’s SO good!” Hide & Seek Polar Bear definitely gets 4 thumbs up in the Bean house. This would make an excellent gift for any child who enjoys Hide and Seek. I can especially see this being nice for a single child family. The child can still learn valuable problem-solving skills through play and mom and dad don’t have to hide. This is also a good solution for families who want to discourage children from hiding from their parents. Hiding the bear is a much safer alternative.

The Hide & Seek Polar Bear is part of Timberdoodle’s Tiny Tots curriculum kit, but clearly it can be enjoyed by children much older, as well.

*Disclaimer: I received this product at a discounted rate to provide an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way.

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Natural World Workshop: A Timberdoodle Review

 

The boys and I had the opportunity to review Timberdoodle’s Natural World Workshop by Djeco. My children are always very excited to have the opportunity to paint, so when our box arrived they quickly claimed their pictures. The kit comes with beautiful opaque watercolors, a high-quality brush and four prints to paint. I was very impressed with how vibrant the paint was, not at all washed out like standard watercolored paint. The pictures are on boards that are more like a canvas (though not quite as thick) than the cardstock you would expect. The items were definitely of high quality.

 

Both children (Kindergarten and Second Grade) were able to follow along using the instruction book and color-coding on the canvases. Occasionally, they would miss part of the painting and have to go back, but this was a minor problem due to their own oversight. I liked how the order of painting started with the lighter colors and moved to the darker. This allowed for two things. One, less color mixing. I don’t know if anyone else has the same issue with watercolors that I do, but the color mixing is awful and pretty much makes the typical watercolors a one-shot use. Secondly, when multiple colors are needed close together, like on the turtle’s back, using the lighter color first allows the second color to cover any out of line mistakes easily. Both children enjoyed this project very much and look forward to completing their second pictures.

My only complaint about this kit would be that the brush needs to be smaller. My boys had a hard time staying inside the shapes because the brush was too large. This is easily fixed by switching the brush out with a smaller brush. Overall, I felt that the kit was very high quality and the final products are definitely something we plan to frame and hang in our home. The boys really enjoyed this project. The Natural World Workshop is currently part of the Timberdoodle 2nd Grade Curriculum Kit.

 

“It was great. I like it when it is all colored.” Mr. Man, age 7

“It’s good!” Monkey, age 5

 

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My New Year’s Promise to Myself

I’m joining in with the Timberdoodle Blog Hop. Here’s to a better 2020!

81418907_2922179654469586_8272687146213572608_nEveryone talks about how important it is for moms to take care of themselves. That we can’t give from nothing. But let’s be honest… Mama’s, do we really follow this advice?! I know I fail miserably. Most of the time I feel like this happens because, well, if I don’t…who will? And, if I am really honest, this Mama is pretty close to hitting nothing.

After a year that has included emotional/behavioral issues with both boys, emergency surgery and ending the year with an ulcer for mom, I am thinking its time this Mama tries a little harder to focus on some of her needs for once. I am not entirely sure what this looks like or how I will make it work, but I do know in 2020 I plan to…

Let more go- sadly this often means my housekeeping, but that’s just something that I (and my parents) will have to get over. We are already working on ways to relax our homeschool and cut down on family conflicts.

More scheduled girl time-  The first one is already on the calendar! One night out- no kids!

More date nights- My husband and I have never been big daters… plus, we’re cheap. But, having some time together without the kids needs to happen more often this year.

Healthier me- My health definitely suffered in 2019 and I need to get it back together. I gave myself a membership to the StepBet app and my co-workers and I have committed to moving more this year.

Healthier family- In 2019, I cut out soda (Huge for me!) I began thinking about what I can do in 2020. I plan to cut out processed junk and spend more time at the farmers’ markets. If we do need a special treat, I plan to make it myself instead of buying prepackaged. We are pretty good about produce and using real foods. I just need to be better about planning ahead because this is when I get in trouble. I need to make a few tweaks to the boys’ snacking habits, too.

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What are your plans for a happier and healthier family in 2020? I would love to hear your suggestions!

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Why We Don’t Do Santa and How We DO Celebrate

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I’m joining in with the Timberdoodle Blog Hop. Here’s a little about the what and why of our holiday traditions. I would love to hear yours… Enjoy!

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We decided early on we weren’t doing Santa. It just doesn’t make sense. Pause for gasping and sputtering… it’s okay, everybody does. Don’t even get me started on that elf!

I did worry a lot about the boys missing out on the wonder and excitement, especially early on. I also worried they would feel like they were being left out. But, I also didn’t want them caught up in the commercialism of Christmas. The first few years we just didn’t mention the S. man. They were too little, no need to discuss it. We had our tree and did our gifts and moved on with our holiday. No Santa required. Then, Mr. Man’s fears began. He was seeing green faces coming out of walls. The idea of someone he didn’t know coming into our house at night was terrifying. Why on Earth would we perpetuate that? In fun? Absolutely not. He must have heard of Santa somewhere because he once pointed to a display and said, “HE isn’t coming to my house, right?!”

96264F7C-AA50-4C82-AD8C-6AB3685B7265Recently, Monky asked for something and I responded with the typical “Maybe for Christmas” response. To which he replied, “Oh, we’ll have to ask THAT man.” This made me chuckle.

Besides this, I really never understood the point. I felt like we lie to our kids then try to teach them not to lie. Not to mention the confusion between our spiritual beliefs about Christmas and Santa… I mean come on, Santa wins, hands down! No, it just made more sense to have the Jolly Old Elf pass by our house altogether. By the time Mr. Man was old enough to ask about Santa, he was past the age of belief anyway. Plus, he struggles so much between what is real and make-believe. We saw absolutely no reason to confuse him further.

I don’t feel the boys have ever felt left out or that Christmas was any less of a magical time, at least not that they have expressed to me so far. We’ll see…

So what DO we do to celebrate?

We’ve always focused on Christmas being Jesus’ birthday and a time to show others that we love them. We do decorate a tree, mostly because of sentimental reasons for Mama. Mr. Bean could do without that tradition.

4B8E8178-D50C-41B9-A47A-C272059A9ECEWe do a lot of baking, looking at lights, special movies, and hot cocoa- time together. We always pick one charitable activity to participate in. We do advent calendars, candlelight services, and special days with grandparents. Focusing on the true value of the season. I use to cook a Christmas dinner, but decided I didn’t enjoy spending the day in the kitchen and not WITH my boys. Now, Chinese take-out is our Christmas Day tradition and the boys LOVE it. I do make a special breakfast, which is mostly for the fun of a parent torturing their child while they are made to wait even longer for their presents.

I have to avoid social media on Christmas. While I do love to see the trees, decorations and family photos, I have noticed a trend that occurs every Christmas Eve. More and more posts appear in which parents try to show-off how much Santa left under the tree. For SO many reasons, this is a phenomenon that I need to avoid. The one upness is a behavior I just don’t have the patience for. I also don’t want the boys to see it. We are trying to teach them that Christmas is about more than how much stuff we get, and this perpetuates feelings of envy and discontentment.

Yes, as a parent I absolutely love giving my children gifts and watching their eyes light up with excitement. However, I don’t like having to fight off the little green-eyed monster that pops up when we overindulge them. The first few Christmas’s we overdid it…absolutely. To be honest, this Mama is constantly having to place herself in check in this area. But, we have definitely toned down the amount under the tree and the boys haven’t seemed to notice or care in the least. We aim to follow the Three-Gift Rule. Just as the Wise Men brought three gifts, the boys get three gifts. Usually, it’s something they want, a game and something creative, fun or educational.  If I struggle with keeping myself in check, I tend to throw some books in the mix.

71EF377F-1AF4-40E1-B4B8-51F93EC96846One other thing we find important is teaching each boy to think of his brother. We take each one out for a special one on one time and give him $20 to get a gift for his brother. This is still hard for them, but a great opportunity to learn to think about what someone else would like. This time is so special to me, and I hope its something they remember as they grow up.

What do you do during the holiday season that is special to your family? However you celebrate, enjoy those around you and remember the true meaning of Christmas!

“I love Christmas cookies!”~Mr. Man

“It cools down and snow!”~Monkey

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Celebrating Gratefulness

I’m joining in with Timberdoodle’s blog hop.

November is upon us and I thought I’d take a moment to focus on some things we are thankful for. To be honest, it’s been a rough year in our world and I’m trying to get my own mindset back in check. Working on being an example and practicing calming strategies to show Monkey how to handle our big emotions. Writing is calming for me… and I don’t do it enough. So what am I thankful for this year? Obviously, I need to do this exercise because making this list was far more difficult than it should be.

I am thankful for…

  • Mr. Man, who shows me daily how to love with your whole heart and is the world’s best cuddler.
  • Money, with all those traits that will make a successful adult one day but, at 5, is costing Mama FAR too much anxiety. Who I can’t even be upset with as we are called to the principal’s office and sent home (yes, that was our day! 1 day a week kiddo….1 day!) Who has the best smile, but thinks kisses are gross! (Keep it that way, sir! Those dimples are dangerous!)
  • My car, which I don’t fear will leave us on the side of the road in 120-degree weather. Last year, this was a real concern.
  • My job, which has opened up so many opportunities for me. It allows me to stay home and homeschool my boys. To focus on their needs and (attempt) to alleviate the stress of full-time work away from home AND balance the boys’ extra needs. It has given me the opportunity to work on finding myself after I had lost myself in those early years.
  • Friends, who are present and bring substance to your life. The ones you can count on to laugh with, vent with and cry with.
  • My church, a wonderful little group who cares for one another and aren’t afraid to ask the hard questions. Who will listen to your thoughts and respect you, even if they don’t always agree with you.
  • My little house (yes, even my old, falling apart- too many issues to count house), which keeps us dry- most of the time. Whose mortgage can’t be beat and keeps us so close we have no choice but to deal with our issues. My tiny house which, after more years than I want to admit of decluttering and minimizing, is starting to show signs of hope.
  • My husband, who knows how to push my buttons like no other. Who believes in me more than he probably should, who I’ve known more of my life than not, and who has been by my side for more than I’d ever imagined over the past 10 years. He puts up with my junk and challenges me to do better. He does the laundry…  we can stop there, right?!

I had the boys do a similar activity and I was so surprised at their responses. It made my heart happy to see that we must be doing something right!

 

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November 5, 2019 · 8:28 pm

The Bean Boys

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I am participating in the Timberdoodle Blog Hop. 71206647_2709305475757006_1934004123913420800_nI thought I would take a moment to introduce my boys to our new readers and update those who have been following our story.

This is Mr. Man… 60960982_10215965262458578_7231202579600900096_o

He is my sweet, loving, 7-year-old, Pokemon fanatic. He loves to sing and draw. He was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD, along with a few other letters, on his 5th birthday. He has challenged everything I thought I knew about children, child development, and parenting. After a tumultuous start to his schooling, we made the decision to pull him from school and see how we did with homeschooling. A year and a half later, we haven’t looked back. I can’t imagine any other way. It just wouldn’t work for our family. Mr. Man is an ecstatic reader who’s voice amazed those who have the opportunity to listen. He struggles with math but tries very hard. He has walked through more than most children his age and is the bravest little man I know.

“My favorite part of doing school at home is that I can take a break.” ~Mr. Man

 

Meet Monkey…

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He lives life hard and loud. He has always been our firecracker and takes living up to the title seriously. At 5-years-old, Monkey is full of humor, wit and a smile that is going to get him into SO much trouble. He’s quick to let you know he’s in charge. He can be the happiest person I know or the angriest. His temper and outbursts of anger have kept us on our toes lately, and have risen to a level of concern. This is a roller coaster I was not prepared to hop back on, not with this child. Academically, he is constantly amazing us. He’s my math man and ridiculously clever. He keeps us laughing for sure (which is a needed balance to the crying). Monkey loves Mario, cooking, and board games. He’s definitely Daddy‘s little gamer.

“I like letters, numbers, reading, and dot-to-dot!” ~Monkey

 

48411421_10214850112740532_2319250552787042304_oThese two are my life, my reason and the fire behind my blog. They keep me busier than I ever imagined and have taught me more than I ever knew I could learn. They’ve tried me far beyond any patience I thought I had and have brought incomprehensible joy to my days. 

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Turing Tumble: A Timberdoodle Review

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In a generation of computers, coding, and engineering, Turing Tumble appears to be a wonderfully fun and unique hands-on learning experience for our children. I was given the opportunity to review this product and am eager to share what the Beans think.

DSC_0194First, what is Turing Tumble? Simply, it is a hands-on logic puzzle that will help our children learn how computers work using coding, switches, bits, binary counting and a lot of problem-solving. The students read through a comic book style activity manual and complete puzzles as they go, all while manipulating components on a puzzle board. Turing Tumble is available at Timberdoodle and is included as part of their 2019 Sixth-Grade Curriculum Kit. 

So what did the Beans think? I wanted to love this product, I truly did. The product and manual are gorgeous and very inviting. I think it has a ton of potential, but sadly it is not for us, at this time. I am not saying it’s a bad product, or that I wouldn’t recommend it for the right family It just doesn’t work for my family, right now. Let me explain in more detail…

The good… DSC_0165

The product is beautiful and really well made. My husband even commented on how impressed he was by the inserts that are included to keep everything neat and organized. He’s a board gamer so inserts are very important. The book is inviting and eye-catching. I like how the puzzles introduce new pieces and scaffold the student’s learning to move them along from puzzle to puzzle. My 5-year-old is my logical child, while he obviously couldn’t read the comic or follow the logic, we did have great conversations about the patterns that were created while working the puzzles.

Why it didn’t work for us…

dsc_0183.jpgMy children are a little young for the product. We knew this when we began, the recommended age for this product is 8+. Mr. Man is 7. However, with ASD he sometimes takes to activities such as this in a way that surprises us all. Sadly, he showed absolutely no interest whatsoever. This is the way of our life, everything is “go big or go home”. One problem he had while we worked through the puzzles was that it was very difficult for him to manipulate the pieces or place the tiny balls due to fine-motor weaknesses. I myself became frustrated at the balls constantly falling when trying to insert them in the starting position. I feel like this could easily be fixed with a small piece of clear plastic on this part of the computer board. Perhaps with a hole to load the balls into. The plastic would keep the balls from constantly popping out of place and requiring one to reset the whole system. I also realized, after we started, that this is a hard activity for a child who struggles with cause and effect.

While this activity was too advanced for my children, my husband and I enjoyed working through the puzzles, to an extent. This activity does not work well for someone with a low frustration tolerance (or a Mama who is trying to reduce stress for medical reasons)! I also believe that it will work better for children who do not give up easily. Some of the puzzles require a lot of trial and error and a good dose of patience.

DSC_0195Who would it work for…

I think this product would be great for the right family. I definitely recommend it for older children who have an interest in computers, logic, and coding. Logical thinkers who enjoy solving puzzles will love Turing Tumble. This would make a great cooperative small group activity. Again, probably best for a child who isn’t easily frustrated. I definitely plan on keeping this one on our shelf to bring out again in a few years.

 

 

 

 

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Oh, To Be Organized…

Today, I’m joining in with Timberdoodle’s Home Organization Blog Hop. 69414178_2648680921819462_2915071200889667584_n

I am probably the last person who should write a post about organization! I have great intentions. I feel so much less stress when the clutter is gone and my home is organized. My Pinterest page has tons of pins to help me get my rear in gear and everything works out beautifully in my head. However, I can’t seem to get a handle on it in real life! My garage and children’s room is currently in a state of utter chaos in an ongoing attempt to get organized. My office is a disaster and the homeschool supplies are in a constant state of vagrancy. So instead of writing to tell you all the amazing organizational tips that I use, I am waving the white flag and letting you peek into our chaos. I will share what we are attempting to accomplish (I quite literally just disassembled a bed) and hope that if you have some amazing insights, you will share them! I hope you will not judge my mess… life is chaotic, to say the least! Plus, I feel that it’s important to show other moms that it’s not all Pinterest perfect. Far from!

Here are my before picture. Hopefully, by posting this I will be holding myself accountable to update this blog with finished organized projects (the boys’ beds are scheduled for delivery this week!)

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Before…

You wouldn’t know it looking at our home, but about a year ago we made a decision to work toward creating a more minimalistic home. You can’t tell, but we have gotten rid of a lot (sans books and legos….those were a deal-breaker! They are our joy.) While I am still anxiously awaiting the day when I feel like this goal has been met, I DO notice it when I am at the store. I find that more and more often I see things, get ideas, and then simply leave empty-handed. I may be slow in fixing the problem, but at least I am no longer feeding it! Below I discuss three areas of our life that could always stand to be more organized and what I am doing to accomplish that.

Boys room

Because I work from home and need a quiet space that can be locked to prevent interruptions while on video, it has become necessary for the boys to share a room. I had started by using a corner of the garage as an office, but in the Arizona summers, my classroom was literally melting (and so was I!) Eventually, we moved the boys together and created an office/homeschool room. The problem is, two boys in one small room means very little space to play and very little personal space. We are also finding that having toys in their room is not working out so well. So, in an attempt to create personal space and maintain sanity, the boys’ room will be getting a makeover, which I will proudly show off in an update when the beds arrive. The idea is to create their own spaces and move the toys into the garage, creating an area where they can access their toys that is not in their rooms. However, the garage redo is not happening for a few months as its still well over 100 degrees out there.

Homeschool

DSC_0152I am a planner. I love creating curriculum, planning our days… I just love it. Don’t ask me to create a bulletin board ever again! But, I will plan a unit study for you, no problem. I’m the mom who would spend July planning our entire year. Then get frustrated when those plans were ruined within the first week. I had to teach myself to start planning for a shorter amount of time. I’ve also tried just about every planner on the market (digital and physical). Yet, I always found myself frustrated. Look at all the things we didn’t get done! Then I started something new. Instead of writing down what I planned to do, I wrote down what we actually did each day. While this was a big confidence booster that we do indeed accomplish a lot, it still didn’t quite fill my need to plan. This is our current method and it’s actually working for me. My kids go to an enrichment program on Fridays, so this is my planning day. I use regular old lined paper and write down the lessons we plan to complete in the next four-day loop. Then, as we complete a lesson or activity, I highlight it. This shows me exactly what we accomplished, while still giving me a basic outlined plan to follow. On Friday, I simply move anything we didn’t get to into the first available spots for the next week and we move on with our lives! It is so ridiculously simple. Anyone else LOVE simple?!

Meals

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Tortellini Soup

I am not really sure if this falls under organization or not, but it feels like it should as it has made my life SO much easier. A friend recently introduced me to a meal prepping company called Citrus Pear. You pay for your meals, they shop, you go and spend 2 hours meal prepping and leave with enough freezer meals to last the month, they clean up. I am in love! The meals are reasonable and all I have to do is throw them in the instant pot. Mr. Man has cleaned his plate every night (big deal!!!) and my husband is excited to see a variety of meals (including meat) come across the table again. I love that the meals are prepared using (mostly) unprocessed items and I’ve lost 4 lbs since I started using them (which is a huge deal!… especially since I have changed nothing else). Dinner has never been easier. Check out their site to see if they have a location near you, I highly recommend it.

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The Simple Things

DSC_0060One of the things I love about homeschooling is how every activity becomes a springboard to learning. Whether it be a trip to the aquarium leading to an in-depth look at the creation of in-home aquatic habitats, which is still currently under discussion. No, we cannot keep jellyfish in our pool! Or, a simple family outing for ice cream sparking curiosity about how ice cream is made. There is an abundance of opportunities available, that don’t require a book.

DSC_0072After one such trip out for ice cream, the boys practiced reading a recipe, following measurements and listening to directions in order to make their very own blueberry ice cream.  They were intrigued at how the cream thickened from a liquid into ice cream, as they know it. However, they were not impressed by how much time and work the process took. While they enjoyed the experience and treat, they still prefer to get their ice cream from the store. Oh, well. Perhaps, next week I will show them how to make their own butter!

DSC_0100Whether an outing is the culmination of a learning experience or the start of one, don’t miss the simple opportunities available within your own communities. These real-world experiences are what make education real to our children. These will be the lessons they remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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