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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Our 2014 Homeschool Curriculum

I'm nearly ready to start our homeschool year.  And by "nearly ready", I mean I still don't really know what I'm doing, but I have resources for most of my subjects, and a few things specifically written out, so that's something, right?  I think because we don't officially have to report this year since Jonah is not at the age limit of 6 for Wisconsin, I feel a little bit more at ease about jumping into things and seeing how it works as we go.  This is major progress for my Type A planning personality, by the way.

Here's what we have planned to use for this year.  I am guessing at least some of this will change as we figure out what works for us, but this is at least where we are starting.

One of my big resources is Wittenberg Academy, a free classical Lutheran homeschool curriculum.  This is their first year, so it will be kind of cool to see how it all works.  They use public domain (meaning free) resources and pdfs, and the curriculum is all set up for you as long as you are registered.  We won't be using all of the subjects, because I have some things I wanted to do differently, but we will use this for some subjects.

Bible Stories, Memory Work, and Hymnology.  This is actually the one thing I don't have fully figured out yet.  You'd think the pastor's wife would be on the ball with this one, but no.  We are using Wittenberg Academy for some of our other subjects, and I expected them to have a Bible History section, but I haven't found it yet.  So I'm still looking into that.  We were going to do Christ Light, but it's kind of expensive.

For Memory Work, we will be starting On My Heart, and I will also be picking one hymn to work on each week.  Most will be seasonally appropriate, or something that we will be singing in church soon (as the organist, I have all the ins on what's coming up).

Math. We are starting out with the math on Wittenberg Academy, which is a 3-day-a-week setup.  I will supplement this with activities and worksheets that I find online for free.  It seems really basic (it is Kindergarten math after all), so if Jonah ends up flying through it really quickly, I may still look into ordering Saxon, which is what I originally planned on.  However, free won out over $60, at least to start.

Reading.  For learning letters, we are using Letter of the Week, which I found awhile ago and really liked, and then it was also recommended by a teacher friend, which is a bonus.  The only sad part for me is we have a black and white printer, which means some of the materials I'll have to print, and then attempt to color to make them pretty.  I'll supplement this with other letter-appropriate crafts and projects I find online.

We will also be reading a lot!  I'll be using reading lists like this to find books that reinforce the letter of the week.  We're also going to be doing a chapter a day of some longer books, starting with Stuart Little.  And finally, we'll have other more factual books available that go with our science units.  Plus, Jonah and Matthew each pick out 2-3 books for fun each week at the library.  Read read read!

Handwriting. There are tons of free resources out there for handwriting practice.  We'll be using some of these each week to go with our letter of the week.
  • Letters of All Sizes from The Measured Mom. This will be our introductory page each week to get used to writing the letter.
  • Alphabet Tracing Worksheets from Itsy Bitsy Fun. This will be practice for writing uppercase and lowercase of each letter.
  • A-Z Beginner's Handwriting Book from CurrClick. This one has the letter, a short word, and a space for drawing a picture of that word.
  • Bible Based Handwriting Curriculum from Frugal Homeschool Family. This one starts with letters, moves on to Biblical names and words, and eventually to Bible passages. It was on a special free promotion last week, so I picked it up!
I like A Reason For Handwriting, especially because there are Bible verses that go with each letter, but I chose not to do that this year for two reasons. First, I have enough other free resources for now, and second, because the Bible verses don't start until the next book anyway. We may revisit that for next year.

Science. Right now my plan is to do units on different topics.  I do also like the science included in the Wittenberg Academy curriculum, because it includes Biblical stories and principles in it, so we will probably use that too, as it fits in with the topics.  Our first unit will be Oceans, ending with a field trip to Lake Michigan toward the end of September (that's as close as we get to an ocean in the midwest, but we'll talk about the differences too).

History.  I looked into Story of the World, and I really like it, but I think it may be just a bit over Jonah's head, and since it's geared toward starting in 1st grade, we're going to wait on that until next year.  Our history this year will focus on holidays, plus other random little tidbits as they come up, like learning about Johnny Appleseed during the month of September.

Art. Our art projects will go along with our Letter of the Week, Science, or the season.  For little kids, there are endless amounts of project ideas online, and I like to think I'm creative every now and then, so we should have no issue coming up with these!

I think that's it!  Right now I have my first month or so mapped out with lots and lots to do every morning of the 5-day week.  We won't do it all.  I'm at least realistic enough to know that.  We may end up shifting into a 4-day week if 5 days gets to be too much, especially with doctor appointments and grocery shopping and household things.  But for now, this is the plan!  

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

On Diapers and the Walgreens Well Beginnings Brand

Last week we ran out of overnight diapers.  I knew that it would be a few days before I had money in my Amazon account from Swagbucks to order more, so it was time to try something different.  I put Hannah in a Well Beginnings diaper from Walgreens and crossed my fingers.  And it worked! It lasted the whole night without leaks.  
The last time we tried store brand diapers for overnights, it did not go well.  We had leaks by the wee hours of the morning, unhappy kids, and tired parents.  This was definitely better.  These diapers have lots of great features, like a wetness indicator on the smaller sizes and a stretchy waistband, but my favorite feature is the price.  These diapers are $8.99 for a jumbo pack, but they're on sale quite often for less.  If you follow this blog, you've seen them several times in my weekly coupon posts.
Well Beginnings is Walgreens' brand for all your baby product needs, from diapers and wipes to baby wash to formula.  I have always been a firm believer that store brands are just as good as name brands, and this brand has the quality products to back me up.  For more information on all the products, you can check out the Well Beginnings website, or the Walgreens Facebook page.

We don't use disposables all the time, but when we do, I like to know that they're up to the challenge.  And saving money is always a plus!

Some links in this post are affiliate links.
Disclosure: I received a Well Beginnings sample pack and coupons from Moms Meet as compensation for this review.  As always, all opinions are my own.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What I'm Reading...

Over the last few weeks Hannah has become obsessed with having her shoes on, and has gone from taking a few hesitant steps to walking everywhere, all the time.  She's growing up so fast!

Can I See Your Belly Button? Maybe it's the pregnancy hormones, but this one made me cry. (Momastery via Life Your Way)

A Life-Changing Challenge: Add One Compliment. This is an interesting idea, and I bet it would result in a lot of extra good feelings. (Becoming Minimalist)

30 Great Gifts For $5 (Or Less!). There are a lot of good ideas on this list. I might be biased though, because practical, consumable gifts are my favorite, and I know they're not for everyone. (The Simple Dollar)

Play Is A Child's Work. This is a good reminder for me to just let play happen, even if it sometimes turns into unorganized chaos. (Simple Homeschool)

The One-Pile Cleaning Method For Kids. We do this sometimes when there's a lot to pick up in the living room, and it works! (Life Your Way)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Menu Plan August 16-31

With the abundance of fresh veggies at the Farmer's Market, we decided to have ratatouille for dinner last meal plan.  It was both beautiful and delicious! (The kids were not as thrilled about it though)

Here's what's on the menu this time around:

Saturday, August 16
Breakfast: Whatever you find (yogurt/granola, cereal, oatmeal)
Lunch: Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese
Dinner: Stuffed Peppers

Sunday, August 17
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: BLTs
Dinner: Mini Pepper Nachos with Black Beans

Monday, August 18
Breakfast: Zucchini Apple Muffins
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Cheesy Chicken Rice Bake

Tuesday, August 19
Breakfast: Zucchini Apple Muffins
Lunch: Cobb Salads
Dinner: Leftover Cheesy Chicken Rice Bake

Wednesday, August 20
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Crockpot Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions over Rice
Dinner: Oatmeal Pancakes

Thursday, August 21
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Leftover Crockpot Italian Sausage with Peppers and Onions
Dinner: Black Bean Burgers, Sweet Potato Fries

Friday, August 22
Breakfast: Eggs and Veggies
Lunch: Pinto Bean and Ground Turkey Taco Salads
Dinner: Chicken Pepper Bake

Saturday, August 23
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Sandwiches
Dinner: Leftover Chicken Pepper Bake or Stir Fry (the chicken pepper bake is a new recipe, so I'm not sure if it will be enough for two nights, so I'll have a bag of stir fry veggies ready just in case)

Sunday, August 24
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Soups from the Freezer, Easy Cheesy Biscuits
Dinner: Homemade Pizza - chicken, black olives, mushrooms, and whatever random veggies we have

Monday, August 25
Breakfast: Eggs, Bacon, and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Homemade Macaroni and Cheese, Hot Dogs
Dinner: Mini Meat Loaves, Broccoli

Tuesday, August 26
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Mini Meat Loaves
Dinner: Crockpot Southern Chicken Stew, Biscuits

Wednesday, August 27
Breakfast: Eggs and Toast
Lunch: Chicken Enchilada Chili
Dinner: Leftover Southern Chicken Stew and Biscuits

Thursday, August 28
Breakfast: Yogurt and Homemade Granola
Lunch: Leftover Chicken Enchilada Chili
Dinner: Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuits

Friday, August 29
Breakfast: Strawberry Baked Oatmeal
Lunch: Loaded Baked Sweet Potatoes
Dinner: Chicken Fajitas

Saturday, August 30
Breakfast: Eggs, Mushrooms, and Sweet Potatoes
Lunch: Mushroom Vegetable Soup with Barley
Dinner: Enchiladas

Sunday, August 31
Breakfast: Cereal
Lunch: Leftover Mushroom Vegetable Soup
Dinner: Leftover Enchiladas

I'm also planning on making some Chocolate Zucchini Muffins for snacking and the freezer, or some Zucchini Brownies (or maybe both!).  We are blessed with friends and neighbors who are sharing their garden goodies with us, and the zucchini is flooding in!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Weekly Coupon Shopping

I went back and forth over doing this deal, because it would use up all of my extra cash in my grocery money for the month, but I decided to do it anyways.  It just means if I need any non-food items for the rest of the month, I'm limited to Walgreens points and a few CVS ECBs that I have leftover.  But I should be set, so I think that's okay.

  • Angel Soft 24 pack: $8.99, get 1,000 points ($1.00).  Used $1/1 printable = paid $7.99, got 1,000 points.
  • 2 Well Beginnings Jumbo Packs: B1G1 50% off $6.00, plus get 2,000 points when you buy 2.  Used $1/1 coupon (came with a blog pack - look for a review next week!) = paid $8.00, got 2,000 points.
  • Cheerios: on clearance for $1.09. Used $1/1 (mailer) = $0.09, plus I'll get $0.75 back from SavingStar!
  • Starbucks Iced Coffee: $1.79. Used $1/1 printable (no longer available) = $0.79.
  • 3 Lindsay Olives: $0.99 (ad coupon). Used $1/2 printable = paid $0.49 for 2 and $0.99 for 1.
  • 2 Dawn Dish Soaps: $0.99 each. Used two $0.30/1 printables = paid $0.69 each.
  • Used 5,000 points when you spend $25+ ad coupon = paid $21.22 with tax, got 8,000 points back (1,000 for Angel Soft, 2,000 for diapers, 5,000 for the ad coupon).  
I also have at least 5,000 points on my card, so I'll have to check to see what the next level of cashing them out is. I know 5,000 is $5, but I think the rate gets better if you have more points.  I haven't done much with the points system so far, although I do have it set up to earn points for steps with my Fitbit too, so I get points from that as well.  Every bit helps!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Iron Craft Challenge #16: Summer Whites

I really thought a project for a color challenge would be easy to come up with.  And then we got one, and I drew a big fat blank.  Finally, last night, I looked at what materials I had that fit with the color, white.  White felt stood out, especially as something I could whip up quickly.  At this rate I'm going to have enough Christmas ornaments to decorate a whole tree, just from Iron Craft challenges!  But I like making them, and they're usually quick and easy.
I wanted to do a poofy tree with rounded branches, and I think I accomplished that.  I drew a pattern on felt, and cut it out.  I sewed the crystal beads (leftover from Challenge #1 this year) onto one side, then sewed the two sides together most of the way.  I flipped it right side out, stuffed it, and sewed up the rest of the seam.  And that was that!
How many Christmas ornaments am I up to now?  How many more challenges will I end up making them for?

Sunday, August 10, 2014

What I'm Reading...

I've been participating in 31 Reasons I Love My Husband for the month of August. You can see all of my pictures over on Instagram.

The Care And Feeding Of Your Microbiome. This is a longer post, but worth the read! There's lots of good information here about the good bacteria in your gut. (Kitchen Stewardship)

The Meal-Planning Binder: The Easiest Method Of Meal Planning Ever! I have a binder with our favorite recipes in it, but it consists of our favorites from the last four years or so, half on note cards and half printed out, and there are many that we don't use any more because our eating habits have shifted.  It's a good idea, but mine is badly in need of reorganization! (Little House Living)

We HAVE The Time...We Just Don't MAKE It. This is a good reminder that you always have a choice in how you spend your time (Andrea Dekker)

The Easiest Way To Organize Your Stuff. Couldn't have said it better myself. (The Minimalists)

For The Love Of Reading: Make Each Story A Celebration.  I don't always feel like it, but I know my kids love when I do certain voices for certain stories. (The Happiest Home)