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Are you burdened? Overwhelmed?

Are you burdened? Overwhelmed?

I was reading in my Homeschool Mom’s Bible Devotion today. It is a devotion on Too Many Loads. This one really hit close to home for me as, over the past few months, I have been feeling like my load is tremendously heavy.

On the days where these feelings are pushing my sanity to the brink of explosion because the overwhelm has weighed me down so much. I stop.

Then after I turn to God and ask him to help me to face all the tasks before me. I then make a list of all the things I feel I need to complete. Once I have that list, I sort those tasks into four different categories 1-things that are high priority and I need to complete right away, 2-if it is important but not urgent, 3-urgent but not important, and 4-not important, not urgent. Using Covey’s Time Management Matrix, I find that it gives me the reality check that I have been needing.

Cause here is the thing, there are so many times that we feel like everything on our list is important and urgently needs to be done, but in reality, it is not. Many of the things we have on the list are things that can wait or even be delegated to someone else.

I felt the need to share this for two reasons 1- I know that with summer ending and the transition time happening for families to get back into the full swing of homeschool lessons, co-ops, field trips, and such, plus keep up with the house, appointments, working, church obligations, and all the other things on the list. Plus, be tasked with all those that we don’t put on a list, like making food (cause you know we have to keep the littles alive), breaking up fights or calming tantrums, the breaking of an appliance, an unexpected drop-in by a family member or friend, this list is ultimately long, of course, unexpected and can go on for days if we really said each thing out loud.

Secondly, when the overwhelming feelings of things being a burden amp up, it is usually a time when we need to turn to God and recheck our situation.

The things that we deal with in our lives are not truly burdens. Yes, they may feel overwhelming, they may not be some things that we would have chosen for ourselves, and they may feel as if God is putting us through a test. And while in some ways he is. But, we do have to remember that the things we feel like are burdens are the dreams of others. Reality check, I know! And I get it when we are knee-deep in the trenches and clawing to dig ourselves out; things really do feel like a burden.

What I have found though, is once we have dug ourselves out and we look back at the whole experience, there are things to be grateful for. Lessons that we have learned to help us be better versions of ourselves.

Matthew 11:28 reminds us, “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Thus, we need to trust God, trust that he will provide the way to get us through the things we are viewing as a challenge or a burden.

For it is by God’s grace that we live each day. He tells us this in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

What I want you to remember is that every obstacle or burden we are coming up against is God’s way of reminding us that we need to turn to him as he will see us through.

So now it is your turn– Tell Me (in the comments)-Are you feeling burdened or overwhelmed right now? Is it something that one of us could help you get through? Pray for you? Take off your shoulders even for just a little while?

For the one reading this– Father, I pray that you fill them with your strength to make it through today. That you send the help that is needed to face all the tasks before them and remind them that you will always be there to see them through. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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See it & Say it, Flip Flop Spanish

See it & Say it, Flip Flop Spanish

For me, I LOVE Summits, I have attended so many, and this past year I have even been participating in them! Well, last year I attended the 2021 Homeschool Super Heroes Summit. It is an amazing resource for homeschooling families where a lot of Superheroes of the homeschool world come together to teach homeschooling families the wealth of information that they know.

The next Homeschool Super Heroes Summit is coming back soon (Early Bird Opens 8/8, Kickoff week opens 8/22), I will keep you informed on that as this year I am one of the Superheroes!

But, last year one of the sessions that stood out to me was the one called Getting Started with Foreign Language, by Suzanne Gose. She is the owner and curriculum writer for See it and Say it Flip Flop Spanish and Spanish Geniuses.

What I loved about the session was that Sra. Gose presented was that first and foremost, she was so down to earth. Making sure to keep everything she presents real. Not afraid to show her true self. And of course, the message she gave was amazing as well.

She is a homeschooling mom of 5 kiddos, one of whom has graduated, they all live in Texas, where she,  her husband, and kids live on a homestead.

And of course, she is bilingual in Spanish. Naturally, this is why she is presenting a session on getting started with a foreign language.

Her message explained the importance of taking the time to plan, time triggers, age ranges and what to do for each, obstacles you may come up against, and how to learn with each learning style that each child has.

The overall message truly had me hooked into looking more into what her curriculum was and how it could help my children with learning.

A perk of being an All Access Attendee with the Homeschool Super Heroes Summit was the VIP Bonus Bundle it included. One of those bonuses was Sra. Gose’s Flip Flop Nature Study. The bonus is usually $15 on her website and includes 5 weeks of detailed lesson plans and printable flashcards. Each lesson is to be done in just 4 days each week. Easy right?!?!

Well after trying out Flip Flop Spanish, I was hooked. My kids were asking for more. So, recently our family got the See it & Say it Flip Flop Spanish curriculum.

The boxed kit came quickly after the order was shipped. Upon opening the packaging and pulling out the See it and Say it Box the first thing I noticed was the cute disclaimer that it was for the whole family ages 3 to 93. I am sure it could be used even older than that but it was a cute reality that it was not just for kids.

The fact that it comes complete with games, charades, skits, audio, visual, and tactile learning, allows both children and parents alike to move quickly through the short audio tracks (about three per lesson) three times per week.

Lessons include optional writing elements as well as plenty of voice bubbles coming from mascot Egg Head (so adorable) to explain the grammatical concepts along the way.

In the picture on the front of the box there is also a short paragraph that says “Learn Spanish the way your brain learns! See the picture, Say the word. Put together a Spanish sentence. Complete the nouns, verbs, and adjectives, you’ll learn thousands of sentences with just more than 250 words. With 3 sets of flashcards and a flash drive full of audio, each lesson is spoken to you. Complete Two-Year curriculum for the whole family, ages 3 and up.”

I love this intro as to what one is going to find inside!!

I got even more excited. Personally, my sophomore year of high school was when I started taking Spanish, I took 3 years of it. I loved it, but the cliché use it or lose it stands out to me. While I do remember some of what I learned, it is nowhere near enough to be able to teach my children without guidance or a curriculum. Thus, my excitement.

Opening the box I found the setup pictured here:

As you can see the setup inside the box was just as intriguing as the outside of the box. The first thing you see upon opening the box is the Get started now explanation, a breakdown of what you find in the box, instructions on how often to do each lesson, and what to do with all the stuff in the box.

The beautiful design of the flashcards really blew me away. They are colored, carefully picked pictures that represent the words that are going to be used for the well-laid-out lessons.

The lesson plan pages are printed on high-quality paper already hole punched and ready to go into a binder. 

Included with those lesson pages are inserts for a binder with view pockets. To keep everything together and organized.

After taking everything out of the box I grabbed an empty binder and inserted the cover, spine, and back of the binder inserts. 

Then took the lessons and put them into the binder and topped those lesson pages with the two card holder pages to be used for sentence building. 

In the inner front pocket, I am storing the dry erase paddle and dry erase marker. Sra. Gose truly is a woman after my own heart. I love to be organized and she really thought everything through when she put the kit together. 

All the little things she did to help make the kit truly open and use with minimal setup, is an outstanding feature!!

 

Paging through and reading through the lessons, you can tell that the curriculum is designed around the Charlotte Mason methodology. It is all put together for engaging, grab-and-go, short lessons. Sra. Gose provides step-by-step instructions to be used in a two-year program, with optional expansion writing elements found in most lessons, and teachable bite-size chunks of language. All geared for you and your family to be able to master the Spanish language.

To say that Sra. Gose has thought of everything, she even has additional tools in her store to supplement, add fun with games, and read with the books. 

Flip Flop Spanish Store

 

I really love the entire setup, the lessons have effortless preparation, effortless implementation, and built-in breaks. Plus, being able to have the audio lessons go hand in hand with the written lesson plans and beautiful flash cards. The excitement of using this curriculum is immense. The bonus of the ongoing support through the blogs, social media posts, and newsletters from Sra. Gose, is the added bonus that makes using the curriculum an ongoing remarkable curriculum.

You have to check it out and get this easy-to-use, hands-on, engaging Spanish curriculum.  

Flip Flop Spanish

Check out this $200 Christianbooks.com giveaway below!!

Another (home) school year is about to start! Maybe you’ve already started your year, or maybe your school year never ended (you homeschool year-round). Either way, what homeschool mom couldn’t use a little extra money for homeschool curriculum or resources? Winning a gift card to a major online homeschool retailer would surely help you check some things off of your curriculum wish list!

I’ve teamed up with a great group of homeschool bloggers to bring you a HUGE gift card giveaway to Christianbooks.com

We will be blessing THREE homeschool families with a $200 gift card for you to use on curriculum, books, games, puzzles, or whatever educational supplies you might need!

We know homeschooling can put a financial strain on families – whether it’s from living on one income or buying curriculum for multiple children – the financial aspect of it can be stressful.

Our hope is that we can bless a few homeschool families (although we wish we could bless many more) and ease a little of that financial burden.

To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.

Now I know this is quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers has generously chipped in their own money to make this giveaway possible, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries. And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning!

The giveaway ends August 12, 2022 at 11:59pm ET. Must be at least 18 years of age. Must be a resident of U.S. or Canada to enter. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to the email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn.

By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers (see the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter form for the complete list).

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Questions to Ask When Choosing Your Curriculum

Choosing a curriculum should not feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders.  The options can sometimes be overwhelming. But if you follow these tips and steps, it will help guide you through the process and make things seem less overwhelming.

I put together a list of questions that have helped me when making the decisions on which curriculum my husband and I find as the choice that aligns with what we are wanting to teach our children.

To start you need to know you have options.  Know that the process will take some time, but if you do it right the first time it will save you time and money in the long run.

 

The first thing you need to do is sit down and create a list of things that you believe and value. A list of things that when you fast forward to your grown-up adult children, what would those children have instilled in them, what kind of citizens will they be. Once you have that list write out a vision statement. Include what you want your family to gain from their homeschool journey. After you have created this list, you can then work through these questions to help you choose your curriculum. 

Question One- Can I Afford it?

While we would love to purchase all the curriculum that we find fits our family’s needs, doing so would leave us broke as I know that we can’t all be Angelina Jolie & Bratt Pitt, or Will and Jada Smith or Jennifer Lopez. We need to set a budget. You need to set a budget. If you cannot afford it, it will not be worth the money; while this is tough, I can tell you there are other ways to teach your child that same curriculum. This lead to the next question…

Question two- Could you borrow it?

I can tell you from personal experience that there are options to borrow your curriculum, books for supplemental reading, and even kits for experiments. All it takes is checking if there are options for the curriculum choices at your local library and if so borrow them. Another option is to see if a fellow homeschool family that may have it that you ask if you could borrow it. Depending on the rules of the local school system you may even be able to ask the local school if they have the items you may be looking for. For example, if you are looking for specific microscope slides, science equipment, or other supplemental supplies you may be needing. Not all districts are willing to do this, but there are some that are willing to, so it does not hurt to ask. 

Question Three- Does the Material Focus on Questions and Significance?

This was a hard lesson for our family, things I thought were fun, my kids didn’t, and it made things difficult. I later found answers are boring, puzzles to solve were not interesting, getting to the answer was difficult or didn’t make sense, usually ended in having someone else tell all the answers just to get it done.

Question Four-Do I have time in the day to use this?

This is especially important to consider when buying extra supplemental materials. We want our children to learn it all but if you are trying to fit it all in. Here’s the thing, if you and your children do more than you are capable of, more than there is time in the day, you will burn out from the amount of load that you are trying to get through. So, be honest with yourself, and look at what is on your plate for the season that you are in. Take a deep look at what you and your kids have on your schedule, what is going to be happening in the next 6 months to a year, and make sure that you will have the time to do it. Also, look at if your child will be able to handle the amount of work to the amount of time they have to do it. 

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Question Five-Do the assignments stay focused on the meaning or lead the child down rabbit trails of distraction?

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Sometimes hands-on activities are just distractions in disguise. It is why it is important to ask yourself. Will the activities keep your child thinking about the meaning/concept/fact you are trying to get into their long-term memory? Does the curriculum create thinking? If our students don’t actively think, they won’t remember, hence they aren’t learning.

Question Six-Is it well-organized?

With a wealth of information at our fingertips, we find the need to buy a curriculum to get something that is organized and put together, making life easier. Organization equals time and time equals money. This means that even the best intentions can cause chaos. I honestly believe that there are times when less is more. This means that it is more effective to teach curriculum/lessons that are helping provide student motivation, performance, and interest. It also means that it allows for you the instructor, the teacher, you the parent to have the opportunity to enhance their learning and provide them with the motivation that they will find to drive them to do more. 

When the curriculum is designed so that the learning goals align with the activities and assessments to help students develop their knowledge, awareness, and their own ideas you will find that it is a curriculum that is well-organized. 

Question Seven- Will it be easy to use?

The truth is if it isn’t easy to use you probably won’t use it. That is why it is not just important to be well-organized but it means that if you are not finding what you are looking for, then take the time and do your research and piece together some of the millions of free resources that allow you to carefully craft them together yourself for something you know your children will learn from and use. Something that will work for your child and their needs, your time, and the ultimate goal you have for your child to learn. 

Question Eight-Are the assignments interesting/engaging?

Having varieties in input (auditory (learns best by hearing the lesson), visual (learns best by seeing the lesson), and kinesthetic (learning by being hands-on, touching, doing it for themself)) can help keep things interesting. As will keeping the lessons on the short side. This is important especially when your kids are young. This also means using a variety of types of thinking (convergent (doing and thinking), divergent (feeling and watching), assimilating (watching and thinking), accommodating (doing and feeling), etc.) to help ingrain things in their growing brains. If you are not sure of your child’s learning type check out the quiz over on Homeschool and Humor to find out: 

What’s My Child’s Learning Style? Take the Quiz!

 

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Question Nine- Will it develop a child’s mind, body, and soul?

Not every subject has to do all three, but the curriculum you choose should be considering all these areas. You are the director of education in your home, it is essential you keep all of these in mind when building your days. When you don’t schedule these aspects, they will become neglected, and you do want to be feeding each aspect. You can ask yourself these questions to fully understand if what you are teaching is doing this. First does your child seem excited about what they are learning, what they are doing, and how they are learning. Next questions to ask are how does your child like to move, and what are their favorite physical activities? The last questions to ask are what inspires your child, what does your child need to work on values, and 

Deciding on a curriculum really does come down to what fits your child. My hope is that these questions will help you process if the curriculum you are looking at is that fit. 

Know that you will find times when the curriculum you think is a fit, will not actually be. This is alright. Curriculum is not one size fits all, that is why we find so many options on the market. 

Make sure to take your time, think things through, and make the choices you feel will work. Blessing for your family and this amazing journey of being able to provide your child with a customized homeschool education. 

Leave a comment and tell me if you have other questions you may have on choosing a curriculum or homeschooling, I would love to hear from you!

Sign up here to get your PDF copy of these questions.

Are you ready for a new (home) school year?

It’s that time of year, when many homeschoolers are busy preparing for a brand new school year.  Some of you may have already started your new year, and some of you may have never stopped!

Planning for a new school year and finalizing curriculum choices can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful, especially when you are trying to stick to a tight homeschool budget.

I’ve gotten together with a great group of bloggers to make getting ready for your new school year just a little bit easier and hopefully a little less stressful for you.  How does $200 sound in helping you buy curriculum, books, games, puzzles, and educational supplies. Three people will win a $200 gift card to Rainbow Resource Center!! 

Our hope is that we can bless a few homeschool families (although we wish we could bless many more) so they can buy the curriculum and supplies they need for their school year.

To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Now I know this is quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers and I have generously chipped in their own money to make this giveaway possible, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries.  And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning!

Giveaway ends July 22, 2022 at 11:59pm ET. Must be at least 18 years of age. Must be a resident of U.S. or Canada to enter. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers, (see the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter form for the complete list).

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Lessons I learned from a bedroom full of mold!!

Lessons I learned from a bedroom full of mold!!

It was January 22, 2022- It was supposed to be a sabbath day for us. Which for our family means that we put phones and tablets away. Then we spend the day playing board games, watching movies, and just having fun. We cook a quick-style meal, or we order some food. Making memories, praising God, and just allowing the day to happen.


This day started later than usual as we all felt ill, an asthma allergy type of sickness that had been going on for quite a while. Now before you suggest, it sounds like it could have been the nasty C word. I am going to stop you and say it was not. My proof came head-on when Jon went into the third bedroom. At the time, we were using it as a playroom (another story for another day). He went there to gather the board games we were going to play for the day. After a few minutes of being in there, he started sending me pictures. This was the first one.

It just kept getting worse!

Then he started investigating more and more, pulling down the board games and the books we had on the bookshelves on the one wall. The more he moved, the more mold we discovered. I felt defeated as we emptied the room and took a reality of all the things we had lost from the mold. If we would not have had found the mold when we did, how much worse it would have been. We lost all the bookshelves in the room, which were two large wooden ones, six nine-cube shelves, and a larger eight-cube shelf. We lost books, art and school supplies, but the worst was the time we were supposed to be spending together as a family—not spending time emptying a room that was full of mold. The mold had been making us sick for a while. The mold was the final straw. We called the maintenance that was on call because, as you can see from the date, it was a Saturday, and the office is closed on weekends. That person told us to do what we had already started doing. To clean the mold. Defeated, frustrated, and sad, we had to wait to see what the office would do about it on Monday. In the meantime, we were cleaning a mess.

How much is too much?

Monday comes, and we talk with the office. All we were told was that she (the property manager) would be at our apartment at about 1 pm with the vice president of the property and the complex’s project manager. The time comes, and the three show up and come in. Of course, by this time, the mold does not look like it does in the pictures because my husband had made sure to clean it as best he could. So, they only had pictures to go off of. 


Quick side note, on Saturday, after finding the mold, my feelings of defeat led me to reach out to my family and friends on Facebook. Posting the pictures and explained how I was feeling. For support, we had been through a lot over the past four months, a lot of loss of family to Covid, financial distress from lack of work, and dealing with the illness of five of our six family members that we could not figure out. Mind you, my older three have been tested and confirmed, as was I, that we are allergic to mold. The baby has not had testing yet, but from all the similar symptoms we were having, we are pretty sure he is as well. 


So, when the vice president makes a comment about my posting to Facebook as an attack on them. I started to get even more frustrated than I already was. I defended myself even stating in my Facebook response that our property manager was amazing (see pic).

Both the vice president and property manager (who up until this mold incident had been exactly how I defended her to be) had made some snarky comments that they “didn’t mean anything by” about our family of six having too much stuff. 


First of all, that judgment came as an attack on our choice to homeschool because the stuff they are referring to was the books, school supplies, the items needed for science and art projects, the “stuff” we used to teach our four children. The “stuff they were referring to was the toys the kids play with, the shelves and bins to contain those toys, and paperwork we used for the many aspects of our lives. Including the business, we were trying to start for my husband, the schoolwork we needed to keep for records, the medical paperwork we needed for each of our children, not to mention all the other necessary paperwork. The stuff which included clothes for each of our six family members, the snow attire as it was January, and the items and food for Luna as she also had her needs. I countered to explain to them that we use these items to homeschool. Their reply was a comment along the lines of “oh, well I never knew you needed all this stuff to homeschool, we didn’t do that with our kids.”


Just a note since we had to empty all the contents of the mold-filled room, so they would be able to work in there to “fix” the issue. All of these items were sitting in my living room, dining room, and garage as we still needed a place for everyone to sleep at the end of the day.

False Faith

I try very hard to have thick skin and not let things get to me, but my emotions were running high at this point in time with all that had taken place over the past few months. So, my mama bear was starting to show. I do not appreciate being insulted for my decisions and choices for MY family. My reasoning that I do the things that I do should not have to be explained because of the insults I receive. Nor did I appreciate the fact that we were living in a toxic environment for our family.

 

They continued to treat me like I was a pain for putting in a complaint and like the mold was not as big of a problem as it was. They stated they were going to deal with it properly, I was told they would have Paul David Restoration come out and look at things to give a quote. This would not happen until Friday when said person would come out. 

Friday comes, and the person from Paul David Restoration comes out. He was a very nice person. I explained everything, showed him all the pictures, and after an examination of the room, he made some notes. Then he told me that this was a very serious situation and to remedy they would have to cut down at least half of the drywall of all the walls in the room to search behind them, as he was pretty sure there was mold behind them. He stated that they would remove the carpeting as the mold in the room was not something that could just be steam cleaned away, especially with the medical conditions of my boys. He understood and said numerous times that this was not something to take lightly. I ended that week feeling like something was going to be done properly, and my sons’ and my health would turn around. 


Well, how do you think things went? Do you believe, as I did at that moment, that something was going to be done, that the problem would be handled seriously? Well, if so, you would be wrong, just like I was. That is not how this story goes. 
 

It was Wednesday before the bid was completed and turned in to the property manager. Of course, I was not told how much the bid was, and really, I didn’t feel it was my place, but in what happens next, I am sure it was a lot. 


The property manager called to tell me that the project manager would be back to move forward with remedying the mold situation as they would not be moving forward with Paul Davis Restoration. The following Monday, he would be by to remove the carpet and figure out where the mold and condensation were coming from. 

When the project manager shows up, he starts by opening the wall. After opening up the wall the project manager tells me there is no mold behind the wall but as you can see from the above picture the insulation was discolored and on the 2×4 next to it there was the start of mold. But he refused to let me get more pictures after I took this first one. It was at this point the first of many red flags started to go up. It was disheartening how much time and struggle the next few weeks would bring. Unannounced drop-ins, little to no communication as to what was going on at times, being talked to like I was unintelligible.

Quick History Lesson

To help you understand why I was getting frustrated by the way he kept talking to me like I didn’t understand what was going on, here is some history on me. I grew up with a father who owned his own home improvement business, watching him and even helping him with his projects. Listening to the conversations, the terminology, and stories of houses he would fix.

I also had 5 uncles on my maternal side that all either ran their own home improvement businesses or worked for companies that were. My “church dad” also had a home improvement business for 17 years, where he did mold remediation, among other things.

Plus, my husband started his home improvement business, as he has over 20 years of experience, he has worked in so many aspects of home improvement everything from heating and cooling, painting, carpentry, roofing, basically everything from the roof to the foundation of a house. I also worked as an office manager for my dad, for a well-known painting company, a heating & cooling company, a commercial contractor for a hospital being built, and a few other home improvement companies. As you can see, I am knowledgeable about the inner working of a house, how it works, and how to fix things if they go wrong. Of the lingo used in the industry. As a quick study if I don’t know something, I have many resources to reach out to (as I mentioned above) or there is always good ole Google or YouTube. One such resource I did even reach out to was Paul Davis Restoration, to get an understanding from them about my situation.

To put it mildly, when this project manager would act like I was some lowly housewife that doesn’t know anything, he was far from wrong.

So, after dealing with this belittling and holy than though mentality, I finally had it. Instead of going she-bat crazy, I stood up for myself and told him I didn’t appreciate his treatment and how disrespectful he was. I also reported him for the fourth time to the property manager. From that point on which was only a few days left in the project, whenever he had to come to my apartment, the property manager came with him.

Far From Well Kept

All in all, the whole situation was frustrating. Between having a mold problem that literally overtook a whole room, which meant, we didn’t have that space. All the things we did have in that room were disbursed throughout the rest of the apartment. The three-bedroom apartment with an attached garage that on the outside looks like a beautiful well-kept condo-style apartment. But the bones of said apartments are far from well kept. There are so many stories that I will tell another time. Like, for example, during the first 3 days of being there, we had a shelf in our pantry fall (with all the food on it), the laundry doors fell on top of me as I was opening them to reload, and the dishwasher stopped working. There is a list of other things. While I had to go through first-world issues… I do look at the fact that yes, we were blessed to have a home, blessed it did have some amenities that others don’t have. I look at this experience as one of God’s lessons for me.

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Lessons

The lessons I learned from all of this.

  • God is our provider! I give praise and credit to God as he was the reason we had that home to make memories in. That he was our provider for us to be in that home, especially through the Covid shutdown.
  • God makes us stronger! It was through these trials that I learned God was in the works of making me a stronger person. One that stands up for herself and that says no. I am a huge giver and have a hard time saying no a lot.
  • This situation was an opportunity from God! This mold situation ended with an opportunity, one that allowed us to live in a healthier, brighter, and roomier apartment.
  • Dark days really are not dark! There were some really dark days, with lots of tears but, through this incident God was my light, constantly shining bright.
  • How abundantly amazing God is!! This experience has put me right where I am now, where I feel I am supposed to be. Sitting at my desk, next to a window where I listen to birds singing, the sound of a water fountain nearby, a huge willow tree right off my balcony that dances in the wind, and a realization that my purpose is for God to work through me. Allowing me to send out my experiences and lessons, to help others with them.

From this experience, my hope is that YOU will learn the same things I did. While bad things are going to happen, God is always there. Right there helping to guide and push you into being the better person, that is growing into who he hopes for you to be. The one that is able to fulfill the purpose he created you for.

We need to stop living in the myth that trials are a curse, in the myth that when things look dark, God is nowhere to be seen, and in the myth, our stories are not worth much.  

And start right now! Living in the truth that trials are an opportunity, God is always there and he provides us the light in our darkness, and that our stories are our greatest offerings!!

My hope for you is that God will give you opportunities to see his blessing.

Have you experienced anything like this? Leave a comment and tell me about it. I would love to hear about you and your experiences.

I hope you are having a beautiful and blessed week.

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Solar Smores

Solar S'mores

A solar oven is a box that traps some of the Sun’s energy to make the air inside that box hotter than the air outside the box. It is like a super greenhouse. 

Gather these items to Build your Oven

Here is what you need:

  • Cardboard box with attached lid. Lid should have flaps so that the box can be closed tightly. Box should be at least 3 inches deep and big enough to set a pie tin inside.
  • Aluminum foil
  • Clear plastic wrap
  • Glue stick
  • Tape (transparent tape, duct tape, masking tape, or whatever you have)
  • Stick (about 1 foot long) to prop open reflector flap. (Use a skewer, knitting needle, ruler, or whatever you have.)
  • Ruler or straight-edge
  • Box cutter or Xacto knife (with adult help, please!)

How to Build the Solar Oven

**Take Caution, Adult Supervision, and help will be needed!**

Start by taking the flip top box, and cutting a three-sided flap out of the top of the box, right along the straight edge. Make sure to leave at least a 1-inch border around the three sides. Make sure to not cut all four sides. 

After you have the hole, grab the aluminum foil and cover the bottom inside of the flap, affixing it with the glue from the glue stick. Make sure to make the foil as smooth as possible. 

Then line the inside of the box with the aluminum foil, again using the glue to attach it and make it as smooth as possible.  

The foil will be used like a mirror, this is why you want it to be as smooth as possible. 

Next, grab the plastic wrap and tape two layers across the opening you cut in the lid. One layer should be on the top and one layer on the bottom side of the lid. This will help to keep the heat in, while still letting all the light shine through the plastic. 

Take the stick and fix the stick to the lid with tape so that it stays put. 

 

Preheat the Oven!

The best day to do this is when the temperature outside is 85 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter, on a very sunny day. 

Set the oven in the direct sun, propping the flap open to reflect the light into the box. Keep the tape close by as you may need to use extra tape to get the stick to help prop it in place. Once this is done, leave it for 30 minutes to preheat the oven. 

Let's make the S'mores

Grab these items to make the s’mores:

  • Graham crackers
  • Plain chocolate bars 
  • Large marshmallows
  • Aluminum pie pan
  • Napkins!

Once you have them gathered, take the graham crackers out of the package and break them into squares. Take four of these squares and place them into the aluminum pie pan. Then put a marshmallow on each of those squares. Don’t add the chocolate just yet, the marshmallow takes longer to melt than the chocolate so it will need more time to cook. 

Next, you will put the pie pan into the preheated solar oven.  Close the plastic part of the lid tightly, making sure to prop up the flap to reflect the sunlight into the box. Then you will have to wait about 30 to 60 minutes for the marshmallows to get squishy and gooey.

 

After the Wait

After 30 to 60 minutes check the marshmallows are squishy, if they are it is time to add the chocolate. 

You will need to open the plastic lid and place the chocolate on top of the marshmallows. Make sure the chocolate is half the size of the graham cracker square. After adding the chocolate place another graham cracker square and gently press down to squish the marshmallow. 

Then close the lid of the solar oven lid. Let the sun heat the oven back up for a few more minutes for the chocolate to melt. 

Once the chocolate has melted, open the plastic lid and remove the s’mores.

Keep the napkins or wipes close by, it’s going to get messy!!







Enjoy the ooey-gooey S'mores!!

Are you ready for a new (home) school year?

It’s that time of year, when many homeschoolers are busy preparing for a brand new school year.  Some of you may have already started your new year, and some of you may have never stopped!

Planning for a new school year and finalizing curriculum choices can sometimes be overwhelming and stressful, especially when you are trying to stick to a tight homeschool budget.

I’ve gotten together with a great group of bloggers to make getting ready for your new school year just a little bit easier and hopefully a little less stressful for you.  How does $200 sound in helping you buy curriculum, books, games, puzzles, and educational supplies. Three people will win a $200 gift card to Rainbow Resource Center!! 

Our hope is that we can bless a few homeschool families (although we wish we could bless many more) so they can buy the curriculum and supplies they need for their school year.

To enter for your chance to win, simply use the Rafflecopter form below to enter.  Now I know this is quite a few entries, but each of these bloggers and I have generously chipped in their own money to make this giveaway possible, so I hope you will take the time to do all of the entries.  And hey, the more entries you do, the better your odds are of winning!

Giveaway ends July 22, 2022 at 11:59pm ET. Must be at least 18 years of age. Must be a resident of U.S. or Canada to enter. Selected winners will have 48 hours to respond to email notification to claim their prizes or another winner will be drawn. By entering this giveaway, you agree to be added to the email lists of the participating bloggers, (see the Terms & Conditions on the Rafflecopter form for the complete list).

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Questions to Ask Before You Buy Homeschool Curriculum

One of the biggest expenses while homeschooling is the curriculum. Well outside of the food, I mean at least in our house, the kitchen gets more traffic than rush hour. Especially having 4 boys. I feel like my boys are always hungry.

Our family for the longest time has been a one income family. My husband being the diligent handworker, he is, has been affording us the ability to homeschool, and take care of the needs that each our kids have. Led me to develop a list of questions that I use to make sure to ask when I am choosing curriculum for our boys.

Below I am providing you with these questions that use. I always make sure to ask these question as I want the curriculum to be a great fit to our family and that we can afford it.

I do want to make sure to point out that each child is unique, which I believe means that each child’s education needs to be unique. There really is not anything wrong with boxed curriculum, but knowing your child you need to make sure that it is something that your child will fit into.

Start by asking can I afford it? You need to set a budget. If you cannot afford it, it will not be worth the money, while this is a tough one, I can tell you there are other ways to teach your child that same curriculum.

For example ask yourself-Could you borrow it? Check if there are options like at your local library, or talk to another homeschool family to see if they may have it and that you could borrow it from them. There are also if places like Amazon rentals or https://www.yellowhousebookrental.com/ that you could rent from.

Then I ask myself does the material focus the student on questions and significance? This was a hard lesson for our family, things I thought were fun, my kids didn’t, and it made things difficult. I later found answers are boring, puzzles to solve were not interesting, getting to the answer was difficult or didn’t make sense, and it usually ended in having someone else tell all the answers just to get it done.

The next question is, do I have time in the day to use this? Especially important to consider when buying extra supplemental materials. We want our children to learn it all but if you are trying to fit it all in you and your children will burn out.

Which leads to do the assignments stay focused on the meaning or lead the child down rabbit trails of distraction? Sometimes hands-on activities are just distractions in disguise. Will the activities keep your child thinking about the meaning/concept/fact you are trying to get into their long-term memory? Does the curriculum create thinking? If our students don’t actively think, they won’t remember, hence they aren’t learning.

My next question is, is the curriculum well-organized? With a wealth of information at our fingertips, we find the need to buy a curriculum to get something that is organized and put together, making life easier. Organization equals time and time equals money.

Which begs the question will it be easy to use? The truth is if it isn’t easy to use you probably won’t use it. Thus, don’t purchase it and keep that money. If you desire a curriculum that is hard to use, do your research and piece together some of the millions of free resources that allow you to carefully craft them together yourself for something you know your child/ren will learn from and use.

The next question to ask are the assignments interesting/engaging? Having varieties of input (auditory, visual, kinesthetic) can help keep things interesting, keeping the lessons short is important especially when your kids are young, and using a variety in types of thinking (convergent, divergent, analytical, creative, etc.) help ingrain things in their growing brains.

Which brings me to the last question I ask will it develop a child’s mind, body, and soul? Not every subject has to do all three, but the curriculum you choose should be considering all these areas. You are the director of education in your home, it is essential you keep all of these in mind when building your days. When you don’t schedule these aspects, they will become neglected, and you do want to be feeding each of these aspects.

The curriculum you choose should not make you feel like you have to break the bank to get the best education. You can educate your child and have a well rounded education whether you are teaching from a book that is free or $1000. It really comes down to how the child absorbs the information, learns from what is being put in front of him or her and how it fits the child. Homeschooling gives the opportunity to give your child/ren a unique opportunity to learn. Give them just that!!

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How to gain a college education without paying the full price

By: Lisa Garrison, January 18, 2022

College can be rewarding in the education that you are able to take from it. But going to school should not cause you to be $55,000 in debt (guilty). Toward the end of my bachelor’s degree, was when I found there had to be ways to save on the education I was receiving. So I started to do some research. I found some really inexpensive to almost free to free ways to obtain the needed credits for my bachelor’s degree. I am so glad I did, I was able to finish my degree faster, saved money doing so and found myself having fun finding the ways to save the money. The excitement has pushed me to tell all of you the list of ideas that I have used to save money gaining your college education.

  • Write papers to prove experience or education on a certain topic. For example, you could explain how being a parent has prepared you to have leadership skills. Or say you were a volunteer grief counselor at your church and have the training from that and it has helped prepare you to be a counselor.
  • Take CLEP Tests at national testing centers to earn the credits
  • Take courses through alternative platforms like Study.com, Sophia.com, and Straigherline
  • Work on campus- I did this
  • Work with a company that offers tuition reimbursement- some of the top companies that do this are Amazon, Chick-fil-a, Home Depot, Target
  • Apply for scholarships on sites like fastweb.com (my favorite), and scholarships.com are the top two, but there are others out there and also check with your school for any scholarships they may have
  • Rent your books if possible-This could be from Amazon, studentbooktrades.com, bookgator.com, cheapesttextbooks.com, chegg.com, campusbookrentals.com, betterworldbooks.com, or textbookrus.com
  • Live with others or family (especially when just starting college)
  • Once you have received your associate-level degree, you can be considered an Alumni and most colleges have a discount program for their Alumni
  • Work at a job specifically to pay for school
  • Attend a school that is tuition-free
  • Attend 100% demonstrated needs based school
  • Make sure to fill out your FAFSA to get the most grant money based on your income (or your parents if you are just starting college)
  • Work on your grades, earning higher grades can also help you with merit based incentives
  • Study abroad if given the opportunity

Personally, I find it unfair that those choosing to expand ones knowledge beyond high school and earn a degree are causing one to be indebted in doing so. Accourding to the research US News did, the average cost to earn a bachelor’s degree is $43,775 as of 2022. That is more than the cost of a mid-sized car, which averages about $25,000 in 2022 (according to kellybluebook.com). 

What I am cautioning is that you need to be really careful when wanting to get your education outside of high school. That $43,775 if not paid back right after leaving school will accrue interest, and for most can double very quickly. Be smart, borrow smart, find alternatives to pay or earn credits and do your homework to be informed before attending. 

Get your very own Financial Worksheets to help you with your finances. To be able to use these worksheet to help prevent money mistakes from happening. Use them to keep track of where your money is going, being saved and help for those just starting out. 

The Financial Worksheets packet includes:

  1. Monthly Budget Worksheet
  2. Investment Planner
  3. Bill Payment Log
  4. Worksheet to help you Save $1378 in 52 weeks
  5. Budget for Moving out Worksheet 
  6. First Apartment Checklist 

Get your planners here: https://godsgivengrace.aweb.page/financialworksheets

First Apartment Checklist
Bill Payment Log
Investment Planner
Save $1378 in 52 Weeks Challenge
Monthly Budget

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Thank You Page

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Things We Have to Explain To Everyone

October 1, 2021

Lisa Garrison

20 things about our family people may not understand

Watch for links to individual posts, to explain each of these things.

  1. EOE
  2. Right Aortic Arch
  3. Taking medication outside of the way it should normally be taken
  4. Finding food for Eating Dairy, Soy and Wheat Free
  5. Brain tumor on amygdala
  6. Homeschooling
  7. Scent free soaps
  8. Social Distancing not just because of Covid
  9. Why we wear our masks
  10. Having to administer multiple medications to multiple children
  11. Why mom doesn’t work outside the house
  12. Why we use specific diapers, wipes
  13. Hearing loss
  14. Frontal lobe brain damage/concussions
  15. Genetic testing
  16. Therapy
  17. Sleep issues
  18. Hospital Stays
  19. Juggling/Balancing it all
  20. The Emotional Impact of it all

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Words of Encouragement

Words of Encouragement

For the Highs and Lows

September 15, 2021

The number of hats worn by special health needs parents/caregivers is lengthy. From just being a parent to a nurse to an administrative assistant to a therapist to so many, many more titles. And most certainly, the duties are long and endless. From stressful phone calls with doctor’s offices, insurance companies, pharmacies, coordinators, and therapists. To the endless hours of researching the newest diagnosis, medication, test, procedure, or surgery. To sleepless nights, hospital stays, and trying to fit into society’s social norms.

Those are just some of the so many highs and lows involved in being a parent of special health care needs child. The exhaustion is real. Yet, if you ask any one of us parents/caregivers of our special health care needs children, we would not change a thing.

 

Jackson using his toy as a phone

Yes, the stress does take a toll. When Jon and I are asked how we do it, and how we get through all the stress, our answer is always the same by the grace of God. Undoubtedly, we have seen God answer so many of our prayers. From protecting our children to helping our children on their bad days. To helping keep a roof over our heads, and food in our bellies. God is honorable, dependable, and marvelous. It is with God’s help that Jon and I are able to fight for our children and their needs. That we are able to be their voice and advocate. The path that God has put us on has so many highs and lows, but the highs far outweigh the lows. It is on the low days that we look back and remember everything that God has done for us.

Know this ‘Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the Lord, your God is with you wherever you go.’ Joshua 1:9

Here are some words of encouragement. As there are guaranteed to be highs and lows in raising a child with special health care needs. There will also be a special kind of support that cannot be found anywhere else. That support is the support of God. He will provide grace and support that is unlike any other thing you will find in this earthly realm. The biggest thing we can say is that all you must do is ask. Ask God to keep your child/ren protected and safe. Pray God to help give you the strength, energy and drive to take care of the child/ren that he has sent you. Ask him to provide you with the grace you need to get through all the highs and lows.

When things are getting tough, you feel like you are falling apart; ‘Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually!’ 1 Chronicles 16:11 For as you do this, you will feel his presence around you, you will feel his grace, and you will feel his strength.