Tuesday, November 21

Last Minute Thanksgiving Decor (Kid Friendly, Low Cost, & Low Clutter)

If you're looking for a fun way to get your kids involved in Thanksgiving prep for tomorrow that's affordable and easy, that won't add clutter to your home (you can throw it away after the party!), and that looks amazing, look no further! I've rounded up a handful of ideas that you can still pull off in time for the festivities using items you probably have around the house. And the best part is they are a great way to get your kids involved - not just to keep them busy or get them out of your hair, but to let them walk hand-in-hand with you. They are so capable of learning to contribute with prep work, to take part in creating a beautiful home, and to be a blessing to others! Here are a few ideas to get you going:

1. A Leaf Garland

Depending on where if you live/if you have pretty leaves right now, this one is a super easy option! Just hot glue leaves to a string and hang them in the windows to catch the light. If you're feeling ambitious, Farmhouse on Posey has instructions for dipping the leaves in wax to extend their life - but if you're just looking for something to last through the weekend you can skip the wax and start gluing! If you collect enough leaves, you could also spread some down the center of the table as a centerpiece. 

Saturday, September 30

GHC Homeschool Convention Curriculum Haul

We're slowly jumping back into homeschool full-time (maybe "wading" back in is more appropriate), and I thought you might like a peek at what part of our homeschool looks like! Back in April we went to the Great Homeschool Convention in Cinicnatti and I just finished sorting through all our new books and curriculum for the year. Want to see it?

I made a youtube video showing our whole haul from the convention that you can watch here if you prefer. If you want more info and links for everything we bought, keep reading!


I'm linking everything I can to the authors' pages so you can find any extra information easier, but keep in mind that most of these items are available from Christian Book or Rainbow Resource (a local midwest company!) and you might be able to save on shipping by ordering through one of those.

I'll also mention anything I buy in ebook form. I've found that, for things I need for multiple children, I can reprint them for much cheaper than buying a new hard copy each time. I definitely recommend The Homeschool Printing Company for the best prices!


RightStart Math // We've used this curriculum for.... maybe 5 years now? So I just bought the next level for my 7th grader. We tried two others before we landed on this one and it has been a good fit for us! Last year all three of the boys told me math was their favorite subject, so it has been a good fit for them as well! It's not fancy to look at, but don't let the appearance fool you. Here are some of my favorite things about it:

  • It is "open-and-go," meaning that I don't have to do any prep work ahead of time. It tells me exactly what to say and what the boys need to do. 
  • It seems to teach the concepts in a clear way that they boys are able to understand
  • It's straight math with no other "filler" activities that some curriculums have (or "time-wasters" as I like to call them).
  • The boys love the games and manipulatives that go with it. 
  • I can purchase once and reuse for all my kids (I get the ebook workbooks so I can reprint them myself for each child. Everything else is reusable.)
  • It's hands-off starting in 6th grade (my son does reads and completes his lessons on his own - I only grade it and help if he's stuck)
I will say - some of the lessons run a bit long, so I split them into two days if I need to. This curriculum does use a manipulative set that you can either piece together yourself, or just buy their set (the upfront cost is high, but it's a one-time purchase because you can use the same set every year for all your kids!). For each grade level you will need two books: a teaching manual that can be reused with each child, and a consumable workbook (you need a new one for each kid). I buy the ebook worksheets because I can re-print them as needed for the younger kids. 

Simply Charlotte Mason // We've been buying curriculum from Simply Charlotte Mason since we started homeschooling. We don't use their full curriculum, but I do use their handwriting and language arts curriculum for all the boys along with a few other odds and ends they offer. Here's what I brought home this year:

  • Spelling Wisdom and Using Language Well Level 3. This is the next level for my 7th grader. We already have levels one and two that I'm reusing with the younger boys. It's a full language arts/grammar/spelling curriculum that we begin in 3rd grade. It's copywork based and all the copywork selections are from the Bible, hymns, or classic literature.  (The Spelling Wisdom book is supposed to be consumable, but I have the boys give answers verbally and write their copywork in a cheap lined notebook so I can reuse everything)
  • Self Knowledge - one of their recommended reading books for 7th grade. I don't know a lot about it other than that it's supposed to be a character-building book. So we'll try it to see if it's helpful and if it's necessary (we've been really enjoying Bob Schultz' books during our morning reading so if this ends up being too similar I'm going to stick with Bob!)
  • Spanish with Ms. Mason - I've had my eye on this for a couple years and decided to give it a try! It looks like a really simple introduction to Spanish that is based on repeating and acting out simple phrases. We'll see how it goes.
  • Busy Times Reader - I grabbed this for reading practice for the littler boys. 
  • Individual Studies Year 7 - I buy this for each grade level to use as a guideline for their daily schedules and individual grade-level work. It gives daily assignments for the language arts course and reminders for things like math, science, and typing. 

Berean Builders // This is the science curriculum written by Jay Wile. I have used some of his books in the past (when I was homeschooled!) so I was excited when I saw that one of his books was recommended for Grade 7 by Simply Charlotte Mason! (He has a whole series for elementary age children. We tried one a few years back but I ultimately decided to skip science in the younger years apart from a few science readers.) This 7th grade edition (Science in the Atomic Age) is supposed to be largely self-led which means he can work on it himself while I teach the younger ones! I also ordered the matching lab kit from Nature's Workshop Plus so he can do the experiments himself without waiting on me to buy supplies. 

The Light Project // This curriculum it totally new to me, but I'm so excited about it! It's designed for ages 7th grade through adult, and it's all about building a Biblical worldview (what we believe, why we believe it, how we know it's true). This is the single most important thing we can teach our kids while they are under our roof. So far we've done it all through Bible reading, scripture memory, and catechism but I'm excited to have something a little more in depth to do with my oldest this year!

Memoria Press // I'm not very familiar with this curriculum overall, but a few things at their booth caught my eye for this year. I'm planning to use these as a loose "science curriculum" with the younger boys this year to learn more about trees and birds and to identify what we see in our own yard:

Institute For Excellence in Writing // I just discovered IEW last year when my oldest signed up for a writing class at our homeschool co-cop. I also went to see Andrew Pudewa at the convention before I even realized he was the creator of IEW and have loved him ever since. He has so much good advice about homeschooling! This is what I brought home from IEW this year:

  • Student Resource Packet - This is an updated version that we need for our co-op class this year.
  • Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization - We've done some poetry memorization over the years and I'm excited to have something more organized this year. This is a curriculum for the whole family that everyone can use at their own level. Andrew Pudewa has a short YouTube video about it and he says poetry memorization is the best way to "enrich vocabulary while infusing reliably correct and sophisticated English language patterns into students' minds." 

Jeannie Fullbright // This is another new-to-me convention find that I'm super excited about. I read last year about notebooking journals for homeschool and have been itching to give them a try. The idea is flexible, but basically you give each child a journal and at the end of each day (or week, or whatever) and have them write (or draw) something interesting they learned that week. No rules, no spell check, just getting something they enjoyed learning about down onto paper. This creates a fun record of their lessons, plus putting it into their own words (or pictures) aids their memory! Of course you can do this with any cheap notebook, but I loved the idea of these heirloom-quality journals that I can save as keepsakes of my growing boys. 

Lyle Lee Jenkins // This is another new find for me! My sisters and I went to hear Lyle Lee Jenkins and he was a wealth of homeschool knowledge. He talked about how important it is for kids to enjoy learning if you actually want them to learn, tips for how to accomplish that, how to focus on what's truly important instead of testing them on vague information, and more. If you get a chance to hear him, I can't recommend it enough. Here's what I brought home from his booth (linked the best I can, he doesn't seem to have much of an online store):

  • Create a Perfect Homeschool - this is a book he wrote with his daughter who also homeschools. I don't know much else about it, but he seemed like a fountain of wisdom so I'm excited to read it!
  • Custom Spelling Dictionary - This is a handy tool to help your child learn tricky words. Whenever they ask you to spell a word, have them write it in their own spelling dictionary. Then they can reference their dictionary as needed!
  • Write the Story Book - Encourage your child to write with these cute illustrated books! They can make up a story to match the pictures and fill in the blank spaces on the pages. (I'm thinking I can reuse one book with multiple kids if I put sticky notes in the blank spaces)

Extras/For Fun:

Used Book Seller // There are a couple used book sellers there and they are full of treasures. This year I wasn't looking for anything specific and I'm trying to avoid impulse purchases - so 1I'm really proud of myself for only bringing home two books! 

Miller Pads and Paper // This is a very dangerous booth for any homeschooler - because they have everything you never knew you needed! I have to be really careful not to overbuy and overspend in their booth, but it's also a great place to find a few fun things for the boys to do this year! Here's what I brought home:

  • Blank Money - the boys love making their own games so this was an easy choice for only $2.50!
  • Stem Hydraulics Kit - they got a smaller hydraulics kit in a kiwi crate a couple years ago and loved it, so I knew this would be a hit!
  • Test Tube Activities - The littler boys love to play "science" and mix things like food coloring and salt in old empty, glitter tubes. So I thought a real test tube kit would be a fun project for them! It includes a booklet of simple experiments to do with the test tubes.
  • First Book of Classical Music - the boys have been doing piano lessons online through Learn to Play (we found them at the convention a couple years ago), but this book is actually for me because I wish I paid more attention to my own piano lessons when I was younger and I'm trying to pick it up again for fun.
  • Night Sky Detective - We just got a telescope second hand and this looked like a good companion to go with it!
  • Dot-to-Dot Books - I picked out a couple of these for my Kindergartener.
  • Dry Erase Boards - Seems you can never have enough of these! I love these flat ones that don't take up much room to store. These are a great size and have a grid on the back that is helpful for lining up numbers for math problems. 

The Green Ember // This is one of the boys' favorite books series. The author, S.D. Smith, did a live event Friday night that the boys loved, and they were thrilled to get to meet him afterward. We already own all all the books in the series, but we did buy posters for the boys get signed and a couple other things:

Slugs and Bugs // Another family favorite! We also went to his live event at the convention the last two years and we listen to his cds daily! He does scripture memory songs that are so good. We bought all the Sing the Bible cds last years, and picked up a few more things this year:

  • Sing the Bible CDs - we bought a few more of these to use as Christmas gifts.
  • Slugs and Bugs Show DVDs - the show is really cute and incorporates his songs. It's available on a few streaming services, but we like to have hard copies of things so we have more control over what the kids have access to. 
  • Boasting Book - This was a new find at the convention. The boys begged for it because they wanted to get something signed, but it actually turned out to be a really cute book that we've enjoyed a lot. 

Ruby Reads // These are read-aloud posters to go along with popular read-aloud books. They have things to color and different sections to fill in. I thought they would be a fun way to kick off the school year and the boys are loving it! I'm already trying to decide which ones to buy next year!

Lamplighter Publishing // This is probably my favorite purchase from the convention! Lamplighter republishes older books that are beautiful inside and out. They not only publish books that are clean (that alone is hard enough to find these days), but that also demonstrate excellent morals, Christlike character, Biblical truth, and Christian Faith. I've read a couple with the boys so far and they have been so good! (We've read Fire in the Sky, Teddy's Button, and we're working on Basil right now, plus I read Friendly Dragons Moral Nightmares for myself) Check out the Lamplighter about section for more information on their mission and beliefs! You can even search their site by your child's age or by a character theme you want to cover! So, which books did we bring home?.... All of them. Literally. We bought one of everything they had. It's an investment toward our goals for our family and the values we want to instill in our boys. 

For Mom:

The Homestead Education // One of my favorite sessions at the convention was called "Raising Self Sufficient Children" by Kody Hanner, and she has a book coming out that goes more in depth on the topic so I pre-ordered a copy. Even though she teaches a lot about homesteading (she even sells a homestead science course), the session was about so much more than that! It really addressed how to raise children who will be self sufficient in every area of life. I'm excited to read more!

Epicure // This booth was a treat for myself. They sell meal mixes without any of the junk ingredients that are so common in convenience foods. It's not something I would spend this much for on a regular basis (I could figure out how to make my own mixes for a fraction of the price), but they are so easy and it was a fun treat! I couldn't find most of them on the website today, so I don't know if they are seasonal or what, but here's what I brought home:

  • Macaroni and Cheese - this one was amazingly good. Wish I could eat it everyday. But it costs so much more than regular macaroni and cheese that I probably won't buy it again. ($4/packet plus you have to add your own pasta)
  • Dill Popcorn Seasoning - another fave!
  • Teriyaki meatballs
  • Pulled Pork Seasoning

Grounded Ink And Thread (Formerly Shirts Galore) // I like to call this my "teacher appreciation" purchase. I brought home three shirts that seemed like they were made just for me:

Sunday, January 1

2023 Goals Printable

There's something about a new year that inspires us toward a fresh start. It's such a natural time to reflect on the past and to look toward the future. It's a time for dreaming, hoping, and planning. And there's something that feels so good about getting all those thoughts down on paper! So today I have a super simple printable for anyone else who's reflecting on what this next year might hold. 

Now, this is not a resolution list. And trust me, there is a difference. While resolutions imply something you're absolutely committing to doing or changing, this goals list is more of brain dump for your hopes and dreams for the year. It's much more fun (and for me, more productive) kind of list! Anything you'd like to work towards or make progress on this year can go on the list - home projects you'd like to tackle, places you'd like to visit, habits you'd like to practice, etc. All the things you'd love to see in, you know, a perfect world. But we don't live in a perfect world, do we? And we have no idea what this next year will hold. Which is also the beautiful thing about a goal sheet like this. It's totally flexible and totally fluid. No pressure when things change or plans fail. We can go into it knowing things don't always work out, and we most likely won't cross everything off before next year. It's ok. The best plans in the world are really just guesses, aren't they? We can still fill in this goal sheet full of hope, realizing that it's all in God's hands.

I added a snippet of this verse to the bottom of the goals sheet as a reminder. And if you're goal planning with the kids, it's a great time to go over it with them, too!

So let's talk details for just a minute and then you can get on your merry list-making way! I've left this printable totally blank so you can let it fit your needs perfectly. There are seven different sections you can label for yourself to fit your own personal goals (i.e. home projects, garden projects, homeschool goals, fitness goals, etc.), and you can even print separate pages for different goals (i.e. print a sheet just for homeschool goals and work through it with your kids to brainstorm field trips, projects, or unit studies they would love to tackle this year). Make it work for your family!

That's it! Download your list here and get started!

Download the 2023 Goals Printable

Tuesday, October 18

DIY Kitchen Reno Plan

We've decided to make a big change in our old farmhouse. We're swapping the kitchen and dining room! The current dining room is much bigger than the kitchen, and with baby #6 on the way we're feeling more crowded than ever in our smaller kitchen. Will we get it done before the baby comes in December? No idea!