Working and Homeschooling While Staying Frugal

Working and Homeschooling While Staying Frugal

Working and Homeschooling; While Staying Frugal

After 17 years of homeschooling, the biggest change has been homeschooling while being a stay-at-home mom and homeschooling while being an employed mom; all while trying to live a frugal lifestyle.

In the early years of homeschooling my 4 children; my goal was their education and finding every economical way I could save money.

  • Since that was schooling before Pinterest, I would spend time creating lesson plans from scratch.
  • I would organize co-ops to keep costs down on group activities.
  • I spent my Saturday mornings scouring yard sales for books and educational items.
  • I would barter with friends for babysitting.
  • I would coupon shop and read The Complete Tightwad Gazette into the wee hours of the night.

Over the past few years, the reality of our situation changed with the diagnosis of my husband with COPD. Keeping up with the medical bills and expenses of kids in college has proven too much for a single income.

At first I worked part-time to keep my self in the job market ready to go full-time when my husband could no longer work. But in order to keep current with the needs of the family I have increased my hours to almost full-time.

My biggest goal is to strive toward my income going toward the budget and not for convenience items because now I don’t have the time for every frugal idea. 

  • I now buy curriculum that can be easily planned or online classes.
  • My kids still enjoy group activities but instead of being present I offer support to the group in other ways.
  • I spend my Saturday mornings homeschooling and my afternoons working.
  • I shop thrift stores instead of going to yard sales.
  • There is not a lot of time for bartering these days, but occasionally it works.
  • I shop at Aldis instead of coupon shopping.

While most of our expenses to homeschool have increased because of being employed, I feel I have done my best to get the most out of the situation. You just have to crunch the numbers.

For example an online class can cost $500 for year, divided by 32 weeks, you are paying $16 a week. I know each on-line class saves me 3 hours a week in planning, teaching and grading.

I know our biggest budget buster is groceries. I focus all my time on this one area. My kids help me every 6 weeks prep 30 freezer meals. We rarely eat out or buy convenience food. Thankfully my kids know the biggest challenge for me is to have dinner on the table after putting in a 12 hour day with jobs and homeschooling.

I love to hang clothes on the line but if I get behind on the laundry I will use the dryer. I try to let some of the little frugal things slide. Instead of beating myself up over using the drying I focus on the 4 loads that did make it to the clothes line.

It is a constant juggling act and evaluating of frugal choices with how much time I have in a day. 

Are you working and homeschooling? Do you have a great tip to share on getting things done?

 

Ultimate Guide for Teaching The Mystery of History Vol I

Teaching The Mystery of History Volume I

I would imagine if you are interested in reading this post you must be in planning mode for teaching The Mystery of History. Those days when you are scouring the internet looking for resources and ideas. I hope you find my post a useful timesaver.

Do to copyright you will find material from Bright Ideas Press to be lesson specific but freebies will be topic related. You can read more at the FAQ section on copyright at Bright Ideas Press.

Teaching with The Mystery of History Vol. I

First thing you need to decide are which components of The Mystery of History are you going to complete. Yes, that means you are not expected to do everything mentioned in the book. No, this is not an exhaustive list but it should keep you busy planning for awhile.

If you are brand new I suggest watching this 10 minute video on What Do I Need to Teach The Mystery of History.

Please note: the difference between the 1st and 2nd Edition includes date changes, spelling of Chinese names, updated activities and some lessons have additional information. 

You can always ask your questions live at The Mystery of History Facebook group!

Teaching with The Mystery of History: Atlases

If you are going to do the map work assigned at the end of each week a good atlas can help students complete the assignments.

Teaching with The Mystery of History: Activities

Each lesson in the book has an activity for younger, middle and older students but if you are looking for more hands-on fun…then the following list will help you plan more.

Teaching with The Mystery of History: Audio/E-book

[Read more…]

How to Teach Literary Genres with a Library Scavenger Hunt

First I should confess that in the hustle and bustle of getting school started I did not read all the details in the teacher book for WriteShop Junior Book E. About half-way through the year I stumbled upon a section in the teacher book that recommend teaching literary genres to your student. I realized that would be beneficial for my son.

How to Teach Literary Genres with a Library Scavenger Hunt

We had a free afternoon coming up, and I wanted to change our reviewing routine. So I created a notebooking page with the literary genres from WriteShop Junior Book E. My main goal was to expose him to different books from the literary genres from his writing lessons.

I explained how I wanted him to find a book in the library that represented the literary genres we had studied this year in WriteShop.

I gave him the notebook page Genre Scavenger Hunt and had him define the word genre. I read him the list of literature genres and asked him which one was his favorite, which one had he never heard before, and were there any he thought sounded interesting.

Since we happened to be sitting next to the poetry section in the library, my son thought that would be a great place to start finding his book selections.

Decision making has been a challenge for my son, so selecting a starting point in the library was an added bonus for this genre challenge.

He selected a volume of poetry titled Carver: A Life in Poems. The poem he selected to read happened to remind me of a song. So I took a moment to discuss genres in music, using the song Aint’ Nobody Here But Us Chickens. It provided proof to him that his mom was a tad crazy, but it was worth the giggles.

literary genre poetry

Finding books on the other genres required extra leg work, so we Googled book lists for adventure, mystery, science fiction, and humor.

[Read more…]

How I Use Writing to Help my Son Practice Decision Making Skills

Using writing to practice making decisions.

How I use writing to help my son practice decision making skills.

If you are a parent of a child with Aspergers, I don’t need to explain how decision making can lead to meltdowns. For my son with his black and white thinking–seeing the gray is difficult.

One of our educational goals for my son is to handle decision making in a timely manner and with fewer meltdowns. It turns out that our WriteShop writing lessons served not only to hone writing skills but also to develop mature decision making skills. After using the steps I outline below, my son is finally able to start a writing lesson independently without any emotional turmoil.

Knowing how stressful a writing session can become, we might only complete writing once or twice a week. I never want to do writing when either of us are tired or the day has already had challenges, especially since deciding a character name or the setting can lead to a meltdown.

I have been using WriteShop for the past 4 years in my homeschool. My two favorite parts of the program are the games and the worksheets. My son loves to beat me in a game, so having one with each lesson in WriteShop Junior Book E engages him to learn. [Read more…]

C. S. Lewis Lesson Plan for High School

The saga behind C. S. Lewis lesson plans…

We had a great start to my son’s sophomore year…he made huge leaps of progress. Then we became one of the families affected by the closing of Landry online school.

I found myself having to create a class to complete his English credit. He had his heart set on Tolkien…but after scavenging through my cabinets…I discovered more items for teaching about C. S. Lewis.

Yes, I needed this class to be inexpensive due to the time of year and circumstances. So the items I pulled together were found in my house and/or donated by friends. I was blessed my homeschooling friends offered help. Thankfully my daughter had studied C.S. Lewis when she was in high school and I had already purchased The Great Courses audio.

While this may seen like a lot of resources…it is just a plan…the main goal is the exposure to the many books of Lewis…the depth can come later. 

C. S. Lewis Lesson Plan:

I created a 15 week C. S. Lewis lesson plan containing the following materials: [Read more…]

Blue Christmas, Grief and Joy Combined

 

blue-christmas

Are you struggling with the joy of the season and the grief in your life? Blue Christmas?

The one thing I don’t like about social media…it only shows one moment of a person’s life.

For example…if I share a moment of homeschooling frustration will people judge homeschooling as a horrible choice?

Or…If I show this Pinterest perfect activity will people fear they can never be a success at homeschooling?

The past few months of I have struggled with being able to express that certain life events suck…yet still acknowledge that God is good.

I have sensed an underlying current that…if I vocalized that these events were horrible…then my faith was weak…I wasn’t doing a good job of praising through the storms.

The reality of my situation… COPD slowly steals quality of life… you never know when it will be a good day with breathing or a bad one. And don’t ask me to be thankful about COPD…but I will find the moments where God shows his love and care for us.

Every Wednesday I meet with my dear friend, who became a widow 6 months ago… we share moments of joy in between moments of grief. She lost her husband all of a sudden…I am losing mine moment by moment…and we think both situations stink.

blue-christmas-service

This past Sunday our church held a Blue Christmas service; both of us were unsure about going. Yet after a hard weekend taking care of Ron I texted her that I thought we should go…so we sat in the back row…ready to leave if it became to emotional.

In that sermon Pastor Kenny introduced to me the Korean concept of Han. It seems this concept doesn’t translate well…but it is the combination of sadness and hope. At that moment…he had given me a word to describe my feelings.

When we entered the service everyone was given a stone and a marker. Everyone was asked to write their grief on the rock and bring the rocks up to the altar during the service.

If I could have…I would have photographed the pile of rocks left at the foot of the cross…because it can be a comfort knowing you are not alone.

Instead of following directions…my rock came home with me.

I felt during this series of life events…I need that rock to remind me each day…I didn’t choose these events…but I can choose how to remember them.

My friend…my heart does ache for the broken hearted at Christmas time…I pray that you can find a moment of joy in between the moments of grief.

Merry Christmas…I hope 2017 allows me to return to blogging on a more regular basis.

 

Annual Sale with Bright Ideas Press

Black Friday Pumpkin Pie

 

Yes! It is time for the annual sale at Bright Ideas Press. I have been blessed with the opportunity to write and design many of the supplemental products for The Mystery of History and Illuminations.

If you have any questions you can find me in the Bright Ideas Press Facebook groups or answering questions on the Bright Ideas Press Facebook Page.

You can get 20% off most items in the store.

That means the amazing notebook pages for The Mystery of History are only $15.96 and the folderbooks are $25.60 for the full year download.

Read about supplemental products for The Mystery of History… Popular Q and A, The Mystery of History and High School, Folderbook for Volume 1, and Organizing our Notebooks.

My favorite…Illuminations can be purchased for $100.00…saving you $25.00

Not sure if Illuminations will work for your family…read my blog posts on Why I love Illuminations, What Subjects I Print, Illuminations and High School, and Illuminations, Schedules and Overwhelmed.

Civitas…my family’s new favorite game…will be on sale for $19.96. You can read about what Civitas is at the blog Civitas and World Government.

(All sale prices in this post on are my calculations and are subject to errors…thus the prices on the Bright Ideas Press website are the correct prices.)

What is NOT on sale:

  • Bundles
  • On-line classes
  • Clearance Items

bip-pumpkin-pie

 

Online Class for The Mystery of History

Online Class for The Mystery of History

Online Class for The Mystery of History Volume III

This year I had my homeschool mom radar on high alert for opportunities to help me provide all the subjects needed by my students. After weighing the options, I decided on placing one student in the live version and one student in the self-paced.

With the creating of The Mystery of History Online Academy I was excited to think of Linda Lacour Hobar as my personal instructor for history.

I am beyond elated that she will be providing new information and stories not in the book. That she will be clarifying and elaborating on difficult topics found in the lessons.

Mystery of History of Linda Hobar

Now at my house, the number one thing that slows down the homeschool momentum is not having a plan together.

The second…grading papers.

The third...especially homeschooling my boys… would be missed deadlines. Having my sons accountable to someone else for some of their subjects will keep us on track.

Online Class for The Mystery of History: The Plan

  • A syllabus was provided giving the structure of spending 3 days on the lessons.
  • The 4th day for mapwork, timelines, and activities.
  • Then the 5th day would be for watching the class and then taking the online quiz.
  • Over the weekend a chance to read books or watch movies.

[Read more…]

Planning WriteShop Book E in 3 Steps

A look at how I planned WriteShop Book E and organized our writing station.

Decide if you want to plan everything at the beginning of the year, or before each 3 week lesson. I usually assemble most of the supplies at the beginning of the year.

Then at the beginning of each lesson I cut and assemble any necessary pages. I am always afraid I am going to lose pieces so I keep things together until I am ready to teach each lesson.

If you are crunched for time you could do all 3 steps in one night or do one step each night.

Since I used the printed student worksheets and timesaver pack, I was able to prepare for the whole school year in one night!  [Read more…]

School choice, Oh the agony

 

I have no desire to have a homeschool vs. public vs. private school choice debate. Especially since I haven’t had the energy to blog since it was a rough year caring for my husband and more time has gone toward work to handle the extra medical expenses.

When You Want to Quit

But my heart is searching for which option is best for my son this coming school year. Can you relate? Are you trying to make decisions on school choices?

I really wish the pendulum would stop swinging between all the options. My depleted emotions can’t take much more.

I see friends who are quitting homeschooling..and I want to ask them why…but I don’t want them to feel like they have to defend their school choice.

Right now the grass looks so greener…I am struggling with burnout, while guilt and wearness clouds my mind. I don’t trust my mind to rationally analyze if quitting homeschooling is the right choice.

Having them in a school setting engaged from 8 am to 3 pm each day…seems like a dream of amazing hours of uninterrupted time.

But I have to remind myself that I will have to drive them there, we won’t have the freedom in our schedule, and they won’t have a choice in their school topics.

All the while I have friends looking to begin their homeschool journey frustrated by other school systems. They want me to share my 16 years of homeschooling wisdom. They think my grass looks greener.

Right now it doesn’t matter which side of the fence you find yourself…what matters is finding a way to have peace about your school choice.

If you are walking in circles trying to make the school choice…I wish I could give you an easy button…but since mine is broken…here are a few steps I am trying for myself.

My School Choice Steps:

  1. Rest. However it needs to happen…find the time. Don’t make the choice under exhaustion in the hopes of finding it. Recently I read a definition of rest that has altered my thinking.
    1. Rest: to stop using (something) so that it can be strong again. (Hello…can my mind get some strength back)
  2. Talk with another person. Don’t just seek out those who are doing your desired school choice. Maybe sitting down and listening to why a friend is still doing her school choice might remind you of a few things.
  3. Don’t second guess yourself. Honestly…once the choice is made…enjoy the journey. Remember: No rule says you can’t change your mind again in 6 months.

So who wants to meet for coffee and discuss my school choice? I finally slept two nights in a row.

Yes I did a search on quitting homeschooling…which reminded me…that often moms question their choices. I am not alone in that.

Dear Homeschool Mom Who Wants to Quit.

So You Really Want to Quit Homeschooling

Homeschooling Inspiration for When You Feel Like Quitting