Overwhelmed Mom Gift Guide

Overwhelmed Mom Gift Guide

Agnes misses her days of having time to read The Complete Works of Jane Austen while lounging on her hammock, instead she pours her heart into serving her family and friends. She often gets overwhelmed juggling the demands of her responsibilities.

Maybe you know Agnes? Maybe you want to give Agnes a gift to encourage her. If you text or talk with her try to listen to what she is struggling with or missing from her life. Those can be great ideas for gifts.

Decision fatigue can make meal planning hard. Maybe you could send Agnes a gift card to a local restaurant. If you are resourceful you could gift her with 5 freezer meals and a menu.

When Agnes is overwhelmed with paying bills even a gift card to the local grocery story is a blessing. It can even free up some funds for Agnes to buy her own kids some presents.

Agnes might never find the time for a pedicure but your offer of watching the kids could help her find a moment to be still.

Once Agnes organized an afternoon of watching about 20 kids for a few friends. There were given the gift of time and Agnes kept the kids busy making crafts for the local nursing home. Agnes loves to serve even in the chaos.

Agnes loves the Hope Deck Cards that she can send to her friends this season. Giving a set of cards can bless the giver and the receiver. She might keep a few in a picture frame for the loving reminder they provide.

Agnes has full responsibility of car and home maintenance. A gift certificate for an oil change or furnace service would help remind her of those tasks. Often she forgets these things.

Finding a handyman to help Agnes fix the few broken items around the home that just have not made it to the to do list would be a weight off her mind. She has not had time to read Home Maintenance for Dummies

Imaginably that handyman could install a hand held massage shower head for those moments when she hides in the bathroom. Perhaps just gift her with bath bombs to remind her the tub can be more than an item that needs cleaning.

If you know a tech enthusiasts hire them to offer Agnes tech support with her electronic devices. She might not even be aware her router is outdated.

She may have no idea there are apps like Upkeep to help her manage house chores. Maybe a tile for all the times she loses her phone or keys.

Often Agnes can not afford entertainment. A gift card to Redbox or the local movie theater wins points with her kids and gives her some time to be with them.

Maybe a family membership to a local establishment will give Agnes plenty of times for family fun.

Agnes often battles with loneliness at night and maybe a pillow with a picture of her husband or kids would provide something to hug at night. Maybe a heated blanket would help her relax to find sleep at night.

Perhaps a card in the mail reminding Agnes she is not alone would be the perfect thought. If you send chocolate with the card then bonus points for you.

Agnes might not have time to journal or read books but a few audible books could bless her with something to listen to in those times of driving kids around town or while cleaning.

Agnes forgets to put herself first and might need reminders. Things like Promises From God, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World or Addicted to Busy.

If you can add some humor to her day please do! A kitchen towel with a taco proclaiming Every Now and Then I Fall Apart can help remind her to smile.

When the days feel like someone has stolen her Easy Button remind her to tune into an uplifting podcast like Snarky Homeschool Moms.

Agnes might just need a coffee date and a listening friend because it is easy to become weary in the battle of being overwhelmed.

I hope this gift guide helped you think of ways to encourage your friends in whatever situation they find themselves in because there is comfort in knowing people care about you.

Overwhelmed Mom Gift Guide and other Gift Guides can be found on iHomeschool Network.

Coffee for Breakfast for the Busy Mom

Coffee for Breakfast for the

Busy Mom

Coffee for Breakfast

In my battle of juggling things I have stumbled upon a breakfast situation that works for all my food and time issues. Coffee for breakfast that is gluten free, dairy free and has protein.

Anytime you find a solution to a problem you share just in case there is one other person in the world that could benefit.

If this is not you just laugh at how I start my day.

Coffee for Breakfast

Ingredients:

I add the coffee to my Ninja Coffee Maker and set it on cup and specialty brew.

While the coffee is brewing I add one cup of Almond milk to a small sauce pan on the stove. I put the stove on medium heat.

I add one cube of pumpkin puree to the milk. I let the pumpkin defrost and stir.

Once the pumpkin is almost melted I add 1 tablespoon of vanilla, 2 tablespoons of the unflavored protein powder. At first I also added 1 tablespoon of sugar but I am trying to cut back on sugar so adjust the sweetness as needed.

I stir until almost to a boil and then I remove from the heat and sprinkle cinnamon on top.

My coffee is done by this point and I pour the milk mixture into my cup and stir.

Now my coffee for breakfast has a little more kick to get me through the morning.

Then I find an email in my in box telling me The Power of Pumpkin in Your Diet! Score!

*I take one small can of the pumpkin puree and freeze in a ice cube tray. One can fills one ice cube tray. After 24 hours I pop out the pumpkin cubes and store in a freezer bag.

Now that coffee is made you can take 5 minutes and watch my recent Facebook live video on Why Friends are Cheaper Than Therapy.

100 Reasons To Keep Homeschooling Through Difficulties

Homeschooling Through Difficulties

Finishing up my 17th year of homeschooling and I am thankful that I continued to homeschool, even through some really difficult situations. Then it took so long to write this post that now it is the season for preparing for the next year…bring on number 18!

Often those situations seem so much larger in the moment then I remember them. Yet even today I am struggling to help my sons finish their school assignments for this week.

Sometimes I write blog posts or create memes to remind myself why I keep pushing to finish this journey of homeschooling my children.

Because even in the ugly, horrible, and difficult circumstances that life sometimes drops into my life, my children have still been able to receive the education that they need.

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Illness

  1. Read a book like Lost and Found
  2. Practice receiving help
  3. Follow these 12 Practice Tips for Homeschooling Through a Short Term Crisis 
  4. Take a moment and examine your expectations.
  5. Don’t beat yourself up if you normally serve a hot meal in the morning and breakfast has become cold cereal for 2 weeks.
  6. Sometimes the lesson for your kids is them learning how to run the house and not completing another math lesson.
  7. Buy paper products and forget about doing the dishes.
  8. Compassion, perseverance, and humility are often best learned in a practical situation.
  9. 10 Tips for Homeschooling with a Chronic Illness because sometimes the illness is chronic.
  10. Homeschooling Through a Chronic Illness states that you need to be willing to accept a new normal.

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Grief

  1. Grief and Joy combined, it is okay to laugh and cry during the same moment.
  2. Homeschooling Through Grief, remember to take frequent breaks.
  3. How the Challenge of Love is Grief, copy down a scripture verse and tape it to the bathroom mirror.
  4. Sometimes choosing to do things in small amounts helps build momentum and even in your grief it is ok to smile, How Homeschooling Actually Saved Me From Depression.
  5. Homeschooling Through Grief can be done, don’t expect a cookie cutter appoach to work.

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Tough Times

  1. How to Homeschool Through Tough Times, remember to be flexible.
  2. 4 Lessons I’ve learned Homeschooling Through Hard Times, kids still learn even despite the difficult moment.
  3. Listen to others who have experienced similar situations, Homeschooling Through Hard Times.
  4. Homeschooling When the Schedule is Disrupted, flexibility is a skill to practice.
  5. Homeschooling Through Trying Times, remember to be gentle with yourself.
  6. Homeschooling When Life Gets Hard, family comes first.
  7. 5 Reasons Why We Continued to Homeschool, you get to set the pace
  8. 8 Tips to Help Your Homeschool Thrive Through Hard Times, remember to relax.
  9. Does Your Homeschool Need a Grace Year? yes, always add more grace.
  10. Keep things simple when Homeschooling Through a Crisis 

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Being Overwhelmed

  1. Embracing Overwhelm
  2. Battling the fear of failing 
  3. Take a break from the books and plan some fun.
  4. Maybe you just need to take a Homeschool Sabbatical.
  5. Don’t forget to adjust the homeschool plans to better serve your kids.
  6. Teach Science in the summer instead of squeezing it into an already busy school year.
  7. Create Margin
  8. Take a Moment to say a Homeschool Prayer
  9. Remember that God does provide and when He does, take a photo of the provision.
  10. Accepting Limits, Balancing Homeschool, and Work

Homeschooling Through Difficulties: Depression [Read more…]

Lesson Plan For Homeschool Mom Sick Day

Homeschool Mom Sick Day

Even if you are a veteran homeschooler or a newbie, having a plan for those days when you are too ill to accomplish the lesson plans will serve you well in those hours of needing rest.

First start a Pinterest board of ideas, or a note in Evernote, or a word doc on ideas and links. This way you can make decisions now while your head is not exhausted from being sick.

The Goal is Have a Plan for Homeschool Mom Sick Day!

Homeschool Mom Sick Day Online Ideas

  • iHN has a monthly thread of Famous Birthday Lessons and Unit Studies. Print out a few copies of this notebook page, Famous Birthday PDF, and have your students select a famous person to learn more about.
  • Maybe just giving them time on their iPad on PBS to play games will be all it takes for some time for a nap.
  • Khan Academy is a favorite at my house for learning how to do things. Let your kids have fun with Hour of Code.

Homeschool Mom Sick Day Project Ideas

  • Have your kids follow directions to Build Your Own Board Game. My kids really enjoy making board games. They still talk about the Health Matters DIY Science Board Game they created. (PS order supplies early if you want to provide some extra direction.)
  • If you get really desperate for an activity and have a bar of ivory soap give your kids the link to this post on Ivory Soap Experiment.
  • Have them Design Their Own Colony. They might enjoy establishing their own rules.
  • Even giving your kids all the sheets and blankets in the house to build forts should buy you a few moments of rest. My boys enjoyed building a Hooverville Fort in their bedroom one afternoon. The idea came from The Great Depression Hands-on Activities.
  • Sometimes just having a box of tape, paper, string, and random supplies can allow kids an opportunity to create a new invention. Maybe even challenge them to build something that will keep an egg from breaking when dropped from different heights.

Homeschool Mom Sick Day Movie and Book Ideas

[Read more…]

Saving Money on Groceries Starts in the Kitchen

The great thing about raising lifelong learners is the chance to role rodel lifelong learning! Here is a copy of a 5 minute speech I had to give for a class I took on becoming a better communicator. I also get to role model doing hard things, public speaking still makes my stomach go into knots.

Saving money on groceries starts in the kitchen!

With the average family of 4 spending $12,000 a year on groceries this becomes a popular area to try and cut spending. The interesting thing about that amount of money, around $1500 goes toward wasted food.

That’s right money spent on food that is never eaten or enjoyed. The food ends up in the trashcan.

We do not even have to leave our house to save money on groceries. No need to cut coupons or read about the psychology of shopping. Just take an honest look at the amount of food you throw away each week.

I believe every mom can save money on groceries by conquering food waste.

I have 3 concepts that can help conquer food waste:

  • Serving
  • Selecting
  • Supervising

The first concept that can help conquer food waste is serving sizes.

For adults having an understanding for portion sizes. Spend a week reading the labels and get an understanding for portion sizes.

For parents of small children serve them just 3 bites of dinner. Children under the age of 5 have this amazing ability to only eat 3 bites of a meal one day and then eat an entire adult serving the next day.

When my children were young I often only served half of a sandwich at lunchtime or 3 bites of a meal at dinnertime.

I wanted my children to learn to ask for more when they were still hungry rather then learn it was ok to throw food away.

The second concept that can help conquer food waste is selecting recipes that contain similar ingredients. Keep your recipes simple.

I love looking on Pinterest for new recipes. But it can break the budget trying a recipe with a lot of ingredients. For example I avoid recipes that use 1 tablespoon of tomato paste because unless you have a plan to use the rest of the can of paste you will find yourself 2 weeks later throwing the tomato paste in the trashcan.

The great thing about cooking is you can have a little less or a little extra of an ingredient and the recipe will still turn out fine.

Trying meal planning where you can use ingredients twice in the same week or you can double the recipe to help use up all of an ingredient. [Read more…]

A Day in The Life of an Overwhelmed Homeschool Mom

My homeschool schedule has changed tremendously over the years. I no longer have elementary kids, I work outside of the home, and I only have 2 kids still homeschooling.

Sometimes I miss the days when all 4 kids gathered around the kitchen table during lunch for our read-aloud.

My alarm goes off each day at 6:30am. The first thing I do is check FreshDesk, Facebook and email. This for my job, not pleasure. This allows me to solve any problems quickly and see if anything happened over night to change my day.

I force my feet to the floor around 7am. Find breakfast and coffee because yes the #givemeJesusandcoffee is my life.

From 7am to 9am I do household chores, get dinner in the crockpot, blog, or go over my planner. My boys get up at 7am and by 8am they have to begin practice for their instruments or I confiscate their electronic devices for the day.

On Monday/Tuesday/Thursday my boys have online classes that start at 11am. That gives us from 9am to 10:30 to go over some school lessons, pack lunches and leave the house. Since we do not have internet at home the boys can do their classes at the office while I work. We stay at the office until 5pm. On Tuesday/Thursday we do not return to the house until 8:30pm because my youngest is on swim team. We have dinner, grade school papers, and prep for the next day.

Wednesday is the most amazing day of the week. I have a standing weekly coffee date with my dear friend from 9:30 to 11:30. Sometimes we just sit at the coffee shop, sometimes we go for a walk or we run errands. It gives me the chance to whine, complain, cry, get encouragement, and be reminded that I am not alone. The boys have mime on Wednesday afternoon so I spend my time at the office working.  Wednesday evening one goes to youth group and one works. My daughter provides transportation so I head home to mow grass and do chores.

Friday morning my boys have a 9am online class. While they are in class I work at the office. Friday afternoon we wrap up school lessons, in theory. While we are at swim again, I use that time to go over my high school kid’s assignments.  Thankfully we have Saturdays for catching up! 

Concepts that help my schedule work:

  • While my youngest is at swim I find time to exercise, blog, and work on projects.
  • I use Walmart online shopping.
  • I don’t volunteer any more because it takes all my time to work, homeschool, and take care of the house.
  • About every 6 weeks my kids gather in the kitchen and help me assemble freezer meals. They value having dinner cooked each night and this is the only way it will happen.
  • Saturday mornings are for household chores.

Of course this is just the highlights and general items. Many days requiring juggling for doctor appointments, field trips, and life events. Yes I generalized because this is our routine but often that is changed by juggling extra things. I work full time while homeschooling and taking care of my husband and the house. There is no way to fix hard so I do what I can.

In all the chaos of being overwhelmed, I try to cherish these fleeting moments of being a homeschool mom. My heart’s desire is to finish strong. 

 

Our Curriculum Choices for 2017-2018

Our Curriculum Choices for this school year.

Each year I stand amazed that I still agonize over selecting curriculum. But I was not blessed with children who learned the same way or could use the same curriculum over again.

The changes in my life have slowly changed my methods of homeschooling. You will notice I have outsourced and sought out help to juggle homeschooling, working full time, and managing my home. My husband’s health prevents him from helping in most areas.

11th Grade Curriculum Choices

My son is planning on trade school so we continue to strive for the best academics that fit his needs and abilities. While he may never attend college I still strive to expose him to subjects and prepare him for whatever choices he decides to make.

  • Algebra 1: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press. We have spent the first 2 years of high school solidifying his math skills. We are going to be stretching ourselves to complete this class. Next year we will switch gears and do business math and personal finance.
  • Spanish 1: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press: We have tried for 2 years to complete Spanish. My hope of having accountability with another teacher will get this subject completed.
  • All American History: The Academy at Bright Ideas Press: I had planned on teaching this class but when an opportunity to switch classes opened up I found myself putting both boys in this history class. The history teacher raps, my boys are impressed with her.
  • English: Who Dun It: My daughter has agreed to teach English to her brother this year. She has a passion for literature. Recently her college was attempting to recruit her for tutoring for English, I am very thankful she has agreed to help me. I am going to attend their monthly book club meetings and I look forward to the discussions.
  • Physical Science: Advanced Physical Science: I found this at a recent homeschool convention. The project based learning really appealed to me. I am excited to spend Friday mornings doing labs with the boys.
  • Mime: Louder Than Words: Every Wednesday afternoon my children have attended Louder Than Words. This group provides mentorship, bible study, leadership, volunteering, and performing arts.
  • Music: Guitar and Piano Lessons: He loves his weekly lessons for piano and guitar. He loves playing guitar for worship time at mime and youth group.

[Read more…]

Embracing Overwhelm

Why I am embracing overwhelm instead of battling overwhelm.

Overwhelm
What does overwhelm mean? The Definition of overwhelm: to overpower the thoughts, emotions, or senses of. 
Pretty sure womanhood, motherhood, homeschoolhood, and all the “hoods” combine together to overpower my life.
I have allowed the feelings of overwhelm to beat-up my mental psyche for the past few years. I felt like I was doing something wrong in life to always feel overwhelmed.
I have stopped looking for tips and tricks to do more in my day, to keep hustling, to get up earlier as though something exists to help me accomplish more in the battle of being overwhelm. I don’t have the power to change my husband’s health, diminish the needs of my kids, or quit my job and give up homeschooling.
I will never conquer being overwhelmed and I don’t want to battle anymore!
I will carry it differently.

[Read more…]

Happy Mother’s Day, Strong Silent Type

Happy Mother's Day

Happy Mother’s Day to the women who society thinks is doing a great job despite painful situations life has given them. Do you know a woman who you think has done exceptionally well after losing her husband, or a child, or battling a nasty illness? Maybe you are that woman. 

Have you ever said, “Wow you are doing well despite (insert specific situation).” Maybe you have been told that.

I think we often assume that these strong women have somehow found a way to battle grief, depression or hard situations because we don’t see the emotional scars. We don’t see the tears shed while taking a shower. We don’t notice the broken heart hiding behind the smile.

Not that these women are trying to be deceitful, they grieve and hurt in small bursts often unnoticed. Often small bursts of emotions is all that can be handled for fear of being entirely consumed.

These women are still serving, still reaching out to help others because they are all too familiar with the pain life has given them to leave others battling alone.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who battled to get out of bed today. No one witnessed the internal battle that it took to start another difficult day but it still exists.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who battle their fears by showing up and doing the hard things.

I want to wish a Happy Mother’s Day to the women who collapse silently in the pew with their battle wounds from the week craving the salve of worship and fellowship.

I want to remind all of us to take a moment and realize that the strong woman you might want to put on a pedestal for handling difficult situations while still getting dinner on the table; might just need a shoulder to cry on.

I know a lot of weary moms who are handling situations most of us can’t even begin to understand how they are doing it.

Maybe send them a text with a smiley face and random emojis for a laugh.

Maybe send them some dinner just because you know they could use a moment to themselves.

Maybe just remember that the”strong woman” needs help and compassion just like the damsel in distress.

Happy Mother’s Day to all my friends 🙂

Happy Mother's Day

 

 

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?