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 She might not even be aware her router is outdated.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. [Read more…]

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


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…]

The Mystery of History in a Co-op Setting

The Mystery of History in a Co-op Setting

Would you like to use The Mystery of History in a co-op setting? Since the book is intentionally adaptable to teaching multiple ages, you will find many ways to plan lessons for your co-op.

The following ideas and questions will help you think through what you want to cover in your co-op class. Once you have decided what to cover, then you can decide whether a co-op license or co-op discount will work best.

Ideas for Teaching The Mystery of History in a Co-op Setting:

  • What is the goal for the co-op class?
  • Will it just be simply delivering the lesson content or will you keep grades?
  • Will it be project based, group activities, or individual activities?
  • Will you present all the information or require students to come to class having read the lesson?
  • Do you want to include supplements like coloring pages or notebook pages?
  • Are you going to include extra resources?
  • Include extra literature assignments?
  • How much time do you have to teach?
  • What ages are you teaching?

For example, if you have 1 hour to teach 1st to 4th grade students and your goal is to supplement lessons taught at home, your schedule could include:

  • Go over the highlights of the lessons by doing a group review
  • Select one or two activities from the week to complete
  • Bring in an extra resource like a YouTube video or book
  • Wrap up class by doing map work or a timeline.

Another example, if you have 2 hours to teach 5th to 8th grade and you are not requiring students to do any work outside of class, your schedule could include:

  • Go over the pretest orally, then present the lesson information while students take notes on the notebooking pages
  • Ask follow-up questions or allow kids to offer narration of the material
  • Complete a few activities from the book, and if questions are research based assign them the week before so students can share their thoughts.
  • End class with the wrap activity or quiz

Co-op License or Co-op Discount:

Do you need a co-op license or a co-op discount? The size of your co-op and what you want to teach in co-op will determine which works best.

If you want every student to have their own copy of the book or material, a co-op discount would work best. The co-op discount gives you 30% off an order of 6 or more copies. The teacher can make copies without a license since each family has the material already.

If you are not requiring students to own the material, a co-op license gives the teacher privileges to copy material for students. Each co-op license is for 25 students and includes one copy of the material. If the material is a download, the co-op license is for the teacher only. The download should not be shared with the families.


Number crunching scenarios with co-op license and co-op discount.

Keep in mind that you can buy a co-op license just for the Companion Guide. If you present the material from the lessons and just want to copy pre-test, quizzes, and map work then a co-op license for the Companion Guide would be the best price.

A co-op license on The Mystery of History Volume 1 book would cost: $124.87. Keep in mind you will have to make copies of the book.

A co-op license on The Mystery of History Volume 1 Companion Guide would cost: $62.38. This product contains everything but the lessons.

The website will automatically apply the co-op discount when you select a quantity of six or more. Then you can look at shipping costs. While the website will allow for Media Mail know that large boxes move slower in shipping and have a higher chance of damage.

Tracking Forms for The Mystery of History in a Co-op Setting:

To help make that job easier I created a form, Co-op Tracking Expenses * to help you keep track of who has paid. Could be used for supplies for the class, splitting up the cost of the license, or paying for the group book order. 

* indicates required 


After you have decided what you are teaching, then you just need to gather money from parents to cover the costs of materials.

[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. 


What My Kids Think About Homeschooling

In keeping with the Blog Hop theme for this week I did what any homeschool mom would do; I assigned a writing assignment on homeschooling.

Here are the highlights from my youngest son:

  • I love having a flexible schedule.
  • I don’t have to worry about bullies.
  • I can listen to music while I do my work.

My second son wrote a beautiful essay on “Why I like Homeschooling.” 

Here are few excerpts:

  • One of the fun parts of being schooled at home is the chance to pick interesting classes. For example, I completed a Forensic science for my freshman year. This year I will be taking a murder mystery class for my English! There are many other options for classes that you can tailor to your career needs.
  • Most importantly I have become a much different and better person because of homeschooling; making homeschooling the right choice for me.

The most amazing thing is the joy of witnessing my kids reach educational milestones. When I assigned this assignment I expected my son to give me a sloppy run-on page of sentences. When he handed me a rough draft of 6 paragraphs in an essay format; joy filled my heart.

All the anguish of teaching writing lessons, the struggles of learning to organize thoughts and sentences, the long days of forming paragraphs just faded away in the moment. He just demonstrated mastery of a new skill!

Now to bottle up and cherish that moment because sometimes you wait a long time for the next milestone.

My graduates thoughts:

Then I sent an email early in the morning asking my college students if there was anything they wanted to say. It was more of a begging plea since they like to keep things to themselves. I am the mother of introverts.

  • My daughter loved the ability to study her passions in high school. She loved her literature classes and cooking classes. She thinks having beach days instead of snow days is the best homeschooling schedule.
  • My oldest son remembers the ability to go on a field trip somewhere exciting and not worring about the book side of school was nice. Being able to work in my own room with music and a space conducive to my studying style was very beneficial. Overall the fact that I learned science from a Christian perspective helped me the most given that I went to a secular University for Geography and Atmospheric Science.

What a great chance to get a glimpse that the hard work from the last 18 years of homeschooling was totally worth it. 

No Space for a Homeschool Room

Homeschool Room, More like Homeschool Space

I have homeschooled in the same small house for the last 18 years. We have never had a homeschool room. Sometimes Pinterest does make it hard to not covet having one. Although a few years ago I wrote about Hiding Homeschool Supplies in our small house.

Since I am not a book lover the only book cases in my house belong to my children. Yes my youngest 3 love books and have their own book cases in their bedroom and an app on their phone to keep track of what books they own.

The only thing I need is a bin to hold my teacher books and a table for grading and teaching.

Ikea solved my small space living problems. Their drop leaf table fits in the corner of my living room and allows me to have moments of my house not looking like a school room.

[Read more…]

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…]