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Our Summer Reading List

Our summer reading list for the whole family, plus a link-up!

I have always loved reading. Growing up, you could always find me with my nose stuck in a book. My kids have grown up this way also. With lots of extra-curricular activities not being able to happen this summer, we have found ourselves reading a lot more books. Check out what we have on our summer reading list!

Green Ember Series

This is a series I have wanted to read for a long time. Now that I have the full collection, we plan to read this for our family read-aloud book. I am excited to join in on the fun that I hear about from everyone else. I think my kids will love it as well!

The Dream Traveler’s Quest

This is a new series for me. I happened upon this series and I am thrilled that I grabbed them. I plan to have Ray Ray work through these four books. They are based on a boy about the same age as Ray Ray who is going on a quest to find the Five Seals of Truth. This is based on the five truths of God. I also plan to read through them quickly before I hand them over to Ray Ray.

Dork Diaries

Now this is a series way off from the first two. This is a series that Little Miss is into. She loves them and the style they are written in. They are fun and simple for her to read. I am happy that she has found her series. Seeing her grab a book and go out and read is one of my favorite things in the world.

Picture Books

Picture Books on our summer reading list

Baby Girl is in a stage, actually, she has been in a stage for a long time, where she loves to have me read her books. She is not interested in the big chapter books, so we focus on picture books. With the library here offering curbside pickup, I am able to pick up a bunch of picture books to add to our collections. This month I am excited to share with Baby Girl some of the classics that I grew up on.

Books for Mom

I have two physical books in my possession that I hope to read. This does not include my list of books on Kindle. The two physical books that I want to read this summer are Before We Were Yours and Sold on a Monday. These two books have been talked about by friends of mine. If I can get through two books, I would be grateful! I used to read all of the time for myself, now I read for the kids. Mom wants some mom reading!

I am linking up to the link-up on the Homeschool Review Crew. Share your posts, new and old, evergreen content is welcome!

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Fun Family Chess – A Homeschool Crew Review

My kids love to play games. However, sometimes I am not able to always be right there to make sure they are playing it right. Brain Blox has made it easy for my kids to play chess with Fun Family Chess.

What Is It

Included with Fun Family Chess are a folding wooden chessboard, 32 wooden chess pieces in soft pouches, a full-color chess book, 2 reference cards, and a chess cube. I will tell you more about this cube in a minute.

There are two different ways to play this chess game. First, you can play it like normal chess, using the reference cards if you need help or guidance with how each piece moves. The second way is the Fun Family way. This is the way the kids played chess while I was busy with work one day.

Fun Family Chess uses a color-coded cube and the reference cards for playing the game. All you need to do is set up your pieces, roll the cube (which will show you which piece to move), and move the piece you rolled. It still requires you to look around the board, see what you have happening and move the correct piece to help you win, but it is simplified for those just learning to play.

How We Used It

We have played this game both ways in our house. Little Miss is just learning how to play Chess and the Fun Family way was the best way for her to play. This is also the way the kids played while I was busy. Ray Ray has played before and really likes to think, plan and plot, so it made sense to play it the original way with him.

Little Miss has not ever played chess before. She loves it but has never actually played the game. I could have sat down and spent a whole afternoon explaining the game and how it works, just for her to get bored. Instead, we had a wonderful time playing chess the Fun Family way! All she needed to do was roll the chess cube, look at her reference chart and move. And I wasn’t able to make any huge moves when it was my turn since I also rolled the cube to move.

With Ray Ray, he has always loved this game. He learned a few years back with my mom, so rolling the cube was not fun for him. However, the reference cards were his best friend. He thinks that these are sent from Chess heaven just to help him beat mom in the game of chess.

While we didn’t roll the cube, we did still enjoy a long game of chess that ended up with us down to just 3 pieces on the board and him putting me in checkmate. He says the reference card helped him do that because he could plan his moves without giving them away and asking me how each piece moved.

What We Thought

This game has all thumbs up from us! We love the quality of the materials and how simple it is to learn how to play chess. I love that there are two ways to play, for both levels of my chess players. Little Miss doesn’t have to be confused and frustrated while learning the basics of the game and Ray Ray doesn’t have to be bored while playing the beginner way.

Since getting this game, I have noticed my kids enjoying more time learning and playing this versus asking to have screen time. When asked if they want to play, they gladly turn screens off and jump into a fun and educational game of chess.

We are glad to have this game in our house. It is well-loved and will be for many years to come!

Check out what the other reviewers have to say about Fun Family Chess from Brain Blox right here:

 

Fun Family Chess {Brain Blox Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

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Staying Motivated in the New Year

I have taken on a new position over the last year. This is great for my family, but it also means that I have to figure out how to schedule my days to get it all done. This upcoming year, I plan to make two simple resolutions to help me work from home and keep the home somewhat normal!

Little Changes Mean Big Changes

One thing that I did not know, was that making one simple little change in my routine would have big changes following it!

Now that I am working from home, I am looking for help on how to schedule and manage our days so we can still get my work, the kids’ school, the house cleaned and food for dinner all done in one day.

In making these small change, I have come to realize that I need to make more and bigger changes in our daily life. I am looking for ways to make the day to day easier for everyone in the house!

How to Make it Work

So, how do I make it work? I rely on resources that will help me make things work. Being a part of the Homeschool Review Crew has given me the option to find products that help me in ways I never thought possible.

LisaTannerWriting Balancing Diapers and Deadlines helps me figure the basics of my working from home while homeschooling and keeping the house. This program has been awesome. It is the simple things she talks about that make huge changes in our house. She has found great techniques and gives you guidance on how to make it work, working from home while keeping the house!

MyFreezEasy has been a blessing with helping me plan meals. I love looking at Pinterest, but I get lost. I can take half a day looking at all the fun recipes and only find one or two that work for us. But when I log in to MyFreezEasy, I am able to find recipes that work, find the shopping list I need, and make a second batch of the recipe to freeze for a later date! How simple is that for a busy work at home, homeschool mom??

Motivated Moms is a great resource that allows me to make sure my house is liveable. I am not saying that it is spotless, I have four kids so I don’t expect that, but I love having a simple plan laid out for me that allows me to keep my house livable while I am busy with other things. In fact, I use this list of daily chores when my kids come to me saying they are bored. They can pick a task and complete it to help mom out.

Working from Home and Homeschooling is Possible

Over this last year, I have learned that working from home and homeschooling at the same time is possible. You need to find your groove and rely on the resources you have available, but it is possible.

I have tried to do this on my own, and I failed, miserably. But when I finally went to look for help, I found that I had some great resources to help me! These resources helped me fill in the blanks that I couldn’t figure out on my own. They filled in the gaps and allowed me to keep homeschooling and working from home at the same time.

You Can Do It

You can do it. You can work from home and homeschool. You can have a liveable home while you do it. All you need are the right resources. I recommend you check these out and see how they would work for you!

How do you homeschool and work from home without losing your mind?

 

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The Everyday Family Chore System – A Homeschool Crew Review

Chores

Having six people in the house almost 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, the house can become a disaster. Dishes piling up, clothes that need washing and putting away, even just the simple job of sweeping can cause tantrums. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Everyday Homemaking has a great system in The Everyday Family Chore System.

Chores

The Everyday Family Chore System is a PDF book that not only gives you background on the chore system and how it was formed, but also all the charts and printables that you would need to make this a success in your house!

This is not just a chore chart system that you print up and use. This is one that you make for your family. You can pick and choose the chores that are needed in your house. In our house, I would love to have unload the dishwasher, but that is currently broken, so I need help with dishes or wash dishes, depending on the child. This is a plus for me. I don’t have to pretend to be a family we are not.

There are three parts in this system. Part One talks about Laying a Foundation. This is where we learn about why it is a good idea to have a foundation in action for your family. There are two main purposes for implementing the chore system, according to the authors, to train your children to be responsible members of the household and to teach them living skills. I truly agree with both of these! I don’t want to send any of my children, male or female off into the world, unable to take care of themselves, and even living alone for some time. By teaching and training them now, I know when they are out of the house, they will not be lost when the dishwasher breaks, and will still have clean dishes!

Chores

Part Two is Implementing the Plan. This is when you assign the responsibilities, teach the child how to actually do the chores and work on motivating them to get their chores done. This is the section that I loved. I loved that there was Life Skills Checklist. This is broken down by age and gives you goals for each age. I know that even though Baby Girl is 2, she does not know how to do all the life skills on the chart, but this gives me something to work with her on this year. The same goes for all the others. This list shows me where we need to focus for each child. I am able to tailor this system to work for each child and this family as a whole.

Not only do we get to check out the life skills, but now is the time we need to think about our family. What are the chores that NEED to get done each week? Once I figure those out, I can work on our rotating schedules. This is the schedule that will rotate, daily, weekly or monthly among the children who are able to do the chores. All three of the bigger kids are included in this, with Baby Girl getting added in on things she can do to help the older sibling with that chore when it is up on rotation.

Chores

There are numerous different ways to implement this system. I looked through all the ideas and I decided to use the Kids on a Mission idea. However, I did this a little different. I had cups with each of the kids names on them. I would put the chores on rotation for them that day/week/month, into their cup. I did not add the clothespins and make the children attach them to themselves for the day, instead, they needed to complete their cup each day before screen time was allowed. If you know my family, this is a big deal! Each time the chore was done, they would give that slip to me or dad. We would make sure that chore was done, and if things needed to be improved on, we would work with the child one-on-one to fully complete it.

Part Three is The Actual Chore System. This is where you are going to find the items you need to implement the system. The reproducible pages that you can print up, and some really great How-To-Do-It cards that will help your children remember how to do certain chores. These How-to-cards are easily available next to our cups. If the child on rotation that week had a chore they didn’t understand, or mom and/or dad noticed it wasn’t done all the way, we would pull these cards out and go over it. These were my lifesaver! Everyone loves a cheat sheet and it is no different when it comes to learning chores!

Chores

First things first, we are not a perfect in our chore system yet. We are still a work in progress. However, we have come a long way since we first started. The kids no longer fight me when I mention chores. They are not doing them to “my standards”, but I have learned to lower those as they are learning what needs to be done. I no longer have to do everything and have some time to myself that does not include clothes or sweeping. Ray Ray is super excited that he now knows how to make scrambled eggs…yes, I was that mom that thought I had to do it all, until I realized my kids couldn’t even cook for themselves!

Chores

Everyday Family Chore System has changed the way I looked at things around the house. No, my house is not magazine worthy, but it is live in worthy, without a stressed-out momma. This is an improvement that needed to be done. I am thankful that I have lessened my load, yet had a cleaner house because of it. How often do you say those words together?

Everyday Homemaking also has Everyday Cooking to go with The Everyday Family Chore System. Want to know more about it? Check out the reviews right here:

Everyday Cooking and Chores Systems for your Family {Everyday Homemaking Reviews}
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An Update on Daddy

A lot can happen in a week. Good can go to bad and normal can be made abnormal. Last week I finally opened up and told you about the health battle we have been dealing with concerning daddy, Chad. This week, I want to update you on all that has happened.

First, I want you to make sure that you are all caught up, to do that, you will want to read the first post right here.

Since I wrote this post, a lot happened. I don't know where to start, but I will just start. Daddy ended up undergoing emergency spinal surgery on February 4th. This is a Saturday. The University of Minnesota does not do surgery on Saturdays. This alone is scary!

Ok, backing up a few steps. After numerous MRIs, it was found that there was a syrinx in daddy's spine. A syrinx is a fluid filled sack. Well this sack was filing with spinal fluid. This, this is not good! At the top of this syrinx, they noticed a cyst. Once again, not good. The plan of action, immediately go in and find a way to drain the syrinx and possibly put a shunt in the cyst. Immediately meant on a day when they don't do surgeries. But it had to be done.

Now, I am a country girl, born and raised. I don't do the big city driving…ever! Not even as a teenager and going to the mall. I always rode shotgun, never the driver. Not this night. This night, after the phone call, I was at daddy's side without the help of the GPS and I was ready to go.

I did not sleep well for numerous reasons. Number one…have you ever tried to sleep in a hospital chair? Now, I have to admit that the numerous teething nights with the babies have helped me sleep in chairs, but this was still different, there was no cute baby to cuddle while trying to sleep. Number two, sleeping meant the morning would come, and the morning would bring the scariest day of my life to date.

Why was this the scariest day? There were a lot of if's when it came to this surgery. They did not know for sure what they would see when they opened daddy up. They had an idea and had scheduled a 4-hour surgery, but told us to prepare for up to 10+ hours. This is not fun, the not knowing. Not only that, but they were opening his spine. This alone is scary, but here we are listening to the doctor tell us about the what ifs when it came to the surgery and the possible paralysis from it.

We had the talk right away in the morning, telling us about hooking up sensors all over daddy to make sure that his body was still sensing and functioning where it needed to. So, we got all the facts, and we went at this thing head on, together.

Now came the wait. I waited, in a waiting room alone. There were no other families waiting, just me. My mom was at home with the kids, so they could have a "normal" day, so I sat, and paced, and sat some more. I tried to eat and I waited. I tried to watch T.V. and I paced some more. I got updates from a nurse in the operating room every so often, but this wasn't the same. Yes, I was told daddy was doing good, but she was the nurse, and I knew she wouldn't be able to tell me anything until the doctor talked to me.

After waiting for over 6 hours, I finally saw the doctor. I was told the good and the bad. We came out 90% where we wanted to be. There was no shunt put into the cyst. After trying twice, the risk of paralysis was too high. But they were able to take out some arachnoid webbing, yes, just as it sounds. It looks like spider webs, and is something that is normal in our body, but this section went overboard on daddy and blocked the flow of spinal fluid. Once it was removed, the flow returned.

Now we had to replace the 3 vertebrae that were removed from daddy's back and wait for him to wake up. All signs looked good, and the doctor was happy with what they had done. Guess what I did? I fell onto my knees, alone in the waiting room, and I thanked God. My husband was alive, he had sensory in his body, it did not look like paralysis would be a thing and it looked like all would be good. I was so thankful; all I could do was kneel and thank the Lord for what He had done.

It was almost two hours before I was able to see daddy after this update from the doctor. I raced to meet him at his room, the elevator could not move fast enough for me. But even though he was in his room, he was a long way from being better. The pain of moving and just coming out of surgery was hitting him. There was a lot of commotion, trying to move from one bed to the other and trying to make him comfortable. This is not fun, no matter what kind of surgery you have.

The hardest thing is watching someone you love be in pain, even if it is pain after something that is supposed to make them feel better. This is how I felt watching daddy try and get comfortable, even trying to eat, as I had to feed him this simple meal before leaving for home.

I don't know what was hardest during this time, watching daddy in pain, or trying to be in two places at once. I was happy when we were told he could come home on Tuesday night. I was also scared. I was bringing home a heavy dose of medicine that I would need to oversee. Now, I was adding personal nurse to my already full list of titles. I would have it no other way, no matter how scary it was.

For the past week, we have been handling a lot at home. We went and got a hospital grade bed to have in the living room. It is not ideal, but daddy is not able to make it up the stairs. We have Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy stopping by the house numerous times a week and we even have a nurse that is stopping by once a week. This is great for daddy, and mommy can still try to get some work and school work done.

During all of this, we have been worried about finances. We are waiting on short term disability to kick in, but they are saying this could be pre-existing…I don't understand as this is something new, but it is insurance and I don't understand a lot about that. We could use your prayers that this gets figured out quickly. While we have a little set aside, we will not last the 6-8 weeks that this surgery has for a recovery period. Also, if you are able, and/or feel compelled to, we have a funding site set up. This is set up by my cousin Mama Kautz to help us get through until everything is set up and running.

We get to see the doctor next week. This visit should tell us how the healing is going and hopefully we will hear about the pathology report. This has been another stressor, not knowing how this will turn out. We could really use your prayers on this as well. We are hoping for good results, but we will take this one step at a time.

We want to end this update with a huge thank you to everyone who has helped in any way, shape or form. From the prayers, to the meals or the financial help, it all means the whole to us! Thank you!!


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Interview With An Author ~ Dan Seaborn

I have been spending some time reading a great book, Parenting with Grace and Truth written by Dan Seaborn. I can't wait to share my full review with you next week, but today I have a special interview with Dan himself!

Thank you for taking the time to spend with us Dan! Could you tell us a bit about your own family and what lead you to write this book for today's parents.

Jane and I have been married for 35 years. We live in West Michigan. We have four children. Our oldest son, Alan, and his wife, Annaliese, live in West Michigan as well. Alan works with me at Winning At Home. Our son, Josh, and his wife, Amy, live in Camden, NJ where Josh is a pastor at an inner city church. They are expecting their first child in February. Our daughter, Crissy, and her husband, Jonathan, live in West Michigan. They have our two grandchildren, Jackson and Naya. Our youngest daughter, Anna, lives home and works with the youth at our local Boys and Girls Club.

I wrote this book for parents because I encountered a time of parenting in my life that I never anticipated. Even though I worked with teens for many years I had never personally experienced the challenges of raising a child who is rebelling. In this book, I took the approach of understanding what it takes to balance grace with truth. I want to be a forgiving parent, but I don't want to move into being an enabling parent. Balancing these two things is very difficult. I try to address that topic in this book.

You and your wife call your list of values, "rules to die for." Why?

I wanted to establish some guidelines early on to make sure we had foundational principles in place with a Biblical base. These are rules we feel are vital to living a life honoring to Christ. If you begin shifting and changing the rules while you're in the process of dealing with your teenagers it can create a lot of confusion. Enforcing these foundational principles early on and sticking to them daily as we faced challenges helped protect us from that.

How do we help our children understand the importance of making good choices and how that impacts their future?

There will be some children that understand that naturally, but others do not have that type of discernment. You might be surprised as your children age how rapidly some of these things can change. You might be facing a situation with a child who made good choices all along then starts to make poor choices. The rules to die for were important because they were the foundation that I could point them back to to determine whether they were making wise choices or not. We could try to evaluate together whether their choices fit the type of living our family rules encouraged. All you can do is keep teaching the principles. Eventually they need to learn to make good choices for themselves.

Many of us are good at setting the "rules" but struggle with the follow-through. What are some ideas for consequences for violating family rules?

In our home we established the rules to die for and laid out the consequences when those rules weren't followed. If you were choosing not to follow the rules, we went so far as to say that you're choosing not to live in our home. That actually happened to us with one of our teenagers. It was a very difficult day, but we stood by our rules. In the long run, it has proven to be very effective.

How do today's television shows shape our parenting?

I think our parenting is shaped much more by the people around us, our faith, our own upbringing, and our environment than television.

We live in a culture that prizes being "busy." Parents often don't think twice about loading up their kids schedules and have dreams of their child being the best in whatever they do. Is there danger in this?

Yes, I have always said parents need to believe in their kids but there is such a thing as over believing in your kids and many parents fall into this. I believe we should encourage our children to be involved in the positive activities they enjoy and certainly support and cheer for them, but not force them to be involved in everything. Sometimes this can become a competition more for the parents than the children. We want our child to be the best at everything and we lose our focus of what is really important – spending quality time together! Be sure to keep proper balance!

Why is discipline often hard for us as parents?

Because we have to be responsible adults and we fear losing our child's friendship. We need to understand being best buddies isn't the most important part of your relationship with your children.

How can we help other parents, specifically single parents?

Put yourself in their shoes every now and then. If you know a single parent, try to relate to their life once in a while. Do what you can to support them! Think of practical ways you can help them and make their life a little easier. Take time to care!

You and your wife had a prodigal child. Tell us about that and how other parents dealing with this situation can cope.

This answer I feel could get very lengthy! If you want to have a phone conversation about this, let me know. I've learned a great deal through the challenge of having a prodigal child. It has been very difficult, but I now can relate and seek to love and encourage parents who are going through a difficult situation in a way I never would have been able to before. For this I am grateful. My wife and I learned to lean on the Lord, each other, and our friends in ways we never had before through this trial. It is important to surround yourself with people who love you and who have been through a similar situation. People who get it, can give you wise counsel, and encourage you to press on.

What should our main goal be as parents?

That our children grow to know and love the Lord. They need to see you modeling this for them daily as the parent! We need to be mature. Parenting involves a lot of dying to self. Being a good parent means most of the time the kids come first. Make sure you're setting a great example for others in the way you love your family.

Thank you so much for your time Dan! Parenting With Grace and Truth has been a great book for our family. It has opened our eyes to being more like Jesus as parents and this is how we want to be!

I can't wait to tell you all more about this next week, so please remember to check back! But, honestly, from what Dan has said today, who wants this book now? 


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10 Ways to Make You a Better Mom

We are moms, we have days when we are on top of the world, but we also have days when we feel like we have failed those given to us from God. These things that seem to tear us down are changeable, and usually they are small things we need to just let go of. We work so hard at being great moms that we forget that these little things can be changed. That we can change.

Breathe

(photo credit Finding Joy.net)

With the added stress of the holidays upon us, I wanted to share a few tips with you. I have been at the point of feeling like a failure. I am sure I will have moments when that happens again. You know what, that is fine. That means I want to be a better mom. That means I know that I need to work at something a little harder.

10 Ways to be a Better Mom

To help you, and myself, I have put together 10 great ways to work at being a better mom. I hope you find at least one thing that works for you!

30 Day Mom Challenge

30 Day Mom Challenge

This sounds simple enough, but have you tried to do this yet? Each day you spend just a little time focusing on one thing. These one things add up to a whole lot of big memories for your kids. These memories are what they will remember as they grow up!

Plan for a Better Morning or a Better Evening

If you spend some conscious time planning for the morning, you will have a better morning. A better morning makes for a better you. I have been following these plans from Crystal Paine and love the little things that help me in a big way! Not only does she help you Make Over Your Mornings, but she has added a Make Over Your Evenings Course as well!

Control Your Anger

This one is hard for me. I love my kids. I love caring for them. Some days are harder than others. These are the days that remind me that I need to work on a better me for a better them. I love the information at The Orange Rhino Challenge. This was my first resource for my anger/yelling.

Triggers Book

I also fell in love with the book Triggers: Exchanging Parent's Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses. This book has been my favorite go to book. I love that it is a daily study that helps me to be better for my kids and that it includes God in the helping process!

Read a Book

Yes, it can be as simple as reading a book each day. I remember lying in bed with my mom reading out loud to my brother and I at night. No matter how busy the day was, no matter how busy she was, she sat down each night. She set aside time for us. This might not seem like a lot to your kids today, but when they are grown up, they will remember this and do this for their kids.

Pick Your Battles

This is the true and tested mom tip. You will not always win. This is a fact of life. What is more important, what your kids are wearing or how they behave? Should you be more worried over if they finish their plate or if they actually eat something healthy during the day? Mom, you need to pick and choose what is important and let the other things go.

Time Outs

When I say time outs, I don't mean for the kids, I mean for you. I have found myself taking a lot more time outs when things are stressful. I simply tell the kids that mom needs a timeout. I shut the bathroom door, sit at the picnic table, anything that gives me a moment away when I know that they are safe. These timeouts don't last too long, just long enough for me to breath and ask God for a Hail Mary pass. Something to keep getting through the day.

Connect With Other Moms

Better Together Book

You are not alone in this journey. All moms feel the same way no matter what they seem to portray. I have this book on my shelf, well it is sometimes on my shelf, but most of the time I have it pulled out or within reach. Better Together Because You're Not Meant to Mom Alone is a great book to check out. Find a mom group, or start one. It doesn't have to be huge, it can just be one or two of you who get together and spend some time sharing stories, successes and failures. We need each other, more than we want to admit some days.

Exercise

Yes, I said it. Exercise. This is one of those things we throw on the back burner, but it is important. I don't do this one as much as I should. I know this. I am working on this. I do not have a gym membership, rather I go to YouTube and find the ones that work for the time I have. Some of my favorites are JessicaSmithTV or BeFit. These are free and they are just what I need to help me stay active with variety!

Make A Plan

Motivated Moms

Yes, I said it! You need a plan. Benjamin Franklin said it best when he said "If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." Mom, I know you don't want to fail. You need to start making some simple plans. If the housework seems to be never ending, you can plan to conquer it. There are many great resources out there for this. I love the Fly Lady and Motivated Moms. These two are great for the homeschool mom and will help you keep at least one thing in control. One thing at a time, right?

Pray

This sounds simple enough, but are you really taking the time each day to spend with God? This is the time when we, as moms, are able to set our focus for the day. There are many different bible studies you can find online. You can different studies for the month, for the season you are going through, or for something that you need extra help in. Whatever you can think up, you can find a study on it. This can be online, in a book, or just by opening your bible and asking God to guide you.

These are my top ten ways to feel better about my job as a mom. I know that not every day is going to be perfect, I know I will make mistakes, but I know that I am trying and that is all that matters to my kids!

What are some of your tips on being a better mom?


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Internet Monitoring with Accountable2You ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Today's youth have access to so many things via the internet. They can access the internet from almost anywhere with any device they have in their hands. This is great for some things, but for others, this can be horrible. How do you keep yourself and your entire family accountable?

A2Y Homeschool Review

Our family has had the chance to check out the Family Plan from Accountable2You. This is an internet accountability/monitoring system for almost every device that you have in your house. I was super excited to try this out and I am happy to tell you all about it!

Accountable2You is a Christian based company that has a goal to build character through accountability. They opened in August of 2006 and since than they have built software for Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, and even Chrome. We even used this on our Kindles.

There are multiple different options for membership. You can do the Individual Plan which will give you up to 6 devices. There is also a Small Business Plan. This is great for the small businesses. You can have access for unlimited devices with the plan. And there is the Family Plan, the one we used.

The Family Plan lets you use this app on up to 20 devices, you have unlimited accountability partners, create child user accounts and set time limit alerts for each account. This is great for a family and covered all our devices without a problem.

We set up accounts on the major devices, those that were used without parental supervision 24/7 first. These were the ones that the kids took to their rooms, or those that stayed in the pocket of a teenager almost all the time. Mom was the accountability partner, so I would be able to get the notifications if something was off.

It was very easy to set up the accounts and the chat option was awesome when I had any questions. When I used that during open hours, I had an answer almost instantly. I had the accounts set up within about an hour and was happy to be able to check in on the devices as I wanted. This was something that I have wanted for some time, as the kids are learning to explore the internet more and more. I don't want them to feel restricted, but I want them to be accountable for what they are doing.

A2Y Times

When setting each device up, I could pick and choose many different options. First, I made myself the accountability partner for the kids. After talking with daddy and knowing that he goes to bed early and I stay up late, we decided that I would get the notifications if someone was on when they weren't supposed to be. Next I set up time limits. I picked the normal night hours of 10:30pm until 6am. If any of the devices decided to try anything between those times, I would get a message. This allowed the kids to bring the kindles to bed for reading or music, and I could trust that they were shut off at the right time.

A2Y Time

Finally, I made a simple list of objectionable words. These are the words that I want to know if they are being pulled up. I want to make sure that they are not doing what they know they shouldn't. I want them to be accountable. This gives them the choice on their own. I don't have to be a dragon breathing down their necks watching everything they do. They can take the device and use it, but use it in the right way.

While Moe Man was a little hesitant at first with this program, he found out it was better than he thought. He was worried that this would be a program that would need a password or would be hard to use. When I handed him his phone and Kindle after installing the app, he was happy to see there was nothing noticeable to him. He didn't have to come to me for anything and could go about using his devices as he wanted. This was a great thing to win the approval of the teenage boy. Knowing that I was checking in, gave him that extra boost to make the right choices.

A2Y Reports

Ray Ray loves to read before bed, and we have a lot of Kindle books that interest him, as well as digital library books. He takes the Kindle to bed often and I love knowing that I can make sure he is just reading and not trying to fib me. He did not know anything about the Accountable2You app until I pulled up the report in front of him asking about why he was on Netflix one night. Since then, he knows that he should make the right choices.

I love being able to hop on the computer and pull up a report of any of the devices. I can do a 24-hour report all the way to 15 days. This report shows me EVERYTHING that the devices do. Well, almost. Apple has not allowed full access to their devices. We can download the web browser and I can see what they are searching for on the web, but that is about it. I think Apple needs to change their mind, because as a mom, I love being able see what the kids are doing when on the devices, and to trust that they are making the right choices while still being a mom and checking in.

A2Y Apple

Are you a family with devices that the kids have access to? Do you want them to be accountable for their time on the device? You should check out Accountable2You and see if this is something that you could take advantage of! Want to hear other opinions? Check out the reviews here!


Accountability across all your devices {Accountable2You}


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Top Ten Halloween Books

Can you believe that it is already October? Do you know what that means? It is time for Halloween! Yes, we love Halloween and we love to spend time reading books about Halloween! I am going to share with you our top 10 favorite Halloween books today! We are lucky to have a library with a wonderful collection of seasonal books, so it wasn't hard to find our favorites!

Berenstain Bears

The Berenstain Bears Go On a Ghost Walk

How can you go wrong when it comes to the Berenstain Bears? I grew up with these bears, and I am making sure the kids learn all the lessons that these bears have to share with us! When it comes to Halloween, we learn that one person's fun, can be another person's nightmare. We know that Halloween is a time for fun not just all scares.

Spooky Wheels

The Spooky Wheels on the Bus

This is a great counting book that ties in the song in a new way. The kids love singing this song and love seeing Little Miss work on her counting skills in a fun way!

Alpha Oops

Alpha Oops! H Is for Halloween

What a fun book this was! No, the alphabet does not go in order, but you follow poor little B who just can't figure out what he is going to be. I was lucky enough to be the first person to check this book out of our library, and it was a hit for us. I am glad that I was able to find it!

Little Boo

Little Boo

Ahh…Little Boo. Another great book that we were lucky enough to be the first to check out. This is a fun book about a little seed who is trying to scare everyone. The wind keeps telling him to wait and by the end of the book, he is able to scare with his boo. This is a great book about growing and never giving up!

Coruroy's Halloween

Corduroy's Halloween

This is a lift the flap book, and in this house, you are never too old to lift the flap! We love Corduroy and lifting flaps, so this was a winning book! We were able to join in with Corduroy as he got ready for a Halloween party, including going shopping with him! This is just a fun classic that needs to be read!

Halloween Night

On Halloween Night

Another counting book! We love these types of books! This one is just the right amount of scary and the little kids love it! They love being able to be "scared" yet know that it really isn't that scary. This is a counting adventure through the woods one night.

Sweetest Witch

The Sweetest Witch Around

The Sweetest Witch is the little sister to the Very Brave Witch. What a fun book to read! The story talks about being brave when you are supposed to be scared and having fun with the giving not just the receiving!

Ghosts Go Scaring

The Ghosts Go Scaring

My kids love the song The Ants Go Marching and this is just the Halloween version! We love it and sang it many times since checking it out!

Little Goblins

Little Goblins Ten

Yes, this is another counting book. How in the world do you think we work on math in Kindergarten lessons? Yes, by reading these fun books! All the spooky animals are gathering for some Halloween fun! You need to read this one if you haven't already!

I Spy

I Spy Spooky Night

Yes, every holiday needs a good I Spy book! We love to open our eyes and spend some time finding the fun hidden objects! The creepy scenes are fun to examine over and over again. Mom is a fun of sitting down with the kids and finding everything first so that she can give clues! Tell me you still sit down and enjoy these fun books yourself!

top-ten-halloween-books

These are our favorite books when it comes to Halloween this year. What are some of your favorite Halloween books that you will be reading this year?

 


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DIY with Essential Oils

I love my essential oils! I could name a million reasons why, but I will save that. Unless you really want to hear, but then you have to email me! Today, I want to show you the many different ways that I love to use my oils.

DIY with Essential Oils

DIY Essential Neck Wrap

DIY Essential Oils

Now this…this is one of the best creations in the world! Warm on the back of your neck at the end of a long day with the essential oil of your choice drifting up to breath in. Yes, this can be possible! Ray Ray loves to warm ours up with his favorite oil to cuddle up with when he isn't feeling good.

DIY Sugar Scrub Recipe

DIY Essential Oils

Sugar scrubs, oh my! These are heaven in a jar! I love pampering myself, yet knowing that it is all natural and pretty inexpensive. This site shows many of the recipes that I love to use!

Homemade Bath Salts

DIY Essential Oils

This goes together with the sugar scrubs. I love sitting down with a glass of wine while pampering myself. Now when I think of pamper and wine, I think of the bathtub. After a long crazy day at home, this is nice to have! Look at how simple this really is!

Eucalyptus Essential Oil Shower Melts

DIY Essential Oils

If you don't have the time to slow down and take a bath, why not make your shower a spa for the time being? Check out these super awesome shower melts! They don't require abstract items, and if you are like me, you probably already have everything you need to make these right now, check it out!

Diffuser Necklace

how-to-make-diffuser-necklace-essential-oils

I love my diffusers, and some days I wish I could bring them with me! When I can't, I throw on a necklace and enjoy the same benefits from before. I love how simple the directions are for this necklace are. This is something I will soon venture to make with the kids, right now we have some cute necklaces we got from our family reunion.

Homemade Carpet Deodorizer

DIY Essential Oils

This is the newest thing I have found that works wonders for me! I love the scent in my house and I love that I can customize it to my mood. I love no chemicals and I feel good using this and letting the kids and animals roam on it! If you try any of these DIY ideas, this is the one I would tell you to try!

Moisturizing Foaming Hand Wash

DIY Essential Oils

Now this is a new one that I really want to try out. This is similar to the carpet deodorizer in that I can pick and choose my own scents and know what is really in the soap my family uses every day. I plan on making some later this week and would love to hear your favorite combos of essential oils.

These are just some of the things I make, or want to make with my essential oils. I know there many other things out there! What are some of your favorite things to make with your essential oils? I would love to know! Leave me a comment and/or link below so that I can check them out!!

 

God Bless

Amanda