Monday, December 28, 2015

Making "Gingerbread" Houses for Christmas!

A few weeks ago I was watching Jamerrill Stewart on Youtube and she mentioned that she was going to make gingerbread houses from a tutorial on Smockity Frocks.  Well, I was interested because I do not like the kits.  I don't like the candy, the cookie or the frosting.  I knew there had to be a different way.  So I found what I needed and bought the ingredients.
Graham crackers, candy and Royal Icing- recipe link below
Preparing the structures:
Graham crackers put together with Royal Icing.
The more icing the better for "gluing."
I did the bottom first and let it dry and then I did the roof.
It was messy!
Note: Be sure to refrigerate the icing in an airtight container to be used later for decorating.
Then we set up the candies: marshmallows, smarties, pretzels, candy canes, m&m's, Hershey's kiss, peanut butter penguins.
Here's a good candy list.

Each person got a Ziploc bag of icing with a small hole at the end for piping.
Let the decorating begin!
Even the grandparents joined in.
It was great to see each creation.

Jessna finished first.
Then she just wanted to eat the candy.

Shrade made a front porch.

I couldn't believe I could make things stay.
I had to hold some candy on for a few minutes or they would slip.

Super fancy from my husband.

Grandma is a born decorator.

Grandpa made a high rise.

Then a few days later we ate them!

Shrade smashed his.
It was a fun project and one we will do again in the future.
Even though it was a little messy it was worth it.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Merry Christmas 2015

Merry Christmas!
I can't wait to share more about what has happened this year. 
Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Changes: 7 Biblical Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty Book Review with Coupon Code (expires November 20)

Changes 350x350
The second book in the devotional series of The Talk (focuses on sex education for families) by Luke and Trisha Gilkerson is Changes: 7 Lessons to Make Sense of Puberty which is for ages 8-12.  This book covers how Jesus grew, Puberty, Hormones, What to expect for boys and girls, Girl Changes, Boy Changes, and the Goodness of Sexual Attraction.  The introduction states how important that we discuss these issues in our families before they learn it from somewhere else. 
"As we are able, we want to be the first and dominant voice our kids hear when it comes to the subject of sex."  -Luke Gilkerson
These devotions focus on the foundation of building blocks of biblical sexual values in our kids.  One of things that is very important is to be open and available for these conversations to take place.  It's a great idea to make regular family devotions for your family and at some point you can include these lessons during that time.  In this way you are establishing that bond of open and honest conversations. 
They also address why it's not too soon to talk about these things as well as this is an ongoing conversation.  There is no need to fear, but it's so important that we share the biblical values for the gift God has given to us.  We want our kids to get excited for these upcoming changes and also to know how to handle the emotional and physical changes that occur during this season of life.  Your kids need to know this information, and what better way than to use a well laid out plan like this curriculum.
My thoughts:   I really appreciate the conversations outlined in this book that will make it work to share about this sensitive topic.  It's easy to brush it off, but I know that it's better that my kids learn about puberty from me and also with a great resource beside me.  I would feel very comfortable using this.  Yes, it does cover anatomy, but it's necessary for children to understand these things so they feel prepared to face this new season of life. 
I don't know if I was fully prepared for my changing body.  It was a very uncertain time in my life and I didn't feel like talking about this at all.  Now that I'm a parent, I've started these conversations with my kids who are just 4 and 6.  They are not so curious right now, but soon I will be able to use the first book in this series called The Talk: 7 Lessons to Introduce Your Child to Biblical Sexuality.  Then later as they get a bit older I can use Changes as outlined in this blog post.  I'm very excited that I have these resources to help my kids understand all that God has planned for their bodies.
Get the ebook here: Intoxicated on Life

Use this coupon code (Nest10) for 10% off through November 20 on the products listed below:

Click Family Bible Studies
Look for Changes
or The Sex Ed Series (The Talk and Changes)
Use this code:
Nest10 through November 20 for 10% discount
*I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from the authors.  All opinions are my own.*

Friday, October 30, 2015

Morning Chore Accountability Idea- Made Simple

Mornings with my kids used to be so stressful and unproductive.  I couldn't get them to do the SAME things as I verbally told them.  My son wouldn't get dressed and my daughter was always running around not sure what to do even though I kept telling her.  So, I needed to come up with a system where I was not the one to tell them what to do. 
I have tried many chore systems to help my kids in the morning before breakfast: stickers, magnets, charts, etc.  Nothing has worked!  I needed something that would help them to be independent, accountable and that was something they could do themselves.  I didn't want to have to keep up with it.
So, I came up with this stick and ball idea. 
Here's how it works:
*Each child has a 2 jars (small and large), sticks with chores on them and a bunch of puff balls (I count them to make sure there are a sufficient amount).
*On the sticks I write chores that need to be done BEFORE breakfast.  Most are quick and easy, but some take a few minutes longer.
*Each night or in the morning before they get up I put out their sticks.
*When they get up, they do everything on their sticks.  When they get a stick job done, they put it in the little jar. 
*At breakfast, they count up the sticks and put that many balls in the big jar.  I also keep the extra balls in a baggie in the same big jar.
*When the jar is filled and baggie is empty they get a reward- dollar store purchase, candy, any special prize I think of.
*It takes them about 2-3 weeks to fill the jar.
*Then we put all the sticks back in the big jar and put the little jar on top.  ALL DONE!  I only have to put out the sticks and the kids take care of the rest!  Simple, easy and the jobs get done.
So, what are the job?
*Get dressed
*Breakfast (set it out)
*Fill water bottles
*Feed and water cat
*Laundry (bring it down)
*Dishwasher (unload)
*Bed sheets (take them off and bring down)
*Check in with mom
They do not do all these every day, but I have them do about 4-6.
This has made our mornings (mostly) smooth, the kids are working and being responsible for their own jobs.  It's amazing!  I've been doing this for about a month and it works so well. 
And my kids, well, they like it and they are very proud of themselves and so am I.
Happy kids!

I do have a different system for other household chores that we do after breakfast which is even more simple, but I'll share that in another post.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

First Grade Daily Learning Notebook

First Grade Daily Learning Notebook
click HERE if you are reading this by email for the video
Here is what I include in the first grade daily learning notebook with links:
*Confessions of a Homeschooler - Elementary Daily Learning Notebook (pdf)
*Assignment sheet- Multitaskin Mom
*I Can Teach My Child- Goal Setting
*Character Traits actually from The Measured Mom, but I can't find the link (must have been a freebie)
*Math Activities from 3 Dinosaurs
*Fall Reading from 3 Dinosaurs
*Life Skills Checklist from Thriving Family (pdf)
*Age Appropriate Chore Chart from Happy Housewife
*Manners from Thirty Handmade Days
*Read, Build, Write mats from Homeschool Creations
*Gospel in the Bible- When You Rise
*Maps- Enchanted Learning
So, I put all of the daily papers on a clipboard and I utilize the sheet protectors for papers we do daily that change like the date page that comes in the daily learning notebook set from Confessions of a Homeschooler.  I also add in printable worksheets with dot to dot, soduku, word search, mazes and other ideas from
These have been a great way to start our school day and help to set up some good skill work.  I also have him copy the Bible verse for the week and a few other things like writing our address and phone number.  I really like the clipboard which keeps everything organized.  I just put all the papers in there so they are ready to go for the next day.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

PreK Daily Learning Notebook

PreK Daily Learning Notebook
click HERE for video if you received this through email
Here is a list with links to what is in my PreK Daily Learning Notebook.  
*Confessions of a Homeschooler- PreK Daily Learning Notebook (FREE!)
*Handwriting Worksheets- Make your own for tracing name
*The Measured Mom- Letter of the Week Book List
*This Reading Mama- Letter Tracing (part of the subscriber freebie page)
*Little Learning Lovies- Letter Hunt (Probably a free download somewhere)
*I Can Teach My Child- Goal Setting
*Character Traits from The Measured Mom (can't find link)
*Life Skills from Thriving (pdf link)
*Manners from Thirty Handmade Days (lots of other great printables on this site)
*Guidelines for Practical Life Skills for kids- Thirty Handmade Days
Every morning we start with Morning Time and then we go to the table and go through our Daily Learning Notebook clipboard.  I use sheet protectors and dry erase markers for some of the papers.  This is a great way to start the school work time and skills are learned.   I have seen real success and good development toward independent learning using these notebooks/clipboards. 
Hope you can get started with Daily Learning Notebooks for your children.  Have a great day learning!  Blessings, Shonda

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

First Day of School 2015

The night before our first day of school we do Back to School Banana Split Night!

The next day we dress up and take our first day pictures.
My daughter is PreK and my son is 1st grade.
I'm pretty excited to do a new grade that I have never taught before.

 I bought all of my supplies at Walmart and I bought quality products, I think.  I made a big schoolbox for each of my kids and one for myself so we will have plenty of supplies which I constantly ran out of last year. 

This is what our school room looks like.  Yes, it's the dining room.  I put the whiteboard in the middle to separate and it works great.  It has cut down on distraction immensely and I can bounce back and forth between the two.  I tried a more relaxed approach on the couch, but it did not work AT ALL!

 And after our school morning we went out for our First Day Donuts.  That's our tradition and the kids love it!

I found that writing out a routine/schedule for the day along with what chores are expected has really helped especially with my son.  I don't include times exactly, but I try to start school between 9-10.  We do about an hour of chores (good exercise too!).  That way I can relax during the homeschool time and not think about all the stuff that I need to do.  We have been in school for 6 days and I can tell a BIG difference between this year and last year.  Both kids can work at the table and it much less chaotic than last year when my little girl wanted my attention while I worked with my son.  I just couldn't get it to work out well.  But this year looks promising.
I have a few more things to share this month:
*Our daily routine
*Daily Learning Notebook videos
*Homeschool organization in a small space
Thanks for stopping by and enjoy the new school year whether you homeschool or send them off!
Blessings, Shonda

Monday, August 10, 2015

PreK Curriculum Choices

This year I am moving on to PreK with my daughter.  I cannot believe how much she has learned last year.  She knows almost all of her letters and sounds.  She can color and count.  She loves books and can retell stories.  And she can memorize well.  We will be off to a great start in the fall.  We will be concentrating on her fine motor skills like cutting, writing and coloring.  She just loves school time.

Daily Learning Notebook for PreK- FREE from Confessions of a Homeschooler

Rod and Staff Books A-F
Preschool - Set of 7 ABC Series

Language Lessons for Little Ones Volume 1 from Queen Homeschool

Come and See Science from Queen Homeschool (with brother)

Bible Coloring Book from Rod and Staff with brother

Character Concepts Review

Raising Rock Stars Preschool Bible Verses

Other activities:
*Homeschool Co-op

For Pre-reading this semester we will be using All About Reading Pre-Reading Course.

Starting in January we will start Reading the Alphabet
Reading the Alphabet

Listen to her retell Don't Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late by Mo Willems!  She's got it!

Monday, August 3, 2015

First Grade Curriculum Choices

I can't believe we are heading into First Grade next year!  It seemed like it took forever to get to Kindergarten (remember I taught K for 12 years before I had kids) and so this is NEW territory for me.  I thought and researched a lot and found what I think will work best for this coming year.  We are using the next volume in a few areas and trying a few new books.  I'm very excited.  I got my new planner and I'm starting to fill it out with important dates. 
The Well-Planned Day Homeschool Planner, July 2015-June 2016  -     By: Rebecca Scarlata Keliher

I will be sharing two curriculum posts- one for my son and one for my daughter.  So be looking out for my PreK choices coming up soon.

Daily Learning Notebook- FREE from Confessions of a Homeschooler
I usually add things like word search, some math printables and writing

Reading-  We had to change our reading curriculum because what were using was not working well enough for my son to grasp some key reading foundation skills.  So we switched to All About Reading starting in Level 1. 

We will also keep working in The Reading Lesson
 We are no longer using Learning Language Arts Through Literature.

*Language Lessons for Little Ones Volume 3 from Queen Homeschool
*Printing with Pictures Book C and D from Queen Homeschool
*Lessons in Manners for Copywork from Queen Homeschool

Spelling- All About Spelling (see my blog post here!)

Creative Writing- Write Shop Primary Book A (we love this program!)

*We will use Math Lessons for a Living Education Volume 2 from JellyBean Jar Publications

We are using A Living History of our World Part 1 by Jelly Bean Jar Publications

*Rod and Staff Bible Pictures to Color (with sister)
*God is.... A to Z (copywork verses) (no longer available)
*Review Character Concepts from last year

 * Come and See from Queen Homeschool (with sister)

*Hoffman Academy piano lessons online (FREE!)

*Typing Club
*Uncle Rick Audio Book Club
*Which Way USA from Highlight Magazine
*The Talk from Intoxicated on Life
*Mailbox Club
*LOTS of read alouds (see Read Aloud Revival)

*Volunteer at the Food Bank
*Homeschool Co-op

For PE we will try to go outside and do some running, play at parks, climbing, jumping, games with balls, riding bike and anything active.  We also do exercises in the house, run the stairs and some fun kids yoga videos. 

We also will be writing in our journals several times a week using ideas from This Reading Mama and The Measured Mom

This year I'm going to try a block schedule.  So basically I'm going to do split the year into 6 terms.  During each term I will do Language Arts, Math, Morning Time and 2 extra subjects.  If I don't get the extra subjects done, that's OK. 

So for my son the first term we will do Language Arts (Language Lessons, Handwriting, Reading), Math, Morning Time, Science and Music. 

I was trying to come up with something simple so I can fit the many things in, but not all at the same time.  I watched this webinar by Pam Barnhill and Sarah Mackenzie that inspired me greatly. 

I do a lot of learning things at meals like verbal math, Bible stories, read-alouds, questions and answers, memorizing.  I also do some of these things during Morning Time. 

First grade- here we come!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Summer Fun: 4th of July, camping, VBS, Day Camp and more! (picture post)

We are trying to read one Bible verse a day starting in 1 John, but it's tough to keep up with.

Kids went camping with daddy overnight up at Mt. Rainier.

My dad came all the boys went camping.

4th of July at Lake Tapps- Mt. Rainier in the background.  They were really having fun!!

My son lost another tooth- front one!

My daughter still can claim the nickname Messi Jessi.

My son's "store."

A trip to the ER with high fever and not feeling good.

Blueberry picking at the free park just around the corner from our home.

Lots of yummy blueberries to pick and freeze.

Another year of VBS!

Found a bike for $5 at a yard sale.

My son's junk yard.

My daughter went to her first preschool day camp and loved it!

Mommy/son date at Panera Bread.

The last 5 weeks we have been getting up and leaving by 8 or 8:30 every morning.  This is not normal for us as we homeschool and don't usually go out until 12-1 in the afternoon for errands or library trips.  But that schedule is done and the kids had lots of fun, but now we will stay home a little bit more, go to parks, bowling, concerts and movies.  It's been a hot summer so we'll hit the spraygrounds too.  I have a lot to do here at home, but my homeschool is pretty much planned.  I bought all the school supplies and I have all the curriculum.  I found a great new way to schedule and I'm ready to go.  I will share what I have planned this month in two separate posts for First Grade and PreK. 
What fun things have you been doing this summer?
Hope you are enjoying the fun times you can have with your family.  Don't forget to take time for yourself as well.  Blessings, Shonda