Monday, May 11, 2020

New to Homeschooling? Check out this eBook!

As a new homeschooler 8 years ago, I often struggled with feeling like I had no idea what our homeschool day could look like, apart from the standard 9-3 day. I wish someone had told me I could be flexible, that our day could look different at different seasons of life, or even given me a few examples of what our day could look like. Through trial and error, I think we all figure it out eventually.

I wrote this ebook out of a desire to help brand new homeschoolers feel a little less pressure and freedom to allow their day to look however they want it to...and I give eight ideas to try out for structuring the day.

The ebook is available anywhere you can buy ebooks-Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords (can download to any e-reader format from this site), etc. If you are a new homeschooler, I hope you find this quick read encouraging and helpful. 

Note: Amazon is $1 more than everywhere else but “lending” is enabled. Feel free to lend it to a friend. 

2nd note: if you need/feel this ebook will be helpful to you, and sincerely can’t afford it right now, please email me privately ( I will happily get you the ebook for free. No questions asked.

You can find it on Amazon for just $2.99 HERE.

I hope you find encouragement in this ebook! 

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Live Classes on Outschool with ME!!

Years ago, I release a "Create Your Own Cupcake Business" printable product on Teachers Pay Teachers . It was in response to my own daughter's absolute obsession with owning her own cupcake shop one day. I made it for her to explore some of the basics of her own cupcake shop, as well as for her to be able to do a homeschool project presentation on her business. She absolutely loved it, and I now sell it on my TpT store.

Recently, with the quarantine, I've had some time to finish up, jump in, or try things that have been on the back burner for a while. One of those things is teaching on Outschool. I've posted before about how much I love the Outschool platform for my homeschooled children. Being a teacher my whole life, I always thought it would be fun to teach on this platform, too. It was just such a foreign platform for teaching that I figured I'd need adequate time to learn how to use it. BUT, the quarantine quickly forced the learning curve of Zoom for the gym I teach at (, so I figured now was as good a time as any to try my hand at Outschool, as well.

And so, with that, I have combined my "Create Your own Cupcake Business" printable with a live Outschool class for interaction/feedback with me/other children! I am incredibly excited to launch these classes. I'll be adding more as I get my feet wet-I have, after all, taught a variety of topics to children over the years!

You can find my Create Your Own Cupcake Business classes HERE. (First, grab your $20 sign up bonus HERE...then you can even apply it to this class!).

Be sure to check out this In the Kitchen: Dirt Cups class, too! With over 46,000 re-pins from this blog on Pinterest, this delicious treat is a perfect one for your child to do independently in my class. Sign up, grab your supplies, and let your kiddo make dessert for the night!

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Why We Homeschool Year Round

I'm in my 6th year of homeschooling my four children. What once began as a "let's see how this goes" adventure has now progressed into a definite way of life that I cannot imagine diverting away from. The ups and downs of the first year were certainly the most stressful, and while there are still ups and downs, I wouldn't trade homeschooling my children for anything.

Today I'm going to be sharing about the driving factors and our "whys" for schooling year round.  Many homeschoolers still school on a traditional schedule, but year round schooling has been the school schedule that we love the most and have held onto the longest. If you've been looking for ways to set up your school schedule, I encourage you to consider this type of set-up.

*Note: When I say "year round" I don't mean that we sit down with our books every day. In fact, my homeschooling style is not one where we spend much time at the table "schooling" anyway. Rather, it means that we don't follow a traditional school schedule in regards to big summer breaks and holidays and such. We plan on schooling all through the year with the idea that if and when we want a day off, to take a family vacation, or to just have a fun day together at the beach, we can do so without getting behind on our school. Our kids still go to fun camps in the summer, and we still have days where we just throw our hands up and watch movies together all day.

When we started homeschooling, we adhered to a traditional school schedule. Summers off. Breaks when the schools had breaks. Spring and winter breaks, holidays, etc. were all observed. I stuck pretty carefully to this schedule. After all, I grew up in public school and even taught kindergarten for a couple years...this is just how you do it, right? I knew of no other way, and so I naturally just followed suit.

Over the years, we found that our lives were much more balanced when we schooled year round, taking breaks as we need them instead of when we were supposed to take them. Several factors played into this, and I honestly feel that I find more reasons in favor of it the longer we do it.

At first, when my kids were younger, it was a behavioral decision. On school days, with routine, the kids had better attitudes. On days where we just "did whatever" and didn't do any "school", they were crazy. Children thrive on routines and on knowing what to expect. When the routines got thrown out the window, it seemed to mess with their understanding and expectations of the day. This was most noticeable when they were younger. As older children now (5, 8, 9, 11), they have enough consistent non-school routine things to keep the balance of our day (i.e. morning responsibilities- self care like teeth, dressing themselves, etc, and family chores-unloading the dishwasher, making their own breakfasts, etc.). Nevertheless, we love the routine of "school" being as simple as an every day part of our lives. I hope to raise life-long learners, and believe that schooling year round helps them understand that learning is something we should pursue always and forever.

Weather began to play a roll in this decision, as well. August is extremely hot here, whereas September is beautiful. With littles who wanted to play at the park often, we found the slides and swings were too hot to even enjoy in August. We preferred to play outside in September over August. Lake Tahoe is generally still really nice in September, and the bonus is that school-kids are back in school and we have the beach and parks to ourselves! Schooling year round allowed us to take breaks in September to go play without feeling "behind" on our schooling. We also will take our Disneyland family vacations on non-school breaks to ensure that it's not too crowded. And no, we never bring our school work along with us.

Retention quickly became a driving force to school year round. I found that, in general, many curriculums provide a couple weeks of review material with each new year of curriculum. The fact that many take a couple months off from school means that generally speaking, a review is necessary before moving on. Maintaining our year round schedule not only meant the kids remembered what they were learning, but that we could also skip those couple weeks of review material each year and just jump in with the new stuff. Imagine skipping 26 total weeks of review work over the course of a K-12 education. That's half a year spent just on reviewing stuff you already learned but forgot because of taking so much time off!

Flexibility is another. At this point, we average only 4 days of school/week. My kids usually do 5 days worth of work for all core subjects, but they complete it (on most weeks) in four days. If we have a crazy Monday, we can still complete all our stuff during the rest of the week. BUT, if we don't get to five days of work each week, it's still okay...year round schooling will keep us on track over the course of the year. The flexibility and relief of not having to stress over a missed school day is totally worth it. It keeps me sane, and helps keep the kids from stressing, too.

We love year round schooling. We are able to complete all of our necessary school work, have fun, enjoy the nice weather, and keep ourselves relatively stress free. If you are struggling to find a great schedule balance in your homeschool, I encourage you to take a look at schooling year round. It might be just what you're family needs!

Do you school year round? What is your favorite aspect of this type of school schedule? 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Outschool: Our New Favorite Homeschool Supplement

I posted last week on the new Instagram page (@motheringwithcreativity) a picture of my 9-year old finishing her first Outschool class. She did a canvas art painting class, absolutely loved it, and has been begging to do another one ever since. Now that we have just completed our 5th class, I figured I'd share a little about it because I LOOOOOVE it so much (we've now done art, chemistry, animal classifications, and car engines).

Today, my 7 year old took a course on the basics of car/truck engines.  This little one is currently my most difficult child to homeschool. He is so hands on, doesn't particularly love reading, and loves anything engineering related...something with which I am relatively unfamiliar. I was FLOORED when he finished his hour long course and came out to explain the purpose and function of the four different cylinders in a car engine. WHAT?!?! I honestly wasn't sure whether or not he'd leave that hour of sitting/listening to this teacher speak and love or hate it, so this was a complete surprise. He can't EVER sit still, and yet he sat, listened, and understood a subject that, to him, was the coolest ever.

I am so sold on Outschool. There are an abundance of classes offered, and many different teachers to learn from. The cost is (in my opinion) very reasonable, and there is a good mix of one-time classes, month long classes, and semester classes.

I HIGHLY encourage you to check it out and browse the classes that are offered. My goals in using Outschool are:

1) Give my children a little something outside of our usual school routine.
2) Allow my children to explore their interests with someone who is more knowledgable than I.
3) Allow me to have a little bit of time where one or two children are occupied and I can more specifically work on school with the others.
4) Science. I'm not great at it and I don't love it. I'm always looking for fun people to teach my children science!

While many of the classes are during the day, there are also evening and weekend classes, meaning non-homeschoolers can certainly take advantage of these classes, too!

Have you tried Outschool? What were your thoughts? Any favorite classes?

If you are interested in trying out a class, use THIS LINK to get $20 towards your first class (and I will get $20 too!)!  Let me know what you try!

Monday, December 3, 2018

Cooperative Games: Life Changing for Competitive Families

I posted this week on the BRAND NEW INSTAGRAM PAGE (say what?!?...@motheringwithcreativity) about how much we love this cooperative game-Dinosaur Escape. We have a competitive family, but we all LOVE board games. This one has been amazing because either everyone wins, or everyone loses. The bickering is significantly less, and the kids will often play 3-4 rounds before moving on to something else.

I had no idea that Peaceable Kingdom offered so many of these games, so now I'm hunting down the rest on Amazon. I've heard great personal reviews on several of these games from friends, so I'm really excited to grab a couple more for Christmas this year.

Dinosaur Escape is great because A) my 5 year old currently loves dinosaurs, and B) because it takes practically 5 minutes to play, has minimal set up, and no reading required. Even my big kids (7, 9, 11) jump in on this one!

If you're looking for a great gift for Christmas, check out all the Peaceable Kingdom games on Amazon. For some reason, Dinosaur Escape is not currently available on Amazon, but it looks like there are a ton of other ones!

Happy game-playing!

(Some of the links in this post are my referral/affiliate links.  Read my disclosure policy HERE.  Thank you for supporting the continuation of this blog by using my links!)

Monday, November 26, 2018

Family Meal Times: How We "Found" an Extra Couple of Family Hours Each Week

Once upon a time, I had four children under age six. My husband got off work at 5:00, and was home exactly 5 minutes later. The table would be set, the smell of delicious hot food would fill the air, and we would sit down by 5:15 to eat a hot, homemade meal.

Then the kids got older. And they jumped into sports and activities. And the priority of family dinners got shuffled around a bit. At my core, though, I really valued that family time around the table. It is something that I placed a high priority on, and something that I wanted in our lives even with the addition of sports and activities and big kid stuff. I wanted to establish a family meal time when our children were young, so that when they were old, it would still be a regular family "thing". I wanted my children to have a place where questions and conversations were natural and welcome. Sports and activities were throwing a wrench into my plans.

What took me a while to consider was that the priority was on a family meal time, not necessarily a family dinner time. Who said that meal had to be dinner? We began utilizing family breakfast or lunch times. Lunch was more natural for me as breakfast meant I had to be up extra early (uh, not happening).

Our life has been a little more full lately. We spend a lot of our time at our martial arts gym training and teaching. All four of our children, plus my husband and I take classes, putting us home later in the evening. We generally do simple meals on our later nights, but it felt so "rushed" as of late, and I really wanted to reclaim some of that family meal time. I hated rushing home, throwing food on the table, eating, and sending them off to bed.

Recently, I began to set the table for dinner early in the afternoon, before we even leave for our evening classes. A cute centerpiece, candles, dishes and cutlery, etc. Just the simple act of preparing an otherwise plain table began to draw my children to the kitchen. When we come home from the gym, we kicked our "watch tv or play until mom's done prepping dinner" habit in favor of a "sit around the table and talk together" routine. Our kitchen and dining table are connected, making it easy for me to prep food and talk with the family. I put the finishing touches and prep on dinner, my family sits at the table or helps out, and we enjoy the time together while dinner is getting ready.

This one tiny little change has given us an easy extra two hours or more of family time a week. Our dinners have been more enjoyable, our kids are staying at the table longer, and the conversations have been more relaxed. The stress of getting home late and eating quickly has mostly diminished, and we are once again enjoying our family dinners together.

It seems like something so silly and simple. And it is. But silly and simple solutions that yield positive family time are my kinda solutions.

If you are in a similar phase of life with activities or evening things that may be threatening your family meal time, I highly encourage you to think outside of the box. Is there another meal time that would work for your family? Is there a way to spend more time in the kitchen or around the table together? Dinner isn't the only opportunity for time around the table with your family. If it's a priority to you, get creative and make it happen!

Saturday, November 24, 2018

DIY: Three Ingredient Chapsticks

I love good chapsticks. Always have. But long gone are the days where I spend several dollars on "good" chapsticks only for me to lose them a few weeks later and head back to the store for yet another tube. A few years ago I began making my own chapsticks, and there is no going back. Homemade chapsticks are The Bomb. For real. Way better than any store-bought one I've ever used, and get this...they cost me roughly $.50 per tube to make, maybe even less.

When you feel how silky smooth these chapsticks are, and how quick and easy they are to make, I guarantee you'll never buy chapstick at the store again.


*Bees Wax-I buy the small pellets so they melt more easily (linked is a white organic pellet bag, though I use yellow...I'm not even sure of the difference)
*Shea Butter
*Coconut Oil
*Chapstick tubes 
*Optional: Essential oils (such as lavender or peppermint-make sure to use quality oils, like those from Plant Therapy)

*I do 1/3 cup of each main ingredient to make 50 tubes*

Okay, so you'll have to make a bit of investment your first time making chapsticks, assuming you don't already have any of these ingredients. BUT, an 8 oz. bag of bees wax pellets has yielded 50-75 chapsticks, and it's only half used, so it should last another 50-75. Same goes for the Shea and Coconut Oils. I'm telling you, they are CHEAP to make.

Safety Tip: I would suggest against using lemon, orange, bergamot, etc. as they are phototoxic...and since these will be on your lips, which just so happen to see the sun, you will be regretting that greatly. You can easily google whether or not an oil is phototoxic to be sure you're in the clear. 

The recipe is the simplest ever. You just need a 1-1-1 ratio of the three main ingredients (again 1/3 of each = 50 tubes). In a small pot (preferably with a pour spout on it), melt the bees wax, coconut oil, and shea butter over medium-low heat. Once it's melty, remove from the heat, add a few drops of oil, and get pouring!

I like to line my chapstick tubes up on the counter with the caps off. I always put a tray underneath for the inevitable spills. Pour the mixture into each tube slowly. Allow to cool, place the caps on top, and voila! Chapsticks for the next year, Christmas presents, your children who make yours all gross, or the ten places in your house where you often discover you need chapstick but can't find them. Done and done.

I make a batch of chapsticks once a year. It takes all of 10 minutes, and saves me a bunch of money. Plus, they feel way better than even the best chapsticks that I used to buy at the store. Do yourself a favor and make your own chapsticks.

(Some of the links in this post are my referral/affiliate links.  Read my disclosure policy HERE.  Thank you for supporting the continuation of this blog by using my links!)


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