{31 Days} of Overcoming Overwhelm Introduction

Welcome to my main post for my Write 31 Days challenge this year!  I have to admit that I had a heck of a time coming up with a topic this year.  I had so many different ideas running through my mind, but it seemed like every time I found a topic that I liked, I couldn’t find the time to flesh out what I wanted to say on that topic.  In one word, I was overwhelmed.  In fact, I am still overwhelmed.

If you don’t know what the Write 31 Days challenge is all about, I recommend heading over to the website for more information.  If you decide to join in, let me know!  I would love to follow along with you.

This will actually be my fifth year participating!  My previous 31 Days projects are:

After realizing how overwhelmed I felt, how out of sync I felt, and how I seemed to be letting life happen to me rather than taking control, I knew what my topic would be.

31 Days of Overcoming Overwhelm

This will not necessarily be prescriptive.  While I would love to say that I wrote out all of my posts ahead of time – I most definitely did not.  In fact, while I am writing this intro post, I am absolutely at the end of my rope as far as overwhelm seems to go.  No, instead, I will be writing about my changes and thoughts as they happen.  This is a real time experiment guys, and I hope you will follow along.

I know that I am not the only woman out there that feels overwhelmed.  In fact, I bet there are a large portion of my readers that feel overwhelmed in some way or another.  My goal is to try and encourage you (and myself!) to move forward, and to make some necessary changes in order to thrive.

That could mean adding in more margin, it could mean saying yes to the *right* things (for us), it could mean more self-care, or some time unplugged.  It could mean new rhythms, routines, and schedules.  For me, it probably looks like all of the above.

Over the next month, I plan to take you through the changes that I need to make now, and hopefully you will find some encouragement to fight your own overwhelm, whatever it may be from.  My goal is to be able to settle into a much neater, nicer way of living day-to-day, so that I can be a positive role model in my children’s lives, and to encourage them to be positive influences on those around them.

I will update this post as I go throughout the month, so that at the end all of my posts will be linked here for an easy way to find them.  Make sure you subscribe and pin this post so that you can follow along as well.

Hunger Is - Make Breakfast Happen

Living in America it is easy to overlook the challenges that many Americans face.  I know that I often will go through the day so consumed with my own children that I forget what is going on in my own little city.  Hunger is one of those issues that you don't necessarily think about.

Make Breakfast Happen

What is interesting is that we live in a lower income area, and a large majority of the children in our local elementary schools qualify for free or reduced price breakfast and lunch.  The thought that there are kids in my own community struggling to get a healthy start to their day is heart wrenching.

Did you know that one in five children in America live in a home without consistent access to adequate food?

Make Breakfast Happen

Isn’t that a staggering statistic?  I often think about food insecurity, or hunger, as a third world problem.  But, it is everywhere, including America.

10 million children; nearly half of eligible children do not receive free or reduced price breakfast.  3 out of 5 K-8 public school teachers report regularly seeing students coming to school hungry.

Make Breakfast Happen

That is unheard of to me.  Why aren’t we doing more to make sure that these children are well fed?  How can we expect them to learn in school if they are hungry?  I know that when I am hungry, I can’t concentrate on anything but my stomach, and I am sure that these children are the same way.

So what can we do?

Hunger Is – in partnership with Shaw’s Supermarkets – is focusing on expanding breakfast programs, providing children with a healthy start to their day.

I was excited to also partner with Shaw’s for this program.

Make Breakfast Happen

When you go to Shaw’s for your regular grocery shopping, you just need to look for the Hunger Is signs spread throughout the stores identifying items that give back to this program.

Most of these items I am sure you are already purchasing!  I was so excited to see some of our favorites make the list – Goldfish crackers anyone?  It seems to be the one food that my youngest consists on currently…but that is another story.

Make Breakfast Happen

There are two ways that you can participate:

Purchase participating items.  You can find these items by looking for the Hunger Is tag throughout the store.  A purchase of these items will trigger at least a $.10 donation up to $1 million!  I think that if you are purchasing the items anyways, the fact that they are giving back is awesome.

The other way that you can help out is to donate right at the register.  Shoppers can add $1, $3, $5, or another amount right to their grocery bill to give back.

When you go out grocery shopping this weekend, make sure to go to Shaw’s to support this amazing cause.

Do you see food insecurity in your neighborhood?

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Albertsons Companies & Hunger Is. The opinions and text are all mine.

POPSUGAR Must Have September Unboxing!

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking on one of these links I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

I received my POPSUGAR Must Have box early this month!  That means that I was able to get my act together and get an unboxing video done.  But, I also wanted to share about it on my blog.

Over the past year I have been trying to be better about self-care, and part of that is to really get into a better skin care routine.  I thought I could combine the two by getting a couple subscription boxes.  POPSUGAR is definitely one of my favorites.

If you haven’t heard of this subscription box, it is a monthly subscription box that is truly a lifestyle box, containing items for beauty, home, treats, and fashion. 

unboxing video

Last month I absolutely loved the box, but it came so late in the month I didn’t get an unboxing done.  So when my September box came last week, I was super excited to dig right into it!

These vegan, gluten-free bites are made without GMOs or dairy, so you can indulge your chocolate craving without feeling guilty.  Stick them in your purse for sweet, high-protein treats on the go!

unboxing video

Nothing says super chic quite like a wide-brimmed hat and oversize sunglasses.  Pair this headwear with your favorite Fall outfit for an effortlessly chic look that screams “model off duty.”

This sleek platinum lint roller will never let you down, conveniently sized for fitting in your purse and refillable so that you never have to risk unsightly mess.  Flint can keep up with your day and look as good as you do!

unboxing video

Your hair puts up with a lot – treat it to a spa day with this restorative mask, which will reduce breakage and restore natural vibrancy on even the most over-processed locks!  It works in minutes, and your newly hydrated and lustrous hair will appreciate the refresh.

With this handy tool kit, you’re equipped with everything you need for a chic manicure all in a portable, purse-ready pack – so when you’re transitioning into the hustle and bustle of Fall, one thing you’ll never need to worry about is your nails!

Pair your new hat with a bold red lip – the gold microshimmer in this lippie adds a cheeky touch to an otherwise elegant beauty bag staple.  The ingredients in this paraben- and gluten-free formula help extend the wear, whether it’s worn over a lipstick or by itself.

unboxing video

I was a little underwhelmed this month – especially after LOVING last month’s box but, it was still a nice surprise.  I’m not sure if I am going to be able to handle the hat, or if I will be brave enough to try that red lippie.  We did all share those gluten free bites as an afternoon snack, and my kids loved them (I did as well!).

Do you subscribe to POPSUGAR Must Have?  Do you have another subscription box that you really love?

Everything you Need to know about Pregnancy

I remember when I found out I was pregnant with my oldest daughter.  I was definitely excited, and probably a lot more nervous than I would admit at the time.  I knew that an exciting journey was ahead of me.  And knowing how much control like to have over my life, I went out to find books about being pregnant and what I could expect during that journey and beyond.  The first book that I bought was What to Expect When You’re ExpectingIt was, and still is, America’s Pregnancy Bible.

While pregnant with my first child, I wanted to go the natural route.  I wanted hypnobirthing classes, no intervention, definitely no c-section.

I remember going to my hypnobirthing classes and being surprised that they didn’t want you to talk about anything besides hypnobirthing techniques.  It seemed that some of my classmates thought that if you talked about the possibility of having a c-section, it was inevitable.

I like information though, and I wanted to know as much as possible about any and all that could happen during pregnancy and childbirth. 

Come to find out, it was a good thing that I had done my research.  After 46 hours of labor, I did have to have a caesarean section.  Due to a car accident when I was in high school, all of the bones that are supposed to open in order to birth a child had been fused together when they were broken so many years before.  Not something I knew going into the labor – I would have suggested the c-section had I known!

Every pregnancy and birth is different, even from child to child, and having the ability to make your own decisions, without judgement from others, is important.  I think that hearing the stories of others, as well as getting as much information from your Dr. and resources like What to Expect When You’re Expecting is a great way to make a decision on what is right for you and your baby.

I was excited to see that they have come out with a 5th Edition of this wonderful reference book.  It is chalk full of great information.  Every bit of anything you could want to know from pre-pregnancy all the way through the delivery and beyond.

In this brand new edition, there is up to the minute information and advice.  All the medical coverage has been completely updated, and it even addresses your concerns about the Zika Virus.

I love that it brings Dad right into the conversation as well.

There is a lot of great information on gentle c-sections, which is what I tried to work out my second and third pregnancies.  Times have definitely changed between my first delivery, and my last.  I was able to have Lucy and Matt stay right with me during the entire surgery, and Lucy laid on my chest after she was born for most of the remainder of the time I was in the OR.  It was definitely a calming influence on my nerves.

There are updated sections on postpartum depression and anxiety.  I think this is a topic that does not get addressed nearly enough, but it seems to be coming to the forefront now, which is incredibly important.  Knowing that there is help available, and knowing when it is OK to ask for help is significant and necessary.

Entirely new chapters and sections on cord blood banking, coping with miscarriage, birth control choices and decisions postpartum as well as medications during pregnancy are all included.

It is such a wonderful resource to have, and gives you a feeling of peace when you wake up in the middle of the night with one more question (am I the only one?!). 

Did you utilize this amazing resource during your pregnancy?  Are you currently pregnant and looking for information?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

The Busyness that is Fall

The busyness of fall has set in.  Every year I say that this will be the year that we slow down in the fall, and then inevitably we fill up our schedule, and fall busyness happens again.

As an introvert I definitely struggle with busyness – the constant out and about and being surrounded by people exhausts me.  I crave that alone time, which is hard to come by as a mom of three little ones I am with all day every day.  However, I have come to recognize that Emma is most definitely an extrovert and gets her energy from being around other people.  The jury is still out on Jack and Lucy (although I am leaning towards introvert for Jack).

After I got over the shock of having an extroverted daughter, I realized that I was going to have to adjust my expectations of what would work for us for homeschool.

Part of the reason that I am homeschooling is so that I can tailor the education of each of my children to what works best for them. 

While I know that what we are working on together for the actual “school” portion of our day works, I knew that she needed more activities.  This was kind of difficult to swallow because I would rather spend time at home curled up with a book.

This year we thought that Emma would do piano lessons and then one activity (sport/dance/theater etc.) and then we would also have the homeschool co-op once a week.  However, the co-op decided to not continue this year, and that meant that we had a little less social time for my very outgoing daughter.

We ended up with piano, theater, and now also field hockey.  She thoroughly enjoys each of these activities, and while busy, it still allows us time to get all the other work we need to, done. 

It has been a bit challenging to fit everything in, especially with Lucy teething recently, so we are still working on a rhythm that will work well for the kids, and for me.  It is a learning process every year, trying to make sure that our schedule works, and that the kids have a good expectation of what is coming next.

So here is to the next few months of complete chaos, which should bring us right up to December, where we enjoy taking a much needed break from the day to day and move onto more fun holiday activities.

How busy does your day get when the kids go back to school?  Do you have strategies you use to keep your sanity?  Any other introverts out there?!

Tips for Using Tech to Manage Your Home

There are affiliate links in this post.  If you make a purchase through one of these links, I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

This is a sponsored post on behalf of U.S. Cellular.  All opinions, as always, are my own!

Start the technology conversation with your kids by downloading this FREE Parent-Child Agreement.

It is amazing how awesome technology is right now!  It seems like you are able to utilize the best of technology in order to easily manage and maintain your homes on a daily basis.  Anything that simplifies my life is a lifesaver in my book.  Having reliable service from U.S. Cellular is a must in order for everything to continue to run smoothly.

I know that I rarely leave home without my iPhone – ok, honestly I don’t think I ever leave my phone at home, and if I do, I turn right around to go get it before I keep on my way.  I am definitely not in the minority; *91% of smart phone users rarely or never leave their phones at home – I’m glad it isn’t just me!

I have talked a lot about how I have a specific morning routine, however, on the days when we are leaving the house early in the morning, that morning routine gets completely revamped into complete chaos and rushing around – I’m still working on it.  It is on these harried mornings that I often forget things like shutting off my coffee pot, and remembering whether I even shut the front door, let alone locked it (hey, I am lucky I remember all three kids!).

Luckily, I am able to use my iPhone to manage my home from home – and that is an incredible thing.

Utilizing WeMo in my home makes those everyday tasks super simple.

Products like the Mr. Coffee Smart Optimal Brew Coffeemaker make life so much easier.  I can start my coffee right from my phone before I even get out of bed – that is nothing short of miraculous in my book!  And if you forget to shut off the coffee maker when you leave, you can easily shut it off from your phone.  Genius!

We all know how difficult getting dinner on the table can be, so having the ability to control my Crock-Pot Smart Slow Cooker away from home is a definite bonus.  I think that the crock pot is an amazing invention, and giving it smart capabilities gives it the facelift it needs to make dinner time a snap.

I was really excited to hear that Nest Cam is now available at U.S. Cellular.  Your entire house can be monitored right on your iphone, or any of the other latest devices.  With the night vision feature, you can even keep an eye on things at night.  There is the option of a Nest Secure as well, which will allow you to record up to 30 days of video and keep it safely in the cloud.

The Nest Thermostat gives you the opportunity to monitor your home temperature away from home.  This is perfect for when you are away on vacation.  Recently, my Nana went away for a vacation, and her heat stopped working, which resulted in her pipes freezing, and a subsequent flood.  Being able to monitor the temperature from a phone would have been helpful – and now it is!  I also like the idea of changing the temperature based on when I am away from the house, but being able to turn it up when I am close to getting home so the house can warm up a bit. 

Finally, with U.S. Cellular's Chamberlain MyQ Garage Door Opener, you can turn off the lights or close the garage door while on the go.  Once you shut the garage door, set the alarm using remote monitoring which pairs with your home security system, using a resource such as alarm.com

Overall, there are so many ways to utilize technology in our homes, and it definitely makes my life a lot easier.

Do you use smart technology in your home?  What would you like to add?

*According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey.

A Day at the Fair - 2016

One of my most favorite events every year is going to the fair.  There is something about all of the animals and the delicious food that makes it an amazing experience for me.  I have been going to this same fair since I was little, so I think the nostalgia of it all also plays a role.

When Emma was born we started going annually as a family, after several years off.  It was this year, when Emma was about 4 months old that we started the tradition of taking pictures of the kids next to the giant pumpkins.  I always take Easter and Christmas pictures, but having these pictures in front of the big pumpkins, as we have added children and they have grown, it is nice to see the change!

This year was no different.  We had a wonderful time.  We started a bit later than we typically do because we went to church before we went to the fair.

Our fair trip started with lunch.  Fair food, while not in the least bit healthy, is delicious, and something we all look forward to.  The kids had hot dogs and we shared French fries with malt vinegar – does anyone else eat their fries this way? 

We continued around looking at the different exhibition halls, taking a trip back in time with visiting the fair museum as well as seeing all that the Ancient Ones of Maine had to offer.  I also love to see how the one room schools were set up as well as the homes, especially how the kitchens had open fires with a little oven built into the wall. 

The animals are next.  Emma always wants to take a ride with the horses, and this year was the second year we saw miniature horses at the fair giving rides to people.  I never realized how much weight they could actually haul!

I love to see how the kids interact with the animals, showing so much love to them all.  I think that they definitely inherited that from me, considering Matt does 
not want to have the responsibility of farm life - at all.  I think I might be wearing him down a bit though!

It was a wonderful day filled with delicious food, lots of animals, and family, the perfect way to end the summer. 

Do you attend any agricultural fairs in your area?  What is your favorite part?

Back to Knitting and Reading

Knitting is an amazing hobby that I found my way back to right before I had Emma, and since that time I have been knitting pretty regularly.  Well, until this past year!

One of my goals for the year was to create two pieces each month, one was supposed to be a knit item, and the other could be anything from coloring in a coloring book to writing (which I do a lot of, this is a blog after all).  I started out OK and finished a couple of items, and then goodness life took over and I never found the time to knit.  I think this is the longest stretch I have gone without knitting. 

Emma came to me the other day and wanted to knit a scarf for her cousin out of some yarn she found in my yarn stash, so we sat down to start working on that, and I realized that I missed knitting.  If it is something I miss doing then I need to make the time to do it. 

We all have the same 168 hours in our week, it is how we decide to use those hours that sets us apart.

One thing that I have realized is that I need something that is going to keep my interest, but not too difficult that when I get interrupted I am unable to keep at it.  I’m not entirely sure what I want to knit right now, but Christmas is coming, and if I hope to have anything made by December, I know I need to start now – actually I should have started in July, but we won’t think about that now!  I know that I need to also pick up some new yarn, so I think that a trip to the yarn store is in my future.  But, in the meantime, I will use what I have, and I think I might try another cowl, I could use one for the fall.

Reading, well, reading has picked up quite a bit since the beginning of the year, which is always good for me – especially with my goal of reading 100 books this year.  Right now I am two books behind schedule according to Goodreads so I need to step it up a bit.

I just downloaded a bunch of books on my kindle yesterday, one of which is As a Man Thinketh which my husband mentioned he had heard on a podcast with Tim Ferris and Shay Carl, and then yesterday when I was looking through the Best Kindle Freebies post on SimpleHomeschool, that book was listed.  I figured that meant that I should read it.  I haven’t started it yet, but am excited to start it today.

The other book that I am slowly making my way through is LeadershipEducation.  It is a book that I have heard mentioned from so many people over the past few years, but have never taken the time to read it.  I am really interested in the phases of learning, and how to create an environment that my kids are easily able to find their passions.  It is really interesting, and if you are interested in learning more about the phases of learning and how to grow great leaders, I would definitely recommend it.

Have you moved away from a hobby that you love because you can’t find the time?

Homeschool Curriculum Choices for 1st and 3rd Grade

This post contains affiliate links.  If you make a purchase after clicking one of these links, I will receive a small commission.  Thank you for supporting Townsend House!

Homeschool curriculum choices are an incredibly personal decision.  Each child learns differently and therefore a lot of the curriculum and learning resources we use may not work for everyone.  However, I have always loved to read what others use throughout the year, and it has given me significant insight into my own schooling choices for the kids.

This year Emma is eight and Jack is six.  If they were in public school they would be in 3rd and 1st grade, however, I don’t depend as much on what their public school grade would be – I want to work at their pace, whether it is faster or slower or right in the middle.  That is the beauty of homeschooling, individualized paths for each child.

A couple unique pieces to keep in mind: We school all year, so when I need new curriculum in March, I purchase it.  If we finish a math book early, I go to the next level.  This means that when I talk about our homeschool curriculum for this year, we won’t necessarily be starting at the beginning of book 1, because we started in March, or July, or we will soon start in October.  This is a glimpse into what works for us currently – always subject to change!

I will start with Jack, because we are doing significantly less with Jack than with Emma this year.

Math – Jack is using Singapore Math 1A & 1B this year.  He is currently about two-thirds of the way through book 1A.  Math is his favorite, and I let him work on as much as he wants.  He is typically doing 1-2 lessons each day, depending on how long they are.  I expect him to finish 1B before the end of the “regular school year” and then we will move onto 2A & 2B.

Reading – I have so many readers on our bookshelves from the six cores we have purchased from Sonlight and I typically just pick a book for him to read.  Recently he has been reading the Frog and Toad books, which he thinks is a riot.  We are working on Level 2 and 3 books for the most part, in addition to whichever books he chooses from the library.

Writing – For writing, we are working on Handwriting Without Tears 1.  We usually do one to two pages of this each day.  I actually have two of this same workbook, I don’t know how that happened, and we are almost through with one of them.  So I think that I might start over again at the beginning of the second book to make sure that his writing improves before we move onto the next book in this curriculum.

Jack loves to write stories, and we are letting him write as much as his little heart desires.  I did purchase the book My Very First Story Writing Book from Usborne to use at some point, but we haven’t started it yet.

The goal right now with Jack is to get him comfortable with math, reading, and writing, and then add in the other subjects we do altogether with him as much as possible, while still giving him a lot of freedom to do the things that he cares about most – which currently are creating stop motion videos, making mine craft let’s play videos, and drawing elaborate video game maps on rolls of paper.  Add in as much Scratch as we will let him do, and he is a happy camper.

Some of the other resources we are using with Jack this year – but not with any particular curriculum – are:

The curriculum choices for Emma are significantly longer, so let’s get started!

Math – For math, Emma will be using Singapore Math 3A & 3B.  Like Jack, she is about halfway through the first book.  We will continue going through until she has completed both workbooks, and then we will move on to 4A& 4B around March I think, perhaps a bit sooner if we start moving quickly through it. 

Reading – We are currently using readers from Sonlight Core D, and I expect that to continue.  Emma also picks out her own books from the library to read, and has been enjoying pretty much anything by Andrew Clements as of late, especially re-reading The School Story, a book about a 12 year old girl who wants to have a book published, which leads us to…

Writing – Emma wants to publish a book, which I think is amazing.  We are encouraging her to do as much writing as she wants to creatively on her own, and then we work through editing together.  We also have the UsborneWrite Your Own Story Book for Emma to work through.  It works on character development, writing descriptive scenes, etc.  We are just starting it, but I think she is enjoying it so far.  For copywork we are using Bible verses that we are learning together as a family.

HandwritingHandwriting Without Tears – Cursive.  Emma is also about two-thirds through this book, and is LOVING cursive.  Once she is finished with this book, we will continue to do copywork in cursive, and then move on to whichever handwriting book comes next in the series.  She has very neat penmanship, and for that I am thankful!

Spelling – This is the first year we have worked on a spelling curriculum, and we are using Sequential Spelling Book 1.  It is not based on ability as to where you start, rather they recommend everyone start at book 1 and continue to move through them.  I really like the program, and Emma is thriving with it.  We are about 40 days into this book, it has 180 days of lessons, so this should take us through the end of our regular year this year.

The subjects we are working on together as a family.

Science – We are using Apologia – Exploring Creation with Anatomy & Physiology.  The kids decided which science program they wanted this year from the Apologia line.  This is our first year using this curriculum, and so far we like it.  We started at the beginning of August, so we aren’t that far into the book.  What I really like about the curriculum is that it has a companion notebook.  One that is for 4th grade and up, and one that works for the kinder-3rd grade set.  Jack got the younger notebook, and Emma got the older notebook.  Emma has really enjoyed learning how to “take notes” on what she is listening to – we have the textbook, but also chose to purchase the CD which reads the textbook aloud to the student.  This is a huge timesaver for me when Lucy is not into school for the day.  I probably could have used the younger book for Emma, but I thought it was a little too young for her, and we are able to pick and choose which parts of the notebook she is using.  Since we work on it together as a family, it isn’t difficult for me to help her if she has trouble writing out information.

There are also some amazing lapbook resources that we may incorporate as well, but we aren't there yet.

We also LOVE all things Magic School Bus and incorporate a lot of their products/books/shows into our everyday learning as well.

Fine Arts – We love music in our home, and have it on daily.  I like the kids to listen to a wide variety of music, because I like to listen to a wide variety of music.  However, I thought it would be good to get some sort of music appreciation course into our year, and also a study on composers.  I chose two items to help with this The Story of the Orchestra, and The Classical Kids Collection.  We have yet to start either of these, but I am excited to start them this month!  For art the kids both have their Fun-schooling notebooks as well as the book Do You Doodle? which allows them little prompts and then they can draw away.  Emma is also in piano lessons and theater once a week.

Physical Education – I think it is hard not to get this in a day in our home, the kids love to ride bikes and play outside, climbing trees, etc.  But, we also LOVE the CosmicKids Yoga station on YouTube.  Lucy is even involved in it this year.  It helps the kids to slow down and relax, and center themselves for school, and I love that for them!

Read Alouds – I love to read to the kids, and will pretty much read whichever books they would like.  We have been making our way through the Narnia series, and Emma and I have read the first Harry Potter book together this summer.  She and I switch off on reading it out loud, and it has been fun to share this with her.  We just started The Chamber of Secrets and I know that once this book is done we will most likely be waiting to continue the series.  A few of the read alouds we will be doing soon are Justin Morgan Had a Horse, The Lewis and Clark Expedition, and Tolliver’sSecret.

History – Honestly, history deserves its own post, but I am going to try and condense it as much as possible.

We are finishing up an extended Sonlight Core D.  We started Core D in August of last year, a full year before Emma would be on the age range for the book levels.  The reason was because we had started with the other cores from Sonlight so early.  However, this also caused a couple of issues.  First, Core D pairs the Language Arts and Readers with the History curriculum starting in Core D, but I knew she wouldn’t be ready for those books yet.  However, we had fully exhausted Ancient and Medieval History, and we were ready to move onto American History.  So we started Core D, and decided to move slowly through it, and add in other elements.

I plan to wait until after our long winter break to start Core E, and instead we are working through a bit more of U.S. History through state studies and studies of Presidents.  One of the books we are using to help us with this is The United States Cookbook.  It has little facts about each state in addition to a recipe that we are going to cook together.  I am not going to make it through all the states before we start our next core in January or February, but it is going to give us a little extra history in the meantime.

We have puzzles and maps of the United States, as well as little workbooks that I picked up at the dollar spot at Target.  I plan to work through the states in the order they were accepted into the Union.

I am actually incredibly excited about this part of our history for the year.  While I love to do all the reading with the kids (and we still are using the Children’s Encyclopedia ofAmerican History), I know that this will be a lot of fun.

Again, the goal is to foster creativity and love of learning in my children.  Emma loves writing stories, so we are going to concentrate a lot on writing this year.  She has received her first dictionary, which is helping her out a lot in regards to spelling correctly when she is writing.  She loves to listen to me read to her, which is something I am happy to oblige her with.

Do you have a favorite curriculum that you use with your kids?  Or a favorite subject you love to teach or study?

Revamping the Kids' Routines

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CreateWithHP #CollectiveBias

We are completing week five of our homeschool year today!  It seems a little crazy to me that we are already five weeks into the school year, but here we are. 

When we start school, we always like to ease back into our routine.  While we school all year long, there are definitely periods of more subjects and work overall, and fall is when this most definitely happens.

I noticed that we needed a better rhythm for our day as we have all settled into school.  It is something that I am still working on currently, but in order to get into a good rhythm, I need to have the kids’ routines down.

I’m not sure about your kids, but mine LOVE checklists.  There is something about checking off a box that works for them, and it works for me as well.  It is a wonderful visual as to what we are accomplishing during the day, and where we may be lacking (this is a big part of changing up our rhythm!).

While my kids love checklists, they also enjoy following everything in order.  That means that if Math is the first thing on their routine chart, that is what they want to do first, even if they still need to brush their teeth and get dressed for the day.

I noticed that our old routine charts were no longer working, and realized I needed to come up with some new ones for the kids to use now that we are fully immersed in our new school year.

I have been putting off doing this for a while, because we needed a new color printer!  There is something about printing bright and vibrant colors that encourage our kids to complete their work and move on with the day – this is both for any homeschool work that we print off from the internet (there is a lot), and then also putting together our chore charts and school schedule charts.

When I found out that HP had a new all-in-one printer that is affordable and comes in three beautiful and vibrant colors, I knew that I met my new printer!  I was surprised at how affordable it was, but when Emma and I went to Walmart to pick up a few things, we saw a great display with all the colors available!

I let Emma pick the color - and of course she chose purple.

I love that it has an easy mobile option.  It seems like half of the items I want to print I find on Pinterest on my phone, and then to have the ability to print right from my phone to the printer is awesome.  The fact that it also has the ability to print twice as many pages with Original HP high-yield ink definitely was a huge selling point.  There is nothing worse than wanting to print out something and to be out of ink even if you think you just recently replaced it!  Another feature that I love – quiet mode.  For some reason whenever I use a printer, it wakes Lucy up from her naps…and that is never a good thing in my home.

Back to our new routine schedule, the first step to creating our new routine was to list out everything that we need to do in the week.  Now, I know that I could print out a new routine chart each day, but I find that having one each week is more reasonable for us.  I am able to keep them to help with my record keeping at the end of the month, and four or five sheets is much easier to manage than twenty-five.

I like to have two separate routine schedules, one that is mainly home, and one that is school.  For example, our school checklist is really simple, it lists out all of the main subject areas that we cover each day.  I had to add a couple different subjects for Emma that we haven’t done thus far, and also Jack has some new items now that he is in first grade.  And then on our regular home routine checklist – I have a line item called “school” which designates time to move over to the school check list.

It sounds a little complicated, but trust me, it is not!

Without further ado, here is Emma's new routine checklist for this fall.

Adding in the extra subjects to the checklist was important because I like Emma to know exactly what she is accomplishing during the week.  It helps her need for "school at home" as much as her ability to separate from school because she is accomplishing so much, and she deserves a break!

Now, obviously not all of my readers are homeschoolers, so I decided to make a little printable for you all to use for your own school checklist.  I left it blank, because I feel like every family is different.  You can put your morning before-school routine here, or list out morning and afternoon school to-dos.  Or you can use it for homeschool subjects.  Whatever you prefer.  Just click here or on the picture above and it will bring you to a downloadable PDF file for your use!

Do your kids love checklists as much as mine?  What type of routine do you have for your kids?