How to Survive the Start of the New School Year – Home School Edition

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It’s no secret that we are homeschooling our children, it’s also no secret that we just found out that I’m expecting our fourth child! Needless to say, both of these are exhausting on top of the every day “mom tasks”. We just started our school year, Boogie is starting Kindergarten and Bubby is starting Pre-Kindergarten.

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Starting a new school year is intimidating and exciting all at the same time. You have a huge weight on your shoulders to offer an education to your children and the sense of excitement from you and your children about the upcoming school year brings so much joy! So here are 5 tips on how I survive the beginning of the new school year!

  1. Prepare ahead of time. I like to put together about 2-3 weeks of lessons to get us started, then I can see what works for us and what doesn’t. It also allows us time to be flexible and I can move things around until we find the right fit.
  2. Don’t rush into it, you may not like the curriculum or topics you originally chose. So take your time going over the materials with your children and have fun with it!
  3. Don’t limit yourself to schooling inside! Go to the library, the park, the zoo, the museum, or even your own backyard! One of the best things about homeschooling is the immense flexibility you have to school wherever you wish!
  4. Find a support system. Whether this be your family, friends, or even a home school group. While we haven’t joined a local co-op in our new city yet, I have connected with a group of local home school families on Facebook. Having that place to vent, swap ideas, and plan meet ups is so very helpful.
  5. Start every day with a good protein filled breakfast. I discovered Special K protein shakes and bars, pair these with a good fruit and you are set to start your day. Special K helps fortify you for what’s ahead!

 

I knew I needed to find something to fill my queasy tummy in the mornings and that would also sustain me through our morning chores and then our 2 hour school day. (This is a huge plus in my book for homeschooling!) Even though I’m 16 weeks pregnant, I am still suffering through “morning” sickness, it’s a plague that will not relinquish it’s hold! If I can get a good protein into my system I’m usually good to go, but most end up making me feel more sick.

I was excited for the opportunity to try some of the protein bars and shakes that Kellogg’s® Special K® offer, so I headed over to our local Kroger grocery store to hunt some down. You can find Special K products all over the store, if you head to the breakfast cereal aisle you can find granola bars, brownies and cereals. You can head to the breakfast freezer section to find crustless quiche and healthy breakfast sandwiches. However, I headed to the pharmacy department, you can find the protein shakes and protein bars in the aisle with protein powders, shakes and other miscellaneous items meant for enhancing your health. Special K products were easy to spot with their bright colors and brand labels.

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There are many flavors to choose from, I’m a chocolate girl so I chose a box of Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Meal Bars and a case of Rich Chocolate Protein Shakes. I would have loved to try the Chocolate Mocha flavor (because what’s better than chocolate AND coffee flavors?) but they were out of that particular flavor.

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The protein bars are delicious, it’s really like a candy bar! The inside is a crispy rice bar with peanut butter and then it’s coated in a smooth chocolate. I was so worried about feeling sick after eating one, because normally sweets are not good for my tummy in the mornings. However, after eating this I felt satisfied and ready to start the day. I still felt slightly queasy (but let’s get real, it never really goes away!) but I was able to function. I cleaned my entire kitchen this morning without getting sick!

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The shake was good as well, I like to mix mine with ice to make a more smoothie consistency. The shake is a little thick straight out of the bottle for me, but the taste is really good.

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Don’t forget to enter the sweepstakes below for a chance to win a Kroger gift card and head over to Special K Fortify to learn more about their amazing products!

#NourishWhatsNext Special K at Kroger

A Little Bit of Crazy

I thought we might be past due for a classic family update, I haven’t been doing many of those lately and while I have said over and over again that I was going to get back to writing about our family I just haven’t! There are many reasons for that but most importantly I’ve been spending more time with my kids and less time blogging. Anyways, I have big plans for this little blog of mine this year. You’ll learn more throughout the next few months, including seeing many reviews for some awesome products, and a big giveaway to celebrate my 8 year blogiversary in April!

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Anyways, things in the Mustard Seed house have been crazy and LOUD and adventurous to say the least. J has been working a lot (including staying over at work for a few days this past weekend and a few weeks ago due to poor weather) and he started his second semester of school a few weeks ago. He’s doing great, he’s tired, but I’m so proud of all the hard work he’s putting into this job and education. We are working on some projects together as well, we have really gotten into wood working since building our king sized bed last spring. We made some monogrammed ornaments for our family for Christmas, some picture holder signs for our mom’s, a coffee table, and we are currently working on loft beds for our kids! It’s so fun and a great way for us to bond when we otherwise don’t have the time or energy to do much of anything, including going out.

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Boogie has been working on some kindergarten curriculum this semester, she finished her Big Preschool Workbook last semester so we moved on to other things. We are halfway through Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons and she LOVES it. She’s already able to read a lot of her favorite books, with some help with the bigger words, seeing her face light up when she realized that she could read was AMAZING. Homeschool for the win! We are also using Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics that I purchased from a friend a while back, it’s no longer in print, so I’m hoping to find more similar to this as Boogie really enjoys this particular book. She flies through her school work and is hungry to learn more and more. I will have to find some easy ways to teach her all the fun things she wants to learn – she’s super interested in the human body, animals, and baking/cooking…. so I’m planning to include those in our studies these next few months.

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Bubby is growing up so fast, I was astounded to discover that he is now in a size 4T pants when we were trying on clothes for this coming year last week. His 3T pants weren’t too short yet, but I guess I’ve been in denial because the 4T fit him perfectly! We are trying out different ways to handle Bubby’s behaviors, I haven’t really posted about this much, but our sweet boy is quite a handful. Our hope is that we can help him learn to handle his emotions a little better, that’s all I really want to say about that for the moment. Bubby loves being a “big boy”, he’s officially potty trained, though he does need to wear a pull up at night as he doesn’t wake up to go potty. But he’s done a great job being independent about changing back into undies the next morning. He is super into everything super heroes, so that includes being wild and crazy all the time as well! I’ve tried some preschool/tot school stuff with him, but I’m going to have to be more creative with how I go about teaching him. That child can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes unless he’s got something to munch on or his favorite movie is on! He wants to be like his big sister and sit for school, but he just can’t handle it. Any suggestions would be great! 😀

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Bird has been the perfect addition to our family, she is a breath of fresh air. She’s definitely a toddler now (I will not cry…. I will not cry…) and is showing her desire for independence but is also very much a clingy, mommy milk loving baby still. She loves to run around with her siblings and “try” to play with them, she is not afraid to let them know she wants to play or when she doesn’t like something they are doing. She loves playing with her babies, Bubby’s super hero action figures and anything that rolls. She loves being outside and still sticks EVERYTHING in her mouth. So that’s super fun. We are still bedsharing with this sweet girl, but she’s learning to sleep in her own bed as well. As of right now she sleeps the first few hours of bedtime in her own bed and then wakes up around 1-2am and sleeps the rest of the night with us. It works for us, so we don’t mind! And let me tell you, that baby likes to sleep. If she could sleep in in the morning, she’d probably sleep until 10!

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As for me, I’m planning some fun things for Mustard Seed Mommy and I have some dreams I would like to pursue in the next year… if I can save up the money to do so I would love to sell Lularoe. If you haven’t heard about Lularoe you’re missing out. Two words…. butter pants. Check it out, you won’t regret it!

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Anyways, that’s it for now. Life is crazy and hectic for us, we are always busy and I can’t believe how big my babies are. Having a 5, 3 and 1 year old all at once is an adventurous journey. I wouldn’t want it any other way! God bless!

StartWrite 6.0 Handwriting Worksheet Software Review + Giveaway

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I have found it very frustrating to find worksheets for Boogie, especially when it comes to handwriting. I wanted to be able to create writing paper specifically for her needs and where she is academically. Yes, Boogie is only 4, but we have recently started working on reading and writing with the book “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. It comes highly recommended by other home school moms, so I was excited to give it a go. Boogie needs extra practice with her handwriting so I wanted to be able to create a worksheet where she could trace the appropriate letters and then write them on her own. But I couldn’t find anything online that suited our needs and I didn’t want a basic writing tablet from the store.

So, when I came across this program I knew I had to give it a try. It took me a little while to get the hang of it (probably more so because every 2 minutes I had to get up and tend to Bird, lol!) but once I did… SUCCESS! This program was EXACTLY what we needed. And even better… I can make so many things with this Startwrite program. For now I’m just using for basic and plain letter tracing worksheets until Boogie gets the hang of forming her letters. Later I can use it to make bright and colorful worksheets like you see in the image above. I’m so excited to try more things out!

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The above picture is an example of some of the fun worksheets you can create on this program. I haven’t tried out making a worksheet with the grid background yet, but I’m sure that will come in handy!

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This is what the program looks like when you first open it. I have it maximized to fit the entire screen of my computer. At first I couldn’t figure out how to make the grid lines bigger, so I felt a little silly when I realized that all I had to do was increase the font size. Duh. So, once I finally figured out that little tidbit of information I go to work!

Below you can see a powerpoint presentation of screenshots I took while experimenting with the program! Once of the screenshots shows a worksheet I made for the first lesson of “Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons”. We are working on the “mmm” and “sss” sounds as well as writing “m” and “s”.

 

StartWrite 6 Review & Giveaway

You can check out tutorials for how to use the program HERE and even download a FREE trial HERE! You can purchase this program for $39.95, which is a great price considering how much you can really do with it! This is GREAT for teachers and home school parents alike, AND you could win the program from FREE right here on Mustard Seed Mommy! Just fill out the entries in the widget below for your chance to win! The first entry asks for your contact email, this is REQUIRED so that I can immediately send the winner’s email to the sponsor. This saves you AND me time! Win/win! Good luck! This giveaway ends February 17th at 10am!

FarFaria App Review & Giveaway

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With more than 800 children’s stories to choose from, FarFaria is the perfect app for a story time experience with your children! Five new books are added weekly and you can receive unlimited access to ALL of the stories for $4.99/month!

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With reading levels ranging from pre-readers to 4th grade, this app is perfectly suited for ages 2-9 (and would be especially great for a child with special needs of any range!).

Features

  • Unlimited reading from our library of more than 800 stories.
  • Five new, engaging stories added every week.
  • Interactive experience is fun for kids and easy for parents
  • Every story can be read aloud with a Read-to-Me feature.
  • Reading-level badge on every story cover.
  • Offline access to read Favorite stories
  • Search for books by genre, title or keyword
  • Find books you already enjoy with Recently Read
  • Book Club – connect with friends and family to get a list of reading recommendations from people you know
  • No advertising. No hidden fees.

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My children have really enjoyed utilizing this app during our tot/preschool time at home. Boogie of course is much more interested as she is my little bookworm, but Bubby warms up to it once he sees how much his big sister enjoys it! There are books for pretty much everything you can think of, my son particularly enjoys this plane book in the top left corner for pre-readers/preschoolers:

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My daughter’s favorite way to choose books is to utilize the storybook map (you can access this by clicking the icon at the bottom of the screen that says “Explore”).

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You can try FarFaria for free, just download the app and you will have access to one story every day for free, with no obligation to pay. As I mentioned before, you can receive unlimited access for just $4.99/month. You can download the Apple app HERE, or the Google Play app HERE. (It’s also very easy to do a search for Farfaria on your apple or android phone or tablet!)

Feel free to learn more about the app at Farfaria’s website and Facebook page!

Now you can also have a chance to win a free 3-month membership to FarFaria! Just fill out the giveaway widget below, it’s super easy to enter! Please remember that the winner’s entries will be verified, if you dishonestly entered you will be removed from the list of entries.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

September Has Come Again!

My favorite time of year is Autumn… and when September comes around it’s time to start preparing for cooler weather, falling leaves, and fall decor! Woohoo! I love it! We started off September by taking Boogie  for a stroll around one of our favorite lakes, she loves to watch the ducks (and usually they have two swans… however they were missing in action this trip), running on the bridge, and throwing rocks into the water. She’s getting so big and so independent, she is becoming a little girl before my eyes… my baby is a distant memory!

We had a hard time getting her to look at us for pictures… she just wanted to quack at the ducks!
Sometimes she still gives kisses… but they are few and far between these days! She’s “too big” to give mommy and daddy kisses!
She was about to be naughty and go down the steps (to the left) by herself.

Throwing pebbles and rocks into the lake with daddy.
Looking for some more skipping rocks.
You can’t tell… but it’s getting harder to hold her on my hip. My belly is starting to get in the way!
My beautiful big girl… she gets prettier every day.

Boogie is such a joy, she drives me absolutely bonkers some days, but she truly is a precious blessing. Those big brown eyes melt me, and I imagine that when Bubby finally gets here he will have deep blue eyes like Boogie did and slowly they will be these same beautiful big brown eyes! It will be interesting to see how our family dynamics change with a little boy added to the mix. I can’t wait to meet our little man!

In other news, school is becoming more overwhelming every day. I think I’m going to have to redo my schedule so that I can lessen the workload I’ve dealt myself. I’ve been playing catch up for over a week now and it’s just not working. I can’t possibly take care of Boogie, myself, our home, and accomplish the workload I’ve planned for myself. I had high hopes of being done with everything aside from my finals by the first week of October… but I may have to settle for the last week of October instead. That’s still a large workload, but not nearly as much as I planned before. That is also less time to get a few things done I’d like to get done before Bubby is here. Ay yi yi!

Also, don’t forget to head over and enter my giveaway for three BOGO free coupons for UNREAL candy! They seriously are SO good!