Thursday, March 14, 2019

Throwback Thursday/ Comparing Kitchen-aid Mixers

This Throwback Thursday brought me back to one of my favorite blog posts that I have ever wrote.

I wrote a post comparing the Classic mixer the the Professional mixer. In this post I was making homemade bread.

If you would be interested in knowing if you need a professional mixer or if the classic mixer will work just fine for you, please read my blog post.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

I am a grandma!!

I really cannot believe it, but I am officially a grandma! I am still raising my own little one, so it is surreal, but he is so precious!!!! 

I was able to be there for the birth, and it really was an amazing, unforgettable experience. 

Image may contain: one or more people, people sleeping, baby and closeup

Image may contain: one or more people, people sleeping and baby

Image may contain: 1 person, sleeping and closeup

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Why you should really consider Instant Ink

Image result for instant ink

Instant Ink is the best thing ever invented! OK, maybe not the best, but it is a huge blessing to me as a homeschool mom. 

If you have never heard of Instant Ink, it is a program HP has. All you need to do is purchase, or already have an HP printer that is Instant Ink compatible, and then you pay a very small monthly fee, depending on how much print, and you never have to buy ink again! 

Instant Ink has 4 plans to choose from:

Image result for instant ink pricing heavy printing

They just added a fourth monthly plan for heavy printing. 700 pages for $19.99. 

I mean, seriously, your only paying $3 to $5 a month for printing and you never have to go to the store and buy ink again. HP keeps track of your printing usage, and will mail you new cartridges out before you run out so you will always have new ink on hand. You don't have to worry about running out in the middle of the night...come on, you know your printing all of your stuff off after the kids go to sleep, and since they are asleep, you can't just run to the store and get new ink! 

Convenience is not the only factor. It is CHEAPER to have Instant Ink than to go buy ink by the cartridge. For example, I have the $4.99 a month plan. That equals out to $60 a year. 

The cartridges they send are the XL ones, not the small ones. The black cartridges are $38 and the tricolor ones are $40 on Amazon. In the last year, I have had 5 cartridges shipped; 2 black and 3 color. I have another tricolor scheduled to ship to me next week. That is a total of $236 in ink. So I saved $176 in ink this year so far!

I love Instant Ink. I never have to leave my house to get ink, I save a ton of money, and I don't have to worry about printing in color. That is one of the biggest pros. You can print all 100 prints in color if you want. They can all be 8x10 color photos even. It doesn't matter. They don't count by color or black and white. They only count the print. When your done, you just send the ink back in the prepaid recycling mailer they send you. It's all easy and it's all free. 

If you sign up using my link, you and I both will get one free month of printing! ( You can choose a heavier printing level for your free month and then downgrade if you want)

That's another thing I love. I can change my plans anytime I want to. If I need to print extra, I can just move up to the next level. If I no longer need a big printing plan, I can downgrade. If I just need to go over by a few prints, it is very cheap. I believe it is $1 per an extra 25 prints. 

I have been using Instant Ink for over 2 year now. If you are a homeschool mom like me, who prints a lot, you should really consider this! You don't have an HP printer?? Well, think about this...It is usually cheaper to just buy a new printer than it is to buy new ink! You know this is true, so why not just buy a new HP Instant Ink compatible printer and start saving!!!

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Homeschool Complete - Kindergarten/ TOS Review



Isn't he just adorable???

This year on the Crew has been amazing, and such a blessing. Our family has been blessed with the perfect curriculum for Brently so far and Kindergarten Complete is no exception. 

I don't know about you, but I had never heard of Homeschool Complete before, so when this vendor came up for review, I started researching it to see how interested I was in reviewing this product. The more I read about it, the more I knew that this would be perfect for us! I practically begged for this program. 😊

Let me tell you a little bit about what Kindergarten Complete is, and why I love it so much. 

Homeschool Complete is an all-inclusive homeschool curriculum published by A+ Publishing LLC. It covers all subject areas and is created around thematic units. It is currently available in grades K-4. 

Here is a brief introduction by the author Debra Arbuthnot:

What really drew me into this curriculum was the way she teaches the concepts. We are using the Kindergarten level. As I was looking over the sample lessons, I noticed the material lists included items such as cheerios, M&M's, Skittles, construction paper and books!  

As I looked over the lessons, I just loved what I was seeing. Everything is written out so clearly, it is easy to understand and the parents guide and the child's lessons are all in one book. It is laid out in the exact order that you need it to be. You have the parents guide followed by the child's worksheets for that lesson. . You do not have to go back and forth between several books. This makes it so simple. The worksheets also include some color to the pages. . I absolutely prefer color worksheets over black and white. So for me, this is a big deal. Here is an example of one lesson. 

Here is Brently working on that particular lesson. He is a ham! 😁

This curriculum doesn't seem like all of the other curriculum out there. To me, it promotes bonding. My favorite part about homeschooling is being able to cuddle up on the couch with your child and learn something together. Homeschool doesn't have to resemble a classroom, and this curriculum, while teaching all of the things a child would learn in a classroom, teaches them in a way that you and your child/children are snuggling up and reading, playing games and having fun!

The skills covered in Kindergarten Complete are:

Language Arts
Social Studies
Physical Development
Fine Arts
Character Development

A typical day with Homeschool Complete will vary by household depending on which parts you choose to include in your homeschool, and also on what grade level you are doing. 

The suggested time allotment for Kindergarten Complete is two and a half to three hours a day. 

It is suggested to begin the day with pledges and prayers. The appendix offers three pledges:

The pledge to the American Flag
The pledge to the Christian Flag
The pledge to the Bible

Some days include a suggested song or poem as well. 

Part of your daily routine is to have calendar time. We purchased this calendar to make it easy to learn the days of the week, months of the year and to keep track of the weather and holidays. Brently likes opening the door in the mornings to see what the weather is like. It's been freezing lately, so he hasn't made it past the door!

The next suggested topic would be Math. This is our favorite part! A day of math could include building block towers that correspond with matching number cards, gluing the correct amount of apples onto numbered trees, counting by poking golf tees into the bottom of an egg carton, counting money, playing the match game by matching the number words to the numbers, counting the correct number of goldfish and then eating them, separating M&M's by color and making patterns out of them...The list goes on and on....And are always fun! There are usually corresponding worksheets for the child to do as well. Don't worry this "paperwork" is fun too!

Next up is Language Arts. The lesson plan will give you some discussion ideas to ask your child while you are reading a book together.You will have some kind of activity related to a letter. You may be learning the beginning letters for Mommy and Daddy and drawing pictures and creating a family album. You may send your child on a hunt to find things around the house that also start with the same letter or sound. You may be reading books about fall and leaves and then making leaf-rubbing patterns, or painting leaves with watercolors. You may be reading about the nutrients we need to stay alive and healthy and then taking that concept into your science lesson for the day and growing a carrot top! 

I got Brently his own library book basket for him to keep the books that go with his lessons in. You do not need to own or purchase all of the books for this program. I just look on the list for the next few units to find out what books are used, and then I just go online and put them on hold at the library. If your library doesn't have a particular book, there is also a list of other suggested books that you can pick from as well. I have been able to find almost all of them at our libraries. 

These are his family portraits. On his he also included a baby and me, icy.. I am still not sure what he meant by that. I am thinking maybe because he drew me blue! Who knows!  🤣

The language arts activities have a social studies or science theme and incorporate reading, handwriting, and English skills. Your child will learn the letter sounds, sight words, fluency, comprehension, vocabulary, etc. There are practice worksheets included to reinforce the concepts they are learning. 

Special areas include such things as art, music and physical education. These may include painting with watercolors, listening to various types of music, developing large motor skills by hopping or bouncing a large ball, practicing tumbling, repeating rhythmic patterns, making Christmas tree ornaments or a covered wagon. 

This is supposed to be fall leaves!

Biblical Principles are integrated throughout the lessons. Character traits are emphasized and memory versed are incorporated into the thematic units. 

It is then suggested to end your daily routine with story time. The child is encouraged to read purely for fun. It is suggested to allow your child at least one story time per day. 

Now, you do not have to incorporate all of these suggestions. You may choose not to do the pledges at all, or maybe only do them one day per week. You do not have to do every suggested activity, or read every suggested book. There are several to choose from. Feel free to pick and choose what works best for your family.

We are currently not doing the pledges, and since Brently is 4, and more on the preschool level we are breaking this up and not doing it all in one day. One day we may focus on the math portion and the next day do the language arts. If he is feeling up to it, and depending on that days activities, we may do all of them in one day! That is the great part about being a homeschooler and using this curriculum. It is all flexible! You can truly make this program work for you. 

Here is a counting lesson that I filmed to show you an example of a real life lesson from Kindergarten Complete. I say real life because things don't always go perfectly, but they are real. We actually had a lot of fun doing this lesson. It didn't go the way I had planned, and he kept changing the way he thought it should be done, but that's the fun of homeschooling. You just go with the flow and have fun!

Homeschool complete is broken up by semesters. Semester one of Kindergarten Complete is 488 pages and semester two is 530, for a combined total of 1,018 pages. 

There are several purchasing options. You can buy a complete deluxe bundle with everything you need included for the whole year. This includes both semesters and all of the manipulatives you will need.  You can get the same package with everything you need, semester by semester as well. You can also purchase just the teachers manual and student workbooks without any other added manipulatives if you are one who already has plenty of manipulatives at home. You can purchase additional student workbooks as well. There is also a digital purchase option that includes the teachers guide and the student workbook. This is the best deal, especially if you have more than one student using the curriculum. 

If you purchase the curriculum already printed out for you, it will come in a large binder. I have the digital version and I am only printing out a few units at a time and putting them in a smaller binder so it's not as cumbersome to deal with on a daily basis. My plan is to take the units out of my smaller binder as we finish them and place them into a larger binder. Eventually the larger binder will be complete with all of the lessons, and the smaller binder will hold all of his worksheets and activities, showing off everything he did for the year! The author did state that this becomes your child's portfolio for the year. That makes it so easy! I also purchased the flash cards and manipulatives that they have off of their website. I am one of those people who like to have matching stuff. 😉 The prices for their manipultives and flash cards are very reasonable, and the people who sent them to me were so nice! 

There are more dice somewhere, but Brently was playing with them, so I don't know where they are at the moment. 

Brently loves this program. We are going a little slower because he is not quite ready for all of the concepts taught in the Kindergarten program. I actually think that what I am going to do is to keep on going the way we have been until the official school year starts up again, and then start over. There are several reasons that I am wanting to do this. One, he is not understanding and retaining everything we are learning. I am totally fine with that! He is being introduced to the concepts and is gaining a great foundation. He is retaining a lot, just not all of it.  Another reason is that the units are lined up to follow a typical school year. For example. The second unit/week in the program is all about fall.  There are some amazing activities that we would love to do, but it is currently winter right now and there are no leaves to make rubbings with, and we can't go on nature walks and collect leaves right now either. I would like the holidays and seasons to match up to the same times we are learning about them. 

If you are anything like me, and you don't like stringent curriculum and schedules, and you love to put the emphasis on family, but you obviously still want your child to learn all of the things they need to be learning, I think this is the curriculum for you. It is not that it is lacking, or that it is not as good as the other more textbook style programs, because it absolutely is. It is just the execution of the program. HOW you are learning the concepts is different. It is not boring, it definitely is fun, and I feel like you are bonding with your child while doing "school" together. And, if you do like schedules, you can still do this program on a schedule. I think it is made where you can really tailor it to you and your families needs very well. 

Homeschool Complete has a few other product categories that I want to tell you about as well. If for some reason you weren't looking for a complete curriculum, they have a stand alone reading program as well called Reading Complete

This is included in the regular Homeschool Complete curriculum, so don't worry about needing this as well. If you already have the complete package, you already have this. But if you are looking for a reading program by itself, you have this great option. 

They also have Complete Unit Studies.

It looks like they have some really cool unit studies. I would love to see one on the Solar System, or a space/astronaut one for the younger ages. But that is only because my son is crazy about space. 😃

I am able to offer you a 10% off code to use on your orders until the end of March. I hope you take advantage of this offer. This is a wonderful program! The code is CREW2019

I have not personally reviewed any of the unit studies or any of the other grade levels, but I have looked at the sample lessons and they all look really great to me. I do think that I will continue to use this curriculum as our main curriculum for the elementary years.

Be sure to read some of the other crew members reviews to see what they thought of the different grade levels and how this program worked for their families. I can't wait to read them and see how everyone else used this program. Maybe I will get some new ideas! 

Homeschool Complete K - 4th Grade & Unit Studies {Homeschool Complete Reviews}
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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Front Facing Bookshelves (Kind of)

I have been wanting to put in some front facing bookshelves. I used to have rain gutters as bookshelves, but my husband did not want me doing that again. lol

So I got this idea! 

I just bought some baskets from Dollar Tree and some cushion pads. 

I originally tried to use velcro strips but they weren't strong enough to hold very many books so I ended up using screws, however, someone told me about Monkey Hooks, so I would use those instead! 

What do you think? These take up no space besides a little wall space. Is this something you would consider? What other ideas do you have for front facing books?

Throwback Thursday/ Comparing Kitchen-aid Mixers

This Throwback Thursday brought me back to one of my favorite blog posts that I have ever wrote. I wrote a post comparing the Class...