Tuesday, July 28, 2015

At Home Learning: Homeschool Supplies on the Fly

I'm becoming increasingly excited about our decision to home school our PreK aged daughter. The process has become much less overwhelming and now my focus is all on preparation. I was super excited to hit the mother-load in the Target dollar section recently. I officially purchased my first home school supplies on a complete whim, which is something that happens often at Target! I was quite pleased at my finds - jumbo dice, counting blocks, number and alphabet charts, a weather chart and a day of the week chart. What a score! One of my favorite items is a "feelings wheel." I snagged a few extra for work. My little one is already eager to get some use out of that materials. 

I have a decent board racking up ideas on Pinterest, I'm hoping that by the end of next week I'll have a basic curriculum made and a supply list, so the real shopping can begin. I am also going to scour the interwebs for home schooling corner inspiration. I figured it wouldn't hurt to have a dedicated space to materials and supplies for this crazy adventure I'm embarking upon.

For all my homeschooling mamas out there - what is on your "must have" supply list?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

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Tuesday, July 21, 2015

At Home Learning: Hello, Homeschool

When I began my parenting journey, homeschooling was never in my plans. In fact, I would cringe at the thought of homeschooling. Homeschooling, I was certain, was not for me. As you can imagine, it was quite the surprise to others - and mostly myself! - that I have made the decision to homeschool my daughter for her last year of preschool beginning in September.

My daughter had attended two years at a co-op preschool up until this past May. We loved our co-op. My oldest son had attended the co-op, the co-op was small and intimate. The teachers knew all of our family of 5 by name and vice versa. The co-op was truly our extended family. We were crushed when the co-op closed it's doors to financial reasons at the end of the last school year. We were also totally thrown for a loop, as the decision to close was announced late in the year. Suddenly I was thrust into a panic of having to find a new school for my daughter, a task I had been able to avoid since my son enrolled in the co-op 4 years prior. 

I spent the next couple of months searching and visiting area preschools only to continually be disappointed and unimpressed. Nothing in our price range measured up to our co-op, and all the pricier dream schools were too far of a trek anyway. I finally settled on an option that was in our town, minutes away from our home, and at the same price range as the co-op. I made the decision somewhat reluctantly. Many people had good things to say about the school, but something about it bugged me. It was dreary. It was lacked the life of the co-op. The kids even looked dreary. Other's dismissed my worries, but I couldn't shake the gut feeling that this was NOT our school. A second pending issue looming in the background, was the new changes to the vaccination mandates in New Jersey. 

The decision to homeschool became more and more and option as I became more and more uncertain about the option we selected.  However, the thought of home schooling was scary. In reality, it's "only" preschool, but the thought of being responsible for my child's education, even a small part, is terrifying. What if I didn't do a good enough job? What if I didn't have enough patience? What is my daughter was bored? What if I couldn't fulfill the social aspect with enough playdates? What if I didn't give her the tools she needed to learn to transition successfully to kindergarten? It was A LOT to consider, especially for someone who had never looked into homeschooling, much less had a desire to homeschool.

In an effort to figure out if homeschooling would be a route I wanted to take, I reached out to a few friends who had also homeschooled through the preschool years. Talking with these moms put a lot of my worries at ease. They made homeschooling sound feasible and manageable. I also talked with our old co-op teacher, and she reminded me that not only had I been helping out in the classroom for years, but my skills as a child and adolescent therapist and my knowledge of child development will not allow me to fail in making sure my daughter is mastering the skills she needs to know. As my confidence and comfort with the idea of homeschooling increased, I became more and more excited about the concept. 

After a talk with my husband, I have officially decided to dip my toes into the world of homeschooling. I feel 100% satisfied with our decision, which was the type of gut satisfaction that I didn't feel from any of the schools we toured. I'm excited for our journey and excited to share it with all of you. I'd also love any feedback or resource shares from any of my readers who homeschool.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Freebie Friday: $25 Darden Restaurant Gift Card

When's the last time you had a date night with your spouse? Or a night out with your bestie? Enter to win a $25 Darden Gift Card restaurant and you won't have an excuse to not enjoy a nice meal out! Darden Gift Cards can be redeemed at any Darden-connected restaurant in the U.S., including Olive Garden, LongHorn Steakhouse, Bahama Breeze, Seasons 52, The Capital Grille, Eddie V's, Yard House and Red Lobster. Not a bad deal!

Contest begins July 10, 2015 at 12:00am EST and ends July 17, 2015 at 12:00am EST. Entrants must complete all required actions to win. Entry requirements will be verified for each entrant. One winner will be selected on July 17, 2015. Please return to this post on July 17, 2015 for announcement of winner.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Product Reviews: Adorama Pix

I recently had the opportunity to make a photo book through Adorama Pix. AdoramaPix offers a variety of photo options including prints, books, home decor, calendars and cards. This opportunity presented itself at the right time, since I had been thinking of making a surprise photo book to document my son's first season of soccer.  The Adorama Pix website was easy to use and navigate. I was able to upload and create a 10 page book in under 15 minutes. There were several template options to choose from to assist in the customization of books. The site offers leather, die cut and fabric covers, but I opted for the hardcover. I loved that I was able to have a front and back cover photo on the book to maximize photograph space.

I was pleasantly surprised when the my complete book arrived so quickly!  I ordered on the evening of June 30th, and the book was in my hands on July 6th. Not to shabby, considering mail days were lost due to the holiday weekend. The photo book featured thick, textured photo paper. The paper texture sent me into a tactile frenzy. I couldn't stop touching it. The thickness of the pages is a welcome feature. As a mama of three, I'm always worried my littles will get too aggressive turning the pages of our photo books. With pages this thick and durable, I won't have to worry about ripped pages. The lay-flat binding is a bonus and allows panoramic images to span across two pages without any separation. If I had to complain about something, it would be that the first and last pages are attached to the inside of the front and back cover. But that's more about my own preferences than anything else. It certainly didn't take away from the beauty of the book at all. 

Want your own photo book? Head on over to Adorama Pix  and use code: pxusfam25 to get 25% off  square photo books (6x6,8x8,10x10,12x12). Offer ends 09/30/2015 11:59 pm EST.

Monday, July 6, 2015

A Little Moxie, A Little Mischief: Sick Momming

I'm sick. Like, want to die because I feel like death, want to stay in bed all day and cry from the shear pain my body is in, kind of sick. I don't care to get into details, but trust me, things have not been pleasant in my world for the last couple of weeks. It's nothing major, it's nothing life threatening, but it has made parenting little ones with boundless energy a total nightmare. I have three bosses and they are all tyrants. Sicks days are not in the skimpy benefits package. No matter how shitty I feel, clothes still need to be washed, tummies still need to be filled, and household tasks need to be completed, Sick momming is no fun. NOT. AT. ALL.

Here are a few tips I've learned along the way to make sick momming a bit easier:

Let someone else deal with it. Figure out what tasks you can assign to other members of the family, rather than take on all responsibility to keep the home running. Maybe your eldest child can help out with laundry or dishes. Let your husband deal with chauffeuring the kids to their activities and handling the bath and bed time routines. Take up all those well-meaning friends on their offers to come over and help straighten up the house or cook dinner. You may be used to doing everything, but you don't HAVE to do everything, especially when your body is telling you not to.

Be okay with letting someone else deal with it. Not only do you have to divvy up the tasks to other family members, but you have to learn to be okay with letting them do it their way - which might not be as good as your way, but it's getting done in SOME way, and that's what's important. I have had to take lots of deeps breaths and let go of the control, but it beats the alternative of doing it myself. 

Allow kids to entertain themselves. If you are lucky enough to have children who can reasonably stay out of danger while you relax, let them entertain themselves. Whether that entertainment be in the form of an all day Disney Jr. marathon, or whether it means allowing them to cover their bodies in washable marker masterpieces, what doesn't kill them will allow you to get some much needed rest. Now's not the time to micromanage their entertainment. 

Put those self-sufficiency skills to the test. If you're kids haven't had a lesson in self-sufficiency yet, there's no time like the present. Have the kids fend for themselves a bit by making the things they need the most accessible. Have a bin of snacks within reach for little hands. Move juice boxes to the front of the fridge or prepare cups of milk and store in the fridge within reach for thirsty kids. Have a basket of coloring books, crayons, puzzles, etc out for easy play. Have your spouse prep lunch bag meals for the kids before leaving for work and leave in the fridge as an easy-to-grab lunch and/or dinner. 

Gather the family in a common area. If your kiddos need a little more of a watchful eye, do your best to confine yourself and the kiddos to one space. Set up camp in your family room or basement. Whatever room in the house makes the most important things accessible. I'm lucky that our basement/family room has a television, bathroom, plenty of space, the majority of the kids toys and a mini fridge. I block off the stairs with a baby gate and can easily take a much needed snooze without too much worry that I'll wake up to trouble.

Make family nap times a new rule. Mama needs a nap? Maybe everyone needs a nap.  Done.

And the most important tip -  cut yourself some slack. Yes, things do have to get done, but most of it can wait.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wear It Mama: Vintage Diva

I love vintage inspired looks, so even though I was on a shopping freeze, I couldn't help but be smitten by this dress. I bookmarked it and mulled over it for a few days before pulling the trigger, and I'm glad I did. This airy dress is perfect for a summer date!  At 5'8" I don't often wear heels, but since I was already breaking my spending freeze rule, I thought I might as wear break my heel rule too and snagged up these strappy sandals with a 3 inch heel. They give a slight sexy edge to the girly, floral patterned dress. The dress and shoes were instant loves, but it took me a bit longer to find the perfect purse. I finally settled on this studded evening bag, and although I wasn't totally sold on it at first, turns out it works well with the look. Now I just need a date night!

Shopping List
Vintage Floral Print 3/4 Sleeve Dress
a.n.a Eva Multi-Band High Heel Sandal
La Regale Studded Evening Bag