Wednesday, January 31, 2018

February Bullet Journal: Tangled Theme

A new month will be here tomorrow, so that means, for the past few days, I have been working to get ready for a new month in my bullet journal. This month I chose Tangled as my theme, as I thought the color scheme and romantic quotes lended themselves well with being the 'month of love'. Tangled is my second favorite Disney movie ever, and I had so much fun coming up with layouts centered around the movie. I have made a few changes to the layouts from last month, and I'll explain them as I show you the pictures. I hope you have fun looking through this month's bullet journal! Read to the end, and I'll share the supplies I used to create these layouts.

 The first page, is just the introduction for February. I decided to do a watercolor of lanterns scene. I love how it turned out, even if it was my first, and very imperfect attempt at watercolor. Also fun fact: I used to live in Thailand where these kind of lanterns were used on a certain holiday. I've seen thousands of lanterns in the night sky in real life!

The second page is an overview of the month, and since I have a lot going on in February, I added something that I didn't have in last month's layout. I added a birthday and important events that I can see at a glance. 
The third page is my habit tracker and menu planning page. I only added 4 habits I wanted to focus on, and that allowed me to be able to fit  the menu planning layout on the same page. I love this quote for this particular layout. I think part of the fun of creating these, is figuring out what quotes fit what pages. 

My declutter layout this past month was so successful, that I continued it to the next room in my decluttering journey. Soon I would like to talk about my organizing style, and how I'm breaking down decluttering the house.
This is my least favorite art piece, but it is what it is! The best part about bullet journals, is that you can express yourself artistically, and not worry about perfection, since it's for your own enjoyment!
The next pages are my daily layouts. These are for my daily to-do's and knowing when library books are due ;)

If you are wanting to start your own journal, but don't know where to start with supplies, then here are a few supplies to get you started. Honestly, you just need a bullet journal and a pen, but the other supplies add to the fun of putting them together!
Okay, I know the gel pens are kind of expensive, but look how many you get in there!!! This is what I have, and I love them!
On the watercolor, I just used thicker paper, and Crayola watercolors. Nothing fancy, but I enjoyed it so much! Hope this give you inspiration for your journal. What other monthly layouts do you include in your journal?

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Homeschool Preschool Organization

Me? Organized? It's almost an oxymoron, but I have been researching and discovering that I am a lazy *cough* macro organizer. Basically, I don't need detailed file folders, because I would never have find the time to keep it up. I need a basket that says "Art stuff" so I can throw everything in it and not think about it. I would like to make 'finding my organizing style' a whole other post, but for now I am saying this to say-I've kept it pretty simple. And where I haven't kept it simple, it hasn't worked (and I'll tell you that too!). So here are the categories I've Organized:

The Preschool Corner

Some have a whole room designated for homeschool, while others simply use the kitchen table. However, you'll normally have to have a place to store all your preschool things. I have a little corner of my big front room that I've set aside as the 'school room'. 

 I bought the chalk table at a garage sale several years ago, My husband had the bulletin board in his room a long time ago, the bookshelf was at the house, and the magnet board (now art display) was a gift from my wedding shower. Little Man got the piano from his grandmother for Christmas, and I leave it in the preschool room, because the front room is also where I have my piano. The cubby shelf, the easel, and the chairs were from the private school closeout. I absolutely love the little space, and it feels very fun...which, if you remember, is my #1 goal! It was also very inexpensive, which was another goal!
Believe it or not, this space has stayed relatively the same. I think it's because it's pretty macro-organized (and yes, there is stuff spilling from the boxes, but I know what's in there, and I know WHERE it is, so that's organized for me! ). It's good to have things in one location, so that you can easily get ready for preschool each day (or the day before...if you are THAT kind of person). Speaking of getting things ready ahead of time, that brings me to what didn't work with this system. At our homeschool group meeting a lady talked about how she organized her kids subjects into little drawers and that helped her kids know how much more they had to accomplish. I tried a version of that, and I will say that it lasted almost 3 months. Now that I'm discovering that I'm a macro-organizer, I now keep bible things we do during the lesson in one cubby box, and all the preschool things we are going to do in a lesson. It might change to everything in one box, but it's all about finding what works for you. Remember, if it doesn't work, you can always change it! don't get discouraged if you are having a hard time keeping things in one place. Change things up until you figure out what works for your family. 

Unit Studies Week by Week

If you read my previous blog post you know I'm doing unit studies by Simply Learning. During the course of the study, she has each day as a focus for different things. She breaks it up into different cattegories and you do a couple of those a day (or at times, just one). Because I knew that I would be supplementing my own units along with hers, I decided adopt a similar model, and organize each unit study accordingly. Here is how our week looks:

Read Theme book
Read Theme Book
Arts and crafts
Read Theme Book
Motor skill activity (STEM)
Read Theme book
Arts and crafts
Free day

At times I change up and read a related book a couple of days a week, or out of the nature anatomy books that she recommends (she has the pages laid out in her downloads). I also make Friday a free day. Throughout the year we have field trips, days Daddy is home (He is a teacher), sick days, etc. I am a person that gets discouraged if I get behind, so I set up a free day for those times where we just need to do something else. If the free day lands on a Tuesday, you would just do your Tuesday on a Friday.  I try to plan an activity for that day, if I know we should be home; It's normally something like watching something related to what we are talking about (Magic School Bus or something on PBS are great options) or do puzzles, playdoh, etc. 
Since I do other units besides Simply Learning and also because I don't always do every activity she suggests,  I needed a planner to put all the activities we would do. I looked at some really cute ones, but wound up getting a plain school year calendar from the Dollar Tree, and making it look sort of cute with washi tape. Whatever works!

My Day

Here is where things get a little fuzzy. I've tried to have a more detailed day, but things don't normally go the way I plan. Instead, right now, I have a 'flow' to the day. We do things in a kind of order, and I try to do preschool after we do certain things that get us ready for the day. Mornings work best for my little preschooler, but things might work differently for you. Find out for yourself if I detailed planned day works best for you, or if you work better with doing things in a certain order. Just make sure that you are making time for the important things in your day. And it's okay if the day isn't going well and you just make it a free day. Just make sure that free days don't start being everyday :) 

I hope this helps you start the planning process. I think it was about this time of year when I started researching what I wanted my year to look like, and hopefully this has helped you figure out yours. Leave me a comment and let me know how you organize your day. I need some inspiration! :) Also, if you missed last time's blog post, here is the link. 

Saturday, January 20, 2018

How I am Homeschooling my Preschooler for *Almost* Free!

There is a ton of curriculum out there for preschoolers, these days, and trying to figure out which one to do can be a daunting task (as well as an expensive one!). Last summer I started planning out what an ideal year would look like, and figuring out exactly what I wanted to do. I knew a few things already; I wanted it to be fun and mostly free! With those things in mind, here is how I went about getting ready for my 3 year old's preschool year.


I feel like this is an important first step, in figuring out what you want to do with your preschooler. Every kid is at a different level, and my little boy was about to turn 3 when we first started. Here were my goals for the year:

  • Shapes: recognize and begin drawing
  • Colors: recognize and sort
  • Numbers: recognize number symbols up to 10
  • Tracing practice
  • Cutting skills

I didn't make the Alphabet a priority for this year, although we are going over many of the letters.

After that, I could make a plan. Since I knew I wanted it to be cheap, I went on the lookout for inexpensive things I could use for preschool.

Let the Hunt Begin!

I had an inkling about what I wanted to do, so I started getting a collection of preschool-ly things. My husband's aunt was getting rid of a lot of things from a private school that was closing down, and this blessed us a lot! An alternative, and something we did do, was ask for things for Christmas/Birthday, that would go along with what I was going to do (once I figured out what that was).  

I went shopping at the Dollar Tree-Seriously y'all, there are a lot of neat things down the school isle. I found some really cool Sesame Street workbooks, along with some sticker colors, shapes, numbers, ect. books as well. By this time I knew that I was going to do unit studies, so I took the workbooks, and tore all the pages out. I then organized everything by color, shape, number, letter, etc. so that when we were going over the color blue, I had all the blue worksheets together for him to do. 

Now for what I am using!

The Beauty of Unit Studies

About a year ago, I discovered a unit study from Simply Learning, for The Little Blue Truck and I fell in love! As I discovered more on her site, and also researched themed units, I made the decision to work in 2 week unit studies. So far this has worked beautifully for us. For the books I already have, or can get from the library, we are using Simply learning literature studies, and for the other weeks, I am supplementing with some of my son's favorite topics, like: transportation, dinosaurs, space, etc. Like I said before, the number 1 goal is fun! He is 3 and still a pretty good ways off from kindergarten. I am not trying to make sure he can read and write before the age of 4 or anything. I am looking for focused playtime, that results in learning skills that will prepare him for life, whether that be using scissors, or being able to sit still and focus for longer than 5 seconds. Remember, don't stress (leave that for high school years ;) 

So, did I mention all of the units I am going to share are free??!! You do need supplies (mostly from around the house) and a printer. Because printer ink is expensive stuff, I did sometimes just pick and choose the things I wanted to do, and supplement with things I found on pinterest, or related games/puzzles that I already had. She also recommends these books, but I found them on a swap site for $10 off. These can be a birthday wishlist item, or supplemented with books from the library(however, the illustrations in these books are gorgeous!) 

Here are the unit studies we have done, or are doing this year (some have clickable links to complete unit study, or simply ideas):

Shapes study


Out for Thanksgiving
Christmas activities
Out for Christmas
Rainbow unit study
Out for Winter break
Bugs study
Out for Spring Break

Weather study
Out for the Summer!

Unit studies have worked so well for us, and doing them for two weeks, means I don't sweat if something comes up on one of the days and we don't get to do preschool (It also means that my little man can really get the concept down). I actually have Friday planned as a special day that can be a catch up day. Stay tuned, since I am planning to write a 'Day in the Life' where I look at how I organize Little Man's preschool day and papers, and area. I'll go through my weekly and daily plans. I hope this helps someone! Preschool doesn't have to be expensive or extensive, but it should be fun!

Monday, January 8, 2018

All Things Work Together...

"And we know all things work together for good..."

How many times have you seen that verse, and the person saying it, reassuring you everything is going to be okay. Something terrible just happened, well that's okay, because everything is going to turn out for the good! and good means happiness, right? You may be in dire financial straits now, but don't worry, you'll get that dream house you have always wanted, because God is working for your good, your happiness. Right?

I hate to pop your bubble, but that's not what that verse means. Honestly, I always knew it was misquoted, but I didn't realize HOW MUCH it was misconstrued until a pastor preached on this verse. Before we delve into what this verse means, let's see the entire verse, because what is normally quoted, is just half of it. 

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

Right off the bat, we see that this verse is for Christians- born again believers. It also says we are called according to HIS purpose. So now we need to break down one word in this verse. 


What is good? 

Luke 18:19 says: ""Why do you call me good?" Jesus asked him. "Only God is truly good."So good here doesn't mean happiness. It means perfection. What is perfection, in a Christian's life? A life exactly like Jesus, something we are striving towards until we are called home, and are given that perfection. 

So the verse means something like this:
All things work together for you, who love God and are called to His purpose, to become more like Christ. 

So this has nothing to do with you getting what you want in the end, but everything to do with what He wants for us, and that is a closer relationship with Him. However, as we get closer to God, what we want and what He wants should start looking like the same thing. Losing my three babies to early miscarriage didn't make me happy, and I don't understand it at all, but I know this-that God is working it to a greater relationship with Him. Perhaps you don't understand why you are in the circumstance you are in right now, but God is working it for perfection in Jesus! Perhaps what you are going through can be the talking point to help someone come to Christ, and in light of eternity, it's all that matters!  

Monday, January 1, 2018

New Year and January Bullet Journal Layout

Happy New Year!
I am a minimalist wannabe who stuffs my 'piles' in the master bedroom when people are supposed to come to my house. I am so organized with my calendar that I am always two days late to return books to the Library, and I always start projects, blog posts, books, workout plans, (okay, you get the picture) and I never complete them. Like most people, come January, I plan to be a new person! I have low expectations for myself, so I thought I would try to give myself a hand...I started a bullet journal! I actually started in December to make sure it was something that would be truly helpful.

What is a bullet journal?
It's like a planner that is completely customize-able by you. It truly caters to your needs, because you are the one designing it. You can let your creative juices flow, or keep it simple. I like that it's an outlet for my more artsy side, but it's not a requirement.  I'll post pictures of mine and hopefully it will serve as an inspiration for you!
For my year layout, I started with an overview of the year, with important dates.

I then started on some goals I have for the year. I made fillable and check-off pages, because for some weird reason, it motivates me, and you do whatever works! I then put a page of just overview goals that I have for myself. 
You will notice that this is not all perfect. I am not a perfectionist. I'm sorry if it makes you cringe, but I was too lazy to do it first in pencil and then in pen. (Just being honest, here)

I love, love this page! I left an empty spot for a goal I have later, or one I forgot. I used this Instagram picture for my inspiration.

Now for January! I decided to go with 'Frozen' as my theme. I looked up this layout on Pinterest, so it's not super original.  You can do anything here. You can do word art, geometric shapes, water color, or just leave it clean and simple. 
I then went on to do a January overview, and a habit tracker. Again, not 
A habit tracker does what it sounds like. It lets you see how many times in any given month, you do the things you want to do. 

 Couldn't resist this quote on my meal planning page. This one is probably my favorite layouts, because not only do I plan out what I need to make for the week, but it makes sure I don't make the same meal too many times. Your family will thank you!
 Another imperfect page, but I hope it helps me declutter the Kitchen....I'll update you if it helps!
The next pages are my weekly layouts. You put your 'to-dos', or anything that helps you be productive that day. 

 And there you go! I hope this has given you inspiration to start your own, and become more organized in the new year. Let me know if you bullet journal, and what layouts are your favorite.

How I Created my own Nature Study Curriculum for Free!

  If you've been in the homeschool circles long enough, you've heard of the Nature Anatomy books. We have used them with the Peacef...