46 Freezer Meals: Your Ticket to Sanity on those Crazy Days!

46 Freezer Meals

I have to share a terrific resource I stumbled upon with you today.

freezer meals OAMC collage
Natalie at A Turtles Life for Me shared how she spent around $100 and was able to freeze 46 meals for her family! I am inspired!

Inspired by the book, Dinner's in the Freezer, Don't Panic Natalie shares how she shops, prepares, and freezes "perfect sized" meals for her family. This ones a must read!!

I want this cookbook! Cooking in bulk is a necessity for me. We are busy, and I hate not knowing what is for dinner before breakfast. There is a sinister cloud that hangs over my head all day if I am not prepared for dinner!

I may be crazy, but I prefer to have it together. My hungry boys ask me all day long what the next meal will be. They have come to depend upon my expert cooking skills. (Laugh with me here).

I have put in my request for the her favorite cookbook, Don't Panic-Dinner's in the Freezer. Since I and budget conscious, I request most books from our local library first, then buy them if I know they are good fits for me. I am pretty sure that I want to add this one to my collection, but I am picky about cookbooks.

As a busy homeschooler, having a few meals ready to go in your freezer may be a life saver. It has saved me more than once a week for years now!


Science: Learning About Cells-Mitosis

We stumbled into a unit on cells this week.
Don't you love the freedom of homeschooling?

We happened to be able to gain access to a microscope, some plant cell slides, and a science teacher all at the same time... excitement was born!

While all I could say was, "That slide looks neat," the teacher was able to share his love for cell division with the boys. In five minutes, the boys transformed from boys trying to use a microscope, to biologists trying to identify the different stages of cell division. 

God's creation is truly amazing!

Here's how I helped fuel the flames of excitement:
First: We watched a few videos on cell division:
We loved Crash Course: Mitosis (He a fast talker, but does great overviews!)

Although these video's are targeting high schoolers, my boys caught the main ideas without a hitch!

Then I stayed up waaay too late creating a Cell Cycle Flip Book kit for each son (for both plant and animal cells).

The boys have been busy today coloring, cutting, arranging and flipping about cells.
It's been a fun and productive morning! 
I posted my cell flip book kit for anyone to grab a copy just a while ago. 

***Be the first to comment on this post AND send me an email saying "I would love a Cell Flip Book for my Kids" and I will email you a free copy!


Life Skills: Teach Your Kids Their Phone Numbers

I Know My Phone Number!!

But do my kids?

We have been struggling to memorize our new phone numbers together. It is amazing how confusing it can become when you begin to throw out the old numbers and learn the new ones.

Our family has four phone numbers that need to be memorized. Phew! That is a lot!

I created this fun little foldable to help out our youngest.

In the event of an emergency, can you kids simply pick up a phone and call you or your emergency contact? If not, I would recommend that you begin memorizing phone numbers together.

(I confess, I JUST memorized my oldest son's cell number. Since I simply dial by contact on my smart phone I never committed his number to memory. Bad mom.)

How do you teach your children important phone numbers?

***Just a final nudge***
My home phone does not work during a power outage. Does yours?
We have a back-up phone. you know, one of those plug into the wall types. I would recommend you not only have a back up, but teach your kids how to use it!

Some of my Resources:

Creativity and Boredom

My dad always said creativity and imagination lived just on the other side of boredom.

 I watch this truth play out not only in my own life, but the lives of my children as well. I have 5 very talented and creative boys. Yes, I am biased, but I am telling you it's true.

My boys are Lego architects, writers, painters, musicians, and simply a whole bunch of fun to be around. Before I sound too much like a snotty prideful mom, I want to repeat what my dad always told me:

Creativity and Imagination live just on the other side of boredom.”

Here is the secret to growing amazingly creative and imaginative kids... 
...Let them be bored!  

Allow your kids to get bored. I mean really bored. 
  • Do not rescue them (unless there's blood).
  • Do not turn on the TV and absolutely ban "all things electronic.
  • Tell them all you have is an endless list of chores for them to complete if they come to you for suggestions.
  • If the weather permits, send 'em outside and tell them they cannot come in until the timer dings. At least an hour!
  • Sit back and wait...
 Depending on how over-stimulated and over scheduled your kids are, there will likely be a delay between their first boredom appointment and the flow of creativity. It could be a few minutes, or a few days.
Trust me it is worth the wait!
Plan for periods of boredom regularly. Daily is best. Summer is meant for this type of schedule- embrace it.
You may think I am crazy, but I am quite sane. Its the bored kids who create the "new games". Its the bored kids who create awesome forts. Its the bored kids who write creative stories. Its the bored kids who think painting a fence is fun. Its the bored kids who weave complicated characters and events into their make-believe playtime. Its the bored kids who change the world.
Now, if you just cannot handle the thought of allowing your children to become really bored, or if the thought of the possibly whining makes the hair stand up on the back of your neck: cheat.

  • Go to the local thrift stores and let them buy some new dress-up clothes.
  • Pick up a few (or a few dozen) empty cardboard boxes.
  • Buy an assortment of PVC piping and let them create.
  • Find a spell-binding book to read aloud at breakfast or lunch. Be sure to stop reading at an exciting part! This is a great time to send them off. My kids end up personifying literary characters often!
  • Buy some spiral bound notebooks and "special pens" to help them write a creative story (Tell them you will not correct spelling and grammar... just let them write).
  • Invite a “cool big kid” over to play.
As homeschoolers we can over schedule our children's lives to the point of physical and mental exhaustion. Slow down. Let the lull of summer on the horizon remind us that it is more than OK to slow down. We need to allow our children to come to the end of their schedules in order to provide time and opportunity for creativity.

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Giveaway: Homeschooling 101: A Veteran's Guide to Homeschooling

I have been working on this for a while now, trying to condense 16 years of homeschooling experience into an easy to read handbook for homeschoolers. Phew.

I'm Giving Away a Copy to One Lucky Reader! ($48.00 Value!!)

Here is what you will find:
  • What makes a successful homeschooler?
  • Survival Plan
  • How to Homeschool: Setting goals
  • Establish Goals Worksheets
  • Identifying Children's Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Over 16 years of teaching/homeschooling wisdom
  • Identifying educational benchmarks
  • C hosing curriculum
  • Planning school year worksheets
  • A Year at a Glance Worksheets
  • Unit Study Worksheets
  • My Favorite Resources
  • Staying organized

Here's where the Bonus value makes this too good to be true.
I have included over 150 pages of learning activities: A $28.00 value!

Life Skills:
Fine Motor Skills Galore
I Know My Phone Number
Text Wars: A Game about the Dangers of Texting and Driving

Fact Fun Sheets
Order of Operations Task Cards

Idioms! Idioms! Idioms!

Movie Response Sheets

Bible Based:
15 Advent Activities
Soap:Bible Study

So why the low price of only $18.00?
As a homeschooler, I never had a large homeschooling budget. I have always taught on a shoestring budget, creating what I need along the way. I wanted to be able to share so much value with you that you would feel like you found buried treasure.

I am so blessed to be able to work from home as I school our boys.
None of this would be possible without the love and support of my husband and five of our children!

Enter 9/14/2015-9/19/2015 

 Can't Wait?
Get your copy here: Homeschooling 101

Homeschooling: When the Day Doesn't Go as Planned

Homeschooling from the Doctor's Office

Day Five of this school year. 
I had an 8:00am doctor's appointment and I'm still waiting at 10:00.

I'm the homeschool mom. No one learns without me... And I'm stuck in the office.

Choice #1- Pre-plan activities and lessons and prep the kids on what they are to do.

Choice -#2- leave the kids sleeping and hope that when I show up at lunch time that they are up, dressed, and have self started and got something done without me.

I forgot to properly prep the kids yesterday, neglected to set out some "to do's" before I left, and got hung up by having to go to two different offices.

Expectation- when I get home all four kids will likely have completed math and will be huddled over a mass of Legos creatively building.

Note to me:
"Bekki, let go of your expectations and benchmarks for today. Nothing in your planner today was written on pen. The Lord had an entirely different plan for your day today. Roll with it!

Do not try to cram a full day of school into a time space 1/4 the size of what you had scheduled.

Take the kids for a walk."

Today's Kindergarten: I Am Concerned

It's 1976. 
I am super excited to go to my Kindergarten class today! 

Mrs. House is the best teacher ever.
My friend Shelley and I sit next to each other in circle time as the class sings songs and talk about what is a good nutritious breakfast. (Mrs. House isn't too happy that I had a cup of coffee again today! I'm sure she will talk to mom again later!)

When mom picks me up from the bus stop, I share all about my day...
  • We learned about phonics and I quickly memorized the phonics circle.
  • We listened to Ferdinand the Bull. I laughed and laughed when he "sat on a bumblebee".
  • I played house during play station time and practiced "ironing".
  • At snack time, my friend Shelley and I turned our milk cartons into little boxes so we could collect things during recess.
  • Shelley and I played tag during recess until we couldn't run anymore, then we plopped down in the clover patch to search for four leaf clovers.
  • After recess, Mrs. House quizzed us on "F, F, for Freddy Fox" and sang "This Land is my Land" with the first grade class next door. 
  • We covered a paper with all different colors of crayons and then scribbled all over that paper with black crayon as hard as we could. Once is was black, we used a paper clip to scratch designs into our picture. I was so excited, I made two!
  • We worked on counting and did some fun worksheets. 
  • I couldn't believe it was time to go home again!

I loved kindergarten! (Here is an excellent article)
The play, the music, the glitter, the stories, the friends, the dancing, the pretending.
I turned out great. 
I loved school, so much in fact that I grew up to 'play school' at home full time (by homeschooling our five boys).
I fell in love with learning and exploring and music and art and people in kindergarten.

I am so concerned for today's kindergartners. 
My friend has a kindergartner who has a reading quota and is already placed in a remedial group because he does not read fast enough. Her class has to skip recess often in order to get more work done. She also has homework. At five years old.

Can I just say something here?

Childhood is fleeting. 
Learning is cultivated.

Creativity its is crushable.

Excitement for learning is perishable.

If we turn our culture's creative, daydreaming, dancing five year olds into frustrated, militant, quiet little soldiers who can sit at a desk for 5-6 hours a day, should we be surprised that obesity, depression, and anxiety will dominate their lives as teens and adults?

We need to allow children to return to childhood and delight in life again. 
I mean delight.
Let them pick clover, turn milk boxes inside out, spill glitter while making a picture for dad, play hopscotch, swing and swing, play hide and seek, share, sing, dance, and play.

Kids learn through play and role playing.

This is how children grow up to be creative, self-expressive, caring adults. 

They need to have the "time" to just be... No electronics, no homework (Please. Who gives homework to a child under the age of 10? What purpose does this work serve?)
Kids need to be outside, sometimes guided, sometimes just supervised so they don't kill themselves. But they need to be outside. Rain or shine. Snow or wind.

Kids need to color, cut, sing, dance, role play, rest, be read and read to, count by bouncing balls and keeping score, and laugh.
Learning is much easier when the child's basic needs are met.

Parents, we need to do something for the sake of our children and our future society. This is personal.
For my family, it is personal enough to pull my kids from the mainstream to school them at home. Where they run. Where they laugh. Where they read when they are developmentally ready. Where they play outside. Where they explore and experiment.

Today, in an hour and a half I am kicking my four youngest sons outside with play swords. They will play outside for an hour during the time of day that most American Kids will be scribbling on their desks and suffer from numb tushes. Yes, even the 16 year old. 

They are all smart, excellent students. Some are learning at a slower pace than their peers, but all are delighted to learn, read, discover and play.

Ask yourself if your young children are delighting in life. 
I'm not asking if they are busy, can win spelling bees, read at the age of three and solve algebraic algorithms by 6...but do they delight in life
Do they love stories and reading? (or being read to)
Do they enjoy their classrooms/learning environments? 
Are they nurtured by their educators?
Do they laugh and run and sing and dance?
Do they build, explore, and experiment?
Do they play contentedly?

I am concerned about today's kindergartners.
We need to stand up and stop accepting new "cultural norms" as normal and ok. They are not. Our kids, as a nation, are suffering.

Start looking around you. 
Find a handful of children who are delighting in life, are full of excitement, and are excited to learn. This might be a challenge, but you will see a few.
Then start talking to their parents and glean wisdom. 

The governing establishments do not have the answers. 

The parents of content, excited, kind, curious, enthusiastic learners have the answers... 
ask them!

Other thoughts:

(This post was inspired by a post I read somewhere on the Internet. If you recognize the flavor of this message and know the article, please let me know!)

Should I Homeschool: Am I a Good Enough Teacher to Homeschool My Kids?

I wrestle with feelings of insecurity when it comes to homeschooling our boys.

Sometimes I wonder if I am the best teacher for my children...
Am I alone?

Last week I picked up the novel my son was reading to help him with comprehension. He is reading Call it Courage. As I read the first chapter I realized that this book was not about a boy's struggle with war. (That's right! I never even noticed the cover)

Good Lord, help my children!

OK. I am not the most literate adult I know. In fact I did not read one book in high school. I was that student that could scan and skim, gather the right information and quotes to get an "A" in the class while never really having to read anything.

I was pleasantly surprised by the plot of this tiny little book my son was reading, yet it made me question my ability to lead him.

  • How could I possibly teach this child when I couldn't even scan a book in advance to know it was about an island culture and their worship of courage? 
  • How could I look myself in the mirror and be confident in my ability to help my son love learning?

After about three days of feeling bad, I realized my son's interest had awakened as he read about and drew the setting of the story: an island surrounded by a beautiful coral reef.

I picked up a Coral Reef book filled with fantastic photographs and we began exploring the complexity and delicacy of these living structures. Oh my, we were and continue to be captivated!

In our research we discovered a new creature: The mantis shrimp. Holy smokes! This little guy is fantastic. Supposedly this creature has the fastest movement in the animal kingdom as it punches its prey. We had to learn more...

A quick internet search, led us to one of my favorite YouTube Channels "Smarter Every Day" and viola, there was the beautiful, powerful, and astounding mantis shrimp. This one is worth watching with your kids!

So there you go. A ride on my homeschooling merry go round.
First I allow my son to read a book that I know nothing about.
second, I form an opinion about the book strictly by its title.
Then, I am struck "dumb" as I read to catchup with my son.
next I see an opportunity to follow a rabbit trail down an area of interest.
Then, we become engrossed and amazed in a little creature we didn't even know existed.

Yep, a successful homeschooling week I'd say.

Of course, I failed again when I fell for the "Finding Nemo is all about a coral reef": hook, line and sinker.

How about you?
Do you ever struggle with feeling like you fall short as a homeschooler?

Math Fun: Summer Multiplication Practice Calendar! Time Management: Student Planner and Weekly Calendar

Hindsight: It is Worth Repeating

If I could rewind the tape and begin homeschooling my kids today with the benefit of my 16 years of experience, what would I do differently? 

1. I would spend the first 6-12 months to a year organizing my home, working on establishing a daily rhythm, and study my children.

2. I'd go to the library at least once a week allowing them to choose books that interest them, and hand picking random books for me to read aloud. I would be watching for what they are interested in, what makes them excited, what they find boring, etc.

3. I would rely on my husband more in creating a vision for our children, rather than trying to figure out what everyone else is doing. I wouldn't waste a second trying to make what works for your kids work for mine. I'd keep my husband in the loop about our daily escapades and accept his advice more quickly. I mistakenly thought that because he worked outside the home all day he would be unable to see what the kids needed. This piece of humble pie would have been better to consume early in homeschooling.

4. Rather than spending countless hours worrying about this curriculum or that, I would begin with the family goals we have now:

  • Put the highest priority on sharing our love for Jesus with our children. 

  • To insure the kids know their math facts inside and out. Period. Forget learning them, they need to over learn them.

  • To inspire a love for literature by exposing the kids to a steady flow of great books. (I would read aloud daily no matter what their ages). I'd be picking the brains of the veteran homeschoolers, librarians, and authors that are in my sphere of influence for suggestions and I would prioritize a daily reading habit.

  • I would focus all learning to develop excellent written and oral communication skills. I would find my children pen pals so they could perfect the friendly letter.

  • I would have them do copy work from the masters and discuss why the sentences, paragraphs, essays, or stories are so great. I would understand that excellence in writing really comes from being well read and practice, tactics, practice.

5. I would find opportunities for my kids to stand and share in front of others, whether it is during a family BBQ or performing with the local theater- giving them the skill and confidence to speak in front of others.

6. I would view curriculum, tests, quizzes, and state tests as resources to help me customize each of the kids education, not the substance of their learning.

7. I would relax more.
I'd let the kids get dirtier.
I would get dirtier.

We would play in the rain, build in the snow, chase rainbows, cloud watch, visit the farm, play at the beach, collect more leaves, examine more bugs, watch more plays, attend the theater, interview our doctors and dentists, locate inspirational guests like missionaries, mechanical engineers, artists, poets, and ace mechanics to share their passions with the kids. I would put a map of the US and the world under glass or plastic across my kitchen table and every single time we read or heard about a place we would locate it on the map and discuss how close/far it it from us.

8. I would hide the duct tape...

9. I would do it all over again. And again. And again.

I know my children so much more intimately because of homeschooling. I am forever grateful for the vision my husband was given for our family.

How about you?
What are the top few things you would change if you could rewind the tape and homeschool those beginning years with the wisdom you have today?

Teachers Pay Teacher One Day Sale- Today!

One Day Only Sale
My Store and all Teachers Pay Teachers Stores.

Be sure to click on the image below and use sale code: MORE15

Wednesday August 19th Only!!!