I have moved to a new blog: Nikki's Thoughts On


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December 20, 2015

Sunday Mass: 4th Sunday Of Advent

Today is the 4th Sunday of Advent

Today's Bible Readings:

  • First Reading: Micah 5:1-4
  • Responsorial Psalm: PS 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
  • Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10
  • Gospel: Luke 1:39-35

Video of today's Mass:


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December 17, 2015

Beginning To Look Like Christmas

Christmas presents are still arriving daily and will continue to arrive until Wednesday of next week. Yes I know that's already the 23rd of December, but we got a late start on the shopping. -- thank goodness there is still time to have things arrived before Christmas.

We have never been ones to go extremely overboard with Christmas presents, but this year we decided to keep our out of pocket to a minimal and fund Christmas with ALTERNATIVE methods. With Swagbuck, Ibotta, and the reward system (point system) that my husband's employer offers we have only spent to date $15 out of pocket and will most likely spend about $30 more out of pocket. Making the total out of pocket expense around $45 -- $50 at most

I can't disclosed what I have bought for the kids, mainly because they have social media accounts these days and might see it, but I can tell you what we got them has a retail value of $100 each. So that's $200 for the kids.

Then we bought for 7 nieces and nephews. Each of those gifts have a retail value of about $15.  So that's another $105 dollars. I won't disclose what we bought for the same reasons as the kids. Well not all of the nieces and nephews have social media, but the parents do.

Grandparents, 3 sets, gifts have about $15 dollar value each as well.  So that's another $45.

So add it up:

200 + 105 + 45 = $350.  And knowing that out of that $350 only $50 max is our total out of pocket is pretty cool!!

Now, that we are just over a week away from Christmas and Sunday is the 4th Sunday of Advent we decided it was time to decorate the house for Christmas. We took out the Christmas decorations. Not much -- several years ago we got a new living room set that limited our space for Christmas decorating. So we just put up a tinsel tree, stockings, small nativity set in the living room and a red table cloth on the table and Santa hats on the chairs in the kitchen.

I think next year we might go with a more traditional tree even if it's a small tree. I have been batting around some ideas in my head on how to make a Advent/Christmas tree.  -- One tree that serves for BOTH seasons. In years passed we have done a Jesse Tree -- so it will be a tie in to that. I dare not say more. I don't want my ideas swiped by other people.  -- Swiper No Swiping -- HAHA that was throw back to our Dora days!!!

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December 9, 2015

Baking Bread

Baking Bread....Yum, Yum 
Yesterday, on my Facebook page I mentioned how my daughter wanted to make bread, because she loves bread, but after looking over the recipe decided not to do it and ask that I help her.  I agreed I would help her this morning.

Lisa from Chickens, Bunnies and Homeschool saw my Facebook post and was kind enough to share here bread recipe with us.

We this morning followed her recipe and were happy with the results. Thanks Lisa for helping us out!

Check Lisa's recipe out! One Hour Bread Rolls 

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December 8, 2015


It happens, I think everyone at some point has to deal with ringworm.  We have a case of it here.  We suspect we picked it up from the dogs -- not sure where the dogs picked it up from -- but it happens.

We were using over the counter meds for it, and thought we had it all cleared up. Several week went by with no skin rash or signs of ringworm. However, we really didn't get rid of it. Noticed yesterday a spot had return in the same exact location. So we scheduled an appointment with the doctor.  Looked at it and said yep ringworm and because you attempted to cure it with over the counter meds and were not successful we will give you a script for it.

Now to check the dogs again for active ringworm spots and then decided if I should go to the vet and get meds for them too or just treat it with something over the counter like coconut oil.  I wouldn't just treat your dogs with coconut oil for this or anything else without reading many reliable sources on the matter.

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December 7, 2015

Hometown Christmas

This weekend was my town's Christmas Walk and Celebration. The downtown area had many holiday events.  We attended a few over the weekend.

Saturday morning as the pancake breakfast. We spent the morning serving pancakes, sausage, and busting tables.

After the breakfast we went home for a little nap. Then we went to the local Methodist Church for a Chili dinner followed by some window shopping at the different stores and watching the lighted Christmas Parade.

Sunday Morning we went to church followed by an afternoon at the local library listening to Christmas Music and eating chocolate and other sugary treats.

I, on a whim, decided to periscope the lighted Christmas parade. Below is the video of the event.

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November 29, 2015

Hello Barbie: Why I'm saying No!

Part of the reason I do not support CCS and avoid CCS aligned materials especially CCS aligned websites is because of the data mining. So you can imagine my horror when I learned about "Hello Barbie".
Just like a real friend, Hello Barbie doll listens and adapts to the user's likes and dislikes. 
What does this mean? It sounds harmless enough. However it's not just harmless. Mattel is using Hello Barbie to datamine your children or anyone else using the doll. The conversations you have with the doll are recorded and stored on Mattel's servers. The TOS states:

We may also use, store, process, convert, transcribe, analyze or review Recordings (along with text and transcriptions derived from the Recordings) in order to provide, maintain, analyze and improve the functioning of the Services, to develop, test or improve speech recognition technology and artificial intelligence algorithms, or for other research and development and data analysis purposes. We do not use Recordings or their content, including any personal information that may be captured therein, to contact children or to advertise to them.
All of that basically means the recordings we collect will be used to help us with marketing and whatever else we feel we need to use it for we just won't use the doll, Hello Barbie, to directly market to your child. Meaning the doll will never say to your child or anyone else using the doll to buy this or that, but you better believe that Mattel is using the info for their gain and whatever else that falls under "other research".

So you might not buy one, but your neighbor might have so be aware of what your child is playing with even at Jane's house.  This Hello Barbie doll looks like a normal Barbie -- you might not even realize they are using a datamining toy.

I know many will say datamining is everywhere you can't avoid it. It's on the computers, google, facebook, smartphones, etc. While true this I believe is in a whole new realm and has pushed the envelope even more.

And for the record I don't have a beef with Barbie or any other fashion type doll in general. I don't care for the Bratz or Monster High dolls -- mainly because I don't care for the make-up and look of them -- but Barbie and other fashion dolls are fine with me. -- I just don't like this Hello Barbie!

People need to start fighting back on the datamining and say NO more!

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November 22, 2015

Sunday Mass: Christ The King

Today is Christ The King

Today's Bible Readings:
  • First Reading: Daniel 7: 13-14
  • Responsorial Psalm: 1, 1-2, 5
  • Second Reading: Revelation 1:5-8
  • Gospel Reading: John 18:33-37
A video of today's Mass:

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November 12, 2015

Throwback Thursday: AFO, surgery, toe walking

It's Thursday. Many do a Throwback Thursday post, picture, etc.

I decided today to do a throwback: May need NEW Braces!?!?

Looking back and knowing my son today it's hard to believe that 6 years ago he had surgery to correct toe walking and spent a year in AFO.

Looking at him today and watching him you most likely would have no clue he had surgery to correct toe walking and wore AFO for a year.  There is no sign of this on him expect for some scars that are really not as noticeable now then they were a few years ago. Can thank puberty and "hairy man legs" for making the scars less noticeable.

Looking back at the old posting, photos, etc I'm just blown away by how well he recovered and how well he's doing all these years later.  I honestly forget sometimes that he had this done --- it's just amazing!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. See our full disclosure policy for more details.

November 9, 2015

Eagle Scout: Civil War

Eagle Project: Civil War Grave Stones
As I mentioned a few weeks back my son, Superstar, has made Life Rank.

Life Rank is one step below Eagle Scout. My son has 5 merit badges and 1 Eagle project to do to make Eagle Rank.

He is still not sure what to do for his Eagle project. We have been looking at the ideas at My Project Finder to try to get the ideas flowing.

He is unsure about his Eagle project at this point, but he does have a clear goal that he wants to be done with everything by his 17th Birthday so he has a shot at earning some Eagle Palms

Even though my son does not have an Eagle project, at this point, the Eagle project process does mean he has had the opportunity to help the older scouts on their Eagle projects.  One of the more recent Eagle scouts in my son's troop Eagle project was researching, finding, and requesting new grave stones for Civil War Vets in our local cemetery.

My son helped on a couple of the days needed to find the graves. The scout ended up submitting over 40 names to to have new grave markers -- markers that were never there to begin with or damage over the years -- and to date 9 of the graves markers have been approved and replaced.

Over the weekend there was a ceremony to mark the occasion.  It was after the ceremony and talking to the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, that were present, that we learned that during the Civil War they estimate that nearly 700 young women  served the military as soldiers.  This in today's time might not seem shocking, but remember in this era of American history women were not allowed to serve in the military and were not allowed to vote. If they were serving it was because they were disguise as men.  If they were voting it was because again they were living as a man and even their closet friends didn't know the truth of their gender.

I knew women did these things but I had no idea the number was as high as the Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War shared with us. They also told us the story of some women that even POST war kept on living a man and that how no one knew... for one local woman it really wasn't until she seriously injured in an automobile accident in 1910 that her secret came out.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. See our full disclosure policy for more details.

Do you have an Eagle Scout? Or almost Eagle Scout? What did you do for an Eagle project? What will you do for an Eagle project? What projects have the scouts in your troop recently do?

November 8, 2015

Teens and Messy Rooms

Oh the mountain of STUFF.  Stuff, stuff, stuff... thank goodness for doors and I can just close it off and not see it, but that doesn't really solve the issue.  Teens and Messy rooms.

We have always have had messy rooms... and over the years things like toy bins, storage carts, and other organizational tools have helped, but now it just seems the mess is just papers and other miscellaneous items that can't really be stored away in toy bins, storage carts, shoe boxes, etc.

Seeing we are young teens we are in that in between stage of toys and no toys. I want them, yet I don't, some of the items have been sitting in the bins and have a dust on them a mile high because we simply do not play with them like we use too, but we aren't quite ready to get rid of them --- because well some rainy day I might be board and decided to blow of the dust and actually play with them. It's weird stage.

Looking back at my own childhood I'm not even exactly sure when I got rid of the toys.... I know by the time I moved out -- I didn't have toys in my room anymore, but I really don't remember when I got rid of them. When I decided I really didn't want toys -- I remember getting movies, video games, and things of that nature as a teen along with clothing and I know toys weren't really on the list and I just don't remember when I got rid of the toys in my room.  I know I had them, I know I played with toys, I just don't remember when my personal space was purge of them.

So, I really don't know when my kids will feel the need to purge their own personal space from the toys either.  I don't know if we are there with them being 13/14. I don't know if I went to them and say how do you feel about that if they will be ready or feel pressure to do it.

I want them to be "kids" for as long as they want. I want them to feel secure and happy and I don't want to pressure them to get rid of things they simply are not ready for; it's a weird place to be.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. See our full disclosure policy for more details.

If your kids are older like mine when did they get rid of the toys? When did you get rid of the toys? How do you help your teen keep a cleaner room? Or are you like me: just close the door?

November 4, 2015

Warm Nov. Weather Means Homeschooling Outside

For the 3rd day in the row we have been having what I believe to be unseasonably warm weather for Northern Illinois.  Pant/T-shirt weather so today for the 3rd day in a row we have done what any other reasonable homeschooler would do in my shoes: Homeschool Outside!

We gathered up the magazine holders with our books, notebooks, and went outside to sit at the table and do our work.

Our dogs also have been enjoying the outdoor weather. We are still working with Onyx not to bark and all our neighbors. -- we just want him to be cool with the environment around him and only really bark and be on alert if someone is actually on on property.  It's a slow process -- some days are better then others.

I'm so thankful to be able to allow my daughter the ability to sit outside and enjoy these warm temps vs. being stuck in a classroom/school building all day. Hopefully I will be able to bring my son back home soon so he can enjoy these type of days again too.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. See our full disclosure policy for more details.

October 30, 2015

Lazy, Sleepy Day -- It's okay!

One thing I have learned over the years it's OKAY to have a lazy, sleepy day, week, month, etc.  It's okay not to do much. It's okay if all you did was math all day. It's okay if just watch a movie. It's okay if you.....

Really it is; one "slow and lazy day" is even more learning then what can be done in a public school setting. HONEST!! There is nothing wrong with having a sleeping, lazy, day or week.  As a homeschooler I set the pace, I set the schedule, I set the routines, etc. There is NO such thing as "behind"!!  There is no such thing as "catching up"!! If you want to sleep the day away with the dogs then do it.  Well granted you don't want everyday to be that -- because then you are going to be dealing with heart issues and sloth -- but if your week is slow that's okay, if your month is distracted because of the holidays or a new baby,  that's okay. If not much was done because illness that's okay!

Just pick up where you left off and go with it. You are NOT behind. You do NOT have catching up to do. Honest!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. See our full disclosure policy for more details.

Have you had a slow lazy day, week, month before? Do you feel like your behind? Leave me a comment!

October 29, 2015

Earning Money with Swagbucks and Ibotta

There are many apps and things available to earn money.  I personally have been using Swagbucks for about 2 years now and Ibotta for about 2 days.

With swagbucks you earn points that can be redeemed for gift cards. In the nearly 2 years I have used Swagbucks I have earned $65 worth of gift cards. I know that doesn't seem a lot, but I honestly don't use Swagbucks to it's full potential. The points I have earned have been primary via just regular everyday internet searching.  Looking something up gives me points. Not every search, but as I search through out the  the day I may get a pop up that said congratulations you have earned so many swagpoints.  This only works through swagbucks search bar or by making swagbucks your default search engine. I have made it my default search engine.

With swagbucks you can also earn point via surveys, watching videos, playing games, buying things online. Somethings I buy and get on and realized -- dang. I should have bought that online through swagbucks and would have gotten points.  Recently, that happened when I bought ink for my printer. If I would have remembered I could buy it via online and used the swagbucks portal I would have gotten points. I do sometimes print coupons via the swagbucks portal and when I do that I get the money off the item I'm buying just like any other online coupon you print, but I also get swagpoints added to my Swagbucks account. If I used it to it's fullest potential I would have earned more points and thus more gift cards.

Another app that that I recently have started using is Ibotta. Ibotta gives you rebates, cash, for items you buy at the store. If there is a rebate for it you have to claim it, scan the barcode, and take a picture of the receipt to verify you bought the item.  In the 2 days I have had the app I have earned $1 back in rebates -- and with a $10 min needed for payout it won't be long until I have an actual payout. With Ibotta you can either choose you payout to be in your Paypal account or in the form of gift cards for things like starbucks, amazon, or more.

Oh and what I have I been buying the last 2 days since using the app? Well I was out of bread, apples, and a few other things.  Got 40 cents back for those items -- at the local grocery store.   My son informed me last night he needed to bring cookies to school this morning, so I went to the store, bought cookies, looked on the Ibotta app -- rebate for cookies. got 20 cents back -- grand total now 60 cents.  My daughter didn't like what we had for lunch on hand, so I told her I would run her to dollar tree for a soup.  While there I realized I didn't have any dinner so I decided to buy some pasta and pasta sauce. looked on the Ibotta app, rebates for those items. So I got another 40 cents back -- grand total now $1.00.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something. See our full disclosure policy for more details.

October 23, 2015

Hackers: A huge downer to your day

Hackers A huge downer to your day 
Yeah that's right hackers! They can really mess up your day.

Yesterday, I woke up late. Well not that there is really such a thing as "late" when you homeschool, but my son isn't being homeschool right now (I wish that was different). I had to get him to the school yesterday morning for art club.

So I woke up realized it was 815 the same time he is due at the school. I asked him why he didn't get me up -- not that it is truly his job, but generally speaking when he's due somewhere he's sure I or hubby are ready to go. He hates being late (as do I).

"It was a simple I forgot that it was this morning, mom." So I quickly checked with him if he wanted to still be apart of art club. Yep, he does; he simply forgot. Do you still want me to take you even though you will be late this morning? Yep, I do.  As I grab my keys and head out the door -- my daughter announces we are out of cereal bars can you grab some? I tell her no, I'm not really dress for public. I just need to get him to the school and back home. I will go later.

On the way to the school I had a change of heart over the cereal bars. My daughter has been having dizzy spells and episodes of vision lost. We have seen some specialist and have come to the conclusion that the issue is she doesn't eat breakfast. She simply is not the breakfast eating type -- so cereal bars  have been working. It gets something in her and we haven't had issues with vision or dizziness. So, because I realized it would be better for her I decided I would do a quick stop at dollar tree. -- not what I normally do for cereal bars, but I knew they had them, the store is small, and it would be a quick in and out -- which is what I wanted seeing I wasn't truly dress for public.

I get to dollar tree, grab some cereal bars, go to to check out. card denied. What? Try again. card denied. I get on my phone check my bank account. I have money. Try again please.  Card denied.

So, here I am a hot mess -- not really dressed for public -- my card is not working. So what do I do? I call the bank. Bank "We need to come down". Okay.

I get there. They take me into the office. My card was flagged as hot.  There was transactions that the bank thought were not me. So we needed to verify some transactions. Did you spend xxxx at target? No, I did not.  Did you attempt to use the card here? Yes. that was me. Did you do this one?  I'm not sure. Maybe it was me? Where is that again? No. that's not me.

Okay, well we know that some of the transactions are fraud so we need to issue you a new card. You can either wait 7 days for the new card, or you can spend $8 for a new card today and it will be active and usable within the hour.  -- I will spend the $8 please. I need/want a card today. I do not want to go a week without one.  Okay Mrs. W just a few more questions, sign here, and you will be on your way.

This is the THIRD time this has happen to us. We quit using cards online because of the first 2 hacks. So this time we know, because this card is NEVER used online, it was hacked by someone local. We do not know who or where? Any time you go to the store, gas station, fast food, etc you run the risk of being hacked.  -- UGH it's so frustrating.

I already woke up late yesterday morning and what should have been a 20 min. thing taking the boy to school and running to dollar tree ending up being 3 hour ordeal and my whole morning was shot! Luckily, my daughter, who is still being homeschooled, can do her work independently mostly -- but still this was NOT how I wanted to spend my morning.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

So how did your day go? Did it go as planned? What do you do when things don't go as planned? Ever work up late? Leave a comment!

October 22, 2015

Announcment: He is a Life Scout Now

scouting is something that we love 

It seems that scouting has been going on longer in this household then the last 4 years.

4 years ago we joined cub scouts. He did NOT do much with the cub scouts other then go to den meeting because they all were bridging over to the TROOP in a few months from our joining.

We joined Oct 2011 and in Feb 2012 he bridged over to the troop.

Many camping trips, merit badges, and Order of the Arrow have all passed and he is officially a Life Scout!

The only rank left to earn is EAGLE SCOUT!!! He has to earn that BEFORE his 18th birthday.

In order to earn Eagle Scout he has to do an Eagle project and finishing up some Eagle required merit badges. Thankfully he has about 3.5 years until his 18th birthday to finish these things, but our goal is his 17th birthday because he would like the opportunity to earn Eagle Palms. You get Eagle Palms for earning more merit badges after you have become an Eagle Scout.

I'm happy that he has gotten this far and wants to continue his scouting journey even though it hasn't always been easy on us. It takes a lot of time and commitment to earn some of these merit badges not to mention all the camping trips. Sometimes we have had to turn down events and other activities because of a scouting event.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

Are you involved in scouting? Why? Why Not? If you are in scouting how much time until your son becomes a Life Scout? Is he already a Life Scout? Did he become an Eagle scout? What did you do for an Eagle project? What will you do? 

October 20, 2015

This is stupid. Can I bring him home now?

I just want him home! 
It's been no secret that I did not want to send my son to public school this year. It was done because my husband and I no longer agreed on what was the best course for our son in terms of his education.

From day one I have had issues.
  1. Not being allowed to go to orientation (students only)
  2. Loosing his paperwork -- (physical forms I submitted and having to get them again from the doctors office)
  3. History teacher handing out the books and telling them to put them in their lockers and do NOT take them out. -- I also have had other issues with how the history class is being taught
  4. Biology class having the kids go meatless for several days -- because eating meat wastes water and we need to "reduce" our water usage.
  5. The school not knowing he was on a school field trip and causing me to think (and notifying police) that my son was missing  -- I will take credit for forgetting this myself and not having it on our calendar -- but when I did the right thing and called the school they should have been able to tell me "Mrs. W. your son went on this field trip", or asked "Mrs. W, is it possible your son is on this after school field trip?" -- instead the school called the police on my behave to report him missing.  (This is part of the reason we decided to go with tracfone -- more on that in a future post)
  6. Common Core Curriculum in general plus the data mining that goes with it.  Yes the data mining is very real. I, just from the last 9 weeks, have evidence of that.
Our latest issue is that the school, well I guess it's really Illinois laws, is NOT being happy with our son's vax records. Actually, not being happy with the DATE he received his first varicella (chicken pox) vax. Apparently, Illinois immunization rules for schools states that the first dose of the varicella (chicken pox) vax needs to be on or after your child's first birthday.  My son received the vax 48 hours before his first birthday.  So now I have to get the doctor's office, and they are not being helpful, to write a letter saying my son is adequately immunized. If I fail to get this letter from the doctor within the month my son will no longer be allowed to go to school.

Part of me kind of wants to just be like fine and not go through all these hoops again. I like my doctor, but the staff seems to fall short. When the school lost the physical paperwork it took forever to get the doctor's office to get me what I needed and them faxing the doctor that did the physical because they were not in the office the day I went in, because that doctor needed to resign the new copies, etc.  What should have been a 5 minute thing took 2 days to straighten out.

This time around what should be a 5 minute thing has already taken 2 days and I still can't get the paper work I need from the doctors office.

I'm not pro or anti vax. Yes, my kids have had most of the recommended vax but I fully support parental right to choose. I personally don't care if you vax or don't vax your kids.  I do know whatever vax my kids received as babies, toddlers, and 48 hours before their first birthday have outlived it's course and no longer effective. So it should not matter what the date of his varicella vax was. It should not matter if it was ON his 1st birthday, 48 hours AFTER his 1st birthday, or, in our case, 48 hours BEFORE his 1st. Birthday. -- whatever benefits the vax had is long gone and that would hold true for whatever the date of this vax.

And while I'm not pro or anti vax I am fighting this some. I do not want to give my son another dose of the varicella vax just because his first dose was 48  hours before his 1st birthday.  Yesterday, my doctor wasn't in, so the PA was trying to tell me my son needed to be vax again. I said No, I just need a letter saying he has been adequately vax. They called back again and I said he need to be vax. I asked them can he get a titer test if the doctor won't make the letter and depending on the titer test go from there.  A titer test would show if he's got the antibodies and from there they can write a letter ... I figured the issue was they didn't want to just write a letter saying he was adequately vax.

My doctor was suppose to call me today, but instead they sent my son's shot records to the school --bang head -- It's not a question of having the shot records. The school has the records they just don't like the date of the first vax so I'm having to contact the doctor's office again and explain to them again what it is I want.  Sigh! I hate. This is stupid. Can I bring him home now?

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

October 16, 2015

Wait, we are sick? How to handle sick days

homeschool routines
Homeschool Sick Days 

Yes, Virginia homeschoolers get sick just like anyone else.

It's amazing what some people think. Oh you homeschool -- therefore you you shouldn't get sick.

I may homeschool, but I'm not necessarily home all day, every day. My kids are not necessarily home all day, every day. We do venture out into the world, going to parks, gardens, museums, zoos, gyms, etc.

We are really just normal people that do normal things and sometimes get sick just like anyone else.

When sickness hits the home it always leaves the questions, for many homeschoolers, especially newbies: Now what? How do we handle this? What about school work? Do we double up and play catch up? Do we just skip it not worry about it? What if not all the kids are sick? What if you are sick and the kids are fine? What do you do?

Well I tell you what I do. If any of us are sick we simply do not do school work that day. It doesn't matter if it's me, just one of the kids, both kids, etc. If anyone is sick we simply don't do school, book work, for the day. I also do NOT do catch up. If we miss day or two or a week or more it's okay!! No big deal we just pick up were we left off. No worries, No stress.  There is no need to play "catch up". You are in charge of your days, routines, schedule. -- there is NO need to play catch up. There is nothing to "catch up" to. I know this is mind blowing especially for the newbies seeing they, and I was one, are worried about keeping up with the public schools.

LISTEN, You do not have to keep up with the public schools. You can school on any day or time of day that works best for your family. You can homeschool on any number of days that work best for your family. Many homeschoolers I know homeschool ALL year round.  It's about developing routines that work for you and when something breaks up that routine and cause a bit of a monkey wrench, just going with the flow, until you can back to your more normal routines.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

How do you handle your sick days? Love to hear from you! Leave a comment!

October 15, 2015

Kitchen Table Is the Science Lab Table

science at home
Oh, that kitchen table and all its wonderful uses
Just like most homeschoolers time to time we do some science labs or experiments,

Sometimes they go really well and we have a great time doing them.

Some of our PASS science activities have been.

  1. Planting Socks
  2. Mealworms
  3. Learning parts of a flower.
  4. Trying different types of milk
  5. Making bio-plastic at home
  6. Extracting DNA from our cheeks
and more recently making Oobleck.

However NOT all science activities go well and the one this week just proves that point.

The activity is suppose to be making rust on the piece of steel wool. We set it up according the the directions in our science book, Science 7 for Young Catholics.  It's just not working. The instruction state to take some steel wool and make it stick to bottom of the jar with some clay or playdough, turn the jar upside down and place in a pan with some water. After a few days the water level in the jar should go up and the steel wool should have some rust on it. After nearly a week there has been no change.

I'm not sure what I did wrong. Maybe I don't have the right type of steel wool? Maybe I'm not giving it enough time -- but after a week I would like my kitchen table back. It's no fun eating dinner with the science project in the middle of the table.  At least this one isn't as messy or gross as some science projects can get.  Any insight on why it's not working? Are you doing any science experiments? If not actively doing one what was one of your favorite ones in the pass?  I did a quick periscope on how our current science experiment is failing. You can "katch" it here on my katch me page.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

Want to link it up?  Share your science experiments here:

October 12, 2015

Affordable Homeschooling

free homeschooling
Affordable Homeshooling and keeping it CCS-FREE
One thing homeschoolers love are FREE resources. However, with CCS (Common Core Standards) free might not be the best thing.  I haven't talked much about CCS, or at least not here on my blog, but I am a strong Anti-CCS supporter.  I believe CCS is meant to "dumb down America". I believe the public school system is broken and that no child should be in the system.

I believe that homeschoolers should fight to keep homeschool curriculum CCS-FREE and do their best to use CCS-FREE resources.

Thankfully we have resources like The Homeschool Resource Roadmap to help guide us and inform us of the CCS status of nearly 2,800 curriculum and resources options. I should disclose at this time that I have no financial gain from Homeschool Resource Roadmap, but I am an admin of  Christian Homeschool Oasis (CHO) , the facebook group, that was born in conjunction with Homeschool Resource Roadmap.

I see homeschoolers, in general, recommend things like Starfall, Khan, Spelling City, and others. These things are recommended because they are free, but they, in my opinion, are not the best options because of their CCS connections.

There are other resources that are CCS-FREE and good for the pocket book too. It just requires maybe looking a little bit deeper on the net, being okay with not being an exact copy of the CCS connected resource and sometimes being a little bit more involved and a little bit more planning on your part.

On today's periscope I talked about some of these things and as promise here are the links I mentioned:

What is CCS?

See Truth In American Education for more information.
Also this Youtube Video by NoTo CommonCore is helpful in answering the question: What is CCS?

Is the Curriculum/Site/Resource I want connected to CCS?

As I mention above The Homeschool Resource Roadmap is a good resource to find out if the curriculum/resource you are looking at has CCS connections. It is a database that is being added to and updated regularly that list the CCS status of nearly 2,800 items. Out of the the nearly 2,800 items listed about 60% of it is CCS-FREE (known as Independent on the Roadmap).
The Roadmap list things based on 4 categories
  • Independent
  • Correlated
  • Coincidentally Connected
  • Explicitly Aligned
Check out the roadmap. Nearly the whole site is free to access. The subject area where it takes the same info from the Common Core pages but list the resources based on subjects does require a ONE time fee.  Currently that fee is $4.99.  The Homeschool Resource Roadmap owner is thinking of raising the subscription in the next few months, but if you buy now you don't have to worry about that. Your subscription is a one time fee so if you you buy now at the $4.99 price you don't have to worry about the price going up -- seeing you already have access. 
Why have a subscription to the subject area if I can access the common core page for free? Well the simple answer is the the common core page requires you to know the name of the product you are looking for.  With the subject area you don't need to know the name of the product you just have to know the subject you want.. If I'm looking for math options then I would look under the math section.

Okay so I have decided I want to keep my homeschool curriculum CCS-FREE now what? 

Now you use the Roadmap to find CCS-FREE materials, but I will give you some pointers to start with. 
Instead of Starfall maybe Mighty Book or Kiz Phonics or Sight and Sound Reading or Progressive Phonics. Instead of Spelling City/Vocab maybe Spelling Help Online or AAA Spell. Instead of Khan (math) maybe XtraMath or AAA Math or CIMT.

Missed my live periscope? "Katch" the replay on katch.me or watch the embedded video below.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

October 5, 2015

My homeschooling is NOT a reflection of you

periscope broadcast
My homeschooling is NOT a reflection of you
So I did it! I took the plunge and did my very first periscope. I will admit it's not very good. I was nervous, thoughts I had planned out in my head didn't come out of my mouth.

It's it funny how you can have a whole conversation in your head and when it's time to speak you loose it.

Things to do different next time:

  • make a list of power points I want to talk about. Actually write it down!
  • have more a prep time. I decided last night I was really going to do this thing and picked this morning as the date. What I should have done was give myself more time to focus in on what I wanted to discuss.
In the grand scheme of things it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't what I planned on in my head.  I was going to focus on how my homeschooling is not a reflection on you and I was going to address what to do with those awkward moments when you tell someone you homeschool and they give you a litany of reasons they don't homeschool. Or how your homeschooling can be different from other homeschoolers and they or you shouldn't feel bad for not homeschooling the same way even if using the same materials.

I wanted to point that you shouldn't feel bad for choosing to homeschool that even when you are 8 years into it, like me, you are still going to be faced with people that will give you a litany of reasons why they can't homeschool, or all of the sudden get defensive. It's okay they do that. You don't have to take it personal. Just know that what I'm doing with my children is not a reflection of you and your parenting, your choices, and your lifestyle.

That is where I wanted to go that is where I wanted to talk about, but I spent more time rambling about why my son is in public school this year and myself then anything else. The result really of not being fully prepared for today.

See for yourself! You can "katch" the replay on my katch me page or you can see it below. 

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

September 30, 2015

Just a homeschooler - Not a know it all

not a know it all
Just a homeschooler - Not a know it all
Homeschoolers by nature, I think, are genuinely helpful people, enjoy helping others, enjoy giving advice, enjoy giving out pointers, and being there for others.  I know this to be true because of my blog, other homeschoolers blogs, and being apart of the homeschooling community for the last several years. It's great to have friends (even if they are just on facebook) to turn to for help, advice, tips, support, etc.  It's great knowing depending on the platform, group, or forum you can have access to 10, 20, 50, 100, 5,000 or even 20,000 plus other homeschoolers. Homeschoolers that might not share all your values, but they have one thing in common with you: They homeschool and love their children. Okay 2 things in common....

With all this access I see a disturbing trend:  Expecting these homeschooling friends, groups, forums, to be your ONE stop shop for EVERYTHING! Expecting these circles to essentially be your research department, your doctor, your gardening expert, your bug expert, your --- do I dare say --- your GOOGLE!

This is very frustrating! While homeschoolers are helpful, willing to help, they are not experts on every topic.  Need to know what type of bugs those are? Google, search a bug ID site, ask a local bug guy, go to the library get bug ID books. Need to know what type of apples that tree is and if they are edible? Go ask a local small business, family owned, apple orchard, seek out library books, seek help from a gardening or canning group.  Need help ID mushrooms.... well you get the point.

I'm just seeing a trend where to many people expect other homeschoolers do things that they should be able to do themselves.  -- Part of homeschooling is teaching your child how to research things, how to find information, know where to turn when you don't know the answers. While your peers might be helpful on giving you pointers on where to find information they should NOT be called upon for the answers for everything under the sun -- unless they are experts, it's their hobby, etc.

When I looked into homeschooling several years ago I read either in a book, blog, website or newspaper article -- okay maybe not a newspaper article -- that homeschoolers like to be helpful, but they don't want to be bothered with questions you can find yourself.  They rather you spend time trying to research it, find the answer yourself, and if you can't then ask for help.

When I first read it I thought it was referring to homeschooling laws, curriculum, schedules, routines, etc. Now, I think it means much more then that. It means stop relying on your homeschool circles to be your Google and stop asking them for  help for things that are better suited in other forums and quit "hiding" behind the label while it's for school there for it apply to homeschooling.

I've been in this game for a long while. I know that homeschooling is a lifestyle and under that premise anything under the sun is really apart of the homeschooling -- but use some common sense. You wouldn't go to the auto shop looking for a bug exterminator. You wouldn't go to drug store and ask to speak to the pharmacist about your car issues.  While I love all of  you and I'm glad to help when I can and will continue to do so: I'm just a homeschooler - Not a know it all!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

September 24, 2015

Fast line to the driving years

teen drivers
Driving in the fast lane
It's hard to believe that I'm within a year of having my children be at least student drivers with learning permits.  This notion scares me.

1. My kids old enough to drive?
2. I'm not old enough to have children drivers.
3. I'm not ready for this.

Did I mention I'm not old enough to have children drivers?  My son 14 is counting down the days for when he's eligible to get his permit. Once that happens it won't belong for my daughter because they are only 10 months apart.  I'm not ready for this!!

In addition to being ready for this my children have said things recently when driving around that honestly scares me and makes me wonder if they are really ready for this.  For example while returning from home from the grocery store, my daughter exclaims "There's a corn field there? When did that get there? Has it always been there?"  Or getting out of the car from the store parking lot "As those houses always been there?"  My son is also asking similar questions.  Ummm --- hello we have lived in this area for practically your whole life. These things have always been here -- well some of of them are new, but I promise you the cornfield has always been there and I promise you those house have been there for as long as you can remember -- meaning they were built when you were babies -- but that was nearly 15 years ago -- so yeah they have pretty much been there.

Then I pointed out how those storage sheds across from the corn field are new, they are being built now, only to be met with "There is a construction site there too?"  Oh good gravy --- what am I going to do? This is an area you are familiar with, we drive these roads often -- what's going to happen when it's NOT a familiar road, path, surrounding? I am sincerely worried. Why haven't my children been more aware of their surroundings until now.

There is a construction site in front of the Wal-Mart here now. Nothing has happened yet just a fence around some grass with a sign that states it's a construction site and you need permit to enter within the fence area. Giving my children's lack of awareness I made a point to make them aware of the the construction site.  "Look, kids that is a construction site. That means something will be built there" Last thing I need is to go to Wal-Mart one day with them only to hear them say "When did that get here?"

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.

September 23, 2015

The amazing transformation from liquid to solid

Amazing transformation from liquid to solid
Today in science we discussed the difference between: solid, liquid, gas, and plasma.  We also learned about amorphous.  Amorphous is the state where an object is not really a liquid or solid. It's in between.  An example of this is glass and while we don't think of glass as being amorphous it really is and that's why windows that are REALLY, really old are thinner at the top and thicker at the bottom. The glass after several years (hundreds) will slowly shift to the bottom. The glass in your windows at home are doing this now, but -- you really can't see it.

One thing you can do, at home, to help illustrate this point even though it's NOT a true amorphous solid (it's a non-newtonian fluid) is to make oobleck.  Oobleck is made with two common household ingredients: water and corn starch and get its name form the Dr Suess' book Bartholomew and the Oobleck.

Oobleck is about 1 part corn starch to about 1.5/2 parts water, meaning if you use 1 cup corn starch you will want use about 1.5 to 2 cups water. If you use 3 cups corn starch you will want to use 4.5 to 6 cups water. This is a fun thing for even your teens to play with!!!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a commission if you click a link and purchase something.
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