Friday, September 27, 2013

Well Planned Day planner Sale!!

HEDUA is having a sale on their Well Planned Day planners!  As I've said before, I love these planners.  I plan everything with mine from lesson plans to meals to family outings.  Starting Monday, September 30 until October 31, the Family Homeschool planner is on sale for 40% off!  That means that instead of $26.95, it's only $16.17!!

Go check out the sale and take advantage of their free downloads while you're there.  One is the Chore chart.  I don't know about you, but I can always use a good chore chart.  Even if it's just to list everything that needs to be done every day, it all seems to get done better and more quickly if its written down to be crossed off.
Chore Chart

There's also a Meal Planner.  Planning meals ahead helps so much with organizing your day and budgeting.  I plan leftovers to help with costs.  For instance, I might bake a ham on Sunday.  Then one night we might have mac & cheese with ham & veggies added in.  I might make ham salad for lunches.  Ham & cheese biscuits make a great on the go breakfast.  Using the Meal Planner allows me to know ahead of time what I'm making so that I can take advantage of weekly grocery sales.
Meal planner

So, go visit Home Educating Family and tell them I sent you!  Click MY LINK  and use code NEVERTOOLATE for 40% off!

Friday, September 20, 2013

My Day at the Co Op

Wednesday was the best day at home school co op because I did six things for art,  make that seven things at the home school co op.  As you can tell by the photos its great.  I think you will like them and if you do just post on my blog.

This is a Missouri map that I made in home school co op on this last Wednesday.  This was for my Travelling the USA class.  We made the map by ourselves.  We're learning about Missouri and about the Mississippi & Missouri rivers.

This is a tornado that I made at home school co op last Wednesday in my Natural Disasters class.

This is the turkey story I wrote in Listening to Fall.

This is my recipe box that I made in my Yummy Yummy Turtles class.  We made 2 different kinds of turtle candies.  The first was a pretzel with a Rolo candy melted on top of it and a pecan on top of that.  The second was pecans with caramel and chocolate melted on top.  They were both really good and Mom says that we can make some for Christmas gifts.

This is my pumpkin story that I also wrote in my Listening to Fall class.

I like my co op classes a lot because I learn a lot.  They have interesting classes and I get to meet other kids.  Do you guys like going to co ops?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

And the winner is. . .

Jessica Anderson!!

Congratulations to Jessica.  And to everyone else, thanks for entering!  If you'd still like to purchase a planner, click on the picture below 

Friday, September 13, 2013

HEDUA sale

Home Educating Family (HEDUA) is having a big sale on their magazine.  This is an awesome magazine with TONS of useful articles for homeschooling families. Through Monday, 9/16/13, you can use code MAG35SEP to get 35% off a 1 year subscription.  That makes the cost for 1 yr only $16.25!!  Click HERE to get your subscription now!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A+ Interactive Math Giveaway

Disclosure:  There are affiliate links within this blog post.

A+ Interactive Math is having a Fabulous Fall 40% off sale!

You will save $50 off the regular price ($124.99)  of their Online curriculum making it only $74.99.

There is more to the "Fabulous Fall 40% Sale":

Use my affiliate code KRMATTOX and you'll save an additional 20% allowing you to buy an entire YEAR of A+ Interactive Math for only $59.99!!

What a great deal!!
The giveaway begins today and runs through September 21st so make sure you enter below!!

You can read about my thoughts on the program in my review here. 
We are so pleased with the program - Math really doesn't have to make you cry!

Co ops - Thoughts?

Mariah started a homeschool co op yesterday.  She absolutely loved it!!  She's going every Wednesday and has 3 classes each week.  She'll have a history class in the morning and then the afternoon classes will vary between math, art, literature and cooking.  She wants to go every day now!

It started me thinking - have I made the right decision in homeschooling her?  Should she really be in a public school with more kids and interaction with more adults?  Would that make things better or worse for her?  She seemed to thrive yesterday and really came out of her shell.  There weren't the tears and drama that we have at home with math.  She had class for an hour and a half and managed to get through 5 worksheets!  That's about 5 more than she gets through at home in that time.  Maybe the critics are right and I'm just not qualified to teach her at home.

But then it hit me that if she was in school, we wouldn't have the time together that we do.  I love my time with my daughter.  Tomorrow, we're having a 'birthday party' for her doll.  She wants me to make peanut butter & jelly finger sandwiches, tea, and an apple cake with cinnamon glaze.  I know she's 10, but I won't have this time with her much longer.  Maybe I'm being selfish, but I still think that homeschooling is better for her.  She wouldn't get the individual instruction like she does here.  Even in the co op, there are only a few kids in each class so she gets a lot more instruction that she would in a regular classroom.

Any thoughts from other moms struggling with the same thing??

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

So what do you do when. . .?

Homeschooling can really be hard sometimes.  Sometimes YOU don't feel good.  Sometimes your child is sick.  Sometimes you have WAY too much on your to do list for that day to sit and work on division.  Sometimes your child just plain doesn't want to do anything but play.  What do you do then??  PUNT!!

We've run into most of these problems in the past week.  I had a bad case of the flu one day and pretty much slept the day away.  Unfortunately, Rich had things that he could not put off doing and was gone most of the day.  Mariah still had schoolwork.  I also have an online shop with a couple of friends that is really starting to take off. (Just in case you're curious)  We had a FB party a couple of weeks ago and had several orders as well as game prizes that were given away.  Plus, we're still unpacking LOTS of boxes from moving.  So my To Do List is about a mile long.  Top that off with Mariah deciding that she just didn't feel like doing any schoolwork for a couple of days.  Oy vey!!

Thankfully, we have created several options for these kinds of days, since they seem to crop up when we're not looking.  First, we have a box of rainy day stuff.  These are school activities that can be done in one day.  I print up Express lapbooks from AJTL that Mariah can do alone if she needs to.  They're $1 each and she enjoys them.  I have printed worksheets from that are fun to do.  You can print a certain number free each month.  After that, it's $4.99 a month for a membership.  They have just about any subject you can think of!  There are also books in there that Mariah has found at library and garage sales that she can sit in her reading corner and read in one day.

Another option is the computer.  To begin with, Mariah does part of her schoolwork with websites online.  Grammar is done with  It's a fun way to teach grammar and she can do it alone.  She also uses for math.  It has videos and interactive worksheets as well as printables so she can do it alone most days. is another fun website she uses.  Its a safe haven for girls to chat and play games, build their own houses & shops, take care of virtual pets.  The games are educational and they earn scoops to 'buy' things for their houses, shops, & pets.  You can also set up a reward system or party favors for friends and nieces.   The chat room is VERY well monitored.  The girls are not allowed to give their city, state, school name, or last name.  If they do, the post is instantly pulled and they get a nice reminder message from the monitor.  There is also a boys version called

Mariah loves art so we have the entire set of Mike's Inspiration Station videos.  She can always do an art lesson on her own too!

So, you aren't alone.  We all have days where things just don't gel.  The way to get past that is to have a backup plan.  Some kind of activity that your child can do on their own with some monitoring from you.  Does anyone else have any ideas??  They're always welcome - you can never have too many backup plans!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

So, homeschooling is easy, right?

For those of you new to homeschooling, it can be quite a challenge.  Especially if you don't have anyone to talk to about it.  When we first started, Mariah kicked and screamed.  She wanted nothing at all to do with learning.  Once she realized that she wasn't flunking everything we did, she started to get into the routine and actually liked it.  Our biggest problem is that she doesn't want to do anything that takes more than a few minutes of hard work.  We have battled over that for a couple of years now.

I have finally come to the conclusion that this is NOT school at home.  It is home school.  We have her room set up with a computer and a large table.  I took an old dining room table that sits 8 people and painted the top with chalkboard paint.  She likes lists.  She likes to cross things off as they are done.  So, every morning I write out a list of what she needs to do that day on her table.  It looks something like this:

  1. Get dressed, brush your teeth, brush your hair, fold up your blankets.  (Mariah has chosen not to have a bed for now.  Instead, she sleeps on a pile of blankets laid out on the floor.
  2. Eat breakfast.
  3. Do 1 video & 1 worksheet in A+Tutorsoft.
  4. 15 minute break
  5. Do 2nd video & worksheet
  6. 15 minute break
  7. Do 3rd video & worksheet
  8. Lunch
  9. Read 1 chapter in Mia & the Mix
  10. 15 minute break
  11. Do the next town in
  12. 15 minute break
  13. Subject of your choice (writing, spelling, science, etc)
I have found that frequent breaks throughout the day make for fewer tears along the way and better concentration in the long run.  

This works for Mariah.  It may not work for your child.  The point is, you need to find a system that works best for you.  Mariah likes to sit outside to do whatever work she can.  She takes her snack & drink out onto the patio and does her work.  When she reads, she sits in the corner on top of her blankets.  She has her favorite dolls and stuffed animals sitting in chairs, pillows, etc. in a circle around her and reads out loud to them.  She makes a list of the words she has trouble with and we use those for vocabulary.  

I make it as comfortable and as fun as I can.  If we've had a good week and she's made progress in everything, then we take Fridays for arts & crafts.  Mariah LOVES artwork and we use the set of Mike's Inspiration Station videos.  The best part is that I do as many of her subjects as I can along with her.  We do artwork together.  We sign together along with the Signing Times videos.  Some books we read together.  Sometimes, we take our 'classroom' and go to Panera for coffee, hot chocolate, and a muffin (her favorite is the carrot cake muffin).  

Homeschooling is your world.  Do with it what you want!  Then come here and talk about it.  I love sharing ideas & tips and getting new ones from people I talk with!


Over the last 3 years, I have struggled and struggled with finding just the right day planner. I've tried pocket calendars, notebooks, the expensive kind that you refill the calendar every month. I've even tried electronic ones on my Nook! I didn't like any of them. All of them only addressed a part of what I needed to plan. Until I came across the Well Planned Day planners. They are awesome! Everything you need is right there. And, it not only comes in a paper version, but an electronic version as well!! And, it's great not just for planning your days, but also for homeschooling. I was able to plan out our days, incorporating Mariah's schoolwork, chores, my own work, and still see that we had time for fun stuff!  

This planner not only has calendar pages with lots of room to write, but lots more too! It has a page to write your favorite family memories for the year. 

It has pages to put in class plans.

It has pages for recording grades, report cards that can be taken out, and attendance reports.

It has shopping lists, books to enjoy inspirational stories & notes.  It is just chockful of pages to fill out & use.  

And right now, they're having a sale!  For the next few days, all their planners are 30% off!!  Go on, take a look, browse around.  Click HERE and have fun!  Then come back here and share some thoughts!

Did you know that HEDUA has an affiliate program? If you are a blogger and would be interested in earning money just for sharing what you love click here for details:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


One of the curriculums that we love is lapbooks.  You can find a lapbook on almost every subject you can imagine!  A lot of them are free, a lot of them aren't.  We've used lapbooks from several different companies, but have found that the most user friendly, especially for new lapbook users, are the ones from A Journey Through Learning.  We have done a number of them, including an express lapbook on cooking, one on the Christmas holidays, and one on Knights & Medieval Times.  The ladies at ATJL are wonderful - friendly and VERY helpful!  We are currently doing a 14 folder lapbook on astronomy , using the Apologia textbook Exploring Creation with Astronomy.  

Lapbooks are great teaching tools, using as few or as many supplies as you want.  You can get extremely creative and use paint, glitter, scrapbooking supplies or you can go simple & just use file folders, glue sticks & a stapler.  It is completely your choice!  Mariah has a thing about lapbooks.  She loves doing them, but she doesn't like the actual file folders.  So, instead, we put everything on copy paper, place the pages in page protectors, and then place them in a binder.  This also makes storage easier as you can have one binder for each subject - holidays, presidents, science, etc.  

AJTL has a number of express lapbooks for $1 each.  These can be done in one day and are great for filling in when you've come to the end of a unit but want to wait a couple of days before you start a new one.  We did one on cooking.  Mariah made out a menu and a grocery list.  We then went to the grocery store where she learned to compare prices and used her coupons.  She made a baked taco ring for dinner and an angel food pineapple cake for dessert.  She enjoyed it so much that we've incorporated it into our schoolwork & she does one meal a week all by herself!

Every month, they offer several $5 lapbooks.  September's lapbooks are Harvest Time  and Hurricanes.

Since we enjoy their lapbooks so much, I have become an affiliate for A Journey Through Learning.  Click on the banner here on my blog and we will both win - you get a new adventure at a sale price & I get a commission when you buy a lapbook!  Even better yet, you can join the affiliate program and earn a commission yourself on a product that you will truly come to love using.  

Right now, AJTL is having a 50% off sale on their downloadable lapbooks.  Until September 8, click on one of the links below, use code BacktoSchool at checkout & get 50% off on any instant download lapbook (except Geography Matters).  So, go browse through their website, look at all they have to offer.  If you need an idea where to start, one of their lapbooks for September is a School Year Journal.

Whatever you decide on, come back & let us know.  We can share ideas and talk about different lapbooks and how to do them.  Try something new & different today!!


Math program

Like I said earlier, Mariah seriously struggles with math.  We can do great one day and the next she has no clue how to add 2+2.  After trying workbooks, software, manipulatives, and everything else we could think of, we have finally found a system that seems to be working.

  We are concentrating on math for one month.  We break it up with reading, art, and co op classes, but the majority of our day we are immersed in math.  We have a notebook with charts and tables.  We have posters on the wall with place values and other reminders.

 And we are using A+ Interactive math software.  It is awesome!

  They have online videos and worksheets, or cds and workbooks you can order.  They have placement tests so you can see where you need to start with your child.  They even have a free one month trial period so that you can make sure it really works for you before buying it!

 The cost is minimal - downloadable version is $12 a month, $30 a quarter, or $99.99 for a full year!

I like this program so much that I became an affiliate.

Use my special discount code: KRMATTOX at checkout and receive an additional 20% off
(even of the sale prices!)

Here is a link for a great newsletter that may help you out with the math tears

Whatever you choose, good luck!  Share it here and we can help each other out with those math tears!

It's hard to remember this sometimes.  When you see that your 10 yr old is struggling with making friends, when you see her crying in her bedroom because she's lonely, the easy answer is to do what other parents do.  The hard answer is to let God lead you to where she needs to be.  But the hard answer is worth it in the end.  Nothing that comes easy is worth the same as something you worked hard for.

The adventure begins!

First, some background about us and our experiences homeschooling.  We started homeschooling three years ago, when Mariah finished 2nd grade.  Our public school experience had been a rollercoaster ride the entire time we were there.

We started out in preschool in Omaha, NE.  Mariah was an EXTREMELY active child who could not speak so that you could understand her.  She talked constantly!  She moved even more!  But since you couldn't understand anything, there were tears and meltdowns.  The school tested her and she was diagnosed with severe ADHD.  Her preschool experience was really nothing more than intense speech therapy.  By the end of the year, we could understand all but a few words.  But somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew that there was still something we were missing.  Because of a family emergency, we had to move back to IL at the end of May.

Kindergarten started in Steger, IL.  Mariah was placed in a Special Ed classroom.  Mariah is an only child and, unfortunately, we have never lived anywhere where there were other kids for her to play with.  Her only playmates were her cousins (all but one of which are younger than her), adults, and her imaginary friends.  Her 'friends' are the characters from her favorite TV shows.  Her class was made up of seven students - herself, her one older cousin (who she does not get along with), and five boys.  At playtime, she chose to play school in the corner with her imaginary friends rather than with the rest of the class.  To make matters even worse, there had been a major disaster at home and , through NO fault of his own, her daddy had been taken away from us for awhile.  Rich is mentally disabled and therefore I have always worked to support us while he stayed home taking care of Mariah.  He was gone from us for seven months.  To a five year old who has been uprooted, had to give away the majority of her toys, and then have her primary caretaker suddenly disappear - this is catastrophic!  Her teacher and social worker could not comprehend all of this and tried to label her as being schizophrenic.  They sent us to a child psychiatrist who, after several hours of evaluation with her, flatly told the social worker that she was NOT schizophrenic.  Instead, she had a severe case of ADHD & mild autism.  She was extremely intelligent, just could not communicate her needs to us in a way that we could understand so she used her 'friends' to do so.  The school still didn't get it.  At our last IEP meeting, I was told that she was only learning at a 2 year old learning level and would never advance beyond that.  One week later, she was going to an independent learning center for the remainder of kindergarten.  By the end of summer, she knew her numbers, letters, colors, shapes, days of the week, months, etc.

First grade was in Peotone, IL.  Remember that major disaster I told you about?  Well, it resulted in us borrowing a small motor home from a friend and living in a campground for about 6 months.  Technically, we were homeless.  The school in Peotone was marvelous and if all public schools were that good, homeschooling would never have been an issue.  They have no Special Ed classes.  All students are in mainstream classes and are pulled out of class for any extra help they may need.  At the beginning of the year, Mariah scored 0 for all tests.  By the end, she scored 9 out of 10 on almost every test!  It was amazing.  My child loved to learn and learned very well!  The only issue was math.  We ended up in tears every time we tried to do math.  She was also evaluated during the year by a group specializing in autism.  After that evaluation, we got a definite diagnosis of PDD-NOS.  She has about half the markers of Autism Spectrum Disorder and a little more than half of Asperger's.

Just before Christmas, Rich & I sat down and did some serious soul searching.  We had gotten his back pay from SS and with some budgeting and downsizing, I was able to quit my job where I worked 60 hours a week in downtown Chicago (2 hours away) and stay home to help Mariah.  We started looking for a house that we could afford and still live on just his monthly SS.  After the holidays that year, we bought a house in unincorporated Manteno, IL, a small town next to Peotone.  Because we were exactly halfway between the two schools, we appealed to Peotone's school district to let her stay there.  We had been driving her to school every day the 2nd half of the year and would gladly continue to do so.  Unfortunately, we were denied.  She was inside the border for the Manteno school district and would have to go there.

Mariah was placed in a classroom with 22 other students.  At least half of them had some type of learning disability.  She had two co-teachers, one of which was a Special Ed teacher, and a full time teacher's aide.  We had an IEP in place with what I thought was a good plan.  By the middle of the school year, things started to fall apart.  I had to fight weekly with the school to get them to do what was in her IEP.  Mariah came home daily in tears saying that she had flunked again.  Every morning was a battle to get her to go to school.  At our last IEP meeting of the year, we were told that she would be placed in a Special Ed classroom the next year.  In Manteno, the classroom is completely segregated from the rest of the school.  They don't even go to lunch with the other kids.  This was completely unacceptable to me.  Mariah didn't need to be placed in a seperate room, the teachers needed to find a way to teach her!  Thus, we began our homeschooling adventures.

For the first year, we simply had fun learning, making Mariah eventually come to love learning again.  I heard all the negatives every step of the way - 'she won't get enough interaction with other kids', 'you aren't qualified to teach her'.  I could not find a co op or other support group for us to join.  We had tried Girl Scouts but Mariah had a hard time with the activities and the other girls thought she was weird.  I started searching for groups online and found several great groups on Facebook - Special Needs Homeschooling, A Journey Through Lapbooks, Home Educating Family, just to name a few.

The second year, we started to seriously do schoolwork.  I set up lapbooks and software for us to do in all the core subjects.  Mariah was doing well, but I wondered if we were missing something.  I just didn't feel like she was getting a good enough education.  I started looking at the boxed curriculum.  I found several that we really liked.  The problem was that they were all way beyond our budget.  $1300 a month didn't leave a lot for spending several hundred dollars on curriculum so we continued to use the library, free curriculum, and the few things that I could afford to pay for at that time.

Throughout all of this, we have remained a deeply faith-driven, Christian family.  We know that God has a purpose for us and we pray daily that we live our lives to that purpose.  God has chosen a path for us and we try very hard to follow it.  We have sold our house and moved to St. Charles, MO.  We  have found a wonderful church and a homeschool co op that Mariah is anxious to start in.  I am looking for a part time job to make ends meet as things are more expensive here than we had arranged back home.  Together with my friends Dee & Lynn, we opened an online shop - where we sell the things that we make.  Follow along with us as we continue our journey through homeschooling.  Ask questions, make suggestions, and pray along with us!