Something to Celebrate

Holidays To Be Celebrated in February

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you may remember the Something to Celebrate series I wrote in 2021. The reason I decided to do a series is because 2020-2021 took many of our celebrations, festivals, and fun things away, and celebrating something was an alternative way to create our own fun. The other reason is that the years (especially the teen years) fly by! I looked outside of the box to combine fun days that were already on the calendar with educational opportunities for our last few years of homeschooling, and the series was born!

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Something to Celebrate

My Word of the Year

Usually around October, I start thinking about the upcoming year. Maybe because I find myself wanting to just skim the surface of the rest of the “-ber” holidays and begin the new year. This year I chose the word Leap, for obvious and not so obvious reasons.

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I struggle with resolutions for the new year, because resolutions are too rigid. I’m a lot like most people – I have good intentions that stick for two to three weeks, and then I mess up, so I give up. The cool thing about choosing a word of the year is because it brings into focus what I want to accomplish or want to work on without the “rules” of a resolution. I think of it as somewhat of a mental mentor throughout the year. And this year the word is Leap.

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Fun Things - Field Trips, Games, Creative Ideas

25 Easy Advent Box Ideas

The countdown to Christmas advent box was never really a tradition in our home, rather something I inconsistently did from time to time. While my intentions were always in the right place, I sometimes forgot to fill it, or didn’t follow through with the activity behind the door, or I just wasn’t prepared. I let our box fade away for several years until……

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Fun Things - Field Trips, Games, Creative Ideas, Putting the Fun in Homeschooling

Artist-themed Art Projects for Fall

“As long as autumn lasts, I shall not have hands, canvas and colours enough to paint the beautiful things I see.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Isn’t that just beautiful? I feel the same, but fail to have the eloquent wording, or the painting skills like Van Gogh, but it certainly makes for a better intro than my southern greeting, “happy fall, y’all”! I really am a fall-lover, a lover of artsy things, and I’ve got several ideas, (four tried and true, because I have more ideas than time) for your fall art projects! Most of these projects are perfect for younger kids, bigger kids, and the moms or dads who want to join in!

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Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

How to Create a Homeschool Master Binder

I’m not the most organized person. In fact, I’m one of those people who has no set system, a little messy at times, yet can put my hands on something fairly quickly. My kids school papers are all over the place (one has even graduated), and I don’t claim to “have it together”, because I absolutely do not. BUT, when I discover something that has consistently worked, and I feel better about myself for doing it, I want to tell the world! (Or anyone who will listen to me making a big deal about it.) What am I talking about? A Master Binder, of course!

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It’s a hybrid! Watch the video, or read the blog post.

Master Binder – The Big 3

I like simple and practical, or else I’ll never use it, just collect it. There are three things (a prerequisite that I just made up), that I strive to stick to for items in our homeschool, or things that enter our home for that matter.

It must be uncomplicated, suit my needs, and be pretty.

The Binder – I like the heavy duty ones with a front pocket, and possibly a pocket or two on the inside. It needs to last!

Sheet Protectors – there’s some important stuff in there, so I protect it!

Dividers, or some kind of binder folder with pockets and holes.

I place a title page in the pocket on the front, complete with school name and mascot. A mascot or logo sounds kind of silly, but we’ve had one for years. We’re the Stingrays. I actually put some thought into it years ago, but I’ll save that story for another time.

Our state of North Carolina has just a few requirements of things to keep on hand: disease immunization chart, annual attendance records for each student, and we also have to keep the results from our annual standardized achievement tests for at least one year.

Inside the Master Binder

The Master Binder is not a lesson planner, which I use daily. The Master Binder is used for administrative papers, as well as other things I may only use annually or seasonally. It’s good to have all that stuff together when you need it! Here’s what’s inside of mine:

  • The official homeschool registration record – issued to me by the NCDNPE.
  • Community college info that my son is enrolled in.
  • Our academic school year calendar. I printed off a free one from
  • The local public school calendar. So I know when not to plan a field trip or vacation.
  • Attendance record. I use the one provided by the NCDNPE.
  • Curriculum/Supplies shopping list. You can find these in my Free Resource Library.
  • Class schedule (if you have one). It took me years, but I finally got something that worked well for our family. Now that my son is in 12th grade, I just give him his assignments, and he creates his own schedule.
  • Printables I have made. These include things like a lunch crate loop, end of year evaluation, vocabulary games, banish the blahs ideas, road trip games, noticing nature checklist. They can be used anytime during the year, and are all available in my Free Resource Library!
  • National Day/Notable Birthday Lists – I made these a couple of years ago, and refer to them often. They’re also in the Free Resource Library!
  • I keep homemaking/housekeeping printables in the back for myself.

I also have a 6 pocket binder folder that holds answer keys. The other pockets are labeled fall, winter, spring, summer. I use these for printables, unit studies, future field trip brochures, or ideas for that particular season. The extra pocket is of course a miscellaneous pocket. People like me must have a miscellaneous pocket or file! (And it’s usually full!)

Not in the Master Binder

You may have noticed I did not include a grade book, reading lists and logs, field trips we go on, volunteer work, or that sort of thing. That’s because I’ve been using HomeschoolMinder for years. I love it, and the platform passes my three prerequisites of being uncomplicated, meets my needs, and is pretty. Really, the reports this program can print out are both professional & pretty!

Master of the Master Binder

If you are just starting your homeschool journey, I highly recommend going ahead and getting things together from the start! (Take it from me!) If you are late to get on the organization bus, you’re not really late. It’s easy to put one of these together in under an hour! Customize it to fit the needs in YOUR homeschool, YOU are the master after all!

For scheduling tips/chaos control, check out this post. It contains several ideas that may help your homeschool! Also, grab those free printables! Keep those plates spinning, homeschool mom or dad – you’ve got this!

Our Homeschool Curriculum/Mid Year Check Ins

What We’re Using for 12th Grade Curriculum

It’s true that education isn’t something you can finish; however, this is the last year I get the fun job and honor of choosing what my own kid will be learning in our homeschool. I don’t know if I’m ready for this, but I might as well be! So, without further ado, here are our homeschool curriculum choices for 12th grade! (I’ll save my mini soapbox speech for the end.)

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Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

A Belated Gift for the Graduate

Most of the time I blog to help homeschoolers. Whether it be through a product review, an idea that worked for our family, or to offer some kind of encouragement. Once in a while, I enjoy writing about something personal, not directly related to homeschooling, but life in general. Keyword placement and SEO rules are thrown out the window, and I just write. This is one of those times.

During my daughter’s 10th grade year, I began thinking of what to do for her graduation…as well as my own little celebration. Lord knows we both deserve some kind of extravaganza! She’s not one that appreciates a lot of fanfare or attention. So, we don’t share the same dream of a huge pig-pickin’ with confetti, fireworks, and maybe a balloon bender, but I do know we share an adventurous spirit. I began to think of something special she and I could do together to commemorate this milestone.

I had an idea to cruise the Mississippi – from the bottom to the top! It was one of those things my husband or son would not really be interested in, but perfect for us. I began to check prices, and it carried a big price tag. Well, at least I had a couple of decades years to save….then 2020 came. Any and all plans came to a screeching halt. Then 2021 proved to be worse than 2020. The funds were not available, nor was I ever going to meet the health and safety requirements to board a cruise ship at the time, if you catch my drift.

I vividly remember sitting at my computer on a rainy night in April of 2022, thinking about her graduating next month. With no plans in place, I began to feel guilty that we had not been on the first field trip in two years. Oh well, at least the kids will remember I was a mama who stood her ground…and those couple of years we didn’t go anywhere but to the beach…sigh.

Then it hit me…like a pile of books

While I was updating my Usborne Book biz page with cutsie spring graphics, a big idea hit me. In our homeschool, we had recently finished a fun UK unit in geography, complete with bangers and mash, fish and chips, and a full English breakfast. In my little side gig, one of our slogans is “books are my ticket to the world“….(the think cloud is growing)…the company is headquartered there…and it just clicked – LONDON!

Knowing I was unable to pull off something that big in a short amount of time, I told her my idea. Of course, she was okay with waiting. I even turned the planning into an end-of-year project for her. Rather than writing a traditional senior essay, she would be responsible for planning the trip. Now that she’s been out of school for a year, I can’t wait to finally get the finished project, uh-hummm.

Restricted and Belated

Before making any concrete plans, we waited for all restrictions to lift. No surprises, like “you get an extra 10 days to quarantine”, or “oops, you need that card to get back in the states”. I believe most restrictions were lifted last summer, but I wasn’t taking any chances. The extra time allowed us to save more money, and this past November we took the first step, and applied for *three passports.

Check out the cardboard Queen! She was the greeter at a new vendor event I worked at during the holidays. How awesome is that! Could it be a sign? Nah, just a perfectly fun photo op!

There have been a couple of other setbacks, one being the recent coronation the same week in spring I was thinking about going! Wow, that would have been crazy! To avoid the summer crowds, I am hopeful we will finally be flying across the pond this fall. The belated gift for the grad will be worth the wait. At least I hope so! We’ve only been 966 miles from home, so if you have any travel tips, I’m all ears! Seriously, talk to me, I would love to hear about your experiences abroad! Oh, and we did have the perfect little graduation for her in 2022 – her way.

When a worldwide pandemic takes over your big homeschool graduation plans, you plan bigger!

* Traveling to London is not on my husband’s bucket list, hence the three passports. However, he’s the biggest supporter of my crazy ideas, and I don’t know how to properly thank him enough for his support. Oh, I know! I will thank him by not applying for the next season of the Amazing Race with him as my partner.

Tips for Homeschooling Mamas

Fundraising: Simple & Profitable with Cards

Need cash, need it fast? I know, I know, it sounds like a line from a commercial, right? Well, let me drop you a commercial that is worth tuning in to!

I have been known to cringe at fundraisers. Bake sales are hard work (usually for mama), same for yard sales. Kid-run carwashes? Ummmm, no thanks. I’d rather just give them a few bucks and save the scratches. I don’t have the freezer space for cookie dough, fruit goes bad before I can eat it, and raffles are a just waste to me, like throwing money into the wind.

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REVIEWS - Curriculum, books, media, homeschool products

The Best Bible Curriculum

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15

Did you know this is the only verse in the Bible that instructs us to not only study, but how to study? When teaching such an important subject, it’s best to do it the way God says.

In one verse you can learn the what, why, and how of Bible study. What? Study. Why? To shew thyself approved unto God. How? Rightly dividing the word of truth. This is the first curriculum I have found that follows those instructions. When one approaches studying God’s Word in that way, it clears the contradictions and confusion that stifle knowledge and growth in the Word.

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