Homeschooling Inexpensively

Hey Loves!

I am going to try to make this quick but this is important. Very important. As overwhelming as homeschooling can already be, the cost can sometimes be very daunting. I know this personally. I am no millionaire, but even if I was, I wouldn’t want to spend a ton on homeschooling. I could you know, feed the hungry or something. For those who aren’t millionaires, have budgets and bills, but want to homeschool and can’t get over the cost, there are ways around that.

  1. Buy used: I know some people abhor this concept but hear me out. Buying used curriculum is a great way to save money. You can see in a previous post that I saved a ton on our math curriculum. If you are worried about germs, Lysol. Most homeschool moms take great care of the curriculum they invested in hoping to recoup some of the cost so you get a good product at a fraction of the price. Look for homeschool sales in your area or search online. You can also buy books used from local thrift stores and online. This has saved me a ton and I am sure it will save you a ton as well.
  1. Download free curriculum: Well, duh! So many people have created free curriculums and units studies for your taking. Take them gleefully! My Pinterest board is full of them.
  2. Create units and activities from books: This may not be for everyone but for some, it can be a great teaching experience and yield awesome results.
  3. Buy supplies inexpensively: Stock up during back-to-school sales. Crayons, pencils, markers, composition notebooks, glue sticks- grab them all. During the year or for more specific items, check your local Dollar Tree. They have amazing items for ONE DOLLAR. You can’t beat that price.
  4. Use what you have: If a project calls for something you don’t have, look for substitutes or another version to see if you can use something you already have.
  1. Buy and split: If you have some homeschool friends that all need the same supply item that needs to be ordered, but comes in larger quantities at a higher cost, split the cost and share the quantity.

Ok, those are my tricks and tips for now. Did I miss something? Please tell me if so!

Love you. Mean it.

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My Lesson Planner

Hey Loves!

Ok-if you are new here, planning is my jam. Planners are my joy. My old friends, nothing new here.

So, this was my first year researching and purchasing a lesson planner for homeschool. The past 2 years, I created our curricula and typed them up as I planned them. With purchasing curriculums and planning for two kids, I needed a planner to stay organized.

Now, I don’t want to delve into the amount of time I spent researching planners because that will just end in a judgment of me but I will say in my research I stumbled across the Scholastic Teacher Inspiration Planner.

Total transparency here, it was the cost that drew me in. Then, I did more research. How were others using this? How functional was it? Is it one of those “you get what you pay for?” deals? I learned that it was very similar to the Erin Condren Lesson Planner and, well, let’s just say in my pre-mom days Erin Condren planners were my world. 

I did know I wanted a little flare with this planner but it also had to be extremely functional. Hold up for at least this school year, and hopefully last on the shelf for following school years.

Armed with my research, I decided to try it. I got in the mail and was pleased before opening it because it was longer than I originally thought. I assumed it would be the length of my day planner. This meant I had more room to write in each subject session.

Opening the planner and reviewing some of the pages, I realized quickly, like I did with just about every other planner, some pages I would not used as-is and, thus, I entered the world of washi-tape and made those pages my own. I also used washi tape to indicate field trips, and days we would not have school.

While I have written in lesson plans up until the end of December, I haven’t finished adding everything to the planner I want. I will share the updates when I have them. Until then, happy planning!

Love you. Mean it.

P.S.- I have since joined some new homeschool Facebook groups and, y’all, my planner game is about to be seriously upgraded.

Our Homeschool Curriculum Picks

Hey Loves!

So, as I mentioned earlier, with homeschooling too kiddos, the time and research to create another curriculum were daunting and more than I could bear. Also, James was excelling at a rate I could not have predicted and I wanted to be prepared for that if the acceleration continued.

 Enter research. Getting Overwhelmed. Giving up. Repeat 96 million times.

Determining a curriculum is hard work, people! I had NO idea. So, more research. I happened to stumble across a youtube video from My Busy Bees and Me that shared their curriculum picks for the year and Erica detailed “The Good and The Beautiful”.

“Ummm what is that exactly?” I asked myself… and then google… and then more youtube. Then, in my heart, I knew this was the literacy and language arts curriculum for us. It encompassed all of my goals for James and enable him to confidently learn. It was also broken down into short lessons that, if needed, could be repeated. We purchased the hard copy and digital download. The hard copy came with the lesson book, flip books, and manipulatives. The digital download includes all of these items as well.

 Then, math. Ok friends, I had a budget to stick to and as amazing as the Good and The Beautiful math curriculum seemed to be, it was simply out of my budget as I knew I wanted the hard copy and digital download. So, more research and more giving up. Because Facebook is all up in my beeswax, it showed me several of my friends were interested in a used homeschool curriculum fair in a church about 8 minutes from my house. “This seems interesting,” I thought. “If nothing else, I could meet other Black homeschool moms and get good information.”

I went with $40 cash as my budget because I refused to come home with a bunch of stuff we “might” use because “it was such a good deal!” I’ve been there. Done that.

I went in not expecting much honestly. I walked around and found Math You See. I remembered it from my research and knew I liked it but did not like the retail price. The learning level was about first grade. I knew James was at Kindergarten level in math and was not sure how fast he would accelerate so I asked the seller some questions about it and pondered on it. It was listed at $10 which was already a great price but then the seller said, “if you want it to you can have it, I’ll sell it to you for $5,” “SOLD!” I replied with glee. So, winning, right? Not exactly. I needed a math curriculum for this year…

Again, I perused and found a table with what seemed to be all middle school curriculum. We definitely aren’t there but research doesn’t hurt, right? As I am looking through, I see she has a BJU K literacy curriculum and I begin to ask her about it. She explains how she has everything with it and how she loved it. In my head, I am repeating to myself, “You only need math. You only need math.” She then points to the BJU math curriculum and explains how she has the teachers manual, disc and all the manipulative for $20. I quickly look up how much it retails for… the teacher manual alone was $70-$80. The workbook was $26. I paused and thought… I looked more and couldn’t resist it. I loved the curriculum and the seller so helpful. She also sold me an entire 4-inch binder of math worksheets in page protectors, making them dry erase for $5. 

Y’all! I scored our math curriculum for 3 years for $30!!! I got all the things and stayed under budget!

Now, for social studies, I knew I wanted to focus on elections/voting, maps, and a lengthy Africa study. I purchased These 2 inexpensive workbooks from Amazon: 

180 Days of Social Studies for Kindergarten

DK Workbooks: Geography Pre-K

These will be integrated with map exploration and, well, whatever else we want because we homeschool. 🙂

Science… you guys should know I said I would never be one of those homeschool moms that have multiple curriculums for their kids. That’s just too much. Doesn’t make sense, I thought. 1. Never say never. 2. Repeat number 1 often. 3. See numbers 1-2.

I was struggling here. I knew what concepts and terms I wanted James to be familiar with. I knew I wanted him to keep a science journal. I knew what his interests were. Making it happen in a timely fashion and still having hair and sanity at the end of it did not seem likely. So, back to the Good and The Beautiful I went. I truly do love their science curriculum. It grows with the child, expanding their knowledge of subject matters from year-to-year and encompasses all of my goals. I selected Arthropods and Human Body units and purchased the digital downloads. I am seriously considering getting the space unit. I knew I wanted to do an expansive human body study with the boys so that was easy. Arthropods and Space and my kids’ interest. We are also learning a lot about the weather because my kids are interested in that as well. Lastly, we got a small book of Experiments from Usborne that I will use as well as activities from our Koala Crate Subscription.  

 Black History

This is a very important subject. James is at the age where I want to do more than just repeat facts every day. I want him to learn and understand how Black History is American and World History. We will use a variety of storybooks, short videos, and other items to explore and learn about African American first and heroes as well as field trips and other activities. We will do a lengthy Harlem Renaissance study starting in 2019.

Bible, Music, and Art will mostly be used from God’s Little Explorers. This is a free curriculum, although she does have a paid option. This curriculum does exactly what I need for Bible exploration and learning about classical composers and historic artist. I purchased Anholt’s Artist series books (USED, of course!), to assist with this. We will also use parts of the literacy and math for Jude.

So, yes. That does seem like a lot. This is why we plan. Any questions? Comments? Concerns? Suggestions?

Love you. Mean It.

Homeschool: How To Get Over the Hump

Hey Loves!

So, I’ve had lots of conversations about why I chose to homeschool (I’ll work on that post later) but mostly how I do it? I mean, having kids 22 months apart doesn’t lend itself to lots of downtime to research and explore. Then, you add the special-needs and therapies in the mix and I wonder how I do it sometimes.

For me, it starts with planning. Hope is wonderful but it is not a plan. You have to plan! However, I know just a quick Internet search can leave you feeling overwhelmed and, frankly, inadequate. At least that was my story. So, I started with the basics:

-What did I want my children to learn?

-How much time would we spend on school per day?

-What were my goals?

Those 3 questions can save lots of time and heartache. Next, I suggest finding out where your kid is academically. For example, I knew James was advanced but I didn’t know how advanced. Once I did a preliminary evaluation, He easily is doing most Kindergarten math at 3. That’s not boasting, just an example because I would not have guessed that.

 

Also, learning styles- find out how you and your kid learns! This will greatly impact how you teach. This will also impact what curriculum type you will be interested in if you choose to do one at all.

Goals are a tool of the prosperous. I make goals at the beginning of the year, check in in January and see where we are, and at the end of the year do a summary. It really is that simple. One of the amazing benefits of homeschool is you can customize learning. DO. IT. You guys know I am a crazy type-A planner with zero cares about your need to be flexible. However, homeschool has taught me flexibility is a little bit ok. I promise.

What You Can Expect

Hey Loves!

Ok, so maybe my last post was a little too much. Like, full-frontal too much. So, let’s take a step back and discuss what you can expect from me here at hitswiththemrs.

Things that will stay the same:

You guys, yes, a lot of me is changing but so much is the same. I’m still a wife. I’m still a mom. I still homeschool. I still have crafty moments. I still plan. Those things will not change. You will still get tips, tricks, thoughts and ideas that have helped me or possibly improved my life in the slightest.

Things that will change:

For starters, we are going deeper. No more BS. Marriage is hard. Parenting special needs kids is hard, very hard. Exercising and not always putting me last is a new concept that proves difficult at times. My desire to get back to happy may not be an easy walk in the park. Thus, you will probably hear about all of those things. Why? Because facades don’t help anyone. They don’t help me. They certainly don’t help you. Also, I don’t have time for that anymore. You may read more about what I am loving or things that I am trying. Basically, you will get me authentically. That means, my new experiences, should I choose to share, will be new. Also, and this a hard one, I’m putting my guard up more. It is not that I don’t want to share with you it is just that things are so new to me, I am worth it to figure it out and decide how I feel about it and decide if I want to share. Also, you are worth more than some words in your email because I wanted to put up a blog post.

So, I hope you will stick along for this ride and maybe even invite a friend or two to share all my hits and misses.

Love you. Mean it.

Welcome Back

That was more for me than you. Stating the obvious, it has been quite some time since I put pen to paper and released my thoughts to you. It was intentional. Most certainly not because I didn’t want to or that I’d moved on to bigger and better things, it was simply because I couldn’t.

I had a baby…I had 2 boys under 2. I was engulfed with postpartum depression and anxiety and in a grungy survival mode. Everything I did was simply to make it to the next hour. Hours, days and months passed and I was still just surviving. Barely, at that.

Then, my youngest wouldn’t talk and although I’d noticed and documented my sensory concerns and he started OT at 10 months, him literally not saying one word freaked me out. So, suddenly I had 2 special needs kids. You should know I had no idea the toll that would take on me. Somehow, I made up that since I had one, I was a pro and knew the ropes. You know, the “I got this” mentality. You should also know what I made up was very incorrect. I also didn’t involve my heart in these matters. I didn’t have time to feel and, if I didn’t feel anything, then there wasn’t anything to work through and definitely no need to cope. Again, I made up that I didn’t have time for it anyway so, why bother. Head down and get to work.

Somehow, that worked, until it didn’t. Without feeling or really thinking I was managing 4 different therapy appointments, continuing exercises from therapies at home, homeschooling, not sleeping, not exercising, barely eating, forcing myself to get out of bed every day, and hating so so much of this so-called life. It sounds so cliché but I honestly had no idea was who this empty person was staring back at me in the mirror. I lived on coffee, Malbec, and Xanax. Now, I’m sure you’re reading this and expecting a big ‘Aha Moment’ to come next. Spoiler Alert: It does not.

I kept going. Full speed ahead with no gas. Or oil. At this point, I was out of windshield wiper fluid, but I kept going. Then, the breakdown happened. You have to know that for the entirety of my mothering, so 3 years and 1.5 months at this point, my anxiety was a like a purse. Sometimes I left it at home or in the car. Forgot I had it. Other times it was a small crossbody-there but not in the way. At this point, it was a huge tote bag filled to the brim, spilling out everywhere and so so heavy. Again, I kept going. *insert face-palm emoji*

Back to the breakdown, I’m not sure how it happened…what sparked it… how I got to that point of allowing myself to feel but I remember laying on our sofa talking to my husband and then all of a sudden thinking the roof was leaking. (You should know that it is late March and in 6 months we had a leak, our heat broke, I put a hole in the garage wall, our fridge went out and our microwave broke so, a roof leak was par for the course.) I looked up, no leak that I could see. “Why is my face wet?” I asked myself. Then, the scene from “How The Grinch Stole Christmas” happened in my living room and I said to myself, “I’m leaking!” Not crying because I don’t have time for that. I truly believed I was leaking. Sad, I know. Anyway, my heart came out of hibernation and reminded that I was, in fact, crying. Now everything from that moment to my husband carrying me upstairs shaking is a blur. I have no idea what took place but I know I emptied everything I’d been carrying in that anxiety bag. I also unloaded the depression suitcase that was way past any airline weight limit.

I remember feeling physically lighter the next day but started my day like I did any day before that. Very soon I knew that didn’t work. No one just drops 300 pounds and puts on their old clothes. So, when my oldest was in speech therapy, I threw my youngest in the stroller and did something I didn’t have time for before. I listened to “For The Love” podcast with Jen Hatmaker and her guest Glennon Doyle. You guys-those 2 changed the course of me finding me in a short 1ish hour. Glennon said, “When your done being perfect you can be good. And when you’re done being good, you can be free.”

*insert ‘Aha Moment’*

What a word that was??? Anyway, that was 3 months ago and I’ve been slowly finding my way to freedom since then. For me, freedom is:

  1. Not letting anxiety and depression win
  2. Finding my way back to happy, whatever that means
  3. Releasing the anger
  4. Accepting all the grace
  5. Giving myself and others grace
  6. Being the mom I want to be
  7. Getting to know the person looking back at me the mirror

I don’t have my list of what makes me happy complete. I know I like to exercise and I like to write. I love to read. So, I started reading again and I loved being filled with good things. I started exercising again and I love giving to me. I just started writing again and it felt good. I missed this and I missed you.

My Birth Story, squared. 

Alright Kiddos, settle in. 
Some of you remember my birth story with my oldest son, James. After reading this, you will truly understand how every birth is different. 

Let start from the top, shall we? My pregnancies were the same until 30 weeks and then this one went left. I had pain galore that, of course, I couldn’t do much about as it was intestinal (in opposition to the back pain and nausea I had with James). I was also way over pregnancy. Way. Over. 

Stupidly, I believed lies and utter deceit like “all second babies comes faster and have a shorter labor.” Lies and deceit I tell you. At 39 weeks, I hadn’t even dropped. No dilation was taking place and this kid was literally hugging my placenta with no intent to vacate. So, instead of being passive I did everything I could… everything…

-Massaging and diffusing Clary Sage Oil

-Walking

-Sex

-Squats

-Bouncing on that stupid ball

-Eggplant Parmesan 

-Pineapple (an entire produce lot)

-Spicy Food

-Castor Oil (3 disgusting doses)

And guess what I got? Nothing. A bunch of nothing…until…

Contractions!!!! Hard, fast and regular contractions. #babyontheway They lasted for an hour or two.  Then they went away…after I called my husband and called a sitter…just great. 

Then, much later that night, could it be? Would it be? Yes!!!! Sweet Lord, YES! More contractions. Consistent, close together (4 mins a part) contractions and I lost my mucus plug! Woohooo! My contractions were never that close with James so off to triage we went with hope and expectation in our hearts only to find out I was only 1.5 cm dilated. We walked like our lives depended on it for 2 hours. I even beared down and pushed with contractions and then… nothing. “No change unfortunately” according to the nurse. I’ve never felt defeat like that. I cried a quiet, whole-body-shake sob while my husband held me and told me it was going to be ok. I did get one victory out of that night-muscle relaxers because ain’t nobody got time for meaningless contractions. 

So, basically any time I moved contractions would ramp up in intensity and in quantity. If I laid on my side I could keep them 10-20 minutes apart. For 2 days this was my life. It was miserable. I was miserable. Fast forward to Christmas morning-a contraction woke me up at 6 a.m. that made me wake up my husband. Laying down couldn’t stop the contractions or keep them as far apart. Moving made them way more intense and close together. I laid down as much as I could. Around 7 p.m., they had a mind of their own. They just kept coming, anywhere from 4 to 15 minutes apart. Then, just one hour later, a contraction came that I couldn’t just breathe through and had to moan. Then, another one, same thing, except a gush of fluid I wasn’t familiar with came and kept coming. My water broke. 

My gut told me I need to leave now. With James, my water broke about 20 minutes before I was crowning and I live about 20 minutes from the hospital. My mind, always one for tricks, said “it’s ok. You’ve got time. You’ve got this.” I listened to my mind. 

10 minutes later when I couldn’t even walk because the contractions were so close together and I felt all the pressure, I listened to my gut. In the same 10 minutes, my husband somehow got James ready for bed and asleep as well himself dressed. Then, he got me dressed, gave the neighbors watching James (on the monitor) the run down and we were off. I couldn’t sit in the seat. I said to my husband, “Babe, turn on the hazards. This is your NASCAR moment.” I still don’t know how many lights he ran. 

As if that wasn’t enough, now, let’s cue in some drama. Again, contractions on contractions on contractions, y’all. I couldn’t walk so a nurse had to come get me in a wheel chair. I couldn’t talk. Just screams. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t focus. Then, she checked me and I was only 3.5 cm. Then, I could talk. “Give me IV drugs. I want the drugs!” 

Some minutes later, I’m in a room in L&D and get checked again, I’m 7.5-8 cm and wouldn’t ya know it, moving too fast to get drugs. Now, I move too fast??? 3 days of labor and now we move fast. So, naturally, I assume this is the end and I’m going to die. No one can make it through this. Something is gravely wrong the medical staff just hasn’t discovered it yet, I think. I felt like this was moving so quick to save it’s own life. Knowing my fate, I then throw up. Bless Nurse Chelsi who caught it just in the nick of time. 

PAUSE: Let’s talk about how I wanted this birth to be so freaking zen. I had my essential oils and diffuser packed, a wonderful playlist and my affirmations ready to go. I was going to be a happy patient the nurses delighted with. The one they didn’t have to worry about. Y’all…

PLAY: The nurse checks me again…”She’s at 9.5. Do you feel pressure, Tenikca?” That question was posed at the start of another 4-5 minute contraction. I wanted to say something really smart like “You can’t tell that I feel a lot of things right now with a freaking freight train moving at full speed through me?” but all I could get out was “WHY WONT IT STOP?” 
PAUSE: Can y’all imagine contractions lasting 4-5 minutes?? I can’t and I went through it. Also, they were literally off the charts. I knew death was chasing me and closing the gap. 

PLAY: Then I felt a different pressure. I’d already pushed 3 times without permission. The nurses said I could push with the next contraction, that, of course, was on the heels of the last one so I did and then HOLY RING OF FIRE!!! Somehow, because this contraction won’t stop neither do I and I keep pushing. Then, I push again. I feel like everyone is telling me to stop. They keep calling my name and trying to get me to look at them-the nurses, my husband, they are all trying to tell me to stop but there was no way. If I’m gonna die it needs to happen sooner rather than later, I thought. My husband gets my attention and says very clearly, “Pull him out!” Ohhhhhhh. That’s why everyone was calling my name. 

On Christmas night, at 9:54 p.m., less than 1 hour after we got to the hospital, less than 2 hours after my water broke, with ‘Make You Feel My Love’ playing, I delivered Jude Lawrence. 

Then, I engaged in casual banter with the nurses. I apologized. They were full of grace. The doctor doesn’t know it but we are homies. He was super cool and calm and was real “whatevs” but super professional and efficient at the same time. I saw him out of the corner of my eye during one of those “contractions” (we can all agree that what I endured should be called something else) and yelled, “I want to pull him out.” I’m pretty sure his response was “cool”. 

In case you were wondering, I didn’t die. Didn’t even come close. My health was actually stellar. We had another intimate birth-just me and The Mr. No one else’s opinions or interjections. We didn’t have as many tender moments as we did the first time around but there was a tether-an unearthly connection driving us to be far greater and endure far more than we ever imagined. It was almost visible it was so strong. Again, my birth coach surpassed all expectations and was a fabulous punching bag, literally. #clutch

That, my friends, was a merry Christmas night indeed. 

Circle Time Wall Update

Hey Loves!

So, if at first you don’t succeed, try again, right?
Well, that’s what happened. Two weeks into school and I realized James had a hard time changing the calendar information. So, off to many stores I went. 
Finally, at Walmart found some cork tiles and wall mounting tape. 
Then, the Internet didn’t let me down and found these printables to describe the calendar information for the peg board. I broke my laminator so I couldn’t laminate them. Let’s have a moment of silence. 
I’m still in mourning. 
Then I got 3 push pins because my son can do that-he can push the pin into the cork tile. 

(That’s why it isn’t straight…my OCD is being tamed y’all.)


That’s it. That’s all it took. It’s ok if something doesn’t work out. It’s not ok if we just don’t try to make it work taking another route. Happy teaching

Dresser Labels

Hey loves!

So, remember my nursery for two post? Well, I can’t stop “improving it”. 
To help a certain dad know where both kids clothes are and to help a certain toddler get himself dressed, I thought labels with the words and photos of the items on the drawers would solve both questions. 
I found these labels online, printed, cut, laminated and cut again. Then I found some vibrant green washi tape from the dollar spot at Target and made a frame around each label. 
They came out pretty cute and nifty as well!


P.s- I also found a black-out curtain on clearest target that matches their room. It’s made nap time so easy. Not to mention, decreased the heat in there significantly. I highly recommend them.  

Mini Masterpieces Art Display

Hey Hey!

So, we are homeschooling, if you couldn’t tell by the 8 million post on the subject and we needed something. It was critical. We couldn’t make it without it. Well, we could but what’s life without some fun drama? 😜
We needed something to display artwork because… I’m not sentimental. I wouldn’t keep it. I may take a picture of it and trash it. Horrible. I know. Feed me to the wolves. I’m not worthy. 
Anywho, I came across this via Pintrest during my middle-of-the-night pregnancy insomnia searches and went to Home Depot 4 hours after I found it. Talk about being inspired, right?
I grabbed a yardstick that 3 people had to help me find for a whopping $.98. 


Now, the paint…I couldn’t decide on a color until I realized I had to go dark to mask the neon orange writing on the yard stick. So, I applied 3 coats of grey acrylic paint. 


I already had clothes pins that I painted white last December but I went over them with two coats of white acrylic paint. I attached the clothes pins with super-strength super glue. Be careful. My phone was stuck to my hands, literally, for a little bit. As for the clothespin locations, I followed the tutorial, I started at 2 inches and then added a clothespin every 4 inches. 
I attached it to the wall with wall mounting tape also following the tutorials instructions. 


Viola! $.98 and about 12 mini. Cheers to more art projects!