A Day In The Life

Hey guys!

I have received some questions about how in the world we home school. Well, frankly, God. If not for God, I would not be able to do it!

I thought instead of talking about it all day long, I would just show you some pictures of some of our day today! Enjoy 🙂

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We add a number each day to our 100 day caterpillar!
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We are learning about the different meanings behind Jesus’ name!
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Each child adds their own artistic version!
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Our sensory bin is full of rice this week. It is a great way to learn about measurement!
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We LOVE abcmouse.com in this house!
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The table the we mainly use for formal instruction.
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Days of the week!
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We have a timeline for our history curriculum. Jesus is the marker between B.C. and A.D., Leif Ericsson is in a Viking ship and Christopher Columbus is sporting some awesome fashion!
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The little man learns spacial reasoning, colors, and numbers by playing with blocks!

Shout out to Abcmouse.com! They are a great supplemental online curriculum for kids that attend public school, private school or home school! All three of my kids have enjoyed “playing” on abcmouse.com. If you haven’t tried it, I highly recommend it!

Hope you all have a great day!

Melissa

3 Ways Not to Become a Mommy Monster

I have recently discovered something about myself. I reach a certain point in the day and totally lose all my cool when anything goes wrong. I HATE that about myself and want to change it. So, I am working towards that goal. Here are three ways that seem to help me not be a mommy monster:

  1. Set a Schedule

There needs to be a schedule. I am learning this the hard way. Our family is the type of family that mostly flys by the seam of our pants. We like to be spontaneous and that is ok for some things, but not all things every day.

I have learned that when I have a schedule laid out for the day, everything goes that much more smoothly. I am at the point now where I have made a daily schedule. When we stick to the schedule, everyone knows what is expected and can anticipate the days activities, leaving less room for melt downs and crazy mommy episodes.

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2. Follow Through

Saying what you mean and meaning what you say has taken on a whole new interpretation now that we have kids. They remember EVERYTHING! When we tell them that we are going to do something, we better mean it. When they do not listen and we say we are going to discipline them, we better mean it.

There have been numerous times when I say that I am going to discipline them in this way or that if they do not listen and then don’t follow through. My behavior has led to them not believing that I will follow through with the discipline. When they don’t believe that there is going to be a consequence to their action, guess what, the action doesn’t stop.

On the other end, there have been a handful of times when I have said that we are going to do this or buy that and then have not been able to follow through. My behavior in that area also causes problems because the children start to not believe what I say. Who is going to listen to someone they don’t believe?

In both cases, I need to always follow through with what I say, whether it be discipline or something fun. I am learning to only say what I mean and always mean what I say. When I am conscious of that, the inner monster doesn’t pop its ugly head as often.

3. Take Mommy Time

I cannot even begin to tell you the importance of taking time for yourself. Taking time to do something that you enjoy, eat food that fuels you, exercise, read, dance, whatever it is that you love, will only benefit every aspect of your life.

When I learned that me time wasn’t selfish and stopped having guilt about it, I was able to fill my cup up. What can you do with a full cup? You can pour it out! Taking time for myself allows me to better pour into my husband and children.

You know those times when you feel like there is not one more thing that you can handle and want to explode? Well, when you have taken time for yourself, there is a way better chance that there won’t be an explosion because you’re not drained. So, fill your cup up!

I am hoping that consistently doing these three things will help me be a better mommy, wife and friend.

How do you avoid Mommy Monster Moments?

 

Top 10 Kid Games that Foster Learning

Our family loves to play games. We love it so much that we try to have a family game night every week. (Though lately it’s been difficult, lol). Our kids are finally ALL at an age that everyone can play board games for at least one round. We have rounded up what we think are the 10 best games to own. If you would like to own any of them, just click the name and it will bring you to Amazon. (I tried finding the cheapest version of all of them). They are listed in no particular order!

  1. Hi-Ho Cherry-O

This game is great for the littles that are just starting off in the board game world! It allows the children to count, take turns and learn good sportsmanship.

2. Candyland

It’s an oldie but a goodie! Candyland helps the kiddos to learn about colors, counting, taking turns and good sportsmanship.

3. Sequence For Kids

I was excited to see that this game came as a junior edition; my three year old even loves this game! Sequence For Kids teaches about animals, colors, counting, taking turns, good sportsmanship and thinking ahead.

4. Fairytale Spinner Game

Who doesn’t love a good story? Fairytale Spinner Game teaches children the basics of story telling, taking turns, good sportsmanship, counting, and creativity!

5. Memory Match

While this game may take awhile, it is well worth it! Memory Match helps foster recognition, recollection, taking turns and good sportsmanship.

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6. Making Cents

I had a difficult time trying to figure out new ways to teach our kids about money. This game is perfect for that! Making Cents teaches kiddos how to count change, recognition of money, taking turns, and good sportsmanship.

7. Uno

There are many different house rules when it comes to Uno, as we have found out! But any way you play it, it helps the kids to learn colors, counting, patience, taking turns, thinking ahead, and good sportsmanship.

8. Mancala

Though I had never heard of this game until marrying my husband, I would rather play it than a lot of other games. Mancala is a marble counting game that teaches how to count, take turns and good sportsmanship.

9. Trouble

My daughter loves to play this one! Trouble teaches counting, thinking ahead, colors, taking turns, and good sportsmanship.

10. Monopoly Here & Now

I know what you’re thinking, Monopoly is a horrid game that only ends in someone flipping the table over. But not so with this version! Monopoly Here & Now is a shorter kid friendly version in which there are no houses or hotels! It teaches counting, taking turns, good sportsmanship, patience, problem-solving and thinking ahead!

What games does your family love to play?

 

**This blog has Amazon Affiliate links. If you click the link and buy on Amazon, I will receive a percentage at absolutely no extra cost to you!!**

 

Squirt Gun Painting

Summer seems to be here, at least weather wise! I have been trying to get my kids outdoors more and more each day. Two things that they always love to do is paint and have a water gun fight. So, why not put that together?! I took our easel outdoors, snapped some new paper into place and let the kids create squirt gun paintings.

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We used water guns, water spray bottles and condiment squirt bottles. The kids LOVED it! If you want to try it, just mix together some washable, nontoxic paint (we enjoy Crayola paint, which you can purchase with this link: Crayola Washable Paint) with water using a 2 paint:1 water ratio. We played around with how much water to use and it seemed like the paint was more vibrant and easily squirtable with a 2:1 ratio! After you mix it, simply pour into your desired squirt gun and have a blast!

Word of caution, don’t do this inside. It got a little crazy and paint pretty much covered our yard, driveway, car, plants and children!

For more activities, thoughts and other tidbits, sign-up for our email list!

 

**This blog has Amazon Affiliate links. Should you click on them and purchase through Amazon, I will receive a percentage at no extra cost to you!**

Fun, Kid Friendly Pancakes!

The littles are hard to feed sometimes. (Can I get an amen!) I have to get creative from time to time so that they’ll eat. I know, I know, “if they are hungry enough they will eat what you make”. Well, I’m too tired for all that! In any case, this little trick is super easy and in all honesty really fun to do!

I used to have a pancake batter dispenser that cost too much and broke too soon. I needed a way to get fancy with the pancakes without that thing. So, Amazon shopping I went! I bought this gem:

KODAK Digital Still Camera
KODAK Digital Still Camera

These squeeze bottles work wonderfully! You simply pour your pancake batter into the squeeze bottle and start designing anything that your little heart desires.

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Here are some ideas:

ruff-family-circus-pancakesLittle round dippers, shapes, cars, trains, names, ninja turtles, mickey mouse.etc.

*Tip: In order to get better lines, outline the shape first and then fill it in. Also, if you are going to be doing letters or names, make sure to write them backwards otherwise they end up like this:

KODAK Digital Still Camera
OOPS!!

Here is the recipe that I used:

  • 2 Cup of flour (I use Great River Organic Flour, it’s amazing!)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar, optional (I use honey)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ½ to 2 cups milk
  • 2 tablespoons melted organic butter
  • Organic coconut oil for cooking

(This recipe is one of a million recipes, so please use whatever one fits your dietary needs.)

Needless to say, the kids loved their breakfast and ate pretty much all of it! Plus, any pancake that they didn’t eat, is easily frozen for another day.

 

For more fun and learning, please subscribe to our emailing list and receive a free 10 week summer curriculum for PreK-1st grade!

 

**This site has Amazon Affiliate links. When you click on the link and purchase through Amazon, I will receive a percentage at no extra cost to you!!**

Growth

 

I met with a group of wonderful women the other night. Every time we meet, we go through some questions that are supposed to make us dig deep into conversation. One of the questions stood out to me this time. It asked “In what area of your life do you want to see growth?”. At first, I couldn’t answer, not because there wasn’t an answer but because so many came racing through my mind; getting in shape, being healthier, reading more, spending more quality family time, etc. But then there it was. My marriage.

For so long, I have (actually my husband and I both have) been putting a lot, if not all, of our energy into our children. We plan their curriculum and activities. We make sure that they eat healthier foods. We take the time to read, play and teach them. We go on outings that are meant for mainly their enjoyment. The list could go on for days! Now, all of these things are good. All of these things are meaningful to create productive, loving, empathetic human beings. However, there is a thin line between putting our children above our marriage and putting our marriage first. We crossed that line and now it is time to recover.

We went on a second honeymoon not too long ago which allowed us to reconnect on a whole new level. We were able to just be man and wife, best friends and lovers. That trip was wonderful! For one, we were both happier and for another, we were able to be on the same page for everything that we did. This new-found connection has shown me that I am not just a mom, my husband isn’t just a dad but we are two people who started a family and then added children to it. Meaning, we were married first, then our children were added onto our already established family. So, we need to treat it that way!

I have been reading a great devotional that discusses how to raise children in a Godly manner. One thing that the author touched on was putting marriage first. Evidently there is an order in the household: God, marriage, children. Now, when we put our marriage above our children, we are only doing good because it benefits us in obvious ways but it also benefits the kiddos because they feel secure, they have a model of what marriage should look like and they learn how to put other people first. All of that sounds pretty good to me. So, God, then marriage, then children it is!

This question of growth in my life, without a doubt, has brought me to the realization that my children are not the center of the universe and they shouldn’t be. It has brought me the realization that my husband is one wonderful man who I fall in love with every day. It has brought me the realization that although I struggle hourly with day-to-day life in general, I have a partner, best friend and confidant that I need to put first. I need to put our marriage first, not just for me but for my husband and my children. That is where I choose to grow today.

Good Friday Projects for Kids

There are a lot of brilliant kid friendly projects out there, especially on Pinterest land. While I was searching for some fun things to do for Good Friday, I found two great hands-on activities. Both are unique ways of explaining the events of Good Friday!

The first one that we found awe-inspiring is a simple “experiment” to show the littles what happened when Jesus died on the cross. You will need:

  • a glass plate
  • a shiny penny
  • some colored water (we used water tinted with a tad of soy sauce)
  • a candle
  • matches or a lighter
  • a glass cup

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Place the penny on the plate and explain that the penny represents all of us. Then slowly pour the colored water over the penny until there is enough that covers the penny. Explain that the colored water represents sin and that we were all covered in it.

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Next, put the candle on the plate with the water surrounding it and light the candle. Explain that the candle represents Jesus and the lit flame is his life.

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After the candle has warmed the air around enough (about 5 seconds), cover the lit candle with the glass cup explaining that the glass represents the crucifixion. Doing this will cause the flame to go out and create a vacuum sucking up the water around the candle. Explain that once Jesus died, all of our sins were taken away.

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The kids LOVED this one and they kept taking turns putting the glass over the candle to see the water get sucked up!

The second project we did today was a watercolor resistant painting of the cross. You will need:

  • White paper
  • White Crayons
  • Watercolor paint
  • Water
  • Paint brushes

Before the kids get started painting, take each paper and draw a cross with white crayon. Press pretty hard otherwise it doesn’t show up well after painting it.

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After you are done with drawing the crosses, let the kids come to the table. I didn’t tell my kiddos what the mystery drawing was so that they had to uncover it! You should have the paper (with the crosses already drawn), paint, brushes and water set up for them.

Let them sit down and paint their paper to discover the secret message! It is a fun way to discuss Good Friday even further.

Hope you enjoy your day and if you celebrate, Happy Easter! If not, happy weekend!

 

 

Go West Ruff Family!

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As a part of our school year, we traveled by car (agh!!) from Wisconsin to South Dakota. Driving gave us the ability to visit a ton of different spots along the way to our bigger destination of Mount Rushmore! The kiddos loved this trip and, if I’m totally honest, I loved it too. Some highlights (that the kids enjoyed) included:

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Wall Drug! This place is literally a tourist stop and shop, but a well placed one. Every single one of the kids loved stopping here on the way there and the way back. They have just about everything for the hungry traveler. From 5 cent coffee to a full restaurant. And they always offer free ice water! There are a ton of picture opportunities at Wall Drug too, including a fake Mount Rushmore. There is also a random T-Rex dinosaur that pops up and roars at you. To this day, my youngest son talks about the “scary dinosaur that made him run away” to just about anyone that asks!

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Bear Country is in Rapid City and a must see if you ever happen to be in town! Bear Country is basically an open range zoo for animals from bears and antelope to mountain lions and buffalo. Visitors drive their cars (with the windows up and doors locked!) through each animal enclosure and view the animals. We were able to see wolves, mountain lions, mountain goats, antelope, buffalo and of course bears! The animals, all except the mountain lions, could walk right up to your car. Some bears and buffalo got pretty close to us and the kids went nuts! After driving through the open range areas, there is a small zoo that you are able to walk through which holds animals like skunks, badgers, bear cubs, deer and wolves. Definitely a favorite in our family!

Mount Rushmore was an amazing stop for the adults and the kids! Obviously, there is the Mount itself and our four wonderful Presidents on it. But there is also a great museum that teaches so much history about the process of carving Mount Rushmore and the Presidents represented on it. Of course there is also a little cafe and souvenir shop, which we also enjoyed! The kids learned so much history in the short time we were there. I tried to snap a good picture to capture this moment, this is what I got, lol!

We also visited Crazy Horse, a Pow Wow and Lakota museum, the Corn Palace and three different Laura Ingalls Homestead museums (which will be a whole different post!). This was our first long distance road trip with the kids and I would recommend it to anyone! Hands on learning for sure!