Tips for Celebrating Advent with Older Kids

Top Five Tips for Celebrating Advent With Older Kids
I’m guest posting today over at Life of a Homeschool Mom! Just because our kids are getting older, doesn’t mean that we have to stop the fun holiday traditions. Come on over and see my top five tips for celebrating Advent with older kids.

Included is a FREE Advent Activity printable geared toward the older kids.

Before you head on over to Life of a Homeschool Mom, be sure to grab our The Story of Advent Printable Pack for your little ones. This 14-page pack includes copy work, matching, sight word practice and much more.

We have something for everyone at Our Happy Medium!

Have a blessed holiday season. <3

Healthy Gluten-Free Grab and Go Breakfasts and Snacks: Your Kids Won’t Notice the Veggies Inside

healthy gluten free breakfasts and snacks

If you’re one of our regular readers, you already know the story of our journey toward a gluten-free lifestyle. I’ve been eating gluten-free since 2009 with the exception of a few months after being without gluten for almost 2 years in the beginning, and one other ‘cheat’ with quesadillas one night five years ago. Both of those times, gluten proved to me that it doesn’t like me at all, so leaving it behind for good at that point wasn’t a problem.

Most of you already know about the great health benefits of going gluten-free. Lucky for us, it seems that every day a new gluten-free product shows up on the shelves of our grocery stores. Many times the gluten-free options are not particularly healthy either, so If I can find a grab and go snack or quick breakfast that is not only gluten-free but also healthy, it’s a double bonus.

Garden Lites – Veggies Made Great

Imagine my surprise when I found these delicious Garden Lites Veggies Made Great snacks in the freezer section of our grocery store. The package reads, “Veggies: Our #1 Ingredient.” That sold me. My family loves anything that includes gluten-free flours and veggies. The Garden Lite muffins remind me of the snacks I used to make for my (then little) girls which included hidden veggies from recipes from The Sneaky Chef: Simple Strategies for Hiding Healthy Foods in Kids’ Favorite Meals

No Baking! Grab and Go Muffins

Some of you also know that cooking is not my #1 favorite activity. I’d rather be outside growing the vegetables, rather than inside adding them to my baked goods, so I love anything that we can grab and eat  – – especially on those busy mornings when we have to rush out of the house. (more…)

Five Easy Ways to Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude in Your Family

cultivate an attitude of gratitude in your family

We’ve all heard how adopting an “attitude of gratitude” can improve your life, but how exactly do you go about doing that? Sometimes it’s easy to let life get us down and to get caught up in all the daily hustle that we forget to stop and give thanks for the little (and big) things.
Here are some simple ways that we incorporate gratitude in our homeschool.

1. Start the Day With an Offering

This can be an offertory prayer, or a simple statement of intention for the day. You can also offer a prayer for a goal that you would like to accomplish for the day. Don’t keep these to yourself; it’s easy to do as a family before you begin your homeschool day. We like to say our offertory prayer at breakfast. It really does pave the way for an awesome day.

2. When Something Goes Wrong Reframe It

I’m not saying to pretend that bad things don’t happen. They do happen and they will happen. That’s life. In my experience it’s the small things that have the biggest ability to make me forget to be grateful, not the big things in life. A forgotten appointment; a missed deadline; plans needing to be changed last-minute; a week that’s too busy; all these things throw me into a tailspin of ingratitude.

When I find myself complaining, that’s when I know it’s time to stop, pause and take stock of what’s good about the moment. Reframe it by finding something good to positive to focus on. Modeling behavior is a huge part of parenting and educating. I, for one, don’t want to model complaining behavior and bad coping skills for my children. I want my family to have an attitude of gratitude because that helps me, too.

3. Do Something Nice For Someone

When you feel yourself going down the path of ingratitude, do something nice for someone. Get out of you own way. Ask a friend if they need help, hand out blessing bags to the homeless, or volunteer at your church or food pantry. If you can’t get out and do something, send a “thinking of you” letter (a real letter), or make a phone call to someone who’d love to here from you. Make it special: don’t just send a quick text.

4. Keep a Gratitude Journal

We love our bullet journals because they allow the freedom to create space for whatever we need to keep track of. My teenagers keep gratitude sections in their bullet journals. Actually, my youngest has an entire journal devoted to recording things that she’s grateful for.

5. State What You’re Grateful For: Out Loud

I’m a big Brene’ Brown fan. If you haven’t read any of her books, I highly recommend them. I love them all, and have listened to all of her books (I’m a huge audio book fan) more than once, but these are my favorites and ones that I recommend you start with.

After you’ve read (or listened to) one or more of the above books, be sure to get this one:

Brene’ has a practice in her household where she and her family go around the dinner table each night and say one thing they’re grateful for. Sounds a little hokey? Maybe. But she’s a well-respected sociologist who knows what positively and negatively affects people and human behavior, so if she’s doing this with her family, I’m doing it, too.  And you know what? It does help. It brings my husband into the here-and-now of family life after a day of work, and it helps us all cultivate a small culture of gratitude among us. The benefits far outweigh the effort it takes.

If you have other ways of incorporating gratitude in your life and in the life of your family, we’d love to know about them so tell us below!

Go ahead and share this post with a friend. We want them to be happy, too!

How to Simplify Your Thanksgiving Holiday

how to simplify your thanksgiving holiday

Okay, be honest. Who’s stressed out already? All the planning, preparation, coordinating can get overwhelming even when we love to do it! Here are some practical tips to simplify your Thanksgiving holiday. Come on over to strategichomeschoolingandmore.com and read my guest post there.

Before you go, be sure to download my free Thanksgiving planner to help!

Enjoy the prep, planning AND your holiday!

Why Play Should be an Integral Part of Your Homeschool

Why Play should be part of your homeschool curriculum

Lately everywhere I turn homeschooling parents are over the question, “is my child doing enough to get ahead?” We are forgetting that play should be an important part of your homeschool curriculum.

The pressure on young children today is incredible. Even the developers of PBS believe that the biggest obstacle American children face in terms of education is being unprepared for kindergarten. 

No wonder parents are worried! Not only are parents over-teaching, but they are also over-scheduling, I believe it’s being done out of fear.

Over-scheduling

Consider this schedule: phonics lessons and grammar lessons in the morning, music and Mandarin lessons in the afternoon, and in between all that Moms are forcing their young children to work in newly purchased math workbooks and insisting that they complete multiplication and division problems. The words “algebra” and “geometry” are being tossed around at play dates.

These parents really think that they are doing the right thing. They’re giving their children a “leg up” right?

They are not. Here’s why.

Developmental Milestones

First, young children are not developmentally ready to pursue such academic activities. Are some seemingly “able” to do this type of academic work? Perhaps. But a completed worksheet does not equal a deep learning for a subject matter and even if you believe that your child is ready, there is evidence that doing so is more harmful than helpful.

Take a look at this article written by a mathematician </a>for reasons why worksheets should not be used with young children.

Just because they can, doesn’t mean they should.

Secondly, the importance of play has been so overlooked in the last decade or two that it is shameful.  Here’s what Edward Miller and Joan Almon say in their book Crisis In The Kindergarten: Why Children Need to Play in School.

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How To Prove Your Identity As a Homeschooler: And Why You’d Want To!

how to prove your identity as a homeschooler, homeschool id card
Can You Prove That You Are a Homeschooler?

Has anyone ever asked you to prove that you are a homeschooler? Sometimes merchants will ask, but more often, you will be the one to ask for special perks and discounts for homeschoolers. Having your own official homeschool ID card can save you money on homeschool supplies, admission to parks and hotels and more.

Teacher – Homeschooler ID Cards

Teachers can get discounts at places like Office Depot and Barnes & Noble, so why not homeschool teachers?Well, now you can too!I scoured the Internet looking for a decent, professional-looking and FREE homeschool ID template and I’ve found one here.

How to Create a Homeschool ID Card

I printed our cards this on heavy card stock and laminated them with clear contact paper.  They came out great!

The template is very user-friendly, and only took me a few minutes to print cards for our whole family.

This site is well worth browsing as it offers many other homeschooling freebies and discounts as well.

Enjoy!

How to Simplify Your Thanksgiving Day With an Instant Pot


Thanksgiving is quickly coming, and that often means stressing out over cooking the perfect meal for your friends and family. Luckily, my family makes a big dinner at my mother in law’s house, so I do not have to stress over a big meal, but I do like to have our own family Thanksgiving meal at home a few days later. You can never get enough turkey and mashed potatoes, ammi right?

Whether you’re cooking for a large group, or small family gathering, it can lead to a day of stress between preparations, cooking, and cleaning. I’ve found the perfect answer to keep the stress away! I recently purchased my first Instant Pot, and this machine is a game changer in the kitchen. Now, I am going to share my plans on how to simplify my Thanksgiving Day with an Instant Pot so that you can do it, too! (more…)

Beginning Beekeeping Day 1

The Day I Fell in Love With Bees

I am a cyclist. Well, I don’t cycle on the roads as much as I used to; now I ride on my trainer in the garage most days, but I used to cycle on the road quite a bit. What does this have to do with beginning beekeeping? My story will tell you:

One day I was riding near an open field that had dozens of bee boxes on it. Apparently, the bees were also getting out for the day and were making their way across the road toward the orange and grapefruit groves in the distance. I rode straight into thousands and thousands of bees crossing the road as I cycled through.

Since I didn’t have enough time to stop before I was in the midst of them, so instead, I slowed down, and gently kept riding, all the while talking to them and assuring them that I wasn’t going to hurt them.

To my amazement, I saw many stop and hover near my right shoulder just waiting for me to pass. This happened over and over again as I rode through the swarm? pack? I’m not sure what you call them when they’re in flight.

That day, I understood just how intelligent and amazing bees are. Before this, though, bees and I always had an understanding. In my garden I’d love to see them (pollination, thank you!) and I never was afraid that they’d sting me, and I never, ever swatted at them. Why would I? I wanted them there.

Honey, Will You Buy Me Some Bee Boxes for My Birthday?

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Top Three Things to Help Avoid Homeschool Burnout

I don’t know about you, but by the beginning of May, you can stick me with a fork because I’m done. I’m tired. I’m worn out from all the curricular AND extracurricular activities. I’m barely hanging on, and the words you’ll hear most often from my mouth those days are, “just skip it!” My homeschooling mojo has left the building. My inspiration lies wet and soggy somewhere underneath a pile of once shiny-new ideas. I need a pick-me-up, and a Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino with almond milk just won’t do. I’m experiencing homeschool burnout.

I’ve been through this before. Many times. Here are three things that have helped me avoid homeschool burnout (in order).

Stop Feeling Guilty

I know you feel it. You can’t deny it. We homeschool moms are the ones who begin each year with our polished new ideas and clean schedules and high hopes. When we get to May and are reminded of all the ways in which our ideas didn’t pan out, we feel awful. It’s to be expected. But guilt (or remorse or regret) just don’t serve us. Throw those feelings away and replace them with a mind open to learning why those ideas didn’t pan out. For me, it’s usually because of one of these three things: (more…)

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