Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Review: Preschoolers and Peace E-book

For almost seven years straight, we’ve had some combination of babies, toddlers, and/or preschoolers in the house.   As you probably know quite well, there’s rarely a dull moment with little ones around!  As we’ve started schooling our oldest (and now middle child, too), we’ve discovered it is sometimes quite challenging to balance schoolwork, home life, and small children.  There are days when trying to accomplish school work, keep a five year old busy, and keep a three year old out of trouble are a great big challenge. 

That’s why I was thrilled at the opportunity to read and review Kendra Fletcher’s new ebook, Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids with Success while Loving the Little Ones at Your Feet.  I’d heard of Kendra Fletcher, and I’d visited her website (Preschoolers and Peace) in the past.  I knew she would have plenty of wonderful advice to share!

I was not at all disappointed! Her book is definitely full of wonderful, Godly advice from a homeschooling mother of eight children.  Mrs. Fletcher has many years of parenting and homeschooling experience, and she shares her wisdom in this wonderful little e-book.

To give you an idea of what you’ll find in this 47 page e-book, take a look at the chapter titles:

  • What a Homeschooling Mom Needs
  • Preparing Yourself to Homeschool Older Kids With Little Ones Underfoot
  • Planning Around Preschoolers
  • How Do I Keep Them Busy?
  • What Does a 2-Year-Old’s Day Look Like?
  • How Do I Get Any Preschooling Done?
  • How Not to Just Kill Time
  • Circle Time: Or How We Pull the Little Ones In
  • Preschool Boys
  • When All of Your Kiddos Are Preschoolers
  • Preschool Chores
  • Planning for Preschool
  • When Mama is Worn Out (or Pregnant)
  • Meal Planning 101

As you can see, this book applies to pretty much all preschool mamas, whether you have ONLY preschoolers or whether you’re balancing your time between school-age children and preschoolers.  I imagine that every homeschool mom with little ones can draw practical advice and encouragement from reading the Preschoolers and Peace ebook.

One of my favorite parts is how Mrs. Fletcher highlights the need to begin a day with quality time with God.  It’s so tempting to just whisper a quick prayer rather than have a quality devotion and prayer time, just for a little extra sleep or a long, hot shower before the kids are up and going for the day!  But Mrs. Fletcher reminds us:

How many times has your peaceful morning been shattered because you were not prepared in prayer? I know I often sabotage myself from the get-go because I do that “O Lord, bless our day and help me to survive” prayer before falling out of bed and stumbling to the shower.

She offers wonderful suggestions for a morning prayer time, including prayer binders, a prayer schedule, and prayer boxes to keep you focused and guide the direction of your prayers.

For more practical advice, she offers:

  • schedule ideas (more of a set routine than a by-the-clock schedule)
  • toddler activity ideas
  • ways for older siblings to play with a preschool sibling while you spend time with another child
  • explains how ‘circle time’ works for their whole family to focus on memorizing scripture, learning geography, and other creative suggestions
  • a list of suitable chores for 2 year olds, 3 year olds, 4 year olds, and 5 year olds (Watch out, “Our Little Monkeys” children – this mama’s got some new chore ideas coming your way!)
  • ways to keep young BOYS busy (yep, that applies here!)
  • simple breakfast and lunch ideas, and ways to involve/schedule your older children in the meal preparation
  • …and so much more, packed into 47 helpful pages!

I truly, TRULY enjoyed the wonderful wisdom found in this e-book, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have read this book.  If you are a mother of toddlers or preschoolers, I do feel that the encouragement and advice shared in this book is worth your limited reading time!  Preschoolers and Peace: Homeschooling Older Kids with Success while Loving the Little Ones at Your Feet is available for Kindle through the Preschoolers and Peace website for $2.99.

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Monday, September 29, 2014

Max’s Friend Party

Over a month after his actual birthday, we finally had Max’s friend party!  He wanted to invite every boy in his co-op preschool class, plus his friends from church and our neighbor boy.  Not everyone could come, but we still ended up with 13 kids (including our 3) for a fun-filled afternoon.  We kept with the Avengers theme from his family party.

(11 kids pictures, 2 little ones are still running around…)

I didn’t get very many pictures, and most aren’t the greatest pics, as it’s a little crazy having 13 kids in the house!  I had an organized plan in my head, but in the chaos, it was easier to just go with the flow!  (We had a toddler who choked & got sick all over the kitchen floor…how’s that for chaotic and scary?!)

Thanks to two wonderful grandmas, my job as ‘party planner’ was much easier.  Grandma P had made a bunch of cupcakes to go along with Max’s birthday cake several weeks ago, so we froze those and saved them for the friend party.  Grandma S heard my plan to make felt capes for the kids, and she kindly made them all for us!

When the kids arrived, we had hotdogs, Avengers go-gurt, veggies & dip, grapes, chips, and juice boxes.  (We also had water bottles and pop for grown-ups.)

After that I set out bowls of glue, foam brushes, and felt shapes (stars, lightning bolts, hearts, flowers, and each child’s first initial).  The kids had a free-for-all with decorating their capes.  All thoughts of this being an organized activity went out the window, but the kids had fun anyway Winking smile

After that, Max opened the presents from his friends.  He got an Avengers first aid kit (fun idea!), a Spiderman mask, a Captain America costume, a remote control truck, some other fun toy monster trucks, a McDonalds gift card, a Spiderman puzzle, Avengers coloring book, and Avengers tattoos.  What a spoiled boy! Smile

cupcake & ice cream time…
I’d purchased a ‘pin the chest emblem on Iron Man’ game, but it contained 8 stickers…that wouldn’t work with 13 kids.  I thought about doing it in two rounds and just taping on the stickers, but ended up just skipping it.  The kids were having fun just playing together, so I didn’t feel the need to pull them away from their fun.  My kids can play it for fun sometime.

They ended with some outdoor time to play.  I asked them all to stop & post for a few quick pictures (like the one at the top of this post.)  If you’re wondering, Max is on the swings with a Spiderman mask.


my favorite random picture – the kids were still getting organized,
and I accidentally snapped a picture.  Jensyn’s grin cracks me up!


Each child went home with a fun bag of party favors & their superhero cape.  My kids were so excited to put together those favor bags…light-up red & blue bracelets (clearance sale from 4th of July), ten color Avenger pens, Avengers note pads, Avengers crazy straw, Avenger backpack zipper pull-tabs, and Avengers fruit snacks.

So Max, you celebrated your 5th birthday in Virginia, had a family party at home two weeks later, and had a friend party 3 weeks after that.  How’s that for really stretching out your birthday?  Happy FIVE!  We love you, big boy!!

(Now I have 1.5 years to recover before Jensyn gets HER five year old friend party…)

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

*New* Community Helpers Preschool Pack

community helpers, preschool pack, police, fire, nurse, garbage

It’s been a LONG time since I’ve put together a preschool pack!  I received a special request from a faithful customer, and it prompted me to get going on a new pack.  Putting together a pack was actually a whole lot of fun; I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this work!

Here are a few samples from the new Community Helpers preschool pack.  It’s mainly the pages you’ve seen before in other packs, but I did design a set of “Find and Stamp” pages for seven different community helpers.

letter G find and stamp
mini book to read/trace
minibook1 community helpers

beginning sounds new

7 different do-a-dot (magnet) pages
magnet page P

count and color

Pssstttt….this pack is FREE from now until Friday, September 26th
on my
Facebook page.  Pop on over for the freebie download link!

If you missed the free download opportunity,
you can download this pack for $2.00
from my Teachers Notebook store by CLICKING HERE.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Max’s 5th Birthday (part 1)

As I type that, I’m just overwhelmed at the thought that yet another one of my sweet babies is getting TOO BIG!  I can’t even fathom that Max is 5 years old, yet somehow it happened.  Our kiddos are growing up WAY too quickly!

Max turned 5 on August 24, while we were on vacation.  Because of our vacation, we had to delay his birthday party.  This was very confusing for him, and he thought that he wouldn’t get a party or presents because no one would be able to find him!  (But it IS pretty special to spend your birthday in the mountains, meet a far-away friend for lunch, and go swimming in a hotel!)

On his birthday, we assured him that he would definitely have a party for his birthday.  This confused him even more, as he thought he had already turned 5, and if he had another birthday when we returned home, he’d be turning 6 already and catch up to his big brother!  (How cute is that?!)

Although he only gets one birthday, and he has to stay FIVE all year, Max does get TWO parties this year – a family party and his first-ever friend party!

Max had his first party – the family party - on Sunday, September 7th.  We had a slightly smaller crowd than usual, but he still enjoyed his party!  (For us, a small party is still 20 people…we are loved!)

(His second party – the friend party – is coming up next weekend.  He’s VERY excited about it!)


Max chose to have a Captain America/Avengers theme, which we’ll be carrying over for his friend party as well.  Grandma P and Jessica created yet another amazing cake, and they also made a whole bunch of cupcakes that we froze to use for his friend party.  We are so grateful for their talents!  Thank you, Grandma & Jessica!


We had one of our typical party lunches – GFS meatballs and sauce in the crockpot, hashbrown casserole, green beans, pigs in a blanket, fresh fruit, and potato chips.  My mom helped by making a hashbrown casserole, cucumber salad, and pigs in a blanket.  It sure takes the pressure off of me, knowing that there are others helping with the food.  Thanks, Mom!

Max was spoiled with terrific presents…


~ 3 (yes, 3!) Captain America talking action figures – the boys decided to keep two of them, and my sister returned one and gave Max money instead, which he used at Build A Bear to make a Raphael.

(We went to Build A Bear on Saturday, where Max made a TMNT bear and Alex used his garage sale money to buy a Captain America outfit for a bear he already owned.)
~ a Captain America helmet (which he’s worn to bed several times – how uncomfortable does that seem to you?!)


~ Hot Wheels track, which has gotten TONS of use in the past week
~ Planes Fire & Rescue vehicles set
~ Planes Fire & Rescue raincoat, which Max has worn a LOT, whether it’s raining or not…although we’ve had a lot of rain recently, so it HAS gotten some good use for its intended purpose!

~ Transformers Rescue Bots (the boys are VERY interested in Transformers right now)


~ TMNT orange combat set with nunchucks, throwing stars, and bandana (much loved by ALL three children!)


~ Planes Fire & Rescue headset (which Jensyn has claimed as her own – she uses it to sing, ha!)

IMG_0731 IMG_0732

~ We got him a Captain America bike earlier in the summer – he’d outgrown his old one, so we sold it in our garage sale & got him an early birthday present.

~ AND one he doesn’t know is coming – his very own Chicago Bears quilt for his bed, lovingly made by aunt, cousin, and grandma.  Alex already has one, and now it’s Max’s turn!  He’ll be getting it soon; his cousin Emma was sick and couldn’t make it to the party, but she wants to see him open it.

I just love this picture, where the kids are all crowding in to see what Max is opening.  I love the excitement of the younger kids at a birthday party!  (And there sits Alex, reading the instructions…)


Cake Time!


(We are grateful for all the cupcakes, which we froze and are saving for Max’s friend party.)



I thought this card was so sweet that it deserved recognition.  Max’s cousin Cailin (5) made this sweet birthday card for him.  It’s just so cute! Smile


Happy 5th Birthday, Max!  I have no idea how time has flown by so quickly, but we LOVE watching your amazing personality develop year by year.  WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH, and we thank God for blessing us with YOU!

Monday, September 15, 2014

MFW K Creation Unit (Max’s School)

{Phew!  After typing out this whole post, I am reminded of why I split Alex’s creation post into 3 separate posts a few years ago…this was a PROJECT to put this whole post together.  Happy Reading…or skimming…whichever you choose to do!}

Many of you know that we absolutely LOVED My Father’s World Kindergarten with Alex.  For us, it is a perfect year for a late 4 or young 5 year old.  We are THRILLED to be starting “Round 2” of MFW K now with Max.  He’s excited, too!  He feels so special to have this new program!

I love the creation unit, as it gently eases a child into a school routine.  It also gives you a good idea of your child’s coloring, cutting, and gluing skills.  I learned in the past two weeks that Max can cut far better than I realized! 

For those who are just happening upon this post, our oldest (“6, almost 7”, as he says) did MFW K a few years ago.  This year, our 5 year old is doing MFW K and our 3.5 year old is tagging along for fun.  Our oldest is joining in whenever he would like, but we’re not insisting that he participate.

We love using the book God Made It For You (pictured below) as we work our way through the creation week.  It’s a beautifully illustrated account of the creation week.  On Day 1, we read only the Day 1 page.  On Day 2, we read the Day 1 & Day 2 pages.  On Day 7, we read the whole book – which includes an amazing message to remind children of how creation and the cross tie together, and how God created this world AND sent His son for YOU!  I very highly recommend this book if you choose to do MFW K!

Here’s a day-by-day recap of Max’s creation unit:

Day 1 – God Separated Light from Darkness

I was impressed by Max’s cutting skills!  I didn’t know he could do as well as he does with a scissors!  It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty good!  We had chocolate & vanilla pudding for a snack to represent the light and the darkness.


Day 2 – God separated the waters above from the waters below

We did a creation day number strip this time around.  Each child proudly added his/her creation number to the chart each day.  Max did his own cutting; I cut Jensyn’s numbers for her.  We had popcorn and blue Mio (a *VERY* special treat, as we don’t usually give our kids fake sugars) to represent the clouds and the water.  We used cotton balls to make the sky on our daily art project.


We used the alphabet bingo cards that come with MFW K to play bingo with all 3 kids. 
They each chose a snack food to use as their bingo markers.

Alex was helping Jensyn cover her Bingo letters, as she doesn’t know all of her letters yet.
(We do comb her hair.  I promise!)

Day 3 – God made land, trees, and flowers.

This may look like I’m super-amazing mom to come up with such a creative snack.  I’m not.  I was scrounging to find ANYTHING in our cabinets that would be a good snack for Day 3.  We have trees made from grapes and pretzel sticks.  We have flowers made from Trix cereal and crispy breadsticks that I pulled from a snack mix.  The kids thought I was a bit crazy to feed them such a strange snack!




a quick view of the chaos on our kitchen table during school time Smile


Day 3 art project – construction paper trees with apples and oranges, flower stickers



Day 4 – God made the sun, moon, and stars.

A few years ago, we received a fun set of glow in the dark moon and star wall stickers.  We used these for Alex’s MFW K creation unit, and now we used them again for Max’s unit art project.  I have some put away for when Jensyn is ready for MFW K, as well.  This year, we had a little fun.  One night when Max was busy with Daddy, Alex and I decorated the boys’ bedroom walls with glow stickers.  It was a fun to surprise Max at bedtime that night!


We also had some glow in the dark squeeze paint that I purchased for a project at our homeschool co-op.  We used that to outline the sun and stars on our creation numbers.  I’m really impressed by Max’s coloring on this page – every child is different, but Alex would NOT color like this when he was that age!  The whole ‘take time to color’ thing is completely new to me!


This day’s snack was also making use of whatever I could scrounge up in the cabinets – cheddar cheese slices cut into star shapes with a cookie cutter, paired with saltine crackers.


We also used chocolate chips to play a ‘cover the letter’ game with Max.  He knows all of his uppercase & most of his lowercase letters, but he still gets them mixed up on occasion. 

Day 5 – God made the birds of the air & fish of the sea.

We had Nemo fruit snacks.  I only buy fruit snacks for birthday parties or vacation snacks, so this was a special treat!  I’d wanted blue jello (which is also a rare treat in our house) topped with gummy fish, but we found out that our local grocery store doesn’t carry blue jello!  Instead, we used blue plates left over from Max’s b-day party as our ‘ocean’.


We used sea creature and bird stickers for this day’s art project.


(This picture had our first & last name; I blurred out the last name.)

Day 6 – God made animals and people. 

I can’t find the pictures!  Hmm…where do pictures hide?!
But we have our snack – they had animal crackers for 99 cents at our grocery store, so I let the kids each pick a pack. They thought this was great fun!

Day 7 – God rested.

Since the seventh day is our Sunday, we did what many MFW K families do, and we had SUNDAES for our special snack!  We had leftover ice cream from Max’s birthday party, so we finished that off along with chocolate syrup, strawberry syrup, and rainbow sprinkles!


coloring 7s
making creation crowns 
(thanks to Heather on the MFW K Facebook group for sharing the crown link!)
separating Man Made/God Made cards


Jensyn shocked me when she traced the numbers on her creation crown just as nicely as Max did on his.  Seriously – she PERFECTLY traced each number.  I have a feeling she will be doing quite a bit of MFW K right along with Max. She won’t put up with being left out!  I am learning that girls are so very different from boys – those fine motor skills seem to develop much earlier!


We’ll be taking all of our art projects from the creation unit and putting them together to make a yarn-bound creation book for each child, and we’ll hang their creation numbers and man made/God made charts on the stairway to our playroom (bonus room over the garage).  That stairway is filled with the children’s artwork, school papers, posters, and school stuff.  Since we school in our kitchen, we need a special place to display their school ‘stuff’…that’s our spot!

We are excited to begin Unit 1 tomorrow!  I look forward to seeing how Max handles this curriculum, and I’m sure we’ll have LOTS of fun together!  We will probably do 3 – 4 days/week, stretching it as long as needed to complete each unit.  I am so excited for the terrific children’s literature, fun art and science projects, cooking and baking, exploring, and learning about God’s creation together this year!