Vintage Homeschool Moms

Best Kid Gifts

Best Kid Gifts | The best kid gifts are ones they would never select for themselves! | #podcast #homeschoolpodcast #homeschool Best Kid Gifts – Episode 313

The best kid gifts are ones they would never select for themselves! Truthfully. Often kids think they know what they’d like to receive and with these simple steps you can have a wonderful celebration, no matter what the time of year without breaking the bank.

Thanks to our sponsors – The Truth Seekers Mystery Series – brought to you by Media Angels, Inc. Currently free shipping on Prime – not sure how long it will last!

Okay friends, it is time to look at how you purchase gifts for those you love! I recently did an activity with my kids and will do this with my grandkids soon. The activity is as follows.

Hand each a square of paper. Take a sheet of paper and cut it into 4 squares (or use index cards) and ask the following questions.

  1. What did you get last year for Christmas (or birthday) that was your favorite present?
  2. What did you get two years ago for Christmas (or birthday) that was your favorite present?
  3. What did you get three years ago for Christmas (or birthday) that was your favorite present?

The point here is that often, very often unless you have one of those photographic minds in your family, the children will not be able to name a present from two or three years ago.

The next question (yes, there is more)!

  1. What gift did you really, really, really want that once you received it no longer was as great as you thought it was?

Again, the point is that often what they want is no longer what they want once they get the item. Two instances with the same child come to mind. (I share this in the podcast.)

Doing this fun type of activity and asking the children for feedback really helps if you have one of those children who really “wants” something special.

Parents, I do not allow my children to give me Christmas lists –unless I ask for them. I began asking for lists once I had adult children because their lists include needs and not wants. Personally, I have great kids. They say, “Mom don’t spend too much money on us!” This from the two in college who (thank-you, Jesus) received full academic scholarships, yet I still pay room and board.

When I asked what they needed the list was different. Running shoes, training shoes, long sleeves, pullovers, and my daughter needs a new softball glove. My son’s school thankfully provides all of their athletic needs. My other son asked for some tools. My husband, shirts and shorts.

Pray, ask the Lord what you should purchase them. I have a podcast on A Few Minutes with God on my other network, Ultimate Christian Podcast Network. This podcast talks about Jesus Calling and is based upon the books my older kids love by the same name.

So here are the top gifts that won’t break the bank but are things your child will really want!

  1. A new Bible cover. Most of your kids probably have Bibles – if not purchase one for them, and a new cover is always nice.
  2. Jesus Calling. There is an entire series of books. Buy an inexpensive journal to go with it. At our local discount stores, I find lined journals with Scriptures on the cover that are either manly or girly and you can give this as a gift.
  3. Collections of short stories. Young children and old alike love classics that are distilled down into small bite-sized bits.
  4. Now with all of those amazing websites, you can buy ornaments and even glass with a picture on it. On a budget? No worries! There are some wonderful picture frames you can purchase. My favorite are black plastic with a push out glass. You mount the picture and there is glass all around (so it shows the wall color behind). I recently used these matching, inexpensive frames to put all of the kid’s sports pictures throughout the years on the wall in a spare bedroom. Capture the kid’s favorite moments and create a collage for each child.
  5. A handwritten letter. With that passing of President George H Bush, we learned how he often wrote to people and they treasured these letters. Every year for Christmas or a birthday write your children a letter. Tell them you love them (no why needed) and write this on beautiful stationery. Sign and date it. Place it in a manila or white envelope with the date. I promise you, your kids will keep these.
  6. An ornament for Christmas. One of my friends did this from the time her children were little. My kids have their favorites given to them from aunts and uncles. When I go to a party at Christmas time this is my gift of choice. I use to find beautiful glass ornaments at the discount stores but have not found them in years! If you know a good source, please go to this podcast post #313 and let me know. My daughter received a saddle and boots on the year as an ornament when she took horseback riding lessons.
  7. A memory book. Give the child a blank book or one filled with some past field trips or family events and explain that you will fill this book the coming year with fun things you will do as a family.
  8. A puzzle such as a rubric cube or something similar. YouTube has many videos on how to solve these and my son is a whiz and had almost everyone on his baseball team buying one. Much better than handheld games in my opinion.
  9. A subscription. KiwiCo – or Raddish Kids, — redirects to
  10. A pet. Yes, I know who takes care of the pet it is you mom or dad! However, it will be one of those gifts that your child will really love – if your child likes pets! You can give a gift certificate for this with the promise of shopping after Christmas and watch the excitement on your child’s face. I’d stay away from purebreds –just my opinion. The humane society has many pets awaiting adoption, or check your local Craig’s List where we found our dog, Indy about 9 years ago!

Best Ever DIY Christmas Gifts

Do it yourself or DIY is all the craze, but only when it is simple and the gifts are truly worth giving.The Best Ever DIY Christmas Gifts Episode 311

I know, we’ve heard it before the best ever DIY Christmas gifts often are more expensive than buying something on sale at the store. But, when you have a large family or many additional family and friends to consider these gifts are a life saver.

Thanks to our sponsors – The Truth Seekers Mystery Series – brought to you by Media Angels, Inc.

Do it yourself or DIY is all the craze, but only when it is simple and the gifts are truly worth giving. One year I received bath salts that smelled great and were different colors. When I looked at them closer I noticed the coloring was actually food coloring and could turn my skin the bright yellow, green and purple of the bath salts! Needless to say, this item was not used for baths at all.

Here are my go-to rules for DIY Christmas Gifts:

  1. Must be tried and true. This is not the time to experiment.
  2. Nice presentation. No one wants to open a box to see a hot-glued mess.
  3. Something someone would actually want. Think cheesecake vs. fruitcake.
  4. Take into account dietary needs. These days there are gluten, dairy and nut allergies. Stay away from these offenders if at all possible.
  5. Gift certificates do not need to be impersonal. Stay tuned to learn more!

The best every DIY Christmas Gifts can be every bit as charming as a high priced item that more than likely will break, wear out or possibly be something that is returned or regifted. Think about the person you want to gift an item. What are their likes? Dislikes? Take these into account.

Here are a few of the favorite gifts I have given and received:

  1. Recipe book: Tried and true family recipes. Think about making these into a book online that can be duplicated.
  2. Coupons: The kids have gifted me with coupons for the following and all were much appreciated! Car wash, make beds, wash dishes, babysit, neck rub, vacuuming, organizing.
  3. DIY personal: Bath Salts, Homemade Sanitizer, Rag rug,
  4. Food: Applesauce + recipe for muffins; Tomatoes + recipe for sauce; Pumpkin + recipe for pie; Fat Bombs + recipe; Baked goods + recipe; Mixes + recipe and decorative containers
  5. Gift Certificate to a: nature center, zoo, museums, amusement parks, Amazon, bookstore, coffee store, etc. Make it personal by going with the person whenever possible to enjoy their gift.
  6. Slide presentation with pictures
  7. Prayer audio
  8. Painting or other art projects
  9. Decopauge – a favorite saying or special memento on a wood plaque.
  10. Experience: Rooftop star gazing, impromptu road trip, see hot air balloons, country visit or city visit, camping

Diets Do Work

Diets Do Work | Weight loss, clarity of mind and more! | #podcast #diet #elimination-dietDiets Do Work – Episode 312

After six weeks on an elimination diet I am here to report, that diets do work! It was not easy, in fact giving up coffee for that long was a big sacrifice but the results were amazing and I can’t wait to share details in this episode of Vintage Homeschool Moms!

Thanks to our sponsor Heirloom Audios and the amazing Membership Site –

I am here to report the amazing results on my slow-and-steady diet! I lost 15lbs of the 20 I wanted to lose. And lots of the food was delicious. I have some new favorites.

I had to avoid the following…it was about six weeks of:

  1. No sugar
  2. No gluten
  3. No nightshades
  4. No coffee
  5. No steak, meats (yes to chicken)
  6. No sugar alternatives
  7. No additives
  8. No Soy

Here is podcast 303 where I discuss details of the Elimination Diet.

Yes, it was not easy but the results were wonderful!

Clarity of Mind

Weight Loss

Focus on tasks

Lots of energy!

At one point my husband was even worried that I now had ADD!

Well, then came Thanksgiving. And, I gained two pounds. Then, yes you guessed it…I gained two more!

So what happened? After phase one I began phase two. And that was slowly adding back different foods. I could add any food but had to wait a full 24 hours to gauge how I felt. In that way, if there was a bad effect from the food I could then eliminate it from my diet.

I am happy to report no food allergies surfaced. But you might guess I added coffee back first, then tomatoes! I also learned something about myself. I sabotaged my own diet! And my downfall was nuts. Organic, raw, salted, unsalted — no matter. And if you added chocolate all the better. So…now I’m avoiding nuts!  I’ll

Countdown To Christmas Planning

Countdown to Christmas Planning |The countdown to Christmas can be a wonderful and blessed time with these helpful hints. | #podcast #homeschool #homeschoolpodcast #christmastipsCountdown to Christmas Planning Episode 310

The countdown to Christmas can be a wonderful and blessed time, especially if we make a plan that this year will be different. The stress and harried approach is now in the past and we are going to do this with prayer and the grace that comes only from God! In this episode Felice shares some of her secrets to getting it down with plenty of time to spare.

Our sponsor — Heirloom Audios. Lasting value and spiritual benefits — Christian history – audio adventures Movies for the Minds CD Sets

Friends, it is time to take charge of our lives and get ready for the best Christmas ever with the focus on what really matters. I have about three steps to this plan so it is easy to implement and so simple!

One thing I would recommend is that you begin each day with prayer and end each day with prayers. We use an advent wreath. I have a special countdown to Christmas activity you can do with your children and I’ve podcasted about this as well – the link for that podcast is on this episode 310

First is make a list and cross off anything you do not want to do. I’m serious!

Here is what a typical Christmas countdown list looks like:

  1. Decorate the house / buy or put up the tree
  2. Take a Christmas picture for a card/write and send cards
  3. Buy or make presents for ____ people.
  4. Wrap Presents
  5. Bake cookies or gifts to give or keep to eat.
  6. Shop for Christmas dinner
  7. Prepare ahead for Christmas dinner
  8. Set Up for Christmas day
  9. Finish last minute prep – presents or wrapping
  10. Make Christmas Dinner

What is on this list that you can avoid? The two that stand out for me are the Christmas cards and the baking. Everything else you have to do… whether you buy presents or make them. You still have to wrap them.

Second is put your list in order of deadlines

Print out a month at a glance calendar – I have one on the show notes of if you don’t have one. You will need to add the dates to the calendar as it is blank. Use a pencil and list your deadline dates.

Try to get your shopping done one week ahead of time.

Third: Implement your list!

Helpful Christmas Countdown Hints:

  1. Decorate in one day if at all possible. This includes setting up the tree (in our case we buy a fresh tree). It also means getting help to watch the little ones and enlisting the help of the entire family!
  2. Shop online whenever possible. I’ve enclosed a link to a helpful article on about 5 best apps. The one I use is Honey. It does a great job online in telling me if there is a coupon I can use and it automatically
  3. When you are shopping check your phone and compare – I know you do this anyway, but many times it is just as cheap to buy it now in the store. Stores have become very good at price comparing themselves.
  4. Use gift bags… this is a huge time saver. One of my friends has 11 children and she uses one large gift bag to keep all the children’s gifts in. They love the idea of getting to their gifts quicker (her words) and she says they take turns watching each child open their gifts.
  5. Christmas baking – one friend doesn’t bake at all it stresses her. For me the stress in not in baking – it is my destresser! It is in sending out 100+ Christmas cards with a Christmas letter. Now, I only send out cards to immediate family and if we can get a picture taken at Thanksgiving, then great! If not – the card goes out without the photo.
  6. Making vs. buying gifts. If you have time, I love the idea of personally created gifts. You can make gift mixes (my December printable will have some of my mix ideas for muffins). Otherwise, start this in the summer. It is so much easier that way!



Holiday Games

holiday games | The best holiday games to play with the kids | #podcast #homeschool #homeschool podcastHoliday Games and Fun — Just in time for the Holidays! Episode 309

Fun games? Yes, please. How about holiday games? It’s that time of the year! The holidays are around the corner and it is best to think about keeping the kids occupied at busy family events. Here are some suggestions, more on this episode as well. Have fun with your family this holiday season.

Thanks to our sponsor Heirloom Audios – check out this wonderful interview here.

Holiday Games with little prep:

Would you rather game:

Materials: a sheet of paper divide it in half.

Procedure:  Make a list of things to compare. Write “Would you rather” at the top of the page on the left-hand side. Divide the paper in half. This is an example: Eat a pumpkin pie  or eat without a fork

 Conversation Starters

You can use plain paper and tweak the suggestions below depending on the event or holiday.

Materials:  Index cards or Popsicle sticks (place them in a decorated mason jar)

Procedure: Write a series of questions such as these:

  1. Who are your thankful for?
  2. What is your favorite Thanksgiving food?
  3. Look at the person to your right and say something helpful or thoughtful.
  4. What happened on the first Thanksgiving?
  5. What are some of the foods that the Pilgrims ate?
  6. What was the Indian’s contribution?
  7. Name one food you would not make if you were in charge of Thanksgiving dinner?
  8. Can you name five things that begin with the letter “T” that has to do with Thanksgiving?
  9. What Thanksgiving food takes the longest to make?
  10. Can any of the foods you eat on Thanksgiving Day be made without an oven?
  11. How did the Pilgrims make their meal without an oven?
  12. Name all the desserts you can think of that are served on Thanksgiving Day?
  13. Name a Scripture verse (or look up) that has to do with being thankful.
  14. What prayer do you say before you eat?
  15. Close your eyes and name all the foods you smell.
  16. What is a food that is frozen that is sometimes eaten at Thanksgiving?
  17. Name all the orange things in the room.
  18. Name all the orange foods that are edible.
  19. What sound does a turkey make?
  20. List all foods you want to eat today.

(You can add more ideas to this list.)


Clothes pin turkey tag.

Material: clothespins, paint, markers or crayons. Google eyes or peClothespinkers. Orange construction paper. Glue (hot glue).

Procedure: You will need 3 clothespins for each person. Color (use marker or crayons) or paint the top of a clothespin different colors. Use google eyes (or draw eyes with black or blue sharpy). Use orange construction paper and cut it into triangles. Glue the beak in front of the eyes.

To play the game:

Each person takes the clothespins and pins them on their clothes. Anywhere they want (but they can’t be in a pocket). Someone says go and each person has to grab a clothespin off of someone’s clothes without losing one of theirs. The person who has at least one clothespin left wins.

Thanksgiving/ Christmas or Anytime Holiday Party Games:

These need a bit more prep and following are suggestions on how to up the pace!

For the Kids and Family Events

 Timed Games: Timing helps to speed things up and adds excitement to any party! You can practice some of these ahead of time with the children. Place the children into teams to keep the individual competition down.

Teams: Play in teams. It helps to keep the frustration down when kids lose. If you play in teams. Use a marker board or paper to keep score!

 Bingo Thanksgiving Style: Use M & M’s for makers

Make cards with the following graphics. Two of each to match. You can make cards differently with a square that says thankful in the middle. Use graphics such as Pilgrim Girl, and boy, Corn, Pumpkin, Turkey, Pie, Pilgrim Hat, Mayflower, etc.

Pictionary – Thanksgiving style!

Use a mason jar with a ribbon on edge. Paint large or regular popsicle sticks. Use a sharpie to write a “Thanksgiving” type of word — such as turkey, eat, fall leaves, pie, etc. Use a pad of paper and have the children take turns drawing a picture and allowing others to guess the correct answer. The person who guesses goes next and draws a popsicle stick.

 Pin the tail on the Turkey / or Christmas tree, etc. (Depending on the Holiday.)

Pin the tail on the turkey! Use construction paper to make “feathers” and have the children create their own turkey decoration. You can use sliding glass doors and tape or non-stick fasteners.

Puzzle Race:

Use Thanksgiving-related pictures (or other holiday pictures ) and cut them out like a puzzle. Place the pieces of one puzzle at a time on a tabletop, get out your cell phone stopwatch or use a stopwatch and give each child one minute to put it together. Work in teams.

 Candy Color Sort Game:

Use 25 candies such as M & M’s or Skittles. Place two piles of 25 with two children facing off. Give each child a spoon. Ask them to sort the candy into piles using only a spoon. Older child variation: Place the spoon in your mouth and sort the candy. The winner is the one who sorts the candy into colors first.

Relay Races:

There are many variations of this game. Use plastic cones to mark the zone and lanes if possible. You can use a ball of the same size (you need at least two). For example, a baseball and place it between your knees. Wait until some shouts, “Go!” and race with the ball. If you drop the ball pick it up and place it between your knees and keep going.


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5 Ways To Prevent Writing Meltdowns

Prevent Writing Meltdowns | Kim Kautzer of Write Shop gives 5 Ways To Stop Writing Meltdowns. #podcast #homeschool #writeshop #writingmeltdowns5 Ways To Prevent Writing Meltdowns Episode 308

Do you need 5 ways to prevent writing meltdown? This podcast provides helpful tips. Your children may not be enthusiastic about writing, but the goal of this podcast is to allow them to appreciate and understand the writing process. Kim explains why so many children don’t like to write—and why the act of writing is the cause of many tears. She also shares five practical ways to prevent writing meltdowns, and offers advice on teaching your kids to write well.

What Causes Writing Meltdowns?

  1. Unclear directions where kids don’t know what the assignment as asking of them or how long their composition has to be
  2. Writer’s block where kids feel “stuck” or can’t think of ideas
  3. Physical act of writing  where the ideas in their head can’t make it to the paper because of perfectionism, learning challenges, physical challenges, immaturity, or lack of skills
  4. Trying too do much in one sitting or feeling like they’ll never be finished
  5. Boredom

In this podcast, Kim tells stories and suggests ways to prevent writing meltdowns. You’ll learn how simple things such as: being clear about lesson expectations, tailoring topics to children’s interests, using graphic organizers, and acting as your child’s scribe can help them turn the corner.

Kim explains that writing is a process, not a one-time event. Kids like to think they just have to write something once, and then they’re done. In truth, writing is made up of a bunch of steps. The writing process can be made manageable when broken into writing chunks.

Brainstorming, for example, is one “chunk.” This is the time to come up with ideas, plan, and organize thoughts before writing. The first draft—or as WriteShop calls it—a “sloppy copy” is another chunk. Self-editing is the next step, when students learn to use a checklist to proofread and make simple revisions. Ultimately, each step points to the final draft. Spreading these steps over several days (even several weeks with younger children) makes each day’s assignment doable, not overwhelming.

Today’s meltdowns don’t mean your students will always struggle with writing. You may not be able to see it now, but time is your ally! And in time, your children can become successful writers.

10 Holiday Planning Tips

Holiday Planning | Holiday planning help is right here! | #podcast #homeschoolpodcast 10 Holiday Planning Tips – Episode 307

Holiday planning help is right here! In this episode, we will discuss some ways to help you to plan ahead and keep that overwhelmed feeling away! I am happy to share with you some tips for making it work no matter what your day looks like.

Thanks to our sponsor Media Angels, Inc. Media Angels membership site with great self-paced lessons and classes for your kids while you plan for the holidays.

Please share this episode with a friend and like the VintageHomeschoolMoms podcast on iTunes.

First things first, let’s talk. Do you have something hot or cold to drink? Are you sitting down? This is really important and I want your attention on this one. The most important thing about the holidays is not what the house looks like, what you are serving or who is coming over to the house (or where you are going.) The most important thing is to focus on the sentiment behind the day. If you ask a child what is their favorite things I guarantee it isn’t the house you live in, the car you drive or what you ate on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas or Easter. I bet it is the time you spent together and the fun they had doing things together with family members.

If you’ve lost a loved one as many of us have, the holidays can bring back painful memories, but we must praise God that we had our loved ones as long as we did — even if it was for a short time. The experience of knowing someone and the impact on our lives will change us forever and this memory alone should encourage us to forge good and strong alliances with our children.

Remember the theme for the various holidays are similar:

Thanksgiving is gratitude and thanking God for all things.

Christmas is for giving the way our Lord was given to us by God the Father. We celebrate by the awe of the Nativity and give to others.

Easter is for the grace given to us by the life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ and the blessing this is for our life as a Christian.

All three major holidays reflect the theme of gratitude, thanksgiving, awe, grace, and ultimately joy! Doing things for others will increase this feeling of joy — and by serving we receive so much more!

What needs planning?

  1. Homeschooling – still need to school right?
  2. Baking/Cooking—sure if you plan on cooking
  3. Shopping – budgeting
  4. Decorating house?
  5. Clothing—church service? Or family party.

Of course, there are many subdivisions in each of these points. So, what I’d like to share is ideas for different age children dealing with your homeschooling.

  1. Don’t change your schedule for the first two weeks of Nov. but consider adding topics dealing with the holiday – whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas or Easter.
  2. If you have little children, replace their fun time activities with crafts and things you can use with decorations.
  3. For older teens, they will more than likely school up to Thanksgiving week, although I always took off the week of Thanksgiving. Kids could catch up with their work, or finish us their assignments or help!

Okay, here we go! 10 Holiday Planning tips that won’t break the bank and will get a jump on whatever season you are approaching.

  1. The list. What does your list look like? If you have our planners try the 4-Square approach. That is my go-to for a one-page list of everything that needs to get done. Each month I give away a planner to our subscribers at the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. These planners are so helpful! I break a sheet of paper into 4 grids (2 across and 2 down) with the headings of faith, kids, school and household. For the holidays you may add a planner that says the specific goals you want to achieve. My headings for Thanksgiving look like this: Faith, Menu, Buy/Make ahead, That Day
  2. Next is to plan on doing things incrementally. As homeschool moms, you can’t do everything at once. Your plans need to be realistic. Make a list, and circle things you might get done today – the rest leave for another day! Organize your time and start early. If you haven’t don’t worry — I working on another podcast with last minute holiday tips! If you can bake a casserole, let’s say mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, au gratin or scalloped potatoes, that freezes very well. Make ahead rolls or cookie mix. Pull it out of the freezer the day before and thaw in the refrigerator. For roll,s you may want to take them out of plastic bags and allow them to thaw at room temperature.
  3. Keep decorating cost down by making it yourself. I used cheap plastic shower curtain rings and wrapped them with ribbon. A craft the kids helped me with and glued the end down. These were our napkin rings. If you have cloth, great. If not paper works well. They can do this while you read to them.
  4. Four weeks before if possible Who is coming? Figure out your guest list so you can plan. OR if you are going to someone’s house what are your bringing?
  5. Three weeks before planning your menu if you are hosting a meal. I’ve had Thanksgiving at my home for the last 15 years or so, with a big crowd. This year it is immediate family only. Only 15 counting grandkids. I will use one big table with added smaller tables attached and have a buffet. My meal is the same each year, a small ham, lasagna, and a small turkey with plenty of sides, fruit tray, cheese, and cracker tray. My family loves appetizers and one of the only times they have them is on the holidays. These I buy frozen or make my own. Spinach dip, mini-hotdogs, mini-pizza bites, and a baked cheese (recipes in November planner!)
  6. Two weeks before shop for your ingredients, look for sales and buy ahead whenever you can.
  7. One week before (or sooner) prepare the baked casseroles and the items you can easily freeze and thaw. For example, my lasagna is already made and waiting in the freezer! You can keep lasagna for six weeks although ours never lasts that long.
  8. Room arrangement. Do you need to bring extra chairs (or have guests bring them or tables?) Do you need to move back the couch or other furniture? Decide how you will set your table. Are you fancy or simple? I have tablecloths I purchased after the holiday and keep that year after year for events. I like fresh flowers my one big splurge but I can keep the cost under $20 easily with foliage from outdoors and baby’s breath. I love that stuff! I also reuse glass flower containers. This year since I’m not going fancy I’ll use mason jars with festive ribbon.
  9.  One day ahead. When will you begin your bigger roasts? I’ve cooked the ham the day ahead and it has been fabulous heated up. I wrap it tight and place it in a warm oven so it doesn’t dry out. Prepare your turkey the day before. Did you brine it? Or do you need to prep it for baking? I do it ahead of time and place it in the baking dish so all I have to do is put it in the oven. This year I may add stuffing to the turkey since it is way smaller than years past. I also chop or get any dips or cheese ready. My husband loves this job because he eats as he does it. So nice to have the cheese in little cubes and ready to toss on a tray.
  10. The day of the event. Smile, pray to the Lord that all goes well and dig in! Get the kids to help with setting the tables or arranging things, putting out crackers, etc. Put the turkey in at the right time to allow it to rest about 30 minutes or more before carving and serving. Be sure to pull out your casseroles and leave them on the counter. Cold lasagna will take two times as long to bake as cool lasagna!

Enjoy your holidays, it’s all about the friends and family — remember that. The food is an added blessing and we must be thankful in all we do. Be sure to look at our free planners available each month with your subscription to the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network. Please share this epsiosde with a friend!


Stress Free Cooking Tips

Best Tips For Great Stress Free Cooking and Meals | Do you need some great tips to save money and time? | #podcast #homeschool #homeschoolpodcast #cookingtipsBest Tips For Great Stress Free Cooking and Meals: Episode: 306

Are you ready to cut down on your planning and cooking time with the best tips for great meals? I have a great insider’s secret to share with you, and you’ll love it! And, as a bonus, I’ve added some great tips for seasonal cooking and this will save you money.

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And, please visit all the amazing Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network podcasters they are the ones who tirelessly work hard at creating innovative shows just for you –in order to encourage you in your homeschool journey.

Okay, meal planning – you ready? Well, when I plan my meals one of the things I look at is repurposing the food or using one item to make several. In this way, you cook once and use that main item for many dishes. I will give you some examples but first, let’s think together about the types of meals you eat.

  1. List the meals your family enjoys the most.
  2. What meals do you make that can be frozen?
  3. Are there any meals you can batch cook?
  4. What items taste better fresh rather than as leftovers
  5. Look at this list with an eye for crossover items, for example, ground beef or chicken.

When I look at meal planning I do ask for input from my family and take note even if the list contains favorites such as grilled hamburgers, hot dogs, and mac and cheese. These are okay as fillers and must be made that day unless you used packaged or frozen mac and cheese!

Here is a short list of our family favorite meals in order:

  1. Italian:
    1. Chicken Cutlets and Spaghetti (homemade sauce)
    2. Spaghetti and meatballs
    3. Pizza, Calzones
    4. Lasagna
    5. Baked Ziti
    6. Feticuni Alfredo and grilled chicken
  1. Grilled:
    1. Hamburgers and hotdogs with mac and cheese and baked beans
    2. BBQ – Ribs and chicken wings
    3. Grilled BBQ chicken
    4. Steak
  2. American:
    1. Chicken pot pie with biscuits and a salad
    2. Pulled pork with cole slaw and beans
    3. Chicken tenders
    4. Roasts
  3. Mexican meals:
    1. Grilled chicken with fajita seasoning, tortilla shells, guacamole, shredded cheese and rice, and black beans
    2. Chicken enchiladas
    3. Tacos with chicken or ground beef
  4. Soups and More:
    1. Chicken Soup
    2. French Onion Soup
    3. Chili

Your list may or may not look like mine. Some of the missing elements are fish and pot roast. While classics in many families mine has never enjoyed pot roast. I love fish and often I’ll eat baked fish while the family eats fish sticks. As this isn’t a favorite meal I didn’t add it to the list. If I could get good fish locally, I’d probably eat it daily!

As you can see there are many meals with the following cooking tips that can be made and frozen or that are crossover–for example:

Cooking Tip #1 Ground Beef:

If I buy ground beef in bulk, I can make quite a few dishes at one time for various meals. For example, ground beef for tacos, chili, and lasagna – freeze it unseasoned and label the amount. Make meatballs, they freeze well. Form hamburgers and freeze with layers of wax paper. Put the food in freezer bags. Be sure to date.

Cooking Tip #2 Chicken:

Another is chicken. I can cook two chickens in the InstaPot. I can use this chicken for pot pies, for soup, for chicken salad, for chicken tacos, BBQ chicken (although my family prefers grilled chicken for this meal).

Cooking Tip #3 Grilling:

Grilling chicken for Mexican food, enchiladas, tacos, barbeque chicken, sandwiches.

Cooking Tip #4 Freeze meals:

Tomato sauce: I make this in big batches. I freeze some and use the others to make meals like casseroles.

Cooking Tip #5 Casseroles:

Lasagna and Baked Ziti freeze well. These can be made ahead of time and pulled out the day before – you can defrost in the refrigerator. Enchiladas also freeze well. I freeze the individual enchiladas and don’t pour the sauce over it until I heat them up to eat.

Cooking Tip #6 additional meals

  1. Stuffed Baked Potatoes with potato toppings such as ground beef, cheese, veggies, chopped ham
  2. Salad Bar: Recreate toppings from your favorite restaurants
  3. Rotisserie chicken: use leftovers for yummy chicken salad
  4. Breakfast for dinner – a family favorite.
  5. One pot or one skillet meals. Add a salad. You can do this with stir-fry or stew.

Cooking Tip #7 Seasonal Meals

Pumpkin: We enjoy wonderful seasonal favorites all year long. For example, I bake several cooking pumpkins and scoop out the pulp for pumpkin bread, muffins, pumpkin pie or pumpkin bars.

Apples: I buy apples in bulk and peel them, toss with about 1/4 cup sugar and one teaspoon of cinnamon and freeze flat. These make great additions to pancakes, muffins and of course pie.

Strawberries: Again, buy them in bulk. If they are not organic (and even if they are) be sure to wash them in white vinegar and water, rinse and pat dry before you freeze. These make wonderful smoothies and you can mash them with some sugar for strawberry shortcake. Yum!

Seasonal fruits and veggies: Be creative. Is zucchini on sale? Or onions? You can buy in bulk and sauté lightly (zucchini) – don’t overcook. This is a great side dish. Onions – I’ve sautéed these and use them when I make a sauce or other dishes. It is such a short cut! Less mess.

Currently, I’m on an elimination diet, no sugars, no dairy, no gluten, no preservatives restricted carbs and limited fruits (right now the focus is berries). I’ve learned to make so many things that are tasty and am considering incorporating a good portion of what I am eating into my daily diet.

So, if you are on a restricted diet – let’s say no to gluten or dairy you can do still cook for the family with an eye on what you can and can’t eat. You can use the baked chicken and season, use the pulled chicken for stir fry veggies, and eat a burger with a bed of lettuce instead of bread. So yummy!

Please share your great meal ideas with us and ways you save time and money.

More cooking tips here.

One of my favorite


Stress Busters For Mom

stress busters for mom | Learn 6 keys to avoiding stress in your life. #homeschool #podcast #homeschoolpodcast @stressbustersStress Busters For Mom – Episode 305

Everyone needs some stress busters for mom because stress results in many things but often it is a feeling of losing control — we lack control to manage our kids our schedules are overcrowded and we feel we can’t do it all. In this episode, we will look at ways stress can rob you of peace and joy — even your health!

Each day we can take charge with these stress busters for mom.  Here are a few tips to help you in your day-to-day travels as well as six points to help you prepare ahead of time by remembering that yes, you can live a life that is not overwhelming.

Thanks to all of our Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network sponsors for our birthday celebration!

Stress can affect your health. It is a proven fact. We want to keep stress down but every day something new crops up. Recently I spoke to a young mom of seven children who shared she was expecting a baby in a month, her air conditioner was making a strange noise, her well needed a new pump and her dishwasher wasn’t working correctly. If that isn’t stress in the making I don’t know what is! And, of course this sweet young mom homeschools.

Six Stress Busters For Mom:

  1. Let go of doing it all.
  2. Perfectionism has to be tempered with reality.
  3. Plans are great, schedules are wonderful but routines are better than both.
  4. DO something for YOU — just one thing. What is that one thing that will help you relax?
  5. Stop and smell the roses. Literally. Grab a blanket and watch the clouds or the night stars.
  6. Read a life-changing book. Devotionals are wonderful, short and can be done each day. Jesus Calling by Sarah Young, Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly (add your favorite life-changing books below in the comments).


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Change is in the Air Movie

This story embraces the imperfections that make us human, offers a way to set ourselves free and asks us all to take a good, long look at the wild birds in the sky.

Watch the trailer here!

Stress Free Field Trip Tips

Field Trip Tips | Super charge your field trips with these free planners | #homeschool #podcast #fieldtrips Stress Buster – Field Trip Tips 304

We’ve all been on field trips that were disasters. Taking kids who are excited, no matter what the age on a trip can be an unforgettable activity. Now add the stress of planning, packing lunch and all the things that go with it, and well…it is a fiasco waiting to happen. In this episode, we will tackle so tried and true techniques to make stressful field trips a thing of the past.

I want to thank my sponsor,

As a kid I loved field trips, they were the highlight of our year – and they can be for your kids and your family with some of these tips. As with anything, it takes some planning –but with a little help, you can incorporate field trips into your homeschool curriculum.

One of the keys to a successful field trip is to know what you are getting out of the effort. I think we stress when we feel like we packed up the kids, drove to a destination, unpacked the kids and our stuff, trudged around or paid money to trudge around and got nothing out of the effort.

A good field trip is:

  1. The kids are prepared.
    1. They know where you are going.
    2. What is expected. Is this a long nature walk, a museum or a visit to the fire station, etc.
    3. They have a camera, or access to one, something to write or draw with.
    4. Know they must be on their best behavior
  2. The moms and dads:
    1. Bathroom visit before you leave home.
    2. Packed snacks or lunch
    3. Have a cameral or cell phone for pictures (charged!)
    4. Have a way to record by writing, taking pictures, pictures of signs or plaques, and gathering information to ask the kids later.
    5. Go over field trip etiquette with the kids. Remember no running, wait for you or ask permission to walk with friends, listen if someone is a guide or explaining, no talking unless necessary.

Where do I begin?

Planning a field trip doesn’t have to be a marathon, in other words, more isn’t always better. Try to join a local homeschool support group in your area, or look at the local events planner to see what is happening in your town.

I have supplied some of the field trips forms I used myself in my homeschool days – here is a few of the forms I used Field Trip Guide

Be sure to subscribe to the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network mailing list to receive this type of planning guide each month in 2018! This guide is also available on the Media Angels Membership website.

Having these forms is a stress buster! I can use these lists to plan for field trips as well. Included in the following pages is a list of topic related field trips ideas and lists to get you started. Feel free to make your own and use these as a starting point.

Where to go?

What are you studying? That should give you a good idea of where to begin. Are you studying astronomy? The nature centers usually have a planetarium or star-gazing night program. Are you studying anatomy? A field trip to a local hospital or doctors office could be arranged. You may also wish to use doctors appointments as field trips. If your children are having routine teeth cleaning you can turn this into a trip by reading some literature about dental hygiene, good health, etc. before your visit. The same with the Vet’s office and pet care.

Field Trips on a Budget:

Begin by looking for free events or those charging a minimal fee. Usually, group rate discounts are the way to go. Gathering a group of 10 or more students is normally very easy to do. In our support group that would amount to one family! Seriously, many times all it takes is a few calls to gather a group of people interested in banding together for a trip.

Does it have to tie into your curriculum?

We try to plan our field trips to coincide with the topics we are currently studying.

Yet, that isn’t always possible. What then? Use the field trips as a bonus to review an already learned topic or to introduce a topic you plan to study in the future. For example, there is a local group that sponsors missionaries and teaches them how to plan food in foreign countries. We didn’t go to the last two field trips at this facility, but plan on going the next time it is offered (or going ourselves as volunteers) as we are currently planting a garden. It wasn’t a topic of interest when it was offered so we didn’t attend.

Be creative and take lots of pictures or have the children draw or notebook their activity once you arrive home. Don’t take all of the enjoyment out of every trip by requiring a full length article or term paper. (Unless your children love that sort of thing!) Remember, you are building memories and what better way than spending time with your children.


Special Thanks to Our Network Sponsor – Change is in the Air Movie

This story embraces the imperfections that make us human, offers a way to set ourselves free and asks us all to take a good, long look at the wild birds in the sky.

Watch the trailer here!