7 Unexpected Ways Life Changed When We Quit Homeschooling

7 Unexpected Ways Life Changed When We Quit Homeschooling

For the past two years, I home-schooled my four boys. Now that sentence alone should clue you in to the great difficulties I was up against: 4 BOYS, home-schooled! Add that to the fact that I don’t enjoy teaching, and it was a sort of a pressure-cooker for my heart.

The stress was too much for me personally. I gave it up, and enrolled my children in a Christian school this year. It was a change I had to make to save my own sanity.

Let me stress here that I am not anti-homeschool or anti-any kind of school! I’ve tried just about everything over the years. Each family must choose what works best for them and their children.

Want to know how life has changed for us? Click here to read the rest of this article, over at Monterey Premier.

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Making Do and Yard Sale-ing: How we send our kids to private school

making-do-and-yard-sale-ing: how we pay for 3 kid in private school

Our family is living on a budget for the first time…..since 8 years ago when we read that Dave Ramsey book.

This year was a huge change. We went from paying about $3,000/year in school tuitions to Classical Conversations and preschool to paying about $15,000/year total in private school tuitions. That’s two full school tuitions plus a partial one for my kindergartener, who has a partial scholarship. It was a big jump. We realized we were going to have to make major changes in how we live to pay for all of this.

I want to share what we are doing to make this work:

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#1. We down-sized our house.

We went from a 5-bedroom home in luxurious Monterey, California to a 3-bedroom home in Georgia. The difference is so vast, but I’ve actually enjoyed this change! No more stairs to go up and down. Hmmm Maybe that’s why I’ve gained weight….Plus, our new house still comfortably fits us. It has everything we need, and it came with a way better backyard, so this was not a hardship. This was a win. We only lost about 500 square feet. We ditched a room or two worth of furniture, and all is well.

We do have four kids in a 3-bedroom house, but only one of them complained, and I think it’s good for them.

#2. I took on a part-time writing gig with MontereyPremier.com in September, and I resumed product reviews and sponsored posts here on Stories of Our Boys.

Every little bit helps, and I’m still spoiled because I’m working from home. I still get to be with my three-year-old all day long. I can still cook dinner by 12 pm, and I’m able to pick up the boys from school every day. The only hitch is that I literally get paid by how much I work, so if I spend my day jumping on the trampoline with JD, baking, and sweeping, I don’t actually make any money at all. Ha….yeah, that happens a lot..

#3. We cut the bi-weekly cleaning lady, the gym, the pest control service, and the lawn care service.

Yes, we would like to have ALL of those services, but they are a luxury, not a necessity.

#4. We are “making do” with things that we’d like to replace, and saving up money to replace them later, rather than spending all we have or taking on a car payment.

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My minivan? It’s a 2007. One of the doors has taken on a mind of its own, so you now have to do these special maneuvers to get it to close, and if you do it wrong it will go “Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding!” Only it won’t start all that dinging until AFTER the car is driving, so then you have to find a place to pull over and shut that door to save your sanity. Also, the defroster is having issues. I guess that’s what paper towels are for.

The minivan is paid for, and the engine runs perfectly. Just don’t stand in the trunk putting away groceries too long because it will randomly start to close the trunk door on your head. Nice little adrenaline rush as you quickly remove all body parts and small children out of the way!!!

However, we are thankful that we have two cars that run. That van has never broken down, and it has 4 good tires. We’ll make do another year.

My mattress? 

It’s 14 years old, and my hips were starting to hate, hate, hate my flattened out old mattress. It wasn’t giving much anymore. Soooo…we bought a $25 quilted mattress cover. That didn’t help much. Then we bought a $15 egg crate and put that on top of the quilted mattress cover, and we’re good again! That’ll buy us another year, I’m hoping.

Our sofa?

Well….we’ve only had it for 3 years, but it got ripped in a few places with the move. I don’t even know how because it was all wrapped and padded. I have no idea why we didn’t put in a claim on it while we had the chance, but we didn’t, so now we are stuck with a sofa that’s all hurt looking and sad.

It’s on my list to get replaced first, but not until Christmas is taken care of. Here’s hoping for a new sofa in January or February!

#5. My favorite part: Yard Sale-ing!!!

You might recall that my parents had a house fire this year, so when we moved down here I started going to yard sales with my folks. It is so addictive!!!

Here’s a list of some of my amazing finds:

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I brought this bench home seriously muddy, but I spent an hour scrubbing it down, and it’s lookin’ good!

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My fall porch–Time to re-decorate again! Oh, and that ‘Welcome’ pumpkin door sign? It was only $15 at Big Lots.

-2 benches for $10 each

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$1 wall art. I love this, and I sometimes remember to pray before I hit the sales that I will find things we need at good prices.

 

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$1

 

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Look how pretty!!! Excuse the background. If I cleaned up all these photos, I’d never finish a blog post!

-Large Coach bag in PERFECT condition–for only $25!!!

-5 pairs of boys size 14 blue jeans for $2 a pair! Wow!

ladies shirts $1/shirt

-yoga pants $1

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-Mom got a computer chair for $5!

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-Sunglasses $1

-Baseball themed ceiling fan for half of what you’d pay in the store–I can’t remember how much! But it’s in one of the bedrooms at my parents’ new house now!

-Countless costumes, toys, books, and games

This is my new hobby. I’m all about it. Now I do realize that many people are into the Facebook yard sales now, the perpetual bargain fares. But have you noticed how over-priced they are? I can rarely save much over what I’d pay retail on those sites. Yard sales are still my favorite.

Thrift stores can be good too. I recently bought a nice set of shelves for only $15, plus a bag of AR books, all at Goodwill.

I love Aldi.

I love Aldi.

#6. Buying groceries at Aldi

I’m not a coupon-er, so I have to find the absolute most affordable place to go grocery shopping. Aldi is the cheapest store near me. The commissary is usually a great deal too, if you are military. But the best way to find out what place has the most affordable food is to shop a different store each week and make a comparison chart. When we lived in Texas, I was surprised to realize that Walmart actually was the cheapest, even better than the commissary!

I hope I’ve given you some ideas here for ways to stretch your budget. We are constantly looking for more ideas! Please share in the comments or email if you have more ideas for how you save money! How do you “make do” and find discounts?

Speaking of discounts….don’t forget to enter my gratitude giveaway….

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Just log in via FB or email, and choose 1 or 2 options! Good luck!!!

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Want to hear more stories about large family living? Sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter below, and that will also enter you in the giveaway drawing for the Thank-you notes!

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Cyber Monday Gratitude GIVEAWAY!!!!!

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How’s everyone’s Cyber Monday going? Ours was great. We did no shopping, but I did go to my cardio aqua-therapy class!!  So fun and invigorating!

This giveaway is for two packs of fill-in-the-blank notes from Lil’ Miss Gratitude!!  One of your packs will be thank-yous, and the other pack will either be birthday cards or “Hello” cards.

The front of the cards come blank so your kids color the front, or you can also send them out uncolored! These are appropriate for ALL AGES of kids.

I colored this one!

No more tears! A solution for kids' thank you notes

My boys colored this one. Creative.

These are an awesome way to get your kids expressing gratitude, brightening someone else’s day, and all without the whining and fussing.

Here’s a sample of a completed card:

Sample of a “hello” card that we used as a thank you note.

Joshua needed to write about 12 thank you notes after his birthday party, and when he saw these fill-in-the-blank cards, he was so relieved, he ACTUALLY SAID, “Oh, phew. Thank you, Mom. Thank you so much for these. This makes it so much easier.”

Click here to learn more about Lil’ Miss Gratitude!

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Giveaway rules! TWO simple ways to enter the giveaway this time.

1.) Subscribe to my newsletter. I have one going out this week! Already subscribed? No problem. That also counts. No need to subscribe again. Just click on the giveaway form below.

OR

2.) Visit Lil’ Miss Gratitude on Facebook, and  give her a “Like.” 

OR You could also do BOTH and get double entries.

I wish you could all win! Merry Christmas!!!!

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The 4 Month Moving Update: Peanut Festival, Trampoline Time, and Turnips

the morning after Black Friday funnies

John David is a multi-talented child. He can unroll a TP roll, pee, and weigh himself all at once.

The Morning After…..Black Friday

I have a Black Friday hangover today. Not the kind you get from alcohol. The kind you get from spending one day driving and eating and the next day shopping too much and driving.

I slept until 8am this morning because I literally could not wake up before that. Beat. I am so beat.

We went shopping on Friday and spent like crazy. I actually told my mom–as in I actually SAID, “It’s okay, though. This is Black Friday, so the money we spend today is like not real money.”

I was sort of kidding, but not really. Presents have to be purchased, right?

But it is real money. Oh, but it is.

We had a beautiful Thanksgiving, y’all. Beautiful. We forced all of our children to wear shirts with collars, and then we forgot to even take pictures. (It’s like we’re just being mean on purpose. *evil laugh*)

Collared shirts aside, everyone had a wonderful time. The food was top-notch too. We got to spend Thanksgiving with my family. That was extra important to me this year because it’s been a tough year for them. We all went over to my parents’ new house and looked around. The flooring is in. The walls are almost completely painted. The landscaping is even done. All they are lacking is a few appliances and pantry shelves. So exciting!!!!

We have no idea what day they will get to move in. That depends on insurance and inspections and such, so we wait. I’m leaving my suitcase packed, on alert to go help move!!!

The Moving Update: 4 Month Mark

We’re adjusting. I tried to take on too many blog projects but couldn’t juggle them all. As it turns out, being a stay at home mom is still a full-time job. Therefore, I’m keeping my blog expectations low for a little longer. However, I am enjoying writing for Monterey Premier on the side. I’m lucky to get one article turned in per week, but every little bit helps. That’s been a blessing.

Alan took over laundry duty, which may be the most exciting this that has ever happened to me. He has always helped with laundry. Don’t get me wrong there, but now he is in charge of laundry. Fully!

Let’s pause to throw a party and whoop and holler with delight!!!!!

The boys are doing well. They still like their new school. Basketball season has begun for Joshua, but it’s a middle school team, so I’m not feeling too hot about that. I’d rather have him on a 5th grade team, but we’ll see how it goes.

Daniel is taking wrestling lessons, believe it or not.

We’ve all been up to a little bit of adventuring mischief. Here are a few photos of the fun, for those of you who do not follow us on Instagram:

The Morning After......Black Friday

Providence Canyon State Park, Georgia

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Fall in Georgia

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Daniel lost a tooth. This was a BIG DEAL, but he insisted on keeping it in his pocket, so then he literally lost the tooth. We had to write the tooth fairy a note. Daniel said he doesn’t believe in the tooth fairy because his brother told him that she’s not real, but it was still important to Dan to leave a note……So I guess he really does still sort of believe.

Don’t worry. He did indeed get a dollar, a quarter, and a penny.

On a completely unrelated note, look what I found under my desk:

 

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John David and his black marker strike again.

 

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Fun times with Mom

JD and I spent HOURS of November on our trampoline. And no, it did not result in any weight loss. Once your hips swell up with arthritis, I actually have no idea how to shrink that. Thoughts, suggestions, anyone???

I’ve had to squash my vanity and just exercise for the fun of it.

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This face of pure joy. I need to hang this picture everywhere.

 

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These were such a life saver for us. Thank you notes that you just fill in the blanks. Best parenting hack ever.

Want some? My friend has an Etsy shop where you can score your own. See more here: lilmissgratitude.com.

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This Snoopy that I bought Daniel for Christmas last year is still making us smile this year, especially JD.

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I got these awesome turnips WITH roots from my brother. I thought I could substitute bacon for pork chops and it would still be as good. Wrong. Pork chop required for prime yummy-ness.

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Turnip greens with roots: a delightful Southern treat

 

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Yard sale-ing!!! I have literally saved about $1,000 by yard sale shopping this fall, and I have had so much fun in the process. These sunglasses were $1.00! Say what you want. I super-like them.

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Why I love Big Lots

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I literally spent one day rolling in fall leaves on the trampoline with J.D. It was glorious…..until the hay fever result came rolling in that night. Ha! Still worth it!

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Reveling in the fall leaves (and the pollen—achoo!)

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We went to the Peanut Festival, just the two of us!

We ate funnel cake, we rode 4 rides, and then we got so nauseous we gave the rest of our tickets away to some kids and left. Haha! So much fun though!

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My favorite ride as a kid. It was fun, but this is the ride that did us in.

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My other favorite ride: The Swings!

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I was so pumped to share my childhood stompin’ grounds with Alan. We’ve been married 14 years, and this was the FIRST time he’d ever gotten to go to the Peanut Festival.

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Cotton and mums

4 month moving update

John David got tired of the 6 pumpkins on our porch, so he tossed ALL of them into this bush.

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I love Caleb’s drawing so much I can’t stop sharing them.

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Another new Lula Roe top!

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Alan’s seriously creepy Halloween costume

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And last but not least, I found 20 DOLLARS in my jeans from last year. Wahoo!!! What should I buy first!!???

 

“Even to your old age and gray hairs, I am he, I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”   –Isaiah 46:4

 

Come back on Cyber Monday!!!!!!! I have a giveaway planned!!!!!!!

 

2016 Christmas Gift Guide for Tween Boys, Ages 8-12

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Top Pre-Teen Boy Picks: Ages ~8-12

 

#1. Popular Video Games this Christmas:

Our sons don’t have any of these yet, and all three are on my oldest’s list. His nonna has already claimed the basketball one, and I took care of the Skylanders, thanks to this incredible deal that Amazon is running right now on it. (That’s a link that’ll take you to it. So yes, this whole page is chock full of affiliate links.)

 

                               

 

 

         

#2. Cards, cards, and more cards!!!

 

                      

Both of my oldest two boys (ages 9 and 11) are crazy about these. Here’s a link to some card holders too because their collections get massive quickly.

                   

#3. Books my boys have asked for:

The latest Wimpy Kid book is HALF OFF on Amazon this week! I’m sure we’ll be completing our collection…


Epic Big Nate: This one is NOT on sale, and it’s $32. Youch. It’s an overview of Peirce’s career progression with Big Nate. I’m not sure that it has any cartoons in it that haven’t already been read, so we will be holding out on this one, but if you have a die-hard fan, like our son Joshua, it would still be a hit.

The Big Book of Who is $12.50, and has enough pictures to be a major hit for kids who love basketball and love memorizing sports stats.

This one is only $9, and it’s an excellent story of a boy overcoming adversity through hard work to become an NBA star. 

#4. Sports Team Apparel

This is the first year that sports team apparel has made both Joshua and Caleb’s lists. Clothes! They actually want clothes! Joshua wants (yet another) ball cap, and Caleb wants a Bryce Harper jersey. And our sports teams are all over the place because we move so much, but that’s okay. Here are the ones my boys want. Of course, the Braves and Georgia Bulldogs are more popular where I live. What team do your neighborhood kids root for?


 

#5. Well, actually, who DOESN’T want a drone this year???

This one is the Star Wars remote control Tie Fighter Drone, per Caleb’s specifications!

#6. A New Bat (or sports equipment in general)

 

 

#7. Lego

Lego sets are still a safe bet for some boys, but not others. Caleb still loves them. They weren’t at the top of the list this year. However, they do get excited about the Legos that you can do robotics with, the kind that have moving parts.


The very affordable Star Wars build able figures are still a hit.

And then there’s these, for the mechanically inclined:

Buyer beware: It’s $200. This is just a pipe dream for most of our kids. Ha!

But they do make these:  lego

These are only $30, and you can add these motors to Lego creations that they already have or make to go with it. 

#8. A Mega Nerf Gun

We refuse to buy any more of them because our boys have way too many, and yet it still turned up on Caleb’s Christmas list, yet again. Caleb has this one, and it is pretty amazing:

 

Toys we’ve graduated from:

–Hotwheels (sad, I know)

–Super Hero Toys

–costumes

This age group is mostly past the above toys. My younger boys love them, though!

I hope at least one of these ideas will be helpful for you. Please always feel free to share with me what types of articles you’d like to see on the blog or the newsletter.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Don’t forget to sign up for my new newsletter! This post was supposed to be the first official newsletter, but since I only have 4 subscribers (Thanks, Mom!!!), I decided to go ahead and share it on my blog too. (Hahaha! So sad, I know, but after all, I did just start it a couple of days ago!) Once we get to 10 subscriptions I’ll send out a real newsletter that does not also appear on the website!!

Subscribe to our new and exciting newsletter! (Even if you are already getting the blog posts; the newsletter will be different.)

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