My 4 Favorite Homemaking Hacks for 2018

I love Christmas break. Time off from spelling tests, chauffeur duties, graded papers, packing lunches, and best of all I’m not desperately rushing everyone to not be late…..oh how I love time off.

We always spend a few days at my parent’s house and a few days at Alan’s parents’ house, and it’s such a blessing to spend time with them and soak up the rest and good conversation.

With people you see on a daily basis, it can be easy to fall prey to simply talking about your shared problems and the annoying people you have to deal with. Ha! We all have them.

But when we get together with family at Christmas, we can re-focus on what matters and gain wisdom from others. We can always do that during the everyday too, of course, but I get the best ideas when I have some time and space to read and think!

Daniel and his favorite cousin at Christmas. They were born only a month apart.

I am reading 2 books and taking 1 online course that I’m gaining immensely from. One is on grocery budgeting and the other is on marriage. The course is about planning.

Alan even found an app for us to use for grocery shopping that has also been hugely helpful. I wanted to pass those along to y’all.

The Books

1.) How to Win the Grocery Game

I’m including an eBay link above for that one, which I do not make any money from. I just found the eBay price to be slightly better than Amazon.

This is an extremely practical book about saving money on grocery shopping. However, it was written in the 1970s and is extremely outdated. I’ve had to look for more modern ways to implement some of the strategies in this book, but it’s the strategies and the meal planning tips that make the book worth while…..if you can look past the insane price amounts on everything. You have to ignore those since this book is from the 70s!!

I’ll share with you a modern app I’ve used to help me do one thing from the book later in this post.

2.) Created to Be His Helpmeet

The above link is to the Amazon Kindle edition, but it is available in paperback on Amazon and other sellers as well. I do earn a small percentage when you buy through this link.

This book doesn’t even attempt political correctness with words like “hillbilly ugly” and “submit”. Ha! You have been warned.

But I’ve found it to be practical and helpful, a solid reminder. It has also helped me understand my husband better, as she divides men up into three groups: command types, visionaries, and steady men.

The book is about becoming a kinder, more helpful wife, and by doing that, you can’t help but improve your marriage, even if you’re married to the Grinch himself. I’m only 1/3 the way through it, but so far it has helped me to straight up be a nicer person at home with my husband.

I also love that it’s written by an older woman. She has walked through all the phases of life, and she’s sharing what she has learned.

Us with Alan’s side of the fam. Greg was MIA this year due to food poisoning. You were missed, Greg!

The App

As I mentioned above, I’ve found a more modern way to implement the grocery strategy, but it isn’t foolproof. I’m not sure if the database is leaving out all the goods from stores like Aldi and the Pig because they came up less frequently than I expected. Some work may still need to be done there.

But if you want an easy way to compare everyday prices at one store with sale prices from the circulars, this is an awesome app.

It’s called Basket.

You type in your grocery list. It gives you options for brands and lines them up by price. Try it out. You may end up spending hours on it like Alan and I have.

We put in our entire grocery list, and then we hit “compare prices”. It showed us that the cheapest way to get all our groceries at one store was to go to Walmart. However, the real issue was that Walmart was the only store that carried every item on our list.

To get the best savings, you can tell it to break it up into 2 stores. That gave us Walmart and Food Depot. In the list, it breaks down which items we should buy at Food Depot and which ones we should purchase at Walmart.

Wow, huh?

It was funny how it would switch stores as we put more groceries in!

However, Alan found that not all of the prices and sizes were available at Walmart, so checking your weekly circulars is still important.

I think this is a good tool, but it doesn’t truly replace searching through the weekly grocery ads.

 

Christmas morning

Chore Looping

Another exciting tip I got this Christmas is “chore looping,” which my sister-in-law, Amy, told me about.

For those of us who have trouble with other methods of keeping up with house cleaning schedules, chore looping is the way to go.

You make a list of tasks, like this:

  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Sweep and mop the floors.
  • Scrub master bath.

etc., etc. Add whatever rooms you have.

Then you work through it until you reach the end and start over, and it doesn’t have to be all in one day, all in one week, or even all in one month. You just work through the list as you are able.

Some tasks you have to write on your list more than once, like scrubbing that bathroom that all 4 boys use…bleh…

For Example:

  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Sweep and mop the floors.
  • Scrub master bath.
  • Vacuum.
  • Scrub hall bathroom.
  • Tidy up dining room.
  • Clean the kitchen.
  • Tidy up living room.
  • Dust the house.
  • Scrub hall bathroom….lol…again and again and again…

…And the list goes on until you’ve covered all the tasks you can think of.

Some days you do 3 or 4 of them. Other days you do 1 or none at all. It just depends on when you have the time!

If you do marathon clean, then you skip the repeats. I almost never marathon clean. Why? Because it’s exhausting, and I was always hoping I’d be affording a maid by now….lol

Daniel helping with the Men’s Pancake Breakfast at church

I’ll save my excitement of my new Brilliant Life Planner and accompanying online planning course for another day. I can’t wait to show it to you. In fact, I’m definitely going to do a Facebook Live all about this planner this week, on my Stories of Our Boys Facebook page.

I hope you all had an absolutely fabulous Christmas and are as excited about the new year as I am! Actually, I’m pretty nervous about 2018. Moving…deep breaths…deep breaths…I’m going to need all the organization I can accomplish!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”    Jeremiah 29:11

 

 

 

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A Parent Review of ABCmouse: Keeping Our Brains Working Through Summer

 

Like most moms, I TRY to keep my children from letting all of their knowledge fall out over the summer.

Any “book learnin'” my four boys accomplish over the summer is typically solely because I forced them to do it. Maybe your kids aren’t like mine, I don’t know, but my children never ASK me to do workbook pages and catch up on their reading logs.

When I was a little girl, I LOVED doing workbooks, but that is not my kids. I can’t even fathom that.

Have we read this summer? Yes, tons. Have I recorded half of those books on the required reading logs? Um, no. Like I don’t have enough things to remember to do.

So at the end of the summer, I’ll basically stand there with the boys, wracking my brain, while begging them to think back, to remember what all they read this summer so we can fill out that bless-ed log.

Reading is the perfect start to keeping our minds active all summer long, but there are other skills to focus on in school too, and for that I have been looking for a good phone app that I can put my younger boys on!

After years of hearing of ABCmouse.com, I finally decided to download it and let my younger boys (ages 6 and 4) try it out.

I am happy to tell you it is everything I had hoped for, which means that they cover both letters, numbers, and other topics, and they can even play it unassisted.

You do need to help them at first, so they know where to find all the different things the app or website can do.

Actually, if your child is new to iPad games or is preschool age, I would help them the whole first week that they use it, just so you can guide them to less frustration and point them to the games that they could benefit the most from.

John David is 4, and I sit down and basically just watch him use it, and say things like, “Great job!” as he zips through a map (which is like 6 mini-lesson activities). After that, I turn him loose on it, and he can play with it however he chooses.

It’s a big deal to him that we do it together, and he cuddles in my lap while he works on his activities.

Daniel is 6, and he requires no supervision on the app at all.

My favorite thing about it is the sight word games. I also appreciate that each lesson is age appropriate. Too often, game makers over-estimate the finger dexterity or involvement of the parents.

Daniel’s favorite thing: Getting to play games on my phone

John David’s favorite part: Puzzles!!!

I went through today’s lessons for John David and Daniel and screen-shotted to show you what to expect with this app, a sneak peek if you will.

Actually, I should clarify that ABCmouse.com is not just an app. This entire program can be done on a mobile device or on a computer.

What to Expect

 

A Parent Review of ABCmouse

This puzzle sentence was on a K4 lesson. John David had no trouble dragging and dropping the words into place.

A Parent Review of ABCmouse

This is found on the initial preschool/kindergarten screen. Once you past this puzzle, you get a new one. We focused on puzzles because they were JD’s favorite.

 

Both of my boys love an app where you can color.

 

I forget what section this game was under, but Daniel had to choose the starting letter of each picture to spell the word.

 

There are many books in this app, which they read to your child. As the story is read, they highlight words as they go. This particular one was a lesson on the letter b.

 

In this sight word game, you get to smash the bugs with the correct sight word. I thought this one was so fun that I could have played it myself. Not even kidding.

 

An important lesson!

Choosing Your Kids’ Level

I goofed when I signed Daniel up, and I started him on Kindergarten lessons. When he opened it up to a lesson on “Aa”, he got insulted and put it down, so be careful what level you choose! Haha!! He is in 1st grade now, so I switched it to the 1st grade level.

It was very simple to sign in as the parent and switch his level up one, and then he had better lessons.

John David, on the other hand, is not accustomed to playing games on an iPad, so I put him  on K3 so it would be super easy while he learned how to use the app. Once he got used to it, I upped him to K4 lessons.

John David LOVES these games. He’s already amassed hundreds of tickets, which he can use to buy all sorts of little digital things for his ABCmouse avatar and room. He was even excited to earn his avatar a pair of blue pants. “Oooooh! Blue pants. I wike blue pants!”

I know you’re wondering, and I was too! How much does this cost???

The first month is FREE. Afterwards, it’s $7.95/per month. Nice!

 

me and my little scholars

 

“Mom, can I pway dat game on your phone?” Batman is quite a fan of ABCmouse!

I wish had discovered this website years ago because I feel like it’s truly going to help the boys to keep ahead this summer!

Now, y’all, if you decide to try it out too, PLEASE click on my links in this post or on my website to take you to the ABCmouse.com website because I do earn a small fee for each referral I send them who signs up.

Let me know if you try it and what you thought! Feel free to ask me any questions in the comments!!

 

 

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Sign up below to join the Stories of Our Boys newsletter, which goes out every other Thursday, and receive this free e-book about tween parenting! This is a compilation by 30 bloggers, and I wrote a chapter of it, about my favorite 2 books to encourage good character!

 

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