No Stress Homeschooling – Thoughts On What I Have Learned & Free Resources

11107369_1411576342504043_7942726883185188231_nThis past year was insanely crazy. I mean with all the health issues going on, my fulltime job and 3 kids to educate, it was a busy year to say the least.
So this time around, I’m working on a no fuss homeschooling schedule. No fancy curriculums and no stressful books.
In spending about 10 hours researching, I’m amazed at everything available outside of expensive curriculums that can help kids learn. Last night after I finished researching and reading tons of articles online, I grabbed some mini dinosaurs I bought at a thrift store and in just 15 minutes I taught our preschooler some basic math skills. I had him write his answer on paper and that was it. That’s math class for him and it works great with his learning style and sensory needs.

He starts Kindergarten this year and we’ll be using a relaxed homeschooling approach with him since I noticed that he really dislikes doing worksheets for more than 5 minutes a day. So with him we’ll read books on each subject for 15 minutes a day and use thrift shop finds as visual aids in learning math, logic and science.
His entire homeschooling day will only take about an hour and a half and it’s something I can do on my lunch hour and in the evening after work, so that’s awesome.

When we started homeschooling last year we were sold into the idea that our kids had to follow an expensive, complicated and stressful curriculum. But it was not necessary and now I know that allowing them to grow in the areas they enjoy most makes more sense then forcing them to sit at a desk doing seatwork for 6 hours a day.  Although seatwork is important it should not be the only form of learning and it definitely should not be forced on small children as we were doing erroneously.

Biblically as I look at how Jesus taught his disciples and those around him I am convinced that traditional public school education is completely wrong and leaves many kids thinking they are dumb without maximizing their potential. When I look at Jesus I see a man who taught outdoors, who without having much had everything he needed even though he had no secure place to lay his head each night. When I think of who I want my kids to be like, I envision Jesus and his humility. His love for others, his simplicity and his amazing teaching style. I don’t want my kids to be like Steve Jobs or their favorite sports figure, I want them to be like Christ. To grow up and use their talents and strengths to impact the world for Gods glory.
Sadly, education today is seen and managed in a cookie cutter method. But unfortunately this method does not allow a child to grow, to question and to logically work through life’s ups and downs.

So for us, homeschooling this year will take on a whole new approach. It will be parent and student lead, relaxed yet enriched, full yet not stifling.
I am so blessed that the light bulb finally went off in my head and my “ah ha” arrived before we continued to damage our children’s educational process.

If you are on a home-schooling journey and you are wondering how it can be done, I invite you to check out these links below for some great articles on homeschooling methods, free curriculum, free worksheets and more.
May you be encouraged and inspired to make the best decision for your family.
God bless you!

(Pictured: our smallest child, happy to receive a beanie baby my aunt rewarded him with for sounding out new words.)
Below are some awesome links, I highly recommend you visit if you are wanting to homeschool or homeschooling already:

Teaching our children to write, read and spell

Links to educational sites, free homeschooling resources, fun interactive learning activities, information about homeschooling, and lots of other “homeschooling freebies!”

The best advice of seasoned homeschoolers and other educators

Considering Methods & Styles of Homeschooling

Free Complete Online Homeschool Curriculum List

Homeschooling High school

Preparing to Homeschool: Homeschooling Styles

Online Homeschooling via

50 States Coloring Pages

KidZone Geography United States Printables

500 Free Printable Lunchbox Notes to use at the kitchen table or for a picnic in the park

Free Homeschool Geography Resources


I Saved Over $200 This Week – Secrets of an Upcycled, Jesus Loving, Frugal Mom on a Budget

Okay, so if you read my upcycled homeschooling on a budget post a few weeks back you know that financial times for us have been rough due to my husband not working as a result of 3 emergency surgeries since last year. Needles to say my already frugal habits have been pushed, stretched and multiplied.
Supporting a family of 5 on a small budget of one income while paying for hospital bills, groceries and utility bills can be difficult if you don’t plan accordingly.  Planning accordingly means intentionally taking manufacturer coupons, online coupons and competitor coupons to my local grocer when shopping to add to my overall savings. In most cases many grocery stores will honor competitor coupons while also allowing you to use a manufactures coupon and a discount coupon from their store. That can equate to lots of money in savings. If you read through towards the bottom you will discover another great way to get actual cash back in your pocket every time you shop. Its so simple its silly!

For me, saving money comes naturally as I absolutely despise paying full price for anything. What makes it difficult at times is that I don’t like to pay full price and I don’t like to purchase cheap things or bad food. We eat healthy, I cook almost everything from scratch and Organic is the way to go in our home. An example of my dislike of cheap things is my preference over the years for Timberland Earthkeepers, Kamik and Sorel boots. These are all conformable, durable boots that help my back pain, feel great on my feet and can be very inexpensive if you know how to shop.
I mean a few years ago we literally saved $200 on a pair of Kamik boots that normally cost around $300. After a few online coupons they were purchased for under $70 with free shipping and have lasted me many years. Other boots and clothing items have been purchased in thrift shops and online using promo codes that can easily be found by entering in Google the online store you shop at and adding promo code next to the store’s name.
In seconds you will find tons of promo codes that can be used during checkout online shopping.

Now, moving on to my savings these past few days; let me share that this week the battery in my truck went and I could not drive the older kids to school. Our little one was in bed with daddy who is still recuperating after a week in the hospital due to an emergency surgery 2 weeks ago.
I felt like crying after hanging up with our mechanic who said it would be $150 with installation plus the gas it would take me to drive almost 45 minutes to his shop.
So what did this frugal momma do? I got online of course.
First with God and then with Google, lol.

I found the battery for my truck at Advanced Auto Parts for $149 and after some online promo codes I paid a total of $90 and picked up the battery in their local store, 5 minutes away. After jumping my jar I was able to make it to their store. And who knew that they install batteries for free! So I walked away saving $60 just on the battery alone.

Later that day, while all were asleep I took a look into our fridge and realized that we were running low on poultry.
Since I only shop during sales and when I have coupons I looked at my coupon stash and realized that I did not have any discounts available. I checked online for the Wholefoods discounts at my local store and Whoelfoods coupon book and was happy to find these GF, antibiotic and hormone free cooked chicken tenders on sale for BOGO free.  The total price of purchase for these was $3.50 per box for almost a pound of tenders. Compare that to purchasing uncooked; antibiotic, hormone free or organic chicken and you would be paying about $8 per pound without a sale plus having to cook it and use other ingredients for an added cost, not to mention your time.
So I was feeling really happy.

But my happiness and sense of frugality continued! I also got a fantastic deal on organic cereal. I used a few coupons inside the Wholefoods coupon book for March/April plus coupons we found at Mambo Sprouts, Common Kindness. and a few other online coupon sites.
I purchased 8 cereals for $1.99 each equating in a total savings of $24. Now, right about here things started to get interesting. While still in the store, I logged into a little App called Ibotta. This App is a must have for all smart phone, savvy and frugal people. It gives you cash back on purchases you make that match the products they are featuring. Turns out they were giving back $.50 per each of the cereals I purchased at Wholefoods. Redeeming your savings is as easy as photographing your receipt with your phone or tablet and unlocking savings by reading, watching short videos or sharing via social media.
With Ibotta I was able to save an additional $4 on all the cereals I purchased making it possible for this family on a budget to enjoy delicious, organic, cereal for the next few weeks at $1.50 a box instead of the regular price of $5.

Now here is a little trick. If you see that Ibotta has $1 back on Milk and you need to purchase 2 milks then ask your cashier to do separate purchases. Or give your older child the money and have him or her check out at a different lane. It is never to early to teach our children the art of good stewardship. By making separate purchases with 2 different receipts, you can redeem more than one item and get $2 back on your purchase. To do this make sure each person in your household opens an Ibotta account so that you can redeem your cash back on each account.
But the savings do not stop here. Be sure to clip online and newspaper coupons for the milk before you purchase it. Check your local store and shop when items are on sale, then use your coupons and redeem your cash with Ibotta.

My savings continued online as I purchased overstock organic cold cuts from Organic Prairie at 50% off with free shipping.  You can visit their site here. Be sure to look on their current specials and discounts on FB and on their website.
We also pack in extra savings purchasing in season fruits, veggies and other foods at local CSA’s and farmers markets. To find one near you click here.
Also remember that many stores will honor competitor coupons, will double the value of coupons and will let you use 2 or 3 coupons per item. I recommend that if you are serious about shopping and saving don’t forget to print out the coupon policy for each of the stores you shop at and be sure to check with a manager each month to insure the policy has not changed.

For more awesome ways to save when shopping at your local grocer, check out this book and this book. They have fantastic info for the frugal momma and papa.

May you and yours be blessed!
Lots of Love,
Mariana AKA the frugal, upcycled, Jesus loving momma!

Homeschooling Preparation On a Budget – Upcycled Faithful & Fun – You Don’t want to Miss This

I like to think of myself as a pretty frugal gal. I despise waste and I love upcycling. From I was in diapers my sweet dad ingrained in me the art of upcycling and making treasures out of trash. He … Continue reading

Don’t Plan Without God

Commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass —Psalm 37:5

Don’t plan without God. God seems to have a delightful way of upsetting the plans we have made, when we have not taken Him into account. We get ourselves into circumstances that were not chosen by God, and suddenly we realize that we have been making our plans without Him— that we have not even considered Him to be a vital, living factor in the planning of our lives. And yet the only thing that will keep us from even the possibility of worrying is to bring God in as the greatest factor in all of our planning.In spiritual issues it is customary for us to put God first, but we tend to think that it is inappropriate and unnecessary to put Him first in the practical, everyday issues of our lives. If we have the idea that we have to put on our “spiritual face” before we can come near to God, then we will never come near to Him. We must come as we are.Don’t plan with a concern for evil in mind. Does God really mean for us to plan without taking the evil around us into account? “Love . . . thinks no evil” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Love is not ignorant of the existence of evil, but it does not take it into account as a factor in planning. When we were apart from God, we did take evil into account, doing all of our planning with it in mind, and we tried to reason out all of our work from its standpoint.Don’t plan with a rainy day in mind. You cannot hoard things for a rainy day if you are truly trusting Christ. Jesus said, “Let not your heart be troubled . . .” (John 14:1). God will not keep your heart from being troubled. It is a command— “Let not. . . .” To do it, continually pick yourself up, even if you fall a hundred and one times a day, until you get into the habit of putting God first and planning with Him in mind.

Written by Oswald Chambers