5 Tips to Stretch Your Homeschool Budget

5tipstostretchyourhomeschoolbudgetIt’s that time of year again. May. Time to start wrapping up your homeschool year, evaluating what worked and what didn’t, plan out your curriculum for next year and hitting all of those homeschool conferences!! What busy fun, right? But the biggest damper can be your budget. Especially when you are walking down those vendor halls and want absolutely everything you see. 

I know time is precious but I just wanted to share five quick and easy tips to stretch your homeschool budget. So, let’s get right to it, shall we?

Buy used. I know this is not always possible but if you know what you want ahead of time, you can stalk the used sites until it shows up. There are many ways to purchase used curriculum – check local stores in your area (I have found some privately owned Christian stores stock used curriculum, education supply stores and all used bookstores), also be sure you are on any list of local homeschool groups. Most larger groups host a used curriculum sale. And of course, there’s the internet. There are several Facebook groups that sell used curriculum, also Vegsource.com/homeschool and my personal favorite, Homeschool Classifieds. I am sure that there are many more, just Google it.

PROS: You can save usually half the cost and you know that you are helping another mom buy the next level curriculum for her kids.

CONS: Popular items tend to go quickly, you can’t see the products first-hand so make sure you are familiar with it ahead of time, sometimes you have to compromise on condition (written-in, or broken spine, etc.)

Swap. If you are fortunate enough to belong to a large homeschool support group, see if there are other moms that would be willing to swap curriculum with you. When I lived in NC, I had a friend whose daughter was one level below mine and a level above my other daughter. It was great to just pass around what we needed. In fact, we attended homeschool conferences together and planned our years so that we could share some of the materials. You could also swap students. This could work like your own little co-op, you could teach one subject and the other mom could teach another subject. Play to your strengths! Of course, this only works on subjects that aren’t age/grade specific unless your kids are on the same level.

PROS: Saves you time and money depending on which option you use.

CONS: You have to find a willing participant.

Multi-Level Teaching. I know I just mentioned swapping students but multi-level teaching is an easy way to streamline your own homeschool. There are very few subjects that must be taught sequentially and all others can be taught together. I often teach history, science, geography, writing, and art together. You only have to adjust assignments to  the child’s level. Most curriculum actually has ideas to challenge older students or make it easier for younger students. When you multi-teach, you only need to purchase multiple consumables.

PROS: Saves you time and money. 

CONS: Might not work if your children have a large age gap or learning styles vary greatly. 

Library. Never underestimate your local library! Libraries offer so much more than just books too. We use our library for about ninety percent of our regular reading material but did you know that there are also courses offered? Our local library has a huge selection of Standard Deviant DVDs and also Great American Courses. I often check out DVDs to go along with our studies. (Especially ones that will supplement our geography studies since unfortunately, we can’t travel extensively.) Our library also offers some digital resources, including a a wide selection of audio books, online learning games and foreign language courses!!! Most libraries also offer inner-loan services so if they do not carry what you need, they can get it from another source. If you live near a county line, you can take advantage of belonging to multiple libraries and expand your amount of resources. 

PROS: You can save a lot of money. I saved almost $400 one year just by access the foreign language courses offered.

CONS: Be careful or you could rack up some serious fines if you don’t return the items on time. Also, depending on your area, the selection might be limited.

Book BundlesI am a huge advocate of ebooks. I admit that I was a little late coming to the party but since downsizing, I realize that actual books do take up a lot of space!! I love book bundles for several reasons – saves on space, saves on money (most bundles save you waaayyyy more than even half off!!!), great resources to either completely cover a subject or add great ways to supplement. But the main reason I love bundles? – you can gain access to curriculum and if you don’t absolutely love it, you don’t fret over the lost money. I can’t tell you how many times it works in reverse for me, too. I will buy curriculum that everyone else loves but it just didn’t work for my family. And now, I’ve spent my budget. Lucky for me, I can also go to library of ebooks and pull something to replace it.

PROS: Ummmm, I think I already shared all of those but to recap: money, space, access to more. Also, bundles tend to have more than just curriculum but also planners, courses, books on marriage, parenting, health, etc. etc. etc. ๐Ÿ™‚

CONS: Book bundles are usually only available for a very limited time so you have to jump on them fast. (Be sure you subscribe to my site and I’ll let you know what a good one is coming up!!!) Right now, Omnibus 2016 is available but ends this Sunday. 

Homeschool Omnibus

What’s your best ways to stretch the homeschool budget?

Book Review: Better Together, Because You Are Not Meant to Mom Alone

BetterTogether book Review

I remember my school days. I would spend the day with my friends, ride the bus home sitting with them, and then run home to jump on the phone to talk some more. (What did we talk about so much??!!) And then I grew older. And got married. And had children. And when I really needed friends the most, I realized that by being so busy with just daily obligations, I had let one of the most important support systems in my life diminish – friendships. Why is is that when we enter parenthood and really need the encouragement and sounding boards that friends can offer, that we tend to let them slip away?

Jill Savage along with her daughter, Anne McClane, have written a book that addresses a very real need that mothers should recognize in their latest book, Better Together, Because You Are Not Meant to Mom Alone. The book begins with why we need to belong to a “mommy tribe”. The following benefits are covered:

  • Connection
  • A Sense of Belonging
  • The Ability to Give
  • The Ability to Receive
  • Sounding Board
  • Wisdom and Experiences of Others
  • Marital Health
  • Spiritual Health
  • Emotional Health
  • Physical Health

You should not be expecting one friend to meet all of your needs. And not all friends will last you a lifetime; some are put in your life for a particular season. Personally, I have friends that I can discuss homeschooling with – they are other moms that can identify with the challenges that I face and don’t quickly suggest to just put my kids in school like non-homeschool moms do. I have friends that I go to for spiritual advice or marriage advice. They are usually quit a bit older than me and aren’t in the same parenting season that I am in but they have “been there, done that” and I can learn from their wisdom. Even my very best friend who could meet almost every criteria couldn’t sympathize with juggling five kids as she only had one. 

As the old saying goes, you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket, the same goes for friends. I am very private. I don’t get close to many people. I would say that I have plenty of acquaintances but few friends. (I think it’s a trust issue…) Anyway, about fifteen years ago, I met Beth. She was almost ten years older and had only one son. I thought webeth had very little in common when we first met. But she was persistent ๐Ÿ™‚ I am terrible about reaching out or keeping in touch with people. No worries, Beth decided we were going to be best friends and she called me sometimes two or three times a day. I liked to tease her that she eventually wore me down. She was extremely outgoing, never met a stranger, tall and skinny. I was her complete opposite. But together, we were a complete balance. She became the best friend I ever had. She was one of those friends you could call in the middle of the night and talk for an hour if you needed it. Then, almost exactly two years ago now, she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. She had gone to the emergency room, was diagnosed and admitted. Only eighteen days later, she passed away. (I still cannot type this without crying.) There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss her.


When it first happened, I immediately shut down. What’s the point of finally allowing someone to get close and then suffer if they leave? The pain was simply not worth it to me. I shut out everyone. And then as life happens, I reached a point that I desperately needed someone to talk to. Someone that could share whatever I was going through. I have found that I constantly have to reach beyond my comfort zone. I have to learn to open up more. To trust. And to realize that I might never find one more friend that can fit as many needs as Beth did but I can find a friend to meet each need. Slowly but surely, God is putting friends in my life. It’s still hard but I realize how necessary it is. 

The past year, I’ve had parenting challenges that I never thought I would face. Once again, I started shutting down. Do you know how hard it is to talk to someone about what you see as your own biggest failure? Then I found a few other moms that have been through similar struggles. I thought I was drowning but they became my life boat. Hard times will also show you what friends you can really rely on. Friends that I thought would always be there, stepped aside. Again, I was tempted to just shut everyone out.

And that’s the exact time that Better Together came into my life. I realized the importance of girlfriends and that it is not fair to expect my husband to fill those needs that only other moms can. I also learned more about myself by taking the Mothering Personality Inventory quiz located in the appendix. (I’m an Introvert, Internal Processing Person, an Outie organizer, Spontaneous mom and Medium-Low Capacity Person. And I’m also not sure that I’ve always been this way….).

Better Together not only gives you the why for having other mommy friends, but how to get them. Seriously, where was this book years ago??!! There are suggestions for where to find friends, conversation starters and even activities to do together. You can easily navigate the stages of friendships from TBF (Trying to Be Friends) to MBF (Might Be Friends) to GGF (Good Girlfriend) to those rare BFF (Best Friend Forever).

At the end of each chapter, there’s a Something to Think About that offers you a chance for deeper thinking and then also a Friendship Assignment. I especially love all the golden nuggets found in the appendixes which includes ideas for co-ops and Bible verses to share to encourage one another.


Jill Savage the founder and CEO of Hearts at Home, an author and speaker. While this is Anne McClane’s first book, she blogs about motherhood at Everyday Small Things.

I received a free copy of this book from SideDoor.com in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are my own and no other compensation was received. You may read my full disclosure here.


8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids – A Book Review

8 simple tools review

Parenting is definitely the most challenging, yet most rewarding, job you will ever do. My husband and I have five kids, ages 26 down to 9. I am often asked what stage is the hardest. I’ve probably said this before, but honestly, it’s true, – the hardest stage is whichever stage you are currently in. And if you have a large spread in ages like we do, sometimes you are lucky enough to juggle more than one stage at a time. For me, the hardest stage is 18-22 years. At that point, you are stepping back and watching with baited breath, as your baby (they will always be your baby, right??!!) tries out their “adult wings”. It’s more of the hands-off season yet any mistakes they make now, usually have the toughest consequences. You must pray and hope that all of the years of training prior to this time, has equipped them. During this time, they seem least resistant to your advice, yet they need it more than ever. It’s also the time that your relationship gradually starts shifting a little more towards the friend role. Hopefully, you and your children actually like to spend time with each other and it’s wonderful to be able to just hang out with them and not constantly be worrying about them misbehaving, getting lost, bickering with each other, or whatever the struggles were when they were younger.

However, during those years in the trenches, how often do you ever have time to take a break from actual parenting to read a book to help you do just that?? I tell young moms-to-be to read parenting books before they ever get pregnant because once the babies start coming, you don’t have as much time to read. That’s why I am excited to share this book with you. It has short, concise chapters. It’s very practical. It’s “real”. And it has enough humor to make it ever more enjoyable. Before I knew it, I had already read half the book just the first day!

About the Book

8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids gives you  practical insight into the toolbox you need for successful parenting. To do any job correctly, you must have the correct tools. The following tools are covered:

  • Talking
  • Listening
  • Influencing
  • Connecting
  • Teaching
  • Encouraging
  • Correcting
  • Leading

There’s five short chapters assigned to each tool. At the end of each chapter, there’s a tip given and points to consider to help you really grasp what you’ve read and apply the principles. There’s assessments available on the website, that will help determine your parenting strengths and your effectiveness.

ISBN 9780802413871

Publisher: Moody

About the Author

Dr. Todd Cartmell has over twenty years as a child psychologist. He has written five faith-based parenting books, created The Flexible Thinking Game,  and has spoken at numerous conferences. He currently resides in Illinois with his wife and two sons. 

Reader Bonuses

When you purchase 8 Simple Tools for Raising Great Kids, you will have free access to the HEARTS AT HOME “ESSENTIAL WORKSHOP COLLECTION FOR PARENTS” , and if you make your purchase from Moody’s site between April 15 and May 15, 2015, you can use code GREATKIDS16 to receive a 50% discount!!!

Get Connected

Official Websitewww.8simpletools.com

Dr. Todd Cartmell’s Facebook page

Disclaimer for FlyBy Promo


Logic of English Essentials 2nd Edition Vol 1 Review

I have been homeschooling since 1994 and I can honestly say that after using numerous phonics/language arts programs, Logic of English is by far my favorite. When I was offered to review their second edition, I begged. Seriously. Do you remember when I was first introduced to Logic of English and did a review of their Foundations A program? It was so wonderful that I purchased Essentials to continue with as a remedial course for my older son. I honestly did not think that they could improve Essentials, but they have.

LOE ReviewHighlights of Essentials:

  • One curriculum covers reading, spelling, vocabulary and grammar.
  • Multi-Level instructions included, with three levels of difficulty.LOE TE 1
  • Easily adaptable to classroom, one-on-one tutoring or homeschool setting.
  • Ideal for ages 8 and up, as introduction or remedial for a struggling student or a student that suffers from dyslexia, working memory deficits, weak visual memory or processing issues. (My youngest is now 9 and has gone through Foundations A and we were working in the first edition of Essentials. My older son used the first edition as well as a remedial course.)
  • Tons of teacher tips included.
  • Placement test ensures student starts at the correct level and assessments ensures that student is progressing.
  • Lessons are easy to teach – lists materials needed and scripted.


What’s New in 2nd Edition:

  • Twice as much information. There are now two volumes. Volume 1 with lessons 1 through 15 covers one semester. Volume 2 (which will be available January 2017) will cover lessons 16 through 30 and will wrap up the second semester.
  • Three distinct levels for spelling, vocabulary and grammar. This also allows you to use the course again with a new set of challenge words if your student needs more remedial work.

What You Will Need

I would highly suggest purchasing the complete set. It will contain everything you need to take full advantage of this curriculum. If you are teaching more than one student, you should purchase additional workbook and spelling journal at least, since those are consumable. The complete set includes: 

  • Teacher’s Guide
  • Student Workbook
  • Spelling Journal
  • Morpheme Cards
  • Basic Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Spelling Rule Flash CardsLOE spelling rules flash cards
  • Grammar Flash Cards
    LOE Grammar flash cards
  • Advanced Phonogram Flash Cards
  • Phonogram Game Cards: Bookface
  • Phonogram Game Cards: Manuscript or Cursive
  • Phonogram Game Tiles
  • Spelling Analysis Card
  • Phonogram and Spelling Rule Quick Reference

*When Volume 2 is available, you will need the teacher’s guide, student workbook, and more morpheme cards that are all for that volume.

What a Typical Week Looks Like:

LOE flash cardsBefore you begin the lessons, you need to organize the materials. I have found that the best way to keep up with all of the flash cards is to use these book rings. I have all of the flashcards stored in a photo box and separate the ones that are mastered from the ones we are still working on. Then you are ready to begin.

The lessons are designed to cover one week. This is how I used the program with my youngest son and I sped up the lessons with my oldest since it was remedial for him.

LOE Basic phonogramsDaLOE advanced phonogramsy 1: Essential Concepts. Using the scripted lesson and the phonogram flash cards, new phonograms are taught
and others are reviewed to ensure mastery. Then we cover spelling. This is done by teaching sounds and then covering the spelling rule.

Day 2: Building Words. Review phonograms and spelling rules by using games and hands-on activities along with the student worksheets. Review sounds and update spelling journal. Using whichever level your student tested at, use those given words for this week’s spelling words.LOE student book 2

Day 3: Words in Context. Again, the day starts with reviewing phonograms and spelling rules. Grammar is covered using worksheets, grammar flash cards and using the spelling words for the week. Dictation is used to help apply what is learned.Morphemes flash cards

LOE student book 1Day 4: Words in Action. Today’s review covers phonograms, spelling and also grammar. This day we add vocabulary based on which level you are using with your student. Vocabulary words are not just random words that is learned; root words are learned (Latin, Greek, French, Old English) which will also help the student to be able to decipher meanings of words throughout the rest of their life. This skill is especially helpful in testing!! The day ends with a
little dictation, composition and reading. (You can use your own grade-level reading material or The Essentials Reader.)

LOE TE 2Day 5: Review. This final day of the week is for an in-depth review of everything that has been taught so far. You will cover phonograms, grammar, and spelling.

My Thoughts

I cannot recommend any of the Logic of English products enough. When I taught my oldest to read, we tried four different programs before she grasped reading and spelling. It was so frustrating. I only wish that this program would have been available then!!! If you have a student that is struggling or if you simply want to ensure mastery of the English language, this program is not only very thorough but it is very easy to use. I have noticed that it really helped with my son’s language. When I first started Foundations, I was debating on whether I should consult a speech therapist or not. I had to take my oldest son to a speech therapist so I already knew what to look for and some of the exercises that I had to practice with him. The way Logic of English presents the sounds is very similar to the exercises that we did. After only using the program for a month, there was so much progress that my son no longer needed assistance. (I know there are many reasons why a child might need speech therapy and I am not suggesting that this will always replace that need, I am only stating that using the activities to learn how to properly make the sounds helped my son enough.) The numerous hands-on activities and games that are used keeps the lessons fun and engages even the active little ones. There is the right mix of fun activities, oral exercises and worksheets to keep my student’s attention.

You can read more details of this curriculum at the website which also gives various sample pages to view.

In accordance to FTC disclosure, I received Essentials 2nd edition Volume 1 and the needed supplements in exchange for this review. All opinions stated are my own. This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy. 


Cassie Pencil Skirt (by LuLaRoe) Review and Giveaway

cassie giveaway

I can’t tell you how excited I am about this latest giveaway!!! Last fall I received a call from my sister asking if I had ever heard of LuLaRoe. I hadn’t. As someone who wears skirts all the time, I can tell you I was thrilled to learn about a company that made simple, very versatile pencil skirts. (Oh, and they make much more that these too – be sure to check out their selection of leggings, dresses and tops!!!)


Let’s talk about LuLaRoe. DeAnne Stidham was a single mother of seven with a dream to provide for her family as a stay at home mom. She had a dream and desire. She met some dress wholesalers and used her experience in network marketing to launch LuLaRoe. The company is built on the principals of “You can do it!!” and “I believe in you!!”. There are no brick and mortar stores but consultants that offer the clothing line. This concepts empowers others to build a financial foundation while choosing their own work hours.  There is only a limited number of each design offered so there is not mass quantities. (Don’t you just hate it when you walk into a crowded room and see a few others wearing that same adorable skirt you just purchased??!! That will rarely, if ever happen with a LuLaRoe creation.) The consultants offer “pop-up boutiques” where you can view and purchase your selections.

My consultant is Erica Miramontes. You can request to join her Facebook group here.  On her Facebook page, she offers specials and hosts parties where you can make purchases. She also shares the latest news from LuLaRoe and the newest patterns/colors. She even has a Leggings of the Month Club!!

Now, let’s talk about this skirt!! (These pics courtesy of the main LuLaRoe website but I just had to share these adorable prints!!)

cassie skirt 2 cassieskirt1

Cassie is a classic pencil skirt. The stretch fabric makes the waistband flexible and comfortable. Now I’m going to share very important info with you —- wash it in COLD water and HANG TO DRY. DO NOT put this in the dryer. Even the tag says it will make you sad if you do. ๐Ÿ™


Don’t you just love it??!!! Now, how would you like to WIN one??!!!! Erica has graciously offered to allow one of my lucky winners to win her very own Cassie skirt. Sorry, but this open to USA residents only and since the selections are always changing, Erica will select the color/pattern for you after you inform her of your size. (I ended up going up one size just because of the stretchy-ness and I’m a little too….curvy…ahem…for a pencil skirt.)