This month’s hot flashes are in a new format similar to what I do with What’s Hot in Homeschooling. If you’re new to this series, allow me to explain that I give a detailed account of my hot flashes from the previous month. Not the wake-up-drenched or the open-the-freezer-to-cool-off-quick kind, but the hot news, reviews, and ideas I just have to share.
#1 The Treasure Box Scrapbook Kit Review
I found The Treasure Box at a local scrapbooking convention and was blown away by the quality and the price. Everything you need to complete six pages (3 double-page spreads) is included but adhesive, ink/chalk, and tools. I’m delighted with the results which my husband has declared are the best pages I’ve ever done. The price? Just $20.99 a month which includes shipping. The website states this is the lowest price on the internet. Try spending just ten minutes a day on these kits and use a Cropperware Page In Progress Box to keep everything in place until you can work on it again.
#2 CollegePlus Prep Review
My oldest son did CollegePlus Prep when it was a year-long program that involved group coaching. He found the study skills and logic courses valuable. While he decided not to take the CLEP tests that are part of the program so he could take AP courses instead, we both were impressed with the godly leadership of his coach.
My second oldest son, Sam (15 and a sophomore) enrolled in CollegePlus Prep this fall. To say that he is different from his brother is an understatement! I wasn’t sure what he would think of it. But CollegePlus Prep was much different than it was when my oldest enrolled. Sam did the study skills and reasoning parts of the program, but jumped right into studying for his first CLEP. Previously, this waited until the spring. I could tell Sam was anxious about both the workload expected of him (about two hours a day) and how he would do on the exam.
This month Sam took his first CLEP tast and passed! We are so proud of him. But I really can’t say enough about CollegePlus Prep so far. It’s true that you can guide your child through the process of CLEP testing on your own and save some money. But the experience of the staff and the one-on-one attention Sam has received are well worth the expense for us. Sam’s coach not only encourages and assists Sam in studying the excellent materials provided, but has helped him set personal goals, and is helping him to grow in his faith. For example, Sam studied for and passed his driver’s permit exam with his coach’s encouragement and is asked to study Scripture around his life purpose.
Right now the plan is for Sam to begin working on his bachelor’s degree in earnest next fall. Meanwhile, my oldest is in the process of applying to college. I have friends who have asked me what their child should do where college is concerned. Because getting a four-year degree through CollegePlus is estimated to cost $17,000 right now, my advice is to use the Net Price Calculator to determine how much a college degree will cost your child elsewhere. By entering your family’s financial information, your child’s GPA, and actual or expected test scores, you can get a good estimate of what kinds of grants, automatic scholarships, work study, and loans your student would qualify for. These estimates do not include competitive scholarships.
#3 Yummy & Easy Lunch Idea
When I found this pin on Pinterest, I knew I had to try it. I have a friend’s family over for joint classes and lunch one day a week. I have to whip something up quickly for nine hungry kids (including four teen boys!) before we leave for P.E. classes. This fit the bill. I rolled up turkey pepperoni and half a part-skim mozzarella stick in a reduced fat crescent roll. I served these with marinara for those who wanted it. I heard several, “Make these again!”
#4 Cleaning Without Chemicals
I went to one of those home parties that I dreaded. I wanted to help a friend out more than anything. I know how awful it is to have no one show up!
Norwex is a company that sells naturally anti-bacterial and ultra microfiber cloths. I liked that idea, but it wasn’t until I actually used the products that I was hooked. I have the window cloth that cleans my windows, mirrors, and shiny appliances with only water. And they have never been cleaner! I also purchased the makeup removing cloths and couldn’t believe that with just water, they removed all my makeup–even the waterproof kind. No more eye irritation from the makeup towelettes I was using before! The dust mitt, enviro cloth, and cleaning paste keep my bathrooms cleaner than ever with no harsh chemicals. The kitchen cloth and towel can stay wet without smelling musty. I can have the kids clean my car interior with just water, too!
#5 Grow Your Blog with Pinterest
Last month was my biggest traffic month ever, doubling the page views of my previous high month. Why? Because I created a pin of 6 Crazy Easy Crock-Pot Recipes. This was a guest post on Stuff Parents Need. I fully expected the majority of traffic to come from the other blog or from her boards on Pinterest. Instead, the majority of my traffic came from my own Pinterest board which doesn’t even have the most followers! You can be sure that I will be doing more posts like these.
Top posts here for the month were 6 Crazy Easy Crock-Pot Recipes (which became my best post of all time), How to Grow Your Nails and Change Your Life, and Why Classical Conversations Should Be a Part of Your Curriculum. I created new vertical pins for the latter two posts and repinned them with fantastic results.
#6 Schedule a Family Portrait
This month we had our family portrait done while my oldest was having his senior pictures taken. I absolutely treasure family portraits. If I only had time to grab a few photos in a fire, that’s what I’d grab. (Except I think our photographer has copies, too! But you know what I mean.) What makes me sad is whenever I mention family portraits, someone invariably tells me they need to do that. Please don’t wait! It doesn’t have to cost you anything. I have a homeschooling friend who’s a photographer and I bet you do, too.
If you’d like a peek at one of our family photos, I’m sharing a proof on the Psychowith6 Facebook page. While you’re there, I’d love for you to click “Like” so we can keep in touch.
Linking up with the Homeschool High School Blog Hop.
What hot flashes have you been having this month?
It’s been a wild, wonderful month getting back into the swing of all our homeschool activities and being busier than ever as a blogger. If blog talk makes your eyes roll back in your head like my husband, feel free to scroll down to the other hot flashes. I’ll forgive you.
#1 Blog Stuff
September was the second most popular month on this blog after August.
Top Posts for the month were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – Just when I’m convinced that this one is losing steam, I get another bunch of readers.
Where to Find the Easiest Homeschool Record System Ever – Blessed Beyond a Doubt reposted my free download for lesson planning / record keeping and brought a lot of traffic in.
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being a Mom – Still in the top 3.
Staying Sane While Homeschooling Preschool –the top traffic-getting new post of the month. There are some great ideas in this post for you to pin if you can ever find time to get online!
Top Referrers for the month were:
Pinterest – Followers have doubled since this summer with the What’s Hot in Homeschooling and Christian Inspiration boards being the most popular.
Search Engines – It’s interesting to me that “weekly to do list” is the most popular search term that people use to find me, followed by “classical conversations reviews.” The funniest search term of the month was “why am I anxious about using an airplane restroom?” which leads them to this post.
Blessed Beyond a Doubt – an excellent source of free printables in particular.
#2 So You’re Not Wonder Woman
If you don’t like to hear about any kind of writing, or you don’t care about my feelings AT ALL, keep scrolling. Otherwise, I’m excited to report that this Christian book on life change made it to #17 on the free self-help Kindle list. Today I found a list of things from Training Authors I should have done to move it even higher while it was free, but as it is, I’m sure I’ll be talking about this when I’m 80. It doesn’t take much to thrill an author. Speaking of that, if you read a book and love it, review the book. If you have the author’s contact information, drop them a line. They’ll treasure your feedback as I do.
#3 The Homeschool Sanity Show
Yes, I know. I’m still on the same subject in a way. Except I’m really excited about the encouragement and ideas homeschoolers can get from my new podcast. I’ve learned so much about podcasting this month and from the guests I’ve interviewed. The Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network has been getting so much fantastic feedback about the kinds of shows they want to hear. The hosts have their work cut out for them! I hope you’ll tune in this October for shows on staying sane while teaching math and creating a parenting plan. Please tell your friends to listen too.
I’m finally going to give you some recipes! But it’s been challenging to find time to make new things this month, so I only have one true new recipe for you.
Baked KFC chicken
I got this recipe from Facebook and I liked it a lot. Two of the kids were especially fond of it and no one disliked it. No frying required.
I used 2.5 pounds of fresh chicken tenderloins and Lowry’s Seasoning Salt instead of Season All.
Teriyaki Stir Fry
I bought this at Wal-Mart and made it adding chicken and really, really liked it. My husband raved about it, too. It’s relatively healthy for a store-bought convenience meal. I normally make my own stir fry, but this was excellent for when I want to save a little time.
Apple Crunch Pie
This is my all-time favorite apple pie recipe. I did NOT make it in September, but I did buy everything I need to make it in the next couple of days. I make extra to freeze and eat at Thanksgiving. Here’s the recipe.
I read some superb books for kids and one for adults this month and just had to share.
This book was not at all what I expected. I assumed it was a fictional tale and was pleasantly surprised to find it was a wonderful biography. My almost-eight-year-old was so entranced by it that he wanted me to read the adult material at the back of the book. We then watched a YouTube clip of the subject of the book and enjoyed it. Highly recommended.
I read this children’s book in an afternoon and couldn’t stop telling my husband what I read. This book, that is chock full of pictures, is not only an exciting biography, but is a great reader for American history. It’s an excellent discussion starter on mediums and spiritists (Houdini was committed to debunking them) and the importance of overcoming fear.
This was an uplifting and heart-wrenching modern missionary biography. I came away from the book inspired to help street children and to be more diligent in my service to the Lord. YWAM biographies have been a major source of spiritual growth for me and my children. I can’t recommend them enough.
#6 The Kids
They’re not the least important. It’s just that I knew people who know me best would hang with me to the end to read about them.
Caleb, a senior, has applied to two colleges and is narrowing his list even further.
Sam, a sophomore, has his driver’s permit but I haven’t taken him driving yet. I’m still recovering from the first kid. He shadowed our dentist last month and says he wouldn’t know if that’s what he wanted to do unless he was actually drilling teeth or something. I get that.
Andy, an 8th grader, is doing well in drum lessons and is planning on joining a table tennis club now that he can sometimes beat his dad.
The younger kids are excited because we are redecorating their rooms this winter. They helped choose the bedding which has already arrived. They’d like dad to start painting now! I’ll share pictures in a future post.
Those are the hot flashes I’ve been having (at least the ones I dare to discuss online).
What are your hot happenings this month? Got a recipe you want me to try? A book to read? I’m all ears!
I love writing these posts. I feel like I’m having lunch with my friend, Deb, and updating you on what’s been going on. At least I’m writing to you and not talking at warp speed like I do with her. You can scroll at your own pace! I’d really love to hear about you, too. I don’t want to hog the whole conversation. (Well, actually I do, but I will restrain myself.)
August was the best month ever for this blog with page views up 28% from the previous high in May. I am so blessed by that. It just isn’t as fun to write when only your mother is reading (not that I don’t appreciate you, Mom).
In August, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – this still makes me laugh, not because it’s a humorous piece, but because I had read that if a pin doesn’t go anywhere in the first 30 minutes, it’s sunk. This pin went absolutely nowhere the first month and now has been read thousands of times. It’s not “viral” by any means, but it demonstrates the power of Pinterest to keep content alive.
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being a Mom
The sequel to the above post, this is another pin that didn’t do much at first. Now all of a sudden it’s taking off. Pinning on Pinterest is a lot like putting notes in helium balloons. You never know where they’ll end up!
Why Classical Conversations Should be a Part of Your Curriculum – this post ranked in the top 3 again this month via Google searches.
My favorite post of the month was 5 Lessons Our Foreign Exchange Student Taught Me. If you missed it, I think you will enjoy it. Saying good-bye to Lucas was really hard, but we are so blessed to have established a friendship with his family. Elaina now has his sisters as her Spanish pen pals!
Sadly, I am having to let The Inspired Day go for now
I have some other projects that I feel led to pursue (one of which I will tell you about below). If you don’t subscribe to that blog, I would love for you to read The Last Blog Post. I think it communicates the essence of what I wanted to share there.
#2 The Homeschool Sanity Show Podcast
I am super excited to be hosting a podcast as part of the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network that will be launching September 19th. I have to wait to give you more details until the website is up and running, but I think you’re going to love it. I’ve been a guest on radio programs for two decades, but I’ll get to be the interviewer now. Please like the network page on Facebook and be watching this blog for details about the show. Have I mentioned I’m excited? 🙂
#3 Back to School
Every year is a better school year. I’m delighted with how things are going. I’ll explain one reason our schedule is so much more functional in my productivity post at the end of the week. I love our curriculum choices for the year, too. I’m planning to share more curriculum reviews with you because my homeschool readers seem to love them.
I’ll admit it. When I started homeschooling, I dreamed of being one of those families that had all the kids playing a different instrument so they could perform together. That idea was dead very quickly. With as busy as I was having babies, homeschooling, writing, and speaking, music education took a back seat. My three oldest took piano lessons for a while, but quit. Then Caleb took it up again a few years ago with a vengeance. I started to wonder why I had wanted him to play? Then last fall, Sam started guitar lessons. This past Sunday both boys played as part of our youth praise band at church. That on top of Andy starting drum lessons, and giving the youngest three piano and voice lessons at home is making me wonder if we’ll be one of those families after all. (More on the curriculum I’m using later.)
#5 New Recipes
I did manage to get some new recipes made this month. It helped that I publicly committed to making this one on Facebook. It’s from Set Your Fat on Fire Fitness. I really, really loved this. In fact, I ate a LOT of it. The rest of the family, not so much. If you love avocados, you’ll love this, too. If you don’t, scroll down quickly.
Avocado and Tomato Salad
4 cups avocados, diced medium
2 cups grape tomatoes or 2 cups cherry tomatoes
2 cups cucumbers, peeled and diced medium
1 cup red onion, diced small
4 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/4 cup olive oil
fresh black pepper
Lettuce (if you want)
Toss all ingredients in a bowl and top on a bed of lettuce (if desired)
Makes 8 servings
Calories 201.9 Total Fat 17.9 g Sodium 10.2 mg Total Carbohydrate 11.6 g Dietary Fiber 5.8 g Sugars 1.8 g
Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake from Hungry Jack
When I think of coffee cake, I think of my grandma. Every time we went to her house, we got to have coffee cake. With those warm fuzzies in mind, all I had to hear was “chocolate” in connection with coffee cake, and I was sold. This recipe is easy and a hit with my whole family. I made it without the nuts and used light sour cream.
||Crisco® Original No-Stick Cooking Spray
||2 1/2 cups Hungry Jack® Complete Buttermilk Pancake & Waffle Mix (Just Add Water)
||2 1/2 cups Hungry Jack® Complete Extra Light & Fluffy Pancake & Waffle Mix (Just Add Water)
||1/3 cup sugar
||1/2 cup miniature semi-sweet chocolate chips
||1/2 cup water
||1/2 cup sour cream
||1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
||1/4 cup sugar
||1/4 cup walnuts, finely chopped
||1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
||HEAT oven to 375°F. Coat 8 or 9-inch square pan with no-stick cooking spray.
||COMBINE pancake mix, 1/3 cup sugar and chocolate chips in medium bowl. Add water, sour cream and vanilla. Blend well. Using an ice cream scoop, shape dough into sixteen 2-inch dough balls. Place in 4 rows of 4 each in prepared pan. Combine 1/4 cup sugar, walnuts and cinnamon in small bowl. Sprinkle over dough.
||BAKE 24 to 26 minutes or until golden brown. Cool 10 minutes before serving. Serve warm.
||To use Hungry Jack® Original Pancake & Waffle Mix (Add Milk, Oil & Eggs), replace 1/2 cup water with 2 large eggs and 2 tablespoons milk. Proceed as above.
||High Altitude: add 1/4 cup flour to dry pancake mix. Bake as directed above.
Prep Time: 12 min
Cook Time: 24 min
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Serving Size (1/8 2 rolls), Calories 290 (Calories from Fat 90), Total Fat 10g (Saturated Fat 4g, Trans Fat 0g), Cholesterol 5mg, Sodium 620mg, Total Carbohydrate 47g (Dietary Fiber 1g, Sugars 19g), Protein 5g; Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 2%, Vitamin C 0%, Calcium 6%, Iron 10%.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
#6 School or Office Supply Organizer
I am so proud of myself. I actually made something really useful from Pinterest. I shared this idea in one of my What’s Hot in Homeschooling posts and got to work. I had no idea how popular these things are until I searched “Teacher Toolbox” on Pinterest. Wow! I spray painted mine brown. The one thing you need to know is that you can’t fit full-size pencils in it. Mechanical pencils and many pens work great, however. Filling this up was a trip down memory lane. I have office supplies I bought 20 years ago and never used. If any of you locals need some gold brads, please don’t buy any. I have enough for several elementary schools.
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or have your kids tell my kids. That’s always an interesting way to get news.
It’s not been a very hot July, so I should really share cool news. I just visited my mom so she probably isn’t reading this month. Hopefully I can entice the rest of you to read with the recipe reviews at the end. This is what’s been happening with the Psycho family:
July’s page views were up 1,000 from the previous month.
In July, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – my humorous letter that has been Pinterest popular
The Best Places to Buy, Borrow, Sell or Donate Used Homeschool Curriculum – I had used an absolutely awful photo for this post when I wrote it last year. I decided to create a new graphic for it and then pinned it to the Ultimate Homeschool Board on Pinterest and boom. The post received the traffic I hoped it would.
Why Classical Conversations Should be a Part of Your Curriculum – homeschoolers found this post by Googling as they considered options for the upcoming school year. I still believe it’s an excellent, affordable option regardless of your approach and I don’t make anything for saying so.
I am excited that my new iPhone case is emblazoned with my blog graphic. I’m really happy with the price and quality and recommend it to other bloggers.
#2 Other Writing
I have been spending time working on two book projects–just not as much time as I would like. When I can share details with you, I will!
Many of you are following my Christian Inspiration board on Pinterest. I’m excited about that, because not only will you find links to short posts from the Inspired Day, but from several superb Christian bloggers. Comment below if you’d like to be added to the board with the email address you use on Pinterest.
#3 Our International Guest
This photo makes this 16yo boy from Spain look like he has been lounging around on his visit, but that is not the case. He is the son of a friend’s friend and he has been a delight. He has been visiting to experience American culture and improve his English. My son, Sam, has been enjoying the process of improving his Spanish, too. My boys have been taking advantage of our guest’s graciousness to demand that he do everything with them! It’s a challenge for me to tell them to stop because he is giving me a break. We will certainly miss him when he goes home.
#4 Our New Driver
You may recall my terror at having a Permit Driver. Now you can share my fear as Caleb takes to the road with his license. I would be even more thrilled not to have to drive everywhere with him due to his busy social life, but Sam will be getting his permit any day now.
It’s hard to believe that Caleb has just one more year of high school and then he’ll be heading off to college. He has many factors to consider like
rankings, research opportunities, distance from home, study abroad programs, money. He’ll be busy making some decisions about where to apply in the coming weeks.
After considering Sam’s future, we have decided to enroll him in College Plus Prep–the same program Caleb went through. We want to determine if independent study is the best way for him to earn his college degree.
#6 New Recipes
I seriously considered doing a weekly post of new things I’ve tried from Pinterest, but the last thing I need is another obligation. Instead, I’ll include my reviews in this monthly wrap-up when I can.
Clean Eating Zucchini Bread
I want recipes that are whole-grain, low fat, and reduced sugar. So I tried this zucchini bread. Our rating? Too healthy tasting. My friend made a recipe that is a little less healthy and a lot more tasty. When I get her to write it down for me, I’ll post it for you.
Slow Cooker Lemon Garlic Chicken
I ended up having to tell my husband how to make this over the phone, only to discover we had no lemons. When life hands you no lemons, you make lime garlic chicken. Our Rating? It’s a winner. Makes for very moist, tasty chicken and it’s easy.
BBQ Chicken Empanadas
So it’s abundantly clear that I’m not into food photography, especially here. The truth is I was in a huge hurry when I made these. This recipe was very popular when I pinned it to my Lunch Recipes to Try board. I tried rolling and cutting the dough and discovered that just using two crescent rolls together (and smooshing the perforations which I did very poorly) was the quickest method and made large enough empanadas for my teens. I used low-fat crescent rolls and canned chicken. I combined the chicken with BBQ sauce until it was coated. I sprinkled each with cheese, closed the dough with a fork, and baked. The average rating was an 8. I’d say that’s a winner!
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or just call me so we can have lunch. My birthday is coming up, so you’re buying. 🙂 Thanks so much for reading. You made my day.
My blogging buddy Tom Dixon does a review of the month on his blog where he shares statistics and news. I so enjoy these posts, that I decided to do one of my own.
What that means is that everyone but my mom can stop reading now. So, Mom, here’s what’s been going on with me:
I merged multiple blogs into this one in October of 2012. (If you don’t know why, read this.) In June, my page views were up 1200% since launch. (Keep in mind that I’ve studied advanced statistics and can make them say anything I want them to.) I am thrilled to have a growing readership, not that you don’t mean the world to me, Mom!
The most popular posts since beginning this blog are:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant – a Pinterest winner for me. I am working on improving my pins and growing a following on Pinterest as a result.
Why Classical Conversations Should Be a Part of Your Curriculum – a Twitter winner when Classical Conversations retweeted it
Scarred for Life – a Facebook winner when the shocking photos were all anyone could talk about
In June, the most popular posts were:
Everything You Never Wanted to Know About Being Pregnant
Can Mark Forster’s Ultimate Time Management System Help You Get More Done? – readers of Mark Forster’s blog and forum have increased readership of all my time management posts, including the third most popular below
Can Another Simple and Effective Method Help You Get More Done?
#2 Other Writing
The Once-and-for-All Meal Plan Ebook has been downloaded over 2,300 times. Because I don’t have that many email subscribers, my guess is people are sharing the link. I don’t mind, but soon the link will change because the book will be revised. I’m excited about the changes I’ll be making because the plan will be much easier to implement. You’ll be the first to know, Mom!
#3 My Health
I have mentioned in several posts that my health has been poor. The good news is my energy is back to normal. The bad news is I am not symptom-free and I don’t have an easy-to-treat diagnosis. But I can already see how God is using it for good in my life. One way in which that is true is that I am more committed to eating well and serving healthy food. I would dearly love your prayers that I would be well enough to do what God has called me to do and that I would trust Him completely.
#4 My Marriage
I remember a veteran homeschooler sharing at a group meeting many years ago that what she liked most about homeschooling was that her husband was self-employed and was around to help out with the kids. And what she liked least about homeschooling was that her husband was self-employed and was around…I laughed very loudly because my husband is also self-employed. What’s more is that he has much of the summer off. We’ve learned to deal with our differences, though, and I can honestly say that I love him more than ever after the way he has supported me through my health challenges. We celebrate 21 years of fireworks this week as we were married on the fourth of July.
#5 The Kids
This was a big month for my oldest who has been driving everywhere in our newly purchased used automobile with me in the passenger seat. If you’ve read Permit Driver, you know that I’ve been a bit anxious about him driving. I’m really proud of myself because I’ve made several trips without screaming in terror. I think he just needed that extra time to mature, because he’s really doing great. Mostly.
He also got his first job working for our church. I was so touched when one of the office staff stopped by our house to deliver a cupcake to him on his birthday. Not many employers would do that!
Andy got braces and the youngest kids have been losing teeth like crazy and losing faith in the Tooth Fairy, too. My daughter asked why when she woke up there was no money, but when she went back to make her bed there was. Hm.
Once again, I’ve sworn an oath to do more school in the summer and once again I haven’t kept it. We have done some reviewing, continued with history, and a bit of workbook stuff, but not much else. Here’s part of the problem. The neighbor kids show up at my door and my children look at me as though they haven’t seen them in years and how could I even think of asking them to do school? I’m weak. All my nerve was used up riding around with the permit driver.
I have been using the time to prepare for the fall, however.
I’d love to know about the hot flashes you’re having! Let me know in the comments, your favorite social media format, or just call me so we can have lunch. 🙂 Sure, you too, Mom!