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Becoming less of a mess one day at a time....
"I sustain myself with the love of family"   -Maya Angelou
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Homeschool for the earliest learners!
Crockpot Cheat sheet
Homeschool for Toddlers and even Babies!
It's never too early to spark the joy for learning! While working in an early learning montessori based classroom for almost a decade I was amazed what children, as early as 18 months, are capable of given the chance and tools to shine! I have figured out a way to build this same environment at home for my 1 and 3 year old sons.
They love "school time" and yours will too! 
The first step to making your home a learning enviroment is to use what you have. Mr. Potato head, Legos, Train sets, animal and dinosaur figures, cooking tools, you name it, you already have most of what you need to start, you just need to organize it differently. Children love and need order. They appreciate it! A quick trip to the dollar store, or even the dollar section at your favorite bargain store is a great place to look for organization tools. I found these little sets of blue baskets at my local dollar store (2 for a buck!) Here are some simple basket ideas to get you started:
  1. Animals- talk about where they live and what they eat.
  2. Trains- trying arranging them by color/size
  3. Mr. Potato Head- talk about the 5 senses and body parts
  4. Measuring cups- stack them from largest to smallest
  5. Old baby clothes- practice buttoning and zippers

Make sure when your child is "working" they only choose one "lesson" at a time.This is the best part: you've just turned your child's toys or detris around your home into tools to jump start your child's education! 
So far, my 3 year old son knows how to write his name, count to 100, say and identify colors, animals, and certain toys in spanish, finish puzzles, and get through simple mazes and connect the dots all on his own! As he has grown, I've snatched up anything on sale that could be used as learning material, from coloring and activity books (the activity pages are great!) to building toys (like two-bits below is working on). Right now we are working on learning about the continents, (some) presidents, and simple addition and subtraction (using raisins and cheerios). We started "working" together when he was about 17 months old and I am in the process of starting all over with my younger son who will be 18 months in a few weeks.

One important thing to remember: keep it fun! If you or namely your child, feels like this is forced then stop. My son asks for more and more "school work" every day and that's my clue that we are on the right path together. But we only have school 4 days a week and never for longer than 30-45 minutes no matter how much he begs. 
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Follow my blog and I'll keep you updated on what me and my minions are up to!
  1. Learning body parts with Potato Head
    Learning body parts with Potato Head
  2. Little guy practicing sorting
    Little guy practicing sorting
  3. play-doh for choice time
    play-doh for choice time
  4. i always offer snacks!
    i always offer snacks!
  5. baby jay's school cabinet
    baby jay's school cabinet
  6. my home school closet
    my home school closet
  7. Isaiah working on alphabet puzzle
    Isaiah working on alphabet puzzle
  8. big brother story time
    big brother story time
  9. some of Isaiah's work shelves
    some of Isaiah's work shelves
Crockpot Cheat Sheet
My crockpot is my "go-to" for easy weeknight meals, savory Sunday dinners, and even game-time snacking, but I wouldn't even go near that thing without a crockpot liner. Do yourself a favor and stock up... These little beauties save me from "soaking and scrubbing" and are worth their weight in gold.  Slow-cookers are a great way to cut out all that kitchen time and mess, and save electricity! You still get that great end result and, man, do they make the house smell great!
Try these three simple recipes for your crockpot this week (my hubby and kiddos go nuts for all three!) 

Tres Tacos...
You only need to dump three things in that miracle worker...
Take some chicken breasts (or thighs or any part will do as long as its boneless) rinse, pat dry, and place in the bottom of slow cooker, cover with a jar of salsa and a can of cream of chicken soup, give it a stir and cut that baby on for 8-10 hours and forget about it. At dinnertime, use two forks and shred chicken, warm up some tortillas, and sit out shredded cheese, sour cream, some shredded lettuce and diced tomatos, and hey, even homemade guac, if you want to be fancy. I also serve mine with refried beans (from the can) and green beans (the frozen, steam in microwave kind) because you gotta have something green.

Sunday Dinner Beef Stew...
(pictured left) Grab some beef tips (or stew meat), beef broth and all the veggies you can find- baby potatos, carrots, garlic cloves, onion, even mushrooms. Rinse meat, pat dry and place in bottom of crockpot. Cover with chopped veggies (you dont have to chop, they will still fall apart), a dash of salt and pepper, and pour enough beef broth to cover everything. Set for 8-10 hours. I like to grab a frozen loaf of bread dough and let it thaw and rise all day and bake about twenty minutes before the meal is served. This is an amazingly easy way to prepare a delicious homemade Sunday dinner and get your famiy ready for the new week!

Game Time Pulled Pork Sliders-
Grab enough boneless pork shoulder to feed your fam, a can of cola, and your favorite BBQ sauce. Cut the pork into 3-4 peices, rinse, pat dry, and place in bottom of crockpot, cover with coke and sauce, give it a whirl and set for 8-10 hours. At dinner time use two forks to shred meat, schlopp onto sliced potato rolls, serve with store bought coleslaw and pickles