Best Mom Advice 12/27/2014

Hope all is well with everyone following this awesome holiday week! Although the week was overwhelmed by holiday fun and family time there were still  65 wonderful ideas shared last week at The Mommy Club! The continued input by everyone with tips, crafts, and recipes help make The Mommy Club a huge success! It is so exciting to see all of the helpful tips, crafts, and recipes you all share every week! Below are the five most clicked on submissions from all of the ideas submitted this week.  If you didn’t have to chance a check out all of the great tips from last week, you can checkout all of the 65 ideas shared here!

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1) Bits of Positivity shared the Best Christmas Light Shows on YouTube.

2) Powerful Mothering shared 20 Easy Christmas Crafts for Kids.

3) Pre-K Pages shared the Best Winter Books for Kids.

4) Growing Book By Book shared Favorite Literacy Ideas for Preschoolers.

5) Growing Book By Book shared ideas for Table Topics.


Did you miss last weeks party? You can check out all 65 ideas HERE. If you are a blogger come on over on Wednesday’s and linkup your latest and greatest ideas! (The post actually goes live Tuesday night. Sssshhhh!)

advice for moms

Also remember, just because your idea is not listed here does not mean we didn’t love it. We regularly share your links on FacebookTwitterPinterest and in my newsletter

Playhut Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Shell Raiser Vehicle 43% Off

Playhuts and tents are certainly a favorite for children of all ages! This Playhut Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Shell Raiser Vehicle gives kids the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Shell Raiser Vehicle! This playhut has multiple openings that let the little ones practice their ninja turtle skills! It is also flame resistant and easily connects to other Playhut structures. This great deal is priced at $22.99 regularly $39.99 for a 43% savings!

shell raiser

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Looking for more great deals? Crystal & Co., shares new deals daily. Make sure you subscribe to my email feed so you do not miss any of them! If you’re into printable coupons get a full list here.

Wrapping Up the School Year for Homeschoolers

Every year when May rolled around, I looked forward to wrapping up our homeschooling year with my oldest son, and digging into planning the next year. Even though my 5 kids are in Catholic and public school now, I still look forward to planning our summer day trips and learning opportunities. Homeschooling my oldest has left me with a thirst for enriching my children’s lives as much as possible.

Wrapping Up the School Year for Homeschoolers


Wrapping Up the School Year for Homeschoolers

To wrap up your homeschool year, you’ll need to think about the following 4 areas:

  • End of Year Documentation
  • Projects, Papers, and Artwork
  • Summer Academics/Plans
  • Next Year’s Plan

End of Year Documentation for the School District

Depending on which state you live in, most homeschoolers need to turn in some type of documentation to their local school district or superintendent. In my home state, Pennsylvania, I turned in a portfolio accompanied by a list of books and resources we used during the year and my affadavit for the following school year. I liked to include work samples from different subjects and pictures of our field trips and projects.

If you’re new to homeschooling, check with your local homeschooling network and the school district about your state’s homeschooling regulations. Always check with both to make sure you’re not over complying with the regulations. You’ll find it helpful to know how other homeschoolers handle the regulations since there may be a range of ways to comply with the regulations.

Frame Children's Art Work for the Home

Projects, Papers, and Art Work

As homeschoolers, my oldest son and I did lots of hands-on projects. Not to mention all the artwork that came home from our homeschooling coop! As you wrap up the school year, you’ll need to decide what to keep and what to toss.

Ways to Keep Kids Art Work

Take Pictures and Archive the Pictures

After putting away my son’s best work in his memory box, I would lay out the rest of the work and take pictures for my personal archive. I also took pictures during the school year after we finished the bigger projects.

Photo Book

When I had more kids and they created tons of artwork, I decided to make a yearbook of their art work. I took pictures of the art and uploaded them to Winkflash to create a very simple photo book.

Display Art work in Your Home

We set up an art gallery on the walls of the stairs leading down to our basement. Since the walls were already a little beat up, we decided this was the perfect spot to keep thumb tacking stuff. We leave a few extra thumbtacks up for the kids to hang out their work.

If your child does something spectacular, invest in having it professionally framed. (Michael’s Craft Stores always has coupons for 50% off framing.) My oldest son who didn’t draw much a beautiful picture of birds with markers in an art class. I had it professionally framed at Michael’s and hung it in our living room where it remains today.

Hagley Museum Delaware

Summer Academics

To me, summer was about taking a break from our regular homeschooling routine. Yes, we spent time visiting historical sites, or spent a day at the local science museum. We pulled out the paints and spent an afternoon or two messing about with them. My goal was to get our heads out of the books and into the hands-on learning without making a big deal about it.

However, some academic skills need daily or weekly practice year round. Even now, I have my kids practice their math facts, reading, and writing during the summer. As a homeschooler, I found the almost daily 5 minute drills from Calculadder to be an easy way to maintain math competency. Besides bringing home stacks of books from the library, we listened to many tapes and CDs in the car on our weekly day trips. Books on CD are perfect for a quiet rainy afternoon spent crafting and painting. If you’re working on letter formation, Donna Young’s site provides free printables for kids learning to write and older kids needing to practice manuscript and cursive letter formation.

Preparing for Next Year

Every year, my husband and I discussed whether we would continue homeschooling. To us, every year was a new decision made with an eye to our oldest son’s current needs. As he got older, we moved our son from a Montessori type of education to a semi-eclectic classical education supplemented with homeschooling classes and coop time. Even with all our kids in Catholic and public school, we look at their needs individually and yearly to make sure we continue to provide them the best education possible.

If you haven’t decided about next year’s materials, make the decisions in the late spring and order your materials. Use the summer to review your materials and write out plans for the following school year. Remember to plan around big events like the birth of a baby, graduation, vacation, or First Communion. Donna Young has a wonderful site full of calendars, weekly and quarterly planners, along with household planners if you’re struggling with homeschooling and taking care of your home.

How does your family celebrate the end of the school year?

is a mom of 4 boys and 1 princess who spends her day keeping track of Nerf guns, stuffed animals, and library books when she isn’t writing about all the frugality, organizing, cooking, and reading she manages to fit in between the crazy, loud moments Her idea of quiet time is a trail run in the woods. Barb can be found at A Life in Balance.

Save Up to 60% off Clothes for Baby!

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Did you also know you can use coupons on Amazon? Save even more!

Looking for more great deals? Crystal & Co., shares new deals daily. Make sure you subscribe to my email feed so you do not miss any of them! If you’re into printable coupons get a full list here.

15 Martin Luther King Jr Activities and Unit Study

As a homeschool mom, I feel it is very important to teach my kids about diversity.

Here is a collection of 15 activities you can do with your kids to observe MLK Day this month. You could even turn this into a unit study. Remember, you do not have to be a homeschooler to enjoy these. You can supplement with these ideas on top of what they are learning at school. This is a perfect topic we should be discussing at home.

These activities are great for preschoolers and early elementary. There are even a few worksheets for up to 5th grade. It is so important for us to teach our children that we are all the same on the inside!

Martin Luther King Jr Activities and Unit Study

Martin Luther King Jr Activities

1. Black History Month Activities from 3 Boys and a Dog
2. MLK Handprint Activity from Art. Paper. Scissors. Glue!
3. MLK Writing Sheet from Peace, Love and Learning
4. 3 Multicultural MLK Crafts for kids from Kid’s Fun Review
5. MLK Handwriting Worksheets (grades 1-2) from 3 Boys and a Dog
6. MLK Coloring Page from Crayola
7. I am Different (Homemade Books) from Things to Share & Remember
8. I Have a Dream Writing Paper from Teachers Pay Teachers
9. MLK Word Search from Jinxy Kids
10. Civil Rights Picture Books from What Do We Do All Day
11. Activities for MLK Day from Pre-K Pages
12. MLK Printable Sheets from Teachers Pay Teachers
13. MLK Cursive Worksheets (grades 3-5) from 3 Boys and a Dog
14. MLK Activities for Preschoolers from Teach Preschool
15. What is Diversity Activity from Kids Activities Blog


How are you teaching your kids about diversity?

Skip College and Get Straight to Work

So you graduated high school, you’ve done everything you can to prepare for the future. But for what? Why did you go through all of that trouble just so that you can go to more schooling? Sometimes it seems like the schooling never ends, what’s worse is you have to pay even more money, so that more people can assign you a grade for whatever level of work they think you did.

It can be maddening, but it’s required, isn’t it? Most people feel like they can’t get a good job if they don’t go to college. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, college can leave people with student loans, a lot of stress, and they sometimes can still be jobless! Not only that but it doesn’t always guarantee that you’ll get higher pay.

skip college and get to work

Fortunately there are lots of various alternatives to college. For instance take a look at the programing world. For a long time it was required that you get your degree at a good college in programming. That is slowly changing, companies are finding these days that more and more students are teaching themselves programming online. In fact, some of these self-taught students have more experience, and are more self-motivated then the guys who went to college.

To top it off, these guys didn’t have to pay for tuition. They didn’t have OT live in small little dorms, and they didn’t have to put up with all of the problems that roommates can give. Instead they comfortably worked part time jobs while they studied online.

You may be thinking that you can’t do the same, but you actually can. New places like University of the People (UoP) are available. UoP is a free online college that you can use to take a variety of classes. That means that you can do all of that college work from home, for free!

Other examples include things like Kahn Academy. You can do most schoolwork through Kahn Academy and take most courses on their as well. Best part about Kahn Academy is some of the professors are from ivy league schools! These are guys who know their stuff, but instead of having to pay $50,000 a semester, you can do the whole thing for free! Most courses offered in universities are available through Kahn.

If you still don’t want to do online free schooling, take a look at trade schools. Trade schools cost a lot less than college, plus you can generally get a well paying job right away. Take a look at local trade schools and see if any interest you, they’re a great way of getting a head start.

You can also take a look at starting your own company. Thanks to the internet it is getting easier and easier to start your own company. Start up costs are low and many markets are still growing. Just take a look around you and be creative, you’ll find that maybe you don’t need to go to college after all.

James Altucher is a national advocate for being an entrepreneur and changing the supply / demand equation of the college education system.

The Price of Becoming a Doctor in America

A career as a doctor promises big income and satisfaction from helping others, but the cost of becoming a doctor is high in terms of both time and money. Aspiring doctors often start preparing while they are still in high school, choosing rigorous courses and spending extra time studying. Brian Agnew from a provider enrollment company in Texas says, “even once these students have reached college, however, they will face 11 to 16 or more years before they can practice medicine on their own.” Here is a deeper look at the price of becoming a doctor in America.

Undergraduate School

A four-year degree is required to enter medical school, and while many medical schools are not picky about individual majors, pre-med students generally take on more intense workloads in order to pass the MCAT and stand out above the competition. It’s not unusual for these students to take several science and math courses simultaneously, requiring far more studying than what most students face. This time investment is often compounded by participation in extracurricular activities and volunteer programs, which are viewed favorably by medical schools. Graduates of four-year programs owe an average of $35,200 in debt when they finish, and in the case of pre-med students, loan interest will be accumulating for a long time before it can start being paid off.

Medical School

Future doctors attend medical school for four years after finishing their undergraduate studies. A schedule filled with advanced courses in chemistry, physiology and a variety of medical topics requires incredible time and devotion from medical students. In the second two years of medical school, students start interacting with patients in addition to attending class. Medical students spend approximately 80 hours each week on training and studying. Tuition for four years of medical school ranges from $200,000 to $300,000, and the average graduate leaves with $170,000 in debt.

Residency and Fellowship

Medical school graduates are required to complete their training as residents at hospitals or clinics for three to five years, and those who intend to specialize have to spend one to three years afterwards in fellowships in order to sharpen their skills. The determination of resident doctors is continually tested by grueling schedules in often unfamiliar environments. In addition to these responsibilities, medical residents commonly spend more than 80 hours each week studying topics related to their specialty. Residents are usually paid between $40,000 and $50,000, helping to offset the time and money they are spending to reach their ultimate goal.

Fellowships are no less demanding than residency, and doctors typically spend three to five years in this phase of training depending on their chosen specialty. However, medical fellows earn an average of $53,021, which can help them meet basic living expenses. Whether doctors only complete basic residency or continue through a fellowship, they still must study for and pass a series of exams before being licensed to practice medicine.

Doctors commonly have around $500,000 of loans to pay off after attending undergraduate and medical school and accumulating interest during residency and fellowship. However, the time investment is just as impressive as the financial cost. While a high salary may ease the pain of paying off enormous student loans, many physicians are still paying off loans decades after entering their profession. With these expenses in mind, the dedication of modern American doctors is even more impressive.

Supero Healthcare Solutions in a leading provider enrollment and medicare revalidation company. For news and updates, connect with them on Linked In!

How Recycling Business Papers Helps the Environment

The costs of managing waste for businesses have increased exponentially over the last few years. The garbage and waste that a business produces in the form of papers each year weighs to several tonnes. When you calculate the costs involved in disposing this waste on an annual basis, you will notice that it is eating into your profit margins. Recycling business papers helps the environment and also cuts down on your annual costs. Recycling is the bottom line in operations for every business, but the top priority for all of them, at the same time. Here are some statistics that show how recycling business papers help the environment:

•           The National Statistics indicate that by recycling paper, air pollution is reduced by 74 per cent and water pollution by 34 per cent. This pollution is caused due to paper production; recycling directly cuts it down.

•           Every tonne of paper that is recycled saves at least 17 trees per annum.


These are just a few indicators of the benefits provided to the environment. There are several more side benefits of recycling paper. It reduces shipping costs, saves energy, and also increases the profits for a business.

How is the recycled paper used?

The recycled paper obtained from business waste has several uses. For instance, take the packaging industry. This industry mainly depends on recycled paper for shipping and packaging. They are used in cartons while shipping; they are again further recycled. Recycled papers can also be used by businesses, as it helps them to cut down the costs on their stationery. There are two ways a business profits when it decides to recycle paper. One is that it saves costs on waste disposal systems by recycling. Secondly, the business can use the same recycled paper, which works out to be a much cheaper alternative.

What about confidential information?

Waste disposal companies do promise that the security of the information on the paper being disposed will be safe. However, did you know that recycling is a much more effective way of securing the business information? All the information stored in business papers is wiped out and becomes irretrievable. Business confidentiality is better preserved when paper is recycled.

You are Saving the Planet by Recycling

Apart from saving the trees and reducing the pollution, the business is also helping to create recycled products. There are several recycled products that are made from reused paper, such as calendars, bags, shoes, books, print material, and cards and so on. In short, the list is just endless! An added side benefit is that you are helping the world create green and clean jobs. The recycling industry employs several people each year to meet with the growing demands. Several jobs have been created in this sector in the recent past, helping the economy as well. The business helps in maintaining a clean and green environment by reducing the cutting down of trees. Forests are also preserved in their natural state by saving these trees. By being a green business, you are also helping create awareness among other companies on the benefits of using recycled paper. Your company also gets recognized among partners and customers for being an Eco-friendly business firm.

Leslie writes on his blog about life, business, and travel.

25 Kids eBooks just $1 Each! Perfect for Some Extra Reading over Break!

Grab some new books for the kids to read overWinter Break! Right now on Amazon you can get 25 Kids Books for just $1! Some cute titles to choose from for a variety of ages.

You do not need a Kindle to read this book! Check out the FREE Kindle Reading Apps you can get and read it on your computer, your phone and more devices!

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If you haven’t yet signed up with Amazon Prime, you can currently get a 30-Day FREE Trial! With Amazon Prime you can get access to TONS of FREE eBooks in the Amazon Library, as well as FREE 2-Day shipping on tons of items sold at AND FREE unlimited streaming of thousands of movies and tv shows. Go HERE to get signed up today!

Did you also know you can use coupons on Amazon? Save even more!

Looking for more great deals? Crystal & Co., shares new deals daily. Make sure you subscribe to my email feed so you do not miss any of them! If you’re into printable coupons get a full list here.

Being Thrifty Mom Advice

Today I am featuring one of my most popular Mom Advice boards on Pinterest- Being Thrifty. Check out my mommy resource go-to spot for tips to saving money at the store for your family. Feel free to add your thrifty tips in the below linky so that I can add more to my board.

get thrifty

Today is our weekly Saturday Pinterest Party. I’m cohost with SusieQTpies Cafe. You can link up your favorite kid activities, crafts, mom advice, Spring ideas, blogging tips, recipes, most clicked blog post, post with the most repins and or largest following Pinterest Board, etc.  

Anyone can join in the fun!

All you need to do is: (all optional)

  1. Pin this post to Pinterest!
  2. Link up your favorite, most clicked post, top Pinterest board, post with the most repins,etc.
  3. If you are on Pinterest, leave your pin name in the linky so we can follow you back.

Click the photo to follow me on Pinterest!

Thanks for stopping in and linking up!

Follow me, Crystal & CoSusieQTpies Cafe and 3 Boys and A Dog on Pinterest. We will follow back.