Students At Home

For Everyone Who Learns at Home

Hidden Peril Book Review

If you’re a fan of mystery romance novels, give this one a try! Irene Hannon is a good writer. Unfortunately, I’m not into romances and didn’t finish the book. From the description, it sounds like a fast-paced, entertaining book with crime, mystery, and intrigue. While the prologue did grab my attention, the first chapter proceeded to introduce readers to a romance complete with a middle schoolish internal dialogue. For this reason, I didn’t finish the book, but the content minus the romance was interesting and well-written. hidden peril

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How Mr. Rogers Taught Me To Talk To Children

mister-rogers-trolley

Mr. Rogers was one of my favorite childhood TV friends. I appreciated his calm demeanor and special guests, especially Mr. Neely. Now, as a parent, I enjoy sharing Mr. Rogers reruns and YouTube videos with my kids. I also take lessons from Mr. Rogers and use his techniques for talking to kids in a way they understand and with kindness and compassion.

  1. “State the idea you wish to express as clearly as possible, and in terms preschoolers can understand.” Example: It is dangerous to play in the street. ​​​​​​
  2. “Rephrase in a positive manner,” as in It is good to play where it is safe.
  3. “Rephrase the idea, bearing in mind that preschoolers cannot yet make subtle distinctions and need to be redirected to authorities they trust.” As in, “Ask your parents where it is safe to play.”
  4. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate all elements that could be considered prescriptive, directive, or instructive.” In the example, that’d mean getting rid of “ask”: Your parents will tell you where it is safe to play.
  5. “Rephrase any element that suggests certainty.” That’d be “will”: Your parents can tell you where it is safe to play.
  6. “Rephrase your idea to eliminate any element that may not apply to all children.” Not all children know their parents, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play.
  7. “Add a simple motivational idea that gives preschoolers a reason to follow your advice.” Perhaps: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is good to listen to them.
  8. “Rephrase your new statement, repeating the first step.” “Good” represents a value judgment, so: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them.
  9. “Rephrase your idea a final time, relating it to some phase of development a preschooler can understand.” Maybe: Your favorite grown-ups can tell you where it is safe to play. It is important to try to listen to them, and listening is an important part of growing.

Whether you’re a parent, grandparent or childcare provider, Mr. Rogers can help you talk to children in a kind way they understand, too.

Read the full article here.
https://www.theatlantic.com/family/archive/2018/06/mr-rogers-neighborhood-talking-to-kids/562352/

(Photo courtesy SnappyNewDay.com)

 

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Tackling a Big Project? Try the Pomodoro Technique

For over six years, I’ve worked from home. It can be challenging to stay on-task, especially with our newest addition, Idgy (see photo below). But I have deadlines to meet, and can’t afford to sit around and waste time.

That’s why I use the Pomodoro Technique.

I learned about it a year or so into my work-from-home venture, and it has become an incredibly helpful technique that has improved my productivity and work/life balance.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Work for 25 minutes.
  2. Take a five-minute break.
  3. Work for 25 minutes.
  4. Take a five-minute break.
  5. Work for 25 minutes.
  6. Take a 15-minute break.
  7. Repeat until your workday is over or your work is finished!

While this technique works for me, you may question the need to be tied to a timer. Feel free to modify the method to meet your needs! Some days – like when my kids are home or I don’t feel well – I work only 15 minutes before breaking or build longer breaks into my day.

The beauty of this time management technique is that it helps me stay on task, and it’s useful for any job from working to cleaning. During my breaks, I stretch, make coffee, fold laundry or do whatever task is calling my name. I love that I can get work done in small doses – no more feeling tied to my desk for an hour at a time or wasting my workday on social media. It’s a win-win!

What’s your favorite way to tackle big projects? I’d love other suggestions! 🙂

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Birthday Month Celebration Week 2

I’m continuing my month-long birthday celebration, and it feels great! Self-care is so often neglected, but I’m determined to continue creating time each day to celebrate me and the things that bring me joy.

Here’s how I celebrated this week.

Day 3: We have bananas, ice cream, peanut butter and chocolate sauce in the house, so I made a sundae! And I savored every bite! To cut the sweetness (I’ve made an active choice to limit sweets this summer), I fixed a cup of black coffee and savored it, too. Delicious!

Day 4: I tossed a pair or ratty pajama shorts into the trash can today. The elastic is stretched and exposed, and there are holes where there should not be holes! 😉 I hate spending money on new clothes, but today I gave myself permission to toss this item of clothing and add “new pair of shorts” to my shopping list. It feels good to give myself permission to wear clothing that looks good and brings me joy. Oh – I also drove to the library and pharmacy alone! How sweet it was to enjoy silence in the car on my drive into town and to choose the radio station I wanted on the drive home!

Day 5: Fresh peaches for lunch! My favorite fruit! 🙂  And hubby and I shared a pleasant afternoon chatting as we watched TV. I’m grateful for these moments!

peaches

Day 6: I gave myself permission to take the entire day off work! It felt so refreshing and empowering not to power up my laptop!

Day 7: My daughter gave me the first four presents of my birthday month! They’re each folded neatly and wrapped in aluminum foil and newspaper (one layer for day 1, two layers for day 2, etc.). How fun!

irene's birthday gifts to me august

I also returned a library book today before it was due. Library fines are tax-deductible, but I always appreciate when I remember to be responsible and don’t have to pay a fine. 🙂

Day 8: While waiting for my daughter today, I read a book instead of playing on my phone. That permission to relax and do something I like made me feel content.

Day 9: While sipping my morning coffee, I heard a bird chirping. I paused a minute to listen to the song and realized how much joy I felt from this simple act. Sometimes, treats surprise me with their simple yet profound impact!

I also enjoyed lunch at Red Robin with a friend. And because of a gift card and my free birthday burger, our meal cost only $5.12!

Day 10: This morning, I tried to work on an assignment, but my brain just wasn’t working. I finally decided to wash dishes – I always feel better when my sink is clean! I then prepared a cup of cinnamon coffee, savored a small scoop of chocolate ice cream and listened to the Parachute Band on YouTube. That 20-minute treat brightened my mood, helped me relax and made me smile!

 

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Hot Tips for a Cool Summer

Anyone else melting?

melting lol

 

I love summer, but it’s hot! That’s why I’ve adapted several hot tips for staying cool this summer!

  1. Keep your pulse points cool. Place a damp paper towel in the freezer and apply it to your wrists, the back of your neck, the back of your knees or the inside of your elbows. Bonus tip: Try a bag of frozen veggies instead of the paper towel!
  2. Mist your face. You can buy a facial mister or fill a squirt bottle with water.
  3. Invest in an insulated bottle that keeps your water cold and refreshes you as you stay hydrated all day.
  4. Freeze fresh fruit. It’s tasty, cool and refreshing when you eat it right from the freezer or tossed into your water.
  5. Buy a fan for your phone.
  6. Make a paper fan and use it!
  7. Freeze homemade popsicles. We love making smoothies and freezing leftovers into popsicles or freezing fruit juice.
  8. Change your menu. Cold foods help you feel cooler, and no one wants to cook over a hot stove when it’s 90 degrees outside! Try tuna, egg or Cobb salad. Or spread a blanket on the living room floor, turn on the fan and eat a dippy dinner – prepare trays of veggies, crackers, bread, pretzels or bologna to dip into hummus, honey mustard dressing or another favorite dip.
  9. Run in the sprinkler .
  10. Toss water balloons with your kids.
  11. Visit the local pool. Our community pool offers a discount when you visit after 4 PM, and we’re blessed with several friends who own backyard pools and invite us over frequently to swim!
  12. Buy a kiddie pool. Place it on your deck or in your living room, fill it with water and ice, and soak your feet as you read a book and relax
  13. Hang out at the mall, library or movies. Stay cool as you window shop, read or enjoy a show.

These are a few of my hot tips for a cool summer. What do you do to cool down when temperatures rise?

 

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6 Tips for Finding a Cheap Bike

Summer vacation has officially started. So far, my kids have had plenty of activities to keep them busy, including riding bikes. They like to race each other around our neighborhood, and my teenager is finally allowed to ride down the street to her friend’s house.

Luckily, we have a collection of bikes in all sizes, thanks to my son’s bike repair business from a few years ago.

bikesHowever, what if your child – or you – need a new bike? Find a cheap one with these six tips.

1.Thrift Stores or Consignment Shops

Check your local thrift or consignment stores for gently used bikes. Inventory changes often, so you’ll have to keep checking. Or ask the clerk to notify you when someone brings in the type of bike you’re looking for (our local consignment store did this for me when I wanted a double stroller for my toddlers!).

2. Police Auctions

Does your town have a police auction where they auction off items they’ve confiscated throughout the year? If so, you might be able to buy a nice bike for way less than retail.

3. Online Yard Sale Sites

I’m a member of several online yard sale sites. Almost every day, I see posts from people selling bikes their children have outgrown. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, post an “In Search Of”!

4. Craigslist

Remember to check Craigslist for used bikes. You can even set up an alert and receive an email every time someone lists a bike for sale.

5. Bike Shops

Two years ago, I visited a local bike shop with a friend. They had dozens of new bikes for sale, but I also noticed a row of used bikes. Yes, they cost more than yard sale prices, but each used bike for sale was recently tuned with new parts, reliable and ready to ride!

6. Word of Mouth

Ask your friends, family, neighbors and everyone you know if they have a bike for sale. You never know who’s cleaning out their garage, ready to upgrade or otherwise looking to get rid of gently used bikes!

When your kids are ready for new bikes, use these tips to find quality bikes at an affordable price. What other tips would you suggest?

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What Can You Do In 2 Minutes?

Vector illustration of two minutes stopwatch icon on white backgroundTwo minutes.

120 seconds.

That doesn’t sound like a lot of time, does it? But you can actually get A LOT done in two minutes!

When I’m feeling overwhelmed by life, I set a timer, get to work and cross one thing off my to-do list. Here are a few suggestions.

Clear off a counter.

Stretch.

Unload the dishwasher.

Drink a glass of water.

Brush your teeth.

Wipe off your car’s dash.

Fold a load of laundry or put laundry away.

Listen to your favorite song or find a new one!

Plan your dinner menu for the week.

Sweep the kitchen floor.

Send a text to a friend.

Wipe off your phone screen.

Toss old leftovers from the fridge.

Close your eyes and enjoy peace and quiet.

Wipe down the bathroom counter.

Test the pens or markers in your stationary drawer.

Toss junk mail.

Read the comics.

File important papers.

Savor an apple, handful of walnuts or other favorite snack.

Clean out your car.

Write five things you’re thankful for.

Carry your donation bags to your car or call a charity and set up a pick-up date.

Pull weeds.

Work on a crossword puzzle.

Match the pile of orphan socks in your laundry room.

Make a cup of coffee in your favorite mug.

Clean the litter box.

Read Psalm 23.

Hug and kiss your kids or pets.

Purge broken crayons and torn coloring books.

Move – jumping jacks, squats, run the steps, anything!

Empty trash cans.

Tell someone you love them.

Sanitize door knobs, remote controls or phones.

Shred sensitive documents.

Toss outdated medicine.

Write a thank you note.

Clear your email inbox.

Pray for someone.

In two minutes, you can accomplish dozens of tasks, even ones that aren’t so fun. What are you waiting for? Set your timer and get moving!

What else would you add to the list?

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Want Fresher Laundry? Add This One Ingredient!

When I was a kid, my mom never bought bottled water. It was a new craze then and expensive, and she preferred to spend the family’s grocery budget on food we could chew.

One day, I noticed a large jug filled with clear liquid sitting on our kitchen counter. It looked like bottled water, and I felt so surprised, thinking she had finally caved to all my begging and bought me bottled water!

I carefully opened the jug and took a big swig.

Gross!

It was white vinegar. I never made that mistake again!

While vinegar tastes terrible, it does amazing things around the house. It deodorizes smelly plastic containers, cleans crusty microwaves and dissolves gunk in sink drains.

Vinegar

It also performs miracles in the washing machine!

Well, maybe not miracles, but it does make laundry smell fresher. I started pouring 1/2 to one cup of white vinegar in all my loads and definitely notice a difference.

What’s your favorite laundry hack?

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Murder Is No Accident – a Book Review

Murder is No Accident

I’m a sucker for a good mystery, especially if it’s clean – no cursing, sex or violence. And that’s why I eagerly snagged a copy of “Murder Is No Accident” by A. H. Gabhart.

Indeed, the first page of this book captured my attention, and I stayed engaged for several pages. I wanted to find out who Maggie Green heard murder the local real estate agent!

But then the author introduced the townspeople, and I grew confused and bored. I had a hard time keeping the characters straight and got the impression that I was missing important backstory that was essential to this book’s success.

It wasn’t until the second half that the plot managed to grab my attention again, and I appreciated the mystery that kept me guessing until the end!

Overall, this book is a sweet and easy read. While it’s a mystery, it’s not violent, and there is no cursing or sexual content. However, it contains several grammatical errors and not enough backstory. To really “get” it, you need to read the first two books in a series. It is possible to jump into the series on book 3, but I wouldn’t recommend it because the story is decent, and skipping the first two books will curb your enthusiasm for this book.

If you’re looking for a easy read and a mild mystery with a little romance on the side, I recommend this series – but start with number one rather than this book. You’ll appreciate this book even more if you start at the beginning of the series!

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Honesty Sets You Free

honesty-sets-you-free

As part of our family’s adventure in wellness, I attend a Celebrate Recovery 12-Step study. A small group of ladies meet weekly to discuss the steps, pray and find freedom from various hurts, habits and hangups.

One thing I notice as I work through the study is that recovery depends on honesty. After all, the first step is admitting you have a problem. To even work through the 12 steps, we must let go of denial and be honest!

But honesty is hard. It’s much easier to say that everything’s fine and cover up the shame, guilt, heartache and trauma in our lives. I know – I’ve done it for years!

And that’s why the devotional I read today (“When You Just Can’t Bring Cheerful”) resonated with me. We don’t have to be cheerful all the time and cover up what’s really going on in our hearts and lives. In fact, we find true healing only when we are honest, open and authentic. Think about it – God knows our hearts. We’re only lying to ourselves and hindering His healing work when we try to hide from Him.

I take comfort in the fact that even though honesty is challenging, painful, embarrassing and scary, it’s also the source of true freedom. I pray we can be honest with ourselves, Jesus and others today. May we take time to be authentic and real with our Father today.

Today’s prayer: “Thank You, God, for loving us, even the ugly parts, and for gently drawing us to Yourself as You give us freedom and joy! Give us courage to be real with You and trust Your gentleness, mercy and grace.”

Titus 3:4-5a, “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (NIV)

Hosea 2:14, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her … and bring her into the wilderness, and I will speak tenderly and to her heart.” (AMPC)

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