Back to School Survival Guide

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)


Back to School Survival Guide

I know not everyone homeschools and although I do, this guide can still be adapted to me as a homeschool mom. And let me tell you, it’s already giving me some very clear direction for our upcoming year.

There are parts of our days that are devoted to formal lessons, just like they have in public schools. Some discipline in learning is required, in my opinion and in my home.  I promise that if I didn’t set aside a time for my children to learn math, they would never learn it!

Back to School Survival Guide

Back to School Survival Guide

Here are the items included in the Back 2 School Survival Guide:

  • Back 2 School Survival Guide eBook
  • Student Planner
  • Master Family Planner
  • Routines
  • School Information Sheet
  • Schedule Adjustment Worksheet
  • Countdown Maze
  • My Favorite Worksheet
  • Grocery Planner
  • Family Fun Worksheet
  • Family Meeting Agenda
  • School Goals Worksheet
  • Classmate Contact Sheet
  • Important Dates At-A-Glance
  • Lunchbox Notes
  • Note to Teacher

Each of these are explained in the packs’ Introduction & Instructions.

Back to School Survival Guide


Here’s a sneak peek into some of the goodies included in this survival guide:



 Use code BACK14  to save $2 until 8-15-2014!

Why I’m Cutting Back the Online Media {Coffee Break}

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

office desk with blank screen laptop computer

I haven’t written a Coffee Break since February! Wow! I think stress has been so high with the move and finalizing the adoption, I just felt like I couldn’t exhale. Boy do I find it SO much easier to breathe these days! The whole reason I created the Coffee Breaks was so I could write without worrying about all the blogging rules. It seems my lack of writing Coffee Breaks has stifled my freedom and I was trapped again by the weight of being a blogger.

So, I’m working through reevaluating my time and purpose online. It’s a tough balance sometimes, especially when you’re listening to all the voices and they are drowning out God’s.

The Weight of Blogging

You see, the message to bloggers by other {successful} bloggers is almost always about numbers..growing through numbers by doing a million different things. (And mind you, not all successful bloggers do this. But many do). And many successful bloggers have turned their blogging into a full time job. I am not capable of devoting that much time to blogging at this very busy season of my life.

But, in all this teaching, rarely have I found someone who has taught bloggers to grow in maturity, in any respect, and then teach or share with their readers how to do the same. Michael Hyatt and Jeff Goins would be the exceptions here. Michael teaches people how to be great leaders and Jeff teaches people how to be great writers. They both teach people how to develop and mature and sprinkle in posts about how they became successful bloggers.

However, the overall message is confusing because you have to have quality content to get the quantity of numbers. But how often is that quality authentic?

My goal here isn’t to come down on bloggers and what they’re teaching, but to examine, as a blogger, what it is I’m really gaining by listening to advice that focuses mainly on numbers. I need to decide if this information is truly relevant to me in this season of my life. For a blogger who is looking to turn their blog into a full time business, this information may prove very useful.

But for me? A full-time, homeschooling mom of seven who has a heart for mainly writing my thoughts out in case someone else can glean from them? I don’t think being a slave to social media is in the cards for me. Social media is such a time sucker and over-saturated with information. I don’t want to be part of the problem yet I do want to share things I find to be excellent in quality and helpful to others.

Quite honestly, it’s exhausting to keep up with all the rules and requirements of bloggers to gain those numbers. And although it has never been my goal to focus on numbers, as a blogger, one is always susceptible to the temptation and sometimes even falls into it.

Sometimes it’s hard not to fall into the trap of envying the successful blogger, but it has forced me to stop and think about what I’m really willing to sacrifice.

I don’t want to sacrifice my message and authenticity. I don’t want to sacrifice the trust I’ve gained from my readers. I don’t want to sacrifice time with my family. And when I find myself growing frustrated with my children or my household duties because there are things I need want to do online, it’s time to step back.

Online Media

I wrote on this not too long ago. But I think it requires revisiting, sometimes often, in order to get it to really sink in. And a few months ago I felt lost…I don’t feel that today. In fact, I feel overwhelmingly fulfilled in my role because my family is together now. I am brimming with blessing and I want to soak it up, not be a slave to social media for the sake of my blog.

Going from five to seven children has definitely proved busier in our household — and I wouldn’t change it for anything. With that, I am required to view my time online. I will continue blogging, yes. But I need to learn to leave a lot of the other stuff behind.

Even pleasure browsing through Facebook has left me overstimulated. I find it hard to concentrate as well as turn my thoughts quiet. Our lives have become so busy with constant input, we don’t even know how to rest anymore.

I read an amazing article yesterday over at Time-Warp Wife, written by Jennifer Ebenhack. It’s called When Homemaking is a Hassle: 3 Reasons to Reevaluate “Mommy Media”

Jennifer did an excellent job putting into words what I’ve been feeling but simply failed to write. I encourage you to read it and see if your own media consumption needs some evaluation.

Coffee Break with Christin

Early Reader Chapter Books

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Early Reader Chapter Books

Our daughters arrived home from Ghana two weeks ago and I have been trying to gauge their reading levels and see where they can best jump in. Since they know quite a bit of English, they read at a greater level than I expected. However, I am still trying to feel out their reading comprehension.

I decided to compile a list of early reader chapter books to help me get started. These range from very early readers to your middle-of-the-road readers–if I had to put a grade level on the list, I’d say first to fourth grade. But these books range in age anywhere from 5 years old to 12 years old.

These books are great for having your child read aloud to you and reading aloud to your child. So, even if your child reads at a first grade level, you can still read them a book listed in the third or fourth grade level. This will help build vocabulary and offer some great mom-child time! I don’t think children at home can ever be too old to be read aloud to, especially in a family setting.

Early Reader Chapter Books

Sarah, Plain and Tall

Magic Tree House {Series} – There are dozens of books in this series. They teach all kinds of history and science.

Amelia Bedelia {Series}

Fancy Nancy {Series}

Ling and Ting {Series}

The {Original} Boxcar Children {Series}

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

The Trumpet of the Swan

The Cricket in Time Square

The Little House in the Big Woods {Series}

The Hardy Boys {Series}

Mr. Popper’s Penguins

American Girl {Series} There are dozens of these books. The older ones are the best!

The Indian in the Cupboard {Series}

Pippi Longstocking {Series}

Charlotte’s Web

Stuart Little

So, if you’re in need of a starting point for early reader chapter books, hopefully this list will point you in the right direction!

What books would you add to this list? Leave a comment below.

Moms in the Word {August Study Schedule}

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

How sweet are Your Words!

Oh my how I’ve missed connecting with you through our time in the Word!!!! It has been such a time of celebration here!! Over two weeks our girls have been home and so far they are doing very well!

But I have sorely missed having some intentional time in the Word — and let me tell you, I struggle to be in His word if I don’t have some direction.

So, in August we are going to begin studying the book of James. Elizabeth George has a study guide for this book as well, but it is not required to read through the book of James. I will be using it as a guide to break down our weeks and offer additional insights into my own, personal time.

August 5 – James 1:1 POST/LINK UP
August 6 – James 1:2-4
August 7 – James 1:5-8
August 8 – James 1:9-12
August 11 – James 1:13-16
August 12 – James 1:17-18 POST/LINK UP
August 13 – James 1:19-27
August 14 – James 2:1-4
August 15 – James 2:5-13
August 18 – James 2:14-17
August 19 – James 2:18-26 POST/LINK UP
August 20 – James 3:1-4
August 21 – James 3:5-8
August 22 – James 3:9-12
August 25 – James 3:13-18
August 26 – James 4:1-3 POST/LINK UP
August 27 – James 4:4-6
August 28 – James 4:7-10
August 29 – James 4:11-12
September 2 – James 4:13-17 POST/LINK UP
September 3 - James 5:1-6
September 4 – James 5:7-11
September 5 – James 5:12-18
September 8 – James 5:19-20
September 9 – Wrap Up Post

If you’re interested in having the study guide by Elizabeth George, you can order a hard copy and receive in time to start, or just snag the Kindle copy.


What are you learning this week?

Come follow the Moms in the Word board on Pinterest. I pin my favorites from the link up each week!

Follow Christin’s board Moms in the Word on Pinterest.

Moms in the Word Tuesdays.png
For His Glory

Read what others are learning through their Bible study time and link up your own post below! Please do not use this link up to promote your products. This is reserved for sharing what we are learning in the Word in our daily Bible time with the Lord. Any promos will be removed. Thank you.

Reading in an email? Click here to add you link.

 Loading InLinkz ...

Our Girls are HOME!

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

After 2 years…after 18 months since first seeing their beautiful faces, we are finally home with our daughters. And hey…we broke the record for the longest case our Power of Attorney in Ghana has ever had. Yay! Go us!

The Homecoming of Our Girls...a story of God's faithfulness.jpg

We left on a plane July 2nd and flew out to Ghana and we came home July 7th. A few days after our return trip, I got sick with a virus my 3-year old was carrying, and I am still sick (on day 4). So the transition isn’t going as I hoped, however, the girls seem to be adjusting well.

Since everyone’s number one question to us is, “How are they adjusting”, let’s start there.

When we saw them in Ghana for the first time in nearly 18-months, it was clear they were both happy and excited. We stayed at their foster home for a couple hours and were invited to have breakfast, so we ate.

When it was time to leave for our next destination, it began to get real for ME, because we, at that point, were going to be taking full responsibility for our daughters from this point on. I tried to remember how those moments made me feel, because as white people caring for and traveling with two Ghanaian children, clearly we would stand out. When our girls came to the U.S., the same would be true of them.

Our girls have had a unique experience with being around many white people, though. The orphanage they came from constantly has volunteers who come from Europe and remain in Ghana for 3 months to a year to serve. So they are not new to being around white people, and many of them.

Once we arrived in Cape Coast, about 3 hours from the airport, the girls began to open up more. We got settled into the beach resort for a few days of bonding with the girls.

Beach Resort Room .jpg
We had a blast hanging out on the beach, watching the girls swing and sing, having meals in an outdoor pavilion, rain or shine. Because it is warm year round, much of the Ghanaian life is built outside.

Girls Swinging.jpg
Margaret on the left, Christina on the right.
Meet Our Girls.jpg

There are always, always people walking around. It’s a common means of travel because many cannot afford to own a car. There is also an abundance of public transportation. Some can’t even afford that.

So, at the end of the weekend we gathered our things to return to the airport. The drive there was a little terrifying. We didn’t know until after we were 2 hours into our drive back to the airport that our taxi driver didn’t know where the airport was! In addition, his car kept failing to accelerate at different points throughout our trip. I was terrified we would get stranded and miss our flight. I couldn’t do anything but pray!

Once we got inside the airport, Christiana’s nerves began to kick in. She said her stomach hurt and from what we gathered from Margaret’s interpretation, Christiana was scared to get on the plane. We did what we could to comfort her and after a couple hours of being in the airport, she began to feel better. And they both did great on the flights!

We were all pretty exhausted once we landed home, but adrenaline kept us going.

All of the children were excited to meet and play right away. It truly was a wonderful homecoming!

Family Pictured: L–>My mother in law standing behind the girls, me and my husband with the rest of our children in front of us, my mom, my sister, and my brother.
Today, one week later, the girls are settling in as best as can be expected. They seem happy and comfortable here, but that doesn’t always tell a true story. It takes a lot of time to feel these issues out.

I continue to work on our schedule but since I got sick over the weekend, it has been delayed a bit. But I know they will thrive even more once that schedule is in place and they know what to expect and when.

As we spend our summer bonding as a family, we will be doing some light lessons and trying to see what level our girls are at so homeschooling can begin in late August.

I will continue to write about our transition and am currently writing a book on our adoption process, God’s faithfulness, and the girls first 3 months home.

Thank you for your prayers and continued support. It has been a long two years, but we are finally ready to begin the next chapter of our journey!

My Children

Lead Your Family Like Jesus: The Hands

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Book Club - Lead Your Family Like Jesus.png
We are going through the book, Lead Your Family Like Jesus. You can see previous posts here.

I am a sucker for habits and though I don’t have all of them in place that I would like, we do have a simple, solid structure of daily habits.

Our reading this week was the section on The Habits. This week I am opening this up for YOU to share what you’re learning in the comments.

What is one thing you want to implement into your family after reading the section on The Habits? 

What Patience Looks Like {Moms in the Word}

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

I am hesitant to begin our next study until after we travel (which we are still unsure of when that will be), but I am hoping we can begin again in August, with a formal, community study. In the mean time, I am still reading His word and want to share what I’m learning about here. I encourage you to continue to link up!



I have wondered over the course of the last months how one learns patience. I thought that practice makes perfect…you know, the more circumstances that occur, the more patient it makes you? But that’s not necessarily what I’ve found. I found I grow more impatient with more trials and I didn’t understand why until last night.

“Count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have it’s perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” James 1:2-4

Last week a dear woman at my church suffered a stroke. Upon hearing this news I cried; she has been such an instrument of encouragement and support in my family’s life and to hear of her suffering through pain and trial saddened me greatly.

A few days later, that passage from James {above} popped up on her Facebook. First, I was overjoyed to know she is recovering enough to be able to post on Facebook! But more than that, her post encouraged me because she was the one going through the trial and it was as if she was telling everyone, “Hey, it’s OK. This is good for me in order to grow. God is using it!” 

Typically, I see people share such passages with others going through trials; rarely do I see someone use it on themselves.

Just Let It

It wasn’t but a few days later would these verses further encourage me in my own trial. As we continue to face minor adoption delays, they all seem like mountains to me. And admittedly, my reaction to the initial news is usually not gratitude to face another trial. And I lamented how hard it is to learn patience.

But patience isn’t something to be learned through the compilation of more and more trials. James says, “…let patience have it’s perfect work…”

Just let it. {My cousin Michael helped me realize this through a song he wrote called, Let Patience}.

Just let it. Don’t resist the trial, but accept it. That doesn’t mean there isn’t a fight involved, spiritually. But let go of the control. Let go of the belief that things should be different or the notion that it isn’t fair (because it probably isn’t). Let go of believing your story ought to look like someone else’s. Let go of the belief that life is easy. Let go of unrealistic expectations.

Let patience have it’s perfect work.

Just let it go (cue Frozen song here). ;)

So that’s what patience is, huh?

What are you learning this week?

Come follow the Moms in the Word board on Pinterest. I pin my favorites from the link up each week!

Follow Christin’s board Moms in the Word on Pinterest.

Moms in the Word Tuesdays.png
For His Glory

Read what others are learning through their Bible study time and link up your own post below! Please do not use this link up to promote your products. This is reserved for sharing what we are learning in the Word in our daily Bible time with the Lord. Any promos will be removed. Thank you.

Reading in an email? Click here to add you link.

 Loading InLinkz ...

Homeschool Curriculum: Social Studies

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

I was compensated for this my time and received a free curriculum. All opinions are mine. Please read my full disclosure here.

Homeschool Curriculum

Homeschool Curriculum

Pearson Homeschool has some great bundles in various subjects. We’re working through Social Studies right now.

Social Studies hasn’t been something we have studied formally, from a book, in our homeschool until now. It has been a good experience so far, as my almost 6 year old daughter is learning some new things about community and responsibility as a member of society.

The first lesson was so great and she really took interest in what the children on the DVD had to say about “cooperation”. (And seriously, they were so cute!)

It’s funny now, listening to my daughter use the word, “cooperation” after learning its meaning. (Makes her sound so grown up, even if it is a little misused!)

For example, the other day she was trying to convince her younger brother that he needed to “cooperate” with her in order to get her room clean. I looked at her with my eyebrow raised and she said, “What? Cooperate  means ‘to work together’!” I couldn’t deny that and I just chuckled to myself.

Pearson Homeschool

Pearson Homeschool

The Pearson Social Studies First Grade curriculum  teaches children about

  • rules
  • responsibility
  • leaders
  • our government
  • our country symbols
  • jobs
  • maps & globes
  • land & water
  • environment
  • culture
  • time & history
  • American heroes
  • and so much more!

It helps young children understand some of the foundations of what make up our society. In many cases, our children already experience much of what’s taught, however, this program really helps to put it into context for my daughter.

Pearson Homeschool.png
I love how the workbook encourages critical thinking skills and creativity.

While life experiences are great for learning, sometimes it’s good to learn how to avoid mistakes before making them, too. Teaching children about money management, even in its simplest form, is a great start in learning money management skills the right way before learning the hard way.

Some children need to see it written down for it to really click. (I was that kind of child and have grown into that kind of adult). ;)

One of the things I love about this program is some of the illustrations are things I wouldn’t have thought of to help my child better understand certain concepts. Such as envisioning how orange juice makes it to the grocery store shelf. Unless my child asked me straightforward, I wouldn’t have thought to illustrate how the juice gets there in the first place.

For all she knows it’s just always there! She doesn’t realize, without being taught, that it starts off with oranges on a tree. Maybe it seems an obvious thing to teach, but as adults it can be easy to forget the obvious! Things we know but just don’t think much of.

The photographs in the workbook are all from real life, which I love because it shows my daughter these ideas are real. Cartoon illustrations, in this case, would only confuse what’s real, I think. So I really appreciated that detail.

Overall, the program is very well put together. We are really enjoying it together and she is learning more about how life around her works, right here in her community.

This program comes with the teacher’s guide on a CD-R as well as a DVD to watch videos with each unit.

Pearson also offers enVision Math Bundles, MCP Plaid Phonics Bundles, and Interactive Science Bundles,

Visit Pearson Homeschool to get 25% off any K-6 myWorld Social Studies Bundle (or the aforementioned) through August 15th, using promo code BLG25.  To see all the grade levels of this Social Studies Curriculum, click one below:


First Grade

Second Grade

Third Grade

Fourth Grade

Fifth Grade

Sixth Grade

Lead Your Family Like Jesus: The Head

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Vision Is Important

We’re on week three of our six week, Lead Your Family Like Jesus, summer book club.

This week’s reading was the section on The Head. The content surrounds Family Values, To Do or Not to Do, and Staying on Course.


I couldn’t agree more with the authors about creating a vision for your family. We cannot journey somewhere with no destination in mind. We’ll only end up in circles, headed nowhere.

“Vision is important because leadership is about going somewhere. If your family members don’t know where you’re trying to take them, they’ll have a hard time getting there–let alone getting excited about journey.”

This makes so much sense. Children (and adults!) have a sense of security and purpose when they have a vision and know where they are headed. What vision have we given our children? What purpose? When they wake up in the morning, what purpose do they have to accomplish?

The most important vision I have for our family is to seek out the Lord Jesus Christ with our whole lives. Every day we live, needs to be about Him. That’s what I want. And why? Because He is our purpose.


Just as Jesus was a servant to His people, so do I want to serve and teach my children to serve. But serving each other within the walls of our own home is but a place of training. We aren’t to remain there, hidden from the world.

“Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

This isn’t about bragging or showing off oneself. It’s about showing off Jesus and being His hands and feet right outside our front door.

But there’s a way to do it. We need to truly love the people in our community as individuals, not treat them as projects. Our goal isn’t to get people saved. Our goal is to love people with no strings attached. That’s what Jesus did and still does. Those are the footsteps I want to follow in.


Staying focused on our vision everyday is what will help us reach that destination. We as parents need to recognize that our children are in a season of training and learning. There will be lots of mistakes and childishness involved that we must keep into perspective. These are opportunities to help our children grow and mature; not for us to vent our anger because we are inconvenienced.

Think about how your reactions might affect your children in future mistakes. Do we want them to cover them up or be open and honest when they need help or support? All of life is a learning and growing process. None of us will ever “arrive” at perfection and sometimes I think we set our expectations on our children to that level. We think that because they’ve made a mistake and suffered the consequences, they will never make that mistake again. Sometimes it takes more than one time to learn a lesson. How many of you can relate to that?

Lead Your Family Like Jesus

Me Time: Everyday Essentials

(This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)

Me Time - Everyday Essentials.png


After discussing the two extreme’s of “me time”, and what an effective time of solitude needs, I would like to discuss some everyday essentials for taking care of YOU.

It is very common for mom’s to naturally let themselves go as they care for their children. No doubt our hearts are in the right place! However, we need to caution ourselves to think through what we’re really sacrificing. Are we putting forth our best efforts by sacrificing our own, simple needs?

I used to [and sometimes still struggle] with caring for my basic needs without feeling guilty simply because what I was doing focused on me. I needed to learn that it’s not selfish to take care of myself! God wants us to care for ourselves (1 Cor. 6:19). If he doesn’t want us abusing ourselves, would he want us neglecting ourselves?  Some may vary on what they consider “needs”. So let’s begin with the basics.

  1. A regular shower. Let’s face it, when you have kids, a shower tends to become a luxury. Sometimes we can’t squeeze it in when we’d like. I’ve come to find that I feel my best when I’ve showered [go figure]. This is something we need to make time for. I would even go so far as to say to make time for it daily. Some like this commodity every other day, but there are more benefits than cleanliness alone.
  2. Get fully dressedFlylady makes an excellent point to why she highly suggests “getting dressed to shoes“. It is motivating–especially the shoes part. She highly recommends shoes that lace up because they are harder to take off and are snug on your feet. When I am wearing my shoes, I know I am in “work mode”. At the end of the night, when my shoes come off, [typically after the children are in bed], I instantly relax. If you don’t like to wear shoes in the house, buy a pair that are for the house only. Trust me on this. :)
  3. Style your hair and face. When you feel your best, you’ll do your best. Simple as that. You don’t have to wear make up. A simple wash will keep you feeling fresh. Brushing your teeth counts as well. Don’t feel guilty for taking 5-10 minutes to blow dry your hair if that’s how it looks best. Take care of yourself.
  4. Get with God daily. This is the most important need that we have. We need His strength, wisdom, and direction every single day. We cannot get that if we are not connecting with Him, through prayer and His word. We tend to hear this over and over again. There’s a reason. Make it a priority to get with God daily.
  5. Exercise. Yet another dreadful task we never want to take the time for. This one may require a bit more selflessness if you don’t like to exercise [like me...ahem]. A simple walk is sufficient. Something to get your blood moving and energy up a bit. It doesn’t have to be long; 5-15 minutes. If you can’t get out of the house, consider buying a workout DVD. You’d be amazed at what exercise can do for your energy and mentality.
  6. Eat!  I forgot to put in to eat! As a mother, I often forget this very important necessity! Take the time to eat.

These are simple, daily necessities that every mother needs. There is no reason we should feel guilty for doing these things. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can best care for others.


What do you need to do that you are not doing because of guilt?