Top Ten Gifts She Secretly Wants

Gift Ideas for Her. 2017 Holiday Gift Guide. Gifts She Secretly Wants.

Below I include affiliate links to items I love, my friends and family love, and they have amazing reviews!

Top 10 Gifts She Secretly Wants

 

#1     Kindle Paperwhite E-reader

Now she can enjoy reading her books and magazines on a glare-free screen in the sunlight or in bed at night. This best-selling Kindle Paperwhite E-reader lasts weeks on one-battery charge and has millions of book titles for $2.99 or less.

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#2    iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum

One less chore to think about! Everyone in her home will love having this iRobot Roomba Vacuum clean the floors automatically!

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#3    VicTsign Cool Mist Humidifier & Essential Oil Diffuser

If she doesn’t already have an essential oil diffuser, she definitely wants one! Her friends have probably already told her about their amazing experience and the health benefits of essential oils. This best-selling VicTsing Humidifier and Essential Oil Diffuser will keep her home smelling amazing! She will love this!

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#4    Grocery Delivery

Sometimes she just really doesn’t like going to the grocery store. Especially if she has to take the kids with her! She will love grocery shopping with a few clicks and have it show up at her door! Amazon Fresh now offers grocery delivery!

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#5    YOUSA Super Soft Shaggy Faux Fur Blanket

A lady needs a favorite blanket to cozy up with and compliments her home decor too. This YOUSA Shaggy Faux Fur Throw Blanket will be her favorite!

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#6    Nespresso Vertuo Coffee and Espresso Machine

If she loves her coffee or espresso, then she is probably wanting a quality maker at home. This best-selling Nespresso Vertuo Machine makes both coffee AND espresso! Comes in different colors too!

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#7    Nikon D3400 24.2 DSLR Camera Kit

If she is creative and likes to take a lot of pictures but she only uses her phone, getting a ‘real’ camera has probably crossed her mind. This best-selling Nikon Camera Kit has all she will need to get started!

 

 

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#8    Vassoul Women’s Hair Remover

She can stop using her man’s shaver for her little chin hairs now! Yes, ladies get those occasionally. She will love that this Vassoul Hair Remover is for her face AND body.

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#9    Amope Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File

She will use this all the time to keep her feet nice and soft between those pedicure visits! This Amope Foot File is easier to use than the manual foot files most people have.

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#10  BESTOPE Blackhead Remover and Pimple Extractor.

Hormones can get the best of a lady’s skin sometimes. The BESTOPE tool is very handy and more sanitary than using fingernails to pop or extract those ugly suckers when they show their ugly heads. A gift that is probably best gifted with other beauty items. Pick one of these up for yourself too!

 

 

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My 3 Consistent Sources of Blogging Income

 

My 3 Most Consistent Sources of Blogging Income

 

My very first blog post was in 2011, so I’ve been at this for a little bit. I’m going to share with you what has consistently brought me blogging income over the years. If you’re hoping to make a real income with a blog, I’m hoping this saves you time and effort in figuring out what to focus on.

My 3 Consistent Sources of Blogging Income

There are several ways bloggers make an income with their blogs and the ones I list below are the three I focus on because they have consistently provided an income.

If you study blogs of the most popular bloggers out there you’ll quickly see what their focus is. Once you have identified what their focus is, you’ll understand how they’re making a living from their blog. I recommend studying the blogs that are successful in your area of interest and doing something similar, but with your own uniqueness (don’t steal from other bloggers though, that will surely be your downfall). Here is what has CONSISTENTLY provided an income from my blog.

#1 ~Tangible Products

The most consistent source of income from my blog comes from my own tangible products. I build wooden keepsake boxes and chests, sell them on Etsy, and showcase my shop on my blog. The readers from my blog are in the same niche market as my Etsy shop. My worst months have been around $1000 and the best months (usually around the holidays) are about $5000.

If you’re looking to make more than I do consistently, I know of many people doing more than $5k a month, but they usually have a team of people or they work crazy hours, and they have scaled their business accordingly.  I am still a one-person shop, I work mostly part-time hours (because when my kids are home, I want to be with them), thankfully my husband’s job affords us to be flexible, and I also like to keep my business as simple as possible.

There are a lot of options for selling a tangible product besides Etsy. You don’t even have to make the product yourself. The t-shirt business is a popular one right now! Boutique-style e-commerce shops are doing great too, that’s why you see so many celebrities jumping on the bandwagon of having their own clothing, jewelry, shoe, etc. lines. You just have to make sure your blog subject brings in the same readers that would be interested your tangible product.

#2 ~Digital Products

I LOOOOOOOOVE digital products! They are so useful to your readers, they save them time, and a quick digital download fulfill’s that instant gratification tendency that is so common in our digital era. Plus, digital products are a great way to make passive income. You create it one time, and get paid for it over and over again!

I’ve been creating digital products for a couple of years now. I’m slowly gaining momentum but that’s because it hasn’t been my main focus. I mostly offer FREE digital downloads to build my email list. My email list has been a great way to engage with my readers and offer them specials and keep them up-to-date with new products (tangible and digital). Most of my digital product sales have come from an email campaign I sent out. I still have some sales directly from my blog too. My worst months for digital sales are under $100. My best month for digital sales were about $300. I do consistently get sales every month, and I see more potential for growth as I focus more on developing and marketing my digital products.

I know of some popular bloggers who make the bulk of their income ($10k+ per month) from ebooks, curriculums, sewing patterns, exercise and eating schedules, building plans, craft instructions, etc. The digital product list goes on and on. It’s their main focus for sure, and they market the heck out of their digital items. They have grown their blog traffic and email lists to the tens of thousands and usually have a hefty amount of social media followers. All of which they have spent a lot of time cultivating.

We live in the digital era! If you offer digital products related to your blog topic it will likely bring in consistent sales if you have consistent blog traffic. You don’t have to have hundreds of thousands of monthly visitors to your blog either. Just engaged readers. Quality over quantity. Always. Engagement always wins over volume.

 

#3 ~Affiliate Programs

A lot of people are on the fence about affiliate programs. The ‘ick factor’ of being salesy or being too focused on pushing product in your blog writing. Plus it’s very saturated. I agree with most of that, BUT I also think if you link to an affiliate product to give your reader additional information about what you are already writing about, it ends up making your content richer by saving your reader time searching for the things you’re mentioning in your post. It’s like your mom giving you a recipe AND then showing up at your house with all the ingredients for it!

Even though I get consistent affiliate sales on a monthly basis, it is my smallest and most variable form of income for now. My worst months for affiliate income are under $50 and my best months are around $100. But, I know of many bloggers who make the bulk of their income from affiliate programs! I’m talking thousands of dollars per month! These bloggers focus mainly on product reviews and gift guides.

I do suggest looking at affiliate marketing as being more like a supplemental income. I wouldn’t suggest solely depending on it every month because it is highly variable. You may have amazing months the affiliate drops or revises their program and POOF there goes your income!

 

 

Overall, the products I make for my Etsy shop and the digital products I sell have been the most consistent and quickest form of income that is derived from my blog traffic. I started seeing sales from these the same month I started featuring them on my blog. I prefer my own tangible and digital products being my main source of income because I have the most control over them.

Although affiliate marketing has still been a consistent source of income for me and I do see huge potential for growth in this area, I will never depend on it.

I also want to remind you that I do only work part-time hours. If you want to make more than I do, I’m sure if you put in full-time effort you will have even greater success than me!

StephJ

 

Year 1994 {Baby Book & Journal Filler}

1994 World Leaders. Headlines. Cost of Living. Pop Culture. Help filling in Baby Book, Scrapbook, and other Keepsake Projects.

Research contributor: Kate Muller

1994 Cost of things (U.S. Averages):
Gallon of Milk~ $2.88 (1990sflashback.com)
Dozen Eggs (Large, Grade A)~  $0.87 (1990sflashback.com)
Loaf of bread (1lb)~ $1.59 (thepeoplehistory.com)
U.S. Postage Stamp~ 29 cents (johnstonsarchive.net)
New Car Price (light vehicles)~ $12,350 (thepeoplehistory.com)
Regular Unleaded Gallon of Gas~ $1.11 (1990sflashback.com)
Movie Ticket~ $4.18 (boxofficemojo.com)
Median sales price of new house~ $129,900 (census.gov)
Median Household Income~ $51,065 (statista.com)
Minimum Wage~ $4.25 (https://www.dol.gov/featured/minimum-wage/chart1)
Living wage for a family of 4 (2 working adults & 2 children)~ U.S. efforts began in 1994 and reported the next year. (Wikipedia)

1994 Top Technology:
(Wikipedia, Google)
~Televisions~
Sony Trinitron
PANASONIC
Amitron TV
~Smart phones~
None yet
~Wearable Technology~
None yet
 ~Tablets & Readers~
None yet
~Online Social Communities~
None yet
~Video~
Sony and Philips announce they will work together to develop a new kind of high density medium, commonly known as Digital Versatile Disc (DVD).
~Game systems~
Sega Nomad
Sega Saturn
PlayStation
Super Game Boy
~Other~
Aiwa Mega-CD
Playdia multimedia home console
PC-FX multimedia home console
 ~Automobiles~
Acura Integra GS-R
BMW 325i/325is
Chrysler Concorde
Ford Probe GT

In the news…
-TV/VCR combinations are selling briskly. According to the electronic Industries Assn. Sales were up 55%.
America Online (AOL) has some 600,000 customers and growing.
-Intel delivers the most powerful personal computer to its new family of high-speed Pentium microprocessors.
-Apple Computer, Inc. releases the first Macintosh computers to use the new PowerPC Microprocessors. This is considered to be a major leap in personal computer, as well as Macintosh history.
-In May, 1994, 99% of U.S. households have at least one television set.
-Microsoft announces it will no longer sell or support the MS-DOS operating system separately from Microsoft Windows. This had been its mainstay since 1980.
-Sony Corp. signs a $25 million deal to install its Sony Dynamic digital sound system in AMC movie theaters.
-Start-up company Plasmaco demonstrated a color plasma display at an industry convention in San Jose. -Panasonic Corporation began a joint development project with Plasmaco, which led in 1996 to the purchase of Plasmaco, its color AC technology, and its American factory.
-Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates unveils an on-line service called Microsoft Network that will launch as part of Microsoft’s new personal computer operating system, Windows 95.
-The first version of web browser Netscape Navigator is released.

1994 Top Celebrities:
(People.com and TMZ.com)
Tom Hanks
Sandra Bullock
Jim Carrey
Jared Leto
Lisa Marie Presley
Michael Jackson
Hugh Grant
Robin Wright
Keanu Reeves
Leonardo DiCaprio
Johnny Depp
Julia Roberts
Cher
Jerry Seinfeld
Tim Robbins
Cameron Diaz
Jennifer Aniston
Will Smith
Neve Campbell
Claire Danes
Tia & Tamera Mowry
John Travolta
Celine Dion
Samuel L. Jackson
Bruce Willis
Cindy Crawford
Roseanne
Helen Hunt
George Clooney
Mariah Carey

Yearly Trends, Headlines, World Leaders, Pop Culture, Cost of Things. Baby Book Help.

1994 Top Athletes:
(Google)
Michael Jordan
Mia Hamm
Evander Holyfield
Dale Earnhardt
Andre Agassi
Monica Seles
Shaquille O’Neal
Jack Nicklaus
Wayne Gretzky
Patrick Ewing
Jerry Rice

1994 Top Sporting Events:
(Wikipedia)
Super Bowl: Dallas Cowboys win 30-13 against the Buffalo Bills
Daytona 500: Loy Allen, Jr.
The Kentucky Derby: Go for Gin
The Masters: José María Olazábal
NBA Championship: Houston Rockets defeat the New York Knicks 4-3
Wimbledon: Gentlemen’s singles: Pete Sampras / Women’s Singles: Conchita Martínez
FIFA World Cup: Brazil beat Italy 3-2
Women’s World Cup: N/A
World Series: The 1994 World Series was cancelled due to an ongoing strike by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
Olympics: 1994 Winter Olympics Lillehammer, Norway Top three winning countries: Norway won 26 medals, Germany won 24 medals, Russia won 23 medals

1994 Top Songs:
(Billboard.com Hot 100)
The Sign ~ Ace of Base
I Swear ~ All-4-One
I’ll Make Love to You ~ Boyz II Men
The Power of Love ~ Celine Dion
Hero ~ Mariah Carey
Stay (I Missed You) ~ Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories
Breathe Again ~ Toni Braxton
All for Love ~ Bryan Adams, Rod Stewart, Sting
All that She Wants ~ Ace of Base
Don’t Turn Around ~ Ace of Base

1994 Top Television Shows:
(Google)
Seinfeld
Frasier
Friends
Roseanne
My So-Called Life
Murphy Brown
NYPD Blue
Home Improvement
The X-Files
The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Law & Order
Murder, She Wrote
Mad About You
ER
Northern Exposure

1994 Top Movies:
(boxofficemojo.com)
Forrest Gump
The Lion King
True Lies
The Santa Clause
The Flintstones
Dumb and Dumber
Clear and Present Danger
Speed
The Mask
Pulp Fiction
Interview with the Vampire
Maverick

Other popular movies…
The Client
Disclosure
Star Trek: Generations
Ace Ventura: Pet Detective
Stargate
Legends of the Fall
Wolf
The Specialist
Four Weddings and a Funeral
The Little Rascals

1994 Top Books:
(goodreads.com)
One for the Money ~ Janet Evanovich
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle ~ Haruki Murakami
Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil: A Savannah Story ~ John Berendt
Wizard’s First Rule ~ Terry Goodkind
Snow Falling on Cedars ~ David Guterson
Walk Two Moons ~ Sharon Creech
The Alienist ~ Caleb Carr
Insomnia ~ Stephen King
The Chamber ~ John Grisham
Lord of Chaos ~ Robert Jordan

1994 Top Fashion and Trends:
(Google)
One-strap overalls
Spandex bike shorts
Crop tops
Vintage dresses
Wonderbra
Babydoll dresses
Micro miniskirts
Chokers
Thigh-highs
Denim vests
White tees under sundresses
Fluevog shoes
Boyfriend jeans
Silk pajamas
“The Rachel” haircut
Bra top
Mood rings
Neon windbreakers
Skechers
Combat boots
Unbuttoned shirts over graphic tees
Turtlenecks
FUBU
Hush Puppies
Bleached blonde hair
Bucket hats
JanSport backpacks
Cargo pants

1994 World Population:
(worldometers.info)
5,653,315,893 and counting…

1994 World Leaders:
(Wikipedia)
Bill Clinton, President of the United States
Warren Christopher, United States Secretary of State
Jean Chrétien, Prime Minister of Canada
Jiang Zemin, President of China
Akihito, Emperor of Japan
Roman Herzog, President of Germany
Boris Yeltsin, President of Russia
John Major, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Pope John Paul II of Vatican City
François Mitterrand, President of France
Shankar Dayal Sharma, President of India
Ezer Weizman, President of Israel
Boutros Boutros-Ghali, Secretary-General of the United Nations

1994 Major Events and Headlines:
(Wikipedia)
January 6 – In Detroit, Nancy Kerrigan is clubbed on the right leg by an assailant, under orders from figure skating rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband.
January 14 – U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin sign the Kremlin accords, which stop the preprogrammed aiming of nuclear missiles toward each country’s targets, and also provide for the dismantling of the nuclear arsenal in Ukraine.
January 21 – Lorena Bobbitt is found not guilty by reason of insanity on charges of mutilating her husband John.
January 25 – U.S. President Bill Clinton delivers his first State of the Union address, calling for health care reform, a ban on assault weapons, and welfare reform.
February 1 – In Portland, Oregon, Tonya Harding’s ex-husband Jeff Gillooly pleads guilty for his role in attacking figure skater Nancy Kerrigan. He accepts a plea bargain, admitting to racketeering charges in exchange for testimony against Harding.
February 12 – Edvard Munch’s painting “The Scream” is stolen in Oslo (it is recovered on May 7).
February 12 – The 1994 Winter Olympics begin in Lillehammer.
March 16 – In Portland, Oregon, Tonya Harding pleads guilty to conspiracy to hinder prosecution for trying to cover-up an attack on figure skating rival Nancy Kerrigan. She is fined $100,000 and banned from the sport.
April 19 – A Los Angeles jury awards $3.8 million to Rodney King for violation of his civil rights.
April 22 – Richard Nixon dies in New York City, nearly 20 years after he resigned in 1974. His funeral is the first funeral of a U.S. President since the death of Lyndon B. Johnson in 1973.
May 10 – Nelson Mandela is inaugurated as South Africa’s first black president.
June 12 – Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Lyle Goldman are murdered outside the Simpson home in Los Angeles. O. J. Simpson is later acquitted of the killings, but is held liable in a civil suit.
June 14 – The New York Rangers win the Stanley Cup, in 7 games over the Vancouver Canucks. It was New York’s first Stanley Cup since 1940. Riots erupt in Vancouver in response to the victory causing $1.1 million Canadian dollars in damage.
June 17 – NFL star O. J. Simpson and his friend Al Cowlings flee from police in his white Ford Bronco. The low-speed chase ends at Simpson’s Brentwood, Los Angeles mansion, where he surrenders.
July 17 – Brazil wins the 1994 FIFA World Cup, defeating Italy by 3-2 in penalties (full-time 0–0).
August 12 – The 1994-95 Major League Baseball strike is called, ending the 1994 MLB Season.
September 17 – Heather Whitestone becomes the first hearing impaired contestant to win the Miss America entitlement. Whitestone becomes Miss America 1995.
November 5 – George Foreman wins the WBA and IBF World Heavyweight Championships by KO’ing Michael Moorer becoming the oldest heavyweight champion in history.

1994 Pop Culture:
(Wikipedia, mrpopculture.com)
January – John Lennon, Elton John, Duane Eddy, Grateful Dead, and The Animals are inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
January – Chevy Chase said he was stunned that he was dropped from his Fox talk show after just 5 1/2 weeks.
February 1 – Punk rock band Green Day releases their album Dookie, which will eventually sell over 20 million copies worldwide.
March – Charles Kuralt announces he is leaving CBS after 37 years.
March – Howard Stern announces his plans to run for governor of New York, offering a platform that includes passing the death penalty, getting road crews to work only at night, and staggering highway tolls to prevent traffic jams.
March 1 – Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” wins Record of the Year at the 36th Annual Grammy Awards.
March 15 – “Schindler’s List” wins Best Picture at the Academy Awards.
March 21 – The 66th Academy Awards, hosted by Whoopi Goldberg, are held at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion in Los Angeles. Steven Spielberg’s Holocaust drama, Schindler’s List, wins 7 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director (Spielberg).
April 8 – Kurt Cobain, songwriter and front man for the band Nirvana, is found dead at his Lake Washington home of an apparent self-inflicted shotgun wound to the head.
June 15 – The Lion King, the highest grossing hand-drawn animated feature, is released by Walt Disney Pictures.
August 12 – Woodstock ’94 begins in Saugerties, New York. It is the 25-year anniversary of Woodstock in 1969.
October – “The Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” tops all ratings lists for kids’ TV.

1994 Top Science Breakthroughs:
(Wikipedia)
January 8 – Soyuz TM-18: Valeri Polyakov begins his 437.7 day orbit, eventually setting the world record for days spent in orbit.
April 20 – The People’s Republic of China joins the Internet.
May 6 – The Channel Tunnel, which took 15,000 workers over 7 years to complete, opens between England and France, enabling passengers to travel between the two countries in 35 minutes.
May 10 – An annular eclipse of the Sun is visible across much of North America.
September 10 – Wollemia nobilis (the ‘Wollemi Pine’), previously known only from fossils, is discovered living in remote rainforest gorges in the Wollemi National Park of New South Wales by canyoner David Noble, 150 km from Australia’s largest city.

Hybrid Homeschooling Pros and Cons

Hybrid Homeschooling Pros and Cons

Hybrid homeschooling has been an amazing alternative for my son and has made all the difference in his educational growth and experience. As we get near the end of our first year of hybrid homeschooling, I wanted to share what we have learned. I’ll share a bit of the struggle that got us to this point and move onto the pros and cons. Hopefully our experience will give you some insight into this schooling option!

Public School Start
Homeschooling started to appeal to me a couple of years ago when my oldest son, Declan, was in second grade at a public school. I saw his natural curiosity and love of learning change into resistance, stress, anger, and tears. He started to fight me everyday before school, and after school he had serious meltdowns. Determined not to create a special ‘snowflake’ mentality in him I chalked it up to normal kid stuff, or maybe even bullying at school. His teacher said he got along well with others and had many friends in class. Declan confirmed that he was not being bullied. So I volunteered in his classroom thinking it would give me better insight, but it didn’t. I was frustrated.

As our daily struggle continued I started to question our path with traditional education. The one-size-fits-all way of teaching may work for some, or many, but it wasn’t working for Declan. School-option posts that crossed my Facebook and Pinterest news feeds now gained my attention. The information in those posts inspired me! They also intimidated me. Homeschooling felt too huge of a responsibility, so I pushed the idea aside.

The Decision to Homeschool
During his third grade year, Declan went from testing ‘well above average’ to ‘below average’ in subjects I knew he excels at. His meltdowns and overall demeanor were getting worse too. When I could almost label him as being depressed I knew something had to change. He had been a generally happy kid and still was during school breaks. Was he getting bored in school because he was advanced? Was he not understanding how they are teaching? Is he just being lazy? Does he have a learning disability? Kids at this age don’t really get depressed, do they? Moody maybe, but depressed? I was searching for answers.

With conversations with his teacher and school staff, my own research, and Declan finally opening up about his struggles at school, it was concluded that he was getting bored in subjects he excelled at and stressed when they moved too quickly through lessons he needed more time on. He was in a perpetual cycle of boredom and stress at school. Depression was a side effect of the stress interfering with sleep quality, eating habits, and his overall outlook on learning and life.

After much debate and hesitation, my husband and I started to research and pursue local homeschool options for the next school year. I was definitely intimidated, I doubted my teaching ability and patience level to homeschool my own child. With my introverted nature I often admired a teacher’s ability to instruct a bunch of kids all day and the continuous effort it takes to keep them on task. Honestly, being an elementary school teacher seems utterly exhausting. But, the fear of my child slipping through public-school cracks and ending up desolate later in life kept flashing before my eyes. A little dramatic? Probably. But, I felt like I had little choice other than to think outside the box with his education experience. We figured we could try homeschooling for a year and see how it goes. If we failed miserably we would put him back in the traditional classroom setting with hopefully little damage done.

Homeschool Options
We are in Northern Colorado, and our school system has a few options for parents who are looking to customize their child’s learning curriculum. You will have to look and see what your school district, or nearby districts, offer homeschool families. Through my own research I noticed that some state’s school systems are starting to offer more resources and options to homeschool families, while other states seem to keep homeschool completely separate from the public system. Some prefer it that way! I am happy with the integration we have here.

Our school district offers traditional public schools, charter and private schools, co-ops, montessori, waldorf, a hybrid school, and homeschool ‘options’ classes. Homeschoolers can participate in ‘options’ classes, in an on-campus classroom setting, various days of the week. The hybrid school appealed to me the most. This ‘hybrid’ school is a combination of online classes done at home on MWF and on-campus classes TTh. I liked this option because I would have guidance with a curriculum, peer interaction for Declan, parent support from the get-go, and it felt like it would ease us into homeschooling. The hybrid school in our district is still part of the public school system and receives state funding, so there is no tuition and the curriculum is free. The online curriculum is through k12.com which our school district pays for. Disclosure: I am not affiliated with k12.com.

Our First Year Of Hybrid Homeschooling
Before school started, other parents from Declan’s school were already reaching out to us! I was very grateful to have support already in place before school started. This parent support helped ease my fears and gain confidence in my ability to do this new way of schooling. They told me the first couple weeks would be overwhelming but that it gets easier the more we get the hang of k12.com‘s software and scheduling.

Homeschool first day. What to expect.
Our first day of hybrid homeschool.

They were right! Our first day started good, but by the end of the day it was a disaster. We were both in tears. Even though k12.com‘s website is fairly intuitive and easy to navigate, we just weren’t familiar with it yet. Fear of getting it wrong ruled our first week, but with guidance and after a month of getting comfortable with the online curriculum and on-campus classes, we began to relax a bit. We have learned a lot this year! Here are some of the awesome, and not-so-awesome, things about hybrid homeschooling.

Hybrid Homeschooling Pros and Cons

Pros:

Growth!-  Not only has Declan grown this past year, but so have I. We have both developed confidence by navigating teaching and learning together. He learns best when topics turn into conversations and he can see how the lesson relates to real life. We aren’t perfect, there are still bad days, but when I can peak his curiosity about the subject at hand, it is magic! I love to see his eyes light up when it clicks. Even though I don’t require Declan to be a straight-A student, I am proud to say that he has been for most of this year!

Individual Attention- At home, Declan gets one-on-one help from me but he also receives a lot of individual attention on campus. The 4th and 5th graders are in one classroom with their teacher and an assistant. The are 19 kids total in the classroom. The 4th graders can work with the 5th graders if they reach their level. The 5th graders also help the younger ones when they need extra help. They learn about collaboration and healthy competition.

 

What homeschool really looks like.
What homeschool really looks like.

Curriculum Flexibility Declan is now able to work at his own pace and it has made a big difference! He works fast through subjects he excels at, and areas he struggles with he spends more time on and I can give the help he needs, most of the time. If I am stumped we look up resources online to help us out.

At the beginning of the year, we went through a lot of the lessons together but now he knows what to expect so he does a lot of his lessons independently. It is common for kids in his class to advance to the next grade level depending on subject and be at various grade levels. Example: Declan may be at his own grade level in math but can advance to the next grade level in reading. There are kids that have advanced more than one grade level in certain subjects. Many of the high school students are graduating with college credits or associates degrees. They can also complete their classes ahead of schedule for an early summer break!

 

Homeschool curriculum progress. Staying on track.
Hybrid homeschool progress on k12.com.

Time Flexibility We set our homeschool days in block format because he seems to do better with focusing on one subject for longer periods instead of jumping all around. K12.com allows you to set up your own schedule and shows you what pace you need to work at to complete the curriculum by the end of the year. Mondays he works through a week’s worth of History lessons. Wednesdays it’s Literature and Vocabulary. Fridays are Math. On-campus days they do Science, Math, Language Arts, Art, Music, and P.E. Declan is currently on track to complete this year’s curriculum a little early. We have taken advantage of this flexibility and done extra-curricular activities with the kids on some school days. Flexibility also makes it less stressful when one of the kids is sick.

 

Homeschool weekly schedule. Block Schedule on k12.com
Hybrid homeschool weekly schedule. We set up a block schedule. TTh are on campus. K12.com 4th grade online curriculum.

 

Free Evenings and Weekends Evenings and weekends are now more about free time instead of homework. Occasionally, when a lesson that takes him longer his other work will be pushed into the evenings or weekends but for the most part all school work is completed during the weekdays.

Socialization and Peer Interaction Being in the classroom on Tuesdays and Thursdays with other kids offers Declan a setting where he can build friendships and collaborate with others in a group setting. Him and a friend have started to work toward broadcasting a YouTube gaming channel. It is fun to watch their problem solving skills take form throughout the process.

Life skills- We incorporate life skills into Declan’s weekly routine. Mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health are important for a well-balanced life. We incorporate meditation as a tool to help deal with thoughts, emotions, and foster introspection. I mix in books and shows that will spark conversations about life and the deeper stuff. Getting outside, sports, adventure, and free play are also something we encourage daily. Cooking, cleaning, taking care of the dog and his little brother, for short periods of time, develop a sense of responsibility and contribution. We show him how to earn his wants and budget his money. Our goal is for him to have the tools to create a meaningful life.

 

Homeschool physical education
Homeschool physical education. We headed to the slopes when Declan got ahead on his k12.com curriculum.

Guidance and Support Being new to homeschooling this year I am very thankful I chose the hybrid option. I think if I tried to do it all on my own I would have failed miserably. The guidance, support, and insight from school staff and other hybrid homeschool parents was necessary for me to gain the confidence I needed to teach my child. Many of the parent’s had also been full-time, independent homeschoolers and gave me insight to that option as well.

Me Time Tuesdays and Thursdays are for me. My youngest, Cash, goes to preschool on the days Declan is on campus. These are my scheduled work days to blog or build my wood chests. Occasionally, I get the chance to have lunch with a friend or treat myself to a pedicure!

Cons:

Curriculum Content– I am generally happy with k12.com but, some of the activities within the lessons seem like busy work. It is a common complaint with the parents at our school, but we do have the option to skip some of those activities if the lesson objectives were met. If Declan got the point of the lesson without having to do the activity then we mark it complete. I can decide if the activity is beneficial. At times, I have to look to outside resources to gain his interest with a lesson subject. History lessons in k12 are mostly text and pictures, some video. Pretty dry really. So we get creative and look for videos, story books, and conversation to bring it alive.

Government Standards I understand, now, that whatever homeschool option you choose you will still have to operate within state regulations. Many of the curriculum options out there have to meet regulatory requirements. Homeschoolers have to log a certain amount of hours per subject, per week. Curriculum objectives have to be met. Attendance and progress has to be kept track of. Our hybrid homeschool program even does state testing. I’m not sure if all homeschoolers are required to do state testing. You will have to check your state regulations.

Little Ones One of my biggest challenges is keeping my preschooler busy and not bothering Declan while he is working through school lessons. Especially when I am helping with a lesson. Legos, puzzles, books, the iPad have helped temporarily. It remains my biggest struggle.

 

Homeschooling with little ones
Tupperware fun while Declan and I work through school lessons.

Focus- Another struggle is keeping Declan focused. Some days he does great! Other days it feels like pulling teeth! A rewards system helps. We incorporate meditation and frequent breaks too.

Energy Drain- I need time by myself to recharge and be my best. It’s just how I am made. With my boys only at school two days a week, finding time to recharge is a luxury. I do my best during their in-school days and also at night after everyone’s in bed. We also hire a babysitter at least once a month!

Special Snowflake Syndrome- Even though we have worked to customize Declan’s learning experience I have tried to make a point not to create the ‘special snowflake syndrome’ in him. Life and people will not cater to him and I will not protect him from challenges. That is reality, and he has to be able to thrive within the larger system and contribute to society. He is required to help around the house.

Labels and Judgement As a hybrid homeschooler we may not fit into the typical homeschool definition and we don’t fit the public school box. I have heard judgements from all sides. My answer is: We are all just doing our best with what is best for us! This works for us, and I support whatever works for you!

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These Videos Inspired Our Decision to Homeschool!
Hackschooling Makes Me Happy | Logan LaPlante
RSA Animate: Changing Education Paradigms
Do Schools Kill Creativity | Sir Ken Robinson

Homeschool Resources:
Homeschool.com
1+1+1=1 Homeschool Blogger
K12.com
The Pioneer Woman

Books We Integrate:
Rules for A Knight – Ethan Hawke
I Survived Series

Note: I will be adding to this list occasionally as we come across other great resources!