Monday, July 20, 2015

Alpha Omega Publications One-Day Sale! Save 20% + Free Shipping!

Alpha Omega One-Day 20% Off + Free Shipping Sale

Alpha Omega Publications
is having a sale! Woot woot!

20% off all orders + free shipping (on orders over $50). As I understand it, Alpha Omega generally only does a 20% off sale during the month of April, so this is kind of a big deal. :)

To get to the sale, click here.USE PROMO / COUPON CODE: 2020. Valid July 20 only.

So what is Alpha Omega Publications? For those of you who are unfamiliar, Alpha Omega publishes several different homeschool curriculum with names you might be familiar with, such as:

  • Horizons - Math, Reading, Phonics, Penmanship/Handwriting, Spelling, Vocabulary, Preschool, Health, and Physical Education 
  • Switched-On Schoolhouse 
  • Lifepac - Bible, History and Geography, Science, Language Arts, and Math 
  • Weaver 
  • Monarch (Note: the coupon code does not apply to Monarch monthly plans)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Free Printable Goal-Setting Worksheets and Progress Charts

These Goal-Setting Worksheets and Progress Charts are a follow-up to my previous post, A New Kind of Resolution--How to Make New Years Resolutions and Goals That Stick.

All of these printables are completely editable once you download them, so if you need to tweak them here and there for your own personal use, you can do so.

{Note: These worksheets and charts are for personal use only. You may link to this post, but please do not link to the worksheets/charts directly or upload them to your own site/blog. Thanks!}

The Goal-Setting Printables: (it may be helpful to read my previous post on successful goal-setting before printing and filling these out)

1. The Goal-Setting Worksheet. This worksheet will help you take your general goals and make them more concrete. This worksheet is not specific to 2014 and can be used at any time. If you would like to set goals for a different time-frame than a year, simply edit your worksheet to read "6 months" instead of "year" (or whatever time-frame you prefer). You can download the Goal-Setting Worksheet here. If you would like an example of what goal-setting looks like, you can view my personal completed goal-setting worksheet here.

2. The Monthly Breakdown Worksheet. This worksheet helps you take your concrete goals from The Goal-Setting Worksheet and break it down into each month. You can download the 2014 Goals Monthly Breakdown Worksheet here. If you would like an example, you can view my personal completed monthly breakdown here. These worksheets are specific to the year 2014. If you are not starting in January or it is no longer 2014, you can download a generic one here.

3. The Weekly Progress Chart. The weekly progress chart is designed to help you chart your progress from week to week. Simply print off the chart each week and fill in your goals for that week. (You can find your goals for each month on your Monthly Breakdown Worksheet above.) Then, simply check off each goal as you complete it for the week. If you would like to keep track of your total for the year, you can put numbers in each column instead of a checkmark. For example, if your goal is to declutter your house, you can put the number of minutes spent decluttering, which will allow you to calculate a grand total at the end of the week/month/year. You can download the Weekly Progress Chart here. This chart is not specific to 2014. (For some reason, Google Drive keeps putting this chart in landscape mode, and I have not been able to get it to go to portrait. To fix this, when you download the chart simply switch it to portrait mode before printing. Sorry for the inconvenience!)

4. The Weekly Progress Chart --Version 2. The second version of The Weekly Progress Chart is specific to 2014, and it will automatically calculate any numbers you put in. If it is no longer 2014 and you would still like the calculated version, you are welcome to edit this one for personal use to suit your needs. Things to note: This spreadsheet has 53 "tabs" along the bottom, one for each week. Week 1 is on the main page, while each succeeding week is on its respective tab. Because January 1st was on a Wednesday, Weeks 1 and 53 are half weeks. Keep this in mind when determining whether or not you met your goals for those weeks. Once a week is over, simply transfer your 2014 totals to the next week's "Total from the previous week" to get an accurate updated grand total. (Note: just like the 1st version, Google Drive keeps insisting on putting this file in landscape mode. To fix this, simply put it in portrait once downloaded and save it before printing or using. Sorry about that!) You can find The Weekly Progress Chart--Version 2 here.

If you have any trouble downloading any of the free printables, please let me know in the comments below and I will do what I can to fix the problem. Thanks!

I hope that these printables and my tips from the previous post help you to successfully make some positive changes in your life this year. What sort of goals and resolutions are you making this year? 

A New Kind of Resolution -- How to Make a New Years Resolution (or Any Time Resolution) & Goals That Stick

It's that time of year again. Resolution time. When we are suddenly motivated to make some positive changes in our lives. To improve ourselves in one way or another (or several). We buy those organizing bins, sign up for that gym membership, and resolve to pray for no less than an hour a day. "We can do this," is our chant. Before March comes, however, life has set in, and our organizing plans have been forgotten. Our gym membership goes unused (even though we continue to pay the monthly fee, just in case we should decide to feel motivated). Our prayer life, in our failure to pray for an entire hour every day, has been completely abandoned.

There has got to be a better way.

There is a better way, actually.

How to Make a New Years Resolution (or Any Time Resolution) That Sticks:
  1. Start small. The key to success is to set yourself up for success. You can do this by starting small. Most resolutions are all or none. They are too extreme, too fast, and, once we realize we can't live up to our own unrealistic expectations, we abandon the plan altogether. Is your plan to lose weight? Start small. Maybe, starting in January, you can start exercising for 10 minutes 3 times a week and drink 16 oz. of water a day. That is setting yourself up for success. Or, say you currently eat chips 7 days a week. Starting in January, you can limit yourself to eating chips to 5 days a week. These are small lifestyle changes that set you up for success.
  2. Gradually add to your goal, month by month. By the time January is finished, you should have established a fairly good routine of exercising for 10 minutes 3 times a week and drinking 16 oz. of water a day (or whatever your small goal was). In February you can increase your goal a bit. For example, bump up your exercise to 15 minutes 3 times a week and 24 oz. of water a day, along with at least one fruit or vegetable a day. Again, you want to set yourself up for success, so for each month, set your goals in attainable increments. (Download my Monthly Breakdown Worksheet to help you with this step.)
  3. Bring your new habits alongside old ones. You have habits and routines already established into your day. Whenever possible, try to bring your new habits alongside your old ones to integrate them more naturally. For example, when I eat pizza, I crave pop. There is something about eating pizza delivery that makes me want to have a soda. So I started buying carbonated flavored water (with sucralose, not aspartame as a sweetener). Now when I eat pizza, I drink one of these instead of a pop, and my craving is satisfied. I am still drinking a flavored carbonated beverage, so switching out this habit was seamless. Another example: When I wake up in the morning, I like to hang out in my bed for a while. I do my Jesus Calling devotional, check my e-mail, etc. So, as part of my 2014 resolutions, I kept this tendency as part of my routine. I give myself time to lay in my bed. This will be the easiest place to incorporate my prayer and Bible goals, because it will become part of a habit I have already established.
  4. Make your general goals concrete. General goals are difficult to achieve because they do not have a built-in plan. "Organize my house" is vague and much less likely to succeed than "Spend 10 minutes 4 times a week decluttering/organizing." For every general goal you have, turn it into a concrete plan. (My Goal-Setting Worksheet can you help you with this step.)
  5. Plan for busy months. If there are times of the year that you know are busier than others, you should reflect that in your monthly goal planning. For example, I work full-time in the summer, and full-time at this job sometimes means 100+ hours a week. Because of this, my goals for June and July are tiny. I have coined these "grace months." Again, I want to set myself up for success. In August I will be a stay-at-home mom again. So my August goals will revert back to what they were in May. I have not added or increased any goals for that month because I want to re-establish my routine first. 
  6. Track your progress. I have downloadable Weekly Progress Charts that can help you track your progress. This step is important because it provides both a visual reminder and helps you track your success. Success motivates us to continue on. 
  7. Consider having an accountability partner. You may consider asking a friend if they are willing to discuss your progress and keep you accountable. If your accountability partner is also doing a chart, even better. A friend and I will both be doing these charts, and we have agreed to be accountable to each other. Knowing that someone is going to ask you how you're doing can be good motivation to stay on track. 
  8. Give yourself grace. These resolutions are not "all or none" like typical resolutions are. So remember to give yourself grace. One of my goals is to start waking up earlier. Today, I slept in, so technically, according to traditional resolution thinking, I have already failed. Should I abandon my plan to create a habit of getting up earlier? Of course not. Remember that the direction you are going, and the progress you are making, however small, is more important than completing your chart to perfection. We are imperfect beings. Perfection is not possible. But, by setting ourselves up for success, we can achieve our goals and make positive changes in our life. (With it being the day after New Years Eve, I was never planning on getting up early today, but it still works nicely as an example.)
You can access all the free printable goal-setting worksheets and progress charts in my next post.

What has been your experience with New Years resolutions? 

Friday, December 13, 2013

8 Confessions of a Blogging, Homeschooling Mom - A Look Behind the Curtain

It's confession time. Time to peel back the curtain and show the not-so-picture perfect side of the life of this blogging/homeschooling mama. Because for some reason there are a lot of women out there who are convinced that women who blog automatically somehow have it more together than they do. This is simply not true. And here's proof.

Confession #1: I am a terrible housekeeper.  I am pretty good at doing the dishes every day, and I vacuum regularly. And I try to clean the main bathroom on a regular basis. My kids keep their stuff picked up thanks to these cleaning charts. But my house is still a mess most of the time. Why? One word. Clutter. A lot of it. I have piles (and boxes) of "stuff" everywhere. When people come over, I "clean" up clutter by throwing it all into a box, lost forever. The irony? Most of my cabinets and closets are organized to the letter. When it comes to cleaning, I am all or none. And when it comes to all these piles, sometimes I don't even know where to start. I hope that someday I am able to conquer my clutter problem because, frankly, sometimes it's embarrassing. And I really would like to know where certain things are that currently can't be found. And it is a lot easier to relax in a clean room. And maybe I could invite people over more often. So I hope that someday I can say I finally have a clean house. That day, however, is not today, and, as of right now, clutter is still a major problem for me.

(So thankful for my patient and understanding husband, who very rarely complains about this problem of mine!)

Confession #2: I sleep in later than I should.  I am very blessed in that my kids are very self-sufficient in the mornings. They can get their own cereal and/or yogurt and entertain themselves until I get up. I am very lucky, I know. The flip side of this? Getting up early is difficult. Because it's just a little too easy to turn off the alarm, roll over, and sleep for just a little bit longer. Or a lot longer. But I don't get nearly as much done and am not nearly as effective when I choose to stay in bed instead of get up on time.

Confession #3: I stay up later than I should.  When I don't go to bed at a decent time, I sabotage myself to repeat #2. Or if I do get up early the next morning, I am cranky because I am sleep-deprived. My crankiness does not set a good example for my children. Or make for a joyful, productive homeschooling day. (I was tempted to schedule this post to automatically publish in the morning sometime so you wouldn't know how late I am staying up tonight. While it doesn't look like I will be finishing this post tonight after all, for the sake of transparency I will tell you it is currently almost 2 am. Case in point...)

Confession #4: I spend too much time online. This includes e-mail and social media such as facebook and pinterest. Again, I am all or none, so periodically I can go through periods where I rarely check social media at all. But, when I get the "itch" again, I spend way more time online than I should. There is definitely an addictive component to the internet in general and especially social media that can be hard to resist. And sometimes I don't do a very good job of resisting.

Confession #5: I am a chronic procrastinator. It is December 12, and we still haven't put up our tree. This is partly related to Confession #1. The area where the Christmas stuff is is cluttered, and getting to the tree and the ornaments/decorations will require some work. Really, if I'm being truthful, procrastination is probably the cause of my clutter problem! I was once told by a friend in high school: "Most people wait until the last minute. You wait until the last second!" Not good. And it does not produce good or satisfying results. 

Notice the partially painted wall in the photo below (aside from all the "stuff" covering the kitchen table)? It has been like that for a good 2 years. 

Confession #6: I don't spend enough time in the Word. I have been following a one-year Bible plan for over three and a half years now. And I am not even halfway done. At best, I spend time in the Word occasionally. I am better at reading my Jesus Calling devotional. Which is great. But it's not the Word of God. I need God's Word to renew my mind and feed my spirit. And, yet, so many times, I just don't read it like I should. Because I don't feel like it. Because I just don't make it a priority. This one hurts worse than the others. But there it is. The truth. 

Confession #7: A lot of times, I don't spend enough time in prayer. Just like #6, I don't consistently and intentionally spend time in prayer on a regular basis. Sometimes I do, but I am more consistent in allowing my love and my fire to grow cold than I am at soaking Him in. And sometimes, when I tell someone I will pray for them, I don't. Not on purpose. I just somehow forget to. Or I just say a quick prayer and then move on to the next thing on my agenda... or the next status on facebook. This is not how spiritual battles are won. I know this. And yet, so many times, I just don't do it. I understand Paul when he said, "For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do--this I keep on doing" (Romans 7: 19 - NIV). I understand what he is saying in this verse, because he's describing me

So there you have it. 8 confessions of a real-life, blogging, homeschooling, pile-making, sleeping-in mama. Now the truth is out: this blogger ain't perfect. There was a part of me that really wanted to clean up those areas of my house just a little before taking those photos. Make it look a little neater. A little more put together. But I didn't. This is it, in the raw. There's no going back after this, and I wouldn't want to. I'd rather be real than perfect. Because only He can make us perfect. On my own, I am anything but. 

And you know what? It's ok. Because His mercies are new every morning. Will I ever paint my kitchen wall? Maybe. Will I ever get my clutter under control? Perhaps. But perhaps not. If nothing else about my confession list changes, I pray for consistency in my walk with Him. Because I can't live this life without Him. Because I can't lead my children to Him if I'm not being led myself. Because I can't do ministry with a painted wall. Am I going to work on my weaknesses? Of course. But in His strength. Because anything else is doomed to fail. Any goals I set for myself apart from Him, will carry a weight that will eventually crush me. Am I perfect? Not even close. And, yet, He loves me. He is for me. He died for me. In all my imperfections. In all my weaknesses. And having a love like that is worth giving Him all. Because He gave all for me. 

So if you find yourself thinking that other moms have it more together than you, don't. Remember that you have something that those other moms might not have: hope. While you are looking at them wondering what they have that you don't, they are looking at you wondering the same thing

For when I am weak, then I am strong. 
--2 Corinthians 12:10

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 
--2 Corinthians 12:9a

Do you have any confessions you'd like to share? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below. Remember, you are not alone in your weaknesses and struggles.

As a follow-up, I will be posting soon about "Living in the Measure of Your Own Grace." I pray that it blesses you.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Free Printable Kids Cleaning/Chore Charts {That You Can Edit!}

Remember my Free, Printable Morning and Bedtime Routine Charts {That You Can Edit}?

Well, now I have free, printable cleaning/chore charts, too! Because, again, no two households are alike, these are also editable.

These cleaning charts help keep the toys/clothes/etc. picked up around the house.

For each room, my kids understand the charts to mean that they are to clean their stuff out of those rooms. so, when it says, "Clean living room," they know that it means they are to pick up everything of theirs in that room, not that they are to clean/dust/vacuum the room itself. 

I use the morning charts before homeschooling, and these cleaning charts afterwards. My kids know that before they can do something fun, their cleaning chart must be done first. This helps provide motivation for them to clean quickly! These charts work great at our house. 

Each chart is available in 5 colors: pink, blue, purple, green, and a generic gray. The colors are editable also.
Just like the morning/bedtime charts, you will need to download these cleaning charts to your computer and then open in Microsoft Word or comparable program if you want to edit them. 

If you have any trouble downloading, editing, or just have general comments, please let me know in the comments below. Otherwise, enjoy!

{Note: These charts are for personal use only. You may link to this post, but please do not link to the charts directly or upload them to your own site/blog. Thanks!}

You can download the cleaning/chore charts here.

{If you have an older version of Microsoft Word or otherwise have trouble downloading the above version, try the Word 97-2003 compatible version here.}

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Excellent, Money-Saving Deals at Target: Stouffer's Frozen Meals/Lasagna, Degree Men's Deodorant, Axe Body Spray

Excellent deals right now at Target! But some of these expire TODAY, so you will have to hurry!

{Full disclosure, while I (unfortunately for me!) am not an affiliate for Target or Cartwheel, this post DOES contain other affiliate links.}

Deal #1: Stouffer's frozen meals. Go to Target.com to print off a coupon for $1 off a 57 oz Stouffer's family-size frozen meal. (There is a coupon search box on the top right. Search "Stouffer's" and it should come up easily. Once you print it, try to print it again if you need multiple and it will let you print it up to its limit. I think the limit might be 2, but I can't remember for sure.) 

I don't think there are any manufacturer's coupon for this size of Stouffer's right now, but if you happen to have one, you can "stack" it on top of the store coupon for even more savings.

ON TOP of the coupon(s), GET A WHOPPING 30% OFF all Stouffer's frozen meals at Target with the Cartwheel app. (You can read more about Cartwheel and how it works here.)  

Use Your Target Red Debit Card for an EXTRA 5% off. What a deal!

THIS STOUFFER'S DEAL EXPIRES TOMORROW (10/27), so hurry and grab it!


Deal #2: Degree Deodorant and Axe Body Spray. Target is having a great deal on these right now. Buy any combination of 3 select Degree Deodorants, Axe Deodorants, or Axe Body Sprays, and receive a $5 Target Gift Card! 

The best deal out of this: 

1. Sign up for My Points: 
Shop online, earn gift cards!

2. Once you're logged into My Points, hover over the Tab "Deals" and click on "Grocery Coupons." Print off the coupon "Save $1.00 on any 1 Degree Men Dry Protection Antiperspirant or Fresh Deodorant." Go back and print again so that you have 2. 

{Note: You get points for every coupon you print off and redeem from My Points. Points can be used to get FREE gift cards. I have gotten some really great free stuff off of this program, including but not limited to: My sewing machine, office chair, and portable canvas closet. Amazing, right?! I will be writing more about My Points in a separate post. If you would rather not join but still want to save, you can go to coupons.com directly and bypass My Points.}

3. At Target, get 2 twin packs of Degree men's deodorant. 

4. Pick a 3rd item eligible for Target's $5 gift card deal. I chose Axe body spray because my husband uses it, but you could opt for another Degree deodorant or even an Axe one.

5. At checkout, use your 2 printed off manufacturer's coupons for $2 off total. (When I did this, I actually had a $3.00 off 2 twin packs coupon, but I can't seem to find where I got it from. If you have it, by all means, use that one!)

6. If you have any applicable Target coupons, use those as well. (I happened to have a store $1 off coupon that printed the last time I was there.)

7. Use Cartwheel for an additional 5% off the Degree deodorants. (The Cartwheel deal expires on Nov. 2)

8. Use your Target Debit Card for 5% MORE off.

If you do it right, the deal should play out something like this:

(2) Degree twin packs - $3.99 each = $7.98
(1) Axe body spray - $3.99

Subtotal = $11.97 for 4 deodorants and one body spray

(2) $1 off manufacturer coupons = ($2) off
5% off Degree deodorant with Cartwheel = ($0.30) off
5% off with Target Debit Card = ($0.48) off

New subtotal = $9.19

Then they give you a $5 Target gift card back, which makes a total (without tax) of $4.19 for 4 men's deodorants and 1 body spray! 
If you happen to have the $3 manufacturer coupon I mentioned earlier, the total goes down even more, and if you have a Target coupon to stack, watch out! I was very blessed to have it all and only paid $2.38 (sans tax). Amazing!

I apologize that I do not remember when this particular Target deal expires, but I do know that there are still several days left, and that it may even possibly run into November. 

Deal # 3: Dove Shampoo/Conditioner. 

To get the best deal out of this requires a manufacturer's coupon from the Sunday paper. This coupon expires today, so if you have it, hurry and grab this amazing deal before it's over! If you don't have the coupon or it's too late, don't worry. You can still follow the rest of this and get shampoo for a good, if not great, deal.

If you have the coupon it should play out something like this:

(1) 12 oz. Dove shampoo or conditioner for $2.99

(1) $1.50 off manufacturer's coupon = ($1.50) off
5% off Dove hair products with Cartwheel = ($0.07) off
5% off with Target Debit Card = ($0.07) off

Subtotal = $1.35 (without tax)

While this is already a great deal, it gets even better! You can get an additional $1.00 back with ibotta, making your shampoo (or conditioner) only $0.35! What a steal! 

How to Save Big Money at Target with the New Cartweel App

I am going to be creating a new, second blog about saving money and frugal living. I have yet to decide on a title, however, and designing a blog takes a lot of time, so it will be a while before it's up and running.

But I have deals to share that expire very soon so this is a problem! So I am going to write the posts here for now, and then when I create my new, thrifty blog I will move them over.

{Note: Very unfortunately for me, I am not an affliliate for Target or it's Cartwheel app, so this post does NOT contain any affiliate links.)

Have you heard of Target's new savings app yet? It's called Cartwheel, and it's awesome.

How it works:

  • Once you've downloaded the app, you can add offers on specific items to your "cartwheel."
  • Careful, because you have a limited number of "spots" that you can add offers to. You start with ten, but you can earn more.
  • Offers are usually given as a percent off, such as "5% off Dove hair care."
  • Offers can be used in conjunction with sales, store coupons, and manufacturer coupons, so it's like triple stacking on top of sales. Bring on the savings!
  • Redeem your offers by going to "My Cartwheel" when you're in the checkout lane. The Target clerk then scans your "My Cartwheel" barcode. Anything in your cartwheel that you bought automatically gets taken off your total. Nice, right?!
  • If you have a Target Red Debit Card, you get 5% off ON TOP of your sales, store coupons, manufacturer coupons, AND your cartwheel offers. Major savings stacking!
  • (I never promote credit cards, but did you know that Target has a Debit Card? It gives you 5% off in the store and online at Target.com. It also gives you free online shipping. Great way to save some extra cash! Something to note, though: it can take several extra days for purchases to show up in your bank account, so make sure you keep track of your Target purchases, especially if you do most of your banking online.)

Things to note about Cartwheel:
  • You have to have a facebook account to use Cartwheel. Logging in with facebook is the only way. 
  • The My Cartwheel scan has to be AFTER all paper coupons are applied. The system won't let you do it before.
  • If you prefer, you can also print off your cartwheel and the clerk can scan the paper copy. 

Excellent deals coming in the next post!