DIY Items for Little Ones

Read, Write, Build: REPEAT “An Easy Number Activity for Toddlers”

The Florida Morehouse family had an exciting and eventful weekend! Little Johnny saw Sesame Street Live, which was the best experience we have had with him yet! Big John had many classes going on over at our gym (Glory Martial Arts) and I was even able to sneak in a fun DIY project that I will share on my #diyfriday post!

So with the busy weekend behind us, we’re ready to tackle the week ahead! I have decided to share with you all a fun, easy, and engaging activity that our 1 year old has really enjoyed!

“It takes a big heart (and A LOT of PATIENCE) to teach little minds”. This statement cannot be any more true, don’t you think?! Did you know that as a parent you are your child’s first teacher? We tend to get caught in the norm that teaching is done in a classroom and at a specific age, which is definitely not true! We can find teaching moments throughout everyday life, especially when we have little ones running around us!

“Don’t underestimate the power of little minds. Toddlers will surprise you when given the opportunity to showcase their learning capabilities”

Recently I have noticed how Little Johnny has been so interested in numbers, especially with counting. He loves all the songs that have to do with counting…you know the ones (5 little monkeys is a big hit!) His little “counting” finger goes up in the air as he points it out and tries his hardest to keep to the beat. It made me think that I should probably start some type of counting activity that we can “try” to incorporate everyday into our routine.

Here’s the thing about toddlers…they love anything that is repetitive! But seriously, why?! As a parent I tend to get bored with the same things over, and over, and over again…although, there is so much good behind those “repetitive behaviors” Below is a great article explaining the reasoning behind why toddlers crave repetition and adults love variety.  It really helped me to understand that repetition is okay and I just need to “get over myself” with always wanting variety. 🙂

Why Toddlers LOVE Repetition

I had to actually stop myself from overwhelming my little guy because I’m totally guilty of using Pinterest and I pin so many cute activities, but then I have to remember he’s only 1 years old! So, while these activities may seem fun, I always have to ask myself “Will this overwhelm him?” I’m trying my hardest as I teach my little guy to remember this simple statement. “Less is MORE”, especially when teaching basic concepts.

So, I decided to revert to my old teaching days and incorporate the concept READ, WRITE, BUILD using simple tools such as flash cards, white board, and Legos. We try to do this everyday (although some days get the best of us). I keep the supplies away in a bin with easy pull out drawers so I don’t have to “hunt down” for the supplies. Plus, it gives met he opportunity to have another bin in the house, I’m a tad obsessed with all things related to bins, containers, and baskets…it’s a serious problem! haha

**NOTE: The key words here are “easy” & “REPEAT”! 🙂

READ, WRITE, BUILD: REPEAT

“An Easy Number Activity for Toddlers”

 


I started off slow introducing this concept to him, but as we continued it each day Little Johnny started to anticipate what came next and I am now able to provide less help so that way he can become more independent with it. This activity also teaches little ones “one-t0-one” correspondence meaning that the numbers actually have a value! Example: 1=1 dot 2=2 dots 3=3 dots… and so on. As he gets a bit older I will introduce the number zero, as it’s a difficult concept to understand that it actually means “nothing”.

The key here is to “build upon” learning the numbers. I started at the very beginning only teaching the number “1” until I saw that he was starting to understand the concept. Then I added on number “2” and so on… We are currently ready to move onto number “4”. Here’s what I look for:

  • with some support can trace the number on the flash card using his finger
  • independently point to the items as we count
  • independently recite the numbers (Johnny needs a little more support with this, but I can see he is definitely trying)
  • with support write the numbers on the white board (hand over hand approach)
  • with support build the numbers using Legos (This concept will move onto a more independent approach as he progresses and it is one of the hardest concepts, which is why teaching them as toddlers is beneficial.)

{Supplies}

1. Flash cards with numbers and corresponding numbered objects

  • I bought mine at Target in the Dollar Section, but I found some similar on amazon. Here’s the link! —> number flash cards

2. White board & dry erase marker

  • You can purchase one or make it out of a picture frame from the Dollar Tree! I added the color construction paper as the “background” because we’re currently working on the color green and I can switch it out depending on what color we are learning about. Also, I like that it has edges on the side to prevent those little hands from drawing all over the table. It acts as a “bumper” for them.

3. Legos

  • blocks will work too, or really any type of toy you can build with!

{Activity} 

READ


First, start with reading the number by saying the name and counting the objects. These were the best pictures I could get of us in action! 🙂 I do use my hand at times to help guide him.

WRITE


Next, use “hand-over-hand” approach and help your toddler write the number with the corresponding dots. Little Johnny loves to draw on the dry erase board, so I give him time to “practice” writing it himself. Then we say “bye bye (and state number)” which he then erases it with a paint brush. Did you know that will do the trick with acting as an eraser for a dry erase board? We didn’t either and just found that out! haha 🙂

BUILD


Last, use Legos and have the flash cards laid out to “build” the numbers. There is a lot of support given here!

Repeat this process with each number along with trying to incorporate it each day and your little one will soon start learning their numbers in a fun way!

**NOTE- Make sure you are in control of the supplies. I like putting them off to the side and bringing them out one by one so that way he is not distracted.

What are other counting activities you have tried at home with your toddler or preschooler?

P.S. We have an easy shape activity, letter activity, and color activity that I may be sharing in a future post!

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

 

Family Adventures, Motherhood

10 Ways to $ave Money & Contribute to Finances as a Stay -At- Home- Mom

What a title, huh?! Finances have never been my strong suit, but I’m learning that in order for me to stay at home I better crack down on our spending habits and be smart about how we can save money. Before I dive into my list let’s talk about the 4th of July weekend festivities! Sunday afternoon was a beach day for the Florida Morehouse Family. We arrived at the beach around 3:30 (Cherie Down Park is one of our favorite spots in Cocoa Beach!) and didn’t get home until 11:30pm! That’s probably the latest Little Johnny has ever stayed out, and boy was he a party animal! We decided to venture over to Cape Canaveral’s Harbor to see the firework display.

Okay, let’s talk $avings now!

The decision to stay at home and cut back to one income these days is extremely rare and a very difficult decision to make. On those circumstances though, you have to make sacrifices and realize where in your monthly expenses you can cut back. While being a stay at home mom I have moments where I feel helpless because I’m not “contributing” financially, but now that I look at it I really am doing a whole lot to help out with our finances. I have learned that here are other ways to help out with saving/ contributing to the everyday finances. Making a list always helps to visualize exactly how that’s happening, so here’s the list!

10 Ways to $ave Money & Contribute to Finances

as a Stay-At-Home-Mom


1.Cut Cable Completely – We have been using hulu for a while now, and quite honestly all the shows that we watch are on there. I have no complaints. We have a very busy schedule and sometimes we don’t even have time to watch tv…so why waste money, right?!

2. Home Cooked Meals- While we love to eat out (the convenience is so nice, isn’t it?) we just don’t have room in our budget to do so. When cooking meals at home it saves us so much money! I try to plan out our weekly menu with a variety of foods that we would like to order in restaurants. (I get a lot of my inspiration from other blogs as well!) I even made homemade tortilla chips one day and they were so easy & delicious! It can be something small as well, like making your own brewed sweet tea and drinking it out of a Mason Jar! It’s the little added touches that make the experience at home fun! 😉

3.Shopping at Aldi- I would love to get into couponing someday, but man that seems like so much work and dedication! I applaud all those who are true couponers! Way to go! My way of saving on groceries is by shopping at Aldi. We save so much here and they range in a variety of foods, plus they also have an organic selection and some name brand items. Before I go I try to always meal plan and use the most recent flyer as a guide. It’s definitely a process, but it saves a ton of money along with writing out my meals for the week.

4.Driving Less- We try not to venture too far during the week, and occasionally we’ll drive out to the beach on the weekends, but that’s about it. We have a park close by that we can walk to and other close things nearby as well (I am so thankful for the location we are in.) I have learned to adapt to hobbies at home such as cooking, reading, art projects with Little Johnny, and just enjoying our home.

5. DIYing- This one is fun for me! While some DIY projects can be expensive, not all of them are. DIY projects range in all sorts of categories from sewing your own clothes to family pictures and home decor projects. (I also include food in this topic as well.) Whatever it is that you would love to go out and purchase, try creating it yourself first. It doesn’t have to be anything huge either. We don’t own a home, but I know that home repairs are always the cheapest way to go for most projects. (YouTube is a great friend for that!) It may take more time, but the amount you’ll save is worth it.

6. Consignment Store Shopping- We have bought most of Little Johnny’s clothes (and toys) at Once Upon A Child. Their clothes are at a really great price, but the best part is the quality is amazing! I have bought so many clothes (name brand too) that still have the price tag on them. The best part is we actually get compliments from others about a certain outfit that looks cute on Little Johnny.

7. Clothes Shopping is put to a STOP- While I seriously love to shop for clothes, it’s been almost one year since I purchased any new clothes item for myself and Big John. Of course when we do need something we’ll go out and buy it, but for now our clothes are still in good shape and I’m finding things in the back of my closet I can fit into that I couldn’t wear after having a baby (although we’re mostly in our gym clothes anyways with running a Martial Arts gym).

8. Barter System- We’re going back to the olden days where this is what women use to do. “I’ll give you something in return for something I need”. Whether it’s helping out in doing a babysitting swap or a switch out of toys, this is a great approach to save money. If you want to take it a step further, managing a blog can be a great bartering tool for entertainment and children activities that you would like to be involved with.

9. At Home Date Nights- While it’s nice to go out and get away from the house, but when you factor in the cost of a babysitter, plus the expense of entertainment for the night…it adds up quick! We have yet to try this one  as our schedules are so busy, but I would love to set up a date night in our house as it’s so important to stay connected and have one-on-one time in a marriage, even when schedules are busy! It can be simply just making a favorite meal together and watching a movie with your favorite treats. If you want to really take it to the next level, here is a post I found on some unique “At Home Date Night Ideas“. (Now, the trick is convincing your husband to do some of these! 😉 ) You can also do “at home happy hours with friends!” how fun, right?! Remember it’s all about the ambience!

10. Develop a “Turn it off” Rule-This one seems like a no brainer, but there have been so many times in the past where I just leave lights on when no one is in the room. Now I’m becoming more conscious and trying to turn all electricity off (including fans) when no one is using them. These are just small ways to cut back on the utility bills. If you want to know more easy money saving tips on utilities, click here.

 

**Bonus**

Freelance Work- Finding something that can bring in a little extra money can be a huge help! Even if it’s just paying one bill. Recently I have been working for VIP Kid and with the amount of classes I teach I am almost at my monthly goal with being able to pay our rent! (So far I have also helped 2 other moms to reach their goals of earning money while staying at home too! I find so much joy from that!) There are many types of small jobs you can do from home, although the tricky part is finding one that fits your schedule along with something that isn’t sketchy…

Other Resources


Recently I have been looking into the Dave Ramsey system, have you hear of him? He’s the one that guides millions (maybe billions, I’ll have to check into that) of people to become “debt free”. He has a talk show that I have been listening to and I was skeptical at first about becoming debt free on one incomebut I have heard so many positive stories, and it can be done! This is a goal of ours that I have now come to terms that we can start working on, even with living on one income. We will work on the baby steps of becoming “debt free” so that one day we can live a less stressful life where we are not tied down to “bils”. It won’t happen over night, and that’s something I think I had to come to terms with…we need to just “buckle down” and realize that with time and determination, it can happen.

One thing that helps to keep track of finances and not indulge in over spending is keeping track of your budget. I’ll be honest, we have never been the best at this, but you have to start somewhere, right?! There are so many different apps and ways to go about this and I have recently found everydollar budget system that we really like (I actually found it on the Dave Ramsey website). Right now we really don’t have any wiggle room, which is why it’s so important to constantly keep track of our spending. We have never been really good with sticking to our budget, but now we’ve come to terms and are maturing with our financial decisions.

Right now we are living a frugal and simple life (although don’t get me wrong we still have very stressful days). It’s been a long and difficult road, but I’m finally learning to show gratitude and contentment in where we are (even if we’re not the richest folks on the block). Learning to be happy with what we have now and not always want more is helping to provide us with a simplier lifestyle (even during one of the hardest times of our life, and man was that a difficult lesson to learn).

The reality is this is a different type of lifestyle and with all things it takes time to change your spending habits over the years. Focusing on one thing at a time and evolving into multiple tactics have helped us to stay on track, basically getting into a routine of things. Focus is key, and also wanting it to work,  because if you’re not all in it’s very difficult to stay on track.

“The less you need, the happier you’ll be. Less is always more.”

Not everyday is easy, it takes a lot of self- control to stick to these tactics, but it’s well worth it. What are some ways that your family has been saving money?

Wishing you well,

~Amanda

Motherhood

The “BUZZ” About VIP Kid (How I’m making money with a very rewarding job while staying home.)

If you’ve been following me for a while you’ll know that I just recently went through the process of applying to become an ESL teacher with VIP Kid. Let me just say, it truly is a blessing that this job came into my life.

These past couple months I have been in a dilemma… I knew I had to start finding some type of way to supplement our income. I was quite honestly stressing about how I could contribute to our income while still being home with Little Johnny.

I know if it came down to it I could always go back to teaching in the classroom (which may happen soon), but I wanted to try out other options first. In the near future we want to extend our family and I would love to find a job that allows me to stay home with them as well. I’m just planning ahead.

>>>Click here <<<to start your journey with VIP Kid!

Image result for vipkid

How did I hear about this job?

So, about a month ago my mom was visiting us. We were sitting outside while discussing LIFE. She knew that I was overwhelmed by searching for “at home” jobs. I knew I couldn’t be picky, but I worked so hard for my education that I wanted to find a balance between staying at home with Little Johnny and also having a rewarding & fulfilling job.

Even at 28 years old, I needed my mom at that time. I needed her guidance and a “second eye” to help me search & try to find solutions. While sitting outside on our computer, we were on the “job hunt”. My mom came across the VIP Kid position, so I applied right then and there to start my journey with teaching English to children in Beijing. Amazing the things technology can bring us to, right?! 

The result…I LOVE this job! The honest truth…the application was easy to apply for, but the process was a different story, which I’ll share further down. The best advice I can give you is don’t let fear or the amount of work it takes get in the way of you applying. 

Would I recommend this job to others? YES! Even though it took a while to finally get my first booking from the time I applied and was hired (about 2-3 weeks), it was well worth it! Time & Persistence is the key…

There has been many  questions from followers and friends about the process, so I thought it was a perfect opportunity for me to answer them here!

Process for Getting Hired 


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Before even applying these are the must haves:

  • Bachelor’s degree or higher (does not have to be in the field of education)
  • U.S. Citizen
  • 1 year experience working with children (classroom, day care, in-home child care, before & after school programs, tutoring…)

{STEPS}

  1. First follow this link by using my>>> referal code<<< to apply (it’s a very simple application).
  2. Once you’ve applied you’ll receive an email stating that you’ve been accepted to sign up for a demo class (first interview) where you’ll teach a 10 minute lesson to an adult in Beijing (they’ll act as a 5 year old student who doesn’t know any English). PRACTICE is KEY!
  3. You’ll recieve an email shortly after stating if you have been accepted to move onto MOCK 1, which is another interview. This time you’ll teach  for 25 minutes (a full lesson) to a proctor (an actual VIP Kid teacher who has advanced to become a proctor).
  4. If you do VERY WELL on your MOCK 1, then you don’t have to move onto MOCK 2. But don’t fret if you have to complete MOCK 2…many people have had to (including me). If you move onto MOCK 2 you’ll get an email to setup your last and final interview.
  5. Once you pass all interviews, then you’re in! (not bad, right?!) 😉 Then you upload a few documents, pictures, and a short intro video of yourself. Once that has been reviewed and submtted you can start scheduling your bookings!

I know it seems like so much work, but in the end it will pay off! 

Pros


  • you work from home
  • able to use your previous teaching skills
  • you can set your own schedule
  • very rewarding job
  • work with children one-on-one
  • curriculum is provided
  • short classes (25 minutes each)
  • many incentives included where you can make extra money
  • many deductions can be calculated for your taxes
  • still get paid for student “no shows”

Cons 

(There’s always “cons” in every situation, so I’m just laying it out for you! 🙂


  • the “working” hours can be early in the morning or late at night (or if you’re feeling up to it, an all nighter)
  • sometimes bookings are inconsistent (you don’t always get booked for the slots you open up)
  • students may cancel last minute, or tech problems
  • payments may differ based on how many bookings you had for the month
  • you’re hired as an independent contractor, so no taxes are taken out…which means make sure to save a percentage of your earnings so that way when tax season comes you’re not scrambling to come up with the money. (I believe they say between 20-30% of each paycheck, but don’t quote me on that.)

$$Pay$$


  • This varies, but typically it’s within the range of what I am currently getting paid…
    • $7.50 per class (25 minutes each) So I look at it as $15 an hour (that just sounds better to me, haha!)
    • There are so many incentives they offer as well! For example when someone else uses your referral code and gets hired you get a dollar amount (usually an extra $50 each referral, but depends on their monthly incentive program).
  • Paycheck are completed as a direct deposit on the 15th of each month

Week 1 & 2…


So, how is it actually going for me? I love it! So far my highest week of bookings has been on my second week with working for VIP Kid- 18 bookings (or classes)! This is a huge increase from week 1, so I’m very excited about it! I have chosen to work early mornings 4am-5:30am or late nights 9pm-12am. My highest bookings take place on the weekends.

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Here’s the big question many mamas ask me who are interested in this job. “Where is Little Johnny (my 18 month old son) while you teach?

Well, I plan my schedule around when Little Johnny is sleeping or when Big John is home. We live in a small apartment, so I was worried about Little Johnny waking up, but so far it has worked out. I have white noise on for him, which helps to drown out the noise of me teaching. As for the students hearing other things in my house, I just found out that you can get “noise canceling” headphones for that! Problem solved!

I’m ecstatic that I can still use my teaching skills while being at home with Little Johnny. I have so much fun with this job too! My husband today even stated when he heard me teaching this morning…”That sounded like a fun lesson!” 🙂

Supportive Facebook Groups


Ahhh, the lovely facebook for a great resource, who would have known?! Below I linked a few of my favorite ones that have (and still do) help me when I have questions.

VIPKID Moms

VIPKID Newbie Support 

VIPKID Videos & Props

Don’t stress about the process, I believe this is your opportunity that you were waiting for and it just takes a little bit of work to get there. Start your new journey with VIP Kid!

My goal for the income that I earn is to pay our rent, so I am hoping to book at least 32 classes a week , which I know I can get there soon! This is a great way to earn extra income to pay off debt, put towards a trip,  pay bills, or simply just for fun money.

So, what are you waiting for? Give it a try, seriously what do you have to lose?

If you have any questions feel free to email me using my contact info.

Psst…Quick Update! After working for 3 months! Here’s my most recent paycheck pictured below! I work 9pm-12am and average about 18-20 hours a week. I’m still loving this job! 

Wishing you well,

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Life Challenges, Motherhood

New Month, New Schedule

I don’t know what it is about flipping a calendar to a fresh new month, but I love it! (I know I’m weird, but I get so much satisfaction from it, I truly can’t be the only one!) Since being a stay at home mom the one thing I knew I would struggle with is the “staying home part”. Like I mentioned in a previous post I’m a very busy mama bee. I like to keep going and have a full week’s schedule. Although, I have come to realize I need to slow down a bit and take a day or two off and not constantly be on the go. This week’s challenge has to do with developing a weekly routine schedule for you and your little one, as well as incorporating other activities and games at home into your little ones schedule.  Continue reading “New Month, New Schedule”