Our Favorite File Folder Games!

I am a total file folder game junkie. My kids adore them. They are learning while having fun playing games. Does it get any better than that?? I think not!

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There are a lot of free resources out there for file folder game printables and downloads. It’s hard sometimes to sort through them all and find the ones that are actually worth printing! I decided to compile a list of my kid-tested, mom-approved favorites. Oh, and did I mention FREE? Gotta love it! Enjoy!

Pre-K and Kindergarten File Folder Games

Elementary File Folder Games:

The Myth of Supermom

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I have a dilemma.

You see, I like things to be perfect. I like a healthy, homemade dinner on the table at the same time each night. I like a clean, clutter-free home. I like laundry that is promptly folded, hung, and put away as soon as it comes out of the dryer – never left lying around in piles, or sitting in the laundry basket for days on end. I like immaculate floors, counter tops and toilets. I like everything clean, organized, and in its proper place at all times.

The problem? I have a husband and four kids who couldn’t care less about any of those things. My house is rarely (if ever) spotlessly clean. At any given time you will probably find crumbs on the floor, dishes piled high in the sink, laundry piles waiting to be sorted, toys scattered throughout the house, sticky little fingerprints on the windows, and beds that haven’t been made in, well, I don’t even know how long. I work from morning till night trying to keep up with it all, but I can’t seem to keep up. I like the idea of perfection, but in reality I can never manage to achieve it.

Therein lies my dilemma. I stress out about this constantly. I spend way too much time concerned about the way my home and family appear to others. Why can’t I seem to have it all together the way that [insert name of a friend who appears completely put together] does? Why can’t I be a Supermom??

Why? Because Supermom doesn’t exist. She is a lie, perpetuated by a culture that is obsessed with appearances. I will never be able to be Supermom, and that’s OKAY! What I need to do instead is constantly and purposefully remind myself that it does not matter what other women do, or appear to do, and it doesn’t matter what others think. All that matters is that I give my family the attention they need. The other stuff will always be there, but my children will not be children forever. Life is not a competition, and I can be content without doing it all.

So, when I feel the anxiety of Supermom Syndrome starting to take over, my mantra will be this:

Supermom is a myth. She doesn’t exist.
Supermom is a myth. She doesn’t exist.
Supermom is a myth! She doesn’t exist!

Mr. Matt Walsh Delivers Again!

Have I ever expressed just how much I love Matt Walsh? This guy speaks truth in the most refreshing way. He’s witty, intelligent, sarcastic, but also dead-on every single time. Here’s a snippet from his most recent blog post entitled “Your life is over when you have kids”:

“It’s not my life. It’s hers, it’s his, it’s theirs, it’s ours. Ultimately, it’s His, and He has given it to them. So my life — MY life — is over.

“This is true. This is beautiful. This is why parenting is a high calling.

“And this is exactly why our society hates children.

“No matter what anyone else says, THIS is why we’re experiencing historically low birth rates. It’s got nothing to do with an economic crisis, and everything to do with a selfishness crisis. This is why we dehumanize children, kill them, exterminate them. This is why we have less of them, and why we call birth control a “preventative medication.” It’s why couples who choose (note: I said CHOOSE) not to have kids will often refer to themselves as ‘child-free’ — much like a recovering patient might call himself cancer-free.

“We run around putting ‘my’ in front of things that cannot be ours. It’s MY time, MY life, MY body. And then we conceive a child and we simply can not let go of the “MY.” Barney and Mr. Rogers failed in their mission to teach us about sharing. We kill a million babies a year just because we don’t want to share.”

Does this guy get it, or what?! Check out his whole blog post here. Read more of his blog, while you’re there! I promise, he does not disappoint! I’m telling you, every time I read something he writes, I feel the sudden overwhelming desire to give the man a standing ovation.

Matt, thanks for speaking the truth. Keep up the good fight!

The Luxurious Life of a Stay-at-Home Mom

I frequently get the comment that it must be nice to have the luxury of staying home with my children. I will always smile and say, “Yes, I am very thankful!” and move along. Yes, it’s true, I am thankful, but to be honest I am walking away from the person silently laughing and rolling my eyes. The luxury of staying home? Seriously?? Either these people have never had children that they spend any amount of time interacting with, or it has been too long since their children were young and they have simply forgotten what life with young children is actually like.

Allow me to paint you a picture. Imagine rolling out of bed in the morning after a particularly long and sleepless night. It’s 5:30 and the baby is crying (again), so you go to comfort her. Within minutes, the 7 year old wakes up and loudly bounds out of her room, practically singing “Good morning, Mommy!” (She’s a morning person. Something is very wrong with her.) Her loudly expressed happiness at greeting the new day then wakes the 2 year old who cries for Daddy, but she cannot have Daddy because Daddy is getting ready for work. So, there you are trying to nurse the baby while your 2 year old cries like she just lost her best friend in the world. (Did I mention it’s 5:30 in the morning?) Inevitable, all that ruckus wakes the 3 year old, who is now crying too and wanting to be picked up, but your lap is currently occupied, which leads to even more hysterics from the 3 year old.

Eventually, you get everyone happy with the help of Bubble Guppies and attempt to head downstairs for a cup of coffee when the baby sees you tiptoeing away and begins to holler. So, you make the pot of coffee with the baby on your hip and can’t help but chuckle at the cliche. Before you can even get one sip of the energy-giving nectar, the 2 and 3 year old begin fighting upstairs. You listen for a little while, waiting to see if they will be able to settle the squabble amongst themselves. Then comes the dreaded THUD immediately followed by crying. You fly upstairs and find one child lying flat on the floor, and the other one standing defiantly above her with a baby doll in her arms, and you can only assume that is the item that was the source of all the fighting. The crying one gets up, yanks the doll out of her sister’s arms, which leads to more screaming, and then in an instant they are rolling around on the floor in a full-blown cat fight. You get them separated, discipline, etc. Finally, you remember your cup of coffee, which is now cold. You stick it in the microwave to warm it up, and before it finishes nuking you have another minor catastrophe to contend with. Then the 3 year old announces that she has to go potty, so you take her and find that she has pooped in her underwear. Too bad she pulled her underwear off and climbed on the potty before you could clean her up, so now that’s another lovely mess to clean up.

You get everyone happy, clean, and then head downstairs where everyone is fed breakfast (except you, of course) and then look at the clock and realize it’s time to start school with the 7 year old. And then you remember that cup of coffee. You press the quick start button on the microwave and walk the 7 year old to the school room with the intention of grabbing the coffee as soon as the microwave beeps. You get the oldest situated with her lessons for the day, then head back to the kitchen to pull the baby out of the highchair, only to discover that she has somehow managed to climb out of it herself, and is now sitting in the middle of the table finger painting with her oatmeal, as well as with the bowls of oatmeal that her sisters apparently refused to eat. It’s everywhere. In her hair, all over her clothes, covering the highchair and table, and even some on the walls behind her. (How did she manage to make that big of a mess in, like, 3 minutes??) Guess that coffee will have to wait a little longer. Off to the bath with the baby! And of course, the 2 and 3 year old want to join, so here we are having our evening bath routine at 8 in the morning. Being the young children they are, they make a huge mess, spilling tub water all over the bathroom floor, which you then clean up with towels when they are all done. (Hey, that counts as mopping, right?) You then remember that you still have an oatmeal mess to clean up, so you head down to do that after distracting the kids with Bubble Guppies yet again. (Yes, I am *that* mom.) Once you get downstairs, you hear the oldest in the schoolroom crying. Apparently she had a question about her lesson and you never heard her calling for you while you were bathing the younger 3, so she’s now in the middle of a nuclear meltdown. You get her calm, help her, and then head out to the kitchen to clean up the mess. Then remember your coffee sitting in the microwave. But, before you can even heat it up someone is crying again, so off you go to put out another fire. And another. And another.

Finally, you get everyone down for a nap at 11, finish up lessons with the 7 year old and send her off to play, and sit down to enjoy your cup of coffee and have a quick bite to eat. But the peace is short-lived as the baby decides to cut her nap short. Here we go again.

This is, unfortunately, a true story. This was my day 2 days ago, and is a perfect example of what my life is like every. single. day. Yes, I am thankful to be home with my girls, and yes, this was a choice we made, but please don’t think it’s easy or luxurious. I get pooped on, peed on on, thrown up on, and covered in my kids’ food. I rarely get to enjoy wearing stain-free clothes all day long. Getting a shower two days in a row is so rare, I almost feel guilty when it happens. And using the bathroom in peace? I’ve just given up entirely on that dream. I clean up messes that take hoarders years to achieve that my kids manage to make in 10 minutes flat. I work from morning till night, and then I’m on-call all night, too. It’s not a glamorous job, make no mistake. Is it rewarding? Heck yeah. But it’s also the hardest, most exhausting job I have ever done.

I get so frustrated with the careless comments stay-at-home moms get from others. I’m sure people are mostly well-meaning, but I also think there’s a pervasive mentality behind those works that speaks of our culture’s attitude toward stay-at-home moms. As a SAHM I am told to tiptoe around the feelings of working moms, lest I say something that might offend them or demean what they do. But, yet people can throw out callous, hurtful remarks about me being “just” a SAHM or assume that my life must be luxurious, as though I am sitting on the couch all day watching soap operas while my children somehow stay perpetually happy and care for themselves and never, ever make messes. Look, we ALL are parents, and we ALL work hard, regardless of where we work. I’m not going to belittle moms who work, so please don’t belittle us moms who stay home, because we work too. Let’s just focus on uplifting one another, and try to choose our words a little more carefully, okay? This world would be such a better place to live if we could all simply support and encourage instead of tearing down.

10 Reasons I Could Never Homeschool My Kids

“If I can do it, anybody can!”

That’s a catchphrase that’s used a lot nowadays, to the point where no one really believes it anymore. But, trust me when I say that if there was ever a time when it was true, it’s here! Without a drop of irony or sarcasm, I can honestly say that if I can homeschool my kids, anybody can. Seriously. Don’t believe me? Well, here’s a handy little list for you of just a few of my many shortcomings. These are all popular reasons not to homeschool, and every one of these is 100% applicable to me.

  1. I am by nature extremely lazy and unmotivated.
  2. I have a bad temper, and I butt heads with my kids all the time.
  3. I lack the ability to create and stick with a clearly defined schedule; I much prefer to wing it.
  4. I’m embarrassingly disorganized.
  5. I’m too busy! I have 4 kids under 7, and a husband, and a house to clean, and the same responsibilities as every other parent! May days are maxed out.
  6. I’m painfully forgetful.
  7. I am the Queen of Procrastination.
  8. I’m not the smartest person in the world. I have a pretty firm grasp of language and history, but I’m really, really bad at math.
  9. I lack any qualifications to teach. I graduated high school, and when my oldest was a baby I graduated from a technical school as a Certified Medical Assistant, but I never attended college or earned a degree.
  10. We can’t afford it. With a family of 6 in this economy, it’s very difficult to find extra money to invest in a good curriculum.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. None of these attributes make for a very successful homeschooler, am I right? And yet somehow, despite my (numerous) shortcomings, I have been able to do this for 4 years now! Let me share a bit of my story with you.

I remember very clearly the day I was first convicted to homeschool. My oldest child was about 18 months old at the time. A story came on the news about a local school district where junior highers had been caught performing sexual acts on one another on the school bus, on the way to school.

Junior highers. On the school bus. Right out in the open.

I knew right then and there that I would *never* put my child into a public school where such acts were happening – not if I had any say in the matter. I have continued to become more and more deeply convicted about the need to homeschool, for more reasons than just that. The Lord is always reminding me of what an important task he has given me.

My oldest was 3 when I started homeschooling her, and we loved doing preschool together! It was fun, and very easy! We had some Pre-K workbooks that we did, but mostly we played a lot, went to the library, read books, made crafts, and went on many exploring adventures. I didn’t know it at the time, but it wasn’t really “real” yet, and I had no clue what I was getting myself into! A few days before my oldest turned 4, I gave birth to my second child. Then 3 months later, I surprisingly became pregnant again. So there I was, trying to teach my 4 year old with a new baby to care for, and another baby in the belly! Oh, and did I mention that I was also running a business from home? Yeah. To say I was overwhelmed would be a gross understatement. There were days when we wouldn’t do any lessons or go anywhere at all because I was too sick from morning sickness, too exhausted from chasing kids all day and keeping up with customer orders, or just plain too cranky to fight with my kid over doing her lessons! What I kept telling myself was that this was just practice, and we didn’t have to have an official schedule until she was 6. We still had time. That became my mantra! In hindsight I realize that what I really needed at that time was support and encouragement, but I found very little of that in those around me. Mostly, family and friends told me repeatedly that I couldn’t do it, and it felt like I was being discouraged at every turn. I felt very alone.

I had my third child, and 9 months later, conceived again. As time passed I became less overwhelmed by life and kids and I decided to step back from my business and put my family first. However, I still didn’t really feel like I knew what I was doing with regard to homeschooling, and my daughter’s 6th birthday was rapidly approaching – the time when I knew it was going to have to be official. I had very little understanding of the homeschool laws, and I had absolutely no idea which formal curriculum to use. They all seemed good to me! How did one go about choosing? At that time I had a couple of friends who homeschooled, but they did so “under the radar” (meaning they weren’t in compliance with state laws), so they weren’t really a source of guidance for me. I was determined to make sure I was within the laws, crossing every t and dotting every i. After some research, I found a local “Homeschooling 101” seminar and signed up to go with my husband. How glad I was that we did that! The classes really helped break down the laws into understandable terms, and they outlined in depth how to go about getting started. It gave me the knowledge and confidence boost I needed to get started.

Newly equipped with a better understanding, I set about deciding on a curriculum. I have since made some changes here and there to switch to curricula that are better suited to my child’s style of learning, but it was a great starting point. I have learned a lot in the last 4 years, and I am happy to share these some of what I have learned with you!

  • Pray. Lean on the Lord. Trust Him. And pray some more. When God calls us, he WILL provide what we need to accomplish the calling. It’s okay to be scared, but trust Him!
  • There’s no one “right” way to do it. Every parent is different, and every child is different. One child may be auditory, while another is more tactile. Cater your teaching to your child’s style, not to what the public schools are doing, or even to what other homeschoolers are doing!
  • Give yourself some grace. There are always going to be rough days when we’re parents, even for non-homeschoolers. It’s okay to have crappy days, or crappy weeks, or crappy months. It doesn’t mean you’re failing; it just means you’re human, and so is your child!
  • No one knows your child as well as you, and no one is better equipped to teach her. Having a teaching credential is not a requirement for homeschooling! Just keep reminding yourself that you’ve been teaching that precious child from the moment she entered the world! Teaching her to read is no different than teaching her to walk, or tie her shoes.
  • Find a source of support and encouragement. There are going to be naysayers, and they might even be the people you most want to support you (like family members, or your best friend). It’s easier said than done, but ignore them. You CAN do it, and it will help you immensely to find someone who believes in you to encourage you when you need uplifting.
  • If you’re struggling financially, there are still ways to make homeschooling happen. There are free curricula out there, such as Easy Peasy and K12. Many public school districts will provide you with material for free if you agree to teach your child their chosen curriculum.
  • Practice makes perfect. Okay, maybe not perfect, but practice will make your better, anyway! Just like anything, you get better at it as you go along. You’ll learn how to schedule and organize your day, and how to make everything you need to do fit into your day.
  • Learn to let some things go. Giving your child the education he deserves may mean sacrificing having the perfectly spotless home you desire, but that’s okay! Investing in your child’s future is WAY more important than having a shiny kitchen sink and perfect vacuum lines in the carpet.

If you’re considering homeschooling but sitting on the fence about it still, I hope that these words will encourage you. Please comment with any thoughts, questions, concerns, or prayer requests. I would love to pray for you, and likewise, I ask that you pray for me as I continue to homeschool! I still struggle sometimes, and I need the Lord’s grace every single day! May God bless you on your wonderful, home-educating adventure!

The “Real” World

My heart is so heavy. All I hear in the news anymore is talk about war, military strikes, and governments who can’t agree with other governments – or even their own people, for that matter. Everywhere I look I see unhappiness, strife, and struggle.

This morning, I got to thinking. Why is it that we are in such a hurry to grow our children up? People talk about the importance of exposing children to the “real” world to prepare them for it. But, why? When I look into the eyes of my children, I see pure innocence. They are so happy and care-free. They run and play, free from the burdens that we, their parents, must struggle with on a daily basis. To them, the world is still magical and wonderful. They dress up and pretend to be grown ups. To them, the idea of growing up still holds so much potential. They believe that can do anything and be anything they want.

On the anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, my second grader asked me what happened on that day 12 years before. I weighed heavily what I would say. I finally decided to keep it brief. I simply said, “Well, sweet heart, some very mean people did some very bad things that day, and as a result many, many people lost their lives. It was a very sad day.” She expressed her concern for the people who were harmed, and we were able to talk about the importance of having a relationship with Jesus so we can be assured of our place in heaven, because we never know when we may die. I also encouraged her to pray for the “mean” people (all the “mean” people in the world who harm others, not just one group). And she went on with her happy, curious, sweet little life.

Later, I found myself wondering if perhaps I should have told her more. Was I watering down the truth? Should I have enlightened her about religions and extremists who promote the harming of those who disagree? Should I warn her that there are people who would like to see our family dead because of our religious values? Does she need to know that the “real” world is full of adults who make war with one another while preaching love and tolerance? I think I answered my own questions. There is absolutely no reason why she needs to be awakened to those things at such a young age. The time will come all too soon when the reality of the “real” world becomes known to my children; why force it? Why not let them live in a world of innocence, enchantment and adventure for as long as they can? The purity of innocence is such precious gift, and is taken from our children far too soon. Let’s do all we can to preserve it for them.