Thursday, January 31, 2013

Tips on how to make extra income while staying home with your sweeties

Making the decision to stay at home to care for your family does not have to mean that you will never earn an extra "dollar".  Yes, for most of us it usually means sacrifices and being very intentional about spending and saving, but it doesn't have to mean you can never help out financially and add to the household income.  I love staying at home (and I'm SO grateful for the opportunity to do so), but let's be honest here, I miss getting a pay check ; )

I am not reinventing the wheel here, it just requires a little thinking outside of the box.  Just because you have chosen (or are thinking of going in that direction) to avoid a 9-5er, doesn't mean you have to be the "penniless princess".  I just wanted to suggest some ideas that maybe some of my fellow stay-at-home moms haven't thought of.  Here are a few ideas that might spark an opportunity for you to earn some extra pocket cash:

1. De-clutter:
You know the saying, "one man's junk is another man's treasure".  Sell items that you don't want or need on Craigslist, eBay or have a good ole' fashion garage sale.  You would be amazed at what people may be looking for!  This is a great way to to down size, which means less time and energy spent on maintaining stuff.

2. Put your talents to work:
Do you have any special skills that could be earning you some extra cash?!

My undergraduate degree is in Spanish and I am bilingual.  Therefore, on occasion, I am able to translate documents for companies and organizations right from my own home.

Are you a cleaning or organizational fanatic?  Why not help someone who may be a bit domestically  challenged or who is short on time?  P.S. could you add me to your list ; ) ?!  Can you iron?  I know someone who pays a lady to iron their clothes.  Maybe you haven't used your cosmetology or salon talents in awhile.  Photography skills?  Wedding planner?  Video editor? Writer - maybe it's time to write that book/ebook ?!  Dog walker? Cat sitter? Cake decorator? Knitter? Seamstress?

Starting a small business is easier than you think...not to mention the flexibility and the write offs that come with it.

3. Learn a new skill and get paid for it: 
I have always enjoyed working out and going to the gym.  Several years ago, I had the realization that I could actually be getting paid to do this?!  I took a certification course in group fitness and began teaching classes (aerobics, spinning, cardio-kickboxing, etc).  I was paid to show up and work out (a good incentive to show up for class).  For an added benefit, we never had to pay for gym memberships because I was on staff.  Woo hoo! I look forward to starting this again soon!

4. Tutor:
Do you have above average ability or knowledge in an academic area? Are you a Math whiz? English major? I have had the opportunity over the years to do private and group Spanish tutoring and lessons.  This is a fun way to meet new people, earn some extra cash and help someone improve in an area in which they need a little help. Put your smarts to work and help a struggling student!

5. Put your artistic ability to work: 
Are you blessed in the arts?  Maybe you can sell your crafty work on Etsy or eBay?!  Have you thought about offering private or group music lessons?  Voice lessons?

6. Nanny or babysitting:
This is not limited to high school students.  Many working parents would like their children to be in a home environment (maybe someone they already know and has children) who can care for their children before and/or after school or during the day.  We have recently began doing this ourselves.  A friend of mine is working a few hours outside of the home each week, and her daughter comes to our house once a week.  My girls love the extra new face around and another "student" during our school time. It is working well for everyone involved.

7. Maximize your time online:
Maybe it's time you started that blog and shared your wisdom with others online?!  There are possibilities to earn money by having your own blog. You may have also read my posts about earning online "digital dollars" by searching through Swagbucks.  It really couldn't get any easier. (If you are new to this idea, read here.)

Let's also not forget about Ebates.  The place to go if you shop online.  Once again, I'm not telling you to spend money to earn money, but if you buy staple items (ink, diapers, photos, etc.) or do regular shopping online (birthdays, Christmas, clothing) then you could be earning rebates for doing just that.

8. Become a consultant:
There are so many businesses out there that you can become a consultant for.  Their specialty is helping you to help them, which helps you and them ; ) You know what I'm talking about.... Pampered Chef, Arbonne, Tastefully Simple, Premier Designs Jewelry, etc.  There are so many to choose from. I would suggest doing this not out of pure drive for extra money, but for your belief in a product.  If you are passionate about a product, why not promote it! I have seem many women become successful at these and have a blast doing it.

In summary, the opportunities and ideas are endless.  It just takes a little creative thinking and some passion to come up with ways to earn some extra cash while being home with your precious little ones.  I hope this has helped motivate you to use your gifts and talents to possibly help fill your family's piggy bank. 

Do you have any creative ideas for us stay at home/work from home mommies?  Please share! : )

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Our homeschool "schedule" (somewhat)

So, I am a newbie to this homeschool thing. Not so much to teaching, but the way different approach to school at home.  As I have mentioned, my oldest started Kindergarten this year.  I'm grateful and privileged to be her teacher ; )  We are having a blast (I hope she would say the same?!).  Her younger sister is doing Preschool at home and her second youngest sister is in "Tot School".  She likes that she has a title. ; )

When we started, I really wanted to adhere to a schedule.  I know homeschool is all about flexibility (curriculum, time, place, etc. ), but I want to make sure my kids learn to be disciplined and understand the importance of routine.  I also want to make sure that we respect our time of learning together and don't want to get into the habit of leaving for the day on every whim or allow myself to be interrupted all throughout the day. (That would be discipline on my part for sure!!!!)

Well, it was kind of stressful funny that I got so regimented. We started doing our group time at 10:00 every morning while the baby was taking her first nap.  It was a little less chaotic this way.  Over the past several weeks, many things have changed - as they consistently do with little ones.  The baby now only takes one nap in the afternoon.  I have also found that I can focus better when I have had time to get some chores done in the morning.  I feel more at ease when the house isn't quite as disastrous.  Therefore, we are now having afternoon "school".  I'm sure it will change again at some point soon?!

I also get bored very quickly with my surroundings.  I LOVE our room (you can see it here) that we have set apart for learning activities, but on occasion we have school all over the house, at my parent's house and outside.  All this said, I teeter between being a regimented freak to an overly laid back go with the flow gal.

Anyway, here's a glance at what our schedule somewhat looks like this year:

Group time
- songs (silly songs, Bible songs, Spanish songs, action songs)
- Pledge of Allegiance
- introduce the letter and number for the week/day, how to write them
- introduce the topic (i.e. all about penguins that go with the letter "P" for the week)
- Bible
- Spanish (click here to learn more of what we do with Spanish)

Desk work
- Elementary daily notebook (Kindergarten
- My Father's World activities (Kindergarten)
Preschool daily notebook  (Preschool)

I am trying to come up with a plan so that we remember to be intentional about focusing on other areas so maybe alternate days?!  (I would love some suggestions for this)

Specials/The Arts
- Spanish
- crafts (usually that go along with the lesson)
- music time with instruments (B. Parum Pum Pum Drum)
- physical education (gymnastics, bikes, yoga, mini trampoline,  plain old fun fun fun)
- cooking with mommy in the kitchen

In summary, I'm learning to take advantage of the beauty of the flexibility that comes with home educating.  I am trying to relax and continually reminding myself that they are learning all throughout the day - not only during the times I have "scheduled" for school.  I also have to remember that flexibility is one of the biggest reasons we chose to do this. We are not limited to place or time.  This quote below is a beautiful reminder for me!  Kids learn by simply playing!

I would reallllllly love to hear your views on schedules, routines and flexibility regarding homeschooling?!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Detours in life

"Even the most optimistic person on the planet may find her courage tested by the inevitable disappointments and tragedies of life."  - Hugs Daily Inspirations for Moms

Have you ever been there?  Most of us have. You think life is going one way...then BAM, it veers into another direction.  Maybe it has taken a difficult, lonely or confusing turn.  Or...maybe it was not such a bad change after all and it actually led to something even more beautiful or more blessed than you could ever have imagined.

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.  As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my thoughts higher than your thoughts." 

While listening to my Daily Audio Bible the other day, the story of Joseph, in Genesis 37, was a profound reminder of God's sovereignty and grace in a situation gone bad.  His father's favorite son, Joseph was sold into slavery by his OWN brothers.  Can you imagine?!  That probably wasn't the route he thought his life would take.  As the story goes, Joseph ends up in a position of authority in Potiphar's house and after time is able to save his family's lives (the same family that betrayed him).

What a great story of redemption, forgiveness and love.  A bad situation turned good.

When the day or even the entire season of life you are in doesn't look so good...there's always something to be thankful for.  Something to be learned. There's personal growth that can occur.  Possibly most importantly... there's faith and/or trust to be gained.  God knows.  He knows our hearts. Our desires. Our sins and our shortcomings.  He sees the beginning from the end. He knew and was with Joseph when he was in the "pit"and in the "palace".

Whether we are suffering the consequences of a bad decision on our part or suffering the injustice of someone else, like Joseph's story, God knows. He can help put the pieces back together.

I would like to leave you with a song by a dear friend of ours entitled Stained Glass Windows, reminds us of how God picks up the pieces of those places in our lives that seem to have been shattered.  (Warning: it's a tear jerker).

(The story and inspiration behind this song is so precious.  It's about their adoption journey.  Check out a different version of it here.)

May this encourage you today whether you are "on top of the world" or whether you are feeling the effects of being shattered. 

Much love,

Thursday, January 24, 2013

What we're learning today: Kindergarten

This year, we are using My Father's World From A to Z A Complete Kindergarten Curriculum as our main kindergarten curriculum.  So far, we have really enjoyed it.  I have decided to supplement with a few other items/activities because my kindergartner is a bit further along in her reading/phonics skills than some of the lessons are, at this point in our school year.  The blend ladder activity sheet is what you see in her workbox drawer above.  I give her magnetic letters which allow her to build several different short words to choose from for this activity.  


We are also using these blend sound cards from A Beka. Someone actually gave these to us, so I don't have a link nor can I find information about them.  I'm not sure if they have been discontinued or something?! I am really thankful for them though.  They are large, colorful and very helpful in learning the sounds. 

I found this cute sight word caterpillar that we use to add new words (body segments) as we learn them. : ) It's a nice colorful addition to our school room, too!

Anyway, that sums up some of the things we are working on today.

What learning is happening in your corner today?!

Monday, January 21, 2013

2013 Reading list


The books I have chosen this year seem to fit appropriately with my focus for 2013, which you can read about (here).  I've already peeked into several of them and they seem full of wisdom, advice and practical ways to help me grow in the areas that I'm trying to in 2013.

I know the amount of books I've chosen might be pitiful to some of you out there, but I'm choosing to make my goals within reach with the season of life that I am in. Growing up, I was never an avid reader and it just so happens that within the last several years (when I have the least quiet/down time) I have immensely enjoyed reading and can't get enough.

Now, it's a matter of finding moments here and there to pick up the books that I'm dying to read ; )

Last year, I did fairly well with my list, but as I told you in the fall, unfortunately our kids got Pertussis/whooping cough : ( .... so many things got put on the back burner for a few months so that I could nurse my family back to health.  Raising little ones is all about priorities and flexibility! Can I get a shout from the mommas?!

Anyway, here is my list:




Orphanology: Awakening to Gospel-Centered Adoption and Orphan Care (I have begun this book, but I need to finish reading it soon.)


Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman's Guide to Finding Contentment Calm My Anxious Heart: A Woman's Guide to Finding Contentment (This book was so impactful, I want to try to read it again this year - possibly do a womens group study on it?!)

Throughout the year, I'd like to finish these:

Audio Books:


21 Days To A More Disciplined Life

I'm so thankful that our local library has almost all of the regular books in their system...yay, free reads!!!  Otherwise, I will be using my Swagbucks to buy the others on Amazon.  (Click here if you don't know what Swagbucks is?)

What about you? Do you have any good reads in mind that I may add to my list?!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

This and that: coffee sack art

I wanted to share a recent project that my husband is actually working on.  We have often seen these large burlap sacks that coffee beans are transported in and really liked them, but we never had a clue what we would do with them.  We like them for two reasons: they remind us of our travels to Central and South America and our addiction  enjoyment for coffee : ) 

Well, thanks to the creative mind of a friend (thanks TJ!), we will soon have some on display in our house.  

On a recent trip to a large discount store in our area, my husband spotted the burlap sacks and they were only 99 cents.  Woo hoo!  You can still smell the scent of the coffee beans.  He also found the near perfect frames large enough to display them for $4.99 each.

All he did was cut the sack to fit the frame.  He then placed the glass behind the sack to keep it in place and wrinkle free.  Yes, it was that easy!  We have one more that is not finished yet, so I will post an update later.  

So...we will have a nice coffee sack display for less than $20.  Thanks babe!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Less in 2013

"In 2013, my goal or focus for the year seemed to be summed up as "less is more".  That goes for every area of life:

* less clutter

* less spending/excess

* less stress

* less preservatives, GMOs and toxins in my body (and my family's body)

* less "noise" (literally and figuratively) probably more figuratively being 
   that I have four children ages five and younger ; )

* ultimately...less of me, more of Jesus

I really want this year (and many years to come) to focus on a bit of a life detox, if you will.  We definitely need to de-clutter our home, our spending and my body and soul continue to need de-cluttering, as well.

1. The home:
                                                                      photo source

After moving in and out of different apartments, condos and homes 12 times in our 12 years of marriage, we finally bought a home that we may plant roots in (for awhile at least?!).  In 2011, were blessed to find a great deal on a home that needs a lot of updates and minor repairs with more square footage than we have ever had (complete with an extra room for homeschooling - yay!).  This, of course, means that more STUFF has made it's way into this house and filled it up.  Although I'm very thankful for this houseI admit last year was a bit stressful managing it all with four young children. 

I am more than ready to simplify in order to free up time for more important things like relationships, serving at church/ministering to others and extra curricular activities.

In her book Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living , Tsh Oxenreider describes "stuff" like this:

"...I've come to realize that those things are just things, and that while they aren't inherently evil, they can actually erode my family's purpose in life - or at least water down the potency of our choices.  They can multipy the surfaces I need to dust.  They can dwindle my checking account.  They can even cause stress.  And they can keep my family from living life to the fullest because we've slowly allowed our stuff to own us." 

Hence, we begin to simplify! (I just hope you don't see us on an episode of Hoarders LOL).

2. The budget:

                                                                      photo source 

Our finances/budget is always in need of review and tweaking.  Although, I would consider our family fairly frugal, there is always something we can cut back on or give up in order to give more.  I have not only heard about, but I have seen extreme poverty with my own eyes around the nations of the world.  I will never forget the precious children that raced into a restaurant in South America to eat the scraps that we had left on our plates.

The simple fact that I own a vehicle (2 for that matter) and a refrigerator puts me among the top 6% of the world's wealthiest people.  Most things we Americans believe we "need" to live - we don't.  They are luxuries.

On that note, in an effort to give and save more, we prepare to once again grab hold of the reins and cut spending.  

3. The soul:

I want to continue the lifelong journey of allowing people to see less of Tonia and more of Jesus.  This requires a detox of self.  Cleaning out the revealed and hidden corners and ridding the things that break the heart of God, cause others to stumble and slowly derail me from my life purpose. 

Daily, there are the stresses of life, worries, temptations and sins that creep in and choke out the life that is within us.  We have to be intentional about allowing God to search our heart and soul and "clean house". 

I was so excited to find that there is actually a book entitled Soul Detox: Clean Living in a Contaminated World and it is written by  Pastor Craig Groeschel, whom we used to listen to online. Yay! I will be reading it. 

Excerpts from Soul Detox:

"We will never discover lasting happiness, significance and security in the temporary things of this world because we weren't made to live a temporary life."

"When we truly change what we believe, we'll gladly change how we behave."

4. The body:
I'm so disturbed the more I research and read about the toxins and preservatives that are in many modern food choices.  Even choices that appear to be "healthy".  Although, I would consider our food choices above average on a healthy scale, we still have a lot of work to do in what our family puts in our bodies.  In an attempt to start a more healthy journey, my husband and I began the New Year with a dextox/cleanse that I saw on the Dr. Oz show.  I will share more about that experience in another post. (Click here to print a copy).  

My desire is for our family to be healthy and live life fully from the inside out! We begin by being careful and intentional about what we choose to put in our bodies in 2013. 

So friends.  That is my focus for the year.  Tweaking these areas of life - a total life detox.  

I look forward to sharing this journey in 2013 with you.  Are you doing any detoxing in the areas of your life this year?

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

This one thing

So, I have several blog posts prepared for the New Year....goals, lists, ideas, projects, etc.  I'm looking forward to sharing them with you.  However, I can't help but come back to the central theme at where I want to center myself this year -- every year.

I, like many people, get excited about a fresh start and new beginnings.  I realllllly like setting goals, dreaming and making lists in anticipation of moving forward.

In the depths of my soul, I know all of these things (my lists, dreams, goals) are in vain and, dare I say, foolish without acknowledging that I can't do them in my own strength.  That really hits home on the days that I find myself wishing for more hours in the day, additional hands or more energy, [ahem...less laundry or clutter].

In my own strength, I cannot even begin to fully be the wife and mother, home educator and friend, daughter and sister, citizen and helper of the poor/hurting, housekeeper and cook and so on.  It requires more than one can give.  It's exhausting just thinking about it!  When my focus is right, I can wake up and put my trust in the Lord knowing that He is my help.  My strength. Everything else falls in the shadow.

This passage in Psalm 27:4 says it all:

I'm asking God for one thing,
only one thing:
To live with him in his house
I'll contemplate his beauty;
I'll study at his feet.  (Message)

*or a more familiar version*

One thing I ask from the Lord, 
this only do I seek:
That I may dwell in the house of the 
my whole life long.
all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the Lord
and seek him in his temple. (NIV)

You know that I'm not saying all of my housework and the childrens' lessons will do themselves if I sit and pray all day.  Nor will dinner cook itself.  It just changes everything to truly know the reason why and how I do what I do.  Knowing that I CAN'T do it all. No one can.  Everything changes when my day rests in seeking that one thing.

Particularly for moms, I found this great resource to print out and post as a reminder of the heart behind what we do and where our true strength lies.  I hope this will refresh you and be a daily reminder of who you really are.

Click here to print Super Mom vs. Abiding Mom.