kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Guess How Much I Love…My Bunny

There are certain items that bring a sort of nostalgia of our childhood. A favorite toy, story, or memory that we hold with us. A moment we can still recall vividly. Recently, as I laid my little man down for a morning nap, I became overwhelmed with emotion. I stared at this perfect little being as he snuggled a small little bunny and that sense of nostalgia consumed me.

From the outside looking in, it appears to be just that, a child’s bunny. Meant for bedtime snuggles, to provide a sense of security. But to me, it represents so very much more. That bunny is more than the character it represents from my favorite children’s book, Guess How Much I Love You. It is more than a security blanket. For me, it represents a special bond between my mother and me. A bond that, I hope, my son and I will one day have.

Growing up as a child, my parents were both teachers. They had the same schedule, for the most part, as my sister and I– school breaks, snow days, and summers off. It was all we knew. Then, one day, my mom was offered the opportunity to become a school consultant, taking her out of the classroom and allowing her to travel to other schools outside our small town of Indiana. It was an opportunity of a lifetime–one that she had to pursue. While it was exciting, I had little idea of how much it would truly shift my whole. My mom wouldn’t be home every day after school like I had been used to. We didn’t have FaceTime and Skype to stay connected. Instead, we had a Little Nut Brown and a Big Nut Brown– the two characters from my favorite storybook.

You see, my mom would read the storybook Guess How Much I Love You to me at night as a child. One day, before her trip, she left me the Big Nut Brown stuffed animal, the one whom represents the mother in the story, lying on my bed. The note attached, reading that she’d always be with me each night, no matter where her travels that week would take her.  Packed in her suitcase, was Little Nut Brown, the child in the story. Each time she traveled, she packed Little Nut Brown in her suitcase. I snuggled Big Nut Brown each night she was away. It was our bond. Our way of being together, no matter how far away we may have been. On night’s when I would miss her, she’d remind me that she was right there, snuggled up next to me. I’d find comfort in that.

Our bunny bond didn’t stop once I grew up and graduated high school. How could it? I was moving away from home for the first time. So, as I packed for college,  Big Nut Brown ame along. She sat on a shelf in my college dorm–watching over me each day. I never shared the story with friends, or felt the need to explain why I had a stuffed bunny sitting on my shelf when I was twenty years-old. Did I need to still snuggle it each night? No. But on the hard days when that math test just didn’t go right (and let’s be honest, with math, it never did!), or I was cramming to memorize those last key pieces of information for my final, that bunny provided comfort, reassurance. I could look at it and feel my mom’s encouragement. I could see her face, smiling. I could hear her voice, cheering me on.

Through graduating college, moving out on my own, and getting married, that bunny has been along for the ride. I’m not sure that there will ever be a day that Big Nut Brown doesn’t stay. Today, he sits in our son’s nursery alongside the book that started it all. And as I stared at my son that morning, snuggling his baby version of the same stuffed animal, I couldn’t help but be overcome by emotions. It was then, as a parent, that I realized that sometimes it’s the smallest acts, such as reading a story, that matter the most to a child. That one story, that one stuffed animal, has meant more to me in the past twenty years, than any other gift has.

So while that bunny will always hold a special memory for my mother and me, it now also serves as a reminder of the kind of parent I want to be. Twenty years from now, I can only hope that my son will look at his bunny, the one he used to snuggle to sleep, and be reminded of his mom. Not for the many things that she bought him, but for the memories that together, they made. The stories. The snuggles. The giggles. The playtime. The class parties. The ball games. Simply, the time we spent together.

 

 

Advertisements
education, kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Momma on a Mission: Part 2

When my husband and I decided that it was in the best interest for our family this year for me to take a year off from teaching by extending my maternity leave, I had mixed emotions. For the last eight years, I had been a teacher. It was my passion–it was my identity. While I was ecstatic to have the opportunity to stay at home with our son and have the chance to witness and be a part of each and every one of his “firsts”, I also had some guilt. I had ALWAYS contributed to our household income and that was something I took pride in. I wanted to stay home, but I also wanted to bring in some extra money so that our family could continue to live comfortably. I had very little idea at how difficult that could be.

For weeks, I searched the internet for remote jobs with flexible hours, allowing me to spend my days with our son and drop-off and pick-up my step-daughter from school. Very little results showed up in my search. I’m not very good at asking people to purchase things, so I knew direct sales wasn’t going to bring in the revenue I was hoping. With an infant at home who is nursing and dependent on me, customer service jobs requiring phone calls or set working hours just didn’t seem reasonable. Family and friends recommended I offer childcare, but to me, that wouldn’t allow me the same one-on-one, genuine time with my son–the reason I was staying home. I was picky, leaving me with very few options.

Then, I stumbled upon an ad on Facebook for VIPKids. I remembered that I had looked into this months ago, while pregnant with Kellen. I went through the initial steps, but when I saw I had to do a live demo class, I had abandoned my application. I was scared. Looking back at it now, I have no idea why. I have interviewed for multiple teaching and administrative positions in my career. I have had a successful career thus far in the field of teaching. So what was there to be nervous about? Out of options and desperate to find something that would help my family, I decided to complete my application and signed up for my live demo class. It was the best decision! I have officially completed my first month as a VIPKids teacher and am ready to share with you why this is a wonderful side hustle for any one!

What is VIPKids?

VIP Kids is an online learning platform designed to help Chinese students learn English. The company has a flipped classroom approach in which students study material on their own and then use the VIPKid classroom platform to demonstrate and practice their learning with a native English-speaking teacher. The students and teachers both log-on to an online learning platform with interactive slides for learning and practice. The company has headquarters in both China and the United States and offers flexible teaching hours to native English speakers who hold a bachelor’s degree (in any field) and has relative experience working with kids (volunteering, coaching, teaching, mentoring, babysitting, etc).

What is the application process like?

To begin the application process, you are first asked to complete an application form with basic information: name, education background, and work experience. Once your application is completed, you are then prompted to book an interview. You can choose to book your interview right away and then look over the preparation materials, or choose to book an online interview at a later date. Sometimes, they also give the option for applicants to record a demo lesson that can be scored and later reviewed. I did this at first, but still had to do the online, live demo class, so I recommend just starting with that! Once you schedule an online interview, you need to review the materials that are provided. They are extremely important in ensuring that you score well on the rubric you will be graded on.  They also have videos that help you see and understand how to use TPR (total physical response) and props in your teaching.

What materials are needed/ required?

In order to teach for VIPKids you are required to have a computer device of some kind (laptop, MAC),  a camera (most are installed on your laptops already and those are fine!), and a headset with a microphone. I found a cheap one on Amazon!

In addition, you must have a wired DSL connection of at least 20 Mbps. In order to do this, I bought a cheap ethernet cord to connect to my laptop and run it to the room I teach in. You can find these in stores, but I bought mine on Amazon, too!

VIPKids also recommends setting up a classroom in a small corner or room away from noise and distractions. With two dogs and two kids at home, I created a small teaching room in one of our walk-in closets for now! It sounds funny, but works great! They also recommend that you have good lighting, as you are normally teaching during the early morning or late evening hours, when natural light is hard to come by.  Thus, I could a few cheap lights from Wal-Mart to help ensure good lighting for my classroom.

What are the hours like?

The hours are something that I know can make some people hesitant, especially if you are still working a full-time job.  The big thing to understand about this job is that because you are teaching live to students in China, there is about at 13 hour time difference. Thus, the peak booking hours during the week are from 5:00 am -8:30 am Eastern time and 8:00 pm to 8:30 am Eastern Time from Friday evening through Saturday (there Saturday and Sunday). Thus, when I first started working, I signed up for the crazy 1am-5am time slots, hoping to get my first few bookings. While I did, I also realized this wasn’t the best option for me, while nursing a four-month old throughout the night! Instead, I open up booking slots from 5am-6:30 am three to four days a week and 6:00 am-8:00 am on Saturday and Sundays. This works well for me as most of my family is still asleep, and my husband is home to meet any needs the kids may have.

What I really love about this company is that there are no set amount of hours that you must work. Thus, if you can only work on weekends, that’s fine.

What is the pay like?

The pay scale varies, based on your education background and your interview. The base pay is between $8- $10 a class. Each class is only 25 minutes long. Thus, your base rate could be $16-$20 an hour. In addition, VIP Kids offers cash incentives. If you show up on time to a class and teach it through the required time, you can earn extra money per class. There are also incentives for teaching 35 or more classes in a given month (super easy to do) and other competitions and incentives that they put out each month to encourage teachers to continue to take professional development offerings or to get certified in additional teaching levels ( VIPKids has different levels of teaching for students–you must be certified through a demo to do each level).

To give you a brief idea, in my first month of teaching with VIP Kids, I taught 50 classes, equaling 25 total hours of work. I started all classes on time and taught over 35 classes, qualifying me for two additional income incentives. Today, I received a direct deposit payment for $565.00.

How much work/ prep is required?

If you are currently a teacher, or have been a teacher, then you will absolutely LOVE this. The lesson planning and prep work is done for you! The slide shows are interactive in nature and are loaded into the classroom platform for you during your class time. All I have to do to prepare for my class is glance over the slide show and the learning objectives ( which I can do from my laptop or my phone app). I then gather a few learning props, usually flashcards from the $1 bin at Target or toys I have in my kids’ room, and I am ready to go! If you Google videos of other VIPKid teachers, you will see that there are some that really go above and beyond! More power to them, but I like to keep it fun and easy. Yes, I provide high energy and enthusiasm to my students, as well as some fun props, but I don’t go all out in decorating my “classroom” or buying expensive props.

At the conclusion of the lesson, you are asked to provide feedback for each student’s lesson. All that is required are a few sentences stating what the child learned and/or excelled in during the lesson, as this goes to parents. You are then able to provide feedback for the child’s next teacher (as it may not be you), as well as feedback for the VIPKid lesson itself. That’s it. My “grading” takes about 2-3 minutes.

Why I love VIPKids :

VIPKids has allowed me to continue to practice my profession and love for teaching, conveniently from my home, while not taking away from my precious time with my little one. The online platform is safe and secure, and allows me to teach and help students learn in a fun environment, without all of the stresses of teaching such as lesson planning, grading, and parent issues!

If you’re looking for a side hustle while staying home with your little ones, or simply would like to make some extra money to help pay off debt or an upcoming vacation, I HIGHLY recommend looking into VIP Kids. Don’t let the application or interview process deter you, like it first did me. It’s an amazingly fun and easy way to make some extra cash, while helping students along the way.

If you’re interested in signing-up, use my unique referral code to help fast-track your application!

https://t.vipkid.com.cn/mkt/landing/personal?referralToken=7259445c1bebde6c0dad82d35b85f970&refereeId=13799653

kids, Parenting, Uncategorized

Top 5 at Home Indoor Activities for Kids

If you’re anything like me, winter can make it hard to stay active, especially for the little ones! The days of playing on the playground, running outside, and riding your bike are few and far between once winter arrives in Indiana. The cold and snow make it hard to motivate exercise and, as a parent, you start to have to get creative with ways to burn off some of that energy in your little ones!

The first big snow of this season, had me thinking of some of the best ways to help little ones have fun while burning off energy indoors.  While I am all about playing outside in the snow, let’s be honest–most of us spend more time prepping our kids to play outside in the white stuff than they actually do! Thus, I have compiled a few of our family’s favorite ways to sneak in exercise during these cold, winter days!

Top 5 at Home Indoor Winter Activities:

  1. Little Tikes Trampoline:

If you have a younger child at home, this is the BEST indoor toy. When we need to log some exercise minutes for school, or burn off some extra energy at home we pull this out! Our daughter loves to jump as she listens to music or watches tv, and I love that she is able to get exercise in without realizing she is! This trampoline’s hand folds up so it is easy to store as well. (Tip: If you don’t want to pay full price, look for these after Christmas to score $20-$30 off–that’s what I did last year!)

2. GoNoodle.com

This website is usually reserved and used as a part of the elementary teacher’s bag of tricks, but you can sign up for a free account, too! The website has a TON of interactive dances, songs, and workouts geared towards elementary aged students. We love to log-on to the website to get in a few coordinated dances. They also have yoga and meditation videos for students! It’s really fun to do as a family!

3.  Gotrovo Treasure Hunt Game

Our daughter has been really into scavenger or treasure hunts lately, ever since my husband sent us on one together for my birthday! We go this game for her for Christmas this year, in hopes to help us make them a little more fun and engaging. This game comes with a treasure surprise to place at the end of your hunt, as well as a treasure map that you can attach clues to! The box has pre-made clues, as well as the ability to make your own. This is a fun activity that allows your child to be active as they search through your house to find clues, but also is a great way to get them to think creatively to help solve the riddle clues! This game is great indoors, but we’re excited to use it outdoors once it gets warm, too!

4. Hopscotch

We received this awesome puzzle as a gift one year. While it’s great to use as a puzzle alone, especially for littles one due to its size, we also found that you could easily build it into a hopscotch course! We use it to build different combinations and then our daughter is able to jump, using different combinations. This is a great activity to increase a child’s balance, as they can use two feet, and then gradually increase to just one, crisscrossing, etc. Our daughter loves to do this with her dad, making it a fun game to see who can skip over pieces of the puzzle or have the fastest feet!

5. Indoor Obstacle Course

If you really want to get creative, you can build an in-home obstacle course with a few items you probably already have around the house and have been mentioned above! One cold day, we were looking for something a little different from our usual trampoline and hopscotch routine. My husband gathered our daughter’s scooter and hula hoop from the garage, as well as our trampoline and hopscotch indoor play items, and created an indoor obstacle course that she could complete inside our living room and hallway! She got really excited once we started timing her to see how fast she could go!

Items we used: jump rope, hula hoop, Pete the Cat giant foam puzzle (to build a hopscotch area)  trampoline, scooter

What indoor activities do you do with your kids to keep them active during the cold, winter months? Comment below and share your ideas!

Uncategorized

‘ Tis the Season for Giving…

Christmas is a whirlwind of excitement, time spent with family, but also, sometimes, a time full of stress. It can be hard to find the “perfect” gift for someone.

I remember as a child, with limited funds, it being difficult to find the “perfect” gift for my parents. Each Christmas, my sister and I would craft up an idea for them and work to make or find the funds to get them something special from two of us. As we got older, homemade presents, though special, didn’t seem to fill what we deemed to be “special enough” for two people who gave us so much.

One year, my older (and in this case wiser) sister, came up with a gift for our parents that exceeded our own expectations of being “special”. We chose a “Christmas Angel” from a local clothing store to sponsor in our parents name. Together, my sister and I shopped for a local family, purchasing needed items, as well as wanted items for the kids. At the moment, I wasn’t too sure how my sister’s idea was good for my parents, I mean, they weren’t receiving anything! Now, I see how special it truly was.

On Christmas morning, we wrapped up a big, empty box to add to the excitement. Unwrapping the present, my parents found a note stating that we had sponsored a family in their names, along with a list of all that we had gotten them. My mom teared up, and as a kid I knew that meant we had again successfully pulled off a great Christmas gift. As an adult, I now know why.

Parenting, in general, is difficult. There are a multitude of choices you must make regularly that will affect your child’s life and that will ultimately contribute to the type of child and adult they will grow to be. While our Christmas gift that year helped a family in need, it did more than that. It ensure my parents that they were doing a great job as parents, that they had taught us to have giving hearts.

As Christmas is around the corner, this memory drives me to want to ensure that as a parent, I am teaching the joy of giving, instead of fueling the ever-growing trend of greediness. So today, my family is going to again sponsor a child (or two!) this Christmas, to help instill in not only our children, but also ourselves, that it truly is better to give, than to receive.

I hope this post helps you to remember the true meaning of this time of year. That you help to teach our little ones the power of giving, and not further encourage the mentality of greediness. The world could use a lot more good this time of year!

Merry Christmas!

Uncategorized

The Journey Begins

Thanks for joining me!

I am new to the blogging world–and process– so please be kind.

I am no expert at balancing being a working wife and mother, but I am attempting to find a way to do it all and live “happily ever after”.

The goal of this blog is to share my journeys through life, hopefully providing some honest (and occasionally) funny insights into how I attempt to balance my OCD natured-self while working, raising  a 5-year-old and 3 month old, and vacuuming up endless amounts of dog-hair from our two loveable pups, Bennie and Jett.

Much love,

Carolyn

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

post