Nov 242014
The BEST books for kids at the BEST prices of the year! Buy them what they will love, and benefit from!

Enter the shopping season for everyone in the west! Whether you take part in the winter holidays or not, most people set aside some part of their budget for the massive deals you find in November and December.

Books for your kids are no different!

The BEST books for kids at the BEST prices of the year! Don't miss this Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale!



You may have gathered that I’ve become an Usborne Books and More consultant, which means I have a website that carries the best books on the planet!

You can find:

  • Picture books for all ages and stages
  • Fun and engaging encyclopedias for kids
  • Illustrated dictionaries of science, math, and a standard illustrated dictionary
  • Illustrated classics from Dicken’s, Shakespeare, and others. All stories are retold in a young reader’s format!
  • Interactive flap books to teach kids about anything from the solar system, your body, history, and more
  • Activity books to teach reading, math, and art
  • Sticker books to work on fine motor skills, keep kids occupied, and quality time together as parent and child

Nowhere else can you find such a variety, and at such awesome prices. Usborne is a staple in any homeschool library!

What you need to know about Book Friday and Cyber Monday sales:

  • Books will go on sale at midnight, ET on Friday, November 28th (morning), and another set of sale books will go on sale midnight, ET on Monday, December 1st (morning.The BEST books for kids at the BEST prices of the year! Don't miss this Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale!
  • The books on sale are only as supplies last. Order early in the day to get the best selection!
  • When you spend $40, you can pick up to THREE books on the November special at their reduced price, up to 60% off!!The BEST books for kids at the BEST prices of the year! Don't miss this Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale!
  • You can get previews of popular books on my Facebook Event. RSVP to get notified!

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at (shannen at middlewaymom dot com)! I’d love to help you find books that are perfect for the kids in your life, and get them at the best deal possible. I can do home shows in the Twin Cities area, or Facebook shows for people outside of my local area (but still in the US).

Share this awesome sale with those you know so everyone can get a great deal on awesome books for their kids!

Nov 172014
Think our homeschool is perfect? Think again. Today we're getting real, and sharing our imperfect homeschool. -

Sometimes I wonder if I share too much of our failure on the blog, and if that means you might discredit my thoughts on improving. Sometimes I wonder if our imperfect homeschool is worthy enough to have a blog. But then I remember that this is real life and you likely don’t want to only read about the great times. When we make friends, we share the good, the bad, and the ugly. And today, as I share our homeschool and all its imperfections, I’m joined by other iHomeschool Network bloggers. I’m not alone, and that feels good.

I hope that feeling of not being alone feels good to you, too.

Think our homeschool is perfect? Think again. Today we're getting real, and sharing our imperfect homeschool. -

It’s no secret that high school has been a bumpy road for us. I must say, we make some really awesome plans, but then those plans meet real life, and things start to unwind, slowly but surely. Whether it’s resources we thought were great, but then didn’t work out the way we thought, or lesson plans that are forgotten about, missed, or have swiss cheese follow through. Add it all together, and you get a really tough first year.

Honestly, it felt like every time we checked in on progress, we were taking two steps forward, one step back. It was incredibly frustrating for all of us.

During middle school, I basically graded items as they were finished, just looking to see if it was sufficient or not. I didn’t keep track of grades, and so there wasn’t much of a back log of work to be graded. Oh, what a mistake that was. I’ve learned my deep, intense hate for grading work. I avoid it whenever I can, and after 30 minutes of grading papers, I have to set it aside so my complete lack of motivation doesn’t filter in to the grade I’m awarding.

What I’ve learned? Find as many self-grading resources as possible. Then at least when I force myself to sit down and grade papers, it takes less time, and don’t fall as far behind.

You may have noticed I write far less about credit by exam. Why? We’ve backed off, big time. I’ve learned that Kira needs and wants small steps in her learning. She doesn’t want to do intense study sessions to retain lots of new information, which is what credit by exam requires at her stage. To go from first addressing a subject in middle school to then passing a CLEP or DSST exam means you are skipping the high school step, and you need to actively study with notes, and practice, practice, practice. That’s not how Kira wants to use her time, even if she likes the idea of passing the exams.

Will we continue with credit by exam? Yes, but at a slower pace. When Kira shows an active interest in a subject or an exam, I’ll absolutely get the resources to make it happen. Otherwise, we’ll let her take the smaller steps that high school work allows.

So what’s the road forward?

I use more resources online to build the bridge between our motivation and our goals. What are some of our favorite resources to make this happen?

  • Homeschool Planet – to keep us on track, both with completing lesson plans and with ensuring grading is fully recorded.
  • Jumpcourse – An interactive and engaging way to study for CLEP and DSST exams. Kira loves it, it’s self grading, and they have a guarantee you’ll pass, otherwise you get to retake the course.
  • Currclick classes – Online classes covering a wide variety of subject areas. This means literally no work for me. Yay!

Our homeschool is far from perfect, but the fact is we are still meeting our goals. In sha Allah (God willing), Kira is gaining knowledge, exploring options for her future career, and building a strong personal identity in a healthy way.

Join the other iHomeschool Network bloggers and hear about their imperfect homeschools. It’s not all rainbows and lollipops, so let’s get real!

The Imperfect Homeschool

Nov 102014
Parenting teenagers has been a question for generations. How much freedom do you allow a teen? Here are our rules, and why. -

Raising teenagers has been a question for generations. How much freedom do you allow a teen? How many guidelines do you give them? Do you allow sleepovers? The answers aren’t cut and dry, but I’ll share with you the rules we have in our home, and why we have come to these as a conclusion.

Parenting teenagers has been a question for generations. How much freedom do you allow a teen?  Here are our rules, and why.  -


Sleepovers are a big question even from the elementary years. Do you allow them? Only for specific families? When Kira was little, I didn’t have any problem with sleepovers, but keep in mind I wasn’t Muslim until she was 7. Even at that point, I wasn’t always congnicent about the issues that could arise. I didn’t think about whether the parents had alcohol in the house, or what they were allowing on TV. Also, most parenting styles are quite similar for 7 year olds, but things get drastically different for parents raising teens.

Now, we are very selective of where she can spend the night with friends. Two big questions are whether there’s alcohol in the house, and whether the friend has a brother in the house. Both these will give us great pause. Still, I’ve found I can’t always say no when I want to since I share her time with my ex. If I say no too often, then her dad will normally allow it, just to compensate. This means that sometimes she attends events or sleepovers I would not allow for her half siblings since both Hubby and I are on the same page with what is allowed, and why.


Technology for teens is such a big issue to think about! There’s social media, Internet access, and cell phone use. You hear horror stories of kids sharing too much online and either entering troubled waters, or regretting it because they didn’t realize how fast the Internet can turn against them. Cyber bullying is real, and most parents would normally never have any clue it’s happening. Again, Kira’s dad’s side of the family will compensate when they feel I’m being too strict, or if they are just feeling generous and not thinking through the same issues that I consider. Kira got a cell phone from her grandma when she was 7, and at 10 years old I took over the cell phone bill so I could have more control. Since then, we’ve gone back and forth with allowing her to have a smart phone.

Our rule is the phone is ours. She’s allowed to use it at her leisure, but if it’s used in a way we don’t approve. It goes away. We don’t owe her anything, and I don’t care who bought it for her.

As for social media, we allow Instagram and Twitter, though I know she’s installed other social media without asking, and I’ve let it go for the most part, until I see an issue. I am allowed to look at her phone and through her social media at any time. If I ask for a password, she must give it to me. No questions asked. It’s rare that I exercise this right, but it is clear that if there is any argument about it, the phone goes away and we will lock down the Internet at home.

Lastly, if we feel the need to lock down her Internet connected devices, we know that Net Nanny is the best on the market, has awesome control features, easy to use, and we can install it on her dad’s computer as well to make sure everything stays in line. We used it in the past when Kira still was young and couldn’t fully grasp the extent of her actions online, and I plan to use it again when my littles are old enough to use the computer, but young enough they need supervision. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so I plan to start early with locking down the computer.


We don’t have a specific curfew at this time. Really, we make the decision based on the event. Right or wrong, that’s where we’re at. She’s 14, so I don’t feel a need to allow everything that happens before a specific time, or to deny anything after a specific time. We don’t want to lock ourselves into a rule that is too rigid to bend with various needs and situations.


I’ve written about boys, and why chastity is the ultimate goal. Kira knows our expectations, and this is one area that I do not relax my expectations or rules because she splits her time. While I don’t expect she will be perfect, I do plan to keep the goal of chastity and no dating before she’s ready for marriage. Even if she slips up, she can always return to this goal, in sha Allah. Heck, I spent my early 20’s in a secular lifestyle, which obviously includes dating, and chose to stop dating other than for the purpose of marriage at age 25. It’s not impossible to take a step back from what you’ve been doing.

Holidays with friends

Halloween and Valentine’s Day are two holidays most people don’t consider religious, so it’s less obvious why we choose not to celebrate them in our home. Again, this is an area that I feel the need to be a bit more flexible since she shares time. We always talk about why we don’t celebrate these holidays, their origins, and better alternatives to the typical holiday celebrations. I was really proud of Kira this year when a friend asked her to go trick-or-treating with her (yes, a fellow teen. LOL), and Kira suggested instead to get candy on sale and stay in to watch movies. Way to halal-ify it, Kira, mashaAllah!

I wish I could say I feel comfortable with each of these points and where Kira’s at with following all the guidelines, or what is allowed at her dad’s house, but we celebrate the victories and remind ourselves of Allah’s forgiveness for the shortcomings. I can’t control everything (no one can, of course), and the fact that she spends three nights a week sleeping at her dad’s house makes things a bit harder. Still, we can try to explain WHY we have certain rules, and the worldly reasons why they make sense to in sha Allah (God willing) help them stick.

What are some rules for teens you have regarding social media, internet use, boys, holidays, and everything else?

New phonics program, field trips, and no TV - Homeschool Wrap-Up Oct 2014

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Preggo and Homeschooling - How I Still Get Dinner on the Table

Preggo and Homeschooling – How I Still Get Dinner on the Table

I’m now on my third pregnancy while homeschooling. As our family grows, our budget seems to shrink. We can’t take advantage of going out to eat as often as we did the first time around because really, we can’t afford to bring our family of 5 out to a restaurant multiple times a week. Alhamdulilah, I’ve had relatively easy and healthy pregnancies, but the fatigue is very real! By 3pm, I’m usually ready for a [Read more…]

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