All posts by cmckeeby

How to pass the VIPKID interview

In December 2016, I quit my job as a brick and mortar teacher. We were moving states and honestly, the pressures of being a full time working mom had me walking a fine line between success and insanity. Mid-move, I stumbled upon the link for VIPKID in a facebook group for moms and something about it caught my interest.vipkidA fast week later, I had clicked on the link, signed up for information, interviewed, and been hired as an independent contractor to work as an English teacher for this Beijing based company. I had a massive fear it was all a scam, but 6 months in, I’m working 15-20 hours a week and staying home with my kiddos. Average pay is about $20 an hour, so while it does not substitute my full time salary, I have chosen to only work part time to still gave time with my family.

No Chinese knowledge is necessary, as this is a full immersion program. The program relies heavily on your use of TPR (total physical response) and the use of props. The process seems unbelievable overwhelming at first, but its just because the teaching style is unlike what us brick and mortar teachers are used to.

Key elements to keep in mind…
1. Limit incidental language– this means, VIPKID will provide you with target sentences. Use these. Don’t get carried away with long directions, just stick to the target sentences and model them in action.

For example, if you want the student to pick an answer, show them.

Say “Elephant” “Tiger.”  while circling the corresponding image.
Circle tiger while saying “t-t-t-t-tiger”. This shows the students you are looking for the word with the initial sound of “t”. Then ask. “Circle the picture that starts with t-t-t”

2. Encourage the student to speak. If they don’t answer your questions, no worries….you ask, then answer, and have them repeat. It is acceptable to give the student the answer, because repetition is the key to success when learning a new language. We want to model correct pronunciation and have them practice.

3.Correct their mistakes and encourage the use of complete sentences via modeling.
T: What is this?van
S: van (pronounced w-a-n)
T: v-v-v-van
S: van
T: This is a van
S: This is a van.

VIPKID offers multiple ideas for reward systems. Be sure to use it consistently and to provide physical praise (smiles, thumbs up, high fives). It is intimidating to speak a new language in front of strangers, reassure them that they are doing great!thumbs ups

Image via clipartpanda.com 

I get a small compensation, if you use my link and are hired to teach, so let me know if there is anyway I can help you with the process : iamglutenfreefl@gmail.com

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Surviving off of caffeine

I’ve always been a working mom up until recently. This move to Atlanta inspired us to grab life by the horns and make it exactly what we want. Afterall, we only get to live once, right?

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#fueledbycoffee

I traded in my full time job (and salary) for a part time gig (or 2 or 3). I spend my mornings and some evenings when the kids are in bed teaching kids in China English with VIPKID school. You know the place. You’ve seen the ad on facebook. I have to be honest, at first I thought this company was a scam and figured I was donating my hours to the good people of China, but it has turned out to be a dream come true. Flexible hours, competitive pay, and I get to work from home and have the ability to devote my best self to my kids. If you’re a teacher looking for extra cash, a summer job, or maybe to take a break from the classroom, check this company out. I’m happy to help answer any questions you may have about the interview process or why VIPKID is a good fit for you. (iamglutenfreefl@gmail.com)

I spend the rest of my day writing articles about Life in Atlanta with Kids for care.com, focusing on rebuilding my family photography business here in the Newnan/Sharpsburg/Peachtree City area, and of course the best part-giving my best self to my family.

These busy days must start with coffee! My personal favorite is sipping a hot latte while the kids eat breakfast and we make plans for the day. #fueledbycoffee
If I’m in a rush (or looking to be healthier), I keep cold brew on hand and mix 1 cup coffee, 1 scoop vegan chocolate shakeology, ice, and 1/2 frozen banana in the blender and sip this protein, nutrient rich drink while on the go. High in protein, iron, and other important nutrients, this keeps me full and the extra caffeine gives me the buzz I need to get things done. Plus lets be honest, those lattes (loaded with whole milk and sugar) aren’t always so kind to my 30 something body.

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Now, working from home, sometimes I need to get out of my own house. For those days, Atlanta is the mecca for funky shops and restaurants and I love trying all the places around town. Coffee sipping and people watching- YES PLEASE! Check out a few of my favorite coffee shops in Atlanta for when you’ve got the kids in tow. These places are all designed for the convenience of your morning cup and the comfort of your crazy kids ❤

 

 

Keeping cool this summer

With summer’s scorching heat, my husband and I have both been hitting a wall when it comes to working or playing outside. This summer mocktail is such a refreshing treat!

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We’re trying to make this house a home and keep the kids engaged outside with all the fun that Atlanta has to offer, but goooooooodness…..this heat is enough to knock anyone on their bootay. This watermelon lime concoction has become our summer go-to to beat the heat and stay hydrated and even the kids like it.

Ingredients
1-2 cups watermelon
ice
juice from 1/2-1 lime
mint leaves
Toss in the blender and enjoy!

Don’t feel like taking out the blender? Try one of my favorites, Hydrate, from the beachbody performance line. Just add water and shake!

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Tastes like orange gatorade, is similar in price, but contains natural ingredients you can feel good about. For comparison, Beachbody Hydrate has a few more items on the nutrition label than the Gatorade Organic. At just 10 grams of sugar, Hydrate is significantly lower than gatorade. The sodium and potassium counts are the same and in addition to beet sugar and dextrose it contains the stevia leaf extract as well as natural mandarin orange flavor as a sweetener. Magnesium(an electrolyte) & Quercitin are two (natural) key ingredients that improve hydrawtion, improve endurance, and decrease exercise induced muscle fatigue.

Beachbody Hydrate is far superior to the vast majority of commercial sports drinks with  a lot less sugar and the added the benefits of magnesium and quercetin. Check it out $34.95 for 40 servings means less than $1 a serving!

 

 

Vegetable Fried Rice

In addition to being  full of vegetables, this dish is one of my favorites because it can be made from leftovers and it cooks up in about 20 minutes.

  • rice
  • riced cauliflower
  • vegetables of your choicing (peppers, onions, mushrooms, carrots, squash, zucchini, broccoli, green onions, etc)
  • soy sauce (be sure its gluten free)
  • 2 eggs

Gather assortment of veggies of your choice (I used bell peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, squash, and green onion). Chop and salute in EVOO for about 15 minutes.

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Saute vegetables

Add cooked rice and a bag of “riced cauliflower”.

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Scramble egg in “rice valley”

Make a valley in the middle, scramble 1-2 eggs. Stir everything together while splashing in some soy sauce. When I feel like adding meat, I sometimes sauce the veggies with bacon for added flavor.

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Fried rice

Free fun in Newnan/Peachtree City Georgia

We’ve recently moved to Peachtree City, GA and have had SO MUCH FUN exploring our new city. We love driving into the city to see all that Atlanta has to offer, but some days we need to save a bucks on parking and gas money, so we have been out hunting for some local fun. We’ve made a list for you to explore with us.

Barnes & Noble Bookstores

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Address: 342 Newnan Crossing Bypass Newnan, GA 30265
Hours: Sunday- Thursday 9 a.m – 9 p.m    Friday-Saturday 9 a.m – 10 p.m
Phone: 770-304-2114

My kids are huge bookworms and love nothing more than spending a quiet afternoon at the bookstore. They could happily spend hours hopping between the bookshelves and snuggling up with a book in one of the many chairs. If your kids need a little more action, Barnes and Nobles has a great space with both a train and lego table to allow your kids the chance to move around an explore. JUL_9995Every Thursday and Saturday at 11 a.m. B&N offers a story time with popular stories and songs. Grab yourself a little something special from the cafe. Nothing beats an afternoon of books and coffee.

During the summer, be sure to check out The Barnes & Noble Summer Reading Program. Log 8 books that your kids read and earn a FREE book. Follow these 3 simple steps:

  1. Read any eight books this summer and record them in your Summer Reading Journal (English or Español). Tell us which part of the book is your favorite, and why.
  2. Bring your completed journal to a Barnes & Noble store between May 16th and September 5th, 2017. Find a Store
  3. Choose your FREE reading adventure from the book list featured on the back of the journal.

Carl Miller Utility Park & Splashpad

Address: 74 Sewell Rd, Newnan, GA 30263
Hours:

  • April-October: Open daily 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.
  • November-March: Open daily 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
  • Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day, and Christmas Day
  • Water sprinklers and Splash Fountain are open April through September

Admission: freeJUL_9987The Georgia heat is no joke and we are always looking for a way to get outside without dying of heat. This incredible park in Newnan is one of our favorites. We love to get hot at the Castle Playground, eat a picnic at one of the many picnic tables, and then cool off in the large splashpad.

We love that there is whole separate park and splashpad for kids under 3.  Moms, you’ll love that there are plenty of benches and tables in the shade. Bring a few bucks when you come, because this is a frequent stop for the ice cream truck.JUL_0488b

Line Creek Nature Area

Address: Line Creek 
Hours: Open daily dawn to dusk
Admission: free

This hidden gem is so well disguised, the kids and I drove by several times before deciding to actually get out of the car. What looks like a glorified retention pond tucked behind a shopping center is actually a gorgeous series of trails leading to a tranquil creek. In the mornings, the shaded trails still feel cool, even in the middle of summer. JUL_0524Bring your bathing suit, because after a morning of hiking, you’ll be dying to dip your toe in the water. These trails are perfect for children of all ages, but leave your stroller at home. These uneven trails are anything but a smooth ride and your kids will love the excuse to run. Pets are welcome but be sure to keep them leashed.JUL_0558

Callaway Gardens

Address: 17800 US Hwy 27 Pine Mountain, GA 31822
Hours: Open daily dawn to dusk
Admission: Buy an annual pass for $129
Admits passholder and up to five guests in the same vehicle for free per day on General Admission days and half-price on Special Event days ($99 for local residents living in the following counties: Georgia’s Harris, Troup, Muscogee, Coweta, Meriwether and Talbot; Alabama’s Lee, Russell and Chambers)                                                                                                                      Phone: 800.852.3810JUL_0086

More than just a garden, this park is well worth the 40min – hour drive from Newnan, GA. Tucked away in Pine Mountain, GA these gardens have enough to fill more than a days’ worth of fun. Trails, a butterfly exhibit, birds of prey shows, ziplines & obstacles are just a few of the many incredible things you can experience while at Callaway Gardens. My kids have no interest in any of those things though now that they’ve experienced the “beach”. Pack your beach chairs, umbrella, and picnic lunch. It’ll be easy to spend the entire day playing at Robin lake beach. Bring some spending money, last the beaches include an ice cream shop and a floating playground of obstacles that guarantee an exciting adventure for guests of all ages. $12 per person, per 45 minute session. You can purchase tickets at Square 1 Activity Center for children ages 2 + (children 2-6 must be accompanied by an adult).

If you’re interested in heading into Atlanta, be sure to check out our favorite places!

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Party

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Little man turned 5 this month and after seeing a cake at Publix that he HAD to have, we decided to have a totally rad turtle pizza party. We kept it simple and decorated with the food, because 5 year olds don’t care about decor…they just want to play.jan_5763matte

We bought green and white table clothes and  green foil from the dollar store, colored some pictures we printed for free from the computer, and taped those bad boys on straws. Centerpieces done!

We ordered Little Ceasar’s for the guests ($5 pizzas, whats up!!) and bought some Against the Grain pizza for us gluten free folk.

The menu included:

LOTS of pizza

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Veggie trayjan_5769matte

BLT Salad (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, olives, shredded cheddar, and chopped up bacon)

Greek Bean Salad

Publix cake (not gluten free)

Gluten free vanilla cupcakes with a simple buttercream (betty crocker brand) & vanilla ice creamjan_5747matteWe bought a dozen of these cute TMNT rings from amazon for about $4.jan_5754matteGF sugar cookies- The sugar cookies have a green frosting, fondant masks, and sugar candy eyes.jan_5751matte

Publix Cake (not gluten free) BUT you can get these cake toppers and make your own. My little man is not gf and he was dying for this cake.jan_5790

Easy dinner

Eating healthy doesn’t  have to be complicated. Here are some simple ideas for your weekend to get you started on a healthy week, because I love keeping it simple, full of color, and inexpensive. I love serving up big plates with a variety so everyone finds something they love and there’s no hate towards healthy eating. Beautiful, flavorful, and meats your 21 day fix meal plan.

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Grilled chicken
Broccoli (1/2 grilled with salt & pepper, 1/2 steamed for the kids)
Steamed corn (freezer section at Aldi, no sugar or salt added and so yummy, just pop in the microwave-easy peasy)JAN_5872.JPGTomato, cucumber Salad (tomato, cucumber, feta, fresh basil,  kalamata olives. & balsamic oil)

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All About Money

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Literature about money

Once Upon A Dime

The Penny Pot

The Coin Counting Book

A Dollar, A Penny, How Much and how many?

Berenstain Bears The Trouble with Money

Berenstain Bears Dollars and Sense

Alexander who used to be rich last Sunday

A Chair for My Mother

123homeschool4me.com has a great (and free) mini book about money that is a perfect addition to our lapbook.

Games:

My kids will do any work if it feels like a game. Here’s a great way to practice recognizing coins and adding money with a game of memory.

Are your kids competitive? Have them play “WAR” with money. This was always a HUGE hit in my classroom. We turned every skill into WAR.

Imaginative Play: My kids love setting up shops and restarants. They adore playing every role from hostess to cashier to diner and everything in between. M loves to design her own menus and T loves ringing up the customers with this play register. Such a cheap purchase that provides endless amounts of fun and learning.

Chicken & Vegetable Soup

Let’s be real….

I’m terrible with recipes. I start with one but always end up tweaking it along the way.

So, here’s my attempt at Chicken Soup (I was super excited to use swiss chard, cabbage, oregano, and thyme from the garden)jan_5015matte*1 onion, diced

*4 chicken thighs

*8oz chopped mushrooms

*1 cup carrots, chopped

*handful of swiss chard, chopped (or replace with any green: kale, spinach, cababge)

*3-5cloves garlic

*herbs: garlic salt, pepper, oregano, thyme

*6 cups chicken broth

*1 cup cooked rice

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Saute chopped onions & chicken thighs until chicken is mostly cooked and onions are starting to caramelize. Dump in chopped mushrooms, diced carrots, chopped swiss chard/cabbage/spinach, and 3-5cloves garlic. Stir for a few minutes and then add chicken broth, rice, and seasoning (I like salt, pepper, oregano, and thyme) and let cook until carrots are soft.jan_5043