MyTechHigh Reimbursement Tracker

MyTechHigh Reimbursement Tracker

For the past 3 years I’ve been homeschooling my kids.  One of these days I’m going to blog the what, why and how of our homeschooling, but today I just want to share a resource that I put together to help other homeschoolers who use the same charter we do – MyTechHigh.  MyTechHigh has been the most amazing resource for our family.  They function as a provider through a charter school that helps facilitate home education.  The best part is they are very hands off – I’m required to provide course descriptions for my sons’ academic curriculum for the year, turn in weekly learning logs (2 sentences per subject of what they did that week), and either have my boys take the state tests or opt them out.  In exchange I can be reimbursed for their educational materials and classes between $600-1900 each year so long as I get my expenses approved and turn in my receipts on schedule.  What a deal!  They also provide additional academic resources, meet ups, events and field trips that we can take advantage of during the year.  It has been an amazing resource for our family.

The trickiest part in all of this is managing the receipts for reimbursement for my sons’ classes.  I’m given a certain budget for each class based on meeting certain criteria – $150 for custom built classes, $300 for 3rd party classes, math/english/science can be combined if they’re all custom built, but other expenses have to stay in their category, some expenses can only be reimbursed through the tech allowance, certain classes take money away from the allowance etc.  It gets to be kind of confusing to keep track of how much I’ve spent on each boy and each class.  So I came up with a Google Spreadsheet solution that makes the whole process nice and neat that I wanted to share with my fellow MyTechHigh parents in hopes that it will help make other people’s lives easier too 🙂

I’ll include below a step-by-step tutorial on how to use the spreadsheet, but if you want to go rogue and figure it out on your own you can open it up here.  Of course it’s probably also a good idea to open it up for yourself so you can follow along with my tutorial too 🙂  So to start off you’re going to want to make a copy of my spreadsheet for yourself – you can’t edit mine, that would kinda ruin it for everyone else 😉  To do this you go to File->Make a copy…

After you do that a box will pop up asking for a name for this document.  At first I was going to try to make this easy to use the same spreadsheet for multiple children, but it was complicated enough as it was.  You will need to make a separate copy for each MyTechHigh student you want to use this for – so name your spreadsheet accordingly!

Once you click OK your copy will pop up and you’re ready to begin filling it out.  I’ve tried to lock as many of the ranges that you shouldn’t be changing as possible so you don’t accidentally mess up something that you won’t be able to fix.  You will want to start by filling out the Student’s name and then checking whether they are a returning student and if they’re a kindergartner.  Don’t worry about the Reimbursement Sheet inputs for now, we’ll talk about those later.

You’ll notice as you enter in the fields that the numbers at the bottom will start to populate with your technology allowance.  This will also help generate some of the fields that will make sure you choose the right course types.  You’re now ready to start filling in your schedule.  For each period select which type of course your student has (Custom, 3rd Party, MTH Direct) and you can enter in your course description.  To the right of the course description I have a character counter too, just to help you when you’re writing your descriptions to make sure they’re the right length.  The course description isn’t necessary, but I like having it there so that as I’m looking at my expenses I can remember what I have in my course description to make sure that I’m submitting things that are going to fit within those parameters.  You can also just put vague notes as far as your curriculum there for your own reference.  It’s completely up to you, you can even leave it blank, it has just helped me in the past to remember what I’m actually planning to do.

When you select the course type you’ll notice that more numbers start to appear.  In the column labeled “MTH Funds” you will see your maximum allowance for that period based on the course type you selected.  The total tells you the maximum allowance based on the courses you have. Make sure you select whether you’re doing Science or History so that the information gets filled in properly as well.  Here’s what my son’s would look like with his schedule for this year –

The next part is the spending totals.  You don’t need to worry about changing anything there.  This section will update as you enter in your expenses and will tell you how much you have left to spend in each category.  The next section is where you will enter your actual expenses.  As you purchase items during the year enter a description of the item or items on your receipt, the total and then select the period description.  Don’t put an X mark next to the items until after you’ve submitted the receipt to MyTechHigh for reimbursement, you’ll see why in a minute.  Here’s what my son’s looked like for this year when I put in all of his expenses –

You might have noticed that even though I was over for his custom core and way over for his Tech class (we split that with his brother and submitted the same thing for both and asked for half the reimbursement for each boy) the total at the bottom of spending total is 0 – that’s because if you submit for too much they will only reimburse you for what you have allowance for.  Also, if you were over in some categories but had extra in others it would only calculate the extra in the others since you can’t borrow from different periods to make up for deficits in others.  You’ll also notice that I split his Let’s Play Music class tuition into two line items so that I could be reimbursed for $300 as his custom built elective and $180 from his technology allowance.  I would recommend as you input expenses on these sheets that you take pictures or save copies of your receipts in a single folder on your computer, phone or Google Drive so that you can easily find them when you’re ready to submit.

In and of itself I feel like this is a super handy way to keep track of what you’ve spent for each period and know what you have left to spend, but I decided to take it a step further.  This spreadsheet will also generate for you a cover sheet for submitting your expenses.  This makes it really easy for the folks at MyTechHigh to quickly review and approve your submission, as well as making it easy for you to know that you have all of the right receipts to submit!  If you go back to the top of the page and click on the box next to “Reimbursement Sheet to Generate” you’ll be given a dropdown box of all of the submission categories that you have.  Pick whichever one you would like to create a cover sheet for.  You can then enter any special notes that you might have about this period that they will need to know at MyTechHigh (for example, when I submitted my sons’ tech class this year I made a note on their cover sheet – “Please reimburse half of the total cost to each student.” – however usually I don’t put any additional notes.  Then you will want to open up the sheet called “Reimbursement Cover Sheet” by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.

This will open a completed reimbursement cover sheet for you which will include the student’s name, which course the submission is for, a list of all of the items and their costs, and the total amount you are requesting to be reimbursed.  You don’t need to do anything with this sheet except save it as a PDF, or copy the data into Word – whatever you want to do in order to submit it.  If you make multiple submissions you can have items previously submitted removed by placing an “x” next to the items that have been reimbursed on the expenses list on the first sheet.  When I go to submit I will save my cover sheet as a PDF and then use Adobe Acrobat Pro to combine that cover sheet with the uploaded receipts that match it so that I have a single pdf file to submit for each period.  You can do essentially the same thing by selecting all the text in the cover sheet spreadsheet and copying it into a Word document (or Google Docs or whatever your word processing software of choice is) and inputting your receipts on subsequent pages before saving as a PDF.  Here’s a sample of what that cover sheet would look like –

And that’s it!  Hopefully this helps you to better keep track of your MyTechHigh expenses and budget in the coming years!  I started thinking I’d just make a few quick modifications to what I had previously so that it would be useful for other people.  Instead it ended up taking me about 2 full days to get all of the pieces working, but I’m really happy with the result.  If you notice anything that I’ve missed please comment below so that I can get it fixed!  I think there might be some other things that I would need to take into consideration for high schoolers, but I don’t know what those are because my oldest is in 3rd grade.  If you want to use this for a high schooler and want to walk me through the variations I’d be happy to work in those variables.  If it is really useful to you consider making a donation to my site, or making a purchase through one of my affiliate links to help me keep this site going.  Happy Homeschooling 🙂

Here’s a link to the spreadsheet again, just so you don’t have to hunt through the article to find it – MyTechHigh Reimbursement Tracker.

Side note: Everything above is my 1st grader’s actual schedule and reimbursements for this past year.  Feel free to use the descriptions and purchase list for inspiration for your own child’s schedule.  I’m planning on posting reviews of some of the things that we’ve loved in the future but I’ll put in a plug for the one thing that we’ve REALLY loved this year which is our Kiwi Crate – it’s been SO much fun for all of my kids and they’ve learned a ton from them.  I thought I was going to like the Kiwi Crate but it’s been so much better than I’d expected.  If you use my referral link you get $10 off of your subscription 🙂

Temple Symbols

Temple Symbols

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Last June my mom shared with me a booklet she was putting together for their stake youth conference.  I thought it was awesome and asked if I could share it on my blog.  She sent me the files and it has sat in my inbox for nearly a year waiting for me to post it.  I decided it was finally time for me to get around to posting it.

The booklet was for the youth to be given to conduct a self-guided tour of the temple grounds.  The booklet points out some of the different symbols they would encounter.  My mom was asked to be careful not to give specific meanings for the symbols as symbols can have many layers of interpretation.  If you give someone a concrete “this is what this symbol means” it takes away their opportunity to discover the meaning for themselves and also might remove some of the incentive to try to work out other possible meanings.  So the booklet contains quotes, scriptures and questions which might help people find some interpretations for the symbols.  For me it was really helpful just to have some symbols pointed out as symbols.  For instance, I’d never thought of the fence as being anything more than a fence to even consider that it might have symbolic significance.

This booklet was made specifically for the Los Angeles Temple, but if you go to any temple you will find many of these symbols in other temples.  We tried to go through and make sure there were pictures and information so that if you are unable to go to the Los Angeles temple you can still learn from reading it.  I think anyone who is trying to get more out of the symbolism of the temple can gain some insight from reading this.

Most of the quotes are from General Authorities and can be found at LDS.org, but one article that is referenced a few times is Symbols in Sacred Architecture and Iconongraphy by Camilian Demetrescu from The Institute for Sacred Achitecture.  There are also a couple references from Studies in Biblical and Semitic Symbolism by Maurice H. Farbridge as well as Temples to Dot the Earth by Richard O. Cowan.  These are all excellent resources if you’re looking to deepen your understanding of the symbols found in the temple.

You are welcome to redistribute this provided you leave the credit on the back cover in tact.  I’m providing several different files to make distribution easy.  First I have the printable files.  The booklet was made to be half pages front and back.  We’ve worked out the pages in order so that you can print the file with the front sides and then the file with the back sides and have it be pretty straightforward.  I’ve also included a pdf with all of the pages in order so that you can easily read it on your computer (or print it whatever other fancy way you’d like).

We would love any feedback on the booklet.  Let us know what symbols you’d missed before or any insights that you’ve gained.  We hope this helps you draw closer to the Savior in your temple worship.

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread

Amish Friendship Bread Banner

My neighbor brought me an Amish Friendship Bread start and I was able to make some for the first time!  I remember my mom making it once when I was little and I was excited to get to do it myself.  It was a fun thing to do, but when I went to deliver my starts to my friends I realized that my copy of the recipe was all dirty.  I didn’t want to photocopy it in that state, so I did the only logical thing and redesigned it to be cute and prepared it to post on my website 🙂  Hopefully this will save the next people from having to decide between photocopying a dirty recipe and having to recreate the document themselves.  You can get the printable copy here – Amish Friendship Bread Printable.

Also, if you’re like me and got to the last day and discovered that your instant pudding boxes are 3.9oz instead of the 5.1oz called for, I’ve done the math for you so that you can use the right proportion of the 3.9oz boxes.  Just combine 2 3.9oz boxes of pudding and remove a generous 1/3 cup of pudding mix and set aside.  The remainder is what will go with your bread.  If you would like to make pudding from that 1/3 cup of mix (because, pudding is delicious), just mix you 1/3 cup of pudding with 2/3 cup of milk and whisk for 2 minutes.

By the way, if you’re going to make this I HIGHLY recommend using Baking Pam.  I don’t usually splurge on ingredients, but my husband brought this home once after being sent to do the grocery shopping and I gave it a try.  It really is like magic for baking.  Everything I make with the Baking Pam just slides right out of the pan with no fuss whatsoever.  It is one splurge that I feel like is very worthwhile 🙂

Here’s a text copy of the recipe as well if you just want to see what this is all about.  Don’t be scared by the 240 hour prep time… the vast majority of that time is spent with a ziploc bag sitting on your counter!  If you want to print it though, use this version, it’s much prettier!

Amish Friendship Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 loaves
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ cup milk
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 5.1oz box instant vanilla pudding, other flavors can be used but not sugar free
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Optional: add nuts, raisins, chocolate chips etc.
Instructions
  1. Day 1: Receive the bread start. Do nothing.
  2. Day 2: Knead the bag
  3. Day 3: Knead the bag
  4. Day 4: Knead the bag
  5. Day 5: Knead the bag
  6. Day 6: Mix 1 cup flour, 1 cup milk, & 1 cup sugar in a bowl. Add to bag. Knead to combine.
  7. Day 7: Knead the bag
  8. Day 8: Knead the bag
  9. Day 9: Knead the bag
  10. Day 10:Combine in a large bowl—batter from the bag, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour & 1 cup sugar. Combine well and put 1 cup of starter in 4 gallon sized bags. Keep one for yourself. Give this recipe and 1 starter bag to 3 friends
  11. To Make the Bread: Mix 1 tsp cinnamon and ½ cup sugar together, set aside.
  12. Spray 2 smaller bread pans with cooking spray.
  13. Sprinkle the pans with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  14. Pour batter into pans.
  15. Bake at 325°F for 45-60 minutes.
  16. Let stand for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Amish Friendship Bread printable recipe here.

Dinner Chore Chart

Dinner Chore Chart

dinnerchart_banner

For those of you who know me personally this will not come as much of a shock, but here’s my confession for today – I am a terrible housekeeper.  I really do try to keep up with the house but it just doesn’t happen.  I am not someone who enjoys cleaning and trying to keep a house clean that still has three young children in it seems like a near impossible task.  However, I am trying.

My biggest pet peeve is keeping my kitchen clean.  It seems like the most critical room in the house to keep clean but three times a day everything’s being pulled out and despite my best efforts I am rarely on top of it.  The dishes are my greatest nemesis and it’s hard to keep everyone in the kitchen and helping me until the work is done.  So I’ve finally come up with a solution – meet the dinner time chore chart!

It’s really pretty basic, I’ve come up with 5 chores and each person in our  family will be assigned one chore for the week which we will change on Monday nights as part of our Family Home Evening and night time privileges will not be granted until that chore is done.  Anyways, I spent some time creating a cute chart and I wanted to share it with anyone who would like to use it.

All of the artwork came from Susan Fitch and you can find the original files for free on her site here and she graciously agreed to let me share these job charts with my readers using her artwork. You should check out her blog and Etsy shop, she has a lot of great things.  The background papers came from Shabby Princess’ free kit Celebrating.  The fonts are Pea Sweet Caroline and Pea Cookie’s Doodles from Kevin & Amanda’s Fonts for Peas.

Ok, so I have two different files that I’m providing here and you’ll have to decide which one you want.  The simple one is just a PDF which you can print out and write your family member names on the tags and be done.  However, I hate my handwriting, so I’m also providing the original Publisher files so you can customize the tags if you’d like.  To customize the tags you’ll just need to go to the tags pages and change the names to the names of your family members.  For mine I wanted pictures of the family members (since some of my kids are still pre-reading) so there are tags that have blank pictures on them but are formatted nicely.  To swap those out for pictures of your own family members all you have to do is right click on the picture, then find the picture you want to use from your computer.  The new picture will be dropped in to the same formatted space.  To re-center the picture I’ve found that I need to de-select the picture and then re-select it (I don’t know why, I just know that’s what happens) then under the Picture Tools->Format tab select Crop and you can now re-size and move the picture around within the frame.  But don’t worry, there are also simple picture-less tags that I’ve included so you can just fill them in.  You will need to make sure that you have the two fonts that I specified above installed on your computer to have the same result on your computer.  If anyone really really wants I could fill in the tags for you and send you a pdf of just the chart you want and your family’s names and pictures if you want to email me the names and pictures that you want.  You can email me through my contact page and I could provide that for a small fee – but I’d encourage you to be brave!  It’s not too hard!  You can do it!  (Assuming of course that you have a computer that can run Microsoft Publisher, and has it installed)

To create my final chore chart I printed the pages out on regular printer paper and then laminated it.  If you don’t own a laminator I’ve really liked the Purple Cows Hot & Cold Laminator that I have.  I got mine for pretty inexpensive from Costco and I think they have them there pretty regularly, but I’ve found that I can get the laminating pouches for a good deal from Amazon.  One trick I learned early on is that you have to be sure to cut out the little pieces you want to laminate (in this case the name tags) before laminating and then laminate them with enough space around the edges to not break the seal of the lamination.  I then used a bunch of these little sticky magnets on the back of the chore chart and on the back of each name tag.  The magnets aren’t super strong so I put two on each of the name tags and six on the back of the chore chart itself.  For now it’s hanging on my refrigerator but I’m planning on getting one of these magnetic boards from Ikea and hang it on my wall… as soon as I can get the kids in order to go (hahahahahah, yeah right).

Anyways, here are the two files.  Let me know if you like them and get any use out of them in your home!  It always makes me happy when someone finds the resources I post useful 🙂  And of course, don’t steal them and sell them or pass them off as your own.  That’s just not cool guys.  I hope this helps you get your kitchen routine more in order too!

Dinner chore charts – PDF version

Dinner chore charts – Publisher version

DadLibs: The Adventures of Super Dad

DadLibs: The Adventures of Super Dad - A FREE printable Father's Day Questionnaire

As Father’s Day approached this year I was excited to do something fun with my kids to give to their dad for Father’s Day. I *love* all the little questionnaires that you can find where you ask the kids questions about their mom or dad and then fill in the responses. The answers the kids give are hilarious and awesome. This past Mother’s Day my five year old did one in his preschool and one of his answers was that his mom “weighs medium”. It’s fun just to see what’s going on in those cute little heads of theirs!

As I was looking up which one I wanted to do this year I thought it would be really fun to put those answers into a little story, like a MadLibs. There wasn’t anything I could find quite like this and I finally decided that I had the skils to make one up myself.  The story is about the superhero Super Dad, because let’s be honest isn’t that who every kid thinks their dad is? The story is a little cheesy, but I thought it was a more fun way of doing the questionnaire than just the straight questions/answers.  I made it so that you could change “Dad” to be “Grandpa” or “Uncle” or even “Mom” or “Grandma” or whatever you might like!  Just be sure that if you make the story for a woman that you check the box that says your recipient is female so that all the pronouns are correct.  Also be sure to select the right gender for your child so their pronouns are correct as well 🙂

I’m a bit finicky about layouts (job hazard of working with some awesome designers) and I’ve never liked not having enough space in the questionnaires to write all of the child’s responses, or having to squish it in and look wonky. So I’ve made this into a little web application, you can fill in your child’s answers and it will put them right into the story without having to squish answers or use your very best handwriting. Yes, I’m finicky enough that I decided I’d rather spend a couple days writing the code to make it a web application than have to handwrite the answers in 🙂  Your child’s answers will be highlighted in blue so you can still tell which parts are the form story and which parts are your child’s responses.  If anyone would like a copy with just blank lines so you can handwrite your answers, let me know and I’ll put the effort into making a printable version too.

The background for the printable and for the banner graphic for this post I created using Julie Billingsley’s Masked Marvels digital scrapbooking kit. I contacted her for permission to use her designs for this project and she graciously obliged, thanks Julie!

You’ll have to enter in your answers to be able to see the story, but the background basically looks like the graphic at the top of this post, except that it’s portrait instead of landscape, and obviously the story is on the inside instead of the promotional text 🙂  Anyways, I’ve rambled long enough…

Click here to fill out your own DadLibs!

Oh, and if anyone has their own fill-in-the-blank story they would like to share feel free to send it to me and I should be able to create another similar page without too much trouble now that the heavy lifting is done 🙂  Any suggestions for improvements will definitely be considered so let me know if you have any ideas to make it better, and feel free to share this with your friends!