Breathing Through It

June 8, 2020


Wowza. Where do I even begin? You met our newest addition, Bear, over on this post and it tears my heart out sharing we said goodbye to him May 28th when he died during a routine surgery.

We were hesitant bringing him home because our hearts were still aching from Brutus but within hours our cares washed away. He was something special. He healed spots of my heart and held space for all the emotions we were and are still navigating with grief and loss. I’m so sorry and so sad we didn’t get more time together. 
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  • May 8, 2019 — Brutus diagnosed with diabetes
  • May 13, 2019 — Andrew’s dad meets Jesus face to face
  • August 16, 2019 — we say goodbye to Brutus
  • March 24, 2020 — welcome Bear to our home
  • May 28, 2020 — say goodbye to Bear

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I’m pretty freaking shattered and clinging to Jesus. I’m feeling angry I was put in this position again. I’m confused why we keep getting knocked down continually this past year. A routine procedure with an unpredictable outcome. He went in for a neuter surgery and his heart rate dropped and stopped. He was back and forth breathing with a ventilator for a few hours but he lost his light and we had to say goodbye. I held him in his last moments and my heart will never forget how I felt whole again with him in our home.

That day and a few days after I kept saying I will never have another dog. My heart literally can't handle the pain again if something were to happen. I know if we had another dog and we decided to neuter, I'd be on edge the day of surgery and events to happen again the same.

Today, I'm longing for our Brutus, for our Bear, for some happy and light in our home. Emery said the other day "mommy, when you're ready, can we get another puppy?" which breaks my heart my kids are walking this pain, too. I don't think they feel it as deeply as I do or as Andrew does, and call me crazy for being so dang attached in 2 months, but that boy was another baby and he brought JOY back to us. He brought life to our home and excitement and happy. All the happy. And I want that happy oozing in our 4 walls.

I started taking weekends off social media and as of today, I have my instagram account disabled and empty. I want to step back and breathe. I've been feeling the last year the Lord calling me to take a backseat to social media and just be. Spend time intentionally with my kids, read a book instead of choosing to consume on social media and simply soak in life around me while my heart takes time to heal. So challenge accepted. The Lord put it on my heart and in all honesty, I don't miss it. I've needed this. The break may be 2 weeks, it may be 6 months. I'm just here listening to the Lord and what He wants me to do.

Thank you for being here and loving our family. I'll be here sharing in the meantime.
xo

Taking the Weekend Off

May 23, 2020


I've never actually done this before where I say intentionally I am taking the weekend off social media. It's been on my heart to create more boundaries and margin in my time and how it's spent and I'm all consuming when it comes to instagram specifically and know I have an addictive problem there. For almost a year it's been eating at me and I've been feeling pulled to essentially "clock out" on weekends on social and just breathe.

I've built so much on instagram through both my personal account and through my wellness account and I really spend so much of my day responding to dms, scrolling to support my team, engaging in comments and scheduling out content and posts. It's a lot. And when it comes to wanting to scroll aimlessly for fun, it almost makes me nauseated and it's not fun. lol.

So this weekend I'm kicking it off! Right now it's 7:20am on Saturday morning, I've been up since 6am working strictly from my desktop doing back end details for my business, design projects and a few blog posts. I will check out from being in my office mid morning and spend the rest of the weekend with the family! We have game night with friends tonight, church tomorrow and Monday is memorial day so maybe a fun pool day all together. Who knows! I'm going to pull out my DSLR and document and hoping each Monday I can come back here for a "weekend dump" type post.

Overall, I'm feeling like this will be a good reset each weekend with honoring the sabbath, soaking in the moments and capturing life like a normal person not solely focuses on the perfect content to share with a following or friends online.

I hope you have a great weekend! Be back Monday for our weekend dump.

Homeschooling: The 411

May 11, 2020


When Andrew and I got married I thought it was weird he was homeschooled. I had already known that tidbit because I grew up around his family but in the back of my mind, it was something I would never do with our own kids and I made that vocal. I was a nanny when we first were married and spent a handful of years with that little one before moving on to focus on this blog, social media marketing and also working at our church doing social media and networking for them.

We started trying for a family and because I was able to work from home doing everything else, I left that job and still had no intentions of homeschooling. I like routine and I like having my agenda where kids don't mess with that all day. See: Control. I like control. lol.

Fast forward 4 years Emery was 3 and Hollyn was 1 and I started having the pull at my heart. It was around this time Andrew left Discount Tire and started working from home, too, so we were getting into a routine of life looked like working side by side, coparenting on a new level and soaking in our 3 kids. Drake was now in middle school and Andrew did pick up/drop off and it felt good.

About 6 months later I felt God calling me to talk to other homeschool families. Ask questions, seek counsel, learn their hearts and their why behind choosing that. Then it became blatantly obvious that's what I was meant to do. God was using these other families to speak into me and my life to know I am equipped. I am enough. I am capable. I just needed to show up everyday with willingness and an open heart to mold their hearts and minds. What a privilege.

So March of 2019 I did a learning assessment with Emery (here) and dug into curriculum research and landed on The Good and the Beautiful. Christian based school for my tiny loves and one that was raved about from other mamas I had been chatting with. I ordered Emery's Primer K and Level K items based on their shopping guide (here) so she slowly started easing into what school would look like.

Emery's birthday is October so she turned 5 in the Fall of 2019 and will be 6 when we officially start her with the state as a kindergartener. It didn't feel right officially starting her when she was still 4 in 2019. 


This last year we've loosely done "school" for the girls and each holiday or birthday was an excuse for Andrew and I to purchase some more items that would be benefiting for when the time comes. Books, games, learning activities - lots of things. I complied nearly all of it on my Amazon storefront, over here. This is gears towards just starting out and having items for both Emery and Hollyn so if you're shopping this could get you going with teachable activities even for 2 and 3 year olds.

Last month I did the assessment with Emery again and ordered some more Level K and Level 1 items for her to have ready to go in the fall. She and I will likely continue very loose learning all throughout summer because she loves school. She is all about getting dressed, bed made, breakfast done and teeth brushed so she can start school when the sun is up. Hollyn is going to be harder to keep focused and her attention but that's the beauty of homeschooling.

We have a few favorite tools we use and lots of questions that have come in so let me share as best I can as we are still just digging our hands into this.

FAQ - 

What does a normal day for you look like?
The burning question. Everyday is different at this point as far as school but the girls wake around 6:30 and stay in their rooms until their clock is green at 7am (here). Then make beds, get dressed, breakfast and brush teeth and hair until about 8:30am. Then we dig into whatever school looks like for the day. Sometimes that's from my bed or from the couch and other days it's the kitchen table or backyard.

How long do you do school each day?
Most of the time it's 1-2 hours. Hollyn will get through about 30 minutes in the morning before she's bored and needs to be active so then Emery and I keep going while Hollyn does playdough or blocks. We regroup and have lunch then do some more again in the afternoon but on average 2 hours/day both with me present and the girls by themselves.

What curriculum are you using?

Do you have an amazon storefront of the homeschool stuff you have?
Yes, it's linked here with items we have and things we'd like to get over time!

What kind of schedule do you follow?
We don't have a super structured one at this point. I like having an outline (here) but after using it for a week, it wasn't working for me because our days differ. Even as adults I don't like doing the same thing everyday if my mood or emotions are wacky so I've been learning to let go of control and lean into whatever each day brings us.

How do you get them to sit for school?
That's the beauty of homeschooling. There are days they just aren't having it and that's okay. We stop, go outside or find something else to do for a while and come back to it. Some days it's 15 minute blocks of time I get with focused attention and some days it's 2 hours and I'm the one saying it's time to stop. Some days we don't even get to school and tackle it another day or double up one day. It's all about grace and meeting your kids where they're at for learning. Emery is independent but Hollyn is all hands on deck. 

What do you find to be the most difficult/challenging aspect of homeschooling?
Letting go of my control. Working from home I like to have things picked up and organized before I even dig into my work for the day so knowing school stuff is scattered and displaced gets to me some days. Andrew does a great job reminding me to let them be kids and we do have some designated times throughout the day to tidy and then I feel like I can breathe again. lol! I also battle with the enemy and feeling like I'm not enough for them. Like I can't possibly educate them to their max and do this for 12 years (15 with Hollyn) but I can. That's where I have to come with my willingness and be ready for God to use me.

Do you do any bible study workbooks?
We use this (here) for the kids and walk through a story and talk through it each day. It has some questions they can understand and creates conversation with the girls. Here are some other books we love for the kids.

Do you continue with the homeschool basics during summer? Or are they off?
We will continue basics. Practicing writing, flash cards, learning apps and such. I like having the consistency so digging in full in the fall won't be such a shock then, too.

Do you know of a good program that's not faith based?
I do not because I was specifically looking for faith based on our search. As they get older, we will be looking to expand so I'll share as that time comes!

How many curriculums did you look at before deciding on TG&TB?
We didn't look at many. The families I talked to all recommended TG&TB so we felt confident in our decision using that one solely right now. As they get older, I've heard there are some better options for science and math so we will explore more then. 

Do you teach them or do they watch videos? I'm curious how homeschooling works.
Both, but mostly me at the stage they're at.  As they get older they will do a lot of computer based work and we throw in apps right now but it's mostly me teaching them their basics currently.


SYSTEMS - 
This took me a bit to figure out but we've done it, yay! I didn't quite know how to organize things without it being all tucked away and annoying to pull out each day but also being thought out so it's easy to grab and go. I have these bins from Michael's that are actually scrapbook bins and each of the girls has one with their names on it. Right now in Hollyn's we have her pre-k workbooks and some coloring items and in Emery's we have a chalkboard, white board, pencils, glue, scissors, crayons and markers.

The big ticket item you want to pick up are these bins from Target. I grabbed 3 which separates Emery's curriculum where one bin is all math, one bin is writing, english, reading, and the last bin I like to call our Busy Bin. It was tiles and templates, magnatiles, water wow books, stickers... really anything they can dig into without me needing to be accessible and eyes on them. We also have 3 sets of these bins for sensory play. Water beads, rice, kinetic sand... etc. I did also pick up these to go through their games and flash cards and better organize them.




RESOURCES - 
The Good & the Beautiful
Learning with Homer (app)
ABC Mouse (app)
@busytoddler
@homeschoolcommon
@madisonviningblog
@britthavens
@kindergartentoolkit
@chalkfullofdesign
@thevanillatulip
@natalieyoungblog
@danikurbat
@homeandhavencommunity
@the.five.girl.schoolhouse
@christybeasley
@teacherspayteachers
@gathre


I'm so beyond excited and humbled I am chosen to be their mama and to educate them. This is what motherhood to me looks like. School from my bed, school on Sunday afternoons, questions and problem solving, being and aid to their minds and their hearts. If it's tugging at you, ask questions.  Start by reading this book. Maybe this is for you, too.



Cinnamon Roll Round-Up

May 9, 2020


Cinnamon rolls! I'm no food blogger but I do have some good recipes up my sleeve from collecting over the years. Ever scroll Pinterest hoping for that epic pick but never know which one to try because they all look divine in the pictures? Yep, I've tried a handful and I'm sharing 2 of my favorites with you today.

This is the one I'm making nearly once a month for the kids to devour, for family members, events, birthdays... you name it. It's a bit tedious but tastes just like cinnabon so it's worth it. The batter will be shaggy and sticky like it says and a tad more ingredients you may not always have around but they're always in our home making it very easy to whip up.

Tip: double the frosting and a thin layer directly after taking them out of the oven to melt into the gaps and then slather it on after they've cooled a bit to enjoy.

I tried these on Easter this year for the first time from my friend, Brooke, and they were delicious!! They are so very similar to the above recipe with taste but much faster. Like 60 minutes start to finish whereas the above is nearly 5 hours. This doesn't show a frosting recipe but here is mine that's so yum - again, double it!

Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe:
  • 4oz cream cheese
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • pinch of salt


Overall, they are both in my back pocket/recipe canister in my kitchen and depending on time allotment determines which I grab at to make. I do love kneading the dough and making it a fun day with the girls so I'll most likely grab at the longer version most of the time.

Do you have a favorite cinnamon roll recipe? If you don't give one of these a try!

Meet Bear

April 23, 2020


In August we said goodbye to our sweet Brutus baby and it felt like we'd never welcome a new puppy into our home. Thinking about how emotional and heart breaking it was to say goodbye made me feel like I'd never want to experience that again. I remember coming home and immediately deep cleaning the house so I didn't see fur balls, I threw away his dog bed and toys and then made a box of keepsakes I wanted forever to cherish him. When the holidays rolled around I dug into that box and pulled out his footprint and added ribbon to then tie it on our Christmas tree but that's the extent of how I've dealt with his lose.

As a family, we talk about him often and we spend time looking at his pictures. I always feel his absence and the silence when I'm cooking and he's not laying with me in the kitchen. I still step out of my bed thinking he'll be sleeping right next to me and our first trip without him was surreal not needing to get a dog sitter. We all miss him dearly and the kids have asked almost weekly since August when we could get a puppy. 

Fast forward to March. Quarantine happened. All our trips we had planned over the next handful of months are cancelled and Andrew randomly made a comment "now would be a great time to get a puppy to train". Yep, that's true. Then the next day he made another comment "So have you looked?" and I knew exactly what he was talking about. A few hours later he comes in the office asking me what the plans were for the day to which I replied "we're getting a puppy".

A few hours later we were out on a farm playing with 8 little Great Pyrenees babies and I was snuggling one extra close. They were 8 weeks old and he was just shy of 9 pounds. He came home with us and we named him Bear.

The name Bear just felt fitting knowing our new baby will be nearly 110 pounds and gentle giant. He was soft and cuddly, the kids flipped out and were completely taken back by his cuteness and the house again has an underlying presence of fulfillment. He had one accident inside the house the day we brought him home, otherwise he's outside for potty breaks, sleeps through the night without a peep in his crate and he's been a dream. Just recently is when he actually started digging in the yard... but puppies will be puppies! Today, he's nearly 12 weeks old, 22 pounds and more than double the size from when we brought him home and it's just the beginning.

Brutus will never be replaced or forgotten. He was our first baby together before Andrew and I even got married. We had 9 special, monumental and meaningful years with him and I look back fondly on everything we experience with him in our home. Some days I ache for him so badly but seeing Bear and his quirks brings a joy to my heart and home and I'm grateful we said yes to him joining our family.


Mexico Trip | Nov 2019

January 30, 2020


written November 2019

We spent the first half of this week in Rocky Point, Mexico (Puerto Penacso) as it's one of our favorite places to escape to. We live in Arizona and this is essentially "Arizona's beach" being a 4 hour drive away. I had a lot of DM's when I shared we were headed down for a few days both of excitement from local AZ friends who go and others from people thinking we're crazy for visiting because they felt it was dangerous.

A little back story, I've been vacationing here since I was little and my parents have been since they were dating. I grew up with this being a regular place to get away to and when Andrew and I got married, it morphed into being somewhere we chose to go for trips, too. When coming down often, you actually get close to and get to know the community and people there since you visit the same places regularly.

Because a lot of the same questions come up often when we visit, I thought it would be good to pull those FAQs and have a hub for them to reference for people!




What documents do you need for traveling to Mexico since you drive?
Anyone who is 16 years or older will need a passport to travel across the border and back. With the kids, we take a photo copy of their birth certificates and that's all required for them but when Drake is 16, he will need a passport to be able to enter and exit the country.

What are your favorite places to visit?
  • Wrecked - for a really cool and chill vibe and where we go first when we get to town. We always grab a margarita and Vegas Bomb and the kids love listening to music, playing ping pong, and walking down on the beach since it's right by the water
  • La Curva - for the best breakfast you can imagine! They make legit Juevos Rancheros that are to die for. I used to ask Andrew to drive me down just for that meal when I was pregnant because they're that good. Also get the Especial Numero Uno for a really good breakfast margarita!
  • El Pollo Lucas - you get a whole chicken, rice, beans, salsa... all the fixings for like $20 and it's incredible. We do this one of the night's we're in town for dinner and everyone loves it.
  • Max's - for the most legit, over the top and killer bloody mary.


Where do you normally stay?
When we do a condo, we stay at Sonoran Sky. It's a beautiful resort that has a few pools, kid friendly, right on the beach and the rooms are perfect. They are set up with their own kitchen, laundry rooms, bedrooms and all so we bring food down with us so we eliminate eating out quite a bit and save money.

Is there a lot to do down there?
Relaxing!! I know some people love to adventure and do lots on vacations but we like to chill, relax, do nothing and have no agenda which is why we enjoy Rocky Point. Everything is slower paced and we don't actually make plans aside from where we're eating and if we're doing the beach or the resort pool. They do have ATVs to rent and parasailing... but we've never done that.