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.

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.

The Good & the Beautiful
Learning with Homer (app)
ABC Mouse (app)

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!