Friday, January 24, 2020

The Fish in the Toilet Story

** This is an incident that happened at our house last January. It showed up in my memories today, and I realized I wanted to share it here. **

It's story time folks. 

  Last Thursday night one of our Betta fish passed away. I was up most of the night with a sick kid and didn't bother to do anything with it until the next day. 
It was Alex's fish, so I had him and Emma flush it down the toilet. In typical preteen/teen fashion they started goofing off, being silly and absolutely ridiculous about it. Alex kept saying he didn't want to flush it, then Emma was joking that it didn't go down. Which then morphed into them continually 'pranking' each other about it coming back up in the toilet, bathtub, bathroom sink etc. 
Low and behold, who was watching them? Their newly potty trained, now traumatized baby sister, Anna. 

  Yep. She went from being all but 100% potty trained to absolutely positively NOT potty trained in about thirty seconds flat. She was also afraid to wash her hands and take a bath because the fish might come back up the drain and 'bite her on the butt'.
  I started pulling out all the tricks trying to remedy the situation. Lies, candy, bribery. At one point in time I tried to just place her on the toilet and it looked much like the old cartoons, when they try to bathe a cat! 😂🐈🚿 It. Was. Bad. 

  We finally got her to go number one on the potty again, but she refused to go number 2 because the fish might see. 🤷🤦‍♀️
We tried to tell her that we took the fish back out, but she wanted proof. 
We told her the fish was never really flushed, bit we had no fish to prove the fact. 

  After many days of discussion and many more accidents, we collectively decided (through three year old reasoning.) That the best approach was to 'remove' the fish from the pipes under the toilet, take it to the vet, (the same vet that our dog sees, per Anna's instructions.) And bring it back home after it is 'all better', as proof that it's 'all better'. Super Dad to the rescue. 

  I'lll be the first to say that I'm not one to play along with little kids' whims, but this was fear. Real fear. 
She gave her daddy special instructions on the pipe that she thought the fish was hiding in, the 'little baby pipe' in case anyone wanted to know. As well as gave him a description of the fish in case any other fishes were in the pipes as well, 'Him's has black hair.'

  My husband just sent me this picture asking if it is close enough to the original fish, and is on his way home with our now revived miracle fish. While we all pray that this is enough proof for her to get past the toilet fear. 😌

Myself, my close friend and the kids have been laying the ground work all day to make this as smooth of a transition as possible. I also may have promised to buy her a new baby doll if she starts going number two in the potty again. Desparate times my friends, desperate times. 

  We have learned three things this week.

1. Older kids are fun, yet highly overrated.

2. There isn't much that two desperate parents won't do to help potty train their kiddo. Especially their last one. 

3. To never underestimate the determination of a strong willed and frightened child.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Debt Free Chicken Wings

 Let's talk about debt for a minute.
 We have made our fair share of mistakes with money in the past; from owning too much house for our income, credit cards, not budgeting, multiple vehicle payments, the list goes on. We even did the really dumb things like financing meat and fitness equipment. We have joked that the only debt mistakes we didn't make were student loans and time shares.
  When we started on our debt free journey and worked to change our habits, and dig ourselves out of the debt we had created for ourselves, we all had to make some sacrafices. 

  One thing that hit my husband hard was chicken wings. 
  Yes, really.
  He loves chicken wings, always has and probably always will. During baby step 2, he decided to give up chicken wings. This was not an easy thing for him to do. However, when he saw how expensive they were, and how fast it adds up, he was usually happy to skip them. He still had his moments though, one Friday evening a little over half way through our journey, he proclaimed 'When we are debt free, I'm ordering wings whenever I want.'
And I said. "So basically you want 'debt free chicken wings?'"
To which he replied. 'Yes, when we are done, I will have my debt free chicken wings whenever I want and I won't feel bad. Because it's a luxury, and we will have earned it. 

  Guys, he takes his chicken wings very seriously. The very day we paid off our last date we ordered pizza to celebrate and he brought home three kinds of wings! 
  It's been almost three years since we finished baby step 2, and he almost always orders chicken wings. He proudly brings them home and chows them down. I have not once ever said a word about him ordering wings since finishing step 2. Because everyone needs that one thing that they can just have after finishing that big step. Now, I just secretly smile remembering that conversation every single time I see him add wings to our pizza order. It's a good memory, of days and debt that have 'gone bye'. 
*See what I did there?*

  Friends, temporarily giving something up to reach a goal that will forever change your life will always be 100% worth it in the end. 

  So tell me, what is you one thing you are giving up to make your life better in the long run? 

What's your 'debt free chicken wing'?

Happy Saturday!

Sunday, November 17, 2019

9 Random Facts About Me (Confessions of a Homeschool Mom)

For those of you who keep commenting that you think I have it all put together. 
Here are a few random things that I feel you should know.

1. I'm a recovering Supermom. Don't believe me? You should read my blog. Google tinyhousehomeschoollife, find the blog and then search postpartum anxiety. You can read all about how and when my entire self worth as a person crumbled and I had to learn to rely on God, my family and my friends just to get through the day.

2. My house used to be spotless on the daily. One downsize into a 100yr old renovation with zero closets, a fourth kid and a whole lot of life later....and we try but it's far from spotless. I supposed I could spend all of my time cleaning and it would look nice, but we'd have no life. I like to think they won't remember the clutter in the corners. 

3. I have not worked out consistently in a long time. Yes, I used to be that annoyingly fit person, I lost 90+ lbs, trained for a half marathon, wore a size 2 and assumed I'd stay that way for the rest of my life. Yeah, life happens and I'm not in that place mentally, physically or emotionally. I'm not sure I'll ever be back in that place, or that I should ever want to be. I do plan to take more time focusing on my fitness this next year. It's not easy adding one more thing back in, especially when I'm not willing to drop any of my other priorities or compromise my health. I'm not going to say I'm unhealthy right now, but I will say I need to work on my strength and fitness level. 

4. Homeschooling and raising four kids is wickedly hard and majorly time consuming. It's exhausting guys! I'd be lying if I didn't confess to considering alternative options from time to time. I love being with and teaching my children daily...but it means I'm with my children daily. It can be a lot, especially when you want to do it right, and send some very prepared and capable adults out into the world. Sometimes it is all we get done. 

5. I love to cook and serve healthy foods for my family, but sometimes life takes over and the focus is on filling bellies. Whether it be by a compromise in what meals I'm cooking or a run through a fast food place. It is how it is right now and that's ok. I push vitamins, vegetables and fruit when I can. Fun fact, I've ruined more meals in the last two years than I think I have in my entire adult life. 

6. I sometimes forget to take care of my husband. We've been married 18 years and together for almost 20. We own a business together, have four kids and life...and in the midst of it I sometimes forget about him. Seriously. Last Sunday I went to Chipotle after church for lunch and totally forgot to order his food. Thankfully one of the kids reminded me once we got back in the van or I would have went home without food for him. I truly love him and do not mean to forget about him. This goes both ways right now, he has forgotten I'm allergic to chicken(It's a new allergy) and brought me a chicken sandwich.(It used to be my favorite thing to eat.)
 It's just the season we are in, it will get better as the kids get older. 

7. Twice a week there is a pile of clean laundry so tall if it fell over it might hurt someone. My husband refers to it as the laundry monster. I have tried many things to keep it under control and folded daily, but it just hasn't worked out. So I have resorted to throwing a 'folding party' twice a week. I turn on a show, put it all in the living room and fold every single piece and match every sock. Then I lovingly call out (I yell) this phrase...'If you live in this house, come put your own clothes away!'. Interestingly enough, my husband started putting his own clothes away after I started doing this. I didn't bother to tell him I only meant the kids, and just went with it. 😂

8. I wrote all of these with my feet propped up after a day of school...while my children are cleaning, doing their daily chores. After school is done I need one full hour before I can address any of their questions/wants/needs. I am an introverted extrovert, I need my down time. 

9. Sometime I forget to take care of myself. I've been known to order a meal at a fast food drive thru and forget to order food for myself. I have also showered on a Monday night and not had a moment to take another one until Saturday morning. This wasn't with a baby in the house, it was three weeks ago. Sometimes I forget to drink water and have four cups of coffee throughout the day instead. At least two of them are decaf, I like to think that makes it a little better. 

Why did I type all of these random facts about myself? Because I NEVER want my life to be a stumbling block to anyone else. I fail every single day and it's by the grace of God that I'm still here raising these four crazy kiddos while trying not to forget about my husband. 
All of this being said, I'm not perfect, no one is! If you are struggling in life and need someone to remind you it's okay to struggle, call me. I promise I will have a reason for you to feel better about yourself. We need to band together to help each other, not just assume someone has it all together. Satan loves for us to compare and assume, and isolation is his biggest tool of destruction for women! Don't give him the satisfaction. 


Monday, July 15, 2019

Bug Bite Relief Roller (Essential Oils Recipe)

Last fall I discovered essential oils and how beneficial they can be for my family and our health!

One recipe that has come in handy this summer is this bug bite relief roller. I have been selling them, but I also figured it wouldn't hurt to share the recipe with others who already use oils regularly.

We have only used it a few times, but others have said they like using it for relief of pain and itching after being bitten by bugs. The best part? It smells like peppermint patties!

*While oils are a wonderful took to use to support your health. There are safe and unsafe ways to use them. You should always read the dilution recommendations for oils. As well as use them sparingly with children under the age of ten, until you know how the child will react. 
I have made this roller with children and adults in mind. It is diluted enough for children under ten, but should not be used(or used with extreme caution) on children under two. 

Bug Bite Relief Roller Recipe

This recipe is for a 10ml roller bottle
I used fractionated coconut oil for the carrier oil.

10 drops tea tree oil
6 drops peppermint oil
6 drops lavender oil
6 drops frankincense oil
3 drops copaiba oil

My son has used this for bug bites and was surprised how quickly it helped the itching. I also tried it recently and was happy with how quickly the itching stopped and the swelling went down.

I personally use only Young Living Essential Oils. I realize not everyone uses Young Living, and I can not determine how other brands of oils would work with this recipe, not all oils are created equal.

If you use this oil recipe and it works well for your family, I'd love to hear about it. Leave a comment, drop me an email, or leave a message on the fb page. :)

I also have these rollers available for purchase, $10 a roller. They last a long time.


Saturday, August 11, 2018

10 Steps To Taking a Relaxing Mom Bath *Humor Edition*

 I love taking baths. They are an essential tool in my busy mom life!
 I used to be a shower person, and I still am to an extent. In recent years I have found that a good soak in the tub can work wonders on my mood, it helps with sore muscles (Thank you T-TAPP boot camp!), stress, anxiety and my arthritis pain too! In all honesty it is my time to decompress after being with the kids all day, every day.
I absolutely love being a homeschooling Mama to four awesome kids, but it can be mentally and physically exhausting.

 I try to take a soak 2-4 nights a week. If I'm having an arthritis flare, it's even more often than that. You would think this amount of repetition would make it painfully simple for the kids to understand that Mom is taking a bath, all other things can wait fifteen minutes or at least be redirected to Dad until further notice. 

Nope. Nada. Not happening. 

We only have one bathroom in our house, so I tend to not lock the door while I'm actually in the tub. I lock it before I get in and after getting out. I do it in case of urgent needs or emergencies etc.

It has come to my attention that my children do not know the difference between urgent needs vs. totally unnecessary whims. 

 I've been keeping count and on average I am interrupted no less than six times per bath! SIX! How many times do they go to their Dad? Zero. Zero times. 

 Upon further thoughts on this topic and the sheer mass and absurdity of the interruptions, I decided to mentally keep track of my interactions with my children while taking a bath and then relay a sampling of them to you. Because we all could use a little more humor in our lives. Plus if we are being honest, this happens at your house too. 

So I present you with my typical bath time 'routine'.

Step 1
  Place tired, freshly bathed, milk cup holding, blanket snuggled toddler up with an episode of Doc McStuffins on a tablet, on the couch near Dad. Announce to my husband that I'm taking a bath. Tell the children I am taking a bath. 

Step 2
  Grab my towel and favorite pajamas. Wait outside bathroom for the traffic jam of kids who can't wait fifteen minites to go. 

Step 3
 Remove toys, and wet wash clothes from tub. Run the hottest water possible into the tub.
 I do this for two reasons.
 Reason one; I am usually the last one to bathe and the hot water tank is typically tapped out by now. 
 Reason two; because the tub never stays hot long enough and non dissolved Epsom salts are not your friend!

Step 4
  Add Epsom salts and turn on favorite worship music on my phone. My phone automatically starts playing The Greatest Showman sound track, because one of the kids was borrowing my phone. Switch music to Lauren Daigle.

Step 5
  Strip down, avoid mirror (I've had four kids after all) and climb into tub.

  Child knocks on door, interruption one. 
 It's Addison(age 7) she enters the bathroom because she has to pee. I remind her she just went pee, but she has to go again anyway. She turns down the music because it keeps her from being able to go...makes perfect sense. 

Still sitting on potty, 'Mom, what are you doing?'

Me: 'I'm shoveling snow. Why? What does it look like I'm doing?'

Addison: *giggles* 'Oh. I thought you were taking a bath. I thought it was summertime, I didn't see snow?'
*All sarcasm is lost on this one.*

Me: 'Yes, I'm taking a bath. But you already knew that and probably did not need to ask.
Are you done yet? Please go finish your evening chore.'

Addison: *Washing hands painfully slow, asks five more questions and comments ranging from why the sky is blue to how babies are born. I politely suggest she go ask her father. She finally starts to leave,
'Do you want me to keep you company? Do you want me to sing you a song? Are you lonely? I'm gonna miss you!'

Step 6
  Soap up wash cloth, shave legs above the shins for the first time in longer than I care to admit, and wash body. 

Someone stands outside the bathroom door, doing a rather loud, completely  believable cry.
Interruption two. 
I yell through the door and ask if someone is bleeding. 

'Huh Mom? What? Do you need me? Did you miss me?'... It's Addison again. 

After reassuring her that I promise I'm not lonely, and as long as no one is hurt I'm good for her to leave. 

She leaves, but leaves the door cracked 2.5 inches. *Sigh*

Ten second after Addison leaves, Emma (age 10) appears at the door. Knock, knock...'It's me Emma, I figured you would shut the door for your bath?'

She is doing her kitchen chore, 'Mom, how do you get the lid off of this cup. It is on really tight.'
Me- 'There are two very strong and able-bodied men in the living room.'

Emma: 'I already asked Alex (13), he said it was too tight, Dad said he couldn't because of the tendonitis in his arm.'

Emma hands the cup into the bath, I open it in .5 seconds. 

'Wow Mom! How did you do that?!'

Me- 'Magic mom powers.' *hint of sarcasm*
Emma leaves, actually closing the door.
That's the end of interruption number three.

Step 7
  I attempt to listen to music(at it's still lowered volume) and think calm thoughts. Twelve seconds later...
I hear a scratching  and meows at the bathroom door. Ah yes, interruption number four (Anna, age 2) has shown up right on time. 

Anna: 'Mommy, I WANT you! Meow! Mommy I NEED you!' Scratching. 

Me: Silently praising God that the toddler lock is still on the doorknob. 'Why do you need me?'
Anna: 'Doc turned off. I need Doc.'

Deep breaths, with the mental image of her getting up from near her father and walking past three other capable people in search of me. I remind her that Daddy is home and can help.
She mumbles through the door and walks off, meowing. 

Forty-five seconds later, Knock knock. 

It's Addison...again.

Number five.
She wants to make sure I don't actually miss her. Comes into the bathroom and makes herself comfy on the toilet lid.

'Mom, can I get on my tablet? I did my chore.'

Me: 'Yes, put PJs on first.'

Thinking to self. This is great, she will go and watch a show!

She decides to hang out for a few. She is writing a note on the mirror, so I can read it; in case I get lonely and want something to read. Also in case I might forget about her in the whole fifteen minutes of my bath.
She opens the curtains and insists I should read the note, so she can see the surprise on my face. 

Me: 'Addison'

Addison: 'Yes, Mommy?' *doe eyed*

Me: Cringing from guilt before even opening my mouth. 'Get out.'

Addison: 'Won't you miss me? Will you be lonely? Do you want me to tell you a story? Do you want to tell me a story? Can we have ice cream for a snack?

*Slowly leaving room and sticking her face in the crack as it closes.*

'Bye Mom, I'll miss you, I can stay if you want. I love you!'

Walks away leaving door cracked 2.5 inches. Every single time.

Interruption number six. 
  Alex (age 13) sees door is cracked and assumes no one is in the bathroom. Whips open door.(Yes, I'm smart enough to shut the shower curtain while bathing.)
Alex: ' Oops, sorry Mom. Didn't know you were in here. Hey?! Why don't you shut the door so people know to knock?'

Me: 'That's a really good idea. I'll have to remember that in the future. I'll be done soon.'

Alex: 'Ok. Hey. Since you aren't busy I have some questions about co-op, is there going to be...'

Me: cutting him off. 'Get out.'

Alex: 'But...'

Me: 'Unless you want me to come in and ask you questions while you shower, get out.'


He is gone.

Step 8
  Having lost all hope of having a relaxing soak in the tub, I release the tub plug and admit defeat. I Climb from the tub to find my towel has been used to dry someone's hands and my clean clothes have been trampled, I lock the door.

Vowing to never leave it unlocked again.

Then I hear a knock knock on the door and a 'Hey, why's the door locked?' from Addison. 
Step 9
  I emerge from the bathroom 17 minutes after entering to find everyone happily engrossed  in other things. They don't need me anymore, I'm clearly available to help them now.
Anna is passed out cold on the recliner. 

 I walk into the living room and my husband looks up from the movie he has been watching uninterrupted and asks, 'How was your bath?'

Maybe yoga would be more relaxing?

Step 10
Briefly consider running away to a deserted island and then secretly admit that I would miss them, plus the art work here is priceless! 



Friday, March 16, 2018

Public Speaking? | How to Adult Without Debt Blog Announcement

Recently, I was given an amazing opportunity to talk with some really cool teens about life, God, money and debt. 

This was the first time I had ever been asked to speak about our life story and how debt can make or break God's plans for your life. To be honest I almost turned it down. What's so important about our little story (Which is so much like everyone else's story.) that would matter to anyone? Maybe nothing, but I'm willing to talk about it, if people want to listen.

 So, I put together a slightly haphazard presentation, resisted the urge to vomit and made myself stay in that class room with those young adults, despite my urge to run away and hide behind my computer screen and blogger profile. I stayed until all the jitters passed and we got down to a real conversation about life. I've never been more thankful for my notes and bullet points. I lost my place and said 'Ummm' way too many times, and I probably had a bit more fun than they did. Truth be told they probably think I'm a few fries short of a happy meal. 

 I am so blessed humbled to hear and see a group of young adults open up and tell me what they think about life and how they feel, and to see their brains click and make the connection between the people in the Bible, today's society and how it all connects to them and their future selves.  

These kids have some big thoughts and they are going important places in life for God! 

People are forever talking down to and about our young adults of this generation as being worthless, unintelligent and disconnected from the real world. It probably is true to some extent, because that is what the majority of society has been speaking into them for the last couple of generations!
 However, there are so many of them out there who really want to do this thing called 'Adulting' the right way! 

 Just maybe we should stop talking about them and start talking to them about some REALLY BIG and HARD topics. Let's do it now before they are out in the world floundering around.
Is it possible to find your calling at 32? Because I've never had so much fun and felt so rewarded with anything other than being a homeschooling mom and wife.


After praying about this topic for a people of time, I decided to start a resource for blog for teens and young adult. It is called 'How to Adult Without Debt'. There is also a facebook page in the works. 
Please be patient with me while I work toward trying to spend more time here on this blog and on the new one as well. 

Monday, March 5, 2018

Life With Toddlers

 I realized this month that we are in that phase of life with a two year old when I don't take a lot of pictures. There are usually loads of pictures from birth until eighteen months, then a huge lack of them until sometime shortly after turning three.
   In the past I used to feel really bad about this, then I realized it has happened with each little one. I don't snap a lot if pictures because my hands are full and I'm in the thick of it with them, running along behind them with a blanket, a sippy, snacks and lot of wipes!

  Toddlers are excited, full of wonder, always sticky, super smart, and running full speed ahead toward whatever the next new adventure may be. It is fun, surprising, joyful and even down right exhausting for mothers, fathers, and even big siblings.

  It's no wonder these elusive creatures are not documented as much as their infant counter parts. Sometimes it is not for a lack of trying to take a picture, they all turn out blurry!

  While this isn't my favorite stage, I definitely wouldn't trade it. Because in the blink of an eye she will be a real true big kid, ready to take on the world with her brother and sisters.

  Right now she is learning about the world through us, she's testing her boundaries, she's learning how to push mommy's buttons, and she's learning how to care for others and be loved. 

'I'm Captain Mickey!'
  Last night at dinner she told Daddy and I thank you for dinner. The day before, she hugged me and told me she loved me.

  Toddlers are such awesome little people. Although, very difficult to capture on film!

  I know now, after the first three, that we'll eventually emerge from this stage. There will be more pictures, more calm and less running with scissors. She will tie her own shoes, use the potty alone and think at least twice before barreling into the next new (usually dangerous) adventure.

  I absolutely love watching her grow and learn. You can literally see them processing life and their brains growing, making new connections. It happens right before your eyes. I don't want to miss a moment of it. 
  So the next year or so, I'll be soaking up this little ball of energy and love, taking mental pictures instead if real ones.
  Feeding her knowledge, love and hopefully a few green vegetables.


Monday, February 26, 2018

The Year Without a Purchase ~ Book Review

The Year without a Purchase: One Family's Quest to Stop Shopping and Start Connecting

  In January I mentioned giving myself a book challenge to read one book each month. I did great with this challenge in the first few weeks of January, finished my first book on less than a week and started the next one. Then I came down with the flu, along with the rest of the family. Reading was the last thing on my mind. I'm finally starting to feel better, and remembered that I gave myself some goals for the year. It was time to stick to them!
I decided that making a book review on each book I finish would be a good way to keep myself accountable. (Let's see how well I stick to this.)


  Book #1 was a super quick read, mainly because it was so real. I love down to earth and real life, and this book hits you in all the feels for that. I audibly laughed out loud on more than one occasion while reading 'The Year Without a Purchase'.(Affiliate link)

  It is about a typical American family ( A husband and wife with two young kids) who decided to go one entire year without making a single purchase, food not included.

  The author breaks the book up with many moments of real life hilarity. Let's be honest, saving money with a no spend challenge can get a little messy from time to time. Especially when we do not do our best to be prepared.

  One of the things that really hit home for me with this book was the fact that this family did not do this challenge out of financial necessity, they did it for their spiritual health. The financial benefit was just a bonus and an exercise in frugality. They felt they had fallen into the habit of spending money without a purpose and wanted to come back to their real purpose in life, their focus on God. 

  They wanted to learn how to be 'In the world but not of it'. (A topic I often ponder and tend to struggle with.)

  They decided to figure out what exactly was a need for them, only on the most extreme level. As a whole, our society is very confused on the topic of need vs want. Too many wants have become needs, while the majority of the world struggles to fulfill their basic daily needs.
  Don't get me wrong, this book was clearly not written to induce guilt. It did however help to shed a light on how to make an impact on your world from where you are right now. It gives hands and feet to the budgeting aspect of giving. It shows you how one family made some small and yet drastic changes to their daily lives to be able to give more to others in need.

  I think the best part of this book was the fact that they were very real and raw about their feelings through the whole process. Dustin and I have done 'no spend' challenges before and it can be very difficult and brings out many unexpected emotions. It is very revealing of who you are as a person.

  If you are looking for a quick and entertaining, yet heart searching book to read, I highly recommend reading 'The Year Without a Purchase'.


Monday, February 19, 2018

I think I may have a seed buying problem...

 No automatic alt text available.

  Actually this is what has accumulated over the last few years. Each year we planned to start the garden and it fell through for one reason or another. Yet, each year I purchased a few(or many) in anticipation of starting the garden.
  I grabbed a few today, then came home to gather and sort the rest. There were a few more than I thought. Oops! I'm calling it long term savvy frugal garden preparation. 😉😊😎

I still need a few more though. It's a sickness!🌱

 I grew up on  farm and I guess having sees around is kind of part of who I am. The feeling of running out of seeds to plant is similar to the thought of not having any extra food in the pantry or money in the emergency fund. Yep it's that important.

Now to start laying out the plans for the new beds we need to build. We are open to any and all suggestions in that department. We will be building raised beds, a new things for us. We have also been discussing giving straw bale planting a try, at least for a couple things.

 I already started me medicine and herb garden area last fall. That will be expanded this year as well.

Who else is deep in garden planning?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

New Additions! Operation Homestead 2018! *Video at bottom of post*

 At our old house I had attempted to start a homestead of sorts. With so many little ones in the house it quickly became too much for me. I had to let it go for a season.
Now we are more than settled into our new house, our business is under way and the kids aren't all as little as they used to be. It's time to restart 'Operation Homestead'!

 Dustin and I had already been discussing building the garden beds and possibly getting chickens and rabbits this year. Then a fellow homeschool family decided to incubate some eggs for a science project. They live in town and can't keep more than a few chickens, I was more than happy to take them off her hands.  

  The oldest two children remember having chicks and chickens, but the younger two have never experienced it. They are so excited for this brand new experience! We brought them home a few hours ago and the joy is unreal. :)

   Dustin told Anna (2) that we got the chicks so we can have fresh eggs. She has since been telling them to 'Get comfy, cook eggs!' and keeps asking them 'Where's you Mama at?'
She asked me 'Where's their Mama at?' I told her she was their Mama now. She likes that idea. 

  Everyone is very excited to start this new step in our journey. I have missed having 'farm' animals around, gardening and tending to a mini farm/homestead are two things that bring me great joy.
From a homeschooling standpoint, this offers all kinds of opportunities for real life, hands on, science education. It also teaches them the value of hard work and the enjoyment of the rewards of caring for another living thing. 


 Plus this has brought a fun new thing to brighten our days after having not so great of a start to the year. Between sickness, cold and snow, it has been a long winter. Everyone was more than ready for a glimpse of life to prove that spring will eventually arrive. This will serve as a wonderful distraction from the greyness outside.


Friday, January 19, 2018

2017-18 Spring Semester Homeschool Plan

  Yay! We did it! We are half way through the school year!
*Insert shouts of JOY here!*
  We took a longer Winter break than planned, due to sickness.  That was not fun. We had one good week of school, and then more sickness. My hopes and dreams of being out of school 'on time' are quickly slipping from my grasps. *Dramatic crying*

*Then I remember!*

  That's ok. This happens every year, that's why I used my brain powers for good, way back in August, I padded our schedule with time off for the unexpected. Homeschooling comes with many perks, this is one of them. 

*Gives self pat on back, moves forward with life, coffee in hand.☕*

As with every year, we reevaluate at the half way point.

What's working?

What isn't?

What's behind?

What's ahead?

Who's struggling with a certain subject/curriculum?

Who's not happy with their school?

  Yes, I let my children voice their opinion in their education. I always listen, and take action where genuinely warranted.
  This year has been mostly good, the core subjects have been working fairly well. It took a few years to find the ones that work best for us.
  Only one major change needed to take place with the older two, they hated their reading program.   They stuck it out through the first half of the year, upon my request. They really did give it the good homeschooler try. I have spent many years cultivating a love of reading in my children. If they both voice complaints on an ongoing basis, then I listen. I'm not going to push a curriculum on them that might affect their love of learning. (Yes, there are many times they must just do what is difficult. This went beyond something being difficult.) It quickly came to my attention that this reading curriculum was not going to work for us.

A sample of Alex's reading.
   We decided to go back to the guidelines we were following last year. They are working through a comprehension book and reading from various titles pre-approved by me. After each book is finished, they have to give a written book report, make a project to reflect what they have learned or give a narrative to me in great detail. They both love doing reading this way, and I find they retain a lot more of what they are reading. 

  Alex started back to school reading "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (The Chronicles of Narnia)", Emma is reading Little Women.

  Other than the reading changes, the older two are sticking to what we started with at the beginning of this school year. We are still using Saxon Math, Easy Grammar, Sequential Spelling, and a variety of other curriculums, programs and resources. 

  Alex decided that he wanted to pick up a second science curriculum along with the one he was already using. He is using Abeka science(A half year course) and Apologia Anatomy.
  Emma started her Abeka science and is also studying a second science topic. 
A sample of Emma's reading.
 Addison is doing really well with everything we chose for her this year. She finished her last math curriculum, right before winter break. I know which one I would like to switch to next, but I am waiting until she has done a little more of Life of Fred. We do Life of Fred in spurts at our house. The kids tend to get bored with it after a certain amount of time, then we switch back to a more traditional math curriculum.  I do love how much they grow in their problem solving abilities while using LOF.
She is also having fun playing Prodigy Math.

  Addison also switched away from her reading program, she had a huge jump in her reading abilities and surpassed the level we were using. She is now working her way through the entire Magic Tree House series and reading a large variety of books from our personal library, and the public library. 
She is also doing a daily comprehension book, spelling with site words workbook, science nature study, animal study and a few other items.
(If people are interest in a full comprehensive list of how we structure our school, I would be happy to make another post. :) )
A sample of Addison's work.

  Together, we are doing geography, history, bible, art and a read aloud. Our current read aloud is The Long Winter.
  As I mentioned in another post  I have been known to drop the ball with planning our history curriculum. To save money this school year I decided to put together our own history. It's great when I am on the ball with planning. It's not so great when life happens and I fall behind. (The next time I do this I will plan the entire year, before the year begins. I planned the year almost completely with every other subject. I was leaving some wiggle room with the history, it did not work in my favor.) I am sitting down now to finish planning the rest of the year. No more excuses for this Mama getting behind on that.
Although, even when I am not on the ball the older two kids are always reading at least one nonfiction history book, whether it be a broad overview of time, a biography or a specific subject. (They are really enjoying the Who Was Book Series.)

  I typically use Mystery of History and I might switch back to it next school year. It really is easier for me to be able to fall back on a preset plan. Hence the need for me to plan farther in advance. A friend sent me her study guide for history for her kids. She is one of those rock star moms who has her children's entire education plans written out in great detail. I will probably use that as a loose guideline for us to follow the rest of this school year.

  I am becoming aware of the areas that I am lacking as a educator, and trying to remedy them. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, we just have to learn how to improve upon them, or work around them. Plus I really feel like I need all of my ducks in a row, because high school is coming.

   This strikes great fear in me. Mainly because it is the unknown. Thankfully, I have an amazing group of ladies at co-op who have gone before me. They speak of it like it is no big deal. We will be finding out for ourselves in a couple of years.

 Well, that is where we stand for this half of the year. I'm pleased with our progress in most areas. The kids are happy, yet challenged and life is moving forward.

Spring semester 2018 here we come! 
*Reaches for more coffee, and maybe some chocolate too.* 
**Clearly, homeschooling is not always a good influence on my yearly goals.**

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Budget Friendly Minimalist Makeup Routine

Let's talk about makeup! 

Way back before kids, I used to work in the type of job where your looks took you a long way. The hair, nails, makeup and clothes had to be on point. I didn't maintain that job for long, just long enough to know that it wasn't for me.
I am not much of a 'girly girl'. Spending hours on my appearance is not something that brings me joy. 
On the flip side, I do like to look presentable. I may be a busy and sometimes exhausted mother to many, but I don't like to look that way.

While I am blessed to be home with my kids, I do also run a business with my husband and manage our large, homeschooling family. I don't always know where the day may take me. It can start out being a quiet day of school at home, and quickly turn into a day of errands, with a business meeting, doctor appointment, and or playdate. 

I strive to look put together enough to seamlessly transition between whatever life might bring for the day. 

Do I always accomplish this? Nope, but I do like to think I manage to walk around not looking too disorganized. 

Below, you will find my personal thoughts and tips on my budget friendly, minimalist makeup routine. 

Are you ready? Here we go!

The Budget

 I use drug store makeup. It is mid range in quality and price. If I purchase a product of less quality, it breaks my face out. I try to walk the fine line between price and quality. Since I don't wear large quantities of makeup on a daily basis, I can afford to purchase a better quality product.

 I have added up the price for everything currently in my bag. It is roughly $50. (I will list all items with links below.) These items do not need replenished monthly, or all at once. The cost is broken up over the course of the year. I account for it in our monthly grocery budget. It is such a minimal monthly amount, it is barely noticeable.

The Products and Thoughts on My Personal Style

  I go for natural colors with my makeup. I'm not trying to look 'made up'. I just try look presentable and enhance what the good Lord gave me. :) I have a light complexion and colouring; Blue eyes, blonde hair and fair skin. My color choices reflect my personal colouring. I stick with beige, tan, pinks and small pops of color.

  I am not committed to any one brand or product. When I find a product that works for my complexion and budget, I stick with it. I've been using most of these products for at least five years.  




 Maybelline NY Nudes Eye shadow

I alternate between a neutral *white, tan, beige* eye shadow and the lavender. 

Why lavender? It makes my eyes pop. ;)  

MaybellineNY Purple Daze Eye shadow

I have only ever owned two eyelash curlers. They are an essential for me, but last forever. They are replaced when they break.



Burt's Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Shimmer, Peony

I wear the lip gloss most of the time. The lipstick is for specials occasions, meetings and date night.

     Burt's Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lipstick, Ruby Ripple

Burt's Bees lip balm is something I keep around all the time. I have one in my makeup bag, one in my purse, and on my desk. I don't even consider it makeup, It is an essential. Sometimes, I skip both of the items above and just use this.

Burt's Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm, Original Beeswax

Not pictured are 1-2 eyeliner pencils. They are so old I can't even read the labeling anymore. 



Minimalist Mindset


Minimalist tip. Set limits.

This bag is my limit. Your limit may be different. It might be smaller or larger than mine. It might be a drawer in your bathroom, or a set amount of time you allow yourself to get ready. 

For me, it is about space and time. If it doesn't fit in the bag or takes more than three to five minutes to doesn't fit in my life. It is outside of my personal minimalist limits.

One of the best things about minimalism, you set your own limits. Make it to fit your life and needs. :)  

While it may look like a lot, when I post it product by product, it really isn't that much. It all fits in this bag.

*Don't ask me where the bag is from. It was some freebee from back in my department store, high-end makeup days. I think it is from Clinique? **Shrugs shoulders.** *




1.  Black Mascara

 If you are trying to look less tired, use black mascara. It highlights your eyes, making them look more open.  

 2. Waterproof Mascara

If you are a busy active Mom, you need waterproof mascara. It saves you from having racoon eyes! The dark circles around the eyes caused by smeared make up. The point of make up for Moms is to make us appear less tired, and more put together. Trust me, go with the waterproof mascara.

3. Shimmer

I try to find a flattering eye shadow, with a bit of shimmer. It does a lot for your complexion and brightens your eyes. 

4. Nothing Heavy

This is my own personal rule. I don't like the feel of heavy, thick make up. If it feels heavy or thick, I have trouble focusing. Not sure how that is a thing, but it is for me. I do not wear any type of liquid foundation.

5. Ditch the Eyeliner 

 Last year, I stopped wearing eyeliner on a daily basis. It was frequently getting smeared and made my eyes itch. I also started to make me feel too 'made up.' 

6. Pick One

Keeping in lines with minimalism, I only 'go big' on one area at a time. If I do a color on my eyes, I wear lip gloss. If I wear lipstick, my eyes stay more natural. 

7. Hydrate, Eat Well, Rest & Exercise

While it is nice to have these products to help us look our best, it is not a replacement for taking care of yourself. 

Drink plenty of water.

Eat a well rounded, healthy diet. Vegetables, fruits, healthy carbs and protein are your friend.

Find out how much sleep your body needs, and strive to get it most nights. (I am a person who needs a minimum of 7 hours.)

Go for a walk and lift some heavy things! It doesn't take much to maintain good health. It goes a long way in helping you maintain a healthy glow. ;) 

8. Wash it Off

This is a throw back to your grandma's day. Never go to bed with your makeup on. It can be bad for your skin. I will confess that I do sometimes break this rule. I do try to wash it off more often than not. :) 






Well, there you have it. My budget friendly, minimalist make up routine. 

What's your minimalist make up routine?

Friday, January 12, 2018

7 Quick Takes! A Recap of Life in the Tiny House This Week! The Secrets Homeschoolers Keep, Mom Fail and Random Thoughts!

 It's Friday! We made it! Thank goodness. Because I spent part of the week asking what day it was. It was one of those weird, confusing catch up weeks. I think, mainly because it was our first official week back to life, post holidays and sickness. I felt like a deer caught in the headlights most of the week. 

1. New Year, New Curriculum.

 I am terrible at sticking to some really boring less exciting curriculums. If we get half way in and realize it isn't working for us, we change it. Thankfully, we have most of our core subjects nailed down. It is just a couple that keep getting shifted around. 

 I tried something new with our reading/comprehension at the beginning of the year. The older two did it, but hated it. I got them to stick to it for the first half of the year. When we were prepping to start back they voiced their dislike of that particular area. I mulled it over for about a week and agreed that they shouldn't have to do it, if they hated it that much. They love to read and they do read a good bit. (A large part of their curriculum is independent reading.) I did not want to start making them hate reading. Especially after all the years of encouraging it. Honestly, I should have just left well enough alone this year and stuck with what worked last year.
 I also switched Addison back to Life of Fred for math. She finished the math I had for her before Christmas. I know which one she will be switching to, but I feel like we need to take a side road and do some Fred. Fred is awesome. 

We are still struggling in the History department. Why? Because I dropped the ball. (Real life, moment.)  This happens with History and Science, more often than I would like to admit. I have not found a history program that truly fits for us yet. So, I build our own. When I'm on top of it, it is great. I can build a curriculum. I actually enjoy it.

 Then, life happens, and they run out of what I have planned for them, before I am done planning the next section. My goal for this year is to plan the whole year of history in advance. That is how we do most of our subjects. 

We have continued to shift to a more heavy Charlotte Mason approach to our schooling. Below is a small snippet of what they are currently reading. (This is not their full work load.)


2. It's not messy, it's 'school mode'!

I was texting my friend Sveta this week, when I should have been doing school with the little one. Yea, I was playing hooky. You caught me. Any-who, we were discussing what we had planned for the day, and what we had accomplished that day. 
I commented that my house was fairly clean (had laundry going, etc, etc, mom stuff). She commented that her house was not clean. Which made me giggle because her house is never dirty. She sends me a picture of her living room as proof. It looked almost exactly like my house, but with different children in it. 
We both agreed that our houses were not exactly dirty at that moment in time. We were just doing school. Once school is finished all of it gets tucked away for the day. Then normal house reappears. 
 We decided to call it 'School Mode'. 

It is almost impossible to homeschool and avoid the daily clutter explosion that happen while school is in session. I refuse to call it messy anymore. Because it is not an accurate representation of our life.

As proof, I'm showing you our house in 'School mode'. It is what it is for about 4-6 hours, then it gets put away for the day. 


The cardboard in the background is a project that was in the works. When you live in a little house, school happens everywhere.

3. Jarred Cactus?

 All of the kids were sick for a little over a week. It happened to fall on the first of the month, (When I typically shop for the month.) and during a snow storm with a cold snap of single digits.. I was more or less house bound. Not necessarily because of the snow. Although, I hate driving in the snow. It was because of the kids. 
 I was wondering how I was going to get to the store and manage to get the month worth of groceries with all these sick people.
 Then it occurred to me that between Amazon, Walmart and Sam's Club, I could order 80% of our pantry, household and grocery items without leaving the house. 
Our prime pantry box

I only had to go out once. Dustin brought home pizza on Friday after work. Emma and I loaded up in the van. We picked up our site-to-store order from Sam's, then popped into Aldi. Because of the storm we ended up having to stop at Kroger also. People in our area still function on 'Panic mentality' any time it snows. They buy all the milk, eggs and bread. 

 We were gone maybe 2.5 hours and it was a lot less stress for me.

 Emma and I like to cut up and have fun. We have this rather dry and almost mean sarcastic humor, that I do not allow her (or myself) to use on others. When we go out alone I turn her loose with it. It is very Lorelai and Rory. We even sometimes pick an accent and use it the entire time. 
 We can't help it, it is in our personality. If I don't let her get it out, she uses it at all the wrong times.    So, we came to an agreement that we can use it on each other at certain appointed times. Then we have to turn it off. Plus it teaches her how to control the sarcastic humor that she was born with. Something that I took a long time to learn. 

Something that caught our eye, While looking for a certain type of beans and attempting to use all of the words from different languages that we knew, in one sentence, while speaking in a British accent (I feel the need to mention that I had not had a lot of sleep.)...we found this. It is jarred, pickled? (I assume) cactus?!

I feel the need to try this in the near future! Maybe while we are studying deserts and cacti. Because who doesn't want to read about something rather different (At least to us. We live very far from a desert region. ;) ) and then you get to eat one?!


4. The part they don't tell you about homeschooling.

 I'm sure you have heard the jokes about homeschoolers never getting out of their pajamas. There is also the joke about how socially awkward we can be and the media always likes to toss around the 'socialization' scare tactic. 

 What most people don't realize is, we are typically just as busy as the rest of the world.  Between work, the chiropractor, the orthodontist, hair appointments, the dog, basketball, the library and co-op(That is not everywhere we went.) we left the house and were gone basically every day this week. 

We do a lot of 'car schooling'. This is what it looks like. Mom tip, always bring snacks and water! The toddler will act much less like a feral cat. 

5. Speaking of feral cats...

  I think I mentioned co-op started back up this week. We were all so read to go back. I was prepared and excited. Probably more than the kids. 
We get to co-op, unload the car and Anna decides to turn into a thrashing, screaming, psychopath. It was like giving a feral cat a bath most of the day. I have rarely been so embarrassed by one of my toddlers actions. It was terrible. I wasn't even able to help teach my class. We ended up wandering the halls, eating our lunch early, and I spent the better part of the day apologizing to everyone in our path. 
  After she went to bed last night, I was telling Dustin about our day. He pointed out the fact that she was still on steroids and meds. #facepalm Her crazy behavior makes a bit more sense now. Major mom fail. :( 

She isn't usually like that. It was so bad. So, on a positive note. This is how she normally looks and acts.

6. The mug that matches our house perfectly!

While our friend Laura was visiting recently. She told me about a mug that was in the works at our local pottery place.  She said it matched our house and life perfectly. I had to stop in to pick up a special order item that Laura made, later in the week. I happened to see the mug before it went in for its color dip and glaze. I put a hold on it and asked for it in blue and white. Rachel Shepard (I will be doing a feature on her soon.) made this one. She is one heck of a talented potter!  There are so many talented artists housed in this building. It is non profit and they do loads of ministry and work in our community. If you are interested in learning a new craft, supporting a local business and ministry or just purchasing a one of a kind piece of artwork to sip your morning coffee from...go visit The Potter's House!
The kids are taking classes there this month. I'm excited to watch and maybe get my hands dirty as well.


7.  Friday thoughts

 I feel like all of this post was about homeschooling and books. That's probably not what you might have been expecting today. This blog is about our lives and our lives encompass a large variety of topics. As life tends to go though, sometimes our lives get more focused on one topic than others. That is how life works. Part of being a part of our blogging life is coming along for the ride with us. We have been focusing on less media, less tv, less electronics etc. Which means more books and more quiet.
We have been doing lots of reading, writing, reflecting and making the right choices in our lives, business and homeschool. It's January, that's what it's all about. 
Dustin is working a lot. Works is going good. When he isn't working, he is spending time with us and or reading his Bible. 
I have been focusing on reading more, making the habit of exercise stick, spending more time with the kids, and making plans for the future of our lives, this blog and our business. We are starting to move into the next season of life with no babies, no debt and the ability to follow our dreams.

We are making the plans and taking the steps now, to make the next ten+ years pretty awesome.  


I'm kicking around the idea of doing a day in the life vlog once  month. As well as some tutorials. There are also plans for a room by room house tour. It has been so long since I vlogged and or even put my face in front of our youtube channel. It is like starting all over again with the butterflies and everything. 
There you go. That's why I haven't vlogged, I get camera shy. Plus the editing takes a while. I don't always have the time to take from my family.