Dec 31, 2017

Ditching The New Year Resolutions


It's that time of year when everyone is making new resolutions or even goals. There's nothing wrong with this but for me, these just don't work. I have so many things I want to work on and improve that it would take me an entire day to write it all out and set up plans to get there. Who has time for that? (especially with five kids in the house, six if you count my husband)

So, I say ditch the new year resolutions and try something new. Something easier, something that just might work better for you. I came across this idea a few years ago while scrolling through Facebook. I fell in love with it and decided that this is what I will be doing from now on. I still make goals and resolutions but I focus on this one thing.

Get on with it already, right? Well, that one thing is, a word. That's it, just one word to sum up what I would like the following year to be. This year that word for me is, intentional. Last year it was compassion, and the year before that was love.

This is how I come up with my word. I start to think about all the things I want to carry out in the following year. I can usually see a common theme going on. For example, this year I want to get serious about my health, I want to raise my kids better, get into God's word more, and the list goes on. The one word I kept thinking about in all of this was, intentional. I need to be intentional with my health, my kids, and my faith.

Focusing in on a word has been more achievable than trying to remember 1,000 different things I want to do in 2018. I just love this idea and plan to continue doing this throughout the years.

So, if you could pick one word for 2018, what would it be? Below I have some words to help you come up with your word for the year. I hope this helps!

Acceptance
Adventure
Beautify
Bravery
Believe
Charitable
Cheerful
compassion
discipline
Enjoyment
Empowering
Faith
Growth
Godliness
Honest
integrity
inspirational
Joyful
Love
Laugh
Motivate
Nurture
optimistic
Overcome
Positive
Peaceful
Quiet
Renew
Rest
spontaneous
Trust
Teachable
Useful
Victory
Worth
Yes
Zest

What is your 2018 word?







Dec 30, 2017

Best Baby Teether




As a mother of 5, there is one thing I am sure of, a teething baby is no fun!
Thankfully Raegan is not totally teething yet, but she loves to chew. While out Christmas shopping with my two oldest daughters, one of them came across this teether and gifted it to the baby.



This Nuby baby teether fits perfectly into her mouth. The teether has nice ridges to help massage those sore gums and comes in the cutest little container.




Do you have a favorite baby teether?

Dec 17, 2017

The Explorer Express | Christmas Light Viewing Fun


When I was a little girl I loved going to look at Christmas lights. All four of us kids would pile in the van all excited. My Dad would buy us all Happy Meals and we would head out to find the best lights. My Mom would play Christmas music and everyone would "oooh and aaah" over highly decorated houses.

Naturally, when I became a mother, I wanted to share this experience with my own children. Usually, we just hope in the vehicle and drive around. This year though, I wanted to make it extra special and start a new tradition.

I have watched some families on social media do something like this and call it the Minivan Express. Well, we don't drive a Minivan, we have a Ford Explorer. So, we decided to call it the Explorer Express! (It has a very nice ring to it)

The first thing I did was go and make tickets. I used Avery and it was very simple since they already have a ticket template. You can also Google "minivan express" and you will find printable tickets. You can also use canva like I did here.
Next I made a special treat to take along with us. This is very easy to make and so yummy. All you need is
  • popcorn.
  • white chocolate chips
  • m&ms
  • pretzles
  • Christmas sprinkles

You can find the full recipe here from Love Grows Wild.


Later that night I had the kids get into their pj's. We gave them each a ticket and explained what we would be doing. My husband was in the car already yelling out the window "tickets, tickets please!" The kids handed him their tickets and he yelled out "all aboard" as he honked the horn. The kids thought it was so funny. We turned on Christmas music and all sang songs as loud as we could. We made a stop midway through our adventure to get some hot chocolate. My husband turned on the hot chocolate song from the Polar Express and we all sang along to it. We all had such a great time together and can't wait to do it again in the years to come.


Do you do anything special when your family goes to look at Christmas lights?
You can see more pictures of our adventure over on my Instagram. Come follow me, and thanks for reading!



Dec 14, 2017

Alphabet Bingo


I was given the opportunity to review this Alphabet Bingo game from Timberdoodle.
My 4-year-old daughter, Haddy is learning her alphabet. I love hands-on learning materials that she can play with. I believe small children her age retain more information this way rather than reviewing flash cards. We do review flash cards, but I like that she can also do fun things with letters as well.

Alphabet Bingo comes with...





  • 6 Game Boards
  • 26 Alphabet Tokens
  • 72 Chips
  • 1 Game Bag
  • Instructions for Multiple Ways to Play


    The pieces are all very sturdy! This is important to me because preschoolers can be tough on things. I also appreciate the colorful and cute illustrations on the game boards as well as the alphabet tokens. Haddy really likes the owl picture.

    This game is very simple to play. In fact,  Haddy likes to play with it alone by trying to fill up her game board with all the chips. This game pairs well with the Learn and Draw Animal & Places workbook.
    Overall this a great easy to use piece that can easily be added into any homeschool routine. It requires minimal setup and clean up. The game is easily understood and very user-friendly for preschoolers. You can check out Alphabet Bingo here. Also, go check out Timberdooles PreK full curriculum kit.

    I made a YouTube video for this Alphabet Bingo game and how Haddy likes to play the game.


    Disclaimer: I recieved this product from Timberdoodle in exchange for my honest opinion.

  • Dec 8, 2017

    Easy Sensory Bin | Christmas Edition



    Haddy had so much fun with the fall sensory bin that I decided to make her a Christmas one. This was super easy to put together, and Haddy enjoyed helping me. Here is what you will need to make your own Easy Sensory Bin.
                
                                                                       
     
    a container
    rice
    red and green food coloring
    a small amount of water
    mini Christmas bows
    jingle bells
    some kind of "grabbers"



    I made this short video so you can watch and see how we put it all together.



    Both Brayden and Haddy have been playing with this bin since we made it. It helps to keep Haddy busy while I am working with the other kids. She likes to separate the bows from the bells and rehide everything in the rice when she is done. These easy sensory bins are not only entertaining but cheap to make and educational.

    I hope you enjoy it. Make sure to come back in January for another themed sensory bin!

    Dec 6, 2017

    Distraction Free




    I
    'm going to be completely transparent with you and let you in on a less flattering fact about myself.
    I spend too much time on my phone. So much so that I allow myself to be more focused on what is going on, on social media than in my own home.

    I
    admittedly lose my cool on my children when they try getting my attention when I am reading something on my phone.
    Sometimes I will hold a finger up indicating I need a minute or tell them to "hold on." I'm unproud of this. I am disappointed I have become that kind of mom. I feel I am failing my children and doing them a disservice by teaching them that my phone is more important than them. I am teaching them this by my actions and let's face it, actions speak louder than words.

    In efforts to correct my behavior, my husband and I decided to put away our phones this past Sunday.
    We let the family know they would not be able to get ahold of us so they wouldn't worry. We left our phones in our bedroom and enjoyed our day distraction free.                                                                              
    I could tell within an hour that the tone of our home was more pleasant. My husband and I were more attentive to the kids. Because of this, we were able to stop arguments from happening before it turned into kids yelling at one another and possibly having one throwing a fit on the floor. We talked more lovingly towards one another and were focused on conversations we had with our children. My mood all day was joyful. I wasn't comparing myself or family to anyone or anything. I didn't envy a vacation someone took or get angry over a political post. The day seemed to be longer and I found that I accomplished so much more than any given day when I had my phone on me.

    I was happy with myself and encouraged that I could be a better mom and wife.
    We plan to continue with having the phone free Sundays. In addition, I will be working on using my phone a lot less. I want to keep the focus on what is truly important.

    How do you limit your cell phone use?
    Any tips would be great!
                                                                        

    Nov 29, 2017

    20 Random Facts About Me


    I have been MIA from my blog over the last few weeks. Thanksgiving was a busy here for us and the kick start to holiday activities. I finally have some down time to write and decided to do something fun. So here are 20 random facts about me!




    1.  I don't like fruit. Not even juice. 
    2. I love chocolate.
    3. I wanted to be a storm chaser. 
    4. I was pregnant with my first child when I was 17.
    5. I got married at 17.
    6. I'm kind of obsessed with essential oils. 
    7. I never wanted kids when I was growing up.
    8. Once on a career test it said I should be a bus driver. 
    9. I hate matching up socks.
    10. I have my kids match up socks. hahaha. 
    11. I went to college for a year.
    12. I'm currently binge watching Full House.  
    13. I'd rather text than talk on the phone. 
    14. I hate needles. 
    15. I love Burt's Bee baby products.
    16. I never thought I would have a blog.
    17. I never planned to homeschool.
    18. I love being a housewife.
    19. I love to sing...in the car...by myself.
    20. It takes me forever to finish a book.

    Nov 14, 2017

    Draw and Learn Animal & Places Review



    I love anything that keeps my 4-year-old busy while I work with my older 3 children. When I saw this Draw & Learn activity book available for review, I knew I had to try it out and I was not disappointed.

    The book is huge and filled with beautiful colors and shapes. I would describe this book as a guided coloring book. The pages are filled with age-appropriate pictures that either need to be completed or colored. The directions are very easy to understand. It's a wonderful way to get children to think about details in pictures and be creative.







     






    My daughter loved the pages that asked her to draw a picture of her mommy and daddy. On those pages, we talked about facial features and expressions. We also talked a little bit about emotions.

    See activity book here

    The lesson possibilities with this book are endless. The pages with the fish can easily turn into a lesson about fish and where they live. You can talk about the seaweed, rocks, and sand that are on the bottom of lakes and oceans.



    This activity book is part of Timberdoodles Complete Homeschool Curriculum Kit for Pre-K. I give this activity book a 5-star rating. You can incorporate many different lessons with it or simply use it as is. Suggested ages are 3-6, but my 8-year-old son found a few pages he liked. The activity book is very affordable and you can also earn Doodle Dollars through the Timberdoodle website. 

    I did not receive payment for this review. All opinions are my own. If you liked this review and would like to see more, please use the links provided to view or purchase the book. This helps Timberdoodle know how much traffic they are receiving through my link. Thanks for helping me!
    Pre-K Curriculum Kit
    Draw + Learn Animals + Places 



    Nov 11, 2017

    How To Store Breast Milk

    I am very blessed to have an overflow of milk for my baby. I have so much that I am able to donate. If you follow me on Instagram you already know I am on exclusive pumping mom. In a day a can typically pump 64 to 74ounces. My baby only eats about 25 ounces a day.

    So I put together this video to show you what I do with all my extra milk. I hope this helps anyone who is needing some ideas on how they can store their milk. This is the best way that I know how to store breast milk. If you do something differently I would love to know what that is!
    Enjoy the video!

    Nov 3, 2017

    Homeschooling a Struggling Learner




    Homeschooling can be very rewarding for both the kids and myself. I get to see all those "aha" moments and share in their amazement when they learn new things. We get to spend some great time together and I would never trade it in for anything in the world.

    But, homeschooling can also be hard, especially if you have a child who struggles. My son is my struggling learner. He struggles with reading and math. Often times he gets frustrated during his lessons and cry. He gets very discouraged and second guesses himself making his lessons drag on for longer than they need to.

    As his Mother and teacher, I feel discouraged as well and second guess myself. Am I doing enough for him? Am I giving him a good education? What am I doing wrong? How can I do better? Having my son and myself being discouraged is a recipe for disaster.

    I have found a few things that work for us and I would like to share those things with you. I hope that you find my tips to be encouraging and helpful
    1.   Stay calm. Staying calm during those frustrating times will make things go much smoother for you and your child. I have made the mistake many times of not staying calm and that always makes the situation worse. I also feel terrible about myself afterward. So try taking a short break if you need it and go back to the lesson when you are calm. Your child may also need to take a break as well. 
    2. Try new things.
      If something seems to not be working or things just aren't "clicking" with your child, you may want to try something new. For my son, that was changing math curriculum. I also needed to add a few things into his lesson to assist him in understanding his work. 
    3. Take time off.
      Sometimes my son and I just needed a break. Instead of doing our usual lessons I would just read to him instead or let him go play outside. Skipping a day of lessons isn't going to ruin your child. I found it refreshing to take a day off. When we got back into his lessons the next day, he was more confident in himself.
       
    4.  Offer words of encouragement.
      This can go a long way. When my son is reading I say things like "good job, you got this, wow that was a hard word." My son smiles at me and finishes off his reading strong.
    5. All kids are different.
      Always remember that kids will learn at different paces. What works for one child will not always work for the other and that's okay! One reason I homeschool my son is that I know he doesn't fit in the typical box of learning. It takes him longer to learn things and he learns things in different ways. 
    6. Give grace.
      Give your child grace and yourself grace. If you have a bad day and end up losing your cool, give yourself some grace.


    Oct 29, 2017

    Not So Picture Perfect Family



    I love seeing posts with perfectly dressed kids all smiling inside a clean and organized home. I smile and think to myself, "oh how cute." Then I look up and see my 4yr old dressed in last years Christmas dress with jeggings under it. My son is wearing the same outfit he went to bed in, and my 2 oldest girls are in sweatpants with messy buns. Oh, and also my baby just pooped. My house is a mess with throw pillows on the floor leading to a blanket fort. I'm washing the same load of laundry for the 3rd time, and who left the milk out all morning?!

    That is what you can find on any typical Saturday in my house. Sometimes I feel like an awful mom for it. I beat myself up and start to compare myself with those seemingly perfect Instagram posts. I become depressed, overwhelmed, and a bit annoyed. 

    But then I take a step back. My 4yr old is proud of herself because she got dressed with no help. My son went to bed with that outfit on because he fell asleep in the living room watching a movie with his dad. My 2 oldest girls are actually getting along. My house is messy because I decided to hold my baby all morning instead of clean.  And you know what, there is nothing wrong with any of that.

    I think social media can be used for good but often times I feel the enemy using it against me to plant those negative thoughts in my head about being a bad mom. Comparing ourselves to others can be a slippery slope. Being inspired by someone on social media is okay, but we should never compare ourselves. A picture is only showing part of what is going on. I bet those moms are also washing the same load of laundry for the 3rd time. 

    The apostle Paul said, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things and the God of peace will be with you” (Philippians 4:8)
    This verse pops into my head when I start to compare myself or start to think bad about myself. It helps me to get back on track and keep my train of thought on good, positive things.

    In short, we are not a picture-perfect family, and I doubt anyone out there is. We all like to highlight and share the best parts of our lives. And that is okay, but we are all a hot mess somewhere in our lives, and that's okay too!


    Oct 22, 2017

    Easy Nature Study




    At the end of last school year, I started to consider doing nature studies with my kids. We have access to acres and acres of land behind our house. There's even a little creek that the kids often hike over to. Having access to all kinds of nature it only made sense that I start doing nature studies with them. 

    Over the summer I picked up the book Pocketful of Pinecones. I love this book and its gentle way of teaching kids about nature. The book recommends getting the Handbook of Nature Study. This book is full of pictures and information to just about everything you could find outside. I highly recommend purchasing the Handbook of Nature Study.


    To begin our nature study I put the baby in her wrap and we head out to the woods. I let the kids go to whatever draws their attention. It could be a leaf, a plant, berries, or even a bug. If it's something they can pick or put in their pocket I let them take it home with us. Once we get back to the house they explore their item and draw a picture of it in their notebooks. Aaliyah likes to look things up in the Handbook of Nature Study and will read aloud to everyone. A few weeks ago their Papa gave them Sunflowers. The kids took it all apart and explored all of its insides and picked off the seeds.

    This is a simple and fun way to allow the kids to explore nature around them and learn things in the process. I plan to continue this with them throughout our years of homeschooling.
    This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive payment if you make a purchase using this link.


    Oct 18, 2017

    Easy Halloween Sensory Bin


    I have a busy 4yr old. She hardly sits still and always wants to be doing something. She often interrupts when I am helping one of the other kids during our school day. She is bored and wants something to do to feel like one of the big kids. One way to keep her busy is sensory bins.

    This easy pumpkin sensory bin keeps her and her brother busy. She has lots of fun and it is working out those fine motor skills. I had her use tweezers to pick up each item and sort them into 2 different pumpkin containers. Here is a list of things I used to make this bin.

    • Plastic bin or some other container 
    • Big bag of rice. You can also use beans or noodles. 
    • Pumpkin candy
    • Candy corn 
    • Preschool tweezers (link below)
    • 2 Pumpkin treat containers 



    This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive payment if you make a purchase using this link.

    Oct 15, 2017

    Candy Corn Poetry Tea Time


    We have been slacking big time here for our poetry tea times. I try to do it once a week but we are in the process of purchasing a rental property. Things are a bit crazy around here so we did our tea time today.

    It actually worked out well. We first did a nature hike and study and when we got back they wanted to eat. So I decided their snack would be our poetry time. You, of course, don't need to do anything fancy but I had everything I needed to make a fun treat.

    I made these super cute candy corn fruit cups. I used pears on the bottom, peaches in the middle, and whipped cream on the top. To make it even more fun I put some candy corns on top. The kids loved it and they looked super cute in a wine glass.

    On top of reading our poetry books (see those books here) we talked about the Holy Trinity and the three different parts. We looked at the candy corn and it's three different parts but how it all is part of the candy corn.

    The kids had fun eating their treat and reading their poems. Even though things were kind of last minute it all turned out great. 

    Oct 14, 2017

    My Stillborn Story


    October is pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. For me it's a time to reflect back on my stillborn, Ava and my miscarriage. It's also a time to speak up about these issues and continue in the healing.

    9yrs ago I had Ava. I had a normal pregnancy and was healthy. I didn't have any issues and neither did she. Ava was born at 34 weeks gestation. The cause of her death is still unclear, it caught us all by surprise.  It's a bit of a long story so I made a YouTube video telling it.

    All of our lost babies have their stories. I think it is important to share our stories because it may help someone else and it can be therapeutic for some to talk about their baby. I encourage you to share your stories with others whether it be on public forums or privately to a friend. You don't have to live with this pain in silence and you don't have to grieve alone.



    Oct 12, 2017

    BookShark Presentation

    BookShark Box Day

    Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a presentation at our local library given by a BookShark representative. I am so happy I went and learned so many things. I am in my 2nd year of using BookShark in our homeschool and feel that now I can better use the materials for my children.
    (To view our BookShark curriculum click here and/or here)

    If you don't know what BookShark is, it's a literature-based, faith natural, curriculum. It's a wonderful curriculum for children and teens to get soaked in good books that will enrich their education in all subjects. Our family loves this company.

    Back to the presentation.

    Our representative name was Lynne, also a homeschool mom. She touched on many key points like
    • Choosing appropriate levels
    • Effectively using the binder
    • Easy way to organize all the books
    • BookShark Level K Reader 2016
    • Tips and tricks

    And so much more!
    What I took away the most from this was the 20/10 rule. The 20/10 rule is when you homeschool your child for 20 minutes straight with no distractions. After the time is up the child can get up and go to the bathroom, get a snack, run around, anything that they need to do. Once the 10 minutes is up, it's back to getting school work done for another 20 minutes. I plan to use this rule for my younger kids.

    All in all, it was a great presentation and I feel that Lynne did a wonderful job. I walked out of the library more confident about our curriculum choices and will be getting our 11yr old on BookShark ASAP.
    If you ever have the opportunity to attend a BookShark presentation, GO! You will not be disappointed.


    Oct 11, 2017

    Dirty Thirty

    This Monday I turned the dreaded "dirty thirty." To be honest I am not even sure how it crept up on me. Feels like I just celebrated my 25th birthday. Here I am, a newly 30yr old woman. Eh.

    To celebrate this very special occasion, my husband threw me a 90's themed birthday party. Everyone had to dress up. It was hilarious dressing up and putting 90's makeup on. I had the blue eye-shadow, choker necklace, and Tommy Hilfiger sweatshirt on. I was disappointed that my plastic butterfly hair-clips didn't show up.

    My husband had a cake specially made just for me. It was not only funny but oh so yummy! A good friend of mine, Roxanne, made a dunkaroo dip. The dip was a huge hit and you can find the recipe here. (She also has a blog that you can find here)
    It was truly a great night with lots of laughs. It still hasn't fully kicked in that I am now in my 30's and I suppose it won't till I'm 40. Haha!


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