Fresh Air

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The weather is FINALLY cooling off here in Oklahoma. It still gets really hot in the late afternoon, but you better believe that I’ve got the windows open all morning and evening! I love hearing the wind rustling the leaves outside my window.

These cooler days have also meant that we are hitting up the parks again. That may be my favorite part of homeschooling. We have the flexibility to go to the park when it is pretty empty. We can pack a picnic lunch and know that a table will be available. The girls were SO excited when I told them that we were going earlier this week. This playground is covered by a massive canopy, which is really awesome on a sunny day!

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Feel free to pin that super healthy meal right there. Don’t be intimidated by my skills.

We have continued our tradition of exploring the town while Chloe is in dance class. I feel like we see new things each time we are out and about. Addi loves getting to run around and pretend that she is riding on her imaginary horse named Whistle. It cracks all of us up.

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The fresh air has been absolutely incredible. I get grumpy when I am stuck indoors for long periods of time. I never imagined that it would get so unbearably hot that no one wanted to go out. Fall weather is my favorite, and I intend to soak up every moment and enjoy the fresh air blowing in the windows as long as possible.

I am also excited to do some Halloween decorating this weekend! I try to be good and save it for October 1st; though we do have some window clings up that I let the girls pick out. I have trained them well. 😉 As a bonus, Janssen over at Everyday Reading has written a post with her favorite children’s books for Halloween. I LOVE her blog. If you ever need book recommendations, she is your girl! Plus, she has three little girls and has girl #4 on the way!! I love that. I feel like we are BFFs, but she has no clue that I exist. haha!

Do you get excited for the fresh air and fall weather? What about decorating? Are you a just-can’t-wait-to-decorate kind of person, or a wait-till-the-last-minute person? 

Homeschooling Multiple Ages

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Many homeschool families are balancing many ages and grades with their children. This is something that had me incredibly nervous this year. Chloe is doing 1st grade, Addi is doing pre-k, and Harper is making messes. 😉 Now, we certainly are not the first family to face this, but I wanted to share some of the simple things that have worked for us so far.

  1. Combine where you can This is by far the biggest help. There are many things that Chloe is learning that I know Addi can learn at the same time. Especially in the beginning, when most grades are simply reviewing what was learned the previous year. If I am making copies of worksheets that I know Addi would enjoy, I make sure to make doubles.(Please do this legally. Our workbooks are not allowed to be copied, but the worksheets in the teacher books are.) I can teach a subject to both girls at the same time, and it is so much easier. They really enjoy it, too!
  2. Take turns Both of my girls are at ages where they cannot read. Chloe is learning right now, so it’s getting a little easier with her. Sometimes, they both need my attention on different things. I try to plan and give Chloe work that she can do independently while I do work with Addi that requires more attention. It helps that Addi’s work is much shorter, so I get one on one time with Chloe later.
  3. Let your younger children get bored If you start off with constant entertainment, they will expect that every day. The best thing you can do for yourself, and your children, is to let them be. Make them figure out a way to entertain themselves. Harper mostly looks at books, plays with puzzles, and pretends she is a puppy while school work is happening. It is so much easier than her expecting me to do special projects with her each day.
  4. Make it fun Learning should be fun! If you make sure that your children are engaged and actively learning, things will go so much better. This also helps keep all ages entertained at once. We shake things up and use random objects in the place of our counting blocks for Math. Since it is autumn (my favorite) we are doing a lot of themed science work. I honestly cannot wait to do some pumpkin guts exploring.
  5. Take brain breaks I have found that taking a few breaks to get out the wiggles and refresh seem to really help. My girls have quite the bond, and they really love all getting a chance to play together in the middle of our school day. This also helps Chloe to not feel jealous that her sisters are playing without her.

There have already been many days where I tell my husband that I want to quit. Homeschooling is hard. It’s stressful and a lot of work. But, it is so worth it. I have seen Chloe grow so much already. I see Addi learning more and more. Harper watches and I can see her wheels turning. I get a very unique view as a homeschooling mom. I know that it is not for everyone, and it may not stay for us. Right now, it’s a blessing.

What are some of your tips for keeping younger siblings happy?

Quiet Time

It is so hard to take time alone as a mom. I am terrible at it. I go to the grocery store alone. That’s really about it. I don’t even do that as often as I used to. *I want to add that this is in no way Scott’s fault. He is ALWAYS encouraging me to go out alone when he is home. I just don’t do it.*

I was talking with him about how I really wanted to get my hair done. He told me to go for it. So, I actually listened. ha! I called and set up an appointment. I had my pictures all ready. One was a balayage that was light blonde at the roots working its way into REALLY light blonde at the tips. The other was just a warmer color with some highlights. Now, I never do anything crazy with my hair. I decided that I wanted to do something fun.

This is my hair.. The first picture looks like a wig because I NEVER have that much volume.

I have SILVER hair! I wasn’t really going for silver hair, but it is the hip thing to do right now. I guess? I don’t know what is hip anymore. In my bathroom lighting, it looks like I have strawberry blonde roots with light blue hair. I seriously panicked and thought about selling an organ to pay to have it re-done. Thankfully, I went to church and everyone was raving about how much they loved it. I also got to see it in a normal light (I don’t know whats up with the bathroom lights..) and realized that it was pretty. It is SO different. But, really pretty. Plus, it is just hair.

It took 4 1/2 hours for this to be done. I had 4 1/2 hours TO. MYSELF. I love having my hair played with, so it was basically heaven. While I had a toner on my head, Denise sat me down in a huge massage chair for twenty minutes. You know what I love the most about Denise. She didn’t chatter away the whole time. Am I the only one who hates when a hairdresser talks the entire time. I just want to fall asleep in your chair and wake up looking fabulous. She was so kind and kept offering me drinks and snacks.

Honestly, even if my hair was actually light blue and orange, it would still have been worth it. I came home feeling so refreshed and rejuvenated. I love being a mom. However, you have to be “on” 100% of the time. My kids never give me a moment of peace. Someone is always wanting something and someone is ALWAYS touching me.

It is so important that we, as moms, take some quiet time. We need to do something for ourselves occasionally. We are better moms and better wives. We spend so much of our time pouring into others; especially as a ministry wife and mom. If we don’t take the time to fill ourselves back up, we will dry out. So, go have your hair done. Go get a cup of coffee alone. Take a walk alone or go for a job. Just do something to recharge your batteries. It does not have to be big and extravagant. Just make sure that you take care of YOU, too.

Homeschool on a Budget

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If you have ever looked into homeschooling, you know that it can have a huge price tag. The curriculum alone is a hefty price. Add to that all of the extra supplies needed, and your head starts to spin while your wallet starts weeping.

We live on one income. My husband is a youth pastor, and I am a SAHM with a small Etsy shop that I am trying to grow along with this blog. Basically, I’m not any help financially. So, how do we afford it? Obviously, these tips may not work for everyone. This is what has worked well for our family so far.

Let’s start with the curriculum. We are currently using Alpha & Omega curriculum- Horizons for Pre-K and LIFEPAC for 1st grade. We have always received a return  on our taxes and never had to pay (yet) so we purchase this when that arrives. Plus, then I have it in advance and can make sure that I am fully prepared for the school year.

You can also buy used curriculum. Find out what curriculum that you really want to use, and look for groups on Facebook that you can join. I have bought all new because I have three girls that will go through it all. Obviously, you will need to buy new workbooks for your kids. The cost of teacher books adds up quickly, and being able to save on that will be a huge blessing.

Pinterest is a great source for free printables. Pre-K curriculum is totally unnecessary. In fact, I have friends who gave gone without curriculum for Kindergarten and used their own workbooks and free things they found online.(I thrive on organization, so having a game-plan already mapped out was a huge for me.) You can find a free printable for almost anything that you could possibly want or need. There are printables for every holiday and season. Sometimes you have to do a bit of digging, but it’s there.

Next up is the supplies. Construction paper, crayons, and pencils, OH MY! So. Many. Supplies. I always try to keep art supplies on hand because my girls LOVE art. I want to encourage that in them as long as they love it. I also scope out the dollar section at Target- especially mid- to end of- summer. (I know Target is under fire right now, so skip that if it makes you angry.) Michael’s also has really great bargain bins that you can check out. Instead of spending $15 on counting blocks from amazon, I was able to get foam counting blocks for $1. We also have counting bears, which my girls LOVE.

Save your supplies. My girls have the same crayon boxes that were bought for them over a year ago. No, the five hundred broken crayon pieces don’t need to be saved (though you can melt them into fun shaped crayons). Chloe’s crayon box finally broke (my fault..oops) so we bought a nicer one that will last for YEARS. A huge part of saving money is shopping responsibly. Yes, it may cost more up front to buy this fancy crayon box, but we won’t be replacing it every couple of years because the cheap plastic broke. Yes, the little wooden desk is super cute for your Kindergartener, but how long will it be until your child is way too tall to sit at that desk comfortably? Sustainability is key, in my opinion.

Buy a nice printer. Homeschooling the younger grades will require a lot of printing and photocopying. When I was in college, I invested in a really nice printer with a scanner. That bad boy is sitting next to me and has been worked to the bone this year. In the long run, I don’t have to pay someone else to make copies for me, which saves money. Again, that is an investment piece that costs more up front, but down the road will save. Obviously, if you can’t afford this up front, then take advantage of printing what you need when you need it at other places.

Having a laminator has also been amazing. We purchased the whole she-bang of Preschool curriculum. It came with card stock alphabet cards to hang on the walls, flash cards, shape pictures, etc. So many papers that last through elementary years. I don’t know if you are aware, but paper rips easily. Especially when kids touch it a lot. I laminated like crazy, and now our papers are safe from sticky fingers. We don’t have to replace those things, and when we look to sell curriculum down the road, we will be able to sell it for more than we would have otherwise.

Some stores that offer discounts for teachers will also offer discounts to homeschool families. JoAnn Fabrics is one of them. Look into these kinds of programs and take advantage of them. Also, hit up thrift stores to find desks, chairs, lamps, etc. that you may want or need for your space.

My final piece of advice is to simplify. We are in this era of Pinterest and Instagram. We can compare what we have and do to what SHE has and does. We are bombarded with images of perfect homeschool rooms that are perfectly clean and full of so many amazing homeschool things. This is something that I have had to overcome. We do not need a perfect space. We do not NEED an entire room dedicated to homeschooling. Yes, I would LOVE that, if I am being honest. But, it is not a necessity. Stop comparing what you have to images that are unattainable for most people. It will only rob you of the joy and experience that homeschooling can bring.

What are some of your homeschool budgeting tips? I’m still new, so I am open to advice.

Almost Autumn

Is anyone else tired of these HOT temperatures?! Don’t get me wrong, I despise COLD weather, but I am so sick of sweating my face off every time I step out of the door. Tomorrow is the FIRST OFFICIAL day of fall!! It’s time to get below 90 degrees!!

This week is always fun.  Fall is really here; at least on the calendar. It’s also premier week! I don’t watch a ton of TV shows since we don’t have cable. Scott and I do watch some online after the girls are in bed at night, and we are really looking forward to watching them again. Who is watching This is Us? I really want to watch it, but the feels YOU GUYS! I don’t know if I can handle it. It was on last night, so tell me how it was in the comments. No spoilers though!!

I am adjusting the way I eat to fit a Paleo diet. I’m doing it for my health so that I can avoid ending up with a whole lot of other problems down the road. I know that some people feel like it’s trendy. But, when you are facing health problems decades of years before you are supposed to, it’s a wake up call. I am not a huge sweets eater, but when I start giving up sugar, the cravings hit. There is sugar in so many things that we don’t even think about. Yesterday, I whipped up a batch of these Paleo Pumpkin Spice Scones and put most of them in the freezer. This way, I can heat one up when a craving strikes, and still stick to my “diet”. Does anyone else hate that word? Its a lifestyle change. I’m excited to cook all of the squash this autumn as well!

There are only 40 days until Halloween, as well. Just to let you know that tidbit.

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I waited for a REALLY good deal on these “Boo!” shirts! Chloe has outgrown being able to match both sisters in most brands, but I got as close as I could. 🙂 I want a polka-dot shirt for myself. Someone needs to get on that STAT.

How will you be celebrating fall this weekend? I printed off some fall scavenger hunt sheets. It’s supposed to cool off some this weekend, so we should be able to get out and feel fairly comfortable.

Happy last day of summer!!!

 

Grief

(dress // sunglasses // shoes // necklace-similar)

If you had asked me four years ago if I thought this would be me four years down the road, I would have said no. Four years ago, I was so overwhelmed with grief and pain.

I felt like I was free-falling into an abyss. I couldn’t figure out which way was up. All I could do was cry. A lot. I prayed and begged God to somehow rewind time. Somehow make it all better.

I still don’t fully understand WHY I had to lose my baby, and never will. That’s just it though. That baby was never MINE. All of my children are God’s. They were never mine to begin with. They aren’t mine now. I don’t have to know why God does things, I just have to remember that HE IS GOOD.

Grief is a funny thing. When you are in the midst of it, it’s heavy. It’s dark and painful. You feel like you will never be able to breathe again, because even breathing hurts.

But, here I am. I still grieve. This week always brings a dark cloud that looms over my head. I don’t have to give in. I need to take time to grieve each year. I need to grieve the kisses that I never got to give. The nights that I never got to rock my baby to sleep. There are so many things that I missed out on, so I grieve. I can’t camp out there. I have three daughters who deserve a present mama. Life is beautiful even in the darkness.

Quinn, I hope you know how loved and missed you are.

If you are going through a miscarriage, please don’t go it alone. Talk to someone. It’s ok to hurt. It doesn’t matter how many healthy children you have; every one is a blessing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. If you have no one to talk to, please email me (myfourarrowsblog@gmail.com). I would love to pray for you, cry with you, and be a source of encouragement for you.

Friday Favorites (on Saturday)

These booties from Piper & Scoot are just amazing. I have been searching for FLAT cutout booties for so long..and there they are. All $98 of them. Look at their dresses, too. So cute!

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Lily Jade 2.0 is here for pre-order. I love them all! That jade lining.. all the heart eyes! This is the bag pictured above (minus the jade lining and longer straps!).

I want to play this game so badly. My mom, sisters, and I all tend to cry-laugh. We would need a lot of tissues. I have very vivid memories of my mom sitting at the foot of my orthodontist chair while I got my braces on. She could not stop laughing, and I nearly shot that torture device out of my mouth from laughing so hard. The price gets me, but this one looks similar.

Paleo pumpkin spice scones are on the line-up for this week.

I love this hair color. I want to do something fun on my head without it being a bright unnatural color that I will hate right away. I’m keeping my longer hair though.

Oh Joy! for Target is so cute!

Today is “thank a police officer” day. Be sure to let your local law enforcement know how grateful you are for their service.

Taking Inventory

I really don’t have anything interesting to say, so I thought I’d give you a round-up of what is going on in our house and my brain. Welcome.

 

Making: I ate an apple with almond butter for lunch and have taco meat going in the crock pot. Tuesdays are always a little hectic with the timing of dance class, which makes the crock pot an excellent tool.

Drinking: Coffee.. It’s been a tough week. I should probably drink some water at some point.

Reading: I am still reading “Someday, Someday Maybe” by Lauren Graham. I am no farther than the last time I posted about it.

Wanting: November to be here. We should be moving out of our apartment, and I truly CANNOT wait.. I will have a fireplace, a bigger kitchen, and a yard!!

Listening: I can hear Harper babbling through the monitor. She has been refusing to nap, and I refuse to let her win, so “quiet” time in the crib it is. Also, I have our window open, and every car in town is driving by right now.

Looking: I just started researching ways to raise hormone levels naturally. Pre-menopause sounds great at the age of 28 and all (SYKE!), but hormone replacement therapy does not. I have been looking at essential oils that can help regulate it all. Any tips? I’m all ears!

Playing: The “what if” game. haha! Addison has been sick, and our options have become lyme disease or west nile virus..which both sound really fantastic… I would share pictures of her leg, but I’ll spare you. The doctor is now leaning towards it being west nile along with an allergy to mosquito bites, but she is being treated for Lyme just to be safe. This kid is so tough and brave, and she doesn’t even realize it.

Wishing: That the weather would cool off! It’s cool in the mornings, but still gets up near the 90’s (or above) in the afternoon.

Enjoying: The coffee mug that I don’t remember ordering. I have terrible insomnia and occasionally take Ambien to help me fall asleep. Don’t take it and start browsing Etsy. Bad idea..or brilliant. I can’t get enough of Winifred staring me down.

Loving: We have this old chair that was given to us by Scott’s mom and dad. It was actually part of a matching set, but our dog Daisy ate one. I wish I was kidding. Anyway, it had the skirt-like thing around the bottom that was really common in it’s day. I LOVE the chair. It is so comfy, but the skirt was really dating it. The girls also thought they could hide things under there without getting caught. *eye roll* Scott removed the skirt (what is the real name?) and it looks SO much better. Now, we just need to get it re-covered. There’s a hole in the back to go along with the scraggly cushion. Here’s a Pinterest-worthy visual for you.

Feel free to pin that. I know you want to.

Wearing: I desperately need to fold the laundry.. What I am wearing is not pretty.

Watching: I’m not really watching anything at the moment. Next week is the big premier week for most of the shows I enjoy! Blue Bloods anyone?

Browsing: I stumbled onto various blog posts from many sites about farmhouse decor on Amazon. I keep browsing and adding more and more to my wish list. This Salt & Pepper set is one of my favorites; along with this two tiered tray. Imagine it covered with fresh produce!

 

Happy Tuesday, friends. May your toddlers actually nap and give you some peace and quiet!

Our Favorite Books for Halloween

I LOVE children’s books. Back when I was an elementary education/early childhood education major at BBC, I joined a children’s book club. I got most of the Dr. Seuss books, Bernstein Bears, Rainbow Fish (one of my favorites as a child), and so many others. Then, I became a preschool teacher. Look out. Buy alllll the books!!!

When Chloe was born, we made frequent trips to Target. For some reason, that was the ONLY store that she wouldn’t scream through. I still don’t fully understand that one. They used to have board books in their dollar section all the time. I would buy a new one each time. Soon after, we moved to Burton and Addi was born. The only place with carts big enough for 2 under 2 was Sam’s club. So, guess where we went? You guessed it.. Sam’s Club always has such good prices on their books. I used to buy them too frequently.

Our bookshelves are now STUFFED with books. Overflowing, really. They are in every nook and cranny of all of the bedrooms.

Since we love holiday books, I thought I would share some of our favorite Halloween books! I know that Halloween is not until the end of next month, but I like to plan ahead. 🙂

  1. Room on the Broom.
    This book is easily our favorite Halloween book. It is so sweet and fun to read. The girls love saying WOOOSH with me. (The DVD is also adorable.)
  2. Big Pumpkin.
    This book is so fun! If you can find it at the library with the CD that reads it aloud, do it!! I laughed way too much! Who wouldn’t want a giant pumpkin to make pumpkin pie with?
  3. Ghost in the House
    I have to be honest, I have never read the “lift the flap” version. I cannot find the version that we have read. If you have toddlers that love to rip..err, lift.. the flaps, this version would be perfect! Yet another silly book that left us laughing.
  4. Halloween Hustle
    Since our girls are homeschooled, we don’t get book fairs. Thankfully, I’ve always had friends who work in the school and invite me to theirs. Last year, I picked this book up from the fair and loved it. I am a huge fan of books that are fun to read. Chances are good that your kids will want you to read them over and over again. This one is fun!
  5. Spooky Pookie
    This is another of the girls’ favorites. We have read it so much that they have it memorized. 🙂 Sandra Boynton is a genius at writing (and illustrating) and I love it!!
  6. Eek, Halloween!
    This is a new release from Sandra Boynton. As usual, I love it! Harper loved it. The older two haven’t been able to enjoy it yet (any tips for getting kids to clean up their messes?!) but I know that they will also. Chickens afraid of Halloween? Obviously.
  7. Frankenstein
    I really enjoy Baby Lit books. This is the one that I find the girls reaching for the most. It is an anatomy primer, so it teaches basic body parts while introducing your child to classic literature.
  8. Where is Baby’s Pumpkin?
    Honestly, this one isn’t anything super special. It’s really cute. Chloe (six years old) still loves it. This is another tearlift-the-flap book that toddlers love. Ours is totally taped back together a million times over. One of the closet doors has disappeared and so has the last flap.
  9. Goodnight Goon
    If you love Goodnight Moon, you will like this book. It’s so funny. Goodnight Moon is the book that Scott read to Chloe every night while she was in my tummy. When I found out that their was a spooky twist, I jumped on it. The pictures are a little scarier than the other children’s books, just to give you a fair warning. My kids are not afraid of them, but some may be.

 

None of these books are scary. I enjoy the silly fun of Halloween, and make sure that my kids know that it is all pretend. Almost every one of these books is totally silly and makes my kids giggle up a storm. I want them to enjoy reading as much as Scott and I do, so I try my hardest to make it fun and read to them often. Also, I like to use holiday themed books as decorations. Win-win!

**All links above are amazon affiliate links. For full disclosure, see “referral links” tab. Thank you for helping me support our family.**

Adventures

Chloe is in dance class every Tuesday evening. I have noticed that a lot of parents drop their child (or children) off and leave. Since dance is only an hour long, I don’t feel like buckling and unbuckling car seats to go home for maybe 30 minutes. Instead, we make an adventure of it. Scott gets off at the time that dance starts. Usually by the time I get everyone situated, he is arriving to explore with us. I always make sure to pack plenty of water and snacks for our journey.(I have to say that I love our Chicco Viaro stroller. The bottom basket is GIGANTIC and holds all of the stuffed animals and junk the kids bring along.)

In honor of #TBT, we will throw it back to the beginning and work our way through.

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stroller / snack cup / water bottlethermos / diaper bag / igloo cooler tote

Our downtown is beautiful, and each week we have been able to see something new. Addison is loving getting some time to shine. We love hearing what she has to say about everything that we are seeing. Harper is content to just sit in the stroller and observe. If she sees a puppy, look out! You’ll hear her “arf arf arf” from a mile away!!

I have had some people ask me if Addi is jealous that Chloe gets to do dance. It’s a fair question. We offered dance class (gymnastics, soccer, etc.) to her, and she had no interest. We make each week special by exploring and taking pictures with all of the buffalo sprinkled around town.

We also make sure that Chloe doesn’t feel left out when she re-joins us after dance class. If we stop at Subway for a cookie, we get one for her. This week, we stopped at a chocolate shop so that we could watch Addi’s eyes bug out of her head. She picked a chocolate out for Chloe. So far, we haven’t had any real jealousy issues, and I am incredibly thankful for that. I love seeing my girls become their own individuals.

You can see our pictures by searching #adventureswithaddiandharper on Instagram.

All Amazon links are affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through my links, a small percentage will go directly to me. Your price does not change, but I appreciate the support my family receives.