My Big, Scary Dream

garlic-2556022_960_720

While reading Girl Wash Your Face, Rachel challenged everyone to stop reading and write down a big, scary dream. I paused and started thinking. I felt like I should write down what a typical big dream would be. Should I want my blog to make me a six figure income? Should I want to become insta-famous? I know. I want to own a huge house and perfect cars. Those are all normal dreams for people my age, right?

Obviously, I would love for this blog to make an income. But, I don’t care about a six figure income.. I just want to contribute to my family while homeschooling. So, I started thinking about what my dream really is.

Then, it smacked me in the face.

I want to own a homestead. Not your typical dream life in 2018, but it is mine. It’s been mine for a while.

This is something that I’ve been studying about for quite some time. I have read books and pinned all of the pins on pinterest. I have subscribed to Youtube channels. I’ve been soaking in all of the knowledge that I can in my “free” time.

Will this big dream come true? I don’t know. Scott and I are on the same page that we would love to make it happen one day down the road. We would both love for our girls to grow up knowing the value of hard work. We’d love to go pick food for our dinner. Our real dream with a homestead is to be able to live a sustainable life where we don’t rely on a store nearly as much. We would know how our food is grown.

My parents owned 30 acres of land in Illinois for several years. When we first visited after they bought it, I thought “what on earth where they thinking?” Everything was so overgrown. The grass and weeds were up to my knees everywhere we went. But, I watched as it slowly became a beautiful piece of land. Just mowing the grass instantly transformed it. It was so beautiful that Scott and I ended up getting married there. It was peaceful out there. My mom and dad worked their rear ends off every weekend. It was really incredible to witness this overgrown place get transformed into a beautiful retreat. My mom had a garden. I loved it. Maybe that is where the little seed of my dream was planted.

carrot-2743498_960_720

The definition of a homestead in the community is always different. Some say that you are only a homesteader if you live on land that you farm and are completely self sufficient. Others say that as long as you are making an EFFORT to be sustainable and live off of what you can grow or make, then you are a homemaker. I don’t know which is right.

What I do know is that we are going to plant a garden this year. We have a good sized yard, and are going to plant herbs, fruits, and vegetables that we frequently use. When I did container gardening last year, it was pretty successful. The herbs grew like crazy. I couldn’t use them fast enough, it seemed. Our plants moved with us from Oklahoma to Illinois. I think the move was a little hard on them, because they stopped growing as well. Maybe the shift in climate wasn’t good for them. Either way, I learned that my thumb is not completely black. I ordered some seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. This is why I chose them. There are more plants I hope to grow, so I’ll be checking out some of the other seed brands that Shaye Elliott recommended.

I am going to continue learning. I’m going to work with what I have, and “homestead” the best I can in suburbia.

I’ll continue making fresh bread from scratch. I’ll continue working on perfecting my sewing.. or at least making it acceptable. HAHA! I learned to crochet a few years ago and have been working on an infinity scarf. I want to learn the crafts that were just common knowledge in the past. Hopefully our garden will grow.

Our lives are so up the air. We are unsettled. We know that where we are is not where we will stay. Ministry has absolutely not been pulled off the table. This dream could be something silly on my heart that will never come to fruition. But, it is a dream that could easily go hand-in-hand with ministry one day.

Thanks for letting me share this dream of mine. I think we don’t always allow ourselves to have dreams.. though this really feels like a GOAL of ours more than a dream.

 

I’ll share some resources below and try to remember to update this list as I find more.

Books:

The Elliott Homestead   (this is my favorite book so far. She had a dream like me, and it has come true.)

The Backyard Homestead

The Backyard Homestead Seasonal Planner

 

Youtube Channels and Videos:

The Elliott Homestead Youtube channel

WildRoots Homestead Youtube Channel   (They have a vegan homestead!)

Time-lapse of building a homestead!   Super cool!

 

 

Advertisements

Why We Homeschool

One of the first questions that I get when people find out that we homeschool is “WHY?!” That is, after they say “I would never have the patience to do that.” (Spoiler alert: I AM NOT PATIENT.) I figured that a lot of people are curious about this, so I’ll just write it out here. I also know that many people think about homeschooling, so maybe this post will be helpful when it comes to listing the “pros” for choosing to homeschool.

1. Different learning styles– No two children learn exactly the same. My two oldest children learn in completely different ways. I am able to work with each child individually, and help them learn in a way that they understand. It really stretches me, as I learn a certain way and sometimes have to switch up how I teach. Learning isn’t a one-size-fits-all thing. Some kids also aren’t ready to start school super early in the morning, so we are able to get a later start and have more clear minds and better focus. I can allow my child to fidget in their seat (or stand), as long as the work is getting done, without disturbing other classmates.

2. Customizable education- One of my children struggles with phonics. I actually decided to pull back and have her start with a grade below for her phonics class so that she wasn’t getting drug along. If she were held back in an entire grade, she would be bored to tears because she excels at all of the other subjects. If we don’t like a certain subject in the curriculum we have chosen, we can pick something else that works better for us. Being able to mix and match for your children’s needs is a huge help, and probably one of the greatest benefits of homeschooling. They could also be bumped up a grade in a certain subject without being overwhelmed in others.

3. Freedom- We are not bound to a strict schedule. We don’t take snow days off. We can take warm weather days off and enjoy a “sun” day. We can travel at a different time of year than just June/July when most people are traveling. We can take school work with us when we travel if it is needed. Sickness happens. Sometimes, sickness knocks you down for a week or more. Our kids aren’t left behind in the dust; we are able to pause and pick back up when everyone is back to feeling great. Thankfully this year, we have only had one instance of sickness that made us take time off from school. When we lived in Oklahoma, there was constant major sickness that would have caused the kids to be in trouble with the school for missing so much.

img_4184

4. Our values are reinforced- We get to decide when and how our kids learn about sex, drugs, etc. I just heard a statistic that made me sick. The AVERAGE age that kids start sexting is TEN. What. on. earth. TEN! Kids have found crazy ways of getting high that they think are perfectly harmless. I don’t want my kids robbed of their innocence. I’m not going to bury their heads in the sand and hope that they never ever learn about these things. That is stupid. But, I want them to learn about sex from us. I don’t want them learning from the peers who heard about it from their big brother/sister. I want them to learn about it all in a healthy way. (For the record, teaching that sex is evil is also NOT healthy..) Girls are developing eating disorders as early as 9. Suicides are happening at an absurdly young age. How do these kids even know what this is? How do they know how to go through with it? I don’t understand.

5. Life skills are taught- There are only so many hours in a day in schools. Classrooms are overcrowded, and teachers have a LOT on their plate. Test scores have to be high for schools to receive “enough” funding. (I use enough loosely, because no school receives enough funding.) Kids are coming out of school knowing how to take a test, but lacking any real life skills. How many of you learned to do your taxes, grow a garden, or write a check? A lot of kids don’t even know how to do their own laundry when they graduate. With homeschooling, I am able to teach the typical educational classes along with really important life skills that will help them be a successful adult. Test taking doesn’t help you with a darn thing.

6. Time- Our school day is shorter than the traditional school day. We don’t have to line up single file and spend 15 minutes each time on bathroom breaks. We are able to work through the material at our pace, not getting bored of a concept that is understood or rushing through one that is not. My kids get enough time to eat their entire lunch. There is just a lot more time for everything that is important.

7. Socialization- Wait? Did I just write that a BENEFIT of homeschooling is socialization? But, my kids don’t know how. Aren’t homeschoolers freaks that don’t know how to socialize? Let me just say that I went to public school my whole life, and I am super socially awkward.. so that clearly is a silly argument. HA! My kids socialize with EVERYONE! They aren’t afraid to say hello to a grown up in the grocery store. They know how to play with and encourage kids younger than themselves. They make friends everywhere they go. The neighborhood kids are always ringing the doorbell wanting to play. When we go to the park, they are instantly friends with whomever is there. If the park is empty, they are disappointed that they don’t have friends to play with. The biggest misconception about homeschooling is that kids won’t know how to socialize. Homeschooled kids know how to socialize with everyone; they just aren’t forced to associate with certain people.

 

These are just some of the biggest reasons why we chose to homeschool. I know that I will receive a lot of criticism– why, I will never understand. I will never understand why people act like my decision affects their lives.

Homeschooling is not easy. It takes up a lot of MY time, as I am planning for each day and putting things together for the lessons. It is frustrating when you feel like you have explained a concept every way possible, and your child is still not grasping it. Have you ever TAUGHT  child to read? My goodness. It’s hard. This is my fourth year of homeschooling. There are days I want to quit. But, then I ask myself why I started this in the first place. Homeschooling wins in my mind. Hands down. It is something that I have spent a lot of time praying about; since my babies were born. It is not something that I just dove into head first without really looking at the options and thinking it through

If you homeschool, why did you choose to do so? What are the biggest misconceptions that you have found people to have about homeschooling? Or, if you don’t homeschool, what are some misconceptions that you have about homeschooled kids? What comes to your mind first when someone says their kids are homeschooled?

 

**I also want to say that there are so many curriculums that offer videos. Your child can get a private school education from the comfort of your own home. Many curriculum choices have an accredited option, so college is much easier. There are SO many misconceptions about homeschooling that cause many people to not go through with it, even though it is their desire.**

 

I feel like I also have to say that this is also not meant to be an attack on public schools. I have so many friends that are phenomenal teachers and I have so much respect for them. They do an amazing job. Schools ARE underfunded and programs are getting cut constantly. That is NOT the teachers’ fault. They do the best they can with what they have, and are spending a lot of money out of their own pockets to make sure they can give their students a great education. So, please, if you are a teacher, know that I love and respect you a ton.

Homeschool Update

Happy Thursday!!

I have to start every post that way so that I can remember what day it actually is. I feel like the days have started to just blend together. Harper has been battling some virus that has left her super congested. She had a very croupy cough for a few days, and now the other stuff is just left behind. It makes it difficult for her to sleep well, obviously, so we don’t sleep well either.

img_2944

She thought that getting a breathing treatment was super amusing. I’m glad she thinks it’s fun instead of torture.

img_2955

As you know, I homeschool the big girls. We use Abeka curriculum this year, and it is my favorite. I’ve tried a different curriculum every year- in a search for one that works best for us. I love Abeka. If you don’t know, there is an actual Abeka academy where they teach classes. It is also the curriculum taught in most Christian schools. They do streaming or DVDs of the classes at the academy that you can purchase for a hefty amount of money. We didn’t purchase these, but they sent an e-mail offering a free 15 day trial of streaming. Sign. Me. Up. We have had stuff going on every weekend, leaving me feeling frazzled and unprepared for the week ahead.

It has been life-changing for this month. The girls have been so excited to watch their classes each day. I fully believe that the excitement will wear off quickly, but for now I am thoroughly enjoying it. Everything is exciting when it’s new. I think we are going to try and save up to buy them next school year.

I have been able to go back and start phonics from the beginning for one of my children that struggles with that area. I’ve observed the teacher’s tricks for teaching the rules, etc. and it will help me teach her a lot better, since I don’t remember ALL of the tricks we learned in school. (Do you?)

img_2940This sneaky stinker finds a way to get into trouble during school. She got sprinkles and had dumped them everywhere. I found her like this in her bedroom. It’s a good thing she is cute.

All of this to say, I think Abeka will be the winner for our homeschool from now on. It was always recommended, but so expensive that I tried to find something else. If you are interested in Abeka, you can e-mail them and ask about a trial of their video streaming. There are also sample videos that you can check out. There are a lot of worksheets with this curriculum, but that really helps to reinforce what is being taught.

This is absolutely not sponsored at all, I just want to share what we love because I have many friends that are thinking about homeschooling their kids. I’m happy to answer any questions that I can, but I am certainly not an expert!

signature

 

 

THIS is my Motherhood

 

I saw this picture on Facebook in October. It has really stuck with me. In fact, every time I read it, I feel like the breath has been knocked from my lungs. The days are long.. they are SOO long. The years just keep flying by. I just looked at baby pictures of my girls. How did they become 7, 6, and 3 so fast?

I follow a lady named Ralphie on Instagram. GO FOLLOWER HER. She did an #Iamthiskindofmom hashtag where moms shared what their STRENGTHS are. Too often we focus on our shortcomings as mothers, which I believe robs us of a lot of the joy in motherhood. I often think about how I am not a patient enough mom. I’m not creative enough. I’m not fun enough. Her movement shifted my thinking. What kind of mom am I? That is the only way to not miss out on your children’s childhood; and your own motherhood. Focus on the good.

It is absolutely insane to think that my motherhood only has approx. 11 years left for Chloe. In 11 years (or more) she could be moving out of our house and starting her own life. ELEVEN YEARS. Seven years have gone by in the blink of an eye. I know I have fallen short in SO MANY areas. I have messed up and have regrets. But there is a lot that I hope my kids remember.

I AM the kind of mother who loves having my kids join me in the kitchen. I love baking with them and teaching them the life skills of preparing a meal. I am the kind of mother who tells my kids “the best chefs are the messiest chefs” so that they don’t feel bad about making a mess.. or me making a mess.

I am the kind of mother whose kids ask for their vitamins and probiotics daily. I teach them the best ways to take care of their bodies; because they only get this one.

I am the kind of mother who spreads paper, markers, stickers, etc. all over the table and lets her kids be creative. There is always a massive mess to clean up afterwards, but I love seeing what my girls create with some paper scraps.

I am also the kind of mom who teaches her kids to clean up after themselves. It’s important that they learn they are not “cleaning up for mom”, but they are cleaning up for themselves. We are a family unit, and everyone needs to do their part in order for us to function.

I am the kind of mom who lets her kids play in the tub until they look like raisins.

I am the kind of mom who gets festive like crazy for all of the Holidays. Food must be festive. Decorations must be festive. Colors must be festive. I’m completely bananas about any holiday.

I am the kind of mom who lets my kids get dirty. They can play in the dirt and throw leaves in their hair. The can jump in puddles and play hard. They learn best that way. Sensory play is my favorite.

 

We, as mothers (and fathers also), need to slow down. We need to realize that this is our one shot with our kids. What kind of parent are you? Make a list of all of your good traits. Don’t focus on your shortcomings. Focus on ALL of the good that you do!

 

Harper Says

This little stinker is so full of funny words, phrases, and actions. She’s always saying or doing something silly and fills our home with loads of laughter.. and frustration.

 

The other day, Scott  had drawn a heart on me. I asked her who did it.
H: “I dunno”
Me: “Did Rocci do it?” (FYI: Rocci is our puppy)
H: “No, him don’t have hands!”

We are in the potty training trenches… candy is our bribery.
H: *sits on potty* ” Me go pee and me get CANDY!!!

She has been singing Elsa’s “Let it Go” at super speed.
“Let it go let it go can’t hold anymoooore”

Me: Harper, I love you.
H: I like you.

Again, potty training… She walks around with a bare booty most of the time. Rocci sniffs her rear with his cold, wet nose.
H “EW YUCKY DOG!”

After Mom had her knee surgery, Harper used her cane as a microphone singing “Sussa weens sussa weens” (super wings super wings)

Pointing to my belly “Mommy, you big”
Me “Yeah?”
H “Yeah. And Daddy big.”
Me “Is your belly big?”
H “No. It wittwe.”

As soon as she refuses allllll the food at any meal.
“Me want chiiiiiips.”

Good thing she is so snuggly and cute. 😉 She’s ornery as can be, but I am so thankful to have this girl in my life!

Thanksgiving Recap

Isn’t Thanksgiving food just beautiful? I love making things from scratch. To me, it is really satisfying to see it all come together.

The day before Thanksgiving, I made a giant cinnamon roll for breakfast. (100% a tube of cinnamon rolls) The girls freaked out. I achieved cool-mom status for the first time ever probably. I put frosting on it and cut it like a pie. Sprinkles had to be added, of course. They gobbled the whole thing up leaving their poor cool-mom to starve. 😉

Cut to Thanksgiving, and all of its beautiful food. I didn’t get many pictures on that day. Scott and I really tried to soak in the goodness of having family around us… plus it was bananas. I took a few pictures while I was cooking. Cranberries are a beautiful color. They were frosted by the sugar and it looked like a Christmas decoration. They were SO tart, but yummy.

img_2569

My mom came over the day before, and we made pies together. She also helped me get sweet potato casserole assembled since I had never made it by myself. Mom made a really pretty apple pie that was equally as delicious. I also baked the rolls and heated them up on Thanksgiving so the butter would melt on them. (Note: this WILL dry your rolls out, even if you cover them in foil. Bummer.)

img_2557

img_2558

img_2563

This Thanksgiving was so bittersweet. It was our first big holiday without Jim. I think we all felt the hole where someone was missing. It was very sweet to be surrounded by all of our family that was in town. I really am thankful that God brought us back for this time. Everyone signed our Thanksgiving tablecloth with what they are thankful for this year. (Except Josh. Get your butt back here.) I think I will probably cry every year that I bring it out since it is so full of memories.

 

I also have to share this. When my mom came to make pies, she also brought a little something for the big girls. She made a carseat poncho for Harper, which we love. Chloe and Addi were jealous that they couldn’t wear a poncho.. which made me laugh. My mom, being who she is, quickly whipped up two more ponchos for the big girls. They were so thrilled, and it’s really cute to see them running around in them.

img_2566

 

Little stinkers.

 

I hope that you had a really blessed Thanksgiving.

Six Days

colors-2203720_960_720

We are just 6 days from uncharted territory. We surrendered our lives to Jesus as teenagers, and have lived in surrender ever since.

Scott and I have been serving in full-time ministry since he graduated from college 8 years ago. Every day of the last 8 years I have been “youth pastor’s wife” or “ministry wife”. (Yes, I know ministry is wherever you are and whatever you are doing.)

Sunday is our last day on staff at CCC. Any time God has called us away from a church, He has always opened a door just in time for us to go from one to the next. That has not been the case this round.

This is completely new. I feel like a huge chunk of my identity is being stripped away from me. It’s painful and feels a little scary. It could be months or years before God decides to open another door.

This whole ministry journey has been a roller coaster. It is painful. People say hurtful things. People gossip. You live your life in a fishbowl and any tiny slip up in your life can be blown out of proportion. You can be betrayed by someone that you thought loved you.

On the flip side, people also love on you and pray for you when you are hurting. When your entire family is sick and you feel like you can’t do it anymore, people bring food to your home. You get to see people come to know Christ. You see people declare that they are going to give up their drug addiction. We have seen teenagers go from Jr. High personalities to mature young adults sold out for Jesus. You see lives completely changed and transformed- and THAT is why we continue doing ministry! It is an honor to be used by God in this way.

We are in a painful season of this journey. We are being put through the fire for refinement. How I react is an example to my children as to how you go through trials in your life. I have to show them that God will carry us through. I also can show them that emotions are ok. It is okay to cry when you are hurting. What we do with our emotions is what matters.

I listened to this song yesterday and sobbed.

“As I walk this great unknown
questions come and questions go
Was there purpose for the pain?
Did I cry these tears in vain?

I don’t want to live in fear
I want to trust that you are near
Trust your grace can be seen
In both triumph and tragedy”

Scott has started applying for local jobs outside of ministry and my heart hurts for him.

We are trying to figure out the logistics of being able to find jobs to pay bills while also still being able to candidate at churches whenever opportunities arise; all with one car. We are doing exactly what God wants us doing at this time; even if it is not at all what we want.

We trust God through everything, but that does not mean that it won’t be painful or hard. God never promised us an easy life, He only said that we would never be forsaken.

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Hebrews 13:5