family life, kids, Ramblings, story telling, Uncategorized, Weekending

Our Weekend in Pictures

Alternate title: Our Sunday in pictures.

Saturday, Scott and his brother left at 3 AM to go to Michigan to watch the football game in Ann Arbor. This left the girls and I solo all day. I invited my parents over for breakfast. I made biscuits and burnt scrambled eggs (lucky them) and my dad made bacon and gravy. It was so much fun having them over. We played a couple games of clue before they headed back home. Then, we loaded up and went to Target to walk around and get out of the house. I typically spend 6 days a week without a vehicle and trapped at home, so when I have it I am GONE. When we got home, I spent HOURS helping the big girls clean their room. Seriously, no one is allowed to bring any toys into this house unless they are a birthday or Christmas gift. I’m sick of spending hours with the junk my kids accumulate. Anyone else? That was our Saturday, and I didn’t take any pictures.

Sunday, we got up and went to church. I love my church family. I am so thankful that God brought us here to be with these people during this time in our lives.

The place that my mom works for throws a big family picnic each year. It was originally scheduled for Saturday, but the heavens opened up and INCHES of rain fell. It obviously was rescheduled. As soon as church was over, we headed home to change and go to the picnic. Unlimited fair food. Heck yes! Bounce houses for the kids to wear themselves out in were available. There were so many crafts and games. The girls got more than one pony ride.

 

 

I asked Chloe if she wanted to go play BINGO with me. She came so close to winning, but neither of us did.

Glitter tattoos and face paint may have been the favorite part. For some reason, Addi always gets super nervous and never wants to have it done. I don’t push it, so that’s why you don’t see her in these. Gah! They are so cute!! We spent ALL DAY here playing and having fun.

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I love days like this. They had a fireworks show once it got dark, and of course everyone loved that.

 

I hope that you had a wonderful weekend as well. Now, it’s back to the grind.

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holiday, kids, recipes

Fourth of July Fun

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I love the 4th of July. I love dressing in red, white, and blue. I love doing fun crafts and themed food! I love holidays, and have passed my love on to my daughters. Addi has been planning cupcakes for what feels like months! Here is a round up of some fun things you can do or make for the 4th of July with little time to prepare!

 

Recipes

The easiest desserts are the classic bomb pops! They are so good, easy, and fun.

Festive Red, White, & Blue Bark

Firecracker Jello Snacks

Fourth of July punch

Tie-Dyed cake

Firecracker Popcorn

Berry Trifle

Cheese and Fruit Platter

 

Crafts

Patriotic Pom Pom Garland

Patriotic Ribbon Wand

Parade Wands

Slime

Paper Lanterns

Fairy Crowns

Patriotic Necklaces

 

Decorations

Painted Yard Stars

Painted Burlap Banner

Photo backdrop

Pool Noodle Firecrackers

 

Fun

scavenger hunt

Bingo

Bean Bag Toss

Squirt Gun Races

Tin Can Toss

 

 

Our local fireworks show is tonight, and we can’t wait. I hope that everyone has a SAFE and happy fourth of July. Remember that our freedom was never free.

 

family life, kids, Uncategorized

Girl Talk

IMG_4826This is a sweet picture my MIL took while she watched the girls! So cute!

Me: “Do you need any help?”
Harper, trying to open a popsicle: “I don’t need any help.”
fumbles around with the wrapper some more
Harper: “Ok, I need a little help.”

Harper: “Me want more chips!”
I get her some chips and set them in a bowl on the counter. “Here you go.”
H: “You supposed to bring them to me.”
Me: “No, you can get them yourself.”
H: “NO! Me little, not big!”

Harper: “Me want a carrot!”
takes bite
H: “Yuck! It’s not delicious for my tummy.”

While watching a live stream of a jellyfish aquarium:
Chloe: “How does a jellyfish know where to go if they don’t have any faces?”

Harper “ADDI!! Shhhhhhhhhhh! My Rocky toy seeping. SHHHHHHHHH”
Addi “Harper, your toys are NOT real. They don’t sleep.”
Harper “UUGGGHHHHH You woke him up! Grrrrrr woof woof woof woof”

While brushing our teeth:
Harper “But, I don’t see a mirror.”
Me “I know. We took it down because it hurt me and I don’t want it to hurt you. We have a new one.”
H “How about pink?”
Me “I think it’s white.”
H “But, we could make it pink.. or blue.”

 

my girls

 

While Harper was miserable and sick:
Me “My poor baby..”
Harper “Mommy, me said me NOT A BABY!”
Me “Oh, you’re not a baby? Then what are you?”
H “A girl.”

Addison “Mommy, can I have a blanket from my room?”
Harper “I want to get it!”
runs to Addi’s room and brings her a blanket

Scott “Harper, why do you have those spoons?”
Harper “To rock out!!” banging on a drum with said spoons

Scott, answering Harper’s request for a marshmallow, “ok, but you have to catch it in your mouth..”
Harper “Ok… but my mouth little, not big! See!!” As she stretches her lips as far as they go and opens wide.

 

 

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family life, homeschool, kids, Uncategorized

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.

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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.

family life, kids, story telling

THIS is my Motherhood

This is my Motherhood
Image Source

 

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!

 

baby, holiday, kids, recommendations

Holly Jolly Kids Outfits

Holly Jolly Outfits

Santa Hat Dress // polka dot santa dress // striped deer shirt and pants // knitted deer romper // You Serious Clark? // Fair Isle leggings and ruffle shirt // CC beanie // Dinosaur shirt // earflap hat // cloth diaper // Christmas socks // hoodie outfit // bandana bibs //

Hopefully there is something there for everyone. If that Santa hat dress came in my size, I’d wear it all December long.

Someone better put their babe in that YOU SERIOUS CLARK? outfit. Mine are all too big, and it’s too good.

Happy Wednesday!! We are halfway to the weekend!

family life, kids, story telling

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!

family life, kids, Uncategorized

Happy Spring

Oooorrrrr Summer..

It is currently 84 degrees and the temperature keeps climbing.

We are soaking up as much sunscreen covered sunshine as we can. Everyone is covered in dirt and enjoying quiet time now.

We went to visit Scott’s parents yesterday so that Scott could help set some things up for them. The girls love their dog, Sierra. She is such a sweet girl. Harper wasn’t too sure what to think of her at first, but was hugging her by the time we were leaving. haha! 

Papa even took the girls for a ride on his golf cart, which is always a favorite activity of theirs. I love that his purple golf cart has traveled all across the country with them. lol

We also made a trip down to Whole Foods. I had some coupons for a free product that is only sold at Whole Foods in our area. We also stocked up on some sale produce. I love looking in my fridge and seeing all of this goodness. This is probably the best part of Spring/Summer.. sunshine and fresh fruits!!! 

I really cannot wait to plant a garden of my own. In our area, the end of March/early April are the best times to plant; or so I have read. I have some seeds that I will plant, and have a flat of veggies/herbs that I am going to do some container gardening with. We will see if I have a green thumb. I sure hope so!

I am loving all of the spring colors that have been popping up in the stores. I can’t believe that Easter is less than a month away. We are getting all geared up at church for the egg hunt and our incredible Easter service. I just love this time of year.

 

I hope that you are having a wonderful first day of Spring; and that you are at least getting a glimpse of warmer temperatures wherever you are.

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family life, kids, recipes, Uncategorized

Gluten Free/Vegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

cookies

Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies?! I love them. I also love oatmeal raisin cookies. Just kidding. I hate raisins. I love oatmeal, however, so I decided to marry the two and see how it went. YUM!

Here is the recipe:

2 1/2 C All Purpose GF flour (I used this brand– this recipe is adapted from the back of the package)
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
16 TBSP Vegan Butter (I used earth balance sticks)
1/2 C white sugar
1 C packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla (make sure its GF)
2 flax eggs (I use this brand– 1 TBSP flax + 3 TBSP water= 1 egg)
2 cups GF/DF chocolate chips (This is the only brand I have found.)
1 cup GF oats

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. While your oven preheats, cream your butter, sugars, and vanilla. Once creamy, beat in your flax eggs. Slowly add in your dry ingredients (except for chocolate chips and oatmeal). Once this is incorporated well, add in your chocolate chips and oats. Mix until everything is completely incorporated.

Drop your cookies 1 TBSP at a time (Get one of these and you will not regret it!). Bake for approx. 12 minutes until the edges start to brown.

Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

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This cookies could definitely be made without the oats if you are not an oatmeal fan, I just really like the texture. You can also use regular butter and 2 eggs, but they obviously would not be vegan.

I already am eating way too many of these cookies, and all three of my girls are big fans! Let me know if you make these!

I love incorporating baking into our homeschool day. Our kitchen gets extra messy with three little bakers, but I wouldn’t trade that for the world.

My brother-in-law lives in another country. He said that the women there do not let their children cook with them because it is too messy. I was a little shocked by that, because I grew up helping my mom in the kitchen, but I am finding that it is more common.

How is it in your house? Do you prefer to do it all yourself? Do you have a crazy messy kitchen?

baby, family life, kids, natural living, recommendations, Uncategorized

5 Sustainable Baby/Toddler Options

My passion for sustainability started at a strange time. After Scott and I first got married, I was taking Interior Design classes at Missouri State University. (HIGHLY recommend them, if that is your passion.) I remember a professor saying that part of being a designer was being responsibility. Re-using furniture and decor whenever possible; or repurposing it. Another thing she mentioned was starting off using things that were made to last. It really struck a chord with me, and I was hooked.

For some reason, you tend to get laughed out of town for being a “tree hugger”. As a Christian, did God not call us to be good stewards? Wouldn’t that include this beautiful earth that he created for us to care for and enjoy? (Here is a good list to help answer that.)

If we make wise decisions from the beginning, we will waste so much less money and resources.

sustainable-baby

Pura Insulated Bottle– These bottles are so great!! They are made from stainless steel, so you don’t have to worry about the chemicals in plastic. It does have a hefty price tag, but you can replace the nipple with a soft sippy tip, a straw, and a flip top. It lasts FOREVER and grows with your child. If you have multiples, or just want some extra padding, you can purchase silicone sleeves to customize your bottle/cup some more.

Re-Play Recyled– This brand has EVERYTHING! Sippy cups, plates, bowls, flatware, you name it. There is even more than I realized! I have these snack containers and love them. It’s nice to stack a snack for each girl when we all go out, or just have individual snacks during the rare one on one outing. You can read more about their company here.

Cloth Diapers– Cloth diapering is not only earth friendly, but SO budget friendly. I was really intimidated by the idea of cloth diapering, but now I wish I had done it sooner. Don’t let it be intimidating. I love my bum-genius diapers the most, but I also have Alva baby and really like them also. (Babies R Us usually has coupons for Bum Genius.) You can check out my pinterest board if you need some information to help you get started, because it can certainly be overwhelming in the beginning. (My younger sister even made her own wipes, so you can even go as far as that!)

Green Toys– I love this brand! Everything is so cute and well-made. The toys are made from 100% recycled plastic, which is awesome. (Image source) You can see more about how they make their products here.

Refillable Baby Food Pouches– These are amazing! I own a different brand, but the zipper is extremely difficult to zip. These have really good reviews, plus there are lots of others out there. I loved making my own baby food. I knew exactly what was going into it, it was a huge money saver, and I could make a wider variety for my babies to try. I still fill these pouches with applesauce for outings, and they come in very handy when a stomach bug has invaded your home and no one has the strength to sit up.

Another great tip is to buy quality. I have said this before, so I may sound like a broken record. Buy items that will last. Check re-sale shops and B/S/T pages on Facebook and you can find quality items at a much lower price. You don’t HAVE TO pay full price. Check for deals! Amazon sometimes has products that have been opened before for significantly cheaper, even though they are still in perfect condition. That is how we got our high chair for such a steal!!

I have loved this journey of finding sustainability; especially as a family of five. If we can reduce our footprint, even by a fraction, then I will be pleased.

What are some things that I could add to this list?