Summer roadschooling: Charleston edition

(I know, I know… I still haven’t done the Historic Triangle posts! It’s coming. 🤞🏻)

This past weekend, we down to Charleston, SC to sneak in some history, science, and cultural studies in the middle of fun and family time.

Day 1

We started off with a downtown Charleston history tour and carriage ride. Maybe it is because I’m gearing up and buying books for our Revolutionary War study, but I was particularly drawn to how SC was influential in the Revolutionary War— instead of the Civil War, which is what I naturally think about due to Ft. Sumter being right there.

We hung out at the Old Slave Market before heading to our hotel. Interesting Sidenote: they didn’t actually sell slaves at the slave market. It was where the slaves (and other household workers) would go to get groceries and other sundry things. (Charleston, tragically, was a major import and contributor to slavery, but most of the selling/trading occurred on the docks of the city.)

Day 2

My husband has been wanting to go to Rodney Scott’s BBQ ever since we saw the documentary about Scott and his delicious craft on Netflix. Father’s Day in Charleston was the perfect excuse to go!

After indulging in delicious ribs and the like, we spent a few hours at the SC Aquarium, learning about sea turtles, ocean life cycles and ecosystems, and even got to feed the sting rays! It was very fun and we learned a lot… although I will say that the price point for the aquarium was a bit inflated. If you live nearby and snag the annual membership, though, it would be very cost effective after a few trips! (We probably would have spent the afternoon at the beach, but the weather didn’t cooperate… so Plan B it was!)

Day 3

After checking out, we spend several hours at Boone Plantation. Definitely check out the website for what all it has to offer! I didn’t tell the kids about the tractor tour before we got there, and I’m super glad I didn’t because they had to cancel it due to all the mud from the rain the day before. BUT even without the ride, the time at Boone was worth it!

My 5 year old loved the Butterfly room (we had to go in several times), my 8 yr old loved seeing the horses… and all of the kiddos loved climbing on and in the secret spaces of the gorgeous “Gone with the Wind” oaks.

I appreciated so much how each of the still-standing slave quarters had been turned into mini-museums, documenting the atrocities of that dark time in our nation’s history… and following the timeline to the Emancipation and beyond.

Boone also offers a unique opportunity to learn about Gullah culture, and we got to listen to and watch a wonderful lady speak to us in and about Gullah, sing beautiful spirituals, and give us the gift of learning more about her heritage. If you get an opportunity to go to Boone, please check the times of when the presentations are and fit it into your tours and time there. ❤️

The sun was high and hot by the time we were done at Boone… so we finished out time at Charleston at the fountains downtown. We got to watch our kids get hit by water coming at them at who-knows-how-many-miles-an-hour.

(Yes, the same children who can’t stand to have their hair washed and get water in their eyes. Those ones. 😂)

Like I’ve said before, we aren’t “roadschoolers” in the full extent of the word. We have a mortgage 😂, and can’t take long extended trips, due to an 8 to 5 “normal” job.

But we find firsthand encounters and experiences essential for us in our home learning— so we do it how we can, when we can.

And right now, it’s perfect for us. ❤️

Homesteading school

The end of the school year is fast approaching– if you don’t school year round, that is.

We actually do over here, in a very modified way. We finish up our main yearly curriculum and then jump into a theme that helps unify our summer learning a bit. No structure at all doesn’t work well for us right now… and that’s okay.

(A little caveat: We actually just got back from a “end-of-year” celebration trip to the “Historic Triangle” in Virginia– Jamestown, Williamsburg, and Yorktown. It was so great to wrap up Cycle One of our Gentle Feast learning this year. In history, we studied the discoveries of the Americas, indigenous peoples, and the first settlements/colonies. With Jamestown being less than 8 hours away, it seemed like a great way to see history, and not just read about it. I was amazed at how much my 2nd grader retained from our readings! Williamsburg and Yorktown were a little out of her knowledge-base at the moment, but both places definitely set the stage for this coming year of Colonies through Revolutionary War through George Washington. More on all of this later!)

Back to summer learning.

Last summer, we did Gather Round’s Oceans unit as our main summer “spine.” It was fun and we liked it… and I seriously considered doing GR’s Human body unit this summer for a while.

Instead, I’ve landed on to doing my own kind of thing: Homesteading school.

We are going to take the summer to learn about life skills, survival skills, safety skills, and how people used to live back before we had a lot of modern conveniences. I think these skills aren’t something that should just stay in the past– for a lot of reasons.

(That’s another blog post sometime, I think.)

So, to go along with these skills, I wanted to find some living books to support and enrich us.

Enter Little House books.

We haven’t read them together as a family yet, and I think they will definitely fit the bill with what we are trying to accomplish together this summer.

Because we are all eclectic Charlotte Mason-y over here, and my daughter has asked to start learning how to write and practice cursive, I decided to go ahead and make us some copywork pages to go along with it.

And then I decided that I might as well have a print version of the copywork as well, since J occasionally likes to do letters as well (I don’t push it, since he’s not 6 yet… but if he wants to participate, I don’t discourage him).

Something my girlie likes from a handwriting books she did back in Kindergarten was when copywork was paired with a coloring or drawing/thinking prompt, so I included that in the sheets that I put together as well. Take a peek!

Click here to be taken to the FREE download!

I’ve decided to go ahead and make a page where I will put any samples, pages, etc. that I make as we learn and go along this summer. I’m even making resource of songs that are included in the books for my husband to make simple piano arrangements of! So excited about that. (#perksofacomposinghusband)

If you are interested in downloading Little House and Homesteading freebies, seeing where to get entire downloads and getting ideas to incorporate in your own family, feel free to check back on the Little House/Homesteading Resource page! It’s a work-in-progress right now, but I can’t wait to see what it grows into!

Also, if you have any cool resources, ideas, or have done something amazing with either Little House or Homesteading, I’d LOVE to learn from you! ❤

making rotating curiosity work for YOU

I’ve always been a little jealous of people who have “a thing.”

You know, THEIR thing.

It’s the thing that they always do and are ohsogood at. It’s “the thing” that they do or create or whatever that’s just a part of them. A significant slice of their identity, if you will.

Me? I don’t really have a “thing.” I’ve always been more of a “jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none” type.

When I went off to college, I had the hardest time picking a major– not because I didn’t know what to do. No no. It’s because I wanted to DO IT ALL.

I was almost a humanities major, but I ended up not being because I heard that “no one gets a job with a humanities degree.” (I’m not sure if this is the case or not; all I know is I was kinda scared at the idea of not being able to get a job after college, so that statement was definitely a deterrent to my dabbling in all the things for four years and getting a degree in it. )

Anyhoo.

Last fall, while I was lesson planning for the speech club I coach for, I happened across the idea of rotating curiosity… and all of a sudden, my dilemma in college (and in my life, actually) started making a lot of sense.

Rotating curiosity is what happens when a brain– maybe your own– gets fascinated on an idea, project, etc. You dig in, researching all the things. Starting all the projects. Buying all goods. Painting all the paintings… whatever it is. Depending on how long your brain is fixated, you will pour time and attention into this new things for about four to six months… and then?

The curiosity starts to level out to a non-exciting plateau… that is, before another idea/project comes along and revs your brain back up.

Off to research, plan, and implement all over again!

Now, some people might rotate a bit faster than others; there’s not necessarily a “set time” to be curious on one set thing. But no matter how fast or how slow, it is there– an ebb and flow of new things to think about and (perhaps) actually do.

Once I realized that rotating curiosity is actually”a thing,” and not just some weird deficit in myself, something began to shift in me.

You see, I always felt badly that I couldn’t just “stick to one thing.” Or be an expert on a *certain* craft. Or really be proficient at a *certain* art or communication subset. I would tell myself that maybe if I would just not move on and be consistent for more than a few months, maybe I could actually become really, really good at something.

However, rotating curiosity itself seems to be a sign or symptom of a type of of people– people who love learning and who aren’t content to just pass by a hyperlink that says “for more information about <<such and such>>, click here.” One could be said that rotating curiosity makes me– and people like me– experts in the process of education: being exposed to an idea, researching it, analyzing it, applying it. Basically, we bloom taxonomy our whole lives, ad nauseam.

And yes, I just used “bloom taxonomy” as a verb. Sorry about that.

(By the way, if you just looked up or clicked on that taxonomy link… I want to say hello there, fellow rotating curiosity friend! Ha!)

I think the best thing about learning about rotating curiosity and its existence is how influential it has been in helping me accept a part of myself that I have struggled with for a long time.

So, instead of fighting it or feeling bad about it, I decided to take some time to analyze how I to use this cycle to my advantage.

Let me share some ways in the past few months I have embraced and worked with the advantages of rotating curiosity in my life… and maybe how you can use them in yours.

Allow whatever your current fixation is to anchor your day in enjoyment.

Let whatever it is that you are currently “in to” be this nice reward you give yourself throughout your day, especially if you are facing tasks you don’t like or are in the midst of a monotonous season. For instance, around Thanksgiving this past year, I started painting peg dolls. (If you don’t know what they are, feel free to go down that really cute, free-play rabbit hole.) I painted Native American and Pilgrim playsets, and then used my momentum to jump into Christmas season and paint Nativity sets. I filled my Instagram feed with peg doll accounts and loved the inspiration of seeing cute wood toys and getting ideas from different faces and animals… until I didn’t. So, I unfollowed the accounts once I got tired of pegs and put my supplies away. Right now, I’ve rotated onto crochet, and 4 baby blankets later… can feel the passion waning again. Once I’m done with my current project, I’ll put it away and move on to something else. And that’s okay. Because I’ll know I’ll be back.

That leads me to my second tip in using rotating curiosity in your favor.

Use your current fixation to go deeper into the topic and add to your skill set.

I find that I tend to rotate through creative cycles. I crochet, and then I get tired of it. I paint, and then I get tired of it. I handletter, and then I get tired of it. I embroider and felt… and then I get tired of it. You get the picture. Here’s the thing though– I always come back. It rotates back around, and when it does, I take it one step further. I learn a new painting technique. I try a new crochet pattern. I learned a new way to shape or space my letters. Take advantage of your curiosity cycle to become a little bit more knowledgable about what you are interested in each time. That way, eventually, you will become a “jack of all trades, a master in SOME.”

Third…

Find out what type of fixation is good for you to use as an anchor.

For instance, I love writing and reading– but don’t use those as an anchor of enjoyment for me right now. Why? Because I like to do both of those things uninterrupted. Once I’m in an “idea playground”– whether because I’m writing or because I’m infatuated with someone else’s words– I don’t like being bothered. In fact, I can get a tad grumpy if I’m interrupted 100 times. This tendency doesn’t serve me or my children well during the day… so I just avoid it, and leave idea playgrounds for when the children are in bed/aren’t around. Podcasts and audiobooks are also in this category. Meanwhile, I can answer 1,000 questions and crochet another row of a blanket at the same time… so that works for me.

And last, but not least…

Unleash the power of rotating curiosity on something that you are already doing… that you can’t rotate out.

Let me give you an example. Back in March of last year, I started toying with the idea of sourdough bread making– in fact, I got curious about it. <<Insert buying an authentic sourdough starter from San Francisco here.>> I read a ton of articles, got myself a basket or two– and off I went. Here’s the thing with sourdough, though. It becomes a little bit on-going. Unlike a crochet hook and a skien of yarn, I can’t just tuck it in a basket in a closet for months and instantly revive it when I feel like it. Nope– it’s a little bit like a pet or one of those Tamagotchi pets from the ’90s. You have to feed it, and deal with it’s discard. And if you forget to do either one of those things– it’s not going to make it.

So here I am, a year later… still making sourdough.

One year is a pretty long rotation of curiosity for me– and to be honest, it did start waning. But I didn’t want it to. So what did I do? I started rotating my curiosity in various ways about making bread itself. I rotated through scoring designs. I rotated through various recipes for the sourdough loaf itself. I started figuring out how to tweak it for dinner rolls. Right now, I’m fiddling with how many cool things I can make with the discard INSTEAD of just dinner rolls and boules. With each rotation, recipe, scoring design… I get a little bit more proficient. My bakes improve. My repertoire of what I can do with fermented goop discard becomes more and more useful and creative.

So there they are: 4 ways YOU can use the power of rotating curiosity to your advantage. I hope they help shape your thoughts as you use your unique gift. And if nothing else, I hope that’s exactly how you see rotating curiosity now– a gift that keeps you a curious, life-long learner.



The Big Four

Imagine: I’m not sure if you celebrate “pi/pie day”– but if you do, you know it is going to sneak in soon on 3/14! It happens to fall on a Sunday this year, so making a pie might include my husband, so that’s exciting because he’s a much better baker of desserts than I am. Maybe with his touch, we can pull off one of the creative pie crusts in this So Yummy youtube video clip! Also, I think it would be so fun to tap into your kids’ imaginations by cutting out some paper into large circles and have them design their own pie crusts and transfer that idea from paper to an actual crust!

I don’t know about you, but I simply love the “individual pie” idea around the 7 minute mark!


Encourage: If you don’t follow Jami Nato on Instagram, you should. She’s an amazingly funny and deep individual. Her stories crack me up… and her posts touch my heart. I’ve had the privilege of seeing her speak in real life, and her authenticity and humor are just delightful. She’s walked through deep waters and did not drown, and uses her experiences and stories to encourage women on their journeys in marriage and motherhood. Give her a follow and see for yourself! I particularly needed the perspective she offered in this post at jaminato about growing babies and making memories in the young, exhausting years.

Educate: Are you looking for a made-for-you lesson plan for St. Patrick’s day coming up? Go ahead and take a peek at this post from last year that I put together. It covers ideas to touch on Language Arts, Cooking, Music & Art, and even Physical Education by learning a few Irish jig steps!

Enjoy: Sometimes, a wonderful way to infuse enjoyment is by just making something you do every single day feel a little extra special. That’s exactly what Beth at charcutiesforcuties on Instagram does with her kid-friendly, fun-themed food boards. Her Dr. Seuss “green eggs and ham” idea was so very fun– and simple! Go visit her and check out her other fantastic meals!

the holiday of everyday.

Enjoyment.

We talk about how learning (and life) should be a delight… and often we think that involves huge, elaborate plans or trips to amusement parks and Disney World.

But enjoyment displays itself so beautifully in the minor moments— in the time we take to embrace the little things.

This week was full of enjoyment for us over here! First of all, E wanted to do lots of Valentine’s day crafts– too many for one day. So, we spread them out and did one a day while doing our reading and morning time. Insert mornings of valentine heart paper chains and paper hearts and homemade heart poptarts and valentine making… all leading up to “I love you” fondue-– our yearly Valentine’s day tradition.

homemade raspberry jam pop tarts. warning: lots of flour went everywhere during the making of these 3 hearts. hahaha!

I don’t know about your kiddos but mine like small bites, sticks, and dip… so “I love you” fondue has been and continues to be a hit. I mean, sure, some strawberries were lost in the pot of chocolate… and the toddler ate the cheese like soup… and my table looked like a Pollock painting 😂, ..but the giggles and memories and the comfort of this simple tradition brings up a spring of gratitude every year.

My best enjoyment.

BUT there was another holiday we celebrated this week, in the midst of all that brought enjoyment over here, especially to my 5 year old boy!

We celebrated National Pizza Day! (which for your future pizza-loving pleasure is February 9th. Mark it down!) It’s one of those silly random holidays that most people ignore… but man. Why ignore National Pizza Day when it would bring a day of delight to your buddy?

For breakfast? We used hashbrown patties as a base, used gravy as a sauce, added cheese, and used cut up bacon as “pepperoni.”

For lunch? We used homemade pitas, spaghetti sauce, and cheese and made our own little pizzas “lunchables.”

For dinner? You guessed it. This time, we ordered pizza. (Which we rarely do.)

J, my buddy, was in HEAVEN all day long! (And no worries– the pizza was rounded out by lots of cut-up veggies, fresh fruit, lalalala. 😂)

If I wanted to take it a step further into it’s own educational celebration of pizza, we could have delved into the origins of pizza, variations of pizza by location (in Europe and/or in the US), how to divide a pizza into fractions, etc., etc. So many things you can do!

Maybe next year.

This year, we just had fun eating more pizza(ish) foods in a day than we do all month. 😂

Having each day be a holiday would be a bit much, I think. BUT making more days holidays than we currently do would be a delight.

In case you are wanting to add some more holiday fun and enjoyment into this month, let me drop some lesser-known holidays down below.

Feb 15MondayGumdrop Day
Feb 16TuesdayDo a Grouch a Favor Day
Feb 17WednesdayRandom Act of Kindness Day
Feb 18ThursdayBattery Day
Feb 19FridayChocolate Mint Day
Feb 22MondaySingle Tasking Day
Feb 22MondayBe Humble Day
Feb 23TuesdayInternational Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day
Feb 24WednesdayTortilla Chip Day
Feb 26FridayPistachio Day
Feb 26FridayTell a Fairy Tale Day
Feb 27SaturdayInternational Polar Bear Day
Feb 27SaturdayNo Brainer Day
Feb 27SaturdayWorld Sword Swallowers Day
Feb 28SundayPublic Sleeping Day
taken from https://www.timeanddate.com/holidays/fun/

I’m eyeballing “Random Act of Kindness,” “Chocolate Mint,” “Tortilla Chip” and “Tell a Fairy Tale” Day. In fact, I have a brand new fairy-tale themed game that would be perfect to whip out for telling any fairy tales!

I’ll leave off with a quotation from Julie Bogart, the author of The Brave Learner. She talks soooo much about enchantment and celebration: “Enchanted education and living are all about small surprises of happy—scattered, littered, peppered throughout garden-variety days.”

What surprises will you scatter in your week today– for your kids AND for you?

The Big Four

Imagine: When this crossed my feed, I instantly fell in LOVE! Kelli, at well_oiled_farmhouse did a collaborative embroidery piece with her daughters that turned out just GORGEOUS! What a great way to be creative and create a memory, a story, AND a beautiful piece of textile art!

Encourage: I love this post by give.them.beauty on Instagram about having faith while we are waiting lessons and knowledge to grow. (Also, love that she connects this to sourdough starter/bread!)

Educate: One tool that I love for my own personal development, as well as for learning over here is my subscription to Scribd. I know that there are other free services (Hoopla, looking at you), but Scribd has a TON more bestsellers and audio options on there than what I find on the free services. We currently use Scribd for two of our school read alouds, and I play audiobooks from it while we are in the car. There’s a super delightful audiobook of a collection of stories by Julia Donaldson (author of the Gruffalo, etc.). They have fun sung narrations after each story, and the reader is fantastic. (I tend to be super picky about readers and can argue with them in my head about how they interpreted a line or character, ha!) If you have Scribd, include the stories in read aloud time… and if you don’t have Scribd, take a look at it. You might find it super helpful! (Get a free 60 days trial if you use my link!) If you have Audible or just want to check out the recording I’m talking about, here’s a pic to help find the right one. 😉

Enjoy: This tidbit adds to what we were talking about above, but let me tell you about what we did just the morning. Our family is down to one car right now (a LONG story that includes a windstorm that felled a tree on our SUV and other odd circumstances), so we all load up to take my husband to work OR stay at home all day long. Most days, the husband takes the car and we just stay home, because pandemic. Today, we have music lessons in the afternoon, so I need the car today. It’s been raining for 40 days and 40 nights over here (#jokingnotjoking), and this morning was the first in FOREVER that the sun actually shined. The kids immediately began BEGGING to go to all the parks within a 50 mile radius since it was sunny and we actually could go somewhere. However, it is hovering at freezing, and there is standing water everywhere. In other words, we can’t go to the park.

So what did we do instead? Something we never do.

I went through a drive thru, and ordered 3 different kinds of breakfast biscuits and some hashbrowns. We went home, where I made a charcuterie board of it all, along with cut up fruit, and we had a breakfast tasting. The kids ranked their favorite sandwiches and we put juice in tea cups. Mood lifted.

Now, excuse me as I go and use a hair dryer on my lawn to speed up this drying process… 😂

enjoying life in the midst of no margin


I saw this quotation on Instagram this week, and my gut response was “well, work. Work is what I am doing with my ‘wild and precious life.'”

And then I promptly felt grumpy. 😆

You see, I know it’s not true. I know I have accomplished and am accomplishing and will accomplish way more in my life than doing laundry and being on hold with the IRS to figure out where in the heckie heck my 2019 refund check is just to be hung up on EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. (Yes, we filed on time. No, they haven’t given us a refund. Yes, we have it on autodraft. Yes, they received it.)

Things like that make me feel like my life is happening TO me, and I have no choice but do do things that corrode my soul.

And again, I know that’s not true.

But knowing something and feeling something are two entirely different things.

I know that when I start feeling this claustrophobic feeling of soul drain that I need to do two things:

1) Respect my lack of margin. This means saying no to extras. It means not accepting invitations to be a special speaker or teach new things or basically do anything extra than what I’m currently doing that will take up my time or headspace. Not until margin returns.

2) Infuse easy fun in my life. I don’t like feeling like life is all work and no play. No one does. One of the saddest phrases in the world to me is ““Life is hard. Then you die. Then they throw dirt in your face. Then the worms eat you. Be grateful it happens in that order.” I don’t know about you, but that motivational speech really makes me want to get up and at ’em in the morning.

The conundrum is that sometimes, I feel like I have to plan the fun. Go to a park. Plan an activity. Make plans in the evening. And all of the planning takes… you guessed… margin. Also, the weird thing on running low with margin is that you don’t exactly know when it is going to bottom out. I might make plans to go out… but then on that day, a bunch of drama happens that eats into energy. And then I regret making the plans. It’s weird.

So, how can I– or you– respect both truths? How can we respect both the lack of margin AND the need for fun?

Claim the little moments.

Let me list a few things that happened recently that respected both principles and lifted my spirits this week.

  • Night soccer: My 5 year old boy got a little air-soccer ball for Christmas. It’s rechargable and lights up. One night, we turned off the lights downstairs and stood in the entrances of the kitchen and hallway and living room and pretended they were goals. No scores were kept and no one won or lost. It was 10-15 minutes of impromptu fun, laughter, and a little talking smack and was the perfect way for the evening to end.
  • Baking: As you know, our family learns at home… and most of the time, we don’t need much coaxing to gather together and read some stories and continue our learning in the afternoon. But one day this past week, it just seemed that everyone was on edge, and I just knew that coming back to our agenda once the toddler was napping wasn’t going to go well. I didn’t have time to go into all-out baking mode… but I did find a cake mix stuffed in the back of my pantry. A couple of eggs, some oil, and essential oils for extra zing (instant lemon vitality cake!) and we had an impromptu learning tea party. The kids were excited about the surprise cake and that trickled over into the the things we needed to accomplish.
  • “Tickle zone”: I am not a morning person. And neither are my kids, really. I mean, they like to get up earlier than I do, but at the same time, don’t wake up super peppy. Well, neither of my girls do. My middle male kiddo, J, does– and this actually creates conflict. He wants to get in E’s and L’s faces and insist on playing right away. They don’t return his enthusiasm. 😆 I regularly ask him if he wants to climb up and snuggle for a bit– to give the girls some space and to give me a few more minutes in bed. He often doesn’t want to rest anymore. So this week, I happened upon the “tickle zone.” The only way he activates the “tickle zone” is by climbing up in bed next to me and lying down. Then small little tickles start and gradually grow. (He LOVES being tickled.) The tickle zone keeps him with me and away from the girls. The day starts with laughter instead of fighting (which is VERY margin-depleting when I’m running low anyway). It takes no prep and infuses fun. It’s a win/win.
  • Funny filters: These are SO great to whip out with no prep to lighten the mood. Big eyes, squeaky voices, animal faces. They are ridiculous and silly and always bring giggles. Giggles are so much better than afternoon cranks– for the kids and for me. 😉
  • Remembering and sharing funny memories/times: This last one is for me, and is not connected to the kids and their needs and moods at all. When I get super busy and overwhelmed, the thought of making plans to connect with friends adds to the load. I tell myself all the time it shouldn’t be that way, and that I’ll feel better if I make the effort to reconnect. But when I have little margin, it’s just hard to even push myself to make plans and get out of the house kid-free. Just in the past couple of days, I taken a few minutes here and there to Marco Polo a couple of my dearest friends. It started out just exchanging a couple of “remember when…” stories, and turned into other topics, like conversation does. But just seeing their faces and making touchpoints with them– especially as our day-to-day lives don’t do that so often anymore– has just been mood-lifting. 1) No planning respects my margins. 2) Connecting and sharing life and stories increases my fun.

My challenge to you this week is plan some fun in your day. OR if your margins don’t allow for that right now, find small, simple moments to infuse some fun in. It doesn’t have to be big and elaborate. For me this week, it was some tickles and lemon cake tea time and a few Marco Polos.

Those few extra moments of enjoyment made my life feel a little more wild and precious.

Find moments for you feel like your life is wild and precious, too.


This Week’s Big 4

Imagine: This week coming up, we are bringing out the Brush painting/lettering again this week. I’m actually going to play around with using the brush techniques to make Valentines while the kiddos do their thing. We’ll see how it goes.


Encourage: I’m loving this book the kids and I are reading together in our Morning Basket time. I’ll drop my Instagram post about it here.

Educate: The Inauguration this week allowed us to have the once-in-a-4-year opportunity to see and talk about the transition of power of our nation. We looked at a photo collage of all the presidents so far, and E (my 8 year old girl) asked why there weren’t women in it. We talked about how our new Vice President is a woman, and that women did and can run for president, but hasn’t been one yet. She said that the next time a woman ran for president, she would vote for her because she was a woman. *That* led to an interesting conversation about why we should vote for someone, if gender should be a part of that reasoning, and how we have to consider the ideas and laws someone supports when we vote. We came up with laws we would want to pass if we were president. It was a great conversation!

Enjoy: Because Bernie is trending in the light of the Inauguration, I just couldn’t help myself. You know, since we mentioned margin. 😂

Decide once.

“Decide once.”

I first read this phrase when I opened my birthday gift to myself– a copy of The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi.

The principle should be pretty self explanatory in its simplicity, but I’ll add a few words anyway. Basically, instead of reinventing the wheel all the time, decide once about the things that can be decided once about… and then lather, rinse, repeat.

Truth be told, I have done this in several areas of my life. For instance, lesson planning. I teach part-time both college and high school, as well as homeschool my own kids. During the day with my kids, I try to have these 4 things in some way: imagination, encouragement, education (obviously. We homeschool.), and enjoyment. I want all 4 in my day, and try to actually think through and plan those out. More on that in another post.

I also try to incorporate each of those principles in my communication lesson plans via activities, one-on-one, discussions, projects, etc. It’s important that students get creative, feel confidence, learn something, and have fun. Those things are what matter to me.

However, I will admit to not being so awesome at deciding once in my home life. I don’t like feeling “tied down”/committed to something when I don’t want to be. For being married with three kids, I’m a bit of a commitment phobe. (I don’t even have a yearly plan for my cell phone people.)

As much as I love NOT feeling tied down, the stress that comes when I don’t know what’s next with certain things is NOT fun for me. When it was just me and my husband working full time and I didn’t know what was for dinner? We both said, “NO problem!” and went out to eat. Fast forward 10 years and 3 kids later, and that decision isn’t feasible anymore. It costs way more to eat out, and then schedules get all thwarted, and kids have meltdowns in public, etc. You get the picture.

So, thanks to budgets and routines, dinner needs to be home most nights. And around the same time, too.

Funny thing is, I actually love cooking and meal planning and trying new recipes and foods. But here’s another thing: right now, it isn’t worth the extra time. I don’t want to re-invent the wheel every week… especially when my kids are at the age that extra time in the kitchen to learn and try new recipes just ends up stressing me out. (Hello toddler, pulling your diaper off in the middle of the kitchen and peeing on the floor while my hands are in raw meat… I’m looking at you.)

The answer for me right now: decide once.

Let’s chat about what that looks like.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, our family has music stuff until, basically, 5. This tight turn-around makes dinner prep nigh impossible. Answer? Tuesday/Thursdays are either slow cooker/instant pot/ or kid friendly charcuterie board nights. Right now, we are doing a lot of soups and a roast occasionally.

Saturdays are pizza and movie nights. Most weekends, we make our pizza at home… but every once in a while, we will Papa John it.

Sunday nights are breakfast-for-dinner nights.

This leaves MWF “open.” One of those nights will be a steak and caesar salad night. We get all of our beef from Butcher Box and love how tasty their grass-fed food is! Also, caesar dressing is SO easy and tasty to make from home if you follow this easy hack: fish sauce instead of grinding sardines. (GAG) I got the idea and my initial recipe from vietworldkitchen. (After making it several times, I just eyeball all the ingredients in her list and don’t look it up.)

That leaves 2 days a week for me to plug in a family favorite or try something new or have my 8 year old choose and make dinner.

Or have wiggle room for special occasion nights.

That amount of flexibility is perfect for me.


This week’s Big 4:

Imagine: I would have liked to have done more here this week– something a bit more original that “just coloring” or “just doing playdoh,” but that was what we did this week. We are still recovering from Christmas, coming in from out of town, unpacking, being hit hard with meetings/speech competitions, and physical limitations this week. This next week, I’m thinking about having the kiddos make a map to go along with the travels we are reading about in the Pilgrim Progress adaptation, Dangerous Journey. They also really love watching other kids’ “plays” of stories, so once we are done, we will have movie time with this video.

Encourage: The kids and I are memorizing Romans 8:31-39 this quarter. Saying the words each morning, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” encourages my heart– especially as some personal trials seem very much “against” me right now. I love this reading of the passage, and listen to it each morning as well.

Educate: We are learning about different Native American tribes for history right now… and I’m using the Family “jeopardy” app on our Apple TV to make a game out of what we are learning. Both my 8 yo girl and 5 yo boy are LOVING learning about the different cultures, and my daughter can’t wait until we get to Cherokee, as Papa (my grandfather) was half. I remember going camping in the reservation and getting to see tribe members dress in their dance regalia and just being mesmerized. I’d love to take a field trip up to the Oconaluftee Indian Village once we can!

Enjoy: We bundled up on a sunny day and hung hammocks that the two “bigs” got for Christmas outside. The kiddos stared at the sky through the branches of the trees and looked at the clouds. Made me wish I had gotten a hammock, too. But it was so nice to just watch them enjoy it. Isn’t that parenthood, my friends?

Zesty Lemon Bars (HFLC/Keto/GF)

It’s been a while since I’ve tried from-scratch desserts in the kitchen that take more than 3 seconds… but this summer has seen me begin to do so again, with fruit-based, refreshing favorites.

I posted recently on Insta about a yummy lemon bar that I tried, adapted, and made… and how great it turned out.

And I’ve been promptly asked for a recipe. 😀

This isn’t a cooking blog, so I don’t have a fancy shmancy recipe card template or a fabulously long and nostalgic story about the significance lemon bars have had in my life, HA!

I hope that doesn’t deter you from trying these. 😉


the recipe

ingredients
1/2 c butter
1 and 3/4 c almond flour (fine)
1 c sugar substitute (xylitol/erythritol blends are good)
juice from 3 lemons (or bottled lemon juice equivalent)
3 eggs
1/4 tsp baking powder
salt
powdered sugar substitute (for dusting)
Lemon Young Living Vitality EO

directions
1. Preheat an oven to 350 F. Mix melted butter, 1 cup of almond flour, ¼ cup sugar sub and a pinch of salt together in a small bowl. Combine and pour into an 8” x 8” pan lined with a sprayed pan.

2. Bake for 20 minutes and then let it cool while you mix step 3.

3. In another bowl, combine the lemon juice, eggs, ¾ cup sugar sub, ¾ cup of almond flour, a pinch of salt, 1/4 tsp baking powder and 4 drops of lemon vitality. Whisk together very well to incorporate the eggs.

4. Pour the filling onto the cooled crust and bake for 21-23 minutes. Allow the bars to cool in the refrigerator for several hours until firm enough to cut into squares. Dust with additional powdered sugar sub to decorate. Keep stored in the fridge.


I will fully admit to cutting these and eating one while they are warm because I’m impatient. They were okay warm… but MY LANDS. They are AMAZING once you actually let them cool. Both the textures and flavors are ON POINT if you are patient.

<<sigh>>

Patience.

It’s a virtue, they say.

Anyhoo, give the recipe a go and let me know what you think!

St. Patty’s Fun!

Want a little St. Patty fun tomorrow… but don’t have time to print a bunch a stuff out or prepare a lesson plan?

Here’s a handful of ideas to throw together a great day of Irish-themed learning!

Language Arts

Irish Storyteller Michael R. Kasony-O’Malley of Columbus, Ohio shares “Bridgette and the Lurikeen,” an old Irish folktale about a girl and a leprechaun. Fun storytelling and Irish culture combine in this fun retelling!

Feel free to ask your kids to narrate the story back to you, ask them their favorite part, or even to reenact it to check their understanding and attention. 😉

For those kiddos who are older and might want try their hand at some creative writing, have them try writing their own limerick! According to britannica.com, “the origin of the limerick is unknown, but it has been suggested that the name derives from the chorus of an 18th-century Irish soldiers’ song, “Will You Come Up to Limerick?” So, definitely some strong Irish roots there!

Cooking (and math. and science. and snacks.)

Make a whole Irish meal! Or just pick one or two! Snacks are good, too!

What’s great about being in the kitchen is that it can cover soooo many subjects! Measuring? From counting, to fractions, to multiplying (if doubling or halving a recipe), it’s math.

Wanna dig a little deeper about why and how bread actually becomes bread? That’s science, my friend!

Music & Arts

Traditional Irish music is so fun! This video pairs some pretty photographs of Ireland with The Chieftan’s recording of O’Sullivan’s March.

Learn how to draw a leprechaun! This is such an easy step-by-step for several ages.

Physical Education

And last but not least, grab your kiddos and learn how to do a little Irish jig… all while getting your exercise in!

Hope that this offers a fun, St. Patty-shape to your time at home!

Fine Arts Fridays, Flies, and a Neat Resource

As the instagram post below mentions, my kiddos and I had fun this week reading the Vietnamese folktale, The Fly. It opened up a lot of fun conversations about how to be clever with words and use them in creative, problem-solving, even funny ways.

Language Arts is such a GREAT way to sneak in some of those Big Juicy Conversations that we love to have over here… but you know something else I love to use Language arts for?

As a springboard for Art… art.

Today, staying in theme of flies, we decided to draw them.

Now, we do have a separate, more “classical” art curriculum that we use and enjoy. It officially covers things like shape and light and balance.

But there’s a time and a place for all types of learning, right?

If you don’t already know about, please check out Art for Kids Hub on Youtube. My 7 year old, especially, could watch several of their videos and just draw her day away!

Now, their channel isn’t an art curriculum, per se. But there is definitely value in learning basic things like step-by-step instructions, watching how people make and do certain techniques, etc. It’s nice to see a demo and to be able to pause and rewind if they need to see something again. There’s also a more immediate “look at this!” pride that comes from doing these little videos and being able to draw something in just a few minutes.

Art Hub has SO many videos of all different types of things to draw (and even simpler ones for pre-school ages) that you can more than likely find a video to incorporate in whatever you are learning about. (Hello there, unit study activity!)

With easy resources just a click away, there’s no reason to not incorporate a drawing or two on a Friday.

Or any other day that ends in Y.

Super Simple Pumpkin Unit: another easy Halloween add-on!

Another simple halloween lesson, for those who want some #easyenchantment while reading, playing games, doing math, covering science, and a craft. It’s raining here, so our outdoor fun is a little limited today.

We read the Vanishing Pumpkin by Tony Johnston. If you don’t have the book, they have several youtube clips that have people reading it. Here’s one!

Then, we played The Vanishing Pumpkin by making a spoof off of Doggie Doggie Where’s Your Bone and Hide and Seek. One kiddo would sit in a chair, and another kiddo would get up, “snitch the pumpkin,” and hide it in the room.

Then we’d sing “Happy Halloween, Happy Halloween, you’re pumpkin’s been snitched./ Happy Halloween Halloween, was it me or a witch?” (Do your own thing here, cuz we just made it up and sang it to the tune of “Happy Halloween” from the Nightmare Before Christmas. Which incidentally, my kids have never seen, but are familiar with the tune, just by hearing it here and there.)

After that, we did some math by playing the “Roll a Pumpkin” game! We rolled two dice and followed the rules laid out by Happy Home Fairy’s post.

Our pumpkins definitely were… creative. 😀

We had to add the dice together to play the game, and since we have a preschooler and a first grader, it definitely counts as math for us. In fact, covering simple addition in a fun way? Yes, please.!

Still to do today:

1) a video that covers the anatomy, life cycle, picking, types of a pumpkin, and treats you can make with pumpkin…

AND…

2) painting pumpkins!

Happy Halloween! Enjoy enchantment today!