How to Make Easy Kombucha at Home {DIY fermented foods}

Here are the simple instruction for how we make kombucha at home- our whole family enjoys kombucha, especially the kids. It is so fun in summer when it gets a really wild, fizzy taste from the warm, humid air.

Easy DIY Kombucha at Home

I keep our kombucha in a 2 gallon crock like this one. You can find a SCOBY here.

One-Quart Batch:

  • 1½ teaspoon loose tea or 2 tea bags
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2-3 cups water
  • ½ cup starter tea or vinegar

Half-Gallon Batch:

  • 1 tablespoon loose tea or 4 tea bags
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 6-7 cups water
  • 1 cup starter tea or vinegar

Gallon Batch (I double this for the 2 gallon croc):

  • 2 tablespoons loose tea or 8 tea bags
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 13-14 cups water
  • 2 cups starter tea or vinegar
  1. Make the sweet tea by boiling the water, adding sugar, and steeping tea according to instructions; allow to cool completely (hot tea will kill the SCOBY)
  2. Add tea, SCOBY, and starter to the croc/jar and let ferment for 5-7 days.

The more kombucha you make with your SCOBY, the better the flavor will become. Older SCOBYs produce a much more flavorful batch than baby SCOBYs.

What I Use

I like to use a combo of oolong and black tea. You can really use any kind of caffeinated tea. I also like using tea from  Strand Tea. My friend who introduced me to kombucha started me using their teas, and I still use them.

Any kind of white sugar will do for making the tea sweet; because the SCOBY eats it, you don’t need to worry about drinking sugary tea. =)

 

 

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Homeopathy for Flu-like Symptoms 2019/2020

I have read about homeopathy for a very long time; a friend in NE used it often and it really intrigued me. Then about 2 years ago, a neighbor helped us through a tough illness by sharing her homeopathy with us, and I was hooked!

Right away I bought a few reference books (linked at the bottom of this post), and a Top 100 Remedy Kit, and we have used it non stop since!

homeopathy for flu like symptoms 2019/2020


Until last week it has been a healthy fall and winter for our home; we’ve had some colds and a few scheduled surgeries. But one afternoon last week Mister started complaining of his throat hurting and he spiked a fever.

By the next morning he had a 102 temp with all the classic flu symptoms- body aches, headache, and temp were the most relevant symptoms. In the past we have used Boiron Oscillococcinum to keep the flu symptoms to a minimum. We’ve also used Borion Cold Calm with great success for colds.

However, this year the flu doesn’t seem to be responding to the Oscillococcinum as well as in the past. This year the flu seems to be responding well to Genexa Flu Fix; we did start using this once I got some help in a great homeopathy group. The first few days of my son’s flu we were using a few different things, but finally realized Bryonia 30x, Aconite 200c, and Belladonna 200c were the most effective at helping symptoms.

The 5yo came down with it 4 days after my son, and we started her on the above listed remedies and her symptoms have been not only less severe, but she is well much faster! (The first kid is always the experimental pancake haha). When the fever comes back or spikes up, we just do another dose of Belladonna and it stays down for a good long time-I’d say the better part of the day.

Eupatorium perfoliatum, Gelsemium are also high ranking in the flu remedies for this year-you just have to check your symptoms with what fits most. Here is an article on what seems to be the best remedies this year. All of these are found in Genexa Flu Fix, which is probably why it is working so well for most.

If you are unfamiliar with homeopathy, you can find lots of good info here:

I really like this book- it is easy to understand, full of reference, and has just about every ailment you can think of, The Family Guide to Homeopathy: Symptoms and Natural Solutions. If I can use it, anyone can. =)

Cell salts are a simple way to begin also- Homeopathic Cell Salt Remedies: Healing with Nature’s Twelve Mineral Compounds is an easy to follow guide about using them.

Here is a great list of books that may be helpful to you and your family.

 

 

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Preparing for Cold and Flu Season Naturally

preparing for cold and flu season naturally

Photo Credit HERE

This post may contain affiliate links, thank for your support!

So, cold and flu season is almost here!  Obviously I hope none of us get sick, because well … that just isn’t fun!

Obviously there is no way to ensure your family doesn’t get sick, however, there are ways to boost everyone’s immune systems naturally to help ward off illness and lessen the blow when it happens!

We will be:

Will these things keep our family 100% well?  Maybe not, but that isn’t their job.  Combined with healthy foods and other natural lifestyle changes the above list definitely helps with overall health and wellbeing.  When you take care of the internal systems- the gut namely- the rest will take care of itself.

Gut health is so important- if you are having problems in the way of symptoms (think eczema, body aches, migraines, rashes, upset stomach,) look at the diet and gut health first.

Not all bodies are created equally, and not all foods are either.  

In case we do come down with illnesses, I will have my essential oils on hand, and my homemade cough medicine ready to go!  I also want to look into making some elderberry syrup and cough drops- that is on my “to try” list.

What will you do this fall and winter to care for your family?

 

**Disclaimer- This is not medical advice, and is only for information purposes. These are protocols that work for my family, which I feel very comfortable using, and have educated myself about using.  Please talk to your doctor, and only do what you are comfortable with for your family.  God bless!

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Technology Free Ideas for Family Night

Family Night Ideas

Image credit Pixabay CC0 License

Fall is here! That means that it is time to start getting cozy and enjoying the anticipation that the changing season brings. This is the time of year that is perfectly suited for snuggly family nights in, enjoying quality time spent together.

We decided a long time ago, that our family would limit screen time, for everyone. But often parents find it a struggle to get the family in one room without having the kids playing computer games, on a cell phone, or engrossed in a tablet. The kids will soon forget all about their devices when they are having fun with the rest of the family, building relationships and encouraging one another. After all, it is the times that are spent together as a family that make future treasured memories … not the time spent completing the next level of a video game.

Just as kids are easily distracted by technology, adults often find themselves staring at a phone or working on emails during precious time with their kids. Social media, in particular, is especially distracting for adults, and a real drain on time, could be spent with the family, laughing with our kids, and listening to our partners.

Once you have decided to spend a technology-free evening together, you may as well go the whole hog, and say no to watching the TV too! That way, everyone can focus on interacting with each other and being fully present. The trick now is thinking of activities to keep everyone engaged, and having a fun evening without the fuss and bickering that can come with denying children the technology they’re used to.

Here is a little inspiration to get you started:

Get Cooking

Sharing a meal is something you do each day, but in the busy-ness of family life, it may be rushed. To make your family time special, why not get the whole family involved in creating a delicious meal together? You don’t need to make a complicated dinner, just make sure that it includes ingredients that everyone likes so that it is an enjoyable experience. Littles can slice fruit, older kids can slice vegetables, any age child can mash potatoes, stir meat, mix pancakes, the list goes on! Someone can set the table, another pour the drinks, etc.

Most kids love to help with cooking, and it is a perfect way to combine learning with a fun activity. Baking, in particular, is excellent as children get to put their weighing and measuring skills into action, and see how different ingredients combine to create something wholly different. Teaching them how to make banana cream pie and other delicious desserts is a sure-fire way of encouraging an interest in cooking. It is also a great way to spend quality time together.

Once you have all worked together to whip up your tasty feast, it is time to sit down and enjoy it together. Try to make the meal a leisurely one, where everyone is able to chat and get involved in the conversation. Ask open ended questions about everyone’s day- I like to ask what everyone’s favorite part of the day was. Talk about the meal you made as a family, and what other meals you’d like to attempt in the future.

Be Creative

Craft activities are a lovely way to spend family time and are just perfect for cozy fall evenings. When it comes to crafting, the only limit is your imagination. You could create a family collage or scrapbook detailing your best times together, such as special occasions and days out, birthdays and trips. Putting your memories onto paper like this, not only creates something very special to treasure over the years, but also provides a real talking point and the chance to reminisce over favorite times. We love keeping our family journal!

Other examples of excellent family crafts include making greetings cards to send to loved ones. Or, how about decorating pine cones, maybe make a nature picture from fallen leaves (a favorite for littles in our home); the possibilities really are endless.

If you are feeling exceptionally creative, you could make up your own book or comic. Each person could do some drawing and take it in turns to write the next line of text. Kids love to do this, as they like to see their grown-ups having fun and being a little silly. Who knows, this could be a story that becomes a bedtime favorite for many years to come!

 

Family Night Ideas

Image credit Pexels CC0 License

Play Time

If crafting isn’t your thing, why not get yourselves comfortable with a hot chocolate and enjoy a family games night? Lots of people have board games languishing unplayed in cupboards, so why not set up a little tournament and put your skills to the test? Be sure to keep the competition friendly though!

Some of favorite games include: Cobra Paw, Left Right Center, Baggo, Jenga, moose in the House, Rubik’s Race, Rat a tat Cat, and UNO.

As well as being heaps of fun, playing games is an excellent way to teach kids about taking turns. They also help teach valuable life lessons, such as being gracious in defeat, and that you can’t win every single time.

Above all, this is an opportunity to enjoy each other’s company and spend a fun-filled evening together.

What’s your family’s favorite way to spend family night?

  

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Keeping Laying Hens {an easy how-to guide}

Keeping Chickens

Image Credit Pixabay License CC0

You may have read the benefits of raising healthy, free range laying hens-those eggs can be pricey, so raising your own chickens is a great option. You don’t need a great deal of space to keep chickens; a few square feet per chicken in the coop, double that for a run, and you have plenty of space! Owning your own chickens could be a very achievable dream. 

Where To Get Your Chickens

One of the best places to look for chickens will be local farms-you can find these on craigslist, and even facebook marketplace. You will find plenty of people selling chickens of all different ages that are suitable for your needs. Animal rescues will come across chickens for rehoming, as well, so keep your eye out.

Wherever you choose to buy your chickens, you should always look them over first to ensure they are healthy. You especially don’t want to take an unhealthy bird home if you have others in the coop already. Look to make sure their eyes and nostrils are clear, that the scales on their legs are smooth, their feet aren’t crooked or infected on the bottom, and that their beak is straight and closes. You also want to check feathers, and look for any mites that may be living under the downy. Having a safe place to quarantine for 2-3 weeks before introducing to an established flock is recommended to prevent the spread of any illnesses.

Where To Keep Your Chickens

You will need to be aware that your chickens will look like a tasty treat for any local foxes or vermin. With that in mind, you will need to make sure that no predators will be able to get inside your chicken coop. Make sure there are no gaps in the structure; when using wire for the run, a most suggest hardwire mesh, because chicken wire is flimsy and easy for owls, raccoons, and other predators to tear through.

You can build build a structure from scratch, or you could repurpose an existing shed that you may have. Consider the number of hens you will be homing; the more space you can provide for them, the better the quality of life they will have. Cramming lots of birds into a small space can lead to poor health and some very unhappy animals- this can stress them out causing illness. They also won’t lay when stressed.

What To Feed Your Chickens

You will want to make sure that your birds are healthy by providing natural ingredients in their core feed (find more information from companies such as naturafeed). The average hen will need around 100g per day. Be sure to feed morning and night in a sturdy feeder that won’t be knocked over easily, check water pans or waterers (keep them clean!), and don’t forget the treats-aka table scraps! Chickens love cold cabbage, watermelon, and other garden goodies on hot summer days!

Cleaning Out The Coop

Depending on your setup, you will need to make sure to give the coop a full clean out every two weeks or so to protect against red mites. You can choose to don a deep litter method, which is what I do. You still need to keep droppings cleaned up from inside and nest boxes cleaned out, but instead of deep cleaning every few weeks, just add more litter. This is great in the winter to provide warmth.

General Health

To keep your hens healthy, you will need to allow them lots of free time out of the run. Don’t keep them cooped up all of the time-let them roam in your yard, and enjoy watching them! They’re funny. If you have happy chickens, you will have healthy chickens!

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Mid Homeschool Year Update{2018/2019}

You’ve been asking, so here it is:

We have made it to March, which is actually pretty far past mid year. I will break things down per student/age and what we do as a family.

This is going to look like … a lot. I think I say that all the time. We loop schedule our extras, so extras are on a continuous loop that we don’t fret over doing every single day. Because my 8 year old is a very independent learner in most areas, she has a lot of independent-learning-style subjects, as you will see.

Keep in mind we do a LOT of oral learning via reading, memory work review, and research interest led learning. I have each child tell us what they’re learning about so everyone can learn from everyone, in a school house style environment.

Mid/End of Year Homeschool Learning Update

In our homeschool, like most, learning time isn’t confined to the table, so while we do the things listed below, learning expands over our entire day, our entire life.

Family Learning:

  • Sonlight Core B: History, read alouds, and Bible reading. We have LOVED the read alouds this year! (I paired up the SL read alouds with different Arrows from Brave Writer for my oldest, to make a LA program.)
  • Free Writing: We journal and freewrite as part of our family culture. All of my kids enjoy writing stories, and are especially into poems right now. Sometimes I choose something the kids have written to edit and revise together, so they can make their favorite freewrite into a polished piece. Most of these are in their personal journals or school writing notebooks. My husband often gets them journals when he travels to different places/countries, and they are filled quickly! I keep them in hope chest downstairs when they are full.
  • Science/Nature Study: We are currently working from Anatomy of Nature and Anatomy of a Farm; from these pages I choose a topic to study. We recently did honey bees and butterflies. Soon we will begin pond life, because spring is the perfect time to study from our pond! We have also touched on anatomy this year, and a few other topics as interest has arisen.
  • Handicrafts: We do a LOT of handicrafting around here. Almost 100% of it is child led-they have free access to most of our crafting supplies, so crochet, hand sewing, embroidery, whittling, wood working (simple with hammer and nails/saws) ink making, and the list goes on, are done by them during their free times. Thankfully, homeschool allows for a LOT of free time; boredom = creativity and problem solving.
  • Art: We follow a few favorites on youtube and online for art.  Our Read Aloud Revival premium access membership has live artist workshops we attend to learn to draw with wonderful illustrators and authors, these are my kids’ favorites! We also enjoy ChalkPastel.com’s tutorials, and may add their membership to our wish list next year!
  • We use the IXL app on the ipad (read my review here) for extra learning practice because they love it. Because I limit what they are allowed to do online for now, this is something special and educational for them =)
  • Games are part of our schooling and family time. We love games like 4 Way Count Down, uno, and Pass the Pigs. Any GameWright game is a hit here (I don’t do super complicated games). We add family games via Christmas gifts, birthdays, spring basket, and of course, homeschool box day!
  • Morning Basket: (AKA any time of day basket) This is just a fancy homeschooler term for circle time… you know, the thing we all did in preschool through elementary school? Calendar, read a book, learn about something new, review something, sing songs, listen to music, read poetry, do a fun activity, share knowledge, and/or handicrafts? Yep. That’s morning time basket.
  • Read Aloud Revival premium access membership: I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this resource! We missed this months events, due to illness (the flu had us sleeping/resting a LOT), but you can see the schedule

8 Year Old/2nd Grade

Lady works on different levels, anywhere from 2nd+; we still struggle with reversals but writing and spelling continue to improve with cursive and lots of oral practice. Numbers and math operation orders can be difficult with reversals, including reversing math signs. But she knows her stuff and likes oral math challenges against her little brother 😉

  • LA/Writing: We are using Brave Writer Arrows for copywork, and supplemental focus areas (in grammar and spelling), as a literature based approach. We are finishing a Narnia Arrow, because we read, The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe together this winter, and will continue the series through part of spring. All of my kids have just loved this, as have I (since I never read the whole thing as a child-fantasy wasn’t my favorite).
  • Reading: Along with the Arrows that go to read alouds, we are also working through AAR 3. This is not something we do often, because she is such a great intrinsically motivated reader. She needs more emphasis in spelling, so we do way more spelling practice than reading at this time. She does read aloud to me throughout our daily life, a LOT, so we call that reading =) We mostly use AAR when we “do” reading, because she really likes reading the readers to me-haha. At this point, the Arrows from Brave Writer are really enough for her reading and copywork.
  • Spelling: We are using AAS Level 2 with resources from Level 1
  • Vocabulary: We really enjoy the Wordly Wise books, especially their crosswords puzzles and activities found in them. She has learned a LOT from these.
  • Grammar: Along with the grammar topics discussed/pointed out in our Arrows, we are using Easy Grammar. Lady does this independently, without much help from me. We apply what she learns when writing spelling sentences, journaling, freewrites, etc.
  • CLE Math: Lady is working through grade 2 CLE math. We use Saxon math worksheets as a supplement-FYI-I do NOT have her do every page from Saxon. We use the even lessons, sometimes skipping some lessons between. Saxon and CLE are similar on levels, but each approaches their questions and answers differently, and I like this! I feel like it gives her a different way to approach math, and Saxon is good about reminding us to get our hands-on learning things out for practice! Sometimes we don’t even use the worksheet, but just set up hands on learning activities that fit what’s on the paper. It is really just a jumping off point for me, as well.
  • Extras: We loop extras throughout the week. Lady uses CLE’s geography and science workbooks. I am not a huge advocate of workbooks, however, the CLE books are very nice! The illustrations are simple, and very … nature study-ish; they’re lovely and fun to color with pencils if you have a art lover on your hands like I do. She is a visual and audio learner, so reading is one of her best learning super powers, however, she needs practice writing, which the CLE books provide. They bring us both joy, so we stick with them. I also find they are great for her to open on her own when I need to work independently with another child; I love hearing about what she’s learned in these!

Regarding workbooks– These are going to depend on your family’s learning style. Each child is different; some will be bored to death with workbooks! My 4 year old loves them, my 8 year enjoys them, my 6 year old is reading independently enough to do his math alone, and some language arts, but isn’t in love with workbook style learning (with the exception of CLE Bible 1). I am 100% okay with that, so for his age and development we keep them to a minimal.

6 Year Old Boy/Kindergarten

  • Language Arts: We are using AAR Level 2 for his reading. He just finished level 1.
  • LA Extras: We are using The Good and The Beautiful Level 2 for him as well. This is a beautiful curriculum that includes grammar, spelling, and reading, however we don’t use it that way. I will try to make a video on how we implement the program, but we use their spelling list for sight word spelling/common words, and enjoy their readers for extra practice. I really LOVE their practice pages and the grammar concepts covered. This is working better for him than Easy Grammar, at this point. Easy Grammar is a bit more dry and fill in the blank (again, my 8 year old begs to do this!), and that just isn’t Mister’s jam.

**I do not believe there is ever such a thing as too many books or readers at appropriate levels-hence me using so many different ones. Variety is the spice of a nurtured reading life haha**

  • Spelling: He is doing AAS 2 with his sister. Mister is a natural speller, and things that are harder for my 8year old (due to dysgraphia symptoms) are easier for him right now, so they’re actually in the same level.
  • Math: He is using CLE math 1. Math is super easy for this boy, he flies through his books and often asks for more than 1 lesson. He loves dictation word problems, writing math problems, and speed drills.

4 Year Old Girl/PreK

  • This one tags along, and we are slowly going through AAR 1. She can read CVC words pretty well.
  • We use Handwriting Without Tears; next year she will move into A Reason for Handwriting like the others have.
  • Math is Math Eggs K, she loves this book.
  • We also are using Rod and Staff Preschool Set, because *I* love them. They’re so simple, much like the CLE books we use, but they allow her some independent style work, which she likes.

The toddler tags along, of course. As summer creeps upon us, I won’t be doing as many “extras.” We strip down to basics when the weather is nice to allow lots of outside play-we have a farm that is blooming into spring and full of life, so we need to enjoy it while it lasts!

Disclaimer: Some links on this blog are affiliate links; when you use those links you help support my family, at no additional cost to you.  Thank you!

 

Replenishing Homemade Skin Cream Recipe {quick & easy}

In trying to avoid overuse of steroids and other interventions that can cause lasting effects (and be less effective the more we use them),  I have a go-to skin cream we make at home for general wounds.

Eczema Before
It is a salve with coconut oil, bentonite clay, comfrey oil and essentials oils-frankincense, lavender, tea tree. 5+years ago a lady in a natural group helped me make this recipe based off her husband’s recommendation, who was an herbalist. During a case of noro virus, my then 18mo son poopied in his sleep overnight, and I didn’t know it. The next morning his bottom was literally blistered and the skin was peeling. It was horrible!

After applying this cream that morning, the skin started healing and regenerating the same day. Within 2 days he was 85% better; there was new skin covering his entire bottom, no scabbing, no scarring, and even better? When applied in a thick layer it protected his bottom when he had to wear a diaper. (Mostly he laid on me for 3 days, sans diaper, but when he needed to sleep in his bed, which he preferred, or wanted to sit in the floor, he needed a diaper.)

This cream is amazing!

So when I saw my 8yo daughter’s hands this past week, covered in eczema, I knew what we needed to use.

Usually eczema can be traced to the gut-leaky gut to be exact- due to poor gut balance/health. However, in this case I believe it is atopic-too much hand washing, cold, dry air, and not enough moisturizing.

We are going to use homeopathy constitutions based on her particular eczema, and this cream, in hopes it will heal from the inside out, and stay gone for good. Steroid creams and prescriptions don’t work on the root cause of eczema, they sometimes quiet the symptoms without addressing the root cause of the illness/ailment to begin with.

Here is what you need to mix up for the cream:

  1. 1 cup organic coconut oil
  2. .5 cup bentonite clay
  3. 2tsp of comfrey oil
  4. 10-15 drops each: frankincense oil, lavender oil, tea tree oil (I use Young Living)
  5. Whip it up in an electric mixer for a thicker, creamier consistency. But mixing with a spatula will do, too. Store in an airtight container. That’s it!

We use this for cuts, scrapes, diaper rash, and other minor skin uh-ohs. I usually keep it in the toddler’s dresser basket, since she needs it the most! haha

I also love Young Living’s Animal Scents cream. We use this for everything, too. When we travel I throw this in my bag, and keep my homemade stuff at home. I do not sell oils from my personal stash at retail cost(plus tax and shipping), but you can sign up to receive your oils at a 24% discount, including discounted shipping, with no monthly obligation. (I do place monthly orders for our family, because I like to save my points for bigger purchases at the end of the year, but you do NOT have to do a monthly order to get the discount.)

 

I you have dry, cracked skin this winter, try this homemade skin cream! (and come back to let me know how it worked for you.)

Homeschool Curricula Choices & Why They Don’t Matter {Part I}

Every year spring comes-the flowers, the rain, the joy of the nearing end of the school year …

and the excitement every homeschool mom has planning next school year’s curricula. Then summer, and finally, fall! Aaaah yes, you see, if you aren’t a homeschooling family, what you may not know is:

Most every homeschool mom was once a little girl that hoarded her favorite, perfectly packaged school supplies in the corner of her room waiting for the first day of school when she could put her supplies- the markers in their pristine box, the spiral notebooks with their shiny, un-bent coils, the Lisa Frank folders and erasers- tidily into a new pencil box, tucked into a fresh backpack. (that isn’t reality for most kids anymore, as in public school supplies are community supplies for the entire class. But man, those were the days of being an 80’s/90’s kid. haha).

And so we see this love flow over into buying homeschool supplies, planners, curricula and books. Me? Well, I love books … a large amount of our budget goes to books. It is just how I roll, and my husband is currently building me more book shelves because I have a problem he loves me. Curricula? I prefer to find what works and stick it out until it either 1) it doesn’t work anymore because we have outgrown it or 2) we complete it.

But overall, our curricula choices matter to us. We don’t take them lightly, do we mama?

We fret over the math that is just right, or wait … is it too rigorous for my 8 year old? We ask- can the 7 year old keep up with the writing needed in the science workbook I want to use, or should we wait? Should we even use a workbook? Charlotte Mason purists say never… Am I a purist?!

We ask ourselves, will this program help my 12 year old be more independent so I can wrangle the other 5 kids in the house, and teach the 6 year old to read this year? HOW do I get my reluctant 9 year old to read?! The list goes on.

And while it does matter what we choose, it really doesn’t, mama.

Why Curriculum Choices Dont Matter

Like most things in life, if you use it, it will work. If you don’t … it never had a chance.

It’s similar to keeping your body strong and healthy- just about any workout or eating program will work if you use it consistently (and don’t have other health problems in the way).

Just about any curriculum will work if you use it consistently, and don’t have any learning struggles that make the program incompatible with your learner. BUT because we homeschoolers are freaks of nature you have those struggles in mind, and know your child better than anyone, you can avoid that mistake.

So what does matter when choosing a program? How do you choose? When do you ditch the thing that seems to not be working and try something new?

Choosing the right curricula is 2 fold- 1) does it meet our needs, and 2) does it bring joy to our days?

If you need a program to have quick lessons (20 minutes for each: math, reading, and writing is ideal) then don’t choose something that has a long, drawn out script that takes 45 minutes to get through, PLUS the child’s practice work. Maybe it does hit writing, spelling, and reading all in one tidy teacher’s manual (every homeschooler’s dream). But if you never get to the curricula because lessons are LOOOOOONG, and your child is struggling because of it, then that won’t work.

Does it bring joy to your day? If a program is dry, or we add in too many “joyful” things, homeschool life will be harder than it needs to be. We don’t HAVE to do all the things right now! We have them for 18 years; that’s a lot of years to add in foreign language, science journaling, notebooking, extra curricular activities, art lessons, classic literature, and every single read aloud on your “to be read” list.

It goes by quickly- I know! In 10 years my oldest will be an adult, and HOLY COW that is terrifying. It was nearly 10 years ago that I was pregnant with her. But dividing your school years into semesters, terms, or 6 week intervals can allow you to try different things each term, if that’s how you roll. Want to learn about art this term? Drop the science for 6/9/12 weeks and do art instead.

Want to use a morning basket for a loop schedule routine? That’s great too, but again, adding too many things to that loop will make it seem like *nothing* ever gets done. If you need to feel successful, set yourself up for success!

All the things sound like joy, don’t they? Who doesn’t want to read aloud from a beautiful nature book while their children practice the art they learned during a rigorous online art program they attend 4 days a week via the internet, after their music lessons on Tuesday, their Spanish lessons on Wednesdays, and their nature walks on Fridays, between co-op meets every Monday morning? I mean- FEAST right? We want to give them a feast, this amazing life of experiences and fun that continues that fire for learning they naturally have, that wouldn’t get anywhere else is what homeschooling is about (mostly).

But we can’t do it at the expense of our sanity or theirs. 18 years. 18 short years, but years non the less, to try and accomplish so many things they may love. Dipping our toes in here and there is fun and creates that feast of delight we are all looking for. But know, we can take it slowly! We can do science this term, family tree history next term, and a huge literature unit the next term or year.

So if putting too many joyful things in your life is creating a bigger to-do list that never gets done, stressing your family out, not allowing time for your children to have freedom to create and have down time-then something needs to go! That’s when we say, “ok, what isn’t getting done that doesn’t HAVE to be done now? What can go and wait until the baby isn’t a constant nursing machine? What can wait until the kids are 10 & 12, instead of 6 and 8?”

That is how you know.

Because is doesn’t really matter what program we choose-if it is the most popular, the best, new thing, the oldest tried-and-true, if we don’t actually do it.


This year, our family is taking a break from everything that isn’t priority-this year’s priorities will be placed on all the changes happening in my children, and fostering them. They are turning 8, 6, and 4 (with a very loud toddler running around), which means we are on to new phases.

We are focusing on good habits so they can develop great, Godly character that will serve them their whole life through.

We want this homeschool year to be filled with more games, more reading aloud than we’ve ever done before, and more time in our woods. This means more self-directed delight for them, and less stress for me.

We are *simplifying* which means more time at home with friends that love us, and building the meaningful relationships in our community, because those are most impactful day in and day out vs running all over the place for other’s expectations. We are building a life, and that means focusing on what that life should look like for our family.

Because homeschool IS what life looks like, it is learning everywhere, everyday, during everything. It isn’t just grades and workbooks, paying our kids to read a book, or awarding them points for achieving something that is just part of living. We were made to learn non stop, all our live long days.

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The Harvest {2018}

We made a family goal this year- spend more time at our farm this spring and summer, working as a family to not only improve some things- but to really cultivate. Every year we have a garden, and every year when it starts coming in, the rainy season begins, and things start really growing we are gone with either trips or my husband for work.

We worked very hard this year to be sure we were here so we could take care of all the things we started in the spring.

Now, my flower beds are going haywire with weeds, I really can’t keep up! But everything else is flourishing, we are harvesting regularly, and enjoying our evenings as a family working in the garden.

This weekend’s task- Freeze tomatoes!

Last weekend I canned dill pickles for the first time, (they are awful by the way … I’m not sure what I did wrong, but man are they bad!). Unless someone shares a tried and true recipe with me, we will be making bread and butter pickles from now one. haha

My children walk around eating cucumbers whole, with cherry tomatoes by the handful.

Harvest time is good.

 

harvest July 2018

 

 

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Homeschooling Through Transitions: the hard times and the happy ones

4 Practical Tips for Homeschooling Through Family Transitions

**Originally published February 2016** I enjoy these practical tips, even now, during seasons of what feels like temporary chaos. My children are older now, we have a small farm, and much more on our plate in this season than normal. These have been wonderful reminders for me! Maybe they will help you as well!

My oldest child is soon turning 5 years old (say whaaaaa?).  I am by no means a homeschool expert; I have researched and read since I was 3 months pregnant with my first child, played around with schedules, dreamed of homeschool room ideas, used a few different curricula and tried different learning activities for my two oldest to try and find them the best personalized learning solutions so that they don’t miss out on their education.

And still, I am a no expert; I don’t think we become experts until we have graduated at least 1 homeschooled child! Haha

In the last few years we have had several family transitions- 2 babies born, rather large moves (one cross country), and job changes for the husband (one job that meant a LOT of travel)- that means we have “schooled” through some tough changes.

No matter how uncomfortable or scary our changes have been for the kids, I have found that homeschool ALWAYS makes our home feel like, well … home.  After the latest move my daughter told us she didn’t like this rent house, it wasn’t home.  So, as any mama would do I stayed up that night contemplating what would make all the kids (because she was surely expressing what her 2 year old brother was feeling but couldn’t say himself), feel comfortable again, feel at home.

And I almost immediately knew it was school- school, our Bible, reading, activities, learning and working their brains together, that is what made our house home and gave our days intention.  Homeschooling isn’t just school- it is a lifestyle, it is IN the center of our home, of which the central focus is Jesus Christ.

Schooling Through Transitions:

1. Prioritize:

What is most important to your family?  For us it is reading/phonics, math, handwriting, and Bible/read alouds.  My kids are still very young (though my oldest is ambitious), so our main subjects that require “work” are only for the oldest: reading/phonics, math, handwriting, and copywork.

Science and art are on the back burner until the fall, after we move and get settled in the home we are buying.  (I did this because getting out all the things we need for science and art is a mess while living out of boxes, and keeping the  baby hands off of it in a home that is not exactly set up for homeschooling is hard!  But if your children are older and can work independently and more responsibly, then go for it.) 

Also, make sure you are doing work that everyone loves- because otherwise you are less likely to make it work during the transition.

2.  Start earlier than scheduled in the year:

Even year-round schoolers like us take a break and have a specific date in mind for introducing their full-on school year.  When you are expecting a new baby, or making a move, you know school is going to get delayed at some point.  For us, we have always moved school earlier, again prioritizing the most important subjects, and then taken a break when needed (the week OF moving/baby being born) and then slowly gotten back into the groove of things.

3. Get back into routine:

Most homeschoolers I have talked with or asked have said getting back into the routine of school after a big life event is not only comforting, but helps all the kids behavior wise as well. (And that is definitely true in our home!) 

Most kids do well with structure and expectations, so it would make sense that their routine at home helps with behavior and a sense of stability.

4.  Relax:

At this time, it will do everyone good to relax (I know, easier said than done).  We kept a general routine, but some days I had to get meals made for the week or things packed up for a move, so the kids just colored while we talked about the letters they heard in words I called out.  I know mine are young, but this would be okay to do with olders too!  Reviewing math facts, memory work, having them do copy work and art, etc can get you by until things become more formal after your transitions.  The beauty of homeschool is that in general, we can take breaks when needed and always have time to catch back up (there aren’t hours spent standing in lines, taking bathroom breaks, etc so we can do double the work in half the time when we really need to!). 

So breathe, Mama- relax and find learning opportunities in everyday life to make your life easier through this transition!

How does your family school through big life events?

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