Baby #5 {a birth story}

Let me preface with a few things-

  • Before this I’ve had 4 babies whose labors were 12.5, 13.5, 7 (my water broke doing spinning babies), and 16 hours.
  • the whole time Baby Sir was was in the womb, he was breech or transverse. He would go head down occasionally, but always flipped back to an unstable lie when I was at my midwife’s. Every. Time. He would go head down for ultrasounds, and immediately flip back transverse ?
  • the day before baby was born, I walked into my midwife’s office and she said, “what’s wrong, you look sad,” and I just started crying. Baby was transverse again, which she confirmed, and his movements had slowed dramatically. I hadn’t been scared or worried, so much as just frustrated about all the uncertainty. I just needed my last baby to come without all this stress.
  • She put me in touch with a doctor in town that would deliver breech if my labor stalled or something were to happen and we needed her at the hospital; they set me up for a BPP (biophysical ultrasound) to check on baby-all of that the same day, Tuesday June 9.
  • at the ultrasound baby flipped head down, from transverse just a few hours before; he was playing with his toes and sucking his fingers. He passed his test and I was sent home, expecting to see the doctor Wednesday.
  • Also, my husband was supposed to leave town for an over night trip the next morning …

Now the birth story (sorry so many details, I just want to remember everything so I am adding it all).

If you’re like me, you *love* a good birth story, and I enjoy documenting ours.

Wednesday, June 10 I woke up like a normal day. Wednesday’s here are cleaning day, so I was prepared to make baked oatmeal for the kids and start our cleaning routine. At about 8:00AM, I started having contraction like pains; although baby had not spent much time head down this pregnancy, when he was head down in previous weeks, I had to stop what I was doing often due to cramping, and what felt like cervical pain. It was as if he was really putting a lot of pressure on me with his head.

This morning’s cramps felt a lot like that so I wasn’t sure it meant anything.

By 8:15 I felt like maybe I should see if the pain was regular, like contractions. With my first my Braxton Hicks would be regular for almost 2 hours, but would die off, I figured if these lasted over 2 hours I would call my husband home. We were texting back and forth so he knew the plan. I texted my girlfriend to let her know we would probably be needing her to watch the kids (her husband was working from home, so that worked out well).

I continued cleaning the house- toilets and bathrooms, vacuumed and steamed floors, folded laundry, and the kids used our Norwex rags to do all the dusting/wiping like they always do. We had music going and I was really trying to get done cleaning (I love cleaning day, so this was important ha). My oldest daughter milked the goats because my cramping was too painful for me to sit and milk. I talked to my midwife; she advised I drink lots of water in case I was dehydrated and eat something so I had energy in case it was labor.

By 10:15AM I had to stop cleaning and lay down during contractions; I texted my husband to come home to tend to the kids because I couldn’t parent and breathe through contractions at the same time haha. My oldest (9yo) knew I was in labor, so she was doing her best to take care of the others while mama breathed and tried to relax.

I sent my husband a grocery list; we needed lunch meat and a few more things to have on hand for the kids to eat, and salad to go with the lasagna I bought for the midwife team’s meal. He stopped by Walmart on his way home, and when he got here it was about 11:10AM.

During this time I had spoken with my midwife a few times, we agreed we would be having a baby today. We came up with a plan *this part is important* to meet at her office at 1PM, get checked, and then either labor some more, or go on to the birth center to labor in the tub.

I was laying on the bed (thankfully I just put fresh sheets on the day before, so that chore was done), in my gown with all my bags packed at the foot of the bed, when the husband came home. He was trying to ask me something, but I was focusing on a contraction with my hypno birthing track from YouTube playing in my ear. I think this is when he said, “Meghan, call Deidre (Midwife) I think we need to go before 1pm. Call (girlfriend) to come so we can leave when it’s time.”

Because we live in the middle of nowhere, he has been adamant that we were not having a baby at home. With baby 4, we had some scares and almost needed to transfer to the hospital after she was born, so he really wanted us to make it to the midwife team st the birth center.

I wasn’t certain if we needed to leave right away, but I couldn’t think straight. I kept thinking, “I just need the tub.” I’m pretty sure I said that out loud.

I started crying; when he asked what was wrong all I could get out was, “I’m not ready.”

“Not ready like … the house isn’t ready, or not ready like your body isn’t ready?”

My reply was a sobbing, “Everything,”

Not only had I never had a short labor, I had never had a baby before 40 weeks. They were always on time or late and big. #3 was 3 days early but that doesn’t really count haha.

So At 11:41AM I texted my midwife (I couldn’t really talk easily enough to call)…

So we got everyone in place for watching kids and birthing this baby. Husband continued doing some last minute chores so I wasn’t stressed when we got home, cause he’s good like that. Then he loaded the car; I wanted to lay down so he put a beach towel across the backseat and piled my bags and birth kit in the front seat. He grabbed the car seat and base, my friend pulled in at 12:08pm and we left.

When she came in, I think I managed something like, “it’s too cold for the pool, their schedule is on the counter if you want to use it, and crockpot stuff is on the counter. Thank you.” Husband helped me into the backseat and we left, it was about 12:10

At this point I didn’t have my hypnobirthing track because my cell doesn’t get reception until we hit the highway.

I had a few thoughts going through my mind

  • (Praying) God, I can’t do this for 6 more hours.
  • I’ve read and watched a thousand birth stories, and every time a woman says she can’t do this anymore, it is time to push. But I have long labors, so this is just the start of the hard part ?
  • If he hits one more freakin bump in the road, I’m going to lose my mind.
  • If I could just relax I would be okay
  • I really need to use the bathroom (my bladder was full thanks to all the water I drank at home)

Laying down in the backseat of the truck, it is impossible to relax through contractions. Relaxing through them is how I manage labor. I also tap my hand, and normally my husband squeezes my arm at the peak… but he was driving.

I knew when we crossed the highway because of the dips in the road.

My Hypnobirthing track kicked back on when my phone found reception, but just FYI- hypnobirthing isn’t very helpful when you are tence, trying to brace yourself in the backseat of a pickup truck while your husband drives 80mph down a country road. There is NO relaxing your muscles or jaw.

2 minutes later my water broke. Laying down nothing happened, just that really hard *pop.* Turns out I didn’t have to use the bathroom after all, the pressure had just been my water bag. Sweet relief.

I started getting nauseous… a few minutes later we were pulling up to the first light in town when I said, “I need to throw up.” Husband started to pull over- “No, don’t pull over! Roll down the window.” So he did. ? My water went everywhere when I sat up. I’ve never been sick during labor before- not fun. But I also knew from all the birth stories I had read that when women start throwing up, they’re usually in transition (going from 7-10cm), so I did NOT want my husband to pull over.

There are maybe 4 lights between that first intersection and the midwife’s office. It always takes me a while to get through the traffic there, but we made it in just a few minutes.

Husband pulled in, I asked if Deidre was there, he said he didn’t see her car but was going to see if anyone was inside.

I told him they’re closed on Wednesday.

But God had this amazing plan for Wednesday June 10, 2020.

The other midwife was in the office that day for an unexpected appointment- he asked her if Deidre was there, his wife was in labor.

Then he came out of the office and walked around to the passenger side where my feet were. He started putting on my shoes and I shouted, “No! No shoes! Get this thing off of me.” The day before, when baby decided to turn head down I put on my maternity FitSplint, to keep him in place. I had been wearing it ever since, and now I wanted it off! I lifted my shirt and he started pulling at the velcro to remove it. I climbed out of the truck and walked barefooted into the office.

I promptly turned around and went back outside-it was hot in there and there were people (at this point I assumed the other midwife was there just because my midwife called her.) I needed air, it was 74 degrees and windy outside. I used the hood of the truck as a place to lean, tapping my hand on the hood.

There came a contraction and baby was on the way. I pushed, Cynthia walked outside and said in the sweetest, most calm voice, “let’s just go inside.” “But it’s so hot,” I replied. We stumbled in, I stopped behind a chair for a contraction and she encouraged me, “To the bathroom. Let’s go to the bathroom.”

I got to the bathroom, husband started taking off my clothes, I hit the floor on all fours. I heard Cynthia say, “Let’s just see where baby is. I’m going to see what I can feel… okay, I feel your baby’s head.” She asked me if I wanted to feel him (this can encourage women to push and continue with labor), but I said no. I just wanted him out!

I’m pretty sure I pushed 2-3 times for his head and once for his body? So about 4 pushes later baby was here. No one had a watch or phone handy, once we found one we called his birth at 12:45pm.

Somehow Cynthia managed to get on gloves, grab some supplies, and put pads down all over the floor before he was born.

After she passed baby to me, husband went to get my pillow from the truck, and Cynthia got me situated laying on the floor holding baby. About that time, Deidre and Bethany walked in- they had gone to the birth center! My text was not clear ??‍♀️ so they thought I meant I needed the tub at 12:30, not meet at the office at 12:30pm.

I think we were all in disbelief.

Baby 5 birth story

Sir was 9.0lb, 20” and 15 days early. Several people have asked if maybe my dates were wrong, but we know they are right because A) I track my cycle and b) Deidre taught me this-if you look at the bottom of a baby’s foot, they have lots of deep wrinkles when they’re full term. Sir’s were completely smooth except for one small, shallow wrinkle on the ball of each foot.

Baby foot creases at birth

— —

Baby had meconium, a lot of meconium; it had stained his fingernails and the placenta. Because it had been in there a while, Deidre said he was probably under stress like we suspected, prompting the BPP the day before, but since he passed his test no one knew for certain …

Yall, there were SO many people praying over this baby and his birth. The day before, I had posted in my Pregnancy fitness group about using the splint to keep baby head down, they’re the ones that suggested keeping it on until labor, and during. We are positive that splint holding his head down is what put me into labor when it did. If it hadn’t, who knows how long he would have been in utero with meconium. This could have ended so differently; God was at every single turn and decision.


We are so thankful for all of the people, friends included, that helped make Baby’s pregnancy and labor safe. It was for sure a crazy experience and blessing, too!

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!

Crisis Schooling at Home Simplified

Today parents all over the world find themselves crisis schooling their children- This is much different than homeschooling. Even homeschooling families that always homeschooled are crisis schooling, because homeschooling like normal has been brought to a halt. There are no field trips, group hikes, zoo trips, play dates, nature walks with friends, or in person homeschool co-op classes happening.

Most of the schooling new families find themselves doing is indoors, or on the back porch, with cramped spaces, with what they perceive as not enough supplies. But I promise, you can do it, and with limited resources.


Attempting to educate multiple kids at once isn’t always easy. It’s hard to maintain one child’s focus, let alone several who aren’t used to being taught at home by their parents, or virtually by teachers.

Here are five useful hacks that will take your homeschool to the next level:

Crisis Schooling Simplified

Turn The Garage Into An Open-Air Classroom

Even as a homeschool family that homesteads and spends a lot of hours at home, we all get stir crazy if we are stuck inside. Thankfully, a homeschool classroom is flexible because it doesn’t need to be in a specified place. As you know, the kitchen or living room are fantastic alternatives. We do our “table work” at the kitchen table because it tends to be windy in Kansas for outside paper work, but we do a LOT of other learning out of doors- nature study, reading aloud, reading independently, playing, and just moving our bodies are all done outside.

Even better, you can add a summery element by turning the garage into an open-air classroom. All you have to do is set up the lessons as usual and open the garage door. With the sunshine and cool breeze flowing through, you’ll find that the kids are far more responsive. Homeschooling homeowners love this idea so much that lots of them invest in barndominiums and make the switch permanent.

We have a friend that has an entire separate “rec” building on their property that is a pole barn style. The open space, full kitchen, and lovely porch make for the perfect school house. I would *love* to do this one day! Making a school shack out of the shed, building a new small multi-purpose building, or just schooling on the garage floor all make for great switch-ups.

Anybody who doesn’t have a garage can use the backyard, trampoline, or play house out back. Laying a rug or quilt on the floor adds an extra element to the learning environment. Rather than centering the lessons around the dinner table, you can sit on the floor and mix up the activities. Get creative!

Make Individual Schedules

Each of my school aged children have a weekly schedule hanging on the school cabinet- this has a list of daily work, plus work to be done independently (or with me) on certain days. It keeps us on task, helps us clearly see what needs to be done, and simplifies life for everyone!

Use a simple piece of lined paper to make out the daily work list and hang where ever your family does the most learning.

Utilize Wall Space

Lots of studies show that many young children are visual and tactile learners. Of course, most of us don’t have an electronic whiteboard or smart board, so it’s not as if we can create PowerPoints to teach from (not to mention, this is NOT necessary for learning). More to the point, a boost in screen time isn’t healthy.

So, what’s the alternative? Well, there’s always wall space! Throwing paint on the walls isn’t always ideal, but using chalkboard paint isn’t a bad idea. We have a small chalk board wall in the kitchen.

However, there is a way to let them learn visually without changing the walls- create a writing wall. A sheet of MDF wood works perfectly, and it’s thin enough to hide behind a cabinet. Another option is to use IdealPaint and Krylon products for dry erase surfaces- you can easily paint a sheet of wood from a hardware store. Again, this sheet can be used and then slid behind a cabinet or couch against the wall, when not in use.

I enjoy using a dry erase board for writing out Bible verses we are memorizing, spelling rules we are learning, and other things we need handy and in our face (vocabulary words, phonics rules, and grammar rules are some other ideas).

Spruce It Up

I *love* decorating my house, organizing, and making small changes. Simply adding an art piece (think an original from Etsy), a family photo collage, or new curtains always make me feel fresh and renewed in my home.

When it comes to home or crisis schooling, organizing and creating an inviting space is important. The easier it is to do the work, and the more inviting it is, the more likely we are to stick with it. Adding old maps, wooden frames, or vintage light switch plates to a space can make it fun and enchanting.Check out Etsy for inspiration!

Making homeschooling less complicated for everybody shouldn’t be a grind. Hopefully, these tips will make the process a lot smoother!

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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Learning to Read: Rhyme, Memorization, & Phonics {and a llama llama review}

You probably know by now, our family loves to read! My youngest children begin their love of learning with poems and rhyming books from some of the greatest authors of children’s literature. I have videos of my oldest at 18 months old reading a Llama Llama book from memory; that book, as well as many other Llama Llama books have become favorites in our home. But my favorite part of this character series is the rhyming!
The latest book from Anna Dewdey, a teacher, mother, and enthusiastic proponent of reading aloud to children, is Llama Llama Loves to Read. Anna’s passion for children and building their love for reading is evident in all her books. This time our children shared Llama Llama’s love for learning to read in this beautifully illustrated (as always) 40 page picture book.
llama llama loves to read
Llama Llama learns at school.
Counting, writing, reading, rules.
Friends and school — there’s nothing better.
Llama learning all the letters!
All of my children have learned to read organically; simply by listening to others read to them. We know research tells us reading aloud to children increases their own love for learning, as well as relationships, and test scores (yes, especially test scores!). What many may not know, is that reading rhyming books, poems, and nursery rhymes to children increases their overall literacy!
Rhythm and rhyming increase listening and speaking skills, which are the very foundation of learning to read and write. A child will not learn to read as easily if they lack the skill of hearing rhyming patterns and sounds-which is done by being read to early in life. (This is also why educators take courses in all areas of development, including physical education, where we learn to combine rhythm, motion, and rhymes! Think of the hand clapping games from your childhood-they were important, whether you knew it or not!)
Rhyming books like Llama Llama Loves to Read not only help build a child’s confidence as they learn the rhyming words on the pages, these books increase their fluency and set the stage for future independent reading.

Learning to Read With Rhyme and Memory Work

As I type this, I am thinking of my 3.5 year old daughter (3rd born) that read cvc words to me last week. On her own. Without an ounce of formal instruction or prompting from me. I don’t say this to brag, or inflate my mom ego, I say this to you because it truly has to do with our family culture and environment combined with her eagerness to learn to read. She has told me for months she was going to read soon “like Mister!” (her older brother).  I told her she could learn as soon as she wanted and it wouldn’t be long; she’s been asking all of us to help her write her letters so she could tell us the sounds, and eagerly listens to any book we will read to her. One day last week she brought her little journal to me at the homeschool table and asked that I write words for her … I randomly wrote cat, asked her each letter sound and then she read the whole word. Just blended it. Boom! She continued on to do several more and I was able to record her on video.
So how do I use rhyming to encourage literacy? Simply, we read a book, and the next time (after all, there is always a next time!) I leave out one word of each line or page. For instance, I would read: Llama Llama learns at school. Counting, writing, reading, rules the first time.
But the next time we read it, I would leave out the word school, and maybe even rules, allowing my kids to fill it in for me as I read. This pulls them even more into the story and encourages not only their comprehension but also application of vocabulary, as well as “reading” along with me. So far of my 4 children, none of them have ever been disappointed with their chance to say the next word. Even my youngest, only a toddler, can fill in the simplest words in rhyming books (Llama Llama Time for Bed being one of them).
We also start learning poetry very young, simply because it is SO fun! My oldest memorized a few poems during each season starting at age 3. I am not sure how many poems my oldest three kids know now, but it is probably more than me (I can’t remember them all like they can without some prompting). That same 3 year old that is reading CVC words has spent this year memorizing more poetry than her 2 older siblings combined! Her absolute favorite is The Fairies by William Allingham, along with several others from A Child’s Book of Poems.

Learning Letter Sounds

Before I began reading lessons with any of my children, we sing a phonics song throughout our days. From the time they are about 18 months old (?) until … well, my oldest is 7.5 and we still sing it haha, we don’t say our ABCS.
We sing them along with their correlating sound; during our morning time we do the song with a little letter chart like this one: 
The song goes something like this:
A, /a/, apple
B, /buh/ball
C, /ck/, cat
D, /duh/ dog
… you get the picture. When we sing it while swinging on the swing, playing in the floor, or walking down the driveway, we learn to use other words that make those sounds; instead of E, eh, elephant I may say egg or elbow. It is always fun to hear what other words they can come up with (you will be surprised); sometimes we extend that and just start naming words that rhyme with a word, who knows where we may bunny trail to! But it is a fun and easy, loving, and memorable way to connect with and teach my children naturally, without any formal lessons.
This simple song, along with reading aloud to them, truly lays the foundation for learning to read later. Sometimes when I talk I will just say “t, /t/ train!” when we see a train. Obviously my 7 year old gets less out of this than my 3yo and toddler do, but so often we can forget those little ones are still soaking up everything around them, as Little Miss showed me just last week. Having a literature rich family culture helps support children in their love of learning which, when they are ready, will help them learn to read.

If you want to submerge your children in a literature rich environment, reading rhyming books, poetry, and teaching letter sounds through play are the best places to start!

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!

How to Grow a Dinosaur: A Book for New Siblings {new release review}

With 4 tiny humans running around, you can bet we have had many phases, changes, and adjustments in our home over the last almost 8 years. Adding a new addition every 18 months t0 2 years can be a challenge for older siblings.

We love literature in our home, and have found that reading books and poetry usually help us with any new changes, especially when young children can comprehend but not yet express themselves verbally.

How to Grow Dinosaur , written by Jill Esbaum is a fun new book about an older sibling dinosaur who is learning all about his role as a big brother. What do babies need? What do babies do? What is my job? In this sweet-sibling story, big brother learns the bad news aaand the good news about the new baby in his family.

With Mike Boldt‘s,bright, silly, yet simple illustrations this is a great guide for siblings and parents. The pictures are sure to make the kids in your like laugh, and feel at ease about the new baby coming into their life. How to Grow a Dinosaur helps open the conversation of what is and is not appropriate behavior around a new baby, and how it can be hard for both bigger siblings, and the newest sibling.

This beautiful, large hardback book, with its 40 pages is perfect for children ages 2-5; my 7 year old was able to relate to and enjoy the story.

If there is a new baby coming into the life of a child you know and love, this makes a *great* sibling’s new baby gift. Mama and daddy are sure to appreciate the special story they can share with their children.

How to Grow a Dinosaur-sibling book

This newest book we’ve been reviewing is releasing TODAY, so get your copy now Amazon!

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!

Top Educational Toys for Toddlers-PreK

*original post May 2013, updated*

I am a teacher by trade, and a mama by … everything else.  =)  My husband and I try to keep educational/classic toys and books in our home, avoiding twaddle, and “junk” toys.

A fellow homeschooling (and dear) friend, and a few other readers have asked me what we use for toys in our house (I think my reputation for a toy nazi must precede me?!).  So I thought I would make an easy list of educational and fun learning toys that we enjoy or wish we had to enjoy.

These have really been a blessing in our home and homeschool- I know that seems ridiculous to say about “toys,” things that are material.  But they have really helped Lexie learn so much, often times on her own, or through questioning me.  Many things were gifts or bought with gift money from family and friends.  We are very grateful for their love and support.

This is a list that excludes puzzles, books, baby dolls, and toy trucks, etc-the general toys kids have aren’t on here.  I will do another post on those recommendations.  But I don’t think you would generally find many of these items in most homes.

These are not in a particular order, except the first one.  All the others Lexie plays with equally as much or in conjunction with the Magna Tiles.  haha

1. Magna Tiles!  You probably saw my post.  They are an investment … I know; I was nervous clicking the checkout button.  BUT, they’re amazing learning fun!  Last time I talked about them on here (the light table post) I wasn’t kidding about grabbing them for $120 with free shipping and the free book promotion.  That is no longer available, two weeks later.  I scoped theses things out for weeks to get that deal; but it sells out quickly.
2. Sorting bears– she loves them.  And they are great for her to play with during independent play.  They are good for learning and imaginative play-this set comes in 3 different sizes.  We read the three bears and then I introduced them.  She plays with them several days a week (if you get them, be sure to get the set with 3 sizes like the one in the link)
3. These basic pattern blocks get used ALL the time, for all different things.  They also make the pattern block cards that go with them, to use for more instruction type learning/play.  My younger children love using the pattern block cards independently while I school with my olders.
4. Unifix Cubes, or some sort of snapping cube.  Unifix cubes are great for building, sorting, counting, and learning about number sense, etc.  They’re a great math manipulative!  I linked to the 500 count set because 100 isn’t really enough.  When you get into complicated math down the road (multiplication, division, fractions) you will need more than 100 to compare amounts, makes graphs, etc.  So I’d suggest the larger set if you are able  (Especially if you will have more than one child using them at a time)
5. This letter construction set is Ah-MAZING.  I think I paid $25 w shipping (we have amazon prime, it’s worth it just for the shipping on Christmas gifts for family, alone!)  The set is a little more now.  The set is very strong, the pieces are big and wide so they’re easy for little hands to manipulate, and it’s fun.
This wasn’t a toy Lexie just jumped into- I let her explore with them first, then when she asked, I showed her what they were really for.  Now, a few years later, all of my children enjoy this set.
6. The Thomas Wooden Railway.  She loves it and uses it all the time.  We got the wooden one, and the wooden trains to go with it (we only have a few, but she seems happy with that for now).  I thought she would get frustrated with it, because the tracks have to be put together a certain way, unless you have enough track pieces then it doesn’t matter.  But she doesn’t.  She just pretends, takes it apart, can almost get it back together correctly… but often she plays with the trains without the tracks. **All 4 children now enjoy this train set, playing with the train tracks, and the trains. One of the first sounds baby #4 learned was “choo choo”
7. this shape sorter wooden clock by Melissa and Doug.  I know- it looks simple but it has seriously been on her table in the living room for over a year, and she plays with it almost daily.  We have used it for numbers, colors, and shapes.
8. Lexie learned her letters and letter sounds with foam bath letters and numbers like these (they were a gift for her first bday, I have no clue what brand ours are.  But they are a nice thick foam made for the bath tub, though they’ve never been in the tub…)
She lines them up, sorts them by color, stands them up (that takes some time and focus!) She still plays with them regularly.  They are one of the toys I don’t really rotate out. Our set came with numbers as well.  This is also how she learned her numbers.  I would just point to the letter/number and tell her its name and the sound it made.  Sometimes the most simple things are so great for learning! She has done the same with her younger siblings, teaching them on her own.
9. A small dry erase board and dry erase markers– my mom brought one for the trip from Memphis to NE when we moved.  Bug really likes it, but it isn’t something I let her have all the time (we are learning not to bang the marker on the board….)  The board is a small 12 x 12 board, great for playing, and learning to write.  The one linked has both a lined side, and a blank side; so as children develop their writing skills they can use the lined side.  We enjoy ours so far!
10. Her doll house– it is the fisher price loving family dollhouse, I had when I was a kid.  She plays with it all the time, and we play with it together.
11. water beads– you may have seen my post.  Cheap and fun (and they come in colors, too)!  They aren’t something we do every day, or even every week.  But Lexie LOVES them!  I think we may cover them in shaving cream for some extra sensory fun in the next few days.
12. Magnets– So much fun, so much learning and exploring.

13. Lacing cards– we have a few different sets of these from friends and family.  My kids use them often, they are something fun to do together as well.  They pretend to sew, knit, and crochet like mama.  Great for fine motor, critical thinking, and hand eye coordination.

14. Melissa and Doug Buckets– we have a few different versions of these- they are all VERY well loved, and have held up so to much abuse play. Living on a farm, outside toys like buckets get used on an almost daily basis and these have no disappointed! This is one toy that we can’t really have too many of.

15. ABC Bean Bags– I cannot count the ways we use these bean bags! One way, is by throwing them into those buckets I posted above. These have been so much fun for all ages in our home (7 down to baby). We toss, stack, count, hide, and tote around these bean bags daily. We also like our shapes bean bags and I plan to get the number bean bags eventually.

So, there are my top toys for toddlers through PreK children.  Of course always supervise your young children with any toy.

*This post contains affiliate links.  Thank you for supporting my site!  I was not paid or compensated in anyway for these opinions; they are my own.

Friday on the Farm: {Birthday & Camping Edition}

I am writing this on Sunday and back dating for the sake of hitting Friday on the Farm. *insert cheesy face here*

We have spent the last 2 weeks celebrating birthdays … one right after the other. It has been a joy!

The kids got a new play set/fort/swingset/tree house/whatever you want to call it for their combined birthdays. Hopefully it will last for years to come, and will eventually become an actual tree house in the woods, near the pond.

They each got a small little special for their birthdays- the 7yo a field press and the last Narnia book, The 5yo Mister a bug/small animal terrarium for nature studies and a bug field guide, and the 3yo little Miss a fairy garden house.

Each of the kids had their own special birthday cake- all gluten and dairy free. Boy did that require some special grocery store trips … But we managed to do it!

Mister’s “rocket” cake:

Big sister’s Smores ice box cake:

Little Miss’s dirt cake:

The husband smoked up some BBQ for the week:

We spent Wednesday-Saturday camping at a local state park; all 6 of us in the pop up camper and our new caravan (not forgetting to bring out RV battery as that comes in incredibly useful sometimes!) that we finally managed to get finance for (thanks to Auto Finance Online, see this site for more info). It was surprisingly less difficult than expected. More specifically, after the first day and night, we had things figured out. haha. Keeping the caravan safe and secure is definitely a concern for anyone who owns one. Wheel clamps for caravans ensure that your caravan is not going anywhere you don’t want it to!

A few random camping with tiny humans tips we found made things easier:

  • Get one of these for the baby. just trust me. There is a time and place for a pack n play, but these little sleep tents are amazing when traveling! They fit in the tiniest spaces and can easily be covered with a light blanket for darkness
  • cover baby’s sleep tent or pack n play with a blanket
  • noise. machine. We took the humidifier we use at home in the kids’ rooms, but then remembered the pop-up has an AC fan, so we used that. PERFECT for blocking out the noise at a camp ground during naps and bedtimes
  • kiddie potty. We just keep on in the camper now, because it is easier than them using the camper potty, and we dont have to go up to the bath house, AND we don’t have to worry about them having privacy from fellow campers
  • wagon– saved our lives. when baby wasn’t being toted around in it, fed in it, or just playing in it, the 3yo was pulling it around for fun
  • picnic blanket– again, couldn’t have done without it
  • crocs for every child
  • overalls the kids can rewear each day, with a clean shirt underneath
  • just leave all the luggage bags in the car to keep camping space clear and organized. It’s a tip I learned from a friend after they hired a campervan with on their European adventure, and it makes sense. Each night I got out their PJs, they changed before going into the camper, and I put their dirty clothes into the dirty clothes bag. Clothes to be reworn were placed on top of their bag (in the car) for the next day

Just some camping fun:

I woke each morning to my husband making coffee and breakfast over the fire. He is irreplaceable.

It was a lot of hard work, but one of the best family vacations we have had. My sweet husband did most all of the heavy lifting and hard work, and though I know he enjoys it, it was such a blessing to me. I actually got to chill and not really fret about anything. It was really nice.

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Mama and Mud {FMF}

tears, strength, joy

smile lines, and sparkles

stretch marks, sun spots

love, snuggles, and books.

memories made

Mama, thank you

Clearly I am not a poet. =)

I asked my kids what are a few words they think of when they hear the word mama.

These were a few of their words, plus a few I added of my own (stretch marks clearly wasn’t thought of by my children).  When Lexie said thank you, I could’ve cried.

Being a mama is so multifaceted.  It is emotional, and fun, and life changing.  But the best part is raising people that become adults whom one day you can look at and say, “I like this person!” I hope we get to those adult years.  For now, I like them a lot most of the time. 😉

I hope they grow up to be respectful, honest, God loving adults with a real relationship with Jesus. Until then I will continue loving, and teaching them … and fussing about the muddy clothes piled up in the garage. (which I am very, very thankful for)

As my husband tells me

We are so blessed to have happy, mischievous kids … Those muddy footprints are memories made.”

mama and mud- the mischievous 2 year old



Mama and mud- rainy day fun

rainy evening fun


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Mornings With Jesus

Devotional Time in the Morning {Give me Jesus}

(Written in January 2017, published in April)

I heard God telling me he knew my hurt, he knew my disappointment and sadness.

Then I heard His promise- he would fulfill the desires of my heart. He wasn’t going to get the job done half way.

He wouldn’t provide a home, the little farm, the body and ability for hard work, and then just leave the rest unfulfilled.

He will provide that fellowship- but first I have to find it in Him.

And I did. This week I started back to getting up early, reading a devotional from Youversion, and following along in my Bible.  Then journaling and praying about it.  Trying to keep that intention through my day.

It is amazing what the Word of God can do in your spirit when you just give Him a few minutes every morning.

Thankfully, the baby’s eating & nap schedule has lengthened a bit; she has gone from a 3.5 hour to 4 hour routine, which means instead of my day being broken up into a million little 10-25 minute segments (between feedings, making meals, doing school, picking up, etc), I now have longer stretches between.

I was wondering why it seemed so hard to get everything squeezed into our day around here, and now I realize why!  When baby moves to a 4 hour schedule life is so. much. easier. (this usually happens between 4-6 months of age.)

This gives me more time in the morning to read to the kids, do devotionals, get our morning basket time in.  *yay*  I thought we were getting into a groove before, but now we are REALLY getting there!  YAY

I am thankful for my early mornings, my precious husband that wakes me up sweetly and has the coffee brewing before my feet hit the floor, and an Almighty that wants me to succeed, and be the best mama I can be.

How Do You Do Your Mornings?

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Homeschool and Childhood: Am I Doing It Right?

Homeschool- Am I doing it Right

Several years back I described our homeschool as a Charlotte Mason/Classical approach.

We probably lean more in both of those directions, but I am finding more and more we are very eclectic. We use *everything* to school, focusing on living books for most things, but preferring a math curriculum, and a bit more structure than unschooling.

But, I am not here to talk about how we school.

I am here to encourage you in however YOU school.

I don’t prescribe to a “schedule” for our lessons; we have a general rhythm, a routine, that works. The baby’s naps and feeding times are schedule, as are all other naps and meals. Everything works around that.

Routine = peace here.

But recently (maybe since baby was born? or no… since Christmas?) I have stopped requiring so much of my son, 4.5yo and toddler, 2.5yo. I *thought* I was doing more justice to their childhood by not doing school so much with them and letting them play freely all morning.


Yall- people mean well, friends, fellow homeschoolers, ME, we all mean well.

But just because someone says that it works for them, and they believe it is best, doesn’t mean that it is best for your family.


I have high expectations of my kids, as I am sure most people do. I believe kids meet the expectations that we lay in front of them. Expectations should be challenging but not frustrating; not easy, but still something they need to put effort into. They should also include lots of play. It’s so important to make sure children have a good work/play balance. When homeschooling, it can be more difficult to do this, but there are always ways to separate schoolwork from playtime. When it is time for the kids to relax, try doing something they want to do, such as going on the games console and playing super smash bros brawl iso, for example. That is a good way for children to enjoy their time at home, without it feeling like a place where they have to be constantly focused on their schoolwork.

Somehow in the past few months I managed to forget that play CAN look like school, and that school can look like play without it being chaotic free play.

One of the main points taught in my teaching program, which was largely spent logging hours and observations in the preschool room in our University’s child center, is that play can be semi-structured. Play can be guided by an adult with rules and boundaries, but enjoyed freely by a child.

And explorative play can be controlled chaos. (thank you for that term, college professor who had years of classroom experience)

And when you I have 4 kids, each 2 years a part, by golly, we need some dang boundaries, structure within the routine.
I can’t expect a 4 and 2yo to stay inside those boundaries completely on their own every day while I school the oldest. (I know- DUH, right?) But somehow I stopped doing what I know, and began doing what others said was good?!

My point is, please, please, please do not let anyone, even well meaning friends or acquaintances, make you feel like you are doing something wrong because they are justifying or suggesting how they do things.

When You Doubt … or Forget

Re evaluate your own goals and beliefs about education- they probably don’t line up exactly with many other people, and that is okay! That’s why we homeschool, right?

When I looked around our home (and reflected on recent days) I realized we ALL felt chaotic and out of control, there was unnecessary stress and behaviors that didn’t make sense, and it all pointed back to structure for us.

Instead of heeding advice from people who don’t need the same structure we do I should have just kept on with what we were doing, because THAT works for us.

We are happy in our structured, eclectic homeschooling home; my kids excel there, my only boy who is not so independent all of the time feels included and it keeps him from getting bored (aka, in trouble), they all get more time with mama at the table which equals happiness. It’s where we learn, where we find rabbit holes and I feel comfortable enough to follow them because I have a structure to come back to.

Our home is structured, but our days are relaxed and peaceful when my kids know what to expect (oh my gosh, how many times have I written that on this blog?! Maybe 25 … maybe more).

So why did I stray from what I knew the last few months?

I can’t say with certainty. But I do know, that sometimes you have to block out the noise and seeds of doubt no matter where they come from. Stay the course and do what works, as long as it true and good.

Maybe I am just writing this as a reminder to myself, because it will surely happen again.

We really don’t need others validations, we really should do what works for us, and the more we know our children the better we can educate them, regardless of what that looks like from the outside.

So here we are mamas, almost to the end of the school year for many (we keep going through June). Be encouraged, be excited, enjoy your time with your children.

Know you are doing it right.



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