A Happy Halloween

Ash Ketchum, a ballerina and a garden gnome…

I feel like that’s the beginning of a really bad joke. Like one my dad would tell (and we would all groan instead of laugh at the punchline)


So last year we went ALL OUT and dressed up as The Incredibles (seriously, go check those pictures out!) and it was awesome! I feel like I did my time with the whole matching thing and just let the kiddos pick their costumes this year…except for Baby G. He was going to be a gnome and that was it!

My oldest has an obsession…a little one (*eye roll*) of guess what?! Daddy introduced him to a card game and the classic “Red Version” on the Game Boy and now its all he talks about….and I miiight play a little of the game on my phone (maybe….)


So we went with the classic Ash look. I bought a white polo shirt and a blue t-shirt. I cut the sleeves off the t-shirt and cut both shirts down the middle. I sewed the two shirts together at the opening in the front and then craft glued a felt yellow band around the bottom and fake pockets.

For his gloves, I just bought a two pack of children’s gloves and cut off the fingers, and the hat I found online for like $6. I did a simple amigurumi crochet pattern to make a pokeball. (seriously simple, it takes like 20 minutes to make). I already had a tiny black back pack (no, I’m not going to break out into song…hello 90’s!) I did splurge on the cute stuffed animal because I knew my son would love it.

I added some of his normal jeans and tennis shoes and BAM! Best Ash ever! (don’t say that too fast!)



Gotta Catch Em All

Gotta catch em all!


Now the daughter was a little harder because she is so indecisive. I have NO IDEA where she gets that from! She went from ballerina, to Wonder Woman, to a cat and probably other things.

Sissy the beautiful ballerina

Sissy the beautiful ballerina

We stuck with ballerina, because if you know anything about her, you know she loves to dance.  Her costume was super easy, but, I thought, came out really cute! I got her a cotton leotard, white tights, and simple ballet slippers. I made the tutu with a wide elastic band and white and pink tulle which I alternated around. We bought the legs warmers when we bought big brother’s stuffed animal (so they both got something special for their costumes)


She had an absolute blast being a ballerina. There was a DJ with a dance stage set up downtown where we always trick-or-treat and she was dancing away on stage to all the great Halloween classics. It was awesome!


Now the decision to make Baby G a gnome was made back in July actually. We were at my nephew’s first birthday party and we put a red party hat on Baby G and my heart melted. With his red hair and tiny toddler-ness (shut up! It’s a thing) I knew that the gnome was in our future.

Garden Gnomw

It was totally a hit and Baby G LOVED his hat. He kept pointing to his head at saying “at at”. I just bought a long sleeve white onesie and black sweat pants for the base of the outfit. Besides that, his costume was mainly made of felt (that I already had lying around so…WIN!)

For the blue “shirt” I just cut a little tunic out. (Just fold the felt in half and cut how wide you want it. Then make a head hole!) The belt is just black strip of felt with a yellow square. For the hat I used the Garden Gnome Hat Tutorial from Tikkido. For the shoes, I just made shoe covers. I sort of followed the Elf Slippers pattern from maya made, but changed it a little to be shoe covers. The beard (also felt) was a last minute addition because I wasn’t sure he would tolerate it…and he did, like a champ!

Garden Gnome

The garden gnome costume was such a hit and was not that hard to make. I might try and work on a costume tutorial post…because seriously…who DOESN’T need a garden gnome in their life!

And yes, I totally put him in our front flower bed like a REAL garden gnome…

Hope you enjoyed our pictures as much as we enjoyed taking them!
Happy Halloween!


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When Life Happens

When Life Happens

Sometimes life happens.
Sometimes life happens and its ok to admit that it’s hard.

I normally don’t write posts like the one in the picture. I know parenting is hard, and I know that YOU know that parenting is hard. MOST times social media is not the right outlet to complain. Maybe I should repeat that…


Ok, Back to your regularly scheduled post…

As I said, I do not normally write posts like this, but the exuberant amount of unadulterated chaos happening at my house at that time was so overwhelming it was humorous! Seriously, here is the low down:

2 out of 3 of the kids were screaming
The baby was screaming to be held in between shoving amazing amounts of green beans in his mouth and promptly choking on them. (Or screaming because we wouldn’t let him shove more in) Before dinner he was screaming because he wanted dinner.
My 4 year old was throwing a fit, screaming that she is mad, running around the house (for the millionth time NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE) and asking for more food (If you know her, this makes complete sense). Before dinner she was asking for food. EVERY.KIND. OF.FOOD.EVERY.BREATH.SHE.HAD.

The oldest is trying to be overly calm because he feels the chaos in the house. With his mini-notebook in hand, he has a million questions (which he asks VERY calmly) “Mommy, how do you spell AGAIN?” Mommy, will you teach me to crochet with a hook?” “Mommy, can I have my K’NEX back?” “Mommy, can I play with this toy that has tiny, microscopic pieces while the baby is right here?”

It always starts with “Mommy” and ends with me giving him this “Are you kidding?” look while holding a screaming baby and telling (yelling over the baby) the 4 year old to STOP RUNNING IN THE HOUSE!

Oh, did I mention that EVERY WINDOW IN THE HOUSE IS OPEN? Oh, yes, there’s that. While cooking dinner the hubby nearly smoked us out of the house. Seriously, we are talking open front door, red eyes, waving the smoke away from the fire alarm type of smoke. We were one step away from having to crawl around the house!

On top of that (oh yes! There’s more!) my husband had to leave for a meeting at the height of the chaos, smoke, screaming and dinner. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry! The only thing I could muster was “Please don’t leave me!” He promised me he would be gone for not very long and would bring back some wine. SOLD!

As soon as he left, the chaos in which I had mistakenly thought had climaxed, indeed increased…three-fold (I can neither deny or confirm this relation to the amount of children in the house). About 30-minutes in, the chaos got too much for me to bear and I gave in and called the hubby to return pronto because, no. As I heard it start to ring, I noticed a ringing sound coming from the counter…

No. This is not just happening.
This is when I started writing my Captain’s…I mean Mommy’s… Log.

Mommy’s Log:

Stardate 69593.6
I have just lost communication with the co-pilot. I must now trust that he will return to the mother-ship and not abandon his crew.

Stardate 69593.7
The co-pilot has been gone for a suspiciously long time for what was supposed to be a “short excursion”. I can only assume he is acquiring provisions of wine and cookies.

Stardate 69593.8
The princess of the crew is finally in her quarters. After much convincing, a firm talking to and a lullaby, I think she has officially retired for the evening.

Stardate: 69593.8
I am growing suspicious of the youngest member of the crew. He seems out of sorts. I suspect mutiny! Or he might just need a nap.

Stardate 69593.9
The co-pilot has finally returned! There was much rejoicing until we took inventory of the acquired provisions. Mistakes were make and in this time of crisis, there is no room for error!

Stardate 69593.9
The entire crew has finally retired to their quarters for the night. The oldest of the crew was commended for his assistance and bravery in a time of crisis. I still have my suspicions about the youngest. I must keep a close watch overnight and the days to come.

and on top of that, we are out of wipes.

***These are actual stardates based on a stardate calculator from TrekGuide.com.

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Advent Week 1: Hope

Week 1 Hope

Advent sneaks up on me every single year, but especially this year because Thanksgiving was so late! I stuffed my face with turkey and pie and turn around and BAM! Advent is staring me in the face! Advent is my favorite season of the year. No, not the Christmas season, but ADVENT. Advent is the four Sundays prior to Christmas where we prepare our hearts for the coming birth of Christ.

The United Methodist Church (and other denominations) light candles on an Advent wreath each week prior to Christmas Eve and a white “Christ” candle in the middle on Christmas Eve. I know that not all traditions do an advent wreath, so I explain about the wreath and have some beautiful candle-lit pictures.
Celebrating Advent at Home: The Advent Wreath
The United Methodist Church puts out a Advent Worship at Home for families to light the candles and celebrate each week just as the church does, but I found myself needing to adjust it quite a bit for my family with such young kids. So I thought I would share my adaptation of the church’s home worship.

Advent Week 1: Hope

First Reader: This is the first Sunday in Advent. Today, we light one purple candle. This is the candle of hope. Advent is a time of waiting and hoping. We wait for the day when we celebrate again the birth of Jesus. We hope that everyone will come to know and worship God.

(Light the first purple candle)

Second Reader:  When we look at the first candle, we remember God’s promise.  God promised to send a someone to save the people. God fulfills his promises and takes care of his people. God brings peace and all of this gives us hope. Again we wait excitedly for the birth of baby Jesus.

Sing: Oh Come Let us Adore Him
Matt Redman- Oh Come Let us Adore Him (video with lyrics from youtube)

Read Jeremiah 33:14-16
The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill my gracious promise with the people of Israel and Judah. 15 In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land. 16 In those days, Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. And this is what he will be called: The Lord Is Our Righteousness.

Prayer: Dear God: Thank you for your son, Jesus. Thank you for the words of Jeremiah, the prophet, that remind us that you are the source of our hope. Help us to live each day with hope and to share hope with everyone around us. AMEN.

Most of this comes straight from the Advent Home Worship. I re-worded and re-wrote a few things so that my smaller kids could understand it better. I also left out the discussion and shortened a few other parts. Definitely check out the one made by the United Methodist Church!
Advent Worship at Home

Don’t feel bad if you don’t get to this on Sundays. Just try and do it sometime during that week. My parents did this with us every year growing up and it is one of my most powerful memories. I hope that these help you and your family enjoy the Advent season together and keep Christ in the center!

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Thanksgiving Fun Packet

Thanksgiving Packet

So one of the things I love about homeschooling is the fact that I can do lots of fun holiday activities with my kids. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays because it is such a family focused holiday (I mean, plus there’s LOTS and LOTS of food!)

Anyways, I wanted to put together a packet that my Big Boy could work on the week before and week of Thanksgiving. In all of my research I found some great printables and even a few videos to go along with being thankful!

For my cover page for the packet, I found a “Happy Thanksgiving” coloring page. There are some great free ones here.

I then printed out a turkey “color by letter” page because my boy loves to color, but also needed a little challenge with his coloring. I found this great printable on Reading With Kids.

I then found a great resource on Free Homeschool Deals. It is a Thanksgiving Writing Pack. It is a great 3-page writing prompt about giving thanks. It includes a page with 4 “complete the sentence” prompts, a page where you can writing what they are thankful for each letter in “THANKSGIVING” and then a free page with a turkey they can color and a few lines on the bottom for any creative writing they want to do.
Thanksgiving Writing Pack

My Big Boy loves books, including making them. So I found this First Thanksgiving mini-book from Education to the Core. It is a two page mini book that you can print in color or black-and-white. It is a freebie on her Teachers Pay Teachers store. You do have to make an account to download, but it is super easy and you can get lots of other freebies!
Thanksgiving Activities

What is a Thanksgiving “fun packet” without a craft?! Not a true FUN packet in my opinion! So here is an easy color, cut and glue craft from Adventures with Gigi that your kiddo can do with not a lot of help from you! *User hint* Click on the image and save it on your computer (GIF). Then open and print it.
I Am Thankful For Craft

Here is another freebie packet from Teachers Pay Teacher geared toward kinder and 1st grade. I love finding freebie packets because of the choices of activities and I can print what I want. I just downloaded this packet and printed a few pages of what I wanted.
Thanksgiving Activities Free

I found a thanksgiving themed word search that I printed and included from Superheros and Tea Cups. I tried to make my own simple word search, but it didn’t come out the way I wanted. This one is simple enough and already made. I thought this would be a good challenge for my son, because it is hard to stump him.
Thanksgiving Word Search 

I also found a great video from the Berenstain Bears about counting your blessings. It is short and great for Pre-K and early elementary. You can watch the episode on You Tube.
The Berenstain Bears- Count Their Blessings

Not sure if the next video needs any introduction. The other video I would include in this is the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. You can also watch this on You Tube (or buy it online/in store for better quality)
A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

I am seriously loving this packet of thanksgiving activities. Since it is a holiday week and I have family coming into town, it is going to be a busy week. I may not have a lot of time to do school work with my big boy, but he has a huge packet with a variety of thanksgiving related activities that he can work on at his own pace, on his own.

I hope your Thanksgiving is filled with fun, family, food, and thankfulness! God bless you and your family and Happy Thanksgiving!


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An Incredible Halloween

Saturday was Halloween and my family had a blast! No gore or scary costumes here! Earlier this year I got the idea to be The Incredibles for Halloween this year! We have the perfect number of people and even a red-headed baby to play Jack-Jack. I soon found out that buying the cheap “made in China” Incredibles costumes would have been WAY expensive. (The adult versions were like $40!) Sorry, I love Halloween, but not enough to go broke! Plus I would rather buy real clothes that are comfortable and possibly used again (minus my husband’s red leggings!)

The Incredibles

I opted to make my own. Off to find red leggings that would fit a grown man! (I found them!) I got some inspiration from Life Out of Bounds, including her logo and mask pattern, but mainly had a picture in my head of what I wanted and did my own thing.

Mr Incredible

I love that my husband was just as excited as I was about this! (Ok maybe not THAT much, but he was pretty excited!) I love that he doesn’t take himself too seriously and is game to wear red leggings and his underwear on the outside. I really think he is Mr. Incredible. Mr Incredible had red leggings, a red t-shirt with a black long sleeve shirt underneath. He had back boxer briefs with a yellow felt belt and HUGE black socks that he wore OVER his shoes, and of course, his mask to keep his identity a secret.


As the maker of the costumes, I had a blast getting to dress up with my family! We went downtown for our local Trunk-or-Treat and we had so many comments and people stopping us to take a picture. That was super fun! Elastigirl also had red leggings, a red t-shirt with a black long sleeve shirt underneath. (which I forgot to wash before wearing and woke up with HIVES all over my arms the next morning) I used my black swimsuit bottoms with a yellow felt belt, and some black boots that worked just perfectly, and of course, my mask to keep my identity a secret.


My oldest was so excited to be Dash! I am pretty sure he would have dressed up like Dash for Halloween even if the rest of us were something different. As soon as he got his costume on he took off running through the house. I didn’t know what to do! Do you tell Dash to stop running in the house? Dash had red leggings, a red longs sleeve shirt, tights that were cut up to make underwear, boots (over his shoes) and arm cuffs (yeah, that’s right! I used the entire pair of tights!) a yellow felt belt and of course, a mask to keep his identity a secret.



My daughter is the shy one of the bunch and I wasn’t sure she would go for this, but as you can tell, she totally got into it. Even though we have a different birth order than the TRUE Incredibles (Violet is the oldest) it still worked out. Violet had red leggings, a red longs sleeve shirt, tights that were cut up to make underwear, boots and arm cuffs, a yellow felt belt and, of course, a mask to keep his identity a secret.


Baby G’s costume was so cute. It was just like the older two kids, but smaller. I originally didn’t make him a mask because I had no doubt he would just rip it off, but he did great when I was taking his picture! I also loved that Jack-Jack and Baby G are right about the same age, have red hair and totally make some of the same noises. Jack-Jack had tiny red leggings (with little bows at the end that we hid with the “boots”), a red onesie (which was amazingly hard to find, tights that were cut up to make underwear, boots and arm cuffs, a yellow felt belt and, of course, a mask to keep his identity a secret.

It made me feel great that not only did my family have a blast, but so many other people enjoyed our costumes! I have NO IDEA what to do for next year. I don’t know if I can top this! Better start working now! Hope you enjoyed our costumes! I would love to see what you and your family did for Halloween!

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Shut Up and Let Me Wear Leggings

It’s that time again, ladies! Fall has officially arrived and finally the cooler weather has started to grace us with its presence. With the cooler weather comes jackets, cute scarves, trendy boots and the dreaded legging debate. You laugh, but I think you know what I’m talking about. Every year somebody comes out with this year’s “leggings are not pants” post and it gets passed around social media like a runny nose at day care (you moms know what I’m talking about!) Posts like THIS, and even This Facebook group that calls themselves LANP (leggings are not pants) are strong supporters of leggings NOT being pants. The struggle is real and so is the debate.

Let me be real for a second. I wear leggings. I wear leggings as pants (GASP!) Shut up and let me explain. I am a stay-at-home mom of three small children. My wardrobe is 90% functionality 10% “cute”. Most of my days are spent in pajama pants I never had a chance to change out of or yoga pants because they are comfortable and moveable. Neither of these are flattering or “cute”. I have also been pregnant three times and my body has changed quite a lot through those pregnancies. Yes, I am a small person, (When I say small, I mean I’m the size of a freaking 12 year old and no amount of donuts, fried chicken or pizza is going to change that, because trust me, I’ve tried!) but my body has still changed and many of my clothes don’t fit like they should. Plumber jeans that show my crack when I bend down because the waist is too big. Church jeans (you know, the holy ones) that I finally have busted through and show off my granny panties (or not so granny panties depending on the day), but let me tell you about my leggings. I LOVE my leggings. I have leggings in several colors, they are easy to match with a shirt and I do not have to fight with the bottom to get them into my cute boots I’ve been dying to show off. And you know what?! They make me feel good! After spending every, freaking, day in sloppy, baggy, pee covered clothes, I love the way I look when I put on an outfit with leggings. For me its the best of both worlds. Its the comfort of yoga pants with the cuteness of getting all dressed up. So shut up and let me wear my leggings. I feel good in them!

Ok, stop! My “I wear leggings as pants” rule has some stipulations. So before you start announcing to the world that leggings are ok, YOU MUST FOLLOW THESE RULES!

  1. Buy the right size.
    Whatever your size, claim it! You are the most beautiful in the correct size for your body! PLEASE buy the correct size. *hint: If you can see through the leggings in ANY WAY when you bend or move, remove, return and back away slowly!
  2. Check your undies.
    Seriously ladies. Be aware of what underwear you put on when you wear leggings. No one wants to be able to see the ruffles, design or whatever. It looks trashy. Put your underwear on, put your leggings on and look closely to make sure that it looks appropriate.
  3. Buy a full length mirror.
    Seriously, while you are out getting leggings, get a full length mirror and USE IT! Put the outfit on, look closely in the mirror. Ask yourself if you would meet your mother for lunch in that outfit. If they answer is yes, you are approved to leave. If no, go change!
  4. Wear a long shirt.
    Leggings do not go with crop tops! I repeat: LEGGINGS DO NOT GO WITH CROP TOPS! Leggings are best paired with a shirt that covers about half of your butt. DON’T be walking around in a tummy shirt and leggings claiming its ok, because no. It is not. I usually wear a plain v-neck shirt that hits right around my butt peak (the part of my butt that sticks out the most….thus the PEAK). That way I am covered enough to feel comfortable and not like I’m trying to flaunt something I don’t have.
  5. If you are unsure, then don’t wear it.
    If you followed the rules, and are standing in front of your full length mirror questioning whether or not your legging attire is ok, it’s not. If you aren’t sure, then I am sure that you shouldn’t wear it, so dont!

 So I’m not giving up my leggings. I love them, they are comfy and they make me feel good. This fall I will be rockin’ my leggings with shirts, long sweaters, dresses and my boots. You have something negative to say? Shut up and let me wear my leggings.


Yes, I’m rockin’ my leggings, boots and shirt! It is almost mid-night and I don’t care!

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My Babywearing Project


Babywearing group shot at our local park.

Happy International Babywearing Week! I have been planning on doing some fun things on my blog to celebrate and participate in International Babywearing Week (Oct 4-10). For those that are not familiar with this, International Babywearing Week is a week-long opportunity to celebrate, advocate for, focus media attention on the many benefits of babywearing, sponsored by Babywearing International. People all over the world wear their babies and this is a week to tell people how much we love it and share the benefits of wearing your baby.

So I put out a request to see if anyone would be interested in doing a mini babywearing photo-shoot to celebrate babywearing. I figured it would be a fun, small way to get real moms from the local community involved in a international event. I had such a wonderful response and my week soon filled up with mini-sessions of moms and their babies. Let me tell you, this has been one of the most fun weeks I’ve had in a while! It also got me thinking. I walked into this project hoping to learn more about photography, but I learned so much more than some photography skills when I was out there taking pictures of these moms. I talked with the moms, I listened to moms, I played with babies, and I did so much more! I realized early in my sessions that this was no longer about babywearing, but about moms.


Shannon and her 8 month old baby boy in an Infantino Mei Tai

Moms NEED community but for some reason (time, family, work, etc) never seem to make it a priority. Moms need to be around other moms. We need to know we are not alone. We need to know that its normal to feel what we feel as moms of little ones. As I was doing my sessions, I cannot tell you how many times I heard how long its been since they got out of the house, or put make-up on, or just enjoyed the outside with their little ones. I don’t have the answer because I am guilty of not making this a priority, but it was very clear that community is important to being a healthy (and sane) mom.


TJ and her 11 month old baby boy in an Ergo Galaxy

Moms with their little ones are beautiful. I don’t just mean beautiful on the inside, because let me tell you. ALL the moms I photographed this last week are immensely beautiful on the inside. (as well as on the outside, but I’m getting to that) Moms with their babies are beautiful (Did I already say that?) Every single mom that I shot had a negative comment about her own appearance. Every single one. While some moms were concerned about lingering baby weight, others commented about their hair or skin not being perfect, but as soon as they got in front of the camera with their little ones, they were glowing, radiant, confident moms. I hope they see the beauty and confidence in the pictures that I saw during the photo shoot.


Maria and her 8 month old baby boy in a wrap.

These babies are happy. Let me explain what I mean. As moms we are always second guessing ourselves. Are we doing the right things? Are we raising our kids the right way? Is this what is best? My answer to these moms is YES! It was so obvious to me that all these babies are so love, so cared for and it shows. These are happy babies. I have had many photo sessions with babies and they are not easy. I’ve had newborn sessions when the baby refuses to sleep, toddler sessions where cooperation is just not happening, but these sessions were the EASIEST baby sessions I have ever done! These babies love their mamas and I think that is a great testament to how wonderful moms they are!


Shelby and her 8 month old baby girl in an Ergo Sport

It is not about the photograph, it is about the story. I went into these sessions hoping to capture some precious mommy and baby moments, but I soon learned that I was capturing a story. With each session as I took pictures and listened, I learned about each mom’s story. I learned an amazing story about how one baby got his name. I learned about how a new baby restored confidence in one mom as a mother. I learned about some of the hopes and dreams these moms have for their precious bundles. Every time I walked away at the end of a session, I was filled with joy that these moms would share these stories with me.


Mandi and her 3 month old baby girl in a Boba 4G

I would do photography for free. No, seriously. Photography has been a passion of mine since I was little and helping my dad in his dark room. I had so much fun capturing moments and making memories with these families that I would feel bad charging people for me to do something I love so much. I think that’s why I offered to do these. It was my project, my ideas and these moms were so gracious to go along with it. I want to thank these moms for taking time out of their busy lives to let me take pictures of them and tell a little bit about their lives!

Want to see more babywearing pictures? Check out the beautiful babies in my Babies of Babywearing post!

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First Day of Homeschool

We are a few weeks into homeschool kindergarten and I am proud to say that we have survived! Between a fun artsy craft about the sun and an epic meltdown caused by the letter S, the first week was a roller coaster of emotions for Big Boy and myself (and at times the other people in the house).

I have had a lot people ask me to share our first day of homeschooling. So here it is:

First, we took pictures.
First Day
No, really! We did! I created a First Day of School chalkboard print-out with Big Boy’s name, age, Kindergarten, height and what he wants to be when he grows up. Not only do I want pictures as a keepsake, but I thought it was a cool tradition that he can do that most everyone else does at well.

Daily binders.
Daily Binder
This took some pre first-day prep, but is totally worth it. Basically it is a binder of simple activities that he does every morning to start the school day off. These are print-outs that I have placed in sleeve protectors so he can use dry erase markers and use them over and over. Some of the activities include:
1. Tracing the day of the week
2. Writing the day of the month
3. Writing the time and drawing the hands on a clock
4. Charting the weather
5. Counting the days of school
6. Monthly name writing (to see progress)
There are lots of great free resources out there so you do not need to create your own printables. I used a combination of a few different resources and created some of my own. Most of my print-outs came from Confessions of a Homeschooler‘s
Kindergarten Daily Learning Notebook.
She also has a preschool version and an elementary age version of the daily learning notebooks. Definitely check it out! It is great stuff and Big Boy is loving the activities.

 Wall calendar
Daily Wall Calendar-small
The content on the wall calendar is similar to the binder, but it is more tactile learning. He has to pick out the day of the week, the number, the season and the weather. I love this because he has to be able to read the words to pick them out of the piles. What exactly is involved in my wall calendar? Check out my Wall Calendar post coming soon.

First Day of School Packet
First Day work
This was a fun, creative way to start off the school year. I combined two free printable resources to create a fun “first day” packet. I found an awesome “all about me” printable (free) by Read Like a Rock Star called I’m an Awesome Kindergartener where my son filled in all of his favorite things. I helped with spelling, of course, but he did all the writing and was very proud! I combine this with a few pages of My First Week of Kinder by Teach Bits and Bobs. I included the “look what I can do” page, the drawings page and the self portrait page. The packet was a total of four pages and a perfect mix of writing and drawing and kept his attention for a perfect amount of time.

Reading Lesson
How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons
Not to brag on my own kid, but I think he is pretty smart! I’ve done some reading work with him, but this kid has pretty much taught himself how to read. Not that he was reading chapter books or anything, so I needed something that covered all of what reading involves, including all the basics. I wanted to make sure he understands all the basics, but something we could take at our own pace. I cannot recommend this book enough! It’s a 100 one-on-one lessons that take around 15 minutes each. It is super easy for the parent/teacher as it tells you what to do. It even has exactly what to say to your child in red font. It is wonderful and we both love it! When I find the time, I want to do a full review of the book to help other parents learn about this book and figure out if it is right for their child. You know, in my extra free time!

We will normally do a math and science lesson each day, but on the first day I wanted to limit the changes and lessons so we would not get overwhelmed.Even with these few things, my son got a little overwhelmed. I wanted the start of school to be drastically different than how his days have been before. This transition made the first two weeks VERY rough, but now that we are in the groove of things, we are both loving homeschool.  I will soon be sharing our science adventures because I am very excited about it and want to share some wonderful resources with you.

Wow! I didn’t expect this post to be so long (and take so long to finish!) I plan on sharing more of my homeschool adventures with you!

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For the Love of Essential Oils

Love of essential oilsIt seems like everyone and their dog is using essential oils (no, seriously, you can use oils on dogs too). There is so much information and so much misinformation. I’m not going to lie to you, I LOVE my oils! I use them every day and I see the benefits of them on myself and my family. If used appropriately, I think they are one of the greatest things I use in my house. Here’s why:

The Oils are All Natural
Essential oils are naturally occurring, volatile aromatic compounds [that] are found in the seeds, bark, stems, roots, flowers, and other parts of plants. Basically they come from things found straight out of nature. The come from the peals of citrus fruit, the barks of trees, the flowers and leaves of plants and so many other places. These are not oils created in a lab with chemistry, they are created naturally. [source]

The Oils are Pure
The essential oils that I use in my house have a very rigorous quality testing to insure that the oil that was distilled from the plant, seed, tree, etc is the same oil that is placed in the bottle and sent out to consumers. Every bottle of oil goes through a five method testing protocol. This protocol ensures potency, purity, and consistency batch to batch. Chemical compounds are checked right after distillation. After the oil has arrived at the facility, it is tested again to make sure it is the same oil as received. The last step is a three-process method that is a review of the chemistry of the oil and is done as the oils are packaged into their bottles to be shipped out. [source]

The Oils Were Used in Biblical Times
Okay, so it is not just Biblical times, but oils have been used since ancient times by many different groups of people. I think that fact is very cool, but is even more cool to know that people from the Bible used some of the oils we use today! Oils were used in the Temple in the Old Testament  Frankincense and Myrrh were the gifts of kings given to Jesus as a baby by the wise men. Later Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with oil. Anointing oil has been used from Ancient times all the way up to the present. There is so much info on oils throughout the Bible and throughout history. It is so interesting and I will be writing a post about oils in history. So watch for that soon.

The Oils are Safe
We know that the oils derive naturally IN nature, and have been used for thousands of years for many different uses with great benefits. The oils are safe if used as recommended by the essential oils company. It is always good to educate yourself on oils before you use them. That being said, they are all-natural and safe to use for the whole family, which is oftentimes, more than we can say about some of the food we eat and medications we take.


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Claim it and Let it Be Claimed

Claim it

Sometimes I feel like social media is just a trash can for people to dump on. In the same five minutes I can read a beautiful affirmation to moms for all they do and then a hateful post shaming a mom just because she is feeding her baby differently or birthed her baby differently. Enough is enough!

There has been a great push to celebrate moms in all they do. Because of the popularity of all-natural or “crunchy” moms, this push seems to be celebrating those moms that maybe have been shamed in the past; those that formula feed their babies, those that birthed their babies via c-section, etc. I absolutely love that ALL moms of all different kinds are being celebrated. This makes me so happy!

It’s about time to let moms be who they are do what the want without fear of shame from their mom peers, but I worry we are swaying the pendulum back a little to far.  I feel like I can’t claim who I am or what I’ve done for fear of someone misinterpreting it as mom-shaming. Because of my profession as a doula, I have always been sensitive about what I share and how I share it, but I feel like I can no longer proudly share my proud moments without fear of offending someone. I can no longer claim proudly that I had three completely natural, births or that I exclusively breastfeed my babies. You know what?! I am so stinking proud of myself! I am proud not because I did these things and you didn’t.  I am proud because it was my goal and I achieved it. Just like I would be proud of a career goal. Even though I have no desire to be a doctor, I am still proud of my friends that have achieved this goal and became one.

Honestly, I’m not looking for affirmation or praise. I am just telling you that you are not a better or worse mother because you did things differently than me.  Just because my goals are different doesn’t make one better than the other. My goals are only better for me personally because I set them, I worked hard for them and I achieved them. Your value of a mother is not dependent on my personal achievements as a mom. You are different, your family is different, your needs are different. Celebrate your differences and your own personal journey as a mom.

I am going to start celebrating my own personal journey as well. I am no longer going to feel shame or fear in expressing my proud moments! So I will proudly claim that I feel like a bad ass because I had three all-natural, un-medicated, vaginal births. I labored, I fought, I felt pain, and I made it through. I proudly claim that I have had a great hospital birth and I proudly claim I had two beautiful home births. I proudly claim that I have exclusively breast-fed all my babies and Baby G and I are still going strong. I am proud that I have almost four years (and counting) of breastfeeding under my belt. I proudly claim that I choose to stay home with my kids and love that I have the opportunity to do that.

So wherever you are in life and whatever you have achieved, claim it! But more importantly let other moms claim their victories and celebrate with them, no matter how different they look.

Claim it and let it be claimed!

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