Homeschool and Public School-Our Journey

Homeschool and Public School—Our Journey

homeschool public school
Cadrian boards the school bus.

My  homeschooled kids had never really been in a  public school until a few years ago. It started because we thought my oldest son needed some speech therapy. We called our elementary school, left messages for the speech pathologist and she took care of getting him evaluated and setting up an IEP for him, so he could receive services. Then I was taking him to speech once a week. At that point we didn’t really consider him dual enrolled.

Our oldest, in the way of oldest children, broke the trail for us. She wanted to take violin lessons, and after a year, we thought it would be good to have her play with other students too, so we inquired about having her take orchestra at the junior high. The process was pretty simple, and suddenly I had a child enrolled in school.

About halfway through that year, I learned about a program called Book Share. It’s a website that has nearly every book imaginable read out loud, and it’s completely free. In order to be a part of it, you have to be officially diagnosed with some sort of disability or impairment. While my son had been taking private tutoring for  what we knew to his dyslexia for several months, he did not have a diagnosis. I contacted the school to find out whether he could get one through them, so we wouldn’t have to pay for a psychological evaluation. It was easy enough to set up the testing times with the special ed director and meet with the school members for him to get an IEP. I still wasn’t planning on him receiving special ed services when I walked into that meeting, but when I met the teacher and principal, I almost immediately changed my mind. Our elementary school staff could not be more dedicated or helpful. I knew he would thrive in a one on one setting with the dynamic special ed teacher,  and could only  benefit from the school’s approach dovetailing perfectly with the Barton Method tutoring he already was doing.

I love it when I’m so right.

homeschool public school
Brielle works on her homeschool math

Then this year my second son’s reading was just not taking off like I felt it should be. I spoke with Cadrian’s teacher about it, and after being tested, we discovered he also has some disabilities, but not as profound as my older boy. It worked perfectly for him to get on the bus with his brother, head to local public school,  and the special ed teacher  works with them individually, during the same time frame. Denton has also started private tutoring.

As of this January, I have half of my children dual enrolled. The school has been an absolute dream to work with. I’m delighted with the experience and maturation my students are achieving through their “real” public school involvement. My kids also realize how lucky they are to be able to quickly get their homeschool and chores done early in the day so they can move on to their preferred pursuits later on.

My junior high daughter has benefited by accessing opportunities and extracurriculars the school offers. She is a participant in National History Day, and wrote a killer 2500 word  paper,  which, after achieving a top score at the regional level,  she will be taking to the state competition. She has qualified for honor orchestras and been able to participate in field trips of her choice, like a visit to the Hoover Museum. She also has learned how grateful she is for her homeschooled friends who possess high caliber character.

Our journey into the public school has been nothing short of fabulous. I’m curious about your experiences in your district. Tell me about them in the comments!

public school homeschool
Little Sister can’t wait for Big Sis to get home from school!
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Moms Run The World

We moms are like electricity.

I was thinking about this today as I chopped vegetables, intending to put out a veggie tray for the kids to have a healthy snack to graze on every time they passed through the kitchen.  We run everything. Husbands and kids expect us to do all the thinking for them. And for whatever reason, we do.

The other day I was agonizingly finishing up math with my most reluctant learner.  It had been a productive morning, but as is the norm with small people, there was plenty of arguing with each other and push back  to me and interruptions and a lost reading book we just had yesterday, which we still haven’t found, and character training and loudness and touching. I was really ready for a break. The Farmer came in for lunch.  He strode into where we were working,  griping about all the problems he had encountered outside with machinery. It added weight to my inner tension, but I couldn’t really respond, because if I let my attention wander, the math-doer would absolutely follow suit. There were leftovers. He’d be fine.

Suddenly, a small crash and loud faux swearing filled the air, The Farmer emphatically wondering who had left the egg on the stove top and why doesn’t anyone ever clean up around here?! I couldn’t bear it a moment longer and leapt to my feet emphatically answering. Everything else in the kitchen was clean, and I, already at my limit, was furious that he had an accident and was trying to blame everyone else. He didn’t notice that the rest of the room was tidy, just the egg now splattered all over the floor.

Thinking back over the altercation, I realized that I am like the power in the house. We just expect the light switch to turn the lights on when we flip it; we expect the fridge to be cold when we open it; we expect the button to start the microwave when we push it. Our families expect the same thing of us. We only really notice the electricity when the fuse is blown or the storm knocks out the power. We function so well and do our jobs so well as administrators of our homes, that we practically are invisible.

I live in a home built in 1850 and added onto in 1902. The electric in our house is cobbled together, added on in dribs and drabs over the years.  As we have undertaken remodeling projects, we make sure to do the electricity right, and up to code. Even though it worked before, I know that it’s better to completely redo the wiring and connections to make sure our home is as safe as possible.  Despite the fact that I know it’s necessary, and even want to do it, I’ve always railed against this  very expensive, invisible part of our remodeling process.

I’m a little like that with self care too. I want to eat right, want to spend uninterrupted time with God, want to exercise, want to take moments out of the day to read my book or to make my planner pretty. I don’t often make it happen like I ought to.  I know it’s necessary for my mental health and to be fully functional. I know I need to do it to be the best mom I can be.

It’s important to have the electricity of the home be at full capacity.  We moms are the sometimes invisible, usually unappreciated energy sources of our homes. Do what you need to to be at maximum power.

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blog homeschool day in the life

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

When my oldest was approaching school age and when she was in early elementary, I was obsessed with looking up the schedules of homeschooling families. I did find a book which had a compilation of different families’ days and whose name I unfortunately can’t remember, and here and there I would find a blog post, but there wasn’t much out there at the time. I scoured the internet  and library looking for the “Day in the Life” information for several reasons.d.
Seeking new ideas is something I do on a regular basis. It’s so helpful to see how other people do it, and see what you can incorporate into your own life.
It’s fascinating! I am seriously curious about what goes on in other people’s homes. I love getting glimpses into the extraordinary ordinary.
I like knowing I’m not alone. It’s refreshing that I’m not the only one wanting to tear my hair out by two o’clock.
Because it’s so helpful for me, I asked several of my homeschool friends about their daily schedule. I’m writing a series of The Day in the Life of a Homeschooler posts. If you’re a homeschooler, and would like to be featured, I’d love to talk to you about that!
I would love to introduce to you my friend Sarah. We jokingly refer to each other as Sister Wife because last year we went to Vegas with our husbands and babies, but while her husband was in meetings all day, we figured we looked like sisterwives hanging out with Kevin. Her kiddos are 8, 6, 4, and 2, and she’s also a farmer’s wife.

6:30 am – Mommy and Daddy get up, get dressed, and drink coffee while checking Facebook and email and the weather reports. This is our most peaceful time of day. Daddy usually heads out to work on the farm before the kids get up. I get the farm’s bookkeeping and bill paying done during this quiet time. I try to log off the computer for the day when the kids get up, and NOT go back to check email or Facebook again until the next morning. We don’t own smart phones because we don’t want that constant distraction.

8:00 am – Kids start waking up. Getting dressed, eating breakfast, and brushing teeth -times 4- takes forever and sometimes there are tears.

 9:00 am – If we are going somewhere (Grandma’s house on Tuesdays because she keeps the kids for a couple hours while I run errands alone, homeschool co-op on Wednesdays, horse riding lessons some Thursdays, library on Fridays) we head out. Often the 8 and 6 year olds have worksheets to complete in the car because we live a long way from everything and it keeps them from making too much racket during the drive. Math and spelling questions are shouted from the backseat of the Suburban up to me (over the noise of the 2 and 4 year olds in the middle row) and I shout the answers back. If we aren’t going anywhere, I attempt to get the 2 and 4 year olds engaged in an activity and then work on lessons with the 6 and 8 year olds.
Homeschool science slime
6 year old Joanna demonstrates making slime

We don’t cover every subject every day. They alternate between math and writing six mornings per week, 52 weeks a year. Science and art are covered at co-op for part of the year. Once a week we read a chapter from our history book, and throughout the week we read the recommended supplemental readings that go with the chapter.

9:30 am – Second breakfast
10:00 am – The big kids are finished with lessons and everybody has free time. For me,that means laundry, dishes, food preparation, gardening, and sometimes relaxing with my own reading material. The kids go outside when weather permits. Otherwise they entertain themselves in the house and that gets very messy. I am often interrupted by crying children who are having a toy squabble or other disagreement, or who have obtained boo-boos and need kisses, or who have invented something or drawn something they are eager to show me. Whenever perpetual disagreements or boredom strike, I give the kids chores to do.
11:00 am – Elevensies (Kidding… sort of… It’s unbelievable how much time kids spend eating!)

Joanna and 8 year old Katrina check out their specimens.
12:00 pm – Lunch. We usually eat leftovers from last night’s supper, or sandwiches or microwaved chicken nuggets. I do not cook a meal in the middle of the day. I basically hate cooking and do it as little as possible. The kids are expected to do as much as they can by themselves. I pay a quarter for emptying the dishwasher or sweeping the floor.
1:00 pm – Nap time. We never, ever mess with nap time. I am extremely strict about this part of the schedule. We are always home before 1:00. The 2 year old goes first. I remind the other kids that it’s time to be quiet and take her up to her room. After a few stories and some gagas (nursing), she’s down. Then it’s the 4 year old’s turn. He gets a few stories alone in his room and goes down.
Katrina loves to illustrate the stories she writes.
1:45 pm – Reading time. With the two youngest asleep, the two big girls and I sit together on the couch and read. I read a few stories to them, and they each read aloud to me from a book at their reading level. This is the extent of our reading “curriculum.” Occasionally, on staying home days, we do reading time before lunch so that I can have more free time
in the afternoon.
2:30 pm – This is MY time, and it is sacred to me. I send the big girls off to do whateverthey want (usually they play outside and  explore the far reaches of the farm) and I work on things that I care about. This often includes a home improvement project (my husband and I are rather proud DIY’ers and we are always renovating something). It takes me two hours a week to mow our yard. I squeeze in 30 minutes of exercise every day, usually during nap time but sometimes in the morning. Sometimes the big girls and I will get out a messy art or science project that we can’t do when the littles are under foot and work on that together. Sometimes we help Daddy fix broken machines or work cattle.
4:30 pm – Sacred nap time is over. The kids’ favorite show, Wild Kratts, is on, and all the kids sit and eat apples (the ONLY food they are allowed to have in the living room) while they watch. Sometimes this distraction allows me to keep working on whatever I started during nap time. Sometimes I get started on supper. Sometimes I watch with them.
Wild learning at its best.
5:30 pm – In the dead of winter, we usually spend a good deal of our evenings in front of the TV. The rest of the year, it is shut off after an hour and everybody goes back to playing and working outside. At the present time, we have no regularly scheduled
evening activities. In the past, the kids have done sports and dance classes that meet on weeknights, and I imagine at some point we’ll resume some of those things. Right now nobody is begging for those sorts of things so we’re not doing them.
We regularly enjoy local parks and playgrounds when we’re at loose ends. Often we meet
friends for a few hours either in the morning or evening (never at naptime!). We take nature hikes and the 8 year old tries to fish. The rest of the evening includes supper at some point, but we rarely sit down and eat together as a family of six. Usually Daddy works late (9:00 or later in the spring, summer and fall) and eats when he comes home (and often at least one kid eats with him). In the winter he sometimes comes in earlier and we might eat together. The kids enjoy a variety of electronic games, card games, and board games, and we play them together or separately. The kids need showers a few times a week and that can be a lot of work.
Ideally, all the toys get picked up and put away before bedtime, but sometimes I don’t  have the energy to make them do it.

9:30 pm – Bedtime. I put the 2 year old to bed because she still needs her gagas, then I take a shower and hit the hay. Daddy has always done bedtime duty for kids who are weaned. He reads them stories and tucks them in. It’s sacred time to him because during busy times of year he hardly sees them at any other time. (They all love tractor and combine rides with Daddy and we do that as often as possible, but it’s not always possible.) By 10:00, the whole family is asleep, resting up for another big day ahead.

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I love my local moms blog

I thought I’d share my latest post with you.

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Psuedo Stitch Fix or Creating a Spring/Summer Capsule Wardrobe on a Shoestring

I have been needing to update my spring and summer wardrobe in the worst way. I still have maternity clothes mixed in there-which is not necessarily a bad thing, they are so darn comfortable! But I know that many of my pieces are heading into the frump zone, which I hate. When I dress well, I feel well. When I feel pretty (and comfortable!) in my outfit, I feel happier. 
While I was searching for “trendy spring looks for moms” on Pinterest. I found this amazing blogger at Now THAT I Can Do, Mama!  She has a great attitude and a loving heart. She also offers eBooks you can buy, and previews for free, of looks with her capsule wardrobe, and best of all, tips on how to be chic AND cheap!
Spring and Summer Capsule Wardrobe
Her capsule wardrobe was incredibly useful as a shopping guide when I was at Goodwill today. She also offers a printable shopping list on her website if you prefer. I was pretty excited to find many of the pieces she suggested! Because I like bolder colors, I changed the suggested palette to plum (because, purple!), orange and aqua, along with the gray, navy, and white. 
T-strap sandals in pink, fashion sandals in silver

I loved that I found two pairs of sandals! I have been wearing a lot of flip-flops in summers past, pretty much my summer shoe staple, so I needed to get some dressier options.

Neutral shorts, Color shorts
Navy and white swing dress, Chambray dress

I found these white and aqua shorts that fit me! And looked good! which is was a blessing, because my bottom and most bottoms don’t get along. I loved this dress! I know she said a gray swing dress, but this one looked good, and has great pockets. Plus, I looked up the brand, and it’s from Macy’s. I don’t ever shop at Macy’s, so now I’m feeling all cool and stuff. I found this chambray dress/tunic instead of a shirt, and all the children in the dressing room said, “oooh! Cute!” I am ordering a couple of belts off amazon to hopefully anchor the outfit.

paisley vest, striped stretchy ‘blazer’

I didn’t find a crochet vest, and I’m not even sure I really like crochet vests, but I did score this awesome paisley number. It’s nice and flowy and will look great with my new white shorts. This ‘blazer’ was actually a shirt that I cut up the middle to make a cardigan.

fitted striped tee, slouchy tee

This striped tee shirt was originally long sleeved, but I cut them off. The slouchy tee has the blouson style that is really flattering for the extra fluff around my middle.

tunic top, fitted tank, one shoulder tank

I love the bright colors in this tunic top, and it matches my aqua shorts amazingly. The fitted tank looks great under almost everything I bought. The one shoulder tank is my daring purchase. It’s not something I would normally get, but the colors were perfect; it has that blouson style I love, and it’s on trend right now. If I don’t wear it often, I’m only out $3.88.

slouchy tank, bonus dressy tank, dressy top

And my final three pieces: the tank is a really soft jersey knit, but looks dressier because of its buttons and pockets. the teal tank is just gorgeous, and the purple shirt is stretchy and dressy.

I spent a total of $52 on this haul. I just love thrift shopping! Now I feel that I can definitely splurge (well, my definition of splurge) on some of the accessories. As an added bonus, I already have a lot of items that will go with these pieces, so I’m looking forward to some warmer temperatures so I can actually try them out!

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A Day in the Life of a Doula

4 am–One of my clients texts that she’s been having contractions on and off for a couple of hours that keep waking her up. I ask a few questions to get more details.

 I try to go back to sleep.

5 am–Different client texts that she’s been having regular contractions since about 1. They’re about 10 minutes apart. We converse for a few minutes.

5:10 –Toddler wakes up for her morning nurse

5:25– I slide out from under Fizzy Baby and head downstairs to check my doula bag. All I really take with me are personal care items like toothbrush and toothpaste in case of a long birth, and snacks.  I top off my snacks and mill around a bit.

Start texting my back ups because obviously I can’t be two places at once. Freak out a little when I don’t hear back right away.

6:30 B wakes up and asks right away if I have a birth. She’s so astute.

Text my fellow Essentials tutor and our Classical Conversations director and let them know I might need a sub for my class.

6:40 Water broke for second client! She reports contractions are little closer.

I stay in regular contact with my client and her husband as I get ready and get the children ready. I tell Kevin all of the things that need to happen. It seems this client’s moving pretty quickly, so I decide to head in to hospital while they wait for Grandma to come to their house to take care of their toddler. I hear back from my back ups and breathe big sighs of relief. I give necessary info so I don’t have to think about my other client still having irregular birth waves during another client’s birth. I try to get kids organized to help Kevin as much as possible; they do so amazingly helping each other.

7:50 I text the husband to see how they’re doing as I’m pulling into the parking garage. They are on the way.

8:05 In triage–nurse all business, bustles in and tells client to pee in cup, change into gown.

My client is working
incredibly hard. It always amazes me how strong and beautiful women
are when they feel loved and supported through their labors. Her
husband was feeling a little frantic, but he is taking good care of
her. She is handling her labor waves wonderfully, even as they come
every few minutes. She climbs up onto the narrow bed and promptly
assumes the elbows and knees position.

I suspect she is ready
to just get this baby out, so I ask if she wants to skip the
monitoring and just get checked to see if she could get back in her
room. She thinks that sounds like a solid plan and affirms with a
terse “YEAH!” It’s hard for women in labor to respond to
people’s questions around them, and it’s best to just ask
questions or make statements they can answer with a nod or shake of
the head.

The midwife asks if
she can flip over to have her cervix checked. My client does not
think that sounds like a good idea. The apprentice midwife is
awesome and says she would do her best to check her in this “non-traditional” position! Many care providers make the laboring mother roll over on  their backs for a cervical check. She concludes client is at a 7
or 8 (10 being complete and ready to push baby out) and we could
immediately move down the hall to a room. 

8:20 Officially admitted. 

Once we get settled
in the room, I start the tub in case she has time to get in the
soothing warmth of the water. They still have to monitor baby for a
while according to hospital regulations. I’m stroking her hair and head, saying soothing, encouraging things while the husband rubs her back.
The husband suddenly
realizes his car is still down in the circle drive in the front of
the hospital, and thinks he should move it. I say, “No, no, stay
here! I’ll run down and park it for you.”

I figure the distance would be
about the same and decide to run around the hospital instead of
having to walk through it, and am literally sprinting once I got
outside the building. It feels amazing to run, even though I never do it anymore and am quickly out of breath. I find them a primo spot right next to the hospital door in the parking garage, grab their bags from the trunk and
hightail down the hall, back to the elevators.

8:35 Baby Born

As I enter the
Labor and Delivery Unit, the nurse grouches, “You missed it.” My
first thought is “Oh man! Bummer!” and my second thought is
“Better me than him!” But all I say is, “I never thought I’d
miss the birth because I was moving their car!” I have missed it by
mere seconds thanks to my sprinting, as they haven’t cut the cord or
hatted the baby yet. Mama is looking more gorgeous than ever now
that baby was here, Daddy is all choked up and beaming. I love those
moments! I immediately pluck up my camera and snap some photos. I’m
strictly an amateur photographer, but I know my families appreciate
some memories captured from those first precious moments.

I hang around for a
couple of hours after the birth to answer questions, give leg
massages, run errands such as getting heated blankets or coffee, talk
things over, help with baby’s first breastfeeding if necessary, to
take photos of when babe gets weighed and measured, and just be
there, holding space for them, as they need.

11:00 a.m. I take my leave and
head for our Classical Conversations Community, where my four older
kids already were. I’d been in a bit of a time warp and can’t
believe it is still morning! It is a grey, wet day which usually
makes me sluggish and morose, but not today!
I swing by Panera to
treat myself to a scone, a breakfast sandwich and coffee. Depending
on the time of day, I almost always get myself a store bought coffee
after a birth. I feel like I deserve it and, just on Birth Days, I
want to act like a grown up who has a job and money, instead of a
stay at home mom, who scrimps on the coffee creamer. It’s always
surreal for me to go back into the regular world after just
witnessing the miracle of a new life, and seeing the overwhelming
love between new parents and from them to their new family member.
It’s almost weird to see people just working on their laptops, just
drinking their lattes, doing regular people things. I want to yell at
them, “Don’t you know what I just got to do?! Don’t you know
where I just WAS?! Don’t you know what just happened? A BABY WAS
BORN! A new person was given LIFE today! A mama found out how strong
and powerful and wonderful she is!! Don’t you KNOW?!” But I
hardly ever do that.
I arrive at
Classical Conversations in time to see the kids do their review. I have some really amazing conversations, and a friend prays for me and some relationship struggles I’ve been having. I immediately feel the pain and heartsick hurt dissipate. It is really incredible. 
12:00 We
all eat lunch together, which is always loud and overwhelming, but I
get to talk to my friends and be with my Mama Tribe. 
1-3 pm In the
afternoons, I teach an English class. We do math review in addition to English grammar and writing. My phone
goes off right at the end of class. Perfect. My text tone for my
doula clients is the Justin Bieber chorus “baby, baby, baby ohhh”
which gets my attention, no matter the time of day and always makes
me smile.
I have been in
contact with my other client all day and she is contracting more
regularly now, and they are feeling more intense. We decide I would take my kids home, spend some time
with my wee ones, and then I would head in to her house after an
hour or so.

I snuggle and nurse Finnella and read a few books to Elivette. I chat with the older kids and try to squeeze in their daily quota of hugs. 

4:45 I arrive at her house. We spend time
chatting while she is laboring. Her husband got their other kids
ready to go and I keep her company and help as she seems to need
through the labor waves. She was handling them wonderfully. 
7:10 pm When we
got to the hospital, I was completely shocked to hear her tell the
nurse they were a 10+ on the pain scale because she was so completely
calm and relaxed on the outside. She really wants me to keep talking
during her waves, which is surprisingly awkward for me. I’m used
to most women not wanting chit-chat during the contractions. Everyone
was upbeat and lively for quite a while. She watches some funny
YouTube videos (Zach King, if you’re wondering) and we laugh and
banter. As things heat up, we discover scalp rubs really
help her relax during her birth waves. We do some relaxation
exercises and she says she is feeling really calm and peaceful
during this part of her labor.

7:44 We are in her room. She has some delicious essential oils in her diffuser going and I am thankful because this room really smells like nursing home.

8:47  It is time to
push, and she starts out on her back.  After pushing there awhile I suggest a squatting position. She tries that for a while and feels it isn’t effective. She wants to be on her back. I learn that as long as the
mother chooses the position, it’s a great position to be in.

9:39 or :40  Her
baby comes out face down, and completely rotates to face up. This is really unusual! Baby’s shoulders got stuck, which can be dangerous because the
baby can’t get oxygen while the head is out and the chest  is still
in the birth canal. Extracting them is a little more complicated than usual because of baby’s face up position but the midwife acts quickly and stays calm. Her expertise and instant action saved the day.

9:41 Baby born! Baby is able
to be immediately on mom before they took her over to the warmer and
checked her oxygen levels. She was fine and almost right away was
brought back to mom. It was scary there for long minute though!

I am so happy they
were able to put baby on mom right after birth. I’ve been at a home
birth when baby wasn’t breathing right away and mom was holding
baby and talking to her and rubbing her while the midwife gave oxygen
and did the necessary things. I’ve also been a hospital birth where
baby was taken away immediately to give oxygen and do the necessary
things. The mom had no idea what was happening, the doctor wasn’t
giving any kind of updates orally, and it was terrifying. I wish they
could always do the former as much as possible.

I stayed for a few
hours after the birth taking more photos, talking and helping any way
I could. This mom was still nursing her toddler and didn’t really
need any assistance nursing.

Two baby girls, born
almost exactly 13 hours apart. They were both third children, and one
weighed over three pounds heavier then the other. Both mamas handled
their labors gorgeously, and completely differently. Two different
hospitals, two different midwives, interestingly, both with a
midwifery student.

I got home around
midnight and promptly went to sleep.

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Uncommon Goods: An Honest Review

I sometimes click on Facebook ads, if it’s something that appeals to me. That’s how I first heard of Uncommon Goods. Their website is full of intriguing and appealing gift ideas, for yourself and for others. I had browsed their catalog several times, but never had the opportunity to buy anything.
I was over the moon when Uncommon Goods contacted me to ask whether I would review their company. The answer was a resounding YES! I quickly filled up my cart with $1000 dollars of items I would love to have in my home or on my body, but of course I had to scale back. After much agonizing, I decided on two beautiful yet practical additions for my home.
As you can see, my box arrived damaged. I was concerned about this because I have had to send items back before due to poor packaging. To my delight, everything was wrapped wonderfully and in no danger of breakage during shipping. Even better, Uncommon Goods prides themselves on being an environmentally conscious company and strive to be Earth sustainable in all of their practices, so there wasn’t any wasteful packaging, and what was in the box is environmentally friendly.
I ordered the Nebulizing Oil Diffuser. Isn’t it beautiful? You don’t add any water to it, just your essential oils. It fogs up like that inside when it’s on, and is a gorgeous decoration when you’re not using it. It made both our dining room. living room and keeping room smell delightful, which is a lot of square footage benefiting from the Joy, Vetiver, Orange or Slim and Sassy I have tried so far.
There are no plastic pieces which I really love, it’s entirely wood, glass, and metal with a bit of rubber to hold the glass lantern in place.

Another thing I like about Uncommon Goods is that they have a great sense of humor; there are real people behind their website. For instance, if you search for something on their site, it quips “You searched “Gifts for Men”– and Poof–here are your results.”

I also adore how they support small artists. The craftsmanship on the items in inventory is remarkable. I wanted to buy so. many. things. I ultimately chose the Zen Wishing Stone because if you know anything about my home, you know I need a whole lotta zen. Also, we had gotten my daughter a Buddha Board for Christmas one year, and I loved playing with it until someone got butter all over it and it would no longer work properly.

This Zen Wishing Stone is a piece of slate made by an artist from Oregon. It is very calming to write an affirmation on it and watch it disappear, then to do it again and again.

It’s also fun for the young ones to practice writing or drawing. It’s a great multi sensory tool as well for kids with dyslexia or other learning disorders.

And my 10 year old figured out it’s fun to do her sentence diagramming on it.

All in all, I would heartily recommend ordering from Uncommon Goods, whether you are looking for a unique, meaningful gift for a special occasion or you want to reward yourself for a job well done (or just because you got through the day with only yelling once) (even if it was a 15 minute tirade). You deserve the beauty of Uncommon Goods.



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Back to School 2016

I’ve been doing a “Back to School” photo in this corner since Aviana was three. I’m absolutely awed by how much things have changed and by how much things are still the same.
 I still have these burgundy and green walls.  I still have a nursling. I’m still a homeschooling mama. I am still making it through the day alive, sometimes by the skin of my teeth, sometimes with great peace and joy. 
Aviana 7th grade
Brielle 5th grade
Cadrian 2nd grade
Denton Kindergarten 
Elivette 4 year old preschool
Finnella Nursling 

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Musings on The Whole 30

Tomorrow August 1, on my 41st birthday, I start the  Whole 30. 2016 has been a year of change. I’ve been battling to change my eating habits, and my lifestyle, and never ever go back to having chronic headaches several times a week and being bedridden  with migraines for a quarter or even third of my life! 
When I juiced the month of April, I saw amazing benefits in my energy and mental clarity among other things, and have not ever descended back into eating an entire row of brownies or eating spoonful after spoonful of cookie dough. I’m still off caffeine. I don’t have severe sugar cravings every afternoon and need to rummage for chocolate. But I’m gradually getting headaches back again, and my energy isn’t as high and that near constant irritability that used to plague me when I was sick is rearing its ugly head. 
Juicing was really good for me in that I didn’t have to eat real food and the temptation of all the not healthful food choices was essentially eliminated. But it was really time consuming, expensive and not sustainable. When I was finishing that month of my juice fast feeling wonderful and looking better to boot, a couple of my friends suggested the Whole 30 as kind of a where to go from here next step. 
I eagerly got the books from the library and immediately decided it would be impossible to not eat sugar or bread.  And cheese. They want me to eliminate cheese! It was too strict and regimented for my personality. 
But then my doctor suggested that going gluten free might be really beneficial for me, and told me it appears that my gut still needs a lot of work and that my liver is working too hard and I should do another cleanse. And then a good friend told me she’s been diagnosed with thyroid issues and was going to start the Whole 30 a bit before the time I’d been hesitantly considering it. And then another one of our friends was going to do it with her in solidarity at first but then discovered all the ways it would benefit her family. And then another friend told me she’d join me on the second wave, and give up gluten and sugar.And another friend and fellow cheese lover said she’s eliminating dairy. 
So here I am. I had my cup of Teeccino this morning without French vanilla creamer. I didn’t have a bit of any of the kids’s cookies or Italian ices. Today, so far, has been Whole 30 compliant. 
Kevin and I are going out on a dinner and movie date tonight so I’ll see if I can keep up the momentum, but I like to be able to tell myself I don’t have to, as I’m starting officially tomorrow. 
I’m going to cook for the family lots of on plan meals, and also have separate food for myself when the kids are having sandwiches or something. 
Kevin supports me in that he’ll eat his evening ice cream in the office instead of next to me on the couch. When I was listing off all the veggies we needed to pick up at the store, he said, “And I need chocolate and beer.”
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the concepts of play and fighting

This excerpt is from For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. It encapsulates my philosophy of life and learning pretty well. I intentionally give my children large blocks of unstructured time, space to roam, and freedoms to do just about anything as long as it doesn’t impinge on others’ person or property. While it sounds good theoretically, I am struggling to make it work for me and my family. 
I am with my children all of the time. I am physically present all of the time. I am mentally and emotionally available to them probably sixty percent of the time. I have done everything I know to do to live this philosophy. 
And yet, it seems like my kiddos can’t think of anything to do when I want them to. If we have friends over, they will disappear for hours, barely turning up to eat. 
If it’s just us though, they want to sit right next to me, or on me, or fight about who is going to be on me. Or they’ll come in the living room where I am obviously otherwise occupied and start noisily eating something which one-grosses me out, because I hate the sound of people chewing and eating and two- isn’t allowed in the living room, or just start asking me inane questions or fighting and bickering, trying to get my attention. 
I spend a few hours with them in the morning, reading out loud, talking with them, doing schoolish type things. By then I need a break. I need space for my body where no one is touching me and space for my brain where no one is asking me rapid fire questions, or demanding I do something for them. Or whining!!
Then it seems like I spend the rest of the day fighting for a break and fighting to get them to help clean up after themselves, and help one another and me, and fighting to get them to stop fighting! I’m struggling. 
How much time should I be “all there” ? How much rich creative play can I really expect? Why do the books say boredom is a good thing as it launches creativity, but in practice all they can think of to do is torment a sibling? Why do they need to make their noise and mess right where I am? Why don’t my children stick to the boundaries? They matter more than the furniture but it still drives me nuts that the carpets and couches are stained from the eating in the rooms they’re not supposed to and there are holes in the upholstery from scissors and saws and “exploration”. I GIVE them interested support and empathy during their quarrels and try to really listen and reflect their feelings and they still demand more.  
How do children learn to play without my intervention? Or when they just don’t want to? How do they learn to get along without making me crazy? How I stop taking their big emotions onto myself? 
I’m struggling with these concepts of play and fighting. Struggling.
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