Having It All Together

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As a new homeschool mom, I am constantly bombarded with questions about how the kids are getting a proper education. In the past, I would immediately put my guard up because it felt like an attack on my personal ability to be able to fully educate my children. Then I learned that education can mean different things to different people.

To some, it’s important for children to be in a classroom all day learning with a teacher and dealing with their peers. And I totally get why this is “normal” to them. It’s a safe way to make sure your kids are getting their education and they don’t somehow fall through the cracks of society. Afterall, most parents have demanding work schedules and who has time to even help with homework after a long day? I know that struggle we lived it for years. That’s when we finally decided enough was enough with the rat race.

In my opinion, the benefits of homeschooling are just enormous. The kids are free to pursue what their interests are and have time to develop them. Core subjects can be discussed at length and broken down to suit the needs of each child. The field trips can be designed around which subject we’re studying, which causes the subject to become real. Here is an example of our Sea Turtle field trip. This trip made a lasting impression on the kids and they became more sympathetic to not just the delicate balance of marine life but of animals all over the world.

I used to dislike homeschooling families. I thought they looked down on us parents who put our kids in public school. They seemed to have a perfect little life spending time with their kids and creating memories, while I was stuck in an office all day wishing I could be at home. But once we became a homeschooling family I learned that it’s a not a perfect life. It’s a real struggle every day to provide all three meals, keep on task with school work, making sure the kids help with housework, keep them socialized and on and on. It can be tough but the benefits outweigh the negatives by far.

We have become closer as a family. I have learned so many things about my children that I probably would not have discovered if we held to our old way of life just to have that extra income. I know Audy is really into science and engineering. Bri loves art and wants to make video games. Mavi wants to work with animals. These are things we never talked about before because we were too busy. If you’re thinking of homeschooling don’t let self-doubt creep in. Talk to your kids about it and see where they stand. It took us a full year to decide if we were ready.

There is no such thing as having it all together. We take each day one at a time. Each moment as it comes. Why not the next time you encounter a homeschooling family ask questions of course, but also give the kids some words of encouragement?

Because honestly the best thing any of us can do in our lives is just hold it together.

What about you? Have you had to defend your decision to homeschool?

Being Present Doesn’t Mean You’re There

My children have been asking me to spend more time with them more recently. I thought this was an odd request due to the fact that we are always around each other. Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Our kids will not be so little forever and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

Choosing to be a stay at home mom was not an easy choice to make. It meant we would be down one income but on the flip side, it would create more opportunities to guide and educate our kids. Children are only young once and will eventually grow up and move on with their lives. Work can wait.

I told my husband that the kids mentioned they wanted more time with me. He suggested that perhaps I was not as present as I thought I was. Turns out he was right.

The kids and I held a meeting the next day in order to determine what the real problem was. Their number one complaint, drum roll please, was me spending too much time on my phone. The second was not really listening when we are having a conversation.

OK, what parent is not guilty of one of these or both? Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or

Back to being a stay at home mom. If you’re honest with yourself, you can admit that it can get pretty boring and repetitive. My phone is an outlet or a type of escape from the mundane things around the house. However, I never have it out during school hours. The time we spend learning is very important and the kids and I both respect that boundary.

It is the rest of the day where we all seem to go our separate ways, right through dinner and until bedtime.  I do in fact get my “me” time by carving it out. The early morning hours is my time to focus on myself. This includes workout, meditation and Bible reading. I am by no means a morning person but I found this was the best time to focus on me.

So after our meeting, we decided to put a few things into practice:

  • Absolutely no electronics at meal times.
  • If someone is speaking, put down the phone and be engaged and give a thoughtful answer.
  • Understand that at times we may not be heard and that is OK.

Kids need to know the world does not revolve around them. So, naturally, there will be boundaries in place that are aimed to help them understand that nagging is not tolerated. If I said no once then don’t ask me another million times in an attempt to try and wear me down.

Also, they understand that not every moment of the day can and will be spent with them. They need to use their imagination to play and create moments for themselves.

I am confident that moving forward that I will be able to be more present and not just merely there.

Have you had to overcome a similar challenge? Sound off in the comments!

Autumn Fun List

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Two Summers ago the kids and I made a Summer Life List and we had a blast with it.

The list served a few purposes:

  1. It forced us to get out of the house and into the sunshine.
  2. It helped us grow closer as a family.
  3. The activities ensured that the kids would be busy.
  4. Lasting memories would be made.

Now that I am thinking about it I am not sure why we didn’t do the same thing this year. It wasn’t until the Summer was over that Audy brought it to my attention that we didn’t have a Summer Fun List.

Fast forward about a month and here we are in Autumn. Er, as Autumn as Southeast Texas can get.

We sat down and thought about the fun things we could do in the Fall and came up with some fun ideas.

Starting this weekend and continuing till the end of October we will try to get everything done on the list.


Fall Fun List: 

  1. Go Stargazing
  2. Bake Pumpkin Bread
  3. Make Smores
  4. Make Candy Apples
  5. Make an Autumn Wreath for the Door
  6. Drink Apple Cider
  7. Go on a Nature Walk
  8. Fall Photo
  9. Have a picnic
  10. Visit a Corn Maze
  11. Indoor Camping
  12. Fall scented candles
  13. Make a Pine cone Bird Feeder
  14. Fall Scavenger Hunt
  15. Roast Pumpkin Seeds
  16. Try a New Hot Cocoa recipe
  17.  Leaf Rubbing Art
  18. Decorate the House for Fall
  19. Make Popcorn balls
  20. Binge watch Movies all afternoon

 

How do you prepare for Fall? Leave a comment below!

Cooking Through An Entire Cookbook

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I have never cooked through an entire cookbook before.

As far as cooking goes, I like to do it but it’s not my favorite thing to do. However, I do admit there is a certain pleasure you gain from seeing other people take delight in a dish you prepared.

But the above statement does not apply to the mom life. If it’s not a chicken nugget or french fry most kids turn their nose up at anything else.

Therein lies the challenge in making healthy and well-balanced meals that appeal to your husband as well as your kids. Most might say to just make the food and the kids should be grateful. Yeah, perhaps that might be reasonable on some level. In my experience I take a lot of time to budget, meal plan and carefully select grocery items. So, when the kids take two hours at the table to eat dinner I get pretty agitated.

A few years ago we came up with try something new Monday. No matter what dish it was the entire family had to eat it and we all decided if we liked it or not. It went well for the most part. As I started working it was much harder to plan for those nights so we stopped.

Since, my life list challenge includes cooking through an entire cookbook I thought it would be fun to bring back try something new Monday using the book.

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As you can see from the photo this cookbook is well-worn. Mainly, because its been through a lot. It is my favorite book and I have tried many recipes from it. However, there are tons more that I never prepared.

So, beginning next week I will make one meal from the book on Mondays. Then once a month I will share some of the photos.

I am hoping this will expand my family’s preferences.

Have you ever cooked through an entire cookbook? Did you end up liking something you didn’t think you would?

Houston, We Have a Problem

Panic began to set in on August 24th. News outlets began to bombard the airwaves with reports that Tropical Storm Harvey was set to become a monster hurricane.

You can read about the storm on just about any news outlet but here is a link to The New York Times.

As a born and bred Gulf Coast resident I am all too familiar with hurricanes and their power. However, with that familiarity comes a bit of skepticism that a major hurricane will blow our way.

After all, we hear non-stop year after year during hurricane season that one could possibly come our way, but then it never does.

Allison, Rita and Ike made a mark on Texans. One that is still felt to this day. Those affected picked up the pieces and moved forward with their lives. Living on the coast, you take the good with the bad.

Then comes Hurricane Harvey. Reminding every one of the worst that could happen. By the middle of the week when Harvey was to arrive, there was still skepticism in the air causing people to delay on getting supplies. The very same supplies we knew we needed to stock up on at the very beginning of Hurricane season.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

The day when people began pouring into the stores to buy non perishable food. I am one who waited till the last-minute and was in a long line. I definitely learned my lesson.

While waiting I overheard this conversation:

Man number one: “I need my Blue Bell.”

Man number two laughs: “What are you gonna do with it when the power goes out?”

Man number one: “I’m gonna eat up right then and there but at least I have it!”

Comical moment but the reality was that none of us knew what was going to happen. We never dreamed melted ice cream would be the least of our worries. We never imagined it would get as bad as it did.

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Empty bread shelves.
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This was the middle of the line. I jumped in towards the back near the dairy cases. 

Friday August 25, 2017

Hurricane Harvey made landfall north of Corpus Christi Friday night. It came ashore as a massive Category Four hurricane. This is not entirely surprising. The kids and I went to the beach the weekend before and the water was further from the shore and very warm.

Warm Gulf water is the main ingredient in fueling a hurricane. What was so unusual about this hurricane was that it would be caught between to weather systems. Now, I’m no meteorologist but that sounded like a very bad thing.

A rainmaker such as Harvey was going to be stalled because it couldn’t move. That meant massive amounts of rain would be dumped on a city that floods very easily.

Houstonians experienced Tropical Storm Allison in 2001 and we got soaked. The storm caused 9 Billion dollars worth of damage and killed 55 people. No one wanted that to ever happen again. Yet, here we were at the mercy of Harvey.

Into the night…

There is something that happens to your body when you’re on guard constantly. You get anxious, almost borderline paranoid. Our phones were blowing up with tornado alarms almost twice an hour. We couldn’t sleep, we couldn’t eat. The only we could do was keep an eye on this storm and hope things wouldn’t get any worse.

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The kids and I placed a jar outside to see how much water we could collect. In five hours this is what we collected. I realize the ruler is upside down. As soon as I snapped the first photo the power went out. Then just as fast it came back on so I quickly snapped it. 

 

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As you can see from this little guy’s face he was so over the storm.
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My cat is 17 years old. The only thing that bothered her through the storm was whether I fed her on time or not.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

By this time we’re super exhausted but thankful the water had not risen near our front door. We did not dare venture out because it was still storming. We collected another container of water and this time the pitcher filled up in just three hours.

Massive amounts of rain was falling and the sky was gray to black all day. The news was reporting homes that were being flooded and multiple rescues and evacuations were taking place. I packed a very small bag with a change of clothes for the kids in case we needed to dash out of the door. It was a scary feeling.

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This pitcher was filled to the top within three hours. I had to pour water off so it wouldn’t spill.

Sunday August 27, 2017 through August 29, 2017

Things started to improve on our side. Many neighborhoods around us, particularly close to the Brazos river were evacuated and many were placed in shelters or homes of friends. We seemed to be in a pocket where we had street flooding but were spared water in our homes. Several of our friends had water three feet or more in their homes.

It was such a sad sight but their positive attitudes helped me to feel motivated to assist them and anyone else who needed help.

I have video posted on my Instagram account of the flooding near my home.

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Aftermath in Stafford Texas. The water had subsided. You can still see Harvey in the sky. 
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We didn’t see the Sun for days and on the 29th a break in the clouds revealed it. It was the most beautiful thing we had seen. 

 


Within the past few days the world has had their eyes on Texas and boy we did not disappoint.

In a city as big as Houston there often isn’t time or desire, in some cases, to stop and talk with your neighbor. Everyone has their nose in a phone or are running late somewhere. Often you can go to a store or outing and never speak once to a stranger.

On the flip side southern hospitality exists and Texans are so good at it. Think of it this way, in some families they may go weeks without talking but as soon as something major happens or someone is sick, the family will band together and take care of each other.

That’s sort of what Houston is like.

First responders, prominent people in business and everyday people came out and showed the greatest love they could in helping each other. It really was a beautiful thing. We had to participate in some way especially since we went unaffected materially.

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The kids wanted to give away the toys they don’t play with. They reasoned that they wouldn’t someone elses trash so they sent used toys that were in good condition. Our donations went to Rockport Texas which was hit the hardest by Harvey.

Houston is still working through the mess and people are still being evacuated because of rising water. Many parts of the city are still under water.

To see photos of the aftermath The Houston Chronicle has a slide show you can view. The cover photo was also taken from The Houston Chronicle website.

Some stats on Hurricane Harvey from various news outlets:

  • 50 inches of rain fell. That is how much rain Houston receives in one year
  • Estimated damage is 180 Billion dollars
  • 19 trillion gallons of water dropped over southeast texas
  • More than 30,000 people displaced
  • The death toll is at 30 people

If you can donate to a trusted charity or send supplies to Texas, those affected would be greatly appreciative.

Some people have opinions about everything. Including what we all should have or should not have done with this storm. As devastating as this storm was Texans will rebuild. We will build more thoughtfully and prepare better in the future.

I’ve been told that perhaps we should move. How could I? There is something about looking out on the Gulf as you stand at the shore. You respect its power but also soak in its peace.

As I mentioned earlier, life on the Gulf means you take the good with the bad and you share it all with your fellow Texans.

 

 

Eclipse 2017

The kids and I have been eagerly awaiting the eclipse that was to happen here in North America. Today was the day and we were not prepared!

(The featured photo is from NASA. The link is below)

Since we live in Texas, visibility was only at sixty percent so we knew it would not be a huge difference. We did however, notice the sky had changed and it looked a bit like early evening.

Unfortunately, we did not have viewing glasses and I never got around to making the eclipse viewer with the kids. ( Yeah I know :/)

We did go outside and try to look up at the sun but like I said without the glasses to cancel out the surrounding light it was disappointing. It was still nice to go out and experience the light change in the middle of the day. Another thing I noticed it was also not as blazing hot outside for the middle of the day.

Here are our pictures:

 

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This photo was taken at 1:16 p.m. The sun was still pretty bright. 
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A view without a filter. The lighting outside was a bit darker as you can probably tell from the color of the tree.  This photo was taken at 1:25 p.m.
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A friend of mine was able to capture this photo from Houston.  Photo Credit: Olya Valyan

Here is the link to the site for NASA. You can see more photos of the eclipse and get more information.

The next eclipse will be in April 8, 2024 and here in Texas we will have greater visibility.

Were you able to see the eclipse? Share your experience below.

Back To School

This summer has been filled with fun times and some boring times.

Regardless, the kids and I had a very relaxing time off from our busy homeschool schedule.

School for us starts in August and we’re ready to get back to it…or at least I am ready.

As I have mentioned before I need structure throughout the day and having the summer off has been a little bit of a challenge for me. It’s almost like I am lost without my schedule.  We follow a very loose schedule each day but with our many activities it can be tough to stick to it. Obviously, my kids have no problems being wild and free!

I am starting to see more and more back-to-school sales and am relieved I don’t have to come up with the cash to spend on uniforms, shoes, supplies and backpacks for all three kids. We buy school supplies as needed throughout the year. However, I am not against taking advantage of the sales to bump our supply cache.

Last year, for our first year of homeschool, I bought a ton of supplies because I didn’t know what we would really need. I ended up writing a post about what items we decidedly couldn’t live without that you can check out here.  Decorations is on the list but you really don’t need them, it’s more of a want.

Some supplies for this year include:

  • Pencils
  • Pens
  • Erasers
  • Printer Ink
  • Printer Paper
  • Dry Erase Markers
  • Magnets ( I make my own magnets that you can purchase. Please and thank you!)
  • Basic Art Supplies such as paint, glue, scissors, markers, paint surface paper

I have to schedule the field trips for the year and that shouldn’t be too hard. There is always something to do around here.

Are you looking forward to school starting? If you homeschool what do you look forward to the most this year?