Yearly Homeschool Update: 2021

In order to tell you about our 2021 homeschool year so far, I unfortunately have to tell you about our 2020 homeschool year first. While this will be a walk down memory lane I truly don’t want to take, I am willing to do it in order to share with you.

I know that I am not alone in saying that our 2020 school year was incredibly hard. For my friends who public school, they were faced with “crisis homeschooling”, which was totally unfair to all involved. Many of my friends had new found respect for homeschool and some even decided to completely pull their kids out of public school. One thing I want to make sure you understand, is that even though we were already homeschooling pre-pandemic, our homeschool was still affected by the shut downs. Many of our meet ups and field trips were cancelled, and not just that, but I know my kids felt the heaviness of the world. Maybe not as much as other kids, but they definitely felt it.

In addition to the worldly complications, last year ended up being challenging academically for both my kids. My first grader was learning to read, while my 9th grader was getting into some difficult levels in Science and Math. For myself, I was really feeling the pressure of what both grade levels had in store. Sean was already at the point where he was learning subjects that I remember struggling in. One of my big goals for the year was making sure I did not pass on my “math anxiety” to him.

Last year, we were using an online program called Monarch for my oldest. I’ve written about it before and it was a great fit for our family for several years when we first started homeschooling. There was very little grading/planning I had to do and we didn’t have to order boxes upon boxes of curriculum books. Unfortunately, last year was finally the year that Monarch started not fitting us well.

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Parenting in the Technology Age: What Worked For Us & What Didn’t

I’ll never forget this one time when we were cleaning out a closet and we stumbled across an old VHS tape rewinder. My oldest asked what it was and of course I explained. He simply could not grasp the concept that you had to have a totally separate device to rewind a movie and could not just go to a menu screen. Another time I was trying to explain dial-up internet. Again, the concept that the internet wasn’t just immediately available in the palm of his hand seemed completely foreign. I don’t share those examples to make us feel old, I share those examples to illustrate that whether we like it or not, technology is so engrained in our children’s lives these days.

In our house we’ve always been pretty pro-technology. Our children have seen both of their parents make careers out of managing technology or sharing content online. Also when we were first exploring homeschool, it was an online program that proved the best choice for us. Even so, as our oldest was entering his pre-teen and teen years, we knew he couldn’t just be completely free rein on the internet.

A few years back our oldest was saving up for a phone. That in and of itself was a good financial experience. It would have been the biggest purchase he had made. He had to learn to bypass smaller purchases for the bigger one. However, my husband and I ultimately ended up buying his phone. Here’s why: I wanted it to be clear that we control the phone. I wanted it to be clear that there would be rules around it that he would have to follow. I didn’t want to hear, “well it’s my phone you can’t take it away” or “it’s my phone I can look at what I want.”

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Book Reviews: Summer ’21 Edition

As some of you may know, I am in the process of trying to get a book published. Obviously a big part of that process was actually sitting down to write my book. I worked with a writing coach and was told early on that I needed to be reading as much as I am writing. This was an adjustment as I normally only averaged 1-2 books per year. I’m proud to say I’ve gotten much better and am able to read a book every couple months or so. Even with that progress, I have to admit I was a little nervous when I found myself signed up for not one, not two, but three book clubs over the Summer!

My sweet friend Alice invited me to read “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah. I was all in and ordered the book off Amazon. When it was delivered two days later, the package was so big I thought it was a pair of shoes! I was mortified when I saw how big the book was and nervous I wasn’t going to be able to keep up.

Around the same time, my Libertarian friend Allison asked me to read “Economics In One Lesson” by Henry Hazlitt with her. They were giving them away at the state convention we had just attended and I was also all in on this book as I have not read many Libertarian books yet.

The third book I took on this Summer was actually a bible study called “Forgiving What You Can’t Forget” by Lysa Terkeurst. I had heard Lysa speak on this topic at this year’s If:Gathering, so I was really excited to read it.

But could I do it? Could I read three books simultaneously and not let the other girls down who I was reading them with?

I’ll be honest, I actually didn’t make it. But I was so close!

My friend Allison got too excited about economics and read way far ahead of me. Also, I had to miss the last week or so of bible study, so I didn’t finish that one with the group either. I did however get the biggest book, “The Nightingale,” done in time – yay!

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Splitting A Bee Hive & Bringing Home Bees!

I am not exactly sure when I decided I wanted to keep bees someday. I do remember when I first learned about how important bees are to our food system. Without bees, we would likely lose entire links to the food chain. Our precious earth would struggle even more to feed all of its inhabitants. As scary as that is, and even with as long as we’ve known it, we are still managing to kill off the bee population in droves. Between pesticides, pollution, and even construction – these busy beauties are having a hard time. If keeping a hive on my land could help keep up their population numbers and help pollinate my crops, then why not?

I also heard from many sources that regularly eating honey that is made local to you is a miracle cure of sorts for allergies. Local honey is made from local pollen and when ingested over time your body naturally becomes stronger against that pollen. My entire family suffers from different seasonal allergies. So again, why not keep bees?

Also, just last month Harpers Bazaar reported that none other than Her Royal Highness Kate Middleton herself also has a passion for bees. Soon after that article my husband’s Aunt Lisa called me explaining that their new bee hive was looking like it wanted to split. She asked if we wanted to take the other half of their hive? After picking myself up off the floor, we started the plan to bring bees to Hayseed Farm!

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Butler County Farm to Fork Tour + Dinner

If you follow me on social media at all then you probably saw a series of posts from the Butler County Farm to Fork Tour and dinner that Dean and I recently went on. It was such a jam packed day that I have even more content I’d like to share with you! First, this was the 6th Annual Farm to Fork event. The event is a fundraiser for “Ag in the Classroom” in Butler County and hosted by the Butler County Farm Bureau Association. We were also joined by Kansas Farm Bureau board members and administrators. I learned on the tour that the KFB is a group that helps Kansas farm families through advocacy, education, and service. We started our day at Fulton Valley Farms in Towanda, where our tour bus for the day picked us up!

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Our Home & Farm Pallet Wood Designs!

If you’re on Pinterest or follow home design trends at all, then you know that pallet wood projects are hugely popular. Pallets are just so versatile! You can simply leave them in their pallet form and paint them as a decor piece. Or you can disassemble them and use the wood for countless projects. This is typically what we do. My family and I happen to have a really good hook up with consistent, large pallets. If you’re looking for the hook up, I suggest searching online on sites like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. You can also simply drive around your town looking for places that have pallets out by their dumpster. Many times you can approach that business about taking their pallets off their hands! If you’re feeling really brave, you can ask that they call you going forward anytime they have pallets. Hook up secured! Our pallet wood projects, like many of our tasks, are usually a team effort. I will come up with a design, our 13 year old will carefully take apart the wood and remove the nails, and then my husband will bring the designs to life. If you aren’t one for coming up with your own designs, there are many free pallet plans available online. I was reflecting the other day on all the projects we’ve done both in the house and around the farm with pallet wood and thought I’d share!

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All My Best Gardening Tips From A Non-Expert Gardener!

Every Spring I get at least a couple messages from friends or online acquaintances asking me their gardening or chickening questions. I love getting these messages, so keep them coming! I figured that more people probably have those same questions, so I thought I’d compile all my best gardening tips into one nice post. Maybe you’re just curious, maybe you haven’t gotten up the courage to message me your burning gardening question, or maybe you’ve always wanted a garden but have no idea where to start. Either way, I hope reading about what I am doing helps you in some way.

First, I want to make sure you know that I do not consider myself a gardening expert. My gardening goal every year is simple: produce a little more than I did the year before. I have found that this goal leaves room for lots of grace, space to learn, and even for failures.

My first garden was in the backyard of our Texas house. It was your typical suburban neighborhood and not an agricultural neighborhood like where we are living now. My husband built two raised beds with chicken wire fencing around one of them and a simple little latch gate for me to enter. The ground where we lived at the time was pretty much just clay, so the raised beds were a good fit. The wire fencing around it was purely functional, to keep our dogs out. One bed ended up being rose bushes with a compost pile in the corner, our first go at being a low waste kitchen. From what I remember our main raised bed had tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, green beans and bell peppers.

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Book Teaser: Announcing “Crooked Paths Straight”

If you’ve been following me on social media then you may have caught that I am in the middle of trying to get a book published! I am holding out for a traditional publishing deal, but I am also considering other publishing options. For now, I wanted to share a little about my overall vision for “Crooked Paths Straight.” The title is based on Isaiah 45:2 where God says, “I will go before you and make the crooked paths straight.”

I originally set out to write my family’s story about immigrating legally from Mexico to the United States back in the 1960s. From there I found myself looking back on my life and all the ways I tried to live out of alignment with God’s desires for me. For example, my husband and I had our first child while we were just freshmen in college. Statistics said it was a completely unredeemable situation, but God! God made my crooked path straight then and has continued to do so my whole life. Other major catalysts in my story include the difficulties of growing up in between two cultures, seeing forgiveness at work after the loss of a childhood friend, the hustle and bustle of being an entrepreneur, and my family’s return to our ancestor’s roots by way of leaving the city for the farm. The book will end with my modern-day advice for topics such as marriage, parenting, homeschool, food, entrepreneurship, and faith. 

This book is for anyone who walks with the weight of past mistakes. Anyone who wants to trade shame and confusion in for hope and help. Anyone who is ready to partner with God in building a brighter future for themselves.

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1 Year Later: What Quarantine Taught Me

Listen To Podcast Episode Here!

For most people here in Kansas, sometime in March 2020 marked the beginning of all the lockdowns and restrictions. When I first started taking notes for this post, we were only about a month or so into quarantine. My notes kept growing as I kept thinking, “I don’t want to post this while I’m still in quarantine, I want this piece to be a look back on my complete quarantine experience.” Well, here we are one year later!

While I am so thankful that we are not in a full on quarantine anymore, I can hardly believe we are still dealing with this virus. And while I hate the phrase “the new normal,” I am convinced that we might not ever get back to what life was like before coronavirus. But maybe that’s okay? Maybe we need to be more cautious than we were before?

My local news stations say that as more people are getting vaccinated, we are just a couple more months away from being free from masks and limited gatherings. Whatever the return of that freedom looks like to you, I know it’s going to be a sweet moment. I can see you now at a big outdoor concert or festival, surrounded by your best friends finally mask free, singing along to your favorite song with your hands held out, as a big smile comes across your face as you remember, THIS is what freedom feels like! Oh my goodness, I can’t wait for that moment for you.

For now though, I want to reflect on some things that I learned during my quarantine/coronavirus experience.

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Bulletproof Diet: A Day In The Life

First, I want to preface this post by saying I am not a doctor or nutritional/fitness professional. I am merely sharing my results with the Bulletproof method and what that journey looked like for me.

So, what is the Bulletproof Diet? In short, it is a ketogenic diet that consists of high fat intake and avoiding sugars, carbohydrates, and dairy. When my husband and I first discovered the Bulletproof Diet about 7 years ago, we both lead pretty sedentary lifestyles (ie. office jobs). We were looking to improve our health and we found Dave Asprey’s blog all about “bio-hacking.” It was a pretty new idea at the time, but it basically comes down to optimizing what you’re putting in your body for optimal performance. His diet boasted higher energy and focus, as well as had a version for weight loss.

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