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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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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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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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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The Filter Of No – What It Is & How I Use It

Listen To Podcast Episode Here!

If you know me in real life then you know that I love all things “Real Housewives.” One of the reality television franchise’s biggest stars is Bethenny Frankel. The “Skinnygirl” brand CEO has a popular book called, “A Place of Yes.” Considering my fandom of Housewives and Frankel, I know it must seem really weird that one of my biggest tools in helping me maintain balance in my life is something I call “the filter of no.”

What is the filter of no? It goes something like this…

Q. Hey, can you help me plan my cousin’s baby shower?
A. No

Q. Hey, can you read this article and let me know your thoughts?
A. No

Q. Hey, can you edit this image for me? I know you’re good at this type of thing.
A. No

It’s really that easy! The filter of no is simply saying no to more things.

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Life Lessons From My Favorite Christmas Movies!

Have you seen that post that says something along the lines of, “before you get married find out if your husband’s family is the type to have movie marathons during the holidays or the type to run actual marathons”? It’s a fair warning. I can totally see how the two categories of families might not be compatible. Funny enough, my husband’s family plays a football game every Thanksgiving and my family has a few movies we just HAVE to watch every Christmas. It seems to work for us!

Speaking of movies, today I want to share what I’ve learned from some of my favorite Christmas movies. One movie has been out since 2006 (The Holiday) while the other was just released last year (Little Women). Being that my family has four girls, it shouldn’t be a huge surprise that the Louisa May Alcott story of four sisters has a special place in our hearts. We watch the 1994 film every year. We were all pretty nervous about the remake, but it’s already become (almost) just as cherished.

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My Favorite Resale Shops!

My family and I have worked hard this year to produce less day-to-day waste. We have eliminated all paper products from our kitchen and use significantly less plastic whenever we can. With sustainability a goal in mind, I was appalled to find out that Americans throw out something like 15 million tons of textiles a year, with most of that being clothing. While 100% of clothing is recyclable, only 15% of clothing is actually recycled. At the same time, Americans are buying an average of 60% new clothing every year. Simply put, we’re buying more but recycling less clothing than ever.

(Source: https://www.thebalancesmb.com/textile-recycling-facts-and-figures-2878122.)

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Family Vacation: Little Jerusalem State Park

Several months ago I saw a news story about a brand new state park opening in Kansas. It had these amazing chalk formations and great walking trails. I sent that article to my husband Dean and asked if we could go sometime. He replied yes and then we went about our regular business as usual.

Here’s the thing about me: I am always planning a million trips to a million different locations. I keep a running list on my phone of places I’d like to travel to one day. Sometimes it kills me that I’ve seen the Eiffel Tower, but I’ve never seen Mount Rushmore or been to Washington D.C. I am determined to see all of this beautiful country before I die!

When we lived in Texas, we had a state parks pass and we camped at least once a month. Now that we actually have campsites on our farm, any time I mention going camping my husband just tells us to set up our tent out back. We’ve done that and it is lovely… but there’s just something about a family camping trip and a change of scenery!

After mentioning the new park to Dean, Covid happened. Churches closed. Museums closed. Airlines closed. You know the rest… In August we had a lovely socially distanced dinner for Dean’s birthday. He admitted to me how much my imaginary vacation planning actually stresses him out. It stresses him out because he actually wants to give me all those trips, but again, Covid had just happened.

I replied, “We don’t have to get in an airplane, but I do want us to prioritize smaller family trips together. You know, places we can go in the car and create new once-in-a-lifetime memories. Little Jerusalem, for example.”

From that moment on, Dean took my suggestion and ran with it. He planned our whole trip! It was a out of my comfort zone to let go of the reins, but I am so glad I did! So, keep reading to get a run down of our recent family vacation to Kansas’ newest state park, Little Jerusalem!

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10 Life Lessons I Learned From “The Hills”

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Listen to Podcast Episode here!

If you are a girl in your early 30s like me, then you likely were at just the right age to watch “Laguna Beach” on MTV, which morphed into following Lauren Conrad on her coming of age journey to Los Angeles on “The Hills.” I used to watch the show on cable religiously. One time my sister heard me yelling at one of the main characters Heidi on screen and later asked me who this Heidi person was I hated so much. It was that real to me! Also, it’s no secret that Lauren Conrad is still a major inspiration to me. I recently re-watched “The Hills” on Hulu and wrote down all the life lessons that stuck with me and even some I didn’t pick up on when I was younger. I hope you enjoy reminiscing on this sweet time in T.V. history with me or that you pick up a few helpful tips to be successful in life!

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