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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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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Sponsored Post: Why I Love Fabletics ;-)

Note: This is a sponsored post meaning Fabletics will most likely compensate me for this review. Also, if you click through the links and make a purchase or sign up to be a VIP, I will get a small kickback. Thank you for your support!

We’ve all seen advertising for Fabletics (because they are good at what they do) but I must admit it took me months before I finally jumped on board. I had tried other legging brands that were great for lounging, but not so great for actually being active. Also, like many other women’s clothes, they never had pockets! One day my oh so cool just out of college sister came to visit me. She was wearing the most flattering dark blue leggings with pockets on the side! I was instantly covetous. I asked her where she got them and she replied, “Fabletics!” At that moment her friends who were with her all excitedly chimed in about how much they enjoyed their monthly deliveries. As soon as they left I rushed to my computer and signed up to be a VIP!

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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.


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Why I’m Still Obsessed With The 90s!

Listen to Podcast Episode Here!

Whenever someone asks, “what kind of music do you like?” I used to give the old line, “oh you know, all kinds!”

Well that’s a total lie and I am here to admit the truth.

I pretty much exclusively listen to exactly two genres: 90s Boy Bands and Worship music.

In particular, my all time favorite boy band is Backstreet Boys. Or Backstreet Dads as I like to call them nowadays. I have seen them a total of three times so far: once in middle school in St. Louis, once in Las Vegas during their residency, and once just last year in Kansas City. I actually have plans to see them again here in Wichita in what is hopefully a post-covid 2021. I’ve also seen Britney Spears in Las Vegas during her residency and it was easily one of the best nights of my life!

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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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