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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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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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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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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Behind The Scenes Of My Former Life

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One day over a cup of coffee my new friend asked, “So do you think this town is a good place to own a business?”

I took a long pause as I thought back over the past few years. I had opened and had been operating a small digital marketing firm in “the biggest small town” in South Central Texas. It was fairly successful, but it had come with costs.

“On paper, I think this town has all the resources needed for a new business to be very successful. But in reality, it’s not exactly a fair playing field.” I replied.

“What do you mean?” my friend pursued.

At the time, I was still very much in the game and trying to play by all the rules. However, now having been out of the game a couple years; I am finally ready to share a few glimpses behind the scenes of my former life.

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Our Late Dog Wesley: A Cautionary Tale

Okay friends, between Vegas and wine tastings, my last few posts have been fairly fun. I am afraid I have to bring us down a little this month, but I promise I am only sharing to help spare another family from heartbreak. If you aren’t one for sad stories, then I suggest you skip this post altogether or skip down to the pet health and safety tips.  Also, please note that I am not a veterinarian or animal medical professional. I am simply sharing what we learned in an effort to spare you some mistakes.

Back in 2017 before we moved to Kansas, we had our house on the market down in Texas. We had to do this crazy routine everytime we had a showing. We would load up the whole family, which at this time included 3 dogs, and go hang out in a park somewhere. We had a pretty solid offer on our house, but our real estate agent said it would still be a good idea to continue accepting showings. We had a request for an early morning showing on a Saturday, so we decided to visit Palmetto State Park. It was only an hour or so away and we had been there before, so it seemed perfect.

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Inside My Intentional Kitchen Design

If you follow me online at all then you likely saw my kitchen remodel reveal. We took out an entire wall, so of course the before and after pictures are impressive. But there are alot of other intentional details that went into the design that I want to share with you.

First, a little background on how we ended up in this house. Between the properties we looked at in Texas and the properties we looked at here in Kansas, we looked at about 50 homes. One day before our final go around Wichita my husband sent me a link to a house and said, “this is a good example of a bad house on good land that we could fix up.” Even though it was just supposed to be an example, we lined up a showing. It was our very last showing before heading back on down the highway to Texas. The land itself was beautiful, but the house actually made me cry. It was so much worse than the photos made it look. I think I cried all the way through Oklahoma. However, something about it I just couldn’t leave alone. The opening sequence to one of my favorite shows ends with the phrase, “do you have what it takes to take on a fixer upper?” Well, as it turns out, I do have exactly what it takes to take on a fixer upper.

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Navigating Adult Friendships

Guys, making new friends as an adult is hard. Making new friends as a wife and mother is even harder. I have stayed in toxic friendships for years because it honestly felt easier than cultivating new friendships. In the past, my husband and I struggled to find even just one couple we could both connect with and that was in the same life stage as us. And what about once you’ve made a new friend? Once the “honeymoon stage” has worn off and you’re dealing with real life issues, how do you navigate the complexities of keeping a friendship? It should be easy, but the truth of the matter is that a lot of times – it is messy. I have found that nothing kills a friendship faster than insecurity and a competition mentality. If you choose to be friends with someone, you have to make a conscious effort to love and trust them. No friendship can thrive under paranoia and constant criticism. This week I asked my social media followers for the best friendship advice they’ve been given and the first one I got went like this: “celebrate their wins even when you feel like you’re not winning! It is not a competition but a relationship.” Amen, Brooke!

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