Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Keeping White Walls Clean with Kids

Since moving into our house last year and slowly making it into our home...My main focus was to paint the walls a pretty white and to have the color and simple decorating to come from pictures, art and decor in the room.

With kiddos- white is actually easier to maintain and I feel gives your home a cozy, inviting and warm atmosphere. It brightens a room naturally and enhances the natural light that falls in from your windows and doors!

Slowly though you might start to notice fingerprints, marks, crayons that accidentally bumped the wall and other day to day life on your walls. This is all easily taken care of with 2-3 simple ingredients!!

+Warm water in a bowl
+A sponge
+Thieves Cleaner

You can easily do this with the first two! I just add two tiny sprays of thieves cleaner to the bowl for added measure because it is toxic free and smells so Christmasy.

The boys wipe down our baseboards about every other week along with the doorknobs and light switches.

The walls can be spot cleaned every week but that schedule doesn't work well for our rhythm. I will usually wipe down the walls every few weeks and I rotate it room by room or hall by hall. Makes it simple and I can knock out a whole room in about 10 minutes!

Make sure to carry a towel along with you so for any water that drips down to the baseboards and floor you can easily wipe up.

Looking to remove crayon from your walls? Lemon essential oil is your best friend. As well as a magic eraser and even baking soda.

I truly love keeping a home. Cleaning is one of the main ways to keep a home and it truly is one of my favorite things to do! I will usually play some music, put essential oils in the diffuser that encourage focusing and whip out the daily cleaning in just under 30 minutes! We do a deep clean every Friday before we head into a weekend of adventures and rest.

What do you enjoy cleaning in your home?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Coming up for Air

This past year and a half has been one where I have felt I have come up for air when it pertains to parenthood. Josh and I frequently talk about it and both agree. Parenting is a beautiful thing... you can go through stages all over again and grab those moments and things you may have missed or don't remember as a kiddo and you also get the joy of experiencing it through your child's eyes as well!

It doesn't matter if you have minimized kids toys, kept to a cleaning schedule, have no tv time, encouraged and enjoyed lots of outdoor time-- parenting kiddos under 4 is just straight up       h a r d sometimes! So that's why in the past year I have felt I have been coming up for air.

I thoroughly enjoyed many sweet moments and memories with my boys as babies and toddlers. I loved when they would fall asleep in my arms at 2AM feedings, play with my hair while cuddling, first time they tried a new food, how adorable their 2 and 3 year old voices were and sooo much more!

Can I say-- I am really love this stage of parenthood right now? Each stage comes with its pros and cons, those moments you love and those who don't love so much. The stage we are in now is truly a loving stage. They love to watch Josh work on something around the house for hours, they love to play games and get jokes now, they both love to create and explore!

I don't have this parenting gig all figured out but I want to so encourage you mamas of little ones under 4-- the next stage is close and each stage I feel just gets better and better.

Here are some of my favorite books as a parent that have been SO beneficial and encouraging:

Wild Things: the art of nurturing boys 

Am I Messing up My Kids? 

Strong and Kind: and other important character traits your child needs to succeed

The Lifegiving Home 

Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World 

The Faithful Parent: a biblical guide to raising a family 

The Mission of Motherhood 

A Chicken's Guide to Talking Turkey with Your Kids about Sex

I would love to hear what stage of parenthood you are in? What are you loving?

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Enter the Folgers Jingle Contest

This post was sponsored by Folgers as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsement and testimonials in advertising. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.

"The best part of waking up is Folgers in your cup." 

This jingle is one that sticks with you, brings back childhood memories and is probably one of those jingles that has a nice sweet tune to it! I always remember singing along with it when it would come on a commerical. 

Well guess what? Now YOU can come up with a fun, exciting new way to sing the jingle and enter the Folgers Jingle Contest. 

Folgers jingle has become a piece of our culture and with music being a big part of our lives, Folgers is inviting aspiring musicians (or even cute little ones) to take the well-known tune and make it their own!! 

+You can submit a video of your own version of the jingle on the website during January 30th-February 27th. Your version must include the complete melody and complete lyrics of "The Best Part of Waking Up is Folgers In Your Cup". 

+February 27th-March 19th they will choose 5 semi-finalists. Each semi-finalists will have a mentor session with Chris Young before the online vote!!  
+March 27th-April 24th, fans around the country will get the chance to vote daily for their favorite jingle. So exciting! Every vote automatically enters you to win prizes up to $10,000!!! 
+Finally, in May, one winner will be selected to win the grand prize of $25,000-- the best!

Make sure you enter the contest and don't forget to vote (and tell others too) for your favorite jingle during March and April. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

10 Best Reads of 2016

Each year I sit down and review the books I have read in the previous months. It's always been such an interesting process to see how the mixture of genres and topics of books changes with seasons in weather and also seasons of our life. I always have a hard time narrowing down my top 10 (sometimes 15) of the year!

I read 33 books in 2016. If you compare it to 2015 that is a significant amount less than the past.. yet to me it is progress! My goal for the year was to take it slow, soak up my books more and enjoy them longer. I absolutely love reading and will cruise through a book because I can't wait to get to the next chapter, learn something new, see what happens, etc.

I hope you find some good reads in this list and enjoy browsing the titles and adding them to your collection of must reads! I would love to hear-- what was your favorite read last year?

How to Win Friends and Influence People
Dale Carnegie
Since its release in 1936, How to Win Friends and Influence People has sold more than 15 million copies. Learn the six ways to make people like you, the twelve ways to win people to your way of thinking, and the nine ways to change people without arousing resentment. I found so much amazing information in this book and it is one to keep on your bookshelf to return to every so often. 

His Needs Her Needs
William F. Harley, Jr. 
The needs of women and men are similar. But according to Dr. Harley, their priorities are vastly different. Are you able to identify which of the following needs are his and which are hers? Out of the ten marital needs listed here, which are most important to you? In your opinion, which five are most important to your spouse? I loved this marriage book, I always aim to read a few each year. 

The Bronte Plot
Katherine Reay
Lucy Alling makes a living selling rare books, often taking suspicious measures to reach her goals. When her unorthodox methods are discovered, Lucy's secret ruins her relationship with her boss and her boyfriend James—leaving Lucy in a heap of hurt, and trouble. Something has to change; she has to change.... I have read each of Katherine's novels and have LOVED every single one. This one didn't disappoint at all!

A Duty to the Dead
Charles Todd
World War I nurse Bess Crawford, in A Duty to the Dead. A gripping tale of perilous obligations and dark family secrets in the shadows of a nightmarish time of global conflict, A Duty to the Dead is rich in suspense, surprise, and the impeccable period atmosphere that has become a Charles Todd trademark. If you love mystery, suspense-- you will love this series! I read quite a few in this series this past year and have loved each one! 

The Lake House
Kate Morton 
Living on her family’s idyllic lakeside estate in Cornwall, England, Alice Edevane is a bright, inquisitive, and precociously talented sixteen-year-old who loves to write stories. One midsummer’s eve, after a beautiful party drawing hundreds of guests to the estate has ended, the Edevanes discover that their youngest child, eleven-month-old Theo, has vanished without a trace. He is never found, and the family is torn apart, the house abandoned. Decades later, Alice is living in London, having enjoyed a long successful career as a novelist. Miles away, Sadie Sparrow, a young detective in the London police force, is staying at her grandfather’s house in Cornwall. While out walking one day, she stumbles upon the old Edevane estate—now crumbling and covered with vines. Her curiosity is sparked, setting off a series of events that will bring her and Alice together and reveal shocking truths about a past long gone...yet more present than ever. A lush, atmospheric tale of intertwined destinies from a masterful storyteller, The Lake House is an enthralling, thoroughly satisfying read. Such a fun read!!! 

The Painter's Daughter
Julie Klassen 
Sophie Dupont, daughter of a portrait painter, assists her father in his studio, keeping her own artwork out of sight. She often walks the cliffside path along the north Devon coast, popular with artists and poets. It's where she met the handsome Wesley Overtree, the first man to tell her she's beautiful. Captain Stephen Overtree is accustomed to taking on his brother's neglected duties. Home on leave, he's sent to find Wesley. Knowing his brother rented a cottage from a fellow painter, he travels to Devonshire and meets Miss Dupont, the painter's daughter. He's startled to recognize her from a miniature portrait he carries with him--one of Wesley's discarded works. But his happiness plummets when he realizes Wesley has left her with child and sailed away to Italy in search of a new muse. Wanting to do something worthwhile with his life, Stephen proposes to Sophie. He does not offer love, or even a future together, but he can save her from scandal. If he dies in battle, as he believes he will, she'll be a respectable widow with the protection of his family. Desperate for a way to escape her predicament, Sophie agrees to marry a stranger and travel to his family's estate. But at Overtree Hall, her problems are just beginning. Will she regret marrying Captain Overtree when a repentant Wesley returns? Or will she find herself torn between the father of her child and her growing affection for the husband she barely knows? This one is definitely a re-read on my list! 

Strong and Kind
Korie Robertson
Many parents want to see positive character traits in their children but wonder how to instill them. As stars of the hit reality-TV show Duck Dynasty, Korie and Willie Robertson receive loads of letters and messages from fans asking how they’ve raised such good kids. As they will tell you, “it isn’t always easy, but raising kids with good character is possible.” A straightforward, practical approach to parenting, Strong and Kind helps you identify the character traits you want to see in your children and gives you the tools for putting them in place. Besides strength and kindness other character traits include: Self-Control, Honesty, Compassion, Patience, Joyfulness, Loyalty, Humility & more. By modeling positive traits, with confidence, consistency, creativity, unity, and in truth and love, you can increase the chances of your kids catching on. At the end of the day, the Duck Dynasty stars say the most important thing you can do for your children is what they do at the end of every episode: hand them over to God in prayer. This is a beautiful parenting book that helps you cast a vision for your parenting and your kiddos! 

Raising Grateful Kids
Kristen Welch
"But everyone else has it." "If you loved me, you'd get it for me!" When you hear these comments from your kids, it can be tough not to cave. You love your children--don't you want them to be happy and to fit in? Kristen Welch knows firsthand it's not that easy. In fact, she's found out that when you say yes too often, it's not only hard on your peace of mind and your wallet--it actually puts your kids at long-term risk. In Raising Grateful Kids in an Entitled World, Kristen shares the ups and downs in her own family's journey of discovering why it's healthiest not to give their kids everything. Teaching them the difference between "want" and "need" is the first step in the right direction. With many practical tips and anecdotes, she shares how to say the ultimate yes as a family by bringing up faith-filled kids who will love God, serve others, and grow into hardworking, fulfilled, and successful adults. It's never too late to raise grateful kids. Get ready to cultivate a spirit of genuine appreciation and create a Jesus-centered home in which your kids don't just say--but mean!--"thank you" for everything they have. Put this one on your list friends-- it has so many valuable tips, honest stories and encouragement for parents of all ages! 

The Magnolia Story 
Chip and Joanna Gaines 
The Magnolia Story is the first book from Chip and Joanna, offering their fans a detailed look at their life together. From the very first renovation project they ever tackled together, to the project that nearly cost them everything; from the childhood memories that shaped them, to the twists and turns that led them to the life they share on the farm today. They both attended Baylor University in Waco. However, their paths did not cross until Chip checked his car into the local Firestone tire shop where Joanna worked behind the counter. Even back then Chip was a serial entrepreneur who, among other things, ran a lawn care company, sold fireworks, and flipped houses. Soon they were married and living in their first fixer upper. Four children and countless renovations later, Joanna garners the attention of a television producer who notices her work on a blog one day... This was such an inspiring look into a beautiful marriage, family and small business life of two influential people! 

Grace not Perfection 
Emily Ley 
Grace, Not Perfection takes this message from a daily planner to an inspirational book that encourages women to simplify and prioritize. Designed with Emily Ley’s signature aesthetic, this book gives women tangible ways to simplify their lives to give space to what matters most. With a focus on faith, Emily reminds readers that God abundantly pours out grace on us—and that surely we can extend grace to ourselves. Have you been told you can have it all, only to end up exhausted and occasionally out of sorts with the people you love? Are you ready for a new way of seeing your time? Learn to live a little more simply. Hold yourself and those you love to a more life-giving standard in Grace Not Perfection,and allow that grace to seep into your days, your family, and your heart. This book gave practical tips for list making, simplifying your life, strategies to center your day and more! 

Honorable Mentions 

OOLA Dave Braun & Tony Amdahl
The Mountain Midwife Laurie Alice Eakes
A House Divided Robert Whitlow

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Our Homeschooling Days: a mid year update

This seems to be the time of year homeschooling mamas feel the "blahs". Cold weather keeps us indoors a little too much longer each day and if we haven't taken frequent breaks we are feeling the burnout ever growing.

I'm happy to say burnout is NOT a problem this year since we have been taking a week's rest every few weeks. It's been such a superb idea and I encourage all homeschool mamas to implement it. It does consist of a little bit of planning. Grab a calendar- count six weeks. Mark the 7th week as a rest week. Rinse & repeat! So simple and that is what we've done. On our rest week we have:

+deep cleaned the house a little more
+I plan to get extra work done at home with my business 
+we plan more intentional fun family time with a fun outing or two

If this is your first time reading my blog or homeschool posts- a little background for you. I homeschool our two little men: a 1st grader and pre-kindergartner. I love a rhythm for our days and each Friday sit down and go through our books to see what is planned for the next week. If I had to pinpoint our "homeschool method" it would be a mixture of Charlotte Mason/Eclectic/Traditional. My basic ideology at this age and beyond is read, read and read more. Everything else follows after easily.

If you caught our beginning of the school year post you know I found a curriculum I was pretty happy with yet.. it fell apart about a month and a half in. If something isn't clicking I don't like to continue with it. After talking with a close friend I went off and sold our barely used books and unused curriculum and purchased the following for the boys.

Benjamin (1st grade)

One thing I love about online shopping is purchasing our curriculum. It's made it simple, affordable and painless! I purchased the following A Beka curriculum from Christian Book Distributors..

+ Arithmetic 1 
+ Spelling & Poetry 
+ Writing with Phonics 
+ Languages 1 
+ Letters and Sounds 1 
+ Handbook for Reading 
+ Grade 1 Readers (my friend and I are sharing these!)

Ben is also starting Science Class this week with a co-op and we are reading this book for history. My focus this year with Ben has been to get him reading on his own and just one short month after beginning A Beka he jumped ahead quickly to reading chapter books by himself! He has read a few Magic Tree House books and also just started the first book in the Boxcar children series. It is so neat to see your own kiddos read books you enjoyed as a child!

We are also in Awana this year and each day he writes out and recites the verses he is memorizing for the week. This has been such an amazing resource to have in addition to our school!

Ian  (Pre-K) 

I loved when we used Rod & Staff with Ben in Pre-K so I decided to grab these books again. It says Preschool but this series is truly SO informative and works on developing thinking skills, motor skills, hearing vowels and consonants, beginning to read and more! He is loving the books so far and really enjoys each morning we pull them out.

My focus with Ian this year has been to develop his writing skills more (which he has improved so much in already!) and to take the beginning steps to reading. My other focus this year is helping him to make friends since he is just like his mama and becomes pretty shy!

He is also in Awana this year, so each day we recite his verse of the week! He will also be in the same Science class with his brother which he is excited about.

Our typical school day looks like: 

Breakfast/Getting Dressed/Brush Teeth

Morning Chores (making bed, one chore each that varies)

Playtime either outside or indoors with legos, nerf guns or drawing time

School time begins with Ben starting math or writing his Awana verses, I will start school time with Ian once Ben is working on his workbooks and understands what to do

We usually finish about 11:30-noon and head right into lunch time with a Netflix show or two

Quiet time begins after lunch..which also is my work time for me

Any extra schoolwork left we will finish after quiet time

I have a goal (and since starting the new year I haven't done as well) of reading aloud after quiet time so we are picking it back up this week. We recently finished Farmer Boy- which the boys loved!

Our Thursday's will be different starting this week as it will become our Library/Science Day. So I plan to take our schoolwork to the library in the morning after dropping Josh off at work and then enjoying lunch out with the boys and heading to Science class right after. It's not a definite plan so the first few weeks we will see how it flows!

We have a field trip planned for February with our little homeschool group I formed last year. It has been so fun to form relationships with other homeschool moms and also see the boys begin to connect with those their age. I'm excited for what this spring holds for our little Buccaneer Academy!!

Hang in there homeschool mamas if it is rough right now, the rough days come and sometimes that's when you just drop the books, head outside and enjoy nature! Or if it is frigid and cold out- pop in a movie or pull out a board game.

Homeschool mamas- what have you loved about this school year and what has been a struggle?