Motherhood. Mothers. And the song that cannot be stopped.

So, Mother’s Day. Blah, blah, blah. It’s never been my favorite.

To me, it feels a little like the holiday equivalent of finally listening to your mother when she’s screamed at you for the millionth time to clean up your room. You only pay attention when it gets super obvious and you’re afraid she’ll get mad if you don’t.

Still, thinking about mothers makes me think about women in general which feels especially important in this current social climate. Guess what most mothers would love instead of a card on Mother’s Day? They’d like more than 6 weeks of maternity leave. Better post-partum support. For you to keep your opinions about breast-feeding to yourself. Those are great places to start. They’d like not to worry about their daughters getting date raped. They’d like for society to stop telling their sons that the only way to “be a man” is to pound his chest and haze underclassman at frat parties. They’d like to be able to sleep at night without worrying about the world they are sending their kids into.

But, since we are supposed to celebrate mothers on this one day of the year (so we can go back to ignoring these things that matter to them the other 364 days) I will play along. Because, the thing is, I’ve known some spectacular mothers. I’ve known mothers who have walked with their child through a mental health crisis and looked those ugly days right in the eye and you know what they did next? They kept on going and carrying the load of their children’s pain. I’ve known moms who poured their heart and soul into loving a tiny baby only to have that child snatched from their arms through sickness or injury. And these moms did the most amazing thing ever: THEY LIVED.

Moms are women, after all, and women possess a strength that is to be admired and, sometimes, feared.

My journey as a mom has been less dramatic. I have loved fiercely. I have feared the unknown. I have walked the halls with a sick child and had my heart break when my child experienced the cruelness of this world. I have endured the pain of losing three babies before I could feel my body swell with the fullness of their lives. And because my own mother has passed on to me that beautiful strength and glory that all women possess in their bones I became stronger from it. I grew more determined to protect and love and change this world through the force of my love for my children.

When I was a little girl my parents bought me a cat. A cat I had wanted for my entire life. You know, approximately 6 whole years. So, when we moved to a new house they picked the most beautiful cat to give me. A perfectly lovely dark black Persian cat named Midnight. And here was the deal. If I wanted to keep Midnight I had to take care of her. I had to keep her safe and protect her and love her and never let anything happen to her. So I did.

One night right after we moved in we discovered that the train tracks out front had a train that passed by around bedtime each night. Is there anything more exciting than a train when you’re 6 years old? I certainly thought there wasn’t. And if 6-year-olds love trains so much how much more would a cat love to see it? (You see where this is going, right?) The next night was a warm summer night and right before I went to bed I brought Midnight outside with me to watch the train pass. I stood on the front porch of our house shirtless  in my pink pajama pants and waited. As it so happens, cats are not big fans of trains. Midnight reacted exactly like every adult in the world would predict she would. She tried to climb out of my arms and get away from the loud whistle of the train. But Midnight was my responsibility. And I would not let go. And so I stood bare-chested on the front porch as my beautiful Persian cat clawed me bloody until the train passed by. I never once released my grip. I was scratched and bleeding and delivered that cat right into the panicked hands of my parents. Now 31 years later I realize that motherhood is the emotional equivalent of that night.

Motherhood, I really believe, is about sacrifice. It is about loving enough to endure the painful moments that are necessary to protect others. It is about holding on even when it hurts. Even when you can’t endure the wounds that the one you love inflicts on you. Even when you know it would be easier to give up.

My kids are young. The toddler years are exhausting thanks to innumerable tantrums. The elementary ages can be frustrating with their constant questioning of the who/what/when/why of the world. The early teen years are maddening as boundaries are pushed and lines crossed. But I know the fight is just beginning for me. Motherhood is all about endurance. And the stakes begin to get really high the bigger the consequences get for behaviors.

I have known so many moms who have loved when it hurt. Who have set boundaries and consequences with a stern face even when it drove them to weep in the quiet corner of their room. Because motherhood is about love. And love is not always about the easy choices.

So, today I celebrate mothers. My mother. My grand-mothers. My friends who are mothers, who wanted to be mothers, who love and miss their own mothers. I celebrate the perfectly imperfect state of motherhood. I celebrate its complexity. It’s silliness. It’s middle of the night throw up duties. It’s quiet moments of snuggling on the sofa and reading the same book for the hundredth time.

Being a mother is the best thing that ever happened to me. It taught me who I am. It taught me what I love. It taught me how far the breadth of my love could grow. And so, to my children, I say thank you. Not for the presents and super secret dance you’ve choreographed (oh, yes, I know about that! Mothers know everything!) but for being patient with me as I discover what it means to love you with the full strength of a mother’s heart. And for your continued love as I imperfectly navigate this privilege of being the guardian of your love.

Like so many times in my life, a single simple poetic phrase says everything I labor for hours to convey. Happy Mother’s Day, friends. May we all recognize the sacred duty we have been blessed with and accept the grace that we are given when we don’t always do it perfectly. And may we all give our children the world in the best way we know how and continue our song even in the midst of our tears.

I Ask My Mother To Sing

She begins, and my grandmother joins her.
Mother and daughter sing like young girls.
If my father were alive, he would play
his accordion and sway like a boat.

I’ve never been in Peking, or the Summer Palace,
nor stood on the great Stone Boat to watch
the rain begin on Kuen Ming Lake, the picnickers
running away in the grass.

But I love to hear it sung;
how the waterlilies fill with rain until
they overturn, spilling water into water,
then rock back, and fill with more,

Both women have begun to cry.
But neither stops her song. 

 

On bending, breaking, and the importance of rest.

“Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you can understand what He is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof and so on; you knew that those jobs needed doing and so you are not surprised. But presently He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make any sense. What on earth is He up to? The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of – throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were being made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself.”

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

I’ve mentioned before that there has been a quiet whisper in my life lately. One about change. And welcoming the future. And being open to plans I don’t have for my own self. This whisper has rolled over me in waves until it has become a roar too loud to ignore. A whisper, still, but the loudest kind. The kind only God can make happen. A well-timed message at church about the value of emotional and spiritual health, a drawing nearer and nearer to God by digging out the deepest corners of my insides, and then this quote. Oh, Lewis, how do you always say what my heart is already learning and make it so obvious what I have been avoiding? It’s like shining a mirror into the darkest parts inside and gently revealing what is lurking there.

For 37 (okay, almost 38) years I have been building my own house. I have the blueprints from my Creator, but I’ve been the one overseeing the building. The one with veto power. The one reprioritizing things. The one sinking the whole project from the start. I really am the bossiest home builder ever.

The last few years have been difficult. So difficult. I’ve had to face a mountain of anxiety, uncertainty, and upheaval. Things that others have seen and things that have been known only in the depths of my heart. It has, as Lewis so perfectly described it, hurt abominably. This “living house” as Lewis calls it, the one God is building here with me, is so different from the house I planned to have that it is unrecognizable. It has places I didn’t want to know. It has structures that have reached impossibly high and terrifyingly deep.

I’ve asked God in midnight pleadings why He hasn’t given me the living house I asked for. Why hasn’t He given me one like my neighbor? Why is mine not completed yet? Why must I endure constant construction? And now I know. Because the house I would build for myself would be fit only for my current needs. My immediate circumstances. Because, though I am loathe to admit it, I am an impossibly short-sighted creature. I am bogged down in the now. But, oh how I love that my living house is being built by the Creator of all things. The One who knows what is now and what is yet to come. Because He knows the storms ahead He is working to build a shelter that will survive. Because He knows the breadth of my life He is working to build a shelter than can hold all the love and community that I am blessed to be surrounded by.

I never realized how much building can feel like breaking. I wonder, does the tiny acorn feel the fracture and shattering so deeply when it sprouts? Does the grapevine feel the pain of each new shoot in the Spring? I imagine that this breaking and opening and growing is just a universal pain that we all feel and that if we are truly lucky it never ceases. Lord, let me see these moments as opportunity and not as tragedy. Let me see the house You are building for me and embrace the process.

Part of this journey means embracing a Sabbath for our family and making it a holy and important day around our home. Taking a moment to focus and center and be intentional in our life is something I so often feel is lacking. Growth and change is hard. And constant busyness and the hectic nature of modern life makes it even harder. So we will rest. I’m going to warn you, this will not be an easy process for me. If you know me in real life you will probably understand how hard it is for me not to make this into an event. My first instinct is to create a “Loving Family Sabbath” event on Facebook and invite all of our friends and neighbors to break bread and “rest” with them. I really am an expert at missing the point of these things! Thankfully, I have Thomas to balance me out and bring me back to reality. So, no Facebook events. No Evites. Just our little Friday night family ritual. We’ve practiced this on and off over the years and, like many things we start around here, it didn’t always stick. It’s too easy to get busy and schedule something “just this once.” Years ago we practiced this with the kids. Every Friday we made Challah bread and lit candles and practiced a real Shabbat. Four years later it is still something the kids remember as one of their favorite family traditions.  And I cannot for the life of me remember why we stopped. I am certain we meant to continue it. But, life happened. And the resting moments fell through the cracks. And so this Friday we will begin again. I’m not promising we will never miss a Sabbath. But I am saying it will be a priority. A Sabbath from work and from things we have to do.  A Sabbath to remember. And to keep holy.

This house of my soul has so much further to go before it is completed. But I am finally able to see growth amidst the demolition. There is an embrace of the process that I am coming around to. My soul has thirsted so long for the life giving water that allows it to grow and the drought is waning and seeds of new life are beginning to make their way to the surface. Painful sometimes, yes, but beautiful, too. And true beauty, I am learning, is about renewal and growth and learning to trust the One who creates all things.

 

3.6.2017

It’s Monday and not my favorite of days but the kids are at their hybrid school and Viola is napping (Hallelujah!) and I have a moment where the house is quiet. I figured I would take a second to step back into this blog space and reflect on the weekend and things that have been happening around the Loving house lately.

We spent our weekend filled with friendship and community and fellowship and I realized (for the millionth time) just how much it matters to me to create a strong sense of community for our family. Between sleepovers, dinners at home with friends, and date nights out with friends we really got to soak up the friendships we have created this weekend. A simple Saturday dinner with 2 other families meant a house full of 13 kids and lots of noise to drive the neighbors crazy, but it was such a welcome and beautiful chaos that I sat snuggled up on the floor with a sleepy toddler and realized how precious these moments are to us and how wonderful the memories being made will be for our children.

“There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.”  — Thomas Aquinas

Sunday meant church and worship and gathering again with those close to us who have share our faith but who also push us to expand our understanding of it and embrace the difficult spaces that sometimes come along with that. I feel a growing and a changing come along for me lately. A new chapter in my faith where I am learning more about who God is and who He has called us to be. As we explore Lent as a family and as a church we are being encouraged to really understand and embrace patience. If you know me in real life then you know patience is not my strength. I like to make things happen. Or make them not happen, as the case may sometimes be. In short, I am not good at idling. But, I am learning that God is not in a hurry. And so, it seems, I should start to recognize and embrace that. Most of the major mistakes and heartaches in my life come down to me trying to rush things. It absolutely never ends well. For Lent I decided to give up swearing. Which might seem like a silly shallow thing to give up. I don’t actually have a huge problem with “swear” words for lots of reasons but with a house full of kids I probably shouldn’t be doing it in the first place. You’re probably thinking there are better or more meaningful to give up, right? Except as I have experienced a week of mostly no swearing (I’m not perfect, y’all, but I am working on being better) I have realized how much those bits of profanity are evidence of a bigger picture. My impatience often is what leads to my frustration and eventual sailor-esque conversational habits. It’s a symptom of something bigger. And giving up on that immediate release of frustration has forced me to deal more with what is going on inside. Kind of amazing how something so minor can help you see a bigger picture in yourself.

So, yeah, patience. It’s a virtue I do not possess but one that I am working on. And I have this nasty feeling that even just putting that out there into the universe means I am going to get more than my share of patience testing this Lenten season but that’s okay. How else can I develop a skill other than by practice, right?

“Patience is the companion of wisdom.”   — Saint Augustine

Lest you think our weekend was all peace and friendship and worship there was another huge part of the weekend that our entirely family took part in. LAUNDRY. If you ever wondered where the world’s largest dirty clothes pile resides I can tell you with confidence that it lives in my house. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. So, yeah, don’t think for a moment our weekend wasn’t filled with the mundane wrangling of dirty clothes. It was and is and forever will be. Jesus & Laundry. The two constants in my life.

“Based on the amount of laundry in my house I am going to have to assume there are people living here that I haven’t met yet.” — Every Mother Everywhere

 

Weekend Window Shopping: 5 Things I’m Loving This Week

**This post contains affiliate links that provide me with ice cream money to bribe my kids. Thank you in advance for their good behavior.**

I’m spending the weekend furiously cleaning my house for friends to come over and trying (and failing) to catch up on laundry so what better way is there to procrastinate than online shopping? I’m pretty sure Amazon was one of the best things ever to happen to shopping. I’m obsessed. Even if I don’t actually always end up buying something I spend lots of time perusing and saving to wish lists that I then forward to my husband right around my birthday. Because, even good husbands need a little help in the present buying department sometimes.

So, I thought I’d do a wrap up of some of the coolest things I’ve found this week on Amazon.

  • 1. LED Word Clock – This clock is seriously the coolest. I’m dying to add it to our home office!

LED Word Clock

  •  2. Set of 5 Rose Gold Floral Spoons – I feel like the fact that there are five spoons in the set and five Loving kids in the family is a sign that I need to purchase these as soon as possible. Seriously.

rose gold dessert spoons

  • 3. Natural Himalayan Cooking Salt Block – My parents swear by these and I’ve been dying to try one. I’m thinking this needs to come join our kitchen so my foodie husband can cook up something yummy on it!

himalayan salt block

  • 4. T-Rex Taxidermy – I am all about taxidermy for some reason. I’ve begged my husband for a Jackalope for years to no avail. And I think this is just such a fun and unexpected piece. I have absolutely no idea where I would put it but given the chance I’m fairly certain I could find the perfect place.

Vegan Taxidermy T-Rex

  • 5. Manatea Tea Infuser – I gave one of these to my sister for Christmas and I nearly kept it because it was so adorable. I’ve been obsessed with it since. We have lots of tea drinkers in the house and I have a feeling a few of these would make rainy afternoon tea parties even more fun!Manatee Tea Infuser

A slow steady beat.

Life has been busy and good and hard and crazy and boring all at the same time. I think that is what is means to be a mom. Or maybe just what it means to be a human.

Either way, when I sit down to blog it seems like I have nothing to report and everything to report. My life is so busy in the seemingly mundane stuff (homeschool, cook, clean, appointments, repeat) and none of it feels very blog-worthy or exciting. And most days I’m dead tired by 8pm (though not tired enough to go to sleep until 2 am) and I get right up the next day and go about my business and focus on getting through the week.

But, as is typical every New Year, I feel myself being a bit introspective and evaluating what has worked and what hasn’t throughout our last trip around the sun. We’ve successfully sustained 5 kids for the last year so Yay to us for that. And we’ve paid the bills and had some creative time and fostered new friendships.  Our word for 2016 was CREATE. Our family chose that word together so we could focus on creating community, friendships, art, handcrafted goods, opportunities, new skill sets, and whatever else we felt lead to create. It was a good word. It was a good(ish) year. It could stand to be improved upon and I think 2017 is just the year to do it.

I don’t like New Year’s resolutions (or revolutions as Traveler calls them) but I do have some goals for this year. I’m feeling like CHANGE is the word for 2017. Some of the change will be self-directed (healthy lifestyle changes, creating emotional margin) and some will just be inevitable (moving to a new home and all that goes along with that).

One of my big goals is to get out of the “let’s just survive the moment” mentality that I get stuck in. I’m not gonna lie, 75% of my life is chaos that I am just trying to manage. I’m talking about kids, animals, therapies, doctors appointments, fingers stuck in car doors, spilling fake Halloween blood all over the leather seats in my new van kind of chaos. You know, standard stuff. And I just want to survive most days. But I get this sense that by forgetting to be present I am missing out on the really good stuff. The snuggling on the couch at 3:30 in the afternoon just because we can and the siblings making special breakfasts for each other because they’ve been spending their TV time binge watching Master Chef Jr. Those things are ordinary and quiet and good and special.  My biggest struggle is that in my rush to move forward I forget to keep still and see them.

I’m changing that this year. I’m going to change my habit of survival mode mentality. I’m going to be present and love the little things. I’m going to look for them. And I’m going to take a page out of my friend Katie’s book over at Mama The Reader and create a gratitude jar. A place to collect those moments to cherish for later.  A place to collect the good for our whole family. And a place to teach my kids to start looking for those moments early on in life.

We’re on the move a lot in the Loving family and we could stand to keep still for a bit. Ironically, in this year of change with a literal move looming in the Summer months I am vowing to keep a slow steady beat going in the pulse of our family. I am choosing to work toward a slower and happier pace in those moments when it really matters. This season of life is moving at a break-neck speed and I can’t do much about that. But I can work to cherish where it matters. And that is going to be my change for 2017.

 

(Also, this post started out as a simple photo dump of some of the moments from the last few months but then apparently my brain needed to unload as well. Here’s some random moments from the holidays that have been simple but also kind of lovely.)

Delaware trip and visit to DuPont.

Delaware trip and visit to DuPont.

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Visiting an Amish farmhouse in Lancaster.

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My Christmas Eve helper crashed out at the wrapping paper station.

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Lobster from Maine for Christmas dinner.

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“MINE!” (A.K.A. The perfect picture of what it means to live with a two-year-old.)

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Christmas card pic…didn’t get one? That’s because only half of them actually made it into the mail. Oops.

Favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

Halloween prep is in full swing around here. You guys, I LOVE Halloween. Our annual Halloween Bash is coming up in a couple of weeks so I am determined to get this place looking spooky. The food, though? That may be my favorite part. Here are a few of my favorite Halloween Party food ideas that I’m loving at the moment…

Five of my favorite Halloween Party food ideas!

  1. Slushy Punch Recipe – I love this! This is such a visually fun way to serve a Halloween punch to kiddos for a party.  I am totally adding this to our Halloween party this year.

Halloween party punch made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

2. Halloween Monster Apples – Fun and kid friendly apple treat for Halloween. I think my kids are going to love giving these a try! Not the scariest on the list of my favorite Halloween party food ideas but definitely one of the most colorful!

Halloween monster apple treat made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

3. Jack the Pumpkin King Pie – I wish I knew who to give credit to for this awesome idea but my Pinterest pin is a dead link. This is so cool! I think I may actually give this a try closer to Halloween with my favorite pot pie recipe for a spooky dinner treat!

Jack the Pumpkin King Pie made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

4. Avocado and Wasabi Deviled Eggs – WHAT?! A creepy deviled egg? Yes please. My kids love them some deviled eggs. Probably harkens back to the days when we were overrun with chickens in the backyard and more eggs than we knew what to do with. But, these look too fun not to try.

Halloween Appetizer Deviled Eggs made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

5. Creepy Brain Dip – This one is grown-up friendly, right? Classy-ish? I mean, as far as Halloween appetizers go it seems to be a good option. And I am always looking for an excuse to break out the $10 brain jello mold that I never seem to use. (Am I the only one who hates to make Jell-O? Ugh.)

Halloween appetizer cheese dip brains made the list of my favorite Halloween Party Food Ideas

Looking for more fun Halloween ideas? Check out my Pinterest board full of Halloween inspiration!

 

Clean Start: A FREE eBook

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Our family has been pursuing a more natural lifestyle for several years now. (Remember my chicken years? Oh, how I loved those!) Part of the process has been changing our food sources to more natural, local, and organic ones. We’ve changed our spending habits to be consume and waste less. We’ve tried to green up every area of our home from replacing plastic with glass to changing our cleaning products to more natural ones without toxic chemicals.

And, if you’ve followed me for more than, oh, I don’t know, FIVE MINUTES you know I’m fully in love with essential oils and what they have done for our family.

I’ve mentioned before that it took me a couple years to work up the courage to fully get started on essential oils in our family. We dabbled here and there but I just lacked the courage to dive right in. When I finally did start integrating them into our daily life I realized how easy it is and how much I had wished we had started using them sooner.

I am such a huge believer in what they have done for our family that I wanted to make things easier for others to get started so I put together a simple eBook to share some tips on getting started. Inside you will find recipes for diffusers, health & beauty products, and roller bottles that  all of your kids can help make and use. This is truly a fun and exciting journey for the health and wellness of your family and I am super excited to share it with you!

Check out the eBook here! I hope you enjoy it!

My top 5 homeschool hacks.

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I’m not a great homeschooler. Really. When I imagined homeschooling I pictured my family sitting on blankets in a field on a prairie reading Anne of Green Gables and eating homemade bread and jam while we absorbed the beauty of the knowledge in the stack of books we had brought with us.

Okay, so I am a bit of a romantic. Also, possibly delusional. Whatever.

The truth is in this particular stage of life homeschooling looks a lot more like us scrambling to find sharpened pencils and desperately trying to get as much school done as we can while a very very very busy toddler takes a nap. It’s not generally pretty. But we get it done. Mostly thanks to a few things that work for us. They aren’t necessarily revolutionary but they work for us.

  1. Online free curriculum – We use a lot of online tools in our homeschool. Kahn Academy is a fantastic resource for math of all grade levels and we love using it. Starfall has been a staple for the little kids for as long as we’ve been homeschooling and it helps to entertain them and make them feel a part of school when they are too little to do much on their own. Homeschool curriculum is not cheap and any freebies we can find help take the financial burden off of the process. Sites like Easy Peasy All-in-One Homeschool are also an excellent source of 100% free homeschool curriculum. This particular site breaks everything down in days using free links to web content that allows the student to be self-directed. We love it as a supplement to the other things we do but many families use it for their entire school curriculum.
  2. Single focus days – We’ve done this during different seasons of homeschooling and it is still one of my favorite ways to homeschool. Basically we just assign a subject to each day and focus solely on activities that surround that. For example, Monday = Bible, Tuesday = Science, Wednesday = Literature, Thursday = History, Friday = catch up on all the things that didn’t get completed on previous days. When we were doing this we would do math each day just to try and keep things consistently moving in that subject since it is our least favorite/weakest subject. The beauty of this method is that it is kind of like unit studies in that each subject really covers composition, spelling, reading, critical thinking, handwriting, etc. The kids think they are doing less work (always a win in this house!) but really they are doing the same amount of practice in all of these areas it just feels less noticeable since each day they are working on new subject matter.
  3. Ted Ed videos – Do you ever have one of those homeschooling days where everything goes wrong and you need to clean oatmeal out of the carpet and somehow throw food in the slow cooker before you get everyone to ballet/boy scouts/whatever activity you foolishly agreed to participate in and then on top of that you have the pressure of oh, you know, EDUCATING your child? Me either. But if I did have multiple days a month like that then I would surely use Ted Ed to help fill in the gaps when I need to fill those sweet little brains with info and run a household. All kidding aside, Ted Ed is a great way to learn things that don’t fit into traditional homeschool curriculums. They’ve learned about how the band-aid was invented, the paradox of value, and whether spotty fruits and vegetables are safe to eat. I know, I know, not exactly Common Core aligned stuff here but what I love is that it fuels a love of learning. Each lesson includes a video, a quiz, an opportunity to dig deeper into the subject, and a format in which to discuss it. The world is a big place and by learning about some of the more random parts of it my kids have discovered a love of knowledge that I think can sometimes be tricky to impart when you’re hammering them with tests and quizzes.
  4. Outsourcing – We utilize a homeschool hybrid once a week as well as a once-a-month co-op class in teaching the kids. Maybe you think it’s a cheater’s way to homeschool. Maybe it is. The thing is I find outsourcing a great way to help the kids learn from others without giving up my ability to help meet their individual educational needs. Once a week the kids spend 3.5 hours at an arts-based hybrid learning things that I would never have thought to incorporate into our schooling. Kai is working with other students on a student film. Ivy is learning Calligraphy. Each of them is working in a group with friends and enjoying being a part of a classroom experience one day a week. Then once a month the homeschool group we are a part of holds an enrichment day that allows the kids to learn about different subjects each month. One month the kids participated in a Shakespearean drama and had a feast to go along with it. They’ve built volcanoes and met geologists and enjoyed learning about cultures from people who are experts in a way I will never be. Each time they come home filled with information and enthusiasm about a subject they hadn’t previously interacted with and it fuels their desire to pursue knowledge about it for the rest of the month.
  5. Year-round School – We officially start school every September but the truth is we try our very best to “school” the kids year round. The first year we did school we stopped at the end of summer and when we got back to school-time in the Fall getting the kids motivated to learn again was a nightmare. They enjoyed the summer and didn’t feel like diving back into school. The more I thought about it the more it bugged me that we were basically telling them they got to spend 3 months not learning and that they could stop pursuing the study of the world that we were trying to tell them was so important for the other 9 months of the year. The second year we tried not breaking for summer. We changed the pace of our lessons and did lots of unit studies with the kids. We explored different subjects and cultures and found ways to take unexpected field trips and just kept the learning going. Then by the time Fall rolled around we just jumped right back into “regular” school and no one complained. And we felt like we were reinforcing the idea that learning is a forever thing. Not something to take a break from. It’s been a win-win scenario for us.

So, there you have it. Five homeschooling hacks that are working for us! I would love to hear what works for you and yours when it comes to educating the kids whether it is homeschool, traditional school, unschooling or some combo of different styles. There is so much to be learned and shared with others on this journey and I love storing away great ideas for when we need to change things up!

Tutorial: How to make DIY all-natural cleaner. With a 7-year-old helper.

**This post contains affiliate links that provide me with ice cream money to bribe my kids. Thank you in advance for their good behavior.**

Traveler created a super cool cell phone tripod for me to record videos on and we decided to test it out on a FB live post. So, I thought I would post it here to share! Traveler was quite proud of himself.

For those who want to make a recipe like this, here’s what you need:

1.5 C Water

1/3 C White Vinegar

15-20 drops essential oil (we used Young Living Purification.)

Mix together in glass spray bottle. And enjoy!

Natural Lice Repellant Spray

**This post contains affiliate links that provide me with ice cream money to bribe my kids. Thank you in advance for their good behavior.**

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I’ve had some friends asking about this since they’re seeing these fun little critters crop up in their school and friend groups. I don’t want to jinx things and say we’ve never gotten lice but, well, despite several times of close exposure we haven’t.

Knocks wood and furiously sprays kids hair with this spray because I’ve just tempted the universe to send them my way!

Once after a play date (where every other kid there ended up with lice) we discovered we had been exposed and I made a tea tree oil and coconut oil hair treatment just in case and I totally credit tea tree (aka Melaleuca) oil for our ability to avoid. Now we’ve started making this spray to use on school days or other times when we might come into contact with creepy crawlies.

If you would like more info on essential oils and why we use them and love them check this page out!

DIY LICE REPELLANT

2-4 Ounces Distilled Water

5 drops Lavender Oil

5 drops Peppermint Oil

5 drops Rosemary Oil

5 drops Melaleuca Oil

4 ounce spray bottle

Add oils to bottle. Fill remainder with distilled water. Spritz on hair in mornings before school.

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