“Can I ask you some questions about homeschooling?”

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Playing Pandemic at the beginning of Covid-19 stay-at-home orders.

I’ve been contacted by a few people this past week that are considering homeschooling their children for a short season because of Covid-19. I thought I could share what we do in our home to help answer basic questions. This is geared for those that just aren’t sure what to do and are exploring their options. The schooling situation seems impossible for those families that have two full time working parents, especially those that are currently school teachers with young children or single parents. I am extremely sympathetic to those that feel stuck in their options or lack of options for their children.

I’ve been hearing various parents talking about creating pods of families to accomplish homeschooling for a temporary time period. I think the concept could be brilliant but would require a lot of parental cooperation. It could allow parents to still work and kids to be cared for. I’m not sure how all of that would look and I don’t really have an answer to the giant question of how does one safely educate children during a pandemic. However for those of you that are truly considering homeschooling for the next few months or years, here you go.

What kind of homeschooler are you? The parent has to be cautious with this quiz though because it reflects the parents desires and not necessarily the learning style that would best suit the child.  These are my results, which may show my biases in what I would choose for curriculum.

http://eclectic-homeschool.com/homeschool-philosophies-quiz/  

My Results:

Score for Charlotte Mason: 0
Score for Classical Education: 8
Score for Montessori Education: 3
Score for Project-Based Learning: 8
Score for Reggio-Inspired:6
Score for Thomas Jefferson Education: 3
Score for Traditional Education: -6
Score for Unit Studies Approach: 11
Score for Unschooling Approach: 12
Score for Waldorf Education: 8  

 

Another thing to consider is what kind of learner is your child.: https://www.weirdunsocializedhomeschoolers.com/how-to-homeschool-determine-your-childs/

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Umbrella Schools:
In Tennessee, we choose to use an umbrella school to report our grades and attendance. They do not provide us with a curriculum. but allow us to direct our homeschool in the way that we see fit for our children. We choose to use The Farm Satellite School for this purpose, but know others that use HomeLife Academy. You could also register with your local county as a homeschooler. I don’t have experience doing this, but that is another option.
Facebook Page for The Farm School: https://www.facebook.com/groups/TFSSCP/
Even though my results above show that I would lean more towards an unschooling approach, I view our schooling approach as eclectic.  We choose to use some formal curriculum for certain topics, have a more relaxed approach for others, utilize online resources and outsource to a drop-off tutorial for others.
Homeschooling isn’t going to look the same this year due to Covid-19, and many other homeschoolers feel the same way. Our weekdays last year involved being away from the home at least two days a week, with music lessons 30 minutes away and speech therapy once a week. Most of our activities will be done online in the upcoming semester and while it is nice not to drive, it is different for us.
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What about a homeschool co-op or tutorial?
A tutorial is a fee-for-service class. Most tutorials are a drop off where a teacher teaches your child a certain subject.
However co-ops and tutorials are having the same safety concerns during this pandemic. Some are planning hybrid schedules with in-person and online classes. Some are having alternative plans in case their state goes back to phase 1. Most are having to look into the same options that public schools are considering, masks, temperature checks, hand sanitizers, social distancing, etc. It won’t look the same this year for co-ops and tutorials. Some may even opt to not meet depending on what happens in the future.
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Our family’s way of homeschooling may not be the right way for your family. That’s okay. This is just to give anyone a base for the many questions that they are having.
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Mathematics: We use Math Mammoth. We’ve used it for the last six years and it has worked well for our three oldest children. It is geared for those that are in 1-7th grade. It is a pdf format and I found last year that printing out the whole grade worked the best for my kids. It made for a giant binder of math, but the kids were able to complete 2-3 pages per day and got through almost the whole curriculum.
We also use board games to teach math, like Yahtzee and Dragonwood. We’ve also used an app called DragonBox that is pretty awesome, although more expensive than I like to spend on an app. Teaches algebra in a whole new way that a young kid can grasp.
Other online resources for math would be Khan Academy.
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Language Arts: This year we are going back to Bravewriter for my son going into 3rd grade and daughter going into kindergarten.
We are going to start with My Side of the Mountain as a read aloud and purchase one of their single issue Arrows for grammar, copywork and literature based work. We will choose a few more throughout the year, but I’m starting with this one.
The facebook group associated with Bravewriter:
Bravewriter Discussion Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/BraveScopes/
My daughter (kindergarten)  will also use Reading Eggs: https://readingeggs.com/
My older two are taking writing/English classes from a local tutorial. They will be assigned various books to read with projects.
Nashville Middle School Secular Tutorial: https://www.webtutorialnashville.com/
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Science: This year the older two will be taking a General Science class (5th grader) and a Biology class (7th grade) from our local tutorial.
The younger two I plan to go back to our Magic School Science Experiments subscription, utilizing our Usborne Science Encyclopedia, Crash Course on Youtube, Steve Spangler videos, cooking science, and probably some other resources. Here is a listing of secular homeschool science options to look into: https://homeschoolgameschool.com/giant-list-of-free-secular-homeschool-science-curriculum/
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History: I’m still brainstorming what we will use this year, but I have The Story of the World books, A Little History of the World, The Greatest Stories Never Told, Lies my Teacher Told Me, History of the World, Don’t Know Much About History, A Child’s History of the World, The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History, Maus, Maus II,  and this epic list of social justice books: https://socialjusticebooks.org/booklists/?fbclid=IwAR2dslQmO8Xbglos5Du7eeU1Db6FDHfCITXZA4sLD8mimb_sFLJlavgA38Q.
We also love the YouTube videos, OverSimplified: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNIuvl7V8zACPpTmmNIqP2A
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Music: Violin lessons through Vanderbilt Blair School of Music. For my kindergartner and 3rd grader we will keep working on playing around with the ukeleles, mandolins and electric keyboard.
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Handwriting:
We’ve used Handwriting without Tears and I’m looking into Zaner-Bloser. I like to have the kids do one or two pages a day, and it helps me to have one of them doing this while I help the other on a different topic.
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Foreign Language: 
My kids all want to learn a different language this year, the oldest Latin, the 2nd oldest Spanish, the 3rd oldest, Japanese and the youngest says she doesn’t want to learn any other language at the moment.
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Coding:
My kids love video games and they enjoy creating some very basic stuff on Code.org.
We might even consider some classes from GameEdAcademy. We’ve done a Minecraft class with them a few years ago. http://gamedacademy.com/
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Art:
We will probably just opt to do various crafts this year. The kids have taken oil painting classes in years past and general art classes.
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Nature Studies: 
We have all of these books but I haven’t read them with my youngest two. We will probably re-introduce the Herb Fairy books to them.
Local Library Resources:
Make sure to check out your local libraries. We pay to be a part of the Nashville, Davidson County library system since we are out of county. They are a fantastic resource and they even have these awesome curriculum kits you can check out for 6 weeks at a time.
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If you choose to home school, remember that you don’t have to recreate public school at home. Public school does a great job at educating a larger group of kids at one time. Home school can be more specialized for each individual kid. In Tennessee, the requirements are 180 days of school logged (at minimum) at 4 hours in each day. Now, I don’t meticulously monitor the number of minutes my kid logs each day. We typically have a set amount of work planned and if they get it done before that four hour time slot, then great. If not, then we have the option to take a break and come back to it the next day or even the next week.
Kids learn all of the time and you really have the ability to log 365 days of school if you want to make it easier on yourself. For myself, we do take a real break in the summer and a decent time off in the winter. We often will start our official school work slightly earlier than our public school friends because it is hot outside in July and August in Tennessee and we would rather enjoy more freedom to be outside in the fall. I often feel burnt out by mid-November, so having the flexibility in our school schedule is really nice.
I’ve homeschooled my children for the last seven years. I’m definitely not an expert. I have my homeschooling mentors that I will seek out when I’m struggling. Know that if you choose to home school, there will probably be a moment or many moments where you feel like you’re failing your kids in a huge way. That is completely normal and it will pass.  There will be good days, struggle bus days and days where you sit there in total awe that your kid figured something out that they’ve been struggling with for a while. You get to see the learning process up close and you will gain the utmost respect for our public school teachers, managing different learning styles and personalities all with smiles on their faces.
I hope this helps anyone that isn’t sure what to do during our current pandemic situation.  Reach out to your homeschooling friends, and know that we all have our own way of doing it. Each person may be able to give you encouragement, ideas and inspiration.

To post or to keep in my head

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It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything for this blog. It originally was created to record things about my life and my then one year old. The one year old turned ten last week. Lately, I’ve been trying to decide how much to share with the world. Online, I’ve pulled back significantly on my presence. Some due to stress, some because I’m not sure I want everyone knowing all about me before I share it face to face.

This past year has been a pretty good year, although sometimes trying. My husband’s work up until the last week or so, had him traveling 50-60% of the time. Home renovations have only really progressed due to outsourcing the work. Fun projects have included crawl space encapsulation, new gutters and siding and the driveway will be poured once it stops raining and the ground dries a bit more.

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With my kids, my oldest turned 10 and he is turning into a funny young man. His ability to understand sarcasm is well seated, which means that we can have some good laughter. He devours audiobooks. He can read, but prefers to hear the books read aloud to him, so that means this year he has probably listened to 30 or more full length books via Playaways (Nashville Library membership was so worth it), Audible, Overdrive, cd audiobooks and me reading aloud to him.

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He was taking drum lessons until this past month. He had decided that he would rather take pottery lessons at the local studio than taking lessons. He played drums and a few weeks of piano for over a year. For our birthday last week I took him camping at Mammoth Cave. We had a blast and our introverted selves very much enjoyed the camping in the cold and zip lining

IMG_8658My second oldest is blossoming into an enthusiastic fiddle/violin player. The music is really clicking in his head and it is fun to learn along side him. I can now add fiddle to my list of instruments that I can play a bit. He is a rule follower and likes to police others. His sense of justice is strong and is always trying his best to make things fair between him and his siblings. This is adorable and sometimes frustrating. He is my social butterfly and would have sleepovers at his friend’s house every weekend if we let him. He is also very tender-hearted and the travel from my husband’s work started to get to him in recent months.

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My third oldest is a bit of a spitfire. I’m still learning his passions. He loves board games and would play Go Fish, Mastermind and other games endlessly if I said yes. When he gets angry, he likes to overturn furniture, storm off to his room and rage alone. However, he also now prefers to come snuggle in our king size bed next to baby sister. He has the sweetest smile and giggle and I’m very curious to see how he transforms from his kindergarten self to older little boy.

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Our youngest is the only girl and she cracks us up on a daily basis. She is a lover of dinosaurs like kid number three, is very insistent on getting to watch whatever show she is interested in at the moment (currently Sophia the First and Dino Dana.) She loves all things pink right now and has already been asking for pink Christmas presents. It makes me laugh to think that I have a kid that absolutely adores pink. When we first had a girl, I swore that she wouldn’t be dressed in pink. Now…she wears lots of pink, but also other colors in the rainbow.

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We added a puppy to our family a few months ago. Her name is Uma Phoenix and she is a goldendoodle. She has been a good addition to our family, but I do hope our home renovations include a fence soon. Although, getting to go outside more frequently to let her go to the bathroom has actually been a plus. I just would like her to be able to play without the leash more. The kids love her and I’ve been surprised by how much my older two have helped by taking her out to pee, cleaning up any accidents and trying to prevent her from nipping the younger two. Uma went for her four-month check up yesterday and weighed in at 18.9 lbs.

You may have noticed that I’ve spoken very little about myself  so far. Right now, I’m in a new phase of life. We are done having more children. I’m no longer going to be teaching Hypnobabies (I will have the option in the future to go back, but right now, I think that passion is going away). My identity is struggling just a bit to be “just a homeschooling mom.” There isn’t anything wrong with having only that, but for a long time I’ve felt like I always had something else to say I am.

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I keep listening to podcasts and one that I’ve been loving is “How I Built This With Guy Raz,” on NPR. I know that one day I will probably start my own business, but I don’t know what. I probably should set some goals, but I also want to be passionate about whatever I’m doing, and right now my passions are somewhat stagnant. I’m a mom. I sometimes sew. I sometimes weight lift. I rarely bike ride lately. I get to go for walks by myself every few weeks. I knit at church. I do small house projects occasionally. I play instruments but can rarely play in a group setting due to childcare issues (I could pursue babysitters, I just hate having to pay someone to watch my kids for a hobby.)

If I’m honest with myself, whatever I do, I will probably just need to budget childcare into the equation so that I can do what I need to do uninterrupted. I know I can’t use my kids as an excuse to not do something. Perhaps some of the loss of identity is that I’m trying to keep up with everyone else that has a side gig. I have no side gigs at the moment. I’m not part of an MLM, I don’t sell things on social networks, I don’t make things for purchase, I don’t work for someone else and I get paid nothing but hugs and kisses. Hugs and kisses are great, but helping to financially contribute to the family is great too.

Since I’m pretty much just rambling at this point, I will keep going. Friendships have been harder this year. I know that I’m a contributing factor as to why things can be harder. I’m can be bold, often worry about things that don’t pertain to me and at times I give my opinion when perhaps it isn’t necessary or desired. I’ve pulled back from a lot of relationships this year due to various reasons that I won’t lay out here. This has made this year a little lonelier even though I’m surrounded by people all of the time, people I helped to create. I miss many of my friends that live far away, the relationships are easier, but perhaps they are easy because they are far away. So, in turn, I’ve tried to surround myself with books, reading more this year than in years past. I laugh in my head that I’m reverting back to my 12-year-old self and my friends Helena and Chad need to come stand outside my door and beg me to come play outside instead of hiding, reading continuously.  “I like you perfectly fine.” (Inside joke if either of them read this.)

I wasn’t sure about sharing anything today, but feel a little better typing it all out. I figure I need to set some kind of future plan down on paper, but then of course instead of just writing it down, I keep thinking that I need some fancy journal to write my goals in…which led me on a rabbit trail last night on making my own leather journals. No, I didn’t purchase leather journal making kits. Although, it does sound like a fun craft. If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for reading. I will probably continue to struggle in my identity for a while. I know that is okay as most moms do this around this point in parenthood. I just know I can’t stay here.

Sure and steady

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I’ve enjoyed lifting weights since college. Heading to the gym was a good escape from the rigors of calculus and engineering classes.

However I haven’t been a member of a brick and mortar gym in ages. This summer we joined the YMCA. With my husband’s travel schedule I couldn’t consistently go on solo walks like I enjoy after spending all day with the kids. I could lift weights at home and still do sometimes, but workouts get interrupted easily with four kids. So in a fit of frustration with my oldest son, I signed us up. I rationalized the expense, figuring the amount I would have to pay in childcare could easily be quadrupled if I paid someone at my home. Plus coordinating the childcare seemed like a headache.

So back in June, me and the kids started going. I made it one solid week of going and then the kids got sick. I missed the next week and was grumbling and pissed off that I had wasted funds and I wasn’t utilizing the membership. Kids got better and I started back, lifting what I felt like and taking yoga or other fitness classes.

I was glad the kids were enjoying the childcare and I was getting some much needed time to tend to my own fitness goals. I’ve always wanted to be able to do a pull-up. And I enjoy watching people do Olympic lifts. I felt like I needed a lifting plan and while I know my talented husband could have probably drafted me one, I did my own searching.

A friend suggested some apps, one called Charley Mike. I loaded it on my phone and read through the workouts. The lady kind of freaked me out. I wasn’t at all to that level of lifting so I kept on searching. On Amazon I found a few books but one was called “The New Rules of Lifting for Women.” I liked the reviews so I decided to get it. I ordered it at the beginning of August. I read through the book and liked the lifting plan. Didn’t care for the nutrition plan but decided I would follow the lifting and do my best to eat enough protein and vegetables.

My first workout using NROL for women, my friend Amy joined me. It was quite ridiculous watching us…well me do those first deadlifts. Amy was able to join me on a few workouts until  mid-August hit and she started back to school.

I’ve managed to get three workouts in nearly every week, only missing the day after Thanksgiving and one day in New York City. I’m almost done with stage five of the book, the whole plan has seven stages that go for about six months.

My lifting ability has increased, I’ve discovered some big imbalances in my body, and I gaining a lot more strength. What’s been fun is I took my measurements for making clothes at the beginning of all of this and two more times since. It has helped me see my body reshape itself in certain areas. My glutes/hamstrings tend to be a weaker part of my body. I started having issues in my right hip only about a month into lifting. Lunges were so hard for me to do on my right side. With some slow strength training, chiropractic care and only using my own body weight, I can now do lunges without hurting.

About three weeks ago, I started to feel like my clothes were fitting differently, but not because I’ve dropped any weight. In fact, my weight has stayed right around the same these past few months. However, as I’ve done more squats, lunges and deadlifts, my legs have gotten a little bit bigger. I didn’t realize by how much until I compared measurements. Check out the image below to see the number differences.

This post is partially just for my recording what I’ve been doing, and partially because my friend Vanessa has been a huge inspiration for me. I’ve always thought that well defined arms on a man or a woman is extremely attractive. Vanessa has been working her butt off at the gym for a few years now, and I’ve had arm envy for the past year because of her. I have a few other friends that are climbers, Adele and Susan and they too impress me with their agility and strength. By them sharing themselves through social media, they all have been encouragers for me, even though we don’t live in the same city. So here are a few photos to show just a bit of progress. I know that it may take me years to get to the level of strength I want, but each week there are slight gains. So thanks to my friends that have encouraged me.


Summer 2016 (maybe June/July)

Measurements over the past 5.5 months.

Me trying to make it look like I have some muscles.:) They’re there…

Fixed the Speedometer and my mental health today

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I’ve been in a crummy mood. Missing my husband as his job requires him to travel a lot for work. My frustrations have been made more so by my inability to calmly deal with my four kids normal antics. 

Last week we were supposed to visit friends in Chattanooga but only made it half way due to what we think was an overheated transmission in our van. My husband was a few states away so he helped via telephone as much as he could. A college friend has parents that lived close to our breakdown and they came and saved the day by coming and help me diagnosis the issue and then following me almost all the way home. That trip has forced us to realize that our Honda Odyssey may be nearing its time with our family at 213,000 miles. It is driving okay this week but I’m being cautious with my speed. 

We have another vehicle, a GMC Envoy. We bought it shortly after me starting at TVA. We bought it with a loan and we paid it off years ago. It has been our backup vehicle for a few years but it too has gotten up there in mileage (190k). In the desire to get a new vehicle, we want to sell this to help fund a new family car but has had some issues with the instrument cluster for a few years. The speedometer hasn’t worked since probably 2011, some of the other gauges started to go in the last year or two but the final thing to make me do something about it was the odometer light going out. Pretty hard to sell a vehicle when no one can see how many miles are on the car.

So I looked online and saw that as auto shop would charge in the $400-500 range to repair the instrument cluster. I found some other places that would repair it for $99 if you ship the instrument cluster to them. I thought that was pretty reasonable, so this weekend I removed the instrument panel. I will say that my husband helped by disconnecting the battery as I was afraid of shocking myself.  

I removed the panel easily. However, I did neglect to roll up the windows before disconnecting the battery. Luckily my husband remedied that a short while later. That evening I found a diy video on repairing the instrument panel. A pretty simple repair of the stepper motors and some basic soldering knowledge and we could do it ourselves with a kit from Amazon. My husband seemed confident that either one of us could fix it so I figured for a $30 kit it was worth a try. The odometer fix involved checking the soldering joints and possibly replacing some resistors. 

The kit arrived yesterday. Yesterday was a hard day. We had homeschool coop the day before and the kids were still worn out. Liam had a drum lesson and the other kids were just getting on my nerves. I was still missing my husband and only got to talk to him for a couple of minutes. My mental state this morning wasn’t in a good place. We got through school work and Helena was refusing to nap. I decided to tackle the instrument panel knowing it might not go well. 

I had to take a break after I opened the panel up as Helena was cranky. I got her to sleep and turned on video games for the kids and got started. 

My engineering degree finally became useful today! I figured out how to use the desoldering sucker and got to work removing the solder from the stepper motors. There was some trial and error but I did it. I replaced all the motors and decided to do the LED lights too. I couldn’t find any issues with the odometer connections. 

I put the instrument panel in place and needed to reconnect the battery. Honestly, I had the neighbor come help me. Apparently I have a fear of getting shocked. He came over and did reconnected the battery for me and then I felt ridiculous for my fear. Turned the car on, success!! The instrument gauges worked. I fist bumped the neighbor, extremely joyful at this $30 repair.

I had to close the door and saw that the odometer is working again. Took baby girl for a test drive down the street and back and the speedometer works too!

I needed a feeling of success today. 

Here are some photos of the process.

I don’t do Blood

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The boys were happily playing outside tonight. I was on the computer and I hear screaming. I don’t move right away but the screaming is getting louder so I run towards the back door.

Nick is screaming and has blood pouring out of his face. 

***Back history. I don’t do blood. Wisdom teeth out, loopy, I see bloody gauze in my mouth at age fifteen, I start screaming, getting nauseous. Donating blood, both times I did it, I get white as a ghost, my skin starts sweating, I almost pass out. ***

Nick with blood pouring out of his face. I actually stay calm talking to him. I tried to figure out where the blood is coming from, his mouth and nose are covered. I escort him to the bathroom and use the nice black towel and hold it on his face as I try to take deep breaths and keep talking to him. But, the waves of nausea start to roll over me.

I hand him a wad of toilet paper and ask him to hold it to his nose. I yell for Liam, but I guess he went back outside. I’m trying really hard to tell my brain that it is just blood, but I’m starting to sweat. Nick keeps trying to show me all of the blood in the tissue. Each time he does my body has another wave of nausea. I crawl/walk to go get an ice pack to put on his Nick to stop the bleeding. While in the kitchen, I notice that Helena is covered in blue latex wall paint. I grab the paint can that I left on the floor and put it up higher. Helena looks like she belongs in the movie Braveheart. I get the ice pack to him but then know I need another adult. 

I’m pretty sure it is his nose, but I’m not sure if he broke it. I can’t even look at him now and call my mom. No answer. I call my stepmom. No answer. I see my reflection in the mirror. Ghost white. Nick is showing me another wad of bloody toilet paper. I run to the other bathroom and grab him another roll of toilet paper and shove a wad in his hand, avoiding all eye contact with the blood fill tissue. I call Damon on FaceTime as I know he is at a business dinner. No answer. Then I get this…


He calls me on FaceTime but the horribly ridiculous part of this now is I’m laying as flat as possible in the hallway next the bathroom. My poor six year old is holding it together pretty well and I’m laying on the floor holding the phone. My stomach is churning and I can tell that the blood is leaving my own face. Next to the bathroom are two rolled up sleeping bags. I cradle one in my arms and my 1.5 year old daughter flops onto the other one as I try to tell my husband what is happening. 

Luckily Liam comes in and takes the phone to Nick. However he holds the phone so close to Damon that he can’t see Nick. I hear the word blood like fifty times and I slink away to my bedroom to momentarily try and hide from the word blood. He talks Nick through what he needs to do and I crawl back and get the phone and tell him I have to get another adult here. 

Luckily, two more calls to my mom, she answers and I tell her what’s going on. She came over and I once again went back in to Nick. Damon told Nick to lean over and to keep blowing his nose. I sit on the edge of the bathtub and hold the ice pack again on Nick’s neck. He keeps blowing his nose despite me telling him that I think the bleeding has stopped. The sound of it made me nauseous again. I finally put on a YouTube video of Lost Boy and we sang until my mom got there. 

So, lesson learned…I don’t do blood very well at all. Thank goodness for all the medical professionals out there that can. I can deal with other bodily fluids, but blood is not in my skill set. 

For those that made it this far, you might be wondering how Nick hurt himself. He fell face first from our jungle gym. He was trying to do some kind of flip and misjudged the landing. He is okay and went to bed happy. No bruising, just a bad bloody nose. If you’re the praying type, do say a quick prayer for him tonight that he will be okay through the night.

The Big 4

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Today Grant turned four. We had a day filled with donuts, and playing outside. We headed to Nuvo Donuts for breakfast. Grant had a Captain Crunch donut.


We had a low key party, which included a friend with her three boys and my mom and step-dad. Grant is into dinosaurs right now. The other day he explained how he wanted his cake to look. He described one that had a volcano and dinosaurs on it. It took me five minutes to get that he wanted an Anklyosaurus birthday cake. Sadly, I didn’t even try to make an Anklyosaurus cake, but I did make a sugar filled cake with a volcano made out of donuts. Grant was very insistent on having four donuts on the cake.

 While assembling the cake, I ate one of the sour cream donuts. I figured he wouldn’t know it only had three versus four. It was good! 


While Damon ran with Grant at the track, we created a Present Scavenger Hunt. Liam and Nick enjoyed planning it but it was a bit frustrating keeping them quiet so that Grant could figure it out. 


The evening ended with presents and a piñata. Helena was adorable as she hit away at the piñata. 

Tree frog

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This story is too funny not to share. 

We were about to load ourselves back into the car to head home from my Granny’s in Paris, TN. Liam shouted that he had found a frog. 

It was nestled into the driver’s side door handle of our gray van. I yelled for all the kids and my Granny to come look at it. We were ohhhing and ahhhing over the small frog. Each kid trying to gently touch it. I picked the pale green frog up, his body feeling slightly sticky and a lot squishier than the frog I held last week in Florida. Grant asked if he was dead. He wasn’t, just holding tightly onto my finger. Everyone was taking turns touching his back. 

He was sitting on my left palm, face pointed towards the tips of my fingers. I was talking to my grandmother when I looked down and see the frog’s butt raise up. Clear liquid shoots straight back towards me. Liquid goes all over my hand and sprays my shirt. I reactively throw the frog into the air. He flies up, lands on Grant’s shirt and starts climbing his neck. Grant begins giggling as the frog tickles him.

We all start rolling in laughter. My Granny laughing and saying that I’m going to get warts now because he peed on me. I lift the frog off of Grant and place him in the nearest tree. I immediately went inside to wash my hands and shirt of the frog pee. I so wish we had a video of the whole incident. So much laughter. Here is a picture of the little guy.

Enough.

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My mind has been swirling with thoughts from yesterday’s post. The post was not inspired by one incident, but many, many interactions with women. I don’t hear the same comments from men on their bodies.

Can you imagine these comments coming from a man? Would you say these things to describe another woman, or only yourself?

“I hate the way these pants make my butt look.”

“Ugh, I hate my face.”

“I can’t wear that, it makes me look fat.”

“Oh, look at that picture, why don’t I look like that now.”

“No, don’t look at the scale.”

“I hate my skin.”

“I hate my face.”

“My nose is too big.”

“My things are too big.”

“My feet are ugly.”

“My nose is crooked.”

“My teeth are too yellow.”

“I can’t wear a two piece, my stretch marks are horrible.”

“My hair is a wreck.”

“Look at my awful arms, they jiggle too much.”

“My mid-section looks like a can of dough about to burst.”

“I can only wear this if I wear an undergarment to hide my rolls.”

Enough!

Ladies. My body is not supermodel quality. Heck, supermodel’s bodies are not supermodel quality. We live in an airbrushed, filtered world where everyone alters their images. Yesterday’s picture was not my favorite when I first saw it. The angle, the lighting…at first, I wanted to delete it too. Then I looked at it. I saw my own smile. It is my true smile. I saw the creases around my eyes, my laugh lines. I saw my toothy and crooked, gummy grin and I know in that moment I was happy. My “image” is not perfect, whatever perfect means. I know that if I stay in the negative head space, repeating whatever negative self-talk that might be there, it won’t lift me up.

When I am around other women, I hear them negatively talk about their bodies. It happens in nearly every day conversation. They grab the extra skin around their middle, and shake it with disdain. They struggle with breasts that have migrated to their middles. Many, many years ago, they were four to five inches higher, but pregnancy, gravity, life has caused them to settle into a new and different shape. They pull at their skin on their face and stretch it back to reveal someone, something…

Women are unhappy. Living in a skin that they so badly want to change. I get the desire for change.  I want to be stronger. I want to be healthier. I want to live a long time. And none of those things have to do with being a specific image. The self-loathing and hate that spews from women’s mouths is sad and discouraging. Why have so many chosen to hate parts of themselves? What happened in your past to cause you the hurt? I pray that anyone that needs it, realizes that a key to “beauty,” is changing their perception about themselves. Confidence=beauty in my mind. A woman that speaks positively about herself, about her intelligence, about her body is beautiful.

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Dear beautiful.

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Dear beautiful,

I wish you could see yourself the way I see you.

The twinkle in your eye.

The glow of  your radiating skin.

The gentle smile.

Your goofy grin.

The creases around your eyes that show you have filled your life with laughter.

Your intelligence radiates from every part of your being.

Your body has nurtured another being.

Your curves encapsulate a soul worth loving.

Your outward body is only a small part of you.

Perhaps, you can’t see the things I see.

The shimmer in  your hair, the easy way it frames your face.

Your hands are strong, creased, warm.

Your middle is your middle.

It doesn’t need refining.

It isn’t too big or too small, it is just you.

Please love yourself, your shape, your unique and simple beauty.

Tell yourself that you are beautiful.

Repeat it everyday.

Be confident.

You’re captivating. Amazing.

I wish you could see yourself, with love, with compassion, with acceptance.

Love,

Your friend.

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Helena’s First Birthday Pictures

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Today was a pretty easy first birthday celebration for our baby girl. I decided to make a chalkboard birthday sign for Helena with my prayer board. It turned out really well and because I had that, I needed to do an impromptu photo shoot. I invited my friend to join us since it is close to her house. Kids got to play in the beautiful sunshine, I got to snap a few photos and was able to chat with an adult (who made us cookies that then had to make an appearance in the photo shoot).

The day ended with family coming over to the house for homemade carrot cake (that was delicious) and it was fun seeing the cousins all play. The evening finished by finding a bunch of family photos, even finding some of friends and texting them with the photo (Emily and Chad…you guys are still smokin’).

So here was a low key day in pictures.

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