Slow Your Roll, Mom

I totally know the feeling of “OMG we need to start NOW!” when you decide to homeschool. Even if your kid is still in diapers. Trust me, I’ve been there. I tried to “school” our oldest when she was a tot and it lasted all of a week. Kids just need to play. Play is learning.

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Ask any mom of older children, any teacher, any childhood “professional”, or check out all the science to back it up – play is learning. Kids need to play.

Our youngest (almost 2) is advanced, but I’m not starting school with her any time soon. I don’t care how much she’s “a sponge” or “craves more”. She’s adding massive amounts of words to her vocabulary every day and conversing well beyond her age. Should I start some letter-a-day program? Pfft. No.

We’re currently potty training. She runs around naked all day (okay, so she usually has shoes on because she loves shoes) and occasionally pees on herself. My expectations right now include her making in to the potty half the time. So far, she’s exceeding those expectations. Go lil sis!

P.S. The ONLY concern I have right now is that she really likes being naked.

So what brought about this topic tonight? Social media of course.

I was skimming through a very popular homeschool mom Facebook group when I stopped on a post by the mother of a two year old. She has mapped out lesson plans with the entire day structured around subjects like “indoor/outdoor gross motor skill”, “practical life activity”, and if you look under “music”, you’ll find piano lessons. There are also daily books, sign language, letters, numbers, and colored dictated for the week.

The majority of replies were telling her to just let the kid play, read to her… ya know, let her be two and just be an attentive mom. She didn’t seem very receptive of that advice. A few were mystified by her post, a few others cheered her on. The later also had very small children who did “school”. Like this mom…

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(You can guess who “liked” that.)

Apparently being a mom is so rare nowadays that simply raising a child is “school”!

Have small children? Want them to be smart and super awesome learners? LET THEM PLAY.

I’m done.

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The Great Big Girl Bed Search

In yet another display of how different siblings can be, the other night we discovered little sis can climb out of her crib. Big sis never made an attempt and wasn’t moved to a toddler bed until she was potty trained. Every kid is in deed different!

Big sis has been begging for bunk beds and while I’m a fan of the idea for sake of space, we’re highly concerned about lil sis practicing her long dive.

Enter, the Ikea KURA loft bed. It has the same dimensions as big sis’ current bed (also Ikea ’cause that’s how we roll), not as tall as a traditional bunk bed, and comes in at a reasonable $209.kura-reversible-bed-white__0179751_PE331953_S4I’m a huge fan of Ikea hacking, so it’s safe to assume that I landed on Pinterest pretty quick. The general idea is to throw a mattress in the loft space creating a bunk bed that isn’t 244 feet in the air making it toddler-friendly. From there it’s up to your imagination. Like most with multiple children, functionality and space-conscious design is key. Being frugal, cost is also a major factor. The KURA fits the bill.

So while I’m collecting ideas to make our own transition from crib and twin bed to a one-size-fits-all bunk bed, let’s check out some super cute ways to “hack” an Ikea KURA loft bed…

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Found on decoracion.facilisimo.comFound on decoracion.facilisimo.com

51b9464bfb04d62dcf000f47._w.540_s.fit_Found on apartmenttherapy.com

17df8160cbb9998f3a9259cda6aa0803Found on mommo-design.blogspot.de

8b431cd3152267ca2da72b236d18e83dFound on apartmenttherapy.com

a3a3f2ec347c32d1126569761667e8a0Found on ashleyrachelle.com

15d1e6a2522b5998ec0f266780d0ee13Found on apartmenttherapy.com

4bfc8986dab49a4b43095bdb495a78fbFound on ikeahackers.net

Hope you enjoyed these hacks as much as I did. I can’t wait to get started on ours!

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Our Second Grade Curriculum & Schedule

theSAHMlife.com | Our Second Grade Curriculum & Schedule #secondgrade #curriculum #schedule #homeschool #stayathomemom #sahm

We’re super pumped about starting second grade!

Our oldest is beginning to understand the concept of grades and climbing up that ladder. She’s very proud of herself [as are we] that she’s moving on up. (Did you just sing “toooo the east side!”? Because I totally just did when I typed that.) I love her enthusiasm for learning.

As I mentioned before, we are transitioning from unschooling to traditional homeschooling this year. This means I’ve worked “school” into our typical daily routine in such a way that it doesn’t really change anything at all. We’re looking at about two hours per day of “school” – whether that’s in a chunk or throughout the day.

I’ve mapped out below what subjects we’re covering on what days and for how long. I’ve also included specific curriculum, links, and costs.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

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Morning Work
Daily, 15 minutes While I make breakfast.
2nd Grade Morning Work Book
by Second Story Window
$26.00 + Cost of Printing, Instant Download
Note: I print this out and put it in its own 1″ binder. You could also take it to Staples to be bound. (Heads up – they will NOT print it.)

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Bible Study2ndgradecurrsched3
Daily, 10 minutes
Level 2 New Testament Part 1 and Part 2
by Grapevine Studies
$22.50 (Teacher)
$12.50 (Student)0blank0blank

2ndgradecurrsched4Spelling
Daily, 10 minutes
Level B Jack and Jill
by Spelling You See
$30.00 (Student)
$16.00 (Teacher)

 

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2ndgradecurrsched5Handwriting/Copy Work
Daily, 10 minutes
Handwriting Cursive Workbook Level 2
by Bright Child
$3.00
2nd Grade Sight Word Sentences
by Confessions of a Homeschooler
Free + Cost of Printing, Instant Download

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ComposerTeacherBinder-258x300Music
Monday, 10 minutes
World’s Greatest Composers
by Confessions of a Homeschooler
$5.50 + Cost of Printing, Instant Download
Note: We started on this in kindergarten. We’ve really enjoyed it!

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Artists1Binder-258x300Art
Tuesday, 10 minutes
World’s Greatest Artists 1
by Confessions of a Homeschooler
$5.50 + Cost of Printing, Instant Download

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2ndgradecurrsched6Health/Safety/Manners
Friday, 10 minutes
Health, Safety & Manners
by Abeka
$14.20 (Student)
$21.30 (Teacher)
Note: After checking out the student book, I did not purchase the teacher edition.

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2ndgradecurrsched7Math
Daily, 20 minutes
Beta Level
by Math U See
$139
Note: Your first set will cost more because it includes all of the manipulatives. After the first set, you can just buy the workbook sets for $72.

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2ndgradecurrsched8Science
Daily, 20 minutes
Science 2nd Grade
by Abeka
$14.20 (Student)
$21.30 (Teacher)

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History2ndgradecurrsched9
Daily, 20 minutes
History 2nd Grade
by Abeka
$14.20 (Student)
$21.30 (Teacher)

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Extracurriculars: 4-H, Softball, Ballet, American Heritage Girls, Parks and Rec Programs (art classes and themed hiking excursions)0blank

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If you are looking to purchase Abeka curriculum, be sure to stalk check out the Abeka Resale Facebook Group. I ended up purchasing all of our Abeka materials on there in new condition for 1/3 of the price.

Thanks for letting me share. Good luck this year!

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10 Years a Wife

post_pic3whymariedhssweethrtroxToday my best friend and I celebrate ten years of marriage. The theme of our wedding said it best, “Today I marry my best friend.” Even the napkins declared our status in silver foil, so you know it’s legit.

We met when we were 13. We were high school sweethearts, went off to college together, the whole fairy tale. That said, we’re not without our ups and downs. Please don’t think we’re perfect – we’re far from. We’re two people growing up, together, apart, and meeting in the middle.

I am so thankful the Lord put this man on my path. He pushes me to live out my dreams, be better than I was the day before, and knows when I need a day to come undone. He’s a wonderful father, husband, and leader of our family. He’s everything.

Ten years ago we were just a couple of broke college kids. Our engagement didn’t come after a fancy dinner with flowers or during a public declaration of our love in front of family and friends. He had the ring and couldn’t wait, so he popped the question while we were watching tv on the living room floor one night. It was perfect.

We had a DIY wedding and rather than being whisked off to a luxurious honeymoon, we cleaned the hall, then packed up leftovers and headed home to our apartment where there was an eviction notice taped to the door. It was a crazy, wet, fun day with our family and friends. Sure, we could do it up better if we were to do it again, but honestly, that was our wedding and I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s a good reminder of where we were, how far we’ve come, and where we’ve yet to go.

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It’s the little things I remember most. Like vibrating with excitement as I said my vows. I loved my flowers – purchased in bulk direct from a farm in Sweden (we saved a ton going this route and yes, I made my own bouquet). White carnations like my grandmother had at her wedding and they smelled like heaven. Our wedding cake, made by my aunt, was strawberry with a big rhinestone covered “S” on stop. We danced and danced and danced – the groomsmen kicked things off early by stripping and doing the worm. We had a signature sangria that was absolutely delicious. There was also a candy bar complete with cotton candy machine.

So much has changed I don’t even think I could cover it all. We’ve been through, over, and under more than one would think you could jam into ten years. The best part is we’re not finished yet. The party is just getting started.

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What’s most important is that we’re right where we’re meant to be with two little girls to join us on this journey.

If I had any advice to give, it would be to marry the person who best compliments you. Love comes and goes, and it takes a lot of work to hold together sometimes. You have to be friends first so that there’s a home base of sorts to return to when things get rough. We have similar goals and tremendous respect for one another. You couldn’t find a bigger cheerleader for either of us. We’re complete opposites who can’t live without the other or we would be horribly unbalanced.

The plan was to be back in Arkansas this weekend for a blowout anniversary party. (I still have a Pinterest board with every last detail accounted for.) Unfortunately, life throws you curve balls and things don’t always go as planned. So today my husband is at work while I’m home with the girls dealing with all the fun that comes along with potty training. Tonight we’ll rent a movie and order some takeout after the girls go to bed… and that’s perfect.

I wonder what the next ten years hold? More kids? Another move? Whatever it is, it’s sure to be an adventure with my best friend.

I’ll leave you with our ridiculously cheesy wedding montage video.

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Warner Hall | Gloucester, VA

One of my pit stops while on vacation was at Warner Hall in Gloucester. This is the home of my 11th great grandfather, Augustine Warner. He’s quite the mover and shaker. Most notably, he was a member of the House of Burgesses, serving as Speaker of the House in 1676. He then sat on the King’s Council until his death.

Prior to leaving for vacation I emailed the innkeepers asking if I could drop in, which they gave warm welcome to. They ended up being on vacation, so their sister showed me around. I am so thankful for all of the work they’ve done to restore the home to its full glory.

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Warner Hall was once a working plantation which now serves as an inn and outstanding wedding venue. The right wing is original. The main house has burned and been rebuilt twice since 1652 (staying true to the design).

This is where a young George Washington danced in the parlor, the British stayed during the Revolutionary War, and Robert E. Lee as well as Abraham Lincoln visited during the Civil War. Yep, Lee rode Traveler on these very grounds. They do have some artifacts sprinkled about the house.

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To the back of the home along the York River sits the family cemetery where my ancestors rest – my links to Lewis Meriweather, Robert E. Lee, George Washington, and Queen Elizabeth II. These graves date back to the 1600’s. In front of Augustine’s grave is a “Virginia Founder” marker. I am thankful for the society who tends to this cemetery. A chunk of our nation’s history lies there.

We spent a great deal of time in the cemetery. Honestly, the moment I stepped into the cemetery I felt a familiarity. I feel such a strong connection to these people and wanted to honor them while visiting. I shared what I knew of them with my daughters and had a quiet moment of reflection. All amazing tales aside, this is my family. Their blood runs through my veins. I exist because of them.

I love tending to my genealogy and I’m a huge history buff. This was just above and beyond anything I have experienced as of yet in my genealogical travels. The only way I can sum up this amazing experience is by noting what an honor it was. This was a monumental occasion.

The innkeepers do host an annual family reunion for decedents. I’m looking forward to attending next year.

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I Crowned the County Fair Queen

This weekend I crowned my first ever fair queen. Five of them, actually.

When it looked as though our county fair would go without its staple fair queen a second year in a row, I knew I needed to push things around my plate to make room for it… and I’m so glad I did!

The last pageant had something like nine contestants and it has been several years since there was a Miss. See, our county fair queens advance to the Virginia Association of Fairs pageant which is a preliminary to the Miss Virginia pageant. The last time this county went to VAF, she won. Why a rep hasn’t return after that is unknown, but I am honored to be doing just that this year. Oh, and I had 30 contestants which is “huge” for these parts.

Thursday night was the pageant. It was in an outdoor pavilion. Yep, 90-something, humid as hell, with nothing more than a few ceiling fans. A summer storm blew through right before we began practically emptying the pavilion of all its contents. But you know what? We made it happen. Even when every cotton pickin’ little thing went wrong, we still got the job done. I swear, I’ve helped with/directed many pageants over the years and have never put as much into a pageant as this one. Whew! It was a task, but very much worth it.

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Friday was spent handing out awards at the livestock show, various photo opts, etc. You know, fair queen stuff.

I had two wedding cake snow cones. You know, director stuff.

Saturday we spent the morning at the fair again doing more queen stuff – buyer’s lunch, riding rides, more photos. After lunch we headed out to make appearances at two other county fair pageants. It was a great bonding experience for these ladies. It was a very long day, but again, so very worth it.

I can’t wait to see our county represented at VAF again! I know our Miss will be a showstopper. She’s just as beautiful on the inside as the outside, and such a smarty pants.

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Test Test, Baby

Ugh… testing. I dreaded this. I mean, she’s six. SIX! Why test so soon?!

But, y’all, we did it and lived to tell about it.

We ended up doing the CAT6 through Christian Liberty since it is so widely used by the homeschool community.

Why that particular test? The answer is found on their website: “We still use the older version of this nationally normed achievement test because the newer editions reflect a lower academic standard. Most educators will acknowledge the fact that our nation’s educational standards, as far as student achievement in the basic skills is concerned, have dropped considerably since the early 1970s. It is our professional opinion that the more recent versions of achievement tests simply do not demand as high a standard of achievement because too many of today’s students are ill-equipped to handle the level of evaluation that was common in the early 1970s.” It’s snarky, but it’s the truth.

Twenty-five bucks and two hours later we had the test out of the way and results in our hands. The test was easy to order, immediately accessible, easy to administer, and fun for my little test-taker. Results are immediate as well. Win!

Naturally, I had my concerns. I mean, we unschooled the last two years. Lots of people around us doubted it cause me to doubt my own choices at times. Would she be okay with the material on the test??? Well, let me tell you! She didn’t just pass, she told that test who’s boss. I couldn’t be more proud or relieved!

As we move out of unschooling and into more traditional homeschooling for second grade, I can honestly say unschooling was both a blessing during a turbulent time (settling into a new hometown – heck, a new coast – and welcoming a new baby) and exactly what our child needed. She blossomed under its relaxed style. “Trust the process.” they say. We did and we reaped the benefits.

After this, I feel like legit homeschoolers. I’m off to order curriculum now that I officially have a second grader.

Trust the process. Happy testing!

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Summer Vacation 2015

‘Tis the season for family vacations and our family is no exception. Last year my husband’s side of the family started that very tradition. We returned to Virginia Beach, Sandbridge specifically, for another round of fun, good eats, and relaxation.

Every morning started off like this… mimosas and dolphin watching. I mean, *le sigh*. That’s hard to leave.

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We were pretty much lazy bums the whole time. We vowed to have more time on the beach and we ate at Captain George’s twice. Can’t get much better than that.

One morning we decided to take off and explore that little strip between Sandbridge and the Outer Banks known as False Cape State Park. It’s $5 for a carload to head in. Park at the ranger station and explore. Go on – it’s fun, I promise. Despite being somewhat deserted, it’s well maintained. They do offer a tram once per day that will take you to a ghost town. We had just missed it – I want to say it leaves at 9am and returns at 2pm.

The water is super rough there – pay attention to the signs and stay out of it. The beach was dotted with fishermen, though. We even saw a shark. For real. Okay, so it was only about a foot and a half long, but still. I saw a shark. One of the fishermen caught it and it was flopping around in the sand dying a slow death. As bad I felt for the little guy, but it was cool to get that close. I assume they chopped it up and used it as bait.

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Fun Fact: It’s the least visited state park in the country. I think the fact it has no roads, water so rough you’re not allowed in it, and a ghost town might have something to do with it.

On the way back it was coming up on lunch, so we stopped at the Baja Coffee Co. (attached to the very Dawson’s Creek-esque Baja restaurant) across from our condo. The coffee as excellent, but let me tell you about these New Zealand savory pies his wife makes. They are quite simply the best thing I’ve eaten in a very, very long time and this fat girl loves food. That’s saying something. So, I want you to go to Sandbridge, Virginia 7am-11am and stop in at Baja for a savory pie, k?

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Baja has a very chill vibe. We were able to kick back and enjoy our brunch while our oldest an around with the other kids.

We went back the very next day.

The hubs, girls, and I stole away to Fort Monroe one afternoon. Okay, so this was a given being history buffs and homeschoolers – this is one of America’s historical gems, how could we pass it up?!

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We ended up getting there just after the museum closed, but were still able to enjoy the walking tour. It’s all free and 100% worth doing. There’s soo much history here.

Side note: On the way to Fort Monroe we were stuck in heavy traffic with a cranky toddler, so we pulled off into a beautiful cemetery, Forrest Lawn. It was massive and full of the most interesting things – may of which I’ve never seen before. Oh and the children’s section will positively break your heart. We walked around a long while, stumbling across a few Confederate soldiers. One was buried next to his daughter whose headstone looked just like his, except for noting “UDC”. Of course I had to pay respects to a fellow UDC sister.

Our last night in Virginia Beach was spent living it up at Motor World in celebration of the birthday of our oldest. That was the most fun we had the whole trip! We rode all of their tracks well into the morning.

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Another fantastic family vacation in the books!

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Foodie Friday | Anatomy of the Perfect Southern Biscuit

theSAHMlife.com | Foodie Friday: Anatomy of a Perfect Southern Biscuit - Fix your biscuits! #southern #biscuits #stayathomemom #sahmNot to butter my own bread or anything (har har), but I am somewhat of a Biscuit Queen. I’m here to address some common biscuit problems – the hockey puck, the squatter, and the introvert.

First things first, if you’re looking for an easy, delicious biscuit recipe, check out my previous post on Southern Scratch Biscuits. That’s my county fair blue ribbon recipe. It makes flaky buttered layers that Grands ain’t got nothin’ on.

To cure the hockey puck, try: (1) Cut back on the flour. Start by cutting the amount of flour by 1/4 cup. If you’re using a lot of flour when kneading/folding/cutting, then that’ll for-sure weigh down your biscuit. (2) Change up your cutting tools. Use a sharp-edge drinking glass or a scallop-edged biscuit cutter and apply minimal pressure to the dough. Push the glass/cutter into the dough, immediately give it a quick twist, and pop the biscuit out. (3) Turn down your oven by 10 degrees. Bottomline: If your biscuit is flat and hard, you need moisture, lift, and less heat.

The squatter is an easy fix. Add an additional teaspoon of baking powder. Now, if your biscuits are going the way of the Challenger, leave out a teaspoon. This has a lot to do with your altitude. So, if your biscuits are not getting a lot of lift, add baking powder. If they’re getting too much lift and toppling over, lessen the baking powder. If you haven’t already, make sure your baking powder hasn’t expired.

The introvert biscuit is one that stays all closed in on itself – it’s both a hokey puck and a squatter. This is when you need to tell your biscuits “it’s me, not you”. You just need to work on your technique. As I mentioned in the recipe, you’ll want your milk and butter chilled from the freezer and to handle the dough with your hands as little as possible to keep the dough as cool as possible. Roll out your dough with the drinking glass, sprinkle on some flour and smooth it out with your hand (quickly), then fold in half and repeat 4-5 times until your dough is about 1-1.5″ thick. Lightly dust the top with flour before cutting. You should still see butter crumbs in the dough. Remember – cold butter is where it’s at. Warm butter melts and oozes out of the biscuits long before they’re done. Unless you want the kitchen full of smoke and the smoke detectors blaring, don’t put warm dough with soft butter in the oven. Popping the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes will cure all doubts.

This is what a perfectly perfect raw biscuit should look like. Note the visible layers and air pockets. There’s a light dusting of flour on the top for that finished look.

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Here’s that delightful biscuit all grown up…

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Now, if I reduce the baking powder by one teaspoon, it looks like this…

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Both types of biscuits serve a purpose and palette. For example, my husband likes the taller, layered biscuit, while I prefer the more “homestyle” version.

I know that both this post and the recipe post seem involved, but once you’ve made them, you’ll see how truly easy it is. You just need a few tricks of the trade. Biscuit making is a dying art thanks to Pillsbury and the likes (convenience kills the art), so consider yourself an artisan and pass the tradition on to younger generations.

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Note: Affiliate links have been used in this post.

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