Our Sweetest Tradition

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Last year, we started a new family tradition of baking cookies together and delivering them to our neighbors. It was Brian's idea. Personally, I do NOT enjoy baking, and the thought of engaging in small talk makes me physically sick (this is not an exaggeration). However, this magical tradition has quickly become my ultimate favorite.

This year, I'm behind on everything (it's become a pattern). All of the things I thought I'd facilitate to make the season more magical and memorable are not actually happening. So I'm so glad we carved out a few hours (even past kiddo bedtimes) to spend some intentional and relaxed time together, doing something sweet for others.

The whole baking experience was a huge improvement from last year. I still depended heavily on break and bake (take it or leave it, neighbors), but the kids are at an age where they are actually independent and helpful, there were no tears, and their little personalities are so fun to interact with.

At one point I had to run out to the store and when I came home, I just melted at the scene through the window. The trees are decorated and lighting up the house, everyone was donning their Christmas jammies and aprons, and Brian and the kids were gathered around laughing and goofing off as they arranged cookies together. I could have just stared through that window for ages. (Do I sound like a Lonestar song?)

Later in the evening, Charlie got uncharacteristically sentimental when she very sincerely told Brian and me that we were the best family ever, and then proceeded to pull us in under each one of her little arms as she announced, "group hug!" I hope that moment sticks with me forever.

Today, we got to deliver the cookies together. I had less of a say in what the kids wore this year, so they don't look as magazine-worthy, but hey! The cookies are delivered and the neighbors were all so surprised and grateful. You win some, you lose some!

Charlie was MUCH more outgoing this year. Last year, she barely wanted to walk to the doors and refused to say anything to the neighbors as they tried to interact with her. This year, she was ready to put on a show with her best cheesy ridiculousness and wish everyone a Merry Wistmas! Beckett, on the other hand, has never really been shy and is always ready to answer questions or strike up a conversation. He's his father's child in this way.

The other Christmas tradition-y things on my list may or may not get done this year, but that's ok! I hope we make this one a priority for years and years to come! Do you think I'll be able to convince them to crawl into that power wheel and ride around the neighborhood when they're teenagers?

Buck is Six!

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Today we got to celebrate six years of life with this awesome kid!! Beckett has recently discovered MARIO and is OB•SESSED, so we surprised him with Mario-themed everything and setting up THREE gaming stations in the playroom. He was thrilled. 

Per our tradition, we had one big family day to celebrate. The day started with cake for breakfast, followed by lots of video games (a special treat in our house). We took a break in the middle of the day for lunch at Chili’s - which Beckett chose because we have never allowed him to use the game screens and he knew his birthday would be an exception. Tricky kid. 

After lunch, we headed to Beckett’s first indoor soccer game ever! He had a huge cheering section, which made it a bazillion times more special. He has really come to love soccer, so playing on his birthday, surrounded by family, was a perfect addition to the day. Plus, his team sang Happy Birthday to him, which was so sweet to watch. 

After the game, we headed home for presents, dinner, and Mario themed cookies! 

Five was a great year for Beckett. It started out a little rough, but he has matured so much and has come to be a great helper around the house, a fantastic homeschool student, and a sweet, affectionate son and brother. Parenting is HARD, but we're so honored to be Mom and Dad to this fantastic kiddo. 

This year Beckett had his first international trip, started Kindergarten, and began taking TaeKwonDo! His favorite past times are playing with hot wheels, reading, and spending as much time on screens as mom will allow!

First Snow of the Season!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Today was the first snow of the season, so like any normal children, Buck & Chuck BEGGED to go out in the snow to play. I'm over here giddy for the opportunity to kick them out and have some silence, so I set off to make it happen.

The kids were THRILLED at the idea of playing in the snow. (You know where this is going, right?)

I scoured the house for supplies, but alas, there are NO WATERPROOF clothing items in this entire house. I mean, REALLY. What kind of midwesterner am I? I'm failing my children.

Against my better judgement, we loaded up and headed out. One hour, $60 dollars, two stops, and a fair amount of griping and bickering later, we had the basic necessities for snow play. Of course, during that adventure, my brilliant children realized that winter and snow mean COLD and started whining before we even got home that they in fact did NOT want to go outside and play. Threatening to return their snow play goodies only backfired when they both agreed that that would be the best course of action.

Whatever man. I'm committed now.

I told the kids they were absolutely going outside, gladiated potty breaks and artic-worthy bundling, and 20 minutes later, shuffled those fluff-balls out the door. To my surprise, they were actually thrilled to be out there and put their new snow pants to use.

I checked the time as we headed out, swiped a couple of photos, and scurried back in.

The kids lasted exactly 19 minutes and honestly, that was about 16 minutes longer than I expected.

A Week in the Life, Day 4 | Play Day

Friday, October 18, 2019

Once upon a time, we skipped all the academic stuff today. Whoops. 😉

Lucky for me, my kids are still young (plus they’re doing fantastic academically) so there’s a lot of flexibility in our days. We had planned to do math, Spanish, and reading this morning before our outing. Instead we had a relaxing morning getting ready, doing chores, & having breakfast together. Then we headed to the playground for an epic play date with friends! 


Between my sister-in-law (Brittany), my college friend (Stephanie), and her sister-in-law (Missy), we had seventeen kids at today’s play date! I L.O.V.E getting together with this crew. Steph & Miss are actually part of the reason we decided to homeschool in the first place. Their kids are fantastic and we love getting the crews together to play and build relationships. Plus, these ladies are the type of people every momma should have in their lives! 


Later this evening, we had soccer! I LOVE soccer nights. Beckett is on his fourth season with the same kiddos and Charlie just started this year (with dad as coach). We would encourage athletics whether we were homeschooling or not, but because the kids are not in a pubic school environment, we feel it’s even more important for them to do sports. In addition to soccer, Charlie does gymnastics and Beckett does gym & TaeKwonDo. 


A Week in the Life, Day 3 | RoadSchool

Thursday, October 17, 2019

One of the reasons that homeschool fits us so well is that we are on the road A LOT. We travel a ton and have gotten in the habit of being on-the-go when we're in town, too. Our classroom is where ever we want!

We are quickly becoming pros at doing school on the road (aka RoadSchool). Sometimes that means taking our bookwork wherever we are (camping, family's house, vacations, etc) and sometimes it just means making use of the awesome technology at our disposal and doing it in the car! Yesterday was a car school day, plus a full day of learning at the children's museum with friends!

We were able to do reading, Spanish, math, and memory work all in the car. For reading & Spanish Beckett has an app that reads aloud along with a book. It works in both English and Spanish and he follows along as the story teller reads aloud. It's perfect for the car! Charlie uses Teach Your Monster to Read app on her iPad. For memory work, we use our CDs and all sing along. For math, both have apps that are supplementing the content they are doing in their standard curriculum. Easy peasy!

Then the rest of the day was spent at the Magic House with friends! We LOVE the Magic House and are so grateful for our membership there! The kids can play (and learn) independently while the mommas talk (win!) and the staff is excellent. In this shot, one of the staff members is working with Beckett on types of rocks, density and mass, using a balance, and some other goodness. They spent a good hour in the science room, exploring topical maps, learning about butterflies, identifying types of consumers by their skulls, using really cool microscopes, and more. And that was just the first room!

Most importantly, I love that they just get to PLAY so much. That's how small children learn best! Being able to create and enjoy environments where MOST of the day is spent playing, creating, exploring, using their imaginations, and being with friends has been SUCH a gift.

Right: Beckett & his friend Jonathan from CC

A Week in the Life, Day 2 | Classical Conversations

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

It's Day Two of my "A Week in the Life of Our Homeschool" series and today I get to share one of the "staple" days in our week: Community Day! This is our consistent Tuesday routine that we look forward to so much! 

Charlie's CC Class

Common Misconception of the Day:

Common Misconception: Homeschoolers are antisocial, unsocialized, or deprived the opportunity to hang out with other kids. 

Our Truth: I understand how this stereotype came to be, but it is definitely not our reality (nor is it the reality for ANY homeschool families I know -- which is quite a few). I like to joke that we're so on-the-go that it's actually the ACADEMIC aspect of homeschool that is difficult to fit in. There is definitely no lack of socializing!

What Today Looked Like:

8:30am - Scheduled departure time
9:40am - Actual departure time
10:00am - Classical Conversations
1:00pm - Playground
2:00pm - Home | Lessons & free play for kids. Chores for mom.

Today's Story:

Tuesday is CC day! Classical Conversations is a homeschool community and we LOVE it. CC is a classical method of education, which basically means the kids do a whole crap ton of memorizing. The amount of information seems overwhelming, but it’s incredibly impressive how well they do with it! 

This morning, I got an extra little reminder of why I appreciate the freedom and flexibility of homeschool life when Beckett (usually a 6:30am riser) was still asleep at 8:30am - when we are usually leaving the house! Charlie and I sat ready to go, waiting on him to get up, only for him to take his dear sweet time. I decided that if my five-year-old (who rarely sleeps in) was still sleeping at almost 9am, then his body apparently needed it! Thankfully, it wasn't too long before he woke up in a great mood, ready for the day, and with no signs of illness (which was another concern). So we headed out the door over an HOUR behind schedule. And it was liberating. 

On CC day, the kids are introduced to their new memory work for the week, study music or art, give presentations to their class, and do a science project. Then they have lunch together and play! 

Today's Science: Sun Prints
Throughout the week, we study the same memory work, with the goal of having it mastered by the time we return. Each week (for 24 weeks), we have new information in 7 subjects: Math, Science, History, Timeline, Latin, English, and Geography. 

CC is AMAZNG. They repeat the same information every 3 years through the elementary years, add in writing during the middle school years, and then speech/debate during the high school years — all built on the concepts memorized from age 4. It’s kind of like the alphabet - you memorize it as a kiddo, then use it more and in different ways as you grow! Even better: the whole program is Christ-Centered.

Music Theory: Tin Whistle Practice
The best part of CC is the actual community! We get together with our friends regularly, and I am SO grateful for the other moms! They are FAN.TAS.TIC and so encouraging. Exactly the type of people I want to surround myself with! 

On the way home from CC today, Charlie suggested we hit the playground. This season is my happy time, so I was all about it. We popped through Starbucks (obviously) and hit a new (to us) playground in the area. I sat for an hour and sipped my coffee in silence while I watched Beckett find friends to play tag with and Charlie find a new friend to play babies with. We could have stayed there forever, except my coffee ran out and we had other things to do. 

As soon as we were home, we switched out our CC whiteboard and reviewed our newest memory work. Below is a little peek at what some of that looks like. Review looks different every day. Often the kids review on their iPads. We also have CDs we listen to in the car, a neat coloring book we're working through, and flashcards (that are mostly neglected).

We squeezed in a math board game, some learning palette time, and a little reading. Then, the last thing on the list was their iPad time. I don't care what anybody says - I LOOOVE technology in our house and the amazing opportunities it provides the kiddos. I'm amazed at the challenges they take on through their math apps and am SO grateful for the extra independent practice! They use their iPads daily (on timers) for math, reading/phonics, piano, and CC memory work.

Beckett (5) is assembling a Times Table and Charlie (4) is working on subtracting from 20.
Today was a full day, so we didn't finish up with our official checklist until around 3:30. But it was a good, good day!
Beckett reading & Charlie playing with letter magnets

A Week in the Life, Day 1 | Renaissance Festival

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

We’re early in our homeschool journey, but already I get a lot of curiosity, questions, and skepticism about homeschool life. I get it, because I was actually extremely anti-homeschool until it came time for us to make the decision for ourselves. 

Homeschool fits our lives so perfectly that I couldn’t imagine doing it any other way. That isn’t to say that we’ll NEVER go another direction, but for now, we’re LOVING it. I can definitely say we’re living our best lives! ;) 

This week, I decided to document what our days look like. I'm excited to record it for our own memories, to share with our friends and families what it looks like to do homeschool in our family, and address some frequently asked questions (and concerns ;)).

Common Misconception of the Day:

Common Misconception: Homeschool is a reproduction of traditional school, just in one's home.

Our truth: This has been one of the hardest mindsets to overcome for this public school teacher! Homeschool does NOT mean replicating how a traditional classroom would look and function. It's soooo much more relaxed and liberating than that!

What Today Looked Like:

6:30am - Pretend to wake up
7:30am - ACTUALLY wake up. Get ready, clean some, prep for the day, etc.
8:30am - Math for both kiddos 
9:00am - Leave (memory work in the car)
10:00am - Renaissance Festival
5:00pm - TaeKwonDo 

Today's Story:

Mondays are usually our sleep-in and stay-at-home day, recovering from crazy weekends. However, twice a month our homeschool community gets together for a field trip (which I get to plan, cuz it’s my happy place) and this week the trip landed on Monday. We started the day knocking out an early math lesson, and then spent the rest of the day at the Renaissance Festival, which aligns with our history memory work for the year (more on that later).  

One question and concern that I know is often directed at homeschool families is how we know we’re teaching the “right” thing and how we’re sure they’re getting everything they need. 

Here’s the thing: no matter HOW your child is educated, they will never learn “everything.” Our goal is not to check all of the things off some magical master list to guarantee success. Instead, the goal in our family is to teach HOW to learn and a LOVE for learning. We want our kids to enjoy new experiences, appreciate science, history, and culture, and (of course) be voracious readers. That way, no matter what they’re interested in, they’ll be motivated and equipped to learn more. 

Last week, in preparation for the Ren Faire, we checked out and perused a stack of books on knights and castles, and started reading Magic Tree House: Knights at Dawn, and took notes on what we learned.

The Festival was SO much fun. They got they got to attend to a fantastic demonstration on glass blowing, see some incredible acrobats, hear story telling, experience a jousting tournament, visit fairies and mermaids, eat turkey legs, pet neat animals, and more! Dad got to join in the fun too, which always makes everything way better.

Beckett's favorite part of the festival was the acrobats. He and his friend Anna just talked through the whole performance about how amazing it was. They were mesmerized and adorable!

Charlie's favorite part were the fairies. They were allowed to search the garden for small shinies, and trade them in for a "big shiny" (basically fish tank rocks & sea glass) and the kids were sooo entertained. It was magical!

It was a very fun day, and the perfect blend of learning and adventure! The kids were exhausted, but intrigued. Beckett read up on Castles all the way home! Charlie read for a little bit and then crashed hard!

Opening Weekend + Charlie's First Soccer Game!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

A year and a half ago, the whole family converged to cheer on Beckett in his first ever soccer game. We decided to replicate that awesomeness and invite the whole crew to cheer on Charlie for her first game ever! Nana, Papa, Papaw, Uncle D & Aunt B, Eli, and Avaya all showed up to cheer this girl on. WE ARE SO GRATEFUL for our family! 

Charlie only turned four two weeks ago and is still the oldest girl on the team, so our expectations were extremely low. However, we were pretty impressed with how well 5 of the 6 girls played! It was fun to watch. 

Wanna know about the 6th girl? The one that was just kinda totally stubborn and stinky? Of course... That would be my child.

She basically just pouted, groaned, and acted totally uninterested. This was a total bummer because she has been excited for MONTHS about playing soccer like Beckett, and I was excited too! I even made bows for the whole team (it’s how I roll). Of course, when the time actually came to play, she was in a MOOD. 

Actually, to be honest, she’s been “in a mood” for a couple of months now. Four was my hardest year with Beckett, and so I keep joking that she’s looking to out-do him. So far, she’s a total over-achiever. She has MASTERED stubborn, sassy, and opinionated. I don’t know WHERE she gets that from!

What’s even more fun (we thought) is that Brian is coaching Charlie’s team! He’s PERFECT at being patient and fun with a bunch of 3 and 4 year old girls. He’s doing great! And those five out of six girls are responding impressively well! (Ha!) We think Chuck is partially jealous to have to share her dad. 


He's so cute, though! 

Thankfully, Charlie did have a couple of promising moments. We could tell she WANTED to get into it. I don't know what her little four-year-old emotions were doing to her, but we're hoping to see some more excitement & confidence as the season progresses! 

The second game of the day was Beckett’s! It has been SO FUN to watch his progress since game one. It’s also extremely encouraging to remember how much of a difference a couple of years makes — maybe Charlie is not doomed! 

Beckett LOVES playing soccer. He is giddy and happy and totally energetic when he’s out there playing. He’s improved on focus and following instructions (although he still needs work, for sure). I can see him loving this sport for a long time. 

We love that he has been with the same great coaches and sweet team for four seasons now. It’s suuuuch a sweet blessing to see them growing and improving together, and so awesome to know the boys and their parents. I pray that they continue to play, grow, and bond together. 

The weekend was supposed to have two games per team, but today’s games were rained out, so we decided to just grab a few pictures while they were suited up. In true Charlie fashion, she was a stinker. Luckily for us, Papa caught these perfect depictions of current life with Charlie Grace on camera. 

Finally, we resorted to bribery. (Thanks in advance for not judging)

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