Taking Back Our Homeschool

three young kids exploring in a shallow creek

I’ve been seeing lots of “back to homeschool” posts on Facebook this month. One in particular this week made me stop though. There were pictures of kids, working hard on assignments and a cozy learning space. It appeared to be a great start to a new year. Then I came to the “disclaimer” at the bottom of the post. One I’ve seen many times over the years. This mama was explaining that their school room/area gets chilly, and the kids were dressed, but prefer to wear their robes over their clothes to stay warm.

Woah. What? Why would that even matter?
Because there’s a good chance without the disclaimer, something would be said about it.

Now, I’m sure someone is reading this and thinking I’m going to give a lecture about how it’s totally okay to do schoolwork in your pajamas. And while it totally is, (Didn’t we learn anything in college?) that’s not where I’m going with this.

What our kids wear to homeschool DOES NOT MATTER. If someone outside of your household cares, let it be their problem. For multiple reasons, I have my kids get dressed most days. It works better for us. However, I don’t give two cents what anyone else’s kids are wearing as they practice writing or read about World War I. I’ve taught plenty of lessons to kids in pajamas, superhero costumes, random ensembles of mismatched clothing, and swimsuits. And I am completely unapologetic about it.

young boy in a costume showing off a lego creation

Mamas, let’s take back our homeschools.

Take them back from the expectations of others.

Gone are the days of needing to explain or apologize for the way we craft our children’s learning experiences. Would anyone go to their child’s kindergarten teacher and ask why they have the kids sitting on a brightly colored rug together while listening to a story, insisting instead the students should all be at their desks? Absolutely not.
Do people come at homeschooling parents for not having their kids fully dressed or sitting at desks? They certainly do.

Things We Do Not Have to Do/Have/Be to Educate Our Children:

(Also known as – Things We Will No Longer Apologize or Make Explanations For NOT Doing:)

A strict 8 a.m. start time

Fully dressed kids

Fancy curriculum

A classroom in my house

Lots of extra curricular activities

Regular tests in every subject

Very structured, academic homeschool co-op classes

A college degree

Workbooks for every subject

A set number of “class time” hours

Anything else that someone outside our home thinks we “need” to have or do to fully educate our children

young girl with a pink bow writing in a math workbook

Now, I’m NOT saying any of things are bad or shouldn’t be part of a homeschooling plan. In fact, they’ve all been part of our plan at one time or another in some form. However, I AM saying every family and situation is different, and we get to choose how our learning time and space looks and feels. That’s the beautiful part of homeschooling!

The point of homeschooling is not just to teach our children the information, but to teach them to find the information and to love learning. If a space and life is created where a child learns to love learning and how to teach themselves, that will serve them well in every area of life, for the rest of their life.

That is nothing to apologize for. Ever.

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7 Smart Ways to Use a Stimulus Check or Tax Refund

Regardless of your political views on it, families and individuals across America are looking at larger sums of money in their bank accounts recently. With tax refunds and stimulus checks hitting at the same time, many are faced with the important question of “What do we do with it?” If this is you, here are a few suggestions to consider.

7 Smart Ways to Use a Stimulus Check or Tax Refund

(This article contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links does not affect pricing, but a small portion does go to our family and blog.)

Set it aside, earmarked for mortgage/rent.
Especially if your work situation is unstable or you’re currently unemployed, this option could relieve a lot of stress and be a necessary move. This would also free up other income each month for saving or investing throughout the year.

Most people have felt some irritation or discouragement when trying to build up a decent savings, and it didn’t build as quickly as they desired. If 2020 taught us nothing else, it taught us just how important a back up plan is. Get that safety net in place.

Pay ahead on utilities.
This can be especially helpful if you struggle with wanting to spend instead of save. Once the money is spent in this way, you can breathe a little easier each month, but also don’t have a large amount sitting, tempting you to go on a shopping spree.

Pay off debts.
Seriously. Just do it. Less debt means less stress.

All the things that you usually put off unintentionally. Property taxes, pest control contract fees, car tags, car insurance if you don’t pay it monthly, etc. This could be a number of things depending on your personal situation. Also, car tags can usually be paid for multiple years in advance.

Pre-purchase or stock up on things you purchase regularly, yearly, or a couple of times a year.
This could include things like homeschool curriculum. If you have a particular curricula you use each year, you could go ahead and purchase all you will need for the next few years. Prepaid gas cards would be another useful purchase. Many places also allow you to prepay for propane for your home, and prices are usually lower in the warmer months.

Fill the freezer.
Another great way to spend some unexpected funds is stocking your pantry and freezer. There are many dry goods that can be purchased in bulk and safely stored until you need them. If freezer space is available, consider purchasing meat directly from a farmer in larger quantities. This method protects your wallet from fluctuating food prices at the grocery store, makes meal planning easier and less time-consuming, while also supporting a local business and family.

Other Food items to add to your bulk shopping list:
Frozen/Canned vegetables
Dry beans
Coffee Filters
Peanut butter

(Be sure to pick up some food storage containers like these 5 gallon BPA free buckets.)

Last but not least, start another stream of income!
If you have ideas you’ve been working on or a long-time dream for a side hustle, now is a great time to make it happen. So often people don’t go after a dream simply from the lack of funds to get started. You can cross that off the excuses list now.

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That mom who does it all, on her own – she would rather not.

That mom who does it all, on her own – she would rather not.

It wasn’t an intentional choice she made to be the mom juggling all the plates with no help. She just had no help, so she learned how to do it by herself. Her husband has always been her only teammate, and he has a full time job that’s more demanding than many understand. They’re a tiny tribe of 2, raising their kids without a “village.” It’s not a big deal anymore because it’s just life.

But sometimes it is.

Some of the moments she wishes for a “village”…

If a kid gets sick, they all cram into the tiny doctor’s office, or they all go to the store to get whatever is needed. She apologizes to her toddler, over and over, praying he doesn’t throw up before they can get out of the store, or in the car. Again.

When she’s sick, the only rest she gets is between 6 pm and 5:30 am when her husband is home. There’s still meals to be cooked and toddlers to supervise.

When well-meaning people go on and on about how important it is to have a “real date night” with a babysitter and fun outside the house. Actually, in those moments she’s just praying her eyeballs don’t roll back in her head like they so badly want to. She’s been happily married long enough to determine that’s a lie.

Maybe their extended family lives far away. Maybe they have no family. Maybe their family isn’t healthy to be around for one reason or another. Possibly their own parents walked out of their lives when they chose to have more than 3 children. (Sadly that happens more often than you might think.)

That mama with the well-stocked freezer didn’t learn to make freezer meals and batch cook because it seemed fun. It saved her sanity (and her physical health) when she had a toddler and a newborn, her husband was working 80 hours each week, and there was no one to bring them meals in those early days.

That mom with the pack of well behaved kids in the grocery store? They aren’t well-behaved because they’re perfect. She’s not “brave.” They have all been doing the weekly shopping with their mother since they were each 2 weeks old. She’s put a lot of time and effort into teaching and training each child how to behave and stay safe in that situation. She didn’t have another option. Now it’s just part of the routine.

That mama who refuses to volunteer in your daughter’s second grade classroom- maybe you will understand when she shows up to every field trip with a baby strapped to her back, pushing twin three year olds in a stroller. And maybe you won’t. That’s okay too. She isn’t looking for anyone’s approval. (If you would offer to sit with the older kids while she changed the baby’s diaper, she would be very grateful though.)

That mom that doesn’t join a small group at church probably isn’t super shy (or a snob). She doesn’t have someone to watch her kids for two hours on a Thursday night. Or a Monday night. Or any night.

All the moms out there doing all their mama stuff without help aren’t supermoms. Lots of days they’re just surviving moms. They still have piles of laundry to fold and floors that desperately need to be washed. They don’t have it all together. Sometimes they’re lonely moms. Really, they’re mostly just praying moms.

It’s not that they don’t need help. They have no help. There’s a difference. Some moms just don’t have a village. And instead of whining and having a pity party (because they’ve already tried that before), they pray, they get up, and they get stronger.

It’s just what we do.

Scripture in a bible Psalm 46

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Dandelion Jelly

Sometimes my husband tells people that I’m, “a little bit hippy.” It’s true. I have some “crunchy” ways. Growing up I don’t think I ever imagined I’d do some of the things I do now. I love trying and learning new things though! Sometimes the old way really is the best way. 🤷🏼‍♀️

I knew dandelions had long been used for medicinal purposes, but I’ve enjoyed learning more about the different uses of the plant. One of those uses is as a jelly. I love jelly. (Doesn’t everyone?) Everything I read said dandelion jelly had a similar taste and consistency to honey (which we use a LOT of), so I started researching recipes as soon as the first buds popped up in our yard this year. I wanted to try it last year, but I waited too late in the summer and wasn’t able to find enough flowers. That was disappointing, but I was determined to be better prepared this year. This year the kids and I finally got our chance, and we made our first batch of dandelion jelly! It was a fun experience, and was surprisingly easy. This is definitely a project we will repeat.

(This article contains affiliate links. Ordering through these links will not change your pricing, but I will receive a small percentage.)


  • 3 cups packed dandelion blossoms (We used fresh, but I’ve been told that if you don’t have enough, you can freeze them until you are able to pick more.)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 – 2 boxes of powdered pectin (I used 1 1/2)
  • 4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice

Several recipes I found called for food coloring to give it a pretty yellow hue, but we try very hard to avoid artificial dyes, so I left that out of ours. The jelly didn’t end up green at all like some people said it would, but it isn’t a super bright yellow either.

Little girl picking dandelions
Dandelion blossoms in a bowl

It’s a pretty simple process, just a bit time consuming. When you take that first bite of a warm, homemade biscuit with your very own dandelion jelly spread on it, you’ll be glad you took the time to try this out.

When harvesting dandelions, be sure to pick from areas that aren’t treated with chemicals or near heavily traveled roadways. You don’t want all that yucky stuff in your food.

The How-To

  1. Pull the yellow blossoms out of the green leaves that hold them together. I found the best way to do this was to use my thumb fingernail to split the leaves and rake the petals off. Be sure to remove as much of the green at the bottom of the petals as possible and pick out leaves that fall in. The green is bitter, not exactly what you’re going for when making jelly.
  2. In a saucepan, boil 4 cups of water. Add half the blossom, and stir until it is boiling. Turn off the water, cover, and let steep for 20 minutes.
  3. Use a mesh strainer to strain out the blossoms. Gently push on the petals to remove excess water.
  4. Add the dandelion water back to your saucepan and bring to a boil again and then add the rest of the blossoms. Cover and steep again for about 15 minutes.
  5. Again, strain out the dandelion blossoms, gently pushing on them to remove the extra water.
  6. Measure out 3 cups of the steeping water. Add sugar, pectin and lemon juice. Bring this mixture to a boil, stirring it until the sugar dissolves.
  7. Boil for 1 minute.
  8. Skim off the foam.

Ta-da! You have dandelion jelly!

Then pour the mixture into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. You can then store in the fridge or process by the instructions of your canner manufacturer. I actually chose to freeze some of mine, and we will see how that turns out.

A jar of yellow dandelion jelly in a kitchen

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7 of our FREE Fun Summer Activities – A Little Summer Recap

Hello!!! I’ve been pretty active on social media this summer, but I just realized it’s basically been crickets over here on the blog. I’m so sorry! But we’ve been busy having fun, so I can’t complain or apologize too much.

What have we been up to?

Well I’ll show ya.

1. We played outside.

That’s right, good ol’ backyard (or front yard in this case) fun. Bike riding, tire swinging, water hose spraying, just plain fun. And lots of it.

2. Vacation Bible School

I spent a week shuttling the kids to church every night for songs, Bible lessons, snacks, and water games. It was exhausting but so very worth it.

3. We adopted a new pet! our pet frog in a plastic toy car

Now, I know pets can be costly, but Captain Froggy was a freebie from our pond. 🙂

There was also a pet turtle, but he only stayed for a few hours before the kids returned him to his natural habitat.

4. We picnicked and splashed in the creek at the park.

baby feet in a creek

Unfortunately we didn’t get to do that nearly as much as I had hoped, but I did make sure it happened.

5. We had ice cream and popsicles by the pool.


6. We swam. 7-free-fun-summer-activities-img_6055

A lot. Rarely a day has passed that no one got in the pool.

7. We enjoyed some amazing sunsets.

beautiful southern sunset

That has been our summer in a nutshell. We’ve done a lot and nothing at the same time, and it’s been a full and fun summer. I’m actually mourning the end of this summer more than any other in the last several years. The cool thing – all those fun things were totally free.

I love to go and do fun stuff. I really love to travel. However, I’m very glad we made the decision to just hang out at home and have a low key Summer this year. Now we’re all refreshed and ready for our crazy fall season.

Moms and dads, do not worry if you don’t give your kids every experience or lots of big vacations. Those things are fun, but definitely not necessary for fun childhood memories.

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Setting Goals for our Screen Free Week

This week we started a new practice in our house. For a while now, our rule for screen time has been “only on the weekends.” Monday to Friday is for concentrating on schoolwork, homeschool co-ops, and housework. Now that summer is in full swing, we’re not spending as much time on bookwork. (yay!) However, during this break I wanted to encourage the kids to keep learning and finding things they enjoy learning about, SO I came up with a little challenge for them.

I asked each kid to pick a goal for themselves to work on this week. Some picked smaller goals, and some picked bigger goals. It’s been interesting to see which ones were really motivated, and which ones needed more encouragement. It has definitely provided some fun this week though!

I posted a video about it on YouTube, and I will share a new video next week, updating on how everyone did with their goals.


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5 Must-Haves for Disney World with Kids

Dad and kids at Walt Disney World

A year ago this week we were excitedly heading off on a grand adventure. We took five kids, ages 7 and under, to Disney World for a week! I’m sure you’re thinking we’ve lost our marbles, but it was an amazing trip! We made some wonderful memories and can hardly wait to go back in a few years.

While planning for our trip, I put a lot of time into researching all the things we would need to make the trip successful and as relaxing as possible for the adults. I never found good lists of extras, so I have put together my own to share with my readers. Some of these were things I already had and loved, and some were items I bought specifically for our trip.

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Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy ALL Year with Bookroo!

It’s no secret that we love books around here.

There’s at least one book on every flat surface in our house. However, after I’ve read the same books 4,700 times, I’m ready to add a new one into rotation, and some of my kids are too.

*The products mentioned in this post were provided free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are strictly my own.* Some links in this post are affiliate links. Ordering through them will not affect your pricing, but it will provide income for me.*

This month, Bookroo saved me there. New books – without having to search through the internet and 100 reviews or having to chase a toddler through the library while simultaneously scanning books to approve them for my 8 and 6 year olds and telling the 5 year old she cannot check out the Dora dvd AGAIN? Yes please!

Boxes of books showed up at my door, wrapped in pretty paper (Every book is gift wrapped. Yes, I’m serious. How sweet is that?), and ready to be enjoyed. The best part? They now offer subscribers three reading levels to pick from! Board books for our youngest book lovers, picture books for the whole family to enjoy, and now (in beta testing) junior boxes with chapter books for ages 7-10! The junior box seriously made my 8 year old’s day. He’s an avid reader and I struggle to keep up with him. Bless him, that sweet boy has been re-reading every chapter book in our house over and over for the last two months because I just was not up to a library trip with a toddler and a newborn. The junior boxes would also be great for family read aloud books. (Don’t be afraid to introduce chapter books to younger, non-reader kids!) That’s exciting to this homeschool mom.

It never gets old seeing him devour a new book. I was happy with the books selected for this box too. I’m a bit picky on the books I allow, and these both seem to be age- appropriate and well written, which seem to be a bit harder to find a lot of these days.

My girls were no less thrilled than their older brother about getting new books (and how sweet are they in those matching Christmas jammies?).

With a new baby in the house, there’s been plenty of time for snuggling on the couch to read stories the last several weeks, and the two included in this month’s Bookroo box were great additions to our collection of storybooks. With every box I’ve seen from Bookroo, I’ve been very impressed by the books selected. Each one has been fun to read (not dragging on forever, leaving me trying to skip pages lol) with great illustrations.

Last, but absolutely not least, is the board book box. I have a weakness for board books, and oh my, these are precious.

I expected my little guy to love them, but his older sisters were just as excited about the books we received in the board books box. I had multiple requests to read Our Love Grows right away. We read it three times in a row. 🙂

If you want to make sure the kids you love have fun books under the tree (and in the mailbox each month!), there’s still time! Order by Monday, Dec 18 for delivery by Christmas!

Prices range from $15.99-$24.99 and plan options include monthly, 3, 6, and 12 month subscriptions. Junior boxes are available on a 2 month subscription plan.

Check out Bookroo.com for more information.

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Harvest Fest at The Memphis Zoo!



Harvest Fest at The Memphis Zoo

The temperatures may not be dropping around here, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t Fall! That just means we’re in the South. 🙂 I would prefer a bit cooler weather, but I’m also happy that swimming weather hasn’t completely left us yet. Either way, Fall officially arrives this Friday, September 22! If you’re looking for something fun to do with the family to welcome the new season, this weekend would be a great time to head on over to the Memphis Zoo for Harvest Fest, a family-friendly event presented by T-Mobile!

The two-day event will include lots of fun for all ages. You’ll be able to learn from local craftsmen, hear live bands, and even participate in hands-on activities such as churning butter and stamping your own leather.

This event is included with zoo admission.

What: Harvest Fest, presented by T-Mobile

When: Sept. 23 & 24, 2017, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Where: Memphis Zoo’s Once Upon A Farm,
Memphis Zoo, 2000 Prentiss Place, Memphis, Tenn., 38112
Entertainment Schedule (at the Once Upon A Farm exhibit)
All day – Ghost River Bluegrass Band
11:30 a.m. – Red Hot Lindy Hop
1:30 p.m. – Marti Patchell Folk Music
All day – Ghost River Bluegrass Band
1:30 p.m. – Red Hot Lindy Hop

Happy Fall Y’all!

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Arkansas Places to Go: Beatles Park & Parachute Inn Restaurant


Y’all, Summer vacation is here!!! Okay, technically, as homeschoolers, we school year round, but we do take breaks as needed. Right now, a break is needed. lol We’ll be back at it in about a week. Hopefully. Maybe. Even when we are doing lessons in the summer, it’s a lighter load and more spread out. My mom is a public school teacher, so we also like to take advantage of her time off in the summer to spend more time with Nana. Recently my oldest four children spent a few days with my parents so that the oldest three could attend a summer farm program near their home, and our second daughter got to experience two days of Camp Nana and Camp Pawpaw. (Let’s just say, she wasn’t in a hurry to come home.)

When it was time for my kids to return to the real world (AKA home), my mom and I decided to meet up in the little town of Walnut Ridge, Arkansas. Now many, if not most of you, have probably never heard of this tiny little map dot town, but it’s near where I grew up. Walnut Ridge is a small town located in Lawrence County, Arkansas with a whopping population of about 4,700. There were a few spots around town on my list of places to visit in Arkansas though, despite growing up just a few miles down the road. I’m a big fan of exploring, big and small. There’s always something fun and interesting nearby to see, no matter where you live. Rural Arkansas is no exception.

(This post contains affiliate links. Purchasing through these links will not affect your pricing but I will receive a percentage, which benefits my family and keeps this blog growing. 🙂 )

kids in front of beatles park monument

That day we got to check off two of the items on my list of places and things to see in Arkansas. Our first stop was Beatles Park. My 7 year-old son recently discovered The Beatles through a book called The Beatles (Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers) and was very intrigued. (On a side note, there is an entire series of the Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Composers books along with a series for artists  and inventors and scientists. I knew he’d enjoy seeing Beatles Park.

In 1964 the famous band made a couple of brief stops at the Walnut Ridge airport and caused quite a stir in the small, rural town. In September of 2011, a monument downtown,  designed to look like the cover of their Abbey Road album, was unveiled commemorating the 1964 event and a downtown street was renamed Abbey Road. In 2012, a guitar-shaped plaza was built downtown.


We were only able to make a quick stop for pictures and to stretch our legs, but the kids had a lot of fun posing for pictures and learning that the Beatles had actually been in Walnut Ridge!

Our next stop was the airport for lunch. We went for lunch on a plane! However, we weren’t eating your typical airplane food.


Edit: Unfortunately, the Parachute Inn is no longer in business. 🙁

The Parachute Inn Restaurant is a fun, quirky place with Southern home-style cooking. They offer a lunch buffet but also have a full menu to choose from. Now here’s the fun part – you get to dine in a reconfigured Southwest Airlines Boeing 737! They do have regular restaurant seating just inside the door, but you’ll want to take the small step up to the left. Trust me. The seats have been adjusted and tables added to make dining booths, and the kids can hang out in the cockpit while you wait for your food. (You can check them out on Facebook for more details on their menu and directions.) This would be a fun stop on a road trip for sure!



We lucked out; arriving right at 11 a.m. for an early lunch meant we had the whole plane to ourselves and the chicken didn’t even go out on the buffet until right after our drinks arrived! It was perfect timing! (Now don’t let the lack of a crowd worry you. They started getting busier at the end of our meal, as the lunch rush started.)

Be sure to add the Parachute Inn Restaurant to your next trip through Northeast Arkansas!

Tue-Thur 8am-2pm
Friday 8am-8pm
Sat 11am- 8pm

10 Sky Watch
Walnut Ridge,Arkansas

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