Real Life Homeschool: Schooling on the Go

We are at day 4 of a our 5 Day Blog Hop, and today, I want to share how we do school on those busy, on-the-go days. You know, the days you have dentist appointments, have to run to the library, have homeschool co-op, have to hit the grocery store, or just run a bunch of general errands. One of the benefits of homeschooling is, of course, the flexibility. However, I have found that if you don’t have some kind of a plan for these kinds of days, then often, nothing gets done. So, this is how we school in the car!

My backseat is pretty comfy.

So, the first thing we do on a busy day is pack our backpack with everything portable. Our math book and notebook, the chapter book we are reading, grammar, and spelling. I used to try to cart around our history and science books too, but I quickly realized that the load was much heavier than was realistic and honestly, on a busy day like that, it probably won’t get done anyway, so I limit our carschooling days to our essential subjects.

While we are in the car, I try to provide instructional entertainment with an audio drama or book on tape. Heirloom Audio Productions offers some excellent ones, like Under Drake’s Flag and In Freedom’s Cause. These are nice because we can listen to them and then spend time discussing them using the study guides. We also like to pass the time listening to classical music CDs like the ones from Maestro Classics. I feel like this is a way to bring some value to the times we spend in the car.

If I know ahead of time we are going to be running around, I can plan around it, which is great. I limit our subjects, set up the backpack ahead of time, and the day goes relatively smoothly. For instance, once every two weeks we do a big grocery shopping trip. So, on those days, I plan for only a few subjects, and figure the life skills my kids are learning at the grocery store take care of the rest. On co-op days we also go light on school, usually only doing reading, spelling and math.

But what about those days when stuff just comes up out of the blue? Well, on those days I tell myself to pick and choose what is most important and postpone everything else. Believe it or not, I find my cell phone and computer to be handy tools on those days. There are actually a lot of educational games and applications that at least give my kids a chance to practice math and reading skills when we are out and about. I also try to make a stop at the library if we can. We might grab lunch and hit the playground too, so my boys can run around and burn off some energy. And dinner on these busy days (which I try to squeeze in in between guitar lessons and football practices)? Well, let’s just say the pizza man is quite familiar with my house! LOL

At any rate, carschooling is a reality for many homeschoolers. Unlike most parents who run errands and take care of things while their kids are at school, our kids are always with us, so it is inevitable that we have to make adjustments. How do you do school on those days when you have to run around? Let me know in the comments. To see what my fellow crew members had to share today, click here:

Discover real life in other homeschools with the Schoolhouse Review Crew bloggers! Join the blog hop to read more!

 

Real Life Homeschool Blog Hop

Start with these 10 blogs:
Life at Rossmont
A Stable Beginning
Happy Little Homemaker
Joyful Hearts and Faces
Day by Day in Our World
Mama’s Coffee Shop
Delightful Learning
Double O Farms
Tales of a Homeschool Family
Home Sweet Life
A Rup Life

The Holidays Are Coming!!

I swear the holidays come earlier and earlier every year! I walked into the store the day after Halloween and they were filling the aisles with Christmas stuff! Did we just skip November altogether? Do we move straight from the candy to the presents without a pause for thankfulness? Ugh! Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE Christmas. I start listening to Christmas music the day after Thanksgiving, and we put our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, but still, I feel like everything is just so rushed, and I think it contributes to my holiday stress.

Every year I look forward to this time of year. I love the cooler temperatures (well, cooler for Florida), the pumpkins, the flavors, and all the fun that comes with this season. Right now, I am planning our Thanksgiving dinner. For the first time in three years, my husband is NOT working, so we actually get to eat at home instead of the fire station. I am looking forward to a day of cooking and lounging around with my family. It will be nice to have my kitchen full of holiday smells.

Here’s the thing that bothers me. I want to take this month to focus on the gratitude that comes with Thanksgiving. Before my kids get carried away with the thoughts of the gifts and the candy canes and the lights, I want them to take a moment to focus on being thankful for what they already have. I want them to understand that even though our life may be different from that of their friends, they are blessed beyond belief.

Again, I love Christmas. And I really get into giving gifts. There is something about watching someone open a present that I have picked out for them and loving it that just warms my heart. I spend hours planning gifts for my family, and I love wrapping the presents and look forward to that moment when we all get up and open gifts together. I don’t think presents are bad, I just think that focusing on the gift giving and decorations for a full two months is a little much. As I hear about people completing their Christmas lists the second week of November, I start to panic and wonder if I am falling behind. As the weeks go on and more and more of my friends Facebook posts focus on checking items off their lists, I start to really stress out.

So, this year, I am going to work to enjoy the month of November with my focus on Thanksgiving without thinking about next month. I will focus on Christmas AFTER Thanksgiving. This month, I am just going to spend time being grateful for all that I have.

My Wiggly Boys

My silly boys.

Our topic for the blog cruise this week is “teaching the chatty, wiggly child”. Oh my, I definitely have two of those. My boys are, well, all boy in the sense that they are always moving-fidgeting-fiddling around kinds of kids. They can’t be still, they ALWAYS have something to say (and more often than not, it is off topic) and they seem to be in a constant state of movement. I have to be honest, to my orderly, organized “teacher-brain”, this is the kind of behavior we try to stop in the classroom. All that movement is distracting, and once one kid is off task, they all get off task! So, learning to deal with (and love) this chase-the-rabbit-trail kind of behavior has been a process for ME in our homeschooling. These are some of the things I do to try and accommodate my active boys while still making sure we get work done.

1. Allow frequent breaks.
Seriously, some days we take a short 5 minute break after each subject. This allows my boys to run outside for a minute, pet the dog, have a conversation, look up something online they just thought of, play guitar, or add a piece to their latest Lego creation. At first, this was really hard for me, because I am a “let’s dig in and get school done” kind of girl. However, I quickly realized that my sons did not have the same attitude, and the more I tried to push them to be like me, the more miserable school became for all of us. By working small breaks into our schedule, my boys know they will have a few minutes to move around and do what they want at the end of each subject. This helps them focus more on the work at hand when they are doing it. Yes, it extends our day a bit, and we finish school around two instead of at noon, but does that really matter? Not to me!

2. Stop and Listen
Although I hate to admit it, when I am “busy” doing something, and one of my kids tries to tell me something, I often only half-listen, giving a nod when they are done and sending them on their way. The thing is, my kids KNOW when I am not paying attention to them and usually, this only causes them to talk more. I have learned that when one of my kids is just bursting to say something (even if it doesn’t really relate to what we are doing at the moment) it is best to just stop what we are doing, let them talk, and pay attention to what they have to say. So if, in the middle of grammar, my youngest suddenly interrupts and asks me if I remember the story that we read last year, about the pirate who does all this cool stuff, instead of telling him to be quiet and get back to work, I answer his question. Oddly enough, just doing that seems to resolve the problem. After we have had our conversation, my son goes back to his assigned work and finishes up. In the past, when I have been more work-focused and would not make room for these interruptions, it often led to a LONG disruption that ended with tears, fighting, and declarations of “you never want to listen to me”.

3. Keep it in Perspective.
This is probably one of the biggest things I have learned about homeschooling and life in general. One of the reasons I wanted to homeschool is to spend time with my boys because I felt they were growing up too fast and I was missing most of it. I try to remind myself that childhood comes in seasons, and that these boys who drive me crazy with their constant movement and chatter won’t always be like this. There will come a time when their lives will be full of jobs and friends and I will miss these moments. When you’re in the middle of the craziness it is hard to see, but I know that these days (however hectic) won’t last forever. At some point I may even long for a random interruption to my day because it is far too quiet. So I strive to remember that when I am trying to teach a science lesson and my boy determines he just has to ask me about last week’s trip to the grocery store right at the minute. Or when a spontaneous light saber war erupts during reading time. Or when someone decides the dog needs to wear a blanket as a cape as I am trying to explain the difference between mixed numbers and improper fractions. God made these boys the way they are for a reason, and the joy they bring to my life is worth all the craziness!

Do you have a chatty, wiggly child at your house? To see what other members of the crew had to say on this topic, check out the blog cruise here:

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Field Trip Fun!

One of the things we love about homeschooling is the field trips. We belong to two homeschool groups, and we have been pretty active with field trips so far this year. Living on the coast of Florida, we have a lot of trips we can take that relate to the unique ecosystems we have here. One of our trips was to the Barrier Island Sanctuary near Sebastian Inlet. On this trip, we got to tour the sanctuary on both the ocean and river sides. We actually walked through five different zones on our trip.

A land crab in its hole.

The sanctuary is home to tons of wildlife, crabs, manatees, dolphins, spiders, and dozens of butterflies. During the tour the kids were given a sheet that included all the species of butterflies they might see, and were asked to keep track of how many there were. We saw about seven different kinds, and they were beautiful. We also got to take home a “souvenir”. One of the programs sponsored by the sanctuary is a mangrove growing project. Mangroves are very important to the river ecosystem where we live. Each child was given a mangrove to take home in a jar. The idea is to grow the mangrove until it begins to sprout roots. We then return it to the sanctuary and they will put in the river. Ours are sitting in the kitchen window, and the boys named them Steve and Dave!

Steve and Dave πŸ™‚

We also took a trip to my hubby’s fire station. Unlike most fire station field trips, this one was focused more on students in 7th grade and up. Of course, we looked at the trucks. But we also talked about careers in firefighting and the kinds of training and education it takes to become a firefighter.

Many of the kids were interested in the medical side of things and learning about what paramedics do.

Our most recent field trip was to the Ruth Funk Center for Textile Arts, located on the campus of Florida Institute of Technology, which is centered in Melbourne. The museum features rotating exhibits of international collections of textiles. Now, I was not sure how interested my boys were going to find this particular trip but, the museum docent had a cool scavenger hunt planned for the kids that they really enjoyed, and we saw some very cool stuff!

Working on the scavenger hunt paper.

Each item had information about the country it came from, (many of which I had never heard of) and we went home and looked them all up. I am thinking we are going to return to the museum when they update their exhibits and use them as a starting point for a geography lesson. FIT also has a botanical garden on the premises, and we took a walk through there after visiting the museum.

We have some other cool trips coming up in the next few months, a farm (where my youngest is begging me to let him get a fertilized chicken egg), ice skating, and maybe a theme park. What cool field trips have you done so far this year? Let me know in the comments!

Fun Fall!

Fall! Crisp cool mornings….beautiful colors on the trees, pumpkins, apple cider, fall festivals. All of these come to mind when I think of these seasons. Except…we live in Florida, where fall is pretty much just a cooler version of the summer. To us, fall means temperatures in the 80’s rather than the 90’s, the end of hurricane season, and the hope of window weather in the winter!! When I was little, my family would travel to the mountains of North Carolina every year to see the changing of the colors on the trees. We don’t get a lot of that here, but we still have some pretty awesome things to look at this time of year.

Each year in October my kids go to Jacksonville to spend a week with my husband’s parents. My oldest son is a budding photographer, and these are some pictures he took while on his latest trip.

Ah yes, bees and wasps. Florida is full of them. And if you don’t watch out, you can get stung. Still, they are God’s creatures, and they serve a purpose. Who doesn’t love honey? While up in Jacksonville, my boys stopped at a roadside stand and bought some honey with real honeycomb in it. They were so excited!

Yep! That is the outline of a frog on a big palmetto leaf! I welcome the frogs, because they kill bugs. Fall brings a welcome relief from the mosquitoes and other bugs that plague us in the summer. My fall/winter garden always does so much better than my summer garden because I don’t have so many issues with bugs eating my plants.

The frog up close

Now, while I won’t swim in the pool at this time of year because the water is too cold, that doesn’t stop my kids. And the beach is still good for walking and tanning for another month or so. While our “fall” may not bring the traditional reds, golds, and other colors that people think of when that season comes to mind, it is still one of my favorite times of year. It means the start of the holiday season, and nights spent by the fire pit roasting marshmallows with the ones I love. While I love to see the pictures of the beautiful trees in the northern parts of the country, I love what fall brings to my Florida home!

Fall sunset

To see how other members of the crew enjoy the outdoors in the fall where they live, click here:

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Getting it Together (Finally!)

Box day!! It’s a big day in the life of any homeschooler. You’ve ordered your materials, and now you have to (not so) patiently wait for them to arrive!! As you may know, we’ve had a series of struggles this year that have prevented us from getting all of our materials until now. We started the year with some borrowed curriculum and finishing up last year’s material. Well, we finally managed to save enough for me to get the rest of our stuff, and I am SO excited!!

I managed to find some really good deals too! I picked up my son’s high school core (MFW) on eBay for a good price. I had to replace about 5 books, but I still saved money overall. After that, I ordered from some of my favorite places, Amazon, Rainbow Resource, and Christian Book Distributors. With the free shipping deals I received, I was able to stretch my budget and even order a planner for each of my kids. In the past, I have printed out planner pages, but ink is expensive. I ordered planners for less than $10 each and I plan to just write their daily assignments in them. In a way, I think this will be easier for me, and the cost is much less than what I would spend on ink every year printing stuff out.

It’s funny, but with the arrival of our new books, I find my enthusiasm returning. I have to admit, I started the year off somewhat discouraged because we have just had such a hard time so far. But, God came through as He always does, and once again I find myself in awe of His awesome ability to provide. So, this week we officially get to move into our new stuff, and I think we are all excited. I caught my kids peeking at their new books when they got here!! I am still waiting for a box or two to arrive, so of course, whenever we see a UPS truck we all look out the window to see if the driver is coming to our house. πŸ™‚

I hope all of you have had a great start to your school year.

Too Much to Do, Not Enough Time

The topic of our blog cruise this week is “sneaking school into the busy days.” You know those days, we all have them. There may be two (or three) doctors appointments scheduled. Perhaps you need to visit a sick friend, drop something off to your husband at work, and go to the grocery store and the bank. You look at your planner and say “How are we going to get anything done?”

Well, the good thing about homeschooling is the flexibility. And this is how we squeeze in some school time on those days. First, I look at my plans and ask myself what absolutely needs to be done. For example, if we have a science experiment that day, I may move that to another day of the week. Completing an experiment in the car or on the go is difficult and will only stress me out, so its better to wait until I don’t have so much to do. If there are any time consuming hands on projects going on, I will also move those. Completing a lapbook in the doctor’s office waiting room isn’t going to happen.

Next, I decide what can be easily transported and pack that in a backpack. We have some textbook/workbook subjects like math (CLE) and grammar (ACE) which can be done pretty much anywhere. So we throw those in the backpack with some pencils and bring them with us. In general, my kids can bring their math, grammar, and science books with them. They then work on those while we sit in the waiting room.

The car is a great place for reading or discussion. Sometimes we will use the drive to review spelling words, discuss history projects, listen to a book on tape, or my kids will do their individual reading. They do have Nooks which they bring with them. These can also be used for reading and other school activities. If I know we are going to have a remarkably long wait, I will bring my laptop so my son can watch his math DVD.When in the grocery store, or running other errands, I try to use that time to review math facts and other things that can be done while walking and talking.

Now look, there are some days that are so crazy that all we actually get done is reading and some math, but that’s okay. The next day, when things calm down, we just pick up where we left off. I try not to stress too much on busy days. When I first started homeschooling it would really bother me if we didn’t get everything done, and it turned me into a crazy person. Life is messy, and I have learned to go with the flow. I know we will get done with what we need to by the end of the year. And I sometimes think that God allows interruptions to my schedule for a reason.

How do you school on busy days? Leave me a comment and let me know. To see what other crew members have to say on this topic, click here:

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Tips for Homeschooling on a Budget

Let’s face it, financially times are tough for just about everyone right now. There are months at my house that we struggle just to pay bills and get groceries, let alone have any extras. And I have blogged before about how every time I manage to save money for curriculum a disaster occurs and the money disappears. This year it was my husband’s illness and some emergency car repairs that ate it up. We all know that homeschooling is a big job, and while I admire those people who can just make up their own curriculum and stuff, I am not one of them. So, what do you do when it’s time to start school and there is no money in the bank to get materials? Well, this is some of what I did.

1. Reuse what you can from last year.
If you didn’t finish up last year’s stuff (which we didn’t), go ahead and use it to start your school year. My 7th grader is currently finishing up his 6th grade math, reading, science, and grammar while my 10th grader is finishing his history, Bible, and English from last year. I am hoping this will buy me some time to get the money I need to replace these subjects.

2. Network with homeschool friends.
I belong to two homeschool groups and I was able to get some curriculum through them this year. In one group, a friend of mine knew about the financial setbacks my family had faced. She has three kids, the oldest of whom is a senior this year. She offered to let me borrow some of her curriculum for this school year. I was able to get my oldest son Apologia biology and Chalkdust Geometry this way. The other homeschool group has a library where members can check out donated curriculum. I was able to get spelling and a couple of other things for my younger son this way. Since these items are on loan, I have to make sure we do not write in them or anything, but that is not a big deal. The fact is, borrowing curriculum in this way met some needs and saved quite a bit of money.

3. Search for used curriculum.
There are many websites where used curriculum is available. Homeschool classifieds is a good one. I also like the sale and swap boards at the Homeschool Reviews Forum. The Well Trained Mind forum also has a swap board you can check out. Another good idea is to check eBay. I searched for a few things there, and I still have my eye on a couple. Buying used curriculum can mean not getting all of the pieces, or perhaps having less than perfect books, but it’s better than having nothing. Many homeschoolers take good care of their books because they want to resell them later, so most of what you get is in good shape.

4. Focus on what’s necessary.
I LOVE curriculum! Seriously, I used to go to my state conference just so I could spend all day in the curriculum hall. There is SO much cool stuff I want to use with my kids! However, when facing a slim budget, you have to focus on what you really need. We cut down to the basics this year. While I love to include extras and electives, this year I just couldn’t. So it’s pretty much reading, writing, math, science, history, english (for my oldest) and bible. My oldest son has two electives because he needs them, but I found those subjects on eBay at a discount. While I would love to squeeze in some cool science kits I found for my younger son, they were more of an “extra” than a need. If I find some money later this year, I may pick one up, but if not, I know he is getting what he needs and that is what’s important.

I wish I had an unlimited budget for homeschool. There is just so much great stuff out there! Unfortunately, I don’t. So, while our year is not going the way I envisioned it in my head when I was planning last April, it is still moving forward. In a way, simplifying has made things a lot easier for me. There are still some things I need to get, but we are buying them piecemeal as we get extra funds. My kids are still learning and happy, and I know that God will provide a way for me to get the necessities to finish out the year!

Do you have a great tip or website to use for homeschooling on a budget? Let me know in the comments.

Living Frugally

Homeschool Budgeting 101

How does your garden grow?

Okay, when I was little, I grew up on a farm with my grandparents. They had about one acre of the property planted as a garden. Of course I helped pick beans, strawberries, and corn, but as an adult, I never really got into gardening myself. Honestly, it just seemed like more work than I wanted to do!! However, when we moved into the house we rent now, we got a really big backyard, and after visiting my mom and seeing her small garden, I decided we would give it a try. I asked my mom for advice, and she gave me some general ideas on what to plant and how to set things up, then she said “A lot of gardening is trial and error, you learn as you go.” Boy was she right!!

So we ordered our seeds and got very excited. We decided to grow herbs in pots and do a small square in the backyard for our garden. The first spring we planted tomatoes, green beens, lettuce, beans, spinach, onion, cucumbers, and cauliflower. I set up a rotation for watering with my kids, I did the feeding, and my hubby helped out picking weeds and stuff. We would check the garden everyday for signs of life and we were so excited to see our first sprouts!

Of course, as things began to grow, we did encounter a few problems. First of all, we realized we did not leave enough space for our larger vegetables. Also, we live in central Florida and the bugs and heat in the summer are brutal! The soil took a lot of work because it is so sandy. We must have turned eight bags of soil into our plot just to get started. Some of our stuff, like the herbs and lettuce did really well. Unfortunately our tomatoes and cucumbers got eaten up by bugs and birds!

Chives and cilantro!

Leaf lettuce!

In the fall, we decided to make a few changes. First, we created separate, smaller beds for our beans, tomatoes, and cucumbers. We also scoured the internet and pinterest for bug-repellant ideas. So far, we are still fighting the bug battle! We did discover that fall is a much easier time to garden in our part of the country. First, it’s not so incredibly hot, and there are not as much bugs to eat the plants. We had success with our beans, broccoli, lettuce, and squash. Our herbs and potted plants also did well.

Butternut squash on the vine.

Some of our harvest:

I still haven’t been able to grow spinach, which is a disappointment because I love to eat it. I think it may just be too hot down here in general. Next year I am also going to start my onions from bulbs rather than seeds. Also, I saw that the Burpee catalog has a special type of corn that grows in a pot, so I may have to give that a try. I have learned that my mom was absolutely right, as you try to grow things you learn a little about what works and what doesn’t each time. I also learned that I was right, gardening is a lot of hard work!! However, there is something so satisfying about it all, and I love using my own herbs and veggies when I cook. Hopefully our next garden will be even more successful than the last one.

Starting the Year Off Right

It’s that time again…we are getting back to school! I have to say, I am partially relieved that we will be returning to a normal schedule. Summer is fun, but after a while the disorder kind of gets to me. However, I am also a little worried because I am not quite ready to start yet. It’s okay though, I plan to get that all worked out soon.

Our topic for this week’s blog cruise is “Back to Homeschool Traditions”. We do have some special things we do each year to get out school year started. We live on the East coast of Florida close to the beach. Each year, our homeschool group has a “Beach Breakfast Kickoff” to celebrate the start of the new year. Basically all the members of the group get together at the beach in the morning and brings a dish to share. After we eat all the families hang out and have a good time catching up with each other. The celebration is held on the first day of the official school year for public school students in our county. Even though we have some year-round homeschoolers in our group, they still come to the breakfast just for fun. My kids look forward to this every year as a chance to see their friends after our summer break and have fun on the beach.

Now, we don’t always start our personal school year on this day. Usually we start about two weeks after that. So, on the first day of our school year at home me, my kids, and my husband (if he is off work) go to a favorite local restaurant for breakfast. Our first day is usually an introduction to all of the things my kids will be doing during the year, so it’s pretty relaxed. My kids also look forward to going to breakfast every year, and we have a tradition of going out to the same place on the last day of every school year as well.

I love creating our own special traditions for our family. It’s just another part of why we homeschool. Do you have any traditions to start your school year? Let me know in the comments and check out what my other Crew members had to say here:

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Winging It

So here we are, a week away from starting school, and I am still piecing it together. This has never happened before. I always have all of our curriculum picked out and ready to go! Unfortunately, we have had a crazy year, and the money I had saved up for curriculum had to go to other things. So, I have been waiting and praying for God to provide some stuff for us to work with, and of course, He has.

I have a friend with two high schoolers who is going to lend me some of her stuff. She has a math and science I can borrow for my oldest son. While the programs may not have been what I picked, I am just thankful that we have something we can use. And who knows? Maybe we will end up loving both programs! I still have to work on history/English with him. We used MFW Ancients last year, and we both LOVED it. I really want to continue his high school with them, but the program is expensive. For now, I am going to have him finish up last year’s program (he still has six weeks left) and hope that I will be able to get the money together to purchase their World History in the next month or so.

For my youngest, we are also going to start the year finishing up what we did not get to for last year’s curriculum and use stuff I have received from the TOS Crew (which has been such a huge blessing for us πŸ™‚ ). We did finish up our science, and we only have a couple of books left in CLE Math, but that isn’t too expensive, so I hope to be able to buy that soon. I also want to get the fourth book in the Apologia Worldview series, as we have already done the first three and loved them.

My friend invited me to join her homeschool co-op this year, and they too have a library where you can check out curriculum for the year, so I am hoping to find some things I can use there.

I have to say, “winging it” is not really my style. I am WAY outside of my comfort zone here. But I think that maybe God is trying to teach me something here. I get very “focused” on our curriculum and everything for school, and I think maybe He wants me to lean more on Him than on my books. He is showing me that He will provide what my kids need to learn, and I just have to let Him lead the way.

So, I am trying not to panic right now. I am working on (finally!) filing all of my leftover papers from last year, and once I collect all my borrowed stuff I will spend this weekend getting ready for Monday. I keep telling myself I am NOT going to worry or stress over this. My children WILL learn and I don’t have to have a “set” curriculum for them to do so. (even though I just love having books to work with! LOL) And as time goes on and we get back on our feet, the Lord will provide a way for me to purchase those things that I absolutely need. Dependence on Him is what is important, and if I can just teach my kids that lesson I will be satisfied.

What I Wish I Had Known

This is me as a little girl in the 1970s. I believe I was playing in my nanas living room in Fort Lauderdale at the time. It has been many moons since this photo was taken (LOL) and tomorrow is my birthday. As I approach (gasp!) 40, I have been doing some thinking about where I am now, and the things I wish I had known when I was younger.

The Cinderella dress my Nana made me. I wore it everywhere.

My childhood was…nontraditional, I guess you could say. I was mostly raised by my grandparents, who are the two most incredible people I have ever known. Growing up, there was a lot of instability in my life…and it made it hard for me to trust people as I got older. I wish I could tell my younger self that not all people are the same..and that letting go of past hurts is really the only way to give yourself a better life in the future.

On vacation in NC. Still my happy place..but what is up with the sweats and black boots?

I spent a lot of time worrying when I was little..about all kinds of stuff. Unfortunately, that is a hard habit to break and I still struggle with it as an adult. The thing is though, worrying really doesn’t get you anywhere. When you are in a situation that is outside of your control, excessive amounts of time spent worrying and obsessing over it will not change the outcome. So I would tell myself to worry less and try to enjoy the moment more.

In the back of nana’s car on a road trip back from California. We took lots of road trips. (and no, back then I never wore a seatbelt)

One thing I loved about living with my grandparents is that we took a road trip to somewhere every summer. My grandparents did not like to fly, so we loaded up the car and drove (literally) all over the country. I’ve driven from Florida to California and back, through the northern states, and into the midwest. Those are some of the most treasured memories I have of my childhood. As an adult, I find I often let “busyness” get in the way of doing some of the same things with my kids. It’s always “we’ll do that next year”. Well, you know what? None of us is guaranteed next year, and that fact becomes more painstakingly obvious the older I get. I would tell my younger self to stop putting off those things you want to do with your family because you are waiting for the right time. Do them now!!

College graduation

When I graduated college, I wish I could say I was strong and confident, but that just isn’t true. I was an insecure mess of a girl who was so worried about being what everyone thought I should be that I drove myself crazy. I would do what other people expected of me, and I almost always ended up unhappy. The thing is, most of the people I was trying to please, were not nearly as concerned about my feelings as they were their own. Being older now I have come to realize that what others think is not as important as you being true to yourself, bringing honor to the Lord, and taking care of your family. I would tell my younger self to be less worried about what others think, and to choose more carefully who it is you are trying to please. Also, there is nothing wrong with withdrawing from a relationship that does not influence you for good. Sometimes you can love people dearly, but the relationship with them can be toxic, and that’s not a good situation for anyone.

Me as a young mom with my oldest boy.

One of the biggest things I would tell myself as a twenty something year old mom is that yes, children are the greatest gift ever. When you have kids, there is nothing on earth that you will do that is more important than raising them. At first, I worked when my kids were born, because I thought that was what I was supposed to do. But in my heart, all I wanted was to be with them. When I finally gave in to what God had placed on my heart, and left my classroom for home, it was almost like a euphoric feeling. No, it isn’t easy being with my kids 24/7..yes, sometimes I want to pull my hair out. But at the end of the day, nothing is more satisfying than spending time with them. And, as I get older, so do they. I realize now how quickly childhood passes. I know it doesn’t seem like it when you are stuck in what feels like never-ending toddlerhood, but there will be days when you miss it. I would tell my younger self to stress out less, and enjoy just being there with them more. Kids don’t need a perfect mom with a spotless house and gourmet meals on the table…they just need a mom who loves them and is there with them.

Me and my best friend at girls bowling night.

As a younger mom, I was also pretty isolated. My husband is gone for 24 to 48 hours at a time for work, and I am often alone. Now, I am the kind of person who is okay with being by herself. I can read a book, play on the computer, do stuff around the house etc. etc. Really, I could pretty much be a hermit if I let myself. The thing is, we were created to interact with other people, and I remember being lonely a lot. The problem is, I still have a hard time getting close to others..you could say I’m one of those “slow to warm up” types I guess. The good thing is, as my kids have grown up, they have started friendships with other kids that has led me to have friendships with their moms. I have a core group of about five ladies that I am very close too. We are all busy moms, so we don’t “hang out” all the time. But we do talk and text, and occasionally schedule a moms night. My best friend and I talk every day. We both have boys that are the same age, and they have known each other forever and they are best friends too, as are our husbands, so it makes it really easy to hang out for dinner and stuff. My friends are important to me for so many reasons. As a mom, sometimes you just need to talk to another mom about stuff. Me and my friends come alongside each other for laughter and tears. We encourage each other, we pray for each other, and we are there for each other. I think my life 10 to 20 years ago would have been less difficult if I had allowed myself to make a few friends, so I would go back and tell myself to do so.

Thinking about it now, there is no way I would want to go back to my twenties. I am so much happier with my life and who I am now. But as we get older, obviously, we learn some things about what is truly important and what is not. My life has not always been easy, but God has blessed me in so many ways. And you know what? It is often my trials that have taught me the most. So I guess the final thing I would tell my younger self is to just hold on. Even when you are in the middle of a storm, God is there and He is working. Even though you cannot imagine how the situation you are in could ever possibly be used for good, it CAN. I have seen it so many times in my own life, and I know that I would not be where I am today if it were not for some of the stuff I have been through. So today, I am thankful for this life I have, and very very glad for all the lessons I have learned.

Things I Love About Summer

I’ll admit it, I am one of those people who loves every season! In the fall I love the cooler weather and the pumpkins, in the winter I love sitting outside by the fire and celebrating the holidays, and spring brings welcome relief from the cold. Right now, summer is my FAVORITE season. There is just something about the lazy days with nothing important to do. Here are some of my favorite things about summer!

Family time in the pool! Florida is really hot right about now…90 degrees or higher every day. We are fortunate to have a house with a pool, and we take advantage of it! On my husband’s days off, he hangs out with us too. We play games and swim and just enjoy some hang out time together.

Beach days!! We live about 10 minutes from the beach and we spend a lot of time hanging out with friends there. (After all, the beach is free πŸ™‚ ). For the 4th of July this year we spent the day surfing, boogie boarding, and playing in the waves. We also love to bring our portable grill and cook up some hot dogs while we are there. Being residents, we know the importance of a beach tent to keep you cool and out of the sun, so we and some of our friends set them up and make a day of it.

In the summer, the carnival comes to town! Heading out to the fair brings back memories of my childhood. The carnivals around here run for a couple of weeks, and they usually have a night when the families of local police officers and firefighters get in for a discounted price. We make sure to take advantage of that or any other offers we find. The last carnival had a great clown show the kids enjoyed, and of course, there are the rides and the food. It’s a pretty fun family night for us.

Afternoon thunderstorms are my next favorite thing about summer. We get them pretty much every day for the season. To me, there is nothing better than curling up in my comfy chair with a good book and listening to the rain come down. If my kids are bored we will watch a movie or play a game while it thunders outside.

Those are some of my favorite things about summer. What are yours? Let me know in the comments!

Peace

This is the view from my balcony in Lake Lure, North Carolina. I have been going on vacation there every year since I was seven years old. My grandparents bought a timeshare and passed it on to me and my husband when we got married. It is the best vacation spot ever!! We live on the East coast of Florida, so we are at the beach all the time, and I love it. However, there is just something about the mountains that speaks to me in my soul. It reminds me of the passage in 1 Kings 19, where Elijah hears God speak, not in the fire, nor in the earthquake, but in the gentle whisper that comes after. When I sit on this balcony and listen to the wind whisper through the trees, that is how I picture this passage.

If you have been reading my blog, you know we have some serious issues going in my family in relation to my husband’s health. I have not been feeling at peace in a long time, so this vacation was much needed. It was so nice for me to sit on my balcony, spend time in the Word, and just talk to God. We also got some serious family time to relax and have fun. We haven’t done that in a long time either.

My kids played mini golf and horseshoes and corn hole. And we kayaked and hung out at the pool. Even my hubby was relaxed (which hasn’t happened in a while). We are an outdoors family, and we love to enjoy nature together. We take a deer walk at least once in the evening while we are there. This time, we were blessed to see about seven deer playing and chasing each other on the golf course. We also visited the Pisgah National Forest, which is beautiful, and spent some time hiking and exploring there.

When we were sadly leaving Saturday morning, we were fortunate to see two young bucks along the road on our way home. I took that as a good sign. I feel rested now, but I have to admit that coming home has brought me back to reality. My husband is at the Mayo clinic in Jacksonville right now undergoing tests to see if we can find a treatment for this illness he is dealing with. Up to this point, I have held on to the fact that we have no expert diagnosis, and so maybe things are not as bad as they seem. The fact is, by the end of the week, we should know exactly what is going on, good or bad. Sigh…and that’s the crux of it…I am holding on to the hope for something good. Maybe the doctors were wrong…maybe there is something we can do to make this better…but what if that is not the case?? what then??

It is really too much for me to absorb at the moment. So, I am going to try desperately to hold on to this feeling of peace that I got while sitting on my balcony. I am going to remember the sound of the crickets, and the bullfrogs, and the wind whispering through the trees. I am going to remember that it is God who is in control of all things, and that He promises to work all things for our good. And I am just going to wait and hold on.

Waiting….

Have you ever heard the song “Waiting” by Tom Petty? The chorus has one line that describes where I am at right now, “The waiting is the hardest part”. Yeah, yeah it is. If you have been reading my blog lately, you know that my hubby has been struggling with his health. Right now we are in a holding pattern, waiting until later this month when he goes to his appointment with a specialist. I am both looking forward to, and dreading this appointment for a number of reasons. Mainly, looking forward to it because I am hoping we will at least finally have a firm answer for what is going on. Seriously, the not knowing, and second guessing, is driving us both crazy. How can we plan for treatment, or the future, or anything, when we don’t really know what’s going on? Then again, I am also partially dreading the appointment, because what if the answer is all of my worst fears realized? I don’t know how I will deal with that. Sigh….in the meantime, we are stuck here…waiting, as time moves on ever so slowly.

So, I have been trying to keep myself busy in the meantime. Of course, spending time in prayer and in the Word are regular activities, but these are other things I do to fill the time. These are some things I have come up with to do while you are waiting:

1. Clean the house.
2. Organize the closet.
3. Sort through last years homeschool stuff and decide what to keep and what to get rid of.
4. Go through your books and decide which ones will make nice donations for the library.
5. Ditto for clothes…only donate to Goodwill.
6. Read a book that has been on your “want to read list” but you haven’t gotten to yet.
7. Work on your garden or front yard.
8. Organize your recipes.
9. Meet that friend of yours for lunch like you have been meaning to.
10. Catch up on a television show on Netflix.

So, that’s what I am doing right now. Trying to fill time and take my mind off all of the crazy possibilities. Do you have any suggestions on what to do when you are waiting on something big? if you do, leave me a comment.