I am infinitely blessed to have been in this glorious life for 33 circles around the sun. I do not take it for granted.
I’ve really got it all. I am so thankful for every moment.
Cheers to 33!
I am infinitely blessed to have been in this glorious life for 33 circles around the sun. I do not take it for granted.
I’ve really got it all. I am so thankful for every moment.
Cheers to 33!
I’m watching my chickens hustle around foraging in the yard and I can’t help but admire their industriousness. Everyone likes to joke about how dumb chickens are but they are actually very intelligent animals. Did you know they can recognize up to 100 human faces? And it’s suspected they have names for each other? It didn’t take me long to figure how smart they are as soon as they left their brooder and we had to keep them contained outside. Despite having food available to them 24/7 their foraging instincts are so strong we’ve found our most rascally chicken scaling the fencing with her legs! They also come when called, which is very handy.
Watching the chickens be so self sufficient inspires me. Any time I try another project to experiment with self reliance I am always astonished at how much work it is. It is a good idea for me to read books about farmers and their experiences because it is sobering to say the least.
While I may not be self sufficient I am happy with the baby steps I’ve been taking to use the land we have more effectively; slowly transforming our large spaces of grass into something that will produce food or medicine. After all, lawns are gross waste of space, water, and money. The biggest issue I face in is process is the quality of our soil. I’ve always container gardened or brought in outside dirt for my raised beds because there is no way of knowing what our soil was treated with in the past.
Many chemicals used to kill ”weeds” stay in the soil for decades. I am sure our soil is very poor, since it cannot retain water well and is hard as a rock. I’ve been reading a book my mom recommend called Dirt to Soil which has put the breaks on me taking a tiller to the whole yard because it would destroy the soil’s natural microbIology, but since I bought myself some organic tillers a few years ago, but I’ve decided to put them to more effective use.
Chickens are the best tillers in the world. Now that the fall has rolled in with the smoke here in Western Washington, the kids are not outside much- a perfect time for me to experiment with the yard. The goal is to have the chickens till the whole yard slowly over the course of the fall, then once the rains and snows hit, they will go back to their ”winter pasture” and the soil has the chance to deep soak all the moisture nature provides. If the chickens till and fertilize effectively, the soil should be primed for the microbiology to make a better come back. We have a good amount of grass and clover intermixed, but if I am able to add in more diversity, our soil will be able to heal which means, it will be useable soil. I experimented with this method last fall, but I made a mistake and didn’t rotate the coop frequently enough. The grass came back really well despite the ravaging chickens. I didn’t water it even once this summer and it is just now (at the beginning to September) starting to turn brown. This tells me that it held moisture okay, but it could be improved.
Forests never get watered in this part of the state, and they stay lush and green all year. So, by letting the chickens do their thing again this fall, and adding more plant diversity to the soil, I hope to be able to keep a kid and chicken friendly “yard” while being able to produce more food AND have the space be attractive to the eye. Totally reasonable right?! Ha ha! While I’m not sure how long it will take to achieve my end goal, I have already had such success seeing more green in the past year that I can help but feel hopeful. I’ll be sure to keep you updated.
I hope your fall is off to a wonderful start. Our schedule is about to get more busy with our extra curricular activities, so I’m soaking up these last few days of a slow paced week. And of course, taking all the extra time to squeeze in all the homesteading projects! Here is to a industrious autumnal season.
Happy Fall Ya’ll!
When I pictured having kids I had no idea what I was in for. I never imagined that busy summer days with my children could be so full of love and joy. I cannot imagine a better life than raising these little hooligans. Are you having a good summer friends? I hope yours has been filled with sunshine and laughter.
We finished 2nd grade and 4th grade with relief that a break was here. During the respite we did what everyone does in the summer; jam pack our days with adventures, plans, and preparing for the next school year. It only took me about two weeks to be excited to start back up, so I spent the rest of our break preparing for 3rd, 5th grade and, hm…pre-pre- school. I am glad to get a good head start before any online classes and clubs start. As it is we still have piano and baseball through the summer, the latter filling all our evenings during the week.
We usually start our days with school but the beauty of schooling through the summer is that in addition not having a significant memory lapse in learning, those days that are too hot to enjoy the outdoors can also be spent productively.
Somedays during the summer we don’t school in the mornings, but head out and pick fruit or hike before the 90 degree heat does us in. Then, we will spend the heat of the day leisurely getting our work done. Here is how our school day breaks down:
Keep in mind this is the schedule for most days, but once our clubs start in the fall along with a few online classes, the evenings will also start to have their own schedule, in addition to juggling things around one morning a week. It’s a blessing to be so flexible with our schedule, particularly if a great opportunity opens up, like C’s IEW writing class, offered by a stellar veteran teacher on a invitation only bases- that’s something we will gladly change the schedule up for! Another great thing about homeschooling- we aren’t tied to one particular option. We can search out the best solutions for any given subject, a schooling buffet, if you will.
I can bet some of you are wondering, ”what does your toddler do this whole time?!” Well, obviously she just quietly plays by herself, sometimes asking for different Mozart CD. Just kidding!! She’s such an easy kid, I really don’t have any complaints, but that might be because I don’t expect her to be anything other than a toddler. We have her own little ”school basket” she plays with, and she loves to do her ”work” stations that I’ve discussed before in a previous post . During individual time I will occasionally have one of the big kids ride bikes with her, push her in a swing, or read her books. If they are really patient with her and put in extra effort, they have the chance to earn “special time coupons”. These coupons can be cashed in with me or Husband for extra one on one time at night. During most of the day, between helping spell words or reading aloud our history book, the big kids work on their own. I relish the little moments of summer with Pickle during these times. Sometimes we eat blueberries or raspberries off our bushes while I push her in the swing, or chat with the chickens while collecting eggs, or we putter in the garden counting how many slugs we’ve caught in the beer trap. The bigs are at an age where I need to facilitate chunks of quiet time for them to get their work done, rather than having to be so hands on with each subject. Sweet backyard times with Pickle are a win-win.
I think it is super important to always keep yourself in a growth mindset. In my case I need to stay positive and avoid stagnation with homeschooling and our health. If I get lazy or unmotivated, we all suffer! Naturally I think the best way to expand skills, mindsets, and knowledge is by reading. Hey, it’s not just my opinion, seriously! So, to stay excited about homeschooling and to stay vigilant with our health I make sure I’m always reading at least one ”work” book aka, something that’s educational. Here are some books I’m reading right now;
The Dirt Cure – highly recommended if you’re ever on the fence about focusing on food over medication, or if you need more encouragement to stay the course of healthy food choices. Written by a pediatric neurologist mother.
Let Them Be Kids– light hearted and full of good reminders. Particularly good if you feel like you need some parental encouragement, or a few tips and tricks.
How the Irish Saved Civilization– brilliant book. I haven’t been this hooked on a book in years. You’re never too old to learn history. Can’t recommend this book enough.
I think reading three books at once is probably enough don’t you? Well, three, not counting the book I’m reading aloud to the big kids, the dozen or so picture books I read to the toddler daily, and all our schooling read alouds. Reading is certainly the heart beat of this homeschool family, let me tell ya.
I hope this is your best summer yet folks. It has already been one for the books for us and it’s only half way through! We look forward to more adventures, bike rides, school projects, and sunny days at the beach.
I have not done a furniture project in ages (assembling Ikea and used furniture for the kids rooms doesn’t count!) and am excited to show you how I updated our living room coffee table.
Okay, so technically this is kinda of a second flip, because I bought this coffee table off of OfferUp ages ago and the woman who I bought it from had flipped it after getting it at a second hand store. Anyways, long story short, I decided to redo this coffee table because the wear of 8ish years was really starting to show. Between toddler dance parties a top it, ice cream movie nights, and fierce card games, this thing has stayed strong and sturdy which is fantastic, but the paint was rapidly declining from “distressed” to IN distress.
The top was black and the legs were white and that black just showed every speck of dust and dirt. I didn’t really have a vision, but I knew I didn’t want to have to buy any supplies, and I needed it to be a project that I could get done quickly so that it wouldn’t distract from the busy schedule.
Husband has two huge sanders in his shop and naturally, C found it for me and plugged it in when I mentioned I wanted to start the project- he’s so helpful with tools! This sander… it is amazing. The whole coffee table was stripped in 20 minutes. I.am.a.FAN.
I really like natural wood, but that stripped color wasn’t quite right; it was just a tad pale. I thought of ways I could keep the natural look but darken it up a bit without spending any money on stain. Luckily, I have a bit of experience with natural dyes and oo lala, coffee to the rescue! I brewed up some strong black coffee and poured it all over the table and let it sit for about 30 minutes, then I rubbed it in really well and did it again.
I left the black paint in the lines you see there on the top and sides because I really liked the look. After the coffee throughly dried I got my wood burning pen and wrote our names on the top. Kinda spontaneous and fun. I don’t have any plans to get rid of the coffee table since it is one of our most solid pieces of furniture, so I thought, why not?
I got the wood burning pen years ago so that I could inscribe the year on a wood round from each of our Christmas tree trunks. They then become ornaments. It is a really special tradition.
I love the rustic feel and the imperfections of the sanding, I think it adds to the charm. However, it’s not all about charm, I need this table to last, so I sealed it with A’s help with two coats of clear wax. I was really pleased with how well the wax went on and how well it dried. It repels spills really well- yep, it was inside for two hours before it was unintentionally tested with a pouch of apple sauce.
I really hope it olds up well. I am happy it was such a quick and easy project.
Have a great weekend friends!
There certainly is a magic in rearranging your space isn’t there? Nothing like a new coat of paint or tossing out a pile of clutter, am I right? As much as I like to decorate and refresh our home, I rarely get the time to do it. But necessity is the mother of invention, and with school coming to a close I had to make time to start the big project of switching A and C’s rooms.
Lil C is 2 and a half and around this age we start thinking about a “big kid” bed for the gradual transition she will be making to sharing a room with A. I’m not fooling myself, I know Pickle will be sleeping near me (for at least most of the night) for a good while yet. We all embrace this. Our philosophy is; let them be little. In the mean time, she can start having a more concrete space for her toys, books, and clothes. Where toddler property laws are concerned, if they like it, it’s theirs! A bedroom space helps solidify the concept that there are Pickle things, and there are Miss A’s things, and that it’s okay to not share all the time. To accommodate for both girls and all their things, it was necessary to swap C and A’s rooms. They were both very excited for this change much to my relief. The process took me a couple of weeks, fitting in painting, shopping for and assembling furniture, and sorting toys and clothes in between school and guild prep.. you get the idea- it has been hectic.
As a family of five in 1000 square feet of living space, we have to get creative with storage solutions. Since hacking small spaces is super “in” these days there are quite a bit of resources and inspiration online, however, doing so amidst the current price surges and supply chain issues is a whole other kettle of fish. To solve this problem I had to plan ahead, compromise on some furniture choices, and go with used options. I appreciated the opportunity to be frugal and resourceful but I’d be lying if said it all turned out exactly how I envisioned. But the deviation from the vision wasn’t all because of the current market.
As kids get older they have the audacity to start to get opinions, so despite what my Pinterest boards looked like, C and A had different ideas. Don’t get me wrong it’s their rooms, their choice, within reason of course. So while wildflower wall paper and off white walls is what I thought the girls would like, the overwhelming vote was for purple, pink, and gold. I have to admit, it reflects their girly style and colorful personalities very well. C was confident he wanted black walls but once I said no to that he wanted white. Less is more with this almost pre-teen; I was told more than once very nicely that a few of his past decorations in his room he did not want to use again because they, ”are kind of little kid ish, Mom.” *sniff* Growing up too fast I tell ya.
That’s what has been keeping me pretty busy these days! I am lucky to have such helpful kiddos. C even assembled some of the furniture by himself! Miss A is always so helpful with Pickle entertaining while I paint. The project took me longer than I’d like, but I am really proud of all the hard work the kids did to help make their new rooms happen. They each got chances to work on assembling things, and they both learned how to prep for painting a room and helped me with that in both rooms. Most importantly, they are thrilled with the new look and updated space.
Summer is almost here, and with school and our big extra curricular commitments are almost finished, we start our summer sports and prep for 3rd and 5th grade. With the bedrooms refreshed and a little more time on my hands (hopefully for a couple weeks) I look forward to writing more about our adventures home and abroad.
This smoothie is perfect for an afternoon treat or dessert. It has a a sneaky serving of veggies which give a lovely color as well! The sweet Forager yogurt gives a boost of probiotics and keeps the dairy free folk feeling well. Pro tip: This yogurt also works really well for granola as a dairy free milk substitute if you don’t like other alternative milks.
1 cup of Forager Organic Dairy-free Probiotic Cashewmilk Yogurt Vanilla Bean
3 scoops of Vital Proteins collagen peptides
2 cups of frozen mango
3 medium sized carrots
1 cup of filter water
handful of ice
Oh, my lanta. It has been a whirlwind around here lately. Between winding down the 2nd and 4th grade (hey, Saxon math, WHY do you introduce all the hardest material at the END of the year?!) and all of our 4H events and presentations starting up, oh, and let’s toss in piano Guild Auditions for good measure (HA! Get it?!), I’ve been jam packed each and every day. Probably the remedy is more detailed to do lists, right? Right. And some deep breathing. Whew.
I promised I’d share some of our Easter traditions and I don’t want to miss the opportunity to document this years’ as it was wonderful. Easter celebration traditions start on Holy Thursday for us, with celebrating the Last Supper. The main dish after the ceremony is pierogi, and I’ll tell yoy- its been no small feat to figure out a recipe that works for our family.
On Good Friday we always do the stations of the cross. While we clean the whole week extensively in preparation of Easter, we make sure we have a quite hour on Friday, a time when i encourage the kids to do some spiritual reading.
On Holy Saturday we always make Resurrection Rolls and has been one of our own traditions we started ourselves. I’ve since made my own recipe and use my own marshmallows but the link above will give you an idea pf how it all works.
Easter morning the kids wake up to find their Easter baskets and the
mad rush procession of haste ensues in order to get to church and to add all the last minute food preparations for the festivities. Needless to say, I usually give the kids smoothies for breakfast- something quick and nutritious to off set some of the sugar of the day.
During Holy Week we don’t just clean and do yard work- we also prepare decorations. Of course we dye eggs (I cannot wait till the bigs are ready for Pysanky, I absolutely loved doing them for Easter) and we make some Easter themed art.
During the week we also participated in a local event put on by the parks and recreation department where we search for a bunch of bunny cut outs at various parks. It was really fun!
Then, because the week wasn’t busy enough, haha, our 4H club had a petting zoo event on Holy Saturday. I hope this becomes a tradition, it was a great experience for the kids and I’ve always wanted to be a family that volunteers together.
Can it even be Easter if you don’t have lovely new Easter dresses for your adorable little girls or a snazzy outfit for your handsome little man? I think not.
Our Easter traditions focus quite a bit on food, probably because we abstain from so many foods during Lent. Being free from the top allergies is the most challenging during Eastertide because so many of the traditional celebratory foods use dairy, eggs, and gluten. I’ll not lie to you- it’s very difficult and time consuming to bake without those things. However, there are still plenty of treats to be had. This year I made a vegan and gluten free lamb cake, an allergen friendly version of one I had growing up, a vegan sourdough pascha bread taking from the Ukrainian tradition that I grew up with, and a sourdough vegan chocolate babka. I make the lamb cake and pascha every year without fail- they are a staple of our Easter traditions! In addition to the foods from my childhood, I made vegan gluten free donuts and a gluten free vegan blueberry coffee cake. We had a decadent spread!
This donut recipe is a keeper, I plan on making them and the coffee cake a new yearly tradition.
Above you can see that our Lenten cross red candles get replaced with white for Easter. And it’s not Easter if the house isn’t decked out in lilies. Why? Because part of the miracle of Christ’s resurrection was that when the tomb was entered, the smell of lilies was overwhelming despite lilies being out of season.
How blessed are we?! I hope you had a wonderful and joy filled Easter celebration friends.
A week ago the kids and I were really brave and we went on our longest field trip yet to Rocky Reach Dam. C is in his engineering unit in science so this was a perfect field trip! My parents and a few of my sisters came with us and my parents graciously hosted us at their cabin for two nights.
I’ve never been this far with the three kids by myself so I was nervous, but excited to feel empowered by the independence. You might be thinking, ”Um, what’s so hard about a three hour drive?” Well, when my kids are little, from newborn to about 4, they really, really struggle with car rides. My babies were never the ones you’d toss in the carseat and drive around for nap time, no sir. However, Pickle was a champ on the all the car rides on our adventure.
I was so grateful for all the help from my parents and sisters. The bigs even got the option to swim in Lake Chelan, and believe it or not they swam for hours- in APRIL! Lake Chelan is glacier fed so it was quite a feat.
I had prepared some worksheets on kinetic energy that we went over the night before we toured the dam, so I hope the kids were able to have a enriching experience and retain some information. This dam is impressive and unique- it generates enough energy to sell power to four other states!
It’s not a trip to Eastern Washington without a trip to Anjou Bakery. If you get the chance, you really should go, it’s delish!
While we had a sunny and hot day when we went to the dam, the next day it snowed on the way home over the pass and in Cle Elum! It was quite fun.
I was so proud of Pickle for being a patient traveler, and I was so incredibly grateful to C and A for being so helpful. The trip was a blast with my Adventure Crew! We came home and started our spring break during Holy Week because there was a lot to do to prepare for Easter!! Stay tuned for a post on our Easter traditions ranging from babkas to bunnies and Resurrection rolls to deep cleaning.
Sometimes we need an easy win, right? More often than not food can be a contention between parent and child. Sometimes it’s the type of food, sometimes it’s the way the food is presented. I’d say my greatest struggle with food and kids is when we are out and about craving a treat, and I have not prepared something in advance.
Now we won’t go into anaphylactic shock if we eat certain foods, but if we make our particular sensitivities a habit the effects will be devastating, short term and long term. So, when I get stuck with not great food options, I feel extra lousy because it’s a product of my poor planning. The kids know certain choices aren’t good for them (they can feel it instantly!), and yet they want them so bad and when they don’t have something to fall back on- cue the understandable bad tempers. Guilty frustrated mom, hungry frustrated kids: it’s a crummy situation overall folks. Luckily, there is a way to prevent that. My ”easy win” is pre-packed treat boxes full of things my kids have picked out at Costco. They’ve read all the labels and been empowered to make “treat” choices within our diet restrictions. Once we are at home we portion and prepare the snacks popping them into handy glass or stainless steel containers then store them in the fridge. Boy, does it help with all our hikes, piano lessons, library trips, Field Trip Fridays, to and from church, 4h meetings- pretty much anywhere the snack cravings hit! The one rule we like to follow is that these are for on-the-go only, otherwise none of the leftovers at home would get eaten, haha!
Let me show you some of our favorite snacks.
That’s all for now folks! What treats do you prepare so that you can have something quick and healthy on hand?
Do I already have Easter baskets assembled for the kids? You bet your hot cross buns I do! I get endless teasing for how early I do things but I simply do not care. There is peace in planning and I get better deals if I gather things throughout the year for their baskets. Yes, you read that right, I got some of these things last year on a clearance sale. Don’t worry, I don’t get the candy a year in advance, haha!
There is nothing I love more than putting together a Easter basket for my kiddos. This is a tradition that I am so glad that Husband brought into our family from his childhood. This year I thought I’d do a little peak into what I usually do for their baskets. While it’s tempting to fill it with a lot of toys and tons of candy, I bet you can imagine that I tend to err on the side of practicality- you’re right! However, I’m not a total curmudgeon and I have some really great brands I recommend for candy options; No Whey, Choc No No’s, Yum Earth, Enjoy Life, UnReal, Project 7, and Smart Sweets.
Naturally, it wouldn’t be a gift giving situation for my kiddos if it didn’t involve BOOKS! Gotta have some good reads with those treats. This year the bigs are getting their own Bibles. They were due for something more substantial since they haven’t gotten a Bible since their toddlerhood. C also is getting Ember Green, a new series I’m excited for him to start, Dinotopia, and a Trixie Belden mystery. Miss A is getting a Trixie Belden, The Jolly Postman, and Just Plain Fancy. Pickle is getting giant coloring book for church and a WaterWow. Pickle is also getting some chalk for our outdoor chalk board- can’t wait to use that more again, she’s going to really enjoy it this year.
All three are getting matching summer pjs and some neat homeschooling t shirts with different sayings on them. C’s says, “Join the resistance, homeschool” in StarWars print and he’s just gonna love it! A is getting a shirt that says, “Not all classrooms have four walls” and Pickle’s shirt says, “The world is my classroom.” I think that they are gonna love them!
I splurged on the super cute wooden bunny name tags, but I figure it’s okay because all the baskets were thrifted, right?
Planning Easter was never so fun! I can’t wait for the baking and cleaning frenzy to start. For Catholics in particular, Easter is our jam, much bigger than Christmas! We are the Easter people! I try to make Easter as big of deal as possible. The practical part of assembling the Easter baskets early is to mentally check it off. That way I don’t end up buying all the cute spring nicknacks that flood the stores and am more intentional about their gifts.