Homeschooling Month 4?!?!

It’s hard to believe we are now 17 weeks in to Busch Academy! I have to say, it’s going really well! We had a great third month and are starting to find a rhythm that really works for us.

I get asked all the time if this is something I would consider continuing even after the pandemic. The first month my answer was -No Way. My main reasons were because of the office situation with my work-from-home-husband. I felt like the kids had to be too quiet and it was really difficult. Now his office is in our bedroom. I can’t say this is a great permanent solution, but for now it helps. Another reason I didn’t want to continue homeschooling was because my children (one in particular) weren’t being very cooperative. I knew they were great students in public school, but they didn’t want to listen or take instruction from me. It was like pulling teeth! Great news though, I’ve seen tremendous breakthrough in this area. We definitely have some academical hurdles we are facing, but at least we are all on the same page and giving it our best effort as a team (most of the time).

I mentioned in my last post that I love the flexibility of homeschooling. I like being able to hit up parks, museums, and fun places at off peak hours, but there is so much more that I geniunly find fulfulling. I am learning and discovering right along with my kids and it’s given me a new outlook on life.

Most weeks I have one theme planned to focus on, like when we did handwriting, or the Constitution. We have other lessons for sure, but this is our extra suplemental learning on top of the usual.

October 12th was Colombus Day/Indigineous People’s Day. All I can say is WOW, this was an amazing thing to dive into. We finished up the Secret of the Indian from the Indian in the cupboard series.

We made a talking stick.

We visited a farm that has some teepees and we used the talking stick to share what we had learned about the Christopher Colombus and also The Trail of Tears.

We went to a museum called Sunwatch farm to learn about local Native Americans from Fort Ancient.

We made teepees and did little reports about different Native American Tribes.

It was a beautiful and somber thing to learn about. We will continue to unpack this part of our nation and history, especially this week with Thanksgiving.

The next theme was all the fun fall things.

Pumpkin patches, leaf crafts, apple pie baking and caramel apple creating.

It’s cool how so many lessons can work together. The kids had to design their apples ahead of time and write out their recipes and instructions. We also circled back to Native American week when we learned that the Alaska Natives (and other tribes) take only what they use and use all of what they take. This tied in because we went apple picking for fun, but then we were also able to use all of our apples in unique and tasty ways. What was left over was thoroughly enjoyed by the chickens.

 

I’ll put this next activity in the category of P.E. and family time! We went to a trampoline park called Defy in the middle of a school day for my nephew’s birthday. Their family does homeschooling too and this place was a treat from Mémé (on the topic of learning, Mémé is french for grandma and my mother’s family are 100% french Canadian). Of course the kids had the time of their life! This place in Florence Kentucky is EPIC.

Last but definitely not least we learned about the United States Presidential election for obvious reasons. This was so cool to really dig into. Along with books and videos, we also held our own election except instead of it being for the president it was what would eat for our traditional Busch Brunch. We had a caucus and everyone had to make posters and do a speech for what they wanted to nominate.


Then on voting day we all filled out our ballots and submitted them by the deadline.

Some aspects of this got a little crazy and competitive. Family members would raise their voices and the debates were heated. Some people started to change their minds and have regrets. Needless to say it represented the actual election quite accurately. It really was a cool lesson though. The winner was Monkey Bread along with chocolate milk and bacon. The brunch was a success!

I’m sure my enthusiasm is probably clear as I geek out about all these homeschool wins. When people ask me if this is something I would consider continuing even after the pandemic I always answer with- ask me next week. Just like with public school there are highs and lows, success and struggles.

I am so grateful to the Lord for guiding me to this path for this year. It was not an easy choice, but I know without a doubt that it was the right choice for our family. So I’m not thinking too much about next year and beyond, because if 2020 has taught us anything it’s that you can make plans but only God knows what the future holds.

By | November 24th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Homeschooling Update

Originally written October 5, 2020

I now have 10 weeks of homeschooling under my belt. Now that public schools are all back in business it feels so much more real. For example, when my kids were in public school they would get out at 3:15 and we’d often hit up the library which was right next to another elementary school that got out at 3:45. I used to make sure we hurried so that we could grab some materials and get out before the school traffic hit. So the other day I told the kids we had to watch out for that traffic. Then I realized it was 1:00 in the afternoon! Hooray for homeschool perks.

Another time was when my co-op group rented a gym during the day and let all of our kiddos run around and play dodge ball and nerf war. That was definitely a homeschool perk.

On Ezie’s birthday last week we got to visit an apple orchard and a pizza and icecream place that you would typically have to wait an hour or more to get into. We went during the day on a week day and there was NO line at all.

 

Even though I have shared about all of the plusses and fun times, I want to be honest that there is still plenty of head butting and push back when it comes to really putting in 100% and doing the hard work.

All in all I would call our first 10 weeks of homeschool a success. Here are some more highlights from the past month.

We finished reading the book “Charlie & Frog” by Karen Kane. It had a lot of sign language included in the story. Part of our family homeschool lessons is ASL, so that was really neat.

We also did video book reviews for what each of the kids read individually. I posted the videos on Instagram stories. If you have an account and would like to follow me I’m @messymom.

We learned about Patriot Day, as shown on the chalkboard. That was a tough lesson, but an important one. We also did science lessons like the power of air molecules shown through the balloon and a toy car.

One of my FAVORITE lessons was a study on the Constitution which we celebrated on September 17th (Constitution Day). We camped out on this topic for a week, reading books and watching a video about the Constitution and even making our own quill pens using our very own chicken feathers. 

One week we focused on handwriting using a curriculum borrowed from a friend in our co-op.

Going to the park in the middle of the day with your grandparents is another homeschool perk!

All that and playing outside with the chickens and lots of leaves made for a wonderful September. We are looking forward to even more fall weather and fall fun! 

By | November 23rd, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Inspiring Mom and Nursing Student Volunteers on the COVID-19 Front Lines

 

Last year Anna Slayton was featured on Messy Mom as she opened up about the tragic loss of her son Gavin, and how she is determined to use his legacy to make a difference in this world.

She hasn’t slowed down one drop since I interviewed her last September. In fact, Anna Slayton was in the middle of pursuing her Master of Science in Nursing degree when she saw the COVID-19 crisis mounting in New York City. Despite being a mom, a nurse, and student she knew she had to join the fight as a relief nurse. So she temporarily left Texas for New York to help save lives. 

 Anna worked 12-hour overnight shifts for several weeks at a nursing facility caring for elderly patients with COVID-19. During her time in NYC, Anna was able to reflect on and think about the challenges she’s faced during the past few years, as well as about her career and future. It was during this time that she decided her true calling was to help take care of children, especially after the tragic loss of her 2-year-old son. She’s using her education for good through her health coaching service, Kardia Wellness, so she can continue to help others.

I am so grateful that Anna took the time to do a follow up interview with me. We are ALL affected by the Corona Virus and it’s truly remarkable to see how she has responded to the pandemic. Here is a small peek into some of what she experienced on the COVID-19 frontlines.

When and how did you know that you were called to volunteer on the front lines of the Corona Virus crisis? 

My husband and I were coming home from vacation with our kids over Spring Break in March 2020. As we were driving home from Gulf Shores, social media began to flood with news of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States. We listened to the news station on the radio while driving home about cities starting to shut down and the case numbers increasing. I started to become so nervous about returning to work the next week. I work at a micro-hospital where staffing is minimal and patient ratios are smaller. I knew if the facility began to see COVID cases, it would all be on me. We did end up having two positive cases that gave me experience in caring for COVID patients and the ability to see the effect it was having on them. It was really puzzling for all of us in healthcare to watch. Thankfully, that helped me start to understand the treatment plan and protocols that were beginning to unfold.

How does that work? How do you navigate the logistics as a mom, a nursing student, and a nurse to just hop on a plane and jump in the trenches in New York? 

While watching the news at work, I watched the USNS Comfort pull into the New York City harbor and knew that as a wife, a mom and a nurse, this was my opportunity. Several of my colleagues had taken the call, so I decided to as well. I have a skillset that not everyone does that could be utilized to help save lives, so I ultimately knew it was my duty, to God, my Country and my family. As far as logistics, everyone was supportive and my kids have a great dad and stepdad, so I knew they were in good hands during my absence. As far as being a nursing student, I had just finished the clinical requirements for the course I was taking at Walden University before leaving and was able to work on the didactic portion of my class after work as usual. I just continued to press on in my Master of Science in Nursing degree program as I have always done for the past decade of my life.

  Were you scared? I’m sure you had a lot of emotions going on. Can you walk us through what that was like? 

I wasn’t scared when I left, but I was nervous. I left on April 15, when everything was still so overwhelming at the hospitals in New York. We were not assigned to a particular unit before leaving, so flying in you didn’t have a clue what type of unit you would be assigned to work in. In the nursing world, that is scary and overwhelming. I’m thankful for my years of experience, mostly in the emergency department, but also in medical-surgical nursing, step down and intensive care units and women’s health. On the plane, I was reading a critical care book and watching videos about critical care nursing because it had been a long time since I cared for ventilator patients and I wanted to be ready. It was also insane walking through empty airports and being only one of seven people traveling on an entire 737 plane. Watching the pandemic unfold in New York on the news was one thing, but living it out was even more unreal.

Leaving on that plane was also a relief, to be honest. I documented my journey in New York through social media, tagging all my thoughts with #atexaninnewyork, sharing how every day I was there God was working in my heart. For the last three years, all I have done is press forward and push through for the sake of everyone around me. Despite being busy with work, New York helped me to finally slow down. I had so much time to focus on myself and really evaluate where I had arrived in my healing journey since my youngest son died and process all of the hurtful events that have happened in my life. Going through trauma is a complicated thing, and I can definitely attest that if it is not fully processed, worked through and healed, it will continue to fester until you face it.

My assignment ended up being in a long-term care facility on the COVID-assigned floor for residents who tested positive for COVID or those who were there for rehabilitation after being hospitalized for COVID. There were a lot of very sad cases on our unit. One was a woman, in her late 80s, who had several comorbidities and was in the dying process. I had to help her daughter say goodbye to her mother over the phone, listening as she sang her mother songs and said her goodbyes. Since she wasn’t able to be there in person, I made it my priority to be there in her place. Over a few days, I held the woman’s hand and stayed at her bedside as much as possible until it was finally her time. It was a night of grieving, not only for my patient and her daughter, but in memory of all the loved ones I had lost not long before my son passed away. In only three short years, I had lost two uncles and both of my maternal grandparents, then shortly after, my son Gavin. I am not a stranger to death, but, because I am around it so often, it doesn’t always sting the way that it does with most. Many nurses can understand this. Being next to this dying woman, I wept and cried over my own losses, holding her hand in place of those that I wasn’t able to. Once she took her last breath, I called her daughter and wept with her as well. I won’t ever forget that night.

 Wow, that’s really incredible how you were able to find your own healing on this journey. So, how long were you there total? 

I flew back home to Texas on July 2, after my 77-day assignment. Coming home was a really huge adjustment. Of course, I was greeted with bells and whistles from my husband and kids, as well as many friends when I got home. But when I walked into my house, I realized how much clutter and memories from the past I still had around. It honestly shocked me. All of the healing and processing I did in New York truly transformed me from the Anna I was before I left to the person I blossomed into while I was gone. There were a lot of layers that needed to be peeled off and it showed. Several people close to me even noticed that I looked different. It was very difficult to readjust to family life after being immersed in an entirely different world, as well as all the changes I made within. I knew the changes I needed to make and bring home with me, but I also had to help the family I live with understand what that looked like as well. 

 Lastly, what’s next for you? You never cease to amaze us with your vision, determination, and heart for people. I know we will all look forward to seeing how your story continues to unfold.

Of course, I am focused on my kids and everything that mom life entails. My son is in third grade, my daughter is in sixth and my stepdaughter is a junior in high school. Having one kid at each campus is a lot to monitor and keep up with, but we have great kids who are all pretty independent and I am so proud of them.

 Right now, I am currently back at my micro-hospital job filling in for other staff who needed a break. I’ve completed two more courses since I’ve been home and start my final one at the end of the month, which means I will finally graduate with my MSN from Walden University. They are helping to share my story, and I hope it inspires others. My job and school are keeping me plenty occupied in the nursing world. Once I have some free time after finishing school, I plan to get back to my passion of cycling and dedicate time to that training again. I am also hoping for a position at the community hospital that was built in my hometown and pray for opportunities in the future as a family nurse practitioner close to home, once I am officially licensed. Hopefully COVID-19 will stabilize and we can all get back to life as normal, but it may be quite some time before we see that happen. This year I began to build my own business, Kardia Wellness, where I plan to provide holistic-based virtual care, as well as some in-person visits, to those who either don’t have access to or need a more optimal way to see a healthcare provider. COVID-19 has brought forth so much change in the medical world, and I’m trying to find out how to make the best of the new normal, just like everyone else.

 Also, at the start of the year, I will be back immersed in my leadership role at Celebrate Recovery at my church, and I look forward to that being a more regular part of my routine again, and I’m also hoping to lead some women’s bible studies. I look forward to finally being a provider so I can serve in medical missions, which was my original inspiration for going back to school in the first place. Whether that will be through our church’s mission groups or other groups such as Operation Smile – in honor of my son Gavin – being on the mission field is one of my biggest passions. You could say that New York was my first medical assignment, and I pray for many more opportunities like that in my life.

I am blown away by your story Anna. Thank you for sharing all of this. It is really cool to see how God is using you and I know he is going to bless you on this journey. 

By | November 18th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

There is No One I Would Rather Get to “Not Go to Ireland” With

So in true 2020 fashion, our anniversary did NOT go as originally planned this year. I was over the moon about celebrating our 20th anniversary. I honestly have been dreaming about it for a decade. I’m not exaggerating. As many of you know we renewed our vows for our 10th anniversary.

 

We had a violinist, a delicious cake, a professional photographer, and new rings. It was beautiful (and way cheaper than it sounds since our creative talented friends all pitched in). We loved it so much we knew we wanted to do something equally as meaningful every 10 years.

Cute side story, my friend Bethany from Again We Say Rejoice, was inspired by the photos from our 10 year vow renewal and decided to do the same thing with her husband at 10 years except they renewed their vows in Ireland! I LOVED the idea and the photos by Adam and Grace Photography.

My Pinterest board was loaded with plans! We were looking into passports, outfits, the whole shebang. Then Covid hit.

At first, we were all hoping things would calm down, but eventually, it became apparent that we were not doing our international dream trip this year.

Don’t worry. It’s not canceled, just postponed. In the meantime, I didn’t want this monumental date to go by without commemorating it somehow. So since we got new rings last time we decided to do that again on our 20th anniversary.

Only this time we got tattoos!

They couldn’t be any more minimalist. Just simple triangle outlines. They have a lot of significance though.

First of all, my 10 year anniversary wedding ring was a triangular white topaz stone.

I chose this because it represents our relationship with each other and God. The idea is that the more you individually draw closer to God and make Him the focus, the more you will come together in your marriage.

On top of that, the triangle also represents the trinity.

This tattoo was a first for both of us. We chose Mothers tattoo parlor recommended by my brother (who does not have a tattoo by the way, but he knows the owner). I wanted to go somewhere where the atmosphere was peaceful and calming. I know it sounds like I am a diva and a lot to expect for something that is notoriously dark and dangerous. Tattoos are a big deal though and I heard that they were painful. When it came to birthing my children (which is also permanent and painful) I was really particular about the atmosphere. I treated this experience the same. I knew that I wouldn’t be comfortable surrounded by faded images of demons, confederate flags, and naked ladies. That is what I have seen of most tattoo parlors on TV or walking past on city streets. After a lot of research, because we have been considering this for a long time, I knew I wanted Mothers. It was very clean and modern. We had an appointment for November 4th, the exact day of our anniversary. The process for my little tat was not painful at all. The biggest adjustment has been not wearing a ring. I’ve worn a ring for over twenty years. That’s more than half my life. So a week into not wearing one I still notice its absence.

To top the celebration off, my parents took the kids and we had the weekend to ourselves. In all honesty, we didn’t have any plans. Life has been busy and covid has thrown so many curves we didn’t know for sure what to anticipate. So at the last minute we decided to book a hotel in Pittsburgh and do a little road trip.

The weather was absolutely perfect. We had so much fun together exploring a city that neither of us had been to before. We listened to our anniversary playlist on the way there and back and had a really great time. I was thrilled to see that the fall foliage was still at its peak.

I know this is going to sound crazy, and please don’t be mad at me. No one on any side of politics is thrilled when the election results drag on. It’s ironically nostalgic for us though.

We got married the year of the Bush-Gore presidential race and election day happened on our honeymoon. Jeremy was really interested in finding out the results so he had the hotel TV on and was tuned in. He kept saying that they were about to call it, but if you are old enough to remember they did not call anything on November 7th, 2000. Then after Bush won there was a recount that lasted well past our honeymoon. We had a wonderful time in Hot Springs, Arkansas but I still always tell that part of the story and tease J about it to this day. So it figures that here we are celebrating 20th anniversary and it’s Deja Vu.

2020 is one for the books that’s for sure. In a time that was supposed to be a dreamy romantic milestone, it is a reminder about our vows.

 

In sickness and in health, for richer or poorer. We have been through a lot of ups and downs (most recently getting the novel coronavirus together) but we’ve done it all as a team.

There is no one else I would rather go on my dream trip to Ireland with and there is no one else I’d rather get to not go to Ireland with either.

Here’s to the next 20 years!

By | November 13th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

My Dream Chicken Coop

Several months ago I mentioned that we were building a hen house that would look a little something like this photo, which was built with the same plans we used (and modified) from Woodshop Mike

The first week in October we put on the finishing touches, thankfully just in time for them to start laying eggs!

It turned out exactly like I dreamed and the tenants seem to be really happy with it too. By tenants I mean chickens not the girls, although they probably would move in if we let them!

When we got chicks in the spring it was in part because of a man named Frank who works at Tractor Supply and knows all about chickens. When I met Frank he gave me so much valuable information I brought J back with me to meet him and talk to him too. We make our way to Tractor Supply frequently these days and always appreciate his insight.

He even showed us where a bunch of scrap wood and metal was in the back of the building free for the taking.

Building a quality chicken coop is not cheap so every little bit helps. On top of that connection we bumped into our amazing realtor Carol Huhn and her husband at Home Depot when we were buying supplies and they offered to help us out with his Veteran’s discount. I believe the total was $700 so it really helped out a lot!

As you can see building the coop was a group effort and we put in a lot of time and elbow grease.

I already shared a link to the plans that the structure was based off of and here are some more details for those interested in having chickens or building a coop of their own.

Our coop is roughly 5.5 feet by 5.5 feet and the run is 10×9. We used hardware cloth for the run which we burried underneath so that no predators can dig their way in. Then we purchased one and a half tons of construction sand for the run.

Of course the kids loved playing in it, but that was a one time thing! Once the chicks came in it became a litter box!

In the photo above we had a small waterer but we upgraded to a bucket with an automatic water cup which is way more convenient.

We clean the run out once week with a giant “pooper scooper” and put it all in the compost. J added the branches off of trees from the yard and they love to roost on them.

We have four nesting boxes and nine hens. This is supposed to be a fine ratio for the girls and so far so good.

The Hillside Hens sign is one of my favorite features.

I had an old piece of wood and told my crafty friend what font and size I wanted and she made a stencil for me with her Cricut.

We call it Hillside Hens because we live off of street called Hillside.

There are still other things we want to do to finish this project. For example, we want to move all of that firewood! We planted bushes in the back and in pots in the front. We added mulch and planted grass all around, but it’s hopeless. Between the chickens foraging and the all of the foot traffic around there, it’s definitely just a bunch of dirt!

We also might add electricity one day for motion sensor lights. For now the sconces are completely aesthetic and don’t even have lightbulbs in them.

The inside of the coop is pretty simple. A few branches for roosting (although of course all nine want to be on the same one). The chicken door is 11×15 inches and we have a string that you can pull from the outside of the coop to lift and lower it without walking in through the run.

Like I said, the girls seem to really enjoy their cozy little home. 

Obviously, I love it too and I am very thankful to my husband for building it for me.

 

By | October 28th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

My Coronavirus Symptoms, Timeline, & Experience

Last Sunday I was feeling fine. Better than fine. I was energized and ready for a full week ahead. All of that changed very suddenly on Monday afternoon. I was the first one in our home to contract the Coronavirus and I wanted to write out the whole story with all of the boring minute details. I know I always appreciated these timelines from my handful of friends that actually have had COVID. So this is for anyone like me, relentlessly researching what you might expect to encounter when/if the coronavirus enters your home.

First of all, I’m obviously not a medical professional at all and I know all cases are different. We are blessed to not have any conditions that would make us high risk. This is just my personal account.

MONDAY MORNING

I started homeschool with the kids and packed up their workbooks to bring to the car dealership where I get my oil changed. I was texting friends, helping the kids with their schooling, and really loving the fall weather! The kids were creating their own caramel apples by doing drawings and writing ingredients. We were going to make caramel apples later.

MONDAY AFTERNOON

11:30 I started getting chills and feeling like my skin was crawling and my breath was hot. I know what time it was because I texted J.

2:00 I was miserable. Body aches and fatigue were setting in quickly. Anytime one of the kids touched me at all it burned. I felt prickly all over and their fingers felt like cold razors. I took my temperature and it was just below 100.

3:00 I went to sleep and didn’t eat much of anything that day. I just slept hard other than waking up with a minor cough, fever, and aches.

TUESDAY MORNING

8:00  I woke up and still had a fever which had increased to 100.8.

10:00 J brought me to the Urgent Care Doctor. I didn’t want a drive-through COVID test because at that point I thought it was the Flu.

11:30 I sat in the car for triage and then went into an exam room where the first thing they did was stick a swab down my nose for the COVID test. The dreaded COVID test wasn’t the worst thing ever, but it wasn’t pleasant. They also took two more swabs, one in each nostril for the flu test.

The flu swab was instant results and they came back negative. I told the Doctor that I was shocked because I thought for sure I had the flu. He informed me that the Coronavirus feels just like the flu. I told him that I never lost my taste or smell. He said that only 2/3 of people with COVID have that symptom. He wasn’t diagnosing me with COVID. He was actually very nuetral and said it could be a different type of viral infection that was neither flu nor corona. They sent me home to wait 2-3 days for results. The only treatment was over the counter flu and cold medication.

TUESDAY EVENING

I was too weak to do anything. Even when I was in the Doctors office I was tempted to lay down on the exam table because I felt like I could barely sit up. I stayed in my room all night and just getting dressed caused me to feel winded.

WEDNESDAY

On day three I was still lethargic all day. My fever actually came and went. At the end of the day stuff was tasting super weird. I still never lost my taste or smell completely, but it was altered. I was feeling slightly better than the day before but still horrible.

1:00 J got chills and then a fever of 102.

4:00 Z (age 13) started coughing and had a fever also over 102.

THURSDAY

I still had no lab results, but it was looking more and more like Coronavirus from what I read. Luckily on day four, I was feeling slightly better. I could stand on my feet for more than two minutes and I made simple things like oatmeal. The two grown-ups and one teen were all down for the count leaving a 10-year-old to hold down the fort with her two younger siblings. Luckily she relishes being in charge and handled it all like a champ.

FRIDAY

This was day five for me. I was fever free and had a lot more energy and strength. J and Z were only on Day three though and J was miserable. He had missed work all week except Monday. Z on the other hand still did all of his online classes and I was having to stop him from running around or staying up late. He still had a cough and fever, but he was feeling good otherwise.

I called the Doctor and there were still no results. Ugh. I was disappointed.

At this point, I had labeled us all COVID positive anyway and canceled all of our plans for the next two weekends. This included photo shoots, a party, and camping reservations we had for fall break.

SATURDAY

I finally got the results which confirmed a positive COVID result. We only have to quarantine for 10 days.

I asked if my terrible congestion is a COVID symptom and she said yes. I asked how long it should last and she said up to two weeks like with any viral infection. I asked if we should assume that my husband and son had it since their symptoms were the same and she said Yes. They only need to get tested if they need a Doctor’s note for school or work.

It was now day six and we were able to eat together as a family and spent some time outside, but definitely took it easy.  J still had a lot of discomfort and fatigue. One symptom I still had (and have) is the congestion, which keeps me up at night because when I sleep I won’t breathe through my mouth so I feel like I am suffocating. We also all three still have terrible barking coughs.

 

SUNDAY

I got a call from the health department today and recieved my official “Intiation of Isolation” documents. Assuming we continue to recover this well this will be our final week of quarantine and recuperation.  I’m glad we finally have some answers… and antibodies.

 

 

By | October 11th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Ezie is Eight

Ezie is eight today. J and I try to be very intentional about celebrating him in a special way. Even though we aren’t doing a big party like when he turned one, three, four, or seven,  we still want him to know how amazing he is. He is after all the quintessential middle child. With four kids you have two that are sandwiched in between the firstborn and the baby of the family, but since the other middle child has special needs then that really leaves one kiddo at risk for being overlooked. I’m not saying that it is inevitable, but it’s something we try to be aware of and avoid.

What stands out the most about Ezie is just how lovable he is. I’ve mentioned before about how much of a hugger he is.

This was his “All-About-Me” poster for school.

I am special because: I give hugs

Favorite Book: The Hug Machine

I help others by: Making them feel better by hugging them

One time he came with me to an eye appointment for Z and in the middle of the exam Ezie jumped from his chair and hugged the Doctor. I apologized but she told me not to and welcomed the embrace.

 

He also talks to strangers all the time. There was a group training for a marathon in Cincinnati one day while we were there and Ezie at 6 years old stopped to put his hand out for people to give high fives and they obliged by extending their hand as they ran past. You could be homeless, a giant, disabled, or covered in tattoos and piercings and Ezie will be sure to say hello. Some of us struggle with how to show kindness to those who look different or even intimidating. Others show kindness because someone looks like they appear destitute so they want to help out or make a difference. Ezie doesn’t even seem to pay attention or notice any of this. He just does it because it makes sense to his childhood innocence.

 

J and I have both prayed that we would have just a fraction of the kindness and courage that he shows naturally in this area.

I have one final story of how this kid has taught me how to make the world a better place. For homeschool, we are discussing each of the countries in the World. On the day we were learning about Antigua and Barbuda I showed them a Youtube video. It was the simplest little cartoon with the islands of Antigua and Barbuda singing about their land. As we were watching Ezie looked really confused. His brow furrowed and his nose was crinkled as he asked “Why did someone give this video a thumbs down?” I said “Oh that’s just because there is always someone negative. Especially on the internet, there are people called trolls who like to hide behind screens and bully others.” He said, “I can’t believe someone would do that.”

The happy little video went on about Antigua and Barbuda between the Caribean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean… As the song played most of us were bobbing our heads to the music but Ezie still watched with concern. At the very end he said, “Mom, I just don’t understand about trolls on the internet”. The other children were starting to get distracted and cause trouble so I couldn’t focus. At this point, I was just ready to move on. I was hoping he might learn something and instead he’s obsessed with why someone would thumbs down an educational YouTube video.

I sigh and throw my hands up in the air to signal I don’t know. Let’s drop it. Then as I go to close the tab Ezie says “Wait!” So I paused. “Can we give it a thumbs up?” he looked at me with hopeful eyes. My heart was softened in that moment.

He had so much compassion and sincerity in why he wanted to give a thumbs up to this YouTube video. So I told Ezra we most certainly could and I clicked thumbs up on the video. He may not have learned much about Antigua and Barbuda that day, but I learned so much. Sometimes the solution to all the negativity is just some simple encouragement. It’s a hug to your brother’s ophthalmologist. It’s a high five for a runner that is exhausted. It’s a thumbs up for a children’s educational YouTube video.

Today it’s celebrating the boy who has taught me that.

By | October 1st, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

2020 Summer Travels

Today, September 22, is officially the first day of fall. I’m always ready for fall when it comes, but I think most of us feel that way even more this year with all that is going on in the world. We had big plans for this summer. We were going to do an epic road trip to Colorado. It didn’t happen because of COVID, but we still made the most of the summer months.

Along with the MANY projects that we did this year we also managed to travel a little bit too.

My parents brought SJ and her cousin to Vermont for the ultimate best friends trip. They had a blast! I wasn’t with them, but I heard all about it!

 

 

Then it was the boys turn and they were whisked off to Hocking Hills where they got to sleep in Teepees! Ezie injured his shin in the creek and had to get stitches so that was a bummer. He’ll have a great battle wound to go with the awesome memories that were made during this trip.


 

J and I got to do our own little getaway. It was a ministry-related excursion to Fort Myers Florida. Our good friends are pastors there and were hosting a young adult worship night. It was so nice to visit with them and be in a tropical location for a change.

Last but not least Z and J went to Chicago for Z’s 13th birthday. Masks and closures put a slight damper on some of the plans, but not too much. It was a fun filled guys trip with lots of eating out, biking, and WALKING (the Fitbit read 30,000 steps one day!). They checked out some cool Chicago landmarks, went to the most incredible science museum and some omust-seet see places.

So even though we didn’t get to travel to the places we planned or go anywhere as a family, I am thankful that we were able to get out and about. We also made a lot of cool memories at home too. Summer 2020 ended up being pretty special after all.

By | September 22nd, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

All About Miacademy

This post is partially sponsored by Miacademy- Engaging Online Curriculum!

The number one question I have been asked when I tell people we are homeschooling this year is “What curriculum do you use?” For the first several weeks of making this big decision, I didn’t know the answer to that. A lot of veteran homeschoolers say not to worry about curriculum, but I felt nervous going from public school to homeschool and doing it all on my own.

So I did a lot of research and came very close to making some purchases that I was unsure of. Then an ad for Miacademy showed up on my Facebook. I looked into it and the more I learned about Miacademy the more I loved it! I explained it to my friends as if it were an episode of “Say Yes to The Dress”. When you find the right fit, you know!

The thing that I have been most excited about with this program were the incentives for the kids. They get to earn gold and use it to purchase things for their virtual castle. My kids love Minecraft and Animal Crossing so if you are familiar with either of these games that include building your own virtual world then you know kids really get into that stuff! I can also add gold to their accounts labeled with a certain chore or behavioral reward. When I showed my kids what Miacademy was they were begging to start school. I told them I wanted to get to know the site and figure out our schedule first. I never thought I would see the day that I would have to hold them back from starting school!

Another thing that really sold me on Miacademy was that it teaches the lessons.

I am very hands-on with homeschool, but I can’t do it all with four kids in different grades! So I love that they can learn grade specific subject and get quizzed on it. The games also allow for repetition to ensure that the information is really understood.

Even though they are doing their core lessons without me, the parent portal shows me EVERYTHING that they worked on. The parent portal sealed the deal for me. This is where I can track my kids’ progress, see how they did on assessments, and how much time was spent on the lesson. I remind them of this from time to time and it gives me leverage when I can tell that they are not really trying on a certain lesson. Mom will make you redo it if you don’t score well. So make sure you are trying your best. I could even print out report cards if I wanted.

Those were the initial features that got me excited about Miacademy, but now that we are one our 7th week of it I have learned a lot more about it all. For example, you can customize your child’s account to block certain parts of the site and/or assignments or give them full access. I chose to keep their accounts more private, but I do have them set to where they can buy and sell their creations in the online shop. This is such a cool part of Miacademy! The kids can design clothes, art, and furniture to sell (for Miacademy gold, not real money) and then they can track their earnings and shop stats in a way that is educational. As an entrepreneur myself I love this feature!!!

Okay, now that I have gone on and on about Miacademy I will share the same thing I have told all of my friends who ask- Miacademy is technically considered a full curriculum but they openly disclose that it should be used in addition to other educational tools to engage your children as they learn. There are two ways to use Miacademy in tandem with homeschool. Either use it as the primary core lesson plan and supplement with other content and activities, or you could use it to supplement your core curriculum. There are actually a lot of users who are not homeschooled that add Miacademy to traditional schooling, or as a way to keep your kids engaged in the summer.

I use it mostly for math, language arts, and typing for now. My kids dabble in the Bible, science, and a few other lesson plans on their own but I don’t assign those options to them very often. The reason I do it this way is because science, geography, history, art etc. are all things that we do well as a family. With these subjects, I can teach one lesson along with an activity or video and they can receive from it at their own level. However, math is more tricky. Language arts is also something that I really want to make sure they are covering all of the grade specific material. Since Miacademy is computer-based work there are options for print outs. I personally haven’t really utilized that yet, although I am sure I will. For now, I have workbooks and prints outs that I assign to each of them every single school day to make sure they are working on actually pencil and paper assignments. If you saw their handwriting you would know why I am a stickler about this!

So that’s the answer to what curriculum we are using! I am NOT an expert. I have only been doing this a month and who knows what the full school year will look like, but as I have done in my 13 years of blogging I aim to keep it
real about my messy life as this new season unfolds.

By | September 15th, 2020|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Rehoming Our Rooster

Our chicks are about 15 weeks old already. They are still considered pullets and we hopefully only have a month left before we can expect some of them to start laying eggs.

 

This is the age we thought we would also find out for sure whether we had any roosters in our flock of ten hens. Chickens from hatcheries are sexed at birth by experts that can determine with about 90% accuracy whether the newborn is a male or female. So with 10 chicks, we knew we had a decent chance that at least one of them was actually a rooster. These odds aren’t great for us since we are not allowed to keep roosters in our neighborhood. As the chicks grew we had speculations but many of them were unfounded. Different breeds are different sizes and have larger or brighter pea combs (that floppy red thing on the top of their heads) so it’s really just a waiting game.

Wild Style was one that we had been keeping an eye on.

We named her Wild Style (from the Lego Movie) because she is an Olive Egger. Olive Eggers are crossbreeds that make green eggs. They are considered a “wild card” as far as how they will look because they may take after the mom or dad. It’s a toss up. Wild Style started out as one of my favorite chicks.

I loved cuddling with her but as she grew older she became more distant and didn’t really appreciate being handled. Then She surpassed all of the other chicks in size. The shape, the feathers, the pea comb, and her temperament all started pointing toward rooster. She was definitely more aggressive and led the pack. That can happen with a dominant hen though if there is no rooster to be in charge.

I am sure you know where this story is going. One morning when the chicks were almost 10 weeks old Z was letting them out of the coop and then came running into the house. Out of breath, he announced that Wild Style was crowing. I went outside to hear for myself and just barely caught what sounded like a feeble attempt at crowing. I didn’t see it though. The next couple of days I went out at dawn to see if I could definitely determine that Wild Style was crowing and then find a new home for her or eh… him. Every morning everyone was quiet so I let the idea go. If no one was crowing there was no hurry. Then one afternoon at 1:00 Ezie came running to me with the same discovery his brother had made the week before. Wild Style was crowing, only this time I saw it for myself. Beak turned upward, neck stretched out to be as tall as possible and then the triumphant crow. It was still quiet and cracked like a teenager going through puberty because that is what he is. I immediately snapped some pics to share online to start the search for a new home. I knew we couldn’t sell him. Roosters are a lot of work with not much pay off unless you are raising duel purpose meat birds in bulk. So I knew this would be a freebie. The problem was when I was talking to the kids about what might happen to Wild Style and the potential for him to be eaten, SJ burst into tears so much that she couldn’t catch her breath. I calmed her and assured her we didn’t have to worry about that. I figured we would save that lesson for another time!

Then that night I was laying in bed I imagined my pet that I have pampered and nurtured ending his life being scared and having his head chopped off.

It was not pleasant to think about. I was about to become a vegetarian over all the thoughts swirling in my head. So I tried not to think about it. I posted him for free online and was hoping someone caring might adopt Wild Style and let him free range his little heart out. Realistically I would be satisfied with just not knowing the fate of Wild Style wherever he went and then pretending it was a happy ending. The next day I got multiple people interested in the bird. One was obviously going to eat him which I didn’t care, but they also wanted me to deliver. I am not going to drive an hour to drop off my friendly, coddled chick for you to kill and eat! Then I got a message from a man that said he had lots of chickens and that he could take Wild Style! He assured me that he would have lots of room and a happy home for him. Not only that, but he would pick him up himself (which was great since we didn’t have a crate or cage to transport him). He also put a colored tag on his ankle and said we could come visit Wild Style any time! It was a dream come true.

Photos of the kids bringing Wild Style to his new owner and saying their goodbyes.

So a month later since J had labor day off we finally had the chance to come to the farm to see Wild Style. He had changed a lot but he was still friendly with the kids.

We also got to explore this beautiful countryside, see lots of animals, and go fishing!

One of the coolest parts was that we made new friends with the owners of this farm. I know rehoming a rooster isn’t always like a real life Charlotte’s Web, but this sure was a special gift from our heavenly Father to us and we feel very blessed by the whole experience.

By | September 9th, 2020|Uncategorized|1 Comment