Guest Post — Fear Not

Today I’m sharing a wonderful essay from a writer friend, JJ Pritchett … I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! Fear is one of those things that can grip us, tightly; especially on this adventure of motherhood. Remembering that fear has no place in our success is a timely reminder as we celebrate our role as mamas this coming Sunday.


Last night, I received a firm shove from a dark blob standing to the right of my bed.  It was ten year-old Conner.  Even though he is a familiar sight in those wee hours of the morning, his pay–attention–to-me shove startled me into a small yelp and sudden jolt.  I shouldn’t have been so shocked. Before his nightly visits, six-year-old Bailey Joy and I had much the same routine. It’s been years since I have said “Goodnight” and gone on to actually have one. My husband, Phil, hates being awakened in the middle of the night. It startles him so much that his adrenaline keeps him up for hours. Me? I don’t mind so much. I can empathize with nightmares. Everything from monsters to naked teacher dreams spook me on a regular basis. In them, I run from the monster; I am the teacher. Much of the time when first- born, Bailey was waking me up to be comforted, she was doing me a favor. I was having a nightmare all my own and her hushed entrance into my bedroom helped to snap me out of it.

Fear is something I shoo into the background music of my life during daylight hours. It is smushed into the clutter of my overactive brain between paying bills and making dinner. It whispers to me when I hear a police car siren, and when I read the local news… but, like organizing my closet and filing my insurance paperwork, there is not much time for it.

That is, until (now 16 year-old) Bailey got her driver’s license and drove off without me for the first time. Sure, life was still a symphony of cleaning, cooking, exercising, working with students, and returning phone calls, but instead of relegating it to the background, I set up a little picnic table and made Fear and its cousins Worry and Angst my guests of honor. I talked about them, dreamt about them, and tried to convince others to take a seat and spend valuable time with these joy robbers as well.

When my niece began taking driver’s ed, I cautioned my sister to count the cost of having a child who drives. She wouldn’t take the bait. Undeterred, I persisted, “So much can happen to them, Barbie,”  I warned.  When I heard the silence on the other end of the phone line, I continued by itemizing the potential pitfalls of this teenage rite of passage. I could hear myself trying to pass the fear along like a hot potato. I was saying, “Here. Take this. It is burning me. It’s your turn now.” But she wasn’t having any of it. She was actually excited for her daughter’s new-found freedom. Crazy.

In saner times of life, I am able to remember and even implement verses like Psalm 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”

But when Bailey and her two younger siblings pile into the 1996 Buick Cierra she nicknamed, SISTER MARY FRANCIS I can’t help but wince. I watch and wave for far too long as that old Buick rounds the corner and carries my three babies into the distance, out of my reach. Out of my control. I stand alone in the driveway, silently praying for their safety, and my sanity. A faint voice reminds me of a scripture that I memorized when I was a kid, long before I became the expert in worry that I am now.  “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear…” but I do. I do.

And, truth be told, it’s not just the kids I worry about.  There’s also that silent question that follows many of my friends and me around, with its familiar, accusing tone. It asks, “Am I good enough?”  Oh, and by good I do not mean morally right. I mean fit, funny, smart, nice, helpful, hard working, and loved. We get invited to other people’s houses, and go home wondering if we are good decorators. Someone makes us a wonderful meal, and we ask ourselves if we, too, are good cooks. We linger on Pinterest, and before we finally click off, we silently gasp, “Oh my gosh! I forgot to reupholster the seats in my van!” And ever so subtly we believe that, sure enough, there’s a whole other level to human existence that has eluded us. A small belief wanders into our thinking,and accuses, “Girl, you missed the memo.” Since most of us have been believing sneaky lies about our worth since we were kids, we have a hard time recognizing that, without consciously agreeing to, we believe lies about ourselves several times a day. We worry that we don’t own enough, our kids aren’t getting what they need, the food we are eating is contaminated, our husbands don’t love us, or we are, in some way, unsafe. Worry-fear- anxiety-panic … We don’t even realize how often they knock on the door of our minds in some way, trying to gain entry. And if you aren’t thinking about it, it’s easy to just let them in. But then, there’s that steady reminder:

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness…and all these things will be added unto you.”

If I stop to listen, I can I hear the Spirit saying, “Make way. Clean out a space, do some weeding. Fear and love don’t grow together. Since only one of them can thrive at time, choose love. Always choose love.” choose love

When I hear about about almost any tragedy  I swat away a voice that murmurs, “You are next. You have to be next.” But even louder I hear God’s voice saying,

Be not fear.

Act not fear.

Speak not fear.

Show not fear.

Preach not fear.

Time consuming task, that one. Don’t just seek it, go on a hunt for the kingdom of God. Seek peace. Wear yourself out in the pursuit of it.

The truth is, the things that hurt us are not made less powerful by our constant worry. We can’t predict what will happen next. The furrowed brow of anxiety and the restless nights of strategizing against harm, are simply stealing the joy that’s right under our noses — ready to be snatched up, if we just say yes to the steadfast counsel of the angels all around us. Life is waiting. SISTER MARY FRANCIS is gassed up and ready to go.


Yellowstone or Bust!

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Every month, May until baby arrives in December has something big happening – graduations, birthdays, my 10 year high school reunion, Dom and I’s anniversary, holidays, trips … busy, busy, busy. The wonderful kind of busy. I have a feeling this pregnancy is going to FLY by; good thing I’m not anticipating us needing much preparation for this little one. Honest to goodness, I’m thrilled to march through the next few months as tired as I may become with all the go go going, but most of all I’m looking forward to the end of July and early August. 

Late July is when we leave for our Yellowstone adventure!

We’re road tripping the 12 hours and have begun all sorts of planning! Katie spearheaded our fabulous cabin reservation – plenty of beds, a kitchen and a hot tub! My mama is coordinating our agenda and tours and I’m prepping lots of activities for the road trip. Our family has been once before, when I was in 2nd grade and I have such fond memories of the geysers, painting pots and wildlife. I can’t wait to experience it all with Jem and Max, they’re the happiest little people when exploring outside. Yellowstone will be akin to their heaven. And me? I’ll probably have the start of a sweet little bump by then so all three of my littles will be included in our Yellowstone photos :)

Am I crazy for taking the kids to Yellowstone sans Daddy? One would think. But with my mom and sis in tow it’s going to be borderline relaxing I presume. And yes, for those curious minds, Dominic is most definitely invited, but the poor guy has a massively busy season at work during the summer and much less time off than teachers so, he’s going to live it up via Instagram and hopefully pack some of mama’s favorite snacks for my sanity and the baby’s well being. Over and out, honey? Make an event on your calendar so you don’t forget those snacks!

Have you been to Yellowstone? With little kids? Tell me your favorite things and what we need to know!


Baby Number Three

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Did you see? Did you see?

WE’RE EXPECTING BABY NUMBER THREE!

Come Christmas time we’ll be welcoming a sweet little baby to our family and we couldn’t be more thrilled! Especially Jemma. All of us, of course, but especially her.

Jem actually predicted her little sibling 3 days before I took a pregnancy test. Last Tuesday I picked her up from the class she attends while I’m at Bible Study and the teacher informed me that Jemma had shared that our family was having a baby after Christmas. I laughed off the thought, because, nope – no baby for us yet! Then, a few days later, that precious double line appeared on a test! Jemma knew! And quite accurately too as we’re due just days after Christmas.

My heart has already grown. Pregnancy is hard and I’ve learned that the motherhood gig that follows is often harder. But it’s all worth it. Every little bit. The heartburn, the labor, the engorgement, the extra weight, the sleepless nights, the heart wrenching love for someone else – all treacherous territory that has empowered me greatly over the years. Knowing how much being Jemma and Max’s mom has changed me, I can only imagine that this new little one will change me once again. I welcome this experience and this sweet baby with big, open arms. My new, precious baby fills me with wonder and love and so much awe. The Lord has blessed us with a growing family and I’ll be forever thankful. 

I hope you’re all ready for the onslaught of pregnancy posts! I already have a list of fun things to share about choosing a midwife (picking a provider is a MEGA big deal in my book), Jemma’s round up of baby names (you guys, she’s more hippie than me!) and of course, the very few things I’ve deemed as necessary purchases for baby tres (already ordered this)!


No creative credit goes to me for our announcement post. I saw this on Pinterest and couldn’t help but re-create :)

 


That Mom Of Mine

Hello May 1st! It Mother’s Day Month! And no better way to start off a new month than a little post just for my favorite lady, right?

You see my mama around the blog often. She’s my sidekick on adventures, the gal who cooks dinner for my family almost once a week, the one who now has her own Tula to wear her grandchildren when we’re out and about. She’s one in a million, my best friend and the woman I aspire to become.Processed with VSCOcam with t1 preset

Every Mother’s Day, especially since becoming a mom myself, I get mega sappy about her. She’s just so … fabulous. From her chic, new “over 50″ hairstyle to her excitement over finding an Instagram shop that is “just so cute!”. Her fabulousness doesn’t stop there. She reads nonfiction , journals, attends Bible study, has a counselor and a life coach. She is the most applied person I know. Nothing seems to through her step or her inner peace. Sometimes she’ll stop by my house after her day of teaching and I think, “Wow, if only I could look like her today! Her cute outfit, her genuine smile.” She rocks her StitchFix and Noonday and her face still looks fresh and full at the end of a day with 20 kindergarteners. I, on the other hand, am wearing elastic waist sweats and my wild hair is unsuccessfully tamed in what she affectionately recalls as a “banana clip” from her SAHM days in the 1980s. 

Oh, the seasons of motherhood.

When she looks at me now, with two young kids shrieking about and cereal crunching under our feet while we visit, I know she seems part of herself. Not only because I’m her daughter, but because she was once me. Twenty five years ago she was at home with her littles ones. She has lived my days. She has said my same prayers. She has glanced in the mirror and whispered to herself, “Tomorrow, I’ll tease my hair, hairspray it high and tuck this banana clip in my bathroom drawer.” :) Even though she is in a different season of mothering now, I see it in her eyes – she can time travel at a moment’s notice. She has juggled as I have. She has slept few hours like me. She has carted children to doctor’s appointments and grocery shopping. She remembers. I’m guessing that’s why she often says all the right things to boost my spirit. 

People who have known my mom and I for years say we look alike. Even more, they say Jemma looks like her grandma. As flattering as it is to emulate someone so wonderful physically, I hope more and more people begin to see her IN me. I want her peace and patience; her draw to care for others. More than anything though, I want to be like her on the inside. She’s kind and brave; persistent and faithful. If you ask her, she’ll rattle off her faults, her misfortunes, but all I see is how she turns those things into good, into learning lessons.

This mom of mine. She will forever amaze me. Happy Mother’s Day, sweet mama! May you feel extra loved this whole entire month :)


Today’s post was sponsored by Palm Beach Tan and with their sponsorship they are offering a wonderful giveaway!

5 lucky followers will be randomly selected for their choice of a free spray tan or sunbed session, and one grand-prize winner will win a three-month Diamond Premier membership for both themselves and their mom (both sunless and sunbed options available with Diamond level). Winners must be over 18 yrs of age, and the offer is valid at any Palm Beach Tan Salon near you. 

To enter the giveaway, leave a comment sharing a special beauty or character trait that you inherited from your mama by Sunday, May 10, 2015. Palm Beach Tan is responsible for selecting, notifying and fulfilling the giveaway so keep your eye out for them after the giveaway ends!

Also, in honor of Mother’s Day, Palm Beach Tan salons across the nation are offering FREE sunless or sunbed sessions with the purchase of a $25 gift card. Offer valid until May 10. Visit palmbeachtan.com for more information or check them out on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

 


Coffee Breaks, Near and Far

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetRemember how I wrote yesterday that my two besties aren’t really social media gals? We don’t keep in touch on Facebook and I’m not really sure they know how to tweet. We text as much as our children will allow, but mostly, we try to schedule intentional mom dates. Always with a cup of coffee. Always.

Scheduling is a joy with one friend being a full-time teacher and another living a time zone away. But we manage. Because it’s important. Because it’s sanity. To find time to breathe with someone else who understands. Someone who knows what it is like to be kicked in the ribs all night long. Someone who gets what a struggle it is to complete one thought or task or potty break without being interrupted. It’s something we need as moms, as much as sleep, a moment to rest in connection and camaraderie.

Whether I steal away for 20 minutes or 2 hours, every moment in companionship with these friends fills me up. We fill up coffee at home and walk the lake, because nothing is better than hot coffee and a cool breeze. We tuck the kids in bed and log on for a Skype session with decaf in hand. And sometimes, it’s a whole gaggle of moms with a bevy of kids in my living room. Because even in that chaos, it’s nice to look across the room and see someone else like me. Someone who has mascara on just one eye (oops), someone who is reminding their son not to push (again) and someone who thinks they’re the luckiest despite it all.

To celebrate those little moments of rejuvenation thanks to coffee and friendships, Hamilton Beach is giving away my new favorite product – the 2-Way FlexBrew Coffeemaker. This thing is fabulous because you can brew a single K-cup for one on one mom time or Skype dates as well as a 12 cup pot for a larger gathering. You get both in one machine. Brilliance and multi-tasking perfection if you ask me … Hamilton-Beach-49983-2-Way-FlexBrew-Coffemaker-2

The 2-Way FlexBrew Coffee Maker is available online and at Walmart and you can read more about all it’s features here.

To enter the giveaway please leave a comment answering this question before May 7, 2015 … How do you take your homemade cup of coffee? Anything that makes it extra special?

Additional entry options include …

Leave a separate comment for each entry.


Hamilton Beach provided me with a 2-Way FlexBrew Coffee Maker of my own. No other compensation was received. They are also the sponsors of the giveaway. Thank you, Hamilton Beach!


A Dozen Things About Me

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 Lily Jade purse + StitchFix dress + garage sale cardigan

It’s a home day here! Woohoo! Jemma loves them because she gets to wear sleeveless (I have no idea why this is os exciting, but she loves tank dresses most of all and always requests these “with NO sweater, please” on home days). I love them because it’s just a touch after 9 and I’m still sipping coffee in my favorite sweats. Max? He’s a fan because the kitchen is at his beck and call all day long … so far this morning he’s had a banana, cereal, water and 2 pieces of toast on constant tap. I no longer don’t doubt the phrase, “Boys will eat you out of house and home” now that I have Max.

Because I have nothing better to do while I sip my coffee, here are a dozen random facts about me … you’re welcome, now you too can have a wonderful Wednesday :)

ONE /// I love turbie towels. If you don’t own one, you must. Like, can we even be friends unless you have one?

TWO /// I didn’t eat beef until I was pregnant with Jemma. Hated the taste, texture, idea of it … now steak is one of my top picks for fancy dinners!

THREE /// One year ago I never ever ever would have thought I could run 5 miles. Now I can. A lot can change in a year and that makes me smile at the future.

FOUR /// Low fat dairies don’t sit well with me. Bloat city. But heavy dairies like cream are just fine. Is the over processing hard on your gut or something?

FIVE /// Both of my kids have been born on dear friends birthdays. It makes me feel like God gave each of them special soul mamas to watch over them a little extra.

SIX /// At midnight I get a second win and it carries me until at least 2AM. No wind arrives to carry me when Max rustles awake at his newfound hour of 5:30AM. Cry me a river and float me to nap time.

SEVEN /// When we were in Austin I fell in love with real cowboy boots. I did not fall in love with the price. So, to eBay I went … and there I found a pair of black beauties for $40!

EIGHT /// I’m not a pet person. There, I said it. I might be the mom who never gets my kid a pet. The only one they may be able to convince me of is a giant rabbit

NINE /// Nothing puts me to sleep like Serenity. Nothin’. Just a swipe or two on my feet and big toe and ZZZZZZzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzzz.

TEN /// I’m good at a bunch of things. Great at nothing. And I’m finally ok with that. I like to think of it as being diverse in my own unique way. Want to talk cooking? I can jam. You’re an outdoors person? I hiked Mt. Adams once. Cars are your thing? I drove an ’81 Mercedes convertible for years. You sew? Me too, but only if there is an element of freehand and flexibility in the pattern :)

ELEVEN /// Salt and vinegar chips (specifically the really thick ones from Trader Joe’s) are my weakness. And pretty much the only chip I like.

TWELVE /// My best friends are absent from social media most days. One isn’t even on Facebook; the other doesn’t have Instagram!

Tell me something about yourself!


Celebrate Cinco de Mayo (and Everyday) with Delimex and Creamy Verde Salsa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #DelimexFiesta #CollectiveBias


If you haven’t guessed yet, I get a lot of inspiration for our homeschool lessons from our daily life. Random things we have going on like dentist appointments, obscure holidays and anything that peak Jemma’s interest … which is why I’m currently reserving books about armadillos from the library. 

Right around the corner is May 5th. A regular day for most, but a BIG celebration in the Mexican culture … May 5th is Cinco de Mayo! We’re using this upcoming holiday to spur some themed projects and best of all, some meals. 

On the docket we have some fun library books and I’m using Cinco de Mayo to launch my favorite subject … geography! A little know fact about me? I love memorizing state and country capitals! Last summer we were gifted some giant maps from a retired Montessori teacher and thus we are delving into the USA and our neighboring countries Canada and Mexico. cinco de mayo books usa mx

But, even though I love geography, and Jemma is coming around to it (she REALLY loved adding abbreviation stickers!), we love food the most :) Cooking together takes extra time, and we don’t always have it, but when we do, it’s always extra special. On our last grocery shopping trip to Walmart Jemma and I picked up some Delimex tacquitos and tacos. She is quite the tacquito fan! And I convinced her that they would be even better if we made a fancy dip for them. She was skeptical, but interested so we proceeded to get some other ingredients … tomatillos, avocado, cilantro. All things that scream Mexican deliciousness. I figured that while our Delimex treats cooked in the oven we could whip up a creamy verde salsa that was full of flavor, but low on heat so the whole family could enjoy it. 

While we danced along to Pandora’s Salsa channel Jemma asked TONS of questions about our salsa prep … “Does tomatillo start with a t-t-t-t-tee?” and “Where do they grow?” and “Can we sing the salsa song?” I love her questions – they’re always creative and born out of true wondering. Questions mean she’s learning and learning means I’m doing a small part of my job as her mama. Instead of wishing for quiet during her constant chatter, I take those questions as a confidence boost in mothering.

So, the salsa … it’s more of a thick dip, easier for kiddos that way and there isn’t any added spice, so, again, great for kids or those who love the flavor of salsa, but not the fire. Everything is blended smooth so there is no picking out anything that looks too new or too green or too crunchy or too whatever. It’s delicious and wholeheartedly approved by our family. Well, not Max … he’s in that 2 1/2 year old stage of only loving nuggets, toast and bananas :/  But he doesn’t count because cross my heart, this dip is magnifico … I never want a tacquito without it!creamy verde salsa

Creamy Verde Salsa

 Supplies + Ingredients

  • Food Processor or Blender
  • 3 tomatillos, peeled and rinsed
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/3 onion
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and pressed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt and pepper, combined
  • 1 lime

Directions

First step, roughly chop tomatillos, avocado, onion and cilantro and place in a bowl. In a second bowl, measure out cream cheese, garlic, honey, salt and pepper. 
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Put your first bowl into a blender and blend on high until smooth. Add the second bowl the the blender and blend again to add flavor and creamify your salsa :) 

creamy verde salsa ingredients blendedPour into a serving bowl and top with squeezed lime. Get ready to dip your Delimex beef and cheddar rolled tacos and chicken and cheese tacquitos, sing the salsa song some more and try to explain to your kiddos why the capital of Mexico is Mexico City, but the capital of the United States of America is not United States of America City :) 
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Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? In the least I’m SURE you enjoy some Mexican food! We’re loving the duo of Delimex and creamy verde salsa, but I’d love to hear your recipes for yummy salsa and dips too! While you make your grocery list for salsa ingredients, don’t forget to pick up Delimex Tacquitos, Tacos or Tamales … they’re easy to find in the snack + appetizer aisle at Walmart.PicTapGo-Image


Jemma’s Favorite Audiobooks

Jemma adores her alone time. It’s weird, because at her age, I never ever ever left my mom alone. Bless her heart. Jem and I are alike in a lot of ways, but her love for time in her room to imagine and play is all her own. It’s darling to see her entertain herself and be absorbed in her thoughts and projects. She plays with her MagiClips for hours, sets up LEGOS, reads books and then, get this, cleans everything up!

She has been napping less and less, maybe only once or twice a week now, so her quiet time has increased quite a bit since she stays in her room for Max’s whole nap. She’ll start laying down and then when she gets out of bed she writes down what time she woke up … thanks to her nifty little digit clock and a piece of paper we keep next to it :) Then, she turns on her lamp for “calm light”, picks out a CD and listens to audiobooks while she plays. 

We check most of her books on CD out from the library, they’ve got a pretty good assortment. I’ve also collected a few winners from garage sales and kid’s consignment events. Audibles (via Amazon) and our library’s free download rental program have been other avenues for finding good stories to download and burn onto CD or upload to the iPad. 

Today we wanted to share a handful of her recent favorites books on CD … Jemmas Favorite Audiobooks

Ling & Ting Share a Birthday /// Imogen’s Antlers ///  Library Lion /// The Cinnamon Bears /// Snow White & Rose Red /// The Kissing Hands /// Tallulah’s Tutu /// The Story of Ferdinand /// Finding Nemo

My personal favorite, Imogen’s Antlers … because, hello … the name Imogen is awesome! Jemma is all about Ling & Ting because the concept of twins just blows here away. 

Has your preschooler tried out books on CD? We’d love to hear your recommendations!


Homeschool Adventures … Spring Nature Walk

homeschool nature walk

Much of what we do in regard to homeschooling falls into the “play” category. With Jemma and Max being 4 1/2 and 2 1/2 respectively, book work just isn’t necessary most days. They’re at the age where play is their best teacher and so, that’s what we often do. During the week and as often as we can, on the weekends with Daddy in tow.

To be completely honest though, I’m eager for the book time … where we can all sit at the table and work in quiet together. I’ll make double cocoas for them and drink my coffee in one sitting while they plug away at math worksheets and essay writing. I’ve told my mama a few times that I love the idea of homeschooling come 4th, 5th, 6th grade, but am SO daunted by these early years where such foundational concepts need to be accomplished. 

There’s my homeschooling vent for now :) We’re plugging away at play and I’m constantly picking the minds of mamas who have gone before me on how to juggle the early elementary years. Opening up the comments now for all your insights and “you can do it even though it seems scary” cheers!

The gorgeous Northwest weather has turned much of our play lessons outdoors. After a long winter of building and crashing towers inside with Max and keeping him out of Jemma’s delicate, small piece projects I am breathing a sigh of relief as I shuffle us all out the door. Here in Washington there is a thing called a Discover Pass and it gives us unlimited access to all the state parks. We have one very close to our home, and although there were signs about a cougar siting last year, I’m feeling bravely cautious as we hit the trail for some Spring exploring.

With homeschooling plans, I’m constantly pinning resources and worksheets, because there is no reason on Earth for me to recreate something that has already been done. Enter this FREE worksheet from Teachers Pay Teachers and I had no preparation other than printing and appropriately dressing the littles for our Spring Nature Walk last weekend! Oh, and binoculars and magnifying glasses … because those make outside I Spy 10x more fun :) nature walk 1nature walk 3 nature walk 2 nature walk 9 nature walk 6 nature walk 10

As we traipsed along the path and bridges in our sturdy footwear from the awesome team at Rack Room Shoes we followed our Spring Nature Walk worksheet taking note of what we saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted. Yes, SMELLED, the poor teacher who made this darling worksheet must have been creating a bit too late in the evening because smelt is a fish, not a sense.  It looks like I’ll turn out to be an awesome homeschool mom/teacher after all, lol! Jemma was fascinated with our conversation about the 5 senses and wanted every line filled in with her precise descriptions. Max? He was beyond happy to bop everything he saw with a giant stick. He even tried to spear a little salamander! Which we promptly saved from Max’s attack. nature walk 7 nature walk 5 nature walk 13 nature walk 8

A family homeschool adventure wouldn’t be complete without a silly face photo. These are always Jemma’s request and let’s face it, asking everyone to smile in the same direction at the same second is a feat not worth my efforts. After all, I’ve got senses to teach and salamanders to save!nature walk 12In love with our shoes? We sure are! They all proved to be super comfortable and sturdy and will transition beautifully from our Spring to Summer outdoor adventures. Here’s exactly what we wore and where you can find them … Dominic’s Nike Torch 4 tennis shoes /// Gretchen’s B.O.C Levina strappy platform clogs /// Jemma’s Sperry Biscayne HL boat shoes /// Max’s Crocs Baya slip ons.

What learning adventures do you have planned for the nice weather this year? We’re mapping out our Spring & Summer Bucket List and I can’t wait to keep our learning outdoors!

When shopping at Rack Room Shoes there are a few things to remember …

  • Easy Rewards Program so you earn money back on your purchases
  • Everyday BOGO 50% off 2nd pair sale
  • Free shipping on all orders over $50

    A big thank you to Rack Room Shoes for sponsoring our fabulous footwear. These shoes will carry us well through Spring, Summer and hopefully Fall if the nice weather sticks around :) 


The Next Book You Need To Read


IMG_8123We’re all on the young adult fiction train, correct? It’s one train I don’t plan to ever get off of anytime soon. I’m pretty sure I’ll be 80 years old and traipsing my way into the bookstore to find the latest and greatest teen novels :)

It started with Twilight, then Hunger Games and Divergent too. Loved them all, but a bit dark and definitely ones I’ll introduce to Jemma when she’s in the latter part of her teens. But my new favorite? The Selection! It’s an exciting, romantic read with little worrisome content … one I’ll introduce to Jemma earlier on. In fact, as I read through the series she would get the biggest grin whenever she saw me holding the book because “Oh my goodness, Mama … just look at her dress? Isn’t it just BEAUTIFUL?!?”

And yes, yes it is … IMG_8122

But even more beautiful than the dress on the cover or the others described within the pages of The Selection, is the main character, America, and her heart. She’s not a flimsy girl one bit. She’s hearty and full of dreams and she is tossed into a wild adventure that she could have never imagined. You see, in America’s world the prince is in need of a wife and a selection process begins amongst the various casts. This alone makes for an interesting read. I adore how authors can dream up entire worlds that function in new ways. Keira Cass, author of The Selection, is no exception. Girl has a fabulous imagination and I’m smitten with the world she created.

Pause. I know, I know. You’re thinking The Selection is a storybook version of The Bachelor! But I promise, it’s not. It’s ten times more realistic and, well, appropriate. You’re going to love it! Even better, I read once in some anecdotal writing (because when you’re a fan girl of an author you do that), that Keira Cass was actually inspired by Esther’s story from the Bible and Cinderella. 

So, if you’ve read The Selection, I’d love to know what you thought of America and her relationship with Maxon. And if you haven’t … well, stop back by this post in a few days when you’re done with The Selection and tell me :) It will really suck you in that fast and you’ll be reaching for book #2. 

That’s right! The Selection is #1 in a series and the 4th book comes out May 5th — EEK! Fly through The Selection, The Elite and The One so you’re ready to read The Heir along with me next month! 

the selection series


I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.