A Week in the Life of an “Eclectic Homeschooler”

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When we started our journey as homeschoolers over 2 years ago, I took a dozen online quizzes to see what my “style” was. I thought if I could narrow down HOW I wanted to teach that I could then plan out our whole year and everything would be awesome. (Insert LEGO Movie Soundtrack.) The thing is, each quiz was basically inconclusive. My results would show 60% in favor of one style or worse tied 33% each of three different ones. None of them matched for a style on top and I was left more confused than ever on how was best to teach my kids. At one point a test came back with the result that I was an “Eclectic Homeschooler” because mixing styles seemed to make most sense it claimed. I had preferences in nature based learning, unschool learning, traveling homeschooling, traditional religious teaching, loop scheduling and more. I pondered and pondered how to make our days work, how to fit it all in and finally, in our third year we are just going at it one day at a time, relaxed, laid back, doing what we can with some plans and a lot of grace. And sure enough it’s working better than I ever could have imagined. So what does a week in our life look like?

Sunday: We took an extra family trip to a local historic site to learn about frontier life. Since we viewed the home Daniel Boone lived in, we borrowed “Who Was Daniel Boone?” from the library to read later in the week while driving. Before bed, the kids read aloud together to finish the chapter book they were reading for a quarterly book club we attend.

Monday: We normally attend a nature based co op with child led learning where we explore creeks, dirt, woods, fields, lakes, pretty much anything outside you can imagine. We were off this week for a holiday so we went hiking as a family instead. Along the way we saw flooding, erosion, frogs, lizards and a major river in our state.

Tuesday: Before hopping in the car, the kids followed recipes to make a fruit salad and pasta salad for lunch later while we were out. We read a book from the Tuttle Twins series about the free market and economy. This one specifically was taking about how much goes into manufacturing every product, buying/selling, trade with other countries and cost of goods. We frequently read in the car on longer commutes. This one was for a park play date. The playground featured a pirate ship and volcano and the time spent was full of pretend play. This is vital language arts time as it invokes creative thinking, communication, and story telling. When we got back home, we did a lesson of science in our curriculum workbooks. Instead of completing the included worksheets and quizzes though, we only read the material, highlight what we found interesting and then write a small report back on our favorite parts. After science, I had the kids practice math using and educational Launchpad we borrow from our local library.

Wednesday: The kids started their morning with chores, which develop important life skills. Then we did a lesson of history and geography together. This is part of our curriculum as well and we complete it like we do science. Afterwards we attended a homeschool gymnastics class for some good PE time. While driving to our next event, we read a book from the Magic Treehouse series. Although fiction, these books feature a great deal of history facts and make learning a little bit about a lot of new things fun and interesting. After our drive and lunch, they attended an event at the library about the science behind music.

Thursday: To go along with the Tuttle Twins book we read this week, I planned a trip to a local soap shop to tour how soap is made. The kids completed a worksheet from the Tuttle Twins curriculum tracking where supplied came from. We read our book about Daniel Boone on the drive home then after lunch completed a lesson of traditional math.

Friday: We worked together to get ready for an upcoming trip, packing, doing laundry and making a meal plan. These things absolutely all count as part of our education. Then we did a lesson of our traditional language arts curriculum followed by more math practice on the library Launchpads. The kids spent some art time making creations out of model magic. To end the day there was a Girl Scout meeting for one of the two troops the kids belong to. The badge work is often STEM related and they experience a lot of community service as well as learning business skills through cookie selling.

Each night the girls also read over math flash cards for just a few minutes, read independently their choices from the library and spend a few moments journaling about their day/feelings/dreams/etc. Our days are also filled with a wide array of other things as no two weeks look alike. The amount of learning done every day is amazing to me as they absorb what is happening around them. I love the people I am raising and the person I have become because of them.

Soul Slings Traveling Carrier: Seafoam Linen AseeMa

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For the past week I have been borrowing this wonderful newest baby to toddler size carrier from Soul Slings called the AseeMa. I already own their previous model, the AnooNa so I can review the AseeMa and compare the two. Plus, we took a lot of pictures. Score!

First impression: The shoulders were extremely padded. Like bulky and kind of annoying, so bulky I couldn’t buckle the chest clip like I could on my other carriers (the AnooNa also by Soul and the Kindercarry brand Kinderpack soft structured carrier). The coloring is absolutely beautiful. The carrier (in linen) is sooooo soft. The thicker waist panel was much nicer. I’m not a fan of Velcro, which is how this carrier adjusts to size.

And then I used the carrier all week. Please note, I did not read the instructions. This was on purpose. I am an experienced wearer but I wanted to really see the usability for myself, see if the adjustments made common sense or not. And let me tell you, by the second or third wear, I could barely even remember what I didn’t like about it on my first impression. My toddler was very comfortable. I was very comfortable. We used the carrier for shopping, hiking, around the house, family walks and even a trip out of town. I took it to a play date where two of my pregnant momma friends could check it out. And I even let my oldest daughter and husband play with it to see just how much versatility this bad boy has. I am absolutely sold.

First, lumbar support. It really adds the extra last bit of comfort for front carries. It does make it just slightly harder to adjust the waist but not enough that I call this a flaw, just a nuisance of notice.

Second, the slide size body panel. For my busy toddler, this feature made it extremely easy to pop her from arms in to arms out and back. It gives a little extra padding for sleeping/cuddly babes and adjusts nicely for a variety of size kiddos. There are no preset sizes on this carrier, unlike the AnooNa. I like the AseeMa better for this reason. It allows for a variety of micro adjustments to truly get the best fit for you and baby and the combo of you together.

I nurse in all of my carriers. This one is incredibly easy to do so in. The shoulder size adjustments help let baby lower just slightly and the slide panel adjustments help add a little privacy if desired. The hood can also be used but my toddler doesn’t like giving me privacy.

The linen is so lightweight it was perfect for our sweaty hike. I have also used my Kinderpack because of the mesh in our hot Midwest summers but I think this linen would easily match that comfort for me and her.

The AseeMa fit me, my oldest daughter and my husband. It can handle a big variety of sizes and is easily adjustable if you’re sharing the carrier.

Finally, the sleepy dust is strong! For those who don’t know the lingo, this means the carrier is extremely soothing for baby to allow for naps at home, on the go or anywhere in between.

Final thoughts: I will be buying myself one of these carriers. The linen is definitely worth it. (My AnooNa is not linen.) I haven’t sold my other carriers. I like variety. I’ll likely keep them all, especially since our toddler is probably not our last baby. I’ve been babywearing for 10 years now and I’ve loved different carriers for different reasons. I think the AseeMa could easily be a one and done for any family. I’m just more of a ten carrier kind of girl. 😉

Why I Quit the Whole Life Challenge

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And probably won’t do it again.

September 29th I started the fall Whole Life Challenge. Its a really cool concept for accountability and creating healthy habits in your life. Each day you use their website and check off as you complete each habit according to their rules.

The habits are:

1. Nutrition

2. Exercise

3. Mobilize

4. Hydrate

5. Well Being Practice

6. Sleep

7. Reflect

Sounds great right? I thought so too. So here’s what went wrong.

First I noticed the reflection part of the challenge affecting my mood. As I scanned my feed, it seemed the larger majority of people were having bad days. Like every day all I saw were people having bad days. I was confused by this. Surely there are people also having good days right? But why wasn’t I seeing this in my feed? I don’t know but I didn’t like it. I rarely got any interaction on my posts either. Even on two teams. This was a bummer since making life changes requires good support.

Second, I had a perfect score for the 3 weeks I participated. I took the challenge really to heart and knew I needed to fight against losing points in order to really see progress. But I never made it to first place. The challenge didn’t accommodate for time change so despite having all the points I could earn, I was always behind. This just messed with my psych. It was annoying.

And last, the designers made rules for nutrition. They seemed pretty darn clear to me. But upon reading my feed and discussing with other challengers, people were interpreting these rules pretty much however they wanted and doing so in some pretty unhealthy ways in my opinion. The admin and team captains basically shrugged and said “the rules are more like guidelines and we know each person is different so we want them to do what’s best for their own bodies.” So I’m supposed to follow the rules when other people don’t have to? Talk about another kill in motivation.

All in all, I’m grateful for the experience because it kickstarted my healthy habits again but it became more stress after almost a month than it was helpful. I’m excited to continue my journey post challenge and just save my money from now on.

Road Trippin’ with a Babe Plus 3

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We woke up at 4 am. Green had just nursed and was back asleep but stirred awake when I got out of bed. Darn. Princess Daddy and I took turns holding her while getting dressed and packing the last of our things.

I got Pink, Purple and Orange up at 4:40. They dressed, used the bathroom and got in the van. We packed up a few last things and were ready to leave at 5 am on the dot. Just as I was locking the door, I asked the girls if they had their pillows. NO. Good thing I went back to get them. Our last suitcase was still upstairs. Oops.

5:05 am and on the road.

5:35 am we crossed the Missouri Illinois state line just as the sun was rising and full moon was setting.

6:00 I passed out breakfast. Sausage (cooked the night before and served cold), smoothies in our Squeasy Snacker pouches and gf, df chocolate zucchini muffins from Costco.

6:35 Stopped at a gas station for bathroom breaks and to nurse the baby. The changing table was labeled in 8 different languages. We really enjoyed “wicklelanderslogen”

6:50 Back on the road. Listening to Adventures of Odyssey.

7:20 Green finally fell back asleep. Fingers crossed she gets a good nap in for a couple hours.

8:05 Changed discs to the Descendants 2 Soundtrack. Green woke up dancing. LOL. She is happy so far. We just crossed the Illinois Indiana state line.

9:40 We lost an hour due to the time change and stopped for another bathroom/diaper change/nursing break. Back on the road and watching a movie now: Descendants. Everyone ate a snack from their bags. Popcorners, a new snack for us, are DELICIOUS.

11:10 Stopped again to nurse. Green is so overtired. We’re in Indiana and the roads are just horrible. Every time we hit a pothole she starts crying again. Still making good time. Trying to keep trucking along. God has provided us with much patience this morning. We’re about 1/3 of the way there.

11:40 She’s out.

12:25 pm (Reminder we are on EST now) We crossed the Indiana Ohio state line about 30 minutes ago. Green just woke up and we are eating our bagged lunches while driving. (Princess Daddy eats while I’m nursing the baby.)

1:30 Stopped at a rest area so Pink, Purple and Orange could get out and run. And boy did they run! We refilled our waters too. Nursed Green again and she enjoyed some applesauce. She’s getting mad at me for putting her back in the car seat so much now. We are 7 1/2 hours in and just about halfway there. Oh and I’m told the turkey and beef sticks we got from Trader Joe’s for our lunch bags taste like pepperoni pizza.

3:20 Stopped for another nursing break. Green is sticking to her every 2 hours or less nursing schedule so if we stop for 20 min of every 2 hours, we will make it there by next Tuesday. Hahaha. I’m KIDDING. *Hopefully* our next stop will be for dinner. Currently watching Moana and praying the baby takes her nap without a lot of sad tears first. I miss my snuggles with her.

3:50 Crossed the Ohio West Virginia state line. Baby is still awake.

4:00 And into Pennsylvania now. Green still awake. Orange is napping though. 🙂

5:00 pm We are on the turnpike with no good food choices so cruising on for now. All four girls are OUT. I had to use my white noise app to help Green finally give in. She was so tired, poor thing.

7:00 pm. On the road again after having to stop for gas and a desperately hungry baby fresh off her nap. The good news? There’s a Chipotle and MOD Pizza right by where we are staying. The bad news? That’s 2 hours away and we are still in no man’s land. So dinner was??! Arby’s. Womp, womp. Orange rates it a 4 out of 10 and says her favorite part of the meal was the Capri Sun and the applesauce pouch. LOLOLOLOL. Green got to nurse for a nice long time and I could tell how happy she was to have her mommy. I can’t wait to snuggle her in bed tonight. Alllllllmost there. In the home stretch now. We listened to some Ed Sheeran while the kids napped and are now rocking out to the Trolls Soundtrack.

8:20 Last stop. Maybe. Praying so! Green nursed, got a fresh diaper and she’s so mad about being in the car still. Me too, lady.

9:10 Nope. ARE WE THERE YET?!?

10:00 pm We finally pulled in just before 10. 17 hours of driving. Took 1 hour less than I jokingly imagined. The last “3 hours to go” took 5 hours to complete. After the stop at 9, I literally begged God to bring peace to my baby. Nothing hurts my heart more than to have her so upset and not know why she can’t have her momma. She fell asleep minutes after!! We spent the last hour of the drive admiring the moon rising in front of us and wondering just how high into the mountain we had to climb. It’s so dark I have no idea what our view looks like. I can’t wait to see though.

Now it’s time for VACATION to start. 🙂

Oh, Dairy

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I asked Green’s doctor about dairy again yesterday. She’s almost 9 months old. I’ve been strictly dairy free since shortly after her birth due to it upsetting her system a lot. We tried at 7 months, then at 8 to introduce her to just a little bit through my diet to see what happened and unfortunately no success. So we wait until about 15 months. Then not again until age 2. She may end up being like big sister, Orange and needing to stay dairy free.

In the meantime, it’s been wonderful for my inflammation. My fibromyalgia and other autoimmune conditions are in remission and I feel better than ever.

Score!

Life of a Retired Runner

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Something unexpected happened after I ran my marathon… I started HATING the sport. I had two 5k races and a 1 mile fun run already scheduled for the months after my marathon and do you know what I ended up doing? Walking. All of it!

Running was such a big part of my life. Huge. It helped me overcome post partum depression. It helped me lose weight. It made me feel strong. I used it to practice the concepts of mind over matter for my doula training. Running WAS my life. But after my marathon I had no desire to ever run again.

I heard this could happen. I waited and waited for the desire to run to hit me again. Well, then I got pregnant and had an excruciatingly painful pregnancy. All the sudden a year and a half of my life passed by like a blink. Around 6 months postpartum with Green, I was finally ready to work out again. But running? Nope!

I started with rebounding, a form of exercise done on a mini trampoline. I added in hiking. And then we bought a spin bike. I’m now working out again daily, absolutely loving it and not suffering some of the joint and impact consequences of running.

Retirement feels pretty dang good.

My Marathon Story

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14494835_10155057887341729_2794210292275623317_nThis weekend, I completed a marathon. 26.2 miles. For 6 hours, 43 minutes, and 29 seconds, I pushed myself harder than I have ever done before. That’s longer than labor lasted with my first child! And much like with my births, here I am to type up my story.

I signed up for the MO Cowbell race here locally in St. Charles, MO back in April after weighing a lot of options in my mind. I ran my first half marathon in April 2015. I picked to Go! St. Louis half in downtown St. Louis and really loved the course and race. The after-party was great, the mood of the race was great. I loved everything about it. In 2016, not ready for another half, we opted for the 7k they offered instead. As we finished I remembered everything I loved about the year before and decided the following year I was coming back for the full marathon. Read the rest of this entry

Support a Doula, Get a Cool Shirt!

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Available in other colors and designs too!

Check out this awesome shirt design made by Princess Daddy to support me on my journey to become a childbirth educator and doula. Order your shirt today and share the idea with your friends. This design will only be available until April 15th so act now!

https://www.booster.com/yourdoulaheather

Writer Road Trip: Fibromyalgia and My Half Marathon

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Writer Road TripHi lovely readers! I am keeping very busy with many things and unfortunately, this gives little time for Our Magical Chaos. Post here will likely be few and far between for awhile but I’d love it if you join me over at MumblingMommy.com I post at least twice a month and I’m the social media editor. Plenty of good things there to keep you entertained and to follow along with my family.

A few of my recent posts over there:

Dear Fibromyalgia, I Won! A Look at My Half Marathon Results

Thursday Three: Why I Stopped Looking for Mom Friends

Buying New Things When Kids Are Still Around

My Daughter Won the Science Fair: Why You Should Let Your Kid Do Her Own Work

Product Review: Mobidri Towel (And a Half Marathon Recap)

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The Mobidri Stays Tucked Away, No Problem

The Mobidri Stays Tucked Away, No Problem

This past weekend I checked off a major goal, I ran a half marathon! I added this to my list of accomplishments I wanted to have before turning 30 but really, it was about accomplishing it for me. Even if I didn’t make it before 30 for some reason, I still wanted to do that run.

I wrote all about my race on Mumbling Mommy in a post titled Dear Fibromyalgia, I Won!

I’ve talked about my running gear before but for this post, I want to talk about a new addition to my lineup, the Mobidri towel. If you don’t know already, the Mobidri towel is “highly technical, water-resistant on the inner, super absorbent on the outer, thin, lightweight and designed to stay with you.” So it’s a sweat rag, right? That’s what I thought at first too. And then I spent 14 weeks of training with it. This is NOT your average sweat rag.  Read the rest of this entry