Monday, November 26, 2018

Mid year homeschool update! (Video)

Hey everyone!
Here is a little mid year homeschool update. We've switched a couple of things curriculum wise, but overall our year has been going really smoothly! Check out this video for more about our year so far. Hard to believe we are almost half way through! 

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Twin Boys Shared Room

My boys' room is one of my favorite spaces in our house, because it's just simple and sweet. 
I've found some statement pieces that appeal to both them and me, but it generally stays very clutter free because there just isn't stuff to become cluttered in there, and I really like that. It's what I would ideally really like for our entire house, but most of the other rooms in our house just have more stuff than this. Being in their room just brings me a lot of joy and makes me feel at ease, and I like that feeling. 
When I was dreaming up what I wanted for their room, I had a lot of different ideas but I ultimately decided to go with a black & white theme. I thought that it would give a streamlined, simple, classic look while also being able to find things we liked to fit in. I also have a kiddo with some sensory needs, so keeping it basic was important for that reason as well-not much to overwhelm him when he's in there. 
For now, we are doing floor beds with them. We were just switching them out of cribs when we moved into this house and wanted to see how they would do, and it has worked out really well having their beds on the floor. My boys are boys and are really hard on things, so it's just less furniture for them to destroy ;) We have toyed with the idea of building little pallet beds or something in the future. 
So, welcome to my sons' room!

This was a verse I prayed over the boys a lot when they were in foster care and we were quite literally fighting the system. The whole chapter of Exodus 14 was very comforting to me and reminded me of Who is in control. Read it if you haven't :)

That's pretty much it! They have a dresser in their closet, and most of their toys are in the play area we have in our basement. 
Thanks for checking it out! Is there any space in our house you'd like to see next? I am trying to get around to photographing rooms now that a lot of them are complete! We're working on our master now, so hopefully I'll have that done and can share it soon! 

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Saturday, November 10, 2018

Souper Soup Recipe

I've found that sometimes if I give food a different name, my kids will eat it. 
Like cucumbers. "I don't like cucumbers," they said. So I called them pepinos (spanish for cucumber) and what do you know, they liked pepinos. Same with beans. They don't like beans, but they'll eat frijoles. #kids. 
My husband and I love this soup. It's hearty and filling and just really hits the spot on a cold day. It's veggie packed and you can really put whatever you want in it, but our kids thought they wouldn't like it until I called it souper soup and again, whaddyaknow. 
I took a couple of different vegetable beef recipes I was following and mixed and matched with the veggies my family likes best and that's how I came up with this recipe. It'll make a nice big batch, so there'll definitely be leftovers for lunch the next day! Hope you enjoy it! 

Here's what you'll need: 
  • 2 lbs ground beef, drained 
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced 
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 4-6 carrots, peeled & chopped 
  • 3-4 red potatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup corn
  • red bell pepper, diced
  • green bell pepper, diced
  • yellow or orange bell pepper, diced 
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (or any type of tomatoes)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley

Here's what you'll do: 

Brown the beef with onion, celery & garlic; drain. Add the rest of the ingredients, bring to a boil, then cover & reduce to simmer for about 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Serve it with some warm bread on the side! 

Enjoy, and try to stay warm!! 
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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How to Travel Affordably

I have heard many people mention over the years that they can't afford to travel. In some cases, this may truly be the case, but I think a lot of the time, people are going about traveling all wrong! 
The short answer to the "how to afford to travel" dilemma would probably be something along the lines of: you invest in what's important to you. Our family has decided traveling is something that is really important to us. Do we spend more than some people would think is reasonable on travel each year? Maybe. But many others may think we do it affordably. I have learned a lot of tips and tricks on how to get the most bang for your buck when traveling, and I hope you find some of them helpful! 
1. Travel in the off season
I know for some people this isn't possible due to work or school obligations, but if you can make it work, it really does save a ton. And a lot of the time, the "off season" really isn't that off. For example, we went to Hilton Head Island in May. It was 80-90 degrees the whole time we were there. Perfect beach weather, but at off season prices. We also found flights to Utah in September for several hundred less a person than in the following months (ski season). 

2. Drive instead of flying
This one is obvious, but driving over flying usually saves a ton of money. Not always, depending on how many people you have, where you're going, etc. For a family of 6 like ours, flying is rare. It's just not worth it to us to spend $1500-$3000 more to save a few hours. We save it for the really far destinations, or when we get great prices on flights.
3. Fly out of bigger airports
When we do fly, we often check other airports within 4 hours of us. We have a smaller local airport that can be expensive to fly in and out of, so sometimes it makes more sense to drive 2-4 hours to a huge hub like Chicago, St. Louis, etc. and fly out of there. 

4. Fly smaller airlines
We typically find the best prices on flights through the smaller airlines like Frontier, Allegiant, Southwest or Spirit. We are currently looking at $115 round trip tickets through Spirit. My mom often finds deals on Frontier for less than $100 each way. 
5. Don't stay in hotels
Hotels are increasingly becoming an unaffordable option while traveling. Sometimes there's no way around it, but almost everywhere you go, you can find some type of rental for a way cheaper rate. For our family, staying in hotels usually just doesn't make sense. Our kids need space to move around, and most hotel rooms have a max capacity of 4 people. So, we either need to get 2 hotel rooms or some type of suite. We can usually find a rental for 1/2 the price of doing that, plus then we have access to a kitchen, which saves us a lot of money on food while traveling. Our favorite places to look for vacation rentals are VRBO and Airbnb.

6. Travel during the week
If you can avoid weekend travel, rates are usually cheaper for lodging, flights, and sometimes even certain activities. My husband doesn't get very much vacation, so this is always a tricky one for us, but when we can, we try to avoid weekend travel. 

7. Buy a vacation package
Depending on what type of vacation you want to take, there may be packages available that can be really affordable! I have never used them, but I have looked at a lot of the vacation packages from Costco, and they have some really good deals! I have also heard really good things about Gate 1.
8. Choose one meal per day to eat out
Again, because of the size of our family, eating out for 3 meals a day while we're traveling would be $$$! We generally choose one meal per day to eat out (usually dinner) and then just do an easy breakfast most of the time, and the other meal in our rental. We keep it simple so we don't have to do a lot of cooking on vacation, but this saves us hundreds of dollars each trip. With the size of our family, when we go out to eat on vacation, it can be anywhere from $50-$100+ per meal. So if we're eating out 3 times a day that could be $150-$300 per day! Doing easy meals in the condo can save us well over $100 per day of vacation. 

9. Check for activity deals on discount sites
Using sites like Groupon are always helpful when checking for things to do at your destination. Just doing a google search of affordable activities helps, too! When we went to San Diego a couple years ago, through our search we found out about the Go card which got us into probably hundreds of places! Of course, we couldn't go everywhere, but the cost of the card would have been about the same as just going to 2 of the places we wanted to go, so it was a great deal for us! 

What other tips do you have for traveling affordably? I really believe it can be done, whether you're taking a short road trip, or going international. You just have to look for the right deals and maybe be a little bit flexible on some things! 
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Wednesday, October 10, 2018


I have lots of posts in my mind that I need to sit down and write (hopefully I'll be able to carve out some time soon) but for today, nothing too heavy. Just a little bit of random, which is sometimes the best.

making:: a mental list of things I want to do while we have the next couple weeks off of school.

cooking:: mexican chicken in the crockpot.

drinking:: nothing, but craving a warm cup of hot chocolate!

reading:: I'm trying to get through the book Little Bee. Can't decide yet if I like it. Also reading Messy Grace with my husband, and have Adopted For Life and Woke Church up next when we finish that.

wanting:: to turn on the fire place, but pretty sure my husband shut it off for summer. Time to get it going again!

looking:: at my kids playing nicely. One reading a book, and two playing sweetly, while one is upstairs with the speech therapist.

playing:: googly eyes! We played it last night with the girls and it was a lot of fun, but man those glasses make it really hard to see! 

wasting:: ? I can't think of anything I'm wasting right now. I guess that's a good thing.

wishing:: the weather was always this perfect!

enjoying:: our time off from school. This is why we started so early-so we could take time off in the fall!

waiting:: on my buddy to get done with speech so we can go play at the library!

liking:: the way I've been studying the Bible lately. It has been helping me SO much with really digging in and studying and learning Truth.

wondering:: about some church things. We recently moved to a new church and are still getting to know people/the church, and it's that weird in between of not yet knowing how things work there, but also being excited to be there. Which leaves me with a lot of wondering :) 

loving:: some of the really good conversations I've been able to have with my husband lately. Mostly re: spiritual growth. They've all been really good & helpful and I love talking to him.

hoping:: for this weather to continue so I can keep wearing sweatshirts, drinking hot cocoa and eating soup!

marveling:: at what God has done recently in our family. It has been so, so good and I'm really grateful.

needing:: to brush my hair. I didn't have time this morning before the girls supervising teacher and boys speech therapist came over. I like to keep their expectations low when they come to our house ;) 

smelling:: new clothes. I bought & couldn't wait to wear the sweatshirt I have on now, so it hasn't been washed yet and honestly smells so good.

wearing:: a super comfy sweatshirt from Target (size up 1-2 sizes if you want a loose comfy fit-TTS is pretty fitted), and yoga pants. We had no real commitments today so we're all dressed comfy and casual.

noticing:: how good of readers my girls are becoming! Their fluency has really boomed the last few months. They were reading with their supervising teacher this morning and it gave me a chance to just sit back and watch/listen and it was a "WOW" moment! I'm so proud of them!

knowing:: that my kids are happy & healthy is one of the best feelings.

thinking:: about what my husband is having for lunch. He has free lunch at work cooked by a professional chef (jealous) and I have to live vicariously through him.

bookmarking:: some curriculum stuff I found on Teachers Pay Teachers.

opening:: a notepad to figure out schedules for activities for kids. It's already getting hard to fit everything in.

feeling:: happy! It's been a good couple weeks off of school and just enjoying life with my family :) 

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Sunday, August 19, 2018

Summer 2018

This summer flew by (as it always does) and here we are, heading into fall, getting back into the routine of school and activities. Here's a little recap of all the fun we had this summer! 

We started off the summer early with a vacation in May to Hilton Head Island.

My husband bought a motorcycle, which most of the kids are obsessed with. 

There was lots of time spent at parks!

We made several trips to the Children's Museum.

We went to visit some friends over Memorial Day weekend. 

There were a couple of outdoor movies we were able to make it to (different locations, but ironically both playing the same movie several months apart...)

We tried to hit up festivals and events when we were able to.

We went on some bike rides.

Same friends we went and visited came and stayed with us a few weeks later while they were in town for a wedding.

There were a few picnics, both in the yard and at parks.

This beautiful girl did an incredible job at her first big recital!

The girls took a swamp slime class where they got to catch tadpoles, hold a snake and frog, and make slime.

Our neighborhood was completely overrun with these little tiny frogs for a few weeks. The kids had a blast catching them, and making little homes for them for a few hours. This was easy entertainment for almost the whole month of June.

The girls took an art class twice a week for 3 weeks in June. They brought home lots of beautiful paintings.

Both of the boys got cellulitis from bug bites (a few weeks apart), so that was fun. There was also an ER visit for stitches for one of the boys. 

We celebrated Father's Day with our favorite guy.

There were a lot of lazy mornings with cuddles and show watching in my bed. 

We went to Omaha with my family for a long weekend. 

We saw fireworks with some friends on the 3rd. 

We went to the free kids movie on the 4th since Daddy was off work.

The girls had a one morning pajama party dance camp at little sister's dance studio. (Big sis, aka 'I don't like to dance' had wayyyy too much fun!) 

We got to spend some time with a high school friend of mine who was in town visiting, meet her boyfriend, go on a double date and introduce them to my kids!

The kids had a fun weekend with their grandparents while we met our friends in Davenport, IA for an adults only weekend. 

The girls had 2 weeks of daily swim lessons in the middle of July.

We did lots of school supply shopping, both for our homeschool and for donations, and it was SO FUN (I am obsessed with school/office supplies!)

My TX family came to visit and got to spend my 31st birthday with me. We did all kinds of fun stuff while they were here including birthday donuts at the create your own donut place, birthday pedicures, shopping, Incredibles 3, dinners out, and more. 

The girls and I did VBS one week in July (one of the best & most exhausting weeks of the year, haha) 

We said farewell to the boys amazing speech therapist of 2 years and they each started working with someone new. 

Went to some farmer's markets.

A nice bus driver let us sit on a bus one day. 3 of my kids loved it, and the one who I thought would like it most, didn't.

We got donuts for dinner one night, just because we can, and headed to a park.

My sweet oldest professed faith in Christ and was baptized in our backyard!!! (I'll have to do a separate post on this with pictures).

We flew kites (this is a fun daddy thing--I sat and watched)

We made it to the trampoline park a few times (trying to get in a few more times before my oldest is too old for the "toddler time" and I have to start paying more than $5/kid!)

Spent some time in the get along shirt #siblingsquabbles Works like a charm!

We went to visit the kids great grandma and the kids entertained all the residents with their dance party. 

Mall security gave the kids tickets for a free ride on the carousel and they were thrilled!

That about wraps it up for the summer! We're looking forward to a great fall season! 

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