just push send

It is almost humorous. I start this post with very little faith that I will actually finish it. You see, I've started almost 10 blog posts on different topics on my mind (faith, food, kids, etc), but they pine away in my drafts file and never see the light of day. I'm cruel to them, I know. I don't know what it is… I have thoughts mulling away in my head and sit down at the end of the day to write and I just fizzle. So, that is why I am writing as I am semi-laughing to myself thinking this post will go to die in the drafts file.

Our life lately in bullet points, because who doesn't just love bullet points?!

  • Drew is almost 9 months. That is pure craziness. What a joy he is! He really is the sweetest thing in the world. He is super smiley and loves to laugh and woo all who will give him a passing glance. He is doing better sleeping at night which is a huge praise. He eats around 8-9pm and sleeps until 5-6am, eats, then sleeps until 7-9am. We have had to let him cry a little in his crib because waking up a million times a night just isn't a good thing for anyone. But, after one night of crying, he has learned that he needs to sleep and he has put himself back to bed. He is nursing great and almost too well… he really hasn't been super into solid food! I think his tongue thrust reflex stuck around a little longer and just this week, he has started to swallow food! Yay!!! He has tried soft-boiled runny egg yolk, sweet potato, carrots, apples, blueberries and cream, chicken, beef (all pureed). We skipped the rice cereal for a whole host of reasons and he is finally doing well on opening his mouth and not spitting everything out!
  • Cade is starting 2nd grade in a few weeks. He did swim lessons and tae kwon do and I feel like we were busier in the summer than we were in the school year, so ironically, I am excited for school to start so we can get back to our home routine. I miss being home all the time (wow, I never thought I would say that!) He is growing leaps and bounds and it is so encouraging to se the fruit of training in his life. God has been so gracious and kind to allow us moments of encouragement and blessing from his sweet soul. He asks really great questions and his mind is so sharp and incredibly eager. What a blessing he is. Homeschool second grade: let's go!
  • Reese is 4 and will do Calvary Kids at our church (a preschool, mommy and me program). She is over the moon and we are already practicing the routine of things with her. She loves to write and color and craft, so I am really thrilled to do the program with a kid who is interested in crafts!! (Cade just wanted to run up and down the halls the whole time during craft time! :/) She is spunky. She usually is wearing mismatched clothing, lego or sparkly crocs, with her wild curly hair, sometimes in a messy ponytail. But, her spunk and thrill for life is refreshing and she really is the most unique little girl.
  • Ian and I celebrated 10 years of marriage last month. whew! What a joy is has been and it really feels like 10 minutes ago that we got married. When we tell people 10 years, (waiters, Ian's company reps at work, etc…) they are SHOCKED we made it this long. One in particular said, "oh all my friends have never made it past 7!" How sad! We are so thankful for the Lord's work in our life to make us who we are. He gets all the credit and our relationship is so much deeper and vast than I could have ever imagined: a testimony to God's faithfulness to come through on His promises.
  • We finished our backyard renovation. It would be cool to see before and after pics, huh? Well, maybe next time, my pictures are on the other computer :) We ripped up everything, literally, trees, grass, plants, junk, and more junk… everything, and it is so nice to finally see some GREEN outside! 
Ok, I am tempted to just push send to feel the satisfaction of a completed post… so maybe one day I will get around to some things on my mind (like, why I deleted my Facebook page and love not having it… why 'dying to self' has been my hard pill to swallow with this 3rd baby and needing to serve, serve, serve, and serve some more, but why it has been the absolute best thing for me, some recipes we are loving, and just other random thoughts that fly through my crazy brain. 


Thoughts of late

Things that have been on my mind - Ideally, I would expand upon each topic for its own blog post, but lets be realistic…

  • We just finished our first year of homeschooling. It was a good year. Considering we moved, I was bedridden for months, we had our third baby, spent a month in the NICU, all before Christmas break… I think our school year went well. We did take a chunk of time off in November when Drew was born but that is what I have come to love about homeschooling. It works with our life, our schedule and fits our needs. The instruction will happen, just not on a rigid schedule. 
  • I'm already full on prepping for next year. We are going to continue homeschooling Cade in the fall. He will be in 2nd Grade. That is pure craziness. How is he that old?! We are also going to participate in Calvary Kids in the fall with sweet Reese. Drew, well, he gets toted around and just has to be chill about it. He really is a rad baby.
  • We are jointing our local Classical Conversations community. It is a "classroom program" one morning a week. 9am-12pm. 3 hours of tutoring with other Christian families. I'm really excited about this, especially since Reese gets to participate as well! Science experiments, speech assignments, and lots of memorization of Scripture, multiplication tables, geography, and historical events (and this year we will be memorizing all the parts of the body, bones included!)
  • I went to the CHEA Homeschool convention at Disneyland last week. Since we have a little nursing bebe, we didn't want to make a vacation out of it, so I just went to the Exhibit hall to purchase textbooks and schooling materials for next year. I was a kid in a candy store. 200 booths of books, supplies, software, crafts, homeschool programs, organizational products, it was super fun. Ian says I am crazy, but it was so fun.
  • Reese is 2 weeks away from her 4th birthday. Boy has she blossomed into the most spunky little thing. Seriously, she is the most unique little kid in the world. She dresses up as Elsa from Frozen while acting out Lego Ninjago scenes. She literally cracks us up all the time. She is still quite the enigma to me. I'm praying for wisdom for how to understand her. She is super strong willed and then super emotional and sensitive all rolled up into a little fiery French-morrocan tanned body. 
  • Cade is almost 7. He is adding, subtracting, and multiplying. He is super into drawing, legos, memorizing anything, and he begs to take his fermented cod liver oil and tells me to get a bigger spoon so he can take more (!?). He is such a loving sweetie, especially to Drew. He is my helper. His carseat is next to Drew's and keeps him happy in the car (which is quite the feat). He is finishing his first season of Baseball and 
  • Ian and I are a month or so away from celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. TEN!? Yikes. How did that happen? Its funny, I still feel like I learn more things about him all the time. In some ways it feels like our wedding was last week and yet it feels like we have come so far from that hot day in the middle of July, 2004. Either way, our love runs deeper and wider than I could have ever imagined. 
  • My sister and her husband are preparing for full time ministry in the middle east and they are moving in september. It is a really strange feeling. We are so excited for them. So excited for their plans, their amazing boldness and commitment to Christ and His Kingdom, and the desperate need for the gospel in that area of the world. However, with the sweetness of their plans and ministry, comes the bitterness of distance. So, for now, I try to be thankful for every day and not let my mind wander to the future. God gives me the strength for today. He will supply the strength on the day they fly there with no ticket home, but that day is not today. I can rest in his sufficient grace today.
  • Swim lessons start Tuesday. Cade and Reese are pumped. 
  • Ian and I have been involved with the college ministry at our church for the last 5 years and at the end of June, we will start up a Friday night Bible Study at our house. We are so excited. We wanted this house to be used for ministry and God has provided such a neat opportunity to serve along side our best friends and minister to the young adults at our church. We bought this house specifically because it had a separate upstairs for kids to be put to bed, while we hosted events downstairs. So, I will put the kiddies to bed while Ian leads the music for the study and our dear friend teaches. We are really excited to see who the Lord brings and all that comes from it. College ministry was such a treasure in our lives and we can't wait to facilitate that. We will probably be getting a ping pong table (how Ian and I spent most of our "dates" while we were in college).
  • Lets see.. what else is on my mind and going on in our lives. 
  • I'm working on a follow up post to my first Essential Oils post. So much information to sift through! Why can't it all be easy to navigate! But, I'm putting together a list of helpful oils we use, brands we trust and have seen positive results from, and what oils have been tested and proved safe for children and infants.
  • I started weight watchers again. Peace out baby weight! We are running the 1/2 marathon at Disneyland again this year and training begins in a week! AHHH! I'm ready but still, having the extra baby weight on my body has really affected my joints and I'm way more sore than I have ever been. I'm cutting out all sugar (grain included) and limiting my dairy intake to one glass of raw milk a day (plus ghee and butter for seasoning veggies and cooking eggs). I realized the other day I drank 1/2 a gallon of milk in a day. Oh my goodness. I have a problem. No wonder the baby weight is hanging around. I keep feeding it deliciously tasty grassed raw milk! Eek. 
  • Drew (Drew bee, Doodle, Drewdle, Drool) He is such a cool baby. He is the happiest little thing ever. He hates the car (every baby has to have some screaming) but he loves so many other things that is makes up for the car (and, I don't really go anywhere ;). He's drooling a ton and I expect a tooth soon. He wakes up once in the night to eat and goes right back to bed. I'm sure I should let him crypt out, but having the other two kids sleep all night is too important to me… so, I feed him :) I'd rather give him more milk anyways!
  • He's nursing exclusively still. I am going to try a totally different approach to baby feeding. I'm waiting until he is 6 months and then will start with egg yolks, avocado, and banana. No baby cereal and no pureeing. Following the "baby led weaning" of traditional societies guided by "the nourishing traditions book of baby and child care" I am going for it! My two older kids hated veggies until we could make it an obedience issue. So, I'm determined to figure out what went wrong! They never made the transition from puree to actual food. Like, they could eat broccoli puree all day long, but never ever ever ate a bite of broccoli. So, I plan on just mashing up (with butter) what we have for dinner and not worrying and stressing about making a separate meal for the baby. Here goes nothing! (Well, my sister is doing the same thing for her baby so we are in it together!) Drew has already had cod liver oil so he's well on his way to a real food start!
  • Wow this is a lot of information, most of which doesn't matter to anyone. It helps me to work through what is on my mind and write down the thoughts in the moment because I know I will easily forget what is going on in my life and I don't want to forget. I like going back and reading my thoughts years later and laugh at how silly I was, so, future me… laugh away!


Essential Oils

This post has been floating around in my brain for a while, so please forgive me if it is not clear or if it is jumbled. That is how I roll these days :) And, I want to start this post saying that essential oils are NOT a thing to argue over. People matter more than essential oils, so love one another, despite the oil company they buy from :)

Moving on...

Just saying that phrase invokes various reactions…

1) Some might roll their eyes… Oh brother… Another wacky "granola" thing.

2) You might start talking about YOUR oil company and how yours is the only one in the entire world who can claim "true pure 100% amazingness."

3) You might be confused about oils and have no idea what the hype is all about.

4) You could also be learning and researching on your own and be in the thick of making decisions for your family.

5) You might just love essential oils and want other people to know about them because you have seen them work for your family firsthand.

I'm sure there are a lot of other responses to the subject of essential oils, of course, I just named a few. This subject has become fairly more popular in the last few years since a certain large company has been aggressively marketing to moms in particular.

Now, I have no financial motivation and I am not being compensated in any way for this post. This is my own opinion. That's all. Take it, or probably just leave it since I'm just a random mom trying to research for her family… I'm not a doctor, nor a nurse, nor a scientist. I do like to read and I like to research… (not just searching Dr. Google for answers… I have looked into medical journals and actual real paper books (!!) ha!) I have contacted the various companies on my own with all questions I have and that is why I wanted to write about it. If I name drop and offend you, I'm sorry! That is not my intention! 

Do they work?
Essential oils have been used for centuries. There are many references to essential oils in the Bible. Myrrh, hyssop, frankinsence, etc. They are time tested and a great alternative to the drugs that we as a culture so quickly resort to. After all, many of the healing properties in plants are what many drugs are based on. They isolate elements in plants and reproduce them in labs and then massively produce the medicine on a huge scale. 

There is also enough "personal testimony" out there to know that they do work. In our home, I was so skeptical, but we have had success with them! (That is for another post)…

BUT what is more important???
This is my biggest pet peeve with the Essential Oil trend… what you eat and drink is a huge determiner of your overall health. So, if you are eating cruddy foods yet slapping expensive essential oils on your body, do you really think you are doing what is best for your health? 
Like, there are tons of essential oil "recipes" for how to cure eczema… Cut out pasteurized dairy and wheat first and see how you feel. 
Stop eating junk food, pasteurized dairy, white flour, sugar, etc etc etc  and I'm sure you will feel a ton better! No essential oil can replace a healthy, whole, clean, diet. Bottom line.
And, you will be wasting a lot of money (oils ain't cheap) if you are feeding your body yucky stuff and yet putting nice stuff on your skin.
that is my rant … moving on ;)

Does quality matter?
This is an obvious yes. Just like, I would not drink raw milk from sick cows living in a confined factory farm… so too, where you buy your oils really does matter. More on this later...

The Organic Factor?
This is a big sticking point for me. Essential Oils can be certified organic. There are specific oils that are better harvested from a "wild grown" field. (No human farming in order to grow, just found naturally in the wild).
The plant that the essential oil is distilled from matters. Was it sprayed with a boat load of pesticide or treated with nasty chemical fertilizer? Of course, only if it is truly certified organic, can we know with certainty if those things are true. Look up wikipedia and even there you can find a simple run down of what qualifications a farm needs to maintain in order to be certified organic.

Now, a small farmer, unable to pay for the extra certification of third party organic testing, might follow organic farming principles but not have the actual label… of course, you would only know that if you spoke directly to the farmer, visited the actual farm, etc. (I know a farmer at the farmers market where that is the case!)

However, two of the largest Essential Oil companies: Young Living and Doterra, do not sell organic oils. They sure do claim "beyond organic" standards in all of their literature… but they are large companies, I would expect an organic certification for all of their oils. 

When I hosted a DoTerra Oil class in my home, I asked the EO guru lady plenty of questions about organic certification and she could give me no real answer. She even said "there are no standards for essential oil organic certification (which is absolutely not true) but DoTerra's oils are "beyond organic." Well, "beyond organic standards" means very little to me in this day and especially when a large company could totally certify them. And… they CAN be certified organic! If the plant is certified organic, the oil that is distilled from it, is organic!

What company is best?
This is the question of the hour, I suppose. Who can you trust? Who is really the best? Again, I don't want to start a debate. I encourage you to do your own research. Dig deep into literature and study. Don't just take phrases from a company and run with them. They are making lots of money and of course would never say negative things about their product. I'm a business owner who sells a product and of course I know there are flaws in my product, but I would never post those on any ads or marketing campaigns! I would highlight all the good. I want it to sell after all!

This blog series from Whole New Mom was very informative. She has done a ton of research, way beyond mine but it was a good launching point to question the things that I have been told from the EO rep in my home.

Multi-level Marketing Companies
(DoTerra and Young Living)
First of all, in general, these are the most expensive oils. DoTerra being the most expensive. 

We as a culture are really good at assuming that just because something costs the most, it is the best. These companies have a pricing structure that requires 6 people making money off of your purchase. Since you sign up as a distributor, the person who signed you up, the person that signed them up, and on and on… all make a little $$$ on your $32.00 bottle of OnGuard. This can add up to be quite a bit of money. Granted, if you wanted to support your friends and help them make money, go for it. That is why I initially signed up with DoTerra.

I will speak to DoTerra specifically because that is specifically what I have experience with. 
What I really like:
1) The oils smell great - there is no denying it.

2) The oils work - I've used many single oils as well as blends like OnGuard, Breathe, Deep Blue for massages, Purify for diffusing and laundry. We've had great success with their oils and I will continue to use them.

3) Honestly, I love the look of the Doterra Oil bottles. Its the graphic designer in me that is a major sucker for a good label and logo design. (this is a silly issue, but it is still worth mentioning :)

4) It also is a way to make money. Every business has the right to set up its profit structure however they want! Sure, it isn't the way I run my personal business, but Doterras Multi-Level Marketing structure has proven to be a successful business model for many companies. Once you have asked all of your friends and family though, it becomes hard to branch out unless you are super pumped and committed to making money. Which, some have and that is great for them! 

What I don't like:
1) They don't offer many oils.
There are a lot of oils out there and so many varieties of different plants. Doterra has 41 single oils. That is really not very many considering how many plant variations are out there.

2) They are expensive.
Since it is a Multi-level marketing company, quite a few people need to profit off of your purchase, so naturally, they will cost a lot. The consultants are trained to tell you that the high cost is because of high quality.

3) The consultants are not medically trained yet readily give out medical counsel.
You need a social security number to sign up as a"wellness advocate." No medical training and no certifications. Which, is fine if you are okay with that, but I personally, just have a hard time convincing someone to stop taking a certain medication when I am by no means a doctor. (Even though I have my own opinions on why they should stop certain medications, I would never tell someone "quit your meds and start some oils" :: too much responsibility and potential guilt there, no thank you).

The first part of the class I hosted in my home included the instructor having everyone put some peppermint oil in their hands. I had my 3 month old in my lap and we had just talking about how I was nursing him and yet, she put it in my hands and told me to sniff away. At the time, I did it and didn't think anything of it. However, a quick little search online will reveal that peppermint oil will dry up a mothers milk supply and is not a safe oil for newborns. (!!!!) Hello!? Of course, I know the instructor wasn't scheming against me to get me to stop nursing, but lack of information and even basic knowledge of the effects of certain oils really does not sit well with me.

Especially in regards to using these oils on children, do your homework from certified aromatherapist and find out how to properly dilute oils to appropriately treat children (especially infants!!!!!).

4) They readily endorse the internal use of oils.
This is a huge topic for debate but the more I read on Aromatheraphy from certified Aromatherapists, all oils should only be ingested under the care of a certified aromatherapist. Essential oils are potent. They are powerful, no doubt. Taking them internally should be done with extreme caution, if done at all.
Also, many oils taken internally are not meant to be absorbed in the stomach and most likely will get processed by the liver. Oils applied to the largest organ: the skin, has proven to be the most effective method of application as well as diffusing into the air aromatically.
One study showed that putting oils on the feet took 20 minutes to start working in the body. It took 20 minutes for the gel cap to dissolve in a person who took oils internally in a gel cap.

5) The CPTG issue
Doterra's oils are "Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade" which means absolutely nothing. It is a trademarked phrase. It would be like me, trademarking the phrase "world's most amazing mom chef" and saying that it proves that I am a good cook. You can trade mark any phrase you want and claim that it means something. CPTG is just that… a marketing phrase used to get people to think it means something. There is no FDA or USDA phrase that certifies anything in regards to essential oils. Yes, they test their oils, but making their own "grade" of oils and claiming that they are superior to all others is questionable.

6) Questionable ingredients in Other Doterra products
There is carrageenan in most of their products: all gel caps and supplements, toothpaste, beadlets and throat drops. This ingredient, though in many organic foods, is one to avoid. It is also considered a carcinogen!!!! A company boasting about health preservation might want to consider removing this ingredient from their products, just my opinion.

Overall, Doterra is a good oil company. If they didn't work, people wouldn't use them and buy them, so obviously it is a company that has a good product… but is it the ONLY company that sells "pure" oils… no, it is not.

The Companies that we use

1) Native American Nutritionals

All oils are certified organic and have documents to prove it. All oils are sourced from small farms grown locally to the plants indigenous region. Therefore, producing the most pure and valuable oil. Some of the oils are similar in price to Doterra, but in general, they are more inexpensive.
And, you don't have to meet monthly minimums to keep your discount!

2) Mountain Rose Herbs

All oils are certified organic as well and have document and MS/DS sheets to back the claims up. The prices at Mountain Rose are incredibly inexpensive and you can order in all different amounts, 1/4oz (7.5mL), 1/2oz (15mL), 1 oz (30mL). Again, no monthly requirements and no signup fees. The money you save MORE than makes up for the "rewards" of "free" Doterra oils you earn on your purchases.

3) Aura Cacia

I purchased this brand years ago from Whole Food to include in recipes for homemade remedies and cleaning products. They have worked great and I have no complaints.

4) Doterra
Even with all the beefs I have with the company, I have purchased their oils and will use them. But, I think many people need to understand that there are other brands out there that are on par, or even superior to DoTerra. And, that is ok! Essential oils are not an issue worth fighting over!

Again, I do not write with the purpose to bash a certain company, I just know that sometimes, we need to be understanding and really question the things that companies tell us.
I hope this is blog post is a relief: you can still get the amazing benefits of essential oils without high costs and signing up for a business in a company. :)

Helpful websites that have helped shape my view of oils:

Whole New Mom - Series on the Best Essential Oil Company - This site has extensive information on research for many popular oil companies. I highly recommend reading the whole 7 part series.

Granola Living - Choice of Oil Company

Crunchy Betty  - 21 Things you need to know about essential oils

Books to read:
Aromatherapy for the Healthy Child

The Complete Book of Aromatherapy

Essential Oils Desk Reference

Modern Essentials - this book is helpful but it is published by Doterra, so much of the information on dosing, taking internally and using without dilution is questionable. But, the info on what each oil actually is and what it can treat is really helpful.


Real life

This one is for you Vanessa ;)
Sometimes life is just messy. Literally, stuff, children and crazy hair everywhere :)


Our New Curriculum

So, since we ditched most of the Sonlight curriculum, I figured we probably should do something for the last 4 months of school ;)

After talking extensively with other moms in our church, reading up on the subjects and surveying their opinions on different curriculum benefits and possible negatives, we decided on some pretty cool stuff.

Now, again, Sonlight might work GREAT for some kids and some families. At this stage in our life, I just couldn't devote the hours upon hours to reading every day to my kids (we still read a ton together… but we integrate other methods of learning too!). I needed something that my kids could do on their own. Cade is fully reading and able to read a year or two above his grade level, but I still wanted something more than just reading. Sonlight has no tests and no real gauge to know how you are doing or how much your child is really absorbing. I wanted some sort of cohesive curriculum that also had a form of testing + activities built in. Again, we also wanted actual Christian curriculum. Not just a lesson plan (like Sonlight) that tells you how to explain the topics in the secular books.

So, we've taken quite a bit form Susan Wise Bauer and the Charlotte Mason way of learning. I know very little about education or how to educate, so I feel like sticking with the way kids have learned throughout history is probably a safe bet. :) Classically learning, focusing on reading, writing, and arithmetic with lots of memorization, copy work, dictation and playtime! :)

Bible: I'm trying to get into the habit of reading more actual Scripture with the kids than extra books. So, every morning we start with actual Scripture. I so easily forget that I need to actually get my Bible, and physically open it up to them! No iPad Bible for our morning time! :)

Leading Little Ones to God (A sonlight reccomened book we are almost finished with and i love). +

Egermeier's Bible Story Book - I love this one because it includes a lot of detail on each story and has full pictures.

History: The Story of the World: History for the Classical Child - Volume 1: Ancient Times - Textbook - Test/Answer Guide - Activity Book

Language Arts: Explode the Code 2 1/2 (Its actually very easy and simple for Cade but at least it gets him practicing his handwriting!)

First Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind

Vocabulary for the Gifted Child - Grade 1 - A super fun activity book Cade can complete on his own.

Writing: The Complete Writer: Writing with Ease - Copywork and Narration guidelines to use with your own choice of subject matter.

Continuing to use: A Reason for Handwriting - Grade 2

Science: Apologia - Astronomy + Astronomy Junior Notebooking Journal
(love this, I can't say enough good things. Looking forward to Zoology in the fall!)

French: Personal Lessons with my mother in law :)
and we also got these fun flashcards to help them study

Math: Still using Saxon, but jumped a grade to Grade 2 to meet his level and challenge him.

Art: Draw Write Now! + Discovering Great Artists

Readers: I found a book list on Pinterest that Looked promising and went from there! Currently we are reading : Stuart Little
I am planning on reading the Whole Chronicles of Narnia series with the kids starting this summer.

We will also, Lord willing, be joining our local community of Classical Conversations. It is a super rad program that focuses on, no duh, Classical learning :) Memorization, repetition, rhetoric, all packed into one "on campus day" at a local church. And, the big perk, is that the program starts at 4 years old, so Reese can have something to do! Yay!

Of course, this is what is working for us right now. I don't think the overall method will change a whole lot, since I can see the value in the classical way of learning. However, textbooks and scheduling might change a few things next year. We'll see. Its exciting. I never, ever, ever x 1000 thought I would want to homeschool but I love it!

Again, if you are reading this blog with no intention of ever homeschooling, never say never! ;)


My review of Sonlight

One thing I have learned throughout this past year of homeschooling: I really don't know that much. God has continually used my homeschool to humble me and grow me, and for that I am very grateful. Of course, last year when I was researching curriculum and deciding what our plan of action would be for our first grader, I was convinced that I knew what I was doing. I did a lot of "research" (aka. looked online for stuff) and thought I had struck a gold mine for our little school.

When we went to the CHEA conference last June, I walked through the convention hall completely stunned. How in the world could there be 50 different MATH curriculum options!?!?!? It was eye opening, but I had already purchased our goodies for the fall and knew I was in the right. We chose the Sonlight Core B program and I was set.

Now, this is my honest, real-life review of Sonlight. I fully acknowledge this is my own personal opinion, and therefore, means very little :)

What I loved :

  • It is a solid Christian company. The books used were not all "Christian" books, but the instructors guide always laid out word for word what you could tell your child when certain topics came up in the reading that they might question (Like, how do you teach them about the Greek gods… obviously they weren't gods, but how do you instruct them from a Biblical perspective?) The IG (Instructors Guide) was helpful in navigating the topics that were a little more challenging to address on my own.
  • It was challenging. It was definitely NOT what he would have gotten in first grade public school. It is pretty advanced. But, he learned! He was able to keep up! I think I didn't give him enough credit for his ability to just adapt and learn what we were reading.
  • It's all in the box! When you purchase a complete curriculum set from Sonlight, every since thing you need (with the exception of a few science supplies like flour, water, etc…) is inside the box. Every lesson plan is laid out for you. Every book you will read or reference is in there for you. No library trips needed, no printables needed… It was all there. This was a huge advantage for us. I had no clue how to plan a lesson let alone WHAT to plan! So, I loved that Sonlight offered the complete package deal. You also purchase all the textbooks, readers and encyclopedias, so you have all you need for every successive child you will home school. 
  • It was "reasonably" priced. Sure, it is not cheap by any stretch of the imagination, but when you begin piecing together your own complete curriculum set, the cost is comparable. Of course, you could just purchase the lesson plans from Sonlight and then check out the books weekly from the library, but that was too much work and planning and I liked that I could pay the money and get it all in my home, ready to go, for a price that was cheaper than what I could have got on Amazon if I purchased it all individually.
  • It follows the classical education model. A lot of reading, writing, dictation, copy work. All things that were important to me. 
  • They gave options. They provided their top math, handwriting, and elective courses for you to choose from. They specialize in their own Language Arts program, History, and Science program and recommend other programs that are excellent and have stood the test of time to produce competent students.
  • Quick support. I had some questions and a book was damaged in shipping and I immediately received a reply and a replacement book was in the mail the next day.
What I didn't love
  • It is challenging. I know this was also a perk in the list above. However, we had to skip over some content because either it was super duper boring, or I didn't feel it was age appropriate. The first week of school we read "Missionary Stories with the Millers" which is a rad book on real-true-life missionary stories from the trenches! Miraculous stories of how men and women survived robberies, performed emergency surgeries, etc.. However, the majority of them were majorly above the appropriateness for a six year old. We skipped quite a bit of assigned reading. Also, some of the readers were just plain boring. We started reading other novels instead.
  • It is very disjointed. Some weeks, we were reading from 5 different history books. Granted, all of the books were great and top quality, but it felt so disconnected at times, and then at other times, I felt like we read the same information from five different sources. 
  • It is a ton of reading. Again, that can be a good thing! However, almost all of the instruction is just you reading to your kid. Which, of course is needed and so good, but with a newborn and a 3 year old, I didn't have two+ hours uninterrupted per day to sit and read. 
  • We did not like the science. It was basically the Usborne Science Encyclopedia with plain and boring repetitive and slightly confusing worksheets (I had trouble with a few). I love that Usborne book, but it taught evolution and all sorts of other mumbo jumbo that we specifically were trying to avoid in our curriculum choices for this year. (Because the evolution teaching was a top reason why we pulled him out of public school). We switched to Apologia and are absolutely loving it.
  • We don't need all the books. I thought initially that it would be awesome have all the books we need but really, it is a TON of books. And, if most of the readers were pretty boring… we are now the proud owners of a lot of boring books. 

Overall, I still think Sonlight is a great company with a top quality educational product. However, for our family, I have found that other things work better for us. I know there are people that love and hate any curriculum and that just illustrate God's creativity in making people with different strengths, weakness, preferences, styles, and learning abilities. With almost one whole year of homeschooling under my belt (haha! I am saying that sarcastically!!! I know nothing!! ;), I do feel a little more prepared to plan and organize my own curriculum. I know how a day typically goes in our house. I know my kids and what will keep their attention. 

I'll post next on the new curriculum that we switched to that I am loving! So that's my two cents… and I think it really is worth only two cents.



Just a little recap of whats been going on around here.

Ian led music for the high school ministry so it was the first time I had to get all 3 ready for church by myself. I LOVE homeschooling for the fact that we are HOME all the time… so, going out (and having to look presentable) is a big deal :)

We are working on the renovation of our backyard so in the mean time, its a mess and it was hot enough the other day for sprinklers! A little taste of summer.

Cade is participating in the AWANA Sparks Olympics this year. So fun! I remember competing when I was his age!

Cade is doing really well in baseball. It seriously is the cutest thing. He fist pumps and waves to us after each play :)

Cade's Saturday morning Fan Club

Gran Gran making Drew laugh

Ian is so great. Holding the baby and scrubbing the kitchen. True Love!

The new swing set has been a hit but the crazies are finding all sorts of ways to be dangerous.

 My Dad's turn with entertaining Drew baby :)

 Bro time

   Lately, I feel like our days are the same. We came up with a new routine for our day and it has been super helpful:
This schedule has made things much easier around our home. Cade knows what to expect and the complaining and whining has been lessening.

Drew turned 4 months. He was 13lbs 2 oz last week! Growing ahead and catching up to babies who were actually due in November. He is laughing and smiling a ton and is just a joy to be around. He has been sleeping an 8-10 hour stretch at night! Wahoo!! He usually eats, and goes right back to sleep until 8 or so. I am very thankful. He's nursing exclusively and doing so well. Really, such a blessing, and I know that. He really is a super sweet baby, still doesn't love his carseat… but we moved all 3 kids in the middle row of the van so Cade is on plug duty. With his pacifier in, he's great. When that thing falls out, watch out. 

I can't believe he was born 4 months ago. I do feel much better than I did 4 months ago! I'm still recovering from bed rest and I know I need to be patient with my body and my progress. I gained so much weight (maybe when I'm at my goal weight I will share all my official numbers :/ ) But for now, I am trying to focus on my eating and being disciplined. I don't want to exercise too crazy because of my milk supply, but I know being active is important to overall health and well being.

Alright, back to work around the house. So much to do!