30 Days Without Spending. Can I Do It?

June

begins the first month of summer.  It is a time of pure heated bliss, with pool days, dirty feet, and careless spending….

Back that up right quick.

Does anyone else fall into the trap of overspending on complete and useless crap throughout the summer?

We just emptied our accounts to buy an amazing house. June marks 3 months of homeownership here! Whoop! Why have we not started replenishing our bank accounts? I’ll tell you why…

House projects added up quick; we renovated the fireplace and ripped out the kitchen tile. What we thought would be easy weekend tasks turned into two months of work. I can’t complain about the extra time and money because it looks phenomenal.

But then there was my careless home shopping sprees! New bedding and décor for all of the kid rooms, glass jars to line the kitchen and turn us into a more eco-conscious home… and all of the other ridiculous, late-night amazon purchases that were not needed.

I am your typical mom-to-a-lot-of kids… I give in and order pizza, rent the movie, throw crap in the cart that is never needed. It’s a problem… ha.

Our flower beds look gorgeous and the house is at a stopping point until our next project this fall, so it’s time to start seriously saving some money. We have an awesome trip planned for the week of July 4th; we have a 5th baby coming in late August; we want to take a killer trip this winter, and we need to just rebuild the accounts.

We are going on a 30-day NO SPEND Spree.  That means that nothing other than bills, gas, and groceries are purchased this month. It sounds easy right?  But if you are anything like me, the ice-cream shop screams our names as we drive home from the pool… iTunes will probably put out a few great kid movies to add to the collection (and make for an easy weekend at some point)…  Holy Hell — Target is just f’ing Target – the money-sucking happiest place on earth.

I will need to avoid Target and Amazon like the plague to successfully complete this challenge.

If I (well, we – the husband needs to stop buying lunch out everyday, and step away from Home Depot) can complete this task, we should be able to pay off everything from the house renovations and start seeing cash flow back into those savings accounts!

Who else out there is in need of a little discipline. This means no snack bar treats at the pool, no date nights, no late-night clicking and spending!

I understand that this seems insane to so many of you reading, but I can’t be alone here.

I’ll let you know how we do – keep me updated on your self-discipline tactics and progress throughout the month too.

Supplements and Curriculums We LOVE For Homeschooling

We are a year-round homeschooling family. I take the kids on too many road trips throughout the year to finish anything in a timely fashion. We take a month off to drive across the country at least once a year, another week here and there just so we don’t burn out. We like to camp mid-week and explore everything possible when there are no lines and as few people as possible! Education is a never-ending process anyway, so why shove it all in 180 days?

We’ve dipped our toes in many curriculums, but I’m going to share with you what we have stuck with and what we are adding in this upcoming year. I’ll have a 3rd grader, 1st grader, and a pre-kindergartener… along with a toddler and newborn! Holy crap!

I also wanted to share the items that get the absolute most use throughout our schooling days.  I’ll continually add to the list as I think of things – so come back and check for future ideas.

You don’t have to homeshool to benefit from these ‘toys.’ They are great additions to any family home! (affiliate links are included if you would like to add to your educational supplements!)

Curriculum:

Math-U-See: Alpha and Beta will be used by my oldest two this year. We absolutely LOVE this program!

All-About-Reading: Pre-reading, Level 1, and Level 2 will all somehow be happening this year. My 7 year old is not a natural reader, so we are continuing with a reading program so she grows to love to read!

All-About-Spelling: Just the oldest will start spelling this year.

Handwriting Without Tear: All kids benefit from this quick program.

Science:  Scientists & Inventors

Geography: Road Trip USA   (oh you know we had to do the road trip version! #Roadschoolers)

We also supplement with the following workbooks:

Supplements and Educational Items We LOVE:

 

Magna Tiles

32-piece set

But just go ahead and get the 100-piece version – TRUST ME.

 

 

Anything Usborne — We love Usborne books. Every one of them is amazing. Look what we did last month after reading A ‘Look Inside Space’ Book!

 

We love making volcanoes and this model has made it even more realistic!

 

This is just the start… I’ll be back this week with a much more detailed list of everything we use and love.  For now – I’ll be nursing a toddler to sleep!

 

When it’s a seriously bad morning of childhood.

Scarlett and the No Good, Horrible, Terrible Morning.

It all started when Daddy tried to wake her up at 9:45am. It was a bright and beautiful Sunday outside, far too spectacular to be slept through. It was a kind and gentle wake up, but it was a wake up none-the-less. She chose to stay in bed a bit longer, and Daddy kissed her head and told the pancakes would be waiting.

 

45 minutes later, I walked upstairs to motivate her a bit, but instead, I found her on an ipad – which is not allowed per our family rules. (No ipads before face-to-face interaction!) I asked her to turn it off and come downstairs. She grumpily obliged.

 

She sat down at the table alone and had to choose from the “leftover” pancakes. “These are cold!” She began crying. After reheating, “These are dry now! Why did I get all the bad pancakes? I’m so hungry!” the tears began falling harder. I ask her to breathe and try to find a solution on her own, and I walk outside to start the bubble machine for the little boys.

 

It’s a matter of moments before I here wailing from the windows. Scarlett has spilled syrup on her perfectly picked out neon pink shirt and shorts… dripping it to the rug below. If she knew curse words, she would have been cursing like a sailor.

 

It took all the power to not laugh. She was having a HORRIBLE morning. It worsened when syrup was then sat in. I didn’t think she could handle anything else. Whoa did the emotional shit show hit the fan when she went upstairs to change and found her brothers in her room! THE SCREAMS! Ear-piercing shrieks. She somberly made it back to the kitchen to make a breakfast of her choosing. Her eyes were puffy and red. I hugged her and asked how I could help… Scarlett’s response,

 

“Mommy! It’s just the worst, bad-luck day! Everything is horrible. Why is everything wrong today!!!!?”

 

Oh my heart. My sweet, sweet firstborn love. The one who made me a mother.

 

“Today is just a day. Every day cannot be unicorns and rainbows. Every day cannot be amazing. If it was, you would never appreciate the happiness. These hard moments, baby girl, they flat out suck. There is nothing else to say about them but that – they suck. You are bigger than this moment though. It does not define you,” I say.

 

“Can’t we just start it all over?”

 

“Why yes, love – that’s part of childhood. You get to learn and try again, every single day.”

 

After another slew of tears and hard moments, including falling to bruise her elbow, and learning that the museum exhibit was not opened yet, things began to look up. We picked flowers for a bouquet, read a book in the hammock, and decided to head to the pool as a family.

 

Why am I sharing her horrible morning with you? Simple, she’s seven, and she’s smack in the middle of her childhood. There is still so much to conquer and learn. She is growing and dreaming big things over here, and I know she’s not the only child who has hard days.

 

The trouble is how we handle our children in these moments. Their day is just as important as ours. If not, more important – these moments build to create the foundation of how they handle their adulthood.

 

The best way I have found to work through these times is to simply be present. Sit together and allow the tears and emotions to be released. Talk when the child wants to listen, and listen when the child talks. Make this moment the priority. The rest will all fall into place.

 

Cheers to a better start to tomorrow and a happy ending to today!

Choosing Favorites?

There are only 2 adults here. Two grown, responsible parties. This means that our family can only be in two places at one time due to the whole ‘you-need-a-grown-up-to-drive’ thing.

 

We have 4 tiny humans and a 5th on the way.

 

The season has arrived in which we have royally screwed ourselves.

 

Let me back track a month or so; I was at the YMCA working out and realized that soccer season was coming to a close for my oldest two children. We had talked about the upcoming baseball possibilities and learned that our 7-year-old wasn’t interested – and thank god because she’s a swim team girl and wouldn’t be able to commit to another summer sport. But, we found out that our 3-year-old wanted nothing more than to play! “How freaking cute will he be?” my husband and I laughed! Out 5-year-old has been begging to play for a few seasons, so we knew he would be signed up.
I went ahead and signed up both boys (3 and 5 year olds) for a summer season at the ball field!

 

Last week, we were e-mailed the swim team schedule. Oh the fresh taste of early morning 5-day-a-week practices…. And even earlier weekend swim meets! I can’t lie, we love it. Two days later, I opened my baseball e-mail with information about our coach and the game schedules. How fun!? Saturdays at the ballpark! Wait… two games each Saturday, eh ok we can still do this… wait, son #1 is on field #1 at park ABC while son #2 is on field #3 at park XYZ – located nowhere near field ABC.

WTF just happened? We woke up and have three kids obligated to be in three completely different locations at the same time EVERY Saturday of the summer. FUCCCCCCCCCCCCCCK.

 

Welcome to mother f-ing parenthood of more than 2 kids.

 

The hubster and I sat down with a beer and a glass of wine (no I’m pregnant, I wouldn’t dare…) and discussed the problem at hand. We both want to be at every swim meet because it’s our firstborn’s sport. It’s her thing. And holy shit it is crazy intense to watch her swim. The 5-year-old has been promised a season of baseball for over a year. We have avoided it until now, but my GOD this kid is a natural born athlete. Struggling with speech and sensory issues, we never imagined he’d WANT to be on a team, and now he BEGS for it. He dominated the soccer field and loved a season of basketball; we couldn’t push baseball off any longer. Neither my husband and I are huge baseball fans, but we are excited for him to experience a new sport and team. And then there is our ornery little middle child. “He’s only 3,” we say. “He won’t hate us for long. He can play in the fall.”

 

It was as easy at that; we had just axed our thirdborn’s first team sport. We are horrible.

 

Had we just put our older children above the younger ones? Had we just picked favorites? The short answer… YES. We did pick favorites. We decided that, at this stage of life, it was better to follow-through with our oldest children. Are we right? Who the hell knows. But I do know that there was absolutely no way to be in three places at once – nor did I want to even try.

 

Some decisions are shitty to make, but workout for the entire family as a whole. Next year will be even harder. If anything, every year will become more difficult for us because of the age spacing, game times, and choice of sports. With this many kids, nothing will be exactly easy…. But somehow we will figure it all out – even if that means picking favorites. We may need to alternate seasons for kids, choose our favorite sports to watch – or only do the ones they excel in… I don’t know, but somehow it will all fall in to place. It has to…

If not, I’ll just be over here not drinking wine.

Turn That Frown Upside Down

A friend called me today. An actual friend – on the phone, and because there are SO MANY hours in the day out there in the Midwest, I was actually able to answer. Dear Lord I needed to talk to someone who knew me. I don’t even know why she called, but I feel horribly guilty because I basically poured out all of my feelings within 10 minutes and gave her about 2 minutes before we both had to go…. But I am so thankful for those 12 minutes.

I bitched and complained and wined about the last 3 months. I was pretty much a toddler who wasn’t getting her way. I can now relate to my children.

As a true friend does, she talked me back to reality, made me feel normal, and helped me come up with some major distractions until I acclimate myself to this new environment.  I feel okay now; although a bit ashamed of my excessive focus on the negatives lately.

I was reminded just how blessed I am – we are, this family of mine. We are happy, healthy, truly in love, expecting baby #5, financially stable, live in a great house, and have a solid life. This transition has been rough, but it has brought us closer together. I am done focusing on leaving and moving elsewhere, and will now focus on positives! We have at least two years here, so I need to pass the time with happy moments!

As you know, we are an adventure family. We have never had the opportunity to adventure throughout the Midwest. So here I sit, planning our first road trip from Nebraska – no worries, I’ll blog all about it!  It’ll be an easy 6 hour drive to Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, and our final trip before this baby arrives.

We are splitting the trip between two extremes – camping and a resort. It’ll be the best of both worlds at 31 weeks pregnant with 4 little ones in tow. We’ll disconnect for a week and explore all the area has to offer! I’ll keep you updated as I figure out the specifics, just in case any of you decide to take a trip out this way.

I’m looking for adventure suggestions for the Midwest! We will soon have  8, 6, 3.5, 1.5 year olds and a newborn on our hands, so we won’t be white water rafting quite yet.  We plan on doing this trip in July, another in December, and the 22+ (no stops counted) trip to Florida next February-ish.  I’m going to spend my time counting down to our adventures, enjoying quality time, and soaking up every single ounce of sunshine that we get this summer!

On another note…. call a friend. Someone is need of your conversation today. Trust me.

 

An Unfamiliar Adventure

I sit here with a growing belly, listening to a thundering storm outside. I am surrounded by a gorgeous house full of changes we are making to call it our home. All of my babies are asleep, as is my amazing husband – who hit Mother’s Day out of the park with a full-day spa treatment for me and a detailed mini-van… I sat down tonight and realized that I have been neglecting this lovely blog of mine, and it’s time that I have explained why.

Our life is an adventure. Anyone who knows us understands this to be true. I do not shy away from crazy tasks and typically take on more than one human should. Not only do I do these things, but they are my way of life. I do not know how to ‘just be.’ For God’s sake, I wrote an almost 400 page natural-minded pregnancy book in the last year, had a fourth baby, homeschooled my children, road tripped like crazy, moved across the country and wrote an average of 28 articles a month! (See the links to my words tab to read some of those awesome freaking words.) I mean, I was basically SuperMom.

Isn’t it amazing how life hands you what you need even when you had no idea that you needed it?

I’m sitting here with absolutely nothing to do, and I have no idea what to do about it. All of you non-type A types can bite me right now because this is hard.

We have been in the Midwest for 10 weeks now. With every other move we have ever made, I’ve felt settled and in my groove by now. I’ve come to realize that this relocation is taking more than an address change to overcome. It is shifting the entire daily dynamic that I am used to. You see, life is much slower here. MUCH SLOWER. This is a good thing with baby #5 due in about 3 months, but a hard pill to swallow.

On the plus side, we have plenty of ‘school’ time (which means exploring, bike riding, playground trials, and some reading, writing, and math), and my kids are actually the greatest kids in the world and absolutely love playing together. We’ve joined different activities and classes but are still in search for ‘our group’ here. It will come; it always does; it will just take more time with this move.

On the negative side, we have been dealing with strange sicknesses since we arrived. From 2 weeks of nightly vomiting with the 3 year old to random itchy rashes, snot, coughs, belly aches, and other crap… Our typically crazy-healthy family is trying to adjust our bodies to the new location. Again, it’s just taking time.

But back to the point of writing tonight. The reason I have been neglecting my blog is simple: I haven’t been happy here (yet). I planned to (and still plan to) share our housing projects, upcoming road trip adventures, natural-minded ways, birth plans, and all of the other ridiculous ins and outs that have been requested by followers. I’m not sure if it’s the new location, realizing baby #5 is coming soon, or the yearning to be back on the coast, but I am struggling here! No worries though, this slower life will soon settle in with me – and grant me extra bread-baking time, along with writing time.

 

 

4 Babies With The Flu. I Survived.

After a well-planned three-day road trip with properly-portioned snacks and hotel stops, we arrived in Omaha, NE.
You would think that there isn’t much to write about quite yet, but you may have underestimated this circus.

You see, Emmett (5) had the flu throughout the road trip, and we thought we were all in the clear after he seemed to be over it. WRONG. Scarlett (7) went down hard within hours of John flying out for a week. She was a pitiful mess – fever, head, stomach, body aches – my heart hurt so badly for her. About 36 hours later, Lyle (3) joined her in Flu-Town by puking EVERYWHERE. I’m talking about chairs, kitchen floor, bed, towels, bathtub… everywhere except a toilet. At this point, I’m 13.5 weeks pregnant and feeling almost-flu-like myself. Who goes down next? Ollie Jack (12months) spikes a 103 fever and won’t let go of me, nursing around the clock (OMG pregnancy boobs and 24 hour nursling is PAINFUL).

Did I mention that John was (and still is) out of town?

We know no one here. I ordered food in, and I washed sheets daily. I haven’t slept in close to 10 days due to that middle-of-the-night-spike that seems to happens with sickness. I have rotated kids all night, and when I wasn’t holding my breath while snuggling one of them, I was up working so I didn’t fall behind. I love my job and wasn’t sleeping anyway – may as well get it done at 4am.

I stuck to my homeopathic remedies, and each child seemed to beat the flu within 48 hours or less. TAKE THAT chemical-filled shit known as Tamiflu.

There is a positive spin to all of this though, a rainbow at the end of the storm. Today, everyone ate food, smiled, and was out of bed. We even made a quick run to Target and Lowes to accomplish a few little house things before we move in!

On to the house news…

When moving into a new house, ALWAYS paint first. You do not want to wait until after your things are moved in. Make sure to get samples of your paint colors and leave them up for a day or two before finalizing your decisions. Paint may change color in different light and you do not want to have to re-paint.

The same goes for other small projects. Our house needs new kitchen backsplash, so I brought home a single sample before purchasing the entire box.

I’ll post pictures as we start working on everything. We need to get a refrigerator before moving in too – and hopefully that will happen in the next few days. The outdated oven will have to wait a few months to be replaced, but I’m hoping to take down a few old light fixtures and refinish the fireplace this month. Just those few touches will give the house a bit of a facelift!

Oh – I almost forgot – a GARDEN! You know that our family of (almost) 7 cannot live without a garden. It’s planting season so we will be starting our seeds in the next week. I’ll blog with what we are planting and how to start a garden from SCRATCH (as this house does not have anything existing). The kids LOVE to get dirty, so this will be a great project over the next few weeks.

Besides the confused winter moment that is happening outside this weekend – WHY is it snowing?? Great things are on the horizon for #OurLuckySeven.

 

 

Moving West: Virginia to Nebraska

 

We have spent the last three days caravanning across nine states together.  We drove through snow, crazy wind, and sun so warm, Scarlett stripped down to her undies in the back seat.

This move has been emotional – and the pregnancy hormones are not helping.  We are sad to leave behind Virginia, as it was an amazing home for 3 years. But we are holding on to our friendships there and keeping our heads looking forward.  We arrived in Nebraska today, March 4th —  The only day of the year that tells you to do something ‘March Forth!’ So that we will do.  It is the eve of our youngest son’s first birthday, and I am currently watching him sleep.  My mind is in a million different directions:

  1. How has it been a year since Ollie arrived on our bedroom floor, three-weeks early and faster than anyone could imagine?
  2. We close on a house in 2 days. Holy crap.
  3. Where in the hell are we? Omaha? We saw nothing but farmlands for hours today…
  4. The first thing the house needs is paint… no, the kitchen backsplash needs ripped out… no, that carpet needs to go.  Can we even afford any of this?
  5. The kids need friends ASAP.
  6. I can’t even drink, I’m pregnant.
  7. Please let the movers get our crap here in one piece.

So far on this journey, we have stayed at the amazing Blackhawk Hotel in Iowa, saw the Mississippi river, went bowling, cooked a few random comfort meals, survived a child with the flu, and landed in a great apartment rental until the movers arrive with the goods.

I’m glad you are coming along with us as we journey through this craziness. I’ll write more soon, updating about the transition, our trip, and how we (and you can) plan to update our outdated house – on a budget!

3000 Miles in 25 days

I just completed 3000 miles with my 4 young children in tow.  I had planned to spend 23 days and cover 2300 miles, but plans changed when I added in an epic surprise at the end of the trip!  We added 2 extra days and a few extra miles that were well worth it!

Have you ever thought about driving with your kids somewhere, but don’t know where to start?  Or are you too scared to attempt the drive solo, leaving your partner behind to work?  Adventure doesn’t wait for anyone.  If we sat around waiting for my husband to take off, we would be waiting forever – and take very short trips.  Continue reading “3000 Miles in 25 days”

One Epic Adventure

us

 

I’m in the middle of a 2300 mile 23 day epic adventure with the 4 kids from DC to FL and back!   As you can see from the picture, we are exploring great things, and learning as we go.

Read more about how this adventure came about HERE.

We are not quite half-way through our miles, but about 13 days in to the 23-24 day quest.  We have coined new terms, such as ‘Ready Golf’ (who ever is ready first puts first) and ‘Soup Sandwich’ (this day is about as messy as a soup sandwich!).  We have sung at the top of our lungs and jumped on hotel beds.  We have dyed our hair mermaid pink.  We have stopped at museums, aquariums, zoos, gardens, beaches, ice-cream shops, restaurants, and tourist traps a long the way.  (A full list of exact places will be updated soon.)  We have not missed one possession left at home…

And I have an EPIC SURPRISE planned for the end of next week.

You’ll see.  Make sure you follow us on social media to watch us LIVE.  You’ll want to see this play out in real time.

My husband just spent 5 days with us at the beach before heading home to work.  I’m pretty sure he took my heart with him on that plane.  My 2.5 year old and I just sat on the floor and cried together when he left.  Then I told him he could cannonball naked into the pool – so the fun ran on.

As I sit here typing, thinking about all of the great opportunities blogging for others has created for me, I am so excited to finally be writing THIS.  I love every piece I have ever published (HUNDREDS OF THEM), but there’s something about putting yourself out there. It may be the wine talking, but I’m so happy you are here.

I hope you are enjoying a glass of wine along with me (I mean, the kids have been asleep for hours already.)

 

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