Flashback Friday

Once in awhile, it’s productive to remind yourself of your own past. In my case, it’s encouraging to remember that however chaotic today is, I’ve gotten through worse. Here’s a description I wrote of a normal day in our lives about four years ago; back before my son came on the scene….back when diapers were double…..back when I still thought I could win the battle against clutter in our home…..and before I surrendered to the inevitability of takeout on the weekly menu. It still makes me laugh, and cringe a little. It also makes me miss those two little curly heads that have grown into big girls with even more curls.

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There isn’t enough Prozac or Febreze to fix this terrible, awful, horrible, no-good, very bad day.

Why, oh WHY is it times when I have my sights set SO high on getting SO much done that the entire world seems against me? Let’s go chronologically, shall we…

6:00 AM Psychotic beagle wakes me up, running around the room for no apparent reason. Take off her collar so it will stop jingling, then put her on my bed, which is typically off limits. She proceeds to jump up and down and run around the house so that I cannot fall asleep.

6:35 AM I fall back asleep finally, right before the girls wake up, grumpy as usual.

6:50 AM Try to entice the girls with TV, but wind up having to fix breakfast and spinelessly give in to feeding them in the living room. I feel like I have already compromised my values and I haven’t even had my coffee yet.

7:30 AM Since things are already on a downward spiral, it seems like the appropriate time to prepare for the inevitable Walmart trip.

9:30 AM We’re finally ready to go. Leave front door.

9:45 AM Leave drive-way. Yes, it does take that long, I swear. Have you ever tried to carry two toddlers to the car along with their accompanying accessories while simultaneously blocking a headstrong beagle from escaping the front porch? It’s no wonder I have tendonitis. In both wrists.

10:00 AM I have a love/hate relationship with Walmart, I really do. I mean, I even worked there for awhile and I have found some great deals. Besides, where else can you find lawn furniture, pizza crust and diapers all under the same roof in the middle of the night?  However, in the huge, vast Super Walmart there are only two, count them, TWO double carts. Thought I was lucky to find one then realized it was soaking wet. Get cart dried off, then realize straps are broken. Too late to back out now. The girls ride standing in the front of the double cart. Do NOT try this at home.

10:15 AM Tell the girls 27 thousand times to not stand on the seat. Stand on the floor of the little front cart car thingy. DO NOT STAND ON SEAT.

10:45 AM Criss-cross ginormous store finding about half of the items I actually needed, forgetting the other half. Remind twins DO NOT STAND ON SEAT.

11:00 AM Spend 15 minutes locating a manager to politely suggest, ask, then desperately beg, that the store “invest” in at least 2 working double carts. At this point, I’ve clearly abandoned all self-respect, not to mention publicly admitting I’m a frequent Walmart customer. Manager looks at me as if I am a little OCD and then asks how old they are. “UMmmmm. Old enough to need to be buckled into a cart, and not old enough to walk along side it.” Old enough to realize that a store this size NEEDS more double carts!

11:15 AM Unload groceries, get kids into house, take incessantly barking dog outside, try to start chopping veggies to put in crock pot for soup. Turn around and the twins have sprinkled flour on roughly half of the contents of our pantry, and generously dusted themselves as well. Close door on pantry and try to forget that. Wasn’t that door supposed to have a child lock?

12:00 PM Give girls lunch, realize (once it is too late) that all ingredients will not fit into the crock pot. (At the time of this writing, I had not yet discovered the Instant Pot. Clearly this entire story would have gone differently if I that were not the case.) Recipe is probably now ruined as I haphazardly scoop out “half” of the ingredients.

12:10 PM Naively decide it is a good time to clean out fridge, so pull out most of fridge stuff all over the kitchen which is already covered in groceries, half chopped soup ingredients removed from pot and flour. Decide I should either clean out fridge much more often, or never.

12:25 PM Girls have taken applesauce and milk and made a paste that is now coating chairs and table, and their flour-dredged dresses, which, might I add, were new until today. Scarlet cries because I refuse to replace milk she has deliberately poured all over kitchen.

12:30 PM Clean girls off, strip dirty clothes. Sophia wails because I will not let her continue living in filthy dress. Trash can is starting to smell from fridge which is still open and half scrubbed out. Counter is now covered in empty cans, choppings, half of ruined soup and the contents of fridge.

12:40 PM Something SMELLS. BEAGLE HAS POOPED IN LIVING ROOM. The girls are screaming and gagging in horror, still naked. Fridge remains open, food is all over kitchen. Applesauce/Milk paste is covering furniture. It gets worse.

12:45 PM Realize too late that BEAGLE HAS stepped in poop and tracked it on rug and floor. Capture beagle and cage her, while telling her of all the places she could live that would make me quite happy, realizing all the while that I will now have to bathe beagle and clean cage. DD1 starts crying because apparently, she has wet her diaper and that just CANNOT WAIT. Clean poop off of floor, apply carpet cleaner to rug and search in trepidation for more.

1:00 PM Take girls to bedroom, change them, dress them and put them in bed for nap. Sigh in relief, start to leave bedroom. See poop-covered Croc (Croc Mammoth OF COURSE) in corner and realize the poop has now been theoretically spread from living room, down hall, and into girls’ room, covering throw rugs, laminate floor, and carpeting in its journey.

1:15 PM Cook chicken pot pie, fattiest food item I could find in freezer and eat it with a taboo Mt. Dew. Slowly come to accept reality that we must now move to get away from the omnipresent poop.

It’s crystal clear that getting off Prozac was a huge mistake.

Back to (home) School

It’s very hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that school is BACK in session. This summer has been so rainy in our area that I feel very cheated in the laying-by-the-pool and playing-in-the-sprinkler arenas. I’m trying to keep my attitude in check though, and face the year with courage! My sweet girls are excited to be FIRST graders and they are definitely ready to meet the challenge. I was able to spend about a half an hour praying in the quiet of my car this weekend (a very unusual opportunity for me) and I can say that I am now feeling better prepared mentally and spiritually! I’m still a bit overwhelmed, but I know we can do it!

This year will be fun as we return to our homeschool “school” that meets two days a week at our church. It’s a wonderful set-up and we are so thankful for the opportunity. They will study core subjects as well as chapel, electives, and PE. I couldn’t be happier with this “best of both worlds” approach to homeschooling. I know that my family would have loved this scenario as homeschoolers in the 90’s! Things really have changed, in a wonderful way. This gives me some time at home alone with the baby, and gives my kids some much enjoyed time with friends and fantastic teachers; what could be better?

For our study at home, we will be using a brand spankin’ new curriculum that I am very excited to explore. This week we will start Dew Learning*, which is the first Christian homeschool curriculum designed for use on the Ipad! My girls are pretty impressed that they will be able to use the Ipad every day for learning! I’m excited that the curriculum is portable, interactive and that all progress is stored online. We can’t wait to get going with it and I am happy to share our experiences each week. Look for more on our Dew Learning Adventures very soon.

Now, what you have all been waiting for: photos of my children in their backpacks and first day of First Grade outfits! I would like to mention, in frank bargain-boast form, that these outfits were each $1 at our local thrift store, and came in the girls’ favorite colors, with lots of lace and ruffles!  I’m definitely addicted to thrifting!

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*Disclaimer: I received free products for evaluation purposes in return for my reviews and feedback. You can trust that I will be 100% honest in my discussion of said product and seek to help other consumers make the right purchases for their own families.

 

 

 

The Homeschool on-the-go Bag

In the interest of full disclosure, please realize that I have become an Amazon partner, so I will receive a small (really, minuscule) compensation for any items purchased through the following affiliate links. As ya’ll know I have been shamelessly raving about my favorite things for years, so I just thought I would finally try to get a little cash flow from my role as consumer enabler. Thanks for taking a look at my recommendations!

Once again, I ask, how did folks homeschool before the advent of Pinterest??

When I feel particularly overwhelmed with the clutter, I tend to browse the internet for the magical cure. Sometimes I get distracted by how to catch mosquitoes in a two liter bottle, how to decorate a mug with a sharpie, or the best way to dress for your body type. Other times, I find something truly helpful that I implement right away like this idea for a homeschool mom bag*…I love it and it has really helped me keep life organized!

This method works great for me because we have a fairly small home with limited dedicated school space, I want to be able to homeschool “on the road”, and I’m not the world’s most organized mom to begin with. All you need to make this work is a Thirty One Organizing Utility Tote**, (look at all the pretty color options!), an open top file box, file folders, and your basic craft/office supplies (the things you want to keep close at hand for school).

No instructions are needed, you simply fit the file box into the bag, add the file folders, and fill the outside pockets with supplies. Here is what I keep in my bag:

  • folders labeled with each child’s name, the previous school year’s records, this school year’s records, each subject, and forms.
  • My Homeschool Planner
  • pens, pencils, sharpies
  • glue stick, craft glue, tape, small stapler, glue dots
  • post-it notes, small notebook, reward stickers
  • hole-punch, scissors, rubber bands, paper clips
  • hand sanitizer, some random string or yarn, and a small screwdriver just in case (I’m pretty sure I could moonlight as a secret agent with the contents of this bag).

When we are at home, this bag lives on top of a rolling cart in our kitchen. If we are traveling, I can remove the file box portion and fill the heart of the bag with workbooks, notebooks, readers and whatever else we may need. It makes it so easy to homeschool on the go! I’m still not great with organizing, but with this bag, I can totally fake it! I’d love to hear any of your ideas!

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*I originally found this idea at IHeart Organizing!

**Please note, I am NOT affiliated with Thirty One Bags in any way, and in fact had never owned any of them until I found this idea. As it happens, I purchased my tote on ebay, but if you’d like to find a consultant in your area, look here.

Summer failures…..and successes

Thanks for supporting my blog by clicking through my Amazon links! It helps keep my blog-boat afloat and each purchase you make helps me justify this “hobby blog”. 

The fact that it is now August is really blowing my mind! I have so many things to do to get ready for school….it isn’t even a little funny. Fortunately for me, my girls are really excited to get back to work and are always pretty motivated (easy to say as they are still only 6). Over the summer, I had some grandiose plans of projects, crafts, and educational adventures. In fact, here is a sampling of what I intended to accomplish:

  1.  Finish up all the little homeschooling odds and ends: workbooks, lists, lesson plans, projects.
  2. Completely clean my house and purge a ton of stuff in preparation of the new school year.
  3. Travel and and make great memories.
  4. Start a blog about homeschooling.
  5. Teach my youngest to sleep through the night. Or even halfway through.
  6. Organize all my to-do lists.

Things I have actually done this summer:

  1. Decided that most teachers do NOT finish all of their books, workbooks, lesson plans and projects.
  2. Purged a few things and bought a whole bunch more, mostly unneeded. Barely kept the mess at bay all summer long.
  3. Made it about 30 minutes down the road on a day long road trip and turned around due to multiple factors which need not be discussed. Memories, yes. Fun, not really.
  4. Started a blog about homeschooling. At the same time, realized that starting said blog is certainly the easy part and continuing will most likely be the actual challenge.
  5. Allowed my youngest to slide into the laziest, most ill-advised sleep schedule in the history of toddlers.
  6. Discovered website that might possibly allow a new career in the making of to-do lists but as yet have not actually fully utilized said website. For your consideration: Wunderlist.

In addition to these worthy accomplishments I have: NOT purchased needed school supplies, NOT set up several appointments I’ve been putting off, NOT put the van into the shop for pesky issues just barely still covered by warranty, NOT read any of the book for my Sunday School class, NOT started elimination to diet to get to the root of allergy issues, NOT finally had that yard sale and NOT totally made-over my grocery buying system.

On the other hand I have: played outside with the kids, read to the girls some of my favorite childhood books, spent some time with extended family, made some cash by selling unneeded items, kept the kids fed, clothed, and relatively clean, and lost all the baby weight. So there’s that.

Oh and I taught the baby to feed himself, thanks to the Boon suction Bowl. Actually, he just picked up the fork the one time but as you can see, I was clever enough to capture it on camera so I think I deserve some credit.

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4 Perks of Homeschooling NOW

I just put this list together off the top of my head, in no particular order. Of course there are lots of pros and cons to homeschooling (and, indeed to most educational options). However, as a second generation homeschooler I am struck by some of the huge leaps in the field since my parents set out on the homeschool journey over 25 years ago. Things are so different and most of the changes are very positive! I have to remind myself of these when I am feeling discouraged or flat out exhausted!

1)      People know what homeschooling is. This made be perplexing for some of you young whipper-snappers but actually there was a day not too long ago when the term homeschooling provoked only blank looks and an occasional weak, “You mean homebound?” I used to dread being asked where I went to school, not because I disliked homeschooling (quite the opposite) but because I hated having to explain to random cashiers something that seemed new and radical (when in fact it is the oldest teaching method there is). Now it is more likely that the stranger is also a homeschooler or is close to someone who is.

2)      Legal standards are more flexible. This may be the understatement of the blog. My mother and her contemporaries had to turn in detailed lesson plans to the school district where they were met with animosity and mistrust. My mom had to walk me at six years old to the school for standardized testing but wasn’t allowed to enter herself. We were required to have PE facilities but weren’t allowed to utilize those of the school. The list goes on. As homeschoolers, we still face prejudice, injustice and misunderstanding but in almost all areas of the US, things have vastly improved.

3)      The internet has revolutionized EVERYTHING. I’m at a strange in-between age where I remember the days before cell phones yet have trouble believing those days really existed. The truth is, when we asked my mother a question about history, science or anything else under the sun she had to know the answer or use some kind of archaic encyclopedia to hunt it down. The mind boggles. And don’t even get me started on the beautifully crafted homeschool blogs that make what you are now reading look like a post-it note my toddler created.

4)      Curriculum is cheaper, better, more specialized and absolutely abundant in availability. Just click here for a tiny taste of the choices available on Amazon! (Also, this is your chance to help support my blog by buying through my affiliate links. Thanks for your support). From traditional, to classical to technology based, our choices are enough to make a new teacher’s head spin. In fact, one of the challenges I have faced is being absolutely overwhelmed with the options. For heaven’s sake, I can order art supplies, text books, or a full blown telescope from Amazon and have it at my door the day after tomorrow! If that isn’t progress, I don’t know what is.

5)      The homeschool community rocks! The truth is the homeschooling community has always been strong, supportive and relatively united. But now with veteran homeschoolers paving the way and talented and knowledgeable newbies bringing fresh ideas and techniques, more and more parents feel empowered to make the switch. More of us are gathering and pooling our collective resources, maximizing our strengths and forming a united front politically. There is strength in numbers and we are over 2 million strong and growing. It gives me confidence that homeschooling will only gain strength, recognition and respect as we face this task together!

Magic Oatmeal Cake

I probably won’t be sharing a ton of recipes here, because cooking is really not my forte (I’m not sure what my forte is, but I’m sure I will one day discover it). This recipe however, is one that I’ve made many dozens of times and tweaked enough that it barely resembles the original I came across years ago. It also has a wonderful flexibility in quantity and ingredient that has made it a go-to breakfast at our house for years. You just can’t fail with this “Magic Oatmeal Cake”.  It’s easy, versatile and healthy. It’s great to reheat on cold mornings, or sometimes I will make it the day before and have my husband throw it in the oven before he goes to work so it is ready when the kids get up.

Each time you make a purchase through one of my affiliate links, you help keep my little blog-boat afloat, so thank you!

Magic Oatmeal Cake

Combine:
4-5 cups of oatmeal
 1-2 cups of yogurt
2 cups warm water

Let this sit on the counter for a few hours or until you get around to baking it. Sometimes it sits on my counter all day long.

Preheat oven to 350*

Combine in a separate bowl:
1 cup sweetener: sugar, honey, molasses, turbinado, or whatever you want
3/4 cup oil (applesauce may be substituted)

4 eggs
1 Tbls cinnamon
1 Tbls baking powder
2 Tsp. vanilla

Add the above to oatmeal/yogurt mixture, then add:
1-2 cups of milk to desired texture: more milk makes it custardy, less makes it cake-like.
 1-2 cups fruit of choice (fresh, dried, frozen)

Dump it in a 9″ x 13″ greased pan, bake for 1 hour. Let cool, then keep in fridge, you can reheat or eat cold.

Ideas for add-ins: frozen blueberries, cranberries, raspberries, strawberries, bananas, applesauce, chopped apples, pears, peaches, raisins, golden raisins, canned pineapple, walnuts, almonds, wheat germ, bran, flax seed. Dessert version: cherries and mini chocolate chips (we love Enjoy Life chocolate chips because they are allergen-friendly!)

Enjoy!

Welcome to Chasing Santee, a blog about the sweet and simple things in life. Santee is my childhood happy place and I want this blog to be my happy place on the internet. I will be sharing homeschool insights, family favorites, household hints, simple recipes and an abundance of bargains. If you like to laugh, shop, eat, read, write or teach you will love it here!