Family blog about homeschooling, autism, travel, and budget

Family blog about homeschooling, autism, saving money, mom blog, travel, vacation, budgeting.

The Secret Place to go if you're a stressed out Mom...

Are you a stressed Momma on the verge of a break down?  You know what I mean. We all reach that place at some point where we just don't know if we can do it (by it meaning, anything!) anymore.   

There's a place that I promise will help you.  You need to run there, now! 

Kroc Center Fitness Room, workout gym, sanctuary of alone time and contemplation, Kroc Center, South Bend Indiana

It's the gym. 

Wahhh???? 

I was reminiscing the other day while on the tread mill.  There was a time that I would go to the gym with tears streaming down my face, not knowing if I could make it another day.  Literally. 

Autism is hard y'all.  You can understand that somewhat, but unless you go through it, you don't really know what I am talking about.  

The screaming.  The tantrums.  The round and round arguments that convince you you are going insane.  Watching your child suffer, knowing you can't undo anything.  It's a hard and brutal momma life.   

Too often than not I found myself with my husband out of town, juggling homeschooling two kids, and not being able to look down the barrel of autism.  

Can I share something with you here? I remember a day when I was at my breaking point and I found myself going to the treadmill.  I had so much emotion being held inside that I couldn't really remember how I had gotten on the treadmill or to the treadmill, I just knew I was there. I wanted to run away truthfully but that treadmill and that place kept me there. I just didn't want to do it anymore.  I hope that doesn't sound lame or contrite but in that moment, I had had enough.  I wasn't cut out for this mom business, I thought.  But then my head started to clear.   I ran and ran, harder than I ever had and came to the realization: 

The gym will be my place. 

Of course, every gym has their own set of amenities and rules but here's the deal with ours: 

I can put the kids in child care there for up to two hours at a time.  I am sure this is with the idea you are going to go workout but no one asks.  

There's a cafe area, a pool, a gym, and free wifi.  

What I thought was that the gym was the place I needed to be at when I was on my last nerve but I eventually found myself dragging all of us there for some peace so I wouldn't have to enter "on my last nerve" territory.  

I would take the kids to the child care and sometimes I would go and work out. There is nothing like working out to help clear your head.  I remember once when I was dealing with some pretty tough post-partum stuff I called my dad (who's a pastor).  He listened to me rant for I don't know how long and then quietly he said "Linds, you need to go work out." And ladies, he was right!  The hormones and chemicals are so much reset by working out! 

Sometimes though (gasp), I wouldn't.  I would go sit in the hot tub or take a long shower, or read the bible in the cafe, or work on my blog in peace.  You guys, the gym over the years has been my saving grace.  

Delicious and Nutritious treats at the Kroc Cafe, Kroc Center, South Bend IN.

Whether you have a child with special needs or not, all of us mommas reach a point where we are broken and weary and need a break.  We need grace and understanding and Jesus.  We also sometimes just need someone else to watch our kids so we can have some us time.  It's okay. It's acceptable.  It's required.  

So go to the gym.  Find a gym that has useful things for your kids and for yourself.  Find something that works for your family.  I know our gym membership is cheaper than me paying a babysitter for four hours.  Taking my kids to child care one day a week for two hours each month is more than worth the membership...not to mention all of the other times we use the facility. 

When you are a momma at home struggling and alone, the world can be a scary place.  I get it!  Please, don't ever hesitate to reach out (to me, I'm here!) if you need someone to talk to, to pray with you, to love on you, or just to be there.  

You're worth it, you deserve it, now go to the gym. 

Review: Conner Prairie

Each school year we enter into the sacred time with new hopes and expectations for the future.  It's always a feeling of excitement and with fervor we rush into the newness of our schedules: armed with the unspoken promise that our efforts will indeed bring forth a new era of accomplishment into our lives.  

Each year as a homeschooling family we try to carve time out of our schedules for two field trips each month for the duration of our school year.  Sometimes we fail, other times we flourish.  No matter what the future within our new year may bring, for the past several years our inaugural field trip has been to a place that has never failed to invoke a feeling of wonder and to evade our schooling with excitement. 

What is this place?  

It's Conner Prairie.  

Located in the heart of Indiana (which is the heart of the Midwest, keenly inside the heart of the heart) is a place that has evolved over the years into something nothing short of magical.  

We had the joy of being hosted this year by Conner Prairie in exchange for this, my own words about the place called Conner Prairie.  

First let me tell you about our trip this year: 

The Prairie opens each day at 10 am so we planned to be there right at the beginning.  Arriving in the morning is always so fun because the animals haven't met the full heat of the day yet.  We found frolicking lambs, squealing piglets, and playful kids (in the goat variety) wherever we turned.  While we are not strangers to the barnyard scene, we certainly are not accustomed to it on a daily basis.  Conner Prairie's farm life comes in just the perfect way...lots of experts to explain things and buckets of hand sanitizer.  

After saying hello to the animals we scoped out our map and decided that Treetop Outpost was the next place for us.  

The thing I love the most about the Treetop Outpost (or the treehouse as my kiddos call it) are the amount of activities there are to do within the area.  Kids with varying interests can enjoy different activities at the same time while mom is nearby.  Our kids are 10 and 12 and I love letting them wonder through the Outpost without me, giving them a sense of adventure and independence while mom is waiting at the bottom for their return.  

After lots of fun running, making music, digging, and exploring we decided to partake in a Make and Take craft.  For only $5 per child they were each able to construct a wooden treasure box.  We adore Conner Prairie's crafts because they are solid objects that the kids can take home and treasure.  I always walk away amazed by what they were able to construct and at how much of a value each craft is. 

If you decide to do a make and take craft, be sure to make it a point to talk to the workers who oversee the crafts; they truly are a plethora of knowledge from the history of Conner Prairie to the best places to eat once you leave, I've had some very interesting and insightful conversations with these wonderful people.  You can tell that they are deeply invested in Conner Prairie and not just an employee.  

Our day progressed and as the heat intensified I felt we were slowing down, like a little family moving through glue.  

We stopped to play in a tug of war game in the Prairietown area outside of the general store we explored.  

After that I was losing Cal.  Most of you know he has High Functioning Autism.  We reach a point where enough is enough and he just needs some quiet and alone time.  

Last year was when I discovered Conner Prairie has these Quiet Spots.  I adore that they don't have just one but several throughout the prairie.  Because let's be real, can be worse than trying to move a child in a full panic all the way across the complex to a quiet area. I've done that at other places and let me tell you, it's not fun.  I counted no less than 5 Quiet Spots on the Conner Prairie map but there could be more.  I can't say enough about these areas you guys...they are a godsend! 

We found one right on the edge of the town by the restrooms and for a momma in crisis mode it is a dream come true...quiet, well lit, cold, with a box of sensory resources to use.  I am highly impressed by Conner Prairie's attention to detail in this department.  Weighted blankets and fidget toys are calming for us and they had both.  Amazing, you guys! 

After our break we refueled (Conner Prairie allows outside food to be brought in) and then we headed out to the Civil War Journey area.  

If you have older kids learning about the Civil War, this is such an ideal destination.  First of all, let's be real, there just aren't many field trips you can find within Indiana, or the Midwest for that matter, about the Civil War.  And while it was very neat for us in the past to travel to places like Gettysburg or Savannah to learn about the civil war history there, in reality it's just not practical in most time frames of life.  

The Conner Prairie Civil War area does an amazing job of transporting you back in time by having you walk across a real covered bridge to enter.  There are a couple fairly intense representations of Civil War action, a house to explore, and more!  

With the heat in the mid-nineties when we visited we also enjoyed their new splash pad, and their new water play feature (again, we stayed here forever because this is always super calming for Cal).  

Conner Prairie is located in Fishers, Indiana, which sits as a cute little hat on top of Indianapolis.  It is very close to the interstates and very convenient to get to.  I think it would be impossible to make it through everything in one day (we only covered two and a half areas this trip!).  Below is a carousel of photos from a previous trip we had to Conner Prairie, just to give you a look at other things they offer: Tomahawk throwing, Fun Science activities (indoors and out!), the William Conner house (that started the entire place!), there is so much to do.  

If you are a homeschooler and would love to visit, I have good news!  

They have another homeschool day coming up this week!  

September 12th is their final homeschool day of 2018.  Tour prices are only $5.50 per student with 1 free educator and $8.50 for any additional adults. Such a great value for your family! 

They also offer various homeschool activities throughout the year that are focused on an indepth look at various sciences or historical eras.  Water filtration, civil rights, and lunar landers are some of the topics on their calendar. 

You can read all about their homeschool programs and their upcoming homeschool day here.  

I hope you enjoyed our little tour and review!  We love Conner Prairie and we know you will too!

A New Start for Momma with the New School Year

I love Back-to-School time, don't you? 

The smell of fresh pencils, new crayons, and fresh starts hangs in the air like the smell after a spring rain.  

Sweet kiddos need a refreshed Momma for the new school year!  Read more at Super Busy at Home.  #homeschooling #backtoschool

And it doesn't help that my kiddos are always so stinkin' cute on our first day of school!  They are so sweet and always let me take loads of photos of them in their cute little outfits.  I am very thankful for a little girl who actually still wanted to wear her outfit from last year that still fit (can she stay little forever, please?).  

It's so easy to usher this time of year through like all of the other times (after all, we're all a tad bit sick of the heat by now and are just waiting for the coolness of Autumn, can I get an amen?) but I think it is such a great time to have a restart.  A pause, a change, a reversal of what we don't like going on in our lives and a time for things to start new in a fresh direction.  

I have always felt like this.  When I was a kid I was a super nerd (fitting as now I'm super busy!) and would ponder and think and obsess over what "theme" my school supplies would be for the year.  After all, the image you're setting out for the world as a fourth grader is super important stuff.  Ha. 

I remember one year I wanted to be super traditional in the mindset that that would somehow project a super serious study ethic onto myself...I insisted on a plaid fabric trapper keeper, straight yellow pencils (no designs, gasp!), and the plainest backpack we could find.  I was going to nail school to the wall.  

Then there was the one year I was going to be the Punky Brewster of Mrs. Grass' third grade class.  Kids would want to be me.  All unicorns, all glitter, all the time.  

Obviously this whole "new school year, new me" thing has been with me for a while.  I love starting a new routine, a new schedule, with new, sometimes over inflated, expectations for myself.  Some I am amazing at.  Some I completely miss.  And that's okay.  It's a time to tweak what works, to learn more about myself and to understand what I truly love in life.  It's also a good time for me to set goals for myself as a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister. 

What goals are you making this year?  

Want to know mine? 

1. Read my Bible

The legit bible.  Not someone's take on the bible. Not instagram quotes about the bible but the fleshed out, living word, Bible. If you don't have a bible you love, maybe it's time for a new one.  My parent's bought me a bible once in college.  I wanted to love that thing so bad...but in the end the chapter I was in and the book of the bible were printed all the way half way into the page, making it wonky and almost impossible to thumb through to find what I was looking for.  In the end a new bible can sometimes solve problems like this, put you more at ease in the book, and help jumpstart you into a fresh start.  Here's one that I love

2. Take Better Care of Me

About the time that school was getting to let out in the spring I noticed, gee I've let my self care slide big time.  I acknowledged it but didn't really know how to change. Thankfully at the beginning of the summer I had a dear friend, Heather, smack some sense into me and pretty much drag me into a Pilates class.  In that class I finally got it...it's okay to take time for myself to say, you know what?  I am worthy of this.  I deserve this.  I need this.  Since then I've continued going when I can to classes, I've taken up educating myself on things that are important to me (like family time, healthful eating and how to work at a marriage), bought myself flowers, and made time for me to just be me.

It feels great and I plan on making sure I carve time out of our school schedule to be sure I have time for things that matter to me. Some days I have more time than on other days but even if it's just five minutes to pick up a book, fling myself on the bed and read, I try to make a mental note that I am taking a small break to unwind and have me time.  It really does help and makes me feel more gratitude towards our life.   

3. Stop Being Lazy

In my taking better care of me time I've been reading the book Hoodwinked: Ten Myths Moms Believe & Why We All Need to Knock It Off by Karen Ehman & Ruth Schwenk.    In this book it really takes the time to explain about laziness well.  First of all it describes the act of possessing wisdom not only as the ability to have information but in turn the ability to rightly use that information. In other words, skilled living.  If I have the information needed to keep a house but am not doing so, am not being skilled in my ability to live then therefore I am lacking in the wisdom department.  

It has been such an eye opening book!  

It also went to talk about the second chapter of Titus which, girl, you know I love since my very blog's name came from that verse!  Preach!

Bid the older women similarly to be reverent and devout in their deportment as becomes those engaged in sacred service, not slanderers or slaves to drink. They are to give good counsel and be teachers of what is right and noble.

So that they will wisely train the young women to be sane and sober of mind and to love their husbands and their children,

To be self-controlled, chaste, homemakers, good-natured, adapting, and subordinating themselves to their husbands, that the word of God may not be exposed to reproach.
— Titus 2:3-5

The book discusses how the passage calls us to be homemakers or "keepers of the home".  It doesn't matter whether you work or are a stay at home mom, the fact of the matter is that God has called us to manage homes and those things which have been placed in our charge.  Being busy at home means not being busy and idle.  Not just pittering about the house all day without seeing anything being accomplished.  Instead we are to take care of our homes and families.  Truth!  

How many times I get behind on things because I am looking at Pinterest or browsing a magazine, rather than staying diligent in my house work.  How many times I have felt discouragement and the feeling of confidence in myself lacking because I have let me chores slide and I find myself in a pit of never-ending drudgery.  

Well enough is enough.  The banishment of laziness will begin now!

 

We're looking forward to our new school year.  We are doing the homeschool program, Classical Conversations again this year.  Emma is moving up to the Challange A Program and Cal will be in Foundations and Essentials.  Each year brings new challenges and new opportunities with our cute crew and we pray you'll have a great year too! 


Comment below what goals you have this year...I'd love to be praying for you! 

New Goals for Momma with the New School Year

 

 

2018s First Day of School

And just like that we are out of the gate with this years new school year.  

Emma is in Challenge A within the Classical Conversations program.  It is basically their version of 7th grade.  While we are so excited for her and for the chance to watch her grow and mature within the program, it has been a difficult transition into conforming to someone else's schedule.  We have always been a family who started school after Labor Day so we could soak up every drop of summer.  But being part of this community means things aren't always just about our schedule and so we've had to start school earlier than we usually do.  I keep giving myself a pep talk about it...starting sooner will allow for more breaks and for us to end the school year earlier than normal! 

We usually take photos of the kids each year.  Last year we did this too...you can read about it here. This year, though, was a bit weird in how we started.  Usually Nick tries to be home and we all kind of do it together.  But he and I were gearing up to leave and the air conditioning in the Flex had taken a nose dive so he was out getting refrigerant to recharge the system.  We started without him but had a great time taking pictures together.  In a weird turn of events, Emma's back to school outfit from last year still fit and she wanted to wear it.  I think anytime you're 12 year old daughter is still willing to wear an Eleanor Rose outfit with Joyfolie Mary Janes, you should take that opportunity and run with it.  Emma is the sweetest thing in mostly letting me dress her still but I know any day now she will be declaring her independence.  Calvin can sometimes have strong opinions about his clothing but thankfully he was easy peasy.  "here're some shorts, here's a shirt" and he's just "okay".  I'm so blessed you guys! 

Back to Home School for Seventh Grade with Eleanor Rose and Joyfolie.  Super Busy at Home is talking about how to have a good school year with cute clothes and lots of excitement!
Back to home school time. We're starting our fifth grade year with our boy.  Read more on Super Busy at Home.

We had a good breakfast together and had our morning time while we sat around the table.  Morning time is simply a time that we are together and doing things together as a family.  We sang a hymn, read some poetry, and read a portion of a book together. We also did a devotion and then I introduced them to their new devotional books that they will be working on individually.  It's a great way to begin our day together.  

Even though we homeschool, we give our kids lists that we take to go do back to school shopping.  The kids love doing this and then when we get home I arrange their school supplies for them.  Some things like paper and glue sticks just go into communal receptacles for everyone to use and some things get placed into their desk so just they can use those.  This always seems to work great for us and it's always fun to see them excited about getting to use their school supplies! Who doesn't love new pencils?!?

Back to School time means lots of silliness and fun school supplies! Read more at Super Busy at Home.

After morning time the kids worked on their work...Calvin only had math, spelling, and handwriting to do. His Classical Conversation community days don't start for a couple more weeks, so until then, he will be doing light classwork.  This gives him an opportunity to ease back into the school schedule. Emma had some "about me" papers to fill out for her first day with her CC class and then had latin to do.  She was very diligent about her work and very thorough with her tasks.  I am hoping she will continue those traits throughout the school year.  Sometimes raising a tween is tough! 

After school work came chores and piano practice.  All in all it was a great first day of school. 

That night we dropped the kids off at my mom and dads and took off for our anniversary trip.  It's weird to not be with them for their first week of school but they were given all of their work to do with grandparents and they know what is expected of them.  And like I said, they have a really light school load this first week so it will be okay. It was hard for my Momma-heart to accept not being with them but in the end this was the way our schedules converged so we made it work.  

And that's our day! I can't believe the kids are in seventh and fifth grade!  How did this happen?  When did they get so old?  When did I get so old?  Yeesh! 

Back to Home School Time.  Super Busy at Home.

Happy back to schooling y'all! xo 

Changing Classrooms is Hard!

Y'all change is hard!  

It's hard on me mentally, physically, emotionally, gah, it's just hard.  

These past few weeks we have been working on the transition of flip-flopping our playroom (affectionately known as the blue room) and our classroom (formerly located on the third floor of our home).  

These changes have been really hard on basically no one...except me.  I am such a weirdo.  

You can see some of my favorite photos of our classroom in this blog post.  

Our classroom has always been on the third floor.  Nick had to custom make our shelves and book cases to get them to fit to the pitch of the roof.  It was a really, really special place to me...in my mind.  

The reality of the situation was that we found ourselves in a predicament that we were hardly ever able to get everything accomplished when we had school up there.  We were lucky to start our day on time and if we didn't finish by lunch I could pretty much kiss any chance of finishing our work goodbye.  

In addition to that, the homeschool room very often during seasons of the year looked like a clumsy SWAT team had been searching for something amidst holiday decorations.  Things were strewn all over, nothing could be organized amidst the chaos.  It was bad.  Bad, folks, bad.  If you need to see something to understand you can read this old post but I'm warning you...it's bad.  

Why was schooling so hard up there you ask?  Well, it was really hard to pinpoint the reasoning...I always blamed it on a multitude of things which included it being so far removed from the rest of the house, it being too sunny and warm in the afternoon, it being really dark in the morning hours, it being too cluttered, and on and on and on.  

A couple of years ago God started working on my heart.  I still wanted to homeschool but I wanted it to be an ever-present pulse in our family.  For us it had always been something we do only up in the classroom and then we come downstairs, shut the door, and put it out of our minds.  I didn't want that anymore.  I tried incorporating school more into our every day life.  We did more school in the dining room over tea and after lunch, outside.  While we found ourselves enjoying school more we found our house starting to look like a used curriculum sale was taking place...random papers, books, and projects started to stray to every nook and bump out of our victorian.  And this Momma was getting mad.  

We tried for seven years to make it work.  But there came a breaking point when we decided it was time to change.  For the reasons mentioned above but also with the pitch of the roof it was starting to become difficult for the three of us (including two growing like weeds children) to maneuver around the desks like we had when they were so little. 

So one day on a whim, we changed.  I declared that we were moving the classroom downstairs.  

So we did.  

The toys and craft supplies went upstairs.  We are still muddling through where everything should go on the third floor.  And downstairs we are struggling with where to put everything.  We no longer have an entire floor of the house for our supplies but rather a single room.  Downsizing is now our middle name.  In the process I have found that it was a long over due process.  Projects, books, manipulatives, and supplies for children with much shorter limbs and much chubbier fingers are still hanging around.  Once we've gone through everything I'm hoping it will be a manageable amount for our classroom.  But it will have to be so we will make it work.  

Homeschool classrooms and kiwi crate time!  Super Busy at Home

There are parts of the classroom I will really miss but there are parts of the new classroom that I am really starting to find such assets to our family.  For example, our new classroom (the blue room if you'll remember) has three rose of sharon bushes outside of our massive picture window.  Four birdfeeders later and we have officially become "bird people".  Also, the classroom is right off the downstairs laundry room and powder room.  We have a large utility sink for washing brushes, taking our science experiments, and more.  I can also now fold laundry while watching them do their math.  Very convenient.  

Before the move, our families biggest arguements were about legos.  Dumb I know.  But the kids legos were in the blue room, which we have to go through to get to the laundry room and we have to pass through to get to the dining room from the kitchen.  It was always a fight to get them to pick up their legos in the middle of creating something or to at least scootch them over so I didn't have to plow through them with laundry in tow.  Now the legos are upstairs and, while we still insist on them picking up, they can at least display their finished projects without fear of someone stepping on them.  Where the legos once were downstairs is now a monstrous desk we found at Restore.  

Redecorating homeschool classrooms and playrooms.  Super Busy at Home

With the children getting older, needing more head room, using less supplies, and wanting to create, this is a better solution for our family.  We also have school books on hand in the room off our dining room now for more dialectic discussion around the dinner table.  Words are starting to be debated and chewed upon.  

All that to say, the whole "still in transition" business is so hard for me.  At least once a day I find myself having to re-convince myself that this is a change for the best for the whole family and one day, eventually, I will love both spaces as much as I loved our little classroom in the sky.  


I struggle so much with change.  Do you?  How do you talk yourself down from despair when things are not perfect?