Super Busy at Home

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

The Top 5 Buys for a New Homeowner

My sister bought a house! We’re so excited for her! It is such a rewarding experience to purchase your very own home!!!

We’ve been homeowners for about 14 years now but every time I help someone move it’s amazing to me how much stuff you find out you need. Here are some things that I recommend if you are looking for something to get someone who has just moved.

A cool new key chain

On closing day the homeowner gets all kinds of new keys…surprise them with a new key ring to make their day!

A trash can

I don’t know why but whenever someone moves they need a new trash can. I don’t know why. It’s science.

Dish Soap

Instantly you’re going to want to wash your dishes when you unpack so get someone some new cleaning supplies, a new sponge and dish soap.

Toilet Paper

It’s not any fun to have people help you move and then realize you don’t have any toilet paper in your new house.

Vacuum Cleaner

Think how happy it will make a new homeowner to surprise them with a new vacuum cleaner! I know when we bought our first place we didn’t have an adequate vacuum for an entire house.











What We Found in Mississippi

IMAGE.JPG

This summer we were able to travel with Nick down to Mississippi on a business trip. 

I feel the need to tell you that if you are thinking of going to Mississippi in the smack dab middle of the summer and you’re wondering if it will be hot the answer is…um, yes.  Most decidedly yes!  The heavens declare the answer is yes.  If you find me I will be screaming yes!  It was hot, humid, bug filled, and pretty miserable weathere wise.

Since we are on a journey to have the children visit each state we decided to go. I say that because of the nature of Nick's work it doesn't often lead us to popular destinations but rather smack dab into rural America. While I would have loved to travel down to the coast or over to the river bank, we only went as far as the North Eastern corner of the state.

We stayed in Starkville which is home to Mississippi State.  It is a GIGANTIC campus!  If you are looking for some big whoppin’ school to go to with humidity and flying, biting insects then have I got a place for you!

You know me, I try to find fun things to do when we go places. I am a big believer that even if you’re in the backwoods of a state there is still so much to see.   The culture and the people can be such a learning experience and such a joy when we get away from the chain restaurants and actually steep ourselves in the lives of the people we’re surrounded by. This is how we have fun in our family.

However, it proved difficult in Starkville. Very. difficult.

Nothing.

Nothing.

Nothing.

There was nothing to do. Being there for 5 days I found 1 park, a second hand store, and 2 ice cream stores that were nice. That’s it. The people were sweet but the town proved to have nothing to do with children.

Aren’t you glad you’re here to read this riveting post?

That being said, we were in Starkville for near a week so I had to find something else for us to do. 

Thankfully I came across the cutest little town just a short drive away. 

The town was Columbus, Mississippi and we loved going there!

If you ever get a chance to go to this town I highly recommend it!  On top of being the birthplace of Tennessee Williams, almost all of the homes are antebellum.  SO many gorgeous neighborhoods and homes to discover and gaze at.  The story goes that during the civil war the town saw the writing on the wall so to speak and became a hospital town , saving the town from inevitable destruction.

Check out of these houses…

IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG
IMAGE.JPG

Gorgeous, right?

As I’ve mentioned before, I am a history lover and my husband has a degree in architecture so old houses are our love language.  We even hunted this house, Waverly Plantation Mansion, down that is in the middle of nowhere. The picture is a touch blurry because it was already closed when we arrived so this photo was taken through the fence.

IMAGE.JPG

Another city in Mississippi we were able to enjoy was Tupelo. Birthplace of Elvis Presley, this place is steeped in history and respect for the king.  

Here is the house that Elvis grew up in. It was very eye opening. I’m always trying to compensate for the smallness of our lake cottage, warning people about the size, and, my word, this place is way smaller than ours.   

IMG_0018.JPG

Not to mention that this was his only house, not his vacation property.  

It made for some great discussions with the children on how it doesn’t really matter how or where you start out. You can follow your dreams no matter what.  It’s all about drive people, your drive.

IMG_0014.JPG

Over all we had an amazing time in Mississippi, but I’ve got to be honest, we did have to do some digging to find some off the beaten path-places. We had a great time and through all of the hard work I feel like we got a really honest look at Mississippi, not a shined up, best look for tourist kind of vision.

IMAGE.JPG

How I Plan Our Family Roadtrips

One of the biggest questions I get from readers and from friends is how I plan our trips: how do I find activities for us to do; how do we find such cool things to do.  How do I find things that people would never know about. 

Well sit right down and let me tell ya how I do it. 

Right now I am in the midst of planning for our next trip so I thought now was a PERFECT time to share with you my method (or my madness?) of planning and creating our itinerary.   

I first feel that I should tell you that I am not an expert.  I am just a mom, who educates her kids, so I look for ways to take advantage of our travel to be able to teach our kiddos more than I could at home: to immerse them in cultures and history that are rich where we visit.  I am also a mom of a one-income family so the word budget is practically tattooed on my forehead.  I say that to let you know that most of what we do is either free or pretty darn cheap.  All in all, I say that to let you know that if you are here looking for how to plan your next big trip with all of the bells and whistles, then honey, you are lookin’ in the wrong place.

Google Maps

So the first thing I do is to map out our route with google.  Is this too hard for you?  I realize this is a very complicated step, ha.

Hang in there.

I make a note of obvious places/things we want to experience.  In this past year we went to Mississippi (a post is coming about that next week!) and we drove through Memphis, Tennessee to get there.  Obviously when I think Memphis things pop into my mind…Elvis, blues, barbeque.  So I had a base of what I knew we could do while we there.

Pinterest

Next, I Pinterest the crap out of any cities that we are passing through that look like they may be large-ish (like Mephis).  I find that, in most instances, teeny towns with populations of 500 and one gas station usually are not the ideal locations for museum stops and aren’t large pulls for attention. That’s not to say that there isn’t ever anything to do but for things to see when we are traveling through and on a time crunch, I skip small towns..

So like I said, I pin away.  This gives me a general feel of what there is to do in that area and how popular the place is.  I’m also just casually feeling out what pins are coming up.  If I am getting nothing but pins on the best pub crawls and night clubs in a certain city than I start to wonder if there is indeed anything for kids to do.  Believe it or not but there are actually quite a few places in the US that do not cater to children. It’s almost like they are not welcome…at all. 

I pin all of those things on my pinterest board and then move on to…

Memberships

I pull the membership cards I have to museums, zoos, gardens, whatever and I look up the reciprocal lists.  Almost all memberships offer a reciprocal list of some kind to places that are either free or discounted for you to go to.  I pull these lists up and look for places that would be a good fit for us to go.  You guys, Emma and Cal are now 10 and 12, so let’s be honest, sadly we are no longer spending every waking moment glued to zoos. It doesn’t make sense for me to plan 4,000 zoos for us to visit.  We will sometimes visit one and that is about enough for us at this stage of childhood/awkward tweenishness.  Right now my kids are loving anything with more complicated science experiments so I look for science museums, children’s museums, and the like.  It’s just up to what your kids are loving.  I make sure to also plan according to how we will be spending the day.  If we’ve spent 8 hours cramped in the car then making them go somewhere where it’s quiet and we’re just observing will probably not be a good fit.  Rather, for that instance I’m going to look for somewhere they can burn off some energy and maybe explore a bit on their own.

Junior Ranger

Our kids have Junior Ranger vests from the National Parks, and are almost fiendish about earning new badges.  Since most National Parks and Monuments are free, I will search for some around our route for us to visit.  I REALLY advocate for this program because we have to teach the future generation to protect and preserve our land, and Nick and I learn just as much as, and probably enjoy it more than, the kids.

Pinterest…Again

After going through all of these steps, writing down places I want to go to, see, I then go back to the Pinterest board and actually OPEN the pins I have (how many of you pin the live long day but seldom actually LOOK at the pins?  Is that just me?).  I look for activities to do that will be memorable for the children.  Obviously you know what your kids like and what they don’t.  When we went to Memphis I was wanting the kids to experience the whole Elvis craze but let’s be real, they couldn’t care two flips about The King.  So spending $40 a pop on tickets was not a reasonable thing for us to do.  Plus I know that dragging our autistic son through a place with all kinds of things you shouldn’t touch, is often a bad idea.  Equipped with this knowledge I set out for less expensive sights like a restaurant Elvis liked to frequent, statues of The King, etc.  This gave them a sense of his purpose in the community, it helped them to see the enormity of him through statues, but also through seeing his favorite diner the fact that he was just a person.  They now know about him without us spending a whole ton of time and money on the experience. win-win.

https://www.pinterest.com/superbusyathome/

Places to Eat

After I have activities planned out, I go ahead and look for fun places to eat.  When we go to regions of the country I search our local food for the children to eat. And for us to eat, who am I kidding here? It’s not all about the kids!  I want them to know that not everyone eats like people in Indiana, and that’s okay.  I want them to experience foods they might not have tried otherwise and to understand that people have different tastes.  My kids are not fond of okra but they’ve at least tried it in many forms.  They know okra, they’ve tried okra, they’ve experienced okra. We’re at peace with the Okra.

https://www.pinterest.com/superbusyathome/

I would like to take this moment for a brief public service announcement on the importance of planning where you are going to eat.  Here is why: 1) then you can plan your budget for your meal 2) you have a game plan BEFORE the family is starving 3) you won’t end up at McDonald’s for every meal because you just had to pick something when everyone was hungry and snarky, ending up spending a small fortune on food that makes you feel horrible afterwards. 4) The really good places are hardly ever out in the open. It’s just a fact of life.  The truly great places to eat are hidden in the basements of buildings, the back alleys, the places you wouldn’t notice when you’re just casually driving around looking for a restaurant. 

So plan where you want to eat. 

Okay, that’s how I plan our trips when we are still at home.  When we arrive in an area I will hunt down more information in tourism magazines and rack cards.   Search them out in your hotel lobby, in the vestibule at Cracker Barrel, anywhere. These little gems of old school advertising are how you find out about fun things like the world’s largest pistachio! or the largest metal tribute to the Trail of Tears. Whatever it is, it’s likely you can find it on a rack card somewhere.

My last how I plan is one I’ve had to really hone. I almost didn’t write about it because it’s embarrassing, but here it goes…

Don’t be so uptight. If you pull into a city and your kids don’t want to do what you have planned, then don’t. Or if you drive by a sign for something that sounds really fun then go do that and scrap your plans.

For the longest time I was so tightly wound about what we had to do I was like a drill sergeant when it came to vacations. But I found that when I was like that the kids weren’t having any fun. When I would force them to go somewhere they would complain the entire time and then no one would have any fun.

I am not sure if this because I had the world’s whiniest kids (probably not) or what, but I find it’s best to try to do things that most of the family loves. Granted I am not a mother who caters to every single thing my children may or may not want to do.

Like, I love hiking. My kids despise it. Over the years I’ve been able to say, “this is something I really want to do” and they at least tolerate it without complaining. I know that once they are out there hiking they will have fun because they always do. And if you can’t say that to your kids then maybe it’s because mine are almost teenagers, so hang in there!

I hope this helps you guys! I love planning trips. I know some people hate it but I adore it and find it a really fun challenge.

Happy planning, sweet friends!

 

planning a family roadtrip. How to find fun things to do with kids.

What If...

A couple of weeks ago I bore my soul to y’all about my decision to be happy. It was really hard and took me WAY out of my comfort zone to share that.

But I’m so glad I did.

Sharing a part of myself with everyone has been brutal on my emotions, but it has also been so redeeming. It has taught me so many things about everyone. First of all, I had so many people reach out to me with a combined voice to say that I was saying exactly what was on their heart as well.

A journey to share the message of beauty and redemption with all women.  Super Busy at Home talks about loving other women and serving.

It is so nice to know I am not alone and heartbreaking at the same time to know that we women have been listening to the voices within for far too long.

It makes me wonder when did this all start and what if we hadn’t listened to the voice at all?

What if…

What if we all stopped looking at exercise as something we have to do? What if we started looking at it as something we get to go? How radical would that change your world? I found a class I LOVE that is combination of Pilates and yoga. It stretches me mentally and physically. It works me until I’m sore and I adore going to this class. It is my me time.

What if we stopped looking at clothes in a way that we have to cram ourselves into a certain number or we are doomed? I spent too much time trying to cram my body into a size that wasn’t reasonable. Once I gave up and started dressing to cover my body in enough fabric that I didn’t look like I was trying to win a sausage race, I discovered I looked better and was actually comfortable!

What if we stopped degrading ourselves as mothers if we put our feet up and read the magazine? What if we started looking at that as needed time of self-preservation.

What if we stopped and looked at the sky, or the way the leaves move in the breeze? What if we stayed there for 10 minutes? What if worship comes in acknowledging the creator of all these things?

What if we start acknowledging things for what they are when they are sucking our soul dry to the very marrow we cling to for life? What if we sought out things of beauty that our souls were made to crave, made to love, made to need? What if we filled our homes with soft music, fresh flowers, and flickering candles, just for ourselves and our love of the beauty it invokes into our true selves through each sense?

What if we taught our children that cleaning the house or studying math or memorizing sonnets was not some gloom and doom situation but was rather a chance to take care of the kingdom, to take a glimpse at the handiwork of God in creating this universe? What if we cracked open a book of difficult literature or studied works of art as part of a journey to catch a glimpse of the face of our creator carved through the works of His created beings?

IMAGE.JPG

What if we strove to understand the bible and his ideas, not so we can check off our “devotion” checkbox but so we can sit at the feet of God and bask in his life giving light? What if we fed off of his truths? What if we hung to the very word of God, the red inked letters in the manuscript of love as much as we cling to the Pinerest worthy quotes that mere mortals say about God?

What if we all actually believed the bible? What if we all didn’t internally kind of roll our eyes at the verses we’ve come to know from the beginning of our churched lives but actually took them to heart and coveted their meaning? What if we hid their words in our heart, words like HE CREATED US IN HIS IMAGE? Would listening to those words have helped me to block out the voice in my head? If I had not only hidden his word in my heart, not simply etched it into my being but gouged it into my very existence, could I have fought off the true enemy who brings words of scorn and deceit and disdain?

Certainly.

There are so many what ifs in life.

What if we all joined together today to spread love and not hate, to build other women up instead of clawing them down?

What if?

New Duds for Mom

How are y’all doing in your year so far? I know I’ve reached the point where the newness of the homeschool year has worn off and I am starting to wonder if we can make it until Fall Break.

You guys, I've reached my upper-mid thirties. 

Gulp.

Don't tell anyone, okay? 

I feel as if age doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things but in life I can certainly tell that I am starting to act my age. 

Like in matters of apparel.  I get why my grandma, who is 92 now, insists on wearing the same  style of slippers that she's worn since before I can remember...comfort. 

Comfort, people, comfort. 

Which often times makes it hard to be cute and stylish when you just want to crawl into some kind of ball made out of terry cloth and stay there forever. 

But I can't...you know, because, kids. 

Outside of being a mom I am also a director of some camps, a teacher, and a wife, so you know, there are those things. 

And can we just add to it I'm also a lady on a budget?...that's right everyone, I said it.  Money doesn't grow on trees over here.  There's no dollar fairy in these woods.  Despite my many hats we're basically a one income family and that means there are sacrifices people, Sacrifices!

What does sacrificing mean, you may ask?  Well, it means I hone in on one thing to get rather than the 20 on my list of wants.  It's hard.  Cough, cough.  Some day my old self will thank me when there's something in that retirement fund so I can buy fancy slippers like Grandma Jean. 

In the meantime here are some things that I buy when I want to spruce up the old wardrobe.  These are items I have purchased in the last year, here and there.  But they've been total game changers for my wardrobe. Also, I may add that all of these things can really spruce up any denim jumper and they are all me-approved for doing all of the weird things that us homeschooling moms find ourselves do…from mixing chemistry projects to running kids to sports to teaching math to rolling around on the floor playing to vacuuming to…well, the list goes on and on.

Adidas leather sneakers

812l+Lstb0L._UX500_.jpg

You guys listen, they didn’t fail us in middle school and they won’t fail us now. There are also canvas options but I went for leather because I am not Martha Stewart with an entourage of people to assist in making my sneaks look great. I know I will walk through anything and everything and the leather makes it easy to wipe clean and press on.

I have a pair of these and I’ve found that I can wear them with so many things. Tee shirts of course but sweaters, skirts, dresses, you name it. They really add a sense of fun to my outfit I wouldn’t normally have had with the clothes I wear them with and they are seriously comfortable.

Anything from Evy's Tree...seriously, anything 

I have been such a fan of their clothing for years. It was only within the past two years or so that I got wise to their sales. They have these amazing garments, primarily really comfortable sweatshirt creations, that I salivate over and try to justify in my mind but most (no, all) of the time we just can’t spend over $100 for a sweatshirt.

However, their sales are amazing! If you wait and watch you can score some awesome sauce deals! For example my latest order was last month…I ordered a tee of theirs, a sweater, and an amazing sweatshirt top for under $50.

A cute bag 

I love bags. I have a problem but yes, I love bags. TJ Maxx is a great place to get a great deal. Or Amazon for the beauty above which won’t break your bank and comes in a bunch of colors. Wherever you get a bag, the things to remember is to get a bag that works for you and you don’t have to break the bank to get a cute new purse.

If you need some recommendations of my faves you can read my blog all about them if you missed it.

Earrings

This is something that is so simple and yet such a game changer.

Truly, you guys!

Find some earrings and pair them with an unexpected outfit. Or buy some new ones and try those out with an outfit you are really tired of. They help to change things up and to frame your beautiful face.

Starfish Pants from Lands End 

There are not many things in this life that I have one, brand specific piece I would recommend. But leggings are when I am different.

These pants are life.

One of the amazing things about these pants is the thickness of the fabric, the breathability, and the fact that they can be worn for anything…from working out to working in the office, they are just that amazing!

I wear the Starfish slim leg pants but they also have the original cut, leggings, jeans, and even crops. So comfortable!


Ladies, listen to me, I know money is tight when you’re homeschooling but it is so important to treat yourself, even if it’s something small. It helps with your sanity, it helps you to feel like the special woman you are, not just a wife and mother, with constant demands on you day in and day out.

Find a way to treat yourself!

 

 

My Big Decision

This is a hard post to write.

I’m about to get real here. And real is so hard to put out into the world.

Here we go, a bit of my heart out in the world…

I have spent the majority of my life hating myself. No, that’s not even accurate…loathing myself. I feel that loathing is a deeper feeling than simply hatred and so I’ve chosen that word to describe the feelings towards myself.

For about 20 years I have wanted to change my appearance. I grew up being told what was wrong with me. In every single way. And so somehow, slowly, in every way, that became ingrained in each fiber of my soul.

It was with this feeling of inadequacy that I began a comprehensive list of what was wrong with me. When I was 16 I was sure if I could be thinner boys would like me. In college, if I could pay for plastic surgery to remove the dimple on my nose left by the scarring of a severe case of chicken pox, then, oh then, I would have a real chance at being a knockout. When I met Nick things became better and worse at the same time. A juxtaposition of deep emotions surfaced. I had found someone who loved me just as I was because that was how God made me. And oh, it felt amazing. But it felt so distant and unfamiliar. So my list making continued but more in the light of “I would be worthy of my boyfriend/then fiance/then husband if _________” was different about me.

Don’t get me wrong, I was told that God loved me in the Bible and through all of the church leaders I experienced, but I was sure He could love me more if I was a better person, a better version of myself, if I could have more self control or more of a regimented beauty routine, take care of my temple better so he would be prouder of me.

Flash forward to a 30ish year old version of me…a person who has spent the vast majority of life trying to change. Trying to become pretty, insistent that if I could just get my butt in gear I could be a different person. I could be the me I’m supposed to be. I dieted to any nutritionist’s hearts content. I worked out daily (read that as DAILY!!!!) for months on end and nothing happened except gaining weight and backne. I was done for.

Looking good in the shade at Bonneville Mill, Bristol Indiana



I went to the doctor, insistent that something was wrong with me…insistent I must have a basketball sized growth that weighed the same as a small child somewhere within me. But bloodwork came back shockingly that I was abnormally healthy. And my doctor had a serious talk with me… “maybe you’re just the size you’re supposed to be. To me you look like a healthy hawaiian woman.” Ouch I thought. How insulting. I’ll show him.

Although at this point in our story I’m pretty much out of options…every diet has not worked, paleo made me feel healthy but not skinnier, trim healthy mama made me feel glowing but again, not skinnier, and working out added muscles (the horror!)

I’ve seen specialists, nutritionists, trainers, and more.

In the most recent chunk of time I came home from our summer cottage and joined a new diet program thinking…this is it! I’m going to be a new person! People will like me! I’ll be amazing! But I found myself feeling horrible and unable to function at any point needed to to be a good wife and mother. Worse than that…I still was not losing any weight.

Looking super intense and reflective at Bonneville Mill, Bristol Indiana

I started reading some things that I believe God put in my path to pave the way for me. I started thinking how nice it would be to experience the “joy” fruit of the spirit, to be happy despite my circumstances and how great it would feel to be content. Truly content. After all of these thought I was tired of not being happy with myself. I realized if I was ever going to be happy I had to make a change.

So a few weeks ago I sent my husband a text message:

Be honest, are you really happy with me? Just as I am? Be honest!

He responded:

Yes, I love you just as you are.

Truly Happy with myself and my husband at Bonneville Mill, Bristol Indiana

So I decided I could too.

Those few weeks ago I had this aha moment (or a duh moment depending on how your glass is filled/emptied in your view of life) that I had spent the vast majority of my life hating myself…no, loathing myself. And I was tired of it.

I was done with not being content. I had always associated the word contentment with money and material possessions but the bottom line was that I had my health and all of these amazing aspects of my life and yet I was finding no contentment based solely on my physical appearance.

I found myself thinking…

What would happen if I consciously made decisions about what I put in my body to eat based on what was the very best for my actual health and not for my diet?

What would happen to my soul if I decided that I am not who my skin and waist size and nose dimple say I am but rather that issimply part of the shell of the person I really am? Could I come to love that person? Doesn’t that person deserve to feel love and acceptance?

Amazing Flower Garden at Bonneville Mill, Bristol Indiana

What if I decided to dance in the kitchen or to be silly or to wear my favorite skirt even if I look ridiculous? What would happen other than my heart exploding with happiness and my children witnessing a confident mother?

So…

I’ve made a big decision folks…I’ve decided to be happy.

Happy with me. Happy with who I am. Happy with the girl God made me as. Just happy.

Despite what my scale says or the size of shirt I purchase. I will be happy because God loves me and made me.

I started writing this all a few weeks ago when I made the decision and yet something stopped me from posting immediately. I was instantly scared of what my old friends would say. I was intimidated by people not thinking I’m perfect (not that I ever have been!). But in the past few weeks I’ve found myself simply working through those feelings rather than cowering behind them like the old me may have done.

Being happy and silly with my boy at Bonneville Mill, Bristol Indiana

Now I am focusing on being happy with my family. Exercising with them. Making healthy foods that support my children’s brains and bodies to make them the healthiest they can be I’m happy being a mom, a wife, a friend, and a sister simply through being me.

Smiling while watching my kids play, Bonneville Mill, Bristol Indiana

I’ve made a big decision and I hope it inspires you to start looking at yourself differently to see how truly loved you are…just they way you are.

It feels so good to make the decision to be happy!