Hey mamas and papas! It is back to school season, but this year, back to school looks a lot different than usual. Whether your family is homeschooling, virtual learning, going to school "in real life," or something in between, it is important to have good resources on hand to supplement, support, or guide your child's learning.
As a teacher, a mom, and a student myself, education is so important to me! This fall, I'll be taking doctoral classes online, teaching Montessori English, reading, history, and government/economics to my middle school students virtually, AND I'll also be homeschooling my first grader and two year old. To be honest, I'm most excited to teach my own littles, but it is the most daunting task of all!
Something I've learned with teaching is that having great resources on hand makes a huge difference. Thankfully, Amazon has had my back in making it easy and affordable to purchase the items we need! There are tons of great materials available that make homeschooling a little bit easier and a lot more fun. Check out my little curated collection of favorites below to see the products we are using this year to facilitate a love for learning at home!
* Click on the images below for direct links to products. My blog will receive a small commission for any purchases made through these links, at no additional cost to you.
When dealing with younger kids (Pre-K to third grade), sight words are just as important as phonics in learning to read! Pair some level-appropriate sight word practice with a general love of books and reading, and you're well on your way to having an avid reader!
Some of my son's favorite ways to practice vocabulary and spelling are with flash cards and ESPECIALLY with sight word BINGO! We also have a few workbooks we use and like (linked below), but any time you can GAMIFY learning, it is a win.
MATH, Science, & Social Studies
Amazon has some really cool geology kits and things to captivate little learners and foster a love for science, discovery, and STEM. For both science and social studies, we love FLY GUY books. For younger kids, things like puzzles and globes are awesome for understanding the basics of maps and geography, the foundations for future social studies learning. The most important thing when educating young kids is not to drill them with information to memorize, but to INSPIRE them to LOVE learning and to spark a natural curiosity within them. The goal is to build lifelong learners!
While most of these are aimed for the kindergarten through second grade range, most of the brands linked also offer options to "level up" to meet your kid's needs!
If you need suggestions for other ages, specific educational concerns, or online/digital resources, just leave a comment below; there are so many resources out there for our kiddos. I'm happy to help however I can! Happy homeschooling. :)
I read this quote once, years ago: “Your greatest contribution might not be something you do, but someone you raise,” and I always think about it.
I don’t know about you, but I always put so much pressure on myself to do so much OTHER stuff in life, besides being a mom. I feel like I need to work full time to contribute to the family income. I feel like I have to keep up with this part time job I have out of fear of letting anyone else down. I feel like I need to exercise, and keep my house perfect, and manage a blog, and write, and do ministry, and travel the world, and so on and so on.
None of those things are BAD - obviously some of them are even necessary, to an extent. But I think a lot of us have this tendency to make everything else a priority BESIDES what is actually most important to us in our hearts. What I mean is that we treat the work we do OUTSIDE of the home as if it is SO IMPORTANT and SO urgent, but we often autopilot through motherhood and homemaking as if it doesn’t mean as much. We pride ourselves not on the daily grit that is essential to life for our households, families, and homes, but on the “other stuff” that we feel like we ought to be doing more of, but can’t quite always get to.
But what has been on my heart and what I’ve been wrestling with is how magnificently important the seemingly mundane stuff really is. It might feel like you’re just folding the same clothes over and over, or wiping down the same countertops night after night, or reading the same bedtime story for weeks at a time. But what you’re really doing is raising up children who feel cherished, cared for, safe and secure. What you’re really doing is cultivating an atmosphere in your home for these small humans to bloom into their best selves. The work you do, changing diapers and giving baby baths and preparing dinners - it’s life-changing.
Changing the world isn’t some big “OUT THERE” concept. It’s something you all do as mothers, each and every day, right at home. (Or wherever you are!)
You’ve probably heard it before, but do what only YOU can do. Your children have been entrusted to you by God! No one else in the whole world can be the mother you are to your children. If you’re married, no one else in the whole world is given the privilege and responsibility (lol) of being your husband’s wife.
When we do baby dedications at our church, our family ministries Pastor, Andy, gives out these cute little jars of marbles (which my husband and I have a running joke about because everytime I see it all I can think is that it’s a choking hazard!), but the point is that each marble represents a week that we have with our children before they’re grown; and it is wild! I have this app called Parent Cue that tells me how many weeks I have left with my kids. And when I see that I have already had 300 out of the 936 weeks I get to spend with my oldest son, that we are already OVER 30% through the way of his childhood, it shakes me to the core!
Motherhood really is only for a season. So while I have these dreams in my heart that I truly believe are part of my calling for the Kingdom of God, I believe that in THIS SEASON, God is calling me to rest in the peace of knowing that He is a sovereign and gracious God, so I can embrace this season of snuggles and skint knees without bearing the weight of all these other things that I’m not meant to carry. My hope is that you will embrace this season too.
Before we know it, our preschoolers will be teenagers, and they won’t be asking us to read to them in bed at night. They won’t want us to hold them or give them kisses or snuggles every day. So we need to embrace that while we can.
I think my own personal experience has made this such a passionate topic for me. I was a single mom for three years, and then I temporarily lost custody of my son after getting married because we had moved out of state for my husband’s job; I spent so many nights in tears during those two months when my son was away, missing him with a PRIMAL ache...). During those moments, I didn’t know how or if I would make it through that all. But by the grace of God, I did. And looking back, I’m actually able to thank God for walking through that with me because I don’t know that I would have been able to cherish time with my kids the way I do now if I hadn’t of once longed for that time so deeply at one point.
So, I just really have it on my heart now to encourage and exhort all of you mothers and mother-to-be to recognize the value in the role you’ve been entrusted as a mother. I hope that you will embrace it fervently, remember each day that the mundane is truly miraculous, and that this season truly does fly by.
When we downsized into our city apartment, I knew I needed a more practical, efficient vacuum that would take up as little space as possible. I did tons of research online to figure out what would be the best vacuum to meet our family's needs. Eventually, I decided that a Dyson cordless vacuum was the route to take!
When we first took it out of the packaging, I was like, yeah, okay, it looks great, but what makes Dyson any better than other brands? Why was it more expensive than other non-dysons in similar styles?
After just a week or so of having our Dyson, I realized why everyone raves about it so much. This vacuum is SO AWESOME! Here are five reasons why:
1. It is so convenient that I vacuum like five times more than ever before.
Because this vacuum is so convenient, lightweight, and cordless, I find myself whipping it out to vacuum WAY more than I've ever vacuumed before. Every time the kids finish a snack, VACUUM. Every time I finish cooking a meal, VACUUM. It's just so convent and easy to use; no lugging a heavy piece of equipment around or worrying about how far I can stretch the cord.
2. It is easy to empty and clean.
Thank goodness. All I have to do is pull a red-tab button and the trash dumps out. I don't even have to take anything apart to do this - I just hold it over the trashcan. Also, the wastebasket is made of a hard material that can be rinsed out and wiped down for extra cleanliness!
3. It has an air purifying filter.
Seriously! Some vacuums leave a musty smell behind, but the Dyson comes with some sort of HEPA filter; when I vacuum, I seriously feel like not only the carpet, but the entire atmosphere is cleaner.
4. It works on hard and soft surfaces.
This is a great feature. You don't have to switch a lever when switching between hard and soft surfaces. This is perfect for me because my tile kitchen leads into a carpeted living room.
5. It comes with easy to swap attachments, so you can use it anywhere and for anything.
I mean, these attachments are awesome. it is cordless and portable, so I can easily take it out and use it to vacuum my car. It also comes with a long, thin attachment, so I can get into the hidden crevices and corners of my home. And my favorite feature? It comes with a brush-like attachment which I use regularly to vacuum our couch and refresh our cushions!
I can't even believe I am so passionate about a vacuum of all things, but when you have kids or pets, or you're just a little messy in the kitchen, it's essential to have an awesome vacuum that works for you! We use this EVERY DAY, multiple times per day, so it's totally worth the investment. I have never loved vacuuming so much!
I mean, I never thought I'd be recommending a vacuum things to people, but this vacuum seriously is one of my favorite things we own. If you want to try one, click here to view the Dyson site! They're also available on Amazon, if you'd rather shop there.
The malls and boutiques are closed, but that isn't stopping me from buying some fresh, new warmer-weather clothes and shoes! Hopefully society returns to normal at some point before fall, so I'll actually be able to wear this stuff outside of the house... ha!
Click the images below to shop my purchases for yourself!
Comfy (but chic) Pants
It isn't good for anyone to wear pajamas all day, but stiff jeans or pants can get uncomfortable quickly when you're just hanging out at home. I invested in some chic, comfortable pants like these from Loft to take me from Netflix binge to virtual meeting to dinner prep and everything in between.
Soft, Feminine Blouses
One thing I love about spring is that a lot of brands come out with a surplus of soft, feminine blouses. I ordered a few from Loft that are incredibly comfy, but still look so flattering on.
New (short) Boots
It's too warm for my tall Hunters, and these are on sale right now for a great price at Nordstrom! I can't wait until they come in the mail. :)
Given my obsession with hiking in the spring, I had to get some new hiking boots for when we go out towards the secluded mountains to hit the trail.
Summery maxi dress
How gorgeous is this red, one-shoulder Billabong x Sincerely Jules maxi dress? I had to have it. I think it'll be perfect to wear in July or August...
For those of you who don't know, I have a part time job at J.Crew. Stores are closed right now due to the pandemic, so I'm not working, but I miss it! So I ordered several different styles of JCREW basics, like tanks and tees, for myself, some lightweight sweaters for Juan, and kids' lounge clothes for Isaiah and Nehemiah.
I love a good Lilly dress, and I love elephants, so this purchase was a no brainer.
Also, if you buy your Lilly from Nordstrom, you get free shipping and returns (no minimum), AND they offer Affirm, so you can pay for your purchases overtime with no interest.
Jack Rogers Sandals
I mean, does anything say WARM WEATHER like a shiny new pair of Jacks? I've been wearing them around the house to break them in, so they'll be perfectly ready-for-the-wearing by the time quarantine comes to an end!
I also have a pair of the Jelly Georgica Jacks. These are amazing. They are SO affordable (less than $40!), SO comfy, and still so chic... a great alternative to flip flops!
We are on the third-fourth(ish) week of Coronavirus pandemic social distancing in the US, and so far, as a family, we've spent a lot of our free time out in nature during this shutdown by playing tennis, walking on trails, and hiking in the mountains. Sadly, as the virus has continued to spread, state and local officials in our area have made the tough decision to close parks and trails by building temporary fences around the trails and locking access points/entries.
So, ever on the quest to make the most of any situation, I've decide to supplement our "new normal" living room workouts and sidewalk walks around our building by plowing through my to-read list.
Did you know that reading a book for just SIX MINUTES per day can reduce stress levels by 68%?* So crazy! Reading a book has greater soothing benefits than going for a walk or having a tea even. In stressful times like these, we should all be reading SOMETHING.
Currently, I'm on a nonfiction kick. I'm taking this time of being at home to reflect, regroup, and better myself as much as I can. And reading is a big step in the direction of personal growth.
Even so, no one likes the feeling of starting a book and feeling like it's a chore to read, and nonfiction can often be particularly difficult to get into if it isn't interesting enough. To save you the trouble of testing out books that you just might not love, I'm sharing with you here some of my favorite nonfiction books that you can read while social distancing!
Five nonfiction books to read while social distancing