Friday, September 4, 2015

WaterWipes is Making its US Debut!

I participated in an Ambassador Activation on behalf of Influence Central for WaterWipes. I received product samples to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

We welcomed our third little one at the end of last year.  I can’t believe that it has almost been a year since we brought her home!  It seems like so much has changed in the past several years since Jack was a baby.  What has not changed is my desire to use natural products.

I am excited to let you know that I am now a WaterWipes Ambassador and will be bringing you some great information about this company and their awesome wipes over the next several months!

When I was pregnant with Emma, I essentially had a major freak out on all the chemicals that were used in everything from baby products to food.  There were not many options available for natural baby products.  I ended up making a lot of my own baby products, wipe solution included.  However, when you are out and about that isn’t very convenient.

I have wanted a baby wipe that I can use without fear of irritation (all three of my children have very sensitive skin), and WaterWipes offers that!  They are recognized by the National Eczema Association as being the only baby wipe with absolutely no chemicals, receiving a 4 out of 5 Seal of Acceptance Rating.

WaterWipes are chemical free.  Let me repeat that, WaterWipes are chemical free!

I think I can probably assume that I am not the only one that uses wipes for more than just diaper changes.  When we are out and about, I use them often to clean up my kids hands and faces, and I love that these wipes are durable – they don’t break apart.  The added benefit of them being chemical free makes me feel more confident about using the wipes.

Have you heard of WaterWipes before?  They are a premium European brand.  The wipes only contain two ingredients – 99.9% purified Irish water and 0.1% grapefruit seed extract.  That is something you can feel good about!

One interesting fact about WaterWipes that I had never thought about before, is that they are not interfolded.  This allows for a sterile environment within the package to be maintained.  This is why they recommend not moving the wipes to a different container.  Honestly, I had never even considered the spreading of germs in a wipes container, so it was definitely an eye-opening fact.

Honestly, I love these wipes.  I like how well they clean up the messes, I like how they are natural, and I like that they don’t irritate Lucy’s skin.  I am excited that they are making their debut in the US now.  If you would like to find out more, you can visit their website.

Connect with WaterWipes on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Do you incorporate natural products in your home?

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

knitting and reading

I haven't been knitting for the past few weeks!  I was already to start knitting because it had cooled off a bit.  I thought that during our vacation I would have plenty of opportunity to knit - and I did have plenty of opportunity, but had no desire because it was 95 degrees and we do not have air conditioning.  So, no knitting.

Then last week I thought I might do some knitting.  But I didn't, instead I was trying to get us back on track with school after having vacation.

It is still warm, but I knew that I needed to get back on my knitting game.  Of course, at this point, after taking a couple weeks off, I had no clue what to knit.  I looked at some new patterns, but nothing was sparking my interest.

I started looking at the yarn that I have, hoping something would spark my interest, and buried below a bunch of yarn was a half finished sock, and I decided that was what I was going to work with!

Knitting socks is fun for me, but I rarely get the second one finished - does anyone else have this problem?  It isn't that I don't like the pattern, or that I don't like knitting socks, it is that I get the first one done, start the second, and then I put it down to work on something else.  I will complete these socks though, they will be perfect for Emma for the fall!

As far as reading goes, I am kind of all over the place.  We are doing a lot of reading for school (and will be for the next 18 years I would imagine), I am also still slowly reading Pride and Prejudice to Lucy - I did this with Emma when she was a baby and also with Jack, strange I know.  

My newest book is called Dark Rising by Monica McGurk.  It is the second book in her Archangel Prophecies.  I had the opportunity to review the first book  Dark Hope last fall, and I really enjoyed it.  So I was really excited to start the second book.  I should have the full review up at the end of the week, but really really good!  I love young adult fiction, easy to read stories that are compelling - fun!

What are you knitting and reading this week?

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

September Theme - Apples

When I first started planning out this homeschool year, I thought themes would be a great way to give the kids a direction for monthly projects.  Monthly projects are something that I have wanted to do with the kids for a while now, but we have never been able to give it the attention that I wanted.  I always want to give freedom to the kids in what they are learning and working on, and helping littles narrow down a topic for a project isn’t quite as easy as one might imagine.
This year I decided to use monthly themes to help the kids along with their projects.
After the disaster of last months’ project theme (see yesterday’s post Project Fail!), I realized that I needed to have more structure to help the kids.  Letting them decide what they want to do for a project is a great idea in theory, but considering the age of my kids, and the fact that they haven’t worked on a project that is that large before, they need a little help.  
As much as I love the unschooling model, I feel like I don’t quite understand how to make it work.  Perhaps I need to give more than just tools…that is a topic to explore another day!
When I was thinking up topics for the monthly themes, the first one that I came up with was apples for September.  I don’t know why I thought apples would be such a great monthly theme, but I wrote it right in my Erin Condren Teacher Planner and was on my way.
Apples are definitely easier, in my traditional school mind, to use for a monthly project theme.  There are tons of resources available online.

It helps that we go apple picking every year for apples to preserve.
We will have the normal apple projects for our family:
Then I also plan to offer some other options with our projects.

I think that utilizing all of these different projects within our own larger project will be great for the kids.  I think the kids will love anything that has to do with paint or baking, and then to have the ability to write in their blank books what they have learned, or draw the observations they are making, will give them a really nice project at the end of the month.
The monthly theme project is not the center of our schooling for the month, but instead it will be something extra that the kids can work towards with some help from me.  My goal with the monthly themes is to have something fun for the kids to do, but also to give them some ownership of a project over the month.  I hope that as they get older, and we delve further into their schooling, these small monthly projects will give them the knowledge they need to take future, larger projects under their direction.  I honestly believe that projects give kids an amazing way to fully explore a topic from many different angles. 

Do your kids enjoy long range projects focused on one theme?  What would you add to my list of apple projects?

Monday, August 31, 2015

Project Fail!

When we started school at the beginning of August, I had the awesome idea to create themes for each month.  The first month was going to be an “all about me” theme.  I thought this would be perfect for getting back into the groove of a normal school day for us.

It didn’t work.

I completely underestimated getting back into a routine with the kids.  Although we school all year long, in the summer we definitely are much more relaxed with what we are doing.  To get back into the normal routine of all the subjects takes a little while.

I also underestimated the challenges that Lucy’s changing nap schedule would give us.

My entire idea of a monthly theme for August went completely out the window.

This weekend I sat down to evaluate how our school year has started off.  I think that it has been going really well.  We have been easing into it, definitely, which is part of the reason I school all year.  That means that we can take our time getting into new subjects, and taking time when we need to in order to regroup.

Our first month has been going really well.  The kids have been working diligently for the most part.  I realize that it is going to take me a little bit longer to get school done during the day than I originally thought, not because the kids are not concentrating, but because I have two kids in two different grade levels and one little baby who has decided this month to not go down for her normal 9:30 am nap.

With regards to our themes, I definitely put that on the back burner this month.  When we started, and I realized how much I had planned to do each day, I realized something needed to go.  Projects were it.

However, now that we are more or less into our school groove, I plan to put them back on the schedule. 

September’s theme is going to be Apples. 

Part of what I love about homeschooling is the ability to change course when I need to.  If we don’t like a book, I can put it down and look for something new, if a writing program isn’t working, I can change it.  If I have too much in our day, I can cut some of it, or rearrange for it to fit better.

I am not completely giving up on the monthly themes, but if there is a month that seems overflowing, or something else has come up, I am not afraid to put it on the back burner.

Some other homeschool fails I have had this past month:

  • Not taking first day of school pictures – we will be doing that today!
  • Letting the kids take their school markers up to their rooms, never to be seen again.
  • Not having a consistent start time for school – I blame that on the baby who has completely changed her nap schedule every week for the past month.
  • Not involving the kids in chores because I just want to get them done as quickly as possible.

This has been my last month.  It hasn’t been bad, not by any means, but it hasn’t gone exactly as I had laid it out in my mind.

I’m here to let you know that that is OK!  If something isn’t working, all you need to do is change course.  This isn’t only for homeschoolers, this is for anybody, and can work for any situation.

If what you are doing, or what you have planned, is not working, all you need to do is change course.  Make one small change, make one large change, but do not keep going with the plan simply because it is the plan.

While my first month of homeschooling has been a little different than what I had expected, it has still been amazing.  I have seen Emma excel at her reading and become more confident in her math facts.  I have seen Jack fly through his first readers, constantly trying to catch up to what his big sister is doing.  I have seen the excitement when I put on the timer and challenge them to do as many math facts in 10 minutes as they can.  I have enjoyed Jack turning to Yoga when he is having a hard time, to help him sit and concentrate and relieve some stress.  And one great thing that I have seen is Jack and Emma taking turns with their old flashcards and trying to “teach” Lucy different shapes and colors while she tries to eat the flash cards.

Overall, it has been an amazing, challenging, inspiring, first month of homeschooling!  I can’t wait to see what this month brings!

What do you do when your plan is not working?  Do you resist or try to change course?

Friday, August 28, 2015

End of Summer?!

Can we talk for a minute about how it is almost September?  How the heck did that happen?!  I was reminded of it this morning when I grabbed for a sweatshirt after I got out of bed.  A little chilly! 

With the end of summer comes all of the excitement that fall brings, apple picking, football games, soups and more crock pot meals, sweaters; all things that I am extremely fond of.  

At the beginning of every new season I am convinced it is my favorite, but the beginning of fall, I think, might win over all the others.  

Warm days, cool nights, no humidity, and little rain - yes, perfect!

Seasonal living is something that has become incredibly important to me.  I think I always knew the importance of the seasons, but it is definitely coming to the forefront of my mind now, with my children growing so fast. 

I am learning to savor each season, and the different activities that come with each part of the year. 

I feel like our activities are so tied to the seasons, and there are specific things we do in each month.  It reminds me that I have an amazing book by Amanda Soule, The Rhythm of Family.  I am going to have to dig that book out and read it again.

One thing that I love about the late summer and early fall is the abundance of fresh vegetables.  There are so many available - tomatoes, peppers, onions, three of my favorites and a staple in my home weekly.

I love to chop up these veggies with just a little sea salt, olive oil and a splash of raw vinegar - delicious!

I’m also eating a lot of tomatoes and summer squash with garlic.  I honestly can’t get enough of the fresh summer vegetables, and I know they are so short lived, it doesn’t seem fair!

Usually this coming weekend would mark a time of canning tomatoes, but I will let you know, I did not buy my 100 pounds of tomatoes for canning (plus what I typically pick from my garden – since the garden is non-existent this year).  It seems a little strange to not be preparing for a big weekend of tomato canning, but I am slowly coming to grips with this year being different than years past.

Having three little ones, two homeschoolers and one under one year old, I have adjusted my expectations of the year in preserving.  I’m looking forward to a garden next year, but this year we will continue to let everything lay fallow, and start new next year.

Are you looking forward to fall?  Which is your favorite season?

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Crazy Family Antics and Free mini e-course!

Am I the only one that has a crazy family?  I'm hoping the answer is no!

Scroll all the way to the bottom for video!

We recently took a trip to Target - I seem to visit there quite frequently.  I decided to vlog our little car ride, and it showed the complete randomness that is our family.  But, as Matt and I were watching the video, we realized how blessed we are to have such a fun little family.  We are able to laugh at ourselves, which is important.

There is so much stress out in the world now.  Between the economy, the stress of different regions in our country and world, it seems like people are always butting heads but not making any good progress in the right direction.

All that stress is not good for us at all.  It shortens our life expectancy, and honestly, it isn't fun.

Stress and anxiety.  Two words that I know intimately.

What do you do if you are stressed or worried?  You need to focus on self-care.

Self-care is something that I started taking more seriously last year, and especially at the beginning of this year.  Taking a minute to realize who I am, what it is that fuels my energy, knowing myself better; those are all ways that I can manage the stress of the world.

I realized that if I wasn't taking care of myself, I wasn't taking care of my family.  I want my little family to be healthy and happy.  Not completely stress free, because that is impossible, but I want us to live the best version of our lives that we can.

I'm happy to report that there is a free mini e-course that can help you and me!  It is called:

Stephanie Langford put together this short little audio e-course to help give families steps and strategies to incorporate these four healthy habits in their everyday lives.

She was able to find four of the top healthy living bloggers out there to interview, and share what they know, to help you!

I hope you will check out this short e-course, I know that it has helped me and the decisions that I make for my family immensely.

This short e-course is actually a precursor to the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle which is coming soon!  Don't forget to sign up to be notified when it goes on sale.

And without further ado, here is my crazy family living it up on our way to Target!

How do you deal with stress?  Is your family as crazy as mine is?  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Top 5 Apps for Outdoor Adventures! #BetterMoments

I am a member of the US Cellular #BetterMoments Blogger Brigade.  I was compensated for this post, but truly love the service that they provide.  All opinions are my own!

Don't forget to download the US Cellular Parent Child Agreement to help facilitate your conversations revolving around safe phone usage!

The humidity of the summer is finally giving us a bit of a break in Maine.  When the humidity level dies down my family and I love to get outdoors.  Don’t get me wrong, we are outside when it is hot hot hot, but more at the pool then rather than hiking.

I got my new iPhone 6 a couple weeks ago.  I love it.  Can I say that?  I am kind of a geek when it comes to new technology (I blame this on my brother), and so having the new iPhone is a huge treat for me.

My family loves to get outside for hikes and bike rides, and having my phone helps me to feel so much more comfortable with the planning stages of being out where there isn’t much technology.   Features like the flashlight and compass are huge helps when out hiking (or if I am trying to sneak through my bedroom without waking the baby!).

I always try to be as prepared as I can be when we go anywhere.  I have my first aid kit, lots of water and snacks, rain jackets and umbrellas, change of clothes; but when we are in the woods, sometimes we need a little extra help.  That is where my phone comes in handy.  I don’t have to carry as much stuff because a lot of it can stay right on my phone, easily accessible.

Top 5 Apps for Outdoor Adventures

1.)    Army Survival Guide:  Nothing beats good planning, however, there is so much information out there, to have it right at your fingertips is amazing.  The Army Survival Guide works both on and offline, and offers information on survival planning, shelters, water and food procurement, starting a fire and much more. 

2.)    GaiaGPS:  Let’s be honest here, we all use GPS to get directions these days!  Gaia GPS is a free app that offers the full functionality of a back country GPS unit.  You can record tracks and way points and search for nearby waypoints and then read reports about the different places.

3.)    AllTrailsThis app is awesome!  You are able to browse through guides for 50,000 trails across North America!  It provides photos and reviews for all kinds of different activities from biking to fly fishing.  You can also track all of your adventures and share them with friends.

4.)    National Parks Field Guide:  This is an interactive field guide for the wildlife and plants in 100 US National Parks.  It also lists all the important sites, hours, prices, etc. of the different parks. 

5.)    UnitedStates Coast GuardThis free app provides state boating information.  It also includes a safety equipment checklist, navigation rules and float plans.  It also offers tools to call for help if you need it.

Having these apps available on a reliable network is important.  US Cellular’s 4G LTE network keeps you covered nationwide.

What is your favorite way to enjoy the outdoors?