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Frugal Decorating – Porch Makeover

As many of you know, we are in the process of remodeling our home and getting it ready to put on the market. Ironically part of the remodeling process is also decorating to create that “curb appeal”. Unfortunately, our budget will not allow much allocated to that expense, so we are learning how to decorate on a dime. I will be writing some articles to show you some of the frugal decorating ideas we are trying. I hope they inspire you try some too!

frugal decorating 3



Last year we started fixing up and painting our house. It has been a huge endeavor, but we really didn’t have much of a choice when the lowest quote was $10,000! So, we have all been learning some serious life skills with that project. Here you can see how much we have had to do…


House prep

Here is the next stage of the porch. It is not complete, but we are making a lot of progress!


We are really glad we went back to the gray. The green was just too darn hot on your feet and it showed every little nick in the paint (Not that those were little nicks, of course ūüėČ )


Last year we were gifted with a couple of old wood chairs at a yard sale. They were pretty rough looking. But structurally they seemed fine. So we took them and put them in the barn.

wood chair watermarked

This year, as I was starting to update the porch and paint the swing and tables, I remembered the chairs in the barn and decided to try my hand at spray painting and “antiquing” them.

I used Rust-oleum American Accent¬†Satin finish¬†spray paint. I have heard how easy it is to do … so I really wanted to try it! It took two cans of paint to coat the chair pretty well (about $20). Here is the painted chair.

painted chair watermarked

After that, I took some fine grit sandpaper to it and spent just about 10 minutes roughing up the areas that made sense to me. The places where you would hold it, sit on it, put your feet on it, bump it, etc.

antiqued chair 2 watermarked

Then throw in a pillow I got from Wal-Mart on clearance and you have the final look.  Our house is white with green shutters and roof. We have a white PVC fence along the front of the house. So it just feels like it needs some color.

antiqued chair watermarked

I still have one more chair to do and a table to go in the middle. But I think it turned out pretty good for my first attempt! ¬†Speaking of adding color, I’m contemplating painting the table the light coral color at the top left hand on the pillow. What do you think? ¬†Do you like the direction I’m headed in?

I want to get one more thing after I get the table painted for this area of the front porch … it is an antique window to hang on the wall. I’m excited to be moving forward but not spending a fortune doing it!

Anybody have an antique window I can buy cheap? ūüėČ

More frugal decorating ideas to come!




March Menu Plan for Busy Homeschool Moms

Over in our Hip Homeschool Moms Community, I read the posts by the moms struggling to have time to get everything done. I can’t buy you more time, but I can help you organize your menus. I have found that if I’ll just commit it to paper, I will cook it! I don’t know why, but the guessing and questioning “What’s for dinner?” is harder than doing the menu plan! I’m sure there is some great psychological reason behind it… I just know it works, so I do it. ¬†So here is my March Menu Plan.

march menu plan d



Also, menu planning saves money. Many know about our struggles to keep our home and for me to able to continue to homeschool, so saving money is a big deal around here. One of my secrets is my hubby hunts. We use 2 lbs of meat in our ground beef recipes… but one of those pounds is ground venison. That saves us a little right there. Also, we live in the country, so we tend to buy in bulk instead of shopping the sales.

Many moms in the group just want ideas of what to cook. So I thought I would create a monthly menu plan with a Pinterest board to match, so you can find them easily and pin them yourself. ¬†And yes, I know March is 1/3 over, but hey, you gotta’ start somewhere, right? Anyway, I hope this helps you and gives you some motivation to get it done!!

If you don’t have a crock pot, you need to get one. That is one of my secrets for saving time. I can put dinner on in the morning while we are still getting ready to start school and it is ready when we are finished. My favorite crock pot cook book is Fix it and Forget it. We have cooked dozens of their recipes and they are all good.

I just keep my menu plan on my normal calendar. This is one I got back in December with one of those fabulous lightning deals I’m getting known for …. It is a Lily Pulitzer calendar! I just love it.


March 1. Homemade Potato Soup. I modified this one heavily, but I’ll share the base recipe and you can adjust to fit your particular likes.

March 2. Leftover Potato Soup.

March 3. Broccoli & Chicken Stir Fry. We love this recipe. It is quick and easy. A win / win!

March 4. Creole Mustard and Garlic Crusted Roast Beef. This was our Purim meal. We are Messianic and celebrate feasts as Israel does… so this was a feast for us!

March 5. Crock Pot¬†Salsa Chicken. This is from my favorite foodie… Conni over at Cosmopolitan Cornbread. She is our Foodie at Hip Homeschool Moms!

March 6. Nachos Grande.  Remember this is one we would split with Venison. My kids love it. I also use Lime Salsa instead of plain salsa.

March 7. Eat out. Yes, that is on the menu sometimes too ūüôā

March 8. Chicken Tortilla Soup.  I sometimes use canned chicken (yep, I said it). And thanks to a visit from my partner in crime over at Hip Homeschool Moms, Leann, I now add about three cups of rice to this recipe. Sooo good.

March 9. Heinz Red Magic Meat Loaf. I actually snagged this recipe off a Heinz ketchup bottle 20 years ago and am still using the same recipe ūüôā I cook mine in two meat loaf pans instead of one. My boys like it less moist.

March 10. White Chicken Chili. This recipe is so easy. I use dried navy beans and cook them in the crock pot on high for 6 hours with two chicken bouillon cubes. Then I move it all to my soup pot. We use a lot of cumin and chili powder. More than the recipe calls for. I make this with my Quick Corn Bread recipe.

March 11. Sweet and Spicy Citrus Tilapia.¬†Finding a recipe that all my boys like in the fish category is challenging (unless it is fresh flounder at the beach). But this one is always popular. ¬†Note. I cut the red pepper in half. They rated it an 11 out of 10 ūüôā

March 12. Crock Pot Meat Balls. I don’t use frozen meatballs… I make them. But this is the recipe I use.

March 13. Grilled Chicken Quesadillas. This is one of our absolute favorite recipes! We love cumin and cilantro!

March 14. Leftovers.Disclosure

March 15. Salisbury Steak with Caramelized Onion Gravy. This is my middle son’s favorite recipe. He asks us to cook this almost every week. It is a long, cumbersome recipe. But it is worth the effort (once a month ūüôā ) We double it so Gage can have left overs.

March 16. Chicken Spaghetti or Chickenetti. We don’t do black olives so I don’t use those, and I cook it in the oven for a bit longer (we like the cheese to be melted).

March 17. Saucy Pepper Steak. To save a little money on this one, I use green bell peppers instead of the other colors. They are much more expensive.

March 18. Grilled Chicken Light Alfredo Sauce. For the Grilled chicken, I just use butter and light garlic salt on chicken breasts. Either bake, fry or grill them. For the pasta, I use Bow Tie Pasta (my boys love it).

March 19 – 21st I’m out-of-town… so the family is fending for themselves. ūüôā I imagine there will be lots of boxed lasagna, homemade pizza and maybe some ramen noodles for lunch! Actually all of my boys can cook, they may eat this… but they are capable of cooking more if they want it.

March 22. Crock pot Turkey. We tend to use our crock pot a lot. I usually thaw my turkey… for this one. ¬†Another very easy meal.

March 23. Crock Pot¬†Stuffed Bell Peppers. We have several different recipes we use for stuffed bell peppers… just to keep them from getting boring.

March 24. Garlic Brown Sugar Backed Chicken. This is one of my hubby’s favorite recipes and it is one of the easiest you will ever cook. I usually cook garlic, lemon pepper chicken for the boys because they are not huge fans of this recipe.

March 25. Chicken Fried Rice. This one I’ll just have to get the recipe for you. I have modified the Beni Hana’s recipe so much… but here is a different recipe until I get mine posted.

March 26. Taco Pizza. We haven’t made Taco pizzas in a while. Will pull this recipe off the shelf and try it again.

March 27.  Honey Sesame Chicken. I guess you see we have a thing for Mexican and Asian dishes!

March 28. Leftovers.

March 29. Beef Burritos.¬†This website was down when I went to pin this… if it is not back up soon, I’ll post the recipe on my site with credits to them. It is the best burritos recipe ever. Another 10 out of 10 from my family on this one!

March 30.¬†We always attempt to try something new each month. Here is this month’s new recipe. Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken. If you make it before I do, let me know what you think.

March 31. Beef kabob. This is actually one we love to fix. It is from Eating our Way around the world Geography study.

So, did I inspire you? I sure hope so! I’ll get my April Menu plan up sometime in late March.

What are some of your favorite recipes that I should be testing?  

One Word

Well, it’s been a while since I’ve had time to spend a few minutes writing. With homeschooling and¬†renovating¬†our home, the general upkeep and maintenance of a family of five with chickens, horses, dogs, cats… Not to even mention managing the social media for the rapidly growing Hip Homeschool Moms Facebook Page, moderating the new Community¬†with almost 10,000 homeschool moms and managing the Montessori Materials Group … I stay more than just pretty busy. You might even say life has been C.R.A.Z.Y. the last half of 2014. However, it is time to get back into a routine with sharing about our¬†homeschool and life. After all, that is why I started this website to begin with! To share how we do what we do, to meet like-minded moms and to hopefully inspire others. And speaking of inspiring…

This time of year I see lots of writers posting their resolutions for the new year. I’m not big on resolutions… at all. But one concept I stumbled upon really inspired me.¬†Ironically, the article I read ¬†and shared about¬†was on our Hip Homeschool Moms’ website.¬†The concept is this…. Choose one word you would use to prophesy what you want your year to be. One Word. I have really thought about, prayed and pondered this a lot for the last several weeks. At first glance, it seemed it was going to be pretty hard to narrow them down to one word. … with all the possibilities …all the words that inspire me. I had to pick¬†Just One Word.

One Word


I started thinking about the priorities I have … those things I don’t want to fail at. Those things that I consider so important they are part of my very identity. Those are the things that need my attention this year.

My Faith.

My Family.

Our Homeschool.

So when choosing THE word, it had to help me sharpen my focus on those three things and inspire me to do better in each and every category.

My Faith.

In order to know Our Father’s will, we have to study His manual…. The Scriptures. We are a Messianic family, so we believe both Testaments are relevant and apply to us. We are believers in Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) and believe He is our model for how we are to live our lives. We don’t compare our walk to the world… we compare our walk to His example. And I fail. A lot.¬†But 2014 brought lots of reconciliation and forgiveness to our family… Areas that I had really been praying about. Unforgiveness is ugly and can tear a marriage apart. I had to forgive. In order to do that I had to see my husband as a child of God and the father to my children and not as my husband… at least not until I could forgive him. And I prayed for that very thing. I prayed over our marriage and over our family. Daily. And God has answered my prayers. So I literally can’t wait to see what He has in store for us this year!

My Family.

As a family we have been through a pretty rough couple of years. When I decided to homeschool, I chose to downsize our business so I could step away … little did I know how downsized it would be! So saying finances have been tight would be an understatement. A year ago we almost lost our home. We are still working to get out of this mess, but we are making great strides towards stability in our finances and ridding ourselves of this¬†debt. In doing that, some things necessarily have to change because of these decisions. One very important thing is downsizing our lifestyle. Getting our home ready to sale has been a high priority for our family. And it has been the entire family! Renovating our home has taught us so much… not just how to scrap and repair and paint… but how to work together, how to overcome obstacles, how to persevere through hard times and how to continue to see joy in life and our everyday circumstances. To show and express our love with something other than things. It has been a year of Living. Loving. and Laughter… even through these difficult trials. For that I am truly thankful!

Our Homeschool.

Needless to say our homeschool has suffered. Not as much as I thought it would… especially academically. More in routine and discipline. In my record keeping. In their record keeping. Our curriculum is fantastic. And unlike previous years, we are not even switching out curriculum at the beginning of the year. My boys have continued homeschooling through these trials. Through our constant stopping and starting. We’ve spent a lot of time sky watching and thermometer gazing …. seeing if it was an outside work day or an inside work day. Yet they have kept working. Maybe not as much as we had planned…. but they were working. But for 2015 we really have to buckle down and work the homeschool plan that we laid out some time ago.

As you see, all three priorities are all related and intertwined. Like a three stranded cord, so tightly woven together they are no longer distinguishable as individual cords. Inseparable. Dependent on each other for success. When I finally sat down and invested the time¬†to focus on choosing THE ¬†word and how it would reflect my priorities, it was not that hard to choose. Before I tell you my word, let me tell you its various definitions….

  • to support, confirm, be faithful, uphold, nourish
  • to be founded, firm, established, faithful, trustworthy, sure
  • to stand firm, to trust, to be certain, to believe in

So what is my one word that embodies all the things I want for me, my faith, my family and our homeschool this year?


Steadfast in my faith, in trusting Abba to provide everything I need to do all that is in His Will. Steadfast in the knowledge that as long as I am living His Will and doing His work, that my labor will be fruitful. If I remain steadfast with my eyes firmly fixed on Him, then my priorities will always be straight and all the things we strive to do in His name will be blessed. Yes, One word, steadfast, perfectly describes what I desire for my year. For my life.


mountain steadfast


What one word would you choose to define your year?  Your Life? Please share them in the comments!! I am looking forward to reading your One Word.

Until next time… ¬†James 1:22-24… be a blessing!



Modeling Life-Long Learning

If you recall, we are in the midst of getting our house ready to sell… we are downsizing in a big way!! Part of the downsizing includes clearing out the curriculum that my children have used and passed by. I have been listing all my curriculum for sale and have been so blessed to have sold a ton. I still have loads more to go, so keep watching that post, I’m adding to it all the time! We have so much we are getting done in preparation for putting the house on the market:

  • We have a new liner going into our pool. ¬†
  • A new slide for our pool coming.
  • I am painting the mortar of our brick floor in the kitchen (I’m writing a post on that too, I’ll link it when I complete the post).¬†
  • And, getting our house painted by an outside contractor. Well, at least I thought we were!

Apparently this is another one of those projects that we are supposed to do ourselves because we literally can’t hire a painting contractor to do it. ¬†So, here we go again… I’m beginning to wonder if I jinxed us when I named the farm “Live and Learn”! We seem to be doing a whole lot of that lately! No, not really… but we are certainly modeling life-long learning for sure!

modeling life long learning

I am just going to add this to our ever-growing real life homeschool activities. You see, we have had a plan in place for a long time to expose the boys to as many experiences (work-wise and leisure activities) as possible while they are here with us. This might even be a blessing. Chase has really been struggling to identify a business he wants to throw himself into for the next few years. And since apparently there is a great need for exterior painters in our area, this just might be the beginning of a paint contracting business for them through high school! Hey, you never know!!

In preparation for this huge task, I have been doing some research. I found a great article¬†on This Old House by a professional painter who gave us lots of suggestions. The pro mentioned that half of a great paint job is the prep work. You need to get the surface ready to paint by scraping, sanding, filling, sealing, and priming first. Then, and only then, do you paint. ¬†Today, we began this new life-lesson on prepping our house for painting. We got about half the front porch completed and still have a lot more to do! ¬†This project may take us a while, but I’ll post updates to let you know how it is going!¬†Here are a few pictures of what we got done today…

House prep

Whew… the house is going to look UGLY for a few weeks at this rate! I guess that will be part of my motivation to get it done!! I’m not going to say this project doesn’t intimidate, because it does. But, not because of the scope (although that is enough to intimidate most painters apparently) but because we have so much going on already! It already feels like we are furiously treading water. So prayers will be greatly appreciated for us to stay on track and not let this project stagnate like we have a tendency to do when we are overwhelmed.

And finally, the last aspect that is uncomfortable right now is the fact that we will have to spend some money on tools to do this project. So far we have purchased:


But that is nothing … to do a project this size, there are two major purchases we have identified that we will need to get:

  • The first is a pressure washer. We are always borrowing a dear friend’s washer. It is here more than it is at his house. We have PVC fences that are constantly needing to be washed, brick walkways and patios to hose down, driveways and a portico that needs to be washed and not to mention the house itself. So, this one will get used and often! ¬†Today we purchased a Generac 6590¬†from Amazon. We really wanted to buy it locally, but if we ordered it from Home Depot it would not be here until after July 4th… and that is going to be a weekend of working o this house painting project! So, we ordered it from Amazon, even though it has an awful review there… the reviews on Home Depot, are fantastic, so that is the reason we still bought it!! And speaking of faster shipping… Have I mentioned how much I love having Amazon Prime? Honestly, between borrowing Kindle books for homeschooling and my need for speed with the deliveries, I more than recuperate the $79 it costs for a year!! ¬†Try Amazon Prime for free¬†on me¬†!!
  • And the second big purchase is a paint sprayer. ¬†This one we will be buying at Home Depot, because it is much cheaper than Amazon (which is unusual)! ¬†This will be a lifesaver on this size house… but we also have a ton of other paint projects on the horizon. ¬†We are planning to paint cabinets, shutters, plantation blinds, and outdoor furniture… so this will certainly get used as well! ¬†

I really hate to spend that money right now when we really can’t afford it… but I think these will be wise investments and we will come out way ahead in the end. And, once we downsize, if we don’t have a need for these tools, we can always sell them!!

So, say a prayer for us. This is a huge project that we were not planning to tackle. We trust that God has a plan for us through this, so we are jumping in head first and getting it knocked out. ¬†I’ll post an update on our progress soon!

Until then… be a blessing to someone!



The New Chapter – Day 1 with Free Printable

Well, today was the beginning of The New Chapter – Day 1 of T-Tapp. ¬†If you haven’t read about this new direction in my life, you can find it here. And I did read the directions first and even watched the introduction of the video! ¬†So, today was the first day of measurements. I created a Tracking My Success¬†word document to track my measurements and be able to see the changes. I added one column that was not on the T-Tapp chart, dress size. Because that will be a huge motivation to me when I start seeing my sizes drop. But one number that you will notice is conspicuously absent is the weight. That is because Teresa doesn’t want us focused on our weight… so it’s not on the list to track and measure. What a relief that is!

The New Chapter Day 1

After getting all my measurements recorded, I pulled out the DVD to watch it. The pamphlet had emphasized how doing the exercises correctly is important, so I watched the Instructional 1 DVD. If you are interested in purchasing it, here is the link to the store. So my question is, can you still call it “starting” when you are not able to keep up with the instructional video? LOL! Well, I got news for ya’, I am totally claiming it as a win! ūüôā


I love that real women who come in different sizes and shapes are in the T-Tapp video. Even different skill levels and ages! I don’t know about you, but watching pencil thin women work out is NOT motivating to me! So having real women, real T-Tapp women doing these exercises was encouraging. Teresa spent time talking about their different body types and how our core body type will impact realistic expectations. That is fantastic! ¬†My best friend growing up with me had big bones and was just a bigger girl than I was … we were given the nicknames string bean and butter bean (not nice, I know)… but those sure give a perfect visual image of the differences in our body shapes, even when we are teenagers! ¬†So the fact that Teresa spent a few minutes discussing this and encouraging us to set realistic goals was refreshing!


Back to the DVD, the exercises are not hard… I just don’t know how to do them yet. Teresa said some people do this same piece of the instructional video for weeks because it is so important to do the exercises right. ¬†I very well may be one of them. I used to love to dance, but something about choreographed exercise always gets me stumped. I think it is because they are looking at me and I can’t see it from my perspective that always throws me off. But I’ll get it, eventually!

Our family keeps the Biblical Sabbath, so I won’t be attempting exercise on Saturday morning… but I’ll be back at it on Sunday. ¬†Hopefully, I’ll be able to follow along better now that I’ve seen them once!

Are you planning to join me in this quest to get healthy?  Let me know!

Until next time….


A New Chapter – Weight Loss and Lifestyle Changes

I quit smoking almost two years ago and I hit 49 this year. So, not only did I gain some weight from quitting smoking, but I now have a lower metabolism to boot! ¬†I refuse to hit Fifty with too much extra weight because it just keeps getting harder to lose. So, I am opening a new chapter in my life! At a time when I have zero extra money to spend… I spent it. I’m choosing to look at the cost as an early 50th birthday present to me! I’ve been looking at the T-Tapp System for a year or so. In that year, I didn’t lose any of that extra weight, just kept finding friends for it! ¬†I am one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms and one of our new team members lost 100+ lbs with T-Tapp at about this exact same time in her life. Look at Charlotte’s picture on this page and see if that doesn’t get you motivated!

ttapp live and learn farm 2

So, join with me on this journey! We will motivate each other and encourage each other! I’ll be starting with taking “before” pictures. Don’t think I’m going to share them (yet). ¬†Got to get to those “after” pictures to do that… ¬†Just keeping it real ūüôā


Besides just exercising, I’ll also be starting a new healthier lifestyle. When I lived at the beach, it was so much easier for me. I walked miles on the beach each day! Here, I live on a major highway on a farm. I don’t even have a neighborhood to walk in, much less a beach. So, it’s harder. But it is not impossible and and we are pushing aside all excuses, right? So, I will have to either do my walking / running / biking right here on my property (not happening) or we will be driving to the next town over to do it. And that is fine, for the time being. The boys all got new bikes a couple of years ago, so we will be sure their tires are all aired up and I’ll borrow hubby’s bike and we’ll be off! Remember we are also downsizing our life so I don’t anticipate being in this house too long!

bike together

No, his bike is not pink! ¬†But I couldn’t resist this image and I did find a sweet pink bike that would be just right for me! Maybe if he sees that I am making a lifestyle change and I’m sticking to it, he’ll get inspired to get me my own bike so that he can join in on our rides on his bike!

Another way I will be changing our lifestyle is to investigate ways to eat more healthy. ¬†One thing I keep hearing about is a low carb diet. ¬†So, I’ll be investigating recipes to incorporate and try. ¬†Here is one I found today… it is a Free kindle right now (but be sure to check to see if it is still free when you download it). And another one that is low fat and metabolism boosting for free!!

So, what helps you continue to stay motivated when you start a new chapter in your life? For me, it’s sharing it with the world and being help accountable by others. But that is not enough! ¬†So, I’m looking for ideas and ways to not only stay encouraged myself but to help others stay on track.

So are you in?  Will you be part of this new chapter in my life?  I hope you will!  Leave a comment below and let me know!  If you are blogging, be sure to leave your blog information too!

Until next time….



Rat Race Rebellion – Just 18 Summers

I¬†worked in corporate America. I personally saw or was involved in lay-offs, corporate mergers, and hostile takeovers! And….. I have worked for myself for twenty years since then.¬†From a quality of life perspective, I would not wish corporate America on my worst¬†enemy, much less my own children. You might say, I am in full Rat Race Rebellion.¬†

rat race rebellion 2

Let’s define what is “the rat race”. ¬†The wikipedia definition goes something like this: ¬†

‚ÄúA¬†rat race¬†is an endless, self-defeating, or pointless pursuit. It conjures up the image of the futile efforts of a lab rat trying to escape while running around a maze or in a wheel. In an analogy to the modern city, many rats in a single maze expend a lot of effort running around, but ultimately¬†achieve nothing (meaningful) either collectively or individually.‚ÄĚ

Now, honestly, that definition is a bit too sensational.¬†For me, the rat race is completely and totally consuming… mind-wise, time-wise and focus-wise. In this model, we tend to focus on climbing the ladder and using the title / money equation as our measuring stick for success. We work long hours and look for the financial reward. And, if that is what success means to you and you are in corporate America, then you are in the right place. But it is a trap,¬†one that is very seductive and alluring.¬†We have become obsessed with material things, stuff, wealth and keeping up with the Joneses. America no longer makes anything, we have become a consumer economy… and what’s worse, it is funded by us going into debt! We have been programmed to want more and more stuff, Bigger is better… Live The American Dream! That dream is a nightmare for families. Our children don’t want more stuff… the stuff is a temporary fix to fill a hole that we are leaving. That is the irony. That lifestyle we are chasing to give our family bigger houses, nicer cars, more vacations is tearing apart the very fabric of our families, our communities, our nation. There is a word for this “American Dream” and we just coincidentally learned it this week while reading Henty’s The Young Carthaginian … cupidity.¬†

cupidity: eager or excessive desire, especially to possess something; greed.

cupidity 3

How much is enough?

What do you need to be happy? Our family keeps the Biblical feasts and each year for Sukkot (Feast of Booths), we camp out. Throughout this feast we discuss the ancient Israelites’ Exodus out of Egypt. We ask the boys if they were in a similar exodus could they take all their favorite things with them on their backs? No? How about in a wagon? Or an SUV? How about an 18 wheeler, would that fit it all? And we quickly realize how much stuff we have. ¬†But is the stuff a luxury or just extra baggage? How much do we need to be happy? How much is enough?¬†

What are we teaching our children by what we do?

If we tell our children that stuff is not important, yet we live in a cluttered house, full of stuff that we just can’t part with… are we sending a mixed message to our children? Do we just have to have the coolest, newest, latest techno-gadget? Do we need monster screen TVs so we can spend more time watching sports than being with our family? Our children are watching us and they learn from what we do, not what we say! Did you open the Bible this week? Once? Did your children see you praying? ¬†

What is the alternative to the Rat Race?

We have been introducing entrepreneurship into our homeschool for years now. The conversation has not been about money though. Rather we discuss the need to find what they love to do and create a business around it. How we hope to accomplish that is we introduce them to lots of experiences… things they might enjoy actually doing to earn a living. Their current list of opportunities they are exploring includes: photography, web design, photoshop, illustrator, homesteading, writing and blogging, farming, raising farm animals, refinishing furniture, and an online business. They have identified some things they don’t want to do for absolute sure, which is valuable insight too!

Do you want time to ponder? To create?

The one fact we constantly return to when discussing with our children their future lifestyles, relationships and careers is that THINGS can be traps. THINGS have to be maintained. Dusted. Cleaned. Protected. Insured. And there is a price you pay for each of those aspects. I wrote about this topic in another article, The Real Price of Stuff.  We have all become so accustomed to living the lifestyle of a rat chasing cheese that we have lost our ability to discern boundaries. Balance. We have lost our focus on people and relationships. We have forgotten the freedom of not being bound (enslaved) by debt.  

I know it is quite intoxicating to climb that ladder and use it as our measuring stick of success (especially when you are moving up). I owned a VERY successful and lucrative recruiting firm for technology employees. My clients included Disney, Hilton, International Paper, Williams Sonoma, Wal-Mart Corporate, Tyson Foods, just to name a few. I Get It. I lived it. However, I chose to homeschool and that choice had consequences. We are now in the process of dramatically downsizing our life (house, cars, clothes, farm, everything) to focus on our family, and our quality of life instead of chasing the money. And since our children are watching intently how we walk out this phase of our life, I pray we are sending a powerful message to them about where family, relationships, and friends rank in our life. One that they can learn from us without having to experience the same mistakes first-hand. 

downsizing upbeat

During this process I had to really explore what my own priorities were and discuss my decision with my husband. Did I want to return to the “drop my kids off corporate mom” or did I want to be a homeschool mom? I decided life is short and I want to spend all day, everyday with my children while they are still home. To limit the¬†outside influences like peer pressure and the entertainment industry.¬†To help them learn about the world and understand it through our system of values. That takes time. So, you see my rat race rebellion is really about prioritizing my time and choosing where I spend it. And in the process, teaching my children by my own actions. ¬†

One final thought… I am NOT encouraging our children to not work for Corporate America… but I AM suggesting they investigate all their options. And, if they choose to go into Corporate America, they will have my blessing, because they will have their eyes wide open and hopefully will have their priorities firmly intact. ¬†

Until Next Time…¬†




I’m linking up with a few other blogs… New Life on a Homestead; A Mama’s Story;¬†


Just 18 Summers: A Homeschool Mom Reflects on the Time Investment

I just returned from a fantastic conference, it was a conference for Christian Bloggers who also homeschool. I did not get what I was expecting from a blogging conference… NOT at all! ¬†This article,¬†Just 18 Summers: A Homeschool Mom Reflects on the Time Investment, is a direct result of this conference… but it is much more than just an article!

HHM Team 2to1Conf

I had not been feeling well … in the battle to tame my hedges, apparently my boxwoods won because I pulled my back. I had just missed the Great Homeschool Convention in Cincinnati. The Cincinnati convention was one that, as one of the owners of Hip Homeschool Moms (HHM), was an opportunity to meet many of our clients and spend time with many of our followers. And I missed THAT one. So not going to a blogging conference would not be a big deal… but it was. It was a very. big. deal. Ten members of the Hip Homeschool Moms’ team were going to be there. I could not miss that opportunity to meet them. And I promise, they did not disappoint! What fantastic, fun-loving, God-filled, and beautiful women they are. I am honored to be on a team with them!

I met so many fantastic women there. Women that I have been rubbing elbows with, bumping into, and seeing around the blogosphere. A few I had just met at Teach Them Diligently in Nashville. That was nice to see some familiar faces that actually knew me as well ūüôā You see, in the blogosphere, it is easy to recognize bloggers you have followed, but most of them don’t know you or realize you even follow them (especially the bigger bloggers).

Heidi Ciravola¬†hosted the Mentoring Moms show with me right after we returned from Chicago. We were talking in the “green room” about what we took away from the conference. Ironically, nothing either one of us mentioned was about blogging… our lists were about parenting, homeschooling and family. Heidi mentioned a book she is reviewing that she finished on her way to the conference and how it really touched her deeply. I haven’t read the book yet (but I can assure you, I will), but the title really summarizes what I took away from the conference. Where I am and what I am feeling about our lives, our homeschool, our family, ¬†and our focus… the title of the book is “Just 18 Summers“.

Just 18 summersWhat does that title say to me?

Just 18 Summers…

to guide our children to be strong, faith-filled young men. Men whose walk clearly exemplifies that they live for Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name). Men who understand their role in their family, community and world. Men who understand their role as change agents for this Godless world we live in. Not by preaching beautiful words (that so often ring hollow today), but just by their daily life speaking to those around them that they live for our Messiah… and without one word being spoken others can recognize it.

Just 18 Summers…

to help them find their passions, their inspirations, their talents. To help them explore what they want to do in life. What talents they have and what those talents naturally lead to career-wise. I have always believed if you love what you do, it will never feel like work. I want my children to not only understand that, but to live it.

Just 18 Summers…

to show them how to learn and that it is a life-long endeavor. Yes, there are subjects that they have to learn and will, but what is the rush? We have been on the dual-enrollment, clep out of college classes route and I suddenly wondered why. Why are we in such a rush? Who developed this timeline? I am really rethinking everything about how we homeschool.

Just 18 Summers…

to show them what a healthy family looks like. Balanced. Focused. Loving. Where Mom and Dad work through problems instead of ignoring them. A family where struggles bring the family closer to each other and God. A family where we always have each other’s back. A family that doesn’t tear down. A family that is a role model for their future family. Am I demonstrating the type of woman I want them to seek for a wife? Is my husband modeling the role of Dad and husband he wants them to mimic?

As you see… big questions arose from my weekend in Chicago. ¬†If we only have Just 18 Summers (and that is something else I am challenging… why is our society driving children to leave at 18), do I want that time to be only focused on homeschool? Yes, homeschool is a lifestyle. But everything we do does not have to be a lesson. I. KNOW. THIS.

What am I doing?

How am I investing this precious time?

It’s time to reevaluate our lifestyle and throw out the clutter. Literally and figuratively.

This is the beginning of a journey … a journey of downsizing, realigning and refocus. I’ll be sharing this journey as we live it. ¬†One of the presentations I attended at 2to1 was Linda Delfino‘s and she spoke about blogging as a ministry.¬†¬†Linda encouraged us to write that post that we didn’t want to write because chances are it will minister to someone. ¬†I’m doing just that… except it won’t fit in one post, so it will be a new series on Live and Learn Farm… Just 18 Summers.

Photo Credit:

A blogging conference? Don’t let it fool you! It’s a homeschool moms’ renewal retreat that masquerades as a blogging conference! I never expected that. It wears the mask well. Yes, there were blogging presentations and I actually learned a lot from them. But all that pales in comparison to what I brought home that will change how I parent, how I homeschool and how I honor my husband.

Thanks Cheryl… A job well done!

Next year the conference will be in Kitty Hawk, NC. I’m from the coast of NC. Good Lord Willing… I’ll be there!

2to1 Kitty Hawk

100 Things About Me…

I was reading a post by a blogging friend, Darcy at Just a Night Owl¬†(I knew we would be friends… she has chickens too) and she listed “100 Things about Me”. As I read it, I realized how much it helped me get to know Darcy so I thought I might try to write one too. She mentioned several times throughout her post that it was not easy, so I was not sure I was going to write one. Until another dear friend and co-owner of Hip Homeschool Moms, Wendy wrote one on her Blog, so the challenge is on! So…. here goes my attempt at 100 things about me…¬†

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  1. I’m from the coast of NC
  2. I’m the last of 5 children
  3. My sister is 18 years older than I am and was leaving for college the day I was born
  4. She said they knew I would not be compliant when I was just two years old
  5. I have three brothers and three sons
  6. I am Messianic
  7. I LOVE the beach
  8. I desperately want to downsize and simplify
  9. I walk my faith out everyday instead of talking about it
  10. I started and own an IT staffing business
  11. I placed my husband (three times) (found him a new job for those not familiar with the term “placed”)
  12. The number three seems to be common in my world!
  13. I am addicted to caffeine … big time!
  14. So was my mom, when she was pregnant with me
  15. I HATE snakes
  16. I LOVE homeschooling
  17. I am not a “suzy-homemaker” type of mom
  18. I want to go to Israel for a long trip (would rather move there)
  19. Want to learn to speak and read Hebrew (fluently)
  20. I LOVE learning (one reason I love number 16)
  21. I LOVE being mom to boys!!!!
  22. I was scared to be a mom to boys ūüôā
  23. I have clothes in my closet from a size 2 – 16
  24. I rarely wear make-up
  25. I failed Algebra (twice)
  26. My 13-year-old son is better at Algebra than me.
  27. My 9-year-old son just started Algebra… it won’t be long before he is better at Algebra too
  28. I have green eyes
  29. So does my 12-year-old son
  30. My favorite color is purple
  31. My least favorite pink
  32. I was a daddy’s girl, big time
  33. I am a type A personality and all that goes with Type A’s
  34. I love to dance and sing — although I’m not great at either
  35. I can’t play a musical instrument
  36. I own a guitar
  37. I need to start a bucket list
  38. I love the Montessori method of education
  39. Have I mentioned I LOVE the beach?
  40. Darcy, this is harder than it looks, you are right!
  41. We have nine cats
  42. My 13-year-old does litter
  43. We have a greenhouse
  44. I haven’t visited the greenhouse much since we found a dead snake in there
  45. We have 42 acres, more than half of that wooded
  46. We have lots of fruit trees we planted
  47. And blackberry bushes
  48. And grape vines
  49. And they all produced this year!
  50. I made blackberry jelly for the first time by myself this year (See number 17)
  51. I absolutely love studying God’s word with my family
  52. I LOVE books
  53. When my dad passed away, the only thing I wanted was his book collection
  54. My dad loved books
  55. My boys are voracious readers… I think it is genetic!
  56. I LOVE hummingbirds
  57. So does my sister
  58. My sister and I have the same taste… (we bought the same kind of vehicles, same color in two different states and didn’t realize either had bought one).
  59. I was the chairman of the board of my boys’ Montessori school for three years before we decided to homeschool
  60. We have two classrooms
  61. I love soft rain showers and thunderstorms…
  62. but love the sun and sand more
  63. I want to move to the beach when we retire
  64. I love to shell hunt on the beach…
  65. I hate exercising but love to walk miles on the beach everyday I’m there
  66. I am co-owner of Hip Homeschool Moms
  67. I want to write a book about homeschooling
  68. I LOVE helping others homeschool
  69. One of my brothers is a published author
  70. I NEVER watch TV
  71. I don’t know how to text
  72. I’ve had an iPhone for 4 years
  73. All of my siblings are still on the coast of NC or VA
  74. We don’t eat shellfish or pork
  75. We drink raw milk
  76. We have dairy cows
  77. I love to sit with my boys and watch our chickens
  78. I love to muck the barn (don’t tell hubby)
  79. I love to garden (i.e., pick what has grown)
  80. I HATE weeding
  81. I am VERY outgoing
  82. I have no identified artistic gift (but I love to try to paint)
  83. I was my Dad’s caregiver for the last month of his life, with my sister
  84. I’m about to turn 48
  85. I love to play strategy board games
  86. All of my siblings and I love sudoku
  87. My boys and I love to do “Mind Benders” by The Critical Thinking Company during lunch
  88. My boys love the beach too
  89. When we leave the house, our vacation has started
  90. We are journey oriented, not destination focused
  91. I am “the cup is half-full” kind of person
  92. I trust completely and totally
  93. If you break that trust, it is hard to regain
  94. We keep the Sabbath
  95. I have over 25 different translations of the Bible
  96. I love taking road trips when the vehicle is reliable and the schedule is loose
  97. I’m a “Talk is cheap… Walk it!” kind of person
  98. I don’t lie and won’t keep liars near for long
  99. I am so completely in love with God with all my heart and soul
  100. And love teaching my children about Abba!

My Precious Cooker


DisclosureI’m not sure when it happened exactly, but yesterday I suddenly realized my nine-year old son is no longer just a “kid inchef hat the kitchen”, you know… being my assistant. Blake has been interested in cooking with me for years! He has always wanted to be in the kitchen helping me make anything and everything that is on the stove or in the oven! When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, for years now he has stated a “cooker”. ¬†

This week Blake and I were cooking a Broccoli and Chicken Stir-Fry recipe (which turned out fabulous I might add)… anyway, we were in the kitchen getting everything ready. We regularly double or triple recipes because we love leftovers in our house and we have three growing boys to feed, so besides learning a life skill, Blake gets a great fraction and measurement review¬†every time he cooks with me. ¬†But as I was watching him gathering the ingredients, I realized he not only knew exactly where to get the ingredients from, but ¬†he knew the tools he needed to use and how to use them and he knew how to follow the recipe. ¬†

I watched as he gathered the cloves of garlic from the garlic/onion bin, and as he moved to pull out a cutting board and knife and proceeded to cut the ends off and slice the garlic to fit inside the mincer.  And as he leans over and re-reads the recipe to be sure that the garlic goes in at this point, my eyes follow him to the stove where he minces the garlic into the skillet and uses a knife to scrape the mincer clean! He read the recipe, knew exactly what to do, where to find everything, how to use it and without any assistance whatsoever from me! None. 

Being Montessori homeschoolers, we have always put an emphasis on practical life skills from an early age so seeing him in the kitchen is not particularly surprising… realizing he could do it without me, WAS!! I was so proud of him expertly navigating the kitchen, putting his ingredients in at the right time, and in the right amounts. Yet, to be honest it was a tiny bit bittersweet! We have now morphed into being cooking partners where we both have our own roles when working together in the kitchen!¬†

So, it’s official… Blake is now a cooker, my “precious” cooker!! ¬†I am so very thankful for the opportunity to homeschool, for these times that I am fully here, in the moment, engaged and am really able to savor these experiences with my children! What an amazing blessing!! God is so good to us! Thank you Abba for these precious blessing you have given us! ¬†

My Precious Cooker

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