Work! Work! (Angelica!)

Something I see often on homeschool groups, is mothers asking other mothers how in the world they juggle the house, homeschool and working from home. I own a Etsy store and it’s booming quite a bit, so I thought I would offer what works for us.

First, you cannot do it all. Something is going to fall behind, and that’s ok! For us, it’s the house. I would love to be able to take on fewer orders, but financially I have to take as many orders as I can. So, laundry is never caught up, I have floors just desperately need swept & mopped. There’s always toys on the floor and dishes in the sink. I’m purging my entire house as much as I can, but still, housework just doesn’t (can’t!) take priority right now.

We school year round, which helps immensely as well.

As for day-to-day, this is what works best for me!

We get up, I drink a cup of coffee slowly, the kids eat breakfast, then we dive into morning time. I use Sonlight curriculum, so we do Bible, History, Science (I’m horrible and we don’t do experiments in the early years.) & literature in the living room. We usually add in hymns and geography songs as well. Then we’ll break for lunch/snack. My 2year old still takes a nap, so the big girls get some quiet time while I put her down to sleep. Once she’s asleep, my older girl two (K & A) do bookwork. K is 8.5 and fairly independent in math, explode the code & handwriting, and needs minimal instruction on LA. A is 6 years old and and requires a lot more instruction, so depending on how much work I need to get done, I may or may not help her right then. When K is done with bookwork, she moves on to her reader (again, she’s independent). Then, she’s done for the day!

Depending on how the planets align, and how well B naps, I may start working with A. At only 6 I don’t push her hard – she loves math, but handwriting and reading are more of a struggle so we take those slow. After she’s done her bookwork, she’s done, too!

Usually it’s about 2pm at this time, so if the weather allows, we head outside once B is awake. If I have any quilts pieced and ready to quilt, I usually head to my studio (next door to my house) and quilt for a few hours. If I don’t quilt, then they play for an hour or so, then we may do an additional family read aloud. I may try to work some in here, but usually I do chores at this time. I start supper around 5pm. Then we do supper & baths (if needed). Once I put the girls to bed (8:30-9:00) I try to do any chores (loading the dishwasher, switch over laundry, etc) then sit down and work. I usually work for about 2 hours. I’m a night owl, though, so it’s no struggle for me. This time is the only consistent time I get to work, as we sometimes have chiropractic appointments that throw the entire day off, or therapy (B & A are currently in occupational therapy on Monday’s).

It’s a struggle. I feel behind a lot of the time, but financially it has REALLY helped this year. I would love to get back to the point where I just use my work for vacation and fun money and can concentrate more on the house, but for now this works well for us!

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No Summer Break?!?

My poor children… they don’t get a summer break from school!

Why, you may ask? Well, I live in southern KY where it’s as humid as a swamp and hot as… well, you know. I have POTS (postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome) so doing things in the heat of summer is usually a no go. I do much better in the cool spring and fall. Because of this, and my crazy work schedule ( I have a Etsy shop), I’ve chosen to school year round.

So, what does that look like?

We use Sonlight curriculum, along with a few other things. We usually start a “Core” in June. We usually finish said Core in April. We do 3-4 days a week, year round. Because of my work schedule, I take off of the Core from Thanksgiving-New Years. I try to continue math & language arts, and do a Christmas read aloud.

I am very type B. In our state (KY) we are required to do 170 days of instruction. I keep an attendance sheet and tally it each month to make sure we’re on track to finish our days. We have lots of chiropractor appointments, and grocery shop over an hour away, so schooling 5 days a week isn’t very practical for our family!

In the spring and fall, my wanderlust kicks in and we start doing more field trips and just plain old travel. Because of this, I don’t schedule in breaks. Some people do a more traditional 6 weeks on, one week off. I do take a full week off of everything between Christmas and New Years, and a full week or two off after our Core is finished. We also take a week off for summer camp, and usually a week off around Labor Day. This year I have a family reunion and a wedding on back to back weekends in October, so we’ll probably take that week off. I love the flexibility if someone is sick, or if we need to travel somewhere spontaneously.

As for our “Core”, Sonlight has the fantastic instructors guide that keeps me on task. I choose to purchase the 5 day so that o get all of the amazing books and have them scheduled in. We sometimes double up (Core A & B) on History, and read one of the literature/read aloud assignments during school and another one at bedtime if they’re light days. Overall, I don’t stress. I’m not a huge box checker. But I still love the structure that the instructors guide gives me.

For Math and Language Arts, we just chug along. If my kiddo finishes a book in January, they just start the next book (I might be super nice and give them a few days reprieve. Ha!). I don’t panic if we’re “done with school” for the year and they’re in the middle of a language arts book (we do not use SL for LA). In the words of Dory from Finding Nemo, “Just keep swimming!”

If you’re looking for a more relaxed, more spur of the moment, more wanderlust inspired homeschool, I highly recommend dropping the August/September-May mindset and trying the year-round method!

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Life in Eastern Kentucky.

Today I’m writing from a place of pure frustration.

I live in the country. I like it here. I live where (other than college) I have lived my entire life. I don’t want to move. These mountains speak to my soul. I want to raise my girls where I was raised.

But it’s not easy.

I live where I have to pay $2-3 a pound for apples that are mealy or have been frozen and rot faster than we can eat them.

I live where the only vegetables I can afford to feed myself or my kids are carrots, broccoli and cauliflower. Greens leafy vegetables are a pipe dream. Asparagus has been known to cost $9 a pound. It’s a 45+ minute drive to any other grocery stores.

I live where I pay $90 a month for my phone and internet, and the internet is unusable. Like everything else, they have a monopoly and don’t care.

I live where the closest movie theater is a hour away. Where you have to travel even farther to do anything with your kids. There are a few playgrounds, but nothing to do in the wintertime.

I asked in a homeschool group for Christmas present ideas last year, that weren’t toys. Numerous people suggested zoo memberships, or dance lessons, or swim lessons, or horseback riding… oh how I wish!! Those are wonderful experience gifts, but the logistics, man.

I live on my families farm. I want to get chicken and goats in the semi-near future. I want to raise my girls fishing in this same pond I grew up fishing in, playing in the wide open spaces. I don’t want to leave that. But I don’t blame the (vast majority) of people who do.

I’m partnering with an organization that’s hoping to bring Broadband to the mountains. And I do think that will help, some. But I pray daily for a revitalization of our area. A revitalization of our culture. I pray for Hope.

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Today my girls are needing more than I can give. When one gets out of my lap, another climbs in. The baby doesn’t want to nap. The 3yo has lots of owies that need coddled. The 5yo always requires more attention. The 7yo is having a rough day, too. They all need their love cup filled, but mine is so empty.  

It’s no ones fault. My pcos is rearing its ugly head, making me an emotional wreck. I have morning sickness nausea and pms mood swings and temper. I broke down crying because the baby won’t sleep. I’m tired constantly. I’m constantly doing something, but none of it fills my cup. 

I don’t know how yo find that balance. When you have 4 little bodies that rely on you for food, for love and affection, for discipline,  it’s very tough. I love my girls to the moon and back, but this job isn’t easy. Yes, I “brought this on myself” as I’m so often told, and I wouldn’t change anything at all, but there are times when I’m just… raw. Empty. Exhausted.

It’s always when my thyroid is out of whack . Patience abounds when I’m in check. My when my diet goes to crap, and my thyroid rears its head, I wish I had the time and a doctor to help. I wish there was a magic pill. I wish I knew how to navigate the POTS, the pcos, the hypo. I muddle through. But on days like today, muddling isn’t enough. 

I hate being cranky with my kids. I hate it. I hate being locked in this cycle. I hate feeling stuck. I hate not knowing how yo full my cup. I hate being locked into this tiny area with no where for me to go to escape for a few minutes. But mostly I hate feeling like I’m not myself. 

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Know Who You Are.

I’m from coal country. To say that our economy has taken a hit over the past few years would be the understatement of the century. Coal has, excuse the pun, fueled our area for decades.

But, as I’m sure most know, the coal industry is dying. I won’t get into the politics of why in this post, but it’s dying.

So what are we to do? When you’re out and about, talking to people you run into in the grocery store, or even on social media, the main complaint is that “they need to do something to get more jobs back here.” I have so many questions about this comment. I know that the person who is saying it (and haven’t we all said it?) means well. I know that they are just as frustrated and as fed up with our little part of the country being overlooked, time and time again. We’re one of the poorest areas in the NATION. Not just the state, but the NATION. Yet, I still can’t get behind the statement.

Who is “they”? What, exactly, do they need to do? How are “they” going to wave their wand and magically get more jobs to appear?

Again, this all goes back to politics. And you know what? I’m not a fan of politics. It’s divisive. It’s a lot of name-calling, blame-gaming, ugly wars that are fought in ivory towers far away from the real world. So, again, I’m not going to delve into the political spectrum of this whole issue.

I’m going to delve into the heart issue.

We are, for the most part, a people that have been here for a while. A long while. My mom (the genealogist of the family, don’t ask me to name names), can trace our family back to the 1790’s (and maybe even later, like I said, don’t ask me) settling in the area. So, for our family to have been here this entire time, we’ve had to have perseverance. We’ve had to have spunk. We’ve had to have pure eastern Kentucky bullheadedness. And that’s exactly what we need to continue to have.

We need to make our way. WE need to pave the path for future generations to make our area relevant again. Coal isn’t going to do that for us anymore. So we need to step up and do it for ourselves.

I can hear you now, scratching your heads, or even getting a little testy with what I’m saying, but stick with me.

I realize that I come with a unique view, and a unique opportunity. I am a 3rd generation quilter. I was raised in the quilt shop that my mother and my grandmother opened on our family farm. I, in turn, am raising my four daughters in that same quilt shop. I have a successful local and internet business. Again, I know I’m lucky in that I already had a venue…. but I think, if we work hard at it, a lot of other people would have venue’s, too.

We have so much talent in these hills. So many true arts. The arts and craft industry is dying across the country. The booming craft festivals I went to as a child with my family are slowly turning into more commercial festivals, or going away completely. No one is passing on their craft to their children anymore. Or, if they are, their children aren’t doing anything with it. This needs to change!

If your grandmother quilts, take a weekend or two and go learn from her.
If your mother knits, take a weekend and go learn from her.
If your Dad makes the best bookshelves around, let him teach you how.                                     If your great Aunt Ida cans all her homegrown vegetables, let her teach you about gardening and canning.

We are a people that have roots that run deep in this area. We have a history of gardening, woodworking, broommaking, candle dipping, sewing, quilting, knitting, crocheting, weaving, canning, and so much more. We are losing our history. We are losing our ties to the area, and we’re moving away in droves. We’re uprooting ourselves, instead of burrowing the roots in deeper.

I don’t have all the answers. I just know that I would love to see more gardening classes, cooking classes, basic sewing classes offered to our teens. We push college, and we’re totally neglecting the every day skills that are solely lacking.
At our quilt shop, we don’t do any clothing alterations. We keep pretty busy doing our own thing, but I have told many a person that if someone would learn how to do alterations, they could make a killing in our small little town. How many other of those skill gaps are there? How many other things from our heritage would be in high demand?

If you aren’t from eastern Kentucky, you can still help. Search us out. Find us on Etsy. Find us on Facebook. Give us your business. If you are from EKY, SHOP LOCAL. I had a customer today who stated several times that she was unaware that anyone was making T-Shirt quilts in the area, until someone pointed her my way. Lack of advertising on my part? Maybe. But I’m so thankful she chose a local shop to spend her money at. It saves us both time and hassle.

Know where you come from. Embrace where you come from. Learn everything you can about where you come from. I think if we, as a whole, strive to do that… we’ll come out okay. But if we continue turning our backs on our heritage, on our ancestors hopes and dreams, I’m not so sure. I hope, for my girls sakes, that we can revitalize eastern Kentucky.

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K is for….!

I try really hard not to get stuck doing “catch up” posts since I very rarely post. But I want to write this down to share with my oldest some day.

K, you are 8 years old.

You are amazing.

You just got this reading thing down pat. I hope you always have this love.  You read to your sisters. You read in the car. You make me so happy. I love seeing you light up when we get books. When our van broke down you climbed into the back seat with your sisters and read them books to keep them calm and pass the time.

You’re so daggone smart. When math doesn’t come as easy as everything else to you, you get so frustrated. Just like your mama.

You are kind and caring to your baby sister. You help me more than you’ll ever know.

You and A don’t always get along. And that’s okay. I think you’ll be close when you’re older, but it does pain me sometimes to see how you treat her, especially knowing how sweet you can be to B or E. You two are polar opposites in so many ways, but she loves and looks up to you SO much.

You love to vacuum, and help with chores in general. You’re itching to sew. I need to sit down and teach you how. You help me so much that Mommy sometimes forgets to give you that one on on time you crave.

You have grown so much from the little girl who used to lose it over things multiple times a day… and you know what? It’s only really been a year or so. You’ll be 8.5 so very soon, I love you so much, and I’m so thankful you made me a Momma. (Photos from last summer when she had short hair and two front teeth Ha!)

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Bind my wandering heart to thee.

I’m a wanderer. I can’t help it, it’s in my genes. I love nothing more than to get in the van (or car) and just… drive. I don’t need a purpose. I just need a good playlist, or a great audiobook, and a ginormous bottle of water.

Spontaneity is a bit harder with four kids, but I still manage to go some now that the baby doesn’t hate her carseat with the fire of a thousand suns. Thankfully my girls are perfectly content with a few Taco Bell $1 cheese roll ups, and other than answering “But where are we going?” a thousand times, and stopping for potty breaks, it’s pretty doable.
The thing is, there’s no real answer to the “Where are we going?” question most times. I usually just say “We’re going on an adventure!” and leave it at that. After reading Sally & Sarah Clarkson’s book “The Life Giving Home,” I started implementing “Saturday Suppers” both as a chance for us girls to get out of the house for supper one day a week, and to give my parents a break (we eat supper over there most days my husband works late).  As summer as traipsed on, Saturday Suppers have been more sporadic and on different days of the week, but its a tradition I hope to keep up with them throughout the years. In doing so, we wander. We take off in one direction and just drive. Sometimes I have a destination in mind. Sometimes I’m just too tired to go far. But regardless, we go.

My Mamaw Jean was this way to an extent, and my Papaw certainly was. I texted my poor husband last week and told him I was taking the girls to town for supper, and then said something along the lines of “You know I can’t sit still, right?” to which he responded “I know.”

It’s not that I’m not content with my day-to-day life. I really am. It’s just that there is something about getting out of the house, getting out into the “wild” but still being in the safe confines of your van, that I just adore. I love exploring Kentucky. I love going to certain areas (I’m looking at you Red River Gorge) over and over again. I’m so thankful that most of the time my hubby is more than willing to trudge along with me on bis days off (I do try to give him Sundays free, ha!). My only regret about having our first child so soon was that we didn’t get to do any traveling together, just the two of us. We were poor as church mice those first few years of our marriage, and so centered around school and work that we didn’t even get to do any fun couple things outside of just living together.

Add in 5 months of bedrest last year, and I may be a bit worse than I used to be.

My girls are always up for an adventure though, and that makes my heart sing.

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