Homeschool Planning: An Overview

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Over the course of our short homeschooling journey thus far, I’ve found that it’s important for me to have our days and weeks planned but flexible. Some people function beautifully with no plan at all, and their kids learn so much that way. I tried that, and found that it leads me to worry that we’re not doing enough and leads the kids into a state of chaos and bickering due to lack of structure. I feel best when I have written down what we will do and have what we’ll need all in one place, but it needs to be planned in a way that allows for last-minute changes and delays. Even though we do follow a curriculum, it’s super important to me that curiosity and interest are still a primary guiding force in our family’s learning, and that freedom and play are a big part our days as well. This is the system I’ve come up with thus far- with ideas borrowed from a few different homeschool moms I follow.

We’re using Adventures in U.S. History from My Father’s World this year as our main curriculum for 2nd grade. It is Classical Education and Charlotte Mason inspired, and uses living books to teach each subject, and it allows for a lot of personalization as far as how to teach and what to use. It’s divided into 34 weeks, and the each week has a primary history/geography topic- basically a unit study. So I bought a box of manila folders and labeled each with the unit number and topic (thanks to my friend Elsie for this idea, as well as the inspiration to use MFW to begin with!). I put the student sheets for that week inside each folder. Then six weeks at a time I take a little chunk of time to sit down and look over what curriculum books will be used for each week, what extra materials will be needed for the activities I want to do, and what books I need to acquire for the book basket (which is one of my favorite things about this curriculum!) I write all of this on the outside of that week’s folder.

I use a Moleskine planner as a record book and lesson planner, and I also purchased some tabbed post-it notes to use with it. There’s a tab for each unit, and I put them each (again 6 weeks at a time) on the week I expect to do that unit but I love that they’re moveable because you know, life happens. On the sticky note itself I make notes of books and materials we’ll use etc. (basically the same things that are on the manila folder).

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Each week, I take time on Sunday to sit down and plan the week. Using pencil, I write in any outings or activities first, then our academics for each day, based mostly on the daily plans from the MFW teacher’s manual. I set up our book basket with the books we’ll be using for the current unit, and I look ahead to the next couple weeks and make sure to place library holds online so I can pick up what we’ll need in time. I get book basket ideas from the back of the MFW teacher’s manual, and from other moms who have blogged their experiences using this curriculum. I stick almost entirely with what’s available within our library system, to keep our costs down as much as possible. I’m so thankful for the library!

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During the week, as we move through our schoolwork each day I go over my pencil planning with a pen as we complete each task. This way, what remains is only what we actually did. I adjust plans if needed according to our progress and the natural flow of things. We didn’t get to that book/lesson/page/project/whatever today? No problem, just erase and move it to tomorrow’s plan. Did more than expected in a subject because Seth was just super into it that day? No problem. Using the sticky notes and labeling them as units rather than weeks allows room for life—a week can be skipped, or one unit spread over two weeks—without messing up all the future plans. This isn’t just to keep things looking orderly; it also prevents me from stressing about the concept of “getting behind”, which is a slippery slope to feeling like a failure as a teacher and mom (yes, dramatic, I know). There’s no such thing as “behind”- there’s just “where we are”. It’s liberating. The only things that are permanent in the book are the ones we’ve actually completed, so it serves as both planner and record book for our school year. I really like to have a way to look back and see what we’ve learned and accomplished.

So that’s pretty much my planning system for homeschool. Those Sunday planning sessions are essential and also involve my personal planner, and I take time to “sync” it with our family google calendar (where Manny and I both put all of our appointments etc.). I also use this time to decide on at least 4-5 dinners to make that week, and make a grocery list for the weekly shopping. I keep track of everything on my phone so it’s always with me, but I really like to write things out on paper—it’s just good for the way my brain works. Every morning, coffee in hand, I sit down with my planners (personal and school) and prepare mentally for the day.

And because I’m asked so much, here is what we’re using this year….

Seth (age 7)- 2nd grade:

History/Geography/Literature: My Father’s World – Adventures in U.S. History, with Beautiful Feet’s Early American History Primary books inserted as book basket picks for their corresponding subject matter, and plenty of other living books for each weekly unit

Language Arts/Literature: Brave Writer’s Quiver of Arrows and Jot it Down writing program; Spelling By Sound and Structure, grade 2

Bible: MFW Adventures ^^

Reading: basically happens organically as he reads aloud to me often as we go through our work. We are alway reviewing and strengthening those skills as I notice things he needs more work on (for instance, long vowels, silent letters, and certain blends). He is basically a fluent reader now though, which has been a giant turning point in the rest of our schooling. He can now read the instructions in his math and spelling books, for example, which means I don’t have to be right there the entire time. He even reads to his brother and then they’re both occupied. It’s life-changing, folks.

Art: Painting and Drawing in Waldorf Schools, and I’m also about to order Draw Paint Print Like the Great Artists

Spanish: Teach Them Spanish!, taught primarily by their grandma who is a native speaker

Math: Math MammothMaking Math Meaningful

Science: MFW Adventures^^- uses Usbourne science books covering various topics throughout the year; Exploring Nature With Children (which also includes poetry and art study- I love this!), and the Wild Explorer’s Club

Isaac (age 4)- Preschool:

Isaac’s days are still mostly play (which is truly the best way for him to learn a his age), but he has a couple or preschool-level workbooks we’ve been given, and he pulls them out (always his own idea) and traces letters, colors etc. sometimes while Seth is doing schoolwork. I want him to enjoy everything school-related that he encounters, so I never push it on him or even really ask him to do anything academic.
I just started reading The Homegrown Preschooler, and I love it so far. I can tell it’s going to give me a ton of ideas for intentional (super fun) things to do with him this year. I actually may end up getting the corresponding curriculum, A Year of Playing Skillfully, which I’ve heard nothing but wonderful things about.
I also read aloud to him nearly every day, and it’s one of the most important things (arguably the most important) anyone can do to teach a preschooler. We love Where the Wild Things Are, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie, anything from Robert McCloskey, and the list goes on and on. I pick up new books from the library just about every week. I always go armed with my list of titles and call numbers, many of which I jot down from Honey for a Child’s Heart and Give Your Child the World.

Well that’s pretty much my planning post you guys! I’m already working on my next one, about the structure and rhythm of our homeschool days, so let me know what you’d like to know about that!

August 1 was the official start of our schoolyear. Cheese!
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The Pain in the Joy


Motherhood is is full of paradox. From the moment we learn of our child’s existence, we begin a process of constantly holding and letting go. This little person is part of our very being (spiritually, if not physically) and yet a totally separate human being. They arrive, and we let go while simultaneously embracing. They grow, and we watch in unspeakable joy, yet with each milestone reached we must let go just a bit more. Let go, and trust. The cord is cut, and we no longer share one body. They need us at every second, even to support their tiny floppy heads, and then less, and less. They wean. They crawl, then walk, and then run away from us (and yet return for comfort, again and again). We continue, being there, loving, holding, and still constantly letting go. May I just point something out here, that perhaps sometimes we’re afraid to say out loud? Amidst all of the amazing joy of all of this, it is also gut-wrenchingly painful for us as mamas. Remember, this child was literally a part of you and always will be. It is wonderful to see our little ones learning, changing, becoming the people they are destined to be. But it also feels a bit like a punch in the stomach, as we let go and practice trusting that they will be okay, and as we watch each stage pass, gone forever in favor of the new.
It is okay—even totally essential—to acknowledge this. In one of my favorite podcast episodes ever, Rob Bell spoke of The Good Grief. It deeply affected me, and has been on my mind ever since. With every new thing in our lives, something else must be coming to an end. Each time we gain something, we also lose something. This applies to parenthood, and also every other aspect of life. It is healthy for us to grieve these small things. If we refuse to acknowledge what is passing away, in fear that it will make us seem ungrateful for the wonderful new things happening, we are ignoring a part of our own hearts that needs the pain to be acknowledged. In allowing ourselves to observe and fully feel the pain even in the smallest things, we honor what was, and we allow ourselves to let it go and then fully be present and grateful in the now.
And you know what’s so incredibly beautiful about all of this? When you let yourself do this, you give yourself permission to feel everything more completely, including the present moment. In acknowledging the bittersweet heartache of my kids growing, each new stage bringing about the end of the previous one, I find myself so much more grateful for the present stages they’re in—wanting to soak in every detail and truly pay attention while it lasts.
So I’ll allow myself to feel a little sad that Eaden looks different (albeit every bit as cute) now that she has teeth, and that Isaac is looking less and less “little” lately as the last of his toddler chub disappears, and even that Seth no longer needs my help with most of his day-to-day tasks (yes, with that one I may be simultaneously grieving and cheering!)… but mostly I will hug them as often as I can, and notice the color of their eyes when I look at them, and pay as much attention as I can, as often as I can, to every detail. And I’ll take pictures (so many pictures), because every bit of it is worth remembering.

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Our Homeschool Life: June


life skills


our group now has our plot at a local community garden, which we started clearing out and will be planting seeds in this week.


lessons in the value of hard work


we finished Charlotte’s Web and the corresponding language arts lessons, and then watched the movie!


our wild + free group!


nature play


keeping cool with beach days


Frog and Toad! Seth’s reading fluency has been increasing dramatically–it’s so much fun to watch!


an introduction to photography with a simple film camera. additional lessons in self control (because you only have 12 shots) and patience (because now we wait for processing)!


we’re now in our interim month between 1st and 2nd grade, so besides plenty of Summer fun, we’re diving in and finishing our study of the solar system and space exploration. one day we read the book Starry Messenger by Peter Sis to learn all about Galileo!

I’m about to jump into planning out Seth’s second grade year. In an interesting turn of events, I decided to use a new curriculum, My Father’s World. This year we’ll be using their “Adventures in U.S. History” for our history, literature, science, and Bible. We’ll incorporate our early American history Beautiful Feet Books, and will continue with Brave Writer language arts, and Math Mammoth (supplemented with Khan Academy and waldorf math work). This is going to be my first year really doing more serious advanced planning, but I’m doing it in a way that still allows us a lot of flexibility. I’ll share my methods here in a future post.

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Slow down and breathe


With age 29 coming up for me in a few months, I have a some thoughts. For several years, I made lists on each birthday of the things I wanted to do and experience in the coming year. Often most of them didn’t happen—many times I carried them over to the next year, and the next. It’s not because I didn’t care enough to go after these things, it’s just that priorities tended to shift as life went on, with all of its unexpected twists and turns.

I’ve spent my 20’s primarily having and raising babies, as well as building a business from scratch, and often simply hoping to get all of the bills paid and put food on the table. All of these factors made things like international travel feel like a pipe dream. It is okay though. This doesn’t depress me because I know there will be time and resource for all of that in coming years.

My current everyday existence may appear less glamorous and exciting, but it is its own awesome adventure. This whole life-with-littles thing, it’s a get to. I get to be the one watching my beautiful children grow, day by day. I get to teach and love them, comfort and guide them; I’m witnessing their “firsts” and helping set the foundation their entire lives will be built on. And then I will get to see them spread their own wings and make their own amazing lives, and I’ll look back on these precious, fleeting days and I know I won’t wish that I’d gotten to travel more, or that I’d spent more hours hustling to build my career. I’ll just be glad for all the time I spent fully present with them—holding, listening, teaching, loving. This is something I aim to keep in mind constantly—may I always put this above all else, above “busy” and above work and above the to-do list. May I not allow “getting things done” to ever keep me from taking the time to pour into my kids with patience and grace. 

Europe will still be there in 10 years. So I’m not making a birthday list of things to check off during this final year of my 20’s. There will be no “30 Before 30”.
Instead, there’s this: whatever is happening in the current moment, whatever I am doing at any given time, may I be fully IN that. If I’m drinking a cup of coffee, may I notice and savor the flavor, the aroma, and the smooth feel of the mug in my hands. If I’m feeding Eaden, may I hold her tiny hand and look into her eyes rather than my phone. If I’m reading aloud to my boys, may I cuddle closer and put all other things out of my mind, enjoying the story along with them. If I’m in a conversation with someone (child, or adult) may I look them in the eye and focus solely on what they’re saying. May I notice things, pay attention to the details, and live in gratitude for all of it.

How often are we so busy that we even resort to attempting multiple tasks at once? We’re so pulled in multiple directions that we’re becoming incapable of focusing on just one thing, and in turn we aren’t giving our best to anything at all. In Teaching From Rest, Sarah Mackenzie writes,

“There just isn’t a way to steep yourself in this moment if you multitask your way through it. With the exception of automatic behaviors such as walking and talking, our brains can only attend to one thing at a time. What we usually think of as multitasking is actually task switching, and it is both an inefficient and ineffective way to work.”
and further—
“By definition, to be efficient is to achieve maximum productivity with minimum wasted effort or expense. But relationships don’t flourish or grow that way. Relationships need time, spent lavishly.”

We all too often prioritize efficiency over relationships, even though we know that people are always more important. Doing things differently requires intentionally going against the grain of our overly fast-paced culture, and unlearning the deep-seeded mindset we have learned from it. I recently came across a blog post on A Cup of Jo on “single-tasking” or “mono-tasking”. It was a great post, and yet I find it a little bit crazy that an entire new buzzword has been created for the concept of focusing on one thing at a time. Our cultural tendency to glorify “busy” has reached such an extreme that we now see simply doing one task at once as a novel idea. How often, when you ask (or are asked) how someone is doing, is the answer almost automatically some version of “Oh I’ve been crazy busy!”? I feel like this is almost always the case. It’s basically expected. Most of us live in a constant state of stress and rushing. We have paid steeply for our frenzied pace of life, in the form of chronic stress, anxiety, severe health problems, disconnected relationships, and a shocking inability to focus well or work well on anything.

For me, this is all the more evidence for the need to step off the crazy train and intentionally create slowness in my life and that of my family. Not only despite it being countercultural, but because it is. I want my children to know the art of just doing nothing, and the magical creativity that comes from boredom. I want our home to be a place to breathe—one of peace and unhurried life. I want to be able to honestly say that the pace of my life is not too much, because I’m living it at human speed and am leaving enough margin to actually breathe.

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my constant reminder.

Some further reading on this that I’ve enjoyed:

Discovering the Joy of Single Tasking
Read This Story Without Distraction (Can You?)
Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace
Faster Than the Speed of Life

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Seeking Simplicity: (Baby) Clothing Edition


So out of the simple clothing posts I’m writing, this one is obviously the most fun, because tiny baby girl clothes are just the best! Ever since I found out I was having a girl, it’s taken a bit of self control not to overspend on adorable things for her.

Eaden is blessed to be the recipient of some beautiful hand-me-downs from my best friend’s daughter who is about a year older. They’re destined for greatness together, these two, so clearly it makes sense that they share a similar personal style:

(Sidenote: the above picture was taken in March, and Eaden has so much more hair now! It’s nuts! I didn’t fully realize until I saw this.)

When approaching what to purchase for Eaden, I aim to limit it to a few simple and high-quality items in natural materials. For the summer, I love Burt’s Bee’s organic cotton camisole onesies, paired with some bloomers. I found a couple pairs of ridiculously cute handmade bloomers from Wee Vintage Baby. They’re perfect with the onesies or a little tank top or t-shirt.



My other favorite for her is rompers. Classic, sweet, cool enough for the summer heat, and nothing beats the simplicity of a one-piece outfit! These two are from Peek and Numero 74.

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For scoring amazing, quality items that are gently used and super affordable, the Kidizen app is wonderful! Purchasing pre-loved clothing rather than new leaves a much smaller footprint on both the earth and our bank account. I also sell some of the things she outgrows, sometimes for exactly the amount I bought them for!
I’m fully aware that shoes are completely unnecessary for my crawling infant, so these leather t-strap sandals were sort of a petty splurge purely for my own amusement. (We all get to do those things once in a while, right?) Aren’t they precious?! I won’t be buying her more shoes until she walks though.


We also have a few super sweet dresses, some headbands, various onesies, and footie pajamas. And a swimsuit, which also isn’t really necessary, but look at it! (below)
I believe a little bit of superfluity is alright here and there—it keeps things fun!


She has two drawers- one for clothes she currently wears and one for things she’ll likely grow in to in the next few months.

Simple, and sweet. (Because getting dressed shouldn’t be complicated!)

Previous posts on simplicity:

The Process of Simplicity

Seeking Simplicity: Clothing Edition (Mine)

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What We’re Reading


May 2016 will go down in our family history as the month that Seth fell in love with reading. Before, he saw it more as work and rarely chose to try it outside of our school time. But all of a sudden something clicked and he has been enjoying it, and therefore getting substantially more adept at it very quickly. As a lifelong lover of books, this brings me so much joy. He turned 7 in February. I have no idea what the expected timeline is for reading in public schools. I’ve made a point of not really paying attention to it, because I know that there is so much evidence that early reading in no way leads to any advantage later, and in fact is likely to lead to more academic problems and less interest in reading for pleasure in later years. I knew that he would start when he was truly ready, since I provided plenty of material and opportunity. Seeing that actually happen, and seeing him choose to sit down with a book in his own free time, makes me so proud of us both. He is my first homeschooler after all- sort of my guinea pig- so it’s so nice to see that what we’re doing is working in a tangible, academic sort of way.

I too have been reading much more than I used to. I’ve made a habit of reaching for a book instead of turning on Netflix during my evening “chill time”, and this not only feeding my mind and filling my thoughts with such great things that are affecting my life in wonderful ways, but it’s also been so good for my sleep patterns. I’d heard for years that screen use in the last hour or two before bed negatively affects your sleep, but actually experiencing it has been so interesting. Last night Manny and I watched Game of Thrones together, and I had trouble falling asleep for the first time all week.

Anyway, I thought I’d share the books we’ve been enjoying lately, because I know I always love hearing what others are reading.


One thing that has always been true about me is that I can’t just read one book at a time. Maybe it’s some sort of reader ADD? There are just so many interesting books, that any trip to the library (or to leads to multiple books at once. But each eventually gets its time in the spotlight.
My main squeeze over the past week has been The Way of the Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover // This book has been so timely and so, so good for me. It’s about health, and connected living, and doing the things that are good for you and make you happiest and most balanced. Which is so necessary because it means more to give to those who need us. I’ll probably write a whole post about this book eventually.
And now I’m about halfway through Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert // Creativity beyond fear—need I say more. I love Elizabeth Gilbert.
And these, I’m gradually making my way through, picking them up here and there for short bouts of inspiration:
Teaching from Rest by Sarah Mackenzie
How to Be a Wildflower by Katie Daisy // lovely visual inspiration
The Parent’s Tao Te Ching by William Martin // I read a page or two at a time for some quick conscious parenting inspiration. It’s so full of widsom.
Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle // One of my favorite authors of all time, writing about faith and art. I’ve been reading this little by little as a devotional of sorts.


homeschool and family read alouds (for Seth, age 7 and Isaac, age 4):

Nature Anatomy by Julia Rothman // a beautifully illustrated guide to nature
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White // our language arts and literature book at the moment, guided by Brave Writer
The Nature Connection: An Outdoor Workbook by Clare Walker Leslie // a great month-by-month guide to observing nature
The Action of Subtraction by Brian P. Cleary // I love this “Math is Categorical” series for bringing math concepts and funny poetry together. Seth enjoys them and they make a great supplement to our math. We found them at the library.
Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late by Laura Overdeck // Another way to add some fun to math, and encourage critical and mathematical thinking. We do one of the word problems together every week or so.
Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey // this was a childhood favorite of mine—I love McCloskey!
If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
Ferdinand by Munro Leaf
(countless other picture books get pulled from our shelves daily, but these are some recent favorites)


seth (age 7):

Frog and Toad Together
by Arnold Lobel
The Solar System by Emily Bone
A Kiss for Little Bear by Else Holmelund Minarik
Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff
The Magic Tree House (book 4) by Mary Pope Osbourne



What are you and your kids reading right now?

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Seeking Simplicity: Clothing Edition (mine)


I wrote a post about simplicity last week, and the next day had a conversation with a friend about spending and budgets, thoughtful purchasing, and the guilt and shame that can sometimes surround spending money, especially on ourselves. For me, this has always applied especially to clothes.

I don’t consider myself a fashionista. I’ve never had the money to be one anyway, and it simply isn’t a priority for me. I don’t care about trends. I have my own taste that’s mostly unaffected by whatever is “in” at the given moment, I’ve always simply tried to wear what makes me feel good. For years, most of my wardrobe came from Target, sometimes Nordstrom with some Gap and American Eagle here and there. I very much appreciate good design and beautiful things, but felt like I couldn’t afford to splurge on good quality items. Most of my purchases were pretty impulsive and unplanned. I had favorite items that I wore all the time, but many things sat in my closet rarely being used at all. And then there were the things that clearly were just of such poor quality—I found myself replacing tops with holes and pilling, or stretched-out jeans, far too often then should be necessary.

As I began to dive more into the concept of simpler living, I frequently encountered the concept of capsule wardrobes, and of thoughtfully planned clothing collections built over time with pieces that are well-made, high quality, classic, and will last over many seasons and years. This was usually accompanied by talk of where clothing comes from and how it is produced. It turns out that cheap clothing usually comes at the cost of severe social injustice and environmental harm. There is an entire “slow fashion” movement focused on ethically made, high quality clothing. For some reason it has taken me a while, but I’ve finally begun heading in this direction. I’d like to share the experience here for anyone interested.
Please note that I do not consider mine to be even close to a true capsule wardrobe. I’ve read that by definition that would consist of 30 or fewer items (including shoes and possibly even accessories). I’m not there, and I’m not sure that’s even my goal, but I do want more simplicity in my clothing collection, as I believe it will streamline the process of getting dressed as well as eliminate clothing clutter and storage issues.


First, during our big initial decluttering process, I rid my drawers and closet of everything unneeded. This included items that were stretched out, worn out, stained or torn beyond repair, as well as anything that simply didn’t make me feel good wearing it. I tried on everything I hadn’t worn in a while, and if there was just something off about it and I knew it was bound to sit unused for another six months, out it went. It’s amazing how many things I kept holding on to with a “just in case” mentality (and that was the same all over my house, not only with clothes). After all of that , I was finally left with the things I actually wear, and actually like. From there, it’s simply been a matter of identifying the holes in my collection or the pieces I’d like to eventually replace with a nicer, higher-quality version. And even the best-made things eventually wear out over time, so I plan to make replacements as needed.

My skirt here is from a great little second-hand Instagram shop @hobbsgeneralstore. They post new inventory most Fridays. This sling from Kantha Bae is one of my favorite things for Eaden! Photo is from our family session with by friend Bianca Thomas (

Each season will vary a bit, but not too drastically in South Florida, so I’m approaching my entire wardrobe as a whole, not as much by season, though since it’s currently May I don’t plan to add a jacket or sweater any time soon.
Here’s what my clothing collection consists of right now:

-4 pairs of jeans
-3 pairs of soft, light “boho” style pants
-3 pairs of shorts (2 denim, 1 soft printed)
-10 tank tops (I wear tanks nearly every day, including for workouts and the beach and as a base layer under sheer tops. Most of mine are still the cheap ones from Target, but I’m gradually replacing them as they wear out, while also narrowing down to no more than 7. Everlane makes my favorites.)
-5 basic t-shirts (and I just pre-ordered this one, which I’m pretty happy about!)
-2 nicer tops that can dress up a little
-4 tunic-type tank dresses, for pairing with jeans or leggings
-2 other dresses- one floor-length black and one for looking somewhat professional when needed
-4 skirts (which I don’t wear much, but can’t seem to part with)
-4 (I think?) long-sleeved shirts
-6 sweaters (3 cardigans, 3 pullovers)
-1 winter jacket
-Lounge and workout wear (I’ve probably got too many pairs of leggings, but I live in them at home, and for yoga, and also wear them under tunic-length items sometimes or as pajamas if I’m chilly. Versatile and so comfy. In this category is also a small handful of tops that I only wear for sleep.)
-1 swim suit
-Underthings (Nursing for the third time around meant new bras, as none of my old nursing bras were in any kind of usable condition when we pulled them down from the attic. I chose Cake Maternity, and they’ve been my favorite ones yet. I have 4 nursing bras that I rotate. Undies are pretty much all simple cotton, nearly all the exact same style in various shades of black, blue, and grey.)
-Shoes: 9 pairs, which really still sounds like too many. My beloved Birkenstock sandals are my go-to, but they’re getting older and I was feeling that they looked too grungy and casual for certain situations so after months of inner debate I purchased these from Olukai. These are well-made and comfortable, and will go with practically everything I wear. I wear sandals year-round, probably at least 80% of the time. I also have a pair of Teva flip-flops for the beach, to avoid messing up the leather of my other sandals. The other pairs consist of a pair of Toms casual sneakers, Merrel barefoot trail runners, regular Asics running shoes (which don’t get out much these days, thanks to those Merrells!), a pair of crocheted black Toms classics which are almost exclusively for shooting weddings, a pair of boots, and a pair of sparkly and awfully uncomfortable flats that I wear only for the very rare dressy occasion.

Making that list was quite a bit more difficult than I’d expected, but I think that’s pretty much everything. It may have been overkill to catalog my entire closet for you, but I think it’s a good foundation for future posts on this topic.
I would like to pare this down even a little more. I think I held onto some duplicates (especially tank tops and loungewear) because I was afraid of not having anything to wear in between laundry loads, but I’ve found that having fewer items to wash makes it pretty easy to wash more frequently. I’m getting into a habit of putting a load in each morning, and folding the one from the day before at some point during our morning school time.

I’ve made a few purchases recently and feel that I won’t need anything new at least until after the summer.
– I mentioned the “Wild + Free Mama” tee above, which is from my favorite homeschool inspiration source.
– I also just bought a pair of light-wash cropped jeans (see photo) from Nordstrom’s Treasure&Bond line. I honestly wish I’d sought out a brand that is more focused on ethical production, but I did like that at least a portion of proceeds is given to charities. Here’s a list of more ethical jeans brands that I’m curious about for the future.
– And finally, my new sandals (see above)—Olukai has an outstanding commitment to the environment and their community in Hawaii.

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Homeschool overview, Grade 1


My last homeschooling update was in the very beginning of this journey, when we were still just figuring out how. Now we’re coming to the end of our second year! And I’m still figuring it out, definitely still learning each day, but I’m happy to share where we are, where we’ve been, and what’s working for us right now. One of the beautiful things about home education is the flexibility and the way it can be customized for each family, each child, and each season of life. (If you’re curious about why we chose homeschooling, I wrote about that here.)

Currently Seth is 7 (+4 months) and in first grade. This year was so full of ups and downs. The adjustment that accompanies adding a third child into the mix is no small thing. The first six months or so after Eaden’s birth in September (and let’s face it—that last month  or so of pregnancy, too!), it was basically survival mode. We sometimes skipped days, even weeks, of formal “school”. At times doing just one day of schoolwork in an entire week felt like a victory. I went through times when I felt so much guilt, and so much worry that he’d get “behind” and that we weren’t doing “enough”. I was just. so. tired.

But guess what? They learned a ton anyway. Seth kept progressing in his reading, handwriting, and math skills, even when we we’re spending a lot of time teaching it. His reading fluency astounds me (because it seemed to happen so suddenly) and he got there because he wanted to be able to read things. Handwriting was similar, along with telling time and understanding measurements. Math comes up naturally in our lives on a daily basis. He picks up a ton of science facts simply because he’s curious. Beyond those basic academics, he’s become more capable and independent (he made me scrambled eggs and did the dishes the other day!) and knows so many random and interesting things. He is constantly learning. I understand and appreciate the unschooling, child-led learning philosophy so much better now than I ever did before. Kids will learn, naturally and without force or even much guidance—it actually works! (Here’s a great article I read recently on this topic.) Overall though, we like at least some structure and planning, and I got to the point where I felt ready to return to a school routine. Eaden is 8 months old now, and yes life is constantly still in flux and we still have some sleepless nights and tired days. And I’m working more again, which adds another interesting element to the mix. But we’re doing schoolwork more often, typically four days a week for a couple hours a day, and we’re really enjoying it- which is so important to me!



We’re going to be schooling through the Summer, to keep this momentum going. I’ve been reading about the Waldorf philosophy and I’m feeling so drawn to aspects of that lifestyle and hoping to learn to incorporate some of it into our lives. There is a lot of focus on creativity and beauty, as well as on rhythms (daily, weekly, and seasonal), which I feel we need pretty deeply. I’ve noticed that without any structure we’re too scattered and chaotic, so I want to bring some grounding routine into our days. For preschoolers, the entire “curriculum” is basically stories and songs, and letting them play freely and participate in the life of the home and family. I love that, and am looking forward to applying it with Isaac and eventually Eaden. I’ve learned so much through this series on Waldorf-inspired preschool at home. I’ll share more about all of this (and how I’m approaching preschool with Isaac) once I get a better handle on what I’m doing, but I will say that I’m pretty excited about it! I’m just starting to incorporate a slightly more Waldorf-inspired approach (or maybe Waldorf and Charlotte Mason hybrid) into Seth’s language, history and science lessons by having him create journal pages that are a combination of painting and writing- copy work either from what we’ve read or from his narration as told to me, directly onto an illustration he creates from the material. These will all go into a binder, either laminated or in plastic sleeves, creating a nice record of what he’s learned over time. (I got this wonderful idea from Jodi’s Mockabee‘s recent contribution to a Wild and Free bundle.)



So on to what we’ve been doing this year! Right now, Seth’s Grade 1 work consists of the following:

Brave Writer for language arts and writing
Quiver of Arrows is a literature-based language arts curriculum and we’re loving it! We’re nearly finished with Charlotte’s Web now. I like the way it ties spelling, grammar, literary elements and copywork directly into the text of a really great book. We’re also about to start doing the projects from Jot It Down!, which is a project-based creative writing program.
We also do some memorization, written on our blackboard (door)—poems or verses taken from books such as The Child’s Garden of Verses. Sometimes I just pull out a book of poetry and read, and I’m hoping to create little more of a daily ritual around it. Brave Writer recommends poetry tea times, and I love that idea. It sounds peaceful, but I wonder how it would actually go with my two boys!

The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Teaching Reading for reading and phonics
Along with early readers from the library and our own collection. Some of his favorites have been the Piggy and Elephant series, Dr. Seuss, Frog and Toad, the Little Bear series, and Bob Books.

Math Mammoth for math
We also play math games—Seth is loving 4-Way Countdown right now—and he learns and practices so much math in everyday life, through clocks, money, measuring, and counting in various situations. I purchased the Loving Living Math e-book recently and am hoping to learn more ways to bring math conversations into our daily lives. In our Waldorf circle times, I’m planning to teach skip-counting songs to help prepare for teaching multiplication. Overall, I want them to see math as fun, interesting and relevant, which is something I never really experienced as a child.

Science Lapbooks from Elemental Science for science
We’re currently working through the solar system, and will likely move into a long and involved study of plants after this, along with medicinal herbs, foraging, and gardening. I can’t wait, and will definitely post about it once we’re there!


We also do nature study for science. In late 2014 I started a local nature homeschool group, “Wild + Free South Florida”, and we meet weekly. Much of what we do is free play, but always in natural areas, and the kids are constantly finding and studying animals, bugs, birds, rocks, plants, etc. They learn through being immersed in nature, and from each other. Sometimes we will then further research a specific thing we saw, and draw it in our nature journals at home. The boys are also part of the Wild Explorers Club, and work through assignments and earn badges, which they absolutely love.
Speaking of Wild + Free, I can’t stress enough what an amazing source of information, encouragement, and inspiration the international W+F community has been for in homeschooling. I’m so grateful!



Beautiful Feet Books – Early American History Primary, for history
This is a great history curriculum based entirely on wonderful, engaging literature rather than dry textbooks. I’ve always preferred learning history this way, through the perspective of a person living in that time period, so this immediately drew me. We’ve started with the first half of the Early American History pack and are gradually making our way through. Sometimes I revise or skip certain questions in the teaching guide to better fit my worldview, but the books themselves are great.

Teach Them Spanish, grade 1 for foreign language
My mother-in-law, whose first language is Spanish, works with Seth each week. We bought this book so she’d have a guide on what to work on. Isaac picks some of it up as well, through observation and in everyday communication with my husband’s grandmother who only speaks Spanish. We’re incredibly lucky that our kids get to spend time native speakers, which is truly the best way to learn a language!


Our days are full of art. They have free access to almost all art supplies, which can be messy but leads to a lot of child-led creativity. They cut, paste, fold, paint, and draw.
We also attend a pottery class each week, so beautifully taught by my friend Lani of Avenue Pottery (I photographed her gorgeous pieces for her website!). Seth has developed quite a talent for the wheel, and I love it too! Now we’re hoping to have one of our own someday.
Seth asked for a loom for his birthday after seeing some giant ones in a fiber arts shop in Asheville this winter, so we purchased a wooden lap loom for him. He’s still working on his first piece—he’ll work for an hour or two one day and then let it sit for a couple weeks before picking it up again, but he really enjoys it and focuses so acutely when he’s working. He also loves to finger knit, and has his own balls of yarn that he frequently pulls out to make chains with. He really wants to learn to crochet and keeps asking me to teach him, so we’ll likely attempt that soon


As I look through this list, it’s really only part of the picture of what homeschooling is for us. The curriculums and books we use are only a small part of what we do. Most of the time, our kids play. They play at home and outdoors, with toys and sticks, household objects and cardboard boxes. They imagine whole worlds and stories to play out. They are enjoying being children, and it is beautiful. They play, and they also observe us, their parents, as we work and care for them and the baby and our home. They help with cooking and cleaning, and are gradually becoming able to do those things on their own. They ask me literally two thousand questions a day. When I don’t know the answer, we look it up together. Sometimes an entire day of school will be focused on something Seth asked about—we ditch everything else and follow his interest (because we retain best what we’re actually interested in learning anyway). And then they play some more. And in the process, they are learning incredibly valuable things that no school curriculum could ever teach them.


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The Process of Simplicity


I think I’ve held back from writing here very often because I haven’t known where to begin. There are so many topics I want to write about, and yet none that I have polished and totally figured out. I’m curious about so much, but rarely an expert. But rather than getting overwhelmed and running away (again), I’m going to just pick one thing and talk about it. And then another, and another, without having to map out some kind of organized game plan ahead of time. (That’s probably what most bloggers do anyway. I most likely overthink it.)

So today, simplicity is on my mind. I feel like it’s become a somewhat overused term. It’s thrown around a lot—”live simply” or “I’m simplifying”—but what does it mean? Personally, when I consider the idea of simplicity I picture an all-encompassing lifestyle, steeped in an appreciation for the beauty of everyday moments. I envision a home that is fairly minimal, but more importantly, contains only what is useful or beautiful (and hopefully both). I desire to carefully consider what we bring into our home, and what we keep here. I want quality over quantity. In a culture as materialistic as ours is, possessions are definitely one of the biggest obstacles to a simpler life. But there is so much more to it than only stuff. It applies to the way we spend our time, the way we eat, the way we treat illness and what we clean our homes with. My goal is not only to declutter, but to create an atmosphere in my home that is simple and peaceful and makes space for joy, creativity, movement, and the pursuit of knowledge.

We have come a long way in this area, but still have so far we can go. It is a process, and happens on a continuum. Every time we’re faced with the option to bring another new thing into our lives, we can exercise simplicity. Do I need this? What will it add to my life? Will I still want it in a week? a month? a year? Is there a version of this item that will last longer, work better, or be more aesthetically pleasing? How was it made—where, and by whom? These are all questions I aim to consider when making purchases.

This has meant moving away from plastics and disposable items, and choosing to pay more, once, for something that will last rather than opting for a cheap item that will break or wear out.

Along with seemingly everyone and their mother (am I right?) I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up  by Marie Kondo last year. In case you aren’t familiar, this book takes you step-by-step through the process of editing down the things you own, based on the simple question “Does this spark joy?” So I read this, and then proceeded to “Konmarie” our home, and over the course of a few weeks we carted off about two pickup trucks worth of stuff to the local non-profit we donate to (which gives directly to the families of farm workers in the area—I prefer this option over Goodwill/Salvation Army because I know these things are being used by people in need). We also discarded several large black trash bags of unusable items like broken toys, clothes worn to rags, and so so many bottles of expired or half-used cosmetics and toiletries from under the sink. It was absurd. It was rather shocking to see that we’d been holding on to so much that we didn’t need, want, or use anymore.

That whole process definitely made an impact on me and caused me to consider our habits of consumption. But I’m still training myself, and unfortunately I’ve still purchased/accumulated some things since then that ended up being mistakes. Like I said, it’s a process. Every few months or so I get the “declutter” itch again, and I sweep through the house collecting items to get rid of. As the seasons change, some toys stop getting played with, some books are outgrown or could serve someone else much better, some clothes are just not getting any love and therefore not earning their place in the drawer or closet.

I recently thoroughly enjoyed reading Simple Matters by Erin Boyle. I think every once in a while I need a good infusion of simplicity inspiration in book form. This one is just beautiful, and has me thinking all over again about the beauty and quality of each thing we own, and the social and environmental impact of it’s production and eventual discard. And so the process of creating a more peaceful and minimal home and life continues. I’ll keep you posted.

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hello. i’m still figuring this out.

lanisplants-1And by this, I mean life. motherhood. business. health. homeschooling. marriage. everything. For some reason today I felt the need to start with a blank slate, and for some reason that took the form of a blog post in my mind and here I am in this sorely neglected little space, full already with thoughts from former versions of myself. I felt like coming back to it, making it new again. what will this be? where will it lead? is blogging dead, irrelevant, obsolete? why do I need this when I can just post all my thoughts all the time on instagram? I honestly have no idea. But I feel inspired to be here, and to start, and to write for myself at the very least.

If you’re reading this, welcome, and thank you. I’ll be back soon.

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