our journey from the beginning - our family

(I wrote this post 2 months ago and was waiting to take a family pic to publish it. you know, one of those nice family pics where we all look normal… not all picking our noses and our wedgies! we haven’t done it yet so i’ve decided to post this as a picture-less post. if you follow me on instagram - you know what we look like ;). will update soon with updated family pics)

  • our journey - our family - this is a little blog journal of our family life and how we got to where we are today.

I (Melissa) am a southern girl - I love the warmth and sunshine and spending time outdoors and grew up mainly in Oklahoma but I call Texas my home as well. I have a twin sister and an older half brother and younger half brother. my mom was a single mom raising my sister and I, and worked her butt off to do it. Our family was all sorts of drama growing up as I know many families are and though it was tough at times, I don’t regret any of it as it is part of what made me who I am today.

my husband was born and raised in Mexico and has 11 brothers and sisters (and I thought raising 4 was tough!). he is seriously the best father to our kids and I enjoy watching his love pour out of his heart for those tiny humans. he is one of those guys that takes pride in his work and gives 110% every day when he is working. this past year he quit his good paying management job to pursue his dream of owning a food truck and I couldn’t be more proud. so if you’re ever in the area and are looking for some true Mexican style food - come see us 😀..

the hubs and I met while both working at a pub in Dallas. he was back there cooking and I was waitressing and all I remember is how dreamy his eyes looked back there behind the kitchen area. he says I flirted with him but HE flirted with me first.. as least that’s what I remember… we may never know the truth. next thing you know we were hard core dating and then a couple years later we got married. I know it’s cliche but my wedding day is one of the best days of my life. we had family come in that haven’t even spoken to each other in ages. we had grandparents dancing with each other who didn’t even speak the same language, everyone was just so happy.

married and living in Texas and overall just happily enjoying life. at this point I was a manager at a big corporate job and Ernesto was a manager for a restaurant. we both often came home late at night and one night my life forever changes. as I parked my car and got out, maybe about 2am, some guys came up and held me at gunpoint. the rest is quite a blur but I was able to get away and everything turned out to be ok. I was shooken up for quite awhile but my husband helped me get through it. I still get leery if I am out late for some reason, or really anytime I am out by myself and getting into or out of a car, especially at night. it’s just one of those things that makes me super aware of my surroundings.

so on a good note now, we find out we are expecting! I woke up one day and my boobs felt big and sore. my boobs never felt big or sore, even during my monthly visit, so this was eye opening to me. immediately I started trying to remember my last period and then that’s when I knew I must have been pregnant. took a test and sure enough, it was time for our first baby! I gave my hubs the pee stick and he may even still have it today 😂. my first pregnancy was pretty much a breeze except for the delivery. my son did not want to come out and after laboring for what seemed like forever, his heart rate went way down and gave us a bad scare so we rushed to a c-section. he had the biggest cone head when he was born! he also had his cord wrapped around his neck 3 times which they assume was the stress issue. he weighed 6lbs 6 oz and had the skinniest legs ever.

fast forward 2.5 years and we welcomed our 2nd baby boy. also an easy pregnancy but again delivery not so great. the anesthesiologist had to climb on top of me to help push him out during the c-section. he was stuck in there. why is it my babies don’t like to come out? all turned out well and he was my biggest baby at 7lbs 1 oz. i’ll never forget the moment him and brother met, sweetest scene.

when my 2nd was almost 2, we decided to make the move to Colorado. my husband had a brother here and we had visited many times and really loved the scenery. there was a job opening for a promotion at my company and it happen to be in colorado so I thought what the heck, lets apply. I didn’t think i’d get it but I did so it encouraged our move. funny thing is, less than a year after that, I quit that job to start doing newborn photography. it was just one of those moments where that big corporate job consumed me and I wanted to spend more time with my kids. the pay was so well and that’s all that kept me there but then money wasn’t a motivation for me anymore. it was a scary transition. but when you realize how you can have less material things in life to compensate for more family time and more things you love, it really all makes sense. and i’m very lucky and happy that in our situation it worked out well.

my newborn photography business grew pretty quick and I loved every moment of it. getting to hold and snuggle fresh new babies yet not have to do the late night feedings and such, such a dream job. I am often asked how I learned the art of photographing newborns and honestly it’s the passion that drove me to be successful. I studied and studied and studied photography (google and you-tube!) and then got to play with friends babies. thankful for friends that trusted me. then I offered some super low price sessions so that I could get my hands on some strangers babies and once I was able to get positive feedback on those, I gained the confidence to build my business. i’m just telling you all this because no matter what the new adventure is you’re interested in, if you have the passion and the desire to learn, you can make it yours! I am no longer doing the newborn photography now as my instagram influencer took off and that allowed me to be home with my kids even more. also with helping my hubs get his food truck off the ground, something had to give. I do hope to possibly do it again maybe when the kids are older as it was such a rewarding job.

after that newborn biz had started, 3rd baby boy came along..6lbs 6oz, same as 1st.. another seemingly easy pregnancy from what I remember (I know I am very lucky that my 3 first pregnancies were fairly easy and eventful and that there are many deserving ladies out there who deserve to have healthy pregnancies and hold their sweet babies and just haven’t gotten to do so yet. my heart goes out to you).

3 boys in a row, I was made to be a boy mom, I could feel it. I had so much fun raising these little munchkins. at the house we were in, we had a creek behind us that led to a big park. some of my favorite moments is taking them out there and letting them be boys and splash around and run and bike and just have a carefree time.

my 2nd boy had some stomach issues, nothing major but it made me do a lot of research into more healthy options for living. this is the moment in my life (and therefor families life) where we moved to more organic, less pesticides and toxics, more natural and healthy way of living. I would research day in and day out and just couldn’t believe some of the items that goes into our bodies. our big step for that was deciding to raise our own animals. so we moved out to some land and got started. it wasn’t just the animal aspect but having a place where my boys could be outside and run around absorbing vitamin D and building their immune system was important to me. so with the animals, I am one of those that just dives into and then learn what I can while in the process. I don’t mind doing some research beforehand but I guess you could say I am just better at hands on and being thrown into the moment. I looked up some goat breeders, went and selected our first 2 goats and then our farm life started. I picked goats cause they are easy to raise and would provide healthy milk for us. goat milk (specifically fresh from a farmer, not the stuff at the grocery store) has so many amazing benefits and luckily for many who are lactose intolerant, they can handle goat milk. and fyi, it takes just like regular cows milk when raised and milked correctly (unlike the nasty goat milk from the store, trust me!).

so now at this post of our story we are living in the country on 40 acres and just enjoying nature and sunshine and farm animal raising (along with sometimes high winds and super cold weather - but those are the things that keep us strong I suppose ;)). and here comes along pregnancy number 4! we thought we were done after 3 but alas did nothing to permanently stop that so we got pregnant. I didn’t even know until I was 12 weeks along, long story for another post maybe. I started to figure it out and we booked a private scan just to see if there was actually a baby in there. I still wasn’t quite sure and since I had miscarried the previous year, I was a little scared to find out I believe. hubs and I went together (older 2 boys were at school and youngest boy was at daycare) and not only did we see a little baby with a strong heartbeat but we found out it was a girl. A GIRL! not only did I not know I was pregnant, not expecting to get pregnant again, and a boy mom - now I was pregnant with a little princess. shocked is an understatement. so that pregnancy pretty much flew by. being 37 at the time, I was advanced maternal age but my doctor didn’t make me do any extra tests unless I wanted to (and I avoided all). towards the end we had lots of ultrasounds and non stress tests as her head was measuring too small and they were worried about overall growth. those 4-6 weeks were the worst pregnancy weeks of my life. those tests and doctor worries led me to be worried all the time at home. needless to say when she was born, all those worries subsided as she was perfectly fine. she weighed 6lbs 3oz and a headful of hair (and hairy arms and back!). bringing a girl into this world has been so fun. she is strong and fierce and sassy and stubborn and cute. all pretty pink things wrapped up into a wonderful busy package.

now at this point in our story, we are rounded out - a family of 6 - nice even number. still raising the goats and chickens and sometimes cows. when our daughter was almost 3, we ended up getting 2 cows. one will be our future milk cow and the other we are raising for meat. watching those cows grow up for being as small as our large dog to now towering over us has been a real treat. they are so cute and actually really easy to take care of. they are just about a year old currently. we hope to get the female pregnant sometime this year and then after she delivers, we will milk her for our milk needs as well.

now to current time, Feb 2019, we are waiting on 14 goats to deliver their babies. we have 6 due over the next 3 weeks and then the remaining 8 are due beginning of May. I am also due myself… AYE…. didn’t I just say we were well rounded as a family of 6 ….and I believe i’ve said twice that we were done previously! WELL, God had other plans and I have accepted that and now I am giddy to hold another baby in my arms. I am due this late August and still kind of in shock over the whole news. 7 confirmed pregnancies yet this is the 1st one that i’ve ever felt sick. it’s been horrible. I made sure the doctor looked around to make sure there wasn’t 2 in there. maybe it’s my age (40!) but this first trimester has kicked my butt. and again, I know there’s so many deserving ladies out there that are still waiting to hold their babies so I am thankful and blessed to be able to do this.

that’s where we are today! if you’ve stayed with reading this post to the end, I thank you and would love to hear from you. my goal this year is to share more about our everyday and our farm life here in this space. I want to help others with sharing mom hacks, funny stories, homeschooling, homesteading, and whatever is else happening in our lives. thanks for hanging out and God Bless!

our homeschool curriculum - multiple ages


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you are thinking about homeschooling and maybe you've already taken the plunge, but you google homeschool curriculum and it gives you a headache. I know, I've been there! there's a gazillion options which is a good and bad thing.. like when you go to a restaurant and the menu is 30 pages long... choices are great but too many and you feel overwhelmed. but at the same time, every child and every family is different so choices need to be there so that we can cater exactly what we need for our individual cicumstances.

I'm not a fan of the one and all curriculums - I think they can be great but it kind of goes against one of the reasons we chose to homeschool - to really dive into each childs educational needs and not a cookie cutter approach. because of this, we use a variety of items. how did I choose the items?... I put on a bandanna and said eeny meeny miny moe.. KIDDING! I did lots of research (read: googling) and explored all of our libraries (you can find many homeschool curriculums at your library so that you can check it out and see if you think it fits). I reviewed certain styles that we really like (though we don't follow a particular style to the T - some examples like Classical, Waldorf, Charlotte Mason (probably our favorite), Montessori, and Eclectic) and just pulled the ones that sang to my heart the most. 

Reading in all forms is a main part of our learning and as much hands on and experienced based as possible is how we roll. because of this, you'll see a lot of our curriculum is vague but thats my favorite about schooling my children. I get to see what they want to learn and how they learn best and really maximize those. if theres one thing I recommend to new homeschooling families - its to read together and read aloud and read often. so much learning along those pages!

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now lets talk money - you can spend as much as you want or as little as you want when homeschooling your children! I will go into more depth with this in another post but just bear in mind that libraries and co-ops and local homeschool communities can really help you out. our children have the desire and want to learn naturally built inside of them, it doesn't take expensive curriculum to pull that out and nourish that knowledge!

ok enough preface, lets talk specifics..

keep in mind that this is just what I use and what works for our family... just a resource for you to look into. my children are 2, 5, 9, and 11.  I don't 'schedule' anything for my 2 year old as play is all she needs. my 5 year old, my main goal was getting him to learn how to read. now that he can read - we will be expanding his curriculum and I'll post about it as it happens. my older 2 are where most the curriculum is at. pretty much everything we do besides some specific language / phonics and their math, are together. when it comes to history, science, and a lot of the reading, the whole 'lesson' applies to all 3 boys. the youngest boy (5) will listen and then draw what he learned. with each age older, they get a little more added on but the core learning is applied to everyone. you'll see that they ask questions and really dive into a knowledge that applies to their individual level. there are occasions when we get off on tangents to tackle something for my older boys but often everyone listens (they may just not grasp it quite yet!).. that's a huge part I love, how we can actually nourish each individuals learning needs because we're at home and there's not 20 other students to tend to. 

our curriculum this year (in no particular order)...

teach your child to read in 100 lessons - I went for this one after reading all the rave reviews. even after receiving it in the mail I was a littles hesitant because it looks boring - but it works! it only took a few lessons in before it clicked for my son.

five in a row - loving learning - I couldn't find this one on amazon to link for you. you can just get the main spiral book and then acquire each individual book from your library or a local homeschooling family.  I love the concept of this... it takes particular books and helps you walk through the stories with your children and then basically analyze those stories and at the same time that teaches many, and probably most, subjects right there in each book. we now apply it to books that aren't even in 'the program'. I'll grab books from the library and we read them together, then they read individually, and then they write out a summary, and then we go through each subject (math, English, history, geography, science, etc.) and see what we learned from the book.

spectrum - I like the writing, language arts, and vocabulary from these - we do these by grade levels. this is one of those areas where if you need 'busy work', this works well. it's a worksheet type learning

Primary language lessons - I like how these are short lessons

the story of the world - there's 4 books and we basically try to do one book a year. all kids are involved as we work through each section. I don't buy the workbook with it but you definitely can get that supplement. we come up with our own work from each lesson. the youngest draws and does crafts in relation to the learnings that day and the older 2 also draw but we add to it with summaries and quizzes and such.

teaching textbooks - there’s mixed reviews on this one but we love it and my kids are thriving in math with it. this is currently their only ‘computer learning’ except for some research papers my oldest is doing .

play the forest school way - this is a nature games, crafts, and skills, book. its really fun to take along with you on your nature walks and hikes. we spend so much time outdoors and I feel like we learn so much by exploring nature, wether its our front yard or the museum or the national forest - all of it has opportunities to soak in.

lyrical earth science - (we're doing the geology one right now). with science, we work to apply so much of everyday life into our learning. I also love to google and youtube and pinterest easy and fun science experiments as those are favorites amongst my kiddos. ***we are lucky to also have a small farm where so much life based learning takes place. my kids can tell you all about how baby animals are born and the sac they're in and the placenta and all kinds of birthing details***

journals - I buy the cheap spiral notebooks and have the kids journal as much as possible. a journal that is school based and off what they learned (especially those days when it was all experience or outdoor based), a nature journal to take with us when we adventure out, and a personal journal that is all their own but sometimes I'll give the prompts.

chalkboard - we do so much here and this, along with our library, are the sweetest learning spots in our home. we used to do a letter each week and write the capital and lower case on the board and then every child would join in and draw items that started with that letter. was fun for all ages and maybe we'll start doing it again! our chalkboard was really easy to put up and if you want, I'll do a quick tutorial on how we did it.

our everyday world - not a book :) - taking your children out into the world and adventuring and sharing your experiences creates a wonderful learning environment while also bonding as a family. kids don’t need a classroom and a desk to nurture their drive to learn!

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hopefully I didn't go too random on you! leave a comment below on what you're struggling with when it comes to picking out your curriculum. or maybe what you're struggling with as a whole on your start with your homeschooling journey. maybe you have some things that work for you, feel free to comment to share with the others. and most importantly of all - have fun with your kids!

 

some homeschool tips to help your sanity


homeschool is not always roses and butterflies (and festive pumpkins).. but when it is, it’s golden. I'm working on an 'advice to new homeschoolers' post but until then I wanted to throw out a few tips that really help me stay sane. homeschool does not have to be stressful and honestly one of the main reasons we do it is to live a more simple life without the hustle and bustle of everyday rushing and spending all day in a box. homeschooling with your children should be a bond of fun and educational times. of course there will be some hurdles and some moments of frustrations but when those times come - it just means it's time to step away for a minute. at those moments just get up and walk away and go bake some cookies or hang out at the park, those are the joys and leeways of being in control of how we spend our time while during homeschool.

so here's a few tips and I hope they help you in some way!

  1. spend time outside every.single.day 
  2. read aloud often (even with older kids!)
  3. don’t try to be like other homeschool families. your family is unique, just do you
  4. don’t overload with course material, kids need to learn basics and habits. everyday life already teaches them so much if they are equipped with observations and opportunities. 
  5. learning goes beyond books and pencils 
  6. have fun and truly enjoy your kids 

lovely chalkboards provided by chalk full of design . my kids love these. we have a huge chalkboard at home but these are really nice for individual work where they are free to do it elsewhere plus they are amazing during travel and trips! 

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are you homeschooling? what helps you stay sane?