Lifestyle

Orion’s Birthday Party | It Takes A Village

IMG_3218

When I had Rowan, I had this mentality that I could do it all. I didn’t need help because I was super mom. Whatever the situation, I could handle it by myself. Dear new Moms or ladies nearing this stage of life. THIS.IS.A.LIE! Looking back now I think, why did I do that to myself? Why have we made it so that Mom’s need to feel like they have it all together, all the time?? That we shouldn’t ever need to ask for help. Why??? Why do we feel like this? Why is help seen as such a negative thing nowadays? I know I felt like if I asked for help I was somehow not as good of a mom as other women? Ladies! This just isn’t true. You know what is soooooo freeing? Breaking from this cycle. I was at an Ergo Baby event over the summer and the swag bags were in these awesome tote bags from Savage Seeds that had screen printed on the front “It takes a village”. I started carrying it around as my purse these past few months and the more I noticed the saying, the more those words have struck a cord with me. It takes a village. It.takes.a.village. Let’s say it one more time… IT TAKES A VILLAGE!!

Raising kids is no joke. It’s beautifully hard in the best kind of way but we don’t have to feel like we have it all figured out. I’ve been realizing more and more this year just how grateful I am for “my village”. The women that pour into me, that do life with me, that encourage, that love, that speak the sometimes hard truths, that are the extra ears, eyes, hands helping, watching and loving over my children. This is what it’s all about. Close, dear friends that are there to be your village through the thick and the thin. Who see you in your best motherhood moments and the worst. Who have your back and are there to help in any situation. I am beyond grateful for the ladies (and their kids and husbands) I call my friends. I see our kids playing together as we share tears and laughter and joys over motherhood and it just warms my heart.

I promise this all has to do with Orion’s birthday party! You see, the first birthday party is really much more for the parents then the baby in my opinion. I see it as a celebration of your village. The people that surrounded you in the first year of that littles ones life. Whether it’s your 1st, 3rd or 5th the first year is all kinds of tough. So we invited all our dearest of friends and we partied to celebrate our friendships and our sweet little Orion a few weekends ago. It meant so much to have everyone there, they all have made such an important impact on our lives. We couldn’t do this without them. Thank you dear friends, you know who you are. XOXOXOXO

I went with a woodland theme for the party since we call Orion “Boo Boo Bear”, but also because Orion is a hunter in Greek mythology. We kept it as simple as we could so we could spend more time hanging out. We had it at a local park, ordered pizzas, played games, sang happy birthday and even had a sweet “after party” at a friends house. It was a great, great day!

IMG_3192

IMG_3194

IMG_3195

IMG_3203

IMG_3201

IMG_3207

IMG_3235

IMG_3239

IMG_3252

IMG_3272

IMG_3285

IMG_3289

IMG_3294

IMG_3298

IMG_3301

IMG_3307^^an epic game of sharks and minnows

Orion Turns One!!

IMG_2943

IMG_2894

If I am honest, this birthday was a hard one for me. I think when there’s a greater chance that it’s your last baby, everything feels so final. It’s the last this, and the last that and the last little baby who will turn one (sad face). I am definitely looking forward to all the new stages in our kids lives as they get older. However, something about the baby not being a baby anymore had me very emotional on his birthday. We started the day off with a bang! (or maybe a pop!) by filling his crib with balloons. He loved it, then wasn’t sure, then loved it, then his sisters got in and he wasn’t sure again and then he loved it again. Typical baby style. The kids played in his crib with him forever! I love the pictures we captured of them. My favorite thing this past year has been to watch all their relationships grow. Siblings are the best! It’s just the sweetest thing a mama can witness. Going from 2 to 3 was an adjustment for sure! More so than I thought but once we got there and things felt like the new normal… Oooooooh it’s been such a sweet spot to be!! I love having 3 kids.

For Kev’s birthday last year we got him a Micro scooter, then for Christmas we got each of the girls one as well. For Mother’s Day guess what I got from the kids? You guessed it… A Micro scooter. Soooooooo it only seemed fitting to get our little Boo a scooter for his big day. He loves it!! Micro scooters are the best!

In the afternoon, we decided to bring Orion to get his very first ice cream! Yay, for ice cream! We headed to the playground from there for some family fun before Rowan had gymnastics. Everything was going great, lots of laughs and games until well, Orion had an accident that left us at the ER (he is totally ok! I’ll just put that out there first before I continue). But, Oh man! Poor dude. Not the way you want to spend your first birthday. There were plenty of tears from everyone that afternoon. We were all pretty scared there for a moment. It was the first time one of our kids have gotten hurt so badly that an ER trip was needed. It was definitely not something I enjoyed or something I will look forward to happening again that’s for sure. Whew! Totally made me realize how in control I think I am of everything, especially my kids. I’ve never been a parent that’s been overly protective. Kids will be kids, right? After we got home though, I felt so full of fear over what could happen next to one of them. Ahhh, what a terrible way to live! I spent a lot of time that night praying for peace and that I could trust that my kids are also God’s kids and that He is in control. He has a purpose and a plan for each and everyone of them. That doesn’t mean there won’t be anymore ER trips (my friend texted me that night and said “welcome to boyhood” Hahaha!!) but knowing God has a greater plan definitely gives me such reassurance.

Ok, back to our little Starman (you can sing David Bowie now if you would like). Orion you have the best personality. You laughter is contagious! You love to laugh at your sisters, to push cars all around the house, to hear the sounds of big trucks, to climb the stairs, to crawl through small spaces, to go down slides, to get into allllll the trouble, to push your scooter around, and to eat snacks. I never knew my life was missing a little boy until you showed up Boo Boo. Everyday you have spent with us has been such a blessing. We can’t wait to find out what this year has in store for us all!! Love you!!

IMG_2901

IMG_2939

IMG_2914

IMG_2908

IMG_2978

IMG_2974

IMG_2970

IMG_2967

IMG_3028

IMG_3023

IMG_3018

IMG_3016

IMG_3007

IMG_2992

IMG_3029

Orion’s Scooter | Rowan’s Scooter | Finley’s Scooter | Jen’s Shirt | Similar Shoes | Jen’s Jeans | Jen’s Watch

The Hyde | Glen Falls, NY

P8110340
Late in the summer, the kids and I headed up to Glens Falls one day to check out The Hyde. It’s this super cute art museum in a beautiful historic house. I had never been there before but was excited to explore around. It was a beautifully warm August day and we made the most of it. We visited the museum, stopped at a coffee shop and got drinks and snacks and enjoyed downtown a little bit.

The current exhibit was woodcuts and engravings by Albrecht Dürer and etchings by Rembrandt. It was awesome! If you didn’t know, I am slightly obsessed with all things printmaking. I took every class I could in college. The Hyde had wonderful worksheets for the kids to work on based on the art they were seeing. They learned all about etchings, lines, crosshatching and monograms. Rowan and Finley had a blast working on them and especially trying to find all the Dürer monograms with the magnifying glasses. I will say, I did feel overly watched (which I get, but…) by security but everyone was nice enough about bringing 3 small children to the museum. It’s a good lesson for them though! I like bringing the kids to museums not only to introduce them to beautiful works of art, but because they have to learn self control as well. They can’t run, yell or climb. They have to be respectful and understand there is a time and place to get crazy. It’s good for them, even if we always do get into trouble a little bit. Hahhaha! Always. We always get in trouble at least once.

Do you like brining your kids to museums? We’ve been going a lot lately. I feel like I have 2 more museum posts waiting to be posted… MassMoCA and Storm King coming up!

P8110342
P8110345

P8110347

P8110354

P8110359

P8110360

P8110361

P8110364

P8110365

P8110366

P8110371

P8110374

P8110350

Untitled

Untitled

Our 2016/2017 Homeschool Plan

Untitled
Untitled

our first official day of homeschool

Ahhhhhh I feel like I can finally take a small deep breath and relax just a tiny bit over this whole homeschool thing (maybe that’s because I am about half way through a pretty strong but totally delicious margarita at the moment, but who’s to say??). It’s been such a major stress for the past few months. All in a good way if that makes sense, but it’s just been a lot to process, plan, figure out, order, set up and get started. THERE.IS.JUST.SO.MUCH.OUT.THERE.TO.CHOOSE.FROM! That was my biggest stress. How did I know what exactly to choose?? I knew from the beginning we did not fit into an all-in-one packaged curriculum sort of deal. First thing first, I did lots (LOTS!) of reading and researching on what kind of teaching philosophy I thought felt right. That was a good starting point. It helped me focus on where I wanted us to head and what my school goals were for our family. This book will be super helpful if you are just starting out! We’ve been following classical education for the past 2 years and have really loved it but as I started reading more and more, I became drawn to the philosophies of Charlotte Mason. I listened to every podcast from A Delectable Education and felt so pumped by everything they were saying. I just LOVE what Charlotte Mason has to say about education, it felt so right! Another good resource and one that I’ve really loved is the At Home podcast. Those ladies have A LOT of wisdom to share on where to start and the up’s and down’s of homeschooling.

Once I decided that Charlotte Mason was the path we were going to head down, I spent countless hours on the Ambleside Online and Simply Charlotte Mason websites. I printed out the Year 1 schedule from Ambleside as the starting point for our year. I read so many reviews raving about the booklists that I knew we couldn’t go wrong. I did switch out a few things that I think work better but still have stuck to a Charlotte Mason type curriculum.

You can find the Year 1 Schedule here.

We follow it exactly for our natural history/geography, read-a-louds/extra reading and then parts of it for our literature (I’ll explain below).

Where I made some changes are:
Math: We use Mammoth Math and Life of Fred

Science: We’re doing nature studies. The topics sort of come up naturally as we spend a lot of time outside. We collect items and bring them back to journal our findings. For example, last week we went to a farm and learned about bees. When we got home we did a journal page diagramming a bee and common nectar sources. However, we do have this guidebook from Simple Charlotte Mason that’s helpful if you wanted a little guidance. The point of our science time is to spent a lot of time outside just exploring and being surrounded by nature.

English/reading/grammar: We are using English Lessons Through Literature and Reading Lessons Through Literature. We love them so far. This is the only reason why we aren’t following the Ambleside schedule exactly in these subjects. A lot of it overlaps with what we need to read daily for our English Lessons Through Literature work. We do lots of narration and copywork based on what we are reading. We also work on memorizing a poem. 1 or 2 per month- right now our favorites are from Robert Louis Stevenson. I really highly recommend the Ambleside booklists- such wonderful books to read to your kids.

History: Beautiful Feet: History Through Literature. For 1st and 2nd grade you use the Early American History Primary and Teaching Character Primary. I am in love with this curriculum so far! LOVE IT!

Bible Study: We read a chapter from The Bible Story by Arthur Maxwell and then we read Training Hearts, Teaching Minds everyday. Each week we memorize a new bible verse, as well as work on a hymn study(probably one per quarter). I am not following a specific hymn study, I am just working through old hymns that mean something to our family. The bible verses are either from Finley’s preschool curriculum or a bible verse from The Rizers because we love that cd.

Each quarter we will choose an artist and composer to study. Right now we’re learning about Degas and Bach. I take out all the books I can find and we read about them and then study the work as much as we can. We listen to Bach during the day, we paint pictures like Degas, we visit museums, etc…

We also have a monthly handicraft we’ll work on. This month and maybe next we are working on sewing. Rowan has been begging me to teach her how to sew, so that’s where we started. I like picking things based on what is sparking her interest at the time.

Miss Finley: she goes along for the ride with most of what Rowan is doing. She listens to all the stories and has the same memory work for bible verses and poems. I just don’t force any of it on her, we take it slow and if she wants to participate she is more than welcome. She of course wants to be a part of it all though! I do follow The Peaceful Preschool Program with her. It’s such a wonderful curriculum! I can’t say enough good stuff about it. I didn’t want some crazy, complex curriculum to do with her. She’s still so small! This is the perfect balance of good literature, gentle learning and fun activities.

Another lovely resource I highly recommend is the Wild and Free community. I love everything they share!!

Well that’s about it for now. We’re only a month in, but we are really loving it so far. It’s been such a blessing. I’ll write another post soon with more specifics of our daily schedule and how it all works out with Orion in the mix.

getting our hands dirty (and the carpet too!)…

Untitled

We started our new homeschool journey last week. What a whirlwind! It’s something that’s so very near and dear to my heart though. We homeschool for a lot of reasons, but one of the main reasons is that I want the girls to take charge of their education. I want to raise passionate, life long learners. For us though, that requires them to help out. A lot. From the time they wake up, to the time they go to bed, they are a part of our day and our daily tasks. Helping making meals, cleaning, laundry, and well, anything that sparks their interest. We also do a lot of art projects and handicrafts where I try not to step in to help. I have a tendency to help and do the next step because it might “make a mess”. We quite literally get our hands dirty with education these days. It means saying yes a lot more than maybe I would like, in an effort to help them learn and experience more. If they are interested in something, then we are going to explore it!

For someone who likes an orderly, clean house, it’s been a lesson in letting go. To see the greater purpose in all the little spills and messes. It will pay off in the long run right? hahaah. That’s what I keep telling myself. Do the work now and soon you will have kids who know how to care and clean up after themselves. Who love to try new things, and know the mess is worth it, but also know how to tidy it up. You know what makes it easier though? Having a good rug and carpet cleaner! Our school room rugs are two of my most favorite rugs in the house. They’re what I call my “thrifting prize possessions”. I found both at the Habitat Restore for a steal and well, I love them a little more than I should. I may have shed a tear (I kid, I kid) when Finley spilt yellow curry powder all over the rug this morning as she was counting spices and learning to screw each of the caps on (working on our fine motor skills over here for PreK). She then worked hard at “cleaning” it up. Which of course was great and I am glad she took ownership over her spill. However, we all know what a spill looks like after a 3.5 yrs old cleans it up. It was a big yellow circle smeared all over the carpet. doh!

Enter STAINMASTER Carpet Care. We teamed up with the brand to try their line of carpet care products, which are specifically designed to treat stain-resistant, nylon, and polyester carpets and rugs. My favorite part is that they are also designed to remove tough stains with out leaving a sticky residue. That sticky residue is the worst! Stainmaster Carpet Care leaves behind an invisible shield of protection to protect against future messes. It’s made it so much easier for this homeschooling Mama be open to allllllllll the new learning experiences in our day to day. Now when Finley wants to help make her own lunch with fresh berries and a smoothie, am all like “Sure! You can do it! You can even have a picnic out in the school room on my favorite rug!”.

Cheers to the freedom of not caring about the messes!

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

This post was sponsored by STAINMASTER Carpet Care. Be sure to check out their wide variety of products. Thanks!

Visiting Vancouver

Untitled

Wow! I just came on to post some pictures and realized, whoops! it’s been a whole month since i’ve been on here. How does that happen. I know we’re all like “time goes by so fast” but man! time goes by so fast. Hahahaha doh!

Anyway, the last week of August Orion and I hopped a plane and headed out to Vancouver to visit my sister. She’s lived out there for awhile now, but I’ve never had the chance to visit. What a beautiful place! Like, it blew me away!! My sister lives about an hour north of the city, surrounded by beautiful mountains. It’s not called Sea to Sky Country for nothing. I was there a week but I know I only barely scratched the surface of the area. We drove up to Joffre Lakes Provincial park one day to hike, spent time in Vancouver and Whistler, hiked around Garibaldi Provincial Park, enjoyed an evening at the top of the Sea to Sky Gondola and just spent time catching up. Miss being near to my sister!

It was such a fun trip. I wish everyone was there with me to experience it. I know Kev and the kids would have loved it. I sure could have used the help carrying the babe up all the those mountains. Ha!

Thanks for being such a good host and tour guide Carrie. Love ya!

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled^^best little welcome home committee I ever did see!

Birth Order, New Shoes and An End of Summer Track Meet.

Untitled

This post is sponsored by our friends at Zappos. 

Have you guys ever read books about birth order? It’s something that totally fascinates me. I believe there is real truth there. I am the first born in my family and obviously so is Rowan. I can tell already with her that she is sooooooooooo a first born. Rowan looooves to follow rules, is super bright, hardworking, and very motherly to her siblings. It’s fun to read about each child and what characteristics they might have based on the order they were born. One thing I’ve paid close attention to is what they say about middle children. Dear, sweet, sensitive Finley. I really try hard to not, what we like to call “middle child” her. We try to give her as much individual time and attention as we can and make sure she always gets her very own special things. I try to keep the hand-me-downs to a minimum. That’s why I was so excited to team up with Zappos and let her pick out these new Leepz sneakers by Stride Rite. I knew she would feel so special since these were our very first venture into light up shoes in our family. She has been walking, jumping and skipping around the house making them light up. It’s been so, so cute. I think (I mean I know) a part of her really likes hearing Rowan say she wishes she had a pair as well. I love being able to give her special moments that are all her own. Finley is also super excited because, as the middle child she’s so in looooooove with her older sister, and she can’t wait to take her new shoes to the track and be like Rowan. She told me she thinks she will be able to run just as fast as Rowan does. We found a high school in the area that has weekly family track meets. Everyone is invited to come race, no matter what age you are. Finley races, Rowan races, Kev races, it’s awesome!! The kids have been having such a great time going every week and with Finley’s new shoes you can bet she is going to run like the wind.

These are the perfect shoes to take her from the end of summer and keep her running straight into the back to school season. We don’t need tons of back to school gear this year because we are homeschooling the kids (I can imagine there will be lots of pajama days) but new shoes were definitely on the list. I am glad that we could easily (Zappos makes everything easy!) check that off the list. Whooohooo!

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

Untitled

A few from the past track meet…
P7269874

P7269898^^go FinFin go!!

P7269968

P7269942

P7269986

P7269929<

P7269946

Hi, I'm Jen!

Welcome to my personal lifestyle blog. It features topics such as motherhood, family life, fashion, cooking, and all sorts of adventures. I hope you enjoy what you find!

Jen Loves Kev
css.php