15 Books That Spark Curiosity In Children

When we started homeschooling this year, I knew our library needed a good jump start. I went on a hunt for all the beautifully illustrated, full of information, awesome kid books. I wanted to fill our school room with books that sparked their interest and imagination. I wanted to have books there and ready when they asked questions about all the different things we would be learning. Oh man, there are sooooo many wonderful books out there!! My amazon cart is always full with new ones but here are our top favorites so far this year. If you have any in your own collection that aren’t on this list, please let us know! I would love to keep adding more!


1.Smart About Sharks by Flying Eye Books
2. The 50 States by Wide Eyed Editions
3. Cabinet of Curiosities by Gordon Grice
4. Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska
5. Timeline: A Visual History of Our World by Peter Goes
6. The Big Book of Bugs by Yuval Zommer
7. Natural World: A Visual Compendium of Wonders from Nature by AJ Wood and Mike Jolley
8. Beautiful Birds by Jean Roussen
9. Wild Animals of the North by Dieter Braun
10. Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky
11. Atlas of Adventures + Atlas of Animal Adventures by Rachel Williams
12. Animalium + Botanicum
13. Diary of a Time Traveler by David Long
14. The Wonder Garden by Jenny Broom
15. Nature Anatomy, Food Anatomy and Farm Anatomy by Julia Rothman

Orion Turns One!!



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!!
















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

My Everyday Style | 10.24.16


I kind of thought this day would never come!! Buuuuut at the moment, I am siting at my kitchen island watching the girls through the window play… Star Wars! Yes!!! I am so much more of a Star Wars fan than say, Sofia the First. So this is a pretty exciting day. The neighbor boys are over as well. We have Yoda, Rae and the Bounty Hunter all running around with lightsabers. It’s pretty stinkin’ cute. What are you guys going to be for halloween? Do you do the family costume? I love themed family costumes.

So here is an outfit. hahahah! I love posting outfit photos but I never really have anything profound to say about them. I woke up, I got dressed and this is what I wore. Inspiring huh? It was a very warm and lovely fall day and I was glad to get to wear these mules another time before I’d have to put them away for the winter. Can you believe they’re Toms? Way to go Toms!






Outfit Details:

Jacket: Older from Abercrombie (similar here or here)
Mock Turtleneck: Madewell It’s on sale and then another 40% off!!
Jeans: Urban Outfitters (I added the rips)
Toms Mules: Zappos
Glasses: Bonlook

Our 2016/2017 Homeschool Plan


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!)…


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!







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

Our Everyday Style | 07.27.16


First and foremost… HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURA!! I LOVE YOU.

Ok, now on to a good ol’ outfit post. Thank you to everyone who left a comment on the post the other day. I love all you guys! and I love hearing from you all. I don’t plan on stopping blogging anytime soon. This has become our family journey and it will always hold a special place in my heart. Not sure what is up this week but I’ve been bitten by the blogging bug. 4 Posts this week so far?? Who am I?

I wore this outfit to church on Sunday and decided to take some outfit pictures when we got home. I wasn’t planning for the girls to be in the pictures but they love the camera (or should I say the remote) and wanted to jump in. I can’t say no to some pictures with my girls. I can’t help but look at Rowan lately and think she is just so grown up! I mean first grade soon?!?! That is crazy. She is so smart, artistic and funny. Love her!

I’ve been trying to only really invest in quality clothes lately for myself. I don’t buy a lot but I buy a few nice items every season. It ends up being the same expense as buying a ton of random things every time I go into old navy, target or forever 21. Most of that stuff doesn’t last and doesn’t fit me great. I am starting to see the value in doing that for the kids as well. The only clothes that are in the boxes downstairs to save or pass on to younger kids are the clothes I spent a little more money for. I search the sale section of Tea Collection, Hanna Andersson and Boden like whoa! Hahahahah. Love a good deal and love the quality of all their kids clothes.

p.s. loving a more straight leg cropped jean this summer!












Top: Madewell (They have a size L over here– also in black and white)
Bottoms: LOFT
Sandals: last season (similar)
Sunglasses: Urban Outfitters

Dress: Tea Collection (she also just got this one)

Dress: Was Rowan’s from Gap (similar)

Random Thoughts By Jen


Hey guys! I’m writing on the blog! Whoa now! What do you guys think? Are blogs on the way out? Do you enjoy reading blogs anymore? Other than a lot of food blogs and blogs of friends I’ve been reading forever, my feed reader is pretty sparse. Are you satisfied with just Instagram/Snapchat posts from people? I am not sure how I feel about it all. I love this blog, but definitely don’t come and sit at the computer to share like I used to. I don’t know why? I mean, I do and I don’t. There isn’t much time nowadays, but honestly that never stopped me in the past. I used to make time no matter what. So many bloggers have stopped blogging lately and I totally understand it. Not sure if I am ready to throw in the towel yet though. I would love to hear your thoughts on it all!

Everyone is sleeping in our house right now and I just sat down here at my laptop to share a few things. Like the old days. I never use my laptop anymore. We have an iMac on our desk that I always use, but it just took it’s final breath so… well, there’s that. Maybe this is good. Maybe having to use my laptop again will make me want to write more. Hahha maybe not, time will tell.

Sooooooo Orion ate a cigarette tonight. Mom of the year award over here. We were eating ice cream outside at the local Stewarts and Orion was playing on the ground. Kev noticed he had something in his mouth and yep, there is was… a dirty old cigarette. ACK! Gross! I kind of wanted to rinse his mouth out with hand sanitizer.

Finley has been sick lately. Not sure what is really going on with her- and it’s killing me that we don’t have a straight answer to make her feel better. It’s such a hard part of parenting. Seeing our kids in pain or discomfort and not being able to fix it right then for them. Praying we have some answers this week and we can move forward with a plan for her.

Rowan has been reading up a storm lately. It is sooooooo awesome to hear her up in her room with a book, sounding out all the words and reading to her self. I LOVE THIS STAGE. It is so fun!!

Can you believe summer is half over already. Ahhhhhh! I don’t want it to end. Everytime it’s summer I think to myself why don’t we live somewhere  where the weather is nicer more months of out the year. Where do you think is the best state for this? mild seasons, mostly warm, never deathly hot. I want to live there.

I came up with a ramen recipe about a month or so ago and I.CAN.NOT.STOP.EATING.IT. It’s pretty much the best thing I’ve ever made (patting myself on the back over here). I had to because I would sit here and day dream about Wagamama all day long and scheme up reason why we had to head back to Boston every week. Have you eaten there before? It’s my favorite.

I almost cut bangs last night. I had the scissors out and everything. Then I stopped to go get the mail. Random maybe but! BUT! There was a J.Crew catalog in there and ooooh thank you J.Crew model with your long, center parted hair to make me realize I do not want bangs again (well, not until next month). What I really want is to grow my hair out longer again.

I laid in bed last night figuring out how I can become a family travel blogger. hahahahahahahhaa But seriously, how can I do that? Like for real????!?!?!? Just putting it out there to the universe. Dear Universe, All I want to do is travel with my family, like to allllllllllll the places. I want to see everything and I want Kev and the kids to come with me. Let’s make this happen. I promise to take lots of pictures and write fun stories about our trips. I will love you forever and ever, XOXOX Jen.

Here are my thoughts on adult coloring books. Why are people just figuring out that coloring is fun now? Coloring has always been fun. The end.


Ok. So ends this episode of random thoughts by Jen.
Night. Night.

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