Our First Week Was A Total Bust….Or Was It?

I feel like us homeschool moms all share the same brain. I feel like I know what you were doing all summer because it is what I was doing all summer. THINKING ABOUT AND PLANNING FOR THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR! And then all of the sudden we look up and Labor Day has come and gone, and it is time to put all of our grand plans into action. And this year, y’all, I had grand plans. My daughter is a Junior this year, and it will be just she and I at home. As the baby of the family, she reaped the benefits of being able to get most of her credits early just by tagging along with what her sister was doing. And this year, that hard work gives us the freedom to release our inner wild child a little bit and venture off the beaten path of typical high school course work. I couldn’t be more excited. I created a course just for her that I have entitled “Personal Development. Which, I might add, I think all high schoolers should take before leaving the nest. This course combines some of my favorite teachers, some of the most influential people I have found online, and a life coaching program that her and I will do together with Dr. Edie Wadsworth called “Life Mentoring School.” This is the big guns y’all. To me this is what homeschooling is all about. It is educating the whole person through and through, and I have been itching to start. She will also finish up Spanish, do a high school science overview, and some Shakespeare, along with a few other courses I found for her.

We started Tuesday with a back to school breakfast, had our pencils sharpened, and the fresh notebooks all laid out, and BAM!! Out of nowhere she got sick! And all of my big plans went out the window!! My old homeschool mom self (that rears her ugly head from time to time) wanted to just crawl into the fetal position and cry because nothing….NOT ONE THING….this week went as planned. But, as my twenty plus years of teaching has taught me, even when things seem to be a bust, they really aren’t. Because, listen to me momma, it isn’t about your grand plans anyway! There is a purpose in this whole homeschooling gig that is so much greater than any curriculum, text book, or your best plans could ever be. Algebra is always going to be harder than you thought and take longer than you planned. The internet will go out, the dog will roll around in something three houses down, and of course you will run out of milk. When you plan on those things happening, and leave room in the margins for error, even when weeks are a bust, the machine continues on. And more importantly, your heart never misses a beat! I have learned this the hard way, but if there is one thing I want to shout from the roof tops on this first Friday of our new school year, it is this. We don’t control the feast, we just provide our basket of fish. Every day, week in and week out, we bring our loaves and fishes to the homeschool table. We love our kids big, and we plan as best as we can. But at the end of the day, we have to trust the One who Created them to make those loaves and fishes enough. All we can do is bring our basket and know that their future is in His hands. So when the first week seems like it was a bust, and instead of ending the week at the local coffee shop, you end it on the sofa watching Hallmark movies slathered up in essential oils, it is ok! That was always how this week was supposed to go! Monday is a new day! And we will start again! Ready for whatever the week may bring. Until then, I am going to snuggle up with that girl and savor every second because her sister was at college orientation all day long. The days are long but the years are short momma. Ask me how I know!

We have the greatest job in the whole world, and the time is ticking. We don’t have time to sweat the small stuff or try to white knuckle every minute of our kids’ lives. Trust me, I tried that…it doesn’t work!!! Instead, loosen up and do a little wild child homeschooling. Break a few rules. Work outside the box. Trust the Lord to guide you, follow your convictions. The view is so much better!!

If you need a little reminder, and some practical tips to get up and out of God’s way this school year, join the FREE workshop online that I am offering called “3 Ways To Make This The Best Year Yet.” These 3 things that you can do in your homeschool right now will guarantee you a better year, I promise!! And they may not be what you think they are! This 3 part video series will only take you a few minutes to watch each day, and will shed some light on some ways you may be sabotaging your homeschool and not even knowing it. No new curriculum required, nothing to buy, just a fresh perspective on how homeschooling like a wild child, and breaking a few rules, will enable you to enjoy the days so much more! Join now by clicking the picture below!! I hope to see you there!

Homeschooling From A Looking Back Perspective

I have been asked many times this summer about the lessons learned in my years at home with my oldest, now that she is dipping her toes into adulthood. Here is what I’ve learned in those 18 summers that I once thought would never end:

First, I have learned to trust God who created her for His perfect purpose. He loves her infinitely more than I do. He promises good for her, and He is the author and finisher of life, so no matter what I do I can’t keep her here on this earth one second more than He has for her. I can relax. I also have learned that in trusting Him, I must understand that whatever she does with her life will be 100% in spite of me. Yes, I have taken on the burden of her education, but I cannot mess this up. At first it is so scary, but then it is freeing. He has a plan for her, and He is going to fulfill it. No matter what I do or don’t do. I just have the opportunity of being a part of it and reaping the joy from the work I put in. That is amazing.

Second, I have learned that our kids know more about us than we ever imagine. They know our sincerity, our motives, and our values not as we say them but as we live them. I have learned that they are always watching and cannot be duped with a million words. Our actions are all they see. And when they are home with us every hour of the day, we better make sure that we are walking the walk. But in saying that, I have also learned that they forgive so easily. They understand we are human and are always ready to offer grace when we ask. I ask a lot.

Third, I have learned that Laura Ingalls Wilder was right…HOME is the nicest word there is. When they are little, it is all they know, and we have the ability to make it what we want. I have learned in looking back to never take that for granted. I have learned that we must make it what we want for them, not what we want for us because as they grow and begin to learn about things outside of home, it remains the standard. It is never a waste of time to bake the pie, freeze the popsicles, cut the flowers, or light the candles. Porch lights matter. The kitchen table is the most important piece of furniture in the whole house, and there are very few problems that can’t be solved while gathered around it. It is always worth it the effort and plan. The curriculum choices, extra activities, and read alouds, while important, will come and go. Some will stick more than others. Some will be a complete bust, but the education that will never leave them is what happens day to day. Our words, how we handle trials, how we serve others, and how we protectand prioritize our days. We are charged with educating whole persons. That is an amazing honor and heavy weight all at the same time. I have learned to forget what the world and all the experts say, and do what I feel in my gut is best. I am the one who has to stand by it. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, I am so grateful for grace!

Finally, I have learned to hold the mirror. The mom who took this picture told me that this was a moment she knew I would want captured. I didn’t underetand at the time, and I don’t know the mom. We were in the church bathroom at my daughter’s graduation, but she was so right, and I would love to be able to thank her! Hold the mirror, play the games, read all the books (over and over), sing loud, listen, and be real. Put away your selfish motives, your needs, your fears, and your phone. Forget about what you look like and how much you weigh. Tune out the world’s suggestions and the ten step plans for raising your children. Just follow God’s Word and the convictions He gives you. He is faithful. Childood is the shortest eighteen years on earth. The days may seem long, but I can tell you that the years are so short. The biggest thing I have learned is that there is no going back. When it is over it is over, so savor the days and love this life you have been given. That is the greatest thing we could ever teach our kids.

Get Well & Stay Well

We say that we are all about proactive health care instead of reactive sick care around here. These are the products we use to get well and stay well all year long.  I am not paid by any of these brands.  This is just my own personal experience and the experience of my family over many years.  Simply put, these are the brands we love and use! Today, more than ever, keeping our bodies in tip top shape is so important!!

Here is what we do every day to help our bodies stay well:

Morning
2 tablespoons Organic Life Liquid Vitamin
1 tablespoon Ellie Mae’s Elderberry Syrup
1 tablespoon Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar 5 drops Plant Therapy Defender, Immune Aid, or Germ Fighter mixed with a palm of coconut oil and rubbed onto neck and the bottoms of feet.

Evening      

2 cups epsom salt in hot bath (we love the Lavender and Cannabis varieties)
1 teaspoon of Calm, dissolved in water
1 Transformation Enzymes Probiotic
1 tablespoon of Ellie Mae’s Elderberry Syrup
5 drops Plant Therapy Defender, Immune Aid, or Germ Fighter mixed with a palm of coconut oil and rubbed onto neck and the bottoms of feet.

Why these brands?       

These brands have been part of our daily routine for a long time.  Here’s why we love them and where you can get them (from left to right):


Ellie Mae’s Elderberry Syrup is made locally right here in Zachary.  Elderberry syrup is our #1 go to supplement for the fall and winter seasons.  We love it!  Elderberries contain so many antioxidants and are considered THE superfood for immunity.  You can get your bottle of elderberry syrup on the Ellie Mae’s website or locally at Premier Produce or Unique Creations Gift Boutique, both in Zachary.

Organic Life Liquid Vitamin is the only vitamin my family has taken in years.  We take it daily, and can feel a difference just minutes after we drink it.  It is plant based and is made up of over 24 organic fruits and veggies. It doesn’t taste bad and can be used mid-day as a natural energy booster as well.  We love this stuff!

Natural Vitality Calm is a product we use year round because it helps the body relax and promotes a good night’s sleep.  Sleep is so important for your body’s immune system. If you do everything else right, but don’t get quality sleep, you might as well not do anything.  I learned this through years of trying to restore mine and my youngest daughter’s adrenal health.  Without sleep, nothing else is going to work properly.  This magnesium supplement will relax your body and allow your systems to slow down in order to be at rest during the night.  I can’t recommend it enough.  

Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar is the best vinegar on the market in my opinion. It is USDA Organic, unheated, unfiltered, and unpasteurized, with 5% acidity, and contains the Mother.  Some of the amazing benefits of ACV are that it has the ability to kill all kinds bacteria all over our bodies and keeps them from multiplying, it lowers blood sugar and fights diabetes, assists in weight loss, and lowers cholesterol and supports cardiovascular health.  You can read more about the benefits here. Bragg’s ACV is carried just about everywhere.  Don’t settle for another brand.  This is the one you want.

Transformation Enzymes Probiotic is the #1 practitioner recommended probiotic brand and contains up to 42 billion cfu per capsule, depending on the strength you choose.  Taken before bed time, this army of beneficial bacteria will get to work while you sleep, creating a balanced gut environment, which is critical for your immune system to function properly.   A probiotic is a critical piece of the health puzzle.  And this is a great probiotic.

Plant Therapy Oils have been my go to essential oils for many years.  Their quality is superior, and their prices are reasonable.  I have used them for years, with much success, and will be lathering up, cleaning countertops with, and diffusing these three all season long.  I have a coupon linked for you HERE to receive $10 off of your first order if you want to try some out.  

Getting well and staying well is not as hard as it may seem, but it all starts now! I know that you will love these products as much as we do!!

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Update: Plant Therapy liquid vitamins have become harder to find since the original writing of the post. I now use Liquid Gold multivitamin, and love it. If you need a multi-vitamin, this one is fantastic. All organic, plant based, and will give you more energy than an espresso shot….with no crash later!! Wonderful product.

Composting – The Gold of the Garden

If you have never tried composting, I really encourage you to give it a go!  Soil building is the single most important thing you can do for your garden. Period.  While you can buy compost and other soil amendments, composting yourself if completely free and gives you a far better quality than any product from a home improvement store.  

To produce a quality compost, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Two of our girls Salt and Red enjoying our compost pile.

Temperature

The temperature is key!  You will need to create a mixture that will heat up enough to kill the weeds and help the beneficial micro-organisms thrive.  To do this, you want to add equal parts green and brown materials, all chopped to a small size. Fresh grass clippings or kitchen scraps (green) and dried shredded leaves work (brown) are great for your first effort because they’re already in small pieces.  They also bring the perfect mix of nitrogen and carbon to the party, giving you the perfect home for all the organisms you want in there.  

Material

Once you get your pile going, you will add material high in nitrogen and carbon weekly, making sure to alternate for the best results.  For me, that looks like a layer of fresh grass clippings or kitchen scraps with a layer of shredded paper or leaves or cardboard on top.  Then I add water for moisture and wait a week.  The next week, I turn the pile and mix everything together then add more grass clippings or kitchen scraps or even spent plants, then another layer carbon material like newspaper, shredded mail, or leaves.  I sprinkle with water again and wait.  If your temperature is right, your ratios of nitrogen and carbon are balanced, and the pile is moist, all of what you have put in will turn into a beautifully rich organic material to add to your garden in just a month or so, during the warm season.  

Signs Your Compost Is Thriving

  • Creepy crawlies everywhere.  A healthy compost will be full of life, even in the winter.  
  • The temperature of a healthy compost is pretty hot, so if your compost is warm to the touch, things are looking good.
  • You see less organic material and more of what looks like soil.  Things break down pretty quickly in a healthy compost.
  • The color of your compost is dark brown or black!  This means it is almost done!!

Signs Your Compost Is Struggling

  • No sign of life means things are not right.
  • Your compost smells bad.  
  • Your brown leaves aren’t breaking down.  They are the easiest to decompose and are the first thing to go.  If you see more brown than green material, something is wrong.
  • Your compost is smoldering.  If you see smoke coming from your compost, it is definitely too hot.  Cool it down by adding brown (carbon) material and water.

Composting is one of the most rewarding aspects of gardening. You will be so surprised at how fast material breaks down into beautiful soil for your veggies! Give it a try! And if you do, I would love to know how it goes!

Here is my Amazon affiliate link to the compost bin I have in our garden, as well as one other that I have heard good things about. Ours is around 12 years old and is still in perfect shape, however it has significantly gone up in price on Amazon recently. You can most likely find one similar for much cheaper. But you do definitely get what you pay for!

Remember, in a garden, our plants are just the thermometer of what is really going on in our gardens. Heavy, chemical fertilizers are just a band aid and will eventually reveal what is actually going on underground. The soil is the foundation of the garden, and as it goes so does the rest of the symphony! Getting your soil right is the single most important thing you can do in your backyard kitchen garden. And compost is a wonderful way to keep your soil thriving! Click HERE to learn about another composting method you may enjoy!

Louisiana Gumbo

In Louisiana, nothing says “FALL” like a big ole pot of gumbo! Let a cool snap come through and it seems that it is the first thing on everyone’s mind. We love our gumbo. This recipe is so near and dear to my heart. My husband will eat it every night of the week, I make it in my mom’s giant Magnalite pot, and it is the gumbo we ate at my grandparent’s house my entire childhood. I want to share it with you in hopes that you will make a pot this season. It is not nearly as difficult as some folks would like for you to believe. The recipe is below! Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup flour
2 onions
1 bell pepper
2 cloves of garlic
1 lb link smoked sausage, sliced
1 whole chicken and liquid reserved
2 32oz. bags of frozen okra, sliced
salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning to taste
water
1/2 stick of butter
rice

Directions:

Ahead of time: In a large pot, put whole chicken and enough water to come up about half way up the chicken, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. pepper, and cook covered on 325 for 2-3 hours. Once chicken is cool, debone it and set aside. Reserve the liquid. Do not throw it away. You will use it for the gumbo.

To make gumbo: Add oil and flour to large pot. You can substitute all or some of the oil with butter or bacon grease. Cook oil and flour on medium heat, constantly stirring until your roux develops and is the color of peanut butter. Add diced onions, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until onions are clear. Continue stirring. Once onions are clear, add sausage and continue stirring and simmer for about 15 minutes. The roux will continue to darken. Add frozen okra and cook for 5 minutes to thaw it. Add the liquid broth reserved from baking the chicken to pot and stir to incorporate all ingredients well. Add water to bring level to about 1” from the top of the pot. Turn heat to a rolling boil and cook for about 5 minutes. Add chicken and let it cook for about 5 more minutes. Season accordingly with salt, pepper, and Tony’s. Once your seasons are where you want them, add a half a stick of butter to the pot, put the lid on it and make your rice. Cut fire to low and serve when the rice is ready!!

Serves: 10-15 or more

If you would like video instruction for this gumbo to see consistency and roux coloring, I have a highlight on my Instagram feed called “Cooking” It is the first video on the highlight. You can find me on Instagram @wild_child_farms.

The Best Iced Coffee

It feels like a life time ago when I met Pioneer Woman. We met in blog land when she still signed all of her posts “P-Dub” and had not even thought about a Food Network tv show. She had a couple thousand followers, and in the early 2000’s that might as well have been a couple million. I loved her then, and I loved her now. She posted about this iced coffee recipe, and I had never heard of such. I had certainly never made any. But, I hung on her every word, so I made a batch. Over the years, I have tweaked it to make it just right, and I am sharing with you a recipe that is mostly hers and some my own. Once you make some, you will never be in a Starbucks line for iced coffee again! I promise!!

Ingredients:

✨12 – 16oz. bag of your favorite coffee
✨2 gallons of water
✨1 can condensed milk
✨1 can evaporated milk
✨ice

Directions:

Pour a pound of your favorite coffee into 2 gallons of water and leave it on the counter overnight. (I use large pitchers and pour half of the coffee in each one.)
Mix a can of evaporated milk with a can of condensed milk and pour into a mason jar and refrigerate. The next day strain the steeped coffee through your coffee filter basket back into your container and refrigerate. When you’re ready for a glass, just pour the coffee over ice and add as much of the milk mixture as you like. 

It is an amazing summer afternoon treat that we drink regularly around here. I hope you love it too!!

So easy and so delicious! ENJOY!! 💕 Now rain rain go away, we’ve got work to do!