52/52: Merry Christmas!

51/52: Baby Fountains and Gap-Toothed Grins

50/52: Orange Slices and Eyeball Cookies

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Get Your Girls Praying: Be Yourself Journal

Monday, December 16, 2019

My friend Amy wrote a really sweet book a couple years ago. I was so excited by the concept, but knew my oldest daughter wasn't quite old enough for it, since she was 6 and also hated writing (the book was a journal, but there's way more than just writing activities in it). Gradually Cecilia got older and I decided to give the journal a try - she loved it! At 6, she was definitely too young. At 8, she was just right! And lo and behold, seeing her use the journal made her younger sisters get a little jealous, wishing for their own copies!

49/52: Advent-ish

48/52: Lucy at the Piano & Thanksgiving

47/52: Piano Playing and Teeter Go Round

Taming the Present Obsession: The Christkindl Tradition

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Last year we got tired of the obsession with presents the kids developed every November and December. Moving our family gift giving to Epiphany helped quite a bit, but there was still an unhealthy preoccupation with getting more STUFF and focusing on that and that alone, much to the detriment of all the rich traditions that accompany the seasons of Advent & Christmastide. My husband wanted to quit giving presents altogether!

Before resorting to that, though, we decided to try something different...

Edith is 3!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

Cyber Week HUGE Deals!

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Every year Black Friday/Cyber Week rolls around and many, many of my friends lament the consumerism that has engrossed us as a culture. And I get it! I do! But... I love giving gifts, and I'm the one responsible for all the gift purchasing in our family... So I appreciate gift guides and deals that my friends share!

On that note, I'll be updating this post throughout the week/weekend with deals so that you can find them all in one place! Hopefully you can support some small shops (many in that post have coupon codes and will be having huge Small Business Saturday sales), and also find some good deals on items you can't "shop small" for.

First! Before you start shopping, make sure you're signed up for Rakuten (formerly Ebates) - you'll earn cash back on your purchases and a lot of stores will be running higher percentage cash-back deals, so it's really worth your time to click through Rakuten first before shopping.

 This post contains affiliate links

Our 2019 Advent Books {Book Stacks + Giveaway}

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

This year is one of those years when Advent begins on December 1 and syncs up with the secular Christmas countdown, and I kind of love it! Last year I put together a calendar of our Christmas and Advent books and coordinating activities, so feel free to use that as a basic guide for yourself this year. I couldn't help adding a few more to our list, though - here are some we're adding to our collection this year:

Kitchen Simplicity: How We Handle Large Family Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Monday, November 25, 2019

About a year and a half ago, I got serious about menu planning—it made a huge difference in streamlining grocery shopping and eliminating stress from a normal day, but people often asked why I didn't "plan" breakfasts and lunches.

The reason?

We eat the same thing every day.

Does it get boring? Honestly, no. The kids appreciate the stability, it eliminates decision fatigue, cleanup is a breeze, and it's all stuff the *kids* can make themselves if/when I'm otherwise occupied.

It seems so obvious to me that this would be a reasonable solution, but every time I mention it, multiple moms *cannot believe* what a huge difference this makes!

So what do we eat?

Leave the Searching to the Experts: LitWits Review {A Homeschool Review Crew Review}

Thursday, November 21, 2019

We are BIG readers around here. But there are some classic books that I wish we could dive a little deeper into... I read a ton as a child, but don't always have time to re-read what the kids are reading, so it's hard to remember much from the books I recommend to the kids! Enter LitWit Kits from LitWits! They do all the work for you, from suggestions & tutorials for related activities, to background information and vetted sites for further learning, to academic handouts.

46/52: Babes in the Woods

Tuesday, November 19, 2019

When to Outsource Math: Thinkwell Review {A Homeschool Review Crew Post}

Peter, Age 5

Mary Claire and Elizabeth, Age 7

Thursday, November 14, 2019

We did it! 7 years of twins! (You can read all about their earliest years here) And just as we do every year, here's their birthday survey:

45/52: I'm Not Really Sure?

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mattie Richardson's Horses of History: A Homeschool Review Crew Post

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Cecilia went through a phase last year where she read a couple horse books and desperately wanted to read more written from the horse's point of view. But... There just aren't that many out there. Most are (obviously) written about people and their horses just figure prominently. So when I saw Mattie Richardson's Horses in History Series from Author Mattie Richardson/Appaloosy Books, I knew it would be right up her alley!

One Special Gift: CrossTimber Review {A Homeschool Review Crew Post}

Thursday, November 7, 2019

It's hard to find unique gifts when you've got a large family, particularly for younger kids. We already have practically everything we can fit in our house, and we often have hand-me-down toys and clothes so we don't need many new things for each subsequent child. Sometimes, though, it's nice to have something new and special just for a younger child, something the older children have never experienced.

Amazing Names by CrossTimber
When I saw that CrossTimber - Name Meaning Gifts would put together a video highlighting a child's name, I knew it would appeal to Peter more than any of the other children. Peter is almost 5, not quite reading, but just so very delighted by anything that's especially for him. We've never talked much with him about his name, beyond which saint he was named after. I didn't realize just how much the other children would love the video, too! We were so excited to sit down and watch Your Amazing Name - Personalized Adventures for EVERY name!

44/52: Pumpkin Carving, Snow White, and All Saints

2019 Shop Small Gift Guide (And Giveaway!)

Friday, November 1, 2019

I won't lie, I started my Christmas shopping this year in July. When you've got 4 November birthdays to shop for AND Christmas for 7 kids + other family members, you've gotta start early! I always aim to be done with shopping by the end of November so that I can really enter into Advent prayerfully, not concerned about material things.

This pays off tremendously when it comes to patronizing small shops! You'll find 33 small shops listed below, some of which I'm positive you've never heard of, and shopping early from these businesses means your support goes directly to small, family-owned businesses instead of some anonymous big box store.

So take advantage of the coupon codes, unique offerings, and giveaways. I hope you find something absolutely perfect!

43/52: Fall Garden and Stoic Babies

Neat Little Boxes: Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math Review (A Homeschool Review Crew Post)

Monday, October 28, 2019

I've been feeling more confident about our math this school year after several weeks of more intensive practice. But it gradually became evident that even when math problems were being answered correctly, they were... Not exactly legible.

If I'm grading math worksheets, I shouldn't have to ask a child multiple times which number each squiggle actually represents! So Channie's Visual Handwriting & Math workbooks, with their neat, color-coded boxes looked right up our alley. Cecilia is in 3rd grade and has just started with more complicated multiplication, so their One Page A Day 2 Digit Multiplication practice was just what she needed for a little extra drilling. And in the hopes of preventing this from becoming an issue later on, Peter tried out the Neat Numbers workbook.

Gift Guides, Planners, and Memento Mori {7QT}

Friday, October 25, 2019

Oh hiiiiii the baby has been up since before 6 and nobody else is waking any time soon so... Might as well get some blogging in (apparently I'm publishing one million posts this week, sorry?).

42/52: A Hole is to Dig, and Crafts are to Craft

October 2019 Stitch Fix Review (Plus Get $50 Free!)

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

It's Stitch Fix time again! I was waiting until I'd lost some more of the baby weight, but the tricky thing about losing baby weight is that 1. the baby has to let me actually put her down in order for me to exercise and 2. I really should stop eating so much chocolate if I ever want to lose this extra weight... So I did stop buying chocolate (because I'm incapable of pacing myself right now, apparently) but did not start exercising (because the baby still doesn't really allow herself to be put down), and ended up with some credit in my account anyway, so why not try a Fix?

First, here is the outfit I happened to be wearing when my box arrived (none of these are Stitch Fix items):

Can an App Save Our Math Lessons? Smartick Review: A Homeschool Review Crew Post

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

School started back up in August and I wasn't quite sure how much the girls' math skills had atrophied over our long break... Turns out it was a lot. This was something I'd never dealt with before! Suddenly there were temper tantrums accompanying every single math lesson because all three had magically forgotten everything they had learned over the past year.

I was exhausted dealing with it. There had to be some easy way to get those skills back! So I pretty much jumped at the chance to let them try Smartick. Smartick is an app that helps them review math skills while automatically tracking progress and offering more practice in problem areas.

One-Pan Dessert: Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Much like a large portion of the world's population (right? probably?), I dislike washing dishes. So I don't love baking, because of how many dishes I end up needing to wash afterwards! But this? Mix it in the pan, bake it in the pan, no multiple bowls & other dishes needed! And it's highly likely these are pantry staples that you always have on hand, so this is the perfect last-minute dessert.

41/52: Bouncy Putty!

7 Pieces to Stock Your All Saints Day Closet {7QT}

Friday, October 11, 2019

All Saints Day approaches, and with it comes the onslaught of slightly weird pictures of kids dressed as saints, so very niche that only those of us with ridiculous amounts of Catholic friends will truly appreciate it. Some people go all out, but... We are not some people.

I can't do the handmade costumes. It's just not my charism. But I can buy things to stock the dress-up bin so that when the All Saints Day party rolls around, the kids have decent options to choose from. Want to follow suit? Here are 7 of our must-haves:

40/52: Strike A Pose

Thursday, October 10, 2019

39/52: Cracking Corn?

38/52: Snow, Birthday Cake, and Tea Parties

37/52: Butterflies

Friday, September 20, 2019

36/52: Beach Week!

35/52: School Days

Toddlers and Homeschooling: The Age-Old Question {7QT}

Friday, August 30, 2019

Our homeschool rhythm has changed this year and I'm not gonna lie, I was a little nervous! Last year my mom took Peter and Edith for an hour or two in the mornings so that I could get school done relatively unhindered. But this year she's started a new teaching job, so I'm on my own Monday/Wednesday/Friday! I knew it was time to pull out my WHOLE bag of tricks to make this work, and it's only been two weeks but... It's going well!

Here's what has helped with "managing" toddlers/preschoolers and homeschooling:

34/52: Back to School 2019

33/52: Last Days Before School

Back to (Home) School! 10 Tips for Less Stress

Friday, August 16, 2019

Backpacks are flying off the shelves, cute lunchboxes are ubiquitous in every store you visit, and those shiny new boxes of crayons are awfully tempting... But let's be real: You're a homeschooler. You can do your "back to school" whenever you want!

(If you *aren't* a homeschooler, my friend Colleen has tips for you!)

32/52: Lucy, Lucy, Lucy, Lucy (and Elderberries)

31/52: Corn and Sun Hats

30/52: Lemonade Farm Stand

29/52: Egg Painting and New Chairs

28/52: High Heels, Blanket Forts, and Wooden Medals

Prime Day: Running List of Deals

Monday, July 15, 2019

Happy Prime Day! I'll be updating this post throughout the day with links to deals you might be interested in—I know I like getting early Christmas/birthday shopping done, and back to school season is coming up, too!

27/52: Summer Produce and Paper Diapers

26/52: Rosaries and Bows

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