It’s no secret that this year has been a doozy! In our homeschool, we’re finished this week, and I created some reflection pages for my kids to help us all have some closure and process some of the things we’ve been through. Young children could draw pictures, and older kids through teens can take a few minutes to write their thoughts. I’m offering them as free downloads for any of you who’d like them! Here ya go!
We recently conducted an experiment in our homeschool that was conceptualized around the family dinner table. My girls wondered whether singing to, talking to, or yelling at a plant would impact its growth. So, we decided to test it ourselves. We reviewed the scientific method and designed our own experiment using four potted begonias; one that would be sung to, one that would be talked to, and one that would be yelled at, each for five minutes per day for seven days. The fourth was a control, and got the same amount of water, light, and time indoors as the others, but was otherwise simply ignored.
We tracked the progress of each plant daily. But some days forgot to bring them inside for their talking, yelling or singing. And some days forgot to measure them. And stretched seven days to ten. Interestingly, while leaves and petals on all four plant wilted (we determined we weren’t watering any of them enough) all grew taller, except for the control. Which suggested that ANY interaction with the plants was helpful to its growth, and did not support the original hypothesis that the plant that was yelled at would be stunted. However, at the end of the day, we decided our results were really inconclusive, because we had not controlled tightly enough for other factors, perhaps were not completely consistent in our measurements, and did not spend enough time with the plants.
In my mind though, the experience was a raging success, because we learned about the process of conducting an experiment, and internalized the scientific method. It was such a fun way to learn together! I’m sharing our FREE printable worksheet to help you create an experiment following the scientific method in your own home. Science is so cool!
This post on post-breastfeeding bras contains affiliate links, which means I will get a small percentage of profits of purchases made, while your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting this blog!
NOT my usual topic, to be sure, but I’m fearlessly posting about women’s undergarments because I have struggled to find information on this topic in the past, and I think it needs to be out there!
I have spent much of the last decade wearing nursing bras. (Incidentally, if you’re looking for one, I’ve tried many, and this one is hands down my favorite!) Having recently weaned my youngest, I’ve been on the lookout for a new bra. And what I’ve noticed is that the bras I liked BEFORE breastfeeding babies no longer work for me! I’m not at all upset about the change in shape, size, or tissue density. That’s just part of motherhood, and I’m so very grateful that my body has functioned well to nourish my babies. But it HAS made finding a bra that works more difficult. I’ve noticed that I need a bit more shaping and support, and since my breast tissue is looser than it once was, I need a bra that will prevent any “spillage” over the tops that causes weird lines in a t-shirt (this has been an issue even when I’ve been properly fitted for size in the past.)
After some unfruitful google searches on the topic, I polled my Instagram followers to find out their favorite bras for post-breastfeeding. Then I bought the most recommended, along with a few more that had great reviews online. I ended up trying nine bras. My criteria was comfort, support, and a smooth t-shirt line. Here’s the breakdown of what I tried, along with my review of each.
Top to Bottom, Left to Right, here are the bras pictured:
1. Amazon Essentials Women’s Classic underwire tshirt bra: this is similar to my go-to bra before breastfeeding. I went with an underwire, and this general shape, and it worked perfectly. But now, it’s a definite no. Not comfortable, and had some weird spillage. I’ll be returning it.
2. Midnight by Carole Hochman (sold as a 2-pack): I liked this bra quite a bit. It was comfortable, and provided a smooth line, but the overall support wasn’t perfect. It gave a bit more smash than shape. It’s a pull on, and does not have hooks. I do prefer hooks because I often remove my bra at the end of the day before removing my shirt, and that makes it easier. If I hadn’t already worn it before trying out some others, I would probably return it, but I’ll hang onto it for laundry days when my real favorites are in the wash.
3. Aerie Real Happy Wireless Pushup Bra: This was a good bra. Pretty comfortable, nice and supportive with shaping cups. And surprisingly no spillage. Overall I liked it. But I liked others better…so it’s getting returned.
4. Aerie Real Free Padded Bralette: This one had potential, BUT…the removable pads weren’t quite the right size or shape for the bra…which made it a little lumpy. Not my favorite. Returning it.
5. Auden Everyday Lightly Lined Demi T-shirt Bra: This is the $10 basic bra from Target. If it works for you, it would be a good transitional bra while your breast size is fluctuating after pregnancy or breastfeeding…but it didn’t work for me at all. The underwire was pretty uncomfortable, and the cups were not quite right. Not supportive, comfortable OR smooth under a t-shirt! Definitely getting returned.
6. True & Co True Everybody V-neck Bra: This was without a doubt the most comfortable bra I have ever put on. It was supportive and smooth and I loved it, even though it looks more like a sports bra than a regular bra. It does not have a hook, which adds to the comfort and smooth factors, but is a little less convenient for me. I’m also concerned that the removable pads will bunch up when washed (I’m not great at following laundry directions…so this will probably go through the washer and dryer at some point.) But it was so great that I’m willing to risk it! This one is getting a permanent place in my underwear drawer.
7. Aerie Real Sunnie Wireless Pushup Bra: This one was not a winner. Maybe I just didn’t have the right fit, but it wasn’t comfortable, supportive OR smooth under a tshirt. It’s going back.
8. True & Co True Everybody Triangle: This was another fantastic bra. Only slightly less comfortable than the V-neck version, but fit more like a typical bra. I have the same concerns about the lack of hooks and the removable pads, but I’m keeping this one too. So smooth and comfy! Hopefully it lasts.
9. Bali Women’s Comfort Revolution: This bra is admittedly not the cutest, but it is so comfortable (only slightly less than the True & Co V-neck), provides perfect support, and is nice and smooth under a tshirt with no spillage. It also has hooks and the pads are sewn in, not removable (which are not official criteria here, but personal preferences.) That said, this one is a keeper, and my TOP RECOMMENDATION for a post-breastfeeding bra.
In summary…I’m keeping bras number 2, 6, 8, and 9. Number 9 is my overall favorite, and number 6 is the runner up.
Tomorrow starts Holy Week, or the week of Easter, and I have a FREEBIE for you! This two-page printable download has an egg with an illustration and a scripture for each day of the week. Kiddos can color each egg as you read the New Testament passage, and then the eggs can be strung up together to create a banner that will double as Easter decor. I hope you love this freebie! We’ll be using it this week as we study and remember the last week of the Jesus Christ’s mortal life, his atoning sacrifice, and resurrection.
This post on family skiing success contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission for products you purchase, while your price remains the same. Thank you for supporting this blog!
If you aren’t already skiers who have the process down, taking a family ski trip for the first time can feel very intimidating! There’s so much to prepare, pack, and know! While Jon and I both grew up skiing and have taken our older kids a few times, we recently took our whole family on a ski vacation for the very first time, and it was a blast! The kids said it was better than Disneyland, and we have to agree! I’m breaking down the behind the scenes efforts to make it easier for other first-timers or those who are fairly new to hauling kids along for the ride.
The most important thing you can do to have a successful family ski trip is have good gear! Nothing ruins the fun faster than a little one who is just too cold or wet to go on. Depending on the season you go (we prefer spring skiing for slightly warmer temperatures) you’ll need varying levels of snow gear, but here’s a list to get you started. I spent so much time researching the best gear that was also affordable for a big family. While I definitely recommend using what you have, and borrowing gear that you won’t use often if possible, everything we purchased worked out perfectly, and I’m happy to share these great finds with you! Each family member will need:
A base layer to wear under clothing and snow gear. This option from 32 degrees is super affordable, and can double as pajamas anytime so you get your use out of it.
Mitten clips to avoid lost gloves or mittens! I saw lots of lost ones around on the slopes, but we didn’t lose any thanks to these!
Snow pants. We like this set of bibs to keep torsos extra cozy.
A balaclava. This isn’t strictly necessary, but some ski schools require them for lessons if it is snowing, and it’s much cheaper to buy them ahead of time than at the resort. If you go this year while masks are required, they also make a great face covering.
Ski goggles. I didn’t grow up using them, but they really make the experience much more pleasant. I recommend them for everyone!
A scarf or neck warmer if desired, and warm clothes for layering.
Snow boots and winter hats are great if you will be playing in the snow outside of skiing, but you’ll rent ski boots and a helmet at the resort, so they won’t be necessary for the skiing itself. We love these gender neutral snow boots, and with multiple kids, highly recommend passing them down since they are one of those items that doesn’t tend to get worn out. These hats are also so cute, cozy and affordable!
Finally, if you have a little one (5 or younger) learning to ski, an edgie wedgie (a contraption that clips the front of both skis together to help them keep their skis in the proper position) can be very helpful. You can buy them at the resort, but you’ll save a few dollars if you purchase one ahead of time.
We loved using packing cubes to separate the snow gear for each family member. It helped us stay organized, and kept me from forgetting anything!
I packed one extra cube with a few extra pairs of gloves, socks and hats. We didn’t end up needing any of them, but it was nice to know they were there in case anything went missing.
I placed all the full packing cubes in a large plastic tote in the back of our van, and it was so nice to have everything in one place that was contained but portable. If you are flying, a large suitcase would do the trick.
We brought a large duffle bag to hold everyone’s boots. I made sure it was washable since on the way home the boots going inside were a bit dirty.
We made sure to book lodging with a washer and dryer to dry wet gloves and mittens between ski days (they can really take a long time to air dry) but extra pair might be in order if you won’t have a dryer available. A blow dryer might do the trick, but standing around blow drying soggy mittens isn’t my idea of a vacation.
We preferred to grocery shop ahead of time for the majority of our food. I brought my instant pot for easy dinners at our lodging, as we were tired and unkempt after a day on the slopes, and not really in the mood to eat out. We packed in lunches, and kept them in a soft cooler in a locker we rented at the ski resort. It saved time and money to have food ready to go. We also brought pocket-size snacks like granola bars and rice krispie treats to keep in our kids’ coat pockets in case they got hungry before of after lunch time. Removing skis to go to the lodge for food wastes precious daylight on the slopes. Also, canned peaches are said to relieve altitude sickness, so for those who will be making a significant elevation increase from their norm to ski, those can be a life-saver in a pinch. Plan on nourishing, filling meals, as skiing can really work up an appetite.
Learning to ski:
I’m no expert on teaching kids to ski, so I hired experts instead! We chose a resort that had affordable lessons (see this post for all the details on where we went and how much it cost), and signed all our kids old enough to ski up for a half day lesson on the morning of our first day. We found that our older girls were a lot of fun for us to ski with after just a half day of lessons, and our four-year-old, learned enough for us to trade off helping him on the bunny hill. It was definitely worth the cost of the lessons, plus Jon and I got a morning to ski together while the kiddos were busy at ski school. We invited grandparents to come along, and they helped with our little ones when they got too tired (and our two-year-old got to stay with her aunt who also came but did not ski). If you have friends or family willing to help, that’s ideal, but we saw plenty of little kids just playing in the snow near the lodge at the resort, so it’s definitely possible for two parents to just take turns hanging out with little ones while other family members ski.
And there you have it. All the inside scoop you need for family ski trip success! I hope you get out these with your kids. It was truly a special experience. This season just has a few weeks left, so if you don’t squeeze in a trip this year, save this post for next!
It’s no secret that skiing is an elite sport. The financial investment and know-how required to even try it are high. I was lucky enough to have been taught to ski by my sweet grandpa who loved the sport so much that he shopped thrift stores for a year to acquire enough second hand skis for all his grandchildren, and then gave all of us a good lesson that got us on the slopes. I’m so grateful for that, because although I’m not a great skier by any means, the experience of gliding down a snowy mountain is pretty exhilarating. Magical, even.
My husband was also fortunate to have skiing as a tradition in his family. He grew up skiing every winter, and is much more confident than I am.
He’s always hoped to raise skiers, but it’s been tricky to make it happen. We haven’t always lived in an area where skiing is available, and the cost to get a family of seven on the slopes can be prohibitive. We’ve taken our older ones a handful of times over the years, but not as much as we would have liked.
We were so excited to finally take a ski trip as an entire family last spring after my sister told me what a great time they had skiing with their kids at a resort with one of Utah’s best bunny hills.
When she told me how much it cost, I almost flipped. Not because it was so expensive, but because of how (relatively) AFFORDABLE it was! We planned our ski trip for spring break last March, and as you could probably guess, it never happened. We quarantined instead. A year later it’s hard to believe the pandemic is still going strong, but with much more information available and vaccines rolling out every day, ski resorts are open, and it feels like one of the safer vacation activities we could do.
We are headed to central Utah’s Brian Head Resort later this month, and we cannot wait! I just had to share all the details, because I would love to see more families and more kids experiencing the thrill of the slopes!
For our family of seven (six of us will be skiing), the price tag for two full days on the slopes comes in at under $1,000! That includes lift tickets, ski rentals, AND a half-day group lesson for our three girls.
We decided to put our four-year-old son in a private lesson (he’s too young for the group lesson) which was an additional $250, and our biggest splurge, but I think it will be well worth it. (Teaching little kids to ski isn’t my idea of a good time. I’m happy to leave it to the pros.)
The most amazing part is that ALL kids 10 and under ski FREE…we were able to register all but our oldest for season passes for a grand total of $0! Of course, we’re paying for rentals and lessons, but removing the cost of lift tickets is a game changer. And unlike other resorts that offer similar programs, you do not need to be local to take advantage of this offer. We live out of state, and it was no problem!
We are within a day’s drive from the resort, so driving will keep our travel costs down, and we are sharing an affordable airbnb with my sister and her family. I’m estimating the entire cost including food will be under $2,000 for a four-day vacation for seven. I know it’s not exactly pocket change, but compared to other ski trips, it’s an incredible deal. And it’s well under what a family our size would spend for two days at Disneyland!
It’s not too late to book a spring ski trip to Brian Head! Their season runs through mid-April, and it is just the best place to learn! (In college I taught several first time skier friends on the bunny hill there, so I can attest to it being niiiice and easy for beginners. Of course they have a lot more to offer if you have advanced skiers in your group as well!)
I hope you get out there with your family! Especially if you are within driving distance of central Utah, you will not find a better deal!
Since we moved into our new (to us) home in September, we’ve been in serious need of some additional storage for some of our everyday items. Other more pressing projects took precedence, but I knew from the start that I wanted to create a really great storage space in our garage entry to our house. And as Jon’s to-do list (and work schedule) got more intense, I realized that if it was going to happen, I needed to make it happen.
I’m not a total stranger to power tools. I spent time in the theatre set shop in college, and when Jon and I got married, I think I had more experience with tools than he did. I built a storage bench for our first home with my dad, and then Jon and I built our dining table together a few years back. But I was definitely feeling rusty. And had definitely never built anything on the same scale as the mudroom I was dreaming of.
There were several tricky issues to work around. For one, the garage floor isn’t level, so I had to build a base that would be a level foundation for the storage bench. Also, I was trying to utilize the space behind the stairs that lead into our home, which influenced the style of bench I ended up building. I started by taking lots of measurements, and then sketching it all out to scale on graph paper.
I had used a pocket hole jig on our table project, so a quick refresher was all I needed to figure out how to join my boards at right angles. I had the staff at the hardware store make the longest cuts for me when I purchased my plywood (I used 1/2″ pre-sanded plywood for this project) and then made the smaller cuts at home. It was incredibly empowering to take on this project start to finish by myself! Jon did help minimally when it was a two person job, but I really owned this one, and I loved it!
My timeline was about two weeks not including the prep work of demolishing the existing shelving, painting the garage, and building the base. I prefer to work quickly, and have a tendency to lose steam if I don’t get through a project pretty fast, so this definitely took a high priority, and other things in my life were put on hold (like, you know, making dinner for my family and doing laundry).
The cost breakdown for the project is below, but I imagine similar projects vary quite a bit depending on the price of wood where you live. (Also, I have heard that wood prices have recently gone up significantly.)
Overall, I’m really happy with it coming in under $500. We recently got a bid for a similarly sized built-in cabinet area that was over $4,000, and that from a company known for great rates.
I learned a lot doing this project, but mostly learned that I can figure things out! It was fun to be fearless in tackling a different sort of project than I’m used to, and I have to say, I think I’m hooked! I definitely see more woodworking projects in my future!
In addition to their daily responsibilities, my kids have had a bigger, weekly job for a long time now. And while they are used to completing their chore each Saturday morning, I noticed that the quality of their execution started slipping. Instead of getting upset with them, I got reflective, and realized that it had been awhile since I had trained them on their jobs, and I hadn’t done it at all since we moved to our new house! Since each house is a little different, they needed a bit more instruction so they could do a thorough job.
My three oldest rotate through three responsibilities each week (vacuum, clean bathrooms, and dust/clean windows), so it took me three weeks to fully train each one of them on all three of the jobs. I didn’t want them to forget (or “forget”) all the specifics we had gone over, so I decided to create detailed checklists for each job that they could use each week as a reminder of how to do their job well.
I hoped these checklists would be helpful, but I was shocked at what a difference they made! We have been using them for several weeks now, and I can’t believe I didn’t use them sooner. My kids are cleaning so much more thoroughly than they ever have before! It feels like magic! I laminated the lists and we keep them on a clip board with our family command center, so they are always handy when it’s time to do Saturday chores. I pass them out, they carry them along as they complete their jobs, and then we put them back when we’re done.
When I casually shared a picture of one of our checklists in my Instagram stories, I had so many messages requesting the checklist file, so I decided to make them available here for you!
They work best if you add specifics for your own home, but I created some general lists for the three cleaning categories my girls rotate through each week that could work in any home, and I also have a blank template you can fill in yourself. You can use a PDF editor to customize them as well! I hope they work their magic in your home! Don’t forget the “training” step where you go through each chore WITH each child. I’m pretty sure just handing over a checklist wouldn’t have quite the same effect.
You can purchase the download right here, or go check out my instagram this week to see how you can snag a FREE copy!
A favorite activity of ALL my kids, even my tweens, is making homemade play dough. While I’m a huge fan of buying things to save time, sometimes the fun is found in the process. So while we still buy plenty of play dough, we actually prefer our homemade version, and make it whenever we need an interactive, indoor activity.
The ingredients are simple, and it’s easy to do, plus it turns out silky smooth, non-sticky, and just perfect for keeping little hands busy creating for hours. I shared the recipe recently in my post about DIY Sibling Gifts, but I wanted to give it its very own post, with a more in-depth tutorial. Because it’s worth it! And with dreary weather, even here in California, now is the perfect time to make some.
Starting out with a thick pot, combine flour, water, salt, oil, and cream of tartar.
You can definitely add coloring at this point if you want to make the entire batch the same color, but if you’d rather divide it up to make multiple colors, wait on that step.
Stir everything together until it’s smooth, and then cook it over medium-low heat (stirring almost constantly) until the dough forms a mass and pulls away from the sides. If it seems like it’s still sticky, keep kneading it with a wooden spoon over low heat until it reaches the desired consistency.
If you still need to add coloring, after you’ve let it cool just a bit so you don’t burn your hands while touching it, divide the dough into as many equal pieces as colors you would like to make. We typically make one color per child, so if all of my kids are participating, we’ll divide by five, but for this batch size, dividing into four makes a pretty generous amount of each color.
Form a ball, and poke a deep hole with your finger. Add several drops of food coloring, pinch the hole closed, and knead the mass until the color is fully incorporated.
Another fun option is to add dry kool-aid powder for a colored AND scented dough. You can also add glitter with either the food coloring or the kool-aid. So many fun possibilities. We usually keep it simple, though.
We love to play with cookie cutters, rolling pins, butter knives, etc, and we store play dough in airtight zipper bags or containers. It lasts for several months when stored properly, and we love it!
I’ve spent some time during this holiday week focused on getting organized so we can hit the ground running when we start back up with homeschool next week. One thing that is an absolute game changer is my pack of Scheduling and Tracking sheets that I created specifically for homeschooling and virtual schooling families. They keep our school days running smoothly and keep us on track even when chaos is a constant.
If I’m honest, though, between moving, finding black mold in our walls, and the holidays, we’ve kind of fallen off the organized wagon, and we have just been getting by. I KNEW that if I started using our morning routine charts and weekly task charts again, we’d be SO much more productive, but every time I tried to print them or fill them out, I’d get interrupted, distracted, or an emergency would present itself. It’s been survival mode over here folks!
I promised myself I’d get them up and running again for the new year though, and this week I got them all set. It feels SO good knowing we are ready for a smooth start! So good, in fact, that I wanted to share the love! For the first time ever, my printable pack of TEN scheduling and tracking sheets are on sale for 25% OFF! They are SUPER simple to use, tried and true, and there’s something in there for every family! My personal favorites are the Weekly Tasks sheet and the Morning Routine sheet, but I really love them all. This promotion will run through January 6th, so grab them while they’re hot!
If you want to learn more about how to use them, and my philosophy around scheduling, my Fearless Homeschool Workshop is available for replay!
Happy New Year! We may not be in control of everything 2021 brings us, but let’s be as organized and prepared as possible, friends!