Giant Advent Calendar

Making this was a labor of love and I couldn’t have done it without help from my amazing husband. Thank you love!
This idea is inspired by the chocolate advent calendars we get our children each year and came to me about a month ago. There was a lot of thought that had to go into making this. I debated on cutting up cardboard boxes, using canvas or even buying the storage bins made for this size cube shelf but ended up choosing to use foam board as it’s a more sturdy and inexpensive option.
Overall this project took about 2-3 hours to make since we had to trace and cut out all the shapes, wrap them all, then figure out how we wanted them in the shelf, putting the perfect bows on and finally placing them all. Oh and of course filling them!
Below is what you would need to make this for your home! Don’t want to make this for the full 25 days? Why not make a smaller version for the 12 days of Christmas? I also made a video all about this for our first day of Vlogmas! Check it out here!

What you’ll need:

~13 (20″x 30″) Foam Board Pieces
~4-5 Different wrapping paper rolls
~Bag of Bows
~Box Cutter
~Ruler/Measuring Tape
~Whatever you want to fill it with!
~A cube shelf or three! I used the IKEA KALLAX 5×5 cube shelf that can be found here.

How to make it:

~Measure out the size you need (for this shelf you will need them to be 13″x 13″) and cut! Each foam board will get you two squares.
~Wrap six boards in one of the four colors. Wrap the last board in the 5 color.
~Fill your shelves and make a graph of the order you would like them opened.
~Figure out how you want them placed and add bows.
~Place them in the shelf! Be careful not to push too much on them or the wrapping could tear.
~Stand back and Enjoy!

Cost breakdown- Full Price:

~Form Boards $3.49 each (Joann)
~Wrapping paper 3 pack $5.98 (Walmart)
~Wrapping paper single pack $2.48 (Walmart)
~Bag of Bows 40 pack $5 (Target)
~Tape set of three $5.99 (Joann)
Total $67.30

Cost breakdown- What I paid on sales/ with coupons:

~Form Boards $1.19 each (Joann)
~Wrapping paper 3 pack $5.98 (Walmart)
~Wrapping paper single pack $2.48 (Walmart)
~Bag of Bows 40 pack $3 (Target)
~Tape set of three $2.49 (Joann)
Total $29.42!!
Now imagine if you get all the supplies for next year once the season is over! I bet you can get it under $15! Plus you are left with plenty of wrapping paper, bows and tape to finish wrapping all the gifts!


January Healthy Goals Download

Need some ideas on how to stay active? Every month I’m posting some quick ideas for those days you can’t get a full work out in or maybe for those who want to add a little more to their workouts. Download this photo, make it your screen background, print it, or just have it saved on your phone to look at when you need an idea. Follow it however you wish. Want to fill in your own goals? A blank one is provided below! Check back each month for new ideas and inspiration! Follow #stayingactive2020 to see what I’m up too as well as others who are joining in. Post with #stayingactive2020 so I can follow your journey as well!

Jumping Jacks

I’m sure most of us know these but here is a video on proper form. We don’t want to get hurt! Jumping Jacks are a great full body workout that can be done almost anywhere.


New to lunges? Click here to see the proper way to do them! These are amazing as a beginner and have lots of variations to make them fit into any workout.


We all know these! Squats are honestly my favorite thing to do when I’ve been sitting for a while. Just get up and get some done! Remember the tips found in this video.


These are fun! What I love about all of this months exercise ideas is that you don’t need to leave your home or have any equipment to do them yet your still going to get a good workout by adding any of them to your daily life. Here is a quick clip showing you how to get these done!

Calf Raises

Feel the burn with calf raises! You can do these while in line at the grocery store, with your other workouts, or even while watching YouTube. Have you seen my channel yet? Check it out here! And don’t forget to check your form with this clip.

Please check with your doctor before starting any new exercises. Remember to stay hydrated!

All the proper form videos I have linked above are found on YouTube and are not owned by me.

Click on the photos above to save them for your own use. Please use #stayingactive2020 when sharing this post or photos from this post.

This post and photos/downloads have been made by Emma at Of Sparrows & Butterflies.

Frozen 2

We went and saw it as a family: the sequel we have all been anxiously waiting for. Anxious because sequels don’t always hold up to their previous counterparts and yet excited because we want more, more of the fun loving, catchy songs that will be sung for years to come. While this movie didn’t disappoint, a warning, don’t go into it expecting anything but to be filled with the awe of magic and wonder that Disney offers.
If you’ve not seen the first one, I’m not sure how you’ve made it this long. Maybe you don’t have kids, don’t have a Disney loving family, or maybe you just simply don’t like joy in your life. I kid, kinda… Whatever your reason I can no longer hold back the spoilers, but lets be honest, if you haven’t seen it by now, you probably won’t. It’s a tale of two sisters who grew up together yet apart out of fear of Elsa’s magical powers hurting Anna. We learn they lost their parents and see Elsa’s powers get stronger, living in fear of them she runs away. Hoping to protect her sister she keeps her struggles to herself. Anna being the fun loving, optimist that she is, follows her sister into the unknown. We see a love story start, fall apart, and another start. Through it all we hear songs that I know you’ve heard even if you haven’t seen it (Let it go anyone?). Through it all we come to a happy ending, one with questions we want answers to but still happy. The story, even though there is a small love story in it, isn’t about romantic love but rather about the importance of family and sibling relationships.
Ok, now that we’ve covered that, lets move into this next movie. The story continues the main theme of family while exploring a little more into the love story of Anna and Kristoff with funny moments of miscommunications and an epic ballad where Kristoff pours out his heart. We get all the answers to the questions we had from the first one (such as what actually happened to their parents and how does Elsa have magic? Where did it come from? And most importantly, why?) While I’m not going to spoil everything for you, there is one part of the movie I really want to tall about.
There is this one song, a point in the movie that is so relevant to our everyday lives. Anna hit rock bottom(quite literally), is in an actual hole as well as an emotional one as EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING and EVERYONE in her life is gone. Everything she holds close to her heart, everything worth living for, is gone. It’s in this moment, when hope is gone that her song starts. It talks about the dark shes felt before (her parents death) and how this is far worse. The song perfectly shares how depression feels to a lot of us. It reaches out to those in the darkest of moments and just lets you know, you are not alone.
“You are lost, hope is gone
But you must go on
And do the next right thing”

And then it gives a simple yet hard to follow instruction to help bring you (and Anna) though this deep darkness. The next right thing. Whatever that is, whatever it looks like for you, the next right thing is all you have to do. Don’t look to far ahead, don’t look to the past. Maybe in this moment your next right thing is simply to get out of bed or get dressed. Maybe its to just make it to work today. Maybe it’s just to let someone know how you’re actually doing. Do YOUR next right thing.
Unlike Disney movies, life doesn’t always have a happy ending. As I write this, I personally know several people who are struggling to see the light at the end of this tunnel. As I talk about this, I feel ok with myself but I know at any moment the darkness can creep back in. I beg of you, take the next right step right now. It will be hard, it may exhaust you, it may feel like it’s pointless. But all those right steps will add up and start to make a difference. Sure it probably won’t happen as fast as it did for Anna but we can start to add some magic and wonder back to our lives little by little.

You can listen to the full song here.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER!

Have you ever taken a bite of something and just knew you would never have another like it? That’s what happened when I made these cookies. Now, those who know me know that I don’t really enjoy cooking or baking, so trying new recipes bring on anxiety because they very rarely work out for me and I feel like I’ve just wasted time and money on something that was a fail (ok they normally aren’t a complete fail, we can eat it, its just not what I wanted it to be). So when I got the random urge to make some cookies and followed that by wanting to try a new recipe since I really haven’t loved the one I’ve been using, I went for it. Click here to see recipe I tried, I even tried Karen’s trick with the spoons and it really worked! Now I did make a change to the very end. After I did the spoon trick and added a few extra chips to the tops, I put them back in the oven for one and a half minutes. This helped to melt those chips on the top and gave them a better look and made the gooeyness cook up a little better. I cooked up half the batch and put the rest in the freezer for another day. If you try this recipe, let me know how you chose to do them! Sometimes just one little difference is what makes them perfect.

Our Homeschool Room

Our Homeschool Room is a work in progress (aren’t they all?). Last year we barely used it because we didn’t have a place to sit comfortably so it was mostly a storage room for homeschool stuff while we used the kitchen table as our work area. But as you can see in the photo below, we now have desks and chairs thanks to a very sweet friend who blessed us with them. Our days of schooling at the table are done (for now at least). IMG_3246

If you can’t tell, we love Ikea! Those cube bookshelves, the short table on the left, and the easel are all from there. The table is one of my better finds! It’s normally $24.99 but I got it for only $8 because it has on little scratch on a leg so it was in the damaged section of the store. You won’t always find things you need or want in that section but it’s worth the quick walk through if your already there as you never know what you will find! The shelves hold all our school books, chapter books, science kits, and other resources. I didn’t like the gap between the shelves but putting them together left us with a lot of wasted space. I found the set of drawers that is between the shelves for only $5 at a thrift store and its used mostly for math manipulatives or games that will fit in it. IMG_3256

The is across from the desks. Yes, its a MESS, but it’s real. On that table we have our Library Bin so nothing gets lost and is easy to return when its due. Then we have our current projects and things I need to put on the wall. Under the table we have more helpful posters as well as manipulatives. (Can you tell what my favorite color is?)IMG_3269

And here is our map! It’s not in the best place as everyone who walks into my home has come in contact with it. But that’s okay, its great to hear the conversations that start with the kids because of it! Well, that’s our homeschool area! Want to see more homeschool spaces? Click the photo below!


Curriculum Choices 2015-2016

It’s finally almost all figured out! If you have been following me for a while you will notice a lot of changes in our choices for this year. Part of that is because what we have used before we either need a break from or it just wasn’t working for our family. The other part is trying to find the perfect curriculum to fit with the kids learning styles. The biggest change is the math we will be trying out. Its nothing like we have used before. RizzyRoo and I really loved Teaching Textbooks last year but we both felt that we needed to try out one more style of learning before “settling” on it. If I’m being honest, I’m actually scared for this year when it comes to math. But if it just doesn’t work out, we can always go back to TT. Anyway, here is what we plan to use!

RizzyRoo: 4th Grade
Math Mammoth 4
Dreambox Math
Reading Detectives Beginning
Woodroots Beginning
RazKids Online
Spelling Workout A&B

Goober: 2nd Grade
Math Mammoth 2
Dreambox Math
Language Smarts B
RazKids Online
Bob Books
Spelling Workout A&B

Story of the World
Road Trip USA
God’s Design for Science
Hero Tales 2

We are still deciding on what Bible Curriculum we want to try out. Its down to three choices now, hoping to figure it out in the next few weeks.
What are you using this year in your homeschool? Is there a great Bible curriculum you just have to share with me?

blog hop

Curriculum 2014-2015: What we used

For homeschool families finding curriculum is stressful but also exciting! Below you will see all we used/did this past school year with links to where you can buy them so you can see what they look like.


Horizons Math 1 -It was time to try something new. We started out the year with this as we loved it last year for his Kindergarten but this year we parted ways with Horizons due to Goobers current need in the way he learns best.
Dreambox Math– Goober loved this online program but there are some gaps and its very gamey. I found that the concepts taught on it where learned well but he had a hard time transferring his knowledge to paper even though he could do it all great online. We will use this again but more of a supplement and not the main curriculum.
Daily Math Practice- This is what was used to help the skills transfer to paper. It was simple and didn’t add much more work.  Great for a supplemental workbook.

Teaching Textbooks 3– RizzyRoo loved TT3 and so did I! For the most part she did it all on her own which gave me the time to work with Goober on something. The explanations are great and the practice/work part was just enough to make sure the kids get the concepts without overdoing it. TT is a little behind. Anywhere from half a year to a whole year behind other curriculum so for this next year I would feel we need to do 4 and 5 in one year to finish at the point I want her at. We could do this but we will try out one more math program next year just to make sure we are finding the right one for her. But I do highly recommend TT.

Math Games
Financial Peace Jr.

~Language Arts~
All About Reading 1I love this curriculum, truly I do. Its well put together and easy to teach. But it doesn’t work for us at this time due to the way my kids learn and my goober struggled with it. So we ending up cutting this out about half way through the year.
Language Fundamentals 1– Goober Struggled with reading this year so we online completed a little of this book but it is really good for supplement or to use as a guide for what to teach.
Explode the Code Online – We love ETC! But the online program is very slow. We will go back to the books next year.
Reading Comprehension 1– Again, with struggling in reading we didn’t get through much of this but it is a great one for reading comprehension.
Bob Books– I stayed away from these for so long because of the fact that its a lot of sight words and I didn’t agree with teaching reading with just sight words. But half way through the year and we had made NO progress in reading we added these in to see if they would help. Almost instantly he was reading! Yes most of it was sight words but with the program I’m going to list next he was actually reading and not just memorizing.
RazKids– An online reading program that breaks it all down. Its a little repetitive and is gamey but with this, Bob Books, and other reading books Goober is doing so well. He finally is getting it! We will be continuing with RazKids online next year.

All About Reading 3– We got through more of this with RizzyRoo then Goober and I do like the program and find nothing wrong with it but it just isn’t working for our family.
Language Fundamentals 3- We have used this for her since we started homeschooling and will continue it as a supplement as it covers everything needed.
All About Spelling 1– Again, this just isn’t working for our family but is a great program.
Explode the Code Online– As I said before, its very slow! The books are better!
Reading Comprehension 3 Love these! Helps with their creative thinking as well.
Paired Passages 3– Great to start comparison writing with.
Story of the World– Love the stories and workbook. Feel it gives a great view without being to biased. Will continue next year.
Hero Tales– We got through Hero Tales 1 this year and loved learning about them all. With some we did extra reading online about. Next year we will move onto Hero Tales 2.

Lego Robotics (Co-Op Class)
Building & Engineering (Co-Op Class)
Science- The Basics (Co-Op Class)
Animal Encounters/Nature Studies (Co-Op Class)

~Unit Studies~
(This will be updated every few months as I find new ones we will cover)

Wright Brothers– The kids loved this one! They want to do it again!
Archaeology- Fun!
Human Body (year long study)- Did some with our co-op but didn’t get to much at home this year, maybe next.

Handwriting without Tears– Great for learners or those continuing to work on their skills. Easy to use and by the end of the year I saw a great amount of improvement in both kids writing. They did 1 and 3 this past year.
Four Square: Writing Method 1st-3rd grade- I was so excited to find this program! Its an easy way to teach and an the easiest way I have found for my kids to learn writing reports. They actually like writing now.

Reading through Bible stories

~Other Activities/Classes~
Chinese Immersion Class
Lego Club

I’m so excited to share that I have been blessed to be a part of the book launch for Sarah Mae’s ( new book, Longing For Paris! Being on the launch team, I was able to read an advance copy of the book and I just have to tell you all, this is THE book you will want to get your hands on as soon as it comes out! In fact, you might just want to pre-order it on Amazon or at B&N!

If you’re like me, Sarah, and many other women I know, you have longings-deep longings in your heart that sometimes just hurt so bad because you feel you will never be able to see them come to light. You feel that no one cares about your dreams, or maybe you feel that your dreams don’t matter. It could be that you seek an adventurous life or just something different from the way you grew up. Or maybe you have a desire to be someone different or do something different. Whatever your longings, Sarah shares with us just how important our longings are and why they are so important.
Paris2“I’m no longer willing to just survive.” This was one of the many things that stuck out to me in this book. It just proved to me that this was where I needed to be – what I needed to be reading. It goes well with my journey to find out just what it means to Thrive.
Are you ready to take the next steps of faith to see where God will take you and your longings? Find out more about this book here.

The Highlights! May 2015!

Some of my favorite posts out there right now, enjoy!

1.”What reading time looks like in my Homeschool” by The Unlikely Homeschool- I loved this post for so many reasons, but what sticks out to me with a lot of the posts on this site is the honest, non-judgmental way of sharing helpful things that work for her and her family. I love how she talks about the difference in reading from the learn-to read group and the read-to-learn group. I definitely have one of both of those and just seeing it laid out that simple helps me figure out what books my kids should be reading.

2.”Kids Organized Art Area” by California to Carolina- Such a cute idea that would be easy to do in any corner of your home that really wouldn’t cost that much! Enjoy!

3.”Don’t Allow Bitterness to Grow in Your Marriage” by Matthew L. Jacobson- Great post on Bitterness and how to help fix it in a marriage.

4.”What in the World did I do all day?” by Scary Mommy- Just a sweet reminder that what you are doing is important.

5.”The Kitchen Cabinet Tour” by IHeart Organizing- This post makes me want to go reorganize my whole kitchen! (Don’t say I didn’t warn you!) I hope to soon be able to show off a few of the areas I love in my home that are nice and organized!

6.”10 Cooking Skills your kids should know” by Super Healthy Kids- Some easy but good skills to start with!

7.”Top 10 Language Based Board Games” by The Unlikely Homeschool- Great games to help make learning fun!

My Favorite Things

There are many things this past school year that helped make our lives a little better. Below you will find just some of my favorite things.

1. Planner!
Unless you are strictly unschooling, you plan stuff out. It may be a little or like many of the homeschoolers I know, you plan a lot! I am a planner. And I am picky about my planners, as I don’t want to have too many of them to refer to. I just want one good one. Well, I found it. I have used it since we started homeschooling and it’s been so much help! The Well Planned Day Family Homeschool Planner (yes, it is an actual planner for homeschool homes!!) sold by hedua is what I use and LOVE. It has space to write out what you would normally put in a planner, like appointments, then it has plenty of space to plan out your homeschool for up to 4 kids! Has a small weekly section to plan out dinners, as well as shopping lists ready to tear out used for grocery or school stuff! It even has report cards for those who wish to use them! I just love the layout and the little articles throughout the planner. The great thing about this (besides how well it is laid out and how thorough it is) is that if there are parts you’re not going to use, it is still worth getting; just consider those parts as bonus pages.
Click here to check out the planner!

2. Math Game!

sumAlmost weekly, we would pull out the box of math manipulatives/tools/games to give us a break from the workbooks and help math be more fun (because you know if it’s fun you remember it better!). Our favorite so far as been Learning Resources Sum Swamp Game! It’s a basic but fun math game to help with addition and subtraction. It’s for Pre-K and up. For both my kids it’s used to work on their math facts speed (we set a timer), but at the start of the year my son was really learning from it but now its more fun then learning! But it keeps them sharp!
Click here to check out the game!

3. Bob Books!

bobThese are amazing! If you have a kid just learning to read or struggling to learn but knows the sounds letters make, give Bob Books a try. Goober struggled all year to read, but it clicked as we worked through these books. And they have just enough silliness to make kids want to keep reading them. Click here for the website to see all their great sets.


mala-easel__0135810_PE292683_S4My kids hate writing, but they do it willingly on either the dry erase side or chalk side of our Easel from IKEA. I didn’t think this would last the whole school year and almost didn’t buy it. But it was the best $15 ever spent! Both kids have gone from basic writing lessons to full book reports on this thing. And its also great for art!

So there you have it, some of my favorite things from our 2014-2015 school year. Do you have a few favorites? Share with us!


*Some links in my posts may be affiliate links. This means that I get a tiny amount back IF you order. I was not paid to write what I said and I am only an affiliate if I truly love the product/company. If you do order from one of my affiliate links, thank you! The little that I get back helps pay for me to get a monthly coffee I call “sanity coffee” (I told you it was just a little back!).