Strong Baby Boy Names

Looking for a strong, spirited name for your little guy? I’ve compiled a list of strong baby boy names that have toughness written all over them complete with meanings and a printable list.

strong baby boy names

Oh the joy of naming your little one. I can recall when we named our boys. We had such an array of different names. From biblical to family names, it’s hard to narrow down the perfect name. After all, the name your give your child will follow them forever. When it came to naming our second son, I was really undecided. Even names that were still on our list from our first son, didn’t totally appeal to me this time. It was strange. I definitely kept leaning towards stronger names.

My oldest son is so gentle and meek. He’s very obedient and tenderhearted. It seems only natural that his name is a diminutive form of John. But what to name my youngest. As it happens, my youngest son ended up being true to his namesake. He is very bold, loud and willful. His own grandmother calls him “a storm” and my husband and I tend to measure our days in hurricane categories. “How was Tristan today, honey,” my husband will ask. “He was a CAT 4! Part of the roof is missing. Our sofa is down two blocks away on the street and water and debris are everywhere.” Ha!

Seriously, I love my little guy but parenting a strong-willed child is harder than I ever imagined. I am, however, really glad we named him Tristan. It fits him perfectly. So if you are looking for a strong name for your little man, I’ve got a good list for you. Some are straight-up bad boy names, others are strong names of prophets. Yet, others have strong meanings like war, battle, and defender.

How to Choose the Perfect Name

Consider Trends

Some names are currently trendy, but in a few years they may seem very dated. On the other hand, consider that very popular names may result in having your child share the name with multiple classmates. There is nothing wrong with picking a popular name, but those issues may be problematic to you. So make sure you talk it over with your partner.

Consider It as a Middle Name

Sometimes if you and your partner disagree on a name, consider perhaps using it as a middle name instead. Sometimes names have a better ring when paired with another name

Consider Cultural and Spiritual Origins

If it is important to you, you may consider whether or not the name has spiritual or religious origins. Many names found in the Bible mean some sort of blessing from God, for example. Also, names and derivatives can be found across different cultures with different spellings and pronunciations. Take my name, Mary which is Hebrew. In Spanish it is Maria and in French, Marie. But there are also derives like Mariam, Marian and Marilyn.

Will It Be A Family Name

Sometimes it’s nice to include a name as a tribute to a family member, living or deceased. Johnny is a common family name for my family, but since my sister-in-law had also married a John, I didn’t want to trample on her ability to name her child John too. So we chose a derivative of John, Jackson.

Say The Child’s Full Name Out Loud

Say the name out loud. I had a friend who had the name Harrison picked out for her son only to realize later that the name was going to be Harry Carey which is also a name for an act of suicide! There are lots of unfortunate incidents where someone’s name also has a double meaning. Take a look at these ill-fated mishaps if you want a good laugh. Then double-check your child’s name!

Will It Be Shortened

Some names have a shortened version or nickname attached to it. My brother Matthew really disliked when people called him Matt. He always corrected people and told them it was Matthew. My poor brother has been correcting people ever since he was little. When you choose a name you may decide against it because of nicknames or shortened versions of it, so maybe be mindful about that.

baby boy

Strong Baby Boy Names

  • Abraham (father of nations)
  • Ace (expert)
  • Anders (manly, virile)
  • Alexander (defender of the people)
  • Apollo (destroyer)
  • Arne (pronounced Arn-uh) (eagle)
  • Asger (spear of God)
  • Atticus (of Attica)
  • Axel (father of peace)
  • August (to increase)
  • Austin (exalted)
  • Blaze (flame)
  • Caleb (dog)
  • Cash (maker of chests)
  • Constantine (steadfast)
  • Dash (from the ash)
  • Destin (determined, destiny)
  • Diesel (people, race)
  • Dustin (Thor’s stone)
  • Gunnar (army)
  • Gunner (bold warrior)
  • Gustav (staff of the God’s)
  • Houston (intelligent)
  • Hunter (one who hunts)
  • Idris (prince)
  • Indiana (land of the Indians)
  • Isaiah (to save, salvation)
  • Ivan (God is gracious)
  • Jarl (chieftain)
  • Jeremiah (God will uplift)
  • Jett (black)
  • Joshua (God is my salvation)
  • Justice (Doing right by the law)
  • Kylo (sky)
  • Maddox (welsh surname)
  • Magnus (big, great)
  • Maverick (independent)
  • Maximus (great)
  • Montana (from a hilly land)
  • Nash (ash tree)
  • Odin (fury)
  • Osmond (divine protection)
  • Phoenix (dark red)
  • Ranger (forest guardian)
  • Rock (stone)
  • Rocco (rest)
  • Ryder (mounted warrior)
  • Thor (god of thunder)
  • Tristan (sad, bold, loud)
  • Viggo (battle)
  • Wilder (to cause to lose one’s way)
  • Zane (gift from God)

I’ve also provided a printable version of this list to help you. You can download it below.

I hope you enjoyed my list of strong baby, boy names. Before you go, take a look at my other post, Biblical Baby Boy Names and Biblical Baby Girl Names. Thanks so much for reading and congratulations on your pregnancy. In the comments, I’d love to hear about your own name. Do you love it or hate it? Do you go buy a nickname? Let me know!

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Simple Homemade Flour Tortillas

They are little rounds of heaven. You’ll be surprised to know how easy it is to whip up a batch of simple homemade flour tortillas tonight for dinner. Today, I’m sharing my authentic recipe straight from our Tex-Mex kitchen.

simple homemade flour tortillas

Homemade flour tortillas are one of the best things on the planet. Growing up in my Hispanic family, I loved it when my mom had a steaming hot, fluffy stack of homemade tortillas waiting for us. I loved smearing butter all over freshly warmed tortillas. They were so good.

Lately, I’ve been making them often. First, they are great for lunches for the kids. I grill them up with cheese and make quesadillas for their lunch. Sometimes I have some leftover meat, but not quite enough for a meal, that’s when I shred it up for tacos or quesadillas. I’m a little embarrassed to say that it doesn’t matter how many tortillas I make, we always seem to eat them all!

So today I’m going to show you how easy it is to make simple homemade flour tortillas right in your kitchen. They are far superior to store-bought ones and once you get familiar with making them, you won’t want the rubbery, chewy mass-produced ones.

Ingredients

Tortillas are a wonderfully easy bread because they require few ingredients. In fact, you may already have what you need. First, all you need is all-purpose flour. There is no need to use any kind of special flour. As I mentioned before, tortillas are unleavened bread, so you don’t need leavening agents like baking powder or yeast. However, you can add baking powder to make them fluffier if you desire. Really, all you need is flour, lard, water and a pinch of salt.

Traditionally tortillas are made with lard. I think lard makes the best version of tortillas. The tortillas seem to have a fluffier, smoother texture with lard. I highly recommend using lard above any other fat. However, if you don’t have lard on hand you can substitute other fats. You can also make them with butter, shortening and even vegetable oil in a pinch.

You can buy lard at the store in the butter section. It costs around the same price as butter and it stores in your fridge for months. You can even make lard at home (see video below). That’s right, don’t throw those drippings away!

Tools

Many people are discouraged from making tortillas for one simple reason – rolling out circles, I know I underestimated how hard it is to roll out a perfect circle. Like really hard! Personally, I don’t mind if mine aren’t perfect, but others do. I will say that it takes lots of practice to roll them out, so don’t get discouraged if they aren’t perfect. I guarantee you regardless of their shape, they will still taste amazing! So you can use two different methods to make them. You can roll them out using a rolling pin or you can use a tortilla press.

homemade flour tortillas

Tortilla presses are great because you put your ball of dough in, clamp down and it presses out your tortilla to the perfect thickness and size. It definitely makes them more uniform looking. Using a tortilla press also seriously cuts down on time. It takes far less time to press them as it does to roll them out. So if you are making them for a weeknight dinner, this really speeds it up. I highly recommend using a cast-iron one. I love mine.

Frankly, you don’t need any special tools to make tortillas, but I’ve used my stand mixer to speed things up as well as using a pastry blender if I am doing it by hand.

Also, if you make tortillas often, you may want to invest in a tortilla warmer. They really do keep them warm for a long while. They are fairly cheap too. If you don’t have a tortilla warmer, place a clean dishcloth inside a covered dish and slip them into the dishcloth to keep them warm.

Cooking the Tortillas

To make tortillas you’ll combine your ingredients – flour, salt, hot water and your lard. If you want them to be fluffier you can also add 1 teaspoon of baking powder. If you are substituting a different fat for lard such as vegetable oil or shortening you will use the same measurements as lard which is ⅓ cup. Mix the dough with a dough hook attachment on your stand mixer or you can use a pastry cutter to cut in the lard.

You can divide your dough into sixteen portions. That will make about 16 small 6″ tortillas or you divide into twelve pieces and it will yield about a dozen 8″ tortillas. I typically make 8″ ones.

Tortillas need to be cooked one at a time unless you have a long griddle, in which case you can do two at a time. Place the tortillas down on a griddle with medium heat. Cook for about 2 mins on each side. You will likely see the tortilla puff as it cooks. That is totally normal. Flip it over. The cooked side should have some light brown spots That’s how you know it is cooked! Then repeat on the other side.

How to Store Them

So you can choose to warm your tortillas all at once or you can choose to warm them up over a period of a couple of days. Store the ready-made tortillas in your fridge in a zip lock bag. You can separate them with wax paper so they don’t stick together. I recommend taking them out of the fridge about ten to fifteen minutes before you are ready to warm them up so they cook quickly and evenly on your griddle. I think they cook better that way than when they are a stone-cold temperature.

Simple Flour Tortillas

Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 1 hr 25 mins
Course Breads
Cuisine Mexican

Equipment

  • Griddle

Ingredients
  

  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Lard, cold
  • 1 Cup Hot Water
  • 1 Tsp baking powder optional

Instructions
 

  • Add flour to a large mixing bowl.
  • Whisk salt and baking powder (optional) to the flour. Baking powder is optional but will give you a fluffier tortilla. Alternatively, instead of mixing by hand, you may use a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment.
  • Add lard to flour mixture and cut in with a pastry blender (or if using a stand mixer mix on low. You can also you use your hands if you don’t have tools. You do not need to need the dough, only mix.
  • Slowly add water until a tacky dough forms
  • Turn out dough onto a well-floured surface. Divide dough into twelve pieces. Roll each piece into a ball about the size of a golf ball.
  • Heat a griddle on your stove at medium-high heat.
  • Begin by flouring your rolling pin to prevent dough from sticking. Take a ball of dough and roll it evenly into a 7-8″ circle.
  • Place a tortilla on the hot griddle. The tortilla will puff as it cooks. Cook on each side for about 30 seconds. Flip regularly until you see light brown spots on the heated side.
Keyword bread, easy bread, flour, mexican bread, mexican food, tortillas, unleavened bread

That’s it! Enjoy your homemade tortillas with your favorite Mexican food dish. Be sure to check out some of my favorites like perfect Spanish rice and Creamy Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas.

30 Reflective Fall Journaling Prompts

Let’s get cozy! Curl up with your journal and use these 30 reflective fall journaling prompts to explore your feelings.

30 reflective fall journal prompts

Fall is such a lovely season. After the scorching days of summer, who isn’t ready for crunchy leaves, bonfires, football and pumpkin spice everything? Fall is always an emotional month for me. I start craving family time and the fresh outdoors. Here in South Central Texas, we don’t have a lot of changing of leaves. We end up driving to Marble Falls or Lost Maples, TX to see the red and gold foliage that other states get so easily.

But Autumn also brings some other deeper feelings. For instance, as we enter the Fall and head towards holidays, it also conjures up other feelings that are just beneath the surface. It’s the time of year I experience grief. The holidays usher in thoughts of the people who are gone and are no longer here with us. It always seems to catch me off guard even though it happens every year. I miss my grandmothers, particularly in the months of September and November. Also, if I am being really honest, it makes me contemplate the time I have left with my parents and those around me. I told you it was deep stuff!

Fall is a great time to reflect on change, the necessity of family and friends and for Americans in particular, it’s a time to reflect on gratitude. So today I decided to come up with some Fall journaling prompts. Hopefully, they help you explore your feelings privately and give you some perspective.

fall journal prompts
Photo courtesy of Pexels

Will 2020 Be Different

You know, it always seemed to me like more people died in the Fall and Winter than any other time. My mom used to say it was God’s harvest season. That may sound silly, but apparently it’s true. Deaths slightly escalate during the Fall and Winter months mostly because of the sicknesses that are prominent in colder months like Influenza and inclement weather which can cause more accidents.

2020 has been an exceptionally hard year for the world. When I heard about the virus in Wuhan, China back in January, I never would have guessed it would sweep the globe and cause all the hardship it has. So far, I have buried two people from it. I wonder how the colder months will affect the transmission of the virus. I anticipate spikes in cases again.

If I start thinking about it too long, I can become anxious. It has been hard to be apart from the majority of my family this year. The hardest part is my children. They are too young to really understand why we don’t see much family and friends anymore. This year I plan on coming up with lots of activities we can do at home. By the way, if you’d like some ideas on things to do in the Fall as a family, be sure to read my post, The Best Fall Bucket List. Also, one thing I love to when I’m journaling in the Fall is to make a pot of my Slowcooker Pumpkin Spice Latte. It’s so good and uses pumpkin puree instead of artificial flavors.

In the comments below, tell me what you love most about Fall. Thanks for reading.

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30 Reflective Fall Journal Prompts

  1. What is worrying you right now? Don’t censor yourself.
  2. As a relaxing exercise, doodle things that remind you of Fall.
  3. Give yourself permission to look forward to things. Write a list and don’t worry about whether or not they will actually happen.
  4. Write a letter to your anxious thoughts.
  5. Of what do you need to let go? What would happen if you stopped holding onto it?
  6. Describe a favorite Fall memory.
  7. What do you do when you are feeling lost?
  8. Write a letter to someone who has passed away.
  9. How do your Autumn traditions differ now from when you were a child?
  10. How can you be closer to friends and family this Fall in spite of the Coronavirus pandemic?
  11. Write out a playlist of songs that remind you of Fall then give yourself to listen to it.
  12. Create a happy list. Write out a list of activities or places that lift your mood.
  13. Write a letter to someone who has made your life better.
  14. How is your life different from one year ago today?
  15. How does Fall inspire you?
  16. If you could travel anywhere to experience Fall where would you go and why?
  17. Describe a perfect Fall evening.
  18. Where do you see yourself this time next year?
  19. Will your Fall traditions change because or Coronavirus? Why or why not?
  20. What can you do to reconnect with nature this Fall?
  21. What has been the worst part of this year?
  22. Be your own best friend. Write an encouraging letter to yourself.
  23. If today was your last day, what would you do?
  24. What do you need more of in life? Less of?
  25. What are the silver linings about this year so far?
  26. Think back to your favorite Thanksgiving. Describe the scene.
  27. What scares you most about change?
  28. Create your own Fall bucket list.
  29. Describe your favorite Halloween memory.
  30. What scary movie scared you as a child? Why?

Other Journaling Posts

2020: What’s Been Going On With Us

Today, I’m sharing what has happened with us since Coronavirus and a major announcement. Oh 2020, you’ve been a turbulent year!

Can we all just agree that 2020 sucks? Oh, my Lord, 2020 has been a crazy year. I remember when my naive little self swore up and down that 2020 would be my year. This would be the year I reinvented myself. This would be the year I lost weight, had a successful blog, and made a new circle of friends.

Little did I know that I’d basically not leave my house from March until…what month is it? In March I traveled six hours to see a friend of mine. God, I miss that girl! It was a hard trek with two kids and in tow, but it was all worth it to see her. Unfortunately, that was pretty much my last outing. When I came back the Coronavirus was on an upward swing and my hometown was the haven for many of the newly infected patients that were coming off cruise ships.

Throughout the rest of March and April we really just did like everyone else and stayed home. My hubby was able to work from home and I decided to have a good attitude about being shut-in. We dug in and enjoyed our home. We dined outside, played in the back yard, and had cozy family movie nights. Also, we ate about nine loaves of homemade bread. You can find my simple bread recipe on the blog.

May

In May my oldest turned five. We are so lucky to have a beach just three hours away. Port Aransas is such a fun weekend getaway and my youngest loves the ocean. We were able to socially distance the entire time we were there. The nearest people were a couple hundred yards away and the boys had a blast! It was totally good for the soul. After almost two months of being cooped it, it filled my cup.

We spent lots of time helping my parents prepare their house for sale. There was so much to coordinate and since they are both high risk, we took on a lot of the things that needed to be done.

June

In June, we did more of the same. We stayed home and really only saw my parents. The strange thing is that I had become perfectly content. I was not missing any of my old activities anymore. However, I did make one big change. I got off Facebook. Can I just be honest? I needed a real break. I was really tired of everyone’s opinions. Everyone was suddenly a doctor with Corona opinions. The political discussions were getting nasty and vulgar. My newsfeed was filled with post after post of negative, hateful comments. It was exhausting seeing that every day so I decided it was time for a break.

I’m not purposing that we stick our head in the sand and ignore current events or be uninformed about vital issues. But there is lots of misinformation and biased information around Facebook. Not only that but people are just nasty to each other about differences of opinion and when my newsfeed became flooded with that kind of stuff, well…it felt like I was watching a twenty-four hour news cycle. And who wants to do that? I want to see pictures of your cute kids and what you did this weekend.

It also dawned on me that the reason why it is so soul-sucking is because we aren’t meant to digest that amount of negativity. Years ago, before the media invaded every area of your life, you were largely unaffected and removed from the awful things happening in the world. Sure, you’d hear about big events, but you weren’t bombarded with it 24/7. These days, there is almost no escape. Everything is politicized.

I just needed to step away and regroup. Regain composure. Renew my mind. Seek some peace and balance. I really felt like God was nudging me to step away. I really struggled with it because I get a great deal of my blog traffic is from Facebook. How would my blog survive? I obeyed God and totally trusted him and his leading. It really helped. My joy came back! I spent the majority of the time loving on my kids and husband and dipping in my parent’s pool. We spent nearly every weekend with my mom and dad. It really filled my cup. It’s September now and I don’t miss Facebook at all. And my blog is more successful than ever. In fact, this year, I paid for all my blog expenses and made a profit.

June also found us in the hospital. Instead of celebrating Father’s Day with my dad, my poor pop spent it in the hospital due to pulmonary edema. COVID was starting to escalate in San Antonio and so it was rather scary to have my dad in there. It was also pretty frustrating that they didn’t really resolve his problem, they just did more of what he was already doing. Please keep my dad in prayer for healing as he is still dealing with it.

July

In July, my mom’s condition worsened and she had a heart procedure done. It was really scary but COVID was at an all-time high here in San Antonio. They sent her home from the hospital pretty quickly to reduce the chance of infection. My mom’s procedure didn’t solve my mother’s ailment. Another battery of tests would be needed to get to the root of her condition.

My grandfather also took a turn for the worse. He had stopped eating and was very sick. They hospitalized him in early July and I drove to Houston to be with him. All these hospitalizations during COVID have been so stressful. You can’t be with your loved one in the hospital which really compounds the stress. My grandfather’s health is still waning.

As for us, we continued preparing my parent’s house for selling and we spent a lot of time in our garden. We had a great harvest. My oldest son enjoyed collecting vegetables. It was such a novelty to him.

We also learned that because of COVID, my husband’s company would be doing layoffs. We weren’t worried about my husband’s job because we felt like he and his position are highly valued. Little did we know this situation would take a turn (keep reading).

We also started homeschooling earlier than expected. My oldest son was begging to start homeschooling already. You can read all about our Kindergarten curriculum. This is also the first year that I am teaching both kids.

August

My mother’s health continues to decline. This month she’ll have a biopsy and multiple tests done. They are looking to rule out cancer so we are asking for prayers.

We also finally found our grove with homeschooling. I am managing well with teaching tot school, kindergarten and my household responsibilities.

Oh, August. You were the month that changed everything. This month we were informed that my husband’s company is closing their local office. They will be laying off 20% of their staff and relocating those who remain to Houston. Y’all, this was a gut punch to us. If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know we just went through this a year ago! It was so stressful to job hunt for six months and here we are again!

With the combining of offices, we may not be as secure as we originally thought because of the potential duplication of roles. Also, with my parent’s health declining, parting from them is the very last thing I want to do. The week we found out I was really upset. Like had-a-complete-meltdown-with-God kind of upset. There were lots of ugly tears and complaining. I couldn’t sleep worrying about all the possible undesirable scenarios. I think my breakdown was also a build-up of the stressors we have been dealing with for months. The stresses of all my loved ones who are ill, the stress of selling my parent’s house (and knowing we may have to go through it again for us), the fact that life is so different post-Corona.

I decided to be obedient to the Lord and accept whatever His will is. I’ve made up my mind not to worry about this and laid it at the cross for God to sort out. Y’all, I don’t know how all of this will turn out. I don’t know what will happen or how we’ll get through this. Instead of obsessing over what I don’t know, I will dwell on what I do know. What I do know is the Lord is insanely good. His plan and His will are perfect and flawless. He radically loves us and is always working for my ultimate good (salvation and sanctification). And He never ever leaves us!

I’ll be posting more about this situation as we know more. In the meantime, please drop your prayer requests in the comments. I’d love to pray for you if you are struggling.

Our Clubfoot Journey: The Halfway Mark

We hit the two year mark in Tristan’s clubfoot journey in April. Today, I’m sharing all about our clubfoot journey and where we go from here.

I am so late writing this post. I originally, intended to write this back in April when we hit our two-year mark with Tristan’s birthday, but we had so much going on with COVID quarantine that it totally got away from me.

What Is Clubfoot

For those joining me for the first time, we discovered my youngest son was going to have a clubfoot when I was twenty weeks pregnant at our pre-natal anatomy sonogram. I was devastated to learn my son would have a physical deformity. As parents, we want to protect our children from hardships. Clubfoot is actually a fairly common deformity, affecting one in every 1,000 live births. Children with clubfoot are otherwise normal, but the deformity requires immediate intervention. Clubfoot is treatable but requires several years to heal.

Clubfoot doesn’t cause pain but if left untreated, patients will eventually walk on the sides of their feet or ankles. It is important to note that several famous athletes were born with clubfoot and went on to have successful sports careers. Troy Aikman, Mia Hamm, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Charles Woodson are some athletes that recovered from congenital clubfoot.

Our Story

You can read all about our Clubfoot Journey in my prior posts From One Clubfoot Mommy to Another and How to Make a Clubfoot Bar Cover. But if you don’t want to read those posts, I’ll bring you up to speed quickly. My son required physical therapy while still in the NICU which required the taping of his foot. Then after we were released from the hospital, we saw an orthopedic surgeon went through serial casting for the first couple of months. This is actually a plaster cast that he had to wear like when you break a bone. Since newborns grow so quickly, we had to have a new one every week. Then we had a small surgery on his Achilles tendon called Achilles Tenotomy.

Finally, we got into the boots and bar stage. At first, the Ponseti boots and bars meant that he had to wear them 23 hours a day. Infants are already hard for any mama to handle, but having your infant restricted in a mental contraption brings all kinds of new challenges. Those weren’t easy days. There were lots of tears in those early days and thankfully, those days feel like a distant memory. Eventually, we moved to wearing the boots and bars at night time and for naps. This definitely made our days feel a little more normal. Once we celebrated his first birthday, we went to night time only. Our little guy was a little delayed in walking compared to other children, but right on a schedule for a baby with clubfoot. He started walking a few months after his first birthday.

Tears In Vain

I still recall when I sat in the orthopedic surgeon’s office and he told me that these clunky metal boots and bars would be normal to my son. He told me the story of a young man who wore the Ponseti boots for four years and finally no longer had to wear them. “Can I still wear them to bed,” the young boy asked. “No buddy,” the doctor said, “you’re all done! You don’t have to wear them anymore.” The little boy appeared sad and said, “but I can’t sleep without them.”

But I can tell you, he is absolutely right. We are now at the halfway mark with my son. We still wear them twelve hours a day (basically at night time). I can tell you, he is totally used to them. It is his normal. He’s always ready to put them on at night and he even has found a way to walk around the crib with them. It’s hard to believe since they aren’t flush on the bottom, but it’s true. He walks around like a cowboy with them.

our clubfoot journey

Where Do We Go From Here

Our two-year appointment was a success. Yes, we still have to wear them for twelve hours at night. The tough news is that we will have to do that until he turns four. The reason we have to wear then for so long is that clubfoot has a habit of regressing. In fact, it is very possible that we can get all the way through our four years of wearing the Ponseti boots and bars and T may need surgery after all. Obviously, we are praying that isn’t the case.

Common Questions

I get asked all the time if he has any trouble walking. Nope! Not one bit. He runs, jumps, leaps, sprints and runs just like any other two-year-old. Anyone who saw him would never think he had any problem or deformity. The other question I get asked often is will he have any lasting effect. The answer is yes, but most people won’t notice. With his foot in the corrected position, he has a little skin that wrinkles on the outside of his ankle.

Additionally, T’s foot is shaped a little differently. One of the effects of clubfoot is that it widens the foot giving it a clublike appearance. Unfortunately, all of our therapy still does not change the width of his foot. Thankfully, T’s foot is only mildly wider than his other foot. But it does mean he will have to wear wide shoes for the rest of his life. Most people would probably never even notice.

Thank you for allowing me to share some of our clubfoot journey with you. If you are a parent with a child who has been diagnosed with clubfoot let me reassure you. Clubfoot is fixable and your child will be just fine! One day, it will all be behind you.

Free Preschool Sight Word Flashcards

Whether you are homeschooling or trying to supplement your child’s ability to read, you’ll love these free preschool sight word flashcards. Simply print them using your home computer.

Welcome, friend. We’ve started homeschooling already this year and my boys are doing awesome! My oldest is now in Kindergarten and we have been working hard on learning to read. Can I be honest with you? I was terrified to teach reading. We’ve been working on it over the summer with the help of Hooked On Phonics. If you would like to know what else we are using, be sure to read my posts Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum and Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.

My son is doing well reading emergent readers. I ended up creating some flashcards to help him and I thought I would share them here on the blog. Let me share why I think these free preschool sight word flashcards are helpful to your new reader.

Is Your Child Ready to Read?

Although this post is labeled for pre-schoolers, honestly it is for any child that is a beginner reader. “Level 1” just doesn’t have the same ring as Preschool. I thought about trying to teach my son to read in preschool, but I did not feel he was quite ready. How do you know your child is ready to tackle reading? Believe it or not, children give us clues that it may be time to start introducing reading on their own

  • They are motivated. Children who ask to learn to read or show signs of motivation to read are probably ready to put forth the effort it takes to learn reading.
  • They know how to navigate a book. Children should have already grasped the concept of how reading works like starting on the first page, going from the top to the bottom of the page and words going from left to right. They may start pointing to words and letters on the page. Additionally, they may even point and ask what the word says.
  • They recognize letters. Children should be thoroughly familiar with recognizing all letters of the alphabet.
  • They should have a good understanding of phonics. Kids should understand what a rhyme is. They should know what a syllable is and should have a good understanding of the phonics of single letters.

If your child is not there yet, don’t fret! Children learn at different stages. Some may need more familiarity with letters or letter sounds before they move onto reading. That is perfectly okay. Over the summer, my oldest started to show motivation, something he had lacked all through preschool. He would sit in his bed and pretend to read, repeating phrases he had memorized from the book. That was the main reason I knew he was finally ready. He was showing interest and motivation…finally.

sight word flashcards

Using Sight Words

Sight words are words that are short and easy enough for your child to recognize and read without having to sound it out. Sight words also make up 50-70% of the sentences we use all the time. So learning how to read sight words can immediately build confidence when your child starts reading emergent readers. Sight words help build the foundation for more challenging, complex words.

To use these flashcards, print them out on white card stock on your home computer. Make sure that your printer is set to full bleed and that it doesn’t shrink down the pages or the alignment may be off. Trim down following the trim guides. If you prefer, you can laminate them for extra sturdiness.

Sit in a distraction-free area and show your child the flashcards. Model the word. Have your child repeat the words back to you. If your child loses focus, redirect them to look at the card. Also, if your child struggles with the enunciation of the world, hold the card up to your mouth so they can see how you are making the sounds with your lips. If your child begins to become frustrated or very disinterested, stop and resume another day. Young children have a short attention span and you don’t want this to be an awful experience.

For best results, do this daily. When you feel your child is ready, challenge your child to read the words by himself or herself. If he or she is incorrect, I suggest not telling them they are wrong as this can crush budding confidence. Instead, keep it positive. Simply model the word correctly by saying, “The word is…” Then tell them they did well for trying. Always boost your child’s confidence whenever you can.

Extra Practice

If your child is practicing handwriting and you feel they are proficient enough to start writing full words, you can always give them sight words to trace or copy. This will help them become even more aware of helping them memorize them. I have a printable you can download. The words are printed in light grey and your child can trace the sight words with their favorite pencil or crayon.

I hope that these help you and your little one enjoy the beginnings of your reading journey. If you would like some other fun printables to do with your kids take a look at my other posts like Valentine’s Day Bingo and Printable Halloween Memory Game.

Our Preschool Homeschool Curriculum

Need some help teaching preschool at home? Today I’m sharing the resources we used for our preschool homeschool curriculum.

our preschool homeschool curriculum
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Today I’m sharing some of the resources we just finished using for preschool back in May. I’ve had lots of friends reach out to me about homeschooling their preschool child because of Coronavirus, so I decided to sit down and provide all of our resources. You can take a look at the Kindergarten curriculum we are using for my oldest this year in the post, Our Kindergarten Homeschool Curriculum.

Homeschooling isn’t as scary as it sounds, at least not at the preschool level. Not only will you child be learning lots of things, but it is also an incredible bonding opportunity for the two of you.

Most states don’t have regulations for homeschool preschool because preschool typically isn’t compulsory, but always check your state regulations before getting started to make sure the curriculum you choose complies with state guidelines and prepares them thoroughly for kindergarten. You can find your state regulations here.

A Preschool Introduction

Before I begin, I want to clarify that young children at the preschool level learn best by doing and by learning through play, not textbooks. I organized our school year by unit studies. Meaning we focused on a particular theme for a week and did activities around them. If you are interested, I’ll provide our unit studies below

A typical preschool day for us includes the following:

  • Math (number recognition, counting, patterns, reinforcement of shapes and colors)
  • Handwriting (how to hold a pencil correctly, learning how to write numbers, letters and basic shapes)
  • Reading (Reading favorite children’s stories)
  • Bible Study (simply reading a bible story from your favorite children’s bible)
  • Phonics: Letter recognition, letter sounds
  • Arts & Crafts (fine motor activity like coloring, painting, drawing, paper plate crafts, etc)
  • Science (informal introduction to our body, animals, plants, space, etc)

Math

One of the best teaching tools I’ve ever found are little animal counters (called manipulatives). You can use them in many different activities. I have found that children learn math best when they can visualize it. That’s what makes these counters invaluable. My oldest, now in Kindergarten, is grasping the concept of subtraction and addition thanks to these. Honestly, I think this is about all you need to teach math in preschool with the exception of learning to write and identify numbers. Here are some of the activities you can do in preschool just with counters.

  • SORT BY COLOR: Color sorts challenge your child not just to select the correct color but also eliminate the incorrect colors. It provides you with a way to gauge how well they really know their colors and how well they can distinguish between colors that are similar such as blue and green, orange and red, purple and blue, etc.
  • COUNTING: Obviously, you can use colored counters to simply count. Most counters come in packs of around 100 making it great to count all the way to the 100.
  • SKIP COUNTING: Once your child masters counting, they can learn to skip count with the counters. Like counting by twos, by fives, and by tens Many children don’t learn this until Kindergarten so it’s okay if they aren’t ready for it in pre-school.
  • PATTERNS: Counters can also be a tool for critical thinking. Identifying patterns is an early Math skill. With colored counters, you can create patterns (e.g. blue-blue, green-green, blue-blue, green…) then have your child finish the pattern. Or you can remove a counter and ask your child which color is missing. Once your child has mastered identifying patterns, challenge him or her to create their own patterns.
  • POSITIONS and QUANTIFIERS: Counters are also a great way for your child to learn positional directions like above, below, first, last, top, middle, bottom, right, left and quantifiers like more, less, greater, less than, etc. Lay them out in different directions and then ask your child to identify the one on the right, left, on the bottom, etc.

our preschool homeschool curriculum

If you prefer a workbook/textbook experience for Math, we love Horizons. We are using it for Kindergarten and my son loves it because it incorporates hands-on and textbook learning.

In fact, if you want to make things simple and just do a textbook experience, Horizons offers an entire all-in-one preschool curriculum. It covers Math, Phonics, Physical Education, Health, Science and Social Studies and comes with a DVD and manipulatives. Note: Curriculum is Christian-based.

Handwriting

I wish I had known about this program when first teaching my son to write. We tried multiple programs and every program left both of us in tears! My oldest was very resistant to writing. He was great at pre-writing activities, but had no desire to use a pencil. I had heard lots of great things about this program so in the final months of our preschool year I changed our handwriting curriculum to Handwriting Without Tears. The results were amazing! We made more progress in the first month of the program than we had in the prior 10 months of the school year. (We homeschool year round). In three months, Jack was finally writing his own name without any help or prompting. I honestly can’t recommend this program enough. Now he begs to do his handwriting first before other subjects. It has totally changed our school day.

One nice thing about the program is that it breaks the letters down into individual strokes for your child. Instead of just trying to copy the letter in full, children color and fill in a picture using the strokes that will be needed to make the letter. Then they’ll try to trace and write the letter on the next page. Over the book, it increases in difficulty. Struggling writers are often frustrated by the precision and concentration needed to write small. So the book has students practice on a larger scale in order to build confidence before asking for precision and control.

If you can afford it, splurge on the chalkboard. It made the lessons extra fun for my son and he loved the novelty of doing extra practice on the blackboard.

Reading

Many preschoolers are not ready for reading on their own yet. That’s okay. The way to encourage your child to read is to read to them. Reading to your child every day can foster life long literacy. Just one or two storybooks a day is all you need. I normally tie our books into our weekly unit study. For instance, if we are studying ocean week, we read at least one ocean-themed book a day. You don’t need to spend a fortune. The library is a great resource for books. Many libraries even allow you to search and reserve books online so you aren’t spending a ton of time searching for them at the library. You can see some of the classical books we are reading through preschool and kindergarten here in my post Classical Books for Kindergarteners. Don’t worry, they are perfect for preschoolers too.

Also, you can keep track of all the books you read with your child with my FREE Reading Log Printable.

Phonics

Learning to read starts with learning the sounds of the alphabet. It’s really that simple. There are lots of ways to teach that. My son learned the alphabet really well by three. Then after his third birthday, we started to work on all the sounds the alphabet made. It is still hard for children to start putting the sounds together into words. That’s where phonics programs really help.

There are lots of phonics programs out there. Ultimately, you will need to choose what is right for you. Explode the Code is a very popular choice for homeschoolers and it is heavy in writing and drawing as well. A good friend of ours taught their twins how to read using nothing more than the book entitled, How to Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. (We are also using that book as a supplement) A comprehensive program that some friends have used is Little Champion Early Reading, but it is on the pricey side as far as programs go. There is another popular program entitled All About Reading. And of course, there is the very popular Hooked On Phonics. We are currently using Hooked On Phonics and we started at the Pre-school level.

The main reason we chose Hooked On Phonics is that it has been around for a very long time (my own brother used it) and the price is in the middle price range of phonics programs. We used it all through pre-school and now we are using it in Kindergarten and my son loves to read the emergent readers. More than anything, it has helped him become interested in reading instead of resistant.

And that is the best kind of advice I can give you when it comes to homeschooling. If you or your child are becoming increasingly frustrated, more often than not, the curriculum just isn’t a good fit. Don’t be afraid to change what isn’t working. You know you have hit the sweet spot when your child is engaged, willing, and making progress.

Arts & Crafts

Arts and crafts are very important for preschoolers for a variety of reasons. First, arts and crafts are fine motor activities. Having to use glue, scissors, crayons, paint, etc, fine-tunes their fine motor skills which inevitably helps with writing. It gives them an opportunity to use their budding imaginations and is also a sensory experience. All you need is a small list of supplies and the possibilities are endless! Honestly, we just found a craft every day on Pinterest that coincided with our theme.

Preschoolers should also be mastering the use of scissors. By doing arts and crafts they will get plenty of practice, but if you still feel like your child needs more practice (like mine did) you can purchase a scissor practice book. I’ll provide some links for art supplies because honestly, Target is one of the more reasonable places for school supplies.

our preschool home curriculum
arts and crafts

Science

There isn’t a lot of resources for preschool Science. We just bought a few educational Science related things to help foster a love for Science. Children at this age really just need to be able to distinguish between living and non-living things. They also should be able to recognize and name body parts, basic things in nature (plants & trees, animal types, the weather, and the seasons). Keep in mind, lots of Science can be learned by simply including the subject in your daily reading.

For instance, we purchased this book with 20 STEM pre-school activities. We also received this awesome body book from our Aunt and we decided to incorporate it into our studies by going through a page or two a day. My son became totally obsessed with the human body. I’m shocked at what my son learned by going through it. Then we got a Science lab kit and we found some fun kitchen experiments. We are using it again this year for Kindergarten.

We also used a Pre-K Science workbook by DK Workbooks. It isn’t very in-depth, and I really wish it was in color instead of black and white, but it does include many of the basic concepts that preschoolers should know.

Bible Study

If you are religious and you want to start introducing God into your studies I have found at this age all that is needed is to read a bible story and ask your child some questions. In Kindergarten we are using The Complete Illustrated Children’s Bible. However, the wording may be above your preschooler’s vocabulary. My oldest child wasn’t quite ready for it when we started preschool, but was ready around Kindergarten. What a difference a year makes in a child’s vocabulary! Therefore, the other two we used at the younger preschooler age was 365 Bible Stories and Prayers and The Beginner’s Bible.

Before You Go

Thanks so much for taking the time to visit today and read about our preschool homeschool curriculum. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to leave them in the comments. I’ll try to respond promptly.

If you are nervous about homeschooling, don’t worry. You and your child will do great. It can be a little scary at first. As parents, we want to make sure our children aren’t falling behind in school, but I promise it isn’t as scary as it seems. Children learn so much by playing and by you explaining things to them. So take every opportunity to do that and try not to stress over it too much.

Check out some of my other homeschool posts like How to Start Homeschooling and Our Homeschool Room Tour

How to Start Homeschooling

Interested in homeschooling, but don’t know where to start? You aren’t alone. Take a look at my quick guide on how to start homeschooling. It’s easier to get started than you think.

how to start homeschooling

If you are here, it’s because you are considering homeschooling. First off, let me say I’m proud of you for taking charge of your children’s education. Whether you are dead serious about starting or simply want to find out more about what it takes to educate your children at home, know that you are doing a great thing for your family.

There are lots of reasons families decide to educate at home. Currently, many families are considering homeschooling due to COVID concerns and the instability it might bring to the upcoming school year. Whatever your reasons they are both valid and personal. Today, I am going share with you how to start homeschooling.

How To Start Homeschooling

Review Your State’s Homeschooling Laws

Homeschooling is legal in all fifty states. The very first thing you’ll need to do is review your state’s homeschool regulations. Homeschooling laws are regulated by your state, not the federal government. You can find your state’s homeschooling laws at HSLDA. Some states, like Texas where I live, have few regulations, giving parents lots of freedom and autonomy. However, other states have moderate regulations and a few states (primarily in the North Eastern United States) have far more stringent regulations. These laws will tell you:

  • How many school days are required
  • Mandatory subjects
  • Mandatory number of days (attendance)
  • Record-keeping
  • Testing Requirements
  • Notifying the local public school/withdrawing children from public school
  • Teacher qualifications
  • Immunization requirements

Figure Out Who Will Teach

There are a few states that require homeschool teachers to have teaching certificates. Some states only require it if you are teaching additional children that aren’t yours. That’s right! Did you know that many states allow people other than parents to homeschool? It’s true. Homeschool teachers can be parents, neighbors, aunts or uncles, even grandparents. This can be a great solution for working parents who want to homeschool. For example, in Texas, you can teach up to five kids that aren’t yours before the state requires a teaching certificate. So if my brothers wanted me to homeschool their kids alongside mine, we can. You’ll need to figure out who will be facilitating school and make sure it is in accordance with state regulations.

Decide on a Homeschooling Method

There are lots of ways to educate a child and homeschooling provides different methods of teaching. If you are homeschooling temporarily due to COVID, you may want to consider doing Traditional homeschooling. Traditional homeschooling will mirror public schools in structure and method. There are other methods like Charlotte Mason, Classical, Unschooling, and Eclectic. I’ve created a separate post entitled, Homeschooling Methods Explained, where I explain the differences in detail.

Decide on a Schedule

Part of planning your homeschool will involve planning out your school calendar. It is important to note that some states have a required number of days your child must attend school. 180 to 185 days is the average requirement. In some states, like my home state of Texas, there is no attendance requirement. This is great because it means you can finish your school year as quickly as you want or you can stretch out your school year-round with lots of days off during the year. Many families simply follow the same schedule as their public school system. For some it just makes it easier.

Personally, we homeschool year round. First, it ensures your child doesn’t forget things over the summer. Plus it means I don’t have to remotivate them (or myself) at the beginning of the school year. Also, it means we can take lots of vacations or time off anytime we feel we need it during the year. This really helps us from feeling burnt out. It means we don’t have to take our family vacations in summer when everyone else is also vacationing. (Thats right. No lines at Disney World!)

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Choose a Curriculum

The idea of choosing a curriculum can be really overwhelming to parents who are homeschooling for the first time. My advice is not to stress too much over it. If you and your child are struggling you can change the curriculum at any time! One of the best resources I ever found is a book entitled, Duffy’s Homeschool Picks. In this book, Duffy writes in-depth curriculum reviews and also helps you assess which curriculum will best meet your needs. Here are some things you need to consider when choosing curriculum.

How to Choose Curriculum

  • TEACHER-LED OR STUDENT-LED: Curriculum is designed to either be led by a teacher or by the student. In the early years, students will likely benefit more from having you work directly with them. However, as your child matures, independent learners may benefit more with the autonomy found in student-led curriculum.
  • SECULAR OR RELIGIOUS: You will need to decide whether you want religion to play a part in your child’s studies. Some religious families opt for a secular curriculum with separate religious or bible studies. Others prefer religion to be intertwined in subjects. Many secular curricula are religion-friendly, meaning there is unlikely to be anything in direct opposition to religious tenets. This will become especially critical in Science when deciding whether to teach creation or evolution.
  • YOUR HOMESCHOOLING METHOD: Curriculum varies widely in their approach to learning. Your curriculum choices may be impacted by the homeschooling method you wish to employ. Be sure to read my post, Homeschooling Methods Explained for an in-depth look at the different homeschooling methods.
  • YOUR CHILD’S LEARNING STYLE: Just like us, children have different learning styles. Some children are auditory learners, while others need to visualize concepts. Still, others benefit more from a hands-on (tactile) experience. One advantage to homeschooling is the ability to use a curriculum tailored to your child’s learning style. It is important to note that young children are generally tactile learners and may change learning styles as they mature.
  • HOW MUCH TIME YOU WANT TO SPEND: Some curriculum requires prep work on the part of the teacher, while others allow you to dive right in. Some curriculum is relaxed, others are rigorous and of course, there is everything in between. You will need to figure out how much time you are willing to dedicate. This is especially important if you are a single parent, working parent, or are teaching multiple students.
  • SPECIAL NEEDS: Consider if your child has any special needs that may influence the curriculum you choose. Not only are there curriculum choices that are special need friendly, but there are also support groups for families.
  • YOUR BUDGET: You will decide how much you are willing to spend on the curriculum. It is important to note that there are many free and low-cost options available. In fact, some school districts even offer public school online at home and it’s completely free!
  • ONLINE OR TANGIBLE: You will need to decide how much screen time your child has. There are pros and cons to both. Some parents want their kids to be tech-savvy and comfortable with online applications. Whereas other parents feel too much time online can stunt literacy. Many families find a happy medium or encourage technology in later years like high school.

Join Homeschooling Groups

One thing that is wonderful about homeschooling is the community. I have found homeschooling families to be wonderfully accepting and helpful to other families, especially those just getting started. Other families are a valuable resource for both motivation, advice, and socialization, so look into joining homeschool groups. You can find many online, even on Facebook.

Other Common Questions

I hope I have answered some of your basic questions on how to start homeschooling. If you have other questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I will answer as soon as I can. Thanks for reading!

Easy Low Carb Meatloaf

This yummy recipe leaves out all the heavy carbs and grains for a protein-packed, easy low-carb meatloaf that will be your new family favorite.

Easy low carb meatloaf

I’ve got a new recipe for you. Well, it is new to you but old to me. That’s because this is actually my grandmother’s recipe. I’ve been making this for years and when I got on the Keto diet, I thought I should share it with others for those looking for a low-carb meatloaf recipe. Hold up, don’t run away. I hope you give this recipe a chance. I know there are a lot of people out there who cringe at the idea of meatloaf. Admittedly, I’m not a meatloaf fan of the other recipes I have tried in the past. This is the only one I like!

Meatloaf is a nice hardy dish to serve your family. Here in the south, it is comfort food. I love serving it with a steaming heap of buttery mashed potatoes and some greens like Southern-style green beans or roasted Brussel sprouts and bacon. By the way, if you are looking for another easy weeknight recipe, take a look at my Easy Chicken Tetrazzini recipe before you go.

Making Easy Low Carb Meatloaf

One thing that is nice and different about this meatloaf is that it is low carb. If you are doing a special diet like Paleo, Atkins or Keto, this is going to be great for you. Obviously, if you are doing Paleo, you’ll want to try and use grass-fed beef. Lots of meatloaf recipes call for breadcrumbs, stuffing, or other grains to form the loaf shape. This recipe uses absolutely no breadcrumbs or other grains. The only carbs in it are from bell pepper, onion and a small amount of tomato sauce. Instead of using breadcrumbs to hold the meat together in a loaf, this recipe uses protein – one large egg. The egg acts as the binding agent.

The other thing that makes this meatloaf unique is that it uses ground breakfast sausage. I highly recommend using Jimmy Dean Breakfast sausage. I like to use the sage version for added flavor, but you could also use the regular or even the hot if you wish.

It takes about an hour in the oven to cook the 2-pound loaf. However, it only takes a few minutes of prep time. You can even prep it the day before, then pop it in the oven when you’re ready to start dinner. I personally don’t need a sauce with this meatloaf because it is so flavorful, but you can add your favorite meatloaf sauce to it.

easy low carb meatloaf
easy low carb meatloaf

This recipe calls for simple ingredients. Ground beef, breakfast sausage, green bell pepper, white onion, one egg, a small amount of tomato sauce and salt and pepper. Just combine and press into a regular-sized loaf pan. Then you’ll cook it for one hour in an oven preheated to 375. Let the meatloaf rest for about five minutes before serving. This keeps it juicy and allows the juices to recirculate through the meat.

Storing the Meatloaf

This is a great meal for leftovers. Because of the sausage (high-fat content), the meat doesn’t dry out when reheated. You can reheat it in the oven again or use the microwave. Also, you can store in the fridge for up to three days in an airtight container. I have also frozen it before and it freezes well for up to a month. Honestly, I’ve never stored it longer than that. If you are freezing it, just make sure you wrap it really well to prevent freezer burn.

dinner
dinnerdinne

Easy Low Carb Meatloaf

This yummy low carb meatloaf is all meat and few carbs and is sure to become a weeknight favorite!
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Total Time 1 hr 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lbs Ground Beef
  • 1 lbs Breakfast sausage Jimmy Dean preferred
  • 1 Lrg Egg
  • 1/2 Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 Sm White Onion, chopped
  • 3-4 oz Tomato sauce about half of an 8 oz can
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375°
  • In a large mixing bowl, add beef, sausage, onion and bell pepper. Knead well until combined to avoid bites of only sausage or beef. You can use clean hands or use a pastry cutter to help combine them.
  • Add one egg and knead until fully combined.
  • Add tomato sauce and knead until fully combined.
  • Transfer meat mixture into an ungreased loaf pan. Press into pan to pack meat tightly. Level the top.
  • Place in oven and bake for one hour at 375°
  • Let meat rest for 5 mins before serving.
Keyword atkins, beef, beef dishes, comfort food, ground beef, healthy meals, italian sausage, keto, leftovers, low carb, meat, meatloaf, southern recipes, weeknight favorite
meatloaf

12 Reasons Your House Still Looks Dirty

There is nothing more deflating than to spend time cleaning your house and it still not look clean. Let’s discuss 12 reasons your house still looks dirty.

12 reasons your houses still look dirty

Hey there friends. Today we are talking about cleaning. But specifically, we are talking about the things that can make your house look dirty or messy even after you have cleaned or things that make your house look dirty even when it is fairly tidy. Here are 12 reasons your house still looks dirty.

Dirty Baseboards and Corners

I am going to share a big secret to making your house look cleaner. Get down on your hands and knees. Wait, don’t click away! I know the idea of getting down on your hands and knees to clean is really unappealing! But I am always amazed at all the dirt and grime that is missed when you don’t get down to floor level. When we vacuum, sweep, and mop, dust, and dirt gets pushed towards baseboards and corners where it accumulates and settles. I’m going to give you an embarrassing peek into my own home. I hadn’t done a deep clean in my Master Bath for about a month. I had wiped down the bath, toilet, shower, and sinks, but I hadn’t mopped or descaled the glass in four weeks for no reason that I was just being lazy. At first glance, it doesn’t look bad.

bathroom

But then I got down on my hands and knees to deep clean the floor and here is what you can see. Dirt and grime in the crevice of the tile wall and baseboards. I had to get down and zoom in so you can see it, but it’s there. I always get down on the floor and clean the perimeter of the room, baseboards and corners to make sure I pick up all the dirt.

dirty corners

Not Re-Caulking

Caulk is used to seal the seams of your house – like where wood and drywall meet. It prevents bugs, water, and air from entering your home. Silicone caulk is used to seal around your cooktop range, sinks, and often tubs. Over time, the materials in your house settle and flex. Temperature changes outside cause your house to expand and contract. After years of this, you may notice gaps in molding, baseboards, sinks, tubs, showers, etc. You may notice that the caulk flakes off or has shrunk over the years. The cracks can make your house look aged and dirty. Just take a look at an area in my bathroom. I put some fresh caulk on the molding in about five minutes, but it took years off the wall. If you have gauges in the wood, you can fill it in with a little wood filler then paint over it. Take a look at all these uses for caulk in your home.

wall caulking

Clutter

Clutter…everyone has it! My maternal grandmother was a master at handling clutter! Her house was small and simple, but beautiful. Not only was she always cleaning it, but she constantly purged. I remember her having garage sales multiple times a year in order to expel the clutter from her home.

Clutter is any collection of things that are disorganized. Clutter is the opposite of clean. It creates a frenzied, messy appearance in your home. It also creates more work for you. The more things you have, the more things you have to put away. If you want to spend less time picking up and clearing away surfaces, get rid of the clutter! The most important thing about keeping a clean house is having a place for everything. When you have too many things you will find you don’t have room for them. Surfaces, cupboards, and closets will be spilling over with things and will resort to stacking and unsightly piles. Even when decorating, remember less is more. Too many decorative things makes a house look messy too.

If you want to get started, take a look at my post, 50 Things To Throw Away Right Now. Not all of us are willing to do the Konmari method of decluttering. That’s fine. Start small if you must by setting decluttering goals every week. There are even apps for your phone that challenge you to do one decluttering activity a day in just a few minutes. If you are hesitant to throw things away because you spent good money on it, read my post 8 Places to Cash In Clutter. No matter how you decide to start, set some goals, and make decluttering a habit.

Dirty Walls

Walls get dirty. I’m always surprised at how dirty they can actually get. They are easy to scuff and scratch. In kitchens, you may find splatters and drips on them. Believe it or not, these unattractive marks can make your house look dirty when it really isn’t. That’s why spot cleaning walls should be on your seasonal deep clean checklist.

You’ll be glad to know cleaning walls isn’t hard. I will add that flat paint is harder to clean up than satin or eggshell finishes. All you need to clean painted walls is some warm water and mild detergent. If you need a little more scrubbing powder you can add baking soda and scrub gently.

Lastly, keep in mind that paint dulls over time. If walls are really dingy a fresh coat of paint can do wonders for a room facelift.

Windows

For years I underestimated how much windows made a difference in your home. A while back we were touring some new homes and I couldn’t figure out why those houses were so bright and airy. It made the house feel so clean, fresh, and open. It was the windows. The windows were clean. Honestly, that’s why I don’t have blinds in my house. It kills so much natural light and when you kill the natural light it can make your home feel dark and dank. There is a reason why when you look at gorgeous homes on Pinterest none of them have blinds! I’m not throwing any shade at you if you have blinds. (No pun intended) Lots of people are in a position where they need extra privacy. I get that. I just think it is just important to know that there is a trade-off for it.

Lastly, dirty windows are also a mood killer. Dirty windows, including window screens, create a haze on your windows which again filter the natural light coming through your windows. It is amazing how clean windows can make the house feel cleaner and brighter. I find my first-floor windows are much dirtier than my second story. This is because they are closer to the dirt and soil in the ground. I recommend cleaning your windows seasonally or every six months. You can hire a service or use a pole washer like this below.

12 reasons your house still looks dirty
Photo by Francesca Tosolini on Unsplash

Paper Clutter

Paper clutter is the devil! I am a pen and paper girl. I prefer using a paper planner rather than a digital one. Honestly, I don’t like whiteboards and command stations. I prefer paper lists. And can I be honest? I forget about paperless bills! Out of sight out of mind. I prefer using paper to organize my life. Of course, that means that I also have to deal with the paper that accumulates from those things.

Paper clutter can make your house look messy and chaotic. Toss junk mail in the trash as soon as it comes in. Set a time every week to open and shred mail so it doesn’t pile up. It baffles me how quickly paper can stack up. No, you don’t have to save every drawing your kids do. It’s okay to throw them away. Make a folder for the bills you need to attend to and when you are done, shred them. Set seasonal goals to go through file cabinets and see what can be shredded or thrown away. Store coupons in a folder or envelope.

Unmade Beds

Why should I make my bed when I’m just going to sleep in it again in 12 hours? Isn’t this one of life’s greatest conundrums? Believe me, I ask myself this a lot. What’s the point? The point is that making beds makes bedrooms look so much cleaner! You can have a clean bedroom but having an unmade bed makes the entire room look messy! I think of my bedroom almost like a sanctuary. It’s a private space or maybe more specifically, a private retreat. Unlike the common areas of the house where toys and shoes are spread in frenzied disarray, my bedroom is a place that is just for me to retreat. So with that, I want it to be a quiet, calm place. Making your bed brings calm and order to your bedroom. I also feel satisfied slipping into a clean, neat bed with crisp, fresh linens at the end of a hard day. It’s soothing. So maybe consider doing it as a treat for yourself when you are tired later. I’ve learned it only takes five minutes to make my bed.

12 reasons your house still looks dirty
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Dirty Dishes

One of my least favorite chores is doing the dishes. It is tempting to put it off, but it is so overwhelming when they pile up. Even if the rest of your kitchen is clean, a sink full of dirty dishes makes your kitchen look dirty. Not only that but it makes your kitchen stinky which kills any clean vibe you had going. Frankly, I feel like a dirty stove also brings down the entire state of your kitchen. And personally I feel like when my kitchen is dirty, the whole house feels dirty. Maybe because the kitchen is the heart of the house.

I have found the best way to deal with dishes is to clean up after every meal. As a stay at home mom, I wash dishes three times a day! It’s a pain, but they’ll pile up otherwise, and letting dishes sit too long make the job harder. Food will get stuck on and you’ll have to resort to soaking dishes before you can wash them. I always try to remove all the food from dirty dishes before they go into my sink. I scrape the food out and rinse them really well. You may only decide to wash once a day. Whatever works for you! But the key to keeping a clean house is to make sure you are staying on top of chores.

Unstyled Shelves

Shelves are wonderful for collecting small objects or books in one place, but they can also make a house look messy if they aren’t organized. Also, having too many objects on your shelf can make it looked cluttered. The more things you have on a self, the less of a visual impact it makes.

Consider putting small or unsightly objects in baskets or boxes to hide them. Group books into small stacks and hold books straight and upright with bookends. You can place books vertically or horizontally, but make certain they are in neat stacks. Leave plenty of space between objects. Set large sculpture pieces or objects d’art by themselves. Showcase smaller items in pairs or threes. Lean artwork against the back wall of the shelf and keep an eye out for balance and symmetry.

Mounds of Laundry

Anyone who knows me knows one of my big pet peeves is piles of laundry! Whether it be dirty clothes on the floor or piles of clothes that need to be folded, I can’t stand to look at laundry. Laundry that isn’t tamed is a sure way to make your home look unkept. If you have a family, I’m sure you feel like laundry is one of those endless chores! Between linens, towels, and clothes, there is always laundry that needs to be washed, folded, ironed, or put away. That means that there are lots of opportunities for laundry to pile up and create a mess.

Make sure you have a hamper in rooms were clothes accumulate. Hang and fold clothes immediately after drying. Not only does this reduce wrinkles, it stops piles of washed, but unfolded clothes from accumulating. I set a timer every day for folding and putting away clothes. Keep a stain stick in your hamper for quick stain treatments. This also reduces the need to layout clothes for treating stains in your washroom. Consider a laundry schedule. For instance, maybe you wash all the bedding on Saturdays, towels on Sundays, and members of the household have a specific laundry day. You can also invest in a laundry sorter to make washing easier.

A few years back, I discovered how much better it is to store clothing vertically in drawers. You can get way more items into a drawer and it helps to ensure you don’t forget about clothes you own. Seeing it vertically helps you to put more of your clothes into your rotation.

Unused Products

Let me first say, I am totally guilty of this one. All one has to do is take a look in my pantry and you will see I have a bad habit of letting unused products pile up. This also includes products like toiletries and cosmetics. This problem is almost always created first while shopping. You see a bargain or perhaps you think you might need it, so you buy it and it goes unused once you get it home. Before you know it, you have shelves full of canned goods and toiletries that are just taking up precious space and making your house feel cluttered. I think that this is rooted in shopping impulses, but I also think that we need to be real with ourselves about whether or not we will actually use these items. It is hard to pitch unused things in the trash when you spent good money on them, so consider giving them to someone else or donating them.

Soiled, Dirty or Dusty Fabrics

The last reason that makes your house look dirty is soiled fabrics and dirty fabrics. Look at how much dust accumulates on wood furniture. That is how much is accumulating on your fabrics. It’s really important to vacuum and spot clean the fabrics in your home. Fabrics wear a lot faster than woods and as you already probably know, they seem to be a magnet for stains. Soiled, dusty fabrics can make your house look dirty even when it’s clean. That’s why it is so important to vacuum them regularly and spot clean. I talked to a few who maids that I know and they stated fabrics should be vacuumed twice weekly. Drapes can be done less often. However, they suggested that houses with indoor pets like cats and dogs should be vacuumed even more.

That’s it. I hope you are inspired to get cleaning. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what your most dreaded chore is. Confession, mine is descaling the shower!