Why We Homeschool

Today, I’m sharing why we homeschool. I hope this is helpful, if you are considering homeschooling as an alternative to public school.

why we homeschool
Courtesy of Unsplash

As a second generation homeschooler, I often get asked why we homeschool our kids. So I’m going to share a few reasons why homeschool works for us. There are always pros and cons with homeschooling and public school. Ultimately, you’ll decide what is best for you and your child.

Children Learn At Their Own Pace

The beauty of homeschooling, is that you can go as fast or as slow as your child needs. If your child struggles in math, you can take as much time as you need. You go over the same material until your child fully grasps the concepts.

In fact, some homeschoolers, avoid grades altogether. They do away with the idea that you need to learn this by grade one or that by grade 5. They allow the child to move as quickly or as slowly as they need through each subject. If you child does great at Math and Science, they can zip through that and slow English down until they master it.

To Teach Self Motivation

Homeschooling highly encourages your child to participate in their own education and progress. In fact, some curriculum is designed to be student led as opposed to teacher led. You choose the level of responsibility for your child at every age.

Homeschooling also allows you to incorporate life skills as part of the curriculum. For example, my oldest son will learn gardening, soap making and basic cooking this next school year. By the time I was in high school, I was almost completely student led (the exception was math). This prepares students for college as well as learning as an adult. Homeschooling largely focuses on teaching children how to learn, not what to learn.

To Avoid Indoctrination

This is a touchy subject, but many homeschoolers like myself, refuse to allow the government to indoctrinate children. Public schooling is based on the industrial Prussian education model. This antiquated concept standardizes education (like those stressful standardized state tests) into a sort of a factory-like method of teaching with little room for personalization.

Thankfully, homeschooling is an option for parents wanting to customize education. Some states like Texas have incredible flexibility with little government interference. Homeschoolers need to continue to protect those freedoms. In fact, in Germany and many other European countries, homeschooling is illegal. Public education is often the transportation method to indoctrinate children into liberal and socialistic propaganda. Furthermore, they demand compliance. Public schools have gradually taken over many of parental responsibilities.

Telramen op de bank in de klas / Counting-frames in classroom

Over the years, public schools have become more brazen when it comes to conditioning children. Drag queen story time for first graders. Kindergarten sex education. There is a time and a place to teach children about such things. As a homeschooler, you will decide what and when your child learns these things. This is one of the primary reasons why we homeschool.

Safety

According to many recent studies, teacher-child sexual relationships are on the rise. That does not include the 4.5 million children who are exposed to pornography at school. Schooling a child at home gives you a lot of peace of mind about their safety. With homeschooling, you don’t need to worry about mass shootings and bomb threats at your child’s school. You don’t fear sexual predators grabbing your child at a bus stop. Obviously, you can’t ever totally protect your children, but there is great peace of mind when they are with you.

Socialization

“What about socialization?” I can’t count how many times I’ve been asked that question. Recent statistics show that one in four children are bullied at school. Young girls are body shamed. There are campus sexual assaults. Sixty eight percent of 12th graders have tried alcohol while 35% have tried Marijuana. Nearly 25% use illicit drugs.

We have family members who are teachers in Ohio. In their small town school district, six children committed suicide in one year. It’s suspected the suicides clustered after the original child was memorialized and recognized. Public schoolers can have their “socialization.” Homeschoolers desire something better for their kids.

There are so many social resources for homeschoolers. Band, art classes, debate, science labs, orchestra, sports, and other activities are available for homeschoolers. The difference it is done with parents (and under your direct supervision) instead of strangers. Through homeschooling, you can be highly selective with whom your kids socialize. Also, this isn’t the same as sheltering your kids. It’s about grounding them before they’re let fully free into the world.

Time Flexibility

With homeschooling, you select the days you have school. If you have to take a day off mid-week, it can easily be made up on the weekend. Sick? No problem. Just move the curriculum over by a day.

In Texas, there isn’t even a minimum number of school days! You can even vacation any time you want. No need to wait for the unbearable summer heat to travel. (Disney in the off season? Yes, please.) This is especially easy if you homeschool year round. Homeschooling year round allows you to take more time off during the school year when you or your child need a break. It also stops children from “forgetting things” or getting “rusty” over the summer.

Courtesy of Pexels

One thing I loved about being homeschooled was that I could start and finish my day at any time. In high school, for example, I used to start my school day early (like 5 a.m.) and then be done around lunch time. This allowed me time for other things – like graduating a year early.

Choose Your Own Curriculum

I’ve heard numerous teachers in my family and friend circle, complain about curriculum. In public school, you have no control over what or how your child is taught.

Also, one size does not fit all. Some children, often boys, are tactile learners and benefit from more hands-on learning. Early in my homeschooling journey I discovered my eldest son hated flash cards and worksheets, so I introduced some hands-on activities instead. By homeschooling you can alter the curriculum to best fit your student instead of forcing your child to conform to that particular style of teaching.

A veteran homeschooling mom of twelve (yes, twelve) once said to me, “if you and your child are both frustrated and burnt out, it’s almost always the curriculum.” Having control of your child’s curriculum, means that if you or your child are struggling it can easily be changed, even mid-year. I felt unchallenged in school, but once I was homeschooled and was able to move my own pace, my own way I found my groove.

Freedom of Religion

In 1960, atheist Madalyn Murray O’Hair, filed a law suit against the Baltimore public school system. This suit ultimately led to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling against compulsory prayer in public school. Since then, religious rights have slowly eroded away in public schools. Students can no longer fully practice or live out their Christian faith without risking persecution or penalty. Homeschooling permits the full teaching and exercise of your faith, even if it isn’t Christianity.


Next week, I’ll be debunking common myths around homeschooling. Be sure to follow my blog so you don’t miss any homeschooling posts. I’ll also have teaching resources very soon!

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Scripture Reading – Faith

Cataclysmic events can shake our faith. But don’t stay in doubt too long. Pray this month long scripture reading – Faith and watch your faith grow.

Scripture Reading - Faith
Photo courtesy of pexels

Hello, friend. I’m glad you’re here. Before we begin, let me pray over you. I pray that the Holy Spirit blesses you with the spiritual gift of wisdom – that what you’re about to read increases your faith and trust in the Lord. If you are struggling with faith today, I pray that he breaks the spiritual stronghold of doubt. Amen.

This has been a huge area of testing recently in my life. It’s easy to feel full of faith until something knocks the wind out of you. So since I’m also being stretched in this area, I thought I’d share with you how God is guiding my heart.

What is Faith

What exactly is faith? Paul explains in his letter to the Hebrews, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for – the conviction of things not seen. (Heb 11:1)” THE ASSURANCE OF THINGS HOPED FOR.

Hope is the happy anticipation of good. Therefore, faith is the assurance of good, but in particular – when it is not seen. It is the conviction, the belief, that regardless of the current appearance or evidence, good is coming. To me, faith is built upon two pillars – hope and trust. You can’t have one without the other. The combination equates to faith.

Faith After Disappointment

“But what if I’ve been disappointed? I had faith and was disappointed!” Maybe you had a prayer you didn’t feel was answered or a situation that didn’t change. I know the feeling. In fact, over the last few months, I’ve struggled with this. In fact, today I experienced another very big disappointment…again! It’s very hard to get back to trusting God. But this is where you have to dig deep in TRUTH instead of fickle emotions.

If you feel stuck in disappointment, I encourage you to read my post How to Handle Disappointment in God.

How Do We Strengthen Our Faith

Abide in Christ

I had often heard pastors and priests talk about “abiding in Christ.” For years, I thought it meant to surround myself in the warm, basking love of our savior. Almost like a warm blanket, I was to wrap myself up in him and his presence. But that isn’t what the word abide means.

The word abide actually means to “obey – to follow, to heed, conform to, consent to, acquiesce, pay attention to, agree to.” This takes on an entirely different meaning. To abide is a command of obedience. More directly, it means yielding our will to His.

Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?

Luke 6:46

Don’t misunderstand this as legalism, which is putting law above the gospel and reducing it down to rigid moral codes. Rather, our obedience is an act of love (John 14:15) and allows us to be malleable to God’s great plan for us. We shouldn’t expect full blessing in exchange for partial obedience.

Ask

If there is one valuable lesson I’ve learned as an adult Christian, it’s that I am incapable of anything in my own flesh. Trying to do things on our own – including following Christ, is all but impossible in our own humanness. Even with our best intentions, we are riddled with imperfections and shortcomings. That’s why it’s important that we ask God for help – including help with trust and the gift of faith.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe you have received it, and it will be yours.

Mark 11:24

Ask God to increase your faith. You have not, because you ask not. Ask! And be bold!

Ask, and it shall be given to you; seek and you shall find; knock and it shall be opened to you: for everyone that asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

Matthew 7:7-8

Start Small

While I would love for you to take a grandiose, blind, leap of faith, I know how hard it is to be afraid of doing so. After all, if you could do that, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. So if you have to, start small. Just take the first step in faith – believe He hears you! Then believe He cares about you. Next, believe that he is good. Keep taking those baby steps towards believing! Over time, with prayer and scripture, your faith will mature.

scripture reading faith

Remember God’s Promises

God has given us the greatest spiritual food for faith – His word. His word is full of promises for when we are struggling with faith. Clutch to them like a life raft! Hold on to them and don’t let them go. Write them on sticky notes and put them on your fridge if you have to, but keep God’s promises in front of you! Remind yourself daily, that God’s ultimate plan won’t disappoint. He has something better for you.

Pray scripture aloud. I found this to be a powerful tool to increase faith and ward off the enemy. As Paul writes to the Romans, “so faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17). Hearing the living word of God increases faith.

Hebrews 11:6

Remember There is a Battle Going On

It’s easy to forget that there is a real life battle going on for your soul. We have an adversary. Scripture calls him “the accuser,” “a deceiver,” and a “murderer.” The very introduction of Satan as the serpent has him causing Adam and Eve to doubt God and his command. Jesus himself called Satan the “father of lies” (John 8:44).

When he lies, he speaks according to his nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies.

John 8:44

Renounce doubt! Doubt is a tool of the enemy. More to the point, doubt is the enemy of faith. Satan will tempt you by planting seeds of doubt, but you decide if you water it, root it, nurture it, and tend to it. Doubt must be dealt with like a weed. As soon as you see it popping up, yank it out by the root. Don’t allow it to grow in you.

Satan immediately comes and takes away the word which was sown in them.

Romans 10:17

Simply put, Satan hates faith, which is produced by the word of God. The good news is this – Satan will not win.

Scripture Reading – Faith

  1. Mark 11:22-24
  2. 1 Corinthians 2:5
  3. Matthew 21:22
  4. Luke 1:37
  5. 1 Corinthians 16:13
  6. Romans 5:1-2
  7. Psalm 119:30
  8. Romans 1:17
  9. James 1:5-6
  10. Hebrews 11:1
  11. Psalm 46:10
  12. John 8:24
  13. John 7:38
  14. Romans 10:17
  15. Mark 5:36
  16. 1 John 5:5
  17. Romans 10:9
  18. 2 Corinthians 5:7
  19. Hebrews 11:6
  20. Psalm 29:11
  21. Psalm 16:8
  22. Galatians 2:16
  23. Romans 8:24
  24. Hebrews 10:39
  25. 2 Corinthians 4:18
  26. Hebrews 3:6
  27. Ephesians 2:8-9
  28. Hebrews 11:7
  29. Hebrews 11:27
  30. Ephesians 3:16-17

In closing

Thank you for joining me today. If you’ve missed previous scripture readings, I encourage you to read them here:

Don’t forget to pin this post for a rough day. Also, before you leave, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for future devotionals.

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Happy Planner Password Log

Don’t forget passwords anymore! I’m sharing a FREE beautiful black, white, and blush, classic sized Happy Planner password log.

Happy Planner password log

This post contains affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through a link I provide, I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you. Your support helps me offset the costs incurred with this blog. See my full disclosure policy.

Hey there, friend! I’ve got something super cute for you today! A Happy Planner password log.

Password Keeping

Girl, I’m getting old. I can’t remember anything if I don’t write it down. Passwords are no exceptions. And these days…passwords are getting harder to remember. I mean first we just needed a capital letter. Then a capital letter and a number. Now they want special characters! What next?

Over the last couple of years, I’ve just scribbled them into a sheet in my Happy Planner ®, but as it grew, I had the need for more organization. I’m shocked that Happy Planner hasn’t come out with a password log yet, especially in the household extension pack.

So I decided to make one…at least for you and me to use that will fit inside your classic Happy Planner. Best of all, I’m offering it FREE to you here on the blog!

happy planner password log

Directions for your Happy Planner Password Log

  1. Download the PDF file at the end of this post.
  2. Print out on regular 8.5 x 11″ paper
  3. Trim down to size by following the grey trim guide lines.
  4. Punch with your classic Happy Planner punch.
  5. Enjoy and use! Subscribe to my blog for more goodies like this!
Guide lines

That’s it! Thank you for downloading my Happy Planner password log. I love making helpful things like this for my readers. In the comments below, I’d love to hear what other printables you’d love to see!

Before you leave, check out some of my other Happy Planner related posts:

Lastly, please take a moment and subscribe to my blog. I send out regular FREEBIES like this (yay! Happy Planner stuff) all the time to members only. Never miss a free download! Also, be a first in line for subscriber only Happy Planner giveaways!

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How to Use the Wellness Happy Planner

Take control of your emotional, mental, and physical health. Today, I’m going to show you how to use the Wellness Happy Planner.

how to use the wellness happy planner

Hey there, friend! Do you struggle to look after yourself? I know I did. As a mama of two, I was always on the back burner. But then I found the Wellness Happy Planner! I was already an avid Happy Planner, but finding this helped me schedule and prioritize, much needed “me time.” Today I’m going to show you how to use a Wellness Happy Planner ® to practice self-care.

To learn more about wellness and how to care for yourself, I encourage you to read my prior post 30 Day Wellness Challenge. In that post, I provide a FREE printable to help you get ideas for emotional, mental and physical wellness.

Also, in lieu of reading this post, you can watch a video on How to Use the Wellness Happy Planner.

What is a Wellness Planner

The question I get asked a lot is, “what is the difference between a fitness and a wellness Happy Planner?” The fitness Happy Planner is designed to track diet and exercise. The wellness planner can certainly track diet and fitness if desired, but it really offers a deeper health check of body, mind, and soul.

Available Sizes

The Wellness Happy Planner is available as an 18-month planner.

Layout

Right now the Wellness Happy Planner is a vertical format. Like the typical vertical layout, it has three boxes. However, the last box has a journal prompt with a a square grid space. You certainly don’t have to use this space for journaling. It is very easy to cover up with stickers.

how to use a wellness happy planner

The planner has monthly tabs as well as monthly spreads. The weekly side bar includes a exercise habit tracker, a small prompt and a “currently.” section. See my video below for a flip through of the new 2019-2020 Big Wellness Happy Planner.

How To Use the Wellness Happy Planner

There are endless ways to use the wellness Happy Planner. Personally, I use it as part journal, part planner and part memory planner. I use it to express thoughts and work through emotions like a journal. I also use it to actually plan and make time for self-care. Lastly, I use it retroactively to record good things that happen to me as well as gratitude. I think of it as my own authored book of inspiration. If you are struggling with what to record or plan in your planner, here are a few ideas to help get you started.

Body

  • More water
  • Exercise routine
  • Taking walks
  • Food journaling
  • Accountability / Accountability partner
  • Sleep goals
  • Weight loss journey
  • Rest / relaxation goals
  • Spa time / Long baths
  • Skin care routines

Mind

  • Reading
  • Puzzles
  • Unplugging from electronics
  • Being mindful
  • Play an instrument
  • Writing
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Taking a class
  • Decluttering
  • Play an instrument

Soul

  • Prayer / Meditation
  • Take a break from social media
  • Journaling
  • A date with your spouse of friends
  • Feed yourself positive thoughts
  • Listen to music
  • Quality time with friends or family
  • Bible study
  • A date with yourself
  • Work through forgiveness or grief
  • Be creative

I hope I’ve given you ideas on how to use your wellness planner!


Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to my blog for more Happy Planner ideas!

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Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

Creamy green chili chicken enchiladas? Yes, please. Learn how to make this simple weeknight recipe in all it’s cheesy, creamy goodness.

I’m Hispanic. I don’t care what’s inside an enchilada – it’s the best and it’s hard to get it wrong! I love chicken enchiladas. Bu these creamy green chili chicken enchiladas are my favorite. Over the years, I’ve used this recipe to make different variations of my favorites. That’s what makes this recipe great. You can swap out the chilies for seasonal ones.

For example, one of my favorite things about the late summer here in Texas, is that Hatch Chilies are in season! They’re hot, but oh my goodness, they are wonderful roasted! Our local HEB grocery store, even fire roasts them for you in August.

I also love using poblano peppers at times. Poblano peppers are kind of a wild card though. Every now and then, you get some real hot ones!

Making Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

I love this recipe because it can be a great use for left over baked or rotisserie chicken. My local grocery store actually sells shredded rotisserie chicken that is already shredded for you. They even separate white from dark meat if you want it. Come on, it can’t get easier than that. HEB has totally spoiled me.

I make this recipe for weeknight dinners. It’s about 20-30 mins of prep time, with a 30 min cook time. But I’ll tell you a secret, if you are in a pinch with time you can create an enchilada casserole instead. You’ll need the same ingredients, but instead of rolling the enchiladas, you later them. A layer of tortillas, followed by chicken and cheese, then sauce, then continue layering. Top with cheese. The cook time is the same. It’s just as good but you can cut the prep time to about 10 mins or less.

shredded c

Serving

I love to pair this dish with other Mexican staples like charro beans and Spanish Rice. In a prior post, I provide my family’s recipe for Perfect Spanish rice. I also love to top this dish with pico de gallo.

If you’re worried about it being too hot with the pico, simply leave out the jalapeños and just make it with tomato, onion, and cilantro.

Creamy Green Chili Chicken Enchiladas

Creamy green chili chicken enchiladas? Yes, please. Learn how to make this simple weeknight recipe in all it's cheesy, creamy goodness.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Mexican
Keyword: chicken enchiladas, creamy enchiladas, enchiladas, green chili, poblano enchiladas, weeknight dinner
Servings: 20 Enchiladas

Ingredients

  • 8 oz Sour cream
  • 1 Lb Shredded chicken
  • 20 Corn tortillas
  • Vegetable cooking spray
  • 1 10oz Can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 3.5 Cups Bag of Mexican shredded cheese perferably Kraft
  • 1 4oz Can of diced green chilies
  • 1 15 oz Can of Verde (green) enchilada sauce
  • 1 Cup Pico de gallo optional

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350. Lower the racks down so that the dish will be in the center.
  • In a large bowl, combine cream of chicken soup, verde enchilada sauce, and sour cream . Whisk well until fully blended.
  • Spray a large baking dish (9×13) with cooking spray to prevent sticking.
  • In a large bowl, add shredded chicken. Drain green chilies and add to chicken. Blend well and set aside.
  • Separate 2 cups of shredded cheese. Set the rest aside.
  • On a work surface, lay a tortilla flat. Sprinkle a small amount of cheese lengthwise. Then add the chicken mixture. Carefully roll the tortilla and place it seam side down. The cheese will help hold the enchilada together as it cooks.
  • Continue with all the tortillas until finished. If you're using a smaller dish, you can add a second row on top.
  • Pour the cream enchilada sauce mixture all over the enchiladas. Top with the remainder of the cheese.
  • Bake for 30 minutes until bubbly and thoroughly cooked.
  • Serve with charro beans and spanish rice. Garnish with pico de gallo, if you wish
creamy green chili chicken enchiladas

Storing & Reheating

You can prepare the enchiladas for advance. This is particularly great for dinner parties. Roll the enchiladas, but store in the fridge without the sauce. When you’re ready to heat, pour the sauce and pop in the oven.

These enchiladas store fairly well. You can even freeze them in a good, air tight container suitable for freezer storage. I recommend keeping the enchiladas for no longer than three days in the fridge. They warm up better in the oven than in the microwave though.


I hope you enjoy this recipe! It’s one of my favorites. Don’t forget to e-mail subscribe for more recipes and freebies!

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The Ultimate Summer Bucket List

Summertime is here. Here is the ultimate summer bucket list full of fun activities to do with your family.

The Ultimate summer bucket list
Photos courtesy of Unsplash

This post, the Ultimate Summer Bucket List, May contain affiliate links. Should you make a purchase through one of the links I provide I may receive a small percentage at no cost to you.

Summertime! It’s the season of pool parties, fireworks, and grilling out. Days are longer with sunlight and the evenings are balmy and sultry. Kids are out of school and us parents are scrambling to find things for them to do.

So today, I’m compiling a list of some of my family’s favorite Summer activities – The Ultimate Summer Bucket List.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash

Things To Do

We almost always take a small staycation. It’s fun to play tourist in your home town and explore where you live. We also do a summer road trip. This can be to a neighboring city on a weekend or a full trip across the country. Summers are a great time to satisfy your wanderlust.

Here in Texas, we survive summers by living in water as much as possible. This can be in your own backyard, water parks or resorts. But water activities automatically make me enjoy the scorching hot days of summer.

I always consider summer the season of simple pleasures. Sipping tea on a porch in the afternoon, catching fireflies at dusk, watching the fireworks on July 4th. It’s a great time to enjoy the little things in life.

The Ultimate Summer Bucket List

  • Go fishing
  • Watch fireworks
  • Eat watermelon
  • Visit a splash pad
  • Plant summer vegetables
  • Go camping
  • BBQ / Grill out
  • Make dye shirts
  • Have a staycation
  • Make popsicles
  • Visit a museum
  • Play softball
  • Sip tea on a porch
  • Ride a rollercoaster
  • Watch a sunset
  • Visit the Zoo
  • Build a sandcastle
  • have a water balloon fight
  • Go hiking
  • Watch a Major League Baseball game.
  • Go for a family bike ride
  • Play with sparklers
  • Collect sea shells
  • Visit a theme park
  • Stargaze
  • Make s’mores
  • Plant a palm tree
  • Sit by a campfire
  • Eat fresh pineapple and coconut
  • Go on a vacation
  • Eat ice cream cones
  • Make & Drink Lemonade
  • Play mini golf
  • Go swimming
  • Visit the beach
  • Catch fireflies
  • Go on a weekend road trip
  • Visit a water park
  • Eat snow cones
  • Play in a sprinkler
  • Go to a picnic
  • Play beach volleyball
  • Watch a summer movie outside
  • Visit an aquarium

Don’t Forget to Pin for Later

The Ultimate Summer Bucket List

I hope you guys have an awesome summer with your spouse and kids. Remember, you only get 18 summers with your kids under your roof. Make each one count.

18 summers

I’d love to hear what you love doing in the Summertime! Also, take a look at my other seasonal bucket lists:

The Ultimate Christmas Bucket List

The Ultimate Spring Bucket List

The Ultimate Fall Bucket List

Happy Planner, Jobs and Hope

Happy Planner, jobs, and hope. Today, I’m sharing a little about the things going on in our lives this week as we continue job hunting and chase dreams.

Happy Planner, jobs and hope

First, I want to thank all the good friends and readers who have asked about our job situation. It’s been a bumpy ride full of highs and lows. So, I thought I would write here about the recent plot twists that have occurred for those interested. If you need to catch up, read my prior post, The Next Chapter.

The Job Stuff

Easter weekend we drove to Houston for an interview and Dan got the job. We felt relieved. We received an offer the following week. However, it was lower than expected and over the next few weeks, hubby tried to renegotiate the terms, but they didn’t budge much. They wouldn’t pay to relocate us to Houston, nor would they allow us to push out the start date so we could afford the move financially. Talk about a rock and a hard place. The deeper into the woods we went, the more it seemed like maybe this isn’t the job for us. Honestly, this whole process has been so stressful and discouraging. But we keep putting our hope in the Lord, that even though we can’t see it, He is working on a solution.

Dan has another opportunity in Houston. So we will wait to see if that produces any fruit. We’ve passed the phone interviews so we are on our way to an in-person interview probably this coming week. Please continue to keep us in prayer that we find the right job.

The Happy Planner

Onto my news. This week, I applied for The Happy Planner ® planner squad. The squad is group of people (fans) selected to represent the Happy Planner as ambassadors online and on social media.

Until now, I’ve been too intimidated to apply for the planner squad. Too afraid of the rejection, if I’m being honest. But I’ve had so many people encourage me to apply this year because they know the deep devotion I have for the Happy Planner. They saw the transformation I had when I first discovered it in 2015. They see me share it enthusiastically with everyone I meet. As one friend put it, “you’re already an influencer because of everyone you introduced it to – this just makes it official.”

If you want to read my full sappy love story with the Happy Planner, read my post, How the Happy Planner Changed My Life. I realize the odds are against me. The Happy Planner fanbase is bigger than ever, but it’s like the lottery. Someone has to win and you’ll never win if you aren’t playing. It’s a dream of mine.

Can I tell you a secret? I almost feel ridiculous for even trying.

It feels impossible to be selected, but we have to chase our dreams no matter how silly or unlikely they might seem to others. Don’t give up on your dreams. Giving up is the surest way to fail.

happy planner, jobs and hope

Hope

The past twelve months has seemed like a “a losing season.” There was lots of loss (friends, family, jobs). But I have hope that things are about to change. Hope is the happy anticipation of good. It is the belief that good things will happen regardless of current evidence. Through hope, we know our situation can change, for the good, in an instant.

I have hope. I believe God has good things in store for us. He can give Dan the right job and me the planner squad. He’s bigger than any road blocks. But even if he doesn’t, I know he still has good, amazing plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). I know there are still good things on the horizon, even though things feel bleak now. I have hope.

The Ugly Side of Blogging

So you started a blog. Now what? Blogging may not be what you expect. Here is the ugly side of blogging – the hard truths no one tells you.

the ugly side of blogging

Starting a blog can be a little overwhelming at first. There is so much to learn. Today, I’m sharing the ugly side of blogging. These are hard truths that no one really tells you when you first start. You may see lots of people making a huge income on their blog. It can be really discouraging when you don’t see your blog taking off immediately. That’s why I’m sharing some revelations about how blogging really works.

Before you leave, be sure to read my post What I Learned In Four Months of Blogging. This post will also provide you with a lot of helpful support as you are first starting.

The Ugly Side of Blogging

Your Blog Needs a Medic

Your blog needs a IT person – oh wait…that’s you! Let me tell you, I was totally unprepared for this! As we speak, my comments box won’t work. It was there one minute and gone the next. I’ve checked all my WordPress settings and everything is as it should be. I’ve scoured support forums and asked fellow bloggers – they suggest what I’ve already done. If there is one thing I didn’t anticipate, it was how much my site would need debugging, recoding, and other technical things I’m clueless about!

To an outsider, my blog is functional, perhaps even pretty. No one would guess how many technical issues I struggle with just to keep it up and running. Plug-ins fail and start havoc when they create conflicts with themes or new versions of WordPress. You get broken links, page not found errors, and images that won’t load. Widgets that won’t work. Forms that don’t send. Like any website, there are bugs and hiccups that need to constantly be worked out. Websites need maintenance and your blog is no exception. For me this is the ugliest side of blogging since I’m not very savvy.

What Helped Me

  • Asking other bloggers for help and support
  • Dedicating time every week to learning about the technical aspects of WordPress
The ugly side of blogging
Courtesy of Pexels

You Need to Grow Thick Skin

Blogging is a great way to put yourself out there and share your unique ideas and opinions. The bad thing about blogging is you’re putting yourself out there and sharing your unique ideas and opinions. Seriously. Not everyone will like what you have to say. It doesn’t even have to be controversial!

Being opinionated or even just openly sharing your views will leave you open to judgement, attacks, and arguments. It’s jut the nature of the business. Being in the spotlight means being under a magnifying glass – it’s means you leave yourself open to criticism and let me tell you – you need to grow some thick skin. I am incredibly thin-skinned so this has been an added challenge to blogging.

What Helped Me

  • Remember, just because someone says it, doesn’t mean it’s true. Consider the source.
  • You can black list people who are perpetually negative or nasty on your blog – use it!
  • Remember that it’s easy to strike body blows from behind a keyboard and screen. It’s easy to be a bully when you don’t have to look anyone in the eye.

Readers Aren’t Interested In Reading Your Diary

I see a lot of start up blogs that read like a diary. The creator is concerned because no one is reading the content. Let me be honest, very few people are interested in reading your diary. Your content should provide something for your reader. Think of it as an exchange for their time. I have found, the best way to do this is to answer a question, debunk a myth or provide help to a problem.

That is not to say you can’t be personal. Quite the opposite, you need to establish a relationship with your readers. Blogging is all about community. But your blog should also entertain, engage, and provide something valuable to your reader. It’s all about finding balance.

What Helped Me

  • Pay attention to the questions people ask about your niche.
  • Balance personal posts with informational ones.
  • Pay attention to the engagement trends – this tells you what your readers are interested in.
  • Use email lists to share more personal things.
the ugly side of blogging
Courtesy of Pexels

You Might Feel Like Your Writing to Yourself

Ugh. This is a tough one because it can make you want to give up. There is nothing more deflating than spending a week creating a great post and knowing that it is full of useful tips and information – and only for no one to read it. When I say no one I really mean just a handful of people. Keep in mind, most people don’t even read – they skim. They pick up the gist and move on. You may try very hard to engage readers only to hear crickets. I know. I’ve been there before in my seven months of blogging. It’s depressing.

What Helped Me

  • Algorithms can often be to blame for this. Facebook for example, doesn’t prioritize the post if it contains an outside link. Sometimes it can be as simple as the social media account not sharing it in a lot of newsfeeds.
  • Don’t take it personal. Even your best followers will not read every single post you write.
  • It takes a long time to build a following. It doesn’t happen overnight.

Promote and Then Promote Some More

This leads us to the next topic: promotion. When you first start your blog, you may be shocked by how much you need to promote it. You can’t be bashful and run a successful blog. You have to be a little aggressive and very consistent in your promotion campaigns.

What Helped Me

  • Don’t assume your readers know what to do with your post. You need to tell them to share or comment on the post and e-mail subscribe or follow every chance you get.
  • 80% of your time should be promotion. Promote your blog, posts, products and services on every social media account.
  • Don’t forget to promote older posts now and then. Every time you promote it, it will reach new people.
  • Bloggers are good about helping other bloggers. Join blogging communities on forums, Twitter, and Facebook groups. Lots of them will share your posts in exchange for sharing theirs.
  • Don’t wait to set up your email list. Utilize it for help build regular traffic.
man writing
Courtesy of Pexels

Money Is Slow

If you’re like me, you see all the Pinterest click bait posts about making money blogging. Like lots of money! But I want to be honest with you. Making money is slow. This is because it takes a while to build up your traffic. It also takes time to learn which affiliates pay well and which ads attract people. A money making blog isn’t built overnight.

If you’re selling digital products, it takes time to create them, post them, and promote them. If you think getting people to read your posts is hard, it’s harder still to get someone to buy something or spend money. Also, when it comes to affiliates, it can be discouraging to see you get mere cents for page views. This is why high traffic is so important.

What Helped Me

  • Keep your advertising relative to your content
  • Utilize every affiliate network you can
  • Monetize every blog post
  • Advertising should not take the place of quality content
  • If you’re selling products, run discounts, giveaways, and FREEBIES to help engage potential buyers

It Requires Investment

Starting a blog doesn’t cost a lot of money. All you really need to get started is a domain and hosting. But there is a rub. If you really want to be successful, it will cost you something. It may be a blogging e-course, a professional theme, or premium plug-ins, but chances are you’ll end up spending money along the way.

You’ll also invest a lot of time. Not just in writing and promoting, but also learning about the industry. Either way you will need to commit to investing time, money, and energy.

What Helped Me

  • Do your research before spending money
  • Set a budget for how much you are willing to spend each month or year
  • Determine how much you will post (set up an editorial schedule) and how much time you will dedicate to your blog. Then prioritize it in your schedule. I’ve found using a planner is helpful.

I hope this post, The Ugly Side of Blogging, sheds some light on how blogging actually works. If you’re just getting started, I encourage you to keep going. Don’t be discouraged, you’re off to a great start!

Super Easy Mother’s Day Card

A handmade greeting card is a gift in and of itself. Learn how to make this super easy Mother’s Day card with just 5 materials.

Super easy mother's day card

Card Making

I love card making. I’ve been card making for almost 20 years. I started when I lived in England in the late 1990’s. I worked in a small commercial art gallery and sold my cards to make some quick cash as an artist. I’ve kept up the hobby for years.

I love giving handmade cards. They give a very special touch to occasions. It’s touching to know that someone has created a one-of-a-kind, thoughtful gift for you. The card itself becomes a gift.

This is especially nice if you aren’t actually giving a gift and just sending a card. If your giving a gift card, it certainly adds a personal touch to an otherwise sterile gift.

Use This As a Template

Today, I’m going to share you how to make a super easy Mother’s Day card. However, you can use this template over and over again for different occasions. We’re using a flower as our focal point and we’re spelling out the word, “MOM,” but you an easily swap this out for other occasions.

Materials

  • Colored card stock
  • Two paper or sticker borders
  • 1 die cut or chip board flower
  • Thickers letters: M, O, M

Instructions

Time needed: 10 minutes.

Super Easy Mother’s Day Card

  1. Select your materials

    Start by picking your floral chipboard centerpiece. You will coordinate all your other materials with this focal piece. You can also use a card stock or die cut flower, but I recommend applying it with foam tape to raise it up and add dimension.

    Borders

  2. Cut card stock

    Use either a pre-made 4×6 card or simply trim a 8.5 x 11″ card stock down the middle horizontally using a paper trimmer.

  3. Apply two borders

    Find two borders that coordinate with the colors of your flower. Apply the first border on the bottom third of the card. Using the “rule of thirds” adds interest to your card. Apply the second border above the first.

  4. Apply your flower

    Next, apply your flower on the left hand side. Overlap it on the borders. Apply flowers

  5. Add your letters

    Add your Thickers letters to spell out the word ”MOM.” I chose wooden letters but you can use any style that coordinates with your theme. Make sure to slightly overlap your borders for added interest.

    Add letters

Super easy Mother’s Day card

When you’re done, place the card in an A4 envelope. Keep in mind, if you are mailing, this card may require extra postage. Cards that are rigid or bumpy require extra postage because they are non-machinable. See USPS for more details.

There you have it, a super easy Mother’s Day card that you can make in just a few minutes. Finally, you’re looking for more crafts, see my Retro Sequin Ball Ornaments.

5 Things I Want For Mother’s Day

Sure perfumes and chocolate are great. But that isn’t actually what I want. Here are 5 things I want for Mother’s Day. FREE Printable Mother’s Day cards included.

5 things I want for mother's day

Mother’s Day is upon us. I love celebrating my own mother, my mother-in-law, and all the lovely mamas in my life. Presents are wonderful and there are always some things I’d love to have, but it got me thinking about what I really wanted. So here are 5 things I want on Mother’s Day.

5 Things I Want for Mother’s Day

To Go to the Bathroom By Myself

Every bathroom break is like a scene out of the Walking Dead. Hands are banging on the walls. Little fingers poke through the bottom of the door. I almost don’t remember what it’s like to go to the bathroom by myself anymore.

My one year old is in a stage where he loves to pull magazines out of the basket, remove trashcan contents and shred an entire roll of toilet paper in 30 seconds flat. Watching me referee from the porcelain pedestal is quite the scene.

To Eat While My Food is Still Hot

It dawned on me the other day that hot food still exists. It’s been about 4 years since my meals were hot on a regular basis. Every mom knows that you are constantly jumping up from the table to meet the needs of everyone’s last minute meal requests. “More ketchup. Salt please. Can I get more ice? I’m out of water. Is there anymore corn?” By the time I sit down I’ve lost the will to eat.

And if moms aren’t getting up, we spend the rest of our meal convincing little people to eat their food, take sensible bites, and try their vegetables. I used to enjoy meals, but honestly – it’s exhausting. So on Mother’s Day, I’d like some piping hot food please!

To Have Someone Cook For Me

Yes, I want to be taken out for dinner or brunch on Mother’s Day. Please give me a break from the serfdom that is meal making. Somedays, I feel like a human vending machine. I spend a great deal of my “work day” dispensing drinks and snacks to toddlers – who are never on the same hunger / eating schedule. Then there is the constant cleaning, wiping and picking up of counters. Most days, I feel like I never leave the kitchen. So yes, on Mother’s Day I want someone else to take over for a day…or a meal…whatever.

To Do Nothing

Yes, I want to shirk nearly all responsibilities on Mother’s Day. I don’t care how ridiculous, selfish, or lazy that sounds. I want to do as little as possible. The laundry, the dishes, the vacuuming can all take a back seat for the day. Honestly, I don’t want a bunch of plans on Mother’s Day – just let me chill and do nothing. Unless it’s crafts. I’m totally cool with doing crafts all day.

To Be With My Family

Yes, I still want to be with my family. I don’t want everyone scattering away. Yes, I’d like some alone time, or maybe more to the point – some down time. But I love my family and I want my babies and my husband around me, loving me, and hugging on me. I want a break from the responsibility, not the people.

Free Mother’s Day Cards

As a special gift to all you mama’s out there, I’m providing some FREE Mother’s Day cards for the mothers in your life. I recommend printing this on white card stock. Trim on the horizontal dark grey line. Fold on the light grey vertical line. Use an envelope suitable for a 4×6 card.

5 things I want for Mother's Day

To all the wonderful mamas out there, have a wonderful Mother’s Day! In the comments below, I’d love to hear what you want for Mother’s Day