Creating a fire pit patio

As most of you have probably figured out, we are in the midst of a little backyard revamp. We have been working on revamping our flower beds, tilling our garden spot, and changing out banisters and rails on our porch.

Our garden is ready to go!!
Flower bed clean out

A few weeks ago, we got a very nice propane fire pit. We had this small, not very useful paver patio.

It was so narrow you could barely put a chair on it without tipping off the back. We didn’t really use the space well either. We decided a long time ago we wanted to expand the paver patio to the fence and extend it a little more in the front. Since our state has implemented stay home orders, we aren’t going anywhere on the weekends. This gives us plenty of time and opportunities to get our projects done. Plus, Lowe’s has been having some killer sales.

Did you know you can order and pay online and park in a pick-up only space and they’ll load it up for you? Just like Instacart. And no going inside the store and getting sick.

We measured and discovered we would need 2 more rows on the back and one row on the front. This came out to 24 pavers. We ordered and paid online and Lowe’s loaded them up for us. We got home, leveled off our patio area (it isn’t perfect but close) and installed the pavers.

Phase one complete

We are not yet finished. We are in the process of building some chairs for this space, which we will show you soon. We are also going to add some tables or garden stools and some colorful plants. I’d love to have a different sign and some string lights as well. I cannot wait to show you the finished product! Tune in often to check out our backyard progress.

Our patio “still to-do list:”

*build four wooden chairs

*add some cute tables or garden stools

*add some decorative elements, like string lights and cushions and a new sign

Check back soon!!!

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How to beat the boredom during the covid-19 self quarantines

As you know, I am predominantly a DIY blogger but one portion of my blog pertains to parenting. Like many of you, we are navigating our new normal as homeschool parents who work from home and self quarantine to safe guard our families against getting sick with covid-19.

Being quarantined doesn’t mean you must stay indoors.

While we have mine and the girls’ school work to occupy a lot of time, and we can go outside to occupy a bit more time, sometimes we still find ourselves a little bored and lonely. Thankfully, there are plenty of fun and useful ways to bond as a family , and to teach your kiddos a little something in the process.

1. Cooking

Get yourself some cute kitchen helpers.

Everyone needs to eat, and once you’re tired of all the takeout options, you might as well cook at home. I’m kidding, sort of. In all seriousness, cooking is hands on, a cross curricular activity and something your kids will need to know as adults. You don’t have to make a full meal, you could even make something as simple as a tray of cookies. My child hates math but she loves cooking. She doesn’t realize we are practicing math skills when we cook. She just thinks it’s grown up to help mom with dinner.

2. Take a nature walk

Nature’s playground

Recess at school serves the same purpose as recess when you’re schooling at home. Fresh air and activity give the brain a refresh. You can make a science lesson out of it and go on a nature walk. You can go on a nature scavenger hunt and find rocks, acorns or flowers. Or, you can go outside and simply enjoy the great outdoors.

3. Roast some marshmallows

This one requires lots and lots of supervision. Reward your kiddos for their hard work by allowing them to make a few s’mores. Even if you only make one s’more, they will love it!

4. Paint a picture or make a craft

Make a cute little footbird

We made a bird painting from a little paint and our kids’ feet and they turned out so cute. You can also just hand your kiddos some paper and colored pencils and let them take the reigns- creativity at its finest!

What sort of “sanity saving learning activities are you all using?

Springtime Spruce-Up

I don’t know about you all, but I’m willing to bet you find our current self quarantine situation challenging too. We are struggling to adjust to working from home, homeschooling, and not being able to leave the house. In some ways, I am embracing it. I am an introverted homebody so I actually don’t mind the extra time at home. I’m also loving being able to have more time with my girls.

I’m also finding time to dive into some of my DIY projects. We’ve been working on our backyard lately. We had some flower beds that had been badly neglected.

Welcome to the jungle, we got weeds and rocks…

Well, now that’s just embarrassing. Random pole getting swallowed by a tree, more weeds than flowers and a broken birdbath? I don’t think it could be much worse.

We started by removing the random pole. It’s rained so much lately that I just rocked the pole back and forth and then pulled it up out of the ground.

Then, we removed the broken birdbath and took that thing to the dump. We trimmed the trees and pulled all the weeds. That took awhile. Lastly, we put down some fresh pine straw.

Whew! That’s better!

It’s amazing what only a few changes can make.

This is so much better.

What quarantine projects are you doing?

Clean routines and parenting: keeping a weekly cleaning schedule

Trying to keep a tidy house is hard when you have small children. It’s even harder when you’re at home all the time with those small children, due to the coronavirus pandemic. We have always had a weekly cleaning schedule that worked pretty well for us, but now I’m making it a point to incorporate a little extra deep cleaning, in honor of the current pandemic.

Our weekly cleaning schedule is laminated, framed, and hanging in our laundry room.

This definitely doesn’t mean that we are perfect. Not even close. Even though this schedule is hanging on our wall in a frame, there are days when our stuff doesn’t get done and when we let messes linger for too long. And while the Friday chores are typically deep cleaning tasks, I’d gotten a little creative in how we deep clean these days.

Typically we spend two weekends a month deep cleaning. While we are at home self quarantining, we are choosing to vigilantly follow a deep cleaning schedule. We are following our daily task schedule, but we are mopping and cleaning bathrooms twice a week. We are also making it a point to remove shoes at the door and do a deep cleaning task every weekend instead of every other weekend. The kids and I are trying to work together to make the chore of the day happen.

We are also currently homeschooling and I’m teaching from home too. We are struggling to find the balance but we are OK. We are getting there and we are making it work.

And while we are on the subject of house cleaning to combat the germs, have you considered incorporating a little self care into your day? Staying home is not easy for some of us, and as a result, your mental state can suffer. Remember to do something that lifts you up each day- it could be something as simple as taking a walk or Facetime calling people you miss, to gardening, to reading a book, or taking a hot bath. Either way- don’t neglect YOU!

We will see you soon with our spring home tour! Until then, stay safe and stay healthy. Thanks for reading!

How to keep your routines and keep your sanity!!

I am sure this is true for all of you- but all of our usual activities are canceled. No school, no church, and no dance classes. No church and no fitness classes. We have been struggling to find ways to fill our time and make sure we stick to a reasonable routine.

Source

This schedule has been widely circulated on Facebook, and while it is a good model, we have been using the schedule below. I am a teacher and during the summer, we “light homeschool” our kids. We can’t truly call it homeschool because we don’t meet the hourly requirements for actual homeschool, but we do still sit down and do school for about three and a half to four hours a day. We use this schedule:

Please pardon the handwriting.

Following a more extensive schedule would be hard for us, and heaven knows a combination third grade, pre-k class throws up its own challenges. We chose a schedule that doesn’t look like much but works for us.

In addition to creating a schedule, there are some “distance education” resources for teaching your kids, worshipping and working out.

Education:

There are so many websites you can choose from to learn at home! If you want worksheets or written practice, check out K12 Learner or Super Teacher Worksheets.

But for more engaging, interactive learning, we like to use these sites:

No Red Ink– This website has kids fill in their own personal likes and interests, and then it creates sentences for them to correct, and it makes those sentences about the things they’re interested in. I use this at school in my classroom, too. Best of all, it’s free.

ReadWorks– This is a great website for test prep. You can assign passages by grade level, or you can assign them by topic. You can complete them online, or you can print them off. You can do a passage a day, or however you choose. You can also enable the “read-aloud” feature and the kids can listen and follow along while they read. It’s also free.

NatGeoKids– You can read and watch videos about animals, natural disasters, etc. You can take quizzes and play games.

PBS Kids– You can play games or watch videos. There are also clips from PBS kids shows that you can watch.

Storyline Online– Award-winning actors read children’s books aloud on this YouTube channel. The videos are entertaining and they’re animated, too.

Quizlet– This is great for studying words and definitions, math facts and spelling words. You can choose from flash cards, and two different games. There is both a free and a paid version.

Splash Math– This website is subscription based, but it isn’t expensive. Just select your kids’ grade, and they can practice math skills that are taught in their grade using games. It’s a lot of fun and my kid loves it. You can also set weekly goals, and the website will email you a report on what your kid completes each week.

ACT Academy– ACT Academy has games, lessons, videos, assessments, and more for all grade levels and all subject areas. There is a premium version where you have access to everything. I highly recommend getting the premium version, as we use this one a lot.

Worship

Of course, worship is best when you’re among your church family, but if your congregation includes elderly people, immunocompromised people, or young children, then you know this isn’t feasible right now. What you can do is start a new Bible study you can do with your church friends through Facetime or Facebook live. You an also find a plethora of churches offering online services. Here are some of the resources we are currently using:

YouTube– While I direct linked Lifeway Christian Resources, there are a number of great worship resources on YouTube. You can directly search for sermons by a pastor you love. I have enjoyed watching Charles Stanley and Josh McDowell while at home. You can also find Cedarrock Kids, Veggie Tales, and LifeTree Kids.

Children’s Sermons for Kids– These are short, scripture based and include a lot of activities that go right along with the sermon. They’re perfect for Sunday School lessons when we are back at church, too.

Exercise

Fitness Blender has free, full length workouts that are for all levels. There are a number of them available. There are workouts that use equipment, and workouts that don’t use equipment. Did I mention they are free?

You can also go outside and take a walk, if you get tired of being in the house.

Please comment below and share your favorite resources. I am always looking for new ideas.