To the Mom of Young Children: Take Off the Pressure of Perfection!

To the Mom of Young Children: Take Off the Pressure of Perfection!

Our kids show us who we really are!

In this podcast episode, and in this blog post, Kelsey shares about life with 5 kids under the age of 7. We talk about the “mess” inside ourselves and how our kids help us get “cleaned up!” We also discuss the beauty and freedom of creating our own “family culture”, and not being bound to looking like anyone else.

Books Discussed in Podcast:

(Parenting Scripts was recommended by Kelsey’s sister-in-law)

An Author/Blogger/Podcaster Kelsey has enjoyed:



Other Blog posts by Kelsey can be found Here.

Valor was just getting up from his nap when we took this picture, so we will get him in next time!

In this blog post, Kelsey talks about making memories by building a living history.

(This is separate from the podcast episode)

During some of my childhood years my family lived in an old farmhouse in the country. My siblings and I had large maple trees to climb, big old barns to explore, an old grape arbor to munch from, and acres of field to run through. My mother liked to grow a large garden each year, and we learned at a young age how to help her plant, weed, and harvest the produce grown in it. Mom loved to garden.

She would tell us that she got into gardening as a way to spend quality time with her busy father when she was a child. In turn, she invited us into the garden with her as a way of passing on what had become special to her. We would begin at the local greenhouse where we would pick out tomato plants, melon starts, packets of green bean and corn seeds. My dad would borrow the landlord’s old blue Ford tractor to till the soil, and I would climb up onto his lap to help him steer.

I can recall it like it was yesterday, the feel of dad’s old sweatshirt, the scruff of his beard grazing the top of my head and the smell of the diesel smoke puffing from the exhaust as we chugged along. 

The days grew hotter and the plants grew bigger until, in the dog days of August, the once hard, green tomatoes began to turn into soft, red fruit ready for harvest.

We knew it was time for the canning season; out came the glass Ball and Kerr jars, new lids from the Super Value and from the basement we carried up the old black, speckled canner. We would don our aprons and set to work in that old farmhouse kitchen preserving our summer’s harvest.

My mother taught us, first by us watching, and eventually, by us helping, the art of canning our own food. That age old tradition began to weave its way into my heart and my identity. That pleasant feeling of setting ourselves to such a purposeful task was satisfying. We worked, not only for the need of the food for the winter, but also for the visual reward of rows of jars standing at attention filled with bright red tomatoes.

And the much anticipated ‘POP’ of the lids as one after the other obediently sealed tight.

I hoped then that someday I would have my own home and garden and my own family to pass this tradition on to. 

Many summers later, I find myself standing in my own kitchen, with my own brood of children as we don our aprons and prepare to can a bountiful crop of ripe tomatoes.

We planted the seeds together earlier in the spring.  We cared for the tender little plants as they unfurled their first sets of leaves and began to soak up the light and spread their roots deep into the soil. Together we spent time out in the sun, under the bright blue sky, pulling pesky weeds and talking about the gardens in our hearts and what weeds we ought to pull from there so God’s glory can grow abundant. At long last, as the crickets begin to sing their end-of-summer song, the mornings are a little cooler and the sunflowers are in full bloom, we begin the tomato harvest.

Now it is time to pass down the traditions and make the memories with my own children that I so cherish from my childhood. As we get out those glass Ball and Kerr jars from the attic, wash our Tattler lids and seals and bring up the old black, speckled canner from the basement, we talk about the life of these tomatoes and the process we are about to embark on.

Our four year old tells us how it all began with a small, delicate seed many months ago, while he sorts out wide mouth lids from small mouth lids. Our daughter, six years old, brings the stool over to the counter and fills a big bowl with ice and water, preparing things for the peeling station…all the while talking about things a seed needs to grow into a strong plant and bring forth good fruit.

Our eldest, seven years old, refreshes our memories on the steps ahead…scoring, blanching, peeling, boiling jars, filling to the top and sealing tight.

Our two year old gets into mischief and pulls on my legs to remind me that this is indeed not as interesting to her as it is to us. The baby, well he sleeps until the most time sensitive moment in the process and then he lets out his wail to let me know he is hungry, and not hungry for tomatoes.

My children are full of mischief and imagination. Including them in these tasks of adulthood is not always easy or peaceful. There are certainly times I get frazzled as they bicker over who gets to do which task or my four year old begins to pulverize the blanched tomatoes in his hands getting tomato juice all over the kitchen. Some years we don’t get around to starting our own plants and some years my garden doesn’t produce as bountifully as I would like. But God always provides whether it’s through a family member starting extra plants or a generous neighbor who has more harvest than they need.


What I have decided is most important here is not that the process go perfectly from beginning to end, from seed to table, but rather that I keep a living history in our lives; that my children learn the age old task of preserving their own food and appreciate the art of it. But above all, the importance of creating a wholesome, beautiful childhood for my children, just as I had, so that too may be passed on to the next generation as it was for me.

Happy canning!

Some Faves Today:

Currently Reading: The Lost Castle Series by Kimberly Camdron

In my morning mug: Special English Breakfast from Harney & Sons Co (with a splash of milk), iced medium roast coffee with milk in the afternoon

Listening to today: Adventures in Odyssey: Pranks for Memories

Reading with the children: 90 Devotions for Kids from the book of Matthew – Adventures in Odyssey, The Boxcar Children Homerun Mystery by Gertrude Chandler, The Bombay Boomarang Mystery by Franklin W. Dixon, Pages of History: Secrets of the Ancients by Bruce Etter


Kitchen Tip:

If you have build-up on your kitchen and bathroom fixtures you can mix up baking soda and lemon juice into a paste, coat your fixtures in the paste and let it set for 20 minutes. Go after it with a scrubby pad and you’ll find the build up comes right off! 

Caution: if you had a dark finish on your fixtures it may also remove some of the finish. 

FREE Knitting Classes Starting Soon for Adults and Kids!

FREE Knitting Classes Starting Soon for Adults and Kids!

Hi Everyone!

I am going to be teaching fall knitting classes for FREE at the Grabill Library! October 15 is a Learn to Knit class, October 22 is Stitch Patterns, November 5th & 12th will be a two night class on knitting fall pumpkins for your holiday table decor. All classes are Tuesday nights from 7-8:30pm, all are for beginning level knitters and all are free!

Sign up links are below.

You can email me at for questions.

P.S. if you already know how to knit and would enjoy coming to hang out with other knitters while you work on your project, feel free to sign up!

Oct. 15

Oct. 22

Nov. 5

Nov. 12

Keeping It Simple!

Keeping It Simple!

As of this year, I have the pleasure of homeschooling two of my children, rather than one. My eldest is in first grade now and my second born is in kindergarten. My parents homeschooled me for most of my primary and secondary school years, so you might think I would be a natural at this. But I was the baby of the family, separated from my siblings by five and ten years, so I do not necessarily have a lot of natural insight into schooling multiples.

Now days, for my generation, the moto seems to be ‘more is better’ in all areas of life;more coffee, more selfies, more Instagram posts, more self-care, more free pintables. It is not inherently a bad thing to have more of something, someone, some idea…but I was finding that the influence of my peers was saying that I needed to be ‘pinning’ and printing the innumerable free pintables available to give my children the absolute best homeschool experience. I fell sway to this influence when my eldest was beginning his pre-school years. I did not (and still donot) have internet at my home, so I would walk over to my in-law’s home, lay my children downfor a nap, log onto one of their computers and start ‘pinning’ and printing until my eyes buggedout of my head. I probably still owe them a ream of paper and new ink for their printer. I bought a file folder organizer and manila folders; I picked a weeklong theme for every letter of the alphabet and printed everything I could find on that theme. I even came up with a craft foreach theme and letter. I was armed and ready for pre-school.

When pre-school started, I had an infant and a baby on the way, in addition to my preschooler. We dove into the fun of the ABC’s with gusto, and we did have a good time. But, along the way I would find that I couldn’t quite do ‘all the things’ I intended. I would end up feeling a little guilty that I did not accomplish all the school plans for the day. Pretty soon we were weeks behind on our alphabet schedule and my craft supplies were dwindling. I couldn’t keep up with my own pre-school schedule! If I was failing at pre-school, how was I ever going to hack it with the coming grades and knowing I would be schooling multiple children at once? Needless to say, we dragged our way through the school year, had another baby and I lost myself in the care of our new infant, putting thoughts of the next school year on the back burner for a while.

Fast forward to this year now. To set the scene, in May we broke ground on a large addition to our home. We hired some aspects of the construction out and tackled large
portions of it ourselves,mostly electrical and finishing work. In July we basically said ‘goodbye’ to my husband for the next two months, and counting, as he buried himself in working on the house after work every day to have if finished by Thanksgiving of this year. The children and I moved out for two weeks during some of the messiest times, and the rest of the time we lived at home in the total chaos of construction. We also learned we were pregnant with our fifth baby during this time.

Seeing how life was looking for the foreseeable future, I decided it was high time for some advice from my older-wiser homeschool mom friends who have a lot more experience than I do. Over the summer I sought out a few ladies by simply asking them, “What are your top tips for homeschooling multiples?” The overwhelming response was, “Keep it simple!” The more I heard this mantra the more relief I felt. My peers were still Pinteresting frequently forschool; some are more research oriented and they spent months researching new curriculumthat was trending, others chose one company and used only their books for every subject. None of this appealed to me, but it seemed like the thing I should be doing…until I heard “Keep it simple.”

I sat down with my mother-in-law, a homeschool veteran if there ever was one, and also a researcher by nature, and talked to her about the pressure I felt to make it ‘great’ and make it ‘unique’. She encouraged me that keeping it simple is a beautiful and brilliant way to homeschool in this season of life. Go back to the root of homeschooling. It is meant to give us the freedom to be down to earth and teach our children in the way they each learn best. It doesn’t have to be a lot of table work or a lot of busy work. There doesn’t have to be an elaborate craft every single week for my child to grow up and be a straight-A student. Those
things are not bad by any means! But if they add stress to the school environment because they do not really fit into our family’s season this year, then it is okay to let them go. They’ll have their turn…maybe once a month, maybe when the mood strikes, or maybe through a co-op. So, I did a little of my own research on what knowledge was most important to gain in first grade and decided on two main subjects, with the other subjects being more laid back and flexible. I also decided for my kindergartener that I wasn’t going to use a lot of curriculum but rather do one series that worked great for my eldest and then do flash cards, activity books, and books on cd for her- no need to get intense at the age of five. I did not venture on Pinterest for anything school related this year. I ordered what we needed for the main goals; we were gifted some flash cards and found some manipulatives at garage sales, as well as lots offabulous children’s literature.

I created a ‘Morning Basket’ that has something pertaining to history or social studies in it as well as our current fiction book. It also contains our evening books which are the Bible, Answer’s for Kids, and a fiction book we read with their father. Whenever we find the time before lunch to dive into our two morning books, the youngest two children (ages 3 and 1) play quietly around close that enough they can hear. The older two sit close and listen. During afternoon nap time when the youngest two are napping, I set up homemade dividers in the middle of the table for the older two. They each get a tea light in their spot and choose a mug of tea for the school hour. At this point we sit and focus on their studies for about an hour or so and we seem to get through all that we need to. I have found that it works best for them not to take breaks between topics because they struggle going in and out of play time/school time. So, we make that cozy environment and settle into it. We have found a good rhythm where they have learned to focus on their own work when I’m working with the other and I’ve learned its okay to include them in on each other’s schoolwork. I’ll even task my oldest to working on the alphabet or numbers with my kindergartener, he loves doing that! I’ve heard that teaching is the best way to remember what you’ve, learned so I figured it can’t hurt to have him teach herfrom time to time.

All in all, I kept it simple this year, and so far it’s going great. School time is the smoothest time of our day, and one I really look forward to and the children seem to be
adjusting to school days as well. They like the work I have for them. None of us seem to be overwhelmed by what is set out before us, and when we wrap it up for the day they aren’t bouncing out of their skin because they sat to long. It works for us! We still enjoy a craft here and there, a hike, a field trip, playing outside of course, and as the seasons call for it I have been teaching my eldest how to do some home canning and cooking in the kitchen. There’s so much freedom in homeschooling. Thankfully, that includes the freedom to keep it simple!

I hope all of you homeschooling moms out there find the right rhythm for you and your family and are not afraid to embrace a rhythm that might be a little different from what is trending right now. Each family thrives differently, you have the joy and the freedom to figure out what makes you and yours do just that, thrive.

Wishing you peace with plenty!

Some Faves for Today:

Currently Reading:  Murder in Merino by Sally Goldenbaum

In my morning mug: English Breakfast from Harney & Sons Co (with a splash of milk)

Listening to today: Amos Lee – Last Days at the Lodge

Reading with the children: What was Pompeii?, Freddie the Detective, the book of Matthew, The Hardy Boys: The Masked Monkey

Household Tip:

 Save the peels from any citrus you consume and simmer them in a little saucepan on your stove with water, whole cloves and cinnamon sticks…your home will smell heavenly!!