Am I really “still me”?

Lost is a place, right?

Are you there, too?

Hi, everyone! Welcome to “Lost”! It’s the new and improved place we used to call “Here”.

We don’t call it ‘Here” anymore because we’ve moved away from “Here”. “Here” is a place from afar. A place removed from what is relevant and current.

Destination: Unknown

I’m at home in “Lost”. And that’s sad.

Sad, but true.

“Lost” is both familiar and painful.

“Lost” is not that far away from “The Past” and just around the corner from “Hindsight”. It is 20/20, no?

And “Lost” is just before you get to “Far, Far Away”.

“Lost” is both confusing and exciting at the same time.

It is unknown and to some, might seem tragic.

To me, however, it’s not tragic.

It’s home.

I’m ready.

Ready to get to know my way around “Lost”. It seems that I may be here a while and I might as well get my bearings in this place.

Most of the people that live here are pretty nice. My neighbors keep to themselves, but smile and wave, if waved to.

And I do wave.

Every damn day.

The sights in this town are pretty nice, too. Old homes with character surrounded by new growth and change.

“Lost” has pretty great schools, too. With teachers that seem to actually care. Teachers that take the time to know their students by name and learning style.

The students seem to reciprocate with a sense of simple splendor. With a joy of learning! They converse in small groups out on the patio, while teachers smile their knowing smiles.

“Lost” even has a big chain Super Store!

Hooray, for “Lost”!

One day, we’ll catch up to the big city, but as of now, we’re pretty proud of our Super Store, thank you very much.

“Lost” is an easy commute to the finest jobs around. And, as luck may have it, my job, too. I love my drive to work from”Lost”. It’s a quiet and serene time that I can hear myself think. No one needs to be tended to and everyone can hear me.

I’ve found a nice niche in my little part of “Lost”. Albeit small, it’s mine.

I will miss “The Past”, but I’m not there anymore.

Now is the time to revel in the here and now and appreciate this thing we call life.

Do you appreciate life? Or do you, like I, take just about every minute for granted?

Geez, guys!

Let’s start the new year with a pact, OK?

Let’s be happy and content.

Whether we live in “Lost”, “Far, Far Away”, “Here”, “Now” or “In the Moment”.

Let us appreciate and savor every hour we get.

Every minute.

Every hour.

Every second.

Why?

Because before long we’ll be living in “Gone, but Not Forgotten” and I for one, want to put the final move off for as long as possible.

So, I will live in “Lost”.

I will love in “Lost”.

 I will be in “Lost”.

And for once, I’ll finally just be “me”…

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Erin Condren: A Game Changer!

Do you ever feel completely disorganized?
That no matter how hard you try to plan ahead to keep up with your busy day-to-day life,  something always seems to be forgotten or missed? And how every new year, you go out and buy a new planner with the hopes that this year will be better because you have a different planner this time?
Yet, you find yourself not using it because it just doesn’t have everything you need it to have after all?
 And flipping through mundane black and white pages just bores you to tears, which makes you less inclined to keep it updated?
A little confession…….that was me. I NEVER used to be this neat and organized. My life was a disorganized mess!
Until the day I discovered a planner that would literally change my life from chaotic disorder to complete organization!
The little miracle that saved me from my stressful and disorganized life and transformed me into a more peaceful and completely organized “life planning” guru is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.
I didn’t think it was possible that one little planner could shift my cluttered, disarrayed life into an orderly, systematic and organized one. I didn’t believe it…because I had tried so many times before to no avail.
This is not your average planner.  Sure, it has a calendar like every other planner, but it’s so much more than that.
I actually look forward to using my planner and I can tell you that has never happened before.
Being organized for the first time in my life has created a calm I never knew existed because I don’t stress anymore about missing or forgetting anything.
The EC LifePlanner layout has everything I need to plan accordingly, but beyond that, it’s also visually pleasing and actually brings a smile to my face when I use it.
Who knew that scheduling, planning and coordinating daily life could actually be fun?
Not me!
Have you ever found something that made you so happy that you just couldn’t keep it to yourself?

Well, my friends, it may seem small to some of you, but I can find a little ray of sunshine every day in my Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Yes.

A planner.

Doesn’t that seem silly?

Maybe…to some…

I believe we should cherish the little things in life. And my Erin Condren LifePlanner may seem like a “little thing” to some, but to me it is so much more!

When I sent an email to the Erin Condren social media squad, I never thought I’d hear back. I sent it with the hope that they would read my blog and hear my story. That that story might pique their interest and I’d be able to use it to help another person dealing with some of the same things I am.  Or maybe it could simply help introduce someone not familiar with Erin Condren to a new and innovative planner that they could use in their everyday lives.

So, I reached out. I sent the email, and lo and behold, I got a response from a woman named Samantha!!

Holy Hades!

I couldn’t wrap my brains around the fact that my little blog could catch the attention of someone at such a large company.

But, it did.

“Samantha”  told me to make my choices for a new planner and she would send me a “Happy Package” full of EC goodies.

Rose Gold and MidCentury circles and Vertical vs. Horizontal, Oh My!

I was giddy with excitement and this is what I was talking about before. This planner can bring such a smile to my face!

So, I waited.

And I waited.

Just two days felt like an eternity, but it showed up and that orange box made me Squeee!!

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I called Doodle One in and we went to “Unboxing” this new found glory in a perfectly packaged box.

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There was a note.

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They always include little freebies on the top of their packages, but this was personal. A handwritten note. It was from Sam. We were on nickname terms and I laughed out loud at the concept.

So, I opened it and she had sent two boxes of their amazing colored pencils for my kids.

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What?

Yes, y’all. She sent two boxes of the most perfectly designed colored pencils for my Doodle’s!

Plus, some stickers!

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I was, again, just in awe of her ability to touch my heart.

Sam sent me what they call the “Wellness Package”.

It included their AMAZING wet erase markers (I had no idea there was even such a thing, but they write like a dream and only wipe off easily with a wet paper towel)

A “Wellness Journal” to keep up with general body wellness. It’s not just specified to weight loss. It chronicles hydration and an overall body conscious way of living.

Their “Designer Sticker Book” that is so pretty I don’t think I can even use the stickers! They are gold, platinum and rose gold foiled with such perfection that they look like works of art.

A set of their “Do It All Dots” that go in your planner to stylize even the most mundane of daily duties.

Two, Count Um, TWO dashboards!

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One that you can use weekly to organize meal planning to make that task a breeze and one that included the cutest sticky notes you can imagine. All highlighted with their signature water color background. They are so useful, I’ll probably run out and have to buy my own. (Which I’ll do in a heartbeat!!)

And finally, a cover to use until  the personalized one that I picked out could be made. Because the platinum foiling process takes so long to prepare, Sam just couldn’t wait to send it to me!!

And y’all, this cover was beautiful. Perfectly foiled and laminated in a very sturdy, yet still visually pleasing format.

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Then it happened.

I came to the bottom of my package and angels sung and birds chirped and whales gave a mating call…

My Planner.

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I felt like holding it up like Simba and singing “The Circle of Liiiffee”…

From cover to cover I stared. My daughter thinking I was crazy the whole time.

I couldn’t open it up.

I wanted to savor the moment and smell the fresh paper smell and feel the infinite possibilities that perfect planning can do to your life.

But, I finally did.

The front cover has a whiteboard that works with any dry erase markers or the phenomenal wet erase markers.

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The first page is vellum. I didn’t know what vellum was, but now I know I want it in my life. It is gorgeous. Marked with a colorful pattern of their “MidCentury Circles”.

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And then I dove in. Head first with eyes wide open. It has a two-page layout of 2016 and 2017 and then it has a two-page layout of boxes, color coordinated for each month. I think I’m going to use this as a “Goals” page to set monthly goals for myself.

Then the planner itself starts and the watercolor theme immediately stands out. It is strong, yet feminine. A perfect choice for a new style.

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The months are still color coded this year, but with an elegant watercolors. Less polka dots and boxes. She truly captured the essence of every different personality. For, with the soft colors, one could add pizzazz with stickers or just let the simple beauty of the planner speak for itself. I, myself, am a little in the middle. I love stickers, but I am understated in my design choices. But, EC knew that and designed her LifePlanner for each personality accordingly.

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The months are followed by note pages: Lined, Graph and Blank. Again, with the customizing, EC. Oh, how you know thee!!

Then follows the folder pocket that serves the purpose of just that. A two-sided folder to be a catch all for all of your receipts, bills and so forth. It’s sturdy, yet not industrialized looking.

And yay! A zippered pouch at the end that you can move to wherever you’d like in your planner. Filled with goodies like the coil clip to snap it into place, a sticker book sample and compliment cards that I’ve already used for Chris’ sweet nurse that helped us so wonderfully.

So, do you want one?

I bet you do and I have a code to help you get $10 off.

So, take the plunge.

The design is always top notch and the personal touches they add just add a little something that can’t be explained.

This year is the year that I caught the planning bug. I got caught off guard. I joined a community of planners that is both exclusive and all inclusive. All members are full of love and compassion.

We all know that we are all fighting our own battles. But, we rally and hold hands and just love one another in a way that feels so fulfilling.

I have a lot going on in my life right now. From kids to homeschool to a husband fighting cancer. This planner gives me the light I need to get me through my most gloomy of days. I can pace the halls of the darkest hospitals and my light won’t be extinguished.

Yes, a planner can do that. Yes, a planner does that.

And that planner is the Erin Condren LifePlanner.

Get your own personal ray of sunshine.

Allow yourself to be enlightened and changed for the better.

See how something that some may call a “little thing” can make such an enormous and positive impact on your life.

With Love,

Al

P.S Here’s your $10 off code!!

https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/allisonpadgett0625

P.P.S Take a look around and find what tickles your fancy!!

http://www.erincondren.com

XOXO…

**Some editing and some writing credit goes to Suzanne B. Horton who makes my sun shine and my moon glow**

She is beautiful

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She is the envy of many a woman.

She is, to most, perfect.

She is the responsible, put together and dependable one.

She never forgets a birthday or anniversary.

She is, by all accounts, just what every woman dreams to be.

She is beyond beautiful. Her light blueish green eyes sparkle when she laughs and her smile is infectious. Her hair shines in the sun and even in a “mom bun” looks amazing.

She remembers others children as she walks through the dollar aisle at Target and picks up the perfect item “just because”.

She buys Christmas presents in June because they will be just what someone wants and tucks them away for that special moment.

She is smart. Smart like most people want to be. That odd combination of street smarts and book smarts that makes her know how to change a tire and also know who fought in the war of 1812.

She’s comforting. An oasis in a life of chaos that can be called upon at any minute. She always knows what to say. She can make you feel like a million bucks with just a corny joke and the sound of her laughter.

She is the carpool mom that knows all of the other mom’s names and chats with them without effort.

She is the classroom volunteer mom that knows every kids name and develops a way to reach every single one in just an afternoon.

She’s the lunch duty mom that cleans up after your child without a second thought.

She’s the Cub Scout mom who checks homework so diligently during the meeting that others think she homeschools.

She’s the baseball mom that cuts up all the oranges and serves the flavored water and never forgets if that one kid has an allergy.

She’s the MOM.

She’s the mom that reads to her kids every single night. Building their love of literature and enriching their minds.

She’s the mom that plays, acts, sings, dances and generally acts like a silly woman just to see the smile on her kids faces.

She’s the mom that still checks on her kids during the night and sheds a tear just watching them slumber.

She is also the mom that thinks she doesn’t do enough.

That her best is never good enough.

That she should go harder and faster and longer.

Her self concept isn’t what we see from the outside.

She is lost in self doubt.

She is lost.

This is when we step in, Mama’s!

We all know this mom.

We all envy this mom.

We may, in fact, be this mom.

It’s not a competition.

All of our kids are perfect and we are all beautiful.

It’s time we tell each other that.

Tell another woman on the street that you like her shoes. Tell her that her dress is just gorgeous.

You know why?

Because she might have had the worst morning and one comment can make her day.

She’ll believe you, but inevitably, wouldn’t dare believe herself.

The mirror lies to us, Mama’s.

We are all of these things.

Tell another mom she’s appreciated today because, guess what?

It might be the first time she’s heard it in a while and you just might change her view of herself.

You are gorgeous.

You are special.

You are irreplaceable.

You are doing the best you can.

And, honey, that is and always will be, more than enough.

The Tieks Company Makes Me Smile..

I want to use my voice to raise awareness for a company that few know of, but a lot of people need to hear about. Tieks. Tieks. Tieks!

I have read a few reviews of these awesome flats for women, but I have yet to place one on my foot. EVERY review has said these shoes are amazing. That they last all day and beyond. That they feel like clouds on your feet and they make occupations in which standing on your feet is mandatory a simple endeavor.

I reached out to the Tieks company because I had some questions as a homeschool Mama. Would these flats work on a daily basis for someone who not only teaches, but keeps her own kids in check? That was what I wanted to know. I got an email in response! An email explaining how the shoes would work for a homeschool Mama, a paramedic off duty and someone with a thousand things on their plate. So many things, that shoes are the last thing that should be on their mind.

I am in no way affiliated with Tieks, nor have I purchased (yet) a pair of their flats (or have I been asked to review them). What I’m trying to tell all of you homeschool Mama’s and all of you out there simply searching for a company that cares, this is it! They care. They think what you have to say is important and actually value you as a customer, even before you’ve become one!

So, go to http://www.tieks.com, and experience a new kind of company. A company with employees that take time to listen to the public. A company that might actually be a throwback to past times when one could have an “experience” shopping, not just go through the motions and let the shopping experience you.

She is the Homeschool Fairy

Can being in a slump effect our kids?

Sure.

Will we make mistakes?

Sure.

When we become Mama’s are we automatically infallible?

No.

So begins my post this Saturday morning.

I am in a slump, or funk, as you may say. My Mama duties have seemed so difficult the past week. Almost as if I’m moving in a pool of water. Slow and labored. Homeschool is hard, y’all. Homeschool is fun, but it’s easy to feel like you’re slipping and make a mistake. In more ways than one, it’s brought me closer to my children. In more ways than one, it’s made me more tired mentally than I ever thought I could be. I feel alone in my work. Unappreciated. I work hard to find stimulating resources that will help the Doodle’s along in their quest for knowledge. But, alas, I feel I am alone in this quest. I get so excited about finding new stuff and I swear when I get our books, I may throw a party. But, I’ll be the only one in attendance. I want to scream with excitement over fulfilling this dream. But, I might as well be screaming into a pillow. No one, and I mean no one, cares.

It’s as if all of these things just magically come from the homeschool fairies at night. Like a cobbler’s elves, they are tireless in their work.  The homeschool fairies find resources, print worksheets and when the printer is out of ink, they even handmake worksheets! They paperclip and staple. They sort and organize. They love a good binder! The fairies read books to be read. They highlight the most important parts and create handwritten “walks” through the literature to help with Doodle 1’s reading expression. They underline and bold print. They plan unit studies and lap books. The fairies plan projects and library lists. They even put all of the necessary library books for all of the subjects of the week on hold before we can even get to the library! They tape and cut. They even put note cards on the wall to help with sight word practice for Doodle 2! I love the fairies! I appreciate the fairies. I am the fairies…

Silence. No round of applause. Not even a thank you.

And so goes my journey this week. I will keep moving forward in my pool of water. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

Hi, My name is Allison and I’m a Secular Homeschooler. Is there anybody out there?

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Hello, everyone. My name is Allison. I am a secular homeschooler and couldn’t feel more alone. In my search for curricula, to my search for homeschool groups, I feel as if us secular Mama’s are few and far between. I’ve read books. I’ve scoured the internet, but I still feel alone. My only foundation seems to be my family and my lovely, homeschool warrior, Joan at The Back Pack, who understands my struggle. She listens and laughs and actually feels like a friend. I found her website in a search on the internet and I feel like she’s the island in this ocean of uncertainty that I was searching for. So, parched and hungry for knowledge, I climbed onto her island and listened to her journey in secular homeschooling. Who knew it was so different? Who knew we were so few? It’s not that I don’t think there’s a place for Christ in our home. It’s just that I don’t feel there’s a place for religion in our homeschool.

That being said, I am waiting anxiously for my books to arrive. Joan has been more than patient on me and the IRS. (My tax return being paramount in this undertaking)

Can one find a homeschool group that isn’t judgemental? I judge not, lest I still feel judged. Can one find a few homeschool friends that don’t think that the fact that we don’t have a memory verse everyday is a complete blasphemy? We do have character verse or quotes every week. This week was a Japanese Proverb that stated, “Fall down seven times, Stand up eight.” I thought this was a great proverb for my children to learn. Especially, Doodle 2 with his experience with bullies.

So, my point of this blog post today isn’t to plug The Back Pack. (I still am no way affiliated with them, I just happen to love the way they conduct business and the way they’ve fought for homeschooler’s, whether secular or otherwise) My point is to ask the question of why. Why can’t, we as homeschool Mama’s and Dad’s, unite as one team? Why can we not go on the same field trips or visit the same parks together? I am not anti-religion, in any way shape or form. But, I’m feeling as if the local homeschool groups feel as if I am. If I don’t incorporate Christ in my everyday lessons, I am an outcast. If I do, I am one of them. Accepted in the natural flow of what is homeschool.

The biggest part of my choice to homeschool was the safety and well being of my Doodles. Isn’t that why we all decided to take this hard, treacherous, unknown path? Isn’t that why we all decided that public school wasn’t the right place?

I was brought up to love my neighbor. To do unto others as they have done to me. Why in this journey, am I finding resistance in the very place that I thought I’d feel comfort. I am not an outsider. I am not an Anti-Christian. In fact, this journey has brought me closer to God, in many ways and now I wonder why. I’m not wrong, but, as I stated before, who am I to judge? I’m not. But is anyone else, either?

Charlotte Mason, Delight Directed, Unschooling, Oh MY!

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So, here we are. What seems like Week 100 of Homeschool, but it’s actually Week 6. I’m becoming frazzled and I feel like no matter how much I try or how many damn printer cartridges I go through, it’s not enough to be engaging. To the kids or me. To be honest, I’m bored. I haven’t found my niche, yet. And that’s why I’m writing this today.

Charlotte Mason, Delight Directed, Unschooling, Deschooling, Delightfully Mason, Undirected…..Ahhhhh! It’s all running together. I knew from the beginning that my kids or I didn’t fit into a certain type of curriculum or method, but the more I get into it, the more I wonder where the hell we fit. I’m lucky in the sense that they both learn in essentially the same ways, but buying “manipulatives” just isn’t in the budget. So, I’m relying on good ole Mama to act a fool some days just to get their attention. I sing, I dance, I run around the living room and after about 30 minutes, I’m tired and they lose focus.

So, back to the drawing board for this Mama.

I’ll start with Charlotte Mason. She is apparently the goddess of all things homeschool. The pioneer! I, on the other hand, think that although some of her methods sound promising, taking my kids outside for 3 hours a day so they can learn in nature, just sounds asinine. It’s 29 degrees outside! She must’ve lived in the most temperate climate in the world. I realize she lived in a time where children played outside more. Hell, I did, too. But, Ms. Mason, I’m not teaching nature studies while my children and I freeze. Our next step will be studying anatomy when our fingers start to fall off from frost bite. I do like her “living book’ philosophy. It seems like a grand idea and we do have a great library in our tiny little town, But, teaching math from literature? Um, no. Teaching literature, grammar and composition from literature. Um, ok. Sounds good to me. Actually sounds pretty cool. Now, how to plan the lessons. Do I read every book first and try to pull lessons from them or do I read with the children and let them find the lesson? I can tell you one thing, my Doodles won’t follow that very well. The concept sounds great, but especially Doodle 1, won’t give 2 craps about where a comma goes in a “living book’. However, a “living worksheet” will grab her attention just fine. Ms. Mason’s love for children is something I can get on board with. She believed children were people and treated them as such. This I love. This is what I can take from this method. What the Doodles say actually matters and their input is important. I also, think that her dictation and narration method could help Doodle 1’s written expression difficulty. I’m digging that.

With that, we turn to Delight Directed. A method that seems to use your children’s natural interests to facilitate the learning experience. This also sounds pretty great in philosophy. Letting the Doodles follow what Delights them would be so great. But, there are no lesson books on Minecraft, Terreria and now in Doodle 1’s case, boys. I can see how they would be more interested in things that delight them, but even with the small bit of structure and direction I would give them, we’d spend all day on a tangent of thoughts and we’d never learn about any one thing. It would be a jumble of information that their little minds wouldn’t process in one day. Much less, a year.

So, on to unschooling. To me this sounds great! I could let them tell me what lessons they’d like to do and I’d write them with them and we’d then go frolic in a wheat field in our homemade hemp clothes. No. I in no way mean to deny that this is a very functional method for other people and I don’t mean to put it down. It just wouldn’t work for us. We’d spend 3 weeks on a study of Lego’s followed by a 6 week study of the in’s and out of an IPad. I wish this would work for us. I wish I knew someone that this worked for. I read something about one family that was studying astronomy when their child was eight and then when the child “wanted to”, they started learning to read at ten. What?! Maybe that sounds extreme, but I swear I read it right. Unschooling seems like Noschooling to me. But, I admit, it sounds like a hell of a lot less work for me!

With all that said, where in the hell do we fit in? A combo of these methods is the obvious answer, but I haven’t found the happy medium, yet. I do get a lot of books from the library to support our lessons. So, there’s a bit of Charlotte Mason. I do try to make lessons that the Doodles will be interested in. So, there’s a bit of Delight Directed. And I do get off on tangents and tell them about the fun that is a nerve synapse. Like the impulse is jumping from lily pad to lily pad. So, there’s a bit of unschooling.

My books are coming in next week from the most amazing secular used book distributor, The Back Pack. Here in ole North Carolina (I’m in no way affiliated with them, but they have been so helpful that I couldn’t help, but add them into this piece) I will have books, but no curriculum, so that is where my confusion comes in. If you have any ideas, feel free to comment. I feel like I’m in one of those bad dreams where you want to run, but your feet are stuck to the ground. And you’re being chased by the State, I mean monster, and you’re screaming and nothing’s coming out! Oh, I’m screaming to the Homeschool Gods, alright. But I’m pretty sure not a one can hear me.