May 5, 2014

Behind The Scenes

My dear, sweet Bloggy friend Tara, who blogs about her beautiful family with her own amazing photographs here, left a comment on a recent post asking me to share "how I do it all." And I am glad she did. Before I respond, however, I need to offer a disclaimer of sorts...These things work for me. My family, circumstances, situations, blessings, and challenges are just own. Yours will be different. What works for me at this point in time may not work for you. When I first began reading blogs, I felt compelled to print out cleaning schedules and meal plans and set out to follow them step by step. Epic fail. I find it much more helpful now to pick and choose ideas and plans from these awesome women and adjust them to fit our family, while adding in my own ideas as well. So, with that in mind...I offer a glimpse at the behind the scenes workings of my home and school by answering some of the questions Tara and others have asked me. : )

As far as Flynn's crafts and schooling... First off, my older children are cyberschooled, which is different from traditional homeschooling. They are enrolled in an actual school with certified teachers. They receive and submit assignments using provided laptops. For this reason, I  am essentially a facilitator for them when they need it. Also, I have been amazed at the way the three of them work together to help each other. Flynn is the only child I homeschool, and as a certified early childhood teacher, I am able to create a curriculum for her. (Although, being a certified teacher is in no way necessary to homeschool! Just knowing your child, and wanting to teach them yourself is about all you need. )

Before school began, I wrote out a few months worth of plans for Flynn, keeping in mind the actual time spent on structured activities at home is quite a bit less than if she were to attend an outside preschool. As the year progressed, I found it easy to plan one month in advance. I planned for table time activities Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, crafts on Wednesday, and religion on Friday. It works really well. Once I had that planned out, I sat down with the materials I had and penciled in lessons for each day. The crafts I do with her are ones I did years ago with my students and also ones I find on Pinterest. Sometimes, I create crafts of my own. But I must tell you, an artist I am not! Fortunately, Madison is very crafty, and Peyton always lends a hand in the implementation of my ideas. : ) I ordered all of my supplies from Amazon at one time and stocked my cabinet. I ordered construction paper, paint, brushes, white poster board, glue, glue sticks, glitter, cotton balls, tissue paper, and popsicle sticks. With those materials, Flynn is able to create any craft I plan for her. We do crafts on Wednesday, so Tuesday afternoon I prep. I double check all materials, cut or draw anything necessary, and set it all out. That way, Wednesday morning, we were set to go. : )

My planner for Flynn's first year of preschool. Love. : )
And a peek at the inside...
and the well stocked supply cupboard nearby. : )

As for the fun snacks...We all start schooling at the same time every morning. Obviously, Flynn is done well before the other three. In an effort to keep her occupied, I started very early in the year asking her help to prep a morning snack. I found it easier to finish her work, and go straight to the kitchen to prepare something healthy, and sometimes not, for the older kids. That way, they would have a set snack time and wouldn't be grazing all morning, disrupting school work. Thus began Flynn's "surprise" snacks! At least once a week we make brownies or muffins. We also do fresh fruit plates, pepperoni, crackers and cheese, graham crackers with apple slices and peanut butter, and sometimes homemade cookies. All these things I keep in the fridge and pantry and am sure to restock them as needed.

Ok...meal favorite. Really. : ) I am a meal planner. It is just how my brain works. I also believe it keeps us eating healthier by not eating out as much. Every Thursday, I sit down with my recipe binder, calendar, and Madison's work schedule. Peyton always helps me with this. : ) I make a copy of the blank menu that I keep in my monthly folder. I fill in meals for each night of the week based on activities or work schedules. For example, if Madison goes into work at around 5:00, I plan a meal I can make in the afternoon before she goes. I also plan with the weather in mind. No one wants to eat soup if it is 85 degrees! I usually use my crockpot one night a week, and also plan leftovers for school lunches. After we have the menu written out, I make the grocery list. Peyton checks the pantry for any ingredients we need for the meals and desserts and then we add the items fom our list we keep in the pantry. We grocery shop on Friday, and then have a well stocked house for the weekend with meals planned for the week. This makes it easy to see when I need thaw out meat too. I try to go to the store once a week only, except for the extra trip for milk or strawberries!

The blank menu plan for May. I found these online at a wonderful website right here.

Now...Tara asked if I am as calm as I appear to be here on the blog. In a word...yes. Have I always been? Probably not. I think age brings a sense of peace and contentment...of perspective. Things that used to make me crazy now make me shrug my shoulders. I mean, so what if my spring cleaning takes until June to complete? What if I skip it entirely this year? Will the world end?

I am as calm as I appear. I think this comes from loving what I do. I am a very simple person. I love to be home. I enjoy creating a place for my family to come home to, or relax in. I am content to be here with my family, washing clothes and baking brownies. That isn't the case for everyone, I know. Some peope prefer to be out and about, sharing time with friends. Some people take comfort in completing a task well at work. So do what makes you happy. And peace will come from that. If being home makes you crazy, go out more. If being out too much makes you frazzled, limit activities and spend more time at home. Just don't be afraid to be you. To do what you want, without worrying about pleasing others or conforming to standards you don't share.

One more thing...I would be being completely dishonest if I wrote this entire post and left you with the impression that I DO do it all. I do...but with a great deal of help. My husband and my children...we work as a team and that is the only way we operate! My husband supports everything I do here, and my children pitch in as well. We work together with one goal in mind... establishing a happy, healthy, home in which we share our lives and create wonderful memories. Thank you for sharing your lives and ideas with me here. I learn from you all everyday. : )


  1. Love, love. Totally honest and totally YOU. This is why we all love ya, Billie Jo :) I always enjoy an honest look at how someone else makes it work, esp when right now everything here feels like chaos. Like you, I do enjoy staying home and doing what I do every day. Unlike you, I stress and freak out a bit now and then because I am a perfectionist and lose sight of keeping life carefree and simple.
    Again, thank you for reminding me to calm down and keep perspective.
    Btw, I love those menus!! I have to check those out. Very cute.

  2. No need for a disclaimer! I love reading and learning from all of you. You are so blessed to be able to cyber school. I had to homeschool by myself, oh we had a support group, but cyber school was not a option in Alabama. You are also are so blessed to have a awesome support group in your husband and children.When we homeschooled, I oftened fretted about this or that, then one day it dawned on me that I was fretting too much. His "high school" years soon became tailored with the college requirments. ANYWAYS--I love reading and learning from others, like yourself. Thanks for sharing. Blessings

  3. You are so organized and creative. I love the pictures of your lovely home and the descriptions of all the fun things you do with your family. Thanks for these planning tips!

  4. I agree, peace of mind comes from loving what you do - you clearly love it a lot because everything you share here is filled with such love and devotion - it is inspiring!

  5. Dear friend, thank you so much for doing this post. There are so many wonderful things that really touched me. Thank you for taking the time to explain some of the details but also some of your feelings on why your life is the way it is.

    Oh how I wish I met you ten years ago when Anna was just home, a baby. I was so frazzled back then trying so hard to get my baby to be like all the others around me. I struggled with going and doing when my heart told me to stay home, stay put, don't do this, don't do that. Some days when I worry about what I did/ or didn't do over and over Scott is the first to tell me that I did stay home a lot, that he remembers me on the floor playing with her, reading books to her, and learning how to be a stay at home mom. But I sure would have benefited from your blog back then! (of course none of us did blog then!)

    Thank you for being the calm blogger that you are. I think that's one of the main reasons I started coming here every day. I felt your calmness, a peace... but there was also the way you 'make a home' that I loved at the beginning too. Now I need it all.

    This will be a post I just might have to read again. Like this part:
    * if being out makes you frazzled (me) than stay home more (and I loved all of the things you said around that)
    *weekly meal planning. (this week was better for me I planned the whole week and did one huge shop) but his whole week is soooo much better. Organized, yummy, unfrazzled, happy to cook with everything already at home.
    *"things that used to make me crazy now make me shrug my shoulders" okay, so we got all the way through the bedrooms for spring cleaning and then stopped this year! Maybe in June after Anna's birthday I'll pull out that spring cleaning list I have again and begin again. For now, I can't add that in to our full weekends and it just doesn't fit into my daily plan.

    There's so much in here that I love. Thank you again for taking the time to tell us what you do. It's so helpful. You are a wise stay at home/ school at home mama. You are a good friend to all that read your blog. I love it here! xo tara

  6. Oh, I just love your family and your life. Your calm, relaxed, positive attitude toward life is truly a magnet for me. You are my organization idol! And I am in awe that even with all of those things up there that you do behind the scenes, that you still have time to read everyone's blog posts and check everyone's Instagram posts AND sprinkle uplifting little notes on every single one. I just adore everything about you, Billie Jo! (...and HOW do you not have a single scribble on that calendar?? Everything is SO tidy.)

  7. Hi Billie Jo,
    I don't usually comment because I don't have a blog and I haven't used my Livejournal (with which I've logged in to write this) in over 8 years...but I wanted to log in today because I just wanted to let you know I read your blog regularly and I love it. I love that you take pleasure in simple things and know exactly what you want, like, and don't like or want.
    I am a graduate student, and I'm very busy, and reading your blog always feels very relaxing! :) Anyway, I just wanted to let you know you're great! Keep writing! Best, Bee.

    1. Hello! So nice to meet you! Thank you for reading, and also for commenting. It is so nice to find new friends here in this little world. : )
      Best wishes for a cozy weekend!

  8. What a beautiful place you have here Billie Jo! I so enjoyed my visit and look forward to many more. I too love tea in the evening as I wind down from the day that the Lord allowed me.
    I am your newest follower and look forward to seeing you often. :)
    Have a beautiful blessed Morher's Day!
    Joy! Debbie


Thanks so much for saying hello!

Billie Jo