How We Plan Our Summer as a Homeschool Family

Anyone else hit summer and look for ways to have some structure but not over-structure? Me. I am anyone else. Homeschool ends, and then I feel overwhelmed – “What do I do for summer?!” I want my children to feel like they are more relaxed, and to be able to differentiate from homeschool. We will not do any formal full lessons and I will give them time to be bored because boredom is not a bad thing. I do not want the summer to pass and also feel like we have done nothing.

I have three children, 12, 7 and 4. I included them in the planning and set specific goals for each day. Now these goals will not rule our whole schedule as vacations, summer camps and other events will definitely happen but we will have a loose plan for each day. I am not sure about you but by breakfast each day my kids are asking “what are we doing today?” and they are typically not satisfied with “nothing.”

Here is what our summer schedule looks like for the months of July and August. Mondays are zoo mornings (we get a membership to the local one each year), Tuesdays are pool afternoons (we have a small pop up one otherwise it would be dedicated water play outside). Wednesdays are mornings the the museum (again we have a membership to the local children’s museum but we will also explore our other museums as well). Thursdays we will visit the library and a park nearby hosts picnics in the park with family entertainment for free. Fridays are our adventure day, we will be checking a new local park or two (we will also blog and rate our experience for those local to Erie County Pennsylvania).

Using the Notability app on my iPhone I created these fun color coded calendars (I also use similar ones for our homeschool year), I then took advantage of the $0.99 magnet deal on the Shutterfly app to create magnets as a reminder for the fridge.

This helps us have an intentional and focused summer not being limited by what we plan, but if we feel like we have nothing to do it helps to have a plan already! Let me know your tricks to keep summer fun and easy for your kiddos.

x. earnest mom

Head Lice Bugging You? It Earnestly Bugs Me.

Status

Please note, I am not selling or promoting any specific products for profit – I only recommend what I use because I am sure of it’s quality and effectiveness. Also the recipe included is not certified to treat head lice, it only helps with prevention.

When I was in the 7th grade I got head lice so bad that my mother (bless her heart) cut my long hair above my ears with kitchen shears. I cried, I remember holding my ponytail recently separated from my body through blurry sobs. In 7th grade I knew not to share hats, brushes, sweaters or lay next to friends for worry I may get head lice – but I got it anyway. So I showed up one day after all the dreaded “Head Lice Memos” went home, with a boy’s haircut (we went to a pro once I was all cleaned up from lice). I was mortified, I had such bad head lice that I still cringe at the nick names I received from the whole experience, ‘lice queen, lice hotel,’ and other creative names I do not care to mention. My 7th grade self is still petrified of getting head lice, and now that I have a long haired daughter starting school – I have worries, naturally.

Before my 7th grade experience, I got head lice for the first time, in Kindy; I remember sitting to get my bum length hair french braided and sprayed before school. I can still taste the mist of that choking aerosol spray we used to help prevent any louse wanting to get to my scalp. Of course, I ended up getting lice and my first experience with that nasty, stinky shampoo and painful nit catching comb. God bless my mother, she had 4 girls and head lice was quite an event in our house.

I know when I was in school there was a lot of myth and misinformation about lice, and today I still hear the same stuff. Here are some facts, head lice are:

  • 1 of the top 3 reasons kids miss school
  • Extremely common! Between 6-12 million U.S. kids 3-11 years old get head lice each year
  • Not dangerous, but are contagious (and SO annoying)
  • NOT signs of unwashed or unclean hair – they thrive in clean hair
  • Unable to jump, fly or swim
  • Unable to live on your pets
  • Unable to live in your environment (couch, carpet, furniture, pillow, sheets, mattress, car, movie theater, airplane)

Now, I also know that there are A TON of sprays and solutions out there that promise prevention and they are CRAZY expensive so I am going to share my recipe that is super easy and effective, but also will not break the bank. I will also share the prevention tips I follow and so far so good while my littles have attended PreK, VBS and play dates!

Lice Prevention Spray

Recipe:

  • 4 oz Distilled Water
  • 1 tsp alcohol free witch hazel
  • 8 drops dōTERRA Tea Tree Essential Oil
  • 5 drops dōTERRA Lavender EO
  • 5 drops dōTERRA Rosemary EO (optional)
  • 4 oz glass spray bottle (I recycled this one from Urban Oreganics Rose Water Spray)
  • Shake well and spray on wet or dry hair before and after styling.
  • I use this daily with my kiddos, lice can attach to any hair that is 2 inches or longer so if you have young lads with longer hair they can use the spray too!

    Witch hazel – Since head lice do not like clean hair, my kids wash their hair every two/three days, a very small amount of witch hazel can help reduce oil build up

    Tea Tree Essential Oil (melaleuca) – anti-fungal and antimicrobial properties make it effective for preventing lice, treating dandruff and seborrheic dermatitis. It can clear the follicles and allow your hair to breathe; also moisturizes the scalp while preventing buildup of excess oil on the scalp.

    Lavender Essential Oil – has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, which can prevent head lice and improve overall scalp health. Lavender is also known for properties that can generate the growth of cells and reduce stress.

    Rosemary Essential Oil – can counter hair loss by stimulating blood circulation in the scalp, which, in turn, promotes hair growth. Its high nutritional value and anti-inflammatory properties make it an excellent ingredient for nourishing the hair follicles and soothing the scalp. It is also known to aid in lice prevention.

    Other oils that are good for preventing head lice – eucalyptus, peppermint and neem.

    Lice Prevention Tips:

    • Weekly lice checks, not sure what to look for? Google human lice/louse/nits
      Wash hair infrequently
      Style longer hair in braids or ponytails
      Use above spray daily before going to school/activities
      Encourage children not to share combs, brushes, hats or shirts
      Keep on the look out for frequent scalp itchiness or complaining of tickling feeling on scalp/hair

    Good luck mamas! If your kiddos end up getting head lice take a moment, breathe and do not panic. There are several ways to treat, kill and clean lice from heads and home. It can be quite a task but worth the work of preventing re-infestation; some natural and OTC treatments may not work as some are resistant; if necessary feel free to call and see your child’s practitioner.

    Please know, and I speak from experience, that parental reaction can have long lasting effects and staying calm, reassuring and supporting to your child who has lice is worth it’s weight in gold.

    You’ve got this!

    x. earnest mom

    Earnest Mom x Sage Spoonfuls

    Status

    Guys!! I am so excited about this, earnest mom is OFFICIALLY a Sage Spoonfuls Brand Ambassador.

    Okay, so what does that mean?? It means over the next few months I will get the privilege to share with you some of their brand new products plus awesome discounts!! Woo hoo.

    I began using Sage Spoonfuls back in 2015 when I starting making baby food for earnest babe. (Check out my article here, An Earnest Attempt At Homemade Baby Food.)

    In our earnest home, we used Sage Spoonfuls’ Baby Food Making System for making baby food, but once we were passed the baby food stage this system has been helpful for much more. The immersion blender has been used for shakes, soups and applesauce. The mini food processor has made pesto, freezer jams, breadcrumbs, cookie crumbs and chopping veggies. The glass jars (freezer safe) have served as Oriole jelly feeders, storage for home-made jam, tartar sauce and applesauce; stashing snacks in the diaper bag and even reusable wipes. This whole system grows well beyond the infant feeding years, definitely an investment. (Want more ideas? Check out Sage Spoonfuls).

    Now that earnest boy 2.0 is 5 months, I am getting ready to start making baby food all over again. Sage Spoonfuls has a wonderful cookbook that gives delicious, fresh and healthy (and safe) recipes tailored to each specific baby food age/stages. I am excited to do it all over again, and with my mom brain forgetting all I did 3 years ago – this cookbook helps a lot.

    That is my story on why I love Sage Spoonfuls SO much; go ahead, get your own Sage Spoonfuls and start your love story!! Want a discount while you shop?! Use SAGE25REBECCA at www.sagespoonfuls.com for your 25% discount today.

    x. earnest mom

    PS: Stay tuned for some new products from Sage Spoonfuls!

    It’s That Time of Year! Host a Healthy Baby Home Party for Your and Your Friends!

    Status

    As you may recall, I hosted a Healthy Baby Home Party last year via Facebook.  We had a great attendance and a TON of prizes.  Want to host your own?! Here is what it is all about!

    What is a Healthy Baby Home Party?

    Seventh Generation’s home parties are powered by people like you who are focused on creating a healthy environment for the next generation. Developed with input from non-profit partner, Healthy Child Healthy World, they are a great way to get together with friends, share helpful information, and make an impact!

    Healthy Baby Home Party kits are provided to all selected hosts and are filled with educational info about our environment, helpful tips, a fun game, and samples and coupons from Seventh Generation and other favorite family-friendly brands like bobble, American Meadows and Zarbee’s Naturals

    What is the Application Process?

    • Sign up atgenerationgood.net to join the Generation Good community, or log in if already a member.
    • Accept the Healthy Baby Home Party Application offer on your Generation Good dashboard and complete the application.
    • Applicants will be notified by mid-June if they have been selected to host a party, via an email to the email address assigned to their Generation Good member profile.
    • All selected applicants will then need to confirm their participation by accepting the Healthy Baby Home Party Mission in Generation Good and confirming their shipping address.
    • Hosting spots are open to US residents only at this time. Canadian parties are planned for later in 2016!
    • Full terms and conditions are available within Generation Good in the “Healthy Baby Home Party Application” offer.

    So why not apply?  It is a lot of fun plus you will be helping to get the word out about toxins in our everyday lives that we can minimize for a healthier home for you, and a healthier home for baby!

    x. earnest mom

    Earnest Mom Local Spotlight: The Family Shop

    The Family Shop is a new and exciting parenting retail store opening here in Erie, PA.  Created by Jeff and Kristyn Chiaramonte, their mission is to provide the best quality family care products and services at fair pricing to support families of all income levels. Every customer matters to them. Such a perfect name for their shop as they truly are family focused and family supportive, a community effort that is rarely felt in any big box store today.  They are trying to help the community not only by providing great products to families but also by supporting local “mommy makers/artisans” which will have Erie made products featured on their Vendor Wall.

    The Family Shop will provide great new natural products focused on helping families. They will be offering  a variety of baby carriers/wraps, nursing/maternity apparel, cloth diapers, bamboo feeding tools, educational toys, teething products and more. The shop has a Mommy Corner, designed with nursing moms in mind, it is a quiet corner where mammas can nurse if baby gets hungry during shopping or change their bums without being distracted from the business of the hustle and bustle.  There is also an adorable kids spot that is a space designed specifically for little ones to play, with a huge open window  where kids remain in sight from across the store; moms and dads can shop while their little one plays, and can keep a good eye on them at the same time.

    The Family Shop will have their grand opening starting Tuesday April 26, 2016 10 am lasting all week, they will give away free reusable “The Family Shop” totes on each in store purchase, while supplies last.  The shop’s regular hours of operation will be Tuesdays-Saturdays from 10 am – 6 pm.  During the grand opening there will be large stamp pads available in an array of colors so the customers can use their hand prints to decorate the lower half of the store’s walls.  I earnestly love this idea and cannot wait until my littles are old enough to return and can pick out their own hands on the shop walls.  As the days lead up to the grand opening, stay tuned on Facebook where the shop has been featuring some fun reveals and keeping us updated with any news.

    I am earnestly excited for this store to open, as an Erie resident and mama of two I can see the potential and need for this shop to be a great community support.  Kristyn and Jeff hope to start hosting learning programs from the shop to allow moms and dads a safe place to spend time, grow and learn, and allow children to socialize as well.  The shop is quaint, inviting and welcoming to all customers.  Whether you are curious about baby wearing, cloth diapers, looking to simply connect, or thinking about going bit greener in your home, this is the shop you want to stop by!

    Contact The Family Shop at Yorktown Plaza
    2501 W. 12th Street
    Erie, PA 16505
    814-616-6801
    or Connect on Facebook:
    https://www.facebook.com/Eriefamilyshop
    and Twitter:
    @familyshoperie

    Hope to see you at the Grand Opening!
    x. em.

    Earnest Mom Gets UnPapered!

    image.jpeg

    A while back, earnest dad and I had chatted a bit about using unpaper towels. Never really getting around to it and feeling quite intimidated by the change, I finally bit the bullet and reached out to the sweet Sarah over at Marley’s Monsters to get our hot hands on some high quality unpaper towels.  There were some great fabrics to choose from, since I figured paper towels are used to clean up messes it was best to get a fabric or two that looked nice together and hid stains if needed. I loved the flower print and Sarah helped me to pick the perfect complementary color to go with it.  We are a family of four and we ordered 24 unpaper towels, we have not been disappointed at all!

    Here they are compared to the Honest Company’s”select a size” paper towels and then a shot of the thickness of the flannel.

    As I mentioned above, we ordered 24 unpaper towels and they are the perfect amount for our family of four. They are great for wiping up spills, wash up great and are super soft for wiping sticky fingers and faces. To store clean ones, we roll them together and hang from our paper towel roll, well, now our unpaper towel roll. The flannel sheets naturally cling to each other which make them roll off perfectly when we pull them off the roll. I use the same unpaper towel through the day when I am drying my hands and then with supper (as I am home all day with earnest babe). We store dirty unpaper towels in an Urban Oreganics muslin bag in our broom closet. I wash a load of unpaper towels about every two days and use our regular natural detergent on a quick wash and tumble dry for about twenty five minutes (they dry quick!).  So far zero stains too!

    Unpaper towels have been an easy transition for this earnest family and I am wishing everyday that I had not felt so intimidated and bought these bad boys sooner! Marley’s Monsters is such great quality and Sarah is SO sweet I would recommend anything from her shop. If you are curious about unpaper towels, try them today and use earnest mom’s 15% discount listed below, which is good until March 20th, 2016. Sarah also offers cloth wipes (which we use and love), nursing pads (also use and love!) and many other great handmade items. Enjoy!

    x.

    earnest mom.

    Marley’s Monsters 15% code: EARNESTMOM15

    Visit Marley’s here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/marleysmonsters?ref=s2-header-shopname

    Expires March 20, 2016

    Earnest Mom Becomes an Honest Ambassador.

    Image

    Earnest mom is very excited and blessed to announce that I have been chosen as an Honest Company Ambassador, this opportunity will provide me with exclusive access to new products, reviews and even more giveaways!  As an ambassador I will be compensated for any sales that may come from links on my blog and blog posts.  Although being compensated is nice, that is only a perk, I did not sign on because I want sales. I signed on because I am an Honest brand enthusiast. I absolutely love their products, their standards and their story.

    I remember my first purchase was three years ago Christmas, as stocking stuffers and gifts I had purchased the hair and body wash sets from Costco, and kept one for myself. I loved the smell, and the fact that it had no harmful chemicals. There. Right there, that is where my love for the Honest Company began.

    It would not be a few years before I ordered my free Essentials Trial and free Diaper and Wipes Trial. Once again, I was not disappointed, only complaint I have heard is if you order a free trial you have to call to cancel or you will be billed for a monthly membership.  The Honest Company makes you very aware of the automatic payments after the trial period, I did not mind calling to cancel the diaper subscription, as much as I loved the diapers, we use cloth during the day and disposable at night. I do not go through nearly enough disposable diapers to justify the subscription. If you are a disposable user, I earnestly recommend using the Honest subscription. The diapers come in fun, colorful, and adorable prints and are free from toxic chemicals. They arrive at your door for about 80 bucks a month or every six weeks. I know that a case of diapers from any big box store runs from 40-55 dollars depending on the diaper size, that does not include wipes. The Honest company provides toxin free diapers and wipes for 25 dollars more. I know with my first born, when we used disposable diapers we were using about a case and a half a month. I would say the price is quite comparable. Check it out at the link below and see for yourself! Remember any sales that are made through this link, earnest mom will be compensated.

    The Honest Company

    When earnest baby was born, I received an Honest Company diaper cake, I loved it! Especially because I loved the diapers, like I said earlier cute prints and free of toxic chemicals, great combination for this earnest mom; that being said we use Honest diapers at night and they hold…all night. I’ve always had to use the next size up for the earnest kids at night because they’d go so much, but with Honest it’s the first diaper that I use at their true size that keeps them dry all night! I now order two packs a month online, and I love them!

    What can I say?! I love the Honest Company and hope to be able to bring you earnest followers more information, more reviews and giveaways in the future, please stay tuned. In the meantime, use earnest mom’s link to check out some Honest goodies and try a few free trials!

    x.

    earnest mom.

    Earnest Mom’s Crunchy Journey

    Hello my earnest followers.  I am earnestly excited to introduce to you a new series to Earnest Mom’s Blog called Earnest Mom’s Crunchy Journey.  This series will focus on an aspect in earnest mom and family’s life where we are making the transition to a more greener version.  This series will appear monthly as the first post of the month.  It will feature and array of topics from cleaners to beauty products to baby products and some giveaways.

    Together we will take this adventure and see how far we can go to ridding our homes and bodies of unwanted toxins.  I am no billionaire…as a matter of fact I am not even a thousandaire (which is a word in the earnest dictionary) so my transition will be affordable, practical and reasonable so we can all enjoy this journey together.

    If there is anything that you earnest followers would like to see featured, please feel free to comment here or email me suggestions.  Stay tuned to tomorrows first edition of Earnest Mom’s Crunchy Journey where we will delve into the world of nail polish (which is really hard for me – I am an admitted polish-a-holic).

    x.

    earnest mom.

    Healthy Baby. Healthy Home. Earnest thoughts on Generation Good by Seventh Generation.

    As some of you may know, I was recently selected to host a Health Baby Home Party as a member of Seventh Generation’s Generation Good – I feel so honored to host this in Erie, and I felt to share with you why you might want to join too.

    Seventh Generation is a brand, yes.  It is an all natural and organic brand that provides household products (from paper plates to dish soap), baby products (from chlorine free diapers to body lotion), to health and beauty (feminine care products to hand soap).  They earnestly care about what you are putting in contact with your skin.  Their name is Seventh Generation because they are concerned about the next seven generations after ours and what things will look like for their futures.  

    Recently, Seventh Gen announced that they have teamed up with Whole Foods for a buy/give program.  From May to September 2015, for every package of Free and Clear Diapers that purchased at any Whole Foods Market in the US, Seventh generation will donate a pack of newborn or size 1 diapers to non profit organizations that donate baby essentials to families in need across the US – a program I find quite admirable.

    Seventh Gen’s Generation Good (which can be found at Generation Good ), there are resources for you to find forums of information and tips from parents who are concerned with toxins that our children come into contact with, you can also apply to host your very own Health Baby Home Party – where you will receive free products from Seventh Generation, Zarbees and Bobble, and a lot of information about cleaning toxins out of our homes. 

       

    I am very excited to host Healthy Baby Home Party this coming month – in fact if you are in the Erie, Pennsylvania area and are interested in attending the party please contact me at earnestmomblog@gmail.com.  If you are not in the area but want to participate, like Earnest Mom’s Facebook page to attend the online portion of the party where you will be eligible to win a Seventh Generation Home Prize Pack! (Giveaway open to both residents of Canada and the United States). Date and time will be announced on Facebook page. 

    Please know that Seventh Generation does not endorse this post nor am I receiving any compensation  – its just my earnest desire to share information on a such a global conscious company.

    x

    earnest mom

    I Screen. You Screen. An Earnest look at Sunscreen – plus an earnest give away!

    With the summer’s sunny season quickly approaching I have been doing some earnest research on sun safety and our skin.  According to the American Cancer Society, people who get a lot of exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays are at greater risk for skin cancer – sunlight being a main source of UV rays.  If you have been burned once in your life, you may be at a greater risk of developing skin cancer; since our children are dependent on us – lets keep their skin safe.  Of course, this does not mean stay out of the sun completely but to follow basic sun safety.  Seek the shade on sunny days (you will still get UV exposure even in the shade), wear sunscreen (SPF 15 or higher), cool long layers, and a hat.

    When it comes to sunscreen, most of us buy one of the major brands like the one with the puppy pulling on the girls bathing suit or the one that smells like sunny vacations – hot and tropical, but I would earnestly encourage that we turn that bottle over and read what we are slopping on our skin in the heat of the day.  Remember, our skin is our biggest organ and absorbs all chemicals it comes into contact with instantly – which is directly absorbed into to our bloodstream.

    The majority of big brand labels (non-mineral or organic based) sunscreen’s active UV filter ingredients are Oxybenzone, which acts like estrogen in the body; alters sperm production in animals and is associated with endometriosis in women; Rentinyl Acetate, a synthetic vitamin A ingredient – the FDA has raised a concern that daily skin application of vitamin A creams may contribute to excessive vitamin A intake for pregnant women and other populations; Octinoxate which creates hormone-like activity in the reproductive system, and linked to thyroid and behavioral alterations in animal studies.  These ingredients are among only some of the concerning ingredients (others are parabens and fragrances) that have been proven to attribute not only to hormone disruption, but have been found to be linked to cancer and skin allergies.  So – whoa, earnest information overload I know, and if you are interested in learning more I urge to you to do some of your own research, start with the Environmental Working Groups website article The Trouble With Sunscreen Chemicals, and from there check out their other links that are helpful and informative.

    Okay, so now what?  Well there are sunscreens out there that are mineral based, which on the whole are much more safer for you than the ingredients already listed. When shopping for a safer sunscreen use the following criteria:

    1. Stay away from ALL aerosol spray screens – the inhalation factor raises too many concerns.
    2. Natural does not always mean safe – check ingredients and avoid the ones listed above.
    3. Stay with mineral based – look for the following ingredients Titanium DioxideZinc Oxide or Mexoryl SX.
    4. Avoid SPF higher than 50, there has been little evidence of the increased protection once the SPF has reached 50. (According the EWG – High-SPF products may give people a false sense of security, tempt them to stay in the sun too long, suppress sunburns but upping the risk of other kinds of skin damage. The FDA is considering limiting SPF claims to 50+, as is done in other countries.)
    5. NO tanning oils – the offer minimal sun protection and placing oil on your skin only magnifies the harmful rays we are trying to protect ourselves from.

    If you are not in the mood for looking and researching all ingredients here are some of my favorite, low toxicity exposure sunscreens that I love (and will also be giving away).  For the earnest kiddos, I like BabyGanics, not only is it mineral based but is also friendly on the checkbook.  BabyGanics offers 2 cream based sunscreens (one in a tube, another in non-aerosol, pump spray form) both go on nicely and are fragrance free for sensitive skin, water resistant (80 minutes), tear free, hypoallergenic, and have NO PABA, phthalates, parabens, fragrances or nano-particles.  BabyGanics can be found at Target, Babies R Us and other big box stores that have natural or organic sections.  For the whole earnest family I like The Honest Company‘s Sunscreen Lotion.  It is a broad spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen, it is also a bit higher in cost.  If you are already a subscription holder you can get it at a discounted rate, and can also be found at Target stores.  This sunscreen is hypoallergenic, non-Nano, mineral-based, biodegradable, reef-friendly, water resistant (80 minutes)  and pH balanced.

    For my everyday facial lotion, I am sure to use a face cream that contains SPF 20, I use UrbanOreganics Green Tea facial moisturizer (you can find my review of the item here).  This cream contains no harsh chemicals and leaves your skin feeling soft and well moisturized, without feeling greasy. It is thick, but not heavy, and will fully absorb into your skin in a matter of minutes. Perfect for all skin types. SPF is from Zinc Oxide and the cream is vegan, organic and contains non GMO ingredients.

    Earnest followers, get out and enjoy the sun, its vitamin D, its light and its warmth – but let’s be safe and choose mineral based coverage in addition to covering up when we can. Have fun in the sun!

    To Enter To Win Sweepstakes:

    Please share your sun safety tips in the comments below (one entry per person) to enter to win an earnest sun safe prize pack that will include my favorite sunscreens listed in this post (UrbanOreganics SPF 20 facial cream, The Honest Company SPF 30 Sunscreen lotion and BabyGanics SPF 50 mineral based sunscreen lotion – valued at over $50.00). Earn extra entries by sharing on Facebook/Twitter and come back and comment “shared” in the comments section.  The earnest giveaway closes 5-31-15 and is open to residents of Canada and the USA. The winner will be drawn at random and notified on 6-1-15.  **Participants must 18 years of age or older.

    x.

    earnest mom.

    Earnest Tip:  SPF cannot “add up” – if you use SPF 15 facial cream, then apply SPF 30 suncreen, the protection factor is 30 – it does not add up to 45.  This is a common consumer mistake so lets spread the word and be sun safe.