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Prepping for the upcoming school year at home is well under way, almost all of our curriculum has arrived, we have a few school supplies & we are working on getting our “classroom” set up. If you want to read my post on why we decided to homeschool & what curriculum we are using, you can find it here! We are taking a less is more approach, except for the completely unnecessary vintage library cards that I bought, but naturally I had to throw together a few things that I’m considering must-haves for our journey into homeschool!

A few organizational essentials & a coffee mug that doubles as a wine mug were at the top of the list. A diffuser with all of our favorite oils for concentration & a calm environment are also essential, I’ll share some diffuser blends that I put together too!

Last year, each of the girls had some sort of point system in their classrooms and in the lunchroom that involved tickets or coins and some sort of reward system (like a trip to the treasure box in Claire’s case), so I wanted to replicate this for us. I bought a roll of raffle tickets and plan to give them to the girls throughout the week as rewards, and create a way for them to cash them in for things like a lunch date or other fun treasures.

one // two // three // four // five // six

A friend also recommended these plus plus blocks, which I have never seen but they look so fun and I know especially the younger two will love them for busy work! I ordered these mini blank notebooks for daily doodling & gratitude journaling, I love that they’re small enough to carry around for a scavenger hut or other outdoor projects as well.

Also, every classroom need a good chalkboard!! The ones we have were both DIY projects, but this one would be a great, affordable option if you don’t want to build your own!

And as promised, a free Homeschool Rules printable for you! Just download the image, save it & upload it to your favorite online printing site or print it yourself at home! If you print this and use it somewhere, be sure to share & tag me on Instagram @jlgarvin so I can see!! XO



Alternatively titled, “Anything I can do, you can do better.”

Well folks, you’re about to read words that I never thought I would type. We are planning to homeschool this year.

I’ll preface by saying, we aren’t choosing homeschool because we are afraid of the virus. I feel really confident maintaining healthy immune systems through good nutrition, lots of sunshine, supplements & sleep. I also respect everyone’s feelings and fears on the topic though and I know everyone is in a very unique position, so this is a judgement free zone on the topic.

There are a few reasons that we chose this route, the number one reason being that I don’t ever want to wake up at six in the morning to pack lunches ever again. Kidding. But also, putting that in the pros column.

The current district policy where we live has given us two options. One is to send kids back to school, but they will only be in school two days a week based on the first letter of their last name, and will comply with state health department recommendations of some masks, social distancing, temperature checks & additional cleaning/sanitizing. On the days they aren’t in the building, they will do distance learning. The second option is full distance learning. Distance learning, in either scenario, requires 390 minutes of online learning per day. Ultimately, after lots and lots and loooottttts of discussions, neither of those options felt like the school experience we hoped to have for our kids (at their ages, specifically), so we decided to explore homeschool.

The first step in choosing to homeschool is finding out what your state laws and regulations are (which we did and we are happy with) and then digging into what you want your curriculum to look like. I went straight to my homeschool mom friends and asked their opinions, and also asked all of you on Instagram and got a ton of responses!! The most highly recommended curriculums were The Good & The Beautiful, Teaching Textbooks, Masterbooks, Horizons, Abeka and Wild & Free.

I looked into all of them and ultimately decided that we will use The Good. & The Beautiful for our Language Arts and Reading, basically as a backbone to all of our school this year. If you go to their website, you’ll see that a lot of stuff is out of stock but they offer the full Language Arts course set for FREE as a pdf download. I grabbed as much as I could for each of their grade levels and then downloaded the rest to have printed & put together in three ring binders. We are going to use Masterbooks for math, all of that was in stock so I got the kids workbooks and the teacher manuals. For science & history, we will also use TGATB, and I love that these are taught at a family level, so you don’t need to break apart your lessons based on your kids grade level!! So rather than picking grade level generic workbooks for those subjects, you just choose a full subject to study for the year.

Both of these curriculums are faith based, which I love!!

I’ve also heard great things about Outschool for some online learning classes, and we may choose to do a few of these as well. Our goal is to do as much of our school with workbooks and in person teaching, and limit how much technology we use.

Three months ago, we put our kids iPads away. During the school year, our rule has always been no iPads during the week, they only got them on weekend mornings (ahem, so we could sleep in) or on rainy days. The first few weeks of quarantine were tough and we let them get away with a lot more. Then, after virtual learning for many hours a day, plus them begging to still get to play on them here and there, we made the executive decision that we were done with them for a while. The first few days were as tough and of course we were tempted many times to just give them back. You know the drill, you send your kids outside to play and ten minutes later, they’re all at your feet begging to just play iPad. Or they’ve had their face buried in their iPads for an hour and you tell them it’s time to put them away, and everyone turns into a grumpy zombie. It’s almost August and we are happy (and surprised!) to report that we’ve had a completely iPad free summer and we don’t plan to give them back. Our kids have so much more creativity, patience and overall they get along a million times better. I tell you all of this because I think this is going to be KEY in a successful homeschooling year for us, so if you’re in this position too, I encourage you to try it. It will suck at first, but you’ll see a noticeable difference in your kids in just a week.

A few more things. People have asked if we are worried about our kids not being around their friends or having the social aspect of school. And no, we aren’t! They’re going to continue with sports and gymnastics and play dates, plus we have very close circles of friends that we will continue to see often! We also hope to travel (if it’s allowed) during the school year and see some long lost friends that we miss, I know the kids will have a ton of great interaction with all of their friends this year!

Another question we have had is if we will do it just this year or continue it for good, and I honestly can’t answer that yet. It all depends on how the year goes and what the world looks like in 2021.

Now to the fun part, I’m excited to turn our back family room into a homeschool classroom so we can keep all of our stuff in one spot! Brandon just drew up plans to build us a big work table with some drawers, we will move the couch out, bring in some cozy reading chairs, and of course, hang Christmas lights. I’ll do a tour of the room and share plans with you this week!

And last, a few things I have purchased outside of the curriculum:

The Call of the Wild & Free Book (I’ve been encouraged to read this by other homeschool moms, I’m excited to dive in!)

Math Cubes (I needed something like this during distance learning earlier this year, I’ve had them in my amazon cart since May!)

Beginning Cursive Workbooks (they may not even have the best actual handwriting yet but we are diving straight into cursive this year and I’m excited!!!)

Ok what else?! I know this post was lonnnnng but hopefully I covered a lot of what you guys have been asking about! If you have other questions, please leave them in the comments. AND if you’re a homeschool mama and have advice or tips to share, we would also LOVE if you would leave those in the comments too!!!! I’m excited to jump in and as always, super grateful for all of you who are following along!!! XO

PS. Just as I was about to post this, Brandon looked over my shoulder and said “you spelled homeschool wrong.” So we’re off to a good start.

Follow our homeschool journey on Instagram.


Lake House Kitchen Project

This week we kicked off a project at the lake house, we are giving the kitchen an update to make it a little more our style & I’m excited to share some of the progress with you! One of the challenges with the current kitchen was the one small window which kept the kitchen feeling dark & shadowy. You know I am a lover of open shelving instead of upper cabinets, so we drew up some plans and talked to the builder of the home to see what it might look like to take down the cabinets & add some more windows to the far wall! The main floor is currently painted a dark khaki color, and we also had plans to add vertical paneling to the walls and paint them all white. Well, this week, all of our lake house dreams started to come true!

Throwback to the kitchen when we walked through the house for the first time, we made our offer on it during the very first showing right here in this kitchen!

And what it looked like after we moved in & Brandon built us an island!

And here is where we are today! It feels like a completely different space & the amount of natural light is BANANAS!! We can also see the water from the kitchen now which is an added bonus we hadn’t thought about.

I will share more pictures with you guys as we go, they are wrapping up all of the work today & painters come tomorrow morning to spray the entire first floor, it should be done mid next week!!

PS. There will be shelves on either side of that range hood that I’m already excited to style with all. the. fish. decor.