First Day of Homeschool 2013

August 12th, 2013

Well, the first day isn’t quite over. We have Bible and Music left on the schedule. I also have a project I need them to finish. I am loving several websites/blogs right now.  – free pdf printable lesson books for many instruments – NICE  – free cute printable organizing sheets/planners/etc – very handy


Our first day went well. I have a 4th grader  (quote of the day, “I can’t wait to see what 4th grade is like!”), 1st grader (loves math still and read through a book without help), Preschooler (quote of the day, “Can I do school?!”), and toddler (2) (played with busy bags and trains and fussed because I was busy).  I am glad 1st grader is finally picking on on phonics/reading. I’m thankful I was able to  give her the time she needed to catch on. I quite possibly will have another early reader with my preschooler. He seems to learn like his older brother. I was also super excited to hear toddler shout out “GREEN!” when seeing the color without prompt. I didn’t know he knew that. :-) I also think it’s adorable that other colors are named as the person who likes them. Yellow is “Me!”, Orange “Joe”, Purple “Jenna”, and blue “Caden”.  Too cute.

I haven’t taken the “first day” picture yet since half are still in pjs. I do plan to do that soon.

Thanks for reading. I must go so I can figure out how to get this printer to PRINT! Augh….

P.S – I recommend homeschoolers have a copier.. we do not.. and I WANT ONE …   that’s all.



Don’t Be So Defensive

July 9th, 2013

Where there are moms, you will find competition. I suppose somehow it is in the nature of some (most?) moms to make sure their child gets the best education, the safest car seat, the best grades, reaches milestones first, sleeps the longest, eats the best, naps better, is more well-rounded, or talks more clearly. Also as keepers of the family, we have competition over who can save the most money, write the best blog, be the most crafty, have the cleanest house, bake the best bread, cook the best dinners, and set up the most playdates. We can compete over who makes the best decisions regarding our children. We can argue over whether our decision is better. We can defend our decision. We can get defensive when someone mentions a decision that isn’t in line with ours. We get defensive. SO defensive! Then, it’s all a futile argument between 2 women defending their choice. No one is going to change their mind at this rate. It’s just a matter of who will stop arguing and drop the topic. But NO. You (I) can’t stop. You (I) can’t drop it. Because YOU (I) am RIGHT.

Don’t be so defensive. What does that even mean? Defensive means excessively concerned with guarding against the real or imagined threat of criticism, injury to one’s ego, or exposure of one’s shortcomings. Unfortunately most women don’t realize they are being defensive, but most often they are. I used to get very defensive. Now, I am much better at ignoring the critics. I have done my research. I have made informed decisions. Yes, I made the BEST decisions. The RIGHT decisions. For MY family. Now go do your research and make your own BEST and RIGHT.  Don’t be so defensive. When you are confident in your choices, you find that there’s way less need to feel guarded. Someone can be critical. They can point out your shortcomings … and yes, we all have them. They can do these things and you can smile and shrug and say, “We’re all human.”  Perhaps, you can be an even better and bigger person by humbly adding, “But thank you for pointing that out. I will work on that.”   Heaping coals … heaping coals.

Be yourself, Moms. Do what you do best and do what works for your family. This isn’t a race. It’s more of a hike up a slowly inclining mountain. Where trees fall across your path or the terrain gets bumpy here and there. But you also find a beautiful copse shadowing dark plush grass every mile or so and fields of flowers. In the end, it’s a gratifying hike, worth every bit the trouble.

So lace up your boots, mamas. And instead of throwing boulders in each others paths, how about we hand each other a walking stick.

Oh, and for those times that the other moms are raining on your parade or your kids are determined to make life difficult, here are some essential oils to help you through it. Relax. Roll on some Stress-Away, dab some lavender on your wrists, or drop some Joy over your heart and massage in. I promise you will feel much better in a few minutes!

Thanks ladies!!

Rachel (mom of 4 and every-now-and-then-blogger)

How to Wear Your Baby

April 12th, 2013

I am going on 5 years of babywearing. Babywearing is a term coined for those that use some sort of carrier to keep baby close and hands free (or at least mostly). It is great for babies and toddlers as they grow through different stages to have this access to being close and secure with mom.

I was introduced to babywearing slowly at first, with probably some of the most well known carriers. Several new moms are getting Mobys for their infants at showers and such. You may even see the occasional ring sling. Starting out, though, I had no idea how vast and confusing the babywearing world could be. It is quite daunting at first and you seriously need a translator half the time.

I think I’m finally “getting it”. Especially over the last few months I feel I’ve doubled my knowledge. I’ve been watching the resell boards (Facebook), doing searches, checking retail sites, and reading whatever I found when I had time.

To begin with, carriers can be categorized into about 7 types. I will try and go through each type and give you some examples and general descriptions. Hopefully this can get you started on finding what you want. Nothing beats just a little trial and error, though. I found through personal experience (or AM finding) that trying different carriers/sizes yourself is the best way to figure out what you want, but it’s also time consuming and expensive at times. Wraps/Carriers have a great resell value so that is a great advantage.

Stretchy Wraps    **NEVER use for back carry**

The most popular I think, is the Moby. It is considered a wrap and is made of cotton. You wrap it around yourself and place baby in the folds. I found it wonderful for newborns and little babies. Once you get close to 20 lbs or so, it starts not being so comfortable and will stretch out too much. Despite this, I will always keep a moby in my stash because of how much I loved it for the littles.

Baby K’tan is getting a little more popular. It works the same way as the Moby, but without the several feet of material. No wrapping.. it just slips on and you are ready to go. I loved the design and feel of the Ktan, but I didn’t like the fact that after about 20 lbs, it started stretching out and no amount of washing/drying would make it shrink back up tight enough for my comfort. If you buy, go a size DOWN to prevent this. K’tan is wonderful, though, if the sizing is right.


Sleepy Wrap AKA Boba

Wrapsody also makes a hybrid stretch wrap

Pouch Slings

Not that popular, but easy in/out. These are sized, so you have to figure out what size you’d need. Lots of people love them with newborns and then hip carries with older babies. Examples would be Hotsling and Peanut Shell.

Soft Structured Carriers

These are fairly popular. The Ergo and Beco would fall in this category. These have adjustments, buckles, inserts, and other pieces that help you get the right fit. They are very easy to use but some people aren’t fond of all the hardware (me included). I found all the buckles/clasps/etc to be annoying and I never got a good comfortable fit with my Beco, BUT many many women love these types of carriers.

Other SSCs (soft structured carriers):

Babyhawk Oh Snap



and many more

Asian Style Carriers

Mei tais will fall in this category. There are homemade, or work at home mom made mei tais. Then there are bigger brands as well. I’ve had WAHM and big brand .. both worked fine .. just had different details. I want to be a mei tai fan… I’ve tried several, only to find out I’m a wrapper at heart (I love using the wraps).

Brands/Makers of Asian Style Carriers:


Free Hand Mei Tai 


Woven Wraps (my FAVORITE!)

I plan to do a whole separate post going more in depth with woven wraps. I ADORE them. There are several sizes (lengths) and several materials. Lengths you will see range from 2-8.  Woven wraps are made of 100% cotton, cotton/bamboo blend, cotton/linen blend, linen, silk, cotton/silk blend, cotton/hemp blend, cotton/wool, blend and any mix there-of. Some are generally more supportive than others. Some are more “slippery”. Some are like wrapping with a tarp at first until you break the wrap in. Breaking a wrap in is basically using it, braiding it, sleeping with it, sitting on it, whatever you want to do to make the wrap nice and floppy and moldable. Wraps are so versatile, which is why I love them so much. For videos on how to wrap, check youtube and paxbaby, but nothing beats finding someone in your town to help you in person!

Details of the sizes are as follow:

Size 2 -2.7 meters=8.86 feet (great for ruck carries/quick carries for size S/M)

Size 3-3.1 meters=10.17 feet (great for ruck carries/quick carries for size L/XL)

Size 4-3.6 meters=11.81 feet (great for more involved carries for most sizes)

Size 5-4.2 meters=13.78 feet (involved carries for most sizes ..good size for quick carries for dads)

Size 6-4.6 meters=15.09 feet (involved carries for any size)

Size 7-5.2 meters=17.06 feet (any carry you would ever want to do including tandem

Sellers of woven wraps:

Marsupial Mamas


Purple Elm Baby

Granola Babies


Thanks and stay tuned for a post detailing more about Woven wraps. Happy babywearing!!




Five Things a Crunchy Mom Says on a Road Trip

November 26th, 2012

1. Where’s the Peppermint Oil? I’m getting a little tired.  (

2. His chest clip is a little low.  (

3. Hand me the cover so I can nurse him before we get back on the road.  (

4. Should I wear him in the sling, or the wrap while we shop? ( (

5. Hold the Eucalyptus Oil up to the vent so it can diffuse through the car. (


I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving and I hope everyone is having a wonderful time getting ready for Christmas. Safe travels!!



Something New

April 27th, 2012

I love to up-cycle things from clothing to furniture and beyond. I decided it was time to “up-cycle” my blog as well. I still have all the old entries and comments, but I’ve added them to a whole new blog experience, called Blue Willow Homestyle. We are a homeschooling family and we named our school Blue Willow Academy for the beautiful willow tree in our yard and the Bluegrass state in which we live. The definition of homestyle is: involving the home or family. The plans I have for this new blog are just that, things that involve our personal home and/or family. There’s so much I want to share and enjoy talking about. I hope you enjoy hearing about our life and ideas as our family grows and learns!

Have A Wonderful Memorial Day

May 30th, 2010

I hope everyone has a wonderful Memorial Day. Take a moment to remember the men and women who died while serving our country.

Don’t forget to come back and tell me about your frugal Memorial Day parties!

  • About

    Blue Willow is our homeschool name, chosen for the beautiful willow tree in our yard and the Bluegrass state we live in. Homestyle is defined as "involving the home or family" and "domestic". Here you will find stories about our life as a family and tips from me, a mommy of four. I will talk about a variety of things that pertain to our family and other things I'm passionate about. I do hope you enjoy.