And then we quit homeschooling.

We've homeschooled for two years. Kindergarten, first grade and then kindergarten again, with a little preschool thrown in for the two youngest. There were lots of worksheets, nature hikes and thousands books read in those two years. It was wonderful to be on our own schedule and pace as we adjusted to being a family of six. Homeschooling allows for a lot of flexibility and we needed that.

It was the best decision for our family at the time. We knew we would take the kids education a year at a time. While we love the idea of home education, we also know there is a lot of value in them being taught by others and learning different points of view. Craig and I had decided long ago that we wanted the kids to have a public school experience and that time is now.

We are quitting homeschooling for the upcoming school year. The kids are enrolled and ready to start school in four weeks! They couldn't be more excited about this new venture and I'm doing a little freak out as I look at uniforms, school supplies and packed lunches. Eeekkk!

Trusting someone else to watch my kids for eight hours a day is something I haven't done in my seven years of parenting ever. EVER. I've been solely responsible for my kids 90% of the time, with Craig doing the rest. This is going to be a huge adjustment and I'm having a bit of a panic attack knowing I'll have a second grader and a kindergartener. To be honest, it's also hard to let go. I've been in control of the kids day in and day out and relinquishing that to a stranger is not an easy task, but it is a necessary one. Parenting is hard! Can I get an amen?

I am excited about what the kids will learn and how they'll grow this next year. And the friends they will make! This will give me more one-on-one time with my two youngest, helping them grow and flourish. It will also open up time for me to rehearse and memorize lines for my theatrical endeavors, which I'm loving.

Overall, this is going to be awesome! It's a big change for our family with a lot of adjustment, but I'm excited to see how different we will all be in a year. Here's to a new year!

p.s. Did you know I have a website just for my acting endeavors?

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Making do (family of 6 in 1,200 sq ft home)

Living in a 1,200 square foot home as a family of six has it's challenges. Almost a year ago I shared my frustrations with living in tight quarters with a large and active family. We aren't your typical drop all the kids at school on the way to the office kind of family. Every aspect of our lives centers around these 1,200 square feet and we are doing our best to make the most of it.

Instead of continuing to bemoan my current confinement, because let's face it: I'm human and I like to whine. I've decided to create living areas in the space I have. One space we had overlooked in the previous six years we have lived here was our screened in patio. It seemed too small to really do anything with, so it stored random chairs and kids toys as we passed through it from the house into our yard.

With my renewed attitude to make do, it was time for a facelift! While Craig was at work I attacked the project with vigor and was determined it would be finished by the time he came home. I took what we had, grabbed some spray paint, a few ideas from Pinterest and got to work with a $150 budget.

I spray painted the existing table we had black and the two plastic chairs we had blue. These pops of color tie nicely with the shower curtains I purchased at Target to hang as outdoor curtains. Because they are made for the a high moisture environment, I thought they would be great with their hems, pre-made hole and mildew resistant material. I don't sew and the less work I had to do the better. I threw them up with some tension rods and called it a day.

The table is surrounded by the freshly painted plastic chairs, 2 metal Ikea chairs that were gifted to us with new grey stripped cushions and a custom made pallet bench made by my husband. Our new seating area is placed on top of an $18 solid grey outdoor rug from Home Depot. Talk about a bargain of a price and it helps to ground the space, making it feel more intentional. 

A burlap table runner from a friend's wedding centerpiece is topped by a white tray, green lantern, wine bottle wrapped in twine and a couple of candles from Ikea. I encourage the kids to add their summer discoveries like shells, drift wood and a baseball from their first Flying Tigers baseball game to the tray. It's a fun way to allow their personality into the space and adds a touch of whimsy to the centerpiece. Even though we are outside, a plant in a yellow pot adds another element of interest to an unused corner.

This is a kid space, so storage is a must. A green washtub from Ikea holds miscellaneous outdoor toys and a vintage metal magazine holder stores boots and muddy shoes right next to the door. The magazine rack has been sitting in the garage for a year after I abandoned it from another project. I love that it has been a given a new life. A shabby chic rocking chair was lovingly made by a friend and was my birthday gift last year. It's a sweet touch to the space and provides extra seating.

To finish the space off, we surrounded our tiny patio with a garden managed by the kids. We let the kids decide which plants we purchased at Home Depot and is absolutely lovely to look out at while enjoy dinner in our new space. My six year old son is very proud of his little garden and keeps it watered with our rain barrel.

I really do love how the new space turned out and it feels like we have added a new room to our home. This $150 and woman-power were well invested. It's brought a new energy to our family and a little more breathing room on those stir-crazy days. 

We have started house hunting, because while we love our addition, this space doesn't meet our family's long term goals. After 6 months of searching the housing market, we haven't found the perfect home that meets our needs and our budget. So we will continue to improve the space we have while we wait for our dream home to fall into our laps!

p.s. Do you remember when we set up the nursery for our 2 sons from Uganda?

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On set on my first film

I knew it was going to be a unique experience when the director sent out three different call times for my first day on set. The initial location on the call sheet was an island, which could only be reached by boat. While this was not logical, I started my 4:30 AM drive in the direction of the island.

All contact information on the call sheet was met with voicemail messages and no replies, so I was thankful that other cast members posted the correct location on our group Facebook page. I arrived on site 5 minutes late and felt terrible for my unprofessional entrance to set. No one seemed to know what was going on or who I was. There was a lot of standing around and smoking.

No one did any set-up until the  director showed up  2 hours after call time. I should have left right then and there. If the director couldn't be bothered to be on time for his own shoot, why should I be there? And to top it all off, a Jeep pulled into the parking spot beside with an improvised roof made out of a confederate flag.

When the director finally did arrive on location, his greasy mullet and thick hick accent should have been an indicator that this might not be the upstanding production I thought I was a part of. But against all my inner voices telling me to run, I stayed around as he accosted me with his lustful eyes.

After meeting the brains behind this disorganized venture, a fellow actor stared to regale me with talks of his fandom in central Florida, getting paid $1,000 an hour for a commercial on water conservation. Having only worked in the commercial industry for six months, I knew that his tale was as long as he was short. This same gentleman informed me that his acting break came while visiting Hooters after an exhausting night of running his singles club. This was shaping up to be quite the classy bunch that was assembled for this film.

I'm not one to be put off by a few bad apples or judge a book by it's cover, but things did not get better. Every other girl on set was a bleached blonde, breast augmented actresses trying to pass for 35, even though they were all pushing 50. One of these things didn't belong and I think it was the small chested 31 year old with mousy brown hair. 

Once we finally started shooting, a disgruntled park ranger came up to our director and began yelling in the middle of an evocative take about not having permits and that we were occupying prime real estate on this Memorial Day weekend. With promises to leave by 11 AM, they continued to shoot. I had not seen a shot list, hair or makeup and had no idea how I fit into what they were filming. This called for a walk.

I booked it to the boat dock on the opposite side of the park and called my husband, sharing the horrible experience on set so far. With encouragement to stay, I took a deep breathe as I stared out at the waves, garnering the courage to walk back. Just then, my one and only friend came onto set. We had performed together during the Christmas season and it brought such comfort to see a familiar face in the midst of a bad situation.

As I shared my experience and he shared his, I decided this wasn't the film for me. I had signed no contracts and they clearly weren't following the law in regards to obtaining permits for filming. Even though I had initially been excited about being cast in my first feature film, my enthusiasm was waning.

After I hugged my friend and wished him well, I simply walked off set and drove away. I quit the film before I had even began. I closed my first film experience with a professionally worded e-mail letting the director know I would not be returning.

Sometimes, you need to know when to walk away. Even though it was neat to be advancing my professional career by being cast in this sci-fi thriller, it wasn't a project that I felt confident about. So I walked away with a great story and hopes that the next project contains less mullets and confederate flags.

p.s. Did you read about my kids' first theatre experience?

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