We are really enjoying homeschool so far. We are still figuring out what works for us and what doesn’t, but the nice thing is we are allowed to adjust our days for what works best for our family.
Ella really enjoys insects a lot. She found a dead bumblebee and was asking lots of questions about them & inspecting it.
I scored this awesome poster that really adds to our Living Education Atmosphere.
Typically we just do school on the weekdays, but honestly education never ends & sometimes events are limited to the weekends. This Sunday, we went to the Ukrainian Festival & watched Ukrainian dancing, listened to Ukrainian music, planned on eating (pierogies sold out FAST & only meat options were left), & shopped for some items. I signed up to join the Ukrainian Women’s League of America.
We were supposed to see Shakespeare in the Park this Saturday, but we were rained out. We still had our picnic at the park, checked out the nature center (sad to learn it is still mostly shut down since covid with no plans to re-open at this time, and played on the outdoor playground.
Ella found a cicada which made her very happy. Cicadas are her favorite insect.
We went to the library for Family Storytime. It’s mostly geared toward the three younger kids, but the older kids still enjoy it too. They mostly go for the tech time after crafting & to pick out new books though. I enjoy picking up new cookbooks to try new recipes.
For math one day we made a “Hungry Adding Robot” that Mia picked from a math book we picked out at the library this week. We love our library trips. The kids had a lot of fun picking out projects for us to do over the course of this “term.” We also had a lot of fun making this.
I really love that we are able to do the activities together as a family, but the big girls still have their own individual work to do too.
For science one day we made Nature Journals to collect various nature the girls find. Each “journal” has 4 paper bags to fill with things they find interesting on our nature walks. We can use our Nature Anatomy books to identify new nature we haven’t seen before.
Today we took a field trip to Highfield Discovery Garden. The story in the garden today was Dragons Love Tacos & they got to pick Taco Topping Veggies from the garden. They got tomatoes, peppers, and radishes. They remembered that radishes were mentioned last week in The Tail of Peter Rabbit.
They played on the tree house playground & in the garden, spent time exploring in the nature center, picked a book each in the little library, and put on a puppet show. We also packed a picnic lunch to share in the garden Cafe. Moses really liked watching the trains go around the tree house tracks.
Overall we had a really good week. We completed all our group & individual work we had planned. Time to make dinner & get ready for Ella’s first volleyball game!
I may never be the type of mom that knows how to get stains out of clothes, but I am the kind of mom that throws our stained items in a bin + throws a random “tie dye party” with the kids in the back yard every now & then.
Knowing what to use to get stains out doesn’t make you a better mother. You don’t have to be Pinterest perfect to be a good mom. Life is not one size fits all. Live outside the box & find the solution that works best for you. You are already enough ♡ & so am I.
It is SUCH a cute place! Its like a miniature version of a grown up salon and everyone who knows me, knows how I feel about miniature things 😍.
Seriously though, I couldn’t get over how cute this place is! As soon as you walk in they offer you a drink; water, cold brew, or local craft beer. I can almost never turn down a cold brew 😉.
There is a cute little gift shop with adorable hair accessories and little toys. There’s a hair product section of kid-safe products for sale as well. There’s also a play section with wooden toys in the waiting area to play with.
There is also a room for nails & glitter tattoos which is where the birthday parties are held. The receptionist was telling us about more future plans happening that will make this kids salon EVEN better! I can’t wait to see how that is even possible!
Mia got one braid in the front + purple glitter. Ella got two braids tied behind like a ninja which could not be a more perfect hair style for her + blue glitter.
Mia kept her long hair just trimming off the dead ends, but Ella brought hers closer to her shoulders so that it would be a lot easier for her to maintain without taking too much length. She has very thick hair that locks up really bad. Brushing her hair has always been a traumatic event for both of us, so I am really hopeful that this new style helps. It definitely looks adorable!
This really was such a fun experience and is going to be our haircut home from now on. We have officially become that family that will only go to one place for the rest of our kids lives. Seriously though, it’s that great of a place! We will definitely be back for Mia’s birthday in August for a pamper sesh!
We had our parents (minus my mom ☹️) & Kaden over tonight to celebrate Moses’ birthday. We were supposed to last weekend, but most of our family had a cough and/or runny nose, so we postponed to tonight, but unfortunately my mom tested positive for covid today so she stayed home.
My original plan was supposed to be a grill-out, but since it rained on & off all day, we moved it inside instead so I just threw something small together.
I used our tree stump cake stand from our fall forest wedding for a homemade chocolate cake. I made little “s’mores cups” out of garden seed starter cups & filled a fall mini loaf pan with gummy bears. I grabbed a stuffed squirrel we had & had the kids find me some sticks to place in a vase for decor.
I found these cute little cake toppers on Amazon and just stuck them in cute. My dad commented that it looked better than the ones I get from a bakery which made me sooooo happy to hear & really proud of my hardwork.
We ordered a variety tray of Subway sandwiches since our food menu changed on us. I also put out Pretzel twig sticks, wild berry mix my dad brought, and some babybel cheeses that I drew spots on to look like ladybugs.
I found this cute woodland theme party set on Amazon. They were adorable.
I made the garland finding photos on Pinterest that looked similar to the plates. I printed them out, glued them to construction paper, them laminated them & cut into individual pieces. I used a hole puncher to make holes and tried some yarn through to hang up. It barely took any time at all and looked really cute.
Moses was pretty nervous by the candle. He took a few bites of his piece before throwing it on the floor.
The handsome guest of honor with his super adorable “I’m Ukrainian, what’s your superpower?” Shirt.
It was really small, but it was only his first so realistically he had no idea what that whole shindig was for. It was still cute though and I hope everyone had a nice evening celebrating my Mosie Man.
Niko told me that I am “the best mom in the world” when he came home from work which really meant so much to me. He knows how hard I am on myself about being a mom & always thinking I’m not good enough/not doing enough so that really meant the world to me. I just hope the kids think it, that’s what really matters.
We went with Grandma Colleen to lunch today at Panera (I had a pick 2: Mediterranian Veggie Sandwich + Strawberry Poppyseed Salad without chicken… SO yum! The girls both had mac & cheese + strawberry yogurt) then took Sasha + Athena to get their hairs cut for summer!
We wanted to break the girls up by the big & little so it wouldn’t be as overwhelming for anyone which was a really good idea.
They look so cute & behaved so well today. I was so proud of them!!
Happy Monday!! It started out a sort of overcast morning over here on this day so I’m catching up on housework. I have a sort of “unwritten rule” that dreary/overcast days are for housework and sunny days are for yardwork because I don’t want to miss any time with the sun.
We had a really great Sunday Family Day yesterday. The sun was shining, the kids were playing. We skipped church since the kids have some yucky cold symptoms going on and just hung out at home together.
My gardens have come along so much this week! There’s still tons to be done though! I’d like to get mulch down this week before the crazy amount of weeds return!
I filled my basket planter with these adorable trailing white flowers that will hang down under my Ukrainian flag. I’m really excited to see how far they grow!
I weeded & mulched this small garden bed this week. I used 2 bags and will still need to add at least one more bag here. This space was very low down compared to the grass around it and since it had probably never been mulched before I really want to get a good few layers on so the weeds don’t come back as heavy next year.
We brought our grill back out and bought a few needed grill tools for it.
Niko made hot dogs, vegetarian hot dogs, and the most delicious corn on the cob. I heated up the vegetarian baked beans & brought out watermelon, chips, and potato salad.
I planted this clematis in this planter. I’m so excited for the vines to take on a life of its own on this along the tower’s shapes. It’s going to be so beautiful especially when it has more purple flowers growing up it.
My ranunculus flowers are blooming and they are SO beautiful! One day I will have a much larger container filled with these beauties, but I’m SO happy with my start.
It has been so hot out lately & summer break is coming up so I decided it would be fun to get this inflatable pool for the kids to use this summer. It’s a lot of fun and the kids had a blast playing in it all day long.
Anyone have any tips on how to keep an inflatable pool clean all season? They always seem to get so gross after the first use.
I spoke with my neighbor last night and she gave me the compliment that my back yard is very pleasant to look at. That made me really happy. My hard work is making a difference for not only my own family but for my neighbors as well!!
It is my goal that while we are living in this home in Deer Park, someone nominates us for a Beautification Award. Her compliment made me really hopeful that could actually come true one day! I’ll just have to keep beautifying it for now.
Happy Mothers Day to all the mama’s out there! I hope that today was wonderful for you.
I started Mothers Day weekend off at my parents house. My dad made a French toast, fresh fruit, and potatoes breakfast for my mom & I on Saturday.
After breakfast, my mom & I went to our favorite local flower farmer annual plant sale. I am so happy about my picks. We got them planted today (Sunday) and I cannot wait to see them grow! I swear her flowers just take root so much better than anything I’ve gotten anywhere else around town!
After the plant sale, Niko & I took the kids out to the annual Chili Cook Off & Dessert Auction at church. I REALLY enjoyed the vegetarian chili. My mother in law told me that she would ask the woman who made it for the recipe for me.
The dessert auction was fun. I couldn’t believe how much some of these families paid for these homemade desserts! One cake went for over $1000! It was to raise money for the Youth Mission Trip. (My father in law let us know today that the entire trip is paid in full thanks to the auction!) Next year I really want to enter a dessert or two into the auction. I wonder how much mine would go for?! 🤔
My father in law made & entered a “Strawberry Fields Forever” strawberry shortcake filled with real strawberries 🍓 and topped with a homemade strawberry glaze. He bid on & won that for us all to share. It was SO yummy! My mother in law bid on chocolate chip cookies for us to share. We also ended up bringing home a red velvet & cream cheese frosting cake.
We bought plain white photo frames. I wrote Happy Mothers Day in the center & the girls signed all of their names and colored with Sharpies. After they were finished, we printed out photos of Moses & the girls and put them inside of the frames.
Mia & I had gone to Trader Joe’s the afternoon beforehand to buy several bouquets of flower arrangements. I took the arrangements apart and I laid all of the flowers on the table for the girls to make new bouquets for the Babas (Ukrainian word for grandma 👵🏼) except for the roses (since they had thorns) which I split 3 ways evenly.
They ended up turning out really cute! I thought this was a super fun way for the girls to be involved. I loved doing this with Mia at Findlay Market last year and really wanted to be able to make it possible for all of the girls to create real bouquets together to gift to their Babas for Mothers Day and thought this would be the easiest and less stressful way to accomplish that.
We assembled all of our gifts together and packed them up for each Baba.
I wish I would have gotten a picture of all of the completed bouquets. They were really pretty. Both my mom & Ali were really impressed with the girls work. I really hope that we made them feel special today.
Mia & Ella each made me a few things. Mia made me a cupcake 🧁 at The Mad Potter & a really cute card. Ella made me a mushroom 🍄 at The Mad Potter, a clay bowl in art class, a bouquet of paper flowers each listing different reasons why she loves me, & a box of “coupons” for me to cash in for various things like hugs, a walk around the block, or helping me out around the house.
We went to church, then out to lunch with my husband’s parents, sister, & her two children: Noah & Milana.
The cousin crew! Ella, Sasha & Moses, Athena, Mia & Milana, Noah. I can’t believe how big they are all getting.
One of my favorite gifts I received (from Kaden) was my Ukrainian mosaic butterfly 🦋 to add to my garden.
Of course I have my Ukrainian flag flying proudly. Then I added the sunflowers for the bad-ass Ukrainian woman who was giving out sunflower seeds to the occupiers so when they die sunflowers will grow. I moved the blue & yellow flower over to this space to go along with the Ukrainian tribute to my people.
I love love love the way that it looks! The butterfly really pulls it together. I got my new plants into the ground and I can’t wait to watch them grow through the season.
Well, after this busy weekend, I’m so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open to finish writing this so I’m going to call it a night. 5 am will be here in the blink of an eye.
As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to an end I just wanted to share with you our small DIY gifts the girls made for their teachers.
Ella made a clipboard for her teacher, Mr. Vample. Mia made a clipboard for her teacher Mrs. Mcgahan.
They also made a clipboard for our “bus mom,” Mrs. Mace, because she is just the sweetest and has helped our girls (and many other kiddos) get safely to & from the bus stop each day which we certainly appreciate.
We bought each clipboard at the Dollar Tree for $1.25 each, and the rest of the materials we had at home already.
Getting teacher gifts doesn’t have to be pricey. It doesn’t have to out-do any of the other parents. You don’t have to break your budget. It isn’t a competition to be the “favorite” student, or parent. Your kid can color on a rock, or put nature together to form a portrait of their teacher. They can color a card. Kids are so creative- the possibilities are endless if you let them take the lead.
Your child just showing their teacher they care and appreciate them enough to take the time out of their busy play to make them a small gift is ENOUGH. Gifts are meant to be from the heart & that’s exactly where a homemade gift comes from ❤.
Ella came home from school last Friday with a new school project: Economics Market.
All of her classmates will be opening their own “shops” at their desk where they will be selling a paper item that they make. They will be decorating the shops, telling a bit of information about the shop/what is being sold. Ella will be selling Pysanky, otherwise known as Ukrainian Easter Eggs.
Ella is Ukrainian- we all are. Her grandfather, my dad, is a Ukrainian immigrant. Needless to say, even though we are living in America, I feel the deepest connection to this war currently happening in Ukraine.
I’ve always been extremely proud to be Ukrainian, but the amount of pride and gratitude I have for my heritage now is immeasurable. I grew up being taught that Ukrainians are strong people; the strongest in the world. I had no idea that I would ever have to witness the magnitude of their strength in my lifetime.
I know that we are very lucky to be living in America, yet I feel the strongest yearning to be there. If my dad never came to America, this war would be our lives right now and that is a scary thought. Yet I still for some reason feel as if that is where I belong.
That isn’t possible at this time, however, so for now I’ll just continue to embrace the culture at home with my family, even more so now. We’ll become fluent in the language and carry the traditions. One day, when it is safe for my small children, we will travel there. Today, we will make pysanky.
Pysanky is the word for Ukrainian Easter Eggs. Pysanky are believed to hold great power for peace & love in the world. They were originally used in Spring ceremonies to thank the glorious sun for warming the Earth after the cold, hard Winter.
The designs and symbols that are decorated on pysanky have significant meanings- usually a wish of good fortune for the person you are gifting your pysanky to. On Easter Sunday, you would gift your pysanky and kiss the recipient on each cheek for good luck.
There is an old Ukrainian folk tale that Evil (a vicious monster) is chained to a cliff. Each year his helpers go around the world and report back to him the number of pysanky that have been decorated.
If only a few eggs are made, his chains loosen and evil flows throughout the world. However if many eggs are made, his chains tighten; allowing love to conquer evil.
With all of the evil going on in the world, we are going to need a LOT of eggs.
Setting Up Shop
First, we found pysanky coloring pages on Pinterest then printed them out. Ella colored each egg and then wrote a wish for each egg on the back of them.
Next, we colored the pages for her shop and we cut them out and assembled them.
“At Ella’s Ukrainian Eggs, you can find Ukrainian Easter Eggs which are believed to hold great power for love in the world. Each egg has a special wish for you. Ella made these to support her Grandpa from Ukraine.”
“If you love ❤️ Ukraine, you should get one of these Ukrainian Easter Eggs. Plus they’re great for Easter and it is to be believed that these Eggs hold great power for love ❤ in the world 🌍.”
Her shop turned out SO cute! I’m very excited to hear how her project and “shopping” day goes. I am also excited to hear what the other children made for their shops. I really loved doing this project together with Ella. I loved that we were able to incorporate our heritage and culture to make it more meaningful to share with her friends at school.
My dad’s birthday coincided with Easter this year (the day after) so we went over to my parents home to celebrate both Easter and his birthday with an Easter Feast from the Wodka Bar. They offered a special, limited Easter menu which was perfect.
The pierogies & kolachi were SOOO yummy! I cannot wait to try more food from there from the regular menu! I also am going to learn how to make delicious kolachi at home so I can eat it alllll the time!
Mia also made a pysanky for each of us. I loved mine so much!
Overall, this was a lovely Easter weekend and my heart feels very full & blessed. We got to spend time with both sides of our family. We did an Easter egg hunt for the kids and they received nice spring time gifts. We had lovely food that I didn’t have to prepare or clean up. We truly are so blessed in this life on Earth.
I began my basement project a few years ago before I became pregnant with Athena. I had big plans in mind, but a seriously rough pregnancy left me to abandon this project until a later time, then another pregnancy + baby pushed it back even longer. The time has finally come to finish what I started!
Since this is such a BIG project, I am going to be splitting this up into 2 parts: 1. The kids area, this post, & 2. The “adult” area (laundry, entertainment/electronics area, & tool/cellar).
In the Imaginative Play area we have a grocery store/deli, doctor/wellness center, a mini roll top desk to play school, as well as the kids toy storage.
There is a chalkboard wall with a bulletin board on top for both school & “daily specials” at the deli.
This little stand is so cute and can be used for many Imaginative Play purposes. It is currently being used as a deli + coffee shop. They have their Melissa & Doug Sandwich Shop + their wooden utensils on top, and their Melissa & Doug coffee maker set on bottom.
I am a huge lover & collector of reusable bags. I buy new ones constantly! Having miniature size ones for the grocery shop makes my heart SO happy!
Their little roll top desk with the miniature globe is SO cute. They love to play school with it.
Under the stairs is their “parking garage” for rideable things like scooters and ride-on cars. I do plan to change this space in the near future though.
Having so many little kids, it has been really nice to be able to have a space for them to play and be kids and not worry about them making messes. That alone has helped me SO much as an overly-stimulated and stressed out Mama. Kids need to be kids, and this is their home too. They need a place they are able to express themselves freely and I hope that this space is able to be that place for them.
The first time I went to rehab, I went to Timberline Knolls in Lemont, Illinois. It had the most beautiful art studio with tables stained in paint and clay residue, colors and Empowering messages everywhere, and so many supplies.
Ever since then it has been a dream of mine to have my own art studio, but never really saw it as super realistic.
I recently spoke with a friend, who, ironically, I met at Timberline Knolls. I’ve always envied her life. She’s built her own little plot of homestead paradise in the middle of no where and spends her time homesteading and crafting and doing things her, her husband, and children love to do. That is literally my dream life.
Anyway, she made me realize that life is what you make it. I need to stop waiting for better, for more space, for my children to get a little bigger. I need to stop waiting, and start building my happy place now with what I have. So I began building an “art studio.”
First, I set our old dining room table up in the soon to be art studio, then added this Trofast Storage Unit from IKEA for art supply storage. I used this rolling cart that I already had to organize more supplies like paintbrushes, glue, washi tapes, etc.
I added this paper sorter from Michael’s to color code their construction paper. Not only does color-coding items look beautiful, it helps cut down on mess because the kids can visibly see what they are working with instead of fumbling around for what they need.
I repurposed produce bins to color code their crayons in the middle of the table. It looks super cute and it helps teach my kiddos to put their supplies back where they belong.
Color coding is an easy way to help teach toddlers how to organize + learn their colors at the same time.
I began hanging these colorful banners to make it look fun and inspire creativity.
I also began picking up a few functional decor pieces that I was very excited to use in this space.
Next, we removed the old, random, oddly-placed cabinet. We found out why said cabinet was randomly & oddly placed. There was a MASSIVE crack/wall damage hiding behind it. We got cement filler, patched the damage and waited 24 hours.
After the 24 hour wait, we began hanging the pegboard. I had purchased + planned to hang 4, but I ended up deciding 3 was plenty to start. I bought a few accessories with the pegboard, but wanted to wait to go crazy with accessory shopping until I had a clear idea of how I was planning to arrange it to go back and purchase more.
My dad & his friend updated the electricity + added lights above the table & outlets in the middle to be able to use electronic tools. I cannot wait to add things like pottery wheels in the future now that I have this outlet.
Using my Cricut, I added labels to the bins so that we are easily able to find the items that we need.
We moved the desk over here so they could play “Art Teacher.”
I am absolutely obsessed with it and the way that it turned out. I now have my very own art studio, filled with colors and paint stains and all kinds of materials for us to choose from. I am so in love with it and still in such awe every time I walk downstairs and think how is this mine?!
Baby + Soft Play Area
It’s a lot of work to try to keep babies & toddlers entertained for a long time, especially on days we are stuck inside.
This fun little climber tent was a birthday gift to Sasha. One side has a climbing wall, the other has a window.
The Nugget was a MUST for this area. We are OBSESSED with our Nugget. I got The Very Hungry Caterpiller print because it’s one of our favorite books & the print was just beautiful. It is SO soft and comfy too!
I have a lot of Primary colors in the baby area. I added lots of cushions, padding, & floor mats to encourage crawling + be able to roll around freely. The Lego storage blocks hold other toys so that we are able to rotate the toys that are out for open play.
We added a little library against this wall with the baby/younger children’s books.
I added these fun flower lights above this area. It’s somehow both a fun vibe and a calming one in one.
Well, that’s where I’m at in this stage of my basement makeover! I hope you got some inspiration for your own basement/family/play room.
I still have many plans to come in the future and just like with every space, it is forever evolving. Make sure to check back for part two to see how I did the “adult” areas!