Style & Home | Making a Cat Look Easy

I know you never thought you'd see me blogging about a litter box, but y'all... this is a blog-worthy litter box.  Just hang with me. ;) 

You all know that I have four kids.  Four.  Enough to keep me busy. So, when this little kitty purred her way into my heart and circumstances forced us to make her an inside cat, I had think about what having an inside cat meant for my workload.  I know it sounds silly, but when I'm schooling kids, cleaning a home, cooking, wiping bottoms, laundry (mountains of laundry), and trying to run an at-home business I need to make sure that I don't add anything that requires too much of me.  

The part I was most concerned about was the litter box process.  I have a toddler.  I don't want to clean up a litter box, too.  When I say this litter box revolutionizes having an inside cat- I totally mean it.  The Litter*Robot is an amazing litter box that cleans itself.  Seriously... you set the timer and it spins and dumps the dirty litter in the filtered drawer below.  If your cat is 5 lbs, the Litter*Robot will sense the cat and empty the litter box once the cat leaves the Open Air.  That means that your house doesn't smell, you don't have to clean a box every day, AND your cat isn't walking in a dirty box and then trotting across the floor that your toddler eats off of.  Ahhhh!!!!

Another thing I was concerned about was having a litter box where it could be seen.  The Litter*Robot tucks away in the corner and the litter is covered, so it isn't such an eye sore.  I am one happy cat-mama and Brownie is one happy cat.  

We have the Open Air Litter*Robot and it has all of the features one could want.  If you have a cat and want a "hands free" approach to keeping your cat happy, I'd highly suggest checking it out.  Use this link to grab $25 off of your own Litter*Robot.  Let me know if you snag one!!!  I'd love to know what you think of it (I am sure you will love it, though). :)

Style & Home | Shop Small this Christmas

I love Target as much as the next person.  Seriously, I can't go in that store without coming out with an entire house worth of goodies.  With that said, when it comes to gifts and filling my home, I find that shopping small is always the best policy.  It's a simple way to help another family out and get gifts that are made with exceptional attention to detail.  I love handmade shops so, so much and I decided to carry on my tradition of sharing a few of my favorites from this past year to help inspire you with your Christmas shopping.

Mel and her father-in-law create amazing and beautiful pieces together in their spare time.  Mel is the mama to 3 little ones that she homeschools.  I love anything with natural elements and W+B's products are so creative and well made.  If you have a hostess or kitchen dweller in your inner circle, these products will be loved and cherished.

Ruby, and sweet teen, runs her etsy shop and offers all kinds of macrame goodness.  I have several of her macrame planters and they are THE. BEST.  I have bought other holders and they do not compare.  She also creates wall hangings and necklaces with her macrame skills. 

Krista is a maker-mama who spends hours perfecting her wooden art.  When I first saw her pieces, I instantly fell in love and wanted a piece in my own home.  Actually, I want a piece in every room in my home.  She has goods of all sizes and I love that they are a minimalist, yet beautiful focal point in a room.

It's true, I love the southwestern flare that animal prints can add to a home.  My home is bright and white and I was needing the perfect pieces to warm it up a bit.  When I commissioned Rachel Ottmann about creating a few pieces for me, I was blown away by the result.  Pictures do not do her prints justice- at all.  She is a mama who does photography on the side and you will love her cattle and horse prints. 

This roundup wouldn't be complete without some Vol25 art.  I have almost wallpapered my home in Jessica's art.  It is beautiful and creative and I love the splash of texture her prints add to our home.  I first saw the Vol25 art last fall and quickly put two hangings on my Christmas list with exclamation points following them because I wanted them so badly.  Luckily, they were under the tree and my obsession has only grown for this handmade shop.  Check her out and let me know what you grab from her shop!

My babes hang out in their jammies far too often.  Here's why... jammies are comfy and cozy.  When I saw Mallory's rompers, I knew Julia needed to have one for Christmas.  r/r has tons of soft, cozy jammies, dresses, leggings, and rompers for little of all ages.  Make sure you dress your kiddos in r/r style this winter. 

I hope you enjoyed this handmade round-up.  I know I'm pretty quiet on here, but if you like knowing what shops/products I'm loving, let me know and I will do more of these posts.  :)  If there's something else you are wanting me to feature in a post, comment and I will do my best to blog it for you. Happy Thanksgiving!!

Homeschool | Creative Messes

Sometimes, every class needs to break from the usual grind and have some fun.  We have a pretty steady schedule here at home and today I felt like our hearts all needed a bit of creativity thrown in.  We made homemade slime, which is different from the slime I played with as a kid.  This slime was a solid when it was on the counter and when we held it, it ran through our hands like water.  We were constantly amazed at how it felt so solid when we squeezed it and then it dripped like a liquid onto the counter.  

It was so easy to make (1 part water to 1 part corn starch) and you should try it with your kids.  Mine were enthralled with it for at least 40 minutes.  That means that the mess was totally worth making if it kept them occupied for that long. :)

Let me know if you try this, or if you have a different recipe that I need to try.

Homemade Slime Recipe:

1 cup water
1 cup corn starch

Mix with hands until combined.  Play and have fun!

Home | Framebridge

I have a white house.  It is bright and airy and I love waking up in this space so much.  With the cooler temperatures coming and all of the lovely fall season happenings, I wanted some art to warm up the walls a tad.  I see wall collages and love them.  I gather supplies to create one for myself and it looks like a kid threw it together.  I am much better off having one or two large statement pieces and leaving it at that.  

I commissioned a talented photographer friend to snap some livestock photos for me.  When she sent me the shots, my jaw dropped.  They are so beautiful and fit my home to a T.  The only trouble... I couldn't have beautiful prints and put them in yucky frames.  I also didn't want to drive to a store with four kiddos and pick out frames, so Framebridge came to my rescue.  I sent them some shots of my home and the photos and they helped a sister out.  

The Framebridge process was so simple and quick.  You can shoot them your digital file and they will print, frame, and ship your art.  I had my prints, so they sent me a photo tube (with paid shipping) to place my prints in.  I shipped them off and waited (im)patiently for my art to arrive.  It was so easy and the frames compliment my prints so well.  I am smitten- truly.  

If you are in love with the horses... there's so much more for you to choose from.  Rachel Ottmann Photography has cattle, too.  If you are in the market for frames and want an easy fix for your prints, check out Framebridge.  You can get some inspiration from their blog if you need to see it before you buy it.  

They are offering 15% off of your first frame order by using THEQUICKJOURNEY15.

This post is sponsored by Framebridge, but ALL opinions are my own.  

Family | Photos 2016

I have been wanting to get some family photos taken for awhile now and was so hesitant because we have 4 young kiddos and I didn't want to spend money just for my kids to not cooperate.  Luckily, they did fabulous and I am so happy we invested in them.  I am a "take your own pics" kind of gal, but every once in awhile, I break down and have a professional take them. 

I love the crispness of these pictures and the sweet expressions that Sarah captured for me.  I threw outfits together the day before and everything was set around Julia's smocked dress.  It was mine from when I was a baby and my Nene made it for me.  I have, pretty much, had her wear it every week since my mom gave it to me. :)  I was going for neutrals with some subtle color thrown in.  The blue hue was the color that I chose.  My home is filled with neutrals, so I knew I couldn't put pictures with a bunch of bright, random colors on the wall and have it look pleasing to the eye.

Mark and I look at these pictures, and it's the first time that we can say our family is complete.  There isn't question about whether, or not, we will be adding to the family down the road.  This is just "us." They will grow and Mark and I will wrinkle up, but we are all here.  There's something sweet about that thought. 

Homeschool + Motherhood | Questions Answered

I get asked a lot of questions about motherhood and homeschooling (mostly on Instagram).  I'm not going to pretend that I know it all, because I have so much to learn, but I have had some amazing women mentor me through this journey and I hope to be an encouragement to you all.  I told everyone to ask me questions and I would answer them here, so these are all of the requests from Instagram.  If you have any wisdom on any of these areas, please comment below. :)

Questions on Motherhood:

Q: I have to know how you keep your house so clean every day!!!
A:  Well, that's a pretty easy answer- less toys!  Each kiddo has a small basket of toys in their room and then we have a few baskets of toys in our basement beside the kiddo's play kitchen.  I try to make cleaning up quick and easy for them, and the basket system works.  I used to have a "correct basket" for each toy and I soon realized that it was too time consuming (and pointless) to have toys go in certain baskets.  When it's clean up time, they throw everything in a basket and it's "out of sight, out of mind!"

Q:  What do you do that is life-giving for you and helps you recharge?
A:  For motherhood, I focus on what I want it to be like.  What do I think glorifies God?  Does having a bad attitude that views my kids as a burden glorify Him?  No, I don't think it does.  I have to refocus my mind, often.  My favorite "hobby" for myself is sitting down with my coffee and looking through instagram (so sad, huh???).  For homeschooling, I love reading the Wild & Free online magazine.  It gives me ideas and helps me to focus on the quality of their learning. 

Q:  What is your daily rhythm like?
A:  I get up by 6 and read my Bible (sometimes earlier, if I can) + drink my coffee.  It is a quiet time and allows me to be ready to serve my kids.  The kids come out of their rooms around 7 and we eat breakfast as we listen to soft music on pandora and diffuse oils.  My kids leave the breakfast table and tidy their beds, brush their teeth, and get dressed.  There is normally some time for play before school starts and, if at all possible, I send them outside. Once 8:30 hits, we are sitting and reading our book + the Bible... leading into a more structured school time.

Q: How do you discipline for complete obedience?
A: Uh... well, it all depends on the child, yes?  One thing that I am consistent with is routine and rules.  We have a pretty set routine, which keeps irritability at bay.  I also don't give 1-2-3 warnings.  I redirect once (ex. "What is our rule about jumping on the couch?") and if there isn't immediate obedience, we move to the next step- consequence.  Even with consistency, there's still sinful natures and nothing works perfectly, but that's what I do.

Q:When do you do quiet time?
A: Quiet time happens after lunch.  The younger two nap and the older two read and play quietly in their own spaces.  This is a non-negotiable time for us.  Again, it takes training and practice for this to happen.  :)

Questions regarding Homeschooling:

Q: How do you juggle different ages and keep them from being bored?
A: They are bored sometimes.  They just are.  I have noticed that if I allow them to be bored, it usually segues into lots of creativity.  Through my boredom, I birthed this blog and my instagram feed.  My love for lifestyle photography came about.  I have noticed the same with my kiddos.  As far as juggling the ages, I'm still working on that.  With school, I start from the child who needs the most assitance (youngest) and work my way up.  Ella (8) can do about 1 hour of work completely independently.  This allows me to help Guinnyth (4) and then Liam (6) and by then, I'm ready for Ella. 

Q: What are some supplemental tips for a toddler in part time daycare school?
A: Cooking.  Let your child help you in the kitchen.  Work on motor skills- scooping, dumping, opening lids, cracking eggs, etc.  Educate yourself on nature and then take your toddler outside and talk to him/her about it.  They soak up so much and we want to create a love for learning, not stifle it.

Q: How do you keep going when they are flat out naughty?
A:  I have found that doing a 1 week "behavior bootcamp" before beginning the year helps a lot!  It gets them in the routine and allows me to deal with discipline issues prior to the learning season.  Again, you must be consistent and it is exhausting, but it will pay off.  When they are naughty, despite my attempts at directing them, we take time in our own rooms and refocus with quiet time.  That rarely happens, but I feel that being with one another is a privilege and they should treat it as such.

Q: How do you keep the littles entertained?
A:  I get this a lot and I have touched on it a few times.  We have a coat closet that we turned into a school closet.  It houses all of our games/manipulatives and that keeps them occupied.  They also play in their rooms and I allow them 30 minutes of TV during school time.  They have their own routine, as well, so that helps.  It's also important to be realistic and know that you will be holding a little one during part of your school day.  School isn't a "leave me alone, I'm teaching your older siblings" kind of situation.  It takes discipline for you as well as them. :)

I hope that helped.  There were more questions, but I tried to focus on those asked the most often.  :)  You can always follow along via instagram @thequickjourney.

Homeschool | Preparing for School


We spent the morning playing outside before it got brutally hot and now the kids are watching Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood while I scurry to get this post written. We have had a speedy summer and I am not quite sure where it has gone.  We completed the Declaration! eCourse and are still plugging through our bird unit using Thornton Burgess's Bird Book.  

I wanted to update you, in case you were thinking about including a study like either of those in your fall schedule.  I will give you a lineup of our fall curriculum later this month.  First, I wanted to share my thoughts on the studies we did this summer.  

The Declaration! course was great for us this summer.  Ella could grasp bits and pieces and enjoyed learning about our government.  There were a few topics that were a bit difficult for her, not because the course was lacking, but rather because the content was a bit abstract.  I printed off a student book for her and a teacher's book for me.  Both were provided with the course, so all I did was print and put in a 3-ring binder.  It required very little on my part as far as prep and we would spend about 30-40 minutes on the class/day.

The bird unit... well, I realized early on that we wouldn't get through all of the birds.  The book keeps the study interesting, but I did have to choose a select number of birds to make sure we could complete a narration journal on all of them.  I printed off black and white photos of each of the birds I chose to study and after we read about the bird Ella would paint the bird according to the description given in the book.  Then, she would write down the facts that were talked about to learn how to brainstorm for a writing project.  The last task for her was to take the facts and put them into sentence form and write them in an appropriate sequence to make sure her reader would understand the information given.  

A little tip with the bird book... when reading, give the different characters their own voice and personality.  When I was chatting with a friend, she said that helped keep her kiddos' attention, and it did for us, as well.  I usually do this when reading, but I was a bit exaggerated for this book so that the qualities of the birds could be easily remembered.