A Tribute to Homeschool Fathers

Father’s Day is a special occasion for honoring fathers. All fathers are worthy of respect and appreciation for the things they do for their family, but I wanted to narrow my focus to the homeschool father. Homeschooling isn’t a popular choice to make or an easy road to navigate, and although it’s a blessing, it can put additional strain on a marriage. The role of homeschool father presents some unique challenges and responsibilities. I’d like to list some of them, as well as pass on a little advice from veteran homeschool fathers to those who are just beginning the journey. It takes a special man to be a homeschool father.

With permission, I’ve quoted some men who were influential in our household.  Also, I asked some veteran fathers for their input and it’s given anonymously.

This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I may earn a small commission if you use one to make a purchase. It doesn’t affect the price you pay. 

Spiritual Head

The most important role within a Christian family is that of the spiritual head of the household. In this capacity, the father concerns himself with his family members’ relationship with God, and models in human form the Heavenly Father who can’t be seen. In order to do this he must have a good connection with God and an unwavering commitment to his wife and children.

About this responsibility, Christopher Klicka wrote,

“I could simply delegate all the tasks of training my children to my wife. Some homeschool fathers do. But such an arrangement is a recipe for failure. We fathers need to be seriously committed and involved in our homeschooling to truly fulfill our responsibility before God, adequately demonstrate love to our children, and unconditionally love our wife.

In Ephesians 6:4, God makes it clear. “Fathers provoke not your children to wrath, but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The command is to us fathers – not to mothers. The responsibility is on us “to bring them up.” This requires action on our part. We can delegate the authority to train and bring up our children to someone else but never the responsibility.

One day when we stand before God, we fathers will have to answer for how our children were trained. Homeschooling happens to be the best way to fulfill this responsibility and the commands that God has given us. But we must realize that homeschooling is not the end in itself – it is a means to the end. The end we are aiming for is that our children will be “arrows” carrying God’s truth to this world and one day living with us in heaven.” (“Top Ten Tips for Homeschool Dads,” Christopher Klicka, originally published in Practical Homeschooling #48, July/Aug 2002, ©Home Life Inc., all rights reserved by Home Life Inc., used by permission)

Dr. James Dobson wrote this hard-hitting fact:

“A Child identifies his parents with God in the early days, whether the adults want the role or not. Specifically, most children see God the way they perceive their earthly fathers.” (Dr. James Dobson, The New Strong-Willed Child, p. 66, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., 1978, used by permission)

Devoted Husband

The foundation of the family (and homeschool) is the marriage, so nurturing that relationship is very important. The way the father treats his wife affects the way the children see their mother, which in turn, affects the success of the homeschool. About this role, J. Michael Smith of HSLDA said,

“The role of a homeschool dad should be the best husband to his wife, and father to his children as he can be. That will go farther than anything he can do to help his wife in homeschooling. Make the marriage a priority and love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her. That’s the goal. Part of loving a homeschool wife is helping and homeschooling by at least being the Principal of the whole school.”

Dr. James Dobson emphasized the importance of how Dad treats Mom, and how it influences the way the children see her:

“The best public-relations agent for Mom—is Dad. Fathers can wield tremendous influence over what children think of their mothers, or of women in general…

In a world that often discounts the contribution of women, especially homemakers, it’s up to us as husbands to say in a dozen ways, ‘Your mother is a wonderful woman! She works hard and she deserves tremendous credit for what she gives to us all. As far as I’m concerned, she’s number one!’

Kids will quickly recognize the respect shown by a father and reflect it in their attitudes and behavior. It is a public-relations assignment that only they can perform.”  (“Dads–Kids Will Treat Mom Based On Your Actions,” Dr. James Dobson, originally published in The Complete Marriage and Family Home Reference Guide, used by permission.)

Protector

In my post, “Homeschooling as a Ministry,” I wrote about the need for a homeschool mom to protect her time and energy. When it’s known that she’s a stay-at-home mother, she may be asked to help with other projects and ministries. It can be really hard to say “no,” especially for people-pleasers. The homeschool father can help his wife determine which, if any, of them she should commit to, and be willing to be the bad guy when she must refrain. One father said, “My wife has permission to blame me when needing to decline uncomfortable requests and invitations. ‘My husband won’t allow that.’ This answer removes the need to justify, explain, or give reasons for the decision. Further discussion can simply be referred to me. Even most persistent folks who will badger my wife won’t usually badger me, and I don’t often give more than a ‘because I said so’ to pushy people.”

At times, it may be necessary to protect your family from well-meaning family, friends and neighbors. They may ask questions about the homeschool, they may make a report to the authorities, they may even threaten to fight for custody of the children. As the head of the family, the homeschool father needs to set firm boundaries for the protection of his family. He should be the one to determine what information he wants to give to those parties.

I regret to say it, but time and time again, in Facebook groups, I read posts about in-laws making inquiries and negative comments to the homeschool mother. Especially in these cases, the homeschool father should tell his parents to direct their concerns to him. When the children’s mother is left to handle it, it puts her in the awkward position of potentially offending her in-laws and causing problems in her marriage. If the husband sets that boundary then he will protect the relationship with his wife. It can be hard to set boundaries for one’s parents, but Ephesians 5:31 says, ““For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” For the protection of the marriage, a boundary should be set.

Supporter

Unfortunately, not all homeschooling parents have good support systems. When there are naysayers it can add yet more stress. Even if you’re part of homeschool support groups, there can still be times of feeling alone. It’s hard to be counter-culture and it can really be draining. The homeschooling father can be strong when mom can’t. Lending a listening ear and a shoulder to cry on will go a long way in helping to recharge her batteries.

In addition to emotional support, Dad provides shelter, transportation, and resources for the homeschool. It would be hard to do without those things.

Principal

The role of Principal may include working with mom to set goals and choose curriculum. He may also help with the teaching. But discipline is the biggest responsibility because if mom doesn’t have respect and obedience from her students, she is not going to be able to teach. She’ll get burned out and want to quit.

In my early homeschooling years I read something that stuck with me. I don’t remember where I read it, or I would give them credit, but in talking about the father, he said that the father should support the mother (in disciplining) in such a way, that when the kids look at their mother, they see the shadow of their father behind her. I loved that illustration, and have never forgotten it.

When our son entered the teens, I started to have a hard time teaching him. We spent a lot of time arguing, and now I couldn’t even tell you what about. My husband was self-employed so he was home a lot, but his office was in our storm shelter/basement. One day my son and I started arguing and my husband could hear us down in the basement. All of a sudden, my husband appeared and took over handling the problem. I was always so grateful to know that I had his support and that if I had problems with the kids that he would step in and take over. Without that help, I wouldn’t have been able to finish homeschooling.

I realize that not all families have that luxury. Some fathers work or travel a lot, and can’t always be there. In those situations, he’ll need to come up with a plan for when he is home. It’s up to each couple to determine how they will discipline their children, but the buck needs to stop with Dad. Whatever consequences are set out, the children need to know without a doubt, that they will be followed through on. For Christian parenting advice, my favorite source is Dr. James Dobson.

Our Homeschool

We homeschooled for fourteen years, so I asked my husband, Scott, for his perspective. He said, “I saw my role mainly as support and encouragement, and occasionally as the Principal. I facilitated homeschooling by providing the home and resources. I didn’t feel like I needed to be involved in planning because I felt that you were doing a good job, that the kids were ahead of the curve. I acted as an encourager by helping you to look at the big picture when you got discouraged. The verse, “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?” kept coming to my mind as the core reason of why we homeschooled. I wasn’t worried about whether they went to college – I felt that if they were grounded spiritually that it would all be okay. Conversely, if they had a stellar secular education but were ungrounded spiritually, what value would that be?

Scott and I did a lot of talking and praying together over the years to chart the course for our homeschool. Keeping our focus on God provided the direction. Knowing how Scott felt about things helped me to make the day-to-day decisions.  God, through Scott, provided everything I needed to educate our kids. Both of them graduated from our homeschool, and now, together, we watch our kids enter adulthood and thank God for giving them to us, and for the blessing of homeschooling.

Advice From Veteran Homeschool Fathers

I asked a few veteran homeschool fathers, including my husband, what advice they would give to men who are new in that role.

One father who responded had the roles reversed in his family in that both he and his wife worked outside the home, but since his job offered more flexibility, he took on the responsibility of homeschooling their daughter. He said, “BE INVOLVED. I can’t stress this enough. My wife regrets not being more involved, because she sees how much homeschooling affected my daughter’s relationship with me. She sees that we have a deeper relationship because I spent most of the time homeschooling her. My wife says that if she could go back and do it over again, she would find ways to be a part of the day-to-day homeschooling.”

A Homeschool Principal of 25 years advises, “Pray, take an active interest in your children’s education, join a home school support group, respect your wife and her efforts, and make sure the children do, too.”

My husband, Scott, says, “Be a strong encourager. Don’t let all the weight be on your wife’s shoulders. Cherish the freedom and embrace it, rather than the workload. People don’t understand the freedom of homeschooling. There is work, but also great freedom. God gave your children to you, not to the city, state, or federal government.”

Thank You!

As you can see, a lot of responsibility has been put on the shoulders of homeschool fathers, and they are so important! To homeschool fathers everywhere, happy Father’s Day and thank you for everything you do!

Helpful Links

Homeschooling as a Ministry

Homeschool Heroes ~ An Interview with J. Michael Smith of HSLDA

Top Ten Tips for Homeschool Dads by Christopher Klicka

Spiritual Leadership in the Home by Dr. James Dobson

“9 Easy Steps to Homeschooling” – My ebook that helps you get started homeschooling without the stress. See link in sidebar.

A Tribute to Homeschool Fathers

The Rabbit Mystery

My daughter came in the front door, calling, “Mom! Come here! Hurry!” I might’ve panicked, but the tone of her voice hinted at something pleasant. Again, she urged, “hurry!” As I came downstairs, “I said, ‘It’s not something that’s going to get loose in the house, is it?” She and her cousin giggled.

What greeted me were the big eyes and long ears of a huge brown rabbit! She and her cousin, Sydney, had just returned from going to a movie, and as they neared home they saw a rabbit in our country road. They stopped the car and got out and together were easily able to catch the huge rabbit.

Margaret and Sydney with the rabbit they’d just caught.
Wild or Pet?

They immediately started debating whether it was wild, or a dumped pet. It looked just like a wild cottontail. In fact, it looked very much like the stock photo I used on my Favorite Blog Hops page. But it was easy to catch and very plump, making them wonder if it could have been a dumped pet.

Divine Providence?

The funny thing was the timing. Just the night before, Margaret and I had been sitting on our front porch enjoying the sunset, and were reminiscing. About ten years earlier when we first moved to our homestead we had brought two large New Zealand rabbits. During that first year or so, she raised several litters of baby rabbits. One of my favorite memories was when we brought them into the house to doctor their eyes and we had little rabbits jumping all over us. Margaret said she’d like to have a pet rabbit again. I admitted that even I had thought about having a pet rabbit. So now as she said she wanted to keep this one, it was hard to look at those big brown eyes and say no. It seemed possible that God agreed that she needed a rabbit.

Settling In

It was about 10 o’clock at night and I didn’t mind her keeping it, but we had to find some basic supplies. We found a large plastic tub to contain him for the night, and some stainless steel pet bowls to put some food and water in.

When I awoke the next morning, Margaret was already up with the rabbit that she had named “Wiggles.” She was feeding Wiggles some cantaloupe in the den, and apologized if she had woken me up. She said Wiggles had woken her up early by thumping on the tub with his back feet.

Wiggles

Together we looked in our garage for supplies for a temporary litter box. I think most homesteads are like ours in that we accumulate a lot of stuff, stuff that comes in handy at times like these. We found a shallow cardboard box and some cat litter. We even still had the halter that she used with Lucy and Peter, her rabbits ten years ago.

Wiggles seems to be relaxing and making himself at home. He’s hopping around and enjoying the breakfast salad that Margaret made of clover, weeds, and cantaloupe.

Wiggles Eating Breakfast

Margaret looked up domestic rabbit breeds and found one called “San Juan” that looked exactly like this one. It said they were docile and made good pets, and also that they were bred to look like cottontails. She grimaced as she read that they were a popular choice for training hunting dogs, but then laughed at the thought that someone might have been using it for that purpose and she had rescued it.

Wiggles in Margaret’s Lap

We still haven’t solved the mystery, and haven’t tried to determine its gender yet, so for now it’s a “he.” There may possibly be a follow up post later on. As Margaret said, “Of all the things we’ve found in the road, this one is the most mysterious.”

The Rabbit Mystery

 

Garden Tour ~ My Mother’s Garden

I inherited my love of gardening (and porches) from my mother. I recently visited my parents at their home near Livingston, Texas, and my mother’s garden was in full-bloom. I thought you might enjoy a tour, seeing some new plants, and learning a few stories behind her decorations.

This bed at the entrance to their home contains Four O’ Clocks, Salvia, and Spider Wort.
Mama’s Style

My mother describes her garden style as “Southern Victorian Cottage.” She likes cottage gardening because she can buy anything she wants that fits into her garden’s zone 8b climate. Also, any gift or donation fits in, regardless of color or size.

My parents’ home is yellow and white, so my mom repeated those colors in her garden, especially with Shasta Daisies that appear throughout their large yard. Mature trees provide a lot of dappled shade throughout the day.

Shasta Daisies with a large yellow daylily.

When people comment, “It looks like a lot of work,” Mom replies, “not if you love gardening. It’s a challenge, and you share yourself and meet people through it.” She never thought she’d have such an extensive garden, but the space allowed for it, and living in the same place for a longer length of time helped, too.

Vibrant Four O’ Clocks
The Porch

My parents’ home has a wrap-around porch which was a key selling point. They enjoy starting their days with coffee on it. During my visit, I was happy to join them in that ritual. As soon as my eyes opened in the morning, my first thought was, “Coffee on the porch!” We also played a game of Scrabble and got caught up on all of our news while sitting out there. I often caught the peachy scent of Mimosa trees which were flowering nearby. Porch-sitting runs in my family. (Oh, and I also wrote this blog post while sitting there at the table.)

My mother loves ferns and has them hanging all around her porches. She moves them into her garage during the winter months and carefully tends them until she can return them to their home on the porch in spring.

Our favorite corner of the porch.
Garden Tour ~ My Mother's Garden
View of a small pond from the other corner of the porch.

As if the wrap-around porch wasn’t enough, my mother had another little porch added to the back of the garage near her gardening area where she could sit and enjoy the view of the back yard.

Mom on her little porch behind the garage.
Drive-Thru Garden

Mom had a unique idea. She studied their large back yard for over a year and finally had the idea of designing a drive-thru garden. They live in a small neighborhood where many of the neighbors zip around in golf carts and she wanted them to be able to take a drive-thru tour of her garden.

Looking through part of the “Drive-Thru” garden at a sitting area.

She made five flower beds in a circle and then used their golf cart to drive around and around among them to create the paths.

She then started looking for ceramic animals to add, which she tucked in among the plants. She wanted her grandchildren to have fun finding them. As they got older they rearranged them to play hide and seek.

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Mom told me a funny story: Years ago she had left some of the nursery tags on her plants so that she could remember what they were. During one of their visits, the granddaughters collected all of those tags for her. Mom graciously thanked them for their labor of love, and the tags never made it back out to the plants.

Once, after establishing the drive-thru garden, my parents hired a man to mow the yard for them. Afterwards, he said that he didn’t want to come back because she had too many flowers. We laughingly agreed that we didn’t want someone like that in our yards anyway!

Pass-along Plants

Once, many years ago, mom admired a neighbor’s flowers. The neighbor offered to give her some, but mom said she didn’t want to take her plants. The neighbor insisted, saying that her plants did better when she shared them. Mom said that she’s always remembered that and tried to share hers as well.

Mom has received several plants from neighbors. She used to work at a church where they had a tradition of “flowering the cross” where they removed the blossoms of Easter Lilies and attached them to a cross, but then planned to discard the plants. She asked if she might have them and they were given to her so she added them to her garden.

She has some rose bushes that began as a cutting from another gardener. Mom admired her rose bushes so she stopped one day to ask about them. The woman gave her some cuttings and Mom was able to start some plants for her own garden. She said the woman called them “Seven Sisters.”

“Seven Sisters” Rose
Saving Money

In addition to acquiring plants from friends and neighbors, Mom tries to save money by regularly scouring the clearance racks at garden centers for bargains. She’s not afraid to nurse leggy and droopy plants back to health.

The Shasta Daisies multiplied quickly, so she has been able to spread them around her yard by dividing them. Not only did they help to fill her beds, but they gave her garden some continuity. I envied how healthy and beautiful her daisies were. They don’t grow that well for me.

Mom focuses on buying perennials for the long-term so that she doesn’t have to keep rebuying plants, and fills in with bedding plants (annuals) to add some immediate color while the perennials mature.

Like me, Mom likes to repurpose. She found these discarded bi-fold doors and asked my dad to hang them at one end of her porch. She has all sorts of found treasures that she has used to decorate her gardens and porches.

New Discoveries

Mom has a plant addiction. She visits garden centers and nurseries often and just can’t help herself if she finds something new. This yellow Spray of Gold (Galphimia Gracillis) is one example. She came across it one day while shopping and had to add it to her collection. It looks lovely among the daisies, doesn’t it?!

“Spray of Gold” among Shasta Daisies

For years Mom had been pulling up a “weed.” This year she finally decided she liked it and let it stay. After an unusual two-night freeze, it became a filler, filling in while her other plants revived. Dad did some research and found out that it’s called “Jewels of Opar,” is a member of the Purslane family, and that it’s edible. Most of the day it’s closed, but late in the afternoon the flowers open, similar to Four O’Clocks. Here are two photos, showing them closed, and then open. The buds and flowers are so small and dainty that it was challenging to get a good picture of them.

Jewels of Opar, closed
Jewels of Opar, open

She didn’t know what a pretty blue wildflower in her yard was so she took a picture of it and used a garden app to identify it as Spider Wort. She decided she liked it, so she started digging it up and adding it to her flower beds, where it has multiplied.

Roses

Caterpillars decimated Mom’s Knock-out roses earlier this spring. A certified Rosarian from her garden club advised not to cut roses back like a hedge, that it was preferable to remove individual stalks to thin out, and not to cut out more than a third. Mom noted that it took them about six weeks to come back out. They were blooming beautifully when I was there.

A Crepe Myrtle surrounded by Knock Out Roses.

 

The following section contains some affiliate links which I provide for your convenience. If you use one of my affiliate links to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission.

Tips

My mother’s favorite gardening tool, the one that she uses most often, is a weeder hoe. She says that it goes under the weed and cuts it off, and is easy to use.

Mom with her favorite tool, a weeder hoe.

 

Her other favorite tools are Black & Decker power tools – the battery-powered leaf blower and battery-powered trimmer because they’re light-weight.

Mom’s favorite gardening book is Trowel and Error.

Other tips that she shares are:

  • Do a little bit of maintenance every day. Then it’s not so overwhelming.
  • Walk the garden every day and talk to your plants. You’ll see if a squirrel has dug up your newly planted plant. You’ll see something new and different. Carry a pair of scissors or pruners with you to do a little deadheading as you go.
  • Learn when to transplant and share, don’t move plants at the wrong time. For example, if you try to transplant a blooming Shasta Daisy, it’ll be gone from your garden and might not survive the move to the new garden. Wait until it’s done blooming, and transplant young (small) specimens.
  • Know how much water plants need. Soaker and irrigation systems don’t account for different needs. Hand watering allows a closer look at plants.
  • Use “anchor plants” – have shrubs or trees in each bed so that when annuals die or perennials go dormant, you still have something in the bed.
  • Take pictures of your plants so that later on you can remember where they are.
Thank You for Coming!

I hope you enjoyed touring my parents’ yard as much as they enjoyed sharing it. I think it’s fun to talk with other gardeners and learn about their style. Somewhere, I saw gardening referred to as the slowest of the performing arts, and it truly is an art form and a labor of love.

Garden Tour ~ My Mother's Garden
My Mother and I in front of their home.

 

Garden Tour ~ My Mother's Garden

Stitch Fix Giveaway ~ The Celebration Continues

I have a surprise! (Don’t you just love surprises?!) We aren’t done celebrating yet. Stitch Fix wanted to help celebrate my blog’s anniversary, too, so they donated a $50 gift certificate to be given away!!! If you’ve been wanting to try Stitch Fix then this is your big chance. If you are already a Stitch Fix customer, you’re eligible, too! Stitch Fix offers styles for Misses, Maternity, Petites, and Plus. They also style for men.

Just in case you missed my other post, I’m celebrating the first anniversary of my blog. You can read the first part here: Mid-Life Blogger’s First Anniversary

This post contains affiliate links. If you use one of my links to make a purchase, I earn a referral fee. If you are a Stitch Fix customer, then you can also earn referral credits by referring your friends.

How Stitch Fix Works

When you first set up your Stitch Fix account, you will set up your Style Profile. There is no charge to do this.  It will ask for information regarding your sizing, preferences, and budget. Your stylist will use this information to choose items for you. (This is also a fun thing to do with a friend.)

When you schedule a Fix, your account is charged a $20 styling fee. Your stylist chooses five items from among clothing and accessories especially for you and sends them on the date you choose. You then have three business days to try on the items and decide what to keep and what to return. Shipping is free – even on exchanges.

You check out online, and your account is charged for the items you keep. If you keep at least one item, the styling fee is applied towards the balance. If you keep all five items then you receive a 25% discount.

A pre-addressed, postage-paid envelope is provided, so when you’re ready, you just slip the returns into it, seal it, and drop it off at the post office. It’s very quick and easy!

There’s an App for That

Stitch Fix has an app that you can download. If you fill out your Style Profile using it, you can include a picture of yourself.

Get The Best Fix Possible

Communicating with your stylist is the key to getting the best Fix possible and Stitch Fix gives you many opportunities to do that.

  • The first opportunity is with your Style Profile. It asks for a variety of information such as your sizes, your budget, and your style preferences. Take your time in answering all of the questions because this is the information that the stylist will rely on most, especially in the beginning.
  • When you schedule your Fix, you have an opportunity to write your stylist a note. You can request certain pieces or tell her about a special event you have coming up. Are you interviewing for a job? Going on a cruise? Attending a wedding? Those are all things to tell her. In the Facebook Stitch Fix groups, I’ve also seen people ask for certain themes such as “all white,” “all dresses,” or a celebrity’s style, e.g. “A Joanna Gaines Fix.”
  • When you check out, you have the opportunity to give feedback on each item. Whether you love it or hate it, give specific reasons why. From this information your stylist can get to know you better with each Fix.
  • Another way of communicating is by setting up a Pinterest board and linking it to your Style Profile. You can pin pictures of clothing and accessories to it that you like. They don’t have to be brands that Stitch Fix carries. Your stylist will still be able to get a feel for the colors and patterns that you like by what you pin. I’ve put a link to my Pinterest board, as well as Stitch Fix’s, at the bottom of the post.
Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Keep an open mind and try on everything your stylist sends. That’s the whole point of Stitch Fix – having the experience of a personal stylist. Cindy sent me this maxi skirt and blouse. They’re more colorful than I normally wear, but I liked the watercolor floral, the length, and the buttery soft fabric.

Kendra Crochet Detail Blouse by Skies Are Blue, and Deanne Floral Maxi Skirt by Loveappella
Favorite Pieces

I’ve been getting Stitch Fixes for about a year and a half now. I’ve discovered that I love light pink and have kept several items in that color. They’ve all gotten a lot of wear. This light pink Winston Open Cardigan by Bobeau has served me well. It goes with a lot and is comfortable almost year ’round. I took it and this Curran Split-neck Blouse by Pixley with me on a trip with my mom and sister last fall. Many items that I’ve purchased from Stitch Fix have become favorites that I reach for most often.

Spontaneity

Before kids, my husband and I were spontaneous, and now that the nest is empty, that spontaneity is re-entering our lives. That means I may not have time to go shopping, so it’s nice to have appropriate clothes on hand. Just this weekend my husband and I decided on the spur of the moment to go to Branson, Missouri, to celebrate my birthday. I was glad that I had something to wear that was stylish and comfortable. This Edmond Henley Knit Top by Pixley got to ride to the top of Branson’s new Ferris wheel.

Fun

I’ve had a lot of fun trying the new things that Cindy, my stylist, has sent me. I enjoy shopping, but for some reason I don’t find the time to go very often, so it’s nice for the shopping to come to me. I also think it’s fun to write about, and it’s fun to goof off with my daughter when she’s taking pictures for me.

Stitch Fix Giveaway ~ The Celebration Continues
Goofing off with my daughter

You can read more about my Fixes by choosing the Stitch Fix category.

Giveaway

Thank you, again, to Stitch Fix for allowing me to raffle off a $50 gift certificate. Please enter the giveaway below. You will be required to complete a Style Profile as part of your entry. That step is required because the stylist can’t prepare a Fix for you without it. Good luck!

Helpful Links

Stitch Fix

Stitch Fix Seasoned and Stylish Facebook Group

Stitch Fix B/S/T and Discussion Facebook Group

Mid-Life Blogger’s Pinterest Board

Stitch Fix Pinterest Board

Coffee and Conversation Blog Hop

Mid-Life Blogger’s First Anniversary

It’s hard to believe, but I’m celebrating my first anniversary of Mid-Life Blogger already! When I think back over the past year, I’m amazed at how much I’ve learned and the new experiences I’ve had. To help me celebrate, Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company generously donated a $30 gift certificate. You can learn more and enter by scrolling down to the bottom of this post. The giveaway ends on May 31st, the anniversary of my very first blog post. Please share with your friends so that they can get in on the fun with us. Good luck!

This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of my links, I may earn a small commission. It doesn’t affect the price you pay, but it helps to support my blog. 

A New Chapter

I started blogging for several reasons. I was going through a major life change since I was becoming an empty nester and I felt an emptiness that I wanted to fill. Also, I had spent fourteen years homeschooling my children and I wanted to share what I’d learned and encourage other homeschool moms. Empty Nest Writing has helped me transition, and made it more exciting by providing new opportunities and experiences. With the kids leaving the nest, my life literally looked like a blank page. Through blogging, I’ve happily written on it to chronicle this next chapter. (Read Empty Nest)

A New Hobby

Blogging knit my many interests together into a new one. Through it, gardening, homesteading, homeschooling, and writing, have all come together into a new hobby that encompasses all of them, as well as anything else that life brings. It allows me to look back at lessons learned and precious memories, while at the same time sharing as I adjust to new roles and embrace new opportunities.

Learning

There were things that I had been wanting to learn, but hadn’t really had time during the previous season. It just seemed like the time had come. To say that my mind has been stimulated would be an understatement. There is still so much to be learned and it’s never dull. What I appreciate is that I can do it at my own pace. When there are other things that need my attention, the blog can wait. And possibly later benefit as I’m able to share the things I learn and experience. (Read Learning How to Learn)

Revelations

Often, God reveals things to me. It may be an answered prayer, a new understanding, or how He orchestrated life events to bring about a particular end. Those things are fun to share, too. (See my Inspirational category)

Stitch Fix

I wrote about Stitch Fix in my first blog post. I had forgotten that I actually first thought about blogging specifically about it because I couldn’t find any mid-life Stitch Fix bloggers. Stitch Fix appeals to my city-girl side. Even though I live in the country, I still like to feel my best when I go to town. A side benefit has been that I’ve had some pictures of myself to use for my blog. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have many because I’m usually the one behind the camera. I still can’t say I’m totally comfortable in front of it, but writing about Stitch Fix has helped with my confidence a little bit. I used a photo from my most recent Stitch Fix post to make a featured image for this one.

New Friends

There was an unexpected benefit of blogging – I’ve made new blogging friends through it. We write about similar topics so we have a lot in common. We help each other learn and grow. Through blogging I meet new people every day.

New Experiences

I’ve had experiences that I wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for blogging. I’m really grateful for those, and look ahead with wonder at where blogging will take me next.

Most Popular Post

My most popular post so far, and by far, is Homeschool Graduates in College. When I first had the idea to write it, I had no idea of the impact it would have. I hoped to encourage homeschooling parents, and evidently I succeeded. It’s been viewed over 21,000 times at this writing.

Behind the Scenes

I wanted to take a moment to explain about affiliate links. If you read many blogs, you may notice affiliate link disclaimers like mine above. The FTC requires bloggers to post a disclaimer whenever a post contains them. I didn’t know it when I started, but there are actually a lot of expenses involved in blogging. You can get started free, but as the blog grows and improves, it starts to incur more expenses. When you make a purchase through a blogger’s affiliate links, they make a small commission. How much varies with the vendor and product, but its usually pretty small. The price you pay doesn’t change when you use them, but the commissions help bloggers pay their bills. If you enjoy my blog, then you can help support it and encourage me by using my affiliate links. You can access them quickly by visiting my Resources page, or by clicking on links and banners in my posts.

One of the biggest challenges bloggers face is just getting their posts seen. Social media sites are constantly changing their algorithms which determine what appears in your feed. Even if you follow someone’s page, you still might not see their posts. What helps our posts to be seen is your reaction to it, whether you comment, share, or just click an emoji. So another way you can support bloggers is by simply liking, sharing, and commenting. The only sure-fire way to make sure you see them is by subscribing.

Celebration Giveaway

One of my favorite things to write about is gardening. Many of my posts have been about seeds I’ve bought from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. I love trying new things, and their catalog is a mesmerizing source of endless possibilities. I’ve ordered from them for many years, long before I started my blog.

If you aren’t on their mailing list, you’re missing out. They have non-GMO seeds from all over the world for crops and varieties I didn’t know existed, and their  listings expand every year. This year I was excited to see more flowers being included. The catalog is seasoned with gardening-related quotes, too, so it makes for interesting reading. Expand your gardening horizons and try something new!5 Easy Ways to Brighten Winter Days

To help celebrate my first anniversary, Baker Creek generously donated a $30 gift certificate. Please enter the giveaway below and share with your friends. In the comments, tell me if you’ve purchased from Baker Creek before, and what seeds you’d order if you win. (Or even if you don’t.)

Thank You!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and allowing me to share with you. My readers are precious new friends. I truly appreciate your support and encouragement!

I know where I’ve been, but I don’t know exactly where I’m going. Even so, I’m not fearful, because I know God has a plan and a purpose for me. And my blog.

If you haven’t already subscribed, I would love it if you did.

Mid-Life Blogger's First Anniversary

A Forager’s Walk

We’ve been having a lot a rainy spring weather lately, and you won’t hear me complaining. Yesterday afternoon I thought I’d get a quick walk in between storms. After studying the weather radar I wasn’t sure how much time I had, but I love taking walks. Every time I do, I fall more in love with our beautiful countryside. My trusty dog, Libby, always goes with me and I feel safer with her along.

It was (very) overcast and cool. The air was oxygen-rich and smelled of rain. When I was under the canopy of trees there was another lovely scent. I couldn’t pinpoint where it was coming from, though. Maybe a certain type of tree was flowering, or something. I wished there was a way for me to share that with you, but I stopped and breathed deeply for a few moments to enjoy it. A rumble of thunder prodded me to get going.

God Provides

One of my hobbies is foraging – picking wild berries, mushrooms, etc. One of my first visits (maybe THE first) to this farm was about twenty years ago, soon after my in-laws first bought it. It was when the berries were ripening, so we spent time on a hillside picking them and then my mother-in-law made a fresh cobbler when we got back to their home. I was just in awe at all of the wild berries that grew here. Growing up a city girl, I had never lived in such an area. From the time we moved here about ten years ago, I’ve picked the raspberries and blackberries, and gradually added other things I hunt for. God provides for us abundantly, all I have to do is get off my behind and go hiking. How much does a small plastic container of “organic” berries cost these days? Each spring, I spend as much time as I can picking berries and packing them in the freezer. I get free organic food, and exercise at the same time.

Brambles

When I was out hunting morels (mushrooms) last month I noted all the brambles which were just beginning to blossom.

Blackberry blossoms (taken a month earlier)

There were wild canes everywhere I looked, and they were loaded with flowers. The berries are forming now, and yesterday I spied the first ripening raspberries. The blackberries will soon follow.

Ripening raspberries
Loaded blackberry bush
Huckleberries

I’m also keeping an eye on the huckleberries, which are like tiny wild blueberries. My favorite use for them is muffins, but they’re so tiny, and I have a lot of competition, so I don’t usually get a whole lot.

Huckleberries beginning to ripen

Aha! They’re starting to ripen. I picked a few that were right beside the road. More thunder reminded me that I didn’t have time to look further.

Huckleberries
Gooseberries

Another berry I pick is gooseberries. They’re so tart that not everyone enjoys them, but my dad has shared memories of foraging for gooseberries during his childhood in northeast Kansas. I like to make a gooseberry pie especially for him. The gooseberries are looking good this year, too. They have such pretty little leaves. The berries are harder to find because they’re green and hang underneath the thorny branches. Some years the berries have seemed scarce, but I’m seeing a lot this season. It’ll probably be a few more weeks before I pick them.

A gooseberry bush
A flowering gooseberry. (Photo taken a month ago)
Heading Home

We even have wild roses here! They’re blooming, too. Did you know that roses, blackberries and raspberries are all related? (So are apples, btw)

Wild roses

As I turn onto our driveway, I’m joined by the guinea gang and a banty rooster.

Guineas and rooster

I got home just in time. Look at the menacing clouds!

We got almost 5″ of rain overnight, causing more flooding. I enjoyed my short walk, and now I know that my berry foraging season is beginning. Thanks for coming along!

Related Reading

Rainy Days ~ A Simple Pleasure

 

A Forager's Walk

 

Stitch Fix May 2017

My husband gave me a Stitch Fix gift certificate for Mother’s Day! It was such a nice surprise to find the notification in my inbox. When my Fix arrived, my daughter was home and able to help with taking pictures. She’s good at loosening me up and helping me smile. Then mid-way through our “shoot,” my son came out to sit on the porch and he was listening to some interesting music, so that added to the ambience. Oh, and don’t forget the crowing, gobbling, and honking of our birds in the background, too. We were having a rainy day, so it was overcast and gloomy. It was too dark inside the house, so we ventured outside after a rain shower to get the most light possible. There are a lot of Stitch Fix bloggers out there, but I haven’t seen any others with geese in the background.

Stitch Fix May 2017
Goofing off
First Impression

This Fix made a great first impression on me. I loved the colors and patterns when I first saw them and couldn’t wait to unwrap it.

Stylist’s Note

I read the stylist’s note and was excited to see that Cindy was still styling for me. Her note was personable, like from a friend, and she referenced my Pinterest board. Every Fix comes with a Style Card that gives styling suggestions for each piece in the Fix. I liked everything on it – it felt totally “me.” With every Fix she has gotten to know my preferences better and this was the best Fix yet.

I have a limited color palette for my wardrobe. By narrowing down my colors, it helps me keep my wardrobe smaller while at the same time making sure that things coordinate better. I’ve been doing this for a few years now and it is really working well for me.

Not only is May the month of Mother’s Day, but also of my birthday. When I scheduled it, I told Cindy I wanted a birthday Fix. I didn’t ask for specific things, but I spent some time on my Stitch Fix Pinterest board, deleting things I no longer needed/wanted, and pinning some new things. I also went through my Style Profile to make sure all of that information was correct. I made a few small changes and it was good to go. That was time well-spent, and it was enjoyable, too.

This post contains affiliate links, which means that I make a very small commission if you make a purchase through them. It doesn’t cost you any extra, but helps to support my blog.

What was in the Box?

I love this outfit and it’s a keeper. No suspense there! I loved these pants from the moment I pulled them out of the box. They’re a little more than I normally spend, but I have a hard time finding pants that I like, so I decided that if they fit well that I was going to splurge a little. It IS my birthday month afterall!

Levant Tiered Ruffle Top by Market & Spruce; Sylvie Printed Straight Leg Pant by Margaret M
Levant Tiered Ruffle Top by Market & Spruce; Sylvie Printed Straight Leg Pant by Margaret M

These pants are Sylvia Printed Straight Leg Pant by Margaret M and they’re a stretchy pull-on style. The fabric is smooth and feels great and of good quality. Here’s a close-up of the print.

This top that Cindy sent is the Levant Tiered Ruffle Top by Market & Spruce. It’s very light and gauzy. It was a little transparent, so I chose to wear a camisole underneath. It has a keyhole in the back. Here’s a close-up:

 

Outfit #2

This outfit was cute, too, and the colors in the top are in my wardrobe palette. Cindy paired this Mulliken Raglan Striped Knit Shirt by Olive & Oak with the Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean from Kut From The Kloth. I tried them on with some turquoise Reef flip flops that I already owned (And love, btw. They’re so comfortable!)

Mulliken Raglan Striped Knit Shirt by Olive & Oak with Kate Distressed Boyfriend Jean by Kut from the Kloth

Cindy also included this Casidia Cargo Jacket by Coffeeshop and suggested wearing it with either outfit. I loved that it went with both, as well as with a lot of other things I’ve kept from previous Fixes. I liked most things about it, but I wasn’t crazy about the fabric accent, and it was also a little big for me.

Close-up of back detail

For the first time I kept all five pieces to receive the 25% discount, then I sold the jacket in one of the Facebook Stitch Fix groups. I also sold the Mulliken shirt. I liked it pretty well, but didn’t just love it. Those groups are a lot of fun because you get to see what other people receive in their Fixes. If you see something you like, you can pin it to your Stitch Fix Pinterest board to drop a hint to your stylist, or you might have the opportunity to buy it there.

Exchanges

Stitch Fix started offering exchanges awhile back, so I contacted them about possibly trying the Kut From The Kloth jeans in a different size. It wasn’t available, so I’m still debating about keeping them. If I opt not to, then I’ll list them for sale as well.

If you like any of these items, you can pin these photos to your Pinterest Stitch Fix board:

Gift Certificates

I have a confession to make. I’ve gotten a few Fixes that I haven’t blogged about. I just had too much going on to write about them. In one of them I used a gift certificate that my sister gave me for Christmas. I happened to take a selfie to show her what I was keeping as her gift, so I can share that with you. This is the Jadey Tulip Hem Knit Top by En Elly. It’s very comfortable and easy care. I have quite a bit of this color now, but I still like it, and it goes with a lot in my closet.

Jadey Tulip Hem Knit Top by En Elly

Stitch Fix carries misses, maternity, plus, and petite for women. They also style for men now, too. When you order a gift certificate, you can choose to have it mailed, delivered by email, or to print it out to deliver it yourself. My sister had it mailed to me, so I saw for the first time how nice their gift certificates look.


Your Turn

I hope you had fun seeing what I got, but it’s much more fun to receive your own Fix. If you would like to find a Stitch Fix blogger with a similar style and body shape as yourself, drop me a line telling me what you’re looking for and I’ll try to hook you up with one.

Here are some tips to to get the best Fix possible:

  • Set up, or update, your Stitch Fix Pinterest board and link it to your Stitch Fix account so that your stylist can easily access it. To find things to pin, try searching “Stitch Fix.” You can pin any clothing and accessories that you like, to give your stylist an idea of your style.
  • Double-check your Style Profile to make sure that everything is accurate.
  • Keep an open mind. Part of the fun of Stitch Fix is seeing what your personal stylist chooses for you. Be prepared to try everything on. I’ve found that looking at pictures of myself wearing the items helps me to see how they look and make my decisions.


If you’re ready to try Stitch Fix for yourself, then click on any link or banner and it will take you to Stitch Fix. It doesn’t cost anything to learn more about it. You can even set up your Profile and see all of the questions they ask to learn your preferences. You aren’t charged anything until you schedule a Fix. At that time, you’re charged a $20 styling fee. When you check out, that $20 is applied towards your balance and you are charged the remainder. If you have any questions, you are welcome to contact me.

Stitch Fix May 2017