November 21, 2014


We're here! Well, we're here in the Midwest.  I wouldn't say we've "arrived" yet, living like gypsies with family, but we're getting there.  Being completely settled might just take some time.  99% of our belongings are in storage now instead of the 10% that couldn't fit in our townhouse and life feels a little upside-down, but it's only been a week since we pulled out of our driveway for the last time--upside-down is to be expected. 

This move has been harder on me that I anticipated.  I'm up and down and everywhere in between.  This emotional onslaught has hit me unexpectedly.  I didn't realize how like a fish out of water I would feel back "home."  Someone said to me, "I'm so glad you guys decided to move back home."  I wish I could have said to her how opposite of home things really feel.  It feels like vacation.  I wanted to tell her how I'm actually homeless currently...that we did decide to move within six hours of our hometown, but how that does not translate to home whatsoever...yet.  I didn't realize how the last three years have really enveloped me into North Carolina's temporary townhouse feels like home now.  I wake up disorientated, feeling like I'm still there.  I want to run across the street for coffee and German chocolate.  I want to send my kids outside in their sweatshirts.  I want to be home.  Things haven't sunk in.  It's only been a week, but when so much happens in seven days, it feels like months. 

I want to write this out--I want to record how I feel right now, because I know it will be different a year from now.  We'll acclimate to our new surroundings.  We'll be home soon.  We're on the hunt for that perfect place this weekend actually.  I want to write it out, but I'm making the conscious decision to filter where I write it--I'm saving a lot of it just for me, for later.  I do love sharing some here though because I know SO many of you have been here.  Hell, I was only here a little over three years ago and so many of you came to my rescue with so many personal stories of being right here.  But some things will be saved just for me.

I'm happy to be here in Minneapolis.  I forgot about the amazing shopping, the city lights at night, the lakes that go on forever.  But half my heart is still in Asheville.  I miss so much and so many.  It's a weird middle place that not everyone understands.  Making the decision to ride this wave today...choosing to: enjoy looking at all the houses, enjoy shopping for new boots, feeling content that my kids are being cared for by family that loves them while I'm away from them, and embrace every wave of emotion that hits me in the face.  I've got this--my weak heart has got this.

November 19, 2014


With so much change and big decisions happening in our family recently, these activities have brought up a lot of discussion with our kids.  Noah especially has been asking a lot of questions about money--how it works, how you get a loan, how you buy a house, if he can start a checking account.  We've had a lot great discussions and it's felt like a natural progression of growing up for him and a great time to talk about it.  Naturally when I was asked to review a copy of POFF book's Pirates of Financial Freedom book, I had to jump on it! I received a copy to read and review, but as I've shared with you before, all opinions are strictly mine.

About Financial Literacy for Kids

When I started reading Pirates of Financial Freedom, I knew right away that this was something great. The book is written by Joey Fehrman, a native of Omaha living in New York, labeling his book as an "edutainment" book, educational and entertaining.  I love his thoughts in the introduction about making education better by presenting it in different ways.  The thing about teaching personal finance to your kids is that it starts to sound like the Charlie Brown teacher voice really quickly, "whaaa, whaaaa, whaaaa, whaaaa."  Even I am annoyed by the sound of my voice after a while, I can't imagine how Noah feels.  This book solves that.  Teaching personal finance in an entertaining way is next to impossible in my opinion.  Unlike my husband, I find talking about mortgages and FICO scores pretty bland.  He can explain things clearly and precisely while I usually stumble over my words.  After reading Pirates of Financial Freedom, I was able to hand it over to Noah with confidence that he would be able to grasp these hard to explain concepts with ease...and he did! 

The best thing about this book is that it is truly entertaining.  You and your child will read about pirates, and not little kiddie pirates, but real rum-drinking pirates.  They've got all the lingo down, they have bloody sword fights, there is a race to find treasure and betrayal in the crew. All along the way, you're learning about tons of finance terms and how to manage money.  It's definitely edutainment!

Some of the topics covered in this book are:
  • budgets
  • mortgages
  • credit scores
  • snowball method of paying down debt
  • how interest works
  • how to save for retirement
  • the stock market
  • bank loans
  • 401(k)s and how they work


Benefits of a Living Personal Finance Book

This is a great read, right, but what are the benefits of reading something like this, especially for a homeschooler?
  • Easy to fit into your schedule.  Sometimes it's hard to find the time to fit in extra subjects like this.  This is simply a great book that will teach you and your child a whole lot.  The chapters are short and packed with info.  You will easily be able to fit this into your already busy schedule.
  • Hard to grasp subjects are presented in an entertaining and easy to understand way.  A lot of these subjects are hard for even adults to understand.  Pirates of Financial Freedom gives you a wealth of information in an easy to understand way that you won't forget.  You as the mom and teacher will really appreciate that!
  • Charlotte Mason fans will appreciate that this is a great living book.  I absolutely love teaching my kids with real literature.  It's hard to find a book that will teach personal finance to your child, especially to thoroughly!
  • One book and you're done.  You don't need a lot of extras.  Teacher's manuals, workbooks, guides, and more...these aren't needed.  You just need the book for a plethora of information.  It's available in the POFF books shop in hardcover and eBook versions.
  • You will undoubtedly learn with your child.  I learned so much from this book.  Really.  There's nothing more rewarding than learning alongside your child.
  • This information will stick with your child.  Teaching with living books makes it stick.  They might not remember bullet points from a textbook, but they will surely remember a nail biting story about pirates! 

If you're not sure if you're sold on this book, don't can try it out by sampling the first TEN chapter of this book! Two of the chapters are available here by following THIS LINK. 
You can find the rest of the chapters on these blogs:

Another opportunity for you to take advantage of this great product is to sign up below for a free copy of the book. If your name is drawn, not only will you receive a free copy of the book, but you'll receive two hours of free financial advice from Joey Fehrman for either you or your child! Such a great opportunity.

Interested in finding out more about POFF books? You can follow them on:

November 18, 2014


This Christmas will be a little different than most years, having just moved.  But some things can't be jaded--and yes, there will still be Christmas lists.  I find myself a little giddy thinking about what perfect little things will fill the kiddies stockings.  Then my brain goes to themes, because I just can't stop myself.  My kids are all nature lovers and I compiled a little guide for nature lovers in your house.  I know a few of these will be found at our house on Christmas morning...

Gifts for young nature lovers: 1. Star Chart and 2. Telescope for nighttime nature exploring// 3. Crayon Rocks // 4. Watercolors for nature journaling--this is our favorite set // 5. Animal Track casting kit--what a fun activity! // 6. Seed Kits to go with your favorite fairy tale--love these! // 7. Terrarium kits--fun way to get your hands in the dirt during winter // 8. Twig Colored Pencils--these are just the cutest // 9. Tree Starter Kit--it will be ready to plant by spring! // 10. Bird Watching Guide for kids // 11. Nature themed posters // 12. Bird Call // 13. Critter Catcher for catching bugs this spring //14. And what better snack for a nature lover than Chocolate River Rocks

How about you? What's on your Christmas lists this you...for you and for your kiddies?

CLICK HERE for a whole list of great gift guides!

November 15, 2014


There's nothing quite like pulling out of your driveway for the last time--all your belongings packed tight on a truck, leaving behind what's been your life for years.  It's a surreal feeling really.  I knew yesterday would be hard.  So many times, I have prepared mentally for the hard I phase into "Stonewall Jackson" mode, as my sister would so affectionately tell you.  This time, this move was different.  I knew there wouldn't be any stonewalling.  I've allowed myself some time to grieve.  The tears came in waves, welcomed almost like a necessary cleanse--a mourning time that needed to happen.
Moving to Minneapolis is a completely welcome move--we want to live there.  (Now though, with the polar vortex that seems to have returned, we're reconsidering.) But like everything in this life, there is no easy decision and no clean and easy break.  There's jagged edges--and they hurt.  The friends--these amazing people we leave behind have changed us, helped us grow, loved us deeply.  These are not only friends, but neighbors that will notice our car is gone from the driveway today, find the toys we've left behind in the grass, and collect our stray mail. 
Two years ago, I thought if we moved, no one would know--we were disconnected--one foot in NC and another foot moving on to who knows where.  We didn't have roots yet.  But over these last two years, those roots have grown deep.  Uprooting yesterday broke my heart, I didn't try to keep the pieces together.  They will heal at one point, but for now, I'm just letting my it do it's thing--taking time to be present for this middle place.
The excitement of the newness to come is on it's way.  House hunting, exploring together, finding new favorite spots--it's all coming.  We're just riding out the mourning first.

I read the best quote yesterday:
" Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world.
For, indeed, that's all who ever has."
-Margaret Mead
Thursday and yesterday were full of endless packing of boxes, goodbyes, laughing, and of course tears--but all good things.  All the time I thought about what I really would miss about this place.  It all came down to the major thing: these people.  This folks who've embraced us and let us borrow eggs in a pinch and babysat our kids.  These few caring people who listened to us, celebrated with us, ate with us, and loved on us. 
We have a sweet babysitter that has grown to be a sweeter friend and she has watched our kids and cared for them for countless hours.  Before we left, she brought the kids this book by Cynthia Rylant about being young in the mountains.  Yes, our Blue Ridge Mountains.  It's beautiful and real and her handwritten note inside will make me smile every time we pull it out.

Being the celebratory neighborhood that we are, we had to have one last going away party.  My girlfriends came over for wine and snacks while the kids watched a movie in their jammies.  Before that though, my sweet friends lugged over a huge box full of the sweetest meaningful gifts for us: photos of our adventures together, favorite chocolate that we had shared together, coffee--because every important friendship involves lots of coffee, favorite local brews and wine, and then the Jenga game that they insisted we play right then.  What looked like a regular game of Jenga turned out to be so much more.  Hand written notes from all the neighbors, telling what they would miss about each of us.

Sophie, I will miss drawing with chalk with you.  Love, Mya
Alicia, I will miss running in the park.  Love, Miranda
Jarrod, I will miss your grilling skills.  Love, Jordyn
Jack, I will miss your sweet smile. Love, Karina
Noah, I will miss playing in the forest with you.  Love, Max

I will miss...
I will miss...
I will miss...

What these few caring people have done is change my world.  They've taught me things, been there for me, and added so much to my life  They've also set the bar set pretty high for our new neighbors. 
Thank you, sweet people for being the few caring people in our world.  We are sad to leave you.
Today we'll arrive in Minnesota.  We'll be there underdressed and freezing, but we'll be there.  We are so excited for this next phase, but we will never forget what we've left behind.  

November 13, 2014


I am convinced that moving is not just a stressful thing, which it is--but it is one of the most emotional events in our lifetime.  Is that too grand a statement? Maybe just my life?  This is our second cross-country move in just over three years, so I feel like I can say with confidence that yes, moving is one of the most emotional things I will do in my life.
Naturally, I have been reminiscing so much these past weeks--remembering pulling into our development for the first time--being afraid and exhilarated at the same time.  Going on our first hike--Bear Hallow--being nervous about seeing a bear and marveling at the beauty and newness of our surroundings.  The first time we pulled up the Biltmore Estate's long driveway after a fresh snow.  It looked like Narnia.  It hasn't lost it's luster.
Knowing that we only had roughly a month left to be here, we decided to make a Asheville Bucket revisit all our favorite local places.  We made an intense list and did our very best to check it all off.  Everyone added something they loved about Asheville--Jack wanted to go back to the Bush Bean Factory near Pigeon Forge, which was surprisingly really awesome.  I wanted all the food.  Noah wanted the survival store.  Wait, who am I kidding? We all wanted it all.  Because when all is said and done, Asheville has been amazing.  We've seen all the cool things--and we wanted to see them all again.

We completed a lot of our list over the last two weeks while Jarrod's been in MN working.  I've cried more times then I can count over the last 14 days--exhaustion, crabbiness, but mostly watching these four experience amazing things in North Carolina.  

I've reread journal entries and blog posts, remembering the good and the bad.  I wonder about what I've portrayed here in this space--has it been all the bad and none of the good?  I hope not.  We've had a lot of hard days here, there's no doubt.  But that's not what I remember.  I remember the good.  I remember our one year anniversary of North Carolina.  I remember Easter's on Biltmore's front lawn feeling like I was living a fairy tale.  I remember squeals of joy from kids sliding down God's waterslide.  I remember parading my family down the streets of Asheville, showing them my new stomping ground--being proud of where we lived and excited to show it off.  I remember our first Bojangles on the Parkway, just looking around me like, "Wow...this is flipping amazing."  I remember exploring, finding all the new places with my kids, discovering everything together. 
Mostly though, I remember adventuring.

For three years, we have taken our family on one hell of an adventure.  We've rocked the tourist thing like nobody's business.  We've taken advantage of these mountains, the streets of Asheville, the amazing restaurants.  We have lived.  it.   up.  We have no regrets.  Not a one.  We've shown our kids what life is like in the mountains of North Carolina and now we'll show them what it's like to live in a booming metropolis with a million gorgeous lakes.  They'll be stronger, better, and braver for it.  Our hearts are officially full to the brim. 
No regrets.
Only ridiculously amazing memories.  

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