Back To School: 7 Products That Give Back

It’s already time for back to school shopping. I know some of you are anxious for school to start and others are dreading it. We are really looking forward to it over here, especially Big Sis. Whenever I know that I need to make a purchase I do two things, first I look for the sales and second, I look for ways to buy products that give back. Today I’m here to share with you 7 back to school shops that give back and a few deals on them as well.

7 Awesome School Supplies That Give Back | Motherhood in the Trenches

1. TOMS – This one almost goes without saying. I LOVE their shoes for the whole family but especially for my girls. They last a long time and are excellent quality. Little E has worn several pairs of Big Sis’ old shoes and I’ve even saved a few of those pairs for new baby too. A pair of shoes that can last through three kiddos has a big thumbs up from this mama. They also sell backpacks and other accessories. If you are a  new online customer, use this link to get $20 off $75 (disclaimer: this is a referral link).

2. dot – I recently stumbled upon this shop through another Instagram account I follow. Their school supplies look super cool and the best part is that with every purchase you make you are paying for a child in a developing country to attend school for half a day, including uniforms, supplies, and school fees.

3. Tink & Key - This shop sells the CUTEST tees for kids and mamas and they give back 10% of their sales to a different organization each month.

4. STATE Bags – These are super cute backpacks for boys and girls. “For every STATE bag purchased, STATE hand-delivers a backpack – packed with essential tools for success – to an American child in need.” They go even further in their mission. Check it all out here. The Kane backpacks are so cute and I love all of the pockets they have!

5. Yoobi - You may have seen these products at Target. They are a big line of colorful office and school supply products. For every Yoobi item you purchase a Yoobi item is donated to a US school to provide school supplies to all children.

6. Camplight Apparel - Another site with super cute tees for kids and adults. Although not publicly announced on their shop site, I found them through Instagram and saw that every shirt purchased helps provide school uniforms to children in need. The “They Call Me Brave” shirt specifically helps support a family who is adopting two kiddos from Uganda. You can read an interview with them and get a 20% off code here.

7. Mitscoots - This is a sock company with some super cute socks, especially for men and women. While on the streets of Austin, TX the founders discovered that the one thing the people on the streets wanted after food and water was socks. So if you buy a pair of socks and they will give socks of equal quality to a person in need. They also employ people who are transitioning out of homelessness to pack their boxes. Cute socks for you, warm toes for a person in need. Get 20% off for signing up for Mitscoots Mail. If you don’t get a pop up to do this, go to the very bottom of the homepage and it’s on the right hand side.

Surviving the First Year of Homeschooling : 5 Things I Learned Along the Way

What a wild ride this first homeschool year was. One thing I’m learning in this homeschooling world is that definitions and labels rarely apply. I’ve spent a lot of time researching the different homeschooling methods and trying to decide where my own educational philosophy fits. We aren’t really a unit studies family, we’re not unschoolers, we’re definitely not into traditional schooling, we did quite a bit of Montessori methods in the beginning but are starting to shy away from that as Big Sis gets older. (If you want to take a fun quiz to see what homeschooling methods you are most like check out this quiz) Both Charlotte Mason and Classical Education have pieces that are very appealing to me but still didn’t meet exactly what I felt was right for our family. One night I sat on the couch feeling totally defeated and torn between the Classical and Charlotte Mason methods. I poured out my frustrations to Dirk and he said, “You studied teaching methods for years, you have an elementary teaching credential, you are passionate about teaching and your teaching philosophy. Just do what you think is best for our family and for Big Sis.” DUH! Sometimes the things he says can seem so simple but feel so profound. And so from there I guess we would now be classified as an eclectic homeschool family. Every time I say that I can’t help but chuckle. If you know me, you know I am anything BUT eclectic.

Why did I just tell you this? Because it’s just a brief look into the struggles of the first year of homeschooling. I have talked to a lot of new homeschool moms and we all have the same issues plaguing our minds. We are constantly questioning ourselves, wondering if we are screwing up our kids, wondering if they are where they “need” to be. We are struggling to find where the rest of our lives fit in amongst this new homeschooling thing. How do we still pay attention to the little ones who are not being homeschooled? The first year is hard!

Surviving the First Year of Homeschooling | Motherhood in the Trenches

After talking to a few of my wisest and most seasoned homeschool friends this is what I learned and I thought I’d share it with you. Hopefully this will be just as encouraging for you as it was for me…

#1 Come up with a homeschooling mission statement.

Why are you homeschooling? You need to know this because there will be days, maybe even weeks when you ask yourself, “Why am I doing this?” You need to have something written on paper to refer back to and to remember why you are doing this. Why are you giving up coffee dates and play dates and some “me” time when you could be sending your kiddo to school and regaining some of those fun days. Some days sending Big Sis to school full time sounds freeing. Please do not misread this, sending your kid to school for 8 hours a day is NOT a bad thing but if you are called to homeschool this year you need to know why. Which brings me to another point…

#2 Know When It’s Time to Quit

I know I’m going to ruffle some homeschooling mama feathers out there but I do not believe that homeschooling is for every kid, for every family, or for every season of life. What might work for one kid doesn’t work for another. What has worked for two years may not work this coming year. Have a list of parameters in place to know when it’s time to quit and even if you think, “I would never stop homeschooling” know that there may be a time when you do have to call it quits. One of my very best friends recently ended, or at least suspended, her homeschool journey with her kiddos. This is a family who has been such an encouragement to me and in years past I know that she never would have thought she wouldn’t homeschool. I have so much respect for their family because despite what they always thought they would do, they had their list of reasons to stop homeschooling and when it was evident that God was calling them away from this method of schooling, they moved on to where God wanted them. It wasn’t easy for her but in the end God was of course faithful and has met the needs of every member of their family.

#3 Have a Support System

If you don’t know other moms who are homeschooling find some! I can’t tell you how many times I texted my homeschooling mom friends asking questions from what curriculum do you use for this? to did your kiddo ever experience this issue? So many questions and so much help and so much support. If you don’t have people around you who homeschool find people! Search Facebook to see if there’s a local homeschool Facebook group. Search the #wildandfree hashtag on Instagram. There are lots of homeschooling mamas on there who are so encouraging and many are willing to answer your questions. They even have periodic homeschool meetups all over the country. I’ll post the next time they have one to keep you in the loop. Ask around your church or play groups to see if people know homeschool families. To know that you are not alone in this is so helpful!

#4 Prioritize

When you homeschool, homeschooling is a priority and you need to be stubborn about this priority. Be ready to refer back to your mission statement. You will get invites from friends to do things, you will be tempted to commit to Bible Studies, weekly playgroups, etc. You have to decide what’s right for you and what you can handle while still keeping homeschooling a priority. One of the hardest things for me was that people who don’t homeschool, just don’t get it. At times I felt judged and was questioning whether it really was okay to be quitting this Bible Study or saying no to certain outings. In the end remember you can’t do it all!

#5 Be Prepared to Be Flexible

Be prepared for things to not go according to your plan. Your curriculum may not be the right fit or may need some tweaking. It’s going to take awhile, maybe a whole school year to figure out your schedule. And just when you figure it out, it’ll be time to figure out the following the year. Then there’s the issue of where you’re going to homeschool. You may think that homeschooling on your dining room table is going to work and then like us you realize that somedays you want to just leave school stuff out which leaves no where to eat dinner. Or maybe you have an empty space in your hallway, I know random right?, and so you set up your homeschool area there and realize that you all feel boxed in. Finally you decide that the extra sitting room in your master bedroom is actually the best fit and you move there and it mostly works but even after a full school year you haven’t found something that REALLY works so you brainstorm for the next year. Things aren’t always going to go your way. Your homeschooling is not going to and shouldn’t look like a traditional classroom setting. Things will need to be tweaked. Be prepare to be flexible.

There’s a long list of other things I’ve learned but I felt like these four things were the main things I learned this year. If you are a homeschool family, I’d love to hear things you’ve learned along the way. I know there are many of us who would benefit from your experience. Would you like to share? Leave a comment below!

I’m Back and With Big News!

I love to blog and have missed it so much. Our first year of homeschooling required a lot more from me than I had anticipated, add to that hosting and Eisley’s health issues and unfortunately the blog had to go on the back burner for awhile. I’m back and I have some fun things to share in the coming weeks.

But first…there’s big news in the Dallas family!!!

Baby Announcement with the Help of a Drone! from Dirk Dallas on Vimeo.

That’s right we are officially going to be “Dallas Party of FIVE.” And we’re having another girl! I laugh every time I think of it. I always thought if I didn’t have a mix of boys and girls that I’d definitely be a “boy mom” but alas I am a “girl mom.”  A girl mom who doesn’t know how to French braid or really do much more than pigtails or ponytails, I am horrible at painting nails and have had maybe three pedicures in her entire life. I’m not very girlie but to know that God saw it fit for us to raise three girls in this world is a challenge that I am happily and prayerfully accepting. It’s gonna be a wild ride so stick around. :)

A Meaningful Easter

Can you believe Easter is just two weeks away?! This year is just flying by. As we prepare for Easter at our house, I am excited to start our second year of A Sense of the Resurrection.

A Sense of the Resurrection

Last year we completed all 12 days and it was such a fun and rich experience. A Sense of the Resurrection is an ebook that has 12 easy but meaningful lessons that take you through a sensory experience of the death and resurrection of Jesus. You’ll have an opportunity to make an oil diffuser to remind you to thank Jesus for dying on the cross for your sins…
A Sense of the Resurrection | Motherhood in the Trenches
you’ll wash each other’s feet to remember how Jesus came to serve and how He washed the disciples’ feet…

A Sense of the Resurrection | Motherhood in the Trenches

 you’ll taste vinegar as you remember the bitterness of sin, and so much more. If you’re trying to find a way to teach your children the true meaning of Easter, this is the resource for you! You can also check out this post for some of our favorite Easter resources. If you have any favorite Easter resources not listed there, I’d love to hear about them!

When God Says, “No.”

I didn’t anticipate this, I didn’t anticipate the struggle, I have never gone through this. God is growing me and it hurts. I feel like spiritually I have been prepared for God’s yeses. As I have attended church my whole life and walked with God for most of my life, I have so many times heard about the dangers of telling God no. Don’t be like Jonah, when God tells you to go, you go. I have often prayed for God to tell me to go, proclaiming with Isaiah, “Here I am, send me!” This past year has been a time of living through that “Go!” and obeying and being nervous in the obedience but so excited and trusting Him fully. It has been a rich season.

As a new season comes, He has told us no for something and it’s hard. I wasn’t prepared for this, “What do I do now Lord?” His answer has been, “Be still and know that I am God.” I don’t like to be still, I want to GO! Our pastor has often said, “Sometimes God says,”Go!” Sometimes God says,”No!”Sometimes God says,”Slow!” And sometimes, God says ”GROW!” I thought I understood that, but I guess I always envisioned God’s, “No” to be when it was something not right like, “Don’t buy that house” or “Don’t take that job” I never thought that God’s, “No” would be, “Don’t do that good work, it’s not what I have for you.” It is much harder for me to step back and obey in this “no” than it ever has been to obey to His, “Go.”

To be still, to wait, to obey in this quiet season, it’s not easy. I trust He has a plan, not just for us but for all who are affected by God’s, “No.” And as difficult as it is, I will be still and as He has shown me, I will meditate on these words, “Wait on the Lord; Be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait, I say, on the Lord!” Psalm 27:14