Let’s all take a deep breath.

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Inspiration for every day

Finding inspiration for your day-to-day.

I’ve been thinking about inspiration and motivation lately — reflecting and recalibrating as the year comes to a close.

One of my favorite things about homeschooling is that we’re free to build a lifestyle that fits our family. From the ways we homeschool to the whys behind our homeschool, we get to choose.

But sometimes I kind of forget. I forget that I’m not required to homeschool in any certain way. I forget that our days are not just a series of events to trudge through, on the way from breakfast to bedtime.

Read the whole story for ideas on staying inspired in your day-to-day, at Simple Homeschool.

The Whole Family Gift Guide 2014

Shop links in this post are affiliate links, because that’s how we keep our kids stocked up on warm mittens. (Or flip-flops. We live in Southern California. Mittens would be overkill.) Learn more.

The Whole Family Gift Guide for 2014

A gift for the whole family to enjoy

The Whole Family Gift Guide returns!

Looking to buy one gift for an entire family? It makes sense to us: more economical, more togetherness, less hassle, less clutter. It’s one way we simplify Christmas giving.

Here are a few new ideas. For last year’s guide, scroll down to the bottom of the post.

Family puzzles

Puzzles are always fun, but these Cobble Hill Family Puzzles are really clever. They’re 400 pieces, and each puzzle is cut into small, medium, and large pieces.

Puzzles for the whole family.

Tall members of the family can put together the small jigsaw pieces, while littler hands work on the bigger, easier pieces at the same time.

Classics in hardback

Build their library with a copy of your favorite classic book from childhood, along with a note about why you loved it.

Build a library with hardback classic books. Great family gift!

There are lots of beautiful hardback editions of children’s classics — check out Puffin Classics, Puffin in Bloom, or Penguin Threads Deluxe Classics.

With so many little readers around, we wear our most-beloved books right out. I bet we’re not the only ones.

Cooking together

For a foodie family, fun wooden spoons (try guitars or drumsticks), a fancy cutting board, or mixing bowls. This one says “Good things come to those who wait.”

Gifts for the foodie family

My toddlers think salad spinners are cool, too. Is that weird? That might be weird.

Make stuff

Pair a craft book with craft supplies. Try Kid Made Modern + duct tape, or Hand-stitched Felt + wool felt, or Let’s Make Great Art + colored pencils.

(More craft book suggestions here.)

Beeswax candle rolling kit, for making together.

Or go all-in-one with a craft kit. Beeswax candle rolling is easy enough for small kids, but still cool for grown-ups, too. I made some with my four-year-old this week, and we both had fun.

More ideas

One gift for the whole fam — it’s one way to keep things simple, but meaningful.

Need more ideas? Find last year’s Whole Family Gift Guides here:

Fun mail | Places to go | Games to play | Have a picnic | Audiobooks for all

P.S. – Are you trying to simplify, this Christmas?

1-1-IMG_76632-011My new ebook can help you figure out your priorities, through the holidays and beyond.

Focus on what matters this Christmas, and launch your new year right.

Get your free copy now. xo!

The fine line between “magical” and “exhausting.”

Crafting true Christmas magic. It's not what you'd think.

I love Christmas magic. The smell of pine needles, the glow of candles, the hot cocoa and gingerbread and secret gift planning. Snowflakes and twinkle lights? Yes please!

But there’s a fine line between “magical” and “exhausting.”

In this season and always, I think our kids learn more from how we live than from the lessons we teach.

It would be easy for our kids to absorb the idea that Christmas means being overburdened, rushed, busy, and stressed. They could easily pick up on the suggestion that to “do Christmas right,” they need to try harder, to do more, to push themselves. That message is everywhere.

But that’s not what Christmas is about…

Read the whole story here: Crafting True Christmas Magic.

1-12-Days-of-Christmas-Teachable-Moments-WEBI’m at Vibrant Homeschooling this week! Join us for 12 Days of Teachable Moments, won’t you?

There are a ton of great ideas over there for parenting through the holidays. xo.

One question to help reset your holiday

One question to reset your holiday

Over the weekend, I picked up my phone and tapped the Instagram app, as you do.

You could tell instantly that Thanksgiving was over. Pumpkins had disappeared from the photos. Pies were nowhere to be found. Leaves? Poof, gone.

Instead, it was evergreens and twinkle lights, as far as the tiny squares could scroll.

My guts twisted a little, because we haven’t hung up our lights yet. We haven’t pulled out our stockings. We haven’t baked cookies or piled Christmas books all over the hearth.

We spent the weekend assembling bunk beds and bookshelves, not assembling a tree. (We just moved.)

I KNOW! I thought. Let’s forget about putting the house in order. We can go straight to making it merry! Who needs to unpack the rest of the kitchen? We can decorate the moving boxes! FESTIVE.

But then I remembered that I don’t have to do everything to make Christmas more Christmassy. And I don’t have to do everything at the same moment that Instagram does.

I might even need to do less than usual, simpler than usual, calmer than usual, because that’s where we are this year. (Maybe you’re there, too.)

So I asked everyone who lives at my house: What’s most important to you, about how we celebrate Christmas?

That was the wrong question.

The kids hear “most important” as “list everything you can think of so we don’t leave anything out.” Everything is important!

Everything is fun, everything is twinkly, everything is magical. Who wants to give any of that up? Who wants to skip anything? It’s fraught.

Or, in Sadie’s words: “It’s too hard to pick!” I know what she means. It’s not easy. Also, she’s only seven.

I came up with a different question.

What do you remember about Christmas?

The things you remember (well, the GOOD things, anyway) from years past: start there.

My kids remember things like having a jar of Christmas candy on the kitchen counter, and sneaky-crafting to secretly make gifts for each other, and driving around our neighborhood in pajamas to see the lights on the houses, and sipping tea during advent readings.

Not the most obvious list, maybe, but one I can work with.

You don’t have to have the Christmas you see on Instagram. You don’t have to be more or do more or buy more to make it more meaningful. Christmas is already meaningful, all on its own.

You, as you are, today, in this season: you are enough. The way that you celebrate: enough. The way that you decorate: enough.

It’s okay to do it differently than the people around you. It’s okay to do it on your own timetable. It’s okay to leave the lights up longer than you meant to. (Just planning ahead, here.)

What do you remember about Christmas from years gone by? What do you want to remember about this year? Do that, and let everything else live on Instagram or Pinterest or in the neighbor’s brightly-lit front window.

Thank you to all the Instagrammers for doing all those other things (ice skating! cocoa and snow! cookie exchanges! elf on a ledge — don’t jump, elf!), so we can enjoy the photos of them without having to do them ourselves. They’re very pretty.

Now. Let’s go make our own memories.

1-1-IMG_76632-011This Christmas, DO YOUR THING. Not my thing, not your neighbor’s or your sister’s or your best friend’s thing. Do it your way.

I wrote an ebook that can help.

(And it’s FREE! Because I like you.) Get it here.

Purposeful highlights. #write31days

October was all about rewriting the rules and living with purpose. Here’s the best of Purposing.

Rewrite the rules. Live with purpose. A #write31days highlight reel!

Because maybe you could use a handy little reminder to read, while I am moving to a new house with six children underfoot this week?

(Really the children have been super helpful. There are other things underfoot, though. Like BOXES and DUST and THINGS TO PACK.)

I haven’t hit the stage where I walk around muttering, “WHY DO WE OWN STUFF” and “WHO INVENTED CLOTHES” and “WHAT’S THE POINT OF DISHES.” There’s still time. You can follow our moving adventures on Instagram, if you like.

On to the highlight reel!

Live with purpose.

Call out the norms and rules that aren’t helping you, and make new choices that make sense. Ask the questions that help move you toward your purpose. Keep asking, even if the answers aren’t neat and expected.

On being yourself.

Because who else is going to be you, if you don’t? It’s easy to offer up the tidy version of yourself, but the real you has texture and depth and nuance. You can choose to honor who you were made to be. You can be yourself, imperfections and all.

On the moments that matter. (They all matter.)

Every minute counts, the glorious ones and the ones we’d rather forget. Every choice matters. And if we need to, we can always choose again.

On the importance of small things.

Small beginnings can take you anywhere; small can be the first step of a great legacy. Small things offer us a place to start, a place to try something new, a place to practice. Small matters.

On having purpose during all the times.

Because some days are easier, and some days it feels like there are rocks in your pockets. Take just one small step. And ask questions that help.

On living your story.

A good story is always true, and you’re living a good story. Even if you don’t know all the details.

On rest.

Rest has purpose, and you were made to rest. (I hear that lots of you connected with this one!)

Say yes AND say no.

So many of you told me this was your favorite post this month. (Thank you!)

You don’t have to do it all. No one does it all. We don’t even agree on what “it all” IS.

1-1-IMG_76632-011If that sounds right to you, I wrote an ebook you might like.

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