Artificial or Not Artificial? That is the Question

Does it really matter if our foods have artificial food coloring in it?  Read on and then I would love to hear what you think!

Rainbow of Colors By Holly Hedman

Rainbow of Colors
By Holly Hedman

The other day, a friend from church asked if anyone knew of natural food coloring.  This made me stop and think for moment.  I could come up with a few alternatives to artificial dyes, but that was it.  So, this sent me to the computer to do some research because I wanted a decent list of items to use and how to use them since I really never thought about food dyes before.  We have truly been blessed with healthy kids and for that I thank God every day, but there are many people that are not as fortunate to be free of food allergies or have children that struggle with food allergies, for this is not an easy life.

Artificial food coloring has been around since the 1950’s.

Decades ago, food manufacturers started using artificial colors, because they were more stable then natural food coloring.  In fact, artificial food dyes are made from PETROLEUM (yes, I said petroleum… a by-product of crude oil.

Click Here to finish learning about why you should not eat foods with artificial food coloring!


Thanks for taking time to reading.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Please leave a comment below.

Also, take a look at what we are doing now. Click Here

Want to keep you and your family healthy this year, check out my Young Living Essential Oils Facebook page. Click Here

Mom Conference


The Mom Conference is going to be more fun than shopping in PJs and fuzzy slippers, and more educational than having brunch with Dr. Oz, Dr. Phil and Dr. Spock! And, better yet, it’s ONLINE and FREE from April 7 – April 14, 2014!

Desi Ward, host of The Mom Conference and creator of The Unconventional Kitchen, created this educational and entertaining event because no mom is perfect. That’s why we MUST share our strengths! You know the whole idea “I’ll do your laundry if you do my dishes?” At The Mom Conference we’ll gather together to learn from each other because we’re our greatest resource!

Register for FREE now at the following link:

Being a mom can be overwhelming at times, right?! The Mom Conference contains 30+ online classes to make motherhood more enjoyable. 30 rock star bloggers (mostly moms) will be teaching classes on topics incredibly important, like:

– Cooking a month’s worth of dinners in ONLY a couple hours!
– Getting kids to listen without yelling, nagging or reminding!
– Making sure there’s not just heat in the kitchen, but how to put the sparks in your marriage, too!

Sounds amazing, right?

Here are a few of the incredible presenters:

Get Kids to Cooperate Without Yelling or Nagging
with AMY MCCREADY from

Knock Out a Month’s Worth of Dinners in One Day

Feel Connected in a Disconnected World

I Lost 60 Pounds & Kept it Off: YOU Can Too!
with JEN GROTHE from

Get & Stay Organized: A Fail-proof System
with JENNY LAYTON from

Healthy Marriage: Top 3 Successful Marriage Tips

… along with 20+ additional presenters sharing their wealth of knowledge. This invaluable (and FREE) resource is intended for moms everywhere!

Better yet, if you register today, you’ll have access to the following FREE GIFTS as soon as your registration has been completed!

– FREE Video 1: Creative Ways to Get Kids to Love Fruits & Veggies
– FREE Video 2: Tips & Tricks for Awesome Hair
– FREE Video 3: Make Foaming Hand Soap in One Minute
– FREE Video 4: Find Jeans That Flatter Your Body Type
– FREE Video 5: The Best Tasting Green Smoothie

Come listen ONLINE and be inspired from April 7 – April 14, 2014!
Register for FREE at the following link today:

See you at The Mom Conference from April 7 – April 14! 🙂


Our First Homeschool Valentine’s Day

Dressed and Ready for Valentine's Day Copyright by Holly  Hedman

Dressed and Ready for Valentine’s Day
Copyright by Holly Hedman

I am not big on some of the so called “holidays” like Valentine’s Day.  I always called it a Hallmark holiday.  So, I never really think about cards or gifts until the last minute.  Oh yes, I was one of those people who were searching for the perfect card in the already picked over Valentine section.  But, I was able to find the perfect card.  Whew, got big hugs and love for those cards.

Valentine Decor 2 Copyright by Holly Hedman

Valentine Decor 2
Copyright by Holly Hedman

While organizing and cleaning out our pantry, I found chocolate melts for making chocolate covered strawberries.  Insert light bulb here!  Yes, I will make chocolate covered strawberries!  I have never made them before.  Off to the store I go!  Luckily, my neighbor was already watching our kids for me because I had an appointment.  Bonus for the day, a shopping trip without kids! 🙂

This week my husband was on a business trip to North Carolina.  He was suppose to fly home on Thursday but was snowed in and couldn’t fly out.  What a winter, so strange for that part of North Carolina to have snow in February.  Luckily he had a rental car and the interstate was fit to travel, so he and his co-worker drove down.  He made it home just in time for the best dinner ever!

Chocolate Strawberries Copyright by Holly Hedman

Chocolate Strawberries
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Seeing as this was our first Valentine’s Day since homeschooling, I really wanted to make this Valentine’s Day special.  How did I make it special?  Well, hubby making a drive home (OK, I guess I can’t take credit for that), little bit of decorations, cookies made in a heart shape, homemade chocolate covered strawberries, vanilla cake with strawberries on it, shrimp and scallops scampi over a rice mixture and a very yummy kale salad!  Oh yes, I made a ton of AWESOME mom points yesterday!

What did you do for Valentine’s Day?  I would love to know, write it in the comments below!


Thanks for taking time to reading.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.

I Just Our Kids To Be Happy!

Reading too many negative posts on Facebook!

After reading Facebook post from friends, family, acquaintances, I sometimes feel sad.  Seems that people like to post all the negative things that have happened in their day.  I understand that things go wrong, but what about finding the positive in what happened?  I decided to ask my Facebook friends, family and acquaintances this question…

What question?

Are you a positive person or a negative person?  Here is a good way to find out, look at all your posts here on Facebook.  Count how many of your personal comments are positive and count how many are negative.  Go back about 2 or 3 months (depending on how much you are on FB, you might need to go back about 6 months).

If you find that you have more negative comments then positive, maybe you need to find something good that happened in the day to post about.  If you think more positively, your outlook on life will change!  If you look at things in a negative manor, your outlook on life will be a negative one and people will see you as a negative person!

Everyday, find one positive thing that happened and post about it!  Start it Jan. 1 and see how long you can go.  See how thinking positively can change your life!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

When you were a kid, did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up?  I had no clue and didn’t know till I was in my late 20’s.  But, what I really wanted to be, was happy!  We all want our kids to be happy when they get older.  I thought this video from TEDx Talks was very interesting and well spoken… specially by a 13 year old!

Logan LaPlante did a really good job explaining the science for being healthy and happy.

I want to be happy!

Looking through my Facebook post, I am happy to say that most of my posts are positive.  There are a few of what I would call neutral (homeschool related or politically related) and a few that have something sad or negative in it but I also have positive comments within the same post!

So, learning from 13 year old Logan LaPlante, I not only want my kids to be happy when they grow up, I want them to be happy now while they are still young!  Let our kids be kids and play!


I would love to hear from you how you let your kids be kids and how your kids are happy kids!  Click on the “Comment” word below and tell me about your happy kids! 🙂


Thanks for taking time to reading.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.

Ah, The Christmas Memories!

Ornaments Copyright by Holly Hedman

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Two days before Christmas and this is the first time (I believe) that I felt so relaxed!  Living so far away from family has its benefits… sometimes!  This year we have no visitors, no travel plans and no one coming over on Christmas day.  It is the first, time in a very long time, that we are celebrating Christmas just our little family of five!

Are these our kids?

We have been having a lot of fun and the past few days (well, maybe even longer) the kids have been really, really, really good!  I almost wonder if someone flipped a switch in them from “okay kids” to “REALLY good kids”.  Maybe it is because there are all sorts of presents wrapped under the tree.  Maybe it is the fact that Santa is coming soon (Yes, we believe!).  Maybe because it is almost Jesus’ birthday.  What ever it is, our kids have been really good! They have been so good that even they notice!  That is funny to me! Today, one of the girls even commented saying, “have you noticed that we have been really good lately and that you guys haven’t needed to yell at all?”  My husband and I just stopped and looked at each other, kind of surprised by that comment seeing we just talked about that before she came into the room!

Usually on days when we don’t have anything to do or places to be, the kids like to play with friends.  It is almost strange for them to just stay home when they don’t have to!  But, I have to say that I have been enjoying these past few days and I am savoring them because I know it won’t last!

Paper Stars Copyright by Holly Hedman

Paper Stars
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Movie Day!

Today, we got up and it was Christmas movie morning!  All of us in our pajamas (Yes, the girls had on their “Christmas Jammies”… have you seen the video? Oh my word it is funny! Here is a link to it, click here.) sat around watching Christmas movies.  We watched Nester the Long Eared Donkey, Year Without A Santa Claus, Little House On The Praire (the one where it was their first year as Plum Creek) and then some old old old Christmas movies from the 50’s.  It never fails, I always cry mulitiple times when we watch Nester The Long Eared Donkey and so did both the girls!  Such a good video.  I wish they still made good family friendly movies.

Wolf Painting Copyright by Holly Hedman

Wolf Painting
Copyright by Holly Hedman

After we were done watching movies, the kids still hung out!  I decided to make a paper ornament, our oldest decided she would make different things out of the Rainbow loom bands and our blondie decided to start her wolf painting (it is a paint by number type of painting and it is not easy).  My husband was finishing up the shelves he made for our oldest’s closet and our little man was having a great time playing in his room!

Loom Wreath Copyright by Holly Hedman

Loom Wreath
Copyright by Holly Hedman

I made dinner early and then we had a dance party in the living room.  We used to do this when our little man was a baby and the girls would dress up in their flower girl dresses and we would dance together, laugh, let them do solo dances and hug!  It has been about 3-4 years since we did that and it was great to see how much the girls have grown and matured in their dancing (I guess the dance classes have paid off).  Once the dance party was over, we introduced the kids to the movie The Christmas Story!  Yes, it is the one where Ralphie wanted a Red Rider BB gun!  Boy, funny how movies in the 80’s are not like movies now… It is good to know my kids know what not to say and what words should not be repeated.  But, it was a funny way to end such a good day!

Family Tree Copyright by Holly Hedman

Family Tree
Copyright by Holly Hedman

For the love of family!

After we got all the kids in bed, I sat down on the couch and just looked at our Family Christmas tree as it glowed in our lowly lit living room.  Looking at all the ornaments on the tree brought back all sorts of memories from when I was a kid.  I call our tree the Family Christmas tree because that is what it is.  My parents are now retired and are snow birds, so they don’t have room for all the ornaments and a big tree.  Not only do we have our own ornaments on the tree, we also have my parents ornaments and ones from when I was a kid!  The glow of the Family Tree always fills my heart with love.  Love for my parents, who struggled to give my sister, brother and me what we needed (maybe not what we wanted but always what we needed).  Love for my own family and the joy they bring.  Love for our Savior, who came into this world as a baby to save  us from our sins.  Love for God, who loves us unconditionally!  Funny how a silly tree can bring all those feelings and memories!

Today has made me realize that you don’t need to do all sorts of crazy things during Christmas to make it memorable.  Life is crazy and active enough, why make Christmas so non-stop with activities?  Love on your kids, make time to just be!  Remember the true meaning of Christmas is the birth of our Savior and just relax and enjoy this season!  Time goes by way to fast to not slow down!

My God Bless you and yours!  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!


Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Christmas season!

Advent Calender Time is Here!

The other day, my daughter (the blondie) and I were talking about homeschooling.  She asked why she had to be homeschooled and I told her we were not happy with the school system here!  Then she said that she was happy that we homeschool and really did love it.  This came as a surprise to me because there are days (bad days) when she says she doesn’t want to homeschool or that she wants to go back to public school.  So, when she said that she loved it, I was shocked!  As we sat and talked, she rattled off some of the reasons why we are blessed to be able to homeschool:  they got to play volleyball, they had their STEM class, they get to sleep in (meaning, they are up around 7:45 and we start schooling around 9:30-10), we get to go on more then 2 field trips in a year, special activities, park day… The list could go on.  But one of the things that she didn’t realize is that since we do homeschool and don’t have to be up at 6:30 am, we can do more together as a family at night!  So, bring on the fun Advent activities!

Fun Advent Calender Activities!

Advent Calender Copyright by Holly Hedman

Advent Calender
Copyright by Holly Hedman

This year, seeing as the kids don’t have to be in bed by 7:30 pm, we are doing a couple of fun Advent activities.  The kids have been enjoying the homemade advent calender from Only Passionate Curiosity.  This Advent calender is different then the ones you buy in the store because you (the parent) can pick what goes inside of it.  Plus, it is homemade… Who doesn’t like homemade things?  Only Passionate Curiosity even gives you predetermined activities or you can write an activity a blank activity sheet that they designed for you!

Girls enjoyed stringing popcorn Copyright by Holly Hedman

Girls enjoyed stringing popcorn
Copyright by Holly Hedman

What I picked for our family: some predetermined activities and some activities I wrote.  The activities I wrote were events that we already planned, so that works out perfectly! One of the predetermined activity was to watch a Christmas movie.  I put that together with string popcorn for garland.  Made for a great memory maker type of night!

Truth In The Tinsel

Our Family Working On Our Project Copyright by Holly Hedman

Our Family Working On Our Project
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Crown Copyright by Holly Hedman

Copyright by Holly Hedman

On top of doing our Advent calender activities we are doing a 25 day Bible study that has a craft for every day!  It is called Truth In The Tinsel.  I am going to quote their website because they said it perfectly!  “Each day Truth In The Tinsel will lead you through a passage of scripture, a corresponding ornament craft and talking points for you and your kids.  It is more then a devotion– it’s meditation and hands-on learning for kids.  It is more then a craft book– it is a memory builder for your family.  It is more then an ebook– it is an experience and adventure in God’s word!”  I truly don’t think I could have explained it any better!  You could just do this as your Advent calender but I decided to do both!

Slow down this Christmas season!

Seeing as homeschool has given us the freedom, that I didn’t know I craved, we are taking the time to spend together throughout the week as a family doing special memory making Advent activities!  I hope you do too!

Wishing you a very Happy and Merry Christmas!  I hope you take time to study the Word with your family and slow down to enjoy this wonderful season!  Your kids are young only once, so go and make those special moments with them that they will cherish for a lifetime!

Merry Christmas!

Here are the links to the great activities I talked about!

Truth In Tinsel an Advent Experience For Little Hands

Truth In Tinsel an Advent Experience For Little Hands


Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Christmas season!

First Year of Schooling in Florida Continues

“How we became a homeschooling family” was my original title for this article.

I have to tell you, I had a whole blog article pretty much all written up about why we pulled our kids this past March from public school and are now a homeschool family, but I decided to scrap it.  As I would read over the article to proof read and add to it, I felt like all I was doing was being a “Debby Downer”.  That is not me!  Yes, the school here was not up to par with what we were used to and my girls did not have proactive teachers like we had in Tennessee.  But, the school in general is a nice, new, and is big.  They are also really good with students who have an IEP.  But as I was writing my previous blog (the one I deleted) I realized that it is our job as parents to be proactive for our kids, not the teacher.  I had a change in heart and decided to write something more positive then negative!

Vacation Time by Holly Hedman

Vacation Time by Holly Hedman

Oh my, so it begins!

With summer coming to an end (not sure that ever happens here in Florida), getting back on a schedule has been the first and foremost thing on my mind.  I am such a night owl it has been hard for me to think about having to get up earlier then my kids so I can have quiet time to drink my coffee, read the Bible, and Facebook/emails/play on my iPad.  Since we just got back from vacation, I have had a hard time going to bed before 11 pm (well, that is my normal bed time) but I have done really well with getting out of bed, with an alarm, before my kids.  This morning I was enjoying my quiet time so much I let the kids sleep in! 🙂 I love slow mornings!

Official First Day of School by Holly Hedman

Official First Day of School by Holly Hedman

Oops!  Off my schedule already.  

My plan was to have them up by 7 am so we could start by 8 am and be done by 11:30 because I am teaching a PE class for a Classical Conversations group.  Basically, I was not ready for our first 2 full days of homeschooling.  I am sure at some point in time things will run more smoothly.  I am sure I will have days where we get NOTHING done (not looking forward to that) but we will keep pressing on and moving forward!

First full week of schooling.

This weekend I am going to organize our classroom so we can start our first full week of schooling without feeling overwhelmed.  I am excited about using My Father’s World for our main curriculum.  They have it all planned out and it allows you to teach multiple aged kids at the same time!  Also from MFW, we are using Spelling Power.  For math I decided on Teaching Textbooks because I am not a math savvy person.  I also decided to use Institute for Excellence in Writing (IEW) for Language Arts.  The homeschool group we joined has a plethora of great programs but one that stood out to us was the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) program.  We used the first day of STEM, which meets for over 3 hours, as our first day of school!  Luckily, our first full week will only have volleyball and CC PE for extra activities.  But in September everything starts up.  Dance two days a week, volleyball with games and practices, MOPS homeschool activities, AWANA on Wednesdays, STEM on Thursdays,  and CC PE on Fridays.  This should be interesting.  Crazily, I scheduled too many things for the afternoons but with doing that, I think it will keep us on the ball to get our work done so we don’t have to do it later in the afternoon!

I know this all seems like first timers syndrome, so much out there to do seeing as we are not tied down to the public school schedule and I am sure some of you are yelling at me through my computer telling me how crazy I am for planning so much our first year of homeschooling.  But that is me, I jump in before looking. Sometimes it end up be OH SO BAD and other times it was the best decision I could of made.  So with a little guidance from the Good Lord above we will have a great first year of school!  This is an exciting journey and I can only pray to God that He has chosen this path for us for a reason and that we (all of us) will survive! 🙂


Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, I would love to learn from you and how you homeschool.  Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Day!

Life is always changing, so you have to be ready to change with it!

How about that, we now live in Florida.  Never thought I would live in this state.

Roasting Marshmallows Copyright by Holly Hedman

Roasting Marshmallows
Copyright by Holly Hedman

We are a family that loves the rugged outdoors, being on the lake fishing and sitting outside by a campfire on a cool night.  Oh, yeah, now that’s the life!  But now we have traded that for palm trees and white sandy beaches.  A person could get used to that… I guess.

For a lot of people Florida is where you go for vacation, snowbird in the winter or retire to.  Then you have those people who end up in Florida because of work or to be with family that have moved down here.  For us, we are here because of work. The Army decided that my husband was needed down here, so here we are.  Florida is growing on me, ever so slowly.  Not sure I will ever feel at home like I did in Tennessee but I will keep a positive attitude and embrace the fact that I am living in Florida.  I know, you are probably saying that I am crazy, what is not to love about Florida.  Well, I am a true northern girl through and through and I love the 4 seasons.  I know, I know, I am crazy for loving the snow and cold but I really do!  Time to face the fact though, we now live in Florida!

First Day of School 2012 Copyright by Holly Hedman

First Day of School 2012
Copyright by Holly Hedman

We moved here in August of 2012 about a week or so before school started! I have to say, I was getting excited for the girls.  I was ready to get our life back to a normal schedule and have them in school.  Also, I was ready for my son and I to have our one on one time.

I have always enjoyed getting ready for the first day of school!  There is always an excitement about it and an anticipation to the new school year a head.  This year was even more exciting because we just moved to Florida and our kids would be meeting new kids and making new friends!  With the girls all registered at the public school and ready to go, it was time for school to start!

First day of school, how exciting.

Seeing as we were living with friends of ours till our house was finished being built, I drove the girls to the bus stop in our neighborhood.  This way we could start meeting our neighbors and start making new friends.  So, bright and early (actually it was still dark as you see in the photo above) we were all up and getting ready for the day.  Once we were all done with our morning routine, out the door we went.  I have never driven my kids to school and waited in that crazy car lane and I wasn’t about to start now.  By driving them to our subdivision instead of driving them to school I was able to have some adult conversation and got to know our neighbors!  Oh yes, even mom got to have some chit chat time and I looked forward to it everyday.

In September I was able to close on the house (yes, I said I… my husband was off on a his 2nd or 3rd trip since moving here so I got to close on the house… All By Myself with POA in hand and a pen that luckily never ran out of ink!) and that night we slept on air mattresses in our new home.  Two days later the first two PODS came (we pack and move ourselves and the military pays us to do it) and the unpacking began.  It felt so good finally being in our own home with our own stuff, since we were technically homeless since the end of June.

Our walk to the bus Copyright by Holly Hedman

Our walk to the bus
Copyright by Holly Hedman

Now that we actually live in our house, I no longer had to drive every morning and afternoon to the bus stop, we walked.  I have to say, I really enjoyed our 3 block walk to the bus stop.  Now with the cooler temperature in the morning, there were times where we walked to the bus stop in the fog (I loved it)!  The fog reminded me of Monterey, CA and the crisp morning almost made it feel like fall! OK, I guess Florida is growing on me now.


Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Day!

A New Journey

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Oh, the life of a Soldier and his family! 

We started off our journey together back in 1995 (um, yeah, I just dated myself) when Dan and I were married.  Our first move was to Oklahoma for 6 months of training.  We actually enjoyed Oklahoma, but we were there in the winter so we didn’t have to deal with the heat.  Once training was done, off to North Carolina for 5 1/2 years. We had many adventures during our time there but I will save those for another time.

Our next duty station was in Tennessee and that is where our first daughter (the brunette in the photo above) was born.  Beautiful Tennessee was home for 3 1/2 years then, while pregnant with our second child (the blonde in the photo above), we moved back to North Carolina.  This time we only lived North Carolina for 2 years and then the Army sent us out to Monterey, CA!  Oh, how fun it was to there!  We really enjoyed Monterey, so much to see and many adventures were had.  While there our oldest daughter started Kindergarten.  She was only able to do one semester there and then off again.  Eighteen months was not long enough… so many more things I wanted to do while there, oh well!  We left California in December while I was 8 months pregnant with our third (the boy in the photo). This time we moved home to Illinois for 6 months and then landed in Tennessee again.

Point Lobos Copyright by Holly Hedman

Point Lobos California State Park                                     Copyright by Holly Hedman

Yes, being a military family… it is never a dull moment.  I have to say, as much as we loved living in Monterey,  Tennessee truly felt like home to all of us.  It is truly beautiful in Tennessee with the rolling hills and big oak trees.  Have you ever experienced Tennessee in the fall? Oh, my!  The colors are just amazing, the crisp fall air, leaves falling everywhere and the aroma from the smoke houses (that is how the dry tobacco) makes for the best autumn!  We thought we were only going to get to stay in Tennessee for 2 years, but we ended up staying for 3 years.  It was so nice not having to move for awhile but it made it soooooooooo much harder to move for many reasons. One reason was because we knew it was the last time we would live there.

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Moving Day

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Boxes in every room

Every move we have made has been an adventure and we really enjoy living in different areas of our great nation! But, each move has been a little bit harder because you leave great friends.  Once we added kids in the mix, moving became even more difficult because we are disrupting their sense of “normalcy” and taking them away from the friends they made.  But moving day came and it was time for our next journey, this time to Tampa, Florida.  This move was particularly hard because we all made such good friends and had a GREAT school that the kids went to. We loved our neighborhood we lived in and love having the pond behind our house where we would go fishing all the time!  We were happy there.  But, here we go again… All packed up and ready to go and see what our next adventure brings!

Copyright by Holly Hedman

Pond behind our house.




Thanks for taking time to read about our journey into homeschooling.  Please feel free to share my blog with your friends and family!  Also, Please leave a comment below.  Have a Blessed Day!