Homeschooling, Uncategorized

Give the Gift of Experience Boxes this Holiday Season

experience box title photo


Do you hear what I hear? Yes, those are indeed jingle bells. It’s too late now…there is nothing we can do to stop it…the peppermint train has arrived and whisked away all traces of pumpkin spice. Now, if you are anything like my husband and feel the need to wait until after Thanksgiving to think about sugar plums, Christmas trees, and candy canes…you should look away now. It’s about to get very festive up in here for the next several weeks. I have a *slight* obsession with all things Christmas…so I am planning all kinds of fun and festive blog posts in the coming weeks!

I LOVE giving gifts…love, love, love it! What I don’t love is giving mindless junk that my kids are just going to lose, break, or never play with! This year I have made a goal to create mindful gifts that will fit in with our homeschool lessons for the spring and summer! To do this, I am going to be creating Experience Boxes!


Last year I remember seeing several people in Instagram-Land talk about giving their kids experience boxes for Christmas gifts. I had never heard of this before! It seems as though everyone creates them differently…so this is just my plan!

An experience box, to me, is a well thought out box of goodies and supplies based around a common theme. These are wonderful if you have a child who has an obsession with a specific topic…it really allows you to focus in on their area of interest and find gifts that are perfect for them. It is also such an awesome gift for a homeschooling family…if you are planning a unit based around a specific theme this is a great way to collect all kinds of awesome learning tools! My plan for our Experience Boxes will probably center around a couple of books…being the book-obsessed Mama that I am it seems fitting! I am planning to add games, art supplies, toys, movies…anything that I can find that I think the kids will love!


So, over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to be sharing some ideas with you! I have been brainstorming all kinds of topics that would make awesome experience baskets…so stay tuned for that! Like I mentioned above, the sky is the limit when it comes to these baskets…anything goes! Here are some topics:

  • Outer Space (We have an astronomy unit planned for the spring so this is one I am working on for our family!)
  • Dinosaurs (This blog post will be released in a couple of days!!)
  • Poetry Tea Time (I already have a gorgeous book picked out…and some fun mugs…eeeeek!)
  • Greek Mythology
  • Geography
  • Gardening
  • Sports
  • Art
  • Cooking
  • Ancient Egypt
  • Bugs
  • Science
  • Horses
  • Harry Potter
  • Book Lover (ahem…if ya’ll are looking for any last minute gift ideas for me…)

The list is endless!


Just like the list of topics you could cover, the list of items you could include in your experience box is endless! Like I mentioned above, I am going to center our boxes around books…but that is just me…I am a book nut! Some other items you could include are:

  • Movies
  • Games
  • Toys
  • Flashcards
  • Manipulatives
  • Stickers
  • Coloring Books
  • Gift Cards to visit a place that correlates with your topic
  • Craft supplies
  • Art supplies
  • Plush toys
  • More books (seriously, I can’t stop)
  • Magazine Subscription
  • Food
  • Clothes
  • Museum tickets or membership

My plan is to get a really nice storage box or basket to put everything in. I will individually wrap the items so that the kids aren’t done in 30 seconds…I love to make Christmas morning last as long as humanly possible!

Do you have any specific topics you would like to see me cover? Have you ever created an Experience Box for your kids? I am so excited to get started and would love to hear your thoughts!!


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Finding Florida, Uncategorized

A Picture Perfect Day at Naples Botanical Garden

Naples Botanical Garden photo collage

Last week we had the opportunity to do some exploring around Naples, Florida! If you ever get the chance to visit I highly recommend it! It is an absolutely gorgeous area with a TON of stuff to do! One of the top items on our list was a visit to the amazing Naples Botanical Garden! If you find yourself in the Naples area, The Naples Botanical Garden is a must see! It is fantastic!

The Naples Botanical Garden is one of the most gorgeous gardens I have ever had the pleasure of visiting! It is stunning! Situated on 170 acres, the Naples Botanical Garden is known as “Gardens with Latitude”. This refers to the fact that the gardens feature an amazing array of plants that grow between the 26th latitude North (where Naples is located) and the 26th latitude South. Some of the gardens featured are from Asia, Brazil,  the Caribbean, and of course Florida!

We strategically planned our visit on a Tuesday so that we could be there during one of their Dogs in the Garden days. We don’t have a dog…but my kids LOVE dogs! The gardens offer several times during the week when dogs are permitted. Check out the website for an up to date schedule of events!

Upon entering the garden you will immediately feel like you have stepped into a tropical oasis…it is beautiful. Armed with our map we headed straight for the Asian Gardens. For some reason I always tend to head left and move clockwise…I have no idea why! In hindsight I wish I had started at the Children’s Gardens…they were virually empty at that point and we could have done lots of exploring! Anyway…off to Asia!

The Asian Garden is beautiful…full of water features, ponds, temples, and ruins! It was a beautiful way to start our journey!Asian Garden Sign


Our next stop had to be one of my favorite spots in the entire garden. It was a very quiet day so we got to spend quite a bit of time just enjoying all of scenery. The Overlook has an amazing waterfall and looks out over the lake…it is breathtaking! There are loads of shady spots to sit and escape the Florida heat…which was such a relief on a scorching June day!

Oasis Waterfall
Beautiful Waterfall in the Overlook area
Scenic Overlook
Enjoying the beautiful view!!








We meandered back through the Asian Garden again and made our way toward the Water Garden. Again…crazy beautiful!!! Things were in bloom everywhere we looked. The greens and purples were so vibrant!

Water Garden Collage


One of the main focal points of the gardens lies within the Brazilian Gardens. A stunning waterfall. Words don’t do it justice so I will just leave a photo below for your enjoyment! Gorgeous isn’t it?

Naples Botanical Garden Waterfall

On to the Children’s Garden. I am sad to say that I didn’t get any pictures in there…not because it wasnt gorgeous as well…but we happened to arrive there at the same time as a summer camp and it was super busy. We meandered around a bit but ended up only staying a few minutes. They have tree houses, a water area where kiddos can cool off in the fountains, a rolling hill, and so much more! Also next to the Children’s Garden was the butterfly house which was absolutely gorgeous. We saw many species of butterfly.

We could have spent so much more time here! We already have a list put together for when we return in the future! There are a couple of trails around the lake we would like to check out…and a birding tower to climb! We would also like to check out the labyrinth and spend more time in the Children’s Garden! We also didnt get a chance to check out Fogg Cafe which looks like a great place to grab a bite and get a drink!

I highly recommend that anyone in the area take a few hours and visit the Naples Botanical Garden. The staff was so amazingly friendly, the grounds were beautifully maintained, and it was an awesome (and educational) way to spend the day!

Another awesome thing we noticed was that they had water fountains to drink from all over the place…not only for the two legged patrons, but for the four legged visitors as well. So awesome!

Water Fountain

Admission was $14.95 for adults and kid ages 4-14 were $9.95. We were able to find a coupon online as well so be sure to check that out!

The Naples Botanical Garden is located at: 4820 Bayshore Dr in Naples, FL

For more information head on over to:

Animals of the 7 Continents


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My Promise to ME…

self care, homeschool mom, happiness

A very wise friend once told me, “You can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first”.  I realize now, that she wasn’t just speaking in general terms…she was speaking directly to ME! She knew me well enough to know that I needed this reminder. She could see that as a homeschooling Mama of 3, I was SO focused on taking care of them, that I was neglecting myself.

Now, being who I am, I of course DID NOT take her advice. I listened. I listened and I didn’t forget her words…but I didn’t take her advice. It wasn’t until many months later that I realized that I needed to take this advice…not only for myself…but for my entire family. My focus had been so fixed on being a mom and a teacher that I had forgotten to do things to make myself happy! I was getting burned out. SO, I made a promise to ME, that I would start doing something for myself It didn’t have to be huge, but it would be something! And do you know what? It has made a world of difference!

So, what is it that makes me happy? Well, I am glad you asked! 🙂 I am such a visual person, that I decided I needed to create a visual list of things that bring me joy. You can create a journal page, a digital list, a vision board…anything that helps you keep tabs on your happiness!! I started out with a page in my journal…but my handwriting is terrible…so I converted it over to a pretty little image in Canva…anyone else obsessed with Canva???? So…here is my little list…it’s not huge…but it makes me feel GOOD! (ps…the act of making this list…SOO much happiness…I love being creative!)

Happy mom, self care, list

You will notice that some of these things aren’t huge, monumental, life changing tasks…but…they make ME SMILE! The simple act of drinking my coffee in the quiet without interruptions is HUGE! If I can start my day this way I am almost guaranteed to begin the day with a clear head. Those 10 minutes to wake up and get my brain centered and ready for the day can make the difference between a good day and a bad day.

You will also see that there are some Usborne related items on this list. Books bring me JOY! Being in a position to help other moms earn free books for their kiddos gives me more joy than I can even tell you. After we started homeschooling I let my book business take a back seat…and I missed it! I missed hosting Facebook parties. I missed introducing people to these amazing books and seeing their reactions when they got their hands on our books for the first time.

The act of writing this post and creating this blog has brought me so much happiness. I love to write…I always have. I can count on one hand the amount of times that I allowed myself the time to write since having my first child. I am SO excited to have created this time for ME. I am excited to see where it takes me.

So I have a challenge for YOU!!! I challenge you to create your own list! What makes YOU happy?? Once you have your list, I want you to put it somewhere that you will see it EVERY DAY! I want you to pick something…one thing…to do every day that is just for you. Something that will put a smile on your face and make you feel good! Please come back and share your list! I would LOVE to see it!!

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Coming Soon!!!

Homeschool By the Beach is a fun new site that focuses on an eclectic approach to home education. Join us as we discover amazing books, do hands on art projects, and go on adventures through our brand new home state of Florida. This site is under construction and will be up and running soon!!!

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