Sue's Happy Thoughts

Just over here blogginn' some of my happy thoughts on LIFE, HOMESCHOOLING, HOME DECOR and more!

Don't miss a post.

I know, It's so easy to open the Amazon app on your phone and find pretty much whatever you're looking for, and around the holiday season it's tempting to knock off a whole list of Christmas gifts in one fell swoop, giving all my money to poor, poor Jeff Bezos.

This year, I'm encouraging you (and myself more than ever) to shop small with intention.

I could give you facts and figures about just how much money goes back into the community when you spend your dollars at a small business.

I could tell you that when you make a purchase from a small business, you literally make someone's day, filling them with gratitude that you chose to spend your hard earned money on their jewelry, candles, artwork, etc.

I could tell you that purchasing from small businesses means better products with better customer service.

More than any of that, although those are ALWAYS fantastic reasons to shop small, this year has been the fight of a lifetime for small businesses. Many deemed "non-essential", locked down, scrambled to work on websites, curbside pick up or make shift drive thrus... events cancelled, accounts lost, products and artwork sitting without a way to get it in front of customers. The word I keep hearing from small shop owners is "pivot." Changing course and direction again and again to just keep the business alive til that light at the end of the tunnel: holiday shopping season.

So, for the shops that have struggled for survival, let's be intentional with our shopping lists this year. Let's purpose to support the shops on main street, the little church craft fairs, the Etsy shops and the local boutique or coffee shop you heard about a town over.

I'd love to share a few shops with you, and please leave a link in the comments to a small shop YOU love! Because the next best thing to supporting a shop with your dollar, is supporting through spreading the word about how awesome they are!

Evensong Baby Books creates beautiful gospel-centered baby books to help you on your way to raising your littles to love their savior.

The perfect gifts for the smallest people in your life.

Shop owner, Karina, of Charlotte and Parker, strives to make her shop a reflection of the love that family fills her life with.

Shop her inspired line of apparel and accessories!

Naomi Paper Co. creates paper goods lettered by hand to represent God's Word for what it is: beautiful & true.

Shop a wide variety of products, including arts prints, greeting cards, calendars, planners and more.

From Beth, owner of Weepereas -

"The love of handmade + need to create has always been ever present. As a young adult, I enjoyed making upcycled clothing to sell at music festival markets. Upon entering Motherhood, my desire to create modern children's items while staying sustainable took a fresh, new approach.

In 2008, Weepereas was started : Little things for Little Ones. 

All of my patterns are created by myself, and the fabric designs are from independent designers and printed in North Carolina & New York. The organic velour mocc lining is milled in Pennsylvania. All of the products in my shop are made by myself and one other seamstress out of my studio in Wisconsin. USA made, and proud of it!"

The Daily Grace Co. is a business that has grown larger than the others on my list, but certainly still a great resource for gifts this season.

"We believe that the Bible is true, trustworthy, and timeless. Because of this, we seek to create resources to help women know and love God's Word. We believe that God's Word is about God. It shows us who He is. Who He is changes everything and it changes us."

Here's to 2020, a year to spend our time, money, and even social media habits with purpose and intention!

enough: as much or as many as required

It’s the summer of 2020 and I’ve suddenly found myself fielding more questions about homeschooling than ever before. With decisions looming for the fall, some people are looking for answers, advice and encouragement regarding the option of homeschooling.

My husband is the oldest of seven siblings, all home schooled through high school, so we are a second generation home school family. This fall, we’ll have a senior in the house!

As her mom and teacher the past 12 years, graduation will be such a huge accomplishment for both of us. She will complete this season of her life and I will have my first graduate , with two more siblings close behind.

The biggest myth I’ve heard from moms over the years regarding homeschooling is this:

“I could NEVER do it!”


Moms (and Dads and Grandparents, etc): You absolutely can if you want to.

Don’t let a feeling of inadequacy be a factor as you weigh schooling options for the fall.

We all feel a little helpless as new parents, right? We struggle through figuring out diapers and naps and feeding schedules and baby baths and so much more, but we LOVE these kids and we just have to do our best. And you know what? You’re doing a great job!

They’re alive, they’re safe, and they’re loved.

Homeschooling can seem just as overwhelming; stepping into the unknown, feeling unqualified, filled with the risk of screwing up and just not being enough for your child.

Spoiler alert: You are enough.

There is an abundance of resources, a thriving community to support you, and the honest truth is that no one knows, loves and sees your kids quite like you do.

Reflecting on our years of living this homeschooling lifestyle, I’ve come to the realization that this is simply an intentional extension of parenting. It has blended into our lives in such a way that means we never stop teaching and learning, guiding and growing. We don’t pause parenting to put on our “teacher hat.” We instruct our kids in strength of character and life skills alongside algebra and geography.

“But, I’m just not patient enough.”

If you’ve survived newborn sleepless nights and toddler tantrums, I promise that you are capable of long division as well. The best part of all is that in the comfort of your own home, you AND your kids have the opportunity to take breaks to snuggle, pray, have a snack, take a walk and come back to a challenge with a fresh start.

Trust me, you’ve got this!

Homeschooling 2020 Crash Course:

So you’re looking at homeschooling this year and you’re thinking “where do I even start?!”

First, find your state laws and requirements. They’re all slightly different and you need to know the specifics for your own state.

HSLDA (Home School Legal Defense Association) is a great place to start:

You have options regarding just how to meet those requirements.


There is most likely a public school in your area that provides virtual school. This is not the emergency online school that frustrated many parents. It’s technically not homeschooling, although it is a great home based educational choice if you view this as a temporary situation, intending to rejoin in-person instruction when there is more stability in a year or two.


There are several out there in the world of the internet and I admit I’m not very familiar with any myself, but if you’re looking for a program that provides everything you need, including the teaching itself, this may be a good choice for your family.

Here’s an example of a popular program:


This option contains a vast array of different styles to choose from. If you were to walk into the homes of a handful of homeschooling families across the country you might find one family using textbooks, learning Latin, you might find another diving into original stories and documents (called living books), or another family working on a creative art project or DIY home renovation project together. You could certainly find some families doing all three.

I recently was looking through the different types of educational styles and realized that we are most aligned with something called “unschooling.” I admit, for a long time I heard this term and had visions of barefoot children running through fields, collecting bugs and never cracking open an Algebra textbook. Oh how silly I was for that perception based purely on the term itself!

Unschooling is simply self-directed learning. It means as a parent, I have always had the goal of teaching my kids HOW to learn, and sharing with them a LOVE for learning. With three kids, they all have different interests. My son has always been fascinated by animals. Much of his science in grade school was pointed in this direction. One of my daughters begged to take a marine biology course. Her sister begged not to! She'll be taking an astronomy course this year instead.

The beauty of homeschooling is in the flexibility, the opportunity to customize an education based on the personality and interests of our children. As a parent, yes, I decide that they need to learn to read, but then I look at each individual child and choose books and stories for them that I know will engage them, challenge them, delight them. So many times I have heard, “This book looks so boring!” as they crack open the cover… but then “this is my favorite book!” follows chapters later. No everything is CHOSEN by my child, but it was chosen specifically with that child in mind.

As a homeschooling parent, I have the awesome privilege of guiding my children’s education, helping them discover and explore new interests. This is especially excited in their high school years, as they ponder possible career paths. We have the unique ability in setting them on an educational trajectory toward their future.

Here’s an excellent resource on different homeschooling philosophies and more:

Whatever you choose for your family, know that there is a whole community here to support you. Most states have homeschooling associations you can join and many cities and churches have

co-ops, an opportunity to gather with other families for field trips, classes and community.


Teaching Textbooks – self grading math from 3rd grade to Pre-Calculus

Apologia Science – interest based elementary age studies, high school level Chemistry, Biology and more

Heart of Dakota – all in one curriculum with daily lessons pre-planned for parents

Mystery of History – an easy to read textbook with timelines and hands-on activities

Constitutional Literacy – high school level course created by Dr. Michael Farris, founder and chancellor of Patrick Henry College and chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association

Evan-Moor – language arts for elementary age students

Universal Yum Box – okay, it’s not a curriculum but it’s delicious. We love tasty addition to our geography studies!

CodaKid - online coding for kids of all ages

Gospel of Mark- This was a great series to work through with my teens. We slowed it down to last much longer than the intended 11 weeks.

I’m spoiled. It’s true! I live within 10 minutes of at least 5 different frozen custard spots. It’s no surprise really, once you know that Milwaukee’s claim to fame is that we are the custard capital of the world. Is the claim valid? I can’t say for certain, but we’re definitely not in short supply around here and I try not to take it for granted because a great frozen custard place can be hard to find when we travel around the country.

Visiting Milwaukee soon? Here’s my personal list of the best spots in town!

Leon's -This Milwaukee staple has been in business since 1942. Don't miss out while you're in town.

Big Deal Burgers and Custard- Across from State Fair park in West Allis, we always get a half gallon to take home!

Gilles - The oldest custard stand in Milwaukee, Gilles first opened in 1938!

Oscars - 3 great locations in the area, grab a coupon from their website before you go!

Kopps - multiple locations, but the vibe with the waterfall and lighting at their Greenfield restaurant is my favorite on a summer night!

Culver’s - These are popping up all over the place now, make sure to check your kid's meal bag for a free scoop!

Do you have a favorite frozen custard spot near you? Please share in the comments!