I SO believe that everybody has a story and message to share! This series features the story and secrets to success from women of all ages and stages. I always ask people a ton of questions in person and am super duper curious about how people got where they are, how they live life, what tips and tricks work for them and more. Each time I profile someone they'll be different questions (some the same)!
Next up, I'm excited to share the story of Ann Rodman. I've only met Ann a few times in person, but she's close friends with my sister-in-law and has known my husband's family for years and years! She's a small business owner, homeschooler, wife, Paleo lover and intentional mama. Wait until you read her tips for mama's, 3 things she can't live without, and more - so so good!!!!
Tell me about yourself:
Greetings! I’m Ann! I grew up in small town Wisconsin as an only child. I have always loved being active and creative. I was a swimmer growing up and received a swimming scholarship to attend Northern Illinois University where I studied to become a Family and Consumer Science Teacher and where I also met my husband. He was an athlete as well and we dated five years before getting married and had two children about five years later. I taught a little over ten years at Oswego High School in IL and a few years ago decided to stay home and now homeschool my daughter and have a small women’s accessory business (June & Jouett). My husband is a Police Commander at Northern Illinois University where he oversees 55 sworn officers. I am mom to Clara (6) and Jack (4 ½) – he would be mad if I didn’t add the ½ of course! I enjoy yoga and swimming, decorating, designing/creating jewelry and scarves, eating frozen custard, taking after-dinner walks with the family, dating my husband, and watching what my kids’ imaginations go wild during unstructured playtime. I despise shampooing the carpet, putting away laundry, weeding, brushing & flossing kids teeth, and sitting in traffic.
Click through to read more from Ann...
On Starting June & Jouett:
After staying home a year or two, my husband asked me if there is anything I had a passion to try in life. I mentioned to him that I just loved being in the atmosphere of craft fairs, flea markets, and farmers markets. Twice a year I get together with three of my best friends from high school. What a lovely (and much needed) tradition this has been over the years. We try to make it a habit to go to the Madison farmers market around Capitol Square each time we get together. Some of my favorite spots to stop are always the jewelry vendor tents. I told my husband, I would love to design vintage inspired jewelry and sell it at markets. He asked me why I don't do it. And my response was, I have no clue how to make jewelry! Very interesting I would have a passion to do something I had no clue about. So, a few months later, I signed up at our local junior community college for a 4 session community course on how to make jewelry. That's when the hard work began. Not only did I need to order all products I needed to make jewelry, but I had to design the jewelry, create displays for my jewelry, hire a graphic designer to create business cards, etc. Much goes into starting a small business! But I was motivated and enjoyed every minute of it. Believe it or not, the hardest part was naming my business. I finally settled on June and Jouett. June was my grandmother's first name and is my daughter's middle name. Jouett (pronounced jewit) is my son's middle name and THE ACTUAL historical Jack Jouett is the Paul Revere of the south and happens to me my husband's grandfather eight times removed. The Jouett name is very cherished in the Rodman family.
Stop on by and check out some of what I create!
Every parent has to make that decision for their kids; will they go to public school, parochial school, private school, home school, etc. In our conversations we thought parochial school (due to it's biblical base) would fit our family desires, but since I was staying at home now, sending 2 kids to a private school would be really stretching our budget and financial goals in life. My husband was actually the one that presented home schooling as an option to me. After much thought, conversations, research, and prayer we decided to try it out last year with Clara for Kindergarten. Wow! How cool it was to get to spend that time with her, and TEACH HER TO READ (and add, subtract, you know, all that stuff, but teaching her to read was just so cool to watch)! It was such a fun journey to walk alongside her through. Unforgettable and will be forever cherished. This year I will be on my second year homeschooling Clara (in 1st grade this year).
Both of our children have attended outdoor, nature preschools. Jack will actually be in his second year now and we all very much loved the natural aspect of the preschool they attended and agree with the philosophy that kids need to develop a desire for discovery and experimentation. Nature provides that in abundance! We want our kids to develop a love for learning (like any parents do) but often times a traditional classroom setting hinders that.
We also wanted our kids to hear biblical messages throughout the day. The opportunities for character, academic, spiritual, social, and family time are awesome. It's too easy to get caught up in the business of this world, i.e. work, running a household, transitions getting out the door, running from one activity to the other, it's endless. It just gets busier as kids get older and are attending school and you are fitting in activities/sports at night! My kids are still young, I can't imagine what Jr. High. and High School will look like! Time passes quickly and we want to spend time as a family together and eat dinners together. I can't imagine what it would be like picking my kids up from school and running from one activity to the next. Then eating dinner at 7pm or later (that's a lot of crock pot meals or drive-thru’s!) And I'm not sure at this point if 3 hours is enough time to be with my kids each day.
Also, we want our kids to learn and not be pushed to move on before the learning happens and to be able to just move on when our child understands the information. Homeschoolers typically rate 37 percentage points higher than public school students. The average homeschooled 8th grade student performs four grade levels above national average (Rudner study). At home I can make sure we have a mastery of subjects, go at the right pace for Clara, and have one-on-one teaching, and I can tailor my curriculum to her needs.
I was a little worried about the social aspect of our decision early one but being such a social being myself; I jumped right into Meetup groups, Facebook groups and a couple homeschool co-ops! Let's just say Clara's kindergarten year last year was my year of OVER socialization. Now that I have a year under my belt I was able to evaluate what worked and what didn't. We will be participating in one co-op this year only (where Clara's best friend attends as well) and occasionally host or attend Homeschool Meet-ups. I read this article by Manfred B Zyskthis that really hit home with me: "Go to your local middle school or high school, walk down the hallways and tell me which behavior you see that you think our son or daughter should emulate." I couldn't help but laugh since just a couple years ago I spent most of my days walking down those hallways and observing those behaviors (oh, and the really, really short shorts, too, lol). Boston Magazine had an article recently and one homeschool parent stated "In the real world, you wouldn't be stuck in a room with people all the same ages with one person directing them." It brought about many memories from last year at the retirement home, forest preserves, farms, and even many businesses we got to tour and learn more about like the veterinary clinic. It's just so fun to field trip it in a time where many public schools can't afford that. I want my kids interacting, comfortably and politely, with ALL age groups, and introducing them to it frequently at this age can only make that happen better.
I can't say that every minute is rainbows and sunshine, please, I still have a 4-year-old boy that likes to pull his sisters pigtails. And Clara is not excited about every topic covered but I will say the variety of curriculum I use does make it very inviting for the most part. But, when Clara gets frustrated or I can tell we (and often times by “we” I mean “I”) need a break, we just take one. I also can't say I will home school both children for the next 13 years either. Right now I love the philosophy of taking it one year at a time. Each individual child ticks differently. I was very active and social in High School and there is part of me that really desires that for my kids also (if they desire that, of course). So, as it stands, one year at a time!!!
On Non-Repetitive Table Prayers:
I grew up repeating 2 or 3 of the same dinner prayers every night. i.e. "Come Lord Jesus, be our Guest, may this food to us be blessed." Although those are sweet and cute coming out in that high-pitched toddler voice, I find them to be too routine and the children don't even need to think about what the prayer even means over time. So, we have never found that acceptable at our table. I find much more pleasure and thoughtfulness coming from my children's sweet voices when they pray freely each meal. Thanking God for different people in their lives, things they do or have done, and praying for those that might be sick or going through situations their little mind they might think are difficult. We started by modeling this before they could talk of course and the benefits are heart warming.
On Random Acts of Kindness Day:
A couple times a year we head to the store and buy cookies, a bunch of flowers we divide up in small vases from Goodwill, and make cards. We then deliver these to local businesses (library, police station, fire station, post office, salon, etc.) and thank them for all they do to make our lives better. Often times we are invited in for a back door tour (even including one time a full suit up of fireman gear!). It makes me cry every time heading back to my car after my kids hand them all the goodies and in some cases it is noticeably obvious that we just made their day. One postal worker that had pulled up to a business to deliver mail told us just that! It's just so fulfilling to brighten peoples days. As the kids grow older I would like to teach them to do this without even letting the people see who did something nice for them. I think at this age it is good for them to see what an effect it can have on them though.
Almost exactly one year ago my husband and I decided to try our hand at eating Paleo. We were both feeling low on energy and have NEVER been ones to really pay attention to what we put in our mouths. I could seriously go throughout a day at home and graze on lots of little snacks without even thinking twice about what, when, and how much I ate. Now that's a bit hard to admit and I was feeling very stressed last September starting this new way of eating (AND NEW WAY OF COOKING), starting my first year homeschooling my daughter, and it just so happens to be my husbands busiest time of year at work. There were days I thought I would go crazy in that first month. We started out VERY strict. And I think that was what paid off the most. We felt tons more energy (no afternoon lull), didn't feel that overstuffed feeling after dinner, and my husband lost around 20 lbs. We both felt stronger and lighter in general really. We hit it pretty hard for about the first 3-4 months and then worked in a pizza night every few weeks. This summer has been more difficult for sure with vacations, a girl’s weekend, and those ice cream shop visits that are just NEEDED now and then!! Ha! I would say right now we try to eat as Paleo as much as possible while also giving ourselves some grace. We stay clear of carbs, eat little sugar, and very little dairy.
A typical day in our Paleo lifestyle looks something like this:
Eggs (we eat alot of eggs within the week) & bacon or sausage
Ham cups (line your muffin cups with a slice of ham and crack an egg in it, salt, pepper and bake)
Mixed nuts and dried fruit with berries and bananas in coconut milk (aka Paleo cereal)
A salad or lettuce wraps
NUTS! LOTS OF NUTS!!! Fruit, carrots dipped in guac, plantain chips dipped in no sugar salsa, etc.
Dinner (a few examples):
Buffalo Chicken and Cauliflower Bake (My husbands favorite meal)
Spaghetti with Spaghetti squash instead of noodles
Paleo Sheppard's pie with sweet potatoes instead of mashed
Almond flour crust paleo pizza
Paleo Zuppa Toscana soup (again with sweet potatoes as a substitute)
Three products Ann can't live without:
1. The Voice Text feature on my phone. Ha! I am one of those annoying people that finds it to be such a waste of time to type a text or a lot of times even an email. In fact, I voice texted at least half of this interview into an email and sent it to myself to merge with the rest I typed later. I even use it to put groceries on my grocery list! I'm willing to live with auto correct mishaps once in a while...after all, you get them when you hand type as well anyway!
2. My Norwex Enviro Towel. This towel is amazing! I use it to dust, wipe counters, mirrors, windows, appliances (I have one of those shiny fridges that show every adult and child's hand print that gets even an inch from the fridge). I follow up on the shiny surfaces with the Norwex window cloth that I love as well! What’s best about their products is that most of them have a BacLock system. They use micro silver that when the cloth gets wet has self-purification properties against mold, fungi, and bacterial odor. I'm telling you, all you have to use is water with these cloths (no soap or harsh chemicals) and it leaves your surfaces free from everything - cleaned, polished and streak-free. (I know I sound like I sell the stuff but I don't, I just LOVE my Norwex cloths) I also use their floor mop system, kitchen towels and body & face towels as well.
3. Crystal Rock Deodorant. So I used to be one of those Clinical Strength kinda girls. I was always worried about how I smelt and actually not as worried about sweating. Looking back, I'm not sure why I thought I needed Clinical Strength for smell but I always felt like my body would get used to the anti-perspirant and then I had to switch brands or scents. I am happy to say I am anti perspirant and deodorant free. AND I DO NOT STINK! I have made my husband do the sniff test may a time since I have switched over to the crystal deodorant (mostly because it's hard not to be skeptical with something like that). There are many brands out on the market but they all work the same. These rocks are made of mineral salts, too large for the body to absorb. They are NOT anti-perspirant, of course, and that's OK because your body is SUPPOSED to sweat. The difference is that you WILL NOT SMELL (lasts 24 hrs). All you do is wet the stone and I apply twice right after my shower. I've got to give a shout out to all my girlfriends that have experimented with dozens of natural deodorants and I'm happy to say THIS is the solution. And get this, a rock lasts at least a year and it only cost me $13!!! WAY less than my Clinical Strength that had all the aluminum and other junk in it!
What are your favorite tips and tricks for mamas?
I love this question! I've always thought it would have been nice to be handed a great list of mama tips when leaving the hospital. I mean USEFUL tips. Here are a few of my tops, mostly regarding saving TIME because really that's what we want more of, right?
1. Give each person in the family their own medium sized mesh lingerie bag. (Not for lingerie) this bag gets set next to the laundry basket in the closet and all undies and socks go in there. Kids are of course are responsible for this themselves!! Zip it up and throw the bag in with that load of laundry (I usually wash both kids clothes in one load). When the laundry comes out its much easier for each kid to pair their socks and fold them:)
2. Now, the whole family needs to be on board to make this work...this might be silly but it seems most don't use this simple system. Organize your dishwasher as dishes go in. Now I know this is not as easy with all your dishes but silverware should be a piece of cake. Forks in one basket section, knives in another, etc. duuuhhh, then when the dishes are washed you just pick the group up together and put the handful in its place in the cutlery tray. Seems simple to me, and has actually made the dreaded task of emptying the dishwasher much more bearable.
3. The kids on board helping out around the house as soon as possible. I love the Proverb 22:6 - Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it." Although it is hard work training your child at a young age, I think it pays off in the end. (I will admit "I am not at the end yet" but I'm going to trust this Bible verse;)) I think your kids helping around the house benefits your family in many ways. First of all, it teaches your children responsibility. There are some tasks that are just family expectations such as making your bed and rinsing your dishes and putting them in the dishwasher after a meal. Other than the normal expectations, my six and four-year-old have chores around the house. Some of these include, taking the garbage out, getting the mail in, folding their clothing, putting their clothes away in the drawers, cleaning windows, helping to wash the car, dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the toilet (believe it or not that's my son's favorite!) These are chores they get paid for and we call it their commission: work=money. (We decided against an allowance system because we felt that it implies that the child is "allowed" and amount of money just for living and breathing!) Goal for us is for them to start understanding the connection between work and money. We are attempting to instill a strong work ethic to an early age, giving them a taste of the pride and self-worth that comes from a job well done. Our hope is that they will grow up to be motivated, driven, and hard-working adults. We love seeing the kids eyes light up when they get to hand their hard earned cash (all one dollar bills of course ;)) over to the Target cashier to purchase a toy they had been saving up for. It's also great to have their cash on hand when they're begging for that princess Chapstick at the checkout aisle! I should also note here that they have three different jars that they keep their money in. A Give jar, Save jar, and a Spend jar. They tithe into the give jar to bring to church, save for their goal toy, and the money in the spend jar gets used for things like the impulse buys in the checkout line.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I guess all I’d like to add, beyond the long-winded answers to these questions, is that life is never how it appears on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram. I, like everyone else, post the “happy” moments. We are not going to go into detail about all the everyday struggles we have or the number of time-outs we gave our kids that day. OF COURSE my life is NOT perfect. I was able to reflect on some joys in life during this interview and what a fun little “mini-documentation” this has been of my life in my mid-30’s! Yes, our family has been through our share of struggles, like my mom being diagnosed with cancer a few years ago (in remission, thankfully) and my husband’s brother going through a divorce with an 8-year-old in the mix. And, yes, I do sometimes lose my cool when my kids are acting up or I let something silly my husband says to me build up. But, I am thankful for God, my family, and my friends who listen to me when I need advice, to talk, or just comfort. You never know what’s around the bend, as much as I’ve tried to prepare for it in life, it still catch’s me by surprise. I sure would never have guessed I’d be typing these answers above ten years ago. But, life sure is good. I have much to be thankful for.