Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dear First Year Homeschool Mom

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The journey into homeschooling was overwhelming. My first year as a homeschool mother I was so unsure of myself. I purposed to take note of what worked and what didn't so that I could share it with other mothers. At the end of my first year, I compiled the list below. They are the words of advice I would have shared with myself. Today, as we are completing our second year, these words still ring true.

- Find a homeschooling mother whose parenting practices you admire and pick her brain.
Find out what her routine is and what works for her homeschooling family. Perhaps even curriculum ideas and especially good read aloud books.

- Think only about the grade you'll be teaching and the one directly after that.
For me it was kindergarten and first grade. Anything beyond that and I was quickly overwhelmed. But it was also helpful to know what to expect we would be covering in first grade so that I didn't try to do too much in kindergarten.

- Spend as much time creating activities for younger siblings as you do on choosing curriculum for students.
Keeping my babies occupied while doing school with Marin was a learning curve, but busy bag activities were so helpful.

- Homeschooling is like any other new stage of parenting.
It's just a matter of finding the groove.

- Read "A homeschool day in the life of" blog posts on Simple Homeschool.
This helped me to find families and scenarios that were similar to my own and gain philosophies and ideas that I could try out. Finding other work-from-home mothers was invaluable.

- Attend a homeschool convention to look for others just like you.
It's good to know you're not alone.

- Schedule based on what's best for your family. Not based on pressure from others.

- Borrow books.
I purchased most of the supplemental reading books for history and looking back I could have borrowed so many of them. Borrowing lets you know what books are worth buying for your personal education library.

- Trust your gut.
You've taught them everything they know so far. It's a natural process.

- You are imperfect and there will be moments you struggle with feelings of failure.
Call on God. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.

Blessings on your journey!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Logo Design: Loving Arms Family Support

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My mother is a board certified lactation consultant, and an R.N. who LOVES working with moms and babies. I was honored to help her design a logo that reflects her passion and skills. She owns and loves this statue of the holy family and wanted to incorporate it into her logo. What I settled on, I hope evokes the same emotion and tenderness but in a clean, modern way.
It wouldn't be right if I didn't include my sketch.Yes, I do sketches for parties AND logo design. Pay no attention to that weird flower family in the top right corner (grin).
 Learn more about Loving Arms Family Support by visiting her facebook page.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Strawberry Girl

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Growing up my mother read aloud to us daily. It's something I remember with fondness about my childhood. She's good at reading aloud and when I asked her to read Strawberry Girl (by Lois Lenski) to my girls, she enthusiastically said yes. During most of March they read a little here and a little there. When they finished and I asked Marin what was one thing she remembered about the story she said "The father was bad. He didn't give money to his wife and spent it all instead. We planted Strawberry plants after reading this story." She's right about the dad and about planting strawberries. That's my mom for you. She is more than willing to share the gift of reading with her granddaughters AND she looks for any opportunity to incorporate nature. She thought the girls would enjoy growing their own strawberries and showed up at the back door with six plants and invited the girls to plant them with her. Below are the plants (in May) with their beautiful pink blossoms and a hand full of the harvest. Thank you, Mom.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Porch Lights Restored

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 I purchased a set of vintage Phil Hinkley & Co. light fixtures from Midland Theory on Etsy for our back porch, in June, of last year. I had been searching for just the right fixtures, looking for period accuracy and something that mimicked what we already have on the house AND was a set. These were just the ticket. However, one of the lights was damaged during shipping and I had to contact the seller. We corresponded a bit and I promised to send her pictures of the lights when they were restored and hung. That's when I realized that it took me a YEAR to finish this project! Have I mentioned how slow we are?

First we had to repair the broken light (gratefully the glass was intact) I stripped the lights down to the original brass using steel wool, dismantled them, cleaned them, primed them, put two coats of black paint, rewired them with new sockets and bought new screw covers for the tops that were missing. Steven used his mad wiring skills and ran the electricity and hung them outside.

I love old light fixtures. Have I mentioned that before? Now searching for a vintage light for the back door.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

North Porch Sangria

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Krystina’s North Porch Sangria
3 lemons
3 oranges
3 limes
Strawberries
2 peaches
1-2 kiwi
1 fresh pineapple
½ cup raw turbinado cane sugar
½ cup water
1 750-milliliter bottle dry red or white wine chilled
1 bottle Sprite
1-2 cups brandy (depending on taste)

Cut one lemon and one orange into wedges. Placed half of the wedges from the lemon and orange in a sauce pan; set aside remaining slices. Cut remaining fruit in wedges, slices or cubes for inclusion in the final mixture.

For syrup, add the sugar and ½ cup water to the saucepan. Add one to two strawberries and slices from a peach.  Bring to boiling. Stirring till sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; cool for 30 minutes (or until fruit is cool enough to handle). Squeeze juice from cooked fruit into the syrup. Discard cooked fruit. Strain syrup mixture to remove seeds if desired. Pulp is okay.

In a pitcher or large jar combine remaining fruit slices, syrup, wine, sprite and brandy. Squeeze some of the citric fruit to release fruit flavor. Chill for at least 2-3 hours. Serve over Sonic ice.


Friday, May 9, 2014

Sweet Potato Farmers

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It all started when we had open spots in our square foot garden. I casually mentioned it would be fun to grow sweet potatoes and the next day Steven put a spud in a jar of water. On April 17 we had our first sign of success. We had NO CLUE what we were getting ourselves into...
It took 17 days for that little sprout to produce these slips.
Three days later the slips were broken off and placed into water to sprout their own roots.
Once we realized that we might actually have viable sweet potato slips, we decided to read about growing them. That lead to us having to build a separate box just for potatoes.
Did I say us? I meant Steven. I've started calling him my Potato Farmer.
Slips are in the ground. Now we wait until September to harvest.
Once we harvest they'll have to season for another six weeks. There's no getting in a hurry when it comes to sweet potatoes. Having lived in this old house for over 10 years, we're getting pretty good at patience.
Now to find something else to fill the empty spaces in our square foot garden.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Easter Tradition - Family Foot Washing

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We began a new Easter tradition this year: A Family Foot Washing.
As the girls get older the more I realize the importance of sharing with them the beauty of Easter that lies beyond the eggs and bunnies. I want them to see the beauty of God's love for them in Jesus. What better than the story of Jesus washing his disciples feet the night he was betrayed?

We began the evening by reading "The Servant King" from the Jesus Storybook Bible.
"One by one, Jesus washed everyone's feet. 'I am doing this because I love you.' Jesus explained.
'Do this for each other.'"
So we did.

To help things go smoothly I took two cups. On one I wrote "Dirty Feet" and on the other I wrote "Washer." I placed a piece of paper with each of our names into both cups. Then we drew one name from each cup and each person had the chance to wash and be washed. It was a simple foot tub with warm water and essential oils with a towel nearby for drying.
As we washed each others feet we said these words:
"Like Jesus, we will offer humble, joyful, loving service."

There was such a beautiful and tender intimacy between all of us. I guess it was due to the focused attention to the person being served and the nature of lovingly washing someones' feet.

The girls LOVED it. 

We closed with this prayer:
O Jesus, in this Holy Week you prayed
that we would love one another
as you have loved us.
Tonight we have tried to practice what you have taught us!
Let the love, joy and humility
we have known here with our family
continue to bless us,
and let us share that blessing with world
you love and gave your life for.
May the peace we feel together in this place
Point us toward the hope of Easter.

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