Change

It happens from time to time.  A shift in focus, a new direction, the tugs from other parts of my life.  Time is needed elsewhere, writing takes a backseat.

And so again, this place must rest.

I have been busy with pursuits both old and new: nourishing a marriage, feeding and homeschooling children, tending friendships.  And art.  The joyful blooming of a passion from my childhood.

I will be back.  My six years of off-again-on-again blogging have taught me that I can’t end it completely.  I’m planning an Etsy shop of work by the new year, so be on the lookout for exciting developments!  This home stretch to forty has inspired me to reach higher and farther for dreams than ever before.

I am most active on Instagram.  I’d love to connect there if we haven’t already!  Find me: @FruitNSeason.

Until then, friends, I wish you the most vibrant of journeys, abundant blessings, love and grace to spare.

Are we like the sparrows?

house sparrow

I tried to like them.  I wanted to give them the benefit of the doubt.  Maybe no one liked them because they weren’t as pretty as the others, or because they were so common.

So I gave these little birds a fair shake.  Three years worth of fair shakes, actually.  I defended them a bit, studied up on them and yet, I ended up not liking them in the end.

These house sparrows, with their loud chatter and obsessive territorial behavior, proved themselves to be just what everyone had said: pests.

The thought that I can’t escape, that keeps nagging at me as I think about these noisy little birds, is that we Christians are often just like them.  Instead of being known by our love, we are often known for being noisy, negative, and possessive.  In the eyes of many, we are the community of “shoulds” and “shall nots”, instead of the community of Grace.  I include myself in this, of course.  My finger is firmly pointed my own way.

I don’t think there’s an easy way to be both truly loving and still share truth.  Our attempts come across as judgmental and conditional.  And aren’t they?  Jesus, being fully man and fully God, is the only one to ever truly love unconditionally and still share the truth.  Because He is truth.

So why can’t we just share Him?

Without the rules, without the loud, judgmental chatter, without the add-ons.  Become known as a community that loves.  Period.  If we know Truth as a person, we don’t need to argue and defend, just introduce.  And if we disagree with our fellow Christians on matters small or even not-so-small, isn’t it more important to show grace on the inside of our community than to judge and try to convince?

Each morning I hear the obnoxious chatter outside my window, and every spring I see the sparrows chase away yet another pleasantly-settled family of birds from our birdhouse and I sigh.  I wonder if I’m perceived like that, and the thought saddens me.

So today, this week, this month, I purpose to be the one who loves.  Even if I disagree.  Even if I am afraid.  Even if it’s not popular.  Even if it’s hard.

Because the more I read Jesus’ words and actions, the less I find a rulebook.  And the more and more real Grace becomes.

 

Photo credit: Evan Finkle

Kids and Chores {Reassigning tasks each year}

Kids and Chores

Each year I reassign chores and recreate chore charts for my children.  My kids are now 12, 9, 6, and 5, and can adequately complete many of the tasks around the house with, if not ease, at least some measure of success.

Appropriate Chore Routines

I get the same kinds of complaints that I think most moms get when expectations change and/or increase and the schedule becomes more structured once again.  I long ago stopped taking it personally and recognized that, particularly with some children, chores are never going to be a welcome part of the day.  Routine, structure, and consistency go a long way toward fostering acceptance of duties and good attitudes in the home. (And I don’t just mean the kids!)

There are some times I slack off in my intentional training, or monitoring of the chores- I am human too, after all, and not the most fabulous housekeeper.  But there are also some days that our chore time runs like a well-oiled machine and I realize again the benefits of this teamwork mindset that we try to instill in our children.

Chores for multiple ages

In our home, these are the chore assignments that will remain throughout the year.  I’ve starred the chores that are new to each child.

Zachary (5) 

  • Clean room- including dusting, straightening, organizing, making bed, sorting laundry
  • Put away laundry
  • Empty the dishwasher- every other day
  • Clean sink, counter, and mirror in downstairs bathroom*- we have the children use baby wipes and homemade glass cleaner
  • Organize shoes- in laundry room and foyer
  • Kitchen helper*- this is a new role I created this year.  In the past the children took turns setting the table each day, but I’m going to extend this chore to include other kitchen tasks of cleaning, prepping, and cooking.  This is an area in which I often have a hard time releasing control.

Elliot (6)

  • Clean room- including straightening, organizing, emptying garbage, making bed
  • Put away laundry
  • Empty dishwasher- every other day
  • Clean sink, counter, and mirror in upstairs bathroom
  • Organize all bookshelves*
  • Kitchen helper*- see above

Maddy (9)

  • Clean room- including dusting, straightening, organizing, vacuuming, emptying garbage, making bed
  • Clean downstairs bathroom*- toilet, baseboard, floor, empty garbage
  • Dust- living room, foyer
  • Fill dishwasher- every other day
  • Sweep*- twice weekly
  • Sort, wash, dry, fold and put away own laundry
  • Prepare breakfast*- twice weekly
  • Clean microwave*- weekly
  • Kitchen helper*

Colin (12)

  • Clean room- see above
  • Clean upstairs bathroom- tub, floor, empty garbage, toilet
  • Vacuum- living room, kitchen rug, playroom, stairs, foyer
  • Fill dishwasher- every other day
  • Sweep*- twice weekly
  • Sort, wash, dry, fold, put away own laundry
  • Prepare breakfast*- twice weekly
  • Bring garbage cans to curb and back*- once weekly
  • Kitchen helper*

I fully admit that I am often a barrier to things going smoothly.  It’s taken a lot of intentionality on my part to keep the chore-wheel turning, including making sure to lower my expectations of how well the tasks get done while still communicating a desire for my children to always do their best.  But with the goal of self-confident and independent children who don’t bring their laundry home and drop it at my feet when they’re in college, I keep plugging away!

Here are some more chore links for your reading enjoyment:

What chores do your kids do?  How often do you promote them to new and more difficult chores?

 

Interesting places and exciting happenings {Lots of Links}

There has been so much going on around the internet lately and I’ve been collecting great things to read, research, and do.  Here are some things you might be interested in!

Homeschool Links

Artsy Links

Lisa Congdon lettering

Lisa Congdon- artist {click for link to her site}

  • I have been pinning on my Art Journaling and Art boards on Pinterest lately, loving the beauty that can be found all around the web.
  • Kris writes, “What if God calls us to an art purely for His pleasure, and not for the stamp of approval of the world–will we own it?” in her Five-Minute Friday post today.
  • One of my favorite online finds this week is this post by Alisa Burke about her entire sketching process.  It includes materials, techniques, and loads of pictures!
  • I have a significant addiction slight problem with art books, especially art journaling or sketching books, lately.  This list is not doing anything to help said problem, but it does give me lots to drool over!
  • I have always had a love affair with color.  I am a woman of drama and boldness, and tend toward color imagery in my life and work.  I loved this personality color test.  Go take it (it’s very brief) and come back to tell me what your color is in the comments.  Make sure you follow the directions and don’t over think it!

Important Links

Beautiful Links

Exciting deal coming next week!

iHomeschoolNetwork ebook bundle

Don’t forget to pop back in next Tuesday as this amazing deal begins!

 

 A New Feature

Those of you who have been connecting with me here for a while, or are following me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, know that I have become infatuated with art journaling.  The artistic process has met a deep need in my life, brought me back to the creativity of my childhood, and helped me to cope with stress and depression.  I have come to recognize how crucial it is for those of us with a creative spirit to have an artistic outlet and I want to encourage that in other moms, and especially homeschoolers, who feel that they can’t take any time for themselves.

I will be starting a weekly feature on my blog in September.  Yay!  Every Thursday I will post either some artwork of my own, how-to’s, informational posts, or guest posts by others who are prioritizing the creative in their lives.  Make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything!

Follow Your Passion

Friendship: embracing the uncomfortable

I’ve written quite a bit on friendship this past year.  It’s been an intentional goal of mine: to learn to be real and true, and to break apart the walls of perfectionism and the desire to keep masks covering the fact of my messiness.  I’ve had lots of time to practice these things, to be uncomfortable, to ask for forgiveness, to share and put myself in vulnerable positions.

As I sat with a wonderful friend late at night on a recent trip, our children sleeping peacefully in beds upstairs and down, I unwrapped some ugly things I had been dealing with and gave them to her.  I did not hesitate.  She showed grace and care and tenderness as she listened and encouraged.

After I went to bed, I wondered if I should have said so much.  If I was too negative, too transparent, too ugly.  The “me” who likes people to think I have it all together surfaced and chided with a wagging finger.

The next morning, kids running all over the house, making noise and messes, my friend began sharing some difficult things in her life.  I listened and tried to be as careful with her sharing as she was with mine.

And then she said, “Wow, nothing like being a downer!”  I encouraged, told her of course she’s not, that’s what our friendship is for, and that I had wondered myself if I was too negative the night before.

I’ve pondered those conversations since that morning and I came to realize something I knew in my heart to be very important.

Maybe a barometer of our friendships, of their authenticity and depth, is how often we feel uncomfortable with our level of sharing.  Maybe we’re missing out if we never have the need to wonder, or even ask, if we’ve said too much.

Maybe real friendship does make us uncomfortable, and maybe that is a very good thing.

What about you?  How often do you share at a level that makes you squirm, just a little?

 

Photo credit: Fountain_Head

Winner of the Heritage History Giveaway

Thank to everyone who entered the Heritage History giveaway!

Our winner, chosen by random number generator, is comment #39

Kathy Balman

Congratulations, Kathy!  I’ll be in touch shortly!

Even if you didn’t win this time, Heritage History is now giving away one free ebook every month!  These are books that are included in their resources and they come in three formats- iPad, e-reader, and PDF.  Visit Heritage History to claim this month’s freebie, “The Story of England.

The “Not” Back-to-School Blog Hop {Curriculum Week}

"Not" Back to School Blog Hop at iHomeschool Network

It’s here!  The crazy weekly blog hop that will make us all feel wonderfully inspired and a teeny bit inadequate all at the same time!  Woohoo!

Hey, just keepin’ it real folks…

But seriously, as we all are getting started with our schooling, wading gently into the water after a low-key summer, the iHomeschool Network blog hop is the place to be.  Let’s get motivated!

Homeschool Planning 2012-2013

Speaking of motivated, have I mentioned lately that I’m up to my ears in planning?  Well, actually now it’s only up to my belly button, so I’m making progress.  Last week the living room looked like this:

Homeschool Planning

And now my supplies and materials are organized into nice neat piles on the floor instead and it looks like this:

Homeschool Planning

Progress, people!  That’s what I’m talking about!  (Don’t you dare say you don’t see a difference!)

So for those of you who don’t know much about me, here’s the scoop in a nutshell: I have four children whom I’ve been homeschooling for seven years (this year will be my eighth).  My oldest son is 12 and will be in 7th grade; my only daughter is 9 and will be in 4th grade; my two younger boys are 6 and 5 and will be in 1st and K respectively, though they are learning almost as if they were twins.  My youngest won’t be left behind.  He’s very stubborn and precocious.

We started out classically, but have moved into more of an eclectic homeschool, mostly due to the fact that I want to give the best, individualized education to each child, and each of my children is unique.  So we now base our structure loosely on the Well-Trained Mind skeleton and resources, but add a lot of Charlotte Mason methods, and whatever else I feel will work in our home.

This year is the first time I will be intentionally including the younger two in the bulk of our subjects.  For things like history, science, geography, and art, we will all learn together, get further into the adventure of notebooking (all together- fabulous!) and then my older two will have some independent work to take away as well.

7th grade curricula and resources

  • Teaching Textbooks Algebra I - We moved into TT last year for Pre-Algebra on the recommendation of our assessor (in Ohio we have to get yearly portfolio assessments if we choose not to do standardized tests) and we like it very much.  Before TT we used Saxon for Colin and it worked very well, but TT can be done independently which helps with Mom-time management.
  • Rod and Staff Grammar 7 – We’ve been using R & S since 4th grade and are very happy with the thoroughness and rigor of the program.  I’m a grammar nerd and get all giddy about diagramming, word roots, and stuff like that.
  • Thames and Cosmos Chem C2000 Chemistry Set and Mastering the Periodic Table - Our chemistry this year is going to be out of my comfort zone.  There will be a lot of experiments, some of which will include the younger ones, and I have a lot of peripheral resources.  (We’ve never used textbooks, and I hope to avoid them until highschool.)  Unlike history, which is chronological, all of our resources choose to go through the periodic table differently.  I’ll keep you posted on how things work out, but since I’m a non-science mom, this is the subject I’m least excited about.
  • HistoryWe have always used the Well-Trained Mind resource suggestions and this is our second time going through the Story of the World series.  We are studying the Middle Ages this year (with activity book) and Colin will supplement with outlining and timeline work through the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia and other living books.  One exciting new-to-us resource is Heritage History** CD sets of public domain books.  We have the Christian Europe and Spanish Empire libraries as well as the British Middle Ages curriculum (which includes supplemental resources in addition to the books) and there are great books for family read-alouds and independent reading for Colin.  We will be primarily using notebooking as a way to document all we are learning.  Notebooking Pages has a wonderful set of Middle Ages resources, including basic pages, and specific pages for people and events of the time.
  • Rosetta Stone German 3 – Colin is probably halfway finished with this program and we’re considering finding him an online highschool German course when he completes it.  Rosetta Stone has been great for our children’s pronunciation, understanding and vocabulary, but the grammar is all by immersion so there are no rules taught.  I’m looking forward to getting him the nuts and bolts to round out his German skills.
  • US GeographyWe will be notebooking through the 50 states as a family.  This is something the kids enjoy immensely, and we try to take trips, watch documentaries, and cook fun cuisine from some of the states as well.  This year we’re planning a weekend trip to Tennessee.  (You can get a free sample of a state notebooking page set here!)
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive – We haven’t focused a lot on writing in the past in terms of curriculum simply because I didn’t think it was all that necessary yet.  I think good writing is incredibly important, don’t get me wrong; I just think that the way it is taught is counter-productive.  I think kids who read great literature, and a lot of it, will have a natural bent toward writing as they get older.  So now that Colin is in middle school we are focusing a bit more on it so we can build skills for high school.

4th grade curricula and resources

  • Math on the Level - Our sweet Maddy is not a math person.  We have tried a handful of different math curricula over the years and all have frustrated her until I finally stepped outside of the textbook box.  It was a scary transition, but looking back I see a lot of progress and a lot less angst.  Math on the Level is a non-traditional program that includes all concepts required to learn from PreK to Pre-Algebra organized in books that give tips and tricks for teaching each of the concepts.  It is teacher intensive and requires a lot of assessment on my part, but it has been worth it.  The company also has a very active yahoo email group that supports each other and answers questions.
  • Rod and Staff Grammar 4
  • Sequential Spelling - We took off of formal spelling last year.  I have never liked the traditional spelling curricula with the words per week that you have to write and rewrite until you memorize them.  I trust my children’s reading to give them good skills in spelling, and for the most part it has.  I am going to lightly work through Sequential Spelling lessons with Maddy just to add to her knowledge of spelling patterns.  SS is a program not based around levels of words for each grade, but instead on patterns and was originally created for dyslexic children.  One word list, for example, includes the words: all, stall, install, recall, and installment.
  • HistoryStory of the World, Volume 2 (Middle Ages), beginner level ebooks from Heritage History**, and notebooking.
  • Chemistry for the Grammar Stage – This classical-based curriculum was affordable, lays out all readings and includes all worksheets and notebooking pages.  Again, I’m a bit uncomfortable with the way our different chemistry resources each choose to go through the material differently, but it will simply take a bit more intentionality in my planning to make it work.
  • Rosetta Stone German 1 & 2 – Maddy’s just about done with German 1 and will be moving up this fall.  She sounds so cute speaking German!
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing Student Intensive – We’re doing the middle school level; I’m including her along with my oldest because Maddy loves to write and she can handle the activities.
  • US Geography – Notebooking all the way!  Here’s a free North American bird example for you to try out from Notebooking Pages.

1st grade curricula and resources

Kindergarten curricula and resources

Together we will cover art, music, health, nutrition, and life skills just through life and occasional notebooking.  My husband and I are classical musicians so our home is filled with the music of Bach and Mozart and Stravinsky and we “talk shop” often.  I also am an art junkie, and love to test myself and the kids on their knowledge of famous styles and techniques of the great master artists.  These kinds of things just happen in our home and I’ve learned that it is enough, that I don’t need to make sure I get a composer study in each week.  It’s just another way to embrace the actual reality of our life and not get overwhelmed with expectations that are inappropriate for our family or too high.

 

Whew!!  So there you have it.  Our plan for the year!  Link up with the “Not” Back-to-School Hop with your own curriculum plans!

**To get a free Spanish Empire CD library, purchase any other library or curriculum at Heritage History and enter code CHRISglo at checkout!  You must add the Spanish Empire CD as well and the amount will come off when you add the code.**

This post contains affiliate links.  See my Disclosure page for details.

Homeschool Hodgepodge

(I’m also guest posting at Mary’s today about how to balance Teacher and Mom.)

This post is long but worth it!  Great resources and a giveaway at the end!

Homeschool planning (History)

As I mentioned yesterday (in my other giveaway post- be sure to enter!) I am deep in the throes of planning for next year.  I’m surrounded by tons of piles of this and that, at least a dozen lists that I have to consolidate, and a few new items that I am so excited to use!

We’ve always been an eclectic homeschool family, starting out with more of a classical bent but quickly moving to an overall living books philosophy that I can easily taylor to the needs of each child.  Since I’m not married to any one method, I have felt the freedom to experiment and explore different things, and as I mentioned in my post about our homeschool year’s personality, each summer I assess and figure out what will work best for the stage we’re in.

US Geography Notebook

Last year we started notebooking with a simple US geography project.  The kids loved it, and I absolutely adored having them all at the table working on their age-appropriate pages all together, instead of having to go from child to child individually.  It made things so simple, and I couldn’t wait to incorporate more notebooking in the coming year.

Enter Notebooking Pages: a fabulous site full of thousands of pages, with more being added each month, and now a new web application for children and teens to use to create fully digital notebooking pages.  I have become an affiliate for this company, and this means that I can pass on awesome discounts and specials to all of you!  Win-win!

Notebooking Pages is right now, starting today, having a huge back-to-school sale that you do not want to miss!  We’re planning on notebooking through science, history, poetry, and any other subject that would benefit from this method, and I can’t recommend the selection enough.  There are sets to purchase, but the best deal by far is the membership.  Click the image to get more information:

Notebooking Pages Sale!

The second resource I’m super excited to use is our new CD library from Heritage History. I have a middle schooler who is a voracious reader.  When I had the opportunity to become an affiliate for this company, and received the Christian Europe library of books to use in our own homeschool, I could not wait to begin.  Each affordable library includes dozens of books that can be downloaded onto an iPad or e-reader, and curriculums have maps, timelines, and other resources in addition to the books!

Heritage History- use code CHRISglo

Now that I’m actually planning and choosing which books to include from Heritage History’s CD library (we are going through year two of the Story of the World for our history which covers the Middle Ages), I am even more convinced about this resource.  So much so, that I’ve chosen to purchase at least one more CD curriculum for use this year.

My connection with this company also means that I can pass on savings and deals to you and I am whole-heartedly thrilled to do so.

One lucky reader will win a CD library or curriculum of her choice!

To enter, visit Heritage History and look at the selection of CD libraries ad curricula, and leave a comment with your first choice.  For extra entries you can:

*oops!  Forgot to mention to leave a comment for each entry so I can fully enter you!*

Giveaway open until 11:59pm August 8th.

Even if you don’t win the giveaway, Heritage History is offering a free Spanish Empire Library ($19.99 value) when you purchase any curriculum CD for $24.99.  Simply enter code CHRISglo at checkout.

And, by the way, any purchase you make from now until August 31 enters you to win a Kindle Fire.  Awesome!

Please know that I am only passing on these amazing resources because we are using them ourselves going forward.  I do not choose to be an affiliate for any company that we don’t fully endorse through use in our own homeschool.  Being an affiliate earns me a small percentage of purchases made with my code.  For more information, see my Disclosure page.