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, and I won’t lie, sometimes I Buy Instagram followers for cheap as well, just because it helps me get real folowers.  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 with one of those safe canister vacuum from a reputable brand, 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. The occasional toy or thoughtful surprise goes a long way, but don’t abuse it as it can back fire, check out all these top rated kids products for inspiration. 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, thank go it is not other kind of addiction, but I do really recommend to click here if you happen to have a serious addiction, it is for your well being.  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. If you want to learn about the entrepreneur industry, I recommend Lee Rosen Website, CEO of healthy bees business. 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.

It is mainly decorative ornaments, furnishings and kitchenware.
We decided to set up the business having been faced with redundancy and reduced salary on more than one occasion. If you love Michigan then you have to check out livnfresh’s michigan t shirts.

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

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 GRE test prep in Denver, CO, 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.
  • History – We 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 webpage.  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 Geography – We 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. That can mean Dentist Near Me are priced using a sliding scale, so lower income patients pay less for the dental services they receive.

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, we love to have an audio visual systems for school at home, that way it feel like an actual school.

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.

 

Homeschool Mother’s Journal {Birthday edition}

Homeschool Mother's Journal

Yes, it’s my birthday!  I’m so glad you’ve stopped by!

In my life this week

I’m 39 today and am feeling very thoughtful about the upcoming year.  Getting older doesn’t bother me, never has.  I joke about it, but seriously I wouldn’t want to go back in time for any amount of money.  Each decade has had its challenges, and I’m sure the next one will be no different, but I feel I’ve learned something important with every year that has passed.  I want to do something bold and creative with my year.  I am feeling the need to redefine myself a bit.  I’ll keep you posted…

In our homeschool this week

We’ve wrapped up our year, finally!  It’s the first summer that we’ve actually schooled through, and I’m thrilled about that.  I’ve always wanted to retain some semblance of structure in our learning through the summer months so that the fall doesn’t hit us like a ton of bricks, but it’s never quite panned out.  This year, though, I tried something different.  For June and July we did basic subjects a mere three days a week.  That left a nice relaxing long weekend, but still avoided the brain drip that occurs with too much time off.  Only drawback to schooling through the summer?  The kids couldn’t figure out what grade to say they were in if someone asked.

Helpful homeschool tips or advice to share

Have a read-aloud book that you share with each child individually.  I started this weekly tradition a couple of years ago only with my oldest to make sure that he was exposed to literature that was more geared toward his maturity level and loved sharing the time with him.  Last year I started with my daughter as well, and we chose books with topics and characters that more resonated with girls.  Since she’s my only girl, voting on family read-alouds usually leaves her in the minority, though she still always enjoys the books we choose.  This year I will begin with my younger two boys and am so looking forward to that time with them, snuggled up in their beds.  Yes, this will mean that I will spend a half hour reading to each child individually (my goal is two kids per day) and it will take up a chunk of time, but the memories we make will be forever-memories!

I am inspired by

Color.  The more I explore in my art journals using all sorts of mixed media, the more my eyes are opened to how varied and vivid the world is.  Bright, bold, rich colors just simply make me happy.

Charcoal and watercolor art journal page in progress

Charcoal and watercolor

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing

In two weeks we’ll be off on our yearly summer adventure out east.  We’ll first visit wonderful friends in Maryland, then head to New Jersey to spend time with my parents, sister and her family, and finally to New York to visit my brother- and sister-in-law and their three boys.  It will be busy and fabulous, and I’ll use a lot of that time planning for the upcoming year, and doing a lot of doodling, thinking and writing.

My favorite thing this week

I was intentional about getting my hands in my art supplies more often this week and it made a huge difference in my mood.  I realized that my mind was quiet when I was focused on my art, and that’s a rare (coveted) thing.

What’s working/not working for us

Sibling love has been scarce around here lately.  So on Wednesday, I had a spontaneous idea to solve that problem.  I got a big piece of posterboard and put it on the coffee table.  I traced each child’s hands and then labeled each pair with their names.  I told them that since they don’t seem to be appreciating each other lately, I wanted them to spend intentional time thinking of how they are grateful for each sibling.  Then I asked them to write little notes and leave them on the hands for each person throughout the day.  The notes piled up, and the arguing mostly stopped.  Then Thursday was an even better day and they got along wonderfully!  Makes this mama’s heart happy!

Questions/thoughts I have

I have many thoughts and questions this week.  Most importantly I’ve been wondering where my notebook is that has all of my homeschool convention notes for the coming year.  I lost it and need it to start my planning process next week.

I’m reading

Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov, which has been sitting on my end table for a year.  It’s very good so far, and not as challenging as I had thought.  The characters are unique and well-crafted, and the emotional depth is vivid.  I’m also reading 168 Hours on my Nook, which has an interesting take on looking at our time.  I also recently bought Walking on Water by Madeleine L’Engle and am waiting for my lovely UPS guy to bring it to me!

I’m cooking

With tomatoes!!  We have a ton of tomatoes coming from our garden, and it’s a beautiful sight, the garden has also been looking great since we hired the best landscape company, it’s called chapelvalley, if you want to check it out.  Last year our harvest didn’t start until September, but this season we’ve been in full swing since early this month.  I’ve been making BLT’s, salads, and just eating them in slices with a touch of salt.  They are so good!  Last night for dinner, I made Jason and me a ciabatta bread with goat cheese, basil, and oven-roasted tomatoes marinated in a bit of balsamic vinegar.  Accompanied by red wine, of course!

Tomato saladI’m grateful for

Homemade cards and hugs from little arms this morning.  And for a morning to hole up in the library and write, pray and think.

I’m praying for

My children’s relationships, my husband’s work, and the needs of friends and family.

A video, photo, link, or quote to share

Come visit me on Pinterest where I have a board for the Summer Olympics, which starts tonight!

Come on over and link up to the Homeschool Mother’s Journal at the iHomeschool Network!

 

What my friends should know… {10*in*10}

10-in-10 iHomeschool Network

So it’s week 10 already?  Wow, that went fast!!  Here are my other 10*in*10 posts in this fun blog hop:

Top Ten Homeschooling Questions
Top Ten Reasons We Defy a Homeschool Label
Top Ten Reasons We Love to Homeschool (Poetry edition)
Top Ten Series for Middle School Boys
Top Ten Homeschooling Websites
Top Ten Pieces of Homeschooling Advice

 If you’re here, you’re a friend.

That’s how I think of you.  You read my thoughtful posts as I’m wrestling out my life and my faith.  You read my silly posts when my sarcastic sense of humor pops up.  You read my homeschooling posts, and hopefully learn from my many mistakes!

But what are the things I maybe haven’t told you, that you really should know?  The things that you would know if you were a local friend with whom I met for regular coffee chats or play dates with the kids?

Yes, I color my hair...

Yes, I color my hair, and yes, my kitchen is cluttered…

Here goes!  The real me, unbound and unashamed:

  1. I am a hugger.  I love to squeeze those that I love, whether it’s when they are celebrating, or mourning, or simply because I’m thankful for them in that moment.
  2. I am a lousy housekeeper.  It’s only been in the last couple of years that I have accepted this fact, and stopped trying to make excuses.  I’m not horrible, but I’m certainly not great.  My cleaning rotations are not as neat, tidy or frequent as some of the ones I see on other blogs (even the ones that claim to be homeschool-friendly) but I’m OK with that.
  3. I am a true book junkie.  It goes along with my main learning style, which is visual, and so when I have a problem or question, the first thing I’ll do is find a book about it and read to learn.  I thought, because I love the feel and smell of real books, that I would never get an e-reader, but I did cave and get a Nook to go overseas.  And I love that too, although when I have a book I need to really chew on, I use multi-colored highlighters in a real book!
  4. I think in images.  This is why my recent return to art has been so profoundly satisfying for me.  I’ve always been one to speak and write metaphorically about things, and come up with imagery to explain my feelings.  For example, in my work as a classical voice teacher I’m more likely to describe a sound I want my student to produce with a mental image, than with physiology.  Or when my husband asks how getting some art time makes me feel I tell him it’s like a “dry sponge that is immersed in a vast ocean and immediately swells with life.”  This is just normal for me.  My husband thinks it’s a bit weird.
  5. I am a true introvert.  If you were my neighbor, you’d know that I don’t often socialize (I feel badly about that sometimes.)  I love to be around a friend or two at a time and share deeply, and I love spending time with my family.
  6. I treasure friendship.  There was a time in my life when I didn’t feel understood, had no really close friends to share with deeply.  I had moved and was in the midst of creating this beautiful family I have with a husband who was trying to establish himself in his career.  It was a lonely place.  So therefore I do not take for granted those amazing women who give of themselves, and share their hearts and lives with me.
  7. I sometimes don’t want to homeschool anymore.  Yes, I have those bad days too, which is why it’s so important to have a back up plan.  But I believe so completely that it’s right for our family, and our children are thriving in this learning environment, so I have no real intentions of quitting, it’s just important to be honest about the fact that sometimes it’s tough.
  8. Sometimes I love homeschooling so much I want to convince everyone else to do it.  Just so you know how normal it is to vacillate dramatically between feelings of drudgery and the euphoria, I had to add this one.  And I can be obnoxious, on these days, in my gushing about how much I love it.
  9. I am a woman of highs and lows.  If numbers 7 and 8 didn’t give you a clue, here’s a newsflash: there is no “vanilla” with me.  I run hot or cold, with rarely any in-betweens.  This is also something I’ve come to accept as I’ve gotten older.  I feel things deeply, for good and bad, and sometimes am so whacked out of balance I need to pull back and just be alone.
  10. I’ll be 39 this week.   Ack!!  What should I do for the remainder of my waning journey to the big 4-0?  I need some way to chronicle this next year and make it a good one.  Any suggestions?

So, dear readers…what should I know about you?

Top Ten Tuesday

Visit Angie and link up your Top Ten for the week!

And hop on over to Today’s Housewife to read my guest post on Art Journaling!

Art Journal- Hopes and Dreams

“Hopes and Dreams”

Shakespeare {for the first time}

Peter Paul Rubens- Julius Caesar

Shakespeare with my twelve-year-old

I admit it.  I was a bit apprehensive about choosing and reading our first Shakespeare play.

I knew my son was ready this year.  His love for books and language is well-established and his reading level is excellent.  This past year has seen him read many more classics than years past, and retain and enjoy them all.  He read (and we discussed) Treasure Island, Sherlock Holmes, and the Tripod Trilogy, just to name a few.  We’ve been studying ancient history, and when we came upon the wonder, power, and subsequent demise of ancient Rome, I knew we had to read Julius Caesar.

So we jumped in with both feet.

I wasn’t sure how it would work, but I planned on having him notebook through it a bit, read it aloud with me, study the characters and history.  Mostly, however, my goal was for him to enjoy it.  And now that we’re well into the third act, I am thrilled to say that our experience has been wonderful and that the drama has captured us both.

How I introduced Shakespeare to my middle schooler

  • We reviewed the history– we’d already been going through the Story of the World, complete with my son writing outlines and filling in his timeline, so we discussed what he’d learned so far.
  • We researched Shakespeare’s life- I used this flip book as an easy introduction, and looked up a bit more online.
  • We read a brief synopsis– We used Pink Monkey Notes (free online notes similar to Cliff’s) and read about the characters as well.  I learned about this website from Susan Wise Bauer this year at our homeschool convention and it has been an awesome resource!
  • I assigned a notebooking page on vocabulary, and also a compare/contrast paper- The vocabulary assignment was with words such as plot, protagonist, antagonist, climax, and theme, basics about a play’s structure.  The compare/contrast paper was between two characters of my son’s choice.  He settled on Brutus and Cassius and came up with some great thoughts, including quotes that supported his ideas.
  • We started reading– We each had a character or two per scene and read as dramatically as we could.  I often would stop and ask what Colin thought of the passage, or a specific line, to see how he was responding.  I think we did a good job in the drama department.  At one point my 5-year-old looked up with a frightened look on his face and said we should be reading something about people who are nice to each other.
  • We supplemented with notes about each scene- Pink Monkey Notes again.  There is a detailed synopsis with cultural and literary notes on every scene.
  • I kept it simple- What I did not want to do is overwhelm.  I wanted us to experience the text, the rich language, and the story together without weighing ourselves down with lots of busy work.

Shakespeare resources for children

  • I gained a lot of confidence and suggestions from this lens on Squidoo by Jimmie; it is chock full of great ideas and links.
  • I also have loved using my Notebooking Pages membership to supplement the play itself.  This site has thousands of pages available to meet any need you may have.  It would be a fabulous addition to any type of curriculum this year!
    Basic lined notebooking pages
  • This post from Lauren has some printables about Julius Caesar for younger children, in case you want to include them in your reading.
  • Before we ever read a real Shakespeare play, we had read aloud a couple of the stories from Tales from Shakespeare by Charles and Mary Lamb.  It is very well-written and retains a lot of the integrity of the language while making sure it’s accessible for children.
  • This Shakespeare Can Be Fun series is also a great way to introduce the stories of Shakespeare’s plays with fun drawings by children.

 When do you plan on introducing the Bard to your children?  Or have you already?  Do tell!  I’d love to hear your experience!

 

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Someone will always have better printables than you

Keyboard heart

We compare.  I think it comes along with the homeschooler gene even more than others.  We homeschoolers are convicted and passionate about teaching our children and sometimes that can turn into judgment, aimed most frequently at ourselves.

The online world feeds this comparison hamster wheel, turning us green while we stammer in defense that our homeschools are unique, our kids are individuals, and our families do not have to conform.  But inside we covet.

I do sometimes, much as I hate to admit it.

Pinterest is a wonderful source of inspiration, and a place to find just what you’re looking for, whether it’s a recipe for dinner, a list of great books, or a new printable chore chart.  Homeschool bloggers shout about their latest discoveries or projects, and they look so darn good we feel we should do them too.

But with these finds comes the insidious voice that whispers there is someone out there that cooks better, reads more, does more elaborate projects, and makes prettier printables.  (Why didn’t I think of that?? you ask yourself.)

And those are all true.  There will always be someone who does those things better, more,  and prettier.  But I guarantee not all at the same time or in the same season.  At the same time, you are doing something that inspires those in your sphere of influence.

So relax.  Breathe into the place God has placed you.  Your homeschool is not like any other, and there is no need to feel it should be.  Pinterest pulls the best from homes across the world and shows them for enjoyment and inspiration, not for comparison.  Bloggers put their best foot forward to share and encourage, not to produce anxiety.

You and I are an integral part of the plan God has called us to in our own homes and communities.  He is using our gifts and personalities in great and glorious ways behind the scenes, touching countless people in our daily lives if we yield to His voice and direction.

So friends, how does He use you to inspire?