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

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 Miami driveways landscape company, it’s called chapelvalley, if you want to check it out, we also did some awesome cleaning with the best pressure washer we have ever hired.  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”

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?


Homeschool Mother’s Journal- June 22, 2012

Homeschool Mother's Journal

In my life this week:

I’ve been serving in the nursery at VBS this week, which has both thrilled me and made me pine for the three hours each day that I could be catching up with my own to-do list since all four of my kiddos are otherwise occupied.  My left arm has been getting a workout with a chubby and adorable little 8 month old who does not like anything but my left hip (he even fell asleep one day hanging off of it, like a little monkey.)  I’m thankful to have the opportunity to help out, but it has been tiring!

In our homeschool this week:

Since I came back Monday night from the NE Homeschool Convention, my head chock-full of great tidbits I need to now put to use in planning, and have been in VBS, not much school has happened.  We are still reading a lot together and have done some math and language activities.

Helpful homeschool tips or advice to share:

We are doing more school this summer than ever before, but I will still need a good break. My advice is to make sure you plan some mental health time for Mom into your summer!

I am inspired by:

This wonderful post by Maggie Hogan of Bright Ideas Press:  Lessons I Learned from Homeschooling

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing:

Just our typical tae kwon do class and music lessons, besides VBS this week.  My 12-year-old (who just had a birthday last week) passed his black belt step test- one hurdle closer to his second degree black belt exam.

 My favorite thing this week was:

Playing a drawing game with my daughter.  I started a drawing with some doodles and she added to it; we continued back and forth until we had the funniest picture of a water-spitting alien holding a walkie-talkie for communicating with the mother ship.  Then she started one.  So fun!

What’s working/not working for us:

Routine is not working for us right now.  I know summer is busy and kind of random, but this mama thrives on routine.  With little trips and visits here and there, the occasional camp or special activity, and Daddy working weird hours, we’re flying by the seat of our pants these days with school, meals, and just about everything else!

Questions/thoughts I have:

I’ve really been pondering the book Quiet, by Susan Cain.  I think so much of it is right on the money in describing and encouraging understanding of introverts and how they can best use their gifts in their circles of influence.  It has caused me to be more conscious in my thoughts about homeschooling as an introvert, socializing as an introvert, and parenting as an introvert.  Since at least two of my children are also introverted (another is an off-the-chart extrovert and the jury’s still out on my youngest), I have also been thinking about how to parent them in a way that best helps them to grow and mature.

Things I’m working on:

Planning for Sunday School, a few writing projects, planning for our next homeschool year, and figuring out a weekly routine that will be successful going forward.

I’m reading:

I just downloaded Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, which has come highly recommended by friends.  I also will be rereading some homeschool books for the coming year.

I’m cooking:

I made these delicious and healthy stuffed peppers a couple of days ago.  I can’t say all of my kids loved them, by hubs and I did!  I like stretching the kids’ palates so when they leave for college or the work force they won’t be eating Big Macs and pizza every night.

I’m grateful for:

Dimpled smiles, sweaty summer hugs, piles of books on the tables, paper airplanes littering the living room floor, and nights on the porch with a glass of wine and a handsome hubby.

I’m praying for:

Friends and family who have just had babies, are waiting for babies’ arrivals, or are in the process of adopting.

Link up at the iHomeschool Network!


Weekend links…

Around the bend

Here are some places worth visiting this weekend!  Have a great one, friends!

Homeschool Links:

  • This week we did a building/writing activity with this fun Lego printable.  We each chose 100 Legos, built a creation with all of them (no easy feat!) then drew a picture of it and wrote a few sentences about it.  The kids loved it!
  • Stef posted about her Harry Potter notebooking adventure.  Since our current family read aloud is HP #1, we are totally going to do this next week.  Our Notebooking Pages membership will be perfect for this, especially when the new Notebooking Publisher is live!
  • Amanda Bennett has a Summer Olympics unit study available for purchase so that we can follow along with the games this summer.  Since we studied the ancient Greeks this year and held our own family Olympics with Kris and her family, we’re planning on getting this study and I think the kids will love investing in the experience!
  • The iHomeschool Network 10 in 10 link ups have been so fun!  I just have to mention this adorable video from Amy’s son on why he likes homeschooling.
  • Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers has written a challenging post on how to avoid having a “homeschool mom body“.  Great inspiring tips!

Motherhood links:

  • I love this post by Andrea about teaching your children a life of faith.
  • Rachel has a wonderful couple of posts on teenagers and why we as moms need to anticipate, appreciate and adore this season of our children’s lives.  You rarely hear this perspective, so it was a beautiful breath of fresh air to visit her this week.
  • Here’s an important post from The Homeschool Village on raising an introvert.  I am currently reading the book Sandra speaks about here (Quiet…) and love it.  Definitely worth requesting from your local library.

Where’s your path taking you this weekend?

This post contains affiliate links. 

Being small

3 daisies

This is a post I just feel the need to write.

Sometimes I am plagued by the green-eyed monster.  I get all frazzly trying to stay on my toes and make sure my duckies are in a row and I jog after that darn Jones family.

Sometimes I feel like a neighbor peeking in the window to see what’s really going on in the bloggy house next door.  I think some honestly have it all together, and I applaud them.  Seriously.  I feel no ill-will toward my friends who do, who feel called to have a bigger presence in this online world, and who have found balance with the important things.  In fact, I celebrate them, and visit them, and learn from them.

But I just know me.  And I know the choices I need to make to keep my life in order, my mind and heart focused, and my blogging in the place on the list it belongs.

I have seen lately a number of online friends going through challenges of priorities and balance, making hard choices, and it has reminded me of something very important.  Something I decided when I came back online a year and a half ago.

I am content being small.

I love having community, being a part of an amazing network, and connecting with beautiful women.  I am encouraged, I write (which I love), I share, I laugh, I pray.  These are all wonderful things.

But I also am a homeschooler, a wife, a mom who loves a mean (and I do mean “mean”) game of Settlers of Catan, a wanna-be artist, a runner, and a smattering of other things that are gifts from God and fill me up with purpose.

This post is not for anyone but myself, and maybe those bloggers who are really struggling and need someone to say, “It’s OK to be small.”  Balance is a hard thing to find, and if you are one of those wringing your hands over your bloggy size, wondering what’s more important, then you already deep down know the answer.  Like I do.

So if you’re a reader here, thank you.  I love that you come here!  I hope you find some support and encouragement and a thought or two to ponder.  I am happy with my smallness– it feels cozy and just right.

I hope you think so too.

Thought-provoking Thursday

Photo Credit: D. Sharon Pruitt

My new digs…

Whew!  Changing to WordPress and switching to a new domain name is like birthing a fifth child (at least for this non-techie girl)!  Thanks for being patient as everything was transferred, and a special thanks to Amy for her expertise.  I hope to see you more often around here as I settle in.  Lots of exciting things to come!

Just to make sure you don’t miss anything (more about homeschooling, marriage, parenting, vlogs, and a special art journaling category, all coming up!), subscribe to the feed and join me as I make my new home comfy and cozy.