Homeschooling Is Not For Wimps

This year, I embarked on one of my biggest adventures.  My husband and I decided to try our hand at homeschooling.  So, with no experience whatsoever, I signed up to not just home-school my son, but also my daughter.

I didn’t share this information with a lot of people.  Of course, our family knew, as did a few friends.  Why did I keep it under wraps?  I suppose I didn’t want to make a big deal.  I didn’t mention it a lot in this blog.  Maybe I was afraid of failure.  The fewer people who knew, the better.

We had a lot of reasons to try it out.  Surprisingly to me, my main reasons did not include opposition to Common Core, or the curriculum being taught in the schools.  I could see my son struggling to understand certain subjects.  I saw how the teacher would spend a little time on it (realizing it was not her fault…she was following the schedule the school put on her), and then move on to the next lesson, whether he understood or not.  We spent hours working on homework.  I could see the frustration…I felt frustrated too.

We also decided we wanted our son to stay a kid for a little bit longer.  Kids in school are exposed to so many things, at an earlier age than my husband and I were.  We also dealt a lot with bullying when my son was in school.  We wanted to protect him for as long as possible.

Homeschooling my daughter was almost an afterthought.  Her birthday falls just barely before the cutoff date & I wasn’t planning on sending her to school this year anyway.  I went in teaching her with very low expectations…not to be mean, but she was very young in the beginning (she was 4 for almost 6 weeks into school).

I remember that first day of school like it was yesterday.  I got up that morning, ate breakfast and started surfing Facebook.   I saw the pictures.  Kids standing on their front porches…holding chalkboards with their name and age…maybe what they want to be when they grow up.  I remember having what I can only describe as a small panic attack.  “What did I just do???  Was it too late to run up to the school and change my mind??”  After all, I hadn’t told many people what we were doing.

That initial panic wore off.  I started to appreciate the small things.  Sleeping until 7:30.  Doing math in our pajamas.  Taking a week off when my parents and my in-laws came to visit…even though the schools were still going.

Homeschooling is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.  I was with my kids pretty much 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  All day long.  Every day.  I would get frustrated when my kids didn’t grasp something and I had no idea how to explain a concept.  I would get tired of hearing the whining…oh the whining!!!

Homeschooling is one of the best things I’ve ever done.  I was with my kids pretty much 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  All day long.  Every day.  I would get elated when I saw that light bulb click and they understood a concept.  I loved watching them learn.  After my daughter was done today, I found her in her room, reading.  She looked at me and said “I love reading Mom!”  It’s days like this that make it all worth it.

I can’t say I did this all by myself.  My husband was a great support to me.  He was the “principal”.  When I felt like I was failing, he would gently encourage me.  He nicknamed me “school marm”. A name I have grown to…appreciate…

We went through the K12.com program.  Not only did they provide all the curriculum (for free, I might add) and planned out all the lessons, we had access to a great team of teachers.  My son was in virtual classrooms 4 days of the week.  They were there if we needed help or clarification.  They organized field trips, science fairs and so much more.  If you have ever thought about homeschooling, but the idea of coming up with a curriculum and lesson plans scare you & the thought of doing this by yourself is more than you can handle, let me highly recommend the K12 program.  The curriculum is well done and I feel like my kids have had a well rounded education this year.  And, I had a great built in support system.

Today, as we wrapped up the last of my son’s math lessons, I had a feeling, similar to the one I had at the beginning of the school year.  Only this time, it was “Check out what we just did!  We made it through the year!!!”

We still have a few courses to complete, but we are definitely seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.  Would I do this again?  Absolutely!!!  Would it terrify me?  Probably…but not as much…maybe.

So, now that we’re staring summer break in the face, am I looking forward to it?  You betcha!!!!  I can’t wait!  Will I miss the day to day routine?  Sure.  There’s something comfortable in routine.  But, I’m sure we’ll fill our days with lots of little projects.  Water gun fights with the neighbors, s’more making around the firepit at nights.  Catching lightening bugs because we don’t have to be in bed at a certain time because it’s “a school night”.

Will we home-school again next year?  Possibly.  We decided to make this a year by year decision.  I need some time to sit down and process everything and talk it over with my hubby, but at this moment, we’re really leaning towards going through this crazy adventure again.

One big adventure in the books.  Who knows how many more await us!

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I Have A Lot To Say

It happened.  Christmas came early for my hubby.  I lost my voice.  It started yesterday.  I could kind of talk, but couldn’t sing during worship service.  I taught my cake decorating class, but it was strained.  As the evening wore on, it slowly faded until by bedtime, I had nothing left.  Not even a squeak.  

It got so bad that I had to text my husband, who was sitting in the recliner next to me.  Of course, he is enjoying this…a little too much if you ask me!  Just wait until I get my voice back…I’ll have 2 or 3 days worth of talking to catch up on :).

Today, it’s not really any better.  I communicate with whispers and over the top facial expressions and body language.  It’s been challenging, especially with a 4 year old who doesn’t really understand why my voice has gone away.

I have noticed something interesting today.  While I was grocery shopping, the employees at the store would tell me hello.  I would whisper “I lost my voice” and point at my throat, so they wouldn’t think I was being rude.  On every occasion, they would say “Oh! I’m sorry” or something similar, but it would always be in a whisper.  Every time I said something to my daughter, she would whisper her response.  A cashier at the grocery store said that when he’s on the phone and has to whisper, the person on the other end automatically whispers, even if they’re not in a place where they have to.

I updated my status on Facebook and said how funny I thought it was that Sophie will whisper to me in response when I say something.  One person commented and said it’s proof that our children live by example.

So, that got me to thinking…something you have plenty of time to do when you’re not running your mouth.  Our kids learn by our examples.  Some of that is good.  Some is bad.  How do they learn this though?  They’re around us.  They live with us and observe us on a daily basis.  My daughter will say or do something & I’ll think “where did she pick that up?”  Then, I’ll quickly realize it’s something I’ve done around her.  

Now, hang with me here.  We’re the children of God.  So, doesn’t that mean we should learn by His example?  If so, then we all should be portraying His attributes and His characteristics.  We should say and do things so that the people around us would say “Hey!  That sounds like something God would say!”  

Does that happen?  Sometimes yes.  Sometimes, no.  Why?  Well, I can tell when my kids have been around their friends because they’ll say or do things that I’m not familiar with. It’s usually something that they’ve picked up from their friends, like a new game that they’re playing.  It could be a word that our family doesn’t use.  It’s not normal sounding…it’s out of place.

When we surround ourselves with the world, we pick up things that are out of place.  We say things we might not normally say.  Things that we know God would never say or do.  

The problem is that we look and act like the world a whole lot more than we look and act like God.  It seems at times we have things backwards.  How do we remedy this?  We surround ourselves with God.  Two scriptures come to mind.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.”  Romans 12:2

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.”  Philippians 4:8.

If we stick to these two verses, and surround ourselves with the good things and not conform to the worldly things, we’re going to mirror God and in turn, will know what His will is in our lives.

 

It’s A Jungle Out There

Tonight was so much fun!  I went to a baby shower for a dear friend who is expecting her second baby boy.  I believe I have expressed my love of showers on here before, so I won’t subject you to that again…but I do love them!!!

I was got to make the cake for this shower & it was a blast to make!  I’ve literally been working on this cake for about one week.  It had several fondant figurines, so I just decided to pace myself and do one a night.  Here’s how it turned out…I was pleased 🙂

ImageEverything on the cake is edible…well, except for the lollipop sticks I covered with fondant to make the palm trees.  My hubby asked me how palm trees and the jungle theme tied together…I don’t know…it just does!!

Along with making the cake, I decided to make the shower gift as well.  For all of you non-sewers out there, this projects for you.  Absolutely no sewing is involved…and the result was really cute!

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I found this link on Pinterest a few days ago.  There are tons of handmade baby gift ideas on it & I’m glad my friends are having babies, because I want to try more out!  When you check out the monthly onesie section, you can click on this link to go to the free printables page.  From here, you can choose from several colors & print on iron on transfer paper.  I found the paper at Wal-Mart and Michael’s and I’m sure it’s at other office supply stores.  You can find the onesies…well, anywhere 🙂

One word of advice…and this lesson I learned the hard way.  When you print, either make sure your printer is set up to print mirror image, or choose the printable that is the mirror image.  I printed off the whole year before I realized that I needed it to be backwards.  *Sigh*  That’s what I get for getting in a big hurry and not reading the instructions…or thinking clearly.

I love the idea of chronicling your child monthly…especially during that first year.  They go through so many changes, it really is remarkable the difference a year makes.  I see lots of my friends on Facebook posting these pics and when I saw this gift idea, I thought “perfect!”.

Then, I thought, some people at the shower might not realize what the onesies are for, so I made up this little poem (feel free to “CASE” it…copy and steal everything!  Change it up if you need)

Time flies when you’re having fun

Before you know it, he’ll be one

Use these onesies to slow the grow

Take a picture every month or so

When the year has come and gone,

The photos will linger on

To remind you of the love and care

And memories that you can share.

Fun, right?  It seemed to be a big hit.  Since I did every other month in a different color, I have a second set of iron ons ready to go as a gift…just gotta get more onesies!!

I love celebrating new life.  Everywhere I look, I see thinkings coming alive…the tulips, trees, grass (which my hubby has mowed twice already!).  I see God’s handiwork all around.  New babies are such a joy and blessing, I can’t help but get excited to welcome a new bundle of joy into the world!!

What A Crock…Pot!

Happy day after Valentine’s Day, or as one of my Facebook friends cleverly put it “Happy 50% off candy day!”  I know there are mixed opinions about Valentine’s Day.  We should tell our loved ones every day that we love them, not just on February 14th.  However, I am not opposed to taking a day and making a concerted effort to do so, especially when the day ends with me getting flowers!  Thanks honey!!

So, my hubby asked me what I wanted for Valentine’s Day a few weeks ago.  I thought & I thought and came up with an answer…a slow cooker.  I think he thought I was crazy.  Really?  A kitchen appliance?  As a gift?  He had images of the scene from “Father of the Bride” where the groom-to-be gets his fiance an early wedding present…a blender.  She then goes into a feminist hysteric tirade about domestic life.  In the end, it was just the stress from the wedding talking, but I think from that simple scene, my hubby thought all appliances were off limits for gift giving.

I say no.  We’ve been married for 12 1/2 years.  I am still using the crock pot we received at a shower, but I’ve been noticing some things.  The small, hairline crack in the pot, the stains that don’t seem to come out after washing anymore, the chicken that seems dry, even though it has been cooking in liquid all day long.  Let’s face it…it was time for a new one.

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Tada!!  I got my wish!!  And, the hubby did great!! Digital, locking lid, adjustable temp and cooking time, warmer comes on after cooking is done.  I was amazed at all of the bells and whistles that come on slow cookers nowadays!  Back in the day, all I had was low, high and off.  

The reason I thought I would write about this is because #1, I LOVE cooking in a crock pot…uhhh…slow cooker (hard to call it by it’s proper name!!).  I love putting food in it in the morning and not having to do anything else except spoon it out in the evening!!  Plus, most recipes are super easy and super yummy.  #2, I posted the above pic on Facebook and got so many comments & “likes” from other women…how they love theirs, how they have multiples, etc.  

So, I do have a few favorite recipes that I make in the crock pot…slow cooker that I’d like to share.  The first one was given to me by a Weight Watchers co-worker.  I don’t really have a name for it…we call it Mexi-Chicken around our house.  Here it is:

Chicken breasts (I usually use 3)

1 Can of Corn

1 Can of Black Beans (I rinse mine)

1 Jar of Salsa (any kind.  I think homemade would be great!!)

8 oz. cream cheese (I use 1/3 less fat)

Put your chicken, corn, black beans and salsa in the slow cooker.  Cook on low for about 8 hours or high for about 4.  You can even add the chicken in if it’s frozen.  Just let it hang out.  About 1 hour before you want to serve, shred chicken and add the cream cheese.  The cream cheese will “melt” and you can stir it in.  It makes a bunch, so it’s great to serve if you have company.  It can stand alone in a bowl.  We’ve also served it over brown rice, but my family’s favorite way is in a flour tortilla.  I get whole wheat tortillas for me & the hubby & regular ones for the kiddos.  I’ve also seen the recipe where you add Rotel instead of salsa, but it’s up to you (I’ve never made it with Rotel).

A favorite breakfast recipe is something I make almost on a weekly basis.  Steel cut oatmeal.  If you’ve ever made steel cut oatmeal on the stove, it takes about 45 minutes to cook that way.  During the week, breakfast is really simple, so that isn’t really an option.  About 1 year ago, I found this recipe and it’s wonderful!!

You put everything in the night before and through the magic of the slow cooker, you wake up to yummy, delicious, nutritious oats.  I normally double the recipe and we eat on it all week.  You can go to fast food chains, like McDonald’s, Chick-fil-a, Starbucks, and get their version and pay $2 (or more) for something comparable.  I know this recipe doesn’t come close to that $2 mark & for a little work one evening, you’ll have breakfast for the rest of the week!!!

So, if you haven’t recently, pull out those slow cookers from the appliance graveyard in your kitchen.  Look up some new recipes, try those old ones again.  Make your life easy (and yummy!!).

Happy Friday!!!!!

 

Happy Birthday Cake!

So, what were you doing 8 years ago tonight?  Hard to remember?  I remember like it was yesterday.  I was checking into the hospital.  They were going to induce me the next morning, because Brayden decided he was perfectly cozy where he was and didn’t want to come out.  He was a week late and was making no indication that things were going to change.

After a crazy day of labor, I ended up having him via emergency C-section.  It was not at all the way I imagined it, but when it was all said and done…he was perfect!  My hubby’s favorite joke is that “you should pick someone because they’re beautiful inside, not just on the outside.  That day, I saw Tiffany’s insides…they weren’t beautiful”.  Ha ha ha.

Brayden has been a joy in our lives.  He’s a very laid back, thoughtful little boy.  He’s always wanting to help others.

When he was 1 year old, I made his birthday cake.  Little did I know that it would start a tradition (and a little side business).  I decided to take some cake decorating classes at Hobby Lobby with some friends.  It was a blast!!!  I soon was hooked on shows like Ace of Cakes & Cake Boss.

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Each year, I try to make a cake that reflects his interests.  His first birthday cake was Blue’s Clues.  Then, it went Thomas the Tank Engine, a drum, Lightening McQueen, Mickey Mouse, a Minion from Despicable Me (one of my favorites!) and last year…interactive Angry Birds.  This year, I went with his favorite TV show…Phineas & Ferb.

I found many Phineas and Ferb cakes on Pinterest.  I found this one (sorry, there was something messed up with the link and you can only see the pic).

So, I tried my hand at it.  Now, I will preface this by saying I don’t make a lot of figurines, so they are really rough around the edges.  However, I’m making it for a bunch of kids who are just going to eat it…so I guess I shouldn’t be too worried 🙂

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I really like how the fence turned out.  It’s a good thing too, because I had a hard time for some reason covering the base cake with fondant…kept getting little wrinkles around the bottom.  This is why I love fondant…it covers a lot of mess ups!!

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Meet Ferb

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Phineas…told you figurines is not my thing!

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Oh there you are Perry!!!  He’s one of my favorites!

So, we are all caked up and ready to go for a fun birthday party tomorrow.  I’ll put cake #8 in my Facebook album and go clean up my kitchen.  It looks like a bakery tornado went right through the middle of it!!