Direction

So much goodness here! I started searching Amazon for book titles that could help give our homeschooling idea some direction only to discover I already owned a good many that fit right in with our philosophy.

Gathering them all in one place, seeing all the possibilities right in front of me, was inspiring. It’s a good start….a really good start.

I wandered away, or got distracted, or maybe even a little bit bored. No matter how I try and spin it, I stepped away from this blog. Perhaps I was worried I didn’t have enough to say, maybe it felt weird speaking about and taking pictures of my little projects…knowing that there is so much more going on in the world, important things, sad things, scary things. Does my little blog affect anyone? I’m not even sure it was what I wanted it to be.

But I’m back and have something new on my mind. Well, not really new but RE-newed. While my oldest daughter, Meghan, has been homeschooling for all of highschool (she will be a senior next fall!) we have made the decision to bring her youngest sister home to learn as well. Sofia will be seven in October and will be doing roughly first grade work.

She will be homeschooling not because her school is terrible, not because she hasn’t been learning, not because she’s been bullied. Instead, simply because we feel we have more to offer her. I simply don’t feel its age appropriate to have five, six, seven year olds (and beyond!) sitting for hours at a time doing worksheets instead of being out in the world taking in the glory all around. I feel truly blessed that this opportunity is something we can take advantage of. I’m home, I have the time and I can’t think of a better, more worthwhile way to spend it.

Now you may ask what does homeschooling have to do with my grandma for whom this blog is named after. No, Myrna was not technically a homeschooler, she did in fact attend traditional schools from elementary all the way to UC Berkeley. However I believe that she would have loved homeschooling, specifically interest-led homeschooling. She was always teaching herself something new. Furniture refinishing, nutrition, plant rooting, rug hooking, macrame, sewing, crocheting, cooking, pottery and so forth. Wherever her heart led her she would go. Her home was a true testament to her many varied interests and passions.

Sofia is a bright, interesting child. While I’m sure there will be some “formal” curriculum in her future, for now it is our intention to follow her lead, let her explore and discover what it is that she would like to learn about and go from there. I think Myrna would approve!

Here’s a list of books that have been inspiring me lately…

Last Child in the Woods
http://www.amazon.com/Last-Child-Woods-Children-Nature-Deficit/dp/156512605X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400092431&sr=1-1&keywords=last+child+in+the+woods

Free Range Homeschooling
http://www.amazon.com/Free-Range-Learning-Homeschooling-Everything/dp/193538709X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1400092497&sr=1-1&keywords=free+range+homeschool

Project Based Homeschooling
http://www.amazon.com/Project-Based-Homeschooling-Mentoring-Self-Directed-Learners/dp/1475239068/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_y

Learning all the Time (anything by John Holt is a worthwhile read)
http://www.amazon.com/Learning-All-Time-John-Holt/dp/0201550911/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=102H9EP1SQBQFJXVJVV6

Doctor Who Party

Throwing a sweet 16 party for my Doctor Who loving daughter was both fun and educational! Having never seen the show that dominates much of Meghan’s life, I had to become quickly literate in all things “Whovian”. Ok, I will readily admit that I still don’t understand much about the Doctors, but I can at least tell you that it’s a show that involves time travel, utilizing some sort of british police call box…aka the TARDIS. After scouring Pinterest and the official BBC site, I came up with the following…

Gluten Free Vanilla Cupcakes with TARDIS toppers (printed off the Internet after doing an image search)

Bow Ties, because “bow ties are cool”…apparently! (Found locally at Party City)

Daleks (images printed from BBC website)

Clocks set at random times (had on hand)

**the** TARDIS (ordered from Amazon, this was a huge hit!)

“Fish Sticks” and custard (a Doctor favorite! Custard is just instant vanilla pudding, served up fancy in mini martini glasses.The fish sticks are really gluten free peanut butter cookies, coated in peanut butter and rolled in cookie crumbs. Many a guest avoided them because they thought they were real fish sticks…mission accomplished!)

Also pictured above is the Wibbly, Wobbly, Timey, Wimey jello in TARDIS blue of course. (Blue raspberry jello with candy sprinkles and smarties dropped in while it was setting up)

The menu also included:
TARDIS Tacos- a DIY taco bar
Barusa Bean Salad- my recipe, see below
Sonic Screwdriver Punch- simply blue Koolaid with club soda added in for fizz
Beer and Wine for the over 21 crowd

This party was a blast to research and implement. Focusing on a solid color, blue of course, made the prep easy. All of the basics, table covering, balloons, hanging pom-poms, paper/plastic products and goodie bags, came from Party City. The rest involved simple Internet searches. This party came together in just a week and, although I may be biased, was quite successful. One of my favorite touches was the use of plastic wine glasses for all of the beverages. They added an air of sophistication perfect for these kiddos who are rapidly approaching adult hood. They clearly set this gathering apart from a “little kid” party. It wasn’t the typical “Sweet 16”, pink and frilly party, but instead was tailor-made for my quirky, yet totally awesome daughter.

Bean Salad

+ 2 cans black beans- rinsed and drained
+ 2 cobs Fresh corn- cooked, cooled and cut off cob
+ 1 medium cucumber- diced
+ Crumbled feta cheese- add to your taste
+ Juice from 1 fresh lime
+ A few drizzles of olive oil
+ Sea salt to taste
+ Fresh minced cilantro to taste

Stir above ingredients until just combined, chill one hour before serving, Serves 6

sea glass

Unseasonably cool weather found us at a local beach today. Officially called a “field trip” for my homeschooling kiddo, it really was just an excuse for the little ones to run off energy, throw sticks and rocks in the bay and to comb the sands for washed up bits and pieces of old bottles. Sea glass. An interesting science experiment…how the waves and rocks polish and soften the jagged pieces of broken glass down to smooth, opaque beauties. We find greens and ambers but rarely blues, those continue to be elusive. Today’s treasures, along with previous finds, will eventually be used in crafting but for now rest in a jar and in our memories of a simple Tuesday morning at the beach.

Homemade Chalk Paint

Months (years??) ago, I picked up an ugly buffet from Goodwill. It was a hideous shade of brown. I’m not even sure what it was made from, as it was the shiniest “wood” I’d ever seen. It was immediately pressed into service as a sofa table, used to hold overflow table linens. I intended to paint it….someday! But the timing was never right, nap times too short, too many curious fingers. Finally the day arrived when all the stars were aligned! Both of the younger kiddos were down at the same time AND they both finally understand that really they’re not supposed to touch something if Mommy says “no touching!” Oh, and it helps that no one needed dropping off or picking up!

I had done some prior research and knew that I wanted to try out a homemade version of chalk paint. Originally I figured I’d just order some Annie Sloans but at close to $30 a quart (choke.cough.gasp) that certainly wasn’t going to happen. Instead I purchased a quart of antique white from Lowes and a box of plaster of paris, yup, the same stuff used to make all those kiddie handprints from so long ago. I mixed up a couple of batches using 1:3 ratio of PoP to paint. The advantage of this method is that I didn’t have to sand OR prime the buffet first! Huge time saver! Once mixed I just rolled it on with a small foam roller. It went on nice and thick, although to get a nice even texture I ended up putting on 3 coats. I lightly distressed the corners and edges with fine grit sandpaper to age it a bit. After a night to cure, I added a thin layer of wax to protect the finish.

I LOVE the finished product…so worth the wait. And I couldn’t be happier with my DIY chalk paint. It’s holding up beautifully and the color possibilities are endless!

Now if I could just decide on hardware!

Sewing Machine Cover

Using a simple idea from Martha Stewart, I turned a yard of fabric into a custom sewing machine cover. I chose turquoise and hot pink to match my craft area. It couldn’t have been an easier project, full of straight lines, no official measurements, just lots of eye-balling and almost nothing to pin…in other words perfect for me! It came together quickly, in less than 20 minutes time. Such an easy way to jazz up my machine!

Weekend Musings

My grandmother didn’t seem to give much thought to the things hanging on her walls. Once a work of art was hung it never moved. The collage made out of various nuts and seeds that pieced together to make a fall scene complete with a walnut squirrel, was always to be found hanging at the end of her kitchen cabinets. The souvenir spoons from places near and far could be forever admired on the wall between the kitchen and living room. The hooked rug depicting our family cabin hung above the fireplace, and was moved only after her death when it made its long journey from California to Maryland to grace my moms wall.

I, on the other hand, give WAY to much thought to the things that I will have to gaze upon on a daily basis. All of the things in my world (aka my home) are measured against my personal mantra…that all things need to be necessary, purposeful or bring me joy . This is most certainly true with the things I choose to decorate with. Three years ago we completed an addition on our home, and up until this weekend the walls in our master bedroom remained vacant. I simply could not find something that was joy inducing, worthy of hammering nails into our unmarred walls.

It occurred to me that I had saved all of the impossibly tiny outfits that my four kiddos wore home from hospital, and after a bit of Internet inspiration, came up with a display idea. I picked up four basic frames from Michaels, removed the glass and wrapped each cardboard insert in a bit of batting and light-weight burlap. I then pinned each outfit to the backing. So far they seem to be holding up nicely, but as gravity takes over I may need to add a few more pins.

While I, unlike my grandma, DO move my things around, forever fussing with getting the “just right” placement, I think these may have found a forever home, bringing me joy with every glance. Now if I could just decide on something for above our bed…

Valentines Day

This morning I awoke to a bit of snow on the ground and an anxious 11 year old claiming to have missed her bus. Of course this propels me into panic mode…fly out of bed, jump into a pair of yoga pants, no time for a bra, grab the keys and go! Delivering said child safely to her middle school, with 2 minutes to spare until bell time (whew!), I drive leisurely home and come face to face with red roses my hubby left for me, on the counter, along with a lovely sappy card and a half eaten Cadbury egg…seems SOMEONE (Sofia!) had to assess its tastiness on my behalf. 😉 However just that half of the egg gave me energy to do some actual cleaning, yes, I even turned on the vacuum! Ok, to be fair, I HAD to turn on the vacuum after one of my down pillows exploded its feathers all over my hall way, but still, it counts! I did manage to turn this…

Into this…

So on this Valentines day, my home is a bit fresher, and feather free and I have the pleasure of gazing upon a little piece of my husbands love for me.

Pinterest Part II

Oh Pinterest how I love thee! After several days of pouring over thousands of pins that had nothing to do with my February goals, (it’s just too easy to get distracted and off track on Pinterest!), I have settled on these projects that I’m going to try and accomplish this month…

Sew this:
http://www.marthastewart.com/266736/sewing-machine-cover

Hunt for one or two of these and hang them in Joshua’s room:

Tackle a few drawers:
http://lifehacker.com/5726442/fill-dresser-drawers-from-front-to-back-instead-of-top-to-bottom

Organize my greeting cards:
http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/2013/01/greetings-card-organization.html

Win the winter gear war with a couple of these:
http://www.etsy.com/listing/74358365/personalized-tote-bag-for-boy?ref=sr_gallery_21&ga_search_query=personalized+tote+bag&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_ship_to=US&ga_ref=auto1&ga_search_type=all&ga_facet=personalized+tote+bag

Pinterest Possibilities

Ok, I looked and looked over the three books I was contemplating and nothing, project wise, jumped out at me. Sure, they were full of lovely pictures, some even with essays and back stories. But no sparks were ignited.

I’m realizing more and more how much my home is in disarray. I know this because when I go looking for some random thing it takes me more than a few minutes to find said object. Occasionally it takes me even longer and more often than I’d like I can’t locate it at all!

My house is storage challenged, a politically correct way of saying this house sucks for storage! We have so few closets, and those we do have are small. Sure we have two sheds, but one is filled to the brim with outdoor gear and Christmas decorations. The other houses my hubby’s workshop, aka wood warehouse, and a bit of spill over from the house (namely appliances my well meaning mother-in-law decided we NEEDED). What I’m trying to say here, is that there are not enough places for all of our stuff! Despite a massive purge this past fall we still have too much.

The biggest problem with not having a “home” for each little thing, is that I spend WAY too much time “tidying”! I’m forever picking up and putting away, as my mom would say. Because of this I never get around to doing any actual cleaning. My vacuum is gathering dust, and not in a good way, my magic erasers haven’t been performing any magic, my swiffers are not swiffering; my dust bunnies are multiplying and I have serious cobwebs hanging from my light fixtures.

The point of all this?? Instead of focusing strictly on crafts this month, I am going to spend some time on Pinterest and find a few ideas I can implement to get a better handle on the S-T-U-F-F. I have a big idea to add a ton of storage but need to get Nick on board first! In the meantime I will use what we have, get rid of more junk, and, if the stars align just right, maybe even do a dust bunny round-up.

I will return with some Pinterest links soon!