Grown-up Talk

I was blessed to have a wonderful friend come over for a couple hours today with her little girl and indulge me in some grown-up mommy talk.  It was fabulous! Thank you Sarah.  I also promised her that I would blog more often about what's going on in our lives.

I was reminded today of the importance of regular fellowship for us stay-at-home/homeschooling mothers.  I can get so caught up in the everyday activities (and messes) of life that I forget to reach out for support, advise, and just good old talk time.  It is so refreshing, inspiring, and uplifting to share the stresses, triumphs, and questions with those who are in the midst of similar situations.  For instance, I found out today that I'm definitely not the only one who struggles with balancing housework and kids, even though it feels like it most of the time.  Imagine that.

I think that fellowship should most certainly be on my list of things I would like to improve in the coming year.  Oh my.  Just thinking about things to improve has my mind reeling.  There are so many things to tackle.  I think this calls for some serious thought and feasible expectations.  A list of five things would probably be a good start.  I'll whittle down my list and produce something manageable for the new year.  I may or may not post them, so don't hold your breath.


Dogs and Hail Storms

The poor moping puppies are having to lay still by the stove and finish drying off after I saved them from the nasty hailstorm that passed through our neighborhood.  Unfortunately, we haven't gotten around to building their doghouse yet, and the weather is turning worse and worse.  The hail started earlier this evening and it was a doozie.  The poor pups didn't have anywhere to hide from it, so I brought them in the house (even though I really don't like dogs in the house).  I ended up giving both of them baths because they were just downright nasty.  Boy was that a chore.  They wouldn't leave each other, so they both ended up in the bathroom with me. Sigh.

After the comedy of washing two nervous dogs and getting mud swiped all over my bathroom, I was able to successfully get them semi-dried and laid down next to the stove.  That's where they've been for the past hour.  They're both asleep now.  However, as you can see in this picture, they weren't too keen on the idea of sitting still at first.

Now to clean the muddy laundry room (which Danner insisted on peeing in) and the nasty muddy tub and cupboards in the bathroom.  Another sigh.  Need that doghouse built ASAP.


Kindergarten Box

I had mentioned a couple of months ago that I had planned on making a fun box for Alexis's special kindergarten items to be stored in.  Well, it has taken me a really long time to get to this project, but it's finally complete.

I went to Borders and purchased one of their big plain brown boxes and used some fantastic scrapbooking paper (and mod podge of course) to create a really fun Kindergarten box.  Now we have a special place to put our favorite pieces from this school year.

Homeschooling: Our New Adventure Begins

Just last week (Thursday to be exact), my 5-year old and I embarked on a new adventure together - Homeschooling. My husband and I had been talking about the advantages and disadvantages of homeschooling, where are convictions come into play with our christian faith, and what steps were we going to take. Homeschooling is a MAJOR decision and not one to be taken lightly, so there has been a lot of praying.

We started our lessons last Thursday, and I have to say, it was really nice. The preparation was a lot of work, but the teaching was fun. She was attentive, excited, and eager. It has been this way for the last four school days. It's been wonderful.

We went to visit her old classroom on Monday to pick up her journal and say goodbye officially to her classmates and her teacher. I was afraid there was going to be sadness and crankiness, but it went really well. Alexis got to hang out with the kids for a little while and answer all their questions about what she's been doing and why she's not coming back. I took that opportunity to talk a little with the teacher (wonderful woman) and became enlightened about something. Alexis had been having trouble with some mischeviousness at school (which I knew about). But, I figured out what the cause was. She was bored out of her mind. She already knew the material that was being taught, so she didn't stay focused long. I'm the same way - "Do you really have to go over that again, I already know it?" Now we are able to work at a pace that works for her and with material that is new to her. We're on 1st grade math already and nearly to 1st grade reading. I expect that we'll make quite an advancement by June. I wouldn't be surprised if she's into 3rd grade material by then. She picks stuff up so quickly and it sticks.

I'm learning a lot as well.  I've never had to write out a curriculum and make lesson plans before, so that's been fun.  The subjects we're working with this year are: bible, reading, writing, math, science, american history, local geography, music, and art.  We don't do all of them every day, but we do have daily bible, reading, writing, and math.  For the other subjects, we schedule two to three days of each.  It's been working really well.  We also have daily journaling, where she gets to write/draw in her journal about anything she wants.  Her frog entry is my favorite so far.  She drew a very nice picture of a frog, colored it, and then wrote at the top of the page, "I kot a frog."  I was very impressed how she had sounded every word out and then wrote the letter for that sound. 

I'll be posting more of what we're doing in the days to come.  There are lots of exciting things planned.  Please keep us in your prayers.


Mommy, I'm Bored

Oh, how I hate these words, especially when I'm trying to recuperate from a nasty wisdom tooth extraction.  My brain cells are maxed out at the moment dealing with pain so I was not prepared when those infamous words came out of my five-year-old's mouth.  Honestly, I thought about crying.  But, then I remembered I have a little tub of small playdoh containers of various colors. 

I decided to completely abandon my usually strict rule of keeping all the colors separate and told the girls to see how many crazy colors they could come up with by mixing two to three colors together in varying amounts.  It worked.  I got some time to curl up on the couch and the girls were happily mixing colors.  Thank you playdoh.


List of Fun Activities

Some Fun Things We've Been Up to This Summer:

1.  Flying kites at the ocean, of course.
2.  Building sandcastles and knocking them down.
3.  Chasing the surf.
4.  Sidewalk chalk galore.
5.  Playdates.
6.  Swimming.
7.  Family Fun Center in Tukwila - Kidopolis (love it).
8.  Splashing in the river.
9.  Running through the sprinkler.
10.  Nights around the firepit making smores - Mmmmm.
11.  Family reunions.

I hope that you all have been having fun this summer too.  I've been reminded at least 20 times today that school is only 10 days away.  My oldest is starting Kindergarten and she is very excited to meet her teacher and find her desk.  I'm excited too, but for very different reasons.  One happens to be the reduction of fighting sessions between her and her two-year-old sister.  It has been very loud (screaming, crying, tattling, etc.) during the days when we're at home.  Oh my, some peace and quiet - that's one thing I'm definately looking forward to.  Yeah!  Kindergarten here we come!

I'll be posting a schoolwork memory box later on.  I've just bought the box itself and now have to figure out how I want to decorate it.  Stay tuned.


Sew a Gift Bag

I have a confession to make.  I have only used a sewing machine a couple of times and it was always with my aunt standing right next to me telling me what to do.  However, I was determined to sew a gift bag for a friend and my aunt wasn't available.  So, I grabbed the user manual for a Singer Quantum XL-100 that I was given to me by a lovely woman (who will go unnamed - but she knows who she is :). 

I spent about an hour setting the system up on my kitchen table, learning how to wind the bobbin, setting up my ironing board, and learning the basic information I needed to know to sew my project.  Then the work began.  I know that it took me about ten times longer to put this gift bag than it would have my aunt, but I think it turned out pretty good for my first solo project.

I apologize for the lack of fantastic photography (I'll have to develop that skill later).  However, I just LOVE this fabric and think the recipient will be please, even if there are a few not-so-straight stitched areas :).  I'm going to try another one now that I know the process and know how to do a better job on it.

If you would like to try your hand at this gift bag, you can find the pattern and tutorial at Sew4Home.

Happy Crafting,

Art Smock from Make It and Love It

Have you seen anything so cute?!  I love this art smock idea from Make It and Love It.  Ashley is so talented.  If you want to see the tutorial on how to put this smock together just go here.

This brings me to a confession.  Do any of you use OneNote?  I do.  I use it to keep track of all the craft projects I want to do when I get time (ha!).  I've added this smock to my sewing list and I have to tell you, it's number 45 on the list.  I haven't put them in the order I'm going to do them yet.  I have a feeling this one's going to be somewhere in the top ten.  Oh, how I really need to get my craft area project done.

Recipe Binder

Do you have meals that you fix every so often that you're family likes but you always need to refer to the recipe?  Do you spend too much time searching for that recipe? I used to.  Then, I made myself a recipe binder with a standardized recipe template to use with it.  It has made my life easier when searching for one of our family favorites, Tex Mex Turkey Soup.  All you need is a three-ringed binder (whatever size you want), page protectors, and dividers.  You can go as pretty or as plain as you want on this project.

I had a little fun making the spine of our binder suit my tastes.  Mmmm.....peppers.  I think decorating the binder is the best part of the whole thing :).  I still have more work to do on mine.

I like to put my recipes in a standardized form using the template above.  Having a spot to put our "family rating" on it also helps to remind me just how often I should use that dish.  We use a five-star system and I only keep recipes that rate 3 or higher.  And, if you're ambitious, you can add a picture of the dish to the top left corner.  It's amazing how just a little organization can make fixing dinner less stressful.

Craft Area Beginnings

I've had in mind to build myself a craft area in our bedroom.  My own personal crafty get-away with just a push of the door (mmm...such precious thoughts). This process will require me to take out one of our windows and do a lot of woodworking, with the help of Ana at Knock-Off Wood.  However, as some of you may know, I'm pretty anal picky about my projects and how they turn out.  So, before I start building the corner desk unit for this project, I decided that a 3-D model of the finished project would be nice to have (to scale, of course).  If you've never played around with Google SketchUp, you're missing out.  I had a blast with it.  You can sketch up any 3-D image you want - yeah!

This is what I came up with.  If you click here, it'll take you to the warehouse where Google keeps their 3-D images that have been uploaded by users.  Then, if you type in "craft area" in the search box, you'll see my model pop up.  I'm in love with the program.  Now I can see what our room is going to look like when I'm all finished.  Of course I'll have to add some custom built nightstands and a king captains bed that Ana so graciously shows people how to build on her site.

Do you see that middle portion of the unit that sticks out?  I'm going to put my embroidery machine there.  Finally, I'll have a permanent location for it.  I feel all warm inside just thinking about it :).

File Folder Journal

I found myself in need of another journal I could carry around with me at all times.  My purse is relatively roomy, so I decided to make another 5 1/2" x 8" - this time with a cover made from a pretty file folder I had.  I found that I have to carry a journal with me at all times because my girls are always doing/saying funny or outrageous things that I will undoubtedly forget by the next week.  So, having a place to jot down those things, along with my own mind's musings, has been absolutely invaluable.

Journal with file folder cover.
Last time I made one of these journals I used some pretty cardstock for the cover.  This time, I had this really pretty file folder that added a little more heftiness to it.  I also decided to add a brad and some elastic so it would stay closed in my purse.  I'm very excited and just love how the colors turned out.  Can't wait to start writing in it.

I will be adding a tutorial on how I made this in a future post.  Need to get some more pictures of the process :)