Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Goals for March-April 2015

I'm still on a blogging break! Really! I'm just stopping by, and then I will get back to work. 

This year, I had phenomenal success with my New Year's resolutions. Why? Here's what I learned to do that has made all the difference:

I wrote my resolutions as achievable goals. 

Most New Year's resolutions are written as lofty but unattainable goals, meaning that they can never be completed, finished and checked off. For example:
  • Read more Shakespeare
  • Improve my Bible study habits
  • Write to my aunt more often

Good intentions, but impossible to complete or measure.

But this time, I wrote my resolutions as specific, attainable goals. Here are a couple:

  • Write one letter to my aunt 
  • Buy one maternity skirt
  • Fill out my Christmas to-do notebook 

I made my resolutions to cover only a two-month span (instead of an entire year), and I was actually able to complete almost all of them. (Getting the carpets cleaned didn't get done, but I have accepted that that is one item on my to-do list that may never get done. Or if it does, it will be a miracle.)

This method worked so well that I have decided to continue it! I hope to post my bi-monthly (achievable!) goal list on my blog so that you all can see what I'm doing. 

Love to you all, dear readers! I'll be back in another week or two when I finish my book-list update project!


Goals for March and April 2015


  • Write a letter to Aunt M.
  • Email my aunt and uncle
  • Audit my list of supplements
  • Research supplement purchases
    • Amazon
  • Lose the baby weight 
  • Go shopping for clothes after losing baby weight
  • Find several keto dessert recipes
  • Write 3 thank-you notes for G's birthday gifts
    • Grandma and Grandpa (boots/hat/truck book)
    • Grandma and Grandpa (money for open gym)
    • Aunt/Uncle (money for water bottle and aquarium)


  • Freeze lemon juice
  • Zest lemons for mom
  • Get the carpets cleaned 
  • Clean out master closet
  • Rearrange master closet for clothing storage 
  • Set up storage in master closet
  • Celebrate April Fool's Day 
  • Celebrate Easter (dye eggs, Benjamin's Box, Jello Eggs, egg hunt, church on Good Friday and Easter)
  • Celebrate St. Patrick's Day (corned beef and cabbage, green ice cream, Irish soda bread, green cookies)
  • Celebrate Uncle T's birthday (mail card and cookies, call)


  • Finalize curriculum choices for 2015
    • History
    • Science
  • Make a summer break notebook
  • Develop a new chore schedule to start over summer break
  • Finish the school year
  • Enjoy our summer break
  • Clean out homeschool cupboard
  • Clean out homeschool shelf
  • Make list of supplies needed
  • Purchase supplies
  • Finish all end-of-the-year book-keeping
  • Curriculum summaries
  • Copies of records for student notebooks
  • Write semi-annual goal sheet for students for next year
  • Create C's weekly checklist for next year
  • Order curriculum (English and math)
  • Get out piano teaching materials, review

Have a lovely week, dear readers! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

It's Time for...

... a quick blogging break!

Recently, I decided that I need to finish a project - bringing my family book list up to date. It's just one of those things that has been at the back of my mind, nagging me, but it simply hasn't gotten done.

It's time to knock that puppy out!

Translation = I need to take a blogging break until my other project is finished. Hopefully it won't take too long (I've finished editing 85 out of 125 pages), and I'm hoping that holding my blog over my own head ("You can't blog until you're done!") will be an effective tool to help get this project DONE. My goal is to finish within two weeks.

Other projects I'm working on:

- Planning next year's curriculum
- Keeping the garden alive
- Writing out my next quarter's goals
- Turning our master closet into a storage unit for children's clothing
- Cleaning out the garage before the weather turns

I'll still be reading blogs, and I hope to be back to publishing posts within a fortnight!

Love to all!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

(Almost) Walking!

Here is our baby with special needs (age five and a half) doing some supervised cruising! Daddy videoing while his OT therapist guides and coaches.

Actual unassisted walking is still several years away (minimum!), but this is wonderful progress! We are all celebrating our little guy's accomplishments.

Have a wonderful week, friends!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Tidbits for February 18th

Why We Homeschool - "I homeschool because of the benefits I personally received from it. It IS a sacrifice. I'll admit the odd jealous twinge when I see moms drop their kids off at school and meet for coffee or go shopping. But in the end, I KNOW it is worth it." (Hip Homeschooling)

Why I Don't Publicly Share My Due Date - "I’m one of those crazy moms that probably drive you batty." (The Modest Mom)

Homeschool Information Overload (First in the series)- "I enjoy research.  I enjoy learning about new curricula... But when the information we acquire from all our research, blog reading, and discussions with friends stops us dead in our tracks and keeps us from moving forward with energy, enthusiasm, and faith, we have to learn to shut it down." (Raising Arrows)

10 Homesteading Ideas That Can Save You Money - I could stand to work on a lot of these. (Growing in His Grace via Thrifty T's Treasures)

Age With Zeal - Yes, yes, yes! (Out of the Ordinary, Hat Tip to
"Aging is a part of God's created order, and as Christian women, we don't want to be sucked into the pursuit of eternal youth. We want to embrace that grey hair, those hard won wrinkles, that extra girth around the middle which demonstrates the years of living which we've done. We don't want to look like those aging celebrities who inject their faces with stuff that makes them look as though they've been attacked by a vacuum cleaner. We don't want resort to dressing like we're twenty-one in the name of taking pride in our aging bodies. But aging is more than bodily changes; it's about our hearts, minds, and attitudes." (Age With Zeal)

Fun Stuff

Beethoven's Wig

This is a series of classical pieces with funny lyrics added. We are especially fond of the first number, "Beethoven's Wig." Watch an animated version of that number here.

Have a wonderful week, dear readers! 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Meet Our Two Newest Family Members!

Nope, not twins...

Apple Trees!

Last year I saved my birthday money to spend on apple trees this Spring. Today was the day!

Actually, it took all weekend to shop for the trees, purchase, pick up, and plant. It was quite a process.

As you can guess, apple trees are not a prime species for the Phoenix valley. However, there are a few varieties that can survive here. The four choices at our local nursery were Dorset, Anna, Fuji, and Pink Lady. We originally chose a Dorset and an Anna, but changed our minds after finding that both were descendants of the Golden Delicious (never my favorite) and ended up purchasing a Fuji and a Pink Lady.

I had decided long ago (twenty years?) that I wanted to "give" a tree to each of our children as his or her "birth tree" (following the tradition of L.M. Montgomery's "The Story Girl"). Thus, our eldest two children received their trees first, and we were able to bury the 5yo's placenta remnants under his tree. (Yes, we still had it in the freezer after five years.)

With the 8yo and his Fuji:

With the 5yo and his Pink Lady:

Next year I hope to buy two more fruit trees, and so on and so forth. My goal is to have fully producing trees by the time we have teenagers to feed. The children eat like ravenous hyenas as it is, so we will need some serious FOOD around here in another ten years!

After we have enough fruit trees, I'd love to plant some non-fruiting trees (like my beloved cottonwood). But for now, feeding the family comes first!

I have been meaning to get around to this for several years, so I was happy to see the completion of a long-anticipated goal. It was actually quite a bit of work, and my husband was really a trooper in helping me to get this project completed.

Now, to take care of them properly and keep them from dying over their first summer!

The tree is already planted, but that's not going to stop him digging a hole for it! 

To any fellow desert-dwellers, what fruit trees have you found that take well to Phoenix weather?

Have a wonderful week, dear readers!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Happy Third (Month) and Happy Third (Year)!

This past week we had one of those fun once-in-a-life time dates - our third-born turned three years old on the same day that our newest turned three months old! How cool is that?

As a matter of fact, it was almost down to the minute, considering that the 3yo was born at 9:33 a.m. (in 2012) and the baby was born at (approximately) 10:06 a.m. (in 2014).

Fun stuff!

The 8yo spent some time decorating the house with streamers and coloring pictures for the occasion. Presents will come later when grandparents visit.

We celebrated with a special birthday dinner (egg rolls!) and homemade chocolate cake and ice cream.

Someone may or may not have gotten into the ice cream before he was supposed to.

We also took time off of school to work on making Valentine's Day boxes and valentines for our homeschool group's Valentine's Day party, which was held on the following day.

Here's the picture we took of the two of them together!

The 3yo is currently gaining multiple new words every day and stringing them together in increasingly complex ways. He alternates being cute as a bug with throwing some pretty good tantrums (he still doesn't hold a candle to the 8yo's former achievements in that category, though!). He is a natural-born helper, and a bit of a neat-freak (hurray!!).

The 3mo is an absolute darling - our easiest baby so far. She is treating us to some charming smiles, and has added some adorable cooing and chattering to her repertoire of cuteness. She's also working hard on turning onto her side. We are all enjoying her thoroughly, and the boys dote on her.

Here's a quick video of some cuteness:

My husband videoed while the 8yo entertained baby. The loud noises in the background are the 3yo "helping" me get lunch - heaven help us all.

Happy birthday to all involved!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homeschool Edition: Skills Training Time

One of my all-time favorite homeschooling books is Terri Maxwell's "Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit." I highly recommend this excellent book!

As you all know, one of my major goals for this year is working on crafting a more peaceful home atmosphere. In reviewing this book toward that purpose, I was especially drawn to some of Terry's words particularly addressed to the problem of mothers who deal with unnecessary anger because they have not properly trained their children to responsible habits.

She says:
"Have you ever considered how much of your day is spent on the defensive when dealing with almost insignificant discipline issues such as: flush the toilet, don't slam the door, chew with your mouth closed, hang up your coat? Often these little situations are the ones that build up to the point where anger bursts from continual frustration.
"What about being on the offensive? ... Do you want your children to put their shoes and socks away when they take them off? Then you will need to have a time set aside in your day when you are training them to do this task...
"Work on a handful of tasks and attitudes during training time until you are comfortable that the children are beginning to implement them during the day on their own... The possibilities for proactive teaching and training are endless." (pp. 81-82)

Okay, then!

And thus, after a few weeks of procrastination, we began "Skills Training Time" - so named in order to give a more "military" feel to the whole thing, which delights the 8yo.

We do our Skills Training Time each school day morning right after breakfast. Each short session (usually between five and ten minutes) covers a specific skill - either a character skill (obedience, sibling relations), a responsibility issue, or a basic skill.

We are not following any set curriculum (and indeed, I don't know of any in existence). I simply go by whatever skill pops into my mind that is needed in our home or that would be useful to our children. Over time, I expect that this will greatly expand to cover many, many topics. Right now, though, we're just at the beginning!

Here are some of the topics we have taught (or discussed) during Skills Training Time:

  • How to peel and cut up a carrot
  • How to use Barkeeper's Friend (a scrubbing powder) on the sink
  • The Obedience Game
  • How to deal with a younger sibling taking a toy away
  • How to hang up your coat when coming inside
  • How to put your shoes neatly by the door when coming inside
  • Hand-washing
  • Hanging up bath towels
  • How to introduce oneself to an adult

I will report in later to let you all know how this goes over the long-term. For now, I think it's a keeper!

(I should note that we have separate times in our school day for covering manners and safety skills, so those topics aren't generally included in Skills Training.)

Homeschoolers, do you have anything similar in your daily schedule? What skills or attitudes have you worked on in your homeschool?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Planning for Next Year's Homeschool Curriculum

This week is the final week of our next-to-last term for the year. After a quick break (hurray!), we'll be back in for a final six weeks before summer. (Though it may be a bit more this year, to make up for some time lost when our little one was born.) Time is getting close!

Our 2015 school year will start in May - and thus, it's time for some hardcore curriculum planning!

(Actually, I've been in planning mode for at least four or five months, but now it's time to kick it up a notch.)

And thus, to give you a glimpse into the (usually often sometimes sane) mind of a homeschooling mama, here are the ideas, issues, and questions that are currently bouncing around in my head.

For the coming year, we will have one student in third grade, one preschooler, and two babies (one by age and one by special needs).


We found it, we loved it, we're sticking with it. (Christian Light math rocks!)


We love Handwriting Without Tears (review here). However, their third-grade book goes into cursive. And to be quite honest, our son's printing leaves much to be desired (and that's being quite complimentary). He is in no way ready for cursive when the world of printing is still so foreign to him. Thus, we'll be using a copywork book that I picked up for him at a curriculum exchange, and hopefully that will help his penmanship. Also, the English curriculum we have selected also includes some penmanship.


We love the Maps series by Modern Curriculum Press (review here)- we'll definitely be sticking with that.

English (a.k.a. Language Arts)

English (including grammar, spelling, and composition) is a new subject this year, and figuring out a curriculum choice has been quite a challenge.

One lesson that I have learned is how helpful it is to sit under my husband's leadership when it comes to curriculum choices (as well as all other life choices!). When I sat down with him today to go over our curriculum choices, his opinion was definite and decided - and sent me in the direct opposite way of that which I had tentatively planned. However, I am completely at peace with his decision, and I think it's a good one. It will also save us money!

Which English curriculum did we select? You'll have to wait till our 2015 Curriculum Round-Up post to find out! (Oh, the suspense!)

The English curriculum we have picked includes grammar and spelling, but not composition. To cover composition, we are going to try a "notebook" technique that I discovered while reading "Homeschooling for Excellence." We'll see how that goes - I'm pretty excited about it!

History and Science

As I mentioned a few days ago, our country studies this year have not been a great success. We're really not sure where we want to go next for history and science. Two things we do know: (1) We want to continue learning about history and science with as many real books as we can, and (2) We want to get back into doing weekly science experiments.


Our history/science read-aloud time has, over the past half-year, morphed into more of a literature read-aloud time. We have read lots of books this year! We definitely want to keep that up.

While we encourage the children to read as much as possible, and keep up a steady supply of library books (while developing our own library), we have not yet added any required reading to the schedule. Will we? That's another good question.


We already do morning devotions with mama and evening devotions with daddy. To that we are going to add required personal Scripture reading for the 8yo. We will use one of the many available through-the-Bible-in-a-year schedules (not sure which yet) and ask him to read the New Testament section only, and then to take any questions to mama or daddy.

Music Appreciation

A friend gave me a great idea for music appreciation - easy, fast, effective. Basically - choose a well-known piece each week, play it once a day, and have the children memorize the name and composer. That's it! I'm hoping to use this idea.

We also sing hymns in the mornings (most of the time), which is a great way to learn to appreciate classical and historical music.

Art Appreciation

We will continue to use Ambleside Online's Art Study. Easy, fast, painless!

Arts and Crafts

We hope to incorporate occasional crafts. However, I may leave this mostly for our breaks, when we have more time (and time that needs to be filled!).


I had originally planned to start typing in third grade. However, with our son's penmanship needing so much help (ditto with spelling), this is no longer the plan. We will wait to try typing until his writing and spelling skills are more well-developed, which may not be for several more years.


Maybe. Maybe not. Then again, maybe. (Another question that has to be answered!).

Foreign Language

Nope. I'll be satisfied to see him get English down, let alone foreign languages.

Areas of focus this year will be on our son's weak skills, As you can probably guess, his strong areas are reading and math (he reads voraciously and picks up math lessons effortlessly), while his weak areas include anything to do with writing (either composition or the mechanical skills of putting pencil to paper). He is also weak in areas of responsibility, so we're working hard on that as well.

In another month or two, I'll publish our final curriculum decisions.

How are your plans coming for the following year? I can't wait to read about them!

This Year's Country Unit Studies (How They Went!)

For this year and last year, we used "Galloping the Globe," (a set of country unit studies) for history, science, and literature. Galloping the Globe is primarily a booklist (hurray!), and it also provides recipes, games, crafts, activities, websites, and some basic worksheets for each country.

The success of Galloping the Globe depends on having a large amount of real books available to one's family. This means that either (1) you buy a lot of books!, or (2) your local library has a good selection available to you.

Last year, we did the Introductory unit and then England and China. To say that these unit studies were a success would be a huge understatement! We had a wonderful time. Each study lasted about four months, and we read hundreds of books, made tens of recipes, and completed lots of crafts. We have nothing but good to say about Galloping the Globe.

Crafts from our unit study on China.

However, this year's unit studies were unfortunately not nearly so successful. As a matter of fact, they were rather dismal.


Several reasons.

First of all, morning sickness. That does tend to take away one's enthusiasm for extras.

Secondly, minor burnout from really overdoing it on the previous year's awesomeness. It's taken most of the year to get over that.

Thirdly, as opposed to the previous year (when our library was overflowing with books on our chosen countries), this year the library's selections were... pathetic. Absolutely pathetic. As in, "Ack! There's nothing here!!"

The countries we studied (or tried to study) were Germany, Israel, and France. Here's how they went:

For Germany, the only available real books were German fairy tales. And more fairy tales. Endless fairy tales. In other words, I never want to see another fairy tale again.

In all honesty, they were interesting. And fun. And we read many fairy tales that I had never heard of. But in terms of learning about Germany, it was rather limited.

For Israel, the only available books were collections of books on Jewish holidays. Interesting at first, deadly dull by the end. Besides one Jewish fairy tale, that was all that the library had.

For France, out of an entire page-long book list, the library had two books - Babar and Madeline. I gave up in disgust before we even tried.

I was actually surprised by the paucity of books available. We do not have a tiny library - we have an enormous library, with four separate locations - I'm guessing it's probably one of the larger library systems in our state.

So where were the books?

Of course, there were plenty of dry, factual books about the different countries. The type that read, "The imports or Country X are such-and-such. The exports of Country X are thus-and-thus." You know, the type that cause any normal child (or adult) to dive for cover, and with good reason.

But the good, real books that we treasure?

They weren't there. At least not for this year's countries.

Are libraries clearing out real books and relying more on electronic resources? I certainly hope not, though I wouldn't be surprised. One way or the other, though, the library was not very helpful this year in helping to create our unit studies.

For the remainder of the year, we just checked out books on many different subjects (World War II, spies, Antarctica, aircraft, special forces, snakes, the Amish, space and space exploration, etc.) as well as reading from a wide variety of fiction. (I'll publish our read-aloud booklist for the year in another couple of months.)

One fun (and amazing) thing that I am learning about children is that they actually self-educate. If I get enough good books and have them available, the children just gravitate normally toward them and read-read-read. Soon I'm getting lectures on various historical subjects that I haven't taught - the children picked it up on their own!

That's a dangerous discovery.

And of course, the fact that children do indeed self-educate when placed in a learning-rich environment is one of the underpinning philosophies of the unschooling movement. I totally get that (and support that!). But while I do love incorporating aspects of unschooling into our home education program, I am primarily a more traditionally-minded mama, and I do want some sort of formal curriculum to cover the bases.

Where do we go from here? I have no idea. While I'm a huge fan of Galloping the Globe, I don't know if things will improve (in terms of book availability at our library) if we try to use it again next year. It depends on what the library has to offer on whatever countries we would choose, and that is something we won't find out unless we try it. I'm really in limbo at the moment.

This is a subject that we are currently discussing and praying about, and I don't have any answers yet. But God is faithful, and He always provides the answers that we need in His perfect timing. I will keep plugging away at this issue, and we will eventually find what works for our family, with the Lord's help.

Home education is a never-ending adventure!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tidbits for February 10th

Vertigo? Now You Can Treat It at Home - I can't count how many people I know who have dealt with this (including my own husband). This is exciting stuff! (Deep Roots at Home)

Reasons We Fail as Homemakers - "Finding out what our pitfalls are is the first step to defeating them." (Growing In His Grace)

How Many Children Do You Have? - "How to answer the question of how many children you have honestly, without garnering sympathy you don't want, without dredging up emotions at a vulnerable time, or feeling like you are denying/excluding the children no longer living is a challenge." (Contentment Acres)

Why Methylation Matters and How You Can Improve It - While this show is geared toward hyperemesis mothers, the content of this particular podcast applies to anyone who suffers from health problems. I have been amazed at what I've learned so far (halfway through). Definitely worth a listen. (HyperG Pregnancy)

When My Baby Stopped Breathing - "What I discovered is that fear originates from Satan and is a result of lack of trust. Jesus wants me to walk in victory, not cower to the enemy." (Treasures from a Shoebox)

Have a wonderful week, dear readers!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Around Here, February 2015

Just a few notes of what's been going on around here...

My husband attended a local conference for family-integrated churches! - It was wonderful! He got to hear Voddie Baucham speak four or five times, plus other local pastors. This is an awesome annual conference, and we hope he'll be able to attend every year.

This year the 8yo went with him, which was wonderful! I can't say that the 8yo was thrilled to listen to session after session of speakers, but he was delighted to have so many children to play with between sessions. I'm dying of envy that I wasn't able to go, but maybe sometime!

We had rain! Really! - And not typical "Arizona rain," in which the sky is clearing up even while the clouds desperately try to give us a few minutes of drizzle before dispersing, but real rain. It actually stayed cloudy for two days!

And not only that, but the day afterwards we had.... FOG! Real fog! We get fog about once every other year, and this was the best I've seen yet in this area. We even had to stop to take pictures - that's how excited we were.

The 3yo insisted on dressing up for the occasion - a period hat, ear muffs, and gardening gloves. Proper Sunday attire, for sure.

Now, if we could only have this two or three hundred days out of the year, I'd be set.

Our final Christmas decorations came down! - Really! My husband and I were so proud of ourselves. Like I said, it's usually at least April or May before we achieve this miracle. We felt much better. 

Next we're we're thinking of getting a real tree just to save all the hassle of tying up the artificial one and stuffing it back in its box every year. 

Helping Daddy. 

I'm still off of Facebook! No plans to go back, but it's a waiting game. I'm now at the point (six weeks in) when I caved last time, so we'll see where this adventure goes from here. I had my husband change my password and then deactivate my account, so at least I've got a few safeguards against temptation.

And finally... baby smiles! - Baby has been delighting us these past few weeks with the most charming smiles. She is such a darling! She is also getting quite mobile and is showing sides of wanting to turn on her side. Toddlerhood is not far away!

Have a wonderful Sabbath, dear readers!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Homeschool Edition: Character Curriculum Books

I had read for years about using character curriculum as part of school time, but until this past year I rather ignored it. I was busy enough, we already did Bible time, and to be honest it sounded a bit dull.

This year, however, I had a character-based book sitting around and figured - hey, might as well use it. Why not?

To my surprise, the children loved it! Loved it as in LOVED IT. It was a huge hit. They were begging for more! Who would have guessed?

Honestly, this was a big surprise to me. I always thought that children would hate character curriculum because of the obviously taught morals and lessons. But I was mistaken. They adored it, and I believe that it was a very positive part of our homeschool year.

Character curriculum is a keeper. 

Here is the book with which we started - Character Trails by Marilyn Boyer.

This book lists a number of character traits (generosity, etc.). Each trait has three short chapters illustrating the trait - one from the Bible, one from history, and one from the life of a modern family.

As I said, it was a huge hit!

After we finished "Character Trails," we moved on to Storytime with the Millers by Mildred Martin. Each chapter illustrates a particular lesson or character trait. It is is well-written and beautifully illustrated, and we loved it.

The Miller books are actually a series - we hope to collect more of these!

I should note that I've been trying to read this book to the family for years - this year is the first time that the 8yo has been mature enough to appreciate it. I'm so thankful he's finally able to enjoy chapter books!

After we finish this book (tomorrow), we'll be on the lookout for our next character curriculum book. I'm considering using the Amish series, "Ellie's People" (which I love!) or the Grandma's Attic series until something else turns up.

Readers, any suggestions? I'd love to hear them!

Shared at:
Modest Monday Link-up

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tidbits for February 4th

To Begin With...

Let's start at the beginning, folks - with an apology! A sweet reader wrote to remind me that in my last Tidbits edition, I had posted a link to a blog entry that contained several obscenities. That link has been removed, and I offer to you, my dear readers, an apology - to everyone in general, and especially to those of you who clicked on the link. I will keep a closer eye on articles from here on out!


A Day in the Life of a Preschooler - Yes. Oh, yes. (Smockity Frocks)

Birth Control Pills: Men Get Free Sex, Women Get Cancer - "They inject synthetic hormones in cows, and everyone freaks out. They prescribe it to perfectly healthy women, and we scream “liberation!” Something is wrong here." (The Matt Walsh Blog)

Should Wives Be Teaching Their Husbands? - I have spent many years learning this hard lesson. (Always Learning)

Destruction-Proofing Your Family - This was an absolutely awesome series. If you missed it the first time, don't miss it now! My favorite is Part 5. (Like Mother, Like Daughter)

From the Bookshelf

The Nesting Place: It Doesn't Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful 

I have no idea why I'm reading this book. I vaguely think it was recommended by another book... or a blogger... or some random force of the universe. And I can already tell you - folks, it's no use. You can't improve decorating techniques in a woman who was born without a trace of fashion sense (that person being Yours Truly). But I intend to enjoy this darling little book anyway - it's so fun and delightful, even if my walls will be just as bare after as before.

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change 

I know, I know. This book has been out forever (like, since before I was born). What took me so long to read it? But now that I've finally gotten around to it, it is just as amazing as I've always heard. So far, this is a real winner!

Homeschooling for Excellence

A married couple shares their experiences of homeschooling their four sons while homesteading in rural northern California. A fun and easy read - I always love to hear others' experiences in home education.

The Recipe Corner

3-Minute Skillet Granola - Easy, fast, versatile, and child-friendly. I used this as a "teach the 8yo to cook" project, and it was a big success!

What happened when the 3yo got ahold of it is another story, but I'll spare you the pictures. Too painful.

The outcome? Delicious, and highly recommended! We used coconut oil, honey, and cinnamon. (The Common Room)

Have a wonderful weekend, dear readers! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Learning to Love Mismatched Dishes

Many years ago, I read a homeschooling mama-of-many saying that her family's dishes were all mismatched items from Goodwill. The family would wait until they had broken enough dishes, and then off to Goodwill they would go to collect more. Each dish was unique, and they loved the variety.

I thought that was sweet, but I didn't consider it an option for our family.

Don't get me wrong. I love Goodwill. To be truthful, I shop nowhere else. I already love buying mismatched coffee cups there. In fact, one of the great joys of my life is heading to Goodwill to pick out new coffee cups when we've finally broken enough to have room for more.

But actual dishes? No, no, no - those need to be matching. Perfectly matching. It's just an unbreakable law of nature, don't you know?

Only one thing stood in the way of my perfectly matched dish sets - that thing being my family. It's a rare day that goes by around here without the sound of glass breaking, despite my best efforts. (They can even break Corelle!)

And finally, I had to admit the sad truth. Either we spend time and energy (that I don't have) and a lot of money (that I don't have) tracking down matching replacements, or... we head to Goodwill.

And so we did!

And once again... I'm in love. I absolutely adored going through the dishes to pick out lovely mismatched pieces to make up our collection.

I can't wait to do it again.

Obviously, a miracle has occurred. Another obsessive-compulsive-perfection-seeking barrier broken... CHECK!

Perhaps if I live in this crazy family long enough, they'll succeed in breaking me of all (most?) of my unhealthy perfectionist tendencies. That would take a work of God, but if I can learn to live (happily!) with mismatched dishes, anything is possible.

And so, local friends, if you want to do me a big favor, come over and break a dish! That puts me one dish closer to a lovely trip to Goodwill to buy more mismatched pieces.

Another find of the day - a book holder for the boys' room! 

Have a wonderful evening, dear readers!