Friday, August 21, 2015

Friday's Make and Learn

So I tried something...

and I think it turned out pretty darn cute. I have no idea what it's suppose to be - a hedgehog mouse? I don't care much - with a pincushion this precious I think I'll be super inspired to sew this fall. 


Also - to my greatest delight - I have become acquainted with Charlotte Mason and her awe inspiring wisdom. Our home school flow this year has been going so much better then ever before (since adopting a more Classical approach.) However, I hadn't yet learned about the importance of teaching the "arts." I love the arts - I am a romantic. I love paintings and music and poetry. I can say though that in my school years I never learned very much about these concepts. Imagine my joy when I discovered a couple days ago that I could spend TIME on these in my kids schooling - and that it would be beneficial. I know...I know. I should have already known this. But I didn't. 
That's why homeschooling has been amazing for us - we have been introduced to so many more options and ways of exploring then I ever imagined. What I love so much about a Classical approach is that it flows - it's full of grace and movement and creativity... short spurts of action and then rest...but always always feeding the mind. It's enjoyable. It's learning without the feeling of your brain imploding. This is a good thing.


Today we started our first composer and artist unit study. We chose Van Gogh and Mozart. We are going to take 5 - 6 weeks learning about these two men. I told my kids that when we meet a new friend it takes awhile to get to know them ... we have to have long conversations, ask a lot of questions about them, learn their likes and their dislikes. Knowing takes time. Hopefully at the end of September Vincent and Wolfgang will be dear friends. 


We are also starting Charlotte's Web as our Read A Loud - something I haven't done very much except for your "run of the mill" night time story. Today I read chapter one as we drank tea and the kids worked on their own Starry Night .... Mozart in the background. We also loved learning about The Marriage of Figaro - when I heard the songs I recognized them but never in my life knew that they were from an Opera. We watched some of the Opera on Youtube ... very entertaining. The kids had so much fun and the best part... they loved learning. 


Their completed art - Trin added some purple glitter to hers.


Brady looked up Van Gogh's signature and tried to draw it on the side - I think he did really well. We also enjoyed this clip very much and it sparked a great conversation on why it's so important to do what we love not necessarily for praise and acknowledgement...but because it brings joy to ourselves and to others. It's sad that Van Gogh didn't understand that he himself was a beautiful work of art made by an awesome Creator. 

Happy Friday Friends!

Friday, August 14, 2015

What I want, love, have

 ~What I have, what I don't, what I want, what I love ~


Have : 
An immense craving for bread, which I took care after two days of "I probably shouldn't..."
Sourdough bread with a drizzle of honey is heaven.


Have:
A husband that spoils me with his love constantly and with his money when he has it. 
I especially love bouquets that come wrapped in brown paper and tied with real ribbon.


Have Not :
A tan. This little girls crisscross lines on her back make me somewhat envious.
She is my little gingerbread girl, and I'm her sugar cookie.


Maybe Have and Maybe Not:
Sourdough bread starter.
After the before mentioned "craving" I decided that I should learn to bake it myself. Following some online direction I mixed up the flour and water and the next morning I had TONS of bubbles. I fed it that night and the next morning a dough volcano erupted all over the top of my refrigerator - I guess things ferment really really well in the west? I'm on day four now...keep your fingers crossed for me - I'm really wanting a cozy fall full of bread and soup. 


Have:
Three strapping sons.
The ability to look very domestic and 1950's when I want to.


What I want:
For this amazing kid to have all of his dreams come true - he works very hard.
Brady is doing amazing. Despite having Asperger's Syndrome and severe ADHD, Brady is concentrating and ENJOYING school so far this year. He is becoming kinder and more tolerant of others, he is very social with his family and all around, one AMAZING kid. I'm so glad I am able to keep him home with me everyday and watch him grow.


What I Love:

My kid's sense of humor. Brady drew some hieroglyphics in History class this morning and as you can see, in one of them he is taking a shower after his dad shaved his head. "Don't worry mom" he said, "you'll notice it's censored."


What I Want :
To be crafty again, to learn to sew. I played around at sewing a few years ago but besides pillow cases and simple children's capes...that's about as far as I got! I would love to really really be able to sew.


What I Love:

The way that children accept love so freely. I gave my little apron project to Trin, kind of chuckling at my lack of skill and she said "Oh thank you mom, this is perfect for Charlotte because polka a dots are her favorite and she LOVES the color green." 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Summer


“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” 
― Thích Nhất Hạnh


The last days of summer, the first days of school. The days are gradually getting shorter, every now and then I sense a small far away fall breeze, my thoughts are on stews and breads and roasted potatoes - yet I'm still enjoying the bounty and the goodness of summer. 

- fresh mint from my little bitty garden


- some of it already going to seed, some of it starting to flower
- light behind leaves, the best kind of green


- the last of the purple flowers
- soft velvet
- if I were a bee, that's where I would sleep


- loving our new Story of the World history lessons
- comfortable school
- No shoes, no shirt, no problem


- sticky and sweet watermelon
- sticky and sweet little bug
- soon he'll be head to toe in clothing
- enjoying "carefree" living


“Summer’s lease hath all too short a date.”

William Shakespeare


Thursday, June 25, 2015

Thrifted Joy

I tried my dainty hands at making bug spray for the first time - easy peasy and I can't believe all these years I have struggled with "I don't know what to put on my kids but I don't want them being chewed on." It really is a problem. Mosquitoes will always be there, and unfortunately most ways to keep them off involve a lovely concoction of chemicals that can seep right into the skin...then absorbed into the bloodstream ( just being real here...it's something to think about.) Who knew that witch hazel and a few essential oils are such a deterrent to the insect world? I used lemon grass, cedar oil and citronella in mine....


Shake it all together and you've got something pretty special with a twist of satisfaction. It's kind of pretty isn't it?


Luckily it doesn't scare off the bugs we want to keep...
Ladybugs are my favorite even though I've been known to swoon over a grasshopper or two - and I can chase down an earthworm with the best of them. Don't get me started on roly polys ...


While I was doing something as complicated as mixing a few ingredients together - the handsome husband was taking on the minor chore of redoing our dining room. He had finished the table with the before mentioned clearance stain - the color turned out a little darker then we expected but we like it. I think over time it may lighten just a bit.
Here is a before picture with our mix matched chairs...


I wanted to find some metal farmhouse chairs to go with the table or some bright white wood ones - unfortunately the metal chairs that are so popular right now are ,like, 100 bucks a chair. I personally didn't feel right about spending that much - especially since we would need four of them. You could feed a small village in Africa for that much - bear with me, it's just the way my brain works.
 We went to Ikea and loved some of their sturdy white ones but the 50 dollar per chair still didn't really make our hearts sing. Then the thrifty man of mine goes thrift store hunting and comes back with these THREE dollar ,amazingly NON rickety chairs that could probably hold five people without feeling over burdened - they are strong people. A few cans of spray paint and our hearts were not only singing ,our feet were dancing, the money part of our brain cha-chinging - our index fingers cramping (have you ever spray painted that many things at one time?) 
The "reveal" is coming in a moment - but first, I have to show some of our other thrifty finds and craftiness. 


The man also found me this beautiful set of bowls for $2.48 - they still had the original stickers on them. I'm thinking they were an unappreciated gift to someone that doesn't know the VALUE and BEAUTY of the common wood bowl. It's okay Cherry (yes, I name most of my belongings...) - the Corley Family will love you for a very long time. I'm seeing lots of movie and popcorn nights with Cherry in the center of things. 


There's something special about eating out of wood - makes me feel a bit primal...and I love the way colors "pop." This little carved heart bowl has been my all time favorite summer purchase. 


Brady has been making himself his own jerseys...with matching facial hair. Hobby Lobby has plain t shirts for kids in the 2-3 dollar range - there's something about decorating a shirt that kids love. Brady prefers to make very specific designs with fabric markers while the other littles generally go the  90's puff paint  route. As they say in the south "whatever blows your dress up" - just be creative! That's what summers are for right? 


Here's my little 1 hour project from this morning - I'm trying to cheaply add a little bit of love to me and the man's room. I haven't been able to get a hold of the photographer from our wedding to order prints for our wall (I could only afford an album at the time of our wedding.) So, I'm...gasp...taking apart our album and framing some of those prints. I feel like it brings me a lot more joy to see us on the wall then hidden in a 15 pound BOXED album under our bed. 


Thank you for sticking with me...
Here is the reveal. 
Zac used some scrap wood in the shed and an idea of off Pinterest to build a bench for one side of the table. The kids LOVE sitting on the bench, and I enjoy being officially rustic chic.


I just love it - the man amazes me with what what he can do - self taught.


The dining room looks so bright and cheery now - I will credit my husband with the whole thing (except choosing the chair color...that was all yours truly.) So, all in all, here's the breakdown :
Found table and original chair set at the Goodwill Outlet for 40 dollars
We kept the table and sold the 6 chairs for 60 dollars
So that's...in the green 20 bucks.
Bought four chairs for 3 dollars each and a can of dark stain for 5 bucks.
Still in the green 3 dollars.
Bought 15 dollars worth of spray paint.


So, if we also add the original cost of the scrap wood and how much we used - we got our entire dining room set for 20 dollars. Moral of the story - used is awesome and a little elbow grease mixed with a pinch of patience pays off.  Thrift stores and craigslist have become dear to our hearts and lifelong friends. 
It's such a blessing that there are small things in this world that can bring us so much joy - from heart bowls and eyeliner beards, essential oils and crisp white. It's all a blessing isn't it? 
What's bring you joy today? 

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.” 
― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Count Your Blessings

I'm grateful this morning for my littles and their willingness to learn ...even during the summer.
I'm thankful for books and laptops and colorful paper and pencils. 
I'm thankful for the opportunity to school at home.
I'm thankful for creativity.


I'm thankful that no matter where I am, no matter how far away from trees and mountains I find myself ...there is always the big beautiful blue sky to look up at. I'm thankful for it's changing colors, the movement of the clouds, the glow of the sun setting. I'm thankful that God is so creative and so good that He would make something that is so peaceful be so alive. 


I'm thankful for exercise, for morning yoga. I'm thankful for smoothies and gorgeous jars to drink them out of. I'm thankful for the diversity of strawberries and mango and bananas and how when they are all blended together...they can make something truly amazing. It inspires me to look at this world and people and love their differences...because you see, in the end...we are all the same. That's a lot of thought from just a smoothie...but heck, I'm thankful the way my mind works!


I'm thankful for pops of color, for garden gnomes hiding under lemon balm. I'm thankful for the little insects that are working their beautiful magic under the soil and on top of the delicate flower petals. I'm in awe at how all things can work together for good.


I'm thankful for happy faces, for silly smiles - for soft cheeks and toothy grins. I'm thankful that right now, at 30 years old, I get to live out the highlight of  my life...making a positive impact in children's lives. I'm thankful that no matter how many times I've been told "I wouldn't be fulfilled by just baking cookies all day" I know that being a good mom is so much more then that. It's not just the cookies, or the dirty dishes, or dealing with meltdowns and wiping away tears - it's the opportunity to serve, to grow, and to give of myself on a daily basis, so that, in the long run ... I can be my best. I can truly move towards being selfless right here where it matters most - in my home. I'm sure there will be travel later, opportunities to reach out to more souls...but I'm happy that I know, that this is my big moment, this is the final act...this is the moment to shine. I'm thankful for motherhood.


I'm thankful for friendship. I'm glad that my kids have each other.

“Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind. "Pooh?" he whispered.
"Yes, Piglet?"
"Nothing," said Piglet, taking Pooh's hand. "I just wanted to be sure of you.” 
― A.A. MilneWinnie-the-Pooh


There really is so much to be grateful for isn't there? Roses, grass...those dandelions that so many think are "pesky" that I know are colorful and purposeful. 


 I"m happy for kids that can make a bed out of a box, that love to pretend that they have children ~ it's a good thing. I'm thankful for kids that have imaginations. I'm thankful for soft piano music in the mornings, David Nevue my all time favorite pianist and the way his songs instantly calm my soul. 
What good things are in your life this morning? 
Have a happy Tuesday friends.


Monday, June 15, 2015

Beauty in Mundane

mun·dane
ˌmənˈdān/
adjective
  1. 1.
    lacking interest or excitement; dull.
    "seeking a way out of his mundane, humdrum existence"


 I know as mom's we often use the word mundane ... "I'm tired of all of the mundane tasks" or at least "I'm so bored doing the same thing over and over and over again everyday." I've been there. I've been there a lot. In our house there is always at least a load or two of laundry to be done, even if I just finished four. There is always a meal to make, or a meal to clean up, or a meal to plan. There is always at least one floor in our house that needs swept, a toilet scrubbed...and don't get me started on my glass shower doors! They are , truly, the bane of my existence. So much so that I don't bother with them ... I figure the shower must be a pretty clean place since a lot of soap and water and  happens in there right? I'm one of these people that actually enjoys cleaning - it's the cleaning with the need to exercise with the need to read to a kid with the need to clean up a puddle of pee that gets me. It's exhausting. It's "a truck ran over me" most nights. 
Mundane ... boring, tedious, TIRESOME, run -of- the mill. 


I feel like "mundane" associated with "motherhood" is such an oxymoron though. I mean, having little kids is anything but boring. I don't think I've ever had a "run of the mill" conversation with one of my kids, watching them grow is pretty darn exciting, although their training can be tedious if I focus too much on "my way" instead of "working with their uniqueness. But still, let's be honest, it can be hard doing the same thing day after day, especially if you are isolated and tucked away in your four walls of home. 
My reality is, the husband works away and I work at home. We wanted this life for a huge host of reasons, that I won't get into here...but the main one being - we thought it best for our children. Eleven and a half years in, four kids, a move across the country, two firefighter recruit schools ... I still want this life but often I can get pretty caught up in "but who am I really? I've never been able to shine, I don't matter to the world, I have no talents to offer...I have no degree... I'm pretty stinkin invisible." Scrubbing away at baked on scrambled egg pans was not my picture of "making a difference." It just wasn't. Neither was 10 years of diapers...or currently, changing my boys from boy to spider man to superman to minion 100 times a day. 


My husband started Paramedic School this morning. Up until a week ago I was pretty anxious about the change of daily schedule that was going to be happening. Basically I was going to be thrown into 6 months of mundane, to bear by myself...and I was going to need to be a big girl when the man came home because he needs to study and rest his brain. In my heart I kept pumping myself up with "I got this, I'm good at schedules" but then in reality I remember my track record of becoming overwhelmed and freaking out after a couple of months. Another words, I was very scared of being able to do it, but in the end not doing it really well. Having regrets. Can I say being selfish without to much backlash? 
And then I read something :

If God doesn't rule your mundane, then He doesn't rule you. Because that's where you live.
- Tripp

Dagger to the heart. A good pain...the convicting kind of "if this truth can reach my heart I could be different, I could grow" kind of pain. 

What if all of these mama tasks that I do hour upon hour could be my joy or "my pleasure" as they say at Chik Fil A. What if I could change the way I look at those dishes? What if I am actually part of the bigger picture - what if in 6 months I graduate from paramedic school because I was a needed support at home and I did it well. What if the laundry and praying for my little people can change the world? What if I am part of it all, not forgotten? What if I can praise God for my babies as I fold the laundry, think of all the wonderful things my husband is too me when I cook a meal, what if I could change my approach?  What if, I gave Him those struggles because He is Help. 


Giving our day to Him, our works to Him, reaching out to others even if the "others" are the souls in our own homes, is what its all about. These kids, these coworkers, this spouse, they are part of eternity. I can take care of them because He takes care of me. I can touch lives through my cookies, I can be an encouragement listening to my daughter squeak away on her recorder...I can touch MANY lives by giving my husband a comfortable home to come home to while he works to better himself so he can serve others...
Those in the background matter just as much as those on the stage.
We are not invisible, and although the tasks can seem boring at times our song doesn't have to be. He sees us and to Him we are gifted and beautiful and probably right where we need to be for now. Don't let them tell you otherwise...don't let you tell you otherwise...
There is glory in the mundane.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Cousins

"Cousins...childhood playmates who grow up to be Forever Friends."


The Cousins came and we picniced...



We walked...


...and we talked.


We looked.


She "Annie Oakleyed" herself


We hugged quite a bit...


...and had lemonade for two..errr, make that four.


We attempted a photo ... this is the only good one out of 20.


He flew...


- and uncles were welcome too.