Random musings from a Wife, Mom, Homeschooler, Student, and Friend

I’ve loved the look of West Elm’s chevron style curtains for a while. A few months ago, I found stacks of them at the Pottery Barn Outlet, and I grabbed six of them for next to nothing. I (meaning The Hubs) hung them in our living area (family room/breakfast room combo), and I liked them. Mostly. Two of the panels were slightly wonky, and looking at them made me queasy. So, I (meaning The Hubs) took them down, and they sat folded in my closet. (I did the folding all by myself.) Finally, I decided to try using one of the panels to recover the seats of my vintage shield-back chairs.

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The seats were covered in a fairly hideous silky print:

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Ta da! I love them!

20140104-162021.jpgAnd yes, the table you see is the same pine table I posted about in November–doesn’t it look better in “Young Kansas Wheat” by CeCe Caldwell’s Paints? More about that soon!

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Poor Hubs. Yesterday we started to refinish a vintage drop leaf table. Mid-way through sanding, we found out that it was veneer, not solid wood. Lesson learned, but now we have another furniture corpse to throw on the “paint or trash” pile. I don’t feel too bad for him because he said, and I quote, “I didn’t think it would work anyway.” Them’s fightin’ words. Or rather, them’s shoppin’ words. Hubs and The Boy had no sooner stashed the evidence in the basement before we were off in search of a new kitchen table. Our favorite consignment shop was about to close for the night when we saw it…a pine harvest table with eight chairs. Eight. Yep, I have a thing for chairs like most girls have for handbags or shoes or men. Ahem. Before these eight chairs joined our family, I had twenty dining chairs. Actually, twenty-three including the two on the back porch and the one on the front porch. Thirty-one chairs is excessive even for me. Anyhoo, eight new-to-me chairs and a country pine harvest table for them to encircle. Well, more like enrectangle, but whatever.

The search for the perfect table has been on-going for about three years. We picked up a beautiful antique gate-leg table which we have been using for homeschooling, but it wasn’t quite the family table I needed. For one thing, we found out the hard way that you shouldn’t put a hot pizza box on an antique table. It leaves big white marks. (Refinishing that will be another project for another day.) Also, the way the legs attached made it difficult to seat more than six people, even though the table was technically long enough. What I wanted was a long, narrow harvest table with legs at the corner and room to cram in bunches of people for casual dinners that we never host. (Hoping that is about to change, thanks to advice from The Reluctant Entertainer.) I think this one is the table!

We are getting closer to making this place feel more like a home than a temporary stop in our journey to a forever home. Part of that transformation had to start with the lighting in this place. Shiny, tacky brass. Ick. I love vintage, distressed brass, but the only thing distressed about this lighting was me. I hope the owners thank me for this one. I think they will.

Here is the hideous light in our breakfast room before The Hubs kindly changed it out for me:

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After:

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Trust me, the before picture doesn’t even come close to showing the ugliness of that first fixture. The glass was…ribbed. <shudder> But as I stared lovingly at the new table under the new light, I knew something was wrong. That light didn’t show the table to its greatest advantage. That light had to go. (Into the dining room anyway.) My ever-patient and beloved Hubs moved the light for me and installed this one:

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Be still my heart! I have been wanting a lantern style fixture forever! And to get that and my beloved harvest table all in the same weekend? Swoon.

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Looks better with the light off, doesn’t it? We still need to figure out what type of bulbs to use so that we aren’t blinded. We started out with frosted 60w, went to these which are 40w…still way too bright. Anyone out there have a good way to keep from getting blinded by this type of fixture? Are there special anti-glare bulbs?

It seems it is feast or famine right now in the lighting department at our house, because now the dining room/schoolroom light is way too dim.  The wall color and the complete lack of natural light in this room isn’t helping either. Back to the Home Depot we go!

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Today it is all about the notebooking pages. I’ve mentioned in past posts that I did not like the pre-printed notebooking pages from the folks at Trail Guide because more than one subject could be on the same page. This makes it harder for homeschoolers who have to maintain a portfolio to sub-divide subjects. For instance, science might be printed on the back of a spelling notebooking page, etc. (Or it could just be me being neurotic. LOL) I was able to get away with homemade notebooking pages last year with Paths of Exploration, with the exception of printing out maps and some specialty science pages, but this year I’ve had a daily relationship with my printer.

Today I figured out something that y’all probably knew all along–I can print any page in any order! That means I can group all the “Mechanics and Editing” pages together and print on both sides of the paper! Eureka! No, I am not streaking naked from my tub as I say that…but I am just as excited! (Don’t worry–that link is totally PG and somewhat educational. Poor, poor maligned Archimedes!)  Anywho, this is going to make the girls very happy–they won’t have to copy out all of the grammar rules in addition to completing the writing mechanics activities.

With The Boy doing his own thing, I can’t say that we’ve really found our rhythm yet. But, as I stumble along and find new ways to adapt this amazing curriculum, I’m hopeful that we will find our groove.

Has anyone else out there found some useful tips we can all use?

 

The Potty Phone

Today, I cried on the potty.

But first, I have to admit something. Sometimes when the children are swarming thick and I need a moment to breathe, but I also feel an insane need to multitask, I lock the bathroom door and sit on the potty as I play with my smartphone. C’mon Moms, we’ve all done it. Repeat after me: “Hi, my name is __________, and I have a potty phone. (Of course, this is why I will never ask to use your smart phone…I know where mine’s been.)

So why did my potty/phone time make me cry today?

I read this: http://www.karipatterson.com/2013/08/09/because-sometimes-bedtime-takes-forever-and-should/. Go ahead. Read it. On or off the potty, your choice.

And it’s all so complex. Love. Parenting. Nurturing. Bedtime’s 7:30 but it was well past 9pm when I slid out from under those Hello Kitty covers and tiptoed back into our room. And silently I thanked God for enough margin in life to be there for her. Meltdowns aren’t marked on the schedule; tears are never timed well. But by the grace of God I resolve to be with my children as much as possible, to notice the flash of sadness in the eyes and wipe the tears and stay an hour longer than planned. She will be 14 and then 40. I will be here and then gone.

O Father, with all that is in us we ask: Help us love our children well.

These beautiful children are here right now, cups held out ready to fill. Distractions will always be a part of life, but with the time I have with them, I want to be 100% committed to my children. 100% there.

What am I doing on this beautiful Labor Day? Lesson planning. Fun, huh?

So much has happened since my last post. The biggest change is that we moved closer to The Hubs’ job, lessening his commute by almost 20 minutes. We moved from a single family home to a townhouse which is more than a 1/3 smaller. We lost a bedroom, quartz countertops, a 2 car garage, upstairs laundry, a pantry, and an in-fridge water dispenser, but I couldn’t be happier with the new place! Almost every night, the kids go out back to the common area to play with the neighbors. In the less-than-2 weeks that we have been here, they have clocked in 10x more playtime with neighbors than they had in the entire year at the other house. The whole mood here is so much nicer and more laid back.

Just before we moved, I completed the one class that terrified me when I started my doctoral program: Advanced Educational Statistics. Thanks to the Lord’s help (and The Hubs too), I made an A. Two more classes and I will have earned my Education Specialist degree, which marks the 1/2 point to my doctorate. I might just take this degree and rest for a few years though!

I’m looking forward to this year in our new community. The Hubs and I plan on finding our forever home in the next one to two years. I’m pretty sure this is going to mean a remodeling an older home in the quaint downtown district. I’m silly with excitement about this! For the kids, this means finally putting down roots. I would love to spend the next 50+ years of my life in the same house, on the same street just like my grandparents–if the Lord wills. “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps,” Proverbs 16:9.

In the meantime, we will be busy with soccer, music lessons, American Heritage Girls (did I mention that I was drafted to lead the 1st and 2nd graders???), and of course homeschooling. Can’t wait to see what this year brings!

 

Yes, my friends, it is that time again. Time for lesson planning, books, pencils, erasers, reams of paper lined and unlined, glue, glitter, staples, binders, rainbow colored dividers, index cards, crayons, markers, colored pencils! Oh My!

I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before that I have thing (obsession) for office/school supplies, right? Ahem.

This year, The Boy decided that he wanted to do his own thing. Now that he is entering the 7thish grade, I am happy that he wants his independence in learning. This year we need to focus on strengthening his writing skills, so many of our choices have a strong writing component. Here’s what he will be using:

Notgrass–Uncle Sam and You for history/civics. It also includes some great literature selections and writing assignments.

Apologia–Jump In as writing supplement. I want him writing something every day, and this program will help fill in gaps.

Easy Grammar PlusI love Easy Grammar! This program keeps grammar short , sweet, and effective!

Apologia–Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics for science. I am thrilled about this new Jeannie Fulbright book and journal! The Boy is also very excited about the experiments inside–make your own lava lamp? Yes, please!

Math-U-See Pre-Algebra I’ve already used this book with my nephew with success. Although I am not great at math, I understand pre-algebra thanks to this book.

For literature, I am combining some of the books from the Notgrass Uncle Sam and You literature package with books that the girls will be using from Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Settlement. I’m also using some of the books listed in Trail Guide’s POS Middle School Supplement. The subject matter in the Notgrass and POS literature selections overlap quite a bit–combining and editing each list was a great way to save some money.

For Bible, we will be working through Apologia’s What We Believe series with all of the kids together. We started the first volume last year, but we went on to other things. This is such a great series that I want to finish them all. This year, I’m planning to restart the first volume and finish with the second book in the series. I love the pace and rhythm that Trail Guide offers to core subjects, so I’m hoping that a similar pace and rhythm will work for other subjects.  I took the first book in the Apologia series and broke each lesson down into 4 days of reading and assignments and a 5th day to finish any work. Here’s an example of the assignments:

Lesson One: Where Am I Building My Life?

  • Day 1 Hide it in my heart: (Verses to be memorized and recited on Day 5)

Deuteronomy 32:4–He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.

  • Day 2 Words to know: parable, foundation, The Rock of Truth, wisdom (The kids will write down the definitions from the book.)
  • Day 3 Seven Ways to Build on the Rock (Everyone will take turns looking up the scripture references, and all will write these points and add notes.)

1. Study and learn the Bible (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

2. Know truth, think truth, and follow truth (Romans 12:2, Colossians 2:8)

3. Care for your body and use it in the right way (Romans 6:13)

4. Worship God faithfully and joyfully (Psalm 100:2)

5. Pray to God always (I Thessalonians 5:17)

6. Stand against Satan and resist him (James 4:7)

7. Put God first, not things or money (Matthew 6:19-21)

  • Day 4 Praises and Prayers (The kids will keep a journal of praises and prayers and update them regularly.)

The girls are in 5thish and 3rdish grades this year, and as I’ve already mentioned and gooshed over, they will be doing Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of Settlement for their core subjects. It’s been ordered and should be here in just two more days!!!!

For math, we will continue using Math-U-See. Beanie will be in Epsilon and Lemony will finish Gamma and move on to Delta.

We are trying to move towards year-round schooling, and we’ve clocked in 14 days in July. Not a bad start! (And the kids haven’t even complained!)

I found two beautifully chippy antique shutters at my favorite antique mall. The once bright red color had faded into a gorgeous pinky-red shade from the sun and the years–a patina that just can’t be faked. The problem was that I couldn’t move or even dust them without showers of paint and dirt falling off of them. So, today I hit them with some poly to seal all that loveliness in.

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Time will tell if this poly idea was a colossal goof on my part. I’m hoping the color won’t change too much! To be continued!

Update: They look fantastic!!!

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