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creativity, Family, Homeschooling

Learning On A Quilt

Well the Smith family is about to go on another school-year adventure. I’m so excited to dig in to the new stuff we got this year and also to invite you all to share your classrooms with us! I have gotten so many emails through the past few years asking about my homeschooling and I haven’t done a great job of sharing on here, so I’ll just tell you a little about where we are now.

I started Kindergarten with Abby and Ellie and used Sonlight. I liked it a lot but was still on the hunt. As a first time teacher I was so nervous I was going to leave something out that would completely ruin my child’s future. I needed to order the whole kit and kaboodle. And an extra couple kaboodles just in case. Everything had to be in neat folders, perfectly arranged, classroom poised and ready for the learning to happen.

I’ve swayed away from that a little bit, although I am still a complete sucker for back to school supplies. And don’t get me started on Curriculum Fairs. I am a dangerous woman at one of those. And despite the fact that they are better for the environment, I must say I miss the white Crayola markers. Have you seen the new ones? Anyway. I love the gear.

Last year we did Calvert, which I also liked. At this point I was starting to find my style of teaching and their style of learning and I don’t think that was the best curriculum for us. I think it would have helped if I could have let it go when we didn’t finish everything we were supposed to for each day.

What you’ll find is that there isn’t one magical curriculum you can order and have it all be perfect for every child. So, you have to do the hard thing (gulp) and start to piecemeal. I don’t really do piecemeal well. I would like it in a box, with my instructions inside, perfectly arranged so that nothing can be left up to me because I will certainly fail them…

With that said, I have grown stronger in my teaching and am trusting my instincts a little more. We are going to be altering this next year to fit the season we’ll be in. I chose *after much obsessing* “My Father’s World” as our main curriculum because it will allow me to easily include Kate in Abby and Ellie’s work, and also because they send a person to your house to care for your baby while you teach. No? That one would get my vote.

If you aren’t familiar with Charlotte Mason, you should be. She was an incredible woman with some amazing ideas about children and the way they learn. I just adore her, and honestly, it’s probably why the name Charlotte was one of my favorites. To me, it brings me to a time in life where children did their lessons outside while they explored. I love this idea, and we are going to be incorporating it more this year than we have in the past. One of her strongest beliefs is that children should not be read “twaddle.” In other words, read original, unabridged, masterpieces of literature and you will be brought up to that level. During the past few years I have seen that happen with my kids, and I love the natural way they ask about words they don’t understand and concepts they aren’t familiar with as we read.

A lot of people asked about curriculum and scheduling so I wanted to touch on them. In addition to My Father’s World, we are using Math-U-See for math and Apologia science (we are doing astronomy this year). I like this program because it does a great job of blending science and Christian beliefs. And, they threw in a denim jumper. That’s a lie. I bought it. I just wanted to see if you were still reading.

For spelling, MFW recommends a Rod and Staff program called “Spelling By Sound and Structure,” and also “Primary Language Lessons“by Emma Serl.  I love Rod and Staff…we have used their preschool stuff in the past as well and really liked it.

I tend to gravitate towards learning which is simple, classic, and inspiring. It may go back to my love of Little House, but I just think that we tend to complicate things sometimes. Literature saturated days, clean basics, and room for some outside time is the plan for this year.

The way we will structure our days is to start in the morning and finish up with formal lessons before lunch. We’ll take a short break to milk the cows and grind some wheat, and then we’ll pick up with nature study and art. Charlotte Mason also put a heavy emphasis on the role of nature study and I haven’t done a great job of this in the past. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the mosquitos and the heat, but let’s just say it hasn’t always gone according to plan. I have tried to plan these elaborate things and it just ends up being stressful, so we’re throwing down the big quilt and going with it. I guess that’s the theme this year πŸ™‚

A friend of mine (and newbie homeschooler this year!) Kelly (Faithful Provisions) is meeting with a wonderful homeschool mom and author we heard speak a few weeks ago and we are going to try and have her set up a workshop for our readers. Once I get the scoop I’ll pass it along and if you’re interested we would love to have you come!

This is a really basic sketch of a couple things we are planning, but this is my favorite part. I’m going to put a Linky on here and I would love for you to put your site on here if you homeschool and want to share the way you do things. It’s so great to be inspired by other people’s creativity πŸ™‚ Feel free to leave comments too…I’m not really familiar with the Linky but I think you can do either one.

Talk to you all soon…


P.S. Please leave any homeschool advice, tips, pictures, or anything else you want to share. I am seriously so excited to read them all! Does this make me a dufus? Don’t answer that.

creativity, Sewing

A Needle and Thread

It’s no secret that I have an affinity for all things simple and lost in decades of technology (Note the irony of me posting this to the internet from my computer as my children watch a movie). I am obsessed with Anne of Green Gables, Little House, and the eras of life that involved a fireplace and Pa playing a fiddle. Todd needs to learn to play the fiddle. Also, I could use a dose of Ma’s patience. I wonder if there are a series of “lost episodes” where she goes ballistic over the fact that she needs a night out or tells him she is really sick of doing all the laundry. I think it would give her a little more street cred. Bonus points for whipping her hairpins out and flinging them on the ground while Pa whittles something.

In the past several years (and by “several years” I mean since birth) I have been on a quest for simplicity. Despite the fact that I have failed miserably, I still consider it a good goal.

I bet that is one of the reasons I love sewing so much, at least in theory. I have a computerized machine that connects to my computer, so Ma wouldn’t exactly be impressed but the sentiment isn’t lost on me. I have set up coloring books, a kiddy sewing machine (that DOES. NOT. WORK. Seriously), scraps of fabric and other creative things so that the girls can sit with me while I sew.  I am so blessed to have a sewing “closet” off my bedroom but as most of you know from my last post, I am not likely going to have it for long. I’m already thinking of ways to be creative in a small space (and any ideas about setting up a sewing area in a bedroom are appreciated!)

I started sewing just after Todd and I were married and I taught myself the basics. I loved it but mostly focused on straight lines for quite awhile and then picked it up a little more once the twins were born. The last thing I remember making was going to be for Audrey, and after her diagnosis, I shut the door and ignored it. Even months after we lost her I would walk by the door and stare straight ahead, too emotionally fragile to see the pieces of a dress that wouldn’t be worn.

I finally did go back in several months ago and I sat in there and let myself mourn again. I keep all of her little keepsakes in there-her little footprints on clay, snippets of her hair, the graph of her heartbeat that the nurses gave me, and the half sewn promise of reunion one day.  Unless you have been in a similar situation, it might not make sense, but there are certain areas that have just become “safe” for grieving. I can go in, close the door, and forget that the world is moving on outside my house. I light a candle, listen to a good audio book or music, and piece together my thoughts and memories.  I have a little desk set up there where I can have a quiet time and be still with the Lord. I remember Ann Voskamp talking about having an area like this and she is right…it makes a difference to have an established spot with everything ready for study, prayer, and reflection.

I have told Todd that Ann also mentioned this should preferably be a large, shabby-chic, bead-boarded room with a fireplace, a rustic brick wall, wide-plank weathered floorboards and several bay windows. I can’t find the exact post on her blog but I also remember something about it needing to have a spa area with an on-call masseuse. I’ll find it and post it here for you all too. Anyone who reads Ann’s blog knows she has a flair for over the top glamour. It’s just who she is, you know? (Ha).

So, I wanted to share my special spot with you all and ask if you have any questions about sewing that I can answer. I feel like I am enough of a novice to relate to basically anything you are wondering about, so don’t be intimidated πŸ™‚ I have also gotten several of my friends hooked. My most recent convert is Audra, who came over and worked on a sewing machine next to mine while we laughed our heads off while creating skirts for all of our girls (6 and counting at this point…).  In typical Audra fashion, she surpassed me in ability and creativity in approximately 25 minutes-one of the many, many reasons I love her. Seriously, there is nothing the girl can’t learn in under a half hour. Now that I’m thinking about it, it’s actually really irritating.

Let’s consider this post #1 just to get some conversation started (for all 7 of you who like to sew/are interested in sewing) and I will do a follow-up when I know what sounds interesting to you all. Feel free to leave links to your blogs/sites if you want to share any sewing tips, products, tutorials…whatever!

I do realize that most of you are going to be bored stiff with this post. My apologies πŸ™‚ To those of you who aren’t, let’s all get together at my house once I get the ginormous prayer/sewing room and we can form a quilting guild.

The spa people will care for the children, just like in the old days…

Much love,

Bloom (in)courage, creativity, pregnancy

Any Ideas?

Hey everyone! I hope you all are getting into the swing of things this Christmas season. I haven’t even started my shopping yet but hopefully I will be able to next week. I’ve had the flu for more than 2 weeks and just yesterday I felt like I was turning a corner. Whew. First trimester sickness combined with the flu is a pretty nasty combination!!!

(And now, hold onto the reigns because we are about to take a little trip to a place called “the most sporadic post ever.” Giddy-up.).

We (and by “we” I mean “Todd”) finally got the Christmas decorations up and Scout has made his inaugural visit for the year. He has already turned up in a couple strange places πŸ™‚ For those of you who asked, here is the link to Amazon in case you want to order The Elf on the Shelf: A Christmas Tradition Elf on the Shelf Gift Set
In other news, I have been sewing up a storm. I made the girls these sweet little Christmas dresses (I’ll try to post pictures soon) and now I’m working on some Christmas jammies for them. 
The house has been eerily quiet for the last few weeks because the Hamilton’s moved back to Michigan. We miss them already and pray for them constantly…it was such a blessing to live life with them and we can’t wait to see what the Lord has planned for them.
Speaking of our house, we haven’t had any showings. We did have a contract on a second house but after the inspection we decided to back out of it so now we don’t know where we will go if we sell. I keep waiting for an “Anne of Green Gables” house to come on the market for a steal but so far it hasn’t happened πŸ™‚ If you could, would you pray for discernment and peace about the whole situation? For some reason Todd and I feel a little unsettled where we are but we don’t know where the Lord is leading us. With the market the way it is, it seems like a great time to get a great house for a great price but we haven’t found one yet.
As far as the pregnancy, we had a really fun doctor’s appointment the other day. Abby and Ellie came with us and I wasn’t quite far enough along to hear the baby’s heartbeat on the doppler so my doctor got the mobile ultrasound machine and we got to see the little Scooter. The kid does not. stop. moving.  Seriously!!! The legs and arms just kept flying out and the little body just wiggled like a worm. We all laughed so hard and of course everyone decided it was a boy. The kid is a maniac.
Hmm, what else?
The book club was great and Jess and I are revving up to introduce our next book. We are working on some really special stuff (you won’t believe this, y’all. Jess and I are speechless at the way the Lord has opened doors for us and we think you will be just as excited).  I don’t want to give too much away but I will post when we get a couple more things nailed down. As always, our heart for the book club is that anyone who can’t afford to purchase the book will receive one for free. Since “Crazy Love” was our first one, we had to try and figure out how to navigate it and we feel like we have a good plan for this one to go smoothly.  The publisher has already been a joy to work with and has shown us generosity we were not expecting. In addition, every time you purchase items from Amazon from my site (if you follow the links in my posts), I make a little percentage and that money goes to provide books for people who can’t afford them. We have quite a little stockpile set aside for books and shipping and we are so looking forward to digging in with you all.  You can sign up for Bloom here and get updates that way as well.
All in all, Todd and I are pretty low-key these days and it’s been nice to sit still. It’s not something I do very often and sometimes God just has to take me out of the race for a while to catch my breath.  Todd has has a few dates this month and we are planning to do a Spring tour (Selah singing, me speaking, and an opening singer…not sure who yet but the options are all stellar artists). It will be great to all be together doing something we believe in, and if you are interested in booking the tour, click here to contact David Breen. 
And now for the random question of the day…
I know we’re all on a budget this Christmas, but still want to give meaningful gifts to people. I try not to be a boring gift-giver but I feel like my brain is fried and I would love your help (and I bet others would too!!!). So, I’m wondering if you have any suggestions for gifts that won’t break the bank.  Homemade? Great online deal? Ministry opportunities? Anything you can think of. This is my favorite part of having this blog because all of you have such great thoughts and I get so many emails from people who were inspired by other’s comments. So thank you in advance for your contributions!!!!
And, to sweeten the deal a little, let’s make this one a giveaway…go ahead and leave a comment and I will choose 2 people to win a little something fun this holiday season…
Guess where I’m going tonight? To my favorite bookstore (Davis-Kidd) to hear the Pioneer Woman speak about her new cookbook. Hmm, wouldn’t you love to have a copy?!?!?!?!
Much love, 
(in)courage, creativity, Dayspring


The sweet people at Dayspring sent me a little care package for Christmas and I loved it so much that I wanted to share the joy πŸ™‚ Their Christmas line of home decor is adorable. Here are a couple of my favorite things…
Love these Nativity Candle Holders…so pretty at night.
This sign can go on a table or in the front yard (the stick that makes it a yard sign is sold separately). 

The apron makes me want to make cookies. Emphasis on “want.” But it does make me look like Betty Crocker. The one below it is the children’s version-they are $10 right now.

This platter is really fun and bright in real life…we have it up in the kitchen.

So you don’t think I would show you all of this if I didn’t plan on including you, did you??
If you want to enter to win a $50 giftcard to Dayspring (I’m giving away 3!!!), CLICK HERE!!!
Merry Christmas!!! (sorry about the annoying underline here…I can’t figure out how to make it stop!!!! πŸ™‚