Tradition

Well the Turkey has been eaten. The turkey soup is simmering on the stove. And my thoughts turn of course to Christmas. I love Christmas. I love the tradition. I love the way the whole world gets quiet for a moment. I love all of the traditions that we had built into my growing up years and the ones I am building and continuing with my babies. And I unabashedly love advent.

Not a watered down advent that celebrates a piece of chocolate before breakfast or the advent that adds even more activity to a season bursting at the seams. But, instead choose to celebrate advent in a way that turns my heart and mind to the Christ child.

I feel a need to put in a bit of a caveat here. Chocolate before breakfast is awesome. Awesome. I love it. I am just really sad that advent has been reduced to advent calendars, fun activities and daily crafts when it can be so much more.

In the historical church calendar advent is a time of penance and preparation. Today in our culture the entire Christmas season is a season of excess. It seems like our entire culture screams more, more, more. In the midst of all of this excess I would like to create a space for reflection and self introspection. To allow advent to become an anchor in the midst of the craziness that surrounds us. A moment of connection to that day so long ago to a chaotic time when a tiny baby was born without pomp and circumstance and changed the world forever. A connection to that moment when God put on flesh and lived with us.

My mom had this same sentiment when we were children. Every year she pulled out the handmade advent wreath. And starting four Sundays before Christmas we would have a nightly advent reading and we would light the advent candles according to the appropriate week. The first week was prophecy and we would light a purple candle, the second week we added a second purple candle and it was Bethlehem week, The third week we added a rose colored candle and it is the shepherd week. The final week was a purple candle and it was the Angel week. Then on Christmas day all of the candles were changed to red candles and we added a final candle in the center a white candle to celebrate the arrival of Jesus. I have this very specific memory of her reading from Isaiah, “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.'” I looked forward to watching the single candle flicker and hearing those words every year.

I want to continue this tradition but of course tweak it just a bit. I have young children. My oldest is five my youngest is two and I want each of them to enter into the story in a meaningful way. So it is my goal to try to find things from their lives in order to connect them to the Christmas story. To be completely honest I am not a hundred percent sure how I am going to accomplish this task every day. It feels monumental and it is one of those moments when I am painfully aware that if the Holy Spirit doesn’t show up and speak to my children it will be trite and rote and the complete opposite of what I long to have them experience.

I would love for you to join us as we navigate our way through the advent season and I would love to hear what it means for you and how your family is celebrating. I know there are tons of resources out there. Let us come and prepare our hearts and turn our minds to our King.

The Burden of the Theoretical

I feel overwhelmed. I wake up feeling like there is so much on my plate that there is no way it will ever be clear and I go to bed wishing I would have accomplished more. Spinning plans of grand accomplishments clinging desperately to the hope that tomorrow will be better only to pry my eyes open at some ugly pre dawn hour and wonder how in the world I am going to make it through the day much less conquer it.

There was an ugly tail spin happening this week. Feeling guilty about not writing, how messy the house was, how much wasn’t getting done etc, etc, etc. But I literally had to snap myself out of it with nothing short of a self pep talk. I’m telling you it was like something from a bad made for tv movie (side note I secretly love those every once in awhile especially around Christmas….pass the cheese pour some cheese on top of it and then serve me a side of cheese with that) ok I’m back. It literally went something like this.

Mali. There is only one way to get out of this funk. You gotta get stuff done. So stop tail spinning, stop wallowing, stop pinteresting, stop planning and start doing. Get some stuff finished already. No excuses just a little bit at a time. And for once I followed my own advice and wouldn’t you know things are feeling much less overwhelming. I don’t have much less to do but I do feel less overwhelmed. Almost as if even having a couple of small things off my checklist makes everything else on it seem possible.

I decided I would start really simply with an old fly lady trick. My goal is simple, clean the sink before I go to bed. It is amazing how something so easy is so rewarding. Not only is it rewarding at bed time but it is also incredibly inspiring to be able to wake up to a completely clean sink. Ok so that is seriously the smallest tidbit, I know it is simple but it is one way I feel like stuff is getting accomplished. I have also started three Halloween costumes, finished a smitten mitten for my epic smitten mitten garland and written this blog post. Small things but stuff is getting done. I’ve moved out of the theoretical and into the realm of actuality.

So for the planners, the obsessers, the crafty mamas who feel the crush of the Holidays upon them. I feel your pain. I am right there with you and I hope you can simply get some stuff done!

Getting Started

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I have purposely dragged my feet over the past few weeks. Why you ask? I have been putting some serious thought into how I want my homeschool day to look.

True confession. I hate routine. I have literally spent most of my life bucking routine. But my children (well at least two of them) thrive on routine and it makes such a difference in their world to have one.

My husband and I decided to push our official kindergarten start date back to the middle of September so that I would slowly start establishing a routine for the kids in the meantime. It started with adding some structure. I started to intentionally set a rhythm for our day.

Next we added in Super S’s first workbook a phonics workbook. Then Super S and I started to learn finger knitting. I am going to do a post on that because it is really fun. Now I am adding daily craft projects and trying to make them accessible to all three kiddos. We are also adding circle time and it has been such a hit.

Right now circle time looks like this for us. First we use starfall.com’s calendar to review the month, year and day of the week. We sing the days of the week song. We point out special days in the month. Then I read a book to them. And ask them general comprehension questions. Finally we do a quick review of the phonics sounds we have been working on. I would like to add a weather component here in the near future. But that is what circle time looks like now.

I think circle time should be a time when everyone can participate and a time when we review key concepts and set the tone for the day and as we evolve I hope we can make it a really useful productive time that sets the tone for our day. I am always interested to hear how other people use circle time in their home school day. I feel like we have a long way to go.

The First Day Of School

After agonizing, researching, discussing, agonizing some more, annoying everyone with crazy questions, and a lot of prayer, the first day of school is right around the corner.

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We have decided to homeschool and I am simultaneously terrified and super excited.I know it is a place where God is going to have to show up because there is no way I can keep this together on my own. And while that is true of every second of my life this task that stretches out before me makes me very aware. My goal is to share my experience. Plain and simple. The good the bad and the ugly. To provide my own testament of the goodness of God in bringing me to this place and sustaining me day by day.

We decided that we are going to use My Father’s World and Math U See for the kindergarten year (that was for any fellow homeschoolers reading, I always like to know what other folks are doing). I am hoping that it will help me stay on track and give me the ability to supplement my curricula with creative and exciting extras when I have the opportunity.

I would like to provide the little ones with some creative play opportunities as well. So I am going to try to do some sensory play opportunities, small world bins, and busy bags to supplement their free play and give them further opportunities for learning.

I am really excited to see how God is going to show up this year. I cannot wait to see how it all unfolds!

Sensory Dough

This week was dragging for us. We have just started a new routine in preparation for starting homeschooling this fall. This is week two and while it seems to be a step in the right direction the week was really dragging. I decided my crew needed a pick me up.
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So we got through our morning chores and made it to our school work time and I planned to do a really cool thing I saw on pinterest http://pinterest.com/pin/166281411214918576/. For those who don’t want to click out it is a really cute craft where they use brown play dough for the trunk of a tree and green playdough for the leaves and then food color dyed pasta for the leaves. It is a great introduction to autumn because you can talk about how the trees are green now and then they change colors and use the pasta to show the leaves changing. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the supplies needed to do the craft so I did what I do a lot. I improvised. We didn’t have any food coloring so I decided to try to use things in my cupboard to color the playdough. And in the process I used things that reminded me of fall. Spices and colors to introduce the season that is so quickly approaching. In fact outside my door today I felt the snap of fall. The high temperature outside of my door was 75 today so it felt like fall.

Natural Color Playdough Recipe- brown
1 cup coffee
1 tablespoon oil whatever you have on hand
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon cream of tartar (this ingredient can be omitted but it will make the dough last longer)
Saucepan
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon you can add more or less to get desired shade

Combine coffee, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and food coloring in a saucepan and heat until warm.
Remove from heat and add flour and cinnamon.
Stir, then knead until smooth.
to store refrigerate this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag.

Natural Color Playdough Recipe- yellow
Materials

1 cup water
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon cream of tartar
1 Tablespoon turmeric
Saucepan
1 cup flour

Combine water, oil, salt, cream of tartar, and turmeric in a saucepan and heat until warm.
Remove from heat and add flour.
Stir, then knead until smooth.
to store refrigerate this dough in an airtight container or a Ziploc freezer bag.

All three of my kids really enjoyed it from almost two to almost five.
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The Lazy Days Of Summer

Summer is here! Long hot days, relaxed schedules, the summer reading program at the library and the feeling just under the surface that every day has the potential for a new adventure.

Truthfully I haven’t been spending much time in front of the computer lately. Or behind a sewing machine either. Summer seems to call to our family to get outside and just soak it all up.

However, in the effort of giving a more realistic view of a summer outing, I thought I would share some pictures from a recent fishing trip.

It started out innocently enough. We found a good spot. We got some lines in the water.
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And then….

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And…..

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It ended with all the kids on the blanket with me eating snacks. Oh well at least our mini picnic was fun.

So yes it isn’t always glamorous or what we had planned but we have a good time!

From The Mobile Device

We are going to give a blog post from the mobile device a go! I sat down for a bit today and played with some jean scraps.

I saw something like this on Pinterest in passing and so I gave it a go today.
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Then I thought it would be fun switch it up a bit and give it some more body. And I tried this version. There is a layer of fusible fleece in between the batik and the jeans.
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I think that it needs some more work but it is fun! And it up-cycles some old jeans! Win win!
In fact I already threw some bits and bobs into them and I stuck them in my sewing drawer.

That is what I crafted today!