Thursday, January 22, 2009

crafty crow

Notice the new link on my sidebar to The Crafty Crow. What a fantastic resource! I can spend hours just perusing the craft pictures and ideas... it's so great to have someone cull so many blogs/websites for great ideas and put it all in one place! So glad to have discovered it....

Planning Part II

Well, we've all been sick around here with some kind of "Mississippi crud" that Steve brought back with him, but laying on the couch is getting old and I figured I may as well try and piece together a bit more of our curriculum plans.

Dawn over at Sun and Candlelight has a fantastic planning tool with her monthly themes. I went ahead and copied them for my own uses, only changing up some ideas and making things more relevant to our lives and geography here (e.g. whale migration time, special family birthdays/feastdays, local festivals and field trip destination ideas etc.). I also put my book basket ideas on a separate sheet (hence the previous post) since the list is long and only grows all the time. I'm so very excited to get these all printed out and put in nice notebooks that I've taken extra care to decorate nicely (I find that if I put more effort into something, it'll likely get used/appreciated more... of course). Especially useful will be the concept of being able to put in one place all the different crafting ideas and such... I hated throwing away copies of Family Fun magazine for example... but now I can just clip crafts or ideas I want to remember and place them in my monthly notebook. Here is a great post she wrote on how she plans and then organizes hers.

This has been hugely inspirational to me on how to just be more organized with the rhythms of life in general...

Next up, specific curriculum planning on the academic side of things.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Planning Part I

I've been working like a dog (a happy, interested dog) these past few days researching and compiling ideas for how to stay organized and prepared for next school year.

One thing I've completed is my booklist. While there are loads of great children's books out there, the ones on this list are pretty much seasonally specific. Furthermore, there are plenty of seasonal books that are a whole lot of "twaddle"... so consider this list for the discerning parent who enjoys books about the good, noble, beautiful and true things in life. Good art, good message kind of thing. It's not like every book on this list is a treasure... but every book IS BETTER than some of the twaddle-rific books they pass off as literature these days.

I made this list so I can further implement the concept of seasons, liturgical year and rythym in our day to day lives. Generally we like to check out books from the library on pertinent subjects, e.g., Christmas books at Christmas time etc. But apparently we're not the only ones so if you show up at your library a week before Christmas looking for books on it, you'll be out of luck. This list will help me to get a head start on reserving books for seasons and holidays to put in our book basket. I just put a hold on some February and Valentine's Day books for example. Obviously, you won't be able to get every book on your list, but I like to put as many options on there as possible. To give credit where credit is due, I got most of these titles from Dawn's blog (where I've also been gathering monthly theme pages to be posted here later), the 4 Real Learning Forums, MacBeth's Opinion, Michael O'Brien's booklist in this book, my own bookshelf/knowledge, and reviews/recommendations. It is subject to additions in the future, but my eyes are so worn out from working on this, it may be a while!

So without further ado, please use this list yourselves as a great springboard into the wonderful world of picture books! (Note that it starts in August to match up with academic calendars somewhat...)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009


Outside my window... is gray, gray, gray. Chimneys puffing on rooftops up and down the road.

I am thinking... about next year's curriculum plans. I've been running through so many books/blogs/forums/magazines for research gathering ideas and pinpointing goals for our family. I feel really good about the plan; I just need to sit down now and spend a few hours on Spreadsheet or somesuch getting them all together. I am so very thankful for the freedom I have as a mother and educator to design our own learning plans.

I am thankful... for my dear children. I love the phrase my friend Erin's sister used: "authentically boyish." How I delight in watching them play and learn and work and grow.

From the kitchen... a fresh carrot cake sits on the counter. I unfortunately tried to wing it on the frosting, using regular sugar since I was out of powdered sugar. I don't recommend this; the taste is fine but the texture is all off.

I am wearing... a long sleeve shirt, a sweater, and a blanket. I can never rid me of the chills it seems.

I am creating... starting to make a couple baby carriers for some mamas.

I am reading... never just one book. I always have something informative, something spiritual and something mind-candy going all at once depending on my mood. The informatives are: The Omnivore's Dilemma, and rereading Real Learning: Education in the Heart of the Home, which I highly, highly recommend. The spiritual is S.C Biela's The Two Pillars. The mind candy is the final installment of the Kristin Lavransdatter trilogy: The Cross.

I am hoping... that spring will get here faster than I think it will.

I am hearing... three little boys making sound effects for their cars as they play merrily on the carpet.

Around the house... Christmas decorations are taken down but not entirely packed away yet. A bit of mid-winter organizing needs to take place.

One of my favorite things... is a brand new pair of socks. That's the first thing that came to mind.

A few plans for this week... dinner with a friend tonight, Steve comes home from Mississippi late Wednesday, paying bills on Thursday, Adoration with the Master of the Universe on Friday, curriculum writing, stew simmering, tea kettle whistling, foggy walks in the cold, starting a new chapter book with the boys.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Well, not that people are knocking my door down for business but for what it's worth, I updated my photography website. I thought about getting a professional web designer but I had to remember that my goal isn't to make this a career... it's just a pastime and I have to keep it humble to glorify God. So I used what VERY little design skills I have to make it what it is. I especially wanted to make it clear on the "About" page that I'm just a one-person, part-time lover of photos... not a major professional or anything.

And frankly, I hate listing prices... because I have often done photos for free for families who wouldn't otherwise afford it. And I LOVE doing this and plan on continuing to do this when the opportunity comes up.

But, I have to also remember that I'm performing a service for others and I shouldn't devalue the entire photography business just because I like doing it; it does take time and my family has to to sacrifice to make it happen also. So I threw some numbers up there because from a consumer perspective, I HATE it when businesses say "Call for prices" or the like. I like to know what to expect up front. So there's that.

Monday, January 5, 2009

our rockin' kiddy table

For Christmas the boys received a nice, quality solid wood table (and we bought two additional chairs so we'd have four total). We've had 2 other kiddy tables before that have since fallen to pieces so we did a bunch of research and really wanted to invest in a nice one this time. So, of course, we're going out of our way to take good care of this table. The first thing we wanted to do was put a protective coating on it so that it would be ultra-protected against spills and such. We found a great bar-top epoxy at Home Depot that is equivalent to 60 coats of polyurethane!! Then Steve told me that we could put pictures or trinkets underneath the coating for it to shine through if we wanted to personalize the table. The table had a great 1/4 inch lip all around the edge of the top that really is perfect for this project. After much deliberation I went through the boys' Stare! game and chose our favorite cards (all retro kiddy prints of some sort) to make a fun border and middle design. Then I decoupaged a single card on the back of each chair to tie it all in. The result is pretty fantastic don't ya think?! The boys love it.