Monday, October 31, 2011

Trimming Home : Living Room Redo

We've lived in our new home for just over a year and it's time to paint!  The living room is currently two color and not as light as I require to get through an Indiana winter without feeling like I'm living in a cave.   With that time of year fast approaching, I'm in the mood to trim out our home.

I love home trimming projects because I love to make things functional and beautiful.  I also really enjoy the process of planning a good project.  This room's trimmings will include patching and painting, installing window moldings, changing out light fixtures, and changing furniture layout.

I've measured the room and used a paint calculator to estimate the amount of paint & primer needed.  I've chosen  Valspar's Oatlands Yellow, sampled it, and I'm ready to patch some holes.

I recently saw a technique for patching wall holes that gave me new hope!  I can't stand lumps of spackle under my paint!  No matter how much I sand, it's not until the last coat dries that I seem to see how bad a job I did.  Grrr!  So here's the tip:  use a hammer to dimple the hole, and its edges in.  Then when you plaster, it will be completely flat.  No rough edges. No mounds of spackle.  Smoothing the surface is much easier and painting is so satisfying!

I can't wait for a fresh, bright room!  Pictures still to come.

Do you enjoy home painting?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

One Parent Home: When the Math of a Countdown Won't Work

I'm am a total sucker for holiday traditions.  Love them!  Some of my favorite have always been countdowns.  You know...countdown to Christmas, countdown to Resurrection Day, countdown to whatever you feel like counting down to.  I'm seeing lots of countdowns lately.

Problem comes when many of those very important, countable days, that usually involve a specific something (to count the day as part of the countdown), are missing the kids.  When it first happened, my brain couldn't figure out what to do!  It seemed like this giant, insurmountable, horrible (and believe me, it is horrible!) loss.  How could we possibly celebrate Advent with holes in it?!

Here's the thing.  I still don't have the perfect answer, but I have managed to figure out a few things:  that it's not the end of the world; some is always better than none; and most importantly, that God is bigger than all of it.  That about covers it!  Oh.  And amazingly, new traditions are just as fun as old ones!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

When Mom's Too Sick to Teach

There's always a moment of dread when it's apparent someone in the house is getting sick.  After the well-being of everyone, the loss of productive time is usually what is foremost in my mind.  But even when it's me, mommy, teacher, who is down and out, sick days don't need to be a total loss.  Here's what I've learned (Now, we're talking short-term sick here.):

Care Giving
When it comes to teaching handicrafts, and including character building in a home, no better opportunity arises than loving and caring for a sicky.  Patience, compassion, servant-hood, and more, all become necessary during an illness. Whether it's fetching warm socks, or being sure all the remedies are at hand, this is not an opportunity to be wasted.  Don't forget prayer!  It provides the perfect chance for a family to lift each other up.  Often small children don't know what to make of mom being sick, but sometimes by needing them, you are giving them a gift!

Lesson Adaptation
Forget that schedule!  I know you're a read aloud family and your throat and voice, and energy level,  are currently toast.  But now is when you break out the audios you haven't had time for.  Check into radio broadcasts from sites like Lamplighter Publishing, Classics For Kids, Answers in Genesis, etc.

Remember that craft kit you bought eons ago?  The one sitting there collecting dust?  Having the kids sit quietly while working on a project is just what the Doctor ordered.  If you've chosen wisely, the end result will be something beautiful and useful (Thank you, Charlotte Mason).  If you're anything like me the "quiet" part of that is of great benefit.

I'd be remiss if I didn't add that if mom is sick, now is the perfect time for the kids to try furthering their list of "on their own" learning. Sometimes this can become a great boon for your homeschool!  We don't always want to let go of our control over certain aspects of schooling.  Be thankful!  You've just been given a gift!

Changing Perspective
When you're sick, it's okay for your kids to watch "How It's Made" for Science.  It's okay for them to play "Equate" for Math, and it's okay if they do nothing more than entertain one another.  This too (Lord willing!) shall pass, and when it's time to get back to your normal daily routine, you may actually find that someone has grown and actually learned something!  Then you can realize that keeping pace from day to day, ain't all that!

What about you?  Do you have a sick-day plan?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Perfect Hot Beverage

I'm on a hunt for the perfect hot beverage for winter.  As things stand today, I am not a coffee drinker, and I'm not the hugest fan of hot tea, since I gave up adding refined sugar to my recipes, I'd like to be caffeine free, but I'm horribly, and expensively addicted to International Coffee's Vanilla Nut Cafe.  I'm between two to three cups a day, sometimes relying on the sugar/caffeine combo, and definitely relying on the warmth and comfort of a hot mug!  Those two to three cups a day equal two to three packages a week, and that expense is right up there with soda and fast food.

Being ready for a change, and a savings, I'm on the look out for a replacement.  What I'm looking for is a healthier, cheaper alternative.  And before I go further, I did try to find a recipe to make it myself.  No cheaper or healthier.  So, I'm looking for a no caffeine, and low or healthier sweetener drink.  What I've tried is various teas with various natural sweeteners that, quite frankly, don't go so well together, and herbal teas which I just can't seem to get used to.  I admit.  It won't be easy.  I like creamy goodness.  I may be kidding myself, but I'm going to keep an open mind!  

For today, I'm drinking my "sick" tea, which is really very good anytime.  It's lemon based, with raw honey, and ginger.  I used to make big pitchers of it using real lemons, freshly squeezed and ginger root cut by yours truly, but I make it by the cup now.  This is because I can no longer stand throwing away fresh produce that I haven't used just because I'm a terrible judge of how much I'll use before it rots.

Here's what I use now:

Yummy raw honey, organic crushed ginger, and 100% lemon juice.  I use about 2T of lemon, about 2 pea-size squirt of ginger, and 1T or so of honey.  I add it to already heated water.  YUM!  And, it makes you feel better when your a sicky.  So for today, this drink moves to the top of my list for the perfect hot beverage. 

Do you have a recipe to share? 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Giving Thanks for Thanksgiving

We're about a month away from Thanksgiving, and I'm sick as a dog (day 2) and while soaking my head in the shower this morning (Yes! It's that kind of sick!), I had a wild hair to have Thanksgiving at my house this year.

It won't be the first time, but it's the first time in a long time.  It's also the first time since the divorce.  I had to think as to whether I'd ever even made a turkey before!  Ummm, I think so.  But it must not have been very memorable.  Or it could have been that I've blocked out the horrible memory of destroying a perfectly good chunk of bird.  Not sure which.

Anyhow, I'm in THAT time of life where everything seems to be changing.  All of my family that has cooked hundreds of holiday and reunion meals, are a wee bit older and not so anxious to do all that work again.  Those things are being passed on to the next generation, as they should be, but it's just so sad that THIS part of the next generation can't cook!

But, where there's a will, there's a way.  I'm pretty sure the last time I cooked a Thanksgiving meal, I didn't have the advantage of the internet and all the fabulous recipes that my bloggety friends have to offer.

Deep breath.  I can do this!  My kids are excited.  I warned them before I committed, that this would be a lot of work and I'd need they're help.  They were overjoyed.  Overjoyed at the prospect of lots of work!!!  Now we're talking!  Okay.  So, I'm thinking lots of thankfulness to our big God, good food (there's always hope!), awesome family, of course, some crafty goodness, decorations out the ears...  Oh yeah!  Now we're talking.  I'll keep you posted on all the details.  But for now, I'm printing out this free Thanksgiving planner from The Project Girl.

Are you excited?!  I am!  Any tips on cooking turkeys?  Be sure to share!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

To Be Well-Watered

I love, love, love this post from Raising Homemakers.  I hope you all will too!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Good Winter People

There are good winter people, and then there's me!  The recent cold start has brought all kinds of wintery things out from storage.  While heading south isn't really an option for me and mine, God has graciously provided the staying home option.  With that comes all kinds of warm, winter goodness to bend me, and those like me, into good winter people!

Furnaces, Fireplaces, Space Heaters, Candles & Electric blankets.  Oh my!
Ahhhh!  Hallelujah for hot, blowy air and instant warmth.  Let's hear it for artificial heat sources!  I'd be remiss to not include the oven in this list.  Now's the time to get the favorite baking recipes out. 

Liquid Warmth
Hot chocolate, hot tea, hot any-drink.  Hold it in your hands and warm you from the inside out!  Feel it's comfort.  Know there's more just a kettle away.  Is there anything more relaxing that a hot drink?! 


Cuddle Duds, wool sweaters, turtle-necks, fuzzy, warm socks, coats, slippers, mittens; all things warm and layery!  And I have to include in this, yarn crafting.  There is no better time to whip up a crocheted afghan than when it's cold outside.  Having the yummy softness piled around you while your fingers warm to the rhythm of thousands of stitches.

Snuggle, cuddle, burrow, hug, nestle, snug, enfold, wrap, encircle, embrace.  You get the picture!
So what keeps you warm till spring?   Let's add to the list!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Yummy, Easy Granola Goodness

I just made the most yummy, super easy granola!  It was doubly yummy goodness because both kids gave it such high praise.  They usually aren't a fan of the stuff.

From the basic idea of choose your poison (just kidding!), you start with 4 cups whole oats.  Dump 'em in at least a 12" skillet.

Then the fun part!  Start adding.  Start with 1/3c of oil.  I used coconut (that sound you hear is the hallelujah yippees for all things coconutty).  Then add 1/3c sweetener (honey, agave, brown sugar, are some).  I used honey.

Turn skillet on low-med and start stirring.  Add whatever flavors/seasonings your family enjoys.  I threw in a little orange peel, cinnamon, coconut (of course!).  You could also add vanilla, which I would have done if I weren't out.  Add some nutty goodness--almonds, walnuts, etc.  Maybe a bit of dried fruit.  Flax would be good...:)

When thoroughly warmed, mixed and browned a bit, containerize and gobble down.  That's the best part.  The gobbling goodness!

WARNING!!  Highly addictive!

While this only makes a 4c batch, going stove top beats heating up the oven for an hour.  I think it only took me about 15 min total.  And eating it warm is so, so...well, you know!

So what would you throw in your batch of Yummy, Easy Granola Goodness?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Respect for the Flag

One of my earliest memories of my public school days was saying the Pledge of Allegiance in elementary school.  And yes.  The one that says "one nation under God."  Between that weekly happening, Brownies and then Girl Scouts, I learned flag respect.  I couldn't wait to teach these things to my children!

That's why when my son recently asked if he could take our flag off the house and play some flag-flying, boy running, Nerf-gun wielding game with it, I said, "Uh....NO!" And then when the flag pole broke in a wind storm, he got a lesson in flag etiquette for throwing it in the floor of the garage!  I guess we'll be a little refresher course, and soon!

So what do you teach your family in the way of flag etiquette?  Tell me!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The World of Two Learning Styles

Is she listening?  She looks like she's listening.  She says she's listening.  Maybe she's not hearing?  Maybe she's not understanding.  How could a child of mine not like to be read to?  How will I teach her? 

These are the questions that have had me in total panic for weeks since I realized that all the narration tips in the world were not going to change what was going on with my daughter.  It didn't take too long before I realized this wasn't a issue of being read to, or an attention issue.  This was a learning style revelation!  My child, surrounded by thousands of books which we constantly read aloud, is a (gasp!!) visual learner.  Exhale.  

I guess it was too much to hope that both my children would have the same learning style.  My son can listen to me read while writing, drawing, playing legos and whistling, and tell me what I read word for word.  He hears conversations from three rooms away, while having one of his own, with an audio book playing.  I'm so excited I figured it out!

My light bulb moment?  When she picked up a little science reader, proceeded to devour it (figuratively speaking) and then came bounding into the room with a huge smile on her face to tell me everything she just learned!  If that did cinch it, her narration of an entire episode of "Beakman's World" did. 

So I've got some adjusting to do! 

What about you?  Any learning style stories to share?