Monday, August 29, 2011

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

Best Homeschool Tip

When I first read the theme for this week at Homeschool Blogger, I thought it said "best homeschool TRIP" and I was going to tell you I'M ON IT AS YOU READ THIS!!!! 

I'm in El Salvador with my daughter and a bunch of other great people!!!!! AND we're meeting Jeanci, our Compassion sponsored child, today!!!!!

{Are you praying for me????:)}

Anyway, you can be sure I'll write about that later, when I get back. (No technology with me! ;)

In the meantime, my best homeschool TIP is this:

Don't sweat it!

I won't tell you that I always follow my own advice, but I know it's good advice;) 

So . . .

Plan, but don't stress if things don't go as planned. Don't worry if you get blown waaaay off course and your plans end up having been for naught. I mean no disrespect when I say, the plan was made for man, not man for the plan -- KWIM? If we let the plans we create dictate our "success" as homeschoolers, we're bound to bomb! ( Proverbs 19:21 has something to say about the plans we make.)

See what others are doing, but don't set them as standards for your family. It's good to get ideas and learn from others about what works for them. The problem arises when we start thinking, "I should be doing that . . ." Comparison just breeds discontentment. (1 Timothy 6:6 reminds us that contentment is a far better place to dwell.)

Explore new curricula, but don't worry if you don't have the latest and greatest products on the market. Some of the most respected minds of history were home educated with just a few resources that were accessible to them. (Here are a few -- but you can skip #1 in our context;) The fact of the matter is, with a library card and a computer, we have access to far more educational resources than a large percentage of the rest of the world's learners. Relax and enjoy what God has brought your way. (Philippians 4:19 holds a promise that includes your curricular needs!:)

Look at standards and educational benchmarks and "measurements of success,"  but don't panic if your child does not conform to "the norm." You know -- with every fiber of your being -- that every child is different, so there is no accurate assessment of "normal." Academic success is important, but it is not what defines a person's value -- to a homeschooling family, to society, or to God. In the grand scheme of life, character is far more important than any kind of academic achievement. (1 Samuel 16:7  applies here.)

You get the picture, right? There is nothing wrong with organizing and planning and assessing and doing all manner of schoolish things. We are created to create and do and be industrious. But bottom line, only what matters for eternity really matters. 

Do you have any other homeschooling tips you'd like to share? Leave a comment below :)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Eleventh Hour Gift - Can You Guess What It Is?

One more sleep -- less than eight hours until we leave for the airport -- and I just finished Jeanci's handmade gift. (We're taking school supplies and clothes and things for the household, too.) Of course, it's another altered journal and tote. What can I say? I think I'm in a rut ;)

Anyway, I wanted to make her something pretty, something befitting a princess, since she IS a daughter of the King. My thought is that the tote will hold any precious things she might acquire throughout her days (perhaps our letters?), and the journal will be a place for her to record her prayers or dreams or hopes for the future. I know it's not very "practical" -- but sometimes a girl wants a little impracticality, right?

I hope she likes it . . .

I used foil tape with sparkly stickers to personalize it a bit. It doesn't conform to my usual collage creativity, but this was the inspiration that came as I worked, so that's what I did. I added some jewels for a bit of bling :)

Unlike other journals I've done, this time I borrowed my daughter's idea and covered the spine by making slits in the fabric for the binding. Because I'm too lazy to measure exactly, it meant the fabric didn't lie flat on the covers -- but I like the texture created by the ripples:)

I used a glue stick to adhere the fabric to the journal, so I added more foil tape just for security -- and a little more shine:

I made the tote with matching fabric:

It just has a simple white lining:

Now then -- are you remembering to pray for us???? :)

The Secret of the Old Swing Bridge - Book Review

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation has been received. 

Angus Wolfe is a 12-year-old boy who has the luxury of a long summer sprawling on the horizon in front of him. He is a self-directed learner as well as a homeschooler who has learned the value of books, research, and hands-on experiences. So when he narrowly escapes being hurt by a falling tree that shakes loose a leather packet with mysterious Russian writing from the 1940s, he knows how to become fully engaged in an exciting search for the truth. Along the way, he meets a young girl who becomes a close friend and sleuthing assistant. Together, they solve the mystery -- but not without experiencing a roller coaster ride of emotions that result in some serious growing up. 

Set in the Washago area of Ontario, Canada, the novel revolves around discovering the truth behind some hazy facts about a few local people and events during the Second World War. Red herrings and cliff-hanger chapter endings propel the reader through a captivating story line. There are questionable characters, including a hookah-smoking recluse who shares his pipe with his pot-bellied pig and some less-than-clean-mouthed mechanics -- but it is clear that the author attempts to present realistic characters without directly exposing the reader to any profane words or actions. While innocence is never jeopardized, romance is introduced -- to the detriment of the story.

I read the book aloud to my 12-year-old son. On a number of occasions, he specifically asked if we could read it -- so I know he enjoyed it! However, he and I concurred about the romance element. When I was reading a passage in which Angus sheepishly comments that he had enjoyed thinking of his new friend, Amanda, as his girlfriend and she repeatedly assures him that she is "still" his girlfriend, my son interjected: "Oh, for the love of Pete! That's just weird! Someone else took over the ending of the story! It's just so wrong!" Then, when I paused after reading that Amanda ran back up on the porch to Angus after leaving to go home,  DS12 said, "No! Tell me she doesn't! Why do they have to go and ruin a good story with stupid romance?!" I had to agree with him -- the forced romantic relationship between two kids that could just be friends -- and far more appropriately so for their age -- spoiled the story for me to some extent. 

However, overall, we both enjoyed the story. We could relate to the main characters, and were drawn into the well-wrought mystery. Not every aspect was completely believable or worthy of our approval, but there was enough pleasure derived from our reading experience to hold us through to the end, and any mildly questionable content was a starting point for a good chat.

What books have you read aloud lately?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The way I feel

These days, I can relate very well to Emily Freeman's post "the art of change" over at chatting at the sky. I especially like her plan:

Believe God.
Love people.
Lift up your eyes from the place where you stand.
Leap into the story, eyes wide open.
Listen to the rhythm of a different kind of normal.
And take good notes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

Banishing the Spirit of Fear

This weeks theme at Homeschool Blogger is a "Craft Show and Tell." Since my entire blog has a crafty quality to it, it's hard for me to highlight anything extra special ;) If you're interested in gathering ideas, I encourage you to click on any of the labels that tickle your fancy at Created 2B Creative :) 

In the meantime, I'm going to continue on the themes of prayer and peace that have kind of pervaded recent reflective posts. You see, they're topics that are near and dear to my heart these days as parenting continues to have a sanctifying effect on me AND as my daughter and I prepare for our missions trip to El Salvador -- on THURSDAY of this week!

I will confess to you that a lot of things strike fear in my heart. The futures of my children rank right up there -- and this trip does, too! But my husband keeps reminding me of this verse:

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).

That means the fear I have is unfounded -- rooted in the enemy of Peace, not God. Instead -- I need to claim the power and love and sound mind that is available to me through Him!

One of the ways I can do that is through prayer. 

Photo courtesy of 
I think that's why my Place of Peace and my prayer journal have become so important to me this summer. They have helped me to submit to the weeding of my heart . I will admit -- the fear is not all gone -- but the power and love and sound mind are becoming more pervasive than the fear. 

I know that some of that has to do with the fervent prayers of others: my husband, my mother, my dear former landlady on the other side of the country, family members, friends -- and I so cherish those thoughtful, regular prayers. 

Photo courtesy of

People young and old have been upholding me -- and my family -- in prayer for months -- no, years, really. And I can feel the Power and Love surging -- and am having greater glimpses of that Sound Mind ;) 

Photo courtesy of
As a result,  I am resting more and more in Peace.

Do you have a story of how prayer has brought Peace, and dispelled the spirit of fear, bringing with it Power and Love and a Sound Mind? I'd love to hear it! 

Who can you be praying for this week? (Picture my hand waving -- "Pick me! Pick me!" :)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

{this moment}

{this moment}

"{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.
If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments for all to find and see."
 -- Amanda Soule at Soule Mama

It's not Friday, but better late than never . . .

Chicken Scratches - Journal and Tote

A journal and/or tote seems to be my gift of choice these days. My friend Shannon celebrated a significant birthday this summer, and I wanted to make her something to commemorate the occasion. She has a bit of a quirk: she loves chickens. So who better to make something for with this fabric????

I lined it with a funky rainbow fabric. In essence, the bag is reversible, though inside out you can see the seam where I sealed the lining after "birthing the bag."

Of course, I also had to make her a matching journal, which I entitled, "Shannon's Chicken Scratches." Silly me -- I forgot to take a close-up of just the journal. But here it is with the tote:

See that little flower on the journal in the stitched square? Guess what it's made from! Can't figure it out? It's the bottom of a plastic egg carton compartment! We use egg cartons as paint holders, and when I noticed a dried one upside down, I couldn't bring myself to throw it out -- it was too pretty :) (Insert DH's guffaw ;) So I turned it into a flower :)

Have you made any gifts lately?
Have you taken trash and made it into a little treasure?

I shared this at:

Monday, August 15, 2011

Monday Musings on the Creator in Me

A Place of Peace

A while ago, I wrote about the place in our home where we can go to meet Peace during the emotional storms of life. For the little people in our home especially, it has been a place to sit and settle the big feelings that sometimes overwhelm us all.

In the summer, our front porch becomes my Place of Peace. It's where I go to read my bible, write in my prayer journal, and chill with individual family members. On a sunny morning, it's the perfect place for prayer and quiet reflection.

In the evenings, with the addition of a small lamp and lit candles, it is the perfect place for a bedtime read-aloud or a a quiet chat over tea.

My husband and I (and the furry beast) spend the last half hour of virtually every day here, relishing the presence of Peace before we retire for the night.

I know we don't need a special spot to find Peace because He dwells within us -- but sometimes having a particular place to go enhances our ability to feel the Truth of Peace's presence.

Do you have a special spot? Where is it? How do you make it the perfect place to meet Peace? Please share in the comments and give links if you have pictures of your Place of Peace.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Art to Go

This past year, I found it fruitful to take a bag of art supplies with me to different places -- like the church where my children participated in Awana (and I had an hour and a half to spend alone), and other places where I knew I would be spending time waiting. Over time, I kept adding to the bag, so it ended up looking like this:

Somewhere online I remembered reading about using an old suitcase as a portable art studio. I recently acquired one in good condition (just needed the lining to be glued a bit) -- so I transformed it into my "Art to Go" case:

 All the stuff I used to cart around in that open bag now fits nicely inside the case -- all neat and organized!

I wanted a spot for my scissors to be easily accessible, so I just stapled a scrap of fabric to the inside pocket of the case:

Ta da! Handy pocket:

Another pocket keeps my ruler, glue stick, and craft knife handy:

All the stuff (and more, of course!) that I need to be creative while away from home:

After I closed the case, I thought it would be fun to podge on some old art work that will likely find no other use (I'm sad that it bubbled -- but oh well!):

And I stamped on the purpose of the case:

Do you have a portable creative toolbox? What is it? What's in it?

If you don't have one -- why don't you? It's a wonderful way to rest, relax, and restore :)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Personal Mini Sandbox

While window shopping this summer, I came upon a cute idea for a children's play/discovery area. It was a series of sand tables, each with a different theme. And it struck me -- I could make one (or my own version of one)!

While I was cleaning out the art room, I came upon some calcium sand that had been intended for DS12's hermit crabs and an empty container with a lid (even better than an open table). Perfect! I scrounged around the basement a bit more and settled on this stash:

And to inspire DS4, I set it up like this before I showed him:

The goofy guy loved it and played with it for a good hour one day, then asked to play with it again the next.

The possibilities for other themes are endless . . . pirates, zoo animals, deserted island (kinda what I have goin' on here), princess castle, diggers (we have a bigger bin with diggers and dried corn, which is also lots of fun!).

What theme ideas do you have that would be simple to create in a little box like this?

Are there other things that you've seen while shopping and you've thought, "I could make that!" ? Did you?

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