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Archive for the ‘Elegant Simplicity’ Category

I have been loathing my large grocery bill purchases for quite some time. Having dh bring home less in the paycheck might have everything to do with that… ;o)

Hair care is one of those expenses that was really eating at me. The other thing was that I really want to live a life of abundance with my family and that includes abundant health. I was worried about the cheaper shampoos and didn’t want to purchase them and just couldn’t swing the large purchase for the more expensive natural brands.

I tried this:
No Shampoo Alternative
(and I kid you not it works…)
baking soda and apple cider vinegar…whowudda thought??!

It took a little while for my hair to get used to it and I found the results to be wonderful!

My hair is long and naturally curly. There was no way I could go more than one day without washing it if I wanted it too look its best in the past. Now it still looks great on day 3 (not that I usually let it go that long) It holds its curl despite many hours of tossing and turning in bed and it doesn’t have many ‘temper tantrums’ aka bad hair days….I can’t seem to recall one since I normalized with this method. It doesn’t even get too badly tangled in the back…and feels good through the fingers…aaaah!

It took me awhile to get used to showering this way. I have to hang my head upside down and hold up sections to get the baking soda at the roots (because of the length) and then I rinse with the vinegar and continue with the rest of the shower as usual.

Now to try this on the rest of my guinea pigs I mean…family! There is one little 5yo dd with curly hair that I am planning to use this on next. Her long hair gets so tightly curled that it gets unmanageable after a good day in the yard…so the experiment continues!! …and the list of practical uses of baking soda and vinegar gets even longer!

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Some of my favorite workbooks can be so expensive to purchase 8 times (or more!) so I have found that an inexpensive option is making them re-usable by laminating them.

I am placing each dismantled sheet in a letter-sized laminating pouch and feeding it to my inexpensive duck laminator (that I purchased from Walmart) and storing them in my file cabinet in a large labeled folder for each dismantled workbook. I found it easy to keep like pages together by running a sharpie around the outside edge of the laminated card to tint it a bit. That way red cards go back with the red cards. When I get really good, I will color coordinate the folder to match the cards. I am just not THAT good…yet 😉

I place a few of these double-sided laminated cards out on the school shelves (separated by subject) in a magazine holder for use and replace when needed. I am still deciding what kind of marker to use for this…right now it is a marker that I keep in a little holder attached to the magazine holder and a colorful rag to wipe it off with that is pinked from a beautiful piece of remnant fabric.

This does save me a ton of visual space on the school shelves, looks neat, and you can find what you need at a glance. …that, and if my soon to be highly mobile toddler knocks it off the shelf, it is somewhat durable and I don’t have that much to pick up! 😉

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I and several of my dc are very visual learners. I hit up the thrift store recently and found a collection of small photo books (the kind that looks like a bunch of page protectors in a stiff cover) (Move over Pottery Barn Kids…learning spaces I covet on a regular basis [:$] )

photo album book had the idea of placing timeline cards in these books and having the kids narrate everything they can remember about the person and approximate time period. The beauty of this is that I don’t have to commit any one image to any one child. We can view them in the books or pull them out for a moveable timeline or play games with them…etc…

I have been known to use timeline cards on a moveable timeline….
but, this is different…fresh…new….aaand there is chocolate involved as a bribe learning incentive!
I use the cards from Our Father’s House’s program The ABC’s of Christian Culture and RC History cards.
The heck with using these hand-held books for family albums! I can make a “Jesus’ family album” for Salvation History studies…..etc… and then! I thought about having my middle aged children write the text to put in these books on the opposing page….hmmm…. I am still fleshing this out a bit. These books are right with my history center on my history learning shelf.

I have so many ideas lately that my head hurts. (Although I really think the ache is from my pulled muscle under my shoulder blade from scrubbing that one wall in the kitchen….)

I am decluttering for school. Whenever this happens, I get a better sense of what I have and what I can do with what I already got. And right now I already got too many ideas and too little of me to go around.

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Sorry about the spotty postings and the long absence.  I have had to take a sabbatical of sorts to work on new routines, my home and our new homeschooling endeavors…life has been rather stressful from outward sources as well.  This year’s educational agenda is quite different as my babies are certainly growing older without me looking.  I am tired but I am beginning to see good fruit which gives that tired a new kind of meaning.  As my grandmother would say "a good tired"…yes!  It is that!

I had a random thought the other night while watching our latest Netflix delivery with dh during our "quiet time" (meaning the blissful silence after the children are all slumbering after a long day)  We were watching an old episode of JAG and it had the JAG crew playing the chaplains in a softball game.  During said game, an issue arose that caused the game to be called off and right before JAG left, one of the chaplains said, "we will pray for you".  I turned to my dh and said, "Why is it that when you give someone the best gift that you have to give…prayer.. and you put it into words like that…especially on the "big screen", it sounds so weak and corny?"

I was just thinking of that…today…here I was with EWTN playing away on my computer and the speaker began his talk with prayer.  Now Timothy O’Donnell sounded so masculine and strong.  There was nothing corny about his call to prayer. … hmmm….

So I got to thinking…maybe it is because some persons might not really relate in a deep way in day to day things that are outside ourselves…like those actors playing softball on the "big screen"  but when we really get down to it…real prayer…and deep faith…it means more than anyone can put into words.  Maybe that is why when I think my deep thoughts out loud, I sometimes get blank looks from those that don’t have a deep attachment to prayer.  I got to say, sometimes I feel like a deep sea diver who is fascinated with the beauty and the intricacy of the world under the water and I come back to land and find that I have so much trouble communicating in a way that paints the beauty of what I see.  I have trouble making what I say hit on the heart of what I have discovered to those who don’t know and haven’t seen…yet.  Maybe I would be a much better witness if I just kept things simple…as simple as just "follow me"

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As I sit here with many windows open on my computer…searching sites, organizing bookmarks andLesson_planning_2

trying to jot my many thoughts into Word documents from my scribble books (spiral bound Mommy inspiration books gathered from the far corners of the house where they are strewed).   I am looking for inspiration as to how to piece this upcoming school year together.  I kinda feel like I am putting a 1000 piece puzzle together and sometimes even using a pair of scissors, a large mallet,  and some super-glue for the stubborn parts that I think should fit and won’t.  (I guess you could call that building an original…LOL)  I struggle a bit to make the big picture clear.  I don’t want it to be ME that gets in the way of success.  If I got in the way I would create a distorted picture like my 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  I need to use God’s spectacles on this project.  I gotta have a plan….a framework.  I need the proper tools and a good work ethic (including being open to use inspiration to the point of having a  willingness for perspiration..hey!  It is good exercise for the heart and that is a GOOD thing😉 ahem… and the ability to sit on my hands and bite my tongue if necessary)  and I want to build in many of the attributes of the divine builder.  I LIVE to be creative and I want to include a kind of thrill into learning….a sense of wonder.  I ask myself so much about each subject, each book, each idea… so many questions really.. like…

  • can I do this with more than one child at a time so we can involve as many of them in idea sharing and meaningful discussion and/or projects as I can?
  • is any idea or goal set for any of the children… beautiful… in some way?…
  • is it dry and boring or does it open the mind up to want to explore and learn more?
  • is it a real or just an ideal?
  • can I really do this in real time even with distractions and demands being made of me
  • will it make me a successful multi-tasker because it has an extra steering wheel built into it that helps the child to be self motivated and drive on his own at times so I am not steering allll of the time and he thinks the work is HIS and not just something I am making him do….
  • can this child find inspiration in this ?
  • can this child learn this abstract subject or can we build something that will lead them from 3D work into abstraction with seemingly difficult obstacles like math for the learning challenged…ala Montessori?

Yes, my thoughts run all over the place.  I wanted to have so many of my plans done already, but the Holy Spirit is directing me in a whole new way this time and I am trying to catch hold of that whisper He has placed on my heart.  It is like I have to keep sketching away until I can see the common thread that makes all the points come together in a usable format.  I am feeling like an evolving homeschooler…more seasoned…becoming more perfected at finding much practical living in all seasons…sickness and health.  I want to be successful in God’s terms if not in my own as well.  This is His deal anyway…He the playright and I am chief steward of the whole shebang…
No pressure ;o)…ah! to hear the words…"Well done my good and faithful servant…"

Little_red_schoolhouse_zoom_2
I want to see the potential of each child and help him fill himself with so much of life…living books, living ideas…a real learning environment.  I want him to own the information, to retain information given  and take what we have learned to new levels of understanding, new applications.  If they learn it they should be able to teach it and make it understandable to others…right?  I want them to teach me and each other.  I want to "share the love"…for any kind of discovery they make, I really want it to be contagious.  I want them to share the treasure they have found.

It reminds me of the game that my almost 12yo ds likes to play with his
siblings.  He likes to create treasure maps and leads his eager and
giggling siblings on rabbit trails finding clues to the ultimate hiding
place…He is selfless in his efforts and is very eager to see each
person delighting in the connections he sets up for each of them…He
makes it very personal and yet something for the whole of them at the
same time.  This game is played again and again…and as it is
practiced it becomes even more crafty and involved.  It reminds me also
of what every day of a good school day has been for us.

I even want the older ones to learn some Montessori presentations and like a well trained magician or actor, whichever you prefer, with a well trained eye and heart, share something AWESOME with the younger set.  I want them to learn the art of mentoring.  I also want the older ones to glean that there is a concrete reality to many of the abstract things they do now.  I want them to SEE with more than one sense how simply ordered subjects like math are so they can handle the abstract work with more finesse.  I have mentioned in the past that this technique works very well with my one dd who has some math and spelling issues.  Working with the younger ones is ironing out the kinks in some of her understanding.  She uses the natural strength and gift she has of leading the young ones effortlessly to aid her with her struggle with mastery of the order of numbers and letters.  She is looking at the whole thing from a different perspective now that she is older and it makes deeper sense to her.

I want to include training for all the senses..things to see, hear, touch, taste….Montessori presentations do this so well!…oh the fun games we could make from this idea!

I want to prepare the teacher in myself and yet want to prepare the inner teacher in each of my children using the budget God gave me, whether it be my time, money or talent. (oh the DREAMS I have for an unlimited budget…but much is to be learned by thrift too…God makes mountains out of what I perceive as my molehills….He has shown me that time and again if I have the eyes to see it.)   I have high dreams of doing more…God is giving me "sufficient" tools to build awesome structures…He must trust me a lot.  I am not overwhelmed with the prospect, quite the opposite…I see this as His great work and I am a player in it…I am awed by His way of doing things..making connections.  I can remember of a few occasions ..ok more than a few occasions… when God made a common thread appear throughout many of the subjects we were studying and it excited us to learn more…we kinda felt like we were on God’s rabbit trail…getting to know him in the beauty of nature, poetry, hear Him whispering throughout history and see His fingerprints all over this wonderful world that He created…

So I prayerfully discern…
I  want to work on development of habits and challenge ourselves with many subjects to train our minds toward good…giving each child a taste of great thoughts, ideas and art etc…I want to build in the beautiful.

  lol…I really don’t think there is a label for who we are, how we learn, or even proof of a perfectly checked off planning sheet to show we are perfect or admirable in our ideas or follow-through.  I know we could never be perfect anything, just the willing participants during  this grand time together..all be it all too short…to learn as a family…to grow and mature in grace and wisdom before both God and man.  We need a mission statement…maybe we should build that one together, too…

So then enters the time of my discernment as to how to put the pieces together and form a curriculum…I am praying about it…a novena for discernment.  At any time during the year, when inspiration hits, I hurry to type into a ready made word document or a spiral bound notebook…  Now I am taking that information and running with it.  I bookmark sites that I want us to explore together…print out booklists, pull books from shelves or  out of curricula catalogs and compile many lists for the library and then I turn around and look at the house…our learning places… and I want all my ideas and ideals compiled into  a full experience in a prepared environment.

Ok…so THAT must mean … the house needs planning too…(hmmm need to work more on that).

Constantly tweaking, I am ideally striving for chores that run themselves…like at a seasoned toothbrushing stage(you do it well without too much mental effort).

The end result, or the reality of all of this is more of a framework set in such a way that we can fall back on something when things get too interrupted by life’s events and build on something for future learning experiences.  So a framework building we go… ok lets see….to check it all off…
a framework that in addition to curricula and chores and habits training, must also include meal planning so menus are easy to prepare (and note to self…. that also includes a clean fridge) and never forgetting a deep prayer life full of meaningful encounters with God in the Liturgical year. 

I want a  stage set for success…and when this or any other of the stages I am preparing needs a good broom and a proper airing we will take the time off to set things to rights again.    So I really don’t want to have to use a pair of scissors any glue or a mallet to form my work of art.  I just want a good picture to focus on and enjoy.  I want it to be something that each child as well as myself can recognize and enjoy TOGETHER.  Am I reaching for perfection or just simplicity…just simplicity, at least I am pretty sure of this…so we can "simply live" and live fully.  Simplicity takes tweaking and work…I am up for that.  And as for live fully part, I want to live fully the liturgical year…and as a natural consequence I want us to be living our school year in the classroom of The Holy Family in a God-centered, family centered existence.

Read Full Post »

As I sit here with many windows open on my computer…searching sites, organizing bookmarks andLesson_planning_2

trying to jot my many thoughts into Word documents from my scribble books (spiral bound Mommy inspiration books gathered from the far corners of the house where they are strewed).   I am looking for inspiration as to how to piece this upcoming school year together.  I kinda feel like I am putting a 1000 piece puzzle together and sometimes even using a pair of scissors, a large mallet,  and some super-glue for the stubborn parts that I think should fit and won’t.  (I guess you could call that building an original…LOL)  I struggle a bit to make the big picture clear.  I don’t want it to be ME that gets in the way of success.  If I got in the way I would create a distorted picture like my 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.  I need to use God’s spectacles on this project.  I gotta have a plan….a framework.  I need the proper tools and a good work ethic (including being open to use inspiration to the point of having a  willingness for perspiration..hey!  It is good exercise for the heart and that is a GOOD thing😉 ahem… and the ability to sit on my hands and bite my tongue if necessary)  and I want to build in many of the attributes of the divine builder.  I LIVE to be creative and I want to include a kind of thrill into learning….a sense of wonder.  I ask myself so much about each subject, each book, each idea… so many questions really.. like…

  • can I do this with more than one child at a time so we can involve as many of them in idea sharing and meaningful discussion and/or projects as I can?
  • is any idea or goal set for any of the children… beautiful… in some way?…
  • is it dry and boring or does it open the mind up to want to explore and learn more?
  • is it a real or just an ideal?
  • can I really do this in real time even with distractions and demands being made of me
  • will it make me a successful multi-tasker because it has an extra steering wheel built into it that helps the child to be self motivated and drive on his own at times so I am not steering allll of the time and he thinks the work is HIS and not just something I am making him do….
  • can this child find inspiration in this ?
  • can this child learn this abstract subject or can we build something that will lead them from 3D work into abstraction with seemingly difficult obstacles like math for the learning challenged…ala Montessori?

Yes, my thoughts run all over the place.  I wanted to have so many of my plans done already, but the Holy Spirit is directing me in a whole new way this time and I am trying to catch hold of that whisper He has placed on my heart.  It is like I have to keep sketching away until I can see the common thread that makes all the points come together in a usable format.  I am feeling like an evolving homeschooler…more seasoned…becoming more perfected at finding much practical living in all seasons…sickness and health.  I want to be successful in God’s terms if not in my own as well.  This is His deal anyway…He the playright and I am chief steward of the whole shebang…
No pressure ;o)…ah! to hear the words…"Well done my good and faithful servant…"

Little_red_schoolhouse_zoom_2
I want to see the potential of each child and help him fill himself with so much of life…living books, living ideas…a real learning environment.  I want him to own the information, to retain information given  and take what we have learned to new levels of understanding, new applications.  If they learn it they should be able to teach it and make it understandable to others…right?  I want them to teach me and each other.  I want to "share the love"…for any kind of discovery they make, I really want it to be contagious.  I want them to share the treasure they have found.

It reminds me of the game that my almost 12yo ds likes to play with his
siblings.  He likes to create treasure maps and leads his eager and
giggling siblings on rabbit trails finding clues to the ultimate hiding
place…He is selfless in his efforts and is very eager to see each
person delighting in the connections he sets up for each of them…He
makes it very personal and yet something for the whole of them at the
same time.  This game is played again and again…and as it is
practiced it becomes even more crafty and involved.  It reminds me also
of what every day of a good school day has been for us.

I even want the older ones to learn some Montessori presentations and like a well trained magician or actor, whichever you prefer, with a well trained eye and heart, share something AWESOME with the younger set.  I want them to learn the art of mentoring.  I also want the older ones to glean that there is a concrete reality to many of the abstract things they do now.  I want them to SEE with more than one sense how simply ordered subjects like math are so they can handle the abstract work with more finesse.  I have mentioned in the past that this technique works very well with my one dd who has some math and spelling issues.  Working with the younger ones is ironing out the kinks in some of her understanding.  She uses the natural strength and gift she has of leading the young ones effortlessly to aid her with her struggle with mastery of the order of numbers and letters.  She is looking at the whole thing from a different perspective now that she is older and it makes deeper sense to her.

I want to include training for all the senses..things to see, hear, touch, taste….Montessori presentations do this so well!…oh the fun games we could make from this idea!

I want to prepare the teacher in myself and yet want to prepare the inner teacher in each of my children using the budget God gave me, whether it be my time, money or talent. (oh the DREAMS I have for an unlimited budget…but much is to be learned by thrift too…God makes mountains out of what I perceive as my molehills….He has shown me that time and again if I have the eyes to see it.)   I have high dreams of doing more…God is giving me "sufficient" tools to build awesome structures…He must trust me a lot.  I am not overwhelmed with the prospect, quite the opposite…I see this as His great work and I am a player in it…I am awed by His way of doing things..making connections.  I can remember of a few occasions ..ok more than a few occasions… when God made a common thread appear throughout many of the subjects we were studying and it excited us to learn more…we kinda felt like we were on God’s rabbit trail…getting to know him in the beauty of nature, poetry, hear Him whispering throughout history and see His fingerprints all over this wonderful world that He created…

So I prayerfully discern…
I  want to work on development of habits and challenge ourselves with many subjects to train our minds toward good…giving each child a taste of great thoughts, ideas and art etc…I want to build in the beautiful.

  lol…I really don’t think there is a label for who we are, how we learn, or even proof of a perfectly checked off planning sheet to show we are perfect or admirable in our ideas or follow-through.  I know we could never be perfect anything, just the willing participants during  this grand time together..all be it all too short…to learn as a family…to grow and mature in grace and wisdom before both God and man.  We need a mission statement…maybe we should build that one together, too…

So then enters the time of my discernment as to how to put the pieces together and form a curriculum…I am praying about it…a novena for discernment.  At any time during the year, when inspiration hits, I hurry to type into a ready made word document or a spiral bound notebook…  Now I am taking that information and running with it.  I bookmark sites that I want us to explore together…print out booklists, pull books from shelves or  out of curricula catalogs and compile many lists for the library and then I turn around and look at the house…our learning places… and I want all my ideas and ideals compiled into  a full experience in a prepared environment.

Ok…so THAT must mean … the house needs planning too…(hmmm need to work more on that).

Constantly tweaking, I am ideally striving for chores that run themselves…like at a seasoned toothbrushing stage(you do it well without too much mental effort).

The end result, or the reality of all of this is more of a framework set in such a way that we can fall back on something when things get too interrupted by life’s events and build on something for future learning experiences.  So a framework building we go… ok lets see….to check it all off…
a framework that in addition to curricula and chores and habits training, must also include meal planning so menus are easy to prepare (and note to self…. that also includes a clean fridge) and never forgetting a deep prayer life full of meaningful encounters with God in the Liturgical year. 

I want a  stage set for success…and when this or any other of the stages I am preparing needs a good broom and a proper airing we will take the time off to set things to rights again.    So I really don’t want to have to use a pair of scissors any glue or a mallet to form my work of art.  I just want a good picture to focus on and enjoy.  I want it to be something that each child as well as myself can recognize and enjoy TOGETHER.  Am I reaching for perfection or just simplicity…just simplicity, at least I am pretty sure of this…so we can "simply live" and live fully.  Simplicity takes tweaking and work…I am up for that.  And as for live fully part, I want to live fully the liturgical year…and as a natural consequence I want us to be living our school year in the classroom of The Holy Family in a God-centered, family centered existence.

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