Posted in Homeschooling Corner

My Homeschool Meet and Greet

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Poetry tea time display

Last month I felt inspired to offer a homeschool meet and greet in my community. I wanted to give curious parents a chance to meet experienced homeschooling parents, such as myself, so they could see what homeschooling can look like, freely ask questions, learn about a local co-op, and see some of the different curriculum available. And, to be completely honest, I wanted to invite some of my dearest friends, who send their kids to public schools (as I once did mine), to meet other homeschooling parents and hopefully see that we are actually normal (certainly not super-moms).

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I printed out favorite education/homeschool quotes and posted them throughout my entryway and living room.

As soon as I came up with this idea, I mentioned it to several friends in both camps (homeschooling and public schooling) to see if there was even any interest. Everyone was in favor of the idea so that encouraged me to go for it. I then emailed two local homeschooling co-ops in my community and invited them to participate. One said no because they are full, but the other said an enthusiastic yes. Whew!

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Unit study display

I chose to make this event a two-hour open house so it would be informal and relaxed. I chose an evening on a Thursday in May for a few reasons: First, I thought May was perfect timing for the summer months, giving parents time to ponder and plan for the school year ahead. Second, I thought a weeknight would mean dads could join in after work, and also, I wanted to avoid the craziness of the weekend. I chose to host in my own home because it’s homeschooling after all. 😛

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art and music curriculum table

As I was planning this event, I brainstormed ways to bring homeschooling to life. I was already creating a beginning homeschool resource packet, but I wanted something visual to offer besides curriculum samples. That’s when I had a light-bulb moment- I would create four main displays highlighting my favorite aspects of homeschooling: poetry tea time, unit studies, morning baskets (morning time), and read alouds. I just want to mention here, that none of these are requirements for homeschooling, although there are so many benefits to reading aloud to your children! These are just awesome ideas which many families embrace at one time or another in their homeschooling.

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Morning “basket” display

I love to design displays so this did not feel like work to me. I started setting up my displays two days before the event (which I could do because I don’t have littles at home anymore).

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I put together this morning treasure chest and made it a give-away.

Along with each display and table, I put out info. cards (5×7 index size) for parents to collect if they so wished. I even hole-punched them and provided binder rings to keep them together. Each info. card briefly outlined the concept displayed (such as morning baskets) or listed some popular curriculum choices to consider. In the packet, I included reasons to homeschool, common homeschool myths, Utah homeschool laws, a little blurb about dual-enrollment, and a list of homeschool blogs which I find encouraging.

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Read aloud display

I also provided refreshments and a children’s table. I covered my kitchen table with Kraft paper and set out bowls of Legos, and washable markers and crayons. This was a bit hit with kids of all ages who came along with their parents. For refreshments, I had a fruit tray, veggie tray with ranch dip, cheese and gluten-free crackers (I knew one guest eats gluten-free), and a s’mores bar (individual bowls of Golden Grahams cereal, chocolate chips, mini M&M’s, fruity marshmallows, regular marshmallows, and Teddy Grahams which could be scooped into snack cups).

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I certainly could’ve had more guests, but 12 showed up (five were experienced homeschooling moms) and everyone seemed happy to be there as questions were asked and answered, curriculum handled and discussed, and sad pubic school stories shared. I heard from two different moms that there is a homeschooling growth or “surge” (the exact word one used) happening in our community, and if that is true, I think it’s wonderful. I have been homeschooling my son for nine years now. I wouldn’t trade those days/years for anything. Anyway, I thought this event was a success. 🙂

♥ Here is something I’ve learned about myself over the 26 years of my marriage- Not only do I enjoy hosting, but no matter how early I start preparing for a gathering, I end up working until the very minute it starts! It’s just the way I roll because I’m such a thorough planner and cleaner. Do you like to plan and host gatherings? How perfect does your home have to be when you have invited guests coming over? Thanks for visiting my blog! ♥

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Posted in Craft Corner

Tulip Garden Craft

On Saturday, my daughter, Darcie, and I hosted a little girl spring craft party with 14 girls from our neighborhood. Our original group consists of nine girls, but often we end up with someone’s cousin or neighbor, making ten. This time, we ended up with one cousin and four neighbors (three which are sisters). It meant an extra shopping trip, but with Darcie’s help, we managed to keep the group contained to my craft room, kitchen and living room. We simply set a few rules and divided the girls into two teams. They even gave their teams a name: “Blue Penguins” and “Camie’s Awesome Owls”, which I was not expecting. 🙂

Darcie and I set up three craft stations- tulip gardens were made at my craft table; sugar scrubs were made at the kitchen table; and stamping cards and paper sacks took place at the kitchen island. This way, when a girl finished her scrub or tulip garden before the others, she was allowed to stamp and color a card and a paper sack (as a gift bag for the sugar scrub) where she was out of the way and still busy. We also set up an extra table for the girls to keep their crafts once they were finished. We taped a sheet of paper with their names on them to the table.

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Inspired by the tulips growing in my yard which I planted last fall, I came up with a tulip garden craft which was fairly easy and turned out wonderfully.

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For this craft, I chose the following supplies-

  • Clear, plastic bowls, labeled “garden bowls”, from the craft section of Dollar Tree
  • Floral Styrofoam disks, also from Dollar Tree (2 per package)
  • Brown or green paint, and sponge brush, to paint the disks to look like dirt or grass
  • Craft moss, from Dollar Tree or a craft store
  • 4″ x 6″ foam sheets, from Dollar Tree and Walmart (32 sheets per package in assorted colors)
  • Green or green patterned paper straws, from Michael’s and Hobby Lobby (in the paper/craft and party sections)
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks (I found the high-temp gun worked better than the low-temp)
  • Elmer’s Craft Bond glue (I love this brand of craft glue)
  • Cotton balls, as filler (optional)
  • River rocks or glass rocks, from Dollar Tree or a craft store (or from outside)
  • Craft thread, from Dollar Tree or a craft store, and a large sewing needle (optional)
  • Stickers or washi tape (optional) to decorate the outside of the bowls

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I did do some prep work beforehand for a group this size. Otherwise, I would’ve involved the child in each step, supervising the hot glue of course:

  • I cut the straws in half because I felt this was the perfect stem size
  • I painted the foam disks brown to resemble dirt (allow time to dry)
  • I hot-glued the painted disks to the bottom of the bowls
  • I made a tulip template out of cardstock and used it to cut several tulips out of various colors of foam (but I left plenty of uncut foam for girls to make their own designs)

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Most of the girls chose to decorate the outsides of their bowls first with washi tape. I tried to get them to apply the tape in small pieces, but they thought it was more fun to roll out long lengths at a time, haha. They turned out adorable even if the tape didn’t go on evenly due to the shape of the bowl. 😀

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For every tulip, each girl either cut her own tulip design out of the foam or used my pre-cut ones, or a combination of both. Each basic tulip took two matching parts, one for the front and the other for the back, with the straw-stem glued in between. Then the front was glued to the back, with a little cotton fluff as filler, if desired.

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Some of the girls chose to create their own, more intricate design, and some girls were up to stitching their flowers with craft thread, which was great sewing practice. I overheard one girl ask, “Why don’t we just use a sewing machine?” 😛

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I supervised the girls with the needles and hot glue gun, of course. I ended up helping several tie their ends and I tried to show them two different ways to stitch. Once the tulips were finished, the girls placed them in the Styrofoam disks and glued down moss and river/glass rocks as desired. One girl made a caterpillar and rock totem.

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We could’ve added foam leaves, but I didn’t think of that in my prep work and I kind of like the simplicity of the stems alone. The important thing is that what I gave the girls to do sparked their creativity, which is the goal. I’ve heard it said that art is more open-ended than craft projects, but I disagree. I think crafts can be open-ended, too!

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♥ If you or your child makes this craft, I’d love to see it. Thanks for visiting my blog, and Happy Spring! ♥

Posted in Family Corner

Spring in the Air

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The weather has been so lovely lately. Marcus and I have been getting out in the mornings and going for a walk. Today we drove to a nearby park and discovered it has a nature trail we didn’t even know existed. That was a fun exploration. There was even a bridge over water to cross.

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My tulips have finally made an appearance along with the other flowers in my little flower garden. More are preparing to bloom soon. It just makes me happy to look out my craft room window or walk outside and see them. I keep thinking I need to get my fairy garden set up, but I haven’t made time for that yet.

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I’ve come up with this crazy idea to host a meet ‘n greet between a few homeschool moms and any curious parents who want to know more about homeschooling. I’m hoping this will take place next month. So far I’ve started typing up a little informational packet with Utah’s homeschool laws, and a short list of curriculum and resources, plus I’ve contacted two co-ops to see if they would join us and present their offerings. One declined, saying they are full, but the other agreed to participate as they will have openings. I’ve got more planning and inviting to do, but suddenly this idea out-of-nowhere seems possible.

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The Sweetest Missionary Ever has been touring Cusco and learning some of its history. I can’t believe she’s been out for 15 weeks now. She is struggling a bit with the language (Spanish), but otherwise she loves it. I’ve told her to give herself time to get the language down. I have a feeling she’s being a little too hard on herself. She’s always had an aptitude for languages and she’s lived in Peru, twice before.

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I’m busy preparing for my little girl spring craft party this coming Saturday. I will be hosting 10 darling neighbor girls in my craft room and they will be making their own tulip gardens and a Mother’s day gift for their mamas (sugar scrubs). One of the moms (of three of the girls who are in this group) has sweetly offered to provide lunch. I usually provide a lunch or dinner, depending on the time we hold our party. These parties are a lot of fun!

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My oldest daughter, Darcie, finishes her semester this week, and then starts three summer courses in a couple of weeks. One of the courses will qualify her to teach English in another country. She will then have one final semester left (this coming fall) before she graduates as an English major. She will be our second college graduate (her dad being our first) in our family.

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This was taken last May at a tulip festival. I’m dreaming of going again, but we will see. It’s a three hour drive away and we’re so busy!

My oldest son, Zach, recently went through his regular MRI check for his MS. It’s a long MRI for him, nearly two hours! I know because I waited for him and in that time I finished a book, started another, and watched some HGTV on the waiting room TV. Then he had a follow up appointment shortly afterwards with his neurologist, so it felt like I was in waiting rooms all day, but the people-watching was interesting. There was this one lanky guy who mumbled aloud as he filled out a questionnaire. He couldn’t stop moving and talking his entire wait time. He talked to me (I was sitting next to him), the receptionist, and made several quick calls to friends and, I’m guessing, his mom, to chat about horses and feeding the dogs. He seemed like a nice guy. I’m not sure why he was in for an MRI that day. He mumbled something about his condition being “terminal, but not really”. (I wonder what that means?) Anyway, everything looks good for my son at this time- no lesion activity. Breathing a sigh of relief. You just never know with MS. He will stay on his current medication (Copaxone).

♥ Thank you so much for stopping by! I try to get to all your blogs as my time allows. My next post will be about the craft party so stay tuned. Hope you’re having a beautiful spring (or whatever season it is where you live) day. ♥

Posted in Blessings Corner

Spring Ramblings

I’ve been so busy lately that I haven’t found time to post, and I don’t have anything earth shattering to say now, except that there are people around us- neighbors, strangers, friends, extended family, our own family members, who need us, and we never know how our influence or random acts of kindness will touch other lives for the better. It’s good to be aware of others and the trials they are going through. It’s good to pray for them and reach out to them. It’s good for our souls!

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One of my lovely flowers in my spring garden

Have you ever watched the movie, The Thrill of It All, with Doris Day and James Garner? My daughters and I love Doris Day movies, and this is one of our favorites. The suds scene… 😀

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It snowed earlier this week, and the temps were quite cool, but now we’re back to sunshine and green lawns. I feel blessed to live in this beautiful valley. I’m crazy about the mountains here, and I adore the little farms scattered about.

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We were happy to hear that our sweet missionary received her first care package from us. We were very pleased with the private delivery service we discovered because the mail system is often unreliable in Peru.

For those who read my last post, I enjoyed my first county convention, even though it lasted four hours. We have several candidates running for U.S. Senate, to fill a seat which will soon be vacated. It was interesting to listen to their three-minute speeches giving us an idea of their values and stances. I’ve also seen some progress with treating my KP, and if anyone is interested in hearing about that, leave a comment below. I’m just glad something is finally working!

♥ Are there any other Doris Day fans out there? If so, what is your favorite Doris Day movie? ♥

Posted in Family Corner

One Spring Day (an update on my life)

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It seems as though this valley I call home is still waking up from winter. There are a few signs of spring, but most are only visible when you look up close.

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Almost every day I check my tulip/crocus bed for new developments. I just need to be patient a little longer!

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My first wreath I’ve ever made. I like how it turned out.

I am enjoying warmer weather here this week. The sun is hiding today, but the skies are blue and the grass lush and green.

I am wondering if any of my readers have experienced KP (keratosis pilaris) and if so, what products and/or diet recommendations work for you? I’d appreciate any advice! Mine is on my face so it’s particularly bothersome to me. It showed up last fall and has plagued me ever since. I went completely off dairy for most of March, but didn’t notice any difference. That was disappointing, but I’m still proud of my efforts.

Here is another question for my readers- Have any of you ever been a county delegate? I was voted in as a county delegate and my first convention to attend is this Saturday evening. I’d love any advice! I feel like the little packet of info. given me was not very informative. I guess I’ll roll with it on Saturday and go from there. I think I’ll be meeting potential candidates for state senate and our state school board. Should be interesting.

I’ve been babysitting a lot for a friend in my neighborhood and church. I work with her four-year old son at church, as well. He has some special needs and I am his one-on-one teacher. It’s a lot of fun and I think watching him at home once or twice a week has increased his progress with me. Plus, his little sister is adorable! She loves to watercolor at my house.

Last night, my husband and I supported our son, who is 15, by attending a service auction fundraising dinner. The youth in our ward (church congregation) were raising money to pay for camps and other activities. I got a little carried away on the bidding! I ended up with three heaping plates of brownies (they were all one bid; I gave two plates away in the parking lot), an expensive plate of chocolate covered strawberries ($35), one jug of fresh apple cider, five dog walks, and window washing for our entire house. All, but the window washing was on a silent auction. I just couldn’t put my paddle down bidding for the window washing! I have to say though, the strawberries are delicious!

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Here Marissa is with her companion and a little boy named, Miguel, with a Cusco village in the background

Here is a recent snapshot of my missionary daughter in Cusco. She has been out for three months now (her mission is for eighteen months). She told me that when Peruvians hear her singing in English, they ask her to continue. They will also ask her to translate songs on the radio that are in English. She sometimes volunteers in a pizzeria and bakery. You can read more of her mission adventures at Our Inspired Quest.

♥  I just counted and we have 49 windows. Thanks for spending some time visiting my blog today. ♥

Posted in Craft Corner

My Craft Room Reveal

I have the sweetest husband and sons in the world! For most of March they were hard at work transforming our den into my craft room. One Saturday they began by taking every single item out of our giant junk drawer, a.k.a the family den. Then they ripped out the carpet and took down a wall counter that was attached to one end of the room.

I was allowed to choose two paint colors and the vinyl flooring, but that was it! My guys designed this space top to bottom, in secret, and mysterious packages were delivered and hid from me. The big reveal was on the 26th.

Drum roll please!

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I chose paint colors that remind me of the beach and ocean. Based on that, my guys decided to run with a beach theme.

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The dark blue panels are chalkboard paint, which was my youngest son’s idea.

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I chose a warm walnut-finish vinyl flooring, which is waterproof and ideal for messy creativity.

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My husband designed and built this craft table for me. It’s just the right size for ten little girls (three on each long side, two on each short end). Every two-to-three months, I host a little girl craft party with nine neighborhood girls. We always have a blast together and they are excited to have our spring crafting party in this fun room. They will sit on bar stools which I still need to spray paint white.

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All of the decorations were chosen by my husband with the kids’ input.

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I’ve owned this WorkBox 3.0 from The Original ScrapBox for almost a year now and I absolutely love it. It’s perfect for keeping and organizing all of my crafting treasures from glitter to ribbon to decorative papers to paint. It fits perfectly in this space!

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So there you have it! There’s even extra space in the closet, but I haven’t done anything with it yet.

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♥ Thanks for visiting my craft room with me! Do you have a devoted space for creativity? I’d love to see it if you’ve posted about it. I hope you’re having a fantastic day. ♥