Our Favorite Classroom

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This whole homeschooling venture is still so new.  It’s a good new, but still unfamiliar territory that I am working to navigate.  This week has been especially challenging, what with coming off of the big birthday weekend, and now having various new puzzles, Lego sets and craft kits dotted throughout our home.  And now, the challenge emerges in front of me:  How do we have “school” when there is all this birthday present goodness acting as a distraction?

But isn’t it crazy how God gives us just what we need?  This week we have been blessed with the most beautiful weather.  It is warm, yet the scent of autumn can be found upon the breeze, and the fall foliage is in its true glory.  With these glorious days set before us, I decided to pack up the books, and move our lessons outdoors this week.  We spent our days at two of our favorite local spots, Aldeen Park and Atwood Park.  There is just something to say about learning while being immersed in nature.  It makes the learning process truly magical, and the movement and physical activity that can be incorporated in this setting is unmatched.  Living in the Midwest, we know these outdoor educational opportunities will not last much longer, but boy are we working to soak it all up while we still can.

Tea with Jam and Bread

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My eldest gal turned nine this weekend.  How is it possible that my precious girl is so near double digits?  Needless to say, this weekend was filled with all kinds of party action.  And true to form, each party was historically-based, for my daughter who loves history more than any third grader I have come across.

On Saturday, she hosted her girlfriends for a Victorian tea party for her girlfriends and their dolls.  They sipped on her favorite raspberry peach tea, and snacked on our favorite cupcake recipe from this cook book.  (We used this natural food coloring this time, and I must say, I loved it!  We have run into trouble in the past with natural food coloring in that it did not hold the color very well, but this one worked like a charm.)

This tea party was especially close to my heart because when I was nine, my mom held a tea party for my sister and me.  It is one of my fondest memories I have as a child, and I was just thrilled when Gianna suggested a similar tea party for her birthday on this particular year.  We could just feel Mana’s presence with us all day long.

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Then on Sunday, we ventured back to the time of the pioneers for her Little House on the Prairie-inspired party, celebrated with our family.  My daughter is quite the organizer, and planned the entire menu, decorations, and kids’ activities, all on her own.  The afternoon featured center pieces and a fun pomander activity (and mulled wine…my contribution to the day) from Ashley English’s Handmade Gatherings.  She also found tons of fun pioneer crafts for the kids in Pioneer Projects by Bobbie Kalman.  She then made her own corn chowder with a recipe from her newly acquired Lincoln Heritage Trail Cook Book.  And of course, a pioneer party is not complete without homemade butter and bread, so we baked her favorite honey oat bread from The Rhythm of Family by Amanda and Steve Soule.  And for those who may be wondering, I made the girls’ skirts from a vintage coverlet I found at a thrift store, and I purchased these bonnets to complete the pioneer ensemble.

The shining sun, crisp autumn air, and scent of campfire and cloves mingling in the air left us all feeling that this was truly a wonderful way to close our weekend.



Some Garden Bling


We, like most in the country right now, are experiencing a major cold snap right now.  At times like this, it is so hard to imagine that there was a time when our gardens were in bloom, with produce overflowing from baskets resting in the sunlight.  Those days of growth and warmth seem so far away at this moment.  My family seemed to need a reminder that our time on this Earth is one of rhythm and cycles, and we will once again be back to those times of basking in the warm embrace of spring and summer days.

My girls were given wonderful stepping stone kits for Christmas, so we decided crafting those stones would be a perfect little reminder of the garden goodness to come in only a few short months.

Once completed, the stones were placed in our three-season room that is now filled with empty pots filled with remnants of frozen soil.  But we are already imagining the day when those pots are moved outside and filled with the plants that will add beauty and sustenance to our lives.  And our little stepping stones will add just that extra little touch of garden glam that every growing space needs.

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Kids with Cob


This weekend, for my husband’s birthday present, we journeyed up north a bit to the Angelic Organics Learning Center for a “Kids with Cob” class.  We had been wanting to attend a class at Angelic for a long time now, and I am so very happy we finally had a chance to attend.  We had the most wonderful afternoon, learning about building with cob, getting messy, and playing with the animals.

It’s so amazing to watch the little ones soak in so much information and knowledge, while immersed in creative activity.  And best of all…the kids (and adults too) got to play in mud all day.  What could be better on a beautiful Friday afternoon?

I encourage anyone living in the Rockford area to take advantage of the Angelic Organics Learning Center and all of the wonderful classes they offer in regards to holistic and sustainable living.  You are sure to leave with lots of great information, and even more amazing memories.

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What Summer Memories Are Made Of


When I think back to the summers of my youth, there are certain images that float immediately to my mind…Balmy summer nights, when the sound of chirping crickets drown out all other noise in the darkness while my sister and I camped out with our neighbors in their play house.  Walking barefoot through the damp blades of grass at dusk catching lightening bugs with my mom and dad, then storing those seemingly magical creatures for just a few precious minutes in wooden bug houses my Grandpa Dit crafted.  Taking long leisurely bike rides with my two best neighborhood friends, every once in a while pausing to chat with a boy we all had a crush on.  Running up and down our street in the warm summer sunlight, as a lively game of capture-the-flag was underway.  I have no doubt these memories will stay with me for my lifetime, for these are the moments that define summer for me in my mind.

Ever since having children, I find myself thinking about what little images will be held in their minds for the duration of their lives.  After spending time in the Northwoods of Wisconsin last week,  I can unequivocally say these Northwoods-memories will stay with my girls forever.  For what could be better than a breakfast cooked on the beach? Or jumping off the dock at least a hundred times, never tiring because it fills you with the most thrilling feeling each and every time your body pauses for that brief moment in the air before plunging into the cool waters below? Or crunching your toes in the damp sand as the refreshing water waves over them?  Or having your parents feed you bits of food in the lake because you refuse to get out of that amazingly fun water for even a second?  Or dancing on a stage with your cousins while a Tom Petty song plays, without a care in the world that dozens of grown-ups are watching you, wishing they could embrace the wild abandon running through every fiber of your being?  These are the moments I am sure my girls will carry with them, for this is what summer memories are made of.

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Sew, A Needle Pulling Thread


With Weather rearing her ugly head the past few days, the girls and I have been scrounging for indoor projects to keep our hands and minds busy.  The girls wanted to sew, so sew we did.  I had a few pieces of burlap left from a previous project (Here is the other embroidery project we completed), so the girls used those to create the front panel for these pillows.

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We then used a bit of left over fabric, sewed a couple of pillows, stuffed them…


and we were done.  It turned out to be a nice quick project to showcase their little creative selves.


Valentine Number Two


My youngest daughter’s Valentine idea yesterday led me to another idea I could use for my oldest daughter’s Valentines.  I used a similar play on words, changed sew to sow, and voila…2013 Valentines are done.  Here’s how to do it…

Step 1:  Cut a length of ribbon that will fit around your chosen seed pack.  (I gave myself an extra inch.)


Step 2:  Put a dot of hot glue on one end of the ribbon and attach it to the seed pack.  Then use another dot of hot glue to attach the other end of the ribbon to itself.  (This way the seed pack won’t slip out of the ribbon.)


Step 3:  Print your text I’m “SOW” happy you are my Valentine! onto these labels.

Step 5:  Place one label on the seed pack, over the seam of the ribbon.

And that’s it!


Happy crafting!

Valentine Number One

In yesterday’s post, I mentioned that I needed to peruse the internet for some fun, creative Valentine ideas.  Well, before I ventured into cyberspace to find ideas, I first went to my three year-old who is never short on a few ideas of her own.  Let me tell you, I’m so glad that I did.  That little lady had such a cute idea, and I bring it to you here today.

She told me, “Mommy, I want to use my new sewing machine and sew hearts for my friends for Valentine’s Day.”  And that’s just what we did…

Step 1:  Trace heart shapes onto a piece of felt.


Step 2:  Cut out the heart shapes using pinking shears.


Step 3:  Sew a zig zag stitch along the outside edge of each heart.


Step 4:  Print your text I’m “SEW” glad you are my Valentine! onto these labels.

Step 5:  Place one label on each heart, reinforcing it with a brad of your choice.

And that’s it!


Happy crafting!

Her First Project


As I mentioned on Tuesday, my three year-old received a sewing machine for Christmas this year.  Now, many of you may be wondering, “Why on earth did this crazy mom buy her three year old a real sewing machine?”  Well, when researching the kids-type sewing machines and speaking with the lovely gals at my local sewing shop, they informed me that many of the machines geared towards kids will fall apart over just a short period of time.  They told me that by spending just about $40 more, I could get a nice, quality machine that can grow with her.

Obviously, this real sewing machine (as my daughter refers to it), involves a lot of assistance from mama at this time, but I have no doubt that in a few years this little lady will be sewing away all by herself.  But for now, I run the pedal, and she feeds the fabric through the machine, with mommy’s hand gently atop hers to insure it doesn’t get too close to the needle.


The week my daughter returned to pre-school after the holiday break, they were suppose to bring in a toy they received for Christmas for show-and-tell.  So, my tiny seamstress wanted to make a quilt, and bring that quilt in to show her class because “Mommy, my real sewing machine is too heavy to bring into my classroom and I don’t think it will fit in my school bag.”

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So we worked and worked on a cold afternoon, while Big Sissy was at school, and we created this tiny little quilt.  She is so very proud of this crafted bit.  She has been taking it everywhere, and showing it to anyone who will look.


I just had to add this picture here at the end.  My daughter told me she had to iron her seams with her iron to make sure they were flat.  Quite the professional little seamstress she is.  I’m such a proud mama.

School Garden

From the very moment my two little girls entered this world, I instantly began worrying about their schooling.  I’m not sure why these thoughts consume me so.  Maybe it is my teacher-self knowing the importance of education.  Or maybe it is the fact that Twain’s “never let school interfere with your education” seems to beat a constant drum in my head.  But no matter the reason, schooling has, and I think will always be, on my mind.

When my eldest little baby ventured off to kindergarten this year, I felt apprehension in my heart and an uneasiness in the pit of my stomach, wondering if I made the correct choice in her schooling endeavors.  It is now that we are in entering our third month of school that I am fully confident that my husband and I have not only made a good choice, but one that has allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief.

My husband and I both have a background in education, so we have always been fairly confident we would be able to supplement academically where our girls may need extra assistance when it comes to their education.  But with family and faith as our top priorities in life, we searched our large city a great deal to find a place where these two aspects of life were not only mentioned, but highlighted and emphasized as being of paramount importance in life.

We found that place in the school that our daughter attends.  It is a place where love and respect for your neighbor is taught and encouraged.  A place where prayer has not vanished, as it has in so many other aspects of our culture.  A place where my daughter not only feels safe, but feels loved and accepted by her fellow peers, the teachers, secretary and principal.  A place of family and faith.

{One possible spot for our new school garden!}

And now a place that emphasizes the importance of being stewards to the earth and caring for God’s creation that He has set before us.  Yes, we have been granted full permission and support to start a school garden!

It is impossible for me to express in words the absolute outpouring of support I have witnessed since first mentioning this project only one month ago.  Over the course of the past few weeks, I have seen a group of adults go above and beyond their call of duty to do what they think is best for kids.  It is truly wonderful and awe-inspiring to be a part of.

And so we begin another new adventure in faith, family…and gardening!  What could be better 🙂  If any of you have experience in working with school or community gardens, please feel free to pass along advice in the comment section of this post.  I will be sure to keep you all updated with the progress of this very exciting project!