Reviving Motherhood

Learning on the Journey


Homeschool Mother’s Journal 10-24-11

Linking up again this week.

In my life this week…

I was sick. What started as a killer headache went on and on and on the 3rd day I started running fever and aching all over. I have no idea what it was. No one else is sick, and I hope it stays that way.

In our homeschool this week…

I schooled from the couch a lot. On Friday I couldn’t even get up, but the kids were so sweet about coming to me and letting me supervise from bed. One downside is that when a homeschool mom gets sick there is no sub! I know I could take a day off if I really had to, but I prefer to save those days for great fun or real emergency.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

You don’t always have to be at the kitchen table to have school. Have it where it makes the most sense. If it means teaching from the bed, from the rocking chair while you nurse a little one, listening to a reader while you wash dishes, or having a lesson outside, go for it. I am learning, finally, after so many years of burnout, that those veteran homeschoolers had it right when they said, “Don’t try to copy institutional school at home.” You’ll kill yourself.

I am inspired by…

Jessica at Teachable Moments. I have been reading her blog for awhile and it always encourages me.

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

We continued swimming lessons this week. Since I was sick, that was about it. We didn’t even all make it to church. My 8-year-old did tag along to a football event with a friend Sunday, but this was a light week in the socialization department.

My favorite thing this week was…

Probably just loving on my little ones. I love that they are still little enough to love snuggling.

What’s working/not working for us…

We are successfully integrating language arts. The younger kids read to me daily, and they practice their handwriting independently. Otherwise, we have been doing group art/creative writing projects several times per week which they ADORE. For example, this week we made a list…something like a bucket list or “before I die” list…But I did not want to get that morbid with little ones. We called it “Some day I would like to…” and everyone made a list or poster about things they would like to do one day. We also illustrated our lists. Some of us had more illustration, while others had mostly writing, but everyone both wrote and drew something. I do these creative projects with them, which makes them happy. Clarice at Storybook Woods clued me into this when she once mentioned that children are far more likely to become engaged in an activity if they see you doing it too. I have found this to be true. They love it when I participate with them.

Elizabeth, my oldest, has been working on a story that takes place in the historical period she’s studying (ancient Rome). I have been noting misspelled words from her writing projects (and even her texts, haha) and making a list. Each day we have a “spelling bee” for 10 or 15 minutes. They are not competing against each other, only themselves. I give Elizabeth words she has missed and I give the younger kids age-appropriate words that they need to learn. I will probably start using a curriculum list to come up with these words. For each word they get right, they get a penny. I got this idea from Pioneer Woman. I think she gives her kids candy, but pennies work better for us.

What’s not working is my haphazard method of record keeping and grading. I do it, but not in a way that is as organized or consistent as it needs to be. It’s kind of like brushing my teeth, not my favorite thing, it’s just something that has to be done. I don’t feel upset about this, it’s just the next thing to work on and master.

Questions/thoughts I have…

How can I add more grammar to our language arts? They will learn most of it just by writing, but there are some things (like parts of speech) that have to be learned more from the book. I’m thinking through the best way to do this.

Things I’m working on…

Notes and letters. Catching up after being sick. Phone calls. Very mundane things. I need to upload pictures to send grandparents. I’m notoriously bad about this.

I’m reading…

I was going to re-read Mere Christianity this week, but I can’t find it. Maybe it ended up in my husband’s office? I need to track it down. It’s time for a dose of CS Lewis.

I’m cooking…

Hamburger steak, steamed cauliflower, and…not sure.

I’m grateful for…

Feeling better.

I’m praying for…

My children.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

Am I the last mom in the universe to know about this website? Brain Pop. Great educational stuff!!!

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Non-food Treats

image: pinterest

Whether you have food limitations or you just don’t want to focus too much on food as a reward, it’s always great to have some treats that aren’t to eat.  Here is a list the kids and I came up with.

A walk or bike ride


Bubble bath

Read aloud

Board game

Soccer or other outdoor game

Coloring page

Dance party

New iTunes


Dollars in the movie jar (add money as a reward, and then go see a movie when there is enough)


Have a friend over

Thrift store or garage sale trip


Water games


Hide and Seek

Make Art

Back rub

Bird watching/nature walk



Painting nails

Any other ideas?


Play Like a Kid Again

I never used to play with my kids.  Like—never.   You’d never peg me as the “fun mom,” that is for sure.

I felt a little guilty, but I reasoned that I was too busy , “mature,” and old.

I was reading some healthful living blogs, completely unrelated to parenting, which mentioned learning (or re-learning) to play as part of a healthy life, specifically re-learning how to enjoy movement.  In answer to questions about exercise, one suggested, “Just MOVE.”

What?  You don’t have to torture yourself to exercise?

So I started playing with my kids.  Running barefoot in the grass.  Climbing up ladders.  Sliding.  Hanging upside down.

They were so happy and excited.

It felt, and feels, stiff and awkward.  I remember when I stopped playing like a kid.  My family started wearing only long dresses for religious reasons.  (Not knocking dresses, I still love them.)  Our close friends had built an amazing swing set.  I loved the feeling of flying into the air on that swing, until I felt my dress fly up too.  I loved to run, and I could run faster than the little boys, but I stopped when my dress flew up above my knees.  I stopped climbing ladders and hanging upside down for obvious reasons.  I always said I could do anything in a dress that I could do in jeans, but it wasn’t exactly true.

So I didn’t do any of those things any more.

It is so much fun to run, swing, climb, and slide.  It is so much fun to hear my little ones giggle and beg me to stay out a little longer.  It is so much fun to feel the grass under my bare feet and the sunshine on my skin.  I feel better, more limber and strong.  Small aches and pains have gone away.  It’s a happy thing to learn to move again.

So, based in my own experience, I advise you to go play like a kid again!  Highly recommended!

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This Week

I have resisted making this a “homeschool blog” because I want it to feel like a safe and inclusive place, and I know educational choices can be polarizing.  But the truth is that homeschooling does consume a huge amount of my life, more all the time.  So this week I’m joining The Homeschool Mother’s Journal.

In my life this week…

I feel like I’ve been barely staying afloat–or rather, dipping below the surface a few times!  It’s been a full week!

In our homeschool this week…

We are trying to find our rhythm.

Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Be a learner.  I learn from every mom I’m around and talk to.  I love to observe people, see what they are doing well, and adapt their methods to my own life.  It’s a lot better than winging it alone.

I am inspired by…

Right now, interest-led learning blogs.  Unschooling isn’t the right choice for our family for a number of reasons, but I see enthusiasm and a spark in unschoolers and relaxed homeschoolers that I don’t see in many other families.  And when I read homeschool blogs by hyper-organized moms with color coded binders, I want to cry.  When I read about relaxed schoolers, I think, “I can do this.  And it could even be fun.”

Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

The kids had swimming lessons last week.  The facility where they are taking lessons had a scheduling difficulty for after-school hours, so the swim coach offered to do daytime lessons just for us.  I’m so happy since this instructor pushes them harder and they are learning more than they would with a high school-age instructor.  We had yearbook pictures with our homeschool group, and a birthday party for everyone in the group who had birthdays recently.  We had friends over last Sunday afternoon and we ended up inviting them for supper too.  Fun!  Sweet friends had us to their home Monday for delicious Texas barbeq

My favorite thing this week was…

Seeing the kids learn to swim (and improve their skill, for those who already know how).  I love to see them learning things that kids their age in our culture need to learn.  There is a long story behind why I appreciate that, but it makes my heart smile.

What’s working/not working for us…

I’m mentally re-working the way we do language arts.  We are currently doing each subject separately (spelling, English, etc.) and I need a way to integrate them.  It’s taking too much time and no one is enjoying it.  We have tried some creative writing projects and I’m working on how to incorporate that while still teaching the kids what they need to know.  But seriously?  I think they have learned more from a few fun writing projects than from weeks of book work.

Questions/thoughts I have…

Will this be the year we hit our stride?

Things I’m working on…

Still plugging away at the kitchen, even though I’m not blogging about it.  All the cabinets need to be cleaned out and organized.

I’m reading…

Sadly, nothing except my Bible.  I should pick up a book.

I’m cooking…

Grilled chicken and veggies, chicken soup, and white beans.

I’m grateful for…

Beautiful, amazing fall weather.

I’m praying for…

An acquaintance who lost her son in an accident this week.

A photo, video, link, or quote to share…

How about a few?

A few words for overwhelmed mamas of little ones…

Encouragement on out-of-the-box kids

More from Sally, Discipleship is a choice that will cost you everything…about discipling our kids…

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I’m afraid I’m failing miserably at my attempt at 31 days, so I’m going to delete my button from the link-up.  I’m glad I did it but my posts have been sub par.  What I’ve learned through this is that I don’t have time to blog daily no matter how much I want to, and I’d rather have quality poss less often than obligatory posts every day.  Thanks for reading!


31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 10: Making Nontoxic Cleaners


Making non-toxic cleaning products has been on my list of things to do for a very long time.  I finally made it to a health food store to buy some essential oils–lemon and peppermint to start with.  I used the lemon to make an all-purpose cleaner which I’m using as I scrub the counters (water, a squirt of unscented soap and 20 drops of essential oil), and I added the peppermint to my mop water.  I love the smell of peppermint, so when the house smelled like a candy cane after I mopped, that was totally fine with me.

Here is a great post about making your own cleaning supplies.  It is so very wonderful to be able to clean without the chemical headache I get after using commercial cleaners!

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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 8: Love Jesus. Love People.

Getting the kitchen in order for practical purposes is all well and good, but it lacks heart without the why.

My goal is to live my life by two principles: Love Jesus.  Love people.

So how does this work out in the kitchen?

Because I love Jesus, I obey him.  And while I believe that there are many valid configurations of God’s role for women, as I listen to God, I know that right now mine is to be a stay at home mom to 5 small children.  This is the sphere where I am able to glorify him in the mundane and humdrum.  Washing the dishes doesn’t feel very spiritual sometimes, but only if my mind creates a false separation between the sacred and the secular, instead of remembering that God is Creator and as such is Sovereign over all of life.  Not only that, but he has given all good gifts for us to enjoy on our earthly sojourn—beauty, flavors, memories, relationships.  My pleasure in his good gifts brings him pleasure in return.  I can glorify him and love him and worship him through the womanly gifts he has given me to make a house a home.  The hours I spend in cooking and washing up don’t have to be restricted by my own thoughts.  My kitchen can become a sanctuary of prayer and service.

And loving people? Obviously I love my husband through food.  And at this time in my life, I get to pour into my little ones.  This is not just discipling their souls, but also filling their hungry bellies with nourishing foods that will help them grow into the healthiest people they can be.  It’s nurturing their hearts with beauty and sweet memories so that they grow emotionally whole.  It’s showing love by preparing their favorite foods, some of God’s wonderful gifts.

In addition, through the kitchen I get to show hospitality to those God puts in my life—friends, neighbors, and sometimes strangers.  Even the simplest meal prepared in their honor says, “You are important to us.  Eat with us and tell us your story.”  Doesn’t service and listening open hearts?

God is not separated from daily life. If we ask him to be, he’s there (as Brother Lawrence said in his Christian classic The Practice of the Presence of God) among the pots and pans, not only our Savior but our ever-present Friend.   All of life, we remember, flames with God…

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31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 4: Counters…And inspiration via Nigella Lawson

I recently discovered Nigella Lawson and think she is fascinatingly entertaining, even if the recipe is something I coudn’t or wouldn’t make!  Kitchen inspiration for sure!  My 10 year old likes her because she is pretty and my 6 and 8 year olds insist that she is a math genius because she used metric measure!


I noticed something funny yesterday after I had been cleaning and beautifying the window.  My 10year old tied on her cute ruffled apron and started cleaning the kitchen.  In the middle of the afternoon.  Without prompting.  This does not happen!  Do you think my efforts to make the kitchen a more special place are working already?  Getting my kids to work was not really one of my goals, but if it has that effect, I’ll take it!

Today I’m going to be working on my yucky old tile countertops.  I’m not a fan.  The grout is narrow so a normal wiping doesn’t really get them clean.  I cleaned them awhile back, but they get bad again quickly.  I’ll also scrub and bleach the tiles.  I don’t really want to use a toxic Clorox-type bleach, so I’m going to give lemon juice and baking soda a shot.  I’m looking forward to having nice clean counters.  One day perhaps I’ll have a smooth surface, but until then I will do the best I can with what I have!

Of course cleaning them necessitates decluttering too.  I’m sure I’m not alone in the fact that kitchen counters tend to catch clutter.  There’s little that pleases me more than to see tidy, uncluttered countertops, and I’ll admit that between constant cooking/washing up and regular daily clutter it rarely happens.  Maybe today?

What do you use to clean your countertops?  Any tips for keeping tile sparkly clean?

And what do you do to make the kitchen a place where your children like to work?


31 Days to a Kitchen You Love Day 3, Plus Chicken Spinach Salad Recipe With Honey Lime Dressing

{image source: google}

Before I get to my 31 Days post, here’s another kitchen tidbit.  I made the yummiest salad for lunch and it was so good I thought I’d pass on the recipe!

Chicken Spinach Salad w/ Honey Lime Dressing


Cubed cooked chicken

Chopped avocado

Pumpkin seeds (or whatever nuts/seeds you like)

Throw it all in a bowl and top with this dressing:

Juice of 1 lime

1 T. olive oil

1 t. honey

Whisk together and toss salad with dressing, salt and pepper if desired.  So delicious, and great for these autumn days that are still warm!   (Although today actually feels like fall and I’m so thrilled!)

Later this week I hope to plant a winter garden–lettuce, turnip greens, spinach, and onions.  Salad greens are so easy to grow.  Isn’t the idea above a cute one?  I never would have thought of planting a container garden in an old wagon!

On to more about the kitchen window:

So I’m enjoying my lovely white valance.  Today my goal is to clean up the rest of the window.  The shades are dusty and the sill seems to catch clutter.  I also need to wash the window.  A secret:  I never wash windows.  **Blushing with shame**  I am just so excited if I can get the floor mopped.  But I don’t want smudges and smears blocking all that natural light, do I?

I’m using vinegar and water, just as I do for my mirrors.  The vinegar smell is a little offensive (although it fades quickly) so I made orange peel  vinegar according to Rhonda’s instructions.  Would you believe I can’t find the post now?  Do click over and visit her lovely simple living blog!

The gist of it is that you put orange peels in a glass jar, cover with white vinegar, put the lid on and let it sit for a few weeks.  Much better!

So tell me, am I the only window-washing slacker?


For the rest of these 31 Days posts, go here.