Teish Knits

Teish Knits -

60

My mom would have turned 60 today. It’s a little strange thinking about that because that last time that I saw her, she had just turned 54. So I find myself wondering about random little things…

IMG_2212[1]Would her hair be more gray than black now?

How many more laugh lines would she have accumulated?

Would she still perch her glasses on top of her head whenever she was reading or doing handwork?

Would she have a smart phone? (I seriously can’t imagine my mom liking smart phones!)

What would she think of e-books?

Would she still be sneaking sips of her coffee to my kids? (Pretty sure that’s a yes.)

I still miss her very much. Yet, I’m reminded that if I miss her this much, it’s because there are so many wonderful memories.

I’m reminded of a quote from Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Thoughts for Tuesday, February 24th

Outside my windows… the snow has reached the window in the office. At least it’s good insulation!

Inside my house… my IT staff and Mr. Q are building a stand to put our mailbox on. Why would they be doing it in the middle of the winter you ask? Because three times last week the snowplow creamed out mailbox and the last time it cleaned it off the post and crunched it up nicely. The idea is that a moveable stand will allow us to move it out of the way. We have the worst luck with mailboxes.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful that I have some great memories…

Prayers of the heart… I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. Those always make me nervous for some silly reason. I always pray a lot over doctor’s appointments!

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Munchkin was quite excited to receive a magazine in the mail today! She’s reading it right now.

From my playlist… Time That is Left by Mark Schultz.

From my reading list… How to Catch a Prince. It’s the third book in the Royal Weddings series. Sounds like fluff, I know, but the books in the series all have a spiritual depth to them that I appreciate. This most recent book is my favorite though!

From my needlework basket… is it any surprise that I’m knitting mittens and wool socks?

In the learning room… I’m trying to come up with a fun book or project to break up the monotony of winter. Anyone have a great suggestion for me?

Random ramblings… Thinking about Mom this week. Her birthday was February 26th. I’ll always be thankful for that last birthday dinner and evening spent playing cards and laughing.

Profound ponderings… “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway

Thoughts for Tuesday, February 17th

Outside my windows… it’s very cold, and there’s a pretty frost pattern on the window by my desk this morning.

Inside my house… both coal and propane stoves are lit today. The wind has really been something else!

Counting 1000 gifts… co-workers who pray for each other.

Prayers of the heart… for friends who are traveling today.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… breakfast while wearing fedoras and marveling over how Mom can type without even looking at the keyboard.

From my playlist… Light it Up by for King and Country. This song spoke to me the first time that I ever heard it… it still does.

From my reading list… the most recent issue of Home Educating Family Magazine came! That always tops the reading list.

From my needlework basket… mittens for now, though I’m anxious to get back to the socks I was working on.

In the learning room… vacation this week, but I’ll still manage to sneak in a bit of learning. Someone recommended How the States Got Their Shapes on Netflix, so I think we’ll check it out this week.

Random ramblings… Winter seems to always bring chapped and irritated skin. I’ve been trying calendula oil on that this year, and it’s been working exceptionally well. You can buy it at the health food store or make your own by infusing the carrier oil of your choice with dried calendula. Just let it soak in a jar of oil for a week or two before straining the calendula out of the oil.

Profound ponderings… “Behind every successful woman, is a substantial amount of tea.” – Unknown

Caught on film… don’t forget to enter the Dear magazine giveaway this week!

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Dear Magazine Giveaway

Note: Post contains affiliate links.dear.pr_.800x400I love magazines. Print magazine specifically. Sure, I read a lot of ebooks and even some digital magazines, but there’s nothing like finding a beautiful magazine in your mailbox! It’s a pleasure to curl up with a cup of tea and a fresh magazine.

IMG_2204My daughter loves reading magazines just as much as I do, and in a few short years she’ll be part of the target demographic for teen magazines. That’s why I’m so excited about the new Dear magazine! Dear is the kind of magazine that I wish had been around when I was a teen. It proves that a magazine for teen girls can have both substance and style.

From a feature on Amy Charmichael, to an article about sisters, to one titled Your Most Productive Self, there is plenty of thought-provoking substance in the pages of Dear. In a world of fluff-filled media, it’s nice to see a teen magazine that encourages girls to think and grow. Even moms will enjoy reading articles like this!

I did mention that Dear includes style as well, and all you have to do is take a look at the photography to see it! Both the design layout and the photography make this magazine a pleasure to flip through. Typically, I skip the fashion section of any magazine, but Dear is a bit different. Rather than being little more than an ad for overpriced clothing, this section gives some great tips that don’t require spending a fortune. I would have been thrilled with this kind of advice when I was a teenager. (And I still might steal a few tips today!)

Of course, any magazine that includes DIY projects and recipes like Dear will win points in my book!

Finding a great magazine for your teen daughter is not an easy task. Dear is ideal for parents looking for a magazine with depth that will still appeal to their girls. (And moms will want to be sure to take a peek at it as well!)

Now, how would you like to win a one year subscription to Dear?

Book Review: Paper Hearts

Anyone looking for a great Valentine’s Day read? Then Paper Hearts by Courtney Walsh should be on your reading list! Here’s a peek at the synopsis from the back cover:

“Abigail Pressman would never have guessed that love notes penned on paper hearts by an anonymous couple could restore her belief in love. As a business owner in a quaint town at the base of the Rockies, she’s poured everything into dreams of expansion . . . and resisting the matchmaking efforts of the Valentine Volunteers, who gather in her store to continue Loves Park’s tradition of stamping mail with the city’s romantic postmark.

When Abigail is unwillingly drafted into the Volunteers, she encounters the paper hearts, a distraction that couldn’t come at a worse time. A hard-to-read doctor has become Abigail’s new landlord, and he’s threatening to end her lease to expand his practice.

As she fights a growing attraction to this handsome man crushing her dreams, Abigail is inspired to string the hearts in her store, sparking a citywide infatuation with the artsy trend. But when a new batch of hearts reaches the Volunteers, it appears something tragic has happened to the couple. Will uncovering their story confirm Abigail’s doubts about love, or could it rescue her dreams . . . and her heart?”

I just fell in love with this book! The fact that Abigail owns a bookstore and is a practical girl definitely might have had something to do with it. The Valentine Volunteers are supporting characters, but I enjoyed reading about them so much! I wish that there had been a bit more about them in the book, and I hope they will be featured in another book soon. I like it when authors write characters with realistic struggles and problems. Courtney Walsh did a great job with that in Paper Hearts.

The setting was fantastic. I can just picture Abigail’s store, The Book Nook, and I so want to stop in for a book (or three) and a cup of coffee!

Among the themes explored were learning to forgive yourself and accepting that your plans are not necessarily the plans that God has for you! One of the things that I appreciated the most about the story was that it touched upon the topic of living with a loved one who suffers from depression. That’s a pretty sensitive and hard subject to deal with, but it was handled so well in this book. It’s rare to find a book willing to delve into depression and suicide. In fact, I would have liked to see this discussed a bit more in the book because the author did such a good job of addressing it.

This is a lovely book for fans of contemporary fiction. It would also make a lovely Valentine’s Day gift for the book lover on your list! I’d tend to suggest that it’s best for older teens and adults simply due to the fact that it does address weighty topics like depression and suicide.

Before you go, take a peek at the book trailer for Paper Hearts. It will make you smile, and might even inspire you to start your own paper heart tradition!

Note: A free copy of this book was provided for me by the publisher in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Thoughts for Tuesday, February 10th

Outside my windows… there is a lot of snow. Really, a lot of snow.

Inside my house… I’ve been enjoying the electric kettle that I got for Christmas. Considering how much tea I drink this time of year, it’s getting a lot of use.

Counting 1000 gifts… the gift of a written language. I can’t imagine a life that did not include reading and writing. I’m so very thankful that mine includes both.

Prayers of the heart… “Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” Psalm 62:5

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… a lunch/LEGO break!

From my playlist… Cassandra from Thomas Bergersen’s new album Sun. If you are looking for some great instrumental music, definitely look him up!

From my reading list… working my way through The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy Barnett. Still not completely sure what I think of it…

From my needlework basket… mittens and cowls are both on the needles at the moment. I did finish Munchkin’s birthday sweater, and I can’t wait for her to see it later this week!

In the learning room… Decimals, Barbarians, and astronomy! We read about Charlemagne yesterday, and I have to say that I’ve been learning a lot about this period of history along with the kids.

Random ramblings… my favorite kind of characters to read (and write!) about are people who are completely flawed. People who live through the hard, and even if their ending isn’t storybook-perfect, something good comes out of all of the bad. Because that’s the kind of thing that God does in our lives, and sometimes I need the reminder.

Profound ponderings… “The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.” – T.S. Eliot

Caught on film… the circuit board from the old toaster that the boys and I disassembled. (Taking stuff apart can be fabulously stress-relieving!)

Burnout Tips from the Trenches

February has jokingly been called Homeschool Mom Burnout Month. After a few years of homeschooling, I could see why! Is every February destined to be the month that pushes your sanity to the limit? This year, maybe it’s possible for us to avoid the worst of the burnout with a few of these tips from some of my fellow home educators.

The power of a good night’s sleep.

Make sure everyone is getting enough rest, and that includes Mom and Dad! If you’re constantly tired out and feeling exhausted, then everything is harder to handle. Adequate sleep reduces stress and makes it so much easier to focus. (Not to mention helping your body fight off all of the germs that go around during winter months.)

Schedule regular breaks.

Certainly, homeschoolers are used to making the most of any learning opportunity that comes out way. While that’s one of the great advantages of homeschooling, taking a break from regular lessons is important too. Our minds need time to rest just as much as our bodies do!

Stay connected.

Bears may hibernate during the winter, but homeschooling parents should not. Never getting out and taking a break can stretch frayed nerves to the breaking point. Go meet friends for coffee. Join a book club or Bible study. Invite a friend over for muffins some morning. Time spent with friends gives you a break and a chance to recharge your batteries.

It’s not all academic.

Much as it seems like it at times, you’re not only a homeschooler. There will always be more planning to do and one more assignment to grade. Sometimes, you just need to step back and do something that is not related to school. Take an hour to work on your favorite hobby. Read a book about something other than homeschooling. Don’t ignore your own interests and projects!

Switching it up.

Now is when you want to grab a unit study, add in a few educational videos, pick up a new read-aloud, or anything else that will break up the routine a bit. Maybe there’s a great field trip opportunity that you’ve been wanting to try, and this is the perfect time to do that! I’ll bet the kids got a science experiment kit or educational game for Christmas. Things like that are great to pull out this time of year.

Eat well and exercise.

I know, this isn’t the most fun thing to do. Personally, I have a tendency to skip meals, eat too much sugar, and let exercising land at the bottom of the to-do list. On the other hand, when I do pay attention to my own eating habits and take time out to get some exercise, I feel so much better! It’s not new advice, but it turns out that it really is good advice!

When all else fails, take some time off.

Despite our efforts, sometimes burnout overwhelms us anyway. When that happens, the best advice is to just take some time off. There will be time to “catch up” later if necessary. It’s better to take a few days or weeks off and come back refreshed than to keep pushing and end up even more worn out. Everyone needs time off now and again, so don’t feel guilty when it’s your turn!

The one piece of advice that I have found to help the most of all is in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Sick Day Strategies

Three and a half weeks into January and someone in our house has been sick every day of it. Currently, all six of us coughing due to a particularly tenacious cold virus… Where’s my substitute teacher when I need her?

Since substitute teachers don’t come standard in our “New Homeschooler” orientation kit, we need a few coping strategies to pull out when winter germs invade!

  • Back to Basics

Scale it back to the three R’s for a few days. There’s something about getting through math and language arts that gives you a sense of accomplishment, even if it’s the only thing you did that day. If you regular curriculum is too intensive for a sick day, then pull out some math review worksheets and do some copywork. Grab a picture book and find all of the nouns, verbs, etc. for some easy grammar practice. Review is an important part of the learning process, and it’s easier on a child who’s not feeling great to review what they have learned, rather than trying to pick up something new.

  • Take Advantage of Technology

Netflix is full of some great documentaries. Find one that goes along with whatever history or science you’ve been studying and let the kids curl up with some tea to “watch TV”. Listening to audiobooks lets you fit in literature when everyone loses their voice. (Check out LibriVox for a ton of free classic audiobooks.) Don’t forget those educational apps you have downloaded on your mobile device. Practicing geography or math facts is fun and easy when you get to use Mom’s iPod! Technology can be your friend when everyone has the sniffles.

  • Shortcut Meals

Juggling everything is challenging enough on a normal day. When you throw sick kids (or moms) into the mix it’s that much crazier. Frozen pizzas, toaster waffles, and canned soup are pantry must-haves for those days! Don’t worry if it’s not made from scratch. Don’t worry if it’s not the healthiest option. You’re in survival mode. Trust me, just getting everyone fed is good enough at this point!

  • Nap Breaks

If someone is clearly tired out, then tuck them in with a warm blanket and let them nap. Sleep is sometimes the best medicine. If you’re the one needing the nap, don’t feel guilty if you curl up on the couch and turn on a movie for the kids to watch while you snooze!

  • Everyone Needs a Sick Day Now and Then

When the kids have been up all night throwing up, just take a sick day! If they were going to “regular school”, then they’d be staying home anyway. You can always catch up later.

Colds and stomach bugs are an unavoidable part of raising kids, whether or not you homeschool. Having a game plan for dealing with those days won’t make a substitute teacher magically appear, but it will help you get through the day!

What are your best tips for dealing with homeschool “sick days”?

Book Review: The Martian

9780553418026I’ve always been fascinated by space exploration. Like many kids, I dreamed of being an astronaut when I grew up. It’s no surprise that the cover of Andy Weir’s novel, The Martian, caught my eye!

Mark Watney was part of a crew who landed on Mars. Only a few days later, disaster struck and the crew had to evacuate. None of them knew that Mark was still alive. Stranded alone on an alien planet with a broken communications system, Mark has to figure out what to do next…

Most of the book is in the format of Mark’s log entries. That might sound a bit boring, but Mark’s sense of humor makes it anything but. (I literally laughed aloud several times while reading the book!) Thoughout the story, things go from bad, to worse, to are-you-kidding-me. I would normally dislike this sort of plotline, but the humor and the fact that the science is quite plausible made it an enjoyable read.

It’s quite obvious that Mr. Weir has a passion for the topic of space exploration, and has done his research. Even though the book is rich with science and engineering, it’s never dry. In fact, it’s one of the things about The Martian that so captivated my interest. It seemed more like science-possible than science fiction!

The only thing that I truly disliked about the book was the amount of bad language. I get that profanity is commonplace in our culture, but I truly believe that it’s unnecessary when you have a good story like The Martian. Unfortunately, due to the amount of language in the book, I can’t really recommend it. I’d strongly caution parents about letting their teens read the book for the same reason.

I’d love to see Andy Weir write more books along these lines, but without so much profanity.

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Winter Boredom Busters

Winter has set in and everyone is going a little stir-crazy. Up here in New England, we’re usually buried under a ton of snow. But even if your yard is bare, winter still brings colder temperatures that keep everyone inside more than we’d like! What do you do when you’re going a little crazy yourself, and the kids have been cooped up so long that they have positively lost it? You need a way to break up the monotony… fast!

Living Room Camp-Out

It may be freezing outside, but the kids can still go camping! Grab the sleeping bags and flashlights and get ready to set up camp. If you’ve got a small tent that will fit in your living room, so much the better! If not, you can always grab a couple of chairs and a bedsheet and use those blanket fort building skills from your childhood. Naturally, if you are camping, then you have to have s’mores. The microwave or toaster oven works well for making s’mores without the campfire.

Movie Night

It may be an unoriginal idea, but it seems like we always get back into the movie night habit in the winter. Try introducing your kids to some of the old classics that you watched growing up. It was great fun introducing my kids to the original Herbie movies! Whatever you decide to watch, do something fun that’s out of the ordinary. Make popcorn and toss in a handful of M&Ms for a great movie treat. Maybe hand out glowstick bracelets. My kids love piling onto Mom and Dad’s bed and watching a movie on the tiny TV in our room!

Listen to Something New

There are so many great audiobooks and radio dramas to choose from! Adventures in Oddessy is a favorite with my kids, and there are some wonderful audio recordings of Chronicles of Narnia that everyone can enjoy. Of course, you can purchase digital downloads and CDs, or borrow them from the local library. If you are interested in listening to classics, then do be sure to check out librivox.org. They have classic books read by volunteers that are free to listen to and download. (Bonus: Listening to something while doing chores is actually fun!)

Mix-it-Up Meals

Skip the casserole for dinner and make pancakes or omelets instead. Or, really surprise the kids and have make-your-own-sundaes for lunch! (Just once won’t ruin anyone’s diet, honest.) Pull out your cookbooks or browse a few cooking websites for a new recipe to try. If your kids are old enough to do some cooking on their own, let each of them take a turn trying out a new recipe for dinner.

Game Night

Pull out the board games, card games, or even wii bowling! Kids love playing games, and it’s an activity that can be tailored to fit any age group. Did the kids get games for Christmas that are still wrapped in plastic? Time to break them out and enjoy them. And, if a winter storm happens to knock out your power for a few hours, it’s the perfect excuse to play a game that doesn’t require batteries.

Research Your Family

Family genealogy can be a fascinating project. It could be as simple as jotting down some of the stories from your own childhood, or the kids “interviewing” their grandparents about what life was like “in the old days”. If you really want to dig into genealogy, there are some great websites and resources that will help. You may discover some famous, or infamous, relatives that you never knew about! Do be sure to record or write down the stories and other things you learn though. Your children and grandchildren will treasure it!

As a Last Resort…

Dive into your closet (or other hiding place) and unearth that project. You know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s the box that you really hope the kids forget about. You just know that once it’s opened, there’s no going back. There is going to be glitter, glue, playdoh, or some other terrible substance everywhere… Here’s the secret: Tell the kids that they can do the project, but they have to clean everything up when they are done. Yeah, you’ll still be finding glitter in every corner for a few months, but desperate times call for desperate measures.

It may not seem like it now, but spring really is just around the corner. For now, take advantage of being stuck inside and make some great memories with your kids!