Canada called, and it wants its weather back!

We woke up today in the Bluegrass to what felt like winter, at least for us.  What happened?  Even though the weatherpeople have been calling for a cold front to drop into Kentucky, it was still a harsh reality to step outside this morning and feel that cold front like a slap to the face.  To go from 86 degrees a day or two ago to whatever nonsense it was this morning is not my idea of fun!  If you’re a parent, this time of year is always such a drag, with “the changing of the seasons” in clothes for your young-ins.  Our family closet has mitigated some of the torture, to be sure (we don’t have to drag buckets and boxes upstairs from storage and somehow find places in dresser drawers for both seasons while the Kentucky weather makes up its mind as to what season it’s in), but even with the clothes all out and hanging,  the job of seeing what clothes still fit and what clothes need to be given away or passed down is a big one.   As with many things, I’ve been putting it off.   We have had cool mornings and evenings, but the days themselves have remained warm and even hot up until now.  But taking kids out into public with their shorts if it’s only going to creep into the 50s probably won’t win me any Mother of the Year awards.  (Based on past performances, though, I may already be banned from the running.)

OK, so the loathsome job o’ the week is definitely to go through the clothes, with a particular focus on pants.  Somehow the magic of growing boys and their legs seems to happen throughout the summer months, usually when it’s under cover (ironically) of shorts.  A young person can grow quite a bit before shorts are too short, I have observed.  Then, without warning, they go to put on jeans that fit just fine only three short months ago and they look like capris!  Oh dear.  I dread the job of having them put on every pair of pants that we have downstairs and showing me while I try to wisely decide if they fit into one of three categories: a) they fit and they can go back down in the closet; b) they’re a tad big, but may need to be put to use before the growing season is through; or c) they are too small, too worn, or just ready to be on their way out.  This job times six makes me tired before we even begin!  And yet somehow, we make it through, year after year.  I believe that this year will be no exception, and I thank God that we have clothes to go through and either bless someone else with or have to keep ourselves warm.  We are fortunate indeed.

We could have used some of those warm clothes earlier today, in fact, when we braved the elements to participate in yet another cross country meet.  To be sure, we are newcomers.  The boys are not experienced runners, but they are putting in the work outside of the meet days to make progress.  AND THEY ARE MOVING, almost daily.  Our goal for encouraging them to run with our CC team this year was twofold: everyone in our home could use more regular exercise (and what better way than to join in with friends with which to run, complain about running, and even, if lucky, barf together after running?); and what if one or three of the boys find that they really, really like to run cross country? Surely they wouldn’t have that revelation sitting in a chair at home.  So far, it’s been hard work.  It’s not exactly easy to just pick up and train to run for 3 and 4K courses, but they’ve all done a fantastic job.  They aren’t the fastest, but who knows if the running bug will catch them? A tutor (and seasoned marathon runner) gave each kid on the team a mileage chart to keep track of their miles when the season began, and the boys have run over 30 miles in less than a month.  They feel better about running around two miles about five days a week.  None of them gushes about how exhilarating the act of running in the neighborhood is just yet, but they are giving it the ole’ college try and honoring their commitment for the season.  That alone is worth commendation.  And many times it’s the toughest things that garner the biggest rewards, so we’ll see how they feel at the end of the season, and maybe, with some encouragement, they’ll continue running even through the winter.

And speaking of winter, that’s what it felt like today at the meet.  Clearly we were newbies and didn’t come prepared with our 732 layers of clothes to keep us warm (especially for those who weren’t running, but even for the runners).  They should have been dressed more warmly.  I could hear my mother and grandmothers chiding me in my ear the entire time with “THOSE BOYS ARE GOING TO CATCH COLD!  THEIR POOR EARS! OH DEAR, DEBBIE, WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!?!?”  Truth is, I absentmindedly advised them to grab some warm clothes, but they didn’t exactly heed my half-hearted warning.   As a result, we all suffered for most of the time, except for when the boys were running.  They were plenty warm during that stretch of time!

I guess it’s time to stop procrastinating and get those clothes switched out.  If you see my kids in shorts for the next few days, please know that we are working on it.  Or they decided that they still like their shorts and want to wear them a wee bit longer.  Either way, I’m pretty sure whatever they have on is clean.   Or at least I sure hope so….

 

The Time Has Now Come

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.” (Eph. 6:10)

It has been exactly 11 years since Todd and I traveled to Orlando, Florida, to attend our Bradley Method of Natural Childbirth training. Back in 2003, four children made up our family, and Ben was a mere four months old when we left them in the brave yet capable hands of my parents in our absence. For reference, while we were gone, our country invaded Iraq. Bradley sessions ran from early in the morning to late at night, causing me to miss my beloved March Madness, and in an era before texting and cell phones (at least for us), Todd would come down to the sessions and give me updates about the upsets and bracket busters of the year. In other words, it feels like it was a long, long time ago.

Even before attending the training, I was so excited to embark on a new adventure of teaching this childbirth preparation method that had revolutionized our own thinking about pregnancy, labor, and birth. Bradley made sense to us, and absolutely brought Todd and I together as a couple during our pregnancies and births. I couldn’t help but want to share that knowledge and enthusiasm about birth with other pregnant couples, and this opportunity was perfect for us. Throughout the four day training, I grew even more fired up about teaching, and exited our time provisionally certified as an instructor and ready to get started.

Bradley was the perfect “job” for me at the time: I had the chance to teach something I was strongly passionate about, yet it allowed me to stay home and focus on our young family. We met so many people from various walks of life who ended up blessing me many times in more ways than I felt I did them. On the practical side, every week we were forced to clean our house–at least the part my students walked through–and all the kids knew that “class day” meant a little extra work. A girl we barely knew beforehand became not only our weekly babysitter, but also a lifelong friend in the process. My kids quickly came to love Lynsay and the time they got to spend with her at least once a week.

When I began teaching in April of 2003, with a class of three couples, I could not have imagined how successful our venture would be. With the help of a local maternity fair, my second class was a full seven couples, and from then on I had classes running almost continuously. While tremendously nervous at first to run my own class (“how am I going to fill TWO HOURS with material?!”), the flow of the course and the interest of the students soon took away any nerves I may have had. I loved teaching Bradley. Throughout the course of my tenure as an instructor, I also became a certified doula and had the absolute honor of attending just over 30 births. We welcomed two of our own children during that time too, and had the opportunity to share our pregnancies with other couples due around the same time. After teaching for a short while, I was grateful to have word of mouth as the most effective means of marketing my classes. What better way to attract students than from the recommendation of satisfied past couples? I have always been humbled to receive each and every reference. I could not have imagined ever wanting to quit teaching. Even with the frustrations I may have had with my parent organization, the benefits always seemed to outweigh the risks and it was worth it.

Slowly, however, my heart started to move away from the weekly sessions. Without ever having a break (and sometimes taking on two classes simultaneously), I think a bit of burn out may have begun to creep into my classes. While I still enjoyed actually teaching each class and loved being with the couples, my prep time became a tad tedious and my heart wasn’t in it as much. With an active birthing community in our area, it was obvious that I couldn’t invest the time necessary to keep up the PR side of birth advocacy so my classes were as cutting edge as they could be. In addition, our family was just getting older and moving into directions outside the house: sports, church, and other activities such as teaching math beyond simple addition required more of me. At the same time, over the next few years our family also became increasingly more involved in our new homeschool group, Classical Conversations. CC was, and continues to be, the perfect fit for our family, and it has proven to be exactly what Todd and I desired for our homeschool–a truly Christian classical education. Still, I was not ready to give up my classes.

When the current director of our CC group approached me about considering the position of director a few years ago, I remember her email clearly. It was written in sort of a half-joking, half-serious tone, as if to test the waters. I can only imagine: had a I scoffed at it, that door would have been closed. I surprised myself when my reaction was not an immediate and resounding “HECK NO!” That still seems insane to me–both that she would think me able and that I would even entertain the idea. But I think that’s how God works on our hearts, and when He calls someone to a job or a mission or a position, He can work miracles in preparing both the heart and mind for something seemingly crazy…even if it takes time to come to fruition.

Over the next couple of years, the director and I began talking more seriously about a transition and whether or not I was serious about pursuing it. At every opportunity, she gave me the gracious chance to back out if either Todd or I felt that it was NOT the direction we felt led to go. During that time, I prayed. A lot. Was I crazy? Was I just flattered that she chose *me* to lead and not really looking soberly at what exactly I would be getting myself into? Were we both insane to think I could handle everything that the job would entail? The more I thought and prayed about it, the more I felt that it was the right direction and the right position to pursue. In our many conversations, I came to see that I was not chosen by the director to be flattered, but through her prayerful consideration and leading. And, as I have seen more and more the older I get, God equips those He calls.

I do not, even for a moment, think that I could perform this job by my own strength, wisdom, or abilities. As I prepare to step into the role of director of our established and large group, I would be lying if I said that I’m confident that I can do it all. There are so many areas that I have already listed as prayer concerns, but even so, I’m sure of this: “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” (Col. 1:17) While I will be responsible for the group and its workings, I know that we are in His hands. As highly as I regard the outgoing director (and, in the course of learning more about everything she has done for our group, that regard and respect has skyrocketed), I realize that her successes did not come from her own abilities either. Through her humble and able leadership, each of us in CC has been blessed beyond measure and pointed to the One who gives all strength and ability. I am so thankful that she is not leaving us, but simply transitioning to another role in our group. She will most likely hear from me a great deal over the next year. In fact, I would venture to say she might be a little frightened if she didn’t hear from me on a regular basis looking for counsel!

This past Wednesday night, I signed the contract for next year, making my position as the new director of our campus official. As I scrolled through the contract, initialing as I proceeded, the reality of the new role began to truly sink in (though I think it will continue to do so as I start walking out my duties!). While many may consider me crazy to even consider this job, I am so happy to be excited to embark on this next adventure. That anticipation can only come from God! Will there be many sacrifices required? Absolutely. I’d like to think that when it comes to work and doing hard things, however, I am not one to shrink away (well, not usually….). Do many, many other people do much more than I am undertaking? You betcha. Will it be a family effort? Yes, yes, and yes. Thankfully, I have Todd’s support, or I know it would be foolish to undertake this venture. I do not think my family yet appreciates how much they will be called upon to help me. Hopefully, along the way, they will learn the invaluable lesson that “hard work done well feels good.”

Perhaps most important, I see my new role through the eyes of a servant. I hope that I can humbly serve our CC group in such a way that the purpose is protected and can continue to grow and flourish in everything we do. It is not for my own glory, but for His, and for the benefit of the entire group, “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” (Phil 2:4) One of the greatest blessings of our group is that everyone works together to make the machine run smoothly. I categorically appreciate that willingness to work and will no doubt call upon it continuously. Throughout my willingness to serve, I also ask for grace from my community as I navigate these uncharted waters and learn the ropes of directing. I am clinging to Romans 12 as I look ahead to the year ahead:

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, then serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is giving, then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12: 1-8)

In order to accept this more time-consuming role, I have had to learn to say no to other opportunities, and the biggest one is my Bradley certification and teaching. While I will miss it immeasurably–and hung on to the notion of continuing my classes longer than I should have–I can finally say that the time is right to walk away. Through the ten years I officially taught childbirth classes, it was my honor to teach over 196 couples. Many of them still keep in touch with me, and countless others I call close friends in this journey of life. I will forever treasure my time with Bradley, but now know that it is time to move on.

To new beginnings, to doors that have been opened as well as those that are now closed, and to what adventures, challenges, and successes stretch before us, I can only say that I’m grateful for the opportunity, I’m ready, and I will “do [my] best to present [my]self to God as one approved, [a] a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)

And I’m armed with coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Spinach + Cheese + Crescent rolls = An Appetizer to Write Home About

20131221-135357.jpg

Last night our two oldest kids had a formal dinner to attend as part of their high school curriculum affectionately referred to as protocol. Being reminded that manners are not for sissies, yet proper behavior is not necessarily intuitive, the students are instructed how to act graciously and properly at formal functions. In an era where respect for anyone or anything seems to be less and less important, I’m thankful yet again that we found Classical Conversations and can share these social graces with our kids. (For more information about our kickin’ homeschool group, click here.)

Actually, last night’s dinner was a practice session for the Spring Protocol, where the group will dine at a fancy restaurant and attend some sort of performance. One of the CC moms graciously opened her home to host the night, and along with other Challenge tutors, prepared, served, and cleaned up the meal. From what I heard, it was quite a delicious spread!

Truth be told, however, one of our children was less than thrilled with the prospect of dressing up and suffering through an evening of formalities. (Until he or she actually went, that is. The entire ride home, the two were a-flurry with happy details from the night.)

I volunteered to make the appetizers for the evening, both because I knew it would be a huge undertaking for the hostess to get her home set up AND prepare all the food necessary for such a large dinner party, and because I like to make food. It took me until two days before, however, to make a final decision as to what I was going to make. Thankfully, my email inbox was seemingly inundated each morning with new holiday recipes. On Wednesday, the perfect appetizer recipe came to my inbox, and I knew it was the one. With spinach, cheese, and a warm crescent roll encasement, what could go wrong? Put with my tried-and-true veggie tortilla pinwheels and my sister-in-law’s famous sausage balls, I had a plan. Finally.

I know better to prepare a recipe for the first time when I have to make it for a function, but I still did it anyway. Next time, I think I’ll make some changes, but on the whole, this recipe is a keeper.

Start with a short list of ingredients, none too complicated:

20131221-135406.jpg

The first step is to completely thaw the spinach and drain it well. Then mix the spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, onion-flavored cream cheese, and egg yolk until all are completely incorporated. I used a fork to make sure everything was mixed into the spinach. *Here’s where I would have made a change: I definitely would have added some minced garlic and salt and pepper to the mixture.

20131221-135319.jpg

Next comes the geometry problem, and admittedly, geometry was very close to my least favorite subject in any level of my education. The recipe says to cut each crescent roll triangle in half, but with the shapes of crescent rolls being what they are, they don’t easily lend themselves to being cut in…how you say…half. Nevertheless, I pressed on and cut them as close to half as I could figure out. Judge for yourselves….

20131221-135329.jpg

After placing a bit of the spinach mixture in the middle of each crescent roll “half,” just draw up the corners and seal the seams. Easy peasy. Especially while chatting with two children who happen to wander through the kitchen. And listening to Christmas music.

Once they’re all assembled, I brushed the tops with egg white and sprinkled a bit more Parmesan cheese.

20131221-135338.jpg

They baked for about the same time that a plain old boring crescent roll would, and smelled wonderful during and afterwards. A beautiful golden brown top on each also added to their appeal, so much so that Todd and I had to try one before I packed them up to go with the kids.

20131221-135357.jpg

All in all, I love this recipe and will happily add it to my list of go-to appetizers. In addition to the changes I mentioned above, I might also be tempted to stir in a bit more of the onion and chives cream cheese than the recipe originally called for. While it wasn’t exactly dry, I felt that it was missing *something* that would catapult it from good to great. I suppose I should just keep making it until I find the perfect combination.

It’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Right?

Cheesy Spinach Bundles

1 pkg. (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well-drained
1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/3 cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/4 cup Chive & Onion Cream Cheese Spread
1 egg, separated
1 can (8 oz.) refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
make it
HEAT oven to 375ºF.

MIX first 4 ingredients and egg yolk until blended.

SEPARATE crescent dough into 8 triangles. Cut each triangle diagonally in half. Spoon 1 Tbsp. spinach mixture onto center of each triangle. Bring corners of dough to center over filling, overlapping ends; pinch ends together to seal. Place on baking sheets. Beat egg white lightly; brush onto bundles.

BAKE 12 to 15 min. or until golden brown.

20131221-135347.jpg

(taken with love and respect from http://www.kraftfoods.com)

Looking Forward to Thanksgiving

It’s Friday, and my to do list did not even come close to getting done. I’m worn out, a little discouraged, and honestly, dismayed at how much still has to be completed over the weekend. How does this happen every week? It’s not that I lounge around the entire week, but I suppose I could put more hours and more effort into the days I do have. The tyranny of the urgent seems to be the motto of the month. Every day has its own fullness, and when that doesn’t get done, it gets pushed back to the next, and so on and so forth, until it’s once again the end of the week, and the list remains undone.

This week, our family has been working to get a family costume together for our annual Thanksgiving Feast, which marks the end of the first semester of CC. Every child is encouraged to dress up as someone or something that we’ve studied this year, which is always so much fun. So much fun, that is, on the day of the Feast. Leading up to the day of the Feast, however, is usually fraught with frantic preparation after we’ve waited for creative lightning strikes (which quite honestly should really start coming to us around weeks 5 or 6…not week 11 1/2!). Add to the usual schoolwork we have all week, the extra fun events that come at this time of year, etc., etc., and we’ve got ourselves a full week!

As I sit surveying the science project we’ll be doing on Monday morning, I’m thankful that at least one thing can be crossed off the list! I’ve got papers to print out, papers still to edit, other prep work to do, presentations to practice, and those silly costumes.

To be honest, although I love everything about our CC group, I’m really looking forward to a break. It won’t be long, since preparation for the second semester continues the Monday after Thanksgiving, but having a break from our community days for a few weeks will hopefully allow me to catch my breath and be refreshed to begin again in 2014.

Until Monday afternoon, however, I have got to keep on keeping on, take my vitamins, and somehow get it all done. Somehow, it always gets done…

Nothing special, but thankful just to *be*…

In my ever-expanding attempt to avoid the many things I have on my plate (editing, homeschooling, housecleaning, science and art-project-ing, etc. )  I spent several moments tonight perusing a few of the “really good bloggers” out there.  There are several “really good bloggers” out there, in case you were wondering.  Momastery is one, and Finding Joy is another. There are so many more. They can offer insight, encouragement, laughter, experience, and just a feeling that we aren’t alone in this journey called life. I enjoy their writing so much, and yet, sometimes I can’t help but feel a teeny bit jealous of their successes in the blogosphere. But then, as I ruminate further, I wonder if I would really be a worthy celebrity blogger. In short: probably not. I am not a good spokesperson for the homeschool movement (unless our motto can be “Drop into bed knowing you clawed through one more day!”) and I’m definitely not Martha Stewart (with my white stove and microwave, stainless steel refrigerator, and black dishwasher kitchen combo, complete with peeling paint on my cabinets, thanks to a certain redhead a few years ago during her artistic Peeling Period), and I’m certainly not in line for Mother of the Year after that “Give me peace and quiet or give me death!!” speech late last week.

But then…I think a little bit longer and a little bit harder.

I have a kitchen that works and my appliances are all running (thankful for that dishwasher most of all. I will NEVER tire of hearing the whir of that treasure washing our dishes clean!) and my fridge is full of food my family can enjoy…well, except for that sketchy lettuce that has been hiding in the back of the drawer… So who really cares if they match? Can I please give myself grace to accept working appliances trump matching ones all day long?

My husband works HARD so I can stay home with the kids and have the absolute privilege of schooling them. That is a huge gift he selflessly gives to his family. I get to rejoice in the discoveries (“I read it, Mommy!”), gnash my teeth at the challenges (“Algebra is killing me!”…oh wait, I said that…), and repeat “STAY IN YOUR SEAT AND FINISH YOUR WORK!” more times than I care to record. My desk is almost always a mess of papers, maps, resources, and flashcards. I’m I don’t think our school room will ever be actually clean and/or organized for longer than five minutes at a time. The art of my walls is a timeline. Most days, I’m OK with that.

Our family is healthy, which is a statement so many of the people I know right now cannot say. My heart breaks as I hear new revelations of illness and struggles, on a daily basis it seems lately. I look around my home and it is filled with beautiful, healthy, lovely children, and I cannot deny that I have been profoundly blessed.

Yesterday, I also read this convicting devotional that really struck a chord with me. Read it here Nobody needs to see what I do–or read what I do–in order for it to be any more or less important. What a needed reminder for me to slap me back to the reality that I needed.

I’m really trying to take that to heart today and every day. Do what I’ve been called to do, rely on the One who has called and equipped me to do it, and when necessary, just put my head down and get. to. work.

And most of all, try to enjoy every day!

Harnessing the power of the nearest star

See this happy sun? It’s from Chloe’s birthday card, hence the little 6s on the cheeks. It’s a happy sun…and very, very bright…

20131103-164732.jpg

Tomorrow, I’m hoping the skies are clear and the sun shines bright. While we all know that “the sun shines bright on my old Kentucky home,” but time and again those dark clouds from out of state roll through and cover up the sun’s rays… In any case, it’s particularly important that it’s sunny, and not just because sunlight positively affects my mood. Tomorrow, we’ll be making sun prints as our science project for CC. Without the sun, we’re sort of up a creek, if you know what I mean.

So…what are sun prints, you ask?

The answer comes from the paper itself, a sun-sensitive printing paper that allows the crafter to create different images with everyday objects and a few minutes of imaginative ideas. And sunlight.

20131103-164639.jpg

You can buy this paper cheaply online through many different vendors, but here’s the link to the original company:

http://www.natureprintpaper.com/

The first thing to know about this easy project is that time is of the essence. Once the paper is exposed to the sunlight, it begins to develop immediately. So before one starts, it’s a good idea for one to have the idea and design for the paper all set either in the imagination or next to the paper. This is not meant to agitate the anxiety gland of the homeschool mom’s endocrine system, but somehow it does. Multiply this sense of urgency times 16 children for each round of sun-printing, and we’ve got ourselves a project worth writing home about!

I’m optimistic, however, for both sunny skies and sunny spirits as we embark on this journey into letting the sun print our masterpieces!

The steps are quite simple. First, start with the supplies seen below..

20131103-164630.jpg

Flat objects work best to create clean lines, so I borrowed my mom’s Sizzix machine and cut out various die cut shapes for the kids to use, such as balloons, stars, butterflies, and snowflakes. I also used the paper left over from the cut outs, as well as doilies that I finally found at Hobby Lobby. Most any object will work, but this is what I assembled.

The only thing I left out was paper towel, which is necessary to dry your print on once it’s completed.

Here’s one of my two helpers assisting me in my run-through before class tomorrow. Andrew scurried around the yard to find the best two leaves, and still had to pluck one off the tree to get one he liked.

20131103-164741.jpg

Here’s helper number 2, most excited to play in the water.

20131103-164750.jpg

Once you have an idea of the shapes and arrangement that you’d like your print paper to have, quickly remove one piece of paper from the sun protective envelope and lay the objects onto the paper. While it’s not necessary, a piece of glass from a 5×7 frame helps to keep the objects in place if the sunny day also carries a bit of wind. It’s important to keep the objects in the same place while the paper develops to avoid blurred lines.

20131103-164759.jpg

Allow the sun to do its work for at least two minutes, but while the paper is developing, you should be able to watch the color turn from a deep blue when you start to a paler blue. Unless you’re color blind, of course, in which case a timer would really come in handy. Or a five-year-old helper who constantly asks, “Is it done? Now? How about now? Can I play in the water while we wait? Ummm, can I use that paper towel to clean up the water I just spilled? …… Is it done now????”

20131103-164809.jpg

When the appropriate time has elapsed, quickly remove the glass plate (DO NOT THROW IT ASIDE, young helper boy!!!) and peel off the objects from the paper. It should be evident that something has happened to the paper, but we’re not done yet!

20131103-164818.jpg

The next step is to submerge the paper in a tub of water. Make sure the water gets to every part of it–this is how to stop the sun from affecting the paper any further. The colors may change a bit when it initially hits the water, but after the drying is completed, it will all be O-K. Deep breaths.

20131103-164827.jpg

After leaving it in the water for about a minute or so, remove it from the water and place the paper on a piece of paper towel until dry. The results will be a nifty picture that you can say you created with a celestial body a mere 93 million miles away!

Here’s another step-by-step look at the second try with leaves. I will say that the leaves moved quite a bit more than the die cuts, so that’s something to consider if you’re going to try this at home.

20131103-164836.jpg

20131103-164844.jpg

20131103-164853.jpg

20131103-164902.jpg

20131103-165105.jpg

Here is the gallery of the finished products of the four examples we fashioned. They turned out lovely, and I’m very hopeful that every student tomorrow will be able to take home an equally amazing sun print.

20131103-165118.jpg

20131103-165129.jpg

20131103-165053.jpg

See what I mean about the leaf image coming out a bit blurry? The leaves shifted before we could place the glass securely.

20131103-181915.jpg

We shall see if the sun cooperates and the students enjoy this project as much as we did at home!

Classical Composers Monthly: an entertaining way to learn about the great artists

I’ll admit it: I’ve never done a product review before, so when I was approached by a friend to write one, I was a bit hesitant. Even now, I’m not sure that I’ll do it correctly, but I will share what I’ve learned after looking through her site and what she offers in her service. I’ll give you a hint in case you’re leaning towards not reading to the end: it’s fantastic.

If you’re a homeschooling mom, maybe you’re like me where you can spend the entire day it seems on the basics: reading, writing, and arithmetic (if you’re really like me, the arithmetic can feel like it takes alllllll day just by itself!). What this equates to is that the other subjects, like science projects that have the potential to blow up your kitchen or art projects that may stain your daughter’s favorite shirt somehow get left to the wayside. Or maybe when it comes to teaching the arts, you feel woefully unprepared to share with your children. “Was it Beethoven who was deaf or Mozart?” and “When did the Renaissance Period end?” or “What the heck is a Coda?” are concepts that could cause any otherwise competent homeschooling parent to shrink visibly. Or maybe you feel knowledgeable in the arts and have the desire to share this learning with your children, but you’ve priced materials and the cost of many resources is quite a deterrent.

Although I can’t speak to the science projects and your fear of explosions in the kitchen (or is that still just me?!), I have found a website that helps to take the daunting nature of teaching our kids (and learning ourselves!) about the great artists throughout history and make it enjoyable and engaging. Classical Composers Monthly is a service created by a homeschool mom and her homeschool graduate son in a successful attempt to bring the arts to the masses–simply and effectively.

With a paid subscription, each month an email detailing the chosen composer will come to your inbox. It will lead you to a wealth of information about the composer of the month, including but not limited to biographies, ebook links with more information, performance playlists of the artist’s works, assignment ideas, activities and worksheets, and more. The beauty of this is that it’s been done for you. All you have to do is access it and begin allowing your children to learn. And hey, who doesn’t like making the homeschooling day easier? I also really appreciate that Erica has committed to making the information family-friendly whenever possible. It doesn’t take a college degree to know that some art history is fraught with scandal and inappropriateness, but it should be our responsibility as parents to decide when our children are old enough to handle that content. To that end, there will be a warning if anything even remotely objectionable appears in any month’s episode. Good to know, considering you could turn on the TV at any time of day and not have that peace of mind!

You shouldn’t take my word for it, though. If you click here, you can sign up for the Handel resource list FREE to investigate the website. In no time, you’ll be listening to Handel’s Water Music and other fabulous pieces. It’s worth checking out!

And would any review be worth its salt if I didn’t throw in a “BUT WAIT! THERE’S MORE!” Nope, it surely would not. With that, I’m pleased to report that the creators of Classical Composers Monthly have recently expanded their repertoire (snort) to include artists. As a member of the new Fine Arts Pages, you will receive printable works from 25 of the world’s best known artists, along with information about each. That in itself if well worth it, but what I think is worth far more is the insight that Erica gives about perhaps the best way to share these works with your kids. Because she’s a homeschooling mom, she knows that just because you have the desire to teach art to your kids doesn’t mean that your children will run in willingly and sit at your feet for hours waiting to devour all the info you give them. Her one simple suggestion is just fabulous: print the pieces and the info that goes with them and post them in a place where children all go and have nothing else to do while they’re there: the BATHROOM! What a fantastic idea! Post one picture a week and see what happens. I absolutely love it.

For more information about the Fine Arts Pages and a freebie, please click here. And for a limited time, the Fine Arts Pages are available for the introductory price of $9.95, so it’s definitely worth having a look-see.

Since we are a social media society, you can also follow CCM on Pinterest by clicking here or Twitter by clicking here to keep up with all the latest updates.

If you’d like to order, you can go directly through this link as well.

ONE LAST ANNOUNCEMENT! I’d like to give away one free Fine Arts Pages membership to one of my readers! To enter, just leave a comment after this post and you will automatically be entered to win this resource. A winner will be chosen on Tuesday, July 9 from all entries. Feel free to share with anyone you think would benefit from a FREE! membership. You must comment on the blog, though, and not through Twitter or Facebook!

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work.
Emile Zola

I would highly recommend looking into this service for your homeschool. It promises to be an ongoing resource which will provide your children with a wonderful window into the world and works of the great artists.

May your homeschooling efforts be blessed.

Previous Older Entries