Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Valentine's Day Heart Tree Craft

If you're like me, you need last-minute, easy crafts!

I love doing crafts as part of our homeschool, but I'm not big on the planning ahead. I also love projects that use found materials, and don't need a special trip to JoAnn's for supplies.

If you'd like to add a little Valentine's Day cheer to your table, here is a perfect afternoon craft for you and your kiddos! A Valentine heart tree!

This simple and beautiful Valentine's Day decor can be made in an afternoon with a few branches from your yard and that Amazon box sitting in the corner, waiting to be recycled. :-)

Here's what you need to get started:

  • Branches with many small limbs
  • Cardboard
  • Sturdy scissors
  • Thick yarn in red, pink, or white
  • Gold spray paint (optional)
  • Vase or tall glass for display
  • Glass beads, jewels, or stones for the bottom of your jar

Here are the steps:

The first step, which is optional, is to spray paint your tree branch gold. Use an old sheet or a drop cloth, outside, and give your branch plenty of time to dry. 

This craft looks beautiful even without this step! If you like the look of bare branches, by all means skip the paint!

While the branch is drying, cut out some heart shapes from cardboard. You want the heart shapes to be empty inside, as they will act as your forms for making your small yarn heart ornaments for the Valentine tree. 

There is no perfection here. You can draw the hearts with pencil first. For me, cutting cardboard is the least fun part of this project -- but push through! The results are so worth it! Make sure to make your hearts different sizes.

Begin to wrap each of the cardboard heart shapes with thick yarn. You can use any yarn you have on hand, but thick yarn gives better coverage and helps you get the forms covered much faster. Once you finish wrapping each heart, tie off the end in the back. 

A little bit of hot glue can help secure the end of the yarn, as well. Hooray for hot glue.

Loop a piece of yarn around the top of each yarn covered cardboard heart and tie it in a knot. This will serve as the hanger for your yarn heart ornament. 

Fill the bottom of a clear jar or vase with your choice of colored jewels, stones or even sand. Rice works too! :-) 

Stick the spray painted branch into the jar and decorate it with your heart ornaments.

Isn't this sweet and pretty? And it's easy to store the heart ornaments in a little box or bag for next year. Finding a perfect branch every year could become part of your Valentine's Day tradition!

Enjoy! I'd love to see pictures or hear from you if you make your own Valentine's Day heart tree! Leave a comment below!

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Reading Blogs Made Easier

Do you like to read blogs like I do?

I was recently reviewing some training I have on being a blogger.

Yes, reviewing -- because I have an entire 2" binder full of things that I have printed off... reference sheets, trainings, articles, and all kinds of little inspirational things. Did I mention that researching and learning are two of my very favorite things? :-)

Anyway, I came across a daily checklist of to-dos to help find new readers for your blog, and it included a little bit about reading favorite blogs on Bloglovin and leaving comments.

Bloglovin? I thought that was a thing years ago... a plugin maybe... I can't remember.

Well, it turns out it's still around, and it's a nice, simple interface to read blogs on your favorite topics! I have a bunch of blogs in a bookmark folder called "Dailies!" in my bookmarks bar, but it's still a process to kind of go through and click those links. (And no, I don't do it every day).

Also... and this is me being honest here... I don't like a lot of modern blog design. I hate pop ups and intrusive advertising... but I understand that bloggers want to earn an income for their families.

Bloglovin solves all that. I can follow blogs that I like, just as I would follow boards on Pinterest or pages on Facebook, and there they all are, in clean, simple format. See what I mean?

I can't tell you how happy this makes me! 

I love seeing what other homeschool families are doing, find new craft ideas, new learning ideas, and new recipes. I just love learning, period.

So, I thought I'd share!

Why not give it a try? You can start out by following my blog here: Follow my blog with Bloglovin And then talk to me in the comments. Do you have blogs you read every day? Or do you mostly stay on social media sites?

Friday, January 12, 2018

Thinking About Pulling Your Child from Public School?

It's just about halfway through the school year, and I'm seeing lots of posts on homeschooling FB groups. Posts from parents who are watching their kids struggle, and feel completely drained by the daily grind of overwhelmed kids, homework, and 7:30am start times.

Lots of these parents are considering homeschooling. And that is one big, huge scary thought.

Maybe you're in that place too. 

I wrote the following response on a homeschooling board recently when a fellow mom posted about her fears in taking her child out of public school. Despite the fact that she was watching her child crumple under the pressure, she was afraid that she wasn't equipped to be her child's teacher.

I just want to encourage you and say you have everything you need to be your child's teacher. You know your child, and that is the prerequisite. You have time. You love to learn yourself.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Amish Sugar Cookies

These delicious Amish sugar cookies are different than any recipe I have tried!

Baking is a lovely way to pass the time during the dark days of winter. We homeschooling moms have a lot of time to fill, don't we, when it's harder to head outside to play?

The mixture of butter and oil, and the variety of sugars give these cookies a softness and a flavor that is unique. I love the addition of the almond extract as well -- although my daughter doesn't (she can tell if I sneak it in there). You could also experiment with other extracts to enhance flavors, or stir in half a cup of chopped sweetened dried cranberries.

You could also dress these up with a few drops of food coloring (I use the natural kind from India Tree, available on Amazon, because my kiddo reacts to artificial colors) for holidays! Pink cookies would be super cute for Valentine's Day!

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How is Homeschooling Working for You Right Now?

Welcome to 2018!

Do you like fresh starts and new beginnings as much as I do?

Although you might be in the middle of your homeschool year, the new year is still a great time to reflect on your homeschool year so far, and refocus moving forward.

In our house, we have a lot of reflecting to do, because most of what I planned for the school year -- well, it pretty much fell apart. I still have a lot to learn about how my daughter best learns and thrives.

Field trip to the pet store. She's teaching ME about fish.

I want to tell the truth about this. We are still in our first year of homeschooling, so naturally we do not have it all figured out yet. But I suspect that's not just a first-year thing. It's a homeschool thing -- and out there on the internet, I don't see a lot of the hard realities of homeschooling. I see beautiful spaces, clever crafts, happy smiling children. 

You know, the highlight reel.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Dear Mama Thinking About Homeschooling

Dear mama thinking about homeschooling,

School is fast approaching. Summer went by in a blink, didn't it? Those days of sleeping in, long afternoons at the park, staying up late watching movies cuddled on the couch. More laughter, more hugs.

Yeah, more kids fighting too, I get that. More, "I'm bored, mom." It's not ALL sunshine and rainbows.

But if the thought of school approaching has anxiety rising like a tide inside your heart, hear me out. If the school supply list and the thought of pulling your grouchy kiddos out of bed every morning has you laying awake at night dreading that first day of school, take a few minutes and read on. If you'd like to leave the role of homework enforcer behind forever, let me encourage you.

There is another way.

You could keep them home.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Try Out Homeschooling This Summer

Yes, you can totally try out homeschooling this summer!

And by "try out homeschooling," I don't mean sit your kiddo at a table with a pile of workbooks. :-) Although if your kiddo loves workbooks, then by all means, get some awesome ones and let them have at it. Hint: gel pens are great.

What I mean by trying out homeschooling is to try out learning together.

One of the transitions that has to happen when you decide to homeschool is that you're no longer just a parent. You're a guide for learning, a co-learner, and sometimes, a teacher. Notice I didn't put "teacher" at the front of the list? That's because learning is happening for your child all the time. Much of it they are exploring themselves.

Here are 6 ideas you can use to try out homeschooling and build your relationship with your kids during the summer months! You may find that you are loving your time together so much that you dread sending them off to school. It's a great feeling, honestly.