10.10.2014

Currently...

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Currently...

Hoarding pumpkin-scented everythings.  Yesterday, I rubbed a pumpkin candle all over myself.  
(Kidding... but the thought has crossed my mind.)

Loving crochet doilies.  You'd think that I'd find a bajillion I like on etsy, but I am very picky about my doilies and the pattern used to crochet them.  I'm a doily snob.

So excited that The Walking Dead starts season 5 this weekend (knuckles to all Walking Dead fans).  I bought zombie cupcake toppers to celebrate.  Best $15 I ever spent.

Catching our breath after celebrating our 13th anniversary (say whaaaaat?) and the little guy's 9th birthday.  Did I ever tell you how much I love the Philips in my life? :)

Kissing Philly's teddybear.  Because he started this new thing where I need to kiss his bear on the head, ear, and lips before he can snuggle up and fall asleep each night.  I think I'm gonna cry when I am not asked to kiss bears at bedtime.  

Reading The Artisan Soul.  Oh. My. Gosh.  It literally has 7 chapters so, technically, it's the best type of book to finish in a week.  I doubt you will need that long.  Fills. Up. My.  Heart.  Love this book.  

Planning new projects.  I could have character necklaces listed in my shop very soon.  Niamh loves hers.  And she is my quality control, so I think I'm about ready to share them:). 

Drawing.  I've literally drawn for hours upon hours this week...but still feel the itch to get back to it every night when I put the pencil down.  I think that means I love my job:). 

Wanting to try this essential oils craze...but realizing I have a lot to learn since I've been rubbing my kids with straight up, undiluted lavender oil for weeks now.  I need someone to point me to a knowledgeable essential oil-er.  For the sake of my kid's greased up torsos.  

Missing Phil.  Because he has been off the last few weeks and returns to work tomorrow.  I love when we are all home together.  (sniffles)

Working at being better at hospitality.  I always felt hospitality-challenged since I suck at preparing food.  But, as I work at making our home and life more available to friends and family and impromptu visits, I am finding that the two gifts (cooking/baking and hospitality) are not in actuality connected.  And yes, sometimes I buy amazing cupcakes from Whole Foods and pretend I made them... but that is not the point.  I've enjoyed having new friends over and look forward to many more coffee dates on the couch.  With 'homemade' desserts.  ;)

Buying fresh flowers.  Every Friday.  I go through the house and empty all my vases and add new flowers to them.  If I could try a dream job for a day, I'd be a florist.  Or a fair trade coffee company owner who travelled the world for the best tasting coffee beans.  Maybe a mix of the two.  

Dreaming.  You ever just want to take a gigantic leap and try something bizarre and new and risky?  I feel like that all the time.  Maybe I'm just weird... But I think big dreams are a part of all of us and maybe the crystalized glimpses of what we are really made for.  

What is on your 'Currently' list?? 
I'd love to read yours:)...


9.25.2014

The Learning Places~

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One really nice side effect of homeschooling Niamh and Philly has been a substantial increase in my own learning over the past year.  I did not anticipate this, but looking back over the last months, my life has been punctuated by increases in learning...mostly in places where I never recognized in myself a high level of interest in that area.

Which is actually kind of cool. 

I assumed my own learning curve would flatten out as I grew older.  After I graduated college, I was burnt out and not very interested in studying a single thing for the rest of my life.  By that point, I already had a family and a life~ so learning more 'stuff' just didn't fit well on my plate.   

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About half way into last year, I started reading a LOT of books on science and creation.  At first, my whole point was to be able to teach the kids science from a non-christian text book while pointing out the "holes" in evolution.  

I believed in an old earth.
But not in evolution. 
Because only evil people believe in that.  
Two books in, I was devastated.  
Because evolution eloquently explained the world around me
(in ways I had never been taught in a Christian school),
But seemed in huge contradiction to the very first chapter of my Bible.  
I read more books on evolution.  
Then I read books on Genesis. 
I read books on how to read my Bible.  
Most of my reading didn't come from the shelves of Barnes and Noble either.  
It was stuff I trudged through.
Googling three words per sentence sometimes.  
Writing definitions in the margins.
I found some really good 'mentor' type writers that I found challenging to my fortified doctrine walls.
Sometimes I even emailed them.
Asking for further explanations. 
(And they wrote me back~ which was awesome and kind of surprising.)
I think I averaged one tearful breakdown a month.  Just crying my eyes out to Phil. 
Because I had never really pressed into places of why I believed certain things.  
All of the "What I Believe" was just kind of inherited from people I liked or loved or respected.  
So when I started figuring things out in an authentic way-- for myself-- lots of struggle and uncertainty ensued...

But a ton of learning, too.  

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The desire to read Genesis in a more informed way led me to learn about the culture and context of when the Bible was written.  And in that place I saw a God on mission-- always meeting humanity on our playing field.  This intersected with another huge passion of our family~ living on mission.  

It is seriously the most awesome thing ever to look back over a year and see God leading me in what I've read and learned.  Even the order of the books I've picked up (often on a whim) seem perfectly placed.  And then to have two seemingly separate roads collide (creation and mission)~ just assume I cried all over again. 
This time, tears of thanksgiving. 
(same ugly crying face, though;)

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We are in a weekly bible study moving through (ironically enough) Genesis and creation with our former (old church's) associate pastor.  This week, when he prayed, I loved his words.  

'God, give our thoughts edges.'  

That is what learning does.  
It crystalizes the fuzzy places.  
Sometimes you have to walk through a ton of mud to get there~
And maybe you will cry your eyes out about cavemen and Neanderthals to your bewildered husband. 
And you will believe in the very thing you were trying to disprove to your kids.
Maybe you will go on tangents. 
And have trouble remembering the path you started on.
God knows, I've lost my bearings quite a few times.  

I've learned that my learning about God~ even though the more I learn, the more He is shrouded in mystery~ is a way of worshipping Him.  I didn't think of it that way when I started this process last year.  But it is.  And through it, my faith (while at times rocked to its core) has been substantially deepened and widened.  And so I continue to press into it more.  Because it is a lifelong way to love and worship my King.  

Meanwhile, being an adult who is passionate about learning~ so it is never a flatline area, but always on an increasing trend-- shows my kids that life should never feel unimpressive or stagnant.  Learning new and beautiful things often sparks new dreams and leads us down paths God intends for us to walk (but that we would never have found otherwise).  And honestly, how can we teach our children well if we have never become good learners in the first place?  

So pick up the book that interests you.
Or the book that lands on the other side of the line you've drawn in the sand.  
Read about something that makes you feel alive.  
Or even the thing that pisses you off.
(The books I have felt the most hostile towards are often the ones I end up learning the most from.)

LIVE AS IF YOU WERE TO DIE TOMORROW;
LEARN AS IF YOU WERE TO LIVE FOREVER.

~Mahatma Ghandi

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PS, Kaylee Snyder~ you won the rubber stamp giveaway!! Congrats!!

9.15.2014

Banner Love

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I am a 'fill the walls with any and every- thing" type of person.  
Blank wall space actually makes me nervous:).  
So there is a little irony in the fact that years ago I fell in love with an A-frame house.
Almost every wall is on a steep angle. 
Try hanging things on the inside of a triangle. 
It doesn't work too well.

I have resorted to banners. 
They are super easy to make and fill in the places that need a little color and decorating love. 

The simplest ones to make just require card stock, two sided tape, and twine.  
The nice thing for us crafty folks is the amount of scrap paper we have lying around, perfect for this type of project!
I wanted a really plain colored banner with pops of animal print for our bedroom, so it cost maybe 5 bucks of cardstock and a whole 10 minutes to make:).  
So easy!

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I also have quite a few fabric ones hanging around.  
They are a bit more time consuming to make since I have to drag out the sewing machine...
But, seriously.
It is still so easy and can be made to match any decor style...
And who doesn't love fabric shopping? 
(I do. I do. I do.  I don't even care if it is the lamest thing ever. Fabric stores are happy places.)

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So the next time you need a little pop of color in your craft room or living space, pull out your paper stash, tape, and twine.  
Add a few strands of twinkle lights. 
And.
Oh. 
My. 
Goodness.
It will transform into a perfectly magical space:).

Even if you live in a triangle.
With sexy, faux wood panelling.

9.08.2014

Stamp and Video Giveaway!

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It is nice to start the week off by giving something away:).

I have the newest set of Saturated Canary rubber stamps (5 total) and a coloring video by Jennifer Dove to give to one follower.

Both gifts.
One winner.

**You must be a follower of this blog to win (see my sidebar).
**Please comment on this post~ What is your favorite SC stamp?
Giveaway closes Friday, September 12.
International followers are welcome to enter.

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Good luck and happy Monday!
xx

8.31.2014

Homeschooling~ Year 2, Curriculum, What We've Learned, and How We've Changed...

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Last year at this time, we were starting out on the first year of homeschooling 
with big expectations, 
no gauges to mark our progression by, 
zero experience, 
and no fully-formulated 'homeschooling philosophy' 
from which our expectations and goals could flow out of.  

Three days in, three of us were sitting in a circle on Niamh's bedroom floor crying our eyes out.

Over the following weeks and months, we fell into our groove.  
I carved out a lot of learning time for myself.
I needed to learn what things I was very passionate about teaching my children.
What things I needed to learn patience in teaching (e-hem, math and spanish).
I learned what parts of our curriculum did not work.
I learned that there are maybe like 1 million different curriculums out there.
And as many homeschooling philosophies to match.
I learned that Philly is great at math and actually enjoys drawing.
And Niamh is an avid reader and picks up Spanish very quickly.
I learned that I teach math too loud (and with a mean face sometimes). 
And that the kids immensely enjoyed the one or two times a week when dad would substitute teach for an hour.

I think this summer has been just as profitable. 
I have spent quite a bit of time creating in my mind our homeschooling philosophy. 
~~That thing our expectations can grow from, so that this year we aren't ashamed and crying three days into it, because we met NONE of our glorious goals for the first (and subsequent) week(s). 

I have also talked with two other (awesome) homeschooling moms in particular, who have more years under their belts and better knowledge of the options and help out there.
I'm not sure if there is anything that helps more~listening to what works for other homeschoolers, what has shaped their methods and choice in curriculum,  and where they look to enhance their kids learning and development.  
I like that these two mother's approaches are world's apart...and that maybe I fall somewhere in the murky middle...but that they spent the time answering my questions~ and the advice and time they offered has been a huge help to me this summer.
  
I've been asked what curriculum we use quite a few times over the last year...
This is a quick glance over our upcoming year...
which is very, very different than the all-in-one curriculum we purchased last summer.
I think, on the whole, it is way better for our particular homeschooling needs and goals.

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Spanish~ Rosetta Stone
Self-paced.
love.love.love RS. 

Math~
Philly needs to master his multiplication and division in the beginning of the year.  He is very good at math, so will move onto a 4th grade workbook soon after.  
Niamh is using a pre-algebra textbook I ordered from Amazon. 

Spelling~
We are continuing to use last year's spelling bookbecause I like the approach to mastering EVERY word before moving on.  This is Philly's first year using this spelling book.

Latin~ Prima Latina
Listening to the pro's of studying latin from another mama whose kids are learning it convinced... Phil.  I needed more persuasion:).  My mom's school also teaches it, and she had only good things to say, too. 
Hello, first year of Latin.  

History~ Shaping our history lessons from this text. 

Science~ We teach our kids from an evolutionary-creationist belief.  
That means we fully believe that God created and sustains, moment-to moment, everything we see around us.  We are created in His image and have a sinful nature.  We believe that God created through evolution because that is what the natural world around us clearly reveals.  

We have started (end of last year) to use a book on evolution and Darwin's life to explore this with our kids.  Having been raised in a church and Christian school that only offered a 6-day creation view point, and seeing a world in drastic conflict with that story of creation, I want to offer my kids a Biblical worldview that comes alongside science in a way that will not require them to choose between Jesus or good science.  

This is perhaps my favorite part of homeschooling, because it is difficult to find science resources for kids that are Bible-informed and yet scientifically relevant.  Basically, I don't want my children feeling the pressure from an unnecessary dichotomy of science or faith.  

I focused much of my energy into this over the last year, reading really good books on evolution, creation, and the first chapters in Genesis.  I also turned to others more knowledgeable than myself (pastors and Bible professors) for their views and advice.

This is one of the things I am most passionate about as a person and follower of Jesus~ relieving the ridiculous pressures on our children that somehow our creation beliefs (how things were made) are directly linked to the validity of our salvation. 
I am thankful that because we homeschool, we get to teach our kids the latest science with a deep appreciation for the Creator behind it ALL.

Here are a few of the most challenging and rewarding reads (my faith was deepened and enriched) over the last year.  I have lots more to share...but I can't fit it all into one homeschooling blog post:). 


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English/Grammer~ 
Using this recommended set for Philly.
And this one for Niamh.

Literature~
Phil reads with the kids nightly (we pick those books:).
He is currently reading The Princess and the Goblin. 
Niamh and Philly work their way through various chapter books as well.
This series is especially fun while being educational, and they have read many of the books already.

Art/Music~
Phil takes the music upon himself.  He loves talking bands and music with the kids, and he does a great job exposing them to all kinds of musical tastes and genres.  
Art is mine;).  My favorite thing to do with them is a nature walk with sketchpads and pencils/watercolors.  Sometimes we combine a lesson and draw/paint a song~ the end result is usually pretty interesting:).  

Bible~
Everything we do and learn stems from our faith in Jesus Christ.  Besides reading Scripture as a family daily, we enjoy keeping 'Gift' notebooks, learning Scripture from tattoos, and integrating Gospel conversations throughout our day together.  We did spend a lot of time reading about famous missionaries last year as part of our curriculum...This year, we'd like to emphasize what a life lived for Christ really looks like in practice.  The beauty of educating our own children often grows out of the things we are continually learning as parents...it is a sharing process between us and them.  I love that we are always together, learning many things as a family unit.

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Some of the things we use:

Myndololgy notecards for recording daily "gifts".
A journal for me to write down ideas, notes, to-do lists, etc. while the kids are working.

**Yoobi gives one product for every one that you buy to a classroom in need here in the US.

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The Self Propelled Advantage was recommended to me for good reading this summer, too.  Talk about a new way to view homeschooling!  I love the approach explored in this book.  We bought the student planners as well.  I know this is especially going to be a huge self-motivating force to Niamh this year, as she already enjoys being 'in charge' of herself:).  Highly recommend this for other homeschooling mamas still figuring out their 'homeschooling philospohy'!!

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So how do I put into words our approach to homeschooling now?

We want to be equipping highly motivated, self-learners to master a variety of subjects as well as pursue with passion their own hobbies, interests, and talents.  We want to guide them in forming their own Biblical worldview while studying and engaging in the world around them.  We want to encourage Gospel conversations and live with freed hearts, fully committed to following Jesus Christ.  

Here is to the new school year, new things learned, and a clean slate ahead of us.
We wish the best to you and your family/kiddos for the school year as well!! 

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8.28.2014

Instagram Art;

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I've mentioned before that my favorite social media tool is Instagram.  I enjoy seeing people's lives (even if they are polished up and beautifully edited) through their square photos.  It is probably the most visually inspiring place for me... and following people that inspire me is where my art often starts.  There are a ton of amazing "photographers" (using that term loosely, as most are not actual real-life photographers) on IG capturing everything from their morning latte to their kids' quirky style~ and everything in between~ who transfer their own creativity through perfectly executed photo captures. 

I have started to draw from my favorite IG feeds once a week.  It is a good way for me to practice digital art from a place that I enjoy browsing anyway.  I always ask permission before illustrating based on another person's photo; and then send that print snail mail as a 'thank you.'

These are my first two:
Top piece is from @ever_and_willa called "Everleigh and Willamina".
The artwork below is from @pics_missmaya and is called "Waiting for Pancakes".
I did them in two different styles, as I learn to use the brushes a little better for adding color... 
I like sketchy art like the one above...because it feels messy and sketch-pad-ish.  
The pancakes piece is more refined... but I am pretty pleased with it (compared to the first pieces I colored in a month ago:)
... I actually love this one:).

You can follow along my random IG artwork @kristacanary...
I'm still deciding on my next feed to draw from...decisions, decisions;).

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The goal is to put a nice portfolio together with the end result someday being a children's book. 
It is always about moving forward with your craft...
Planning things out to help you achieve a future goal, even if that is a slow process with far-away results...
Plugging along in ways that keep you inspired, motivated, and always practicing!

Happy Thursday, friends!


8.26.2014

Project Life, August

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Project Life catch up from early August through this week~
And I still have two or three more pages to finish, but this week was too busy to get them all knocked out.

Niamh turned 11 this month (whaaaat?!), and we celebrated with a Yankees-themed birthday party this past Sunday.  Our kids are obsessed with the Yankees (they check baseball highlights first thing every morning)...So this was a really fun party to plan!  We even had a big family whiffle ball game.  

This month we went to the Philadelphia Zoo with friends and had a total blast.  We searched the whole zoo over for sloths~ and found two different ones!  Philly was on cloud nine:).  

We switched our bedroom with Philly's room...so we sleep right across the hallway from the kids now.  Which means they sneak over in the mornings after Phil leaves for work, and we all snuggle and watch tv for a while.  (We do share the room with Philly's guinea pigs.  But they only squeal in the mornings, so our roomies are working out okay so far.)

I am gearing up for another year of homeschooling.  I am excited about the coming year, because we have made so many changes in our curriculum. I'll post about it later in the week~ I think this year will be awesome! 

Phil and Niamh were reading The Giver together the past two weeks, and they just finished up yesterday.  We all headed over to the theater last night, so they could compare the book and movie.  It was 'their thing'~ but Philly and I got to tag along and enjoy the conversations about characters and plot:).  Now they are planning to start The Princess and the Goblin.  

Is there anyone else out there looking forward to Boxtrolls??  Philly and I can't wait~ Niamh already said she refuses to see that 'creepy movie.'  (She was scarred for life from Coraline, and I think this is made by the same people?)  Anyhow... it is a mom and son date in September, for sure.  

That is a peek into August with a few pages of photos, too.  I love collecting all the PL journal cards~ but am still trying to figure out a good storage solution.  Any tips would be appreciated... Also, does anybody organize them into categories??... Mine are stored in photo boxes (uncategorized), and I pull them all out every time I work on pages (which is a little annoying:).  I need help:).

Thanks for stopping by today!
Don't forget to grab a free iPhone5 wallpaper on my sidebar before you leave!!

Happy Tuesday!

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