The Craft Table: Las Tijeras

Craft-Table_LogoWelcome to the Homeschool Mom’s Craft Table. Enjoy a quick foray into the world of art; join us as we delve into projects, offer helpful tips, explore new tools, and encourage all things creative. Come along and share a world of fun!

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I cannot begin to express how frustrating it is to be in the middle of a project only to reach for a pair of shears and find them dull. Even worse, is when you are surrounded by little people all reaching for kid scissors only to discover they break two minutes later. One of the most frequently used tools in our crafting closet is our selection of scissors.

When I was younger, I used to think scissors were scissors. I mean, they all cut; right? What’s the big deal? It took me some time to realize that there were left-handed scissors and right-handed. (Yeah; I know, crazy.) Then, I figured out there were different scissors for different jobs. Who knew?

Now, we have scissors all over the house. I have scissors in my kitchen to use only with food items. Then, we have three pair in our kitchen drawer for kid use. Shears for sewing, paper cutting, and even pinking shears! The kids have their own set, my husband has his, and mine are kept hidden in a box in our crafting cupboard so they don’t go missing on me. (Because they would.)

Thankfully, scissors aren’t terribly expensive. I can usually find kid scissors at Target for under a buck. Adult scissors are also fairly reasonable as long as I don’t reach for those fancy embroidery shears at the local fabric store; they’re gorgeous, but way out of my league.

Skalm_2

As a parent, I’m often surprised at how many little kids don’t get the opportunity to use scissors. For those who don’t homeschool, it seems they are waiting for their local public school to start the fun. If you haven’t initiated your kids into the fun world of scissors, let me encourage you to get the fun started! There are so many awesome activities and crafts your littles could be doing. If you’re looking for a few good practice lessons, these might help you out:

Pinterest Ideas
DLTK
Activity Village

Shears are one crafting tool we definitely couldn’t live without. We keep a pair in every room, even our bathroom, and use them on a daily basis. Now, if I could just remember to dig out those nifty pinking shears and start putting them to use!

Time to Chime In: I’ve often wondered… Does anyone still get their shears sharpened? Considering you can get a new pair for a good price, is sharpening worth the effort?

Happy Anniversary!

Wedding RingForgive me for keeping it especially short and sweet today, but I’m too busy enjoying this special day. This year, my husband and I are celebrating our fifteenth wedding anniversary!

Wow; I don’t know where fifteen years have gone. It seems like just yesterday we were getting married and then having our first baby. Fifteen years later, we have four kids and have been homeschooling for over ten. While the journey hasn’t always been a breeze, it has been very rewarding and memorable. We have been truly blessed in our marriage and family life.

Our kids started us off with a homemade breakfast, complete with dish washing (which I thought I was going to have to do). Our girls made us the most incredible breakfast, all by themselves. All those cooking sessions are paying off! (laughing) Then, my man and I did something we never have an opportunity to do… we ditched our kids and went to Disneyland on our own. While I do enjoy going with our babies, this was truly a special day for us. We finally got to ride all those big roller coasters together!

We ended our day together as a family and rejoiced over all the blessings the Lord has given us during our fifteen years together. The Lord has been so good to us, more than we could ever deserve.

For all the years we have been blessed, may we be truly thankful. For all the Lord continues to do in our marriage and through our family, may we be appreciative. The Lord has been good.

Thank God

The following article was written for our monthly PSP newsletter. With permission from our principal, we are sharing this with you; praying you are blessed by the heart of his message. Enjoy!

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School LogoBe anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7).

We have probably all heard those verses many times before. I know I definitely have; but as we approach the holiday season, two words stand out to me. The verses would flow together without the phrase, and so grammatically, it is not necessary to insert the phrase with thanksgiving; but if we really stop to think about it, the promise of peace found at the end would probably not be true without giving thanks.

The word thanks is found some 72 times throughout Scripture, not to mention variations like thankful, thankfulness, thanksgiving, and more. The sheer volume of times it is mentioned ought to give us an indication of the importance of being thankful.

Human nature is to always desire more, and, while tempered correctly, it can be a good thing, in the context of these verses, it is decidedly not. Striving to do more, to be better, to reach one’s full potential, within the confines of godly behavior, is far better than stagnation to be sure, but thankfulness becomes key in maintaining the right attitude, and a right heart before God.

I am reminded of a story I once read, in which one of the characters was struggling to achieve a level of study that was beyond his abilities. When it was mentioned repeatedly by another that he still had far to go, his response was profound, and true: “Please stop poisoning what I have already achieved by throwing up before me what may be forever beyond my grasp.” Though not a biblical story, the concept is quite true. Lack of thankfulness, because of a desire to have more, do better, or be recognized, can and will poison our hearts toward that which we do have.

Hello, Friend

When we look at the Philippians passage, it tells us to present our requests to God. Note that it does not say “needs” but “requests. “ There is nothing wrong with asking for the desires of our heart, provided, of course, that what we desire is not something which He could not, as a loving and responsible Father, give us in the first place. Thankfulness for what we do have will keep us from becoming bitter if His answer is “no.”  Remember, we are coming before the One who knows our needs and promises to provide for us.

Psalm 100 verses 4 and 5 read, “Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.”

If we stop to consider all the blessings that He has provided for us, we have to stop in awe. He has given me salvation, a relationship with Him (and that on a far more personal and intimate basis than a servant has any right to hope for from his King), my wife, our kids, and so much more. I have been blessed with His truth, a barometer that does not change, and so I am able to chart my way through a world that is far too difficult to navigate on my own.

We have been granted access to His very throne, that our needs, pleas for mercy and grace, and petitions might reach the One who has everything, and can do anything, and He says to come boldly.

So as we approach Thanksgiving, take the time, personally, and even as a family, to sit down and actually list out the things that God has provided for you, done for you, and blessed you with, and as you do so, see how your hearts settle before Him. What is the biggest gift of all? He has given us…Himself.

Happy Thanksgiving

Don’t Wash Your Hands!

Pump_Day_2Welcome to “Pump Day”; getting through the middle of our week with something fun and frilly.

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Recently, I mentioned I was looking for a way to help my nail polish last longer. While reading on this topic, I discovered there were several things I was doing wrong when giving myself a manicure.  Who knew there were so many details when it comes to painting our nails?

One of the most shocking discoveries I made was that I should not be washing my hands right before giving myself a manicure. Wait… what? Whenever I used to go to salons, they would buff my nails and then promptly send me off to wash them. I would dry my fingertips and they would polish my nails right away. Essie, on the other hand, highly recommends giving your fingers a few minutes to breathe and fully dry before polishing.

It seems that when we polish our nails right after washing our hands, we risk trapping moisture under the coat of lacquer. This trapped moisture causes air bubbles while polishing and increases the likelihood of our polish chipping off more quickly. Who knew?

Soap Bubbles

Oh! Make sure you aren’t putting lotion on your hands before polishing either, for similar reasons. The oils from your lotion will decrease the life of the polish on your nails, causing them to chip off in larger chunks and prevent the color from adhering properly.

My manicure time just jumped up a few minutes, but it will be worth it in the long run. To balance out my hand washing time, I am looking into polishes which dry in about a minute. Giving myself these few extra moments to do the job right will save me extra work in the long run and it looks great. Washing my hands is important, but so is giving them time to dry.

Time to Chime In: Have you learned anything new or unique about doing a manicure? Share your tips with us!

As always… While fashion is fun, we should remember:
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – I Peter 3:3-4

Am I Fun?

I spend a great deal of time with my kids. We do all our learning together, we eat together, we clean together, we run errands together, and, on occasion, even sleep in the same room. Essentially, I spend almost twenty-four hours a day with my littles. Because we are together so often, I can mistake being together with having fun together. On occasion it might be beneficial to stop and reflect. Am I a fun mom?

There are times in life when it is important to be serious. Laughing at a funeral would be impolite, rude, and insensitive. However, there are also moments when you ought to be lighthearted and able to have fun. It’s important to find balance in all things.

Raising kids and being a homeschooling parent is no cake walk. Sometimes I can become overwhelmed by responsibilities and needs. The moment a ‘break’ becomes available, my desire can often lean towards just wanting a moment to breathe… alone. While everyday won’t be a breeze, I do need to make a point of finding ways to be fun and silly; enjoying the sound of my children’s laughter and initiating a little joy into their lives.

Kids & I

Honestly, being at home and being ‘fun’ mom is hard for me. Everywhere I look, I see something which needs to be done: laundry, house keeping, dishes, cooking, yard work, home improvement, writing. You name it, I see it. Getting out of the house usually works best for me; this is where park days, Disneyland days, visits with friends, and more come into play.

However, being out of the house every day just isn’t an option. This requires me to then be more creative in our home environment and make a conscious choice to overlook those things which keep catching my over-critical eye.  So we do chores, but we race to get them done (then have ice cream as a treat). We sing along with those playing the piano and have fun being silly. We take moments to stop and play card games, eat cookies, dance to fun songs, and plan upcoming events.

I am learning to look for ways to incorporate fun into their lives and be a source of fun, instead of standing by merely watching. It’s not enough for my children to grow up commending my parenting for its cleanliness and well planned organization (although that would be nice); I want my children to remember their youth fondly and be filled with awesome memories they can’t wait to recreate with their own family. While I won’t be a perfect parent (who is), I would like to think they will look back and smile, remembering how much fun was stuffed into those all too short years we called childhood.

Time to Chime In: Do you make ‘fun time’ purposeful or wait for those moments to arise naturally?

Hug Your Teenager

Young adults can be difficult at times, can’t they? Of course, if we are being honest, we can be a little difficult at times, too! In all the emotional hubbub, it can be all too easy to forget that our growing kids sometimes need affection.

Kids are not always easy to like. They talk back, they yell at us, they get irritable, and they are moody. It can be difficult to know how to handle those raging emotions. As parents, our first reaction is often to be strict and firm; nipping the disobedience as quickly as possible. Our desire is to remedy the situation and get things back to normal.

I wonder how often such circumstances could be dissolved with a simple hug. Instead of laying down the law, what if we chose affection? Would this solve the problem and excuse their disobedience? Definitely not. I imagine it might prevent the problem from escalating, however.

Play With Me, Mommy

When our children understand that we love them and only want what’s best for them, when they feel our affection for them, they are more likely to hear our words. If we were to start our correction or training with encouragement and understanding our children might be more willing to admit failure and reconcile.

To be fair, most of the time our young adults don’t even know what upsets them. Hormones are raging through their system and even little things set them off. Receiving a comforting hug or squeeze on the shoulder helps center them and bring them back into focus. It might help to remember how we felt at their age.

Hopefully this will encourage each of us to reach out to our young people. Discipline is not the only answer, sometimes what our kids need is a hug.

Time to Chime In: Do you find it hard to be affectionate with your teen? Share your ideas on how you bond with your young adult.

In the Kitchen: Burnt Beans

In the KitchenWelcome to our kitchen. Here we’ll share our favorite recipes, lament over food failures, test out new gadgets, and discover tips to making kitchen life easier. Join us on this new adventure and share your life experience with the rest of us!

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I’d love to tell you that every recipe I make turns out wonderfully; that my kitchen is a domestic haven of yumminess. Unfortunately, I seem to have as many failures as I do successes. Just this past week, I burned green beans. How does one burn green beans?!

We were having family over for a late lunch, celebrating a birthday. I had a variety of pots and pans going at the same time and thought I would save myself time and space. I would coat my green beans in olive oil, toss them on a cookie sheet, and cook them in the oven instead of on the stove. Needless to say, it was a complete failure. Looking back, there were several things I did wrong.

The first was using this particular opportunity to test out a new method of cooking; that is always a bad idea. Test when you have the time to finagle and can afford to toss the results. I should have gone with the tried and true.

The second mistake was a juvenile one; I forgot to turn on the timer. Um; yeah… not too smart, huh? I put the pan in the oven and set about doing a bunch of other things, totally forgetting that I would need to pull out the beans in a few minutes. So, they burned.

green-beans-almonds-new

Well, lesson learned right? Now that I know what not to do, exactly what should I have done? Well, I could have done a couple of things. I could have cooked them in a little chicken stock along with sliced carrots. If I still wanted to do them in the oven, I could have wrapped small bunches in bacon and broiled them. Either way, I definitely should have put on the timer! (laughing) Just using the timer would have been huge.

This particular cooking session was a compete disaster, but I did learn a few good lessons. You live and you learn, right?

Time to Chime In: Share with us your favorite recipe for green beans!

The Playground Playbook

“No longer will kids see playing with others as such a mystery. No longer will their questions remain unanswered. I hope that after implementing some of my suggestions a greater confidence will be achieved so your child can succeed and become a valuable member of the play group.”

- Todd J. Rosenthal, The Playground Playbook

Book-Review_logoMy son is a very sociable person. He enjoys playing games and wants to hang out with the fellas as much as possible. As he is just getting to an age where group games is coming into play, this is the perfect opportunity for me to read up on the art of game playing.

The Playground Playbookby Todd Rosenthal, is written for parents just like me. Mr. Rosenthal gives us a complete guide to joining games and making friends. His book is filled with insights which cover everything from getting into a game to game behavior.

“There is an unwritten set of rules and social guidelines that go along with playing sports and games. All players will benefit from the basics. Not just certain ones. Everyone.”

After working for twenty years with children throughout the Tri-State Area in sports training, Todd Rosenthal noticed that the same mistakes and misunderstandings were taking place during group play. Two years ago, the former USA Today NY State High School Athlete of the Year and Two Sport Daily News All Star felt it was time to finally write a simple and fast guide to the basics.

The Playground Playbook

Please click on the image above to discover how you can purchase this neat resource.

The Playground Playbook, Rosenthal’s new book for children and the adults that work with them, suggests many tips on how to effectively join new groups, get along equally with teammates and opponents and properly conduct oneself in a healthy social environment.

Mr. Rosenthal’s approach to the art of game playing is to the point and helpful. I imagine new parents and/or new gamers finding great insight through this resource. The clever ‘blackboard’ tips are sure to help you decipher game playing and gain awareness of team playing . Constructive coach tips will mentor you through tough situations.

This book was a pleasure to read. Personally, I think this book would be great for children themselves. The Playground Playbook is perfect for those new to game playing or those looking to better understand the art of the play.

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About the author: Todd Rosenthal majored in Sociology at the University of Connecticut, where he graduated as the baseball program’s all-time hit leader. Since ending a four-year professional minor league career in the mid-1990’s, he has been instructing both kids in accelerated athletic programs and beginners in need of a fundamental foundation. Todd is a licensed AAU basketball coach and has over a decade’s worth of experience guiding athletes with special needs. Rosenthal currently lives in New York City, where he can frequently be found playing street ball with friends of all ages.

Loosing the Reins

I like routine. With all of life’s responsibilities, good planning removes a lot of the stress and headache of trying to get everything done. The danger in too much control is that our children can sometimes feel boxed in, forced to follow a pattern which they had no say in making. As our children get older, it helps to include their input and loosen the reigns.

When our children were really little, they required a lot more guidance in their learning. They needed me to walk them through a daily and weekly routine. They thrived on knowing what to expect next, what each day brought to them. As my littles have grown, however, I’ve come to realize they are wanting a little more control over their learning routine.

We started out our learning year just as we have the previous few. We had our routine in place and our electives chosen. Our ‘rotation’ spots were all picked out and mommy had the perfect plan in mind. Somewhere around the beginning of second quarter, my kids started to voice new-found opinions. Would it really be that life altering if they got to choose when they did electives?

It seems instead of doing their electives all at the same time, rotating between one station and another in tandem every half hour, they wanted the freedom to work on these learning areas at will. If they chose to rise earlier than everyone else, they could practice their Spanish then. Free time between learning subjects might be the perfect opportunity to sit at the piano. It wasn’t a matter of avoiding these topics, they simply wanted the freedom to choose the appropriate time themselves. In other words, they wanted a little control.

Piano (1/3)

This didn’t seem like such a far-fetched request. They are getting older and have solid reasons for wanting the bulk of their afternoons free; it’s not like they are pushing off electives only to sit around doing nothing. They still plan to get things done, but in their own time. Afternoons could now be free to bake, sew, play together, and even just rest.

Part of me had doubts, but I wanted to give them a chance. So, we compromised. I would allow them the freedom to choose when they did their electives as long as they checked off their work (on a handy-dandy new sheet mommy created just for this), letting me know they were being faithful in their tasks. If they couldn’t stick with it and I was having to remind them too often, we would return to our normal routine.

So far, this new plan is working well! My girls are cruising through their lessons with me and finishing their electives in good time. Awesome! What about my little man? While he needs my input and assistance a little more than his sisters do, he too is doing very well. Unless the kids are learning a new piano piece or my son needs a reading partner, they are handling electives entirely on their own.

Loosing the reigns and allowing them ‘monitored’ freedom was a great decision for all of us. The kids are learning to structure their own time wisely and mommy has less to worry about. It’s been a win-win change.

Now, if only I could convince them that 25 minutes if not a half an hour. Cutting corners doesn’t count! (laughing )

Time to Chime In: How closely do you monitor your children’s electives? Is this something you work on together or allow them to manage on their own? Share your ideas with us!

Color Gone Bad

Pump_Day_2Welcome to “Pump Day”; your weekly encouragement to remember that, once upon a time, before you were your kids’ mommy, you were your husband’s lady.

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Does anyone actually finish their bottles of nail polish? Those who don’t work in salons, that is. Before I can even hit half a bottle, my polish seems to go bad. I wish I could find ways to make my nail color last just a little bit longer.

I own a lot of nail polish. While I have a hard time wearing color in my wardrobe, I like my nails to be colorful and I like variety. I probably change my polish several times a week. You would think with all my changing of colors I would run through my supply pretty quickly. Interestingly enough this is not the case. I have several bottles which have been in my cupboard for years.

The unfortunate side effect of this phenomena is wasted bottles of color which cannot be redeemed. Those half-mixed, goopy, sticky varnishes which won’t re-mix no matter how many times I shake those little bottles. The only solution is to toss them in the trash. I wish there was some clever way to rejuvenate these bottles so that I could save myself a little dough.

Pretty Polish

Well, it seems there might be! Here are a few links which I found helpful in fixing this problem.

The Daily Varnish
Michelle Phan
Beauty Lovelyish
Wiki How

Hooray! No more wasted bottles and no more sorrow over loss of color I can’t seem to replace. I wish I had found these resources years ago. Oh, well! No use crying over spilled nail polish. It’s time to redeem what’s left and make my bucks stretch a little further.

Time to Chime In: Do you finish off bottles of nail polish? Am I the only one who is wasting money here?

As always… While fashion is fun, we should remember:
“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” – I Peter 3:3-4