I Need a Break!

A Regular RoutineI didn’t realize how deeply entrenched my mind was in the public school system. For years, I have been running a yearly routine similar to that of when I was in school. Then, a few years ago, a thought finally crossed my mind: I need a break!

I had always started our learning year at the same time the local schools did, right after Labor Day. I ended the second week of June, just as I had for years in my school years. We took a week for Thanksgiving, two for Christmas, and another for Spring Break.

While this routine functioned for a little bit, I soon realized it wasn’t going to work in the long run. I don’t want to take the entire summer off! I want to take more breaks throughout my learning year. (August to Thanksgiving is a really long stretch, in my humble opinion.) Basically, I needed to abandon the system’s idea of when education should take place and just come up with my own plan.

Over the course of several years, we have experimented with various routines to find which works best:

  • No Summers Off – We merely change-up the routine and learn through different formats. We do less book work and more Summer Fun.
  • Back to School – Instead of starting at the beginning of September, we start back at the end of July. This gives us more opportunity for breaks during the learning year and allows us more freedom to do ministry.
  • Holiday Breaks – We’ve extended our Christmas and Easter breaks to better fit our needs.

This year, we’ve decided to add a few more breaks into our year. We are going to take a week off between our first and second quarter of the year; then again between our third and fourth. (No more long stretches between summer time and the holidays!)

We’ll test out this routine for the year and see how things work. If they don’t, we’ll renegotiate and try something else; just one of the many joys of homeschooling.

Time to Chime In: How many breaks do you take during your learning year?

The Craft Table: Doodle Stitching

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!


My girls like crafting, they also really like sewing. Since this year we are not involved in a Keepers at Home group, it seems we are needing to think outside the box and start working on some projects here at home.

Knowing this is important to my kiddos, I have created a ‘Sew Inspiring’ board for our family on Pinterest. Here I can post links to incredible projects for us to work on, helpful tips to help us improve our skill, and templates for future use.

Pinterest will frequently offer suggestions for us to peruse based on items already ‘pinned’. One such suggestion was Doodle Stitching, the Motif Collection by Aimee Ray. From the moment I saw this book, I was inspired; which meant, of course, I had to buy it! (laughing)

I found it very convenient that we are currently studying the colonial period of history in our home school studies. What better time to dig out our Doodle Stitching book and create a handmade project similar to one a young colonial girl would have done?

So far, we are really enjoying this book. We started on one initial project and the kids are already planning more! We can’t get enough of these cute designs and how easy it is to create these works of art.

Doodle Stitching the Motif Collection

Now that we have some experience with embroidery itself and have put this book to the test, I have every intention of purchasing the remaining books in Ms. Ray’s set. There is the original Doodle Stitching book, as well a new Christmas book coming out next month.

If you have yet to give embroidery a try, we highly recommend it. It is simple, fun, and beautiful. Definitely take a look at Aimee Ray’s inspirational books; they are too cute for words!

For those looking to save a few bucks and enjoy working from online resources, here are a few links which might be helpful!

Craft Foxes
Nana Company

We have two projects under our belt and are working on a third. I can’t believe we didn’t try this years ago! We are having so much fun.

Time to Chime In: Do you embroider? Where do you get your patterns, ideas, and inspirations?

Customized Parenting in a Trending World

Conventional wisdom is any generally accepted set of beliefs and practices. Its conclusions aren’t necessarily followed because of their proven effectiveness, but simply because they are poplar.

-Richard Blackaby

Book-Review_logoIf you have been reading this blog for any length of time, you will by now have realized that we are not what you would call trendy parents. Aside from our weekly ‘Pump Day’ posts, some might assume our ideals come from an entirely different era.

I believe we all need to evaluate our parenting and decide if we are following trends because they are truly what is good for our family or simply because that is what everyone else is doing.

Customized Parenting in a Trending World by Richard and Carrie Blackaby might be just the place to start our journey of discovery. This father/daughter duo writes with such heartfelt conviction and encouragement, one cannot help but enjoy this book. Their hilarious anecdotes allow us a glimpse inside their own home and help us better understand why it is important to abandon what the world views as right and follow a more noble path.

Customized Parenting in a Trending World is about wising up and teaching kids that status customized_parenting_front_cover quo is not always the best way to go. This book will help you find the courage and creativity to challenge conventional wisdom and customize your parenting to suit each child and help them thrive.  Richard and Carrie Blackaby offer informative content from both sides of the gamut. Challenges to societal normality pack the pages. Carrie’s charming childhood stories accompanied by Richard’s insightful wisdom make for an entertaining, yet informative read.

God takes great delight in creating unique individuals, so why do we teach our children to conform and be complacent?

Time to Chime In: Would you consider yourself a trending parent? How do you customize your parenting?

I AM A Failure

Not living up to my own expectations is quite a challenge. I admit it, I tend to be extremely hard on myself. Some have speculated whether or not this is part of a complex known as OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). I would argue that it’s pride. I’m a failure, I just need to accept it.

Being a perfectionist is a pain. One of the most dangerous aspects of being a perfectionist is the inability to accept failure; mostly, in ourselves. This goes beyond a mere disappointment in our performance and jumps straight to obsessive occupation of the mind. We can’t seem let go the fact that we didn’t do as well as we would have liked.

As an adult this is hard enough, now imagine you’re a child. How do we teach our children that it’s okay to fail? And, just as importantly, when to get back up and try again?

Remain Calm – Don’t add to the situation by getting frustrated and emotional. Take a breath, pray, and then move on.

Take Stock of the Situation – Every situation offers something to learn. While we may have ‘failed’ at our initial (or subsequent) attempt at this current goal, each new attempt offers something to learn by.

Focus On What’s Important – Don’t lose sight of what your true purpose was in this endeavor. Stay focused on the main goal and keep working.

Don’t Compare – You are not other people. Don’t worry about how others could have or would have done better. You are you; do your best and keep trying. What more can anyone ask?

Move On – Not all situations need to be tried again and again, despite popular opinion. Assess each situation and decide which would be best. If trying again is what’s needed, then do so. However, don’t be afraid to move on to something completely different, if this goal no longer becomes important. It is okay to walk away from some goals.

Perfectionism can be a good thing, if managed properly and kept in perspective. We just need to remember that we’re all human and failing is just another important lesson in life.

Time to Chime In: Do you have children who are perfectionists? How do you help them through moments of failure?

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

A Welcome Stain

Pump_Day_2Welcome to “Pump Day”, where one day a week we homeschool in heels and talk about all things girlie!


Do you remember those days of being a little kid? Eating berries, lollies, and popsicles trying to get your lips to turn that pretty shade of dark pink or red? Maybe I’m the only one…

It seems the look works for adults now, too! Instead of applying a heavy dose of lipstick, makeup experts are advising that we stain our lips with just a touch of color. The color of the season: berry!

This has got to be one of the easiest makeup techniques in the book and it looks great on everyone. Choose a dark berry or wine colored shade. Apply the lipstick onto your finger and gently dab the color onto your lips to achieve the look. Gloss also works, if you care to add a little shine. To set the color in place, blot your lips and you are good to go.


I’m sure this is going to be a fun change. I do have one concern though. I don’t like getting my fingers dirty!

Time to Chime In: I like lipstick, but my guy doesn’t like how it comes off on his face. Is there a lip color you recommend which doesn’t leave a mark?

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

I Just Want to Be Loved

The man with the kidsPeople want to be loved, people need to be loved. I understand this concept, really I do. Hey, I want to be loved, too. Who doesn’t? But having children just so you can feel the love of another person is not a good idea.

My heart hurt when I heard this young lady tell me her desire to have children stemmed from a desire to have someone in this world who truly loved her. What must it be like to feel that alone and undesired?

I wish raising kids was all about love, but unfortunately it’s not. It would be so easy if all we had to do was love on them and they needed to love on us; life would be simple and sweet. However, that is not reality. Children do need love. They also need discipline, training, an education, and so much more.

If we are expecting our children to fill a void in our lives, we are putting an enormous amount of pressure on them and setting ourselves up for failure. No one human should be responsible for our feeling loved. No child should have that much hanging over them.

Does this mean we do not love our children? Of course not! However, having children out of love and having children to be loved are entirely different things. One should never confuse the two.

Being a parent is a huge job; one which should not be taken lightly. It is an incredible blessing which comes with enormous responsibility. Love is at the heart of all we do, but it is not the end of parenting.

Time to Chime In: What advice would you have given this young lady?

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.” – Psalm 127:3-5

Walking Partners

Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, “I AM the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”

John 8:12

Mini-RetreatThis past weekend, our church hosted a women’s mini-retreat. Instead of going away for the weekend, we ‘camped out’ at church for teachings on Friday evening and all day Saturday. This year’s theme: Walking Partners!

While attending the retreat, the Lord showed me so much. The love of Christ was evident everywhere, even amongst the various minor complications which arose. It was a remarkable few days in which much was learned.

The theme of this year’s retreat was ‘Walking Partners'; encouraging us women to find other ladies who will keep us accountable and edify us. During the weekend one main message struck my heart. The Lord was clearly pointing me in a similar direction… we need to be our children’s walking partners!

So often we view ministry as ‘outside responsibility’, something done for our church groups, our neighbors down the road, and people in foreign lands who need to hear the gospel. Are we putting as much into our own children as we are into others? Are we so busy trying to encourage others that we fail to do so with those closest to us, our children?


The Lord was showing me that our children need to come first, before we step out our door to help others. If we are relying on the church to train up our kids, we are failing to do our job. If we are relying on an occasional Bible study to teach our children the Word of God, we are in the wrong.

I would encourage all of us, including myself, to take this thought seriously. Before looking to help others, look to your family. Find ways to ‘walk’ with your children and minister to them. Discover who your children are and make a point of reaching their hearts. Learn your children’s ways and make a point of studying them. Love on your kiddos as much as possible, even those who pretend they are getting too big for hugs.

Our children need someone to hold their hand and disciple their hearts. Our children need us to help them, direct them, train them, and love on them. There is not a moment to lose and never a bad time to speak to our children about the love of Christ.

We need to be our children’s ‘walking partner’ through life. If we don’t hold their hand, the world certainly will.

In the Kitchen: Bacon, the Easy Way

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!


During the summer months, I would prefer to keep my cooking light and as simple as possible. We tend to eat more salad, less starches, and gorge on watermelons. The less heat and cleanup I have to do, the better.

One of our favorite sandwiches to make during the summer is a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato sandwich). Mommy tends to avoid these, however, due to the large mess this makes of her stove and the time it takes standing there cooking enough bacon for a family of six with decent appetites.

Just a few weeks ago, I decided I would go for it. What’s a little mess, right? Then a brilliant idea struck: cook the bacon in the oven! The lightbulb went off in my head, the Bacon, the Easy Wayconcept came together, and off I went. Not only was this the easiest way in the world to make bacon, it was clean and fast! I was able to cook two pounds of bacon in about fifteen minutes, all turning out flat and crispy.

For the rest of you bacon lovers and mommies looking to make their lives a little easier, we thought we’d use this week’s post to share our tips on how to make bacon, the easy way!

cookie sheets
parchment paper
oven (set to 400º)


Preheat your oven to 400º. Set out two or three cookie sheets (depending on how much bacon you plan to cook). Cover each cookie sheet with a section of parchment paper. Unwrap you bacon and place onto the parchment paper. Place two cookie sheets into your preheated oven, on separate racks, and allow to cook for about ten minutes. At the ten minute mark, turn bacon over and rearrange your cookie sheets onto the opposite racks. (The sheet that was on top should now be on the bottom rack and visa-versa.) Cook your bacon for another five minutes (or until desired crispiness) and then remove. Drain bacon on paper towels and serve.


I prefer to cut our bacon slices in half before placing it onto the cookie sheets. I’ve notice when cooking bacon with this method, it doesn’t shrink up as much as when cooking on the stove. Cutting the pieces helps the kids with portion control and makes the bacon stretch a little further. Plus, it fits better on a slice of bread!

Definitely use parchment paper, not wax paper or no paper at all. Using the parchment helps your bacon become crispy by absorbing a good portion of the fat drippings and helps keep your pans clean.

BLTWhile some have recommended rinsing bacon in cold water before cooking to help it lay flat, I have yet to experience this phenomena myself. I’ve tried rinsing several times when cooking on the stove, to no avail. If it works for you, go for it! I just choose to skip this extra step as it has never worked for me.

For those who prefer to avoid pork, this method also works well for turkey bacon. We have used both pork bacon and turkey in the past.

Now that I have discovered this fast, easy, and efficient way of cooking bacon in the oven, I may never go back to cooking it on the stove again! This cuts down my cooking time by more than half and helps keep my kitchen clean; both pluses in my book.

Speaking of which… I think lunch is just about ready!

Time to Chime In: Share with us your favorite recipe using bacon (turkey or pork)!

Locked in a Closet

Friends and "Family"If you’ve ever come across the numerous blog posts written by ex-homeschooled kids, you will notice a trend. Generally speaking, the complaint lies in socialization. It seems they did not have enough friends, go on enough outings, or have the privilege of attending prom. To their way of thinking, they might as well have been locked in a closet.

While we’ve discussed the silly myth of socialization among homeschooled children, it does seem there is a certain percentage of children who are not enjoying enough interaction with other people.

As a parent who truly does want my children to enjoy meaningful friendships and have lifelong relationships, how then do I go about the act of socialization? I think there are numerous ways in which this can be accomplished:

  • Church
  • Sports
  • Co-ops
  • Family
  • Fellowship with Friends
  • Ministry Opportunities

I am sure the list could go on; however, I doubt it is necessary. To be honest, I believe opportunity is not the issue. There are more than enough venues to offer socialization if one simply makes an effort. Perhaps the problem lies somewhere deeper… a lack of relationship with our children.

As parents, it is our responsibility to pay attention to our children; to understand their needs and provide for them. If my children are expressing a desire for interaction and fellowship, it would behoove me to listen and help them in this area of development.

Is this going to mean a little more work for me? Possibly. Will this mean I might taxi people around a little bit? Perhaps. Is it worth the effort? Absolutely!

Through careful study of my children, I can begin to encourage and help forge those relationships which would be of benefit. With an observant eye, I want to offer plenty of opportunities for my littles to meet new people and build lasting friendships.

It doesn’t take a public school to socialize a child. It does take an involved parent with a heart to meet their children’s needs and guide them into meaningful fellowship.

Time to Chime In: How do you teach your children the fine art of socialization? Which venue has best met that need?


My 'Mini-Me'

It was pointed out to me that this is the exact face I make!

She was doing it again. That thing that just gets under my skin. The look, the attitude, and the unspoken message were being communicated loud and clear; she was not happy. My first inclination was to train her, but then I heard a soft voice remind me, “She is doing what you do.” (sigh) It’s true; my children are mini versions of me. The poor little dears…

As much as I would love to portray an image of perfect parenthood, the truth is I am human. Just like everyone else, I too make mistakes. This is most apparent when my children act out. As does a mirror, my children reflect back to me all the ways in which I need improvement.

Parenting has taught me so much about myself and not all of it good!

The most important lesson I have learned from parenting is that mercy and grace need to abound. While I have a tendency towards being overly firm, sometimes a gentle hand is what is needed.

If I could go back in time, I would tell myself to pay attention to those moments of frustration that these children are experiencing. I would encourage myself to listen carefully to the underlying message this little person is trying to convey. I would remind myself to be patient, humble, and gracious. Most importantly, I would tell myself that these are lessons from God for me. The Lord is using these situations to shape me and mold my character. Through my children, God is showing me areas which need improvement and giving me the opportunity to change.

This is the same advice I would offer others. When your children act like mini-replica’s of yourself – and not the best versions of you, either – consider this a wonderful teaching moment for you!  Don’t be quick to judge, but seek to restore that child back into a proper relationship with the family.

Having our children be miniature versions of ourselves can be a little frustrating at times, but it is also a blessing. Besides showing us personal areas of needed improvement, we have a unique ability to understand the struggles this child is experiencing. We’ve been in her shoes and we know what she needs to move forward.

The next time you’re faced with a ‘mini-me’ moment, consider this a wonderful learning opportunity, for both of you!

Time to Chime In: Which of your children is your ‘mini-me’ and what has the experience taught you?

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” – Ephesians 6:4