Tuesday, November 20, 2018

The Baking Butler

Currently, I'm sitting at the bar in my kitchen while Mr. Butler throws together some gingerbread dough while he waits on his butter to soften for the puff pastry he's making for honey poached pears.  The pears are something he wanted to try for Thanksgiving and the gingerbread is largely something to pass the time.  I don't know about you, but baking to pass the time between other baking has never been something I have done. Ever.  He still amazes me at his drive and ability to do anything he decides to.  

A couple of months ago, I stumbled onto The British Baking Show on Netflix and mentioned to him that he would probably like it.  Not easily invested in a television show, I expected him to dismiss me, again.  But a week or so later, after the kids went to bed he sat down and said, "Let's watch that show of yours."  After that he was hooked and had the itch to bake.  I'll have to admit that I get the itch watching it myself and I'm not much of a baker myself.  Since he started, we've had cinnamon rolls, sour dough bread, shortbread, jam, crackers, and today rough puff pastry and gingerbread.

 We honestly do try to limit our break intake as a family, but we have been a little lax lately, especially with Daddy and all his homemade goodies.  It certainly is a wonderful blessing for these homeschool kiddos to learn how to cook all kinds of things.  We've always made a point to include them and give them skills in the kitchen, but this has really taken things to another level.  They love watching the show with us too which seems to have given them a vocabulary boost as well as a lesson in European cultures.

 My nature is far more skiddish and apprehensive about things I don't 'have a lot of experience with, but Mr. Butler just takes care of business when it comes to trying new things.  My children are so blessed to have him, especially to fill in the gaps that I usually leave.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

J and My Motherhood Turn 8

Being the emotional creature that I am, J's pregnancy and first days are seared into my brain.  I knew how fleeting the days were and I just didn't want to miss anything so I wrote and I observed as much as I could.  To this day I can still see the leaves in the yard and the sun streaming into our living room at the time.  We had placed his bed in front of the window to help with a little bit of jaundice.  It wasn't perfect - breastfeeding was way harder than I ever dreamed - but life with him was so exciting and beautiful.

I've told people that I'm just not sad that he's turning 8 because the Race Car looks exactly like him so it's like living it all over again, only easier!  That being said, I do feel like this year has been a turning point.  All of our weaknesses have shown a lot more and we've had to really struggle on some points.  There are times in life when so much is going on or certain big things help you ignore the small issues that are growing larger. When it all calms down, then the real work begins.  That's what 7 to 8 has been for us.

I absolutely love this kid so much because his heart is big.  When he was born, I felt like he immediately hopped to my side and said, "Let's do this, Mom!"  I know and love him because he shares my emotion for things, but that also means I know the dangers set in front of him.  This year, both of us have had to come to terms with who we are and what that might mean for the future.  Avoiding the hard things is an easy choice that becomes a habit when we're not careful.

I'm learning what it means to know your child, even when it tells you more than you're ready to hear about yourself.  Celebrating birthdays are still just as much about the parents as it is the child.  Bringing this child into the world and sustaining life is a big deal and a luxury some don't have.  On Saturday, we'll be celebrating Magic Tree house style, which only makes me love him more.  The adventures of motherhood are continuing to evolve, but a couple of things stay the same.  He has made me grow, he has taught me love and he has brought me joy!

Happy 8th Birthday J!

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Master Kitz The Starry Night: A Kidzaw.com Review


One of the biggest things my years in education has taught me is that with a desire to learn, anyone can learn anything.  Art is one of those subjects that can often get cast aside by people who didn't naturally love it or somehow got the idea that they "aren't good at it."  We do so much disservice when we eliminate a subject because we aren't naturally talented at it.  There is just as much (and sometimes more) educational and developmental value to artistic pursuits as math or science. It seems to me that we just need more opportunity to develop artistic skills.  My kids are all expected to sing, read music, learn instruments, and draw/paint regularly - not because I knew from the womb they would be gifted at it, but I know that with repetition their educational development will be enhanced and they will obtain some kind of proficiency in those skills.  Like learning to use a knife or greeting people, I believe equipping our kids with all kinds of knowledge (not just the kind they are naturally gifted at) is a vital part of education.  Today we're reviewing an art kit from Kidzaw.com that helps students create projects that resemble the masters and teaches important elements about that artist.   Master Kitz The Starry Night, available on Amazon and on their website here, equips students to create their own version of Vincent Van Gogh's famous painting.

In our kit we received 2 pieces of sturdy paper, 1 stencil, 1 page of stickers, 3 bottles of paint, 1 sponge roller, 1 patterned roller, 4 oil pastels, 1 page of instructions and 1 booklet of information on Vincent Van Gogh.
This photo was after we had used it so the paper is missing.

Since there were two pieces of paper, we planned from the start for J (almost 8) and miss Z (5) to each make one.  One of the first things I would note is that the stencil comes rolled up in the box.  When we set out to paint, I hadn't thought about that and the stencil was very difficult to keep flat.  We ended up having to tape it, but it wasn't ideal.  In the future, I would recommend flattening it out with a heavy book on top of it to make it more usable.

The second challenge was using the stickers the second time.  They did not come off of J's page very easily (some of them ripped) and then didn't stick to miss Z's very well. However, they were essentially just circle stickers of varying sizes that could be bought in any office or craft department. 

Other than that, the instructions were clear and the rest of the elements were easy to use.  After being introduced to this process, it can now be easily repeated with the addition of more paper and paint. 

Are you afraid of diving into art projects like this?  The kits from Kidzaw.com make it easy and guide you step by step.  If you want to take it further, you have been beautifully set up.  If you're just looking for an introduction, this fits the bill! They also have sculpting kits that look super interesting!  Check Kidzaw.com out on social media and find out what kind of an experience other families had by reading the Crew Reviews.

Kidzaw.com on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Kidzaw-160167827376266/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kidzaw
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/kidzaw123?blend=1&ob=5
Master Kitz The Starry Night {Kidzaw.com Reviews}
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Saturday, November 3, 2018

Lester Dougherty: A Joyful Spirit

As we move through life, there are certain places and people that serve as beautiful background music that weaves in and out of our focus.  After my parents sold my childhood home, it took a few years but I eventually grieved over that house - imperfections and all.  I didn't appreciate all that it was until it was long gone.  Other times you know the value of something - or someone - and dread a day in the future when they won't be around.  This week a very special man, Lester Dougherty, died and has since changed the soundtrack of the lives who knew him with his leaving. 

One of the most memorable things about growing up in the church of Christ is the singing.  I have been blessed to be part of congregations who could sing and sing well!   But that doesn't happen by accident.  It happens because of people who not only love singing, but they pursue it in worship and outside it.  Lester has always been one of those people.  With a smile and a twinkle in his eye, I have witnessed him lead songs over a thousand times in my lifetime.  Even with illness here and there over the last few years, that has remained a constant image.  Since I've never been without that image for very long, it just doesn't compute that the song is really over.

In our very technology and media heavy world, you see skills being passed down from generation to generation less and less.  I'm so proud and thankful to have witnessed Lester's sharing of music with so many, including my children.  Just watching him lead songs and sing in their few years has begun the groundwork for many years to come.  Sometimes I think it was even without trying.  He had an enthusiasm and joy that can't be taught and you just don't see very often.  

I was telling J good night and he told me - without me even asking him - what his favorite memory of Lester was.  "I remember that time he taught me that great trick.  He would put a quarter on his elbow and then catch it.  But he would tell me to close my eyes and he would put it in my pocket!  I loved that!"  His song-leading is iconic in my mind, but even more he was a very good man.

There is so much power in your influence.  I have been so blessed by Lester's.  Don't waste yours on things that don't matter.  Use it for good. 

Friday, November 2, 2018

Balancing Diapers & Deadlines: A Lisa Tanner Writing Review

Lisa Tanner Writing
As you know, I am involved in a few personal business ventures in addition to my responsibilities as a wife, mother and home educator.  It is not a simple thing to manage all these things successfully and not burn yourself out.  Truth be told, I am still not really balancing my family and work-related things very well.  I get stuck diving into one or the other, but throwing in the towel when I try to manage both.  You can understand, then, how Balancing Diapers and Deadlines from Lisa Tanner Writing speaks to the exact place I am in.  This review came at the very time I was trying to determine a better way of incorporating work into my life without staying up all night 3 nights a week!  
Balancing Diapers and Deadlines
Balancing Diapers and Deadlines is an online course designed to walk moms through the various hurdles you encounter as an entrepreneur too.  Lisa Tanner, mom of 8, knows what it means to be busy and struggling to balance it all.  This course allows you to learn from her mistakes and feast from her 'what works' pile.   I only have 3 children, but turns out it doesn't matter that much - the hurdles are much the same.  Also, the title says diapers, but if you have strictly older children, most of it still applies.  She even has some lessons divided up by age group - babies, toddlers, middles, etc.  If you have children at home and you are also doing business from home, she has some great advice!

This summer I took an online course on freelance writing that came highly recommended.  In regards to freelance writing, it was exactly what I needed to know.   Now it is three months later and I'm still struggling to be where I want to be.  Writing itself is on the easy side of the spectrum for me (hence pursuing it), but the meshing of business tasks and household/homeschool tasks is very specific and just plain hard.  Lisa's course covers everything that I've been frustrated with.   She certainly doesn't sugarcoat trying to manage both, but the course does offer encouragement that it really is that hard while providing simple tasks and ideas to streamline and incorporate both within your day.

Throughout the course she provides printable charts and ideas designed to help you get a hold of your family management and minimize your decisions.  I knew this to be a struggle for me, but hadn't really said it out loud so she was spot on for my needs.  One of my favorite suggestions was her annual meal plan.  I have been successful with a 2 week and monthly meal plan, but I had never even considered an annual plan.  The interesting way it works is by setting a theme for each day of the week and then having 4 or 5 options under each theme.

You've heard the phrase, "Work smarter not harder," haven't you?  I have been working really really hard the past few months and I needed some help working smarter.  Balancing Diapers & Deadlines is a wonderful, realistic guide to making wiser choices and really making the balance work!  

Keep up with Lisa Tanner Writing on Social Media: 

Facebook: https://facebook.com/lisatannerwriting
Instagram: https://instagram.com/lisatannerwrites
Twitter: https://twitter.com/lisatannerwrite
Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/lisatannerwrite

Do you have only older children?  Check out some of the other reviews to see a different perspective!

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer