Monday, February 28, 2011

Homeschool vs. Private School, Part 1

I've gotten bored with the decorating projects. I've decided to just wait until we move (12DAYS!!) and then reveal all the projects in person. So much more interesting that way! So on to a new topic, our schooling decision.

Background information on why we are debating:
This question has been at the forefront of my prayers for the last few months. Although this past year or so was a wonderful year with my children (and husband), it has been a difficult one for me personally. Although rich and redeeming, this year has been full of trials. And to be completely honest, I have questioned my ability to homeschool once we move. I have been trying to step back and take an honest look at why I have been so overwhelmed. And I have been asking the Lord to reveal what He wants me to do. Because there is a difference between discerning His calling and persevering in faith vs. stubbornly digging my heels in and missing His leading. Here is why I have struggled, and then our conclusion for the kids' educational future.

I have been a parent for over 10 years. So far in that journey, my family has lived in a different state than the rest of our family. (Both sets of our parents, both brothers and their wives along with our nieces and nephews, and even all of our aunts, uncles, and cousins all live in the same area.) The distance, along with various health issues and work schedules of our extended family, has lead to very few breaks from taking care of our little ones. Don't get me wrong, our children have grandparents, aunts, and uncles who love them dearly and who would/have kept them when we need help. But usually we go long stretches of time before asking for that help. I only point this out because SO many homeschooling families I know have situations where their children are regularly spending an afternoon or night with family members. I know that support significantly has an impact on their stamina.

Another thing that has been a negative factor for us this past year is that we do not have neighbors to play with. This means that whenever the kids play with friends, I (or another Mom) has to orchestrate a play date or outing. It sounds like such a little thing, but it is completely different than just the natural influx of neighbors right here in our neighborhood. It means less time for me to work on things while the children play. It affects our schedule in a major way.

Also, my husband's work schedule has been such this past year that he has traveled as much as he has been at home. For me, that means a little less sleep and a lot more work. Most of his trips are for 5 days in a row. There was a 6 week stretch from September to mid-October when he was gone on the 5-day trips every week. It was a difficult way to begin the school year. I am not sure if I caught up on rest until after Christmas. And besides being exhausted, I became lonely and burned out. I was very spoiled last school year to use Tuesday evenings to venture out with friends or by myself. But this year not only did I miss that down time, I also missed almost every support group meeting due to solo-parenting. It took its toll and I found myself secretly miserable more often than I would like to remember.

Add these things to my other struggles: coming to grips with a big move, having to be a part of enrolling a family member into rehabilitation for alcoholism, and having a house on the market that needed to be clean and organized and shown to clients at the drop of a hat, and you get a feel for my daily life in 2010. It was a messy, faith-building, stretching, day-by-day challenge! And by December I felt like I NEVER WANTED TO HOMESCHOOL AGAIN! I was ready to delegate some responsibility and breathe a little. So we visited a school in the town nearby our farm. And we visited again and again. And we have prayed. A lot. And it has been a BIG decision. I think our mind is made up, but I will stop there and update soon...

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stats and projects

Here are the stats on the town where our farmhouse is:
Population: 388 (!)
Median household income: $24,692
Here are the stats for our current city:
Population: 67,562
Median household income: $40,645

It's a little terrifying, but also exciting at the same time to see the comparison. I am amazed at the differences-both positive and negative-that the size and income of a population can make. This community will be different in every way. It is one of my greatest hopes that we will be able to serve, love, and be loved for God's glory in this new, wonderful, and vastly different place! (And if you are a friend and these stats make you fearful for us, please remember a bigger town is just 20 minutes away. And the three biggest cities in Alabama are all around an hour away. And those three cities include the 3 places that we lived before moving to Georgia and many of our friends and all of our family are there!)

Back to the projects. Here's #5:
Framing a print for Lydie's room
I used some fabric from Hobby Lobby for the matte, and a frame that I found at the consignment store. I thought about painting the frame, but I decided to keep the light gold. Something about it feels cheerful and fun like the other things in her room. It will be just perfect above her new (used, but new to us) bed!
Print was from here for $22
Frame was $9.99, but I got it free because I had a credit at the store
Total: $22

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Project #4: Home-made prints

I wanted the boys' rooms to have framed verses that I have chosen for each of them. I was looking at and found some fun prints. But who wants to pay $12-$25 for a print that just has words (no artwork)? So, I used a photo editing system to make these amateur, but good-enough, prints of my own. I printed them as 8x10s on photo paper that I bought for another project. I will either frame them in frames from around the house, or just tack them to the cork strips or bulletin boards in their rooms.
Joshua's print:
Jackson's print:
Cost: FREE!

Monday, February 21, 2011

A peek at the kitchen progress and project #3

Our farmhouse kitchen when we saw it last:
The kitchen yesterday:

Now all it needs is the island, the schoolhouse pendant lights which will be hung when the island is in place, the furniture, the artwork, our junk, and us!
And lastly, project #3. More painted furniture. I found this little shelf in a walk-in closet in my Nana's house before it was sold. It was love at first sight. It was painted red/green back at our last house when the boys shared a camping-themed bedroom. I painted it the same antique white as the bedside table. Except this piece will be in Jack's room as his bedside table. It will hold his new lava lamp. :)
PS Try the new Behr premium paint. It has built in primer. The first coat covered all of the red and green, leaving obvious brush strokes. After the second coat there was no sign that it had ever been any color but white. This paint is expensive-$33 per can-but well worth the savings in time if you plan to paint a lot! Love it!

Project #2: Lydie's bedside table

My husband gave me a gift certificate to a local antique market for Christmas. I bought two things, an end table and a painting. I wish I would have taken a before picture of the table. It was white with dirt smudges and the legs had peeling paint. I sanded it and covered it with a more muted, antique white. It will be used in the farmhouse as an end table for Lydie's bedroom. Since this project is not very exciting, here's something a little more funky. This is what I bought with the rest of my gift certificate. Because after all, doesn't every farmhouse need one? (I have no idea where to put it. It would be fun in our bathroom...but a cow in the bathroom? Seems a little vulgar!?!)After:

Total cost: $45

Sunday, February 20, 2011

10 days, 10 decorating projects: DAY 1

Since I have been framing prints, shopping, painting, and sewing up a storm for our farmhouse, I decided on the title of this post. I want to record all the fun stuff here on the blog, so the title will (hopefully) hold me accountable. I feel like the last year has been a real challenge for us as we have prepared our hearts for moving, had our house on the market, been sick more than any other year in our life, and my husband has traveled so much for work. There have been A LOT of posts where I am somewhere between clinging to Jesus and feeling self-pity. I feel like a broken record. It's been a year of trials, but one that I see as GOOD and NECESSARY and full of JOY, none the less. Any how, the next 10 days I will keep it light. 10 projects, 10 days! I might throw in a quote or two, as well.

Project #1: The kitchen hutch

Total cost: $260 (hutch) + $70 (hardware)= $330 TOTAL

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Rescuer and girly pillows

Beautiful words about the One who rescues me time and time again:
"Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest."
~Matthew 11:28

"I have told you these things so that you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."
~John 16:33

"Isn't it here? The wonder? Why do I spend so much of my living hours struggling to see it? Do we truly stumble so blind that we must be affronted with blinding magnificence for our blurry soul-sight to recognize grandeur? The very same surging magnificence that cascades over our every day here...All my eyes can seem to fixate on are the splatters of disappointment across here or me."
Ann Voskamp from her book One Thousand Gifts

"In essence, there is only one thing that God asks of us- that we become men and women of prayer, people for whom God is everything and for whom God is enough. That is the root of peace. We have the peace when the gracious God is all we seek. When we start seeking something besides Him, we lose it."
~Brennan Manning

Looking forward to (hopefully) a weekend to sew and paint things for the farmhouse. I enjoyed so much this week making pillows for Lydie's bedroom. They are to be paired with a hot pink comforter with white polka dots. Very spunky, just like our girl.
What a gift to have the time to sit and create.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Farmhouse renovations: Jack's room

This week the kids' room will be painted at the farmhouse. I am so excited to be working on their rooms. The boys have shared a room since Joshua turned one! I am particularly excited to decorate a room for my oldest son because he is 10 1/2 and he is starting to want his own space. He is with his siblings 24/7 because of homeschooling and he is such a gracious brother, but I know it will be nice for him to have a place to retreat every now and then.

  • The paint color on the walls is a light blue. To add a little "flavor", there will be a thick white stripe that is painted a couple of feet from the ceiling. Inside the white stripe will be a thin navy stripe. Fun inspiration: poster of Papa from his high school rock band!
  • There is no room for a dresser, so for his folded clothes we are painting a tall file cabinet orange for him.
  • His bedspread/bedskirt are solid navy. And the sheets have green, navy, and orange thin stripes. (Target).
  • With these throw pillows (Land of Nod):

  • I MIGHT buy this rug (Target) to pull all the colors together.
  • The curtains are apple green (Target):
  • The bedside lamp is a blue and silver lava lamp.
  • I am going to paint this little drawer navy and/or white. And we will use a bookshelf we already have.
For the walls:
He was THRILLED to find the old poster of Papa (above). I think I can find a frame around the house for it. I also might frame a book jacket or two to throw in the mix. Maybe a Harry Potter book jacket or Chronicles of Narnia. I could frame dozens, he loves books so much. And I would love to find a movie poster to frame, too. The Blockbuster down the street is closing. Maybe they are giving them away?

I hope I can make a print that is similar to this one to also put in a frame on or above his desk: Also, he loves games and toys that are "vintage". So I got him this vinyl wall decal for above his desk:

His desk might get repainted, or maybe not. It currently looks like this (bright blue and messy). (And we will use his current bookshelf as well.):
He also wants a cork board. So I am either going to keep his current brown bulletin board or buy a long line of these cork strips:

And last, he requested a bean bag. So I am going to look for an orange one. I still have a few things to buy, but it is all coming together in my head. I am hoping the room reflects his favorite things:
Movies (Screenwriting):: Vintage games:: The colors blue, green, and orange::Music
Price list:
Bed/mattress: free
paint: $35
file cabinet: free (from Andy's office)
file cabinet: free (stash of spray paint)
bedspread/shams: $34
bed skirt: $19
sheets/pillowcases: $14 (on clearance)
throw pillows: $45 (shipping included)
curtains: $17/2 panels x2 windows= $34
rods: free (already have these)
lava lamp: $15
bedside table + paint: free (stash)
frames for posters/book jackets/etc: free (shop the house for what we have)
pac-man decal: $40
desk & bookshelf: free
cork board: $30-$40
bean bag: $50
Rug (?): $50
TOTAL: $365 (with rug) or $315 (without rug)

Finished product to come!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Sweet Home Alabama

HERE WE COME!! Moving day: March 12th!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Valentine party

It was a busy, fast-paced party and the thought never crossed my mind to grab the camera until after the party was over! Maybe my friends will send me some of their pictures! But here are a few of the house before we began:

The kids painted shirts using stencils and bubble wrap. The stencil options were hearts or a peace sign. I love the way the peace shirts turned out. I got this idea from Family Fun magazine several years ago and have been looking for the opportunity to use it! (In the magazine they used the bottom of a shoe to made wavy tread paint prints instead of circley bubble print like we did.) We also made Valentine cards and collected money for a gift card for Edie's family. And the kids ate goodies, exchanged Valentines, and played together (their favorite part, I think). I love hosting this group in our home. The Moms are so dear to me and the children are kind and well-mannered. They bless me. I think the day was a success!

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The pendulum swings

I was just telling my friend the other day that January was a really lonely month for me. There was a lot of ice and cold and not a whole lot on our calendar. And there were painful, long, hard trials for our family that felt so heavy. The days were sort of dreary and slow for me. With all of our time stuck at home, I felt no motivation to even open a book. In fact, the only book that I have read consistently is the Bible. And I have 5 good books collecting dust on my bedside table. Maybe this month!?
But February has already proved to be something else. People are healing, my husband is not traveling, prayers are being answered in ways that we have longed for, and the days are sunnier. I look at the calendar this month and it makes me dizzy. It is amazing how fast things can change!
Last weekend was loads of fun. The children each had a friend over for playing and a night out at the nearby pizza/arcade. And Saturday I spent the entire day sanding and repainting a hutch for the farmhouse kitchen, while the kids played baseball/rode bikes at the park with Andy. And then just because we are really strange, they decided it was a good day to dissect a frog. I am so glad I missed out. That is not my cup of tea. At all.
After church and lunch on Sunday we went to a fabulous Super Bowl Party (or as Lydie says, a Fish Bowl party). It was great fun. So much fun, in fact, that I forgot to get my camera out of my purse. And here we are already to Tuesday. The weather is cold, but sunny, so between activities the kids are enjoying being reunited with the trampoline. (January was a lonely month for it, too.) Tomorrow we host a 22 little ones at our house for a Valentine party, so I'm off to cut brownie hearts and sprinkle sugar cookies. Maybe one day I will learn to enjoy being quiet and alone more. But right now, like it or not, I adore a full calendar!

" I like living. I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, racked with sorrow, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing."

~Agatha Christie

Friday, February 04, 2011

Homeschool highlights for November-January

I really wanted to post highlights each month this school year on my blog. But after September, and October I forgot. So here are some highlights from the last few months:

Science projects (Invertebrates)
Bug models::ant farm::butterfly garden::mollusks::clay animals::tadpole
Art projects
Squanto drawing::Giant Swallowtail butterfly drawing::picture study of Dancers in Pink by Degas::Study of the life and music of Felix Mendellsohn:: colored paper snowflakes::Nativity silhouettes::turkey salt dough ornaments::Incan art with pastels::marshmallow/toothpick snowflakes

Field trips/parties

Trip to the art museum for the Dali exhibit::Cookie decorating party with our homeschool group::Thanksgiving party/Operation Christmas Child projects::Natural history museum trip::trip to see the Nutcracker::New Years Eve party::Family/Social Christmas parties::Gingerbread building contest

And the biggest theme of this winter has been laboriously learning upper level math. My sweet 4rth grader has really been stretched. Long division and multiplication have been a challenge. After almost every lesson (which takes 1-2 hours to complete) we talk about his character and what a great man he will be if he learns to work hard and push through something that is difficult for him. I have reminded him gently that Moms and Dads must do this every day to lead their families well. He told a friend of mine the other day, "Mrs. H. I do not like charcter. But it likes me and always finds a way to get to me." So for that reason, I am very thankful for math!

These past few months we have learned a lot. There have been many things going on that have competed with my time and attention. But we have been able to keep up with our school work and have had time for many enrichment activities. Looking forward to this exciting month of February! We have a lot of fun activities on our calendar!! (And SPRING is getting closer! YES!)


Yesterday after school and piano, the kids and I went here for free play:We were the only ones there, so we acted a fool. I have slide burns on both elbows. When the boys were dripping with sweat I let them take their shirts off. We were after all, the only ones there. But the manager came in and asked them to put them back on. I couldn't even play dumb like I didn't notice. It was pretty obvious.
Oh yeah, and they got in trouble for taking their socks off, too. Oh well. Then I took a wrong turn and it took us 1 hour and 45 minutes to get home. No lie. In 5 o'clock traffic, on the interstates of Atlanta, and it was sleeting with rain and snow mix. That was a challenge. But we made it home just in time for Wipeout. And I didn't have to cook (drive thru). AND we really had fun. And despite the long commute home, the kids are already asking when we can go back! I think I have decided that February is going to be chocked full of field trips. We really needed the fun!