with one week of preschool at home under our belts i can say with conviction that it flowed rather smoothly, after a few bumps of course! after a several weeks of researching multiple methods on how to teach little learners i chose to just jump right in and come what may.
i started our week using a timed method which proved to be pretty horrid thus short lived. i found that keeping such a ridged schedule was not allowing stella to be the most creative nor the most thorough in her learning process. this method sounded great because i am a big time planner and enjoy having things all mapped out. it suggested we set a timer and do a variety of twenty minute activities or lessons through a two or three hour span. while it sounded all and good, i would find that stella would get really interested in a particular task and i could not bear to end her fun and engagement. this approach relied on the research that little kids have short attention spans therefore we must cater to that in order to achieve the best results. blah. so after two days of giving that a go, we threw it out the window and started anew.
our new "schedule" but i prefer to say rhythm because that's more accurate, went a bit like this: early mornings with me sipping a big mug of coffee while stella and theodore munch on cheerios. as soon as he goes down for his morning nap which is usually around nine thirty we tip toe up to the loft for school.
per request of stella, we begin with music. it's cheerful and interactive and silly. after writing what content we will be covering on our chalkboard (i.e. number and letter for the week) we dive into our first lesson, letting her choose the area of content. she can pick between doing the numbers, letters, shapes & colors, art project, reading with mom, or puzzle time. this week we've been focusing on the letter "A" so i prepared a lot of fun activities to help her learn to recognize it, write it, trace it and color it. she has painted acorns and apples and alligators and using the handwriting without tears curriculum has learned how to write both uppercase and lowercase "A's". so far, i am very pleased with what we have ordered.
all of our mini lessons for the day correspond to a particular letter and number for that week. stella knows her colors and shapes pretty well so we do those together. regarding reading time, i let her choose a book or two and we snuggle in a read, talking about the plot and character motivation and the illustrations that go along with it. for her art project we use different mediums to link to something we have learned that day. if stella wants to do her art project first, she will create (via my instruction and example) a review project focusing on material we covered the previous day. if we just read a book about space, she can can create something connecting to that.
this is the part of homeschooling that i love. being a former teacher i am pretty good at thinking on my feet and coming up with activities and connecting lessons on the spot. it is something i enjoy doing. i feel that by making each piece of our preschool puzzle meaningful, stella is really getting the most out of the few hours a day we devote to preschool.
this less ridged and more choice-based method of learning alines with the montessori to approach education. we decided that stella should be able to navigate what she wants to do first and so on and so forth, spending an appropriate amount of time on said lesson overseen by me. we did this for three days and eased into a comfortable rhythm. as teacher and student, we listened to what felt good and right, talked about it together, and went with it. being that i have only homeschooled for one week and have much to learn, i foresee many challenges, triumphs, and bumps ahead in our path. that being said, i am welcoming them with grace and reminding myself that patience is going to help me tremendously in my endeavors.
if you, like myself, have reached that point in your summer where ripening, split tomatoes and bright, spicy chilies are making homes on various shelves and sills and in wooden bowls on countertops you are probably in need of a few recipes.
last year i preserved bit of our summer by buying heirloom varietals at our local market, turning them into salsas and pasta sauces. this i made a bbq sauce and a jam and the vegetables to do so, minus a few yellow peppers, are from our very first backyard garden.
there is something pretty spectacular about popping open a sealed jar in the dead of winter to take you back to those long summer days. that is my favorite part of preserving, the nostalgia it ushers forth with the crisp opening of each jar weeks even months down the road, when your spirits are in need of lifting and a reminder of warmth and fireflies and pool days lies around the corner in one's pantry.
2 pounds of tomatoes
1/2 pound of chili peppers
1 1/4 cup of sugar
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon calcium water
1 teaspoon pectin
to prepare, peel, core and chop the tomatoes. remove the stems and seeds from the chilies and dice them finely. combine the tomatoes, chilies, one cup of sugar, and vinegar in a non-reactive saucepan. bring to a boil and reduce for twenty minutes. add the calcium water. in a small bowl combine the rest of the sugar and pectin, stir this into the jam and return to a boil to dissolve the sugar. remove from heat and let sit for five minutes.
to preserve, process for ten minutes using boiling water method. i would eat this with smeared atop cornbread or slathered on grilled toast with ricotta cheese.
charred chili bbq sauce
1 pound of chili peppers
5 pounds of tomatoes
1 pound of yellow onions
2 cups of brown sugar
1 cup of cider vinegar
2 garlic cloves minced
1 tablespoon allspice
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
to prepare, char the chilies in the oven or on the grill. roughly chop them and then peel, core, and chop the tomatoes. combine all ingredients in non reactive sauce pan and bring to a boil. reduce the heat and simmer for two hours. puree with a stick blender.
to preserve, process for twenty minutes using boiling water method. i would put this on anything, honestly.
*all recipes are taken and mildly adapted from the book put em' up!
"a portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2014."
theodore: this here toothbrush has become quite the distraction and has let me fold multiple loads of laundry and a few bouts of dishes.
“when life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate.
and when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”
our family is in a lingering season where we are being showered with goodness. i am not telling you this to boast or to somehow make you feel as though we always have it together. i say this with sincere and honest gratitude because our lives aren't always as such. life is really messy sometimes. it can hurt. let's just be clear about that. however, what i am discovering through my own circumstances is that life moves like the ocean tide, ebbing and flowing in a constant rhythm. some seasons for learning, discovering, settling in, and others for dealing with the hard stuff. the length of those seasons is always unclear for we are not in charge of that clock.
andrew and i have recently moved past a bout of hard stuff in our lives. we doing our best to fully appreciate how easily everything is flowing for us right now with hopes to make it last as long as possible because just like every other family in the world we too have our slumps and sorrows. please know this, that everyone who chooses to document their lives also chooses with what lens they want you to perceive theirs. it is as simple as that. and while we all view other mothers and families and see endless triumph upon triumph in their lives, lagging in the shadows or in seasons of their past is hurt, rejection, and sadness. because as human beings we are nowhere near perfect. we are always striving and that is okay.
there indeed are days and sometimes weeks that are altogether foggy and frustrating for my husband and i; we navigated the rough and unpredictable waters of selling our last home and buying this one. without getting into specifics, it was in those times i leaned rather heavily on god and prayed and reflected and hoped and cried and ate a lot of ice cream sundaes. we felt lost and alone and exhausted. it wasn't a time that i felt like sharing with the world. instead, i felt like retreating and hunkering down until the storm would pass, although each day felt like a year and the words "in god's time" made me shutter because i wanted my life to operate on my own time and not his. and then, just as i knew he would deep down and because everyone else was telling me, god sent out the sunshine for our family and has had it cast upon us for some time now. so i am not boasting here but rather celebrating and sharing a story with you because i think it is good to do so. joy breads joy and the more we reflect on the goodness in our lives i feel more of it can be cultivated. there is just so much sadness and tragedy and ugly comparison out there, so why not fill our reflecting with positives and share it?
so a story. i did a woman's bible study awhile back and there was one evening in particular that i found myself sitting around a table full of very candid and kind women sharing what it was in their life they needed help with. specifics they need us other woman to pray for. various things in need of fixing, if you will.
i remember sinking back in that hard metal chair in the church basement thinking literally nothing and feeling really guilty about it. my mind was void of all thought except one rising emotion: guilt. one woman spoke up and told us she needed prayers after a miscarriage and another for a fight she was having with a coworker and another to help with the loss of her father in law. i took to paper and wrote down their prayers all the while trying to come up with something negative in my life to have them consider for prayer. it came to my turn and i regrettably turned a small, insignificant issue into something big to feel included by them. i don't even remember what it was i said. in that moment, at that precise time on a snowy tuesday evening, there was just nothing bad going on in my life. ironically, shame welled up inside me because i did not want to seem smug or have these woman think "oh, well she must have it all together" because that is far from the case. gosh, in looking back, i should have had them pray for my guilty conscience!
i walked away from that meeting searching for something, anything, that needed fixing. i actively sought out and nitpicked negativity in my life and reflected on it for some time in the car before heading home. i remember thinking, was it wrong that i had nothing for them to pray for? it seems so silly in retrospect but i can honestly say i felt ridiculous sitting among these soulful, sharing woman with nothing to contribute. little did i know that i would be needing support and prayers a few weeks later when we would be entering into the situation of putting our house on the market and trying to buy a new one and the toils and stress that go along with moving with little bitty babies. if we had had that same conversation in that church basement a just a few weeks later i am certain i would have been crying to these woman asking them to help me, to give me comfort, to guide me, and to remind me that god is going to help our family get through this difficult time.
when going through this closing of our home i looked back on the time i spent shaming myself during that evening of woman's group for not having something in my life that was going awry. i remember siting in my in-laws spare bedroom one day without a home to call my own thinking about what an utter waste of energy i had expended in that season of goodness when my life was without worry.
that time of despair taught me something: when things are good and when they are flowing in the right direction celebrate it. i promised myself that i will use that energy to give and help others, to wake up and soak in the day, to relish in all the goodness surrounding me. to give thanks to god and lean on him in those moments too.
to put a bow around this thought, i am learning that it is important to really recognize and savor the moments in life that are good and beautiful. i feel there are far too many times that we do our reflecting when things are not so sunny and when we could use help in mending our sorrows. as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and friend, i am doing my best to keep this in perspective.