Monday, November 24, 2014

Our Homeschool...Year 7

It's a little crazy to think that we are well on our way into our 7th year of homeschooling.
Each year we tweak what we do.  This not only makes it feel fresh and exciting, but it allows us to make changes as our needs change.

Usually on the first day of school, I have the kids fill out a sheet of paper that has things like:
My name, my age/grade, my favorite subject, my favorite food, what I'm good at, what I need to work on, etc.
This year I changed it up and presented the kids with a personalized list of their strengths.
This came to me one day last summer, and I thought it was a great way to start out the school year.  It's a way of intentionally trying to focus on what they're naturally good at and not putting so much focus on what they're not good at.
The kids loved it.
Here is how we spend our day (typically):
8-9am...breakfast and chores
Our chores (once a week unless stated otherwise):
*the kids clean the kitchen every day after breakfast
*they each get one day to take care of Coco (groom, poop duty, clean up food/water area)
*dust/sweep/vacuum main level
*clean 3 bathrooms
*laundry down and sorted
*the girls naturally keep very tidy rooms...the boy needs reminding.
(The chores around here got "real" after last years Mother's Day.  The first sign of an entitled child sends me over the edge.  I may do a special Mother's Day One Year Later post in May, if I get my kids permission.  It was not a good day.)
9-10:30am...Table Time
During this time, which is what is shown in the pictures, we:
*sing/learn a hymn (this was awkward at first but got awesome with repetition).
+we also learn about the author/date of the hymn
+we sing along to Jadon Lavik's Roots Run Deep CD
+PS...I cry during hymns
*pray (we all take a turn)
*grammar (Grammar Ace)
*Shakespeare (How to Teach your Child Shakespeare by Ken Ludwig...awesome!!!)
+ lots of other resources about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan Era.
+we have already memorized 6 passages from Shakespeare.
+my favorite part of our day
+we all grab a special drink to enjoy while studying Shakespeare
(tea, coffee, cafe au lait, chai tea, hot cocoa etc...)
From 10:30-11:30am, we head upstairs.
This is a special little nugget that we discovered last year.
My children's doors all meet up in a corner of the upstairs hallway.
And, if my children are in their rooms, in their own space, we have a lot less squirrelly behavior and a lot less of them torturing each other with the "don't touch me", "stop making that noise", "move your books over", "MJ's on the couch!", "don't look at me", "can I hold Coco now?"...you get the point.  Upstairs, they get to be in their own space, and yet we're all together.  MJ will play Lego's, and pick up his room and put his clean laundry away (if he's feeling spunky...not often).  The girls do their make-up, get dressed, make their beds, pick out outfits for upcoming events, write lists, put their laundry away, organize their closet, and/or draw.
Upstairs we:
*enjoy our current read aloud
+this year we are working through the Narnia series
*read from our science devotional by Julie von Vett
*read a missionary story
+usually from the Christian Heros Then and Now series
+I cry during awesome read alouds....the kids are good about keeping me supplied with tissues...Aslan (awesome!)...missionaries (amazing!)
Then...we head back downstairs for lunch from 11:30-12pm.
From 12-1:30pm, the kids do their independent work.  We do a 30 minute rotation for Math, Reading, and Writing.  They are all on a different subject at a different time.  That way I can help with math when needed.  This year we are doing Teaching Textbooks + Khan Academy.  The kids pick whatever book they would like to read and at this point they can write about whatever they would like.  They make lists, write letters, write to me in our mom/daughter journal, practice handwriting, write passages from their current book, write scripture verses, etc.  I'm thinking of making this a little more structured after the new year...I'd like to add in book reports.
On a good day, we do Science from 1:30-2pm.  We're doing General Science by Apologia.
That's it!  Works for us!

Don't forget...kids (and adults) are never too old to be read to!
One of the things I like best about it, is that we can discuss the books together.  Before a new day of reading, we recap (narrate) the previous days reading.  We quote our favorite passages constantly.  The other day, MJ said, "don't be such wet blanket", which is from Narnia...made me LOL!  The other one that I say that drives my kids crazy is, "Look where a ____ could be and where a _____ couldn't possibly be!".  A phrase for when something is lost from the awesome book The Wheel on the School by Meindert DeJong.
None of my kids are voracious readers.  30 minutes a day is enough for them, though Lucy will read for hours before bed, but not at other times during the day (like me).  So, this is the only way for us all to enjoy the same books!
I also read to Matt several times a year.  He doesn't enjoy reading and there are some things that I just need him to hear.  He humors me, and sometimes starts to snore (for real), but I give him a little shove and we continue.

Read a book to someone you love!
And...don't forget to be thankful this week and always!
Happy Thanksgiving!

XOXO Tiffany

"Contentment is hard, and hard things take practice."
Enough by Kate Conner

Sunday, November 16, 2014

How to make Taco Bowls!

My neighbor friends and I used to go to ScrapMania at Archiver's, back when they were still in business.
For $15, you could haul in all your scrapbooking gear and hang out from 5-11pm.
They provided candy, snacks, drinks, and dinner!  Not to mention drawings for free give-aways.
We loved it because we could have a mom's night out, while still being productive.
One of my favorite dinners that they catered in was from Byerly's.
Taco Bowls!  Mmmmm.
I even bought a tray of Byerly's taco bowls once when I hosted book club.  They're so good!
Then, a friend of mine made them at home!  I've been making them at home ever since.

If you are a Costco member, or know one, you should really get these Tortilla Land uncooked tortillas.  For like $8, you get 50 tortillas.  You crisp them up on a skillet.  It only takes like 2 minutes.
They are warm and crispy and chewy...so good!
To make the Taco Bowls...
take an uncooked tortilla, pierce it several times with a fork, and drape it over a mason jar.
Place the mason jars on a cookie sheet.  You can fit about 6 jars on the pan.
Put them in the oven at 375 degrees for 12 minutes.  I turn the pan halfway through the cooking.
Pull them out and let them cool for a few minutes on the mason jar.  The cooling process helps them release from the jar.  Then, wiggle them off the jar and fill with your favorite taco ingredients!
These can be made up in advance for easy entertaining.
5 puffy tortilla bowls ready to be filled!
For a vegetarian taco bowl...
I cook up a couple of cups of bulgur and season it up.
You cook it like you would rice, and it looks like ground beef.
I add chopped onion, and a sprinkle of cumin and chili powder.
Mix it up and enjoy your vegetarian taco meat!
Other toppings include:
shredded lettuce, tomatoes, chopped pepper and jalapeno, corn, salsa, and sour cream.
Enjoy your taco bowls!

A fun kitchen tip...
If you happen to find yourself with some extra sweetened condensed milk this holiday season (I had a half can leftover from some pumpkin spice latte's that I made), you might consider adding a heaping tablespoon + a sprinkle of cinnamon to your coffee!

A little update...I plan on discontinuing the email option on my blog.  I've changed my Tiffany Layne Fashion Facebook Page, which used to be used for my sewing business, into my personal blog page.  So, you can go to Facebook and "like" my Tiffany Layne Fashion page and all my new blog posts will show up as a link on Facebook.  The emails will still come out until December 31, 2014.

And another update...I got asked to Guest Post on a blog!!!
More details on that to come.

And lastly (will this post ever end?)...
if you know a teen...give them a squeeze!
While the teen years have always had their challenges, today's teens are handling phones, texting, social media etc., and this offers new challenges all their own!
Bless those little sweeties.

Have a great week!

XOXO Tiffany

"Telling the truth about how you feel is good.  Good and honest and brave."
Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

Monday, November 10, 2014

From the Sewing Room

Today is a Snow Day!!!
It started snowing around 4am and all the schools have been cancelled, including the Miller Homeschool!  I LOVE when it snows.  It's exciting and pretty.  I try to cancel all plans.  I turn on the fireplace, light my candle and bake something.  Today it was banana muffins.  We pulled out the Christmas DVD's (the kids watched Christmas with the Kranks...a classic) and played some Christmas music.

I have been very intentional about making time for my sewing room lately.
It seems to start on Friday night.
We are in a "season" where our Friday nights are spent at home.  Which I love.
So, after we put all our "school" stuff away, pick up the house, have dinner, and clean up the kitchen...I pull out a sewing project.  My focus has been one "design" per month.
So, at the beginning of September, I decided to use up all of my fleece and make
Fleece Neck Gators.
I have been selling these on our local Facebook Garage Sale site as well as in my Etsy shop.
For October, I decided to make Hot Rice/Lavender Bags out of some flannel that I had purchased last year.  I have been selling these in the same two places.
If you want to make a Rice Bag of your own...my instructions from last year are here.
This year I just added 1/3 cup of lavender and changed the dimensions to 7 x 16".
I had a whole storage tub of fleece!
Whatever I don't sell or give away by January 1st, I'll donate.
If you want to make your own...
Just cut a piece of fleece in a 10 x 21" rectangle.
Be sure that the long edge goes with the stretch!  That way it stretches as you pull it over your head.
Stitch the seam right sides together and then top stitch it for reinforcement.
I also worked on a pattern for a little top out of some of my favorite black fabric.
It turned out OK.  I need to do some tweaks to it, but I will still wear it as is and I'll snap a photo once I do.  
I was brainstorming what I wanted to work on for November...
I decided on Upcycled Sweater Infinity Scarves.
I made two on Friday night with sweaters from around our house...hee hee.
I hope nobody misses them.
I'm on the hunt for more sweaters, and when I find them, I'll be cutting and sewing like crazy!
Hoping to list a batch of those by December 1st.
I also did a fun little project with one of Matt's old flannel shirts.
I got two outfits out of it that I'll show you next month.
One of the outfits got rave reviews...
and one of the outfits got looks and no comments.  I don't think that one went over as well.
I may wear that outfit again and see how it goes...we'll see.
I'll share those photos next month!

Be looking for my next post later this week...a fun recipe!

Comments are welcome...

XOXO Tiffany

"I looked at the small luminous face of the orchid for help, but like all orchids, she was entirely self-involved, enwrapped in her own beauty."  Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos

Saturday, November 1, 2014

November Shelfie

I've been having a hard time finding time to read lately!
I finished 5 books last month, but didn't make my goal of chapter 30 in Wives and Daughters.
I'm so excited about my book pics this month!

Here they are:
1.  Family...The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma
2.  Book Club...Love Walked In by Marisa De Los Santos
3.  Classic...Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
4.  Biography/Read Aloud...Brother Andrew by Janet & Geoff Benge
5.  Read Aloud...The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis (Narnia Book 4)

Can't wait to dig into these books!
Let me know what your all-time favorite book is!
Next week I'm planning to show you all the things I've been working on in my Sewing Room!
Feel free to take a peek at my Etsy shop!
I'm hoping to add new items every month.

XOXO Tiffany

"Mrs. Whetstra bustled around making coffee and buttering buns..."
Brother Andrew by Janet & Geoff Benge