Way Leads On To Way: The Farewell Post

“I have promises to keep, And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.” –Frost

…and we have tons more bead crafts to do before lunch … and some group art exhibits I’d like to enter coming up real soon …and stacks of books to dive into this summer …and fall schedules to plan out …and hopefully a nice little beach vacation too.

Busy-busy! But never too busy for kid crafts! When I came across milk-plug seed bead ring crafts on Pinterest, I suddenly inhaled all the air from the room with glee! Sparkly, simple fun. And don’t get me started on plastic lid fridge magnets. I mean come on! It’s just so much fun. Hot glue, beads, creative upcycling — these are a few of my favorite things! I just wanted to share the love.

I have enjoyed sharing, indeed. I started this blog to help organize my thoughts on homeschooling, to help keep family in the loop and to share our homeschooling adventures with them (and to reassure them that I knew what I was doing and that I wasn’t totally insane!) My goal was to write for a few months to help cover some big questions, to share some ideas and focus creative efforts a bit, and then be done.

To my surprise, I have really enjoyed this experiment quite a bit (and surprised by the amount of daily blog traffic! who knew that sharing about homeschooling and creativity could be so fun and personally rewarding?!) I’ve learned so much from this online community and have found plenty of inspiration along the way.

These past few weeks of participating with homeschool conferences, reading-reading-reading and reevaluating has shifted things a bit for me — I’m swimming in choices (in a good way), redesigning our nest, creating new habits, and meeting goals/keeping promises while basically rethinking everything.

As we know, the only constant is change — and I’m someone who loves to constantly move furniture around in my life! Not to mention, there is another fresh stack of blank canvases waiting on the easel, and other projects that need my creative energy. And there’s the fact that it’s summer, and I have three kids, m’kay?

So, yes. This is me unplugging a bit more. Will I stop taking pictures? Stop journaling? Stop documenting? Never! Stop blogging? Um, yes. It has been a fun, creative project that has brought some clarity and plenty of satisfaction. It has certainly brought distraction and/or focus to my lunchtimes/coffee breaks/late night insomnia time, for sure!

I’m pulling the plug in order to help reduce distractions and to be more present throughout the day, to turn down the noise a bit more, to just say no to possibly hijacking a family activity as blog fodder. And to quiet that crazy voice in my head that squeaks, “hey! I should blog this!” 

I recently quit Facebook for good too, actually going all the way and deleting, unfriending, purging… the whole nine yards. It was easier than I thought it would be to unplug a bit more. Un- can be a wonderful place to be. 

Before I log off for good, I want to share one more artsy-craftsy obsession for the summer. Like everything else, this is nothing new – I’m sure I ran across this at art camp or back in kindergarten. But it’s one of those kid classics that must be shared and re-shared because it is so fun and easy and safe and creative and as inexpensive as you want it to be…

Block printing/stamping from foam meat trays. Hurray!

Confession: we bought some new foam trays because I’m a germ freak (OK, I bought a lot of them!) Just trim away the raised edges of the foam tray so you are left with a flat plate, use a pencil to make your drawing or design, use a brayer to roll out the ink, and then pull some prints!

Just set out the materials and let the creativity flow. We now have a gallery of amazing prints — this is also great for notecards/personal stationery.

The kids can get quite a few prints out of one foam plate before your drawing begins to lose some definition because the foam is so soft. But unlike using linoleum blocks or woodcuts for block printing, this method is super fast and completely safe for little fingers.

When we ran out of the more expensive block printing ink, we inked the plate with thick acrylic paint and it worked OK, with some trial and error. We even experimented with liquid watercolors mixed with some white glue to help thicken it! Whatever works!

It’s so safe even your youngest abstract artist can get in on the action. Three cheers for addictive, easy, satisfying art projects.

To my readers I want to say thank you for visiting with me. It has been a pleasure. And now I’m going to go join the Wii Party game with the kids. Without a camera in hand!

Best wishes for a happy summer — and a hearty Godspeed.

Posted in Art Projects for Kids, Homeschool, Parenting | 5 Comments

Learning Happens

“Learning never exhausts the mind.” -Leonardo da Vinci

We’ve been sick for nearly the entire month of May. Exhaustion and body aches took their toll. Which means that there has been a ton of laundry backed up and plenty of late nights with extra baths and snuggles and hugs. And tissues. Our idea of a grand time was to play on the front porch for a few minutes… with ice cubes. It was actually so fun that we did it almost every day.

Luckily, we now feel human again. The sore throats are gone, the sofa-mountain of clean laundry grows taller each day, and counters/remotes/phones/the keyboard and mouse/door handles have all been disinfected. Ahh! There are tiny beads and crafting remnants all over the floor, but at least it’s a sanitized floor.

Through all this viral crud, we have carried on — although I’m sorta waiting for the authorities to come lecture me for the excessive amount of screen time our kids have enjoyed over the past few weeks. No worries, their minds haven’t turned to mush. We’ve learned quite a lot actually. We learned about Ireland and Japan, about how to escape a car that has crashed into a body of water, about how to cook the best chowder. We’ve watched tons of old classic movies — Singing in the Rain is still our favorite. And I’m proud to say that the kids have now discovered The Muppet Show. I grew up with Piiiigs iiiin Spaaaace, and Beaker, and Waldorf & Statler (those awesome old hecklers in the balcony) and I’m loving that I get to watch it all over again — we are addicted.

There has been so much Lego work…

and baby praying mantes all over our front porch! (ooh, nature study)

I need to disinfect the camera too because someone snagged it for some photoshoots.

As always, there will be art. Not even body aches and fever could stop creativity.

They painted, and painted…

They even made some cool stuff — I am so proud of these stuffies!

I have learned something this week. If you leave them alone, they will still open a book. They will do their own experiments. Again, there will be plenty of Lego builds.

They will spell. And yes, even math happened on the computer — without me asking. Violin practice needed reminders, but math actually just happened. Well now.

Posted in Homeschool | Leave a comment

More Ice, Please!

Continued throat ick, grumpy sluggish kiddos, snotty noses, but no more fever! We’re all getting a bit stir-crazy around here with yet another sick day. I’m still not 100% back yet either — laryngitis is making it hard to enjoy a simple read-aloud together. Enter Sparkle Stories! So glad to find this lovely resource (what took me so long?!) The kids had perma-grin the whole time they listened today. Everything just kind of slowed down. Quietude. Magic. Ahhh.

Speaking of sparkly things…

Yes, we’ve been stir-crazy. I’ve also been running low on movies and popsicles, and ideas. So sending thanks to one awesome Fishy for the inspiration to freeze huge blocks of ice. Simple fun. It got us outside for a bit of fresh air over the past few days, and it released some creative energy. They had fun. With ice.

It turned out to be a sparkly couple of days after all. Ice and storytelling — it’s starting to feel a bit like summer. Now if we could just get rid of this flu!

Posted in Crafts for Kids, Homeschool, Kids | 2 Comments

The Merry Month of May

“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” –Thích Nhất Hạnh

Last week at our house: colorful blooms after the rain. It was like an azalea festival in our own front yard!

Posted in Garden | Leave a comment

Nothing says Edupunk like a Duct Tape Hat

:: a few rolls of Duck Tape patterns/colors + scissors + reference hat ::

Q: What does an average homeschool sick day look like around here?
A: Lots of water, soup & crackers, PBS Kids cartoons, our bed full of warm quilts (and snotty kids), tissues, one good read-aloud book, and a DIY duct tape hat project!

Voila! one pink pageboy hat, and one short-brim bucket hat with skulls. I need a nap.

Posted in Crafts for Kids, Homeschool | 2 Comments

Happy Mother’s Day

Posted in Homeschool | Leave a comment

Kids in the Kitchen

We love watching Food Network’s Chopped. We also have cooking-crushes on Alton Brown (the kids) and Tyler Florence (moi), but I’ll save that for another post. Basically, the kids are very interested in all things kitchen these days. We went to the grocery store together this week and picked out a bunch of ingredients and had some fun.

Rice paper wrappers for fresh spring rolls. We can’t wait for our basil to grow — I think kid-made spring rolls with peanut sauce will be a new summer favorite around here!

While I do like to bake, and I can throw together a delicious meal when I need to, it is not where I find my joy. So I plan on nurturing the kids’ interest in the kitchen with the hopes that they will help pitch in with the ever-present “what’s for dinner?” question. We’ve got breakfast down pat, and lunch is often a muffin-tin-meal/monkey-platter of nibbles, or soup/sandwich, or our favorite: chicken-lettuce-ranch-hummus wraps. For something new, we made stuffed grape leaves together! Yum!

Gone are the days of my super-picky eaters. So while they are showing interest, I will gladly indulge them — cooking and laughing together in the kitchen definitely makes for a good recipe!

Posted in Homeschool, Kids | Leave a comment