Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Unschooling?! ~ Grace for Overwhelmed Homeschooling Mothers

When I first started homeschooling, I read dozens of books on curriculums and teaching styles. I couldn't get enough of them! The main ones that excited my home education appetite was the unit study style of teaching along with the Charlotte Mason ideas. In the end, both were incorporated to create our eclectic style of home education. Surprisingly, it was the book on "un-schooling" that impacted me most. Though my task oriented character wasn't complimentary to this concept, I gleaned much from the book though I never "purposely" apply its concepts. For what it did do, was relieve my anxiety during those "life gets crazy" days!

Note: If you are unfamiliar with un-schooling, it is basically a child led education (you can read more about it here and keep in mind it is different to each parent). I will be sharing my version of un-schooling. 

Oftentimes, there are days (and sometimes weeks and even months!) throughout the year that emergencies come up, sicknesses occur, your extended family needs you, you are in the middle of a move, you have 50 bushels of apples to preserve, your husband needs your help in the family business, friends and family need assistance and the list goes on... and the list goes on!

What is a homeschooling mother to do?

Should she fret and give up her goals of home education every time life throws a curve ball? Should she be overwhelmed and burdened when she can't keep up with her homeschooling schedule? Should she just throw in the towel?

No, what was once important is still important. The reasons you decided to home educate are still valid. We just need to change our thinking during those times. This is where your "un-schooling" insurance comes in!

“An alarming number of parents appear to have little confidence in their ability to "teach" their children. We should help parents understand the overriding importance of incidental teaching in the context of warm, consistent companionship. Such caring is usually the greatest teaching, especially if caring means sharing in the activites of the home.”
~ Raymond S. Moore, School Can Wait

You can have peace of mind that your child is still being educated on those days, it is just a different type of learning, a practical learning experience or even a creative one! Here are some examples of how this could go via my version of un-schooling:

When those buckets of produce are staring at you to preserve, and you need to enlist those extra helping hands, you can consider that whole day "home economics" in your homeschooling schedule.

If you are needed to care for a family member during an illness, have your children help! They are learning valuable biblical lessons of carrying each others burdens. The children can assist you in making meals, serving beverages, singing songs to the patient, reading to the patient and offering up prayers. If you have older children, have them research the illness you are dealing with so they can offer suggestions, menus and ideas to make the patient more comfortable. You have potentially done home economics, Bible (character building) and science (health) that day.

“Education is not confined to books, and the finest characters often graduate from no college, but make experience their master, and life their book. [Some care] only for the mental culture, and [are] in danger of over-studying, under the delusion . . . that learning must be had at all costs, forgetting that health and real wisdom are better.”
~ Louisa May Alcott, Jo's Boys

If your husband decides to take you all to the lake for the week, do not fret! You can call that time a "family field trip". Some other areas of study would be "science" since the waters are full of marine life and critters. Taking little opportunities along the way to share and observe can transform many an outing into a nature study. If your children spend the week swimming their hearts out, you could include "physical education" in your daily homeschool log.

When I needed to start packing for a major cross-country move (and had to sell off 1/3 of our household goods), I had a stack of audio books that were listened to while my laundry was being folded, cheese for dinner was being shredded and produce was cut into salads, etc (anything that helped me to pack and sell so that life could continue was done while listening to audio books). If the book was Heidi, I would consider it "geography" and "language arts" for the day. I would give oral assignments such as, "please bring the globe and locate Switzerland and Germany for me" or any cities mentioned in the book (geography). I would implement narration by asking what each chapter was about as we listened (language arts). Our Around the World Cookbook was brought out and meals were prepared for me based on the country we were focusing on (home economics). On the weekends, we would watch movies located in Switzerland or based on the books we read. It was a busy time but school was being done the best way we could!

If your child is sick in bed, they could still have perfect attendance. If you are allowing them the privilege of watching something of worth for either historical, science or character building content, you can call that day spent learning in bed "history" or "science" in your homeschooling schedule. I think you get the point.

Obviously, older students can still do the basics (reading, writing, arithmetic) if your curriculum and schedule allows and they could also help the younger ones when they are finished to do theirs. I also purchase special independent workbooks for times such as these. Our favorites are the Queen Homeschool curriculums (think Charlotte Mason style workbooks!). When life gets crazy, I pull them out.

Discovering Nature and Science Series

"Written directly to the child, our courses need no teacher's manual, and allow both parent and child to develop interests outside of school time, as well as having the time to pursue them."

I have also noticed that once "school" is over for the day, what continues to happen in our home is still education! I see encyclopedias opened (to Rococo Art on one occasion!?), I see a birdwatching notebook being created, animal husbandry books being read and applied in the back yard, meals being made, desserts being baked, little frocks being sewn for little ones, embroidering, painting, drawing, writing of novels, crafting, reading, reading and more reading!

Note: I hate to be the bearer of bad news (or upset anyone) but I must speak plainly. If you keep a no TV schedule these activities shared above will take place. Leaving your child in front of the television all day long is not educational even if the programs are all educational. Although an occasional movie has its place, it is certainly not a replacement for reading, exploring, creativity, playtime and other childhood activities that encourage learning and development. Yes, it may be "the" answer for a few days but please don't make it a habit.

The most important lesson (for mother and children) to learn while homeschooling is that life isn't perfect and smooth! Our children need to understand that we need to roll with the punches. Plans change, things come up and learning how to modify our schedules is also an important lesson to learn. It teaches flexibility (for mother and children). Life doesn't revolve around the homeschool, rather, homeschool revolves around life. That is true education for the real world.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life..."

I hope this has alleviated some stress and anxiety for those of you going through different situations. I will leave you with a true story to inspire.  Michael Smith (an attorney from the HSLDA) told it at a homeschool convention and I constantly fall back on his words when the going gets tough. There was a woman who had to take off the homeschooling year in order to care for a sick parent. She was very regimented in her homeschool and the time "off" was a great trial to her orderly character. When the children started school again formally the following year, she had them tested to see how many grades they had fallen back during their "educational absence". What she found was that each child had progressed to the next year! They had already learned how to learn and were continuing their education even when she was not able to be a "teacher". I hope this encourages you as it did me. While I am not suggesting that you purposely abandon your homeschool schedule and curriculum, I do hope this offered some grace during those difficult days.

For more home education posts, visit here.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

What to Do and Make With All Your Lovely Lavender {DIY List}

"If you could choose only one herb for household use, lavender would have to be at the top of the list. Apart from its pretty flower and much loved scent, lavender is antibacterial, antibiotic, antiviral, antiseptic, deodorizing and insect repelling, which means that you can use it in the living room, kitchen, bathroom, laundry, nursery and patio, as well as in your wardrobes and drawers, on your pets and on your skin." 

If you have read this blog for some time, you already know that lavender, with its variety of uses, is one of my favorite plants. Though its water was prized in the Regency Era (Jane Austen wrote of lavender water in her novels and referred to it in her letters), it was Queen Victoria who popularized this amazing flower as a homemaking necessity. She had her rooms perfumed with it and even appointed a Miss Sarah Sprules as “Purveyor of Lavender Essence to the Queen”!

“It is generally known that the Queen is a great believer in Lavender as a disinfectant, and that she is not at all singular in her faith in this plant… The royal residences are strongly impregnated with the refreshing odour of this old-fashioned flower, and there is no perfume that the Queen likes better than Lavender-water, which, together with the oil for disinfecting purposes, Her Majesty has direct from a lady who distills it herself.”
~ Fragrant Flowers, 1895

And the romantic, natural, modern-day homemaker? I suggest you embrace it to its fullest capacity! Here are some wonderful ways that we use lavender in our household and for gift giving. We will be sharing more ideas in the future since there are so many enjoyable things to do and make with this heavenly herb! {Note: If you don't have a lavender plant, you can always purchase flower buds here.}

{all titles are linked}

“The air was fragrant with a thousand trodden aromatic herbs,
with fields of lavender,
and with the brightest roses blushing in tufts all over the meadows...” 
~William Cullen Bryant

This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdaysRoses of InspirationTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays, Wildcrafting WednesdayCoffee and ConversationSo Much at HomeHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeHearts for Home ThursdaysHome Acre HopGrowing in Grace ThursdaysFrom the Farm Blog HopFarmgirl FridayFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpSimply Natural Saturdays, The Tip Garden and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. Lavender image was found here.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Stain Remover Spray {DIY} ~ A Tiggy-winkle Tutorial

"Then she took something else off a clothes-horse— "That isn't my pinny?" said Lucie. "Oh no, if you please'm; that's a damask table-cloth belonging to Jenny Wren; look how it's stained with currant wine!
 It's very bad to wash!" said Mrs. Tiggy-winkle."
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-winkle by Beatrix Potter

Ah, the sorrow of stains in the laundry! No one understands that better than our dear washer-woman, Mrs. Tiggy-winkle. However, she does not fret my friends, for she knows how to make her own frugal stain remover!

If you please'm, all you need is some water, dish soap, liquid glycerin and essential oils (the essential oils are optional but helpful). Liquid glycerin can often be found in the health/body care aisle in most markets or it can be purchased online.

Either lemon or eucalyptus oils are chosen specifically for this easy project because of their stain removing abilities. I often use lemon in our household recipes when acceptable because it is a less expensive oil.

Simply mix together 1/4 cup of dish soap (Dawn is preferred), 1/4 cup of liquid glycerin, 1 1/2 cups of water and pour into a spray bottle. Optional: add 8 drops of lemon or eucalyptus essential oil to the final product. Use like you would any stain remover spray. This recipe was adapted from Clean House, Clean Planet by Karen Logan.

Here is also a printable stain remover chart that may be helpful to have on hand (per Mrs. Tiggy-winkle of course).

"If at all possible, it's best to treat spills and stains on washable garments immediately --while the stains are fresh and before they dry. The more quickly you treat a stain, the less likely it is to set... Blot liquid stains with a clean white, lint-free cloth or paper towel. Gently scrape or brush off excess solids, if there are any. Avoid excessive rubbing, as it may spread the stain or damage delicate fabrics... After pretreating and washing a stained item, always check to make sure the stain has been removed before putting the item in the dryer. Dryer heat can permanently set some stains. If the stain remains, pretreat and wash again."
~ Donna Smallin, Cleaning Plain and Simple

"Lily-white and clean, oh!
With little frills between, oh!
Smooth and hot—red rusty spot
Never here be seen, oh!"
Mrs. Tiggy-winkle's Wash Day Song by Beatrix Potter


We are also sharing our label for the stain remover spray (feel free to copy). If you enjoyed this tutorial, you may be interested in making Mrs. Tiggy-winkle's spray starch or her handkerchief tutorial. For more Beatrix Potter inspired projects, visit here (if you please 'm)! Thank you for joining us for another week of "Fun Friday" this spring! Have a lovely day.


This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The ScoopTitus 2sdaysTitus 2 TuesdaysRoses of InspirationTuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays, Wildcrafting WednesdayCoffee and ConversationSo Much at HomeHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeHearts for Home ThursdaysHome Acre HopGrowing in Grace ThursdaysFrom the Farm Blog HopFarmgirl FridayFront Porch Friday Blog HopAwesome Life Friday Link UpSimply Natural Saturdays and Clever Chicks Blog Hop. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. Illustrations are by Beatrix Potter.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Laundry {Life} Lessons for Wives with Abigail Adams

“Discretion shall preserve thee, understanding shall keep thee…”
 ~ Proverbs 2:11

Did you know that Abigail Adams used the "unfinished" East Room of the White House to hang her husband’s freshly washed clothes? As President, she felt his laundry shouldn’t be exposed for everyone to see. This showed a deep respect for her husband and a lot about her discerning and devoted character. She once said of her spouse, “When he is wounded, I bleed.” What love, what affection, what passion!

Abigail Adams and granddaughter Susanna watch as a servant hangs laundry in the East Room– by Gordon Phillips
In a society where many women share intimate information about their marital relationships via the internet and telephone, etc., I think our foremothers would be greatly distressed. In modern language, we call it being “transparent” or "venting" but the old fashioned upbringing of Abigail Adams might insist that we are “airing out the laundry”!

“… remember that you are accountable to your Maker for all your words and actions.”
~ Abigail Adams: Her Letters

The Bible teaches to confess our sins one to another and to pray for one another (James 5:16). However, it doesn’t write that we should be confessing other people’s sins, one to another, especially not our husband’s! Irritations and bad habits are also uncomely subjects to share. A godly wife will seek to preserve the character of her beloved (Ephesians 5:33).

“As a jewel of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a fair woman which is without discretion.”
~ Proverbs 11:22

There are instances when a woman does need to speak up (domestic violence, danger to children, etc.). This is where church elders and civil authorities should be turned to for support and guidance. However, in other circumstances, to share with the world all his defects will only create a heart of distrust. This is the exact opposite of what a Proverbs 31 wife would desire to do, for a wise woman builds up her home (Proverbs 14:1)!

"He trusts in her conduct, that she will speak in all companies, and act in all affairs, with prudence and discretion, so as not to occasion him either damage or reproach."
~ Matthew Henry's Commentary

“A gracious woman retaineth honor .” ~ Proverbs 11:16a

If you feel a situation that personally happened in your marriage may be a help to others, be gracious and ask your husband for his consent prior to sharing. The “golden rule” is always the best policy in any relationship. Trust in your spouse is very important! He should feel secure in your love, your presence and even in your absence knowing that “you will do him good and not evil all the days of his life” (Proverbs 31:12). Dear reader, may we all endeavor to walk in the noble path of the Proverbs 31 Woman.

"A virtuous woman is a crown to her husband:
but she that maketh ashamed is as rottenness in his bones."
~ Proverbs 12:4

“Are there little frictions or grievances in the wedded life? Has her husband fault which annoys her or causes her pain? Does he fail in this duty or that? Do differences arise which threaten the peace of the home? In the feeling of disappointment and pain, smarting under a sense of injury, a wife may be strongly tempted to seek sympathy by telling her trials to some intimate friends. Nothing could be more fatal to her own truest interest and to the hope of restored happiness and peace in her home. Grievances complained of outside remain unhealed sores. The wise wife will share her secret of unhappiness with none but her Master, while she strives in every way that patient love can suggest to remove the causes of discord or trouble.”

Friday, April 10, 2015

Make Your Own Handkerchiefs {DIY} ~ A Tiggy-winkle Tutorial

"Once upon a time there was a little girl called Lucie, who lived at a farm called Little-town. She was a good little girl—only she was always losing her pocket-handkerchiefs!"

Poor Little Lucie! Always in the habit of losing her precious handkerchiefs! What was to be done if they were not recovered? Mrs. Tiggy-winkle suggests that she should learn to make her own. What a resourceful little hedgehog homemaker she is!

Small handiwork projects are wonderful for the young ladies in your life (and you!). My daughter likes to keep something in her energetic hands as I do our homeschool read-alouds. Making up these little hankies are a fun way to prepare something productive while learning new skills (she made the one in the picture, though not perfect, she is getting better each time).

To begin, it helps to have a pattern book for transfers. I like the Dover Transfer Little Books since they have smaller designs that are perfect for small projects like handkerchiefs or decorative table runners. They are only a few dollars and you get quite a bit of designs. Just iron them to your fabric and the little hands are ready to work with the needle! For this project, we used the Small Flowers book.

The other supplies you will need are a square piece of cotton (ours was a generous 14 by 14 inches) which you will need to hem. You will also need an embroidery hoop, embroidery floss and embroidery needles (these can all be found at your local craft store). The simple stem stitch is really all that is necessary for a beginner project to outline a flower (directions for this stitch is shared below). For convenience, you can also use a plain handkerchief, iron on your design and begin embroidering.

"The first stitch which is taught to a beginner is the “stem stitch”. It is most useful in work done in the hand, and especially in outlines of flowers, unshaded leaves, and arabesque, and all conventional designs.


"It may be best described as a long stitch forward on the surface, and a shorter one backward on the under side of the fabric, the stitches following each other almost in line from left to right... A leaf worked in outline should be begun at the lower or stalk end, and worked round the right side to the top, taking care that the needle is to the left of the thread as it is drawn out. When the point of the leaf is reached, it is best to reverse the operation in working down the left side towards the stalk again, so as to keep the needle to the right of the thread instead of to the left, as in going up."

Handiwork and handkerchiefs are both becoming a lost art and it is something I wish to preserve in our home. I think they also make a wonderful handmade gift! These can easily be sent with an encouraging letter in the mail. We use our decorative hankies to cover our ferments for a prettier look in the kitchen. We also use them as dresser scarfs and doilies to place under vases of flower and such. Of course, the traditional use of the hankie is also appreciated. Do you utilize handkerchiefs in your home? What do you use them for? You may also be interested in making your own spray starch (another Tiggy-winkle Tutorial). For more Beatrix Potter inspired projects, visit here.


All the fine print. This post may be shared with some or all of the following link-ups: The Art of Home-Making MondaysModest Mom Monday'sMonday's MusingsMake Your Home Sing MondayGood Morning Mondays,  The Scoop, Tuesdays with a TwistRaising HomemakersWise Woman Link UpHomestead Blog Hop Wow Us Wednesdays,  Coffee and ConversationHomemaking ThursdaysHome Sweet HomeOur Simple HomesteadAwesome Life Friday Link Up and Create, Bake, Grow & Gather. Thank you lovely ladies for hosting these. This post may contain affiliate links (which are merchant links that help to support this site at no additional cost to you if you purchase an item through them).