Saturday, April 28, 2012

Homeschool Week: The Finale - Getting Support

The Cozy Nook
Homeschool Week

April 23 through April 28

All homeschool moms know this – homeschooling is hard.  It takes a lot of sacrifice and commitment. Therefore, I want to end this “Homeschool Week” by emphasizing your need for support!

First of all, WE need to support ourselves.  That may sound strange, but it is true.  We need to remember our vision for homeschooling and refresh our minds and hearts on a regular basis.  When life is tough, it is easy to get discouraged and feel like quitting if we don’t fuel ourselves with good thoughts.  We beat ourselves up when we bombard ourselves with negativity.  Mission statements, Scripture verses, and quotes from good books are good to review and reflect upon. 

Yes, good books (or blogs ~wink~)!  There are a plethora of good books about homeschooling.  Read them.  Digest them.  Re-read them.  Glean wisdom from others who are walking this walk.

Like-minded friends and veteran homeschoolers provide good support.  They can relate to our world and encourage our hearts.

Homeschool co-ops are another way we can find support.  Many provide classes, field trips, mom’s support night, and other helpful resources.  It is beneficial, not only for you to see other homeschoolers but also your children. 

Homeschool convention/conferences are a super way to get recharged.  Now is the time of year when homeschoolers everywhere are gathering to peruse all sorts of curriculum, glean necessary nuggets from valued teachers, and extend their network altogether.  It is so encouraging to attend a conference where there are thousands of homeschoolers.  You remember that you are not alone!  There are many others – just like you!

Most of all, remember to talk and pray with your husband!  You are a team!  Together, you are building your family and raising the next generation for Jesus!

If you have any questions about homeschooling, feel free to email me at thecozynookblog at gmail dot com.  I will do my best to answer your question or direct you to someone who can.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Homeschool Week: Education and Curriculum

The Cozy Nook
Homeschool Week

April 23 through April 28

What do you think of when someone says “education”?

You may pause for a moment and think about your ideal philosophy of education, what you really want for your children, and the ideal methods to go about doing that.

However, chances are that images like this rule your mind and possibly your homeschool.

ClassroomBJU Curriculum  Photo credit

Photo credit

checklist

Photo credit

Oftentimes we, homeschoolers, are trying to duplicate school life at home.  We are trying to recreate an environment that does not always work well in our homes.  There are some similarities to a typical classroom, but there are also a lot of differences.

In our homes, we must remember who we are.

We are families, training our children.

We are families.  We consist of ages nursery to adult.  We are brothers, sisters, mothers, and fathers.  We share the same vision and are headed in the same direction.  Our foundation is built upon our faith and love for one another.

We are training our children.  We are educating, shaping, and molding our children to be well-versed not only in “school subjects” but in godliness, manner, and habit.  The routines of home life help dictate our days.  The ebbs and flows are governed by the needs of our families and the individuals within.

Even though most of us remember the whys of our homeschool, many of us still live feeling immense pressure from our curriculum and the ticking of the clock.  Checklists, page quantities, schedules, and deadlines lord over us while graciousness, progress, and thoroughness start to wane. 

In our quest to have successful homeschools, we must keep our goals and vision at the forefront of our minds.  We must keep curriculum and its siblings in their rightful place. 

Curriculum is not our master.  It is our tool.
Checklists are not meant to hinder but to help.
Schedules are not for suffocation but for support.
Progress is not measured merely by quantity
but also by quality.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Homeschool Week: Practical Tips for Homeschooling the Distractible Child

The Cozy Nook
Homeschool Week

April 23 through April 28

Yesterday I stressed the importance of building relationship with our distractible children.  Today I will present to you some practical tips you can consider to (hopefully) make your day run more smoothly.


Start with him first. Make him the priority.

Let your child choose a subject to start the day. Then you choose the next subject and keep alternating throughout the day.

Do shorter lessons.  You may have to do half of the child’s math in the morning and half in the afternoon. 

Be prepared to spend a good portion of time sitting by him.  You may have to “hold his hand”a bit.  He will not be so independent.

Create goals and rewards as incentives.  If the child wants to do something, require a certain subject{s} to be finished first.

Take breaks often.

Encourage physical activity and outdoor play.

Vary the subjects between difficult or less-engaging and more interesting subjects, i.e. math, science, english, writing, piano, spelling, geography.

Incorporate hands-on activities when possible.

Make time for their creativity and desires. 

Create realistic goals for the day.  Don’t expect to cruise through the curriculum all of the time or do *every* problem.  Your goal is for your child to progress and learn, not to get “x" amount of pages done.

Give yourself freedom to change curriculum, even during the middle of the year.  Your distractible child may need different curriculum than the rest of your children, especially for the more meticulous subjects like math.

Work towards creating a positive environment.  We must be patient, loving, and encouraging.  A distractible child will not do well in a tense, frustrated environment.  Who will?

Learn to be flexible.  This is not always easy.  We like our routines, our order, and our control.  We have to learn to let go somewhat.

You can do this!

God gave you your children
and is in the business of shaping all of you!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homeschool Week: Homeschooling the Distractible Child

The Cozy Nook
Homeschool Week

April 23 through April 28

Last week I went to the Cincinatti Homeschool Convention.  When I was there, I attended a session about Homeschooling the Distractible Child by Susan Kemmerer of Schoolhouse Publishing.  It was reassuring to hear a lot of the concepts God had already been working in my heart and home. 

Distractible children tend to be easily distracted, yes.  Some of the poor character traits I have seen in my own home are:  messiness, laziness (when they are “bored”), procrastination, a lack of willingness, and the great ability to be poky.

Perhaps you can relate?

Distractible children have the innate ability to test our character very well!  When we are in a “let’s get this done!” mode, they are dreaming about the sunshine, wondering about that person they met yesterday, and thinking about the next picture they can create.  Questions seem to flood their minds as quickly as our “to do” lists flood ours! 

It seems like it takes a lot of effort to get this child moving and finishing, at times!

Before I get into some practical tips about homeschooling distractible children, I have to stress something that God has been working on my heart for months.

The most important thing to focus on with a distractible child is your relationship!

If we focus on the child’s negative traits, we will become angry, irritable, and impatient.  Our relationship will start to degrade.  We will see this child through not-so-rose-colored glasses and create an image we do not like.

In order to protect our relationship with our child, we must do two things:

  1. See the positive character traits in this child.  Distractible children can be very frustrating, but they also tend to be creative, inquisitive, and adventuresome. We must look past their inevitable weaknesses and see the strengths God has placed within them.  Susan Kemmerer said, “God does not define us by our shortcomings.  He rejoices over us.”  (see Zephaniah 3:17)
  2. Pray and strive to become the people God wants US to be.
    We need God’s mind and heart in the matter!  We need Him to make us more like Him!  The fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.”  Are we exhibiting these traits with our distractible children?

If you have a distractible child, make it your priority to have a pleasant relationship with him. 

Tomorrow, I will share some practical tips for schooling a distractible child.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Homeschool Week: Dealing with Burnout

The Cozy Nook
Homeschool Week

April 23 through April 28

Yesterday I talked about taking care of yourself. It is so very important.  Truly, it is essential.  It is not an option because…

Your homeschool starts with you!

The quality of your being produces the quality of your homeschool!

Are you burnt out?
Are your kids crabby?
Is your home life negative and lacking joy?
Are you losing vision?
Do you feel like quitting?
Are you physically exhausted and mentally worn?

If you answer “yes” to most of these questions, you may be experiencing burnout.

Here is how Merriam Webster defines burnout:  exhaustion of physical or emotional strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration.

That is the key about burnout. It happens when you are continually bombarded and drained by the various demands on your life.

If you do not take time to recharge,
you will most likely experience the valley.

Here are some helpful tips for dealing with burnout:

It took you a while to get here.  It will take a while to get out.
Dealing with burnout is like paying off a large amount of debt.  You are in debt to yourself.  Your well-being is “in the red”.  Take baby steps of goodness each day, every moment.  Make good payments into your emotional bank account!  Your faithfulness will reward you!

Give yourself grace.
You may not be able to live up to everyone else’s expectations or even your own desired expectations for a while.  Simplify and accept it.

Quiet times are very important.
Constant noise and challenges do not allow our souls to regroup.  We need time with the Lord…. time by ourselves… time for rest… time for sleep… time to renew our minds. 

Do things that bring you joy!
It is a proven fact that laughter and joy bring good results!  Do your best to enjoy life.  Enjoy your spouse.  Enjoy your children.  Enjoy your friends. 
Proverbs 17:22 – A merry heart doeth good like medicine.

Keep working towards a positive attitude.
When we are down and out, it is so easy to become negative in our thinking. These thoughts only dig a deeper pit for us, though. 

Renew your homeschooling vision.
Talk with friends who are currently homeschooling.  Get support from veteran homeschoolers.  Read books.  Have a heart-to-heart talk with your hubby.  Do whatever it takes to renew your vision!

Keep praying.  Keep trusting.  God is there!
Remember that God is with you!  He cares for you very, very much!  He will get you through your trial.

As a side note, I recently checked out a book from my library – Help for the Harried Homeschooler by Christine Field.  It has some great tips about avoiding burnout along with many other valuable tips!  Check it out!

Tomorrow’s post:  “Homeschooling the Distractible Child”

Monday, April 23, 2012

Homeschool Week: Take Care of Yourself!

The Cozy Nook
Homeschool Week

April 23 through April 28

Welcome to “Homeschool Week”!

I am excited about the week!  I am excited to share what is on my heart – what God is teaching me and doing in my life – and am hoping it will bring encouragement to many.

To start the week, I want to talk about taking care of you.

This is a subject that has become very dear to my heart because I see how much it has affected my life.  My negligence in taking care of myself leads to problems.

I don’t have as much physical energy.

I get impatient and emotional.

I feel more pessimistic and discouraged.

My vision becomes clouded.

Little by little, my vigor chips away until eventually burnout results.

Let me remind you of a few things:

Homeschooling your children takes a lot of energy!  It is a full-time job.  You are training your children to become godly, well-educated, successful people.  That is no easy task!  Of course, we must trust God with this important job, but we should also take our part seriously.  We must build ourselves up so we may serve our children well.

A small cup can not pour out
a bucket of water.

You will give as much as you are able.  Sure you can still keep plodding along, trying to s-q-u-e-e-z-e every droplet out of your being to do what needs to be done.  That is a necessary part of life sometimes.  However, to live in this condition continually produces emptiness and weariness.

You are the only one who can take care of yourself!  For the most part, you are the one who controls your thoughts, orders your schedule, spends your time, puts the food on your plate and into your mouth, and puts your head on the pillow.  Your husband, friends, pastor, and family members will not do that for you!  You must have a vision to take care of yourself!

When I wrote my post for the New Year, I asked you to evaluate yourself in the following areas:

Time with God Exercise
Sleep and Rest Vitamins
Healthy Eating Positive Attitude

How are you doing now?

Are your habits and attitudes strengthening you and bringing peace to your life or are they tearing you down?

Here are some practical exercises for you:

First, sit down with a pen, a sheet of paper, and a prayerful heart in a moment of quiet.  Ask God how you can tackle these (or other) areas of your life to refresh your being.  Make some (or ONE) goals for yourself.

Second, create two columns:  a list of things that ZAP your energy and a list of things that GIVE you energy.  Oftentimes we give ourselves to activities that we *think* will help us or give us the break we need when they actually zap us (wasting time on the internet is a good example).  Recognize where you might be wasting time and how you could use your time more wisely.

Third, you may want to list some areas of concern/stress.  Pray specifically about those areas and tackle these with intensity and priority! 

Quiet, restful breaks are a must!
Make sure you are scheduling them into your days.

Take care of yourself!
It is the good way to take care of your family!

Tomorrow I will address the issue of burnout.  See you then!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Good Ol’ American Food–Burgers and Fries!

Just a reminder:  Tomorrow starts Homeschool Week here.  I’ll be covering various topics about you, your curriculum, and your children.  I hope you will join me!  If you have a blog geared towards homeschooling, grab a button on my sidebar and share the news!


Sometimes I get a hankering for a good burger and some fries.  When you make them at home, you feel better about it – as with most things.  You can choose the ingredients and make the dishes according to your preferences.

With grill season around the corner, I thought I would share the recipes I used recently to whip up some yummy American fare for my family one night.

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Mel’s Kitchen CafĂ©’s “Perfect Grilled Burgers” are just about that – perfect.  Add a little bit of seasoned salt, A-1 sauce, pepper, and water to create a delicious burger that grills nicely and tastes good!

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When I ran across this recipe for Skinny Texas Cheese Fries, I knew I had to try them!  I did not have all of the delectable ingredients she uses, like bacon, green onions, and jalapenos nor did I make the buttermilk ranch dressing that I will have to try!  Nonetheless, this simpler version still went over quite well in our home!

Cheese Fries
printable version

  • 8 medium potatoes yukon gold or russet, washed and dried (skin on)
  • 2 1/2 T olive oil
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 tsp chili powder (I use 1/2 t because my chili powder is spicy)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Bacon Bits

Preheat the oven to 400°. Line baking sheet with foil for easy clean-up and lightly coat with cooking spray.  I used a half sheet baking pan.

Cut each potato lengthwise into 1/4 inch thin slices; then cut each slice into 1/4 inch fries.

In a large bowl, combine cut potatoes and oil; toss well. Add seasoning and toss to coat.

Place potatoes in a single layer on your lightly-greased baking sheet.

Bake
uncovered for about 25 minutes or until tender crisp, turning once half way through.

Remove from oven.  Top with cheddar cheese and Bacon Bits and put in oven for a couple more minutes until the cheese is melted.

Enjoy!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Comparison Robs; Contentment Revives!

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I remember hearing a sermon years ago where the pastor mentioned flipping through “Better Homes and Gardens” magazine.  He realized he was becoming discontent as he browsed through its pages.  Why?  It was because the magazine showed “better homes” and “better gardens” – of course – and whose were they better than?  HIS!

Yes, it’s true.  There are many influences in our modern day world that keep us on our comparison toes – Facebook, Pinterest, blogs, magazines, and other sorts of media.  These tools can be used well if they are used properly – in moderation and for inspiration.  Otherwise, they can zap time and energy as we strive to “keep up with the Joneses”. 

In addition, we have our own battles in our hearts and minds with regard to people we see and know.

Our thoughts go something like this…

Jane’s husband is better than mine.
Her children are more well-behaved.
Her house is cleaner.
She is prettier than I am.
She is so talented and crafty.
She is an expert seamstress.
Her home is decorated to the T!
She is such a good cook!

and the list goes on and on and on and on…

IMAGINE, though, if we could just be content.

…if we could just be thankful for what we have.

…if we could work with all of our might with the strengths God has given us.

… if we could rejoice with those who rejoice and be happy for what others have, even when we lack in that area.

That type of life, my friends, brings revival to our bodies and spirits!

1 Thess. 4:11 says -
“that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands”

Are you aspiring to lead a quiet life – free from the distractions and energy-zappers?

Are you minding your own business or wasting too much time on the internet and other places?

Are you working with your own hands with all diligence?

Let us strive to be content with what God has given us and to be lost in His will for our lives.

Homeschool Week here at “The Cozy Nook”, starting Monday, April 23!

I am super blessed to be able to attend a homeschooling conference later this week!  I am excited to get some renewed vision and support!

To celebrate, it’s going to be homeschool week here at “The Cozy Nook” next week (starting Monday, April 23).

I am going to cover topics that have been on my heart, like:

Dealing with Burnout
Education and Curriculum
Taking Care of You!

and also hope to share what I glean at the conference this week!

Join me next week and feel free to spread the word!

Grab my button, in the sidebar, and encourage others to join us!

The Cozy Nook

Saturday, April 14, 2012

You Are of Value!

 

Remember…

He cares for you!

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“Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?”

Matthew 6:26

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Homeschool Curriculum Reviews

It’s April, and you know what that means!  Many homeschool conventions are under way, and homeschoolers everywhere are evaluating their curriculum for next year.

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Last year I did a handful of reviews of the curriculum we use or have used, and wanted to share them with you again.

God’s Design for Science
from Answer in Genesis

Bob Jones English

Horizons Math

Math in Focus

Spelling Power and Spelling Workout

First Language Lessons

If I can answer any specific questions about these curriculums, please feel free to email me at thecozynookblog at gmail dot com.  I will do my best to help you!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Difference a “Chic” Towel Makes

Before

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After

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Is there something small you could do to spruce up your surroundings?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

How It All Turned Out– Our Resurrection Day Celebrations

For our first “feast”, I decided to serve steak.  We ended up having only my father-in-law over to represent my husband’s family since most of the rest of the crew was not in town.  I saw Delmonico steaks on sale at the fruit market I frequent, so I decided to go for it!

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We enjoyed having some dear friends over on Sunday.  I served ham, brined/roasted chicken, “juiced up” baby carrots, strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing, cheesy potatoes (that my friend brought), banana split dessert, and cupcakes. We had a great time.

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I was able to fit in the hot cross biscuits,

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set my tables with beauty,

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and enjoy a wonderful Resurrection Sunday celebration!

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Now That’s Worth Celebrating!

 

Three Crosses

Photo Credit

“It is finished!”

He is risen!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Easter–Food Talk

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Easter is less than a week away now!  Today is the day for me to set my menu!  This year we are planning to have two celebrations (three, if you include the celebration we already had with my family this past weekend).  We are having some friends over on Sunday for a meal and entertaining my husband’s family on another day this weekend.

I glimpsed at the menu I served a couple years ago.  Some of those ideas remain or exist in a similar form.

Here are some of the ideas I am mulling over:

Ham
Brined, roaster chicken
Chicken piccata
Another creamy chicken breast recipe I just got from a friend with bacon and chipped beef
Lemon herb chicken ring
Strawberry salad with poppy seed dressing
Green Bean Casserole
Biscuits or Cornbread
Banana Split Dessert

My friend is bringing cheesy potatoes – made with potatoes, cheese, sour cream, and bacon!  I’m already looking forward to that!

Of course, I REALLY want to squeeze in the Hot Cross Biscuits (pictured above) some time that I made last year!  They were so good!

Have you decided on your Easter menu yet?

Monday, April 2, 2012

Serving Our Families, as “Bondservants”

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It’s nearly 5 a.m., and I am wide awake.  Yes, I have had a splitting headache since before I went to bed hours ago.  However, it is not my own needs that has me up at this crazy hour of the day.  It is a need in my family, an illness to be exact.  My son has been tossing and turning (and me, likewise) since just after 3 a.m.  I finally realized I would need to move downstairs and nurse him better there.  Precious hours of sleep are slipping away from my hands.

I am reminded of Jesus.

Jesus did not come to earth because of His own needs.

He did not serve the human race because He was pompous and showy.

No, instead, He “humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:8)

“Jesus Christ who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,  … made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant.” (Philippians 2:6-7)

Merriam Webster defines bondservant well – “one bound to service without wages”.

In our homes, we will oftentimes take the form of a bondservant.

We will be called to do many things without wages –
loving sacrificially without expecting in return.

We will be encouraged to make no reputation for ourselves.

We will be challenged to serve our family members and their needs, putting aside our own needs, wishes, and desires continually.

Oh, may we be like Jesus,
Who was humble, obedient, and faithful!