"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge it's rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Why Homeschool?

Why would anybody choose to homeschool?

Have you ever wondered that?

I have.

When I was young I thought, Homeschooling probably turns out lonely, socially awkward, uneducated adults... When I have kids someday I will want them in school.

But then something really weird happened. 

I had my first child and I wanted to homeschool!

It all started with the feeling that I didn't want to give him up. I didn't want us to spend our days apart. I had given up my career for him... I had lost countless hours of precious sleep for him... I had nursed him to a point of being feverish and bloody... I had loved him like I had loved no other... And now I was supposed to hand him over to a stranger???!!! Never!!! So I thought, Well, while he's little I'll keep him with me at home. All I'll have to do is teach him shapes, colors, and letters... How hard can that be?!

Well, before I knew it, first grade was upon us. 

And I flipped out!

I went to Micah, a little panicked, and said, "I can't homeschool! I don't know what I'm supposed to do! I'm not a teacher!!!" He listened quietly as I continued, "What do I do when the time comes for him to learn Algebra? How am I supposed to teach Algebra? I don't even get Algebra!!!" 

At that point Micah stepped into the conversation and said something that instantly calmed me and changed my line of thinking on the matter. He said, "Why are you talking about Algebra? You don't need to worry about that right now. He's six. Why don't you just place an order for some first grade curriculum, and do it for a year. No one's making you commit to homeschooling for the next twelve years. Let's just take it one year at a time."

Ahhh... What a breath of fresh air his words were to me.

Let's just take it one year at a time.

His words breathed hope into me because I thought,

I can do that!!!

Well girlfriends, last year was Roman's first grade year and I must confess... I loved, loved, LOVED it!

Homeschooling is a very peaceful life.

So... We're going to do it again. Second grade here we come! Sign us up! 

Are any of you wondering But, why? WHY homeschool?

Well, that's the topic of today's post. 

I've written about homeschooling on this blog in the past, but I've never written about my reasons why. The closest I came was in a post from last winter titled, "Homeschool Mornings" where I share one of my reasons. In that post I wrote, "One of the many reasons why I homeschool my children is so that they can have a hot, homemade breakfast every morning. Homeschool moms all know that academics are only a part of it. A well-rounded, good quality life that is relationship-rich is our goal for our children. Homemade meals with family is a tool I use to accomplish this." 

Would you like to know some more reasons why?

Before I list them I want to tell you what this post is not. This post is not me criticizing public schools. I am not anti-school. There may very well come a day when I send my kids to school. This post is also not me trying to talk you into homeschooling your children. I don't care what you do. Your kids are not my responsibility. Each mother must make her own decision about this based on what she believes is right and best for her family. This post is only my own little record of why I currently homeschool. 

So! With that being said, here's my list of ten reasons why I homeschool...

1. I want to give my children an idyllic childhood.




                

A childhood filled with days like this...

                

Free from the confines of a classroom and desk, they can read in fresh air...

                

And learn lessons in sunshine...

               

2. They will bond with me and their siblings, not with their peers.

"He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm." Prov. 13:20

              

They are becoming each other's best friends...

             

We are always together...

             

And I get to be their primary teacher, influencer, and nurturer...

             

3. I can teach them whatever I want them to know.

           

I pick out all of the books and curriculum...

           

If I want to spend an hour teaching them Psalm 23 and forget about fractions until next year, I can do that! That leads me nicely into number four which is...

4. I'm the manager of our time.

          

I don't have a school telling me when I have to deliver my kids to them and when I can get them back. I decide where we go, what we do, and for how long...

"Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." Matt. 22:21

         

5. We take field trips together as a family.



         
(That's Micah with three of our children at a dairy farm last year. I was lagging behind pushing the baby in the stroller.)

6. They are free to work on their own activities and interests.

          
(This is Nola painting stones from her rock collection with nail polish.)

7. There's plenty of time and opportunity to teach life skills.

"Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Prov. 22:6

Life skills such as work ethic...

           

Helping out around the house...

           

Satisfaction in a job well done...

           

And meal preparation...


Speaking of meals, one of my most favorite aspects of homeschooling is being able to eat all of our meals together.

8. Three meals a day, everyday... Together!



              

Sometimes we take a break from schoolwork to eat lunch down at our favorite nature spot...

             

But if the weather won't cooperate with that, I enjoy knowing that my children's meals are eaten with people who love them and at our family table, not in a school cafeteria.


            

9. My children are learning contentment at home.

            

I've met people who don't know how to be content at home. I think it's sad. I tend to be a homebody, so maybe this is just personal preference, but if children are constantly being yanked from their homes and dragged all over town, they will never learn contentment at home. 


And since their hearts aren't being tugged by the influence of peers, they also learn contentment with their own people, their own family...

                
(This is my children's cousin, Cecelia.)

There's more time and opportunity to invest in family relationships...

             
(This is my children's cousin, Elijah.)

I hope to teach my children that even though friends are important and can be such a blessing, they come and go throughout life; whereas family lasts forever. 

10. We do life together. Everyday experiences are our classroom.

              

Since becoming a mother, I've learned to live my life alongside my kids. I've never out-sourced them. They literally come with me everywhere I go. Children absorb so much by watching the world around them. I believe it's a better teacher than just reading about something in a textbook. And they get to learn about the world around them being surrounded by people who love them...

(This is a four-generation photo. My children's great-grandmother, grandmother, aunt and cousin.)

This isn't an exhaustive list of every single one of my reasons. This is just ten of my favorite proactive reasons why I homeschool. I have reactive reasons, too, such as I worry about bullies in public school, and my children being taught humanistic and godless ideas that would contradict our Christian values. But most of all my reasons to homeschool aren't out of fear but out of my desire to be the best steward of my children's hearts and minds that I can be!

"Love the Lord your God with all you heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." Deuteronomy 6:5-7

A friend of mine just said to me the other day, "You know, no one ever reaches the end of their life and says, 'I wish I had spent more time at the office,' or, 'I wish I had worked harder to make more money.'" She is right! Spend time with those you love! Pour your life out for your family!  When our children are grown we will either say, I wish I had or I'm glad I did!!! 


              

When I left my career years ago I knew deep down that anybody could step into my position and do my job, but only I could be the wife and mother in my home!

As I said in the beginning, A well-rounded, good quality life that is relationship-rich is our goal.

Thank you for reading about my reasons to homeschool! I'm looking forward to beginning our next school year!



             

What a wonderful life this is! And at the end of it I want to say, I'm glad I did!

Take care my friends,

~ Courtney 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Nola's Art

 This is going to be a post fairly unlike my usual posts.

It's a decorating post but not like what you typically see from me in regards to decorating.

I'm about to take you into my laundry room.... (Which is no beauty of a room let me warn you!)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My daughter Nola (age 5) was inspired by this picture that came through my newsfeed one day:



                   

Nola is always making beautiful pictures. She calls herself an artist and I've developed quite a collection of her work. So naturally, this appealed to her. She asked me if we could do this somewhere in our home. I was happy to see her eyes lit up by inspiration, but... I really didn't want to have a wall like this. I'm a leeetle bit selfish when it comes to decorating. (Hey! I never said I was a perfect mom!)

But! This is where my laundry room saves the day! 

My laundry room is upstairs, originally a bedroom, converted and decorated by the previous owner, Sally. It remains the same today. I'm not sure why we've never re-done it. (Sheesh! We've lived here for seven years!!!) I guess other rooms have been bigger priorities. 

I've never done a thing to this room. I've always just figured I'd get to it someday. Sally's curtains are still up for Pete's sake! 



                 
(I thought about moving the laundry baskets away for the picture, but then I remembered... This is a real-life blog!)

I told Nola that I have a stash of unused, old frames, and that maybe we could hang them for her pictures. I told her that I've never had artwork in this laundry room, and that hanging some of hers would brighten my days as I work on laundry chores! She was excited and on board with the idea. I was glad because I wasn't planning on buying anything new for the project. I also didn't want it to take a whole lot of time. (I get suddenly lazy and frugal when it comes to projects that aren't my idea, haha! Remember what I said about being a selfish decorator?) 

So, I went to my stash of old frames, and put a few up on the walls:

                 

(Yes, this is a bowl of mis-matched socks:( :( Please don't judge me!!!) 

                 

I was surprised... What began as something I was only doing to humor a child, became something I liked! It's quite nice to stand here at my dryer and have this to look at. It was made for me with love:


Nola told me that it's a drawing of me and her. We're wearing polka-dot skirts and holding hands. I especially like the detail of the colorful hearts!

The one next to the washing machine looks like this:

               

I had a birthday recently, and she made these hearts for me along with this little card:

              

The card is wishing me a "Fappy Brthday"! It's so precious! Can you see it? Here... Come closer:


(I really did have the fappiest birthday! Hahahaha!)

The other day I came across this old poem in one of my readings. It goes like this:

Give me patience when little hands,

Tug at me with small demands.

Give me gentle words and smiling eyes,

And keep my lips from sharp replies.

So in years to come when my house is still,

Beautiful memories its rooms may fill.

~ Author Unknown

It made me think about this quirky laundry room and Nola's colorful art. There will probably come a day when we tackle this room for renovation, and her artwork will come down. I'm glad I will have the memory of calling Nola into the room after I'd hung her work, and watching her eyes light up with pride and excitement upon seeing it!

I had a total of three old frames in storage, and an abundance of artwork. I hung the final frame here, above the drying rack, and next to the kids' kitchen:


Here's a close-up of it:


The frames are hung by nails but I used scotch tape for the artwork. They're just taped right onto the walls. The only reason why I'm ok with this is because I know we'll re-do these walls someday just like we've re-done the walls in all of the other rooms we've renovated. Otherwise, I am very much against putting tape onto walls! 

Isn't this a cute little play kitchen? I moved this into the laundry room several years ago so that my babies and toddlers would have something to play with while I worked on laundry. 

              

It sure was nice to be able to keep an eye on them while I folded and sorted. They don't need to be hovered over as much anymore. They're growing up... **sniff**... So now I look at this lovely view of my front yard...

              

And Nola's beautiful art.


A friend asked me just the other day if I hated doing laundry or if I enjoyed it. I was a little embarrassed to admit that I genuinely enjoy it. Why does our culture have us believing that housework should be viewed as drudgery? If you make it pleasant for yourself, it can actually be quite enjoyable! And I have my 5-year old daughter to thank for making my daily laundry chores even more pleasant! 

This is her, the artist herself... My Nola: 

                

She is a delight to me! And so are you, dear readers! Do you have a house chore that you view as drudgery? Is there a way you can make it a little more pleasant for yourself? Home life should be wonderful! Don't let anyone tell you that housework should bum you out! Nonsense! With sunshine coming through the windows, gratitude in our hearts and minds, and something as simple as a child's artwork to look at... even a chore such as laundry can be made pleasant! 

Love to you, my readers...

~Courtney 

Friday, July 22, 2016

Decorating With Books

Oh, sweet friends! It has been too long!

I didn't mean to be away for so long because I get to missing you and your wonderful comments! 

I think I may be addicted to this... and to you... and to your kind words of encouragement!

Recently, I received some private messages from several of you that were SO uplifting to me! Truly, I'm blown away over how some of you feel about my blogging efforts! I certainly don't feel like I deserve it! 

There are millions of blogs in Blogland that are wonderfully written by professional bloggers. So the fact that you take the time to stop by mine means the world to me! Because as we all know, I'm an expert at NOTHING! 

(Well... If you were to ask my husband or younger brother they may tell you I'm quite practiced in the fine art of being bossy! So, let's not ask them!)

I guess what I'm trying to say is Thank You for being here and being an encouragement to me!

Let's get started on today's post!

You may remember from this past winter, a post that I composed titled, "Decorating With Birds". Ever since that post, I've wanted to write one similar, but about books.

                

Whenever I'm a guest in someone's home, one of the first things I catch myself doing is scanning the room for books. If I see a stack of books, I'm instantly drawn to it. I like to look closely; I look at the colors of the books, the titles, and whether they're old or new. 

Several beautiful books, thoughtfully placed throughout a house, has the power to make it feel like home. 

So... I thought it'd be fun to show you some of my books and how I decorate with them!


                

I love to look at books with beautiful and familiar titles...

                

Beautiful covers in colors that work well with my home...

               

               

And beautiful binding...


I like to take books that cooperate with the theme of some favored items and make a vignette, by arranging them together. Like this:

                
                  

This bird vignette sits atop my faux fireplace mantle in my front room:


I like to use easels to prop up favorite books, like you would a picture:

                 

And I also like to tuck books into shelves and cupboards. Either propped up so that I can enjoy their covers:

                

Or stacked so that I can enjoy their binding:

                  

Sometimes, the insides of books are so beautiful that I want to display them rather than their covers. So, laying open a book to my favorite page is what I like to do in these cases:

                

Isn't this a beautiful page?! The colors are soft and muted, and these children are so adorable!

               

It is possible, as some of you are reading this, that you may be wondering about a couple of things. I know this because I tend to receive the same types of questions. Two of my most frequently asked questions are, 1. Don't you have kids?! And, 2. Where do you find such things? 

1. Of course, the people who ask, "Don't you have kids?!" are implying that they don't believe having delicate and nice things laying around is a good idea in a house full of kids. To that I would say, "Well, our mothers and grandmothers did it!" We were taught not to touch. We were taught to be respectful of mother's nice things. We were taught to take good care of our home and be good stewards of what we had. So why then, in this generation of homemaking, are we abandoning what our mothers and grandmothers showed us? They did it better. But that should give us hope and encouragement that we can do it, too!

This does not mean that things don't sometimes get broken. In fact, two nights ago one of my children broke an old plate. We swept up the pieces and moved on. I was not heart broken over it because the truth about the plate is that it came from a thrift store for 50 cents. Which leads me perfectly to answer question number two...

2. A lot of what I purchase for my home comes from antique or thrift stores. Almost everything else has been given to me. I have purchased antique books from thrift stores for as little as 25 cents. The most expensive antique book I've ever purchased was fifteen dollars. This book is one of my favorites. I paid $1.00 for it at an antique shop. 

                   

It's titled, "Mothers of Great Men and Women." I got to reading it one day and found it to be fascinating! When it's not being read, it rests on my nightstand and I enjoy looking at its lovely cover. When I do pick it up to read it, I'm greeted by this family photograph. I like using meaningful photos as bookmarks.


When I'm shopping in an antique or thrift store and spot a book that interests me, one of the first things that I like to do is open the cover to see if there is a hand-written note inside. Isn't this an adorable antique book?

                

The first page has this note:


But of course, my favorite notes are the ones hand-written by my family members, in the books that have been in my home for years. Like this one:

                  

And this one:

                  

These books are in my daughters' bedroom. Children's rooms are a great place to display books!

                 

                 


All the girly books are kept in here...

               

Close to their beds so that they can be easily grabbed for a bedtime story.

               

               

And all of the manly books are in the boys' bedroom...

               


The boys' room has this shelf that Micah built. It goes all the way around the room. It's filled with interesting old books:

                  


I use a different amount of books in the stacks that are next to each other. It's more visibly appealing that way. In this case, it allows for the globes to be at varying heights:


This little stack of books sits on one of the boy's night stands:

                

And lastly, this vintage book that rests atop their little piano:

               

Not every book that I display in my home is old. My mother recently gave me this brand-new, beautiful book on Flowers: 


              

Another example would be this stack of books on the end table next to my couch. In it are various newer books. The stack is mainly meant to add height and interest to this vignette...


But one of them is a newer book on decorating. It has provided me with valuable inspiration:



               

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you'll know that we still have our family room to renovate in our 100-year old farmhouse. (Which would explain why you don't see much of that room on this blog, haha... It looks pretty bad.) But when we're ready to begin renovations, I have bookmarked several pages in this book of ideas that I want to incorporate into the future family room. 

This page, for example, shows a reading nook with wall to wall, ceiling to floor bookshelves:

               

I already know the wall in my family room that I want to do this to. And I just about have Micah on board with this idea! In which case, my obsession for displaying beautiful books is about to get ramped up! Haha!

Well, my friends, I hope I have shown you some good ways to use books in home decorating. I have another favorite way to display book pages in the home, and that is to tear them out and frame them, like this: 

               

I have quite a few book pages framed throughout my home, but I will have to show you that on another day. This post is already too long. I really appreciate you letting me show you around. Feel free to leave a comment. I love hearing from you!!!

Until next time...

~ Courtney