Christmas Traditions

Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. I work hard to make sure it’s calm, peaceful & lasts as long as I can make it last. Probably one of the reasons I love being married into a culture that gives a nod to the Orthodox Church.

2 Christmases!

One of my favorite memories as a child was making Christmas cookies.

The rolling. The decorating. The eating.

Times have changed. We don’t eat sweets non-stop. I only bake once.

But, we still enjoy that one perfect night of baking together.

The memories are joyous. We are together.

Here is my favorite recipes.

So, slow time down & enjoy every little minute with your children.

Christmas Cookie Recipe

Cookie Icing

Christmas Learning

The beauty of homeschooling is that learning becomes a lifestyle.

Christmas is especially rich in multi-textured education. Subjects blend & combine.

Math & Science can be found in Christmas baking & Christmas lights.

History can be found in traditions – both ours & around the World.

So, don’t stress over Christmas break. Learning is still there. You’re doing a great job, Mama.

His Schedule 

As I sit here, during spring break, prepping for Mamas’ Saturday School, next year’s curriculum plan and a million other details. 
I am reminded of the importance of knowing when to put aside our schedules to minister to those around us. 
It’s important as a mama to be sensitive to His voice. 
This goes deeper than meeting the physical needs of our families, friends & strangers.
It’s allowing the Holy Spirit to show us the inward needs behind the outward needs. 
He wants us to walk in wisdom as we plan out our school year. 
You only have to ask.
He knows our children intimately. Far better than we ever could. We can trust Him.

Homeschooling Mama Friends 

One of the most often repeated worries that a veteran homeschooling mama hears is “socialization.” 
 It comes from every imaginable source. Concerned family & friends, strangers at the supermarket and the new questioning mama who desires to homeschool. 
I have often been guilty of snickering when I hear it. I shouldn’t. 
But, seriously. Have you seen my calendar. The challenge is staying home! 
In this day & age of extracurricular possibilities, it never has to be an issue. 
What I don’t hear asked often enough is where is the Mama going to find friends & support. 
 In fact, I think the mama’s support system is more important than her children’s friendships.
Your support system provides education in your chosen profession as a homeschooling mama, support for the hard times & laughter when you need it.
Simply put. Women need women. 
So what are you looking for when you begin to build your homeschooling tribe? 
There are three types of friends: 
1) those ahead of you in the journey. These are your mentors. The Success stories. The ones who have been there in the trenches for several years.
2) those who walk with you. These are the ones with children in your children’s peer group. I’m not talking age or grade here. Think stage. The amount of time they have been homeschooling isn’t a deciding factor here. 
3) those who are new to the journey. The newbie. This is when you realize you’ve survived the beginning of your journey. You have something to give back. It’s a dazzling moment.
You need all three to be balanced. They are important. You are important. 
Ecclesiastes 4:12
So, where do you find them? 
1) Social Media is a great place to start. 
Most cities will have groups to answer questions & share information. A really great group will plan extracurricular activities & give you the opportunity to meet others
But don’t stay here. It’s a starting place.
2) Local museums. Call & ask if there are homeschooling classes. 
3) Local Library. Church. Park. Co-op, 4-H.
4) AND  If you can’t find a group, start one. I am serious. If you are lonely someone else is too! Put a sign up in the library. Start a Facebook group. It can all start with a simple monthly park day.
Praying for you today, Mama! 
Choose who walks with you wisely. 

Homeschooling Baby

Homeschooling before Kindergarten is really my favorite. I consider anything below kindergarten as “baby.”

Seriously, Mamas. They are still babies.

Our homeschooling journey began because we couldn’t afford daycare. I  fell in love with seeing that light bulb turn on. I was hooked.

Regardless of your family’s future educational choices, you ARE your babies’ first teacher. Mamas are so very important.

So here’s a few tips to make homeschooling baby easier.

1) Less is more. Littles really do not need curriculum. They have an attention span of about 1 minute X their age. 

2) play IS learning. 

As my babies were growing, we had  “creative play” boxes: Art box, block box, Lego box, dress up box, book box, sewing box, science box. 

 Pull a box out as needed. 

Not all boxes are appropriate at every age or stage. Use wisdom.

Here are some great links for Creative Learning Boxes

Treasure Basket Pattern

1st Sewing Basket for Kids

Embroidery with Children

Babies 1st Art Supplies

Science Box

Matryoshka Lacing Cards

3) Books. We read a lot. Use your library. Know your librarian.

4) Conversation. We talk a lot. About everything we see. All day long. LOL!

5) When you feel the need for socialization, look for free or cheap mommy & me play dates: story times, MOPS, park Day & play dates 

So I hope this helps!
 I’m in the process of building new creative play boxes for our surprise baby.

I think my big kids as excited than I am!

I love this age!

Advice for the New Homeschooling Parent

Do you ever wish you could go back in time & advise yourself during a decision making event? 

I do! As I look at my 15 yo son who is moving toward graduation as if he travels by light speed. I wish I could go back in time.
What would I tell myself if I could?
Relax. Breath. Smile. Laugh. Dance. Play. Grace. Mercy.

1) Don’t take it all so seriously. 

He’s only 3 years old (or 4, or 10 or 13) for one year! Enjoy him at the stage he is. Don’t push him to another stage before he’s ready.

Yes. Learning IS important. But not at the expense of a little heart. Lead gently.

2) Don’t feel guilty when life happens. 

So, you had another baby & didn’t start Schooling until October. You’ve been caring for a dying grandparent & science wasn’t what you planned. 

This is life skills, mama. It’s important learning. 

Our children learn how to walk through life by walking with us. It’s going to be ok. Give yourself grace.

3) Do the best you can with what you have. 

No we can’t always afford the newest  curriculum, co-ops or extracurricular activities. 

BUT, we can love our children. And isn’t that really what’s important?

4) The goal is a well-adjusted, successful HAPPY adult.    

3 John 1:4
If I can accomplish this, I will be very well pleased.

And finally wonderful mamas, it all comes back to this: 

Relax. Breath. Smile. Laugh. Dance. Play. Grace. Mercy.

How to Homeschool (with links)

It’s that wonderful, exciting time of year! Nervous new mamas begin to ask questions. 
This is an important question. You are all important mamas. Praying for you today! 
1) Pray. God has a plan. He always has a plan. He never deserts us. 

Find more information on praying for your homeschooling here.

2) Give yourself grace for not knowing everything. No one does in the beginning of anything worth while. 

List of Prayers for your Homeschool

Give Yourself Grace
3) Know your laws. This is the most important research you will do in the beginning. It is important to know what your state requires. It is also important to know what it does not require. 

Find your State Law’s Here

4) Take your time researching curriculum, planning & scheduling. You don’t have to know every thing today. You can change things that don’t work. You are not stuck. 

Reviews by Cathy Duffy are found here.
5) Enjoy your children. They are only in this stage, age or phase right now. Enjoy the journey. Relax. Don’t Stress. 
More on taking it slow can be found here.
6) Gather your tribe. You need homeschooling mamas to encourage you. Choose carefully. Friends bring sweetness to life.
Find more here
7) Socialization is a non-issue. As long as you are interacting with others, outside of your house, your children will be fine. I promise. 
More on socialization found here.