Monday, September 1, 2014
Come Visit My New Home @ 10:27 AM

Hi everyone, just letting you know that I am now blogging at http://www.frommarisa.com. If you're following me, please update your feed subscription. Thanks!

Saturday, May 17, 2014
Journal Prompts for Crafting a Learning Plan @ 5:11 PM

So, if you have read my various writing about homeschooling or you know me in person, you know that I have tried many methods and resources for teaching my kids. It always comes back to simplicity, and making sure that I am mentoring my children and facilitating their growth in the areas that they are strong in, as well as challenging their weaknesses.

I no longer ascribe to methods or philosophy. Instead, I do what I feel like needs to be done in whatever season we are in as I am led by the Lord. Most of the time, this is relaxed, project-based homeschooling, but I do use workbooks as we need to. Journaling helps me craft an overall vision for this. I thought I would share some of the questions I ask myself and try to record in my journal.

Printable Journaling Prompts

For the journal itself, I prefer about a 6 X 8 size, because it fits in my sling bag. I like to be able to take it everywhere I go, so I can record things as I need to. Binders and spirals have never worked for me for this reason.

Hope my PDF helps you think of ways to know your children better, so you can lead them more effectively!

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Things I've been doing in April and May. @ 4:50 PM

Thought it was time for an update bullet-point style!
  • I've binge-watched Upstairs, Downstairs, The Paradise, Mr. Selfridge, Orphan Black, and Vikings these last couple of months, while also keeping up with Once Upon a Time, The Crazy Ones, and Revolution. The latter two have since been canceled.
  • We went to Scarborough Fair on April 29th and had a great day. 
  • I am getting better at keeping house lately with my new routine. 
  • I have had a lot of headaches and migraines lately, and that has been discouraging. 
  • I am working on a scrappy journal with new pretty papers from Basic Grey. 
  • We got a new dog, whose name is not set in stone. We mostly call him Bouncing Bob, because he is very bouncy.
  • I've spent a lot of time on Pinterest trying to figure out what to do with my bedroom. I want to do a bit of Art Deco/Orient/Boho/Victorian Gothic in there. I am going to repaint the hall and bedroom.
  • I did about 5 photo shoots in the last month, and am taking a break from family shoots indefinitely because it is exhausting. 
  • I  bought some props for a personal shoot that I am excited about, and can't wait to work on.
  • My family will all be going to church tomorrow for the first time, since well, Easter, but we hadn't gone for a long time before that. 
  • I am organizing an International Fair for our homeschool group, and we are doing Norway and Denmark because of my long-running viking fascination.
  • I am also running a fundraiser for the group with homeschool t-shirts.

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My Bread Machine Routine @ 4:36 PM

Hi there, here is my May post on Managing Your Blessings, where I share a bread machine recipe and how it has help me order my day.


Monday, April 21, 2014
@ 11:00 AM

If you haven't already, please read my April post for Managing Your Blessings.

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Monday, March 31, 2014
Homeschooling Recap @ 7:52 PM

So, it's nearly the end of March, and I thought I'd do a little re-cap of what's been going on so far this year. I feel like I'm always just saying the same general thing over and over: days are long, I'm really tired, and I have to find a schedule that works 'cause I feel like we are floundering. Maybe floundering really is going to be the basic state of my life, and I need to accept this. But I am an idealist dreamer, and striving (or even intending-to-strive) keeps me mentally healthy.

On the homeschool front: (my kids are 6 - 12)

In January, I started language arts Lightunits workbooks (from Christian Light Education) with the boys. I copied the spelling words from their lessons onto worksheets that I made using the Handwriting Without Tears worksheet maker. I would also use words that I had seen them misspelling in other writing online. Then, they would work on their multiplication tables and other math.

This went on pretty well for several weeks, although it was extremely mentally exhausting for me, because it required 100% of my attention to get through their work. Bouncing back and forth like a ping-pong ball between "Mom, come here, I need your help!" and "Mom, I don't understand what I'm supposed to doooooo!" And I would want to customize things, and reinvent the wheel every single day, because I know my kids' weak areas, and I am too much of a rebel to just hand my kids a worksheet.

I discovered how challenging one of my kids found the writing, and decided I would back off. The practice was helping some, but we were regressing too. I was getting dangerously close to him losing any desire to write whatsoever, even though he was compliantly willing to complete the work I gave him.

 My fatigue has been pretty hardcore this year, and I was finally diagnosed with fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue. (Which I know some people see this as a non-diagnosis and/or symptoms of a larger problem, but I was just glad to have the more serious degenerative things ruled out.) I was prescribed an anti-depressant which I have not decided to take yet.

I am not your regular mom who wakes up and is grouchy until she gets her coffee, and then can go about her day relatively easily. I wake up in the morning, completely unrefreshed from the night's sleep; aching, crackling, and stiff. By 11:30am, I am ready for a nap. It's so hard to get anything done in the mornings. I'm experimenting a lot with finding the best time of day to do our structured activities.

My current way of homeschooling was not going to be sustainable for me. I'm not abandoning the Lightunits completely; they have their place. I need to find a home rhythm again that could keep us progressing, because the whole Minecraft from dawn 'til dusk that set in since spring break (and a week and a half of sickness running course) isn't working for me. I know structure is the answer, it just takes some fiddling to find something that works with my energy level. I think life with kids at home is constantly in flux and needs flexibility.

We have been following a classical-lite history sequence over the last four years, and we are up to 1800s - Present. Veritas Press did their annual discount on the self-paced programs, so I decided to go ahead and sign up for it again. I tried to be frugal, and just use the Story of the World Volume 4 audio, but our house is really never quiet enough to get the most of it or retain anything. This takes about 20 minutes a day per lesson. 

I also let the kids pick out some Dover coloring books according to their interests. That keeps their hands busy with concentration, and is good for motor skills. I'm working on putting together a medicinal plants unit study that will consist of growing some in pots, making some herbal homemade products, identifying and coloring the herbs in Dover coloring books. The kiddo who has trouble writing is going to start doing a typing program. 

This plan, combined with the 4H projects that they are currently taking outside of the home, leaves me feeling like we are making progress and doing something. Then I don't mind letting them play Minecraft, Star Wars and Netflixing the rest of the time while I lay down and rest.

I know my kids are going to forget most of what they learned through curricula. All this fretting about books and projects and things will seem small and inconsequential at some point. But we still have to find a way to navigate these long days, use our time wisely, and create balance. I'm getting pretty close to the tipping point where most of my kids should be old enough to manage their own itinerary (with minimal nagging on my part), and do their thing. But we have some work to do on self-discipline first.


Saturday, March 15, 2014
haven't been here in a while @ 11:57 PM

but this is what I was working on...

And it took a lot of writing, which killed me for blogging. It is my 16 page personal zine.

I've also been taking photos:

In general, just trying to be creative and use my time more wisely. If you'd like to follow our zinewriting adventures, please 'like' our facebook page, The Joy of Zines.


Saturday, January 11, 2014
January 11, 2014 @ 8:23 PM

Today was a warm, sunny, winter day. The kids went to enjoy a day with their grandparents, and Mac and I had time to hang out together. I haven't been antiquing in forever...I've refined my taste a lot over the last several years, and can no longer find much that draws my eye. It's still fun to wander around. I would have rather been in a fabric store - I want to find some unique fabrics to sew throw pillows for the sofas. Mustard yellow, salmon, mint green, and teal. Velvets and chenille.

I'm also on the lookout for tulle, lace, and satin fabrics to make dresses/skirts for an upcoming personal photo project. It did feel good to use my camera again. It's been a while.

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Wednesday, January 1, 2014
Thoughts from the holidays @ 5:59 PM

"your diaries, I read them all one day
when loneliness came and you were away
oh, they told me nothing new,
but I loved to read the words you used" 
 Things We Lost in the Fire - Bastille
  • This will be bulleted.
  • My brain fog has been thick this week. I often have to close my eyes in order to concentrate and finish my sentences. 
  • I discovered during the cruise and through Christmas how depressed and poisoned gluten makes me feel. Didn't stop me from eating tons of my family's favorite butter cookies though. 
  • We had a wonderful, stress-free Christmas. Best one in years. Our family blesses the kids (and us) with amazing gifts.
  • I've been faithfully taking yin yoga classes. It's really helping the range of motion in my neck, shoulders, back, and legs. I really recommend it for other people with joint pain.
  • I have a microwave now, and am loving making Trim Healthy Mama muffins-in-a-mug any time I want.  It is so good for me to have a gluten-free quick and filling snack.
  • I watched both of the Star Trek movies at a friend's house for New Year's Eve, and I really liked them. Young Spock is an interesting character. I haven't been watching much TV,  just catching up on Angel episodes I skipped mid-series. Sherlock returns today, and I'm excited about that. Downton season 4 was enjoyable, and no more casualties or trauma. Doctor Who has been a little disappointing the last couple of episodes, but I'm hoping Capaldi will breathe new life into Moffat's overly-ambitious-and-unevenly-paced storylines. I basically gave up on Once Upon a Time. That season long Neverland plot was WORN OUT.
  • I have been doing some rearranging after we bought some old sofas off of Craigslist. It was kinda ridiculous how there wasn't even enough seating for all the people who live here. I am looking for the perfect piece of art or decoration to go over the loveseat. Here are my ideas for sprucing up that space.
  • I'm starting a Project Life album; I have all my supplies ready to go; I just need to start taking more photographs. I'm only doing new photos from this new year - and not necessarily to document family life, but also my interests and personal growth.  
  • (I really needed something to work on. My boredom was overtaking my life and personality. It's been hard to find things for me to do that don't totally wear me out, or are too challenging emotionally/physically.)
  • This year, I want to focus on the things that I'm better at, and able to do. This is a year of acceptance of where I am. Last year was about survival mode and drifting along, and I have more understanding of what I'm capable of.  
  • This means letting go and bidding adieu to those nagging wannabe-interests and goals. The first half of last year was overload. I committed to too much (4H, homeschool co-op, playing guitar), and suffered for it the rest of the year until Jonas' accident, which forced me to cut it down to essentials. I know now how unpredictable life is, and to not get married to any notions of how things are going to be.
  •  I want to do some more reading. I've been reading Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Angel graphic novels interspersed with books about faith and theology. But I can't decide what to read next.
  • I haven't been to church in a couple of months. We're still mulling over what to do about that, but in the meantime, I'm still basking in God's love - not backsliding. ;-)
  •  The boys will be 10 and 12 this week. We'll be having another small party at home.


Friday, December 6, 2013
Fall turns to winter @ 9:57 AM

Sandcastle photo from when it was 78 degrees Wednesday, and icy pics from this (Friday) morning. I'll be back next weekend with cruise photos and stories to tell.


me and my blog

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We're a Christian unschooling family. I love photography, music, animals, theology, zinewriting, and sci-fi/fantasy TV. I'm an INFP, and I struggle with chronic health issues. This is where I journal my life.
grace mothering