Thursday, January 16, 2014

Homeschooling My 2 Year Old

I was homeschooled from pre-school through highschool and then I completed a Biblical Studies degree online from Moody Bible Institute, so I kind of homeschooled college as well! The self-motivated learning style suited me very well and I am pleased with my education and the plethora of benefits that schooling at home has brought forth. I have been teaching children at church for many years and am thankful that teaching is one of gifts! That being said, we have decided to homeschool Emma for at least the first few years of her life. I don't think that homeschooling is the only right way to educate (in fact I think ALL methods of education are flawed), but I feel confident that we have chosen the best path we know how during this season of our lives.

When Emma was born, we began the lifelong process of teaching her to be teachable. I got excited about each milestone she reached and encouraged her to go farther or try again. She seems to pick up things very quickly which has left both Mike and I wondering "what should we teach her next?" Below is a list of activities that we would like to "study" with Emma in 2014. This will be our little curriculum guidelines even though we aren't using any official textbooks. We may be working on some of these for a very long time but I am excited to see my little 2 year old expand her knowledge and grow!

~Create a leaf collection of pressed leaves, labeled and identified.
~Work on cloud recognition
~Plan some seeds and watch them grow

Social studies:
~Discuss family structure and family trees
~Work on map skills (directions, geography, etc)

~Learn to set the table herself (this involves matching with a diagram, confidence in completing by herself, care in handling dishes, participation in family chores, and counting skills. I am pumped about this one!)
~Discuss saving money
~Keep working on sorting
~Be able to count from 10-20
~Continue discussing the idea of addition and subtraction

~Listen and retell a story
~Dictate a letter to mom

This blog will be a great way for me to be held accountable to be faithful in teaching these skills to Emma (even if it takes us two years to accomplish some of these things instead of one). I hope to update in at least June and December as to her progress.

Woot! I'm excited!! This makes me feel much more like a homeschooled mom instead of just an invested mother of a toddler. ;)

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Word of the year 2014

2013's word was EXCESS. I managed to donate about 700 items in the course of the year. We have less stuff (although it still seems like a lot when it's not organized) and I feel so much more free. No regrets whatsoever about getting rid of what we don't need.

2014's word is THANKFULNESS. I finally read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp in November and it had a beautiful impact on me. Most importantly I was struck by her point that in Philippians 4:11-12, Paul says "I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (emphasis added). He says "learned" twice, implying that thankfulness and contentment are LEARNED via practice.

So I have decided in 2014, I am going to be more thankful. I am going to train my brain to give thanks in everything because this is God's will for me (1 Thess. 5:18). I am keeping a journal all year of things that I am thankful for. Naming my blessings makes them more real. So here we go!


Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013 Recap!



Word of the year: Excess. I dedicated myself to purge, clean, use less and recycle more.
This cutie got cuter and cuter:

Downton Abbey season finale costume party at our house:

Mike and I vacationed in Florida which included this bucket list item--swimming with manatees:

Happy Easter!

Mike began an insane few months of work which included 2 days off in 34 days and then worked 21 days straight after that. It was a challenge for us all. This period lasted through August.
Had a potential miscarriage. Bled for 30 days but we never had a positive pregnancy test. Blessed be the name of the Lord.


Weekend to Remember marriage conference
Donated 200 items to Goodwill
Little punkin':


Road trip to Saint Louis for my cousin Nathan's wedding where we were able to introduce Emma to wonderful goodies like the Posh Nosh and Ted Drewes. Yum!

Two of my best friends announced they were pregnant
Scafuri bakery opened around the corner and our lives (and waistlines) will never be the same
Donated 400 items to Goodwill (goodbye excess!):


Started the second part of my Invisalign journey. I'll be done June 2014!
Bought a ukulele!

Got to hang with this sweet girl a lot (and really there are few things better than Chicago in the summertime):

Another 34 days work stretch for Mike


Road trip to Camp Barnabas with my sister and niece:

 I got to hang out with this cabin of special ladies for a week:

I was blessed to be a bridesmaid in my friend Debbie's wedding (and hang with sweet friends):


Begin potty training Emma (still working on that one)
VBS at Moody Church where the friendship between Emma and her BFF Kaja kept growing (while their mothers plotted to rule the kingdom as Lady Lin and Sir Wally!)!

Bought Emma a life jacket and she took off in the water this summer:

Helped Mom begin re-landscaping her front yard and pulled out several of these HORRIBLE roots.

 Eva (from my fabulous small group) got married!

We made it through Mike's busy work schedule. Praise the Lord!!
Last minute trip to Italy. We literally bought our tickets one week out. We visited Rome and Umbria--it was wonderful!

Emma graduated from the church nursery to her first real classroom setting
We celebrated Emma's second birthday with a chilly picnic at the beach! Some family from Taiwan was in town which made it even more fun!

Emma discovered how fun it is to dress up:


Trip to KY to visit precious friends!

I was blessed to take care of my friend Mary's service-dog-in-training for a few days to work with him on city living! He lay at my feet for several hours while we all cheered for my friend AMY who ran the Chicago marathon!

 Apple picking with small group friends:

Saw this picture of a deaf 9 year old in China and started researching adoption (I have more info on him if you're interested--he needs a family and unfortunately I am just not old enough. But I can be his advocate to find him a loving home where he can have a chance at a successful life and hearing about Jesus!).


Took a lindy hop swing dance class with my husband
Mike got an espresso machine (coolest new hobby ever!)
We went to Tampa (again) for Mike's co-worker Monal's wedding
More outside demo at my parent's house--tough boys against tough roots. The boys won:

 Emma got to meet and bond with her Great Grandmother who visited us from Taiwan for a month.

 Thanksgiving with both sides of my family (I love these people):

Realized that adoption from China under the age of 30 is impossible. But learned much about adoption and my heart strings are pulled!
Foxy lady baby number 4 was born: little Isaiah Schwartz (and you can see foxy lady baby number five still in his mommy's belly!):
Emma upgraded to a toddler bed and is loving it!

Another foxy lady baby was born: Tristan Hontz
I read 55 books this year including the Mark of the Lion series, Twilight series, Huger Games series and the Harry Potter series.
Cookie baking weekend extravaganza 2013 was a success (something like 15 kinds of cookies in three days).

Mike worked Christmas week but we make it work and have a lovely Christmas with the family. Gift highlights for me included: new slippers, a cast iron skillet, and rock climbing shoes! Emma got some amazing dress up costumes and 19 puzzles! Mike received some gadgets for his espresso machine! We celebrated Christ's birthday by exchanging gifts and pausing to reflect on the reality of Emmanuel--GOD WITH US. Wow!

2013 was sometimes tricky, full of travel, and also full of learning and growth! I am so excited about Mike's less stressful work schedule this next year and to see Emma continue to grow. I am ever thankful for my supportive husband and sweet-natured daughter. Truly there is MUCH to be thankful for! Blessings to you all in the new year!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Facebook Excess and Update

I've been trying to find more areas of excess in my life as I journey through this year. Next on the chopping block is Facebook. I just don't need to be friends with people I don't like, used to know, met once, don't recognize, etc. So I have deleted quite a few of late. I have no desire to offend, just to cut down on my newsfeed information so that I can spend less time of my life getting all this "vital" information. I also have stopped myself from logging on several times of late--I just don't need to see everything that goes on, but I DO enjoy staying in touch with certain people via this means. So I'm trying to be sensitive to using Facebook in balance (easier said then done).

Next up: Word files on the computer (eek).

I am becoming more and more aware of excess sugar in my life. Spring is a perfect time to start hitting up the farmer's markets and changing our eating habits for the better, but I do so love certain processed foods. I'm worried...

Any suggestions of other things I can focus on or things you have stopped from being excessive in your life? I have cut down on clutter in a mighty way in every room of my house, picture files on the computer, Facebook, shopping, etc. What's next (insert sinister laughter here)??

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Possessions Fast and HUGE Yard Sale!

Ever read the book "Seven: an Experimental Mutiny Against Excess" by Jen Hatmaker? Last year my Sunday school class studied it in book club and this month the time came for application! Two friends from our church are flying to Africa to run a 54 mile marathon all to raise money for World Vision--to provide clean water to those in need amongst the African continent. It is a HUGE accomplishment that they are raising so much support and awareness. Our class was charged to set aside 7 items a day for the month on April to donate to a yard sale. All profit from the yard sale will go toward World Vision. As my word of the year is excess this couldn't have come at a more perfect time.

My first thought was "SEVEN items a day? That's 210 items in a month! I'll aim for 200." Yesterday I dropped off my items to the yard sale location and I tallied up 350 items. THREE HUNDRED FIFTY! That's disgusting considering that it didn't even hurt. To throw away that many items, I didn't have to get to the point of sacrifice where it stung to throw things away. My husband has not even noticed what is gone--we didn't even make a dent. Sick... That is a selfish hoarding of resources from others. I am not proud of giving away 350 items, I wish it was double that. My sweet man didn't even have time to go through his stuff! That is just me, my one daughter, and household items. Big wake up call to me that I need to keep going, keep giving away and keep my possessions under control so that I am not distracted. To be distracted by stuff and kept from what truly matters--relationships--is a waste.

Enough with the heavy. If you are in the Chicago area you NEED to check out this epic yard sale:

Date: Saturday, May 4th (rain or shine!)
Time: 8am - 12 pm (please, no early birds)
Location: 3700 block of North Paulina
Purpose: To raise money for the World Vision charity (all proceeds will go directly to them)
All items priced to sell! No reasonable offers refused!!

Some of our items include: Infant (blankets, bedding, boppies, carriers, breast feeding/pumping supplies, bumbos), toddler, and child games, toys, clothes, and supplies. Men's clothing (lots of suits and shoes too), Women's clothing (J Crew and other great brands), jewelry, bags/purses, camping supplies, ice skates, lacrosse sticks, volleyball net, tennis rackets, tables, chairs, electronics (printers and tv's, playstations), picture frames, art, kitchen stuff, linens, collectibles and memorabilia, gifts and gadgets, holiday items, and much more!

Spread the word! Consider making a donation to here to World Vision!

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Monday, April 8, 2013

DIY $2 Sweater to Cardigan

As soon as I saw this sweater at the thrift store for $2, I was in love. I am crazy about stripes and yellow right now, so this was a "duh" moment for me. However, it was a smidge too small, so I followed this tutorial (that I discovered a while ago thanks to Pinterest) to help me cut it down the middle, hem under the sides and turn it into a cardigan. I may add a button or two later or I may just leave it as it. Couldn't be happier with how this came out. Yay!
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Friday, April 5, 2013

Possessions Fast

Two friends at church are running the 54 mile Comrades Ultra Marathon in South Africa to raise money for World Vision (an organization that provides clean water to many). To help raise money, my Sunday school class has organized a possessions fast. Let me know if you want to join us (and how timely that this is happening during my focus on "excess" this year)!

Join us in going on a Possessions Fast for the month of April. The possessions that you collect will be sold to raise funds for World Vision as Anthony (pictured above) and Wendy prepare to run 54 miles in the Comrades Ultra Marathon (South Africa). Details for the fast are below.
Possessions Fast
- Collect 7 possessions per day for every day in April that you can do without.
- Retain the 210 possession at your home until the end of the month
- Deliver your possessions to a designated location after the fast.
- Your possessions will be sold to raise funds for World Vision.

If you want to participate, let me know and I will forward you the contact info of the people organizing it!