Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adventures with Homeschool Curriculum

Discovering Charlotte in an All-In-One Format

This year is our family’s fifth year of homeschooling. Like every good homeschooler, I have used the same exact company and materials for each year. NOT! Ha. Discovering your homeschool’s philosophy, style and methodology is something that takes time and patience…with a lot of experimenting thrown in for good measure. I think this is part of what makes homeschooling such a ripe arena for learning about our children and our selves. My husband and I both have a 100% public school background, so the biggest hurdle we crossed in figuring out our approach was “de-schooling” ourselves. During this time of discovery, we heavily relied on advice from seasoned homeschoolers…asking, asking and asking…until finally a dear friend led us to Charlotte Mason and all things fell into place and peace (well, at least for the most part—we do have a two year old little blessing).

Here is a brief outline of our journey through curriculum thus far:

Preschool: Little Hands to Heaven by Heart of Dakota Publishing (CM based & didn’t know it!)
Kindergarten: Sonlight and A Beka Book
First Grade: A Beka Book and my own unit studies/lapbooks~(discovered Charlotte Mason & started making changes)
Second Grade & Kindergarten: Ancient Greece by Simply Charlotte Mason & my own hodge-podge of CM style subjects gathered from online sources, Horizon Math
Third & First Grade: Adventures in My Father’s World, Teaching Textbooks Math

We are now in a happy place using My Father’s World (MFW) curriculum. They have done a fabulous job of combining three different homeschooling methods—Charlotte Mason, Unit Studies and Classical—in a multi-age format that is easy for mom and fun for the whole family. The following is a quote from the MFW catalog about the Charlotte Mason Influence on their products:

“The following key principles and ideas are integrated into our curriculum:
• Structured mornings that feature short, effective lessons with unstructured afternoons left for other activities
• Study other countries and cultures early to avoid an "arrogant" habit of mind (Year One of the family cycle—Exploring Countries and Cultures)
• Study history in chronological order and compare across countries in any given time period
• Read great literature aloud at grade level and above with featured living books and more
• "Century Books"—create timelines and history notebooks
• Weekly nature walks, including notebooking
• Children are given direct contact with the Bible at an early age”

The weekly lesson plans are set up with a four-day schedule, leaving an extra weekday for the co-ops and enrichment in which many families participate. Otherwise, that day is open for a lovely nature walk or field trip—perfect!

I have also chosen to use MFW’s suggestions for Language Arts and Spelling for their CM focus. We do a different math than suggested, but it does not interfere with the schedule. On a daily basis we complete several subjects in about 2-3 hours, sometimes less: Bible, Spelling, piano practice, History, English, Book Basket, Math, Copywork, Read Aloud, Science (2x wk), and Music (2x week). The guide also includes Art and Foreign Language if you so choose. We attend an enrichment program on Tuesdays and we are planning on joining Principle Based Learning’s Spring 2012 Session.

All in all, My Father’s World has been an answer to prayer. I do not have to do much to prepare for our week—a couple items to pick up at the grocery store and a weekly trip to the library—and the children are learning and loving it! So for now, my search and scramble in the world of homeschool curriculum is, well, no longer a search and scramble. With MFW’s plans in place, I have room in my brain to play around with ideas found online or gleaned from other families and to me, that is peace.

If you think My Father’s World might work for your family, please explore their website and request a catalog at

Saturday, January 14, 2012

French Twist with Side Braid

Ooooh, aren't you lucky! I'm such a techie blogger that you get to see today's hairstyle via not-quite-in-focus pictures from my phone. Wheee! (Can you imagine how jealous I am of the gals who really know how to do this the right way? Thanks for putting up with me!)

I've seen a lot of messy buns lately with the bangs Frenched on one side, and since I prefer a twist to a bun, I thought I'd give it a shot.

First, part your front on the side and begin to French braid at an angle to the back, but only pick up hair with the bottom strand. (Typically you pick up hair with each crossover...for this you just cross the strand closest to the top of your head without picking up additional hair.) Stop braiding when you get about above your ear or so. Secure with a clear elastic. Loosen the braid by tugging on the strands from the top to the bottom.

Now gather all your hair (including the tail of your braid) into a low pony and begin to twist upwards close along your head. BTW, those waves in my straight hair are left over from yesterday's Twisty Bun.

Take that tail and fold it in half then roll it into the "pocket" you have formed by twisting the pony up.

Using a flexi clip (you have one, right? If not, you need one...go to my Lilla Rose website over there--->in the sidebar) insert the pin along the scalp at the top of the twist and hold the hair like so (see my pointer finger grasping the twist?). You CAN use bobbies to hold this twist, but depending on the texture of your hair, it could take 2 or 20 (for me, about 10 and they will fall out!).

Bend the beaded loop of the flexi over the twist and secure the pin through the other side, locking it in place: click, click, click.

Here we go! Watch this video to see this in action:

Here's the side view:

Aaaand the not-quite-enough-sleep-but-I'm-up-doing-my-hair front view, hmmmmm:

Thanks for checking this out! I hope you can have as much fun as I do playing with some new do's!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Twisty Bun Tutorial

This is one of my very favoritest ways to wear my long hair, but it works for any length long enough to have a 2-3" long tail out of a ponytail. I call this Twisty Bun "The Anne with an 'e' " (for all you kindred spirits out there) because the friend who showed me how to do it was shown by a gal named Anne. I'm sure it has a specific name somewhere? It's a kind of twisty, messy bun and is super fun!

**(10.12 update)  I finally got this put together as a video tutorial.  A picture tutorial follows below the video frame.  Thanks for watching!**

Start with your hair half dry...leave the length partially damp and add some gel. (Those are my daughter's arms...I'm not really a contortionist with tiny hands.) One of the reasons I love this style is because it takes sooo long to completely dry my hair. This way only takes five minutes with the dryer (still ugh!).

Next, gather your hair into a pony and secure it tightly, but not too tight. You need to be able to lift one band of the elastic to secure the twists.

Section your ponytail, starting at the top right. I always think of it as a clock and you are going to alternate making twists both clockwise and counterclockwise around the pony. Twist that section of hair (you may have to fold it in half first if your hair is long like mine) then bring the end up to the elastic.

Lift up one band of the elastic and wrap the twisted section around the outside of it, tucking either the end (shorter hair) or the loop (longer hair) through half way, then let go. The elastic should be holding that twist securely. Repeat on the left side, then continue alternating and sectioning around the pony.

This is with about 6 twists done:

And wah-lah! Your finished Anne twisty bun. You can pull out some of the ends to make it more messy if you like. But wait....

It looks so much prettier with an ornament! I've tried different hair toys, but my Princess Tiara Freestyle flexi clip always wins.

Slide the pin of your flexi through the pony elastic to secure it well and to give the illusion that the clip is holding the bun.

All done and ready to face my day! Now I need a cup of tea...

Oh yes, and the bonus...the twists will curl your hair as they dry so tonight I'll have some awesome waves if I want to take it down and fix it differently.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

More Fun Hair-Dos

Okay, I'm not a "junkie" yet, but Pinterest has piqued my interest in more fun hair styles! I've tried several and posted them on my Lilla Rose facebook page, but thought I would put a few up here.

Today's do, and actually not even from Pinterest! I've done this before but it's holding the best ever today.

It's called the Gibson Tuck. You start with a low topsy-tail, then if you have shorter hair you tuck the tail up into the pocket formed when you flipped the pony. Mine is too long to do that...the tail falls/pokes out through the rolled sides. So I twisty braided the tail and rolled it into a kind of bun and secured it with a flexi clip (you do own one of these now, don't you?). Fabulous. Didn't even need a single bobby pin!

I found this one on The Small Things Blog. It's her Notty or Nice Holiday Hairstyle. I really like it and will wear it again soon...this was just a late-night trial.

And finally, the braided bun from The Beauty Department:

Eric really likes this. I wore it for one of our family Christmas get-togethers and found it to be surprisingly comfy. I counted at least 24 bobby pins to hold up the five braids all day, but it held nice & solid and flat to my head so I could lean back in the car on the drive down. I thought the flexi added some bling but didn't end up leaving it in...maybe a little TOO much in the fancy department LOL.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Naught so Resolute Resolutions

Every year starts with the similar run down, right? Eat better, work out, read this, don't do that...etc. etc.

I decided to give life a little twist this time around and take things on the lighter side:

My 2012 List of Stuff I Might Decide To Do More Often

1. Watch more TV. Esp. BBC.
2. Indulge in more chocolate.
3. And cookie dough.
4. Don't worry about the dirty kitchen floor.
5. Let the kids fight it out.
6. Enforce naptimes. For myself.
7. Give away more money.
8. Start school whenever we've all ate breakfast. Even if that's 10.
9. Keep my nails painted. Nicely. But don't pay for a manicure.
10. Love freely. Love deeply. Love much.

Have a wondrous 2012 friends!