Archives for June 2013

Learn to Make Hand-Dipped Beeswax Candles

Learn to Make Hand-Dipped Beeswax Candles @ponderthepath

We have had so much fun making our own beeswax candles. Even though they are somewhat short and squatty, it makes our home feel so warm and welcoming every time I light one. And the smell. I just adore the smell.

Want to make your own? Join me at The Happy Housewife and I will show you how!

Be Encouraged Homeschool Mom

How to Stay Encouraged While Homeschooling

Homeschooling is tough.

It is an absolute battle.

Homeschool Beginnings

For many of us, we entered into this homeschool thing with visions of children sitting quietly at their desk working on their schoolwork. We just knew they would sit and play lovingly and kindly with their siblings all day. And because we are at home all day, we can keep the house clean and wonderful meals ready at 12:00 and 5:00 everyday.

And then reality sets in. Kids rebel, siblings fight, the house looks like a tornado came through, and we struggle just to get the kids a sandwich at 1:30. It doesn’t take long for the honeymoon to end and we realize just how hard it is to be a homeschooling mother.

Our Homeschool Journey

I remember when I first started homeschooling 12 years ago. My oldest daughter had gone to public school for kindergarten and 1st grade. We began homeschooling her for 2nd grade and her brother was preschool age. I spent hours, days, weeks setting up our schedule and planning how things were going to be. I planned that we would say a prayer, then the pledge of allegiance in the morning. Then we would sing songs and sit at the table while each child worked on their projects and schoolwork.

Then we started school.

No one was ready on time. Everyone was grouchy (especially me). Attention spans were short. 2nd graders did not like preschoolers to mess with their things and preschoolers screamed because they couldn’t mess with 2nd graders things. By lunch time, Mama was exhausted and hadn’t even thought about what to eat for lunch.

Read-alouds were scheduled for after lunch and most days Mama fell asleep reading and missed doing all the afternoon lessons she had scheduled.

In short, I felt like a failure.

For many years.

Being Discouraged

I had the fierce desire to homeschool. I knew that it was exactly what the Lord wanted us to do. I just didn’t realize how hard is was really going to be. I didn’t understand that it encompassed your whole being. Physically, emotionally, spiritually–they are all impacted by homeschooling.

And to make matters worse, I had to keep all my frustrations, my fears, my failures locked up inside. I couldn’t let my husband know how hard it really was because then he wouldn’t believe in me. He had only reluctantly agreed to homeschool after my begging and pleading. It wouldn’t have taken much for him to change his mind and send them back to public school.

So I plodded on, day by day, hoping to make some progress. And the Lord filled in all the gaps I had missed. He gently taught me and I in turn taught them. My husband came around and realized the benefits of homeschooling. And we graduated our first student last May.

I wish I could say “and I never have hard times anymore”. As we enter our 13th year of homeschooling, the battle has become even more fierce. There are now more children of all different ages. The “newness” of homeschooling has worn off and the reality of a life of teaching your children has set in. There are new challenges and obstacles to be faced each and every day.

Encouragement from the Lord

I am in continual need of encouragement.

Definition of Encourage @ponderthepath

The first definition Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives for encourage is “to give courage to”. It takes courage to keep your children home and attempt to teach them. It takes courage to step out against the grain and say “we are going to dare to be different”. It takes courage to put aside your own desires and dreams and embrace the dream the Lord has for you.

Many times when I think of the word “encourage”, I envision a pat on the back and some nice words letting the person know that it will be alright. And yes, this can be encouraging. But I really think encouragement is so much bolder. When we give encouragement to someone, we should be giving them the COURAGE to get the job done!

Definition of Courage @ponderthepath

I love 3rd definition of courage here, where the Webster’s 1828 dictionary says that courage is “that quality of mind which enables men {and women} to encounter danger and difficulties with firmness, or without fear or depression of spirits! WOW! That is what I need. The ability to face the difficulties of homeschooling with firmness, without fear, and without depression of spirits!

How many times have I let fear overtake me and become depressed because homeschooling was so overwhelming? Too many! As a homeschooling mom, I need to be encouraged {given courage} to get the job done.

Did you know that in the book of Joshua, the Lord tells Joshua at least 9 times to “be strong and of a good courage”? Joshua was headed into battle. God didn’t tell him that there wouldn’t be difficulties. He didn’t downplay what Joshua was going through. He didn’t give him an easier route to take. Instead, he imparted courage to Joshua.

Joshua 1:9
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.

This same commandment is given to us, homeschooling moms!

Be encouraged!

Don’t be afraid or disheartened!

The Lord is with you wherever you are!

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This post and many more are part of the Teach Them Diligently Summer of Encouragement Link Up series! You can read More about How to Stay Encouraged While Homeschooling HERE

Disclosure Policy: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Cloth Diapers

Fuzzi Bunz @ponderthepath

Our little guy turned 2 in April and has been showing signs of being ready to potty train for some time.  With a recent move and the busyness of settling into our new home, I have had to put potty training on the back burner.  In the mean time, I thought I would share our diapering experience.

We have used cloth diapers (Fuzzi Bunz) off and on for the last 8 years.  I started using them with my 4th child.  At the time, we lived in base housing and didn’t pay for utilities.  We used cloth diapers exclusively with her and had a very easy time potty training her at 2 years old.

With our 5th child, we started with cloth diaper intending to use them exclusively, but moved to Spain when he was 5 months old.  The washers/dryers in Europe a made to wash clothes for a family of 2…teeny tiny.  And one load of laundry takes about 3 hours to wash and dry.  I was always backed up on laundry and the cost of running the washer and dryer so much was outrageous.

Something had to give and I ended up using disposables most of the time.  Right after he turned 2 we move to Texas and I started using cloth diapers with him for a couple of months before potty training him.

With our 6th child, I again started using cloth diapers intending to do so long term.  Another move and a difficult “washing dilemma” caused me to use disposables throughout most of his diaper wearing years.  Now that we have moved back to Texas, I am in the same situation with him as I had been with child #5.  I put him in cloth diapers with the intentions of potty training soon.

Why Cloth Diapers

  • Cheaper – Generally cloth diapers have a great cost savings over using disposables.  The cloth diapers I purchased were not the cheapest ones, but they are very well made.  This has allowed me to use them with 3 children now, and they are still in great shape (in case I need to use them with more).  

    There is an additional expense in water/electricity, but depending on your situation you might even save money washing and drying.  For instance, our water supply is well water, so we don’t have a water bill.  There have been times we have used a clothes line to dry our diapers (it is actually better for them) to save on the cost of electricity.

  • Healthier – Cloth diapers do not contain chemicals that can both irritate baby’s skin or get into their urinary/reproductive tracts.  I always cringe when I have to wipe off gel pieces from my baby’s bottom knowing that they just can’t be good for them.

    On the other hand, with cloth diapers you really have to makes sure that they get thoroughly washed out so that there are no harmful bacteria left in the diapers. With my 5th son, he had thrush and a yeast rash as a baby. I washed his diapers thoroughly and added apple cider vinegar to the wash to make sure all the organisms were killed.

  • Simpler – Some may snicker at the thought of cloth diapers being simpler, but really they are. Yes, they can be extra work, but honestly, I find it to be rewarding work. There is just something so inherently simple about diapering your child in the same way they have been diapered for thousands of years. Everyone may not appreciate the nostalgia but I happen to like it.

    Yes, I do have to work harder. Yes, there are times that cloth diapers can be messier. And yes, sometimes they are downright inconvenient. But there is something so sweet about seeing your little one toddle around in their big bulky cloth diaper, knowing that it was the work of your hand that keeps that diaper on their bum.

Baby with Fuzzi Bunz @ponderthepath

Cloth Diapers and Potty Training

I have found that using cloth diapers before potty training has been such a tremendous help in facilitating the training. Although cloth diapers absorb the wetness, they don’t completely wick away the moisture like disposables do. Consequently, the youngsters “feel” the wetness against them.

In my experience, this has helped become more aware of the entire act of going potty. By the time my kids are nearing 2 years of age, being wet or dirty really starts to bother them. They will often take off their diaper after they have gone (not always the best thing, but at least they are learning).

Another benefit with the pocket diapers is that you can remove one or both of the inserts (I use 2 inserts for diapers) to use them as training pants. I have also been able to slip the diapers on and off like underwear leaving them buttoned up. Or if they have gone in the diaper, you can always lay them down and unbutton them to avoid the mess of pulling them down.

How-to’s of Cloth Diapering

I try to keep things as simple as possible so that cloth diapering is doable for us. When my babies are little, I try to have about 24 small diapers. As they get older, I move them to size large and just put them on the tightest snap. With the first child I cloth diapered, I used medium when they were young and moved to large. (However, I gave the mediums to a friend, so when I went to buy diapers again I just bought small.)

All that to say that you can get by with just 2 sizes. For the larger size, I keep about 18 on hand but generally just use 10 or so by the time they are 1 1/2 to 2.

What I do is keep a bucket/tub/trash can (I have used all 3) on the dryer. When they wet their diaper, I toss it into the bucket. If they dirty their diaper, I take it to the toilet and get as much off as I can using toilet paper. I then put the diaper in the bucket.

I like to wash diapers every day because they start to smell (worse than normal) if I take longer than a day to wash. To wash, I hold the diaper by the front corners and shake out the inserts into the washer. Then I toss the diaper in as well. I wash the diapers once with cold water/no detergent just to rinse them out and get all the yuckies off. I then wash a second time with hot water/detergent. I use Charlie’s Soap to wash my diapers (I use Amazon’s Subscribe and Save to get my Charlie’s soap cheaper). Once the diapers are washed, I rinse them a second time just to make sure the soap has all been rinsed out. Then I toss them in the dryer to dry or hang them out.

It does seem like somewhat of a process, but really when you get a system down it is not bad at all. I usually wash the load on the small load size setting, so it doesn’t take as long to fill up with water.

Disclosure Policy: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Turtles in the Snow Cheesecake Bars

{In our house, my 16 year old son is our dessert connoisseur. That is why I collaborated with him on a new recipe to enter in an online contest. Our favorite recipe was eliminated because it took longer than 30 minutes to prepare. I decided to share it with you all because I am sure you won’t mind waiting for this one to chill. It is definitely worth the wait!}

Turtles in the Snow Cheesecake Bars

Crust:
1 stick butter, melted
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar

Filling:
2 8 ounce packages cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons flour
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream

Topping:
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped pecans
3/4 cup coconut flakes
3/4 cup caramel sauce (you can make your own by melting caramels with a dash of milk and a sliver of butter)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix ingredients for crust and press into a 9 x 13 inch pan.
Bake for 6-8 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix cream cheese and sugar until fluffy. Beat in flour, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream. Pour over crust. Top with chocolate chips, pecans, and coconut, pressing down slightly. Bake 25 minutes. Turn off oven and allow cheesecake to cool in oven with door slightly ajar for 45 minutes. Refrigerate 2 hours. Drizzle caramel sauce over cheesecake bars before serving.

Homeschool Mother’s Journal: Our Week

HMJ-Logo-Landscape-500x337

This week has been a particularly busy week for the Lucero family. Our homeschooling was put on hold several weeks ago with our move to Texas, but our learning never gets put on hold. One of the greatest blessings of homeschooling is that we get to experience learning in everything we do.

Join me at So You Call Yourself a Homeschooler where I am sharing our fun filled week in the Homeschool Mother’s Journal!