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Home again, home again, jiggity jig ….

So time has really flown by in our house lately!! We have started homeschooling and just as we got a good groove going for that, we headed off to a dream vacation in Disney. Our trip started as one week and morphed into two! We are back now though, and we are once again falling back into the ebb and flow of every day life. I thought I would share a bit of our homeschooling and our trip with you today, but be on the look out for many more quilty related things to come real soon!

We started homeschool a little bit early this year for two reasons. First, I knew we would be heading to Disney in mid-September, so I wanted to start a bit early to make up for any lost time. And second, my son was excited to just get started!! We learned about many interesting things, just a few that I took pictures of are ….

Pirates …

Making a homemade compass …

Flying a Kite …

Capillary Studies …

The science of cleaning pennies …

A new hobby, letterboxing …

and a trip to the Art Museum …

We had so much fun with all our activities, and we both learned so much. My style of homeschooling would fall under the category of “Relaxed Homeschooling”. Which to us basically means we do not have a curriculum to follow. I have a general guideline of things I would like to see him learn, but for the most part I am allowing him to express his interests in a topic, and we are building our own curriculum around that. It is really working out very well for us.

Our trip to Disney was simply AMAZING. Having never been there before, I had no clue what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at every turn. I am in the process of writing up our trip report right now. I took notes after each day, so I could be sure to keep a record of this wonderful trip. I am not sure my family will have the opportunity to travel again for quite some time, so I want to be sure to remember this wonderful family trip. Here are just a few pictures of the trip.

Although the trip was so awesome, it is nice to be back home and back into the swing of things. My goal for the coming weeks is to get some tutorials done, and do some updates to the store. Be sure to keep an eye on my blog for all the fun things to come!

Happy Quilting!

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Getting Ready to Homeschool

With only 27 days left until I am done with my job (is it sad that I have a counter on my iGoogle page?), I thought I would post a little update on our homeschooling adventure. The last time I posted I got some wonderful encouraging comments from mamas that homeschooled, mamas that didn’t homeschool, mamas that wanted to homeschool, and even some peeps with no kiddos! The encouragement meant so much to me especially right at that moment because the final decision had just been made, and it was a scary one. Now that it has been a few months, and I have had time to process it all, I am at peace with this decision and I know, without a doubt, that it is the right one. Plus training your replacement at your job makes it very real, very quickly. 🙂

My son and I have been doing a few things to prepare for what’s to come. Our plan is to spend the time between leaving work and daycare (first of August) and going to Disney in mid-September detoxing from our former lives. In the homeschooling world, this is called de-schooling. A time where you just relax, go with the flow, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get stuff done, so you can make the transition more easily from a school environment to a home environment. Our intent is not to recreate school at home. I want to inspire my son to learn, but right now his only frame of reference for learning is school. Sit at your desk, do a workpaper, take a test, etc…. He still asks me if we will do these things when we are home. Even though he learns so much in a different way at night with me, the school environment is his only frame of reference for “official” learning. This is why I feel de-schooling is so important. I prefer to call it “detoxing” because that’s what it feels like to me. He has to shake off the idea of learning from a sitting-in-a-school-building perspective, I have to shake off the idea of what “work” looks like, and we both have to come to a new place where we can learn, grow, and work together. I have been reading a book on my Kindle about this very topic, I have really enjoyed reading it and will take some of her ideas to heart when we start this period in our journey. Here is a link to the book if you are interested:

My son is extremely curious and loves to learn. I have no worries about taking a more relaxed approach to learning with him. There may be some kids who, if you didn’t tell them what they needed to learn, would choose to learn nothing. This is so not my son. Every day he comes up and asks me questions. Like yesterday, he asked me “How does a basketball go flat? Does the air come out a little every time you bounce it?” A simple question, but honestly I don’t know. I mean of course it doesn’t come out in gusts or a ball would go flat all the time, but eventually balls do go flat. So is it the change in air pressure around the ball, or it is as my son surmised that a tiny bit of air leaks out each time you use it and over time that adds up to a flat ball? I told my son honestly that I wasn’t sure. Yes I could make guesses from what I know about air pressure, but the science of it, the real answer, I don’t know. And he told me back that maybe it was something we could learn about when we homeschool. That comment made my heart soar. He gets it. He finds things in the world he is curious about, and knows that we will have the opportunity to learn them when we are home together.

As I said, we have been preparing for this transition in our lives. I recently joined a large online group of homeschoolers. It is a local group, so although my interaction with them has only been mostly online so far, there are plenty of opportunities to meet up with other homeschoolers for trips, play dates, or co-ops. I haven’t been able to interact in person too much yet as I am still working, but it’s nice to see that the group will be there once we are home. Along with connecting with other homeschoolers, I have been trying to find inexpensive activities that we can do. One thing I found, that I think anyone can enjoy, was a site called Kids Bowl Free.

Basically you can sign your kids up for bowling at a local bowling alley. Your kids will get 2 free strings of bowling every single day during the summer. There are a ton of bowling alleys available in every state (just a warning, when looking at the text list of states, they aren’t in alpha order, so scroll through the whole letter to find your state), so if you are interested, you should be able to find one for your kids. Most alleys will allow kids up to age 16 or 18 and it’s for the whole summer. The alley we signed up for allows kids up to age 18, and goes until October 1. You can also pay a one time fee of $25 and get 2 strings a day for up to 4 adults. We went ahead and did this for my husband and I, and between the savings for our son and us, the $25 has already paid for itself with one game of bowling. Even though we still have to pay for shoe rentals, this will be a great activity that my son and I can do during the week. I like to have a few things like that available for when there is a lull and we just need a break. Plus bowling teaches great hand eye coordination.

Another thing we have been doing to prepare is buying books. Not school books really, but books on interesting topics we may want to learn more about. We have a great store nearby that is aptly named The Used Book Store, and the majority of their books are $1.29 to $2. Every so often they will have a 50% off sale, and my son and I have been bulking up on books during that time. We have gotten many biographies (most of which he reads as soon as we bring them home):

We have also picked up science books, how-to books, books about inventors, a road map to Mars, books about bugs, insects, animals, history books, books on astronomy, ancient Egypt, China, Japan … There are just so many interesting books and topics! I have been using a book called What Your Third Grader Needs to Know as a basis for topic ideas.

This is a great series by E. D. Hirsch and I have heard homeschooling mamas from all styles of homeschooling use this book as a guideline. I was lucky enough to find this whole series at The Used Book Store as well, so not only is it a great resource, it was a great deal. I am not going to follow this book page by page with my son, but it does give me a good outline to see some topics that are appropriate for his age. E.D. Hirsch has also released the outline of all the books in PDF form, so even if you can’t buy the books, you can have an idea of the topics covered for each grade level. You can find the free outline here.

We also look for books at yard sales and the flea market, as you can usually get books for a quarter this way. I am trying very hard to have a keen eye as I buy books. I want to buy books that will inspire a topic of learning for my son. So although it would be easy to buy up a couple hundred books in one fell swoop, we have only managed to amass about 90. The books we have gotten all relate to a topic of interest, and will be used as one tool in exploring the topic further. I have been using a site called Library Thing to help me keep track of the books we buy specifically for homeschooling. I can easily assign tags to the books, like History, Science, Biographies, Astronomy … this allows me to see what topics are covered in the books we own. I can also have a separate list for the books that my son has read. It is a requirement of the state that we pass in a reading list, and this site will help me keep track of that for him.

I know this has been a rather wordy post, but I just wanted to share some of the things we are doing for homeschooling. If you are a homeschooler, I would love to hear what you do to inspire learning in your kids, if you are thinking about homeschooling, I hope this post is an inspiration to you, and if you can’t homeschool, maybe some of the ideas here will help you during the non-school hours with your kids. Learning and growing happens all the time. Just last night, I brought one of the aforementioned books with me to the restaurant we were having dinner at. While we were waiting for the table, my son learned how a rainbow is made, if a black widow spider eats her mate, and why space is black. We aren’t officially homeschooling yet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting topics in the world that we wouldn’t like to learn more about.

Happy Learning!

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Quilting? What’s That?

Hello out there in blogland!! Today is such a dreary day outside, that I wanted to share some of my latest quilting projects with you when I realized I haven’t really been quilting lately!! I do have quite a few older projects I need to post (which I will do eventually), but between getting ready for my son to homeschool, the new quilt store, my full time job, another online business I run, a non-profit I am vice-president for, oh and being with my family, well something had to give. Sadly it was my quilting time. I have done a tiny bit of applique on my “Family Reunions” quilt, but that’s pretty much it.

Speaking of homeschooling, I think we have finally settled on a style we are going to loosely follow. It is called the “Thomas Jefferson Education”. It’s not so much a way of home schooling, but an ideal. I really like the concepts behind it, and have found some great reading materials on how other families have implemented this in their homes. You can read more about TJed at if you are interested.

I wanted to take a moment to thank those of you that took the time to comment on my last homeschooling post. Your words of encouragement mean so much to me as I go on this journey. Each day we get closer to D-Day (or would that be H-Day? LOL), I am more at ease about the process. But it is still a little intimidating to think about all the possibilities, worry about meeting new people, and making sure I don’t screw the whole thing up! So your kind words really help me know that this is the right choice, and we will be fine. So thank you.

In other exciting news, my husband and I like to mark big changes in our lives, with a fun trip. Last time we had a big change we went to Gettysburg, and this time we are going to see this guy ….

Yes, we will be going to Disney World! Yay!! I am so excited! This will be my and my son’s first time going. My husband has been before, but not for quite a while. We are taking advantage of one of the free dining offers that Disney did for 2011, so the cost is really reasonable. We are going for a whole week, so there will be plenty of time to take in all (some? very little?) of the sights. It will be just the right thing to mark the beginning of this big change in our lives.

Sorry for my ramblings today, hopefully you will find my next post more exciting! I am participating in Sew Mama, Sew‘s Giveaway Day. Be sure to check back on Monday for all the details and a fun giveaway. I haven’t decided on a prize yet, so if you want to check out my store (here) and tell me what you’d like to see as a giveaway, I may be obliged to listen.

Happy Quilting!

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Big News and a Giveaway!

Yesterday my emotions ran the gambit of utterly elated to completed frightened. It was quite a roller coaster to say the least. Since my husband got out of the Marine Corps, our family has been of the dual income kind, however starting on July 31st this will no longer be the case. Yesterday I walked into my work and submitted my resignation. It was very difficult to do as I truly enjoy my job, the company, and the people I work for. But our family path has started to head in a new direction. We just feel that our son needs to be home-schooled, even if it is just for a year. He needs the space to spread his wings and grow into himself without all the rules and restrictions that are necessary in a public school. This will not be an easy time, the budget will be small, but the rewards will be huge. I cannot wait to spend more time with this amazing kid.

So that is my big news for today. It may not be big to other people but to us, this is huge!! It will be a journey for sure, but like everything else we have done in our lives we will figure it out as we go. But now I want to tell you about the giveaway part of this blog’s title!

For the next couple months I am a sponsor on Rachel (great name! :)) Griffith’s blog, P.S. I Quilt. If you haven’t seen her blog, be sure to head over there and check it out, especially today! Rachel is hosting a giveaway in honor of my new store Dewberry Lane.

Up for grabs is a pack of CuttingEDGE rulers. I have been using these rulers for a few months now and I love them!! It took a little adjusting to get accustomed to using a new ruler, but now that I have worked out all its quirks, I adore how it really sharpens my blade as I am cutting. I haven’t had to put a new blade in since I have started using it, and I can still easily cut through 6 layers of fabric!

The giveaway is a $75.00 value and includes the following rulers:

12.5″ x 12.5″
9.5″ x 9.5″
6.5″ x 12.5″
6.5″ x 6.5″
4.5″ x 4.5″

A nice variety of sizes to fit all sorts of quilting needs. Be sure to head over to Rachel’s blog to get an entry!

Ruler Giveaway

So does anyone out there in blogland home-school? Any tips or advice? I have 3 months to get a plan together, find a group and convince myself that this was the right decision to make. 😮

Happy Quilting!