Friday, February 22, 2013

Homeschooling Mosaics:The Peaceful Mom's Blog Planner Review

Click here to download the blog idea page
I am pretty much a fly by the seat of my pants blogger. I think of a topic, I sort of plan it out in my head, and I write. Of course, since I often write reviews and do giveaways this can lead to a bit of a problem. Due dates have never been my forte to say the least! Talk about ironic when I was asked to review a blog planner for Homeschool Mosaics!

Click here to download the weekly planning page
What I was wanting in a blog planner was simple. I needed something that didn't have tons of printable pages, columns, or too many pages to choose from. I found just that with The Peaceful Mom's Blog Planner! The Peaceful Mom blog planner offers a 6 page printable planner (found toward the bottom under "Blogging") with pages for daily, weekly and monthly planning, blog ideas, a password keeper, an affiliate tracking sheet and an accounting page. I really only used the weekly planner and idea pages because I find myself overwhelmed if I try to plan too much ahead and my blog doesn't make money so I didn't need the accounting page.

I loved the simplicity of the pages. Since I find myself overwhelmed with these sorts of planners quite easily it was great to have a nice crisp clean page to write on. I also loved that it didn't take a ton of paper or ink to print it out. After all free isn't free if it cost $10 in ink and paper! Which brings me to be best thing about this planner: the price. The Peaceful Mom offers her printable planner for free!

Since I do not monetize my blog, but I do review quite a few products, it would have been nice to have a page to keep up with my review items. You can do it on the monthly calendar, but I prefer more of a list approach since I may have one due in February and another due in March. Having them in one location would save having to print out several months worth of calendar pages.

I don't know if I have been cured of my spontaneous blogging bug, but if I definitely enjoyed the organization while it lasted!

This is a free product that I reviewed without compensation. All opinions expressed are 100% mine. To see my full disclosure visit the link at the top of the home page.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

When He Doesn't Say Thank You

I woke up that morning determined. With my hair in a bun and my cleaning clothes on I began cleaning our 2100 square foot home from top to bottom. Not an easy feat with 2 toddlers and a new born! I scrubbed toilets and floors, dusted shelves, tidied toys; it looked fantastic. I spent the entire day thinking about how my husband was going to come into the house and just gush over all my hard work. I just knew he would! How could he not?

That evening when he walked in, he didn't say much. I waited patiently for him to "turn off" work mode and notice all the effort I had put in that day. Instead of telling me how wonderful it all looked, or thanking me for doing it, he walked straight to a single piece of paper that had been over looked on the floor, picked it up and threw it in the trash with a sigh. I was devastated.  I mean truly hurt.

Let me preface the rest of this post by saying that I am not excusing my husband's behavior that day and I know he wouldn't either. For whatever reason (I can't remember), he walked in, in a bad mood and could only focus on what had been missed. We talked and he apologized and made it right. His sin, was not my fault and I am not taking responsibility for it.

However, he was not the only one who sinned that day. It occurred to me much later, that I had become reliant on his gratitude in order to motivate me into cleaning. If he wasn't grateful why should I bother? I had spent hours cleaning my house for my husband and when he didn't appreciate the effort I was heart broken. Had I been cleaning my house because I wished to honor the Lord through my service, I would not have been! Instead of considering the eternal value of having served my family as commanded, I was looking for the momentary satisfaction of a few words! As a result, my house would often decline into a state of chaos. For some reason I had decided that it was better to live in that chaos than to risk not getting that thank you.

There are still days when I don't manage my time efficiently and my husband walks into a chaotic home. There are others when, time just gets away and despite my best effort things still don't get done. There are still days when I work hard, get it all done and I crave that thank you. Sometimes I get it and sometimes I don't, but I am slowly but surely learning that when I am serving that my joy is found in obedience to Christ and his word and not in the words of a man, even if he is my husband.

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Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine Hostile Toward Homeschooling?

Normally I take anti-homeschool articles with a grain of salt, especially ones that are written for parenting magazines by teachers, but since Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine was not only implying they were anti-homeschool, they were down right hostile towards me personally, I felt the need to share my experience and recommend against the magazine.

The Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine article "Old School" (if this doesn't directly link it is on page 15) was published in Febuary 2013's online magazine. The article bothered me just enough with its insinuation that homeschooling cannot give an adequate homeschooling experience that I decided to post my disappointment on their Facebook wall. When you consider that the author of the article owns a school it is not surprising how he views it. I was not the only one who read the article and didn't care for it. Most magazines welcome reader feedback and graciously take such comments into consideration. Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine however, rebutted my comment by telling me that the magazine was not attacking homeschooling and they posted a link to this:

Did that hurt you as much as it hurt me? At first I thought she must not actually be a homeschooler. She sounds a lot like someone who has read about homeschooling and then tried to make judgements without any real experience. It sounded, ignorant. Not that the woman was stupid, but just that she didn't have first hand experience. Any homeschooler knows that the one thing you don't do, is tell people that homeschoolers have socialization issues. All one needs to do is a quick Google search to learn that this is a myth. She made homeschooling sound like a hard, boring and isolating experience, when in reality it is a joyful, exciting, friend and family filled experience! It is a journey that parents take with their children that is so full of love and life that it is hard to imagine that the only two things she could muster up regarding homeschooling was that it has the potential for socialization problems and takes up a lot of time. Of course it takes up time! Homeschooling is a way of life! Life takes up time! What is worst is that she presumed to speak for all of us. She took her anecdotal experiences and labeled us all. Don't we get enough of that from the mainstream? She had a wonderful platform on which to encourage parents who are considering homeschooling, but instead chose to focus on the myth of socialization. Since the person who represented Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine on Facebook, (I am not certain if she was the woman interviewed), said she had been homeschooling, working with homeschoolers, and so on for 25 years, you would have thought she would have had some insight into how homeschoolers were going to react to her perpetuating myths about homeschooling.

So to continue my experience, I was told by the magazine what a negative person I was and as my last reply, I posted something similar to what I just posted above on the Facebook thread. I believe I posted in a respectful way, though disagreeing and saying quite clearly how I felt. Unfortunately, rather than discuss how the magazine could in future, use a more positive article, I have been deleted from the page and blocked from commenting.

The reaction to the productive conversation that was going on leads me to conclude that Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine, is in fact, trying to silence those who do not agree with their view on homeschooling: homeschooling is OK at best, and you are cheating your child if you do not give them a public school experience. Oh, and don't disagree with us or we will delete you. As a homeschooling parent and a reader who was blocked and deleted for daring to disagree, I recommend you do not support Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine by subscription or otherwise.

Oh, by the way, homeschooling is the original "Old School".

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Why I don't Make My Children Share

"Mom! He won't share his firetruck with me and I want to play with it!
Oh, well remember what I told you? You can't force other people to share, but just remember that when you bring a toy."

When the girls were little, because they were so close in age they shared everything. Birthday gifts, clothing, shoes, you name it. It was just easier for them that way and it was easier for me. As soon as the girls hit about five years old, they suddenly became aware that their gifts were just that, theirs. I am sure you can imagine the aftermath of this revelation. It was miserable. One screaming, but it is my gift while the other is screaming share! What a confusing message I was sending! In a way it was almost cruel to give my daughter a gift only to insist that she give it to her sister in the form of "sharing".

I know what you are thinking. I am that mom. The one with the spoiled child whose children sit around yelling "mine" any time they have friends over. Actually, it is quite the opposite, once we stopped forcing them to share, they became more generous with their toys!

We all have private property. If you needed/wanted to use my cell phone, you wouldn't walk up to me demanding or expecting to use it. You would ask and if I said no you wouldn't keep insisting. You would respect my private property. Children are often not afforded the same respect in regards to their property. What does not forcing my children to share actually teach them?

First, it teaches them that others have to respect their property. This can include everything from clothing, to toys or even their own bodies. They know that no one (except for those in authority over them) have the right to put their hands on their property without permission. We teach them how to handle individual violations appropriately.

Second, it teaches them that they do not have the right to put their hands on anyone elses property. If we are going to expect others to respect our private property, we must learn to respect others. Sometimes, it leads to being disappointed by someone not wanting to share. This teaches empathy.

Third, because they have discovered for themselves that not being willing to share sometimes leads to the other child not wanting to play with them, they have become more generous because they have figured out that it leads to more friends!

I know that mom I quoted above thought I was teaching my child that he doesn't have to share. And she is right, but what I am teaching him is that sharing brings joy to others and in turn brings joy to us. As a result I have three children who are almost always willing to share, even their special toys.

What are your thoughts on sharing?

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Real Food Recipe #1 Flank Steak Fajitas

I am so tired of finding "real food" menu plans that sport a ton of packaged and processed foods! When I think of real food I am thinking properly raised meats like grass-fed beef and pastured chicken, organic veggies, and homemade stocks. That is not to say I don't take the easy route every now and then and used a packaged product, but I like for 90% or more of our meals to be real goodness to be REAL FOOD! I am going to attempt to post a weekly dinner recipe. I will base portions on my family of 5 (2 adults and 3 children) and will also let you know if we have left overs. Please be sure to come back and let me know if you used any of the recipes and also feel free to let me know if I use an ingredient that you don't believe to be healthy. I am learning all the time and sometimes get it wrong!

For every menu you can assume that I use all organic ingredients and properly raised meats. I also always use raw dairy. We do not have allergies, but limit grains to about once or twice a week.

Photo used with permission courtesy of 100 Days of Real Food

This recipe is heavily inspired by the one I found on 100 Days of Real Food. We differ a tad on what we consider to be Real Food so it is tweaked to fit my requirements! If you get a chance head on over and visit. Her recipes tend to be very easy to tweak where I don't agree!

Flank Steak Fajitas

Grocery List:
1.5lbs flank steak
1.5 TSP chili powder
1 TSP coriander (I sometimes use paprika as well)
1 TSP cumin
1/2 TSP sea salt or kosher if you prefer
1/4 TSP black pepper
2 TBS coconut aminos (this is our soy substitute of choice)
1 jalapeno seeded and chopped
2 cloves minced garlic
2-3 bell peppers sliced
1 onion sliced
Fresh tortillas (optional) or use lettuce for a grain free alternative
Traditional fajita fixins

Mix dry spices and rub down meat all over. Be sure to get the bottom and sides!

Slow Cooker as suggested by 100 Days of Real Food: Place steak in slow cooker on high and pour coconut aminos over it. Throw the jalapeno, garlic, bell peppers and onion on top. Cook for 5-6 hours or until can be easily shredded with a fork. If you want to cook on low add about 2 hours to that.  This is a great way to start dinner if you need to be out for the day.

Grill: Place dry rubbed meat into a baking dish, top with coconut aminos, jalapeno, garlic, bell pepper and onion. Cover and place in fridge for at least 2 hours but the more the better. I marinaded mine for about 6 hours. Place meat on grill and cook until meat reaches your preferred finish. Place vegetables into a stirfry pan and saute until warm but still crisp.  Slice meat at an angle and fix your fajita with your favorite toppings. I suggest raw cheddar, raw sour cream, avocado and spinach!


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