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Archive for April, 2011

My dear friend, Monique, makes great stuff.  She is not a professional seamstress, nor has she been crafting for a super-long time.  So, what is her secret?  She only uses materials she loves.  When she falls in love with a pattern, she does not source out the cheapest $2/yd sale fabric she can find to make it (like I normally would).  She goes to our favourite local fabric shop and finds a piece of fabric worthy of the pattern.  When she is done her project, she usually really loves it.

When I settle for a fabric I don’t really love simply because it is on sale or is very inexpensive, I often end up with a project I like, but don’t love.  It is a bit of a let-down to put all that work into something only to have it turn out to be ho-hum.

No more.  Of course, there is nothing at all wrong with a sale and I will continue to look for great bargains on fabric.  However, I will only buy the fabric if I love it because if it is inexpensive, but I don’t really love it, it is a waste of money and not thrifty at all.

Awhile ago, I got a great deal on some fabric that I did love.  I bought it from  a mama I know online.  I bought several fabrics from her including the one used for the project below, one yard of iced giraffes cotton interlock.  I wanted to make some Lazy Days Pyjamas for our 6mo little boy.  When I looked at the piece of fabric, I knew there would be plenty leftover and the idea popped into my head that maybe I could squeeze out a matching pair for our 3yo boy, too.  It was crazy and insane to think I could, but I wanted to live dangerously (and be frugal with my nice fabric!)  It took an entire evening  just to come up with the cutting layout that would work, but I eventually managed to do it!

Presenting matching pyjamas for our little men, made in sizes 3T and 12mo:

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This morning round our table,

Dear Lord,
Please not let a shark eat us.  Jesus save us.
Amen

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It occurred to me that with regards to having a large family, I have learned to think differently about a number of things.  I have learned to draw inspiration from industry in managing our home.  I know, for example, that a $40 blender will not perform the way I need it to around here.  I know we will wear out carpets four times faster than other families, that our door hinges take more abuse, and that toilet paper runs out at an alarming rate in our home.  When I face a home management issue, I often ask myself, “What would a business do?”  I know a commercial kitchen would not buy wooden spoons at the dollar store and expect them to last through heavy-duty cooking, so I don’t either.

I have been hobbling along in our homeschool for quite some time, now.  I just can’t seem to get everything done.  Long ago, I let go of unrealistic expectations of doing art, nature and music studies.  In our home though, sometimes even the basics are not finished by the end of the day.  As I have been praying about what to do differently, it occurred to me that I am missing a good potential source of inspiration.

School.

What do schools do well?  Crowd-control.  What do I have?  A crowd.

Thus began my initial brainstorming about a week ago.  I pulled out my red cloth-covered home management notebook and started making a list.  What are some things that schools do to help manage large numbers of students that I could make work in my home?  Things such as ‘teacher does not breastfeed any one during teaching hours’ and ‘drug unruly students’ were not going to be practical, of course.  However, other things caught my attention:

  • start at an exact, set time each day, not simply ‘after breakfast’
  • teacher does not wait for students who are not ready
  • breaks are scheduled and taken at a set time regardless of what has or has not been accomplished

These are only a very few ideas that seemed to turn on a light-bulb in my head.  I am in the process of thinking and praying about what changes I will be making to the way our homeschool runs.  I am feeling very hopeful and excited…if only I had more uninterrupted time to think things through!

The best part is that within about two days of coming up with these ideas, I had a wonderful confirmation that I was on the right track.  Our family was invited to my friend LB’s home for a short, impromptu visit.  (I love LB.  Her home oozes cleanliness even though she has five children.  It is such a pleasure to visit her home.)  During our short visit, I started spouting forth my idea of looking to schools for inspiration for our homeschool, particularly for managing lots of people.  When I paused for a breath, LB said, “Let me tell you what I came up with this year.”  Then, she began to describe almost exactly some of the things I had been thinking.  Not only had she decided to try these things, they had actually been working for the entire school year so far.  It was one of those moments that I know God must have orchestrated.  I left so encouraged, as I always do after spending time with LB.

In my next post, I will describe in more detail how our morning has been changing in accordance with our school-y inspiration.

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