Oct
10
2011
Posted by Crystal

I never thought I’d be the homeschooling type. Always admired the people who did it, but to be honest, I was looking forward to the time when all my kids would be in school. I’d daydream about the many things I’d ACTUALLY get to do.

Older people are always telling us, “Enjoy this time while your kids are young. It goes by so fast”.  Well this has been a hard thing for me to fully grasp I guess. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love and adore my kids, but what I’m trying to say is that I still find myself saying things like, I just want to get the pregnancy over with, can’t wait to be done nursing, can’t wait til he/she’s done teething, crawling, walking, potty trained, ect.  My attitude about motherhood isn’t always where I want it to be. Sometimes it’s more like WORK instead of something I truly enjoy.

I think as time goes on, I’m learning to more fully appreciate my role as a mother.  I’m not sure how, maybe it’s just one of those things in life where you begin to realize what you’ve been missing out on.  My biggest fear is waking up one day and having regrets about not spending enough time with my children.

Once it’s over, it’s over.

So with this fear and the thought of Lily being in school ALL day next year made me realize that the time really IS going by fast and it’s only going to go faster once she’s gone all day, has homework, dance, soccer, piano, ect. When would I ever get that time with her? It just doesn’t seem realistic in my opinion.

The thought of homeschool kept coming up. I’ve spent time over the past couple years entertaining the idea and researching it a bit, but fear kept me from actually making a decision.  Some of my thoughts included:

What if she hates it?

I don’t want to be the one solely responsible for her education…

Lily doesn’t like to listen to me…

She loves school and is incredibly social. She’d hate being home all the time.

What if she misses out on important social interaction…

Everyone will think I’m weird…

We’ll be the only ones in the neighborhood doing it…

Lily will be left out and won’t get invited to birthday parties and playdates…

I’ll never have time to myself…

It will be too stressful, especially trying to do it with more than one child…

So these thoughts kept creeping in which made me so wishy washy about the whole thing. I was just too chicken to commit to it.

I’ve always been the type that likes to be where the party is. And homeschooling didn’t seem to be “where the party is”. I think one of my biggest struggles in life is the unnecessary need to be accepted, liked, and part of the crowd. But I’m learning how to overcome that, and I think one of the best ways to overcome it, is to really DO what I feel I should do without second thought of what others will think.

So, anyway, the fear of the unknown was holding me back. I thought, well maybe I’ll homeschool her for 1st or second grade since Kindergarten is only 3 hours a day. Then suddenly it happened… it was like night and day. I woke up one day and was ready to make the commitment. I just had no doubt in my mind anymore. I still had a little fear dwelling, but I KNEW this was what I needed to do.

As I’ve spent time researching about homeschool I’ve come to find out the many benefits it offers both me and my children.

First of all you can get all your school work done in about 3 hours, then the rest of the day you get to just explore, be creative, go on fun educational field trips, develop a talent, play with friends, and most importantly, be with family.

“To be creative, an individual must be free to chart his or her own course” -Ira Brodsky


I remember feeling tired and stressed out a lot back when I was in school. I never felt smart and didn’t know what any of my talents were. How could I have, there was never any time to figure out what they were. I also don’t remember a single thing I learned. None of it stuck in my brain. I can read, write and do basic math, but anything beyond that has been left wandering around somewhere in my brain, or maybe even found it’s way out somehow.

Here is a list of some homeschooling facts that helped me make my decision.

The bold text is from www.pahomeschool.com, followed by my own thoughts.

*Parents have more quality time to train and influence their children.
Isn’t that what we really want?

*There is opportunity for each child to receive individualized attention and instruction.
I think I would have done really well if I had more individualized attention from my teachers. But it’s really not possible when you’re in a class with 20 other students.

*Children develop respect for parents as teachers.
I’d hope so, since teaching our children really is our responsibility.

*Spending more time together increases family unity and closeness.
I’ve already seen a difference in how Oliver and Lily are getting along. There has been much less fighting. Even between Lily and I, sounds funny to say, but we are fighting less too :)

*It provides a good environment for development of confidence and independent thinking.
Now this gets me really excited. We all want our children to grow up feeling confident and to develop into the amazing person they were meant to be.

*There is enhanced communication between all age groups due to the diversified learning environment.
There are so many different classes for homeschoolers, and most of them are groups of all ages. I love that she is interacting with younger and older children as well as some her own age. I can see how this would be a good thing. She learns from the older and has the opportunity to teach the younger.

*Home-schooled students demonstrate excellent academic progress.
I’ve been reading a ton of books on homeschooling and each book shares the statistics on the acedemic success of homeschoolers.

*School hours are flexible to accommodate family schedules and vacations.
PERFECT, since we just bought that home in St. George. Now we can actually go when ever the heck we feel like it and stay as long as we want :)

Here are a few testimonials I found on pahomeschool.com. Comes from a teenagers perspective.

“First of all, I can accomplish so much more in a day. It has been stated that every six hours of institutional school is equal to two hours of home-school; so that gives me more time to involve myself in not only academics but also Bible study, research, writing, voice lessons, piano playing, oil painting, and sports, as well as learning and using home economic skills.

Second, in answer to the question most asked of home-schoolers, “But what do you do for a social life?” I’ve met my best friends at our home-school support group. There are also church and sports activities where I interact with others – not only my age, but older and younger too. I feel my energies are spared the draining effect of peer pressures that I have experienced in the past in an institutional school. I have channeled that energy into learning different skills that I will be needing when I graduate and am on my way into the real world and life.

Third, we have more opportunities to take educational field trips. Over the past six years, we’ve taken trips to historic Gettysburg, Williamsburg, Jamestown, Boston, and Lexington. We’ve also gone on a five-week camping trip to the western United States, during which time we not only worked on our studies; but we were able to see our history and geography lessons come alive. Many never get the opportunity to see some of these things. Within our own state our family has visited the Valley Forge National Historical Park and toured Philadelphia, as well as many other fascinating places.

Fourth, a “social life” every day can be bad for children in schools. From my experience at school, I know that there are students who are the “picked-on” ones and are damaged by the social life. In home-school, not only are children spared unnecessary harassment by peers, but they have the positive advantage of learning to relate to their parents and other adults on a full-time basis. This is good because they will be spending the rest of their lives relating to adults.”

I understand that homeschooling is not right for all parents and all children. People have different education goals and needs. Homeschool is what I’ve chosen, and  I believe it will help my children learn how to study and think independently, and give them opportunities to explore their own interests at their own pace. We’ve been doing it for two weeks now, and already I’m feeling more fulfilled as a mother. I go to bed each night feeling so good about the day and the time I was able to spend with them. I’ve also really enjoyed being a part of Lily’s learning. There’s nothing better than seeing the excitement on her face as she’s learning to read and write words.

To be continued…


 
Oct
07
2011
Posted by Crystal

We celebrated Lily’s birthday this week. I planned it a week early hoping to catch the nice weather we’ve had lately. But unfortunately Fall decided to join us the day of the party. We were going to have pony rides in our back yard and Princess Amerah. The pony rides didn’t work out, but we had a blast with Princess Amerah.

Hello Kitty cupcakes.

And fun little witches broom party favors that Lily and I made together.

These were actually a lot of fun to make. First we went on a little scavenger hunt looking for the perfect size sticks for the broom. Then we cut the paper lunch sacks together. Lily insisted on putting the rubber bands and bat rings on all of them herself. Here’s how to make them.

Directions:

  • Collect sticks about 2 feet long.
  • You’ll need two paper sacks for each broom. Fill one bag up with candy and dollor toys.
  • Cut the bottom off of the other sack, then cut thin vertical strips, leaving about 3 inches of the bag uncut towards the top.
  • Slide the second bag (the one that’s cut) over the top of the candy bag.
  • Wrap a rubber band around the top, not too tight.
  • Then gently slide the stick into the bag, be careful not to rip the sack.
  • Add a spider or bat ring around the rubber band.

And here’s a little belly picture for you, well I guess it’s not so little :) . These days I’m feeling HUGE!!! I’ve got 8 more weeks left, can that be possible?

Now I’ve got a little gift for you. Princess Amerah gave me an extra copy of her book so I would like to give it to one of YOU! Just leave me a comment below and I will randomly select one of you. The one I select will get a copy of this awesome childrens book about Princess Amerah’s magic dress.

You can purchase a copy of the book HERE.


 
Oct
05
2011
Posted by Crystal

Crepes, I just LOVE crepes. I pretty much LIVED on them when I was in Germany. Every night for dinner it was crepes with nutella, yum! Coulda been the reason I put on about 15 lbs :)

Since then, I’ve learned many different ways of making them. First it starts with the basic mix:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I use wheat flour)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Then you cook them up on a frying pan, OR you can get one of these awesome Crepe Makers. I got mine about a year ago and I LOVE it! Makes the perfect crepe everytime.

One of my favorites is the Mediterranean Crepe…

First you’ll need some some Pesto.

Once it’s almost all the way cooked you just spread it on half of the crepe.

For the other half just sprinkle some mozzarella cheese on there.

Then slap on a few slices of ham or turkey…

Then fresh spinach…

Then fold over…

And you’re done!!!

ENJOY!!!!!


 
Oct
03
2011
Posted by Crystal

Ever have those days where your kids keep nagging you about how bored they are? You give them plenty of ideas of things they can do, but for some reason nothing sounds fun to them.

Well here’s an idea that my help.

This game has been the most popular in our family so far. My kids can’t get enough of it. It’s a little fishing game I made after seeing a similar one in the nursery at my church.

Each child gets a turn to catch a fish and on the back side I’ve written different activities we can do.  The best thing to do is brain storm first, search the internet for ideas and make a list.

For example:

Play hide and go seek

Paint

Play house

Read books

Play Barbies

Play board games

Color

Ride bikes

Play play dough

Paint fingernails and toe nails

You get the idea. I think it’s the perfect game to play on those long days when you don’t have much planned. Sunday’s are usually that kind of day for us.

Here’s how to make it:

  • Google free printable fish pictures, then print them off.
  • C0lor them all with your kids.
  • Write a different activity on the back of each fish.
  • Cut them out.
  • Laminate them.
  • Cut them out again.
  • Add a paper clip to each one.
  • Find a long stick you can use as a fishing pole. A small tree branch would work just fine.
  • Tie a piece of yarn or thin rope to it.
  • Hot glue a magnet to the end of the rope.

 

 


 
Candace
Sep
30
2011
Posted by Candace

DIY Living

Making awesome projects yourself and keeping more money in the bank

Hello All you Wannabe’s!  My name is Candace from Candace Creations and I’m excited to be a contributor here at Wanna be Balanced.  It is one of my most favorite blogs and I’m just another Wannabe as well.  One of my favorite things to do is to make things for as cheap as possible because we are a very frugal family, we’d just rather have financial security than a lot of stuff and payments for that stuff.  Today I wanted to share with you one of my favorite recent DIY decorating projects that cost less than $3 to make.

Branch Antlers = Branchlers

I originally saw these “Branchlers” by custom furniture maker Luke Bartels and I couldn’t help myself.  Even Todd Oldham has put a pair of these branchlers up in his home.   I’ve been working on my little guys room who is 17 months and thought it would be a perfect addition and the best part about this diy decor project is that it was super fast and easy to make, on top of costing almost nothing.

Supplies
Wood Plaque (got mine at hobby lobby for $0.99 it was 50% off)
instant coffee and water….make a really strong dark coffee
foam brush
hanging hardware kit (found in the same area as the wood plaque for $1.27 for a little baggy of them)
tree branch or branches
garden clippers
glue gun and glue
rope

 I stained the wood with very dark brewed coffee and did 2-3 coats. See picture below for before and after color comparison.

Position your hanging hardware so it is straight and use a small hammer to attach it to plaque.
Find a  branch or 2 branches that will make good antlers and clip them to shape your branch antlers…
Clip the bottom tip of your antlers at an angle so you can line them up flush against the plaque…
Heat up your glue gun.  Make a big pile of hot glue centered on the lower part of your plaque.  Affix your branch antlers, adjust the branches to how you like and then hold in place till the glue dries.

 This one branch took extra long to secure so I just propped it up…

Loop a rope around the base of your branch antlers and secure with hot glue.
Also, to keep the inspiration flowing for frugal creating, I host a weekly link up called Scrappy Saturdays so come on by each weekend to check out featured projects, link up yours and get some ideas from each other!  Indulging in our creative hobbies doesn’t have to cost a lot, and it can be even more fun and rewarding when you challenge yourself to be more resourceful, using found objects, scraps, thrifty finds and turning them into something awesome.

 
Amanda
Sep
23
2011
Posted by Amanda

I am so pleased and excited to be asked by my dear friend, Crystal, to be a part of one of my most favorite blogs EVER to talk about my passion of photography!!! A little background on myself: I have been  blogging over at Enchanting Havoc about life, positive thinking, personal growth, being a special needs mom,  a mom of a daughter with a heart condition – basically an all around mommy blog! I have 3 kids that keep me on my toes ALL DAY. EVERYDAY. I’m realizing that the sassy teenage years don’t necessarily begin at the teenage years for a girl and in fact can most definitely begin at the age of 4.  I can honestly say that I was not prepared for this pleasant known fact about raising a daughter.  I fell in love with photography back in 2008 when I received my Canon Rebel XSi for my birthday – yet I had NO CLUE what I was doing.  I didn’t even know what all those abbreviations were on that dial, and to tell you the truth I was PETRIFIED of them!!!  I finally took the leap and switched over to the M mode and have never looked back.

I didn’t want to start out my first post on photography over here talking about the dynamics of a DSLR camera.  The dynamics of it all is something that I will touch base on in a later post.  This post I want to share with you how I capture the moments and the meaningful pictures that sometimes bring my clients to tears.

“CHEESE!”  that is the one word that any photographer should be cringing to when they hear it.  Now let me just ask you this – do you really like the look on your child’s face when someone tells them to say cheese?  I sure don’t!  I can tell you that with my child it creates the fakest look that doesn’t represent who my child is.  So…. cut the cheese!

Here’s a perfect example of my beautiful child saying “CHEESE” EEEEKKKKK!!!!!  This is so not her!  As I held up my cell phone the EKG girl said “SAY CHEESE!”  Yes, the photographer in me bit the inside of my cheek {I seriously do this when I need to hold my tongue! Please tell me I’m not alone on this!!}.  Please keep in mind this is just a cell phone picture, but it is the PERFECT example

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When I first started going out with my camera and my kids they were MISERABLE and already sick of their mom with this new found gadget in front of her face –ALL.THE. TIME.  I’d try to make them smile at me and pose them in certain ways, and it ALWAYS ended in tears, frustration and me wondering ‘HOW IN THE WORLD DO I GET NATURAL, BEAUTIFUL SHOTS OF THESE KIDS?!?!?!’  Then one day I had this revelation come over me and ever since then, taking pictures with my children or anyone’s children is a joyful, peaceful experience.  A photographer should be out there capturing the moments that we don’t want to forget – finding the beauty in our lives that we see daily and want to bottle up and keep forever – that perfect face a child makes with curiosity, or a true laughing moment between a mother and daughter. Finding the real moments that a family spends together is finding the true way to that family’s heart.
IMG_0870_Web

Just get out there and interact with them, let them play, run with them and find the things that make them laugh and laugh and laugh…. one of the best pictures is not only capturing a child’s laugh, but capturing the look on their face RIGHT after they have just got done laughing.  If you let them be themselves and allow them to give you the moments to capture, you will be more than pleased with the outcome of your pictures.  Far too often I see on people’s blogs and FB pages kids that aren’t happy about the position they’re being put into, and it’s sad to me.  What parent out there truly wants a picture of their child that doesn’t represent who that child is?

This is the biggest advice that I could ever give anyone in regards to photography. Don’t always go out there always trying to recreate something you’ve already seen. Go out there, and capture the natural things that you see. Let your lens tell the story of your heart – and trust me, even if it’s not your child in front of your lens the story you will tell with your photography will be coming from your heart.

This is the face my baby is always giving me, and with me just sitting there letting her own personality shine I was able to capture it. IMG_5183_Web

I hope I’ve inspired you to start capturing the natural moments that all of us want to remember.  Those are the pictures that will bring chills, tears, hugs and many thanks to you.

I am so excited to share with all of you a fun project I’ve been working on with my photography to turn it into a piece of art to be cherished more than just a basic picture {not that a basic picture isn’t art to be cherished as it is}.  Please head over to my blog {HERE} where  you can learn all about it and even win a very special, custom piece of art work for your home.  Hurry though, because the giveaway ends this weekend!!  

 



 

 


 
Sep
16
2011
Posted by Crystal

I remember how fascinated I was with mermaids growing up, especially after seeing The Little Mermaid. I would spend hours at the pool pretending to be a mermaid and swimming around with both legs together trying to imitate a mermaid tail.  One of these little things would have been a dream come true!

When I told Lily I was getting her one  she literally could not sleep that night she was so excited. She asked me every day when it was going to come. Then finally when it did she immediately put it on and asked if she could swim around in our hot tub. 

I even thought about buying myself one of these :)

Here’s Lily with her shimmery purple mermaid tail.

Now I get to give away one of these to a lucky winner!!!

To see more tails click on the “finfun” website here. The winners will be able to pick their tails from what is available on the finfun ebay site here (Custom orders and limited edition tails aren’t included in this giveaway).

There are three ways to enter to win:
{note: you can do all three of these giving you three different chances to win, leave a separate comment for each one you do… your chances of winning will increase}

1) Leave a comment telling me why you want one of these mermaid tails.
2) “Like” Fin Fun Mermaid tails on Facebook (their page is here) and then come back and leave a comment that you did it.
3) Become a follower of their blog (their blog is here) then come leave a comment here.

4) Share this on facebook, twitter, or your own blog.

 

So, four ways to win one of these mermaid tails. And really, who wouldn’t want one of these??

I’ll announce the winner next Friday 9/22.


 
Aug
29
2011
Posted by Crystal

This salad is one of my absolute favorites, and it’s extremely healthy too because of all the spinach. The greener the vegetable the healthier it is.

It’s pretty simple to through together too.

Spinach

Chopped strawberries

Feta cheese

Chopped almonds or walnuts

And for the dressing: Mix ingredients in a separate bowl

2 T sesame seeds

1 T poppy seeds

1/2 cup whit sugar (or substitute with Agave to make it healthier)

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup white vinegar

1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/4 teaspoon paprika


 
Aug
08
2011
Posted by Crystal

Here’s an easy magic trick your kids will LOVE!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  1. Two colors of card stock paper.
  2. Scissors
  3. Pen
  4. Tape
  5. Small glass
  6. Glue Stick
  7. Penny or quarter

Cut one color of card stock into a rectangle shape, then use the small cup and pen to measure a circle (using same color as rectangle), to glue on the top of the cup. I used a glue stick because it sticks, but can also be washed off later.� With the other color card stock make a cylynder that’s big enough to cover the cup.

Here’s how it works.


 
Aug
05
2011
Posted by Crystal

We just got back from our St. George home and I thought I’d show some of the decorating I’ve added this time around.

A while back I was over at the Village Quilt Shop and to be honest, that’s where I got my inspiration for a couple of the rooms. Here’s a picture I found on their website that gave me the idea for our master.

I wanted to buy the whole set when I saw it, but after realizing it’d cost me about $700 I decided nevermind. I don’t love it THAT much :) I figured I could come up with my own concoction at a much more affordable rate. Here’s my version and it only cost me about $250.

I got the bed spread from Ashley Furniture and the pillows from Target. That small pillow in the front is a little something I created myself.

I just bought some rust orange fabric, cut out some different sized circles, burnt the edges, added the pearls, then hot glued it all together.

Here are a couple other pictures I took of the bedding sets at the Quilt Shop. I took them with my phone so they are a little blurry.

I LOVE how they added the cute colorful flowers to the pillows. That’s what gave me the idea to do it myself.

This set is actually my inspiration for the kids bathroom.

I liked the black and white with all the bright colors.

I also wanted to show you how my vinyl letters turned out. I decided to put them up in the nursery. I’m far from finished with the nursery, still trying to decide on colors. It’s hard because Oliver is still sleeping in the crib, and I’d like to keep it that way as long as possible. So I need to make it gender nuetral since eventually it will be Brooklyn’s room.

So here’s how it turned out. I got these letters from Say It Your Way Vinyl Letters.