Friday, December 13, 2019

Encouraging Gift Ideas for a Dancer

The thick of the holiday season is upon us! For our teen daughter that continues to mean Nutcracker performances. For the rest of our family it means the excitement of seeing her perform after many hours, days and weeks of hard work in classes and rehearsals as a dancer. It also means providing  encouragement along the way; with reminders to eat well, rest and generally take care of herself. For me it also means continuing to be available for the conversations that include listening, communicating loving support and positive feedback. This year for the first time it means offering that in whatever ways I can from a distance because she is now pursuing this dream hundreds of miles away from us.

We will be traveling to see the Nashville Ballet's Nutcracker and bringing her home for our Christmas and New Year's celebrations, in the meantime, I've been researching, reading and acquiring resources to share with her over the holidays. Posting the beginnings of that exploration here, for any other dance moms, looking to enjoy the season, calm themselves and support their dancers.

Dancers spend an enormous amount of time moving and being physically active. Along with the physical stamina needed there is a significant amount of mental activity involved. The heightened awareness of the brain and body connection that dancers and other athletes have is usually keen however with the demands of performing in a competitive environment they are often likely to ignore the need to take some time to rest and relax.

Some down time that requires another approach to the kinesthetic mental and physical activity seems like a good idea to this mom of a ballerina.

Reading and instilling the love of reading has been one of the ideas I've worked to implement to counteract the tendency for the competitive young athlete to keep pushing through without taking the necessary break for recovery time. I've put together some favorites and some newly discovered reading resources that will hopefully lead to some relaxed, informative and inspirational reading time for all the dancers in your life.

First for the littles:
These are filled with delightful inspiration for the littlest ballerina. We read our Angelina Ballerina books over and over when our daughter was young.

This little Angelina board book is so cute!

Books for for older teen and young adult dancer:
(Keep scrolling, there's more).

Also, an excellent online resource regarding nutrition, that I recently discovered is; To the Pointe Nutrition. Created by Rachel Fine, a nutritionist and dancer she has written nutritionally sound and well researched ebooks for dancers. Look for more about her here on the blog; I'll be posting a longer review of her work in January. All of her work is available at:

Here's to a vibrant and happy holiday dance season for all the families attending the wonderfully joyous performances associated with the season! Hang in there. Some rest is soon to follow!

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Get Cash for Christmas - Giveaway

Check Out Two Great Resources Below and Potentially Win Christmas Cash!

If you've heard of Dave Ramsey, you're likely to have heard of his opinion about borrowing money. His financial recommendations begin with paying off debt. "The borrower is slave to the lender."
His plan begins but doesn't end there. The choice to follow the principles he teaches have led to many individuals and families gaining control over there financial situation. If you are looking to do the same, his program is worth checking out. Even if you are not trying to eliminate debt - though if you are in debt in any amount you should consider ridding it from your financial picture - there are excellent educational resources concerning money on the Dave Ramsey website. Through the month of December Ramsey is hosting a cash giveaway contest that anyone can enter. The link is below:

Dave Ramsey Christmas Give Away

Enter the cash giveaway! 

Another Great Way to Get (or save) Christmas Cash

Traveling for Christmas? Get $55.00 off your first stay with Airbnb. Another wonderful resource for  yourself this holiday season if you are traveling or if you don't have enough space for visiting relatives is Airbnb. We continue to use it as a way to find great places to stay when we travel. Airbnb offers a wide selection that are typically more interesting and within our price range than a typical hotel.

There are parts of the country that the costs of Airbnbs are going up but it is always worth checking before booking a hotel. If you use the link below for your first booking with Airbnb, you will get $55.00 off of your stay. Happy Trails. Be Safe!

Traveling for Christmas? Get $55.00 off your first stay with Airbnb.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Orange You Glad It's Fall?

Fall is upon us and the fall harvest provides wonderful, rich and flavorful options for our meals. I love the varieties of squash available at this time of year and the cozy warmth provided by baking some up. Squash is filled with beta-carotene. Your body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A which is good for vision, healthy skin and immunity. Easy to prepare and versatile, squash is a welcome addition to many of our family meals.

A long time favorite in our household, this pumpkin chocolate chip muffin recipe has evolved and while still a bit decedent, with the chocolate chips involved, it does have less sugar than the original recipe and the butter has been reduced. I use all whole wheat flour. The muffins freeze well and are still yummy upon reheating. I usually double the recipe so that I have some to freeze - otherwise they disappear way too fast.

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins

12 standard or 48 mini
1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
a pinch of cloves
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup plain pumpkin (half of a 1 lb. can)
6 Tablespoons butter melted
1 cup chocolate chips (dark chocolate works for me)

Pre-heat oven to 350 F.
Thoroughly mix flour, sugar, spice, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.
Break eggs into another bowl add pumpkin and melted butter. Whisk until well blended.
Pour over dry ingredients and fold in just until dry ingredients are moistened.
Fold in chocolate chips.
Scoop batter into lined muffin tins.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until springy to the touch in the center.
Turn onto a rack to cool.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Build a Business & Raise a Family? Can It Be Done? Need A Mentor? Let's Ask Lisa!

Can a stay at home mom committed to the day to day care of young ones and homeschooling really work from home and get anything done? Can or should a homeschooling mom of school age children plus a couple of preschoolers even consider working from home? Or even more challenging can a mom with little charges of any age, stay at home, homeschool her children, run a business from home and better yet make it profitable?

Visit A Baby Moon
Company website
For me, it has been daunting. Being at home, raising children and homeschooling them took a lot of focused energy. Honestly, I wasn't always as focused as I should have been. As all of that was happening, I volunteered as a La Leche League leader for many years, I began lactation consulting, offered doula and postpartum doula support to new mothers as an extension of my work as a volunteer. I wrote and published the content for the website for that work at A Baby Moon Company. I also began writing this blog. As every mom knows, getting it all done for home and children, attempting to accomplish it all can be overwhelming at times.

For myself, as the last big needs of guiding my kids, as they move out into the world are now complete, I am returning to some dreams that were put on hold. I am truly beginning to focus again on my own big ideas and am plotting out plans to achieve a new set of goals, though there are still plenty of days, when I am overwhelmed with the steps I need to take to achieve those goals.

As I plan and process, I've re-discovered the great benefit of uninterrupted time to actually concentrate on and complete tasks. Moving forward is exhilarating. As one completed project leads to the next, I have also re-discovered the great value of having a few cheerleaders. It is in conversation, discussion and sharing that my enthusiasm is built up. Sharing is motivating. It is in connection that the fire is flamed. I've realized that I need to intentionally set up more of that for myself on an ongoing basis.

For all of the important projects and vocations in life having someone to look to for inspiration,  encouragement and motivation is important. For the achievements listed above and others I didn't include, having a mentor, has been valuable. Whether officially enlisted or otherwise, having a friend, acquaintance or even someone admired from a distance may become the key to taking the next step to keep going.

Learn more about Lisa at
Lisa Tanner Writing
So I began getting coaching for myself to stay inspired and move further along in achieving the goals I'm pursuing. One of the most encouraging voices I have enlisted as support is that of  busy homeschooling mom, Lisa Tanner. She is a friendly bundle of helpful resource; a cheerleader and a to the point source of information and encouragement.

I first found Lisa by reviewing a product she created that addresses the topic of balancing it all as a homeschooling mom. It is hard to believe what Lisa has accomplished while also raising a large family. She is contributing significantly to her family finances while she and her husband are also committed to following God's calling on their lives to do missionary work.

Her course Diapers and Deadlines covers the basics of juggling all the things. It is an encouraging guide with needed reminders and practical step by step suggestions. I enjoyed Lisa's written course (you can read my review on this blog). It was useful and inspiring and I have referred back to it since writing the review, but now I am ready for more.

Well, if she can do all of that it, I thought, I'd better listen to what she has to say and read, consider and follow her plan. Since Lisa also offers individual coaching and mentoring, I decided, I'm in. I have enlisted her as a mentor and coach. Did I mention it has been a wise choice?

Lisa and her family.
Big kids can sometimes take up as much or more time than the little ones and Lisa has reminded me to focus on my family when needed, especially during the big transition times. For example, during this past summer as all three of our young adult children were getting set up in the world to pursue higher education and big dreams.

Now with the big move out of our young adult children accomplished and with Lisa's insights and help creating follow up action plans, I'm finally putting in the consistent daily work of re-evaluating and building on what I've started.

Lisa's respectful listening presence and reassuring voice via a phone call has been one of the best investments into myself during this new season. She has offered a place for me to engage as I sort out my own goals and next steps. Phone calls with Lisa are where I have found encouragement, as well as practical advice for the next tasks and actions I need to take. Please, follow along to see where it will lead.

You can also check out what Lisa has to offer: Guide to Successful Family Writing Time, Teaching Reading Through Play Homeschool Curriclum and her coaching services on her website at Lisa Tanner Writing.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

New Reality

When in the thick of early parenting, or the midst of elementary education - homeschooling or otherwise - or during the busy, busy, run here and there of active teen years, it is hard to imagine that the day, whether sometimes longed for, or sometimes dreaded, will ever actually arrive. And even though it has clearly, been approaching steadily, looming over the horizon, day by day - it lands with the sudden surprise of a lightening strike in an approaching storm, not yet immediately overhead, and the day is here. They move out and into the world on their own.

So with pride and tears and joy for all that has been shared and all that is in front of them and me, too - I watch and guide as best one can, as they fly, or lurch, or stumble, away into the big wide world and the best thing left to do is to sing praise for the love and wonder of it all!

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

A Review of a Writing Course by BetterRhetor

This summer, we were given access to the course College-Ready Writing Essentials™ by BetterRhetor for review. This course covers the topic of essay writing for students as they prepare to enter college level courses. It is a complete and practical writing course with step by step instructions. It also gives valuable background information that will raise the awareness of any student embarking on the challenge of college level academics.

My interest in have my daughter use this course despite her recent graduation was to give her one more writing experience to boost her confidence in her knowledge and ability to communicate effectively with the written word. She has written throughout her homeschooling experience but an essay format was not the norm. I want her to have an understanding of for what will be expected of her and to approach it with more confidence. The college essay assignments seem to produce anxiety for many students regardless of the approach to their high school education.

The first section of College-Ready Writing Essentials™ includes lessons and worksheets that prep a student for the process of writing an essay.  The information also includes a discussion of what to expect and what will be expected from students in a college academic setting. This information is presented in a straight forward way and presents useful considerations for a student about to enter a college environment. As a homeschooling parent, I appreciate this aspect of  the course. Having another voice contributing to the importance of taking what will be expected of a college student is helpful. The material covered in the preparation section is a solid reminder of what "the college experience" is really about. Learning, incorporating, presenting and communicating are all necessary skills for successful careers no matter what field of work someone plans to enter.

That this course emphasizes that college is a place to learn and to take that learning and "transform it through your own creative intelligence", from Lesson 9 College-Ready Writing Essentials TM. 

Beyond the background and preparation lessons College-Ready Writing Essentials™ covers all of the essentials of writing a college level essay. It walks the student through the entire writing process step by step. it covers the importance of how to evaluate source materials for credibility and provides ways to discern what is high quality and trustworthy as sources for a student's investigations. The course requires a fairly high level of reading comprehension skill. It gives a range of  topic exposure in general terms including some current events and societal issues.

The full package course includes 25 lessons. Each lesson contains thorough teaching material, examples and some include downloadable pdf worksheets for student use.

Given our very busy summer and the big changes in our family this summer, it was difficult for my daughter to get through the entire course. Even in a normal summer, I think it would be hard to complete the full course. It would be a great course to use over an academic year. It could be worked through at a student's own pace finishing quickly or over a school year's time frame.

The course is easy to access online. However, since we spent much of the summer in a variety of locations and not all together as a family, we struggled with what has typically been an easy, just jump on the computer, to read and do lessons from our home desktop. For most of the summer, my daughter has only had internet access via her phone and that has been spotty at times. It was this experience that gave me the idea and the wish for College-Ready Writing Essentials™  to be available in a text book/workbook format. An old school idea perhaps, but having the course in a book to take along would have made it possible for my daughter to use our travel time as an opportunity to continue to work through the course.

Technically, this year is somewhat of an academic gap year for my daughter while she is pursuing her dream of ballet training. However, we will soon be solving the current online access issue for her so that she can complete the course this year for added preparation for college classes. College-Ready Writing Essentials™ is an extensive and valuable course for any student wanting to improve their writing skills in preparation for college.

Read more reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew, click the banner below:

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Fresh Indigo Leaf Dye Workshop

With our family in the midst of big changes, it has been a full season for us this summer. There has been significant purposeful travel as we began the process of setting up our young adults in their own places for their next adventures in life. And with my mixed feelings of excited anticipation and dread of depositing my youngest into her new life and study, I was thrilled to discover that a new instagram friend was hosting a natural fiber dye workshop in Kentucky. Conveniently placed in time and location to near where we would be traveling in August. 

Robin of Hill and Hollow Farm was hosting a natural dye workshop that coincided with my trip taking our daughter to Tennessee.

So the excitement was heightened and the dread eliminated (almost) by looking forward to joining in a workshop of artistic exploration and interest long put on hold. The added bonus was the opportunity to participate with my daughter who was equally as interested and excited.

I hope that by focusing on shared interests and activities we both enjoy, we can keep our connection strong through the upcoming stages of growth. This workshop made it easy this time.

Robin and her lovely teen daughter worked together throughout the workshop, sharing their knowledge about the plants and the process used to dye fabrics. Seeing their easy interaction was one more example to reinforce my confidence that all the investment in family and homeschooling is worth every moment.

A long ago begun work in progress. I pulled this piece of fabric out of a closet to take to the workshop. I had stitched it up years ago to dye with a resist pattern and never finished the project. After tightening up the string to pleat the fabric, it was basically ready to go. It has since been transformed for my daughter into decorative throw pillows for apartment living.

As this process of letting go of children into young adult lives continues, I am actively looking to reconnect with long neglected interests and discover new ones. I am confident that it will lead to new levels of understanding with my grown children and to deeper connections with others. Art making, sewing, more writing, travel and how to use technology to enhance it all. Social media has helped me re-discover and find new connections.
So many wonderful results! So much fun learning and creating together for the day!
For more info on upcoming indigo learning events, follow Robin on her Hill and Hollow Farm on instagram
Thank you, Robin! Looking forward to more!