I knew how the next several minutes would go as soon as the kind strangers at the park made eye contact. Not speaking much English they smiled and reached out to hand us one of the birthday party balloons tied to their stroller. I knew exactly how this was going to go down – delighted squeals and smiles, the balloon slipping from chubby toddler fingers, tears while watching it float into the skies, and the long walk back to the car with a screaming child. You can’t explain gravity to one-year-olds so why even give them a toy that they’re certain to lose? I didn’t want that balloon. But of course you don’t say no when kind strangers offer your child a balloon. And for about 10 minutes her grasp and my quick reflexes worked perfectly. When it did, inevitably, get stuck out of reach in a tree, a kind passerby grabbed a stick and pulled it […]

What a Red Balloon and a Stick Showed Me About ...

Morning Time Tea
Our preschool morning time routine developed mostly organically earlier this year and became a rich part of our routine through the summer. I’m now convinced that morning time (also known as basket time, morning meeting, circle time…or whatever name you prefer 😉 ) is a perfect starting place for creating structure and facilitating at home learning in the preschool years. Now that school is back in session and we’ve started our preschool curriculum, we’re continuing with essentially the same morning time routine. However I am trying this year to more intentionally plan the content we’ll memorize and read. So here is our highly tentative morning time plan. For context, we’re starting the year with a 3 1/2 year old and 1 1/2 year old. Lord willing we’ll end the year in May with a 4 1/2 year old, 2 year old, and 5 month old. Our Morning Time Routine: We […]

Our Morning Time Plan (2017-2018)

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One photo of the kitchen on the real estate ad was enough to convince me I didn’t even want to look at the house we now own. It looked tiny, for one. And the rusty electric (I’ve always preferred gas) stove/oven combo looked smaller than the standard size. If that wasn’t enough the cabinets were small and offered less storage space than the galley kitchen we were leaving. Oh, and they were turquoise. Bright. Turquoise. The kind that could look cute in a perfectly matching retro-themed kitchen with the turquoise KitchenAid and brightly colored spatulas. With my mismatched conglomeration of kitchen stuff, not so much. Even the real estate agent very matter-of-factly said we would need a new kitchen. But my always rational husband, who thought about practical details like square footage and location, insisted we at least look at it. And of course it turned out to have beautiful wood floors, […]

Lessons from My Little Kitchen

As I shared last week, competitive speech and debate was one of the most formative activities of my high school and college years. I love helping young people learn to communicate with clarity, confidence, and grace. So I wanted to share some practical ideas for incorporating public speaking into your homeschool or classroom. (Note: This post includes affiliate links.)       1. Encourage Memorization The first time I remember doing any “public speaking” was reciting a Robert Louis Stevenson poem to a group of people. I don’t remember all the details of it well, but my mom tells me I was probably about six at the time. I’m sure I had already memorized some Bible verses and hymns at home, but I remember learning The Moon because I performed it for other people. Children can memorize as soon as they can talk. My 19-month-old isn’t stringing enough words together to memorize […]

Six Ways to Teach Public Speaking Skills

Eggless 30 Minute Dinner Rolls
Who doesn’t love homemade dinner rolls served fresh out of the oven? Everyone in my house loves them, including the toddler! Plus they are a perfect side for so many of our family’s standard main dishes. But usually I’m not even thinking about dinner early enough in the afternoon to start traditional yeast rolls. (Note: This post contains affiliate links.) For the longest time I kept running across recipes online for 30 Minute Dinner Rolls accompanied by rave reviews of these easy, tasty rolls you can start at 5:00 p.m. and still have ready in time for dinner. My only problem was that every recipe calls for an egg, which happens to be my one food allergy.   I eventually figured I should at least try omitting the eggs and see what happened. With a little trial and error I came up with an eggless version of the traditional recipe that […]

Eggless 30 Minute Dinner Rolls

  I have no explanation for why I wanted to compete in speech and debate. Most parents force their kids to participate; I asked my parents to let me. The stereotypical public speaker is charismatic and outgoing; I was quiet and reserved.   But I attended a summer camp as a 15-year-old and noticed that some of the most articulate students were talking about this thing called debate that they did. I came home intrigued and eventually asked my parents if I could try it. They said yes, so I signed up to give a speech for the last local homeschool tournament of the year, somehow made it to the final round, and knew I had found a new passion.   Over the course of the next seven years (three in high school and four in college), I competed in five forms of debate, five speech events, moot court, mock trial, […]

Public Speaking: A Dangerous Skill Worth Teaching

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I was given a mosaic stepping stone craft kit years ago as a child and it went in my bedroom closet where it sat. And sat. And sat. I don’t remember who gave it to me (my sincere apologies if you read this and remember!). I do remember that we talked about making them many times. My sister had one too. We pulled them out and looked at them. We would definitely make them. Someday. It looked like fun. And you can probably guess where this is going. Before the someday when I’d make my mosaic stone came the someday when I left home for college. And somehow a box filled with cement and mosaic stones didn’t make the cut for what got crammed into suitcases and piled into a dorm room.     Honestly I had forgotten all about that craft kit until I came home to visit my family […]

An Imperfect Mosaic and a Memory Made

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My alma mater held commencement this past weekend for the class of 2015, the freshmen during my senior year and the last class I knew at all as a student. Seeing graduation photos online had me reminiscing on those years, the three years since, and the ideas that have been most important in transitioning from college to “real life” (whatever that is).   1. Live in Community In some ways this became easier with life no longer punctuated by semester breaks. My husband and I moved into our first apartment, settled into jobs and a new church, and began building new friendships. But in other ways it became far more difficult, leaving a small tightly-knit campus where you couldn’t avoid seeing people even if you wanted to. As jobs, family, and church commitments have grown and friends have moved all over the country, preserving and building relationships has become more challenging but still oh, so worth […]

Community, Learning, and Embracing the Ordinary

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  Grace Reminders is about seeing the big and the little gifts in our everyday lives as the reminders of God’s grace that they are.   The cosmic wonder of purple, pink, orange, and red mingling in the sky just before the sun peaks through the trees behind our house. A grace reminder.   The smile of the expressive, morning-loving toddler who got me up in time to see that sunrise. A grace reminder.   Books, balls, and puzzle pieces littered across the living room floor. More reminders.     Food to put on the table for dinner. Another grace.   My days are filled with graces seen and unseen. Grace reminders is my challenge to myself to become a person who pauses to see, name, celebrate, and share those reminders.     Does it matter? Does stopping to recognize graces really change us?   I believe yes—it can, it should, […]

Welcome to Grace Reminders