Valentine’s Day Freebie


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Happy Valentine’s Day! 

As I mentioned in my February goals post, I love Valentine’s Day. In fact, I’ll be dangerous and say it’s my favorite holiday.

So, I was pretty excited when education.com contacted me and asked if I wanted to share a Valentine’s themed freebie on my blog.

For years, when I was teaching public school, education.com was my go-to for themed activities when I just needed a little opening activity or something to enrich our current unit of study.

Today, I’m sharing with you lovely readers this adorable Valentine’s Day maze. Finn loves mazes and I can see using this with him to not only trace the maze with his finger or crayon, but I could see using candy hearts to trace the path. For older children, you could turn this into an estimating activity as well. As in, “How many candy hearts will it take to reach the end of the maze?”. Just a couple of ideas there for you.

I also wanted to mention that today they are having a Valentine’s Sale on their Premium Membership, so check that out as well.

Snuggle up to your little ones with this sweet Valentine’s Day maze worksheet. For more learning fun, go to Education.com!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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This post was sponsored by education.com. However, all statements are my own thoughts and opinions. For all sponsorship inquiries, please email me at littlepapercrown@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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#goals vol. 1


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Since tomorrow is the beginning of a new month, I decided I’d start a monthly series called “#goals”. I thought it may help to keep me motivated to work toward the goals I set for myself each month (and how they tie into my Word for the Year) as well as offer a little bit of accountability.

You can see my January goals in more detail HERE, but the basic list was as follows:

  • Participate in the Rest Retreat on Homesong blog. done. 
  • Read the January chapter of The Life-giving Home by Sally Clarkson. done.
  • Finish Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors. done.
  • Roll beeswax candles with the kids. done.
  • Finish For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaffer Macauley. two chapters left.
  • Make Waldorf window stars with the kids. got distracted by pretty Valentine’s decorations and did those instead. #sorrynotsorry
  • Spin wool on a spindle to make yarn. moving to February’s goals.

We had a lot more sickness in January than I expected and I run a small, local coffee roasting business out of my home, so I think I overscheduled myself just a smidge. However, I’m not dismayed that I didn’t check off every goal this month, because the whole point was to set goals that provided nourishment for my soul. I got to the ones that mattered most to me.

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I decorated for Valentine’s a bit early.  

February Goals:

Decorate for Valentine’s Day. 

Valentine’s Day is my favorite holiday, hands down. It always has been, even when I was single. I think there’s something about looking at all those pretty pink and red hearts and sentiments of love during a still dreary part of winter that just invigorates my spirit. (Plus, let’s not forget that it’s the official time of year for Little Debbie Fancy Cakes! Been there, ate those already.)

This is the first year that I’ve actually made a point to decorate for Valentine’s and I have a bit of a head start as you can see above, but I have more to come!

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A book of Vintage Valentines. 

Make Valentines with the Kids. 

I found this booklet of vintage punch-out Valentines on Amazon. I want to sit down with the kids and think of all our loved ones, near and far and send special Valentines to them…in the actual mail. Some of the Valentines in this pack are so stinkin’ cute, I may just use them for extra decoration.

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reading list & handicraft

Read the remainder of For the Children’s Sake & the February chapter of Life-giving Home.

I’m keeping the reading light this month because I want to focus a lot of my energy on doing fun Valentine’s things with my kiddos. They are two of my most favorite people in all the world and I want have the brain space to be really present with them this month as we create and celebrate L-O-V-E!

Spin at least half of my pile of wool into yarn. (It’s more than what’s pictured.)

And that’s it for February goals!

So, what would you like to accomplish this coming month? What books are you reading, what podcasts are you enjoying, and what activities are on your to do list this February?

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The “#goals” series first appeared on the Little Paper Crown blog.

 

The Bare Necessities


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About two years ago, I was feeling completely overwhelmed with life. I had two kids under the age of three and they had so many toys and made so many messes, and had so many needs that I eventually came to end of myself. That’s when I stumbled upon the concept of minimalism.

And it pretty much resurrected my motherhood.

Instead of trying to do everything

and be everything

and do it all perfectly,

I discovered a way to pare down our belongings and our schedule to just the essentials.

I’ll discuss the process I went through to accomplish this in a separate post if you’re interested, but I feel like the past two weeks of the Rest Retreat (via homesongblog) have focused on the same concept. It’s been great reinforcement for some of the practices I’ve established for myself in efforts to feel less stressed and less rushed in life, so I thought I’d share my list of non-negotiables with you today.

“Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Rest Retreat Week 2: Establishing Your Non-Negotiables

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Daily Bible Reading

 

Daily Bible Reading : This goes for both myself and the kids. There are plenty of days where I don’t quite get to my intended reading for the day, but I’ve found that if I set my alarm for about an hour before the kids get up or if I read my Bible immediately after the kids have been put to bed, it’s much easier not to let this daily practice slip. I try to infuse my day with podcasts that include some scripture as well, because we all know there are days when reading your Bible gets lost in the shuffle of the day and this allows me to hear scripture on days when I don’t quite make it to my reading.

We also read the Jesus Storybook Bible with the kids each night. I think bedtime is the perfect time to give them something to ponder from God’s Word as they’re drifting off.

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Naptime

Naptime: Anyone with small children at home understands this is a serious non-negotiable. Because neither of my children slept through the night until they were at least 2 years old and were not good nappers either in those first two years, guarding nap time has almost become a full-time job for me, for peace in our household and for my sanity. I’ve had many people be surprised when I said even Finn (5) still naps for at least an hour or more in the afternoons, but if anyone has ever experienced chronic sleep deprivation over the course of several years, I think you probably realize I’ve earned a daily naptime. I will continue this practice until they outgrow the need for naps and then we’ll transition to afternoon quiet times.

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Unplugging

Unplugging: I spoke a bit about this last week, but I’ve found it’s crucial for the well-being of my children, my husband, and myself that I’m completely present for the activities of the day, even the activities that are hard or draining. As part of this retreat, I’ve logged out of all social media (except for business pages) and had my phone in the other room for most of the day. After the retreat concludes, I will make some decisions about how to keep my screen time to a minimum without becoming a hermit who lives in a cave in the woods.

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Margin

Margin: I’m sure many of you stay-at-home, work-at-home, or homeschooling mamas can relate when I say that sometimes people think you have unending amounts of free time simply because you’re home. Or that they can drop in any time of day. Or that they can interrupt your daily activities because what could you possibly be doing all day, right?

Because this can happen so frequently, I’ve found that it’s best to reserve certain days or certain times of the day as “do not disturb” hours. These are days or times when I do not schedule social visits, when I don’t respond to texts or phone calls (unless it’s an emergency), and I don’t allow visitors. If I was at work or the kids were at school, we wouldn’t be home for anyone to see anyway, so I feel that this is a necessity to help our days run at a smooth and predictable pace. It also allows for plenty of breathing room in the day’s activities.

And there you have it. Four simple, but completely necessary things we need in order to help our days run peacefully and smoothly.

So what about you? What are your non-negotiables? How have you set up your life’s framework to best accomplish your goals?

Next week, I’ll wrap up the Rest Retreat and share how many of my January goals I was able to check off my list. Hope you all have a fantastic week!

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Rest Retreat Week 1 Recap: Resetting Your Rhythms


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“It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.”

-Laura Ingalls  Wilder

I mentioned last week that I’m participating in the Rest Retreat on Homesong Blog as part of my goal for 2018 of nourishing my soul. Part of the retreat includes logging off of all social media for the entire month of January.

That part was pretty easy for me because I was already feeling like my phone and my interaction on social media was not helping me to achieve the more quiet existence I was craving.

I was discussing it with a friend the other day and she asked, “What is it about social media that you struggle with? How it sucks you in or how much you’re posting? Or is it how other people are behaving on social media?”

My answer was all of the above.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love social media. In fact, you’re probably reading this on social media, so I don’t want to bite the hand that feeds me. I love it for the community it creates with kindred spirits that you might never meet in real life, especially in the homeschool community. I love that I find new and interesting ideas on social media and am inspired to try new things. I love that you can connect with friends and family who live far away and share parts of your life with one another so the distance doesn’t seem so great.

This might seem silly, but I have always had a guideline for myself about posting something on social media. Before I post, I ask myself “Am I posting this because it brings me joy or inspiration and I just want to share with others or am I posting to show how great I’m doing at life, at homeschooling, or how perfect our life is?” If my answer is the latter, I don’t post. I just savor the picture or anecdote myself and move on.

It’s been so fantastic during this retreat not to even have that thought cross my mind.

But my problem wasn’t just with social media. It was—in all honesty—an addiction to my phone. And using my phone and instant access to just about anything to check out during stressful parts of my day.

Ugh. I get a bad taste in my mouth just typing that. But it’s true.

Knowing that as I went into this retreat, I knew I had to be really intentional in finding ways to only use my phone for calls/texts and only at specific times of day.

First things first, I began leaving my phone on my bedside table instead of taking it with me from room to room. I always justified that in the past because I used my phone as a clock as well, so that was the second step. We bought a cute, inexpensive wall clock for the kitchen, so that makes leaving my phone behind even easier.

Besides logging out of all social media, I downloaded the Pages app so that I could keep up with my business pages and communicate with customers without being sucked into the rest of Facebook. And I turned notifications to that and Messenger OFF, so that I could only check those at certain times during “business hours”.

Here are a few observations I’ve made since beginning this retreat three weeks ago and unplugging from my phone and social media more often:

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  • I’m definitely more “present”, even during stressful times of my day. But now, instead of escaping into social media, I’m forced to confront the self-imposed attitudes, behaviors, and bad habits I’ve allowed to creep in and hang around and I’ve actually had to deal with them head on. It’s made for some very positive changes in my daily routines and rhythms and in the atmosphere of our home in general.
  • I’ve been more intentional with inviting people to spend time with me in person versus just interacting with them online and feeling like we’d seen each other. In fact, I’ve had the time and the desire to get together with some friends I haven’t seen in several years and our visits have been so life-giving and soul-filling.
  • No one has tried to sell me anything, there have been no bandwagons to jump on, and I’ve not wanted to purchase whatever the next latest and greatest item was because I’ve simply not seen any advertisements or sponsored posts. I’ve purchased things that I wanted to instead of suffering from new-and-shiny product syndrome or being guilted into buying a product. It’s made me far more content with my own belongings.
  • I’ve interacted more one-on-one with family, near and far away. I’ve sent cute pictures and funny anecdotes from the kids to individual family members who I thought would enjoy them instead of just sharing with everyone in my social circle and hoping the family saw them. I don’t know how to explain it, but it makes those relationships feel more rich because I was sending things based on what I knew those particular family members would find amusing.
  • I’ve read more. I already completed my goal to read the January chapter of The Life-Giving Home by Sally Clarkson and I’ve got two chapters left in For the Children’s Sake. The kids and I have also been listening to some great audiobooks together.
  • In general my mind has been quieter and my soul has been more calm.

It seems so insane to me that doing something as simple as removing myself from social media and limiting my phone usage has impacted my life and well-being so drastically.

My goal in the remaining weeks of the Rest Retreat is to continue in these recently reset rhythms and practices and really establish them as set patterns in my life. The peace and nourishment the past three weeks have brought me in working through this area of weakness for me has been so nurturing and refreshing, I’d hate to just scrap it all at the end of the month. But I know that it will require a large measure of self-control (one of the other many things I need to work on) and intentionality to continue these rhythms the rest of the year.

So, what about you? Are you participating in the Rest Retreat with Amanda at Homesong Blog? Are you taking a social media/phone fast for any part of 2018 or do you plan to at some point? I’d love to hear how you navigate it and welcome any tips for becoming more unplugged without losing true connection with your community.

Next week, I’ll be sharing more from the retreat as I discuss Establishing my Non-Negotiables. 

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Click HERE if you missed my Word for the Year 2018.

 

 

 

Word for the Year 2018


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Word for 2018

I always look forward to the beginning of a new year—ripe with new possibilities, new opportunities, and a renewed focus for life.

In years past, I’ve found choosing a word for the year to be more helpful than setting a New Year’s Resolution. However, after a couple of years of feeling like I couldn’t maintain the intentions I set with my word for the year, I’ve decided to approach things a bit differently this time around.

My word for 2018 is “NOURISH”. You can hear more about why I chose this word in the video at the end of the post.

For purposes of accountability, even if only to myself, I’ve decided to document my goals for each month as they pertain to the theme “NOURISH”.

January Goals:

1. Successfully participate in the Rest Retreat hosted by Amanda from HomeSong Blog

This includes logging out of all social media accounts for the month of January. I’ll be blogging more about the discoveries I’ve made from taking this short hiatus as the retreat progresses, but I can already say I feel like it’s been a breath of fresh air to remove my online presence for a short while.

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Rest Retreat Calendar

2. More reading and trying a new hobby. 

This month I’m reading just the January chapter in The LifeGiving Home by Sally Clarkson. I’m halfway through Daring to Hope by Katie Davis Majors, so I’d like to complete it, along with For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaffer Macaulay.

I also want to add a handicraft to my evening wind-down routine. I picked up this hand spindle and wool at a local folk art festival in September, but would like to actually spin some yarn from the wool. A very sweet lady at the festival showed me how to get started and I’m hoping it’s a simple as many of the youtube videos I’ve watched make it seem.

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Recommended Reading & Handicraft

3. As part of my goal to do more handicrafts with the kids, I wanted to roll beeswax candles. I still fondly remember rolling candles like these for Valentine’s Day with my mom. I found an inexpensive kit from Honey Run Farm on Etsy and we rolled them yesterday. Both kids enjoyed the activity, but I’d say it’s best suited for ages 5 and up. They smell amazing and I’ve read that beeswax candles purify the air. 

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4. Lastly this month, I want to make Waldorf window stars with the kids. It involves folding kite paper—which I have in plenteous amounts—but I’ve yet to take the time to make them. Sarah Baldwin from Bella Luna Toys (where we purchased our kite paper) has a great tutorial here! I think they will brighten the gray days of January and make the house feel more cozy. 

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Image via Bella Luna Toys

And that’s it. 

Those are my goals for January. Nothing too life-changing or earth-shattering, but I know that if I accomplish these few things this month, my soul will feel nourished and happy.

Stick around this month as I continue to explore what the word “Nourish” means for my day to day in 2018 and how each of my monthly goals contributes to setting that intention for the year.

So what about you? Do you have a word for 2018? Do you have any tips or advice on sticking to your goals each month as they pertain to your word?

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A Note for Finn: 5


Finn 5

You love telling people you’re a whole hand now!

Dear Finn,

We can hardly believe that the tiny 6lb, one month early bundle of fire and sweetness who made us a family is 5 years old now. That’s you!

You have filled our home with wonder, imagination, more energy than we can keep contained in these four walls, and plenty of stories.

Here are a few of your favorite things at the moment:

Favorite Colors: blue, green, and orange

Favorite Activities: reading, making up stories, singing, rainbow water beads, playing with cars, playing grocery store with Lydia

Favorite Books/Stories: The Gruffalo, Snow White, The Three Little Pigs, and Little Red Riding Hood (Pretty much any story featuring wolves or coyotes is your favorite)

Favorite Animals: Coyotes, Horses, Wolves, Foxes, and Deer (In that order)

Favorite Movies/Shows: Snow White (You say you like Dopey because he is clumsy), Bambi (Thumper is your hero), Superbook (You love Gizmo), Paw Patrol, Tumble Leaf, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

Favorite Songs (to sing or hum): Peter’s Theme from Peter and the Wolf, My Favorite Things from the Sound of Music, Roundtable Rivals by Lindsey Stirling, and Despacito (which mama really regrets playing around you because she didn’t know what the song meant)

Let’s take a look back at some of our favorite moments from your first five years!

 

Me and Finn-First Pic

Our first official picture together…you look so tiny.

Finn Boppy Smiling

You were a very happy baby and very hungry all the time!

Finn playing 7

We love that toothless grin.

Finn planking

We used to call this “baby plank”.

9 month Finn WVA Hiking

You’ve always been ready for an adventure.

Finn Suprised Face

And had a deep enthusiasm for life.

Finn Ice Cream Ikea

And ice cream.

12 months making noise

You’ve always loved to make lots of noise, musically or otherwise.

finns cutting blue eyes

You’ve always loved being outside, looking at bugs and poking things with sticks.

morning hair

That hair! It’s always been out of control but it suits your personality. Wild & Free!

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You’ve always been very passionate and expressive as well.

Me finn &amp; lydia

We gave you a best friend for life when you were a little over 2.

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You liked her most of the time.

Lydia 7 months 10

And finally had someone to crawl in the floor with.

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You have almost always had something in each hand.

Finn three 10

You’ve always had the best laugh, full of energy and mischievous exuberance.

Lydia 18 months 16

You don’t mind being silly with us.

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You don’t mind being the center of attention one bit.

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You love school and have a very curious personality that will serve you well as an adult.

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Math is your favorite subject, but you also love being read to. I’m pretty sure we’ve read every book in the library.

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Sometimes you pretend Lydia annoys you, but deep down you love her and she’s your favorite playmate.

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You just started getting into drawing so you loved when Mama used you as her subject here.

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You love to poke, prod, pick, or otherwise explore everything around you.

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You thought we’d found King Louie from The Jungle Book at the Erie Zoo.

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Horse in one hand, car in the other…almost always.

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One of the many family celebrations we had over the week of Thanksgiving. You’re well loved!

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Rainbow water beads. Notice the car and the horse once again.

We are so thankful for you and all the joy your bring to our lives and our home. We can’t wait to see how God matures you and helps you grow into the strong young man He’s created you to be. We love you, Bud-Bud!

Love,

Mama

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You can read all the A Note for Finn posts here. And his birth story here.