In my family, we love to celebrate with food. At Valentine's Day, we enjoy setting a fancy table accented with pink and red hearts. We love planning festive menus for breakfast or lunch or dinner.
Here are some menu ideas if you would like to celebrate St. Valentine's Day with food.
Heart-Shaped Waffles with Strawberries & Whipped Cream
Heart-Shaped Chocolate Pancakes with Syrup
Bowl of Raspberries & Pears
Heart-Shaped Ham Sandwiches
Pink Milk (put a few drops of food coloring in your milk)
Cranberry Juice mixed with Club Soda
Heart-Shaped Tea Sandwiches
Scones with Raspberry Jam
I tried to make St. Valentine's Day special for our family while the children were growing up. We ate dinner together with the good china on a lace tablecloth. We celebrated love!
I loved exchanging little Valentine's Day cards when I was a little girl. As I grew into teenage years, I never seemed to have a sweetie when the day rolled around, so I felt lonely and depressed without a true love to celebrate with. When I became a Christian, I investigated to discover the true story of St. Valentine, a Christian pastor in Rome.
You can read "St. Valentine, The Real Story" here from CBN.
When I had my own family, I decided to celebrate love, the true love that comes from Jesus. That's the kind of love that St. Valentine had for his beloved flock. And after all, the day's named after him.
Because of the way our culture sees St. Valentine's Day, I wanted to reach out to singles, too. We have included many single guys and ladies in our festivities. Although messages from the world creep in, I have tried to make St. Valentine's Day a family celebration because we all need the perfect love that comes from the Lord. Reaching out to people has helped us to show God's love to others.
I love SchoolhouseTeachers.com which makes me so excited to review the Ultimate Annual Yearly Membership where I can use online courses and electives to my heart's delight. You can download so many courses at SchoohouseTeachers.com, storing them on your computer or just printing as you go. There are also online courses where your children can access the course and teacher on your computer, laptop, or phone. Students are able to go at their own pace. Oh, and did I mention, one family membership includes everyone! That's such a huge savings on curriculum.
At first I felt overwhelmed by all the choices. Should I go to High School Homeschool Courses? Or Elementary Homeschool Courses? Or check out the Middle School Homeschool Courses? Or do I need Homeschool Parent Support?
Where did I go first?
To Preschool Playground of course. After all, I'm a grandmother.
With over 400 options available from preschool to high school and new courses added regularly, I find myself spending hours browsing. It's like being in a homeschool curriculum store. EXCEPT--I can use any curriculum I want to at no extra expense. Wow!
We enjoyed Preventing and Responding to Emergencies, a course for 5th-6th graders teaching them practical ways to help out in emergency situations. Created by homeschool mom Jenny Underwood, there are nine lessons. With practical explanations and instructions, she teaches how to respond to cuts, snake bites, spider bites, hypothermia, broken bones, muscle sprains, poisoning, electric shock, drowning, heat exhaustion, burns, and frostbite. My favorite part was putting together the first aid kit.
Love is all you need. Love is in the air. Love makes the world go 'round. Love hurts. Love is all I need. Until the twelfth of never, I'll still be loving you.
We hear songs about love our entire life. They shape how we define love. From the songs I've heard in my lifetime, I would have to say, "Love is intoxicating like a drug and when it fades away, life is no longer worth living."
I have also watched a million romantic comedies. From these, I must conclude, "When you really love someone, you fight a lot and misunderstand one another until that magical kiss. Then you live happily ever after.
Oh, I'm so glad that movies and songs are not the only thing that defined my definition of love.
I was blessed to be loved by two wonderful parents, to see a beautiful love between my grandmother and grandfather, and to experience God's love at church, and later personally when I became born again at age 16.
As I grew in the Lord, my definition of love began to change. I no longer believe the definitions I learned from pop songs and chick flicks.
As I studied the Bible, I discovered three Greek words (Eros, Philia, Agape) that are all translated love in the New Testament, yet their meanings are completely different. Let's explore the three loves talked about in the Word of God.
After a series of fights and misunderstandings, the hero and heroine realize they are desperately in love and kiss passionately. Birds start singing and the whole world is brighter.
Well, Hollywood's version of love.
Unfortunately, physical attraction, obsession, and passion don't cement two people together for long. Attraction is the icing on the cake, but there is a love that lasts a lifetime.
What is that love?
What does it look like?
Well, let me start by describing it.
Love that lasts starts with mutual respect and admiration. Two people can look up to one another without either one being intimidated or trying to "put the other in their place."
Not only do two people respect one another, but they want the best for one another, even if that doesn't include the relationship working out. Let me explain. When a man loves a woman, he wants her to walk in God's perfect will for her life, even he is not part of that equation. He cheers her on. A woman who loves a man does everything she can to inspire him and encourage him to grow in his giftings and strengths. Sometimes this requires making sacrifices.
When my oldest daughter got married, we were able to go into the church and reception venue the day before to decorate. Our decorations were elaborate and it took us hours to get everything ready for the next day.
For our most recent wedding, the ceremony and reception would all be at one venue with the ceremony in the rotunda (sun room) and reception in the ballroom. Immediately, this eliminated some of the major decorations. My oldest daughter had envisioned a dance floor that friends built for her, but this place already had a dance floor. In the first wedding, we had to set up tables and chairs, as well as put on the tablecloths. In our recent wedding, the venue set up the tables and chairs exactly as requested and the caterer would supply the table linens and set the tables.
It will be a breeze! I thought to myself.
Oh how naive I was!
We still had to set up the welcome table, the wedding favor table, the card/gift table, the photo booth, the arch for the ceremony, the cake table decorations, and all the centerpieces.
Not as much decorating, but still a lot of work! And we only had an hour to get it all done. Sigh.
I was so excited when the Lord gave me a plan to include the wedding party and family to help plan, make, set up, and tear down the decorations.
The plan helped things to run smoothly and let people serve where they enjoyed serving.
"If things don't go on schedule, we won't be able to get nice photos after the wedding," Jenny Rose sighed.
Oh, dear, I thought to myself. I don't know of any weddings that stay on schedule. My first daughter's wedding hadn't stayed on schedule.
But instead of sharing that with my daughter, I confidently replied, "It will. You'll see."
Over the next six months, my faith wavered, though I stormed Heaven with pleas for my daughter's desire for the wedding to stay on schedule.
I made a schedule that was workable but would depend on so many people. Oh, and did I mention that there were some time-challenged relatives?
In a practical way, I divided decoration set up so that several people worked together, more people than needed so the job would be completed quickly. I wrote up a detailed schedule and shared it with everyone in the wedding party, as well as those helping out. I let the caterer, wedding coordinator, photographer, and emcee know that it was really important to the bride to stay on schedule.
There. I had done everything I could do.
Three weeks before the wedding, I got a phone call from a dear friend who kept finding herself praying for our wedding. She wondered why the Lord kept putting the wedding on her heart to pray. I shared with Felice all the prayer needs for Jenny Rose's wedding and we prayed together.
Hanging up the phone, I realized that Jesus loves me and my daughter. Our desires matter to Him. He raised someone up to pray for us because He loves us. I felt weepy and happiness spread throughout my being. I am loved! I forget that sometimes, but it's true. Jesus loves me. And my daughter.
I kept praying for the wedding schedule among other wedding prayer needs and felt peace come over me.
I have been using Google Maps quite a bit recently as two of my daughters were house hunting. Each of the MLS listings had a Google Map that allowed me to see where it was located.
I would look at the other houses on the street and often switch to Google Earth to see it in a photograph.
Soon I would find myself on nearby streets exploring and discovering streets, houses, and neighborhoods I never knew existed.
It got me thinking.
I realized that Google Maps would be a great way to explore the neighborhood and the world.
Here are some ideas to get you started and I'm sure you can come up with many more.
Explore Your Neighborhood
After exploring other neighborhoods, I realized what fun it would be to explore our own neighborhood. You simply type in your address to locate your house.
It's so funny to see your house on Google Earth. One time we had left some toys in the yard and could see them in the photo.
Once you see your home, you simply expand outward, exploring your street, streets nearby, and soon you will discover streets, stores, and large homes you never knew existed. This is super fun for the adventurous child. Now, of course, when you are finished, you have to get in the car and go see things in person.
We found a beautiful street that looked like a dirt driveway from the main road, but it was dotted with lovely old historic homes. We had so much fun seeing them and imaging who lived in them now and who had lived in them long ago.
Visit Dream Vacation Cities
Some children love a tidy room and others...well...hmm. Let's teach children & teens to organize and clean their world in a fun way. Scheduling can be enjoyable, too.
When we organize, clean, or work on schedules, I try to stay lighthearted and make it fun. I always have a treat afterward like watching a movie or going to the park.
You see, these things are not my favorite things so how on earth would I expect it to be my children's favorite things, but they are part of life so I want to do them with a cheerful heart. My children will see things the way I do, so in training children, my attitude is the most important thing.
Also: how well my children clean their room or stay on schedule or organize their things has NOTHING to do with their value. I never want to belittle my children over these things, but I want to lead them from success to success to success.
In my family, there are messies. I won't name them in case you know them or meet them in person. Messies need more training, but they can learn to keep things mostly tidy. Free spirits can learn to stay on a loose schedule. Everyone can learn to clean.
Here are some blog posts and a podcast on organizing:
Smart Storage to Eliminate Clutter
Organizing Your Homeschool
Say the word "math" and some homeschool moms tremble!
Are you one of those moms?
Many of us have bad memories of math. We might have struggled to understand it or if we understood it, we might have had trouble with making silly mistakes.
Or maybe we just don't remember math. After all, how often do you figure out the perimeter of a circle or square root of 624?
If you are a mom with a distaste for math, I want to encourage you that you can teach math to your children with a cheerful heart.
Nope! Possible! Probable!
You see, math is a such a blessing for our children. Math helps their minds to think logically and builds pathways in their brains. Starting the day with math is like stretching or working out the brain first thing.
So, how can we overcome the dread?
Well, let's start with some basics about math. Math is incremental. That means that you have to learn one thing well before you learn the next thing. So if we don't understand something completely and are not able to do it fluently (more on fluently later in this blog), then we will struggle with the next topic.
Mastery at each step is more important than finishing the math book by the end of the year. Some children can zip through math and others take two years to fully understand and complete a math textbook. Many students can race through grade three math, but need more time on grade four math.
Tips for Math Mastery & Fluency
Christmas is over. The children are enjoying their new toys. Is it time to celebrate the New Year already? It just goes so fast, doesn't it?
Celebrating the new year can often be an afterthought with me.
I am so focused on Christmas that when New Years comes along, I'm super-tired!
However, we have picked up some traditions along the way that I can share with you. (Please add your own Christmas traditions in a comment below).
We like to have friends over to celebrate New Years. We play games, sing karaoke, or just chat. Around 11:30, we start worship. Usually Rose leads worship with her guitar. Afterward, we have communion, using sparkling cider or sparkling grape juice.
When it's exactly midnight, we ring in the New Year with shouts, hugs, and kisses. Afterward, we usually pray for the new year ahead.
Here are some foods I serve to guests and family on New Years Eve:
Haystacks ( sometimes I use White Chocolate Chips)
Our Famous Curtis Cheese Ball we serve with Triscuits
Tortilla Chips with Bean Dip
Sometimes we light firecrackers or sparklers to bring in the new year after worship.
On New Years Day, we sleep in, really late for us! For my husband Mike and I, sleeping in means 7 a.m. instead of 6 a.m., but on New Years Day, we might sleep 'til 9 or 10 o'clock.
New Years Day
Why do we love new beginnings?
Probably because we mess up so much.
We dream of being the perfect man, woman, husband, wife, parent, employer, employee, son, daughter.
And we stumble so often. We long for a new start, to get it right. If we just work hard enough, this time we'll get it.
Alas, our self-control goes only so far and at least some of our New Year's resolutions are cast aside or given up on.
Every year, I celebrate the start of a new year with hope and expectation. This year is no exception. I am bubbling over with hope, expecting a great year. Not because I have enough self-control to get it right. Nope. I'm celebrating because the source of hope in my life is Jesus! All my failures of last year, an hour ago, five minutes ago--they are all washed away. Every time I confess my sins, I am forgiven and He does a deep work in my soul. His work in me changes me from the inside out. His Spirit is so much stronger than my self-control. And I am confident. Not in my abilities, but in His ability to conform me to the image of His Son.
In the meantime, as He continues His work in me, I am rejoicing!
I rejoice because He loves me! I rejoice because when He looks at me, He sees the righteousness of Christ! I rejoice because He promises good to me, not harm, a hope and a future.
What a wonderful joy fills my heart when I realize that if I blow it, and I might, I am still loved, still righteous in His sight, and still a recipient of all His promises. He will forgive me. He will continue His work in me.
I live in a win-win situation.
So I will bring in the New Year with joy! I will celebrate another year to serve Him, to enjoy His love.
The girls in our homeschool co-op homemaking class made wreaths in December.
We kept it pretty simple by purchasing artificial pine wire wreaths to decorate. I love the wire because it's so easy to hang up.
All kinds of decorations were available to the girls in the homemaking class. We had artificial gold and red poinsettias, ribbon, red bows, gold bows, pine cones, bells, and tiny ornaments.
We used glue guns to attach the decor onto the wreath. We were careful with the glue guns, going over safety before we started. We kept them on paper plates when not in use and even kept a bowl of ice water on the table in case of burns.
The girls had a blast making Christmas wreaths. Each one was unique and beautiful.
Over the years, my children and I have made many wreaths at Christmas time. Some we have given as Christmas gifts and others still hang on our wall.
A Christmas wreath says, "Welcome!" to all visitors and adds a festive touch to any home.
Making and hanging wreaths is a special part of our Christmas. It is a tradition we enjoy!
Finish Well Radio is a podcast on the Ultimate Homeschool Radio Network.
You can tune in the first and third Monday evening at 7 p.m. to hear brand new shows here. You can listen to previous podcasts here.
Who's the host?
Meredith Curtis hosts Finish Well with lots of friends and family who pop in to share their wisdom. Meredith and her husband Mike have been homeschooling since 1991 and graduated five teens from high school at home. She and her friend Laura lead a homeschool co-op. She is the co-owner of Powerline Productions where curriculum, high school courses, units, and Bible studies are available for those who believe that learning should be fun!
What's It about?
Finish Well is geared to teens and their parents who want to finish their homeschooling adventure with excellence and make a difference right now in their world for the glory of God. Finish Well Radio is a spin-off of our Finish Well Homeschooling High School conference.
Who should tune in?
Homeschooling Moms & Dads who homeschool high school, homeschooling teens and preteens, homeschooling Moms who are considering homeschooling and/or homeschooling high school, and families who want to grow in Christ and enjoy life!
Must Listen-To Episodes
Do you like cozy mysteries?
Do you have a kindle?
Legend of the Candy Cane Murder is FREE for your Kindle from December 21-December 25, 2018.
This is our Christmas present to you! We hope you will enjoy this Christmas cozy mystery.
Homeschool mom Maggie King is reading one of her favorite Christmas books to her Sunday school class when a boy confesses to killing his mother. Though everyone else writes it off, Maggie thinks something mysterious is going on and is proved right when she stumbles across a dead body. Her investigation leads her to investigate a beautiful model, a con artist, and a prestigious family surrounded by mystery. Did I mention the FBI? All this takes place as the King and Martinelli family are getting ready for Christmas. Will this be a picture-perfect holiday? Only if they figure out who the murderer is. Can you figure out who the murderer is before they do?
You can download your FREE copy of Legend of the Candy Cane Murder. Legend of the Candy Cane Murder is #6 in the Maggie King Mystery series.