Lifelines

I headed to the 2:1 conference last weekend after finding out that someone anonymously sponsored my ticket. Talk about humbled! I mean, really humbled considering that my blogging has been scattered and unpredictable for quite some time. There were no strings attached other than going. If my anonymous sponsor reads this, I cannot thank you enough.

No matter how much I made excuses for me to not go, the Lord knew that I needed to be there. He made it happen. He also laid it on Mr. Happy Brown House’s heart to make sure that I was there, too. Shout out to my husband for being one amazing guy…he watched the kids in the hotel room for 3 days while I went to sessions! Most of the time, he was found in the hallway outside of our room with Asher while Jonah was asleep. And yes, friends…he is like this at home, too. It wasn’t just for show. He spoils me and is a true partner.

Back to the conference…

I needed to hear every single session I went to. I needed to hear every single word spoken to me. From homeschool related encouragement to tearing down the lies that have been whispered to me while I’ve been bouncing a clingy, colicky, catnapper of a baby at all hours of the night…I needed every single word. These ladies, they spoke life-giving words. They made me laugh. They made me cry. They prayed over me.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re sitting there all skeptical and wondering if a blog conference could really be all of those things. I mean, isn’t it supposed to be about tech stuff and networking?

Yes and no.

2:1 Conference is a Christian Homeschool Bloggers Conference, so by default it is different. God surrounded me with some of the people I needed to hear from the most.

These women were lifelines for this girl who feels like she had fallen out of the boat and was being tossed by the waves.

I got to hug  some of my Totally Tots writing team. (From left to right: Jodi, Maureen, Carisa, and Jolanthe) I love these ladies and wish we could hang out much more often in real life.

Totally Tots Writing Team

I also got to hug Stephanie, who writes at The MOB Society with me. Friends, she is a precious friend to me. She brought her youngest with her who is slightly younger than Asher.

These are real-life friends, not just avatars on my computer. We are in secret Facebook groups together. We encourage each other and pray for each other regularly. And, these are my “people”. They get this this crazy blogging thing. They get why we are homeschooling because they homeschool.

Most importantly, they love the Father and continuously point me to Him.

(*Many thanks to Jodi for the Totally Tots group photo!)

Teach Them Diligently Convention: A Recap

Last weekend I strapped Asher in his carseat and drove with some friends to the Teach Them Diligently Convention. Only, it wasn’t that easy, because homeboy hates his carseat like nobody’s business. So a quick drive over the mountain in between nursing sessions took much, much longer than it should have, but that’s besides the point.

This was my first homeschool conference to attend. I had no idea what to expect, but I was with good friends and I knew, if anything, I would have a great time with the girls…plus Asher. Lucky for me, Teach Them Diligently was fantastic. It really set the bar high for all future homeschool conferences I attend. The speakers were fantastic. The vendor hall was filled to the brim and then some (seriously, there was an overflow room!) For being a first year event, I was super impressed with the smoothness of things. It was a well-oiled machine!

I had the chance to sit in some fabulous sessions. God used some of them to pierce my heart and reveal things in my heart that needed to be left at the feet of Jesus. Other sessions filled me up and gave me the confidence to follow our convictions about homeschooling, even if we’re in the minority. I couldn’t get to all the sessions I wanted to go to because there were just too many on my list! Some I had to step out of early due to my adorable little sidekick.

I got to connect with other homeschool moms that I know from social media. How fun is that?!?! Some of the meet-ups were planned, but one in particular was completely orchestrated by God and probably the most encouraging for me. I met Jacque from The Grain Loft, a real-life reader of The MOB Society, and fellow adoptive mom. My heart was so encouraged by our meeting. Their adoption story is similar to ours (well, the beginning at least) and it was a pleasure to talk to her and her husband. It was kinda weird to have someone recognize my writing, but kinda cool at the same time.

I also got to meet Melanie Young from Raising Real Men and a fellow MOB Society writer. Listening to Melanie and her husband, Hal, during their Raising Real Men session was fabulous. I have long admired them and what they have to say about raising boys (they are practically experts with 6 boys and 2 girls). Their session, named after their book Raising Real Men: Surviving, Teaching and Appreciating Boys, was a treasure trove of wisdom for parents of boys.

I got a chance to thumb through curriculum in the vendor hall. Picking curriculum is by far the most daunting thing to me right now about homeschooling and getting to look at things up close and personal was helpful. Although, at the same time, my indecision is getting the best of me still as I look over catalogs repeatedly. As a public school teacher, I never had the chance to choose curriculum…I don’t know what to do with this new found freedom! Although, I think I have narrowed it down to a few. We’re still praying over the decision.

One of the vendors that I met that blessed my heart was Kristi from Samuel L. Collins and the Search For Biblical Truths. She sent me home with a DVD for Jonah to watch & review and an encouraged heart. God used her speaking session to point my heart in the right direction when it comes to planning activities for Jonah. While the ABC’s and 123’s are important, I tend to get tunnel-vision when it comes to that sort of thing and forget that it isn’t all up to me. One of the things that I wrote down from this session in my notes was

“Where is God going to work when you have it all figured out already?”

Ouch. I’m so guilty of this. I think I have to have a plan and be in control, when really, God is already at work. Oh, this session was so good!

I know I’ll have lots more to say about Teach Them Diligently as I read over my notes and listen to the sessions that I missed. (My friends and I went in together to purchase them!) If they have it again next year, we’ll be going again for sure!

iHomeschool Studio | an online webinar with 4 days worth of popular homeschool speakers

How to Take a Shower When Home Alone With a Baby

Most of us who stay home with the kids would hate to admit how often we are still in our pajamas in the afternoon…ahem. While I think “pajama days” are definitely one of the perks of being a stay at home mom, I’ve come to realize that I get more done on the days I shower before noon. Not to mention, I feel better. There’s something psychological that happens to me when I stay in my jammies too often. The funk sets in.

Before Asher came, it was easy. I’d turn on PBS for a few minutes and Jonah was occupied long enough for me to shower and get ready. Once Asher came, things got a little more tricky in the shower department. At first, big brother was NOT to be trusted. Jonah’s jealousy was so thick you could slice it. The boys needed a chaperone at all times. I learned my lesson one day when I left the room for a nanosecond and returned to a screaming baby and guilty preschooler. While much better, I’m still not confident in leaving them alone together for very long. Asher has also hit the stage where he notices if you leave him. And by “notices” I mean he cries.

So, what’s a mommy to do when a shower is needed, but you’re alone with a baby that needs to see you? You improvise. And somewhere between the “lightbulb moment” and the successful shower you realize that your all-time favorite tip for a new mommy was born.

How to Take a Shower When Home Alone With a Baby:

Stick the baby in something that will keep them safe and occupied. I currently use the bouncy seat.

Using a Binder Clip, clip the decorative shower curtain up so that you will be able to see the baby.

It should look something like this…

Hurry, break the record for the fastest shower ever before the baby starts crying! FYI: Shaving is out of the question.

Linking up with We Are That Family’s Works for Me Wednesday!

Boutique Baby Series: No-Sew Pacifier Clip Tutorial {Guest Post}

Note from Sara: My friend Jenny from The Southern Institute is here today to share a tutorial with you while I snuggle up with my newest little guy. Let’s give her a warm welcome to the Happy Brown House!
Hello, everyone! It’s so good to be here today as a guest… my first time at Happy Brown House!  Sara asked if I would share a project with you and I thought this was the perfect thing.  This pacifier clip requires no sewing and it takes about 15 minutes!  It’s perfect for baby showers.

What you’ll need:
  • 1/2 inch velcro
  • scissors
  • hot glue gun
  • grosgrain ribbon (about 12 inches)
  • one mitten clip (they come in packs of two)
Step One: Cut a piece of velcro to match the width of your ribbon.
Step Two: Apply hot glue to the edge of one end of the ribbon and fold over about 1/2 inch.  Press firmly to adhere.  This creates a “hem” of sorts.
Step Three: Take the velcro (both sides stuck together) and glue one side to the edge of the “hem”.  Place hot glue on the second side and fold the ribbon over about 1 1/2 inches.  Press firmly.
This is the side that will be attached to the pacifier.
Step Four: On the other end of the ribbon, place hot glue along the edge and fold over 1/4 inch, just as you did the first side.  Feed the ribbon up through the back side of the mitten clip.  Place hot glue along the edge, fold over, and press firmly to secure the mitten clip to the ribbon.
You now have a completed No-Sew Pacifier Clip!
Your friends will be so impressed!

Disclaimer: Please, use common sense and DO NOT leave your baby unattended with a pacifier clip attached to them.

Sunday Morning (Shaun Groves Style)

My friend, Shaun Groves, has a new CD coming out in August. He’s just released links to preview the CD on his blog. It is quality music from a quality guy who loves Jesus, Compassion International, and Adoption…three of my favorite things. (Shaun and his wife, Becky, are in the process of adopting from Ethiopia, too!)

Listen for yourself…

Third World Symphony by shaungroves

You can go ahead and pre-order the CD for $10 at shaungroves.com/store

So tell me, which song do you like best?

Pennies & Blessings

I can’t believe I almost forgot to tell you about another place to hear from me…
Pennies and Blessings
My friend Mandy from Pennies and Blessings, has a fabulous team of writers and I’ve joined them to share some Frugal Family Fun! Pennies and Blessings is so much more than a coupon/deal website. It offers information about living well on a frugal budget–military life, at home, bargain shopping, frugally green, thrifty kitchen,  family fun and saving & giving. Living frugally so we can use our blessings to impact the world is a choice for our family, but it doesn’t mean that we can’t live well. My first post is up and offers 10 Ideas for Frugal Spring Fun. I’d love it if you’d join me over there today!

Mommy & Me: Favorite Preschool Printable Resources

Not all of my Mommy & Me Activities are handmade. And most of the time, they are not even made by me. I’ll often print something I find and adapt it for Jonah’s readiness. I know that most of us are busy. While I try to show you easy things that anyone can make, sometimes your printer may be the easiest way for you to put together a Mommy & Me activity! So why don’t I show you some of my favorite places to find quality preschool/kindergarten printables?

Writing Practice with a Printable

1+1+1=1Carisa at 1+1+1=1 has some fabulous printable resources. Her blog is full of ideas and her website has some great printables. I often wonder when she sleeps. Seriously. I plan on using some of her Raising Rockstars Preschool materials with Jonah soon. He’s more than ready, I’m just trying to get through this hyperemesis so I can devote the energy he deserves from me for “Mommy’s Official Preschool.” I met Carisa at Relevant ’10 and am blessed to call her friend. She’s the mastermind behind Totally Tots.

Jolanthe at Homeschool Creations is a girl after my own heart when it comes to printables! Jolanthe’s style is clean and clutter-free…just the way I like them! She also has a blog and a website to house her printables. I love that some of Jolanthe’s printables use REAL pictures, not just clip-art.  (It’s a pet-peeve I developed when teaching ESL kindergarten.) I also met Jolanthe at Relevant ’10 and am blessed to call her friend. She partnered with Carisa to help run Totally Tots.

Maureen at Spell Outloud is a contributor for Totally Tots with printables to share. Like the two above, she has a blog and a separate website for the printables. I am amazed at all Maureen does…she’s a homeschooling mom of 6…one of which is only 5 months old! Maureen is constantly adding ABC printables that go along with her posts on Totally Tots.

coahbuttonErica at Confessions of a Homeschooler is another contributor for Totally Tots. Erica has an entire Letter of the Week curriculum that is fabulous. You can print each of the files individually for free, or you can pay $10 and get all of the files sent to you at once. (Worth it in my opinion!) If you click on ABC’s & 123’s, there are tons of fabulous ideas! Erica gives tons of information and has some of the easiest ideas for making your own manipulatives.

Musings of Me is a blog I found recently. Her printable theme packs are full of fun with adorable clip-art!

And here are a few of my favorite “must have” items to help me keep all of my printables organized and ready for Jonah…

(You’ll have to click over to see the widget if you’re reading in a blog reader or email. Sorry!)

These are just a few of my favorite places. Do you have any favorite places not on my list?