Valentine’s Day Puts Me in a Crafty Mood

It wasn’t until almost the end of January that I finally pulled down all the Christmas decorations and put them away, which always seems to be the case every year. 😉 Putting up the decorations is a whole lot more fun and motivating than taking them down!

When everything was cleaned up, my house looked a little naked from the missing decorations. Especially my front door.  Since the middle of October, there had been a wreath gracing my front door, welcoming guests to my home.  Now, all of a sudden there was nothing there.  Realizing that Valentine’s Day was coming up, I thought it would be rather fun to make a Valentine inspired wreath for the front door to replace the Christmas one that I had taken down. Here is a little sneak peek of the finished product.

Love Birds
Love Birds

I really got a lot of enjoyment out of creating this wreath.  Way too much time had passed since I allowed myself to engage in a craft project. It felt really good to get my creative juices flowing again!

I found all the materials at Hobby Lobby (love that store!). Here is a shot of the items I used:

Materials I used
Materials I used

1. A basic straw wreath
2.  Off white Floral Ribbon with metallic gold polka dots
3. Felt flowers
4. Push pins
5. Styrofoam heart
6. Hot pink ribbon
7. Light pink ribbon
8. Lavender love birds
9. Bird’s nestWrappingheart

To begin my project, I took my Styrofoam heart and began to wrap it with the hot pink satin ribbon, using push pins to hold it in place.

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I made a mistake in how I was putting the pins in. Halfway through the process, I realized I could hide the pins under the ribbon by pinning the previously wrapped ribbon into place before I wrapped the next section. I was too lazy to pull all the pins out and start over. I am OK with that. If I were making this wreath for someone else I would have fixed it, but since it’s for my own front door, it will remain my secret. Except for those who read this post. You now know my little secret too.  Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone! 😉
I also found that wrapping the points on the heart was a bit tricky, but I  think I came up with something that worked. It may not be perfect, but I think it turned out cute anyway.

finishedheartThe heart wrapped in hot pink ribbon.

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The next step for me to do was wrap the straw wreath with the off white and gold ribbon. This time I used the “hide the pin” technique, which worked quite well.

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With the round wreath and the Styrofoam heart completely covered, I am now ready to add the fun whimsical Valentine embellishments on.  Also note. Sipping coffee while making wreaths adds to the fun and satisfaction of crafting. 🙂

finished
And the finished wreath! I took the bird’s nest and hot glued it to the middle bottom of the wreath and then glued in two lavender “love birds”.  I believe lavender colored birds make a bigger Valentiney (yes, I know that’s not a real word) effect than realistic looking birds, don’t you think?  I then suspended the styrofoam heart (covered in hot pink ribbon) above the love birds to demonstrate to all who pass by, of their undying love and affection for one another. 😉 To the side of the bird’s nest I attached some amazingly beautiful and soft felt flowers, that just make me feel happy when I look at them.

The last and final touch was to attach the wreath to my front door by using some light pink satin ribbon as hanger and then tying simple bow at the top. I then placed it on the wreath hook that is on my door.  And there you go! My fun, whimsical valentine wreath has made my front door well dressed and happy again.

What about you? Do you have a wreath on your front door? Do you like to “dress your door” for holidays and special occasions? Do you find that a door without something on it looks a bit naked? Would love to hear your thoughts! Have a fun and happy Valentines Day everyone! ❤

Arianna’s New Room

Today, I gave birth to my firstborn, 12 years ago. A little girl, who we named Arianna Grace.  She was 6 days late, and I self induced with Black and Blue Cohash, an herbal formula that my midwife gave me.  Not only was she late, but her labor was long, and difficult. Nothing went according to my birth plan, and I had all the drugs that the hospital could give me, despite me being dead set against any type of meds in labor. A natural birth just wasn’t meant to be that time. When she  was finally born, I was so doped up from the medication, and I wouldn’t of been able to deny it, because I have pictures to prove it…and I am not going to show them!  But I was thrilled with her. She came into the world pink and screaming, and full of life. All I wanted to do was hold her and comfort her. She was perfect, despite her little cone head that formed from the vacuum extraction. (Another intervention in labor that didn’t go according to my birth plan). The cone head was gone by the next day, by the way. 😉 When she was born, we were in the middle of many crazy transitions, that would take too long to explain here. The point is, about those transitions, I never had the opportunity to decorate her a pretty little girly nursery like I had always dreamed about.  Then, two years ago, we moved to Texas into a very nice house….with really ugly furniture.  For the first time, Arianna was going to have her own room.  In our old tiny house, she and her younger sister shared a 9×9 bedroom with a huge bunk bed. When we moved here, we separated the bunks and used the top bed as a twin size bed for Arianna’s room. About 2 weeks ago, Arianna and I were having a…um…disagreement about her room. The disagreement centered around on the importance of keeping her room clean and neat. She kept telling me over and over again, that it would be easier to clean if she had some good storage. Well! I guess she was right. (Sheepish face). Suddenly the idea came to me. Decorate her bedroom for her birthday! What a neat way to transition from “little girl” to “Big Girl” with her own fancy bedroom. And maybe, just maybe, she would be a little more motivated to keep it nice if it looked nice! So I made plans. I had her sister, Bella, go and fish information out of her of what she would like in her dream bedroom. Arianna described every detail to her, and she came back and reported it to me. Bella, also told me that Arianna had said, “But this dream room will never happen”. I made plans with my mom to take her for about five or six days. This was an exciting idea for Arianna…to go away alone from her siblings for almost a whole week. 😉 My mom picked her up on Tuesday evening and we set to work! 20140604_150930 To see any of the pictures  enlarged, just click with your mouse. 🙂 This is a before shot of her room from the door. She had arranged the furniture in this room. 😉 Her bed is against the window. Next to her bed is a bookcase that we got for $15 from a store that was closing down. I never had put the rest of the shelves in it, and it was just standing there against the wall. Right next to the door, directly to the left, is one of those small and cheap bookcases from Wal-mart. The room is messy, but that was from me pulling everything out and cleaning in prep for painting. HOWEVER, it often looked like that. 😉 The tall dresser with a drawer poking out, has moved onto Bella’s room, and I am going to refinish it for her little sister’s room in the future. 20140604_150941This is another shot of the before of her room. Sorry for the blurriness. il_570xN.604344248_eirhI posted a question on facebook, asking my friends for ideas on how to find pretty furniture for the bedroom, as I was on a budget. I got some great ideas on how to make a pretty headboard, which I might do with Bella’s room.  Several friends mentioned Craigslist, but I was scared of Craigslist due to me buying a table that was full of German roaches. No kidding! They almost infested my nice, brand new house last year, when I “got the deal” on a kitchen table. I had nightmares about the roaches for a long time after that. So the thought of buying a bed off of Craigslist was even scarier. What if it had bed bugs? I did glance around Craigslist and found this adorable bedroom set above that a lady had hand painted. It was in the exact colors that I wanted! It had been posted on Craigslist for 14 days, so I assumed someone had already bought it, but I contacted the lady anyway. She hadn’t sold it, but decided to give it to her granddaughter a few hours before I contacted her. So nope. No go. I was running out of time. In the meantime, I headed off to the Plexus Convention, and didn’t have time to shop around for furniture for her room. When I got home from convention I had a total of one week to plan her room, get the items and put it all together. Thankfully, I did buy her bedding before I went off to Convention. il_fullxfull.250781848 Monday came and I actually went and bought a bed from a friend that saw my post on Facebook. I still needed a dresser though.  So I went and looked on Craigslist for a white dresser. I wasn’t having any “luck” at all. I was getting discouraged.  I decided I needed to pray, and so I did. I prayed a really heart felt, “God you NEED to help me here! I have to get started on this tomorrow!!”, type of prayer. I went back on Craigslist, and noticed there was a section that said something to the effect that there were items similar to my search in other surrounding areas. So I clicked on those links. I found a white dresser that looked promising, and then I found a DREAM bedroom set…. all wood! None of that particle stuff! It even came with a cute all wooden bookcase shaped like a doll house! When I looked at when the listing had been posted, it had only been posted for less than an hour! AND It was a price we could afford. Less than the hand painted furniture, and more pieces…including a mattress and box spring! (OK, way too many exclamation points, but hey I am pretty excited that Craigslist worked this time! There I go again.) I emailed the lady, called my husband at work (I try not to call him at work, as he is on the phone all the time with customers at work), and sent him the link to the furniture. I begged him to go look at the furniture to make sure there were not any roaches or bedbugs infested in the furniture. So the next day, he drove an hour away from home, so he could look and make sure the furniture was usable and buy it.. He also picked up the other white dresser that I had found on Craigslist.  He is awesome, as he took work off to be able to do this. He had already taken 3 days of work off the week before, so I could go to the Plexus Convention. We chose a Paris/Vintage Barbie Theme to decorate Arianna’s room in.  The Eiffel  Tower painting above, is the inspiration we used to build the room around. And of course some cute ideas I found on Pinterest. Of course. 😉 Bella took to reproducing the painting. I chose this painting, because Arianna’s favorite style of art is impressionist painting. And a fun fact is, she noticed right away that the painting was done in an impressionist style.20140604_125907 So without further ado, here are the after pictures!! 🙂 20140608_185537This is the same view of her before picture… with me standing in the doorway. As you can see, Bella’s painting is hung right above her bed front and center.  I am SO tickled with how this room turned out! The kids and I had a BLAST with working on this room. It was tons of hard labor, but I enjoyed it immensely! 20140608_185557Again, this is standing from the same position that I stood in when I took the blurry before picture. I chose Sherwin Williams Verbena Pink for the color on the walls,but had Lowe’s color match it. Valspar paint is half the cost of Sherwin Williams…but I love Sherwin Williams colors. The color may not be “truly true” but I really liked how it came out, so that’s what’s important. 🙂 20140608_185621This point of view is taken with me standing in the door way,  but looking at the wall directly in front of me. This is the first white dresser that I found on Craigslist. I decided to repaint it, as the color didn’t really match the bed, and the original paint job, had much left to be desired. It also smelled a little cigarette smokey, so I painted the inside of the drawers to help mask the smell. I followed directions on how to paint it from this decorating blog. I turned the paint into what is called “chalk” paint by mixing a ratio of Plaster of Paris and water with the paint. On the dresser is a decorative dress form with a fancy pink dress that I found on clearance at Hobby Lobby. I also found the perfume bottle and dish at Hobby Lobby on sale. Hobby Lobby also provided the picture frames, Treble Clef, and the box on the floor next to the dresser, holding the stuffed animals. Everything on sale.  The pictures in the frames, I printed from online. They are Vintage Barbies in black and pink fashions. Arianna told me that she has always been eyeing the pink dress form from Hobby Lobby, but knew we could never afford it. She was right, it was pricey, but I got it for less than $12!20140608_185701Turn directly to the left, and there is a shiny black bedside table…again, on a deep discount sale from Hobby Lobby. I used my 40% off coupon to buy the lamp from Hobby Lobby. The Mirror was also on Clearance. Love Hobby Lobby!!! Another “God story” about the Mirror. It was the exact mirror I had pictured in my mind. Even the details of it are some of the same detailing on the bed. It was the only one there like that, and it was only $27. Regularly it was $70!! I made the monogram picture with scrap booking paper, and a fancy picture frame that was on sale. 😉 20140608_185708This is the old bookcase that we got for only $15. I repainted it in the same color as the Dresser. I then glued fabric to the background. I LOVED how it turned out! 20140608_185717Directly next to the bookcase is the “new” doll house bookcase that came with the bedroom furniture. I repainted it in the colors of the room. Before it was cream and Blue. I gave a fresh coat of “chalk paint” in the colors  dark charcoal grey and the same white I used to paint the dresser and other book case.  The “art” hanging above it, is fabric I found in the colors of her room, that I inserted into embroidery hoops, and hung in a fun pattern. 20140608_185521Turn directly to the left from the bookcases and in front of the bed is her closet, and the tall dresser that came with her bed. Hanging above her closet door is a wooden bicycle with a French Poodle hanging out of the basket. Another score from Hobby Lobby! 😉 Hanging above her tall dresser is a little multimedia piece of art that I made myself. It’s a vintage Barbie head.  Next to the dresser, are hooks that I found in the shape of a music note, and treble clef. I hung her ballet shoes and black leotard on them. But if she would like, she can take them off, and hang whatever she likes on them. Though she did tell me she likes what I did there. 🙂20140608_185630One more look at this angle. I made this simple window valance out of some fabulous textured fabric that almost looks like angle wings.  I found it at JoAnn’s This room was SO fun to put together for her. I just kept thinking over and over in my mind at how happy she was going to be. That thought also turned my thoughts to the Lord, because in His Word it says he is in Heaven preparing a place for me. If I was this excited about preparing a room for Arianna with all her likes in it, imagine how excited the Lord is at preparing me a place in Heaven? If I am this careful about planning and giving her things that she would like in her room, what is he planning for me that I like?  ♥ I tried really hard to upload the video of her reaction onto WordPress, but was having a tough time.  It kept turning my video sideways. So I  uploaded onto facebook, and you can watch her reaction HERE:  Her reaction says it all! 🙂

Why I Choose Classical Conversations

HSLDA CC logo-02In my introductory post for this blog, I mentioned that I am part of a Homeschooling community called Classical Conversations. I have been apart of a Classical Conversations community for about 4 years, and have had the experience of  being on 3 different campuses. Over the years of being with CC, I have been approached by many of my friends who wanted to know a little more about it. Today I would like to explain my personal “why”  I chose to be apart of a Classical Conversations campus.

I will admit that our journey into Classical Conversations wasn’t driven by my desire to give my kids a rigorous, highly academic, Classical education. In fact, the term “Classical” scared me a bit. I had visions of my kids wearing monk robes, while they boringly recited Latin eight hours a day.  I really didn’t understand the Classical philosophy, and just assumed it had to do with Latin somehow, and reading a bunch of Plato by child genuineness, who would be doctors by the time they were 18. 189207_1948654436168_3988619_n

Being isolated from a supportive homeschooling community is what made me consider that CC might be an option for us. The thought of homeschooling through high school also intimidated me. Big time. So much so, that I began to question my capabilities to even get them through the elementary years at home.  Now mind you, my oldest was in 2nd grade when I had this panic about High school.  But I felt the panic was justified  enough to start considering my options other than homeschooling.  I vividly remembering telling the Lord that if Homeschooling was something that He wanted me to continue to do, he would need to “do something” to help me out. Otherwise I would be signing them up for public school that coming Fall. 

A week after that prayer,  a friend that wasn’t even homeschooling at the time told me about CC, but was considering it for her kindergartener.  Her excitement and enthusiasm for the possibilities that CC offered to her was infectious. So, I went to an information meeting with her and listened with an open mind. There I learned about the 3 stages of learning (I can explain that in another post) and I realized that the Classical Philosophy had some credibility for me personally and might be worth a try. What appealed to me the most though, was the promise of support through high school with their Challenge program.

At the time, we were living in FL when we signed up for CC.  We  were living about an hour north of Orlando, where there was only a few homeschooling options in our area. We had a yahoo email loop for the homeschoolers, and a homeschooling Co-op. There was also a park day for the homeschoolers who used the email loop. However, most of the moms had kids much older than I did, so I felt as though I didn’t quite fit in. I was a very young mom, who was terribly distracted with chasing 3 very young children. The “normal” age moms chatted blissfully (in my mind), without interruption while their pre-teens left them alone, and played sports.  I felt that this type of set up really didn’t give me much time to get to know these moms very well. Also, the Co-op was out of budget for us. At the time I checked into it, it was set up in way where my children had to take a certain amount of classes. We couldn’t just one or two. We would also have to pay for those classes individually, for each child as well, so the tuition added up to more than we were able to afford. Classical Conversations was actually a much more affordable option for us.

That Fall, after attending the information meeting in the Summer, we started our “CC Journey”.  When we began attending, I still wasn’t totally sold on the idea of a Classical Education philosophy. It wasn’t that I thought it was a bad one. I just felt that it was for some people, and not for some people. I felt that I was in the “not for some people” category. Remember, I had in my head that Classical meant “really hard” and “very rigorous” and “highly structured”. Almost like a “mini university” for child prodigies.  My kids, I knew, were not little Einsteins. I believed that  the Classical model of education was great for kid geniuses, but for the regular every day kids, it probably would be too overwhelming and stressful.  However, I was determined to keep an open and objective mind about the whole experience, and just absorb it for what it was and “enjoy the journey” as they say.
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As I went through our first CC year, I began to be pleasantly surprised at how well my kids absorbed the information. They still were not little Einsteins, but they were more capable than I gave them credit for. I found that while it was “challenging”,  it really was not “really hard” as I had thought it would be. My kids enjoyed trying to memorize the information….which flabbergasted me!  In fact, it was becoming a pleasurable experience as our little community began to bond and learn together as we discussed great and beautiful ideas. Perfection wasn’t expected…only a desire to learn…and CC was giving me a desire to learn *and* home school my children. Before CC, I home schooled my children because I thought it was the best thing for them. But homeschooling them was a chore for me.  Somehow joining that Classical Conversations community and learning along side other parents and their children fueled a desire in me to learn the same things that my kids were learning. I found that when they were sleeping I was researching Charlemagne and Eleanor of Aquitaine for the fun of it! 😉

Click here to watch Caleb, 5 at the time, give a presentation about Paul Revere

I also found that I could make CC as “highly structured” as I wanted, or I could be as “free-spirited” about it as I wanted in the elementary years. The Foundations Guide was the perfect “spine” to guide me along in learning the information. I could make it as simple as I would like just by sticking to the memory work only, or I could add onto it with other books and curriculum that pertained to the memory facts in the guide.

And the main reason I joined? The community and fellowship of other fellow homeschooling moms, proved to be the main reason I have stuck with CC over all these years. My kids entered in the Foundations level, and all my mommy friends have kids in the Foundations level as well. This meant I had friends that were experiencing the same stages of motherhood as I, and the same challenges with homeschooling. I didn’t feel so alone and isolated anymore. One of the unexpected blessings I found was that we were all using the same basic curriculum, so we all have been the experiencing  similar challenges and triumphs.  We all encouraged, discussed our various options and prayed for one another as we walked through the year together.  I made some true life long friends in our CC community.

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After 2 years in that community, we moved to Texas, and the first thing I did was check out CC in the area we live and join up as soon as I could.  Finding a community here in Texas really helped the transition of moving go more smoothly for our family. While our community in Texas was different, the similar format and expected schedule of the day was comforting to my kids.  We terribly miss our Florida community, but  my kids were able to establish friends rather quickly. I have also made some new life long friends as well.

Is CC perfect? No it isn’t. There is no perfect curriculum or homeschooling program out there. But I have found CC to be easily adaptable to my own subjective educational philosophy. 😉 Am I “hard-core Classical”?  I guess that would depend on the definition of Classical you ascribe to. I have found with my research in the Classical Model of education, that there are many opinions and even disagreements as to what Classical even means. To some it’s almost akin to self-education/unschooling. To others, it is highly structured and does closely follow a University Model. In my opinion Classical is a very subjective term and can have many variations of how it’s practically applied to the life of the student. What is common among the differing definitions of Classical, is the use of ideas and methods that have withstood the test of time, Classic books and texts, stimulating deep conversations, and mentors/tutors who love to inspire in their students a desire to learn.
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Welcome!

Hello Friends and family! Many of you already know that my name is Heather. For those of you who didn’t know that, now you do! 🙂

I had plans to start another blog as a New Year goal. After stressing and agonizing for several months to figure out a good name, and trying to think of an appropriate “theme” for my new blog, nothing was coming. Finally, I figured out that I am just too much of a random person to blog with a specific theme. I take interest and pleasure in too many things, and I like to blab about what I find interesting. There have been 2 other blogs in my  past that had specific themes, and I quickly got bored with sticking to a particular theme. We’ll see how long this one lasts. 😉

 

Calluna vulgaris

Why did I name my blog “Calluna Ecclesia”? My  website’s title reflects a little bit of who I am. Here’s How:

1.  The title is my name in Latin. Heather Church.

2. The Latin represents me as a mom who is homeschooling her children in a Classically eclectic way. 😉 Part of a traditional Classical education includes the study of Latin. The Latin also represents me a life-long learner who likes to “learn something new everyday”. However in real life, my Latin knowledge is very limited. This year it will be stretched considerably, as I have enrolled my daughter in “Challenge A” which is a program with Classical Conversations. There is a heavy emphasis in Latin with the Challenge Programs. With me being a homeschooling mom,  that also means I am a mom! 🙂   I am a mom to some terrific kids. They prove to me over and over again, how tremendously blessed I am that God gave them to me.  They will inspire a lot of my writing on this blog.

3. The word Classical represents me as well. Latin is a “Classical Language” I love to read, and I love Classical literature. (Jane Austen especially) I love Classical Music. (and other kinds too) I love horses, and my favorite style of riding was Classical Dressage. I didn’t get too advanced in either music or Dressage competition, but I had experienced enough to develop a sincere appreciation for them.  I find comfort in many traditions, but I also tend to be a non-conformist when I see a tradition as empty fluff. 😉  All in all, I try not to take myself too seriously, but I do love “tried and true” things that would be labeled as Classical.

4. My last name also represents me in two ways. It represents me as a wife, since I took my husband’s last name, and I love him lots! ♥  We will be married going on 13 years come this June. I  am also blessed to have married a man with a last name that reflects who I am personally. Jesus has made me part of his bride, which means I am part of His Church. I am part of His church because he died on the cross and paid the penalty for my sins. I was a sinner, and I needed Jesus to save me. I tried on my own to make up for my sin, by trying to be a good person and trying to live a “Christian” life. But it just wasn’t working. I failed miserably at the Christian life thing, even though I sincerely tried. Most people would look at my life and think I was a good Christian. But I learned through experience, that there was no hope of me being truly good, because my heart would betray me.  Thankfully Jesus sent someone along my life’s path who told me what Grace really was. They told me that  Jesus has already paid off ALL of my sin debt for me!   Jesus knew that I couldn’t be a good person/Christian, so he took all my sin on himself, and died and paid my sin debt over 2,000 years ago. All that was left for me to do was believe that He did this for me and be satisfied that his payment for my sins on the cross was all that is required to be saved. That was such good news and a relief to me! I was so so tired of trying so so hard, and failing.  And because I trusted in Jesus only, Jesus plucked me out of the world, and put me into His Church.

5. The Latin also represents History. Latin is no longer a “spoken language”…it’s very much a part of history. I love History and find it so thrilling…especially when I start connecting the dots.  Last year, I took one of those strength test quiz things, (a legitimate one) and found out that I have a strength of “context”. That means I need to know the history behind things, and the “why”  things are the way they are.

6. The Latin also represents (to me at least) herbs and natural health. Most people know that medical science relies heavily on Latin. The Latin word for my first name is Calluna. Calluna Vulgarius is the Latin name for the plant ” Common Heather”. Common Heather is also a herb that carries some medicinal properties.  Since I have been a teenager I have been interested in natural and alternative health and enjoy playing around with herbs, natural home remedies, essential oils, homeopathic remedies, and discovering healthier ways of eating. By all means I am not an expert, but I have found many benefits of taking this approach to my health.

7. That’s all I can think of right now.  Again, this list is just a few of the things that represent me. The things I listed (Homeschooling, parenting, History, Music, Health, Marriage, and Faith) are some of the things you can expect me to write about. And you can probably count on me writing about things other than the topics I just listed.  Thanks for visiting and I hope I can count on you being a regular visitor. 🙂