Friday, September 28, 2012

Practice 2:

This is another practice cake. The roses are actually my attempt at what we are going to learn in the 4th class. This cake is not perfect but overall I was quite pleased with the outcome.

Practice 1:

This is a practice cake I made, sort of a mess, just a wide variety of piping techniques I learned, all crammed into one cake. The blue flower is one I made in class 3 on parchment paper. It was perfect & then I dropped it right before placing it on the cake, which smashed it a bit.

Class 3

The cupcakes we decorated. I forgot to take a pic of the flowers we also made, on parchment paper.

Class 1

The cookies we piped decorations on:

Let them eat cake!!

While creativity is usually not my strong point, I do have artistic ability & love it when I can channel it.

I am pretty decent at drawing.  Although I am good at drawing something that I can see, coming up with something out of my head to draw seems to require too much creativity for me.  I have no doubt that if I spent time working on this I'd be REALLY good at it.

I am pretty decent at singing & playing guitar.  I spend as much time as I can doing this.  That's usually an hour or so each week at this stage of my life. 

I have a strong desire to learn how to paint, specifically landscapes & seascapes.  Maybe someday I'll have the time & resources to actually pursue this.

I am also very passionate about cooking & especially baking.  For a long time now I have been VERY passionate about cake decorating.  And it's become even more of a passion now that I'm a mom.  I want to make great cakes for my son.  And I have to admit that I am far more creative when it comes to cake decorating than most other avenues in life.  And while I can see what I want in my mind so far I have not been successful at carrying it out in the cake decorating process. 

For Mother's Day this year my hubby gifted me a Wilton cake decorating class at Michael's.  I had originally signed up to do it in June, on 4 Saturdays.  But the first class was the day after my brother in law had unexpectedly & suddenly passed away.  So I delayed the class.  In July & August they weren't holding the class on Saturdays, which I needed, so hubby could watch Lil J while I took the class.  So now I'm finally doing it in September.  I have taken 3 of the 4 classes so far for this class.

In the first class we talked about cake baking basics & learned some basic piping techniques & carried them out on cookies.  Our homework was to bake a cake & make frosting & bring them separately to class to decorate in the second class. 

In the second class we frosted & decorated our cake.  We learned how to level & torte a cake as well.  We also learned an interesting technique where we take a picture of something & transfer it to the cake & fill it in using various piping methods.  It was pretty cool to learn because you can esentially put ANYTHING you want on a cake provided you can draw it or find a pic of it that is the size you want it to be.  To me that's a pretty valuable tool.  Somehow I didn't take a photo of this cake.  I was disappointed that my frosting wasn't as smooth as I would like on the cake, but the time constraints of the class made it hard for me.  This is something I've always struggled with & am hoping to improve by taking the class.  Our homework this time was to bake cupcakes & make frosting.

In the third class we learned to make some basic flowers & other piping techniques.  We decorated our cupcakes & made flowers on parchment paper.  When I signed up for the class I honestly had NO interest at all in learning about making flowers.  I really just wanted to learn some basics, mostly how to frost a cake WELL.  But I have to admit that I LOVED making the flowers.  I am now seriously wanting to take the 2nd class (there are 4 classes total, but the 3rd & 4th classes are about fondant, to my knowledge.  While I love the "look" of fondant I just don't like eating it.  And I know there's tons of gadgets involved, which make it a pricey hobby.  So I'd really rather just not take those classes.).

[On a side note: In this first class we do everything out of buttercream frosting.  In the second class, to my knowledge, we learn to make royal icing, which allows for more flower creations.  And, like I already said, the 3rd class is all about fondant & I "think" the 4th class combines buttercream, royal icing & fondant to pull it all together.] 

On the day of the 4th class (tomorrow) my niece is getting married & my son is the ring bearer.  So I am taking this class on October 27th, the 4th class of the next time she is teaching the class.  So I am working hard, taking advantage of my extra time, trying to get in a lot of practice.  My teacher says that you can take these classes & learn, but unless you spend a lot of time practicing you will never get really good at it.  So I want to practice as much as I can.  The homework for the next class is to take a cake & dried drop flowers (on parchment) & frosting & put it all together, plus more flowers (roses) we make in class learning new techniques that day.  I must admit that I have already tried my hand at the roses in the final class.  I think I did pretty decent, considering I did it on my own.  The book doesn't tell you everything, the teacher fills in a lot of info at the class itself.  I think they do this on purpose to keep people from just buying the book & learning on their own.  Also, when you buy the kit for the class it doesn't have the book in it.  The teacher gives you the book on the first day of class.  I think this is also to prevent people from just buying the kit & not taking the actual class.  But you can get the books on amazon & I'm sure other places as well.  Although, like I said before, you still won't have ALL the info you need, you still need the instructor for all the info to learn how to do it all. 

I'm trying to insert photos here of my work so far (with the exception of the first cake I did in class that I can't believe I didn't take a pic of).  It's not working yet, but I will keep trying........

Ok, I'm just gonna do the photos in separate blog posts, I can make it work that way.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Book Recommendation

At my church they feature a "book of the month" each month.  They offer the book for sale at the cost the church paid for them.  The church makes no profit on the sales of these books.  They are always sold for less than in a bookstore.  These are books that my pastor has read & wants to offer.  He often says he is trying to help us build up good libraries in our homes.

This month the "book of the month" is this one here.  I got it yesterday at church & read it today in less than an hour.  It's a REALLY short read, but a really good read.  I wish I could command everyone on the planet to read this book.  And I know A LOT of people say they don't like to read, or they don't have time to read, but this book is SO SHORT that that's simply not a good enough excuse & it's so good that it's totally worth investing the little time it takes to read it.

I cannot recommend it strongly enough.  I do hope you will read it.  If you do, please leave a comment sharing your thoughts.  :)

A rant on parenting & women in general.......

I know some men are hard on people, too.  But what I see most often in life is women, attacking each other & it manifests itself in a variety of ways.  But I just have to wonder WHY so many feel the need to be this way?  We don't walk in each other's shoes, we don't live each other's lives, so how can anyone be so harsh, so critical, so judgmental?  Why can't we all just accept that we really don't know it all & just love on one another & be more accepting?  Isn't that what Jesus would do?  Even though He actually does know it all!

I've seen it as a nurse for many many years now (which is a field that has females as the vast majority) & now as a mother I see plenty of it. 

I have recently had an incident in which another mother has decided that I have no control over my child.  And she believes that if I were to hand my child over to her that she could fix all my problems for me in that regard.

I just have to laugh to myself, quite honestly.  She is hardly ever around me or my child.  She apparently feels that me allowing my extremely active child (who takes after his father in this regard) to burn off his energy is displaying a lack of control over my child.  I have to just remind myself how ignorant she is proving herself to be & not allow myself to be offended by her ignorance.  Of course it's an effort to not be offended, especially when I take my job as a mother extremely seriously. 

What about the fact that if I don't encourage my child to burn off his energy that he doesn't sleep well & keeps me & hubby up at night?  Maybe lack of sleep is not a big deal to some, but it is to me & my hubby & it's also not healthy for my son to not be getting a good night's sleep on a regular basis.  What about the fact that there's FAR MORE to parenting than simply controlling behavior?  (A real pet peeve of mine: people who focus on controlling behavior rather than actually getting to the heart of the matter & focusing on what's really important.  And also the fact that focusing on controlling behavior is often done simply out of selfishness, not for the good of the child)  

Just a little rant & food for thought...........let's all show some love & compassion rather than think we are know-it-alls.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Decisions, decisions

Side Note: There's a lot going on in my life these days.  I have pulled out of Facebook for now, not sure if/when I'll be back.  I feel the need to draw closer to God & to my own family, without so many added distractions of other's & their families, during this time.  If you could please keep my family in your prayers it would be very much appreciated.  I was going to close my FB account completely, but that will also shut down a page I run, since I am the only administrator of the page.  So for now I'm just leaving my inactive account there to allow people access to that page.

On with my blog post:

I have been planning to homeschool my son since I was pregnant.  Even before I was pregnant, before I ever even imagined I would have a child of my own, I knew that if I ever did have a child that I would want to homeschool.  A private Christian school would be my next choice, with public school as my very last (& sort of 'over my dead body') option. 

I was looking into homeschooling since he was a little baby.  Everyone kept telling me "you have plenty of time, don't worry".  But my nature is to plan ahead.  I do not like waiting until the last minute to make a decision on pretty much anything in life.  And so I ignored those well-meaning warnings & continued looking around.

Some time ago, a year at least (maybe two?) I learned of a curriculum by Alpha Omega called The Weaver.  And I was totally sold.  I was sure that was the main curriculum I wanted to use to homeschool my son.  I love the idea of it--that it's a unit study type curriculum & all lessons tie into the same part of Bible the child is learning.  I really related to this because in nursing school (moreso in the LVN program than the RN program) they did this sort of thing.  Where in our main nursing lecture we were learning about a specific body system & in pharmacology we were learning about drugs used for issues with that particular system & in nutrition we learned about nutrition relating to that same system, etc.  And I found that it really helped to reinforce & put everything together better when learning that way. 

But in the past month or two I have begun to feel a bit unsettled with this decision.  I am subscribed to a few homeschooling groups/forums.  Some of them specific to Weaver.  And as I see the same issues come up over & over again & the same responses to them I have to start to question.  Now I know that nothing is perfect & there are going to be issues with ANY curriculum you use.  BUT I have to consider "myself" & I know myself well enough to know that I would not do well with these particular issues.  I used to see these issues & tell myself "if others are able to work around that then I can too", but now I'm finding myself wondering WHY I should settle for that & stress myself out about it when there are so many other options out there to choose from.  When I really don't HAVE to settle for that.

Now I must say that I feel very strongly that there are no bad curriculums.  Teachers & students vary so much in both teaching & learning that I think it's a wonderful blessing to have so many options to accomodate these variables.  Although I must also admit that I feel it's hard to decide which curriculum best fits both teacher & student.  I wish there was an easier way to narrow that down.  But I think it's also a bit like potty training--where you just have to dive in & start somewhere & then see what works & what doesn't & make adjustments along the way. 

I know myself very well & am very good at knowing what does & doesn't work for me.  I have to admit to myself that based on what I've learned about Weaver I don't think it will work for me, at least not peacefully.  It will add stress to my life, that I am sure of.  And is that what homeschooling is supposed to be like?  I just don't think so, not with so many options available.

So I've spent a lot of time in prayer & researching available curriculums in the past month or so.  There are soooo many & often they don't have enough details on their website to really decide what the advantage of using that curriculum over others is.  I've looked at a lot of reviews as well, although again just because it's great for someone else doesn't mean it will be great for ME.  So far I am feeling VERY strongly led to Sonlight.  But I know I still have 2-3 years before I have to officially begin with a curriculum so that decision is certainly not set in stone.

I like the overall layout of it, I LOVE that they offer a money back guarantee & reviews comment on phenomenal customer service with any issues or questions.  I've asked several people who are using it & they all cite the Biblical side of it as being phenomenal, which is a big plus in my book.  Although I've heard others (who aren't using it) criticize the Biblical aspect of it.  But just like anything else, that curriculum doesn't need to be the ONLY Bible learning the child is doing. 

I am saddened to say that I also asked on a Weaver forum, sharing my thoughts & feelings.  I am saddened because where I feel they should have accepted that Weaver is not possibly for EVERYONE, instead they basically just attacked Sonlight.  And some of the attacking was really unfair & unjustified in my opinion.  One of the attacks was that this person would never use Sonlight just because of the type of people that are on the Sonlight forum.  Now I've been on the internet for over a decade by now & very little shocks me anymore.  There are vicious people everywhere online.  And you certainly can't judge a company or curriculum based on that, at least in my opinion.

In addition to asking on the forums/groups, I've also emailed my small handful of friends that homeschool & certainly have more experience than myself at this point.  Experience counts for a lot in my opinion.  I got tremendous support from one of them, the others haven't replied as of yet. 

And so after saying all of that I still have to say I am undecided.  I might possibly end up changing my mind again & using Weaver after all.  Or I might use Sonlight.  Or I may find something else entirely & use that. 

I know there was some discussion in the news recently about making Kindergarten mandatory.  I need to look into that & find out if it is now or not.  If it's not I will probably skip Kindergarten & just start at first grade.  Unless I use Weaver--Weaver was the only reason I was planning to do K, because the K curriculum covers Gen 1-10 & 1st grade starts at Gen 11.  I certainly don't want to skip the whole creation & early Gen, so I'm sort of forced to do K if I use Weaver.  I would much prefer to skip K, & that is actually another reason I am questioning using Weaver.