Friday, May 30, 2014

The very best place to shop for homeschool - or anything

The first place I check before I look anywhere else?

Garage sales, of course!


My first set of homeschool shelves (now much, much fuller)- found on Craigslist for $20.00 each


I always find books at yard sales. Tons of books- good books. 

I love those big dusty boxes in the corner of a garage packed with books to rummage through. I nearly always come away with at least a few. Or, like today, a bag full. Usually a quarter each or less.

These are books I want my kids to read. It seems nearly everybody with kids has collected at least a few classics along the way. Sure, there is some twaddle thrown in- I allow the kids to pick out whatever they want. For a quarter, I don't mind buying it.

It is surprising how often I will come across a curriculum-type book as well. Today I got a great workbook of sight words I will use with the younger ones. Again, a quarter.

Other homeschool items I look for:

Always, always, craft supplies. People love to get rid of reams of paper, craft kits, scrapbooking supplied they thought they would use and didn't. Stuff is very frequently still unopened.

Pens, pencils, notebooks. Today we found a really cool magnifying glass. 

Educational games. People must get tons of this stuff from well-meaning relatives, and never open it.

Outdoor sports equipment (today I found two nearly new kid-size tennis rackets, $2.00 each)

Storage, shelves, chairs, desks. I also try Craigslist.

Bookshelves and white boards (today I found this bulletin board for my ooo-la-la girl, and brand-new games:)


Books such as A Dummies Guide To, reference books, sets of early readers, anything that could be educational like maps, wildlife guides, art books.

We have been searching for bedding for one of the girls, today we found a like-new PB quilt and shams for $10. She loves it. 

Things to avoid:
-driving too far (I have wasted gas and time on sales that turned out to not be worth it
-buying if I don't need it. I was soooo tempted today by a set of Pottery Barn dishes for $25.00- that I don't need
-anything overpriced. Even if it's less than in the store, if it isn't dirt cheap I avoid it
-having the kids with me means that I only choose the most promising sales. Today we hit three- for now, that is our max.

Things to look for:
-go the first day of sale, always
-neighborhood sales are great so you only have to park once, and can keep one child in a stroller
-upscale family neighborhoods, so long as the merchandise is priced right

I generally wait to purchase any extra curriculum until later in the summer, after I have tried some sales first. 

Yes, garage sale shopping is unpredictable, but that is the fun of the hunt- don't you think?


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Curriculum Review, grades one and two

I think it was my friend Ashley who first mentioned The Well Trained Mind to Jim and I. I must have heard the title before because I remember being vaguely familiar with it. One winter Saturday when the kids were little we were all in Barnes and Noble for a story hour. I don't remember if it was Jim or I who picked the book off the shelf, but Jim decided to buy it.


I look back on this as one of those moments which altered the course of our education decisions. It was startling, for one, because Jim doesn't randomly pick up homeschool books and decide to read them, and two because it is even more rare that he would spontaneously pay $35.00 for a book. A homeschool book.

This was the beginning of our homeschool journey. Jim took it home and read it and the Classical method clicked with him. I read it next and was instantly on board. And, I was excited to see him excited about home education- a topic we had been tossing around but hadn't yet made a decision about.

The next year we began homeschooling our first-grader following Susan Wise Bauer's curriculum suggestions as outlined in the book. For our second year of homeschool (this year we are finishing up), we joined a Classical Conversations homeschool co-op; unrelated to WTM, but using a Classical approach, as well as The WTM.

Anyone considering homeschooling or wanting to learn more about Classical Education, this is a great place to start. I keep The Well-Trained Mind nearby and review it again every few months.




A brief review of the curriculum we have used the past two years:


Story of the World- Volume 1 and 2

This is, hands down, Sam's favorite part of the school day. We purchased the textbook, activity book, and audio. The first year I felt like relying too much on the audio was cheating (why??), but by the second year I learned that my introvert-self is very glad for audio!! Sam can listen to it during her quiet time or if I am needed somewhere else. 

The Activity Books are great, and I would definitely recommend them as a supplement, especially if you have a hands-on learner, or enjoy doing projects. There are lists of books to go along with each chapter. I would try to look ahead and request these from the library several weeks in advance. When I didn't, or the books didn't come in on time, we supplemented with The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (recommend!)  The Activity books also have review questions for narration, maps, coloring pages (great for the kids to color as they are listening to the story), along with dozens of arts and crafts, games, and other ideas. I especially like the map work.

However, it isn't necessary. This year I purchased only the audio for volumes 3 and 4, we'll see if we miss having the books. Highly recommend this!


First Language Lessons- Level 1 and 2

First Language Lessons is a straightforward grammar curriculum using copywork and narration, and a few picture studies and poem memorizations. Lessons are simple and based on repetition. Sam sped through these. 


Writing With Ease- Level 1 and 2

Copywork using selections from classic children's literature.

What I liked: fun read-aloud stories and a great way to teach writing, similar to Charlotte-Mason
What I didn't like: Sam would become interested in the story but it was sad to only read a small portion. This year I am going to do copywork using the books we read aloud.



I love this handwriting series!


This is the core of what I have used for Sam in first and second grade.  We used Saxon math in first grade and Teaching Textbooks for second, and have been happy with both.

I will post later what I plan to use this year, with a preschool, first and third grader.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

simple food for an easy stay-cation

Jim isn't taking any vacation days this year, and so we are being very intentional with the holiday weekends being stay-cations. Because we rent, there wasn't any yard work or house projects or anything to do but play with the kids, go on bike rides, read books, and grill out. We were very much in vacation mode this weekend.


The problem with stay-cations and meals is that because we are in vacation mode, we are thinking about good food. But if I don't plan well, our well-intentioned holiday weekends can wind up with my being in the kitchen all weekend. What a holiday weekend needs is good food that doesn't require a lot of prep work. 

It begins Thursday with a trip to the grocery store, come home, wash and cut up all the produce. Somehow, this process takes an entire evening, and still it will all be gone by Sunday.

Washing and cutting up produce and preparing the cold salads are time-intensive, but worth the prep work to make the rest of the weekend easy.  

Here was our menu for the weekend:

Mediterranean potato salad- served over greens with goat cheese as a meal one night, another day as a side to burgers on the grill.

Orzo salad- this is my favorite pasta salad, and you can prepare it with any vegetables and vinaigrette. I used spinach, cucumber, tomato, black olives, and this vinaigrette.

This Veggie Frittata recipe from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle is one of my favorites because it uses any combination of vegetables you have on hand.

It's always nice to have fresh salsa (I bought mine) or humus (my favorite recipe) on hand for dipping.

Sangria: Jim throws fruit into a pitcher of wine to marinate all weekend for our own sangria- so good!


Chicken fajitas: marinate chicken in lime juice, olive oil, cumin and garlic. Grill with peppers and onions. These can be served on tortillas, and leftovers over the orzo salad.

Usually in the mornings we will make a run for good coffee (we are on vacation after all), and I will pick up a fresh baguette. Make lazy Sunday evening sandwiches with cream cheese, tomato, spinach, salt and pepper. Or a thousand other combinations. I really need to buy two baguette. Or five.

By the end of the weekend I will pull any leftovers out of the refrigerator along with more cut-up veggies, seeds, and cheese, and have a big salad bar.

Ideally I will bake something. This weekend I was dying to make Shauna Neiquist's berry crisp, but being outside seemed like a better idea. Instead we indulged in ice cream and popsicles, and a giant bowl of cut-up fruit.

Plenty of sunshine, good food, and nearly no time spent in the kitchen.


Sunday, May 25, 2014

The thing is to be attentively present





Hurry is beside the point, useless, an obstruction. The thing is to be attentively present. To sit and wait is as important as to move. Patience is as valuable as industry. What is to be known is always there. When it reveals itself to you, or when you come upon it, it is by chance. The only condition is your being there and being watchful.

Wendell Berry, “The Long-Legged House” 


Friday, May 23, 2014

How self-awareness can help us love and respect others

Today Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy posted Self-Awareness makes everything better. I love this post and her series on Susan Wise Bauer's talk, "Parenting the Good Kids and the Odd Ones Out." This is so helpful to me as we have both a good kid and an odd kid out, and are sometimes left scratching our heads knowing how to lead them. (I missed this session at the Cincinnati Homeschool Convention and am so glad Anne is doing a re-cap!)



I am a strong INFP on the myers-briggs, and I am just learning about the Enneagram- almost positive I'm a nine.

I agree with Susan Wise Bauer to do every personality test you can, and celebrate the results. Knowing yourself can be so affirming and liberating from expectations which you were never meant to carry.

And, celebrating who we are allows us to celebrate who others are as well. When we free ourselves to be who we are, celebrate our own uniqueness, we naturally can celebrate the uniqueness in others.

For example, I wrote a few days ago about having your dream home by decluttering and simplifying your house. And for me, that works. I can think clearer when my house isn't cluttered.

BUT, there have been times when I've wished I could be more like the people whose homes and lives and personalities are so full and running over. You know the type- they are able to let the dishes pile because people and life are more important, and their homes feel so full of life and energy. I respect that so much!

I am not a detail person and dislike routine. I need to really discipline myself in these areas when it comes to homeschool, which is why I respect people who are good at these things.

Any perceived weakness is the flip side of a strength.

It is when we try to impress or conform to another person that the impostor takes control, and we can feel like we are floundering. The false self produces jealousy, insecurity, and comparisons.

Perhaps the only real personality weakness is not being true to who we really are- which is why it is so important to be self-aware.




Thursday, May 22, 2014

Our Plans for Summer Learning


I am testing with Sam this week, kindergarten is winding down for Annie and I can't believe it- summer is almost here. We are looking at the calendar and penciling in plans, and I am thinking about what learning will look like over the summer. I've decided I will focus only on three main things:

1. Read aloud
2. Scripture Memory
3. Skip counting

I am adding books to our read aloud pile with relish. This is our top priority, hopefully every morning and again in the evening, as much time as possible. I will share our summer reading list later.

We have taken different approaches to Scripture Memory. This spring I used a Tasha Tudor illustrated book to memorize Psalm 23.  This summer we will listen to Sing the Word From A to Z cd and learn The Lord's Prayer. Here is a good verse list for children.

The math portion of Classical Conversations is learning to skip count up to fifteen. I purchased the skip counting cd that goes along with Math-U-See.

We will do some handwriting (we use Handwriting Without Tears) and cursive practice, and will finish the second Story of the World on audio.

There will be daily silent reading, kids and me.

The most important part of learning in the summer is for minds to be free to explore- everyone, kids and me. Books, poetry, nature, curiosity, art- sounds like a good summer to me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Buying a house, buying a life

My mind and our discussions are running along the path of home buying. Since moving to Cleveland three years ago we have been renting a house- which we love. It is much bigger than we need, and because we don't pay taxes or maintenance we feel we are getting a good deal. Last week someone came to fix our front step and someone came to repair the roof and we haven't done yard work in three years ... renting is seriously underrated.


But then equity and interest rates and we wonder are we being a good steward of our finances living here?

And so we look at houses, but with each house we find ourselves reevaluating our values and priorities and asking what is our mission, really?

Because it isn't just a house, it is a life.


Whether we intend it or not, a house consumes a lot of life.

It is a long-term decision. We don't plan to move to another city anytime soon, but when we think about giving up that freedom, we hesitate.

Some houses would cost less money, but cost more time in maintenance and remodel.

The small house we love is a great decision financially, but it would make hospitality more difficult- something that I believe in and love to do- a less tangible but just as real expense.

Living in the country and owning land has its charms, but so does the city.

Do we want to spend our weekends taking care of a house? Would we rather own a smaller and more affordable home with low maintenance and use the time and money for other things?

Where is our community- the place God is calling us to live and love our neighbor? I once believed that was a firm calling- now I think maybe can be many places; wherever you are.

our current old ugly kitchen which I love

I don't believe that owning a home is the only choice or always the best choice anymore. I do believe that the kind of home you live in should reflect your own values and goals and priorities.

For now, if I were dreaming, this is the list of what I am looking for in a house:

At least one good tree in the yard
A view of the sky from the kitchen window, preferably west
A space of some sort for homeschool
Good neighbors. Great neighbors would be even better. (By the way the house next to ours is opening up- any friends want to move to Cleveland?)

What would be on your home-buying list?

UPDATED: read this!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

we are still


Old, dear friends came to visit this weekend. We cut-up fruit and went to the zoo and were in by seven every evening, just life with kids, but life with friends and lots of kids which is glorious. I knew Tana in Haiti, and now our families are friends too and there is so much I love about this.

There are many things I could write here- like how difficult it can be to maintain friendships after children, but how important they are, and something about how to make new friends and keep the old when you only have about six and a half unscheduled minutes per week as it is, and even though we say relationships are the most important thing, there are all of these other urgent things which tend to claim our attention because they are right there in front of us.

But this is the main thing: there is something about the friends you had before children. Before marriage. The friends who knew you when you were idealistic and spontaneous and could stay up all night, when you believed in living passionately and questioning everything and being a part of something world changing.

There is something about the friends who knew you when you were maybe the you-est you ever were. 

This is why I love these friends, the friends I first knew more than a decade ago and haven't seen enough since- because when we are together I realize we haven't stopped. That person we were then- we are still.


So there are limitations now. So now we live in the suburbs with a minivan and an expired passport. We haven't changed the world- we've found we can barely change ourselves. So all of us have failed to match our dream of perfection. (Faulkner

We still are dreaming. We still want to live a meaningful life. We still question and hope and believe, maybe a bit more judiciously but no less earnestly. We'd still like to go somewhere, anywhere, whatever; we still believe in radical discipleship. And we are making peace with the call to the holy ordinary too.


The heart is the same, only stretched. The conversations are the same but gentler, and left open-ended. There is less adventure but more attention. Less launch and more patience having her perfect work. We carry more luggage now than we ever did, but we've learned to let go of more. Experience has sobered us but life has softened us; laughter has worn lines by now.

Friday, May 16, 2014

find the pockets



It is a dark quiet morning, time to write and I am thankful for this pocket of time.

I'm learning to find the pockets. All we have are pockets- the important things, anyway. That you can't wait for a whole suitcase of time or purpose or happiness or whatever it is- and even if you had it, would you really want to lug all that around? Sometimes we are so busy waiting for the big luggage to finally arrive- all of the meaning or success or time we think we need- that we don't find the small important things tucked into the pockets, with us all along.

When listening to a sermon or reading, I've learned to listen for one thing to hold onto; just one statement or two to keep and tuck into a pocket. I find God speaks through many things this way- just a word or image to take and think on.

I am turning this blog into pocket. I've wondered lately what to do with it, it had become awkward and heavy and I thought about shutting it down. I don't have a lot of time to devote to it. I think I was trying to make it hold more than what it is for. This blog isn't a book, or a memoir really, or a good source of information. I don't have a niche so much, more than Life and Wild and Precious- this is my niche, what I want to write about here.

Life happens in pockets, in moments and glimpses. And wild and precious is nothing more than a bit, a pause, a feather, a glance.

This is what I want to spread out here- the small things, the treasures I find and carry in my pockets.

I needed to remember what this blog is for.

There are a lot of things I think about sharing here, but I am changing to a smaller format- only the pockets.

(I created a Jessica Stock, Writer facebook page where I will be sharing blog updates. I'd love if you would join me).


Thursday, May 15, 2014

a good checklist


I've carried this quote around since I was a teenager. It is a checklist I run through my mind often, probably on a daily basis. I find that being resolved in these matters brings clarity to most everything else.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

tell me everything

I am a story lover. It is the reason I read books and blogs and listen to the news. The world is made up of stories and I love to learn about them.

I love to hear people tell their stories. I tend to ask a lot of questions, though I didn't really realize it until one day when Jim and I were first married and he gently cautioned me that my questions make people uncomfortable. 

This took my by surprise. I think of asking questions as a way of showing a person you are interested in and care about a person. 

This is directly tied to my personality. As a Healer/Champion  I/ENFP, I am naturally curious and empathetic, interested in a deeper understanding of people. I tend to accept people without question, and am especially interested in differing experiences and points of view.

I have learned to be more aware of coming across as intrusive. Conversely, not asking questions to me feels uninterested or unfriendly.

What do you think?

(ENFP)



Similar? Follow my I/ENFP board on Pinterest

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

I wonder what it is like to be at the edge of life

I wonder what it is like to be at the edge of life
looking over and counting years
maybe ten
probably fewer
how would one fill her mind
or days
when the work is done and only the twilight of a life
to rest and wait as the sun sets

I imagine the back porch of old age would be okay
so long as there were friends to sit and watch with
to pull our chairs in a circle together
and flirt and laugh in the loveliness of the moment
  a final springtime
like college when assignments were completed
and Graduation approaching
and the way we didn't talk about it

How to have your dream home without moving

As we have been house-hunting, one home has captured my heart. It is crisp and adorable and the price is great and all of the responsible money-draining things have already been done to it. We fell in love with every room.

Here's the rub: the house is small. Quite small, and when you add in three children and homeschooling and no storage, it would be a challenge to make it work long term. But the more I think about it the more I love that little house.


So I am asking myself why am I so attracted to a house that is too impractical, and when I think about what it is I really love, it is simply because it is as clean and neat as a pin. I have no doubt that the very same house under a lot of clutter would not have been at all appealing.

We haven't made a decision and are leaning towards staying where we are, but I am acting like we're moving anyway.

Because moving gives you permission to purge.

Every time we move I get rid of anything we don't need, and then moving into a new house feels great because it is clutter-free. In three years at this house the clutter has crept back in, but I realized that I don't need to wait for a move to clean out.

I am thinking about the too-small house and trying to create the same vibe in the house we already live in. I find myself falling in love with this house all over again.

Some things I noticed about the too-small house:

-No clutter anywhere
- Although there isn't much storage, the basement and closets weren't full. 
- Clean surfaces
- A tiny kitchen, but pared down to the essentials made it feel welcoming
- Neutral grey tones and sheer white curtains
- A few carefully selected pieces stood out such as a gorgeous light fixture in the dining room, a sharp rug in a bedroom
-They also only had one child so there were about a million fewer piles of toys and coloring papers and random bits of stuff.
- The cable and internet cords and routers were on neat shelves in the basement- no cords in sight. I love this!
- No rugs at the doors. I'm sure this was for staging purposes, but I have removed several of our rugs for the summer and it makes a difference.
- No coats and shoes piled everywhere. I'm not quite sure what they do with their coats and shoes when they come in the door, this is a continual problem for us. With summer here it is much easier to keep the sandals neatly in a shoe basket.

The owners clearly are masters at staging a house. But I learned something which is that perhaps I could fall in love with any house, simply by keeping control of the clutter.

It feels good to move, without having to move.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

What I learn from my mom and hope my daughters will too


My mom was born believing life is meant to be fun.


She is an extravert. She comes alive when she's with people. She is great at bringing people together, planning parties, being a hostess, serving food. She remembers birthdays and events and loves to celebrate. She makes friends with everyone- the person packing her groceries, the girl who makes her latte. She would prefer to have people around all the time. 

She sincerely likes people and people like her back. 


She grew up in a city, and then she married a Mennonite and moved to the country and into a Mennonite community not especially known for it's parties. More for it's frugality, hard work, and self-denial. The women in my dad's family are expert seamstresses, cooks and gardeners, all work that requires staying home and being alone, the thing that goes against my mom's nature.

And yet my mom managed to always be who she is. 

 She is rarely critical. Everyone is her friend, however different. She assumes the same grace will be given to her and so she doesn't try to change who she is. 

And there may have been times when she has attempted canning tomatoes or making a quilt, but she's much better at parties.


I admire the way my mom chooses to be herself, and doesn't conform out of guilt or fitting in. The little hill in the country where they live is brighter and friendlier because she didn't stop being who she is.

This is what my mom teaches me, and what I hope my daughters will learn from her as well.

(That, and? I grew up with the most fun mom ever. I am so thankful mom for you!)

Happy Mother's Day, Mom! It's a good day to have a party!


Saturday, May 10, 2014

What I Want for Mother's Day

Sometimes the thought of Mother's Day or my birthday is a little bit stressful. Jim will ask me what do I want, or what do I want to do, and I really have no idea.

What do I really want?

Well.

I'd like Josie to wake me in the morning, early, and us to drive to Starbucks for coffee, listening to npr and Josie still wearing her pajamas and covered with a blanket in the backseat. We already did that.

I'd like some space and clarity to write this morning, and I did that too.

I know that I want a clean kitchen and all of the papers and markers cleared off the table, and to go buy groceries and put them all away.

There is a plant sale that might be nice to go to, just to look and to drive with the windows down and play music loud and wear sunglasses.

When I get back I'd like to go for a run.

After I run Jim will grill burgers, and then the we'll all walk to get ice cream.

And tonight we'll put the kids to bed and drink three dollar wine, and I'll make Jim watch The Great Gatsby because I've borrowed if from the library twice now and I've yet to watch it, but I will fall asleep halfway through, and so I will turn it off and go to bed thankful and happy and knowing I have all I could want. And more.


Friday, May 9, 2014

life in a city and life in a small town



This afternoon we made a spontaneous trip to one of the Nature Centers for our "Science lesson" ahem, and while we were there it occurred to me that we spend more time in nature in the city than I did when I lived in the country. It is ironic, but there are so many great metroparks and state parks close by, and we frequent them regularly. In contrast, when you live surrounded by corn fields you forget to take walks in the woods.

Another irony: my world is smaller in the city.

I have often felt this idea of needing to overcome my small town, like there was an assumption that being from a small town implied your life was small and narrow and in some ways, yes, we were protected from many things and there wasn't a lot of diversity.

But after three years in Cleveland, I find that my world here is pretty small too. I tend to travel along the same paths, to the grocery store, with friends, to lessons, pretty much in the same patterns. There are many many parts of Cleveland that I have never been and probably couldn't locate on a map.

In contrast, I think my community was much broader in a small town, both in length and depth. I was much more aware of community issues in a small town. My neighborhood stretched across many more miles than it does here, and of course living where your parents and grandparents lived means that I knew many more people than I know now in a city.

But more than that, I was connected to many more people.

This has been one of the surprises of life in a city, and I'm sure that my small-town naive slip is showing here, but people in the city aren't as interested or willing to connect. Of course not everybody. We have met many great people. But for example, our neighbors in one house don't speak to us. This is mind-boggling and bewildering to me. They are polite- just reserved, they would never stop to chat and I can't get used to this. (Maybe it has something to do with all of the little girl drama coming from our house, I don't know).

In the past few weeks on facebook there have been big community issues where I'm from which I observe people rallying behind- a student who had a heart transplant, a young girl with cancer, school levies, to name a few. I am reminded of the way that people in small towns pull together and help and support each other. How precious that is!

Updated: I am reminded that of course small towns are certainly not always nice or friendly, in some ways they can be even more threatening. I think my point is that people are people everywhere and everyone's life can be as small or as broad as they choose to make it, regardless of where they live.

But we love the city. I also appreciate more my small town roots, and I try to make a conscious effort to practice some of the things I learned there . . . like smiling when you pass someone on the street, making eye contact, forging connections, demonstrating concern, and talking to your neighbors.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

What I'm Into

Today: sunshine, a visit to the library, a stack of books, bare feet, lunch on the grass, life is good.

Reading:

Today was the first day of true spring where we live, the first day without jackets, the weight of the sky finally lifted and the sweet air of world new again. We sat all afternoon with the windows open and reading our books, and it was just the right kind of day to read a book by Kent Haruf.

Kent Haruf is one of my favorite authors for many reasons; the way he illuminates the ordinary details of ordinary lives with such sparse, provincial language. For the stories he chooses to tell and the ones he doesn't, the way his stories open my heart to what is good and true and lovely, and make me want to believe the best in people. I love the way his words quiet me and make me more aware of the beautiful mundane.

Benediction is much like Plainsong and Eventide, each telling the tender and aching stories of the residents of a small town on the plains, whose lives connect and disconnect and hurt and heal one another.

Listening:

This great collection of audio lectures and podcasts at Amongst Lovely Things

Spring Cleaning:

Thinking: about curriculum for next year and all of the things I want to blog about.

House-hunting. Yep. Again. It's a lot more fun than actually buying a house.

Remembering that a house is just a house, and what are the things I really need.

Enjoying: the first pitcher of iced tea of the season. My mom makes the best iced tea, here's the secret:

First fill the bottom of your pitcher with ice and pour sugar over (I use about 1/3 cup. My grandma used a cup or who knows maybe more- hers was the best iced tea ever). Let the ice melt into the sugar while the tea brews.

Pour boiling water over 6-8 tea bags in a four-cup measuring cup, let it brew a while (five minutes? ten?), then pour over the ice and sugar. Refill measuring cup with regular water 2-3 times to fill pitcher. The magic is in the melting ice and sugar, something about it makes the tea snappier. 


Ah, welcome Spring! We have waited long for you.