Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A day in our homeschool

Today is our light day. We usually do four full days and one funky light day to give us space for field trips, projects, appointments, socializing, etc. Today we're staying home and taking it easy because everyone was super sick last week.

7:30am- We all sit at the table together for breakfast and "morning time." We pray, read a devotional from Love Does for Kids, and I pull out What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know and Weather: Poems for all Seasons because I want to try adding nursery songs + poetry into our mornings. We start memorizing a new verse and we practice this week's word: hat (Spanish = sombrero, ASL = pat your head to show where a hat goes).

9am- we've finished chores and my workout but the kids feel like playing and I've got a stack of books to write reviews on so we get lazy and do whatever we want for an hour.

10:15am- the kids finish a snack and we wipe down the table to start lessons. I start by reading the lovely picture book A Home in the Woods.
He opts to skip handwriting but add in math (this is typically a no-math day but we're behind thanks to illness so I will with it), which is still the Level 1 course by The Good and the Beautiful. 

He plays for a few minutes and then he comes back dressed as a Jedi and does a page from My First Story Writing Book. B wants to do homeschool too (also usually a no preschool day) so we pull out her Scissor Skills book. She cuts out fruit cards for a memory match game. We play it, then she uses the cards to quiz 2-year-old D on her colors.

12pm- We're done with lunch and everyone is on the floor coloring or working on a puzzle while I read aloud a chapter of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. He decides to do a handwriting page after all so I set it on his bed to do during naptime/quiet time.

3pm- We read a little bit about music theory and practice on our keyboard 🎹.

5pm- he helps me make dinner and we of course talk a bit about kitchen safety and meal prep needs along with all the super hero, dinosaur, and detective talk 😉

6pm- everyone's done with dinner and we all sit down to write a thank you note to Nana.

7:30pm- Everyone is ready for bed so we all curl up together for a story from Jesus Storybook Bible and the delightful picture book Miss Rumphius. After we tuck everyone in, A curls up in his bed with a book light and reads the first Mercy Watson book.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


January was a fun, cozy month around here. I took a nice little Internet break and enjoyed focusing on the simpler things. Like...

Drinking- herbal teas galore while watching the snow fall. My current favorites are Yogi's honey turmeric chai and Good Earth's sweet & spicy tea.

Homeschooling- We're still using and loving The Good and the Beautiful for most of our curriculum and we're all still very happy with this. We're studying the revolutionary war in history and we're studying the human body with my own lesson plans. Our library put on a month of robotics/coding STEAM events so we took part in a few of those, too. We fell into a great groove in January I hope we'll keep up through February.

Writing- I was working on too many projects at once and started to feel like I was running in place with all of them. Now I'm hyperfocused on just one at a time, in a paper notebook each day at naptime, and I feel so much lighter and freer in my writing right now!

Playing- so many board games! I've always loved board games so it makes me super happy that all four of my kids love them too. In January we played Hoot Owl Hoot, Pay Day, Scrabble, Keys of History and Tree House Town for homeschool, and Guess Who? That last one... Y'all, you haven't seen cute until you've seen my two-year-old sit with a Guess Who board on her lap and ask, "Do yo characta hab a bald head?"

Listening- I listened to a couple of audio books this month but mostly I listened to Sally Clarkson podcasts. I listened to the first nine episodes of Storyformed, which I love, but then couldnt get any more to download so started At Home With Sally instead. I'm hoping to find a way to download the rest of the Storyformed episodes in February because I was really loving that podcast!

Working out- with a fun new ballet barre DVD I got at a thrift store, brand new still in the plastic but only $.50! One of my daughters loves to do ballet/yoga/Pilates DVDs with me and we're both super happy about this find.

Reading- I found the cutest graphic novel all about loving books at the library one day, Book Love by Debbie Tung. I passed it on to my son and he read it three times before returning it! We finished the read aloud Prince Warriors and he said it was the very best book he read all year.

I had the pleasure of reviewing Still* by Jenny L Donnelly and think this will make for a very helpful boom in anyone's healing journey. Donnelly is very candid and open about her personal vices and the way she overcame them by finding her peace through Jesus instead.

Claim Your Crown* is a young adult nonfiction guiding young women into better self esteem by recognizing their roles as daughters of the king. I could really have greatly benefited from a book like this as a teenager. A healthy self-esteem is so important, but often the recommendations offered in that direction have nothing to do with spirituality. I love the approach Claim Your Crown took and recommended it to any teenage girl.

*I received a free copy of Still and Claim Your Crown from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Top Ten Reads of 2019

Happy New Year! I'm looking to forward to a great 2020 in many ways, including a great reading and writing life. Before I start a fresh reading year (and recording it on one of these great reading logs from Everyday Reading), I'm once again sharing the ten books I most enjoyed from the previous year. (See my 2018 and 2017 lists too!)

All Rise for the Honorable Perry T Cook... This middle grade fiction was so well-done! I loved this great look at human nature, mistakes and second chances, family, justice, and so much more. This won't fit my TGTB stickler friends' book list criteria but I found it to be smart, thought-provoking, and exciting for my own children's lists.

The Diet Cure... This is a must-read for anyone recovering from eating disorders (the supplements were so helpful and amazing!!) but also for anyone who has ever dieted or struggled with any kind of addiction. Life-changing!

Follow Your Gut... This year I dove headfirst into all things microbiome. This was a very short read, but inspired by a TED Talk and very well-done.

Hidden Among the Stars... I adored this WWII time slip! Mystery, scandal, bookshop, books, finding confidence, hope and triumph in the face of tragedy... I still think of this one often!

Little Men... I've loved Little Women since I was a little kid but this was my first time trying Little Men. I loved it! I might even have liked it more than Little Women and I really liked Jo's grown-up character.

The Ministry of Ordinary... My Enneagram friends will probably understand my hospitality predicament when I explain that I'm an introverted self-preservation 9, and my husband is an introverted self-preservation 8. I want to want to host dinners and gatherings but when it comes down to it, I deep down just want my home to be my cozy sanctuary. You know how some people say they don't bring their work home with them? Yeah- I don't bring the world home with me. That's the world; this is home. My husband feels the exact same way so neither of us ever pushes each other because of it. This book really inspired me to try once again to seek out hospitality opportunities. I set a goal to host 12 dinners or get-togethers after reading this one- one a month. I served lunch to the contractors working on our home, made pizza for two different family friends, and had a friend over for tea + snack lunches + outside playtime... But then I lost steam. I met two other friends at coffee shops and multiple library events or park dates but that was that. I can't figure out if it's better to step outside of my comfort zone or play to my strengths... But either way I loved this book and still think about the hospitality of my HEART if not my home.

The Psychobiotic Revolution... More microbiome, this time as a psychology treatment! Fascinating, helpful, informative.

White Bird... WWII graphic novel I found engaging, inspiring, and poignant! I added it to my kids' middle school list.

Whose Waves These Are... This is my favorite fiction of 2019. Another WWII Christian fiction time slip, this one with a beautifully written literary feeling that offers a rich exploration of family dynamics and already had me crying during chapter two.

Wisdom of the Enneagram... My favorite Enneagram book by far, deep and detailed. My husband and I would both really like to own this one.

Friday, December 27, 2019

2020 Reading Goals

Read 100 books... I read a spiritual growth book each morning, a read-aloud to my kids, and a fiction or non-fiction I find interesting in the evenings. I often read a chapter of a good writing book before my writing sessions and I enjoy audiobooks during a big laundry catch-up, workouts, driving alone, etc. This should be no problem.

Read 50 books I already own... the library sings such a sweet siren song but my physical TBR is once again growing out of control. Whether I read the physical book or listen to the audiobook version, I'd like to see myself hit 50 of the books already on my shelf before January 1st.

Read or skim my entire 4th grade book stack... My son has an unquenchable thirst for books and I'm so far still ahead of him... But by a little less all the time so I'd like to see my personal children's TBR stack shrink quite a bit too.

Find my commitment authors... I used to be so committed to certain authors. I'd read everything they wrote! As my tastes and mindset have changed I've found that their work no longer serves me... But whose does? I'd like to find my new favorite authors this year, the ones whose work I am committed to.

Branch out... I tend to only read WWII novels when I feel like reading historical fiction, otherwise mostly contemporary fiction and nonfiction. Right now I can see 13 WWII TBR books just from where I'm sitting, with more than half of my titles obscured. I'd like to read a few more classics and a few more historical fictions from other time periods, and maybe a sci-fi or something else totally out of character.

Try a buddy read with my hubby... I always want to do this but never follow through! This will be our year.

Read more "up lit"... I have been trying to figure out what I want to read outside of Christian fiction and my best explanation was uplifting (but not fluffy) books with a literary fiction feel. Enter these two lists- Refinery 29 and Simon & Schuster... I already have several of these titles from little free library exchanges so some of those books can hit both goals quite easily! 

Saturday, December 14, 2019

8 New Christian Kid Reads

Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls… I don’t personally have a coloring Bible and find that I prefer journaling to illustrating the things I want to ruminate over or remember… but I still enjoy following #biblejournaling on Instagram and seeing the beautiful art others create. I was very excited about this book because I have three young daughters who all love coloring and know there’s a pretty good chance at least one of them will be thrilled by this concept. I’m nothing if not idealistic so I get very excited imagining granddaughters someday pouring over their mother’s journaling pages and finding a deep spiritual connection over favorite verses and stories.

Braver Stronger Smarter: A Girl’s Guide to Overcoming Worry & Anxiety… this great workbook was full of exercises to help young girls with anxiety. I never recognized as a kid or teenager that I had anxiety; I just thought I was a freak. If I had had a book like this I would have been able to really examine the why behind my racing thoughts and irrational panic. I hope my family never needs this book but I'm grateful we'll have it if we do. There is a lot of helpful information here on naming your fears, recognizing the lies you're telling yourself, and positivity to help battle those big feelings.

Epic Devotions… My son loves the Epic Adventures bible story book and he's been enjoying this devotional too. I think my brother would have loved this comic book-style devotional as a kid. My son was even inspired to start his own comic book

God Made Me Unique… This short and sweet book, by Joni Eareckson Tada, is a great way to introduce a child to the special needs community or to bring comfort to a special needs child who feels different and left out. The book features a boy in a wheelchair, a possibly ADHD boy who uses a fidget spinner to help him focus, a child who walks with braces, a deaf child, a boy who uses a ___ dog, and a young girl who wears headphones to avoid loud noises (common among Autistic children).

Gus Loses His Grip… This book greatly disturbed me after all I've learned this year about eating disorders. Gus is presented as a raccoon with a sweet tooth, it his behavior is actually very alarming. He's hiding stashed of sweets and binge eating his whole stash- "And then he remembered-- he ate it all last night. Every last piece. He simply couldn't stop." The story also mentions him hiding candy wrappers all week and eventually leads to Gus stealing candy, then Papa relates by observing that he himself has a shopping problem. I didn't care for the way the story was all wrapped up in a neat bow with what psychologists refer to as spiritual bypassing... Rather than acknowledging a genuine problem and seeking the reason, observing triggers, reaching out for help if necessary, practicing better coping mechanisms, etc- little raccoon takes on blame for sinning via sugar addiction and cheerfully decides he'll stop and enjoy all the pleasures God gave us instead of obsessing over candy. If only addiction were so easy! I appreciate the author's heart and good intentions but there's a whole world full of people wondering why praying away their addiction isn't working and a book like this makes me very nervous for children (and the grown-ups reading it to them) who already berate themselves for whatever sin the struggle with most. He's a counselor and I'm not, but I've also learned a lot from other licensed counselors and psychologists this year and find their methods more effective. All that aside, I did love the illustrations and I still have great respect for the good intentions. 

The Moon is Always Round… This book is very short and simple, about a family grappling with a stillborn baby and using a moon metaphor to show that God is still good. I read a negative review just the other day saying children's books shouldn't be sad. Well, children shouldn't be sad. But here we are. I am very glad to know that there's a book out there to help a child process it. The author discusses his own family's stillborn experience in the back and I think the world of him for the courage to share and the hearts he will touch as a result.

Tori Comes Out of Her Shell… This book uses Tori the Turtle to illustrate a lesson a loneliness, Jesus being our friend, and friendship. I did wish the story felt slightly less preachy and slightly more like a story but it was still good and one I won't mind reading to my children. I also like the illustrations and the pocket bible verses in the back.

Why do we say Good Night... I have a couple little ones who get out of bed every few nights to come tell me they are scared. I love the idea of pulling them into my lap and reading this very short and simple book, complete with quirky illustrations, about a little girl afraid of the dark and her mother offering her comfort and reminding her that God is always watching out for her.

*I received a free copy of each book in exchange for an honest review.

I received a copy of the NIV Beautiful Word Coloring Bible for Girls from Zondervan (HarperCollins Christian Publishing) for this review. This post is sponsored by Zondervan

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