Aug 252014
 

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book to review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Have you ever requested a book to review and you were expecting one thing, and it turns out it was entirely different?

I have.

Mother’s Book of Home Economics is one of those cases.

The title suggests that it might be a training manual of sorts. A “How-to Train your Daughters” type of book. It might have step-by-step lists of projects to do, or maybe a home economics bucket list i.e. “Things to do with your daughter before she’s grown.”

All those sound like great books. They are ones I’d be interested in reading.

But that is not at all what Mother’s Book of Home Economics is.

The sub-title provides more insight.

Remembrances, Letters, and Essays from a New England Housewife

So if you’re looking for a practical how-to book this isn’t it. Not that what Mrs. White shares isn’t practical. It’s just so much more.

I’ve been a stay-at-home mom for 16 years. I’m starting my 12th year of homeschooling. I believe completely that motherhood is a calling. We have made great financial sacrifices in order for me to stay home. So a book that’s a call for homemaking didn’t seem to be something I needed to read. But I was in for a surprise. This book really made me think. I was convicted many times.

First, let’s think about the shift in our society. Now we call ourselves stay-at-home moms or in my case, a homeschooling mom. The focus is on being a mom. Mrs. White reminds us that the focus used to be on being a wife. The old term was housewife. There was a dual emphasis on house and wife. Certainly the children are important and a major part of what our job consists of, but when they’re gone is our time at home over? Is there no purpose for us to stay at home once the children have moved away or should we just stay at home with our children for a season?

Those are interesting questions.

Mrs. White challenges women to work at keeping their homes neat and clean. She encourages cooking for our families. These are all things that to an outside observer, I do a pretty good job at. Relatively speaking anyway.

But the difference is in attitude.

“There is joy in dusting and polishing. There is pride in cooking for the family. There is happiness in creating a pleasant haven in our homes….

Ironing is done in a slow and careful manner. It forces one to be peaceful.”

Mother's Book of Home Economics

Ouch! I’m usually rushing to iron on Sunday morning and grumbling all the time. Or cooking and feeling irritated that no one appreciates all the work I do for them.

“A wife who does not complain is a virtuous asset to her husband.”

I do make an effort not to complain, but I’m usually complaining on the inside and patting myself on the back for not saying anything.

What about this?

Being quiet. . . We often talk too much, worry too much, think too much, and want to multitask every minute away! Being quiet and content takes effort, but it will bring peace and gentleness to the family.”

In other words, we shouldn’t be martyrs, Sighing and weary of all our work. We should feel weary but not of working, instead we should feel tired in a good way from working hard to keep our home. How can we do this? It is only with strength from the Lord.

If you’re looking for encouragement for making your house a home and learning contentment, I recommend Mother’s Book of Home Economics. You probably won’t agree with all of Mrs. White’s ideas on the topic, but I bet it will make you think about your attitude towards cooking and cleaning.

 

Mar 062014
 

Despite the fact that I get a lot done, I do not consider myself a high energy person.

So I wasn’t really concerned with how tired I have been. At least not at first.

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I homeschool 5 children, work part-time from home, do the housekeeping, cooking, laundry, etc. It’s a lot of work. Being tired at the end of the day is a sign that it’s been productive.

The problem is being tired all day long.

I noticed that I wasn’t feeling refreshed when I got up in the morning, even after a relatively good night’s sleep. I am not a night owl. I’ve been going to bed at 10 or 10:30 most nights.

Another thing that I’ve noticed over the last 9 months or more is that I’ve had periods of depression. They seemed to be somewhat cyclical, so I figured it must be hormonal.

But I didn’t do anything about it. I tried to make sure I wasn’t doing “too much”. Get rest. Tried to exercise some, but I was so tired, that didn’t happen much.

I have yearly visits to a dermatologist for a skin check and while I was there I mentioned that I’d had a lot of hair loss. She thought it would be good idea to run some blood tests.

It turned out that I have both a Vitamin D deficiency and Iron-Deficient Anemia!

No wonder I’ve been tired.

I should mention that I have never had anemia before. I’m not sure about the Vitamin D deficiency, but I suspect that it’s due to some dietary changes that I’ve made. In my efforts to eat more whole foods, I’ve cut out some processed things that were enriched with a lot of vitamins. (Carnation Instant Breakfast was my daily breakfast for approximately 20 years, I’m embarrassed to admit.)

I’m not going back to the processed foods. I’m taking Vitamin D and iron supplements for a while to increase my levels. I’ll be adding more foods that contain iron to my diet.

After less than a week on the Vitamin D, (I’ve just started the iron) I am already feeling a little better! It’s very likely that the Vitamin D deficiency was the cause of my more severe periodic depression. That’s my working hypothesis at least. We’ll see.

I know this sounds weird, but I was happy to find out there really was something wrong with me. (Especially since it was so simple.) I was afraid that it was just how things were going to be. And that was depressing.

Jan 172014
 

Say Goodbye to Survival Mode

In November I happened to see a post in my Facebook feed about signing up for a chance to be on the launch team for Crystal Paine’s (Money Saving Mom) upcoming book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode. Based on the title alone, I decided to sign up. At the time, I really felt like I was hanging on by a thread. We had finished with the very busy fall cross country season. (OK, a month earlier) and there’s something about getting through a major busy time that leaves me feeling let down. So I felt blah but without direction, and  I wasn’t making any progress on anything.

Thankfully, I was chosen for the team. I started reading and found myself agreeing wholeheartedly. The first chapter was Stop Trying to Do it All. Honestly, I’ve always prided myself in not over scheduling. I felt like I had kept our schedule pretty open. But in this season of our homeschool with my oldest in high school, we are involved in several outside lessons and classes. And they’re at an all time high this school year.

Time doesn’t expand limitlessly. When I say yes to one thing, I must say no to something else.

I’ve definitely said yes to a lot of things this year. What have I said no to?

Consciously, nothing. But certain things were not getting done.

Things like –

  • Regular Exercise
  • Meaningful Bible Study
  • Going over lessons with my children
  • Some housecleaning tasks (like ironing and mopping) – OK, so I don’t mind skipping those.

But then came the part where I was supposed to write down my own personal priority list.

And I froze.

I’ve never been one for open ended questions. And trying to come up with 4 or 5 concise statements of my priorities in life is overwhelming.

But I knew I should do it. I couldn’t go on without doing it. But I couldn’t do it. But what if the rest of the book hinges on those priorities?

Finally after being stuck without reading, I decided to keep reading.

OK. On to Chapter 2. Say Yes to the Best. Oh no, we’re going to be using the personal priorities list! Just keep reading.

Pretty soon Crystal got to topics that are more comfortable for me: things like dividing your time and  setting up a routine. Those are more my style. That’s how I think naturally. I haven’t been doing them though. I wonder why not? What happened?

The book progresses from thinking about the big picture of our goals and priorities to more practical ways to organize specific areas of our lives such as finances, the home, and giving. Crystal’s writing is informative and engaging with a good mix of personal stories and practical tips. But it’s not an exhaustive organizing book with how-to’s on organizing everything under the sun. It’s more of a big picture book with practical tips to get you started.

I kept getting called back to that big picture. What are my priorities? Why am I doing the things I am doing? What am I doing with my time? With the new year approaching, it seemed an appropriate time to be pondering  all these things. As a result of reading Say Goodbye to Survival Mode  I started to implement some major changes to my schedule.

The biggest one is my no computer times I have set up every day. I have determined that I cannot do a good job with homeschooling while I am also checking e-mail, browsing Facebook, and working on my job. So I am requiring that my laptop stays shut and put away from 8-11 am every weekday. And in order to spend more focused time with my husband in the evenings, we have both agreed to no electronic devices between 6-8 pm.

Without me bringing it up, my husband suggested that we set some goals for the year and think about our priorities. Isn’t that an amazing coincidence? (I don’t think so. I love how God in his sovereignty oversees even the seemingly small details like my getting “randomly” selected for a book launch.) If I hadn’t read Saying Goodbye to Survival Mode, I wouldn’t have been prepared to set goals with my husband. I would have felt like he thought I was failing, and I needed help. But I was finally ready to admit that I did need help. And I came up with the no computer time idea. My husband had thought of that long ago, but knew better than to suggest it to me. Some things we have to see for ourselves. And I foolishly thought I could handle all that multi-tasking. And I continued to sink further and further.

Things are looking so much better. No, my life of homeschooling 5 children, keeping house, and working part-time is not suddenly easy. But I finally feel more in control. I still haven’t written out my priorities, but I’m going to. I have set aside a lot of the things that were wasting my time (mainly computer related), and I have been much more productive. Do I owe it all Say Goodbye to Survival Mode? Well, maybe not, but it certainly came at the right time and helped me to get out of the life boat and back onto the ship.

So take a look at the book. Right now it’s still pre-order only, but there are some great freebies that come with it. But hurry if you want the free stuff because the book will be released on January 21!

Disclosure: I received an advance electronic copy of this book in order to complete this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

 

 

Dec 302013
 

It’s hard to say it without sounding cliche, but time really does fly. Even more so the older that I get.

As I reflect upon another year, I hope that I have grown. I know that I have, but it’s sometimes hard to see in the midst of the day to day trials. I still worry. I still lose my temper. I still complain. But I have a hope. I know that God is not finished with me. I know that Christ is my righteousness. Thankfully, I don’t have to rely on my own!

I looked back over my blog posts for the last year, and I chose 1 per month to share. I did not include any reviews, so there were some months that I left out.

Joy-001

The word of the year is Joy.

Hmm. I may need a do-over.

It was tough, but it was good.

I might see a theme developing.

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B is for Books and C is for Capital.

We had a nice, but freezing trip to DC for spring break. Ironically as I write this on the first day of winter, my children are outside playing in short sleeves.

Pinterest Fireplace Makeover

This is perhaps my favorite post of the year. Not because of the post itself, but I am so happy to see my improved fireplace everyday.

Here are my plans for my middle son’s 5th grade year.

We’re not exactly meeting our goals. Not even close. Sigh.

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Here are our 10th grade plans.

Those are going a bit better.

Here’s my Defense of Busyness.

I’m not sure what my excuse is now that cross country is over.

If you’re feeling Blah, you can check out my Blah Blog Busting Post Ideas.

I have unfortunately not implemented these as much as I’d like.

Finally, there’s a little tutorial for December – Making Catalog Christmas Trees.

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More 2013 end of year posts.
2013 – a messy but blessed year by April E. @ ElCloud Homeschool: Busy Minds, Busy Hands, Busy Feet

2013: A Look Back by Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road

Five Revelations From 2013 by Clara @ A Slice Of Homeschool Pie

2013- A Reflection on our Year by Jennifer @ Conversaving

Where Did 2013 Go? by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Embracing the Bright, Shining Moments and Growing in Our Struggles by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Saying Goodbye to 2013 by Tess @ Circling Through This Life

I’m the Mom of three teen boys, and other highlights of 2013 by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter

Looking Back Over 2013 Adventures In Homesteading & Homeschooling by Kim @Homestead Acres

2013 ~ The Good, The Bad, And The Beautiful by Audra Silva @ Simply Audra Marie

Real Moments of 2013 by Cristi @ Through the Calm and Through the Storm

It’s a Beautiful Life–2013 Edition by April B. @ Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum

Dec 192013
 

I am so happy to report that I have finished all the Christmas shopping! And yes, I know that is nothing special for December 19th (some people are finished in July, but I am NOT one of those people.) I also mailed out the last of the Christmas cards this morning (to be delivered locally).

So now all I have to do is wrap. This year we have 4 gifts per child. I have always wanted to try having themes for the gifts like- something to wear, something to read, and something you want. I’ve heard several variations of the general theme. But my husband doesn’t like the idea. He doesn’t want to be bound by rules like that. I do see his point, but I like rules and formulas so I don’t find the idea restrictive, but rather I think it would help me to determine boundaries.

Speaking of wrapping, Dave Ramsey had this fun infographic on his blog today –

What Your Wrapping Says About You

I’m a “standard” with a hint of “the perfectionist”. Maybe I’m more of a perfectionist wannabe. I can’t be too much of a perfectionist because I simply do not have time to be that meticulous wrapping 20 gifts for the kids.

What kind of wrapper are you?

Have you finished your Christmas preparations?

 

 

Dec 102013
 

I have a confession.

I have trouble being consistent with studying the Bible.

I want to. I plan to. But all too often, I let things get in the way.

Like sleep.

Or the computer.

Or chores.

Honestly, the thing that worked the best and the longest was being in a weekly Bible study with other women. Due to various circumstances, that’s not something I can do at this time, and I miss it. I miss both the accountability and the fellowship.

#puttingonthespirit #busymomdevosI recently was given the opportunity to review a new devotional by Katie Hornor titled Putting on the Spirit.

I definitely need that. (Really, who doesn’t?)

The sub-title is also intriguing: Ten-minute Devotions for Busy Moms.

OK. I’m a mom.

I’m busy.

Surely I have 10 minutes, right?

When I downloaded my copy of Putting on the Spirit, I expected to find some devotional thoughts on the different fruit of the spirit. Maybe some mom anecdotes.

However that is not what I found at all. I would classify this as more of a Bible study than a devotional. Not a complicated, in-depth Bible study, but still more study, less devotional.

Maybe I have a different picture of devotional, but when I think of devotional, I think of something that I read and think about. Hopefully something speaks to me, and I’ll think of it again during the day. But not always. But a devotional is just a short scripture passage and a few thoughts on the passage. It does not involve looking up other scripture or answering questions.

Putting on the Spirit does involve me. It’s a study. A lighter Bible study. (Don’t imagine doing multiple word stories and pages of cross references.) But there are cross references. And questions to answer. The author even provides a free workbook on her website. ( http://paradisepraises.com/putting-on-the-spirit/)

I am impressed with this study. It’s simple, yet deep. It’s short, but meaningful. It’s all of these things because it’s not much of the author’s own thoughts, but instead  her guiding you through the Bible for yourself.

Has this book provided the miraculous end of my struggle with consistency? Well, no. But should I expect any study to do that? No. That comes from being consistent. (I know that seems crazy, but it’s really true. The more time you spend with God in study and prayer, the easier it becomes because then you recognize your need even more.) But it’s a start.

This week Putting on the Spirit is only $0.99 on Amazon.com (Kindle version). And today (Tuesday) it’s free! There is also a Spanish version coming soon.

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Dec 062013
 

I love making decorations for Christmas. But it’s hard to spend extra money on craft supplies at Christmas with an already stretched budget. (Really, I SHOULD think about Christmas crafting all year long, but I never do.)

But if your house is anything like ours, you probably receive tons of catalogs this time of year. Why not use them for something instead of throwing them away?

How to Make Catalog Christmas Trees

This is a great project to use some of those catalogs. They do need to be fairly thick to make a full enough tree.

Here’s how you do it.

1. Fold the page down from the top corner, making the top even with the center of the catalog.

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2. Repeat for every page in the catalog.

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3. Fold  page in half again making a narrower triangle.

 

 

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4. Repeat for every page.
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5. Tuck end inside of fold.

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6. Crease and repeat for every page.

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7. Stand up and fluff it out. Here’s our finished project spray painted gold.

Catalog Christmas Trees

I’d like to make a whole “forest” of different sized trees for my mantle!

Sep 192013
 

I was recently contacted by Easy Canvas Prints with an opportunity to review one of their products. I have seen many advertisements for photo canvases, but I have never actually purchased one, so I was eager to see what they looked like close up.

Then came the hard part. (The only hard part.) Picking out a picture!

I finally decided on a picture from our Arizona vacation last summer. Of course that didn’t help narrow it down too much. My husband, son, and I went searching through the several hard drives where we had stored the pictures from 2 different cameras before finally settling on 1 of the Grand Canyon.

There were a few different options to choose from on the site. These include size, (Ours is 16×20), depth of wrap (0.75 inches), and border options. The free border options included wrapping the image around, having a mirror image of the edge of the canvas wrap, or making the border a color.

 

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Do you see how the image goes right around the corner of the canvas? I love that!

Our canvas shipped quickly and was packed well for shipping. I highly recommend Easy Canvas Prints and hope to do some of my Christmas shopping there!

Here’s a view of the whole canvas. (It’s very hard to take a picture of a picture!)

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Now the other hard part is deciding where to hang it! (It also came with a hanger already installed.)

Interested in trying out Easy Canvas Prints for free?

 

Disclosure: I received a free 16X20 canvas in exchange for this review. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not compensated for this review.

Jul 292013
 

If you like to talk to tomatoes,

If a squash can make you smile,

If you like to waltz with potatoes,

Up and down the produce aisle….

Have we got a show for you!

Yes, I just typed that from memory.

We received our first Veggie Tales video, Rack, Shack, and Benny, for my oldest son’s 1st birthday. Fourteen years and 4 kids later, we still love Veggie Tales.

MacLarry & The Stinky Cheese BattleSo when I was offered a copy of the latest offering, MacLarry & The Stinky Cheese Battle, to review, I didn’t hesitate to accept. I wasn’t disappointed. MacLarry is a well-done video that delivers what I’ve come to expect from Veggie Tales: a fun story, an unusual setting, silly humor, and a good moral.

MacLarry is the son of the chief of the Barber-barian clan. They have a long standing feud with the Romans who have occupied nearby England. They play pranks on the Romans and give bad haircuts. But MacLarry isn’t like all the other Barber-barians. He isn’t good at pranks. Instead, he likes to invent things. His father loves him, but he is disappointed in him. Finally MacLarry decides to leave the village and sets out to find his hero Archimedes.  What happens next, I’ll leave as a surprise, but I will tell you that MacLarry saves the day and his father comes to value his differences. The application verses are found in I Corinthians 12 where it speaks of the body as having many members that are all different, but all necessary for the function of the church.

If you have Veggie Tales fans, you will not be disappointed in MacLarry & The Stinky Cheese Battle.

 

Disclosure: I received a copy of MacLarry & The Stinky Cheese Battle in order to write this review. I was not compensated for this review. All opinions are my own. Post contains an affiliate link.