Jul 252013

image001Does your family set aside time for a routine family devotions?

What about a consistent time for everyone to spend personal quiet time reading their Bible and praying?

We know it’s important and yet…

There have been seasons where we have been really good at consistently having devotions together.

And then there have been seasons when we have not.

The key to consistency is routine. Establishing a routine can be tough, but the end result is worth it.

  • Try to pick a time when your family is consistently together and set aside time for a devotional. I know, that’s sometimes easier said than done. However, if that doesn’t exist that might mean you need to evaluate your family activities. Ahem.


  • At first, you have to really guard that time. If you’ve decided on after dinner, then be consistent. Don’t decide to just do one little chore first. Everyone will scatter and you might end up forgetting. Ask me how I know.


  • Tell the family what you’re doing. Kids are great at holding parents accountable!


  • Look for an age-appropriate resource. Certainly reading the Bible alone is sufficient and appropriate for any age, but we have found it helpful to include an extra story for application.

If you have children in the 8-12 range, Adventures in Odyssey  – 90 Devotions for Kids is a good choice for either personal or family devotion time. You can download a sample here to see if it’s a good fit for your family.

I’m also giving away  a copy of 90 Devotions for Kids to one reader!

To enter, follow the instructions in the box below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jul 222013

Last week I got a lot done on my Decluttering Challenge. That was partly because my big kids were at camp. I don’t know why, but I seemed to have extra time on my hands.

Here’s a cute video of me talking to Andrew about David and Anna coming home.

Coming Home

Now that my two oldest are home, I’ve been trying to dig out of the giant mountain of laundry that they brought home.

I’m starting to work on school schedules, and today I’ve been revamping our chore system. More to come on that!

Jul 152013

I don’t know if this is true in every house, but I get asked at least 5 times a day, “What’s for dinner?” (Actually around here, we usually say supper…)

I get really tired of answering that question. That’s because

I often don’t know,

People grumble when they hear the answer, and

I don’t like unnecessary interruptions.

I found a neat idea on Pinterest, that will take take of some of the “What’s for dinner?” problem.

Isn’t it cute?

I happened to have a very similar frame that I had purchased for a different purpose. So all I needed was scrapbooking paper. (If you’re a scrapbooker, you could use scraps, but I am not.)

I waited for a sale on paper at Michael’s and bought 3 sheets of 12×12 paper for $0.20 each. Obviously, I decided not to use 7 different patterns. I actually decided on 1 pattern and have an extra sheet of paper that I did not use that I will probably give to my daughter who does scrapbook. The openings on my frame are each 4X6 inches, so I cut 6 pieces out of 1 sheet with no waste.

I am not crazy about the lettering on the original project, so I decided to write with black marker on my paper. But the names of the days aren’t nearly as visible as I had hoped, so I might redo it.

P1110063I also decided to make mine horizontal because I think that will be easier to write on and it fit the space better.

I’m hoping that having my menu board up will help me as I start to plan monthly menus again. This is a habit that I let slide a year or more ago, and we have really noticed an increase in our food spending. I have been making more frequent trips to the store and while I’m there I go ahead and pick up x, y, and z. Hopefully being more disciplined to plan menus and grocery shop less frequently will help us to cut our food spending back again.


Pinterest Menu CollageThis is my 2nd completed Pinterest project. (Not including recipes.) Have you seen my fireplace makeover? Do you use Pinterest? Be sure to follow me!

Jul 112013

Declutter-001My friend Crazy Mom at Ramblings from the Crazy House is having a 40 days to declutter challenge. I’ve decided to join in. Since I decided several days ago, I’m going to count the decluttering I’ve already done. Here is my list of 40 things make that 31 32 things to clean out with those already done, marked off.

1. Glasses/cups cabinet

2. Food cabinets

3. Spice, over the stove, and over the refrigerator cabinets. 7/12

4. Baking dishes, mixing bowls, and small appliance cabinets.

5. Laundry area shelves, and washer/dryer drawers

6. Master bedroom closet shelves

7. Master bedroom closet floor 7/16

8. Master bedroom hanging clothes

9. Main dresser drawers

10. Lingerie chest drawers

11. Nightstands

12. Master bath cabinets and drawers

13. Half bath cabinet

14. Medicine cabinet

15. Living room shelves, magazine basket, and entertainment center. 7/17

16. Girls’ room closets

17. Lizzie’s dresser

18. Under eaves storage

19. Boys’ room closet

20. William’s dresser  7/18

21. Andrew’s dresser 7/15

22. Downstairs homeschool bookcases.

23. Downstairs short bookcases. 7/17

24. Other downstairs bookcase. 7/13

25. Computer desk and plastic files. 7/20

26. Game cabinet  7/23

27. Downstairs table. 7/13

28. Garage shelves.

29. Garage under stairs.

30. Garage around ping pong table.

31. Front porch (it’s not cluttered, but I need to sweep it.) 7/23

32. Kids’ bathroom decluttered and deep cleaned. 7/12 Added because I can 🙂




Jun 202013

You don’t have to teach children to imagine. They don’t have to learn, because imaginative play is a part of normal child development.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t need to cultivate it, especially as a child gets older. And some people do seem to be more imaginative than others.


I’ve also found that small children naturally want to help. And older children, more often don’t leap at the opportunity.

So we as parents have to cultivate a heart for service.

What some are ways to do that?

3 simple ways are – 

  1. Have regularly assigned chores.
  2. Request your child’s help with additional projects.
  3. Find service opportunities in the community.

So if you do all those things, you will have children who have a servant’s heart, right?

Well, not so fast.

First, we must remember that we are all sinners and are by nature selfish. I have to keep that in mind with all the child rearing “formulas”.  Do a, add in b, and that equals perfect children. No! It’s true that some people are more naturally empathetic and want to help, but Christ is the only one who served others perfectly.

Second, and this is a doozy, we have to look at our own attitudes toward service.

How am I serving my children?

I know, I’m a mother of 5. I serve my family all the time. I cook, I clean, I do laundry, and I teach them. I don’t need any lessons in service. And yet, do I cheerfully get up when my 2 year old needs something, or do I tell him to wait while I finish what I’m doing? Do I calmly pick up the mess for the 97th time, or do I yell and go on and on about how messy everyone is and how nobody does anything around here? (This is all theoretical of course.) Yes, children need to learn to be patient and to clean up their messes, but how often am I just being selfish?

Sometimes it helps to get outside of our normal routine. Experiencing the joy of serving others in unusual ways, might just help us remember that joy in the mundane ways too.

ACTS imageDo you need some creative ideas for service?

This summer is the A.C.T.S. Summer of Service. You can download some great ideas for service on their website.

In honor of imagination, you can also download a free copy of Voyage with the Vikings, Imagination Station Book #1.

Giveaway closed.

Finally, I am hosting a giveaway for the first 3 Imagination Station books!

Follow the instructions below to enter!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Jun 052013


It’s something that I both love and hate.

I love it because there are such neat ideas on there. Yummy recipes, fun kid activities, decorating, crafts, lesson plans, and more. It’s amazing how many creative people there are.

On the other hand, it can be a time sucker and addictive. Plus there are the feelings of guilt that arise when you start doing too much comparing of yourself, your home, your kids, and your organizational ability to everyone else’s.

b3d7c22c8de51ec69fa7e2afbfdd4a81So my Pinterest use is sporadic. I have found some good recipes there but I really hadn’t attempted any big Pinterest projects….until last week.
I wanted to do something about my brick fireplace and brass screen. I had thought of painting the bricks white, but then I stumbled on this.

It looked a lot like my current set up. Well, I don’t have those great shelves or the wooden mantel. Just the brick and the brass. So I decided to go for it.

First, here is my fireplace, red brick, brass screen, and bumper pads.



The first step was to remove the screen. That was easier said than done. I couldn’t even figure out how to open the doors for a while! (Needless to say, we don’t use this fireplace for actual fires.)

When I got the doors open I was greeted with this.


Yes, that is indeed the decayed remains of a toad skeleton. How, when, and why it chose to get in our fireplace remains a mystery.

OK. Fireplace screen removed and taken outside. (This was the part of the instructions on the website that I found insane. They actually left the screen in and taped the brick and made a giant bubble and spray painted in the house! That is crazy and completely unnecessary.)


Protect glass with painter’s tape. Spray with high heat black spray paint.


Now the inside. I mixed 1 part paint (just regular latex trim paint that I had on hand) with 3 parts of water. I used an old brush with a rag and started painting.

It was pretty drippy. I am a notoriously messy painter and this was worse than usual. I kept the rag handy to keep the paint from running down the bricks too much.



It took about an hour total. I let the paint dry for a couple of hours and reinstalled the screen.


It’s a pretty big change isn’t it?

Overall, I’m pleased with the results. The bricks are a little bit messier than I anticipated. The rougher your bricks, the more unevenly the white wash will stick to it.

Overall, I’d give my first Pinterest project an A-.



Not bad for the cost of 1 can of spray paint!

So what about you? Do you Pinterest? Do you actually DO any of the projects you find there?

Mar 042013

Doug,  one of my husband’s roommates in college, when he was asked how his day went would often respond,

“It was tough, but it was good.”

We used to chuckle at his response, but really there’s a lot of truth to be found in his attitude.


I chose a word for this year:


I am seeking joy in 2013.


But my life lately has been tough.

It’s been busy.

My kids are always fighting don’t always get along.

My middle son makes me want to pull my hair out and scream. Sometimes I do scream.

I sometimes feel like this whole endeavor is completely hopeless.


I haven’t been blogging very much even though there are many days I’ve had ideas for great blog posts, but I’ve been quickly distracted by the next important thing.

I have laundry to do.

Meals to cook.

Diapers to change.

Children to teach.

A hugely cluttered basement and garage to clean.

I don’t want this blog to be a place of discouragement, but of encouragement. So you won’t find a bunch of whining posts (hopefully! )But at the same time, I don’t want to discourage others by sending the false message that this parenting and homeschooling stuff is easy, and I have all the answers. Because I don’t.

And yet I do.

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 (KJV)

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

James 1:2-5 (ESV)

My trials are really not that bad. I should be thankful that I have such easy trials! But they are my trials. They are what the Lord is using to make me more like him. They are for a purpose.

It’s ok that my days are tough. They are still good!

I will never cease to be amazed at how God leads and directs the events of our lives. Our sweet friend Doug is with Jesus. His days are no longer tough, only very, very good. But I still remember and am still learning to say those words of his.


The Homeschool Village
 Posted by at 3:49 pm  Tagged with:
Feb 122013

Since my last post was the post where I admit I was wrong, maybe this one should be the post where I admit I am late! I hope I’m not the only one that has let something go far too long. I’m really good with deadlines. But when there isn’t an exact deadline, then sometimes I procrastinate.

And procrastinate I have with this book. I don’t even know how long ago I received it. I don’t even want to think about it. But I do want to keep my commitments regardless of the late hour.

how-do-we-know-the-bible-is-trueHow Do We Know the Bible is True? is a compilation of treatises on difficult topics by various authors. It was edited by Ken Ham and Bodie Hodge and published by Master Books, a division of New Leaf Publishing Group.

When I ordered the book, I thought it was going to be a whole book that focused on proving the truth of the Bible. It is in a broad sense, but delves into a variety of different subtopics. Some of the chapter titles include:

  • Is the Old Testment Reliable?
  • Did the Physical Resurrection of Christ Really Happen?
  • Did Moses Write Genesis?
  • Did Miracles Really Happen?

All of those topics do deal with the broad subject of the authority of Scripture, but explore the arguments for and against the each of the questions.

I found the book interesting, but it wasn’t the type of book I can read straight though. (That’s part of the reason for the LONG delay in this review.) I think it is particularly helpful in pointing out the reasons someone might disagree with the Bible’s authority. I have a rather conservative upcoming and still hold to a literal interpretation of scriptures. (For those that are supposed to be literal anyway. Some of the Bible is obviously figurative language. The question for the ages is which is which.) I do think this book helped me to see some of the arguments for different interpretations and also why I do not agree with them.

I do not think this would be a good book to hand to a non-Christian to prove to them the Bible is true. I’m not sure that actually exists, but this book is definitely written with a believer in mind. It’s meant to strengthen existing faith and provide information to help a Christian to defend his faith.

I would recommend this book to others and plan to have my 9th grade son read it. He is always asking difficult questions and I think this book will help to answer some of them.

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this book from Master Books in order to complete this review. I was not compensated for this review and all opinions expressed are my own.

Jan 042013

A Word with Friends 2013 If you read blogs, I’m sure you’ve seen them.

The posts where people choose one word to represent their yearly theme.

I’ve always thought those were a neat idea, but the perfectionist in me has trouble picking just one word.

How can one word stand for everything I want to do?

As I think back on 2012, I wonder if I could summarize it in one word.



Maybe Calgon?

2012 was definitely a busy year and full of many changes. I started this new blog (and moved everything from my old blog here) right at the end of 2011.

Then I immediately became too busy to blog.

Not a very good strategy for building a successful blog. Maybe this year should be the year of Blogging?

Not likely.

Maybe Patience should be my word? Of course I’ve always heard people jokingly say to never pray for patience because God will give you something that helps you work on it. I don’t think I want to risk that, so I’m going to keep thinking.



Those do sound great, but my reality has not changed. I still homeschool 5 children and work part-time from home. I need to work towards those things for sure, but for the theme of the year? No.

As I think back over 2012, I realize that something was missing last year. It is something very important. It is something I need to regain. I’m honestly not sure how to even do it, but it’s going to be my word for 2013.

My word is JOY!



 Posted by at 9:41 am  Tagged with:
Dec 082012

I know you should never start a blog post with a comment on how long it’s been since you’ve blogged. So I won’t. But life has been busy and while ideas for blog posts have popped into my head, I’ve not found time to get them written. So today in an effort to get the blogging juices flowing again, I’m participating in
The Homeschool Mother’s Journal at iHomeschoolNetwork.

  • In my life this week…

I’ve been very busy. I’ve had a lot of work in my not so part time job on SchoolhouseTeachers.com. We did manage to get our Christmas tree decorated and almost a week later finish getting the rest of the decorations up and the boxes stashed back in the attic.

  • In our homeschool this week…

My son David has started a really fun Filmmaking class from Compass Classroom.

  • Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…

Don’t dwell on your past mistakes. Just move forward. Everything doesn’t have to be perfectly scheduled for the children to learn.

  • Places we’re going and people we’re seeing…

The children have a Christmas party this week at church. We will be doing most of our traveling and visiting right after Christmas.

  • My favorite thing this week was…

Watching my oldest son David, teach my youngest daughter Lizzie her math.

  • What’s working/not working for us…

I need to write more about it, but I am very pleased with my decision to switch William to Christian Light for Math. I’ve never been a fan of spiral math programs, but I’m finding it works so much better for him. He’s finally retaining his math. It’s hard for him to focus through all the work each lesson contains, but he is improving.

  • Questions/thoughts I have…

How am I ever going to teach David to understand literature?

  • Things I’m working on…

Can I say cleaning my room? At least that’s what I said I was working on before I picked up the laptop to write this 🙂

  • I’m reading…

The Miss Julia series. I have gotten hooked on these books. Miss Julia is a Southern older lady who gets herself into some hilarious messes. These are super light reading, but sometimes I just want to escape. Part of my attraction is they are set in a small town near Asheville, NC which is where I grew up.

  • I’m cooking…

It’s Saturday, so in our house that means macaroni and cheese. It’s the only thing that all 7 of us like. I need to start my Christmas baking soon!

  • I’m grateful for…

God’s provision. I enjoyed a month of reflecting on things I was thankful for (though I didn’t blog about it.) 

  • I’m praying for…

Wisdom in teaching my children, and that I can be a better example to them. 

  • A photo, video, link, or quote to share…