Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter- 52 Weeks of Family Scripture Memorization

I love Easter.  

When I was a child, it was a fun holiday. We got new dresses and pretty corsages to wear.  We celebrated with family we did not get to see very often.  We ate special meals of ham and deviled eggs and mashed potatoes.  And we had egg hunts and got Easter baskets. BIG Easter baskets.

Then I grew up.  And let go of of some of those things. And started new traditions for my own kids.

But most importantly, somewhere along my journey I realized just why Easter was so important.  It is not about the eggs, baskets, and food.  (I know, shocking, huh?!)

It is about Jesus.  And that He rose from the dead.


Wow.  That takes my breathe away just to type.

He did not remain in a grave but rose.

How is that for some GOOD NEWS?

Happy Easter, friends!  Enjoy celebrating the Good News!


Missional Women

For the Display of His Splendor

Too Many Books?

Some sweet friends asked me last week how to organize and declutter the books.  Like I know.  haha

"Michele - do you have a blog post about purging books... I have a major book problem. Especially children's books. And with kids ages 9, 8, 5, and 2, nothing's really outgrown yet so I don't know what criteria to use to get rid of anything!"

Yep, it is hard.  Which is why you have not seen a post around here about it until now.  They kind of put me on the spot. ;)  It is also why I am going to turn this post over to my wise daughter in a moment and let her guide you.  She is a minimalist, remember - but she LOVES books and could have books problem like the rest of us if she was not very careful.  She also guilts shames helps me hold my book problem to only a minor problem.  Mostly.

Before she gets you all straightened out let me say this -

I love books.  Biographies, fiction, children's books, antique books, it doesn't really matter.  In the past I have not been too picky.  Now I am trying to be more so.  I also do own an iPad on which I download books to read.  Many of them are still sitting there to read because I forget about them.  It is a concept that I embrace, but not one I am real good at implementing.  Yet.  I am trying.  We also are trying to utilize the library more.  Don't get me wrong, we have always loved libraries.  But in the past we have just added those books to the dozens a month we bought.  Now we are trying to let the library buy the books and just borrow them instead.   Keep in mind, that I also have kids in four very distinct age groups so I understand that problem.  I am also a military wife and we move.  Often.  And my husband is sure that most of our weight is in books.  He may be right.  SO that being said - here's Ashton!

As mom mentioned, I am pretty minimalistic in many ways, but my biggest weakness is books.  I love books. I actually own a NOOK and have the NOOK and Kindle apps on my phone but still, I have this need to hold a real book.  I have, however, been thinking about ways to cut back on books. It started when we moved and almost all of my books were packed up in boxes and then re-packed in tubs because there simply isn't space in my room for them. So I've been without most of my books for almost a year now. And while I have missed many of my books, but there are others that I had forgotten I had. Clearly those need to go.

If you go through your books, you will probably find you own different books for different reasons. The first step is to decide why you own a book. Is it because...
1. You love it - This is a great reason to keep a book. If you plan to read it over and over again, by all means, keep it.
2. It is helpful/a frequently used reference book - If you garden, keep the gardening books you use the most. But if you never garden, don't keep books on gardening.  With the internet, you might be able to do without owning a dictionary, or more than one dictionary.  Do you use that book often enough to warrant keeping it, or it is good enough that you can check it out at the library?
3. Someone gave it to you - Sometimes this is a good reason to keep a book. Most of the time it is not. If it was a gift and you are never going to read it or you didn't love it, pass it on to someone who will read it and love it. And let us all pledge to stop giving coffee table-type books as gifts. Thank you.
4. It makes you look intelligent - This is not a good reason to keep a book. You are going to look downright un-intelligent when you have to confess that you haven't actually read War and Peace, but you keep it on a prominent shelf to make people think you have read it.
5. You might need it someday - How likely is it that you are really going to need that book on...whatever obscure topic? Give it to the library and you can borrow it if you do end up needing it.
6. You needed it...once - But do you need it now? Yes, you needed that text book in college, but do you need it or reference it now?

If you are overwhelmed, start with a shelf. Pull out a book. Do you love it? Yes? Great, put it back on a shelf. No? Ok, so why do you own it? If you haven't read it, do you honestly plan to? If you have read it but don't like it, why are you holding on to it?
Bottom line, if you wouldn't read it or reference it again, don't keep it. It is pretty much that simple (or not).

Antiques. I love antiques, and I used to own a lot of antique books. But I realized that they were a problem, for several reasons. First of all, few of them were books I would actually read. Second, few of them were in good enough condition to actually be read. Third, I have serious allergies, and dust and mildew and mold create huge problems for me. Guess what old books usually contain? Right. So now I don't keep an antique book unless it is a book I actually want to read (and love) and it is actually readable. (I now only own the Bible Dictionary in the picture up there.) It does you no good to have an antique Dick and Jane if it is falling apart and you can't let your kids actually hold it and read it. Let a museum or library or decorator have it (and antique books usually sell pretty well).

Collecting. I hereby confess to owning every one of the 50 original Nancy Drew books. But I am absolutely head-over-heels in love with them. They are special because some of them were mom's, others I found and family found for me, and I just love reading them. I am a total Nancy Drew nerd. And before they were packed away, I read them all the time (they are the perfect length to read during lunch, just saying). So if you love a series, keep them. But don't keep a series if you don't love it or just to keep it. And books are meant to be read, not looked at. Oh, and no multiple editions. Trust me, you can only read one copy at a time.

Children's books can be harder, but there are ways to manage them.

1. Only keep books your children like (within reason). Don't hold onto books just because you like them, especially if your children do not like them. Of course, there will be exceptions to this one.
2. Stick to favorites and classics. When choosing which books to keep for the next child or even their children, stick to the favorites and classics. Choose books that mean something and skip the Tonka truck and Barbie books (unless those are the ones that mean something to you). Also, skip the ones you can easily find at the library.
3. Be careful with "classics." Ok, I am about to tell you a dark secret. Many books that are considered "classics" are actually terrible books. There. I said it. Don't keep a book because it is a classic, keep it because it is good. This goes for any "classic" book.
Example. I can't stand The Scarlet Letter. (Please don't come after me.) I know there is great symbolism, history, etc. etc. etc. in that book, but I thought it was terrible. So I don't own a copy. If I ever hit my head really hard on something and want to read it again, it is easily found at the library and is not taking up space on my shelf in the meantime.
4. Focus on books for all ages. I am always amazed at what little ones pick up by just listening. And while it is great to have books at their level for them to enjoy, they are also capable of listening to and enjoying many books meant for older kids. They may not catch every detail, but someday they will.

I am sure there are more ideas that I'll think of later, so this post might have a part 2, but I am not promising anything...And while my books are packed away right now, I will definitely be donating a bunch when I unpack them someday soon!
What did I miss? Are there tips you would add? Do you hoard books like mom? =)

Linking up with the Frugal Homeschool Family Link up and Loving the Weekend Blog Hop!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First the cow, now the chicken...

Buds on the trees.  Flowers poking their shoots though the snow.  Green grass and birds.  All beautiful signs of spring.  Not that we've seen many of those here in South Dakota as of yet.

As a matter of fact, just this morning it snowed.  So, ummm, I KNOW spring is coming -sometime- but I'm just not seeing it so far.

Just one more reason to be fascinated with chicks.  Chicken chicks that is.

Soft and sweet and cuddly.

And dinner.

Sorry, but that is the reality of a farm.

Not to worry, our friends tell us the cute ones will stay cute and will be their laying hens.  Those we can fawn over.  The ones we are going to process (that's farm talk for kill) are supposed to get ugly so we will not feel bad.  I sure hope so, because the last time I saw them I just wanted to kiss them.  Pretty sure one of my sons did!

But in just a few shorts weeks, those chickens will be ugly (I am counting on that friends!) and ready to process.  And yes, we are going to be a part of that processing...process.

Remember - we have friends that actually KNOW something about farm life and have decided to let us be a part of their journey - like when we butchered the cow.  Quite frankly, they may either be crazy or just entertained by us city folks.  Either way, they are teaching us how to process chickens. And I cannot wait.  I think.

You see, in my head it is amazing.  You know, back to basics, fresh organic meat on the table for my family, no pesticides, I know where it came from, pipe in the Little House on the Prairie music, and on and on.

But of course, to get to that point is hard work.  Almost all of which we are not involved in because we do not live on a farm and so far our friends have not invited us to live with them.  They are not THAT crazy.

But for a few hours we will join them for the hard work.  And hopefully not make it harder.

Stay tuned!


Monday, April 14, 2014

And about that clutter...

Did you get tired of me last week?  I got tired!  Not necessarily of me, but of writing.  And more writing. Actually, the writing was not the hard part- the posting and social media thing wore me out.  I am looking forward to a quieter week on the blog this week.  Hope you don't mind!

But I also hope you were blessed by the Clearing out the Clutter posts.  If you missed them or need to catch up you can access them here-

Our Home
Our Heads
Our Hearts
Our Homeschool
Our Health

THANK YOU to all who left comments or shared your progress.  It is always fun to read what you all are doing at your homes!

While you are motivated and on a roll (you are motivated and on a roll aren't you?) I want to introduce you to a bloggy friend of mine you has been on her own journey to Clear Out the Clutter.

Meet Sanz from Meet The Mrs!  She is a fellow TOS reviewer as well, has some pretty adorable kids, and lives...well, you will have to just go and see where she lives!

She has been a mission of her own to weed out all of the non essentials out of her life.  If you follow her on Facebook (and you really should!) you would have seen her weekly, sometimes daily updates of all of the stuff she has hauled away.  It. Is. Amazing!  And motivating!  And a challenge!

Go ahead- read her journey and see her Home office changes and see if you do not want to do a little clearing out the clutter yourself!

Tell her I said hi while you are there!


Friday, April 11, 2014

Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars- Review and giveaway

Do you have kids that always have their heads in the clouds?  Or at least their eyes on the stars?

We love looking out on a clear night and seeing the endless number of stars.  Well, endless to us, but God knows them each by name.  Can you even imagine?

We were excited to get to read and use Dawnita Fogleman's new book Star Chronicles: A Bible-Based Study of the Stars.  We have studied the stars before, but on a pretty limited basis, usually just a quick chapter in a science textbook.  To be able to take a more in depth look at them from a Biblical basis intrigued me.  It's kind of like a homeschool Bible Study and a homeschool Astronomy class all rolled into one!

Dawnita has broken her book into 13 sections, each based on a group of constellations that fall under a specific name.

  • The Beginning and the End
  • The Virgin Bride
  • Justice and Balance
  • Sting of Death
  • Archer
  • Goat
  • Water Bearer
  • Fish
  • The Lamb
  • A Bull
  • Twins
  • Resurrection
  • Lion

She  then gives a little background on each of the smaller constellations that make up the bigger group and cites Bible references that tie in.  For example- Sagittarius is the Archer.  Rev 6:2 "And I saw, and behold a white horse, and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him, and he went forth conquering, and to conquer."

If there are mythology stories that are related to the constellations, Dawnita does include them, but is always very forthright about them being only myths or even folklore.

One of the neatest parts of this program, I think, are all the fun extras included with the book.  There are coloring pages for younger children to use, notebooking pages for older children, and colored star charts for each of the constellations, with colors to represent the heat of the stars.

Dawnita does say that she and her children made a scrapbook of all they learned when creating this program, but encourages the reader to take ownership of your own creations.  Open ended we love! The kids and I decided to do file folders for each constellation.  We each chose the one that sounded the most interesting to us and got started.  While the kids colored and cut and designed their folders, I read the notes from the book.  We talked about the verses and about which constellations we had seen and which ones we would really like to see.

There were a few times that I wished there was a little more information given as how to teach the concepts and was not quite sure how to tie the reasoning of what we were studying to the Bible, but I did find it refreshing to constantly point back to God as the creator of each star.  Finally a study that gives credit where credit is due!

If you an your children enjoy studying stars, this might be a good place to start.

You can purchase Star Chronicles- A Bible-Based Study of the Stars from Amazon  for $22.12 or Create Space for $25.00

If you order before 4/20/2014 you can also save 25% now on the PDF (originally $12.00 by ordering from Dawnita's website- FoglemanForerunner.

Dawnita had graciously offered to give one PDF copy to a reader.  Fill out the rafllecopter below for your chance to win.

About the author-Dawnita is a fifth generation Oklahoma Panhandle Pioneer. She and her husband, Paul, have six amazing children. They have homeschooled from the start and now have two graduated and starting their own businesses. With the family business and their little farm every day is a surprise. Dawnita blogs about life on the “funny farm” at