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Thoughts for Tuesday, May 19th

Outside my windows… it’s raining today, and things are really looking green around here.

Inside my house… I now have three out of four of my children sharing my tea-drinking habit, especially on days like this that are a bit chilly.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful for good test results that came back this week!

Prayers of the heart… I’ve had a decision to make that I really wrestled with. Now that I’ve made it, I’m just praying that things turn out OK.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… creating stories, building with LEGOs, and cobbling together lightsabers out of paper towel rolls and tin foil!

From my playlist… Waiting for Superman by Daughtry.

From my reading list… Fusion Fire by Kathy Tyers. If you love space opera, then you must read Kathy’s Firebird series. It tops my list of favorite books!

From my needlework basket… a cotton sweater for summer. Of course, it may be finished just in time for the first snowfall…

In the learning room… I’ve been browsing field guides for the kiddos. They are always finding plants, birds, and other things that we try to identify, so it’s time to invest in a good, comprehensive field guide. Any suggestions?

Random ramblings… I was pondering last night why superhero stories appeal to me. I decided it’s because growing up, I wanted to save the world. I knew that no matter what I did with my life, I wanted to make a difference and help people. You know, my life has not exactly turned out the way that I dreamed all of those years ago! Along the way, I discovered that we don’t have to do something spectacular to make a difference in people’s lives. Little things can make a difference too! I’ll never find the cure for cancer, explore Mars, or argue a case before the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t mean that God can’t use the small things that I can do.

Profound ponderings… “Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check. But that is not what I have found. I have found that it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love.” – Gandalf in Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien

Caught on film…

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Book Review: The World Needs More Love Letters

I was a prolific letter-writer while I was growing up. I even had an overseas penpal who I wrote to for many years. Though I don’t do quite as much letter writing as I used to because of the advent of e-mail, I still enjoy sending cards and letters to family and friends. That’s why I was so interested in reviewing The World Needs More Love Letters by Hannah Brencher!

The World Needs More Love Letters is a pad containing 40 tear-out sheets of patterned stationery. Write your letter on the ruled side of the page and then follow the instructions on the back of the book to fold and seal your letter. Just address and stamp it, and you’re ready to drop it in the mail! If you’re having a hard time finding inspiration for your letter writing, then take a look at the list of 40 suggestions on the inside cover.

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What I loved:

  • The stationery is more graphic than girly in design, so it works well for both men and women.
  • The fun of writing and then folding up the self-mailer reminded me of the old Aerograms that I used to send to my overseas penpal!
  • It’s a fabulous way to encourage kids to write letters. My daughter immediately snagged a page to write a letter to her grandparents!

What I didn’t:

  • The white circle stickers provided to close up the sides of the letter were rather disappointing. I would have much preferred either a print that coordinated with the stationery, or just plain clear stickers that allowed the pretty stationery to show.

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Overall, I do really like the concept of The World Needs More Love Letters, and I’d definitely purchase similar products again. I hope that the publisher and author decide to offer additional designs in the future! Whether you are a prolific letter writer, or simply want to cultivate the habit of sending “real mail”, then this is a fun addition to your stationery desk.

bfb-125x125-2Note: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

The Messy Side of Creativity

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” – Albert Einstein

My kids are creative. I love that about them! I can’t say that I’m overly fond of the chaos that tends to go hand in hand with creativity though…

In a fit of frustration I asked, “How do you encourage creativity without the house getting trashed?” I do realize that I’ll have to put up with some amount of chaos. My husband and I homeschool four kids, have a very large dog, and both work from home. Life (and our home) are bound to get a bit crazy.

I’ve found a few strategies that help reduce the crazy factor though!

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Art boxes for everyone!

Each kid has their own plastic art box. This is where they can keep their art projects that they are still working on, and finished ones that they would like to keep. We store their art boxes in a cabinet in the dining room so that they are easy to get to, but out of sight when put away. Art projects still have a tendency to pile up here and there, but now I can tell the kids that they need to put them in their art boxes. What happens when the boxes are full? That’s when the kids go through the contents and decide what they want to keep, and what they don’t.

What do I do with all of these LEGOs?

I found the cutest LEGO organizer. It held six plastic boxes that would snap closed, keeping the LEGO sets separate and organized. Turns out my kids are much less OCD than I am. They prefer the LEGO kits to be mixed together into a giant mish-mash of creative possibilities! What’s worked the best for us is a set of inexpensive plastic drawers and a couple of plastic bins with lids. Yes, I still have to remind the kids that picking up the LEGOs means that all of them are in the drawers or boxes, but keeping them stored in closed containers seems to cut down on the number of LEGOs that find my bare feet!

Markers, and crayons, and glue sticks! Oh my!

Art supplies will take over my dining room without a plan for corralling them. Magazine holders and plastic shoeboxes are the key for doing that. The magazine holders are perfect for containing all kinds of paper from construction paper to graph paper. They fit on my bookshelves neatly and keep the paper from getting wrinkled. The plastic shoeboxes from the dollar store stack well, and again, they fit on my bookshelves! Markers go in one box, crayons in another, and so on. (This is also a great organizing solution for your hands-on manipulatives.) I get the clear boxes so that the kids can easily see which box has the items that they’re looking for. The lidded boxes work so much better than open bins because they are stackable and things tend to stay better contained when there’s a lid involved.

That is not coming in my house…

Creativity doesn’t stop when the kids go outside! My kids would happily bring every interesting rock, leaf, stick, feather, piece of bark, and frog that they find in our backyard. I have to have limits on what is allowed in the house, and what isn’t. They each have a small tin that they are allowed to keep rocks and shells in. Like their art boxes, when their tin is full, it’s time to pare down their collection. When it comes to living creatures, the only one allowed to come inside is our German Shepherd. A mom has to draw the line somewhere, right?

Creativity will never be mess-free, but having a place for everything is a great starting point. Yes, I still have to remind the kids more often than I’d like that they have to pick up their projects when they are done working on them, but at least they know where to put things! That makes picking up so much easier and faster for everyone.

Thoughts for Tuesday, April 14th

Outside my windows… there’s still a bit of snow on the ground, but it’s melting because it’s such a beautiful day!

Inside my house… the kiddos and I are sipping on this year’s first batch of sun tea.

Counting 1000 gifts… sunny days, short sleeves, and sprouting seeds…

Prayers of the heart… there is something that has been weighing heavily on my heart. I’ve not felt very well since the beginning of the year. I’ve seen a few doctors, had tests, and still don’t have a diagnosis. Over the next couple of months I’ll be making decisions about what to try next. I am so thankful that I’m not seriously ill, but I very much want to get back to feeling like myself again! I’m just praying for wisdom to make good decisions.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… the kiddos have been enjoying the spring weather for certain!

From my playlist… There is a Fountain. I will always love the hymns that I grew up with.

From my reading list… I’ve got some great books on my reading list. But I’m taking a break for some fun reading. Star Wars. I need my space opera fix every now and then!

From my needlework basket… I’m doing the finishing on a cute cardigan for myself. Warm weather is here now of course, but Maine nights get cool enough that I’ll still get some use out of it this summer.

In the learning room… We are still chugging along on the 3 R’s, but I’d like to do a fun unit study or project that will take advantage of the warmer weather. I’m thinking maybe some sort of nature study…

Random ramblings… I found myself thinking last night, “Mom was so much better at this than I am.” I wish that I could ask her for tips and tricks! I have a feeling that she’d just hug me and tell me something like, “Just keep at it, Kiddo.” That’s good advice for just about anything in life I think. Just keep at it. Just keep making progress.

Profound ponderings… “Faith tells me that no matter what lies ahead of me, God is already there.” — Unknown

Caught on film…

A photo posted by Teish (@teishknits) on

Book Review: The Power of a Half Hour

I’m a work-at-home(schooling)-mom. So basically, I’m always looking for ways to get (and stay) organized, and ways to get things done more efficiently. That’s why I was interested in Tommy Barnett’s book The Power of a Half Hour.

The Power of a Half Hour by Tommy BarnettMr. Barnett writes about how much can truly be accomplished in half-hour blocks of time. Each chapter addresses another area of your life that you can apply the “power of a half hour” to. Of course your career is one of the topics, but things like relationships and your faith are also included. At the end of the book are Personal Action Plans for each chapter that summarize the chapter and then give you assignments based on what you just read.

I’m glad that things like relationships and family were included in The Power of a Half Hour. It’s refreshing to read a book of this type that acknowledges how important things like family and faith our in our lives, and encourages us to make time specifically for those things! The action plans were also a nice idea. The fact that the book is written from a solidly Christian point of view was definitely a bit plus as well.

While The Power of a Half Hour gave me some great ideas, and reiterated the importance of making time for my family and faith, it wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for. The half an hour concept is a great idea, but I live a life that’s full of interruptions! I need a plan that will work with my interrupted life. I think in a different season of life, this could work quite well for me, but it’s not quite what I need right now.

I did enjoy reading this book. It does a wonderful job of showing how there are many areas of your life that are important, and why we need to make it a point to spend time on all of those areas. Our lives need to be more than our jobs! While the half hour principle isn’t a perfect fit for me, I still got a lot out of The Power of a Half Hour. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their schedule. It would also be a great book for teens to read!

Please Note: I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are completely my own.

Bright Pink Lipstick

“It’s hard when you miss people. But, you know, if you miss them it means you were lucky. It means you had someone special in your life, someone worth missing.” – Nathan Scott

Six years. Mom has been gone for six years today.

Last year, I finally emptied out the tin of coffee that had been sitting in my kitchen cabinet for five years. Try as I might though, I couldn’t bring myself to throw out her lipstick and perfume though.

IMG_2214[1]Mom used to wear bright pink lipstick. She didn’t tend to wear much of any makeup, but before she left the house she always put on her lipstick. Today I took the caps off her lipstick and smiled over how bright they were before finally letting them go.

Mom didn’t buy expensive perfume. I was never particularly fond of the kind she wore, but over the years I always associated that scent with Mom. When I opened one of the bottles today, there was a lump in my throat. One of the bottles went, and one is still sitting in my bathroom cabinet. I guess I’m not quite ready to let go of everything.

IMG_2212[1]Six years is a long time. Not so long that I don’t still miss her terribly though. I’m used to it most days, but some days are harder than others. As much as I miss her, I wouldn’t wish her back. That may sound like a bit of a contradiction, but I don’t think it is. I think of Mom finally laying down all of the burdens that she carried here on Earth. How could I ever ask her to pick them up again?

2 Timothy 4:7 fits Mom perfectly, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Like Christian in The Pilgrim’s Progress, Mom finished her journey. She is in the presence of the King! Knowing that she is well and at peace brings me comfort despite the grief.

I have my own path stretching out before me, and missing Mom is part of that. I wonder about what she might have said to me and I think she would have told me, “Just keep going. Keep trusting God no matter what.”

Spring Cleaning You Life

What comes to mind when someone mentions spring cleaning? Maybe cleaning out the attic, washing windows, or finally opening up the windows and letting some air in! When we think about spring cleaning, we typically think of it as it applies to our homes. Why not apply a little “spring cleaning” to your life?

The Schedule

Your schedule is a great place to start. The school year is winding down and summer will be here before we know it. Now is the perfect time to evaluate your family’s schedules and tweak it for the coming warm weather months. Think about what activities and commitments you have during the spring and summer and then list all of them. This will allow you to uncover any potential scheduling conflicts ahead of time. Not to mention letting you make sure that your family still has plenty of free time in the calendar to enjoy the great weather!

The Meal Plan

Sure, soups and hearty casseroles are wonderful winter meals. Rising temperatures and a greater selection of fresh produce call for a revamped menu. Think salads and meals cooked on the grill! Hit up Pinterest or your cookbook collection if you need some new ideas for warm weather dinners.

The Exercise Routine

Whether you run marathons, or you’re just starting to incorporate exercise into your day, spring gives you the chance to take it outside! Grab the kids and take a walk. Explore some local bike or hiking trails. Take up geocaching. Pick a fun activity that you can do as a family and not only will your health benefit, but you’ll make some memories too.

The Heart

In the midst of all of our spring cleaning don’t neglect your heart! 1 Samuel 16:7 reminds us that, “Man does not see what the Lord sees,for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” (HCSB) Grab your Bible (and maybe a cup of tea or journal) and spend some time with God. Seek out what He is calling you to. Ask Him to show you areas of your life that still need a little “spring cleaning”. I’ve found that when my heart is truly following God, the rest of it tends to fall into place a little easier.

Now that you’ve finished your spring cleaning, open up the windows and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine!

60

My mom would have turned 60 today. It’s a little strange thinking about that because that last time that I saw her, she had just turned 54. So I find myself wondering about random little things…

IMG_2212[1]Would her hair be more gray than black now?

How many more laugh lines would she have accumulated?

Would she still perch her glasses on top of her head whenever she was reading or doing handwork?

Would she have a smart phone? (I seriously can’t imagine my mom liking smart phones!)

What would she think of e-books?

Would she still be sneaking sips of her coffee to my kids? (Pretty sure that’s a yes.)

I still miss her very much. Yet, I’m reminded that if I miss her this much, it’s because there are so many wonderful memories.

I’m reminded of a quote from Winnie the Pooh, “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Thoughts for Tuesday, February 24th

Outside my windows… the snow has reached the window in the office. At least it’s good insulation!

Inside my house… my IT staff and Mr. Q are building a stand to put our mailbox on. Why would they be doing it in the middle of the winter you ask? Because three times last week the snowplow creamed out mailbox and the last time it cleaned it off the post and crunched it up nicely. The idea is that a moveable stand will allow us to move it out of the way. We have the worst luck with mailboxes.

Counting 1000 gifts… thankful that I have some great memories…

Prayers of the heart… I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon. Those always make me nervous for some silly reason. I always pray a lot over doctor’s appointments!

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… Munchkin was quite excited to receive a magazine in the mail today! She’s reading it right now.

From my playlist… Time That is Left by Mark Schultz.

From my reading list… How to Catch a Prince. It’s the third book in the Royal Weddings series. Sounds like fluff, I know, but the books in the series all have a spiritual depth to them that I appreciate. This most recent book is my favorite though!

From my needlework basket… is it any surprise that I’m knitting mittens and wool socks?

In the learning room… I’m trying to come up with a fun book or project to break up the monotony of winter. Anyone have a great suggestion for me?

Random ramblings… Thinking about Mom this week. Her birthday was February 26th. I’ll always be thankful for that last birthday dinner and evening spent playing cards and laughing.

Profound ponderings… “Write hard and clear about what hurts.” – Ernest Hemingway

Thoughts for Tuesday, February 17th

Outside my windows… it’s very cold, and there’s a pretty frost pattern on the window by my desk this morning.

Inside my house… both coal and propane stoves are lit today. The wind has really been something else!

Counting 1000 gifts… co-workers who pray for each other.

Prayers of the heart… for friends who are traveling today.

What the (not quite so) little ones are up to… breakfast while wearing fedoras and marveling over how Mom can type without even looking at the keyboard.

From my playlist… Light it Up by for King and Country. This song spoke to me the first time that I ever heard it… it still does.

From my reading list… the most recent issue of Home Educating Family Magazine came! That always tops the reading list.

From my needlework basket… mittens for now, though I’m anxious to get back to the socks I was working on.

In the learning room… vacation this week, but I’ll still manage to sneak in a bit of learning. Someone recommended How the States Got Their Shapes on Netflix, so I think we’ll check it out this week.

Random ramblings… Winter seems to always bring chapped and irritated skin. I’ve been trying calendula oil on that this year, and it’s been working exceptionally well. You can buy it at the health food store or make your own by infusing the carrier oil of your choice with dried calendula. Just let it soak in a jar of oil for a week or two before straining the calendula out of the oil.

Profound ponderings… “Behind every successful woman, is a substantial amount of tea.” – Unknown

Caught on film… don’t forget to enter the Dear magazine giveaway this week!

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