Links for this Week


Great links in New Jersey, and here for you ….


If mornings are not your cup of tea, here is a great link from Lisa Byrne, guest writing over at Simple Mom, about 11 strategies for a morning routine when you can not wake up before the kids. Some of her tips were very helpful!

Stacey Karen is writing over at Keeper of the Home about 7 ways to add more veggies to meals you’re already cooking. Oh so sneaky and a must try!
I’ve also been following Crystal over at Money Saving Mom’s 4 weeks to fill your Freezer series. She has had some great (and simple) ideas for preparing for every meal in advance. Here is a list of her recipes (look on the right for the freezer-friendly list) so that you can save cooking time, too!
Hope you enjoy!!!


Hope you enjoy!

Gratitude on Monday, June 18, 2012

Credits to my Mom for taking an incredible picture on the NJ coast

Getting back to the gifts ….

#431: A mother’s helper during the summer

#432: The Well Trained Mind (by Susan Wise Bauer)

#433: Drying racks for all those swimsuits and towels

#434: Plan to Eat to help me get our meals on track and healthy

#435: Figuring out the perfect IV site for weekly treatments

#436: A husband who is the best Dad in the world … REALLY!

#437: The joy of planning trips to come

#438: Rearranging the house and finding new space

#439: New light fixtures … so snazzy

#440: Getting back to counting the gifts

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. ” (Philippians 4:4 ESV)


If you’re reading this, share one thing you are grateful for in the comments!



For more gratitude, join the community at Ann Voskamp’s website ….

Gratitude on Monday, May 28th, 2012

Gratitude for a great Homeschool Conference ….

#421: A team of volunteers that make it happen

#422: air conditioning (a bunch of it)

#423: a board of leaders who commit time, energy, and resources for others

#424: seeing friends who are starting, and those finishing homeschooling

#425: A blogger lounge with extra power cords

#426: Meeting Sarita Holzmann, a distinct highlight

#427: Bluntness from Voddie Baucham

#428: Practical ideas from Susan Chrisman and Carol Barnier

#429: Freedom here in North Carolina to homeschool as we wish

#430: Being here together, as a family, having a blast

 The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel:  To know wisdom and instruction,   to understand words of insight,  to receive instruction in wise dealing,   in righteousness, justice, and equity;  to give prudence to the simple,   knowledge and discretion to the youth—  Let the wise hear and increase in learning,   and the one who understands obtain guidance,  to understand a proverb and a saying,   the words of the wise and their riddles. (Proverbs 1:1-6 ESV)

Have you started recording, capturing the gifts?

What are you celebrating today?

For more gratitude, join the community at Ann Voskamp’s website ….

NCHE: Why I’m not at a seminar right now

Here are at the NCHE Conference, there are three keynote speeches (Thurs. night, Fri. morning, and Sat. morning). There are 11 workshop sessions. During each of those sessions, there are up to 13 choices of seminars to attend.

Information is in absurd abundance.

There are 13 places that I could be (not including the Book Fair). The topics are amazingly varied. Here is a sampling from this hour:

1. “Doing the Right Thing: Recapturing a Biblical Ethic for this Generation” (John Stonestreet)

2. “Don’t miss the Gift in this Child” (Carol Barnier)

3. “Homeschooling High Schoolers – Yes, You Can” (Heidi St.John)

4. “A Home Educator’s Guide to Scheduling and Planning” (Susan Chrisman)

5. “Faith and Art” (Charlie and Ruth Jones)

6. “Apprenticeship Before (and as a Possible Alternative to) College” (Ken Auer)

7. “Ten Big Questions Answered from the Bible” (Charlie Liebert)

8. “Homeschooled from the Beginning – WHat to Do when your Children are Young” (Melanie Young)

9. “Overruled” (Video)

10. “The Struggling Reader” (Kristen Eckenwiler)

11. “Raising Leaders one Boy Scout, American Heritage Girl and 4Her at a Time” (Sharon and James Gibson/Homeschool Legacy)

12. “What is a Classical Education?” (Paul Schaeffer/Memoria Press)

13. “BiblioPlan for Families” (Julie Nalle)

I am not in a seminar, though.

My original plan was to attend a seminar on scheduling by Susan Chrisman. (If you’ve read some of my earlier Conference posts, you know that I am a fan of hers.) But, I came to the realization that I don’t need more information on scheduling.

I need to sit down and write out a plan for a day and stick with it.

I have read books on scheduling, attended seminars, even practiced scheduling before. Honestly, I don’t need to learn more about scheduling, I need to just do it.

Acquiring information is so much easier than acting on what you know you need to do.

Markedly, there are times to acquire new skills, new information. In our world, though, resources are rarely the issue. Analysis paralysis is the more serious problem.

So, where do you need to act?

NCHE: “Read to your Children!” (An Interview with Sarita Holzmann of Sonlight curriculum)

Certainly one of the highlights of today at NCHE was the chance to talk for a few minutes with the founder and president of Sonlight curriculum, Sarita Holzmann.

In all the years that we have been going to conference, this is the first year that she has attended. Interestingly enough, when I mentioned that fact, she answered that this conference is her fourth one …. EVER. I was surprised to hear that. She mentioned that when her kids were younger, she wanted to be home with them. Time since then has been spent on the development and improvement of Sonlight materials. (On a sidenote: This year, Sonlight is introducing a new round of improvements, the first major ones since 1997.)

To begin, I inquired what Sarita is reading these days. She mentioned just starting a book about God and politics, which sounds very timely for this election year. The other book that she mentioned was one called Truth in Transformation (Mangalwadi). As she described it, the book is about an Indian author’s view of Western culture and how we view Truth, all told from a Christian perspective. It sounds like a fascinating read!

My second question was “What do you enjoy about coming to conferences?” She mentioned that getting to meet the families that are homeschooling and using Sonlight is definitely a highlight.

I continued by asking, “What do you wish young homeschoolers knew?” “Read aloud to your kids!” She quickly answered. “Read any style, any material!” Sarita suggested that we read every subject with our children. The second thing that she recommended was to look at alternative views and learn about them. There are some critics of Sonlight who have criticized their use of some books with controversial subjects. Sarita encouraged home educators to take these books and use them as a platform for discussion and instruction for their children on difficult subjects.

I wrapped up our talk with the most difficult question for any reader, “What are some of your favorite books for children?” Between us, we decided to go ahead and limit our span to the elementary years.

Her favorites include:

Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cry (Taylor)

The House at Pooh Corner (Milne)

The Great Turkey Walk (Karr)

Twenty and Ten (Bishop/Joly)

Sarita impressed me as being down to earth and genuinely interested in both the quality books that her company promotes as well as the people who read them. A great combination for any homeschooler!


Click HERE to hear from Sarita herself about the heart behind Sonlight.

If you haven’t had the chance to learn more about Sonlight, I can highly recommend their quality living books. Click HERE for more information.

If you want to read one of my recent posts about reading a Sonlight book together as a family, click HERE.

Treating your Home like a Garden (Part One)

It came to me today …. as I stepped over another day’s worth of books, toys, and sticky floors. It wasn’t just today’s mess. It was today’s, and yesterday’s and the day before.

It dawned on me ….. my house is looking a lot like an overgrown garden.

Have you seen those? They speak of neglect and  there is so much potential, yet it is all hidden behind overgrowth and weeds. (Not too unlike my piles and dust!)

So here is step one in my four part plan for taking it back ….

(*Won’t you join me?*)

Step 1: Develop a plan.

Those who are truly good at making a fruitful garden have a plan. They peruse the catalogs in winter. They keep notes on plants, locations, and needs. They learn about being a better gardener.
In the same way, we need to have a plan for our physical space. This can fall in to one of two categories – usefulness and pleasure. Let me give you an example. Our dining room doubles as both the school room for our homeschool and our dining room. There are functionality issues for the school materials as well as asthetic for the place that we eat and entertain in. As the homemaker, I need to look at both sides, especially for areas that have multiple uses. Both are important pieces to a successful home. You can be organized and depressed at what you see. On the other hand, you can have lots of beautiful things that you can’t see for the piles covering them.
Here are some questions to ask:
* How do I see myself using my home?
* How do I want others to feel when they are visiting?  (This could be for a meal or might be family that come to visit for a few days)
* What resources (financial, time, inspiration, etc) do I need to improve my home?
* What dreams do other family members have for our home (especially your husband)?
* What homes do I enjoy being in? What makes them inviting to me?
 “The wisest of women builds her house,   but folly with her own hands tears it down.” (Proverbs 14:1 ESV)
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5 ESV)
 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. ” (Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV)
Optional Action Item:
Jot down the answers to these in a file on your computer or on a piece of paper. If organization is an issue, tape this in a noticeable place until you can take the next step.
I would love to hear your thoughts and support you!
Share in the comments!

5 min. Friday: Perspective

I think that I’m coming to the conclusion that perspective is a mirage.

Somehow, in our finite state, we are unable to truly see what is right in front of us. The day to day is so clear and the big picture is something only grasped in hindsight.

I remember the chorus of homeschool Moms telling me as the mother of a preschooler to just “Relax” and “Enjoy” time with my first born. I had no clue what they were talking about. Wasn’t there something that she should be learning? Weren’t we already behind? All of her friends had gone off to preschool and were learning colors and letters and such. I felt like just sitting back and playing all day would be wasting the moment.

Ah, the wonder of perspective now is that I would probably tell a young Mom the same thing now.

What has changed?

I now see how formative the preschool and toddler years are for forging your relationship with your child. How unique is your time to love, and learn to be loved by this new little creature. It is a special time to teach habits and obedience.

Soon enough, life will whisk all of you along and you will wish that you had spent more time …. “Relaxing” and “Enjoying”.

So now, I look ahead to those Moms who are ahead of me again, with pre-teens, and I ask “What is your perspective on the elementary years?”

Because I know that I will need to hear, listen and heed.

Maybe perspective is really a gift received.

If you’re interested in joining in the 5 minute Fridays writing hosted by The Gypsy Mama, click HERE.

free writing, composition, life lessons,

Gratitude on Monday, May 14th, 2012

Ten Things I love about my Mom …

#411: She can do almost every yoga pose. I know she’s going to get that head stand very soon!

#412: I know she reads my Blog and Facebook posts carefully.

#413: She cares for my family just as much as I do.

#414: She is secretly slipping my Dad healthy foods.

#415: She loves to travel.

#416: She has a keen eye for beauty.

#417: She introduced me to chai tea.

#418: She is honest about her thoughts on modern art. (My Mom and I recently caught this fascinating snippet on 60 minutes about the whacky world of Modern Art. Click HERE. )

#419: She shuttled and paid for a zillion music lessons.

#420: She never laughed or rejected the idea that I had of being the first female secretary general of the United Nations when I was young.

 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, (Philippians 1:3 ESV)”

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!

Have you started recording, capturing the gifts?

What are you celebrating today?

For more gratitude, join the community at Ann Voskamp’s website ….

Links for this Week


This week, I thought that I would share some of my new favorite websites that I’m quickly growing to love.

Maybe you will, too!



Sally Clarkson (personally blogging at I Take Joy) has branched out to include 20 other Mom writers in this encouraging Blog about purposeful motherhood. Right now, they are also hosting a book study of Sally’s book The Mission of Motherhood. There is great encouragement in joining with other women who are walking a similar road and remind us where to keep our focus.


Life … Your Way

I haven’t been able to really explore this full website because I keep spending my time in the Printables section. There are so many useful tools to organize your meals, time, shopping, etc. Here’s the direct link to the Printables page.


Way of Life Coaching

About 6 years, I was part of a small group of women that experienced a course called Promised Land Living. PLL learns from your past, sorts out your present and helps you to chart your way to true living … the living that the Lord promised to us as we walk in Him. I’m so excited to see how this ministry is now utilizing some new tools that allow them to open up their coaching to those around the world. You could be part of the next group!


Hope you enjoy!







5 min. Friday: Taking a trip on the couch … Together

book, read-aloud, homeschool, classic


This weeks Five-Minute word: TOGETHER

I’ve  been thinking a lot about read-alouds lately – how wonderful they are for our family.

This past week, my husband finished reading Twenty-One Balloons (by William_Pene_du_Bois). We had a blast visiting the Island of Krakatoa with Professor William Waterman Sherman, all from the comfort of our couch. There was mystery and intrique as we wondered what would happen. We knew that Krakatoa was an active volcano.

I think back to all of the fabulous books that we have read TOGETHER, as a family. Curled up on the couch or over a meal. Yes, there are times when we are so captivated by a book that we listen to it non-stop through the day in any way that we can. There are people and places that we fell in love with, lessons that we learned right along with our heroes or heroines.

Reading together is like taking a vacation, but with the added guarantee of surprise, intrique and fascinating people. It becomes a shared experience, a shared memory that we all have. Our books have become so treasured  because they represent a special time when we all were together, reading and laughing and even, crying.

We can’t wait to start new stories and take another trip on the couch …. TOGETHER!

** Just a sidenote: These are great books, regardless of your age! I wish that I would have read these as a child, but I can tell you that as an adult, I’m having a ball reading them now! You might, too! **

To see the books that we are reading this year, click HERE for kindergarten and HERE for 2nd grade.

To learn more about our homeschool curriculum, Sonlight, which is book-based, click HERE.

If you’re interested in joining in the 5 minute Fridays writing hosted by The Gypsy Mama, click HERE.

free writing, composition, life lessons,

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