How MY Home Schoolers Measure Up

how_my_homeschoolers_measure_upWhew! I could breathe a sigh of relief. Looking over that clever diagram of how home schoolers are measuring up, I could tell we were doing fairly well and I felt encouraged by how successful home schoolers are doing as a whole. Then, a thought occurred to me… This isn’t why I chose to home school. It doesn’t matter how others are doing. What matters is how my home schoolers measure up. Not to someone else, not to a diagram, and not to a standardized test. Rather, how they measure up to their own capabilities.

I can see how this diagram, and others like it, come in handy. There are people who need to see the numbers before they will believe that home schooling truly is and can be a success. Others need encouragement, seeing the evidence of their hard work. I could see myself using diagrams like this, presenting it to those who might have questions or doubt the outcome of learning at home.

I need to issue a cautionary note though, more to myself than anyone else. My advice is this: ” Self… this is not the measure of your child!” There, I said it. The minute I start spending more time focusing on whether or not we meet someone else’s standards for my family, rather than on what they need, that is when I lose my way. This isn’t a competition between them and anyone else; they are to achieve at their own pace and in their own 2-homeschooling-by-the-numbersway.

May we also point out that while the stats and information are helpful and interesting, this tool should not be used as a means to bash our public school friends over the head. Homeschooling is a calling. While we have chosen not to put our children in public school for various reasons, we understand and respect not every family has the ability to make this choice; nor the desire to do so. Let us not use this information as weapon, but a means of communicating the value in what we do.

Diagrams can be helpful and fun. However, they are not a guide for living. I will not panic if my child is a little below the “standard” and I am not going to get puffed up with pride if my child “excels”. I am going to accept my children for what they are, helping them to become the best they can be. After all, the measure of my child’s success is not going to be found on any chart. But in a life well lived.

“But let each one test his own work, and then his reason to boast will be in himself alone and not in his neighbor.”
~Galatians 6:4

Your Turn!: What do you use to help measure your children’s achievements?

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Review: The Great Escape by M.J.Thomas

https://thehomeschoolmomblog.wordpress.comIt’s here. It’s finally here! You’ll forgive us if we’re jumping for joy and ridiculously excited to share with you The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls (Book #3): The Great Escape, the newest release in The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series from M.J. Thomas and Worthy Kids/Ideals. Our copy arrived a few days ago and we can’t put it down.

Worthy Publishing Group is an established book company whose mission is, “To help people experience the heart of God.” Of their five distinct imprints and vast selection of titles, Worthy Kids/Ideals creates vibrant children’s literature including The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls. The series began with THESE two amazing stories, and is followed by The Great Escape.

“Join Peter, Mary, and their dog Hank as they discover ancient scrolls and travel back in time to stories in the Bible. They find a world filled with wonder, adventure, and danger. They must search for clues to solve the secret of the scrolls … or they will be stuck there forever… Perfect for emerging readers ages 6 – 9, homeschooling families, and lovers of adventure, The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls brings beloved Bible stories to adventurous life.”
~ Secret of the Hidden Scrolls

In our newest story, The Great Escape, Peter, Mary and Hank find themselves transported to the deserts of Ancient Egypt where they meet the Pharaoh’s daughter and experience firsthand the ten plagues God brought upon the land in order to free His people. Along the way they meet an old enemy hiding behind a new identity; one who will stop at nothing to prevent the children from completing their mission and returning home. Together the children discover, “GOD IS POWERFUL AND WILL SET YOU FREE”! Hidden Scrolls

I’ll be honest. One of the main reasons this mama is so excited for the release of Secret of the Hidden Scrolls: The Great Escape is that now my eleven-year-old son can stop asking me – every. five. minutes. – when his book will finally be here. While the official release date was the first week of April, an advanced copy was kindly sent our way just a tad early. Thus the minute the calendar said March, the mailman’s deliveries were met with anticipation. The moment it arrived he pounced on it and barely let it go long enough for his mum to read it herself. What a fantastic problem, don’t you agree? I love watching my children enjoy good, Bible based literature and Secret of the Hidden Scrolls is everything lovely.

Specifically targeted for 6-9 year olds, homeschoolers, and those who love adventure, our family has found Secret of the Hidden Scrolls to be a perfect fit. Our son was able to finish his first read-through in approximately one hour. (I say his first because, since, he’s read through it several more times. Which goes to show just how much we love this series!)  We were especially blessed to find we received a signed copy of the The Great Escape, which meant the world to my son. As with the first two books in the series, we appreciated the inclusion at the back of the book complete with specific references to Scripture covered and notes on the story itself.

Hidden+Scroll+Activity+Sheet_ScrollStealerIn addition to enjoying this fantastic read, we made sure to visit The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls‘ website. There we were able to sign up to be part of the Secret of the Hidden Scrolls Club. We just know it’s going to be fun! We were also able to enjoy the Activities page and read the Story Behind the Story. (For those just discovering this series, Secret of the Hidden Scrolls website is also the perfect place to preview each story or order a set for the family!)

We are absolutely excited about this book, and the entire Secret of the Hidden Scrolls series. Now, just like Mr. Thomas’ son, Peter, we’re anxiously awaiting another one! We’re not sure when it’s coming, but we feel certain another read is on its way. Until then, it looks like we’ll just have to re-read and be patient.

If you’d like to learn more about The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls by M.J. Thomas or WorthyKids/Ideals please visit them at their website and on FacebookTwitter or Instagram!

FTC Disclaimer

Your Turn!: In The Great Escape, Peter and Mary discover firsthand what it must have been like enduring each of the ten Egyptian plagues. Given the last plague as the worst, which of the other nine plagues would have affected you most?

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Conquering the Wandering Mind

Conquering_Wandering_MindsI’ve called his name four times now, hands waving before his book work. The boy is smart. He could complete this lesson in two minutes flat – if only I could divert his attention to his work. He comes back to the present only for a moment before returning to his imaginings. With each ticking of the clock, I wonder what I’m doing wrong and how I can help my child conquer this challenge.

Understandably, this situation is just as frustrating for our son as it is for me. Being the last one to finish lessons, and constantly having to hear your name is irritating. We’re doing our best to work through this struggle together and learn keys to succeed in this area. Diet, exercise, routine, and using essential oils is helping. How we homeschool has been reviewed as well. Less independent work is in order; being replaced with one-on-one lessons with a parent sitting close at hand verbally offering encouragement.

Do any of your children battle this on a daily basis? We’d love to hear your thoughts regarding this area of homeschooling!

  • Are there clear symptoms of when your child’s mind has gone wandering?
  • What helps you remain calm and help meet your child’s need when this becomes a daily/hourly concern?
  • Have you identified the cause of their distraction? How have you done this?
  • Do foods affect your child’s focus?
  • Will routine and/or exercise help focus increase?
  • Do you find this more prevalent in your sons than daughters?
  • What helps your child to better focus?
  • Are there essential oils you’re using to help your child focus?

We have by no means conquered this challenge. There are days we cruise through without any difficulty, and days when keeping eyes on the page leads to anger. Through God’s grace we’re moving forward, learning what works for his body and mind. Amidst the frustration, it helps to remember this not personal or purposeful. Our son is not being rebellious, his mind is merely occupied elsewhere. Together we’re discovering fun, meaningful ways to redirect his attention to the present and offering grace when a momentary whim takes his mind on a journey elsewhere.

There is beauty to be found in these moments, even those taken in the imagination. May we have patience to find it, wisdom to see learning opportunity everywhere, and gentleness in leading our children through daily responsibility.

“That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,…”
~ Ephesians 1:17-18

Your Turn!: That’s quite a list of questions we’ve asked… Don’t feel as if you need to answer every one. Pick one which resonates with you, or one in which you’ve seen growth, and share with us!

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Easter Fun Series!

CG_Easter_logo

“On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed [is] the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.“
~ John 12:12-15

Aside from Christmas, Easter is the most significant holiday for Christians. This is more than just an opportunity collect eggs, wear cute bunny ears, and hoard candy. Easter is amazing, redeeming grace. For our family, this is a time to put aside outside responsibilities and simply focus on the true meaning of this holy week. From this Sunday till next, we will focus on all things Easter.

It is our desire to use this week not only for encouraging our family, but to learn from yours! Join us as we focus on the true meaning of this special holiday. We hope to share some of our favorite games, activities, crafts, and recipes which all point towards Christ and His love for us.

Easter Fun: Easter Week Begins
Easter Fun: Resurrection Eggs
Easter Fun: Books
Easter Fun: Egg Decorating
Easter Fun: Resurrection Garden
Easter Fun: Resurrection Rolls

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,”
~ John 11:25

Time to Chime In! : What is your family’s favorite homeschool resource for learning the true meaning of Easter?

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Do You Feel Like a Ping-Pong Ball?

do_you_feel_like_a_pingpong_ballOur neighbors have five kids. At one point they homeschooled all five, each child having completely separate curriculum. I learned a lot from our afternoons together. One basic lesson l learned was that having five kids took a lot of work. I could bounce around like a ping-pong ball all day or find a better way to make this happen. For our family, the best method of tackling the concern of teaching four kids is to do as much as possible together, as a group. If we can learn something as a family, that is what we do.

While there are some areas of learning which require individual study, mainly grammar and arithmetic, there are just as many – if not more – we can do together. Bible, history, science, geography, economics, and logic are all areas of learning we not only do as a group, but have more fun doing so. Thus, we spend the bulk of our day learning together.

How can all four of our kids, who happen to all be two years apart in age, learn the same material when they aren’t the in same grade? Good question!

Grade, Smade – Exactly who determines what gets taught at each ‘grade level’? Why can’t a five-year-old learn biology and a fifteen year old study life science? What’s important isn’t the ‘grade’ our child is in, but that the material being covered is done thoroughly and in such a way our child understands. I would also encourage us to challenge our children in their learning. This might mean a higher level for our younger kids and a more basic for our older; each child should be taught at their level, not their ‘grade’.

Middle Ground – To help all our children follow the lessons (the littles not being overwhelmed and the older ones bored), we try to reach for the middle. By teaching to the average, the littles are slightly challenged, but not lost in the mix. This also allows for the older children to participate in the bulk of our group activities, while additional assignments and projects are given to increase their learning in this area.

What, Again? – Once you’ve been homeschooling a while, you start to notice something. History repeats itself; so does science, literature, grammar, and almost everything else. We cover certain aspects of science in first grade, right? Guess what. We covered them again in second, with a little more added. Oh, and we did it again in third, then fourth, and yet again in fifth. Perhaps we should stress less about skipping a ‘grade’ with our kids, missing out on material, and just focus on them learning the concepts we’re teaching now. Odds are, whatever we didn’t get this year is going to be covered again next, and the year after that.

What about high school? Not much has changed. There is no reason our eight year old can’t learn a little biology along with our big girl. He might not participate in all activities, but he’ll have projects of his own. Our big girl might have a few additional projects tailored just for her, but this will teach her to work independently. There is no reason the bulk of our studies can’t still be enjoyed as a group, it just takes a little imagination and dedication. In the long run, it’s still less work and more financially feasible.

Do I still have days when I feel like a ping-pong ball? Absolutely! That’s bound to happen when you have four kids, homeschool, run a business, and a household. However, we like to keep the bouncing to a minimum and do as much as we can together. It’s less work for mommy and, frankly, it’s just plain fun!

Your Turn!: I used ping-pong as an illustration of what my day can sometimes feel like. If you had to compare your day with a game, which would it be?

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Taking Care of Us…

taking_care_of_usIf you’ve ever been flying you’ll remember receiving the necessary safety speech at the beginning of the flight, “In the event of an emergency, oxygen masks will drop down from the ceiling, ready for use.” As parents, our first instinct would be to put the mask on our children and protect them from harm. The exact opposite is true. The mask first needs to be put on you and then on your children. Why? Because airlines have embraced one important fact: We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of our kids. We need to take care of ourselves so we can take care of our kids. We can’t help them if we’re dead.

Sadly, this fact escapes us in everyday life, doesn’t it? We tend to put our own needs – Note, I said needs and not wants. – behind everyone else’s. We eat last. We sleep less. We hardly remember to drink two cups of water a day, much less ten. We push ourselves to the limit to get things done. We overburden ourselves with ‘responsibility’, and we go until we drop. While I find it admirable, caring for others, we also need to be taking care of ourselves.

Eat – Let me be the first to admit, I don’t eat enough. And when I do, I don’t eat the right things. For years, I lived on Snickers and Coke. (And still paying the consequences.) If we aren’t feeding our bodies the right food, how can we expect our bodies to function properly? If we aren’t functioning properly, how can we be expected to care for others? Eat a healthy, balanced diet and do it regularly.

Drink – Yup; I’m bad at this, too. It wasn’t until I started making myself sick from lack of hydration that I started to take this seriously. Do yourself a favor… drink some water!

Sleep – Most of us don’t get enough of this either. If you can’t get eight solid hours during the night, consider taking short, afternoon naps. If you’re having trouble sleeping (which I do on occasion), narrow down the reasons why. Does your body need nourishment or hydration? Perhaps you need a little exercise? Which leads us to…

Exercise – You’d be amazed what just a twenty-minute walk everyday can do for your health and your mental well-being. If getting out of the house isn’t an option, find some form of activity which will get your heart pumping and your body moving. Play tag with the kids! They’ll think you’re loads of fun and you’ll get the exercise you need.

Time Out – Even if we’re doing everything else we’re supposed to, sometimes we just need a break. Affecting more our mental heath than physical (although it can start affecting our bodies), stress takes a toll. Don’t be afraid, or ashamed, to take a step back when needed. Ask for space. When you’ve had an opportunity to just breathe, you’ll find your able to function more efficiently.

Spiritual Filling – If we’re running low, it implies we need to be filled. Praying, reading the Word of God, and seeking fellowship with like-minded believers in order to be renewed and edified is key.

Conversation – I don’t know about you, but just hearing a friendly voice keeps me balanced. Sometimes we just need to talk with others who understand where we are and hear their wisdom on how to move forward. Never be ashamed to call on friends and ask to talk. Being able to express ourselves and unload the doubts praying on our minds maintains our mental health.

Seek Help – So, you’ve tried everything else and something still feels off? Call the doctor! It isn’t your imagination, it isn’t you being dramatic; there is probably a very logical reason for your feeling ‘down’. It might be hormones; it might be thyroid issues; it might be a vitamin deficiency (which is what mine was); or it could be something more serious. It’s better to have a professional weigh in on the situation and set your mind at ease. Have your family doctor do a quick check and let you know what’s really going on.

When we remember to eat, drink, sleep, and take time for ourselves, we better serve those around us. When our bodies are healthy, we are better able to minister with grace, mercy, and love. Taking care of your needs isn’t selfish, it’s essential. To take care of others, you sometimes must first take care of you.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
~ I Corinthians 6:19-20

Your Turn!: Which are you most likely to skip out on: food, sleep, or exercise?

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You Talk Too Much!

you_talk_too_muchOur children, with the exception of one, are very outgoing. They talk easily amongst their friends, family, and even with new acquaintances. Even the one who is seriously shy often opens up after a few moments. They like to talk about what they are learning and ask others what they are being taught. Our children will generally carry on a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere, on almost any topic. While we encourage our children to share, it’s also important they learn to listen.

One of the subtle arts of parenting is teaching our children proper communication. Yes, to share. But also to listen. Learning when to speak and when to remain silent can be a challenge. One some of us adults – myself included – are still learning to master. Perhaps we could all use a refresh in this area?

Learning to Listen First – Speaking is the easy part. Speaking well harder. Not talking and listening would be the biggest challenge. Listening not for an opening during which we can finally speak, but genuinely caring what the other person is saying and giving them the entirely of our mind. Oh, to perfect this step alone would be a dream.

Learning to Ask Questions  Often the best way to open doors of communication is not by telling, but by asking. By seeking information from others we encourage them to talk with us and share their lives.

Learning to Identify Those Who Will Receive – Let’s face it, not everyone wants the entirety of our plans for summer vacation. Nor should they. Some are not ready to hear our fantastic homeschool adventures. And not every possible debate needs our input. We need to weigh our words; identifying what should be shared when, and with whom. It’s not a matter of other people not caring, as much as our caring to give people what God has directed in His timing.

Learning When to Speak – Equally challenging is knowing when to finally open our mouths. May the Lord give us wisdom and grace!

Learning How to Speak – Sometimes sharing can be done with pride, a smug attitude, or a sense of “knowing all about it”. It can also be harsh or bitter. We want our words to be kind and humble always.

Learning When Someone Wants Help – Confession. I like to help. It’s taken me some time to realize not everyone who is expressing frustration or anxiety really wants constructive input. Sometimes they just need a listening ear. May we be that which is needed most.

Thank God for close friends who make communication easy. We are incredibly blessed by those few who allow us to vent when needed, either when upset or ridiculously excited. We never have to weigh my words, calculate if we’ve spoken too much, or worry about interrupting. And our friends know they can count on us, too!

When addressing the rest of the world, may we err on the side of caution more than not; choosing our few words with care and giving those we meet Jesus. It’s more important they see Him and hear of His good deeds than anything we could possibly offer. When in doubt, we follow this sage advice, “Even a fool, when he keeps silent, is considered wise;…”

“When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but whoever restrains his lips is prudent.”
~ Proverbs 10:19

Your Turn!: This does beg the question… How much talking is too much?

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Do My Children REALLY Need Help?

do_my_children_really_need_help Our kids are usually pretty good about doing their lessons; most of the time. However, every once in a while, these kiddos decide they just don’t want to do the work and would rather try to con mom into giving them the answer instead. It can be hard to determine whether they actually need help or are just being lazy.

Normally, I love helping my kids. I help them cook, clean, learn new skills, and have fun with them. The one time I won’t help them is when they aren’t really asking for help, they are looking to get out of work. What’s a mom to do?

Look and Observe – Before simply giving my child an answer to their question, I first want to be sure I’m paying attention and understand if my child needs help. More often than not they know what to do. It’s just faster to ask mom. However, if there’s a genuine need, I want to give them my full attention so we can master this area of learning.

It’s New – Once I look at the work, I need to determine whether or not this is a new skill. Sometimes they need the help and others they are merely intimidated by the newness and want me to tackle it for them. I will walk them through the problem and guide them to finding the answer for themselves. More than likely, they’ll also see additional practice in this area over the next few weeks, just to make sure we master this skill set.

It’s Been a While – Especially after several weeks off (during holiday months), coming back to book work can be a challenge. While these skills may have been taught in the past, it’s been a bit and my kids could use a little help with review. I won’t give them the answers, but I will walk them through the process and guide them to the answer. Additional work over the course of the week might also be an option.

It’s a Lot – Yeah, they know how to do the work; trust me. However, the problems staring them in the face are daunting. The thought of having to work through ten long division problems just isn’t appealing. (And why would it be?) When this concern hits us, I weigh the skill being taught. If this is a skill they’ve done many times, I will usually reduce the amount to be done and watch as they work through the rest. If it’s new, I sit next to them and we walk through all of them with lots of encouragement from mom.

They’re Being Lazy – It happens, even with my kids. The kids have decided they don’t want to do their lessons and figure if they nag mom enough she’ll give in and, in frustration, pick up the pencil to show them how easy it is to work the problem. (It’s been known to happen. Sad, I know.) Sure, I could let it slide and let them do the work another day or pick up the pencil and do the work for them, as mentioned, but what would this teach them? Our kids need to learn that not all work is easy. There are going to be days when we don’t want to finish the work, but that is part of maturing. At that point, the lesson is no longer about the work in front of them, but about teaching them diligence and good work ethic. I will encourage them, but finish the work they will and without me writing the answers in for them!

I Help – Let’s face it, at times we all need help. If the help needed isn’t a matter of shirking responsibility, mommy is more than willing to help. All they have to do is ask!

As parents we want to help our children. Sometimes helping our children means teaching them to help themselves, gaining independence and confidence. I will help our children, if I can, but doing work for them is where I draw the line. Some things they need to do themselves.

“Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us.”
~ Titus 2:7-8

Your Turn!: How do you determine the difference between your kids needing help and them trying to shirk responsibility?

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Our January Reads

our_january_readsThe new year is underway and it’s been a while since we’ve shared what’s recently hit our reading shelf. It has been a wonderful few months of reading, learning, and increasing in wisdom. Our list has a few reads which were recommended for personal development, and others which added to our learning fun. All were an adventure!

We’ve broken down the list into categories and included our personal rating from zero to five stars. To read more about a particular book, simply click the title!

Books for Adults

  • Of Mess and Moxie (Jen Hatmaker) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- Jen Hatmaker, beloved author,mess_and_moxie Big Sister Emeritus, and Chief BFF, offers another round of hilarious tales, frank honesty, and hope for the woman who has forgotten her moxie.
  • People of the Book (Geraldine Brooks) ⭐⭐⭐ – From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of March, the journey of a rare illuminated manuscript through centuries of exile and war.
  • Man’s Search for Meaning (Viktor E. Frankl) ⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl’s memoir has riveted generations of readers with its descriptions of life in Nazi death camps and its lessons for spiritual survival.

Learning Books for the Family

  • Welcome to New Zealand: A Nature Journal (Sandra Morris) ⭐⭐⭐ – A gorgeous guide to creating a nature journal that will inspire kids around the world to chronicle what they see in their own backyards.
  • Stupendous Science: 70 Super Cool Experiments You Can Do At Home (Rob Beattie & Sam Peet) ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ – Learn to make ice cream with salt, a book_of_bonessmartphone projector, a lava lamp and more with this brilliant book of simple home experiments!
  • Seek and Find: National Parks ⭐⭐ – Travel through twelve of the most-visited national parks in North America.
  • Storyworlds: Nature (Thomas Hegbrook) ⭐⭐- Explore the beauty and wonder of nature in this wordless picture book-and let your imagination bring everything to life!
  • In Focus, 360 Degrees (Libby Walden) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Ten illustrators take a complete look at the world around us, traveling the globe to find a fresh perspective.
  • Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures (Emily Hawkins) ⭐⭐⭐- From the team behind the best-selling Atlas of Adventures comes this prehistoric journey of discovery.
  • Maps (Aleksandra Mizielinska & Daniel Mizielinski) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Much more than an ordinary atlas, this book of maps is a visual feast for readers of all ages, with lavishly drawn illustrations from the incomparable Mizielinskis.
  • The Book of Bones: 10 Record Breaking Animals(Gabrielle Balkan)⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐- It’s a book of world records… of bones! Guess whose bones are the longest, shortest, heaviest, spikiest, and more. With touchable skeletons!

Storybooks

  • The Wonderling (Mira Bartok) ⭐⭐- Mira Bartok tells the story of Arthur, a shy, fox-like foundling with only one ear and a desperate desire to belong, as he seeks his destiny.
  • Brave Red, Smart Frog (Emily Jenkins) ⭐⭐⭐- Step into a wintry forest where seven iconic fairy tales unfold, retold with keen insight and touches of humor. language_of_thorns
  • The Book of Dragons (E. Nesbit) ⭐⭐- Dragons — of all sorts — make for marvelous fun, and this collection of madcap tales is filled with them.
  • The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine (Mark Twain & Philip Stead) ⭐- A never-before-published, previously unfinished Mark Twain children’s story is brought to life by Caldecott Medal winners Philip Stead and Erin Stead.
  • The Language of Thorns (Leigh Bardugo) ⭐⭐⭐- Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.
  • The Magic of Misfits (Neil Patrick Harris) ⭐⭐- From beloved award-winning actor, Neil Patrick Harris, comes the magical first book in a new series with plenty of tricks up its sleeve.
  • The Glass Town Game (Catherynne M. Valente) ⭐⭐⭐⭐- Charlotte and Emily Brontë must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel.
  • Neverwhere (Neil Gaiman) – Under the streets of London there’s a place most people could never even dream of. A city of monsters and saints, murderers and angels, knights in armour and pale girls in black velvet. This is the city of the people who have fallen between the cracks.

How are we rating these reads? Good question! If the book has a five, whether learning or for fun, it’s clean and we want it on our bookshelf permanently. Four stars are sorely tempting us, but as our local library carries them we’re in luck. Three stars are worth a look, but we don’t see ourselves reading them too often. Two stars were entertaining, but once was enough. One star was interesting. And zero. Well, it’s zero.

What to be on the lookout for… Generally I enjoy Neil Gaiman books, but this one is especially dark and odd. The Magic of Misfits was a well-told story. I enjoyed it. Please note there is a character with two dads; it is not essential to the story but there none the less. The Atlas of Dinosaur Adventures was beautiful, but one should expect, “…millions of years ago…”. People of the Book was incredible! However, it did have a little language and, while no great detail is given, an affair is touched upon. Of Mess and Moxie is a riot, but not one for your teenage daughters. And, finally, The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine. It said Mark Twain. It also said previously unpublished. Maybe unpublished for a reason?

You may have noticed a few changes to our review format. It’s a work in progress, but one we hope will work better for you readers and us! Join us again next month as we explore a world of literature and the adventure of reading!

Your Turn!: What’s sitting on your bookshelf, waiting to be read this coming month?

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Why Aren’t My Kids Doing That?

Why_Arent_My_Kids_Doing_ThatDo you want a recipe for disaster? Come on, you know you’re a tad curious. Here you go… Take a well-intentioned and involved parent. Give them social media, opportunity to compare themselves to lovely but very active friends, and kids who enjoy doing things. Heap on a bit of nagging guilt they aren’t doing enough, and then set them loose. Before long said parent will start asking themselves the inevitable question, “Why aren’t my kids doing that?” And there you go!

I’ll be the first to admit I am totally speaking to myself on this matter. I enjoy being active. I hate the notion of missing out on an incredible opportunity. I want my kids to be able to do everything and anything their little hearts desire. Well, maybe not everything, but everything good. There in lies the trouble. How do I determine what is good for my children? Not everything is black and white. This isn’t necessarily a moral issue, but one of wisdom. Just because Johnny is in basketball doesn’t mean my little man needs this. Or wants this. Or that we can afford it. Or that we have the time. There is much to be considered. The same goes for homeschooling. That curriculum – field trip, academic course, college prep class, etc. – highly recommended by my community might be lovely, just not for us.

Before we bury ourselves under mounds of guilt or stress our families, perhaps the better question to ask would be whether or not our kids should be doing that. Whatever that is. Instead, we often spend too much of our time comparing ourselves to others and attempting to add yet another thing to our ever-growing list of to-do’s. And should we discover we can’t do that then parental guilt sets in.

When I’m tempted to travel this path of destruction, may the Lord remind me of these few things:

He Hears – Not my complaining mind you. (Although He is too often forced to hear me groan.) The Lord hears my heart! He knows my anxiety stems from a desire to minister to my babies and give them what is best.

He Understands – That disappointment and stress I’m feeling seems overwhelming, but He knows what I’m going through. He also understands better than I what is best for my children.

I Cannot Do it All, Nor Am I Being Asked To – This post is not being written by Supergirl, no matter how much I’d like it to be so. I need to stop expecting to function at ridiculous levels of busy and wearing that badge of honor. Then remember the Lord isn’t asking this of me either.

I Am Me – Simple, right? I wish! There are times I have to force myself to remember this. I am not you any more than you are me. Or that family down the street with the perfect lawn. Nor the homeschool family in the community who seems to be excelling with flying colors. I am not them. I am me. And all God asks is that I be what He wants.

There is a Time for Everything – Just because we aren’t doing that right now, doesn’t mean we won’t ever do it. It needs to be in God’s timing or I don’t want to move. God’s timing is always best.

This Has No Power Over Me – That nagging guilt? The stress of doing everything for all my people? I don’t have to claim it or keep it. By the power and the grace of God, I have the ability to hand those over to Him and let them go.

That recipe I shared with you? Ditch it. Trust me on this. It will leave a bitter taste in your mouth, have you feeling empty afterwards, and rob you of all joy. Instead may we learn to appreciate the wide world of ideas which surround us for what they are, possibility. Let us admire one another’s adventures, yet remain confident in our own. And above all, seek first the kingdom of God. He’ll add whatever else is needed.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.”
~ Colossians 3:23

Your Turn!: What is one opportunity you’re glad you took advantage of this year?

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