Saturday, October 4, 2008

The New Books Shelf at the Library

I always pause at the New Books shelf at our library. Frequently, I'll check one out just to look through; it seems that I never love these books enough to read word-for-word, but some are interesting to skim.

So on my last trip, I saw this book called It's My Heart. I picked it up because I thought the perspective would be interesting. I've been thinking a lot about my children's hearts -- the emotional side -- and how, as much as I love them, I tend to be mostly about "making them" behave and "making them" do what they need to do (school, homework, chores, church and so on). The "making them" doesn't work very well with pre-teens and teens. Instead of changing my strategy (which would be good for us all and probably less stressful), I up the ante, so to speak. I try to find the logical consequence to "make them" act right.

I checked out the book to read through at home. What would it tell me about kids' hearts?

Got home and opened it up and, guess what, it is about kids' hearts. Not heart as in emotions and the seat of the soul and so forth, but actual, physical hearts!

I laughingly told my two girls about this and my older one looked me straight in the eye and said, "you can't judge a book by its cover." She's right.

So I now need to think about what a book about kids' hearts (not the physical organ) would say.

I think it would be a lot about relationships and connections.

Lists and everyday life

Loved this about making lists!

I'm trying to grasp this concept of finding beauty in the ordinary, everyday life I live.

I think that I sometimes like the planning of life and the reading about life (or some part of life) more than I like the actual living/doing.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fireproof, the movie

I saw Fireproof with my kids last week. Great movie. Would like to see it again with hubby.

Going to movies like this is the easiest "ministry" I do! I really like supporting those who are making movies that have Christian values.

We own Facing the Giants on DVD. I would like to rent or buy Flywheel.

1000 Gifts


  • loss of electricity...we got to spend time with family and neighbors outside
  • my understanding husband
  • tears
  • goodness of most people
  • my church (the building and the people)
  • libraries and their books
  • KISS Grammar! (what a surprise--I didn't use to like grammar)
  • changing seasons
  • new days, ability to start fresh and try again
  • forgiveness
  • Ann at Holy Experience
  • Ambleside Online Advisory

Friday, September 26, 2008

"Habits are like stray kittens..."

That is the thought that came to mind a couple of days ago. I have been thinking about it since, wondering if it was silly or profound.

I certainly am not very good at establishing habits. (Big sigh.) Nor am I very good at helping (making) my kids form habits.

So, "habits are like stray kittens..." might mean that they are skittish, not resolute, not like an old cat that thinks (knows) she owns the place. A stray kitten will scamper away at the least bit of turmoil.

My habits seem to be like that. I work on them and work on them and then, bam!, something comes up, I stop the routine and it is as if I never had that habit. In some ways, it is worse, because I no longer have that enthusiasm that trying to form a new habit can give me.

This speaks to my self-discipline, of course. I just don't have as much as I should. I find myself thinking, "I don't want to..." I indulge that voice too often.

Here are some habits that I wanted to have formed and either haven't formed, or I started on them and then got sidetracked:

Gratitude: the 1000 gifts list. This is so important to my whole attitude and, goodness, how hard is it to do? I think about doing it, but I don't often get the things written down. I did spend time considering where the list should go- in this blog, on a yahoo list I created for that purpose, on my Amy Knapp Family Planner pages, in a notebook, etc. I have some gifts written down in a variety of places.

Exercise: I start and stop. Really, there is just no excuse.

Fixed Hour Prayer: This was working! Not perfectly, but very regularly and I was pleased. A difficult stretch and now I forget to pray much more than I remember.

Bible Reading: I was going to read the Bible in a year (or more). I got behind and then ran into the same difficult stretch (criticism about the time I was spending praying and reading the Bible) and it has stopped. Now I don't know what to do. (I am a bit of a perfectionist and thus the dilemma: skip the missed readings, go back and try to catch up, go back and continue forward, reading beyond the one-year mark...)

Flossing my teeth: okay, how many times will you see "Bible reading" and "flossing teeth" on the same list?

There are others, including books I want to read and projects I want to complete.

Part of the problem is that I resolve to do things without enough forethought. This season of my life is busy! I have too much enthusiasm for things that I want to do. Yet, those habits I listed (gratitude list, exercise, Bible reading, prayer) are vital!

Part of this wanting to do so much comes from a sense of having wasted part of my life. What part? Well, that part that was sitting in the classroom. I am learning so much with my girls following Charlotte Mason's teachings to the best of my understanding and the Ambleside Online curriculum.

Another part is the part that was reading twaddle voraciously during my free time.

Another part I wasted has to do with being a Christian but getting off the path and losing so much time that I could have used to gain Christian maturity and be a servant to the Lord.

You know what? I am going to finish this and go get ready for bed, including flossing my teeth) and then I am going to pray and read the Bible. Even if I tell myself, "I don't want to."

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Charlotte Mason's "Use of Books Makes for Short Hours" part 2

My problem is that when I look at the subjects covered (even with lots of them only covered once a week), it is very hard to plan a school day that has short hours. My schedules end up being about seven hours of work. Then, when you consider that we probably have a longer lunch hour than they do at school (we don't have any cafeteria ladies...), our day is as long or longer. However, I think the education is richer.

Our school week is Monday through Friday. I understand that in Charlotte Mason's day, the children went to school five and a half days. With my children's outside activities (music and sports) and friends, we just cannot count on having school time on Saturday. I'm not sure I would want to even if I could.

So now, I am wondering, what was the comparison that Charlotte Mason made? How long were other children in the late 1800's going to school?

I have seen schedules for a Charlotte Mason-inspired homeschool with short hours, but the rigor of the curriculum seemed to be lost.

On a practical note, I can get most of our academics scheduled to be done in five hours, but that is just too long to go without lunch. My hope was to be able to get all those things done before lunch (even if we needed a snack), so there would be that sense of a different kind of work done "after lunch." We leave at noon one day a week for music lessons. Combine this with no Saturday lessons and it is easy to see why our day is long--or at least, not short!

Since we cannot get all the academic work done before lunch, I am wondering if I should schedule the start of school earlier, followed by lunch after three hours. Then, continue with two more hours academic work, then have a break of an afternoon snack before we get to the music practice, art, nature walk, handicrafts and artist and composer studies.

And in implementing the schedule, I need to be better about ending the lesson at the prescribed time (or time expended). I am so guilty of going over.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Charlotte Mason's "Use of Books Makes for Short Hours"

I picked up volume 3 of The Home School Series: School Education. I wanted to see what she said about the time needed for school for this age group (since School Education tends to deal with middle school-aged students).

I found the emphasis she placed on "Books and Things" for a good education interesting. Books, of course, should be living books and should be part of a wide curriculum.

"Things" included:
  • natural obstacles for physical contention, climbing, swimming, walking
  • material to work in -- wood, leather, clay, etc.
  • natural objects in situ (in site) -- birds, plants, streams, stones, etc.
  • objects of art
  • scientific apparatus, etc.

Then, on page 240, she says that the use of books makes for short hours.

In her schools, all bookwork, writing, preparation and reports were done between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. for the youngest group and 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. for the oldest group. That is six days a week, not just five, from what I understand (it doesn't say this in the book). That makes from 15 to 24 hours per week of the work described above: bookwork, writing, preparation (of what is not specified) and reports.

Then, there was one to two hours in the afternoon for handicrafts, field work, drawing and more. (Music practice comes to mind.)

Evenings were free for hobbies and family reading.

In the past, I have scheduled our days with a bit of variety, moving from one type of activity to another, not paying any attention to the "bookwork in the morning" aspect.

I am considering scheduling our day so that all this bookwork is done in the morning hours. I think it might be a good way to do school. I'll have to see if I can fit everything in in those morning hours and what it is like, but I can imagine the relief in getting those things done and then having the afternoons for more outside or other types of studies.

Charlotte Mason's Table of Centuries, Century Charts, Century Books and Timelines

I have been thinking on what Charlotte Mason wrote about Century Charts and the Century Book and really trying to understand them.

Table of Centuries
She first advocated a Table of Centuries. This, as I understand it, was to be for the younger students. You made columns on a page, labeled each one with a century, then as the students read, they would put names on the table in the correct column. The order of the names in the column was not important. I get the impression this was a tool to help the students understand that things happened in different centuries only, but the students were not to be too worried about the details yet.

I find it interesting that she didn't write about this in volume 6, which is her final work written after years of experience. I wonder if she found the century chart and century book to be better ideas? I never did a table of centuries with my children.

Century Chart
I have had what I think is a breakthrough on my thinking of a century chart! See this earlier post, when I really starting mulling over these options.

My breakthrough came as we started our Plutarch study for this year.

It occurred to me to make a century chart for Plutarch!

But before I tried that, I wanted my girls to make a century chart for our family, as described in the article, The Teaching of Chronology.

Since 100 years is about the limit of man's life, and we generally speak of centuries in history, we take for biography, or for history, a square divided into 100 squares, thus, and it is read as a page of ten lines:--

<diagram 1>

Now this may represent the life of a man or that of a century. To a little child it should stand at first for the former, as we must proceed from the known to the unknown, for his own life. The first square stands for the time before he is a year old--i.e. The year "nought" of his life; the second square for the time when he is one year old, and so we mark the squares accordingly. The first line gives the first decade of life, in the second line we have all the tens, in the third all the twenties, and so on; whilst, looking vertically downwards, we have in the first row all the numbers ending with zero; in the second those ending with one, and so on. A child very quickly learns to read on a black chart the number corresponding to any square in the century of squares; a line somewhat thicker is given down the centre to help the eye, and it is easy to remember that the fifty comes just beyond the central horizontal line and five beyond the central vertical line.

I decided to make it just a little different for our family. We started with the year my husband and I got married. Children followed quickly, so they could plot their older brother's birth and then their births. They ended up being interested in presidents and Olympics (no doubt because of current events) so we put those in there. They will keep these charts and add to them from time to time. We will only put one or two events in each year. It is hard to decide what to put in and when you do a century chart on 8 1/2 by 11 inch paper, the squares are really small! My daughter really liked the idea of symbols (as described in the article above), but I much prefer words.

We each did one. We all wrote this on our chart, which is something I got out of the book, Facts Plus: An Almanac of Essential Information by Susan C. Anthony: "A century is 100 years. The first century was from the birth of Christ through 100 AD. The second century was from 101 to 200 AD. The year 2000 is in the 20th century. 2001 is the first year in the 21st century."

So back to the Plutarch Century Chart:

After some review, I determined that a five by five chart would do, with each square representing 100 years. Our chart starts at 1500 BC and goes to 1000 AD. Because the BC years can be somewhat confusing--we aren't used to counting that way--we numbered each square with beginning and ending dates. For example, the first square is numbered this way: 1500 -- 1401 BC.

I included enough centuries so that we could plot Plutarch's life and the lives of the Greek and Romans he wrote about (just the ones we will study). This will cement the knowledge of when he lived and how far back he was looking to write the biographies he wrote. Since we have just started with Plutarch (it took a year of inconsistent reading to finish Publicola) there are not many entries, but this is what I included:

Founding of Rome: 653 BC
Rome kicks out her kings: 509 BC
Publicola (in the square 600 - 501 BC)
Rome conquers Greece: 146 BC
Julius Caesar born: 100 BC (we will start will him this term)
Jesus born: about 1 AD
Jesus died: about 34 AD
Plutarch born: about 46 AD
Plutarch died: about 122 AD

Edited to add: here is the document that we started with, then we added the dates noted above:
Century Chart of Plutarch's Lives Century Chart of Plutarch's Lives leahintexas The beginnings of a centruy chart based on Plutarch's Lives.

Next, I thought a century chart for Shakespeare could be useful. The same idea will be used: enough centuries to include Shakespeare's life, plus the histories he wrote about. (The tradegies, romances and comedies cannot be pinpointed to specific times and even if they could be, that is not really useful or needed information.) I have done a little research with an encyclopedia to get these dates, but haven't actually made our charts yet.

When I make these charts for our use, I use the table feature and usually just print that out. We hand write in the dates and so forth. Or I may include a few key dates in the printed copy and then we complete the rest.

So what was the (for me) breakthrough idea? That students can create a century chart for any specific subject to help clarify the historical chronology of that subject. The article, "The Teaching of Chronology," (noted in my earlier post) gave this example:

Later, we should make such a chart on a larger scale, and with room for ruling and marking important events. We use charts coloured for various periods of English History--e.g., the Roman occupation, the various Royal Houses. * The four periods of five centuries each, form good divisions for Modern History. In the first line we have, roughly, from Augustus to the fall of Rome, and in England the period of Roman occupation. In the second line we have the period of barbarian settlements--tribes are changing into nations. In the third line we have, speaking roughly, the Mediaeval period. In the fourth, Modern History.

I made a century chart of what I think this example means. It is in the HEO yahoo group's file section.

Then I went back to Charlotte Mason's writings in Volume 6 and found this, which, although I had underlined it previously, I had missed part of its meaning:

The pupils make history charts for every hundred years on the plan either adapted or invented by the late Miss Beale of Cheltenham, a square ruled into a hundred spaces ten in each direction with symbol in each square showing an event which lends itself to illustration during that particular ten years. Thus crossed battle axes represent a war. Volume 6, page 177

What I now noticed for the first time was that the student in these forms (Form V and VI)--ages 15 to 18, are to "make history charts for every hundred years" they study.

What this said to me was that my students (who are younger than the recommended ages) could make century charts for the era they were studying.

Here is what the Ambleside Online students are studying in the various years:

Year 1 -- early history, focusing on people rather than events
Year 2 -- 1000 AD - Middle Ages
Year 3 -- 1400 - 1600 (Renaissance to Reformation)
Year 4 -- 1700's up to the French Revolution and American Revolution
Year 5 -- 1800 to 1920 up to WWI
Year 6 -- end of WWI to present day, then a term in ancient history
Year 7 -- 800-1400's Middle Ages (Alfred, King Arthur, Joan of Arc)
Year 8 -- 1400-1600's (Reniassance to Reformation)
Year 9 -- 1688-1815 including French and American revolutions
Year 10 -- 1815-1901 including the American Civil War
Year 11 -- 20th Century
Year 12 -- ancient history

from the FAQs on the AO website. (That link doesn't look right....)

So my AO Year 5 student could have two century charts, one for the one hundred years from 1800 (or 1801) to 1899 (or 1900) another for the next one hundred years. My AO Year 3 student would have three century charts for her time period.

I think many homeschoolers used a timeline instead of these century charts, but I find it interesting that Charlotte Mason never described a timeline as we think of timelines now; at least, not that I have read. I think many people assume that the modern timeline replaces the century chart and the book of centuries.

But I have to say that I really like working with these century charts. They are better than timelines in at least one way and that is if you want to clarify something specific, such as Plutarch or Shakespeare and their works. Timelines cover so many years that I think some of the details about these specific topics might not be so apparent.

Century Book or Book of Centuries
OK, what I found interesting about this was that it, too, was not a timeline like we do timelines now. I kept thinking about the idea of taking the Book of Centuries into the museum and drawing the everyday items from an era. Charlotte Mason did not talk about putting people in these books, at least not that I can find.

One day it hit me that these Books of Centuries are like the Usborne books that feature the everyday items of a particular time period. Now, I don't really care for these Usborne books, but if I had created one of my own (with my own sketches and notes) it would be much more meaningful!

Sorting this out has been interesting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

I forgot this book!

The Gospel According to Moses: What My Jewish Friends Taught Me About Jesus by Athol Dickson.

It has been said before, but I heartily agree:

So many books, so little time.

I wonder who first said that?

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Great Haul of Books!

I just brought home some interesting library books. I requested these late one night and I don't remember the inspiration, although I think some of it was the Amazon site and the "people who bought this book also bought ..." feature.

Finding Our Way Again: The Return of the Ancient Practices by Brian McLaren (part of the new The Ancient Practices Series, with a forward by Phyllis Tickle)

Generous Orthodoxy: Why I Am a Missional + Evangelical + Post/Protestant + Liberal/Conservative + Mystical/Poetic + Biblical + Charismatic/Contemplative + Fundamentalist/Calvinist + Anabaptist/Anglican + Methodist + Catholic + Green + Incarnational + Depressed-Yet-Hopeful + Emergent + Unfinished Christian by Brian D. McLaren

Praying the Jesus Creed: Loving God, Loving Others by Scot McKnight

Praying with the Church: Following Jesus Daily, Hourly, Today by Scot McKnight


I just got this from Paperback Swap:

PrayerWalk: Becoming a Woman of Prayer, Strength, and Discipline by Janet Holm McHenry.

Writer's Block

OK, now I understand writer's block!

I sometimes think of things that would make a good post. Compose the post in my head as I do something else with my hands. These posts sound good!

Then I get here and face the blank "Create a Post"" page and...nothing!

I used to not give writer's block much credence. Now I do.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

School starts tomorrow...

Our homeschool and my oldest's public school starts tomorrow. I'm not ready yet. Not ready because my oldest is going to high school. Not ready because there was a whole bunch more stuff I was going to get done this summer. Not ready because I am still trying to clean up and declutter.

Plus, I have a ton of laundry to do. (Edited on 9/10/08 to change "please" to "plus.")

Oh well, it will be okay.

"Just take the next step," is what my husband always says. Just do the next thing.

So, I'm off to do some laundry and figure out what we'll have for breakfast. (Not that I usually do that, but I am trying to be better about planning our menus.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cleaning out and straightening up

I have been going through our things, trying to clean out some clutter. Some of this "clutter" is things that others could use--we've just grown beyond them.

I have auctions on ebay under the name boughttoomuch. Lots of homeschool stuff.

I have books on Paperback Swap under the name leahintexas. I have 13 books that I will mail today.

I have got to make more room from some of our current homeschool choices. We are doing Ambleside Online years 3 and 5 this year.

However, I think I am going to resolve to make this a year that we "use what we have." Not that I won't buy anything (I already have bought a few new things), but I really need to either use it or...sell, swap or give it away.

It seems I go through cycles. I haven't been willing to get rid of some of this stuff for a while, afraid that "we might need this...". I'm moving to a position of wanting fewer things around and having more willingness to let things go. I'm sure this is related in some way to my spiritual and emotional life, but I don't really have much time to ponder it now!

I have been praying that God would help me be a better housekeeper and want to be a better housekeeper. I just started praying that God would help me add beauty to my home, inside and out. That doesn't come naturally to me, but I really long for it. I'm not talking about things, but more about the arrangement of things, order, cleanliness, and small touches that make a home seem warm, harmonious and inviting. Sometimes I think this is such a small thing and how could God care, but then I remember the world He created for us. He didn't have to make it beautiful, but He did!

I also need more beauty in my spirit.

There is always something to work on!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

1930s Marital Scale


As a 1930s wife, I am

Take the test!

Some of the questions were hard to answer because things have changed so much.

I scored higher than I thought I would. I haven't felt very much like a superior wife at all these days!

I need to work on a few things:

Doesn't want to get up to prepare breakfast. (Sometimes I do, most times it is everyone on their own!)

Dresses for breakfast. (Used to do this daily, then got sloppy about it.)

Good sense of humor--jolly and gay. (See below about whining and complaining.)

Has pleasant disposition in the morning--not crabby. (I am not usually crabby and I am sometimes pleasant, but most often I am just quiet. I think. I need to pay attention to how I am appearing to others.)

Neat housekeeper--tidy and clean. (Could be better!)

Often whining and complaining. (I have gotten into the very bad habit of complaining)

Puts cold feet on husband at night to warm them. (I really don't think he minds; he invites me to.)

Well, that's enough. Plenty to think about!

The Narrow Road

Out of the 20 (some sources say there were 19) kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, there were zero good kings.

Out of the 20 kings of the Southern Kingdom (Judah), there were eight good kings. (Not perfect, just good. Still sinners.)

That's one in five.

(My info is from my study Bible and something I remember from the Walk Thru the Old Testament seminar our family took years ago.)

Homeschool plans and planning

We primarily use Ambleside Online for our homeschooling. AO is a Charlotte Mason-based plan. Here is what I am planning for this school year (August 2008 through May 2009).

I will use the AO Year 5 (1800 to 1920 up to WWI) recommendations for my 12-year-old seventh grader for:

History and History Tales
Natural History
Tales and Literature
and Free-time Reading

and AO Year 3 (1400 to 1600) for my 10-year-old fifth grader for the same subjects.

In addition, I will add in the TruthQuest commentary for History, using Age of Revolution II (US/Europe, 1800-1865) and the first part of Age of Revolution III (US/Europe, 1865-2000) for AO Year 5 and Renaissance/Reformation/Exploration (1400-1600) for AO Year 3.

I have come up with my own poetry rotation from AO's suggestions and the girls will study the same poets. This year we will study Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Alfred Lord Tennyson and Emily Dickinson.

For Language Arts I will use:

KISS Grammar, the Third Grade Workbook. We worked through the Second Grade Workbook last year.

For studied dictation, we will use (for the first time!) Spelling Wisdom from Simply Charlotte Mason, Book 1 and Book 2.

The girls will also be expected to give oral narrations, write some narrations and do copywork.

The Bible Study Guide for All Ages will be what we use for our Bible Studies. We are in the second volume and will go into the third volume sometime during the year.

We will have what I call our fine arts rotation, which includes studying a composer and his or her music, an artist and his or her artwork, a play from Shakespeare and a life from Plutarch (Our Young Folks' Plutarch) for each term (there are three terms per school year). We will learn a hymn a month and I hope to incorporate awareness of and attention to a habit a month, also.

I hope to use a plan I developed for Nature Study out of the Handbook of Nature Study, which is different from what AO recommends. (That is, the order of study is different. AO also recommends the Handbook of Nature Study.)

Math: We will stick with Developmental Mathematics, with some enrichment thrown in (DIME Blocks, for one and Hands-On Equations for another).

For Foreign Language, we will use Rosetta Stone for Spanish and The Latin Road to English Grammar for Latin for the older daughter.

They will continue with violin and some piano.

Okay, that is what is planned. We'll see what really happens!

For example: we have had the same Plutarch's life for, oh, a year now! (Cringe...) We have it scheduled for once-a-week. We don't get much done at each weekly time period (there is so much to review and the language is so dense). We skip weeks.

Another example: I have had The Latin Road to English Grammar for two years now and hoped to start it last year with my older girl.

A third example: we almost always get behind in our history and literature readings. I am hoping that won't be such a big factor this year.

The last three years we have had some major interruptions to school and I am hoping that we do not have them this year.

Also, I really need to look after my own needs of exercise, good food and some personal time so that I don't use school time for other things (including reading the posts on the AO yahoo groups and blogging!)

To Do:

Plan the year, incorporating the TruthQuest readings.

Make a loose daily/weekly schedule.

Look at last year's math and the placement tests and order the math booklets.

Begin Latin so that I am ahead of my daughter.

Double check that I have the books we need.

Print the KISS Grammar Third Grade Workbook.

Print out the poetry selections from the AO website.

We begin on August 25th!

Friday, July 18, 2008

1000 Gifts

1000 gifts. I have not been numbering them, nor have I been very good the last few days about noticing them. And it shows. In my attitude. A bit of irritability, with a dab of self-pity stirred in. Not appealing!

If I keep coming back to these things, perhaps the habit of praising and noticing will become stronger.

Recent gifts:

  • Mission trips for junior high youth (JUMMP)
  • Like-minded souls, especially when I am feeling different, alone or unsure
  • God's Word, which tells me to be a God-pleaser and not a people pleaser
  • Communion and kneeling in prayer at the rail
  • Prayer teen(s) at VBS this week
A focus on praising God and the discipline of noticing gifts from God makes me a different better person.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Century Chart of English History

We're discussing the Charlotte Mason concepts of history chronology on the House of Education yahoo group. The specific concepts that interested me are the century chart and centuries chart.

In an article that Katie referenced on her blog, (the article is here), we were a little confused by the description of the chart for English History:

Later, we should make such a chart on a larger scale, and with room for ruling and marking important events. We use charts coloured for various periods of English History--e.g., the Roman occupation, the various Royal Houses. * The four periods of five centuries each, form good divisions for Modern History. In the first line we have, roughly, from Augustus to the fall of Rome, and in England the period of Roman occupation. In the second line we have the period of barbarian settlements--tribes are changing into nations. In the third line we have, speaking roughly, the Mediaeval period. In the fourth, Modern History.

I cannot upload it here, but I may post it in the HEO yahoo group files. (I cannot remember if members can post there.)

Edited to add: We can, and I did! It is in the files section of the HEO yahoo group under Century Chart of English History.

Edited to add: I am attempting to use Scribd to add the document.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Next Year's Bible Reading Plan

This year, I am reading through the Bible using the Discipleship Journal's Book-at-a-Time guide. This is my second time to use it. I like this plan for a couple of reasons, including the reflection days (in my life, they are called "trying to get caught up days") and the free days at the end of each month.

They schedule 28 days per month of reading, with every seventh day being a reflection day. This means each day's reading is longer, but the free days are nice. If I was in the habit of reading every day, I would have time to go back and study on those free days. But with our schedule, I am usually catching up.

I have printed the "Preview Free Sample" to get mine. If I were supplying a church or Sunday School class, I would buy the packet. I think that they don't mind if individuals print one copy for themselves. I hope I am not wrong!

Anyway, I came up with an idea today that I am excited about for next year.

I am going to try to make a plan for myself. I plan to use the same scheduling idea--28 days a month, every seventh day a reflection day--but I am going to go through the New Testament three times and Psalms once. If my calculations are right, this can be done by reading three to four chapters a day.

260 New Testament chapters times three equals 780 NT reading. 780 plus 165 Psalms (I know there are 150, but some of them are long, so I increased it to 165) equals 945 readings.

Four weeks a month equals 48 weeks a year. Six days a year times 48 weeks equals 288 days.

945 readings (chapters or portions of a chapter) divided by 288 days of reading equals 3.28 readings a day.

Now, dividing it up will be interesting. I may do that as I go.

I'm going to pray about this, but I am excited! I feel like it is time for me to know the New Testament better.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Our Family's Rights and Responsibilities

I modified this some, but most of it came from the book, 401 Ways to Get Your Kids to Work at Home by Bonnie Runyan McCullough and Susan Walker Monson.

Rights and Responsibilities


1. We each have the right to our toys, books, and clothes. Others should ask before borrowing them.

2. We each have the right to be spoken to kindly and to be spoken about in the same way.


3. We will be dressed and our beds will be made each morning before breakfast.

4. We will each be responsible for our own bedroom and bathroom areas and two other household chores a day.

5. We will only eat food in the kitchen and dining areas, to preserve furniture and carpets not designed for easy clean-up of messy foods.

6. Everyone is responsible for cleaning up after themselves in the kitchen, including food items away, wiping counters and hand-washing or putting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher.

7. Everyone will help with dinner dishes and, except for special occasions, no one is excused until the kitchen is clean.

8. We are responsible for putting our own things (books, toys, projects, coats, hats) away, out of consideration for other family members. (Special permission may be granted for some projects, but it must be asked for ahead of time.)

9. After using something, we will put it away where it belongs, even if that is not where we found it.

10. We will ask permission before leaving the house unless we will be in our yard or on the street in front of the house.

11. If we are delayed in returning home, we will call home to explain, so others won’t worry.

12. Music lessons are a privilege and with that privilege comes the responsibility of daily practice. Music practice must be finished before free time is granted.

Husbands as priority, pleasing husbands, honoring husbands

I'm still thinking about husbands. . .

My husband should be my second priority, after God.

That means that his priorities should be my priorities.

What are his priorities? Well, I may not know all of them, but I do know three of them:
  • nutritious meals for himself and the family
  • and for me to be content (or "happy"--his word--but I think he means content)
  • kids to pick up after themselves more
And God, in His infinite wisdom, gave him a wife whose weaknesses are:
  • regular, healthy meals
  • a complaining spirit
  • consistent training for the kids on picking up after themselves
Not that I never do a good meal or that I complain all the time or that I never work with the kids, because I do, I don't and I do, but . . .

These things are hard for me.

I certainly need work on these areas. I think this means that God wants us to grow, but it also means that to please my husband, I have to make sacrifices. I have to spend my time doing some things other than what I want to do. (It is so easy for me to justify time spent doing what I want because I spend so much of my time on the family and on the kids. And the time is usually related to the kids or homeschooling. But it is just that: justification.)

I should do what I can to please him.

Making his priorities my priorities is one way to be more pleasing.

I recently received a Laine's Letter and she talked about honoring her husband. Behaving in a manner that brought honor to him.

That is, being a good wife, mother and homemaker so that he will be held in higher regard because of those things. Also, allowing him to be free to "sit at the gates." Free to do business.

After all these years of marriage (almost 15), I still have a long way to go.

LORD, help me to make his priorities my priorities; give me the will and energy to do the things that are important to him; help me to bring honor to him and give him the time and freedom to do what he needs to do. Amen.


  • Summer swim team: exercise, accomplishment, friends and structure for the beginning of the summer for the kids.
  • Excellent coaches (in any sport). We've had them and so appreciate them.
  • Learning the phrase, "procrastination takes too long" and really starting to believe it and use it. (A life-long procrastinator I am. It is tied to my insecurity that produces perfectionism and "what will they think of me?-ism")
  • Changing "what do they think of me?" to "what does God think?"
  • New days. What would we do without fresh starts?
  • Grape juice from concentrate. I try to drink water mostly. I do not drink soft drinks. I limit my tea consumption to hot green tea in the morning. And all those sports drinks are too sweet (and I am not exercising now -- I should be, but I am not!). Grape juice is nice when I need something with flavor.
  • Family. I would be so lonely without my family!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Planners and Calendars

Well, I got an email from with a 20% coupon off for planners for next year (the ones that start in August or September), which got me to thinking about my needs for next year, which got me looking at some different planners, and next thing I knew, I had spend way too much time on the computer!

I got the coupon from because for the last four or so years I have gotten each child a fine arts calendar for their room. It is not our only artist study, but it is one way to get them exposed to fine art. Do not let your kids loose on the site, however, because they have all kinds of calendars, some quite inappropriate for kids to see. (Well, even for adults to see, in my opinion.) Sometimes I pick the calendar and surprise them, sometimes I let them choose between a couple. I have given them on Christmas or on New Year's Day. I think New Year's Day is better, because they tend to get overlooked on Christmas Day.

But now I am thinking calendars and planners for next year. . . .

This is the wall calendar that I have used for seven years (I know because I keep them). The More Time Moms calendar is big, has big squares, is printed on writable paper (as opposed to those fine arts calendars, which are on that slick paper...but we don't use those for planning, so it is okay). The MTM calendar comes with stickers and has a back pocket for a few papers. (It looks like they don't have their 2009 calendar out yet. Here is a description of the 2008 calendar.)

The MTM wall calendar is really our command central. Everything goes on there: appointments, school-related things, sports schedules, music lessons, and so on.

I have also used a planner that I could carry with me. I am less faithful to this these days. It was easier when our schedule was simplier (and the kids were mostly doing things together).

In fact, keeping a calendar and a planner is double work and, I think, asking for trouble. What if I fail to transfer something from the planner to wall calendar? And updating the planner each week was time consuming. So I am not sure what I will do next year. I stopped carrying my planner for this year already. But I do need something to record things when we are out.

The two planners I have used in the past and loved are the YWAM Prayer Diary/Daily Planner and Amy Knapp's Family Organizer.

I especially love the perforated tear-off grocery list on Amy Knapp's. It is a menu list one week--on the right page of a week-at-a-glance double-page spread--and the next week, the back side of your menu list is your grocery list--now on the left page. Tear it off and go! The Family Organizer also has stickers. I have had several people see this and get one of their own.

The YWAM Prayer Diary/Daily Planner is a great prayer tool. If my home life wasn't so busy, I think it would work very well. So far, I just haven't been able to make it work for our life as it is now. However, this planner has you praying for different nations each day, weekly prayer responsibilities, and much more. I really like the concept.

Ann, at Holy Experience, wrote about planners here. I, too, have the Motivated Moms downloadable chore list. I have not been using this lately. The house shows it! I need to print out more pages. (I was trying to print as I go, and it is too easy to forget to do this.)

At one time, I tried to make the Motivated Moms list my planner, but I was not successful with that. So now, instead of trying to integrate everything into one planner, I just accept that I will have a variety of things (calendars, planners, household lists, prayer lists, and so on). One was to use this is to put the list in the kitchen (my was on the refrigerator) and check-off what gets done.

Ann has a broken link on her page to Lilting House -- that blog moved, but here is the archive. And here is the day planners post.

This Circle of Days planner looks intriguing. . . and beautiful. But it is perpetual--good for that purpose, but I am not sure how it would work. I tend to like dated planners, but I am thinking on it.

The Mom Agenda is also beautiful in a different way. Too expensive for me, however. (Maybe too beautiful, too. Would I really use it?)

I do like the look of the BusyBodyBook, either the planner or wall calendar. What I like about this one is the separate sections for each family member.

When the kids were younger, we tended to stay together more than we do now with my oldest going into high school, second one junior-high-aged and the youngest one still considered elementary-aged. (The oldest will go to public high school, the two younger ones will be homeschooled.) Having a slot for each child makes more sense these days.

And should I switch from wall calendar to a planner? My thought is the planner would have a place in the kitchen, unless I was leaving and then it would go with me. That would be a big adjustment, but it might work.

All this to say, I have some thinking, praying and deciding to do.

But now, I have the links to the different options in one place!

More Gratitude

Thanks to Ann at Holy Experience for the reminder to remain grateful; to always look for the gifts. The gifts she sees and describes are no mere list of things to be grateful for. I am convinced that because she has asked to have her eyes opened, she is seeing things she would not have seen otherwise.

  • Watching high school baseball on a breezy Texas night. Not much better than this! (Watching my son's team this spring--before things started to change--that was extra special. To see a team come together and play like they played . . . And they were all good boys, too.)
  • Bible Study Guide for All Ages. My kids and I have learned so much with this program. It is not really CM (Charlotte Mason--meaning, it doesn't use her methods of learning, which would be reading and then narrating), but we have learned a lot.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Seeing Gifts, Practicing Gratitude . . .

My eyes have not been on the gifts lately. I have forgotten to practice gratitude. Father, forgive me.

There is so much that He has given, but if I fail to see, my life is poorer for it.

So, a list of a few things . . .

  • My kids. I really am so grateful for them. When they happen to all be gone at the same time (rare!), I miss them so much. When they are here, I fail to be grateful.

  • Nature is a gift from God. How many years was I oblivious to all but the most incredible sights? I forget to go outside and just "be" for a while. Let me remember and rest.

  • My husband is such a good man; better than I deserve; a true gift from God.

  • Praying the hours. I am still striving to make this a habit, but it is a gift. When I pray the hours (using Phyllis Tickle's The Divine Hours), I am praising. I was so tired of my own prayers, which were lists of things I wanted--not all of them for me (most were for others)--but still, just things I wanted. Praying the hours with The Divine Hours keeps my prayers more well-balanced.

  • Good movies. The kids and I saw Prince Caspian yesterday. I was so moved. Even though it varied from the book, I loved it. And I grateful that there are movies like this and that they are successful.

  • AAA. Yes, I know it is a service we pay for. But husband was out of town, interior lights were left on overnight and battery was dead in the morning. Thanks to AAA and a wonderfully polite man, my battery was charged.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Priorities (again) and being pleasing

Is wanting to please your husband part of making him a priority?

Is it possible to have your husband be your second priority (after God) . . . and forget about trying to please him?

If I make a list of things that are important to my husband and then try to do those in an effort to make him a priority . . .

would a list of things I could do to please him be different?

Things I am mulling over today.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My New Links (Blogs and Groups) or, Time Spent on the Computer

I just updated the "Blogs I read" and added "Groups I like" and I think I have discovered why some things are not getting done around here! (Actually, I knew why, but I wasn't willing to admit it.)

Funny how this follows my post about my priorities.

I am spending too much time on the computer.

Know how some older time management books talk about not spending too much time on the phone? or watching television? Well, those are no problem for me, but the internet/computer is.

It is also funny how, now that I have set up this blog, I feel compelled to make a daily (or frequent) entry. It was just supposed to be a place for me to gather thoughts or resources. Now, I am interested in readers! Is that pride rearing its ugly head again?

I believe it is. I want to be important, helpful, a connection, an authority of some sort.

But the other side of this is that I really do get good help about spirituality, home and homeschooling from these blogs and groups. I just need to keep my time on the computer within reason.

I will be working on this.

Now, I don't think I have any readers, but if I do, any ideas?

Husbands as a priority

Well, I have gotten the message. Now, the trick is to make a real change in my life.

My priorities should be, God first, husband second, kids third.

Although I knew this, I wasn't practicing it.

I'm not doing right by my husband.

I've had the book, A Woman after God's Heart by Elizabeth George for a long time. I think it is a deceiving book, in that it is easy to read and as I read it, I kept saying to myself, "of course!' But there is real depth there. Getting the intellectual knowledge down from my head and into my heart has been another matter.

I picked it up recently and read a part about priorities and I realized that I have not made my husband a priority. He is so good and does so much for the family and seems so completely self-sufficient, that I have put the kids ahead of him in many ways.

I'm hoping to make a real change. Let me rephrase that: I am praying that God will help me make a real change.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Bible Reading Plans, Part 1

I think it is good to have a systematic way to read through the Bible. And, as it had been my desire for a long time to read the whole Bible, I have collected Bible reading plans.

There are individual reading plans and Bible studies that take you through scripture in a systematic way.

Bible Studies
These methodical Bible studies are different from topical Bible studies. In a topical Bible study, you might, for example, study the fruit of the spirit or a person in the Bible. I much prefer Bible studies based on a book (or books) of the Bible. I recently read Honey for a Woman's Heart (or here) by Gladys Hunt and saw that she said something similar.

Individual Reading Plans
For the individual plans, there are read-the-Bible-in-one-year plans, read-the-Bible-in-more-than-one-year plans and read-the-Bible-in-less-than-one-year plans. (I guess that is a case of stating the obvious!) These "plans" include Bibles specially arranged for daily readings!

Bible Studies
Here are some of my favorite Bible studies.

Disciple Bible Studies. The first one I did was Disciple I. This program ran from September through May and if you read all the assignments, you read about 70% of the Bible. A wonderful overview to the whole book! This was my first Bible study ever and it is the one I remember most fondly. (The other Disciple Bible studies focus on a more limited portion of scripture. They are good, too!)

Bible Study Fellowship (or BSF). Another nine-month Bible study that follows the school year (August or September through May). There are seven classes: And there are recommended readings for the summer. I don't know how much of the Bible you would read if you did all the classes and the summer readings, but you would have an excellent foundation in Bible study.

Another Bible study is a radio Bible study called Thru the Bible. It is broadcast Monday through Friday. As their website says:
Thru the Bible takes the listener through the entire Bible in just five years, threading back and forth between the Old and New Testaments. Because we start over again with Genesis after we've concluded Revelation, you can "get aboard the Bible bus" at any time. If you stay with us for five years you won't miss any part of the Bible.
Notes: 1) these were recorded in the late 1960's and early 1970's and 2) Dr. McGee has a thick Texas accent. I like it, but I am sure it drives others crazy!

And one for the home: Bible Study Guide for All Ages. I really like this program, too. How long it takes you to get through the whole Bible depends on how many lessons you do a week. There are four units and each unit has 102 lessons. At the rate of two lessons a week, you finish the unit in one year. This is what you cover.

Part 2, coming sometime soon but not necessarily right away, will be about individual reading plans.

Monday, May 19, 2008


I got clobbered with a migraine this weekend. I've got what I call a migraine hangover today. The pain sure takes a lot out of me!

When I get a migraine, it reminds me to be grateful for all the days I don't get one. Well, sometimes it does. I remembered yesterday.

A little over a year ago I was getting a lot of migraines; so many that it was really affecting our lives. I did a lot of things to try to get through that period, but I think the most effective was asking for prayer.

Here are some things that I think are true for me:

Tension can trigger migraines (even though tension headaches are different from migraine headaches)
Not enough water
Not enough rest
Caffeine (too much or not enough--I am sensitive to it so I have to have my usual amount)
Over-the-counter migraine medicine (it will help, but then I may have a rebound headache a few days later)
The day before my cycle begins
Getting angry

Helps to prevent:
Well, the opposite of the triggers! Enough water, rest, relaxation. Good food. Practicing gratitude (helps with stress, which helps with anger).
I need to remember to relax my shoulders.
Pacing myself.

Helps during a migraine:
Cold compress (I own two, kept in the freezer, so I can use one and then trade it for the other one when it warms up).
Lying down (with the cold compress).
Water (one book said to drink two glasses of water right away).

Two things that I know have helped (but also know that they do not help every time) are hot and sour soup with the red hot paste/sauce and exercises from a book called Pain Free.

The hot and sour soup idea was one I read about from The People's Pharmacy (which is a newspaper column and a website). I can't find the original article, but the one I linked has the information.

I also read on that site about cayenne pepper -- just a minuscule amount, really only a few specks -- in the nose. The authors of The People's Pharmacy said they couldn't recommend it, but I have tried it. Apparently, researches are experimenting with a cayenne or capsicum nasal spray, which gave a reader the idea to try the direct application. It made me sneeze, and it may have kept the migraine at bay.

Here's another one from them: vitamin B2. I keep forgetting about that one.

The only time in my life where I felt the pain leave was after doing the exercises for headaches in Pain Free. At four in the morning, after having suffered most of the night.

I'd had the book a long time, but could never get past the long introduction, which the author insisted that I read. It was boring and full of evolutionary stuff, so I never got to the exercises. It just sat on my shelf. Until that early morning when I decided that I had to do something. I got up to write a list of my options and my eyes fell on the book. I did the exercises and felt the pain leave. It was amazing and I believe, an answer to prayer.

So, why don't I do the exercises every morning as a preventative? Good question. I was, for a while. Then I got busy and complacent. Also, I gave the book to my father-in-law, so the visual reminder was gone, too. In any case, I plan to start back on them.

Another thing that helps is doing the neck and shoulder stretches from Stretching.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Some of what I am reading these days

The Bible, in a whole year, using this plan from Discipleship Journal. I am behind. I've done this one other time and I found this time of year the hardest to keep up.

The Original Homeschooling Series by Charlotte Mason, Volume 6. There is a yahoo group called CMSeries that is doing this. It helps to have some accountability. I am a little behind here and I skipped some, but without the group, I would have given up altogether.

And while I am not reading it word for word, front to back, I am reading the Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Boswick Comstock regularly, as I really try to make nature study a regular part of our homeschooling week. I have a yahoo group for this, too. Using the Handbook of Nature Study's purpose is to encourage each other in nature study, but also to provide updated or appropriate regional information.

My yahoo group, Home Comforts Home, has just begun reading through Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson. We are not going to read front to back, but skip around. This book is somewhat like an encyclopedia.

And I am praying my way through The Divine Hours by Phyllis Tickle. This is a new discipline for me and some days are better than others. But what a difference when I do take the time to pray the hours!

I have the book The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of Our Lord with Reflections by Phyllis Tickle and have read some of it, but I have put it aside while I try to catch up with my other reading.

I have some blogs I read, too, and I just subscribed to Google Reader so that I could see them all in one place! I need to add more of the blogs I read to the sidebar.

I am trying to make my reading purposeful. My focus these days seems to be on my spiritual life, household and homeschooling.

Friday, May 9, 2008


1. Girls had good lessons.

2. Birds, bird calls and migration.

3. Hearing my teenage son's gentle, "Hi" directed to the dog.

4. Taste of green tea and the fact it is my preference these days.

5. A fun dinner at IHOP with the kids. We laughed together.

6. Kitchen cleaned nicely by one of the kids.

7. Kids' smiles.

8. Helping my son with English homework and noticing how big he is.

9. Baseball season has begun.

10. Rain.

11. Grace, which comes from God.

12. Most important gift, that of salvation, from my Lord, Jesus Christ.

Joining many others, I am writing my list of gifts.