Homeschool Planning Helps + Giveaway



Pam Barnhill and I just did a hangout on homeschool planning with Chelli from Planted Trees this Monday (well, I was late to the show because I had to take a child to the doctor for a bad cough). It was a lot of fun!

Find the links mentioned and a discount code at Simplified Organization.

Pam is offering a giveaway of her planning sheets expansion pack! You can enter below and also at Simplified Organization, Everyday Snapshots, and Planted Trees. She’s going to pick 5 winners on Saturday. The basic set of her planning pages are free, and you can even edit and save them digitally if you’re into paperless planning.

Enter the giveaway by clicking this link: a Rafflecopter giveaway.

Have you started your homeschool planning yet? What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to making a plan for the school year?

Desiring the Kingdom Book Club, week 14: Monastic Cultural Engagement



Desiring the Kingdom Book Club

This week we’re discussing the rest of chapter 5, where, yes, Smith did say, “The minister raises her hands.” eye roll

Summary: Influential Monastic Communities

Yes, worship is meant to shape us. So why does it often seem to have so little influence? Partly because the secular liturgies exegeted in chapter 3 surround much more of our time and lives, but also because the time and space they do get is unconscious, brain-switched-off time: so their message goes straight to our gut, bypassing our conscious, rational mind.

One way to counter that is to simply be aware that even our entertainment does shape us. That awareness goes a long way to diffusing the impact. However, another way is to embrace monasticism. I really liked how Smith hedged this. This isn’t totally withdrawing from culture, but refraining from participating in the bulk of the practices that tend to unwittingly shape us. Sometimes we can only see the formative power of a practice by being outside of it, and if it is a negative shaping power, then wouldn’t that be the best strategy? I think most homeschoolers would smile and nod. I can testify that if you don’t go to movies and don’t follow sports and don’t watch tv, you soon find in small-talk situations that many people don’t have any topic of conversation beyond those three. So, the point isn’t that you then abstain from contact with people outside your clique, but you’re willing to be the sore thumb that brings some awkwardness, but then also be willing to be interested in people’s work, people’s hobbies – once the easy common topics are out, it becomes natural to instead talk about more earthy and personal topics like work, kids, people’s histories, and yes, the weather.

The other element of modern monasticism I hadn’t really thought about was making time in the day not only for personal devotions, but for communal devotions as well. Circle Time is certainly a form of communal devotion, as are family devotions and family or couple and even meal time prayers.

Do you see monastic practices in your own life and family? What are they?

Further Book Club Conversation

Visit these other participants’ posts and keep the conversation going in the comment sections! You don’t have to have a blog to participate. Please jump on in.

Next week: Chapter 6! We’ll bring this all back ’round to education at last.

Weekend Reads: Rest, rest, and a smattering of other topics



weekend reads link up

Books Read at Our House This Week

I feel like I’m linking to the same books over and over here. King Midas and the Golden Touch, The Donkey Prince, and Three Billy Goats Gruff were favorite picks once again this week.

We have a huge pile of library books at the moment. Honestly, it’s making me nervous. If I am late on returning that huge pile my library fine will increase by dollars a day. But, if a boy comes to me and says, “Mom, can you check if the library has x?” Then, by jove, we check right then and there and put it on hold if they have it. And we had a lot of such requests lately. Sarah, Plain and Tall was their last book club book, and so at Jaeger’s request we checked out all the other books by the same author. I also checked out a number of books by Gloria Whelan because Dawn recommended a different book by that author which our library didn’t have.

The book I read this week was one not yet available! Sarah Mackenzie asked if I’d be her book editor, and I gladly accepted. I got to read her first draft of Teaching From Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakeable Peace. It’s absolutely amazing. Absolutely amazing. I’m so glad I read it before I made too many decisions about our upcoming school year. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure you all know about it when it comes out.

I did, however, also finish reading The Lord’s Day by Joseph Pipa. It was an excellent book for understanding the historic Presbyterian, Westminster hard-core teaching on the Sabbath. I almost thought for awhile I’d become a true-blue sabbatarian. But he lost me over his argument that Sabbath is not actually about rest, but about work of another kind, plus his Sabbath rules were based on two-verse proof-texting more than by biblical reasoning. Starting with creation, looking at the fourth commandment, examining the whole big picture of the entire Bible – physical rest is the heart of Sabbath keeping. Plus, I think his view encourages compartmentalizing life: this conversation is “holy,” this other one is not.

I was actually disappointed I couldn’t get on board with him, because I really would like to nail down the Sabbath thing and figure it out, but I think perhaps the truth of the Sabbath is a truth too big to be nailed down and spelled out in rules. That might actually turn out to be part of the point. But it’s rather frustrating.

Oh, I did also quickly read through Steven Pressfield’s Do the Work, because I’ve seen his nonfiction highly recommended by a number of people. This book, however, appears to be the main point of his real book The War of Art made into a pretty non-book for non-readers. It’s full of pages that have one sentence in huge lettering and other signs that the book is a gift-book for “creatives” that don’t actually want to read a real book and care more about design than content. The library just purchased The War of Art for me, though, so we’ll see if his real content is any good.

Online Reading This Week

I think this is an approach homeschoolers should embrace more. Focus less on college and career and more on developing and monetizing skills, talents, and interests as the opportunities present themselves (with seeking out) beginning in the high school years.

We can’t know what the jobs of the future will look like. People’s basic needs stay the same but society is constantly evolving and changing and so we don’t fixate on a job title or career path; we focus on building skills, knowledge, and experience in an environment of flexibility and adaptability.

I know my weakness is in trying to figure out a super-duper combo or maximum efficiency model, but simply showing up with trust and consistency is the real “magic.”

But still, we can be tempted to think that if we just figure out the secret formula — the right mixture of Bible meditation and prayer — we will experience euphoric moments of rapturous communion with the Lord. And if that doesn’t happen, our formula must be wrong.

One of my readers here has me seriously contemplating actually pulling our copy of the Institutes off the shelf. Thank you, Ginger!

Let me forestall the “I don’t have time” objection. If you have 15 minutes a day and a bit of self-discipline, you can get through the whole of the Institutes faster than you think.

Sometimes these sorts of projects percolate for a year or two before coming to fruition, but it’s at least in that process now. Maybe I’ll add it to my super-duper devotional combo. ;)

weekend reads linky party

More Weekend Reads

If you have a post with a collection of links, a post about what you’re currently reading, or a recommended book list, link it up here! We’ll have our very own “best of the web” & “best of our book piles” right here, every week!

Rejoicing in Repetition, an annotated bibliography



Surprise! I have a brand new free ebook just for you: Rejoicing in Repetition.

I was talking to a friend a couple weeks ago about how frustrating housework can be, and I started thinking, “Didn’t I write about that once? I feel like at one point I had an insight that I thought was helpful…what was it?!” So I went searching my archives and found the posts that talked about points along my journey of becoming not only a decent housekeeper, but also a contented one. Turns out that several of my favorite ones were parts of book clubs that people would probably not find on their own and choose to read. And though the thoughts were connected in my own mind, the posts that touched on the topic were not connected. So I did a bunch of copying and pasting of old posts, then filled in the holes to make it coherent, and now I feel refreshed myself, reminded that yes, there is a reason to keep at it, to do it even though it will have to be redone tomorrow.

I hope you will be refreshed as well.

I have read a lot of books on my journey toward keeping a more orderly home. Here are some of the best, the ones I would recommend if you are also the sort who finds reading a necessary component to any pursuit.

On Attitudes
  • Elisabeth Elliot. Discipline: The Glad Surrender. A meditation on the joy, comfort, and freedom of being “under orders” from God rather than subject to one’s own whims.

  • Kathleen Norris. Acedia and Me. A memoir reflection on sloth and despondency, how to name it and overcome it.

On Housekeeping
  • Margaret Peterson. Keeping House: The Litany of Everyday Life. A thoughtful treatment on how keeping house is a worthwhile endeavor.

  • Holly Pierlot. A Mother’s Rule of Life. A guide to bringing your house under intentional, thoughtful order.

  • Cheryl Mendelson. Home Comforts. A very readable manual for how to clean everything The Right Way, with a surprisingly uplifting introduction.

  • Sandra Felton. How Not to Be a Messie. For those to whom neatness does not come naturally, Felton offers explanations of our predicament and strategies for improvement.

  • Jane Austen. Mansfield Park. When Fanny returns to her family, her eyes and mine were open to the meaning behind slovenliness: individuals thinking only of their own ease and convenience.

  • Charles Dickens. Bleak House. Dickens has all manners of characters in all his novels whose strengths and weaknesses are communicated by how they care for or do not care for their own property and that of others.

  • Russell Kirk. Roots of American Order. This political history opened my eyes to how fundamental and needful order is.

  • G.K. Chesterton. Orthodoxy. The point that God repeats Himself and it is only adults who become wearied by repetition is only a fraction of the Chestertonian wisdom in this fascinating book.

  • Charlotte Mason. Home Education. A large part of the first volume of Charlotte Mason’s works on education could be summarized as “What you and your home are like is the most significant factor in your child’s life.”

  • The Heidelberg Catechism

Convivial Contentment: pretty, happy, and funny children living a real life



round button chicken

Another week, and I actually remembered to take a few pictures! This weekly feature is a good reminder and motivator for me to pull out my camera, because otherwise I rarely would. And I do like having pictures of ordinary days.

Pretty Curls

Just recently it seems like Geneva’s hair has burst into curl! I love it.

Happy Spring Math

Happy might be putting it a bit too strong, but the boys were grateful for a day to work on their math outside this week.

Unfortunately, it did not seem to help them complete it any faster. Turns out there are a lot of interesting things to stare at outside.

Funny Circle Time

I’m afraid we might have a drama queen on our hands.

Here she is rejoicing in the start of the music for Circle Time, reminding her mother of her Pentecostal childhood.

You can tell in her expression that she knows how funny she’s being. And she has a very appreciative, responsive audience of siblings. Ok, yes, and mother.

Real Organized. Right?

I took some quick photos to use for the cover of my free ebook (A Quickstart Guide to GTD for Moms) and my Goolge+ profile page. To me, this picture says, “Here’s to a great day!” I’ve got my paperless planning and my index card (if you missed it, I have a video about my index card). My iPod is my carry-everywhere brain and ubiquitous capture device.

Now, all I have to do is actually look at the things in the midst of the day! Turns out that it’s no good having lists if you don’t look at them.

My Interview with Jennifer Fulwiler: Pursuing Creativity & Beating Survival Mode



I had the honor of interviewing Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary this week, and she shared some key insights for our thriving as homeschool moms. I hope you’ll take the 12 minutes to watch it; it is packed full of helpful encouragement.

Posts mentioned in or related to this interview:

Mystie’s next hangout will be on homeschool planning; don’t miss it!