Resolutions. But not REALLY.

I don't officially make New Year's resolutions.  Or at least I don't call them that.   I do like to reflect on my habits and try to make some changes.

The list from my journal is below, with notes made in italics for how these things are going, nearly a month in:

Read my Bible exclusively (no books this year, except homeschool-related) 
Oh boy.  This one is really, really hard.  I really miss reading.  Especially in the bathtub.  :)  And also in bed before I go to sleep.  The up-side is that I think I am picking up my Bible more, and I'm definitely journalling more, and praying more, too.  It's a little alarming that it hasn't even been an entire month and it's been this difficult, and I did spend a good deal of time trying to talk myself out of this whole idea of mine.  And yet.  I really believe that good fruit will come from this, and I don't want to miss out on that.  So I persevere.... :) 

Pray that I would live by the Spirit, keeping in step with the Spirit (Gal.5) 
This has long been a prayer of mine.  I am trying to be intentional about studying and praying through this Galatians passage and also Romans 8.  I really want to learn to be attuned to His voice throughout my days with the kids; that I would surrender my authority (reactions, responses) to HIS; and that I would be keen to it when I'm not.  Does that make sense?  So that's been my prayer.

Monitor internet time (20-30 minutes/day... set timer? add internet log onto my clipboard?) 
I am terrible with this.  I have really loved it when I have done this.  Set a timer, it goes off way before I feel ready, and I get off the computer.  Such freedom.  But I miss reading books so much that I find myself wanting to read MORE on the internet, which is exactly the opposite of the point.  I have good success when I write down ahead of time what I want to do that day, online: check email, look up recipe/pattern on Pinterest, check Facebook.  Then I'm purposeful about where I go and it helps me not to wander around online. 

Resume exercise (at least 20 min/day, every day but Sunday) 
At the end of October I tore my plantar fascia.  For anyone not familiar with that, the plantar fascia is a strip of tissue at the bottom of the foot that extends from the toes to the heel.  It's painful when that tears.  The doctor told me to keep "immobile" and stay off my foot.  (I laughed.)  I haven't been able to exercise in a few months, and that's been a sad thing.  Not that I love exercising, but I have learned that it's good for me, not just physically, but mentally.  But walking was out, as was jogging, which is what I was doing, along with 30-Day Shred.  At the beginning of January I finally purchased a stationary bike and have been using that for 30 minutes a day for exercise.  So I'm back in a discipline of exercise, and am looking forward to being able to walk and run again... someday.

Send more cards of encouragement (including to Mark and the kids)
I think I am doing more overall, and I'm glad about that.  

Start saving change toward our 20-year anniversary trip 
There's now a jar on our dresser labelled  20 Years! that we're throwing our change in.  :)

Be grateful; practice a first-response of gratitude, not criticism or complaining 
I'm sure I will desire this until the day that I die.  I keep praying for this.

Be diligent in household tasks: see a mess and desire to tackle it; overcome it for peace in our home
I try.  I am tackling the laundry much more.

Eat healthier: use My Fitness Pal to keep track of calories for a season.
This is sort of hilarious because as I was making this list, I was porking out on BBQ chips ;)  Chips are my nemesis for eating healthy.  I can walk right past a plate of cookies or dessert and not EVEN be tempted, but chips?  I love. Sigh.  I have been tracking fairly regularly on MFP.

Set phone alarm for 9:45pm and go to bed earlier
This is sort of laughable, because that alarm went off for a few nights and I just turned it right off and we went to bed hours later, as usual.  Baby steps.  We have made it to bed before midnight a few times this month, and that, my friends, is progress.  

* * *

LEGO | Beach scene

Lego bricks are a major fixture in our home.  

Yours, too? 

Isaac (11) is always coming up with new creations, but I especially liked his latest:


And here's the whole set-up, complete with a boy building a sandcastle, a sunbather, the surfer, and a lifeguard-- who'd better get moving


Keeping | Nature Study Journals

Whenever we sit down with our nature journals, outdoors or indoors, I think "Why don't we do this more often?"  We love this.

Last week I grabbed a vase of flowers, a stick from the yard, and a snipping off of our camellia tree, set them all in the middle of the table, and we painted.  Well, they painted while I read aloud, and then I joined them when I'd finished the chapter and they were still working.  ;)


This one is from my five-year-old:

and this, from my six-year-old:

I was so proud of her because sitting still is nearly impossible for her and she generally lasts about a minute during any crafting time.  But she painted!  And look: you can even make out a flower there on her page.  :) 

This next one is from my nine-year-old:


and this, from the eleven-year-old:


This one is Ella's (age 13):


Finally, here's mine.  (Don't look too closely, though, because I misspelled Camellia when I first wrote it.  I've since changed it but this picture bothers me because of the typo.  ;))


Linking up with Celeste at Joyous Lessons

First day back after our "December" break ;)

Today was our first day back to school.  I had planned to begin last week, but two of the kids were sick so my good intentions fell apart. What we DID do last week was make and mail out all of our Christmas thank you cards (which is no small undertaking; I think we sent out nearly 30 cards) and we took a field trip to see some eagles who were fishing for salmon at a nearby river. 


But this week?  We're in.  We are gradually easing our way back to routine. 

Our (light) schedule for today was:

Devotions (independent Bible time)
Breakfast (oatmeal)
   Bible & narrations
   My ABC Bible Verses
Outside Time (20 min)
Ella: Piano practice
Isaias: Spelling
Isaac: storytime with the little girls
Read-aloud (I began reading Little House in the Big Woods; I read it in 2008 with the older three, but now I get to read it again so that the little girls can appreciate it.)
Nature Study
Picture Study: Diego Velazquez
Isaac: Piano practice

That's it!  What we didn't do that would normally be on our Monday schedule:

-me, waking up by 6:30.  (I woke at 7:45)
-memory work at breakfast
-Daily Checklist (for the older three): Math, Copywork/Cursive and Assigned reading

But it was a good first day back!

Hope you had a wonderful day!

This post contains affiliate links. 

Best Books of 2014

I read a lot.  (In 2014 I read over seventy books.)  I've selected one book (well, okay... sometimes two.  *ahem*  ...or three) from each category that I generally read from, and have listed them for you (with affiliate links) below.

A Mother's Heart: A Look at Values, Vision, and Character for the Christian Mother by Jean Fleming
This was my second time reading this book, and it was encouraging and vision-building and affirming of my calling as a mother.  I am thankful there are mothers out there with grown children that write these kind of books which hearten and encourage me as a mother.

The Living Page: Keeping Notebooks with Charlotte Mason by Laurie Bestvater
I reviewed this book here, but I will say that several months later, I am still inspired by the ideas Bestvater laid out in this book, and this is a book I hope to return to again and again for a refresher on the habit and art of keeping.
The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman 
Emma by Jane Austen

A Life Intercepted: A Novel by Charles Martin
I chose The Light Between Oceans because when I finished it, I immediately got online to see what else this author had written.  It was that good.  [I reviewed it here.]

I chose Emma because I love Mr. Darcy's discussion of duty and the wittiness Austen gave to so many characters in this book.
I chose A Life Intercepted because the way Martin unfolds a story- any story- even a story about a football player- is magical.

The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers by Harry Bernstein
The Invisible Girls: A Memoir by Sarah Thebarge

The Invisible Wall: A Love Story That Broke Barriers is an incredibly well-written story of a family struggling to make ends meet in a mill town in England in the early 1900's.  One side of their street housed Jewish families, the other side, Christian families.  When I finished this one, Ella read it.  Then Mark read it.  They both thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Invisible Girls: A Memoir is about a girl in her late twenties who randomly meets an African mother with her daughters on a bus.  Rather than minding her own business, she minds theirs, and meets some very practical and relational needs of this struggling family. 

The Pleasures of Reading in an Age of Distraction by Alan Jacobs
Jacobs, a professor of literature, is a kindred because he loves books I appreciated his thoughts on reading at whim and on all sorts of other things bookish.

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare
Mary Emma & Company by Ralph Moody 
Cheaper by the Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth  *some editing required for language

I couldn't choose just one!  All of these we loved.  Cheaper by the Dozen is our current read-aloud, and it is laugh-out-loud funny. 

* * *

As I've pondered the hundreds of pages that I've read over this last year, I came up with a radical idea: to read only God's Word for 2015.  That every time I have a hankering to read, I will pick up my Bible and do just that.  Of course, just as soon as I thought it, I wavered.  One year seems so.long.  I read every single day.  I contemplated three months or even six... and yet eventually settled upon a year.  Will I not sacrifice a year of good books for more of THE Good Book; the living, God-breathed Word?  I am hungry for more of Jesus in my life, and I am excited about this venture.  The one exception to this rule is that I will still read books aloud to my kids, and I can consult books I own for homeschooling ideas/plans.

Our Handmade Christmas

We are just now getting over the hubbub of Christmastime.  I love it that we get to spend so much time with our extended family over the holidays-- we really love them all so much, and what a blessing it is for us to gather with our parents and each of our siblings and their spouses and their kids and laugh and eat and play games.  And then to get to see my grandpa and aunts and uncles and cousins on both sides?-- so thankful.

Our own little handmade Christmas was a delight, as always.  Mark had Isaias' name, and made him a football card game.  He was delighted.


I had Audra's name, and made her this:



and these little books for her to use for drawing during church:


Ella had Isaac's name and made him a book of mazes and riddles and puzzles and games, and an empty jar with a treasure map inside.  He had to follow the map to find his treasures-- (candy, hidden throughout the house), to fill his jar.  It was a fun treasure hunt.  :)
Isaac had my name and is working on a shoe rack for our entryway, but didn't finish in time.  I can't wait to see it.  :)

Isaias had Adelia's name, and wrote and illustrated her a story, with all sorts of her favorite things in it and inside jokes.  It made her giggle so I think it was a success.  It was such a thoughtful gift.
I know this is a blurry photo, but this captured just how delighted she was as she was reading the book!
Adelia had Ella's name and made her some bookmarks, with a promise that she'd also "take her on a date". ;)


And finally, Audra had Mark's name.  We bought a white pillowcase and some fabric markers and she went to town on a new pillowcase for daddy.  He loved it.  :)

We also spent an evening going through the Samaritan's Purse gift catalog and giving gifts there, too.  (It's one of our favorite Christmas traditions!)

We are going to ease into school this week and be back full time next week.  I am thankful to be heading back into routine. 

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas!  And blessings to you for a fresh new year.  :)