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Lucado Devo for Teens

My family has enjoyed Max Lucado's Hermie and Friends, a children's series that teaches bible lessons using stories of a fun caterpillar. He is much better known for his bestselling books on Christian living, though we haven't read any of these. 
The teens in my house used to be little boys who enjoyed the Hermie cartoons. Now they are grown and a little too old for Hermie (shhh...they've been known to watch along with their baby sisters...don't tell.) They are the perfect ages to enjoy Max Lucado's first devotional for teens.
One God, One Plan, One Life is a dated devotional to take you through 365 days of the year, encouraging teens to trust God and His perfect plan for their lives.
For some reason, my boys are thrilled that it is dated. It doesn't include the year's dates, just January 1st, January 2nd, etc. They really like knowing they are on track and this makes it easy. 
I love that it encourages daily quiet time and developing a personal relationship with God, not just moral relativism.
Each day's devotion is one page long. The pages aren't very long and the devotion is easily read in under 5 minutes. Each day begins with a short verse and then a few paragraphs illuminating the meaning of the verse in an applicable way. Each lesson ends with "One More Thought", a short paragraph sharing an extra life application to take to heart.

More than anything, the theme of the devotions seems to be defining Who God Is and what that means to us. They aren't in-depth Bible studies, but they are very thoughtful devotions and a great start to a teen's morning. They are short, but many teens find it difficult to squeeze in time for devotions before school in the morning. 

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com® book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”



Blissful Homeschool Essentials (part 5)

It's probably the most simple thing on the list, but it is absolutely essential to having days that run smoothly, days without huge interruptions, days that don't end with mama in tears: a menu plan.

It is the sentence most commonly known to make women across the world snap: "Mom, what's for dinner?" You were starting to feel pretty good about having survived that school day, weren't you? It was touch and go for a while, but no one died and you were finally going to put two coherent thoughts together for a second. And then...you realized your children needed to eat. Again.

Going to the store is out because you are still in yesterday's pajamas. There are Ramen noodles and canned peas and carrots, but the children will mutiny if you try that again. What to do?

Menu Plan.

I know, I know. I get it, I do. You are a free spirit, a rebel. You can't be tied down with trivialities like which main dish for which meal of the week. Homeschooling requires a bit of a rebel spirit, which is why I think this is such a common problem for so many of us. But trust me; it's worth it.

And I'll tell you a trick: if you cook meals on different days than what your plan says, you still get a twinge of the rebel thrill without the chaos of not having a plan at all.

Here is the plan I use for my family. I'd love to share it with you.

*for the record, we are not eating Grandma & Grandpa on Sunday. We're eating with them.
We choose meals together for the upcoming week. I write the ingredients I need to shop for in the side column and take it with me to the store. Once home, the page goes on the fridge where we can all see what to expect for the week. Or do we?

This marks the end of the Homeschool Essentials Blog Hop. There were 89 bloggers sharing 5 days of ideas, which could have you reading for a very long time. Well worth it! 








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**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links


Blissful Homeschool Essentials (part 4)

Yesterday, I mentioned having children do a Bible Study during their morning routine. Today, I want to focus on that. Training children in God's Word is absolutely essential to our homeschooling. Obviously, it's not essential to homeschooling as much as to parenting, but homeschooling does provide the advantage of extra time to focus on it.

In all honesty, it is easy to forget sometimes. Friends start talking about the impressive book lists their children are working through, the college credits they are earning while in high school, and the complicated essays they are writing. I begin to compare. I know better, but I do it. It doesn't matter if I was proud of their accomplishments just moments before; one word from another mom and it suddenly feels like we're all reading picture books, will never graduate, and are still forgetting when to use they're/their.

A good friend gave me the excellent advice to always remember why we started this homeschooling journey. I didn't start homeschooling so that I could one day write up a pretty transcript. I didn't even start homeschooling so that they could get into a good college. I wanted to give my children an excellent education, raising them up to be men and women who love God. I want them to live lives of integrity.

One way I work towards that is to raise them in the Word. This has looked different through different ages and stages. Our earliest devotional was Words and Thoughts to Help You Grow. I loved those moments cuddled up with my toddlers and preschoolers, pointing to things in the pictures and talking about what we read. I highly recommend this for a beginner devotion to do with your sweet littles. Kenneth Taylor actually has quite a few early devotionals.



Stepping Stones was probably our favorite devotion as a family. It was written so well and was enjoyed by our 4 year old all the way up to our 14 year old. In fact, there were many mornings that mom and dad found it quite needed! It has been hard for us to find many books that we felt really suited us to do as a family. Part of that may be that we were spoiled with this gem. Nothing else has suited us so well.




The study we're enjoying together now is Training Hearts, Teaching Minds. It is a collection of family devotions based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Each week features a different question. Each day of the week studies that question from a different perspective. These have been very enjoyable and something that everyone has been able to learn from. We went several years without a good fit and I wish we could have found this sooner!




We like to do a family study when we can all be together, but the kids still have a separate devotional time before breakfast. My teen boys recently enjoyed the ebook Bible study from Doorposts called Because You Are Strong. The girls really liked the Bible Study Guide For All Ages. We're now ready to start looking for another study and I would love to hear suggestions. What have you loved?

Read more great ideas from 89 other bloggers sharing their essentials this week, through the links below.

5 Days of Homeschooling EssentialsJody @ Because I’m Me
Melanie @ A Year of Jubilee Reviews
Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness
Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Sara @ Embracing Destiny
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind
Annette @ A Net in Time

Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 1
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 2
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 3
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 4
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 5




Blissful Homeschool Essentials (part 3)

1. Realistic Expectations
2. Morning Routine for Mom

And today?

Morning Routine for the kids. I confess, I just discovered this last week. But it has changed the way our entire days have gone and now that we know how great it is, it is absolutely essential. We call it our Morning 5. It took less than five minutes to implement and we love it.

We've always had a list of things that had to be accomplished before school started. At some point, everyone needs to eat and brush their teeth. The dog has to be walked and fed. I'd love for them to be dressed and have their beds made, but let's face it: those are low on the priority list.

Last week, I watched this 7 minute video from Shirley Solis and immediately implemented it. Shirley recommended listing five things that need finished before your child eats breakfast. If they don't finish, they don't eat. Mom doesn't need to nag or interrogate, just hold up five fingers and raise an eyebrow.

Now, the kids do their five immediately upon waking:
1. Make beds
2. Get ready (shower, brush hair)
3. Get dressed
4. Take care of Pet
5. Have Quiet Time

As I shared earlier, this has been quite convicting to me, requiring me to accomplish my 5 in plenty of time to do my #6: actually cook the breakfast.

In the past, we could take up to 2 hours to accomplish just 3 of the things on that list. We could delay starting school till lunch time. Once started, we could stay in pajamas till supper. Not always, certainly, but we definitely had our days. I am amazed at how quickly this made such a huge difference. Our morning routine is wrapped up tidily within an easy hour. Two weeks ago, we had lessons lasting till supper some nights. Now, everyone seems to be finished by 2:00!

Read more great ideas from 89 other bloggers sharing their essentials this week, through the links below.

5 Days of Homeschooling EssentialsJody @ Because I’m Me
Melanie @ A Year of Jubilee Reviews
Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness
Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Sara @ Embracing Destiny
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind
Annette @ A Net in Time

Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 1
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 2
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 3
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 4
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 5



Blissful Homeschooling Essentials (part 2)

While realistic expectations are right there at the top of the list, a morning routine for mom is an absolute essential to blissful homeschooling.

Morning Quiet for Mom

If you simply cannot find a way to have a morning quiet time, this next section is for you. If you are at the stage where it is finally possible to have one, you can skip on down the page.

When it isn't happening
For most moms, the perfect, peaceful morning routine is simply not possible. But all of the parenting, marriage, and Bible study books tell us we have to have it and so we feel guilty and frustrated at our lack of morning routine. Something to keep in mind about those books is that they were written. If that doesn't sound profound to you, stop and imagine yourself having the five minutes of uninterrupted time it would take to be able to compose a sentence, let alone a book. If someone was able to write those books, they were written by someone who has children old enough to buckle themselves into the car without spilling yogurt on their siblings when already late for church.

Some books will tell you that it is so important to have a morning quiet time that you simply must wake up at 4:00 a.m. if that's what it takes. I disagree. Your soul can't be well fed if it isn't well rested. Your children can't be well fed if you fall asleep with your face in the oatmeal pan. Believe me when I tell you: there is a season for restful, quiet mornings. If you still know the price of diapers, it is likely not your season yet. It will come. In the meantime, find ways to focus on God. Morning really is best, in whatever form you can get it.

If all you can grab is a Proverb while you're using the bathroom, grab that Proverb. Play worship music on Grooveshark while you cook breakfast. Read a child's devotional with your children - there's meat in there for you, too! Listen to Scripture Memory Songs in the car. They can be annoying as sin, but they still provide opportunities for you to be in the Word. When possible, yes, take a serious sit down with God. Try to make time for Bible study, for your sake and for your family's. But don't beat yourself up if it doesn't come easy. Seek God, but remember that seeking Him doesn't have to look like someone else's quiet time to be genuine. And remember that this season will pass and you will one day have the chance to spend leisurely time in the Word.

When you finally can
And then one day, you wake up and realize that you have the house to yourself for half an hour. Children are actually sleeping until 7:00 a.m. Some don't even wake up until you ask them to! Routines help everyone establish healthy sleeping routines...eventually. When it is possible, try to get to bed at a decent hour so that you can get 7-8 hours in. Wake up early enough to read your Bible and pray. Start your day right and it's amazing how the rest of the day can go.

I don't mean to brag, but to celebrate when I tell you that I AM FINALLY THERE!!!! I am frequently left alone to sleep for 7-8 hours at a stretch! My children are old enough to sleep in a bit. I finally have quiet time to myself in the morning. My morning routine is really working well for me and I want to share it in hopes that it can help someone else. I realize that it fitting me doesn't mean it will fit everyone, but hopefully it can at least help to encourage others to find what works for them.

I used to squeeze my prayer time in between snooze buttons. My husband's alarm went off and I couldn't make my body move, but I couldn't get back to sleep either. I started out just being irritated with him, but finally took advantage of that 10 minute snooze break to ease myself awake and to start praying before my feet hit the floor. It was a very drowsy 10 minutes, but it was still a blessed start to a day.

Today, I kiss my husband goodbye at 6:15 in the morning and then I curl up with my prayer journal. Some days, it is still just 10 minutes. Some days it is 10 minutes per prayer request. I found a system that I love for helping me remember what I want to pray for.



I start with this list of family members' names and pray for each of them specifically. The list goes on and I have a page for friends whom I pray for daily as well. After those pages, I have an ongoing list which I update each week as needed. I go through the list and pray over any unchecked boxes and can't help but stop and praise God for the answered prayers.


After this, I open up my Bible and begin to read. Sometimes long, sometimes short. When there is time, I read a bit of theology or study online. Currently, I don't have any scripture memory in my routine other than what I do with the kids.

I'm amazed at how those prayers over my children have impacted my days. I can see God's hand at work in their lives. I can see how God is tuning my heart to understand my children better. I am so grateful that He is humbling me to realize parenting moments that need prayer, not a lecture.

This is what is working for me at this season of my life. It is a really great season in this parenting journey. It took me a long time to get here. I wish I could go back and tell myself to cut me some slack. I remember the anguished prayers of repentance for not getting up earlier. I'm quite sure God was trying to tell me to shush and go back to bed. I was too tired to hear Him. Now, I'm pretty sure God is telling me to shush and step away from the computer. There is such a thing as too much free time.

How about you? What is working for you in your season of life? Have you found any tips or tricks for a healthy quiet time?

There are some fabulous tips being shared in this Blog Carnival. Be sure to check them out through the image link below, but especially my buddies whom I've listed here. Great stuff!


5 Days of Homeschooling EssentialsJody @ Because I’m Me
Melanie @ A Year of Jubilee Reviews
Emilee @ Pea of Sweetness
Nikki @ Angels of Heart
Sara @ Embracing Destiny
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind
Annette @ A Net in Time

Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 1
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 2
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 3
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 4
Blissful Homeschooling Essentials Part 5



Blissful Homeschooling Essentials

I've been homeschooling for over a decade. I have taught every age group, in one form or another. I organize our local homeschool group. I spend a lot of time researching and educating myself on homeschooling. I encourage new homeschool moms and help them get started on their journey. You would think, with all of this experience, that I would have some confidence in what I'm doing. By now, I surely have it all figured out, right?

No.

And who could? Sure, I've taught fractions before, but that was to a child who needed to twist in a swivel chair to learn. I taught fractions again, but it was to a visual learner who really didn't need me, just a workbook. The next fraction student was an auditory learner. How to do you teach fractions to an auditory learner??? We talked about pie a lot. The next student to learn fractions is coming up soon and I still haven't figured out her method. They are all so very different. Also, we change. Our life fluctuates and our abilities change.

All of that big intro was to say: no one has this figured out. There is no perfect method except the one that fits you and your family best. But don't get too attached to the method once you find it, because you'll likely have to change it at some point.

Keeping that in mind, how do you answer someone who wants to learn how to homeschool? I'm going to spend the upcoming week telling you about the things I feel are essential to working out so that your homeschool days work well.

Today's #1 essential thing you need in order to achieve your best possible homeschooling experience:

Realistic Expectations

Seriously. You have to jump into this game knowing that there is no perfect way to do it and you'll never nail that down. If you sign on for this job, you have to cut yourself some slack. You teach children. You are a teacher. It is very possible that you actually teach more than one student or age group. A public school teacher gets to teach her focused subject to her class. You have to teach many subjects to many different age groups and keep track of the other children at the same time. And you have to do it while feeding them, cleaning up after them, keeping the toddler from catching the house on fire, and nursing a baby. Does a public school teacher have to do that?

In addition to the teaching gig, you have the cooking, the laundry, the housekeeping, and a marriage to maintain. A very wise friend once told me that there are 5 things that you are called on to do each day, but it is only physically possible to do 4 of them, so choose wisely. They are:

  • Cook
  • Clean
  • Launder
  • Teach
  • "Hang Wallpaper" with your husband. 
(No, I don't mean you actually need to hang wallpaper, I just don't want this page showing up in a weird google search. You know what I mean.)

*If my husband and I did actually attempt to hang wallpaper together, I'm fairly certain one of us would die. 

There will be days when only 2 things on the list are possible. But it really isn't possible to do all 5, not well anyway and certainly not on a regular basis. If you are able to do all 5, keep it to yourself and don't make the rest of us look bad. 

Realistic Expectations. Truly essential to homeschooling well. Expect messes. Expect exhaustion. Expect learning experiences, for you and for them. Expect opportunities to grow closer to one another. Expect to let them down. Expect them to learn from your mistakes. Expect an adventure.

Please join me for the rest of the week as I share what I feel are the essentials to homeschooling successfully. There are many more experienced moms sharing what they feel are essentials this week through the Schoolhouse Review Crew Carnival. I'd love to share 10 friends who are also posting on this topic:

5 Days of Homeschooling Essentials


Paris in the Spring

I have some insanely cool news.

I am going to Paris.



Me. In Paris.

My parents called last week and asked if they could take their 4 daughters to Paris.






Um, yeah! A trip to Paris with my sisters!



I am stunned. And a bit scared. A lot scared. But mostly giddy.

All tips and suggestions welcome. More than welcome; they are deeply coveted!



Lazy Bum

So we've been implementing the things I've gleaned from the Shirley Solis videos and I've realized something terrible:

It's all my fault.

All of it! The forgetfulness, the slow pace, the procrastination...they get it from me. It started with our Morning Five. The first video recommended holding up my hand, showing five fingers to remind them to do their five things before the ate breakfast.

1. Make Bed
2. Get Dressed
3. Shower
4. Take care of dog
5. Bible Study

No one eats until they've done these things. Ethan missed breakfast before he headed off to band. Once is all it takes. Once we stopped our Christmas break and started our regular routine back up, it hit me that this means I have to have my five finished and then I have to make the breakfast in order for this to work. I didn't realize how lax I had become in our morning routine. I can make that morning routine take 2 hours some mornings! No wonder we get off to a rough start!

Such a simple thing, but it has changed our whole day. 


BOOKS!

I'm attempting a 52 in 52 for books this year, but it isn't nearly as flash or exciting as the family movie project. In fact, I'm not really in any way expecting or wanting to read 52 books, particularly not for the sake of having read 52 books, but I do want to read more purposefully and keep track of what I've read. Don't worry; I won't bore you with a weekly update. I plan to just update this old post throughout the year for my own benefit. Unless it's a really good book that I just have to share with you.

Here are the books enjoyed so far this year:


Murder on the Orient Express./
My first Agatha Christie novel.

What on EARTH was I waiting for all these years?? It was fabulous. It was clean and something I can comfortably hand over to the 14 year old to enjoy.

The ending was a bit anticlimactic, but very enjoyable. The verrrrry ending will make some interesting discussions with the boys about justice.

Have you read Agatha Christie? Do you have any favorites? Would you recommend any film versions?




An American Plague
by Jim Murphy

This one was highly recommended by I-don't-know-who and I snatched it up when it went on sale. I was surprised to find it riveting. It's an account of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793 and should have read like a boring textbook, but it didn't. I swear you could hear theme music in your head when reading it. It was like a biography, with nitty gritty accounts and descriptions of widespread implications. It is a biography of a virus. It read like a murder mystery.

The descriptions of the impact it had on government were also interesting. The plague hit Philadelphia, the center of the newly established, fresh and fragile government of the United States. The Constitution didn't allow for Congress to be called anywhere but in the city and the city was all but abandoned by govt. officials.


Stuff Parisians Like
"Discovering the Quoi in the Je Ne Sais Quoi
by Olivier Magny

I wanted to avoid looking like a goober of a tourist for my upcoming trip to Paris. I'm not certain this book helped a lot, but it was certainly entertaining. It was a hilarious read and I did learn a few important tips.

White socks are apparently a no-no.

"Seeing someone wearing white socks provokes an immediate and brutal reaction inside the Parisian. He is suddenly taken over by disgust and scorn. The white socks wearer is immediately removed from the community of human beings. As lenient as the Parisians would like to be, they simply cannot let some things slide."

I'll be buying dark socks and a pair of Chucks for the trip. I don't know if I can bring myself to wear skinny jeans. Is that even an option for a 30-something woman?


And that is all so far. I'm not sure what book to tackle now. I'm slowly reading through Pursuit of God, but my brain can only digest a couple pages per day. What have you been reading? Any favorites you could recommend?


Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus
by Nabeel Qureshi
(audiobook)

Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus is the true story of Nabeel Qureshi's journey to Christ. It is an incredible must "hear". While I'm sure the book is fabulous, I can't imagine it comparing to the audio version, read by Qureshi himself. So many words I could never pronounce, as he shares his Muslim upbringing! But they are beautifully and melodically read by the author. A beautiful story. You can read my full review of this book here. 







by Jane Austen

It has been years since I've read this one! I'd forgotten how good it is. It's one of Austen's earliest works, its original drafts being her first attempt at a full length novel. The writing is excellent and the story superb, but I realized this time through that the youth of the author did show through. The "heroine" of the story displays some subtle arrogance that doesn't seem to be recognized by the author. Also, this same character is sickeningly perfect, her story being that of the tragic, selfless martyr. These points didn't occur to me when I was reading it in my younger days. They certainly didn't slow down my enjoyment of the book! If anything, they increased it, making Austen seem all the more human. I wonder if I can convince the family to watch the movie version for our Family Movie Night.




Andy Stanley

A short, but powerful little book. It really is NOT what you think. It is more a book recognizing God's blessings and recognizing our need for giving...for living generously.

Chris even enjoyed this one and he rarely finds time to readA few pages in, he announced (without looking up): "He referenced Bryan Adams in the first page. I like it."

It's a tiny little book, but it packs a good punch.






The Virgin Diet
JJ Virgin

I really don't like fad diet books. This one does reek of a fad diet, due to the layout. I suspect this has more to do with the combination of a zealous author and unfortunate editing to fit a standard style. The diet plan itself is beautiful. It fully fits in with everything I've read over the last few years. It's food education that makes sense. It falls in nicely with Paleo eating, but at the same time explains why Paleo doesn't work well for everyone, particularly if those individuals have a sensitivity to eggs.

The idea is that food sensitivities (not to be confused with allergies) cause an inflammation response and make weight loss difficult, not to mention discomfort and lethargy. Avoiding the top 7 inflammation foods for 21 weeks allows your body to heal. Pounds are promised to drop quickly. After the 3 weeks are up, the foods should systematically be reintroduced to gauge the body's response. It is basically an elimination diet.

I've been on it for exactly 7 days now and I have lost 5 lbs. I was having a hard time getting motivated to stick to what I know works for my body and this book reminded me of why I need to do it. Only 5 more pounds before I'm comfortable posing for Paris pictures!

I did skip about a gazillion testimonials and the recipes, which make up about half of the book.


The Princess Plan: Shrink your waist. Expand your beauty.
by Dr. Jennifer Hanes

This was a free kindle offer and I really enjoyed it. This book also falls in line with much of what I know about paleo-friendly eating. It offers much more though. This was a joy to read and the author genuinely seems to be trying to reach out and encourage a friend.

She offers tips on quick workout bursts and how their timing with meals is key to boosting metabolism. She offers tips on how to wear clothing that accentuates the beauty of the female body. She offers shopping tips, cooking tips, and more. She also shares pinterest boards and other helpful tools to help you on your journey. I love this one.






A Fortunate Grandchild
by Miss Read

I discovered Miss Read's Village School series last year and love it. They are clever and subtle and gentle and enjoyable. This book is her memoir of her grandmothers. It is a sweet book and just as enjoyable as her fiction stories.

If you haven't discovered Miss Read, I recommend giving it a try the next time you have a chilly day and a cup of coffee. These are excellent stories for a day when you could use some calm entertainment.






Curly Girl: The Handbook
by Lorraine Massey

I do NOT have curly hair. Quite the opposite. But my youngest daughter has the odd combination of curly, wavy, and straight hair. The bottom layer comprises a mix of pure Botticelli Curls and Wavy Hair. It is covered by a thin layer of straight hair. The end result is a ratty looking mess. To top it off, her hair is thin and fine. It comes to her rear and is a perpetual mess. No matter how perfectly we brush it, it looks completely unbrushed, unwashed, and unloved within minutes.

The book identifies may different hairtypes and offers tips for handling each individual type. It is well written and I found myself reading about other curl styles that I will never have the opportunity to style. I suppose it was a waste of time to read, but it was interesting all the same.

The book offers lots of recipes for treatments and things to look for in products for your unique hair type. I hope to shop this afternoon for a shampoo and conditioner for my daughter's hair.


Parisian Chic
by Ines de la Fressange

This was a fabulous read! Fressange shares simple tips (with pictures!) to help you work out a basic Parisian wardrobe. She also offers fabulous stores, restaurants, and much more to check out during a visit to Paris or a shopping trip online.

I've bookmarked about 20 pages in the book and started my capsule wardrobe with many of her suggestions. A wool blazer was one of the first things she mentioned, but I didn't imagine it was something I would get use out of. But I Found one at the thrift store for $3 and gave it a try. I love it! Paired with a t-shirt, jeans, and ballet slippers, a blazer is actually kind of cute! Now for the perfect scarf...



Building Character with Children

Every year, I try start things out right with a parenting book to refresh my memory on this very important parenting gig. This year, I've started watching these free videos from Shirley Solis instead of a book. We've only gone through a couple so far, but they have been fabulous.

I'll be honest; I kind of pride myself on my parenting. I work hard to be a good parent. But as diligent as I've been to learn the best way to do things, I've still be happily surprised with the simple tips shared so far. In one week, attitudes and habits are already improved.

Are you frustrated with your children's attitudes? Do you wish the children helped around the house without needing to be prompted over and over again? Want to start the year off right and finally train your children consistently? They are all natural parenting struggles and they are all covered in this series.

Building Character with Children 

Building Character with Children is a brand new video-based program with homeschool mom, author, and speaker Shirley Solis. In these short, 7-minute videos, Shirley shares her experience as a mom of 6 children, with tips and tricks to build strong, desirable character traits in your children! In Building Character with Children, you will learn:
  • How to train your children to learn a new habit in just a few minutes a day (so you won’t have to keep repeating yourself!)
  •  The 3 reasons why your children don’t do their chores AND what to do about it!
  • What to do about sibling rivalry and how to resolve conflicts easily and peacefully!
  • The #1 reason why children are lacking character today and how to change that!
You do have to register with your email address before accessing the videos, but I did so a week ago and my inbox hasn't been bombarded in any way. I really love everything I've seen so far and would love to hear your thoughts!




Goals for 2014

Our family goal this year isn't to eat more vegetables or do better deeds. It is to watch more television. Is that terrible?

We've taken to scattering in different directions in the evenings and our new goal is to gather together for reading, board games, and family movies. I've done several years of the 52 books in 52 weeks plan. We're doing a 52 movies plan! Obviously the games and reading sessions will have us bonding even more than the television watching, but this made a fun goal for us and will help cement the habits of time together. It falls in line with our word of the year quite well, really.


If you knew us well, you'd understand how bizarre this goal is for us. We love to read together, but we don't watch much television. We don't even have a television, but are watching on a computer monitor.

We started our goal last night by watching Despicable Me 2, which was a blast. It was immature and included bathroom humor, but it was still hilarious and we had fun cuddling up on our bed with the kids.

Here are the movies on our Watch List (not in order)
  1. Despicable Me 2
  2. Herbie the Love Bug
  3. Strongest Man in the World
  4. The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes
  5. Princess Bride (favorite)
  6. The Lost Medallion
  7. Meet Me in St. Louis
  8. Holes & Nacho Libre (they were not hits and probably shouldn't count as 2)
  9. Mirror, Mirror
  10. Escape From Planet Earth
  11. Chennai Express
  12. Muppets in Space
  13. Frozen
  14. The Sandlot
  15. That Darn Cat
  16. Arsenic and Old Lace
  17. Saving Mr. Banks
  18. Kid Histories
  19. The Lego Movie
  20. North and South
  21. Brewster's Millions
  22. Doctor Who: The Widow and the Wardrobe
  23. Ever After
  24. Horrible Histories
  25. Elf (favorite)
  26. MegaMind (favorite)
  27. Horton Hears a Who
  28. Veggie Tales
  29. Wreck It Ralph
  30. Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs
  31. Peabody and Sherman
  32. Christmas Vacation
  33. Francis the Talking Mule
  34. Hoodwinked (favorite)
  35. Meet the Robinsons (favorite)
  36. So Dear to my Heart
  37. National Velvet
  38. The African Queen
  39. Babe
  40. Misty
  41. A Man Called Peter
  42. Shane
  43. Black Beauty
  44. Secondhand Lions
  45. Herbie Goes Bananas
  46. Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo
  47. Herbie Rides Again
  48. Horse in the Grey Flannel Suit
  49. Now You See Him
As you can see, the list isn't nearly long enough and I could really use some more ideas.  It will get easier at Christmas time, with so many Christmas favorites, but I'm not ready to think about those yet. In the meantime, we're entertaining boys and girls ages 8 through 16.  We tend to avoid things with witchcraft or my-purpose-in-life-is-to-find-my-prince themes. Any suggestions for us? What is on your family watch list?

Our monthly movie updates and reviews:

January
February
March
April
May
Summer Edition
Fall Edition