Saturday, May 31, 2014

Weekend Links - May 31, 2014

May went by in a hurry (you can see a recap of our May here). There are more things on the schedule for today so on to the links:

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Homeschooling / Education
Writing / Reading
In the News (all from The Federalist)
What caught your eye this week?

This post may be linked here:

Friday, May 30, 2014

Amazing May: A Month in Review

Our May by the numbers:
  • 7 birthdays
  • 33: how old I am now
  • 2 huge birthday parties
  • 1 birthday date at Pappadeux
  • 1 anniversary - my sister & her husband
  • 1 graduation with a Master's (another sister)
  • 1 highschool graduation (a friend)
  • 1 Mother - Daughter - Friend banquet at our church
  • 2 visits to the zoo (once with some friends)
  • 1 event at the library where we met up with Darth Vader
  • 1 trip to TN / KY
  • 1 trip to another church where Philip preached & shared our camp program
  • 4 kites flown (with varying degrees of success)
  • 1 epic bike wreck (Tigger)
  • 1 trip to a strawberry patch
  • 1 awards ceremony for our Wednesday night kids' program
  • 1 air conditioning unit out of commission. I'd share the numbers for what we've paid to "fix it" (didn't work) and now we're paying to replace it (yet to happen) with you, but I'd rather not think about it right now. 
  • 48 items checked out on my library card
  • 93 items checked out on Philip's library card (mostly for the girls' school)
  • 1,095 pictures taken, not including the ones on our phones
Books read in May: at least 10. (Check back next week for my post about that)
Books reviewed in May: Heart Wide Open by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson.
Two books published in 2014 that I read in May:


But you'll have to check back next week to see my mini-reviews.

Blog Posts in May: 29 (once I get my Weekend Links post up)
My favorite posts this month:
On Creative & Domestic I shared about our Play Ball! Party for the iBoy's First Birthday, which the girls said was "Our best party, ever!" So, that's a pretty good endorsement.

What did you do in May?
This post is linked here:

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Throwback Thursday: Artist-ing

Throwback Thursday is when I bring back a post from over a year ago.

This week: Artist-ing, from April 26, 2008.

What I Like About It: It's just a sweet moment with my oldest that encouraged me to consider my own attitude.

What I'd Change About It: I would have shown you the picture, or at least a picture of sweet 6 year old Polly. Like this one, taken about the same time:
How about you? Do you ever read through your old posts?

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

INTJ Mom / ESFP Daughter: Perfect Opposites

One thing I've learned as a parent: each child is different. I  know, not exactly a groundbreaking thought right there. But I have 4 daughters, and while some of their similarities are striking, their differences are what catch my attention.

Two of my daughters are most likely Introverts, as I am. At least one of them may be an INTJ (which would be funny because that's supposedly the rarest type for females. To have two of us in one house would be wild).

My third daughter is not. My study of Myers-Briggs types and the books I've read about parenting by type or finding out your child's type (see end of this post for recommendations) lead me to believe she is an ESFP.

For those of you keeping track, that means she is different from me in every way:
  • I'm an Introvert. I crave quiet time and deep conversations. She's an Extrovert. She craves noise and crowds and joyful, exuberant talks.
  • I'm Intuitive. I see a big picture and don't, as a general rule, obsess about the details. I have a rich (not to say fantastical) thought life. She's Sensing. She needs repetition and concrete information, step by step guidance through a task. Her pretend play is all based on reality and she prefers audience participation.
  • I'm a Thinker. I prefer logic and reason. A good argument invigorates me. I sometimes don't understand what others are feeling. She's Feeling. She has emotions near the surface. Her feelings are hurt easily but she's also sensitive to the feelings and hurts of others. She comforts and encourages. She craves harmony.
  • I'm Judging. Routine is my friend. If I say I'll do something, I will come what may. I hate surprises. I'll be on time. Deadlines are inviolable. She's Perceiving. She loves surprises. She forgets what she was doing, while she's doing it. She enjoys new experiences and is always looking out for the next thing.
This might surprise you, but this particular child, different - so different - from me in so many ways, is a joy for me to parent.  Here's why it works for us:
  1. She shows me a new perspective on the world. Her delight is contagious.
  2. She's a peacemaker in our sometimes intense household.
  3. Her compassion for others reminds me to engage my empathy muscle. 
Here are a few things I have to remember while parenting this child:
  1. She's not trying to annoy me when she's right at my elbow, talking a mile a minute. She craves company, and she processes information externally (that just means she needs to talk things through).
  2. She is not necessarily being defiant when she neglects a chore or task. She genuinely has good intentions, but she's also easily distracted and forgetful.
  3. She needs things broken into steps (her "S" vs. my "I"). Telling her "Take care of your laundry" doesn't work. Telling her, "Put your clean shirts away" and then telling her, "Now put away your clean P.Js" does.
  4. Her multiple outfit changes a day are not purposely wasteful. She's S. She needs new outfits if the temperature changes or she finds out we're going somewhere she didn't expect. Just because I have a fairly typical uniform - and once I'm dressed I don't usually change - doesn't mean she has to.
  5. Sometimes I need to respond to her feelings with feelings instead of logic. She needs me to empathize, hear her out, kiss the wound, bring the ice pack (even if it doesn't look "that bad" to me), hold her hand, or commiserate about the situation.
  6. She also needs me to teach her not to be controlled by her emotions. This is a skill she can learn. She needs to understand that always relying on feelings is dangerous and could be construed as manipulative, even if she's not trying to manipulate.
  7. She needs me to applaud her efforts. Specific praise is always better than "That's nice honey." Gentle suggestions for improvement may be in order, but proceed with caution. "Constructive criticism" will not work.
  8. I need to explain to her my need (and her sisters' need) for alone time so we can recharge. I need her to know that Daddy and I can talk heatedly about a subject and not be angry, and discussions definitely do not mean we're upset with her.
As an INTJ, I crave independence and autonomy. As an INTJ parent I grant as much independence to my children as I can. It took me a long time to realize that this particular child likes me to wash her hair, not because she's incapable, but because she likes my company and how skillfully and gently I can get those suds out of her curly hair.
Each of my children is a blessing, but this particular pairing is a match only God could have made, and I'm thankful every day that He did.

Have you noticed your children's personalities? How do their differences or similarities affect your parenting?

Recommended resources (may contain Affiliate links):


Linked up with:
http://timewarpwife.com/?p=3356

Monday, May 26, 2014

Book Review: Heart Wide Open


Heart Wide Open: Trading Mundane Faith for an Exuberant Life with Jesus by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Heart Wide Open is one of those books where you feel like you've pulled up a chair in the author's kitchen and you're sharing over cups of tea or coffee. The tone is chatty, but deep truth and scripture is handled with care and precision.

It may not be the most groundbreaking book on Christian Living, but the 8 chapters get right down to the nitty-gritty of what it means to live a life devoted to Christ, what that looks like, what it sounds like, and what to do when we (inevitably)mess it up.

I would recommend this book for a ladies' Bible study. There are helpful questions for each chapter (these are located at the end of the book instead of after each chapter as I would prefer, but that's simply a matter of preference) to help you get started.

Here are a few quotes that I copied into my commonplace book:
The practice of acknowledging God and living for Him rather than struggling to be known for our own accomplishments frees us from the need [...]for the world's approval.

Everyone feels the occasional need to talk things through with a flesh-and-blood person, but it shouldn't be because we haven't taken or won't take the time to dispose of our feelings correctly by taking them to our Father.

Every word or act we can't forgive is a word or act we are bound to relive, and with each remembrance the bitterness spreads deeper into our souls.
See? I enjoyed the author's friendly Southern tone (and she can make her readers laugh out loud) but she also doesn't mind stepping on your toes. And that's a good thing.
You can find out more with these links:
I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are my own. Post may include affiliate links.

Memorial Day 2014


I hope we never forget: it isn't just a long weekend.

Some related links:

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Weekend Links - May 24, 2014

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Homeschooling / Education
In the News
Writing
What caught your eye this week?

This post may be linked here:

Friday, May 23, 2014

10 Things I Wish I Had Known About Blogging

1. Build Community. I had people comment on my posts in the early days that I didn't respond to for one reason or another. Those could have been my long-time blogging buddies by now. And I commented on a lot of "bigger" blogs, not realizing that those bloggers didn't have the time, even if they had the inclination, to respond to or encourage less known bloggers.

2. Aim for an Audience Outside of Family. I didn't start the blog to be private, family only updates but I also didn't make it easy for new readers - I assumed they knew who I was and where I was coming from.

3. Plan Ahead Instead of Reacting. My thought process in the early days went like this: "Oh such and such popular blog is hosting a link up on Friday? That one is hosting this other unrelated link-up on Wednesday? Hurry, create something that fits!" I felt like my content needed to match the link-ups I knew about. I squeezed my writing into boxes created by other bloggers.

4. Finding Your Own Voice Takes Longer Than You Think. My first posts, when I re-read them now, I can almost tell which "Big" (or at least "Bigger") blogger I had been reading before I wrote because I'm a mimic (even in real life). Developing my own authorial voice was not a natural thing.

5. Take More Pictures. Excuse time: I didn't have a good camera and I didn't know how to use any photo editing software. Consequently, pictures are few and far between (and tiny!) in many posts. Even now, I'm a beginner in this whole "take a picture, make a graphic" thing, but I'm enjoying learning about it. Just because words are my favorite medium doesn't mean I should just forget about photos, graphics, etc.

6. Leave Politics Alone. I used to love talking about politics. I read The Corner (National Review) and bloggers like Karen Braun (Spunky Homeschool) and I thought I could do that too. Turns out: I can't. I don't have thick enough skin and there are so many other things I'd rather talk about in this space. And I don't like scaring off my potential friends and readers by promoting one politician over another. I have opinions (STRONG ones!) about politics, but as a general rule, this blog is not really where I prefer to discuss them. (A few opinions and links do slip through. Hey, I promised to be Candid. It's right there in the title!)

7. Be Consistent. I still struggle with this. When I look through my old posts I see far too many, "Don't really have much to blog about, be back soon," kind of posts. Maybe I was busy, maybe I was just tired, maybe I should have taken a meaningful break. I try to be more direct about that these days. I'm also experimenting with posting every day (except Sunday). It's been a challenge but writing begets writing, ideas inspire yet more ideas, and creativity spurs further creativity. Now I have a notebook of ideas and I need to find time to finesse them into actual posts. This is a fun problem to have.

8. Learn to Promote Without Feeling Manipulative. I struggle with this. I have trouble saying, "Hey, I wrote this. Please read it!" I resisted Google Plus and I still haven't figured out my Facebook page. But self-promotion isn't always wrong and I'm working through the mental blocks I have against it. (I'm an Introvert. It goes against everything in me to say, "Hey! Look at me!")

9. Be Cheerful and Encouraging. In the early years (and, OK, longer than that) my posts were a lot of venting. I stay at home, homeschooling my children. My husband is sometimes the only other adult I see within the span of days. I didn't have a lot of outlets and writing has - ever since I could hold a pencil - always been how I process feelings and events. But reading through those posts now, they just sound whiny and negative to me. Yuck. No one likes a champion complainer and I certainly don't want to be one. Does that mean I'll never write another "venting" post again? Probably not. But I want to proportion to be right.

10. Keep Stretching. I don't have hundreds of followers or thousands of hits a day. I'm not making any money (other than some Amazon affiliate money once a year or so, which just about pays for my hosting fees). But that's OK. I can produce posts I'm pleased to call my own. I can enjoy the online friendships that have grown. I can stop comparing myself to the big fish in the pond and just be happy to be swimming here. I can learn new blogging skills. (How to write an eBook or make printables, any one?)

Here are some posts about blogging that have encouraged or inspired me:
What about you? What do you wish you had known when you started your blog?
This post is linked here:
http://www.reallifeathome.com/10-june-activities-for-catholic-families-free-printable/


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Throwback Thursday - "Friendship Bread"

Throwback Thursday is when I resurrect a post older than one year old.

Today's post: Friendship Bread, Falsely So-Called from June 22, 2007.

What I Like About This Post: It's an incident in my family's life that I would have completely forgotten if I hadn't blogged about it. And if I forget, then I might accept a starter from some friend and then the whole thing would start over again. That must never happen.

What I'd Do Differently Now: Pictures. I know, that's what I always say. But it's doubly true this time: why didn't I take pictures of all those things I made? Also, I wouldn't have changed the font like that. Back then I just couldn't settle on a default font.

How about you? Do you have an old post that your readers should see?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Notes from the GHC - The Well-Prepared Middle School Student

I don't exactly have a favorite homeschool guru, but Susan Wise Bauer comes close. I admire her thought process, I respect her books, I appreciate her skill in giving a truly high quality seminar in a convention setting.

This year I only made it to one of her workshops, but it was well worth it: The Well-Prepared Middle School Student. If you didn't get to hear it at the convention, she has graciously made her slides available at her website: The Well-Trained Mind, Workshops and Handouts. (Other sessions by SWB and her mother are also available)

These notes I'm sharing with you are not as thorough as the pdf I mentioned above, they're just the notes I took while listening to her speak. I took 3 closely-written scribbled pages of notes during this session: so much valuable information!

Monday, May 19, 2014

33 Facts from 1981

Today I am 33. I know, I can't believe it either. But the math doesn't lie (2014-1981=33).

Rather than dwell on age, I made a list of facts from 1981. Some of these show how much life has changed, some how much has stayed the same, and they all tell you a little more about me (even if it's just the fact that I felt they were worth listing):

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Weekend Links - May 17, 2014

Once again we have a lot going on this weekend - my baby sister is graduating with her Master's. I'm so proud of her and all her hard work but I'm also having trouble reconciling my mental image of her as, well, my baby sister.

So, anyway, we're off to a graduation ceremony this afternoon. (We may need to print out this Graduation Bingo from Wired.)

Just in case you have a lazy, rainy Saturday ahead of you, I have a lot of links for you this week!

Spiritual / Inner Life
Marriage / Parenting
Homeschooling / Education
In the News
    For Fun
    That's a lot of inspiration for one weekend! What caught your eye?
    This post is linked here:

    Friday, May 16, 2014

    1 Easy Way to Get Your Kids to Drink More Water this Summer

    Last summer we were living in a rental house with no dishwasher. For a family of seven, the lack of a dishwasher was almost as bad as the lack of a washer and dryer (a post for another day!).

    My children are good about drinking water, but they're not so great about keeping track of who was using which cup. Washing all the cups every day was not a great plan for any of us, considering none of us particularly enjoyed washing dishes.

    I found the answer at Hobby Lobby:
    they had the cutest little water bottles in four colors, which worked out well for us since we have four girls (the little guy was just a baby, too young for his own water bottle).

    This solved several problems:
    • encouraging the kids to drink a lot of water during the hot summer days
    • keeping track of which cup belonged to which child
    • fewer spills 
    We wash them when they need it or at the end of the week. They are only used for water so they are rarely sticky or gross. The kids are allowed to take them outside, but they usually just keep them in the fridge to stay cold.

    When I bought ours they were on sale and I paid $0.60 each. $2.40 for peace of mind and fewer dishes is money well spent and we still have them this summer.

    And yes, they could be further customized or decorated. If you're wondering why I haven't, let me just plead the excuse: I have five children. The only problem now is the iBoy (1 year old) wants one too.

    How do you get your kids to drink more water? Do you have a favorite way of keeping track of cups?
    Linking up with:
    http://abirdandabean.com/2014/06/good-tips-tuesday-4.html

    Thursday, May 15, 2014

    Throwback Thursday: Tigger, Lili, Darth Vader and Rosie Red

    Long ago, in April of 2007, one of the first posts I did on this blog was about our then two year old Tigger. This is the post that made Tigger (semi-) famous, among the 5 or so people outside of my family who read the blog.

    This is the post: Tigger and the "Black Man."

    It was a fun experience and it was fun to write about it in what I hope was a light and humorous tone.

    What I like about it: remembering a family story that still makes us laugh when we think about it

    What I'd change: well, the picture is pretty small.

    So, why am I sharing this old post with you now? Well, because last Saturday we were back at the library and guess who was there too?
    Tigger was, as you can see, not as affected by his presence this time around.

    And Miss Lili, who absolutely flipped out when this lovely lady, Rosie Red, got on an elevator with us at a ballgame last year in five minutes so traumatic she still talks about it occasionally ("I don't like Rosie!"), batted not an eyelash when greeted by Darth Vader.

    I can't explain that. But I can assure you: life with this crew is never dull.

    Do you have an old post you love? What would you change about it now?

    Tuesday, May 13, 2014

    5 Reasons I Said Goodbye to Deals Blogs

    We all know that one simple way to curb our spending is to stay out of the stores. This is an easy way to cut clutter & the budget at the same time, because if you're not in Bath & Body Works, you won't talk yourself into buying 5 bottles of soap, just because it's cheaper that way.

    And if you're not in T.J. Maxx you won't even see that cobalt skirt marked down to a crazy low clearance price. (Yeah, you already have a cobalt skirt, but this one is a-line. So versatile!)

    If you're not in World Market, you won't buy the Lavender Ironing Water. It smells great, of course, but you hate ironing.
    You get the idea. No shopping = no spending. Easy enough.

    But...dun dun DUN! You are active online

    This is what happened to me. I'm a homebody so shopping is not usually how I spend my leisure time. And I can avoid online shopping fairly easily (Amazon. eBay. Etsy.)

    Temptation for me came in a different form: my reading habit. I love blogs. I read hundreds of blogs every week (and no, that is not an exaggeration).

    Among that number were about 10 or so money related blogs. All were self-professed "frugal" or "penny pinching" blogs.
    These blogs were actually my first introduction to the blogosphere, back when our family was increasing but our budget wasn't. (Actually, that's still true.)

    These blogs once offered inspiration and encouragement to a struggling homemaker, but as the years passed I started noticing subtle - and not so subtle - changes. These blogs became businesses.

    There are only so many times you can explain just exactly how coupons work or how to save on your energy bill. (How many times have you read the advice, "Check for electronic 'vampires'."?)

    Blogs that are businesses need constant content. So these blogs shared deals that they came across, whether in a physical store or online.

    I found myself in 2013, about six years after I started blogging, feeling creeping discontent seep in whenever I read these blogs or when they came across my Twitter or Facebook pages.
    I know how to coupon. I can sign up for freebies when I want to. I use Swagbucks (sometimes). I know how to do a search for online coupon codes before I order anything.

    My problem wasn't lack of knowledge. My problem hadn't changed in the past six years from when I was first inspired to seek out these frugal gurus. The issue was still lack of money. Instead of feeling inspired after reading something from a frugal website, I felt annoyed by all the "deals".

    I once read a study that said every person has a limit to how many times they can tell themselves no. Once you hit that limit, the struggle with your own will becomes harder.
    A constant Twitter feed of "Only pay shipping!" and "This is the lowest price this season!" and "BOGO" or my least favorite of these pitches: "I just love my one of a kind piece of jewelry sent to me by this gifted artisan and you can have a similar piece starting at just $49.99! Which is your favorite?!"

    It's all too much.

    I don't need a discount for scarves I won't wear or 1/2 price on classes I don't want or a free tube of makeup in a color I don't use.

    So, I started saying "no" to the deal blogs and bloggers. I no longer have any subscriptions to this type of blog in my reader. I cleared out most of them from my Twitter and Facebook (although not all, I admit).
    • Because I'm already a fairly decent penny-pincher.
    • Because I value my time.
    • Because I can think more about the blessings God has given me and less about whether I "need" a deeply discounted product.
    • Because I can always stop by if I want to see what's happening on a specific blog.
    • Because there's always, always, ALWAYS another sale.
    Saying no to the source instead of no to the products makes me feel 10 pounds lighter and $1,000 richer.

    That's a good trade.

    Photo credits: all photos from Free Images.

    Saturday, May 10, 2014

    Weekend Links - May 10, 2014

    Today we're going downtown for a  board game event with Philip. There might be people dressed as comic book characters or superheroes. That's not really my thing, but it's hosted by the library so I'm going along. Hours to spend in the multi-level main library is a good way to spend Saturday afternoon, even if there are people dressed like Batman walking around.

    What's on your to-do list this Saturday?

    Now to the links!

    Spiritual / Inner Life
    INTJ
    Marriage / Parenting
    Get good at it. Running a household (especially when there are children involved) requires a skill set. Acquire it! Don’t expect it to be easy; decide to conquer it. Passion for a career is a result of mastery. The house is a mess, the kids are still in their pajamas, there’s no supper plan, and it’s 4:00: well if that’s the norm, of course you’re going to hate it.
    Homeschooling / Education
    • Homeschool Superpowers by Kris Bales for Simple Homeschool. I think all homeschool moms wish the job came with superpowers. (Spoiler alert: it doesn't.)
    In the News
    • What if B&N Closes? by Rachelle Gardner. I like the optimism that smaller bookstores may have a resurgence.
    What caught your eye this week?

    This post may be linked here:

    Friday, May 9, 2014

    30+ Favorite Resources for Teaching History (& Geography)

     General - These resources will come in handy no matter what curriculum or method you use.
    • Timeline Helps from Homeschool in the Woods. How to use timelines, inspiration, lots of resources both for purchase and free.
    • Hyper History. An online timeline resource. 
    • Notebooking Pages. Free and paid printables. The free section includes many that are great for enhancing history: biography pages, famous missionary pages, timelines, and geography printables.
    • ClipArt Etc. Lots of printable images, including Ancient History, American History, Places, Military and many more.
    • Online review quizzes for History and Geography are available at Quizlet. (Plus many other subjects!)
    • Free History lapbooks and unit studies from Tina's Dynamic Homeschool.
     Ancients
    Geography
    People - Use these resources for timelines, notebooking, or making your own lapbooks
    The Story of the World - This is our history "Spine" in our homeschool. We love the books, the activity guides, and the audio by Jim Weiss. But there are so many more resources to go along with a 4 year history cycle. Here are a few favorites
    U.S. History - I know there are many more resources for teaching U.S. History (libraries are overflowing with this sort of thing) but here are a few I've used in recent years
    Don't miss all the great resources from Notebooking Pages. They have a lot of free pages, as well as subscription options. (affiliate link)

    What are your favorite free or inexpensive resources for teaching History and Geography?
    This post is linked here:
    Living and Learning at Home
    You can find these and other resources on my Pinterest board for History:
    Follow Karen (Candid Diversions)'s board Learning - History on Pinterest.