• MOTHER CULTURE

    A Look Inside My Mother Morning Basket

    Last week I asked on Instagram which post out of a few ideas that I had you guys wanted to see on the blog first and my mother morning basket was the most popular response!

    I do think it is important to continue learning and growing as adults and making a morning basket for myself has been a way to make sure what I think is the most important learning gets done.

    A big key for me has been to start slow. I started with just two things in the basket and have slowly worked my way up to more and I assume once the weather cools down and winter hits I will be able to add more because there is more time for indoor activities than in the summer.

    I would recommend starting with just a couple of things in your basket for the first few weeks so you don’t get overwhelmed, then when the morning basket habit is established and when/if you feel ready to add more then you can do so.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Morning Basket

     

    WHAT IS A MORNING BASKET?

    I thought the term “morning basket” was one all homeschoolers knew but it turns out it’s not as popular as I thought. If you’re new to the term it can actually be called a lot of different things: morning time, circle time, morning meeting, we’ve called ours brain stain/brain box, etc.

    The purpose of the morning basket is that it is a time when the family comes together and does some learning as a group, often before splitting off to do their own age appropriate learning. It’s supposed to be a time when you can cover quite a few subjects together in a short amount of time.

    I think the idea become popular when Sarah Mackenzie included it in her book Teaching from Rest and then Pam Barnhill started the podcast Your Morning Basket.

     

    So, I decided to take this idea of a morning basket and make it my own by making a mother morning basket with a few different things I want to read/do each day.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Culture Morning Basket

     

    WHAT’S INSIDE MY MOTHER MORNING BASKET

     

    Now that we’ve covered all of that, here’s what’s actually in my morning basket. I’ll share them in the order that I added them in my basket. I started with the first few and then slowly added one at a time until I reached where I am currently at. I plan on adding a few morning things once winter comes so maybe then I’ll share my winter morning basket.

     

    PRAYER JOURNAL

    I use a traveler’s notebook for my prayer journal and each morning I spend some time in prayer. I have lists of different requests and answered prayers.

    I also keep meaning to make one of the inserts a place to just praise God for who He is, I was doing this in a different notebook a few months ago and want to bring that idea into the traveler’s notebook so I have it all in one place.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Culture Morning Basket

     

    BIBLE

    I made a big realization (for me) in February that there is a difference between reading the Bible and studying it. Not that just reading it is bad but I’m a speed reader and don’t retain a lot of details when I read and it was an ah-ha moment for me when I started to actually study the Bible, I was learning so much more! It takes longer to get through a single book of the Bible this way but it is worth it.

     

    COMPOSITION NOTEBOOK

    This is where I am writing all my Bible study notes, I’ve written a lot since February and have almost filled it up.

     

    PENCIL CASE

    This holds my pencil crayons that I use for highlighting in my Bible and a little mini ruler for the same purpose. As well as highlighters for color coordinating what I underline in my Bible and what I write in my composition notebook and then I also have some plastic page tabs for marking some of my favorite verses.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Morning Basket

     

    The following items are ones I’ve been slowly adding over time.

     

    ONE LINE A DAY JOURNAL

    I got a five year memory journal for Mother’s Day this year (though I do wish I would have bought this one or this one, I like the hardcover better and didn’t realize the one I bought was paperback until it arrived in the mail) and I do think it will be a treasured possession once it is filled! It already has ridiculous quotes like my son saying “Cat food is my third favorite food.” – that’s definitely going to make me laugh in years to come.

     

    SCRIPTURE WRITING PLAN AND NOTEBOOK

    I’ve really come to appreciate writing out Scripture over the year and so I printed out the free monthly Scripture writing passages from Mom Strong International and have been writing out the passage for each day. I write them in this awesome alpaca notebook my husband got me last year that was just waiting for the perfect use (freshly shaved alpacas are my favorite animal).

     

    A NON-FICTION BOOK

    I usually have some kind of non-fiction book on the go – usually Christian non-fiction either in the Christian living or parenting categories. Currently I am reading The Life & Faith Field Guide for Parents which fits both categories. The sub-title is: Help Your Kids Learn Practical Life Skills, Develop Essential Faith Habits, and Embrace a Biblical Worldview. I’ve read most of it and would highly recommend it!

    The non-fiction book often doesn’t get read at the same time I do the other things, I will often keep it out and pick it up when I have a few minutes here and there throughout the day.

     

    A Look Inside My Mother Culture Morning Basket

     

    SOME TIPS FOR MAKING YOUR OWN MORNING BASKET

    If you just read through all of what I include in my morning basket and also the fact that I want to add more things and were just completely overwhelmed I just want to share some tips that may help you.

     

    KNOW YOUR SEASON OF LIFE

    First of all, it’s important to know what season of life you are in and factor that in. Right now I don’t have any babies or toddlers – just two school aged kids, so obviously that makes it easier for me than for some of you.

     

    SET AN EXAMPLE

    Originally I started out by trying to get all my morning basket stuff done before my kids woke up but then when I started reading The Life & Faith Field Guide he talked about how children like to copy their parents and the importance of them being able to see you reading your Bible. Since then I’ve decided to do some other work (like writing blog posts) before my kids wake up and then getting my stuff out once they are awake. Now, this does mean there are interruptions but part of being a mom is being okay with interruptions.

     

    CREATE A SIMILAR BASKET FOR YOUNG KIDS

    One thing you could do if you have toddler/preschool aged children is create their own morning basket for them to do stuff out of while you do yours and they could snuggle up beside you on the couch and look through a children’s Bible, practice their pencil grip by “writing” in a notebook, etc.

     

    TAKE IT SLOW

    I’ve mentioned this a few times already, but just start with a couple of things in your basket and add to it as you feel comfortable.

     

    KNOW IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE DONE IN THE MORNING

    We have a large kitchen table so that is where I like to do my morning basket, I’ll have my stuff on one part of the table and if I get interrupted I can just leave it there and get back to it when I have a few minutes. There are some days where my stuff doesn’t get done until after lunch and because I don’t have unrealistic expectations for my “morning” time that’s okay with me.

     

    Okay, I think that is everything about my mother morning basket, if you have one (or will after reading this) I would love to hear what you include!

  • BOOKS,  MOTHER CULTURE

    The Books I Read in September

    Well, September was a good reading month! I read eleven books and in this round-up I’m also including one that I finished October 1st – Girl, Wash Your Face, because there are so many conflicting and controversial thoughts and reviews on it and I wanted to share my opinion on it.

    I also learned a lot about myself as a reader this month.

    For the first time ever I decided to stop being a person who quits books. I quit a lot of books in August and ended up feeling blah about my reading. I didn’t quit any in September and felt fired up about reading.

    I have also made the decision to stop requesting books from the library for myself. I own a number of books that I’ve never read and I always put them off and give more priority to library books with the mindset that my books will always be there and I only have my library books for three weeks. But I don’t buy every single book, I only buy the ones I really want to read so they should really take priority, right?!

    So my reading goals for the next year are to finish books and read books that I own.

    Disclaimer: this does not mean I will stop buying books – if I find books that I want to read at a good price at a thrift store or used bookstore I’m definitely still going to snatch them up.

    You can check out all my reading wrap ups here.

     

    Reading Wrap Up - the books I read in September - classics and contemporary books for moms

     

    Oh, I also discovered some amazing YouTubers who talk about books! I may have spent a few hours watching their videos this month . . . My favorite channel has been Lucy the Reader – she is only 18 (or maybe 19) and has read so many classics. I pretty much haven’t read any of the ones she talks about and I feel like we would have very different tastes but I still really enjoy and appreciate her videos. Also, she has completely inspired me to read more classics, I think that should be evident in future reading wrap ups, it has definitely inspired my recent book purchases.

    One other thing about books, this month I made a Reading Journal – a book tracker. It’s been a nice way to keep my lists of books I’ve read each month plus I love giving each book a star rating.

     

    September Reading Wrap Up

     

    I think the monthly lists of books read will be so nice to look back on at the end of the year. I usually keep track of my books on Good Reads as well (though I haven’t been good at updating it much this month) but I do prefer this visual tracker.

    Okay, that was enough of an intro, let’s get into this month’s books!

     

    Reading Wrap Up - the books I read in September - classics and contemporary books for moms

     

    NON-FICTION

    I have been listening to Heidi St. John’s podcast The Busy Mom for awhile now and really appreciate her and admire her willingness to take a counter-cultural stance on topics. I liked this book, though I thoroughly enjoyed the second half more than the first and I think this is solely just because of the mood that I was in when I was reading the first half (just kind of off) verses the second. I hope to re-read it again in the future.

    Becoming MomStrong

    If you’re like many Christian moms today, you’ve been reading the headlines and watching the rapid-fire changes in our culture with frustration and fear. Let’s face it: Moms today are facing questions that previous generations didn’t even see coming, and even our right to determine what is best for our own children is under fire. Popular speaker and blogger Heidi St. John (The Busy Mom) believes that today’s mothers need a special kind of strength. We need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. We dare not rely on human strength for the battles we’re facing right now. In Becoming MomStrong, Heidi has a powerful message just for you―the mom in the midst of it all. Through encouragement, practical prayer points, and authentic “me-too” moments, Heidi equips you for a job that only you can do: to train your children to hear God’s voice and to walk in truth no matter where our culture is heading. God wants to use this generation of mothers to do something extraordinary:

    • To be strong in the Lord
    • To know who you are in Christ, and
    • To impart that strength to your kids.

    In other words, He wants you to be MomStrong! So if you’re feeling tired or inadequate today, get ready to find new strength as you join Heidi St. John in Becoming MomStrong.

     

    Let me start off by saying that I loved Shauna’s writing before she was even popular. Cold Tangerines and Bittersweet are still two of my all time favorite books but I started reading Present Over Perfect at least two or three times before I actually was able to get through it. For some reason this book just took me longer to get into and I wonder if it’s partly because I listened to this one instead of sitting down and reading it? That being said, I just checked and I purchased the Kindle book over two years ago but never actually read it, so I’m not sure if the audio has anything to do with it. But once I got a little farther into it I really enjoyed the book. It may just be that I needed to be in a bit of a different season in life to fully enjoy this one? I’m not sure.

    Present Over Perfect

    In these pages, New York Times bestselling author Shauna Niequist invites you to consider the landscape of your own life, and what it might look like to leave behind the pressure to be perfect and begin the life-changing practice of simply being present, in the middle of the mess and the ordinariness of life.

    As she puts it: “A few years ago, I found myself exhausted and isolated, my soul and body sick. I was tired of being tired, burned out on busy. And, it seemed almost everyone I talked with was in the same boat: longing for connection, meaning, depth, but settling for busy.

    “I am a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, neighbor, writer, and I know all too well that settling feeling. But over the course of the last few years, I’ve learned a way to live, marked by grace, love, rest, and play. And it’s changing everything.

    “Present Over Perfect is an invitation to this journey that changed my life. I’ll walk this path with you, a path away from frantic pushing and proving, and toward your essential self, the one you were created to be before you began proving and earning for your worth.”

     

    I read most of this one in August but finished it at the beginning of September, this was September online book club that I hosted over here on the blog. It has some good practical advice for simplifying and enjoying your kids’ childhood and it can be a great reminder for a person like myself who is always looking forward to the future.

    Simplicity Parenting

    Today’s busier, faster society is waging an undeclared war on childhood. With too much stuff, too many choices, and too little time, children can become anxious, have trouble with friends and school, or even be diagnosed with behavioral problems. Now internationally renowned family consultant Kim John Payne helps parents reclaim for their children the space and freedom that all kids need for their attention to deepen and their individuality to flourish. Simplicity Parenting offers inspiration, ideas, and a blueprint for change:

    • Streamline your home environment. Reduce the amount of toys, books, and clutter—as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload.
    • Establish rhythms and rituals. Discover ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed.
    • Schedule a break in the schedule. Establish intervals of calm and connection in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing.
    • Scale back on media and parental involvement. Manage your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless deluge of information and stimulation.

    A manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood, Simplicity Parenting is an eloquent guide to bringing new rhythms to bear on the lifelong art of raising children.

     

    I have plans to eventually read the entire Home Education series by Charlotte Mason but plan on reading on volume every few months. To be honest this book wasn’t as good as I was expecting. It was good, just not great. Plus there is some funny late 1800’s medical advice that a person obviously has to skim over, it was a good reminder at how much medicine has advanced in the last 150 years. In October or November I hope to jump to Volume 6 – A Philosophy of Education.

    Home Education – Charlotte Mason – Volume 1

    Originally published in the late 1800’s this is Charlotte Mason’s first volume in her Home Education series.

     

    This book came highly recommended to me and to be honest, I was a little afraid to start it. I was worried it would be one big guilt trip because my husband and I both work on the computer/internet our children definitely do use screens, but I didn’t get that vibe from the book at all. It did make me wish that maybe we would have held off on screen time a little longer but I’m honestly okay with the amount of screens our kids use, we try to limit it and because we homeschool I feel like we can actually do that. I am always surprised to hear how much screen times kids are getting in school these days and then most of them come home and have more screen time, I like being able to know what they are all doing on screens and how much time they are using them for.

    The Tech-Wise Family

    Making conscientious choices about technology in our families is more than just using internet filters and determining screen time limits for our children. It’s about developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way we use digital media rather than accepting technology’s promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. And it’s definitely not just about the kids.

    Drawing on in-depth original research from the Barna Group, Andy Crouch shows readers that the choices we make about technology have consequences we may never have considered. He takes readers beyond the typical questions of what, where, and when and instead challenges them to answer provocative questions like, Who do we want to be as a family? and How does our use of a particular technology move us closer or farther away from that goal? Anyone who has felt their family relationships suffer or their time slip away amid technology’s distractions will find in this book a path forward to reclaiming their real life in a world of devices.

     

    The Kindle version of this book was on sale and recommended by a friend of our so I read it. It was a short read and really reminded me a lot of The Art of Neighboring. It’s one of those books that is good to read but totally useless unless you follow through.

    The Simplest Way to Change the World

    Deep down, every Christian wants to make a difference. But for many of us, the years come and go and we never do. The good news is: change can be as simple as opening your front door.

    The Simplest Way to Change the World is about biblical hospitality and its power for the gospel. Since people will sooner enter a living room than a church, hospitality is a natural and effective way to build relationships for Christ. You’ll learn:

    • How the home can be a hub for community
    • How hospitality leads to joy, purpose, and belonging
    • How it grows families to love the things of God
    • How it’s not about being the perfect host
    • How to be hospitable regardless of your living space

    Hospitality is a beautiful legacy of the church, and a great way to make disciples. As you open your life up to others, you share in the very character of God and experience His joy. And you get to witness lives change—including your own.

     

    Technically I finished this book October 1st but because it is apparently such a controversial book I wanted to include my review this month. Let me start off by saying that this book was recommended to me by one of my librarians and I had absolutely no idea going into it that it was marketed as a Christian book which I think gave me entirely different expectations than a lot of other people. I enjoyed this book the same way I enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s, Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? – it was entertaining and memoir-ish with some decent practical advice but there is no way I would consider this a “Christian” book and I think the fact that it is marketed as such can be very dangerous. Her ultimate message throughout the book is one of self-love and how we (as women) are “enough”, when in reality, we aren’t enough and that’s why we need Jesus. It’s interesting because when I was giving the book stars out of 5 in my reading log I ended up giving the book 2/5, if this book had been a non-Christian book I probably would have ranked it higher because I would give allowances based on the fact that the author isn’t professing to be a Christian, but because she claims she is I think I rated it lower because I think it can be very dangerous for Christian women to read the book and potentially take everything she reads as truth, where an obviously non-Christian book we tend to read with a different filter on.

    Phew! Hopefully all that ramble made sense!

    Girl, Wash Your Face

    As the founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel Hollis developed an immense online community by sharing tips for better living while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own life. Now, in this challenging and inspiring new book, Rachel exposes the twenty lies and misconceptions that too often hold us back from living joyfully and productively, lies we ve told ourselves so often we don t even hear them anymore.

    With painful honesty and fearless humor, Rachel unpacks and examines the falsehoods that once left her feeling overwhelmed and unworthy, and reveals the specific practical strategies that helped her move past them. In the process, she encourages, entertains, and even kicks a little butt, all to convince you to do whatever it takes to get real and become the joyous, confident woman you were meant to be.

    With unflinching faith and rock-hard tenacity, Girl, Wash Your Face shows you how to live with passion and hustle–and how to give yourself grace without giving up.

     

    Reading Wrap Up - the books I read in September - classics and contemporary books for moms

     

    FICTION

     

    We had to read this book in high school and I did not enjoy it. Other than the vague recollection that I didn’t enjoy it I only remembered the fact that he climbed a mountain. I had no intentions of reading it ever again but then I was talking about historical fiction books with a friend and she raved about this book and because I highly value her opinions and suggestions I took a chance and re-read it. Turns out it’s really good! But, I do partly understand why I didn’t enjoy it in high school, I think I just had no idea what was going on. The book opens up and just jumps right in and if you have zero WWII knowledge like me in high school you will have no idea what is happening.

    I Am David

    David’s entire twelve-year life has been spent in a grisly prison camp in Eastern Europe. He knows nothing of the outside world. But when he is given the chance to escape, he seizes it. With his vengeful enemies hot on his heels, David struggles to cope in this strange new world, where his only resources are a compass, a few crusts of bread, his two aching feet, and some vague advice to seek refuge in Denmark. Is that enough to survive?

    David’s extraordinary odyssey is dramatically chronicled in Anne Holm’s classic about the meaning of freedom and the power of hope.

     

    This was my library book club this month. While I didn’t really enjoy the book I appreciated two things: this was the book that taught me the benefits of finishing a book and it made me look up so much history! One of the things I didn’t like about this book was because it was fairly historically inaccurate but at the same time, I figured those things out because I was researching stuff while I was reading it. Oh, plus, it’s like 650 pages. I have no problem reading a long book if it’s good but this book felt excessively long. It should have been 250 pages max.

    That all being said, this book did make me want to read more about the Tudor period. Even historical fiction from the time, but this time I am going to try reading something by Alison Weir that is more factual historical fiction.

    The Other Boleyn Girl

    When Mary Boleyn comes to court as an innocent girl of fourteen, she catches the eye of the handsome and charming Henry VIII. Dazzled by the king, Mary falls in love with both her golden prince and her growing role as unofficial queen. However, she soon realizes just how much she is a pawn in her family’s ambitious plots as the king’s interest begins to wane, and soon she is forced to step aside for her best friend and rival: her sister, Anne. With her own destiny suddenly unknown, Mary realizes that she must defy her family and take fate into her own hands.

     

    At the beginning of the year I shared that I wanted to read a lot of C.S. Lewis this year, um, that hasn’t happened so far but I did finally check this one off my list!

    The Screwtape Letters

    The Screwtape Letters by C.S.  Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to “Our Father Below.” At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.

     

    This one is my classics book club book for November, um, the fact that I read it two months early should show my opinion of it. I love Agatha Christie’s books and this one is no different. I think I’ve read about five of her books so far and this one has made me decide that I want to read them all.

    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd

    Roger Ackroyd knew too much. He knew that the woman he loved had poisoned her brutal first husband. He suspected also that someone had been blackmailing her. Then, tragically, came the news that she had taken her own life with an apparent drug overdose.

    However the evening post brought Roger one last fatal scrap of information, but before he could finish reading the letter, he was stabbed to death. Luckily one of Roger’s friends and the newest resident to retire to this normally quiet village takes over—none other than Monsieur Hercule Poirot.

     

    This year I also wanted to read all of Conan Doyle’s Sherlock stories. I started them in January/February and then didn’t pick them up again until September. I have a huge 1000+ page edition of the Complete Sherlock stories and The Sign of the Four is the second story in there. Not one of my favorites (I prefer the shorter stories in the Adventures and Memoirs), but I still really like his writing style.

    The Sign of the Four

    “The Sign of the Four” has a complex plot involving service in East India Company, India, the Indian Rebellion of 1857, a stolen treasure, and a secret pact among four convicts (“the Four” of the title) and two corrupt prison guards. It presents the detective’s drug habit and humanizes him in a way that had not been done in the preceding novel, “A Study in Scarlet” (1887)

     

    What a reading month September was! I can’t wait to read more great books this month!

  • MOTHER CULTURE

    Mother Culture: The Importance of Making Time for Yourself

    I am really excited about today’s guest post because it is on a topic I have been sharing about a lot online over the last number of weeks over on my personal blog (An Intentional Life) and my personal Instagram. The subject? Mother Culture!

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    OTHER POSTS YOU MAY ENJOY:

     


     

    I first came across the idea of Mother Culture in A Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola. I didn’t think much of it at the time but now that I have two little ones, I really see the value of Mother Culture. After a little bit of research and reading through some PNEU articles on the Ambleside Online website, I’ve come to a definition for Mother Culture that’s simple to remember.

     

    MOTHER CULTURE
    A Charlotte Mason inspired idea where a mother takes at least 30 minutes each day to focus on growing herself and learning what she wishes to learn.

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    Through my desire to create me time and my own Mother Culture, I’ve developed a commonplace book for ideas and inspiration. Before looking into Mother Culture though, I’d never heard of a commonplace book. But now I write in it at least once a week.

     

    COMMONPLACE BOOK
    A place to store all beautiful & inspiring quotes, things I’m learning about or wish to learn about, striking thoughts on books, poetry, etc., or yummy recipes.

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    I’ve written recipes, quotes from tea tags (yes really!), lists of books read or books to read, quotes I’ve read in books and from the internet, cool days or months of the year (October is Eat Better, Eat Together Month while May is Homeschooling Awareness Month) and most importantly, a list of things I wish to pursue on my own.

    Basically, anything you desire to keep track of can be written in it. I choose to use it for my Mother Culture, though that wasn’t its original purpose. It’s your commonplace book so you do what you want with it.

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    A few things I want to learn about that I keep track of in my book:

    READ: This one has been my top and I’ve definitely been getting it done! I used to be an avid reader and it has led to me becoming a writer as well. Nowadays, I’m only able to read a bit here and there, but I have multiple books going at one time, something I saw suggested when reading up on Mother Culture. I’ve read over a dozen books this year and technology has made much of this possible. When I can’t read a physical book, I use my Kindle for ebooks and the Hoopla app for audiobooks and ebooks.

    NATURE STUDY: I haven’t been pursuing this as much but not on purpose. I do take a closer look at nature than I used to and I’ve taken pictures of flowers, birds, a caterpillar and have even done some nature journaling since starting Mother Culture! If it’s something I want my girls to pursue and love, then I have to model the habit first.

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    POETRY: Poetry has definitely increased around here. I read at least one or two poems every day out loud to my girls and my oldest loves hearing it. One of our favorites is Poetry Teatime Companion edited by Julie Bogart & Nancy Graham.

    BAKING: I used to bake cookies and muffins, bread and pizza dough all the time and would love to start doing this again. This one though I’d like to do with my oldest when it has some easy steps like mixing or pouring in ingredients, she loves to help me around the house.

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    Thinking it over, I do little snippets of time here and there versus a solid 30 minutes. I’ll listen to an audiobook while I do the dishes, read devotions or an ebook while I nurse my youngest, read poetry in the morning during breakfast, and try to bake something about once a week. I look closer at the clouds now, wonder what kind of plants go by as we drive down the highway, and listen quietly to the birds in my neighborhood (even when I don’t recognize any of their calls).

    Whether you’re a mom of just one child or many, spending time learning on your own is a worthwhile goal to pursue daily. If a love of lifelong learning is something we wish for our children to develop, then we must model it for them.

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    Modeling the pursuit of knowledge is important of course, but the main focus of Mother Culture is to better ourselves and not lose our uniqueness in motherhood. Don’t get me wrong; I adore being a mama. But I don’t want to lose myself. I want to have goals and pursue them. I want to have interests and learn about them. Even if I don’t get a solid block of time to myself, I’ll take what I get when I get it.

    If you have young children, like I do, you may have to get creative with your Mother Culture time. I find getting up early helps, even if I need to take a short nap with the girls in the afternoon after lunch. Then I can do my devotions and some housework early so that I have time to pursue things later on in the day. If you’re not a morning person, staying up after your children go to bed is another idea if you need an uninterrupted time to pursue your Mother Culture.

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    However, there is nothing wrong with learning a few minutes here and a few minutes there. There will come a season when you won’t have tiny fingers pressing the caps lock or a nine in the middle of your sentence as you type or trying to climb in your lap as you read a book. They will one day be old enough to leave you alone for thirty minutes so you can journal or bake a cake or take a bath while you read. But for now, take what you can get and enjoy their littleness. Even though it’s hard, they need to see you pursuing your interests and growing your mind. Taking time on your own and being present with your children are both important enough to not allow one to suffer over the other. A mama with a full tank can more readily pour into others.

     

    Mother Culture - the importance of making time for yourself and continuing to learn as a mom

     

    I recommend reading the PNEU article on Mother Culture on Ambleside Online’s website if you need more convincing. Let’s not stay stagnant. Continue to grow. Pursue what you love. Draw the tree in your backyard in full bloom while your kids draw with chalk in the driveway or on the porch. Read a chapter from each of your books, even if you have to split them between the morning, afternoon, and evening. Take that cake decorating class because Mother Culture is not inclusive to what you can do at home. If you’re learning, it’s Mother Culture and a worthwhile pursuit.

     

    ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Kayley Higgins is a Christian stay at home mama of two little girls. She loves her best friend more now than when she married him. She loves coffee, tea, dark chocolate, writing, reading, and family time. As a former homeschooler, she enjoys sharing good books with her girls as well as the wonder of God’s Creation.

    WEBSITE: Posting from the Heart
    INSTAGRAM: @kayley.hig

  • BOOKS,  MOTHER CULTURE

    35 Classic Books Every Woman Should Read

    Last week I came across a few great classic book list videos on YouTube and it inspired me to start a list of 35 must read classic books.

    I’ve only read about half of these books myself and the other half I plan on reading.

    The reason I chose these particular books is either because:

    a) I have read them and loved them
         or
    b) they are such iconic books I feel like they should be read by everyone

    I easily could have made this list double the length but I wanted to keep it to a number that wouldn’t feel overwhelming to people, 35 seemed like a pretty good number. If you need some ideas on how to make more time in your life for reading I’ve got a post with ten tips for you.

    I started a local classics book club a year and a half ago and it has helped me check a few classics off of my list but I hope to make 2019 the year of the classics for me. My personal list of classics I want to read is much longer than this but these are the ones I want to start with.

    I am tempted to create some type of classics reading challenge for 2019, maybe one book a month or so, if you would be interested, let me know!

    While I could do an entire list on classic children’s literature (possibly my favorite type of classics) I decided to not do that here, but there were a few that I needed to include in this list.

    If you were to create a list of must read classic books which books would make your list?

     

    Must read classic books - the best of the best that every woman should read

     

    CHILDREN’S CLASSIC LITERATURE

    A Little Princess

    This one is my all time favorite, along with the 1995 movie (NOT the Shirley Temple one).

    Alone in a new country, wealthy Sara Crewe tries to settle in and make friends at boarding school. But when she learns that she’ll never see her beloved father gain, her life is turned upside down. Transformed from princess to pauper, she must swap dancing lessons and luxury for hard work and a room in the attic. Will she find that kindness and generosity are all the riches she truly needs?

     

    The Secret Garden

    When orphaned Mary Lennox comes to live at her uncle’s great house on the Yorkshire Moors, she finds it full of secrets. The mansion has nearly one hundred rooms, and her uncle keeps himself locked up. And at night, she hears the sound of crying down one of the long corridors.

    The gardens surrounding the large property are Mary’s only escape. Then, Mary discovers a secret garden, surrounded by walls and locked with a missing key. With the help of two unexpected companions, Mary discovers a way in—and becomes determined to bring the garden back to life.

     

    The Little Prince

    No story is more beloved by children and grown-ups alike than this wise, enchanting fable. The author reminisces about a day when his plane was forced down in the Sahara, a thousand miles from help. There he encountered a most extraordinary small-person. “If you please,” said the stranger, “draw me a sheep. ” And thus begins the remarkable story of the Little Prince, whose strange history he learned, bit by bit, in the days that followed.

     

    The Giver

    The haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

     

    Heidi

    At the age of five, little orphan Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather in the Alps. Everyone in the village is afraid of him, but Heidi is fascinated by his long beard and bushy grey eyebrows. She loves her life in the mountains, playing in the sunshine and growing up amongst the goats and birds. But one terrible day, Heidi is collected by her aunt and is made to live with a new family in town. Heidi can’t bear to be away from her grandfather; can she find a way back up the mountain, where she belongs?

     

    The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

    Whether forming a pirate gang to search for buried treasure or spending a quiet time at home, sharing his medicine with Aunt Polly’s cat, the irrepressible Tom Sawyer evokes the world of boyhood in nineteenth century rural America. In this classic story, Mark Twain re-created a long-ago world of freshly whitewashed fences and Sunday school picnics into which sordid characters and violent incidents sometimes intruded. The tale powerfully appeals to both adult and young imaginations. Readers explore this memorable setting with a slyly humorous born storyteller as their guide.

    Tom and Huck Finn conceal themselves in the town cemetery, where they witness a grave robbery and a murder. Later, the boys, feeling unappreciated, hide out on a forested island while the townspeople conduct a frantic search and finally mourn them as dead. The friends triumphantly return to town to attend their own funeral, in time for a dramatic trial for the graveyard murder. A three-day ordeal ensues when Tom and his sweetheart, Becky Thatcher, lose their way in the very cave that conceals the murderer.

    With its hilarious accounts of boyish pranks and its shrewd assessments of human nature, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer has captivated generations of readers of all ages. This inexpensive edition of the classic novel offers a not-to-be-missed opportunity to savor a witty and action-packed account of small-town boyhood in a bygone era.

     

    The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

    The novel’s preeminence derives from its wonderfully imaginative re-creation of boyhood adventures along the Mississippi River, its inspired characterization, the author’s remarkable ear for dialogue, and the book’s understated development of serious underlying themes: “natural” man versus “civilized” society, the evils of slavery, the innate value and dignity of human beings, and other topics. Most of all, Huckleberry Finn is a wonderful story, filled with high adventure and unforgettable characters.

     

    The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe

    Four adventurous siblings—Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie—step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land frozen in eternal winter and enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

     

    Must read classic books - the best of the best that every woman should read

     

    Anne of Green Gables

    Anne, an eleven-year-old orphan, is sent by mistake to live with a lonely, middle-aged brother and sister on a Prince Edward Island farm and proceeds to make an indelible impression on everyone around her

     

    Emily of New Moon

    Emily Starr never knew what it was to be lonely–until her beloved father died. Now Emily’s an orphan, and her snobbish relatives are taking her to live with them at New Moon Farm. Although she’s sure she’ll never be happy there, Emily deals with her stern aunt Elizabeth and her malicious classmates by using her quick wit and holding her head high.

    Things slowly begin to change for the better when Emily makes some new friends. There’s Teddy Kent, who does marvelous drawings; Perry Miller, the hired boy, who’s sailed the world with his father yet has never been to school; and above all, Ilse Burnley, a tomboy with a blazing temper. With these wonderful companions at her side and adventures around every corner, Emily begins to find her new home beautiful and fascinating–so much so that she comes to think of herself as Emily of New Moon.

     

    Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

    ‘Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, “without pictures or conversations?”‘ So begins the tale of Alice, who follows a curious White Rabbit down a hole and falls into Wonderland, a fantastical place where nothing is quite as it seems: animals talk, nonsensical characters confuse, Mad Hatters throw tea parties and the Queen plays croquet. Alice’s attempts to find her way home become increasingly bizarre, infuriating and amazing in turn.

     

    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

    In 1942, with the Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, the Franks and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and surprisingly humorous, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

     

    TRIED & TRUE CLASSIC LITERATURE

     

    Little Women

    Grown-up Meg, tomboyish Jo, timid Beth, and precocious Amy. The four March sisters couldn’t be more different. But with their father away at war, and their mother working to support the family, they have to rely on one another. Whether they’re putting on a play, forming a secret society, or celebrating Christmas, there’s one thing they can’t help wondering: Will Father return home safely?

     

    Pride and Prejudice

    The story follows the main character, Elizabeth Bennet, as she deals with issues of manners, upbringing, morality, education, and marriage in the society of the landed gentry of the British Regency. Elizabeth is the second of five daughters of a country gentleman living near the fictional town of Meryton in Hertfordshire, near London. Page 2 of a letter from Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra (11 June 1799) in which she first mentions Pride and Prejudice, using its working title First Impressions. Set in England in the early 19th century, Pride and Prejudice tells the story of Mr and Mrs Bennet’s five unmarried daughters after the rich and eligible Mr Bingley and his status-conscious friend, Mr Darcy, have moved into their neighborhood. While Bingley takes an immediate liking to the eldest Bennet daughter, Jane, Darcy has difficulty adapting to local society and repeatedly clashes with the second-eldest Bennet daughter, Elizabeth.

     

    Emma

    Beautiful, clever, rich—and single—Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protégée, Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.

     

    Must read classic books - the best of the best that every woman should read

     

    A Christmas Carol

    A Christmas Carol is one of Charles Dickens’ most loved books – a true classic and a Christmas time must-read. Ebenezer Scrooge is a mean, miserable, bitter old man with no friends. One cold Christmas Eve, three ghosts take him on a scary journey to show him the error of his nasty ways. By visiting his past, present and future, Scrooge learns to love Christmas and the people all around him.

     

    Rebecca

    Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .

    Working as a lady’s companion, the orphaned heroine ofRebeccalearns her place. Life begins to look very bleak until, on a trip to the South of France, she meets Maxim de Winter, a handsome widower whose sudden proposal of marriage takes her by surprise. Whisked from glamorous Monte Carlo to his brooding estate, Manderley, on the Cornish Coast, the new Mrs de Winter finds Max a changed man. And the memory of his dead wife Rebecca is forever kept alive by the forbidding Mrs Danvers . . .

     

    The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

    With each spine-tingling mystery, the legend of Sherlock Holmes comes to life. Page by page, Holmes uses his uncanny deductive skills to solve the toughest of cases. After reading this classic collection, you’ll discover why this eccentric detective from 221B Baker Street in London rose to celebrity status throughout the world.

     

    The Catcher in the Rye

    The hero-narrator of The Catcher in the Rye is an ancient child of sixteen, a native New Yorker named Holden Caulfield. Through circumstances that tend to preclude adult, secondhand description, he leaves his prep school in Pennsylvania and goes underground in New York City for three days.

    The boy himself is at once too simple and too complex for us to make any final comment about him or his story. Perhaps the safest thing we can say about Holden is that he was born in the world not just strongly attracted to beauty but, almost, hopelessly impaled on it.

     

    The Great Gatsby

    ‘I believe that on the first night I went to Gatsby’s house I was one of the few guests who had actually been invited. People were not invited – they went there. ‘Jay Gatsby’s opulent Long Island mansion throngs with the bright young things of the Roaring Twenties. But Gatsby himself, young, handsome and mysteriously rich, never appears to his guests. He stands apart from the crowd, yearning for something just out of reach – Daisy Buchanan, lost years before to another man. One fateful summer, when the pair finally reunite, their actions set in motion a series of events that will unravel their lives, bringing tragedy to all who surround them.

     

    The Pilgrim’s Progress

    Often rated as important as the Bible as a Christian document, this famous story of man’s progress through life in search of salvation remains one of the most entertaining allegories of faith ever written. Set against realistic backdrops of town and country, the powerful drama of the pilgrim’s trials and temptations follows him in his harrowing journey to the Celestial City.

    Along a road filled with monsters and spiritual terrors, Christian confronts such emblematic characters as Worldly Wiseman, Giant Despair, Talkative, Ignorance, and the demons of the Valley of the Shadow of Death. But he is also joined by Hopeful and Faithful.

     

    Must read classic books - the best of the best that every woman should read

     

    Jane Eyre

    Charlotte Brontë’s first published novel, Jane Eyre was immediately recognized as a work of genius when it appeared in 1847. Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. How she takes up the post of governess at Thornfield Hall, meets and loves Mr Rochester and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage are elements in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than that traditionally accorded to her sex in Victorian society.

     

    The Princess Bride

    William Goldman’s modern fantasy classic is a simple, exceptional story about quests-for riches, revenge, power, and, of course, true love-that’s thrilling and timeless. Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible-inconceivable, even-to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you’ll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an ‘abridged’ retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that’s home to ‘Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.’

     

    North and South

    When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the North of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice. This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction.

     

    Great Expectations

    Great Expectations charts the course of orphan Pip Pirrip’s life as it is transformed by a vast, mysterious inheritance. A terrifying encounter with the escaped convict Abel Magwitch in a graveyard on the wild Kent marshes; a summons to meet the bitter, decrepit Miss Havisham and her beautiful, cold-hearted ward Estella at Satis House; the sudden generosity of a mysterious benefactor – these form a series of events that change the orphaned Pip’s life forever, and he eagerly abandons his humble station as an apprentice to blacksmith Joe Gargery, beginning a new life as a gentleman. Charles Dickens’s haunting late novel depicts Pip’s education and development through adversity as he discovers the true nature of his identity, and his ‘great expectations’.

     

    The Bell Jar

    The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under — maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

     

    A Room with a View

    Set in freewheeling Florence, Italy, and sober Surrey, England, E. M. Forster’s beloved third novel follows young Lucy Honeychurch’s journey to self-discovery at a transitional moment in British society. As Lucy is exposed to opportunities previously not afforded to women, her mind—and heart—must open. Before long, she’s in love with an “unsuitable” man and is faced with an impossible choice: follow her heart or be pressured into propriety.

    A challenge to persistent Victorian ideals as well as a moving love story, A Room with a View has been celebrated for both its prescient view of women’s independence and its reminder to live an honest, authentic life.

     

    Anna Karenina

    Described as one of the greatest novels ever written, “Anna Karenina” follows the self-destructive path of a beautiful, popular, and sensual Russian aristocrat. The lovely Anna seems set in a respectable marriage with the powerful statesman Karenin, yet their lack of passion breeds the discontent she fully faces upon meeting the elegant and affluent officer Count Vronsky. Soon convinced that allowing herself to deeply love this man will enable her to find the meaning and truth of her life, Anna defies the conventions of Russian society and leaves her husband and children for her lover. Tolstoy juxtaposes this ill-fated couple with the melancholy Levin and his new wife Kitty. Levin is also searching for the fulfillment and happiness in his life, and he ultimately finds a happiness that Anna’s love does not. A portrait of marriage and infidelity in imperial Russia, “Anna Karenina” explores love, life, and the depths of the human soul in a tale as illuminating as it is tragic.

     

    Wuthering Heights

    Lockwood, the new tenant of Thrushcross Grange, situated on the bleak Yorkshire moors, is forced to seek shelter one night at Wuthering Heights, the home of his landlord. There he discovers the history of the tempestuous events that took place years before. What unfolds is the tale of the intense love between the gypsy foundling Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw. Catherine, forced to choose between passionate, tortured Heathcliff and gentle, well-bred Edgar Linton, surrendered to the expectations of her class. As Heathcliff’s bitterness and vengeance at his betrayal is visited upon the next generation, their innocent heirs must struggle to escape the legacy of the past.

     

    The Picture of Dorian Gray

    Dorian Gray is having his picture painted by Basil Hallward, who is charmed by his looks. But when Sir Henry Wotton visits and seduces Dorian into the worship of youthful beauty with an intoxicating speech, Dorian makes a wish he will live to regret: that all the marks of age will now be reflected in the portrait rather than on Dorian’s own face. The stage is now set for a masterful tale about appearance, reality, art, life, truth, fiction and the burden of conscience.

     

    Must read classic books - the best of the best that every woman should read

     

    The Hobbit

    Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure. They have launched a plot to raid the treasure hoard guarded by Smaug the Magnificent, a large and very dangerous dragon. Bilbo reluctantly joins their quest, unaware that on his journey to the Lonely Mountain he will encounter both a magic ring and a frightening creature known as Gollum.

     

    The Lord of the Rings

    One Ring to rule them all, 
    One Ring to find them, 
    One Ring to bring them all 
    and in the darkness bind them.

    In ancient times the Rings of Power were crafted by the Elven-smiths, and Sauron, the Dark Lord, forged the One Ring, filling it with his own power so that he could rule all others. But the One Ring was taken from him, and though he sought it throughout Middle-earth, it remained lost to him. After many ages it fell by chance into the hands of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins.

    From Sauron’s fastness in the Dark Tower of Mordor, his power spread far and wide. Sauron gathered all the Great Rings to him, but always he searched for the One Ring that would complete his dominion.
    When Bilbo reached his eleventy-first birthday he disappeared, bequeathing to his young cousin Frodo the Ruling Ring and a perilous quest: to journey across Middle-earth, deep into the shadow of the Dark Lord, and destroy the Ring by casting it into the Cracks of Doom.

    The Lord of the Rings tells of the great quest undertaken by Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring: Gandalf the Wizard; the hobbits Merry, Pippin, and Sam; Gimli the Dwarf; Legolas the Elf; Boromir of Gondor; and a tall, mysterious stranger called Strider.

     

    Must read classic books - the best of the best that every woman should read

     

    There is no way I could have this list without having some Agatha Christie, she is one of my favorites, so I chose three of hers. One day I hope to read all of her books.

    Murder on the Orient Express

    “The murderer is with us—on the train now . . .”

    Just after midnight, the famous Orient Express is stopped in its tracks by a snowdrift. By morning, the millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett lies dead in his compartment, stabbed a dozen times, his door locked from the inside. Without a shred of doubt, one of his fellow passengers is the murderer.

    Isolated by the storm, detective Hercule Poirot must find the killer among a dozen of the dead man’s enemies, before the murderer decides to strike again.

     

    And Then There Were None

    “Ten . . .”
    Ten strangers are lured to an isolated island mansion off the Devon coast by a mysterious “U. N. Owen.”

    “Nine . . .”
    At dinner a recorded message accuses each of them in turn of having a guilty secret, and by the end of the night one of the guests is dead.

    “Eight . . .”
    Stranded by a violent storm, and haunted by a nursery rhyme counting down one by one . . . as one by one . . . they begin to die.

    “Seven . . .”
    Which among them is the killer and will any of them survive?

     

    The Moving Finger

    Lymstock is a town with more than its share of scandalous secrets—a town where even a sudden outbreak of anonymous hate mail causes only a minor stir.

    But all that changes when one of the recipients, Mrs. Symmington, commits suicide. Her final note says “I can’t go on,” but Miss Marple questions the coroner’s verdict of suicide. Soon nobody is sure of anyone—as secrets stop being shameful and start becoming deadly.

     

    Did I miss any books that you would definitely add to the list?

  • BOOKS,  INTENTION,  MOTHER CULTURE,  PARENTING

    Simplicity Parenting Book Club – Introduction & Chapter One

    Welcome to the first week of our Simplicity Parenting book club! This week will be be chatting about the introduction and chapter 1, here’s the schedule for the rest of the book:

    September 12 – chapters 2 & 3
    September 19 – chapters 4 & 5
    September 26 – chapter 6 & epilogue

    This book was a re-read for me. I believe I read it for the first time about four years ago. What I really enjoy about the book is how practical and straight forward it is. The idea of simplicity parenting is not a hard one to grasp but it can be a difficult one to actually follow through on.

    While this book is (to my knowledge) not written by Christians and I think it is the kind of book that Christians and non-Christians alike can learn from. I actually think a lot of the ideas in the book are very biblical; Jesus himself had hardly any possessions and one of my favorite parables is when he tells the rich, young ruler to sell all his possessions and give them to the poor. Obviously your heart and motives have a lot to do with it but I think this book can be a great reality check for a lot of parents.

     

    Simplicity Parenting Online Book Club

     

    HOW THIS BOOK CLUB WORKS

    I am going to share some of my thoughts on these chapters and ask a few questions throughout the post, I would love it if you would leave your thoughts and responses in the comment section below. It would work even better if you can make sure to come back and see if others have replied to your thoughts as well, let’s keep the discussion going! There is also the option to subscribe to comments so you can be sure to get emails when others comment on this post and your comment.

    We are all learning and growing as parents so let’s remember to be respectful of others on this journey. Disagreeing with someone is fine but let’s keep things polite, don’t post a comment you wouldn’t say out loud in front of other people.

     

    INTRODUCTION

    The introduction was pretty short but there were a few things that stuck out to me this chapter . . .

    First of all the statistic that said “children have lost more than twelve hours of free time a week in the past two decades.” This stat came from David Elkind’s book, The Power of Play, I tried to find the exact stats that shared exactly how much free time children had two decades ago and how much they have now but I couldn’t find any definite numbers.

     

    Simplicity Parenting Online Book Club

     

    Since I couldn’t find any specific numbers I started thinking about how much free time my children have. Right away I see that we are at a huge advantage in this area because we homeschool. While many school children around us spend 30-60 minutes a day on the bus and then six hours at school my children complete all their school work in less than two hours, already giving them the advantage of at least four extra hours each day, and if I’m honest, most days those extra hours are spent in free play.

    I thought this line from the introduction sums up the entire book very well:

    Simplification is often about “doing” less, and trusting more. Trusting that -if they have the time and security- children will explore their worlds in the way, and at a pace, that works best for them. – page XIII

    We have become a culture that over-parents our children and a huge part of simplicity parenting is taking a step back, saying no to many things (even good things) so that our children have space to be children.

     

    QUESTIONS FOR THE INTRODUCTION

    1. How many hours do you children spend in free time each week? How could you increase this number?
    2. Any other thoughts on the introduction?

     

    Simplicity Parenting Online Book Club

     

    CHAPTER ONE – WHY SIMPLIFY

    There has been this amazing phenomena of more in the last 10-15 years. I think it came on us so slowly that many of us didn’t even see it coming (and many don’t even know it is here). If you think back to your childhood chances are you had a lot more than your parents did when they were young, but compare what you had to what your children have now, I’m guessing for most of us we would have to admit our children have more.

    The thing is, it’s fun to give. More is fun, until it’s not . . .

    There is a big part of me that wishes I could play the more game. I wish I could want a huge, perfect house and a brand new vehicle, a camper with regular trips to the lake. I wish I wanted all the clothes and to look perfect all the time. But honestly, I don’t.

    We started to play the more game shortly after we were married. We started out as broke newlyweds with my husband fresh out of college in a low paying job and me in university full time. We lived in a house trailer that leaked in the spring and the furnace broke in the winter. And when the house shifted in the winter the front door would become so jammed it was next to impossible to open the door. The floor in the bathroom was obviously rotting under the linoleum because the toilet was crooked and it always felt like you were going to fall through.

    We started at what I would call pretty near the bottom. We lived month to month as we struggled to afford our tiny mortgage but over the next few years Jared got a better job and I finished university and started working. All of a sudden the money was coming in! We sold that trashy trailer and moved into something bigger and better. And it wasn’t long before we wanted something better than that.

    Once you start playing the more game it doesn’t stop unless you make it.

    And I’m ready to stop it.

     

    Simplicity Parenting Online Book Club

     

    Reasons I want to simplify:

    • to give more
    • to travel more
    • to be intentional with my time and money
    • to be intentional with motherhood during this season
    • to have more of less

    When you simplify a child’s “world”, you prepare the way for positive change and growth. This preparatory work is especially important now because our world is characterized by too much stuff. We are building our daily lives, and our families, on the four pillars of too much: too much stuff, too many choices, too much information and too much speed. – page 5

    I am excited to change life so it is no longer built on the “four pillars of too much”. I’ve been working on these for the past few years and have come a long way but still feel like I have farther to go.

    The pillar of “too much speed” is not usually a problem for me. I’m an introvert and know it so I intentionally build a lot of white space into my week. Sure, there are the odd weeks where it seems like everything is happening at the same time (holidays are usually the worst) but it helps knowing those aren’t long seasons.

     

    Simplicity Parenting Online Book Club

     

    LET’S TALK TOYS

    Before having children I did not realize that toys would be such an issue. By “such an issue” I mean, keeping them to a minimum! It seems nearly every place we go gives out toys these days: the dentist, the grocery story, the restaurant, and those are just on regular days, never mind what happens when a child has a birthday or it’s Christmas!

    I actually have a post on here from last year where I did an experiment where I took my kids’ toys away. It was a great experiment and really worked to show us all that the kids play with the same few toys and definitely don’t need the heaps that society teaches us they need. (I also have a free Eliminating Kids Clutter course that is similar to the toy elimination process in the book).

    My kids are at a fun stage where they actually realize they only want a select few toys instead of everything they see. Now if I could just get them to see that while they love Lego and play with it for hours each day, they don’t need all the Lego.

    The problem in our house though is not getting rid of toys but keeping them out of the house. I think we’ll talk a bit more about this in future chapters to come.

    I completely agree with these statements:

    By reducing mental and physical clutter, simplification increases a family’s ability to flow together, to focus and deepen their attention, to realign their lives with their dreams. – page 23

    Yet simplification is not just about taking things away. It is about making room, creating space in your life, your intentions, and your heart. With less physical and mental clutter, your attention expands and your awareness deepens. – page 34

     

    Simplicity Parenting Online Book Club

     

    QUESTIONS FOR CHAPTER ONE

    1. What are your reasons for wanting to simplify?
    2. Which of the “four pillars of too much” do you find you struggle with the most? And which, if any, is the easiest?
    3. What were your perceived family values before having children? Are you actually living by them now?
    4. Have you decluttered your kids’ toys? How did the process go?
    5. Do you have any other thoughts on chapter one?

     

    Thanks for joining me for the first week of the Simplicity Parenting book club! Go ahead and leave your comments below, I am excited for the discussion to start and for the discussions we will have over the next few weeks.

  • BOOKS,  MOTHER CULTURE

    The Books I Read in August

    Last month I started my first list of books I read the previous month, I’m excited to make this a monthly thing because it’s a nice review for me to see which books I read and think about why I enjoyed them.

    This month I am going to do something different and share the books that I started but didn’t finish, and maybe why I didn’t finish them. I’d love to know if this is something you would like to see continued or not. In August I actually didn’t finish very many books and it is partly because I wasted so much time starting books that I didn’t enjoy.

    Another reason I didn’t finish very many books this month was because one of the apps I use for audiobooks from the library (Hoopla) was glitching on my phone and I had troubles with it for most of the month so I started two books that I hope to finish this month if the app will cooperate. I’ve never had any troubles with it before this month so I don’t know what is going on, hopefully it’s just a bug they fix soon.

    Once again, if you have any good book suggestions I would love for you to leave them below in the comments and I’ll check them out!

    And, if you are looking for tips for how to incorporate more reading time into your life as a parent, check out this post!

     

    Book suggestions for mom! A mother culture reading list.

     

    FICTION

    This is a middle grade historical fiction book that takes place during WWII, it’s the sequel to The War that Saved My Life. I found both books good but not great, there would definitely be other historical fiction I would recommend for middle graders before either of these two.

    THE WAR I FINALLY WON

    When Ada’s clubfoot is surgically fixed at last, she knows for certain that she’s not what her mother said she was—damaged, deranged, crippled mentally as well as physically. She’s not a daughter anymore, either. Who is she now?

    World War II rages on, and Ada and her brother, Jamie, move with their guardian, Susan, into a cottage with the iron-faced Lady Thorton and her daughter, Maggie. Life in the crowded home is tense. Then Ruth moves in. Ruth, a Jewish girl, from Germany. A German? Could Ruth be a spy?

    As the fallout from war intensifies, calamity creeps closer, and life during wartime grows even more complicated. Who will Ada decide to be? How can she keep fighting? And who will she struggle to save?

     

    I read this one for my classics book club that is meeting this week. Because I don’t actually like to read up on books before I read them I had no idea this was a Sci Fi book, maybe I would have enjoyed it more if it was? I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be realistic but I didn’t expect it to be so unrealistic. Oh well . . .

    JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH

    Journey to the Center of the Earth is a classic 1864 science fiction novel by Jules Verne. The story involves German professor Otto Lidenbrock who believes there are volcanic tubes going toward the centre of the Earth. He, his nephew Axel, and their guide Hans descend into the Icelandic volcano Snæfellsjökull, encountering many adventures, including prehistoric animals and natural hazards, before eventually coming to the surface again in southern Italy, at the Stromboli volcano.

     

    NON-FICTION

     

    Part of my mother culture curriculum that I am creating for myself (that I hope to share soon) involves reading poems from a different poet each month. For August I chose Tennyson and I found out very quickly he wasn’t going to be a favorite.

    TENNYSON COLLECTION OF POEMS

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson was a more complex writer than his status as Queen Victoria’s favorite poet might suggest. Though capable of rendering rapture and delight in the most exquisite verse, in another mode Tennyson is brother in spirit to Poe and Baudelaire, the author of dark, passionate reveries. And though he treasured poetic tradition, his work nevertheless engaged directly with the great issues of his time, from industrialization and the crisis of faith to scientific progress and women’s rights. A master of the short, intense lyric, he can also be sardonic, humorous, voluptuous, earthy, and satirical.

     

    This book was pretty good. My problem with these types of books is that I enjoy reading them but I hardly ever put any of the practical part to use. It was a very interesting read though.

    SMART BUT SCATTERED

    The latest research in child development shows that many kids who have the brain and heart to succeed lack or lag behind in crucial “executive skills”–the fundamental habits of mind required for getting organized, staying focused, and controlling impulses and emotions. Learn easy-to-follow steps to identify your child’s strengths and weaknesses, use activities and techniques proven to boost specific skills, and problem-solve daily routines. Small changes can add up to big improvements–this empowering book shows how.

     

    This is a slight cheat because I listened to this one with the kids (okay, not really a cheat, but I don’t normally include those books on this list), but seriously, Corrie’s story is so amazing. I love The Hiding Place and this book has taken that story and make it a little easier for kids to understand. We love the whole Christian Heroes series in our home.

    CORRIE TEN BOOM: CHRISTIAN HEROES THEN AND NOW

    Suddenly, Corrie’s ordered life was lost in the insanity of war. With bravery and compassion, her family and countless other Dutch citizens risked everything to extend God’s hand to those innocents marked for certain execution in a world gone mad.

    Corrie ten Boom’s life of determination, faith, and forgiveness in the face of unimaginable brutality and hardship is a stunning testimony to the sustaining power of God.

     

    This was my second time reading this book, well, I listened to it on audio the first time, and I found it even better in print form. As someone who is pretty quick to react this book was really encouraging and gave me a lot of great verses and lines to contemplate and pray about. I would highly recommend this book to each and every mom out there, grab yourself a copy of the book, not from the library, because you are going to want to highlight it up!

    TRIGGERS

    Do you believe your struggle with anger stems from the wrong behavior you see displayed in your children? The knee-jerk reactions and blow-ups you’re facing are often a result of a bigger set of “triggers.” Some of these are external, like a child’s disobedience, backtalk, or selective hearing, while others are internal, like an overflowing schedule, sleep-deprivation, or perhaps your own painful experiences from childhood.

    Triggers: Exchanging Parent’s Angry Reactions for Gentle Biblical Responses examines common parenting issues that cause us to explode inappropriately at our children. Moving beyond simple parenting tips on how to change your child’s behavior, authors Amber Lia and Wendy Speake offer biblical insight and practical tools to equip and encourage you on the journey away from anger-filled reactions toward gentle, biblical responses.

     

    With a few exceptions most of the books I read this month were pretty meh. I find when I get on a roll of meh books it’s hard to motivate myself to read more, which may be why I didn’t get through as many books this month as normal.

     

    THE BOOKS I DIDN’T FINISH

    September has already started out with some great reads (and I’m finishing some great ones I started in August), I can’t wait to share the next list with you!

    I generally give books about 50 pages before I decide if I’m going to quit it or continue, in my opinion there are too many good books out there to read ones I don’t enjoy.

    Everyone Brave is Forgiven – I saw this one so many WWII historical fiction lists I knew I needed to try it. I really enjoyed the first chapter and then it just went downhill.

    The Highly Intuitive Child – I thought this book would be more about sensitive children but it ended up almost being about psychic children, um, not exactly what I was looking for.

    The Truth According to Us – this one was for the book club at my library that I go to. I started it and thought it wasn’t that great but I pressed on a little longer only to realize that I had read it last year and hadn’t enjoyed it then either, so I gave up. What had originally kept me going was that it was by one of the co-authors of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (a great book) but if you read the info at the end of The Gurnsey Literary you’ll realize that Annie Barrows is actually the niece of the author and she actually only finished the book up after her aunt died, she didn’t really have much to do with the book.

    Annexed – this is supposed to be a WWII fiction story from the side of Peter who is in hiding with Anne Frank’s family, it is that but the part that I read focused much more on Peter’s experience going through puberty. It disappointed me early on and I didn’t finish.

     

    LONG-TERM READS

    I am still continuing on with my long-term reads from last month:

    The History of the Renaissance World – I’m about 20-ish chapters in (out of 96), so I’ll be reading this for awhile.

    Home Education – I’m still working on the first book of Charlotte Mason’s Home Education series, I’m enjoying it and should finish it in September and I’ll share all my thoughts then.

     

    If you have good book recommendations for my to-read list I’m always accepting book suggestions, just leave me a comment below and I’ll add it to my stack.

  • BOOKS,  MOTHER CULTURE

    Ten Tips for How to Read More When You are a Mom

    I get quite a few questions about my reading life. The most common question I get, maybe other than what are you currently reading? is how do you find time to read?

    That’s a totally fair question, especially since those asking know that I am a mom and continue to have a life apart from reading a number of books each year. Growing up I was that child who always had my nose in a book. Reading is definitely different now as a mom. I can’t just ignore all my responsibilities like I used to. When I was younger my reading was a definite source of contention between my parents and I (because of those ignored responsibilities). They went as far as taking my books away, but I always found more. #cantfoilabookworm

    While having time to read is definitely more challenging as a parent and adult with responsibilities, it is still possible!

     

    How to read more books when you are a busy mom

     

    I think I read more than the average person but still not nearly as much as some people. As of the middle of August I had read 55 books so far this year, that averages out to about 6.5 books a month and seems about average for the last few years.

    So, want to increase your reading and wonder how I get as many books in as I do? Read on!

     

    READING IS A PRIORITY

    First of all, I value reading on both a knowledge level and an enjoyment level, and as a result it is something I make a priority in my life. Because of this, reading is not something that gets my leftover time each day (because who has that?!), but rather it is something I make time for.

    If you are serious about wanting to read more you will need to make a conscious effort to do so, you will need to make it a priority in our own life.

     

    How to read more books when you are a busy mom

     

    HOW TO FIND TIME IN YOUR DAY TO READ WHEN YOU ARE A BUSY MOM

     

    1. ALWAYS HAVE A BOOK WITH YOU

    The easiest way to increase your reading is to channel your inner Rory Gilmore and always have a book with you. There are a couple of ways to do this, if you have a good memory you can just make sure you throw a book into your bag before leaving the house. If your memory cannot always be depended on (because you’ve got too much mom stuff stored in there), you can have one book that always stays in your bag, something that you want to read in short little bursts would be good, maybe a collection of poems or short stories. Or, what I have been doing for the last few months is trying to keep my Kindle in my bag, what way I have some variety in case I’m not in the mood for a certain book, plus it’s lighter than almost all my books.

    It’s amazing how much reading time the simple act of carrying a book with you can really add up to. If I have a doctors appointment and don’t have the kids along I will often try to arrive a little early so I can have some extra reading time (it’s the one case where I actually hope the doctor is running a bit behind schedule).

     

    How to read more books when you are a busy mom

     

    2. READ IN SMALL INCREMENTS

    I know some people feel as though they need to have a fair sized chunk of time available before they will read, my compulsive reading as a child cured me of this and I’ve gotten really good at reading in small increments. It’s not uncommon for me to open my book and only reading one page before being interrupted to go do something else, but that’s one page farther in the book! Obviously one page is less than ideal but even if you only have five minutes while something is finishing up in the oven you can usually get a few pages read before having to concentrate on making dinner.

     

    How to read more books when you are a busy mom

     

    3. SET ASIDE TIME FOR READING

    I like to set aside some time each morning to read. I generally start by reading as I eat breakfast, I like to use my Kindle during this time because I don’t have to hold it open. I generally spend about 15 minutes reading after breakfast while I finish up my hot beverage (which I know would be coffee for most people but it’s homemade dairy-free hot cocoa for me).

    Think about other times in your day you could set aside for reading, before bed is a common one, if you are one of those who can stay awake while reading in the evening. If you work, maybe your breaks would be a good time. If you are at home with your kids, set aside a time where you all read for a bit (or “read” for the younger ones). Modeling reading for your children is excellent!

     

    How to find time to read as a mom - and get through a lot of books!

     

    4. SET ASIDE A DAY FOR READING

    Every now and then I like to have a day where I don’t do anything other than the essentials and a whole lot of reading. Sometimes I plan this out but more often than not it just happens when I get into a really good book. Generally the weekends are a good time for this for me because Jared is home and I’m not the only one having to feed the children who seem to be hungry all the time.

     

    5. HAVE MULTIPLE BOOKS ON THE GO

    While I have really just grown into this in the last few years I now really love having multiple books on the go. While it does mean each individual book will take a little longer to read, this way you can pick up whatever book you are in the mood for.

    I started by having one fiction and one non-fiction on the go and have gone from there. I am currently working on creating my own “curriculum” for the year as I work on my homeschool plan for my kids so because of this I have quite a few more books on the go that will be more long-term books (ones I read slowly, over the course of a few months up to nearly a year).

     

    How to read more books when you are a busy mom

     

    6. LISTEN TO AUDIOBOOKS

    When I discovered audiobooks and the free apps my library uses my number of completed books skyrocketed. My favorite times to listen to books is when I am doing dishes, sweeping, or folding laundry. I have a pair of bluetooth headphones so I can move around and do the cleaning I need to do and it doesn’t feel nearly so tedious because I’m listening to a good book at the same time.

    Everyone is different but I generally find it easier to listen to fiction books because if I get a little distracted I don’t feel like I missed much like I can when listening to a non-fiction book.

    Oh, also, I listen to books at 1.5x or 2x speed so I can get through them faster, so an eight hour audiobook usually only takes me four hours to listen to.

     

    7. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE LIBRARY

    So, we use the library a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. Our library has this handy dandy feature where our receipt tells us how much money we saved by using the library each visit (they total the value of the books we take out) and it also includes a total of the value of all the books we’ve taken out for the year. This only counts for physical stuff we take out from the library (not audiobooks and ebooks) and last year we saved over $23,000 by using the library!

    By using the library it keeps your reading habit super cheap and possibly entirely free.

    (In case you are interested, I have a post with some library tips over here on my homeschool site.)

     

    How to read more books when you are a busy mom

     

    8. JOIN (OR START) A BOOK CLUB

    Confession: I’m in a number of book clubs. What I love is they are all different! I started a classics book club locally, we meet every 2-3 months and read a variety of classic books. Then I am also a part of a monthly book club at my library (though I haven’t always gone but I plan on being more consistent through the fall and winter), these books generally tend to be more contemporary fiction. And then there are the online book clubs I host, like the Simplicity Parenting book club that is starting in September.

    Being in a book club helps give the motivation and accountability to get some books checked off of your list, at least it does for me! I don’t enjoy every book I read for book club (I am looking at you A Tale of Two Cities!) but now I can say I’ve read them.

     

    How to read more books when you are a busy mom

     

    9. QUIT BOOKS

    Does this seem like the wrong kind of advice in a post about reading more books? I think this one is actually something that really does increase my reading; if a book doesn’t catch my attention I quit it and move on to a more interesting book. A lack of good books is not my problem so if I’m stuck on a book that isn’t capturing my attention I just end up wasting time when I could be reading books I enjoy.

    I usually give a book about 75 pages if it starts out kind of meh but if it’s terrible right from the beginning I feel no pressure to continue on.

     

    How to read more books when you are a busy mom

     

    10. READ GOOD BOOKS

    This goes hand-in-hand with quitting books. If you are reading good books you will read them faster and get through more books each year!

    The obvious next question then is: where do you find lists of good books? I get book recommendations from all over, random blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, podcasts, from books I’m currently reading, etc, etc. I currently have a few book lists here on the blog. And I recently shared what I read last month and I plan on making that a continuous series. Plus, I am working on one really good list of books for moms to read, watch for that coming soon!

     

    And there you have it, ten tips on how to read more, even as a busy mother!

    If you have any other tips or any really good book suggestions I would love for you to leave them in the comments!

  • BOOKS,  MOTHER CULTURE

    The (Good) Books I Read in June & July

    I thought it would be fun to start doing a review of the books I read each month. The title is the (good) books because for the most part if I start a book and don’t really enjoy it I abandon it. There are too many books on my to read list to get stuck reading a book I don’t enjoy.

    Since I haven’t shared a book list here in a long time this one will include books I finished in the last two months.

    In my reading life I tend to lean towards Christian non-fiction, biographies, historical fiction (I’m going through a WWII kick right now) and classics, funnily I only realized that in the last few weeks.

    Oh, I also enjoy good middle grade fiction as well, but for the most part unless it’s a spectacular middle grade book I won’t share those books on my monthly recap. For the most part the middle grade books will stay on my book lists that I share over at Intentional Homeschooling.

     

    The best books I read this month - fiction and non-fiction

     

    I’m not good at writing book summaries so I’m going to pull those off of Amazon and add my own two cents separately.

    If you have good book recommendations for my to-read list I’m always accepting book suggestions, just leave me a comment below and I’ll add it to my stack.

     

    Book suggestions for mom! A mother culture reading list.

     

    FICTION

    I have a tendency to avoid popular books, I’ve been burned in the past and so now I generally wait until I hear from enough people that the book is truly good. The Nightingale was one of those books for me, so I finally read it and of course I was kicking myself for not reading it sooner, it was so good! It made me think of aspects of WWII that I hadn’t before.

    The Nightingale

    France, 1939 – In the quiet village of Carriveau, Vianne Mauriac says goodbye to her husband, Antoine, as he heads for the Front. She doesn’t believe that the Nazis will invade France … but invade they do, in droves of marching soldiers, in caravans of trucks and tanks, in planes that fill the skies and drop bombs upon the innocent. When a German captain requisitions Vianne’s home, she and her daughter must live with the enemy or lose everything. Without food or money or hope, as danger escalates all around them, she is forced to make one impossible choice after another to keep her family alive.

    Vianne’s sister, Isabelle, is a rebellious eighteen-year-old girl, searching for purpose with all the reckless passion of youth. While thousands of Parisians march into the unknown terrors of war, she meets Gäetan, a partisan who believes the French can fight the Nazis from within France, and she falls in love as only the young can … completely. But when he betrays her, Isabelle joins the Resistance and never looks back, risking her life time and again to save others.

     

    This one was recommended to me by a number of people on Instagram and it did not disappoint! The book actually takes place a few years before WWII but I learned so much history about the events leading up to the war, in addition to loving the history aspect the story line is really great as well.

    Vienna Prelude

    Elisa Lindheim, a Jewish/German musician has helplessly stood by as her rights as a Jew are slowly taken away. When she and her family attempt to leave their homeland of Germany to take refuge in Austria, her Jewish father is arrested and held for ransom by the notorious Gestapo. As Hitler’s noose draws tighter around the Jews, Elisa must seek the help of handsome American journalist, John Murphy. Together they must find her father and find a way to get him out of Germany to safety.

     

    I think this book is technically categorized as young adult but it was a great look into the history of the Berlin wall, something I knew nothing about.

    A Night Divided

    With the rise of the Berlin Wall, Gerta finds her family suddenly divided. She, her mother, and her brother Fritz live on the eastern side, controlled by the Soviets. Her father and middle brother, who had gone west in search of work, cannot return home. Gerta knows it is dangerous to watch the wall, yet she can’t help herself. She sees the East German soldiers with their guns trained on their own citizens; she, her family, her neighbors and friends are prisoners in their own city.

    But one day on her way to school, Gerta spots her father on a viewing platform on the western side, pantomiming a peculiar dance. Gerta concludes that her father wants her and Fritz to tunnel beneath the wall, out of East Berlin. However, if they are caught, the consequences will be deadly. No one can be trusted. Will Gerta and her family find their way to freedom?

     

    This was the book we read with my classics book club back in June. It definitely wasn’t my favorite book ever but it felt good to check another classic book off my list! (And suggestions for future classics we should read?)

    Treasure Island

    Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest -Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!’When young Jim Hawkins finds an old map showing the location of a hoard of buried treasure, he joins the crew of the Hispaniola who set sail to find it. But they soon have a mutiny on their hands, led by the duplicitous pirate Long John Silver. As the quest turns murderous, Jim’s bravery is put to the test, and he discovers much about friendship, loyalty and betrayal on this daring voyage.

     

    NON-FICTION

    I’ve been a fan of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog for years and I can’t believe it took me almost a year to read her first book! I love all things personality tests so it should come as no surprise that I enjoyed this book. Her next book, I’d Rather Be Reading, comes out in September and I hope to read it before the end of the year.

    Reading People: How Seeing the World Through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything

    For readers who long to dig deeper into what makes them uniquely them (and why that matters), popular blogger Anne Bogel has done the hard part–collecting, exploring, and explaining the most popular personality frameworks, such as Myers-Briggs, StrengthsFinder, Enneagram, and others. She explains to readers the life-changing insights that can be gained from each and shares specific, practical real-life applications across all facets of life, including love and marriage, productivity, parenting, the workplace, and spiritual life. In her friendly, relatable style, Bogel shares engaging personal stories that show firsthand how understanding personality can revolutionize the way we live, love, work, and pray.

     

    I just realized that all the books in this non-fiction section are by bloggers. Of course, like every other homeschooling parent I love Sarah Mackenzie and the Read Aloud Revival Podcast. This book was a lot of fun to read (my book list grew) and I’m sure it is one I will re-read down the road.

    The Read-Aloud Family: Making Meaningful and Lasting Connections with Your Kids

    Connecting deeply with our kids can be difficult in our busy, technology-driven lives. Reading aloud offers us a chance to be fully present with our children. It also increases our kids’ academic success, inspires compassion, and fortifies them with the inner strength they need to face life’s challenges. As Sarah Mackenzie has found with her own six children, reading aloud long after kids are able to read to themselves can deepen relationships in a powerful way.

     

    I grew up with a creative and crafty mom and her mom before her was also creative and crafty. This book reminded me a lot of my roots. While the author is a blogger I didn’t realize that until after I got the book out. As a Christian I just skimmed over some of her ideas of more earthy/spiritual ideas (there really wasn’t that many) and found that the book overall was inspiring and made me want to be more creative with my children, and finally master the art of knitting.

    The Creative Family Manifesto

    Embrace family life with creativity at its heart. The Creative Family Manifesto is a guide to using the simple tools around you—your imagination, basic art supplies, household objects, and natural materials—to relax, play, and grow together as a family. When you learn to awaken your family’s creativity, wonderful things will happen: you’ll make meaningful connections with your children, your children’s imaginations will flourish, and you’ll learn to express love and gratitude for each other. This book is just what you need to get started.

     

     

    LONG-TERM READS

    In addition to finishing a few books each month I am currently reading a few “stiff books” that I am reading slowly and will take me a few months to read. I’m including these here in case you are interested.

    The History of the Renaissance World – to be honest, I’m currently not retaining a whole lot from this book, but I’m getting a little bit out of it. I hope to go through the whole series a few times and then hopefully I’ll understand more. I probably should have started with the Ancient World but I got this book for less than $0.50 at a library sale a few months ago so I decided to start with this one.

    Home Education – I am also going through the Charlotte Mason Home Education series, I’m starting with the first volume, Home Education, and will probably move on to A Philosophy of Education after that. I am planning on mostly homeschooling with the Charlotte Mason method this year and up until now have being reading other books about her method and a variety of websites but I thought it would be best to go directly to the source. This series will take me awhile to get through though.

     

    If you have good book recommendations for my to-read list I’m always accepting book suggestions, just leave me a comment below and I’ll add it to my stack.

  • GOALS,  HOMESCHOOL,  MOTHER CULTURE

    A Mother Culture Instagram Challenge

    One of the reasons I enjoy homeschooling so much is because being a lifelong learner is very important to me.

    Even if we weren’t homeschooling I would constantly be taking books out of the library on topics that interest me and I want to learn more about.

    Before we started homeschooling I loved the sounds of the Charlotte Mason homeschooling method, I won’t dive into the method right now but one of the terms that often goes along with the Charlotte Mason method is the idea of “mother culture”. This term wasn’t used in any of Charlotte’s writings but was made popular by Karen Andreola who wrote A Charlotte Mason Companion.

    The whole idea of mother culture can be summed up in this quote attributed to Billy Graham: “Mothers should cultivate their souls so that in turn they may cultivate the souls of their children.”

     

    Simple Mother Culture - An Instagram Prompt Challenge

     

    While we have not been Charlotte Mason homeschoolers up to this point I am planning a bit of a trial run because I love so many aspects of the method. But one area I’ve unintentionally followed is mother culture.

    I think the general term for this in society these days would probably be personal growth but in my opinion mother culture goes much deeper than that.

    The way I see it, personal growth is done to better ones self in order to grow for ones self but mother culture is done to grow your knowledge to be able to help others. It may be a slight difference but I do think it exists. That being said, I have nothing against the term personal growth, I think it’s a term people understand and whether or not they know your motives for the growth, be it for yourself or others, it doesn’t really matter.

     

    Simple Mother Culture - An Instagram Prompt Challenge

     

    Anyway, I thought it would be fun to have an Instagram photo prompt challenge for the month of August with the theme Simple Mother Culture.

    My goals for the challenge are to:

    • find a network of fellow mamas who are excited about the idea of mother culture
    • gather inspiration and resources
    • intentionally set aside time to think about how I approach mother culture in my own life

    I decided to make the challenge only on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for one month because I know how busy mothers are! I would love to have you join in, and feel free to post on whichever days you can/feel like it/are interested. You can join the challenge even if you don’t post for each prompt.

     

    Simple Mother Culture - An Instagram Prompt Challenge

     

    Here’s a little breakdown of how the challenge will work:

    On the specified day you will post a photo pertaining to that days prompt and use the tag #SimpleMotherCulture so I (and others) can find your photos. I hope to share some of the posts you share as well.

    Because I know the simple prompts may not be descriptive enough, here’s a little more info on each day:

    01 (W): post the challenge photo – you can grab the photo from this blog post or over on my Instagram
    03 (F): introduction – introduce yourself, I’d love to hear a little about your family and some of your interests

    WEEKEND

    In A Charlotte Mason Companion she talks about always having three books going; a stiff book, a moderately easy book and a novel. I’m hoping we can get a list of some great book suggestions this week! Feel free to share the books you are currently reading in these categories or ones that are on your list, or even some of your favorites you have read!

    06 (M): stiff book suggestions – this is a meant to be a deep and challenging book
    08 (W): moderately easy book suggestions – generally non-fiction these can be biographies, parenting books, etc, etc.
    10 (F): novel suggestions – I think this one is pretty self explanatory, let’s share the best of the best

    WEEKEND

    13 (M): learning alongside – share anything about what you like to learn alongside your kids
    15 (W): art – this is broad on purpose, share your own art, how you study art, favorite resources, anything to do with art!
    17 (F): music – pretty much the same thing as the art prompt, I kept it broad on purpose, though, spoiler alert: I probably won’t have a whole lot to share this day

     

    Simple Mother Culture - An Instagram Prompt Challenge

     

    WEEKEND

    20 (M): garden – I hadn’t thought of having a garden prompt until I read an occasional new plant in A Charlotte Mason Companion, so share anything garden/plant related.
    22 (W): nature study – favorite resources? how do you study nature? I want to hear it all!
    24 (F): quiet time – I was thinking about Bible and prayer time when I wrote this prompt, I’d love to hear when you make time for it and if you have anything else you would like to share about it

    WEEKEND

    27 (M): handicrafts – share some of your favorite crafty projects you like to do!
    29 (W): friendship – part of mother culture is making sure you have time for friends, how do you find and make time for your tribe?
    31 (F): marriage – and last, but not least, all things marriage related! (If you want a few great podcast episodes to listen to on marriage, check out this one, this one and this one from the ladies at the At Home Podcast)

     

    So, are you in?! Be sure to follow me on Instagram and start sharing on August 1st!

  • BOOKS,  MOTHER CULTURE

    Simplicity Parenting – A Free Online Book Club

    You know those books that people just rave and rave about? Simplicity Parenting is one of those books.

    I read it for myself a number of years ago and really enjoyed it and have been meaning to read it again it as we have been in this season in our family life right now where I think it would be the perfect time to re-read it.

    The sub-title for the book is: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids – seriously, what parent doesn’t want that?!

    I took a poll in my Instagram stories a few days ago and asked if a) people would be interested in having an online book club with this book and b) if they would prefer for the book club to be in August or September.

    The response was amazing, lots of you were interested in the book club but the month was split almost 50/50 with September just a little ahead. Since September gives people a little more time to get their hands on the book I will officially be hosting a Simplicity Parenting Book Club here on the blog in September!

     

    Free Simplicity Parenting online book club for moms!

     

    I’ve hosted a few online book clubs before, some on Instagram, some in the courses section of this site but this time I made the decision to keep it as easy as possible for everyone and each week I will be sharing my thoughts on the book and asking questions here on the blog in regular blog post form and you can chime in via the comment section.

    The posts/discussion will be weekly, I am just waiting for my copy of the book and then I will share the complete reading/discussion schedule.

    Update! Here’s the discussion schedule:

    September 5 – introduction & chapter 1
    September 12 – chapters 2 & 3
    September 19 – chapters 4 & 5
    September 26 – chapter 6 & epilogue

    Want a little more info about the book? I pulled this from Amazon 😉 :

    Simplicity Parenting offers inspiration, ideas, and a blueprint for change:

    • Streamline your home environment. Reduce the amount of toys, books, and clutter—as well as the lights, sounds, and general sensory overload.
    • Establish rhythms and rituals. Discover ways to ease daily tensions, create battle-free mealtimes and bedtimes, and tell if your child is overwhelmed.
    • Schedule a break in the schedule. Establish intervals of calm and connection in your child’s daily torrent of constant doing.
    • Scale back on media and parental involvement. Manage your children’s “screen time” to limit the endless deluge of information and stimulation.

    A manifesto for protecting the grace of childhood, Simplicity Parenting is an eloquent guide to bringing new rhythms to bear on the lifelong art of raising children.

    If you would like to join the book club just fill in your name and email address in the form below and I’ll email out the reading and discussion schedule as soon as I have it planned and I will email you each week in September when that weeks discussion is up.

    If you have ideas for our next book club after this one leave a comment below!

     

    UPDATE: We read and discussed the book club in September! You can check out the posts below:

    introduction & chapter 1
    chapters 2 & 3
    chapters 4 & 5
    chapter 6 & epilogue

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