Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Seeking to Simplify Update

I have still been plugging away and simplifying and having less stuff at our house. I have been able to stick with the plan of getting rid of 25 items and cleaning out 5 spaces each week. I had fallen behind for a bit when we were sick and super busy but I am caught up again now so I thought I would share. 😀

 I did want to share some ideas that have really helped me as I work to decide what we need or don't need in our home.

It started with my clothes....

   I happened upon these videos that said they would help you dress better and like how you look and not cost you a dime. I don't remember how to find them now but I really enjoyed them. The process was simple. Simply take a ribbon or something of that nature, push all your clothes in your closet together so there is a little extra room (please tell me that your closet isn't to full to do that 😊) and tie the ribbon on the rod between your clothes and the open space. Then when you wear something from your closet put it on the empty side (well it will get fuller as time goes by) of the rod. Don't wear those items again until the other side is empty. As you get to the end you may find there are something that you are not going to wear hanging on the rod. They may not fit, they may need mending or you just really don't like them and they look horrible on you. Those items you should either fix so they do work (and then go ahead and wear them) or you should get rid of them. Figure out a way to do the same things with your other clothes. I personally first just made stacks of clothes on top of my dresser of the clothes I had worn but then when there was more of them than the ones left in the drawers I swapped them out. But anyway I systematically went through all of my clothes. The video I watched didn't think it was necessary to do that with socks, underwear, pajamas and things like that but I included those things. I figured if I had socks that I didn't want to wear that they didn't just need to hang around in my drawer forever either.

   The concept of this was that we all have clothes that we like and look good in and we tend to wear those clothes over and over and we truly only use around 20 % of our clothes. That means that clothes we don't even like are taking up tons of room and causing us extra time as we sort through them to decide what we really do want to wear. This challenge also causes you to look at your clothes in a different way and try new outfit combinations. It can be pretty fun. My sister and sister-in-law thought it was fun to check out what I was wearing as I went through this challenge especially as it neared the end and I didn't have many clothing choices. I think they were a little disappointed that I didn't have more interesting combinations than I did.

   After you do get rid of clothes and perhaps you are thinking about adding new clothes to your collection do it only after very careful consideration of what style, colors, fabric types that you actually like and wear. Don't just buy something because it is on sale or on a whim. By the way I didn't get rid of nearly 80% of my clothes but I also forced myself out of my comfort zone a bit with new combinations and it was fun. It definitely did cause me to get rid of quite a few things however and also just to realize what an abundance of clothes that I had. When you go through all of it like that you tend to realize that you really don't need anything new - you already have more than you need.

   After I had been through the clothes challenge I figured this concept would work well with other things too....

BOOKS. So the girls and I are currently working to read through all the books in our house. Since that is well over a thousand (over 2 thousand possibly???)  that is taking a while but it is fun. I haven't been hearing "There's nothing to read!" lately and it is fun to watch Megan read things like Bible commentaries😜. I have always had the goal to only have good books on our shelves (ones that I can be proud of and believe God would be happy to see us read) but sometimes questionable ones slip in somehow. This is a great time to find them and weed them out. Also sometimes we find books that area simply boring. I am not easily bored but mostly I don't think we need to have poorly written books on our shelves so this is a good way to find them and weed them out as well.

GAMES. I worked to have our family play all the games on our shelves (of which there are many) and we got rid of some. There is no need to keep around ones that we don't need or enjoy.

FOOD. Food does eventually go bad and sometimes we get things on our shelves that we aren't so fond of. However I do not like to waste food. So I really work (and this is nothing new) to make sure that we go through our food systematically and use up one years canning/freezing before we start eating on the next years food. I work to find new methods to use things we are not so fond of.

The method of forcing yourself to actually use everything that you have has been wonderful for me in making me feeling abundantly blessed and contented and it has been fun. I hope that it works for you as well if you try it.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Time to Go to the Woods- Waiting for Sap to Run

Aaron, my right hand man and his sidekick, Amos
I have been getting to spend a little more time out in the woods lately and I have been loving it! Something about the sunny days as Spring heads our way just make me want to get outside. I tend to like to do things with a purpose in mind however (I am pretty goal oriented - probably more than I should be) and so that is why I really love tapping maple trees in the Spring. It is a productive reason to be outside when the weather is calling me out there anyway.

   Unfortunately we do not have much of anything in the way of Maple trees on our property (we have tried planting a few little seedlings. But my parents have maple trees and so we have been going over there to tap trees and check how things are going. We have had some really lovely days but they have also been interspersed with cooler days and some quite chilly nights and so the sap hasn't really started running very much. But we have trees tapped and waiting. It is nicer to be ahead of schedule than to be working to get them tapped at the last minute.
Isn't the bright blue sky just beautiful?? God has made so much beauty in every season.

 I haven't managed to share much with you for a while from God's word. I read this scripture lately and I find it to be very moving and so I want to share it with you....

  "Be strong and courageous, do not fear or be dismayed because of the king of Assyria nor because of all the horde that is with him; for the one with us is great than the one with him. With him is only an arm of flesh, but with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles." And the people relied on the words of Hezekiah king of Judah." 2 Chronicles 32:7 & 8

Are you walking with God right now? If so this message is true for you too. If you have God's Holy Spirit dwelling in you then the one that is with you is so very much stronger than anything that you can face. Trust God!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Raising Passionate Jesus Followers {Book Review}

I was blessed to be able to read "Raising Passionate Jesus Followers - The Power of Intentional Parenting" by Phil and Diane Comer just lately. When that book was offered to me for review it was a pretty much immediate "Yes!" on my part. By far my biggest goal in life is that I would be a passionate Jesus follower and that I could raise my kids to be that as well and also that I could influence others to follow Jesus passionately too. Yes I have many other goals and dreams for me children as well but this one is by far the top goal. So even if they aren't great at schoolwork and don't land a high paying job but are passionately following Jesus Christ I will be very thankful!

 Things that I loved about the book:

  • They shared a lot of scripture.
  • They were very real and honest in speaking of their experience.
  • They share a lot of real life stories
  • They emphasize the importance of getting the Word of God in our lives.
  • They unashamedly speak of following scriptural directions in disciplining your children.
  • They also very strongly speak of the need for balance between Discipline, "Affection, Affirmation and Fun" and Order all of those sitting on the foundation of Jesus.
  • They focused on all the years of parenting from little to having adult children.

I really appreciate their explaining that in order to raise Passionate Jesus followers that you need to be one too. This is such a very important concept. We need to be examples to our children. If we want them to study and know the Bible than we had better be making time to do that in our lives. If we want them to have a vibrant prayer life then we should be working on that too. If we want our children to seek God's will and walk in His Spirit than we should be seeking to do that too.

 The only issue that I remember having with the book was in the areas when they were sharing about children becoming Christians and they seemed to think that happened before baptism with baptism coming after and I don't believe that is what the Bible teaches.

 You can find this book on Amazon and other places as well. I very much recommend it. May you be encouraged by it!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Colorful Train Quilt for Buirlen

   We are so blessed to have a bunch of little people in our family right now. In my side of the family (the ones we live near) there had been a break in the arrival of grand-kids for several years but in the last 2 years there are now 5 more. It is wonderful! Just recently we celebrated the 1st birthday of Buirlen. Megan and I decided to make a quilt for his birthday gift. 

   I had been thinking about making it for a month but I was finishing up some other gifts and projects and so I didn't end up getting to it until the day before his party. But with Megan's good help and even a little assistance from Aaron and Mara at the end we got it done.
 I was just going to have a bunch of colorful squares but Megan wanted some pinwheel blocks too. I thought that would be pretty appropriate since pin-wheels had been a big thing and Buirlen's parents wedding (you can see my post about it here). So we made three pin-wheel squares to go in the middle of the quilt. Then we just had a bunch of blocks. After those we sewed together I stiched a railroad track (using thread and ribbon) all around the quilt. Then we put two trains made of jean pockets on the track.
 I had wanted to make finger puppets to go in the trains but I didn't have time but Megan got it done. They turned out pretty cute. Buirlen thought they were fun to play with.

 This is the train on the other side.
 Megan made a really cut engineer to go in one of the engines.
 It ended up being a really fun project. The jean pockets I had been saving as I cut up strips for rugs and wanting to find something to do with them. They were the inspiration for this quilt. I still have a bunch more however so I am going to need to do something else with them too. The blocks all came from scraps of fabric that we had around. For the back of the quilt I used a piece of flannel that I had bought years ago on a sale. The lining was an old mattress cover that my neighbor had given me to make something with. It was amazing how perfectly it fit the quilt without any pre-planning on my part. God certainly blessed as we made it. We only had limited time to work on it and everything went together super smoothly. I was so thankful.

 By the way Buirlen's Mama has a neat blog that you might enjoy checking out.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Learning about Medieval Classes at Co-op

 This year our theme at our homeschool co-op has been Medieval Times. I have long loved history but hadn't paid a whole lot of attention to that time period before this year. I have truly loved learning a lot more about it.

  At this month's co-op gathering we talked about the class system and touched on Feudalism and Manorialism. It was a bit of work but pretty fun too. There were 5 different parents in charge of this month and then we also pulled in our highschoolers (9 of them) to help us as well. I was in charge of the Nobility and then we also had Royalty, Church (Catholic Church), Peasants (both the serfs and the freemen were put together) and City Folk (Merchants and Tradesmen).

  We all decorated a station for our different groups and the parent leaders and the highschoolers all dressed in costume. Here are a bunch of pictures from our day....

The one above shows the great hall that we created for our nobility station. We decided to portray the Sir Henry Percy Family of Warkworth castle. Josh (one of the teenagers in my station) had suggested that and researched them quite a bit. I had a blast learning more about them as well. Now I really want to go to England and visit the castle ruins.
 Annie was the other highschooler helping me. She was teaching the girls how to curtsy.
We also had the girls help us work on an embroidered tapestry that we were making for our home (it is creating a picture of Warkworth castle on it).
You might notice my lovely hat. Megan created it for me for the occasion. I didn't feel like I could be a true Lady without a proper hat.
 As the day began at co-op we had the kids all randomly draw some slips of paper (from their parent to show that they class that they were depended upon how they were born generally) that showed what class they belonged to. Then each class started their day by going to their home station. We had 3 young men that were nobles. After we told them about being nobles then all the groups rotated around and we would tell a different group and also explain how we would interact with them. So we told the peasants about the jobs we had for them, talked to the merchants about buying cloth and spices from them and so forth. Then after each group had been to each station they came back to their home station to eat lunch. We Nobles ate our lunch together and the other groups did as well. We served them food that went with their station.

  We nobles had a first course of chicken soup, 2nd course was roast, carrots, peas, bread, butter and honey and dessert was grapes and cheese.
 Here you can see the peasants coming and bowing to the King and Queen.
 The castle servant had made flowers that the peasants could give to the king and queen.
 This was the super cool draw bridge that the royalty had at their station.

 For their lunch they also had a first course of chicken soup. 2nd course was venison roast with carrots and peas and we stuck peacock feathers into the roast for some extra glamour. They had some really fancy bread, butter, jam, olives, grapes, cheese and grape juice. They also had cookies for dessert.
Here is the royal table.
 The peasants had a fun diorama to look at and learn from. They also learned about grinding grain.

 There was a fun sounding game of keeping the birds (balloons) off of the crops.

For their lunch time they sat on the floor and used low benches for their table. They had pottage (made from yellow split peas, barley, onions, garlic, cabbage and salt), dark bread and apples to eat. Nobody got forks to use as they weren't yet invented then.

 At the City folk's station the kids got to hear from Will the blacksmith, Jonathan the Carpenter and Lyndi the cloth merchant and general explainer of the City Folk.

Lyndi was able to wear the wool dress that Mara sewed by hand this winter which is made in an appropriate medieval style (Mara has been researching it a lot). I had fun helping Lyndi out with her head gear as well. I guess some queen in the 1300's was concerned about her sagging chin so she started wearing a band that went under her chin to make it so it wouldn't sag. She also wore one around the forehead as well. Pretty soon that was the style all over.

The City folk had roast, carrots, peas and bread for lunch.

 Jackie, Mara and Angel were nuns and portrayed having a place where sick people could go. They also talked about pilgrimages that were made in those days and others various Catholic teachings and history. They spoke in Latin a little bit so the kids would get to hear that.

The Clergy ate Pottage, brown bread and boiled eggs for lunch.

 Over all it was a really fun day. I hope the kids learned a lot and will remember it.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Needing Jesus

Life can get overwhelming sometimes. Whether it is a spiritual struggle (sometimes I wonder where that nasty attitude in me came from!) or a physical struggle (and there have been those lately) it is Jesus that I need to help me through. I am so very thankful!

 This song just kept playing over and over in my head last week as our family dealt with Influenza and while we were very tired, feverish and weak I also did flowers for a wedding and we watched my 2 year old nephew while his baby brother was being born. I saw God giving the strength to go on and the grace that we needed so many times. We are blessed beyond measure. This song has been a blessing to me I pray it might be for you as well.


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