Sunday Sharing

Welcome to Sunday Sharing! It is here that I share my favorite articles, news, and videos that I encountered this week.

First up is Questions to Ask Yourself in Hard Times. I didn’t understand how, when I started to take prayer and my job as a wife and mother seriously, with the care it truly deserves, that I would be under spiritual warfare.  Keeping our home for the glory of God is tough, and this post came to me at an excellent time.

I always enjoy Alastair Roberts’ writing, and this article on Bill Nye, Progressive Science and the Threat of Nature is no exception. I hope that I have the courage to be a person of truth rather than cooperating with the new ideology, and he reminds us here that the truth and natural morality are on our side.

We hold that God’s word alone is our authority, and we hold that any Christian can read and understand God’s word for themselves. So, how do we decide which bloggers to follow and what sources of “truth” and teaching to hold onto? Often, online voices seem like a popularity contest, and Christianity Today’s Who’s in Charge of the Christian Blogosphere? raises some interesting questions, and examines how we got to the place we are. Here’s a key quote from this article that I think expresses the crisis that we are currently in:

The church has said for millennia that bad teaching is more deadly than bad surgery. Now we have an influx of teachers who become so by the stroke of a key. The need for formal structures of training, hierarchy, and accountability in medical schools and medical boards is obvious because we don’t want our doctors to simply be popular or relatable; we want them to practice medicine correctly and truthfully, participate in a medical tradition broader than themselves, and serve under the authority and oversight of others. We need to be as discerning in whom we trust with care of souls as we are with care of our bodies.

This article on Netflix’s Biggest Competition reminds me that my life is not meant to be spent on entertainment.  (Not that some entertainment is a bad thing, but moderation is key.) I was floored by the transparency on the part of Netflix, and by the far reaching implications for me.  Here’s a key quote:

These companies are not competing to vanquish one another as much as they are competing to fill our every waking moment. Our need to close our eyes is their greatest limitation, because at the end of the day we will still come to the end of the day. Eventually, we have to turn off our screens to sleep.

I don’t want my every waking moment to be filled by Netflix.

I also found Wordliness: A rich person’s problem? to be an excellent read.  For a long time I assumed I didn’t have a problem with money because I didn’t have any.  Then I would realize that I was lying awake at night, continually running numbers, constantly obsessed over whether or not I would have money left for groceries or what ever it was that I wanted/needed.  I realized that my obsession with money, and the way I would hoard it up, would be very dangerous signs of a love of money.

At any rate, here is what I’ve found recently to be of great value to me on the internet.  Hope that all my American readers are having a great Memorial Day weekend!!

Charlotte’s Web Movie Night

We’ve been loosely following Ambleside Online’s schedule for year one since the first of the year.  I have two year one students, so this has worked out great, and I have been able to creatively incorporate my older two (upper elementary/early middle school age) children with the same material.   It really deserves its own post, and maybe one day I’ll write it.

At any rate, as part of our homeschool time, we’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web. This is such a sweet book, and it’s perfect for early elementary.  After we finished the book, we decided that we would have a movie night to celebrate finishing the book.  So, we watched the animated Charlotte’s Web movie and made some movie themed food.

We started with the most major project.  We made chocolate cupcakes and decorated them.

Decorating Cup Cakes

Emalee especially worked a bunch on cutting out marshmallow noses and wafer cookie ears.

making noses

When they were finished, we felt like they looked pretty cute, and we called them Wilbur cupcakes. Emalee, Connor and Ellie all worked on different aspects of these cupcakes.

Wilbur Cupcakes

I set Bennett to work on his own project.  He began to cut up hot dogs. I was a little concerned about him.  His knife skills might just be a little shaky.

Cutting the hot dogs

When he was finished with his creation, they were cute little hot dog spiders.

Hot dog spiders

We needed more than that, so we also made spaghetti as our main dish.  We dubbed it spiderweb spaghetti.  The kids decided to call the meatballs Charlotte’s egg sac meatballs.  I thought it sounded a little gross, but if you’ve read the story, you know that her egg sac plays a big role in the ending of the book.

Spiderweb spaghetti

I had forgotten how much fun the themed movie nights are.  It’s been a while since we had one.  The kids were also glued to the animated film because it was Connor and Ellie’s first time seeing it.

We started reading Peter Pan yesterday, so we’re hoping that maybe next month we’ll be able to have a movie night with it as well.  It was certainly a good hands-on project to involve all the children in working on to finish up our read-aloud!!

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart

I am finally feeling back up to writing some, and I decided to pick up with the books that I’ve been reading the past couple of months.  This is a book that I checked out from the library in April, and while it is a nice book for a young Christian or even a good gift book, this is the type of writing that gives women’s theology writers a bad name.  It’s just “fluffy” for lack of a better term.  Here’s what I wrote on Goodreads about the book:

31 Verses to Write on Your Heart31 Verses to Write on Your Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Have you wanted to memorize scripture? Did you need help figuring out which verses to start with and how to begin the process of memorizing these verses? That’s the basis of Liz Curtis Higgs’ book 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart . In this book Higgs takes 31 devotional size chapters to explain some of the most popular verses for memorization in the Bible, and she gives one big tip on how to memorize within each chapter. For those wanting to use this as a daily devotional, she also includes reflection questions to go with each chapter at the end of the book.

I find that I don’t have a ton to say about this book, but I wanted to write down just a couple of thoughts on it.

First, I found it exceptionally annoying that she continued to use different translations to define the words in the verses. I personally would have rather seen her pick a translation, stick to it, and perhaps use some actual definitions and exegesis of the passages that these verses come from. Her method of defining and exploring these verses was really light and shallow.

Second, these are verses that most long time Christians should have memorized. This makes this an excellent book to give a young Christian. It would be a good devotional for a disciple or as part of a graduation gift for a teen. It would also be a good secret angel gift for a partner that you might not know as well.

Overall, this is not a bad book. It’s just an average (light) women’s book and something that is very appropriate for a younger Christian.


One of the reasons I haven’t been blogging all the cute projects that people love to visit on my site recently is because my children haven’t been doing so many.  My oldest, who was six when I started blogging, is now twelve.

He does Latin and works on his multiplication tables (because he finds it frustrating that he still doesn’t have them memorized).  He sets himself a schedule for doing push-ups and stretching.  Chores and Tae Kwon Do are as much a part of our day sometimes as school is. I still have a couple of smaller kids, but with two bigger kids in the house, there isn’t always as much time for food fun or crafts as I would like. We go on a ton more field trips.  Life has changed at our house.

Recently, we picked up Latin again after a couple of years absence and one of the first words that Bennett re-memorized was “amo.” It, of course, translates to “I love or I like.” We do the whole conjugation chant as well. “amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant.” If you have a Latin student, I’m sure that you recognize it.

One of the things that we didn’t know that was that one of the derivatives of “amo” is “amateur.”  The word amateur has been a big one for us lately. The children have all been watching Dragon Ball Z recently, and there’s one character who is buffoonish, and he likes to go around calling the “real fighters” amateurs.

It has been difficult to find a real explanation of amateur that we can latch onto. The Webster’s 1828 dictionary defines it as:

A person attached to a particular pursuit, study or science, as to music or painting; one who has a taste for the arts.

We didn’t find that especially helpful. Our google dictionary search came back with:

A person who engages in a pursuit, especially a sport, on an unpaid basis.

As a side note, it’s amazing how words change over time. I tried using the Olympics as an example of amateurs, and then I realized how many professional athletes there are at the Olympics, so it was difficult to build the right definition for him.

Latin gave us our answer. “Amo” means “I love,” and an a person who is an amateur does something because of love and does not expect payment in return.  For example, I have a teaching degree, but most teachers would consider me to be an amateur.  After all, the only students I have taught have been either my own or in volunteer classes.  I teach because I love teaching, and not because I get a paycheck or expect a payment in return.

This he could understand.  An amateur does for love and a professional does as their career and for payment.  There’s sometimes a huge difference in skill level, and sometimes not, but the motivations, internal concerns and pressures are completely different. I love when we’re able to get a deeper sense of a word just from learning its roots.

Resources and Reflections on An Island Story Chapter 21

an island story

Welcome to my fifth installment of resources and teaching ideas for An Island Story. If you are looking for ideas on earlier chapters of the books and you’ve missed a post, I have a landing page that is a collection of these posts with more to come soon! So, go check that out!

This collection of ideas and resources covers just chapter 21, the life of Edward the Confessor.  I have made the decision to only cover this chapter in this installment for two reasons.  (1) If you are using Ambleside Online, this is the end of their year one schedule. (2) My thoughts and reflections are lengthier than they have been, and I would prefer to break my posts into shorter, more manageable help and reflections upon how we used this book.

Edward the Confessor

Edward was Edmund Ironside’s brother. He was a son of Ethelred the Unready, who was raised in France, but became the king of England. Unfortunately, he did not love England or the English people, but had many of his liege lords and court brought over from France. He even made the promise that one day, his cousin, William of Normandy, could become the next King of England.

This is an outlandish promise for an Englishman to make to a French duke, and we would consider it to be the height of treason.  There were voices to the dissent of this, and the loudest voice was Harold Godwinson, the earl of East Anglia (future Earl of Wessex) and brother-in-law to Edward.

We are not told how (and scholars actually speculate), but Harold manages to be kidnapped by William of Normandy, and is not released until he swears that William will be the next king of England.  This chapter of An Island Story ends with Edward’s death in January of 1066, and really sets us up for a penultimate battle over kingship for England.

Despite the soap-opera type goings on with kidnappings, treasons, wives unloved and secret oaths, that wasn’t the part of the story that we really focused on.  We realized that we needed to take the time to have a simple geography lesson. In the chapter before, the children hadn’t even realized that there was a country called Hungary, and they were getting confused over where the Danes invaded from versus where on earth Normandy was.  The additions of various names for earls of provinces, etc. didn’t make things any easier.

The easiest thing for us to do was to just pull up Google maps and discuss the countries.  We found out how far from England Edmund Ironside’s children were exiled in Hungary (and I also had to explain to my two year one students that they traveled by boat and land, not by airplane). We learned where Normandy was in France and how England was divided up. We learned where the Danes actually came from. This was a good grounding in the places that are important at this point in An Island Story.

The other issue, geography wise, that I needed to deal with was my ten year old (year 4) daughter’s misunderstanding about states and countries.  She didn’t understand why promising the throne to someone in Normandy would be a big deal because she considered them both to be states in Europe. So, we discussed the difference between states and countries, using a video to get the basic definition.  We also watched the video on whether or not the European Union is a country how Europe is unified now than they ever have been since the fall of the Roman Empire in the west.

All this geography talk, however, did not stop my six year old from referring to Hungary as “the planet Hungary.” <facepalm>


Resources for An Island Story (Chapters 16-20)

an island story

We are continuing our journey through An Island Story but learning more about the early kings of England. Chapters 16 through 20 continue King Alfred’s life and end with the famous story of King Canute and the Waves (a story that is also part of 50 Famous Tales Retold).

If you are following Ambleside Online’s schedule, these chapters are also going to bring you almost to the close of Year One. I always like to say that we’re Ambleside inspired, meaning that we use many Charlotte Mason ideas and much of the book list from Ambleside, but we don’t necessarily use it in the proscribed ways.

King Alfred in the Cowherd’s Cottage

This is the famous story of the time when Alfred was so overwhelmed by the Danish attacks that he finds himself hiding in the woods, pretending to be a simple man without the burdens of kingship as he ponders how to fight back against the Danes.

In the famous story, Alfred ends up staying at a cowherd’s home, and the cowherd’s wife thinks he’s pretty useless. One day as she goes about some other chores, she asks him to keep watch over the cakes on the fire, but he is so wrapped up in his thoughts he lets them burn. Of course, the cowherd’s wife is telling him how she really feels about him when it comes out that Alfred is her king.

This is, of course the perfect time to make Alfred cakes.  This is the recipe that we used, and I thought they were delicious.  All but one of my children agreed.

Alfred Cakes

We also happen to be reading through 50 Famous Tales Retold right now, and so we read the story of Alfred and the Cakes out of that book and compared the two versions. Little details are changed between the versions, and it was an excellent time to explain how sometimes details are remembered differently over time and the way historians reconstruct history.

If you have 50 Famous Tales Retold, there’s another story of a vision or dream that Alfred had recorded in it, and it makes for an excellent companion for this period in Alfred’s life.

More About Alfred the Great

This chapter really just wraps up Alfred’s life. It tells more about his accomplishments.

The most notable new thing for me from this chapter is that he established the idea of trial by jury, and even that there should be 12 jurors.  If you’re wanting to expand your studies into more of a Civics unit, this would be a good place to work through some lesson plans on the Jury System, such as these at  We talked a little about how a jury trial works, but my younger two are too small to care, and my older two have picked up some ideas about how it works from books and movies, and I decided that now wasn’t the time I wanted to pursue it.

When we had studied Alfred the Great before, and we had made paintings of Alfred’s standards. It would have been a good place to have done the same with the Danish standards. They believed the the raven on their standard looked different based on whether they were going to have a victory or defeat.

Ethelred the Unready

This chapter discusses the last of the “boy kings” of England and takes place about 100 years after Alfred’s reign.

Ethelred attempted to pay the Danish people off and keep them from invading by instituting taxes taken up among the people and given to the Danes. As you can imagine, that just meant that the Danes started coming to England for more money every time that they needed money.

My children were actually quite delighted about that part of the story.  They were pretty sure that Ethelred was a complete idiot.  It’s a great time to talk about viking trickery, about how throwing money at a problem doesn’t make a problem go away, and about cowardice and standing up to bullies.

Ethelred’s story takes quite a dark turn as he turns his anger at the Danes against his own people, playing into a large bit of unhappiness that the Britons have with the Danes who are living peaceably among them. He has his people kill all the Danes living settled lives in Britain–men, women and children.

I cannot help but think about ethnic tensions, even here in the US, in current events as I read how things were so surprisingly tense and how willing the Britons were to carry out this task. As it had happened, we had just read in Who Am I? earlier in the day about a young Muslim girl living in London named Amira. Her family was a peaceable family, but her parents had to explain to Amira that some of the people in London hated Muslims because of the terrorist bombings that had occurred. This was a very good place to stop and think about that, and to compare it to the British hatred of even the peaceable Danes that they dwelt with each day, all because of some of the other Danes who were bent on conquest.

How Edmund Ironside Fought for the Crown

Following Ethelred’s murders of the peaceful Danes in his land, a Dane named Canute comes to revenge his sister’s death and to take over England.  The people are happy enough with that course of action until Ethelred dies and his son Edmund Ironside desires to become king. Edmund is everything that Ethelred is not.  He is honorable, courageous and has the love of the English people. (This is a great time to do a comparison chart and show how Edmund and Ethelred differ.)

Edmund and Canute end up fighting over England, and then, wearying of the fight they agree to single combat to decide the fate of England. This leads to agreement to split England into two pieces with each ruler overseeing half of England, with England being recombined whenever one of them dies. Compromise and partnership are all excellent ideas to explore here. Honor is an excellent theme for this one.

As it happens, Edmund only ends up living seven months before he dies and Canute becomes the King of England.

Canute and the Waves

This is a very special and memorable story for children, and it’s also one of the stories told in 50 Famous Stories Retold, so it’s great if you want to do a comparison.

When King Canute lectures his liege lords, there’s a great quote that you want to make a part of your children’s lives.  It goes:

Do you still tell me that I have power over the waves? Oh! foolish men, do you not know that to God alone belongs such power? He alone rules earth and sky and sea and we and they alike are his subjects and must obey them.

This is one that the children repeated to their Daddy and then they shared with him how Canute never wore his crown again, but took it off and placed it on a statue of Jesus.  There are many Bible verses about humility that could go with this or God’s sovereignty.

I have not worked on it yet, but I feel that some kind of artwork with the quote is going to make its way into being created into our home.  I can see a canvas with waves and sequins or buttons, and the words on it.  It would be a group effort.  I’ll keep you guys posted if we make it.

It’s also a great place to read a story such as Matthew 8:23-27 about how even the wind and sea obey Jesus.  Then, you might decide to draw pictures contrasting the wind and sea before Jesus’s commands and after.  Have the children (and yourself) consider whether or not you truly obey him as the wind and sea do. It’s at best a sobering thought.

Humbling to realize that I do not obey Jesus as well as the winds and the sea do!!

So, that’s it for this installment of ideas to go along with An Island Story.  Hope you guys have a great week!!

Sunday Sharing

Welcome to Sunday Sharing! It is here that I share the articles, videos and other things that have touched me the most this week.

First off is 7 Reasons School is Not an Option for My Homeschooled Kids. School is not an option for my children either, so it was refreshing to read this article! While you’re on Shelly’s page, be sure to check out 50 Reasons Why Homeschooling is Better Than School and 25 More Reasons Why Homeschooling is Better Than School. I’m always surprised when the things I take for granted about homeschooling are things that you lose when you send your child to school.

While I’m writing about Shelly’s work, check out her video, Are Hands-On Homeschool Activities Really Just Busywork?. This is something that I’ve gone back-and-forth on. I started out very pro-activities, and then went through a stage where I felt they were just busywork. I’ve since decided that field trips and hands-on activities can be very helpful experiences in homeschooling, and I’ve worked on carefully choosing just a few right ones, so that we don’t get overwhelmed.  Sometimes, when we first started homeschooling, we sacrificed learning for activities, so I’m very careful of the balance in having them and the choices that we have to make. What are your thoughts?

I have seen many people grow weary in their calling from the Lord and give up.  I especially see homeschool moms give up on homeschooling because it gets hard, and because the road ahead is weary.  So, When You Hit a Wall, Breathe! & A New Podcast, was a very gentle (but stern shot of encouragement for me.  Here’s a quote from my favorite section:

Many young women I have known who started out their journey in marriage and motherhood strong, are in the midst of justifying bad decisions to quit their ideals based on the voices of other friends who are also compromising. And their friends are encouraging them to compromise and convincing them it will be ok. I see all sorts of ridiculous messages all over facebook, the internet and on blogs where people give each other all sorts of permission to give up their ideals. 

By the way, that article comes with a podcast.  Make sure you listen to the podcast too because there’s great advice on this topic in the podcast!

As I notice things about my children, one of the things I’ve been alarmed by recently is how often they are not able to entertain themselves without having the television or a video game going. Because of this, I found myself agreeing with every word of How Screens are Hurting Kids’ Imaginations. It is certainly a problem, and I’m working hard at ideas and ways to make my like, and my children’s lives, less dependent on the screens we all love.

Serious Bible study is not for the faint of heart.  It’s so much easier to read someone else’s interpretation of the Bible, but then we miss out on one of life’s biggest blessings.  A bit of encouragement comes from Sister, You Can Do Hard Things. Just because it’s hard, does not mean that it’s not the most important work that you can do.

That’s about it for this week. Hope you find these links encouraging! I know I haven’t really written this week on the blog.  I’ve been feeling very down, and that makes it difficult to write. Hope to be back to writing soon!