The Lifegiving Home {A Tyndale House Review}

The life-giving home

I’ve been reading Sally Clarkson’s books for a while, and I’ve fallen in love with her idea of creating the kind of home that is a secure and loving place for my children to thrive as we live, learn and share the same spaces.  However, sometimes, in the day-to-day grind of life, I find that my idealistic vision of what I want our home to be like gets crushed.  So, it was with much interest that I received The Lifegiving Home: Creating a Place of Belonging and Becoming for review.

In The Lifegiving Home, Sally and Sarah Clarkson help give you ideas of how to create a home environment that is a loving, welcoming and restful place for your family members to belong.  The first four chapters of the book describe why family traditions and environments are important.  Then, after these chapters, there are chapters addressing each month of the year to help brainstorm themes and ideas that you might want to incorporate into your household, using the examples of how they celebrated, relaxed and created an rich environment for their family.

As someone who struggles with the idea of “measuring up,” there were times when I felt a little exhausted by this book.  There are just so many great ideas and great things to think about.  I found Sally’s wise advice in the third chapter to be a great idea.  She suggests just dipping into the ideas a month or a season at a time, trying on what works, abandoning what doesn’t and using your own creativity and your own family culture to create the home environment that will make your family feel at home.  As a part of following that advice, I’ve bought the companion book, so that I can go through the book a little more slowly the second time through and actually apply what is written to our home.

In the meantime, I reminded myself not to get overwhelmed, but to make changes in our home little by little.  It’s worth it to create the family environment that is right for our family.  As Sarah writes, “We must understand homemaking not as a retreat from the fallen world, not as a retrenchment from culture, but as a profound engagement with it.”  As we make our homes, we’re doing kingdom work, and this book is a great place to gain a foundation and to get ideas to build the traditions of our family culture.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review.

Virtual Refrigerator: Balloons TD5

For several days, every time I turned around Firecracker was drawing Monkeys from his game Balloons TD5.  It turned out that he was making upgrade charts for each kind of monkey.

Balloons TD5 Drawings

I thought it was clever.  I wanted to remember the time that Firecracker was so into this little iPad app that he spent time drawing each Monkey’s upgrades.  I also wanted to remember how detailed the drawings were.


It took days and days for him to eek out the time he wanted to take to draw them.


I was surprised by the five or six that he drew over the course of the week.


I can’t resist sharing them all in their simple pen and paper glory.


It got me to thinking.  What have your children decided to do recently that surprised you (in a good way)?  Is it a science experiment? A painting?
Do you have an art-related post or tutorial that you want to show off?  Why don’t you come pin it on the Virtual Refrigerator?  Every Thursday, I team with Every Bed of Roses, Homeschool Coffee Break, and This Day Has Great Potential to bring you a place for us to share each our children’s artwork and projects to admire and to inspire each other!

Just click on the frog button below to see the link-up and to link up your child’s art or your art and crafts themed tutorial.

Virtual Refrigerator Button

Breaking Busy {A BookLook Bloggers Review}

Breaking Busy

Last year was my year of burnout.  I was trying to do too much on the blog and at church, as well as homeschooling my four children, and feeling like I wasn’t doing enough and I wasn’t good enough because I wasn’t working outside the home or doing additional volunteer work.  So, I have started on a journey to simplify everywhere so that I can enjoy my life and so that I can be present in the lives of my husband and children.  I’ve read several exciting books on the journey, and Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace and Purpose in a World of Crazy is a delightful self-help book to help you manage your time, relationships, thoughts and traditions in a way that is life-giving.

This book starts by examining capacity.  Everything you say yes to means that you’re saying no to something else.  To me, our family’s choice to homeschool means that I have chosen to spend the majority of my time educating and discipling my children.  I’m very slowly learning to say no to the commitments that keep me from being the best steward of my primary responsibility.  Worthington teaches you as you go through the book the signs that you’ve overextended yourself, how to work out your life’s calling and how to edit out the things that aren’t a part of your goals.  As a person of faith, Worthington also reminds us that our goals are ultimately the goals that God gives us and that obeying His commands and plans for our lives is the most important thing we can do.

In the end, I found this to be a really quick read that is chock full of information on decision making, goals, calling time, and relationships.  I underlined many passages as I went through to write in my notebook to re-examine later and I gleaned a great deal of encouragement.  I also found several strategies that I want to reflect on further and apply to my life.

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

NIV God’s Justice Bible {A Booklook Bloggers Review}

God's Justice

I was intrigued by the idea of the NIV, God’s Justice Bible, Hardcover: The Flourishing of Creation and the Destruction of Evil.  After all, on the back cover description of the book, the editors remind us that “God’s justice–his plan for ‘setting things right’–is a foundational principle of the Bible.”  They then explain that what they’ve done with the Bible is to trace this theme of justice all the way from Genesis to Revelation to show that is a backbone of scripture.

Let’s begin this review by pointing out a few of the features of this Bible:

  • This Bible contains the complete NIV text of the Bible.  It is a translation I’m not personally fond of, but I didn’t agree to review this Bible on the basis of translation, so let’s move on.
  • There are book introductions to each book of the Bible.  These are written by a team of international writers, so a true global perspective is brought to the commentary on  the text.
  • Like most study Bibles, there are notes at the bottoms of each page to commentate on specific verses.  All these notes take a justice perspective on how the Bible relates to justice and to the injustice in the world that surrounds us.
  • There are questions for reflection and a prayer included at the end of each book of the Bible.
  • There are lovely woodcut tree images at the introduction to each book of the Bible, and edging decorations based on the section of the Bible that the book is in.

The printing of the text is a nice size and is single column in nature.  This makes for a very nicely defined differentiation between prose and poetry in the Bible.  I do hate that there’s very little space in the margins in the prose sections of the Bible.  If you like to take notes in your Bible, this isn’t the kind of Bible you’ll be able to do this with.

I also would have liked to see some special sidebars and articles addressing specific social justice issues and what the Bible has to say about them.  However, the notes that commentate on each verse do commentate about specific justice issues.  I just would have liked to have seen them all gathered together into articles are an index.

This is probably not the Bible that you’re going to want to use at your primary study Bible because all the notes and articles in the Bible are justice themed.  However, this is a nice addition to my library as I can check out these justice themed notes as I am studying and completing lesson preparation.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Homeschool Resources and Spending Report (January 2016)

This month is a great month for a fresh start.  After all the Christmas and New Year’s vacation time, we’re ready to get back to work and get started on some new projects.  Hubby was off the whole week after Christmas, so we didn’t do much of anything the whole last half of December.

January Spending

I had received some iffy news on some blood work numbers right before Christmas, so one of my first purchases for the new year was Leslie Sansone: Walk Away The Pounds: 30 Minute Walk.  I plan on forcing my children to do it with me because I think the daily cardio will be good for everyone.  I paid $2.99.

Rose takes guitar lessons, and this month she is learning “Blue Suede Shoes.”  This has awakened a lot of curiosity about Elvis, so I bought her a couple of resources.  They are:

  • Blue Suede Shoes (Remastered) for her Kindle so she can become more familiar with the song = $1.29
  • Who Was Elvis Presley? also on the Kindle so that she can read it if she likes or so I can read it to her because she’s become very curious about Elvis’s life = $5.99.

I offered to get Firecracker a new song he’s been wanting for his iPad if he won a spelling game we were playing.  He picked Jailhouse Rock (sticking with our Elvis theme) and it was $1.29 on iTunes.

When we finished Who Was Elvis Presley?, one of our recommendations was Who Is Dolly Parton?, and since she’s one of Rose’s heroes right now, I just had to buy the book for us to read together.  It was $4.99 on Kindle.

The moved on from Dolly Parton to reading Who Were the Beatles?  It was $5.99 on Kindle.

Who knew we were going to spend a big part of our month studying 20th century composers?  I certainly didn’t.

After Who Were The Beatles?, the children convinced me to buy Who Was Albert Einstein?.  I bought it for the Kindle, and it was $5.99.

We’re really on a tear with the Who Was series, so also  bought Who is Stan Lee? and Who Was Queen Elizabeth? for the Kindle.  Total on that was $11.98.

This brings my total for January to $34.52.

I told you I’d keep you updated on my semester costs, so Spring Semester spending to date (Dec.-Jan.) is $220.64.

January Resources

I’ve decided to devote a portion of this post (and will in upcoming ones as well) to listing some of the resources we’re using.  I figure that will be helpful to you and to me as well.

Independent Work

Owlet: CTC Math (Kindergarten), First Class Pre-K book, First Start Reading

Monkey:  CTC Math (K &1st), First Start Reading, and AWANA Hanglider Book.  Monkey needs a party.  He finished both CTC Math (Kindergarten) and book A of First Start Reading this month.

Rose: CTC Math (1st), Reading Kingdom (Level 2, books 8 & 9), Spelling You See Level B (Lessons 17-19), Matthew Lessons 16-18.  She also hit a milestone this month as she completed the first half of her Spelling You See level.

Firecracker: CTC Math (1st), Logic of English Essentials (Lessons 4 & 5), Matthew Lessons 16-18, The Fun Spanish Units 6 & 7.

Together Work

My Father’s Dragon, chapters 4-7

The Golden Goblet, chapters 1-2 (plus the work for those chapters from the study guide)

Veritas Press Self-Paced: Old Testament and Ancient Egypt lessons Lessons 135-152

We also read aloud all the books that I purchased except for Who Was Queen Elizabeth? but we’re starting off our February with it.

We also completed the December Scripture writing plan that was circulating so popularly, and we began reading Genesis as part of our read-aloud through the Bible.

There was also Tae Kwon Do, Guitar, and various other extra curricular type activities.

Your New Money Mindset {A LitFuse Publicity Group Review}

Your New Money Mindset

I have had difficulty managing my finances.  I always feel like, maybe if I had five dollars more or worked or something, our whole lives would be better.  Of course, that’s not true, and that wouldn’t be God’s plan for our family, but it doesn’t stop me from sometimes feeling that way.  So, when I received the opportunity to review Your New Money Mindset: Create a Healthy Relationship with Money, I felt like that would be a good help for me in working through my issues managing our finances.

The first thing that surprised me about this book is that this is not a book of practical financial advice.  Instead, authors Brad Hewitt and James Moline concede that you can know a bunch of facts and tips for budgeting and handling your money and still feel like you don’t have enough money to cover all your needs. They prove their point by showing examples from studies where even the richest people in the country feel like they would be happier and more secure if they had 25% more money.  In fact, one of the more compelling pieces of the book is a pie chart that they have in the second chapter of the book.  Throughout that chapter the authors explain that only 13% of the Christians surveyed that they were basing their data on were happy with the amount of money that they had and weren’t longing for more. I found that to be terribly convicting because of how often I could be happy with what we have, but in comparison with others, I find myself discontented and longing for things that others have or that I see in ads.

The rest of the book explains places where our attitudes need to change and where, if we focused less on ourselves and more on what we could do for others, we could find true contentment.  There are questions in the back for discussing this book in groups and there is an online assessment that you can take at their website to help you pinpoint the areas where you need some help in handling your relationship with money.

This wasn’t really the money book that I was looking for because I’m often just struggling and wondering how to pay the bills and buy groceries too! However, by reminding me that money and more stuff isn’t really the answer to my problems, this just may have been the money book that I needed.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This Week: Snow!!

This week was not a productive week.  First of all, it snowed.  I spent another day at the eye doctor’s office. The kids all also came down with a very yucky stomach virus.  All of that added up to a week where not much got done.

The best thing was the snow.  We only got about an inch, but the kids had so much fun and were so excited that we got any at all (some years we don’t get any snow).  It was lovely.


We’re still on a biography reading tear. We read three biographies this week, and the kids are really enjoying this series.  We’ve read five of them this month!


We continued our studies in ancient Egypt this week.  We studied the gods Sobek and Set.


The kids all worked on math, and three of them earned certificates.


Monkey finished the first of his First Start Reading books.  I’m very pleased at his progress.  We also copied verses each night, and Owlet through several cute pictures :-)


I had some extra time this week that I spent Bible journaling while we were watching Dr. Who.  I’m happy with the way some of my pictures turned out.

Bible Journaling

That’s it for this week!  Here’s hoping that next week is a little less sickly and a little more productive!!