A Tale of the Say’s Phoebe- Book Review



Recently, We received a copy of A Tale of the Say’s Phoebe by Rebekah Jones.  I thought this would be a very sweet story to have on hand and while I did think the drawings were amazing, I did have my doubts about the story.   I wondered if it would be a simple child-like story (example; See Jane run. See Dick and Jane run.)  but I wanted to give it a fair shot and I am so glad I did.

The children love the story.  It is told in simple language but engaging.  The story is about a Mommy Say’s Phoebe that tells her own chicks a story, a memory, of her childhood.

We are told that it is based off of a life experience the authoress had as a child.  This young lady authoress took a memory of her own and weaved a beautiful 28 page story, illustrated by her own sister Bethany Jones.

I gave it to my six year old daughter to read. She did need help but she was able to pick up a lot and read on her own. Now, would I normally hand this to a six year old? Again, depends on the child, but it worked well for our school room.

All in all, I am very glad to have made this purchase and I would recommend this to anyone.

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The Homeschool Journal

Learning to homeschool is not a simple procedure, can I just say?  Not only are you overwhelmed by what kind of information is out there, you also have an idea of what you should and need to do.  Everyone is doing things differently.  In order to get an idea of what you like, you pick from the buffet table.  But, even then, you can try something and not like what you taste.

I always knew I would want to homeschool my children.  Even the word ‘want’ is kind of hard to put into the right words.  I want to be surrounded by my children. I want to love being around my children. I want to watch my children discover new ideas and knowledge and watch them love learning.  I want to see all that.  So finding a way to teach it in such a way that they love learning but also realize that life isn’t always about having fun and yet still enjoying the life God has given them.   Above all, I wanted to be the one to teach them about the Lord we serve.

Can you see my delima? Everyone has their own idea of how to enjoy life.  For some it is this for others it is that.  Some people do not find the way we live fun.  So to search for a way to teach and live an abundant life, is STILL an ongoing journey.

I started out ignoring all advice that I was given.  Why do we do that?! Here we have a simple thing that would make our life easier and we just ignore it and have to find out the hard way.  Want to know the advice that was given? (seasoned teachers already know right?)  I tried to bring the public school into our home.  Instead of using homeschool in the way it was intended, I started out with lists, tests, and schedules.  Not bad in a whole but more so that we would do school a certain length of time.  Test all the time to make sure we were staying ahead.  Lists for all kind of curriculum, outings, facts, dates and just stuff. Pooh! It may work for some families but for us, there was no true learning in it.  It was soon forgotten as we tried to “learn” the step and keep up with the peers.  It was not the way I wanted to go.

Classical vs. Charlotte Mason.  It narrowed down to this.  I am still picking apart everyone’s brain. I think I can safely say that the common denominator between the two is reading. Read. Read. Read.

He that loves a book will never want a faithful friend, a wholesome counselor, a cheerful companion, an effectual comforter. By study, by reading, by thinking, one may innocently divert and pleasantly entertain himself, as in all weathers, as in all fortunes. 

– Barrow

Well, here I am.  I found this journal at Wally World. I love it.  Colors aren’t necessarily me. But it is my favorite verse.  I thought it also would make a wonderful journal to record my journey.  What I am researching.  What I have found to work.  What I picked and chose from the buffet table and why.  What books I have found to be useful and other pieces of books that I didn’t feel would work for us but would find something useful.

I hope to pass this down to my children. I hope they will find it useful and helpful but the main reason I am doing this is to teach myself and to (hopefully) see myself progress and learn right along with them.


RESOURCES I am using; (Affiliate links that help support this blog)

The Well Trained Mind by Jessie Wise and Susan Wise Bauer


Schoolproof by Mary Pride


A Charlotte Mason Education- by Catherine Levison

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The Homestead Barn Hop- Sodbuster Monday

barnhopimageI have been wanting to be a part of The Prairie Homestead’s Barn Hop for a few weeks now but just now finally getting the first post up.  Life. It happens.

Meet Mr. Scott and Kyle.  We love our chickens. LOVE them.  It’s gives my happy sodbuster heart good to see them pecking around and giving us that golden egg each day.  Yes, they are females and lay eggs although with their masculine names.  Children named them.  What can I say?

The garden is not going so well as I would have hoped.  I did plant tomatoes but we lost them all due to a hurricane named Benjamin.  The two-year-old muffin thought he would help find all the seeds and dumped our plants out.  Oh well. I do have garlic and it gave me an opportunity to buy plants and support a local business endeavor by a homeschooling family.

I did do a lot of scratch items though. I kept myself busy and included the children when I could.  I love these moments. I may be no Ma Ingalls but Rome wasn’t built over night either!

I made vegetable stock with all our vegetable trimmings that I saved, I made strawberry jam, and I learned to make my own hand soap by using a bar of soap, 1 gallon of water, and some glycerine (which we have had in the medicine cabinet for over 5 years. Time to use it up!)

TUTORIAL: How I made my own hand soap.
After searching around on pinterest. This one seemed the simplest and easiest to accomplish. Wonderful when you are mothering and teaching four children at home.

First I started getting all the water to boil.  My dutch oven pot was too small. Take note.

You need 30! cups of water.  Get it boiling. Do not pass go. Do not go onto the next step until this is going.

Next, grade your bar of soap. I used my bar of Yardley that I got for FREE with coupon sales on Black Friday.

Unfortunately after this point I couldn’t get any more pictures. But what you do is, once the water is boiling, you turn it off and let it get to hot instead of boiling.  Pour in your soap shavings and 3 TBSP of Glycerine.  Stir and stir and stir and stir.  Now, some people said to let it sit all night.  I couldn’t. I needed my soup pot.  So I poured them into my jars. They were pretty liquidy but they did get thicker just not as thick as soft soap. But they work well. We’re happy. I’m sticking to this.

So there is a snippet in our sodbustin’ day.


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A Glimpse of Beauty

“Give her the product of her hands and let her own works praise her in the gates.”
Proverbs 31:31

I remember reading A Kings Daughter in my high school days.  It’s a book full of short stories that reflect the desired character of a godly woman.  I don’t remember all the stories now in my old age…. But one has always stood out to me and probably has been my favorite and impacted me greatly as a homemaker and that was the story about the old woman in a run down house.   The story goes somewhat like this;
Young girl sees an older lonely woman in a run down dirty home.  She visits the older woman daily or as often as she can.  Soon she has to move away.  She is sad. She brings the older lonely woman a Violet plant to take care of since she is moving.  The woman sets the violet on the windowsill so taht the sunlight can help keep the plant healthy.  She watches the plant day after day realizing that this beautiful plant makes the rest of the home so filthy looking.  She decides to clean the windows to let in more sunshine and not make it to pitiful like she is.   Once the windows are clean she slowly page by page begins to perk up the home making it clean and inviting.  Months, or is it years? later the young girl comes back home for a visit and is amazed by the transformation of the “old dirty home”.  The picket fence is fixed up. The house is clean and maintained and the yard is full of blooming flowers instead of overgrown weeds.   The story shows how the old tired woman grows into a cheerful woman that keeps her home inviting.

Often we do the daily mundane things in life.  It can get extremely exhausting.  The good Lord knows I often begrudge my role as a woman and caretaker of my home.  What is the point in cleaning if its just going to get dirty?  Because we are setting a lifestyle and habit and even environment.   I don’t expect a Better Homes and Gardens home with four messy learning children.   I could work for that environment but I don’t think that we need to fall to the other extreme where our children have no life for fear of getting down and dirty.  On the other hand, I try to encourage an attitude that gets the whole family involved in a clean and healthy environment.  Its exhausting work.  It seems never ending.  Its becoming a lost art in the realm of families and I have to wonder if its not hurting us in the long run.

It is a good thing to have a clean tidy home, note that I did not use the word spotless.  I begin to see character traits being built into the children, qualities like; Responsibility, good stewardship, hard work ethics, gentleness and patience (mom needs a lot of this when working with absent minded children ;)) focusing on one thing at a time, etc etc etc.

I recently felt in a funk.  I was tired from being up all night with the baby and to make matters worse, my atmosphere was laziness, dirtiness and grumpiness.  The house needed the daily cleaning and I excused myself because I did not get adequate sleep the night before.  Now, this may have worked well if I had sat on the couch and read to the kids instead but what actually happened was I wasted the day on the computer.  I got even grumpier over this fact but did nothing to change it.  I didn’t get up and put the clean dishes away.  I didn’t go and make my bed. I didn’t sweep the floors.  Nothing.

I made the meals and rinsed the dishes and sat back down at my computer just scrolling. The endless time wasting scrolling.

So, when it was time to pick my daughter up from ballet I decided to make the best with the rest of my evening.   I went to the grocery store and bought $12 in the market fresh bouquet they have.  Yep. Frugal me spent $12 on flowers that will hopefully last a week.

I couldn’t help but think of that story I read as a highschool student about the lonely old woman that had a transformation over a small violet plant.   I needed a bit of cheerfulness in my home… so I went and bought $12 in flowers. A bit extravagant I know but they make me smile and I needed some smiles. With mama smiling, the kids are picking it up once again and there is joy to share all around. $12 extravagant in that perspective?

The house began our own transformation.  The children were called in and cheerfully told to pick up their toys and I set about to making a dinner.  Yes, I admit, I even tried to go through the drive thru of Del Taco but I knew I would not have enough time to get my food and to my daughter’s studio with the long line of cars wrapped around the place.  So a chicken salad it was with sauteed mushroom and collard greens… no the recipe was terrible but we managed to eat… most of it.   But you know what, I felt better seeing those bright cheerful flowers on my table.  The house needed to reflect those flowers.  The house is still messy even as I type this but it’s a different feeling.  It’s not a feeling of repetitive useless cleaning but one active household. A household that is not spending all their time in front of the TV or iphones or whatever gadgets are out there today.   We’re creating, building, playing, using, having a home cooked meal, getting a good nights rest, and much more.  It’s all about the attitude and if its the woman that makes the atmosphere of the home pleasant then we have a very important job ahead of us and need to make the best of it.

So now I have a visible reminder for me. The reminder not to have a a clean house but to have a clean attitude.

“She opens her mouth in wisdom and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.”  (Proverbs 31:26-27)


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I grabbed my wallet, took a brief second to listen to make sure baby girl was still sleeping as well as toddler boy.  The older two were playing outside and hubby was about to start bbqing.  The grocery store is only half a mile from our front porch so on the pretense that I need to go pick up a few items for this week’s menu, I kissed my husband goodbye and started off on a brisk walk.

I needed this time. I felt guilty.  I knew the older two would have loved to come with me but I needed silence. I needed to not hear;
“Mommy, what are we going to have for dinner?”
“Mommy, what is your favorite color?”
“Mommy, Emma doesn’t like me!”
“Mommy, Stephen won’t share…”

But as I walked the “Motherhood” distraction turned off, I turned on the homemaker mental list;
-Make Menu
-Write Grandma
-Finish Laundry
-Start laundy
-Call dentist
-mop floors (they really need it, Challice! yes, that mental notation is always present and irritating.)

So even this “breather” or “escape” as everyone wants to title it, never really is.  The job status never gets off duty.   We just go on “break” and I even laugh at that.  Is it really that relaxing to go to a store, surrounded by people, surrounded by different products, on a strict budget, obnoxious music, and the ever present realization that you have no kids with you and everyone you run into reminds you of this? Not for me.  If I didn’t feel guilty in the first place about running to the grocery store, and by run, I mean briskly walking so that you aren’t gone longer than 30 minutes-then I do now by the constant remarks about “getting out without the kids.”  It now becomes a question in my mind of, “should I have left them?”  So now, I am trying to finish up my 5 minute errand in 30 seconds.

I pass by some beautiful flowers.  My favorite, pansies.  I would love some pansies in the garden bed.  When do I have time to plant my flowers right now? It’s hard enough just trying to get some tomatoes planted! Did I mention too that there is a basket of laundry waiting to be folded from 2 days ago!  Then of course, my mind immediately goes to the mental to-do list that started my journey to the store in the first place.
-Fold laundry
-Make Ketchup before 12# of tomatoes goes bad.

The temptation to go back through the garden center halts me and I find another check out lane.  I wait for the proverbial question from a familiar checker.  We are a small town, everyone knows everyone.  Yep, there is comes, I can see the scouring eye
“Made it out without the kids huh?”
*cues drama music*
I start hyperventilation in my mind… “Get home.  How could you leave them? Are you not a good mom?” And all my focus is to get home as soon as possible.  Not to be the overbearing mom that cannot leave her kids alone for a minute but so that the kids don’t think their mom wants to see them or others think that I want to be away from my family.

The walk back is full of prayers and rambling thoughts and additions to that never ending to-do list.  I can start thinking rationally again once I am way from hundreds of eyeballs that I know never even noticed me (It’s called being an introvert).  I will have a calmer patient attitude when I get home.  My kids will be glad to see me and that makes me happy.   The laundry will still be there waiting as well as the long to do list.

I turn on my street and me feet begin to pick up past.  All hearts come home.  I come in the gate and four happy children are there to greet me.  The two babes woke up and were fine.  My daughter rushes up to hug me and tell me that the toddler boy has dumped out all the recently planted tomatoes.  One more thing I don’t have time to do.  Toddler boy proudly comes up with his old man walk and goofy grin and says
“Mommy, eat?”

This is my home and this is my life.  I did make it out without the kids but more importantly, I am home with the kids.  We all need a second to remember why we took on the “call to motherhood”.  Mine second just happened to be a little over 17 minutes walking time.

Posted in Thoughts/ponderings | 1 Comment

4 Weeks to a more organized home- sodbuster style

Well, there is something extremely humbling about adding your dirty kitchen photos to your blog.  Keeping it real folks. :S

Crystal Paine has been doing a series titled, 4 Weeks to a More Organized Home and each day has a challenge and a task to accomplish.  Assignment 2 was clean the counter tops and the fridge.  Thankfully, I had a bare fridge and had cleaned it out last week already.  But my counter tops! Oy vey! They are my catch all. I don’t keep them neat and tidy. :(

So here is my after photo, I am proud to show!

Those dishes are clean. ;)

The hardest thing about living in a 770 sq ft home with 5 other people, is the stuff that quickly accumilates and there is no space so its evident everywhere.  The colored pictures, the coupons, the mail, the notes, the spoon here and teething tablets… they add so quickly!

I had to ask myself, why I was doing this. I would HAVE to change my habits if I wanted the organized home to stay this way… otherwise, once the 4 weeks are up, I’ll be back to my bad habits.  Commitment is the key. 4 weeks gives you a good time frame to get into a routine, habit, etc. but if you are not committed to following through this way and just want a fresh start, you can quickly fall into the home you started out with.

Being commited for me meant that I had to get the family on board.  My husband is naturally a cleanie and is super good at it… except for the piles of paperwork everywhere. ;) But! “They are organized piles.”    I on the other hand like to take drastic approaches. Set fire to everything and start from scratch… but we are not the only ones living here.  The children need to learn responsibility and good stewardship… something that I think is lacking in today’s culture.

So, I got them involved.  I asked them what they wanted their bedroom to look like and then I had them go do it.  My daughter LOVES to organize.  My son, well, he’d much rather play fireman and Doctor Who.  Since firemen are neat and tidy, I had him play fireman bunkhouse as he cleaned the bedroom… kinda sorta worked. I didn’t really expect this to be an overnight day and night change for him.  My youngest son, once he gets in the mood to clean, he is terrific… unfortunately, my enthusiasm didn’t rub off this time.

But hey! we’re making changes for the better. This is a good thing.

Here are my 7 items I got rid of and the diaper bag and purse were cleaned out;

So, how do you tame the clutter in your home? Do you have a schedule/routine? Do you feel like your home is well managed?

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The Fight of our Lives- A Book Review

Book synopsis from Amazon;

Refocus on the fight.

Ten years ago, when radical Islamist terrorists used three U.S. airplanes to kill nearly three thousand of our countrymen, America was angry. It was a focused and justified anger—one that generated clear objectives and a willingness to meet them. But that resolve has deteriorated so much that many of our nation’s top political and military leaders will scarcely utter the word that brought us here, “terrorism,” let alone the ideology that fuels it, “radical Islam.”

In The Fight of Our Lives, William J. Bennett and Seth Leibsohn examine the devolution of America’s post-9/11 tenacity and how this country’s well-meaning culture of religious tolerance, coupled with soft and apologetic political leadership, has placed us squarely in the pocket of radical Islamists who have made clear their intention to obliterate everything we value.

America’s devotion to political correctness has crippled its ability to accurately interpret and respond to the motives of its fiercest enemies. Unless we change course and re-engage the fight, the costs of our tolerance will prove tragic and immeasurable.

The Fight of Our Lives helps readers refocus, to reframe and understand the threats we face.

By surveying and explaining the current scene, Bennett and Leibsohn point the way to a future in which our enemies are properly acknowledged and firmly opposed.

This is a difficult review to write simply because Islam is a complicated issue.  Sorting out the various “degrees” of Islam and their implications is itself no easy task.

In The Fight of Our Lives, Bennett’s and Leibsohn’s focus is on “radical Islam”, its effects on the world in general and the U. S. in particular, and the shift in the response of America’s political establishment to the threat of “radical Islam”.  Rather than taking seriously the manifestly significant threat of “radical Islam”, America’s political leadership has instead adopted a posture of tolerance that increases Islam’s advantage while at the same time increasing America’s peril.

I gave this book 3 stars.   My opinions are my own and I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my review.

The Fight of our Lives can be bought on Amazon or contact your local Christian Bookstore.

Review kindly provided by Hubby. :)

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