Lovely Weekend Reads 8/16/14

weekend reads

“[W]e moms are without excuse and should flee from entitlement and bitterness.

We’ve established these thoughts.

Been there.

Done that.

Roger, over and out.

Today, however, I humbly want to grab the ear of, well, basically everyone else.

The friend of a mom. The mom with bigger, more independent kids. The single. The newlywed. The grandmother. The widow. The married couple who haven’t had children. The aunt. The uncle. The neighbor.

I need to let you in on a little secret…

the mom in your life with young kids needs help.

Help a Mother Out Part 1: A Cry for Help.  A Call to Arms.

Help a Mother Out Part 2: The How To

-Mrs. Gore’s Diary

“This is what I want for my sons: freedom. Not just physical freedom, but intellectual and emotional freedom from the formulaic learning that prevails in our schools. I want for them the freedom to immerse themselves in the fields and forest that surround our home, to wander aimlessly or with purpose. I want for them the freedom to develop at whatever pace is etched into their DNA, not the pace dictated by an institution looking to meet the benchmarks that will in part determine its funding. I want them to be free to love learning for its own sake, the way that all children love learning for its own sake when it is not forced on them or attached to reward. I want them to remain free of social pressures to look, act, or think any way but that which feels most natural to them.

I want for them the freedom to be children. And no one can teach them how to do that.”

Unschooling: The Case for Setting Your Kids Into the Wild (Outside Magazine)

“Each year I waited for courtship to start working and for my homeschool friends to start getting married. It never happened. Most of them are still single. Some have grown bitter and jaded. Then couples who did get married through courtship started getting divorced. I’m talking the kind of couples who first kissed at their wedding were filing for divorce.

This was not the deal!

The deal was that if we put up with the rules and awkwardness of courtship now we could avoid the pain of divorce later.  The whole point of courtship was to have a happy marriage, not a high divorce rate.

So I humbled myself and took my grandmother out for dinner to hear why she thought courtship was a bad idea all those years ago. She had predicted the failure of courtship back in the 90s and I wanted to understand how and why.”

Why Courtship is Fundamentally Flawed (Thomas Umstettd)

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

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Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

linking with: Mondays… Marriage Motherhood and Missions, Mom’s the Word I Love to Hear, Mommy Moments, A Mama’s Story, Modest Mom, TuesdaysTitus 2sdays, Cornerstone Confessions, Hip Homeschool Moms Wednesdays…Whole Hearted Mom, Homemaking, Wise Woman, Thursdays…Graced Simplicity, I Choose Joy, Thriving Thursday, Hope in Every Season, Jenni Mullinix, The Deliberate Mom

The Frugal Pantry: Cabbage

frugal pantry graphic

In season (winter) I sometimes find cabbage for as low as 28 cents/lb.  This can be the base for so many inexpensive meals and side dishes!  Here are 5 yummy ones.

cabbage cole slawCole Slaw

cabbage rollsVegetarian Cabbage Rolls

cabbage sauerkrautHomemade Sauerkraut (a fabulous source of probiotics!)

cabbage sausage 2Cabbage and Sausage Casserole

A final favorite is one my family was introduced to years ago…cooked macaroni noodles (I think rice noodles would be nice) and sauteed cabbage nicely seasoned and mixed together in a casserole, topped with a generous portion of cheese and heated together.  It was served with homemade cheese stuffed rolls and I still count it as one of the yummiest cheap meals I have ever eaten!

For the rest of the Frugal Pantry series, click here.

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

linking with: Mondays… Marriage Motherhood and Missions, Mom’s the Word I Love to Hear, Mommy Moments, A Mama’s Story, Modest Mom, TuesdaysTitus 2sdays, Cornerstone Confessions, Hip Homeschool Moms Wednesdays…Whole Hearted Mom, Homemaking, Wise Woman, Thursdays…Graced Simplicity, I Choose Joy, Thriving Thursday, Hope in Every Season, Jenni Mullinix, The Deliberate Mom

 

 

Learning to Simply Be (in Nature) Pt. 2: The Practice of Personal Quiet

be in nature graphic

Recently I wrote about how we and our children have lost the ability to simply be in nature, to the degree that we have no point of reference for it any more.

Many of us can’t even picture what it would be like for our kids to spend hours of unstructured time outside. We are puzzled by the idea that anyone would want to do this.

In Part 1, I discussed this phenomenon and a few things that our children have lost as a result of an inability to practice quiet being in nature.

But I believe that what we’ve lost goes much deeper than this, not just for our kids but also for we adults. And I think that it applies to all our time, not just time outdoors.

We live in a culture where busyness is a virtue and stillness, contemplation, and silence are to be abhorred. In fact, if you are not busy every waking moment and if you don’t fall into bed totally spent each night, you are often considered unambitious and lazy.

Certainly we want to be industrious, but I will be honest: most middle-class Americans are more likely to suffer from workaholism than its opposite.

We’ve lost the ability to meditate…not in the woo-woo Eastern sense, but simply to be with our thoughts and feelings and mull things over. We constantly distract ourselves with noise, busyness, and information.

I fear that we are losing creativity. Personally, I’m unable to be creative when I don’t have chunks of quiet time alone. When I do have that time, I find that the ideas come in such a deluge that I can hardly get them all written down.

We’ve lost the ability for introspection and self-examination. I am not one to promote navel-gazing for its own sake, but I do feel that it’s important to make self-assessment. Maybe one reason we have so many pompous people with an over-inflated view of themselves is because they have never had the chance to quietly, accurately self-assess.

As a Christian, I’m concerned that our inability to be still (in nature or otherwise) has hindered our ability to listen to the still small voice of the Holy Spirit. It’s hard to hear his whisper over music, TV, and sheer busyness.

While all of these quiet disciplines can take place indoors, my personal opinion is that they are enhanced when we practice them in creation. Our man-made worlds are so filled with distractions…even coffee time on the porch without phone or book or some fiddly object creates a little space between us and the racket that normally fills our days. It’s so worth it to set aside some undistracted time to just…be…

Do you agree or disagree? Is it hard for you to be still or quiet without distractions? If so, why do you think this is?

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

{this post contains affiliate links}

linking with: Mondays… Marriage Motherhood and Missions, Mom’s the Word I Love to Hear, Mommy Moments, A Mama’s Story, Modest Mom, TuesdaysTitus 2sdays, Cornerstone Confessions, Hip Homeschool Moms Wednesdays…The Thrifty Home, Whole Hearted Mom, Homemaking, Wise Woman, Thursdays…Graced Simplicity, I Choose Joy, Thriving Thursday, Hope in Every Season, Jenni Mullinix, The Deliberate Mom

Playing With Words and Saying Good-Bye to Ordo Amoris

mag poetry image

Thought I’m sometimes hesitant to recommend products I haven’t used for a long time, I’ve been at this gig long enough to typically recognize when it’s something that will be useful for the long(er) haul.

I’m not a fancy curriculum girl, I just want things that work, and that we enjoy.

This year I’m mostly using free but excellent curricula, and good rich read-alouds. However, I did order this set of Magnetic Poetry—a box of word magnets. I specifically got the larger pieces that would be easier to read and easier for younger kids to handle.

At first blush, it doesn’t seem that special—something like glorified alphabet magnets–but I knew immediately that my kids would love it. There’s something about playing with words that’s far more effective than drill drill drill.

(A side note: The Scrabble app projected my middle kids forward far more in their language skills far more than any workbook we purchased.)

We don’t unschool, but I love the term unschoolers use: strewing. Basically, when you simply leave interesting things laying around for your children to discover and find what sticks.

I put all the Magnetic Poetry on the fridge and waited for them to notice. Let me tell you, when they did, it was a feeding frenzy! And they’ve been enjoying them ever since. How fun is it to arrange and rearrange words to make silly sentences?

It’s fun for me too. There’s a new word arrangement every time I walk by.

Currently? “Monkey at home talks with jumping garden.”

I’m sure it will change before I hit publish.

On a totally different note, I almost cried when I read that Cindy Rollins is closing shop and deleting her blog, Ordo Amoris, at the end of the week.

If you aren’t familiar with Cindy’s writing, do go take a peek before it’s too late. Though Cindy and I haven’t met or even spoken, I consider her a wonderful mentor. Her thoughts about Morning Time truly revolutionized our homeschool. I featured here in a Cozy Homeschooling post here.

cozy homeschooling graphic

This is part of Cozy Homeschooling, an ongoing series.  For the rest of the Cozy Homeschooling posts, click here.

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

{this post contains affiliate links}

linking with: Mondays… Marriage Motherhood and Missions, Mom’s the Word I Love to Hear, Mommy Moments, A Mama’s Story, Modest Mom, TuesdaysTitus 2sdays, Cornerstone Confessions, Hip Homeschool Moms Wednesdays…The Thrifty Home, Whole Hearted Mom, Homemaking, Wise Woman, Thursdays…Graced Simplicity, I Choose Joy, Thriving Thursday, Hope in Every Season, Jenni Mullinix, The Deliberate Mom

The Frugal Pantry: Potatoes

frugal pantry graphic

This week I bought 15 pounds of potatoes for $5.47.  Potatoes are one of the most cost-effective ways to stretch your grocery budget.

Here are five delicious ways to fix them.

potato scalloped

Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes

Add a little ham or sausage to the recipe and make a green salad to accompany…you have a meal!

potato salad

Potato Salad

I normally leave out onions.  Potato salad makes a great, filling side dish.

potato sliced

Sliced Baked Potatoes

I make mine with just olive oil and spices, no cheese.  But either way is delish, and they are soooo pretty!

potato latkes

Potato Latkes/Pancakes

These are making my mouth water!  I may have to make them soon!

potato bar

Baked Potato Bar

Think about offbeat additions to your bar…avocado, chopped raw veggies, salsa, fresh herbs, leftover pot roast…So many options!

As you can see, one big bag of potatoes can go a long way and make a nice variety of dishes for very little money.

What’s your favorite way to cook potatoes?

For the rest of the Frugal Pantry series, click here

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

{this post contains affiliate links}

linking with: Mondays… Marriage Motherhood and Missions, Mom’s the Word I Love to Hear, Mommy Moments, A Mama’s Story, Modest Mom, TuesdaysTitus 2sdays, Cornerstone Confessions, Hip Homeschool Moms Wednesdays…The Thrifty Home, Whole Hearted Mom, Homemaking, Wise Woman, Thursdays…Graced Simplicity, I Choose Joy, Thriving Thursday, Hope in Every Season, Jenni Mullinix, The Deliberate Mom

 

Learning to Simply Be (in Nature), Part 1

be in nature graphic

I’ll preface this by saying: I’m no Chicken Little. I don’t sit around wailing that the sky is falling and we should all go back to the Good Ole Days. We’re born for such a time as this, and what an exciting time it is—so full of potential!

That said, I think there are some areas where we’d benefit from rolling back the clock.

I’m part of several Charlotte Mason education groups on Facebook and I’ve seen a recurring theme lately. Moms read about Charlotte’s recommendation that children spend many hours a day outside, and they wonder: What in the world do you do outside for all that time?

Some feel that the purpose of these many hours outside must be for nature study—which Charlotte certainly advocated.

Others wonder whether it’s wise to have children spend that much time outside in the summer when it’s so hot…And besides, how would you fill that much time?

I think we have lost something in our busy culture. We feel that we have to spend every moment, including outdoor time, doing.

We and our children have lost the ability to just be. To sit quietly or tromp through the woods or use our imaginations without a cell phone, internet access, electronic games, or even a book, conversation, job, or assignment.

We’ve lost the ability to be comfortable with silence, solitude, and stillness. We’ve lost the ability to simply observe.

We’ve lost this ability to the point that when it is suggested we have no point of reference for what it even looks like.

And we feel guilty if we don’t structure every moment of every day, even for kids.

I’m not saying that we are all like this, but it’s a trend I see. I believe that more families are like this than not.

I have gone through seasons of life when my kids and I rarely went outside, so I’m not throwing stones. I get it.

But I don’t believe it’s healthy, physically, spiritually, mentally, or emotionally.

I don’t have the book at my fingertips, but I greatly value Richard Louv’s Last Child in the Woods. Louv discusses experimental nature therapies (aka going outside) for modern ills like ADHD.

(Conversely, past generations that spent much time in nature didn’t have a concept of such maladies. Correlation or causation? I think future research will prove a link.)

He also states that most of the world’s great champions for creation care spent countless unstructured hours in the outdoors as children. Today, Animal Planet is the most in-depth experience many children get with nature.

Kids who have no “relationship” with nature won’t be deeply inspired to protect it. Or if they do, it will most likely be in a romantic, pie-in-the-sky sense, not a nuanced, realistic one that takes into account the interactions of ecosystems and their impact on man’s quality of life, as well as the places of men and animals in the natural order.

Confusion about what to do outside is a very recent phenomenon. If you think hard enough, you’ll probably remember that you yourself spent hours at a time outside during your childhood, even, and perhaps mostly, in the summer.

What did kids do before air conditioning? Elderly people say that it was too hot to stay in the house, so they were mostly outside. It’s important to use common sense. Certainly we don’t want to be outside when it’s dangerously hot. But perhaps there are still ways to work in hours a day of outdoor time, even in summer.

When I watch children who spend many hours in the outdoors, I notice that they soak in nature. They notice things that the rest of us often miss—tiny flowers scattered through the grass, the way the clouds swirl, a small bird as it flutters through the treetops.

Their senses are finely honed, and their sensory needs are met through the peaceful sights, sounds, and feelings of nature—mud between their toes, birdsong, sun and wind on their faces. Could it be that our children’s inability to simply be in nature’s playground underlies some of the sensory problems that are now so rampant?  I’m no expert, but I wonder.

I understand that we have reasons for why it’s hard to go outside or why we’re scared to let our children out the door. Some of these reasons are valid, and I don’t want to minimize them.

But it is worthwhile for us to meet the challenges and deliberately find ways for our kids to be outside for extended periods of time so that they can simply learn to be.

Do you agree or disagree? Have we lost the ability to quietly be, and if so, do you see this as a problem? Why or why not? Talk to me!

Check back for Part 2 next week!

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

{this post contains affiliate links}

linking with: Mondays… Marriage Motherhood and Missions, Mom’s the Word I Love to Hear, Mommy Moments, A Mama’s Story, Modest Mom, TuesdaysTitus 2sdays, Cornerstone Confessions, Hip Homeschool Moms Wednesdays…Whole Hearted Mom, Homemaking, Wise Woman, Thursdays…Graced Simplicity, I Choose Joy, Thriving Thursday, Hope in Every Season, Jenni Mullinix, The Deliberate Mom

Tuesday Poetry Tea Time: The Out-Doors Man by Edgar Guest

outdoors man graphic 2

We love Poetry Tea Time (or Hot Chocolate Time…or Lemonade Time…), popularized by Julie Bogart, a veteran homeschooling mom and owner of Brave Writer, a company that helps homeschooling families teach writing in an organic fashion. Here on the blog, I’m going to share a poem each Tuesday in honor of Tea Time. And for a while I’ll be using the poetry of my favorite poet, Edgar Guest. His work is a treasure that’s too precious not to share.

He must come back a better man,
Beneath the summer bronze and tan,
Who turns his back on city strife
To neighbor with the trees;
He must be stronger for the fight
And see with clearer eye the right,
Who fares beneath the open sky
And welcomes every breeze.

The man who loves all living things
Enough to go where Nature flings
Her glories everywhere about,
And dwell with them awhile,
Must be, when he comes back once more,
A little better than before,
A little surer of his faith
And readier to smile.

He never can be wholly bad
Who seeks the sunshine and is glad
To hear a songbird’s melody
Or wade a laughing stream;
Nor worse than when he went away
Will he return at close of day
Who’s chummed with happy birds and trees,
And taken time to dream.

 

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I’d like to invite you to like me on Facebook , or follow me on Twitter , Pinterest or Instagram.

I’ll be excited to see you there!

Stephanie Recommends:

Simplicity Parenting: Using the Extraordinary Power of Less to Raise Calmer, Happier, and More Secure Kids by Kim John Payne

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

{this post contains affiliate links}

linking with: Mondays… Marriage Motherhood and Missions, Mom’s the Word I Love to Hear, Mommy Moments, A Mama’s Story, Modest Mom, TuesdaysTitus 2sdays, Cornerstone Confessions, Hip Homeschool Moms Wednesdays…Whole Hearted Mom, Homemaking, Wise Woman, Thursdays…Graced Simplicity, I Choose Joy, Thriving Thursday, Hope in Every Season, Jenni Mullinix, The Deliberate Mom