Friday, 31 January 2014

Parenting 101 {Be wise what you buys....}

Ok, poor grammar aside, I have a lesson.

My children learnt a lesson.

I learnt a lesson.

Whilst I was stomping around my house - endless square metre of it - vacuuming up (yes, with my dodgy, hold it weird, vacuum cleaner) BEADS.

I must confess, I thought of my beading friends. People like sweet Marsha, away far-away in Oklahoma. She makes beautiful things with beads.

My children, it seems, do NOT make beautiful things with beads.

Sorry, correction. I have, in the past, had lovely child-made necklaces, as gifts. Much love and care went into the production of these items.

Love and care, which it seems, does not apply to the beads at other points.

It transpires that some of my children had sat in a bunk bed and THROWN them on the floor.

Think seed beads, bigger wooden beads, bigger glass beads, plastic beads, shaped beads.  A veritable bead-fest.

All over the boys' bedroom floor, all over the girls' bedroom floor, on the landing in between, down the stairs, and even on the hall floor. It seems that beads can get anywhere. Everywhere.

Thing is, they have been in trouble before, for not caring for these beads.

I had said, in my frustration "If those beads get on the floor again, they are GONE".

Well, I didn't have to think twice before carrying through on that threat. No, siree.

Out came the vacuum, which I stomped upstairs with - lugging it behind me, with all the effort I could muster. I thought it would be the simplest way to deal with it - I figured picking them up by hand would be tedious.

Well, I vacuumed. It was  no easy task. Did you know beads will "ping" around if you hit them at the wrong angle? I should think it was a good thing no small children were nearby.  They could have lost a body part, VERY easily. Plus, did you know that in an empty Dyson, bazillions of beads rattling around make an EXTREMELY loud noise. Like, INSANELY loud. That was sending me round the twist, all on its own.  THEN, did you know that if you try and vacuum up things BIGGER, or EQUAL to the size of the nozzle, they will get stuck? Funny, huh? I repeatedly had to bang the hose on the floor, when thousands of beads would come flooding out, along with the offending over-sized bead. It was kind of pretty, had I been in the frame of mind to appreciate it.  I am not convinced, the other side of this experience, that vacuuming is the quickest way to sort it all out. I had started, so I finished.

The good thing about a time-consuming operation like that, is, you get plenty of time to think.

What was I so mad about?

(Trust me, I was fuming.)

Was the whole thing not of my own making???

*I* bought the beads.

*I* did not train them properly to take care of them.

*I* did not train the owner to keep them WELL out of the way.

Yes, the children had been naughty. The offenders KNEW they shouldn't throw things around, and they should look after things that don't even belong to them.

However, I realised that I could have avoided some of it.

I have decided some things, and I shall share them for the possible benefit of others.

I will not buy things, at this period of our lives, that will cause inordinate amounts of mess, which will make life harder. If, and I say IF, my daughters express a burning desire to enter the world of jewellery making, when they are OLD ENOUGH to be responsible, then the can do so.

Now? No.

Maybe other families are far better at containing mess. We are not. So, the potential mess shall not enter herein. I will carefully assess any potential item to enter our home, and decide whether it will be more hassle than it's worth.

I think a huge stress reliever is AVOIDING mess in the first place. I have equally got rid of other toys, in the past, with lots of "bits". I now restrict such toys to Playmobil and Lego. All else has been eradicated form this domicile.

I would love my girls to pursue crafty interests, but not now. Not until the littles are bigger and the bigger are bigger, too.

The crazy thing about the beads? *I* bought them. We weren't even given them as an "I wish you hadn't bought my child that" gift. Those are awkward enough. I put this own misery in my own future.


Lesson learnt.

It *WOULD* have to be within the same short space of time that I had to wrestle with the havoc wreaked by polystyrene. (Did you know THAT could stick to walls, chairs, tables, floors, books, clothes, hair?... EVERYTHING, I reckon....)

Another discovery? Doing mundane work is a great time to assess your life, and to make wise decisions.   Maybe I should be doing more mundane work?....

Well, I certainly won't be going out looking for it, but the lesson is that every onerous occasion can lead to something good.

Therein endeth my rant.

The End.

(Oh, hang on - other than to say that I successfully burnt some carrots in a saucepan, whilst typing this post.... *sigh again*)

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

For those who think I have it all together {I so haven't}

I had such a lovely couple of days. A restful Lord's Day...

Hang on.

Let me just stop there.

I forgot.  Things DIDN'T all go smoothly the last few days.  So, I thought I would share with you, just so those people, who think I seem to be a super-woman who has more time on her hands than the rest of the world, and who never has bad days, to see life ain't like that.

Sunday morning, the children slept in. Breakfast was late. Clear up was late. They didn't get ready soon enough, and we flew into Church during the opening hymn. LATE.

I hate late.

Then, Simeon had all the peas tipped over the floor, frozen peas, before I had the chance to put them away.

Just when I was trying to get the dinner out - mess.

Then, the missed ones got squashed on the floor.

Then, in the afternoon, I had the perfect opportunity for peace and quiet. Only the youngest 4 were at home with me, the rest at the nursing home service. Abi was lying on the floor, and Simeon was randomly throwing toy animals over his shoulder. Next thing, Abi was hit in the nose by a lion (one of the biggest, chunkiest animals we have...). If only it was as simple as a bumped nose.... oohhhhhh no. It was a nose bleed. First ever I have had to deal with, as a "proper" nose bleed. Ten minutes, and lots of tissues later, it stopped.  Only to repeated when they were going to bed, and Susie bumped into her nose. I will spare you the manky details of it all. Suffice to say, I gagged at one point.

Monday.  My birthday.

I have told you about how blessed my day was.

I missed out the "keeping it real" part.

When I got angry at the children for leaving a mess after breakfast, which I came down to. How they didn't help each other nicely at lunch time, which made me cross, again. How I flipped at a child for feeding Tabitha CHOCOLATE. (Yes, still not best pleased about that...) How I got upset with people for not being enthusiastic about my dinner choices. How Tabitha then spent most of dinner time unhappy, which was not very relaxing.

Today, we had more "Moments".  Children not being ready for school starting, and still in pyjamas when they knew to get dressed. Me getting cross with a toddler who will NOT let me get anything done alone, and who I need to keep on my knee whilst juggling teaching a 5 year old phonics, and a 6 year old English.  My patience was VERY thin about that. Then, children who allowed the smallest children to get hold of polystyrene (an older child was irresponsible) and it got EV-ERY-WHERE. Did you know it could stick to walls? *I* had to vacuum it up, as the vacuum has a hole in the pipe, and only an adult can hold the hole shut whilst still using the hose. What a job.

Now, it's bedtime. They are NEARLY all asleep. I can still hear the toddler, who has taken it upon himself to NOT go to sleep at night, and keep getting out of his cot. In the near future, a bed awaits him. 

I am tired.

VERY tired.

I am VERY thankful that God created children to need more sleep than adults, because it means I will now have the evening in peace.

I have an evening in peace because I don't have any meetings to go to. I don't even get to the prayer meeting, as we don't bring the children to the prayer meeting, and being the Pastor's wife, it means I don't go either. I get to sit down because I have 8 children, at least 50% of which help me do little jobs through the day, that many other Mums need to then get done AFTER the children go to bed. I have the joy of them being done already. 

My life is no bed of roses. I could tell you more, but I don't want to criticise my family.  I have  my fair share of stressy moments, and some of them are set to continue for the foreseeable future. Some I have been through before.  Some are new to me. ALL I know will pass. 

Maybe my life seems easier than yours.  Maybe you wonder how I get to have time to sit down at all, when you line my life up to yours. 

The thing is, we all have a different set of circumstances. We all have different highs and lows. We all have different husbands with different expectations. We all have different expectations of our children, of ourselves. We all have different commitments.  

We need to make sure we are doing our best in the situation that God has called us to.  To try not to compare our life to others.

We need to remember that bad days happen, and they will likely recur.  

We need to remember that God's grace is sufficient.

I am glad my children are in bed.

I am glad I can now relax and crochet. 

I am glad that in the midst of the chaos of the last few days (did I forget to mention the catching up on all the housework not done Sunday and Monday??.... MAMMOTH-ness), that I am still blessed. That God is still good. That in the middle of the crazy I can find calm and learn valuable lessons in my walk with the Lord. That He shows me how I need to grow.  To lean on Him.  To seek forgiveness. To show grace, and receive it. 

I don't have it all together. But, praise the Lord, despite my shortcomings, God keeps it all together. 

Now, let me go and sort out the toddler who is not going to sleep.


Monday, 27 January 2014

Birthday Blessings {God is good}

It's my birthday today.

36 years old.

Wow. That's getting nearer 40....

That  aside, today I am feeling very blessed. I have had a whole week filled with various blessings from others for my birthday.  People visiting, meals out, gifts, flowers, cards, shopping with my sister and my Mum, yarn shopping with a friend.  So many happy times, so many happy memories.

My niece, to my sister, when we were out, "I wish Susie was my Mummy's daughter, because I love her".


I was blessed by my wonderful family today - a lie in, breakfast in bed, then all the children crammed on the bed, whilst I opened my presents. So many lovely things, including lots of crochet loveliness! Out for a shopping trip with the family, then dinner out.  No cooking! Happy days!

Amongst my lovely gifts, I got two very precious plaques from my wonderful husband.

This one is a reflection of the fact that he knows how manic my days can be, but a gentle reminder that I need to stay calm - that I need to keep my focus on the Lord, who alone is the giver of true peace.  I love that Robert can tell me something I need to hear. 

This one brought tears to my eyes. How unworthy I feel, to merit his love at all - how often I am not the wife I should be, or the mother I ought to be. So imperfect, and full of faults in many, many ways. Yet, he still loves me SO much. 

I got lots of other wonderful goodies, too.  Lots to be thankful for. (Including chocolate...)

However, the thing that overwhelms me, above all else, is God's goodness. I am so incredibly blessed, in many, many ways.

I bought myself a wall hanging on Friday.  Let me show you...

This is my desire.  That God would bless this house. And, He DOES. Daily. Hourly. Moment by moment.

I have so much for which I am thankful. The knowledge that God is at the centre of it all, is what I am most thankful for.   Every good and perfect gift comes form above. GOD is good.

I want to share with you the verses that people put in my birthday cards. It's interesting, because several of them refer to God's blessing, and the others are about what God IS to me, which is a blessing. I trust that I am a blessing to my wonderful husband, who was the one who gave me the verse from Proverbs...   I trust they bless your heart, as they have mine.

 "How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! "
Psalm 139:17 

"The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it."
Proverbs 10:22

"Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah."
Psalm 68:19

"who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;"
Psalm 103:4  

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies."
Proverbs 31:10

"The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: 
The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:" 
Numbers 6:24-25 

 "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness"
I Chronicles 16:29

Psalm 68:19 really sums up how I feel. The Lord LOADS me with benefits, every day. He blesses me beyond measure. Not just in big ways, but in the little ways which can be so easily overlooked or forgotten. Smiles and giggles from children. Impromptu hugs. Funny little sayings. Loving and kind words from a husband. Friends. Family. Just having so many precious people in my life. That is a wonderful blessing. 

As I head to my bed, I have so many blessings that I am thankful for. A wonderful husband, precious children, special family and friends - all who love me more than I deserve. SO many gifts of kindness, given from generous hearts. I am thankful for all these people, but more, I am thankful to God, who is the ultimate giver.


Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Chatting with Patrice {from boots to dogs....}

Everyday Ruralty

SO lovely that you are "back" Patrice - I missed my chat with you last week and am glad you have got your computer back to rights! Thankfully, we are not as cold as you, and still have had no snow yet this winter. I don't ever remember a "snowless" winter, but February has been known to be very snowy in the past, so only time will tell. 

  1. How many seed catalogues have arrived at you home?


Clothing catalogues enter and leave within the same day - I look them over, see if I need anything, and promptly chuck them.

Some gift catalogues enter and leave the same way - one craft one, too. 

Otherwise, catalogues enter not herein.

Certainly not seed ones.

2.  Will you be learning to do something new this year?

I seem to learn to do something new fairly regularly. I am often coming across things that I have no idea about, being a home-schooling mother. For example, I am learning how to diagram a sentence and identify simple predicates. Considering my British status, and the "native-ness" of the English language to me, grammar was NOT taught properly as I grew up. 

Do I PLAN to learn something new this year??

YES! I want to get better with my crochet.  Learn new stitches - how to follow patterns - how to make more complex items - how to "block". I am really enjoying my new-found hobby.  However, I firstly need to learn to put it down and go to bed at a reasonable hour, so my mind is fresh to learn the grammar thing with my children. 5 of them at once - all asking about grammar. Yikes. Yes, it happens. 

3.  How many pair of boot do you own?(This can include casual, dressy, hiking, farm, riding, snow, or any other kind of boot.)


Black, leather ones, and spotty welly boots.

Hiking?? What's that?? Is that what I do when I go up the stairs with my arms full of everything under the sun?? Should I have boots for that??  

4.  Valentine's Day is just around the corner. There are decorations in the stores. Do you have anything planned for Valentine's Day?

I'm sorry, WHAT day? 

Decorations??? I think you are not living in the UK, perchance. Decorate for Valentines?? Nope.

We don't "do" anything. We try and celebrate our love every day of the year....


Or, something like that.

5.  Please tell me your favourite breeds of dogs. If you don't like dogs, tell me something about a favourite animal. (Please. :)

We don't have any pets, but if we did, I have always loved Springer Spaniels.

(Ours was very like this dog.)

 I grew up with one, as did my hubby. They are lovable, and a bit dipsy. Just like me.


Can you tell I have been staying up too late crocheting, and am a bit loo-la today??

I also love Old English Sheepdogs. Big bundles of fluffy loveliness, but I shudder to think how much effort their coats would take to keep nice.


Right, off to do geography with my kiddos, and then, perhaps, some crochet later.....

Look forward to chatting again soon.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Tapestry of Grace Tuesday {book review - God's Names}

I would love to share with you, every now and again, about the lovely books that we come across within our curriculum. They are simply too wonderful not to share! I will pick out different ones, and also explain which area they relate to in the curriculum, as there are several different categories and levels involved. However, you don't need to use Tapestry of Grace in order to use these books.  I CAN tell you, though, that it is jam full of lovely titles. If you want to see the full book list for yourself,  you can go to the Bookshelf Central site, and search according to year group, unit, learning level and topic. You won't find specific details about which weeks they are actually used, but you can certainly see which books are used in a general sense.

Today, I will begin with one that is suggested as a read-aloud, for the lower 3 levels. When this book arrived, and I had a flick through, I was instantly excited about what I saw.

It's called "God's Names", by Sally Michael. It is published by P&R Publishing and endorsed by Children Desiring God.  Recommendations come from John Piper, to Tim Challies.

This beautifully illustrated book begins by encouraging the child to think about the significance of name. Why and how it is given to a child, and the different types of names you can have. It then goes on to explain that God is given hundreds of special names in the scriptures, to reflect the many facets of His person. This book covers 24 of these, as well as a chapter about how the child can know God personally, in salvation.

It covers many aspects of who God is and what He does for His children. Each name weaves in a Bible story which applies the attribute involved in the name. Many Bible stories are used to illustrate these truths, in a way that a child can relate to them. The language is simple, yet engaging.

Each story concludes with a scripture passage you can read to emphasise the truth, and also questions to make the child think more deeply, and are perfect as a springboard to further discussion. Sally Michael, who wrote the book, has also given suggestions for activities to reinforce the truth in the heart and mind of the child.

Today, we read the introductory chapter, which covered the theme of names. The activity was for the child to write their name out, and what it means. They were also to ask if they were named for any special reason. It was a lovely opportunity to explain why we chose their names.

This book ticks all the boxes for me. Excellent content. Engaging for the child. Beautifully illustrated. Spiritual application. What more could you ask for in a book?

It potentially has many uses, really. It could be used every Lord's Day, as a read aloud and Bible study tool. It would see you through half of the year, used like that. It could be used as a Unit Study, where you could dig deeper into the Bible stories used for each name, and learn about various aspects of life surrounding the characters in the lessons. For example, one story relates to Gideon - you could learn about torches, light, how animals drink, pottery, and many other things. You could turn each name into an element of a lapbook. There are many free lapbook templates available online, and you could even try and choose shapes that somehow relate to the story. You could write a mini-book on the names of God, giving a brief description of each name, and maybe thinking of other Bible stories that could relate to the name you are writing about. The possibilities are endless!

Above all else, it's simply a lovely book to share with your children, and to encourage them in the ways of God, and learning from His Word. If you want a quality book to add to your shelves, get this one.

As it says on the back cover,

"God has left his names with his people so they can know him...and through these pages your children can know him too".

(Whenever I write a book review, I will add the name of the book to my Children's Books page on the blog. You will find the tab for that at the top of the blog. It will link back to the post where I reviewed the book. I hope these reviews will be useful, and I will try and cover a wide variety of subjects and book types - from reference to fiction - Bible-based and secular.)

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Crochet Creations {VERY easy scarf....}

I wanted to make something for a relative of mine, for Christmas, I plunked with some chunky yarn that I liked, from John Lewis. I thought it came with a pattern, but it was a KNITTING pattern.

So, google was utilised, and I found a chunky scarf pattern - an easy one.

Basically, it is constructed with only chain stitch and slip stitch.


THAT simple.

Not the best piccie, but this is me "modelling" it! 

I didn't time how long it took, but it couldn't have been long.

'Twould have been less, had I not got to the end and realised I made an error half way along, making half the scarf skinnier than the rest.


The joys of crochet - ripping out and redoing.

So, here is the pattern. If you want to try something simple, to begin crochet, this may be the thing for you. Don't forget that for a thicker yarn, you need a bigger hook. I used a 10mm.

If you need some basic instructions for all the crochet stitches, have a look here. I will add this link to my crochet page, as well as one to translate between UK and US terms.

Give it a go!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Tapestry of Grace Tuesday {flexibility and glossaries}

I am going to be writing posts, some weeks, that relate more specifically to Tapestry of Grace. There is a MASSIVE number of people out there who use this curriculum, and it's always helpful to share ideas and thoughts about how you use a curriculum.

I will try and also incorporate a general principle that may help others - whether in school, or in life generally. So, please don't skip over these posts, just because they don't seem to be relevant! You may be pleasantly surprised that it may help you in some way!

Today, I want to add an element to my workbooks. Unfortunately, I will not, at this time, be ACTUALLY adding it. I neglected to think about it BEFORE putting the workbooks together, sadly.  Instead, I plan on keeping these pages neatly in a file, and will add them to the back of the workbook after it's completed. Then, I can add it in, in the correct weeks, for the next unit.

So, what did I miss??

Well, it relates to something I did not even know about until last year, when we did Year 4.

It's the printable glossaries - of the "people" covered, and the "vocabulary" covered. You will find these lists in the "weekly overview" pages of your weekplan.

You can see above, there are "people" listed for Upper Grammar to Rhetoric, and the "vocabulary" is only for the Grammar levels.

In previous years, I didn't really do much with this part of the curriculum. We maybe had a quick look, and discussed them. Ok, so that IS doing something, but nothing on paper.  When I was told about the GLOSSARIES, however, a whole new concept was opened up.  These basically become a handy reference booklet about the vocabulary related to your weekplan, and about the people you are studying. It's a simple reference, but handy, nonetheless. 

I bound them just like my workbooks.  These are now ready to be used through the whole of Year 1. 

The people glossary is different to the vocabulary glossary. This is simply one whole glossary, with all the people for the year listed alphabetically. There is no division for weeks. 

However, the vocabulary glossary is divided both by weeks, and by learning level - lower and upper grammar. Each section has the words listed alphabetically. 

I am sure there are numerous ways to use this resource, but here's how I decided to use it. 

For the grammar students, I asked them to pick some vocabulary words which interested them. Then, they had the choice of copying out, as a copywork exercise, the definition in the glossary, or they could write something they had learnt about those words from our reading that week. 

With my youngest TOG student, Susie, she chose "Nile River" as her subject. I sat with her, discussing what she had learnt. Then, I wrote the sentences she dictated to me, using her vocabulary words, which she then copied onto a notebooking page. 

Then, Daniel chose to copy the section about "hippopotami".

Beth chose the subject of the creatures found in Egypt, and wrote a sentence about each.  You can see her page below.

If you look at the list in the week plan page, you will see she chose one of the lower grammar words, which are also suggested to be looked at by upper grammar students.  However, in the glossary, more words are covered,which you would expect to find in that week's studies. I let them choose their words from the glossary, rather than only from the list in the week plan. . 

As there were no "people" in the Week 1 section, Josh did not have to work on that.  It's quite possible that he may not do that as a separate subject, in notebooking format, as his people may be covered elsewhere in his work load. However, we may choose to do one person a week as a "highlight" person. It would certainly be a good way for anyone to study characters through history - do a notebooking page on one person per period of history covered. It could even be a way of doing all your history studies - notebooking about characters in each historical era, and then as an offshoot you could study the way of life and current events surrounding that character.

You will see in the first picture, the older levels are to do a time line, instead of vocabulary. We will be starting that this week, having not done so in the first cycle, as the children were all younger. I plan to work on it with my oldest, Josh, and get him to present it  to the others so we can discuss the characters in that week. I will write a post about the Timeline next week. 

I think a valuable lesson, learnt by me, and equally valid for anyone, is this. Don't stress if you find you have to make changes in how you home school.  Indeed, don't stress if you have to make changes in life, at all! Sometimes things come up that we don't expect, which require tweaking, or adding in of extra activities. I forgot about the glossaries, and so didn't add in any pages in my workbook to use for that. IT DOESN'T MATTER!! I can add them in, as one section, once we have finished unit 1. IT will be easier that way, than taking apart the whole workbook, and slotting the sheets in the right place. I am pretty likely to do damage to it, in the process!! So, they can wait to be added in. I now know I need to add them into the next workbook, and I plan to make a planning sheet for my workbooks, for this purpose - not to forget the next time! It's ok to make "mistakes", and better still, it's good to learn from them, and improve because of them. 

So, there you have it. Another element of our Tapestry of Grace work. 

Oh, for any TOG users who haven't discovered the glossaries (although, you are all probably far more sensible than I am, and found them looking through your curriculum thoroughly...), they are in The Loom. Which, of course you already know, right?

Monday, 13 January 2014

Getting along with others {looking for the good}

Robert has been preaching through the book oh Philippians, for the last few months. I have really been enjoying it, as is it is full of both doctrine and practical teaching.

He came to one of my favourite Bible chapters this last Sunday - chapter 4.

It is jam packed full of verses that mean something special to me. It also has some verses that I had not thought so deeply upon.

Such as verses 1-3.

"Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved.
I beseech Euodias, and beseech Syntyche, that they be of the same mind in the Lord.
And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life."

Now, confession is apparently good for the soul. So, here goes. I always thought Euodias and Syntyche were a husband and wife combo.


Apparently these are both women's names!

Who knew?

Probably everyone else in the world, and just not me.

What the apostle is alluding to here, are two women who were not seeing eye to eye. They were not getting along as they should be. How do I know? If they were being told to be of the same mind, then they were not OF the same mind to start with.  This implies division - maybe bickering - maybe unkindness. The usual things you expect from people who are not agreeing about something. `

Now, I don't think, for a moment, that Paul is suggesting that they needed to change their opinions about a particular subject, just so they thought the same thing. I think it's more about behaviour and attitudes. It's HOW they disagreed, perhaps.

It's certainly food for thought. Imagine, if you will, that you are in sitting in the Church in Philippi, and Paul's letter is being read to you all. You have all been loving the words he has written - a word from the Lord on many subjects. All building you up in your faith. Including quite a few general references to being of one mind.

They come to near the end, and suddenly these two ladies are named and shamed.


Mind you, more often than not, in a Church, if two people are not getting along everyone knows about it anyway.

But to be publicly reprimanded by the apostle, and ultimately by the Lord himself, who inspired the writer, must have been quite a humbling experience.

However, look how it is written. It's in a "positive sandwich". You know, where you say something good, then the negative thing, then something good again? Sandwiching the not-so-good in the middle of the oh-so-pleasant. It's a well known technique used in many fields, but don'tcha know, it was in the Bible first!

Look at Paul's wonderful words in verse 1. He speaks in such endearing terms to the people in Philippi.


"dearly beloved"

"Longed for"



What a lovely way to address them! Such love and joy in those words - such a bond in the spirit. Precious indeed.

Then, he tells these two ladies about getting along. They receive their public dressing-down.

Then, Paul carries on in a positive vein. He points out that these women had laboured with him in the gospel - perhaps in witnessing to the lost, or with something practical in the Church. We don't need to know. We just know that they HAD been doing something good and right. Paul then tells the rest of the Church to help them. Whether that is practically, or in a spiritual sense, to help them be of the same mind, I don't know for sure. There are certainly many ways we CAN help each other.

These practical few verses got me thinking about our lives, as Christian women. It's ever so easy to fall out with others over so very little. Our friends, those in the Church, and even our family. When we don't see eye to eye (read "when others are wrong and we are right", because let's face it, that's often how we view it), we can become negative and sometimes even unkind. I think that having a bad attitude over a difference of opinion could definitely be classed as NOT being "of the same mind".

Where it is even easier to fall out - is - yup, on the internet. It's really hard to convey HOW you say something, and it's very easy to be misconstrued, or to misunderstand how and what someone else is saying.

So, how do we make sure we are "of the same mind"?

I think that the answer is "Love" and "grace". If we extend love and grace toward others, even  when we disagree with them, then we are not going to fall out. It's the old "agreeing to disagree", but making sure we do it in a loving and gracious way.

As much as Euodias and Syntyche were women, it IS also important in our marriages. We need to have our heart and mind in the same place, and make sure we are getting along, even if we have a difference of opinion. If we are "of the same mind" - showing love and grace - we will not have massive ding dongs when we disagree. We will, instead, respect each other enough, sprinkled with love and grace, to not fall out. It's the whole "but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves" concept. Other's opinions. Other's feelings. Other's hearts. Make sure that we seek not to destroy others, over an opinion or point of view, and nowhere more importantly than our marriages.

Paul, in verse 3, sets a good example of what we CAN do. We need to look for the good. Our sinful hearts incline towards to the opposite. It's oh-so-easy to find the faults in others. Instead, we need to find, and encourage, the good. Paul commends them for their labours in the gospel, and tells the rest of the Church to encourage them likewise.

Are there fellow believers in your life that you're struggling to get along with? Get your mind in the right place. Seek to have unity - "in the bond of peace". Plus, find something good about them. It may require a bit of hunting, but every believer SHOULD have something good about them, because the Spirit is at work in their lives.  Find that good thing, and not only be thankful for it, thank THEM for it, and encourage them in it. Don't dwell on what divides - find something to unite.

Whether it's your husband, your family, your work colleagues or people in your Church. Love them like "brethren" - and find the good, telling them how much you appreciate them. That will soon chase away any thoughts of disunity, and establish a "one-mind" behaviour.

Right, off to praise some good around here.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Fun with crochet {start of a regular post and link up}

In the last year or so, I have started to learn how to crochet. To begin with, I only made the odd little thing - hearts, snowflakes, stars. I had never made a proper "project".

This last year, it all changed.

I shared with  you about my first proper project - a baby blanket for my friend's baby - little Joash.

Doesn't he look cute?! I loved how this blanket turned out,and you can see more pictures of it in the original post about it. 

It totally inspired me to try more creations. Days after Tabitha was born, I began on a blanket for her. It's coming on, but I hooked up a few things as Christmas gifts, so it keeps getting put on hold!

I decided to do one big, enormous Granny Square. For those of you who do not know, a Granny Square is a basic square, which you join together to make a blanket. In fact, whatever else you can think of using squares!  It's very simple to make, and there are 100's of variations that you can create. The basic one is what I used for my rainbow blanket. 

On the way through, I decided to add in some variation. So, I added some rows of trebles, rather than the clusters of 3. Only trouble is, being an amateur, I have ended up with a wavy blanket! I think I managed to increase on those rows, by doing too many stitches in the corners? It's still perfectly "usable", I am sure - unique. Let's just call it unique. Sounds more intentional...

Here it is so far, but I still want to make it bigger. I hope to work on it today, and see how it goes. I MAY get it finished! 

I am thinking of attempting a bobble edging

(picture from the website above)

I may also add crocheted flowers in some of the corners, over the top of the blanket. We'll see how it evolves.

Last night, I also had some fun trying out some new squares - new to me, that is.  I just rummaged about in my yarn stash, and used some rather random, bright colours, to try the squares out. I am not entirely sure I would put these colours anywhere in my home - maybe a child's bedroom, where it wouldn't matter? I like them, in theory, but in practice they match NOTHING in my house! 

This one is called a "Sunshine Granny Square", for obvious reasons!!! It was very easy, and I love it! I would happily make a whole blanket in this design... just not these colours. You can find the pattern here.  

This one, I had seen popping up a lot in some online crochet groups that I am on. I loved it, too, so was determined to try and make one. Of course, this is not a "square"!! It's a hexagon. (There, maths lesson for the day - you now no longer need to do anything maths related, by permission of me...)

It's called an "African Flower Hexagon".  Isn't it lovely? It looks even better with a cotton yarn - they are more expensive, so I have less of that in my stash!  I was wondering what I could do with them, and was reminded that there is a GORGEOUS creation with shapes like this. I am now determined to make one, at some point. 


It's definitely on my  hooky creations "to do" list!  I need to master "join as you go" technique, which joins blocks as you go, rather than afterwards. 

Who WOULDN'T love a Happy-potamus

There we have it. A little round up of how I have been spending some of my time in the evenings. It's a really relaxing hobby, with such quick and easy results to show for your efforts. If you have never tried, you should give it a go! 

I plan on regularly sharing my crochet creations and projects with you, even if it's just what I have found on Pinterest, or ideas from elsewhere. 

Also, check out my new "page" at the top of the blog. I am doing a whole compilation of pattern links and helpful hints and tips about crochet. I will update it regularly, and add patterns. I will particularly add them if I have done them myself, to give you a first-hand opinion about them. 

Friday, 10 January 2014

Beautiful? {having the Lord's beauty}

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us"
Psalm 90:17

Last Lord's Day, being the first Sunday of the new year, my hubby brought a "motto text" as his morning sermon. In fact, this year it was several verses from Psalm 90. This is the brief outline of his sermon.

"So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom."
 - Lord, teach me

"Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants."
- Lord, visit us

"O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days." 
- Lord, satisfy me

"Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil."
 - Lord, gladden us

"Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children."
 - Lord, work among us

"And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it." 
- Lord, come upon us and prosper us

 The last verse was one that struck me.

As women, we are constantly bombarded with the world's view of what beauty is.

They try and sell us beauty products. It's said that the beauty industry, JUST IN THE UK, is worth over £15 BILLION. That's a LOT of money.  All spent on trying to improve looks.  All based on the idea that we are not beautiful enough as we are , and we need to change or improve how we look.

Hours of time are spent by women, adding products to their body, and trying to change how they look.  All that time, just to make themselves look more beautiful.

The outside is not what matters.

Not in God's eyes.

" Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised."

Beauty is vain.

"for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart."

If it's the heart that God cares about, how should THAT look?

"But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price." 
- meek and quiet

"see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: " 
- loving

"Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. " 
- true, and with faith

"If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. " 
- self control in our speech

"For it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; "
- grace

"making melody in your heart to the Lord;"  
- joyful

"Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. " 
- giving and generous

"I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness"
 Isaiah 61:10

These are the things of beauty which we should be concerned with. The beauty of our heart. That's what we should be spending our time improving. Putting on that beauty that comes from the Lord - our love for Him, and the work of the Holy Spirit within us.

Many of these descriptions show us the concept of beauty that we would associate with image.

The meek and quiet spirit is described as an ornament.

The true heart that has faith is described as being sprinkled and washed.

Our joy should be melodious.

Our giving should be with a smile.

Above all else, we are clothed - clothed with salvation and righteousness. If we don't have that clothing, none of the other adornments will be of any importance to us. If we ARE clothed with salvation and righteousness, then these things will matter to us.

Every day, we need to put these things on - to dress ourselves in them. To have the beauty of the Lord shining from us. As Peter and John, in the book of Acts, people should see in our lives that we have "been with Jesus". That the Lord's beauty is there, because we spend time with the Lord - so that He shines forth from our hearts.  That His beauty is what people remember when they meet us - not what clothes we are wearing or any other adornment. Our attitude - our spirit - our behaviour. All reflecting the Lord's beauty.

If we would only spend as much time with our spiritual "image", as many spend on their outward appearance, then we would have a beautiful life, reflecting the Saviour.

This year, my desire is to reflect the beauty of the Lord in my life. I am far from beautiful. I so often tarnish my appearance with my fleshly, sinful behaviours. I bring shame, instead of shining.  I long to be more like the Lord, and I will endeavour to spend more time with Him, and exercising the fruit of the spirit, to adorn my life.

Will you join me?  Seeking the beauty of the Lord in our lives?

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Long time no chat {chatting with Patrice}

Everyday Ruralty
Patrice!!! It's been TOO long! I am guessing it's chilly there with you, so it's a chat by a warm stove, somewhere? Let's face it - the WHOLE of the USA is cold just now, pretty much. And the parts where it doesn't look cold, it actually IS for the places you are looking at. Florida. Coats. Yes! It's true! My friends in Florida are COLD!!
Here, it's just wet and windy. Yuck. With a capital "Y". I have to say, however, the sun is shining today. We are flooded between here and the Church, though. It turns a scant 5 minute trip, into closer to 15 minutes. It may not seem much, but it's a big deal around here! We live in a river valley, and there is a little bridge between the villages. However, if it rains hard, the road approaching the bridge ends up under water, so it's a "no go". They now block the road when it floods, as some prize pillock usually tries to get through the flood, and ends up having to be rescued by the Fire Brigade. 
Onto a nice chat, mincemeat flapjack in hand... 
  1. How much baking did you do before and after Christmas? Do you get more inspired to bake when the temps are cooler?
This was probably the least baking I have done in a LONG while, over a Christmas period. Part of the reason is answered by question number 2. Since realising I have issues with gluten, I bake FAR less. It's naughty, really. Me not baking so much, simply because *I* can't eat it! Part of it was also that I baked less during this pregnancy.  To start with I was feeling ill, then I had to rest, then I just got out of the way of baking regularly, then I had Tabitha. So, you see, mitigating circumstances reduced my baking anyway.

So, Christmas. I baked cookies, with my friend. Actually. That's not true. Leah did pretty much all of it herself. I helped decorate a few. Literally, a few. She also did most of that, too!
Other than that, I baked virtually nothing over Christmas. I made a chocolate torte for my family coming. I made some mincemeat flapjack, which I can eat. That was it!!

As we were at home for Christmas, on our own, I didn't even make any desserts. The children are not fussed with desserts, and I was hardly going to make them just for Robert, especially as he had just had some surgery and was not feeling tickety boo. On Christmas day, the children had "make your own ice-cream sundae" and LOVED it!

I have previously baked a LOT at Christmas - mince pies, chocolate yule logs, cookies and cakes.  It was nice, in a way, to have a rest from it all this year!

I must do more baking, once the Christmas gifts of chocolate and tins of biscuits have all run out. 

2.  Do you have any food intolerances or allergies?

Yes, indeed I have.

I realised at the end of last year, that I was having a lot of tummy troubles. It had got to the stage of wakening in the night, feeling sick. I felt grotty all the time. So, I did an eating programme called Whole30. It cuts out problematic food groups for 30 days, then you can reintroduce things and see what happens.  I felt brilliant when I cut them out! I realised, from doing it, that gluten was a MAJOR one, and dairy to a lesser extent. 

I now have virtually no gluten. (The odd thing, which I pay for later, but not as badly as I did having it all the time...) Also, very little dairy. Cream I avoid totally, and yoghurt. I have a very little grated cheese on my bolognaise and on chillli. It's not the same without. (Again, I pay for it later, but not in a huge way). Also, a little butter in some cooking. 

I miss cakes.

That's all I'm saying.  Or I may dissolve into a hysterical, weeping mess, at the memory of my loss....

3.  When was the last time you were in a restaurant?

Now, are we counting chain type restaurants, that dish out the same old same old? Or, are we talking fancy schmancy, where they change the menu regularly.

For the first, it was just before Christmas. I took the children to Pizza Express, using my Tesco vouchers! (Free dinner - who can complain?!?) I was especially thrilled, as I realised, before choosing to go, that they do gluten free options!! It was the first time I had pizza for a LONGGGGG time! Yum! 

Just a couple of weeks before I had Tabitha, we all went as a family, with some friends, to Frankie and Bennys. It's a family favourite to go there, and as it was Joshua's birthday, we went as a treat. Gammon steak and chips is my normal, but I shared a meat  platter with my friend, as a change. Yum yum!

Robert and I have been out to some lovely places in years gone by, but they are not the kind of place that is conducive to family dining. So, Pizza express, Frankie and Bennys and Toby Carvery it is, then! 

(Sorry, to my friend, Lydia, if you are reading this blog post - too many food references.... )

4.  What's your favourite accent(speech)?

Erm, am I allowed to say "Scottish"??? Being my own accent, and all??

I say that, because living in England I rarely hear a Scottish accent, so when I do, it makes me happy and makes me feel connected to my place of birth. I can hear a Scottish person speaking from a long way off - my ear picks it up very quickly, and connects to that person. Inevitably it becomes the topic of conversation. "You're a long way from home".... 

I do like hearing a someone speak English with a Spanish accent, or hearing someone speak in Spanish. It's very soothing, I think.

Also, hearing someone speak Chinese. I love the intonation - they way the sounds go up and down. My friend is from Singapore, and she has taught her youngest to be bi-lingual and speaks often to him in Chinese. I love hearing her do that!

5.  My favourite Bible Verse is "But my God shall supply all your needs, according to His riches in glory, by Christ Jesus". Phil 4 :19

It's a promise I cling to every day. It became my favourite verse when the Lord showed me that it is not just talking about your need for "things", but your physical, spiritual and emotional needs, too. These things are far more important than any "thing" you may need. God supplies all I need for every day. I may feel like I am missing something, but if I don't have it, God does not think I need it! If I need it, God supplies it, wonderfully and graciously. What a great God!

Don't forget to pop over to Patrice for a chat, and see what the others folks on the porch are saying, too! 

Monday, 6 January 2014

New Year, new project {making Tapestry of Grace student workbooks}

I have now been using my main curriculum, Tapestry of Grace, for 4 years.

Let's have a trumpet fanfare and a big cheer, for making it back to the first year again.

Yup! We're starting that cycle all over again, with my children 4 years older, and new ones joining in this time. THIS is the exciting time I have been looking forward to, when I hopefully hear my children say "Oh YES! I remember doing this before", and spouting some long-stored facts from the recesses of their minds!

She says. Hopefully...

It *IS* one of the wonderful facts about TOG. As it runs in a four year cycle, and you switch your child up through the levels of learning (lower grammar, upper grammar, dialectic and rhetoric - all classical approach), you could end up going through the 4 year cycle about 3 times in their schooling. Each time approaching the information in a more in-depth and applied way. Each time soaking in the information in a more long-lasting manner. Bravo, Tapestry of Grace, for designing it to be so!

This year we are adding in a couple of new approaches, which we haven't used as yet. I do feel it has taken me these first four years to become fully confident and able to implement some of the changes we are making. The first year was a bit of a flounder, being new to the whole concept of a curriculum where I had to do anything other than hand my children their workbooks, all purchased ready to use, and assign them page numbers every day. Thankfully, Tapestry is rather forgiving, and as it is designed to allow each family to make it fit their own schedule and requirements, I have gradually been able to add elements as I feel able.

This year I decided to tackle "paper mania" head on. You know, when you have umpteen pieces of paper floating around (obviously not literally, but on a bad day, it's possible...), and you have to constantly fight the battle of paper migration? Loose papers in the kitchen. Loose papers in the lounge.  Loose papers in the dining room. You get the idea.

As I had purchased my new toy tool, my comb binder, I feel it is good to use it as often as possible. I realised that pre-printing the pages I would need the children to use for TOG, and binding them in advance, would beat trying to file them away  as we go along after they had built up into a Mt Everest sized pile. (Let's be real, people....unless you are super-amazing-organised mother type, who files daily. Or is it just me who doesn't??....own up) If I have them in a work-book, it's neat, tidy, easy to grab for the child, and just plain simpler. No more printing every week through each Unit, just one mega-print once every few months. Additionally, since I feel highly thrilled and satisfied by the sight of freshly bound documents, it's a win-win idea! (Yes, weirdo home-schooling mother...)

This weekend, I DID IT!!! I finished them today, and they are sitting, just WAITING for school to start tomorrow. Full of promise and educational advancement.

I know that it may help some other TOG users to see what I have done, and perhaps inspire others to consider using TOG, so here I am sharing in my accomplishment.  Some of this may mean nada to you - if so, and you are not interested, please return to whatever you were doing before you saw I had posted  a new blog entry!

Right, so what went in, and what didn't make the cut?

Every workbook begins with a lovely cover. Which book is complete WITHOUT a cover?? I wanted a bigger image, but a lovely friend pointed out about how much ink a bigger image uses, and I was thankful for my choice! *grin* (Thanks Beth!)

As you can see, this one will be Joshua's. We are just beginning on Dialectic with him (excited, slightly apprehensive, squeaking noise being made - by him and me, both!!).

Here they all are, lined up ready.

First off, for the oldest 2, I put in the reading list. Then they can mark off WHAT they need to read that week, and also once they have read it.  The younger 2 will refer to the master copy in our book stand, if needed. You can see here, the reading selections are divided by level and by subject. 

Next, I put the Student Activity Pages. These outline all the suggested activities for that week. For Josh, at this higher level, there are also the "Accountability questions" and the "Thinking Questions" on these pages. 

Next, if I have any notebooking pages to add, these go here. I have put them straight after the pages that outline what we can do that week, as I will have them do this activity earlier in the week than the pages which follow. I am not sure if I have ever blogged about our TOG routine.  I shall look, and rectify that if I have not!  As you can see here, the first week is in Egypt, and they will do a notebooking page about the Nile River. 

Next, we have a mapping page. 

Some weeks there is one, some more than one, and some none at all!! This first week of Year 1, there are actually three, as they begin with an overview of world geography, as well as geography of Egypt. 

In addition, Josh will be doing a map overlay project. More of that in another post....

Next, we have the SAP (Student Activity Page) to go with their literature for that week.

Finally, I have included any Evaluation pages. First time through TOG, I did not utilise the Evaluations. Until someone kindly pointed out that they are a super addition as an extra "worksheet", if nothing else! 

So, if there is a worksheet type eval, I have included it. (Some are oral tests)

There we have it! My workbooks!

Oh, yes! I must tell you that I plan for them to write their answers to any essay type questions (and for Josh's thinking and accountability questions) in a shop bought, spiral-bound, notebook. 

(Like this, but a different design)

I didn't want to add pages into their workbooks, as they made need more or less than I provide. This allows a degree of flexibility, and also allows you to have the questions side-by-side with where you write the answers.  We will see how it works out.

I am really happy with them, and just know they are going to be a help both to the children, as well as to me.  Obviously, being a  "first" for us, we will see how it works out, and I can tweak it for unit 2, if need be. 

Over the next few weeks I will also tell you about the other elements I am adding this year. A cumulative map overlay project, having older students being involved in planning, and a timeline. (I still have not decided whether we should do the timeline as a family, or have the children doing it alone... or both!).  

I am really psyched up for starting back tomorrow, but I know it may not go as smoothly as I hope, so I am trying not to put too much pressure on my shoulders! I *DO* know, that, if I am excited about starting back, SOME of that energy is bound to bounce off onto the children and help them to feel motivated, too. 

I hope this helps out others  with their planning. 

Oh, and don't forget to nip over to this post, for a great give-away of the notebooking resource that I am using in my workbooks. 

*DISCLAIMER* - the pages I have shared with you are available as a free sample download of Tapestry of Grace. Please do not violate copyright laws by trying to reproduce these pages, or copy them. If you want to use the curriculum, buy the curriculum!