Lifegiving Table: Chapters 3-4

“Creating an environment of beauty, comfort, and acceptance cultivates hearts that are open to your messages.” Sally Clarkson

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It is so important that we cultivate the environment of our home and our table. We need to study and understand each of our children and our guests and prepare a place that is beautiful and comfortable for them; in doing so we help cultivate their hearts to be ready to hear the message that we have to speak in their lives. I really love how Sally talks about realizing each child’s individual needs and making time for them.  It can be so simple, it doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner out or a whole afternoon alone, a simple 15 minute tea time to connect. In our house tea is a favorite of one child, but with the other we use chocolate milk or lemonade.  Another trick I’ve used is keeping cookie dough balls frozen and ready to go. I can take out just a few have them ready in a few minutes with minimal mess.  Many different kinds of cookies do well like this but two of our favorites are oatmeal chocolate chip and Earl Gray tea cookies. I will post a printable of the oatmeal chocolate chip cookies in the resources by the end of the week.

At one point in my life when people would talk about decorating or creating beauty I would get overwhelmed.  It seemed like it would be expensive and take precious time that I didn’t feel like I had. I have learned to I can do very simple, inexpensive things and make a big difference. For example, just putting a table cloth on our table makes it seem nicer (most of us already have a few tablecloths and if you don’t you can purchase them from yard sales or thrift stores for about a $1 each) and it makes the table easier to clean up when we are done.  My daughter has taken to using pieces of seasonal fabric to recover plain place-mats to give our table a seasonal feel.  Finally, my favorite trick is to simply buy either a small potted plant or fresh cut flowers for the table. I don’t’ buy the expensive ones, for about $4 I can get a nice bunch that will last me two weeks. Or I recently had a small potted plant for $6 that lasted for months. Every time I walked by my table it makes me smile.

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The Table-Discipleship Principle from chapter four was, ” Practicing the rhythms of life regularly with your loved ones creates a secure feeling of belonging-of being welcomed and able to share convictions and faith with a community where one belongs. ”  It is so important that our children find that sense of belonging both in our family and in God’s family. I think that so many of the struggles we see in society today stem from young adults floundering in a world where they are searching for belonging.  Traditions and rhythms don’t have to be complicated elaborate parties and events, and truly I think often the small things make a bigger impact.

In our family one of our favorite traditions is to have potato soup every time it snows. If you happen to live in a more northern climate you may be thinking you would get very tired of potato soup, but here in Eastern NC that is only a couple times a year.  It isn’t a complicated meal but they enjoy that tradition.  Another tradition that they look forward to is ice cream sundaes for lunch on Valentine’s day (don’t worry I add in some fruit to make it more balanced 😉 ).  Sally lists lots of her family’s rhythms on pages 55 and 56.

Sally talks a great deal about Romans chapter 12: 1-2 in this chapter of the book. This also happens to be the verse that we chose as our guiding verse for our homeschool this year. We live in a world where “anything goes” and a culture where morality is very subjective. This verse is a great reminder that we need to be transformed through the power of God and not of this world.  As we guide our children we need to keep pointing them to the Truth of His word. Our tables become a place where we can do that multiple times each day through our love and conversation.

How can create a family identity and culture this week? It looks different for each family. We have one family that is friends of our family and their last name is Reese. They call themselves “Team Reese”. Their family happens to be big sports fans and that is a way in which they communicate with each other and other people that they are part of the same team working together towards the same goals. Our family has taken to talking about how we can work together as a family to accomplish our personal goals and whatever God desires of us.  I’d love to hear in the comments one of your families favorite traditions or one way in which you are working to create a family identity.

If you have not yet gotten this book I encourage you to do so. You can find the book here or you can order it from Audible if you prefer listening to the book.  If you would like to join in our online book study for more discussion please join us here.

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

 

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Revolutionary War: Week 2

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My son and his turkey at the state fair.

 

Sometimes your best laid plans go awry and you have to drop back and punt. This week we had many plans for history, but we also had a turkey show at the state fair which put us away from home for a couple of days and some other unexpected things that needed to happen.  This meant that to some extent history was paused for this week.

My son has a great meal planned using the “standard” rations of a Revolutionary War soldier. We had planned on doing that Thursday before we left for the turkey show, but timing did not work out. So he will be cooking that for lunch on Monday. I am uploading a great document with the typical rations for the northern campaign and the southern campaign during the Revolutionary War. This would of course have varied somewhat dependent upon where they were and what was available. In case anyone is concerned we swapped root beer for the hard cyder 🙂 (historical spelling)

I find each week homeschooling is a balance of the book work and the real life. This week real life needed more time. The kids really enjoyed the fair and showing their turkeys. My daughter who loves looms, got a chance to sit down with one of the weavers in Heritage Village at the fair and learn a few tricks of the trade. We also spoke to a basket maker and a violin maker.

 

 

Last night we watched Beyond the Mask to spend some fun family time together and learn a little bit more about the Revolutionary War. I don’t recommend this movie for small children or those that are very sensitive to violence. It is not overly graphic but does have fighting and battle type scenes. It is a mostly fictional story set during the time of the Revolutionary War. This is not the movie if you are looking for a documentary, but it is a beautiful story of the redemption of Christ in a historical setting.

We will have our meal this week as well as attend (with my husband and son helping) in a military through the ages program at the fair. This will feature some Revolutionary Soldiers as well as others up to current times.

What are you doing in history this week?

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History.  Colonial and Revolutionary resources are currently posted.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

Our study of Sally Clarkson’s new book The Lifegiving Table is up and running and I am so excited about this book and the message that she is sharing. We can use our tables to disciple our children and all of those that come through our homes. We can give them rest, nourishment, comfort and so much more.  I invite you to join us on this journey as we study through the book. I believe it has the power to transform families.  To learn more or to join us in this study check out this post.

 

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

Can We Please Do Science Today?

From time to time I will review the curriculum we are using or host reviews of other curriculum to help those that are looking for the right fit. I truly believe that there are many great programs out there and that not every program will work for every family.  In writing these reviews I hope to give you more information in which to make informed decisions about what may or may not work for your family.

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In our first year of homeschooling I tried out several different science programs that just were not working for our family. My son is very interested in science and the programs we tried were too basic to meet his interest level. So I started finding various resources and piecing things together.  This can be a very effective method but it does take more time and planning on the part of the parent. During this process we were studying the solar system and a family member mentioned the Apologia Exploring Creation With Astronomy book and offered to let us borrow her copy.  I was very hesitant about the overall concept of one subject per year but more than willing to use it as a resource during what I planned as a one month study of the solar system.

Instead of a month we spent the rest of our school year (we started in January so basically a semester) using the Apologia book to study the solar system.  I couldn’t believe how much they were learning and how well it worked to dig so deep into the same subject rather than covering many different subjects. We did not finish the entire book (that is a lot of material for a first grader to cover in a semester) but my son knew more than planned about the solar system and even the four year old picked up information from listening to us read.

That experience changed our course for science. After a bit more research and prayer and a long talk with my husband we switched our science over to Apologia. Each year after that we have taken one of the elementary level books from that series and covered it together as a family. We have done botany, all three zoology books, and are currently working through Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics. The series is based on the days of creation and goes through and studies each topic in-depth. It is a creation based approach to science and ties everything back to the Creator which was a big positive in our experience. I also really appreciated that while it gave credit to God it didn’t short change the amount of science and information that was provided. It was very in-depth and thorough.

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Each lesson includes “try this” activities which are like small quick hands on activities or experiments. There is also a larger experiment or two at the end of each lesson. A lesson equates to a chapter and takes our family about two weeks to complete. There are narration questions and breaks which tie-in nicely with our Charlotte Mason leanings. It is written in a much more living book style than a regular text book.

In addition to the text book they offer Notebooking Journals and Junior Notebooking Journals.  These give the students some questions, copywork, lapbook style activities, and other potential hands on activities to go with each lesson. They also have templates for taking notes which helps them develop that skill (especially in the Notebooking Journal).  In addition, there is a list of additional books, videos and other resources to accompany each chapter. I love that it is easy to adapt. My daughter loves the lapbooking style projects but my son does not. However, since the information is in their in several ways I just assign them the pages that work best for them.  When they were younger we even shared a journal with each of them doing half the pages.

We are just finishing up lesson two in our current book but are already enjoying the experiments. Chemistry and physics do lend themselves to even more hands-on activities than some of the other topics. We have done experiments involving freezing various liquids, making a “lava lamp” with oil and vinegar, trying to separate and rejoin water droplets, and several others. They made a terrarium last week with a plant to demonstrate the water cycle. I’ve included a few pictures from some of the activities we have done over the past couple of years.

Overall, we really love the Christ focused nature of the curriculum, the in depth study, and the variety of hands on activities. We also enjoy being able to do science together as a family and not a different curriculum for each child and my children frequently ask the question from the title of this post. It isn’t something the “have to do” but rather something they enjoy.

I know that not every family wants to delve so deeply into science in the early years. Maybe you have students who are not as interested or maybe you just want to supplement what you are already learning about. You might even use Apologia but want to add some other things to go with it. I have been looking over the science classes offered by Schoolhouse Teachers and I’m amazed at the variety of things that are offered. There are several that I think my children might like to do on their own as electives just for fun.

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While my youngest loves our science experiment most of the information in our current curriculum is above his comprehension (he is only 3) but he loves to learn. So I’m looking at adding this course to our calendar in January as something fun for me to do with him.  Small World Sensory Science sounds like just the fun and hands on type of program that he would enjoy. I have done some things with him, but I find that we are better about getting it done when it is all laid out and ready to go. Sensory bins and objects are a big hit with that age and should be great fun. They also work well to keep him occupied while I work with the older children on schoolwork.

A World of Animals is one of the ones that I want to show my older children. They have loved our studies of animals (including three Apologia zoology books) and are always wanted to learn more. I particularly like that this program includes sections on taking care of those animals which are potential pets. While we have all the animals I can handle at the moment (bees, chickens, ducks, turkeys, a cat, and a fish) they are always on the lookout for new pet ideas.

I would love to hear what science program is working for your family and why you love it! I’m also happy to answer questions you might have about what we do for science.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

Our study of Sally Clarkson’s new book The Lifegiving Table started this week and we would love to have you join us.

Not Consumed is having a great sale on their hymn studies. These are great ways to includes holidays and seasons into your studies while also focusing on God.  We have used them in the past and really enjoyed them. Her missionary study (which we are using this year) is also on sale right now.

There is also a sale going on over at You Are an Artist. Everything is 25% off for Columbus Day through October 15th.

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

A Lifegiving Table: Chapters 1-2

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When you hear the words “lifegiving table” what comes to your mind? Is it the food that is necessary to sustain life? The fellowship and fun that comes at a family table? The communion table where we celebrate eternal life? So many different images come to mind but I think it is important to know that a “lifegiving table” can be a big fancy meal or a simple but nourishing meal. It can be a large family or two friends around a table. You can have a “lifegiving table” at a large dining room table or on a blanket in the park.  As I listened to Sally Clarkson speak last week she mentioned that she had figured out that over the course of 18 years at three meals a day we will feed our children over 19,000 meals. This really stuck with me as I thought about the impact that our time together and our table could have on our family and those that we invite to the table.

“All table-talk discussions, love given, and beauty cultivated at our table are for the purpose of making real our Savior and calling those who share life with us to serve Him their whole lives.” (Sally Clarkson, pg. 1 The Lifegiving Table)

Sometimes making meals three times a day (at least since mine tend to want snacks and 2nd breakfast) can be exhausting and monotonous. However, when I view it from the perspective of serving my family and pointing them to Jesus it gives me new vigor in the process. Each meal is an opportunity to “feast” with my family, to serve them, and to point them to Jesus. There are so many stories in the Bible that revolve around the table. The Passover meal which leads to the communion table, Jesus feeding the 5,000, the various Jewish feasts and celebrations are but a few examples.  We can see from those examples as well as examples from our daily lives that eating together around the table nourishes not only the body but the soul as well.

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Chapter two was written by Sally’s husband Clay and spends a great deal of time talking about the Biblical foundations of the “lifegiving table” to prepare us for the practical applications shared in later chapters. In this chapter he expounds upon the five key elements: gather, bless, eat, share, and serve. Clay shares wonderful examples of Jesus and how he served His disciples and those that were following Him. One of my favorite quotes from that chapter is, “A huge element of table discipleship is modeling and teaching what it means to be a servant”.  The example that Jesus provided in washing his disciples feet prior to his arrest and crucifixion is a prime example of how he showed servant leadership and led by example.

I could talk for pages about these chapters but instead I’ll leave you with one final thought and encourage you to read them for yourselves. I can’t do justice to the wonderful ideas written and shared within the pages. In the last section of chapter two we are encouraged to not only get food on the table but get the table in us. What does that mean to you? How can you apply that to your situation?

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I would love to hear your thoughts on these two chapters. Please feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts on the book so far or one thing you can implement in your home this week to bring you closer to a “lifegiving table”. If you have not yet gotten this book I encourage you to do so. You can find the book here or you can order it from Audible if you prefer listening to the book.  If you would like to join in our online book study for more discussion please join us here.

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

The War Before the Revolution

As I began our studies this month of the Revolutionary time period I also wanted to cover the French and Indian war. Some of you may recall that we went to see Fort Dobbs a couple of weeks ago and started the conversation about that war.  Being honest, this is a war that I didn’t know a great deal about prior to our studies. I’m sure it was probably covered at some point in my history classes but I didn’t remember much about the war. It is always a fun experience to learn alongside my children and one of the many benefits I’ve found to the homeschool experience.

This week we read the chapter from America’s Story that covered the French and Indian war and had a great meal time conversation about the war and its implications. My children already knew a bit about Cajun culture so they were very interested in the part about the Acadians being relocated to Louisiana. My son wanted to cook gumbo to go along with this new knowledge but we didn’t have the ingredients to we agreed to add it to the meal plan sometime soon.

In looking at project ideas for this month the children have chosen topics but not yet narrowed down their actual projects. Matthew will be studying Nathan Hale and Elizabeth will focus on Rachel Revere and how she helped her husband Paul Revere.  I believe these topics will help them go a little deeper into the war and get an understanding that goes beyond the facts and dates. If you are looking for ideas for your students you could consider other notable names such as Benjamin Franklin or Abigail Adams. There is a great list of people and information here to get you started.  You could also focus on home lives, the day to day life of a soldier, or the difference in how the war was viewed by a Loyalist and a Patriot.

We did a cute chalk pastel of the outlines of the original 13 colonies with a black cloud representing the impending war with England off the coast. They enjoyed that lesson though the lines on the map were a bit more difficult than some of the other chalk pastel lessons they have completed.

Elizabeth really enjoyed reading the Magic Tree House book Revolutionary War on Wednesday this week. It is a bit on the easy side for her reading level but she was able to tie in what was in the book with what she already knew about the Revolutionary War.

We watched an episode of Liberty’s Kids this week as well. We watched the episode about the Marquis de Lafeyette which was of particular interest since we had seen him being portrayed by a historian in Williamsburg last month.  While we will not watch the whole series this month (there are about 40 episodes) we hope to watch one or two episodes each week.

Next week we will delve into the Revolution itself more thoroughly. We hope to go over a couple more chapters in America’s Story as well as some of the other books that we have. Matthew will be reading The Diary of Joesph Plumb Martin next week as well.  One of our meals next week will be a typical meal for a Revolutionary War soldier.

I’d love to know what you did in history this week. Please feel free to share in the comments.

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History.  Colonial and Revolutionary resources are currently posted.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

Our study of Sally Clarkson’s new book The Lifegiving Table starts tomorrow and I am so excited about this book and the message that she is sharing. We can use our tables to disciple our children and all of those that come through our homes. We can give them rest, nourishment, comfort and so much more.  I invite you to join us on this journey as we study through the book. I believe it has the power to transform families.  i will post in the facebook group tomorrow with our first assignment and on Wednesday I’ll have thoughts on the blog and in the group. To learn more or to join us in this study check out this post.

Finally, Not Consumed is having a great sale on their hymn studies. These are great ways to includes holidays and seasons into your studies while also focusing on God.  We have used them in the past and really enjoyed them. Her missionary study (which we are using this year) is also on sale right now.

There is also a one day sale going on over at You Are an Artist. Everything is 25% off for Columbus Day.

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

 

Studying the Great Artists

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If you have followed this blog much you have seen the chalk pastel program that we do to work on art skills. We absolutely adore the program and the children have fun using it.  In addition to these art lessons we wanted to make sure to continue to cover famous artists and their works.  It is our goal that the children be familiar with and introduced to a wide variety of works and artists. We do not emphasize memorization but familiarity and enjoyment.

I have found that we do better when we spend a few minutes each week for a longer period of time (we started at a year but have settled into a semester) studying one artist.  When we tried to do multiple artists at once or an artist a week.

When we started studying artists we used Confessions of a Homeschoolers program, The World’s Greatest Artists.  I still use a few things I gleaned from that program but for the most part we go our own way. We do use the same series of books as our spine, Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists. This semester we are studying Georgia O’Keefe.

For our studies we will read through the book on O’Keefe that was mentioned above, a few pages each time we study her. We will also choose some of our favorite paintings of hers to hang on the wall of our school room.  This can be done by buying a used art book that has some of her pictures and removing them or finding public domain prints that can be printed off at home or staples (we don’t have a color printer so I use staples for these if we don’t have any in an art book). I have found that having them up around the room for a semester helps to make them more familiar to the children. Over the course of the semester we will choose some and do a picture study, talking together about that they are, how they were done, what emotions we feel when we see them.  We will also do some hands-on activities. For example, Georgia O’Keefe was known for her large pictures of flowers. So this week the children each painted a large flower painting.

Once we have gone through the Georgia O’Keefe: Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists book we will look at other books about her.  One such book that we are hoping to read is My Name is GeorgiaWhenever possible we try to find art museums or galleries that have works from the artist we are studying that we can visit. This is not always possible due to distance but we have found it to be a great experience when we could work it out. The kids were very excited a couple of years ago to get a chance to see this Rembrandt over the summer prior to us studying his works.

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One of the parts of artist study that we struggled with most in those first few years was figuring out how to fit it in amidst lots of other things. We wanted to cover it and felt it was beneficial but it got pushed to the side in favor of reading, math, Bible, etc.  When I found Tauna Meyer’s Loop Scheduling course and information I realized that loop scheduling was the answer to my problem.  She blogs over at Proverbial Homemaker and has a great course and support group for learning to use loop scheduling.  This allows me to keep a good rotation going.

We have studied many other artists including Da Vinci, Rembrandt, and Rockwell. Next semester will probably be  Grandma Moses. I’d love to hear what artist you are studying or which one has been your favorite to study. Leave a comment on the post to tell me about your artist study.  We are intentionally choosing American artists this year to loosely tie into our American history study. In years past we have chosen artists based on the time period as we did a chronological study of world history.

If you are thinking that you love the idea of artist study but don’t like the idea of creating your own program like we did, you can always check out the programs at Schoolhouse Teachers. They have several great courses for artist study.  If you have a high school student that needs credit they have a great class called Art the Timeless Treasure which studies art and architecture.  For middle school ages they have ‘A Century of Art‘ which studies art from 1870-1970 and gives students the opportunity to try out different styles. If you are studying world history or Africa in particular they have a course on South African Art. So many different options to choose from.  If you are not familiar with this program you can try an entire month out for just $5, this includes not just these art classes but over 300 other classes for all subjects.

In all of this I hope you take away the idea that studying artists can be fun and rewarding. It doesn’t have to be boring and it doesn’t’ have to be a big burden and weight added to an already busy schedule.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

 

 

Wrapping up Colonial History-Week 4

We spent the week wrapping up our study of colonial history and getting ready for the Revolutionary War era. We spent one evening sipping hot apple cider while I read a chapter from America’s Story Vol. 1. It always amazes me how much they enjoy listening and that they continue to ask for more. Afterwards, my daughter took the pages I had printed to bed with her so she could look at the pictures and maps. We also read some from some of our other selected colonial history books. Elizabeth finished up her colonial basket and Matthew finished his puppet play.

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I think Elizabeth was surprised that basket weaving was not as easy as it looks (or as easy as weaving paper) but her basket turned out great and she is excited to try a more complex basket soon.  She is entering her basket into our state fair this month as one of her 4-H projects.

On Friday we had the opportunity to go to Historic Bath, NC with a group of our friends. They were able to tour one of the historic homes, see the oldest church in North Carolina, and participate in several projects. One of the most interesting things that happened on the trip was learning that the home we were touring belonged to ancestors of a relative (by marriage) of ours. The kids really enjoyed that connection.

The kitchen was my favorite part of the tour (you may notice a trend, I enjoy cooking and eating 😉 ). It was a reproduction and during parts of the year they actually use the fireplace and cook food for folks to see. It was well stocked with a variety of dishes and cooking equipment. My son is excited that he has seeds to try and grow gourds similar to what you see in the picture of the ladles made from gourds. They also had a large loom and linen press in the kitchen. The press makes me thankful for my dryer but the loom was of particular interest to my daughter who has been interested in them since our trip to Williamsburg.

They had an opportunity to write with a quill pen and make rope during our tour of historic Bath.  Both activities were fun but the rope making was hands down the favorite of my children and most of the others that were with us. Historic Bath was a coastal town that primarily dealt in naval stores so rope making would have been a common task. We learned to make rope using a hand cranked machine, though it wouldn’t’ be long before they would have used steam powered machines to help with that task.  The tour in Bath was only a couple of hours but a fun time and really helped to wrap up our colonial studies.

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History.  Colonial and Revolutionary resources are currently posted.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

Also, today is launch day for Sally Clarkson’s new book The Lifegiving Table. I am so excited about this book and the message that she is sharing. We can use our tables to disciple our children and all of those that come through our homes. We can give them rest, nourishment, comfort and so much more.  I invite you to join us on this journey as we study through the book. I believe it has the power to transform families. To learn more or to join us in this study check out this post.

Finally, Not Consumed is having a great sale on their hymn studies. These are great ways to includes holidays and seasons into your studies while also focusing on God.  We have used them in the past and really enjoyed them. Her missionary study (which we are using this year) is also on sale right now.

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog.

Meal Planning: A Step Towards Sanity

For many years I did not meal plan.  We would decide each day, typically about meal time what we wanted. Occasionally, I would be on the ball and plan that morning and therefore be able to go ahead and thaw meat for dinner.   I wanted the flexibility to change my mind and honestly it felt overwhelming to plan.  However, in the years since I started meal planning I have found that it actually saves us time, money, and stress and I still have flexibility.

By planning out our meals, I know what needs to be done ahead of time. I can bake muffins the night before, take out meat to thaw, put things in the crock pot, etc. This means that there is less rushing around and adding stress to busy days. It also means I know if I need to add anything to my grocery list for the week.

Earlier I mentioned still having flexibility. I know that is one of the biggest reasons why people say they don’t meal plan. However, like most of my plans in life our meal plan is subject to change. If my husband wakes up that morning and decides he would really rather have lasagna tonight I can simply change the plan. If something comes up and we don’t get home in time to cook the pot roast I had on the menu, I can substitute something fast and easy. The plan isn’t’ written in stone but it gives us a good guideline. Planning keeps me from getting to 5pm and not knowing what we are going to have and having to try to wing it while the managing the children and being tired from a long day.

Another common complaint is that meal planning costs too much money. I think this is a misconception about  meal planning . If you buy a pre-done meal plan that involves lots of ingredients you don’t normally use and then go buy them all at full price it could cost you more money. However, I make our menu plans based off of the foods and meals we already like (or recipes that I want to try) and what we have in our house. I grocery shop based on sales and seasons. When non-perishable items like noodles, rice, beans, etc are on sale I stock up on them so that I have enough to last until they are on sale again.  We either buy in our meat in bulk or stock up when it is on sale as well and store it in our freezer. We purchase most of our produce locally and in season. We also, can that local seasonal produce for the winter months. I do supplement our produce with sales at the grocery store.  Using this method I get most of our groceries at a very reduced price but have a wide range to choose from when I plan our menus. I do occasionally need a specific ingredient or two to finish out our menus, for instance I added ricotta cheese to the list this week because I wanted lasagna and we were out of ricotta.  By using this method I am able to utilize the sales and actually save money on groceries through meal planning.

In addition to saving money at the grocery store, we save money by not going out to eat as often. If you are very busy and have no plan it can be easy to feel like you have to eat out. Whether it is a lunch out on a field trip day because you didn’t have anything to pack or a quick dinner because you are going to get home at dinner time and nothing is prepared, it can add up quick. By planning out our meals and consulting our calendar I make sure that on afternoons we will be out I have something in the crock pot or ready for the instant pot when we get home. For days we are out at field trips I plan a lunch that is easy to pack and bring. Busy mornings are often muffins or sausage balls prepared the night before.  A little bit of planning and preparation can go a long way towards saving time and money in these situations.

I often use the crock pot or instant pot (and sometimes both) in conjunction with my meal plan. On days that are busy or where we may not be in the house I can let them do the work of cooking for me and still serve my family a hot fresh meal. Those tools allow me to better spend my time focusing on other aspects of our home or family. I can throw lunch in the crock pot, spend the morning teaching the children and sit down to a meal ready to eat.

We use the crock pot for many things but a few favorites are baked potatoes for loaded baked potatoes at lunch, soups of all kinds during the cooler months, For a tasty and easy dinner I put a fresh ham steak and a jar of green salsa in the crock pot in the morning. Just before we are ready to eat I cook a bit of rice in the instant pot. I serve the carnitas from the crock pot over the rice and top with corn salsa and sour cream. It is an easy, nutritious meal that our whole family enjoys.

So many different things can be cooked in the instant pot but a few family favorites are grits (so easy in the instant pot and I don’t have to stir them the whole time), beans (dry beans to ready to eat in under an hour), rice, and meat loaf with mashed potatoes. I can put the potatoes on the bottom, the meat loaf on top in a foil boat and basically have dinner ready with no mess in very little time just add a salad or some steamed veggies.

There are many different ways to meal plan. As a homeschooling family we are home for most meals during the week and I found it was important that I planned all three meals each day.  I sit down with the calendar (so I know if we have things going on that might effect the menu) each week and plan out Sunday through Friday. Our Saturdays tend to vary so I don’t plan those ahead of time. I make a plan based on the food we have, our plans for the week, and what everybody wants that week. When I need ideas I have a list for each of the three meals that I can draw ideas from. This helps keep us from getting into the rut of eating the same thing each week.  In doing our meal planning like this each week our stress is reduced, our food budget is reduced, and we eat healthy balanced meals.

Each family is different and each plan will look different but I think having a meal plan will help most families. If you have meal planning ideas or plan to try this I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

I have added a simple meal planning template to our resource library to help you get started. Though I only plan six days a week I have included all seven days for those that would prefer that method. It includes spots for all three meals each day as well as a spot for things you need to do to prep for the next days meals.

In addition to all of the other benefits to meal planning, I find that having a plan and a well stocked pantry help make it easier for me to meet our goals of having a ‘Life Giving Home’ and a ‘Life Giving Table’.  I am so excited about the upcoming release of Sally Clarkson’s new book “The Life Giving Table“. I will be offering an online study of this book in October after the release. It can help us to bless our families and others through the simple act of gathering together around the table.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog

We found the Lost Colony.. or Our Visit to Roanoke Island

 

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I knew we were starting our year off with the colonies and early American history. For several years I had wanted to take the children down to Roanoke Island when they could see the Lost Colony. The production is only preformed during the summer, so rather than wait until we started back to school we went ahead and made the trip back the end of May. It was a great way to end the school year and get the children excited about this year.

While we were on Roanoke Island we had the opportunity to explore Roanoke Island Festival Park. They do a great job showing how both the Native Americans and the Colonist would have lived. Our favorite is probably a replica of the Elizabeth II. It really brings home the size of their average ship and the conditions in which they would have traveled across the ocean. Crossing the ocean in a big cruise ship makes me nervous so thinking about the crossing in such tight quarters with so little protection is terrifying and amazing.  They also often have a blacksmith working and explaining his trade. There is a pedal lathe that folks can try working on and making table legs and other needed materials. The children can also pretend to haul buckets of water, try on some soldier equipment, and take a turn in a dug out canoe.

In addition to all of the colonial history outside at the park, they have a great museum which has costumes to try on, information about the Lost Colony, CSI style, and lots of other history from that area. The CSI style Lost Colony information is a computer program that people can use to study what we know about the lost colony and possible clues to what happened to them.

 

 

Another great site on the island is Fort Raliegh. It is a national park site so don’t forget to bring your national park passport if you have one to get those stamps! This site has a museum as well as preserving the remnants of the original settlement. This is also the location for the Lost Colony play.

In my title I mentioned finding the Lost Colony. We of course didn’t solve the mystery, though my children now have their theories. We had the chance to watch the Lost Colony theater production. It is an excellent play and I highly recommend it. I was a little concerned about the late start time but it was so engaging that even the three year old stayed awake and enjoyed watching it.  There are a few scary scenes that might be a bit intense for younger children but it is well done and an excellent addition to time spent on the island.  This production is so popular that it was in its 80th year of production this year and is scheduled to start back up the end of May 2018.

It still amazes me to think about the great lengths the colonist had to go to start this country. They endured difficult journeys, tough living conditions, leaving their families, sickness and many other hardships in order to settle this great land. They made plenty of mistakes but their sacrifices paved the way for the creation of this nation. I feel that by starting here in our history it gave us a great perspective to begin out journey. We have also talked about the Spanish Colonies in Florida, the native Americans who were already here, and even Viking explorers, but for us the Lost Colony is close to home and gives us  great starting point for further study.

If you are interested in learning more about the Lost Colony and Roanoke Island you can check out these books: Roanoke The Lost Colony, Roanoke Island, The Beginnings of English America, or The Lost Colony of Roanoke by Jean Fritz.

If you would like to join us on this journey through US History, join our mailing list and get access to our free library. Each month I’ll post a list of resources and ideas for the time period we are going to cover the next month. You can learn more in our post Our Journey Through History.  Colonial and Revolutionary resources are currently posted.

When you sign up for our free resource library you will get a link and password to the library, we are adding to the library each month with new items. You will also get a bi-weekly newsletter email to keep you up to date on what we have going on.

Resource Library

This post may contain affiliate or referral links. As always I will never recommend a product that I don’t believe in and you will never be charged more for purchasing through our links. It does help pay for the costs associated with the blog