Joy – FMF


Today’s word is JOY and the linkup is hosted by Heading Home.


JOY – while I do see the word “joy”, I also see J – O – Y. Makes me think of the song we often sing with our children.

J-O-Y,  J-O-Y
This is what is means:
Jesus first, Yourself last, Others in between.
J-O-Y,  J-O-Y
This is what is means:
Jesus first, Yourself last, Others in between.

The holiday season is filled with many opportunities for JOY. We do some of the obvious – giving gifts to family and friends, donating money to certain causes, visiting or writing notes, participating with giving.

But, what else could we do? I have been wondering about opportunities missed. What am I not seeing that we could do?

We have been working on a unit study that includes a couple of opportunities such as making and giving hot chocolate or going caroling to your neighbors homes. We are planning to add these things close to Christmas. We are also working harder at writing notes to mail to those we know of who might need some encouragement this time of year (and actually we are trying to do that at least once a month).

What other opportunities do you take advantage of to apply JOY? Please share!


One of the “joys” of Five Minute Friday is that once the writing begins, it sometimes takes an unexpected turn. This post is one of those. When I saw the word “joy”, I knew just what to write about – Miss J’s favorite song: Joy to the World. But look at what happened? I typed the word and it went somewhere completely different. I sure do enjoy seeing that happen.

At Home.

Need a Fun Book to Read?


This one? Totally unexpected and out of left field but a home run. (Yea, yea – mixing metaphors or something there but this was a cool book!)

The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards

I absolutely adore Julie Andrews. I have since I was a child and watched The Sound of Music every. single. year. Just ask my brother. He HATED it! But when I discovered her writing, I fell in love with her books, too. My girls love her books, as well. Pink, sparkly, princesses – what’s not to love?

Well, because of that adoration, I had to pick up this book at the book sale when I found it. I knew nothing about it but I had to pick it up and read it out loud to the girls. And it is fantastic!!!!!!



Three siblings – Ben, Tom, and Lindy – meet the very unusual Professor Savant who becomes convinced that they are just the children who are capable of making the trip to the elusive Whangdoodleland. In order to make the trip and be able to meet the Whangdoodle, the children have to learn to see and understand things in a completely different way than they ever have before. Once they successfully make the trip, they meet amazing creatures and see unbelievable things. Can they find the perseverance and strength needed to meet the Whangdoodle? And what happens if they succeed?



There is so many tidbits of wisdom tucked into sentences throughout this book. I couldn’t believe how much was packed into this fantastical, imaginative book about seeing things you cannot even imagine. From the way blood works in a body to how we listen to Latin words to the responsibilities we have of managing life, there are wise thoughts everywhere.


One of my favorite scenes was when the professor was teaching the children to look. No, not just look, but to really see, to observe. They were looking at chrysanthemums and the children dismissed them fairly simply but when they actually looked, they saw so much more – color and texture and life. It was really an interesting scene.


We loved the book and highly recommend it. Each day, all three girls were disappointed when I placed the bookmark. That is the sign of a very good book.

At Home.


A Christmas Book Addition

I am so excited by a Christmas book we received yesterday. I have wanted this book for a couple of years but decided, finally, to purchase it. We have our tradition of opening a book each night in December related to Christmas or winter or the birth of Jesus. And we have some unique and interesting ones. This one will go in that category. At least to me.grandma-moses-book

The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore is a favorite for many families at Christmas time. We have a couple of copies of it that are beautiful. Today, we received a copy of this story that has been illustrated by Grandma Moses. I love how bright and cheerful all of the illustrations are and how readable the text is. This is a stunning book!


Grandma Moses is an American folk artist, very possibly one of the most well known. She learned to paint later in her life, after arthritis began affecting her ability to do the needlework she loved. In 1960, at the age of 100, she took on the challenge of illustrating this traditional poem. And the result is beautiful! I am thrilled to be able to share this traditional poem with these stunning American folk art illustrations with my girls. It will be a joy for many years, I hope.

grandma-moses-sled-and-deer grandma-moses-image

Merry Christmas!

At Home.



Participating in the Homeschool Review Crew linkup for holiday books.

Books for the Holidays

Crave – FMF

Today’s word prompt is crave and the link up is hosted over on Heading Home.

Start –


What an appropriate word for this time of year. From Halloween through the New Year, it seems like we have the kinds of foods sitting around that we crave. That would be the sweet stuff.

While not bad in itself, I have found that when I crave it, I am missing out on something more. Most of the time it is sleep, water, or joy. I wish I could say that I take that knowledge and make better choice because of it, but I don’t. I most often give into my cravings.

But what if I gave in through a new way? I have been trying this for the last week. Wish I could say it has helped tremendously but, well, we’ll see after a while longer.

What I have been doing is trying to be proactive. I have gotten up and gotten my hot tea and packed a lunch for At Home Dad. After he is gone, I sit down with my hot tea and my Bible and Bible study book. I read and study for about 30 minutes. Then I go walk on the treadmill. I have managed about 40 minutes most days so far (excepting the morning the girls decided to fight and I had to cut it short). After that I shower and we get started on school.

While I haven’t found that this has cut my cravings completely out, it makes me rethink my food choices because I don’t want to completely undo whatever good my exercise might have done for me. So, my cravings are still there but I am working on that. And the exercise and extra water have been good for me. I also find, the more I study God’s word, the more I crave it. So that is perhaps the best result of all of these cravings.


What do you crave?

At Home.

Someone Knows My Name – Book Club

Book club:Ladybug Daydrams and At Home where life happens

My, oh my, y’all. . . this was a book. I know – not a very intelligent statement but I’m finding it hard to write a good opening line because this book is so full of amazing contrasts. It was such a good read: easy and flowed well and grabbed my attention while being one of the hardest books I have ever read due to the content. It was an emotional book to read: touching, heart-wrenching, gut-punching, joyful, exciting, scary. The ups and downs were so big and so unexpected. It was a masterfully told story, a fictional account, of one of the most real, alive people I’ve ever encountered. It grabbed hold from the beginning and did not let go, even after the writing had all been read. I read way, way past my bedtime more than once because I could not put this book down. But be prepared, it is tough because this is real life being described. someone-knows-my-name

It is not about a real person. It is a novel. However, it is based on the lives of millions of people abducted from their homelands and brought to America as slaves. Aminata is the central character of this story and she was abducted from her home, amidst a very violent, deadly episode, when she was only 11. I. Can’t. Even. Imagine. Everything you have ever heard about slavery is brought to clear, distinct detail in Aminata’s life. She is so very real that the horrors inflicted on her throughout her life are clear, almost as if you are seeing them happen right before your eyes.

We agreed to discuss the questions from LitLovers for this book. I picked some of the questions but there are others that might be interesting for you to explore.

1 – What is the significance of the title Someone Knows My Name?your-past-didnt-matter-quote

One of the important statements that is brought to life throughout the book is that one’s name is a recognition of them as a human, as a person. So to know someone’s name is to recognize them as a real person and to show them some respect. I think one of my favorite scenes for this was when, as slaves aboard the ship bringing them to America, they would sing their names, loud and clear, proclaiming who they were and not allowing that to be lost, through all the rest of the losses that were occurring.

2 – What is your opinion about Hill’s suggestion that Aminata’s very youthfulness at the time of her abduction enables her emotional survival, even as some of the adults in her world show signs of crumbling?

This truth is seen over and over again, though accidents and injuries and all the other things in this world that try to rip us apart. The children seem best able to mold into what is needed for the next step of our life’s journey. The youthfulness of Aminata allowed her to see that she could change, to remember her father’s and mother’s instruction, and to continue on, full of survival and life.

3 – Aminata suffers some horrifying cruelties at the hands of her captors, but her understanding-others-quoterelationships with her masters aren’t always what you’d expect. How does Aminata’s story reveal the complex ways that people react to unnatural, unequal relationships?

Fear and misunderstanding drives a lot of the communication barriers that exist. I think this is clear with the story, as well. Aminata’s first master in  America was fearful and didn’t really know how to react amid that kind of fear. It almost seems that he knew how reliant he was on the slaves and was fearful that he would lost his standing without them. Yet her second master didn’t really treat her like a master. He treated her like an employer who was unsure and fearful. He wanted to do right but didn’t really know how to in the social climate they lived in. We often make decisions based on emotions and emotions do not always lead us in the way we need to go.

4 – During the course of the story, Aminata marries and has a family. Although she is separated from them, she is reunited from time to time with her husband and one of her children. What does the work tell us about the nature of love and loyalty?

Love and loyalty are natural, God given blessings that provide us with strength and courage when we choose to embrace them. Aminata was often driven forward by the loyalty she felt to her family, enveloped by the constant hope that she would find them again one day.

5 – Aminata struggles to learn and master all sorts of systems of communicating in the new world: black English, white English, and Gullah, as well as understanding the uses of European money and maps. How do her various coping mechanisms shed light on her character?

Aminata has a flexible, eager mind that allows her to learn and to continue to learn. She was encouraged to learn by her father and mother and she never forgot that. She knew that learning was a way in which she could move forward, even when she didn’t know where “forward” was leading. This ability to learn made her very valuable to others because she could help them while helping herself.

6 – What does the novel tell us about survival? Which characters fare best and why?if-i-spent-my-time-hating-quote

Survival is making it through. The characters that fare best are those who are willing to try, to keep an open mind (or at least one that is willing to allow for other’s dictation), and to see that there is more out there. Many of the characters that survive do so by pushing forward in spite of the hardships, cruelty, or severity of inequality they faced. They were willing to look forward towards that unknown possibility of something better. They had HOPE.

7 – What do you think would be the challenges involved in writing a realistically painful novel that still offers enough light and hope to maintain the reader’s interest and spirit?

I’ll be honest with you – when I first started reading this and realized it was not quite what I thought it was going to be, I just about quit. I was forced to read a very graphic, very disgusting novel in high school about slavery and it has turned me off to reading anything about slavery. That novel from high school was designed to create disgust, hatred of slavery, and elicit sorrow for the slaves. While those are not bad ideas to foster in the reader of a novel about slavery, it was done by sensationalizing the horrors of slavery, the mistreatment of slaves, and more. It was terrifying to read and I remember having trouble sleeping because of it. I have looked with disdain on all books about slavery because of it.

Hill’s book has changed that for me. He has done an amazing job of creating disgust over the treatment and abduction of millions of innocent humans, hatred of slavery, and eliciting sorrow for all of those swallowed up by slavery. However, he did it by creating a human character that tells the story in an emotional way that the reader can connect with.  Hill created Aminata in such a way that her HOPE resonates throughout the story, even through those darkest time, sometimes through those she has shared HOPE with when she cannot feel that HOPE herself. This story needed the drastic detail but it is done with care and concern, recognizing that these were people being treated in such horrendous ways. The detail does not sensationalize the events but rather treats with honor and respect the characters going through horrific events, eliciting that honest sorrow for the character.

Truly, I thoroughly enjoyed this books and will highly recommend it to anyone who asks. I am thankful to Annette from A Net In Time for the review she originally published about it and the discussions we had about it while she was reading it. She opened my mind to it and then suggested it while I was trying to decide on a book for this month to suggest to Wendy. This has been a great read.

Please visit Wendy at Ladybug Daydreams to read about her experience with this book and her thoughts. She will be answering some of these same questions. I expect Annette from A Net In Time to join us as well.

For January, we will be posting on Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. This one, I’ll admit, I am going to be brave about. I’ve picked it up before and thought the synopsis was interesting but the pictures? Well, let’s just say the induced me to put it right back down. I’ve agreed to be brave and give it a fair shot for January though. Will you join us?

At Home.



String Games

Today the girls have spent lots of time doing string games. If you are like me, you remember these from when you were 12 or 13 and you carried a loop of string with you all the time to make a cat’s cradle or a Jacob’s ladder or cat’s whiskers or any number of other things.


It started out kind of strange because we have been reading The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards. (Just a book I picked up somewhere but I’ll be sharing more about it because it is so fun!) In the book, there is a creature called the Splintercat who lives in a cat’s cradle made of string. In the story, he pulls out his loop of string and plays the cat’s cradle game but messes it up to the point that someone is stuck in the string.

It made me start thinking of looking up some videos of how to do these string games because it has been so long since I have done them that I don’t really remember.

Fast forward to sign language class this morning. Miss E’s best friend, who she takes sign classes with, had spent the Thanksgiving holidays learning a bundle of string games from her cousins and looking them up on YouTube. We then went to a homeschool lunch, which was also attended by aforementioned best friend, and the girls sat there and played these string games for about an hour.

Then, when we got home, we looked up the suggested YouTube link – Mom’s Minivan. Definitely the place to go for simple, easy-to-follow videos and her website has some printed instructions on how to do many of these string games. It’s a hit. I imagine I will be seeing string games going on here for many days to come.

Simple, fun, inexpensive, and challenging – all that I love in a game.

At Home.


Trust and Obey – hymn


The Five Minute Friday word got me thinking about hymns that refer to surrendering. While many of them that have the word surrender in them I don’t know, I stumbled across this one.

This is probably one of the first hymns I learned to sing and it is one that I remember singing always. I remember it from when I was very small. How old I don’t recall but I know, in my great-grandma’s eyes, I was probably “knee high to a grasshopper.” She loved this song and sang it while make soup in the kitchen or sitting by the fire or working on a quilt. I remember her singing it a lot.

And Friday, I started thinking: what does surrender look like? Well, it looks like my mom. Or my grandma. Or my great-grandma. They all did what was needed for their families. They worked hard through unknowns, through illness, through hardship, through lots of laughter and love and longing, through joy, through hope. They looked to God because they knew that in surrendering to Him, there was hope. They knew that surrendering to God didn’t mean that this world would be easier but they knew that by surrendering to Him He would strengthen them to face whatever came their way in this world until He was ready to call them Home to eternity with Him due to their faithfulness in surrendering.

Trusting and obeying God’s word and His will. That is how we surrender. Giving our all to His ways, to His words, to His will. In trusting and obeying God, we show our hope and faith in Him and He will gift us salvation for that trust and obedience.

At Home.

Trust and Obey

words: John H. Sammis (1887)
music: Daniel B. Towner (1887)

1 When we walk with the Lord
in the light of his word,
what a glory he sheds on our way!
While we do his good will,
he abides with us still,
and with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

2 Not a shadow can rise,
Not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away.
Not a doubt nor a fear,
Not a sign nor a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

3 Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share,
but our toil he doth richly repay;
not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross,
but is blest if we trust and obey. [Refrain]

4 But we never can prove
the delights of his love
until all on the altar we lay;
for the favor he shows,
for the joy he bestows,
are for them who will trust and obey. [Refrain]

5 Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at his feet,
or we’ll walk by his side in the way;
what he says we will do,
where he sends we will go;
never fear, only trust and obey. [Refrain]

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