What to do with Christmas Cards

On January 1st we place our Christmas cards in a basket, and each morning after our Bible reading, our  child randomly chooses one card and we pray for that person or family. 
Eloise Wilkin, illustrator

If it is from a coworker we pray for him and all the coworkers by name. 
We also put in index cards for elderly people we know that were not able to send out cards.  

 If a card was from a child, we pray for his family, as well as other families we play with at the park, wherever we know that person from.

Then, as we finish, if it is a photo card, we place it in our Christmas album.  

If it is a card with a signature (not typed), we cut it out and their message, if any, and glue that into our album. 

We usually don’t keep the whole card, just the message, and sometimes part of the card’s picture if really cute or biblical.

The result is an album that shows our family and friends’ children growing from year to year, and a scrapbook of actual signatures and messages that are meaningful to our family. 

Our album is filled with signatures of people who have passed on to be with Jesus.  It is an easy way to remember them, their legacy, and their stories for our children.  When possible, I sometimes place photos near their signatures.

This does not have to be in a fancy scrapbook.  The memory is in DOING it, and not just throwing it into a box (or worse, the trash!). 

Once you get it started, it really is quite easy.  No perfection!  Just done.  Let your child put in stickers or do the gluing.  

Enjoy it - it isn't a chore!


A Counterfeit Home

Read this slowly and imagine the words about Home“At night across the mountains when darkness falls and the winds sweep down out of the hollows, the wild things with their shiny eyes come to the edge of the clearing.  At such an hour the house seems safe and warm, an island of light and love in a sea of darkness…   …the vision of a mother’s face, a father’s deep voice, the aroma of fresh baked bread, sunshine in a window, the muted sounds of rain on a roof…the cry of a newborn babe, and voices calling ‘goodnight.’  Home, an island, a refuge, a haven of love.”

This excerpt of Home was John Boy’s epilogue of Season 1, Episode 15, “The Actress,” from The Waltons.  I don’t recall the episode, but I replayed the DVD until I had these words on paper.  They evoke such peace!  I used to watch a lot of old t.v. shows searching for that feeling of peace.  I believe that many of the “old” shows are so beloved as we age (even when we didn’t watch them as kids) because they present an aspect of God’s TRUTH.  And TRUTH = PEACE.  While we can learn things from shows, we cannot live the show, and once the set is off, it is back to real life.  The life we have created.

Did you know that Satan has a counterfeit for almost everything God has given to us?

Counterfeit money looks like the real thing on the surface – but it doesn’t spend the same way with people who know the truth.

Look around you – look for counterfeits masquerading as truth in your life.  They will look good on the surface…but the item or relationship or situation will not work…there will be a niggling little doubt in your mind…because it is God’s gift TWISTED.  There will be just enough truth to look good.  But at the end there is a twist of the knife that will sever, instead of strengthen, your God-given relationship.

Living together is a counterfeit marriage.  Your marriage has been stolen from you!  Living together is play-acting.  I know.  I did it years ago and I regret it.  It was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  If we had gotten married, we'd still be married.  Instead, we chose a counterfeit relationship, and no-one expected this counterfeit to last, and it didn't.  We had no support, and we certainly didn't have God's blessing.

Day care is a counterfeit home environment.  Harsh, but true.  Sometimes necessary, as when one spouse has died, but it is no longer a last resort, as with all previous generations.  Every day your child is away from your care and training, is a day stolen from your love and guidance.  Every child becomes like his teacher.  Don't you want to be that teacher?

Magazines and advertisements of organized closets and perfect homes are a counterfeit reality.  It's okay to look if it inspires, but when we become discontent with what we have, and especially when we go into debt to fix-up a house that the bank is probably the real owner of, we are living in a counterfeit reality.  Magazines and advertisements do not have people that occupy the homes.  There are only 4 outfits in the closets, and the make-believe child only owns 3 old-fashioned toys.  How many hours do you spend watching HGTV living in a counterfeit reality instead of just simply cleaning and clearing out the space your currently live in?  (I know, I was on that kick, too.)

Pornography and fornication is a counterfeit of true love.

Has your peaceful house been stolen by the lie of perfection?
Has your mind been stolen by the lie of ungodly lyrics?
Has your peace been stolen by the lie of idolatry?
Has your life time been stolen by the lie of more money?

This will ring TRUTH for some.  I know, because for many of these, someone had to suggest to me I might be living in Satan’s counterfeit plan.  I looked good on the surface…but I didn’t have God’s peace.

Ask God to open your eyes to Satan’s lies in your life…and to open your eyes to HIS TRUTH.  Amazing things can happen! 

Stormie: A Story of Forgiveness and HealingThe riveting book “Stormie” by Stormie Omartian was my first glimpse into taking a critical look at the life I had created and weeding out all of Satan’s lies.  When she talked about taking a look at all of the items in her home that were idols or offensive to God, she threw them out.  I put down her book and took a look at my own home.  I was keeping pagan gods in my home because they were a gift!  They were on my dishtowels, masks, decorative trays, pictures, calendars.  When I rid my home of these items, I then went through my music albums.  Then movies.  Then I was able to take a look at what I did with my time.  

We are all prone to Satan’s counterfeits.  There’s an old saying that if he can’t make you sin, he’ll make you busy.  We all fight it.  I pray that you will right now, take a look around your house and at how you spend your time alone, with your children, and with your husband, and ask for God to show you His truth, to take any blinders off your eyes so you can live in peace and truth.  We all need to do this periodically.  May God bless you as you walk with Him!


The Bird in the Tree

Carol Joy Seid said that one of her favorite authors was Elizabeth Goudge.  I had never heard of her so I requested The Bird in the Tree from my library.  I was impressed and I'm looking forward to reading the sequel.  (Update - the two sequels are even better than this one!) 

Should she leave her children and a husband she never loved for her "true love" now that she had found him? 

Now this may seem like a novel you wouldn't want to read, but I couldn't put it down, and I don't normally read fiction!  I read for days.  The "question" is just one part of several well-written and riveting plots. The book is definitely not "fluff" or "twaddle"!  It is so well written (as is her book The Scent of Water) that it reminds me of Jane Austen, in that nothing really dramatic happens in the books, but you can't put them down, you just turn page after page, and there is a depth there that is lacking in most books published today.  You think about the books for days after you finish them.

I especially liked it because Lucilla is creating a serene home for her grandchildren.

A few quotes that I think are worth considering:

"I've a right to be happy," she thought.   "What right?" asked the voice in her mind.  "Why you, more than your children, or Georgie?" page 441.

"Life is rather an unhappy affair, dear," said Lucilla.  "And it's just as well to face this fact.  It's essentially sad, woven of grey stuff; yet embroidered with such bright flowers."  page 471.

It was that declaration of Nadine's, that she wanted 'to live her own life' that had exasperated Lucilla beyond anything else...For whose lives could they live except their own?  Everyone must look after something in this world and why were they living their lives if they looked after antique furniture, petrol pumps, or parrots, and not when they looked after husbands, children, or aged parents? page 133.

Why indeed?  Why do people tell homemakers, "You are wasting your life," or "You are wasting your education at home," if we choose to care for our homes and families instead of other people's homes and families?  

I'd rather teach my own child than 37 students.  
I'd rather cook for my own family than 100 strangers.  
I'd rather care for my aging parents than work in a hospital. 
I'd rather keep my own home clean and organized than cleaning up and organizing for clients.  
I'd rather stick to our little budget than do accounting for the wealthy or corporations.  
I'd rather make our home life rich than spend all my energy at the office, no matter how big the paycheck!

I'm not saying these things are wrong, and we do need some women in these paid positions, but I am offended when people display disdain at my decision to "keep house."  

I am very happy to be at home!


Creating a Beautiful Home

I am giving away my own copy of "Creating a Beautiful Home" by Alexandra Stoddard because it worked for me. (Contest is over now)

I read this book about two years ago and as I went through the chapters I kept a list of potential changes I would like to make.  Each chapter discusses a room and has a list of ideas for your own home.

I love to read books like these, but rarely do they have suggestions that might really work for me.

I know this book did, because when I picked up the book last month and looked over my list, I discovered that I had implemented almost all of the (practical) changes!  I had forgotten that I even had the list.  Writing things down truly is powerful.

This is when I knew that I had to give this book away to bless someone else.

If you are a subscriber and would like a chance to win this book on November 10, 2012, please leave me a comment and I'll put your name in the hat.


Once I left work to stay home with my baby, none of my clothes fit.  No more cute suits.  No sleep, therefore no make-up...you many know what I mean.

But a few years ago I met a beautiful woman at my new homeschooling group.  She has a positive attitude, gracious spirit, and an obvious love of her darling husband (DH), but she also dressed cute and stylish.  I, was trying to cover up, spend no money on myself (now living on one income), and dress modestly. 

With Christmas money I went to a fairly expensive chain store.  My money didn't go far but I matched and felt good - navy pants, top & lace overshirt.  I asked my DH how he liked it and he replied, "Nice, but not very sexy."

SEXY?  I'm not trying to be sexy!  I'm going about in the world trying to dress nice and modestly!

But then it hit me - I had lost my ideal - to be sexy for my darling husband.  My beautiful friend was wearing clothes that pleased her husband.  She dressed for him. 

Let's Eat Out by Elvgren
I was finding the modest/sexy dichotomy difficult.  As a mom and a Christian, I wanted to be "angelic."  Not worldly and caught up in fashions.  But MY modest dress was too unbecoming.

As a wife, especially when at home, I needed to be attractive to my husband.  I rarely left the home without make-up, but I'd be a mess until 3:00 pm with all the chores and homeschooling to be done.  I really needed to do better with caring for myself first thing in the morning.  It's cold on winter mornings, so if I wanted to stay in PJs until noon, they needed to be darling pajamas, and/or PJs I could open the door while wearing.

The picture I chose for my blog represents me well.  A brunette pouting that my cooking skills aren't yet up to par (but trying!).  An attractive but fairly modest dress, looking kinda sexy for hubby. I found a pretty undergarment line that matches my personality.  I was horrified at the name, Jezebel, but I love how they make me look. 

My husband  is glad that I am no longer hiding from him, but dressing FOR him.  And as an added plus, I have found that I am more motivated to eat better!

Looking good IS a big part of learning how to "keep house!"


11 Products That Help Me Keep My House Clean

picture of Audrey Hepburn
 from Fabbrunette.com
1)  Goo Gone.  I lived with an old, sticky mark from masking tape on a wood door for 9 YEARS.  It was there when I moved in. I had tried cleaners and a razor blade but to no avail.  One day my darling child stepped in gum on our front walk.  I got out the "goo-be-gone" (as I called it) and quickly cleaned up his shoe and the sidewalk within minutes.  Then I looked at that sticky mark on the door at zapped it with GOO GONE and it disappeared in seconds.  Nine years and it required a 30-second fix.  Also works GREAT on removing stickers from items.  Highly recommend you keep some in your cabinet!

2) Shark's PURPLE floor sweeper.  I use this several times a week to vacuum my entire house within 30 minutes.  This is for hardwood and vinyl floors - NOT for carpets.  I do use it on area rugs and kitchen rugs, but it would not clean a carpeted house.  I think it holds a 45 minute charge and has a nifty release button for dumping the dust (but I still have to pick up the bottom sweeper and dump that, too).  Do not get their GREEN one!  It doesn't hold a charge the full 30 minutes, it doesn't have the release button and it broke after 3 months (3 days after Target's return policy expired).  So don't buy these at Target.  Get it at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon.  SO worth the money because it is easy, light, and gets the job done quickly (I hate to vacuum with a heavy vacuum.)  One problem is that after 3 years my handle broke in half.  Now it is "kid-sized" and whenever our neighbor's daughter is over I just have to say, "Who wants to vacuum?" and they both come running, fighting over who gets to vacuum which room!  Well worth the money!

3) Magic Eraser.  Incredible!  Pencil marks on walls that were there for 3 years gone in minutes!  A wall that had an ugly mark from moving furniture disappeared in seconds!  Soap scum from the shower doors gone in less than a minute!  I do wear gloves when I use this product.  I use the Target brand.  So worth having on hand.

4) Mr. Clean's Magic Eraser Mop.  When we put in a white vinyl kitchen floor I cried that night, knowing I'd made a huge mistake.  I wanted to lighten up the room.  But I realized that this floor, that I thought I was so careful in choosing for its "cush" and finish, was going to be a big pain in the neck to keep clean.  It was.  We use at least 3 rugs near the fridge, stove and sink.  Mopping has been a nightmare. Until I found Mr. Clean and his Magic Eraser Mop.  I buy a new head for $8 every month at Target and it is money well spent because my floor sparkles after I use it!

5) Command brand Damage-Free Hanging.  Someone left a package of these on the free table and they were an answer to prayer!  Seriously!  I had been asking God how to handle my cord problem in my front room because the mess distressed me.  It took me longer than I care to admit how to decipher the instructions on the package, but once I tried to assemble, it was a cinch.  I immediately put these little white hangers every few inches on my white baseboard and attached the white cord into them and it magically blended into the wall and I no longer see the cords.  I also hung up a red streamer birthday banner that covers the entrance to my son's room that children love to run through.  Each year it fell down with the thumbtacks.  This year - perfection.  Birthday swirling streamers that hang from our dining room that always fell when the a/c or heat went on now stay up without a problem.  And the little clips are also EASILY removable when you want to remove them!  I am SO impressed with them.

6)  Self-Stick Felt for the bottom of chairs, dressers, tables, magazine racks, and pretty much anything that sits on the floor.  If you didn't already know, felt on the bottom makes anything heavy easy to move across a room.  I like to clean behind my bed headboard.  Simple now.  Change the furniture around?  No problem - it just glides across my hardwood floors.  Dining room chairs - much easier to get in and out of.  I paid $3.50 for a box of 113 at Big Lots.

7) Foaming Bleach.  I have been battling mold and grime in my shower because I can't stand bleach.  My dear friend, of whom I asked advice because her house is always immaculate and she had recommended to  me #2 and #3, said I'd have to buckle down and do it.  She recommended foaming bleach (I used the one with the happy Scrubbing Bubbles on them).  I sprayed and left it on for 3 hours.  Then I rinsed and sprayed again.  Left for 2 hours.  Rinsed and used #8 for the final job.  She said I might have to do this for 7 days.  But I don't see why.  It's so clean!  But perhaps it won't last?  Time will tell.  (By the way, she recommended CLR for some other problem spots that I haven't got to yet.)

8) Bleach Grout Pen by Tilex.  This was perfect for filling in the the spots that #7 didn't work on.  Loved it!  I used #3 on the shower doors.  I have a new shower! 

9) Razor Blade.  I use my razor blade in the kitchen whenever I am on a long call.  My cabinets are from the 1970's - a pretty wood, but was covered in grease when I moved in.  Took me YEARS to remove it all.  I scrubbed with several products and then finally got out the blade.  I use it to scrape off grime, easily chip off dried food splatters, specks of old paint from window glass, and grime from corners.  One night on the phone I scraped my entire bread board (which is not used for food - it's an extended counter space).  Has saved my sanity many times.

10) Playtex's Dishwashing Gloves.  I like this brand because it is thick.  (However, I still cannot wash knives in them.)  Because I keep my gloves out I am much more likely to clean up the kitchen timely after meals and snacks.  I detest dirty dishes, but with my gloves it is no longer a big deal.  My kitchen is much cleaner when I use them.

11) Vinegar.  I no longer use white vinegar in my cooking, but I sure use it in my cleaning!  Mirrors, glass (careful not to spray on wood), down sinks with baking soda, and as a fabric softener in my clothes washer.

I have also found that wearing a beautiful and becoming apron for cleaning (not cooking) helps me keep in "clean" mode and keeps me from getting side-tracked.

I hope this helps you!


Home Comforts


A Prayer for a Little Home

God, send us a little home 
to come back to when we roam.
Wooden floors and fluted tiles,
wide windows, a view for miles.

Red firelight and deep chairs, small white beds upstairs.
Great talk in little nooks, soft colors, rows of books.
One picture on each wall, not so many things at all.

God, send us a little ground, tall trees stand ’round.
Homely flowers in fertile sod, overhead, thy stars, O God.

God bless thee when winds blow, Our home and all we know.    ~Florence Bone

I moved into a cluttered home (and brought lots with me) which I wrote about here: http://keeping-house.blogspot.com/2011/04/learning-to-love-small-house.html.  I’ve been moving the clutter out for 9 years now.  Now the layer that is being removed is the baby-stage equipment, toys and clothes.  But I still need encouragement and know-how, and Cheryl Mendelson has helped me run my home better.

Inspiring Quotes from
Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House

Cheryl Mendelson, in Home Comforts, states: “…people are led into the error of playing house instead of keeping house by a genuine desire for a home and its comforts. Nostalgia means, literally, homesickness.  

What really does work to increase the feeling of having a home and its comforts is housekeeping.  Housekeeping creates cleanliness, order, regularity, beauty, the conditions for health and safety, and a good place to do and feel all the things you wish and need to do and feel in your home.   …it is your housekeeping that makes your home alive…a vital place…where you can be more yourself than you can be anywhere else.

Despite these rewards, American housekeeping and home life are in a state of decline. Comfort and engagement at home have diminished to the point that even simple cleanliness and decent meals – let alone any deeper satisfactions – are no longer taken for granted. Dirt, dust and disorder are more common…

Bedding decreases in refinement, freshness, and comfort, even as sales of linens, pillows, and comforters increase.  It is not in goods that the contemporary household is poor, but in comfort and care.

Many people lead deprived lives in houses filled with material luxury.

As people turn more to outside institutions to have their needs met (for food, comfort, clean laundry, relaxation, entertainment, society, rest), domestic skills …further diminish, in turn decreasing the chance that people’s homes can satisfy their needs. 

The result is far too many people who long for home even though they seem to have one."

Her Solution

"…What a traditional woman did that made her home warm and alive was not dusting and laundry… Her real secret was that she identified herself with her home… Her affection was in the soft sofa cushions, clean linens, and good meals; her memory in well-stocked storeroom cabinets and the pantry; her intelligence in the order and healthfulness of her home; her good humor in its light and air…

You can enjoy keeping house. No one is too superior or intelligent to care for hearth and home… Each of its regular routines brings satisfaction when it is completed. These routines echo the rhythm of life, and the rhythm of the body. You get satisfaction not only from the sense of order, cleanliness, freshness, peace, and plenty restored, but from knowing you and those you care about are going to enjoy these benefits.

Warmhearted, reasonably organized people…tend to keep well-functioning, cheerful, and welcoming homes, while people who live from one crisis to the next have homes filled with crises and chaos.

All of us who really do enjoy living in a well-kept home can come to enjoy the rituals of its care.  The act of taking care of our homes brings comfort and consolation…”

I quoted just a few paragraphs of the first chapter “My Secret Life” and the second chapter “Routines” of an almost 900 page book.  Ms. Mendelson has help regarding Beginnings, Food, Cloth, Cleanliness, Daily Life, Sleep, Safe Shelter, and Formalities.  Frankly, the first 3 chapters alone justified my buying the book!  This is a book for the serious homemaker.


Our Child...Our Bed?

In my view, we have done a radical thing.  We have moved our child’s bed into our bedroom.
photo credit
Many women are screeching right now.  But we are getting a fantastic night’s sleep!  Deep sleep.  Contented sleep.  No waking up in the middle of the night sleep.  No little footsteps padding into our bedroom and snuggling into bed with us.

It all started with a nightmare, that our boy still tells in great detail.  Or did it start with the big boy bed? 

My sweet husband, when our child first crawled into bed with us at age 3, said, “I don’t get to see him enough during the day.  I want to snuggle him.”  I told him he’d regret it.  He swears he didn’t regret it, but he was getting tired of being whacked in the face with a stray arm, and kicked in the side to warm little toes.  He would joke that he was going to put his bed in our closet so that he could get a good night’s sleep.

But that got my mind jumping.  Why not?  Why not give up the tiny sitting room I had created to hide out in and read in peace?  Would his bed fit?  Would he stay in it all night?

And then I remembered that Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family said that when he was young (but old enough to have vivid memories), his bed was in his parents’ bedroom.  He remembers waking up in the middle of the night and calling, “Daddy,” and his dad would reach out and hold his little hand in his big one.  He said it was so comforting.  

Well if Dr. Dobson slept in his parent’s bedroom, why couldn’t our son?  We got out the tape measure, mapped the room, made a few changes, and voila!  Everyone is sleeping peacefully at our house.

I know that it is a bit extreme, but when you’ve been awakened almost every night for three years, you take extreme measures!  At my mom’s group…every single mother in the room admitted their child/ren crawled into bed with them at night!  One woman said that her daughter's bed is also in their room.  She's 7, and has been in their room since she was adopted 6 years ago.  She also mentioned that this was the norm for the culture she came from.  So maybe it isn't radical after all. 

Now I know many don’t have a large enough bedroom to do this, and many won’t want to, and many will think I am being foolish. 

But when I told my parents, my 81 year old father got tears in his eyes and said, “That is a good thing to do. You won’t regret it.  That is so loving.  You are very loving parents.” 

I’ll bask in my dad’s praise, even though I know I’ll some flack from a few friends and relatives.

UPDATE - one day when he climbed into our bed I climbed into his for the night.  I was shocked at what I discovered - his room was the coldest in the house, and his mattress was hard as a rock.  So he is still in our room, but we bought him a "Cuddle Ewe" mattress cover, and a new pillow, plus a warmer blanket, and he sleeps all night long...in his own bed.


The Reading Mother

photo credi
Strickland Gillilan's (1869–1954) poem often floats through my mind.  

But then I realized I didn't even know just what books Mr. Gillilan was referring to!  

Here's what I found out: 

I had a mother who read to me 
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea.
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth;
"Blackbirds" stowed in the hold beneath.

"The "blackbirds" referred to in the Gillilan quote above, incidentally, were human cargo stolen from slavers." R.L. SCHREADLEY  article.  At first I thought Gillilan was referring to Treasure Island or Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson.  But T.I. was first published on May 23, 1883, when Gillilan was 14, and I don't remember anything about these pirates being slave runners.

I think it is more likely Gillilan was referring to "A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the most notorious Pyrates" a 1724 book published in Britain, containing biographies of pirates, that was wildly popular (notice the "sagas of pirates" - plural).  I suspect Gillilan's favorite was about Blackbeard, since he was running at the same time as the slave traders, but since I haven't read the biography, I don't know.

Amazingly, the facts of the book have been proven accurate (though probably not the pirates conversations).  In 1925 the pirate historian Philip Gosse wrote:
"Not a long while ago it was the custom to smile indulgently at Johnson's History as being a mixture of fact and fancy, but from time to time old documents have been rescued from some dusty nook of oblivion which have proved his good faith. Many of the incidents looked upon as imaginary are found all to be absolutely accurate in date and circumstance". (Wikipedia)
I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

On my own bookshelf I have an old book with hand-cut pages and no publishing date called "The Golden Age" by Kenneth Grahame (of The Wind in the Willows fame).  I perused this book, wondering if Gillian had read it, but when I googled it, I realized it was published too late - 1895.  It's noteworthy as "Grahame casts his reminiscences in imagery and metaphor rooted in the culture of Ancient Greece; to the children whose impressions are recorded in the book, the adults in their lives are "Olympians," while the chapter titled "The Argonauts" refers to Perseus, Apollo, Psyche, and similar figures of Greek mythology. Grahame's reminiscences, in The Golden Age and in the later Dream Days (1898), were notable for their conception "of a world where children are locked in perpetual warfare with the adult 'Olympians' who have wholly forgotten how it feels to be young" — a theme later explored by J. M. Barrie and other authors." (Wikipedia)  Gillilan's mother must have read him mythology. 

Marmion is an epic poem by Walter Scott about the Battle of Flodden Field (1513), and was published in 1808.  You can read all about it here. 

Ivanhoe is an historical fiction novel by Sir Walter Scott published in 1820, and set in 12th-century England. It is sometimes credited for increasing interest in Romanticism and Medievalism.  The character Ivanhoe, though of a more noble lineage than some of the other characters, represents a middling individual in the medieval class system who is not exceptionally outstanding in his abilities, as is expected of other quasi historical fictional characters, such as the Greek heroes. (Wikipedia) 

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness lent with his final breath.

Gelert is the name of a legendary dog associated with the village of Beddgelert (whose name means "Gelert's Grave" but note that it is now accepted that the village of Beddgelert took its name from an early saint named Kilart or Celert, rather than from the dog) in Gwynedd, northwest Wales.  Here, the dog is alleged to have belonged to Llywelyn the Great, Prince of Gwynedd, and to have been a gift from King John of England.

In this legend, Llywelyn returns from hunting to find his baby's cradle overturned, the baby missing and the dog with blood around its mouth. Imagining that it has savaged the child, Llywelyn draws his sword and kills the dog, which lets out a final dying yelp. He then hears the cries of the baby and finds it unharmed under the cradle, along with a dead wolf which had attacked the child and been killed by Gelert. Llywelyn is then overcome with remorse and he buries the dog with great ceremony, yet can still hear the dying yelp. After that day Llywelyn never smiles again. (Wikipedia).  Also see Wikipedia for to view the painting Gelert by Charles Burton Barber. 

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings-
Stories that stir with an upward touch.
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

For us that means wholesome stories, such as Uncle Arthur's Bedtime Stories.  Stories that have proven true with time, are uplifting, and make our children think. 

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.

Richer than I you can never be --
I had a Mother who read to me.

I want to be this kind of mother.


Hurry, Scurry, Fret and Worry

A. Sarnoff

You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, training them up in God's fear, minding the house, and making your household a church for God as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of Hosts~Charles Spurgeon
Martha and Mary

Martha was busy!  Mary was, too.
Jesus might visit before they were through!

“Swish, swish, sweep” went Martha’s broom.
As Martha went to work, her face showed gloom.

“Flap, flap, Flip” went the rugs Mary shook.
As Mary went to work with a cheerful look.

Soon Jesus came in the big front door.
Mary was quiet, while Martha worked more.

Hurry-scurry-fret-and-worry Martha rushed around.
Doing helpful things for Jesus, while peaceful Mary just sat down.

“Get up, Mary! Help me!” the frowning Martha said.
“If you don’t work and help me, we won’t get Jesus fed.”

Jesus looked at Martha with eyes that seemed quite sad.
“Martha, sit with Mary if you want to make Me glad!

“Work is important, too, and you will get it done.
But first take time to worship God – He is Number One!”

Then Martha saw the mistake she’d been making –
She’d only had time for cleaning and baking!

Jesus and Mary showed Martha the way.
To learn of the Lord before work each day.

(Week 16, Day 5, from ACE K manual.)

Jesus smiled tenderly and looked at Martha who was hot and sweaty and nervous and upset from running around the room. “Martha, Martha, you are so worried with running around and troubled about doing things.”

Martha looked embarrassed.  “But I want You to be pleased with me so I do many things.  I want to work and work and work for You, Jesus!”

Jesus smiled a big, wide open smile at Martha.  “Martha, you only need to do one thing right now.”

“What’s that?” Martha asked softly.

“You need to choose to spend time with Me, like Mary does,” Jesus replied.

“But the house! Who will get Your water and Your bread?  What about all the work I must do?”

Jesus looked at Martha with kindness.  “Martha.  People will eat up your loaves of bread.  Your water will soon be all used up, too.  Your clean house will get dirty again very soon.  The things you are so worried about are not as important as spending time with Me.”

Martha began to look very sad and a tear ran down her cheek. 

“Martha, no one can take away the things I tell you about God.  God’s love will never be used up!”

(This excerpt is from the Kindergarten manual for Accelerated Christian Education, Week 16, Day 4.  We loved ACE K so much that we did the stories twice – at age 4 & again at age 6.)

If you make time for reading, writing, and arithmetic, but not Bible reading, you’ve failed to teach what really matters.  The pilgrims were adamant at teaching reading for one reason only – to read the Bible.  Don’t neglect Bible reading!  Do you ignore food all day long?  Or do you need to eat?

If you keep a clean home, but haven’t taught your child about Christ, you’ve failed homemaking.  If you haven’t modeled Christian behavior and teachings, you aren’t living the Christian life.  If you don’t invite the Holy Spirit to live in your home, if you don’t teach your children God’s truths, if you don’t know Christian doctrine….then get busy and make some radical changes in your home life!  Only one life, ’twill soon be past.  Only what’s done for Christ will last.   ~C.T. Studd  I have this hanging above my desk to remind me to focus on what is really important.

I’ve already listed wonderful Bible story books on the Life - In Order post to share with your children.  Once you make time for deeper reading for yourself as well as what you teach them, you will find yourself growing by leaps and bounds. 

You may begin with 3-5 minutes, or a few verses, but that is really for someone who has been really resistant; it gets you kick-started.  Three to four chapters a day will find you going through the Bible within one year, and you will gain so much knowledge, and love.



Monday Morning by Sarnoff
How will you spend your year?

It took me about 40 minutes to really think how I was going to fit everything I say I want to do into one week.  I finally came up with:

11:00 – 8:00 SLEEP.  Yes, we need 9 hours. 

8:00 – Get ready – this includes breakfast, exercise, and dressing/hair/make-up/jewelry.
 9:00 – I determined that right now, I can only homeschool 3 days a week in order to keep on top of everything.  By this I mean h.s. that is structured, with my reading lessons to him and supervising every letter my kindergartner is writing.  The other days still have books on tape, Classical Conversations songs, reading before bed, reading to self, and practicing writing.  But I need the other 2 days to go grocery shopping, run errands, make meals, declutter, do chores, and do laundry.  Or to go to the park before lunch, when it is uncrowded and the sunshine makes the whole world look beautiful. 

Monday will still be my grocery day – but mainly Monday will be an AT-HOME day. 

Something new I am going to try is to begin preparing dinner at 1:00 p.m.  I find that so many things can keep (like salad), or can steep (like soup), that to make it early will help me not to resort to quick dinners. I find myself so hungry that I don't give enough thought to a balanced meal.  I'm hoping this will change that bad habit.

From 2:00 – 5:00 on Mondays only I plan on tackling my Home Beautification Projects.  Most of my projects now include painting – and I need more than 15 minutes a day to complete them.  Since I’m used to the idea of At-Home Mondays, I’ll know not to schedule anything and I feel confident that I’ll be completing a lot of home projects and decluttering this year.  (Update - 3 years later & at-home Mondays still work)

5:00 – I’ll have a mountain of laundry to fold, and my little one and I are enjoying old b&w t.v. shows, like Dennis the Menace.
6:00 – Dinner every night at 6:00 except on Wednesdays.
7:00 – I needed to schedule internet & blog reading or writing time.  It has to take the place of something.  My DH loves to watch movies at night, but I can only handle that 3 times a week.  The way the schedule is set up, they are interchangeable. 
9:00 – Shower, read to son
10:00 – Bible study and reading books
11:00 – Lights out




CC Lunch
Prepare D.


Or Park
Pictures or


Or Mom’s


& Blogs
or workon


& Yard
Or project
Prepare D.

Drive time








Tuesdays we’ll be at Classical Conversations.  .
Wednesdays will be homeschooling, more house care & laundry, plus AWANA.
Thursday will be errand and park day (We count down our errands, with the last being the PARK!) or we will go visit my parents.  It is a good day to have playdates.
Fridaythe biggest change I’m making is on Fridays.  Fridays have always been Fun Day.  But with no structured h.s. on Monday – now Friday needs it.  I hope to spend most Fridays at home now, with Thursdays being more of a fun day.  I also hope to have time to work on family albums and genealogies.  Every year I say I’m going to work on this – but the time always gets eaten up.  I hope this is the year to make a few albums that my son has requested, and complete the family histories. 

The one thing that hasn’t been scheduled is family fun.  I find that whatever I’m doing, I always have a buffer so that I can play board games, card games, read aloud, etc.  And you’ll notice that Saturdays and most of Sundays are free to be with family. 

If you plan it…it will turn out a whole lot better than just hoping to get things done!   Blessings on you in the new year!