The Wednesday Five | Vol. 6



A Quote

"The woods are so human that to know them one must live with them.  An occasional saunter through them, keeping to the well-trodden paths, will never admit us to their intimacy,  If we wish to be friends, we must seek them out and win them by frequent, reverent visits at all hours, by morning, by noon, and by night; and at all seasons, in spring, in summer, in autumn, in winter...They have their own effective way of keeping aliens at a distance and shutting their hearts to mere casual sightseers.  It is no use to seek the woods from any motive except sheer love of them; they will find us out at once and hide all their sweet, old-world secrets from us.  But if they know we come to them because we love them, they will be very kind to us and give us such treasures of beauty and delight as are not bought or sold in any marketplace."
- Lucy Maud Montgomery, The Blue Castle

A little anthropomorphizing of the woods for you this morning, ha!  I always like L. M Montgomery's fanciful descriptions in her books though, and this one was sweet and a little true, I thought.

A Book

So, I started reading Little Women, which I've never actually read.  You are all welcome to be shocked now.

A Bit Of Nature


If you wake up early enough, and keep an eye out, there is a five minute window when the light coming up over the mountains is just gorgeous.

A Recommendation

So, I thought I'd give you a couple recommendations that were given to me this week.  One is this pumpkin chili recipe.  I had friends over for a book chat this week, and the conversation turned to different chili recipes.  Pumpkin chili sounds interesting, so I think I'm going to have to try it one of these days!

The other recommendation was Wick Wish Candle Co - this company makes "literary and fandom" candles.  One of the girls brought over a couple of hers on our book chat night, so we could smell them, and they were so cool!  And weirdly they did smell like the books they were representing.  I want one now (maybe for Christmas).  The ones I smelled were "Jane Austen", "Anne Shirley", and "Little Women" and they were so good.

A Moment Of Happiness

This one is going to double as one more recommendation - if you have the room, you should consider a big dog.  Maybe a bloodhound mutt, like our Harvey.


(Harvey, crashing the pictures I was trying to take for the Stitchfix post that I keep forgetting to share!)

As I was doing my devotions this morning, our big 'ole dog came over to me and stuck his nose on top my lap, and while it can be a little annoying at times, I love how sweetly he gets his message across.  I scratched his ears and let him outside, and now he is back in, snoring behind me as I type this.  The sound makes me smile.

I love having a big dog, because whenever the kids are outside I know he is keeping an eye on them and will alert me if any strangers or questionable wildlife come too close.  And when Derek has to be gone for work trips, I honestly don't know what I'd do without Harvey - he sleeps at the foot of the stairs and makes me feel safe.  I'm really grateful for him.  He started out a little like the puppy in Marley And Me, but just like in that movie, he is a better and better dog with each year.

(If you want to join me for your own "Wednesday Five", feel free!)

Tools For A Social Media Break




I knew from the start that I wanted to completely break my phone habit with this year's social media break.  I don't like how my hand is often reaching for my hone before I even realize it, and I figured getting rid of Facebook and Instagram for a while would be the first step.

There are some complications though, with taking a break from social media.  How am I going to still share photos with my family (which is a big value of Facebook to me)?  How am I going to be able to get my blog posts to people who only read through Instagram?  How am I going to have the motivation to resist signing back in to check just "one more thing"?  And would getting rid of those two apps be enough, or would I just find other ways to waste time on my phone?

I don't want my bad habits to be diverted to other digital activities during this break.  I want to spend time doing things in the real world, and develop some "analog" skills that have been languishing for too long.

As I was mulling all that over, I found a few resources that have been or hopefully will be very helpful in making the most of my attempt to break my phone habit over the next couple months, and I wanted to share them with you here!

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport - I listened to this book in two days over the weekend, and picking this book up now was so timely for me.  Newport is talking about the very thing I've been struggling with, getting a handle on your "digital life" and making sure that the ways in which you use technology are actually serving you, instead of making you a slave to technology.  This book gave me so many things to think about, and strategies for making sure that I break my phone habit long-term, not just until my break is over in January.

Freedom.to - This is a tool I read about in Digital Minimalism, and I went straight home and signed up.  Freedom.to allows you to block distracting websites (specified by you) for certain blocks of time or on regular schedules (also specified by you).  I've set mine up to block time-suck websites for the hours of 9-5, Monday through Friday.  Like I said, I didn't want my bad phone habits to just get diverted to other digital time wasters, so this tool should help alot!  They are running a special right now too - you can try it monthly for $7, or get a whole year for $20!

Later.com - I mentioned in my first post about taking a social media break that I am still going to use a scheduler, to let people know that I've posted here on my blog.  This is the scheduler!  You can set it up to share to multiple social media websites (without being signed in), but the one that is most useful at this time for me is posting to my blog Instagram, because this is the only website I'm aware of that let's you schedule posts to Instagram.  I know there is a decent portion of readers (though not as many as you might think) who keep up with blogs through Instagram, and I didn't want those of you who keep up with me that way to totally miss out while I have the app removed from my phone.

Chatbooks - Another hesitation I had with giving up Instagram specifically is that I have a recurring series that automatically prints my pictures to these cute little photo books through Chatbooks.  My kids LOVE these books and are constantly carrying them around.  I was a little sad to miss a couple months of capturing our memories this way, until I remembered that you can add photos to a Chatbook manually through the app.  Did you know that?  It will take a little more intention from me to remember to add photos to the book when I don't have an instant audience or the boost of "likes", but that's also the whole point of my social media break - to be more intentional with how I'm spending my time.  I'm thinking about printing out books of the best photos from the month and sending them to our family members who really enjoy photos of the kids.  Yes, this will cost me more money, but I have to think it will mean a little more too.  (There is also just good ol' texting for sending photos, which I plan on putting to use!)



I'll write another post soon about things I'm hoping to spend time on instead of my phone, but I wanted to share these tools this morning for a few of you who I know were also considering some sort of digital break!

Do you have any other resources I should know about that are helpful for breaking bad phone habits?

Also, real quick, did you know that I actually had a newsletter for this blog?  I haven't sent a newsletter out in years, but I figured now might be a good time to dust it off.  If you need a way beside social media for keeping up with this blog, you can sign up for updates below!



See You Later, Social Media


  (Photos from our October fishing day.)

It's been growing for a while.  This uneasy relationship that has been developing between me and social media.

It all started with a blog post I read about social media addiction last year.  It opened my eyes to something that had already been eating at me.

I don't like the way I sometimes feel compelled to look at one social media platform or another.

I don't like having the weight of my phone so often in my back pocket.

I don't like how I feel...well, yucky after spending more time than I meant to browsing on Facebook or Instagram.

I don't like that feeling that I've missed out on something more important after my eyes have been glued to my phone.



For a while I wanted to be able to just cut back on my usage, set some phone time limits to help me stay off, develop better habits.  But when I take a break or set a limit for one social media platform, I find a lot of my energy is only diverted to a different one, and there I am, still wasting so much time.  Too much of my days wasted.

I'm taking a break.  A break from all social media platforms except here on my blog.  That is how it all started out anyway, right?  All these social media platforms I initially set up to help this blog are actually stealing from it in many ways now.  I am excited for the weeks ahead, to be able to put all my creative and writing energy into this space, the one that I always come back to.

So yeah.  I'm just taking an Instagram and Facebook break, and deleting 75% of the apps on my phone.  I'm not sure exactly how long I'll be off, but I imagine it will be until January so I can enjoy the Christmas season without the social media burden.  If you see updates on my blog Instagram and Facebook page, it will be automated posts that I'll be setting up through a scheduler.  I may pop on once or twice to say "Happy Thanksgiving" and "Merry Christmas", but otherwise, if you want to keep up with me, I'll be here on the blog.



I have lots of plans for what I'm hoping to accomplish with my extra time over the next one or two months.  Maybe I'll share that in another blog post next week!  But my main goal is to get rid of social media for a while, let the impulse to check it fade, so I can evaluate what, if anything, social media is actually adding to my life.  With a clear head.

I want to really look at my kids this Christmas season.  I want to take pictures of them merely because I think they are adorable, not in order to have something to share on my Instagram feed.  I want to bake, and sing, and paint, and fill photo albums, and figure out if I really can be a crafty mom, or if I'm as hopeless in that area as I always thought I was.  I want to memorize verses, and do an Advent study, and have enough blank space in my day to meditate more on what I've read.  I want to stop insta-sharing, and let things ruminate a little bit, and grow into something better so I can share the thought here, fully formed.

I want to focus more attention on my actual life instead of focusing on just making it look pretty on social media.

I love that quote from Annie Dillard that I came across earlier this year.  She said, "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

I want to spend mine on something better than Instagram.



---

Have you ever taken a social media break?  How did it go, and how long did it last?

This isn't my first break, I took a break from Facebook years ago, and again last December, but I'm looking forward to a more thorough break this time!  It's the first time I've said goodbye to Instagram since I joined.

The Wednesday Five | Vol. 5


(The Wednesday Five is back!  I started this during my October writing challenge, and I really liked it, so I'm going to try to write one each week.  Feel free to snag the prompts and join if you want!  I originally got the inspiration from a similar series on The Autumn Girl, and then Robin at Grace Enough and Ashley at The Big White Farmhouse have joined in with their own versions too!)

A Quote

"We are all worms.  But I do believe I am a glowworm."-Winston Churchill

Good ole Winston.

A Book

After wanting to read it for years, last night I finally picked up the first in C.S. Lewis's space trilogy, Out Of The Silent Planet.  Have any of you read it?  I've heard it has a lot of the same charm as The Chronicles Of Narnia, and if that's true, I'm here for it!

A Bit Of Nature


This tree produces the prettiest pine cones, and my kids even extracted the seeds from one of them.

A Recommendation

(Referral link below.)

I have mentioned before that I subscribed to Skylar's scent club in the spring.  It's $20 a month, and they send you a roller ball with a seasonal scent (it's also supposed to be "natural" and "clean", if that matters to you).  Basically I am a sucker for anything that smells good, and I've really been enjoying it!

Anyway, I have to say, I love the scents they have sent out this fall.  November's is "By Firelight" and it's a smokey-spiced-honey sort of smell.  It's so good.  I really wish they would let you buy extras of your favorites from the scent club, I'm going to be sad when I run out.

A Moment Of Happiness


After letting my kids watch too much TV last week, I'm re-imposing screen time limits this week.  They played hard yesterday, and I finally let them watch a show last night.  I picked an animated version of Ken Ham's "D Is For Dinosaur" which is one of those shows that has a calming influence on my kids (rather than hyping them up).  I turned the corner, and there they were, my gaggle of children sprawled out in the playroom, watching their movie.  And for a second I just had a flashback to when it was hard to get pregnant and I wished for a handful of pajama-clad kids to be watching a cartoon in the next room while I cooked dinner.  They are often boisterous, and rowdy, and tiring; and also sweet, and precious, and my dream come true.  I don't want to ever forget that.


The Real Reason Why We Homeschool



"So, why did you decide to homeschool?"

I've been asked this question many times over the last several years, and sometimes it feels like a loaded question.  My standard answer has been that I was homeschooled myself and always knew that I wanted to homeschool too.  It's my non-confrontational, let's-not-get-too-far-into-this answer.  People can potentially get pretty fired up over educational choices, so I've fallen back to citing my own experience in an attempt to not rock too many boats.

But the truth is my standard reply is not really a real answer.  It's not a real "why".  "I always knew I would homeschool" is not a reason that gets you through the hard days when you wonder if it would have been easier to just put them on the big yellow bus.

If you know a homeschool mom, even one who grew up homeschooled like me, homeschooling is not the default choice.  You have to be a little bit of a rebel to homeschool, and you have to have a reason why you think it's better.  That might ruffle some feathers, but I do think it's a necessary ingredient to homeschool successfully.  As a homeschool parent, you have to have a solid reason why you think homeschooling is the better choice for your family in order to stick with it, because it's not easy.  That reason might vary from family to family, but you need one.

It occurred to me that maybe I’m not doing anyone any favors by not getting into the full reason why we homeschool.  So in this post I wanted to be little more up-front by sharing mine.



The main reason why we homeschool is because it is very important to us to protect my kids' childhood, and to train our children up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  And we think homeschooling is the educational choice that is most conducive to those goals.

There are a lot of reasons we choose to homeschool and think it’s beneficial, but this is our most important one.

First, let's talk about protecting our kids' childhood.

Your mind probably jumps first to protecting their innocence, and that is part of what I mean here.  With things like comprehensive sex education and a rampant por.nog.raphy problem among younger and younger kids, if I can "shelter" my children from those things from a while, you bet I'm going to.  But there are other aspects of a childhood to protect as well.

To me, homeschooling is more conducive to protecting childhood in the matter of simple time.  I want my kids to have chunks of their day with time to play together, to read books for no other reason than interest, to explore God’s creation, to build something with their hands.  I want them to have time to connect meaningfully with the rest of the family each day, to be creative, to get bored, and time to just be.  To be a kid.  

I knew from my own homeschool student experience that homeschooling takes much less time (I found the estimates in this post to be pretty accurate), and there is obviously no homework.  That leaves my kids more time in their day to experience all the fun of childhood.  I wouldn't trade that for anything.



My second reason is that I want to train my kids up in the fear and admonition of the Lord.

As a Christian parent, I believe it is my duty to train and instruct my children in the faith.  This is backed up by Scripture.

"And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.  You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes.  You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." Deuteronomy 6:6-9

And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4

We will not hide them from their children, but will declare to the next generation the praises of the LORD and His might, and the wonders He has performed. Psalm 78:4

There is no shirking this duty to teach the next generation about the Lord, whether our kids are homeschooled or go to public or private school.  My greatest desire for my children is that they would repent of their sins and trust in Jesus as their Savior, and that they would want to serve Him with their whole lives.  My goal as a Christian parent is to do everything I can to bring my kids to Christ and encourage them in living their lives for Him.

In my experience, homeschooling is more conducive to training my children in the faith because I have the freedom as a homeschool parent to integrate this instruction into every aspect of their education.  Every subject they are learning is an opportunity to also point them to the Giver of all knowledge.  

"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."  Proverbs 9:10

It is a huge perk to me that homeschooling allows us to start with a biblical foundation for our kids' education and build their faith along with their studies, as long as I am faithful in teaching them this way.




A Few Things I Am Not Saying

You should know that I am NOT saying that if you send your kids to school, you are not doing a good job training your children up in the faith.  I don't believe that at all.  I know many godly, Christian parents who don't homeschool and are doing a great job with their kids.  But it also can't be denied that there is a more limited window of time in which to train them up in the faith when they are at school most of each weekday.  I don't believe education is neutral - all instruction is guided by a worldview, one which may or may not be biblical.  You can be successful in training up your kids in the faith with any educational road you may choose, but some roads are going to have more obstacles to work around than others.  Personally, I would rather go with the road with less obstacles.

I am not saying that if you don’t homeschool your kids won’t have a childhood.  I am saying that it might take more vigilance and intention and effort to protect innocence and time to be a kid when they are at school for much of the day.

I am not criticizing anyone for making a different educational choice, and I’m not criticizing teachers.  I'm fully aware that not everyone is able to homeschool, and I personally know many public and private school teachers who care about their students.  Parents I respect may come to a different conclusion about what they should do about their child's education, and that's ultimately up to you as a parent.  This post is not meant to be taken as a criticism.  I’m only hoping to share a few of my honest thoughts about an educational choice (homeschooling) that is certainly not the road of least resistance, though I may have given that impression with my standard answer in the past. 




When it comes down to it, I think people ask me this question because homeschooling is a novelty still.  Public or private school has been the default option for many people, and they wonder why someone would choose something different.  My hope in sharing my honest thoughts here is to bolster anyone who may be thinking about homeschooling, and to provide more meaningful insight as to why someone would choose to homeschool for those who have not thought about it seriously before.  You may disagree with my reasons, and that's fine, but this is why we have made the decision to homeschool our kids.



Maybe I should turn the tables next time and ask "Why did you decide to send your kids to school?"  That might make for an interesting conversation, ha!

If you are a homeschool parent, what is your main reason for homeschooling?

Currently... | November 2019


Wearing: These new duck boots that I ordered here.  At first I felt a little clunky in them.  But I know they will be great for ice and snow this winter, so I kept them and they've been growing on me!



Drinking: Coffee with a splash of half-and-half.  Derek and I made a no-fancy-coffee pact for the month of November, and I'm trying my hardest to stick to it.  It is embarrassing how much I can spend in one month on just coffee!

Picking: Rock for behind the new wood stove that Derek is installing this week.  Our old house had a wood stove, and I loved that thing.  It added a coziness to the living room and was a life-saver when the power would go out.  I could even cook on it!  We decided we wanted one in our new house too, but I had a terrible time picking out the rock for it.  Our old wood stove had this really pretty grayish natural rock behind it, with lichen even growing on the rock, and it was so pretty.  But real rock is expensive, and fake rock doesn't grow lichen.  I made a decision though, and Derek took the week off to get the rock up!  It's going to look good I think.



Reading: Long Before Luther by Nathan Busenitz. The subtitle is "tracing the heart of the gospel from Christ to the Reformation", and it looks really fascinating!  I just started it.



Preparing: For the girls' birthday party this Saturday.  I have struggled for a long time on how to handle birthday parties with five kids.  Five individual parties each year was out of the question, but I also didn't want them to never have a birthday party during their growing up years.  I still don't know exactly what my plan is, but this year I decided we'd do one combined party for the girls, and one for the boys in the spring.  The girls requested a "princess tea party" birthday.  I just ordered candy canes so I can hot glue the curved part onto plastic cups - you know, to make little "tea cups".  I'm fancy like that.  Hey, you would be shocked how hard and expensive it is to find a basic teacup these days, so I had to improvise!

Feeling: Like I need next week off after all this party prep.  But moms don't get vacation time.

Trying: To be more consistent in my Bible reading.  I typically wake up before the kids each morning to read, which works great when I can make it happen.  However, I'm finding that other days the kids pull me in a million directions right after I wake up, which leads me to sometimes forget.  I've been feeling especially spiritually weary lately, and I know it's because I haven't had enough consistency in my daily quiet time.  This week I've been settling the kids with their breakfast and sneaking away while they eat, and that seems to be working better!

Following: Speaking of Bible reading, I started this Bible reading plan in earnest, and I am loving it.  It's been a while since I tried to read the Bible within a certain time frame. At first I was a little intimidated by the sheer volume of reading each day.  Now that I'm into it though, I am loving reading bigger chunks of Scripture at a time.  Going in-depth with one section is important and meaningful, but I'm at a stage in life where increasing the quantity of Bible reading is more doable.  The name is fitting, "keeping the feast".  I feel that way right now when I finish reading for the day, like I've had a feast.

Sporting: A new hair color!  I tried to edit this photo to make the color the most accurate. It's basically a little darker and richer than my natural color, and on my previous honey-highlights, it has a red-maroon tint.  Last winter I went with straight-up burgundy hair, so this is a subtler version of that.  I'm told it will fade out really well, and I'm liking it alot!



Wondering: If you've noticed that my blogroll in the sidebar has expanded a bit?  I found a few new blogs lately that I'm enjoying!

Considering: A social media break.  I took a Facebook break for the month of December last year, and it was so lovely.  This year I'm considering taking a break from Instagram too!  Just trying to figure out logistics of how to still share blog posts and still get Christmas photos printed into books easily (since I normally use Chatbooks connected with my Instagram).  Question: how do you typically read this blog?  Do you come to new posts through social media, or do you use a blog reader, or just type in the url when you want to read new posts?  I'll put a poll below.



Listening: To Christmas music.  Yes, I am.

Watching:  Derek and I recently re-started watching The Middle from the beginning.  We were watching Blue Bloods for a while, but we needed a break from drama.  In general we are more comedy-type people, and we relate to the Hecks!  Maybe you have to be from a certain type of family to appreciate that show, because the only people I know who have loved it as much as we do are other members of my family...but we all find it hilarious.

What have you all been up to?

Linking up here.




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