A Simple Way to Bless Others

Our family recently went sandhill plum picking.   This yearly summer ritual has become much more than a family outing.  It has become a way for us to bless others. A Simple Way to Bless Others | RaisingArrows.netAll year long, we take jelly to friends and family.  We are able to bless them from the bounty of our home.  Our jelly becomes a housewarming gift, a Christmas gift, a thanks for having us over gift.  We are sharing something dear to us…a piece of ourselves, if you will.

In this short video (which includes a super cute Aspen!), I share ways you can bless others from the bounty of your home.  Make this the little personal touch you bring into the lives of others.  I can guarantee you will be blessed as much as you bless others!

ps – if you watch the video, listen for a little surprise I have for you…”Raising Adventure!”

You Can’t Keep Sin Out

I’m not a current events blogger.  You will rarely see me address current events because I do not believe they should affect how we homeschool, manage our homes, or live our lives as followers of Christ.  No matter what is going on in the world, God’s Word remains true, so the way I see it, this blog doesn’t need to address the latest scandal.

However, on occasion, events take place which deserve attention here on Raising Arrows because they DO affect those of us who have chosen to stay at home and homeschool our children (the main focus of my blog).

This past week, such an event came to light, and while I do not care to rehash the details or give credence to anyone’s “side” of the story or personal opinion on the matter, I do feel THIS POST from The Gospel Coalition speaks to something we MUST heed as Christian homeschooling families – the fact that we CANNOT keep sin out.

You Can't Keep Sin Out | RaisingArrows.net

From the article:

We begin to believe that sin and rebellion is a problem outside of our home, not inside.

We start thinking our kids are basically good and in need of moral direction, rather than recognizing that our kids are basically bad and in need of heart transformation.

We communicate to our kids that it’s ”us” (good) versus “them” (bad) rather than helping them see our family’s role as one of service (“us” for “them”).

I must admit, there was a point early on in my homeschooling career when the children were all little and I was convinced if I did XYZ, I would get perfect children.  I totally missed the fact that sin is within.  Put a child on a remote island, and they will still find a way to sin.  Put ME on a remote island, and I will still find a way to sin!

It runs deep…in everyone.  So, yes, there are bad influences, and yes, we are still supposed to parent in a way that promotes righteous living before the Lord, but not a chance are you going to avoid that sin nature.  We MUST stop believing we can follow a formula or method and reap perfection.  

Please note, I am not saying methods are bad, but rather the unrealistic savior-esque expectations we place on those methods.  Kelly at Generation Cedar speaks to this topic beautifully in her post, Are the Duggars to Blame?

If you, for example, homeschool because you think that is the key to raising godly children, you will be wildly disappointed. If you homeschool because you think you and your children are good and everyone else is bad, you are grossly deceived. But if you homeschool because you believe God has called you to disciple your children and you believe you need lots of time to do that, and because you want to help them avoid a peer culture that hinders them from walking with the wise (as Scripture encourages), if you entrust the souls of your children to the only One who can save them while doing your part to shepherd their hearts to love Him, then your motives are pure and right.

My dear homeschool mamas (and daddies), teach your children what it means to be a follower of Christ.  Teach them that sin exists and they WILL have to learn to fight it…and IT may not always be outside of themselves.  Teach them to stand strong.  Teach them to persevere.  And teach them to be humble…please, please, please teach them to be humble.

…Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:5b

Oh, how we all need that grace…

The Home Atmosphere We Crave

I recently read of the the food industry’s attempt to emphasize a “home atmosphere” in the marketing of their products because it appeals to our senses and sensibilities. This fascinated me because I have experienced that warm, fuzzy feeling when picking up a jelly jar off the supermarket shelves, with it’s beckoning red-checked lid masquerading as homemade goodness. What is it about these “homey” tactics that appeals to us so strongly?

The Home Atmosphere We Crave | RaisingArrows.net

Here’s my theory…

Our entire lives are made up of memories.  These memories employ our 5 senses to tell us if something makes us feel good or bad.  We remember how chocolate chip cookies cheered us up.  We remember how a certain song made us sad.  We remember how Grandmother’s arms made us feel safe, how the smell of cinnamon reminds us of Christmas, and how every time we see gingham, it reminds us of picnics at the lake.

Memories are very personal.  The images our senses conjure up are unique to each of us.  However, there are certain senses that most people have been trained to associate with good memories – usually because they are traditional in our culture.  It is those types of things advertising companies play off of – gingham, carousels, aprons, pie, laundry hanging on a line, picnics, quilts, and countless other “icons” of our society.

The Home Atmosphere We Crave | RaisingArrows.net

Another thing the advertisements are banking on is our desire to belong.  God created the concept of family.  It is a reflection of our belonging to Him through Jesus.  Even if our home life wasn’t wonderful growing up, we want home to be what God created it to be, and we associate certain things with that notion of home.

This use of home atmosphere to evoke certain emotions is nothing new.  Have you ever looked at those lovely Victorian paintings and photographs?  They elevate the status of the home to something etherial in order to elevate the Victorian era people to higher standards in their personal life.

The Home Atmosphere We Crave | RaisingArrows.net

The children are neatly dressed.  Mother plays beautifully as Junior sings at her side.  The family is engaged in a culture of belonging.  It is an atmosphere of near perfection where everyone has a place, and all are content.

So, when advertisers work to tug at our heart strings with visions of a happy home atmosphere (either real or desired), we fall into their trap because they are serving us exactly what we crave – happy memories and a sense of belonging.

Now, I could sit here and debate all day long WHY we want this sense of home so badly, but what I would rather do is encourage you to not need those advertising ploys to give you that strong sense of home because your own home already serves you up plenty of memories and a sense of belonging that cannot be rivaled.

And how do we build a home atmosphere that creates these precious memories and a strong sense of family?

We live fully-present and full-tilt.

Be a mom who is fully in the moment with your family.  Don’t constantly be thinking of the next thing you need to do.  Stay away from the pull of too much technology.  Look your children and your husband in the eye.  Say yes more than you say no (or “later”).

And be a mom who lives with gusto!  Feast with your family!  Laugh, cry, pray for and with your family!  Enjoy the moments, no matter how small or large so that some day, their memories will be inextricably linked with the traditions of YOUR home!

Today, I encourage you to do one thing with your children and one thing with your husband WITHOUT thinking about 6 other things!  Be fully-present, in the moment, full-tilt mom/wife!  It doesn’t have to be quantity to start out with, but it does need to be quality!

And if you are looking for a way to get a jump start on your day, you can get the first lesson in the Make Over Your Mornings eCourse for FREE right now!

This course has been great for me, and I truly believe it will help you get a handle on your day so you can begin creating that home atmosphere you so desperately crave!

We’re Famous Movie Stars! {sort of}

If you follow my Instagram feed, you know a couple of weeks ago we were outside La Junta, Colorado filming a historical segment at Bent’s Old Fort.  Our entire family was cast as Santa Fe trappers/traders/travelers for a life-size movie that will show at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial.

Filming a historical film at Bent's Old Fort in Colorado along the Santa Fe Trail | RaisingArrows.net

We have been visiting Bent’s Old Fort on our way to the mountains for 7 years.  Prior to that, it was one of those places on the map we always passed, but never stopped at.  We were too busy getting to the mountains!  After Emily passed away, we became very purposeful about our trips.  We stopped at every brown historical marker we saw.  We chose to enjoy the journey.  Bent’s Old Fort became a part of that journey.

It is a wonderful living history museum full of the history of the Santa Fe trail.  Ty started going to the Fort a couple of times a year to portray the role of hunter/trapper.  The outfit he wore for the film was his own.  (He is in the process of sewing a new pair of pants from brain-tanned leather he purchased from another homeschooling family.)

Ty posing as a hunter/trapper at Bent's Old Fort | RaisingArrows.net

Ty found out about the film and sent in an application, mentioning we also had a large family that fit the ages the casting crew was looking for.  They called us up and said they wanted all of us!

To get ready for the filming, all of the men had to grow out their facial hair, and us girls had to put our hair in braids the night before to help add texture to our hair.

Hair in braids to add texture for historical film | RaisingArrows.net

(See how thrilled I am about having my hair in tiny braids?!)

We showed up on site Saturday morning, and made our way to a huge rental trailer filled with period clothing.  Each of the younger boys got a shirt, britches, vest, hat, socks and shoes.  Blake also had suspenders and had his whiskers darkened in and shaped up.

Boys in historical costumes for film about Westward Expansion | RaisingArrows.net

The girls got dresses, chamises, petticoats, socks, shoes, and bonnets.  We had to be covered from head to toe!  Our makeup and hair was done by the mom/daughter team of NaturesKnockout.com.  They freelance all over the United States and often do historical films.

We learned a lot during the making of this film.  We learned that historical clothing for the white women of the era was hot and heavy, while the Mexican women and Indian women got to wear much lighter, less cumbersome clothing.  I decided I would be one of them next time (*snicker*)

We also gained a deep appreciation for just how much work goes into the making of a film.  The first morning, they filmed just the men outside the fort.  A 90 second shot, took 5 hours to film!

We learned that giving the appearance of a lot of activity in the background of a film means doing the same thing over and over and looking busy while you walk in circles.

We learned that filming in Eastern Colorado in August is hot, sticky, and exhausting.

We learned that some film directors wear kilts.

We learned that you can make a moving camera by putting the guy with the camera in a wagon on top of a Gott cooler and pulling him slowly along.

We learned that children dressed in historical clothing still act like children, and bringing a babysitter was a VERY good idea!  (Thank you, Hannah!)

Boy in historical outfit for film on Westward Expansion | RaisingArrows.net

Many people consider being in a film a bucket list item.  What a thrill to be able to say we did it!  This will be one of those memories we talk about for a long time to come!  If you are ever at the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial in St. Louis, MO (located under the arch), see if you can find us in the film!  You’ll most likely see Ty and my two oldest kids the most, but you might catch a glimpse of the rest of us in the background!

And if you are ever in Eastern Colorado, stop at Bent’s Old Fort.  You may find a new favorite along the trail just as we have.

Everyday Board for Circle Time (or for Mom’s sanity!)

I never thought I needed an Everyday Board – you know, the kind of tool preschools across the country use during Circle Time to teach students weather, time, and calendar skills.

Using an Everyday Board to teach preschoolers | RaisingArrows.net

I don’t run a preschool (even though I do get accused of that occasionally 😉 ), so I didn’t figure I needed something like this, but then I noticed a strange (and rather irritating) pattern taking place in my home day after day…

4 year old:  “What day is it today?”

Me:  “Wednesday.”

4 year old:  “What do we do today?”

Me:  “School and watch a movie.”

a few minutes later…

6 year old:  “What day is it today?”

Me:  “Wednesday.”

6 year old:  “What do we do today?”

Me:  “School and watch a movie.”

a few hours later…

6 year old:  “What day is it today?”

Me:  “Wednesday.”

6 year old:  “What do we do today?”

Me:  “School and watch a movie.”

a few minutes later…

4 year old:  “What day is it today?”

Me:  “Wednesday.”

4 year old:  “What do we do today?”

Me:  “HOW MANY TIMES DO I HAVE TO ANSWER THIS QUESTION???!!!”

Sometimes all you need is a walk to get back to the place you need to be | RaisingArrows.net

Now, don’t get me wrong, these little guys are super cute and I love answering their questions, but I do NOT want to answer the same question over and over if I can help it!

I was brainstorming ways to stop the madness, when I realized those preschools with their Everyday Boards were on to something!

Using an Everyday Board in your homeschool helps your little ones know what to expect that day! | RaisingArrows.net

Children like routine.  They naturally look for it.  So, when my boys were repeatedly asking what day it was and what we did on that day, they were looking for the structure and routine of the day.  They wanted to know what they had to look forward to that day (school and watching movies), and what else their day might hold.  The fact that they were asking repeatedly every day wasn’t defiance, but rather forgetfulness.  That’s why I decided an Everyday Board would be the answer!

Using an Everyday Board to teach preschoolers | RaisingArrows.net

Each day, my 10 year old daughter takes down the Everyday Board and goes over every section on the board with the little boys.  She tells them the month, day, time, and weather…and yes, she tells them WHAT WE DO ON THIS DAY!

Using an Everyday Board for Preschool Circle Time (and mom's sanity!) | RaisingArrows.net

I got my board from SimplyFun.  I didn’t want to have to make one myself, so it was worth it to have one already made for me.  The Tibbar’s Everyday Big Board has a row of numbers at the top to show what day of the month it is.  A column on one side with months and one on the other side with days of the week.  At the bottom of the board is a circle for seasons, and a circle for weather.  In the middle is a big clock (not a working clock) that my daughter shows them how to “set”.  There are lots of extra pegs in case you lose one…or five.  It really was exactly what I needed!

And guess what?!  They don’t ask me what day it is and what do we do on this day any more!  They have the board to look at ALL DAY LONG!  Even the non-readers know by where the peg is placed, what day it is!  And best of all, they are learning without even realizing they are learning!

Everyday Board for Preschool Learning! | RaisingArrows.net

As I said before, children like routine.  This routine is something that is just for the little boys.  It’s not something I have to work super hard at to make happen, but it offers structure to their day and a few less questions to mine. 😉

Would you like to WIN your own Everyday Board?!  SimplyFun has been gracious enough to allow me to give away one of these boards to one reader!  Enter to win below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What We Are Reading – August 2015

I’m pretty proud of myself!  I am doing another of these posts only 3 months after the last one!  That is a huge accomplishment!  I love these kinds of posts, but I seem to easily forget to do them.  So, yay for me!

Without further ado, here is the list of books our family is reading in August…The books our family is reading in August | RaisingArrows.net

{affiliate links included}

The first book on my list is one you might have noticed in this photo from my last Day in the Life post:

What We are Reading - August 2015 | RaisingArrows.net

At the top of the pile is a book I’ve had for several years and never got around to reading – Queen of the Home.  It is now out of print, but you can pick up a copy from Amazon.  I’m enjoying the notion of being Queen of my Domain!  I don’t think I’ve ever seen my role as such, and it’s given me much to gnaw on.  The book itself is a compilation of essays and poems and blog posts on the topic.  I read short snippets when I am sitting in my nursing chair.  It’s been a good remedy for the feeling that what I am doing is mundane and drudgery.

I am on a Charlotte Mason kick right now.  I am revisiting Charlotte Mason Homeschooling in 18 Easy Step-by-Step Lessons

What we are reading - August 2015

I’m digging in deep with the Charlotte Mason Companion:

And I just purchased Comstock’s Handbook of Nature Study (this thing is HUGE!):

And I’m reading Pocketful of Pinecones aloud to the children (which they are loving and so am I!):

A little Charlotte Mason immersion, anyone? 😉

My 17 year old is reading David Copperfield – the novel Dickens considers his favorite.

You can get David Copperfield on Kindle for only a $1.00!

He and my 14 year old are both reading from The Gift of Music as part of their assignments with Tapestry of Grace (you can read about how we do Tapestry of Grace HERE):

This book is also recommended as a companion to How Shall We Then Live.

My 14 year old daughter is reading The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde (she picked this up on her own).  You can get this book for only $.99 on Kindle!

She is also continuing to brush up on her ASL via The American Sign Language Handshape Starter:

This is a book her ASL teacher recommended. Megan also uses Lifeprint to study ASL in every day scenarios and work on her receptive skills for reading signs and fingerspelling.

Our 10 year old is reading Moccasin Trail.

My 9 year old is reading a biography of Samuel Morse and a book on WWII.

My 6 year old is continuing to become more and more proficient at reading, and I believe my soon-to-be 5 year old will be following in his footsteps rather quickly! Learning to read comes with the privilege of owning your own library card – big incentive for little guys!

So, what are you reading?