Small People

Small People

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Utter Relief of Holiness Review and Giveaway

If you had asked me before I started reading John Eldredge's newest book if I wanted to achieve holiness in my life, I would have said yes. But if I examined my life, would it have reflected that desire? Sadly, probably not.

Eldredge's book The Utter Relief of Holiness: How God's Goodness Frees Us From Everything That Plagues Us "explores the beauty of the genuine goodness available to us in Jesus Christ." He begins by explaining how everything we do and say has a motive behind it. We say we want to be like Jesus, but our true motives are often selfishness, pride, fear, etc. He also talks about how when we have a focus on following a list of rules, we miss out on what Jesus is looking for. "Jesus is not impressed with external rule-keeping; he wants holiness that flows from our heart." (p.109) Eldredge brings it all back to motive at the end of the book. Jesus left us with 2 commandments: Love God, and Love others. If these are our motives, achieving that holiness that we are striving for is much easier.

I really appreciate the way John Eldredge gives practical solutions for renouncing the sins, breaking the strongholds, and healing the brokenness that keep us from holiness. It's frustrating to read a book that says, "You should break free of the strongholds in your life", but gives no further instruction as to how to carry that out. Eldredge provides many verses from God's Word, as well as prayers, to help the reader understand HOW to do those things.

About the Author: John Eldredge has written 12 books, including Beautiful Outlaw and New York Times bestsellers Wild at Heart and Captivating (written with his wife Stasi). His books have sold more than 8 million copies. He is the Director of Ransomed Heart, a ministry devoted to helping people discover the heart of God. It has become a grassroots phenomenon with millions of followers.
You can learn more about John Eldredge and The Utter Relief of Holiness at the Ransomed Heart website, Facebook page, Twitter, and YouTube video.

You also have the opportunity to win your own copy of The Utter Relief of Holiness. Simply enter the giveaway below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." 

Wordless Wednesday - Basketball

Little Red had her last basketball game of the season on Saturday. After touching the ball a total of 2 times in the previous 5 games combined, she was super excited to get to take the ball up the court a few times in the final game.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

My Funny Girl

Sassy Pants is always a wonderful source of entertainment. Her little 5 year old brain gives us many laughs. Here are 2 from this evening:

Sassy - You know, I took a bath in a caboose.
The Boy - In a caboose?
Sassy - Yeah, when I was at hotel with Daddy.
The Boy - (laughing) No, that was jacuzzi. Not a caboose.

(She and Robb had a hotel bathtub that had jacuzzi jets. Robb turned them on for her after her bath that night.)

Sassy - I can't wait to see George Washington when we go to the White House.
Me - George Washington isn't at the White House. He died a long time ago.
Sassy - (very sad) He did?
Me - Yes, baby. The war we've been talking about in history happened almost 250 years ago.
Sassy - (still very sad) He died??

Poor baby had her heart set on meeting George Washington. At least I know she's been paying attention while I teach the older kids history.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Homeschooling Many: Scheduling

If you homeschool more than one child, how do you get it all done?

I am asked this question (or some version of it) many times. I have 5 small people. There are 4 different grade levels represented in those 5 people. Some grade levels need more of my time than others. Some subjects need more of my time than others. Scheduling is extremely important for my family to have a successful day.

  1. Have a written schedule. Without a schedule, it is so easy for important things to be left undone. We can get to the end of our school day, and I'll find that I've forgotten to teach somebody something. Having a schedule also makes transition times go more smoothly. There is no questioning, "What are we doing next?" The small people know that our day flows in a certain order so we can move from one subject to the next without a lot of wasted time.
  2. Combine small people for as many subjects as possible. Some subjects lend themselves to combining more than others. Bible, history, and science are much easier to teach to multiple ages and levels than math or grammar. All 5 small people are together for Bible time. Then I teach history to the older 4 together. For science, The Boy works independently, and the older 3 girls are working together.
  3. Schedule independent work times for all small people. This frees you up to teach subjects that are more teacher intensive. Even my 5 year old can work on activities independently while I teach the older children science, math, etc.
  4. Stick to the schedule. If you have the written schedule from point 1, but you don't follow it, it's pretty much useless. Allowing one subject to take more than its allotted time is tempting but can cause the day to go spinning out of control, and before you know it, you don't have time to teach math or grammar or some equally important subject. (Ask me how I know this!) If history is scheduled from 8:30-9:15, then at 9:15, we are done, whether or not we finished everything I wanted to do. It will still be there the next day. Now I'm not saying you can't take an extra minute or two to finish something up. If, however, we get so fascinated by a subject that we need (or want) to take more time learning about it, then I add that to our lessons for the next day or the next week. 
Now I want to hear from you:
If you homeschool more than 1 child, do you use a schedule?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Etched...Upon My Heart review and giveaway

Moments. Our lives are made up of moments that define us. In her new book Etched...Upon My Heart: What We Learn and Why We Never Forget, Jill Kelly openly shares the moments that have defined her life. The moments from her life before her faith in Christ. The moments after her son was diagnosed with a fatal disease. The moments from when she began trusting in Jesus. And many other  moments that shaped her life.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. In fact, it took me longer than I thought it would to read because I read through it slowly, savoring every word.

In the introduction, Mrs. Kelly shares, This book is everything I hope my daughters eventually learn, always remember, and never forget. It's everything I would share with you, woman to woman and mother to mother. (p. x) Her conversational tone throughout the book made me feel as if we were having a nice conversation over coffee. She shares with us, her readers, what God has taught her about love, significance, forgiveness, suffering, giving, prayer, faithfulness, and death, covering each topic in its own chapter.

  • LOVE - Mrs. Kelly shares her journey of searching for love in all the wrong places and faces (p. 17) until she learned the truth that God is love.
  • SUFFERING - Suffering takes our focus off the temporal and irrelevant. (p.76) To read these words from a woman who has suffered one of the greatest tragedies in motherhood - losing her son - made me take a good look at how I view suffering.
  • PRAYER - Prayer is not about you!...If prayer were about anything other than God, it would be empty and meaningless. (p.108) I read that and my first thought was "WOW!" How many times have I prayed and made it about me, and then wondered why it felt so empty?
  • FAITHFULNESS - This chapter contains a wonderful reminder about God's faithfulness to us. It also encourages us in our faithfulness. Like a butterfly strengthening its wings as it breaks out of its cocoon, our faithfulness is strengthened through opposition as circumstances and challenges lean against it. (p.152)
At the end of each chapter, Jill Kelly includes a prayer to God as well as Scripture verses about each topic.

Reading Etched...Upon My Heart, I could see how the moments in my own life, especially those painful ones that I don't like to remember, have worked together to make me who I am today. How God has used painful events in my past to help me be a stronger Christian today. This is a book that I will definitely want my daughters to read when they're teenagers.

About the Author

Jill Kelly is the wife of former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly. In September 1997, months after their infant son, Hunter, was diagnosed with a fatal disease called Krabbe Leukodustrophy, Jim and Jill founded the Hunter’s Hope Foundation. As chairman of the board of Hunter’s Hope, Jill helps children suffering from Leukodystrophy, and their families by raising awareness and research funds to fight this devastating disease. She and Jim live in Buffalo, NY, with their two daughters and three dogs. Hunter’s Hope Foundation can be found online at Jill is also the author of Without A Word.
You can read more about Mrs. Kelly by visiting her website, Facebook page, or following her on Twitter.

You also have the opportunity to win your own copy of Etched...Upon My Heart. Simply enter the giveaway below. a Rafflecopter giveaway
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

What we've been working on

Our homeschool is now back in full swing after a too-short Christmas break. Since Robb had to go back to work on January 2, I decided to let us ease back into school on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. While in a way I was anxiously awaiting getting back into our routine, I really wasn't excited about starting back. Easing back into things made it a lot easier.

Regardless, we are now 2+ weeks into the last half of the year! Here's what we're working on now:


We finished up our study of Moses and have begun Joshua. We just learned about Rahab and the spies.


We've begun one of my favorite subjects - the writing of the Constitution and the other events leading up to the Revolutionary War. I do have to say, though, that studying the reasons why this country was founded and the documents, speeches, etc., from that time period makes me very sad when I compare it to where our country is today.


The Boy just finished up a study about gravity and air resistance. Now he's studying Newton's Laws of Motion.
The girls are studying crustaceans. Today we go back to co-op, and there was a threat possibility that they could come home from their co-op class with sea monkeys. I'm not sure I like that idea!


Sassy Pants's reading is really coming along. She absolutely loves math, especially using the manipulatives.

In addition to school starting back up, extra-curriculars are also in full swing. Soccer, ballet, basketball, scouts - our afternoons can often end up rather crazy.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

(Not So) Wordless Wednesday

This is our new puppy. He's learned that he has a nap time every morning while I teach the small people.

Join me to share your Wordless (or Not So Wordless) Wednesday posts!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Happy Birthday, Little Red!

Today, my sweet little red-headed girl turned 8 years old.

She has such a contagious personality. When she's smiling and happy, everyone around her can't help smiling as well. Those dimples just melt my heart every time.

We started this morning off with opening presents.

At noon, she had a basketball game. During the 2nd quarter, she was tripped running down the court and fell flat on her face. She later told me that this was the worst birthday ever because she got hurt during the game. (I'm pretty sure she was over it by tonight, though!) After the game, we went to the local Mexican restaurant for lunch. They have a fun birthday celebration there; they bring out a HUGE sombrero for the birthday person and a dessert.

This evening was more Mexican food since she requested enchiladas for dinner. For dessert we had birthday cake, which she helped make yesterday. She asked for a basketball cake, and I was fairly pleased with how close it looked to an actual basketball.


 We finished the day watching her favorite movie, Brave.

Happy Birthday, Little Red!!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Meditate Day and Night

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. Joshua 1:8

Apparently, God really wanted me to get this verse in my head. A couple of Sundays ago, the preacher spoke about this verse. Then, this week in the Bible lesson, Joshua 1 was in the plans, with an emphasis on this verse. 

I can't tell you how much this verse steps on my toes. Don't get me wrong, I spend time in God's Word. I even teach Sunday School. But God and I both know that I don't do a very good job of meditating on it day and night. Usually I spend my few minutes in my devotion time thinking about it, but then I'm done. Occasionally throughout the day, I'll think back to the Word, but not nearly as much as I should.

The question I have to ask myself is WHY? WHY don't I meditate on the Word day and night? Do I not want to observe the things written there? Do I not want my way to be prosperous? Do I not want to have success? Of course I want all of those things. So WHY?

The answer is simple - I simply let the cares and concerns of this world, of the day-to-day, of the inconsequential, push thoughts of God's Word right out of the way. It's easy to let those thoughts into the forefront of my brain, relegating God's Word to the back corners where I pull it out when I have a moment or two not engaged in the minutiae of my life.

This week, the Sunday School lesson I'm teaching is about the sufficiency of God's Word. In preparing my lesson, my thoughts drifted back to Joshua 1:8. If I believe that God's Word is sufficient for all things (and I do believe that), then I should be using God's Word to help me through my day, not pushing it aside and focusing on dealing with the small stuff myself. So in my attempts to leave behind the crazy side of me (the grouchy, irritable, on-edge, stressed out side; not the crazy fun side, that one will be staying), I will be spending more time meditating on God's Word.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Un-Embracing the Crazy

"Could you please try to embrace the non-crazy you for a while?"

That was the question posed to me by my dear sweet husband last night. It was a tough question to hear.

I'll admit it, for the past few days, I've unfortunately been completely wrapped up in my crazy side. The side that is stressed, irritable, edgy. You know, that side that we all have but hate to admit.

I can't even explain WHY I've been up in the crazy tree lately. My life is good, my kids are healthy and happy. There is no reason, but I'm there. Stuck there, it seems.

Homeschooling is just as chaotic as ever. Juggling the needs of all 5 of the small people, while still maintaining my sanity, appears to be just outside my grasp. Actually, I know in my head that after we get back into the routine, things will even out and run more smoothly.

So today, I plan to un-embrace the crazy. Try to live without the stress and edge that have characterized my last week or so.

To start, I'll share a couple of pics of Sassy from the past week. I love how she can make me laugh. She loves to make this monkey face where she puffs out her cheeks and pulls on her ears. She's definitely my little monkey!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Looking Back over 2012

I probably should have written this post yesterday, but instead I wrote my goals for this year. What can I say, I usually do things backward.

Here are some of the things that happened for my family in 2012:

Sassy Pants

  • Started kindergarten work for school
  • Played her first season of organized soccer - Let's just say, she's a natural soccer player. She was the smallest one on her team, but she easily dominated the field. In her last game, she scored 10 goals.

Little Red

  • Became a reader - She really struggled with reading for the first half of 1st grade, but in the spring, she blossomed. Now she's reading just about anything I give her.
  • Auditioned for and made the entry level in the ballet company


  • Made significant improvements in Spanish
  • Got to dance a special part in the Nutcracker - She was in her 2nd year in the entry level of company and was picked to be the lead Gingersnap.

Soccer Girl

  • Made improvements in vocabulary skills
  • Went to the final game in 3 different soccer tournaments - Each time they came in runner-up, but just making it to the finals is a big deal.

The Boy

  • Made significant improvement in Pre-Algebra
  • Played on the Junior Varsity homeschool soccer team in the spring


  • Coached the U18 girls select soccer team. They made it to the upper level of State Cup (state championship tournament) and played well, in spite of many significant injuries to his players, including a broken collarbone in the last game.
  • Was hired as the coach of the Varsity girls team at one of the local high schools

Blog Highlights

Here are the top viewed posts from 2012 (not including reviews and giveaways):
  1. Summer Fun Activities - List of summertime activities
  2. Reasons to Homeschool - My response after the tragic school shooting in Connecticut
  3. Jello Cake - Recipe
  4. Wordless Wednesday - Sassy's hair - I did her hair in criss-cross pony tails (back before she chopped her hair off).
  5. Happy Birthday to my Twins - My birthday tribute to my beautiful twin girls
  6. Sunday Morning Attitude - Reflecting on my attitude getting my family ready for church each week
  7. Chicken & Broccoli Casserole - Recipe
  8. Wordless Wednesday - State Cup - Pic of The Boy playing in the State Cup in the spring
  9. First Day of School - Recap of our first day of school for 2012-13
  10. Mis-Heard Lyrics by the Small People - Sassy's version of Baa, Baa Black Sheep
In other bloggy highlights of 2012, I started a Facebook Page for Tales of a Pee Dee Mama. If you haven't already "liked" the page, I would love for you to join us!

I'm excited for what's ahead in 2013! I plan to be more consistent in posting, especially highlights from our school weeks.
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