2 Must Read Character Building Fiction Books for Tweens

2 Must Read Character Building Books for tweens

2 Must- Read Character Building Fiction books for Tweens

 

Today I have the honor of writing this article, 2 Must-Read Character Building Fiction Books for Tweens, over at LikeMindedMusings.com, as part of Lee Felix’s 30 Days of Tween Parenting Encouragement!

For each day of May, Lee is featuring another blogging mom of tweens on her site to talk about this phase of parenting. There’s so much information out there for the years of parenting babies and toddlers, and then it feels like the older your kids get, the less people want to talk about it.

Here’s a snippet of my post. Be sure to check out the other 30 days as well!

“Farmer Boy was an easy sell for my boys. (I don’t have any girls.) They were definitely not excited about this next one, Secret in the Maple Tree, by Matilda Nordtvedt.

They protested at first, but then they grew to love it.

Yes, in this book, the main character is a girl. Her name is Hilda, and she is one of the most real, relatable characters you will ever read. Almanzo in Farmer Boy was naturally a very well-behaved boy. Hilda has to work much harder at it. This character is based on the author’s mother-in-law, Mrs Ebertina Erickson Nordtvedt, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, who migrated in the late 1800s.

Also, I have more good news.”

Click here to read the rest.

 

Be sure to subscribe to the other 30 days if you are a parent of tweens!

 

It was not a failure, though I thought it was at the time.

It was not a failure.

*This post does contain some affiliate links, which means that if you purchase through my site, I receive a small percentage.*

I’ve been dealing with my own feelings of failure for a while now. Have you ever felt that way? I read this story this week, and I poured tears as I contemplated my own “failure.”

There was this man. He was from out-of-town. He wanted to teach people about Jesus. That landed him in prison, and not just prison. First, he was stripped and beaten, and then they put him in prison.
He got out though.
And then you know what he said about that trip? He said, “It was not a failure.”

Public humiliation. Beaten! Imprisoned!

That was not a failure?? He was basically chased out of town. He can’t go back there.

But that man was Paul, and that town was Philippi. You can read more about that story in Acts 16:16-25 and 1 Thessalonians 2, all of chapter 2.

“You know, brothers, that our visit to you was not a failure. We had previously suffered and been insulted in Philippi, as you know, but with the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.”    1 Thessalonians 2:1-2

It was not a failure because they STILL did share the gospel, as they set out to do. When we tell people the good news, that Jesus loves ALL of us and wants to save and be a friend to ALL of us, we aren’t responsible for how people respond to that. That doesn’t mean be a jerk and don’t care. That means don’t be obnoxious. Share it, and let the Holy Spirit do the rest.

Public disgrace does not equal failure.

Things not ending as planned does not mean we failed.

Being physically destroyed is not failure. It’s not.

You are not a failure either. Think of your most recent failure, and then consider. What did you learn? What good came out of that?


I was reading about all of these things in Children of the Day, by Beth Moore. It takes books like these to help me understand things like Acts 16 being tied to 1 Thessalonians. Believe me, I’d never figure that out on my own. Every single Beth Moore Bible study workbook I have ever read has been a massive blessing to me.

This one is no exception. She just HAD to go and ask us what our most recent failure is. She left a little blank space for us to write about it. Ha! I got out my spiral notebook and filled up a whole PAGE.

I wrote, and I thought, and I cried, and I prayed, and in the end I was reminded.

“Though a righteous man falls 7 times, he will get up, but the wicked will stumble into ruin.”  Proverbs 24:16

Failure stings when it’s something that means the world to you. It stings like getting stung by a HIVE OF BEES  or 50 fire ants.

I set out to home school those two years with two objectives:

  1. I wanted to give them that one-on-one boost with their academics.
  2. I wanted to improve their character. No, I can’t improve it myself, but I wanted to promote it. I wanted to provide the right environment and the right tools for the boys and God to work that out.

I was not able to accomplish what I wanted, academically, and to make it worse trying to be a teacher, homemaker, blogger, and mom all at once made me MISERABLE. It was heart-breaking. Even as I write about it again, it’s like my heart is all ripped up and bleeding. I want to pound my fists to the wall and then lay my head against it and cry until there’s no water left because no matter how hard I tried, everything felt like failure.

I love these children with such intensity, I want to fix every single problem that they have, but that’s not possible, is it? The ability to fix everything was so far beyond my control.

So I failed. Or so I thought. But you know what? I did not fail. They didn’t fail either. Nothing failed. There was nothing wasted here.

In those two years, I saw their character bloom. I saw love, humility, honesty, justice, kindness, and goodness in my boys.

Caleb was saved and baptized, of his free choosing during that time at home with me. I even heard him teaching his friends about Jesus.

There was spiritual warfare waged over the souls of my children those two years, and God won.

I grew to understand the boys’ strengths and weaknesses. I came to terms with my own limitations. We emerged a different family than when we went into this.

I failed in some ways in order to learn. Sometimes we have to fall to learn, to grow, to become.

We saw it happen with my children too. We watched them overcome the kind of adversity that would have CRUSHED me at their age. I would not have handled it with the strength, dignity, and courage that I watched my son display.

That’s not actually failure is it? But it sure feels like it when you’re laying in a wad on the ground.

So no, we have not failed. We have only fallen and gotten back up again, and we too shared the gospel in the process.

All of these thoughts led me to this song, and I can’t get it out of my head. Its “fall down and get back up” message resonated with me. Yes, we are trying EVERYTHING. It’s a fun song, and my favorite line is this one:

“Birds don’t just fly. They fall down and get up.”

You’ll have to click the link below to go to YouTube to see the lyrics and hear this song. It’s worth it.

 

Ok. Your turn to answer Beth Moore’s heart-wrenching question. Failure. When did you last feel it?

“Ask yourself: Did we do the will of God as best we perceived it? Were we authentic before God and man?”    —Children of the Day, page 41, Beth Moore

And I would add, what did you learn? Then maybe it’s not such a failure after all, and even if it is, get back up again.

 

7 Unexpected Ways Life Changed When We Quit Homeschooling

7 Unexpected Ways Life Changed When We Quit Homeschooling

For the past two years, I home-schooled my four boys. Now that sentence alone should clue you in to the great difficulties I was up against: 4 BOYS, home-schooled! Add that to the fact that I don’t enjoy teaching, and it was a sort of a pressure-cooker for my heart.

The stress was too much for me personally. I gave it up, and enrolled my children in a Christian school this year. It was a change I had to make to save my own sanity.

Let me stress here that I am not anti-homeschool or anti-any kind of school! I’ve tried just about everything over the years. Each family must choose what works best for them and their children.

Want to know how life has changed for us? Click here to read the rest of this article, over at Monterey Premier.

7-unexpected-ways

 

 

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Caleb’s Stories

getting-creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Caleb's Stories

Today I want to talk about creativity. When I was a child, it was greatly celebrated, but I was never so sure that I actually possessed any of this creativity stuff. There were only two subjects I disliked in school: P.E. (We’ve talked about this) and Art. Yep. I never liked Art. I love to admire other people’s artwork. I would just rather not make any myself.

Sure, I write all the time. Non-fiction. All of my work is simply jotting down what happened, what’s funny, and what is true. Reading fantasy, sure, I’ll do that. Dream up fantasy? Wait. I do that too, but I keep those thoughts to myself. Be thankful.

So today, I’m going to let Caleb tell the stories. His stories are grounded in fantasy, but they sound quite believable. In fact, one of them IS TRUE. See if you can guess which one.

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

The photo wall I’m most proud of. This is as creative as I get folks: picture arrangement.

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

See my fire-place mantel scarecrow. You can buy him at Hobby Lobby, often on sale. It makes me smile every time I look up at my fun fall mantel.

 

Caleb’s Stories #1: Aiden, the Wolf, and Me   (Written as Told by Caleb)

One day me and Aiden were playing in the woods. This was before we all got poison oak, and you told us we couldn’t play back there any more, Mom. We were just on the edge of the woods. All of a sudden, we saw this whole herd of deer, and they just came running by us. They didn’t even see us.

Me and Aiden were like, “Whoa! What the…” Then a WOLF ran by!!  Two wolves! Two wolves were chasing the deer, because it was getting dark outside. Aiden and I just froze.

One of the deer was so scared, he even fell off the little bridge into the ditch! I guess he just wasn’t looking where he was going or something, but then he was stuck down there and couldn’t get out.

It was the scariest day of our lives.

 

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Each of the boys drew a self-portrait in art class at school. I thought this was impressive for a kindergartener! Daniel is a perfectionist, so he covered up some black splotches with paper, as you can see.

 

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Nonna has her house all decked out for fall too, and I thought this turkey centerpiece she made was cute and festive.

Story #2: The Raccoon Family

One day, it was starting to get dark, and Joshua and Aiden and I were playing in that big tree. You remember, that one that was so awesome for climbing? We saw a whole family of raccoons come out of the SEWER!

The dad was super fat, too. Then there were like four little raccoon babies. They were so adorable! Like kittens! We wanted to pet one, but of course, we didn’t because we were a little bit scared to do that. We tried to throw a rock at the big fat dad, but then we were like, no, just kidding, and we didn’t throw a rock at him. We did scare him though, and we didn’t think he’d be able to fit back into that sewer. It was hilarious!! We were all dying laughing.

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Nonna created this coffee table arrangement with a basket and fall gourds and silk flowers. Love it!

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Even our littlest man has been getting creative.

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

I just loved how Caleb set this table up. That’s an octopus, wearing a baseball cap, with its tentacle wrapped around JD’s sock monkey.

Last, but not least:

Story #3: Bats!!!

One day, it was starting to get dark, and Aiden and I were still playing outside. We were whacking the trees on the hill behind our house with sticks. Whack! Whack! Whack! Whack! Then, all of a sudden, like FIVE bats flew out of the tree we were hitting!!! Aiden and I looked at each other with the wide eyes like, “Aughhhhhh!” Then we just took off running. He ran to his house, and I ran to our house. It was crazy. I’d never seen bats that close before.

 

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Daniel’s drawing of Grandaddy

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Before: Our new house has these two windows that you could see through a little too well.

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

The new window treatment was hard to photograph from outside, so I took this photo from inside. See the pretty new windows? Alan got these static cling strips from Lowe’s and stuck them right on there. Now you can’t see straight into our living room any more.

 

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Caleb loves to draw sharks, and he’s also enamored with that swirly-sky Monet painting. You can sometimes see signs of that in his art. Looks like this boat is in a lot of trouble.

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

We love to draw monsters.

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Spongebob characters, by Caleb

My husband is surprisingly creative too. I guess that’s where the kids get it from. Recently, the cover completely fell off of my Bible. Alan decided to fix it for me one morning while I was away and surprised me with this when I got home:

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

Duct-Tape Bible cover

Teal is my favorite color, so he bought teal duct-tape and white duct-tape. Then he wrapped my Bible in it. It turned out cute too!

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

The original burgundy cover doesn’t even show through.

Getting Creative: Windows, Duct Tape Art, and Make Believe

I was impressed.

So which of Caleb’s 3 stories do you think was true? Leave your guess down below or on Facebook, and I will tell you if you got it right. If you haven’t liked my Facebook page yet, be sure to do so. It’s hard to keep up both a personal FB page and a blog FB page, so I am trying to move to primarily using the blog FB page. You can follow me on Facebook here.

Happy fall, y’all!!

 

How to Make Fire with a Magnifying Glass

how to make fire with a leaf and a magnifying glass

Look closely. You can see the giant burn hole in the leaf.

Last weekend we were enjoying a leisurely weekend of letting the kids play in the backyard while we visited with family. Caleb, who loves all things science-related, asked Alan if he could show him how to use the sun’s light and a magnifying glass to make fire.

Deep down, I guess we are all like cave-men because every one of us was full of joy to watch this happen.

how-to-make-fire with a leaf and a magnifying glass

I had never actually seen this done before. The sun was shining, so conditions were perfect. Alan hunted down a magnifying glass and grabbed a dry leaf from the yard.

Now this is where it gets complicated:

Oh wait,no, it doesn’t. Literally, all we did was let the sun shine through the magnifying glass onto the leaf, and smoke appeared rather quickly.

how to make fire with a leaf and a magnifying glass

In this photo, the one side of the leaf is mostly burned away, and they’d started on the second half.

how to make fire with a leaf and a magnifying glass

Ta-daaaaa

how to make fire with a leaf and a magnifying glass

Everyone had to take a turn burning the leaf.

Well, folks, that’s all there is to it. This may be my shortest blog post of all time, eh?

You don’t have to be a home school family to do fun science projects at home. These are the kinds of activities your kids won’t soon forget.

Want to know the science behind all this? I googled it for ya. I must confess that I did not find the science behind it interesting at all, but this site did the best job of holding my attention: thenakedscientist.com. Just click on that link there.

Okay, I guess I should go back to being an involved parent or tidying up or something. Hope you are all having a great week!

 

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