A beautiful journal, a migration to WordPress, and a move in real life (in 7 Quick Takes)

1.

The blog will be quiet from now through Holy Week. At some point during that time, I’ll officially migrate from Blogger to WordPress. I’ll still be at this address and nothing else should change on your end really- just make sure you’re subscribed by email in case my blog disappears off the face of the planet (gasp!) and I need to get in touch with you. :)

If you read by RSS (like Feedly or Bloglovin) I will most likely fall off your feed, so keep an eye on that. You’ll probably need to add me back sometime after Easter.

Things will very likely look a little wonky for the next week or so as we iron out the wrinkles. Just a heads up.

2. 

This picture makes me laugh. :)

3.

Mystie did a quick interview with Jennifer Fulwiler of Conversion Diary about making time to do work that brings you energy and renews you. I really enjoyed it! I’ve read my copy of The Family-First Creative (which you get for free when you pre-order Jennifer’s new book to be released later this month: Something Other than God). The eBook is packed with great tips, and there isn’t a way to get your hands on it any other way, so I would definitely suggest preordering.

4.

We’re moving! Not just to WordPress ;), but in real life! Out of the blue, an opportunity popped up for us to move to a home with a fully fenced backyard, raised garden beds, a homeschool room with a blackboard, and more room to spread out. I’m giddy. I’ve already ordered the vegetables and flowers we’ll plant in our gardens from St. Clare Seeds (thanks for the gift certificate, Sarah!). I am really excited to have a workable garden space again. I’ve missed my old garden, and Tulip has been downright starved for a good place to grow things.

5. 

Here’s something I’ve been loving lately- my Bound by Hand hand-crafted leather journal.

Originally I thought I’d use it for a writing project I have going, but instead I’m using it as an end-of-day recap in an effort to zoom in mentally on each of my kids. I got the idea from a friend. I’m writing down each of my children’s names each night as I climb into bed and noting one simple thing that I want to remember. I might write down something funny they said, a dream or goal they shared with me, a favorite book they discovered, or the fact that it’s they’ve seemed whinier than usual and I ought to try to head that off with a little more one-on-one. I figure I can use it to mark accomplishments as well as notes on how we are doing with particular habits we’re working on.

It’s really easy to fall into batch parenting when there are lots of kids to tend to. This simple practice is helping me remember that each of my children are individuals and they need my energy in unique ways. Having to come up with something for every single child every single day helps me look actively throughout the day for things to write. That means I’m paying closer attention to them than I otherwise would. That’s a good thing.

The journal itself is utterly fantastic. I love the smell of binding, the weight of the paper, the smoothness of the cover. Stephanie’s work is really beautiful. Her journals would make rather lovely Easter gifts (take a peek).

6. 

Don’t forget that the coupon code from Classical Academic Press is good through the 21st, and you can listen to the Morning Time talk I referenced on Wednesday without needing a coupon code at all by going to CiRCE’s audio library page.

7. 

Chestertonian friends, let’s take the next two weekends off (Palm Sunday, Easter) from Weekends with Chesterton and then we’ll meet back. I got my first issue of Gilbert from the American Chesterton Society, and I’m really excited to dig into it.

See you after Easter!

(for more quick takes, visit Conversion Diary)

Sponsored Giveaway :: Song School Latin

When I decided to make Latin a foundational part of our homeschool, I had no idea how I would go about teaching it. We’ve used a few different Latin programs now, but this one from Classical Academic Press has me the most excited.

Song School Latin is a lighthearted and joyful program. Lessons are peppered with songs, enjoyable vocabulary, illustrations, handwriting practice, stories, games, and engaging activities. It makes Latin accessible to young students (usually grades 1-3, though I think it would be well received by most 4th graders as well).

If your Latin regimen needs a fresh burst of energy, or if you’re just about to launch into Latin for the very first time- you’ll want to check it out!

Classical Academic Press is offering one of my readers a complete set of Song School Latin 1 (an $82.95 value). Use the Rafflecopter tool to enter- the giveaway will run through Saturday the 12th and the winner will be announced within this post.

Get 20% off everything at Classical Academic Press with the code “SALT20″ (S as in Sarah, ALT as in Amongst Lovely Things, 20 as in 20% off your whole order except online courses and Singapore Math). :) The code is good through April 21.

And you know about Headventure Land, right? That’s the fun (free) place for your kids to practice all that Latin (or Spanish, Greek, Logic, or Bible) they’re learning. Go check it out to liven up your studies for the spring! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chatty Monday — Spring Break!

Tulip has been painting rocks nonstop this spring. She had a little rock sale to raise money for the rice bowl offering at church. Love that girl.

We haven’t seen a single bulb sprout yet, but no matter- the sun shining is enough to delight. Posy wants to be outside all day long, as you can see. Snap got the privileged duty of carrying her inside for her nap. :) The twins love being outside, too, but really they just want to eat fistfuls of grass. :)

We’re on spring break! Are you? I’ve got some other projects to plow into this month, so I’m grateful for the hard stop in our schoolwork. 
One of those projects is the process of switching the backend of this blog from Blogger to WordPress. I’ve got enough posts and pages going on here now that I’ve basically maxed out everything Blogger can handle. Also, the upcoming podcast will run much better on a WordPress site. 
It shouldn’t look any different to you when the switch happens, but word on the street is that RSS feeds don’t transfer well. If you read this blog in an RSS reader like Feedly or Bloglovin, you should probably go ahead and sign up for email updates instead. You can do that here. If you don’t like blog updates by email, you can always unsubscribe later, after the RSS feed has transferred successfully.
In the meantime, if you see anything wonky going on here, it’s because we are doing the sometimes clunky and laborious work of the transfer. Any wrinkles will be ironed out as we can get to them.
I’m getting ready to chat with Andrew Pudewa for the first episode of the Read-Aloud Revival podcast. We’re going to be talking about why reading aloud is so important, especially for kids who are old enough to read to themselves. Do you have a specific question you’d like me to ask him? If you do, leave it in the comments of this post and I’ll try to work it into our conversation. :)

Some deals for you this week:

Still need some ideas for Easter baskets? Use the code “sweet20″ at Holy Heroes through the end of Lent to get 20% off your entire order. We especially love their Glory Stories (you can get a free sample CD by clicking here and build your own cd pack here) and The Treasure Box books.
Pam is offering my readers 30% off everything in her store this week only. Use the code “LOVELY30″ at checkout from now through April 13th. She’s got some great Latin printables as well as an awesome expansion pack for her free planning pages. (Heads up: if you liked the loop scheduling we talked about recently, Pam created a planning page to dovetail nicely with that. It’s part of her free pack!)
See you Wednesday for the next post in the series, and then we’ll have another giveaway from our friends at Classical Academic Press. :)

A Day Late and a Dollar Short :: Weekends with Chesterton

Oh. That’s not Chesterton?

Well, I’m a day late because I try to get these up on Saturday mornings, and a dollar short because I didn’t read a bit of Chesterton this week! Instead of contributing a snippet, I thought I’d answer a question I’ve been getting a lot lately:

“Where should I start with Chesterton?”

Specifically, where should a mother of young children start, who may be sleep-deprived, time-deprived, but hungry to feed her intellect and see what Chesterton has to say to her?
I recommend beginning with Father Brown. The Father Brown stories are delightful, smart, witty, and they smack you with Truth like a 2×4 when you least expect it. This audio book by Ignatius Press is done particularly well, and it’s only five bucks. The mysteries are short- you can listen to a whole mystery in an hour or less, which makes them good companions for when you’re cleaning up the kitchen.
Another recommendation would be to start with some of Chesterton’s essays, like Tremendous Trifles. I have this collection of 34 books by Chesterton for Kindle (only two bucks!), and it contains some of his essays as well. Essays are easier to dip into than his books and novels, and they are just as insightful.
If you want to ease in, another good idea is to let Dale Ahlquist from the American Chesterton Society lead the way. The Apostle of Common Sense is a very good place to begin.
You can get lots of Chesterton free on Kindle, of course, but I’m finding that I much prefer to read Chesterton in hard copy. I need to write in margins and underline all the way through. A highlight or typed note into my kindle copy just doesn’t do it for me.

 ***

Weekends with Chesterton: cultivating the intellectual lifeEvery weekend in 2014, we’re digging into the prolific work of G.K. Chesterton here at Amongst Lovely Things. Join us! All you need is a snippet- a short quote taken from anything he’s written. Blog it and link up below, or share your snippet to the comments on this post.

You can add commentary or photos if you’d like (you know I can’t ever resist adding a photo, myself!), but all you need is a snippet. Let’s keep this thing simple! Reading even a few lines of Chesterton every week is bound to be profitable.

Meet April’s Sponsors

I am honored to welcome the CiRCE Institute as a sponsor here at Amongst Lovely Things. I am passionate about the work that the folks at CiRCE are doing for the renewal of the culture and education. If you long to make truth, goodness, and beauty central to your homeschool, you need to pay attention to what they are up to!

Make sure you check out their blog (I write there!), their free audio library and media center (you need to watch Andrew’s newest video series on Teaching from a State of Rest), and pop into their store to see how else they can challenge and inspire you. I have heard nothing but praise for the Lost Tools of Writing and I’m eager to get my hands on it.

Please also visit my returning sponsors:

I love connecting you- my awesome readers- with companies that are doing beautiful work in the world. I only represent those that I am sincerely excited to introduce you to. These companies will inspire, encourage, and bless you!
If you have a business or service that would bless the readers of Amongst Lovely Things, click here for details about working with me. Ad space is limited.

Good Morning!

Wanna kiss?

Loaves & Fish (or: Bring Your Basket!)

(This is part of the series First Steps Toward Teaching from a State of Rest. New posts in the series publish every Wednesday. Did you miss any? Get caught up here.)

Is there a part of you that is a bit cynical about that verse? Does the yoke feel easy? The burden light? It doesn’t to me. Most days I wake up and can barely stagger out of bed with the heft of my load.

Just like the disciples, I see this huge throng of people to feed- this seeming impossibility. This shaping of souls and raising of children, the mopping of floors, washing of dishes, bandaging of scraped knees and hearts and worries, the teaching and admonishing and loving and doling out of myself. It’s all too much. There are six children in this home, and there is one of me.

I fall to my knees and I cry out to God. It’s a throng of hungry people in the desert, and I’m supposed to feed them.

On an ordinary Monday, I need of a miracle of Biblical proportions.

It isn’t that I have nothing exactly. I have my little basket. I can read aloud pretty well. I’m good at organizing things on paper (if not living those plans out in real life). I can make a decent pot of chili and I know how to push a vacuum. I don’t really have any idea how I’m supposed to tackle everything ahead of me in this day, this year, this decade ahead when that’s all I’ve got. It’s just a couple loaves of bread and a few stinky fish.

Apparently, that’s all He needs.

We are weary because we forget about grace. We act as though God showing up is the miracle. But guess what?

God showing up is the given. Grace is a fact.

If you are being asked to feed a multitude with a tiny basket of loaves and fish, then bring the basket. He starts with that. And just like the crowd in the desert, which had been faithfully following Jesus for days, sitting at his feet, savoring his words, seeking Him earnestly, we do the same. We bring our basket- whatever talents, skills, abilities we have- and we seek Him with everything we are.

He works the miracle.

“Cast away that despair produced by the realization of your weakness. It’s true: financially you are a zero, and socially another zero, and another in virtues, and another in talents… But to the left of these zeros is Christ. And what an immeasurable figure it turns out to be. How this realization changes our entire outlook at the hour of beginning an apostolic work, at the moment of personal conversion, in the realities of ordinary life!

The Lord knows how to draw fruit even from apparent failure. At the same time, He asks us to use all of the human means at our disposal, leaving no stone unturned. We should count on the five loaves and the two fishes. By themselves they won’t make much of a meal for so many hungry people at the end of a long day, but they nevertheless play an indispensable part in the working of the miracle.”

Remember your true task. Surrender everything. Bring your loaves and your fish, even if you think them completely insufficient. They are insufficient. 

You are insufficient. But His grace is not.

His yoke is easy and his burden is light, but that’s because all we’re supposed to carry is our little tiny basket. Let Him take it from there.

This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for your support! Disclosure. 

posted. Most Under-Appreciated

It’s the first Tuesday of the month, and that means it’s time to dig through the archives. The category this month is: most under-appreciated post.

Choose one post from your own blog that was under-appreciated. It’s a slightly awkward experience, I know. (Who comes up with these categories, anyway?)

The thing is, I don’t really think my posts are under-appreciated. You are all quite generous with your sweet comments. I decided I’d choose a post that I liked, but didn’t get that many page views- it’s kind of disappeared into the ether of the archives.

What about you? Got anything that’s under-appreciated? Or that you are somewhat proud of from a long time ago that you would love to shed some light on? Link directly to that post below. Don’t forget to post a link back to this page.

Here is my entry:


I was happy to stumble upon this oldie because I wrote it back in 2009 and I think I could have written it yesterday. Even though the face of our homeschooling has changed rather dramatically since our unschooling days {cough}, the principles have remained: savor, love, be. I love that homeschooling is more about loving the child in front of you than it is about pedagogy or curriculum. It doesn’t matter nearly so much which method we choose, just that we love them well.

Heads up: May’s category will be: favorite post on somebody else’s blog. Oh yes. We’re gonna spread some link love around here! Think of your very very very favorite blog post of someone else’s. (Okay fine. Pick two.) Then come here May 6th and link directly to that post and give your favorite bloggers a little traffic surge (and the rest of us some great online reading!).

Chestertonianizing the Children (It’s a word. Or it should be.)

I have successfully Chestertonianized my children, so my work here is done and I can now die in peace. ;) I told them a few weeks ago that we were going to read aloud The Father Brown Reader and they all rolled their eyes and sighed. “Great,” they lamented amongst themselves, ”Mom’s foisting her new Chesterton obsession onto us.”

So I began with The Blue Cross and right after this on the very first page:

“There was nothing to indicate that under his jacket was a loaded revolver, that in his pocket was a police identification card, or that under his hat was one of the best brains, of the of the most powerful intellects, in all of Europe. This was Valentin himself, the head of the Paris police, the most famous investigator in the world. He had just arrived in London to make the greatest arrest of the century.”

I slapped the book shut and shrugged, “Oh well, I guess you guys aren’t into Chesterton like I am…”

Which of course resulted in them begging me to continue. And that was all it took. It only takes one slight introduction to Father Brown and then you’re just sunk. Believe us. We know. :) This last week we finished the reader with The Absence of Mr. Glass and this quote stopped us all in our tracks:

A man who is used to using his intellect on large problems is pleased and proud to use his brain on a little problem.”

Which makes doing the long division assignment for that day far more worthwhile and maybe even tolerable, right? I’m ordering the second reader, at my children’s insistence. :)

 ***

Weekends with Chesterton: cultivating the intellectual lifeEvery weekend in 2014, we’re digging into the prolific work of G.K. Chesterton here at Amongst Lovely Things. Join us! All you need is a snippet- a short quote taken from anything he’s written. Blog it and link up below, or share your snippet to the comments on this post.

You can add commentary or photos if you’d like (you know I can’t ever resist adding a photo, myself!), but all you need is a snippet. Let’s keep this thing simple! Reading even a few lines of Chesterton every week is bound to be profitable.

First Spring Daybook

Outside my window…

Glorious sunshine. Spring is HERE!

Giving thanks… 

For wonderful friends and fun new projects, invigorating ideas, stacks of uncracked books, hot foamy lattes, sunshine filtering through the window, sliding into sheets at night with a book to keep me warm, little girl curls, hamhock baby legs, kids that make me laugh, and a husband who’s awfully nice to look at when he walks out the door in a suit and tie.

And that’s just for starters. ;)

I am thinking about…

Quality Education is Not Rocket Science, which is pretty much the best post I’ve read on education, ever. The Superintendent has no clothes. Oh my gosh. I about died in a fit of glee over that line.

In the Schoolroom…

I’m just starting to think about next year. And I’m thinking about The Hobbit, too, because Emily sent me her unit study to go with it, and even though I’m not usually a unit study kind of person, this one looks pretty fantastic. (meaning: not packed with busywork or silly fluff just because it links back to the book.) It looks so good, in fact, that I think we’ll make it the centerpiece of our school day for May and the beginning of June. If I can make myself wait that long.

From the kitchen…

Copycat PF Chang’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps, Spaghetti with Italian Sausage and Butternut Squash Pasta Sauce (sauce from Costco), Pasta with Myzithra and Browned Butter… I’m feeling very “on” in the kitchen for some reason. I even planned out five weeks of dinner! Miracles never cease.

I am creating…

a podcast! I’ve got some awesome guests all lined up (Andrew Pudewa, Jim Weiss, Lisabeth Sewell, and Adam Andrews, just to name a few!) and I cannot wait to get this thing off the ground. I walk around the house saying things like, “You’re listening to the Read-Aloud Revival podcast; I’m your host, Sarah Mackenzie!” and my kids roll and roll and roll their eyes. And Andy snickers. :P

The first show will be ready in late April, and I’ll be sending out an email as soon as it’s ready. If you want to be on the list to be notified, make sure to pop your email into this form:

I don’t ever want to forget…

the way Posy says “a whole boy!” whenever she sees one of the twins. It’s like she’s surprised that there isn’t half a boy. Or something?

I am working on…

taking care of myself so that last week doesn’t happen again (last week: stomach virus, head cold, mastitis). Kim, Barbara, and Angela- I know I seem stubborn, but I really am listening to your advice. :)

I am reading…

books! I cut my online reading waaaaaaay down and I’m filling up my tank with books instead, much to my own pleasure. I’m reading Holy is the Day by Carolyn Weber which is absolutely positively fantastic and you simply MUST add it to your to-read pile. Also reading Outliers by Malcom Gladwell, The Liberal Arts Tradition by Ravi Jain and Kevin Clark, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis (because that one needs to be re-read frequently!). I finished The Minor Adjustment Beauty Salon so it’s time for some new fiction.      

I am praying…

For my sister’s new sweet baby. And for her too. Postpartum life is hard! (and wonderful)

I am struggling…

with my husband’s work schedule. Do any of you remember what color his eyes are? I can’t quite remember…

I am hearing…

I listened to Tsh Oxenreider chat with Susan Wise Bauer on her podcast recently, and it was so good! I’m adding it to my page of recommended audio lectures and podcasts.

Clicking around…

I Am So Glad I Held Them After Their Naps :: My Child, I Love You
Creative Classical Education- Is it Possible? :: Sandbox to Socrates
How to Integrate Poetry into the Day :: Simply Convivial
Finding Rhythm in Homeschooling :: Nurturing Learning
One is never too small to listen in on Tolstoy. ;)
 (Do you recognize the storyteller? That’s Angela, from my last issue of Flourish!)

Around the house…

Oh look! Squirrel!

One of my favorite things…

The Read-Aloud Book of Bible Stories. Sophia Institute Press sent me a copy and OH MY GOODNESS, how is it possible that I hadn’t heard of it before? Hands down, the best set of Bible stories I’ve come across yet.

When night comes down and everything is dark and black, we sometimes are a little afraid, for we cannot see all the pleasant things around us, and it makes us feel lonely to be in the dark...”

Ever heard a creation story begin like that? Yeah. I know. We’re reading it cover to cover, and we’re already 1/3 of the way through (that happens when your 8-year-old son begs for “one more Bible story, pleeeeeease Mom.” How does one say no to that?)

A few plans for the next week…

The last week before the girl’s Irish Dance recital, so it’s likely to be a brutal one. A  hang-on-and-make-it-to-the-other-side kind of week!

The news in twins…

Eight months now, if you can believe that. So very close to crawling. They get up on their hands and knees and rock and rock and rock, then lunge forward (or backward) to get to whatever is just outside their reach. They steal each others’ binkies and take each others’ toys and laugh at each others’ jokes. It’s such great fun. We barely get anything else done around here because we have such constant entertainment. :)

I’m no longer nursing them both at the same time- too much eye-jabbing and hair-pulling. Ha! So it’s one-at-a-time now, but they are pretty industrious about it, so it’s do-able. I need to introduce some new foods- they’re still on a lot of puree and I like things open-and-go because I’m lazy busy, so I haven’t been on the ball with getting new foods in front of them.

Let’s not talk about sleeping. Someday my twins will sleep, and probably at the same time even! Hope is the thing with feathers…

This post contains links. Thank you so much for your support! I really appreciate it.  Disclosure.