Hi, my name is Melissa. Pour yourself a cup of tea and stay a while. I'm completely devoted to my Savior, madly in love with my husband, and joyously raising my daughters. I'm so glad you stopped by and I hope you enjoy your time here!

Monday, January 14, 2019

New Year Update

Well, we are 2 weeks into the new year. 2019 has been busy, but blissfully uneventful for our family. A mild cold is finishing its course through the house, but it isn't anything too serious. School started back last week without a hitch, and we are busily running around for basketball season. As part of our Christmas we spent an evening at Carowinds. This is a dream-come-true for me! I'm a huge fan of all things Peanuts. 

We are back in full swing with Heart of Dakota. The girls are not all on the same unit numbers, but they are all near the beginning of each of our guides. It has been a while since we found ourselves in relatively the same place. 

Rose is working through Missions to Modern Marvels. We are also completing some high school course work and charting out what high school will look like. British Literature was a bold choice for her first high school course, but she's excelling. She really enjoyed Shakespeare and is currently reading Paradise Lost. I'm excited she'll be getting to some of my favorite authors soon. 

Beth is excitedly diving into Resurrection to Reformation. She's super excited to be in this guide and while Creation to Christ proved to be a stretching year, she's very comfortable now with the idea of independent work. I often find her already working hard when I come down for the day. 

Grace is eagerly devouring Preparing Hearts. She too is embracing independence and loves our use of the Master Books history spine, The World's Story. She's in 4th grade, and this is a middle school text, but the reading level is perfect for her and the biblical perspective more in line with our world-view. It's engaging and good for us to read together. We do not use all of the extras which go along with it. 

In between school at home the girls have their Wednesday science class, church activities, and basketball. Clogging starts up next month and Beth is especially excited for that! My husband and I are contemplating trying it out as well. We'll see...

Christmas in Florida was warm and sunny. We enjoyed an unusual December snowfall her in the south a couple of weeks before we left, so the warmth and sunshine was a nice reprieve. The girls especially had a wonderful time with their cousins. 

I've started using a planner this year, The Christian Planner. I have found that using this has significantly increased my productivity and decreased my stress level. I'll be posting on Instagram about how I'm doing as well as using Motivated Moms printable chore list. I like the app, but since that is in a restructuring phase I'm finding the printable lists to be immensely helpful. 

So there you have a very long overdue update. I'll be back to weekly updates at the end of this week! 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Adventures in Odyssey: Our Constant Travel Companion

Our family really loves going on road trips! Whether day trips or overnight stays we are always up for an adventure. The one mainstay on our trips is Adventures in Odyssey! On really long road trips to Florida to visit family we would often take our entire CD collection in a case! You never know which one you might want to hear! Thanks to the Adventures in Odyssey App we don’t need to take the entire thing anymore! 

Now when we travel I make sure to download several episodes within the app so we can listen without WiFi or using data. Sometimes I download a story arc, but most recently I’ve just been picking some of our favorites. If you haven’t tried this series yet, you can always start with this set! 

This one has some of the best episodes about travel and vacation as well as some other super fun adventures! The best part is you have access to every episode of Adventures in Odyssey ALL THE TIME! Not only that, there are many bonuses within the app like the original  animated series, behind the scenes interviews and info with the podcasts, and Radio Theater dramas produced by Focus on the Family. It’s an excellent value and the best part is you can give it a free trial. 

Take some time to check it out and see all the advantages of subscribing to the club! 

Disclaimer: In exchange for promoting The Adventures in Odyssey Club I receive a membership to The Adventures in Odyssey Club. I am not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Me and My Great Ideas: Portable Watercolor Palette

My poor husband indulges me endlessly with my crazy ideas! He supports me like crazy, but I have a feeling he feels like this more often than not...

So my latest idea comes from my desire to pursue my long forgotten love of drawing. I want to learn more about watercolor, especially with regards to painting nature. So I got it in my head a few weeks ago how great a little portable palette set would be. So off I went searching and scouring. Trying to find cheap, but questioning if they were any good. Then I stumbled upon "do it yourself" palettes. I found one I liked and off I went! 

I'm incredibly pleased with how this turned out! 

I'm well known for saving any little container I can. You never know when it will come in useful to store something! This is one I've had for ages, maybe since high school? I honestly have no remembrance of its origins. It has something to do with Coke because that's what is on the inside, but otherwise I'm clueless! I've seen a variety of little boxes used, but I was looking for something compact, but not too compact, metal, and close-able. I don't care it's a bit banged up and dented. 

So based on the idea from the blog post I found on pinterest I used hotglue to create a divided palette. I lined the bottom with tin foil because I wasn't sure how well the glue would stick to the container. I made 3 layers total of my grid and had this sweet little palette when I finished. 

I then filled in each compartment with liquid watercolor. You can see some of my colors are a little old, but I don't care. I'm not trying to sell my art or anything. This is just for my own personal joy. 

I read a fantastic article a few weeks ago about how people are getting away from artistic endeavors which simply bring joy because they are so concerned about perfection and mastery. I am choosing to enjoy art and painting without desiring to become a master! 

Next I mushed the paint into the corners so it would fill the spots. I started with a brush to do this, but ended up using tooth picks. 

Next I made little labels identifying the colors of my palette so I know what they look like and their names. 

I painted the lid white, stuck on my labels, and glued in some bottle caps to make color mixing areas. It's now sitting up on a shelf drying out because the idea is to have dry pigment rather than wet. I think it's just adorable and I can't wait to give it a try! It will be a few days while it dries, but I'll post some art I create using this fun little tool! 

Have you created something recently? 

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Seven Deadly Friendships by Mary DeMuth: A Book Launch Review

 Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a friendship where something seemed off? Maybe you felt like you were always walking on egg-shells. Maybe you braced yourself for the sales-pitch that you knew was coming. Maybe you always feel inadequate or unhappy after spending time with the individual. Our world is full of relationships and sometimes those relationships are unhealthy. 

Seven Deadly Friendships by Mary DeMuth is the first book I've ever read that deals head-on with a variety of unhealthy personalities as they relate to friendships. By the end of this book you will be able to identify toxic friendships in your life and know what to do about them. We can be so afraid of repercussions that we remain in close friendships we shouldn't have any part of. Other times there are relationships we cannot avoid for whatever reason, but if you can identify exactly what is going on you can be prepared and know how best to preserve yourself and others around you. 

The best part of this book is that it is steeped in God's Word. I love that the author's goal is to help readers heal from hurt without allowing any bitterness to remain. Satan's goal is to steal your joy and destroy your healthy relationships. This book will help you see where things are wrong, but will also give you the tools to move forward in a healthy, God-filled way! 

Here is a sneak-peak at the people you will meet in the book. The tricky part is identifying which individuals are in your life because you need to deal with the different characters in different ways. I also think it is healthy to assess your own heart and make sure you are not slipping towards any one of these identities. We don't like to see ourselves as the problem causers, but if we as Christians took more time to invest in allowing the Holy Spirit to convict us, He could use us more fully and we may find the relationships around us becoming healthier! 

As I read this book I realized the Lord has been teaching me much of this over the previous year about relationships and I personally used this book in a different manner. I quickly was able to identify some of these individuals in my own life. As I read I looked for ways to pray for them. Sometimes we need to remove ourselves from relationships with toxic individuals, but what if that is not fully possible? We should recognize the role of prayer in these relationships. As I read I made a private list of ways to pray for specific people. Although there are times when friendships need to end, none of the relationships I was evaluating were at that point. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this e-book in exchange for my honest review. I was note required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines from Lisa Tanner Writing: A TOS Crew Review

Lisa Tanner Writing
When we moved to North Carolina I remember praying the Lord would provide just 5 piano students for me to teach from my home. Initially I was discouraged because I didn't even have one student! Then I discovered I was pregnant with Grace. After she was born the Lord provided 1 student. That was nine years ago. Last year I was teaching 36 students! Woah! The growth that happened meant I had to quickly figure out how to manage it all with littles all around me! We weren't homeschooling until a few years into my piano teaching business, but when we did that added a completely different dimension. I floundered around as my time became more and more limited. Oh how I wish I had Balancing Diapers and Deadlines from Lisa Tanner Writing  during those early years of my at-home business! 

Balancing Diapers and Deadlines
Sitting down with this course was like sitting down with a cup of coffee and chatting with a good friend. The author's writing style is easy going and easy to read! You will feel encouraged and challenged throughout every section. I appreciated that they were "bite-sized" and I could work at my own pace. If you have ever tried to get anything accomplished with your kids running around, you know why this is important! Thankfully by the end of this course the author will have guided you so that you can accomplish lots with all of your littles underfoot. 
For the most part, I have already implemented many of Lisa Tanner's ideas into our home, but it took me years to figure out these needed changes. As I said before, I really wish I'd had this course years ago! Some of best advice concerns how to handle chores.  

I knew I could relate to the author when she admitted her hatred of laundry! I felt like I could have written what she did about how she used to handle the laundry, and honestly how I often do handle the laundry much to my family's frustration! I have the beginning of a plan implemented, but the post-drying plan is non-existent so it piles up clean. I appreciated reading her real-life example of her laundry plan and although her particular way of structuring this frustrating chores works for her family, I don't think that it will for ours. The great thing is that it doesn't have to! The author has inspired me to think outside of the box and find something that will work so that I have one less stress in my life. 

Another section that has me thinking differently is meal planning. I already typically plan meals, but it does take quite a bit of time and I often think there must be a better way! The author suggests a FULL YEAR of meal planning! WOWZA! That is quite an undertaking. She even provides meal plans for you for five full years which is completely amazing! We definitely could use a different system although, again, I'm not certain a full year will work. I plan to start with a month at a time to see how that works. The one issue we are facing that makes this harder is we have had to make some diet changes for 2 of us in the last 6 months. Buying in bulk is difficult because of our small pantry. However, a monthly plan may work out for us. I can't wait to give this a try! 

I absolutely loved Making Your Minutes Count and have found this the easiest and best implementation for me. When you homeschool and work every minute counts! Not only that, I have two part-time jobs as well as a slew of church responsibilities since my husband is the pastor. I'm also pursuing free-lance writing more fervently. This means that my "spare minutes" are precious few. Having a game-plan in place ahead of time is just what I needed to make this more reasonable. 

Over the summer I acquired a desk just for me in our schoolroom! I love having this space just for me to sit and work. After getting it organized the next step was to get a plan in place. I have a sweet little notebook I use to organize my various roles, jobs, and responsibilities. On separate pages I use a different color ink for a to-do list. I also include due dates so I have an idea of what needs to be done first. This has worked really well for me to organize the craziness of my life and include some down-time for me as well! 

Productivity is one of the harder areas for me. I'm learning to fight against my natural bent towards procrastination and be as productive as possible. What is beautiful about this course is no matter where you are in your life, how many kids you have, or your personality, you will  glean wonderful helps and insights. If you are a work-from-home mama, or hope to be one day, grab this course and start your journey to productivity!
Balancing Diapers and Deadlines {Lisa Tanner Writing Reviews}
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