Recently a friend with little kids asked about volunteering as a family, she wanted to know the how and the why of volunteering, even with small children in tow. And most of the folk reading our blog will understand that the help of small children can often be a lot less helpful than we would like! That being said, we have found that volunteering as a family has been a great way for us to enjoy spending time together as a family, there is nothing like working together to create a team spirit. We are called to serve: Joshua 24:15 “… But as for me and my household we will serve the Lord.” Our whole household is called to serve, not just those sixteen and over… everybody can work towards a project that is bigger than themselves, and make a difference.
If you read about volunteering, so much of it seems counter-cultural, especially if you are approaching from a “to each his own” first world culture. We are also geared up into thinking that we have to do something huge in order to be make a difference. Serving a guest a nice drink, or cheerfully helping an old friend with their gardening, is also volunteering and perfectly doable even for small people. We live in the world of “Go big or Go Home…” yes it is awesome and dreamy to be part of the big stuff, but it is also an attitude of the heart and it is best to learn heart stuff by starting small.
Se7en + 1 Bible Verses To Nuture For A LifeStyle of Volunteering
- “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” Ephesians 6:7-8:
To serve is a whole lot more about our attitude than our actions. How often we hope no-one will notice if we don’t put our hands up to help and when we can’t avoid being noticed, we raise our hand to volunteer and then try so ridiculously hard to impress other people, not just the neighbours, but friends and family too… we try so hard to impress, we crash and burn, fail, pick ourselves up again and repeat. We are actually called to do our best, and to serve the Lord… no one expects us to impress anyone. Luckily, because the kind of volunteering I have been involved in might have required strong and energetic youngsters… not you know, past their prime-mothers of many… and I was certainly impressing nobody… but I was making a difference and that counts, and I have a feeling it might count a lot more than we expect it too.
- “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15
We were created to work… before the fall in Genesis 3, God created families and he created us to work… and it was good. And that is why we enjoy working hard so much… half hearted work, that we are not committed too, does not reflect our inate character. And a first world culture that is crying for the “Earn as much as you can for as little work as possible” goes against our need to work. I don’t think my kids have ever gotten back from a day of tree planting or painting a container for a school building, or a beach clean-up and said that they didn’t love it. We are meant to work hard and when we do, for the right reasons, we will love it.
- “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians9: 6-7
We live in a culture of “looking after number one” and our gut reaction, and this is true for myself, is very often to say “no” and then consider things a little longer and maybe say, “yes.” It is not natural for us to generously give of our money… and we have become incredibly self-absorbed with our time. We talk about hours spent on our morning routine, or hours spent online not actually working… but how often we say we don’t have time to chat to folk at church who may’ve had a bad week, or found out if all a student needs to get through the next week is a bag of groceries so that they can concentrate on their studies rather than their next meal. We are called to give generously but we don’t. As a family we have found that by committing days to volunteering long in advance and just blocking them out on the calendar that those days are then booked. It is so much harder to find a free day once you are in the thick of things.
- “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; Psalm 24:1
We live in a culture of ownership, we need to remember who we belong to. It is one thing to say that we are stewards of the world and quite another to behave as guests in it. If I was visiting someone’s home then I would never tolerate litter on the floor, well the time has arrived that a visit to the beach inevitably means a beach clean-up before we play. No we don’t own the beach or the park, or the mountainside for that matter, but we do care about it and we do need to keep them clean and not wait for someone else to clean it up.
- “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10
I mentioned before that we are called to work, yet we are so tempted to feast on the plate of idleness… we can spend our days wasted in busy-ness… there is nothing like the fatigue of a a couple of hours spent browsing around on social media… compared to the tiredness that comes from a good day of actual work. Often we say, oh we can’t… but there are so many million ways to volunteer that if you can’t do one thing then you can certainly do another. You might not be able to build a school with your hands own from where you are standing, but you could sort your book cases and create a pile of books to donate. There is no shortage of work to be done… there is always a shortage of eager workers. I would like our kids to grow up to be eager workers.
- “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” Colossians 3:22-23
If your goal is to impress the neighbours, or your kids, or even your husband then you will fail. In fact, I have found the closer to home I go, the less likely folk are going to be with the things that I do… just saying, have you ever tried to impress your own kids, talk about mission impossible. Honestly I don’t think I am shining beam of volunteering example for my kids, but I do think that by consistently saying yes we can help, when a friend asks us to help with the Christmas party for local street kids, or spend a day planting trees in a dog shelter… that while I am encouraging our kids to serve faithfully they are also learning that this is just a way of life and not something we do to try and impress the neighbours.
- “Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.” 1 Peter 4:9
One of the most overlooked areas of volunteering… having folk over to visit in your home can be a great way to volunteer and offer sanctuary to those that are in need… folk might be in need of rest, they might be in need of homework help, they might just need someone to talk to… this too is volunteering and it is something that definitely requires team work from all the players involved… someone has to sweep, someone has to bake something and someone has to clean the bathroom. I can assure you that I am unable to do all that in an instant… but my team of players can certainly pull that off. We are all still working on the grumbling part.
- “Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Romans 12:9-13
In a world where folk are doing important jobs and are busy with important work… it might important to just take a breathe and realise that you are important enough to spend time with your family and as a family do something for somebody else. It doesn’t have to be massive, though it can be… and surprisingly enough it will most likely turn out to be not only hard work… but a lot of fun. The joyful part follows naturally from wholesome work… try it you’ll see.
Tags: Caring and Sharing · Sunday Snippet
So February is here… along with perfect summer evenings…
There is still plenty of time to join our French Classic Cooking Course, click on the image, it will take you to the post with all the info… leave a comment and we will get back to you soonest…
Lovely Links from This Week
- The one post every husband wishes their wives would read, on Joyforney.
- Here’s a Great Reason to plant a heap more trees… today. Right now.
- Absolutely loved this post on Mapping and Literary Maps on TygerTale.
- Babble Dabble Do does a fab roundup on everything you ever needed to know about Play Do…
- Sylvia Earle and Mission Blue II and Why the Ocean Needs Storytellers…
- How’s This… a Virtual tour of the National Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian!!!
- Fat Mum Slim has 19 of the best Free Printable Coloring Pages…
And the se7en + 1th link:
A Blast From the Past:
It appears that we are not natural tree sellers, we are okay with that. We do want to raise awareness of the GreenPop Venture…
I have to say though, that at this stage we are so excited and love that so many of our readers are already chomping at the bit to send books… for
A couple of folk have emailed me about this already… so excited to hear our readers are good and ready to go with this project again… and I will be getting back to you folk with all the details as soon as we are good to go!!!
And finally… In case you didn’t notice, Julia Donaldson is in town and if you don’t have tickets yet, then you had better dash…
That’s us… Hope you all have a fabulous week!!!
Tags: Fabulous Friday Fun
February 4th, 2016 · 2 Comments
When you live with a natural maker… then between the recycling bin and the fabric scrap basket, you are going to find yourself surrounded by flowers… lots of them!!!
Let’s Meet the Players
- Fabric scraps
- Bottle tops
- White glue
Let’s Play the Game
Choose and trim the scraps that you want to use as petals…
Slightly flatten your bottle top… this part isn’t essential, but hay when a gal loves to use chunky tools from the tool box I’m all for it.
Place the petals around the bottle top… Pour some glue onto of the petals and into the bottle cap…
Drop sparkly beads into your glue…
The more beads the merrier… Leave your flowers to dry over night…
And slowly but surely you will grow a sweet collection of flowers…
Tags: Recycle Crafts · Tuesday Art Task
February 2nd, 2016 · 2 Comments
This book has been floating on our coffee table for a little while now, it is one of those books that once you start browsing you just can’t stop… Step inside and you could be lost for hours, you may have been looking for one thing, but there are heaps of other interesting facts that will grab your attention along the way. The team that thought this would be a fun reference book and intended for it be used by students of all ages, for all sorts of assignments, were right, but this book is so much more than just a reference book, it is also a whole lot of fun.
Each year we begin a new and awesome book that we read through as a family for school, last year it was The History of the World in 1000 Objects, and before that The History of Britain and Ireland. Well, we are almost finished The History of the World in 1000 Objects and the Picturepedia goes straight to the top of the list for this year. It is quite literally a Visual Dictionary with Super Powers…
Se7en Things We Love About This Book
- It is big, in every sense of the word… forget pocket book, this is the kind of book you have to spread open on a table, open up flat and pour over.
- The topics cover vast areas of information, from the human body to crocodiles, the ocean to fashion, water sports to spies… there is something in here for everyone.
- The photography is, well it is a DK Book, superb… There is something about the photographic delight of a DK Book that makes you feel like you are climbing into an epic adventure… every page is packed with a mini escapade.
- Each double page spread contains crystal clear images. Not just photographs, infographics… Lists and lists of incredible facts, not to mention heaps of easy to read details. There literally is something new and incredible to discover on every single page.
- Some of the facts are great fodder for filling the “general knowledge bucket” and make great discussion starters at the dinner table: Which country eats the most bread per person per year? Do you know where the driest place on earth is? Do you know the difference between and a tennis ball and a real tennis ball? There is no surprise as to which country eats the most pasta per year, but you will never guess just how much pasta. The list of incredible facts appears to be endless.
- It isn’t just a pile of facts there are lots of “how to do’s” too… Magic tricks, a loaf of bread, knots and knotting… and things to try… saying hello in countless languages, and taking a peak at cultures from all over the world.
- So we did a scavenger hunt… looking for things around the house that we could match up in the book… you would be amazed at the number of random factoids that you have just lying around your house. This book is a fantastic way to learn the back story to every day objects and lots and lots of obscure objects too.
The Picturepedia is published by Penguin Random House South Africa and we were given a copy for review purposes. If you need to see some more details you can take a look inside on the DK Books website.
Tags: Brilliant Books
February 1st, 2016 · 2 Comments
Welcome to February… Just cannot believe that February is here already…
Click on the calendar page, it will open in a new tab, print it out (landscape works better) and then colour it and fill in the days that you want to celebrate… pop it on the fridge and you are good to go. You can still find all the calendar pages down the right hand side of our website and they are all gathered together in our Almanac page for easy searching… If you have holidays or ideas that you would like to add then please go ahead and comment, I would love to have our calendars packed to the brim!!!
Here you go:
1 February: Robinson Crusoe Day
1 February: National Baked Alaska Day.
2 February: Groundhog Day
3 February: Elmo’s Birthday
4 February 1902: Charles Lindbergh’s Birthday (1902 – 1974).
4 February 1913: Rosa Parks Birthday (1913 – 2005).
5 February: Western Monarch Day (U.S.A.)
6 February 1895: Babe Ruth’s Birthday (1895 – 1948)
6 February 1935: Monopoly Board Game.
6 February 1911: Ronald Reagan (1911 – 2004).
7 February 1812: Charles Dickens Birthday (1812 – 1870)
7 February 1867: Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867 – 1957).
8 February 1828: Jules Verne (1828 – 1905).
9 February 1894: Hershey Chocolate Founded (1894).
9 February: Clean out Your Computer Day.
11 February 1990: Nelson Mandela Released (1990).
11 February 1847: Thomas Edison (1847 – 1931).
12 February 1809: Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865).
12 February 1809: Charles Darwin (1809 – 1882).
It’s less than a month until International Book Giving Day…
14 February: World Book Giving Day.
14 February: Valentines Day.
14 February: Ferris Wheel Day.
15 February 1564: Galileo Galilei (1564 – 1642).
16 February: Presidents Day.
18 February 1930: Pluto Discovered.
18 February: World Whale Day.
19 February 1473: Nicolaus Copernicus (1473 – 1543).
20 February 1962: John Glen orbits the earth.
20 February: Toothpick patented (1872).
22 February 1732: George Washington (1732 – 1799).
23 February 1997: Dolly the Sheep Cloned.
24 February: Wilhelm Grimm (1786 – 1859).
25 February 1841: Pierre Renoir (1841 – 1919).
26 February 1846: Buffalo Bill (1846 – 1917).
26 February 1829: Levi Strauss (1829 – 1902)
27 February: Polar Bear Day.
27 February 1807: Henry Wadsworth-Longfellow (1807 – 1882).
28 February 1953: DNA discovered (1953).
Tags: Celebrity Calendar
We are inviting you to join us on a French Classic Cooking Course, we have an extra special deal to share with all our readers… A couple of the Yuppie Chef courses have just been put on the UDEMY platform, which is an online learning platform with bazillions of online courses. The French Classic Cooking Course is available right now on the UDEMY site at $29.00… but I have a fabulous special of our readers. I have a number of vouchers that will allow up to fifty folk to join us in the class for only $5.
A new year and half way through our school year and we are always looking for some inspiration to get us through the second half, something fun and something that we can all enjoy together. How about a cooking course. Our kids learn French as part of their schooling and I know they are dying to master some French Classic Cooking skills, not to mention the father person’s favourite dish in the world is a fine crème brulèe…
A while back Yuppie Chef started a Cooking School… online lessons and perfect for all ages and stages. We found the courses a great way to learn online: a series of fantastic videos, with class notes and printable recipes, se7en lessons and each lesson finishes with a fun quiz to see if you have learnt the material well.
Previous Yuppie Chef Courses We’ve Done
We have found online learning to be a great way to supplement our school and a fun way to learn together as a family. The one difficult thing about learning online is that it is easy to sign up, do one lesson and then weeks pass by and you never get back to it. So we have decided to invite our readers to join with us. Sign up, for a great deal and then experience the ride with us.
Here’s the Plan
We are taking a week for folk to sign up and preview the course, and give everyone a chance to get their ducks in a row. Next weekend we will start in our kitchen with Lesson 1, and we will instagram (#cookingwithse7en) our experiences as they happen. Each Monday after that we will blog about our journey through the lesson and readers will be able to share their experiences and cooking too. And we will do that week after week until we have made our way through the course. The idea is that every one has a week to conquer a class, share your feasts on instagram and each Monday we will blog a post, pulling the story together.
French Cooking – The Course Outline
- Lesson 1: Introduction
- Lesson 2: Soups – A soupe au pistou and soupe gratinée à l’oignon recipe
- Lesson 3: Sauces – A Hollandaise sauce and vinaigrette recipe
- Lesson 4: Potatoes – A gratin dauphinois, pommes purée and pommes frite recipe
- Lesson 5: Poultry – A canard à l’orange and poulet basquaise recipe
- Lesson 6: Steak – A steak au poivre and a steak sauce Bordelaise recipe
- Lesson 7: Desserts – A crème brulée and crêpes Suzette recipe
How to Join Us
The French Classic Cooking Course is available right now on the UDEMY site at $29.00… but I have a fabulous special of our readers, wherever you are in the world. I have a number of vouchers that will allow up to fifty folk to join us for only $5.
If you would like to join us, leave a comment
You will receive, via email, a voucher that allows you to access the course for only $5.
I do have to add that this isn’t automated, I have to email each of you and it might take a little while to get back to you, we homeschool a number of kids over here and email takes time… don’t panic I will get back to you with a voucher as soon as I possibly can.
We would like to thank Yuppie Chef for inviting us to join them on their new Cooking School Adventure with UDEMY. This is not a sponsored post and we were not paid to write it. However Yuppie Chef did provide us with free access to the course and fifty $5. vouchers to share with our readers. Opinions expressed throughout our journey will be as usual, entirely our own.
Tags: Cook Book Reviews · Monday Munchies
January 28th, 2016 · 8 Comments
As I look back on our January blog posts over the years there is almost always on a post on rest, on slowing down, on avoiding the dash… it is a favourite theme of mine. The year that begins, for us, with summer holidays and walks on the beach… with everything in order… new calendars, fresh planners and inspiring holiday reads on getting so many things done. It appears to be so in order, like perfectly stacked coils of rope on the beach, our year appears to be off to a very good start.
Alas, often by this time of year, a week or two back into school, summer breaks are all but forgotten and really all folk can think about is how to get to the next weekend. Resolutions have simply flown out the window and new habits are having a hard time sticking… In fact, with all our rushing about and getting from one activity to the next one and the pressure to get everything done, very often we find ourselves slightly unraveled… and that is before February even begins.
So I am launching my year from a place of rest… In a world where self improvement is a way of life and productivity is measured by busyness I am looking out for ways to slow things down in those crazy places and picking up those important things that we never have time for. It is seems so against the flow, but for us it works. I am not talking about the obvious here… and that is sleep, break those bad habits, be the grown up and send yourself to bed… I am talking about finding rest in the day to day humdrum of life.
Se7en+1 Ways to Raise Your Game by Slowing Down
- A Morning Read: So many good habits are being added to folks’ morning routines that I am not surprised they need another nap before breakfast. The reality is, you just can’t do it all before breakfast. One thing I do know is I hate rising fast… leaping out of bed and dashing is just not for me, and always leaves me floundering my way through breakfast. This year on waking up I have headed straight for the couch and read a chapter or two of my latest book, before starting the day. Any little body that wakes before I am done, gets to do their school reading, and they have discovered they can be done before school. Just that little moment in time has meant that I am ready to face the world… I may be taking longer to launch but I am good and ready when I do. Not to mention, those couple of chapters are adding up to more books read than usual, by far.
- Making Time for Friends: Nothing creates a mini break from the world like spending time with friends. Work stops, coffee brews and it is so good to chat. The days of saying I am too busy with kids to see friends are totally over. Friends sustain us through thick and thin, we live in a world where it is okay to call a friend when we are in trouble. I am thinking, so much, that we need to be present with our friends on the good days as well. I realise that so many of my friends are on the far side of the world… the last couple of months I have popped the kettle on, while they pop the kettle on, and what began as swapping pics of our coffees have become conversations and “catching up for lost time.” I tell you the truth it is a good thing to have friends, and those best friends on the far side of the world… catch up with them, they are best friends for a reason and we need them.
- Stop and Notice What is Getting Done: What can I say, I am a homeschool mom, and I have never met one that doesn’t feel like they are falling behind. In the past I would go into a flurry mid-morning, and create a huge pile of things to still do before lunch time. This year I have been putting all the books we are done with away by tea time. Don’t tell my kids, but it is astonishing what you can get through when you know most of your work for the day is done already.
- Losing the Manic Panic in Monday: I have always saved the fun things for Friday, little rewards like pancakes for breakfast, after a week well done. Well over the years our Mondays fizzled into a day to avoid every single week… the kids get home from evening church late and consequently get to bed much later than usual. Grumpy Mondays… inevitable. Not to mention the piles of dishes and laundry left over from a busy weekend, and yet I still tried to do a full day of school every Monday. Turns out letting everyone sleep until they are done, a late pancake breakfast and redefining a full day of school as “getting a heap of the week’s reading done” gets us off to a much better start.
- Stop Checking on those Chores: My kids have chores, they are their responsibility. How much energy I have wasted over the years asking, “Has the floor has been swept yet?” The floor still gets swept, maybe not in my time, but it is getting done. I have left the chores behind and turned a blind eye, my kids all know how to do a job. Checking that they have done a task, means that I am training them to do a job if someone is watching them… my kids know that we are all in this together and they need to know that if they see their job undone that they need to get on with it. Just taking a breath and looking the other way, doesn’t mean everyone is slacking off, just that is one less responsibility that I have to deal with.
- Just Get Offline Already: Counter productive indeed, especially from someone who works online. Seriously… scrolling down your screen looking for a fab tweet to retweet, or commenting on an Instagram pic while you are actually meant to be doing dinner, just doesn’t work. The secret to getting almost all our school work done, whoever manages it all (!!!), on a given day has just been to switch my phone off and be done with it. I love to school with my kids, I love learning a alongside them… I love being on the internet too… but both at the same time is not multitasking, it is really just failing. There is nothing more frazzling than trying to do schoolwork with a small person and twittering at the same time, it is a recipe for “the furthest thing from rest.” Take a pic of the fun you are having, you can Instagram it later. Save up all your good behaviour points for the people that count, clean the kitchen counters for your family, sort a bookshelf with your kids because it is fun to sort books, go for a walk with your gang because it is good… not because you feel that folk are waiting for your next picture. Your true online friends, like real friends, care far more about you the person, than you the blogger or Instagrammer.
- The Sacred Afternoon Rest: I understand that if you are working in an office this is impossible… but just so you know I don’t work in an office… while I have always encouraged my kids to do their reading after lunch. This past school year I had the not so brilliant idea to sit with a different child each day and catch up on any reading that we hadn’t gotten around to during school time. It turns out that a double page spread read with a mother half dozing can literally take an hour to get through and is dreadfully boring… our afternoon break was taking longer and longer and less and less was getting done. This year, everyone does their own reading – including myself, and should anyone (ahem me) need a quick nap, then they take one. That same reading that was taking all afternoon, is now read in a couple of minutes while that child peels carrots or the rice is boiling during dinner prep. It is amazing how much you can get done when you aren’t actually asleep.
So here’s the thing, I really would like in a practical way, to stay away from crazy unraveling and keep things slightly in order. It is ambitious I know… but I am hoping for more than just to launch this year from a place of rest. A week or two away at a luxury resort is not what I am looking for… just the thought of the re-entry is enough to put me off. I really believe that we have what we have been provided for in every way… including in rest. The world has told us that in order to be productive we need to be busy… I am not for a moment suggesting idleness, but I do think that perhaps in order to be productive we need to get a lot less busy and get a lot more rest… so that we have the energy to conquer the things that really matter.
Tags: Kids · Thoughtful Thursdays