First Grade and Preschool Curriculum 17/18

There are a few things my first grader is doing that my preschooler will not be joining in on because of ability. However, I like to keep the kids grouped as much as possible because it is a better use of time and it helps the days flow more smoothly. These are in addition to the Morning Basket time.

Math

The current plan is to use Life of Fred alternating with a few math activity boxes that we’ll rotate through. That could change depending on how these guys do with Life of Fred. Keep your eyes open for a post about those math activity boxes!

Literature

Our first term, we are studying Fairy Tales. We will be reading them daily and doing a couple activities a week based on a fairy tale from that week. We’re reading various tales from the following books:

Mary Engelbreit’s Nursery and Fairy Tales Collection (the illustrations in these are amazing)

Mary Engelbreit’s Mother Goose

Time Lord Fairy Tales

The Little Mermaid and Other Fairy Tales (Hans Christian Anderson)

Grimm’s Fairy Tales

A Treasury of Best Loved Fairy Tales (Barnes and Noble Bargain Books)

Phonics

For the first two terms, we’re doing Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales the first two and we’ll see where that gets us. I expect the preschooler to stick to Alpha Tales while his brother moves through Phonics Tales. We’ll also be adding in My ABC Bible Verses whenever it isn’t backordered anymore.

Science

This age really loves books about science. So, we’re doing science daily with them.

Kingfisher First Encyclopedia of Animals

Usborne First Encyclopedia of Science

Usborne First Encyclopedia of Seas and Oceans

Handbook of Nature Study

Critical Thinking

My first grader will be doing this one alone. He’ll be going through the Critical and Creative Thinking Activities grade 1 workbook. This is our first year using these, so we’ll see how he likes them.

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Morning Basket 17/18

I got the idea for a Morning Basket from some Charlotte Mason homeschoolers I came across. We have used similar methods, but this is the first year we are giving it an official name and an actual basket. Morning Basket work is so ideal for large families. We do a lot of our work together. For the younger kids, it provides exposure to more complex ideas and themes. For the older kids, it can be a great jumping off place for their more individualized studies. We already try to do as much together as we can, a one room school house sort of vibe. But the Morning Basket really makes it official and gives it a more organized place in our home and our day.

Our Morning Basket consists of 7 categories. It is mostly reading and discussing. Some people call this “Couch Time” since you’re not sitting at a table pouring over workbooks.

Prayer

Each morning we will begin with prayer. We have time throughout the day for spontaneous prayer, so during this morning prayer time, I wanted to focus on memorizing prayers. We will pray through each prayer daily for four weeks, then change to the next prayer. The prayers we are learning this year are:

The Lord’s Prayer

For Joy in God’s Creation from The Book of Common Prayer

For the Human Family from The Book of Common Prayer

John Wesley’s Prayer

St. Augustine’s Prayer

St. Patrick’s Prayer

St. John Vianney’s Prayer

St. Francis Prayer

John Wesley Covenant Prayer

Truth

This category includes our Bible Study, character reading, and manners study. Our older kids also do their own personal Bible study. And as a family, we also do family devotions. This morning basket Bible study is separate from both of those. During Term 1 and the beginning of Term 2, we are finishing our Herein Is Love: Genesis study. In Term 2, we are also doing The Talk. Term 3, we will be doing Herein Is Love: Exodus.

For our character study, we will be reading through 7 Men. Once we finish that in Term 3, we’ll be reading Fierce Convictions.

For manners, we’ll be reading through the book Modern Manners once a week.

Beauty

Beauty includes art and music. During Term 1 and 2, we will be doing a different hymn each week. Term 3, we will be using a more contemporary worship song each week. For Art, we are reading about one artist each week from 50 Artists You Should Know. Here is our list of hymns and worship songs for the main three terms (Advent has its own unique schedule.):

All Hail The Power of Jesus’ Name

What A Friend We Have In Jesus

This Is My Father’s World

Amazing Grace

Praise to the Lord, The Almighty

Lead On, O King Eternal

Jesus Paid It All

I Am Thine, O Lord, I Have Heard Thy Voice

For The Beauty of The Earth

Softly and Tenderly Jesus Is Calling

Praise Him! Praise Him!

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

And Can It Be That I Should Gain

Trust and Obey

This So Sweet To Trust In Jesus

Be Thou My Vision

He Leadeth Me

How Firm A Foundation

I Must Tell Jesus

It Is Well With My Soul

Jesus Keep Me Near The Cross

Jesus Lover of My Soul

My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less

Savior Like A Shepherd Lead Us

Called Me Higher

Come Alive

Oh How I Need You

But For You Who Fear My Name

Lift Your Head Weary Sinner

The Cost

Up On A Mountain

Burn Like A Fire

In Christ Alone

Old Church Choir

I’ll Always Love You

I Heard the Sound of Voices

Goodness

Our literature selections that we are reading aloud together fall into this category, as well as our once a week poetry readings. For poetry, we’ll be reading a few poems from a Treasury of Selected Poems (Barnes and Noble Bargain Book) one day each week. We are also adding in Mad Libs Mondays just for fun. Our literature selections for the year:

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea

At The Back of The North Wind

The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

The Pilgrim’s Progress

Minn of the Mississippi

The Swiss Family Robinson

Memory Work

I like challenging my kids to memorize things. But I don’t want them memorizing useless things. This year, we’re focusing just on Bible verses. For the first two terms, I selected random verses, one verse each week, that I felt were worth memorizing. For the third term, we’ll focus on memorizing a verse from Proverbs each week.

History

This isn’t usually in a Morning Basket, but since it is something we do together, I added it here. The older kids have additional work to add to this, this is simply the portion we read aloud together.

I decided to redo Story of the World Volume 3 this year. We used it last year, but we did a really poor job of it. I was tempted to just move on, but there are so many interesting parts of this particular time period, including the American Revolution, that I felt deserved more time. Once a week, we will read one chapter of Story of the World 3. I do have a few weeks with 2 chapters in order to get all the book done this school year. In addition to that, we’ll also be reading the following our loud together:

The Landing of The Pilgrims

The Three Musketeers

The Jungle Book

George Vs. George

Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George?

If You Can Keep It

Little Things Make Big Differences

John Wesley: The World and His Parish (I would seriously love the entire collection of these Christian Heros books. I’m building a library of them.)

Frankenstein

The Mexican-American War

What Was the Gold Rush? (I would also love a collections of these “What Was” and “Who Was” books. They make it so easy for kids to read and understand.)

In addition to these, we’ll also continue our Godbold Academy Geography. The older ones have their own geography specific assignments, but we enjoyed learning about the spiritual needs of various countries and having the opportunity to pray for them. So we will continue choosing a country each week from Operation World.

Science

Again, not a usual Morning Basket inclusion. However, it is something we do together. The little ones have their own science stuff, but they loved watching the experiments last year, so we’ll continue with that. We are continuing with Berean Builder’s: Science in the Scientific Revolution. We’re doing about a lesson per week of that and then some additional Science reading out loud. The Berean Builders series is science chronologically by discoveries made. We chose this particular year because it goes along with our history timeline. It does include experiments, which my kids love. All the ones we have done have used simple household items and haven’t needed anything complex or weird.

It Couldn’t Just Happen

Always Inventing

Madam How and Lady Why

**This post contains affiliate links. These links do not cost you any more if you use them to purchase the item, but they do benefit our family!**

*** Amazon usually has the cheapest price on classics. However, I love the look and feel of the Barnes and Noble hardback classics. If you go the Barnes and Noble route, be sure to take you declaration of intent or homeschool ID to the store and pick up an Educator’s Discount Card that will save you 20%! Though I also really like the look and feel of Puffin Classics. Even Puffin paperbacks just have a better font and page feel than some of the other publishers.***

**** You can get a lot of the classics in e-book format for very cheaply or even free in some cases. I’m just a book lover than prefers reading an actual book.****

Pregnancy Update- Baby Seven

I realized that I haven’t talked much about this pregnancy and the plans and how things are going. I figured an update was in order.

So far, this pregnancy is completely normal and boring. Boring pregnancies are the best. Nothing is at all out of the ordinary. Daisy (that would be the baby’s name) is measuring right on track. She is usually head down now at 30 weeks, though that last day or two she’s been bugging me with trying to find a new position. I’m trying to convince her head down anterior really is the best in the world. Hopefully she believes me on that one. I have some of the common pregnancy complaints. My hips get mad easily. My legs and ankles are swelling. (90 degree heat is not kind on the extremely pregnant.) Leg cramps keep waking me up at night. Oddly enough, swelling and leg cramps were my two main complaints in my first girl pregnancy and not so much with the boys- maybe it is a girl thing.

The plan for birth this time is for a hospital delivery. We decided with the chances of the cholestasis returning being so high (90%) that we would just plan for a hospital delivery so that we wouldn’t have to really worry about that portion of it. I’ll be delivery her at Emory Midtown, which is where Emery and Ransom were both born. I’m nervous about heading back, since my last two experiences there after the babies were born were pretty bad. However, they have since become “baby friendly” and I hope to not have issues. (As in, I hope to have a baby there and actually get to keep the baby.)

Cholestasis of pregnancy recurs 90% of the time. However, since I didn’t have it with my first 5 babies, we are hoping that I will be among the 10%. We know we have great care set up if the cholestasis does recur. We’re all keeping a close eye out on symptoms and will test and treat if it becomes needed. Right now, I am symptom free. (It popped up in week 31 in my previous pregnancy.) If the cholestasis returns, I’ll have to be induced again at 37 weeks. (October 15) I am hoping and praying that my liver holds out this time and we can await natural labor.

In addition to the cholestasis concerns, there are the usual preterm labor concerns. Two thirds of the Godbold babies have been late preterm babies. I am really hoping and shooting to make it to at least 37 weeks. I’m doing the magnesium and vitamin C with bioflavonoid routine right now to hopefully get to that point. (One baby was born at 35 weeks, three at 36 weeks, 1 at 37 weeks, and 1 at 39 weeks.) Things right now are going boring and fine. So, hopefully that continues for the next 7 weeks.

The kids are really excited about having a little sister. Imogene is especially excited. They talk to Daisy and like to feel her kick. Even the older boys seem excited to be welcoming another girl to the family. Topher calls her a little lady. (And if you ask, he will officially be big the day she is born. Not a day sooner. Yes, he does have a younger sibling, but still insists that he is a little kid.)

We are getting ready to welcome our first girl in a decade. And also getting ready to welcome our first cold weather baby in a decade. We’re slowly accumulating clothes appropriate for the weather. Clearly, we have baby things- crib, car seat, stroller, wraps, bouncy seat. We also still have a full stash of newborn diapers, so yay for that. It is really just clothes and cold weather baby things we just don’t have. Over the next 7 weeks, I’m sure we’ll more or less be prepared.

I Tried Aldi


So many people have told me about the life changing magic that is shopping at Aldi. I have read forum posts in praise of the grocery store chain. I see Pins about the magical budget solution Aldi is. Friends have been aghast that I have never stepped foot inside the place. So, I finally took the plunge. With so many various people telling me about the glory of the store, it was time.
Imogene and I grabbed a quarter and headed to our local Aldi. First, they told me I needed a quarter for the buggy. They told me I would get it back. They did not tell me how to use this magic buggy. It took us a minute or two to figure out where to put the quarter. But we finally figured it out. No thanks to the 3 people than angrily huffed around us getting their own buggies and not letting us in on the secret quarter spot.
We walk toward the door, which is laid out completely backwards. The entrance is on the left, the exit on the right. That isn’t how this works. That is just anarchy. It was maddening to walk through the WRONG right way in. (Have I mentioned I have been diagnosed with mild OCD? I took my therapist’s advice and just made myself do it, despite my discomfort. “Live with the discomfort,” she tells me. And I did. Very much discomfort.)
Entering, it appears they are trying to have an IKEA type system here. All traffic flow moving one direction. No going back. Only this first section looks like a walk through a typical convenience store. Off brand chips and pretzels. Not at all what I am there for. And none are a seemingly good deal.
We get to the dairy case where people have raved about milk and egg prices. I was not at all impressed. $0.10 a gallon cheaper for milk than my beloved Kroger. The doors lead to some abyss that is their dairy cooler. I’m pretty sure the way things are just thrown and stacked around isn’t up to code. I wonder if grocery stores have health inspectors. I worked at a grocery store, you’d think I would know this information. My giant pregnant self has to try to move a cardboard pallet that has a couple squashed and leaking gallons of milk left on it to try to get to the new pallet underneath. The milk on the full pallet barely looks better. But I am squatting and leaning into a grocery cooler and am starting to loose feeling in my toes, so I grab a couple of smashed up gallons and hope for the best. I go to check the eggs. They are the same price as Kroger, but I am here, so I might as well buy these. All smashed. Like someone dropped a milk pallet on top of the eggs this morning smashed. No eggs it is.
We move on to the produce. We’ve heard about the wonderful prices. I supposed paying $0.11 per pound of bananas sounds fabulous, but very few of the bananas appear edible. Every single bag of clementines contains at least one molded clementine. Every single bag of potatoes contains at least one very rotten potato. (Super pregnant nose knows.) The prices are actually higher than Sprouts, but the food is almost inedible. Why pay ANY money for mushy onions?
We scan the canned goods. Dented cans. Prices the same or higher than Kroger. At this point, we decide to just pay for our milk and leave. The store is dirty, poorly organized, and I’m pretty sure I’ll get tetanus from the shelving. We escape before the zombies break out of the back room.
Aldi’s was straight up terrible. It reminded me of the tiny grocery store we had in rural Mississippi, only, if everyone had left the store unattended for a week. The Dollar Store is a better shopping experience, guys. I was told to expect Trader Joe’s. It was nothing like Trader Joe’s. It was like shopping at Mud Tavern grocery, which was located in a single wide trailer. It was super depressing. I asked Imogene her thoughts after. She said she felt like everything was falling in on her and she was sure this was the place of her burial.
So, there. I tried it. I hated it. I won’t be going back. But let me know, is your Aldi this terrible? And if so, how do they even stay in business? But hey, we did return our cart and get that quarter back.

2016-2017 Homeschool Curriculum Review

We haven’t yet moved into our next school year, but the planning for next year is coming along. This past year was our 7th homeschooling year. We had 4 official students and 1 who insisted on jumping into the fun with us. (Preschoolers do that from time to time. Sometimes they want to participate. Sometimes they don’t. Before age 6, we let them choose. Play time is learning time for that age, so I’m not comfortable pushing them toward rigorous studies just yet.) I figured I’d let you guys know what worked and what didn’t this school year. But I always like to give an update on what worked and what didn't, since my opinions may change by the time we get closer to the end.

Overall, we have used The Well Trained Mind throughout our schooling days. We’ve been a little more relaxed in the Grammar stage. Some of the suggested resources haven’t worked for us, so we have found alternatives that work.

I had two fifth graders this year, one third grader, one kindergartener, and one preschooler.

Math
We used Teaching Textbooks 5 and 3 for these guys this year. Teaching Textbooks has been the best math program for these guys. These two started with Singapore Math and then switched to Teaching Textbooks for fourth grade. We no longer buy the workbooks, because my kids only use the computer disc portion of the program. Each lesson is well explained, having them do practice problems as they go. If they don’t do well on a lesson, you can go in and delete the grade and let them try again. They get two tries at each problem, and the program explains how the answer is achieved. It gives immediate gratification, telling them if they are right or wrong on each problem before they move on. The kids do very well with this program. I have read some reviews that say the grade levels are off, but I have not found that to be the case. Each year starts off pretty easy, but builds back to more difficult concepts. So, a student may find it easy at first, but there is more challenge coming. My only issue with the program is the cardboard cases the CDs come in. I feel like for the price, they should come in some durable CD cases for long term use. I’ve had to move all our discs into a zippered CD case. That works, but for $99 a set (higher in the higher levels) they should come with something more durable than paper. The program keeps up with the grades and you can check them at any time. We don’t usually do grades, but since the kids were doing it all on their own, it helped me keep an eye on their progress.
We started the year with Essential Math K. He flew through it. It wasn’t a challenge for him at all. We switched to Life of Fred about halfway through the year. It introduced more complex topics and he liked the storytelling aspect. The preschooler joined us for these lessons, but will likely need to do them again.

Grammar
I signed the older two up for Wordly Wise Online through Homeschool Buyer’s Co-op. They didn’t like it. I didn’t like it. The program isn’t well laid out. It is very confusing and takes a lot of time per lesson. I also felt like they weren’t really learning much for the effort being put in. We stopped it mid-year and will not be picking it back up.
We also grabbed the new Writer’s In Residence program from Apologia. Each student needs their own book. And the books are hefty. While I like some of the content, overall, the program didn’t work well for us. For one, it isn’t well laid out. The grading rubric is confusing. Everything has to be graded, which is weird for us since we don’t really grade things. Some of the assignments were frivolous. Also, it got really messy. It is a huge workbook, so I expect all the work to be done in the book and fit in the book. But there were several times when things were cut out of the book (which annoys me greatly) or they had to paper clip extra pages into the book. I felt like they could have made it all work, but didn’t. If the kids are needing to use separate paper, I would have just liked it in textbook format with all the work being done on their own paper in a separate notebook. My kids did learn from the program, but it was far too parent intensive and far too convoluted. You will need at least one of the Teacher’s Guides. I won’t be continuing this program. Even if I wanted to, I can’t. They released Volume 1 of 4 last year but haven’t released Volume 2 yet. I have such mixed feelings on this program. Some of it is SO good. But then some of it is SO bad.

I kept my third grader signed up for Explode the Code online. I absolutely love that program. It has worked so unbelievably well for him. He enjoys it. It challenges him. He is finishing up the program now, so he won’t be using it next year. I’ll be looking at buying it again for our rising first grader, though.

History
Our history years aren’t lining up smoothly because we spent longer than a school year on Ancient history. We use Story of The World. This year, we started a history co-op with some other families in our church. That slowed us down considerably, so we didn’t finish a full year of history this year either. We finished up Story of The World 2 and then moved into Story of the World 3. We tried the audio version of Story of the World 2, but the kids hated it. They did not like listening to the CDs. So, we went back to me reading it to them from the book. When we started Story of The World 3, I added interactive notebooks. It would have worked well for just my kids, but in the co-op setting, it got a little hectic. We will be continuing Story of The World 3 next year, but these two will be moving into the Logic stage, so they will be adjusting how they do history. (Technically, the Logic Stage begins in 5th grade, but my kids needed an extra year of writing and grammar before they could really tackle outlines and summaries.)

Science
We found a really awesome Science curriculum that works alongside Story of The World so well. Berean Builders Science is chronological science, studied by scientist and discovery. That has made so much more sense to my kids and given them a better understanding of how we come to know what we know. I’ll admit, they watched a few too many documentaries that had distorted their view of science. Because each documentary presents everything as fact, not theory. Then the documentaries would contradict one another or come from an atheistic world view. My kids became super skeptical and I was having difficulty drawing them back into the subject. The Berean Science books have been perfect to hook them back in. We started using Science in the Scientific Revolution along with Story of the World 3. There are experiments to better understand the discoveries made. It has been awesome. The kids love it, they are actually engaged, and they better understand the scientific process and how new discoveries change the way we see the world.

Handwriting
I have never used a proper handwriting program. However, my kids really needed it. They were having a lot of trouble writing clearly enough to communicate their ideas. So, I opted for an actual handwriting book. I chose Patriotic Penmanship. I liked the selected quotes. I decided to keep my third grader in print writing because he was only 7 and he needed some reinforcement on the proper way to make letters. One of my fifth graders did introductory cursive and the other did her proper grade. The workbooks are great. I had them work on a two page spread, one lesson, each week. Day one they would just practice making a letter. Day two they would practice key words. Day three they would work on a full phrase or two. Day four they would write the entire quote. It didn’t take more than a few minutes each day and I simply asked for very hard work for those few minutes. All of them have improved their handwriting significantly with just a little work each day. I will definitely be ordering Patriotic Penmanship workbooks again this year. Each child needs their own workbook as they are consumable.

Bible
For our Bible study for the older kids, we used Herein Is Love: Genesis. This one has a lot more lessons in it than the Leviticus book. The kids really enjoyed it and I think they learned a lot. It does a great job of weaving the whole story into the beginning story.
For the Little Guys, we used the Jesus Calling Storybook. I was not as in love with this Storybook Bible as I was with the Jesus Storybook Bible. It has little notes from Jesus, but they are worded oddly and it makes it a little difficult to follow in a read aloud format. But the kids liked it and they did learn.

Geography
We used my Operation World geography plan. It went really well. It helped open my kids’ worldview and show them more than what is outside their front door. I was really happy with how it went and will continue it next year.

Kindergarten
I purchased Alpha Tales and Phonics Tales at Costco for the little guys. We did not get into the Phonics Tales. It will really be a toss up this year if we do that book or The Ordinary Parent’s Guide to Reading. I’m not sure which will work better for these guys.
I also signed them up for ABCMouse.com mid year. They have loved it. They can use their tablets to play. I signed up for the assessments, as well, but found that portion pretty worthless.

Reading
I basically let the kids pick what they wanted to read this year instead of using the reading list from Well Trained Mind. Turned out, that was a mistake. Well, the kids really loved reading, but they essentially spent the year reading junk books. I did strongly suggest a few classics that they did read and enjoy. The third grader loved the Roald Dahl books we have and finished all the Magic Treehouse books we own, plus ventured over to the Imagination Station books. The fifth graders read Peter Pan and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. They also read some Judy Bloom. But they did read a bunch of Goosebumps books and other junk type books. Next year, I’ll separate the required reading and the fun reading a bit more.

I kept track of everything in a composition notebook that I used like a bullet journal for schooling. This helped the planning significantly. I’ll be doing the same again because it worked so well. Though I’ll likely opt for a real bullet journal this year. (I’ve been using a bullet journal for a class I am taking and another one for the upcoming 2018 year. I’m liking the customization so much more than a standard planner. I also have one that I’ve been using alongside my 2017 planner for notes and things. I do like having separate planners for each of those areas, since I feel like everything together just gets too cluttered.)

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Feng Shui Mommy & Musings on Being A Mother


I had the opportunity to review the book Feng Shui Mommy by Bailey Gaddis recently. It took me a little longer than usual, since we have been traveling for what seems like forever. And I see these Instagram posts of parents having this relaxing, chill time while traveling, reading and sipping pretty cups of coffee. That is so far from my life. For me, traveling is a bunch of yelling at kids to please, don’t scream in the bus. And please, don’t throw a half eaten orange on the floor. And then trying to get them settled wherever we are staying is trying. Please don’t break anything. Please don’t scream. Just behave for a couple days, guys! My kids really need time to run outside and be wild children. They just get all crazy without it. And then trying to find decent food on the road while the kids are yelling “Look! Burger King! We haven’t been there in years! Please!!!!” It is just far from relaxing. And there is zero time for me to accomplish anything other than keeping the kids alive.I wasn’t entirely sure about this book. Feng Shui isn’t my think, neither is Eastern mysticism. But I figured I had read any other pregnancy book I could get my hands on, why not this one too? And I am a believer that wisdom can be gained from anywhere. You just have to be able to put in the wisdom and leave whatever doesn’t work for you behind.

I’ll start with the good. Bailey is hilarious. I’m sure we’d get along great in a Mommy group. The book is very encouraging, yet honest about the process of becoming a mother. It is really applicable for a first time mom or a seventh time mom like myself. We all know pregnancy is this giant miracle, the piece of creative work here on earth. But we also know it comes with hemorrhoids, stretch marks, uncontrollable belching, and plenty of other super fun things they write entire pregnancy books about. Bailey acknowledges these unfortunate parts while still reveling in the miraculousness of it all. And the commonness. Let’s face it. My pregnancy is life changing. For me. And my family. Not so much for everyone else. Pregnant women are everywhere. Babies are born every day. We don’t stop and revel in that daily miracle, unless the miracle is in our arms or our circle. Not that you, pregnant woman, are not special and your baby isn’t the most awesome thing ever. But there is comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your journey. This isn’t a path not taken. Women have babies. It is what we do.

She lays down a lot of good advice about letting go of fears and accepting and allowing this experience to shape and change you. Motherhood is going to change you. You won’t be the same. Not that you will not be you, you’ll just be a better you. Motherhood has the opportunity to let us get beyond ourselves, see things in a more broad light, and see the world not just for what it is, but what it could be for our children. You hear a lot of women talking about loosing themselves in motherhood. That has not been my experience at all. I have found myself in motherhood. I have tapped into creativity, problem solving, stamina, strength, wisdom, and more through becoming a mother. Motherhood has made me a more complete person.

There are other nuggets of wisdom throughout this book. There are little aspects similar to hypnobabies, for those not necessarily wanting to jump head in to that or wanting a little more than that. Each chapter has a riddle and the answer is the code for a free relaxation recording on her website. (Yourserenelife.wordpress if you are wanting to check out the website or just purchase the recordings.) If you are a bit high strung, this will definitely help you quiet your mind and rest. The recording go alongside the chapter. There is some great information about prenatal nutrition, exercising, dealing with your anxieties, figuring out your birth plan, breathing, breastfeeding, and postpartum self care. A lot of the things she suggests are very “woo” (hippie, might seem weird to most mainstream folks), but try them and you’ll find so many benefits (without side effects). This book is really packed with a lot of natural birth type basics, specifically helpful in the preparing stage.

I genuinely expected the major focus of the book to be decluttering and a form of minimalism in a family home. While there was a little of that, it was more about decluttering your mind and letting go of the junk you keep stashed in there, less about what you keep stashed under your bed. (Though it does briefly address that aspect, too.)

Now for my only big critique. As much as I enjoyed the book, Feng Shui isn’t my language. You may know what I am talking about. You read pregnancy affirmations and they just don’t resonate with you, not because they are wrong, but they aren’t the language of your heart or soul. Aligning my soul and my life with nature isn’t where I find myself. I appreciate the natural world, as a creation of our God that reveals His nature to us. So while I do find myself able to adapt and use much that I find in this book, it isn’t in the language of my heart. Same with the relaxation tracks. I can find wisdom in them. I can apply them to myself. But in all, they aren’t my language. My heart resonates with Scripture, with the voices of those for the cause of Christ. So, I did find that I had to leave some of this, and adapt the rest to fit my particular worldview. I find that Scripture is what I need to quiet my soul and release my anxieties. I memorize Bible verses, not birth affirmations because Scripture speaks to me. If you aren’t a solid Christian though, this can be much harder to do and not get lost with incompatible philosophies running around in your head. However, I think the overall tone of the book, being supportive and encouraging embracing motherhood and letting it change you, is completely in line with Christian beliefs and is what many Christian women need to hear. So, I do recommend the book, despite the difference of religion and worldview that is there.


I am going to have to figure out how to cut down on this rambling for a more concise Amazon review. But this book is a great jumping off point in discussing our expectations of motherhood and what the reality could be if we let go of our fear and become the mothers we were made to be. Our culture has a lot of myths about birth. We just don’t trust it because it is the wild, uncontrollable, unknown. We try to control it in any way we can. But pregnancy, birth, and motherhood are not beyond us- they are us. Their strength that we try to tamper because it is scary is our own strength. Our culture still paints women as these frail objects that are affected by birth. But women ARE birth. It is the work of women to BIRTH. We work alongside God in the creative act of bringing forth new life. That is amazing. That is powerful. And that is who we are and what we were made to do. For those without children, that strength is still there. It is still part of who you are. And I’m not talking about having some secret power you don’t use. You were made with the power of a mother, whether you are one or not. And you can embrace the strength given to you by God, too. One baby, ten babies, no babies. This is mystical. It is mystery. But it isn’t a nightmare or something to fear. Embrace it. Roll with it. Let it shape you.

** I did receive this book for free, however, I am under no obligation to talk it up or give it a good review. All thoughts are my own. **

How To Make Southern Sweet Tea

Down here in the south, we learn to make sweet tea really young. And you learn to make it your mama’s way. And then you grow up, move out on your own, and while you use your mama’s recipe at first, you eventually come upon your own way to make YOUR favorite sweet tea. 

So, this is how to make the perfect GODBOLD household sweet tea. In the summer, we switch to mint tea. Now, the mint is optional, but you should try it. 

First, I make my sweet tea using a tea kettle. My mama used a pan. My granny used a sweet tea maker. But I use a kettle. So you’re going to boil water in a tea kettle first. (My Dodah always said that hot water wouldn’t boil, so I always put cold water in my kettle. The Pastor thinks this is the most ridiculous thing ever, but I havent’ managed to straighten myself out on this issue.)

While your water is boiling, get you pitcher and add 3/4 cup of sugar and your tea bags. 

This is the kind of pitcher you need for sweet tea. A big one gallon jug with a lid. Yes, they get stained. That just means they are well used. And I do not like the solid colored ones. I like to be able to see my tea. 
This is a prettier pitcher, but you can’t properly make sweet tea in this one. I occasionally use it to make quick sweet tea for dinner, but it really isn’t the same. 

I use organic turbinado sugar. Using only 3/4 cups per gallon, the molasses flavor isn’t noticeable. If you made my Aunt Katie May’s tea with my sugar, it’d probably taste a little weird. She used 2 cups of sugar per gallon. Her tea was syrup. We drink far too much sweet tea to be downing that much sugar a day. 3/4 cup makes it sweet, but not too sweet. 

Also, if you don’t want to use real sugar, it isn’t real Sweet Tea. But don’t put fake sugar or Stevia in the whole gallon. It starts tasting funny as it sits. So, you’ll want to sweeten it per glass, not per gallon. And if you want to use honey, that isn’t real Southern Sweet Tea. If we’re talking Sun Tea, okay with the honey. But I don’t really know how honey sits in sweet tea, so do it at your own risk. Use real sugar for real Southern Sweet Tea. 

I usually use Luzianne tea bags, however, we go through a lot of Sweet Tea. (2 gallons a day in the summer.) My Kroger has this new P$$t brand, and the tea was $1.99 for 100 regular size bags of decaf tea. So, I figured that was worth a try. And it turns out, I really like it. It tastes a lot like Luzianne. For the mint tea, I have tried other brands, but the Bigelow Plantation Mint is the best for Sweet Tea. I also switch back and forth between decaf and regular tea. If I use decaf, I don’t have to be concerned about the number of cups of tea my kids have. But really, I don’t notice a difference at all. 
If you’re using regular size tea bags, you need 4 tea bags per gallon of tea. If you are using the family size tea bags, use 2 per gallon. And then add 1 bag of the Plantation Mint tea for Mint Sweet Tea. 
Once your water is boiling, pour it over the sugar and tea bags. Use a wooden spoon to mix and get the sugar all melted in. (Yes, you have to use a wooden spoon.) Do not leave the wooden spoon in the pitcher. It will make your tea taste like a stick. I set the spoon across the top of the pitcher while the tea steeps. Leave the tea to steep 15-20 minutes. If you forget and leave it longer, no big deal. After it has steeped, use the wooden spoon to fish the tea bags out. I press them against the side of the pitcher to get all the yumminess out before tossing them in the trash. Fill the pitcher the rest of the way with water. Use the spoon to stir. Put the lid on. Put it in the fridge. 

I always serve it with ice. My kids prefer no ice because they have no taste in such matters. 

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