Simple Valentine’s Celebrations

I love holidays, but I am no Pinterest mom. I like the idea of crafting with my kids and enjoying celebrations, but I am honestly not interested in adding the work of elaborate preparations, nor the expense of elaborate decorations, to my already full life.

This year, we made Valentine’s day special with a few small celebrations. A pink drink party with cookies and popcorn, a crafting time, and a special story are all small ways that we have made this grey month a little, well, pinker.

A story about the saint. What are your favorite stories about Valentine’s Day?

The funny thing about crafting is that even the big kids, and the grandma, when faced with a table full of glitter glue, pom-poms and doily hearts, got excited about joining in. Crafting and creating is a sweet, media free way to spend quality time with the ones you love. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just put out the supplies and let imagination take over.

Or Pinterest. I did let my little girl look up Valentine’s cards on Pinterest and the one that got her really excited was the buggy crown. After she was finished, she gave it to her little brother, who promptly declared that he was ant-man. I don’t know what cute little ladybugs and bees have to do with a super hero, but it made sense to him.

Celebrations don’t have to be hard. This year was pretty simple. Dollar Store craft supplies and Trader Joe’s heart shaped cookies with pink grapefruit soda were the high points of our celebration, but it was indeed a very fine celebration

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For The Children’s Sake Book Club

Screen Shot 2020-01-21 at 6.14.09 PMI’m excited about our For the Children’s Sake book club. How did your first week of reading go? I know that many of you have already read the book, or are working through it a second time, but I’m excited to be learning together. Included below are the questions and comments for chapter one. Feel free to reply with your own observations, answer the questions in a journal or commonplace book, or ask a question that another mom could answer in the Peaceful Press Facebook group.

Chapter 1 What is Education?

Question 1. How would you define education? This can vary for every family, for some, it will be about communication skills and academic achievement. For others, it might be about developing character or imagination or athletic ability. For me personally, this quote rings very true.

“The entire object of true education is to make people not merely do the right things, but enjoy the right things — not merely industrious, but to love industry — not merely learned, but to love knowledge — not merely pure, but to love purity — not merely just, but to hunger and thirst after justice.”

― John Ruskin, Unto This Last and Other Writings

On page 10, the author talks about a different way of educating that takes into consideration that “children are born persons” and asks “Where to start? How?”
Question 2. Do you feel that you have gotten a good start on what I would deem a more life-giving method of education? If no, what do you feel makes it hard to get started?


She also says-

“Parents need to evaluate their priorities. They need to consider why they respond, “We wouldn’t have time to read a book together every day. We don’t have time to hike/camp/paint/talk with our children.””
Question 3. What are your family priorities? Are you able to prioritize these activities on a weekly or daily basis? Why or why not?

If you are still working to discover your family priorities, download The Peaceful Press free family vision guide and start defining your own family. It’s as simple as writing down the activities that are most important to your family, and then making a plan for how you will prioritize them.

Art Appreciation for Young Children

From the moment I began homeschooling, exposing my children to fine art has been a high priority. One of my fondest homeschooling memories was when we were visiting the Hillstead Museum, and one of my young children was able to point out a painting by Whistler. They could pick out his paintings because they had been exposed to pictures by him in our homeschool.

One of my favorite resources for teaching art to young children is simply using art postcards to do various picture study activities. In the following video, I demonstrate how my son and I used postcards from the Child Sized Masterpieces set (with instructions from Mommy It’s A Renoir) to learn to identify different painters and to appreciate some of the world’s finest art.

Please forgive any mispronunciation of artist’s names. This video was very spur of the moment, and I definitely could have butchered some of their names.

Let me know if I can answer any questions about how we do art appreciation and check out The Peaceful Press resources. We include weekly art images in all of our elementary guides to connect our children to beautiful works of art that coincide with the period in history that we are studying.

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Setting Intentions For The Year

This is a post I created in 2017, I’m sharing it in this new space as a reference for current goal setting.

new year's goals

For the last several years, I posted a list of yearly goals on my blog. It wasn’t from some weird desire to be an exhibitionist about what I am planning, but more with the hope that the whole idea of setting goals, and even some of my specific goals, will spark ideas for you. I believe that God has good plans for us, and that, just as He did in the lives of so many people in the past, He wants to lead us into those good plans. 

new year's goals

I haven’t always started my new year’s goals setting with God in mind, but this year, I have as an overarching goal, a desire to start inviting God into even the most mundane of decisions. I so often get overburdened and overscheduled because I do things to be nice, or even to be a good Christian, and then end up frustrated, discouraged and grumbling, nothing good or Christian about that.

new year's goals

So after praying, I have a theme of “metamorphosis”. That’s my word for the year, and I guess it’s a fancy word for transformation and change. Many of my goals flow from that word, or have that idea at their core.

If you are confused about how I came about the categories, here is a post by a friend that explains this whole system. I love the idea of setting goals in several areas instead of just globbing together a bunch of goals. However, if these categories don’t work for your family, make your own.

new year's goals

Also, I realize that this post is late! Hopefully, most of you have already made your New Year’s goals. We made ours while sitting around a cozy fire with my aunt and uncle in Ireland, but after that, we spent 10 days doing ministry in Tanzania, Africa, (you can read more about the trip and it’s educational benefits in a 2017 Wild and Free bundle). Since arriving home, we have been trying to actually implement the plans that we made while we were away. It’s been busy, but good, and connection with my family has been the priority. I am fully aware that the days of having all my children home are numbered, and I am enjoying them fully. You might enjoy my blog post, Cultivating Joyful Homes.

New Year’s Goals

Self Care

Daily Yoga/Pilates

Do a monthly fast or cleanse

Spiritual Life

Memorize one verse each week

Make listening to God a priority


Teach chore consistency to children

Make math understandable


Special focus on relationship with middle children

Listen actively to children

Time Management

Family Bible by 8:15

Spend 1-3pm on writing projects

Nest Management

Work towards simplified garden/possible downsize

Teach better home care habits to children

Uniquely You

Finish memoir with Emelie

Go to a writers conference

Financial Stewardship

Publish Playful Pioneers

Learn Squarespace

You can read about past new year’s goals setting here. If you need resources for learning how to goal set, my course, Bountiful Homeschooling on a Budget, is full of ideas for creating a family vision and life plan.

What are your family’s New Year’s goals? I’d love to hear them!

new year's goals

Cultivating Joyful Homes


fall decorations

Homeschooling can be a joy killer. While spending our days with children should naturally bring tons of lightness and joy into our lives, it is easy for us to get preoccupied, worrying about doing enough, and then create an atmosphere of tension instead of fun.

It doesn’t have to be this way though.

When we begin to break down what our children really need to know, and when we begin to get a vision of the long view of homeschooling, we can start to realize that this pressure that steals the fun out of our days with our children is just a mirage.

Think about it? What do you remember from your school days? What lessons stick out to you?

playing in grass

Here is another question. What do you want your children to remember from their first few years of school?

When we put these questions and their answers into perspective, we can realize that there are only a few things that we really need to do in the first few years of school.

What are these things?

When you add in some devotional time, and a responsive parent, you have a recipe for academic success. All of the pushing that public schools are imposing on children is not producing brighter children, what it is producing is burnt out children.
Hop off that hamster wheel and start enjoying these precious early years.
Here is a POST with some great information about delayed academics.
Here is another POST about joy.

This POST talks about how some children teach themselves to read.

This COMPANY sends out monthly projects.

My preschool curriculum, THE PEACEFUL PRESCHOOL, is a great way to cultivate more learning fun in your home. It could easily be adapted to use with a kindergartner or first grader, simply adding a chapter book read aloud, a PHONICS PROGRAM and a MATH program.
Check out The Peaceful Press for resources for joyful learning in elementary as well.
Do you need help with figuring out how to pay for homeschool resources? THIS COURSE is full of practical advice for building a life you love and living within your means. 
Cultivating Joyful Homes