Category Archives: Thoughtful Thursday

Because child rearing takes so much thought, especially when home educating.

Another Reading List

Porcupine Reading ~ Lifeofjoy.meI’m a sucker for books and reading lists. I also am a fan of family read alouds.

Well, I recently came across a website that offers a few lists of suggested books. They have a list of picture books broken down by months. Some of my favorites are on the list and I only looked at a couple of months.

There are also a few short lists of fantasy books, classic books, and some poetry or books in verse. There’s also a list of books for struggling readers. :)

Now, I do have to warn you that these lists are all free BUT you have to sign up for their email list to get access to these booklists. I felt it was worth doing so; you can unsubscribe any time.

There are some podcasts with accompanying blog posts that tell what you can expect in the podcast. I have not listened to any of those yet but I’m interested in a few. The first I’m interested in is an interview with Jonathan Rodgers, the author of one of my favorite children’s series: The Wilderking Series.

This website also has a premium membership option. I don’t really see a need for it but who knows, you may find that you could benefit from it.

I hope you enjoy the Read-Aloud Revival website and find it beneficial to you.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Children Sitting Quietly

Liam in Church Service ~
We didn’t get any pictures this time but here’s one from last time. He liked my glasses case.

Kids need to be taught to sit still and quiet. It is convenient to have a nursery to take your crying child to at church but have you ever wondered if your child is just acting up so that he/she can go play in the nursery instead of being bored and quiet in the sanctuary?

We had Liam on a Sunday a few weeks ago and went to Sunday 8:30 am service as usual. I did not get him up early enough for him to eat breakfast before we left for church, so I took him a snack and his breakfast. I intended to give him his snack during service, because he can slowly get the Lil’ Beanies crunchers out of the snack cup and eat them on his own. Then in between services I would feed him the overnight cold oatmeal (it’s like a pudding and sooo healthy and he loves it).

Michael did not sleep well the night before and was up most of the night, so we came home after the first service. But I have to tell you that even as young as he is, he was able to sit through most of the one hour long service, quietly. I’ve mentioned his love of food here before and let me just say, it was a mistake to only fill the snack cup half full when he had not had breakfast yet (only his morning milk). But when he fussed, loudly, I carried him out of the service, from the second row, and into an unused room. I did not want to equate pitching a fit and leaving service with the reward of playing with toys and other children.

Once I got him under control, we went back in. After a bit, he wanted down to walk, but I would not let him, so he reach for Grandpa. Well I couldn’t rightly keep him from his Grandpa, so I let him go. And as Pastor Alan Taylor has preached, he had his plan to get down and succeeded through his Grandpa. Kids find the weakest link to their objective and will go through however many people necessary to get their desired end. Unfortunate for him, I’m more stubborn and ended up picking him up, to which he responded by fussing. So out we went again only this time, he calmed by the time we got to the last row; so we sat there for the final 10 minutes of service.

Kids need limits. Kids need to be taught to sit still and quiet, without electronics. Kids need consistency.

We have a humidity gauge in our living room on the coffee table. Ever since Liam was little it has been there. When he first found it, I told him no and took it from him and sat it back on the coffee table where it had been. When he touched it again, I repeated that it was a no-no. The next time he touched it, I again repeated that it was a no-no and tapped his hand. Oh My Word! You would have thought he had gotten seared with a hot iron but I held my stand and he left it alone. To this day, he knows he is not supposed to touch it but he will test the limits every now and then. He did this while he was with us and his parents were on a cruise. After about three days of not touching it, he decided to pick it up. I was consistent and removed it from his hands, said no-no, and tapped him. He wasn’t happy but knew the boundaries. Then I walked out of the room and he again picked it up, so Michael was consistent in my stead. The rest of the time he was here, he left it alone.

Disciplining children takes consistency, which means the parents and caregivers must also be disciplined. I think it is God’s sneaky way of making us grow up. ;)

If you don’t have the opportunity to train your children to sit quietly in a church service (without being occupied by electronics), you can practice at home. You could put on a preaching video or tv program and have your child sit beside you on the sofa or chair as you watch and listen, training them to sit quietly. It is a valuable skill.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


Teach How to Research

Teach Research ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is important to not just give children the answers to questions they have but to show them how to find the answers. If all you ever do is answer their questions, then you are teaching them to ask people for information. That is sometimes acceptable and even good but it is also good for them to learn how to find the information themselves.

Now obviously this is difficult to do when they are little but when you have to look up something, tell them and show them that you don’t just know that information off the top of your head. Let them sit on your lap as you search or show them the books where you will search for the information and how you use the books.

Teaching your children how to search for information, find books in the library, and how to use a book index are all important skills. When they are young, you could show them two books that are completely different from each other and ask them which one they think will have the information they need. Then proceed to show them how to find the information.

Teaching your children to find information for themselves is a vital skill. With this skill, they are empowered for life; there is then very little they cannot accomplish because they know how to find whatever information they need to learn.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Children and Tempers

Snack Cup ~ Lifeofjoy.meI had the joy of keeping my one year old grandson Liam this week while his parents were on a cruise, which is not the place for a toddler who is beginning to walk, as he falls down enough on solid ground. ;)

The name Liam means “strong willed warrior and protector” according to and he is definitely living up to his name! I thought my boys were strong-willed but this little fella is definitely giving them a run for the title, that is for sure! I think it is very important to consider the meaning of a name before naming children for this very reason.

It is important to make them obedient without breaking their will. Now I know this sounds contrary but it really isn’t. It is about letting them grow up to be the person God intends for them to be but it is also necessary that they learn to submit their will to the authorities in their lives. Sadly, this takes a lot of discipline and consistency on the parents’ part. As I’ve written before, I think it is part of the reason God made us to desire children when we are younger, so that we learn discipline as we train our children.

We don’t want children to be weak and go along with everything anyone tells them but we do want them to obey God and the people in authority in their lives. It is in their best interest to correct them and follow through with what you say. If you tell a child not to touch something and they do, you need to smack his/her hand. It need not be a hard smack but say no and tap their hand or leg. And every time they do it, smack him/her again.

I have a humidity gauge that sits on the coffee table. When Liam first started pulling up at it, I told him ‘no’ when he touched it and removed his hand from it. Every time he went to touch it, I forcefully said ‘no’ again. If he continued on and actually touched it, once again smacked his hand and removed it from it. Now every time he comes over, he mostly leaves it alone. But as I mentioned, he will try and get away with it occasionally. The other day, he picked it up and tried to walk off with it. I had to reinforce that he is not to touch it. I said, “Llliiiaaammm, no no.” He immediately dropped it, otherwise, I would have smacked him again.

Since then, he’s left it alone, except yesterday when I walked out of the room. Michael said he attempted to touch it but he reaffirmed that he’s not supposed to touch it and he’s left it alone since.

It takes a lot disciple to train children. Let us not forget that we should pray for them as well. Pray that they will learn to be obedient and submissive to God and the authorities in their lives.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

How I Organized Our Homeschool

Organize Homeschool ~
This is a very old picture that I dug to find. Unfortunately it isn’t the best. ;)

While the children were here and we homeschooled (they are all grown and one has married and moved on their own), each of my children had a crate to put their individual things into. They each had a notebook with paper and a pouch of pens, pencils, and a pencil sharpener. They had any workbooks that were specific to them in it also.

I also had a place to put my books, on one of my bookshelves. We had bookshelves lining our hallway walls and in the living room too. There were also bookshelves in each of their rooms, because I love books and have a lot of them.

I made a routine for us to follow, so that the children knew how to proceed throughout their day. It gave them some control and I was sure we got certain things done every day. Of course there were things they could not do without me. When they came to that subject in the routine, if I was not ready, they’d ask me and I could either stop what I was doing or tell them to skip it and we’ll do it later.

We all did the school work in the living room or the dining room. Occasionally, they might go and do in another room but generally speaking, we were all together in one room for the better part of the day. It built a great togetherness and we each learned how to focus on whatever it was we were doing all while still being together. Thus we could share something with the others when we were moved by something. It built common experiences. I believe this was foundational in the closeness of our family.

I hope this gives you some idea how you can organize things for your homeschool. You don’t have to have a special place/room or equipment to home educate your children.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº


New and No Curriculum Yet

Educating at Home ~

I recently spoke with a lovely family that just pulled their daughter from public school to educate her at home. I offered them these tips, so as not to rush into a curriculum purchase that they may regret.



  • Christians should incorporate Bible reading and discussion about what is read.
  • Utilize the local library! I shared a little about this on this post. Assign your child to find some book of their choosing in the 900’s section of the children’s non-fiction books. There are really some great books there. But don’t stop there, have your child pick some fiction books to read as well. Now, whichever he/she prefers, let them pick more of those.
  • Have her/him practice math skills for whatever level math your child is currently at.
  • Life Skills: Yes, helping with household duties is imperative for a functioning and well educated adult. ;)
  • Have your child write each day. It can be copying a scripture verse or a passage from a book being read, or simply learning to write when very young. You could have them write about something they’ve read or create a something themselves, be it prose or poetry.
  • Throw in a little nature study (I wrote some about this here) and you’ll be good until you can find the curriculum that fits you and your child(ren).
  • Encourage whatever their interests are art, cooking, music, crafts, or something even more specific like wood burning or mechanics.
  • Finally, encourage activity be it outside, video exercise, game system exercise, or a sport.

You need to write down the reasons you are home educating your children, so that when the difficult days come you can remind yourself why you are doing this. Then there is this post that may be of help to you in getting started. :)

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Listen, Really Listen to Your Children

Listen ~ Lifeofjoy.meIn order to educate your children properly, you must listen to them. I mean, really listen to them. Of course, this goes for raising children in general too. Sometimes we think we know what they are going to say, so we only half listen to them. But this is not a good thing. How do you like it when someone is only half listening to you? Yeah, so let’s not do it to others, and especially not our children (or spouses for that matter–but that’s a subject for a Marriage Monday post ;) ).

The other important part of the equation is to ask your children questions. Not yes or no questions either. You want to get your children talking to you. Since we live in Rural America, running errands is not a short trip, so on our way into town, I took to asking my children what was on their mind. Sometimes I got “nothin'” but then I’d probe a little by saying something like, you mean you are sitting there and not thinking anything, not about the chair or the sky or the game you want to play when you get home?

Here again, because I consistently did this with my children, it developed a habit to where, sometimes, they ask me what’s on my mind now. :) I literally stop and focus on what my mind is thinking on and tell them be it a stupid song that I cannot get out of my head, how the clouds look puffy and like a dog, or how tired I am because the storm woke me up in the middle of the night. By being open and honest with them, it instills openness and honesty and we relate.

As your children grow older, it is important to talk to them about what they like as far as activities, nutrition, and what they think their future may look like. Help them set up some healthy habits that will serve them well into adulthood. Talk with them about things you wish you had done when you were younger so that it isn’t sooo hard to do them now.

Talk to them about their bodies, nutrition, exercise, and spirituality. If you are concerned about an area of their life, see if you can find a way to relate to it yourself. I wish I had taken piano lessens when I was young, because . . . or some such thing. Or maybe there is an area that you are struggling with, maybe it is cooking or exercise; ask your children to work on it with  you and help each other.

One year when Tiffany was a senior, I think, she wanted to do a “squat challenge”. I was trying to exercise more, so I agreed to do it with her because it’s generally easier when you have someone doing it with you. Yeah, I do not intend to ever do one of those kinds of challenges again! It was BRUTAL! But we did it together and encouraged each other.

Maybe you could look for a new recipe to make with your child, if he/she is interested in cooking. My boys learned to bake because they wanted dessert and I wasn’t making any at the end of the day (and I wasn’t spending money on desserts either). But I told them they were welcome to make some cookies or brownies or some such thing, if they wanted. Brian is quite the cookie baker. ;) Sean prefers to clean up afterwards rather than make it.

But when your child talks to you, listen to them. Pay attention. Ask questions, if possible. Have them give you examples or tell you how they feel. Get close to your child and then pray about how to help them through whatever it is they are going through.

I hope this rambling helps encourage you today.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Observing Nature or Nature Study

Nature study is really a simple thing. There are many things to look at and discover throughout your days and weeks. Here are some pictures I’ve accumulated over several weeks.

Since our cats are not ‘fixed’, we get to enjoy the miracle of life and also experience the sadness of death. They are outside cats. The first cat that adopted us was a smart cat and only got pregnant once per year. When she died and we replaced her, this cat was not as smart and ended up pregnant more often. Unfortunately, we have experienced the sadness of death many many times with our cats. But it is neat to see newborn kittens and watch them as they grow up.

Here are two of our kittens.
Animals ~ Lifeofjoy.meIt is fun to watch as they learn to hunt. This is the reason we have them, to hunt mice, moles, gophers, and any other pests they can get rid of.Cat Hunting ~ Lifeofjoy.meAnd then just to watch them interact with each other and their habits is interesting.

Kittens on a Rail ~ Lifeofjoy.meRight after I snapped this picture they both opened their eyes and looked right at me.

Kittens on a Rail ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen we were out planting flowers, I saw this bug.

Bug ~ Lifeofjoy.meI don’t know what kind it is but during our homeschooling years, we would have gotten out the insect books to try and make that determination.

One day I looked out and saw this.

Animals ~ Lifeofjoy.meDo you see it?

Nature Study ~ LIfeofjoy.meFor a while, we were seeing lots of these. I’m not sure if they are still about and I’m just not catching them or if they have moved on or proceeded on the circle of life. ;)

Then one day my hubby pointed out this critter.

Turtle ~ Lifeofjoy.meYeah, this one is hard to see . . . how about now?

Turtle ~ Lifeofjoy.meThis one is larger than we’ve had walk around the house before. Usually it is a box turtle; I’m not sure what this one is.

It’s rained quite a bit around here lately. One day these popped up. Mushroom ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen I first noticed them they were very domed. As they have matured thy have flattened out on top. Michael has since mowed the grass and now they are not. If we still had school aged children, I would have had him leave them until we can watch how they finish out their cycle.

Planting flower seeds and watching them grow is another great way to study nature.

Sunflowers ~ Lifeofjoy.meWe grew these from seeds we had saved from planting store bought seeds several years ago. We will dry some of these seeds and save them for next year. You can do the same with many flowers; marigolds is another easy one to do because the flower head dries out so quickly.

Then one week in the parking lot of the library I saw this.

Ducks at the Library ~ Lifeofjoy.meI don’t know where she ended up but they made it to the grass. It was neat to watch those little ducklings jump up the curb.

Duck Jump ~ Lifeofjoy.meOf course, if Liam, my grandson, had been with me, I would have read Make Way for Ducklings when we got home or inside the library if we were staying for a while. :) It was so fun to see.

Just seeing these things and telling someone else what they saw is a good start at nature study. They can also draw what they see. Taking a picture of it is always a good idea too but not necessary. They can look up information about what they saw. Diagram it, labeling its parts. They can draw the life cycle of it.

In the case of planting seeds, they can have several pages where they are ‘documenting’ their plant growth. In the case of animals, they can find out what they eat and what might eat them. They can discover how it is born and how long it generally lives. You can go as deep as you desire or stay shallow by simply documenting what they see. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but if your child is interested in the topic, he/she can do more research via library or internet.

Bottom line is to be observant as you go throughout your days. Draw attention to the shape of the moon or that the moon is visible sometimes while the sun is still up. And then have them write something about it, assuming they are old enough. ;)

I have seen a hummingbird and a butterfly on the flowers out in the middle of my yard, from my living room window, all because I took the time to look. Just imagine what you might see!

I hope this inspires you to look around you and observe the wonder that is all around.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº



Pets and Responsibilities

Pets ~ Lifeofjoy.meWhen my kids were young, they wanted a dog. I made the prove that they could be responsible for the dog’s care by keeping the living room clean for a month. They were warned ahead of time that if they missed even on day, they’d have to start their month all over again. We started over again a couple times and in the end they knew that having a dog would be a job as well as fun.

I am not an animal person, so if we were getting a dog, they were going to have to agree to ALL of its care: potty walks, bathing, feeding, everything. They agreed to every bit of it. There were times I had to remind them that the dog was their responsibility and I wasn’t giving him a bath or feeding him. It was a good thing for my children.

I’m sharing an article with you about teaching responsibility through owning a pet. I hope it will give you some ideas for your children.

Until next time, God bless,

Michele ºÜº

Teaching Responsibility through Pet Ownership

By Linda Brodsky

Mom, we’re coming home with a new member of the family,” my 17-year-old happily announced. “Oh boy,” I said. As a new widow, this was the last thing we needed—another pet. But this dog would officially be my “adopted” son’s pet and he would be responsible for all his care. He agreed if it didn’t work out, his mom, who recently lost her 14-year-old dog, would take him. But “Buddy” was currently on probation with us. When I first met Buddy, a St. Bernard mix, I said, “No way! He’s huge and he’s going to be a handful!” But his pitiful look and laid back ways made me give him a chance. Besides, I thought he would help my daughter through her grieving process.

A UK pet retailer, Pets at Home, surveyed 1000 children ages 5-16 who have pets in their homes. A high percentage of the children believe caring for a pet makes them more responsible, caring, happy and intelligent. 36% of the children said they have become more caring and 34% feel a greater sense of responsibility.1

What Does Pet Ownership Teach Kids?

Pets teach kids to be more caring towards others. Children generally are focused on their own needs. Having a pet will teach them to serve others’ needs as well.

Having a pet means the life and well-being of another living creature is in your hands. The biggest responsibility is love. It can take a lot of time, money and energy. You have to be committed and work hard. Before pet ownership, there are certain things that must be considered such as the pet’s life span, how much time you and your child have to commit to your pet and the costs involved.

Before getting a pet, ask these questions: Why does the child want a pet? How mature is the child? Can he/she handle the responsibility and if not, will you help? How will the new pet affect the rest of the family and other pets already in the home?

Pets can be a very positive experience for children. They offer companionship, entertainment and education. However, they require care, attention and maintenance and also involve a financial commitment. They teach great responsibility, but the rewards can be very positive! The children also need to learn what happens when they don’t take care of their pets. And we have had several accidents or deaths when proper care was not given.

Part of pet responsibility is how children treat their pets. There are certain behaviors that should be banned, otherwise the child may be at risk of getting bit or scratched by the pet. They can also seriously hurt the animal. Excessive hugging and kissing, chasing, running, screaming, poking, teasing, handling roughly and riding on, are all behaviors that should be avoided.

Responsibilities of Pet Ownership

Children may need adult supervision when interacting with some pets. Don’t expect too much from younger children. For example, cleaning a cat’s litter box can be very dangerous, as small children touch their eyes and mouth and may not properly wash their hands after doing the task. Don’t overwhelm the child. It will discourage them from taking care of the pets and therefore will resent them. Then the pets will be the ones who suffer in the long run.

Here are some ways to encourage responsible behavior:

  • Praise your child every time a pet chore is done without having to ask
  • Try to reward your child in a way with a fun pet activity
  • If they start to lapse on their responsibility, offer gentle reminders
  • If problem persists, sit down with your child and see what can be done to make it more effective
  • Be a good example yourself

Parents must be clear about the responsibilities of pet ownership before a pet is received. And if a child does not care for the pet as she should or neglects assigned duties, perhaps a loss of privileges should be the consequences.

The lifelong commitment and responsibility to a pet ultimately rests on the adults in the house, not the children. If you’re not sure whether your child is read for a pet, especially a cat or a dog, consider fostering an animal for a short while. This will serve several purposes; you and your child can see what it actually requires to take care of this type of pet and animal rescue organizations are always in need of care for strays or abandoned pets. Your child may also want to volunteer at the local shelter to become familiar with what it takes to own a pet.

Throughout the years we have had every kind of pet imaginable: cats, dogs, parakeets, cockatiels, parrots, guinea pigs, fish, toads, gecko lizards, rabbits, hermit crabs and even a three foot long iguana! In fact, our children have had so much experience with different animals that they even started their own pet-sitting businesses. That’s a whole new level of responsibility.

As for Buddy, well he had a few mishaps, but he’s one of the sweetest, most easy-going dogs I’ve ever met. He gets an A on his probation report!

Having a pet is an incredibly rewarding experience for your children and can provide a lifetime of memories, education, responsibility and most of all, love.

Ages and Responsibilities for Pet Ownership

Toddlers to age 5:

-help parents put food and water in pet dishes

-clean and put away pet dishes

-put away pet toys

-help with brushing and grooming

-play with the pet

Ages 5-10:

-put food and water in dishes, still with some adult supervision

-heavier level of help with cleaning and maintenance of pet areas

-grooming and bathing, depending on size and personality of the pet

-help with exercise and walking, depending on size and personality of the pet

-clean up after pet when it goes to the bathroom

Ages 10 and up:

-all aspects can be responsibly assumed unless it’s a large, unruly animal

Low, Medium and High Maintenance Pets

Low Maintenance Pets

Fish – Perfect “starter” pet

Beta fish require no filter, heater or aerator

Goldfish don’t require a filter but it is good to have one

Insects & Arthropods – Ant farms and hermit crabs are easy, educational and fun

Sea Monkeys” (Brine shrimp) – Tiny crustaceans that are fun and very educational can be bought in kits with minimal care and can survive a year or more!

Reptiles – (Gecko lizards, toads, turtles, snakes)

They are non-allergenic so they make great pets for those that may be allergic to pet hair and dander

They are also very educational and fun

However, they need vitamins, heat and a light source

Small Birds – (Parakeets, canaries, finches) Birds are pretty easy to take care of and they are very educational and fun

However, they can be messy!

Rodents – Hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, gerbils are all very educational and fun

However, they could be high allergens, especially guinea pigs

Medium Maintenance Pets

Cats – Cats are great for when there is limited space and you can’t get a dog

They are very independent and usually friendly

Dogs – A dog is a kid’s best friend too – we found that our boys especially love dogs, but they do require a bit more responsibility

Great kid-friendly breeds are Labs, Retrievers, Poodles, Airedale terriers (which we are biased to since we had one that was absolutely awesome! Clifford was ten years old when he passed away and we talk about him all the time. He was the best dog ever!)

High Maintenance Pets

Larger birds such as parrots, horses, chickens, goats, sheep, exotic animals such as chimpanzees, pigs, llamas, etc.

Linda Brodsky, along with her late husband Mark, owned and operated Brodsky Ministries, an online resource for curriculum, homeschool t-shirts, natural health and beauty products and general Christian materials for over 12 years. She has written numerous articles and a book, Fruit of the Womb: Our Journey to Joy in the Morning which can be ordered through her website Linda has done seminars at homeschool conventions throughout the country, speaking about nutrition and child safety. She will be writing and speaking about homeschooling through adversities in 2014. She can be reached at

Copyright, 2014. Used with permission. All rights reserved by author. Originally appeared in The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, the family education magazine, July/August 2014. Read the magazine free at or read it on the go and download the free apps at to read the magazine on your mobile devices.

More Juvenile Non-Fiction

More Non-Fiction Children's Books ~ Lifeofjoy.meThese are two other books I found in the non-fiction section of the children’s portion of the library. Although parts of the Pepsi one was rather dry, I did enjoy finding out about how the product came to be, how it changed, and such. Overall, it was an okay read. I wouldn’t call it exciting but not boring either. ;) There were some boring bits with dates and stuff but overall, it was interesting to me that Pepsi of today is NOT what it was created to be.

The cooking one has about four recipes to try. This one was good more for the information about the White House and how Pres. and Abigail Adams were the first to live in the new building in D. C. I found it interesting and a short read. The print in this book was large so it isn’t too overwhelming for the younger readers and has great information for all readers. Unfortunately there are only four books in the series but I would recommend them.

So I think this little foray into the non-fiction section of the juvenile portion of the library yielded wonderful results. I believe your children could find some interesting information within the pages of some pretty good books. So, on each trip to the library, take a little browse in the non-fiction stacks and if you are lost on where to start, all these were found in the 900 section.

Until next time, God bless,

 Michele ºÜº