Monday, December 10, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Little Prince

book reviews by teens, book reviews, the little prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Title: The Little Prince

Author: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Published: 1943

Genre: fantasy, children’s, young adult, adventure, philosophy 

Summary: The Little Prince lives on his asteroid not doing much except watching the sun rise and set, getting rid of Baobab trees and taking care of his rose. One day the Little Prince leaves his asteroid and as he travels he learns more about life, especially the lives of grown ups who are much different the what the Little Prince is used to. 

What I liked about it: I have loved this book since I first read it many years ago. I didn’t understand it as well the first time I read it and each time I reread it I find myself realizing more about it than I had the previous time. It is a beautiful book that has a lot of meaning in it for anyone who reads it. 

Language: None

Romance: None

Violence: None

Magic: There is no explained magic. It’s not a normal fantasy with a magic system and a lot of fancy spells. The magic is not really anything more then really just the imagination of a child. It is simple and pure in a way that most books aren’t anymore. 

Recommended Age: I don’t really think there is anyone too young or old for this story. It is a fun adventure for a child and interesting look at the human personality and life for those who are older. It can be enjoyed at any age and only gets better with each reading. 

book reviews by teens, book reviews, the little prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

*This is the next-to-last installment of our Books With Bean column. Arlene has done these as a part of her schoolwork for her senior year (book analysis, writing, and graphic arts.) She will be graduating this weekend, so next Monday will be the final installment. We both hope you have enjoyed these book reviews. You can read back through all of them anytime by clicking the small orange Books With Bean tag at the bottom of any of these posts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

The End of Homeschooling ~ Part 3

When you come to the end of your home education journey, you will have to come to terms with all of the books you have collected over the years. Picture books, field guides, chapter books, textbooks, art books, novels... the shelves go on and on and on.

Evaluating your book collection

How do you decide what to keep and what to let go? Maybe you've already purged your shelves of all but the most treasured of childhood books and now you are down to the high school level reading material. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin to sort those shelves:

1- will my children (or grandchildren) ever want to read this book again?

2- will I or my spouse ever want to read this book again?

3- is this a fairly recent edition in good enough condition that I should consider selling it?

4- is this book a solid resource that would bless some family I know because it fits with their teaching and learning styles (should I gift it to them)?

5- was this a book I wish we had NOT used? If so, is it a poor quality or content weak resource... or did it just not click with my kids?

6- in five years will I wish I still had this book to re-read or loan to family friends?

7-is this book worn out or used up and just needs to go in the recycling bin or kindling pile?

(If you have not already begun this process with the children's picture books and middle school resources, then choose just one area to start with. Move to another area in a month or two.)

Finding new homes for your books

After you've evaluated your books, or at least a few shelves' worth of them, talk with your spouse or adult children and make sure no one is upset by your rating of each book. You might have listed them by final destination spots in a notebook, or simply put color coded post-it note flags in them. Another option is to fill each shelf with books destined for the same end.

Once you've got your piles and the OK from the family for those you want to part with, get online and decide where and how you want to offer those titles from category #3 for sale. Does your local homeschool group host an annual used book sale? Is there a local facebook group to sell them from, or are you going to list them on one of the nationwide used-curriculum sites? Sometimes all you need to do is let your friends with middle school aged kids know what you want to part with. Books from popular homeschool publishers like Apologia, Math-U-See, IEW, and Memoria Press tend to find their new homes quickly!

Next, look over that pile of #4 books. Gently offer these books and resources to families you would like to bless. They might be thrilled with the offer, or they might decline. Don't be pushy, give them time to think over your offer before they need to decide. On a similar note, do NOT make them your dump site! If they only want one or two of your 40+ chapter books, then just gift them those two. You can find somewhere else to dispose of the others.

If you have a pile of #5 or #7 books because they are falling apart or because they were just horribly written, then look for one of those large book and paper recycling bins in the parking lot at the library or supermarket and give then a toss. If that book truly was awful - it can better serve someone after it is recycled into couple of egg cartons. :)

Final thoughts about your book collection

Overall, you probably will not get rid of as many books on this first culling as you initially think. Be willing to lower your price if necessary on books you want to sell, or look for places that collect free used curriculum to bless others with. After six months or a year you may want to go through the process again.

Our house will probably always look like a small library. That's OK with all of us since we have books we love. Our goal is not to get rid of all of the books - just to move the ones we are done using to new homes so that we can better organize and find the ones we love!

Come back later this month for part 4 in the End of Homeschooling series - What about mom?

In the meantime, you can read parts one and two in this series again anytime!

Monday, December 3, 2018

My Picture My Story ~ West Baden Springs

another look back at life through a picture

West Baden Springs, friendship, road trip, travel, graduations

Today's look back is from May of this year. The girls and I were headed to southern Indiana for a friends' graduation open house. While mapping out our route, we realized that we would only be about half an hour from the historic hotel at West Baden Springs. Simply put - our road trip took on another stop or two. :)

I love my kids, and their friends. They keep me young and remind me to find  joy in the everyday things of life. Since Arlene will be graduating soon, I decided to try to take at least one selfie with her each month of her senior year-ish of high school. Well, this was one of those times when she said "Here Mom, give me the phone, my arms are longer." This picture was taken near the end of our detour to West Baden. We planned an extra hour or so for this part of the trip. The girls and I had read a lot about the restoration work that had gone on at the West Baden Springs hotel over the past 20 years, and we wanted to take a step back in time and think about what it would have been like in its heyday in the 1920's.

Since we were headed for a graduation open house later that day, we planned to stop early and pick up one of their other friends along the way. Their friend Zed is about as chill as they come. He enjoys life, and likes mostly everybody, so off the four of us went to peek back into the 1920's lifestyle of the rich at West Baden. 

We were not disappointed! The hotel is a great place to stay (or so I've been told by friends!) and welcomes day visitors to the restaurant, gift shops, spa, and golf course, so we blended right in - LOL! We never really blend in, we just don't mind sticking out. :)

The mosaic work in the lobby floor was amazing, the open atrium was a feat of engineering, and the detail work on the furniture was inspiring. We took time to look around the gardens some as well. The great thing about exploring somewhere new is doing it with friends, so you have someone to reminisce with later. :) I am so thankful to be able to call our daughters friends.

I would really like to return again next year and spend a couple of nights as a guest at the hotel. I think it would make a great spot for a writing retreat! Let me know if any of you want to underwrite my trip ;)

The graduation open house? It was fun too! But that is a story for another picture to tell.

If you would like to see more of our trip to West Baden, check out the pictures on our Instagram page!

Friday, November 23, 2018


The world finds value in things. Today in the US is known as Black Friday, the day that traditionally kicked off the Christmas shopping season. Isn't that in and of itself a problem? We have a holiday season, not marked by the presence of the One who is supposed to be celebrated, but rather marked by how many more days we have for consumerism until the 25th of December.

This post is not a slam on celebrating Christmas, far from it. What I've been thinking about though is how we, as Christians, can turn the season back to a celebration of Christ's birth and what He would do for us here on the earth.

Can we find value, not in things, but in people? Can we choose to spend our time this season seeing the value in each person that God created? Can we choose to value the opinions or life-earned knowledge of others? Can we value the sanctity of life? Can we please get back to remembering the baby that was born instead of the number of shopping days left?!

I enjoy being a good steward of the money God has granted us. Most people enjoy getting a good price, a value, when they are at the store, but there is so much more to value than things. I love being able to spend wisely, give with open hands, and see God at work. More than anything this season, what I want is to see lives transformed by the message of the good news that those angels told the shepherds about in Luke 2: Fear not: for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.

Value the things that have eternal significance. 

This post is a part of the Five Minute Friday community. Hop on over and join us!

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Old Schoolhouse Flash Sale - only thru Friday night!

*this post contains affiliate links*
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are spending your time having a great time with family and friends. I just popped on here because I would be remiss if I didn't let you know about this awesome two-day only sale on PRINT copies of The Old Schoolhouse magazine!

I have read The Old Schoolhouse magazine for years and years, and I'm super excited that it is going back to print for all four issues each year. I'm planning to buy a gift subscription for our library, for all those families who might be looking to homeschool. Who might you give a gift subscription to at this awesome price? Be sure to pick up a subscription for yourself too! Think about it, and make sure you get them ordered before midnight on Friday!

One year (4 issues) only $10!
Get the PRINT trade magazine for homeschool families delivered to your door every quarter during our 48-hour Thanksgiving Flash Sale and SAVE BIG! Each issue, over 120 pages, is packed with ideas, inspiration, and practical tips for your homeschool and your home. Plus, there is bonus holiday content, an Annual Freebie Directory, and resource guides.
Grab a one-year subscription for just $10—that is about the cost of a single issue! Why not treat yourself, along with a friend or two, and get a head start on your Christmas list? You have to ACT FAST though. This sale is good Thursday and Friday only (Nov. 22 & 23). 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving, 2018, thankfulness

We hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving day. 
We are so thankful for you, our readers!
Enjoy the day with your family and friends. 
Remember, we have so much to be thankful for today, and every day!

Monday, November 19, 2018

Books With Bean ~ A Christmas Carol

Book reviews by teens, A Christmas Carol, Dickens, Scrooge, Marley

Title: A Christmas Carol  

Author: Charles Dickens

Published: December 19th, 1843

Genre: Christmas, fiction 

Summary: You have probably heard the tale before: Marley is dead and Scrooge is left to deal with the business of lending to the poor. As Christmas comes, Scrooge has no time for it nor for anyone who does. All he worries about is his money and making sure he has plenty of it. That is until Marley returns from the dead and shows Scrooge the shackles that weigh him down. Marley says three ghosts will visit Scrooge and he hopes Scrooge heeds their words.

What I liked about it: I have a love hate relationship with Dickens, as in I love this book and The Tale of Two Cities, and I hate Oliver Twist with almost everything in me. I love this story, it is really one of the first of the type of stories that we as a society seem to love these days. The story where the bad guy is just misunderstood, and if he were shown a better way he would change. I can’t remember the first time I heard this story. It certainly wasn’t by reading it. I don’t think I had even read it until I was probably 14. It was either the Muppets version (which I highly recommend) or the Disney version with Scrooge McDuck. This story is about learning from our pasts and becoming better for our futures. It is about loving everyone no matter how old or young, how rich or poor, and not doing it just for what we can get in return. This is an important lesson that we have been talking about in Church recently and I feel like it is one we don’t pay enough attention to. 

Language: None

Romance: Scrooge, we learn, was engaged as a young adult but it was broken off. It is important to the story, but it’s never written in a way that I would consider inappropriate for anyone reading it.

Violence: There is talk of death and hunger but it’s never gory.

Magic: Well there are the ghosts of course but it’s not really explained how they work. 

Recommended Age: I don’t really think there is anyone too young for this story, well maybe an actual infant, but that’s about it. A younger child may be more ready for a movie version first, but it is definitely worth it. As someone who has been watching the movies made from this story since I was a kid, I can say honestly that it is a powerful message that only grows more strong the older I get and the more I understand what is going on. The Muppets version is amazing and it is a classic that definitely gets me into the sharing and caring mood every December.

Book reviews by teens, A Christmas Carol, Dickens, Scrooge, Marley

Friday, November 16, 2018

Prayers for the Battlefield by Heidi St John ~ a Tyndale book review

Where do we go to find answers for the toughest questions about motherhood? Not those questions like how do I get my baby to sleep through the night, which, in hindsight, is a pretty tough one, but those truly tough questions? Questions like: How do I protect my child from the evil in this world? How do I face those unexpected challenges with my teenagers? Where can I find comfort and strength when I feel powerless? Those kinds of tough questions! We turn to God, desperately seeking His help.

In our heads we know the answers to these questions are found somewhere in our Bibles, but in our hearts, we need some comfort now, not three or four years from now when we get to reading 3 John or 2 Thessalonians in our limited, ten minutes a day if we are lucky, quiet time. Moms, especially those with young children lean on God all the time. We pray, but often it is limited to: Dear Jesus, help me! Now please! How do busy, overworked, sleep-deprived moms find time? We trust God to provide it… eventually. In the meantime, many moms turn to reading devotionals. Something with real truth in it, with a lesson from Scripture, but that only takes about 5-10 minutes. Devotionals are usually smaller than our Bibles and more portable. They can be tossed in a diaper bag or a briefcase. I am so happy to share with you some great news: God uses all of our interactions with Him to teach us, mold us, and make us more like Christ. Five minutes or two hours, He will use them all!

MomStrong, Heidi St John, Tyndale publishers, devotional for moms

Two months ago, Tyndale Momentum released a new devotional for moms from Heidi St John: Prayers for the Battlefield, Staying MomStrong in the Fight for Your Family and Faith. It is all the things a devotional should be. It is filled with truth, with lessons drawn from Scripture. Heidi shares examples from real life, and a huge dose of encouragement for moms of all ages and stages. Prayers for the Battlefield contains 31 devotionals that remind us that we cannot win this war alone, but God can. 31 different reminders that while the daily battle rages around us and our families, God is right there beside us.

Prayers for the Battlefield contains real help for those super tough questions we encounter, because it contains God’s Word. After the Introduction, that reminds us the battlefield is a spiritual one, for the very souls of our children and the rest of humankind, you will find the 31 devotionals divided into six sections. Each of the six sections covers an area where we need guidance for our own lives, and knowledge about how to speak truth into the lives of our children. You can read them one a day from start to finish, or you can turn to the index in the back to find the particular help you need for that day: courage, rest, protection, provision, wisdom and more. There will never be a day when these Prayers for the Battlefield are not appropriate, either for yourself, or for a friend, until you wake up on the other side of eternity.

Each day’s reading begins with a verse or section of Scripture. Then there is the devotional thought, a practical look at how God works this truth from Scripture out in our lives, and often how He worked this truth in the life of someone else that is recorded in His Word. Then Heidi shares a prayer for you to pray. As I mentioned earlier, this prayer either applies to you personally, or to one of your friends, so pray it! Don’t just read it, pray it. Pray it with a longing to be more like Christ, to stand strong in His strength, and to help carry other Moms to His throne of grace. At the end of each day’s reading is a short listing for Praying the Scriptures. 

As I read through Prayers for the Battlefield, I was reminded of how God wants to meet each of us and show us His heart for our lives. I was reminded of how I had been almost every one of those moms that these prayers were written for during my 20 years of motherhood: the mom who feels powerless, the mom struggling with bitterness, the mom who needs courage. Reading through the book cover to cover reminded me to pray for the other moms in my life. The final devotional in Prayers for the Battlefield is for the mom who wants to influence future generations. While I’m not to that point in my life yet, since neither of our daughters is married, I know from watching my friends that I want to be one of those moms, and someday the Grandma, who still influences future generations for Christ. Right now that practically means speaking truth into our daughters’ lives, and speaking truth into their friends’ lives as well. Expanding my circle of influence through loving others well.

This small book needs to be in the hands of every mom you know, from the one who is pregnant for the first time, to the one whose children have left the nest to begin her own families. Prayers for the Battlefield retails for $12.99 in hardcover or ebook form, but I want to encourage you to buy in bulk. Buy copies for all of your mom friends: for Thanksgiving, for Christmas, for their birthdays, for a just-because you love them present. Then, for those who come back and tell you how much reading these Scriptures and praying these prayers has increased their faith, given then hope, and helped deepen their trust in God, go get them a copy of Heidi St John’s book from last year: Becoming MomStrong.

Find hope, rest, and perseverance, read Prayers for the Battlefield, and stay MomStrong.

Connect with Heidi on her website, blog, Facebook, or Pinterest 

I received a complimentary copy of Prayers for the Battlefield from Tyndale House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine. I am disclosing this according to FTC regulations. No other compensation was provided.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Ice Storm

Today I was planning to write up and post a book review...

But an ice storm came through last night, the power has been out for four hours, and it is too cold to want to try to type it all up on my phone. So I guess that will need to wait for another day. It’s time to curl back up under my blankets with a mug of hot chocolate and read another good book. Stay safe out there!

Friday, November 9, 2018


Today's Five Minute Friday word is: burden

five minute friday, free writes, Christian living

In Matthew, Jesus called those who were weary and heavy laden to come to Him for rest. In Galatians we are called to bear one another's burdens. How do we do this? How do we lay our own burdens upon Jesus and yet humbly take up one another's burdens? It all begins and ends with prayer. 

Jesus is calling us to come to Him for rest because He knows that we today, just like those people 2000 years ago, will try to do it all ourselves. Our pride gets in our own way and we don't want to ask anyone else for help. We have convinced ourselves that we will be the one person who can hold it all together and have a perfect, or nearly perfect, life in our own strength. Oh friend, stop believing that lie. The ONLY ONE who can hold it all together is the ONLY ONE who led a perfect life - Jesus! Because He loves us so much that He died for us, He knows that we also need help with the daily living. He took our place in death, and now He wants to BE our place in life. When your life is focused upon Jesus, amazing things happen!

One of the most amazing things about laying down your burdens and allowing Jesus to carry then for you is that then you realize you have time, space, and strength to help others carry their burdens and lay those at Jesus' feet too. We take up the burden of a hurt friend, a sick loved one, or a homeless person we meet in the park because we know how much our own lives changed when Jesus took our burdens. We begin by praying for that other person, and then we listen to see if God wants to use us as His hands and feet to help them physically as well. Maybe you offer to drive your friend to their Dr appointment, or make a meal for your sick neighbor. Perhaps God calls you to give a meal to the homeless person, or direct them to the local shelter where you volunteer.

Bearing one another's burdens is what we do as Christians. It is what we were made to do. The world sees what we do and knows it is spurred on by love, for no one would do it otherwise.  The world knows we are His because of our love for one another. Put down your own burdens and carry someone to God in prayer today.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Books With Bean ~ The Schwa Was Here

book reviews, book reviews by teens, Neil Shusterman

Title: The Schwa Was Here 

Author: Neal Shusterman

Published: 2004

Genre: Young Adult 

Summary: Have you even met a person that you just can't remember? Maybe you know that they are there and just don’t pay attention to them or maybe you go through life and it isn't until some time later that you realize that they were right next to you the whole time and you never even noticed. For Antsy it's the latter, Calvin Schwa, or the Schwa as he is better known,  has sat next to him in school for years; always on time for class, always ready with the answers and always just waiting to be noticed. But there is just something about him that makes most peoples' eyes move right over him in a crowd or skip past him like he’s not even there when he is by himself. Everyone at school has heard of him of course, but he is one of those weird urban legends that you are never sure if they are real or not. Antsy never noticed him until the day he is given an unbearable plastic dummy by his dad who works in product development for a plastic company. On the day Antsy and his friends Howie and Irma go out to try and break Manny as they have dubbed him, they first really notice the Schwa and from that day on Antsy is curious to see how far being mostly invisible can be pushed before it finally gets noticed. It turns out pretty far. In a group of kids in a classroom, when counted, only 1 out of every 5 people notices the Schwa is there. Finally on a dare the Schwa goes into the realm of Crazy Old Man Crawley and turns out he is one of the people who can notice the Schwa just by looking around. As payment for not turning them over to the cops, Crawley has them walk his 14 dogs every day and what at first seems like the ruination of the boys summer turns out to be a lesson in both friendship and trust.

What I liked about it: I have read this book so many times and it gets better each time. Antsy with his straight forward Brooklyn attitude is an interesting first person narrator. The Schwa is also an interesting person in the way that he deals with his “invisibleness” and how it affects his life both before and after he becomes friends with Antsy. Of the other characters like Crazy Old Man Crawley, Antsy’s friends Howie and Irma, and Lexie, they are well developed and each interesting in their own ways.

Language: One of the things I try to do with these book reviews is find good clean books that parents don’t have to worry about their kids reading. As such almost none of the books have even light swearing and only a hint of romance. This books is a bit different. It has no inappropriate scenes but it does have some language, not a lot and not really anything super hard but it does have a few words that good little Christain me wouldn’t say. Its not anything that I would consider really bad but it is there. 

Romance: There is a not really a love triangle. One of the things Crazy Old Man Crawley has Antsy do is “date” his granddaughter Lexie while she is in town over the summer. Basically it's Antsy's job to take her to parks and museums and that sort of thing. Lexie is blind and yet can still tell whenever the Schwa is in the room. Because of this Schwa becomes interested in her and gets a bit jealous that Antsy gets to “date” her. In the end, Antsy realizes that he and Lexie are just friends, which for a YA book is really nice because a lot of them seem to make it feel like there has to be a romance in every book and having a book where and guy and girl are just friends is really nice.

Violence: Manny the plastic dummy “dies” in several different ways over the course of the story at the boys try and break the unbreakable plastic but its never graphic and even when he finally breaks it is like whatever because he is just plastic.

Magic: None 

Recommended Age: Antsy and his friends are in their mid teens and I feel like to really appreciate the book and its themes and plot you really have to be at least 14-15. However, that being said, the themes of appreciating everyone you know and friendship and all that are good things that can be learned or relearned at any age so there I really no top age for when you can read this book. 

book reviews, book reviews by teens, Neil Shusterman

Thursday, November 1, 2018


31 days of five minute free writes, encouragement, living

This is the last of my posts for the 31 days of Five Minute Free writes. I've been thinking about this one for a couple days, so it may go over the five minutes ;)

Close the door.
Are you close to done?

Which one is it? Either, both.
Let's choose the first one.

God's story is like a novel that never ends. I like to read novels. They give me a chance to delve into another time, or another place, and be entertained. When our girls were really little, I started reading a lot of historical fiction. A library card was free, and I needed a pastime that was free. I still read a lot of historical fiction, but not as much as I used to. There is a satisfaction in getting to the conclusion in the story, but oftentimes, there is a bit of a letdown, because you want to know what happens next. You become invested in the characters of a good book, and they can seem like your new friends. What happens to them next?

Isn't life like that? We want to know what happens next. When God closes one chapter in our lives, we want to be able to read the next one - soon, as in right now! But, that is not always how reading a novel works. You might need to set a novel aside to go make dinner, or help your child with their math lesson. These are real, everyday life occurrences that take precedent over knowing the ending of the story.

God has a way of placing everyday life occurrences in our own story, to turn our focus towards others, and away from trying to find the ending of our story. This is a good thing, a great thing actually. We need other people in our lives to make our story interesting. We also need other people in our lives to keep us humble. So often we need other people to point out the blessings in our everyday lives, so that we pause and thank our Creator. 

While today marks the close of this chapter, it also signals that another one is just beginning. Where will it lead? God knows, and He will be walking it with us!

Thank you for reading all the way through this Write October 31 day challenge. November is here, and that signals NaNoWriMo. (National Novel Writing Month)

While I'm not writing a novel this month, Arlene will be working on her third one this month for NaNoWriMo. I'll be working on writing my book, which means more writing, but a little less of it here on the blog. I'm hoping to get back to Instagram more, which has been sorely lacking during this October challenge. Stay tuned, there's plenty of interesting stuff scheduled for November here on the blog!