O is for Outside: Blogging Through The Alphabet

Well….as y’all might have noticed, I totally fell off my Blogging Through the Alphabet plan!  (I do have a really, really good excuse, though.  More on that in the next week or so.)

But…I have a lovely word for the letter “O.”  It’s “Outside,” just in time for us to roll into May and some beautiful weather!

 

 

I am so happy that it is almost May!

Where we live, we still get snow at the end of April and the beginning of May.  (And the weather report is predicting some this weekend, as a matter of fact.)

But, the daffodils are beginning to blossom.  The fruit trees have greened up and some flowers (and some lovely scents) are budding.  We’re getting some rain…and I’m hoping that I’ll be able to do some gardening soon.

Here are some things I’m looking forward to doing Outside….this May!

  • Taking a walk around the neighborhood
  • Visiting our local xeriscape garden and seeing what they’ve got blooming
  • Doing some plein air sketches
  • Sitting on the front porch
  • Driving with the window down

I’d love to say doing some Pokemon Go! with my husband and son…or doing a hike on one of the cool nearby trails in our city.  (There’s a nice river nearby…as well as some incredible red rocks that are so fun to climb on.)   Later in the month, I hope.

In the meanwhile, we’re focusing on finishing our homeschool year well.  I sure don’t know where the school year went.  But we’re looking forward to getting Outside…now that the weather is moving into gorgeousness!

Hop on over to Annette’s A Net In Time blog and Amanda’s at Hopkins Homeschool blog, and check out what lots of other bloggers have to share about the letter “O!”

 

Enjoy!  –Wren

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H is for Happy: Blogging Through The Alphabet

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  My friends Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time are co-hosting Blogging Through The Alphabet.  This week’s letter is H, and I’m sharing a super-fun book/journal that beautifully exemplifies H…for Happy!

 

 

I received the most charming book to review that is just the ticket for getting ourselves into a happy frame of mind.

 

Karen Salmansohn’s fabulous new journal, Instant Happy Journal, is as gorgeous on the inside as it is on the outside.  Its subtitle is “365 Days of Inspiration, Gratitude, and Joy.”  More than just an empty book with pages to be filled, it’s designed to actually enable its writers to, as the old song goes, “accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative.”

And how, actually, does Salmansohn do this?  She has created a journal with a blank page for each day of the year.  But, the pages aren’t completely blank.  Instead, each one has what the author calls “happiness prompters.”  It’s a wide variety of quotes, lists, thoughts, and information that will cause the user to stop and think, and to purposely call to mind things about each day that are good.  Or happy.  Or joyful.

In the journal’s foreword, Salmansohn mentions a study done at the University of California. Study participants were divided into three groups, and given three different assignments.  The first group was to write once weekly about 5 good things they were thankful for.  Members of the second group wrote 5 irritating things that had happened in their days.  The third simply wrote down five random things that had occurred.

 

 

Overwhelmingly, the first group (the ones who wrote things they were thankful for) noted that they were happier and that they looked forward more to good things in their futures.  Perhaps most surprisingly, they experienced more improvement in their health!

I was particularly interested in this book because I can see that it is and will be a very useful tool for me.  I’ve always been a pretty positive person.  But, difficult struggles in the past few years have really had an affect on my outlook.  I would love to be more grateful and more thankful for the blessings I have.  What a cool way to record these…at night after the day’s events, or in the morning as I recall the neat things of yesterday.  And then, there’s a wonderful record of all those very good things, any time I might need a lift!

Karen Salmansohn’s Instant Happy Journal is beautiful to look at, full of amazing prompts for your writing, and is, I think, something that will enable users to think about GOOD things. It’s a joy!

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Enjoy!  –Wren

 

Lots of other amazing bloggers have written cool posts about their takes on the letter H.  Click on the Blogging Through the Alphabet button below to check them out!

G is for Grace (and Truth): Blogging Through the Alphabet

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  My friends Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time are co-hosting Blogging Through The Alphabet.  This week’s letter is G.

 

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Grace (and Truth)

John 1:14 says, “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

I have always liked this description of Jesus.  I’ve heard a number of expositions on what it looked like for Jesus to be “full of grace and truth.”  What did that look like?  Not only did He always completely tell the truth, He WAS truth  (John 14:6).  Vine’s exposition on alētheia (truth in Greek) says it is “truth” in all its fullness and scope, as embodied in Him” and also that Jesus “was the perfect expression of the truth.” Not just verbal truth, but “sincerity and integrity of character.”

And what about the grace portion of that character description?  The root word from which charitos comes, charis, is defined by Strong’s Concordance as “(a) grace, as a gift or blessing brought to man by Jesus Christ, (b) favor, (c) gratitude, thanks, (d) a favor, kindness.”  Charitos
is further defined there as “‘the grace of Christ,’ in that through pity for sinful men Christ left his state of blessedness with God in heaven, and voluntarily underwent the hardships and miseries of human life, and by his sufferings and death procured salvation for mankind.”

That’s quite a mouthful, isn’t it?  I’m very familiar, as I’m sure many of you are, with the “full of grace and truth” description of Jesus.  I’ve thought a number of times, rather than of these qualities being in full measure in Jesus’ character and being, of how they must have defined His words to others.  We ourselves (okay, I’ll speak on myself here) often seem to lean one way or another in our words.  We can be heavy on the truth yet speak it without kindness, thoughtlessly, or maybe at times when others’ hearts aren’t prepared for the truth and there is harm done rather than lovingkindness expressed.

Or maybe we lean too hard into grace, and don’t speak the truth God has given us because of fear or timidity.

What if we strive to combine hard truths with the grace Jesus would speak them with?

I think of the Samaritan woman at the well.  Jesus didn’t yell “Sinful, unfaithful woman!” to her when she began to converse with Him.  Nor did He say, “Well, I know you’re kind of living in sin–but that’s okay!  You’re awesome!”  No, He spoke truth to her but He did it gently, kindly, and fully.

Resulting in her redemption and that of many in her village…even though they were of a race that the Jews disliked and avoided.

Pretty amazing.

Grace and truth…spoken together.

Blogging Through the Alphabet

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So, this week’s letter is G!  Visit Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time, the co-hosts of Blogging Through The Alphabet, to see more bloggers sharing about their thoughts and words about G!  Or, just click on the button above, which will take you to the link.

Enjoy!  –Wren

F is for Flowers: Blogging Through The Alphabet

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  My friends Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time are co-hosting Blogging Through The Alphabet.  This week’s letter is F.

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I am a huge fan of flowers!  Especially if they’re fresh or growing in a garden.  I love their scent, shape, the velvety softness of their petals.  The entire package!

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I am a fan of peonies in particular.  But I also love the flowers on trees that bud in the spring; of the spiky purple blossoms on chives plants; sunflowers; roses; pansies….really, I can’t think of a flower I don’t like!

 

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I remember being enchanted with Indian paintbrushes as a little girl in Houston.  Bluebonnets in the hill country.  I loved getting the occasional fresh flower arrangement in college, or corsages for formals.  I love seeing them as pops of color in fields or on the side of the highway.

 

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What are your favorites of the flower world?

 

Blogging Through the Alphabet Linkup

Just click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the linkup.  You’ll be able to see lots of others’ ideas about the letter F!

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Enjoy!  –Wren

E is for Echidna: Blogging Through The Alphabet

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  My friends Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time are co-hosting Blogging Through The Alphabet.  This week’s letter is E.

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What is an echidna, anyway?

I actually discovered it thanks to the Crossy Road game (reminiscent of Frogger from the 80s), where it’s one of the winnable characters from the Prize Machine.  In Crossy, the Echidna lives in the Australia characters set and location.  It looks rather LEGOesque in its design, and it eats ants with its long tongue.  I have always thought it was such a cute and fun little guy!

 

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In real life, the echidna (I’ve heard it pronounced both eh-KID-nuh or eh-CHID-na) is one of only 3 egg-laying mammals in the world.  There are long-billed echidnas, short-billed echidnas, and the platypus, who’s more familiar to us all.  It lives in New Guinea, Australia, and Tasmania.  If you’d like more info on the echidna, visit this link to the San Diego Zoo, which has a great write-up on it.

Or, you can watch this YouTube video of The Late Late Show with James Corden, where Jack Hanna visits and brings not only an echidna but two darling clouded leopards.  (The echidna starts at about the 4:40 mark—but if you watch the whole thing, you can see the leopards, a bearcat, a penguin, and then the echidna!)

 

As always with the Internet, I recommend parents watch the videos before their kids do.  Just b/c things can change rapidly!

Do you have a favorite “odd” or unusual animal?

Blogging Through the Alphabet Linkup

Just click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the linkup.  You’ll be able to see lots of others’ ideas about the letter E!

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Enjoy!  –Wren

D is for Deduction: Blogging Through the Alphabet

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  My friends Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time are co-hosting Blogging Through The Alphabet.  This week’s letter is D.

 

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D is for Deduction

Social deduction, that is!

Is that even a phrase you’ve ever heard of?  Until recently, I hadn’t.  Social deduction games involve hidden identities; secret plans or agendas; and trying to figure out those secrets by social interaction with the other players.

And now, Chara Games has a Kickstarter project for their newest game, UNAUTHORIZED.

Why we are fans of Chara Games

We were fortunate to review Commissioned and 3 Seeds in 2016, and we had great experiences with each of these games (you can find out more about them by clicking on the highlighted links).   Chara Games was founded by Patrick and Katherine Lysaght to create Christian-themed games to bring families together for fun and fellowship.  And joy, because the definition of the Greek word “chara” is “unshakeable joy.”  Both the games we’ve played from Chara Games have been creative, interesting, and really fun to play as a family.

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UNAUTHORIZED

So, the newest game from the Lysaghts is called UNAUTHORIZED.  I’m sure that you know that there are countries in our world which forbid the practice of Christianity.  Churches in those countries often operate in an underground fashion, and the church members can face job loss, imprisonment, or even death if they’re discovered.

UNAUTHORIZED is designed for 6-12 players and a 30-minute game play time.  Players’ identities (individuals from the Church attempting to grow, or the State desiring to crush it) are determined by the draw of cards.  No one knows who is doing what, but during game play try to figure that out AND either grow the Church or eradicate it.  There are 12 different Role cards (Police, Pastor, Matchmaker, Clerk, Thief, and more) and 97 Experience Cards (State Education, Enduring Joy, and others) which influence what the player does.  There are also Reference Cards and a complete Rule Book.

And you can get UNAUTHORIZED now via Kickstarter!

You can join the UNAUTHORIZED Kickstarter Project (like we did!) and receive a copy of the game yourself for only $15.  (You can also become a Project Backer for less than that or more, depending on what level you choose.)  Just click on UNAUTHORIZED Kickstarter Project  to learn more.  The game’s base funding has been met (which means that the game will be shipping out in November 2017), but further funding will enable Chara Games to meet further game goals.

Just check out the UNAUTHORIZED Kickstarter Project page.

Who would like to play UNAUTHORIZED?

  • Families who love game nights
  • People who enjoy getting to get together with friends for tabletop gaming
  • Those who’d like to teach their kids what it’s like to be a Christian in a society that forbids it
  • People who appreciate social deduction games
  • Those who are drawn to high-quality games

In closing

UNAUTHORIZED will be our family’s very first social deduction game.  I love the idea of it, and can’t wait to investigate another amazing experience from Chara Games!

Blogging Through the Alphabet Linkup

Just click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the linkup.  You’ll be able to see lots of others’ ideas about the letter D!

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Enjoy!  –Wren

C is for Calligraphy: Blogging Through the Alphabet

Welcome back to Blogging Through the Alphabet!  My friends My friends Amanda from Hopkins Homeschool and Annette from A Net In Time are co-hosting Blogging Through The Alphabet.  This week’s letter is C.

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Something I always wanted to know how to do is today’s letter C:  calligraphy!  Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, I was able to try Everyday Education, LLC’s Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting.  I love it!  And I finally feel that I was able to jump into calligraphic writing (if that’s a word) successfully.

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Perfect Reading, Beautiful Handwriting is designed to be used to teach children handwriting.   But it can also be used for adults to learn more beautiful handwriting, or calligraphy.  I haven’t worked thru the entire curriculum yet.  It starts with italic printing.  Then, once that alphabet is mastered, it moves on to cursive letters, and ends with connecting the cursive ones.

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I’m looking forward to continuing to learn this lovely italic.

How do you like to explore your creative side?

Blogging Through the Alphabet Linkup

Just click on the button below and you’ll be taken to the linkup.  You’ll be able to see lots of others’ ideas about the letter C!

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Enjoy!  –Wren