The Busyness in Our Lives

This past week was indeed a busy one. Morgan had Spring Formal (homeschoolers version of prom) Friday night, her last youth turkey hunt early Saturday morning and finally, 4-H shooting sports practice Sunday afternoon.  In the midst of all of this, school work was done. Not much might I add!  Yikes!  

In preparation for these activities, camo and artillery were gathered and Morgan was girlied up!  We spent most of Friday afternoon at a friend’s salon getting Morgan ready. She had the works:  manicure, pedicure, makeup and hair done. She looked fabulous!  This momma was so proud and gushed over it all. Morgan on the other hand was more like, “hmm.”  

Don’t get me wrong, she appreciated the hard work that went into all of this, but it’s just not her cup of tea.  She’s more of a camo-clad, gun toting, hunting, archery and skeet shooting kind of girl. Several parents came up to us after formal telling us Morgan was ready to go early because of the turkey youth hunt Saturday morning. They got a kick out of her. 

Sadly, she didn’t kill a turkey, but had a good time with her dad. These are precious times the two of them spend together and we thank God for these. 

Sunday afternoon was just as busy. Morgan’s 4-H Shooting Sports Club met and had practice. She dominated the boys in archery and did great in the skeet shooting practice, considering this was the second time she had ever shot skeet!  

Needless to say, we were one worn out family come Sunday night. Our Monday co-op was cancelled due to state testing, and since Morgan is no longer required to test, we slept in Monday and caught up on errands. Today, however, we are back to the grind. She’s busy with schoolwork now, and I’ve got a few days of laundry piled up that needs attention. Eek!

Blessing to you all, 

JoAnn

James 4:14-15

Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.”

She’s not in heels in this picture. However I am, and I’m still the short one!   

Inside the Mind of a Writer-Interview with Author DJ Miller

Interview with Indie Author, DJ Miller

Grover's Manse

I’m so excited to share my first interview here with you all. It is with indie author, DJ Miller. I’ve got a little bragging to do, too. She’s my husband’s cousin and such a sweet soul! Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and take a peek inside the mind of a writer below with a few “q and a’s.”

1. When did you get started writing and how?

I actually started writing when I was very young. I remember sitting outside in my backyard with an old manual typewriter when I was so young that I can’t remember how old I was. I typed out a short poem about the leaves in the trees blowing around in the wind; I think I still have that poem somewhere. Since then I have never stopped writing. I submitted some poems to contests in elementary school and submitted some short stories in…

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Inside the Mind of a Writer-Interview with Author DJ Miller

I’m so excited to share my first interview here with you all. It is with indie author, DJ Miller.  I’ve got a little bragging to do, too. She’s my husband’s cousin and such a sweet soul!  Grab a cup of coffee, sit back and take a peek inside the mind of a writer below with a few “q and a’s.”

1. When did you get started writing and how?

I actually started writing when I was very young. I remember sitting outside in my backyard with an old manual typewriter when I was so young that I can’t remember how old I was. I typed out a short poem about the leaves in the trees blowing around in the wind; I think I still have that poem somewhere. Since then I have never stopped writing. I submitted some poems to contests in elementary school and submitted some short stories in college. After I started working as a librarian, I discovered ghostwriting which for me meant easy-to-get, anonymous, very low paying jobs writing for magazines and blogs. It wasn’t until last year, though, that I published my first book.

2. Where do you find your ideas?

My story ideas come from all over the place. Sometimes I dream them and sometimes I hear an interesting story or idea from the news or social media, and sometimes my imagination just goes wild. If something happens to me that is especially scary, emotional, or heartwarming, I make a quick note in one of the notebooks I keep scattered around so I can use it later. Everything and everyone is fair game.

3. What genre of books are your favorite to write and why?

That is a good question. When I figure it out, I will tell you! I really enjoy writing the picture books but not being able to draw is frustrating. I had a great time writing my last chapter book for young readers but I am really enjoying the longer novel that I am working on now. If I had to choose right now, I would probably say chapter-length fiction; to narrow it down farther than that may take a little longer. Ask me again in a couple of years.

4. Tell us about your books you have published?

The first book that I published was a picture book, One More Stuffed Animal! It was inspired by my daughter who has way too many stuffed animals. It seemed like every time I turned around she got another one. I am a bit of a camera and computer geek and so I really enjoyed taking the pictures of her stuffed animals as we acted out the story. Then I was able to take the pictures and “cartoonize” them using some free software on my computer. The next book that I wrote was, Why Would God Want Me? My church was having an event and asking for items to give away as prizes so I volunteered to write a book. There was a lot of prayer involved in that book and I really and truly hope that it touched someone. The last book that I wrote was Penguins in the Basement. It has been the best-received so far and I really, really had fun writing it. It seems to be very popular with elementary school students – most of the fan mail that I have received has come from 3rd to 5th graders.

5. What made you decide to self-publish?

Well, I actually sent my first picture book to three literary agents but received either rejections or no response at all. I did some research online and found that it would have been unusual to have gotten any other response because it is rare that someone without any special connections or previous publishing experience would get picked up. It seems that the only other common reaction was to get a scam invitation from some pseudo-publishing company trying to get you to give them some money to publish your book. I just didn’t see the point of spending all of my time trying to get someone to accept my work when self-publishing was available for free. I’m really glad that I am doing it this way too because I am learning so much about publishing that I wouldn’t understand if someone else was doing it for me. Someday I would like to be picked up by a traditional publisher but when it happens, I will be ready and much more knowledgeable about the entire process.

6. Could you tell us about the process of self-publishing?

There are several companies that will help you to self-publish a book. I did a bit of research and decided that CreateSpace was the best for me because it was so user-friendly. After you complete your book (including numerous edits), you have to format it to fit the printing specifications. That takes some effort. You also have to create covers for the book, including writing a blurb for the back. Designing the cover is a big challenge for me since I don’t think of myself as being artistic in that way. I ended up using a lot of pictures that were in the public domain. If you don’t want to have to pay someone to edit and format your book, then you will have to do a lot of work.

7. How long did it take to write your first book?

That is a funny story. I actually wrote that first picture book while I was monitoring students taking the high school exit exam. It did not take me very long to write at all, maybe a couple of hours. The story just sort of poured out of my head. I wrote it on a legal pad and then typed it up later. The next two books took more time. It probably took about 3 months to do the last chapter book but I did a LOT of editing. I am estimating that it will take 6-9 months to finish the young adult novel that I will be working on soon.

8. Do you have any advice you would like to share for budding writers?

Don’t be discouraged! Keep writing no matter what people say. Make a plan so that you will stay on track. The more you write, the more you will want to write. It is addictive, so try to pace yourself. Also, befriend other writers; it is always good to rally together! On that note, you can follow my blog at http://www.djmillerbooks.com and like my fan page at http://www.facebook.com/djmillerbooks If you made it this far, thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you! Feel free to email me at dj@djmillerbooks.com and I promise to respond! 

I’d like to thank DJ for taking the time to answer these questions and let me share her answers with you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  Be sure to check her out on social media as well as her website. You will not be disappointed!

Blessings to you all,

JoAnn

Pictured below: Indie Author, DJ Miller

DJ Miller

Our Homeschool “Home” History Lesson

Being a baptist, I didn’t have a clue what a manse was. We’ve always called the preacher’s home a parsonage. The Presbyterian church, however, refers to their minister’s home as a “manse,” and as a matter of fact, I never thought I’d ever live in one, either.  Seven and half years ago, we became dwellers and owners of the former First Presbyterian Church’s manse. The real estate agent did tell us the home had been moved, but was not sure about when and where it was moved from.  Thus, began our research…and even better,  it could also serve as a history lesson for our daughter, Morgan. 

As I mentioned from my first post, my daughter and I have been investigating the history of our house or former manse.

Over the course of the last 7 1/2 years, we’ve visited our county courthouse and library digging in to the past. We’ve also got an archives building at the old county seat we’ve visited and met people who’ve been very helpful.

From these visits, or field trips, we’ve traced our house back to the year 1924. That was the year it was built, less than a block away from The First Presbyterian Church. Reverend Grover Cleveland Currie and his family were the first family to reside here. From my ancestry research, I discovered Reverend Currie came from North Carolina to here in little ol’ Northeast Arkansas. Anything historical or genealogy related is right up my alley!

Pictured below is a copy of the city’s plat in June 1929. A plat map is a map drawn to scale, marking the division of property. The manse and a small building on the property is drawn on the plat, running alongside to W. Gum Street. We are guessing the small building could be storage, or possibly an outhouse. We do have two bathrooms in our home. I’m not sure if they were in the original house plans.

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This picture below is a copy of property taxes paid on the manse in 1927. Wow! A whopping $3.60. Our property taxes now are about 300 times that amount.

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One of the men I met at the archives building happens to attend The First Presbyterian Church and was gracious enough to send this photo of our house below circa 1940’s. You probably recognize this photo from the top of my blog. I have blown the picture up to an 8×10 and framed it. It’s sitting on a table in my living room for all to see. It’s also without the garage, that would be later added after the manse was moved. If you look toward the back of the house, it looks like there is a back porch, which is now my laundry room.

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The picture below was taken last year sometime during the spring or summer, when the grass was green and the flowers were in bloom with bold and bright colors.

“Grover’s Manse” as I named it, has probably been the home to several ministers in their families over the course of at least 3 decades.  I’m still researching when the church sold the home and will share that update with you.   

Does your home have a story to tell? I bet it does! Begin your house history today. It’s a great lesson for the whole family. 

  

Blessings to all,

JoAnn

Deuteronomy 28:6
You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out.

Hodge Podge Homeschooling or Shall I Say Eclectic?

Hodge podge method, you ask?  I believe the technical term would be eclectic, but in my humble opinion, the words hodge podge rolls of the tongue with a zing.

We do use textbooks, but we never finish them all.  Gasp!  I certainly do not remember finishing a textbook in my public school career!  And we school year around!  Double gasp!  Have no fear, dear reader, I have a few tricks up my sleeve!  If my daughter finds a lesson exciting and wanting to learn more, we hit the internet and research.  Sometimes we may find a documentary to watch on tv or Netflix, go to a museum, or the local library to gather more information. The possibilities are indeed endless.

Our house history is a prime example of our hodge podge method.  Not only did she and I both learn about our home, but how to research through the archives.  This lesson was used as a lap book.  We made a booklet of our findings with my book binder and laminating machine.  Since learning about genealogy research, we have made a couple of genealogy books for family members.  If you do not own a book binder or laminator, check around your area, you may have a “make and take” educational co-op, where teachers go to make items for their classrooms.  We have one nearby for public use and the prices are very reasonable.

Visiting parks and museums can be such a fun and hands on way of learning.  We have several museums and state parks in our area we visit frequently. We are on a first name basis with at least 2 state parks.  (Oh, yeah, we visit very frequently) Also, check with your state parks to see if they offer classes.  We have been to a soap making class and a dutch oven cooking class.  One park even had a Trial by Jury Dinner Party.  We got to participate and act out a trial from the late 1880’s and had a wonderful time. Crochet, knitting, canning and preserving, tatting, and genealogy are just a few classes that are offered at the Powhatan State Park throughout the year.

There is no wrong way of homeschooling.  My daughter has learned to cook, do household chores, garden, maintain an A in Algebra II, and we have not ruined her yet.  Yes, she has learned more than that, and she’s still learning.  Everyday routines can be a learning experience.  Life is a learning experience.  We must embrace it to the fullest.

I think the greatest thing Morgan has learned is compassion (Bible study and devotionals do wear off on your kids!  Can I get an AMEN?).  She accepted Jesus into her life a couple of years ago, and tries hard to be an example to others of all ages. When she sees others in need, she does her best to fulfill those needs.  It may be taking trash to the curb for an elderly neighbor, or helping unload their groceries, making a goody basket to deliver to someone who is sick and praying for others, she shows kindness toward others.  Sometimes, she has to remind me of the following verses.

Matthew 25:35-40 “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,  I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?  And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’  And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’

So, there you have it, our Hodge Podge Method of homeschooling, um, perhaps you prefer the word eclectic?  Whatever method you choose to homeschool, you cannot go wrong.  Yes, you will have days that are just plain old stinkers.  We certainly have had them and still do on occasion.  (Must be a full moon when that happens!)  Just pray, and if something is not working, change it up a bit.  Make it fun and creative. You, too, will learn something new.  Don’t forget to pray!

Blessing to y’all!

JoAnn

Where Art Thou, Modest Formal?

Next month our Christian homeschool group will be having its annual formal. This will be Morgan’s second formal to attend.  Pictures will be taken, food will be eaten, scavenger hunts and games will be plentiful.  Morgan is raring to go! The dress search has been under way for two weeks now. Heavy sigh. 

Let me explain shopping for formal wear with my daughter for you in one word, painful. You see, my lovely daughter is a camo-clothes wearing, deer slaying, tournament archer kind of girl. A tomboy if you will.  

Another problem we face with formal dress shopping is a lack of modesty in the dresses.  The dear daughter is about 6’0″ tall and finding clothing that provides length for those legs can be a daunting task.  This year we thought we would shop online, sparing us the agony and constant complaints from her.  Morgan’s idea of shopping is going to the local archery shop for hunting and archery supplies, not frilly, girly clothes shopping. 

With her measurements taken and written down, I began my lengthy search for modest formal dresses. Whoa!  Hold up a second there!  To quote my dearly departed Maw-Maw Morgan, “Land o’ Goshen!”  Yep!  Modesty is lacking in these dresses.  Big time!  Some of the lengths of the dresses are so short, they would be the equivalent of Morgan wearing a tee shirt! Oh, and the descriptions of these “little numbers” (pun intended) are not exactly my definition of modest, either.  Here are few of those descriptions:  SEXY PARTY DRESS, SEXY DEEP V NECK DRESS, and let us not forget this one, HIGH-LOW SEXY EVENING DRESS. I’m not sure what high-low means, but by looking at that particular dress my assessment was this:  the length went way upward from the knee and way lower from the neck!  And yes, these were under the search heading MODEST FORMAL DRESSES

Maybe to some we are prudes, but my a few of my goals are to teach my daughter to be a Christian lady, to honor God, to be humble and respectful, and to have self control.  Dressing or (not dressing in some cases) to distract and create a wrong impression is not on our to do list. 

For years now, fashion has seemed to push the “less is more” envelope. It’s not for us. Thankfully, it’s not for a lot of the mothers and daughters I know. Kudos to you wonderful gals!

With less than a month before the formal, the modest dress search continues for that long-legged, tomboy girl of mine! 

1 Timothy 2:9-10 ESV

9 likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10 but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 

Blessings to you all,

JoAnn

My Random Thoughts of Spring

I do believe Spring is here. The birds have been chirping throughout the day. The sun has shone bright and the temperature was a whopping 66° today!  The grass is beginning to turn green and soon the mornings will be warm enough to sit out on the porch with a cup of hot coffee, listening to the sweet sounds from the birds. And I’m so thankful the water in the backyard is beginning to recede!

When the warmer weather arrives, we go outside for schoolwork. Morgan and I love to sit on the porch and read aloud. We like to visit some of our state parks, too, when spring arrives. The parks are both educational and gorgeous this time of year. 

With warmer and drier weather comes spraying season.  Back to the grind. Long hours of spraying for the hubs. Following him from field to field to help him for Morgan and myself. 

Spring means flower and vegetable gardens.  Bright, bold colors. Yummy veggies to eat. I’m ready, are you? What are your thoughts on Spring?

The backyard waters are receding! Hurray!



Song of Solomon 2:11-12 (ESV)

11 for behold, the winter is past;
    the rain is over and gone.
12 The flowers appear on the earth,
    the time of singing[a] has come,
and the voice of the turtledove is 
heard in our land.

Blessings to all,

JoAnn