August 2018 Memory Work and a Free Printable

Did the month of July just fly by for anybody else, or was only that way for me? We were almost as busy in July as in June, even without traveling. It just dawned on me yesterday as we finished up our school work that I needed to get new memory work plans typed up for August! And I have great news! This month I am including a free printable for you to download and use in your home.

So here they are, just in time for those of you who need a little inspiration for the start of a new school year. We’ve been back at it for a few weeks now, and you can click here to see our memory work from July. My kids enjoyed having the extra song in there, so I decided to keep up with having 2 folksongs again this month. (Their favorite part of our recitation time last month was marching around the living room singing “Over the Hills and Far Away” at the top of their lungs!)

August Memory Work

Hymn: My Faith Looks Up to Thee

Catechism: Questions 34 and 35 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: “We read the Bible and pray to God every day with an open heart.” (from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson)

Scripture: Matthew 13:24-30, The Parable of the Weeds

Poetry: Little Talk by Aileen Fisher

Folksongs: The Green Grass Grew All Around and Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah

Free Printable Plans!

I’ve converted these memory work plans into free printable PDFs for you to download! The landscape format is such that you can print a copy and cut or fold the pages in half to put in a small 3 ring binder, like these. I slide them into page protectors so they don’t get as messed up by small hands. The portrait format is made for regular sized binders, or you can probably figure out a way to print them 2 pages to a sheet to make a booklet. (But don’t ask me how. I always seem to mess that up when I try it!)

If you are starting a new school year this month, I hope you have a great kick-off! I would also love to hear from you if you are using these memory work plans in your home. Let me know in the comments below!


Why I Write, or What I Learned on my Blogging Break

When I took the month of June off from the blog, it wasn’t intentional. Life got really busy, and I was exhausted in the evenings when I usually would write. I was also feeling uninspired and rather unmotivated. So during that month away, I started thinking about why I started this blog and why I even take the time to write in the first place. Here is what I learned by asking myself those questions:

1. Organizing my thoughts…

When I write, I can sort out my thoughts, ideas and feelings better. Writing gives me a chance to order my ideas in a more logical way. As an INFP on the Myers-Briggs and a Type 4 on the enneagram, I constantly have an ENORMOUS amount of thoughts and feelings swirling around inside that need a constructive outlet. Writing about things I am thinking about or feeling is therapeutic for me because I can get some of those pent up ideas out of my head and in black and white.

2. Learning and growing…

Blogging also encourages me to learn more about the topics in which I am interested so that I can better share about it with you. I write to learn, because when I process what I am reading about through the written word, it helps me retain and synthesize that knowledge. And when I share ideas or lessons I am learning with you, I have a certain level of accountability to take action and move forward.

3. Encouraging others…

I write to share my story and let people know they are not the only ones with doubts, fears, heartaches and tears. Maybe, just maybe, there is someone else out there who feels and thinks and wonders some of the same things I do. My hope is that what I write will help or encourage someone in similar circumstances or wrestling with similar challenges. I want my blog to be uplifting and beneficial to you, my friends and readers, whoever and wherever you may be.

4. Building community…

Along those same lines, one of my goals for this website has always been to build community. In this online, social-media driven world, it is increasingly hard to find local friends who are willing to take the time to spend doing life with each other. Because our family is more apt to move frequently due to changes in ministry callings, the mobility of the online world makes it easier to get in touch and stay connected with people across the miles. And I know that it is hard to find like-minded people when moving to a new place. Although I have been blessed to find a lot of women in my area who share similar interests and values, I know that is not the case for everyone. So sharing a bit of our lives online allows us to make contact and find our tribe, no matter the physical distance.

5. Made to create…

I am made in the image of the Creator, and therefore, I am creative. As Jonathan Rogers so aptly put it in his most recent newsletter:

Exercising your creativity makes you more fully human. If that sounds too touchy-feely, let me put it this way: Creativity is one of the most important ways that you engage reality. We make things more beautiful than they have to be because the world is more beautiful than it has to be.

I love the written and spoken word, so this is a type of creativity that naturally flows from me. I am painfully aware, however, that my skills as a writer are weak. So I write to flex that creative muscle, to hone my skill, so become better at creating so that I bring more glory to my own Creator.

I DON’T write because…

Perhaps the biggest takeaway I had from my blogging break was actually the one thing that is not and cannot and will be my motivation for writing. It is this: I DON’T write to make money. I am not aiming to have posts go viral on Facebook or be the most popular pins on Pinterest or anything like that.
Yes, I would love for my readers to support the cost of running this blog by using my affiliate links. But I am not going to write on topics that I don’t honestly care about just because I think that will make my blog more popular. I’m not going to focus on monetizing this site.
Know that if I do post links to other blogger’s products it is because I really, truly think they are helpful resources that I want my friends to know about. It’s not because I am out to get your money. My friend Crystal has said it time and time again that if you are in the blogging business just to make money, you will burn out hard and fast. I believe it!

From the heart…

So, I am letting you know from here on out, I am going to write from the heart. I will write about things that pique my interest, things that are hard for me, things that I think will be helpful to you….whatever topics align with my vision and goals for this space and my writing life. I hope you will connect with me here in the comments and on Facebook or Instagram so we can build community around these ideas of uplifting and coming alongside one another through the written word!

The Reading Report, Vol. 13: Summer Reading Edition

summer reading

Wow, I can hardly believe it has been over a year since I started “The Reading Report” as a regular installment each month. I have so enjoyed keeping track of my reading and discussing books here on the blog. I hope you have found a few new titles to interest you, as well! For this July edition, I am going to share a quick recap of my summer reading so far, plus, what is up next on my list.

My summer reading time has been pretty high due to long drives to family and my new habit of walking in the driveway and reading at the same time. Since I have collected a rather long list of finished books from the past month and a half, I’m not going to try your patience with long descriptions of what I thought of each book. Instead, I will just tell you how much I liked or disliked it, and a few words that sum up the book or my feelings about it. All the Kids’ Read Alouds are books we loved and highly recommend, so I won’t bother with further comments on those. Here we go…

Finished books:

Persuasion by Jane Austen: Loved it (of course), Jane Austen (enough said!)
The Code of the Woosters by P. G. Wodehouse: Liked it, British humor
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society by Shaffer and Barrows: Loved it, Post WWII but light and fun
Utopia by Thomas More: Disliked it, Important book but heavy on the socialism
The Wreath by Sigrid Undset: Liked it, Excellent writing but sad story
The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams: Liked it, Another sad story but excellent play
One Beautiful Dream by Jennifer Fulwiler: Loved it, Truly funny with an important message

Kids’ Read Alouds:
The Cricket in Times Square by George Seldon
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Silver Chair by C. S. Lewis
Poppy by Avi

Currently Reading:

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins: This is one of my Back to the Classics reads. It is kind of long, and so far the story is a bit slow moving, but there are several interesting characters and a mystery being set up. I think I will enjoy it more and more as I go.

What Should I Read Next?

Since I just finished the two main books I was focussing on reading last night, I haven’t really had time to choose what to really dig into next. I have several unfinished non-fiction books that I really would like to work on, but I don’t know which one most piques my interest right now. For fiction, I am trying to decide between Watership Down and All the Pretty Horses since I acquired both at recent library sales.

Now, how about you? Are you doing a lot of summer reading, either for enjoyment or pre-reading for homeschool? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Memory Work Plans for July 2018

Back in March I shared our memory work plans for our homeschool morning recitation time, and I had really intended to make that a regular monthly post. Somehow, though, the next couple of months sneaked up on me, and those posts never happened. I decided to try and pick back up now that we are about to start a new school term. I know many homeschoolers who also start back up in mid-summer, so perhaps it will help some of you out as try and wrap up your planning during a holiday week!

July Memory Work

Hymn: Great Is Thy Faithfulness

Catechism: Questions 32 and 33 of the New City Catechism (shorter version)

Motto: “We love and obey our Lord Jesus Christ with wholehearted devotion” (from Our 24 Family Ways by Clay Clarkson)

Scripture: Psalm 27:1-2, Psalm 28:7

Poetry: Over the Hills and Far Away by Eugene Field

Folksongs: My Country, ‘Tis of Thee and Over the Hills and Far Away

I decided to add an extra song into our recitation time this term. I have so many songs that I still want to introduce to my children while they are young, and I just don’t remember to do that unless it is part of our school day.

I chose most of these selections back in the winter before we began our new school year. If I had it to do over again, I might try harder to choose more patriotic themed memory work to go with the Independence Day holiday. Maybe next year I will remember to do that if I know we are going to be schooling in July. But at least I had a general outline planned to save myself the time and energy during break! I hope this little outline of our July memory work helps you as you plan for your own homeschool recitation time.


Catching Up with Life: July 2018 Update

Well, hello there, friends! And happy July to you all! Since it has been a while since I posted, I think it is high time for a little update here. In case you didn’t notice, I took a break from the blog for the entire month of June. I didn’t originally intend to take a month off from writing, but once June was underway, I quickly realized that I needed some time away from blogging. So what have I been doing all this time? Let’s see…

School Planning…

The last week in May was also the last week of our spring term of homeschooling. Since we school year-round, I like to make time for break of about 6 weeks in the summer and 6 more weeks for Thanksgiving through Christmas. During this summer break I have been tweaking our school schedule and planning our July memory work, etc. This is our last week of summer break, and I still have a few details to get nailed down, but most of the big tasks are complete. I plan to write another post tomorrow with all the July memory work information for those of you who might be interested!

Swimming Lessons…

Both my kids have a bit of an aversion to the water, so one of my big priorities this summer is getting them both more acclimated to it. I put them both in a great swim class at our local YMCA, and even though it cost a small fortune, I am glad we did it. They both have improved tremendously and worked through some of their fears. It was exhausting for this homebody momma to truck the kids to swimming 4 days in a row for 2 weeks, though! I think next time we  will try doing 1-2 day a week lessons instead, but this time it just worked better for our schedule.


We live pretty far from family, the closest being my husband’s parents about 6 hours from us. As a result, summer vacation almost always means traveling to see relatives. At the beginning of June we made the long drive from Middle Tennessee to the Black Hills of South Dakota to visit my parents, my brother and his wife, and my grandmother. It was a long trip, but the kids were good travelers overall, and we had a good time with my family.

This past weekend we hopped back in the car again for a shorter trip to northern Ohio. There we attended a family reunion for some of my husband’s side of the family. We got to see his parents, grandparents and siblings, along with a whole passel of more distant relatives we hadn’t seen in many years. We also had a chance to meet up with my husband’s college roommate, Pete, and his family, which was a rare treat.


Um, as much as I would love to say that June was a chance to rest between school terms, it really has not been at all restful. We have gotten important work done and made connections with people we love, though. July promises less travel and a chance to get back into a normal routine with the commencement of our summer homeschool term. Even though we haven’t gotten much resting done, sometimes “a change is as good as a rest.”

Just Living Life…

Of course, in the midst of all the extras, we are still playing outside, enjoying nature with friends, reading lots of good books, listening to podcasts and music, taking long walks and cooking meals together. We also had a HUGE answer to our prayers when we finally sold our house in Illinois. After having it on the market for nearly 13 months, this has been an immense weight lifted from our shoulders. We are now debt-free, and we have more financial freedom that we have had for at least 2 years. God is so GOOD!

Now I want to hear back from you! What have you been up to this summer, friend? I would love for you to tell me in the comments below or link to a blog post about your own summer activities this year. I promise to be much more present here at Tuning Hearts this month, and I hope to see you around, too!