Day 11: Reads, Series Recap, and Soup

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Happy Saturday, friends! I’m under the weather today and my brain feels a lot like my body.

So, here’s what I’m reading and a recap of the series so far. {Plus an easy Mexican soup because why not?}

We’re a third of the way through the Cool About School series. I have the rest of the days outlined and some of them roughly scrawled out but I welcome your ideas. Anything you’d really like to see me cover in the remaining twenty days?

I’m reading this book and you guys, it is so encouraging. I’m very sensitive to the “tone” of books about parenting and school. And this is a book with a tone of grace, goodwill, and hope. You won’t find self-righteousness, an air of know-it-all-ness, or exclusivity in this book. It’s simply straight-up encouragement for Christian families who choose to public school. It doesn’t try to persuade anyone that this is the way and it definitely doesn’t bash those who choose private school or homeschool.

The Prichards have spent their careers shaping the lives of young people through Young Life and community action. They also have eight children of their own. They write from experience is what I’m saying. And they’ve been proactive in helping their kids not just survive, but thrive in public school. I haven’t finished the book but so far, it’s been just the encouragement I’ve needed now that we’re three years into our own public school journey.

Going Public: Your Child Can Thrive in Public School by David and Kelly Pritchard [with Dean Merrill]


Here’s a quote from Chapter 1 that I love:

We are more convinced than ever before, after 18 years of public-school experiences with our children {and at least a dozen yet to go}, that God is bigger than the modern educational monolith. He is on the side of the children he created, and He is not nervous. He is sovereign, after all.

If Christian parents in the old Soviet Union, or in the anti-Christian nations of today, have managed to raise godly children despite the pressures of the hostile school system, we on this continent have little excuse. ‘The One who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world,’ wrote the apostle John, while living in a pagan, idol-worshiping Roman empire. [1 John 4:4]. This promise is still true in the twenty-first century.

How does God protect and nurture boys and girls in the public-school environment? What is his strategy for overcoming the difficulties they face? The main answer is this: parents. We who brought them into this world hold the keys to getting them safely through childhood and adolescence. God equips us — just ordinary moms and days — to equip and fortify our kids. In so doing, we set them up to face adulthood with strength and conviction. Starting in the very first classroom, our home, we teach them to be the influencers rather than the influenced. 

What a breath of fresh air.

There’s not a single educational path we can choose that’s easy. There’s not a single path that works well for all of us. But for families who choose to “go public” — whether by design or by default — the Pritchards’ words and life story are such good news. They don’t offer guarantees; they simply offer hope. They tell their own story and it’s a beautiful one — real, honest, and experienced.


I know it’s crazy to keep up with every single post for 31 days. {I can barely keep up myself.} So in case you’ve missed some that you’d like to go back and read, here they are.

May your weekend be one of renewal, encouragement, and hope. And if you’re under the weather like me, may it be one of Kleenex, cough drops, and satisfying soup.

By the way, here’s the one I made yesterday so that we can enjoy it all weekend and so that I won’t have to drag myself into the kitchen until Monday. It’s an EASY Mexican chicken soup — 20 minutes max. Rotisserie chicken from the deli. Any jar of salsa will do. Add the juice of one lime. And if you love soup as much as I do, here’s my Pinterest board dedicated to the glory and honor of soup.

Series recap:



Again, I heartily welcome your questions and feedback about future posts you’d like to see.

For all the posts in this 31-day series, go here. And to read the other posts I’ve written on topic of schooling, you can go here and find them all in one place.

I’m linking up with The Nester and her tribe of 31 Dayers.


Don’t want to miss a post in the series? You can subscribe and have each post delivered right to your inbox. As always, you may unsubscribe any time you like. I promise not to sell your address to pirates, aliens, spammers, or The Gap.


*book link is amazon affiliate

10 Favorite {Grace-Filled} Resources for Making Real Life Work in a New Season


So, are you sinking or swimming as you’ve begun a new season? Or maybe you’re simply treading water and calling that a win?

Because on some days, not drowning is totally a win.

Most everyone has probably started back to school and is in the process of settling into new rhythms. We’re about a month in and I’m here to tell you, the eagerness and responsibility of new beginnings has already begun to wane.

Oh, I see you didn’t clean out your lunchbox yesterday and now that half-eaten apple has churned its own applesauce that’s settled nicely into the fabric piping and begun the fermentation process. Sure, just buy the cheeseburger plate today since the lunchbox that now smells like hard cider is actually the back-up lunchbox and your new lunchbox hasn’t turned up in the lost and found. Or so you claim.

True story and it’s only Tuesday.

Why do you think I needed to write this series? Because the Vischer family {and the mom who somehow got the this senior management position with no experience} is in serious need of grace as we settle into our own new rhythms.

In case you missed the series or some of the posts, here they are all together.

Grace in the New Rhythms. Part 1. 

Part 2. What’s Your Real Motivation for Wanting to Be Awesome?

Part 3. Know Your Own Life and Walk in Freedom.

Part 4. How to Manage Your Days When You’re “Type-ADD” Instead of Type A

Part 5. 4 Reasons Why Failure is Your Friend

I also thought it would be fun and helpful to provide some resources that may bring further encouragement as we order our days, manage our families, and keep the plates spinning. Here you go:


Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem by Kevin DeYoung


I mentioned this book last year in a series I did on busy-ness and priorities. I cannot recommend it enough. And it’s so short, which means you can definitely fit it into your crazy busy life. And if you can’t? Well, you might be too busy.


Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life by Crystal Paine


I received a review copy of this book when I attended the Allume Conference last year. When January rolled around and I was feeling all resolution-ish, I read the book from cover to cover in a day. I’m wary of “systems” and one-size-fits-all ways of doing life. But this book isn’t that at all. It’s straightforward inspiration and real-life hacks about doing life on purpose. For me, I finished the book feeling inspired and empowered rather than discouraged and guilty. Love it when that happens.


And for those of you who homeschool, The Type B Homeschool Planner: The Planner for the Rest of Us by Sarah Mae.


Can I get an “Amen” for the title of this book? Where was this planner when I homeschooled?

There’s no shortage of “how-to-run-your-homeschool-like-a-boss” products geared toward well-meaning parents. And they are fine and good if you are naturally wired with military DNA. I am not. And I always felt like a failure when I tried to do school the way someone else did school and it didn’t work for me. I haven’t actually purchased or used Sarah Mae’s Type B planner. I simply love the title and the concept. I’d totally buy it if I was still homeschooling.


A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman


I’m sort of cheating by throwing this one in the mix because it’s not about organization or new rhythms. BUT…the Kindle version is only $1.99 right now! I’d be a fool to not let you know about it because it’s one of the favorite books on my bookshelf.

And it is actually a perfect book to read right now as we’re knee-deep in the routines of laundry and dinner, carpool and work. This book challenges the notion that only the painters and the poets are the real artists, that only the creatives can offer beauty into the world. The truth is, we’re all artists. We all have something lovely and unique to offer the world whether we’re folding the clothes or stirring the soup or teaching the students. Just writing these words makes me want to pick it up and read it again. {You can read my review of it here.}


And finally, this book that inspired an entire post which gets at our real motivations for wanting to be awesome and then hating ourselves when we come up short. The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy by Timothy Keller.


It will take you 30-45 minutes to read. And then you’ll pick it up and read it again and again because it’s that important.


How to Make a Meal Plan That Will Save Your Life and Make You Pretty.


Kendra is hi-larious and an actual baker and I think this very real-life, you-be-you approach to meal planning is just perfect. Plus it makes you pretty so there’s that.

And then there’s this post I wrote about how I do groceries and meals. I am not an actual baker but it’s also very real-life and you-be-you. It works for us. And Shannan Martin told me she does groceries and meals almost the same way so there you go. I’ll count that as an unofficial testimonial.

meal plan


And if you’d like to follow my “What’s for Dinner?” or “Soup” pinboards, here you go.

Follow Marian’s board What’s for Dinner on Pinterest.

Follow Marian’s board Soup on Pinterest.

Most of the meals are things that I’d actually make and that my kids would hopefully eat, not to be confused with the stuff I would like to make in a perfect world with a limitless food budget for Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and the organic farmer’s market and kids who will eat quinoa and sushi.



“The Calendar.” We’re now on our second school-year with this $5 gem of a lifesaver. It’s the only thing on the front of our fridge. Ours is from Staples in the Martha Stewart section. I write our meals for the week along the bottom and just that simple act makes me feel like I’ve got a plan.

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I found this one on amazon and I kind of like it better since it has more room. It’s half-price right now and $9.99. Seeing just one week at a time is helpful for me and I feel less overwhelmed than when I’ve tried a “month at a glance.” Seriously, how do you “glance” at a month. A month is 30 whole days. Call me a wimp but a month needs full fledged digestion. Like, sit down and study all of those many days with a cup of coffee. A week is glance-able.



This series from last year here on the blog. It’s a series about time, margin, and opportunity cost.

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And finally, I loved this post by The Nester on rhythms and routines and why knowing the difference is important.



I hope that maybe just one of these posts or books will provide help and encouragement in this new season. As always, I heartily welcome your ideas and resources that help your stay on track. Or at least adjacent to the track.

And now, a Seasonal Blessing:

May your fall bring fresh perspective. May your rhythms remain steady and grace-filled. And may your lunch-boxes not smell like beer.



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Treat Yourself: Goodies for your Weekend {6.21.14 edition}

ice cream treat w text

Hello Summer readers. I hope these lazier days find you poolside {even if it’s just a kiddie pool in your driveway} and with something fizzy and cold in your hand. I hope you have a stack of books and magazines at your disposal and the relief of nap-time if there are little ones in your house.

Here are a few goodies for your weekend.


We had some long-time friends stop by this week for a visit on their way to the beach. They brought these cookies with them to share. My friend left the giant tupperware filled with the leftover cookies at our house. They were gone in a day. I’m still grieving the loss. These cookies are AMAZING even if you’re not a huge s’mores fan.


{I’m not sure what recipe my friend used but this one looks like it.}


This podcast on The Art of Simple that’s all about the Enneagram.

I love the Enneagram. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a personality test like no other and it’s been around for centuries. It was sort of life-changing for me when I went through it about five years ago. Tsh’s podcast with Leigh Kramer is a great primer if you’ve never heard of the Enneagram and you’re curious.


I added a new widget to the blog that’s all about books. “Widget” is computery language for ad or gadget or cute little something on one’s website.

It’s a “On My Bookshelf” widget over there on the right. {If you’re reading this on a phone or in a reader, my apologies — you won’t see it.} Books are one of my favorite things to dish about. And I’ve always got a pile of them on my nightstand. And in my van. And crammed into my purse. And on my end tables. And on my iPhone’s Kindle app.

Anyway, I love to know what people are reading and people seem to ask me what I’m reading so I thought I’d make it simple and just put my current books in the sidebar. Plus amazon has this nifty little widget to make it simple. By the way, I’ve kept booklists all the way back to 2009 so if your’e curious, just click on the booklists tab at the top of the blog. Or click here if you don’t want to scroll up.

Full disclosure: book links are amazon affiliate links. That means that if you click the links and make a purchase, I get a teensy commission. But I’d link to books and dish about them for free. In fact, I did that for years until someone said, “Why don’t you use affiliate links?” I had no clue what she was talking about. Currently I earn a whopping $14 every three months from my amazon links. What can I tell you, I’ve always have a knack for choosing high-income professions — history professor, homeschool mom, writer who earns 15 cents a day from amazon.


My husband was scrolling through The Wall Street Journal yesterday morning when he started laughing and said, “I found the perfect thing for you. It’s called ‘The Privacy Pod.'” A Japanese father of two young boys invented this tiny retreat so that a parent could find a silent place to restore his or her sanity.

privacy pod

This man is a genius. Except I would totally call it “The Escape Pod.” Actually I’d call it “The Escape Pod for Rich People” because it costs $7,000. Or maybe “The Escape Pod for Rich People Who Are Not Claustrophobic.”


So on that note, I give you this photo of my dog taking refuge under my bed. {Gah! I’m now one of those people.}

jetta under bed

It’s an appropriate photo of our first real week of summer because Jetta is the World’s Most Extroverted Dog but even she is so overwhelmed by all children all the time doing all the loud things transition into summer that she’s hiding under my bed in an effort to get her wits about her.

That pretty much sums up my week. A lot of kids. A lot of noise. A lot of wondering if there’s room for two under my bed.

I forget that it’s like this every summer as we all adjust to being home together. But it’s also been awesome as we’ve enjoyed the gifts we love so much about summertime — sleep, books, watching movies, eating lunch whenever we want, finishing Book 6 of Harry Potter together, playing with friends in the neighborhood, and heading out to the lake to swim and picnic and soak up the sun.


And speaking of summer and all the kids, I plan to post about once a week this summer — some soulful posts as well as some light posts {like this one.}

This much-needed break called summer vacation is about a slower pace, spontaneity, travel, and togetherness. I’m still writing and planning and pursuing the writerly life but it’s nice to not have the pressure to publish here every few days and to realign my priorities while my kids are at home.

Enjoy your weekend. Enjoy these summer days. Enjoy s’mores cookies. And by all means, enjoy a siesta under the bed if that’s what you need to do. You know I won’t judge.

How are you and yours faring this summer? What are your favorite summer treats?

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