Cover image of Simply Convivial: Pep Talks for Homemakers & Homeschoolers

Simply Convivial: Pep Talks for Homemakers & Homeschoolers

Short focus sessions for busy Christian moms who want to manage their homes & lives for the glory of God – and enjoy it, too! Organize your attitude, get stuff done, and love God.

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Secrets about Schedules

Does the word schedule make you break out in hives? Do you picture yourself harried and deflated at the end of a day on a schedule? Maybe for you, like me, that’s a vivid memory, not a theoretical picture.There’s a lot of visceral reaction against schedules in the homeschool world, and I totally get why. I mean, can I schedule diaper blowouts and my doorbell ringing and the toddler pulling an open bag of powdered sugar onto herself? Where does that go in the schedule?


27 Jul 2017

Rank #1

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Thoughts on Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins

If you are starting out homeschooling with a bright-eyed little 5-year-old – a toddler tagging along and another on the way – you eat up the stories of those ahead of you on the journey.When I was in that spot 8 years ago, I had my mom who had homeschooled 7. I also had other local older moms who let me browse their bookshelves and ask them questions. And then on my computer screen, I had Cindy Rollins, whose ninth child at the time was in elementary school, only a couple years ahead of my oldest. She was about to graduate her oldest, and she was funny and smart and real.


2 May 2018

Rank #2

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Handling Plans with Flexibility (with Celeste Cruz)

Mystie – There’s a spread of abilities and also needs. How do the expectations that we have as moms going into that situation affect how we do it, what we do, and our sanity as we do it. So, how would you say that your expectations have maybe changed or when you go into a school year.Celeste – Since I’ve always had little kids while I’m schooling, usually a toddler and a baby, pretty much every year since I started homeschooling,.. I have a certain curriculum, a certain amount of work that I’d like to get done with my big kids but I have to be flexible in terms of where and how we fit in those things, and I have to be willing to think outside of the box in terms of our school day…Mystie – When there’s so many interruptions and you have to get up and take care of the baby, there are just a lot of things all going on at once, and you’re trying to decide do I do [this] or [this]. How do you keep track of what you should be doing or what you need to get back to when the interruption calms down?Celeste – I think of my day really in terms of blocks. At the beginning of each year I set out a schedule for myself where I have time slots and that is not actually something that we’re going to live by, that’s me making sure I’m not over-scheduling myself, that technically these things could potentially fit in this order on a given day that might or might not actually occur…


15 Feb 2018

Rank #3

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Virtue Is the Goal of Classical Education

Although the idea of classical homeschooling can be intimidating and appear unreachable, it is far more down-to-earth than we might think. This task is not too lofty for us, homeschooling moms with households to run; in fact, our very lifestyles are an asset, not a hindrance.If you’ve ever thought you needed to focus more on character than your curriculum checklist, you might be more classical than you think.


2 Mar 2017

Rank #4

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What novels taught me about cleaning house

Housework seemed like a stupid waste of time.And I hated wastes of time and stupidity, so I triply hated housework.I was torn between wanting to be a good, competent homemaker and thinking that the state of my bedroom or the kitchen just wasn’t a big deal. I could get meals on the table, keep things stocked, and complete a project just fine. But the day-in day-out routine tasks were a drag.I’m not going to say that I love those routines now or that I totally rock them, because I don’t. But I am learning to love them.And it all started back then, when my third born was just a baby, and I was reading novels.


24 Oct 2016

Rank #5

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What Is Classical Education?

A label is a tricky thing. Just when you decide to take on an adjective as an identity, you find people including shades of meaning that you don’t personally want to own. For this reason, it’s common now to eschew labels altogether and call them useless and misleading. However, I think we should be comfortable generalizing and allowing ourselves to be generalized.


23 Feb 2017

Rank #6

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Thoughts on Jayber Crow and Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry

Somehow, Berry makes you feel affection for all mankind, even those who aren’t likable and maybe even those who are wicked but especially for those who are foolish — which is each one of us.“Membership” with one another is the underlying thread in them both, and these novels have given that word much more depth and richness than I had ever seen in it.


6 Jun 2018

Rank #7

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The Simple Life

Often when we plan out our goals, we think in year-long chunks of time, either personal goals in January or academic goals in August. If you’ve ever done this, perhaps you’ve noticed that it’s really difficult to keep those goals. But now I’ve found an way to avoid this cycle, to keep motivated, and to have goals while remaining flexible.


5 Sep 2016

Rank #8

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Plan a Homeschool Day

What, out of everything in the plan, is essential to make our homeschool day count?Because more often than not, at least at my house, the entire plan doesn’t get checked off. So what does need to happen, without fail? Here’s my version.


10 Aug 2017

Rank #9

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Convivial Means Keeping in Fellowship

Keeping short accounts leaves no room for resentment, no room for bitterness. It also means that even in the midst of argument, I am more careful in how I express myself, or where I let myself go — better to not sin in the first place than have to ask for forgiveness and make it whole and right again. It also means I can express myself openly and honestly and have confidence that we are both striving to reach unity and oneness, and in the ways we fail on our way there, restoration will be sought.


18 May 2017

Rank #10

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5 Homeschooling Tips for Extroverts

Isn’t homeschooling a sure way to drive an extrovert mom out of her mind?It depends on the homeschool and on the mom.As an extrovert homeschool mom you can set up your schedule and methods to take advantage of your strengths and fully come alive in your role.Here are five ways to do just that.


9 Feb 2017

Rank #11

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How to Get Information Into Evernote

Q: "When you scan things to Evernote, is this time consuming? Do you scan it to a PDF file and attach the file? I’d be very curious as to what this process looks like for you. I tried with a manual the other day and it seemed to take forever, and I had to try several different ways to get it to work."A: It’s fast and easy, I promise!


7 Aug 2017

Rank #12

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Thoughts on Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung & Shopping for Time by Carolyn Mahaney

“Cross to carry” is a phrase used to talk about suffering as a lot in life, but this portrayal of that cross, that suffering, as an active things in our life struck me. I have always pictured “cross to carry” as a passive sort of thing. But difficulty as a purposeful, active thing in our life, rather than a weight holding us down, is a much more biblical picture.


8 May 2018

Rank #13

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Personality & Learning Styles

Those of us educating young children tend to use the vocabulary of learning styles, though current research seems to be showing that most of the learning styles rhetoric is bunk.


12 Jan 2017

Rank #14

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Gratitude Makes You Productive

Why do we do what we do?Sometimes, an end result can look the same even when the motivations behind the action are opposite.


22 May 2017

Rank #15

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Make a home: it's your job

Homemaking is not about personal style. It's about making a home where people want to be and where people can learn and grow. This replay of the Making Home workshop will remind you of the true calling of homemaker.


21 Dec 2019

Rank #16

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How We Organize Homeschool Stuff (with Virginia Lee)

Mystie: That’s fun. So this season, season 8 of the Simply Convivial podcast is going to be about organizing homeschool stuff. So I thought we’d just have a brief conversation about how stuff gets organized in our homes. I think it’s easy when you say “organized” to start thinking of the magazines or the Pinterest where organized means everything looks really pretty and looking pretty is nice especially if you’re a personality who’s good at that but I’m not. Really, being organized is about having a home for things and knowing where things go. So everything has a place so that then you can put it away because it has a place. So we’re going to talk about some of the ways that we give stuff homes in our homeschools. Virginia Lee, what kind of homes do you have in your homeschool?Virginia Lee: Well, I guess one of my biggest things is that I’m not a big stuff person so if I have the stuff in my house it has to have a home and if I can’t find a home for it, it probably means I don’t need it. So I guess that’s one of the biggest ways I look at stuff. In fact my kids give me a hard time, “Don’t throw this away, we’re going to put this here so mom can’t throw it away!” But the other big thing of what I think of when I’m going to organize stuff is I need it to be practical. I’m not very good, like you said, I’m not one of those personalities where everything is pretty and maybe always pleasing to the eye but with the way our crew works is that it needs to be practical, it needs to be sturdy, and it needs to be in places where we can actually use it.Mystie: Right. I think that’s key. Because we have a basement so I could reserve a shelf in the basement and put things away on the shelf downstairs where they’d be out of the way but if they’re too much out of the way I’ll end up not actually using them.Virginia Lee: Yes, we are the same way. We do school in all different locations in our home and so we don’t use a schoolroom, that doesn’t really work well for our crew. So, for instance, we do Morning Time in our living room and I have a bookshelf in our living room and one of the shelves in that bookshelf is reserved for all of our Morning Time books and that shelf is placed right where I sit to do Morning Time normally and then our piano is in our living room as well and the piano bench has a … you can lift the top up … and so that’s where we store all of our Morning Time binders. So that works really well for us. They’re out of the way where little hands could reach them or mess them up but they’re very accessible and it’s something that we already had that we could use, I didn’t have to go buy something else, which I always love that, rather save the money to books. And then for some of our other stuff (we live in a tri-level) so we definitely have different things on each level of our home. So we have one of our levels has those shelves from Ikea that are sort of more like cubbies.


17 Oct 2017

Rank #17

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Brain Dump Tips (with Virginia Lee)

So, I like to say that all organization projects should begin with a brain dump. So, I thought that the best place to start would be to talk briefly about what a brain dump is and then we can start talking about tips and hacks and troubleshooting and what works for us and that sort of thing. A brain dump is basically sitting down with a pen and paper and just writing down everything that’s in your head, either everything everything or just everything about a particular problem or a project, maybe, that’s driving you crazy. So, when you get it down and onto paper it really clears your head of the details and lets you look at what’s going on more objectively, it gives you a little perspective. David Allen, author of GTD (Getting Things Done) says that when you use paper to hold the information and the details then your mind is free for creative thinking and problem solving. So, it’s kind of like decluttering your brain.Virginia Lee: Which we could all use.Mystie: Especially with Christmas over and the New Year, it’s time to declutter.Virginia Lee: Most definitely. Well, I have a question for you about that.Mystie: OK.Virginia Lee: Do you have any brain dump tips about doing it on paper or can it be done in an electronic version or way? I’ve always been curious about that.Mystie: I’ve done it both ways. It’s kind of depended on what I’m brain dumping about because sometimes I just need to make a list. If my mind is really working fast I can type faster than I can write so then I’ll just open up something in Evernote and just start typing. I think it really depends on the person and the way you think and process. If I’m going to be writing sentences at all then I probably want to be typing because I’ll write better sentences, I’ll think through what I’m thinking about better if I’m typing, fingers move faster, but if I am not sure of the idea, like I’m trying to figure something out and brainstorm, maybe I want this thing over here and then I want to put something over here and make it a little more visual then writing it down is the better way to sort those ideas. And then, also, there’s just sometimes I’ve just had a notebook on the counter with a pen so that just here and there I can add a little bit.Virginia Lee: That makes sense because on paper you can do things like draw arrows and circle things and sometimes, that definitely if I’m doing a brain dump, helps me to have something circled or this drawn over there, just because I’m visually seeing that I’m moving it that direction.Mystie: Well, at least I know if I’m doing a brain dump into Evernote I know where it is, which is not always true if I started on the back of an envelope.Virginia Lee: That is true. I think one of the biggest times I do brain dump is in the middle of the night. Sometimes when I lie down to go to sleep my mind is just going fifty miles an hour so I find that I, a lot of the time, do a brain dump, and then I lay back down. That’s definitely one of my biggest brain dump tips.Mystie: Does it help you get to sleep?Virginia Lee: It does, because I’m not trying to remember anything or flush out an idea because I don’t want it to go away. So, I feel like, OK, I’ve put that all on this pad by my bed or I’ve started using the Notes app in my phone because my husband’s sleeping and probably doesn’t need me turning on a light in order to do a brain dump.Mystie: I think that’s the real power of brain dumping: it just puts it somewhere where your mind isn’t worried or stressed out about keeping something. It’s safe, it’s right here, it’s outside of my mind.


8 Jan 2018

Rank #18

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Homeschooling Without a Schoolroom

We homeschool without a schoolroom. Like many homeschoolers, the kitchen table is where much of our work happens. We use our kitchen table, we use our dining room table, we use our couch, and we make due with the space we have.I could write up a great-sounding post about why we don’t have a school room on principle. Something about school blending in with real life and not being contained in a separate box.But the truth is that I’d rather have a playroom than a schoolroom, a place for the toddlers and preschoolers to freely set up a block city complete with railroad tracks, a place for the air hockey table we inherited, a place for the computers that are used both for work and for play. And our house layout doesn’t have the space for both a playroom and a schoolroom.


31 Oct 2017

Rank #19

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Thoughts on Consider This by Karen Glass

As I’ve written before, the goal of education is virtue, and Karen’s first chapter jumps right into the heart of it. She proves that virtue – right acting – needs to be the end we are pursuing when we educate children (and also ourselves), and demonstrates this is the classical notion about what education is for.


30 May 2018

Rank #20