Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem
by Kevin DeYoung
Reviewed by Karen D. Koch

I have spent most of my life striving to complete an impossibly long self-created to-do list that never seems to shrink. When I take some free time, I often do things on my back-burner list instead of resting my mind and spirit. Unfortunately, this is causing some mid-life mental and physical exhaustion.It is probably why I always get teary-eyed when I hear the lyrics to In Christ Alone: “where strivings cease.”

I am speaking to you homeschool moms out there as well as myself. I hope you don’t feel this way. If so, take this as a cautionary tale. However, you may feel just like I do most days, waking up and starting morning prayers with “Good morning, God. Help! I don’t think I can manage all that needs to be done, take everyone where they need to go, and manage school and life as well.”

Spiritual Focus
At just a tidy 118 pages, Crazy Busy packs a lot into a small space, and I am grateful it was mercifully short. I ran across it on while helping my son hunt down a used college textbook. Fortunately, my library had a copy that I immediately searched out and read. A lot of self-help books are out there to help us manage our lives, but I needed one with a spiritual center. Quite frankly, that is where the true problems and solutions lie, and the author directly addresses that.

For the past few years I have been pondering personal boundaries and leaving enough margin in my life for general life sanity. Most of us homeschoolers probably give some thought to these topics as well, when we’re not too frantically busy. I have four children. I homeschool. I work part-time. I volunteer. I feel somewhat desperately in need of this book. I usually marvel at those of you with more children, or who have always-clean houses, know what’s for dinner, and have everyone’s transcripts up to date. But reading this book helped me get a clearer picture of the real goal.

Not a Quick Fix
This is not a homeschooling book. The author doesn’t discuss that, but it doesn’t matter because I believe what he has to say is quite transferrable to all our lives. The author is a pastor, author, father to five, and a busy guy who doesn’t want to be so busy. DeYoung tackles the spiritual elements behind all our busyness and shares his struggles rather than admonishing from an ivory tower. He’s funny and honest. He doesn’t provide a quick fix, but enumerates seven short diagnoses to help us see where the problem of busyness has crept into our lives. I prefer being personally convicted, not shamed into changing my behavior. This book did that well and motivated me to re-think some of my priorities rather than feeling guilty about wanting to reduce the amount of stuff in my world.

Busyness does not mean you are faithful or a fruitful Christian. It only means you are busy like everyone else. And like everyone else, your joy, your heart, and your soul are in danger. We need the Word of God to set us free. We need biblical wisdom to set us straight. What we need is the Great Physician to heal our overscheduled souls. If only we could make time for an appointment. (page 32).

Stop Freaking Out
Chapter 6 has a particularly amusing title: “A Cruel Kindergarchy—You Need to Stop Freaking Out about Your Kids.” That made me laugh because as a homeschooling parent, I carry what sometimes feels like an extraordinarily heavy load of responsibility for our kids. What if they fail? I can’t blame the public school then. It will all be on me! Or something like that. DeYoung reminds us that God made our children and has plans for them, completely aside from our hopes, dreams, and to-do lists for them. This influenced me want to pray more for my children and what God will do with them outside of my influence. A few final words from DeYoung say it better than I could:

Maybe our hearts are too busy with fear and worry. Maybe we are overanxious. Maybe we are overcommitted. Maybe we are over-parenting. And maybe we are making our lives crazier than they need to be. While we can’t avoid being busy with our children—indeed it’s a biblical command (Titus 2:5)—with a good dose of prayer, a shot of biblical reflection,
and a little common sense, we can avoid freaking out about them quite so much.” (Page 75)

Crossway Books 2013
AmazonKindle $8.49 Paperback $10.79 Audio CD $10.64 carries this title.
Check your library as well.

The Sir Cumference Math Adventure Series
by Cindy Neuschwander

Reviewed by Karen D. Koch

Growing up, I wasn’t a big fan of math, probably because it did not come as easily to me as reading and writing. Somewhere along the line, I grew to have a negative association with math, particularly when I reached calculus and did not understand it. Fortunately, my ill-will toward math has changed over time, and I’ve revisited a lot of math with my kids through homeschooling. With that said, any product that helps to make math accessible and fun, (especially for young ages), is a plus for me.

While teaching a math manipulatives class at homeschool co-op with a room of 15 mostly busy boys age 5-7, I hunted down some math-related picture books. I started each session reading these aloud, and then did some simple activities related to the text. I have since used The Sir Cumference Math Adventure series that I read aloud in class with my youngest. I am pleased with the math terminology he has learned painlessly. He read the word “parallel” the other day and remembered the story with a Pair of Lels dragons, that stood side by side to create a drawbridge, for example.

These picture books introduce different math concepts visually through each story. Most of the stories center around an imaginary medieval family: Sir Cumference, his wife, Lady Di of Ameter, and their son Radius.  Each book tackles a specific math concept or two. You can use these just to introduce concepts or delve into them further with older children.If you have children interested in reading and literature, you’ll appreciate how math terms are woven into the text. I would have loved these when I was a kid.

Charlesbridge Math Adventures Series (rated for 3rd to 7th grade, although I used with a younger audience):
Sir Cumference and the Dragon of Pi (concept of pi)
Sir Cumference and the Great Knight of Angleland (right, acute, obtuse angles)
Sir Cumference and all the King’s Tens (place value)
Sir Cumference and the Sword in the Cone (vertex, edges, geometry)
Sir Cumference and the Viking’s Map (X & Y coordinates)
Sir Cumference and the First Round Table (shapes, diameter, radius)
Sir Cumference and the Off-the-Charts Desserts (pie charts and bar graphs)
Sir Cumference and the Isle of Immeter (perimeter, area)

Available at and othersPrices range from $6-$8 each paperback.
My library carried all these titles.