Friday, July 20, 2012

Why Homeschool Conventions are Important!

Have I mentioned I love homeschooling? And I love homeschool conventions!!  If I had my way, I would spend all of my spare time at homeschool conventions around the country. Spare time! HA! That is funny, I actually don't have any spare time, do you? But I so enjoy fellowshipping with fellow homeschoolers!

This year I had the pleasure of attending both of our local conventions. I was able to meet up with friends from my homeschool group, meet up with friends that I have met on previous years while working the Growing Healthy Homes booth, as well as, meet up with vendors/friends that I have reviewed products for or have been able to get to know over the course of our homeschool journey! WHAT FUN!   Here is a photo of me and Heidi St. John, The Busy Homeschool Mom! I had not realized she was going to be at our convention, and was THRILLED when I walked by her booth on the way to mine! She was only a few 'doors' down from us!

At this last convention, I was able to hear the morning Keynote speaker both days, and what a blessing that was to me! The first day we heard Voddie Baucham speak on the Culture Wars. That was very good. Bringing it back to God! It was a great way to start the day, spending time around God's Word, before getting into the busyness of the day!  And then the second day we heard Jessica Hulcy! That was such a treat. I have learned so much from her during my homeschool journey. I was so thankful to be able to spend a few minutes with her at her booth... I forgot my camera!  I just LOVE HER!   My children LOVE KONOS!  She spoke to us about why we stand for homeschooling! What a wonderful reminder for all of us! Makes me think of Gal. 6:9 And Let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. 

I was so blessed by just those two talks, and when you couple that with being around like minded people, discussing homeschooling for the entire weekend, there simply is no better way to spend a weekend!

Why are homeschool convention important? It is not simply because you can get great discounts in the vendor hall, and you can!  The real reason is, you need to have your tanks filled. All school year long you are giving to your children, to your entire family. You are wife, mom and teacher. When you attend a homeschool convention, you walk away, inspired, renewed and equipped to handle the year ahead. You will remember why you are homeschooling. You will reminded to focus on Christ, not your circumstances. To lean on Him, always, and He will guide you, sustain you, and nourish your soul! You will be equipped with practical hands on tools that will help through the day!  And yes, you will find excellent discounts in the vendor hall! Did I mention.. you will have the opportunity to meet some of your favorite homeschool people?

Were you able to attend your local homeschool convention? If not, I urge you, to find out the dates of your local convention next year and start saving and make plans to attend. Your family will not be sorry!  Even if you must travel to get to your nearest convention, it will be worth the effort and worth your journey!

Happy Homeschooling!!!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Life on Fast Forward

My blog has become very quiet, as my life, as become more busy! I have meant to sit down and blog for sometime now, but simply have not had the time. I know, it's summer, right? You would think it would be slowing down, but it hasn't quite yet for us!

Our family has been running double time  since about mid May!  You see, two of our sons graduated from High School this year. Our first set of High School Graduates!  And in Mid May our church held it's Annual Spring Banquet. This is what our church does every year for the high school students in our youth group as an alternative to prom. They all head down to the Disneyland Hotel, and have dinner, make memories and honor the graduating class. This year we had two... and two other high schoolers.. the whole family headed down to mark this occasion and I am so glad that we did!

Then just a few short weeks after that was one of the Great Homeschool Conventions here in Southern California. I had the privilege of working the booth and speaking on behalf of Growing Healthy Homes.  I just love homeschool conventions! Well I should actually say, I just love homeschoolers, so I love homeschool conventions. Thousands of families who have the same mind set on education! Oh, I could spend every day chatting with families!  It was also great fun meeting up with friends that I have made online, as well as, vendors that I have had the privilege of reviewing their products. And it was equally exciting to see members of our local homeschool group at the convention! (I am looking forward to another convention in a few weeks from now!)

Just one week after the homeschool convention we had our Homeschool Graduation! We celebrated the graduation of both the 8th graduates and 12th grade graduates. It was such a lovely time.  I am always challenged and encouraged by the words and scriptures that parents share with their children to either stay faithful during their final years of school, or, as it is in my case, as we launch them off into the world.

Things are beginning to slow down around our home.. well a little bit.  One of our high school graduates is currently working to help pay for his college bill next year.  Three of our children are off at Teen Camp with church this week.  And in a few short weeks, following the next homeschool convention, one of my sons is heading off to the Philippines on a church misions trip.

As we work each and everyday, I find comfort in this verse..
Luke 19:13, "...Occupy till is come."

We are busy occupying until He returns. And as we do, we give God all the glory! I am so thankful for the grace of God, that has allowed me to to teach my children for the last 12 years! We have 5 more years to go! I am thankful for God's enabling!  I know that if it weren't for God, our family would not be where we are today! He is faithful!

Praying for you and your family, praying for God's grace and God's enabling as you strive to live for Him, and to raise your family to bring glory to God!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

The Genesis Code

Recently I had the opportunity to review a movie called 'The Genesis Code".
As a conservative Christian who believes in a young earth. I am a Creation apologist, and as such, I was excited to see that a movie was going to use science to prove the Genesis story, which I have already seen demonstrated in the past.

However, as I watched the movie, that is not what I found. This movie tried to use physics and the theory of time dilation to prove that both the view of young earth and an old earth can coexist based on your perspective... ie.. God's perspective or ours.

And that in the end, both were correct. While I am not a scientist, and I cannot go into all the reasons why I disagree with this, the one thing I know for sure, is that I disagree with what this movie is promoting, and therefore, I simply cannot endorse this film.

If you would like to read a more educated view and opinion of this movie, I looked up to see if the fine folks of Answers in Genesis had anything to say on the film, and fortunately they did. You can check out their thoughts here.

Cowgirls N' Angels

If you are looking for a film for the entire family, then look no further. Cowgirls N' Angels is a film that your entire family will enjoy, whether you have boys or girls, this will be a film that will keep their interest! And even mom and dad will enjoy this family friendly film! 

There are even some faces you will recognize in this film, such as, James Cromwell, Bailee Madison, Alicia Witt and Jackson Rathbone!  

Here is how the producers describe the movie....

Cowgirl's N' Angels is a heartwarming movie that tells the story of Ida, a feisty and rebellious young girls, who has dreams of finding her father, a rodeo rider.  While searching for her dad, she connects with the Sweethearts of the Rodeo, a team of  young female rodeo riders run by former rodeo star Terence Parker.  Recognizing Ida's innate talent for trick riding, Terence recruits for her their ranks.  Accepted wholeheartedly by her new 'family', Ida finds a new passion that redefines her life, and may also help her find the father she's been searching for. 

What is the Creative Learners take?

This film has got a great story line, full of adventure, mystery and a rip roarin' good time! And all this with a great message.. and nothing that you have to shield your children's eyes from!  My 12 year old daughter thought it was wonderful!  She loved watching the horses, and the girls as they do tricks on the horses! She thought the movies was "Exciting!" and Fun!"

You will find yourself, laughing and cheering, and it you don't watch yourself. even crying.. just a wee bit! 

Check out Cowgirls N' Angels on Facebook  and you can catch the trailer below! 
Cowgirls N' Angels is in theaters now! 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Special Mothers: Omnipresent God

As a mothers of special needs children, I believe that we have come to realize that we depend on God every single day of our lives. For most of us, we rarely fall into the pattern of feeling self sufficient. Understanding that we wholly need Him to sustain us!

We also have the wonderful gift of seeing God in our children, both the children with special needs and our children without special needs. We see Him in their struggles and in their triumphs.

Our daily life requires a close walk with the Lord, for we are not able to carry the burden alone. If you are a Special Mother with a Special Children, check out my post today on CWAHM, called Special Mother's: Omnipresent God. 

A Plus TutorSoft - Pre Algebra - A Review

As you know, math is not a favorite subject around here. For me or my children. The main reason for that, is that I did not excel in math as a student, therefore I often struggle with feeling inadequate to teach them. My kids struggle with some of the same issues I did as a child as well.  When you add those together, it makes  a very difficult combination.

Because of both of these factors, I have been put on a journey to find math curriculum or products that will help me help my children. Today we are going to take a look at the program A Plus TutorSoft.

We have been using their CD program. (They also have books, and online programs) I have been very pleased with this program. It is complete, affordable and versatile.  When you purchase the CD program,  you are purchasing a complete math curriculum, with parental tracking, lesson plans, the math text, mutli-media lessons and interactive Q & A's, worksheets and exams (both with solutions guide) and progress reports!

What is the Creative Learners take on A Plus Tutor Soft?

We were using their Pre-Algebra Program with my daughter. She is a very reluctant learner, however, we were able to have her sit down and use this program.

The first few times we used the program, I sat down next to her. I did this for two purposes. One, for the purpose of review. I wanted to be able to see first hand how the program worked and how she worked with the program. Also, I wanted to be available in case she needed help or direction.  And then after a few lessons, I left her on her own to see how she would do, using this program independently.

We sat down together and started with the mutlimedia lessons. While we were sitting together she did very well. There were a few times that I needed to help reiterate something that was said, in order for her to understand. However, she would then be able to understand and proceed to the Interactive Q & A that would give her immediate feedback on whether she retained what she had just learned. She was able then to either go on or go back and relearn what we had just covered.  I found that when she used the program on her own, she needed to go back and revisit the information more than when I sat with her. However, I do not feel like that is due to any program failures. My daughter has a short attention span, and is easily distracted.  And without me sitting there, she was not always able to stay focused. However, this is typical of all of her studies.

However, with A Plus Tutor Soft, it was able to keep her interested, because it was interactive. She liked that the text was read to her. That helped her to listen and learn. I should also mention here that she has dyslexia, so we love the fact that the text is read to her! (The full curriculum book is also available on the CD. Your child can also read that on their own)  We also loved the fact that when she was stuck, she could listen to the text again, and in the end she would understand what was being taught. She also really enjoyed the Interactive Q & A. The Q&A section proved to be motivating for her to get through her work! That is a huge plus!

I have been very happy with A Plus Tutor Soft.  Another bonus to this program, is that you are able to use each level with more than one student. So if you have several kids in your family,  you will only need to purchase each level with your children.

You can currently purchase A Plus Tutor Soft starting at $79.99.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Passionate Parenting

Have you had a chance to visit CWAHM this week? My latest post is up and running!
This weeks article is called "Passionate Parenting".

I am sharing some of the key points from a teen parenting class we took at our church. I absolutely loved this class. Even now, I sit and go over the notes, reread the bible verse that were shared and spend time in prayer examining my parenting and asking the Lord to guide me each and every step of the way!

Whether you are in the middle of raising teens, or even have teens that are about to set out on their own, or if you have only wee ones under foot, the principles are relevant!

Head over to CWAHM and check out Passionate Parenting!  You can also find a list of all of my articles (3 to date) by visiting here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The 5 Love Languages of Children - Review and Giveaway!

Have you ever wondered why you are not connecting with your child. You are spending time with them, taking them places, and telling them that you love them every day.. and yet, something  just seems to be a little off.

Then this handy book, The 5 Love languages of Children by Gary Chapman and Ross Campbell is the book for you!  You might be familiar with the original 5 Love Languages book, this edition of the 5 Love Languages helps parents to know how to translate those love languages into their relationship with their children.

When I first picked up this book, I was not sure if it was going to be a book that would apply to me or not. The title left me feeling like it was going to simply be about the parent/(young) child relationship.  This is not the case. Throughout the book, your are given examples of how each Love language applies to the various developmental stages, all the way up to teenagers!  This was a real blessing to me. I knew that I would get quite a lot out of the book simply, because of the content. I am very thankful, however, that I did not need to modify what I was learning to fit teenagers! The authors thought of that, and covered all age groups!

The first part of this book, focuses on explaining to you the Love Languages and how you as the parent can learn how to discern, perhaps, behavior patterns that you are seeing and what they mean.

However, for me the most useful part of the book, was the back 1/3 of the book, where the book looked at "Discipline and the Love Languages, Learning and the Love Languages, Anger and Love, Speaking the Love Languages in Single Parent Families/Marriage and finally the "What Might Still be Ahead" and "More Help for Parents" sections.  Once you have read the first 2/3'rds of the book, you will have full understanding of the 5 Love Languages. The back portion of the book, serves as  'where the rubber meets the road', giving you some real practical help!

When you visit the 5 Love Languages website, you will see that they have a FREE Study Guide to go along with this wonderful book!

No matter the age of your children, no matter the circumstances in your home, I recommend that you pick up  this book! It will help to knit your heart to your child's  heart, which will ultimately grow them closer to the Lord.

If you have small children, you are going to want to check out my review for The Perfect Pet for Peyton, where the 5 Love Languages are introduced to children. You can also follow Gary Chapman on Twitter, and Facebook.

I am excited to announce that I have been given the opportunity to give one (1) copy of The Five Love Languages of Children away. Please take a moment to enter to giveaway below!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Homeschooling: A Journey Worth Taking!

I will be graduating my first set of high school graduates this June. With that comes many trips down memory lane!  Here is a little something, that expresses my true sentiments...

Homeschooling.. it really is A Journey Worth Taking!!!

Happy Homeschooling my friends.. enjoy every minute... it goes by way too fast!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

FREE Missions Trip To Italy!!!

How does that sound?  Well,  you could have a chance to win just that, by visiting Homeschool Mosaics. We are hosting our first monthly giveaway at Homeschool Mosaics, and we have a WHOPPER of a prize! Landry Academy is sponsoring this amazing giveaway.

 I suggest, that you stop reading this post and hop on over to Homeschool Mosaics now.. to learn more about all that is included with this prize. I will tell you that it is a 12 day trip!! Now go and enter for your chance to WIN!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Wordless Wednesdays - Youth Conference

Today was the beginning of the most anticipated of the school year, to date, for my kids! 

Praying for them.... can't wait to see what the Lord has in store for them..

This is a photo from day one.. 2300 teenagers all excited and having a great time listening to God's Word! 

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Homeschool Mom's Multiple Personalities

There is a new website that has taken the Homeschool Community by storm! it is Homeschool Mosaics!  Have you had a chance to check it out yet?  We had our official launch on April 2nd. We opened up with a rip, roaring good time at our Facebook Party! 

The site opened up with a month's worth of articles all about homeschooling! We have gathered 25 pretty awesome homeschool mom's, who each tackle homeschooling from a different perspective! I am honored and humbled to be a part of this amazing group of ladies! 
So, what is my column?  Yep, you guessed it, The Homeschool Mom's Multiple Personalities!  Are you a homeschool mom who struggles to balance all that is on your plate? Well, then this column is for you! 

I must admit, today was one of those days, that I really could tell that I had a lot on my plate. I was really thankful that this week, the kids were on spring break.. which allowed me to focus on some of my other work!  

Join me over at Homeschool Mosaics, as we look at the many roles Homeschool Mom's Play! Who are you today? 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Homeschooling - Nurturing the Entrepreneur

One of the awesome aspects of homeschooling, is that fact that our children can come up with their own home businesses.  As we see their passion grow in particular areas, we can help them turn their passion into an entrepreneurial adventure. 

Carol Topp has some wonderful books that are geared for the teenager who is interested in starting a business. You can find them here

My boys have come up with their own business,  it is a business is of making videos. I have put a few here in this post, along with further links at the bottom of the page. 

These videos are great for graduation videos, party favors, advertising and much more! 

This one is from their Summer Birthday Bash!

This one was made for my business. 

Here is a video that they made for a fundraiser - Every Right to a Beautiful Life - Team Miranda Sarah

This one is about our local homeschool group - C.H.E.A.V.  A Family of Homeschoolers

You can visit their Facebook Page and send them a message if you are interested in pricing. 
Not on facebook? You can leave a comment below and I will pass it along to them. 

What I love about their business, is it is fun, and it matches their personalities! What are you children creating? Can they turn that into a home business? 

Friday, April 6, 2012

Finding Your Way!

My column on CWAHM posted today! Have you had a chance to check it out.

This edition of my bi-weekly column is talking about Homeschooling Special Needs Kids.

Are you homeschooling a special needs student?  While homeschooling in of itself is challenging, add in special needs, and you have a very rocky road.  I hope that by sharing some of the lessons I have learned after homeschooling my special needs children for the last 12 years, you will find some practical tips and encouragement.

Check out my post on CWAHM and learn more about Homeschooling your Special Needs child.

If you have specific questions you would like me to address on my CHWAM column, post them here!

Monday, April 2, 2012

5, 4, 3, 2, 1.....Lift Off!!!

I cannot tell you the excitement I feel right now about our new website Homeschool Mosaics. Today is launch day, the website is officially up and running! Tonight is the HUGE Launch Party with over 60 sponsors hosting giveaways, just for you!!!

Homeschool Mosaics, is a place for you to find a new article everyday of the month to encourage you in your homeschool journey. We have assembled 25 ladies to share about homeschooling, from their unique perspective.  You will find homeschool how to's, you will find encouragement, you will learn about homeschooling methods, budget homeschooling and much much more!

Visit the site today, and you will find a month's worth of amazing articles, just waiting for you to read! And then visit the site each and everyday to find the encouragement you need as you travel down this journey called Homeschooling!

Don't forget to join us for the Launch Party Tonight! We are going to have a 'Blast'  and can't wait to share it with you!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

GrapeVine Studies - The Resurrection

GrapeVine Studies have become my favorite bible study curriculum resource.
Recently our family had the opportunity to use The Resurrection bible study from GrapeVine Studies. And once again, we were not disappointed.

Before I get into this particular study, I would like to talk to you a little bit about the premise of GrapeVine Studies, and their bible studies. You can read about the first time I used GrapeVine Studies in my first review for them.

One of my favorite aspects of the GrapeVine Studies is that it makes studying the bible interactive. My family is a hands on kind of family, so this is a big deal for us. But even if your family does not need to be hands on, what I have come to learn is that everyone learns better, when we use different modalities to help concrete what we are learning.

GrapeVine Studies first takes a look at the big picture, giving your student a road map of where they will be going in the study before them. Then the big picture is broken up into the little details of the stories.You and your student will be able to spend time discussing, stick figuring, and for your older students they will be looking up terms in a bible dictionary or concordance. This is one of the aspects that I really love about these studies. You have the ability to teach all of your children, no matter their age at the same time. It is a wonderful study for the entire family. My high school students can do this study with added research and assignments, along with my  middle school student. And I must tell you.. they all still enjoy to draw!

 This study covers the events from the last supper to the ascension of Jesus Christ.  The lessons include The Last Supper, The Six Trials of Jesus Christ, The Cruxifiction, Jesus' Death and Burial, The Resurrection and The Ascension. It is a wonderful resource for your family to use with Resurrection Sunday coming up. This wonderful resource would be such a helpful resource to help your family have a deeper understanding of the sacrifice our Savior made for us.

In addition to a wonderful homeschool curriculum, these studies would be a wonderful resource for a family devotion materials.

These bible studies are very affordable (prices start at $8.95), and high quality. The Resurrection bible study is available in Beginner, which is for ages 5-7 and Multi-Level 7 and up.  I also would like to reiterate, that while the Multi-Level is for ages 7 and up, you really can use these studies for all ages. If you have a large family, this is a wonderful option for you, and allows you to teach all of your children at the same time. Also, if you have teenagers, that seem to not connect during bible studies, these bible studies will really help them to bring them into the study in a way that I have seen no other study have the ability to.

You can visit GrapeVine Studies for FREE Sample Lessons!

A Perfect Pet for Peyton

The wonderfully imaginative children's hardcover book by bestselling authors Gary Chapman and Rick Osborne, featuring four - color illustrations (with hidden details) by Wilson Williams, Jr., will help children learn the importance of love.  Based on Gary's highly successful book The 5 Love Languages, The Perfect Pet for Peyton tells a playful an entertaining story of 5 children who each, with the help of Mr. Chapman and the unique pets at his special emporium, discover their own personal love language.  Children and parents alike will experience firsthand the power of the love languages as they cuddle as they spend precious time together reading this book over and over again. 

The Creative Learners Take:

We love it!  My children are a little old for this book, however, my 12 year old and I did sit down with this book together, and read this story together. We enjoyed this sweet story. 

We follow a set of twins on their birthday, as they head off to their birthday party at the Perfect Pet Pal Emporium with their friends, where each of them, will not only have a fabulous time at the party, additionally, they will each go home with their perfect pet pal! 

As they spend their time at the emporium, the children interact with each other, and with the animals. Towards the end of the party, Mr. Chapman, explained to the children how each of us have a love language that we prefer. As Mr. Chapman worked with each of the children, he showed us, and the children what their preferred love language is, and match them with the perfect pet pal. 

Peyton, was unsure if there was a perfect pet pal for him, in the end, he was so pleased to find that there was! 

In addition, the book is beautifully illustrated! Throughout the book the children are encouraged to find hidden pictures, which really adds a fun and interactive element to the book. At the very back of the book, there is a Love Language Quiz that will help you child discover what their own Love Language! 

You can learn more about A Perfect Pet for Peyton at their website and more about all the Love Languages products by visiting here

You can even follow Gary Chapman on Facebook and Twitter. 

A Perfect Pet for Peyton is available at several booksellers, visit the  5 Love Languages website for a list of retailers. 

Now here is some really exciting news

I have one (1) copy of A Perfect Pet for Peyton to giveaway! Enter today! 

Friday, March 23, 2012

CWAHM - My First Post

My first post on (Christian Working at Home Mom) posted today!
I will be posting every other Friday, with alternating topics.

This weeks topic is on having a Christ centered home and homeschool. Each post will share practical tips on how you can keep Christ the center of your home and your life.

On the alternating weeks I will be looking at Special Needs Home Education. I have educated several children with varying degrees of learning issues. My hope is that this column will share practical tools, as well as, some inspiration for the journey.

Won't you stop by and check out my first post?

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Homeschool Mosaics #Homeschool Encouragement

I am very excited to announce a brand new website designed with homeschoolers in mind!

Not just one type of homeschooler, but homeschoolers from ALL walks of life, using all methods of teaching and teaching all types of learners!

Homeschool Mosaics, which officially launches on April 2nd, will have many feature writers from all walks of homeschool life.

Each day that you visit Homeschool Mosaics you will find encouragement and support for your homeschool journey!

The group of women assembled is astounding, and the wealth of knowledge is amazing! I can't wait for you all to see what Homeschool Mosaics has to offer.

For now, please stop by the Homeschool Mosaics Facebook page, and like our page. Share with your friends about Homeschool Mosaics, you are not going to want to miss out on one single article!

PS... when you stop by our page and 'like' us, leave a comment! Let us know how you heard about us! If you have a blog.. go ahead and share that blog too! I will be sure to follow you all in return!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Slow Cooker Beef Fajita's Quick and Easy!

Recently I shared with you all that I have been trying to get back into the the swing of things after being sick..and while still recovering. Which is taking a lot longer than I would like!

So, one of my strategies has been to utilize either my slow cooker or my roaster oven (this is what I use for my turkey on Thanksgiving).  The great thing about the roaster, is it is a speed cooker ( I know grammatically that sounds awful!) It will cook things quickly, yet they come out tender and juicy like they have been in the slow cooker.

Recently we made up some 'beef fajitas' in the roaster. This recipe was actually meant to for the slow cooker, but I tweaked it for my roaster.

This is a great recipe, because it uses only 5 ingredients, not including salt and pepper, and it can be prepared in about 5- 10 minutes.. and the kids can do most of the work.. Helpful whether you are balancing a busy schedule.. or not feeling well..  This is a meal everyone will love!

4 pounds beef ( stew meat or steaks)
1 green Pepper
1 medium brown onion
1 clove garlic
2 jars favorite salsa
salt and pepper to taste

Feeds 7 hungry people ( with 4 teenagers in that mix!)

If you are using the slow cooker, you will need to sear the meat for a minute on each side, before placing in slow cooker.  However, if you are using the roaster, you can turn on the roaster and let it get hot.  Then when you add the meat it will sear in the roaster..

Slowcooker -
Add the meat
Chop onion and green pepper and add
use garlic press or smash the garlic then add..
dump salsa.. you may use a tad less than 2 jars in the slow cooker.
Cook for 6-8 hours.  (high)

Roaster Oven-
chop onion and pepper and garlic add to roaster
add meat  and sear...
add salsa.. both jars.. stir
Cook for 2 hours (high)

Serve  with tortilla's and fajita fixings of choice. We also included a salad.

One time we put the meat of tortilla chips and made some homemade guacamole! It was a great twist to a favorite!


Saturday, March 10, 2012

Finding a New Normal

As my body continues to recover and gain energy and strength, I am now looking to find a new normal. I am yearning to find a new way to look at my schedule, and how I spend my time. Really looking at my opportunities and trying to decide what I am able to do, and what I simply cannot.

I am learning that at this point my energy is precious. And it is not a never ending supply. Prior to now, I have to admit, I said yes to many things! All good things. All things I wanted to do. However, the result of that many times, is that I have far too much on my plate, and do not have nearly the time needed to get the rest needed to keep up with the schedule I was trying to keep.

Now, I am much choosier when it comes to my schedule. I really do not like missing out, but my body enjoys getting the rest it needs. It is helping that I feel like I really know my limits now. I am a bit amazed that prior to going to the hospital, my schedule never slowed down. The children did not miss a single event, and neither did I. But I paid the price for that! Do NOT follow in those footsteps!

So now, since I am working diligently, on controlling my schedule, it is allowing more time to be at home, and dealing with all that needs to be done there (here). While I still do not have my full energy back, each day I am getting a wee bit better, and doing a wee bit more.

For now, I am doing my best to limit myself to one outside activity a day... only have failed on that a couple of times. And I will admit, that my body paid for it.

I am also learning to rethink how things are done. The kids are helping me even more with cooking.  They are pretty self sufficient for breakfast and lunch. But we have started doing lots of Crock pot meals. And I have been on the hunt for more recipes, that way the family does not tire of soups and stews.. I have found a few good resources for that.

I also have just purchased some new curriculum. Our curriculum this year, I had acquired for free, and we were making do, however, it really was not our favorite, and it was taking some work. However, I am praying these new books will help the kids become even more self sufficient.

This will help me to focus on the area of needs for the kids, rather than over spending my energy, where they really don't need my input.

I do not anticipate this being long term, as in having to deal with this over the next many years, however, I believe that it may take me a couple of months to get back to normal. So each of these little steps have begun to help me gain my strength.

I have a lot of respect for the mom's and dad's out there, who in spite of chronic illness, are faithful to their job of home educating their children!

God is faithful, through all circumstances. Galatians 6:9 says "And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." 

I am thankful for the faithfulness of God!  During this time, I am wholly relying on God to guide where and what I should be doing and for Him to fully sustain me. God is good! All of the time! 

The Woodcarver DVD: Review and Giveaway

Today was a good day. This afternoon, we sat down and watched a new DVD that we just received, The Woodcarver.  This afternoon, reminded me of the Saturday Afternoon Movies that I used to watch on TV when I was growing up. The only difference, instead of an old classic, this was a Christ Honoring family movie! What a treat!

I will admit it, I love movies! The hard part about that, is that as a Christian, so much of what is available is smut. So, I must tell you that I am so very thankful that more and more movies are being made that are family oriented and Christ honoring. 

So, let me tell you about The Woodcarver. The Woodcarver, chronicles the life of the Stevenson Family. Matthew Stevenson is a trouble teenager, who chose to vandalize the local church in order to get back at his parents who are in the middle of going through a divorce.  The church was willing to work with Matthew and his family, and agreed to not press charges as long Matthew works to repair the church.

While working on the church, Matthew met the woodcarver, Ernest, (John Ratzenberger), who originally created the intricate woodwork around the church.  Ernest, decided to take Matthew under his wing.  He began to talk to Matthew and share with him, about the woodcarving trade he loved, but had put aside because he had recently lost his wife, and simply lost his desire to carve.

Matthew really took to Ernest, because Ernest was taking the time to hear Matthew, and to get to know Matthew. Something that he has been missing in his own family, while is parents were to busy arguing with each other, to really see the needs their son had.

Because of the time that Ernest took with Matthew, Ernest was able to share some of his wisdom with Matthew.  He encouraged Matthew to think of Jesus, and consider what Jesus would do in each situation, before he made his own decision on how he was going to handle it.

Ernest, also encouraged Matthew, to pray about his parents marriage.. and to not discount the power of prayer. As you watch God work through Ernest, and Matthew, and eventually through Matthew's parents, it is convicting.  Are you taking your needs to the Lord? Are you praying for His help, for His intervention? Or are you thinking your own way is better than God's.

This is a great movie for the entire family. Not only is it entertaining, but there is also a lesson to be learned! Those are the best kinds of movies!

Here is the great news!!!  I have one copy of The Woodcarver DVD to offer as a giveaway.  I hope that you will take a moment to enter the giveaway!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Ministering to Hearts and Souls - Three Hearts DVD - Review and Giveaway

Samaritan's Purse Children's Heart Project works with top quality hospitals to provide heart surgery to children who live in countries where the medical expertise and medical equipment are not available. Currently, CHP has arranged 800 life saving operations. You can learn more about Children's Heart Project by visiting their website.

Recently, I was able to review the movie/documentary Three Hearts, that followed Cissie Graham Lynch, grand daughter of evangelist Billy Graham as she interns for Children's Heart Project. 

Her job; to oversee the arrival and surgeries of 3 children, who are suffering from fatal heart defect from Mongolia. Two teenage boys and sweet young girl. When Cissie is unable to fly to Mongolia, CHP turns to a Texas family, whose little boy had the very surgery that these children need, when he was a baby.  Now, this young boy, has raised $8000 for the Children's Heart Project, to bring these families to America. Now he and his parents are able to fly to Mongolia, meet these families, and travel back with the children and their mothers back to the United States. 

While in Mongolia, we are able to see the conditions in which these children are from, as well as meet their families, and learn a bit about them. 

Once they arrive in the US, two different families house these 3 families. The host families are their to support these families as they navigate this uncharted journey. They are plugged in to a local church, where all the families worship together, and the families from Mongolia are  introduced to the saving love of Jesus Christ. 

The surgery day arrives, the families gather at the hospital and pray for the children and the doctors. One thing is clear. As you watch this film, you see that this entire project is centered around our Lord Jesus Christ. His love being poured out both for the physical needs of these children, while also feeding their souls. 

We watch the children go into surgery, and through out the surgery we see the complications and ultimately we see the children bright faces, as they have begin to recover from surgery and begin to live a life free of the complications from their previous condition! 

Not only did these children receive the gift of healthy heart, we also were witness to each of the mothers, and the two teenage boys come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. The sheer joy that carried these families through their darkest hours in the hospital, through their triumphant release from the hospital.. and ultimately their journey home to their families. 

Not only were the earthly lives of these children radically changed, the address of the eternal home has permanently been changed, and we were able to share in their journey. 

The ultimate goal of CHP is just that, it is to affect both the physical and the spiritual well being of all they reach. 
It is truly remarkable to see Jesus Christ's love displayed! 

Take a moment to view these movie trailers...

Three Hearts will touch your heart, I am sure! No matter your age.. however, if you are a homeschool family, and you have a child interested in Mission Work, or if you would like to inspire your family and show them how they could impact the world around them, by sharing the love of Jesus Christ. This movie will help you do just that! 

This would be a great movie for a church Youth Group or Homeschool Group. 

You  can purchase this awesome movie, by visiting here. 

To learn more about Samaritan's Purse Children's Heart Project, please visit their site!

"Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services 
mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I 
only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: 
"Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Facing Mortality

I am raising teenagers, and I remember when I was a teenager, that I thought I was immortal. Okay, not really. But we (my friends and I) really did not think that anything bad would ever happen to us. And you know what.. it didn't. We were blessed, and we all grew up unscathed.

As a mom, I see my children follow in those same foot steps. They really do not believe that anything bad can happen to them. Sure, we have seen some pretty tragic things happen within our own extended family and friends.  We even have health trials within our own family unit. My oldest son battles epilepsy and has his entire life. And 3 of my other children also battled epilepsy as small children. So, really no one in our family has any business taking anything for granted, and feeling like they are 'immortal'.

As Christians, we are taught that we ought to live life expectantly. Expecting the return of our Savior, expecting our everlasting eternal home in heaven. And I believe that I do, and when thinking about eternity, I am not afraid to die. I know where my future holds for me. With that said, I do not want to die.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a very scary experience.  I was not feeling well, and hadn't been feeling well for some time, and it was reaching a crisis point. So, I headed over to the Urgent Care. When they laid eyes on me, they knew I was sick. And they were right. It turns out that I was very anemic. I KNEW that I was anemic. I was taking iron daily, trying to build up my iron. However, what I did not know, is that my iron level was dangerously low. It was a 3.3, the normal range is 12-16.

It was explained to me that I was going to need a blood transfusion, actually 4.  My body only had 25% of my blood volume left in my body. The doctor explained to me that if I was a man, that I would have been dead. And I was very close to being found dead myself. Talk about an eye opener.

Thankfully, aside from my anemia, I am a pretty healthy person. And while I was in the hospital, the staff, were questioning me about pain, and my ability to stand and walk.  I had no pain, I was able to stand and walk. They tested my heart, and my heart was fine and I attribute that to the fact that overall I am healthy. For that I praise the Lord.

With that said, it was a very scary time. I know that the Lord has not given us a spirit of fear. However, when you realize, that you were very close, to not having that life that the Lord has blessed you with. That it could have been gone in a moment. It really does begin to put your life into perspective.

What reminders have I learned? You know when my father died (at a too young of age) and my cousin passed away at 34 years old, I realized that you must cherish every single moment of life. But like most things in life, as time goes by... it has been ten years... you begin to allow life's busyness to cloud your perspective.

I have been given a reminder front and center. What if  I was not here to teach my children, to finish raising them, guiding them, and then to  watch them as they set forth on the path that God has for them. Now, I know that our days our numbered.  However, I am thankful that my number is not up. I am thankful that the Lord has given me more days. I don't know how many more days I am going to have. Whether it will be few or many, but what I do know, is that I am going to live everyday glorifying and honoring my Lord and Savior. I am going to live my life not taking my children or my family for granted. I am not going to live my life taking my ministry for granted. My ministry to my family and friends and those around me.

If my circumstances had gone differently, if I had  not survived, I would hope and pray, that my family would find peace, in the knowledge that I have a relationship with our Savior Jesus Christ. Do know Jesus Christ as your Savior?

I encourage you to learn more about the free gift of Salvation that Jesus Christ has provided for you.
Visit here and download this small ebook DONE, by Cary Schmidt. It is a very easy read, and will help you understand what Jesus has done for you, and that He loves YOU!

Trust in Jesus, and love your family everyday. When your number is up, there are no do overs!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The Mighty Macs - Now Available on DVD!!!! Win Your Copy Today!!!!

Back in October I was able to review the movie Mighty Macs, prior to it's Big Screen release... and I can tell you that I absolutely loved the film and so did my daughters!! You can read that review here! When I had the opportunity to review the DVD of Mighty Macs I was thrilled, because I wanted to watch the movie with my entire family, including my husband and my 3 teenage sons!

One Saturday night, we sat down with the entire family, including my mom, and watched The Mighty Macs! And once again, I was thoroughly pleased with this film. And so was my family!!!  The movie is based on the true story of 1970's  ladies basketball Coach Cathy Rush, from Imaculata College!  Imaculata College had virtually no budget and no support for their basketball program, yet Cathy Rush, gave her heart to this team of girls and led them to places they hadn't even dreamed of going!

You get a glimpse of a group of women, who, in the midst of diversity, learn how to rise above it, and believed in themselves, to work together for a common goal!  The movie was was dramatic, funny and exciting all in one!  I also loved that we had the ability to watch this and did not have to shield the children's eye's, divert their attention or mute, one single time, throughout the entire movie!  It really is a movie that can be watched the entire family! Boys, girls, men, women, no matter their age!

Let's make a point to support movies like this!! Let's show the movie industry, that there is a large market for uplifting , inspiring and wholesome films!

Here is the great news!  Creative Learners has a copy of The Mighty Macs available for a giveaway. Take a moment to enter in the contest! Good Luck!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Hay Bale Gardening

So, I love gardening. I have not had a lot of time.. and most recently I have not had the energy to devote to it. I am praying that I will have plenty of energy this year to devote to my garden.. with the help of my able bodied family!

We battle crab grass and golphers.. and then in our front yard our soil is root ridden and it is very difficult for the new bushes that we have planted to take hold and take root, without the other roots choking them out.

So this year, we are going to attempt something different... we are going to do Hay Bale Gardening. Have you heard of it? Have you tried it?

Here are some photos I have collected.. 

We were going to attempt to build many tables to garden in... however, I think this is less labor intensive, the cost is more affordable.. and I feel like it is very doable..


My hopes, are that as I start our projects I will come here and share what we are doing. With photos and descriptions! And also share some of the awesome tutorial sites I have found on how to prep and start your hay bale garden!  To get you started here is a site that is devoted to Hay bale Gardening!

I would like to have veggies in my backyard.. and in my front yard, I would like to have some sort of green shrubbery that would cascade down the front of the hay bale, and some taller flowers behind it..

I will keep you all posted on how we are doing..

What does your garden look like? What have you tried that has totally flopped.. and what has worked beyond your wildest expectation?

Please share here!!!!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Apologia: Who Am I? - A Product Review

If you have been homeschooling for any amount of time, you have most likely heard of the company Apologia. And most of the time when you hear the name Apologia, you probably think.. Science! Well, while you are correct, Apologia has an awesome line of science programs, what you might not know is that they now have several entire lines of curriculum that are equally impressive. I have had the privilege of review several of them,  you can see those reviews here; Read for Heart,  Who is God? and How Can I Know Him?   and Ultimate Guide to Homeschooling.

Recently, I had the opportunity to review the second book in the What We Believe Series by Apologia;  Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?  and I was equally impressed by the quality of this book.  This year when the box arrived, I was so excited to see what was included!!

Not only did we receive a copy of the  Student Book ( $39) We also received  the companion Notebooking Journal ( $24)   a copy of the MP3 CD of  the entire book being read, must be played on the MP3 compatible device ($19) and the Companion Coloring Book ($8).

Just like the first book in the series, Who is God? You will find that Who Am I? And What Am I Doing Here?, is a beautiful hard bound book, with beautiful illustrations.  However, aside from the high quality look of this book, that is not what is the best feature of this book... it is it's content!

There are 8 Lessons in this book, with each lesson taking 2 weeks to complete, this book should take you 16 weeks to complete.

  • What  Are We Doing Here?
  • What Will You Make Today?
  • What's On Your Mind?
  • Can You Trust Your Feelings?
  • Will You Choose Wisely?
  • How Will You Run the Race?
  • What Kind of Fruit Are You Growing? 
  • Who Do You Think You Are? 

 However, as with many homeschool curriculums, you have the option to take longer, or move through quicker, depending on your children. Although, I would not recommend going to fast, you really do want to take your time, and allow the content, and the Word of God to soak through your child's heart.  And the wonderful thing about this book, is that it helps you do just that, if you simply follow what they have laid out.

In the beginning of this book you will find a section called, How to Use This Book, you will find proposed lesson plans, as well as a description of how to use each section. Each section has sub-sections that help to bring home the topic of each lesson, such as; The Big Idea (introducing the main topic), Think About It (Thought provoking questions to help you dig deeper into the provided short story), Words You Need To Know (Vocabulary defined), Hide it in Your Heart ( bible memorization), and many more sections to help your child identify with what they are learning.

Now with all of that said, how did we feel about this program? I, (the mom) loved it!  Just look at the lesson topics, I can tell you that these are topics that we talk about in our home, often. Have you ever had that feeling, you know the one, when you are driving home from church, and either your child's Sunday School Teacher, or the Pastor, has addressed the very thing you have been teaching them.. and often times your children hear, almost like it is the very first time they have heard, simply because it is coming in the form of someone else's voice. I have found that this series has the same effect ( which I view as a positive one!).  When we are reading the Short Story, or the Can You Trust Your Feelings section, or the What's on Your Mind section, there have been moments where the written word spoke to their hearts in a way, that I would not have been able to! And for that I am grateful. I am thankful to have this amazing tool in my arsenal.

When adding the fact that there is an audio available, this is a blessing, as I teach children with dyslexia, I am always looking for tools that will make learning easier for them. The CD allows them to have more independence then they would have otherwise had. The coloring book has been a wonderful addition for my youngest, and the otebooking journal, is a great way for the hands on learner to really incorporate what they have learned, by using their hands! There are crosswords, word finds, questions and much more inside the journal.

You can learn more about the What We Believe Series by visiting their Frequently Asked Questions. 
They say that the curriculum is for 6-14 years of age, which I think is accurate, but we have used it for Middle School and High School Students, and they thoroughly enjoyed the content.

Take a moment to visit Apologia today, and see all they have to offer your family!

*** I was provided a free copy of each of the reviewed items, in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was offered or accepted.***

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

See-N-Spell Spelling and Vocabulary Quick Reference Guide - A Product Review

In today's world of spell check, often times people feel that spelling is not a skill that needs to be taught. I cannot speak for other families, but I can tell you that in my family we need to have spelling taught. And even then, we need some help when we are working on our writing.

I have a home filled with teenagers. As such, we have a lot of texting going on. One of the things that I require of my teenagers is that they use  real words, and spell them correctly. What this has done, has one, it has helped them think about what they write, and two, it has made mom a walking dictionary. Randomly, I will be given a word to spell.. let  me tell you, when you are knee deep in another activity, this can sometimes be not only distracting, but also difficult. ;-)

So, obviously when we are working on actual writing assignments, (even though some of their texts are much like novels) we run into the same scenario. I have said to them, the very same thing that was said to me.. look it up in the dictionary. And in our house, we do not use a sleek, slimline dictionary, we use the Webster's 1828 Dictionary! That puppy is thick and heavy, and daunting! 

The fine people of See-N-Read thought of  this, and have created an handy little tool that addresses the need, and the obstacle! They have created See-N-Spell Spelling and Vocabulary Quick Reference Guide a quick reference guide that your young writer can tuck away into their writing binder.

Here's how it works;
This 40 page booklet is broken up into 3 sections
Most Commonly Used Vocabulary Words
Commonly Misspelled Words
My Special Interest Words

Each of the first two sections are in alphabetical order, so when your student comes across a word that they are unsure of the spelling, they can simply flip to the appropriate letter and look for the word they are trying to spell. You may be thinking why can't they use that trusty Webster's 1828 Dictionary.  Well, technically they could, however, a dictionary can be very cumbersome, and with See-N-Spell they have included the most common words, so it is a very quick way to find the words. It also includes all of those confusing homophones!

In the back of the book, you can even use the Special Interest Words section to add additional words that your student struggles with.

In our home we have a mix of some struggling learners, and also with learners where learning comes pretty easy. And both sets of kids have benefited from using the See-N-Spell. It has helped to speed up their writing time. 

Cost of the See-N-Spell - $9.99
Cost of mastering spelling blunders - Priceless!

Check out See-N-Spell, as well as the full line of products from See-N-Read. I just also mention that included with your purchase of See-N-Spell, is a See-N-Read Reading Tool!

**I was provided a complimentary copy of See-N-Spell in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed here are my own. You can read more reviews about See-N-Spell by following this link. 

Friday, January 27, 2012

Why do you Homeschool?

It seems that it was so long ago, the life we had before we homeschooled! When we first had children, I was the typical American Mom, ready to send my children off to school, not really thinking about any other option of education, or even feeling like there needed to be another option. After all, I went to both private school and public school both.

However, the Lord had other plans. We were gifted with a son who has epilepsy and autism and has global delays. So early on, the specialist recommended that we go to the local school district to address the delays we were seeing. This was my oldest child, I had no other experience to draw from, so off to the local school district with my precious baby boy at the age of 3.

So my son was in the public school system from the age of 3 until the age of 7. During the early years, it was very good for him. However, the more I learned about my son's abilities and disabilities I requested more services for him, and backed up those requests with specialists at the meetings. However, what I continued to come up against that last year or so in school, was the school district would refuse to pay for any of the services that I knew my son needed.  While we had an excellent teacher that last year in school, the prospects for his next year, were quite bleak.

Simultaneously, my husband was taking college courses at the local community college, and he was seeing the product of the local public schools. And what he was witnessing, is not what we wanted for our kids.

When combining both sets of these circumstances, we decided to homeschool.  When we started homeschooling, our children were 8, 6, 5, 4 and 1 year old.   Here is a photo from our early years......
Aren't they cute??

What we found when we started homeschooling, is that it was a perfect for our family. We are a very hands on family, we went on many field trips, and our homeschool days were filled with crafts, experiments and living books! We loved it! And still do! 

While the reason we began homeschooling was definitely a means to the end, our reason for homeschooling, while those original reasons are still there, we are also homeschooling, because it is our way of honoring the Lord in our home. 

The parent child relationship is a very unique. We know the needs of our children, better than anyone else, which helps us structure a learning environment that optimizes our children's strengths while helping them to overcome the areas of struggle. 

We are also able to help them learn how to live out the Christian life. They can watch us and learn how we have an intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father, we can provide them with a fully Christian Education without the outside influence of the world.  Now you would be able to do this to some extent if you had your children in a Christian School, however, I want to have the responsibility of raising my children up for the Lord. 

Before you become worried that my children are overly sheltered and are not allowed to experience life.. you should  know that we are members of a fairly large church, with an vibrant children's and youth program, and we are members of a local homeschool group. And this year.. our 12th year of homeschooling, we have decided to homeschool through a private school, that has a homeschool 'leg'. This has allowed my high school students to play high school sports.  

Here are some photos to help you see, the dynamic exciting life my children have expierenced, because we homeschool, not in spite of homeschooling! 

Rooted in Christ - Rooted in Love

January every year our church holds a winter revival.  The purpose is to set our hearts toward the Lord as we start each New Year, keeping the main thing, the main thing. During the last night of the revival this year, I was truly impressed upon by the Holy Spirit, and I wanted to share with you what stood out to me.

Each our church has a theme, with that them we have a series of message
designed to encourage us and grow our relationship with Christ. 
This year's theme, Rooted in Christ.  Here is a video of us learning the song to go with the theme. 

You see, while the calendar pages say that we are at the beginning of the year, the school calendar tells me that we are knee deep in the trenches of the school year. As we may struggle, or grow weary God is faithful.

The theme of this year’s Revival is Rooted… and the final night the topic was Rooted in Love. First we need to talk about the kind of love we are referring to. We are talking about agape love, the kind of unconditional love that God has for us. We are not capable of this love. That is we are not capable, apart from God’s power.   

How can we access God’s power? As Christians, Christ wants to dwell in us.  What does that mean?  Look at it this way, there is a difference between a guest and a resident.  God wants access to our entire life, not to be simply designated to the guest room, or to part of our life.  Are you willing to give God the keys to your whole life!

Once you have given Christ the keys to your life, you are ready to be ‘Rooted’ in Him.  When you are rooted into a source, you draw from that source. For example, if you have an oil well in your backyard, you would not tap into that well, and expect to get fresh clean water.  So as, we tap into Jesus Christ, we are tapping into His love, and His power.  And by tapping in our power source, we can allow God to work through us.  And show and share God’s love for us, to our family, and those around us.

So how does that translate to us homeschool moms?  I can tell you, personally, that there have been many times this year, that I have felt that I was at my wits end. That I simply was not equipped to finish this course set before me. Yes, I was going through the motions, fulfilling my duties, but, I felt very ill equipped. Well, I was, ill equipped that is.  That is because I was trying to ‘muscle’ through on my own strength, and in my own power. And not relying on God’s strength.  Sure I was reading my bible, I was faithful to church, and I was even faithful in my prayer life. However, in the heat of the moment, I was just overcome, and not turning to the Lord.

I am so thankful for the reminder this year that I need to remain plugged into the source, into Jesus Christ.  Otherwise, my life will be like a living room lamp left unplugged…..powerless!  Let’s get Rooted in Christ in 2012!