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!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Mile in His Shoes - A Review and A Giveaway!!

  What a wonderful movie!! I simply enjoyed this movie so much! 

A Mile in His Shoes, from the Director of Angels in the Outfield, is a wonderful movie about an inspiring story about a special boy with an amazing gift, and the coach who believed in him.  Dean Cain and Luke Schroder star in the GMC movie based on the book, " The Legend of Mickey Tussler."

As a conservative Christian mother of 5, I am always on the look out for a quality film that our whole family can watch, and this movie certainly fits the bill.  I also have children with special needs, so when I watch a TV or movie production that has a character with any kind of special needs, I am looking to see if the character is portrayed respectfully and sensitively and accurately.  And "A Mile in His Shoes" does all of those things. 

It is a wonderful portrayal of parents who long to protect their 'special' child ( Mickey) from heartbreak and hurt. However, in our effort we may very well be hindering them, and not allowing them to shine, to use the very skills that God has gifted them with. It is quite the journey for any parent, and you are able to take this journey with the parents in this sweet film. 

It's also about the journey of a man ( Coach Murphy) who could see the talent in a boy, that the world seemed to only see deficit. And how his world is transformed by Mickey.  And most of all, the fact that we were able to watch sweet Mickey, break out of his cocoon and spread his wings and fly! Using those amazing gifts God gave him. 

It makes me sit back and look at my special boy... and remember that he has been fearfully and wonderfully made! 

The only thing that I must point out, while this is a wholesome family movie, there are 2 scenes that you need to be aware of.  There is one scene where Coach Murphy uses a profanity.  And there is one party scene, that culminates with a fight. Very quick and not graphic. These issues would not keep me from watching this movie. 

To learn more about A Mile in His Shoes, visit the following websites:

Website or You Tube - To View the Trailer
Facebook - to like their Facebook Page
Dove Foundation Review

 “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.”

Now for the fun! I have one copy of the DVD, A Mile in His Shoes. You can enter the contest below. 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Parenting Help for Everyone - We Choose Virtues

 So, as I am in the stage where I am parenting 1 tween and 4 teens, some might think that one would be able to put it on cruise control. Especially if you have been consistent with your parenting over the years, however, that could not be further from the truth.  We Choose Virtues is here to help you reach the heart of your child whether they are 3 or 18... And isn't that what the ultimate goal is anyway? 

What I have found as I parent these wonderful teenagers, is that I am having to revisit the very things that we had previously 'mastered'.  I think that part of that is the fact that they are spreading their wings, and trying to assert their independence.  In our family we have studied and gone over Biblical Character Traits many times, however, a refresher course was needed by all.... even by this momma!  

 I had the opportunity to review Virtue Clues Cards , and it has been such a blessing.  This handy little set of flashcards you can take with you on the go, but we did not do that.. we simply used them at home. 

We began by simply going over each of the cards, we read them, and then talked about each of those virtues. We then talked about if we thought we needed to work on that particular issue. We were able to discern together what areas needed more work than others. How we decided to move forward, was to go through and work on a card every couple days. 

To take it to the next level for my high schoolers, is to included research. We pulled out our Nave's Topical Bible, and we would look up the virtue listed on the card, and look up verses that discussed that virtue. We would look at how God looked at people who exhibited said virtue and the blessings of living a godly life. We also looked up how God looked at people who struggled with that virtue. This was a very eye opening exercise for my children. It helped to instill that the behavior I would address, was not something I was asking them to do, to make me happy.  But, it actually was a character trait of godly living. 

I am so very thankful that God left us a roadmap, the Holy Bible to help us on our journey, and Virtue Clue Cards, helps to direct us to God's Word and we help our children understand God's Word. 

You can pick up Virtue Clue Cards for $5.99.  Please visit We Choose Virtues for their complete line of products, including both homeschool kits, and Sunday School kits. If you are wanting to decide which We Choose Virtues product is right for you family, check out their product comparison chart 
to find the perfect fit! 

Please visit the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about Virtue Clue Cards. 

**Please Note - I received Virtue Clue Cards for free in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was offered or accepted. Views presented here are mine alone, and do not imply guarantee of promise of service. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Zeezok Z-Guides - Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

Hello, my name is Jennifer and I hate textbooks! I am really not sure where it comes from. Maybe it comes from my own school experience... I was not a big fan of school. Or perhaps it comes from the fact that I have several children who do not learn typically.

I have spent the bulk of our homeschool journey, trying to find ways to get the information into their heads without textbooks. One of those reasons, is because I have several children with dyslexia, I really tried to not simply hand them textbook after textbook to read. That would have been overwhelming, and it would have taken forever!

That is where Zeezok Publishings Z-Guides come in. We recently reviewed the Z-Guide for Mr. Smith Goes to Washington starring Jimmy Stewart. I love the way the Z-Guides make learning possible out of movies designed for entertainment!

Contained within the Z-Guides you will find background information, discussion questions, and many activities for your student, all designed with your student in mind. The entire guide is designed to be completed over a 5 day period.

This guide is designed for High School Students, however, we actually used this guide with my 4 high schoolers and my junior high schooler, as well.

While this is not a complete Social Studies curriculum, you can either infuse your current curriculum or design your own around the different Z-Guides available. These are ideal learning tools for kids with any kind of special need that makes reading difficult.

Check out the current line of Z-Guides.  Prices start at $12.99.

And don't forget to check out the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about Z-Guides!

** I received a complementary copy of the Z-Guide; Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, in exchange for my honest opinion. No other compensation was offered or accepted. Opinions expressed here do not constitute a guarantee of service.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

REAL Homeschool Spanish - Hands On Wins Hands Down!

As a long time homeschooler, I am always on the look out for products I have never heard of, and see if that product will work for my family. I find that many times, we homeschoolers can get stuck in a rut, only using the programs that we already know.

I am excited to share with you about a curriculum that I found to be innovative and exciting; REAL Homeschool Spanish.

Real Homeschool Spanish is designed for elementary through junior high school students. Currently a high school supplement is being designed. However, I would like to say that I used this program with my 12-17 year old children. If your children even high school age, have not had any Spanish, this is a wonderful place to start!

My children's learning style is very hands on.. not text book style at all. Earlier this year we attempted a different Spanish program, and as my children would tell you it was an epic fail! So we were looking forward to trying a new Spanish program.

So what makes this program different from the others that we have looked at or tried? For starters, it's a hands on style! The program includes:

Book, Activity Book, Answer Book, and Audio Files and an optional Daily Curriculum Guide.

In the book you will find 10 units covering Greetings, Foods, Sports, Family, etc... In each unit you will find Grammar tidbits, audio files so you and your student can hear the words being spoken.  You also have Home Educator tips and teaching idea for hands on activities that will help bring Spanish to life, and in use!  It is recommended that your child learn about the Spanish culture. At the Real Spanish website you will find a culture link that will be a wealth of information for you and your student.

The beginning of the book also has a curriculum planning guide to help you plan your learning.

You also receive an activity book. You can click here to see a sample of the activity book. The activity book also has audio clips available. Your child will use the words he has learned in tile scrambles, word finds, crossword puzzles, dialogue completions and much more. It helps to really bring what they are learning to life and not so dry!

For an additional $10 you can purchase the curriculum planning guide, which has your schedule already planned out for you.

We received the download version which came with both color and black and white options. And the audio files.

You can order the download version for $49.95 (plus $10 for the curriculum planning guide)
And the hard copy for $89.95 ( plus $10 for the curriculum planning guide)

Don't forget to check out the crew blog to see what my crew mates have to say about Real Homeschool Spanish.

**I received REAL Homeschool Spanish for free in exchange for my honest review. No other compensation was offered or accepted.  All opinions expressed here are my honest thoughts, and do not constitute a promise or guarantee of service.