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.