Friday, September 13, 2013

REVIEW: Every Waking Moment

Every Waking Moment by Chris Fabry follows the story of Treha (tray-uh), a worker at Desert Gardens retirement home. She had no family, no memories of her past. But she had a remarkable gift she used to awaken the elderly residents at the retirement home. Residents with dementia and such, and Treha helped "awaken" them so they could talk and function, if even for a short while.

A small team of (two) documentary filmers discover her gift as they are working on a documentary about the elderly. And they help Treha find clues about her past.

I really enjoyed this book. I had trouble putting it down. each chapter follows a different person, meaning chapter 1 follows person A, chapter 2 follows person B, chapter 3 goes back to person A, etc. This was kind of frustrating, as each chapter ended with a small cliffhanger of sorts. So it was hard to put down and get things done. lol!

However, this book really helps you appreciate 2 specific types of people: the elderly and the handicapped. The elderly have been around. They are not a burden on society to be cast off and ignored. They have lived. It's incredible to hear where their feet have walked, what their eyes have seen, what their ears have heard. They have stories of survival, enlightenment, and love.

The handicapped are not to be treated as a burden, either. One has no idea what amazing things they are capable of. Ms. Millstone (in the book) learned this lesson. :P

I will have to admit, though, I was a little upset about the ending. It didn't end the way I was hoping it would. But, I guess I'm a little selfish that way. This is definitely a page-turner. A very good book.

For more info about this book, please check Tyndale's Media Page.

Here's a trailer:

I definitely recommend this book! :)

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Making Paper

K, the first time we made paper was Wednesday, but I forgot to take pics.

I know. How could I? lol!

Anyways, so today we made it again. The boys were excited.

K, here's the materials you need:

  • bath towels (or a workspace you don't mind getting all wet and messy - like a sidewalk outside)
  •  a sponge (we didn't have one, so we used hand towels)
  • a blender
  • old newspaper
  • a screen
  • HOT water
  • optional: a frame (an old photo frame will do)
Oh, and you'll need some helpers.
These are mine. :)

K, what you want to do first is tear up your newspaper and stuff it in the blender. Then add HOT water till it's a little more than halfway full.
Then blend it all up till it looks all nasty and feels kind of like that slime stuff they had in the late 80's and early 90's. (Remember that stuff? lol!)
 This is about what it should look like. Nice, huh? lol! This is called pulp. It's a lumpy, watery, gooey mess. :)
K, then you need to lay your towels down on your work area and lay the screen on top of the towels. This is when you'd lay your frame on top of your screen, if you want perfectly square paper. We didn't care about perfectly square paper. So we just poured our pulp on top of the screen.
Then we smoothed it out. This is a bit easier said than done. Little ones might need some help.
K, if you have sponges, now's the time to use them. If not, grab your hand towels, lay them on top of your paper, and press as hard as you and your little ones can! Paper is held together by pressure (which is why it falls apart so easily when it gets wet), so it's important you press hard. This also helps absorb excess water.
Push, push, push! My boys like this part. :)

Once you've pressed as hard as you can and have absorbed as much excess water as you can, carefully remove the towel.
Then let your paper dry. It needs several hours. I recommend doing this activity after dinner so the paper can dry overnight. You could put it in the sun, but it will dry too quickly and might warp.
When it's dry, they can write on it or draw on it. We're going to frame ours. :)

Thanks for reading! Have fun! :)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Day 21 Starts Tomorrow...

K, so, we've been using Easy Peasy as our homeschool curriculum this year. And I have to say, it's just amazing! There is no planning for me (which is good because I tend to be very unorganized) because everything is all laid out on the site. I just go thru and print any necessary .pdf files. Once printed, I write the day # on top of the page and stick it in a 3-ring binder. All set! There's even a daily progress chart that you can print, and you cross off the day you just finished so you know where you are. EASY! :D

Because I can, here's a screenshot of Easy Peasy's Homepage:
The grades are all linked on the right, and the content is on the left. 

I do have to warn you, though, though this is a Christian, bible-based, young-earth-believing curriculum, there is a bit of evolution taught. And that's ok with me for 2 reasons:
1. It's out there. They will be exposed to it at some point. And I'd rather it be in our home with my husband and I present than somewhere else when we have no control or knowledge of what they're learning and what the biblical rebuttal is.
2. I believe that if you're going to combat something, you should know something about it. You know the saying "know your enemy?" Well, I believe our children should know their enemy. If they are to learn how to answer questions against evolution, they should know something about evolution. Once they learn what it is, they can learn why it's faulty.

Anywho, back to how great this curriculum is. Matty (my 5-year-old) is really doing well learning his letters! He'll be reading in no time! I'm so excited for him. He wants to learn how to read so badly! lol!

And Josh (my 9-year-old) was so excited about the digestive system, that he rehashed everything he learned for his younger brothers. 

It's exciting to see them learning. And thanks to Easy Peasy, it's very, well, easy! :)

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Review: The 21 Toughest Questions Your Kids Will Ask about Christianity

Ok, so, I meant to have this review up ages ago, but life has been so hectic around here since we started homeschooling for the year. I have 2 kids I'm homeschooling now, and we've had some trouble getting into a routine. However, I think we've gotten most of the bugs worked out, and things should start to run more smoothly from now on.

Oh, plus I've been sick. I had a really bad ear infection and a sinus infection. And the antibiotic the doctor gave me knocked me out! lol! It's a good thing a friend of mine was available to take care of the boys. Otherwise I don't know what I would've done! I'm so thankful to God for her willingness to help.

Anyways, on to the book review. I was excited about this one. My biggest problem with people asking me questions (not just about the bible, but pretty much anything) is that I have trouble putting what I want to say into words. I might know the answer they're looking for, I just can't get it from my brain to my mouth. lol!

That's why I was excited about this book. It lists the most commonly asked Christianity questions from kids, and then it tells you how to answer them. That was a big problem for me growing up, I had questions and was told by adults "because the bible said so." Well... um... that's not an answer to my question. At all. I just assumed the adults didn't know. And I certainly don't want this to be true of my kids.

I did have an issue with this book. Sometimes I felt that the author was adding in unnecessary details and thereby skirting the actual question. Then at the end I felt that the particular question didn't receive a fair answer. But there was only once or twice when this happened.

All-in-all I was happy with this book. I feel much more prepared to defend my faith not only to my own children, but to any other children that may ask.

I especially loved one point of this book... one that I was afraid of. That it's ok to say you don't know. As long as you're willing to work to find the answer. This made me feel a bit better about my own imperfect knowledge of the bible. There's so much to learn and glean from the bible, that knowing everything contained in those pages is a lifelong process that will ultimately end when we come face-to-face with it's author.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Friday, July 12, 2013

I Just Love Caroline Ingalls!

Darlene at Time-Warp Wife posted this beautiful article about Caroline Ingalls. She is the embodiment of the Proverbs 31 woman. And she's everything I'd love to emulate. Please take a moment and read her brilliant post. Click the image below to read it.
May you be as blessed as I was by this amazing piece, and by this amazing woman. :)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

10 Things You Should Know About Homeschool Moms

Kris at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers has put together a great list of things you should know about homeschool moms! Check it out! :)
Click the image to view the post.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Is the Search Finally Over?

UGH! I had no idea choosing a printer would be so difficult! I feel like I'm buying a new car! (Only... not nearly as expensive. lol)

See, we have a printer. We have an HP Inkjet printer. My husband uses it to print out his sermons for church, and I ask him to print things from time to time. And we go thru ink cartridges like crazy! So, I thought I'd look around to see what other options there are.

Laserjet seems to be the best option for us, considering Easy Peasy is heavy on printed pages. Ok, so, there are about a million and one laserjet printers out there! All I want is a printer that doesn't go thru ink (or in this case, toner) super fast.

Anyone that knows me knows how indecisive I can be. lol!

I'm leaning toward this one. Now I just need to save for it. :/

What about you? Do you have any printer suggestions?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Characters that Scared Me as a Kid

K, so, the KLove Morning Show asked their Facebook fans what characters scared them as children. And that got me thinking. Sure there were quite a few that were a little weird, but there are only 2 that I can really remember being actually scared of:

This is the Swedish Chef from the Muppets. (I've come to learn his name is Tom. Who knew? lol) I don't know what it was, the fact that he has no eyes, or that he spoke gibberish, or that he had human hands. I dunno, but this guy creeped me out. Every time he came on I had to change the channel. Or leave the room. I even remember crying at one point.

The Swedish Chef: a beloved Muppets character to some, terror in a toque to little me. :)

This terrifying character is Gmork. Now. The Neverending Story was made in 1984 (I was 6). But I didn't see it until... um... I dunno, but we rented it on VHS. (Back in the day. When people still did that.)

Now, I cried like a baby when Atreyu's horse Artax (lovingly renamed Kleenex by my dad) died (sorry if I spoiled anything for you), but I was scared to death of Gmork. I mean, come on! LOOK at him! That's enough to give any little kid nightmares! And I had to look away at the end of Gmork's last scene (I won't ruin that for you). That was just too much.

But all this didn't stop me from watching the movie a million and one times. lol!

So there you have it. The two scariest characters I can remember from my childhood.

If you check out the KLove Morning Show's Facebook page (linked above), many people cited the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz as scary. But I don't ever remember being afraid of them. :/

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

This song is such a blessing!

I've come across this song, and it just blessed me so much that I thought I'd share it. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Focus on the Truth

I was recently talking with a woman at church, and she was commenting about how she hadn't heard from a friend of hers in a while. "She's been ignoring my calls and texts... I wonder if I've done something to upset her," she said. She was very upset. This is a good friend of hers and they usually talk almost every day. But it'd been over a week without a word. What had she done to make her friend so angry at her? Had she said something? Done something?
I asked her if she knew for a fact that her friend was angry with her. "She hasn't talked to me in days!" was her response.
How many days, weeks, even months have we worried about things of which we have no proof? Philippians 4:8  tells us Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
This gentle soul at church was becoming unraveled because she was afraid her good friend was upset with her. Based on what? Lack of communication. That doesn't always mean anger. There are a number of reasons for silence on her friend's part.
She was worrying about something she didn't know to be true. She was assuming. She was wasting a lot of hours obsessing. She was letting this situation steal her joy.
I gently reminded her of these facts. She looked at me as if I invented sliced bread and hugged me. She knew I was right. She would wait on communication from her friend.
It turns out that her friend had lost a relative and was not ready to talk to anyone. She was grieving. The lady I spoke to did nothing wrong.
It's hard, sometimes, not to jump to conclusions. We are presented with a situation and obsess about several scenarios about how the situation started, how it might end, or the reasoning behind it.
A friend of mine was at work, and her boss told her that he was going out, but wanted to see her in his office when he returned. (Why in the world he would say that, I have no idea. lol!) My friend spent two hours obsessing about the impending meeting. Was she about to get fired? Why? What had she done? She tried to work hard and be as productive as possible. She ended up getting promoted. But she wasted two hours of her life she'll never get back. Worrying.
So, my dear friends, let us try not to worry about the "what if's." Focus on what you know, and go about your day. God is with you. He has your best interests at heart. Whatever happens, He has something wonderful in mind for you. :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Whit's End Mealtime Devotions

We, as parents, try to incorporate God and the bible into every aspect of our children's lives. But reading the bible at mealtimes just wasn't happening. Devotions? Forget about it!

 Then I received this book.

 And my boys (ages 8, 5 and 3) loved it!

 It's written on a level they can understand and relate to. It not only includes fun stories, but thought provoking, discussion stimulating questions. They each took turns praying about what they learned. That was pretty cute. :)

I recommend this book to anyone with young children. It's a fun way to talk about God and His love for His children at dinnertime.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Homeschool vs School at Home

I came across this cartoon last week:

Homeschool curriculum companies make the big bucks selling their curriculum. Why? Because we are terrified of our kids "falling behind." Or, because we're not sure "how" to homeschool (so thank goodness for the prepackaged curriculum, otherwise I'd have no idea what to do!). This is the "school at home" mentality.

But homeschooling is NOT "school at home." The purpose of homeschooling is not to bring the classroom into our homes, it's to educate our children.

One of the many reasons we homeschool is because state standards are so rigorous and strict that the main goal is to get students to score so high on tests. So the teachers' main job is to get the students to pass the tests. This is not education.

The biggest advantage of homeschooling is freedom! Freedom from tests, freedom from the state breathing down your kid's neck, freedom from "come on, class, we have to get through this to stay on schedule!" (I heard this a lot in school.)

But many homeschool families to not take advantage of this freedom. They spend hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars on curriculum kits, sit their kids down, and instruct them all day. (I'm not 100% down on this. If this is the best way for your child to learn, do it. Some kids require this kind of structure. And that's ok.)

This is what I do when homeschooling my oldest son:
1. I make out a schedule for the week. This is what I plan to teach him in each subject. For example, in math I might prepare some games to help him learn his times tables. Memorization is hard for him, so in school he'd just be left in the dust. At home, we can take as much time as he needs... and we can make it FUN!
2. We explore. We experience new things. This brings up questions from him, and we research the answers. Then we discuss what he's learned.
3. We do not freak out if, by the end of the week, the schedule I made at the beginning of the week is less than half completed. Why? Because he learned. He learned what he was interested in, therefore it had meaning, therefore he'll retain it longer.

We, as a homeschool community must back away from the scope-and-sequence method of teaching and learn what our children are interested in. Think of ways to work the other subjects into what they want to learn. If your child is interested in animal science, create math games using animals. Have them read books about those animals and discuss with you what they learned. Make a spelling/vocabulary list using different animal groups. The possibilities are endless! If we teach what our children are interested in, everything else finds a way to fall into place. :)

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Super Nachos Recipe

I get a lot of compliments every time I make this, and I've had several people ask for the recipe. So here it is for the world to see:
1lb ground beef (or chicken or turkey, whatever you use)
1 pkg taco seasoning mix
1 can refried beans
about 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or more if you like hot & spicy)
about 1 tsp chili powder
(or more if you like hot & spicy)
1/2 block Velveeta
nachos (we use Tostito's bite size)
toppings (lettuce, tomato, sour cream, whatever you like)

Brown ground beef, drain. Fix taco seasoning mix according to directions. Stir in refried beans, cayenne pepper and chili powder. Heat through. Cut up Velveeta (to melt faster). Once Velveeta is melted (stir to mix thru), place some nachos on a plate. Spoon mixture over nachos. Add toppings. 

Here's the finished product:
Yum! Enjoy! If you try this recipe, please leave a comment about how you liked it.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I Can Teach My Child to Read!

There are not enough words to say how much I love this book. I didn't start homeschooling my oldest son until second grade because I wanted him to learn to read. I wasn't patient enough to teach him myself. I'd tried to start teaching him when he was preschool and it was a miserable failure. He was frustrated, I was frustrated, and no learning was going on. So I decided to send him to public school.

Imagine my apprehension when my 5-year-old (who is not in kindergarten yet because is birthday is 2 days past the cutoff *grr*) decided that he doesn't want to go to school next year. He wants to have school at home like his older brother.

Well... I certainly didn't know what to say to that. I mean, I didn't want my impatience to impede his learning to read.

Well, it turns out I was doing it wrong. That's why my oldest and I were both getting so frustrated.

I "liked" I Can Teach My Child on Facebook (they provide excellent ideas and resources for homeschooling), and I saw that they had written an ebook called I Can Teach My Child to Read!

I was skeptical when I purchased the Kindle version (at the link above, there's a .pdf version). After all, I had read several books on reading and I even bought the expensive curriculum for my oldest. Nothing I tried worked.

It's because everything I'd read and everything I'd tried were wrong.

This book has so many ideas, tips and tricks to teach your child to read! Before, I had learned that reading was the ultimate goal. But, according to the author, Jenae Jacobson, "comprehension and enjoyment" are the ultimate goal.

Of course, I knew that comprehension and enjoyment are important, but I thought they came naturally when reading was accomplished. But no! According to this book, teaching comprehension and enjoyment is as important as teaching what the words say. The book also teaches you how to teach your child how to make a mental picture of what's going on so that when they progress to less picture-heavy chapter books, they can imagine what's going on as they read.

After each chapter I was so excited to begin that I wanted to put the book down and start. But I did read the book to the end (in one sitting, by the way - this is a very easy to read and understand book). And I'm glad I did. I feel much better equipped to teach my 5-year-old to read than ever before. And I will keep updating his progress in this blog. :)

**Note: Nowhere in this book does it say "everything you've been doing so far is wrong." I decided all by myself that I was doing everything wrong. lol!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Miracle for Jen Review

This is a story about a Christian family of 4 living a seemingly perfect life. That is, until a tragic car accident injured the entire family, and nearly claimed the life of the daughter, Jen.

Oh, my. It's not very often that a book brings a tear to my eye, but this one definitely did. What a heart wrenching story! I shed a tear for the mother, Linda Barrick, who attempted to keep her life together, keep vigil by her daughter's side whenever she could, and keep her faith alive all at the same time. I cannot even imagine going through what she went through.

I shed a tear for Jen, who had such a bright future, a zest for life, a heart on fire for God. And now, in just a moment's time, it looks (according to the doctors) like she'll never have these things again.

Well, except for the family's deep devotion and constant prayers to God.

Asking God for a miracle.

And a miracle he did provide.

Jen lived. Despite all the odds. And what's more, she learned to walk, eat, write, do almost everything she could before. Her journey was a hard one and I'm sure is still on-going, but her love of God comes shining through each page of this book.

Jen's life is changed now. It's more difficult to do small tasks that most of us take for granted. But God gave her a second chance at life. And she is using it to tell others her story in the hopes that whenever they struggle or doubt God's love, they can rest assured in the fact that God is there and will bring them out of the ashes stronger thank before. What a wonderful and inspiring book!

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

You're Never too Old...

I read somewhere recently that you're never too old for macaroni and cheese. I'm going to have to agree with that. It's certainly not just a kid's dish and it's wonderful comfort food. It's especially good if you put tuna in it. (I know that might sound gross, but if you like tuna, you should definitely try it.)

This got me thinking about other things you're not too old for. Like... well, like...

1. Hugging and kissing your parents. As teenagers, some of us might have been (or might currently be) embarrassed by our parents. (I never was. I was proud to say these were my parents. I never, ever hid from them when we were out and I ran into my friends.) That's an individual issue we must work thru. But as a teenager and even as an adult, I say you're never too old to hug and kiss your parents. Let them know how much you love them. Let them know how much you appreciate them. I lost my mom on December 7, 2010 (at the very young age of 54) and I can thankfully say that I hugged and kissed her right up until the end. I lived about 90 miles away, so I didn't get to see her very often. I praise God that I was at her house just 2 days before she passed away. So just 2 days earlier, I'd given her a hug and a kiss. My heart delights in the fact that, when my mother passed away, she knew I loved her.

2. Playing with toys. Come on. You all know it's fun. That's why some of us have kids. (I'm just kidding, of course.) Especially nowadays. Some of the toys my kids have now are way cooler than the toys I had when I was a kid. And I just love it when my boys bring out their remote controlled cars! Oh, I crash them into things, I ride them down the stairs... I even have the boys stand in different places with their legs apart and I try to drive the car under their legs like a bridge - without hitting their legs. (I miss quite often. They love it!) But there's nothing like getting out a toy to de-stress after a hard day. And it's a great way to bond with your kids. (You should've seen my dad and older brother playing with a Speed Racer car my boys got for Christmas one year. It flips completely over. They cheered it on! It was hilarious! Here is a link to the car on Amazon if you'd like to get one. It's cool. It drives, flips completely over, and keeps on driving.)

K, sorry... commercial over. back to the list.

3. Riding a bike. I know they make bikes for adults, and I'm not talking about super-serious mountain biking or losing-weight-and-keeping-fit biking. I'm talking about biking like kids do it. Get on and ride around, purely for the fun of it. To feel the wind on your face as you glide around, swerving back and forth. The feeling of freedom. That's what I always felt when I rode my bike as a kid. And riding a bike as an adult brings back that same feeling.

4. Learning something. I'm sure you've heard the phrase "you can't teach an old dog new tricks." Well, I don't really believe that. My dog is 14 and I taught him something new recently. (lol) But, with people, there's always an opportunity to learn and grow. There's new things you can experience. God created this whole world with surprises buried in it. How fun it is to discover a new treasure every day! :)

That's it for my list. Well... that's all I can think of right now. What would you add to the list?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

3 Little Fellows Follow Me...

Wow, it's January 13th already? Where has the month gone? It seems to have just flown by! I wanted this blog to be more active than this, but every time I sit down to write, something comes up.

But I have a few minutes today, so here's what's on my heart.

I saw this poem, and I'd love to share it with you:

A Little Fellow Follows Me
by Rev. Claude Wisdom White, Sr 
A careful mom I ought to be,
A little fellow follows me.
I do not dare to go astray,
For fear he'll go the selfsame way.

Not once can I escape his eyes;
Whate'er he sees me do he tries.
Like me he says he's going to be,
This little chap who follows me...

I must remember as I go
Through summer sun and winter snow,
I'm molding for the years to be-
That little chap who follows me.

*NOTE: In the original poem, the first line reads "A careful man I ought to be," but I'm a woman. So I adapted it. This poem is for the parent of a little boy, but it works just as well for parents of little girls.

Wow. What a wonderful picture. Parent navigating through life, followed closely behind by her small son. Watching her every move and gesture, listening to her every word and tone, paying attention to every mood and attitude.

It's true, actions do speak louder than words. I can tell my kids to be kind to others until I'm blue in the face, but if I don't demonstrate kindness myself, they'll never learn it.

The apostle Paul actually told the Phillippians to follow after him, to do as he did:
Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. (Phillippians 4:9)
I want to be able to say that to my children. Nowadays, many parents live by the "do as I say, not as I do" mentality. They tell their kids to live one way, then they themselves live another. It's much easier to raise children this way - tell them what we want them to do, and live whatever way we want. But is it better for our children?

I'm not perfect. By any stretch of the imagination. And I do or say things I shouldn't, as anyone does. But my heart aches when I see or hear these things coming from my children. Because I know they got it from me. I need to constantly remind myself that there are kids around. I want them to be kind, loving, obedient, godly people. So for them to become that, I must first become that. 

It's definitely not easy to change one's thoughts or behaviors, especially since you've been thinking or behaving that way for 34 years. That's when I pull out Philippians 4:13: "I can do all this through him who gives me strength."