Monday, December 15, 2014

Advent Book Review

Watch for the Light: Readings for Advent and Christmas arrived on December 1st, which was perfect, since the readings begin on December 1st.

Advent begins on a different date each year, but this book's readings start on December 1st so you can easily pick it up and enjoy reading it each December as you prepare to celebrate Christmas.

The book has many contributing authors such as:
C.S. Lewis
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Henri Nouwen
Madeleine L'Engle
Martin Luther
Philip Yancey
T.S. Eliot

This book contains enjoyable readings, which encourage the reader to contemplate and help them ponder a little deeper, but they are light on scripture. They are not contradictory to scripture, but light on Scripture. This book is not for everyone since some do prefer Scripture to be the foundation and backbone of their advent readings.

Disclosure Statement:
I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Passport2Purity Get-Away

For my daughter's 12th birthday, I planned a little get-away for just the two of us. We didn't go too far away from home, but I planned things I knew she'd enjoy and make her feel special. While we were away, we went through five sessions of the Passport2Purity curriculum by Family Life. 


We left on a Thursday afternoon, but she was all packed and prepared to leave by Wednesday afternoon. She was very excited. 

Before leaving town, we stopped by Starbucks for one of her favorite drinks, and enjoyed some laughs over a few mad libs. 

I knew I had to reserve a hotel with a pool because this girl loves to swim. Plus, she needed to practice all the new things she learned at her recent swim lessons. 

You know how Jesus said we can't live on bread alone? Well, I think this girl could and that's why I took her to Fazoli's for dinner because she loves pasta and bread. 

In between listening to the sessions on CD, we did an art project and we also did our nails. 

On our final morning we ate breakfast at the hotel, finished up our last session together, checked out of the hotel, did some shopping, enjoyed a lunch at a place of her choosing, and then headed back home. 

We were only gone for about 26 hours, but we learned so much, had a lot of fun, and made a lot of wonderful memories. We had some wonderful, tough conversations and she made it through all the sessions like a champ.

I highly recommend this product to all parents of adolescent children. It was a great guide to help me have some intentional conversations with my child now before it's too late.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Collage Friday: A Week Filled with Writing

On Monday afternoon the children went to another swimming lesson, then we stopped by McDonalds to get a small treat, and visited the library. 

Tuesday was co-op day and Kaitlyn got to attend a FREE charcoal pastel art class at our local library. She was a dirty mess when she got home. Ha! 

On Sunday, the girls performed with their Signs Choir during our worship service and on Wednesday they had AWANA club, and Tyler and I had youth group. If you work with children or youth, I recommend visiting Fun Ninja to find a wide variety of fun games. I use this site almost weekly to come up with new games to use with our group. 

This week, we worked on editing a lot. The children had written mini reports and notebook pages on Eisenhower, JFK, and they chose someone from the Civil Rights Movement to write about. Here is Lauren writing about Rosa Parks. 

Lauren is growing a lot as a writer. She wrote a rough draft on her own and then I work with her as an editing buddy. She was so proud of her Rosa Parks notebook page once she was done and I was too! 

Next week in history we will learn about President Johnson and possibly start a unit on the Vietnam War if a book I requested from the library arrives in time.

The children are becoming stronger in their independent subjects and know what needs to be done each morning so our afternoons are filled with read alouds, activities, errands, chores, and free time.

I'm linking up again this week with Homegrown Learner's Collage Friday.  Take some time to visit this weekend for some home educating inspiration and encouragement.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Collage Friday: A Week Filled with Extra Fun!

This week was filled with extra activities. Due to all our fun, our time at home was shortened, but sometimes we need to change things up a bit in order to break up the monotony of the regular ol' routine.

On Monday, the children had swimming lessons, which means they are halfway through this session of lessons. We hope to get them in another session very soon, but the thought of doing that in the dead of winter is not very appealing.

Co-op was crazy this week. A dear friend of mine was in the hospital and so we had to cover her two classes. I taught my speech and P.E. classes, and then I had to also help assist in cooking and art. I really do enjoy our co-op and am so thankful for all the servants in there who do jump in when they're needed to make sure our kids continue to have a fun time of learning and hanging out with friends. We have a great community of friends in this group.

This collage is kind of random. My husband started a science experiment with the kids to learn more about stalactites and stalagmites, Lauren enjoyed doing her grammar under the dining table with the dog, and she was also super excited when the mail man delivered her LEGO set she ordered with her own money.

The girls and I had a fun day on Thursday when we got to enjoy Suessical the Musical, lunch at Chick-fil-a, and then a trip to the library. Tyler was going to go with us, but was asked to work so he did that instead. An older couple in our church has needed more help with their yard work this year and hired Tyler to help. He has enjoyed this opportunity to learn more about lawn care and this couple has absolutely spoiled him with lunches out, a local county fair, and a trip to a beautiful garden where he could see some really cool coy ponds.

Friday School usually includes math, grammar, science review, and then it's family time. My husband is a pastor and our church graciously lets him take off a day during the week since Sunday is a work day for him and for years he has taken Friday off. Once we started homeschooling, we shortened our school day to allow for family time. This week we decided to visit a local apple orchard for a fun family outing. 

I'm linking up again this week with Homegrown Learner's Collage Friday. Click over and check it out. It makes for some fun weekend reading.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Healthy Living Accountability

I have been wanting to add some healthy living posts here for a while now because I need some accountability in this area of my life once again. This is the perfect time because Clare at Peak 313 is hosting her "Living and Active" challenge, which starts next Monday, September 29th. Peak 313 is my favorite site for both spiritual and physical encouragement and accountability. Almost three years ago, I was featured on this site as one of their "Shed & Share" stories.  I had a major transition in my life 14 months ago and I now find myself with some of those pounds back on my body. This is real life and many people are like me and struggle when life throws in a big transition. I have truly struggled with consistency in the area of food and exercise since moving from PA to IL. Clare wrote a great post called, "Permission to Transition" and it was another great wake up call to me.

So, I've had 14 months to transition (I don't recommend taking this long). I am over feeling sorry and angry and I'm ready to step out in obedience to the Lord and take care of my body. Who's with me?

Would you like to jump into this online community to receive some encouragement and accountability? If so, click over and read about the "Living and Active" Challenge. 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Learning About the Civil Rights Movement

We study history chronologically and currently we are learning about the civil rights movement. We are listening to the audio version of "Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry" and we watched a movie Disney made a few  years back called "Ruby Bridges." I cried off and on throughout this entire movie because I just cannot fathom all that cruelty and hate.

Here are some other resources we used this week for our civil rights studies.
Ruby Bridges Video 
Martin Luther King, Jr. Bio Page
Rosa Parks Bio Page

We are reading "In Search of the Source" now. It is a captivating book about Wycliffe Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea. This is how you'll often find my children during read aloud time. Kaitlyn will be knitting, Tyler will be lying down on the couch, and Lauren will be coloring. 

We had drum, piano, violin, and swimming lessons again this week and our co-op started this week as well. The children enjoy their time out of the house and hanging out with friends.

I am linking up with Collage Friday with Homegrown Learners again this week. If you need some encouragement and inspiration, this is a great place to visit. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pray For Our Persecuted Brothers and Sisters

Living and enjoying the comforts and freedoms in America, it is easy to forget there are many believers around the world harshly persecuted for their Christian faith. Pastor Saeed has been imprisoned for almost two years in Iran and as you can see in the graphic below, Iran is one of the top 10 countries for persecution of Christians.

Our brothers and sisters around the world need our prayers. Hebrews 13:3 tells us to, "Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering." 

Here are some ways you can pray:
  • Pray believers will stand firm in their faith
  • Pray for persecuted believers to draw even closer to the Lord, be strengthened, and continue to courageously share Christ. 

Gospel for Asia has many more requests for persecuted believers here. 

May we all REMEMBER our persecuted brothers and sisters around the world and faithfully pray for them and for the gospel to spread to all nations. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Week We Went to the Swimming Pool

This week I overheard a conversation my youngest daughter had with my husband. She was sharing with him how busy she is. She has school, swimming, AWANA, violin lessons, and Girls in Action (a missions club). Heath and I have had a couple good laughs over a child's version of busy and we are so grateful for all these wonderful and fun activities she has been blessed to participate in.  

On Monday, the children started a 6-week session of swimming lessons at the YMCA. There are only two other children in their class, so they are getting a lot of attention, instruction, and practice. 

In between music lessons, school work, and chores, I found the girls doing a lot of fun things this week. They are still enjoying working with chalk pastels, Kaitlyn is knitting, and they had fun challenging each other in a cup stacking game. 

We have also been busy in the kitchen. Lauren made a pumpkin pie for her dad, but we forgot to put sugar in and we don't recommend doing that. Kaitlyn cooked Shepherd's Pie for dinner one night and it was delicious. The temperatures are dropping, which means enjoying mugs of hot chocolate while doing math lessons. Tyler said this week he feels sorry for all the children at school sitting at their desks and taking pop quizzes while he's at home drinking delicious hot chocolate. 

Menu planning and crock pot cooking are incredibly beneficial during the school year. I like to set my crock pot out the night before so when I wake up I SEE the crock pot and it reminds me to dump the ingredients in and get dinner started. Also, I pull out the recipes I need for the week so I'm not searching for them at 5 o'clock when I want to start dinner. 

We are studying about the Civil Rights Movement in history and after reading about Brown v. Board of Education, we found this PBS website about Ruby Bridges (one of the first little African American girls to integrate into an all white school) and also Homeschool Helper has some wonderful FREE notebook pages like this one for Dr. Martin Luther King.

Our co-op starts next week and we are looking forward to it. Tuesdays will be busy days, but filled with friends, fun, and learning.

How is your school year going? Are you enjoying any fun, enrichment activities? Do you have any tips to share to make getting dinner on the table easier on those busy days?

I am linking up again with Homegrown Learner's Collage Friday. Please click over and check out this fun community who gathers each Friday to share some cute collages and homeschool ideas and encouragement.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Sick Kids, School Work, and Youth Group

This was a week full of sickness, school work, and youth group. My church was gracious enough to give me the opportunity to serve as the director of youth ministry at our church. This means I get to plan games, activities, and weekly Bible studies for teenagers. I had so much fun on our kick-off night, which was Wednesday and judging by the amount of laughter in the room, I think others did as well. My oldest child is in the youth group and his sister will join him next year. Heath (my husband) and I have been involved in youth ministry for most of our 15 years of marriage and it is weird - very weird to be the parent of a youth now. It's a good weird though. 

Heath had the day off on Monday and Kaitlyn was sick, so we were pretty slow and lazy. We played games, looked at old scrapbooks, and just lounged around. 

Wearing vampire teeth makes reading more fun even when you're not reading about vampires, but Ella Enchanted. Lauren listened to the audio version of this book, but decided she also wanted to read it. I guess she likes it. The children are still breezing through their Teaching Textbooks lessons and next week I have got to get them started on some more challenging activities through Khan Academy. We really like Teaching Textbooks, but my kids often complain about the first few weeks being so easy and boring. 

In history this week, the children studied President Eisenhower and each wrote a paper for me. I found this online resource helpful and the older children enjoyed reading information on their own and the short video was an added bonus too. If notebooking is your thing, you might enjoy this FREE Eisenhower notebook page. 

My daughter, Kaitlyn, was sick most of the week, but still managed to get all her assignments completed. Today, she was not running a fever and feeling so much better we ran up to the library and got her registered for a babysitting workshop, book club, and an art workshop. Our family LOVES our local library and are so very thankful for all the wonderful programs and resources.

Next week we start 6 weeks of swimming lessons at our local YMCA, and we are looking forward to adding that to our schedule.

I am linking up with Homegrown Learner's Collage Friday again this week. Be sure and check out this fun link-up for homeschool inspiration and support. This week Mary shares how to find encouragement when you have a bad week. Be sure and check out other bloggers who link up as well.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

National Missionaries

2 out of 5 people have never heard of Jesus' love, which means 2.5 billion people do not have the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ. This is why Gospel for Asia is passionate about training and equipping national missionaries to go out, share the good news, and disciple new believers. National missionaries already know the language and customs of their own people. Also, more than three-fourths of Asian countries do not allow western missionaries to enter their country and openly share the gospel.

With so many people (2.5 billion) lost and headed to Hell, what can we do to make a difference? 

PRAY - As a family, choose a people group to learn about and pray for them.
Do you belong to a Sunday school class, small group, or homeschool co-op? If so, choose a people group together and begin praying for them. Better yet, pull your resources together and support a national missionary. 

GIVE - You can support a Gospel for Asia national missionary and help support their work in their home country. These missionaries have gone through three years of intensive training, and they know the language and customs of the people they are ministering to.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Our First Week Back to School

On Monday, we started back into our school groove. This year was the easiest transition we have ever experienced and I believe it is largely due to the fact these three kiddos are older, more mature, and have a few years of practicing good habits under their belts (thank you Charlotte Mason). 

I liked the way our 1st day of school pictures turned out last year, so I did the same thing this year. It is so fun (and a little sad) to look back and see how much they have grown and changed in a year's time. 

We are adding more geography to our daily work after reading "The Core" by Leigh Bortins and some wonderful blog posts over at Homegrown Learners. My children know their U.S. geography very well, so I thought starting out tracing the United States would be a great way to ease them into this new activity. 

Lauren had her first violin lesson this week and was very excited. She actually described herself as "nervous-cited." Tyler is continuing his drum lessons and even plays in our worship service a couple times each month. Kailtyn is progressing well in her piano lessons as well. 

I am truly a blessed woman. My husband is so much fun to parent with. This week we had a lot of great family time and he is once again teaching science this year. He is using Christian Kids Explore Earth and Space and he has been pleased and impressed with this curriculum as he has been preparing lessons the past few weeks.  It is so wonderful having this subject taken off my plate. He is also going to teach a public speaking class at our co-op this fall.

I am linking this post up with Homegrown Learner's Collage Friday. You should check it out. It is always a fun place to visit on the web for encouragement and ideas.