Monday, December 09, 2013

Review: Tale of Two Kingdoms

Are you looking for an indepth Bible study for yourself or young adult student?  I've got it.  I do a lot of Bible studies and most of them are great....but they are usually geared toward a theme or certain topic.  Tale Two Kindgdoms by Heather Kendall is very in depth.  I've been working on it for weeks and still haven't finished it.  Using Tale of Two Kingdoms with another of  Ms. Kendall's books, God's Unfolding Story gives a very detailed examination of Biblical history while weaving in the coming Saviour all along the study.  I would imagine that this study could be used as part of school at least a semester, quite possibly a whole year.  I would recommend using them together, making the cost $45....they can also be purchased separately if you would prefer.  (The 1st is more of a read-through book, the 2nd is a question/answer bible study).

Would you like to read what others are saying about these books?   Check us out at Mosaic Reviews and see what others are saying about this great resource.  www.mosaicreviews.com 



Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Review: Hello Fresh

I had a fantastic opportunity towards the end of November to review some food as part of the Mosaic Reviews program.  I LOVE food :) 

So what food were we blessed to review, you ask?  Let me introduce you to Hello Fresh. Hello Fresh is a subscription mail-order meal service.  Feel free to head over there and check them out, their website is very user friendly. 

First, you get to make some choices......Classic (meat based recipes) or Vegetable (vegetarian recipes).......2 people or 4.......Frequency of delivery.......

Don't panic.  The "menu" is set up in advance.  If you don't like the choices (and you have choosen a classic box) then you have the option to change out a couple of meals after you place your order.  Sorry, if you choose the vegetarian box that isn't an option right now. 

I choose the Classic box, and it was sent with enough for 3 meals for 2 people.    I was concerned because I had never ordered any cold/frozen food off the internet but it is packed very well in a very insulated box.  Everything arrived beautifully.

These are the recipe cards.  Everything is very easy to fix but does seem to require that you have been in a kitchen before.  I had never worked with fresh herbs before and it was a pleasure!  All the recipes I tried were easily completed in 30 minutes.

Random free gifts are placed in some boxes :)

In the front bowl we have the shrimp and chorizo stew (with kale - delicious!)  In the back are roasted vegetables that went with the roasted pork chops (1st time I've had leeks, very good)

Everything comes packaged in individual bags and is labeled with what meal it is for.  EVERYTHING is included except oil. 


My helper mixing up the chicken meatballs for the chicken polpetta (good the first time, but excellent as leftovers - the flavors were subperb after they had time to mingle)


See how nicely everything is packaged in there.....lots of ice packs and insulation. FedEx did my delivery.
 
Now, the part everyone is waiting for.....ordering meals off the internet isn't cheap.  The quality is FANTASTIC - all the ingredients were fresh.  The portions are GENEROUS.  I had a 2 person box and 2 of the meals easily fed 4 people. 
A 2 person classic box is $69, 4 person is $129.  A 2 person veggie box is $59, 4 person is $109.  I wish they had a option to mix meals from classic and veggie :) 
Overall, the service and quality was excellent.  The cost is prohibitive for us, but it is cheaper than eating out all the time, so that is something to consider.  The meals are easy and quick to prepare.  All the shopping is done for you.  Someone who likes to try new things would love this service (chorizo, kale, leeks, ground chicken - all new to me - as was cooking with fresh herbs). 
If you would like to give it a try, you can get a $20 coupon code from their website as a new customer.  I would recommend it!
Would you like to hear what others are saying about Hello Fresh?  Be sure to head on over to Mosaic Reviews to see other reviews (some reviewers got different meals so the pictures will make you drool).

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

REVIEW: Pieces of Me by Diana Lynn

***I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew.***

"I wrote this book for you."  Diana Lynn

By the time you get to those words in this book, you have walked with Diana through some fairly difficult, I would even go as far as to say traumatizing, events in her life.  The way Diana writes, you can feel what she felt; the pain, the joy, the hate, the love.

In the end, though, she did write this book to me, the reader.  A compilation of written snapshots of her life, Diana walks through her trials again to share hope with her readers. 

Diana's life has encompassed the span of deep depressions....a teenage pregnancy, abusive 1st husband, single motherhood, the loss a relationship with her father, death of her mother, an emotional affair, verbal abuse, loss of a friend......but in this book - the important parts of this book - are the lessons learned, the value of love, the hope everlasting and her ongoing journey with her Lord.

I love Diana's writing style.  You can easily read, or reread this book in a short sitting or flip right to the section that fits your situation.  The lessons that were hard learned by Diana are offered up with the wisdom that only comes from someone who has survived, thrived, through her difficulties.

Although I don't share many of Diana's life experiences, I feel that I do share some of her pain and I see how she was able to reconcile those parts of her life and that gives me hope also. 

Towards the end, Diana focuses on goals and dreams and we see her main objective in writing this book.  Diana has written so that we can see how she overcame insurmountable odds and thrived.  In the last section she encourages her readers to do the same. 

This book is available from Amazon for $9.99. You can learn more about Diana's ministry at Recovering Dysfunctionals and at her blog.

***I do not condone the use of psychics.  I also believe the Bible's warnings against a homosexual lifestyle.  That doesn't mean that we can't minister and love those who have been to psychics or take part in that lifestyle.  Guard against sin, show God's love to the sinner :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry by Tanya Logan

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA review crew.***

I got a smartphone last year after YEARS of longing for one.  Why did I want one so bad?  Well, I think some of it is just greed.....I like the newest things and fancy things....and who doesn't want to be able to call up the latest weather or news story?  I think another part of me wanted one because I could feel like I belonged.  I don't always do so well in social situations and am frequently uncomfortable.  On facebook (from phone or computer) I could feel like I belonged without ever really interacting with REAL people.  With a smartphone, that ability is so quick and easy.  I had gotten to where I didn't want to miss anything and I would get frustrated if others weren't posting status updates or commenting/liking mine.  Pathetic, huh?

A friend has been bemoaning the evils of modern communication technology for years.  I don't know how many times I've shaken my head as he rattled on again and again about how we were losing touch with reality and real people, how relationships didn't matter anymore (but they do to God!) and how we were wasting time (I'm visiting with friends, checking on loved ones, how dare he???) on our little electronic devices.  Just wait, I'm coming around to his way of thinking.

I've really been convicted lately of how little time I've been spending with God.  The littles and I started going to a new church in September with a wonderful Sunday School program and I got an adult lesson book and found daily Bible readings in the back.  So I began daily doing those readings, then added in an additional chapter of Scripture (in depth) and if I had time, a Bible study.  About an hour, with interruptions, each morning. 

Shortly after that, I was given the opportunity to review Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry  by Tanya Logan.  I was drawn to this choice.  I know God was leading me because I needed it badly. 

There is a lesson a day for 6 weeks with a leaders guide included in case this is wanted for a small group study.  I definitely think that some accountability would be useful, as I am doing this alone, but I've asked God to be my accountability partner this time :)  Each lesson is short and to the point.  Although I quickly figured out where she was heading with the study, she did it nicely and nonjudgementally. 

In the end it comes down to a good-better-best thing.  Is what I am doing (social media, reading, hobbies) the BEST use of my time?  Let's face it, I'm only getting one today.  Once it is gone, it is gone.

I quickly caught myself doing the following:
-open facebook on my phone for "just a minute" and come up for air 45 minutes later
-find myself angry about things that were posted (and that had no bearing on me, my family, or anything really - so why was I mad?)
-found myself checking facebook at the kids sporting events
-found myself checking facebook at the supper table (even though we have a "no phones" rule at the table - my oldest son took it away from me - good for him!)

My facebook problem wasn't the only thing getting in the way of my relationship with God.  I read an enormous amount of fiction books.  They aren't bad, but I do need to curb my reading time to make time for other more important things.  My hobbies, although much lower on my distraction list, also need to be kept in the proper perspective.

How am I working to change my perspective?  I've allotted 1 hour a day (30 minutes morning and evening) to facebook checking.  I've also allotted 30 minutes a day to blogging (going to be using that save feature) and 30 minutes to email.  I've already scheduled time for "me" activities into my day - reading, hobbies, etc so I am going to be trying to make the BEST uses of those times.  Good-better-best, remember? 

This Bible study has opened my eyes to so many things that had become idols in my life.  Do you need to step back and take a look at what is REALLY important in your life?  I think it would do many of us a lot of good, I know it did me!

Come Back to Jesus - And Don't Bring Your Blackberry is available for $9.99 on the kindle or $15.99 as a paperback. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Review: A Light for my Path

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Mosaic Reviews Team***

I received the most delightful children's book to review a few weeks ago.  A Light for My Path: An ABC Book Based on Psalm 119 is written by Davis Carman, illustrated by Alice Ratterree and published by Apologia (not just science anymore, remember?). 

This book is adorable.  The pencil drawings are a joy to look at.



The above page for the letter T says: God's Word, Law, Statutes, Decrees, Commands, and Precepts are True.

After you finish the alphabet, the text of Psalm 119 is included. 

This would be appropriate as a picture book for younger children or a memory aid for older ones.

A Light for my Path is available from Apologia for $14.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Faith: Joseph's Story A Novel and Christian Bible Study by Sandra Lea Hardage

***I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew***

I think that God's been trying to talk to me. 

I received Faith: Joseph's Story by Sandra Lea Hardage a few weeks ago.  The first part of the book is a novel of Joseph's life.  The author takes some liberties in minor details and weaves a very interesting story about the life of Joseph, before his journey to Egypt and after.  It is thoroughly enjoyable!  The book doesn't stop there.

The 2nd half of the book is a Bible study on faith.  Using the lives of those in Joseph's family (starting with Abraham) and then Joseph's life this is a very in-depth study of faith.  I am amazed that I am learning so many things from such a small (often read!) section of scripture.  The 3rd part of the book is the leader's notes making this a wonderful study for small groups.....I will admit that I have had to really examine my life with this study (especially today's readings on jealousy and bitterness...ouch). 

Since beginning this book and study, I have encountered the topic of faith in my regular private readings, Sunday school lessons and Sunday sermons.  I guess God knew I needed to focus on this!

If you want to start digging into Faith: Joseph's Story, you can do so for $14.99 (softcover) or $3.99 (ebook).  If you get the ebook, print that baby out.  Trust me, you are going to be writing and highlighting and circling.....I am anyway.  Good, good stuff!

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Woman Who Memorizes God's Word

Last time I posted I commented that I wanted to become more diligent about memorizing the Word of God. 

I'm putting that desire into practice this week (and prayerfully for many, many weeks after!).

This morning I got out my copy of Polished Cornerstones by Doorposts.  Other times I have focused my memory work on what the kids were doing or whatever a Bible study I was working through suggested but this time I wanted verses that applied to my calling as a godly woman.  I knew that Polished Cornerstones would have relevant verses by subject, so that is where I started.  I found a whole section called "A Woman Who Memorizes God's Word" so I decided that is where I would start.

Chuck Swindoll writes in Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life:
"I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture...No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends!  Your prayer life will be strengthened.  Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective.  Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change.  Your mind will become alert and observant.  Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced.  Your faith will be solidified."

I also believe that God uses the Holy Spirit to recall for us verses that we have memorized when we need them.....if they aren't there how can we recall them???? 

So, I'm choosing to arm myself with the Holy Word of God. 

Here are the verses that are suggested for this section and I am going to try to get them committed to memory this week. 

Psalm 119:105
Psalm 119:30
Psalm 19:8
Deuteronomy 6:6
Psalm 119:9-16

If you are looking to begin some scripture memorization, those verses are a good place to start.

See you soon :)

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

My Daily Action Plan

I'm a fan of schedules, routines and a plan for one's day.....as long as you don't become a slave to it.  We work better off of a scheduled routine for this phase of life and I thought I  would
share it with you and some thoughts about how I run our household (although some days I think it runs me!)

Wake @ 6 M-F  {This is how the sheet of paper I have my "action plan" on is notated....}

I do get up at 5:20 5 days a week to get Norman up but I lay back down until 6.
At 6 I put water on to boil, make some coffee and do my Bible reading (from Sunday school book), study (I am reading through the New Testament, I'm in 1 Peter right now) and any memory work I'm doing.  Right now I'm not personally working on any.  Suggestions?

On my paper it looks like this:
Wake @6:00 M-F
Bible reading, study, memory
EXPECT INTERRUPTIONS

There will be interruptions.  Norman leaves at 5:45.  I wake Lee at 6 before I sit down with my coffee.  I wake Greg at 6:30 and sometime in there Abby will wake up.  I can guarantee it.  I'm trying to train her to snuggle back in either her bed or ours and watch a little cartoons until 7.  This is a reminder to myself to roll with the punches.

@7 M-F
start laundry
shower

I try to do 2 loads of laundry every day.  If I have to work I do an extra 2 loads the day before or the day after.  I don't do laundry on Sunday unless it is an emergency.  I put the clothes in the washer and get in the shower.  Unless Abby has slept late she takes a shower with me.  When we get out I make breakfast (cereal, oatmeal, granola, pop tarts) for me and Abby.  By the time I am done with breakfast (and a 2nd or 3rd cup of coffee) the laundry is ready to go on the line.  I prefer to take it outside.  If I am fairly certain it will rain before 1 I dry it in the dryer but I would rather not.  I'm not sure how long I will keep that up when it is freezing though.  I check on the chickens and let them out to free range after I hang up the 1st load of laundry.

@8 M-S (Saturday)
Housework (routine +)

After hanging the laundry out I might take a few seconds to check facebook, then I get started on my cleaning routine.  If there are dishes from last night I do those, think about supper, and sweep the whole downstairs (picking up as I go).  If I haven't made my bed I do that now.  Depending on what my chores are for the day I might get them started now or I will do school prep (especially on Mondays).  I also hang out the 2nd load of laundry.

@9 M-F
homeschool

We try to start homeschool at 9.  If we are a little late that's ok.  We are using My Father's World K and Alphaphonics at this point and some little odd workbooks with Abby.  School takes about an hour. 

Lunch Prep
Lunch
Cleanup

When homeschool is done I decide what lunch will be and depending on the time I go ahead and fix it.  The littles and I like to eat lunch early, in between 10-11.  Lunch is usually canned soup, sandwiches or leftovers.  I don't always do the lunch dishes after lunch if there aren't very many but I do try to straighten up the kitchen afterwards with a mind to the rest of the day's plans.  Abby and I usually go check for eggs after lunch.

@12:00 M-S
Housework and laundry

It is doubtful that I finished the day's chores earlier so I do that now.  If I've been diligent with my list this won't take long.  Around 1:00 I bring in the laundry, fold it and put it away (except the boys, they all put their own laundry away - Bear now, Lee and Greg when they get home from school).

@1:00 M-S
Read aloud
Memory work (kids and Me)
school projects

We read all day.  I usually read a book after breakfast, after school, after lunch and any other time the kids can talk me into it.  I would say we average 10-15 books a day.  I will read several after my chores are done.  We are trying to remember to run through memory work again and if we have any outside stuff we want to do (we call it school stuff) we do it now as well. 

@2:00
My projects: sewing, knitting, reading, blog, baking

This is time I have scheduled for me.  I have a project list I will share that I am trying to work my way through but lately I've been sitting down with a good book.  :)  At this time I will do any baking I wanted to work on, kitchen prep work (making instant oatmeal packets, granola or frozen snacks for example) or errands.  On Mondays and Fridays we will often run errands during this time slot.

@4:00
Supper prep
supper
supper cleanup

This time slot is very fluid.  Bear has soccer practice on Monday evenings.  Greg has soccer practice on 2 nights a week and basketball conditioning on other nights.  Bear and Abby have awana on Wednesday night.  Sometimes Norman works till 8:30 p.m. Sometimes Norman goes to an auction on Tuesday nights.  Supper might be late (Monday), early (Wednesday) or not at all (some Tuesdays).  It seems we rarely manage to eat together.  This does bother me but it seems to be a season of life with bigs and littles (the littles can't wait until 8 for supper because they will be in bed!).  This is also why there are usually dishes in the morning.  If someone doesn't manage to eat supper until 8, I'm not likely to do those dishes then.  lol  I'm human! Around dark I go out, count chickens and lock them back in the pen for the night.  Norman and the older boys take care of the feeding and watering, although I could easily do the food.  The waterer is very heavy full.  I keep track and ask them to do it when it needs done.  I also take "chicken numnums" out throughout the day (kitchen scraps like stale bread, egg shells, leftover fruit, etc).

@7:00
my projects (see above)

I rarely sew this late because I need to concentrate, but I will knit while watching TV or blog.  If the kids have the TV I will read a book (and some to Abby)....if I'm really tired I will surf pinterest or facebook. 

I prefer to be in bed by 9 but that rarely seems to happen in this house! 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Homemaking Journal 9/14/13

I'm going to try and post every Saturday about the things that us homemakers must contend with throughout our days.  It might be a rambling post, or it might be meaningful....or both.  I just like reading what other homemakers are up to so I thought I would share also.  I can guarantee that this post will be rambling....lol

Sissy wanted to make cupcakes this week so we did.....butter recipe cupcakes with pink icing.  She is very impatient.  She mixed everything up as I added it and then I got the first 12 into cupcake liners (I only have 1 cupcake pan - we make do).  Into the oven, timer set....she almost immediately started in on when they would be done.  So we had school and sometime in there I took them out and put the 2nd pan in.....but they were hot.  It was like agony waiting for them to cool.  Finally pink cupcakes!  She was delighted. 

I love having my children help me in the kitchen.  Bear and Abby both love to mix, pour and stir.  Bear has learned how to make his own chocolate milk and  how to operate the microwave to warm up hotdogs (with supervision).  Both of them can make their own pbj sandwiches or ham and cheese sandwiches.  It's a process.  I love having helpers.

Norman helped me measure my living room windows so I would know how much yardage to buy to make curtains....we need 13 yards.  That's a lot of fabric.  Still cheaper than buying full length curtains so I'll be saving those pennies :)

I found a new shawl pattern I want to make.  It wraps around and then ties in the back so you don't have to hold it shut or pin it.  Looks very practical!  I am going to figure yardage this afternoon and plot out how I could do it in a larger gauge (because I have some bulky yarn that would be perfect - and keep me from wishing I had money to buy yarn to start the project, trying to be content and use what I have!).  The air was very crisp this morning so I think Sissy and I will be able to start using some of the things I've been knitting this summer.  And I need to knit a nice warm pair of slippers....the floor was cold this morning!

Laundry was on the line today, only one load....some teenagers haven't been bringing their dirty laundry downstairs promptly.  Not my problem.  I try to do 2 loads of laundry a day with the exception of Sundays (mom's day off) and Thursdays when I work.  This week I didn't work so I've done 2 loads of laundry every day but Thursday and today - 1 load each.  My clothesline holds 2 loads at a time so that works out well.  Remember, I've got 4 children, one of whom is in sports.  They seem to change clothes frequently while working outside after school.  I'm blessed that my dh wears uniforms to work but they provide cleaning for them.....otherwise I would have at least another load a week. 

I swept all the downstairs floors and cleaned the downstairs bathroom, did dishes, folded laundry (if I get it outside by 9, it is dry by 1) picked up my room and Abby's room, burned trash and balanced out the checkbook.  We went into town for a festival parade and spent 1.5 hours at the park.  The littles had fun!  I'm looking forward to knitting or reading or both.....and maybe a soak in the upstairs tub later....we will see.

Have a great weekend friends....I'm off to read to my sweet Abigail :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Good morning!

Good morning readers!

I hope that this beautiful day finds you all well.  We got a little rain yesterday.  Disappointing as I had to run the dryer rather than hang my wash out on the line but it was a bonus that laundry got done quicker!

I enjoyed school with the kids, some very light housework and then read for a while yesterday.  Alex Kava is my new favorite author.  I've read 3 of her book so far and will be definitely be reading through the rest of them that the library has.  Speaking of library, I just packed up the library books that we have read since Tuesday.....14 books :)  Not counting the one I'm returning.  Right now, I'm midway through The First Family:  Abigail and John Adams by Joseph J. Ellis.  It's a wonderful glimpse into the lives of a fascinating couple.  Even if their relationship wasn't steeped in such historical events, I love reading about families and relationships like that. 

I've been trying to stay away from facebook but that is easier said than done.  lol  I did go through my friends list and deleted a few people and I'm trying to spend only a short time morning and evening (I like to browse while stirring supper or waiting for the kids to take baths).  I've definitely freed up much more time and I'm very pleased about that.

We are getting new tires on the van today.  They are much needed.  I'll probably take the kids to the fall festival tomorrow, at least to watch the parade...probably only to watch the parade.  Soccer on Sunday.  I'm going to try to get some more pictures to go with the ones I took last week and include them in a post. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

MFW K Week 6

Good morning!

We are having another wonderful week of school here.  This week's theme is O for Octopus.  Many of our theme activities have revolved around an octopus, the ocean or God's variety in creation.  Have you ever thought about that?  God created the octopus!  Who would have come up with that?  I love it :)


Bear did mapwork yesterday!  Honestly, I pulled the map out of our weekly sheets and about had a heart attack!  I wasn't ready to try to teach mapping skills to a 5 year old.  We discussed oceans and land and then talked about where things were on the map (our home, China, hippos - the important stuff). 

Abby has been working on numbers and colors.  She can say her alphabet reliably, knows most of her colors and can count to 20 most of the time.  This week she hasn't done a lot because she hasn't shown a lot of interested and she's THREE so I don't force the issue.  She sits with us for Bible time, songs and takes part in any activities.  I've started matching upper and lower case letters with her (A, B and C with name recognition but it is very gently).  Here she was getting into her box with laurie puzzles and pegs. 

Abby is always involved in our read aloud times and honestly, I read to her more than Bear.  She has loved the books about Johnny Appleseed this week and was telling her dad all about everything she learned.  She also told him all about eyes (a book left over from 2 weeks ago).  She just soaks everything up like a sponge.

Last night was AWANA.  Abby got to go for the first time.  She is a Cubbie and Bear is a Sparkie.  Abby's little friend was there and she was soooo happy.  She was very disturbed that I was there to pick her up.  So we will add AWANA lesson work to our school time. 

Tomorrow I am packing a picnic lunch and we are heading out to Sam Parr for some fun and nature study.  I took pictures last week but didn't get them up here.  I'll try to do better.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Are Distractions as Dangerous as Demons?

In Luke 11:24-26 Jesus tells about what happens when an evil spirit leaves a person's body.  The body or spirit is left empty and if it isn't filled with good things then the evil spirit or demon will return and the person will be worse off than before.

We discussed this in Sunday school class a month or so ago and we discussed that when you come to know Christ you turn away from evil things, sin and then....what?  Shouldn't we fill our lives with good, Godly things?  Yes! 

How about those of us who have been Christians for a while.  I was raised in church, although I don't feel that I came to really know and understand the truths of Christ until I was a young married mom. 

My thoughts are that distractions in our lives can be just as dangerous as demons in that we lose focus on Christ and don't make time or room for the Holy Spirit to fill us and work in our lives. 

Demons overtake a person and fill them with evil.
Distractions fill time, take space and energy - that should be used for the glory of God.

Because I am distracted am I missing out on God's leading and the filling of the Holy Spirit? 

James 4:3-4
And even when you ask, you don't get it because your motives are all wrong - you want only what will give you pleasure.  You adulterers!  Don't you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God?  I say it again:  If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.  NLT

Revelation 3:20
"Look!  I stand at the door and knock.  If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends.  NLT

God is knocking on the door of my heart!  He wants me to make time, take time, make room for HIM!

What are some distractions for ME? 
TV, Facebook, worries (about life and what others think of me), books, magazines, internet, hobbies

**This is MY list.  Please don't feel that I am judging you!**

Now, lets take a look at my list. 
TV - there are some good things on TV, some ok things on TV and some horrible things on TV.  Even if I am watching a "good" thing, could I be doing something better? (serving somewhere, encouraging someone, reading/studying God's word)
Facebook - I spend a lot of time on facebook.  If it wasn't for facebook some days I wouldn't talk to an adult all day.  But that's no excuse.  There's a lot of trash on there.  Stuff I don't need to see or read.  And I probably post nonsense that I shouldn't (because I'm human too). 
Worries - Those are things that I need to give to God.  NOW!
Books - I try to  read decent books.  I love a good mystery.  I read a lot of non-fiction Christian books.  Couldn't my time be better spent reading the Bible?
Magazines - except for a few homeschooling, homemaking magazines (Eternal Encouragement, Keepers at Home, Practical Homeschooling) and my knitting, quilting magazines....mainstream publishing is trash.
Internet - Everyone knows there is a lot of trash on the internet.  I have a habit of surfing just to surf.  Not good.
Hobbies - I knit, garden, sew.....those are all good as long as they don't become an obsession.  I love to write but I need to be writing about good things.  Things that edify.  Sometimes that's a struggle.

Now that we have discussed my list of distractions, take a second and pray about the things that distract you.....

Is there a time and purpose for idle entertainment?  I think so, but not at near the frequency that we (myself included) tend to indulge.  God made us to WORK....if we are women he made us to work at home and for his kingdom.  God set aside one day as a day of rest, but lets make sure that our rest is really restful and not distracting from God's kingdom. 
Can some of the things (maybe all the things) I've listed above be used for God's glory?  Sometimes.  I'm sure we could go through the list and think of ways my distractions could be used to further the kingdom.  Am I using them that way?  Rarely. 
Can distractions take my focus off God?  Absolutely!  Even if something starts off to further the kingdom, sometimes it gets misled or lost.  Sometimes good intentions end badly.  It happens to everyone!  That's why it is important to regularly evaluate the purpose behind the things we do.  Each season of our lives is different and different things will be important at different times.  We/I need to seek God and make sure that our/my pursuits are lining up with His will for my life (and mine won't look like yours - we are unique!)

I Timothy 4:4-5
Since everything God created is good, we should not reject any of it but receive it with thanks.  For we know it is made acceptable by the word of God and prayer.  NLT

What does this mean for me?
Well, it means that other than to post a daily blog post (I'm trying to focus more on my actual writing and less on meaningless facebook status updates) and a quick check of email daily I won't be on the internet.  I am going to keep a list of things that I honestly need to check on (bank details) or research and do that on Saturday or Sunday but I am limiting my time.  If there isn't much on that list I may read some of my favorite blogs.  I'm probably going to avoid facebook for a time.  The bullying and hate that is passed around there is amazing and honestly I don't need it in my life right now. 
I'm also going to make time with God a priority.  I just started a study on Faith: Joseph's Journey by Sandra Lea Hardage (review coming soon) and am making time to work through that as well as my daily reading, study and Sunday school prep work.  The littles are starting Awana tonight so they will get some memory work and I'm going to work on it with them.  I've never been good at memory work and that is something I am committing to work on.
I'm going to try to spend time with people face to face.  I've been depending on this little black machine to control my interactions with people.  That's not good for me.  So that is a priority for me and the kids.
I'm still going to be reading, but I'm going to be putting limits on my daily pleasure reading (no more getting lost in a book until suppertime - at least not regularly!  lol)
I would go crazy if I quit knitting and since I make gifts and practical items I see the purpose in that hobby.  Actually limiting my time on the computer will make more time for that.  We need some curtains!!!!!

This is my journey.  I encourage you to step back and make sure that your path with God is heading in His direction.  Mine wasn't and I'm committed to getting it back on track. 

Please comment (if you are comfortable) with what distractions are filling your life and how you plan to refocus. 

Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Are Homeschoolers Part of the "Community"

This post is written partly as a response to a member of my community who implied that by choosing to homeschool rather than send our children to the "community schools" we were a lesser part of our community. 

Also, as part of full disclosure, for new readers, I feel the need to include the fact that my 2 older children do go to our "community" public school.  I am still homeschooling the younger two. 

Let's get started.

The above comment was written by someone in response to a discussion by 2 homeschoolers.  These friends of mine were commenting about the impact common core was going to have on homeschooling and the lack of critical thinking skills in public schools. 

I honestly feel that I learned more critical thinking skills in my first year homeschooling (preschool) than I ever did in 12 years of public school.  In our "community" school.

Here's the deal....a BIG deal....and public school proponents need to remember this.....if public schools were PERFECT parents wouldn't be pulling their students out in record numbers.  Trust me, homeschooling is not everyone's perfect job.  We make significant emotional, family and financial sacrifices to homeschool our children.  Some families struggle to make it on one income, some families homeschool on nights and weekends so both parents can remain employed.  Another thing that public school proponents need to remember is that homeschoolers are paying both ways.  We pay TAXES (against our will) to fund these wonderful public schools.  We then pay for homeschooling materials and outside classes for our children.  THEN we are turned away from public schools (that we pay TAXES to) when we desire to take part in their activities (in my case sports).  You see, my older 2 children are in public school now because they wanted to take part in sports.  In the great state of Illinois, you must be a FULL TIME student of a school in order to participate in their sporting activities.  So in order to participate in these activities (that my tax dollars are paying for) my children must attend their school.

Honestly, this has to be the biggest racket going.  If you don't see the absurdity in that then you need to stop reading because you aren't going to be able to keep up.  My children couldn't take part in activities that I pay for because I choose to take charge of their education.  Interesting, huh?

Now, the above facebook poster claims that I and my family are lesser parts of the community because I choose to take a large role in my children's education.  So are the elderly or single people in our "community" lesser parts because they don't have children attending these fantastic schools??  I'm just trying to figure this out.  I would have to assume that the way to be an integral part in my community is to volunteer and whole heartedly support our community schools.  Does volunteering as part of our local soccer program count?  That's not part of the school system.  {Our wonderful school system refuses to support a soccer program}  Does volunteering through our church not count as being an integral part of my community?  4-H participation?  Community classes?  Attending community events?  Shopping at community stores?  I thought those things made a person part of a community.  Not attending a community school.

I have listened for years about how wonderful the teachers/staff are at our community schools.  I would agree at least 90% of the time.  However, all teachers are not wonderful.  Some of these teachers have multiple complaints lodged against them, however they are still there.  Multiple complaints from multiple parents.  Everyone know who those teachers are.  And yet they are still there.  How is that for the best of the students?  How is that best for the community?  How is common core and dumbed down standards BEST for the students.  I have 2 students in that school.  How is this looking out for them?????

I attended these wonderful community schools as a child.  In THIS community.  In kindergarten I was forced to spend 30 minutes scrubbing crayon off the back of my chair.  Crayon that I didn't put on that chair but the teacher was convinced I did.  And I cried the whole time.  And the teacher ridiculed me in front of the whole class the whole time.  I was also demeaned because I needed to go to the bathroom that year.  I didn't use the restroom at school the whole rest of that year.  I was terrified of that teacher. 

In 3rd grade we had to take standardized tests.  My teacher convinced us that if we didn't do fantastic on those tests that we would be held back in 3rd grade.  I picked up some irritating habits that year (hair twirly, nail biting).....why would you put all that pressure on an 8 year old???

The next few years were ok.  Some better than others.  In 6th grade our math teacher decided that she was going to put us in groups, do our homework and tests together and then average our grades.  At the time I was an A student in math and although I didn't mind helping others, I did mind getting their grades.  My mother and some other parents managed to get that stopped quickly.  How about one of my high school math teachers that refused to actually teach the subject?  I was a good student but we still had to call another teacher several nights a week for help. 

I was not a student that caused trouble.  I never rocked the boat.  I didn't really want to be there at all.  Quiet.  Responsible.  Hardworking.  I can't imagine what the experience of those that didn't keep their heads down and their mouths shut was like.  I can't imagine how a teacher would treat my 5 year old that has ideas about everything and can't sit still for 30 seconds.  How would they manage him?    They wouldn't.  He would spend considerable time in the principles office, or off in a corner or in special classes.  He wouldn't get the education he deserves.  I'm not perfect but I have my children's absolute best interests at heart.  And before you jump my case, I'm sure there are teachers that have the student's best interests at heart but how are they going to manage with 30 students?  And what about the bad ones?  Because I know they are there.

I've had several teachers comment that my older children are well spoken, thinkers, willing to speak up for what they believe.  In case you didn't notice, they learned that from me.  At home. 

Now we struggle with poorly explained math assignments....busy work.....questionable reading material.....not exactly what I hoped for in my sons' education.  They eat lunch in an overcrowded lunch room (my 8th grader gets 5 minutes to eat his lunch).  The junior high has no library or dedicated "study lab" (he can't go to the school early, sit at a table or desk and work on homework or projects).  Trades classes were cut at the high school level and sports may take a hit next.  At that point there will be no valid reason for my children to be there.

Maybe these public school groupies need to focus more on why homeschoolers are homeschooling and less on attacking us for choosing the best for our children.  It seems they have a say in the process (at least they think they do).....us community serfs don't seem to.....that's why I homeschool. 

Saturday, September 07, 2013

Our 1st 4 Weeks with My Father's World K

Good evening!

I'm working on prioritizing some "momma" time and this blog is going to be one of those things (1. bible study, 2. exercise, 3. blogging, 4. reading, 5. knitting). 

I am severely delinquent in keeping up with our school stuff.  We started school the first Monday of Aug.  I don't remember the date (you are going to have to bear with me on this). 

I guess I should back up.  We started MFW K last year, January I think.  We worked through a few units, the creation unit and then I think units 1-5.  It was going ok, but I was having to push Bear a little and I didn't really want to do that so we just backed off.  It's ok to back off something if your child isn't ready!

Now, technically Bear is in kindergarten this year.  His late birthday would have only had him in preschool last year.  Even if he should have been in kindergarten last year I still wouldn't have pushed.  We might have worked on developing skills and review but I would not have pushed.  Pushing kids to do things they aren't ready for can really hamper learning later.  Trust me on this one.  There are a lot of FUN things that can be learned while skills develop and children grow in maturity. 

Back to planning:  I started where we left off and then scheduled 4 units, then a review week, 4 units, then a review week.  That way, if Bear was still struggling we could back off and go at a slower pace.  Scheduling this way also allows me to take time off without guilt.

Amazingly, Bear is just zipping through his work now.  We are finishing 4 days of work in 3 so moving at a quick pace through our worksheets.  I don't want to push to hard so I throw in review sheets when needed to keep him busy (and it reinforces the "I can do it" attitude).  I get the review sheets from little workbooks you can buy at Dollar Tree, Dollar General or Walmart.  I recommend Dollar Tree.  You can pick up the neatest things there!

We are 5 weeks in and finished with the first 4 units I had scheduled.  We are also working on Alphaphonics.  I wasn't sure if we would start it yet because I didn't want to push, but he was ready and is doing great.  He loves that he can read now!  CVC words right now but we are getting ready to do consonant blends :)

A lot of people ask about phonics programs.  I use alphaphonics.  It is cheap.  One reusable book.  I've had our copy for 11 years now.  It is falling apart, but useable.  If more review is needed I use Victory Drill Book. It is also reusable.  I don't use it as intended and am not using it with Bear at this point.  That can be another post.  I also love the phonics attributes of All About Spelling and would probably love their reading program.  I'm using what I've got :)  I used All About Spelling with the older boys and was amazed how much it helped their reading skills.  We will start that in 1st grade.  Back to Alphaphonics......on day 1 we read lesson 1.  We did it for a few days till I felt he was comfortable (I honestly think he had it memorized).  The next day after that we did lesson 1 and lesson 2.  The next day we did lesson 1, 2 and 3.  The next day we did lesson 2, 3 and 4.  We kept doing those 3 until I felt that he was comfortable with lesson 2, then we dropped it and added in the 1st half of lesson 5.  At this point we are doing lesson 4 and all of lesson 5.  I think on Monday we will add in lesson 6 and see how he does (consonant blending).  We continue on this way, at the students pace, until the book is done.  Sometimes we spend a lot of time on 3 lessons, or I drop one but don't pick a new one up.  You will know what is best.  Don't push.

We read a lot.  I tried ordering the reading suggestions from the library online, but either my computer doesn't like their system or their system doesn't like me....I couldn't get it to work.  Now I take my list to the library every week and they order for me.  It is hand written.  2 lines for each book (title/author) with a line in between each book.  About 20-25 books a week.  The librarian looked at me like I had grown 3 heads but doesn't even batt an eye now, cause we are bringing them back as fast as she can get them ordered (I also check out 1-2 books for myself per week and allow each kid 5 books and 1 movie apiece, each week).  What the librarian doesn't understand is that we read each of those 40 some books each week and sometimes more than once.....and we also have an extensive library here at home.  We read ALOT.

We are going to spend several days this fall at our local state park.  I think it will help all of us to smooth the transition to school, especially to see the leaves change color.  It is beautiful there!  We took a picnic lunch Friday and enjoyed some time at the lake and playground.  Good memories!

Abby is working on colors (she's about got them), shapes (almost got them also), number recognition and letter recognition.  We also do the songs, rhymes and Bible stuff together.  She picks up a lot of things from read alouds and her speech is improving....slower than I would like but it is improving. 

I'm really pleased with how this year is going :)  I'm in a good place with homeschool.  I've done it long enough now not to be pushy and stressed.....it really is a short period that we get to be with these kids....it goes fast.  Enjoy it!

Friday, September 06, 2013

Review: Get Real: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask by Jamy Whitaker

***I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew.

A popular topic in homeschool circles, at least around here, is "keeping it real".  As far as I can tell that involves sharing our daily struggles, fears, disappointments with a support network or social media contacts.  I do it, my friends do it......but honestly, other than venting our frustrations (and doesn't that make all of us feel better??) are we really accomplishing anything?

I put a "pity party" facebook post up today.  I was really struggling this morning.  The list of reasons why is long and not really pertinent to the current task but lets just say that life isn't fair.  Right? 

When sharing my pity party on facebook what was my desired outcome?  Honestly, I wanted someone to tell me to hitch up my big girl panties and get on with it.  I wanted someone to say that they've been there and lived to tell the tale.  And several friends did.  Mission accomplished.

I wonder though, sometimes, what the world would be like if we were REAL all the time?  What would that take?  How would God use me if I didn't strictly control my world and others perception of it?

Good question.

I was asked to review a new book by Jamy Whitaker, Get Real: Stop Hiding Behind the Mask. 

This book is deep.  Jamy covers everything.  She starts by explaining why we put the mask on to begin with.  This part was painful for me.  First, I wanted to pretend I wasn't wearing a mask.  Second, if we allowed that I am "putting up a front" then why am I doing that???  Ok, I waded through my past and you probably should too.

Next, we explore why keeping the mask is wrong.  Hmmm.  I was kinda thinking about keeping mine.  I built it, I should be able to use it!  Right?  Wrong :(  So, we go through all the ways that God can't use you, can't use me, if we are wearing our mask.   I want to be used by God!  Isn't that why I'm here??? 

Now, we know we've got a mask; we know that we shouldn't be wearing it.  Jamy walks us through how this information can affect our lives.  How it should cause us to change. 

Like I said, it's deep.  In the back of the book are Bible study questions, making this perfect for a small group. 

As painful as it was, I'm glad that I've got this information, I'm glad that I've taken a good, hard look at myself and can see myself how God wants to see me.  Isn't that the best place to be?  I think so too.

You can check this book out at Amazon for $3.99 if you've got a kindle or $11.33 in paperback.  Or visit Jamy at www.jamywhitaker.org

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Cause to Be Thankful by Yolanda Shanks

Not too long ago I had the opportunity to review another Yolanda Shanks books (Not Just a Hearer but a Doer). What a wonderful little book!

I was thrilled to have the opportunity to review this book: A Cause to be Thankful, part of the Destined to Live, Despite Me series. 

I learned a little bit about Ms. Shanks in this book.  She is a suicide survivor.

I stopped reading right there. 

You see, my best friend committed suicide 22 years ago.  For several years afterwards I contemplated the same path.  I don't know why I never did it, but I'm sure God had a plan for me.  I've struggled with debilitating depression at times since then.  I've read a lot of books on the subject, and hope to seek out some more of Ms. Shanks thoughts on the subject.

Once I processed where she was coming from, I dove into the book.  The scriptural foundations are deep and they are solid.  Throughout the whole book I've been underlining, highlighting, and notemaking.  There is so much good stuff in this little book!  You just about can't believe it.  There is a whole chapter detailing the road to salvation, making this book the PERFECT thing to use as an outreach to those who haven't made Christ their Saviour!

Do you need to learn to be grateful, thankful for every single thing God has done for you?  I think we all do!  I encourage you to seek out this resource and illuminate your life in a way that will be pleasing to God.

A Cause to be Thankful is available from Yolanda Shanks at her website and at Amazon for $10.89

If you want to read more about Yolanda Shanks' resources, be sure to check out her website at www.yolandashanks.com



Sunday, August 04, 2013

2013-2014 School Year

It is that time of the year again!!!!  School Time!!!

Here is my rundown this year:
Leland, (will be on 8-9) 16, junior at NCHS
Gregory, 13, 8th grade at JCJH
Norman (Bear), 5, kindergarten at home
Abby, 3, prek at home

So, this year, I'm starting over.  Back where I was 11 years ago.  The spacing is a little different because Bear has a late birthday.  Where Lee and Greg had 2 grades between them, Bear and Abby will only have 1.  I'm not yet sure how that will work out in the long run.  THIS year, we are using MFW K.  We started last year but life happened so we didn't get much done.  I've spread what we do have left over the year, adding time off to studying things like Pilgrims and Indians at Thanksgiving and Presidents in January. 

The "learning" focus will be on Bear this year.  In addition to the core we will be adding Alphaphonics for reading.  Sometime this year I will also get Singapore math level K or 1 (haven't decided yet). 

Abby will be learning right along with us.  In addition I will be adding units that will focus more on her skill levels from places like 1+1+1=1 to give her repetitive skills practice.  Bear will also get to work on some of this stuff depending on his interest and whether it would actually be useful for him to do. 

Our read alouds will be plentiful and we will be exploring the nature that is around us.  I'm hoping to add a trip to Lincoln Log Cabin soon so that they can get some hands on history in. 

It's here....we start tomorrow :)  Check back and see how we are doing!

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Here We Are

We moved :)

I would say that you missed me but I'm so sporadic with posting that I doubt you noticed.  About 6 weeks ago we moved back out into the country.  We spent the 6 weeks before that sprucing up the house we were moving to....we did total room painting, laid new floors in the kitchen and downstairs bath and completely redid the downstairs bathroom.  We also ripped up all the downstairs carpet and refinished the hardwood floors that were underneath.

It is an old farmhouse with lots of character and a beautiful front porch.  I love to sit out there in the afternoons and evenings.

The house came with a cat :)  She has since had 6 kittens. 

We acquired 25 chickens.  We have had 4 for meals :)  We are getting an egg a day but are hoping soon that more will start laying.  The 2 rooster we plan to keep I named Simon and Garfunkel.  The boys don't get it but that's ok.  Abby checks for eggs every morning, she has a little egg gathering basket and everything.  I got mudboots.  My very own pair.  I look very stylish in them :)

School will be starting here on Monday.  That's for another post.  I hope to share more of that journey as we go along. 

And that's that.  My computer died so I have to borrow one from the boys.  Money is tight so I have no idea when I will be back on my own.....I'm going to post when I can :)  I've got lots of post ideas on my phone app.  So there will be lots coming up.  Hang with me :)

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Brinkman Adventures - REVIEW

***I received these products for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Gabby Moms review program.***

I LOVE audio products.  It started with Jonathan Park and then Odyssey....books on tape.....I am thrilled to be able to use otherwise "wasted" drive time to educate and encourage my family.



I jumped at the chance to review the Brinkman Adventures and boy was I not disappointed.  These stories are RIVETING!  You just almost can't stop listening - like sit in the driveway for several minutes waiting for an episode to end....yep, that's us!  All of my children, myself and my husband too love to listen to these stories that combine a fun-loving family and true missionary stories.  We learn about family dynamics, character training and Biblical truths while going from point A to point B.  GREAT stuff!

These are high quality recordings :)  I know that shouldn't matter if the story is good, but it really does. 

Would you like to listen yourself?  You can do that here.   They operate on a donation basis so you can download the episodes on the site or order physical CD's. If you can't afford but want to listen, you just need to ask.  How cool is that????  Very cool!

YOU can win a set of the first 6 CDs July 1-6 from Lorrie Flem at Eternal Encouragement.  Don't forget to enter and maybe your family can enjoy these stories as much as mine is! 



Reading Kingdom - REVIEW

***I received this program for free in exchange for an fair review as part of the Gabby Moms review program.***

Today's review item is Reading Kingdom.  I've discussed before my dislike for web-based reading programs so I won't go into that again.  With that said, they must be very special to get this mommy's approval.

Designed for children ages 4-10, this program claims that it will help your children read at a 3rd grade level. 

We didn't use it that long.  lol 

I will say that at this short season of my life (moving), this was a blessed product to review.  Bear could work on reading and I could feel that I was helping to contribute to his education while I packed.

To begin, the student takes a series of assessment tests.  The program is very easy to use.  You can choose a "virtual" keyboard from the screen or use the keyboard on your computer.  Bear had no problem using it (Bear is 5.5).  After the assessment, the program determines at what sequence to start the student. 

While colorful, the graphics aren't perfect.  The voice kinda got on my nerves after a while, but Bear didn't seem to mind it, and I could be hyper-sensitive (since I'm on a tight rope anyway).  Progress reports are sent to my email so I can see how he is doing (I loved this part since I don't sit with him while he plays) and I can always access the program if I feel I need to.....I didn't. 

Bear asks to play the game so that is a big plus.  I would encourage you to go to www.readingkingdom.com and enroll for a free 30 day trial because I am unusually hard on games like this. 

Also, from June 24-28 you can go to Lorrie Flem's blog - Randy's Rib to register to win a free 6-month subscription.  That would give YOU lots of time to try it out. 

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Moving

Good morning blogland!  I hope that this beautiful morning finds all of you well, happy and in touch with our Lord and Saviour.  Mornings are a good time to do that, yes?  I think so.

Anyway, I feel like my blog has become reviews only and I'm sure many of you are getting sick of it but I've got so much going on that I'm only doing what I have to.  Please know that in a few weeks I have lots of fun stuff planned.  I can't wait!

So what have we been up to?  Packing, priming, painting, sanding, staining, redoing, packing, moving.....that's it!  In addition to the regular working, running, housekeeping.  We are moving back to the country.  A cute farmhouse down a 1/4 mile lane.  We can have critters (pets/livestock).  The house was in need of some TLC so we agreed to work on it.  When we started we had 6 weeks.  I thought 6 weeks was a long time.  Wrong!  lol  It's not going to be done but some of it is so we will take what we can get.  Honestly, everything but some painting (3 rooms) and some cosmetic issues (trim) will be done.  Considering what we started with I think we did pretty good.

We started in the kitchen.  Dismantled the cabinets, tore up the nasty linoleum.  Everything got new paint and then Norman put down new flooring.  Kitchen - done.  Bathroom was in pieces to begin with.  Norman took out what was left.  Reinstalled the shower, new sink, reinstalled the toliet.  New paint on the walls, new flooring, everything sealed up....still needs the trim.  Dining room and living room have new paint on the walls.  Still working to paint the trim.  4 rooms of hardwood floors downstairs (living room, dining room, our room, abby's room) sanding, stained and 1 coat of poly on.  1 more coat of poly tonight and then they need to dry.  The carpet that was originally over the hardwood was stained badly.  We were going to just live with it for a while but we couldn't get the fleas out of it so one day I showed up out there to work and the carpet was gone.  lol  Our room and Abby's room still need paint on the ceilings, walls, and trim.  Upstairs the hardwood is in decent shape.  The upstairs bathroom needs new flooring (someone patched a hole and did a terrible job) but that can wait a bit.  Lee didn't mind the paint in his room (light brown/dark brown) so I just touched it up.  It's done.  Greg hated the baby blue that was on his walls so we did a reverse of Lee's colors (dark brown/light brown).  I hope to finish the trim today and then that room will be done.  Bear's room is also baby blue.  He wants green with brown trim.  I have his room primed but not painted.

Norman has also fixed some water lines, jacked up a sagging floor and replaced the guttering.  He has worked his butt off. 

Every time we have went out there this week we have taken a load of our belongings.  They are being placed in a 2 car garage.  When the floor has cured we will start moving things in.  Still lots of packing/moving to do but we are on the final stretch.  Then I will need to clean this place and turn in the keys. 

It will be so worth it to be back out in the country.  My guys do better in their element.  I don't regret our moving to town.  Not at all.  It served a purpose and was a gift from God.  However, it will be nice to be back out in the country.  Norman has already fixed up the chicken pen and they will be coming in a week or so.  I think we will need a house cat :) and a cute little dog but that will come later. 

I've got 2 more reviews to get done before we lose this internet (I don't know how long it will take to get new internet set up).  Bear with me a bit and then we will get some fun stuff started.  Love ya all!
Carie

Friday, June 21, 2013

Medieval History Memory Game - REVIEW

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Mosaic Review program.***

I love history!  Unfortunately, for the most part, my children do not.  That's a bummer.  Traditionally, history has been learned in one of 2 ways....1. boring facts memorized and then forgotten  2.reading about the events and characters in living books (my fav!)

Recently there has been an influx in another way to learn about history.....GAMES!  Why not?

The Classical Historian has created and published history curriculum and games for grades prek-12.

We were blessed to receive the Medieval History Memory Game.  I have to admit that as much as I love history, I'm not very good at anything earlier than 1700 or so.  The cards are very high quality and just the right size for little hands.  You can play the game as a traditional memory game or as a category matching game.  So the game grows with you children!  The illustrations are top notch and a pleasure to look at.

Bear, Abby and I have played several times and I am surprised at the things that we have all learned and the discussions that have been sparked because of our "play".  Neat stuff!

You can get this from The Classical Historian for $14.95.  While you are there, not forget to check out their other great looking resources. I doubt that you will be disappointed :)

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: Everyday Matters Bible for Women NLT

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew***

What if I told you that I found a Bible study ( 24 actually) and an easy to read Bible all in one handy cover? 

Would you believe me?

I did :)

I have to say that NLT is my favorite translation ever (and I was a die-hard KJV user).  This is the 3rd Bible I have in NLT and it is so easy to read.

What's so cool about this Bible you ask?  Well, let me tell you!

First off, it is hard back, but smaller than my Life Application Study Bible.  The type is easier to read (I think it is a tad bigger) than my LASB.

24 topics or "spiritual practices" (as the editors call them) are covered in this Bible.  Sprinkled throughout are studies on such topics as:
Acceptance
Confession
Forgiveness
Mentoring
Sabbath and Rest
Solitude
 
I just chose 6 of the 24 to highlight.  Now these topics are covered in 4 different ways via:
Everyday Matters
Everyday Profiles
Everyday Reflections
Everyday Q&A's


In the back of this Bible there is an index of sorts to help you organize your study.  All you need is this Bible and you can have a focused time in God's word.  I love it!

The only downfall of this Bible that I can see is that it doesn't have a concordance, topical reference or dictionary.  I find those useful for Sunday School class.  Otherwise, this Bible is just about perfect! I'm thinking of using my Life Application Bible for church services and this Bible at home. 

Everyday Matters Bible for Women is available on Amazon for $26.24 (much cheaper than my LASB I have to say).

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

For Women Only - For Men Only Review and GIVEAWAY

***I received these products for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Gabby Moms review program.***
I had the pleasure to receive this book (and the one following) recently.  Now, I have read all the Christian how-to-be-a-good-wife books.  ALL of them.  Many of them were very helpful.  THIS book is completely different and VERY helpful! 

For Women Only: What You Need to Know About the Inner Lives of Men by Shaunti Feldhan is a comprehensive book about MEN.  Not how to be a better wife, persay, but how men work and what you can do with that information to benefit your marriage.  Shaunti surveyed THOUSANDS of men (Christian, non-Christian, married, unmarried) and then compiled statistical data about how they feel about many situations.  Not just how they feel, but how they react and WHY.  I WISH I had this little gem 17 years ago.

Now, I know a lot of you are saying "why should I change?".  Let me clue you into something....you can only change you.  You can't change anyone else.  This book gets results if you implement Shaunti's suggestions, even with no changes from your boyfriend/husband at all.

HOWEVER, Shaunti and her husband Jeff Feldhahn went a step further and wrote For Men Only: A Straighforward Guide to the Inner Lives of Women.  Using the same procedures for the this book; talking to married women, un-married women, Christian and non-Christian women the Feldhahn's have discovered why women tick the way we do and what men can do about it. 

All these years my husband has tried to convince me that I was "different" and what I felt was wrong or abnormal......however, I fell right into the common group of women!  Ha!  I knew I couldn't be so different.  Jeff makes women completely understandable!  See we aren't so difficult :)


You can get the kindle versions of these books for $9.99 on Amazon right now.

Wanna watch a video of Shaunti?  Here ya go!

Lorrie Flem is giving away a copy of the DVD set of the For Only series....check out her blog at Randy's Rib to enter from June 17-21st.

Need more encouragement?  Sign up for Lorrie's free newsletter HERE.

NOW:  I have a set of these books to giveaway.  I don't have any idea what to do with Rafflecopter or any of those things so please comment to my blog if you want to enter and I will randomly choose a winner at 5 p.m. Sunday June 23.  Easy???  LOL

Review: Not Just a Hearer But a Doer by Yolanda Shanks

***I recieved this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the CWA Review Crew.***
 
 

 
Please let me introduce you to Yolanda Shanks:

 
 
She is the author of this wonderful little Bible study, Not Just a Hearer But a Doer: Deliberately Living Life Devotional Study.
Lately I've just been reading a chapter from my Bible every day.  I'm in 1 Timothy now.  And that's good.  Way better than nothing and I'm getting a lot out of it.  Sometimes I need some direction though and I was so blessed to receive this book.  I'm on Day 8, so not finished, but far enough that I can see the impact Yolanda's teaching is having in my life. 
I know you are busy, so am I.  Moving, remember?  That's why this devotional is so perfect.  The lessons are short.  1 a day.  Take less than 10 minutes but PACKED with powerful teaching and suggestions for changes that I can make in my life.  The scriptures are in the devotional so that means you can stick it in your bag and go, fully equiped to learn about God wherever He takes you that day. 
 
Each day is broken into 7 short parts:
Introduction
Observation (scripture)
Background (of the above scripture)
Interpretation
Application
Additional Memory Scriptures
Blank Space to Personalize Today's Scripture Text
 
Today's lesson was on Shutting Our Lips. The scripture is Psalm 141:3.  That's all I'm giving away :)  I think that we can all agree that this is an area we need to conquer (or at least diligently work on) if we are going to deliberately live our lives for God.  I know I do!
 

This is volume 1.  I am sure the rest of the volumes will be as useful.  Not Just a Hearer But a Doer is available on Amazon for $10.83 with free shipping!  You can visit with Yolanda on facebook. 

Friday, June 14, 2013

How Do We Know God is Really There? REVIEW

***I received this book for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Mosaics Homeschool Review team.***

We are in the midst of a move.  We are remodeling our new house before we move.  We are certifiably crazy.  CRAZY crazy.  That's us.

Anyway, I'm spending 90% of my time either at the "new" farmhouse cleaning/painting or at the "old" townhouse packing.  The other 10% of my time I'm squeezing in home management duties (laundry and groceries anyone?), blogging and AVON work. I am crazy.  Or will be by the time this is over.

Finding time to spend with the littles is hard but I'm trying to make sure they know that I'm still here, although a little less sane, so I try to take a book to the farmhouse when we go and after our picnic lunch on the porch I read a bit.  When I received How Do We Know God is Really There? I threw it into the bag. 

This is a very cute, illustrated children's book.  It weaves common "kid" questions with well-thought-out answers, a little bit of science and a lot of love.  We LOVE it.  I couldn't have possibly explain how the universe began in any better way. 

I am encouraged at the end by Psalm 19:1 (The heavens declare the glory of God and the skies proclaim the work of His hands.) and how the author encourages us to learn more about the universe so that we can have more reasons to believe in our wonderful Creator. How cool is that????

Written by Melissa Cain Travis, illustrated by Christopher Voss and published by Apologia (the science people), this book is available from Apologia for $16....a great educational value for such a nice hardbound book. You won't regret it :)

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Menu List June 1-15

Every 2 weeks I sit down and consider our meals for the next 2 weeks.  I really wish that I could somehow streamline this process.  For a while I did this for a month and I really liked that.  Maybe after we move I will go back to that method (especially since the grocery store won't be quite so close). 
Anyway, I try to choose 14 main dishes.  That allows for an occassional night or 2 each pay period that we can eat leftovers.  And by we, I mean me and the littles, usually on a night that dh is working a double shift and the older boys are gone.

Breakfast
cereal, oatmeal or something leftover in the fridge (lasagna, anyone? That's what I had yesterday morning.)  I've been having a pbj sandwich because the protein keeps me going longer.  If I can swing it in the budget I buy greek yogurt and granola for me.  I'm going to start making my own granola. That can be a later post.

Moving on.

Lunch
pbj sandwiches (The littles usually have either peanut butter or jelly but rarely both together.  I don't know why...they are weird)
Grilled cheese sandwiches
lunchmeat
leftovers

Supper
Tacos
Corn dogs
baked potato bar
hot dogs - probably grilled
cheeseburgers - also on the grill
BBQ ribs
spaghetti
pizza - homemade
BLTs
ham and cheesy noodles
jambalya
pancakes/waffles
sausage gravy and biscuits
chicken and veggies

SIDES:  I usually only choose the main dishes....I just buy some sides and I pick what we are having when I start cooking.  This time I will get french fries, mac and cheese, carrots, corn and some frozen veggies.  We also have lots of potatoes so could have fried potatoes, mashed potatoes, etc.  When the garden starts producing we will have zucchini, okra, etc.

Snacks
Fruits
Zucchini bread
Oatmeal cookies
Chocolate chip cookies

I spread the baking out over 2 weeks.  The fruit will be real lucky to make it 3 days after purchase.  My kids are fresh fruit hounds.  So then I start baking.

I'm going to start working on new menu ideas and mix making over the next few weeks.  With moving I'm not sure how much of that I will get done, but I really need to tighten the belt so it is just going to have to get done. Please share favorite recipes!  My guys are kinda picky and my dh is a real "meat and potato"man so it is hard.  Right now I need fast, or slow cooker easy.  Some days I leave to work at the "new" house early and don't make it home till just an hour before the kids need to go to VBS.

Because someone always asks, I am working with a $200 grocery/household supply budget (twice a month).  The above meals will come out of that as will trash bags, baggies, tide, dawn and toliet paper.  I get our tolietries from AVON and use my earnings for that.  I shop at Aldi mainly, IGA for our meat and sometimes Walmart but only if I am desperate (my yogurt, pizza sauce).  I am feeding me, my husband, 2 teenage boys, a 5 year old boy and a 3 year old girl.  Some days, Abby can outeat everyone else at the table.  We also average 1 extra teenager per day, although they usually show up 2 or 3 at a time.  I love these kids and don't mind feeding them one little bit!  That's also another place that ready-made snacks come in handy....they are great meal stretchers!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Recent Reading

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn
Excellent read!  Not the easiest thing that I've ever read, but I will say one of the best books. I just don't know how to describe it....for me that's saying something.  I linked you back to Amazon there above so go check it out. 

Two Graves by Preston and Child
I'm thinking that maybe this is a book about Detective Pendergast and I've kinda started in the middle of a serious but I'm still able to keep up and it is riveting.  I LOVE a good mystery.  Might finish it tonight so I decided to go ahead and include it here.  I've read something by Lincoln Child before but I can't think of the name of it......well, upon looking at some of his other books I believe I have some on the kindle waiting for me so that is why he is familiar.  I will definately be moving them to the top of the list.  I can't wait to read more about Detective Pendergast!



Friday, May 10, 2013

Waterproof Bible

***I received this product for free in exchange for a fair review as part of the Mosaics Review team.
 
 
After Bike Camp last fall Greg brought home an interesting Bible, a Waterproof Bible (his was NIV and camo) so I was a little familiar with this product.  When told I would be reviewing it, I was figuring I would get camo, but look!  I got pink :)  They have tons of other styles/versions/colors available (including a full Bible).  This one is priced at $24.95.
 
 
So, what's so cool about this Bible you ask?  Well, aside from being waterproof, it is practically indestructible.  The littles have wallowed it all around church and after the 1st couple of times of reminding them that is was a Bible so be careful, I let them go (for review purposes only lol) and they haven't managed to put so much as a dent in it. 
 
 
I dumped tea on it with absolutely no ill effects.  It got lipstick on it (I keep it in my purse - did I mention it is purse sized???) and it wiped right off. No page curling, no staining.   No problemo. 
 
 
Did I mention it is the perfect size to fit into your purse or backpack?  Its a little heavier then a pocket Bible but the pages are made out of some kind of plastic stuff so you can expect that.  It is much lighter than my full sized Bible.
 
 
Greg's camo version lived in the van for a few weeks and still looks like the day he brought it home (nothing comes out of that van after an extended period of time without some damage - except this Bible). 
 
 
I cannot say enough good things about this product.  I am considering getting these for Bear and Abby's first Bibles because they are so indestructible (I'm not giving mine up btw).  

Made by Bardin and Marsee Publishing, these things are made to be used by anyone that wants to take the word on the go, wherever they go.