Saturday, December 25, 2010

Noel's picks

This Christmas has been anything but typical!  We celebrated and exchanged gifts on December 22nd.  My husband went into the hospital for a planned surgery on the 23rd (at 5:30 AM!).  We were supposed to be home by now, but here I sit!

I've been blessed to have both of our families in town loving on the kids, so I've been able to stay here at the hospital to help take care of him and talk with the doctors and nurses.  He's been getting quite a bit of rest, so I've had plenty of "down time".  I'm so glad I brought my laptop, but after all the crafty browsing I've done, I wish I'd brought my sewing machine too!

I've been posting links and pics to my (personal) Facebook page all day, and I thought I'd share a few of them here as well!  I hope that you enjoyed your Christmas and are looking forward to the new year.  I'll be "off radar" for a while, as Aaron Thomas Giger (our fifth child!) will be joining us on or before December 30th!

So, here are the picks of my day of surfing!
Insect Finger Puppet

Hip Hip Hooray for the Holidays

Lotus Flower Tutorial
Bath Apron Tutorial

Free Diaper Bag Tutorial
 Recipe for Coconut Breaded Chicken
(my 12 year-old's favorite food!)

Patchfolio from CraftApple - love the fabric!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SAT/ACT Vouchers Available for Home School Students

Home-schooled students in grade 11 are eligible for *ONE *college entrance examination at the state's expense as part of the TCPP [Texas College Preparation Program]. Vouchers for home-schooled students will be distributed directly by the TEA. Students and/or parents can request a voucher by e-mailing the TEA

and putting "Home School Voucher Request" as the subject line. Vouchers will be distributed to home-schooled students on a first-come, first-served basis, beginning in early January, 2011.

For further information, you can visit the TEA's website.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Some giveaways you should visit :)

Home Grown Families is doing a HUGE Christmas Giveaway!

Ending today:

Ending Soon!

Raising Homemakers is gving away an Audio Book series:

10 Million Miles is giving away 2 great books (great for Homeschool or Christmas gifts!)

Good Luck!

Friday, November 12, 2010

LRH - Thoughts on Social Interaction

I receieved the following question via a Yahoo group for HSing:
"I'm a former elementary school teacher, so I feel comfortable with the teaching part of homeschooling. But I am concerned about the social aspect of it. So I'm trying to find local homeschooling groups and clubs to get my kids involved with.  ...  And the more research I do on homeschooling, the more I realize that it's what's best for all of our kids."
I think it's wonderful that she's decided to HS!  Here is the response that I gave reguarding the social aspect of homeschooling:

As a HS grad myself (nearly 20 years ago) and a HS parent – my standard response to the “social question” is: “We used to have trouble with our socializing, but we’ve buckled down and have it under control now!” One of the biggest responses you’ll hear from HSers is that traditional classrooms are an artificial social environment. It is the only time in your life you’ll be with people who are exactly your age! A MAJOR benefit of HS is that our kids are learning to interact with all age groups, play with their own siblings and other friends’ siblings, both younger and older. In fact, I’ve had people tell me “I can tell your (11 YO child) is HS, because he plays so well with his 2 YO brother”. Proud momma moment!

We lean toward unschooling and natural learning, so it isn’t a leap for us to also seek organic social activities. For us this means:
  1. family
  2. church
  3. outside sport/enrichment activities
  4. community/charity involvement

 We have not yet joined any HS coops, although many HS friends swear by them! It can be another “artificial environment” if it is the only social club you belong to. We value diversity and welcome the opportunity (most of the time!) to discuss the choices that people make and the consequences therein. Another reason I’ve eschewed the coop route is that they can create immense pressure (especially on new HSers) to “measure up” and “do it right”. There are many wonderfully organized HS parents out there, many with large families, who serve as encouragement and examples. It can be intimidating, though, to those who have other styles for their HS.
Welcome to the wonderful world of HS – You have a great journey ahead of you! I always try to remember that if something doesn’t work, I didn’t fail, the method did. It helps keep me (mostly) sane.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A brief update (well I intended to keep it brief!)

I have been quite busy the last week since I posted.  Over the weekend we commemorated the 4th anniversary of Ian's death with a trip to the graveside, a balloon release and dinner at Buca di Beppo.  The waiter asked if we were celebrating anything.  After a brief pause, my husband said "yes, we're celebrating the life of our son." Then just watched silently as the waiter fumbled a bit, recovered and took our drink orders!

We miss you little man!

Also this weekend I got my first fundraiser started with my Gold Canyon candle business.

This required a trip to historic Waxahachie, Texas and my alma mater, SAGU!  It was homecoming weekend and the townfolk rolled out the red carpet for the visitors with a slew of garage sales!  I got this beauty:

It's an Art Deco metal cabinet, a broom closet or janiter's closet.  I've spent a lot of time researching and haven't found anything like it!  Anyone have any ideas?  There is a label on the front which has been painted over:

(I adjusted the contrast to try to make it easier to see)  It says "LFC Universal" which I believe stands for Landers, Frary & Clark

Most of the rest of my time has been spent packing, cleaning, painting and preparing for my upcoming candle shows. 

I did win several things in the last few days though!  A friend hosted a FB contest on hre personal page and I won a CD. 

Then I won "At The Well"'s monthly giveaway for October, a CD from Abe and Liza Philip: God's Word from A-Z. 

Then this morning, I found out I won a free copy of the (already affordable) Thanksgiving planner from The Christian Homekeeper Network!

Which served to remind me that I owe a special order necklace like this one:
to the September At The Well winner!  The only catch?  I've already PACKED all 50+ of my vintage hymnals!  So, now I have to go shopping.

And now a few prayer requests:
Please keep my Father in Law, Wayne, in your prayers.  His lung cancer is back and he will be starting radiation therapy today.  It should last 6 weeks, at which time my husband is scheduled to have back surgery.  His recovery is supposed to be 3-4 weeks, which bumps up nicely against the due date for our latest blessing.  Somewhere in between all of that, we're supposed to paint our house (inside and out), list it to sell, have Christmas and celebrate 2 birthdays.  Oh, and the kids are in a Christmas play at church and I volunteered to coordinate the Gospel for Asia tree in the church foyer.  Needless to say, we are very grateful that we've embraced UNSCHOOLING, since that's all I can handle right now!  LOL

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I can't keep on...

You know, sometimes you read something that just seems like you could have written it yourself!  That's how I felt when I read Loralee Choate's blog today "Discouraged: I just don't know if I can keep homeschooling"

I thought I'd repost my comment to her over here (for those of you who have been following my HS journey)

This is our second year HSing, but I was HS graduate myself 20 years ago, so I've been in the HS "culture" for a while.

One thing that I have learned is that I HAVE to lead from my strengths. I tend to try to spend a lot of time improving my weak areas (I'm a project kinda girl!) and then feel really discouraged because I fail miserably! When I "go with the flow" of what I AM good at, my life is much more simple.

Another thing that I have let go of is the idea of a "perfect" homeschool, how things "should be done" and the pursuit of doing it like someone else (those "awesome" HS families out there!) Don't get me wrong, I'm not opposed to reading their methods, being inspired by their passion and ideas, etc. I'm not against self-improvement! It's just more about taking what others are doing and making it fit into YOUR home, not trying to make your home fit into someone else's system!

A big mistake I made last year was trying to do school at home, instead of thinking about what worked for my family. This year, we've taken the lead into the scary world of "unschooling" and are all much happier (even though some days it terrifies me - my son might be in your basement too one day ;) LOL)

The very best peice of parenting advice that I ever received was "the fact that you worry about whether you are doing a good job as a parent MAKES you a good parent. Bad parents never wonder because they don't care!" I try to translate that advice into my homeschool too.

Will there be gaps? Will I screw up? YES. There would also be gaps and problems with public school, charter school, even private schools. It's really hard as a HS parent because you CARE SO MUCH. I'd love a good day of ignorant bliss where I don't worry about it, but I guess that would move me toward the bad parent category. I guess for now I'll just agonize and trust that my children will learn more by accident than I could ever teach them on purpose. I just have to try to make that environment happen. It doesn't mean 6 hours at the desk, 20 pages a day of reading, competing in the science fair, blah blah blah. It means nurturing their natural love of learning, presenting things according to their personal learning style while they are younger (then teaching them how to glean from other's TEACHING styles so they can be more successful), allowing them to passionately pursue their own pursuits (while slipping learning in like veggies in muffins!)

Hang in there! You don't suck, at least not all the time. :) Everyone has these days (and now I have a Hannah Montana song stuck in my head to go with your Justin Beiber!)


Thursday, October 28, 2010

It's here! (and a giveaway!)

My Gold Canyon Candle independent demonstrator kit came in yesterday!  It was like Christmas, twice!  When the kids and I got home it was on the front porch (all 50 pounds of it!)  We hauled it inside and opened it almost immediately (had to put the toddler down for a nap first!)  After church, when William got home we opened it up and went through it all again!

I know I'm a little crazy to add something new to my crazy life right now!  I really didn't even think about it, I just jumped in.  Like I said in my last blog post about it, anything that gets me to enjoy cleaning is truly a miracle!

I've already booked my first hostess, and I'm really looking forward to helping people get free stuff!  If you'd like to host a show in November, take a look at what you'll receive:

My next hostess (locally) to book will also get a hostess pack from me, with disposable plates, cups, napkins, drink mix and snacks for your show - all you have to do is get your friends together!

Not local?  Don't worry - you can host a virtual show and earn the same great rewards. 

Now, the giveaway:

A sample of some of my favorite things, Fall Holders!
 Visit Gold Canyon's Wish List Giveaway to enter!  Visit my Gold Canyon Online Store to Order!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Modest (and Chic!) Dresses

I'm on the e-mail list for several modest clothing companies.  If you are like me, and have trouble finding clothing that is not too revealing up top or too short, you'll love this company!  The prices are moderate, especially when you consider that you don't have to drive all over town (or to another town) to search for appropriate clothing.  I got a deal in e-mail today that I thought I'd pass along!

This cute dress, the "Kate", in the color "twig", is regularly $64.00, with the coupon code it's only $29.99!

This is from the Sweet Innocence dress collection from Diviine Modestee.  Use the code KATE at checkout to receive your discount!   Be sure to check out their clearance section too :)

(I was not paid for this review, not did I receive anything in exchange for posting thie.  That does not mean that I'm opposed to doing unbiased reviews for your product in the future!)

Friday, October 22, 2010

It's a miracle, my kitchen is clean (still)

Two weeks ago I received an order I placed from my mother-in-law's home-party.  I had forgotten about it, and really ordered just to be nice :)  (I'm sure you ladies know how that goes!  LOL)

One of the items was an all-natural cleaner (which was a stretch for me, because I HATE TO CLEAN)

Something strange happened as soon as I opened the package: I wanted to clean something.  I don't think that I've ever experienced this phenomenon in my entire life!

I quickly cleared the counter so that I could clean it.  It smelled so good!  The kids came in - "can we try too?" they wanted to know?  I'm no dummy, I told them no!  (It's reverse psychology!) "Maybe later" I said, enjoying the lingering scent of the clean counter.

The next day, I let them use it on the kitchen table, we all breathed deep of the lovely smell!  Pretty soon, I noticed that I was cleaning the kitchen voluntarily.  It's been clean for over a week now, which has to be some sort of record.  I've even been washing dishes every morning and enforcing the rule that everyone wash their own dishes.  Even my hubby noticed and did dinner dishes before bed, wanting to leave it as nice or better than he found it!

Also in my order was a candle.  Now, I'm a big fan of candles.  Remember the PartyLite craze?  I was on the forefront.  I have the entire candle nativity set for Christmas decorations!  So far I've escaped the Scentsy train, but only because we're being very conservative with our money right now!  I still had a small stash of PartyLite candles that I've rationed, so I ordered the orange scent because that's William's favorite.

I lit it the first day and was amazed that I could smell it in the family room, when it was burning 3 rooms away in the kitchen!  It also burns very clean, no soot around the edge, the wax liquefies completely and the wicks have remained upright, so I've got a good feeling there won't be any waste.

Let me tell you - I am convinced that these candles are way better than PartyLite, and the scents are stronger than Scentsy!  I'm so convinced that I signed up to be an independent distributor today!

I can't wait to share these products with my friends - anything that gets ME to CLEAN, has to fall in miracle territory!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

October is SIDS Awareness month too! (A contest)

I know we all think pink when we hear about October awareness, but did you know that you should also think blue?

October is Infant and Pregnancy Loss awareness month, specifically October 15th.  The entire month is also dedicated to SIDS awareness.

This is close to my heart, as many of you know!  We lost our son, Ian, in 2006 to SIDS.  You can read my blog posts about our grief journey by clicking the link at the top or to the right "Grief and Healing".

I posted an Etsy Treasury recently to spotlight sellers that support families going through this loss.

I also wanted to share a contest that is being helpd by the CJ Foundation for SIDS.  There are just 10 days left to enter!  In recognition of SIDS Awareness Month, the CJ Foundation is giving away a gift basket of prizes including aden + anais® swaddles, sleep bags and issie™ worth over $200 to one lucky winner! Simply sign up for their E-Newsletter using the form on their site and be entered into a drawing to win!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Another freebie: Baby/Toddler sling!

My Planning Family membership has paid off once again with a coupon for a free baby sling from Seven Slings.

I chose to do the gift set in "Latte" (as I did with the Udder Covers promotion):

The coupon code is "halloween" and will take $39.00 off of your purchase.  You still have to pay for shipping and handling, but with the extra for the gift set, size exchange insurance and the S&H, it was only $20!

This coupon came to me from my Planning Family membership, which was free. The sign-up process was long, and they called with a follow-up which was even longer!  I wasn't sure this membership was going to be worth it; coupons like this have changed my mind!  There is no incentive for me when you sign up (darn!) but there is incentive for you!

This is the second free sling that I've gotten, in addition to the Udder Covers.  The other promotion was a single use, but this one can be used as many times as you want!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Warning: TMI included here, read at your own risk

I'm not sure what this post will turn out as, but I can tell you it's starting as a vent!  This has been a rough day!

I'm 27 weeks pregnant, which normally means that I get up at least once, but usually 2 or 3 times a night to go to the bathroom.  Not last night.  I slept a blissful 7 hours, uninterrupted by potty breaks.  I was having a pleasant dream when I was harshly awakened by a panic-y thought - is it so hot in here I'm sweating?  Oh no - that's not sweat!  UUGGHHH I wet the bed!  Or, more appropriately I will blame it on Aaron, the growing little boy pressing on my bladder - HE made me do it!  I rushed to the bathroom (which is a stretch, because pregnant women do not really "rush" anywhere, especially when it involves transferring from a horizontal position) and then was struck with another panic-y thought - what if it was my water breaking?  On no!  Maybe that was it.  Of course the only thing to do was a sniff test.  First panic confirmed, now I'm also grossed out!

I started a bath, then peeked in the tub - it was gross.  I switched on the shower and got in, enjoying the first pleasant part of the morning: hot water!  After a nice scrub and soaking shower I was cold, so I wrapped up in hubby's bathrobe and fixed myself a cup of hot tea with honey.  Then, I put on a movie, just for me, a chick-flick: Julie and Julia.  Of course the 2 year old woke up half-way through and I stopped to fix us breakfast, then returned to the movie.  My 9 year old daughter awakened towards the end of the movie and joined us.  "Ah, this is going to be a peaceful day." I thought to myself.

Big brother woke up and came in so I sent he and his sister to fix themselves breakfast while I checked e-mail.  I got a great article from Empowering Parents on Calm Parenting: How to Get Control When Your Child is Making You Angry , I was reading it, sipping my luke-warm tea, agreeing with all the finer points and thinking "I'm doing pretty well as a parent" when chaos erupted from the kitchen.  Yes, the cardinal sin had been committed, an atrocity so great it warranted an all-out battle:  One child had taken the measuring spoon the other was reaching for.  Yes, I know you're shocked that such a calamity could befall our home, but it did, and now the battle for top-decibel was "on".  It wasn't long before the warring factions were at my desk, with the offending spoon, waving it to punctuate their stories.

Having just read:
"Why is it so easy to go from “zero to 60” when our kids make us angry? There are many reasons, but I think it’s mainly because we allow ourselves to go to 60. And in a sense, when we get up to 60—when we react emotionally—we’re allowing the behavior of our kids to determine how we’ll behave rather than the other way around."

You'd think that I would have kept my cool, but I didn't.  I think I went to 70 and my head spun around a few times as I glared at them and loudly inquired if they were really at my desk fighting over A SPOON?  I probably would have only gotten to 55 or so, except that the EXACT SAME THING HAPPENED YESTERDAY MORNING.  Granted, it was a different spoon, just a plain old soup spoon, not an important MEASURING spoon like today.

They offered the standard excuses "I was there first" "they pushed me" "they saw me reaching for it and jumped in front", blah, blah, blah.  At this point I was hearing Charlie Brown's teacher's noises "waw waw waw waw".  I don't even remember the words of wisdom that I offered them, but I concluded that the behavior was a lack of respect for each other and as such they would serve one another breakfast (silently).

I ate 2 small Butterfinger candies.  I stress eat.  It's what I do, please don't judge - I'm OK with it.

After breakfast I had them clean their rooms (mostly to try to prevent them from occupying the same space as the other person.)  After that, there were some other chores to be done, then lunch.  Lunch preperation went pretty well until the argument over "who mom was going to sit next to".  I feel so loved when my children argue over this (not really - I feel so annoyed.  I try to feel loved, but I can't work it up).  I cleverly solved this argument by... wait for it... sitting. between. them.  This solution had been previously suggested by my daughter, but Alpha Male Child would not hear of it.

After lunch we played a bit, then put the 2 year old down for a nap.  Now it was time for school.  We are working our way through Frontier House (click here to see what we've done so far) and I felt very accomplished that we've done "official schoolwork" 2 days in a row (since we've become "unschoolers" or whatever hybrid thereof, I've still not shaken the feeling that we must produce actual work in order to be legitimate.)  The toddler awakened immediately after this and the kids went to fix a snack.  I insisted that it contain protein, so they settled on waffles with peanut butter (and finagled a sprinkle of cinnamon-sugar on top).  I promise you, the very moment I heard waffles pop out, the ruckus started.  This time they came to me bearing a knife.  Before they even spoke anything directed at me I just yelled "Seriously?  A knife?  You're fighting over a knife? Go away"  Not one of my finer mommy moments.  It seems that the alpha male child had harpooned the other's waffle, scarring it forever with a hole, rendering it completely inedible, of course.  She was now protesting that it had to be replaced, which male child said was wasteful.  I skillfully solved this problem by demanding that restitution be made, and brokered a waffle trade.

I ate the other 2 Butterfinger candies.

At this point, it is time to leave for karate class, so we pack into the car.  After answering 20 questions from the toddler about where bubba is and "why" (note to toddler - "you're not 4.  Stop asking Why?") I finally get a placated "OK".  A few minutes later I hear "here go momma" repeated at least 4 times before I respond by holding my arm behind me, while driving, contorted so that he can hand me whatever it is he wants me to have.  I pinch my fingers together and ask "what is it?"  The answer?  "A booger."

It is at this point I decided that I was taking the night off.  Hubby met me and picked up the kids, I had a pedicure.  Then retail therapy at Target.  I got nothing for myself, only for the kids.  Tell me how that happens?
I always like to try to look for the BS in any situation.  Sometimes the BS just falls all over you, sometimes you have to dig for it.  Oh, and I should also mention that BS is "Bright Side", but it's more interesting to just call it BS.  So, for today:

BS: I have clean sheets to sleep in tonight. 

Oh - bonus BS: my toenails are cute!

LRH Resources

I'm making this post so I'll have easy access to some cool resources I find while planning lessons and activities.  Feel free to add a comment with your suggestions or send them to me in e-mail!

Homeschool Buyers Co-op

Homeschooling's#1 Way to Save
ABCTeach: "The Educator's Online Resource"  Lots of free resources, paid resources also available.  Cool worksheet generator too. is “the world’s largest, fastest growing, most highly regarded source of totally free education. Serving the education needs of a global community since 1997. No tuition, no books to buy, no hidden fees It’s free … all of it!” Free-Ed is geared primarily toward adults seeking to continue or supplement their education, but the site offers complete courses and tutorials for more than 400 different vocational and academic disciplines, free for anyone interested in learning. Free-Ed offers education simply for the sake of education!
Education World - Lots of online resources, lesson plans, printables and internet resources
Super Teacher Worksheets - tons of printables!  Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, Spelling and more!

Math & Science
Interactivate: The goals of Interactivate are the creation, collection, evaluation and dissemination of interactive Java-based courseware for exploration in Science and Mathmatics

Carolina Biological Supply Company: A place to purchase supplies for science lessons.  Also has a Teacher's Resources section with lesson plans, worksheets and more.

Scientific American's Bring Science Home

Geography & Environment
Wood Use: How big is an acre?

The National Archives: Interactive archives and lesson plans using copies of archived documents

Free Kids Music: These are complete songs, not edited versions. And they are high quality…not poor quality versions designed to tease you into buying an album. All the music downloads for kids you’ll find on this site are FREE
Music Appreciation Without Lessons: 33 ideas for creating music appreciation

Book It Program - Free pizza for reading, teacher printables and lots more
Ticket to Reading Rewards - Tickets to College basketball games for middle schoolers
Book Adventure - Sylvan Reading Center, free online rewards program for kids K-8

Writing, Reading and Literature
Mrs. Cassel's helpful handouts

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Less Reluctant Homeschooler (LRH): Frontier House

I am teaching my children a bit of history this week.  I hope that it also results in some character building, satisfaction with what we have and an appreciation for hard work!

When PBS did their Frontier House series in 2002, I watched each week like it was a soap opera!  My husband was amazed, he had probably never watched public TV in his life!  He wasn't as thrilled with it as I was, but thought it was pretty neat.

We recently turned off our Direct TV service and subscribed to Netflix.  The very first discs I ordered?  Frontier House!  I was excited to see that PBS also offered a lesson plan to go along with the series!  Some of the links do not work anymore, so be sure to test them out before hand so you know what to avoid/substitute!  The plans are geared toward 5-8th graders (primarily), but they are working well with my 4th & 6th grade equivalent ages.

If you have younger students, there is a good lesson plan on Westward Expansion at Megan Cato's site.  It is much more comprehensive.

I am wondering if "lesson plan" and unschooling are mutually exclusive, and if using one means I'm not the other.  Hmm, things to ponder.  I guess just like the rest of my life, this area does not fit into a neatly labeled bucket!  I do know that my children learn best when watching a video (visual & auditory stimulation) and discussing the lessons (auditory).  I am trying to think of an easy way to integrate a kinetic experience, perhaps cooking or making something? 

One thing that I have been doing that I think falls into the kinetic slot is posting the links to their Facebook pages, so they have to go click them and read the info online (which we do all together, each on our own computers!  LOL)

I'll try to update this entry with our timeline of how it worked for us.  :)

Day One:
  • "Introductory Activity" from "Free Land" lesson
  • Post Become a Billionaire Sheet to their Facebook pages (caution - internal link to "worksheet" is broken)
  • Have them read, discuss according to steps 1-4
  • Post "Uncle Sam is Rich Enough to Give Us All a Farm" to their Facebook pages
  • Have them read as directed in steps 5 & 6, discuss according to step 7
  • Begin "Class One", Post "Timemap-US Borders" on their Facebook pages
  • Discuss, complete steps 1-7 (this was probably our favorite part - we loved the interactive timeline!)
  • "Class Two", we really didn't do.  The link to a quiz is broken, and we don't need an "assessment" essay :)
  • Watch episode one of Frontier House, discuss
Day Two: (We based on some of the activities in the "Extensions" section)
  • Wood Use: How big is an acre?  I used this worksheet for myself, to figure out the measurements, then we discussed.  I felt it was too advanced for my 4th and 6th graders.
  • We looked at the Homestead Act of 1862 (from the National Archives), then read from Homestead Act of 1862 (text). 
  • I printed a map of our neighborhood and overlayed the measurements for 160 acres.  This gave the kids a practical understanding of the actual size of a homestead (as well as reinforcing map-reading skills)
  • We watched episode 2 of Frontier House

Day 3:
  • We reviewed by discussing the Homestead Act
  • We watched episode 3 of Frontier House (The wedding episode - it's my favorite!)
Day 4:
  • Daddy was home!  We showed off our knowledge of The Homestead Act, sharing all of it with Daddy and letting him ask questions, fill in details, etc.
  • We had a marathon and watched episodes 4-6 of Frontier House.
  • In episode 6 we paused and had a discussion about godly roles for husbands and wives.  The Glenn family had a lot of conflict, due in part to poor communication skills, but owing largely to the husband/wife relationship.  We took time to share the Biblical mandate for husbands to love their wives and put their needs first, as Christ did for the church, and for wives to be supportive and encouraging of their husbands, submitting to them as Christians are to submit to the will of Christ.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Alive in Christ or just another Zombie?

James 2:20 "Faith without works is dead".

A Christian who (2 Timothy 3:5) "has a form of godliness but denies the power therein" is just like a Zombie.

Everytime you see a zombie this Halloween season - ask yourself if you are Alive in Christ!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

SoftBums Cloth Diaper giveaway

Most of you know I'm pregnant with #5, due in January!

I've really been considering cloth diapers this go-around, and I think I've just been convinced!  Take a look at the SoftBums OMNI Diaper:

The main objection to cloth diapers has been affordability, but this just blew it out of the water!

You can visit Home Grown Families' blog to enter!

Search for softbums

Friday, October 1, 2010

Quite Possibly Addicted

I think I may need a 12-step program soon.  Making Etsy Treasuries is too much fun!

I've made 2 more:

Vintage Retro Modern Nursery / Baby

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month

If you have a theme or idea for a treasury - let me know! (of course you'll be feeding the addiction, but I'm OK with that!)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

I'm a Curator!

I've just created my first Esty treasury
Here's a sneak peek:

Wondering how those fit together?  Visit my first treasury to see!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Halloween Hullabaloo Hellfire and Humbugs

What? I like alliteration!  The annual Halloween debates have started (at least on Facebook). 

I always dreaded this time of year.  As a child, we were allowed to participate in Halloween, up to a point.  We always dressed up, sometimes attended parties, and trick-or-treated only in our neighborhood or at the Mall (with a trip to the hospital afterwards to have our candy x-rayed to make sure it didn't have any needles in it!)  When I was in 5th grade my parents had a conversion of sorts to a more conservative brand of Christianity and child-rearing philosophies.  We started homeschooling, only listening to Christian music and being more aware of the spiritual issues around us.  This was when we stopped "doing" Halloween (as best as I remember!)  Mike Warnke (a Christian Comedian and Evangelist) was very popular and told tales of his past as a Satanic high priest.  He asserted that Halloween was the high-holy day for Satanists and many Christians we knew immediately rejected any participation.  Even some churches stopped doing any type of alternative activities.

My husband and I decided early in our marriage that we would not participate in many of the traditional childhood fantasies when we had children.  We don't "do" Santa Clause, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and we don't celebrate Halloween.  The reasoning behind the fictional characters is sound: If we can't see them and we are told they exist, then grow up and find out it was untrue, then how will we be able to believe that Jesus, who we also cannot see, is not also a myth?  We decided that we would be honest and truthful with our kids, while being respectful of other families who did celebrate in more traditional ways (and caution our children to never spoil the fun of their friends who "believe"!)

Halloween was a little more dark (both figuratively and literally).  I do not personally have a problem with fictional literature (I know many well-meaning and convicted Christians who do).  I don't have a problem with make-believe or role-playing.  I don't have a problem with faerie-tales and mythology.  All of those things have been associated with Halloween and sometimes raise objections.

The more serious objection is the origin of Halloween and the observance of it as an occultic holiday.  I do believe that Halloween has it's roots in Druidism, Celtic and Wiccan traditions.  I also believe that the Catholic church sought to transition this into a Christian Celebration by naming November 1st as "All Saint's Day".  These are widely regarded as fact and I'll not belabor the points here (Google if you must!)

My question is: does "celebrating" Halloween make you a bad Christian, dishonor God, or worse yet - set you up as an ally of His enemy Satan.  I don't think it does.  I know plenty of people who celebrate Christmas who are no more Christian than I am a Satanist.  Many people enjoy a good Easter meal and never consider the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  In fact, both of these Christian holidays have pagan roots as well, they have just been more successfully converted to Christianity.  I also know a few devout Christians who refuse to participate in these holidays for the same reasons.  I love and respect them all!

I think that many of the Christians who refuse to celebrate Halloween do so less out of deep personal conviction and more out of a desire to appear holy.  I know, I used to be one!  I wanted others to KNOW that I was serious about my faith, and the serious Christians didn't do Halloween.  It didn't matter that there was no personal conviction behind it. 

I have chosen to look at this day and break it down into the acceptable and non-acceptable (as I understand it and am personally convicted).  For us, this is what Halloween looks like:

Devil, ghoul, witch costumes: out
Nature, character, fantasy costumes: in
Candy: in (except for candy cigarettes - I'm still holding out on that one LOL!)
Decorating for Halloween: out
Decorating for fall/harvest: in
Neighborhood trick-or-treating: out (because of the scary decorations in some places)
Business / Mall trick-or-treating: in
Haunted Houses: what do you think?  LOL: out
Harvest or Hallelujah festivals: in

I do not hold it against my fellow Christians who participate or do not participate.  I certainly don't judge or hold anything against non-believers!

I welcome any respectful commentary, and reserve the right to delete anything that is not :)

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A fun Homeschool cartoon :)

Name that bar! (a contest)

My mother-in-law's best friend has started a great new company making incredible lotion bars.  They are truly fabulous and smell good too :)

100% natural-beeswax-shea butter-coconut oil and a little lavender for scent

She's trying to come up with a catchy and fun name and is asking for your help!  The winning name will get a supply of her great bars!

Hurry, visit her blog today!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

HELP! Long Car Trips...Toddler to Tweens

We are gearing up to leave this weekend for a long car trip.  We'll be in the car for at least 6 hours each of 6 days.

I always love to plan games and activity pages, music and movies, etc.  I usually put together games and toys for the little ones, then rotate them out every now and then so they are "fresh".

This year I've put together 3 ring binders with coloring pages from Crayola and pages from activity books I bought at Target's $1 section (a little school will do them good!).  The kids also like Mandalas, and I ususally print out a map of where we're going so they can chart along with our progress.

I'm wondering if you have any travel tips and games to share?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The less-reluctant homeschooler: strengths and weaknesses

If you've been following my homeschool journey, then you know we've been making some changes.

I was inspired to write today by a friend's great post.  This originally started out as a comment, then I realized that I was being way too long winded, and thought perhaps my followers would like a glimpse into my current thoughts on this homeschool journey.

I attended 3 different private schools and 1 public school before I started HS'ing in 5th grade. We HS'ed kindergarten then used a charter school and now are HS'ing again, 2nd year with 4th and 6th graders.

The biggest challenge (in my opinion) is identifying and building on strengths (rather than focusing on weaknesses). These are our natural abilities that can, and should, be nurtured. Whether it's a learning style that can be applied across all topics, or a propensity towards a particular discipline, I am learning that if I focus the majority of our time developing those areas, life is much easier.

I have one child that hates to write. The more time we spend on it, the more they hate it. It is a vicious circle. The same child loves to read, to explore, to experiment, to conquer, to take tests (and pass with 100's only please, they want perfection!). Why would I ignore all those good traits and focus instead on a lack of writing prowess? There is plenty of time, and I can make plenty of opportunities to tie writing education to "real" learning (in their opinion writing for the sake of writing is pretty dumb. I feel the same way about algebra!)

My other child loves music, if they can sing it they can memorize it. Can you just smell the learning potential? They love to be read TO, love art and anything creative, including writing. I see so many opportunities to allow them to work together, each using their own strengths, learning from each other. Now, if they only got along! LOL

My personal challenge is daily discipline. I have spent so much time trying to hone this weakness into a skill. I'm realizing that, just as with my children, I have to instead focus on my strengths. I am a great thinker, planner and spontaneous learner. I ask good questions and have the skills to find the answers. Those are my strengths. It feels good to give myself permission to speak them aloud! Our HS can benefit from those skills tremendously.

As with anything, a strength or skill taken to extremes becomes a weakness.  This is the challenge I face with my planning skills.  I make beautiful schedules that are suitable for framing.  I can't live up to my own expectations, so I fail.  Every time.  It's a real bummer!  I think if I had a staff my life would be easier!  My friend Laura used to say that if she had handmaidens (like the Proverbs 31 woman) she would be better off too!

I've learned that I must temper my own strengths to allow room for my weaknesses.  (Hmmm, I'm thinking that this would preach!)  Instead of planning everything down to the nth degree, instead I cast a vision, often on the spot or in the days leading up to the learning event. 

For instance, I am visiting with family in Lubbock this week.  My brother mentioned that there was a wind-power museum here that's pretty interesting.  I tucked that away in my head.  As we started our trip, I began to think of questions about wind power, and on the drive took the opportunity to plant seeds of learning as we passed wind generators.  "How do you think they work?"  "Are they larger than you expected?"  This morning I posted an opportunity (on Facebook) for other HS kids/families to give us their questions about wind power so that we can discover with a purpose, then report back (hint-I'll have the kids write back to answer the questions - sneaky HS mom trick to get the non-writer to write! MUHAHAHAH)  They won't even know they're learning, but I will.  It will not be graded and measured.  I will probably not add it to the chart that I'd like to keep of all the learning we've done.  And, for once, I'll not beat myself up for it.

I'd like to include a clever summary sentence here that would wrap all of this up and put a nice bow on the top.  The fact is, my HS (as my life) is a work in progress.  There are loose strings and unanswered questions all over the place.  I cannot accurately answer my own questions, much less any one else's about our method, plan, progress, etc.  Does that scare me?  Hello?  I'm a planner!  It scares me a lot!  I'm walking on faith and trust here that my good intentions, thoughtfulness and deep love of learning, coupled with my passion for my children's souls, gifts, lives, experiences and maturity, will be exponentially and divinely multiplied by the God of GRACE who loves us all more than we can imagine!

References and Resources:

The Strong Life Test, Marcus Buckingham
Learning Styles Assessment info

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Apple Picking!

Today the kids and I are in Lubbock.  We went to Idalou to Apple Country Orchards.  Unfortunately, we weren't able to stay for lunch (it smelled so good!), but we did get to pick 10lbs of apples!

A delicious day!

Sunday, August 29, 2010

21 Days: Reflections on a Facebook Fast

Even though we're only reading chapter 16 tonight, our 21 day fasting portion is drawing to a close.  I really didn't think that giving up Facebook would be easy, I was pleasantly surprised.  In fact, about a week into it, I considered giving up something else too.

My biggest surprise was how often I thought about updating my status.  I didn't realize how self-centered I am, and how much I crave other's interactions.  I like to try to be witty, I'd like to say that it is for the pleasure of others, but I fear that it is more for self-gratification.  I like to post updates about my busy days so that others will say "I don't know how you do it!"I like to post frustrations with my day so others will feel sorry for me, or share their horror stories to make me feel better.

There were a few things that I missed (and will be checking on shortly!)  My friend Michelle is pregnant with twins.  The first day of my fast she posted the sono video where they found out they were boys.  A dear friend passed away and I need to add my memorials to his "wall".  I probably have a friend request or two, and I have a couple of people that I've met who I'd like to look up. 

Ironically, my church has a new ministry position as a "Facebook Greeter", several friends have asked if I'll go for that!  Is it sacrilegious to end my FB fast with becoming a FB minister?  LOL

The purpose of a fast (as I understand it) is to sacrifice something that is important to you and replace that time or desire with God.  In my non-FB time, I've prayed more, listened to more worship/Christian music, volunteered with Women of Faith, reached out to friends in more traditional ways like phone and text (is that traditional?  I don't know).  I've spent time with my family reading the Bible and discussing.  I've blogged about our journey (which I pray will be transparent enough to encourage others.)

Another wonderful thing happened.  My joy was restored.  I don't think that this is entirely due to the FB fast.  I think it has been a long time coming, it happened to culminate at this time.  Perhaps it is because I was more in tune with God and less concerned about myself.  I was really taken by surprise at this return.

My joy departed on November 2, 2006.  That's the night that our 3 month old baby stopped breathing, then spent 3 days in the hospital before he died.  My joy died with him.  I thought I would never smile or laugh again.  I wondered if I could ever love again with the same kind of abandon.

I've been reading The Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical and Blue Like Jazz: Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality.  I really have enjoyed each of them and have shared many passages with my husband.  I found myself with my heart racing and unable to wait until the next page.  I thought at first that it was just the joy of these author's stories and the passion that they stirred within me.  Then the fast heart beat and anticipation for other things began to surprise me.  I finally realized, as I was standing at the Women of Faith Volunteer check in, that I was joyful!  I didn't know how it snuck up on me.  I was excited, not for my experience, but for what God would do in the lives of the women around me.  I was praying selflessly that God would use me, that I would be a small part of a wonderful get-away and refreshing for those who would be coming in.

Although there were many moments that I felt an internal conflict with the "packaged and prepared" worship being so polished and perfect, or the consumerism mentality (I was working the sales table.  I actually heard one woman say "I'm coveting this Bible.  I don't need another Bible but it's purple!") - I still did not have  critical spirit.  I was able to overlook much of what happened because the Spirit of God was so powerful during the speakers.  Women were moved to tears and worship and many accepted Christ for the first time.  I saw teenagers convulsing with painful tears during Nicole Johnson's drama on abortion.  I saw women embrace each other, wiping tears from their eyes.  I know God moved in that place, perhaps in spite of the commercial polish?

I am so thankful for the return of Joy.  I've missed it terribly.  This is just one of the "bones" that was crushed in our loss.  As I sat in service this morning I reflected on another blog post I wrote nearly 2 years ago.  I likened our loss to being hit by a train.  Not exactly a "get back on the horse" experience!  God revealed to me that just as physical therapy takes time, so does restoration of all things broken.  Trust, Hope, Joy, Peace - all were shattered in a few moments time.  All will be restored in HIS time.  The greatest thing is that when He restores, he restores to perfect.  Not the imperfect image we had before that we thought was so great.

My joy before came from a shallow place, an elementary understanding of God's will, grace and timing.  It wasn't wrong (necessarily), it was just imperfect.  In James chapter 1 we are told to:

2 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, 3knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. 4And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing
. (emphasis mine).  I've always loved this verse.  Isn't funny how we love something and don't understand it?  It's easy to tell someone else to "count it all joy", it's much harder (impossible-seeming sometimes!) to live it when your world has been shattered.  I used to sing that praise and worship song "Blessed Be The Name".  I would sing it so passionately in the car, loving that bridge "You give and take away, you give and take away.  My heart will choose to say, blessed be the name."  The emphasis (in my mind) was on the "give".  I was so thankful for all I'd been given.  I really was.  I thought I was holding loosely the gifts God had bestowed.  When a precious gift is "torn from your life" (as in the Natalie Grant song "Held") it is much more difficult to accept the "take away" portion.

When my dear friend Laura Belt passed away, this song was played at her funeral.  It was the day after my grandmother passed away and I was pregnant with Ian.  Needless to say, I was a mess!  The song hit me so hard that day.  I had no idea that 9 months later it would make the playlist for the first funeral I had ever planned.  Even to this day, when we sing it at church, I want to shout out "listen!  do you know what you're singing?  do you know the commitment you are expressing"  I want to share the back story, Job's story, my story.

So it is with the verses in James.  Do we understand?  I now have a glimpse into "why" we are to "count it all joy".  It doesn't say (or mean) that all things are joyful.  It's an accounting term.  It means that trials don't go into the "deficit" column.  They are "additions" to our lives.  They are an asset to us.  We are to see them for the good they will bring, for the good that God will work (as in "He works all things together for the good of them who love God and are called according to His purpose.").

So, my friends, this long and rambling post is coming to an end (did I hear an "Amen" somewhere? LOL)

I hope that as you've read you are encouraged to hang onto Jesus Christ, His Father God and the Holy Spirit who comforts us and teaches us all things.

Don't stop - there's lots more good stuff...

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