Saturday, September 29, 2012

blogging through the alphabet {d}

D is for Diabetes.

My sweet niece was diagnosed almost 4 years ago with Type 1 Juvenile Diabetes. She blows us away with her bravery as she deals with this every day.

The past few years, we have walked in our local JDRF walk in her honor. JDRF is a great organization that raises money to find a cure for this awful disease. If you can, I'd love it you would donate a little to our walk fund. If you are local, we'd be thrilled to have you walk with use. Either way, please pray for the children that are living this T1D and pray for the people searching for a cure!

Click here for more information about my niece and our walk team :)

And click here to link up with others who are blogging through the alphabet.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Thursday Quick Tip: Don't shower too soon...

In today's episode of Quick Tip Thursday, a subtle reminder to not shower too soon.

After we finished all our morning work today, T and P asked if they could go outside and play for a few minutes. Sure. It is beautiful out so might as well enjoy it.

I go out 20 minutes later to find this:

They were making mud and coating their army men in it to make a case for them. You can see them laying on top of the swingset to dry in the 3rd pic above. Lovely. So, they showered, ate lunch and we finished school.

When they asked to go back out to play this afternoon, I should have seen this coming:

P's comment? "Do we HAVE to shower again?" UGH! Off to hose them down and throw them back in the showers.

Thursday Quick Tips

Do you have a quick tip this Thursday? Serious or not...come link up :)

{Three posts in one day is my limit. See you guys tomorrow...}

Kids Say...

P is reading a book and just asked, "When words are bumpy, does that mean they are singing?" LOL! Sometimes, P, but sometimes they are just that way for emphasis. ;o)

During Bible today, I asked them what three languages the Bible was originally written in and T promptly answered, "Greek, Hebrew, and King James." Close! ;o)

What have your kids said lately that made you chuckle?

blogging through the alphabet {c}

C is for...

Captain C, of course.

Our firstborn son. It's hard to put into words how grateful we are that God chose us to raise C. He has taught me so much about myself, God, and life in his almost 13 years on this earth and I'm so proud of him. It really does seem like just yesterday, we were bringing him home from the hospital. He has made our life more fun, more meaningful, and slightly more frustrating than I ever imagined possible. While we butt heads our fair share as he is figuring out the kind of man he will become, the good times by far outweigh the bad times with C.

I LOVE that he still comes down each night and asks me to pray for him. I LOVE watching him help and play with little kids (that he isn't related to or required to be nice to). I LOVE seeing him help his brother and sister with things (like trying to teach T how to throw and catch the football this week, or showing P how to do something with her school). I LOVE that every.single.morning he comes in asking what's for breakfast and if he can cook something. I LOVE that he is becoming a leader and pray that he is a Godly one. I LOVE that he asked Jesus into his heart at age 5 and is continuing to grow to be more like Him. I LOVE watching him struggle through his Challenge A work and come out successful in the end. I LOVE that we can talk about anything...really, anything...and that he is becoming a friend and not just a son. I LOVE that he is honoring a commitment right now that he really doesn't want to do, but because he gave his word, he's doing it. I LOVE that he is learning now that it is ok to do hard things.

Captain C, I LOVE you!

But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Luke 2:19

Some of C's Favorite Things
(in his own words)

Favorite color: Red...or rather Crimson to be exact ;)
Favorite food: Mexican....or maybe a burger, pizza, or chili dog - the boy likes to eat!
Favorite restaurant: Baja Jacks
Favorite snack: Pizza
Favorite fruit: Blueberries
Favorite vegetable: Only likes veggies if they are in Chicken Pot Pie
Favorite cookies: It's a cookie! What's not to like?
Favorite soft drink: Dr. Pepper
Favorite ice cream flavor: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Favorite candy: Reece's Pieces
Favorite meal to fix by himself: Pancakes
Favorite sport (to play): Football
Favorite sport (to watch): Football
Favorite team: Oklahoma Sooners
Favorite athlete: Roy Finch
Favorite Olympic sport: Is football in the Olympics?
Favorite place to go on vacation: Colorado
Favorite place to go camping: Colorado
Favorite LOCAL place to go camping: Sequoyah State Park
Favorite thing to do when you're camping: ride my bike around
Favorite TV show: WipeOut
Favorite Wii game:  Super Smash Bros. Brawl
Favorite computer game:  Minecraft
Favorite movie: Pirates of the Caribbean
Favorite book series: Percy Jackson
Favorite school subject: History
Favorite season: Spring
Favorite board game:  Risk

Check out others who are blogging through the alphabet here and link up with us!

 Blogging Through the Alphabet

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Review: A Cry From Egypt

I think I've already told everyone I know personally about this book so this review might be a bit redundant. LOL! This is one for homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers alike, guys, so read on....everyone! (even you, Mom, who says you don't read my homeschool reviews!)


Hal and Melanie Young, authors of Raising Real Men, are the chief publishers at Great Waters Press. They are releasing two wonderful new books: Children in Church, Nurturing Hearts of Worship and A Cry From Egypt and allowed The Crew to review them.

Since CC Cycle 1 is about Ancient Civilization and we are studying Egypt right now, I eagerly chose to review A Cry From Egypt, by Hope Auer. I loved that she was homeschooled and that even her illustrator was homeschooled (and graduated in the middle of this project). How cool to see Christian homeschoolers publishing quality work!

PhotobucketA Cry from Egypt is the first of four books in the Promised Land Series. Miss Auer began this book when she was only 13 (That's like C's age!?!?!) and her family was studying Ancient Egypt. She is only 20 now but this book does not read like a book written by a "child" at all. She has obviously done her research and even includes some more of it at the end of the book so we could continue the study after we finished reading.

Briefly, A Cry from Egypt is a beautiful, historical fiction book that takes place during the time that Moses was trying to free the Israelites from Pharaoh (roughly Exodus 5-12). It tells the story of Jarah, a 12 year old Israelite slave, and her family and friends as they all intermittently  suffer at the hands of the Egyptians and watch in amazement as Yahweh rains down plagues on the Egyptians because their stubborn and arrogant Pharaoh will not let God's people go free. Jarah's mother is the only one in her family who does not believe in Yahweh and it is very interesting to read about this "house divided", so to speak. That brought up some good discussion. We had just been reading about Greek and Roman gods in CC so it was also interesting to add in talk about the Egyptian gods. I love homeschooling and how we can teach our kids about these false gods in a safe environment and also teach them about the One True God, Yahweh.
When this book arrived, I showed it to T and he read the first chapter. I had planned to read it aloud with him and Paige but since T had already started, I thought we would just sort of tandem read it. We would each read a chapter and then discuss it. I had no idea that I would read the first chapter, and then stay up that night reading the next TEN chapters before crashing and finishing it the next day! I'm not even kidding (ask Big Daddy who had to sleep with the light on, then have me wake him up when I couldn't read anymore to tell him all about it!). I got sucked in in the first chapter to this story.

Sure, we all know there were plagues and if you grew up in church, you probably still remember the words and motions to "Pharaoh, Pharaoh, OOOOOOHHHHH let my people go, UH!" but I have never read such an amazing account of the story. I felt like I was there, hurting with the Israelite children who were being beaten and forced to work in horrible conditions, worrying about the little Egyptian brother and sister who's dad was a drunk (and a priest!) as they were starving and scared, and frustrated and angry at Pharaoh for being the cause of all this suffering (on both Egyptians and Hebrews).

It brought this portion of Scripture to life and I'm so honored to have been able to have my family read it. T and I read it now. C is going to read it when he has a little break in his Challenge work (Christmas break?). And even Big Daddy is going to read it he says. I'm not sure if I'll read it to P now or wait until next time we are in Cycle 1 (read on for why). Needless to say, I'm sure we will never hear "Yahweh" or something about the plagues in Egypt again without thinking of this book.

I truly can't say enough good things about this book. It has brought up some great conversations between T and I, and also with the whole family around the dinner table. Including who Yahweh is - T read the first two chapters before asking me and when I told him he said, "Oh, that makes more sense."

Since I had read ahead of T, I was hesitant to have him read the parts when the Israelites were being whipped and scared. He is very sensitive to things like that, but you know what, he did just fine with it and just said that it was sad. He loves the Bible and loved getting this different look at a familiar story. When I get to that part with P, I'll likely skim it though, as she is just 7, or I may wait for a few years for her to read it. The book is recommend for ages 8+ and I imagine that is the only reason. There is some slight "romance" in it so I wasn't sure if the boys would balk, but it is all very wholesome and appropriate, giving us a glimpse of how engagements worked at that time.

I asked T to give his opinion about the book. He said, "There is not one bad thing about this book. It's an awesome book and I am going to save my money for the next one. I like it when God makes it dark to show that there isn't really a god of the sun. If it were me, I would have been saying, 'Where is your god? Is he sleeping?' during the plagues." So there you have it from a 9 year old boy ;o)

There are a limited number of advanced reader copies available right now for $12.50. It is worth every penny of that, in my opinion. And we are extremely excited that there are 3 more books coming out in this series. T asked me today if we get to keep this book. I told him yes and he said, "YAY - I'm going to keep it on my desk and put the others with it when they come out." We can't wait to pick up with Jarah and her family again as they head out of bondage and toward the Promised Land.

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Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Family Time Fitness

Confession: We just started our 6th year home educating and I have NEVER done a PE program. It just isn't something I honestly think about when laying out my year. I'm embarrassed to even type that but it's true. I figured they did gymnastics and karate, played at the park and ride bikes and play outside so why bother.

Enter Family Time Fitness and I am now kicking myself for skipping out all these years. Yes, the kids are active, but this is different. It is structured, well planned out and organized, and just plain FUN.

I was sent the Fitness 4 Homeschool Core 1 Curriculum for grades K-8th to review - perfect for all three of mine who are in 2nd, 4th, and 7th grades. As I have mentioned before, I love curriculum that works for all of the kiddos so we can learn together....and this one we all did together and if you listen closely, you can still hear my thighs screaming from Day 1's Frog Squats - lol! We all got a good wake up call when we woke up SORE on Day 2!

Fitness 4 Homeschool was created in 2010 after it was noticed that there were no real PE curriculum choices out there for homeschool families. Several highly qualified professionals joined together to create this complete physical education program. Not only do they provide a quality PE program for the kiddos, they do it in a way that bonds the whole family together.

I love this brain scan of a child sitting quietly for 20 minutes or walking for 20 minutes. I can just imagine how "active" their little brains are after we do our PE "classes" now - I know their behavior is better! So exciting!

Now on to the program: The Core 1 Curriculum contains 260 different lessons. You could go a long
time without repeating anything at all! We chose to  do 3 lessons a week. They recommend you do 5 days a week but that doesn't work out for us with out schedule this fall. Hey - it is better than the 0 that we were doing, right? Baby steps ;)  Each lesson takes us about 45 minutes, and weather permitting, we do part of the lesson indoors and part of it out. If the weather is icky or too hot, we just modify and do it all inside. I LOVE that there are minimal supplies and prep work for the lessons. I haven't have to buy anything yet and we have been doing this for 6 weeks. Granted we already had a hula hoop, jump ropes, and different balls we are using - if you don't have those, you WILL need to get them to do some of the activities. We have used toys, rocks, and leftover firewood instead of cones with no problem.

I downloaded all the PDF lesson plans onto my iPad and only printed out the one page summary for each lesson, three hole punched them, and put them in a folder. The lesson summary pages contain a quick list of the skills taught in that lesson and equipment needed. Each day there is a Warm Up, Activity/Game Play, Cool Down, and Outdoor Activity. On the actual PDF lesson plans, there are descriptions and video demonstration links for each activity so you know if you are doing them right! I love that they include this. Some of the exercises are self explanatory (like jumping jacks, plank and crabwalk) and some you will be glad there is a video (like popcorn, seal walks,and ball chops). They are all very simple and DOABLE activities, once you understand what you are doing. You definitely don't want to be doing them wrong and hurt yourself so I recommend you take the time to watch the videos on any that you aren't familiar with already. I also like that they are "real kids" doing the videos, who aren't perfect. I think that helps the kids to see that it is ok if they can't dribble perfectly while sitting on their knees, etc. It is discouraging to see professionals and realize that you will never be that "perfect" at it. The videos are quick and usually I would just watch them so I could tell/show them what to do but sometimes they would watch with me.

The activities are well thought out and so fun that the kids (and their mom - lol) actually enjoyed exercising! There is such a variety that if one didn't like doing something they would tough it out, knowing something else fun was coming. I, personally, enjoyed the cool down the best - lol - but the kids liked the activity/game play times most. It was a little too hot to really enjoy the outdoor activities but I think we will like it better this fall...or if we would get up and around earlier, we could have done better.

I took the printed pages down to Alabama with me last week and got the cousins to join in the fun. Here are a couple of pictures of P and her cousin, N, doing the line jump (using bungee cords as our "rope") and 180 jump (love the hair - lol!):

{I took some of the boys outside doing some outdoor ones but they are on my other camera and I can't find it! I hope I didn't leave it there :(  If I find it, I'll post those later.}

I also found ways to add our CC memory work practice into the activities. When it would say to hold a pose for 10 seconds, we would try to say all our skip counting for a number. Or during the 30 second rest, I would ask them a history sentence. "Musical Statues" was done to memory work songs. So much fun!

The Fitness 4 Homeschool Curriculum is $57 and is totally worth it, in my opinion. That is less than one month at the Y for your family for years worth of activities! There is also a FREE two day trial you can sign up for, just remember my warning about being sore after day 1 and don't give up! Push through and you will be happy you did!!

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Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Thursday Quick Tip: dinner is served

Thursday Quick Tips

When you haven't been to the grocery store in close to 3 weeks, throw whatever you can find in a crescent roll (with cheese, of course) and voila...dinner is served.

Granted it was just T, and P eating tonight. It would take a lot more than refried beans/cheese or pepperoni/cheese to fill up "hollow leg" C. Naturally, they liked this WAY better than the dinner last night that was an actual meal - albeit a throw-whatever-I-can-find-in-a-crockpot-and-hope-for-the-best meal, but at least it had chicken and rice in it!

I promise we are grocery shopping tomorrow! Yikes.

What quick can you share really quickly? Link up with Ben and Me each Thursday :)

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Review: Lots and Lots of Penguins!

Terrific T LOVES all things penguins so when Marshall publishing offered TOS Reviewers the choice of several educational DVDs to review, I jumped on the Lots and Lots of Penguins DVD set. When it arrived, T grabbed his penguins and we sat right down to watch.

Marshal Publishing provides "lots and lots of media fun for everyone through award-winning DVDs, Books, CDs, CD-roms, and broadcast and internet programming that will amaze, amuse, entertain, and educate." We don't watch very much TV (and don't have cable) so I had never seen there As Seen On TV "Lots and Lots" series but there really are "lots and lots" of them on topics like firetrucks, jets and planes, dolphins, rockets, and more. They also have some historical documentaries and even a couple on game shows and comedians. I liked that there was nothing questionable on their site. It is hard to find a good wholesome company anymore that doesn't cross the line with things that aren't appropriate.

So now for what we received: The Lots and Lots of Penguins DVD set, included 2 DVDs: Lots and Lots of Playful Penguins and Their Toe Tapping Happy Feet and Lots and Lots of Penguins in the Wild. There was also a bonus DVD included with the set with a catchy music video called Party Like a Penguin. The set is $19.95 and you can use the code TOS27 to get FREE shipping. It is recommended for younger kiddos but "guaranteed family fun for ages 3-93!"

T selected the  Lots and Lots of Playful Penguins and Their Toe Tapping Happy Feet one first as he loves the movie Happy Feet (clever title to grab attention!). It is 75 minutes long and was so fun to watch. It is very well made and the video is so pretty that they all three sat right down to watch. It was packed full of information about all the kinds of penguins and how they live. A cute little cartoony penguin popped up from time to time to teach us about what we were seeing or tell us what we were going to see next. I had no idea there were 17 kinds of penguins and T didn't either. I was so thankful that their website has a study guide so we could go back and look up more info on the penguins we had never heard of. Hearing about the Galapagos Penguins led us to research on the Galapagos Islands, which T had been asking me about since he read about them in a book earlier this year. I love when one study branches off into another. If I was nit-picking, I'd say that the study guide could use some serious formatting help - lol. There is SO much information there that it is hard to read on the website and with so many caps. But it wasn't hard to copy and paste it into a Word document and format it myself. There is enough information in here and on the video for a great unit study on penguins. I let T pick a couple of the penguins that were his favorite and we researched them more. It fit right in with our CC where we were learning about the classification of living things so we found how the penguins could be classified the same and different than other penguins.

Then we watched the second DVD:  Lots and Lots of Penguins in the Wild. This one is 30 minutes long and full of breathtaking video of penguins in their natural habitat. There is no talking or teaching in this video, you just get to be a silent observer into the penguin world. There is no music so you can hear natural noises. In a world where media is constantly entertaining our kids and doesn't give them 5 quiet minutes to think, this was a refreshing change for a film. How cool to let kids observe and draw their own conclusions about what it is like to be a penguin. It left them with questions we could talk about, like "Why did the penguins all get around a seal when seals eat penguins?" C is 12 and didn't love this one - but he has been so ingrained with the fast paced media that I think he couldn't just sit and watch. T liked the jumping and climbing penguins best on this video and he and P would both giggle periodically when the penguins did something silly. 

Last, but certainly not least, is the bonus Party Like a Penguin DVD. {This is also included on the first DVD.}At first, the kids looked at me funny, because it is clearly geared for younger kiddos. But then, they jumped up and started dancing WITH the penguins. It turned into a nice little workout time with a song that won't quit running through my head! According to T, "It is an animated music video where a ton of penguins come together and PARTY!" He has the whole song memorized and he and P like to do it together. It was a fun surprise ending to our afternoon of penguin time.

I also found that you can download the songs from the penguin DVD. I guess they didn't need to sell "Party Like a Penguin" as a download because everyone automatically downloads that into their BRAIN. I swear that song starts playing in my head every time I see or hear the word penguin! haha!

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Disclaimer:  As a member of the TOS Crew, I received this product, at no cost to me, in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are mine.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

blogging through the alphabet {b}

B is for ballet.

Princess P has found the best ballet teacher in the whole world. We are so blessed to have found Beloved Dance Academy last year and P said last night that she never wants to take ballet from anyone else, ever. No pressure, Miss Amy, but you can never go out of business!

My friend told me about Beloved last year and we thought it would be fun to get our girls in ballet together, since they don't see each other very often with our schedules. I told several CC friends about it and we managed to about fill her class with friends.  We meet Mondays, right after CC and it is a perfect ending to our day. The boys play with friends at the park, I visit with their moms and dads, and P gets to "dance for Jesus" each week.

Miss Amy doesn't just teach dance. She teaches them about Jesus during the lessons, through the songs and words. I got there a little early to pick P up yesterday and overheard Miss Amy telling the girls they "aren't just like princesses, they ARE princesses. Their Father is God, who is the King of Kings." And reminded them they need to act like the princess they are - being kind and loving. It was so sweet.

Ballet has brought out a new, more confident side of Princess P too. I wish you could see her perform. Oh man - her smile runs off both sides of her face. It is adorable!

The songs are always perfectly chosen and she already wants me to download the one for this recital. We were listening to it last night and it is again, a perfect choice to teach the girls (and audience) about the One King.

Check out others who are blogging through the alphabet here and link up with us!

 Blogging Through the Alphabet

Monday, September 3, 2012

blogging through the alphabet {a}

I'm linking up with some other great bloggers for the next 26 weeks as we "blog through the alphabet".  It sounds like a great way to be creative and get to know some new blogger friends too. I'd love for you all to link up too...just follow the link at the bottom of this post.

This week's letter is A. Perfect timing as I am in Alabama for the week and on Sept. 1st, I became an Aunt again. I am so excited that my sister planned to have her baby when we were off school so I could come visit. I'm sure that was her plan all along. I haven't been to AL in over a year and was missing my family that all lives there.

On Saturday, I loaded up the kiddos and headed east. Arkansas may look like a normal sized state on the map, but driving your three kids across it makes it seem much, much wider. The kids are great travelers though and we had a great day with no car sickness - woohoo! We made really good time too...our best trip yet. I appreciate all the prayers of friends as families as I don't love making this drive alone but Big Daddy had to stay behind to work.

Here are a few pics from my sister's phone of our first day together. Baby W is beautifully perfect, IK was a blast today to hang with, and all the Bs are awesome as always. The kids are best friends with their cousins, which I love!

I drove 10 hours for this...We stopped by the hospital first thing and got some pics :)
IK dressed me up :)
There was a lot of dressing up going on today!
Together again - BFFs and their Webkinz :)
Two N cousins dressed up like Captain C today ;)
I'd love for you to join me on this blogging adventure. Leave me a comment and click here to link up with others :)
 Blogging Through the Alphabet

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pollination 101

The bees were out in full force today in our yard and we got up close and personal with them.

They were covered in pollen! One looked like he was stuck in a flower, head first. Pretty funny.