Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Best Books I've Ever Read...

...are written by Francine Rivers.

As a busy wife, mom, homemaker, and homeschooler I had given up on reading for pleasure. There just wasn't enough time. That was, until I picked up a book by Francine Rivers one day at the library.

Oh my goodness! Mrs. Rivers is a phenomenal Christian fiction writer! Once I start, I have a very hard time putting her books down. Her stories are real-life situations in which her readers can relate to and the true Word of God is present throughout, helping guide the characters into truth. Reading these books has done something for me, more than just entertaining me. I feel like the characters are friends of mine, and ones I desire to be more like. I find myself thinking of them throughout the day and wondering how they would react and respond to things that come up in my daily life.

The first book I read was Redeeming Love.

In this splendid retelling of the biblical story of Hosea, bestselling author Francine Rivers pens a heartbreaking romance between a prostitute and the upright and kind farmer who marries her; the story also functions as a reminder of God's unconditional love for his people. Redeeming Love opens with the Gold Rush of 1850 and its rough-and-tumble atmosphere of greed and desire. Angel, who was sold into prostitution as a child, has learned to distrust all men, who see her only as a way to satisfy their lust. When the virtuous and spiritual-minded Michael Hosea is told by God to marry this "soiled dove," he obeys, despite his misgivings. As Angel learns to love him, she begins to hope again but is soon overwhelmed by fear and returns to her old life.

When I returned this book to the library, I picked up The Scarlet Thread.

With a loving and successful husband, two beautiful children, and a new house in her hometown, Sierra Madrid leads a happy life. Then her husband, Alex, announces that he has taken a job in Los Angeles and that the family will soon move, and Sierra's dream is shattered. Once in the fast lane of big-city life, Alex becomes more aloof and the family begins the slow process of disintegration. Sierra's only consolation in her despair is one of her ancestor's journals. Sierra's own journey through pain toward reconciliation and redemption is mirrored in the journal entries she reads.

And I just finished And the Shofar Blew.

In the Old Testament, God called his people to action with the blast of the shofar, a ram's horn. God still calls his people today. In this relevant and timely contemporary novel, dynamic young preacher Paul Hudson is committed to building his church--but at what cost? As Paul's zeal and ambition build, he loses sight of the One who called him. As Paul and those around him struggle to discern what it truly means to live out their faith, they must ultimately choose between their own will or God's plan.

Each book I read I swear it's my favorite! I can't wait to pick up another Francine Rivers book the next time I'm at the library. But I'd better wait. If I get one now I will never finish getting ready for us to start school on Monday!

Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary

I just love the books from 100 years ago, when times were simpler and much more innocent, don't you? If I could have only had my air conditioning, I would love to have lived back then. Sigh...

Anyway, I just found this wonderful tool this morning. It is an on-line, searchable version of Noah Webster's 1828 Dictionary!

"Noah Webster, the Father of American Christian education, wrote the first American dictionary and established a system of rules to govern spelling, grammar, and reading. This master linguist understood the power of words, their definitions, and the need for precise word usage in communication to maintain independence. Webster used the Bible as the foundation for his definitions.

No other dictionary compares with the Webster's 1828 dictionary. The English language has changed again and again and in many instances has become corrupt. The American Dictionary of the English Language is based upon God's written word, for Noah Webster used the Bible as the foundation for his definitions."

This website is a treasure of a find, but if you are like me and would love a copy that your children, and you, can pull off the shelf and flip through the actual pages of, you can purchase your own copy here...

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Thank God, Literally, For Amanda Bennett

I have been SO beyond busy this summer and you know what? I'm tired! I feel like I could crawl into my bed and sleep until Christmas.

And guess what? It's not over yet. I'm supposed to be having a yard sale this Friday and Saturday and I am dreading it so much. It wouldn't take much to talk me right out of the darn thing.

And I have our first day of school planned for next Monday! Ugh. And do you think I've had time to sit and make out some plans? Of course not.

And I really don't want to put off starting school another week because I wanted to start with an Olympic study, doing lots of fun things throughout the week and end it with sitting together as a family with pizza and popcorn watching the Opening Ceremonies on Friday night (8/8/08).

So I did something yesterday that is totally unlike me. I said to heck with stressing out over not having anything planned yet and I ordered Amanda Bennett's Summer Olympics 2008 unit study! Oh, I am SO glad I did! I have looked over it and I am SO impressed and excited to get started!

It is a 4-week study, so that means we'll start next Monday, the week before the Olympics starts, and we'll go through the entire three weeks of the Olympics, ending our study with the closing ceremonies!

The study is completely and totally laid out for me. Each day has all the kids learning about the same things, but there is one part written for younger kids and another geared toward students in 7-12 grade. I couldn't have asked for anything more perfect!

Each day there is a Bible verse or quote for the children to copy, words to look up to learn their definition, interesting people and places to learn about, and two summer Olympic sports to study. There is a list of books for all different ages that may be of interest and so much more!

I am so happy I have this treasure in my hands. I am not the least bit worried now about starting school next Monday. The Olympic study is the only thing we're going to do our first week, leaving lots of extra time for other fun things as well like going out for breakfast our first day, planning our own 'olympics' competitions (we'll be doing this sometime in August), spending time at the park, and we might just do something extra special on the first day of public school while all the other kids are at school!

If you would like to take advantage of this once-every-four-years event, which I think is a fantastic idea by the way, and you're stressing about what to do, then you may want to check out this wonderful unit study. I highly reccommend it!

Monday, July 28, 2008

This Week's Homeschool Freebies!

Here's this week's Homeschool Freeibes of the Day! In case you missed my original post about this wonderful website you can read it here.

Monday, July 28: Living On A Dime's "Money Management Guide"
Articles, tips & strategies for managing your money wisely!

Tuesday, July 29: "Favorite Kids' Recipes"
120 yummy recipes for kids, many of which they can make themselves!
Plus Extra resource!
"A Little Girl's Cookbook" - more old-time recipes & lessons

Wednesday, July 30: "Goops & How to Be Them"
The classic storybook on manners for very young readers -
hilarious rhymes, delightfully illustrated!

Thursday, July 31: "Birthday Parties Made Easy"
Tips and advice on making your children's birthday parties fun
for your kids AND stress-free for you

Friday, August 1: "Paying Too Dear for the Whistle" AUDIO
Benjamin Franklin's classic essay for young people in Audio form.
A wonderful life lesson they will long remember!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

He is Everything You'll Ever Need!

I AM the Lord, I'm the Almighty God
I AM the One for whom nothing is too hard
I AM the Shepherd and I AM the Door
I AM the Good News to the bound and the poor.


I AM the Righteous One and I AM the Lamb
I AM the Ram in the bush for Abraham
I AM the ultimate Sacrifice for sin
I AM your Redeemer, the Beginning and the END


I AM Jehovah and I AM the King
I AM Messiah, David's offspring
I AM your High Priest and I AM the Christ
I AM the Resurrection, I AM the Light


I AM the Bread and I AM the Wine
I AM your future so leave your past behind
I AM the One in the midst of two or three
I AM your Tabernacle, I AM your Jubilee


I AM Hope, I AM Peace, I AM Joy, I AM Rest
I AM your Comfort and Relief from your stress
I AM Strength, I AM Faith, I AM Love, I AM Power
I AM your Freedom this very hour.


Can I get a big AMEN! Praise God almighty who IS our great "I AM"! What do you need today? Rest? Comfort? Peace? Joy? Healing? Strength? Whatever it is that you need, Jesus Christ IS that very thing for you. In Him and Him alone will we find everything we need. I pray this song blesses you as much as it has me.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Freebies for Homeschoolers!

Have you heard about this website? It's called Homeschool Freebie of the Day, and who of us doesn't just love the word FREE?! What exactly is so great about this site? Well, just read this...

Every weekday, Monday through Friday, we’ll post a new homeschooling “freebie” to this site. What kind of “freebies”? Stuff like: Unit Studies… Ebooks… Audio Programs… Games… Samples… Lesson Plans… classic books… and other quality resources! This is the REAL THING.

Many of these will be products that you would normally pay for on their regular websites… but here on the Homeschool Freebie of the Day site, they’re 100% free… at least for that one day! Just download your copy and enjoy! It’s as simple as that!

If this sounds exciting you can either check the website each day to see what the freebie of the day is, or you can do what I did and subscribe to their “Homeschool Freebies Alert” mailing list. You will receive an email about the upcoming week’s freebies every Monday morning, so you can make sure you get the ones you want!

Here's a sample of last week's awesome freebies...

Monday, July 14: Learn to Play Chess (PDF ebook)
- Great beginners guide for homeschoolers

Tuesday, July 15: The Nest in the Honeysuckles (PDF ebook)
- Classic devotional for children

Wednesday, July 16: Homestead Simplicity: A Guide for Homemakers (PDF ebook)
- Excellent homemaking help from Lisa Barthuly

Thursday, July 17: 5 Minute Mysteries! (mp3 audios)
- Can your kids recognize the clues and solve these classic mysteries?
They'll sure have fun trying!

Friday, July 18: Kids Fun Recipes (PDF cookbook)
- 120 great treats kids can make themselves

Sound good? Sorry, but these were last week's freebies and no longer available. But, guess what I have? I have this week's freebies too! Here they are...

Monday, July 21: "Learn About Dogs" Video Collection -
12 fun, educational videos about "man's best friend"

Tuesday, July 22: "Learning About Time" -
great ebook of stories & math problems!

Wednesday, July 23: "Paper Sloyd" -
a classic (and fascinating) guide to building paper models
& toys for primary age schoolchildren - lots of cool projects your kids will love!

Thursday, July 24: "The Bible & Manners: A Quick Practical Application Guide"
Great verses and Q&A from the scriptures on this important topic

Friday, July 25: "The Fun of Cooking: A Story for Boys and Girls" -
another vintage story/cookbook chock full of great recipes & stories

So what are you waiting for? Go check out Homeschool Freebie of the Day! (And no, I make nothing for telling you about this. I just know there are other homeschool moms out there that love getting FREE stuff as much as I do! Now go enjoy!)

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Do you remember this commercial? I have to admit, it is cute and I do get tickled at it, but when I stop to think about it, it's really kind of sad that so many parents really do feel this way. It's such a relief to get their kids back to school so they don't have to deal with them all day every day.

But you know, for me, I also love back-to-school time. I had planned on schooling through the summer, but it hasn't worked out that way for us and I am starting to feel the itch. I love getting back into a new school year and the fun we have learning. Does that sound crazy?

It's so easy to get into a rut and get burned-out with homeschooling. That's why I keep it light and fun with our learning. Naturally English is English and there's not much 'fun' you can do with that (not that I have found anyway) and there are days when all of us would like to chuck our math books into the garbage, but instead of boring ourselves to death with a science or history textbook we get up and out of our chairs and go outside for science, we get our hands dirty and have fun doing experiements. We read exciting and interesting books for history and even...GASP... watch movies that have some historical value to them in order to better relate what we're learning about. We go on fun field trips and we play and laugh and create!

This year we'll be starting out by doing an Olympics study! We'll read and learn about China, make and eat our own Chinese food, have our own mini Olympics competition, learn some geography as we trace the torch route, study athletes and olympians, read about the very first Olympics, not to mention watch the Olympics and keep track of how many medals the USA wins! Doesn't that sound like fun? It does to me. And it's something the kids will really enjoy and remember. We did this four years ago and they still talk about it.

So come on! Get excited and make up your mind that this school year is going to be FUN! It can be if we just chill out and relax and realize that we're not doing 'school at home' but we're teaching our kids to love learning!

By the way, if you'd like some help planning an Olympic study, here are some links for you...

*Summer Olympics 2008 Unit Study
*Olympics and China unit study
*Olympics Unit Study by the Notgrass Company
*Wilma Unlimited-this is the unit study I put together and used for the 2004 Olympics

And there are a lot more ideas here, put together by other homeschooling moms!

I Have A Problem

Look at this picture and tell me what you think my problem is, besides not buying the most healthiest things in the store.

Our Review of WALL-E

We took the kids on opening night to see the new Disney/Pixar movie, Wall-E. It was cute, the kids really liked it. I'm sure it will find it's way to our movie collection like all the other Pixar movies have.

The story seemed... I don't know. Short? Would that be the word? The story line itself seemed short, while dragging on at the same time. Does that make sense? I don't know. It's kind of hard to explain. And Sweetie and I both agreed that it felt like it had a 'green/save-the-earth' kind of feel to it, but isn't that what's 'in' nowadays anyway?

But overall we had a good time. We laughed and enjoyed the movie, so I guess it gets at least one thumbs up from our family.

My How Time Flies

My little man, my first-born son, my baby boy is growing up way too fast. Here are just a few pictures I've captured of him lately. Can he really be 9 already?

He came up with his own 'recipe' and made breakfast for everyone. And let me tell you, it was very yummy!

Here he is catching up on all the latest news.

And this is the day he got to go to work with dad. In case you're wondering just exactly what Sweetie does that he can wear shorts, sandals, and a hat to work, it was a Saturday and he was just going in to install some software. Aren't they cute? Handsome picked his clothes out only after he saw what dad was wearing. He's even wearing a plain white T-shirt under his orange shirt, just like dad! He's at the age where he simply worships his dad. It's so precious... I hope it lasts forever.

King's Island!

We went with our church youth group to King's Island a few weeks ago and it was so much fun! It was Baby Girl's first time on any roller coasters and she loved them. Unfortunately, either mom or dad had to go on them with her. UGH. I'm starting to feel old. Let's just say that I will NEVER ride the Beast again, that's for sure! Think about it... a WOODEN roller coaster? Not only does that not even sound safe, but that thing jerks you so hard that I actually had bruises on my sides from it and had to take two Excedrin after I got off of it! NOOOO thank you.

And the entire time up the first big incline of the Vortex I had my eyes squeezed shut tight, repenting for everything I've ever done...outloud, including being so stupid as to get on that thing!

But then I look at this smile on Princess's face and it was all worth it. This is what it's all about, making those precious, wonderful memories with your children.

Two of My Passions Together in One

I am passionate about several things, but I would have to say that two of my biggest things are babies and photography. When you put both of these things together, well, it just doesn't get any better than that.

Last February I was hired along with another lady to take the newborn pictures at our local hospital. I would do it 3 days one week and 4 days the next. Talk about the prime job! Getting paid to handle and photograph newborn babies?! I couldn't believe I was so lucky! But, after about 4 months or so the Lord made it very clear that I was to be home with my own babies so now I only do it when the other lady needs me to, such as if one of her children are sick or something like that.

Anyway, one of my very best friends from middle school on just had her second little boy a couple of weeks ago. While at the hospital visiting them I snapped these pictures. I absolutely love black and white pictures (sepia is ok, but not my favorite). They have such an old-timey, sentimental feeling to them. Plus, the baby had broken out in a really bad rash after being bathed in head-to-toe baby wash, so turning these black and white makes him look just heavenly. I'm no professional by any means, but I do so enjoy it. Here are some of my favorites...

Our Own Jurassic Park!

Some good friends of ours lovingly passed on some things their children no longer played with and this was the first thing Handsome pulled out, as I had predicted to my friend he would. It's a puzzle that he had to put together! Isn't that just the coolest?

It looks like Rex got in a fight with Darth Vader, but actually Handsome used the light saber to keep the dinosaur from falling over. LOL!

Boys will be boys!

Update On Mom's Fireworks Injury

Just a quick update on my mom's firework injury. Thankfully it was nothing more than the picture you see above. Believe me, that was enough. I can't believe how scary it was! Handsome actually saw it hit my mom and said that when it hit her it exploded just like it would have up in the sky! I can't even stand to think about it.

I did an on-line search about firework injuries and the pictures that came up were so horribly greusome! I am so thankful for God's protection as it could have been SO much worse. It's not something I've really ever thought much about, but believe me, after seeing those pictures of what can happen, the 4th of July will forever more be approached with EXTREME caution on my part!

Friday, July 4, 2008

WARNING: Fireworks are Fun, But Can Be Dangerous...Our Story

Tonight, as we were setting off fireworks here at home, one was obviously a faulty one. After Honey lit it the entire bottom blew out of it and caused it to fall over on it's side. One of the rockets shot out and headed straight for where the rest of us were sitting... me, my mom, our four kids, a neighbor boy, and Baby Girl's best friend!

It all happened so fast and was a truly horrifying moment.

All I saw was rockets shooting off and flames and everyone running and screaming. Without even thinking all I could yell over and over was 'Oh my God, Oh my God' because I KNEW that someone had been hit, I had seen the fire! It was dark... and I couldn't see... and there were six kids and my mom and Honey... running and screaming... I didn't know who was hit or hurt or on fire. Oh, even now I can't stand to think back on it.

Thank GOD in heaven, miraculously none of the kids were touched. I just shudder when I think how bad it would have been had that happened. Unfortunately, it was my mom that had been hit. One of the rockets shot off straight at her and hit her from only about 15 feet away. All I remember seeing was white flames and her jumping up and running. Thankfully it hit her shirt (and obviously her pants as we later saw) and must have flared out and then died (I'm guessing that was the flames I saw), but the extreme heat was enough to scorch her shirt.

That has to be the scariest moment I have ever lived. It all happened so fast and it was all so confusing that after it was all over and the adrenline was gone all us girls just broke down and cried.

Bless my mom's heart. She kept saying, "I'm fine, I'm fine". I know she was just trying to make us feel better, but it didn't help. The thing I'm now most concerned about is that it hit her on the same shoulder she had surgery on at the end of November and she JUST finished a year of physical therapy last week! You know your first instinct when you're hit by something is to jerk away and I'm just praying that she hasn't reinjured her shoulder.

But do you know what I'm most thankful for out of this? Honey has felt burdened all day but wasn't sure why. Thank goodness he knows to pray whenever he feels that way. (If you're not sure what I mean, the word burden means "a prophecy of a calamitous or disastrous nature" and the word prophecy in that definition means "a miracle of knowledge, a declaration or description or representation of something future, beyond the power of human sagacity to foresee, discern, or conjecture". I have seen the Lord burden people when He knows something not-so-good is coming so they will pray, and we know prayer changes things. Feeling a burden is like having a heaviness in your chest. You know something is wrong, you just don't know what. If you ever feel this way, please, PLEASE, I beg of you, don't just push it aside. PRAY!)

God is SO good. I am so thankful He loves us enough to burden us, to protect us, and to fogive us. I'm so undeserving of His love, yet no one is more thankful for it. You see, my little Princess had been sitting in the chair my mom was in when she got hit. Had Princess still been there she would have been hit full force in the face. I don't think I need to elaborate. All I can do is shake my head in amazement and thankfulness.

Not nearly as important as people getting hit, but Honey also drove home a brand new Suburban from work this weekend so it wouldn't be left in the parking lot all weekend and thankfully it wasn't hit either, although one of the rockets also shot off that way towards it. Can you imagine him going into work Monday morning? "Uh, boss? You're never going to believe this..."

Anyway, please, PLEASE have fun and enjoy this wonderful holiday but take our story as a warning. Don't fool around with fireworks. They have warning labels on them for a reason. Sit as far away as possible to watch them (that's our fault, we KNEW better!) Take every precaution you can to protect those you love (as well as those you may not like so much).