Friday, January 28, 2011

A Sad Kind of Happy

So my babysitting came to an end a week sooner than I expected since Chloe's mommy found a replacement sitter who was ready to go ahead and start.  We are so sad not having little Chloe here with us, giving us slobbery kisses and making us laugh.  But she's doing good at her new sitters and my focus is turned back to my home and family and homeschooling and these things make me happy.

My husband's grandmother passed away last week.  She lived a rich, full life of 94 years.  The past eight years however were spent in bondage to a body that simply wouldn't do what her mind told it to do.  In addition to 7 children, 19 grandchildren, 37 great-grandchildren, and 3 great-great grandchildren she also left behind a legacy of taking her children and grandchildren to church and asking everyone she came in contact with, even in the nursing home, if they went to church.  While we were sad to see her go, we know where Granny is and for that we are happy.

We had a car accident over two years ago and our case was just settled a couple weeks ago.  Sadly, our family business had a large bill that we had to take care of and that money is now gone.  However, I'm so thankful for God's perfect timing and that we WERE able to take care of the bill.  AND, learning that had we continued paying the minimum monthly payment on this bill it would have taken us 31 YEARS to pay it off and would have cost us an additional $15,000 makes me VERY happy it is now paid in full!

Life is not always easy, but how we CHOOSE to view each situation that comes our way goes a long way in determining who we are.  Are we going to choose to be overcomers who have joy even in the midst of hard times or are we going to let life get us down and depressed and steal our joy. 

I CHOOSE to see that Chloe is happy and well taken care of and that my children and their education is now getting my full attention instead of being sad and second-guessing letting her go and giving up the extra monthly income.  I CHOOSE to see that Granny is now running with her new glorified body down streets of gold with her Saviour as well as her husband she had to say good-bye to several years ago instead of being sad over not still having her here with us.  I CHOOSE to thank God for providing the way before YEARS of financial bondage overtook us instead of pouting over not being able to spend the money on other things.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


When we started homeschooling nine years ago I was simply a mommy and a wife.  Granted, I was a mommy to a 5-year-old, a 2-year-old, a 1-year-old, and a 2-month-old and was very busy, but it was a different kind of busy than what I am today.  My busyness came from taking care of my babies and our home and that was enough. 

Today I am still a wife and still a mommy, the only difference being that I am a mommy to a 14-year old, an 11-year-old, a 10-year-old, and a 9-year-old.  But in addition to my duties as a wife and mother, and of course a homeschooler, over the years I have also become the leader of a girl's group at church, a Sunday School teacher, the VBS director at our church, a babysitter, a homeschool product reviewer, and the 'upkeeper' of my hubby's at-home business while he works his full-time job.

But lately I have felt an unsettleing inside.  It didn't take me long to realize that it was the Lord nudging me to get my priorities back in order, to get back to what HE wants me to do.  First, I am a wife.  Secondly, a mother.  Those two things have to be a priority and to be honest, they have both taken a back seat to everything else.  I look around and see that my house is not a home.  It's not a haven for my husband to come home to after a long day at work.  I am not setting a good example to my children, especially my two daughters, in how to keep an orderly and comfortable home nor how to be a helpmeet.

God has also called me to homeschool our children, this I know for sure.  Our days used to center around learning, reading, and discovering together!  But as I've added more and more hats over the years I'm sad to say that we have evolved into a workbook, little-hands-on, independent-work type of homeschool.  This is the very opposite of what we loved about homeschooling in the first place.  While there's nothing wrong with homeschooling with workbooks and certainly, developing our children into independent learners is always the goal of homeschool families, for our family the unit study, hands-on approach much more fit our lifestyle and it's something I miss very much.  My children are growing up right before my eyes and I'm tired of letting other things get in the way of enjoying every single second of watching them do so.

I am simply doing too many things, and only doing a so-so job at each of them.  And because of this the very things I love the most have suffered.  Taking on too much has also taken it's toll on my health as well, and that is not good for anyone.  I have put my own health on the back burner and as a result I have put on a considerable amount of weight and my blood pressure is at an unhealthy level.  There once was a day when I rose early and exercised (and spent time with the Lord!) before anyone else in my family woke up.  That hasn't happened in a very long time and I miss it.  I am so thankful the Lord loves me and my family enough to gently show me that I need to realign my priorities to His.

As of a few months ago I am no longer over the girl's group at church.  In His perfect timing God made a way for this by replacing the group with another opportunity for our girls to be together and learn about the Lord. 

After next week I will no longer be babysitting.  This was a very difficult and heart-wrenching decision for me.  The little ones I watch have been with us for a year and have become like my own.  We all love them very, very much and will miss them greatly.  However, after much prayer I know that this is something I must do.  Doing the right thing is not always the easy thing.  Often times it requires sacrifice.

I am still praying and believe there will be even more changes to come in the near future.  When one makes decisions such as these it doesn't always sit well with others and that is sometimes a very hard thing.  Saying 'no' is not very popular these days.  However, as long as I know I am doing exactly what God wants me to do then I can go forward in confidence and peace, knowing that He will work out all the details and more importantly, I know He will be pleased with my obedience.  After all, obedience IS better than sacrifice and I'd rather obey Him than make others happy and sacrifice His blessings any day!

How about you?  Are you doing too much and thus sacrificing these most important years in your children's lives?  Years you can never get back?  What things can you put aside or say 'no' to (or maybe just 'not right now') in order to put God and your family back in first priority where they belong?  Are you willing to sacrifice the good for the better?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: The Life of Christ from the Gospel of John

Positive Action for Christ is a publishing house that has been offering Bible curriculum for churches and Christian schools since 1969.  Our family had the opportunity to review The Life of Christ from the Gospel of John, one of their many high school studies.

The Life of Christ study can be used independently by the student, taught by the parent, or a combination of both, which is how we have chose to use it.  It can also be used in a co-op or group setting or as a family devotional.  The student book is divided into seven units, each unit containing between three and seven chapter lessons for a total of 35 lessons, one for each week of a typical school year.

Each chapter/lesson begins with a short reading to help the student connect their world today with the lesson and the truths found in the Bible.  This leads into the Student Work, the questions in their textbook.  These questions are designed to help the student imagine themselves as part of the story of Christ.  They will "help you to put yourself in the place of the disciples, the Pharisees, or the multitudes as you investigate for yourself just who this Jesus is."  I am really impressed with the intent of the Student Work:

"Since the objective of this study is not just to fill students' minds with facts, but even more importantly to help them grow in the knowledge of their Saviour, we have designed this section to help their minds ponder Him and His teaching.  Our intent is not to use these questions to provide definitive answers, but rather to get the students thinking about the personalities and their character qualities as well as the meaning of the text and the spiritual truths it teaches."

The Student Work in the student textbook leads into the teacher's lesson, which, depending on how you schedule your school week, may very well come in the middle of the week.  The reason for this is because it is recommended that you discuss their answers to the student work as an introduction to the teacher lesson.  In doing so the student will already know many of the questions you will be discussing in the teacher lesson before you even begin.  Each chapter in the student textbook has space for the student to take notes during the teacher's lesson.

The Teacher's manual contains the teacher's lessons, copies of the student textbook along with answers to the student's fill-in-the-blank sections, as well as masters of chapter quizzes and unit tests.  Also included is a CD-rom of overhead transparencies to use with each lesson.  I'm not sure how many homeschool families will actually use these in this way since it requires an overhead projector or video equipment.  However, each 'transparency' can also be printed out, but duplicates of each are also in the student textbook so I'm not sure that this is really necessary.  Personally, I choose to not use the transparencies CD since it is just duplicating what is already in the student book.  If I were using this study in a group or classroom setting then I would most likely use the transparencies to teach the lessons since I would be teaching several students at one time instead of just my daughter.

A list of recommended scriptures for the student to memorize is also included in this study, all taken from the book of John.  While not mandatory, I choose to have my daughter memorize each lesson's corresponding scripture and have her write the verse from memory on her weekly quiz paper.

Having a daughter in high school it is my plan for her to earn a Bible credit as one of her required electives.  However, finding just the right study for her to complete in order to earn that credit is not as easy as it may seem.  The original plan was to have her earn this credit while completing the Bible study that corresponds with her American history book.  This turned out to be nearly impossible since her history is very in depth and requires most of her time during the school day.  To also complete all that is required for the Bible section was simply too much for her.  Besides, while the intent of tying history and the Bible together is a good idea, in my opinion it simply teaches facts more than helps her grow in her relationship with her Saviour.  That is what I like the most about The Life of Christ study, that the emphasis of the lessons is to challenge the student and help them apply the lessons to their own lives. 

Since it is my standard to give my complete and honest opinion of anything I review, I feel I must add that while researching the Positive Action for Christ website I came across their Doctrinal Statement and I do not agree with a few of their positions.  However, this is not a discussion on differing beliefs but I felt it important to inform you of this fact.  Despite our differing beliefs, I have yet to read anything in The Life of Christ study that teaches differently than what we teach our children, which I am very happy about since the study fits our needs so well.

To check out this study or other products from Positive Action for Christ simply click here.  They offer products for churches and Christian schools, which can also easily be adapted for homeschool families as well.  I have been considering purchasing their Bible curriculum for my other children who are in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades since I am so impressed with The Life of Christ study for our 9th grader.  If you'd like to see what each study covers you can download (or order for free) a Scope & Sequence here.

If you are interested in the Life of Christ study for your high schooler here is what it will cost you:
*Student Manual- $17.95
*Teacher's Manual- $41.95 (this is also available on DVD for $29.95)
*Deluxe Presentation DVD (which looks SUPER COOL!)- $79.95
*Overhead Transparencies (full color printed acetate transparencies)- $99.95

*As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received this product free of charge in exchange for my review and honest opinion of it. As a believer and follower of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I promise you that all my reviews contain only my own honest opinions...'cause He told me to not lie!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Review: Virtual Nerd

Did you know that according to the U.S. Department of Education 29% of eighth grade students tested at a "Below Basic" level in math in 2009?  At least 27% (and up to 67%) of student families in grades K-12 pay for tutoring services.  Typical hourly rates for private tutoring range from $30/hour to over $200/hour.  The private tutoring industry in the U.S. is estimated at over $5 billion annually.

If you are one of these families with a student in grades 7-12 who could use a little extra help in either math or science I am happy to tell you about Virtual Nerd.  Virtual Nerd is an award-winning subscription website that offers tutorial videos 24/7 in different areas of math and science. 

Currently students can view these video tutorials and receive top-notch help in Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Algebra II, and Intro. to Physics with much more scheduled to be available later this year, including Geometry, Calculus, Pre-Calculus, Chemistry, and Biology!  At only $49/month, that is like wrapping up SEVERAL tutors into one for a very affordable monthly price!  And if you're like me, when it comes to most of the subjects listed above, I'm MORE than happy to pay someone else to do the teaching and tutoring, someone who actually knows what they're doing!  LOL!

What I like most about Virtual Nerd is that as opposed to a physical-person tutor your student may see once a week for an hour at a time (if even that long), with Virtual Nerd they have 24/7 access to a tutor so the help is right there at their fingertips any time, any where.  And the amount of help available is so vast!  For example, the number of Algebra I tutorials is over 450 with over 15,000 step-by-step graphics created for just for Algebra I.  It would take a student over 18 hours to watch all the tutorial videos that go along with JUST Algebra I!  Now multiply that 18 hours by the typical hourly rate for tutors these days and I think you'll agree that Virtual Nerd is well worth looking into!

If you'd like to give Virtual Nerd a try you can do so here.  They have several subscription options, including a two-hour free trial if you'd just like to get a feel for how it all works.  One word of warning however.  On their pricing page it has an orange button that says: Educators click here, which takes you to a free educator sign up page.  This free service IS NOT available to homeschoolers.

*As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I received this product free of charge in exchange for my review and honest opinion of it. As a believer and follower of my Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, I promise you that all my reviews contain only my own honest opinions...'cause He told me to not lie!