Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity. ~ Margaret D. Nadald

Our Father also gifted us with the nature to nurture, keen sensitivity to the Spirit, selflessness, discernment, and heroic faith. No wonder our Father placed us at the heart of the family and thus at the center of the plan of salvation. We are the Lord's secret weapon. ~ Sheri Dew

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31 August 2011

TOS Review - Flea Circus

So... remember how I told you that Nathan and I were busy having fun testing out products?? In light of that, here's another review for you! (You'll get another one in 2 days too :-D)!

I was REALLY excited to get this product.... cause it's a game! I should seriously take a picture of our game closet for you, we definitely like a good game and add to that collection every year for our anniversary :-). Anyway! A game creator that I really enjoy is Reiner Knizia, and guess what?? This game is officially known as "Reiner Knizia's Amazing Flea Circus"! The box is even fun to look at!

So? How does it play? Very simply... which is BEAUTIFUL! The suggested ages of play on Flea Circus are 6 and up and it is meant for 2-6 players. This game is a card game, but it has a little bit of a twist that makes it even more enjoyable for the little people (okay, maybe the adults get a kick out of it too)... we'll get to that! :-)

Upon opening the box you have the following contents:
*55 cards (An assortment of "attractions", "free tickets", "flea acrobats", and "animal catchers")
*20 rubber cats
*20 rubber dogs
*And of course, the rules... which consist of one piece of paper folded in half... like I said, the simplicity is nice!

Did you catch the rubber animals stuck in there?? Ha! That's what makes scoring (and playing) this game interesting. Dogs are worth 2 points and cats are worth 1.... don't know how I feel about the how assessment on the worth of each animal there, but that'll have to be for another post!

Flea circus literally takes about 10 minutes to play and even my 6 year old caught on really fast. Once you know what each card does you're set! There's no other required reading as the cards are just pictures.

How do you play?

-Each person gets 5 cards in their hand and one at a time puts on a "show." A show is the pile that you start right in front of you to have dog and cat "spectators" come and watch. I like that there's a "math" concept hidden here where children have to figure out how many of each animal they are going to get in order to have the right number of spectators around. I.e. if my card let's me get 3 spectators and all I want is dogs in my pile, then I'm going to have to give a cat back etc. Or, I get 2 spectators this round... that means 1 dog or 2 cats right? And then towards the end of the game you find that you're having to do a lot more exchanging with the pile in the center to even get the proper amount because there aren't any of one animal any more, or not enough.

The game ends when all of the cats and dogs (that you got to dump into piles in the center of the table at the beginning.... my favorite part!) are gone. Then it's to counting up how many cats and dogs each person has to determine a winner.

My oldest son gave this game 2 thumbs up and his younger siblings are chewing at the bit to play. Personally I haven't started playing with my next youngest children because I can see how it could be a little confusing for them to think through, but honestly when it comes down to it all they'd have to do is put down a card and I'd just ask them if they want a cat/dog or combination. It wouldn't be a big deal. Who cares if they don't really understand what the cards mean? *laugh* After putting that into words I think we're going to have to play as a family today, I'm feeling a little guilty for not involving them sooner. In my defense though, I wanted to get my oldest's opinion free of "background noise." So his favorite things are:

**The pictures on the cards (which I agree with, they're fun and bright colored).
**The cats and dogs (They do add enjoyment to the game).

Do I have any dislikes? Not necessarily. I think I would prefer a little bit sturdier of a card, but they work the way that they are. There's also a few cards in this game that could cause, umm... a little friction. My husband and I played this a few times before my son ever got his hands on it and we quickly realized that a few cards/ways of play that allow a player to TAKE spectators from OPPONENTS could turn tables quickly and cause hard feelings etc. I don't think that's any reason not to buy it (I mean, what we normally play and are gearing our kids for are 30 min+ strategy games as well as games like chess.... pieces will be taken! Plans will need to be revised!), I'm just letting you know that this isn't just a kids game where there is no strategy or adversity :-D. It's really quite clever.

Would I recommend this game to you? Absolutely! It's great to feel like you can sit down and play a game with your child that they enjoy and that doesn't take up the whole table and/or afternoon. This is definitely a first pick for me when it comes to getting the question "Mom, will you play a game with me?" We can usually even get in 2-3 rounds.

The makers of this product, R&R Games, sells Flea Circus on their website for $15.95.....

BUT, as a special offer to you they are offering a 20% discount on all of their products through the end of the year!!!! The discount code to use on their website is CREW20.

If you like a good game and have younger kids at your house, you'll enjoy this one!

**As a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review of its content. I have not received any other compensation for the opinions stated here, and they were not promised a positive review.**

29 August 2011

TOS Review - How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. For Your Kids

I was recently asked to review a new book put out by Apologia (which I had only known of as a company that produced Christian base science curriculums previous to receiving this material). Written by Rachael Carman, the book is called How to Have a H.E.A.R.T for Your Kids, it retails for $13 and is found under Apologia Press's Resources for Parents.... which I definitely think is appropriate placement! I am not one to shy away from any resource that will help me, and in most cases at least remind me, of the things that I need to be doing to ensure a strong relationship with my spouse and children. This book is no exception and I'm grateful for the opportunity that I had to read it and add to my "resources"!

I'll admit that I was a bit thrown off by the title of this book once I started reading the core of it, but I appreciate how the material is presented. It's no mistake that the word H.E.A.R.T is printed as such... it's an acronym that stands for Have a heart for the things of God, Enrich your marriage, Accept your kids, Release them to God, and Teach them the truth.

The introduction to this book is wonderful because you really get a feel for Rachael and her journey towards homeschooling. She's very relatable and candid as she describes how she went from dreaming of the time she would have to herself while her children were at school, to a knowledge that she was the teacher that their family had been praying for their children. From here she hops right into breaking apart the word H.E.A.R.T.

It's absolutely fitting that a book on having a heart for your children starts with addressing OUR personal relationship with God. However, I have to admit, I feel like the writing style and feel that I had when reading the introduction dropped off a bit here. Don't get me wrong, things did pick back up for me afterwards, I just didn't care for how this chapter was presented, despite the conviction that I feel that we absolutely DO need to assess and access our relationship with God before we can really be the parents that we need to be. Rachael states several times in this work how these children are God's and placed here for His purposes... so they're really more on loan to us and we need to be in touch with Him so we know how to help our children. I couldn't agree more! ... I'm just funny about how messages are put to me and for some reason this chapter was hard for me to get through.

Moving on! I could have ran up and hugged Rachael when I saw a chapter on Enriching the relationship with your spouse! I think this point often gets missed by people. However, children need to see a loving relationship between their parents and to feel safety and love. I love the attention that is given to the lessons that children learn from how parents treat each other, and how parents can show love for one another. I'm a pretty big proponent of treating your husband like a real man and Rachael reminds women of this need with way more tack then I'm sure I've ever come across with! You really need to read this chapter, it made me smile :-).

The last three chapters really rolled into one for me and were delightful to read. I'm a human and while I have 500 things on my mind, I can in no way keep the millions of things I've learned constantly on my mind... (I'm pretty sure that's why the scriptures remind us so often to remember things and that they're so repetitive... this stuff is that important!)... so it was really wonderful for me to be reminded that "Noah, Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Caleb, Gideon, Elijah, Samuel, David, Jeremiah, Isaiah, Daniel", and other Old Testament prophets were all sent at just the right time to help lead God's people. (Yep, enter a huge DUH moment for me right here!) Rachael really makes you think about the things that you're praying for or what others are praying for i.e. righteous fathers, mothers and leaders, cures for illnesses, etc.... and then to remember that the answers to those prayers could very well be living under your roof. How's that for perspective?! Again, these children are not ours but are placed here for His purposes. I love the depth that she reaches into this subject through A.R.T and would highly recommend this book even if you only read these chapters.

On a personal level, my husband who hadn't read this book and didn't have any idea of what I was specifically reading in this book, made a comment to me one day a couple of weeks ago that really caused me to stop. He was taking note about how we try to raise our children with a strong base in the gospel and relate all things back to our Heavenly Father, and how we strive to have our children grow up different from "the norm." While that is the mission of many of you reading this I'm sure, he reminded me that when we were trying to have children that we made a promise in our prayers that we would raise them up to Him and how wonderful it was that we have received so much help from Him in doing so. Hello??? How could I have forgotten so easily!! I do remember the prayers we prayed and the sadness we felt when we weren't blessed with children in our time. We did pray earnestly that we would raise them up to Him and we meant it with everything that we had! How blessed and grateful I was to be reminded of this and to see His hand in these things, and then to turn around in How to Have a H.E.A.R.T for Your Kids and read the words that our children are God's and that we need to accept them, teach them truth and release them to God? We promise to raise these children up and release them to Him! Oh my, I was hit with full force on this topic!

Minus my little hiccup at the beginning of this book, I wouldn't have wanted to miss this read! The "ah ha" and "oh yah" moments that I had in response to reading this material have really helped me through a time where I was so tired I was starting to forget why I was doing the things I was doing. It's cliche, but I really am looking forward to tomorrow and the days ahead with increase vigor thanks to the reminders I got from this book (surely I'm not the only one who has moments that require this kind of kick in the right direction?) The world needs people to stand up for truth and right and we're absolutely responsible for raising children fit for the tasks at hand! We need them and God needs them! So, while we are learning to have a heart for our kids, we also learn that it isn't about us! Weird huh? :-D.

I promote truth and this book speaks truth. I hope you'll go to the Apologia website and read a sample chapter from How to Have a H.E.A.R.T. for Your Kids.

**As a member of the 2011 TOS Homeschool Crew I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review of its content. I have not received any other compensation for the opinions stated here.**

28 August 2011

He Blogs!

As a homeschool mom I'm very blessed to not have to travel the road alone. My husband stands as a great supporter to me, and has been helpful in giving straight forward answers when others ask questions (I tend to droll a bit and can't form sentences well... hey, I have years of research in my head... condensing is hard!). Anyway, my husband, who I guess you get to know now as Nathan now that he's gone public, has started a blog with dad's in mind. Maybe your husband wants to get access to the thoughts of another homeschooling dad, or maybe you just want to get some insight on things from a man's perspective or even ask a question that's been on your mind... in any case, he wanted to start blogging to share his thoughts on homeschooling, family, life, etc., from his point of view. So, if you're interested, go give my "Man of the House"'s blog a scroll through and see if you might want to start following him too :-)

23 August 2011

2009 REPOST: Back to School Frenzy

In response to how annoyed I've been in the Facebook world and in everyday, I went and found a post that I wrote a couple of years ago and figured it was time to let it resurface. Seems like the longer we keep up with the homeschooling thing and the more we're in touch with our kids and God's plan for them, that my stance on this whole issue becomes solidified to the point where half the conversations in this house is about how grateful we are for homeschooling. Anyway! This is where I was in August 2009... you can just magnify my thoughts by about a thousand now :-).

There's something about the good ol' "Back to School" environment that makes me uneasy. I must first preface my thoughts with the mention that I am in no way anti-public school. I believe public-schools serve a good purpose to many people and are the right option for others, even though it isn't right for our family dynamic. I think watching the movie "Freedom Writer's" reminds us all how powerful an education, and a teacher that really cares, can be.

What I'm talking about here is the craziness that seems to ensue on the brink of a new school year. I almost had to cancel my Facebook account because I couldn't handle all the complaints mom's were throwing left and right about "what was needed" to get their kids off. Personally, I've seen the tax bill on my home and the amazingly large percentage (like 97%) of which goes to public education. However, despite the amount of money that people pay in taxes (in many areas, I know there are some counties that don't have property taxes or the money doesn't go into education... mainly I've only encountered that in AL though), parents and even teachers provide a good deal of the in-class materials, activities, and field trips for their students. We'd end up paying about $100 per kid to send them to public school just on registration day alone! I have a problem with this.
In any case, I've been bombarded with the knowledge that school supply lists are not only large, but very specific. Instead of parents being able to buy cheaper crayons, or tissues they're asked to buy name brands like Crayola and Puff's Plus with lotion. They're also being asked for specific colors of folders and other things that would be cheaper found in bulk or random finds. I've spent two weeks reading and hearing of these complaints of how these items are totalling around $100 and they still haven't found everything on the list, and how school clothes for their kids are racking up, and I ask myself.... why?

I'm a homeschooler... it's no secret... and yes, we're the weird kind! :-) Even reading about the stresses of these other mom's stresses ME out. Once all of those supplies are found and "YAY" school starts, then everyone is getting up early, mom is making sure homework is finished and everyone has the right things to take with them, and getting everyone ready, and lunches made, and, and, and, and, and then getting everyone into the car and back and forth from school(s) at different times and with different kids, and, and, and.... how does this not create ulcer's for others? I don't know how people with more then one kid do it! I know you "just do," but seriously, if you have 3 or 4 kids, chances are you're back and forth to the school an average of 6 times a day. And when you get home you get to do what 3-4 other people (your kids teachers) want you to do... which sometimes means 3-4 hours of work when you've already spent the day "learning" and if you try to throw in extracurricular stuff on top of that?? I honestly think public school mom's are superhero's because there are literally not enough hours in the day to do all that plus be a wife/mother/housekeeper/etc.

So, my big pet peeve that I set out to write about is this... "the frenzy." I HATE this time of year for one specific reason... and normal people are kept from this because I do try and censor myself in public, but this is one place that I put all my "PC" abilities away for a moment so since you're reading this, here's what I REALLY think and want to say..... "I am so sick and tired of hearing people rejoicing about sending their kids away!" It's honestly the saddest thing that I can think of. It's one thing to talk up how much fun they'll have, or how great a teacher there is, or whatever, but to just talk nonstop about how much having your kid around is bugging you and they just need to go away? How do you think that makes them feel that their own mom doesn't want them around?

I get so many mixed feelings around this time of year that I just want to hide in my house until its over. I'm overfilled with mom's so excited to get rid of their kids, and yet so irritated about what they have to do, and then whining about how much they wish they could get done while their kids were done but can't (because they're running to and from the school), and how hard mornings are...

Anyway! Onto happier thoughts. I like a good clean house like most people, and like most people that's easier to achieve when no one is around. Now, minus the times that space alien's come and abduct my children, I don't usually get to have no one around while I'm cleaning, but I get a lot in return:

-the kids get up when they're ready.... everyone is happier for this, and they get the rest they need. We don't have to wake people up from naps to go sit in line to pick up kids, and I think when our kids are teenagers, they're really going to love the fact that mom isn't going to come and beat on their door in the morning.

-School and "learning" is a year round event, and everyday holds new opportunities in the most average of places... like doing household chores, exploring outside, going to the store. I see my kids wondering and exploring their world and really truly learning things that will stay with them for a lifetime. They don't think of learning as something that starts and stops because of specific dates, but of something that is continuous and worth their attention.

-I'm very selfish and LOVE to watch my kids learn new things. I don't want to share this with anyone else! I want to be there watching them grow every step of the way. There's a light in their eyes that is worth every moment of "hardship" that comes with having everyone at home all the time. And they get to share it with you too! Homeschooling allows us yet another tying bond that brings us closer together and the kids can feel that.

-We get to choose what we're going to do everyday! My personality conflicts with trying to keep other people's time schedules. I dread having to be somewhere at a specific time and that's especially dreadful when I have to actually DO something that someone else wants me to. I know, I'm a funny duck, but what can you do? Trying to figure out someone else's homework assignment for my kids (especially if I don't see the utility in it and therefore it's just taking away from family time by providing 'busy work') doesn't bode well with me.

-My kids always have something to say! When dad comes home and asks about their day there's always something to tell him... and yes, building houses and towers out of lego's or putting together puzzles, counts! Normal school days are LONG, so, if my kids were going to be gone at one I would demand that they have something to tell me everyday. The statement "we're not really doing anything right now" is ludicrous! This could probably be minimized by school's having flexibility with their mandatory class dates... let's face it, starting school midweek or later isn't doing much but meeting their "days of school" requirements... and close to no one starts new curriculum right before a holiday.

Anyway! I'd best go and tend to things around the house, but it's been nice to hash out some of my thoughts for a minute! I don't know that there's any real "solution" to my problem(s), although, hiding in my house does tend to help! :-)

Good luck with the school year, whatever form it may take in your life. Try to enjoy it, and remember that school is a place of learning and learning should be something that is loved and encouraged throughout a lifetime!

11 August 2011

Free Issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!

I started my relationship with The Old Schoolhouse Magazine about 4 years ago when I thought to myself "hmm.... there's a magazine for everything, surely there is one for homeschooling!" And there was :-). My friend google brought them to me, and I've read many articles that have meant a lot to me and my family. They also frequently have free e-books for subscribers to their emails, and I can "blame" one I came across almost 3 years ago for an extra kick to change to cloth diapers as well as look into more natural cleaning etc. Which then reminds me, I can "blame" it for my making our laundry soap the last few years too!!! So, they've definitely been a blessing to me, and this year being on "the homeschool crew" has brought me in contact with things that I've NEEDED, not just wanted.

So... I'm VERY happy to share with you the free Summer issue of The Old Schoolhouse Magazine!!!


TOS Reviews on their way!

My husband and I have had a lot of fun over the last little bit... and our children get especially excited when we get a knock at the door from the UPS guy or stop at the mailbox. As part of being a part of The Old Schoolhouse review team this year, we're starting to see just how fun and what a blessing it is!! Here are the products I have received and will start posting reviews of from the end of August through September. Many of these companies I had never heard of before, so I'm really excited to have the opportunity to share them with you and hope that I perhaps you'll find the curriculum, game and/or book that you're looking for!




RnR Games Flea Circus