Wednesday, September 30, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- EDUDPS


Sometimes as my oldest child edges toward high school I fear I will miss something important or we will attend graduation without any idea what to do next. Through EDUDPS (Educational Diagnostic Prescriptive Services) we found a helpful tool. Definitely fluff-free as advertised, but packed with useful information.

The Complete Career, College and High School Guide for Homeschoolers offers over 200 pages that include:
  • self-evaluations of learning style, interests, work environment preferences, and personality
  • identifying potential college/career tracks based on the self-evaluations
  • items of consideration for men as leaders of their home
  • possible stay-at-home and part-time jobs for moms and wives
  • lists of occupations
  • technical school vs. college education
  • considerations for various occupations including middle school and high school courses to complete, activities to get involved in, and candidates to interview
  • homeschooling high school tips
  • sample high school study plans
  • twelve principles for raising godly teenagers (some great information here)
  • volunteering ideas
  • CLEP and AP tests
  • Calculating credits and GPA
  • Transcripts
  • ACT, SAT prep
  • Scholarships
  • planning worksheets
  • and more!

If you need a little reassurance that your homeschooled middle schooler or high schooler is headed the right direction this book can offer that and lots of information and direction.

What we loved . . .

I went through a number of the evaluations with my seventh grader and it gave us some great insight into his preferences and skills. I had always pegged him as an auditory learner, but as we examined the types together we concluded he leaned more strongly towards a kinesthetic learner. This has already helped in my own approach to his learning. I generally try to incorporate all the learning styles as I teach them, but this has still altered my perspective a bit

Lots of information for now and to tuck away for the future

A dose of confidence. We can do this!

What we tweaked . . .

Since he is just in seventh grade I didn't feel the need to nail down lots of specifics right now, but it has given us a general direction that we can revisit and refine in the next few years

I do still want to keep his learning experience somewhat broad to help him explore things he might not have considered otherwise.

We did the evaluations out loud together and I recorded the answers and tallied them up as we went. In this way one book could easily be used for multiple children (or adults!)

All in all I was very impressed with the amount of information available in this guide. Right now you can purchase the ebook for $26.20, but it usually runs $34.95. The soft-cover book is just a few dollars more, $39.95. That ebook is a great price, but a print edition would be much easier to work through, especially with multiple children.

We also got to review a vocabulary builder program, great for SAT/ACT prep, or just for everyday schooling with all your kids. Roots and Fruits breaks down words and you focus on them in cohesive groups. It is available in ebook format regularly for $14.98, on sale a limited time for $11.25 (25% off). Printed pages are $17.48 plain or $19.98 with comb binding. Either way, a pretty good deal for such a long-term use program.

This program takes little time on a daily basis and incorporates easily into the school day, even with a diverse group of ages.

What we loved . . .

Everyone could enjoy this one. I expected bigger words of the older kids, and as the book recommended, they could handle two roots each week. We could still do this mostly together.

Easy to pick up and implement. The book with its list of 673 roots and prefixes and 1716 vocabulary words along with some index cards is about all you need to start boosting your child's vocabulary in 15 minutes a day.

Connection to Latin and Greek. Even though we don't study these right now (although I tried at one time), I do want the kids to see how much of what we say builds on these languages.

What we tweaked . . .

Since we have not done any serious vocabulary study before, we kept it simple at the start with everyone tackling just one a week. Eventually the older kids get two, but while we all acclimated we stayed with one.

Challenges . . .

This product is somewhat basic, and some sections I would have liked longer lists of vocabulary words at least as options. I could always pull them out on my own, but it would be nice to have a more extensive list ready to use.

**Their ebooks use special software that requires an extra download, but we did not have any problems with this going through easily and quickly. However, you are limited to two printouts of the product, so I would generally recommend going with their printed products because any partial printing counts as one print. Or, plan on printing it out in its entirety and storing it that way for needed copying for your use.

To see if these products would make a good addition to your homeschool, check out the EDUDPS website for other information and some free downloads. Also, check out more TOS Crew Reviews on these and other EDUDPS products.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Little Blessings winners

As I announced earlier, I have now selected two winners for the Little Blessings books. You will each receive one of the books mailed directly from the publisher.

The winning numbers are: 12 and 2!
- Eunice and Denise

If you have not already, you should be receiving an email from my shortly. Please get back to me soon so you can start enjoying these sweet books.

Check your inbox.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

TOS Crew review -- A Journey Through Learning


A couple years ago we discovered the fun of lapbooking. Having completed a couple lapbooks on our own, I was excited to get to review a few lapbooks from A Journey Through Learning.

The lapbooks are created in three seperate sections which get glued together for the final product.

They have many lapbooks available covering a variety of academic subjects and very reasonably priced. And, you don't have to wait for them to ship in the mail as they are available for immediate download. With so many great topics to choose from we decided to use The Parables of Jesus for our Bible time for about a month.

The Parables of Jesus

What we loved . . .

Everything you need to know is right there. We have lapbooked before, but I lack any strong creative genes, so I struggled to lead my kids well in putting together creative lapbooks. We always found ourselves using the same templates. They came out looking a bit dry. Still fun, still capturing the knowledge, but not the works of art I had imagined filing away. With A Journey Through Learning's lapbooks we each created our own lapbook that packed in the information while retaining our individual flavor in the process.

The ebook is easy to work with, print out the pages you need (however many copies you need), and then read through one section (or more) each day.

Kept our Bible time very hands on and interactive.

Got the kids excited about parables. Day two, both my older girls came with passages of Scripture they wanted to read with parables they had found on their own. Gotta love that!

Incredibly easy to use. They tell you where to cut, glue, staple, etc. They include a picture of the finished product as well as a placement diagram with each section to remind you where every piece belongs.

What we tweaked . . .

Not much. I did work more closely with my younger kids to help them write in the results of our discussions, but other than that, even my five year old had a fairly easy time participating.

We often got carried away in our discussions of the parables. I love that the authors encourage you to focus on the main point, and we did. We examined our lives and our home in light of what Jesus taught in each parable. I especially treasured our talk on storing up treasure in heaven, and what that really looks like. The month flew quickly by.

You could print the whole book if you prefer to read from paper. However, I found it easy enough to print what they needed to cut out for the day and then read the lessons from the computer screen while they began cutting.

They really know their parables now.

I would definitely recommend these lapbooks to someone wanting to try out a lapbook. I have heard from some experienced lapbookers that they don't like being "locked in" to their template and format, so if you really enjoy putting together all your own material this might not be your thing. Or, it might be a great starting point for something a bit different than you would have done without the materials.

We will likely be checking out some of their other lapbooks as well. Most of them run $13 for the download, $14 for a CD of the material, or $21 to order a printed copy. They also have minilapbooks, copywork, and other materials available on their website.

Check out more reviews at the TOS Crew's blog.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Weekly wrap up -- September 25

Apparently busy is the new normal in our house. Ballet, AWANA, gym and swim, soccer, and lots of life happening around here. We have enjoyed some down time as well, and the weather has cooperated for lots of outside relaxing.

But, this week we had to say good-bye to our chicks:
They are off to the farm where they will hopefully live a long and happy life. :-) Great learning experience, but it was definitely time to go.

- We had so many great times together this week. I so enjoy schooling all together. The conversations, questions, discussions, laughter is absolutely priceless.
- Watching the lightbulbs come on. Reading with the little ones, piano with the older ones, so exciting to see learning clicking!

- Illness. Nothing major, but some sniffles, and slightly upset stomachs, and fatigue. No real sick days in our house, but not quite as productive as usual either. One of the many reasons we school year round.

- We finished up Homer Price and Mr. Popper's Penguins. Fun, fairly short reads. Now we are listening to Peter Pan in the car. Quite enjoyable. I don't think I've ever read anything besides the Disney picture book. I love the depth of real literature!
- Family read aloud -- Understood Betsy. We read this a few years ago, but my kids don't seem to remember it. It was one of my favorites so I pulled it out again. We are all thoroughly enjoying it, as Betsy now head off to the dreaded cousins' house! If you have not read this book, it is a great read aloud with little kids that older kids will likely enjoy as well.

A weekend full of soccer and clothing sales, and now I'm at home with one sick child while the rest of the family enjoys a birthday party for their cousin. Time to catch up, hopefully!

More Weekly Wrap-Ups.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- Nutrition 101


Whole foods, nutrient dense, intestinal flora, and freshly ground grains meant nothing to me four and a half years ago. "Healthy" to me meant eating more vegetables and less junk food and trying to exercise more. Then, I read a book or two that really changed my perspective on food. Now, I have a book that covers similar material, but geared toward teaching your children (as well as the whole family) about nutrition and its impact on the body.

Nutrition 101 written by Growing Healthy Homes, offers you a thorough nutrition guide book, health curriculum, and eye opening look at the food you eat all rolled into one.


The facts:

  • 448 pages!
  • 6 Units covering the 12 key body systems
  • Biblically based and interspersed with Scripture verses
  • Covers health and nutrition and the relationship between the two
  • 31 Appendices covering extra topics and information like health statistics, cancer, asthma, the milk debate, essential oils, enzymes, etc.

What we loved . . .

Although designed as a textbook, Nutrition 101 takes health out of the classroom and integrates it into life where it belongs. Recipes, fun activities, detailed descriptions, and plenty of background and extra information make this a wonderful resource even after the "class" ends.

This book lends itself well to notebooking which we have enjoyed more of this year.

At least some of my kids enjoyed each of the recipes that we tried (I would never expect everyone to love everything, although they each tried it), and I loved the real life application of what we learned filling our plates.

What we tweaked . . .

This book has activities for all ages, but some of the vocabulary and explanations are better suited for a high school level health course. I read through the chapters with all my kids, but knew that some of it flew high above their heads. We focused on what they could grasp and saved the rest for another year (yeah, we will probably hit this again in a few years . . . Nutrition seems a topic that needs "renewing" now and then in our household).

If you want even more activities to go along with this course they are easy to come by around the internet, like these brain hats :

Would I buy it or recommend it for someone else to purchase?

Tough question. I do think this book covers a lot of material. It easily could fill a year of science, health, or home ec, or even all of those topics combined. And, as I mentioned it could easily satisfy high school level academics. However, it is more than I would typically spend or recommend others to spend on one book. If you are looking for a health or nutrition curriculum and the price fits in your budget I would recommend it without hesitation. It is thorough and an interesting read with lots of ideas to keep you exploring together as a family.

To take this jump into greater understanding of the food your family eats and should (and shouldn't) eat, you can order this book in either a print ($99.95) or CD ($79.95), or both ($129.95). Whichever format you choose you will have colorful pictures, information, and activities that will likely change the way you look at food.

Enjoy more reviews at the TOS Crew blog

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Giveaway Little Blessings books

A couple weeks ago I posted a review of some adorable books from Tyndale House. These books, part of the Little Blessing series, are perfect for bedtime books for preschool aged children. Filled with glimpses of God's glory and deep love, you will not want to miss out on this giveaway (sweet boy and snuggle bear not included)!

Two winners will have an opportunity here since we have two books to offer. I will choose two names to receive one book each. Even if you do not win, these books are so reasonably priced at just $7.99 at Christian Book Distributors, that even if you do not win you might want to pick one up for a little one in your house or extended family.

Here's how to enter:
- Leave a comment.
- Post about the giveaway on your blog, twitter, or facebook and leave another comment for each new place that you post about it
- Become a follower of this blog and leave another comment (if you are already a follower you can automatically have a second entry for this contest -- thanks for already following!)
- Subscribe to this blog and leave another comment

"Easy Peasy" as my little ones would say, can't wait to mail a book your way!

Contest will close on Tuesday, September 29th, at 10:00 p.m. Check back in then for the winner.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Get a grip!

Pencil grasps come in as many varieties as personalities. In studying the topic, and discussing it with various teachers and homeschool moms, I heard from many people that some grips need correcting and some don't.

Now, my youngest child is only four years old, so I'm not stressing about this, but I do want him to start getting comfortable with an efficient pencil grasp. Without any direction, he picks up a pencil and holds it like this:

Wow! And, it has really continued to get worse. So, we started spending some time on improving it.

Homeschool kids potentially have an advantage over kids in a classroom in this arena. Most teachers could not even spend five minutes in a one-on-one exercise like this, but at home, we can do that. Obviously, for kids in a school setting, parents can do this at home perhaps more easily than a classroom teacher could. And, when establishing or correcting a pencil grip, you need immediate feedback, correction, and reinforcement.

This might not need work everyday depending on how much your child writes. And, many children eventually move to a more efficient grasp naturally by kindergarten or first grade. Others could benefit from a little nudge in the "write" direction.

Here is how our time looks . . .

- Nathan and I sitting alone together, me on his right side since he favors his left hand, and this affords me a clearer view of his pencil grasp.

- We get the grip in place on the pencil and talk about where the fingers go

- The pencil sets next to the paper. I say, "On your mark, get set, go!"

- Nathan picks up his pencil (accuracy is more important than speed, but the race atmosphere keeps him excited to try again). We adjust the grip as necessary.

- He draws one line, straight down on his handwriting paper.

- Pencil gets returned to table next to his pad of paper.

- CLAP! and, repeat. He still needs to loosen up a bit, but that improves with time as well.

We have only done this a few times, and he gets quicker and quicker each time, needing less correction as we go. Such a simple activity. Five minutes a day is really plenty of time. Even twice a day if they will enjoy it.

Aside from that, I do not spend too much time correcting his grasp. It has shown gradual improvement from just these short times spent working on it.

This is definitely working for us!

Other helps:

More Thirsty Thursday tips

Monday, September 21, 2009

Verse of the week - Romans 8:14-17

After meditating on the verse from last week, I easily led into the next verses, and the great encouragement found in them. We don't deserve God's great love for us, and yet he has freely chosen to fill us with His Spirit through an act of adoption.

Thankfully, God has chosen us, as undeserving and mismatched as it may seem. His regal power, beautiful majesty, and our broken humanness. Yet, we get to call Him "Daddy."

God does not just adopt us out of pity, to save us from hell or our own destructive tendencies. We get the full privileges of sonship. We are His.

Our old selves, dead, and our new life given freely by our Father, "14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!" 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him."

How gracious. How loving! How incomprehensible!

That's my God. Walking with me throughout the week with fatherly love. Picking me up when I fall down. Reminding me I am His child. Keeping my vision future focused.

Thank you, Father God,
for the sweetness of relationship with You. Real, living, eternal.

14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, "Abba! Father!"
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit
that we are children of God,
17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God
and fellow heirs with Christ,
provided we suffer with him
in order that we may also be glorified with him.

~Romans 8:14-17~

Saturday, September 19, 2009

TOS Crew Review -- Study Pod


With how often I have a book in my hands while still trying to accomplish something else (tie a shoe, referee a disagreement, answer the phone without losing my place, etc.), I looked forward to the opportunity to review the STUDYPOD, put out by Genio, "Smart Products for Smart People."

This handy little gadget will hold your book of just about any size in an easily readable position while keeping your hands free for the other tasks of motherhood, blogging, paperwork, composition, Bible study, etc.


Earlier this year, for no apparent reason I experienced the pain of a ruptured disc in my lower neck. Proper posture holds a much greater weight in my estimation now more than ever before. The STUDYPOD puts my reading material at a more readable height and at a position that helps me maintain good posture while typing, reading, studying, and teaching my kids.

What I love about the STUDYPOD . . .
- stores right along with your books, and even looks similar to a book when closed up
- has a small storage area for pens, notecards, etc. right inside
- holds a variety of sizes of books and papers
- helps establish and maintain good posture while reading and studying
- keeps study area neat, encouraging focus and good time management

Not much to tweak in the use of this product. You can employ it in just about every room in the house. I was a little concerned initially that it might leave a mark or imprint on the page of the book. However, even after I left it for a while on one of our thicker books (still under the two and a quarter inch limit for thickness), it only left a small, almost imperceptible mark. Turning pages requires you to carefully work around the page support arm, but this can be accomplished with one hand without too much trouble.

As you can see, this versatile book stand can find many uses in your home and school. Everyone just might want their own . . . They have another version called the "Book" pod, so don't feel like you have to be studying something to use their product. Pick from pink, black, blue, grey and beige. It regularly retails for $19.95, but if you buy two or more of either the BOOKPOD or STUDYPOD they will only cost $16.95 each and you can even take another $5 off your order with the code: TOSBLOG5

Might be an easy gift idea to tuck away for the upcoming holiday season.

Check out the TOS Crew blog for other reviewers' thoughts on the STUDYPOD.

weekly wrap up - September 18

You ever have one of those weeks that seem to act as a catch all for all those activities that had to get rescheduled? Yeah, that was this week.

All our fall activities are in full swing -- Ballet on Monday, AWANA on Wednesday nights, Soccer practice on Tuesday and Thursday nights with games on Saturday (two kids this year), Gym and Swim on Thursdays (along with 65 other kids!!!!!) Those things in and of themselves don't overwhelm me. They generally complement our school, don't take up much time, happen after our core school subjects have wrapped up for the day, and keep us all active.

However, this week also had our first homeschool support group meeting as well as our annual kick-off picnic that got rescheduled from August, our first Keepers' club of the year (more on that later), and a pioneer farm day they had rescheduled from the spring.

Fortunately, my next two weeks look to have only "normal" stuff, so hopefully we can rediscover normal after this craziness!

The highlights of the week:

A Monarch butterfly chrysalis on a tree outside our house (cannot describe the disappointment when we returned from soccer games today and could no longer find it!) :-(

We did lots of research and found this great site with lots of pictures of the Monarch caterpillar, Chrysalis and butterfly. We searched all the milkweed plants for more caterpillars, but couldn't find one. Oh well. It was amazing while it lasted.

Wednesday -- Homeschool Farm Day at the Bonner Farm in Lake County. The kids got to scrub laundry, raise a barn, explore the garden, pull a "plow," and churn butter. Lots of fun and discovery. A well organized event. As my friend said, "Now and then it is kind of nice to let someone else teach my kids." Don't worry, I won't and wouldn't want to get used to that, but we all enjoyed a fun, relaxing day none the less.

Raising the barn

Trying on the yoke with pales of water

Learning thankfulness for modern laundry days.

Practicing working together like a team of oxen

The brain:
We discussed the brain and enjoyed making these great brain hats from a website that some of my TOS Crew mates shared. Lots more fun stuff, but these hats were perfect for this week.

Today we enjoyed relaxing with other homeschool families in the beautiful weather that won't last much longer. Looking forward to some quieter days in the near future.

Check out more weekly wrap ups.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Verse of the week - Romans 8:9,10

So often God brings me to an issue from numerous angles at once. Sometimes this softens the blow, sometimes it intensifies.

First scenario: Small group, Tozer's the Pursuit of God, chapter 3. Tozer speaks of the veil outside the Holy of Holies that God rent in two at the crucifixion. He also speaks of a veil that remains intact in too many Christians' lives. The veil of self.

He says this self "can live unrebuked at the very altar. It can watch the bleeding Victim die and not be in the least affected by what it sees. It can fight for the faith of the reformers and preach eloquently the creed of salvation by grace and gain strength by its efforts. . . Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us."

This of course followed a rather lackluster week in my quiet times, aside from a riveting look at Ezekiel (more on that over at 66 books).

God had more to say on my spiritual state of affairs. Apparently, had I given a State of Self address this past week Self would have had a pretty favorable report. (Not a good thing in the eternal perspective of things)

Second attack: Radio blurb while running errands, Moody Radio. Chris Fabry shared a segment from Corrie Ten Boom. She gave a vivid illustration of a flashlight. We become a Christian and one battery slips in place, but then we try to fill the rest of the flashlight with rags(self, pride, etc.), which obviously does not produce light. I need to get all that other stuff out, and allow GOD ALONE to "power" my life. To hear the broadcast in full, check out the Chris Fabry Live website (part 2 here - this is where Corrie Ten Boom actually shares the flashlight illustration -- it was a treat just to hear her real voice after enjoying the Hiding Place earlier this year).

These brought me to Romans 8, verses 9 and 10, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness."

Me= dead
God's Spirit= alive

I've got to be there everyday. Confess my sinful state and necessary reliance on God's righteousness. Daily dying to self, resting in His Spirit.

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. 10 And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
~Romans 8:9,10~

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Weekly Wrap Up – September 11

What a week! I thoroughly enjoy finding ourselves back in the swing of things, with next week adding back the final regular features of our homeschool schedule (ballet, gym and swim, and our monthly Keepers and Contenders club).

This week, we got lots of solid school work accomplished and had a lot of fun around the edges, too.
Started with a family trip to a butterfly house. If you haven’t gone to one recently, pack up your kids and find one before the cool temperatures end this fun experience for another year. The small structure we visited had about 250 butterflies, including I think 200 or more Monarchs. Beautiful images though with the contrasting and coordinating flowers.

View butterfly house

For History with my kids I have switched to Mystery of History 3 for the time being. We might just stay there for the year. I LOVE IT! Review to come next month sometime. I don’t know why I didn’t buy this when it first caught my interest a couple years ago. Oh well, at least we can enjoy it now.

DSC07916 DSC07918

Remote control airplane outing with the students from the school we live at. First a demonstration of the planes and how they work. Servos, remotes, flaps, and lots of amazing details.

DSC07924 DSC07923

My kids got to even get their hands on a buddy remote and “control” the plane for a few passes and loops and rolls. Quite a treat.

Other blips:

- AWANA started, lots of insanity, but lots of fun for all the kids, too.

- Chicks need to go to the farm soon, but we are having a hard time figuring out how to say goodbye

- Listening to Felicity when out and about on audio book, a good story, and one we all enjoy

- Amazed at my four year old learning to read. I don’t know why I waited so long with my others! Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons makes it so easy.

Enjoyed part of Disney’s Earth for our family movie night this week. One segment which brought lots of shrieks can be found in this You Tube video, at least for now. Those snippets of family time that are somewhat hard to come be in this season.

This weekend officially starts soccer season and also holds the used clothing sale that I buy and sell at twice a year. Always looking forward to that!

Kind of an unorganized wrap-up, but kind of the way the week has gone as well. Productive, but all over the place!

See how others wrap up their week.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Book Review: Little Blessings

These newest books in the Little Blessings series arrived in our home and immediately found themselves whisked away to the little one's bedrooms.

What Is the Bible? and Who Made the World? continue this series that put theological topics into the hands, minds, and vocabularies of the preschool set. My four and five year old especially loved them, but my eight and ten year old often lurked around to listen in as well.

The illustrations, drawn by Care Bear artist Elena Kucharik, portray the adorable, child-like simplicity reflected in the words. The author, Kathleen Bostrom, paints pictures with her words through simple rhymes.

Both books begin with a string of questions that you might hear from any child's lips -- Who made the World? Who made God? Is the Bible true, or just parts? Should I read it in order?

Following the questions comes a response, as if from a loving Father. As we read these answers together it was like snuggling up with God and finding the questions to their hearts' questions and curiosities.

The books close with more Scriptures to dig into another time as you read through the book. The words that God "answers" with are not straight from Scripture, but are based on specific verses, and you can find those verses listed in this back section.

The only disappointment I had came in the What is the Bible? book. It does mention that the greatest part of the Bible involves the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but I don't think it gave a clear enough picture as to why this incident holds the greatest importance when compared with any other in Scripture. I shared with my own kids how the Old Testament leads up to the cross, because without that we could not go to heaven. We must believe in order to enjoy salvation from the penalty of our own sinfulness. Fitting that message is sometimes difficult in a book that you want to have a warm loving atmosphere, but when you talk about the Bible, I don't think it can be skipped.

Although we needed to add this conversation to the book about the Bible, I am excited to have these books on my shelves. I don't hesitate to add books that I know I can encourage my kids to pick up and read to themselves or one another without any second guessing, or skipping parts.

If you have little ones in your house asking some of these questions that only kids can ask you might both appreciate the answers in these precious little books.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

WFMW -- chasing away scary monsters

Our youngest has finally grown up. And, my nights may not be the same for a while.

Just last week the "scary monster" seemed to be stalking the perimeter of his room, because, you know, it never appeared when I went in the room.

Our third child has also seen her share of bedtime monsters, and she found great comfort in the prayers we said together. I use II Timothy 1:7, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love, and a sound mind." I would pray for God to take away her spirit of fear and replace it with one of power, love, and sound thinking.

Scripture, prayer, and snuggles, and she usually returned to bed with little resistance.

Now, Nathan doesn't seem to have that same assurance, yet. He needs something he can see to chase them away. So, we made signs.

We wrote "Go AWAY!" And, in case the monsters don't read English, I also wrote it in big-scary-monsterish. (that's the squiggles above and below)

He finds comfort in something to hold up, kind of a physical defense against those one-eyed, twenty armed furry creatures that vaporize in light or parental eyesight.

I have heard other ideas that work for others and we will keep in our arsenal if needed:
  • Spray bottles
  • Flashlights
  • Mirrors
  • Checklist of hiding places

Scripture carries the most power, and prayer carries more weight than that silly sign we scribbled on a file folder, but for Nathan, he needs something in his hands to remind him that the power is on his side. A physical reminder that God is with Him, and has more power than anything else he might think he sees.

More Works for me Wednesday.

Verse of the week - Psalm 34

I needed some encouragement this week, and it came in the form of Psalm 34. It reminded me that God is close at hand. When life seems to swell and threaten to crush me under its weight, God remains strong as my defender. I responded to the discouragement with a time of worship, focusing on God's great defenses.

Through my time of meditating on Psalm 34 I rested in the fact that God is my . . .

Invincible ally
Never-failing friend
Quick response
Unwavering support

Psalm 34

1I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

2My soul shall make her boast in the LORD: the humble shall hear thereof, and be glad.

3O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.

4I sought the LORD, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.

5They looked unto him, and were lightened: and their faces were not ashamed.

6This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles.

7The angel of the LORD encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them.

8O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.

9O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

10The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the LORD shall not want any good thing.

11Come, ye children, hearken unto me: I will teach you the fear of the LORD.

12What man is he that desireth life, and loveth many days, that he may see good?

13Keep thy tongue from evil, and thy lips from speaking guile.

14Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

15The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry.

16The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth.

17The righteous cry, and the LORD heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles.

18The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.

19Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the LORD delivereth him out of them all.

20He keepeth all his bones: not one of them is broken.

21Evil shall slay the wicked: and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.

22The LORD redeemeth the soul of his servants: and none of them that trust in him shall be desolate.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bringing nature indoors

Nature studies have brought enthusiasm and increased observation skills to my kids from the four year old to the twelve year old. We enjoy walking around outside looking at various birds, identifying trees, watching bugs, and interacting with each other and God's amazing creation.

Nature study in general has many benefits:

- Makes you slow down. Kind of a "stop and smell the roses" attitude. To appreciate it you really have to look at it. You have to really see it.

- Fresh air. Nothing like the great outdoors to make you feel better, sleep well, and smile more.

- Observations skills. You learn to classify, note details, and ask questions.

- Raises awareness of God's creative abilities. Marvel at the diversity, patterns, and interrelatedness of plants, animals, and mankind.

Here's a great resource for getting nature study started with your kids, Charlotte Mason style. And don't forget to check out the outdoor hour challenge if you want some specific motivation and ideas.

This year I have realized afresh the benefit of bringing nature study indoors as well. We have learned so much through incubating eggs and keeping the chicks around for almost two weeks now. You can learn a good bit from a visit to a farm, a museum with eggs hatching, or a good educational video. But, bringing it into the home takes it to a whole new level.

Actually seeing the developing chick first hand, carefully preparing for the hatch, and watching those first breaths outside the shell is incredible. Now we get to watch them learning to roost, growing feathers, and changing day by day.

The same is true for plants and bugs. Bringing them indoors where you can really keep an eye on them can open a whole new world of understanding and discovery.

How to bring nature inside:
- Raise a baby animal (hatch eggs, get a puppy, etc.) This is a huge commitment, but also a tremendous learning opportunity.

- Catch a bug. This is our homemade bug cage. An old ice cream container, cut out the center of the lid and insert a scrap of screen. Glass jars work well, too for more visibility, but in a smaller space.
- Grow a plant
- Cut some flowers, even dissect them to find and identify the parts

Then, research. Ask questions, find answers, talk about what you see. Look closer and ask more. The longer you have to watch something the more you will learn and marvel at how much there is yet to learn.

Enjoy more Thirsty Thursday encouragement.