Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Praying With Your Husband

Plain and simple, DO IT!! The simple act of praying daily with your husband will change your marriage forever. It is so easy to get caught up with our "to do lists" and the hustle of raising a family and managing a house that our marriages often take a backseat to our busyness. But sisters, I implore you please make your marriages a priority from this day forward. Your children will grow and leave the house, all that you will have left (if you are lucky) is your husband. Cultivate your relationship always and forever.

My husband and I at one time were very distant and near separation. We both wholeheartedly believe that it was God who brought us through those dark times because there was no way we could do it on our own. He truly saved us and our family.

One way we grow our marriage is through time spent daily with each other. After talking about our day and spending time with one another we always end our time with prayer. It is our promise to each other and nothing else in our marriage is more powerful than our time in prayer together. We pray for our children, our family, those on our prayer lists, and most of all each other. It is amazing to hear your spouse pray for you so openly and honestly. Through daily prayer my husband and I have grown closer than I could have ever imagined. If you don't already pray with your husband please start today!!

For the Christian wife brings holiness to her marriage, and the Christian husband brings holiness to his marriage. Otherwise, your children would not be holy, but now they are holy. 1Cor 7:14 (NLT)

Prayer Baskets

As 2009 comes to an end I find myself reflecting upon this year and planning for next. One area of my life that I'd like to improve is my daily devotions and prayer time with the Lord. To improve my time I plan on creating a prayer basket. A prayer basket can be as simple or complex as you want it to be. Essentially though the basket is used to hold all the essential items you need during your time of prayer and devotion. Not only are these baskets functional they can also be decorative.

Prayer baskets should include the following items:
  • Study Bible
  • Pens, pencils, and highlighters
  • Personal journal
  • Daily Devotional
  • Box of tissues
  • Note cards

Optional personal items may include:
  • Your favorite coffee/tea and a coffee mug
  • Scented candle and a lighter
  • Vase with fresh flowers
  • Throw blanket
The key is to make the basket your own, adding your favorite things to it so that your time in prayer is peaceful, productive, and comfortable.

As an aside, prayer journals can be something as simple as a spiral notebook or as complex as a decorative hardbound book. Again, the key is to make it your own. Whatever you are most comfortable with and can afford will function just fine. In your prayer journal you might want to include sections for prayer requests, answered prayers, and praises. Also, be sure and leave space for your thoughts, devotions, and scripture references. Some journals also include prayer partner lists and contact information.

Do you already use a prayer basket? Please let me know what is in your basket.

Blessings for the New Year!!

Monday, December 28, 2009

E-book series review "The Word of God on. . ." by Candy Foote

I was recently given the opportunity to review 5 of Candy Foote's "The Word of God on. . ." e-books. This series of e-books is a compilation of scripture on specific topics. I chose to review all of Candy's books because each of the five topics are of particular interest to me. Each e-book can be purchased from Candy Foote for between $5.00 and $14.99 (prices may differ because of sales or monthly specials).

If you have ever read the Word or studied the Bible at all you have most likely written down verses of interest or noted areas you wanted to study later. Personally, I know when I need guidance from God's Word on topics in my life I consult the concordance in the back of my Bible and note verses I want to look up. I might note these verses in my journal or bookmark them with something I have laying near me at the time. Never have I compiled or copied all of the verses on a particular subject. Enters Candy and her wonderful gift. Candy has compiled all of the verses that relate to a variety of important life topics. Currently available are The Word of God on Prosperity ($5.00), The Word of God on Healing ($10.00), The Word of God on the Words of Your Mouth ($14.99), The Word of God on the Parables of Jesus Christ ($14.99), The Word of God on Being a Woman, a Wife, and a Mother ($14.99).

In my opinion, uses and applications for these e-books include personal or group Bible studies as well as homeschool Bible research and copywork. These e-books would also be helpful for scripture memorization.

The Word of God on Prosperity (on sale for $5.00) 
Prosperity is defined as a successful, flourishing, or thriving condition, esp. in financial respects. Prosperity is something I think we all struggle with from time to time. Society has taught us to strive for success and wealth. But have we ever stopped to consider what the Bible has to say about prosperity? 

My husband and I are at a stage in our life where this topic is of particular interest so I have spent some time in the Word studying scripture that relates to success, wealth, and life happiness. Candy does a great job of compiling scripture as it relates to prosperity. Included in this e-book is not only scripture about what God wants from us as it relates to prosperity but also verses that teach us the best way to go about achieving success in God's eyes.

Personally, I would have included more verses from Ecclesiastes because I personally think this book from the Bible speaks volumes about prosperity and happiness with success. Candy presently includes Ecc. 2:26, Ecc. 5:18-19, and Ecc. 11:1-2. My favorite verses on prosperity are Ecc. 3 and Ecc. 4:4. The last verse being one that my husband and I remind each other of constantly; Then I observed that most people are motivated to success because they envy their neighbors. But this, too, is meaningless- like chasing the wind. Ecc. 4:4 (NLT)

All in all, this e-book is a wonderful compilation of prosperity related scripture. It is easy to read and a great reference resource when studying prosperity. This e-book is available in both the KJV and NIV versions. This book is 67 total pages, of which 52 are scripture references.

The Word of God on Healing (on sale for $10.00)
There is a great amount of scripture on healing and Jesus' ability to heal those who are ill or handicapped.  How often do we consult His Word for comfort and solace when we are sick? Society as a whole turns towards doctors before they turn towards God. Candy's compilation of healing scripture reminds us and gives clear direction for where we should turn when we need God's healing powers. This book would be a wonderful gift for someone in your life that is dealing with health issues or even for an older child or teen coping with health issues of loved ones.

Just as in her other books Candy references scripture from Genesis to Revelations on the wonderful power of God's healing. The Word of God on Healing is available in KJV and NIV. This book is 66 total pages, of which 61 are scripture references.

The Word of God on the Words of Your Mouth ($14.99)
I think we can all use help with the words of our mouths. As hard as we try I think we all struggle from time to time on the words that we speak. Be it the tone with which we say our words, the joking sarcasm that stings unintentionally, the way we talk to our children and spouses, or even just the words we choose; we can all gain useful insight and guidance from God on how to best use our gift of speech.

The Word of God on the Words of Your Mouth is chalk full of wonderful scripture that guides and teaches us how to temper our voice. This book is a wonderful devotional tool. I personally will be using this book as a study tool for my children in our homeschool curriculum. Teaching children about the power and importance of their words is important to me. In addition to my own Bible I will be using this ebook as a reference tool for my own children. 

 The Word of God on the Words of Your Mouth is available in KJV. This book is 133 total pages, of which 129 are scripture references.

The Word of God on the Parables of Jesus Christ ($14.99)
The Bible tells us that Jesus often taught in parables. Rather than teaching directly to the problem Jesus told stories, also known as parables, to his people to teach them indirect lessons related to their problems. Much like a parent does when teaching their children. Reading and understanding the parables of Jesus are important and essential to developing a relationship with our Savior.

Candy's compilation of parables would be useful for a new believer or children in their Bible studies. The parables of the Bible can provide countless discussions and learning opportunities for children. Parables relate to life lessons that we can all use to live a better Christ-like life.

 The Word of God on the Words of Your Mouth is available in KJV and NIV. This book is 41 total pages, of which 36 are scripture references.

The Word of God on Being a Woman, a Wife, a Mother ($14.99)
Society tries to impose a variety of morals, ideals, and expectations on women these days. But how many of us stop to consider what God wants women to do? Since becoming a wife and a mother this is a topic I have spent a considerable amount of time pondering and studying. In my time of research though I have never compiled scripture in the complete manner in which Candy has done. This ebook is a complete compilation of not only the women of the Bible and their history's but also how we as women should act and think as mothers, wives, and Christian women.  If you have ever struggled with the dichotomy of society pressures and scripture I highly recommend this book. Personally I have started using this ebook during my personal devotion time and journaling my thoughts on how to best live the many facets of my life as a woman according to scripture. This book would be wonderful for any woman, teen through adulthood that wants to live their life according to His Word.

The Word of God on Being a Woman, a Wife, and a Mother is available in KJV and NIV. This book is 101 total pages, of which 95 are scripture references.

All of Candy's ebooks would make wonderful additions to any devotional library. Rather than constantly referencing your Bible index or concordance, Candy has compiled it all into easy to read and reference books.

All of these books were provided to me for free in exchange for my honest review and opinion.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Self Esteem Starts at Home

Undeniably an important goal of parenting is fostering and encouraging positive self esteem in our children. Self esteem doesn't start when our children make friends, self esteem starts at home. How you treat your children, how you act around your children, and what you say to your children all affect their self esteem from a very young age.

But how do you nurture high self esteem in your children? It is really easier than you think, you just have to work at it and implement changes in your everyday life.
  • Show and tell your children you love and care for them. Tell your child they are important to you, that they are great, and snuggle them with lots of hugs, kisses, and smiles daily.
  • Give your child your undivided attention everyday. This means turn off the TV and don't answer your cell phone while you are spending one-on-one time with each of your children. If the day is too hectic to make this effective, use bedtime as your time alone with your children. Reading books and discussing the day are great ways to open the lines of communication with each of your children.
  • Be fair and consistent, teach your child to follow the rules. This can only happen though if you set clear guidelines and expectations ahead of time. Do not yell at your child when they make a mistake this will only foster a feeling of failure. Instead explain to them that you do not like when they do "x", instead you would rather them do "y".
  • Try and point out 5 good things your child does each day. If you can't catch these behaviors at the moment they happen, consider praising them during your one-on-one time. Just make sure they know you noticed and you care enough to say something positive about the action or choice.
  • Most importantly, children learn the most from the adults around them. Be sure and set a good example each and everyday. This means use your manners, watch what you say in haste, and be conscious of your decisions before you make them, little eyes are always watching. If you model respect, children will learn to respect themselves as well as others.
Blessings and Merry Christmas!

Free Nativity Set Printable

Looking for a fun Christmas activity to do with your kids this week? Consider this fun and easy 
Nativity printable. My kids and I will be making this set this afternoon. I will post pictures soon. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Favorite Christmas Memory

Memories are something I treasure dearly and hold close to my heart. With that in mind I thought I’d share my favorite Christmas memory with all of you.

My favorite Christmas memory isn’t one specific event or year. Rather it is a collection of years that came to become treasured memories. Growing up we did not live near extended family so when I was young my parents started an annual tradition with two other families that also did not have extended family close for the Holidays. In total there were 5 children and 3 sets of parents. Each year we all met for not only Thanksgiving but also Christmas. Through the years my favorite memories include the turkey leftover from Thanksgiving became homemade turkey noodle soup for Christmas. Each year the kids also got to all tear into a homemade and beautifully decorated gingerbread house. We feasted on snacks and stuffed ourselves on amazing food; all of us commiserating later that we were stuffed. There were gift exchanges and treasured presents. Most of all though the magic of the season wasn’t food or presents it was the joys that we all experienced by simply coming together every year. We have all grown and gone our separate ways and started Holiday traditions with our own family. One treasured member of our group has also gone home to be with God in Heaven. While the group will never be together as it was when we were kids, everyone of us hold those years close to our hearts. Laughs and love abound within our group and lifelong friendships were set in stone.

My Father’s World Supplemental Books for Letters S & M

My boys and I started this school year with a “big boxed” curriculum. I had high hopes but unfortunately the history portion just wasn’t up to my standards. After reading lots of reviews and seeking advice from my homeschool friends I decided to go with My Father’s World From A to Z Kindergarten (MFWK) for my youngest son. We just finished our second week and we both absolutely love it!!

My kids and I love the library and love having ample books around the house that relate to what we are studying. So as a result I have compiled a list of additional reading books for the first 2 weeks of MFWK. I did this mainly for myself as I have a preschooler who is chomping at the bit to do school with her older brothers. Some of the resources listed below are non-fictional while others are fun reads about the Sun and Moon from a fictional perspective. If you are using or have used MFWK and can recommend additional resources please let me know, I’d love to add more to my lists.

Letter S – Sun
The Sun by Scholastic News
Exploring The Sun by Rebecca Olien
Who Likes the Sun by Etta Kaner
Sunshine Makes the Seasons by Franklyn Branley
Sun Up, Sun Down The Story of Day and Night by Jacqui Bailey

Letter M – Moon (and space)
Reaching for the Moon by Buzz Aldrin
Space Heroes Amazing Astronauts by James Buckley Jr.
Astronaut Handbook by Meghan McCarthy
Astronauts and other Space Heroes by Smithsonian
Moon by DK Eyewitness Books
If you Decide to go to the Moon by Faith McNulty
Look at the Stars by Buzz Aldrin
Mission to the Moon by Alan Dyer
Exploring the Moon by Rebecca Olien
The Magic School Bus takes a Moonwalk by Scholastic
Kingfisher Voyages Space with Sally Ride
The Moon by Seymour Simon

Clothespin Counting Activity

Whether it be during homework after school or during school time for homeschoolers, younger siblings are typically disruptive and distracting because they are bored. In an effort to keep my young preschooler busy while her older brothers do school I have been searching for activities she can do on her own or with little supervision. Not only are these activities a sanity saver for me but it also teaches her to work independently.

Clothespin counting activities have been around for a long time. As I was searching the internet for free printable clothespin cards I was disappointed in the lack of color and creativity. So I decided to just make my own. My version not only teaches numeral recognition and number word reading, but I have also added color recognition.  You will see that each smiley face on my cards are a different color of the rainbow. You can purchase inexpensive clothespins at your local discount store if you don’t have any laying around the house. Also, today I used colored bingo markers and they worked just as well. Both the clothespins and bingo markers help your preschoolers fine motor skills. As I mention in the file below I recommend printing on card stock and laminating for durability.

Clothespin Counting Acitivity

If you use these sheets with your preschooler please let me know. I’d love to hear if you enjoy them or have suggestions for improvement.

Is Your Kid a Bully?

A parenting-related e-mail in my inbox today caught my attention. The article was entitled Bullies May Intimidate Siblings, too and was authored by Robert Preidt of HealthDay News. My first reaction to this article was “well then the schools need to do something about it”. But after thinking about it for a brief moment I realized that no, in fact the primary responsibility does not lie on the shoulders of the public school system, in fact undeniably the issue of bullying has it’s deepest roots at home. Where do kids first learn to bully? Where do they see their first examples of anger and intimidation? At home of course!

Kids absorb the anger from their parents and other adults that may be in their household. Children watch how adults interact and emulate what they see. Parents of bullies need to look inward before casting blame on others (such as the school system). Of course it goes without saying that kids who bully at school are going to bring that same behavior home and bully siblings. Kids who act one way at school more times than not act the same way at home.
Shepherding Kind Hearts would solve the problem of bullies not only in our schools but also in the work place. If children see tolerance, patience, love, respect, and honesty (among other positive virtues) then they will grow into that positive mold. Children need to be nurtured, loved, and cared for. Most of all children need to KNOW that they are loved and accepted by adults in their family. When a young child doesn’t feel the love and acceptance their little hearts yearn for they will act out in the only way that they know how; bullying at school (among other sinful acts).  Bullying and disrespect should not be tolerated anywhere. It starts in the home though.

Just another reason to teach and model towards kind hearts in our children.
Read more here about how to correct teasing behavior in your school age child. There are also articles on the same site for toddler and preschool aged teasing behavior.

Listen to Your Children

When was the last time you really listened to your child? I don’t mean just hearing what they say. But, rather considering, contemplating, and thoroughly processing what they are really trying to tell you. As a mother of 3 and with prayers being sent up above for more, I totally understand how Moms can get swept away in the moment. Some days we fight just to keep our head (and sanity) above water let alone give each child the attention they need and deserve.

Today I was blessed with the opportunity to take a nice hour long walk with my oldest; he is 8. He is a quiet, self-sufficient, and mature boy. He doesn’t demand attention, has never thrown a tantrum in his life, and is an all around very easy going child. However, just because he doesn’t demand attention like his younger siblings it doesn’t mean he needs our love and attention any less. During our walk today it was just he and I (and our little dog), no other distractions, and no one else trying to talk to us. As we walked we chatted a little about things he was imagining. Soon though he wanted to run and ran off ahead of me. Alone in my thoughts I began to think about “adult” things; you know the stresses and life situations that seem to plague us everyday. After while we began walking together again and that is when he said something that struck me, it brought me out of my own thoughts and into the moment; into his world of thoughts. What he said is not important, what is important is that our childrens reality is a far cry from our everyday thoughts. As it should be. We need to keep in mind however,  that what they are saying to us is important. If it wasn’t important to them they wouldn’t put voice to their thoughts. Today on our walk my son put voice to the random thoughts in his head and on that walk the Lord put his hand on my shoulder and said “listen my child, he is speaking”. After that I stopped giving the typical “uh huh” responses common when I am with my own thoughts. I engaged my son in real conversation and it was amazing. As our children grow it becomes more and more important to listen to what they are really saying. Trust me they really are trying to tell you something important.


My "Why I Homeschoo Moment of the day"

If you are a homeschool Mom you understand that some days are “off”. Be it because of your own mood or your children’s, some days just aren’t as productive or rewarding as others. Thankfully it is the “not so good” days that make me appreciate the great days. In my own experience I have had moments when I just want to hug my children, drop to my knees, and praise God for the amazing blessing he has given us through homeschooling. My moment today wasn’t quite so dramatic but I still had to hold back tears of joy. Today during reading our reading lesson my 5 year old was quickly and accurately reading words he had never seen before. I wanted to scream for joy. I have taken a child, my own precious gift from God and taught him how to read and he actually understands the concept. It is these moments that make the struggles worth every second.

You don’t have to homeschool to have these moments. So long as you teach your child something new, you too can experience the joy of educating your child beyond everyday lessons.


Review: Teach Your Child to Tead in 100 Easy Lessons

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons

Product Description

* Is your child halfway through first grade and still unable to read?
* Is your preschooler bored with coloring and ready for reading?
* Are you worried that your child will become lost in overcrowded classrooms?
* Did you know that early readers hold an advantage over their peers throughout school?
* Do you want to help your child read, but are afraid you’ll do something wrong?
SRAs DISTAR® is the most successful beginning reading program available to schools across the country. Research has proven that children taught by the DISTAR® method outperform their peers who receive instruction from other programs. Now for the first time, this program has been adapted for parent and child to use at home. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons is a complete, step-by-step program that shows patents simply and clearly how to teach their children to read.

Twenty minutes a day is all you need, and within 100 teaching days your child will be reading on a solid second-grade reading level. It’s a sensible, easy-to-follow, and enjoyable way to help your child gain the essential skills of reading. Everything you need is here — no paste, no scissors, no flash cards, no complicated directions — just you and your child learning together. One hundred lessons, fully illustrated and color-coded for clarity, give your child the basic and more advanced skills needed to become a good reader.

Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons will bring you and your child closer together, while giving your child the reading skills needed now, for a better chance at tomorrow.

About the Author

Siegfried Engelmann is a professor of education at the University of Oregon, and has written many books on teaching, including Give Your Child a Superior Mind. He is the originator of Direct Instruction, the most successful approach to teaching, and he has developed more than thirty direct instruction programs. He has provided teaching demonstrations with a wide range of children — consistently showing that they could learn much more than had been achieved with traditional teaching.

My Review

My biggest worry when deciding to homeschool my kindergarten son was teaching him to read. I knew other subjects like Math, History, and Science would be easy for me to teach but I really stressed over teaching him to read. I have always loved reading so I worried that I would scar my son somehow while teaching him to read, in turn making him dislike the subject for the rest of his life. (normal homeschool Mom worries, right?) I put my faith in God though that he would get me and my Kinder through this hurdle. About a month into homeschooling and struggling with finding a reading lesson rhythm I received my blessing. A Mom in my homeschool co-op casually mentioned Teach Your Kids to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. Immediately my ears perked up and I gobbled up everything she had to say about this book. As soon as we got home from the park that day I researched the book and purchased a used copy through Amazon. Anxiously I waited for the book to arrive.

In all honesty, my initial impressions of the book were “Are you kidding, how is this going to teach my son to read?” and “Why are all the letters funny looking? How is he going to transition to real books when he learns with odd looking letters?”.  However, putting my faith in God and willing to give anything a try at least once I started with lesson one. Since that fateful day my son and I have not looked back. He eagerly gobbles up each and every lesson. Often times he asks for more to the point where a few times we have done 3 lessons in one sitting. I do not push him and when I see he is getting antsy or silly with his reading we stop for the day. We finished lesson 40 today so we are nearly half way finished.

Previous to this book we tried Sonlight’s early reader method and it just did not click for my son. Entering kinder my son was already reading three letter words and I am choosy about early readers because they are often written with incomplete sentences.

When initially reviewing or considering Teach Yor Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons you will notice letters of different sizes written within the same word as well as letters connected. Engelmann et. al do a wonderful job of transitioning the young readers from these odd looking letters and words to a normal looking sentence complete with capital letters and correct punctuation by the end of the book. The lessons are written in such a way that there is ample review for difficult and new sounds. For a few difficult sounds I gave my son a word to remember that is associated with that sound. For example, he was confusing short a with long a so I told him that when he sees the short a he should think of the word apple. Now when he gets stuck I see the wheels turning and he whispers the word apple to himself and immediately says the correct a sound. Sentences with associated pictures begin at lesson 13. Also, the font is large in early lessons and progressively gets smaller as the lessons increase. For my son these aspects of the book give him a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. Occasionally, we flip through pages we have already completed and he notices how far he has come in such a short amount of time. Not only are the words smaller in lesson 40 but the sentences are longer and there is more than just one sentence with his pictures. Lastly, I enjoy this lesson book because it is teaching my son not only how to read but also the early components of reading comprehension. In later lessons there is a picture comprehension component to each lesson. In this section the teacher is instructed to ask certain questions about the picture to see if the student remembers what they just read. Often times I add upon this section and ask my own questions depending on my son’s responses. I prompt him with questions that aren’t asked in the lesson book but yet are still related to the story and picture. My son and I enjoy our reading lesson story conversations. The final section of each lesson is devoted to sound writing. In this section the student is asked to write 2 letters three times. The letters chosen are either difficult letters to write or new letters introduced in the lesson. My son enjoys this section because we get to write together and I like it because it reinforces his handwriting skills.
I knew this book was a blessing and a huge success when my son proclaimed that he loves reading, he wanted to do lessons on the weekend, and even asked to do lessons for his bedtime reading. Hands down this book is a must have, especially for young or struggling readers!
The book description mentions that each lesson takes 20 minutes. In my experience however, I am finding that lessons are much shorter than that. Early on we probably spent 20 minutes per lesson because we were both getting used to the methodologies. Presently though our lessons are much shorter yet still just as effective. My son is a better reader so I find it natural that our lessons are shorter.

You can find a link to this book in my curriculum sidebar.

Free Christmas Craft e-book

Doing crafts with your kids is a wonderful bonding and sharing time for the family. Today I came across a free e-book of Christmas crafts. I have downloaded a copy myself, I hope you enjoy some of the craft suggestions with your family.
A Quick and Easy Christmas Craft e-book

Time For Yourself

When is the last time you took time for yourself? No I don’t mean working after the kids go to bed at night. I mean REALLY took time for yourself. Time when you can do as you please and not worry about anyone or anything else. Admittedly so I do not do this enough myself. However, when I finally do prioritize myself one day for even a few hours I am quickly reminded why it is so important to get away from it all every once in a while.

This afternoon after Daddy got home I took the dogs and headed out on our local trail. In total the trail loop is about 2.5 miles; perfect distance I think to let my mind wander and process whatever has been going on recently in my life. The freedom I felt while walking this afternoon was amazing, so refreshing. As my mind wandered I began blogging in my head; thinking off all the posts I want to share with all of you. At times I even found myself writing a rough draft in my head. Whatever your preference I highly recommend taking time for yourself as soon as possible and if at all possible make it a regular routine in your week. You will feel better and in turn you will project a happier spirit to your friends and family.

Lessons on Virtues

Undoubtedly I have a unique teaching style when homeschooling my children. I am a product of the public school system and admittedly rather enjoyed my time spent in the system. I did well in school and went to a “nerdy” college known for its academics and science programs. So through it all I enjoy and gain a great deal of satisfaction from a planned school day. I strive to add fun things to our day to keep learning fun and new everyday.

One of the “things” I decided to add  to our daily curriculum is The BOOK OF VIRTUES by William J. Bennett. It goes without saying that as parents we teach our children from the minute they wake-up in the morning until their sweet little heads hit the pillow. And for some of us, well beyond the time that they are sleeping. I find myself regularly thinking about what else I can teach my children, how I can teach them better, and what I should have done differently from the day before. Learning and teaching never stops. Friends and strangers regularly comment on how polite and well behaved our children are which of course warms my heart. So why then did I choose to add lessons on virtues to our curriculum? Admittedly so, sometimes to my own fault I worry about my children growing up into well rounded adults. My hearts prayer is that they are not only book smart and street smart, but also that they have warm loving hearts. Hearts that are virtuous. I have heard so many wonderful things about Bennett’s The BOOK OF VIRTUES so when I began considering adding this subject to our daily lessons it seemed like a natural fit. Like many of you, lessons on virtues are part of our daily teachings to our children but herein lies my tendencies for formal education. I think it is not only beneficial to informally teach your children lessons but also share with them a more formal education on big life lessons such as virtues. In doing research on this book and virtue lesson plans I came across a wonderful site that has graciously written and made available a complete lesson plan for Bennett’s Book. The Shiver Academy

We formally started our lessons on virtues this morning. Our first unit is on self-discipline which is fitting considering my young children tend to struggle in this category. We enjoyed a cute story about the importance of saying please. Now perhaps my kids will remember this story next time they want something. Like in our story this morning, please seems to get stuck in their mouth and does not come up very often for air.

Our Fall Harvest

This past weekend my kids and I headed over to their Grandparents house to pick some fruit. Little did I know how much more than just fruit we would be coming home with. While I did most of the picking the kids had a blast driving around in the golf cart and stirring up lots of dust. Our chocolate lab was in turn chasing the cart. My french bulldog Bella followed me around after realizing that running after a golf cart wasn’t something her little legs were made to do. So she and I enjoyed the crisp fall air and navigated our way through the fruit trees and vegetable gardens. We were blessed with an abundance of pomegranates, persimmons, radishes, peppers, cucumbers, and squash. Hearing my children shriek with laughter while I picked the bountiful harvest made me stop and reflect on all that we have to be thankful for. As we enter this season of Thanksgiving and Christ’s birth I am thankful for my family, our health, and the wonderful opportunities afforded to us this past year. I am looking forward to all that 2010 has in store for our family!
The colors of our harvest remind me of this season; such a beautiful time of year!

Scraps from all the root vegetables for our compost bin:

Our Beautiful Harvest!!

What are you thankful for this season? I'd love to hear your comments!

Your Face Says it All

Do you ever stop and wonder what your face says about you? What expression do you most often wear on your face throughout the day?
Your facial expression says a ton about who you are and how you feel. When traveling or in large crowds such as at amusement parks I enjoy watching people. I enjoy reading other people’s faces. Simply from someone’s face you can often times assess their stress level, happiness, and overall satisfaction with life. Now, flip the coin around. What do others ascertain from reading your facial expressions? If you are like most, your face is drab, stressed out, and overall just plain tired. Thankfully, strangers come and go so their assessment of your mood isn’t all that important in your life.
However, what is VERY important is what your family sees on your face. Do your kids see you smile a lot or do they see a scowl etched between your brow? Unfortunately, I am guilty of this more often than I would like to be. I get so caught up in what I need to be doing, what I should be doing, what I would rather be doing, and more often than not consumed with keeping my kids and house in a somewhat semblance of order. My own problem came crashing down on me one day about a year ago when my oldest asked me what was wrong. Puzzled, I asked why. At which my son replied, you look angry and distant. I immediately apologized and explained that my mind was elsewhere. Later when I had a chance to reflect on that situation, I came to realize that a million things must have been going through my son’s head when reading my expression. I know he must have wondered if it was something he did to make me mad. I felt horrible when I realized this. Of course it wasn’t his fault, nor any of his siblings. And frankly, even if it was I shouldn’t wear those emotions on my face in front of my kids. A momentary look of sadness or disappointment at something they did is one thing but an overall 24/7 look of anger is not what we should portray to our children.
If you find yourself struggling with this try a few of these suggestions:
  • When you catch your child’s eye flash them a genuine smile. This lets them know you are ok and happy.
  • Next time you walk by your child, no matter what you are doing or where you need to be, give them a pat on the head or better yet a kiss on their head or cheek. Even if your child is involved in something like homework, playing a video game, or reading a book this thoughtful and loving action lets them know you care and cared enough to take a second out of your day to express affection. Often times we get so caught up in our day that we forget to show our children enough affection.
  • Write your child a love note. Put the note under their pillow or in the medicine cabinet where they will find it in the morning. This is yet another way to show your child you are proud of them, you love them, and they are important to you. If your child is not reading yet then draw simple pictures on the note, the message will be the same.
  • Get rid of the scowl even if you think they aren’t looking, because trust me there are always looking at you.
Wearing a smile, warm eyes, and happy body posture will go a long way in creating a loving and happy environment in your home. Kids should not be worrying about their parents mood, they will though if you always look mad or sad. It is kids’ nature to think that they in someway caused your sour mood which in turn raises their stress levels. Please make a concerted effort this week to brighten up the expression on your face, your kids will appreciate it.

Free Pilgrim Stories

Reading to and spending quality time with your children is a wonderful way to not only teach them early reading lessons but also to show them you care and love them. Pilgrim Stories by Margaret Pumphey is a wonderful series of 3 books which highlight pilgrims in their search for a better life. These stories are heartwarming and perfect for this time of year. Best of all, you can get all 3 books for free, but hurry before it is too late (in other words download your copy today!)

Leading By Example

The Holiday season is quickly approaching. Unfortunately, the stereotypical mad-rush of this time of year does not always bring out the best in people. Not only now, but throughout the year as parents we must remember to take a step back and reexamine our lives for the sake of our children. Are you rushing from place to place? Are you so busy you barely have time to think within your own head let alone have a meaningful conversation with your child; one where you actually listen to what your child is saying? What examples are setting on a daily basis for your children? Do you lead with a kind heart and gentle soul or do you bark orders and talk in a loud voice more times than not?

The most important thing to remember about parenting your children is that they learn by example.

Children emulate what they see at home, at school, in their community and on TV. Please ALWAYS keep that in mind. In my own home I have gone so far as to turn off the TV, change the channel, or mute the sound when a commercial or program came on that was not appropriate for the kind hearts of my children.

Do you respect your children? No, I mean honestly and truly respect them. What tone do you use when speaking to them? Do you talk on their level or above them? Try getting down on your knees and look them in the eye next time you need to talk to them or they want to tell you something. Not only are you showing them respect but you are teaching them that what they have to say and what you are telling them is important. And it goes without saying, please always talk to your children in a respectful tone. You will be repaid a million times over when they in turn talk to you in a kind respectful tone.

Kind actions in children include some of the following activities:

* sharing toys
* volunteering to help a neighbor in need
* comforting a baby doll
* offering to help around the house
* comforting a sad or injured sibling

How and where are children learning these things though? At home!!!

Everyday parents lead, teach, and set examples for their children. Shepherding a kind child’s heart is definitely a “do as I do” situation. Simply talking about what children should do is not enough. You need to get your hands dirty and jump in to show them how to do it. Do you walk over to a neighbors house and shovel their snow simply because you see it needs to be done? Or do you turn a blind eye? How about in the grocery store, do you help an elderly person with an item high up on a shelf simply because you see they need help? If you don’t, well then friend you should because your children are watching.

In my own life I have gone so far as to tell my 3rd grader what to say to an adult that helped my son in Boy Scouts. I knew that simply telling my son to go say thank you wasn’t enough for that situation. I told my son what to say and why he needed to say those words. Now next time, he will put his own spin on the thank you but the lesson has been learned and a foundation of respect and thankfulness for elders have been fertilized.

In subsequent postings I will discuss lessons you can teach you children throughout the ages.

Please always remember your children are watching and listening to you. What they see and hear is what they will later do and say!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Off And Running

Shepherding a kind child's heart is a daily challenge parents face. Discipline, the words we choose, how we act, our moods; they all affect a child's kind heart each and every day. I have gained the inspiration for this blog from my wonderful children, my loving husband, and also the wonderful homeschool support network that the good Lord has provided for me. He knew my needs and provided.

It is my goal within this little corner of the web to provide inspiration to all of the wonderful families that homeschool their children everyday. I will include not only what I do with my 3 blessings everyday but also ideas for how we as parents can shepherd kind hearts in our children and families. Even if you do not homeschool it is my hearts hope that you will find ideas and inspiration for things that you can do with your children at home; as parents we are ALWAYS teaching our children.

Then you will understand what is right, just, and fair, and you will find the right way to go. For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will fill you with joy. Wise choices will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe. Proverbs 2:9-11

Kind hearts are the gardens,
Kind thoughts are the roots,
Kind words are the flowers,
Kind deeds are the fruits,
Take care of your garden And keep out the weeds,
Fill it with sunshine Kind words and kind deeds. 

By: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


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