Sunday, February 28, 2010

Spiritual Sunday; Grieving

Even in laughter the heart may ache, 

and joy may end in grief. 

Proverbs 14:13

I find myself grieving on the Lord's day. Through my rejoice and thankfulness at church this morning deep inside I am hurting. I debated whether to write this here but I know I need to, writing has always been therapy for me. If I was grieving for only myself perhaps I would keep the grief to myself. However, today I am mourning the calling of a sweet angel to heaven. Kara Faith's journey has been written so beautifully by her Mother and Father on her blog Kara Faith. God had a plan when he gave Kara to Nancy and Stuart and their children. Beyond the foundation that they have created for other HPE children, Kara has touched the lives of countless people just like me across the world. So beautiful, so perfect. Now she is resting in the arms of her Heavenly Father, peaceful, perfect, and healthy.

Joy may end in grief. How true, so very true. Yesterday started joyous for Kara's family but ended in grief. Likewise, yesterday started joyous for my family and I but ended with heartbreaking sadness. Yesterday confirmed what my husband and I had been suspecting for a week or so; I was pregnant. A long journey to grow our family, a test of faith and trust in the Lord had come to fruition, a blessed new life was growing inside me. Last night it all came crashing down. Through God's infinite wisdom and ultimate plan for my life, he has ushered me onto the road of miscarriage. While deeply saddened and crying as I write this, I have a peace within me that can only come from my Heavenly Father. I am not angry or hopeless. I have complete trust in Him that this is all part of His plan.

Be blessed my dear friends on this Sabbath! Hold your family close. Joy may end in grief.

Please visit Blogger Spirit for other Spiritual Sundays.

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Saturday, February 27, 2010

Field Trip Friday: FA-18D Tour

On Monday of this week my kids and I were allowed the opportunity to tour FA-18D jets with a squadron on Marines at our local Marine base. The trip was arranged through a local homeschool group and my kids and I tagged along as eager guests.

Broken into age groups, the once large group split into three smaller groups and we all followed our assigned Marine aviator. First stop for our group was the dressing room. My boys had fun in this room. After a brief demonstration of gearing up for flight from a Marine pilot the kids were all offered an opportunity to try on the gear for themselves.
                   My oldest all geared up and ready to go!             Wee Man all set to pull Mach 5

The technology that it takes to keep jet pilots alert and coherent for flight is amazing. All told the three layers of gear and helmet weigh upwards of 30 pounds. If I remember correctly, the first layer of gear is the one that keeps blood flowing to the brain when G's are pulled during flight. Through an air tube connected to the vest air is pumped into the best and constricts blood flow to the legs so it doesn't pool there during intense flight patterns. Instead the blood is forced to keep flowing to the brain so the pilot can continue to think and function properly during flight. Another vest includes the life preserver around the neck in the case of a water landing. The outermost best includes a bunch of tools and gadgets to help the pilot breathe, function, and otherwise do his job properly.

Next stop was the FA18-D jet. Here we learned countless things about the jet itself. First off, the FA stands for fighter attack and the D indicates it is a 2-seater jet (D for delta or two). We also learned the front nose cone protects a radar dish that helps the pilot locate his targets. The second man in the jet is the weapons and safety officer. He manages the weapons during flight. Lastly, when parked various parts of the plane must be covered so that insects do not nest in or land on the jet thereby impairing proper function.

The last stop on our tour for the day was the briefing room. Although our last stop for the day, this is the first stop the Marines make each day before they dress or fly. They are briefed on their mission for the day and then gear up for their flight.


My kids and I had a wonderful time Monday experiencing the FA18-D. After the trip we checked out numerous books on Military fighter jets and my boys are doing a mini-unit on airplanes because of this educational trip.

Be sure and visit Live the Adventure for more Friday Field Trips!

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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Homeschooling a Fast Learner

My young 5 year old son is a fast learner, doesn't like repetition, and when he puts his mind to something he can complete an assignment incredibly fast. Do I think he is gifted? No, not in the Einstein-sense of the word. I just think learning comes easy to him. He is the reason I started homeschooling. I knew our public school system (which is ranked #3 in CA) could not handle his learning ability considering the enormous budget cuts our schools have endured the past 3 years. I knew when his teacher couldn't (or wouldn't) teach to his ability he would be bored and turn into a discipline problem; a situation I was hoping to avoid. By God's grace we were able to financially taken on the cost of homeschooling.

Homeschooling a young 5 year old who doesn't need nor like repetition is challenging. Packaged curriculum works fine to a certain degree but he works through them much faster than scheduled. This leaves me scrambling for more quality work for him to complete. I am against busy worksheet assignments. I want my children to be engaged and challenged with each assignment. To that end I have had to make a few changes to the curriculum I have chosen for my kinder son; My Father's World Kindergarten

The changes I have made include:
1. More than on letter per week, typically two although I'm sure he could do more.
2. Additional phonics lessons using Explode the Code
3. Singapore math; currently on Book B and nearly finished
4. Teach Your Child to Read in 100 lessons
5. Gobs of informational books on the subjects we are learning that week. I am known at my library for checking out bags full of books just to keep my kids (primarily my 5 year old) satiated with read alouds and new reading books.
6. Math problems on the "math" sheet for each letter. Rather than having my son simply draw "x" number of items which correlate to the number of the week. I write out 4 math problems, addition and subtraction, for the number of the week. I also recently began teaching him fact families for those numbers.
7.Rather than having him simply draw a shape around each word that I select from his word sheet on day 4, he draws lines between a string of words I call out. He also creates his own sentences using the words for that week. Per his request, I also write out 20 or so words on additional sheets of 2nd grade lined paper so that we can do this exercise each school day.
8. Copywork; I write out 4 copywork sentences for each letter of the week. I paste a picture which relates to the sentence at the beginning of the sentence and then neatly write a 6-8 word sentence following the picture.
9.Using a bucket of letter cards we create words 2-3 times a week. My son experiments with letter combinations and enjoys making long words all my himself.

Keep in mind these changes happen every week, nearly everyday. Because he learns at such a fast pace if he is having an off day (tired, sick, otherwise cranky) I do not press him to do school beyond the basics. I know he is learning plenty for his young age.

I guess my point in all of this is that when homeschooling a gifted or fast learning child you need to be prepared well ahead of time. I am learning through trial and error that to keep ahead of the game I need to have 3 weeks of lesson plans and materials prepared for my son. As it stands today, I had to rush and copy some materials because he surprised me with another great day of learning and we sped way ahead of where I thought we would be at this time.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daily Devotions at Faithful Rubies

Faithful Rubies Daily Devotions
Please join me beginning March 1st for daily devotionals at Faithful Rubies. I pray that these devotionals are a source of encouragement and strength for you as you walk the path God has set before you. Don't forget to follow through networked blogs, a reader, or subscribe via email so you can receive the devotions each day more conveniently.

God Bless,
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Today's Simple Pleasure

As a parent there are moments in your life when your children help you appreciate the simpler things in life. A resolution of mine for this year was to start getting back to basics as much as possible. While I have always home cooked our meals and stay away from processed foods for our main meals, convenience has admittedly crept into other areas of our eating. I have stopped buying goldfish, fruit snacks, and other processed foods there were once staples in our snack diet. After a week of protests from my kids they stopped asking. But, I digress. That topic is a whole other post.

Today I wanted to share with you a simple pleasure my boys and I enjoyed this afternoon. Normally when school is done for the day we head outside or to the park for playtime. However, today the sickies have become too much to venture outside. My youngest son is tired and needs some forced rest. To keep him occupied and entertained I though we would have a special afternoon of a movie and popcorn. A treat in our house! Popcorn is not something I keep in the house so off to the store I went with boys in tow to get some kernels. Initially I thought we would just get the usual, Pop-Secret in a bag. God had a different plan for us this afternoon though. A lesson he wanted to teach me. My little 5 year old, being closer to the bottom shelves than I am saw a novel item; real popcorn in a bag. Imagine the wonder in his eyes. "Cool Mom, look at this, real popcorn." That got me thinking, not only is it cheaper but it will be fun for the boys to see real popcorn pop on the stove. I have fond memories of cooking popcorn at my Grandma's house in the midwest when I was young. So much popcorn would pop that the top would be pushed off of the pan. So with our bag popcorn in hand we headed home.

Into the pan goes the olive oil. Followed by a kernel from each of us. When those popped I poured in 1/3 cup of popcorn. And viola! The ooohhhs and aaahhhs and wows began. The excitement in their eyes was priceless. And over what? Simple popcorn popping in a pan. How magical!

Thank you Heavenly Father for that simple pleasure today with my boys!

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Update: Eating from the pantry challenge

A week ago I shared that due to unforeseen circumstances my family and I would be eating from the pantry through the end of the month. Since my last post our financial situation has dramatically improved but I am still committed to following through with the challenge. Saving money and stretching our dollar is always a priority to me. 

First I want to share what I bought earlier this week to hold us over for the next 2 weeks. In addition to the items shown below I also bought 6 Jenny-O extra lean ground turkey and 1 more sour cream. I had put these items away in our extra refrigerator before I took this picture. The bananas, apples, eggs, and salad are organic.

I bought all of this (and the stuff in the garage refrigerator) for $100. Savings totaled $50. Prior to this shopping trip I had to buy milk and some tortillas which totaled $20.  Grocery prices in my area are MUCH higher than in other parts of the country.

I will not have to grocery shop until the end of the month. So for 2 weeks I only spent $120 to feed my family of 5. Compare this to spending on average $600-$700 for a month to feed my family in previous months and I am doing fabulous! 

Of course my success in this challenge is helped by the fact that I stocked up on ground turkey earlier this month when it was on sale for $1.99/pkg. 

Some of our meals for this past week have included:
Lasagna; noodles left over from lasagna the previous week, used my Mom's canned pasta sauce, 1 package of ground turkey, and thinly sliced zucchini bought earlier in the month.

Tacos; these are a staple in our house, otherwise affectionately known as Taco Tuesday. This week though we had them on Monday because of time constraints and defrosting meat. They were bare bones this week. Homemade pinto beans, ground turkey, tomatoes, chopped olives, and sour cream. Usually we also include lettuce and avocados but I couldn't justify spending the money when we didn't have them in the house. 

Salt & Pepper Chicken; Thank you Sam the Cooking Guy for your inspiration! Pounded thawed chicken breasts until they were even thickness. Season with a little olive oil, salt (I used sea salt) and pepper. Pan cook until done. Squeeze lime juice over before serving. Very tasty and easy! With this dinner we had salad and rice.

Lentil soup; a wonderful item I pulled from our pantry and finally used. Add some thinly sliced carrots and celery (wilting in the fridge but fine for this soup, yeah for not having to throw these out). Served with garlic toast, I used just a regular loaf of bread, nothing fancy.

Flank steak; another treat from our freezer, saved and refroze from a meal earlier this month. Pan grilled with olive oil, garlic pepper, and sea salt. Served with homemade pinto beans and garlic green beans.

Leftovers; who doesn't love leftovers? These nights are a frugal Mom's dream come true. Leftovers from the week included lentil soup, ground turkey from tacos. and chicken. My oldest had a bean, cheese, and turkey burrito. Another son had chicken and veggies, my daughter had some chicken too, hubby had lentil soup and salad, and I had salad. 

I am missing 2 dinners which for the life of me I can't remember, so sorry. I will take notes this coming week on what we make for dinner. By the way, my entire family eats every meal at home, 7 days a week. We are fortunate enough to have my husband work close enough to our home that he can come home for lunch everyday. 

Breakfast during the week are typically cereal for the kids and a smoothie for my husband. I eat a protein bar when I get a minute to grab something. Lunches are more leftovers, soup, sandwiches, quesadillas, or bean and cheese burritos.

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God: Review & Giveaway

 Sheila Walsh takes her reader in Beautiful Things Happen When a Woman Trusts God through a journey in the bible as well as through her personal life. Walsh describes in detail 10 figures from the bible that exemplify their trust in God. She also discusses at length her own personal struggle in times of darkness with trusting God. Throughout the book Walsh relates her own struggle with that of the biblical figure she discusses. In this book Walsh lets her reader know that it is ok and normal to have struggles and periods of darkness and despair. She used the 10 characters from the bible to show how like us they struggled with trusting God but in the end triumphed over their difficulties.

From the moment I started reading this book I was enthralled. Sheila Walsh writes with such ease and eloquence, this book was an easy yet incredibly insightful reading experience. Straight from her heart, Walsh describes in detail her struggles with depression and how the Women of Faith ministry was the least likely place she thought she would find her calling from God. Honestly, Walsh professes her love for God but at the same time describes how like us, she too fought to find her unfailing trust in her Savior. As women it is common for us to want to put up a front of happiness in spite of how we truly feel inside. Walsh lets us know that is normal but trusting in God is first and foremost. He knows what is on the inside and what we are truly made of. When you feel alone or filled with darkness, trust in Him to see you through. Walsh eloquently describes how she was taken from the darkness of a psychiatric ward and put on the stage for the first time at a Women of Faith conference. She thought she would falter and fall but her Heavenly Father was right by her side to help her with every step. This book is an incredible encouragement to all who read it.

From the Publisher
Be sure to watch this video about Beautiful Things Happen When a Women Trusts God:
Delivering a big message with strong biblical insights and heartening personal stories, author and Women of Faith speaker Sheila Walsh shows women the life-changing power of trusting in God.
Most Christian women live with a deep sense that they can't seem to get things right, that if only they could be a little better, life would straighten out. Through her own personal hardships, Sheila Walsh has learned that the Christian life is not about getting things right or back to "normal." She writes, "Christ comes not to get us out of our difficulties but to live in us through them." She wants to show women that God has a stunningly beautiful moment of redemption for them that leads to a lifetime of peace and joy.
In this eye-opening message for women, she presents a moving look at her own story as she dives into the lives of Bible characters, drawing out lessons from their trials that women can use immediately to establish a deep, life-altering trust in the Father.

Thomas Nelson publishing kindly provided me with free copy of Beautiful Things Happen When Women Trust God in exchange for my honest review of this book.

If you would like an opportunity to read Beautiful Things Happen When Women Trust God by Sheila Walsh I am giving away a free copy to one of my readers. To enter this giveaway leave a comment on why you want to read this book. 

You will recieve additonal entries for the following: 
  • grab my button from the side of my blog
  • follow me through networked blogs or a reader; or both :)
  • facebook about my giveaway.
  • tweet my giveaway, one entry for each daily tweet
  • blog about my giveaway
Please include relevant links in your comment when appropriate. This giveaway will end March 13th, 2010, midnight PST.

Free Busy Mom's Bible

I received my free Busy Mom's Bible in the mail today. It is a beautiful soft leather two tone pink with a brown accent stripe. I am excited to begin using this new bible alongside my old-faithfuls. Register today for your own free copy, limit of 5000.

He Freed Us From Sin

He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, 
and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.
Titus 2:14

From time to time we all struggle with parenting and can be hard on ourselves for the choices we make. Of course God wants us to do good in everything but he also knows that we are not perfect. Admitting our faults and asking for forgiveness is essential. So at the end of every day, give up your sins to our Heavenly Father as for his redemption and forgiveness. He loves you so much he will forgive you each and every time you ask.

For other spiritual posts visit Spiritual Sundays

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Family Friendly Friday #3

Bigger isn't always better. . .sounds simple enough right? 

When you are out shopping how often do you assume that "family size" packages are cheaper without really comparing prices?

As I eluded to earlier this week, the grocery purse strings in our house are cinched as tight as they can possibly go.  Push came to shove today though and I had to do some shopping for essentials. One of my essentials included frozen fruit for my husbands daily breakfast smoothie. At first I grabbed a large bag of mixed frozen fruit, the bag labeled "family size". On a hunch though, I noted the per ounce price and headed down the aisle to the smaller bagged frozen fruit. And what did I find? The smaller bags were on sale and priced .02 cents cheaper per ounce than the bigger bag already in my basket. Score one for frugal shopping!

The take home lesson in all this though is:
  • to check your prices and price per unit
  • do not assume store brands are always cheaper, compare everytime you shop
  • use your calculator! Store pricing labels do not always calculate the price per unit in the same units for the same items.
    • Case in point, today I scored big when shopping for toilet paper. Using my calculator I realized that a 12 roll of name brand was cheaper than the store brand. The price tag was misleading at first glance though because the price per units between the two brands was different, thereby giving a different value.
  • use coupons whenever possible to make your purchases even cheaper
Even if your grocery budget has wiggle room and it's strings are not tight, frugal shopping will save you money that you can use elsewhere in your budget.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tough Kids Teach Tough Lessons

No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening---it's painful!
But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained this way.
Hebrews 12:11


Raise your hand if you enjoy discipline. . . .well of course you don't, I don't think any parent enjoys being the bad guy in the eyes of their child. But just as the our Heavenly Father disciplines us for bad decisions we too must teach our children right from wrong.

If you have more than one child you undoubtedly experience a difference in personalities between those children. Some are mild, some are calm, while others are, oh how shall we say it, tough. Yes, that is a nice term for those kids that have their own path in life.

When I ran head long into motherhood I was first a step-mother. By God's grace I became a step-mother (not really a fan of that term, mind you) to a VERY calm 2 year old and his 4 year old sister. The 2 year old never threw a tantrum, never argued, and always sat still to eat his meals. No kidding, I am not exaggerating! God knew I needed this reprieve from discipline being that I was a new Mom thrown into a tough situation. Still to this day my son is easy going and has a super kind heart. After that walk in the park of raising a 2 year imagine my horror when I realized not all toddlers acted that way. My side of the family, myself included are strong personalities so it comes to no surprise that my 2 youngest are "tough".

Yet again though, my Heavenly Father knew what I could handle and knew the lessons these tough kids would teach me. For Him and my children I am forever grateful! My 2 tough children have thought me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. I shudder to think of the person I might be today without them and their never ending love. However, if you are a Mom of a tough child you know that the road of parenthood is bumpy and sometimes painful.

Through His grace and mercy though, tough kids teach us tough lessons. Lessons that are so important to learn!

From my 2 tough children I have learned the following:
  • Putting myself in timeout is effective and necessary
  • Closing my eyes and counting to 10 brings my heartrate down a few notches
  • Tempers are hereditary and can be traced directly through my familiy
  • Watch what you say and do because it will ALL come back to haunt you
  • Silence filled with only a hug helps me and my child
  • When I feel my patience has reached it's breaking point, there is ALWAYS just a little bit more to get me gracefully through the tough situation
  • Stopping to pray aloud for patience, guidance, and strength teaches your children we need to always look to God for help.
My 2 tough children have graciously taught me that I can handle tough discipline situations with ease and effectiveness. I see that they are all growing into kind hearted children. Though I will never be perfect, my tough children are showing me that perfection isn't what they need. Children around the world just need loving and patient parents, the other stuff will all fall in place.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Doubt vs. Trust

O Lord, I give my life to you.
I trust in you, my God!
Do not let me be disgraced,
or let my enemies rejoice in my doubt.
No one who trusts in you will ever be disgraced, 
but disgrace comes to those who try to deceive others.
Psalm 25:1-3

Doubt and trust can come in many different forms in our lives. Be them personal, spiritual, or worldly; doubt and trust play a vital role in who we are how we live our lives.
How is doubt affecting your personal life? In what areas of your life do you doubt yourself? Listen to your self-talk and you will find your answers. I hear too often from my friends "I am not a good cook", "I am so bad at that", or "Oh, I could never try that, I am too old". The list of doubting comments could go on and on. So many times our self-doubt stems from something in our childhood. Whether it was a single comment someone said to us at a vulnerable time in our lives or an overall theme of worthlessness to our childhood, self doubt lives in all of us in one shape, form or fashion.

The problem isn't whether we have doubt in our lives, but rather what we do with that doubt. Does it consume us and limit our lives or do we acknowledge it and move past it? Of course we all need to do the later.

Doubt can permeate your relationship with our Lord Savior. You might question the life path he has set you on or you might falter with unanswered prayers. No matter the situation or circumstance we have all doubted Him one time or another. But why? As I walk the life that He has set before me I am growing in my faith, understanding, and most importantly my trust in Him and His path for my life.

Personally, this year already has some major changes on the horizon. A job change for my husband has been a year in the making and has to happen this year. As a result, the job change is taking the form of moving our family out of state. And if a job change and 1800 mile move wasn't enough in one year, God has laid upon our hearts  growing our family by faith. 

A large family was not always in our hearts, quite the contrary in fact. After the birth of our youngest my husband and I decided we were done. That is it we said, no more, we are done. How foolish we were! Shortly after our decision and steps to make no more kids permanent we began doubting our choice. For two and a half years we struggled with where God was leading us. In essence we were doubting Him. What a mistake on our part! Why didn't we trust Him more freely? Doesn't he provide everything we need? Don't we owe it all to Him? And still, we doubted. Oh Heavenly Father, please forgive us of our doubt.

This post was laid upon my heart this evening because I know many (if not all) of you struggle with doubt, pain, or struggles in life on a daily basis. Have you given your fears to God? I want to encourage you to trust in Him with everything you have. If it is His will, He will provide everything you need.

Sure I could be a nervous wreck thinking about a job change, moving my family of 5 with 2 dogs and a cat 1800 miles from my hometown, and possibly being pregnant all at the same time. You know what though? I am at peace with where my Lord is leading me. He will hold my hand and guide me down the path he set before me even before I was born.

Give Him your doubt and He will give you comfort. Trust in Him because everything is possible with God!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Impromptu Pantry Challenge

A few circumstances this month have unexpectedly created an impromptu pantry challenge in our household. Depending on the results and success of this challenge I may propose and host a larger group pantry challenge in a month or so.

What is a pantry challenge you ask?

Essentially it is a challenge to eat from your pantry for a month. You plan and prepare meals with the ingredients you have on hand stashed and hidden in your pantry, fridge, and freezer. There are several advantages to a pantry challenge; not only do you use things you might otherwise forget you had, you also save money, and when done in a large group you gain encouragement and accountability.

My personal one-woman pantry challenge will be for the next 2 weeks; through the end of the month. Thankfully I stocked up on meat last month when it went on sale. Prayerfully I will be able to make it through the next couple of weeks on the ingredients I have on hand. I will certainly keep you updated and be on the look out for a group-wide pantry challenge.

Tithing Book Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Heavenlysavings! She is the lucky giveaway winner of Tithing: Trust Me In This.

She has 48 hours to respond to the email I sent; otherwise the book will be given to another lucky winner.

 Coming soon. . .Beautiful Things Happen When A Woman Trusts God giveaway!!! I am currently reading this book and it is VERY good.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The road to enternal salvation is through Him

The road to salvation is wide open and easy to drive through.  There are 4 turns along the road to salvation.

1st turn: Everyone has sinned. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God's glorious standard. Romans 3:23

2nd turn: The penalty of sin is death. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23

3rd turn: Jesus Christ died our sin. But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners. Romans 5:8

Last turn: To be forgiven for our sin, we must believe and confess that Jesus is Lord. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ. If  you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.

If you believe in Jesus for your salvation you know that driving this road is one thing. Living and staying on this road is another thing entirely. I want to encourage each of you to continue driving, walking, running, or whatever your hearts leads you to do along this path to salvation.

Eliminate soda from your diet

About 6 months ago my husband and I made a conscientious decision to further improve our diet. For a long we have eaten low carb and included lean meats and veggies in our diet. However, undeniably we were addicted to soda and coffee. Our coffee was laden with lots of cream and sweetener. After our morning fix of coffee we always switched our caffeine addiction to diet soda. However, when our waistlines were increasing despite otherwise healthy eating we suspected our caffeine and sugary drinks were sabotaging our diet. We stopped our caffeine drinks cold turkey. I won't lie, it was rough. Three days or so of headaches and crazy cravings almost did me in mentally. Once we were past that period though it was smooth sailing and our waistlines shrank back to a normal size. Now while we didn't make our decision to stop soda and coffee based on scientific research, I thought that an article posted on the blog Dr.Momma might be educational for those of you that struggle with coffee and or soda. What happens to your body within 1 hour of drinking soda article.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Turn the other cheek

God is amazing!

On my afternoon walk today I was listening to the Daily Audio Bible NLT version. Through daily podcasts Brian at DAB will read the NLT bible in its entirety during 2010. My husband recently downloaded this podcast to my phone so I have been able to enjoy it on my walks these past couple of days. But I digress, one of the podcasts I listened to today read Matthew 5. As the podcast continued I found myself meditating on Matthew 5:38 which states But I say, do not resist an evil person! If someone slaps you on the right cheek, offer the other cheek also. This verse rang loud in my heart because of challenges I have had with my two sons. When push comes to shove and one of them gets hurt they usually strike out at the other in anger and revenge. I have struggled with how to best handle this situation. Sometimes I tell them to walk away, other times I have told them to stand up for themselves. Today, God gave me an answer through his Good Book. This evening I repeated Matthew 5:38 to my boys after they each hurt one another in anger during a wrestling session. For me, there is nothing more powerful than being able to teach my children directly from scripture. His word is such a powerful tool for teaching and blessed me this evening.

Revenge and anger are sometimes difficult struggles in our lives. It is my prayer that next time anger rises in your heart, you hear Matthew 5:38 shouting loud and clear in your head.

Book Review & Giveaway: Tithing: Trust Me in This

Tithing: Trust Me in This by Douglas LeBlanc is a compilation of interviews performed across the country with people who are biblically committed to tithing. LeBlanc interviews eleven different persons regarding their journey towards tithing stewardship. Most people interviewed in this book are leaders in their church. LeBlanc not only recounts brief personal and religious history in each chapter but also correlates the history to their commitment to tithe 10% or more. Each chapter is a testimony of how committed tithing has blessed their lives and God has increased their financial strength so that over time they were able to tithe more.

I enjoyed reading Tithing: Trust me in This. It is a quick read that provides the reader with an opportunity to reflect on their own tithing practices and commitments. While this book is an interesting read, it is light on scripture references regarding tithing. Personally I was hoping for a biblically referenced argument for tithing somewhere in the book but found nothing convincing.  LeBlanc does provide a variety of perspectives on why each person(s) decided to tithe which gave me an opportunity to reflect on my own tithing practices and my personal level of tithing commitment. LeBlanc interviewed a wide variety of people on their tithing which was helpful to see that people from a wide variety of backgrounds both economically, socially, and religiously have all come to the same tithing commitment. I would certainly recommend this book to anyone exploring tithing to their church.

From the publisher Thomas Nelson:

Stories of people who live a generous and happy life (and why you'll want to live that way too).
Journalist Douglas LeBlanc travels the nation to talk with believers whose lives have been enriched by the ancient spiritual discipline of tithing. He discovers people along the way who do not understand the practice as an onerous law but as God’s call to a life of generosity and compassion. The effect on their lives is dramatic.
LeBlanc talks with a variety of believers—from a pastor in the south side of Chicago to progressive Episcopalians, from an Orthodox rabbi to an Eastern Orthodox priest and his wife. By holding their gifts with open hands, they are drawn deeper into a life of joy and sharing that begins in the very heart of God.
Volume VII in Thomas Nelson's Ancient Practices series.

Thomas Nelson publishing kindly provided me with an advanced free copy of Tithing: Trust Me in This in exchange for my honest review of this book.

If you would like an opportunity to read Tithing: Trust Me in This by Douglas LeBlanc I am giving away a free copy to one of my readers. To enter this giveaway leave a comment on why you want to read this book, grab my button from the side of my blog, or facebook about my giveaway. One entry will be given for each comment. Please include relevant links in your comment when appropriate. This giveaway will end February 13th, 2010.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Follow Up: An Organized Homeschool

First off, thank you everyone for your wonderful responses and questions regarding my post over the weekend An Organized Homeschool. I truly appreciate all the feedback and I love brainstorming and fellowshiping with other homeschool Moms who struggle with organization just like I do.

By request, I will delve more into my workbox and binder resource organizational systems. Both of which I feel are two key components to our organized school day.


So what actually goes into those goofy looking drawers? What is all the hype about? Can I use workboxes but not fill them every night?

1. The inside of our boxes: These pictures illustrate two things; one the no frills simple approach in which I load our boxes and two, the system I use to fill most of the boxes only ONCE A WEEK.
This is my 3rd grader's math drawer. His Singapore 2B textbook and workbook are in this drawer. Also inside is a spiral notebook of graph paper. While he doesn't use this everyday, I keep it in there so it doesn't get misplaced and he knows to only use it when needed; otherwise it isn't a distraction for him.

This is my 3rd grader's phonics/vocabulary drawer. He is flying through both subjects so I have decided to alternate weeks with these 2 subjects. As you can see there is ample space in these drawers for workbooks, textbooks, and any accessories an assignment might require.

Don't waste your time buying shallow drawer cart systems to use as workboxes, they will cause you more hassle then they are worth and are a waste of money in the long run. Tall craft carts might be aesthetically appealing but they don't function well if you want your workbox drawers to hold all the supplies needed for an assignment. Honestly, in the end isn't that the whole purpose of workboxes? To keep everything together so assignments get done more efficiently.

Also shown in the 2 photos above are my quick and easy way of loading boxes once per week. Keep in mind, I don't use this system on ALL of my boxes, just most of them. Some subjects do not lend themselves easily to this system of box preparation. Having said that, this is an inexpensive and quick way to load your boxes once a week. I do mine on Sunday night after all my angels are tucked in bed and I can concentrate.

The post-it note system works like this for subjects that require the same workbook/supplies each day:
1. Prepare your weekly lessons as normal. 
2. Write out a post-it sticky note with the weekly assignment.
     For example, Monday: pg. 12
                            Tuesday; pg. 13-14
                            Wednesday; pg. 15
                            Thursday; pg. 16-17
                            Friday; pg. 18
3. My son either keeps the sticky adhered to his assignment or will transfer it to the bottom of the drawer so it doesn't get lost.

I have also used the sticky note system for my Kinder, he is able to follow it without incident.

Not only does this method cut down on daily workbox prep time but it also helps if I ever need to look back on an assignment that changed for some reason during the week but I didn't note it in my lesson planner.

Here are a few more pictures of the inside of our boxes:

Daily reading book with a fun book reporter book mark I found at the 99cent store.

My binder topics include Science, My Father's World, Bible, Story of the World, Writing, Spanish, and Holidays

I started this system of organizing my homeschool papers because of all the ebooks and other pdf documents I was downloading from all the wonderful curriculum sites available. Not only was my computer screen becoming littered with a ton of icon files but I couldn't find a document when I needed it. So I printed the ones I knew I would need soon, moved them to a "printed pdf folder" on my computer, then put them in binders by subject and further divided in the binders with labeled tabs. The remaining ebooks I do not plan on printing soon I moved to a "unprinted pdf" folder on my computer. Now I can find what I need when I need it without frustration or wasted time searching.

For my friends using My Fathers World Kindergarten

My file system for the weekly letters; filed in lesson number order 
with lesson # and  related letter science topic

I pray that this post helped to clear up some questions. As always, I love your feedback and any questions or suggestions you might have.

Be Thankful for Your Blessings!

All in all, today has been an amazing Monday. School was fun and we learned more than I expected. I got to take the boys to play tennis because they finished their work early. While playing tennis at my in-laws I picked 2 big bags of organic oranges. I will be making lots of fresh orange juice tomorrow.

And while the day as a whole was wonderful, what just happened put icing on my cake and made me reflect for the day on just how blessed I am.

Little Ms. woke up fussing. Normally I just settle her back down, cover her up, and she is back to sleep. Tonight though she wanted me to rock her and cuddle. My first response might have been, "No, sweety it is late, go back to bed". But not tonight and prayerfully never again. I scooped her up in my arms and cuddled with her in the glider. Moments later as I was drinking in her sweet smell and soft skin, she fell back to sleep. As I sat there with her sleeping in my arms and rocking to a gentle rhythm I not only gave thanks to God for allowing her to fall asleep in my arms (something she has rarely done since she was 10 months) but I also gave thanks for the willingness he gave me to minister to my daughter despite the late hour and my level of exhaustion. These moments with my children will not always be here. I must savor them and embrace them whenever they appear. In the blink of an eye they will be grown. Then what? I don't want to ever regret not giving a hug, cuddling, or being there for my children when they needed me.

Today and everyday I am thankful for ALL of my blessings!


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