And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children. Isaiah 54:13 KJV

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Saint Francis of Assisi

My God and My All: The Life of Saint Francis of Assisi by Elizabeth Goudge is an eye opening journey through the life of the saint. I recently received this book to review and I found myself wrapped up in the life of Francis whose beginnings were anything but humble. While I'd heard of him, I really knew very little about his life before reading this reprint of Goudge's 1959 book.



Saint Francis began a little order of brothers in the woods based on praying, working, healing, and teaching. His only desire in life was to follow the example of Christ. His path was not easy by any means. The brothers took vows not only of poverty but vows to own or possess nothing. They went about barefoot wearing cross shaped tunics. Francis felt a deep love for the lepers who lived near Assisi, and he spent much time serving them.

The author has done a lovely job reconstructing his life for us. She quotes his own writings as well as others who have written about him. She gives a vivid, detailed picture of his life from start to finish. The history of Francis of Assisi left me longing to spend more time in prayer seeking after God and that was the goal of Saint Francis most of his life.


I received a free copy of this book from Handlebar Publishing in exchange for my honest review.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Learning German

When we got the opportunity to review a course from Middlebury Interactive Languages, I let Speedy pick which language he'd like to try. I was so surprised when he asked for German Language Courses! We received a 6 month course for Elementary German 1: Grades 3-5.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

Middlebury Interactive Languages are online courses so that your child can learn a new language at home. Your access to this course is limited to 6 months. The Elementary German 1 program includes 15 units with 6 lessons each and a review unit. This level begins with common family titles and covers many regularly used words. After completeing this unit, Middlebury Interactive Languages offers an Elementary German 2 course for purchase which is also recommended for grades 3-5.

 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review

The presentation of the words makes this language course unique. Through fairy tales and repetitive practice, children will learn their German vocabulary quickly. Speedy has had so much fun learning German and regularly asks to do extra lessons. I also hear him using the words he has learned throughout the day so I know he is retaining them beyond his computer study. This is a unique immersion technique that I think works really well for lower elementary students. 



This Middlebury Interactive course is very well organized. The Table of Contents tab pulls up a list like the one above. When you click on a folder and then on a unit, there are check marks next to the completed lessons. The calendar tab pulls up a calendar like the one below. The lessons are set on certain dates but you can have your child do them on any day. The calendar layout does make it easy to see which lessons are complete and which lesson is to be completed next. The checkmarks here also indicate completed lessons.



Once they select the lesson, they will be given a screen like the one below. It will show them each part of that day's lesson. They may have a fairy tale, a speaking lab, review, or a quiz. Once they have finished a portion of the lesson, it will turn black & white so they know they have completed it. Little details like the checkmarks and the picture turning black & white make it so easy for even lower elementary students to work through this program independently. This has been a huge plus for Speedy and for me!




There is also a gradebook tab that will pull up a list like the one below and show scores for quizzes and other activities. This is a great way as a parent/ teacher to keep track of the lessons and their success rates. I find this very helpful because Speedy is able to complete this course independently. He doesn't need my help to log on or to find his lesson and complete it. I like to go into the gradebook about once a week to check his progress and make sure he's on track. From the gradebook, you can also view the activity or test and check the problems that were marked incorrect. There is even a place to type in comments on those missed questions.





Another unique feature of this course is the speaking labs. Using a microphone connected to the computer, the student can record and playback their pronunciation of the German words. There is an option for this package with an online teacher. I believe if you select that option then the teacher will grade those speaking labs. We got the package without a teacher so we've just used the labs as a great way for Speedy to listen to himself say the words so he can make corrections as needed.

These online language courses are terrific for homeschoolers. I love that we can pick and choose to do fun things like German whenever we want! Speedy has really enjoyed learning German and has been much more interested in it than I expected him to be. He has taken the initiative to do extra lessons on weekends. He will be very sad when his 16 units are finished!

To plan his German studies, I have him slated to do 1 lesson per day on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. The lessons don't take long to complete. There are approximately 93 lessons total. Since the access to each course is 6 months, a student could easily complete it in that time frame. If you looked at this as a semester long course, our state requires 90 days per semester so it would easily be finished in that time frame if they could double up a few times. If your student enjoys it as much as Speedy, they will be finished early!

Middlebury Interactive Languages also offers courses in Spanish, French, and Chinese. They have courses available for elementary, middle, and high school levels. Most courses are available in level 1 and level 2. The courses are competitively priced for an all inclusive, independent language curriculum.

If you'd like to learn more, connect on social media:

Twitter  https://twitter.com/MiddInteractive

Instagram https://instagram.com/languageacademy/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Middlebury-Interactive-Languages/141015515949753

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/middinteractive/

Google + https://plus.google.com/b/110371351490550861545/110371351490550861545/posts

Or see what other Crew members thought of Middlebury Interactive Languages:
 Middlebury Interactive Languages Review





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Saturday, September 26, 2015

Know When to Take a Break

My kids have been beasts the last few months. Both are playing soccer and the boy child is doing a fall developmental baseball season. They have rocked it with little to no complaints about all the practices and games. All the practices y'all. Almost every night of the week. The nights they don't practice are church nights or when they have day games. I'm tired. They're tired. Hubby is tired. The granparents are tired.


But we can see the light at the end of the tunnel! These seasons will wrap up soon. Both kids have already had offers to start up other sports or extracurricular activities. While I generally love for them both to be involved in 1 extracurricular each, we need a break. They know we need a break. I know we need a break.

Really it won't even be a break because holidays and working and homeschool and church and blogging and yea. This is a good time for a sports break because we are going to be super busy with other life stuff. I'm so glad the kids are at the point (for now) that they realize an off season will be a good thing. They are happy that they might get some downtime.

I have loved watching them play. I always do! And I will be looking forward to baseball in the spring! But I'm very excited that we might get to pop some popcorn and catch a Bears game or spend a little family time just hanging out. I'm also looking forward to finding some (any!!) free space in my calendar.

It's important to be a grown up and know when you and your kids need a break. It isn't always a popular decision, and it can cause a ruckus. The kids might feel like they are missing out on something huge! If you drop something you do for yourself for a break you might feel like you are missing out on something huge! However if you are weary and you know your family is weary and God is calling you to a time of peace then you need to trust in Him and take that off season. It will be good for your soul. It will be good for your kids. And even your sports oriented kids need to give their bodies time to rest and recuperate!


Does your family take breaks from extracurricular activities? Do you find it important to step back and rest some seasons?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Does Your Family Like Fun Games?

We love to play games at our house so we were super excited when USAopoly sent us two fun, educational games to review for the Crew. Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game and Tapple: Fast Word Fun for Everyone are both great for the whole family. These games are easy to learn and neither take a long time to play.

 USAopoly Review
The kids picked Tapple to play first. With this game, you get a wheel of letters that has a timer button in the middle. There are cards to go with the game that have categories on them. We went with the easy categories to start. When a card is selected, the race is on! Each player takes a turn saying a word for the category and then tapping the letter that begins that word. The trick is to pick a letter that hasn't already been used and to do it before the time runs out! This game invoked lots of yells and laughter. The winner for each round keeps that card and the ultimate winner of the game is the one to collect 3 cards first. 



I couldn't believe some of the great words my kids used while we played. It was great practice for using their large vocabularies and remembering which letter begins each word. We have played this game several times during the review period. Not only have we played it as a family, but Apple and Speedy have played it alone a few times. They have also been sharing the game with neighborhood kids that come over to play. I love that they are finding so much enjoyment in a wholesome game that doesn't involve a screen!

"Tapple was a very fun game that makes you exercise your brain as well as your reflexes," said Hubby who enjoyed the game as much as we did!

 USAopoly Review
Wonky is an even crazier game! This game comes with 9 wonky blocks with uneven edges. There are 54 cards with instructions on them. Each player is dealt 7 cards and the goal is to use all your cards. The cards tell the player which block they can play either by color, size, or both. Some cards have special instructions like reverse and pass. That adds an extra element of strategy to this stacking game. As you try to stack the blocks, the tower gets crazy! It takes a steady hand and a bit of planning to win this game. Wonky definitely made the kids slow down and try to think about the blocks they were going to stack. I was happy to see them playing a game that involved some thinking. As we played many giggles were heard. 

USAopoly Review
This is another game that the kids shared with friends. They were playing both of these games with company we had over for a cookout on Labor Day. All the kids seemed interested in these games because they are new and so easy to learn. There aren't long instructions for either game. The rules are short and easy to follow. 


The Tapple game houses the cards inside the main wheel so it is easy to keep the whole game together. Wonky comes with a purple bag to hold all the playing pieces. It's like USAopoly knows my kids love to lose important game pieces! Seriously though both games easily fit into the cabinet where we keep all our card and board games. The kids love having games in there that I will allow them to play during or right after our homeschool time. Both of these games fit into the category!

Tapple and Wonky are recommended for players age 8+. Tapple requires 2 AA batteries for the timer. Other than that both games are ready to go when they are opened. It took less than 5 minutes for us to learn how to play each game. Tapple can be played by 2-8 players and Wonky is for 2+ players. Both games are entertaining and hold some educational value. My 8 and 10 year old both found plenty of amusement in both games, and I know these are 2 they will continue to play. With colder weather coming I'm glad we have these in the game cabinet!

During the holidays, we tend to play lots of games at family gatherings. I will be bringing these games along because the kids can play them without adult assistance. Does your family play games during the holidays?




Connect on Social Media:
Twitter https://twitter.com/USAopoly
Instagram https://instagram.com/usaopoly/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/usaopoly
Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/usaopoly/


See what other Crew members thought about Wonky and Tapple:


 USAopoly Review


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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

The Histories of Your Favorite Carols

The Carols of Christmas A Celebration of the Surprising Stories Behind Your Favorite Holiday Songs by Andrew Gant is the latest book I received for review. Although I've been working on Christmas shopping here and there it is a little early even for me to be enjoying Christmas carols. However I knew I would enjoy learning the history behind some of the most popular Christmas tunes.



The author has broken this book down into sections leading up to the Epiphany. He covers 21 songs in all from Advent on. Many of those songs were familiar to me like "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "What Child is This?". Several were carols that I have never heard before. All of them included a lengthy history. Lots of the songs had more than one history since it is unknown where they first originated.

As expected, I found the historical footprints of these songs very interesting. The book involves quite a bit of musical speak that was unfamiliar to me, but it did not take away from the parts that I enjoyed. The verses of the songs, sometimes more than one version, are included which would be wonderful for family singing at home. While this book is written well above Apple's head, as my musically inclined child, I know she will enjoy flipping through to read the various versions of each carol.


I received a free copy of this book from BookLook bloggers in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Power Breakfast #ZahlerWheyProtein



I recently received a 1.1 lb tub of Zahler Whey Protein powder to review. This protein powder is offered in several flavors, but I selected chocolate. As I mentioned in my last post, the family is looking to get into better shape. Hubby & I are prepping for a fun run with friends so this was a great time to get some extra protein in our diet.





This protein powder can be mixed with water, milk, or juice. I have been using it with 2% milk (since that's what we keep on hand for the kids). Hubby mixes his with water. I also like to add ice to mine and blend it. He has been blending his as well. Some days we add a tablespoon of peanut butter for even more flavor.


On a couple of occasions I have thrown it in my blender bottle on the way out the door. It works well too! One of these shakes makes for a great power breakfast on the run.

This is a great tasting protein powder that makes a smooth shake. The flavor is good, and we plan to buy this product again. This is a low sugar product and that's perfect for anyone looking to improve their physique.

I received a free tub of Zahler's Whey Protein powder from Tomoson.com in exchange for  my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Family Exercise

Over the past year or so, I have let myself go a bit. Exercise fell way down the priority list. I was participating in a group exercise class about once a week but gradually even once a week became tough to do even that. When we moved, exercise became nonexistent. I actually enjoy exercise (to some degree) and I've missed the exertion and feeling of accomplishment.

When the kids started their sports season, I began walking some while they were practicing. Then it got hot. Like really hot. Tennesseee hot. So I stopped. The sports seasons are about to wrap up. The kids have gained some great strength and endurance this season. I don't want them to lose all of that during the off season but we aren't willing to sign up for any winter sports either. The kids would enjoy them but even they agree we need a break from practices and games.

So we are implementing family exercise/ homeschool PE. This is something we've talked about several times and we've even had a false start or two in the past. The kids are older now and they are both interested in nutrition and exercise at these ages so I feel it is the prime time to really commit to it. We've only been at it for 2 days, but I am excited about the potential and their enthusiasm.

We live in an area that is prime for walking when the weather is right. We can walk in neighborhoods, we can walk to get a meal, or we can walk at the local park. When the weather is undesirable, we can do exercise videos or make up our own workout routines.

Hubby is involved too! He and I will be doing a fun run with friends next month so we are both hoping to improve our fitness level.

How do you exercise? Is it a family affair or an individual quest?

Monday, September 21, 2015

Fun New Series for Kids

Bob Hartman has started a fun new series of books for kids, and I received the first one to review for Tyndale Blog Network. The Big Pig Stampede is the first of the Goat Boy Chronicles. This 175 page book chronicles the miracles of Jesus into this funny fiction version.


Gideon, aka Goat Boy, travels with his merchant father and their merchant friends selling their wares. When Jesus starts to become big news, the entrepreneurs decide to follow the crowds and therefore are following Jesus. Goat Boy and his friend Bug end up nearby when Jesus performs some of His miracles. Could this guy really be more than a Rabbi?

I really enjoyed this book. It is a fun take on some actual stories from the Bible. Apple and Speedy both read the book and liked it too. The book is very funny in a juvenile way and will definitely help them remember some of the stories they already know from the New Testament. The book isn't irreverant but it certainly isn't a serious commentary on the life of Jesus. The word "jerk" is used right away so if you avoid books with that word then you won't like this one. However, I am glad my kids had the chance to read it and they are looking forward to the next installment.


I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Exploring History with YWAM

If you look at the curriculum tab above you will see that we have been using YWAM Publishing resources for a few years now. They recently sent us the Heroes of History book Christopher Columbus: Across the Ocean Sea along with the corresponding  Unit Study Curriculum Guide CD to review for the Crew. Although we've read many of the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series and some of the Heroes of History books, this was the first time we tried one of the unit studies. 
YWAM Publishing Review
In the past, Apple has read the YWAM books on her own as part of her studies. Last year we got some of the Heroes for Young Readers and read them aloud. For this study, I read a chapter per day to both kids. There were 15 chapters. This was a very informative book about the life of Christopher Columbus. I wanted to have the children do some study of explorers this year so we got a great start with Columbus. Each chapter was packed with information about his family, his voyages, his faith, and the various stories about his life. 

Janet & Geoff Benge did an excellent job putting together this history of Columbus. This book incorporates geography, history, religion, and even vocabulary. The book is recommended for ages 10 and up, but it was completely appropriate for Speedy (age 8) as a read aloud. As we finished, I felt like both kids had a better grasp of what Columbus was looking for, what he actually found, and how he got there. 


The Unit Study Curriculum Guide came in CD form. The CD will run on Windows or Macintosh. It is also available to purchase as a download. You can use some portions of the study on the computer and many parts can be printed. We primarily used the Unit Study Part 1 and Part 2 that came on the CD. Unit Study Part 1 included questions to ask at the end of each chapter, related themes to explore, related resources, and writing and project ideas. Unit Study Part 2 gives you the link to print a timeline, maps, and a fact sheet for Christopher Columbus. Apple filled in the fact sheet as we read through the story. The disc also gives you an option to download the files onto your computer. There are links with suggestions on using the resources in your homeschool as well as links to Bonus Materials. 



The questions for each chapter include a vocabulary word. We did a discussion on these at the end of our daily reading. The kids were easily able to answer the questions orally and usually had some questions of their own to ask. We also used some of the additional project ideas, and Apple gave a presentation on Juan Ponce de Leon the day after we finished reading the book. Her project helped her gain a better understanding of the Age of Exploration and also went right along with another book she is reading right now. I love it when it all comes together!


The reason we've been using the YWAM biographies so long is because they are interesting and informative. They are little unit studies all by themselves. Adding the actual unit study guide just kicked it up a notch. After all we've done on Christopher Columbus the last few weeks, I'm certain the kids will retain a lot of the information they learned about him. From printables to questions to writing ideas, the study guide CD was a wealth of resources and ideas. Occasionally the kids get frustrated with the extra work included in study guides, but this time they found it all fun and interesting. It certainly gave me a break because I could just dole out assignments as I saw fit. I didn't have to come up with questions or activities myself. That's always a plus. 

I have always loved history. Even though our main history focus this year is state history, the extra study on Christopher Columbus was a great bonus. Much of our Tennessee history has focused on explorers and settlers coming to America and driving out the Native Americans that already lived here. Reading Across the Ocean Sea gave Apple and Speedy a better understanding of just how that began. One of the beauties of homeschool is taking time to indulge in interesting unit studies like these aside from our "regular curriculum".

YWAM offer Heroes of History books for over 20 historical people from Christopher Columbus to Ben Carson. They also offer the Christian Heroes: Then & Now series with 42 books to choose from on people like Corrie Ten Boom and William Booth. These books are a great way for your readers to learn more about those who have come before us and made an impact on the world. They are all recommended for ages 10+. I can assure you that they will continue to be on our yearly curriculum lists for a long time to come!

See more YWAM resource reviews by Crew members:
YWAM Publishing Review
Connect on Social Media:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/YWAM-Publishing-482973445102/timeline/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/YWAMpublishing
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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Become a Super Teacher

When my kids were younger, I found awesome printables on Super Teacher Worksheets all the time. I got out of the habit of using it as a resource, but I recently received an Individual Membership to review for the Crew. I'd never tried the paid sections of the website before, so I was really excited to check it out.


Super Teacher Worksheets Review

Super Teachers Worksheets is a website with over ten thousand worksheets available to print. Some can be printed for free and others require you have an individual membership to view them. The membership is super affordable at $19.95 per year. The site is organized by subject down the left column of the page. You can also do a search to find a specific lesson or activity.


There are resources and activities for most subjects for Preschool through 5th graders. I found a few items specified for grades above 5th and I found quite a few things that were level appropriate for Apple (6th) like Integer worksheets. For each activity you find, you can view it, preview it, or save it (more on this in a minute). If it is a Common Core aligned resource or if it is offered in Spanish, that is clearly marked.


For 3rd graders (like Speedy), there are tons of choices for math, reading, spelling, and more! I started out searching the site for specific topics we are studying like plant cells and the state of Tennessee. I immediately found some worksheets to use in science and history. I printed them off and put them with lesson plans for specific days. There were 2 levels of plant cell worksheets so Apple got one and Speedy got one. The State of Tennessee map went right along with an activity they were doing for history.




Then I looked up Christopher Columbus because we are doing a special study on him right now. So many items came up! I was able to put several of them in "My File Cabinet" which is an awesome resource on the website where you can save worksheets for later. There's not a way to organize the files as you save them, but it keeps a running list of saved files for you to view whenever you need. I printed out the Christopher Columbus Character for each of the kids on cardstock. They made their own Chris while I read to them from the book we are using for our study.



The kids enjoyed making their own movable figures, and I found them acting out adventures with their Christophers later. This was the perfect activity to keep them interested in our special study. Coloring and cutting are important and fun pastimes for any age!


If you haven't seen anything interesting to you, the site even has a worksheet generator that you can use to make your own resources. I needed an activity for a specific Bible story, and I was able to make a word search in just a few minutes. It was just what I needed, and I was able to customize it to fit a story we were using and to make it age appropriate.


I am so impressed with this Individual Membership and the number of choices on Super Teacher Worksheets. You could easily use this resource to cover several subjects, like spelling, with no other curriculum. Many times I feel like a curriculum is moving too quickly past a specific lesson or skipping it altogether. With Super Teacher Worksheets, I can fill in more time on things like map skills to supplement the study we are using. While I found more resources for younger grades, this isn't a wash if you have older kids. There are some worksheets in there for those over 5th grade if you search for them. You can also generate activities and pages on your own.

If you have have younger kids, especially preschool age, this could be all you need for a full year of homeschool. Using these printable activities with some books from the library would cover all the subjects you need at that age. There are even some printable readers!


Super Teacher Worksheets Review

With puzzles, reading comprehension, holidays, grammar, math, spelling, and so much more, I think every homeschooling mom can find something useful for her kids on this site. Don't worry moms/ teachers- answer sheets are included! Just one more way they Super Teacher Worksheets makes it easy for you to be a super teacher!



See what other Crew members have to say about Super Teacher Worksheets:



Super Teacher Worksheets Review

 Connect on Social Media:

https://www.facebook.com/superteacherworksheets
https://twitter.com/superteacherwks
https://instagram.com/superteacherworksheets/
https://www.pinterest.com/superteacherwks/

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Monday, September 14, 2015

Refreshing


The weather in Tennessee has been just amazing. I know I've gushed about it a little on here, but I just can't get over it. It feels like God has just been refreshing my soul with the beautiful weather.

I've gone around our house and found all the windows that I can open. I've had them open wide for the last few days. It's been so nice to turn off the ac and let God's breeze blow through our new home. I'm excited to air it out a bit.

While I'm enjoying this season (and certainly don't want to rush it!) there is a thrill about looking forward to the holidays here. I'm excited to have family and friends over for Thanksgiving, and I'm excited about a bigger home to decorate for Christmas. Last year we barely decorated our little rental house, and it almost didn't feel like Christmas at all.

Maybe the holiday gratitude is just beginning early for me this year. We know so many who are sick and facing big life things. We've been in those seasons before, and I'm just grateful for the peace God is granting in our lives right now.

Our Sunday School class is reading in Isaiah and what struck me recently was Isaiah 32:17-18.

The fruit of that righteousness will be peace; its effect will be quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.


If you've never lived in a home with no peace you may not understand the blessing of God's promise there. Many days I can dwell in thankfulness because our home is a peaceful one. I am especially thankful when the temperatures are cool.





Flavor Up Your Coffee

Crowdtap sent me an awesome box of Folger's Flavors (free!) to try and to share. We gave some to Hubby's co-workers and kept the rest to try.

The 4 flavors we received were vanilla, mocha, hazelnut, and caramel. I was so excited to try these flavors because the weather is cooling off and I drink even more coffee when the summer heat is gone.

I expected the mocha to be my favorite. I tried the caramel first, and it was good. It doesn't take much to add big flavor to your favorite cup of joe. I tried the mocha next and was very disappointed with it. It had an overall liquor flavor and didn't taste like mocha at all. I'm usually not a vanilla fan but it is actually my favorite. It is a light flavor and tasted like vanilla. The hazelnut is good too!

This small bottle packs huge flavor! If you love coffee but get bored with your regular cup, give Folgers Flavors a try!

Crowdtap sent me free samples in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Our Week

We had a fun and busy week! It was our first school break week. We do a schedule about 5 weeks on and one week off. Of course homeschoolers are always learning so we took a fun field trip with a local group this week.

Our trip was to a nearby state park. It tied in with the state history we are learning. It also has loose ties to a book we are reading aloud right now. Of course there was plenty to connect to our Botany lessons too! We took a hike, went out in paddle boats, and played on the playground. It was a super successful field trip!



Monday was a holiday, and we celebrated with family at our house. It was a wonderful day to rest from our labor and enjoy a cookout and some card games. At the end we were all full and the kids were filthy so it was a good day.

I like to use these breaks to catch up on housework and blog business, but I didn't get much of that done this week. I'm not too concerned. There's always time to catch up later.

Today is the first really cool morning we've had. I'm looking forward to soccer and baseball games today and enjoying the lower temps. It now truly feels as though summer has come to an end. The calendar is already filling up with items as we amble towards the holidays.

Did you have a good week? Have you taken any field trips this semester?

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Silence

Once upon a time, silence drove me crazy. I always had the TV on or the radio going (sometimes both at the same time). I chattered incessantly and felt like I always NEEDED to be talking with someone. I didn't like silence. I didn't understand people who enjoyed silence. I think silence made me feel lonely, and I've never been a fan of that.

When the kids were little, silence generally meant they were getting into something that they shouldn't. As cute as they were, they could make some pretty big messes, and they were always up to something.



Now that I am older (and they are older), I finally understand that silence is golden. In this crazy busy world, a little silence and pray can make all the difference in an insane day. I appreciate the moments with no noise. A few seconds to watch the shadows bounce on the lawn with no noise around me feels like a mini vacation. When the kids go to bed and I spend a little time reading my Bible in the quiet is one of my favorite parts of the day.

So take your cup of coffee, find a spot with no sound, and enjoy a moment! Do you like silence? Have you always?

Exciting Announcement

This post contains affiliate links.

I have some exciting news! Registration for Teach Them Diligently 2016 has just opened!!! Can you handle even more good news? Today and tomorrow (9.8.15-9.9.15) you can register the family for just $40! How awesome is that?

In 2016, TTD will be in Nashville March 17-19, Atlanta April 28-30, and Sandusky May 12-14. All the speakers haven't been announced yet, but I can let you in on a few names you might recognize.....

Kirk Cameron (Nashville only)

Ken Hamm (Atlanta & Sandusky only)

Andrew Pudewa (Nashville only)

Linda Lacour Hobar (Nashville & Sandusky only)

You can see the list on the Teach Them Diligently website under the speakers tab. The list is growing weekly!

If all that isn't enough to encourage you to sign up today, there is a special chance to WIN!!! Everyone who registers before end of the day on September 9 will be entered to WIN 2 nights at your choice of host hotel during Teach Them Diligently 2016!! How amazing would that be?

If you aren't familiar with TTD, it is a information and fun packed convention for homeschooling families. I went for the first time last year with my hubby, and we had such a good time. You get to listen to homeschooling veterans give you encouragement and direction on raising your kids in a Godly way and homeschool techniques and tips. There are sessions for dads and moms and both. There are many sessions on Biblical topics. Your kids can go with you to sessions or for an additional price you can register them in a special program onsite. There is also a HUGE hall for purchasing curriculum, books, and more!

You can read about my time at TTD 2015 here

So in summary, go today or tomorrow and get in your 2016 registration for the special price of $40 and be registered to win 2 nights at the host hotel of your choice convention. 

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Finding a Point to it All

Our Sunday School class recently read and discussed. Ecclesiastes. The lament of all things being meaningless rang true to most of us. We've all attempted to fill our lives with worldly ventures only to find they held no real reward. Fran Sciacca uses that as an example in his new book So, What's Your Point? which I received as a review item.



This book is divided into an introduction and three main parts where Sciacca discusses his ideas about our identity, purpose, and mission as Christians. The introduction was quite interesting as he discussed the history of the church in the last 60 years. He delves extensively into generational trends that affect the church. This is a great time to read those historical facts as Christians become divided on social issues of our time. Sciacca also discusses the effect of technology on the current population. He has obviously done a lot of research on both of those areas and gives many quotes from others as he goes along.

As the title references, this book focuses on Sciacca's ideas of what we should be asking ourselves as Christians. We are no longer in what he calls the narcissistic church of the '80s, and we've discovered that we need to be missional. The author's premise is that we must look back before we can look forward to discover our purpose.

This book is worth the read. It is a bit wordy for me, but you can't say Sciacca isn't thorough! Many pages are full of quotes from the Bible, other authors, and other sources. He makes his points clearly and takes the time to back them up. If you feel adrift in your purpose in God's plan, this book will get you started asking the right questions.

I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale Blog Network in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

It Is Coming

Fall is coming. In fact it seems to be coming a little early here in Tennessee! I'm so excited! Fall is my favorite. Football, hoodies, and bonfires. Well....this year I get to have patio fires in my firepit and that is even more exciting. The latest book I received from Tommy Nelson for review is all about fall.



God Bless Our Fall by Hannah C. Hall is a fun board book for your littles. This book, beautifully illustrated by Steve Whitlow, celebrates all the wonderful changes that happen in the fall. Cute animals are depicted enjoying pumpkins, fall treats, and even bobbing for apples! This sweet little book will help your sweet kids remember to thank God for each season and especially all the wonderful things that happen only this time of year.

I think it is super important that we continually remind our kids to be thankful for everything. It is also a wonderful reminder that all of our blessings come from God. This book would also be a great way to begin teaching toddlers about changing seasons. I will likely be passing this book along to some sweet little friends at church.


Would you like to win your own copy of this fun book? Enter via the easy Giveaway Tools Widget. One winner will be selected on 9/12/15.


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I received a free copy of this book from Tommy Nelson in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The Past Returns

The latest book I received to review from Blogging for Books is Ties that Bind by Cindy Woodsmall. This brand new book releases on September 8, 2015. I was very excited to see this new series, The Amish of Summer Grove, from Woodsmall. Sometimes when I get a new Amish fiction, I worry it will be too similar to the others I have read. There was no reason to worry! The plot of this story is very unique.



Ariana Brenneman had her heart broken five years ago when the guy she loved ran away with her best friend. She has felt the sting of the betrayal all these years but has finally started seeing another Amish fella and feels like life may be falling into place. She is determined to buy a local restaurant, with the assistance of her twin brother Abram, to help her family who has always struggled financially.

The runaway beau, Quill, begins reappearing in Summer Grove. Can Ariana ever trust him again? While she deals with her issues with Quill, her parents are trying to uncover a truth that could rip their entire family apart. Will Ariana ever fulfill her dreams? Will Rudy stick around to pursue a relationship with her? Is Quill going to break her trust again?

Those questions and more will keep you rapidly turning the pages of Ties that Bind. I already can't wait for Book 2 in the series! If you enjoy easy reading and/ or Amish fiction, you will love the story of Ariana Brenneman.


I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review. All opinions are my own.