Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Sovereign by Michael W. Smith - ALBUM GIVEAWAY!

"I’m really passionate about the song SKY SPILLS OVER.  It was fun creating it in the studio and I’ve been overwhelmed at the response it gets when we perform it live every night.  My son Ryan is a really talented filmmaker so I always enjoy working with him on a project.  But what made this project even more special was that 3 of my own grandkids were in the video.  This video was a lot of fun to make.  I hope people enjoy it!"   

You can watch the video here.

Can you believe we've increased our family size by three children and 14 grandchildren since we joined together almost 18 years ago?  Well, me neither!  Our family will officially number 24 after we add a third son-in-law to the mix in just a couple weeks.  CRAZY!  With our ever growing family in mind I share Michael W. Smith's excitement about his Sky Spills Over music video.  Any venture done as a family is all the more special and enjoyable.  Talk about making memories!

Sovereign by Michael W. Smith debuted at Number 10 on the Billboard 200 and Number 1 on the Christian Albums chart when it was released on May 13, 2014.  In honor of the release of the music video for Sky Spills Over I have a copy of the CD to give away.  Just comment below with your favorite thing to do with your grandchild or grandchildren.  If you have not been blessed with grands yet share what you look forward to most about having grandchildren.  Be sure to leave a way for me to contact you if you win.  Good luck!

"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.
Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Friday, May 22, 2015

Books Off Our Shelves

We always have numerous books going at once around here.  I can't help but be in the middle of a half dozen or so myself.  Then, there are the chapter books we read together.  There are bedtime stories; a chapter book for the older one, and story books for the two young ones.  There are readers, e-books, and bible studies.  We read magazines, webistes, nook books, cookbooks, and free kindle books.  Here is where we have our noses poked right now:

As a family we are reading the following:

The Adventure Bible - The kids and I love this version of the bible.  Harmony has had it a couple years now, and it is a wonderful resource.  It's easy to use, is packed with lots of extras, and has many learning resources and activities to add to the experience of reading and understanding the bible.

Devotions for Kids - This is year two of using this devotion each morning.  The kids love it, and the lessons are timeless.  It's a wonderful way to start the day!

How to Train Your Dragon Series:  Book Four - Avery and I LOVE this series.  We first got hooked on the movies.  Then, I went on a quest to find the books.  It was a tad challenging, but we were sure excited when our "Queen's Mail" arrived on the porch!

With Harmony I am reading:

American Girl Meet Kaya Series:  Book Four - Kaya is our first American Girl experience, and is sure is a good one!  We started this series with a nice group of girls in our homeschool group.  One of the moms heads up a book club, and Harmony just loves it.  Even the little kids enjoy participating.  I very much enjoy reading these books with her and find myself wanting to read more as to not have to wait to learn what happens next.  Very well written!

The Chronicles of Narnia - This is a timeless classic for me.  I still remember reading this as a young girl.  Unfortunately, we've seen the movie a few times, so it's not as interesting to Harmony.  She already knows what is going to happen.  However, I am enjoying the repeat experience.

My personal stack of books includes:

Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN - I did a review on this book just this week.  It's a wonderful resource, and I am enjoying the continued experience of working my way through it.

October Suite - I just began this novel, and already I am hooked.  Honestly, I'd rather be reading it right now than doing anything else.  I cannot wait for my chores to be done so that I can poke my nose back between the pages.

Jesus Lives - I received a beautiful copy of this book from my mom a while back.  Slowly but surely I am making my way through the pages.  Normally, I read it each morning with my devotions, and it is very uplifting.

Days of Praise - Another facet of my morning devotion time.  This is a wonderful FREE resource that I receive in the mail each quarter.

Some of our favorite bedtime stories recently include:

Aladdin - This is the first book that I've read with Bella that requires a bookmark.  That's always a fun milestone for me.  We are reading a few pages each night at bedtime, and she is really enjoying it.  The large, colorful pictures are fun to look at, and each page only contains a paragraph or so making it easy to keep the attention of such a young one.

Little Critter Book Collection - I have a fondness for Little Critter books.  I can still remember my mom reading them to my brother when he was young.  Now, Avery is enjoying them very much.  He goes through streaks, and right now this collection is his most requested for bedtime stories.  We have read several recently.

Snuggle Puppy - What can I say?  Sandra Boynton ROCKS!  We love her books, and her music.  This book is a wonderful combination of both, and Avery loves it when I sing it to him at night.  What a fun way to end the evening!

The Going to Bed Book - More Sandra Boynton!  This is Bella's favorite bedtime story.  She knows most of it by heart now and enjoys "reading" it to me.

Guess How Much I Love You - When I became Avery's mom I spent a lot of time in a haze.  Going from normal life to new mother with no transition time took me longer to adjust to than most.  I cannot tell you how many times (at least 100's) I read him this book.  I love the story, and I didn't have to think.  I read it to him a few times a day for at least the first six months of his life.  After I could see clearly we moved on to other stories, but this was the perfect book to read to him over and over.  I still read it to him regularly.  We both enjoy it very much!

So...what are you reading?  We'd love for you to share what books have found their way off your shelves and into your hands.  Do share!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

motivate your child ACTION PLAN - A Book Review

Parenting is an exhausting endeavor with its challenges and its joys.  Raising children is no small task.  Just look at us.  We figured we'd like to have a go at it ten times over just because we enjoy studying in the trenches so very much.  Parents and children come in all varieties.  There are various personalities, different sets of luggage, personal challenges, family history, genetics, and a slew of other factors that come together to form our own, unique family makeup.  Gone are the days of June and Ward Cleaver with their cookie cutter family.  Families rarely look the same anymore.  I know ours is anything but ordinary.

Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN written by Dr. Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller, RN, BSN is a followup book to their previously reviewed at The Zoo Crew book simply titled Motivate Your Child published by National Center for Biblical Parenting.  I was originally drawn to this book and its teachings because it fits so very well with our goal to raise these three currently under our tutelage to be motivated, self-sufficient, young people, and later adults, with a love for God, family, and community.  We are more thoughtful of our parenting style and technique now than we ever were with the seven that went before them.  Let's just say we learned a lot, and there is a lot to say about giving some forethought and prayerful consideration to just what it is we are doing under this title we wear called parent.

In Motivate Your Child we learn about parenting to the heart of our children.  We are introduced to the conscience and the importance of helping our children to develop a strong one.  Despite its ability to stand alone as a wonderful parenting tool Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN is a perfect companion for the original Motivate Your Child.  It's written in a workbook style with short chapters that focus on a specific area and task.  I have this aversion to writing in books, so I started a text file on my computer and am working through the book that way.  The chapters are simple to read and easy to follow.  What may take you some time though are the action items.  Though the concepts and given tasks are simple in their stating and ideas, the actual process of carrying them out can elicit some emotion and require some soul searching.

In our family we are working through some big stuff.  Life has thrown some major hurdles at us, and we are making wonderful emotional progress.  It can be the toughest for our soon to be ten-year-old.  As most of you know, she is our granddaughter, and we are legal guardians to her and her younger sister who is four.  They have been with us for nearly three years.  For the young one the transition has been more natural, but the soon to be ten-year-old has had to unpack some baggage.  She's come a long way, and we've come a long way with her.  Talk about feeling like you're traveling unfamiliar terrain wearing a blindfold!  Praise God we've had some wonderful support from more wise than us people perfectly planted in our lives at the precise moment they were needed.  Motivate Your Child and Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN are just two more resources in the perfectly timed support system in which we have been blessed.

When I finished reading the first book back in January I have to admit that I was a tad frustrated.  I had all this wonderful information that I agreed with wholeheartedly, but I lacked the tools necessary to know just what to do with this information.  I was super excited for the opportunity to review this follow up book with its 12 audio presentations, one for each chapter.  With our family dynamics, and my one deaf ear, listening to or watching anything for informational purposes can be quite challenging.  It's just not my time in this department.  Quiet?  Seriously?  You have that in your home?  I did manage to listen to the first one (well, most of it), and it is nice to hear the authors elaborate on the content of the chapter.  I can see where this resource will be beneficial to many.  Maybe I can benefit from it at a later date, like when my kids are all 10 and above!

Anyway, I am taking the process of working through this book very seriously.  My main focus is working with the oldest child, but I am already experiencing where what I am learning is carrying over to the other two.  In a way it reminds me of when you commit to morning devotions, and you notice the impact it has in all areas of your life when you stick to the commitment.  This is the same way.  Once I started working on my relationship with my oldest at home, I saw the benefit with most all of my relationships.  It's kind of a mindset thing.  Honestly, I am not as far along in the book as I would like to be at this point, but some things just cannot be rushed.  This is another circumstance where we create better children by becoming better parents ourselves.  Sometimes this means we have to do some serious soul searching and looking within.  It may require a little more time on our knees.  I am dedicated to finishing each part of the book before moving on as I desire to gain as much from this process for myself and my family as I possibly can manage.

Raising children that are secure in who they are with the motivation they require to move on and up in life requires some serious soul work on our part.  I've been around the block enough times now to know that there are no guarantees.  BUT, we can always do our best to lay the strongest possible foundation for our children to lift off from.  What they do with it is their own choice, and I pray that working through the Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN will equip me with more relevant strategies to assist my children in the growing process so that they can develop a strong conscience and a healthy motivation to be all that God has planned for them to be.

If you purchase your copy of Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN on or before May 31st you can receive 25% off the cover price.  By using the promo code AP5BGT you will receive an ADDITIONAL $5 off for a grand total of $15 off the cover price!

Birds of a Feather - A Unit Study Review

Homeschool Legacy Review

By now you've probably figured out that I love to support small business and homeschool created ventures.  Here we are discussing another wonderful product created by a homeschool mom.  Homeschool Legacy is the brainchild of Sharon Gibson.  She's a veteran of the homeschool sort.  She's been there, done that, and through her passion for figuring out what works well she created these wonderful unit studies.

For the past month or so our family has been enjoying Birds of a Feather.  It's a fun, no-prep, four week unit study.  We already had a fascination with the birds that visit our yard, and we have an avid owl lover in the house, but working through this unit study provided us the opportunity to get to know the birds in our area a little more personally and enjoy some quality time together learning even more about birds and how they live.  Birds of a Feather is a simple unit study with everything laid out for you.  There is no real prep involved, but you will need to do a little thinking ahead.

Homeschool Legacy Review

Unfortunately, we no longer live in an area with a wonderful library system at our disposal.  (The trade off was well worth it, but when it comes to things like this we have to get a little more creative.)  Sharon did a wonderful job providing a vast list of suggested reading to accompany the activities and focus for each of the four weeks.  Despite the large selection of material to choose from I was unable to locate not one of the 12 books she recommends for the first week.  However, like any good homeschooling mom I have my own personal library right at home.  We made do with what we had, and it went quite well from there.

Each of the four weeks has a theme.  We learn about a different aspect related to birds, but the basic outline remains the same.  There are library and video choices, a supply list, daily activities, weekly activities, family devotions, and a science lesson.  Everything always leads back to the Bible and God's wonderful creation.  The activities support learning together as a family and spending time in God's word both independently and together.

The girls setting up the feeding station.

As part of our review we received the digital download version, but the unit study is also available in paperback.  Personally, I would love to own the paperback copy, but I'm a book in hand kind of girl.  I just printed off the lesson each week, got my materials together, and planned when we would do each activity.  Basically, I just plugged it into my planner.  Super simple!

With our current stage in the game, my favorite part of the unit study was family movie night.  I liked the first film the best, Fly Away Home.  It was the perfect choice for getting the family interested in learning more about birds.  The movies really do add kind of a finishing touch to each area of study within the unit.  I especially like how the study is designed (rather intentional or not) in that it appeals to all learning types.  There's writing, reading, hands on, and visual learning all wrapped into one complete and easy to implement package.  There really is something to appeal to everyone, and it's wonderful for the educator in that it's all nicely presented with very little preparation needed.  We didn't need to purchase anything, but depending on what you have on hand you may need to buy some things to complete the activities and projects.

Hanging the suet feeder.
As a side note, since we don't have anyone in the category at the moment, Sharon even provides all the information for both Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls to earn their relevant badges.  In the future we just may take her advice and use the unit study to complete a 4-H Project Record.  This is our first year participating in the fair, and the one doing the participating is already well underway with her project.  The ideas for using the unit study for children that participate in these groups are found in a section titled Getting the Most Out of Your Once-a-Week Unit Study, and I highly recommend you read this part before you start.  There is a lot of information provided to really help you get the maximum benefit from using the study.

Homeschool Legacy Review

Homeschool Legacy is social on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.  To learn more about the Birds of a Feather unit study as well the many other unit studies available through Homeschool Legacy visit their website, or read more reviews by clicking below.

Homeschool Legacy Review

Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

S is for Smiling Sunrise - A Book Review

Smiling Sunrise Review
ABCs, ABCs, how many ways can we learn our ABCs?  Learning our ABCs is such a big deal when we are little.  As a parent it can get kind of mundane and boring teaching ABC's, especially when we're raising a lot of children.  I many times CAN we sing the ABC song?  How many picture books can we read with the typical A, apple, and B, ball, and C, cat, and D, dog, and on and on it goes?  WordsBright, a small, independent publisher, has published a book that is anything but the A, apple, and B, ball approach to the ABCs.  In writing S is for Smiling Sunrise Vick Wadhwa (He's on Facebook if you'd like to connect with him.) has most definitely provided parents and children alike with a refreshingly new take on ABCs.

Smiling Sunrise Review

It's quite impressive to me that a children's ABC book can be tied into our homeschool in a variety of ways with a variety of teaching opportunities.  Character and Virtues has been a concentrated area of focus in our homeschool this year.  S is for Smiling Sunrise effectively teaches and reinforces areas of virtue that we have been actively learning and practicing as part of our normal routine.  The vocabulary is excellent.  I love the words that were chosen to represent each letter of the alphabet.  They are anything but ordinary; K, kaleidoscope for example.  Then there's the rest of the book content which is rich in literary stimulation including rhyming words and wholesome messages.  The content is rich enough to even elicit conversation from the nine-year-old, not just the two young ones.  We really enjoy reading it as a family, as a bedtime story, and the kids enjoy looking at it on their own.

Bella, age 4, enjoying the book independently.

S is for Smiling Sunrise also comes with a few wonderful resources.  There is a FREE Teacher's Guide available for download.  I love that the teacher guide provides relevant ideas and activities for K-3 age children.  It's not just for toddlers!  In the Teacher Guide there are four areas of focus for each letter; concepts, questions, vocabulary, and activities.  That's 26 different concepts to explore, 26 different questions to discuss, well over 100 vocabulary words to learn, and more than 26 activities to do together.  All of this from a children's ABC book!  Did I mention that we love this book?  You can even download a free word poster to go along with the book via the website as well as an MP3 of the story put to song.

There is so much potential within the pages of S is for Smiling Sunshine.  It's a wonderful teaching tool for not only learning the alphabet, but fully enriching the learning experience of your child.  It would be a wonderful addition to any homeschool curriculum for young children as well as just enriching the learning process for any child in a variety of learning environments.  We are looking forward to expanding on the book with the provided resources as we go throughout the coming year.  Such a fun way to take learning the ABCs to the next level!

Wordsbright Review

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, May 11, 2015

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy - A Review

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review
I was a little apprehensive about taking an online course on how to succeed in homeschooling.  After all, I have been a homeschool mom for 18 years.  Really?  18 years?  It sounds impossible when I say it out loud, but it is the truth nonetheless.  I pondered the idea of taking the Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course and ultimately decided I had nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Despite our status as a homeschooling family for almost two decades our family makeup, and therefor our school makeup, is ever changing and not remotely ordinary.

When we graduated our last homeschooler into independence nearly four years ago we were adjusting to life with a newborn.  I was actually considering church school for the little guy.  Homeschooling high school can be a little intense, especially three at a time, and this mama needed to know she had options.  Well, the baby turned into a toddler, my life as a high school home educator ended, and I became a new mom all over again.  It just seemed natural to continue with homeschooling.  At that point we realized that we ARE a homeschooling family.

Enter the next big change.  Two of our granddaughters came to live with us full-time, and life was a little shall we say hectic for a time.  The oldest one was school age, and big decisions had to be made.  She came home at Christmas break, and we never looked back.  I share this with you in relation to this review simply to illustrate that all of our journeys are a little different.  Our realities may have similarities, but the subtle (and not so subtle) nuances of each of our families are what make us unique.  We have different needs at different times.  That's what's wonderful about the Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course.  It meets all of us right where we are at the moment.

My first thought in reviewing this course is how much I would have LOVED to have had something like this at the beginning of my journey all those years ago.  What a tremendous blessing it would have been.  I tend to shoot in the dark and jump in the deep end without looking.  That just seems to be the way my life flows.  BUT - what if - what if I had this at the beginning?  This course is SO SIMPLE and SO EASY to follow.  I look forward to receiving the email each week with the new lesson.  It arrives as a downloadable PDF which I can read on my laptop or print and put in a binder.  It really doesn't take much time to work through.  Some weeks may require a little more effort, like when you're ironing out your schedule, but for the most part we're talking 20 minutes or so.  I love the way Stephanie suggests making a special time just for you to relax and focus on the lesson with a beverage of your choice.  Unfortunately, I have not been able to make this aspect of it work for me at the moment, but I have not given up hope.

Having worked through the first nine lessons (of the 26 total) as well as two bonus lessons, a nice little perk Stephanie throws in here and there, I know this is going to help me greatly as we transition into this next phase of homeschooling.  Currently we are moving from a full-time, year-round approach to a more relaxed spring/summer and more intense fall/winter approach.  Our family is getting deeper into homesteading.  This year we plan to grow more of our own food as well as add livestock to the picture.  This means we need more time in the spring and summer months to work our land and prepare for the fall and winter months.  I guess in this sense we are taking a more traditional approach beginning now as far as scheduling goes.  It has been MANY A YEAR since we took a break from academics in the summer, and the transition feels a tad awkward at times; just as much as it seems a natural fit.  Utilizing the guidance throughout the lessons helps me take a step back, evaluate our needs as well as our desires, and refresh my memory on the goals of just why it is we live like we live.  I think we all need to remind ourselves of that from time to time.

Successful Homeschooling Made Simple in my opinion would be most beneficial for those stepping into homeschooling for the first time and those, like me, that are looking to make a big transition in how they "do school."  It's also a wonderful resource for taking a little me time to walk through the lessons as a sort of self-evaluation as to how things are going within your own homeschool, or with a specific area that you'd like to improve.  The determining factor for me deciding to take the course was looking forward to the lesson on housekeeping!  Are there any of us out there that don't fret over the limited amount of time we have to pull off everything?  As a homeschooling mom it can often feel like we work a few full-time jobs.  Working through this course forces us to step back, gather our thoughts, and move forward with a more purposeful and simple approach.

Each lesson is presented in a simple, inviting, and easy to follow format.  There is always a preface to let you know what to expect within the lesson followed by the lesson itself.  Stephanie has sprinkled inspiring quotes throughout the course which I really enjoy.  There is also suggested reading in relation to the lesson.  The books are not required as part of the course, rather they are suggested as a way for you to get even more out of your experience with the course and within your homeschooling journey.  The lessons end with a summary, and assignment, and a little glimpse into the following week.  Yes, it really is simple!

Check out Stephanie from Successful Homeschooling Made Simple on Facebook!

Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review
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Friday, May 08, 2015

SEA LIFE Aquarium Field Trip

Our local home school group organized an awesome field trip to SEA LIFE Aquarium in Auburn Hills, MI.  This was especially exciting for my crew as it was the first "real" field trip we've taken, and daddy got to tag along.  It was an exciting day.  Not all things went as planned, but we all enjoyed the aquarium VERY MUCH.  We'd love to visit again for sure.  Take a peek at the fun we had:

Just seeing this got the kids excited!

This is just part of our group waiting to go inside.

Each area had a sign like this
to educate you on a specific topic.

The kids loved that they could actually get "inside" the tanks!

A little hands on area is always a huge bonus!

So many fascinating fish to observe!

The walk through tunnel was my favorite part.

Avery and his buddy, Seany.
He was like his personal tour guide.

The jellyfish area was fun with its changing colors.

This girl was all over the place.
Can you tell?

Harmony turning red with the jellyfish!

Silly kids!

Observing the sea life.

Part of the group of buddies!
We all had a wonderful time and definitely look forward to going back again.  There are so many possibilities for learning and discovery.  What a wonderful resource to have in our state, and it's only an hour drive from our home - all country too!  That's a bonus for me.  It's only a matter of time before we go back again.

Plumb CD Review & GIVEAWAY - A FlyBy Promotions Review

There's nothing quite like music to lift the spirit.  I have to admit my ability to listen to and enjoy music was greatly diminished when I lost the hearing in my right ear nearly 10 years ago now.  The constant white noise is still annoying and greatly aggravated by loud noise.  It has come to my attention that I don't listen to music like I used to.  It's near impossible when I am the driver of my vehicle, and I have a passenger.  Loud music and conversation are near impossible with my good ear facing the driver's side door.

With an emerging adolescent in the house that loves to sing, listen to, and play music I find that I am giving the act of listening to music a little more effort.  The latest CD by Plumb, Exhale, is the first new CD I've had in I cannot even tell you how long.  We brought it along on our latest field trip to the local aquarium.  It was the perfect length for our hour long ride, and everyone enjoyed listening.  We even recognized one of the songs from the radio.

Our enjoyment didn't stop there.  I didn't realize how much the adolescent enjoyed the CD until she asked for special time to go on You Tube and look up songs from the album.  There she discovered a video featuring Plumb talking about the back story to her song Lord, I'm Ready Know.  It made a very positive impact on her, and she's still talking about it.  In the short time that we've had the CD we have listened to it several times already.  I have a feeling it will make it back into the player today during our Friday cleaning.  No better way to get things done than to crank up good tunes!

Stop by my Facebook page, LIKE it if you don't already, and leave a comment on this review post to enter to win your very own copy of this CD!

About PLUMB:
Tiffany Arbuckle Lee, better-known by her stage name Plumb, is a songwriter, recording artist, performer and author. Plumb has sold more than 500,000 albums and over two million singles worldwide, co-penned songs for numerous other artists, including Michelle Branch, Mandisa, Mandy Moore, Jaci Velasquez, and Natalie Grant, and had music placed in many films and television shows.Originally signed as a Christian Contemporary Music (CCM) recording artist in 1997, Plumb is now known as well as or better in alternative rock, electronic dance music, and for the use of her music in film and television than she is in the CCM market.

About the album:
EXHALE, the seventh studio album from acclaimed multi-genre singer, songwriter and author PLUMB, expresses a new focus and vision. After the runaway success of NEED YOU NOW (the album, title track and book), which coincided with her own moving story of brokenness and ultimately healing, Exhale brims with worshipful songs of gratitude and hope.

The defining concept of EXHALE was born from a sermon at Plumb’s home church, wherein her pastor Pete Wilson expressed the notion that the Church doesn’t exist for itself. Rather, believers come to church to breathe in grace and truth, be changed, and then go out and “exhale” that hope into their surrounding community.

“That idea of exhaling hope hit me right away and I couldn’t get to the Notes section on my phone fast enough. I started writing the chorus of Exhale right then and there,” explains Plumb. “I have been made new by the ultimate hope, and I want to share and exhale that hope in everyway I can.”


"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

5 on the Fifth - May 2015 (Homeschooling High School)

I love our local homeschool group!  It is beautifully created by an amazing group of families.  Each family is unique and special and fabulous all in its own right, and it's what each family brings to the group that makes it so magnificent.  On the third Tuesday of each month we hold a support group meeting that is open to everyone, members and non-members alike.  You just never know what you'll learn or what you'll be able to share just by being present.  Last month our topic was Homeschooling High School.  I have to say that it was by far my most favorite meeting of the year.  The conversation was amazing, and I do believe it could have gone on all night had we not been constricted by the time frame imposed by our meeting location.

We strayed from our normal meeting format in that this meeting was done in a panel fashion.  Those of us that are homeschooling veterans, meaning that we've graduated one or more child from high school, sat on the panel.  We used a list of prompts and opened ourselves up to questions from those that are currently traveling this homeschooling journey with a high school student, or they will be in the future.  It was amazingly interesting.  I didn't expect to learn too much, or really even take away any real encouragement.  It has after all been five years since I last taught homeschool high school, and I've got a good four years or so before the next one enters into the high school years.  Why does that seem so far away until I type it here?  You know as well as I do it will go by in a flash.  What was I thinking!?

Anyway, my contribution to the evening was to prepare the devotional.  Sometimes I write my own, and sometimes I share what others have written.  I prayed about this a lot, and on my journey I discovered a lot of wonderful resources.  I collected so many that I began a board on Pinterest just for Homeschooling High School resources and information.  You can visit it by clicking here.  For now, here are my five most favorite posts from my research:

Heather at Spirittibee nails it with this devotional, A Homeschool Mom Devotional: Being Broken.  That is why this is what I shared with the ladies to encourage them on their journey.  Her devotional written directly to the homeschool mom points us directly where our brokenness should be leading us.

Let me just say that I love Lee Binz.  It's no surprise to me that one of her posts made it into my top five.  I discovered Lee years ago, and she is a wonderful resource for anyone currently, or preparing to in the future, homeschooling high school.  How to Cope: Lack of Motivation in Teens effectively addresses an issue a lot of, if not all of us, will face somewhere in the journey.  I just keep reminding myself to enjoy the extra sleep teens need, and see it as a bonus.  Right now, I would give almost anything for my kids to sleep more!  LOL

I love this guest post by Gina Glenn on the blog Ben and Me.  It's refreshing to have a positive perspective laid out for us on areas where we may otherwise be inclined to impose negative thinking.  We're our own worst critic, and Gina does a wonderful job clearing up our focus with her post, 10 Things I Did Right Homeschooling High School.

I'm, eh-hem, 44 years old, and I still think about what I'd like to do when I grow up.  My paternal grandfather had the awesome blessing of knowing what he wanted to do when he was eight-years-old, going for it, and being a smashing success at it to boot.  Our oldest son is in the process of realizing his dream that he's held since age four, and he's doing quite well at it.  Me, well, I like a lot of things, and knowing what I wanted to do for THE REST OF MY LIFE at the age of 18 was not something I could achieve.  That's why I really like this post by Vicki Tillman.  With 10 Ideas for Career Exploration in High School Vicki does a wonderful job of equipping us with some tools for guiding our teens through this process of discovery.

Since my hubby and I seem to be on a quest to see just how long we can raise children, I think it's our full-time career by now, this post at The Relaxed Homeschool hits the nail on the head for me.  As you may know, we will be "older" when this batch of children is ready to fly the coop.  With that in mind, it has become more important to me now more than ever before to fully equip them to be independent and self-sufficient.  They must know how to care for themselves and witness to others.  We will not be here in the winter, and maybe even autumn, of their lives.  For me, Set Your Teens FREE! builds solidly on that foundation we are actively laying with our current brood.

If you learn nothing else from these posts, it is my prayer that you would leave here knowing full well that...


5 on the Fifth

Monday, May 04, 2015

Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN - Book Release GIVEAWAY

You may remember earlier this year when I shared with you my review on the book, Motivate Your Child.  I find myself reflecting on the irony of finding myself a 29 year veteran at this whole parenting adventure and the fact that I am reading and reviewing parenting books to this day.  You see, it really doesn't matter how long we've been doing something; we can always learn something new.  And, with something as important as our role as a parent, learning something new here and there is always a worthwhile investment.

I really enjoyed the initial publication, Motivate Your Child, when I read it back in January.  Upon completion I found myself wanting more; wanting a plan.  Then I found out about the Motivate Your Child ACTION PLAN.  It was on my wishlist of books to buy, and as fate would have it along came an opportunity to check it out and share my thoughts with you lovelies.  I will be working my way through the book this month and taking notes.  Before May is behind us I will be sharing my thoughts on this step-by-step guide designed to help craft a plan based on the guidance provided in Motivate You Child, or simply as a stand alone resource without having read the book first.  Either way, there is plenty to gain for us all!


Motivate Your Child Action Plan Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Motivate Your Child Action Plan, we are joining other members of the Launch Team in a wonderful giveaway filled with an iPod Touch, $50 iTunes Gift Card and several biblical parenting products! A value of nearly $350! Here's what you could win: 

Apple iPod touch 16GB Black/Silver  ($195 value)  

  • In the Box - iPod Touch, Apple EarPods, Lightning to USB cable, QuickStart guide
  • Brilliant 4 Retina display with Multi-Touch IPS technology
  • Front-Facing FaceTime camera with 1.2MP photos & 720p HD video recording.  
  • iOS 6 features - Siri, Apple Designed Maps, Integrated Facebook, Shared Photo Streams, Passbook & more

iTunes Gift Card ($50 value)

 Because you'll need apps and music for that iPod Touch!

The Christian Parenting Handbook and Companion Guide ($56.95 value) 

The Christian Parenting Handbook contains nuggets of parenting wisdom condensed into 50 short chapters, each one biblical, practical, and relevant for parents of children ages 2-18. Learn appropriate ways to correct, instruct, and set limits. Glean wisdom for dealing with emotions, conflict, and developing closeness in your family… and much more. These 50 strategies provide you with hands-on tools for parenting children of any age.  The Companion Guide is a workbook of 50 lessons along with 50 audio tips to take you through The Christian Parenting Handbook step by step. Each lesson contains advice from Dr Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller in a 5 minute audio tip and then offers teaching, an assignment, a Bible verse, and a prayer to help you apply each idea or strategy in your family. The tips are available to you as MP3 downloads and access to them comes in the workbook.

Family Time Activities Book Bundle ($45 value)

Your kids will have fun learning about God's Word and how it applies to their lives. Science experiments, art activities, and games are all designed to reinforce spiritual truth. Each lesson is clear and simple, yet profound even for parents! You'll teach kids how exciting it is to learn about God and his ways. Your kids will love these books, but more importantly you'll build spiritual memories of Family Time in your home. Titles in this giveaway include:  Seeing Is Believing  Playing for Keeps  Running the Race Enter the Giveaway using the Rafflecopter below! This giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY to those 18 years of age or older. Void where prohibited by law. a Rafflecopter giveaway Join us for the Action Plan Facebook Party on Wednesday, May 20 at 9:00PM ET. There will be even more prizes and giveaways there and the authors of Action Plan will be present to answer your questions! The winner of this giveaway will be announced at the Facebook party!

RSVP here for the Party! 

Action Plan Facebook Party

Friday, May 01, 2015

Preparing for Animals on the Homestead

If you've been poking around here for any length of time by now you've figured out that we're city folk in the process of transitioning to country folk.  Nearly four years ago we packed up our (nowhere near) postage stamp existence just outside Detroit and relocated to 11 acres 20 minutes west of Port Huron.  We absolutely love it here, and there's not a thing we miss about city living.  That being said, we are inexperienced at just about everything living on our little homestead requires.  There's wood heat, well water, plants and animals we cannot identify, storing up food, gardening on a grander scale, and now we're venturing into raising farm animals.

About two weeks ago we brought home 20 baby chicks.  It's kind of comical to me, because we really have no clue hot to take care of them.  We're learning in the process.  I read, and we talk; to each other and to those we know with experience.  It's been two weeks, and all 20 are growing and starting to practice flying.  It's high time we got some temporary fencing up so we can let them out for a little while each day for some scratching, bug eating, and flying practice.  They've almost outgrown their two 22 gallon aquariums they are currently calling home.  The plan is to move them into their newer, high-class trailer we converted for them.  However, there is still some work that needs to be completed for our little chicken family can move in and get settled.  The nesting boxes need dividers and covers built to keep the little turd makers happy and their nesting boxes a respectable level of clean.  We need to install roosts and secure the doors.  That's about it aside from needing to purchase a truck load of pine shavings or straw or whatever it is we ultimately decide on for bedding in there.  Seems everyone has an opinion on that one, and we need to develop our own.  Only time and experience will establish that for us.

Some of the baby chicks at one week old.

The other big project currently under way is fencing.  We were fortunate in that there were already present two animal shelters when we purchased our property.  So, we have no building to do in preparation for the second addition to the homestead, four sheep; one to eat, three to keep.  Who knows how many we'll ultimately end up raising, but we are looking forward to the experience.  I choose to not think about certain aspects like babies being born (I watched too many episodes of Dr. Pohl!) and lambs going to slaughter.

The next animal that will be around is the goats that we plan to put to work clearing land.  For the time being we have made arrangements with a good friend to borrow a goat here and there.  After this summer we'll see if we'd like to add our own goats to the homestead.  I am thankful that we're holding off on this one.  I'm all for diving in head first, but adding three different animals that I've never raised, know nothing about, and have no real knowledge of was a bit of an intimidating idea to me.

It's funny to me that now that animals are slowly finding their way to our homestead people keep asking us if we'll be getting cows. for now.  Who knows what the future holds, but sheep and chickens are quite enough for now.

The kids working hard to rid the back bed of weeds
and all the hen and chick, and there were a lot!

Stage one.  Next, we plan to move all the flowers
to another bed and grow only veggies here.

For now, the kids and I are focusing our energies on prepping the three existing planting beds for vegetables.  We will plant some flowers, but our main focus is veggies.  When we moved here there was little in the way of landscaping, and there was no existing garden bed.  So, we are transforming the two original flower beds at the front and back of the house to grow veggies along with the flowers.  This is the technique I used in our tiny yard in the city.  It worked wonderfully.  We also transformed another area of the property the first year we were here by removing a lot of overgrowth and underbrush to create a large planting bed with some trees remaining.  It's been slow going getting stuff to grow there, but we're still plugging away at that.  Since the north side of our property is going to get all dug up in order to run new water lines to both the house and the barn, we'll have to wait another year to have access to the best planing area on our property.  In the meantime there is talk of building a raised bed along the whole south side of the house.  We'll see how that works out.

Spring is a time of growth and new life, and homestead life provides lots and lots of projects and chores.  What have you been up to in your neck of the woods?  We'd love to hear about it!


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