Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That we had a lovely time, as usual, on our family reunion trip this last week. We spent lots of time on the river, swimming in the pool, playing games, and just enjoying each other.

What I'm reading: My aunt let me borrow a book she recommended titled Redeeming Love by Francis Rivers. A tough but good read based on the book of Hosea.

What I'm listening to: Right this moment? John Cougar Mellencamp is playing on Spotify.

What's cooking: This week I am making tacos, chicken pasta salad, and mozzarella pesto sandwiches. Definitely summer food.

What I'm buying: In my town there is a working farm where they have a vegetable stand out in front. The use the honor system, and have price signs and a glass jar for the money. And they have the most incredible garden tomatoes, which I am planning to buy later this week.

What I'm thankful for: I am very thankful for the safe travels we had this last week. God is a merciful God and kept us from harm.

What I'm creating: Well, I need to get out and do some work in the garden. I have pretty much given up on the beans so they need to come out, and the eggplants never did anything either. They are taking up precious garden space and since I want to plant some things for the fall, I need to get them out. I did harvest 5 tomatoes yesterday....

What we did this last weekend: We were tubing on the river on Saturday, and a few of us tried wakeboarding. That night was our last evening of the reunion and we played a fun reunion trivia game my dad created, and then played Catch Phrase and ate popcorn until almost midnight. Fun times.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to hanging out with some church friends later this week. I am also looking forward to getting some school planning done as well.

A picture to share:

~Family Reunion 2013. We were missing a few people this year, but we all had a great time.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That being a Christian is hard work. Every day, I am reminded of my own sin and failings. But His grace is bigger and I know, that through my trials, He is sanctifying me and drawing me closer to Himself.

What I'm reading: My Sweetie recently read Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand and really liked it. I saw it last week at our library so I picked it up and hope to start it later today.

What I'm listening to: Laundry going, children chattering, and toys being played with behind me.

What we're learning: Well last week the older kids were madly cramming for Avian Bowl. They did compete at State Fair and Mr. Lego's team took first place in seniors, and Bookworm's team took first place in juniors. Now we finally have a bit of a 4H break....until September.

What's cooking: This week I am making Reuben Sandwiches and Clam Chowder. Yes I know it is hot out, but the Clam Chowder was a request from a sweet daughter.

What I'm thankful for: Every time I walk through the living room, I see the big sign my kids made for my birthday last week. I am so thankful for them and the love they show me; and feel sometimes a twinge of sadness since this stage in my life won't last forever.

What I'm praying: I am praying for those who I know that are struggling in their marriages. That they would cling to Christ, His perfect will, and not give up hope.

What I'm planning: Well I am thinking about planting some things for the Fall/Winter...and the time to do that is in August. Now to figure out what would do well in my climate....

What we did this last weekend: We did some things around the house and ran errands on Saturday. Then Sunday we went to church and then had some friends over for swimming, talking, and card games.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to seeing some extended family later this week; I am also looking forward to making Banana Bread this afternoon with the little girls.

A picture to share:

~At one point yesterday, we had 14 people around our table playing Up The River.....

Friday, July 19, 2013

A Review: Children's Catechism Book

Training children.

Such an enormous responsibility.

And something that is very necessary, yet can be so hard to know how to implement. Now I am not so much talking about parenting methods here, but the things you would use to teach your children about Christianity.

The basics of our faith; about the commandments, prayer, or what the sacraments are.

To catechize.

What is does it mean to catechize our children?

cat·e·chize v.  1. to instruct orally by means of questions and answers, especially in Christian doctrine.

I think you might not realize how much you actually do catechize your children, without even knowing it. During your Bible times, you might ask them who created the earth, or what sin is.

Asking questions, we all know, is an excellent way to teach our children truths. And there is a wonderful resource out there that has all these wonderful, simple, questions-and-answer entries to help you teach your children.

It is called the Catechism for Young Children, and was originally published in 1840 by Joseph P. Engels. Meant to be used as an introduction to the doctrines of faith, it is based on the Westminster Shorter Catechism.

Mary Lee Sonke, who operates and owns The Purple Carrot on Etsy, gave me a beautifully, handmade copy of the Catechism.

This book, which measures 4.25 by 5 1/2 inches, is a sturdy made, hand stitched, hardback book. There are many different varieties of covers you can choose from: Oriental Red, Fleur d'Lis, a retro striped one, or even denim. The inside cover has a complementing pattern, while the stitched spine is made of sturdy string that on some of the books contains beautiful beads. Each book conveniently has a bookmark, and opens easily. I also appreciated that the book, when I put it on the table, stayed open to the page I had turned to.

Inside these lovely pages are the 145 question and answers. They cover God the Creator, the fall of man and sin, Christ and redemption, the Ten Commandments, the Sacraments, and the Lord's Prayer. Each double sided page has both the question and the answer, in a pleasant font, with the answer in bold print. The age range for these questions is from early preschool age through elementary age, but even older children who have not had any catechizing could benefit from these questions.

Years before we had gone through the children's catechism with the older two, so this was perfect timing for our family to use this with the younger two. We would spend just a few minutes a day, going over the question and answers. I like to have incentives, so each time they were able to memorize a question and answer they would get a sticker. I chose to review all the questions weekly; this ensured that they truly were memorizing the information.

These beautifully handmade books are sold at The Purple Carrot for $20 and would be the perfect gift for a new baby, the mom of a young toddler, or someone who is looking for solid doctrine to train their children in. It is precious enough to become a family heirloom; to be handed down to the next generation of cherished learners.

You can also follow The Purple Carrot on Facebook, and definitely take a look at the other fun and creative things that Mary Lee has made. She has whimsical handmade backpacks, crayon roll-ups, and darling clothes hanger tags.

But above all, remember the importance of disciplining your children. They are so impressionable at an early age. Don't neglect their training and the imperative responsibility you have been given.

*I received a free copy of this product in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Homeschool Product Review: 25 Truths

As homeschooling parents we tend to focus on the academic stuff. The math, history lessons, science experiments, and proper grammar. Don't get me wrong, these things are very important, but sometimes we get so focused on those topics that we forget that character training is an important part of education as well. And that is where 25 Truths from Ed Douglas Publications comes in as a very handy resource.

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What It Is:

To put it simply the book 25 Truths, written by Ed Douglas, is a motivational guide. And Mr. Douglas is someone who has lived a successful life and wants to share his experiences and advice with others. He has spent over 30 years in the banking industry as President and CEO, has also been appointed by different governors to statewide positions, and is a tennis coach and marathon runner.

Years ago, he wrote down a list of concepts or truths, that have influenced him and given him motivation. He planned to share them with his children and grandchildren, and ended up publishing them in this book.

Some of the truths listed are

  • Be Slow to Judge
  • See the Glass as Half Full
  • Practice - It Makes Perfect
  • Give and it will Come Back to You
  • Spend Time with your Family
  • Play to Win

Each truth is its own chapter and is only 2-4 pages long. In these paragraphs Mr. Douglas pulls stories from his own youth and life experiences, some good examples and some bad, to show how important that truth is. There is a summary sentence after the reading passage, and there is also a Workshop section with questions for discussion and thought.

You can purchase 25 Truths from the website for $12.50. The paperback book is 150 pages in length and is only 5x7 inches, which makes it easy to bring along on car rides or to the kitchen table for evening family time.

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What I Thought:

I used this as part of our Together School Time and would read the reading section aloud to all the kids. At times we would stop to reminisce about how we had struggled with that particular topic, or I would add more information to clarify. Then we would discuss the Workshop Questions. This turned out to be the highlight of our Together School. The discussions that came about from the questions were excellent for my kids, and gave me the opportunity to encourage and edify them without feeling like I was giving them a lecture.

For example one of the Truths is Protect Your Reputation. We had a wonderful discussion about how others see us, how sin can really affect our relationship with others, and what steps we can take to protect our trustworthiness.

The complete title of the book is Life Principles of the Happiest and Most Successful Among Us: 25 Truths. I must admit that when I first received it I thought I was going to have trouble with some of what he was saying. I strive to find my hope and joy in Christ, and know that the trials and sanctification that come along with being a Christian can make my life miserable indeed, so seeing that title made my heart rate go up a teeny bit.

But then I started reading the preface and skimming the book. Mr. Douglas makes it clear that he is not replacing the Ten Commandments or any teaching of Scripture, but rather this book is meant to give concrete tools and ideas that encourage and motivate us. There is references to Scripture and Bible quotes sprinkled throughout, but not overwhelmingly. In fact, seeing more Scripture quotes and a Biblical focus is something I would have liked to see. For example, he mentions a variety of things that make you truly happy and having a strong spiritual relationship with God is one of many things listed and all of the things are given equal importance. But overall, this book gave our family many wonderful opportunities for profitable discussion.

The age group that this book is appropriate for is 6th grade and up. There are some references that you might need to proofread before reading with younger children, such as Tiger Wood's infidelity, viewing sex and violence on television, alcoholism, and mentioning sitcoms generally. But I was easily able to re-word the sentences when my youngest daughter was listening in.

I am excited to continue using this in our schooling. It is a helpful tool to use in discussing ways to improve character and an excellent way to engage our precious children.

Other members of The Crew read this book and reviewed it; click below to see what they thought.


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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

To My Daughter....8 Years Ago Today

8 years ago yesterday, I went over to the doctors office for a non-stress test. I had been going in twice a week to do this; basically I would just sit there and they would strap those monitor things on my tummy and we would listen to your heart beat for a while and see if I was contracting.

You were not due for another 6 weeks, but we knew you were going to be early.

8 years ago yesterday, I was having pretty regular contractions. So they sent me home to get ready to go to the hospital.

All that night in my hospital bed, I was contracting. They were kind of trying to stop it, but we all knew that you were big enough to do well on the outside. And there was concern that my uterus could rupture, so they didn't do anything drastic.

8 years ago today, at 7:30 in the morning, they decided to do a C-Section. Because of your siblings births and all the complications I had had, they decided to have me deliver in the main operating room and to make me go completely asleep.

I remember trying to give one of the nurses my small camera to take some pictures, but they wouldn't do it.

8 years ago today I woke up, and didn't know yet if you were a boy or a girl. Daddy was staying with you in the NICU, so it was a nurse who told me that my baby girl was doing fine.

You were my biggest baby, and weighed 4 pounds 8 ounces.

I was so happy that you were healthy! You did have a little trouble sucking and breathing at the same time, so that is why you had that little tube going up your nose.

I went home a few days later, but you stayed in the NICU another 10 days because you had some jaundice and needed help eating.

Our first family-of-six photo.

We came to visit you every day; I would work on nursing you, and Daddy and I would change your diaper. We had to take turns going in to visit you; your brother was the only one old enough to come in the NICU.

On July 28th, you were ready to leave the hospital.

And we were so ready for you to be home.

8 years goes so stinkin' fast, little one.

And you'll forever be my little one, no matter how big you get.

Happy Birthday, Nusty.
May you continue to grow in grace and humility, compassion and wisdom, ever continuing to remember Christ and His saving work.

Monday Musings (On a Tuesday, because life happens)

What I'm thinking: That yesterday was busier than I thought it would be. We had lots of laundry from being at State Fair, errands to run, record books that were due, more errands to run, the house to clean, and tons of those little things to do that fill the day. So Monday Musings is happening on a Tuesday this week.

What I'm listening to: Birds chirping outside. I've got the windows open to let in the it is only supposed to hit 88 degrees, but later this week we are back to a high of 104.

What we're learning: Well last week we learned a lot about losing graciously, and that we still have a ton of things we could learn about rabbits.

What's cooking: This week I am planning to make a Tostadas, Marinara Sauce in the crock pot, and one night (tonight, actually) I'm making a birthday dinner for my now 8 year old baby.

What I'm buying: This is my big errand week and today I still need to hit Wal Mart and a couple other places.

What I'm thankful for: I know that God's plan is perfect, even when I think that life is down in the dumps. And for that reason I am thankful for His sovereignty. He is continually sanctifying us, and we can find peace in His perfect will.

What I'm praying: Thankful prayers that we were kept safe with all the driving back and forth last week, and prayers for traveling mercies in the coming weeks.

What we did this last weekend: We were at State Fair, of course. We had competed earlier in the week, but our friend's were competing with their sheep and goats on Friday and Saturday. We also spend a whole day walking around to see the exhibits. Sunday we were at church, and then off to a church picnic. The rabbits didn't release until 10 pm; since our State Fair is actually held in my county I have nothing to complain about, but both the people behind and in front of me in line were not going to get home until 2 or 3am.

What I'm looking forward to: Well we have a birthday to celebrate today, then later this week the older two kids are competing in Avian Bowl at the State Fair. Next weekend looks like a quiet one.

A picture to share:

~The logging ride at State Fair with some happy girlies on it....

Friday, July 12, 2013

A Crew Review: Dig-It Games Mayan Mysteries

We officially finished our school year last week. Some of my kiddos though, had finished a few of their subjects early, so when this fun computer mystery game came up for review last month, I asked to try it out.

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What It Is:

Dig-It Games is an online game, that combines history, archaeology, and geography in an enjoyable and fun format. The author, Suzi Wilczynski, is herself an archaeologist, and has worked at digs in Greece and Israel. She created the game to give children a fun and interactive way to learn more about archaeology and ancient civilizations.

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In Mayan Mystery Online Game, as part of a team, your child will try to solve the mystery of a lost Mayan city. To find clues, they will excavate artifacts, complete mapping activities, and do puzzles. In between the games are short fun facts paragraphs with appropriate questions in a quiz-type format. Through all the games and activities they are earning points and uncovering more artifacts. The home page of the game shows their progress and what level they are on.

What You Get:

For $21.99, you will get access to a single user account. But that doesn't mean that more than one child can't play. After one child has finished the game, you can begin again with another child. You can play a demo of the game here, which gives you a good idea about some of the activities and games in the program.

This game is meant for children ages 11 and up; there are references to human sacrifices and Mayan warfare, but nothing that is offensive. You can also purchase a single user access for an iPad App for $9.99.

How We Used This and What We Thought:

Bookworm had finished a few of her subjects early this year, so I gave the game to her to complete. She enjoyed playing the games; especially the mapwork and excavating games. In one of the games, she has to use clues to figure out which artifact was being described.


She really enjoyed this game below, where you had to chose a tool to excavate an artifact. She had to be careful, or else the tool might be too rough and could damage the object.

These paragraphs had lots of good information in them; I appreciated that she could click on one of the underlined words and see a definition of the word and more information pertaining to the concept or object.

She spent about a half hour a day on this and finished it in a couple of weeks. The ending was a bit of a disappointment; the game doesn't end and you don't actually find the lost city, but instead you are invited to purchase the second half, Mayan Mysteries 2, which is soon to be released.

I did have Mr. Lego start working on the game after Bookworm finished. He got about halfway through and was enjoying it for the most part; he found the quizzes and fact paragraphs a bit tedious.

I would recommend this as a fun way to keep up your schooling through the summer, or to add to your ancient study of history. Bookwork did feel that she learned more about the Mayan culture and present day archaeology and eagerly got on each day to play.

There were other members of the Crew that reviewed the online version and the iPad App; check out what they thought by clicking below.


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Monday, July 8, 2013

Monday Musings

What I'm thinking: That I can't believe State Fair is upon us once again. This Wednesday through Sunday, we'll be competing in rabbits and checking out all the fun exhibits at Cal Expo.

What we're learning: We are really pushing the rabbit knowledge questions and avian bowl information; the following week the two older kids are competing in both the Orange County and State Fair Avian Bowls. Did you know you are not supposed to call eggs hard-boiled, but hard-cooked?

What's cooking: This week we are going easy with food, so one night I'm making a chicken stir fry, another grilled cheese sandwiches, and I'm bringing in snacky-stuff for the fair.

What I'm thankful for: I am thankful that the little heat wave we had last week is over, and that the temps at the fair this week will be in the mid 90's. Very tolerable, if you ask me.

What I'm creating: I am writing a review about a fun online history/archaeology game. Watch for it very soon....

What I'm praying: That I would remember to encourage and lift up my kids. So many times I focus on the sinful things they are doing and forget to reassure them that God is still sanctifying and working His perfect plan through them.

What I'm planning: Well, as a family we are talking about some big changes in 4H next year. So we're looking into different options, weighing the cost and time, and seeing what direction is the best way to go.

What we did this last weekend: We spent the fourth at home, playing games with the kids and swimming. That night we went to our neighborhood's block party for fireworks. Then the next day we went up to our friends to spend the night. We had fun fellowshipping with swimming, volleyball, and good food. Sunday was church and our monthly fellowship meal.

What I'm looking forward to: I am looking forward to State Fair; it is more laid back and not as crazy as county fair, and the exhibits are usually pretty cool.

Pictures to share:

~Fireworks in the street

~Night swimming at our friend's house

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Summer Garden

 Pretty much every morning this last week I have gone out to water.

Which reminded me that I wanted to take garden photos, and then when I was editing them, I remembered that I had never written a post about our garden this year.

This year was special because I decided to do lots of our plants from seed.

Even though we only got a whopping 5 tomatoes from our 6 plants last year, I wanted to torture myself further by challenging myself to start from scratch.

Nothing special, not even heirloom seeds.

Last year I spent $9 on some beautiful looking heirloom tomatoes, which in the end accounted for 2/5ths of my harvested crop. (2 tomatoes.)

I was on the ball (which is am important step when planting by seed), and got these into my little planters in mid-February.

I planted both Roma and Beefsteak; 2 or 3 seeds in each pod, with 21 pods per variety.

I also started basil and eggplant from seed.

About 10 days later this started happening:

My little babies.

After a couple of weeks they started leaning towards the window, so I would rotate the container every few days so they wouldn't get weird stems.

For the last couple weeks of March I took them out during the day so they could start can see how leggy they got, having to reach for the light.

Finally the first week of April I transplanted them into larger containers.

And then about three weeks later I transplanted four of the best of them into their final home, 2 Earth Boxes. The girls felt sorry for the ones that I didn't choose, so they took some of them and planted them around the yard.

 And then May hit and we were in full county fair/goats/rabbit/4H mode. I remembered to water, but didn't step out onto the deck with my camera, until this week.

My babies have certainly grown.

That is 4 tomato plants in two earth boxes, and they are loving it.

And what's more important, I am now seeing these lovelies.

Lots of lovelies.

Earth Boxes rock.

And the rest of the garden?

My lettuce, which has shocked me by surviving the heat we have been having, is still going strong from the spring.

(If you look closely, you can see a small tomato plant that was rescued by a merciful little girl.)

The cucumbers...

Which are pumping out 1-2 a week for us.

That long one was hiding from me, which explains why he was allowed to grow so big.

In the mornings the bees love visiting the cucumbers and I love watching them do their work.

The pole beans...which only give enough to pick 2-3 a day, which is never enough to do anything with but to eat them off the vine.

There is only one reason why I have these guys: they are so easy to grow from seed and grow so quickly, that if I am having a bad garden year, I can at least say that I can grow beans.

The Japanese cucumbers, which are between my beans, are growing slowly and steadily.

No cuks yet, but I am a patient person.


The watermelon; which I also started from seed.

Another lesson in patience.

But the one plant that is really testing my perseverance is the eggplant.

 I transplanted that thing 2 months ago, and it still looks exactly the same. No new leaves or nothing.


The zucchini, which seems to love this spot in the yard.

I am getting about 1 zucchini a week and am hoping that increases a bit.

 On this side of the yard is the herb garden.

As you can see, the oregano and rosemary are taking over.
And behind the herbs are.....

My strawberries.

These are from last year and are giving us a handful a week, which is the most I have ever gotten.

My comfrey.

I love this plant and all of the wonderful things it can do for injuries, rashes and broken bones.
There is color in our backyard was well; in the spring I let the girls plant cheap bulbs and they have been pleased with what came up.

And of course my roses....

Garden work is never finished....I am planning to have Mr. Lego pull these rocks out, and plant more lettuce in the fall.

So all in all, I think I am having a pretty successful garden year.

How is your garden growing?