Join me in a year long journey reading through the Bible

  • Wow, this was a lot to read today. A lot to take in. Le t me see if I can recap this correctly. He begins by telling us about Gods defense of Jerusalem and...

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas Family Portrait

Every year we get a picture with Santa or a professional picture of our family. This year we just were not able to do that. So instead we took a family portrait here at home. I also figured it was time to change the picture on my blog. Raquel is a little under 2 there and she is already 3 1/2. I could not decide which picture to use. Do you like the one I used or should I change it to this one? LOL! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year Resolutions?

I have never been one for trying to make a huge list of New Year Resolutions. However, I do have lots of things I would like to accomplish during 2009 (most in regards to homeschooling and the Children’s Choir I teach at church) but I am not sure if those are really considered New Years Resolutions or not. See I would like to get back into exercise again. I always, around November, loose track of my exercising until after the holidays. Of course I have a long laundry list of school things I would like to complete by the end of summer 2009, choosing new music for the choir, etc. But these are all just normal everyday things I think of all year long. However, there are two things that I really want to start doing starting on January first?


The first one is to finally love my body! I have been skinny in my elementary years, fat most of my teenage/early 20's, skinny once again in late 20's and most of my 30's and then back to fat currently after I had my little girl. I have felt the feelings of bliss fitting into a size 10 and walking down the street getting whistles and the feeling of agony fitting into a size 20 and the looks of horror on people faces as they see me walking towards them. But now I am in my 40's and I finally just realized that I need to be happy with my body no matter what size it is. Now that does NOT mean I will stop exercising and eating right. It just means that I will not beat myself up everyday when I look in the mirror for not being what everyone else in this world wants me to be. So my resolution is to be content with my body. I did that once before and when I became that content I lost 120 pounds. Maybe that will work again, maybe not, but I know I will sure feel a lot better about myself no matter what the outcome and be a lot happier.


My second resolution is to finally read the bible from cover to cover. I have never read the Bible from beginning to end before. I have read most of the books of the Bible through book studies at least once, but this year I am going to read it in chronological order. I have a daily reader Bible that is in chronological order and my church is also starting a group that happens to be using the same book. So we will all blog about it each day. Now that’s a whole God thing in itself. I was planning on doing this and had set a plan for it, had the Bible in hand when a few days later I received an email from my church saying they were putting this exact same Bible study together. Must be a God telling me that this was the right thing for me to be doing this coming year!


I will also be reading each day’s entries to my children as part of their Bible study. We will still do their regular daily Bible study, but I will add this reading too. I am hoping that by reading the entries out loud I will understand and retain more of the information I am reading as well as my children will pick up on some of the information I will be reading to them. I want to get them out of their children’s Bible and into the real Word of God sooner then later. Yea, I have always read passages from the Bible, but when we read stories it has always been from the Children’s Bible. This will be a wonderful change in our Bible time together.



How will I make these resolutions stick? I have 3 steps that I think will help me to make these two things become a habit.


1. For each resolution, focus in on one goal at a time I can do to make the change. Example: if you want to loose weight focus in on eating 3 pieces of fruit each day. When this has been accomplished, focus on another small goal.


2. Put together monthly objectives. Example: For the Bible reading I have put a check list of chapters to read each day for the month of January.


3. Don't beat myself up if I mess up. Example: Keep positive thoughts like "I have done really good so far. Lets get back on track tomorrow".


Anyway, I would love to hear from all of you and what you thoughts are on New Years resolutions. Do you have them? What are they? Are you totally against them? Write me and let me know. You can either comment on the blog or send me a personal email. And if you are interested at all in doing the Bible Study with me, let me know. I would love to blog back and forth with you about what we learn and your take on things. Just an FYI, I do take the Bible to be literal not figurative. So keep that in mind as we discuss our thoughts on what we are about to learn.


In any case, I hope you all have a wonderfully safe and fun New Year. May God bless you and your family in 2009!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Kinderbach

I was really excited to review Kinderbach since I am a singer and teach the children’s choir at my church. First let me say that this program is geared towards the very young child who does not have any type of music training. My son, 6, did like the program, however he was quit a head of the program since I have been teaching him music for the past year or more. My daughter, 3, liked the graphics and the music and singing a lot. She found this program to be fun and pretty easy to follow.

Karri McGregor is the creator of Kinderbach online lessons with printable activity sheets that reinforce the activities they learn online as well as give them some extra practice after their lesson. She teaches music theory and note reading, and the children actually get to play the piano during a lesson. The curriculum can be done online or she has a DVD that you can purchase if you have dial up. Frisco and his friendly donkey, Dodi, teach basic musical concepts. Kinderbach is an extremely cute and helpful method of piano teaching for very young children.

The online Learning Center has about 300 sessions as well as the PDF files for the activity pages. This costs $14.95 per month. This is about 2 years of instruction for 2-7 year olds. They also have a free trial for two weeks that you might want to check out.

Score 8 out of 10

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Math Mammoth

Maria Miller is the author of the Math Mammoth, which is a series of math workbooks that are available in e-book format. Now first let me say that I am in no way a math genius nor do I know how to teach math well without some help from a good core curriculum. With that said, one of the things I liked about Math Mammoth is the fact that you can sign up for her informative emails. When you sign up you will receive 6 how to teach math articles, 280 bonus worksheets, and a few emails that explain her books.

I think if you, the teacher, know math well, and for the student who is really loves math, this is the curriculum for you. The worksheets have a basic explanation on “how to” do the problems and the answer key provides the answers to the problems with no solutions. Since I am NOT mathematically endowed, as my children get older and the math gets harder (algebra), I would have to spend time figuring out the “how to” get to the solution of the problems.

Right now this curriculum is a pretty good match for my son (6) especially when we will need a bit more practice with an individual concept. The modules are set up into learning topics (a new concept being introduced and then practiced) instead of progressive learning (a new concept introduced, then only given a few problems to go with the new concept then reviewing from previous lessons). Depending on you and your child this could be a great way of learning for you.

Her prices vary depending on whether you buy a single unit, entire color series, partial series or buy it all! For more EXACT pricing, please visit her website. Math Mammoth has 4 main workbook groups to choose from. Here is an example of her choices.

The Blue Series: grades1-5, somewhat self teaching, Each book concentrates on a few topics only, such as addition & subtraction, multiplication, clock, fractions, division, geometry, etc. They are especially good for remedial or supplemental work - whenever your student needs extra help on some particular topic. Price example: $3.00 per unit to $65.00 for the whole series

Light Blue Series: grade 1-4, somewhat self-teaching, The Light Blue series covers all topics for a given grade level. Each grade level includes two parts of a work text (A and B), tests, an answer key, and a worksheet maker. Price example: $14.00 to $81.00 (for entire series).

Golden Series: grades 3-8, contains problems only, these are workbooks or worksheet collections, which provide very variable problems in a convenient one-topic per sheet format. Golden Series books are great for class work or homework, for general review, reinforcement, or practice material. Price example: $50.00 for the entire series

Green Series: grade 3-8, contains problems only, Math Mammoth green series brings you workbooks by topic. These are pulled out of Golden Series collections so there are duplicate contents. This makes excellent practice material for teachers and parents who wish to have worksheets on certain topics. Price example: $50.00 for the entire series.

Score 7 1/2 out of 10

Friday, December 26, 2008

the 12 Days After Christmas

well, I am back. Even though I did not leave on a vacation I turned my computer off for a few days. Now that I am back on line, I thought I would start off with something I thought was very funny and soooo very true for the after holiday blues! Enjoy.

On the day after Christmas my true love gave to me...

12 bills for paying.

11 relatives left to visit.

10 really dirty looks for giving the kids stuff they shouldn't have.

9 orders to take the reindeer's down off the roof before New Years Eve.

8 other small jobs to do that will not take too long if I get at it now!

7 stops to exchange gifts.

6 gift cards to redeem at the mall.

5 hours on line trying to untangle the mess of holiday guarantees that did not arrive on time.

4 hours waiting in line for other stuff.

3 trips to the movie and I only like one.

2 hours to watch football.

AND 1 smile to say I Love You even with all these shortcomings.

Adapted from the CBS News

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

My Christmas Wish to You

Well, the time has finally come. It is Christmas Eve and all the work and shopping and wrapping and baking we have done is all about to be demolished. Sometimes I look back at Christmas and ask myself was it all worth it. The answer...Yes! For me, the month of December is all about learning more about Jesus with my kids. Participating in the advent daily with them and praying to God that the world will know Him, especially at this time of year if at no other time.

Also December 24th is a time for me to people watch. I love to go to the malls and watch people freak out on Christmas Eve. I will never forget the one year Anthony (my husband) and I (b4 kids) went to South Coast Plaza Mall in Santa Ana. Now first let me explain for those who do not live here in Orange County California. South Coast Plaza is an upper scale mall filled with Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Channel etc shops. Anyway, this one year we went to the mall about 5:00pm. Now the mall was closing at 6:00. We walked around and just watched the people. We actually saw several people running through the mall trying to get all their gifts purchased. The lines were very long and ridiculous. At 5:55pm as we were leaving this one shop was closing its doors as we actually saw a human being run under the closing door to try to get that last minute gift. Needless to say, Anthony and I had a laugh at this person expense. I still wonder what the security guards were thinking as they were watching the security monitors.

My point. Please do not let today turn into a scurry for you to finish all the things you still need to get done. Take today and read the gospel of Jesus Christ and His birth to your children. Take a moment to call a few friends and wish them a Blessed Christmas. And more then anything take a moment to wish our Savior a Happy Birthday and a mighty Thank You for coming here to us and giving us eternal life.

May you and your family have the most blessed Christmas possible. Merry Christmas from the Nitz's. Kristin, Anthony, Vincent and Raquel. and don;t forget...Spencer, Shalimar, Sunny, Fish 1 Fish 2 and Whitie!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Finding Joy

Joy. What is joy? Is it happiness, fun, kindness, love? I think it is so many things to so many people. Now the question is when you know what joy is to you, how do you find it? Especially during the bustle and hurriedness of the Holiday season. Notice I said holiday not Christmas. When we get caught up in the struggles of finding that parking spot, finding the right gift, having enough money, having enough time, eating too much food and regretting it etc., are we really celebrating Christmas?

Christmas is not about how many gifts we get or give or how much weight we do or do not put on by January 2nd. It is about our Lord and Savior's Birth. There was the ultimate and best gift of all that we were given so many years ago. The gift of everlasting life through our Lord Jesus Christ. And it all started with His birth.

There are many things that give me joy. Watching my kids (6 & 3) sing in the children's choir at Christmas time; being able to stay home and doing as God commanded me to homeschool my children; singing Christmas Carols; watching my kids eyes light up on Christmas morning, knowing that no matter how tight it gets financially, God is watching over us And listening to my children tell their unsaved friends about Jesus Christ. Those are but just a few.

What is the one thing that gives me the most joy not just during Christmas, but all year round? Knowing, without a doubt, that when I die I will be lifted up in the hands of our Lord and be with Him forever. That is where I find my ultimate joy.

My prayer is that everyone out there would be able to stop for just a moment during this season and find that same joy in Christmas. Merry Christmas to you all!

ABC & 123 Lapbook

We made the cutest tacktile ABC and 123 Lapbook. You just have to check out the pictures. Click here to see it. http://raquelshomeschooldays.blogspot.com/2008/12/abc-and-123-lapbook.html

Friday, December 19, 2008

Raquel The Cheerleading Captain

This has got to be the cutest thing. On 4th of July my family and I went to Tustin High School to watch the firework show as well as the entertainment. My daughter brought with her a set of pom poms to cheer on the fireworks. When the cheerleader saw her dancing around with them they took her on as her team captain. This is just the very tail end of it. i wish I had caught the whole thing on video, but at least a have a few seconds to remember this by.

Introducing Raquel the Team Captain of Tustin High School Cheerleadering Squad.
video

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Get Rid of the Gimmees

This is such a great post, 9 Steps to a Meaningful Christmas for You and Your Family, by Terri Johnson at Knowledge Quest.

Christmas can be a magical time for children. Yet this holiday can also bring out whininess, disappointment and an ungrateful "gimme, gimme" attitude in our normally sweet children. How can we, as caring parents, counter-act this contagious and disheartening attitude? Let's use the word CHRISTMAS as an acrostic to remember some key thoughts and actions that can help our children (and ourselves) gain a proper perspective and appreciation for this most holy of holidays.

C - The letter "C" stands for two words - candles and carols. Light your home with the glow of candlelight. The presence of candlelight evokes a holy essence in your home - fitting for the holy occasion that we celebrate. Fragrant candles are even better! And remember to sing the carols of Christmas - together as a family and to yourself as you go about your daily tasks. Play them also on your stereo. The words of the traditional carols will imprint themselves upon your heart and mind and upon the hearts of your children as well.

H - The letter "H" stands for homemade. Christmas does not have to empty your bank account. In fact, the most meaningful Christmas gifts are usually the ones that are the least expensive. Children naturally love to give the creations that they make. Help them to find gifts that they can participate in the making of - simple yet thoughtful gifts that show their love and care for the receiver. (This year, my children are making fleece scarves and pocket warmers for their cousins and other relatives.)

R - "R" stands for reading the Christmas story. Do not forget to spend time in the Word of God, reading the account of our Savior's birth. He is the reason we celebrate this time of giving. We follow in the footsteps of the wise men who gave their precious gifts to an infant King, the Savior of the world. And do not just read it aloud together once, but several times throughout the upcoming weeks. (Helpful hint - this relates to letters "M" and "A" below.)

I - "I" stands for invite. Open up your home and invite your friends and neighbors in for tea and cookies. Why keep all those yummy cookies to ourselves when we can share them with friends? Don't worry about having your home look like a picture out of a magazine. We don't need to be perfect. Our homes do not need to be perfect. But we do need to share the love of Christ with our friends and neighbors.

S - "S" is for scoot out the unused toys. Like it or not, your children will be receiving more stuff for Christmas. Prior to Christmas is a perfect time for sorting through unused and unwanted items and giving them away to charity. During this cold and dark season, your unwanted blankets, coats and shoes can be a very real blessing to those who have less than we do.

T - The letter "T" stands for toss. Toss out the toy catalogs! This one is serious. One of the major causes of the "gimme" attitude springs from the onslaught of toy catalogs that enter our homes every autumn. If you would like to keep a few to order from, then by all means do. But do not put them into the hands of your children just to browse, or even to give you ideas. Scanning through toy upon gadget upon toy will begin to spoil the giving heart that you have instilled in your child only to be replaced by envious thoughts.

M - This one relates to the letter "R" above. "M" stands for memorize. Take a few moments every morning to memorize scripture. Luke 2:1-20 or Isaiah 9:6-7 are both good choices for this time of year. If you are reading this prior to Thanksgiving, Psalm 100 is an excellent psalm to memorize and it is only 5 verses long. Very doable!

A - Celebrate Advent. If you have never celebrated advent, perhaps this is the year to begin. Basically, advent is a purposeful celebration during the four weeks that count down to Christmas, reminding us each day of the first coming of our Lord and His imminent second coming. Here is a handy downloadable book that you can have in time for the first Sunday of Advent, which, by the way, is November 27th. http://www.joyfulmomma.org/Advent.html.

S - "S" is for Santa. I'm not knocking the fun that can had with the idea of Santa, but don't be afraid to tell your kids the truth. There is a good book that explains where the story of "Santa" came from and it is called Santa, Are You For Real? We let our older children help in the Santa fun. The younger kids set out the plate of cookies and write Santa a nice note. The older children get to stay up later and eat the cookies and write a return note from "Santa". Another fun activity is to play Secret Santa during the month of December. Each member of the family draws the name of another member of the family. The name of the person you draw is the one to whom you become the "secret santa". This gives family members the opportunity to do kind things for each other. These things can include giving small gifts, writing notes of encouragement, or doing acts of service. But be sure not to get caught! Reveal yourself to your special someone on Christmas Eve.

Enjoy Christmas this year and if you feel yourself getting weighed down by whininess or ungrateful attitudes within your family, remember the acrostic CHRISTMAS and do one thing different to make a change within your home. May God bless you and keep you and give you peace.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Lets Make A Web Page eBook

Phyllis Wheeler is the author of Let's Make a Web Page! eBook which she wrote to help 8-12 year old children learn to create a web page of their own. Phyllis really knows how to portray the building of a web page in a very easy plan to follow. Younger children will need a little help from you (however she does have another eBook called Lets Make a Web Page Jr. for ages 7-9) while the older children won’t have any problems creating a web page on their own. She directs each step you take leading you by the hand in the creation of your very first web page.


Your first step is to interview a person, which she explains exactly how to do this for your web page. Once you have your interview picked and done…off to make a web page we go. Phyllis will then explain HTML coding, downloading the program for building your web page, how to include a picture, adding sound, animation and then of course how to post it.


The e-book is very well written. The one thing that was great for my son and me was the fact that she includes actual pictures of the programs we are using. We are visual learners, so this was just right for us. She also talks about the concerns of safety on the Internet and explains several ways for your child to search safely. She even mentions a free way to do this. She also has a Gallery of Greats for those students who have built a fantastic web page. Go over and check out some of the other kids work.

The regular price for Let’s Make a Web Page is $29.99 but currently she has a special for $19.99. If you are like me and want to teach your kids about the computer but have NO IDEA how to do this, consider purchasing Lets Make a Web Page by Phyllis Wheeler at Motherboard Books.

Score 10 out of 10

Puppetools

I think most parents realize how important play is in the development of our children. There is also research out there that says that play can also aid in learning. Jeffrey Peyton, the creator of Puppetools, feels this is very critical in helping educators and us parents in this area and he has a plethora of information to provide us with tools to add puppets into their daily school time as well as fun time. He has devoted many many hours to researching this and has developed a web site filled with tons of information and videos showing us how this can work for us in our schools as well as homeschools.


He has provided lots and lots of patterns for you to print out to make puppets, directions for his special hinge that he came up with (which is fantastic) and of course if you need some help he has the video examples of puppets other people have created and how they use them. You see when a child enjoys what they are learning and has fun; they retain a lot more of that information. If you have a child with learning disabilities, just think about how much more of their attention you will have.

Both my son (6) and daughter (3) really enjoyed this. I was not sure about the whole puppet issue, but it has turned out to be a fantastic addition to my homeschooling. They were very easy to make and both my kids made several. They re-act to the puppets questions quicker and want to talk to the puppet. I don’t use them every single day, but I do incorporate them into our learning about 2-3 times a week. They really look forward to it as a treat and ask for the puppets to come out and play.


They do have a subscription if you want to join and be able to read all the wealth of information and watch the abundance of videos. $99 a year for up to 30 users. This subscription would be best for a school or a PSP or maybe even a co-op. But for most of us we could use the $20 a year for just the one family.

Score 7 out of 10

Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Gift by: Jill Cooper

I just had to post this. I get an e-news from Living on a dime and this was in one of her lastest emails.....

She stood at the window watching the snow falling gently to the ground. Thanksgiving was over and soon it would be Christmas, her favorite time of the year. But her heart was heavy in spite of the snow and the feeling of Christmas that it should invoke. The Christmas spirit that she had felt all year long seemed to have been drained out of her with a couple of simple phone calls, each from a family member saying they didn't want to exchange gifts this year because they couldn't afford them.

As she turned from the window her eyes fell on her little tree standing in the corner. It's lights twinkled ever so brightly, casting a warm glow over the small pile of gaily wrapped gifts lying under it. A smile touched her lips as she thought of each person that the gifts were for. In her mind she could see the joy and excitement on their faces as they tore open the gifts and saw what was in them.

All year, she had carefully planned their gifts and had sacrificed much time and money in order to be able to buy them. She listened to each person's big desires and little ones and had drawn so close to them that she knew not only the things they verbally said that they wanted but also the things they hadn't voiced. She knew she had bought each one the perfect gift -- Not the most expensive gift, maybe, but the perfect one for them.

Yes, she had sacrificed a lot to buy the gifts, but because her love for each person was so great and because of the joy she felt in giving, she didn't see it as a sacrifice at all. So what if she had to turn the heat down a couple of degrees and wear a sweater in order to be able to have a little extra to buy that special something for someone she loved. Yes, it's nice to go out to eat at the end of a long hard day, but it's even nicer to watch the face of a child open a present and go into rapture over his new car or to see mom get tears in her eyes because you not only remembered her favorite perfume but also how much she had longed for it.

Of course there had been times when she had looked in the store window thinking how wonderful it would be to own a dress like that, but when it came to a choice between that and the fur trimmed coat her granddaughter wanted, the coat won hands down. To see that granddaughter running towards her and throwing her arms around her once more thanking her for the new coat would make her feel more beautiful then any new dress could.

Oh, she knew there were those out there who would scold her and say she should think of herself more and do more for herself, but she just shook her head in pity for them. They had no idea what they were missing out on with that attitude.

It was that very same attitude that had caused the heaviness on her heart right now. The phone calls she had received came from people who had spent all year spending money on the things they wanted: new cars, TVs, clothes and going out to eat and now they had nothing left to give to someone else.

"When did it happen?" she wondered, "-- this change in people's thinking." What happened to the times when even a small gift was greatly appreciated because you knew the person had sacrificed so much in order to buy or make it? What happened to the times when parents, spouses and children worked so hard in order to be able to give that special gift to someone they loved? When did it become acceptable to call on your expensive cell phone, from your favorite restaurant, to let others know that you can't buy them a gift this year because you can't afford it? Had she been mistaken all this time in her understanding of gift giving?

With a droop in her shoulders she turns and walks toward the little tree. How could it have lost its sparkle in a matter of moments? Why do the presents under it suddenly look less gaily wrapped? With tears gently rolling down her cheeks, she stoops to turn off the tree's lights. As she reaches for the plug, her hand accidentally brushes her Bible laying on the table. As she looks up through the blur, her eyes alight upon the passage on the open page. "For God so LOVED the world that he GAVE his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

A sweet peace starts warming her heart. She begins to smile and her tears are flowing even more freely now -- not from sadness, but from joy. The lights on the little tree become brighter and brighter, lighting up the whole room with it's sparkle. The gifts under it look more beautiful than those in the most expensive department stores for, in that moment, she realizes that she wasn't wrong to love, to sacrifice and to want to give gifts to the people she loves.

Hadn't God Himself so loved us that He gave, with the greatest of sacrifices, the most wonderful gift, His Son. She was so glad that God hadn't spent His time in heaven selfishly using all His resources for Himself. She was thankful that He hadn't sent her a message saying, "Sorry, but I can't afford to give you a gift this year."

In those few moments of heartbreak she had learned something more. She had learned what God must feel like to have the gift that He sacrificed so much to give be rejected and scorned. How hurtful to take away the blessing of giving from someone or to reject their gift.
Yes, it seemed to be popular to say, "We can't afford to exchange gifts this year", but it didn't matter. She would continue to love, sacrifice and give, always following her heavenly Father's example.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

What a great post by Jill Johnson at Knowledge Quest.



Christmas can be a magical time for children. Yet this holiday can also bring out whininess, disappointment and an ungrateful "gimme, gimme" attitude in our normally sweet children. How can we, as caring parents, counter-act this contagious and disheartening attitude? Let's use the word CHRISTMAS as an acrostic to remember some key thoughts and actions that can help our children (and ourselves) gain a proper perspective and appreciation for this most holy of holidays.


C - The letter "C" stands for two words - candles and carols. Light your home with the glow of candlelight. The presence of candlelight evokes a holy essence in your home - fitting for the holy occasion that we celebrate. Fragrant candles are even better! And remember to sing the carols of Christmas - together as a family and to yourself as you go about your daily tasks. Play them also on your stereo. The words of the traditional carols will imprint themselves upon your heart and mind and upon the hearts of your children as well.

H - The letter "H" stands for homemade. Christmas does not have to empty your bank account. In fact, the most meaningful Christmas gifts are usually the ones that are the least expensive. Children naturally love to give the creations that they make. Help them to find gifts that they can participate in the making of - simple yet thoughtful gifts that show their love and care for the receiver. (This year, my children are making fleece scarves and pocket warmers for their cousins and other relatives.)

R - "R" stands for reading the Christmas story. Do not forget to spend time in the Word of God, reading the account of our Savior's birth. He is the reason we celebrate this time of giving. We follow in the footsteps of the wise men who gave their precious gifts to an infant King, the Savior of the world. And do not just read it aloud together once, but several times throughout the upcoming weeks. (Helpful hint - this relates to letters "M" and "A" below.)

I - "I" stands for invite. Open up your home and invite your friends and neighbors in for tea and cookies. Why keep all those yummy cookies to ourselves when we can share them with friends? Don't worry about having your home look like a picture out of a magazine. We don't need to be perfect. Our homes do not need to be perfect. But we do need to share the love of Christ with our friends and neighbors.

S - "S" is for scoot out the unused toys. Like it or not, your children will be receiving more stuff for Christmas. Prior to Christmas is a perfect time for sorting through unused and unwanted items and giving them away to charity. During this cold and dark season, your unwanted blankets, coats and shoes can be a very real blessing to those who have less than we do.
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T - The letter "T" stands for toss. Toss out the toy catalogs! This one is serious. One of the major causes of the "gimme" attitude springs from the onslaught of toy catalogs that enter our homes every autumn. If you would like to keep a few to order from, then by all means do. But do not put them into the hands of your children just to browse, or even to give you ideas. Scanning through toy upon gadget upon toy will begin to spoil the giving heart that you have instilled in your child only to be replaced by envious thoughts.

M - This one relates to the letter "R" above. "M" stands for memorize. Take a few moments every morning to memorize scripture. Luke 2:1-20 or Isaiah 9:6-7 are both good choices for this time of year. If you are reading this prior to Thanksgiving, Psalm 100 is an excellent psalm to memorize and it is only 5 verses long. Very doable!

A - Celebrate Advent. If you have never celebrated advent, perhaps this is the year to begin. Basically, advent is a purposeful celebration during the four weeks that count down to Christmas, reminding us each day of the first coming of our Lord and His imminent second coming. Here is a handy downloadable book that you can have in time for the first Sunday of Advent, which, by the way, is November 27th. http://www.joyfulmomma.org/Advent.html.

S - "S" is for Santa. I'm not knocking the fun that can had with the idea of Santa, but don't be afraid to tell your kids the truth. There is a good book that explains where the story of "Santa" came from and it is called Santa, Are You For Real? We let our older children help in the Santa fun. The younger kids set out the plate of cookies and write Santa a nice note. The older children get to stay up later and eat the cookies and write a return note from "Santa". Another fun activity is to play Secret Santa during the month of December. Each member of the family draws the name of another member of the family. The name of the person you draw is the one to whom you become the "secret santa". This gives family members the opportunity to do kind things for each other. These things can include giving small gifts, writing notes of encouragement, or doing acts of service. But be sure not to get caught! Reveal yourself to your special someone on Christmas Eve.

Enjoy Christmas this year and if you feel yourself getting weighed down by whininess or ungrateful attitudes within your family, remember the acrostic CHRISTMAS and do one thing different to make a change within your home. May God bless you and keep you and give you peace.

Raising our Leaders

If you read my blog, then you have kids. If you have kids then I know you want to raise your kids to the best they can be. I know my goal is to raise up our next generation of leaders to make our world better then what it is now. If that is one of your goals with your children, then take a few minutes and check out this video. Some fantastic information. Then if you find you want more information check out this web site and this web site too.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Old Schoolhouse December Module

Oh what joy!!! I just received the December module from the Old School House and the subject is “Lets be Scientists”. How fun.

My son loves science and I need all the help I can get to come up with fun things to do. This semester we are working on the human body and lo and behold, there is information on the human body with all sorts of resources for me to get extended information from the net. Plus they have a few amazing body experiments.

The December Module also has recipes for making slime, snow, invisible ink etc. I can’t wait to make everything in this module. I have to admit I have never made any of the cooking (food) recipes in any of the modules, but the Shrimp Casserole looks yummy. I think that will be dinner this weekend! Oh and did I mention the weather, the stars, biology and chemistry. All this for only $7.95. Not a bad deal for a great little reference e-book filled with information to answer those many questions our children have or to start you off on a unit study. Click on over to The Old Schoolhouse and take a look at a sample for yourself.

And just in case you are missing the Schoolhouse Planner and want the December Module to go along with it you can pick that up for 46.95. And I am sure you have all the other modules, but just in case you can pick up July through December for $41. 95.

Score 8 1/2 out of 10

Alphabet Alley

You have to check out these absolutely cute and perfect for Christmas games I got to review. Now, first I have to be honest about one thing. When I got these to review, I thought that this was going to be about the same quality as I can get in the $.99 store. Boy was I wrong! The Two by Two Matching Game is so sturdy! My daughter (3) is a destructive force when it comes to things like tiles for games. I cannot tell you how many cards and tiles have been ripped in our household. But this one is perfect for her. She had an easy time of picking them up and she loved the cute little Noah’s ark pictures on the tiles. And for $10.99, that’s not bad for a great learning game, and don’t forget a great Christmas gift.

We also received the Noah’s Ark Go Fish . I have to admit that it took a bit for my daughter to grasp the concept of Go fish. We have never played it with her, but with the help of my son (6) she caught on quickly and really enjoyed the game. The cards are much larger then your normal playing cards, thicker and sturdier. And guess what? She did not bend them! Yea! I am buying a set for my nephew for Christmas who is the same age as my daughter. I know he will love them too. My goodness, for $5.99 who can go wrong?!

You know what I really like? Alphabet Alley is a faith-based company that produces high quality toys for the early childhood learner. Yes that’s right, they are faith based. For my family that is always a huge plus! Go to Alphabet Alley. They have soooo many other cute gifts for the kids on your Christmas list this year and all with in a reasonable budget!

Score 10 out of 10

Monday, December 8, 2008

Core Learning Art Studio

Core Learning publishes teaching software for math, language arts, health, and art, all for elementary to the Jr. High school grades.

Crayola Art Studio is the simplest and most complete computer based art program I have ever seen for children. Most of the drawing functions and their tools are in an easy to find toolbar that have symbols not words. This is so easy that even the real young user like my daughter (3) can find what she wants. Crayola Art Studio’s drawing tools are very cool. If you use the crayons, they draw like a crayon, If you use watercolor, they bleed just like a true watercolor would etc.

Ok now I have to tell you what is the absolute best thing I like about this program. There are 2 programs. One for the older kids with lots and lots of drawing tools and one for the younger kids that is a little more simplified. My daughter (3) spent 30 minutes playing around with the stickers and shapes. I had to pull the computer away from her so my son could get a try. My son, who is an artist, absolutely LOVED this program. He has created some beautiful drawings for us. The best part, they are saved on the computer instead of printing every little dot that’s drawn.
I HIGHLY recommend the Crayola Art Studio for your child. This would make an excellent Christmas gift for anyone (adults too) who loves to draw. Oh and did I mention…NO MESSY paints, markers, stickers on the furniture etc. And then you do not need to worry about storing all the real life pens, paints, paper etc and worry about the mess and the caps being off the pens and the paints spilling and so on and son on. Go for it. It’s only $24.95. That’s not bad for a whole art studio. It would cost you 4 or 5 times that to buy all the stuff for your craft collection.

Score 10 out of 10

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Time4Learning

Well, this review was a little tough for me. Why you ask? Because I already have a preset idea about computer based schools. I am not extremely happy with a child spending their school day on the computer. I also prefer to be a little more hands on with assigning my children’s schoolwork and choice of curriculum. And I like to be able to physically see the work sheets or writing assignments and know for sure that they are not playing around but are really doing the work I have set for them.
I prefer to have a Christian based curriculum. Yes, I still teach my children about secular things in life like evolution etc, but the basis of their curriculum is God honoring. Time4Learning does have some evolution in their science subjects and some culturally and age related humor that may not be appealing or acceptable to some parents such as nose picking, etc. So now with that bias said, and a hope of being able to put it aside for a month or so, I set forth to do the best review I possibly could.

Children learn by having fun. Every homeschooler and teacher knows this. That is what Time4Learning strives for. While they are on the computer I really think they do not realize that they are in the midst of school time. They are just playing games and learning at the same time. I think this would really help a child with learning disabilities greatly!

Time4Learning is for preschool all the way to 8th grade. They offer language arts and language arts extensions, math, some science, and some social studies. The lessons are BEAUTIFULLY animated and very interactive and are up to government standards. If you have a child who loves computers or computer games, they might really enjoy this program very much. I know my son had a great time with it and we used it for 2 weeks in place of our regular core curriculum. Time4Learning could be used as a core curriculum or as a supplement, which is how we are using it now.

My son, 6, loved this program and had fun with it, however I did find that there were times he got stuck because he was off in lala land, day dreaming and did not listen to the instructions. Then he would sit there for 15 minutes just staring off into space until I would ask if he was stuck. For my son, this kind of schooling would be more supplemental then it would be a core curriculum.

My daughter, 3, had a rough time with Time4learning at first. The mouse action of click/hold/drag was a little much for her to comprehend at first. However, when I sat with her and did some of the mouse movements for her until she learned them, she sure enjoyed Time4Learning. And now she has a much better grasp of how to use the mouse with the click/hold/drag movement.

Overall, I was quite surprised at how much I actually liked the program and how user friendly it is. But, that old bias of having to be in control of the assignments and curriculum choice still holds true in my heart. We will for sure use Time4Learning, but as a supplemental game time for my son only.

Depending on your budget the cost of Time4Learning may be an advantage or a disadvantage. Time4learning is $19.95 per month, and each additional child is $14.95. If you consider the cost of some of the other on line schools or even a tutor it is practical. I recommend Time 4 Learning to those who are not control freaks like me and who don’t mind their children being on the computer for extended amounts of time. Hey at the least go try it out for a complementary lesson. It cannot hurt and you might find your kid loves it!

Score 8 out of 10