Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's that time again- 90 day Bible challenge

Amy at Mom's Toolbox is hosting another round of the 90 day Bible challenge.  I'm so glad to be in sync with her schedule again and looking forward to reading with lots of other people.  I'm starting tomorrow, January 1st, but other blogs are hosting the 90 day Bible challenge and starting on different dates this Spring.  If you want to start Jan 1, then please read along with me.  I'll post weekly about the challenge and try to encourage you in your reading.  I'll also be linking to Amy at Mom's Toolbox who is an inspiration and natural born encourager.  If you want to do the 90 day Bible challenge, but are not ready to start tomorrow, please check out the other host blogs listed at Mom's Toolbox to find a start date that better matches your schedule.  I think some are even starting in February.

I've decided to do my readings in the ESV translation again.  I've completed the 90 day challenge with NIV once, NKJ once, NLT twice, and this will be my second time through with the ESV.  I bought a new ESV Bible since last time I read with the ESV I used my ipad.  I wanted a compact Bible that could easily fit in my car console or purse.  What do you think?  (Plus nothing says I'm in it for the long haul like spending $24 on a new Bible!)

I taped my handy-dandy 90 day reading schedule to the front.

For those of you who read the Bible through in a year or read the Bible one book at a time depending on what you're interested in, your pastor is preaching on, or whatever...  you might be wondering what's so great about the 90 day Bible challenge.

Why read the Bible in 90 days?

1.  Context and interconnections between the Old and New Testaments and even individual books of the Bible.  Before reading the Bible in 90 days, I had studied books of the Bible in isolation and sometimes even just verses in isolation.  The Bible takes on a life of its own when you read it in a shorter period of time.  I've had so much fun making connections between Jeremiah and Josiah, the books of Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and Daniel, and of course Hebrews and Leviticus.  You can't really understand one part of the Bible in isolation from the rest of it.  The books were written by many men over more than one thousand years, but it's all God's Word and His redemptive plan.  Reading the NT in 2 weeks after spending 2 and a half months in the OT makes so much more sense than it ever did before.

2.  It's great accountability to be in God's Word EVERY DAY!  We all know we're supposed to have a daily quiet time, but I've been tempted in the past to give it short shrift.  I am involved in two Bible studies, after all, and both of them recommend stretching their study out five days of the week.  But, I've never done that.  I always sit down in one sitting and do my lesson.  I know, I'm a rebel.  Unfortunately this means that I can be in two Bible studies and only really studying the Bible two days a week.  Yes, I do stuff with my kids and Sunday school, but that's not the same as individual time in the Word.  The 90 day Bible challenge keeps me in God's Word.  Every. Single. Day.  I love it!  It really does make a difference in my spiritual life, too.  God works in us through His Word.  Why short-change that?

Sold, but don't think you have time?  Some hints for completing the 90 day Bible challenge on a tight schedule:

1.  Make the most of every minute.  Often I find myself waiting on kids to get out of swimming, art, etc.  I always have a Bible in my car and read while waiting.  I used to listen to talk radio.  You know what?  Not only do I have more time for reading, but I'm lots happier with fewer worries!  And one of my favorite places to read is in the bathtub- my last sanctuary. 

2.  Even if you have a bad day and think there's no way you can complete your reading, just read for however long you have.  I'm so all or nothing and struggle with this, but you have to get over this mindset to do the 90 day Bible challenge.  There will be days that are unpredictable and leave you exhausted at 11 pm not having read your Bible.  Don't let them defeat you, just read for 10 or 15 minutes and that way at least you won't get a whole day behind.

3.  Invest in an audio Bible for those emergency situations like out of town swim meets.  I'm not a good listener while driving around town, but when I'm on the highway and the kids are plugged in to their movie, I'm pretty good at listening to the Bible.  It's not ideal and my goal is always to read every word myself, but sometimes you just can't get it done and I think it's better to listen for two days then get right back on track with reading than to get two days behind.  I keep my NLT Bible on CD in the car for these emergencies.

4.  If you love to read, don't let yourself read anything else until you've finished with your Bible reading for the day.  This is a powerful incentive for me!  If I leave it until the end of the day, I won't be reading anything else that day.  It's amazing what you can accomplish when you apply this logic.  What if nobody ever watched television, read blogs, or read anything else until after reading their Bible for an hour?  We'd probably all get it done first thing in the morning, huh?  I don't usually finish in the morning, but I like to at least start first thing before the kids are up.  Then by the time I take advantage of 5 minutes here and 10 minutes there throughout the day, I'm usually very close to being finished by evening.

Please comment below if you're up to the challenge.  I'm really looking forward to it again after a month off.

I found a 90 day Bible reading schedule at  They fit 3 schedules to a page, so you even have a couple to give to friends. 

 May God get the glory as we make time in our daily lives to put His Word first!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Kid Profile Updates

I realized today that some of my kid profile pictures on the sidebar were a year old!  I think Twinkle Toes' picture was from October 2010.  My husband had possession of the camera during the Christmas festivities and took some great pictures, so I've updated our kids' pics. 


When did my 12 yr old little boy start looking like a young man?!  He's growing so fast!  I think he started the school year wearing 14 slim in jeans and now he's wearing size 18.  It's almost like he skipped size 16.  My husband is constantly reminding me that I'm not feeding him enough.  I give him breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but he's always hungry.

 My husband tried getting a good picture of all 6 kids at my mom and dad's on Christmas day, but it was not to be.  Here are some of the attempts:

Are we the only ones who have this problem?  Getting them to look in the right direction is only half the battle!

And finally, I have to share with you the many faces of Lu.  She wears her feelings on her sleeve, or face, rather.  And her daddy likes to push her buttons.

Typical Lucie.  Sleepy-eyed with her blanket and pacifier.

Hi Dad.  Do you have something for me?
What is it?

You know I don't like being taunted.  Back off.

I accept your apology, but I haven't entirely forgotten the offense.

Food Book Binge

The holidays are a time for binging on food.  Well, I've been binging on food books!  It started when my friend brought over a book she had checked out from the library called Real Food by Nina Planck.  I ordered it and her other book, Real Food for Mother's and Babies from Amazon, but since I was still on the 90 day Bible reading plan and we were homeschooling, I didn't have much time for reading.  I read her latter book first and gave you my thoughts on it here.  Over the holiday I've read Real Food by Nina Planck, In Defense of Food and Food Rules by Michael Pollan, and The Dirty Life:  A Memoir of Farming, Food, and Love by Kristin Kimball.  I'm currently reading Folks, This Ain't Normal by Joel Salatin and it's been eye-opening.  On my nightstand are Know Your Fats by Mary Enig, The Queen of Fats by Susan Allport, Food Politics by Marion Nestle, The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan, and Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price.  I'm expecting Why We Get Fat:  And what to do about it by Gary Taubes to arrive today (a friend recommended it and Amazon had it backordered).  And guess who received both Barnes and Nobles and Amazon gift cards for Christmas?!  I have a feeling, I'll be adding more food books to my list. 

These books all have something in common.  As a culture, we've become detached from our food.  We no longer know where our food comes from, nor do we care most of the time.  Our food may travel thousands of miles before it reaches our supermarket.  Due to transportation time and shelf-life, more and more processed and packaged foods are filling the aisles at our grocery store and the produce that is there is often times a shadow of what it once was nutritionally.  I highly recommend In Defense of Food and Folks, This Ain't Normal for an introduction to this issue.  Michael Pollan and Nina Planck approach food from the standpoint of journalists hunting down all-too-often disturbing answers to questions about our food.  Michael Pollan, in true detective fashion exposes the root causes of and fallacy in our forfeit of real food in favor of "nutritionism".  Joel Salatin writes from the perspective of a farmer and Christian environmentalist.  I hesitate to even use the term environmentalist, but he's the real deal.  He cares about being good stewards of our environment, and he's willing to back up his talk with action.  He has many wonderful suggestions for making changes in the right direction.  He's so persuasive, we just might end up with a couple of chickens pecking around in our backyard.  Shhh, don't tell our neighbors.   I'm such a city girl and a product of my culture that I think giving up paper towels is going green!!  (By the way, my husband made me start buying them again.  I guess we couldn't live without them.)  Joel Salatin would laugh at such efforts- his solution to our trash problem is to have chickens eat our garbage scraps!  Talk about going green.  Forget the trash compactor, chickens convert food waste into eggs and meat.  Pretty cool.

And The Dirty Life was such a fun and in many ways profound read.  It ranks right up there with Better Off in the category of moving memoirs that challenge you to simplify life by turning back the clock on "progress".  (I bet you didn't know that category existed!  Well, it does for me.)  I can't wait to start The Omnivore's Dilemma, it's next on my list.  But time is getting away from me.  It's time for another 90 day Bible challenge- in TWO DAYS!  I better read fast.

What have you been reading in your spare time over the holiday?

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Our White Christmas

We had a white Christmas this year, which was pretty cool.  My husband thought it was very cool and this sparked a discussion.  He said white Christmases are very rare here in Amarillo and I didn't seem to think they were that rare, at all.  It's funny that I have an opinion on the matter, because I grew up spending Christmas in East Texas with my grandparents and only remember there being one white Christmas there in all my childhood.  But Amarillo gets lots of snow, surely it couldn't be that unusual for there to be snow on the ground at Christmas. 

Some interesting facts:  The odds of Amarillo having a white Christmas are 1:14.29 (from 1961-1990).  Going back to 1893, the earliest date from which we have weather records, Amarillo has had 25 white Christmases.  Only 25 times in the last 118 years!  (By the way, in case you're interested, this would mean we have a 1:5 chance of having a white Christmas, not a 1:14.  What this means is that we're getting lots less snow now compared to the early 20th century.  Amarillo had over 10 inches of snow on the ground at Christmas in 1918 and almost 5 inches in 1939, both dates prior to the time period used to calculate the 1:14 statistic!  It's probably more accurate to look at the more recent data, like the 1:14 statistic.  (We've had such a drought the last couple of years, I can't even imagine what it would be like to get 10 inches of moisture at one time!)  Does this mean my husband was right?  Maybe so.  It isn't fifty:fifty, that's for sure!  Having a white Christmas in Amarillo is pretty rare.

Anyway, having snow at Christmas was really pretty and added to the already neat situation of Christmas falling on a Sunday.  Christmas seemed especially worshipful having both Christmas eve and Christmas day worship services this year.  And the blanket of snow seemed to cover the ugliness of our parched land like Christ's atonement covers the ugliness of our parched, sinful hearts.  It seemed fitting somehow.

Did you have a white Christmas, too?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas!

This was the picture I took for our Christmas cards this year.  Each bigger kids was sliding into the little kids and I had about 10 seconds to get 5 or 6 shots.  I thought this one turned out cute.

This was taken at Santa's brunch at the Amarillo Club this year.  Lucie is a mess.  She's wearing her big sister's shoes and tights.  I didn't dress her and obviously didn't check her before church, either.  Guess it was one of those mornings.  Anyway, the food and fellowship were great, as usual.

My mom said for Christmas she wanted a picture of all of us.  I don't think my husband and I have been in a picture with our kids since Thanksgiving three years ago when Lucie was 1 month old.  We usually just get the kids.  We're going to try again tomorrow to get us all looking in the right direction.  

I have no idea why this picture is blurry, but I wanted to show off the pajama pants I made the kids today.  I went to JoAnn's TWICE today and Barnes and Noble and Dillards.  I'm one of those last minute people.  JoAnn's was pretty empty.  I guess I'm the only lunatic who decides at the last minute to sew something for all six of her kids.  They turned out ok, but I have a hard time picking the right size patterns!  Several are a little big on the kids, while others are barely big enough.  At least we can pass them down.

Our candlelight service was great tonight.  We have a time of cookies and fellowship, afterwards.  We got apple pie at my mom's and are looking forward to her yummy food again tomorrow.  Living in the same neighborhood as my mother and grandmother certainly has its perks!   Hope you're having a great Christmas!

Monday, December 19, 2011

TOS Review of The World's Greatest Stories- and a Giveaway!

I first learned about George W. Sarris and The World's Greatest Stories from the blog In a Shoe.  I think this was about a year ago.  Since then we've purchased and listened to all of his Bible stories.  The World's Greatest Stories is not just another Bible story CD, though.  Several things set these CDs apart from and above other Bible story CDs.

First of all, they're not just stories, but word for word Bible.  That's right, they are completely unchanged in any way.  Pure Bible.  You can read along, if you like.  Both KJV or NIV are available.  We listen to the NIV.  As a Christian parent, I want to get as much Bible into my children's minds and hearts as possible.  This is a great way to supplement the Bible reading and memory you do as a family.

Secondly, The World's Greatest Stories is a dramatic reading of God's Word.  It's full of sound effects and mood-setting music.  And you wouldn't believe it's only one person reading the Bible.  George Sarris sounds like an entire cast of voices bringing the Bible to life in each story!  You really do have to listen to believe it.

Six volumes are available for purchase at only $7.95 each.  They are as follows:

Volume 1:  The Prophets- The Blazing Furnace, The Handwriting on the Wall, Daniel in the Lion's Den, Elijah and the Prophets of Baal, and The Prophecy of Jonah.

Volume 2:  Life of Christ- The Real Story of Christmas, The Baptism and Temptation of Jesus, The Healing of the Blind Man, Some of the Things Jesus Said and Did, and The Real Story of Easter.

Volume 3:  Beginnings- In the Beginning, A Lame Man in Lystra, A Jailer in Philippi, The Story of Ruth, and The Raising of Lazarus.

Volume 4:  Joshua and Esther- Joshua and the Battle of Jericho, and the Book of Esther.

Volume 5:  Joseph and his Brothers

Volume 6:  Defeating Giants-  David and Goliath, Naaman the Leper, Micaiah and Jehoshaphat, The Sacrifice of Isaac, and Gideon and His 300 Men.

To make a purchase or to see which Scripture passages are covered in each volume, see The World's Greatest Stories product page

Our family has enjoyed The World's Greatest Stories so much that I want to give away several of our favorite volumes. 

I have one copy each of volumes 1, 2, and 6 that I want to give away.  Each of the following qualifies as one entry:  Comment below, follow my blog or tell me if you already do in a comment, announce the giveaway on your blog and comment with a link, post about the giveaway on facebook or twitter and comment with a link.  Winners will be announced Thursday December 22nd.

The World's Greatest Stories is fun for the whole family.  You don't want to miss out on these Bible readings!


Check out other TOS Reviews of The World's Greatest Stories.

Disclaimer:  I received one volume free along with a sample CD in exchange for an honest review.  I've purchased at least a dozen other volumes for our home library and to give to friends.

Friday, December 16, 2011

TOS Review of Fractazmic Fraction Cards by I See Cards

Do you have a child who is struggling with fractions?  Have you got a visual learner who just doesn't "get" common denominators?  Fractazmic , is a card game that teaches numbers, measurement, and fractions.  The deck is divided into a sixteenths suit (brown cards), a twelths suit (blue), and a tenths suit (green). 

The sixteenths suit cards have bugs on a ruler to show that 2/16 is the same as 1/8, 2/8 is the same as 1/4, etc.  The twelths suit uses an egg carton to show 3 eggs (out of 12) is 1/4, etc.  And the tenths suit uses a water bottle to demonstrate 1/5 of a liter is 2/10, 2/5 is 4/10, etc.  The pictures on the cards help your child "see" the relationships between fractions.  The object of Fractazmic is to put together the most hands within suits that add up to 1.  You could make a green (tenths) suit of 1/10, 2/5, 3/10, and 1/5, for example.  Cards can be drawn from the stack or the discard line, but when taking from the discard line, all cards above the desired card must also be taken.  Play continues until a player runs out of cards and the winner is the player with the most hands that made one.

In my experience, teaching addition and subtraction of fractions with different denominators is tough for visual learners.  I am not a visual learner and neither is my oldest.  For us it was a simple matter to find the common denominator, but my visual girls have to be able to "see" that 1/4 is the same as 4/16 and Fractazmic does that.  Fractazmic also shows that 5/16 is is 1/4 plus 1/16 through pictures.  By playing the game, your child begins to make connections between fractions, and changing denominators is no longer a calculation to go through, but an inference from the pictures on the cards.  In other words, your child will begin to think in terms of common denominators without doing any math.  It becomes second nature. 

You can purchase a deck of Fractazmic cards through I See Cards for only $6.95.  This would be a great stocking stuffer and ideal for holiday car trips.  Other I See Cards that teach math through games are Prime Bomb and Pyramath.   Download Dr. Ron's Succeeding in Math with Games here.

Fractazmic is suited for kids in 1st-8th grade and can be played with 2-4 players.  I'm impressed with Fractazmic and may be purchasing other I See Cards in the future. 


Check out the other TOS reviews of Fractazmic here.

Disclaimer:  I received one Fractazmic card game free in exchange for an honest review.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Style of a Three Year Old

When I was 5 years old, I challenged my dad on the existence of Santa Claus and he admitted the truth.  My mom was not happy with him, being as I was their only child.  Similarly, I wanted to tell my kids early on about Santa, whereas my husband wanted to play along for a few years.  I tried hinting with Monk for years, but he was unswerving in his belief.  Finally, when he was 8 or 9 I couldn't take it any more.  I asked him point blank how he thought Santa could possibly make it to every house in the entire world in one night.  He rattled off something about the force and warp speed.  Thank you, Star Wars.  Next, I asked him how Santa could possibly squeeze down all those narrow chimneys.  Simple- he beamed down them, you know, teleportation.  Thank you, Star Trek.  After reminding him that both Star Wars and Star Trek are science FICTION, I had to resort to telling him straight out.  He did not take it well.  That evening his dad was trying to console him and said, "It's like with the Tooth Fairy..."  Monk got this stricken look on his face and said, "The TOOTH FAIRY?!"  Dad tried again with, "You know the Easter Bunny isn't real, right?"  Poor Monk.  With tears in his eyes he lamented, "Three in one night!"  Then and there, Big D and I decided that we couldn't let this ruse go on as long with the other children. 

She wore this tiara, shorts, and snow boots combo all day.

When I approached Twinkle Toes a few days later (she was 6 or 7), she took it well.  "I already knew that."  Maybe she takes after her momma.  The next year we let Measle in on the act and I've been very careful since then to never mislead the kids.  We don't rush to the mall to have their pictures made with Santa.  I don't talk about what Santa will bring them.  We don't write letters to the North Pole.  When Prince (5) and I were at the mall the other day, he saw a man in a Santa costume and looked like he wanted to go over to him.  Then he questioned, "You and dad buy my presents, right mom?"  I reassured him that he wasn't missing out on anything.  Then yesterday my parents treated us to the annual Santa's brunch at a local dinner club.  (The buffet is to die for!)  Every year we go and every year the kids see Santa and Mrs. Claus.  All my work is undone in an hour of seeing the "real" Santa! 

Gotta love those red shoes!  Perfect for playing ball!

As for the Tooth Fairy, I'm the worst, EVER.  Once, my husband left pixie dust when Measle lost a tooth.  That caused a lot of excitement.  Of course, I'm usually supposed to be the Tooth Fairy and I always forget.  When Monk and Twinkle Toes were little, I tried to play along.  I would palm some money and pretend to look everywhere for where the money could have fallen, before "finding" it to their joy.  Prince lost his first tooth the other day and he was so excited.  Of course, I forgot and the next morning when he mentioned it, I got some money out of my purse and gave it to him.  He took it in stride.  I did caution him not to tell any of his friends in school that I'm the Tooth Fairy.  He promised he wouldn't. 

A true Texan.  Boots and a gun complete any outfit.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Funny Soap Story, or There's a Reason Why These Pumpkins are Green!

When I started sewing, I put making soap on the back burner.  I guess I can only handle one hobby at a time!  I haven't sewn lately, and the other day I had a desire to make soap again.  I was really excited to make some green Christmas trees and had planned on using thyme for a rustic green look.  I had saved bacon drippings and wanted to put my cheap lard to use.  Everything was going well, I was using 50% lard, 25% coconut oil, and 12.5% each of olive oil and almond oil.  I decided to discount the lye by 8% and the soap was actually looking really good.  (I should have known something was about to go wrong.)

Just after thin trace I started putting in my color.  I started with about a teaspoon of thyme.  It made no perceptible difference.  So I tried adding another teaspoon and then another.  If possible, it almost looked orange now.  So I decided to pull out the big guns.  Food coloring.  Surprisingly the more green food coloring I added, the more orange my soap looked.  This was strange, but I decided to make the best of it.  Since orange Christmas trees sounded less than ideal, I decided to use my pumpkin molds instead, thinking it was too bad I never got around to this in October like I had planned.  So Christmas trees were out and pumpkins were in, along with some autumn leaves (though I missed this season, too), a few gingerbread men (orange didn't seem too far from ginger) and a white pvc pipe for some round soaps.

Pleased with the result, despite having to go to plan B, I set my soap in the pantry to cure.  Guess what?  When I checked on my soap a few days later, it was green.  My pumpkins and gingerbread men were green.  Figures. 

Maybe I'll try sewing again.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Greek mythology- not so original, afterall

I was reading Greek mythology to Measle yesterday and it occurred to me that every one of the myths we read had its root in the Bible.  Of course, they're all twisted in a humanocentric way with a low view of God, or gods in their case, and a high view of man.  The myths contain a seed of truth, but are warped to make man feel justified in his sins.  And with gods so man-like and man so god-like, there isn't a recognition of sin or a need for a Savior.

Here are a few examples taken from Usborne Greek Myths (Retold by Heather Amery, 2000):

The Gift of Fire-  "Prometheus picked up some mud.  He shaped lumps of it into men and women, making them look just like the gods, and breathed on them to make them come alive." (Amery, p. 7)  Sound familiar?  "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.... And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."  (Genesis 1:27 and 2:7)  Notice in both accounts, people are made by God (or a god) from the earth and life is breathed into them. 

"The people were happy on the Earth, but the one thing that Zeus wouldn't let them have was fire.  Prometheus loved the people and felt sorry that they had to shiver with cold through the dark nights, and eat raw food.  He went to Mount Olympus and, when no one was watching, stole a lump of burning charcoal from Zeus's palace.  He took it to the people and showed them how to make fire with it.  Now they could eat cooked food, and have warmth and light in the night.  They were always grateful to Prometheus and never forgot his special gift.  When Zeus noticed the smell of cooking and saw the fires glowing at night, he knew what Prometheus had done.  He flew into a terrible rage.  'Prometheus, how dare you go against my orders?' he shouted in a voice like thunder.  'I'll punish you for this.'  Zeus chained Prometheus to the side of a huge mountain.  Every day an eagle flew down and tore out his liver, and every night it grew again.  Prometheus was in terrible pain, but he couldn't die because he was a god."  (Amery, pp 7-8) 

Of course, the truth is that it was the fruit of the knowledge of good and evil that God prohibited Adam and Eve from eating, and this was for their own good, not because God was cruel.  Prometheus, a Satan-like figure is the hero in this story, having the good of people in mind, whereas Satan really had their downfall in mind.  Notice that the stolen fire was a "gift", whereas the temptation to sin by eating the fruit led to the Fall of man.  Prometheus is punished fully immediately, whereas Satan is cursed by God with his ultimate punishment yet to come.

Pandora's Box-  "Zeus gave Pandora and Epimetheus a box which was bound and locked.  'Take this box and keep it safe.  I must warn you,' said Zeus, 'that you must never open it.'...[Epimetheus] took Pandora away and soon they were married.  He put the box in a dark corner of his house.  Pandora was very happy with her new husband.  The world was a wonderful place to live in.  No one was ever ill or grew old.  No one was ever unkind or unpleasant.  But Pandora was curious about the locked box and the more she thought about it, the more she wanted to know what was in it."  (Amery, pp 9-10)  The similarities are striking, are they not?  It was Eve whose curiosity spurred on by her doubting of God's goodness caused her to give in to the temptation of the Serpent and eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.  And in the myth, as well as the true event, the world was good prior to the sin of the woman.

"[Pandora] broke the lock with a tool.  Then, hardly daring to breathe, she slowly lifted the lid.  Before she could look inside, there was a terrible screaming, wailing noise.  She jumped back, terrified.  Out of the box streamed all sorts of horrible things.  There was hate and jealousy, cruelty and anger, hunger and poverty, pain and sickness, old age and death."  (Amery, p 11)  It certainly sounds like the curse!  And I love this part!  "Pandora tried to slam down the lid, but it was too late.  Then one last thing, very small and pretty, fluttered out of the box.  It was hope.  People would now suffer all kinds of terrible things, but because they had hope, they would never despair."  (Amery, p 11)  The hope in the midst of the Fall comes in Genesis 3:15.  "And I will put enmity between you (God is saying this to Satan) and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel."  The true hope is Christ.  At Golgotha (Aramaic for skull) Christ suffered and died for the sins of His people, but in do so doing, He crushed Satan's head, fulfilling Genesis 3:15 often called the protoevangelium or first gospel. 

I'm sure there are many other biblical allusions in the Greek myths.  I know they have a global flood story as do most cultures.  The fate of Persephone was sealed by her eating a few seeds of a pomegranate in Hades.  Suffice it to say, the Greeks were not being original, but were bastardizing the truth of the Bible to fit their own fallen view of God and man.  Measle Bug is getting a mini theology lesson with each Greek myth and we're both enjoying it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

We're all thriving on our new schedule!!

I always hesitate to write about our new schedules, because as soon as I do, something changes and it's back to the drawing board.  This new schedule is very rigorous in the morning and more lax in the afternoon, allowing the kids to practice music daily and me to nap.  Yes, I said nap.  I've been staying up late and getting up early and can't make it on 5 or 6 hrs a night without a nap!  I'm also spending a LOT more time in the kitchen these days.  I can't believe I've actually given my children hot breakfasts, lunches, and dinners all week.  No sandwhiches or cereal AT ALL.  That's a change for us and it's keeping me busy!

Here are the benefits of our minute by minute schedule (as opposed to a check-list or flexible schedule):

-My easily distracted son is staying on task and doing great!  He has so much to accomplish in a given day that it can be a bit overwhelming, but rather than start dropping subjects, I wanted to try organizing his time for him.  I only allow him 55 minutes for math (seems like it used to take him an hour and a half) and 45 minutes for reading.  He gets 50 minutes for science.  If he isn't finished with the subjects when his time is up, he moves on.  In the afternoon, he has an hour or so to finish up any remaining work.  This has really revolutionized his homeschooling.  He's such a great, independent kid, but needed a little help with time management.  I'm so encouraged by this positive change.

I finally know what I'm doing and when!  Reading aloud to two kids at the same time has always been a bit of a challenge to coordinate.  Now I have their schedules in-sync and we all know what time read-aloud is each day.  I've also been struggling to fit in read aloud time for two cores this year, up from just one the last two years.  I now have two back to back read-aloud sessions scheduled while Calvin takes his morning nap. 

I have 45 minutes schedule for making lunch so I actually have time to make a hot lunch daily.  Always before we would read or work right up til lunch then have to race around and figure out what could be ready quick.

Monk and Twinkle Toes are not wasting as much time waiting around for each other now.  They share the same readers, the same computer for Rosetta Stone, they share Eastern Hemisphere Explorer notes, etc.  It was only a few minutes here and a few minutes there, but it adds up.  Now it's clear to everyone who's turn is when for each of these things.

Even my 8 yr old has become so much more independent.  She knows what she's supposed to be doing each moment of the day until she's finished.  The schedule has really helped her to feel more in charge of her day.

Here's a look at our schedule:

6:05-        Mommy gets up and makes breakfast. (I'm keeping those 5 minutes, thank you very much!)
6:30-7:00 Kids make beds, get dressed, eat breakfast
7:00-7:30 Catechism and character sketches with family
7:30-7:55 The kids do their daily Bible reading and Scripture memory work
8:00-8:55 Math for Monk, Reading for Twinkle Toes (they read the same books)
9:00-9:45 Reading for Monk (Math for Twinkle Toes, but her times are a little different.) And this is when I read-aloud to Measle Bug each morning while Calvin naps, peacefully.  Ha ha, no it's not usually that serene, but it is working.
9:50-10:20 Read aloud with Monk and Twinkle Toes
10:25-11:15 Science for both Monk and Twinkle Toes while Mom makes lunch
11:20-11:55 Lunch
12:00-12:25 Rosetta Stone Mandarin for Monk while Twinkle Toes does art
12:30-12:55 LA for Monk while TT does Greek (this is Measle's turn for Rosetta Stone Mandarin)
1:00-1:25 Greek for Monk while TT does RS Chinese and Measle is done with school now.
1:30-1:55 Computer Science for M while TT does LA

That's it.  They're pretty much finished by 2.  Monk usually has about an hour of school to finish up as homework in the afternoon after music and before swimming.  Measle is usually done by 1 and Twinkle Toes by 2.  And notice I'm finished with school and lunch duties by noon!!

I cannot emphasize enough how much this schedule has helped our family.  I'm not a natural leader.  We all needed this structure and we're all happier for it!  I was seriously considering Switched on Schoolhouse and plugging my girls in next year for the sake of my sanity.  I think it's safe to say, that's off.  We're all enjoying doing school together and I'm wondering why we didn't start the year with this schedule.  (Probably because I would rather get up at 6:30 or 7!)  I didn't write it in, but this schedule also helps me know when I can run to the store, and I scheduled around our daily drop-offs and pick-ups.

Thanks for those of you who gave me advice and emailed me.  You guys are a great encouragement to me!  Thanks also for your prayers.  This schedule truly is an answer to prayer.  God is good!

Monday, December 5, 2011

TOS Review of Artistic Pursuits- Grade 4-6 Book Two

We were not new to Artistic Pursuits by Brenda Ellis when I received the opportunity to review it, which greatly added to my excitement and explains why I requested Grades 4-6 Book Two:  Color and Composition.  We had already worked through Book One on drawing last year so I knew my artistic daughter would love an intro to watercolors.

Each unit is divided into four lessons, one on observation which helps build a visual vocabulary, one on art appreciation and history, one that teaches new art techniques, and an application lesson that brings them all together.

Here's what I LOVE about Artistic Pursuits:

1.  It teaches art techniques incrementally.  You'll be amazed at what your kids can do when they work through Artistic Pursuits.  Grades 4-6 Book Two teaches color and composition.

2.  It teaches art history and art appreciation, too.  Each book focuses on a period of art or group of artists.  Grades 4-6 Book Two showcases master works by American artists.  Even if your son or daughter isn't destined to be the next Monet, they will receive a great art education by working through this series.

3.  Your kids can work through Artistic Pursuits independently.  I have absolutely no art skills, whatsoever, and am not competent to teach art.  I first purchased Artistic Pursuits because I wanted my artistic children to be able to pursue their passion, without having to depend on me.  It has not disappointed.

Artistic Pursuits is designed to be scheduled twice a week, allowing at least an hour for each session.  My daughter works fast in all her subjects.  It never takes her an entire hour and she usually does art 3-4 times a week.  Below, Twinkle Toes (10) showcases some of her recent creations.

If you have artistically inclined kids, but don't feel competent to teach art, this program is for you. 

A word of warning though, this is not a program for just fooling around with art, at least Grades 4-6 Book Two isn't.  All of the Artistic Pursuits books are reasonably priced at $42.95, but the art supplies can get pricey.  I spent $100 on the art supplies listed for Grades 4-6 Book Two ($35 alone for 12 Derwent Inktense watersoluble ink pencils).  I see that art supply packs are available through Artistic Pursuits at a reduced rate and  I could have purchased our supplies for $74 plus $11 shipping and handling.   I was happy to do it and consider it an investment in her future, because my daughter loves to create works of art.  I would not want to spend that much on a reluctant artist, however.


Please check out other TOS reviews of Artistic Pursuits, especially if you're interested in one of the other grade levels.

Disclaimer:  I was privileged to receive a complimentary copy of Artistic Pursuits Grades 4-6 Book Two in exchange for an honest review.


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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.