Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ice Skating With Cub Scouts

Today we had a wonderful time ice skating with Chase's Cub Scout pack.  Even Alyssa got in on the act (although she wanted to leave after a while).

Then it was off to cousin Logan's 3rd birthday party.

We have had a very busy day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

In The Christmas Spirit

We have been having wonderful family times these past few days.  Chase and Alyssa participated in our church's children's Christmas program, our main focus leading up to Sunday.  My husband, a photographer and tech expert,  was also involved in the multi-media presentation.  Although this may sound rather routine and unexciting, the past few days held several wonderful surprises for me.

First, I had no idea how cool the multi-media aspect of the program was!  I was so very proud of my husband and the wonderful photographs he took.  Sometimes I  forget how talented my husband is and how he likes to use his gifts and talents for the church.  Afterwards, so many parents approached him wanting a copy for their family.

Next, my one and only ds completely surprised me with the excellence of his very first solo, in a language that is not native to him!  That's right, my shy son sung a verse of Silent Night in Spanish on stage, in front of the whole congregation!  His voice sounded so wonderful I could hardly believe it was him!  I was one proud Mama and spent most of the program afterwards thanking God for his grace to allow my son's talents to be used in a mighty way.

Alyssa's participation was so full of joy and enthusiastic that just looking at her singing filled me  with  happiness and gratefullness for our wonderful Savior for whom this program was presented.

Our final unexpected blessing is that Grandma stayed with us for a few days before and then after the program.  This is an answer to a prayer for me as I have been concerned for her since Grandpa died in September.  I know the holidays can be difficult in a time of grieving.  How wonderful it has been to watch her light up as she plays with the kids and to see the kids getting to show their beloved Granny all their latest tricks and interests.

Most of all, what I have realized is that I need to repent of taking much that is good in my life, that God has blessed me with, for granted.  How much I still dare to complain and moan and groan about life and what is not perfect instead of focusing on my Lord and all the wondrous gifts he has given me, not the least of which is my very salvation itself.

My prayer for myslelf and all my readers and everyone I know this Christmas is that we all have the grace to focus on Christ and all that he has done for us, both now and well after Christmas and New Year's are over.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sick! Again!

This time my wee one is sick. Poor little thing. She gets so down when she is sick. She has been sleeping a lot but seemed a little happier tonight.

We prayed for a better day for tomorrow.

ABeka Homeschool Sale

Great news for families who want to save money and provide their children with comprehensive Christian homeschooling aided by DVD learning!

I received the following e-mail notification from ABeka Academy:
A Beka Academy announces a special offer to help meet your home-schooling needs!  We're offering your family (for a limited time, January 2—31), the low starting price of $625 for grades K4—6 and $700 for grades 7—12.  This allows you to enroll your child in A Beka Academy in time for the spring semester. 
Included are all DVDs and the A Beka Book materials needed to complete the second half of the school year.  You may be eligible for credit if you purchased books this school year from A Beka Book, Inc.
A Beka has a very strong reputation for excellence among many veteran homeschoolers that I respect. I have and continue to use ABeka readers as supplements for our curriculum.  I wish I had used Abeka to teach my son because I feel his handwriting would have benfitted from learning cursive earlier.  Overall, ABeka is a great homeschool resource.  C

Check out their website for more information about Abeka Academy.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Conquering The Bread Machine Challenge

I finally did it! I made my first loaf of bread machine bread. My wonderful friend Elizabeth over at Home Education Under Grace graciously gave me one of hers. She coached me a bit and today I took the plunge. Even my husband watched amazed as we watched the machine doing it's thing.

Once we could actually smell the loaf baking, the dream seemed to turning into a reality. Could I really have fresh-baked bread without kneading and rising and shaping? So cool!

Once I wrestled the bread out (if anyone has any tips on this, let me know), we ate a very yummy treat indeed.

The truth is, I enjoy making bread with Alyssa and will continue to do that sometimes but using the bread machine will enable us to have fresh-baked bread more often.

Thanks again, Elizabeth!

Also thanks to Hillbilly Housewife for her Bread Machine Missing Manual post. It was very useful.

Rejecting Radical Feminism In Girl Scouts

As Alyssa got older and Chase joined Cub Scouts, Alyssa and I started wondering about scouting for her. I remember Brownies fondly from when I was younger and I always assumed that if I had a daughter, we would become involved in Brownies/Girl Scouts.

I went to the Girl Scouts website to see at what age Alyssa could join Brownies and was I in for a surprise. Girl Scouts was not as I remembered it! A little more research not only confirmed major changes but frankly sickened me.

From the removal of "God" to the horrifying links with abortion-providers Planned Parenthood to the New Age emphasis in the Scouting activities, I uncovered far more than I wanted to know.

The Girl Scouts website seems to have been recently re-designed and now I find no mention of God or country, just a list of programs designed to right all that is wrong with girls in our society. The Girl Scout research arm has uncovered that half of all girls are not interested in leadership, for example, a problem the Girl Scouts intends to fix, not respect. Increasing self-esteem, science and math skills and leadership roles may be noble goals for some girls. Are we not respect "diversity" among girls, however?

What about girls who enjoy traditional homemaking activities and want to learn more about them, in the earliest tradition of the Girl Scouts? Is it possible that one can increase a girl's self- esteem by teaching her that it is OK to honor her deepest urging to nurture, create and care for others by having babies and running a comfortable, hospitable household?

No, clearly the Girl Scouts, like most of modern American society, has completely devalued traditional women's roles and along with that, traditional women. Must they wonder why girls have low self-esteem when they are made to feel bad about everything they are (loving, better at languages than math, not wanting to be a leader or whatever the latest issue is) and they are constantly exposed to media images that encourage them to devalue their very bodies? Throw into the mix mothers who are too busy to mentor and fathers who are frequently absent or at least devalued and what could you expect but "low self-esteem"?

The current "Me" emphasis (the name of their current campaign) on the site replaces an emphasis on community. Global citizenship replaces learning about and serving America. Mothers and fathers are replaced by "trusted adults".   Most of all, worship of God is replaced by worship of the self, being passed on from the leadership of the Girls Scouts (represented by many feminist activist) to the girls they are indoctrinating serving.

The only good news to come of the Girl Scouts abandonment of traditional principles is the emergence of a Christian alternative for girls and their families.  American Heritage Girls is a Christian scouting experience for girls that is growing around the country.  We may end up chartering our own group here although is one chapter about 30 minutes away from us that I know of at this time.

If you are considering Girl Scouts for your daughter,  just know that the Girls Scouts of today may not be the same as the Girls Scouts you remember.

Read this interesting article about a mom who likes the American Heritage Girls for her special-needs daughter.

More on the history of the major changes in the Girl Scouts:

Girl Scouts New Radicalism 
National Review's The Cookie Crumbles
Pro-Abortion Feminist Scouts

Thanks to Mommy Life for the historical links.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Christian Family Gifts On Sale Until Wed.

Looking for Christian and educational Christmas gifts? Vision Forum is offering fantastic deals (20% to 50% off and free shipping) on some of their top items. I took advantage of a similar sale that they had last month and was very pleased with my 50% off items. For most items, it is not too late to order for Christmas.

We especially like the Vision Forumscience kits, nature accessories and role play accessories. Hurry- the sale ends Wednesday.

Here is a partial list of 50% off items (our favorites are highlighted):
50% off items will include:
*Thoughts for Young Men
*All-American Pop Gun
*Passionate Housewives Desperate for God
*Spy Monocular
*Toy Crossbow w/Darts
*Teach Them To Your Children
*1911 Official Handbook for Boys Scouts of America
*Ten P's in a Pod
*Swiss Family Robinson
*Little Bear's Outdoor Adventure Guide
*True Story of Noah's Ark
*Umbrella Doll Stroller
*(DVD) Return of the Daughters
*Western Revolver Cap Gun
*The Coral Island
*So Much More
*Fuel Cell X7 Car
*20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
*Gulliver's Travels
*(DVD) Training Dominion Oriented Daughters
*Frontier Tomahawk
*Air Burst Rocket System -
*Men of Science, Men of God
*(DVD) Putting on the Whole Armor of God
*(CD) Curriculum Advice Volumes 1 & 2
*Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
*Candy Factory
*The Family
*(DVD) Measure Twice, Cut Once
*Juggling Balls A-08-204
*Ice Cream Maker
*Ping-Pong Gun
*(CD) Sabers, Spears, and Catapults
*Fighting the Flames
*The Book of Psalms For Singing
*(DVD) Awesome Forces of God's Creation
*(DVD) History of the World Boxed set
*Silk Ribbon Embroidery
*Princess Ka'iulani Doll Dress
*Coming In on a Wing & a Prayer
*(CD) Bible Lessons for Manhood
*Rubik's Cube
*1599 Geneva Bible
*Prairie Bonnet Multi-Print
*Swiss Military Field Telephone
*Edison Light Bulb Kit
*John Gill's Commentaries 9-vol SET (With Free CDROM and Book)
*Jonathan Park Hat (Blue) Child's Size Adjustable

Click the banner below to browse great Christian gifts for homeschool moms, children and families.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Fun Food Fridays

I may not be the greatest gourmet cook but me the children and I come up with some cool ideas that make eating more fun. So this week we begin our Fun Food Fridays series. Please, add your own fun food idea!

Mom's Mini Biscuit Buffet (You will notice many of the names of the recipes begin with "Mom's"-my children choose the recipe names.)
We used a basic biscuit recipe, adding lemon juice to the milk in place of buttermilk since we had none.
Next, use a very small round cookie cutter to make the biscuits out of the rolled dough. (Alyssa loves to do the rolling)
Layer one or two cut-outs on top of each other to make layered biscuits.
Bake the biscuits on parchment paper, probably for less time than stated on the recipe since they are likely smaller.
Once the biscuits are out, take them off the pan immediately. We put ours into a bowl and covered them to keep them warm.
Here comes the most fun part, the Biscuit Buffet.
Provide a variety of toppings for your biscuits based on what you have on-hand. I had boiled chicken to serve creatively so our toppings were:
--BBQ chicken
--Chicken 'n Gravy
--Honey butter

We served the Biscuit buffet with broccoli with a cheese sauce.

It was a nice fun dinner with variety to please everyone.

Give it a try with whatever you have on hand for toppings.

Lunchmeat and PB and J might make this a nice snack or lunch.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

More Homeschool Advent Sites

I found even more great homeschool Advent sites.

Thanks to Homeschooling Coach (@HomeschoolCoach on twitter) for letting me know about her wonderful Advent devotions.

Check out Piney Woods and her lovely Advent devotionals.

Homeschooling Moms blog also has a list of excellent Advent links.

Please take the time to look these Advent resources. Redeem Cristmas from the shopping madness/over-indulgence holiday it has become. You and your family will be glad that you did.

Advent Calendars

I know that I am blogging about this past the official start of Advent but I feel that our family has been so blessed by celebrating Advent that I would like to see other homeschoolers join in even now.

I ended up making an Advent calendar because I wanted one that had lift-the-flap with pertinent Scriptures underneath.

This creation of mine took place after I spent time at the library and online looking for Advent ideas.

I wanted to include some Advent calendar links to get you started. Remember, it does not have to be too fancy or perfect in every way, just a method to help you count down to the most important event in the history of the world- the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.

Lent and Beyond -very cute, innovative ideas (muffin tin advent calendar). You may need to be bit crafty for many of these.

BBC Online -an online calendar with poetry, music or Bible readings for each day of Advent.

Family Fun always has good craft ideas and Advent calendars ae no exception. If you wanted to, you could find a way to add Scripture to the project along with or to replace the candy suggested.

TeachingMom has (of course) a wonderful, very educational Advent calendar along with many links and great ideas for celebrating Advent.

Christian Book Distributors, my favorite Christmas and Advent store has Advent calendars you can buy and have in just a couple of days with rush shipping. I have listed a few below.

012834: Advent Calendar on DVD 2: Christmas Carol EditionAdvent Calendar on DVD 2: Christmas Carol Edition

Advent Calendars

I hope you find something you can use!

Related posts: Advent Products At CBD, Our Advent begins, Homeschool Advent sites

Monday, December 8, 2008

Homeschool Advent Sites

Want some great homeschool advent devotions and resources? I have found a few good ones. It is never too late to start your advent celebration, even if you are not in the very beginning. Any Advent devotions that you do will bless your family and enhance your celebration of Christmas.

Advent devotions and studies are a wonderful way to teach Christmas in your homeschool.

Here are some Christian Advent links:

Lent and More features the most comprehensive list of links for Advent that I have yet seen. From here, I found many other wonderful sites.

The wonderfully talented Miiko, a fellow homeschool mom blogger, has on her site a very comprehensive word-study based Advent devotional for families, Eleanor Zweigle's Advent Study, that I downloaded. Just amazing how gifted some ladies are with teaching God's word simply and helping others understand for themselves.

Finally, many of you know that I am doing a unique Advent series based on Handel's Messiah that I put together from the Stand Firm Site. If you have a chance, take a look at some of the Handel video posts on this blog along with the accompanying Scripture. This makes a nice evening devotional plus we are learning about classical music appreciation at the same time.

View our most recent advent devotion, day 8 My Redeemer Lives.

Advent Devotion Day 8 Video- My Redeemer Lives

More beautiful music from Handel's Messiah with even more beautiful words from Scripture.
Today, we will split the video and verses into two parts.

Part 1 Scriptures are Job 19:25
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth

1 Corinthians 15:21-22
For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.

The kids were especially interested in how the soprano voices were slow and quiet for v21 but very upbeat and loud for v22. What delightful music to end each day.

If you have not looked, I added a Handel music bar for your listening pleasure while you are reading this blog. It is in the left sidebar.

Have a blessed evening!

Disciple Like Jesus

I just found out about this new site, Disciple Like Jesus, designed to help parents disciple their children. There are a number of interesting articles on the site. I have not read them all but the main point of the site, that we as parents must work to reverse the trend of our children leaving the church, was a valid one.

This Sunday, the sermon was about the problems in the American church. Our elder and speaker, Vince Loparo, mentioned that discipling grown children, ages 18-34, is still very important as that group seems largely uninterested in traditional Christian values according to poll data from our recent presidential election.

Homeschool parents, like all other Christian parents, must constantly re-evaluate how we are doing in raising our children with a biblical worldview.

The bottom line from Sunday's message at my church and the Disciple Like Jesus website is that it must begin with us, in our hearts and minds as parents.

Dear Jesus: My Christmas Wish List

This is the time of year that we are all thinking about gifts, getting them and giving them. I was journaling this morning, writing a letter to God and trying to remember to prayerfully ask for what I need instead of worrying or becoming frustrated.

There are several gifts I would like to ask for and if they come well before Christmas, that is OK:
  • To be able to pray more. As I referred to above, my natural instinct is not to pray in all things, unceasing. I would like help from you Lord in remembering to pray all the time.
  • To re-commit to my daily Bible studies. I would like help to never skip a week here or there but to remain consistent despite the circumstance (sickness, whatever).
  • To teach my children to pray and study the Bible. Please guide me as I am reviewing ways to show Chase how to do a word study.
  • More faith in a faithful God who never changes.
  • More joy in all circumstances, just because I am saved by God's grace and I am to rejoice in the day the Lord has made.
  • More of the peace that passes all understanding. Again, despite the circumstances, peace in what I pray for to you today.
Jesus, I know that I have been more naughty than nice and surely do not deserve your blessings. But I ask that you in your grace and mercy, through the sacrifice of your son, Jesus grant me these things of which I am asking.


Saturday, December 6, 2008

Quiet, Snowy Day

We were in all day today. We entertained our little cousin and my sister, made cookies and had a generally good time despite the falling snow and howling wind.

What a nice feeling to be safe and snug inside. My heart breaks for families who are not so blessed. I am grateful for all that God has given to me.

May I use it all for his Glory.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Advent Celebration: Handel's Messiah Video Day 5

Today's devotion was particularly moving. We watched part 4 of the 6 videos in this series. The main verse for today was Isaiah 53:4-5 (vocabulary- iniquities, transgressions; lessons-why Jesus came and died for us, the power of Old Testament prophecy- my kids were amazed that these verses in Is 53 were written long before Jesus was born). It is amazing that I have listened to Handel's Messiah for years and never even known what the words were! The words are so powerful that we are all being changed by this study. Reading the verses in two versions and then hearing them sung with such emotion is just indescribable.

Watch and enjoy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Education Gifts and Learning Toys Guide Ready Now

The official HomeschoolMomTips.com Educational Gift Guide 2008 is finally here!

View The HomeschoolMomTips.com Educational Gift Guide Webpage.

View a screenshot of the Educational Gift Guide below:

Read some of our other Christmas Gift Articles:
National Geographic Educational Gifts
Remote-Control Tank Selling Out
Christian Christmas Gifts
Why I Shop Christian Book Distributors For Christmas

Mom Poems

I have seen a growing interest in my collection of mom poems that I published as an e-book several years ago. I thought I would share the collection with my current readers.

The mom poems and prayers are meant to warm your heart and make you glad to be a mommy. I hope they bless you today or whenever you need a little "pick-me-up".

The free e-book can be found on my Scribd site.

Homeschool Mom Tips Top 10: 2008

Want to know what are my top 10 Homeschool Mom Tips? I put together a little presentation for you to view and share with others. Look for upcoming blog posts to give more information, links and resources for each tip. View it below.

Prefer to download the pdf? Grab a copy at ScribD, a site where I host my documents.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Advent Celebration: Handel's Messiah Video

Today, we started our devotion with the third video in this series from the Messiah by Handel. We watched only the first part today, corresponding to Isaiah 9:6. How wonderful to hear the prophecy of our Savior's birth and triumph sung so powerfully.

I took this opportunity to teach my children the power of the Scriptures, even when one hears them in a language one does not know. You may have heard reports of the amazingly emotional response of the Chinese to a large performance of Handel's Messiah earlier this year. Many were bought to Christ as a result. I recounted the story of God's transforming love through music and then had to add this sad footnote to remind us of our freedoms- Handel's Messiah is no longer allowed to be performed in the country of China. Chinese officials also noticed what happened and the growing Christian church in China is viewed as a threat to the Communist leaders.

So as we sat in our cozy home, watching our lovely Messiah video for free and with complete freedom, we were reminded that there are others not so fortunate.

Please pray for Chinese Christians. May this video inspire you.

See our prior Advent Post with Handel's Messiah video, Day 1, here.

Prince Caspian Is On DVD!

Hurray! We loved the Prince Caspian movie and went to see it the first day it played in theaters. We do not often go to the movies so this was quite a special event for us. We splurged and got popcorn, drinks, the "whole nine yards" and it was wonderful.

I am a big C.S. Lewis fan and I especially enjoy how his stories often remind me of Bible stories. No arguments here about whether or not his work is biblical allegory. I just like the familiar feeling I get when reading or watching the works of Lewis.

So my birthday was yesterday (now officially past the 4-0 mark) and guess what I got? Yep, the NEW, just released Prince Caspian. Now I can watch it over and over again (in all my free time).

Get your
Prince Caspian DVD

Fun Boy Gift On Vision Forum

Vision forum is having a sale on some of their favorite toys and boys and girls and I just popped over there to complete my Christmas shopping.

The toy that my son wants the most is apparently the toy that many other boys want as well, the Amphibious Remote-Controlled Tankis selling out fast and none will be re-ordered once they are gone. The Amphibious Tank is now back-ordered but my cart says I will receive it in 9-13 business days.

If you are looking for a real toy to engage your older boys, this is it. Check out the online video demonstration of how the toy works before you buy.

Why Not Just Video Games For Boys?
Studies show that video games, most popular among boys and the most popular gift parents will buy their boys this Christmas, are not good for the emotional or physical health of boys. We constantly hear how American boys are on a steady downward decline according to many measures.

Video games do not allow boys to act out their own fantasies, fears and interests from the depths of their own imaginations. Playing with real toys has been shown in study after study to be superior.

Even if you do not buy this toy, buy your growing boys lots of real toys this Christmas. Activity sets, construction toys, nature items and science kits make good alternatives as boy gifts this Christmas.

See our Educational Gift Guide for more educational gift ideas.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Advent Celebration: Handel's Messiah Video 2

Today's Advent devotion and accompanying Messiah video focus on two key Scriptures- Isaiah 40:5
And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
and Malachi 3: 2-3.
But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner's fire, and like fullers' soap:
And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.
I especially enjoyed the musical rendering of Malachi 3 and reminding me about the "refiner's fire" was appropriate for me. I spent some time explaining refiner's fire to Chase and I was surprised at how easily he grasped the concept of God's purification through trials sometimes. View the video below.

View our Advent devotions for Day 3 and Day 1 with the accompanying Messiah videos.

Soli Deo Gloria!

What's Wrong With Children's Devotionals?- Part 1

 I spent a long time looking for a children's devotional book that the children and I could do together to supplement our homeschooling.  I even purchased a few child devotionals that seemed interesting and easy to use.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed each time.  Something seemed to me to be missing.  I agreed with the basic premises found in the books (do not steal, do not lie, obey your parents), but the books seemed overly condemning and moralistic with little explanation. Most of all, the child devotionals I purchased did not seem to offer any advice of HOW the child was to accomplish the moral righteousness prescribed through its stories.

As I matured as a Christian, I came to understand what was missing from the child devotionals- GRACE.  I was learning firsthand of the importance of grace and asking God for an extra measure of his help in teaching my children about grace so that we can learn and grow together.

Although I want my children to be well-versed in the commands of our mighty God as he has laid out in his Scripture, I want all of us to avoid the traps of legalism or false self-righteousness.   The Lord has been gracious and shown me my tendency to pridefulness which would surely be made worse by any notion that I can be "good" on my own.

Thus began my search for children's devotionals and Bible study that we could all learn from successfully.

In subsequent posts, I will be sharing the books that we use for this important daily task.

What are your thoughts? Have you noticed what I noticed? Do you use a children's devotional? Have you found one that you liked? Please share. Let us know!

Unique Children's Bibles

Many of the children's Bibles available do a nice job of teaching children about individual Bible stories. These are an important part of biblical literacy but should only serve as a foundation for more advanced learning about the overall purpose and story of the Bible.

Understanding that the Bible is ultimately the story of God's redemption of mankind is what will encourage our children to live this truth and share it with others. It is far too easy for both children and adults to view the Bible as series of unrelated stories and lists of rules with no central thread holding it all together.

We have found two Bibles that we go back to again and again because they do a wonderful job teaching the whole of the wonder of God's redemptive plan for us, his people.

The Jesus Storybook Bible by Sally Lloyd Jones
is the Bible that the children and I just finished re-reading (Dad and Grandma got in on the act too!).  This brightly colored and often humorous Bible captivates my children each time we read it. Lloyd Jones makes difficult subjects like redemption easier to understand.  One drawback: older children who know the Bible well may not care for the license Lloyd Jones takes in some of the stories. Each story is a brief re-telling of major Bible stories and as such does not include every detail, even some very familiar ones. For this reason, we use "big picture" Bibles as an adjunct to the actual words of Scripture in a conventional Bible.  Overall, my children's understanding of God's purposes in human history have been enhanced by reading The Jesus Storybook Bible.

The Big Picture Bible by John Helm
is another favorite that we return to again and again.  The larger format of this book makes it's illustrations especially wonderful.  In very simple terms, Helm lays out God's plans for humankind beginning with Creation. As we read, we do not want the book to come an end it is so enjoyable. Helm's presentation keeps you on the edge of your seat, wanting to know the next scene in the Divine drama.  I highly recommend this book as part of your Bible education for your children.

The Big Picture Story Bible

By David Helm
42775: The Big Picture Story Bible

The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

By Sally Lloyd-Jones
708257: The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name

Our Advent Celebration Begins

This year, I felt the Lord leading us to commemorate his birth in a more meaningful way than in year's past.  We are celebrating Advent and it has already been a blessing. It is very helpful for our whole family, parents and children, to be reminded of the "Big Picture" of the story of redemption revealed in the Bible.  Now that Christmas is coming, we are mindful of the place of the birth of Christ in this glorious  tale of our salvation.

I have created a multimedia, musically-themed Advent celebration for our family.  From a unique study presented on the site, Stand Firm, I got the idea of tying some of our daily studies to Handel's Messiah.  Handel's signature work is a story of God's redemption of mankind and includes the singing of Scripture passages.

Each night, we lift the flap on an Advent calendar that I very simply created using foam-core board, construction paper, ribbon and stickers, to find that night's Scripture verse. I could not find a calendar that would allow me to incorporate Scripture. My son reads the verse from his NIV and then I read from the KJV (the language of Handel's Messiah ).

Next, we watched the video together which everyone enjoyed.

Our Scripture for last night was Isaiah 40: 1-5.

Although some of the videos of the Messiah referenced on the Stand Firm site are no longer available, I found others that conveyed the beauty and majesty of this grand story of redemption that I was looking for online.

Here is our first video from last night's devotion:

Look for our future "Advent Celebration" posts. Jump ahead to Day 3, Messiah video.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Jonathan Park On Video: Behind The Scenes

 We were thrilled to find a video of Jonathan Park: Behind the Scenes on YouTube.  It was fun to "meet" the voices behind the characters we had come to know and love. Did you know that Jessie and her mother, Martha, characters in the drama, are mother and daughter in real life? The mom states that is a lot of fun practicing and performing with her daughter and they have been involved for many years now with the production of Jonathan Park.

If you are a Jonathan Park fan, check this out and if you are not yet a fan, take a listen and see if you and your family might enjoy listening to the series.

Find Jonathan Park in our Educational Gift Guide.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Thankful For Family

This year, as we all went around the table to say what we were grateful for before our Thanksgiving feast, we all focused on various aspects of family.  This was different than years past.

I think that the loss of Grandpa in September has made us realize how very precious we are to each other.

And for that, I am grateful.

BJU Homeschool Curriculum: Free Shipping

Looking for BJU homeschool curriculum? Go to the  Bob Jones Homeschool Store for free shipping on BJU Homeschool Curriculum packages.  See the examples below for K4 and K5.

K4 Foundations Home School Kit
063792: K4 Foundations Home School Kit

K5 Beginnings Home School Kit (3rd Edition)
207936: K5 Beginnings Home School Kit (3rd Edition)

2008 Black Friday Vision Forum Sale

Vision Forum is having a "Buy 2 Get One Free" Sale starting on Friday, November 28. Alyssa and Chase have already decided what they want- Alyssa wants two of the dolls and the baby doll carriage and Chase wants the entire Jonathan Park series on the iPod Nano.

Get your gifts soon- the sale does not last long. Happy shopping! Just click on the banner below.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

2008 Black Friday Ads

Black Friday Online.  I have had so many Black Friday specials and deals come in my e-mail from my merchant partners that I can not offer them all. I have tried to choose the best sales and deals to highlight. I hope you find something nice at a good price! Happy Shopping!

Babystyle is a source of wonderful toys and clothes for kids.
Give giggles with a 20% off discount on babystyle's high quality toys - Use promo code "FUN20"

Save 20% on toys with code

Fitz and Floyd offers a variety of home furnishings and collectibles.
Official Fitz & Floyd Site
Limited Time Event - Save 15% OFF Site Wide Plus Free Shipping! Event Ends Midnight December 1st.

15% OFF Sitewide & Free Shipping

Even jewelry is on sale this Christmas season!
Christmas Jewelry Sale - Save an Extra 20% + Free Shipping

Illy Cafe has terrific coffees and teas and related accessories.
Fabulous selection of gifts under $50 from illy for the coffee and espresso lover on your list!

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Celebrate the art of tea with unique, handpicked premium French teas from Dammann Frères.

Abbey Press is a long-time provider of religious gifts and books.
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

2008 Black Friday Sale At Old Schoolhouse Store

Homeschool curriculum and more on sale at The Old Schoolhouse Store online the day after Thanksgiving! This is the first ever so-called "Black Friday" sale that I have ever heard of just for homeschoolers! Get up to $450 in free gifts.

Stroll over to your computer in your comfy robe with a cup of coffee or tea on Friday morning and shop, shop, shop! Have fun!

Black Friday Sale

Win Prizes At Old Schoolhouse Store!

The Old Schoolhouse Store is having another fun contest in which they are offering lots of great prizes to one lucky store visitor. Click on the banner for more details.

Win Big

An early Christmas for customer #67,000 in Schoolhouse Store

Switched On Schoolhouse Reviews

Homeschool curriculum reviews can help you make decisions about curriculum choices. I have had a lot of reader interest about the Switched-On Schoolhouse curriculum by Alpha Omega so I received permission from CBD to reprint reviews here on my blog. I hope you find these helpful:

Switched-On Schoolhouse Third Grade

Average Rating:
4.5 out of 5 stars(4.5 out of 5 stars)

3 of 3 Reviews Showing:
5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Dustin Millican (New Castle, CO), October 29, 2008

I have been impressed so far, with the level of detail and the depth of resource provided. Dustin
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Deana Lyon (Poulsbo, WA), October 02, 2008

We just started to use this curriculum last week, so far we are very happy with it. The shipping was very quick, I asked for priority and got it in 2 days.
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Rosaida Thomas (Port Saint Lucie, FL), September 15, 2008

This program is working for us, the kids are enjoying the curriculum. It is a bit needy in the beginning but once you get used to making some daily reviews and adjustments "way less than a textbook curriculum" you'll find that the convenience of having things kept in order and in one place for every subject is nice. I also like that it encourages them to be detail oriented.

Switched-On Schoolhouse Fourth Grade

4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Theresa Blankenship (Highlands, NJ), September 01, 2008

They changed the OS this year, frustrating for those of us w/more that one child using the software (4 laptop upgrades on top of the software cost, 3 grades purchased). The tech support could be better, I still can't get it to burn to cd to save, so I have to leave everything on the computer and hope it doesn't get lost. Tech says to talk to "my tech dept." - that would be me! Would I recommend it - yes, if you are computer savvy and have a newer computer to use.

Switched-On Schoolhouse Sixth Grade

Average Rating:
5 out of 5 stars(5 out of 5 stars)

3 of 3 Reviews Showing:
5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Michelle Terwey (Juniata, NE), August 14, 2008

Excellent. My son likes it so much he started his school work early this year. So easy to use and very user friendly.
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Patrick Goodwin (Hiddenite, NC), July 07, 2008

This is very user friendly and does a fine job in teaching my child.The only reason it did not get five stars is because I always have to get a new science disk in order to get it to load. Other than that I really like this product.
5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Patrick Goodwin (Hiddenite, NC), May 29, 2008

We've been using switched on schoolhouse for a couple of years and really like the program.very easy to use and install and my child gets good results when she has to do the end of year test.My child says it is easy for her to use and she is 11 years old.

Switched-On Schoolhouse Ninth Grade

Average Rating:
4 out of 5 stars(4 out of 5 stars)

3 of 5 Reviews Showing:(View All Reviews)
4.5 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Lloyd Anderson (Big Sandy, TX), November 07, 2008

We have just begun the SOS curricula but so far we are very impressed. We have found the structure of the subject sets to be clear in content and systematic in approach which leads to better understanding by the student. As for now, we intend to continue using the SOS program.
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Todd Gerig (Fort Wayne, IN), October 08, 2008

Our 9th grader is doing fabulously with this curriculum. It was a wonderful experience for us to overhear him explaining something detailed he had learned in science to one of his public school friends that had not yet learned that information. We would caution parents, however, to be careful to include a writing course in your students curriculum.
4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Cathy Flight (IL), September 16, 2008

I have only been using this software for a couple of weeks now, but I do like it so far. My son has not complained about it either, so that is a good thing. I feel he will learn alot from it.

Switched-On Schoolhouse Tenth Grade

4 out of 5 stars
Reviewed by Gene Fend (Concord CA), June 26, 2008

While not perfect, the SOS program is challenging and keeps the interest of the students. Two years with over 25 students has shown a more realistic development in their studies that other curriculum we have used in the past.

If you are interested in purchasing Switched-On Schoolhouse, do not forget that CBD is offering free shipping on SOS to US addresses. Click below to find out more:

Switched-On Schoolhouse FREE SHIPPING from CBD

Monday, November 24, 2008

National Geographic Store Gift Finder

The National Geographic Store features great gifts for kids.

Check out the Shop the National Geographic Gift Finder for Kids

Top Construction Toys 2008

My research this year of the toy retail and toy manufacturing sectors turned up some wonderful products n the bestselling categories. I will be sharing these lists to help my readers with their Christmas shopping. Today's post will focus on construction toys. Take a look and see if three is anything your children may enjoy. Happy Shopping!

LEGO Star Wars Motorized AT-AT

Melissa and Doug 60-Piece Standard Unit Blocks

ZOOB ZOOB Mobile Car Designer Set

WEDGiTS Junior Set - 15 Piece Set

Quadrilla Marble Railway, Twist and Rail

K'Nex Farm Activities Picture Bricks

Gears! Gears! Gears!® Coggy Doggy¿

C9R Sportscar

Friday, November 21, 2008

Homeschool Kids Rock!

We had our Deuteronomy 6 Homeschool Co-op Achievement Night was last night and the children showed the audience their many talents. I was so very proud of all the children and their parents.

Some of the highlights of the night included piano solo performances, an interpretive dance piece (my daughter especially loved that one), a robotics demonstration (my son especially liked that) and the singing of "Jesus Loves Me" in Chinese.

I could not help but think of criticisms of homeschoolers being "too sheltered" as I watched these incredibly talented and well-rounded young people show the audience the fruits of homeschooling.

Congratulations on a job well done!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Vision Forum Homeschool

Vision Forum features many interesting and unusual materials to help you supplement your homeschool curriculum.

One of the most interesting is the Christian movie-making course. Vision forum also offers the classics of the original homeschoolers in America such as the New England primer and fascinating historical accounts such as the League of Grateful sons about the veterans of Iwo Jima. Look below and see what might inspire you today!

179720: From Script to Cinema, 10 DVD SetFrom Script to Cinema, 10 DVD Set

By Vision Forum
554280: Jonathan Park Goes to the Zoo Audio CD Set (4 CDs)Jonathan Park Goes to the Zoo Audio CD Set (4 CDs)

By Pat Roy / Vision Forum
241852: Jonathan Park Volume 1: The Adventure Begins, Audio CDJonathan Park Volume 1: The Adventure Begins, Audio CD

By The Vision Forum, Inc
43334: Of Plymouth Plantation, HardcoverOf Plymouth Plantation, Hardcover

By William Bradford / The Vision Forum, Inc
443364: Sergeant York and the Great WarSergeant York and the Great War

By The Vision Forum, Inc
431229: The League of Grateful Sons, DVDThe League of Grateful Sons, DVD

By The Vision Forum, Inc
241526: The New England PrimerThe New England Primer

By The Vision Forum, Inc
651030: The Original Blue Back SpellerThe Original Blue Back Speller

By Noah Webster / The Vision Forum, Inc
44334: The Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea DisastersThe Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters

By Logan Marshall / The Vision Forum, Inc

Answers In Genesis Homeschool Curriculum

Answers In Genesis publishes very informative materials for the homeschooler who is intent on teaching a biblical worldview. By presenting creation science as well as evolution, children are taught how to be discerning in their study of the sciences. This is so important in the educational environment in which we live today. Students are often taught not to question but to accept as truth the most popular viewpoint set of the day. I want to teach my children to think critically and to question assumptions. After all, isn't that what science is all about?

Take a look at some of what Answers In Genesis has to offer below:

401206: God"s Design Complete Curriculum PackGod's Design Complete Curriculum Pack

By Answers In Genesis
309010: Creation Mini-Series DVD PackCreation Mini-Series DVD Pack

By Answers In Genesis
251165: Noah"s Ark Puzzle: Two by Two (500 pieces)Noah's Ark Puzzle: Two by Two (500 pieces)

By Answers In Genesis
001798: Answers Academy: Biblical Apologetics for Real Life!Answers Academy: Biblical Apologetics for Real Life!

By Answers In Genesis
921780: Ancient Civilizations & the Bible: Full Family Curriculum PackAncient Civilizations & the Bible: Full Family Curriculum Pack

By Diane Waring / Answers In Genesis
907316: Answers in Genesis All-in-One Pilgrim"s Progress Combo PackAnswers in Genesis All-in-One Pilgrim's Progress Combo Pack

By Answers In Genesis
920268: Museum Guide: A Bible-Based Handbook to Natural History MuseumsMuseum Guide: A Bible-Based Handbook to Natural History Museums

By Answers In Genesis
92008X: Zoo Guide: A Bible-Based Handbook to the ZooZoo Guide: A Bible-Based Handbook to the Zoo

By Answers In Genesis