Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I've been looking for fun ways to occupy the kids while I am working, cleaning, or not feeling well this month, and an offer I couldn't refuse popped into my email box this morning. The TOS Review Crew reviewed Time4Learning earlier this year, and while I was not on that list, I did read some of the reviews. It looks to me like other kids had fun with it, so I am going to give a free trial a try. I will let you know how it worked for us in the New Year. Can you believe it is almost 2011?

Here is the disclaimer I was asked to post: I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment, and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Make note of the fact that if you are interested in trying this program out during the Christmas season (when an electronic tutor might come in handy), you can sign up, too! They have material for grades Pre-K-8. You can check out a free demo HERE.



Monday, November 29, 2010

Young Men Who Changed the World

Check out this free resource from the National Center for Family Integrated Churches.

Sign up for their free newsletter and receive a free download of "Young Men Who Changed the World," a reading of George Washington's Rules of Civility and Jonathan Edward's Resolutions. This would be a great resource for dictated copywork, particularly during moments when mom needs time to work on something else. Also, the works are fascinating just to listen to and both are a great spark for discussion...especially considering the young men were fourteen and sixteen respectively when they wrote these collections of life-principles.




A Walk in My Shoes


If you read my post from last Friday, you will recall that I was going to try to pre-view NBC's upcoming Family Movie Night movie, A Walk in My Shoes. Well, over the weekend I had the opportunity to view the movie with my son, Tex, and I wanted to tell you a bit about it.

I will tell you right off that I am a fan of NBC's idea for showcasing family-friendly movies on Friday evenings. I think this is a phenomenal idea that those of us who do watch some television should support, because our society is definitely a media-driven one and we need to get more movies and shows with positive messages out there so people can see that there is a better way to live than the pattern set by popular favorites such as The Simpsons, Married with Children, and Friends (you can tell how long it has been since I watched prime-time comedy TV by the fact that I do not know the names of any of the newer sitcoms…and I never watched the ones listed here, either….thankfully).

I want to say up front that when individuals review a product, they are doing so from their own personal bias, their set of experiences, and their worldview, so I want you to realize that while I am attempting to be as objective as possible, this review will naturally have some of my family’s preferences wrapped up in it.

That said, I want you to know that I can recommend this movie for most families. Overall, my son, Tex, and I enjoyed it, and because we really talked about the content in detail, it was a worthwhile experience for us. We enjoy reviewing things, such as movies and music and books, and consider the exercise of picking something apart detail by detail a fun way to practice skills such as comparing and contrasting, debating, making inferences and predictions, and drawing conclusions. As a result, we had fun analyzing the characters, listing both positives and negatives of the film, and figuring out what lessons each person was likely to learn, then comparing our hypotheses to what actually happened.

The film is a story about a teacher/wife/mother who is self-absorbed and rather clueless and uncaring about those around her, including her own family. Events happen and she is put into a situation where she spends time “walking” in the shoes of another mother whose husband has been killed in Iraq, is running ragged trying to support her family, and has two children who are struggling as they fall farther behind in their schoolwork because of the stressful situation at home (it’s kind of like A Christmas Carol meets Freaky Friday meets Touched by an Angel). Over the course of the movie, this teacher begins to learn to take the focus off of herself and to really pay attention to and listen to others, and that by doing so, she actually gains something, rather than loses it. The movie resolves well, with things returning to the way they ought to be, but with the teacher having learned a lesson which she takes with her to apply to her new, more aware (and less self-centered) reality.

In my book, since the movie ends “right” (with a lesson learned and a happy ending), I liked it. Tex enjoyed the discussions we had during and after the movie, and he thought that while the storyline was a bit predictable, it was decent. It wasn’t earth-shaking in its presentation or performances, but it was enjoyable for the end of a long, tiring day when we really just wanted to do something quiet to lay around and relax before bed time. I felt it was worthwhile since we did it TOGETHER, which I feel is the whole point of the Family Movie Night initiative NBC is attempting to re-start.

For those who are very conservative, I will tell you that I wasn’t thrilled with the soundtrack. Let’s just say it was LOUD. Even Tex, who listens to Contemporary Christian bands like TobyMac (not my favorite, but Hubby likes them, too), thought it was a bit over the top. Mostly, the music is as a background for some skateboarding scenes. The music pops up about three or four times as I recall. You could always mute this out. Another thing was something I noticed (and disliked), then was pleased when Tex pointed it out as a negative aspect himself. One of the boys in the movie is disrespectful to the woman he thinks is his mother (but is actually the teacher in her place)…he is impatient and flip with her in a way I would not allow in my house, and I would hope my boys (or girls) would never talk to an adult, or to each other that way. It’s not that he cursed or was overtly nasty in an angry fashion, but the way he treated her was more like how you’d talk to another kid, and not one you particularly respected (typical of today’s secular television attitudes, especially in sitcoms). Since Tex noticed this poor attitude on his own, and we talked about it, it wasn’t a problem for us, but I do prefer to watch movies where the kids are consistently kind and respectful to each other and to adults. The child in question was better in a few other scenes. Lastly, there is a character whom you get the impression is supernatural in nature, more towards the angelic end of the spectrum than anything else. She is nice, and strangely enthusiastic and peppy (she dances and sings in one scene, which we didn’t quite get the point of). She is the one who facilitates the events that occur, and by the end of the movie you get the impression that perhaps this movie is a lead-in to a potential series or at least a sequel, with her as the continuing character. There is nothing occultish about any of it…it’s more like an angelic intervention.

The movie taught several very clear lessons:
  1. Don’t judge someone else’s situation until you have walked a mile in their shoes (or at least tried to understand it),
  2. Don’t get so caught up in yourself that you fail to see the needs of others,
  3. AND as one character says at the end,  “It’s funny how when you help someone else, you heal your own wounds.”
There was one very clear mention of God and faith, and it was a positive one. I will try to share the brief conversation as accurately as I can recall. One character (a child) asked the other (an adult), “Do you believe in God?” The adult answered, “Yeah.” The child commented, “I just don’t get it. Where was he when my dad died?” The adult answered, “Right there beside him.” I felt that was a great answer.

I would recommend supporting this movie for several reasons: First, it is a good idea to support family-friendly initiatives whenever we can. If was are too judgmental and particular about things, we will never make any inroads into improving the general culture, and improvements definitely need to be made. I do not mean we should compromise our values for the sake of making a difference, but that we should choose our battles and be glad for small steps when they come. Second, it does make for a good discussion of culture, behavior, choices, etc. with older children. I liked that the oldest son (the son of the mother who was working so hard) was working after school to help pay the bills. What a novel idea in today’s general society! Also, the man who becomes their neighbor reaches out and helps the family through some troubled times (and there is no romantic involvement in it for him, either). It is a good demonstration of “loving your neighbor.” I would probably not have my younger children watch it (for more conservative viewers) due to the music and the occasional disrespect shown by a few of the characters, but I do not think that watching it with ages nine or ten and up would be a problem. Children this age are mature enough to spot poor attitudes when they see them, and to draw correct conclusions about them. Lastly, it IS a great idea to spend time together with your family, and after a busy day, watching and discussing a movie with a big bowl of popcorn to share sounds like a fun thing to do on a chilly December night...

A Walk in My Shoes will be showing on NBC on Friday, December 3rd, at 8 pm EST/ 7 pm CST. Thanks to Walmart and P&G products for supporting this Family Movie Night initiative.

You can watch the movie trailer HERE. You can see a synopsis of the movie and request a FB event reminder for the movie showing HERE. You can find out more about the Family Movie Night initiative HERE. Don’t forget to spread the word, so they will continue to bring more family-friendly movies to prime time TV. Thanks.



Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sermon Sunday---Family Driven Faith

If you have seen my reading list on my right sidebar, you may have noted that one of my books for this month was Family Driven Faith by Voddie T. Baucham, Jr.. He was the keynote speaker at my oldest son's graduation ceremony last year and is a man I greatly admire. He is a fantastic preacher, and from what I have read in his book, he seems to be a wonderful father and husband, too. I highly recommend the book. I have both enjoyed reading it and learned a lot from it.

I found a collection of some of his sermons on the link I am sharing with you HERE, for Sermon Sunday. I hope you will listen to one, or a few of them. I can tell you with confidence that they will be worth your while. I think my favorite is The Centrality of the Home in the Evangelism and Discipleship of the Next Generation, so if you only have time to listen to one of them, you might wish to start there.

I pray you had a blessed Thanksgiving with your loved ones, and that you found much for which to be grateful. I also pray that you have a pleasant and productive week as we look towards Christmas and the celebration of the gift of our Lord and Savior's birth.



Friday, November 26, 2010

Family Movie Night

One tradition our family really enjoys is that of family movie night. Each week, I either make or order a pizza or two, and we all snuggle in and watch a movie together, usually on Fridays, Lately, it is a movie from Netflix, via disk in the mail or instant download. Sometimes, though rarely, we do find something to watch on the television…I say rarely, because it is hard to find suitable family-oriented material on network tv these days. Actually, it got so bad that about six months ago we canceled our cable subscription and went entirely to Netflix and dvds only (with mom sneaking in an occasional viewing of a favorite program on Hulu after the kids are in bed). I mean, even IF you could find something you all wanted to watch, the commercials were so bad that you had to send the kids out of the room while they ran, or tell them to close their eyes and go, “Lalalalalalala!” the entire time. You’ve got to wonder what they are thinking when they run those horror film commercials during a children’s program, or the lingerie ones during a supposedly “family-oriented” series. Obviously, as I think we are all aware, the morals of Hollywood do NOT generally line up with those of conservative families.

However, earlier this week, I received an email saying that NBC is re-instituting their Family Movie Night series on Friday nights. Now, to me, that seems like a step in a positive direction. First of all,, it encourages families to do something TOGETHER instead of each person doing something different in  different rooms of their houses, like planets with divergent orbits. Secondly, they are attempting to step up to the plate and start showing titles that are suitable for the ENTIRE family, so that when the families do this activity together, they are not compromising their values to do so. I think this is a phenomenal idea. Yes, I agree that folks can do what we did and get rid of their cable subscription, and maybe even their televisions, and this will solve the problem, too. But let’s face it, a lot of folks are NOT going to do that. Television is here to stay.

Thus, the next best thing, in my mind, is to work on improving the quality of what is offered on the networks, whether we tend to watch it regularly or not. Why would we want to do this? Because improving the mores of society benefits us by helping others, one family at a time. If other families have the opportunity to view programming that draws them closer together, encourages them think about the importance of making wise choices, and shows examples of positive interactions with other people (instead of the constant ridiculing and harassing you see in most “comedies” these days, or the hate and violence of most police shows, or the occult and sexual undertones of many others), then that is a really good thing. Think of the excellent dialogues that could potentially happen in households all over the country, and the positive influences of just a few young people who see something better and decide they would like to work towards THAT instead of the mediocrity and the “make myself happy to the exclusion of all else” attitude found in so many shows that are popular today. I just LOVE this idea of a Family Movie Night on network television. I truly am hopeful that it is a step in the right direction…

But, to make this happen, they need support. If people do not watch the family-friendly movies and make it very clear that they are excited about them, they will not last long. Television is about making money and the sponsors need to know that their investment is going to pay off. So here is what we have to do…we have to support this initiative and make our approval of it known. A strong showing of support by viewers like you and me will send the message that we, the viewers, want MORE family-friendly shows (and advertisers), and maybe, just maybe, we can help turn the tide in a small way, one time-slot at a time. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that choosing to not watch one show is no big deal…every “vote” counts, and you HAVE to start somewhere.

I have seen the trailer to the movie, and it looks like this is a worthwhile place to start. Imagine how much happier families will be after they spend some time together on the couch, eating popcorn, and talking about what they are watching (and finding it has a redeeming message)? I know it sounds like such a small thing, but I distinctly remember times when we first started Family Movie Night at our house and Bubba would complain that the movies were too “babyish” for him, yet by the end of the film, he’d be laughing (or sniffling, when appropriate) just like the rest of us. Those are memories I treasure, and I truly believe that our time together and our discussions made a positive difference in our relationships (and continue to do so).

Check out the trailer HERE.

Here’s what you can do to help support this budding initiative:
  1. Watch the movie trailer HERE. I think you will find it interesting.
  2. You can find a synopsis of the movie HERE. You can request a FB event reminder on this page, as well. You can also find more about the Family Movie Night initiative HERE.
  3. Make note of the movie, A Walk in My Shoes, on your calendar for Friday, December 3rd at 8 pm EST/7 pm CST and WATCH IT!
  4. Tell your friends and other family members about this movie and encourage them to watch it. You can give them the link to my blog so they, too, can watch the trailer and get excited about it, too.
  5. Announce the movie using your Twitter and Facebook accounts (for example: FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT airs on NBC, Friday, Dec. 3; 8pm EST) and even blog about it, like I am. Spread the word!
  6. “Like” the group Family Movie Night on Facebook. You can also watch a brief preview video on FB HERE.
  7. Encourage your friends (and yourself) to comment about the movie, and its sponsors, on the FB page. Let them know what you liked and how you appreciated the move towards more family-friendly programming. Let them know if you review the movie on your blog, too.
  8. Plan a fun (and simple) meal for Friday, December 3rd, (like pizza or nachos), stock up on popcorn and your family’s favorite snacks and drinks, and prepare to have a memorable experience…together. Moms and dads, don’t miss the chance to discuss the show and what it teaches. It looks like it will be a good learning opportunity.
I am really hoping that this movie will live up to the promise of the preview I have seen. If I get an opportunity to view the movie early, I will certainly review it here and let you know all about it ASAP. In the meantime, I remain hopeful and excited, not so much for us (since we already do Family Movie Night) as for other families that this might open a door to better relationships, values, and happy memories for them. Let’s all pray that something like this can truly be a step in a good direction…every little bit helps.

Blessings to you all for a happy, healthy, and DELICIOUS Thanksgiving. I pray this holiday finds you safe in the arms of your loved ones, and if you are apart, I pray that you know your are missed and will soon find yourself home again.


Big Boy Bunk Beds

Since Bubba moved out a while back, Tex has been enjoying the benefits of having a room to himself.

 However, the time has come for Cowboy to move out of the upstairs room he was sharing with the girls, and into the "boys' room" downstairs.

Drawbacks: Not sharing your room with the other amigos,
having to move downstairs away from Mommy (a bit scary).
Benefits: Bunkbeds, space stickers on your wall

At first, I think the drawbacks outweighed the benefits, but as soon as we pointed out all the many things bunkbeds are good for, such as making tents, playing ship, and having sleepovers, he was sold.

Here are a few pictures of Cowboy's big day.
You're a big boy now, sweet one. Congratulations!
We sure do love you...and so far, Tex is happy with his roomie.
He doesn't take up much space yet, after all.
Though his stuffed animals seem to be multiplying...

A test run in the bunk beds...

Not too big and scary...more room for the animals!

I think I like it!

The first official sleepover...interrupted by Cowboy falling asleep.

For safety conscious Mamas (like me), know that we did add the appropriate railings for the beds the next day. Hubby just had to...wait for it...go to Lowe's to get a new drill bit. Does that happen at your house, too? You know they know his name over there...I wonder if they offer frequent shopper points? LOL.



Monday, November 22, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you are looking forward to the rest of the week with anticipation, towards the WONDERFUL menus planned for Thursday’s celebration. Are you getting together at someone else’s house or is everybody coming to yours? If they are all coming over to your house, then I am certain you will be busy this week, not only with cooking, but with cleaning! I am blessed this year to be meeting my family over at my brother and sister-in-law’s house Thursday afternoon. That means I DO have to cook, but I do NOT have to go crazy cleaning my house. Yay!

If you know me personally, you will know that I have been dealing with some health issues lately. I have quite a few tests on the schedule, so I am kind of keeping the menu simple and some of it is pre-made. That’s okay, right? Frozen foods are there for a reason, and this is one of them. I wish I had made the frozen foods we will use myself, but I am not “there” yet. My family eats all I make, if not the day I make it, they finish it off for leftover lunches and occasional do-it-yourself dinners. One of these days (when I have a bigger freezer or a separate unit in the garage), I will get to the cooking once a week and freezing it for a rainy day.

Here goes, and again, have a Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday: Ravioli, with marinara and a fresh veggie/cheese plate (carrots, celery, lettuce, and cheddar slices with dip and crackers).
Tuesday: Nacho night. Plus, a dear friend who was concerned for me, stopped by and brought us our favorite Dominoes pizza. Thank you, Lady L.!
Wednesday: Pizza and breadsticks. We love DiGiorno,  if it’s not delivery!.
Thursday: Our menu: Turkey and stuffing, honey ham, mashed potatoes and gravy, candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top, green bean casserole, macaroni and cheese, cranberry-marshmallow salad, pasta salad, cranberry sauce, blueberry muffins, rolls and homemade jam, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, and banana cream pie. (I am making the green bean casserole, stuffing, mac and cheese, and banana cream pie.)
Friday: Leftovers. Yum. I think everything tastes better the second day. Or maybe it is the fact that you don’t have to cook it all that makes it taste better…
Saturday: Scalloped potato and ham casserole served with green beans and apple sauce.
Sunday: Turkey and veggie casserole with noodles. Crockpot apple crisp.

Thanksgiving blessings to all of you,


Monday, November 15, 2010

Gratitude Challenge---Day 15---Autumn Leaves

Today I am grateful for all of the beautiful colors the Lord has made for us to enjoy, and for how He showcases so many of them during the autumn when the leaves change before they fall. I think this year’s performance has been spectacular, and we have all been appreciating it as we drive down our country roads, lined on both sides with arching trees, making a tunnel of reds, oranges, and yellows. Today the children were eager to get outside, so they could rake up some of the many-colored leaves, and enjoy their fallen state by jumping fearlessly into crackling piles of them. Here are some pictures of their adventures.

I hope these pictures remind you of past carefree days when you were a child reveling in the fun of jumping in leaf piles, or bring to mind memories of the joy of your own children taking pleasure in the fruits of their (leaf-raking) labors. I know being there brought a huge smile to my face.

PB154567   PB154569
PB154570 PB154572
PB154576a PB154577
PB154579  PB154581
PB154583 PB154585
PB154589 PB154593 
PB154594 PB154596
PB154602  PB154604

Now, get off that computer and go rake some leaves with your kids (if there are any kids or any leaves to be raked…borrow your neighbor’s kids if you must!). You will be glad you did.

And while you are outside, don’t forget to thank your Heavenly Father for His beautiful (and fun!) gifts…



If you are interested, you can read more Gratitude Challenge entries at Garden of Learning.

Discover the Corps of Re-Discovery—Tomahawk Kit

The Corps of Discovery was the name President Thomas Jefferson gave to Lewis and Clark’s party as he commissioned them to find an east-west water passage to the Pacific Ocean over 200 years ago.  Their goal was to explore what lies around the next river bend, to seek out new life and new cultures, to boldly discover what had never been discovered before.

We are the Corps of Re-Discovery. 

We are husband and dad, John, wife and mother, Katie, and sons Eric, Nicholas and Joshua.  We have been home schooling our children all their lives and have thrived on adventures and exploration.  Although we did not coin the phrase we focused on “lighting the fire, not just filling the bucket” in our educational approach.
Working together as a family, we have found and created great project kits to enrich your studies of American Indians, Frontiersmen and Pioneer Americans so you, too can "re discover" America.  With John’s creative flair and Katie’s quality control and procedure writing training, we are proud to offer high-quality engaging products with directions children can understand.  We want to help you inspire imaginations and create memories!
PB154611                PB154612
Our family was chosen to review the Tomahawk Kit from the Corps of Re-Discovery. We were very excited because the little kids would finally be able to be included in one of our reviews. This is a picture of what came in the kit that we received in the mail: a stick with predrilled hole and precut slit, a leather thong, a die cut piece of hard leather shaped like a tomahawk head, and an instruction sheet.
PB154614               PB154618
I put Tex in charge of getting this project done. He is thirteen and I figured he was capable of supervising the work. Here are some of the tools the kids gathered to help them with their activity: a hammer and screwdrivers to “score” the leather to make it look older, scissors to cut the leather thong, permanent markers to decorate the tomahawk, and a pizza cutter, also for making lines on the leather.
PB154615               PB154616
According to the directions, you are supposed to decorate the handle first, so the little ones got started on that, while Tex worked on distressing the leather “tomahawk head” with the pizza cutter, screwdriver, and hammer.
PB154617                PB154620
The next step was to insert the head, which Tex let Cowboy help with. Cowboy was getting very excited by this point, since he had been told that the resulting tomahawk would be his. The boys chose to leave their tomahawk head natural, so it was more like stone, and would be more native. If you wanted it to be a tomahawk a frontiersman used, you could paint it black, like metal.
PB154621                PB154622
Then, Tex started wrapping the head with the leather string to secure it to the handle. This was fairly simple to do, although I think Tex wished that the instructions had more pictures (he’s very visual). This project did not require glue of any sort since the leather strap’s end was tucked up under the wrapped portion. It will be interesting to see if this method of fastening bears up under use…In fact, I think I may heap some glue on the ends anyway to avoid a disappointed Cowboy in a week or so.
Here is a picture of our finished product. I think the kids did a nice job on it, and it was encouraging to see them work so well together as a team. I did help when it came time to tuck the strap under the loops to secure it, as Tex didn’t want to risk it coming undone, but he (age 13) certainly could have done it himself, had I not been available. The little ones (ages 5 and 7) were a bit young to do the entire project without supervision, though I think Ladybug could have completed it passably well on her own, had the instructions been given to her verbally (they were at times complex, for all the simplicity of the project…I don’t think it is the product at fault, I think it is just that we are all very visual).
   PB154623               PB154624
As you can see, Cowboy is thrilled with his new toy. Ladybug and Firefly have Native American costumes in the dress up trunk, and now Cowboy has something along those lines, too. Maybe we can make him a vest out of a paper sack this week, and they can all pretend to be the Native Americans who participated in The First Thanksgiving. They have plenty of play food with which to act that out, and we can research which foods were actually there, so their knowledge of history can be based on source documents instead of story books. It certainly is a timely project, and one I think they enjoyed quite a bit.
In all, making the tomahawk only took about half an hour (it might have been faster had we not included the little ones). My kids elected to do it outside, because the leaves were so pretty and the atmosphere seemed to fit the project. The necessary tools were simple (you could have done it with only a few markers, or even without those, if you did not have time), and there are many possibilities for making the project more complex to suit more advanced learners (such as having them look up what markings and colors would actually have been on a tomahawk, finding out which tribes carried them and what were their primary uses, and discovering what materials would really have been used to make one). You could also have decorated more complexly, using paints and feathers instead of markers. It would make a good wrap-up to a study on certain tribes of Native Americans (or Frontiersmen, as tomahawks later became a part of their standard equipment), if you can’t find somewhere nearby to go on a field trip (or in addition to the field trip…as a souveneir).
For the cost of $7.99 (currently $5.50 on sale), you can purchase one of these Tomahawk kits for your own children to enjoy at the Corps of Re-Discovery website. Other project kits start as low as $3.49 and the variety is fantastic…they have kits for Colonial Studies, Native American Studies, Pioneer Studies, and Frontiersmen Studies. They sell items individually, as well as in kits grouped by time period, which would be perfect educational tools for the tactile and crafty child. I think this is the perfect time of year for a project such as this, because older children (I think ages 8 and up) could do the projects alone or even be in charge of helping their younger siblings complete them…all while you bake cookies, or address cards, or catch up on your cleaning. This company offers so many kits, your problem will not be deciding whether or not to get one, it will be deciding which one to get. Because we have been studying the United States this year, and have boys at the right ages to appreciate the hands-on activity, this was a perfect project for us. However, I would have loved to try any one of the other kits…maybe I will have to pick up a few more of them to use as Christmas gifts…I have a friend whose kids would love these, too. Hmmmmm.
I think the materials are simple enough that some folks could gather them and do this on their own, without ordering this kit, BUT you have to understand, that you will need many more tools, much more time, and it will require a lot more of the instructor’s own efforts. You will also have to gather all of the materials on your own, and for the reasonable price being asked, I think the value of one of these kits can’t be beat. I also think these kits would make fun stocking stuffers, if you do that sort of thing. I had Ladybug help on this project, but all the while, she had her eye on the clothespin doll project that I had bought when we were in Iowa this summer at the Living History Farm (which I had stored together with this kit…and paid more money than I would have if I had bought it from here! In fact, I was at a local historic facility recently and they had similar kits as what is available on this site and they were asking twice what is being asked here). In any case, most kids just LOVE to make things, and handmade items are so much more precious to them than most store bought toys.
If you would like to read more reviews about this product and others from this company from the TOS Review Crew, you can click HERE.


Disclaimer: I was given the Tomahawk Kit in exchange for posting an honest review here on my blog. The experiences you read above are our own, and I do not expect that yours will be exactly the same. Please know that I value my reputation and will always be as forthright as possible. I will not recommend a product I feel is a poor one, but I understand the truth of “different strokes for different folks,” as well. If you have further questions about MY experiences with this product, please feel free to contact me.

Menu Plan Monday

Our week is looking to be a busy one (as usual!). We have two doctor’s visits, a handyman coming by mid-week, and I have a review due today, so I am trying to keep it simple. To me, simplicity is part of the definition of the word “crockpot,” so I am working a few of those recipes in this week. Tex, Hubby, and the kids also each put in a request, which I will fit in for sure. I had fun perusing my cookbooks and online resources today for about half an hour.

Do you like looking at cookbooks, too? It is one of our favorite things, for both girls and boys. Now the boys look at slightly different cookbooks than the girls (think Alton Brown instead of Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens), but we all enjoy the hunt and reward of finding a true “keeper.”

In any case, here’s what I came up with:

Monday: Crockpot Enchiladas. I couldn’t find a recipe I liked 100%, so I made one up with everything I wanted. It turned out great! I am planning to serve this with Spanish rice, lettuce, tomato, and sour cream on the side.

Tuesday: We will be out of the house on this day while some work is done on the house, so we will be having dinner with Nanny and Poppy.

Wednesday: Tex has requested a recipe I barely remember making, but I’d better figure out what I did fast! He wants Crockpot Pizza Pasta. He said he remembers that it was delicious! (How could I have lost track of something like that?) I will post the recipe once I figure it out.

Thursday: BBQ Chicken, scalloped potatoes, corn, and salad.

Friday: Pizza night. Our favorite order-out pizza is from Dominoes, two medium two topping pizzas for $5.99 each. We order one with white sauce, pineapple, and ham, and the other with red sauce, bacon, and ham. We always ask them to double-cut it into sixteen slices so the pieces are easier to handle for little ones. We also waste less pizza that way.

Saturday: We recently found my quesadilla maker, so the kids are raring to try it out. We will probably stick to cheese quesadillas, with a side of refried beans, salsa, and sour cream.

Sunday: While hunting for Crockpot Enchilada recipes, I came across a good one for Crockpot Mac and Cheese, so I will start that before we leave for church, then Hubby will grill Nathan’s hot dogs when we get home to go with it.

I still owe the kids a batch of caramel apples, and they have been clamoring for cookies, so hopefully I will find time to accomplish both of those things this week.

I hope your week is a delicious one.



Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sermon Sunday---Hymns

festival and birds 020

Last week I posted some of my favorite worship songs. The children and I have been listening to them all week, and even learning some of the signs to some of them. This week, I think I will post links to some of my favorite hymns, so we can enjoy these timeless classics all this week. Each of these song is a traditional hymn sung by a contemporary band. I only chose ones that stayed fairly true to the original tunes.

Our local Christian station does a program each Sunday morning from 8-9 am that features hymns like these, interspersed with inspirational stories about the hymn writers and missionaries. We enjoy listening to it as we eat our breakfast in the morning, but wish they played similar programming all week. Here is a link to their site where you can stream whatever is currently playing, if you are interested in listening with your own family,

I pray blessings for you and your families this week. Thank you to any who served our country in the past or who currently serve, especially those who are currently absent from their families, for whatever reason. Your sacrifices of time, convenience, and sometimes even health and/or life are deeply appreciated by my family.



'Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus

Blessed Assurance 

How Great Thou Art

In Christ Alone 

Great Is Thy Faithfulness 

My Jesus I Love Thee

I Need Thee Every Hour

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing 

Here’s a slightly different, but popular take on the
classic hymn, Amazing Grace, by Chris Tomlin:

And last, but not least, my favorite hymn,
Be Thou My Vision, sung by Selah.

Please take the time to listen to this one. It is a very well-done version of the song, and quite beautiful. 

If you enjoy this song, I highly recommend Selah’s entire Greatest Hymns album, as well as Avalon: Faith, A Hymns Collection. Both are inspiring and uplifting.


I hope you enjoyed hearing some of our favorite hymns, and maybe even sang along with the ones you knew! Our Heavenly Father loves to hear our voices raised in praise of Him. We should do this everyday, not just on Sundays…why don't you try this week to make every day a SON-day?

Blessings for a week full of praise,


A final word on singing hymns: Here’s a freebie the whole family can enjoy, even if you don’t have any formal training in singing. Visit The Genevan Foundation to hear a full harmony version of another favorite of ours, Crown Him With Many Crowns, then you can also listen to each of the four parts SEPARATELY, so each voice type in your household can learn their part before putting it all together in harmony. If you like what you hear, you can order a cd collection of more songs for your family to practice as a household. Enjoy!

Gratitude Challenge---Day Fourteen---Technology


Today I am thankful for Technology. Sometimes, I will admit that it seems as if technology is this insidious creature trying to take over our lives…For example, think about the times you just sit down to dinner, only to have the phone ring, or the times you are trying to do something fun with the family and as though it seems your husband’s cell phone won’t stop ringing. Then there are the times when your kids clamor to watch a movie…again…in spite of the fact that the temperature outside is ideal and you just want them to go out and play. Or the times when it seems your teenager doesn’t want to unplug from conquering the (virtual) world long enough to play a REAL board game with the family. There are also the times that it seems technology is out to get you. The times when your computer or wifi connections crash, just when you need them to work so you can post a review or order a birthday gift...

But don’t forget all the times you have been blessed by technology. What would you have done the last time the car stalled (or ran out of gas) on a lonely country road without a cell phone to call the auto service? Remember how Facebook helped you reconnect with a childhood friend, or lonely relative? Don’t forget the fun times you’ve had on family pizza and a movie night, watching movies that blessed you, after a busy day of work. And then there is that online class your teen is taking, and the one you might take to work on your graduate degree…there are also all of those AWESOME free online educational materials archived at places like homeschool-for-free (a shameless plug for my website!). What would you do without them during those lean times in your home educating journey when you weren’t sure you could afford a math curriculum?

Then there are the blogs you follow, just to keep in touch, and the discussion boards you post on that keep you sane. I know you must also love the online access to some of your favorite magazines and newspapers, and the access to free educational video clips on sites like YouTube, not to mention the free music you find there, and on sites like Pandora. Or for those times when you do want to watch a TV show you used to like, but you got rid of your cable, so you turn to hulu.com, where you can watch it for free! And you gotta love Netflix, because they have great educational content and old movies, too. Research has never been easier, thanks to the internet, and it often seems as if a gateway to the world is at our fingertips. Most of all, you can’t forget the blessings of email. Keeping in touch with friends and family has never been easier!

As for me, I also love the thrill of discovering something new almost every day. My son keeps telling me to try Google Chrome. He says it is awesome. I will have to do that one day soon, For now, I have an acquaintance who recommended using Windows Live Writer, so that is what I decided to try today (since I needed to post anyway).

I hear there are fun fonts on Windows Live Writer, plus it edits for you, so here is me, trying it out. How does it look? Which font do you like best? Hey, I think this is pretty cool!

june2010 009

Ooooh, I really think I like this! How come I didn’t try this before? Silly me! I love trying out new things. I am very thankful today for technology. I love the convenience of my laptop and am fascinated with all of the interesting educational opportunities available on the internet. Especially the free ones. Between memes, blogs, and testing new products, our school year has been keeping us very busy and always filled with new things. Fun things like this.

Wow, this Windows Live Writer product is great!

I think I am hooked!!



Saturday, November 13, 2010

2010 Gratitude Challenge---Day Thirteen---My Husband

 The kids comb the sandy beach, looking for shark teeth and shells.

 Going farther afield and finding some whale bone.

Never pass up a photo opportunity! 

If you can't find any fossils, at least you can have fun climbing all this neat stuff!

Total Take:
2 shark teeth
Five large pieces of old whale bone
more than a dozen really cool large shells
a few smooth, white rocks
something porous and black that floats...not sure what it is
a neat stick

Today I am thankful that I have a husband who is flexible enough to take the kids on a fun field trip at a moment's notice. One of our friends, the same one who told us about Yorktown Day, called and invited Hubby and the kids to accompany him and his two boys on a fossil hunting trip to their favorite local spot this morning. Many husbands would have said they had other stuff to do, or mabye even grudgingly gone along with it, but mine went with childlike enthusiasm and enjoyed every minute. I think it is because when he gets home from work, all of his grown-up is used up, so he fits in with the kids quite nicely, relaxing by being silly and playing around. This is not ALWAYS convenient, but it does work well when it comes to having someone around who is willing to entertain the kids, and love on them unconditionally.

The fact that Hubby was good with kids was one of the things that appealed to me when I first met him. Thankfully, that characteristic has not changed. He loves our kids and treasures every moment he spends with them. They can tell this is true, and they adore him back. Sometimes, he will stay up late telling them silly stories about ridiculous characters who go on unimaginable quests. I keep telling him he needs to write them down and sell them as a book. The kids sure laugh non-stop whenever he obliges them with a story, and they always badger him for more.

He also doesn't mind dragging them along whenever he goes about doing things at home. Also, each time he leaves the house, he takes one kid, and he usually finds some sort of treat to give them while they are out. From a pack of gum to a dollar ice cream cone, whatever it is becomes extra-special because it was received during "Daddy time." Kids need their dads, and mine may not have him around all the time the way we'd like, but when he is around they always get a double-dose. Thanks, honey, for being a good father to our kids.

Take time to thank the special people in your life today. Imagine how life would be without them for a moment, and tell them what they mean to you. It will mean a lot to them.



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