Wednesday, March 29, 2017

City on a Hill Studio- Manhood Journey Homeschool Review Crew Review

Life was easy when I had just girls.  Really it was.  As long as you dressed them in pink and talked about rainbows and ponies, things went well.  OK, maybe it wasn't quite that simple, but it seemed like it at the time.  Especially now that I have two boys.  Things don't seem as easy anymore.

So when we got the opportunity to review Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit by Manhood Journey and City on a Hill Studio- I said yes, please!  A chance for my husband to use a review product and fill me in? even better!

Father's Starter Kit | Manhood Journey

Let's chat about what is included-
The Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit includes a group discussion guide, a one on one guide to be used for fathers/mentors and sons, a DVD which introduces all 6 modules and can be used for promotion purposes,  and 10 "maprochures" which can also be used to advertise the program to your intended groups well as let you see what the additional module choices are.  Also included as a bonus is the book Wise Guys -Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You by Manhood Journey co-founder, Kent Evans.

So what is this thing called Manhood Journey?  Think of it as a cross between a Bible Study and Mentoring young men program.  This non-denominational program helps fathers (or other significant men in your sons' lives) disciple and mentor your sons, ages 8-17.   Each module (the starter kit contains the module Embarking) is meant to take six weeks to complete.  Based on your personal needs and interests, you can choose the order in which you want to do the modules.

Module titles include-

Working Well
Manhood Myths
Clean Hearts
Standing Strong
Leading Lessons

Father's Starter Kit | Manhood JourneyUsing Manhood Journey-
It's easy really!  This is one of those open and go programs, which is a good thing since I handed it to my husband and said- go!  Each session (week) starts with a Word for Dad to help prepare him for the lesson.  It gives the theme for the week, supplies the Bible verses that will be covered, and gives some fun ideas to use to engage your sons.  Each session is then broken down into 4 parts.  Building Our Relationship gets dad and son warmed up and talking.  Knowing God's Word allows them to read and study God's word while applying it to everyday life.  Serving Others is the section that allows them to take the lessons learned and apply them to their everyday lives- putting words into action.  The last section, Talking With God, is a time for prayer to wrap up their time together.  The guide actually tells you what to say, suggests questions and conversations starters, and give you activities to tie into the lessons.  While there are assignment suggestions like drawing things you are discussing, there are also practical suggestions like go outside and throw a football together.  Make no mistake, this is intended for men and sons to use.  Sorry moms, you are out this time.  Each lesson can take about 40-60 minutes to complete.  Because my husband just used this program with our 15 year old, he used the 1 on 1 guide.  If you intend to use it with a group of young men, for example in a youth group, you would use the group discussion guide.

Study begins with the “Five Big Rocks,” or attributes, of a godly man, which father and son are encouraged to memorize.
1. Trust God
2. Know his Word
3. Pray Fervently
4. Build relationships
5. Serve others

The chapters for Embarking include-
  • Week 1: Preparing for the Journey
  • Week 2: Setting Out on the Journey
  • Week 3: Relying on the Compass
  • Week 4: Seeking Guidance Along the Way
  • Week 5: Encountering Others Along the Journey
  • Week 6: We Have Embarked- Where to Next?
While I think it was rather awkward for my guys to get started, they did fine once they got started.  The laid back, conversational bent to this program allows for easy father-son interaction.  It is set up so you can make it fit your needs, as you pick and choose what to discuss.  While it is hard not to listen in, I would encourage you moms out there to let the guys take charge and make this their time with your sons.  So often for moms, at least for me, it is easy to jump into a conversation.  Let's make this a special time for our husbands to take charge and mentor the boys in our lives.  I think you will find it is a blessing to them all.

A note about Wise Guys
Friends, I love this book!  Kent Evans wrote this book to inspire young men in their life journey.  Taking examples from his own life, he introduces men who have made a difference in his life and shares the lessons he learned from each of them.   Here's why I love this book.  In my experience, preaching to boys about the things you want them to learn just doesn't work.  Your mouth opens, their ears close, right?  But when a man tells a story, people listen.  Especially younger men.  It just works somehow.  We haven't shared this book with our son yet, but we are excited to do so.  I think he will enjoy Kent's humor and honesty.  It is also my prayer that he will learn a few lessons along the way!

Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}

Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 27, 2017

34 Weeks of Clean Rinse and Repeat Week 12- The Family Room and DVDs

After Week 10's assignment of bathrooms and last week's entryway assignment, I do have to wonder how many of you still like me! Or are sticking around.  I promise this week is not quite as hard (mostly) and it may even be a week off for a few of you.  If that is the case, you can use this week to catch back up on any unfinished weeks.  Like books!  Just saying ;)

So this week we are headed to the family room.  Or den.  Or whatever you choose to call the place where you spend time as a family.  Ours is currently in our basement and does not get as much traffic because of that.  It is, however, a hang out place for the kids and their friends, and is where we retreat on Fridays for family nights and weekends to hide from the world.

My favorite view in this room!

Here we go!
  • First things first, so clear out the clutter.  One of the things that seems to happen when we stay in one place for any length of time is that we collect things in piles.  Somehow those piles just grow in layers and we start to not even notice the piles.  Now is the time to notice the piles!  And get rid of them!  Take everything out of the room that you can for now.  You can put it back (some of it, that is) after we deep clean!  I know it takes a lot of effort, but by starting with a clean slate, you can better see what your needs are.  It is also a pretty stark reminder of how much STUFF you have accumulated without even noticing.
We have an obvious obsession with quilts!
  • Now on to the dusting!  Bet you will be surprised at how dusty the tops of things are.  A good waxing of hard furniture will keep it looking like new!  With all of your shelves empty, this is pretty easy to do.
  - Don't forget to dust or wash any artificial plants or flowers.  Helpful hint, if you leave them out to dry, make sure you put them out of reach of DUMB dogs who think they look good enough to eat!  Yep, that happened!

  • If you have windows, curtains, and mini- blinds in this room, you know what to do!  Wash curtains or at least shake them out, wash windows, and tackle those silly min-blinds.  Or you could trash them, just saying! ;)
  • Don't forget to wipe off or vacuum lampshades, light fixtures and switches!
  • On to the soft furniture.  One sure fire way to tell you have kids is to check the nooks and crannies of your couches.  YUCK!  You never know what you will find there!  If you have slipcover type furniture, I would encourage you to wash them.  Just think about how many sweaty bodies have sat on them in the past year.  Leather polish will help restore any leather furniture as well.  Wash any throws and pillows you have, and replace only what you really love and use!
  • Floors and baseboards are next. Mop, vacuum, whatever it takes!
We had a few technical difficulties, but Ashton got it fixed.  Thank goodness she is the vacuuming queen!
  • And now the fun part.  NOT!  This is the room we house our DVDs, so guess what?  We are clearing out DVDs.   Luckily, Riley is the queen of movies and loves to organize them, so she does this every time she comes home to visit.  You can see that even though we just did this last year, there were still videos we decided it was time to let go of.   Some were old VHS tapes and we decided it was time to let them go, or movies that every time I pull them out and say "let's watch this" I get moans and groans.  No need to keep the ones we keep avoiding!  I made a list of a few we would eventually like to replace with DVDs, but we will see if they are really missed first. 

  •  This area in our home houses my work area for now.  I did straighten it up a bit (trust me it is an improvement) but I left the bigger task of organizing it until our "office" week.  Let's avoid that for a bit longer, how about? 
  • Before you walk away with a smile on your face for a job well done, take one last look around! Do you have stuff just filling a space?  Do you love everything you see?  Does it have a purpose?  Because 34 Weeks of Clean is just not about cleaning,  but also about taking back our homes in the clutter department, I challenge you to get rid of extras.  If you don't love it or use it, lose it!  Time to clear out the clutter!  Everything you have sitting around takes up space- physical and mental.  Surround yourself with only the things you love- move out the rest.
I have been sharing the prizes our friends at Redeemed and 621 Gifts are blessing one participant with (who shows us their weekly progress on our Family, Faith and Fridays Facebook page), so this week I thought I would show you what we are adding to the fun!  Yes, it contains some of our favorite cleaning products including a glass cleaning cloth from Norwex, some bath salts to pamper yourself after all of your hard work, and my favorite book on de-cluttering, Clutter Free, by Kathi Lipp!  You will love her, she makes me laugh!

Get to work, my friends, and have a beautiful week!


Friday, March 24, 2017

Adoption Aggravations

If you follow me on facebook you might have already seen this but-

This really happened...

While at a gas station in the south on our way home, Colby started dancing around. The attendant teased him about dancing, and he answered her shyly. She then turned to Salem and said and I quote, "Wow, he speaks really good English. How long has he been here?"


Yep, kid you not. Some days, even Salem is left speechless!

I try to be polite and honest about our adoption, I mean, when we are all together it is pretty obvious he is adopted, but sometimes, there are just no words.

And sometimes, like that day, it is probably a good thing I wasn't there to respond.

I try not to be a smartie pants.  After all, I want to educate people about the blessings of adoption.  But ya'll, sometimes I simply want to roll my eyes and be snarky!

So let's take a minute to have some general education.  After all, not everyone has adopted and is sensitive to the politically correct things to say.  I get it, I once was there.

IS HE ADOPTED?  Be careful with that!  I too want to ask people that because adoption interests me.  But let's face it, unless you know that both parents are standing there and it is blatantly obvious the child is adopted, you run the risk of stepping on toes.  When I am alone with Colby, someone who doesn't know me has no idea if my husband is Latino or not.  In addition, some adoptive families do not have open conversations about adoption and this puts them on the spot.

WHERE DID HE COME FROM?  Like I just picked him up from the local grocery store!  OK, OK, I know what they are asking but really?  He CAME from God.  Better question- where was he born?

HOW MUCH DID IT COST TO GET HIM?  Don't even.  If you want to talk about the cost of adoption because you want to adopt, I will be glad to meet with you.  Otherwise, it is really none of your business.  And for the record, we did not GET him.  He was adopted.

WHERE IS HIS REAL MOM?  Well, first of all, last time I checked, I am not fake.  Second of all, that is a pretty personal question to answer.  Unless our son wants to answer that, it is really not up for discussion.

WHAT HAPPENED TO HIS REAL PARENTS?  OK, for the record, they are his BIRTH or BIOLOGICAL parents.  And then, why would you ask that in front of of child?  If it is a tragic story, why would we want to re-live it in front of our child.  At the very least, it is a pretty personal question.  Unless you are a close friend, I will not question every detail of your life, please do not question my child about every detail of theirs.  Some things adoptive parents just don't know.  Some things, we just don't want to share.

IS HE YOURS?  Yep!  This is kind of like the "Are they all yours?" question.  Ummm, no, I don't know who they are.  They just insist on following me around! haha  YES, HE IS MINE!  I have the papers and the LOVE to prove it!

DOES HE SPEAK SPANISH?  OK, this one I can go with, but...don't assume someone speaks a different language because of the color of their skin.  He was raised in America, he speaks English.  He speaks Spanish only as well as his teacher, that is me.  So, ummm, not so much!

And as far as the "wow, he speaks good English."  Well, he should!  Just like any other 9, almost 10 year old.  Don't assume you know how someone should speak or even act, based on their outward appearance.

And I won't assume YOU are as clueless as you seem.

See, I can be snarky! ;)


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Return to Reality

Years ago our family made the decision to save up and go on a family vacation once a year.  When the kids were younger we surprised them each year at Christmas time with the destination.  Now that they are older, it takes a bit more coordinating, so we plan together.  With our second daughter in college now, it takes a even more planning as we have to go when she is on break.  Because she is in school not so close to us, this year we decided to pick her up and just keep heading south, ending up at the beach.  Ironically, it is the same place she was born 19 years ago.

 Yes, we were at the beach for an entire week.  I forgot how much I love the beach.  I forgot about the clear water and the white sand!  You see, Colorado is by far my favorite location we have lived.  There is something about the mountains that just makes my heart sing.  But I grew up spending summers at the beach and spent a lot of my early adulthood at my father's places at the beach.  We have a lot of beautiful memories of the beach, but we haven't been there in a while.

It was nice to see the surf and sand again!  To breathe in the salt air and listen to the waves- it has a way of relaxing your whole body.

We really did NOTHING except on one of our colder days, on which we went to the Gulfarium in Destin to see the animals.

Despite the fact that the first few days were colder that I had hoped, we had a fabulous time.  Some friends came to stay with us a few nights, and we got to reconnect with a few other friends as well.  It was a time of rest, healing, and fun in the sun!

Counting the days until we can go back!


Monday, March 20, 2017

Laura Story CD Review and Giveaway

I tend not to review music too often, as it is such a personal and subjective art form.  And quite honestly, I like a lot of different kinds of music.  I was a dancer for the first 21 years of my life, so I was exposed to a lot of different genres of music and I learned to appreciate most of them at some basic level at least.  You will often hear music playing in our home and in our cars, and usually you will hear a few voices joining in.  It's just what we do around here.

Through the years, we have been convicted to listen to more and more Christian music.  It's just refreshing, encouraging, and a good reminder of God's love for us.  We have also found that with our kids it can be a good conversation starter and even a good way to learn scripture.  While I really love old fashioned hymns, sometimes it is fun to hear a new artist, so the Laura Story CD sparked my interest.  I am glad it did!

So, OK, Laura is NOT really a new artist.  She actually did her first solo album in 2008, Great God Who Saves.  She is probably best known for her single, Blessings, a song written about her struggle after her husband's brain tumor diagnosis.  That song inspired her book, What if Your Blessings Come Through Raindrops, published in 2012.  In addition to singing, this Grammy award winner is also a worship leader at her church, a motivational speaker, and has just recently released a new book and Bible Study.

Impressed yet?

No?  Just listen to her newest album Open Hands and you will be.  Man, this lady is talented.  Her sweet, soft voice speaks of the love and trust she has in God.  It also speaks of some painful journeys she has traveled along the way.  But no matter what kind of song you are looking for, I assure you you will find one that touches your heart on this CD!

It is honestly hard for me to pick a favorite out of the 11 songs on this album, but I do really love the title song, Open Hands, a duet with Mac Powell, from Third Day.  Yes, I do love Third Day but with lyrics such as  "Jesus, I surrender all, every victory and loss, take it all..."  how could you not love this song?  And how could you not be convicted?

I think that is one of the reasons I love Laura's songs.  They are just honest words of faith that I believe God can use to convict and inspire you!  What better a way to fill your mind and heart with Truth!

As she sings in her hymn remake, Awake My Soul, "you're (God) worthy of the songs of a thousand tongues..."  Amen!

You can see the official Open Hands Lyric video on YouTube.

Our friends at FlyBy Productions are providing one of our readers with a free copy of Laura's CD Open Hands!  Just leave me a comment and make sure I have a way to contact you.  A random winner will be chosen on FRIDAY!


Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255:  “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”):  Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway.  Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation.  I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.