Monday, September 16, 2019

Who Knew?

Have you ever gotten the surprise of your life?

You know, like guess what, you are pregnant or, hey you won a million bucks?

No worries, me neither on either of those. But...

We, and by we I mean my husband, did get hired pretty quickly to teach college classes.  Like a week and a half notice.  And he hasn't taught in a few years.

And oh yeah, did I mention the University is out of town?  By two hours.

Yep, there is that!

I think I just heard God snicker!  Really!  You have to either trust and know He is up to something, or the whole situation, including us, is CRAZY!

We choose to believe that He is up to something big!

  • Otherwise, this job would have not come up out of the wood work.

  • And Clarke would not have passed an interview which involved teaching a mock class with a little over 12 hours notice.

  • And we would have not found him a place to live during the week that is owned by the most caring and kind Christian couple you could ever meet that we adore already!  In ONE day of looking.  Recommended by a friend of a friend.

Those things don't just happen, folks.

They are orchestrated by a God who loves us, who is in every detail, and who is the Master Planner.

OH, and who may even chuckle a bit!

So, if you think of us over the next few weeks, whisper a prayer for safe travels as our hero commutes up and back weekly, for the adjustment of our family, and for us to remain in wide-eyed awe and wonder of the Lord!

Because HE knew!


Thursday, September 12, 2019

True Stories of War

I wish I had paid more attention in History class as a kid.  Really, I do!  But all those names and dates went in one ear and out the other.  It didn't help that my cute boyfriend (now my husband) sat across the row from me in optimal note passing distance. Plus, I could never quite figure out how all those random facts were supposed to be important to me anyway.

Fast forward many years and I now know why those dates and names are important.  Now, as I am teaching my kids, I am trying to find better ways to show THEM why those things are important.  One of the ways I have found that works is by trying to make it more personal- let them see the stories and the people that often get lost behind just the facts.

Enter True Stories of War set from Timberdoodle!  This set of four books has been a hit already and have been read and re-read several times.  Each can be bought separately, but the set includes-

  • True Story of World War I
  • True Stories of World War II
  • True Stories of the Revolutionary Way
  • True Stories of the Civil War

Each full color, paperback book is seven chapters long.  The first chapter of each book covers "just the facts" of that particular war, to include an overview summary, key dates, and a map.  The following six chapters each tell a side of the story from a particular person's point of view.  A few names you will recognize, but many you may not.  They are ordinary people like you and me who happened to find themselves in the middle of the war.  From doctors, to wives, to spies, you get to hear their views of the events that happened.

The most engaging part of this series is the fact that they are graphic novels.  Honestly, that is not particularly my favorite genre, but my 7th grader loves it so it is a great fit for him.  Only a few pages long each, a simple scene is portrayed and you get a first hand account of a moment in history.

 These are NOT events you might read about in most History books.  Instead they are very personal, behind the scenes accounts.  They make you feel as if you are there, seeing it all first hand.  That being said, some are pretty intense and I would read them ahead of time if you have a child sensitive  to that type of thing.  I would say they are most appropriate for middle scoolers and above due to the nature of their content.

So how are we using these books for school?  Well, as soon as they arrived my son confiscated them and read them one after another.  Since then, they have been used for car trips and free time reading on multiple occasions.   I asked him which was his favorite and he said- "World War II was my favorite but the Civil War one was also really good.  The Flag Over Iwo Jima was my favorite story.  The picture of the flag being raised is so cool."

For the record, I finally got a hold of the set last week and read through them myself.  As we continue to study the specific wars in our history curriculum I intend to have him go back to each of the books, pick a story, and do some research to see if he can find out more about that person or event.  Yep, the learning never stops when you are a homeschooler!

Thankfully, books like True Stories from War makes learning a whole lot more fun while giving you a front row seat to the action!


Monday, September 9, 2019

Are You Organized?

Here at Family, Faith and Fridays we post about a lot of things, but if you have been around for a while you know that one of my passions is home organization.  Notice I said passions, not perfections!  There is no such thing when it comes to perfection in home organization- only passionate people doing the best they can.   And boy, do I like to do the best I can when it comes to my home.  Call it whatever you like, but it soothes my soul and gives me peace.

So on that note, I am joining some friends from Timberdoodle's review team in posting some of our favorite and "best" home organization tips.  Why not pick just one this week to apply to your life and see how you feel?  Just a few hours in one location of your home will make you feel like a million bucks!  Afraid or too overwhelmed to start? Grab a buddy that will be your teammate and hold you accountable.  I promise it will be worth it!

Two of my favorite series I have posted about household organization are-

Clearing Out the Clutter address clearing out your homes, heart, head, homeschool, and health.  It helps give you the "whys" behind cleaning and hopefully will motivate you to establish your own whys.

34 Weeks of Clean was birthed a few years ago while my husband was deployed to Afghanistan for a year.  It kept me sane, connected me with amazing women, and allowed me to organize and deep clean my house, one area at a time.  Since then we have repeated it each year and just ended a cycle last week.  BUT, there is no reason for you to wait until January.  Start NOW, you won't be sorry!

Need some help or just encouragement?  Feel free to leave me a message- I would be glad to be come alongside you and be your cheerleader!


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Friday, September 6, 2019

Let's Talk About...Electives

Wheeeeeeee, now you can have some fun and be creative!  Let's face it, electives are often our student's favorite part of the day!  Might as well have some fun with them right?

Once again, these are just some programs that our family has used and loved, and hopefully will give you some ideas to choose from or be a jumping off point to begin to explore new curriculum.  I have no affiliation with these companies, but if I have reviewed them in the past their name is linked for a more in depth opinion for you.

Dr. Aviation- This one semester class is a neat program for your flying fanatics.  Lots of info, lots of details, and a teacher that is experienced and excited about what he is teaching.

Art Achieve- Different levels for ages 5 and up, this art program will last you a long time!  No matter what your talent level is, you will learn about not only art techniques, but also things about where that specific art form originated.  Art and art history all in one!

Music- There are several good programs out there I am sure, but we tend to be one of those families that still seeks out live instructors for, in our case, piano.  A new program that has been recently brought to my attention is  Playground Sessions featuring Harry Connick Jr. and more as teachers.  Who wouldn't love to learn from Harry?!!

Typing- Ultrakey Online turns out to be one of our favorite online typing programs.  I have used more than several with my kids, but this one that we just finished using in January far outshines the others.  Colby learned how to type in a few weeks and is still going strong.  There are a few fun elements to the program, but it is not so "gamey" that you waste time.  Worth every penny!

Thinking Like an Architect- Another semester class for your STEM loving students.  This class has some neat features and could very well spark some interest in architect  careers.  If nothing else, it allows for creativity.

Computers, coding, cooking, home economics, theater, dance... the choices out there are endless.  Electives are just extra classes that provide information to make for a more well rounded student.  Talk to your children about their interests, engage them in the decision making process, and let them enjoy some new classes from time to time.

Oftentimes, it is an elective course that lights a fire in their heart to pursue a new hobby or even a career!

The skies the limit!


 Let's Talk about...Science
Let's Talk About...Math
Let's Talk About...History
Let's Talk About...Grammar and Spelling
Let's Talk About Foreign Languages 
Let's Talk About Literature

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Reason for God- A Review

I love the learning and the information that comes from books.  Oftentimes, you can be inspired or simply find nuggets of truth in the pages.  Which explains why many of my books contain highlighted passage after highlighted passage.  I believe well loved books look just like that- well loved.  Covers worn, pages turned down, and typeset often smeared.  I also believe that The Reason for God by Timothy Keller will become one of those books on my shelf.

I have been reading this book for weeks now.  Yep, it has taken me that long to get through the 251 pages.  Usually I am a fast reader, but this book, and the information it contained, made me slow down, sometimes re-read, and then ponder what was being said.

Timothy Keller is a pastor and the founder of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City.  It was there, while starting his church, that he ran into person after person who were not only asking questions about Christianity, but seriously seeking the answers.   In helping them find answers to all that they questioned, the book The Reason for God was birthed.  In it, Keller explores many of the questions he was asked on a daily basis, using not only the Bible as the ultimate source, but literature, philosophy, historical documents, and reasoning as well. 

What you will find among the pages is a detailed, and well thought out argument for Christianity.  Well, not an argument really.  But a calm conversation between reader and author.  And THAT is one of the reasons I like this book.  Keller is not trying to pick a fight or be the winner of an argument.  He very calmly addresses each issue in what feels like an intimate conversation with the reader.  Yes, he wants you to come away with a new, or deeper, faith, but he wants you to do so because you were compelled to consider the facts.  I understand, of course, that there are varying beliefs of how one becomes a believer, but the basic facts in this book I think are valid across the board. 

To break it down for you a bit, the first half of the book ponders the reasons many have for no faith.

  • There Can't be Just One True Religion
  • How Can a Good God Allow Suffering
  • Christianity is a Straitjacket
  • The Church is Responsible for so Much Injustice
  • How Can a Loving God Send People to Hell 
  • Science has Disproved Christianity
  • You Can't Take the Bible Literally

In the second half of the book, Keller sets out to explain the reasons FOR faith.

  • The Clues of God
  • The Knowledge o God
  • The Problem of Sin
  • Religion and the Gospel
  • The (True) Story of the Cross
  • Te Reality of the Resurrection
  • The Dance of God

In his final chapter, Where do we Go From Here? Keller addresses what it means to put your faith in Christ.

I find it rather ironic that I decided to review this book for Timberdoodle Co. when I saw it listed in their catalog as a resource for high schoolers.  It is actually part of their 12th grade curriculum kit.  I had simply hoped it would be a good addition to my senior's Bible reading list.  It it for sure, but I also would highly recommend it to so many others!

Maybe you know someone who has questions about Christianity.  Maybe you do.  Grab a copy of this book and soak in the truths.  I think if you go in with eyes wide open, you may just come out the other side with a heart wide open as well!


Monday, September 2, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean 2019! The Finale

When we started 34 Weeks of Clean 2019! 34 weeks ago, it was truly not a challenge just for you.  It was was for me as well.  I knew that the timing was perfect for cleaning and organizing after just moving and settling in to our "forever" home.   It also gave me a chance to connect with new friends along the way, locally and on the web.  And while the clean and organized house makes me want to cheer, it is the community of friends I have made along the way that have blessed me the most!  You all have made this journey fun and have encouraged me along the way and I THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

In addition to the simple art of cleaning and organizing, I hope these are some takeaways you also got from this journey-

  •     Our stuff does not make us who we are!
  •     Memories are best held in our hearts, not in our things!
  •     Everything has a home!  If not, get rid of it!
  •     Before you buy something, ask yourself, is it useful and do I really need it?
  •     If you love it, use it, and would buy it again, keep it.  If not, out it goes!
  •     One person's trash is another person's treasure!  Be willing to share!
  •     Five minutes of pick up a day will keep your house cleaner than you think!
  •     The less you have, the easier it is to be organized.  Declutter!
  •     Buying more containers does not amount to less stuff!
  •     Cleaning, and life, is just more fun when you have friends to cheer you on!

So where do we go from here?  Now that you should have a relatively clean and organized house, I am going to let you in on a little secret.

It will not stay that way without a little effort!

So what's a girl to do?  As a earlier participant once said- Rinse and repeat!

Maybe you do not need to start again tomorrow, but you will probably need to start again at some point, sooner than later.  I already know several areas in my own home that need some attention!

A clean and organized house does not just happen.  It takes commitment and a little effort.  You can do!

A BIG thank you to all who participated!  It has been so much fun to interact with you and to see your successes.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Friday, August 30, 2019

Let's Talk About... Christian Education

Another week- another subject!  This one may the most important one yet!  And one of the many reasons we chose to homeschool.  I love that we have the freedom to teach what we want and when we want!  Bible studies are usually the start and end of our day; bookending at its best!

While our family reads through the Bible each year together during our family devotions, we also make a point to study the Word as part of our curriculum.  We have done it several different ways through the years, but here are a few of our favorites-

(They are linked to reviews I have done, when applicable, so you can see further details.)

Abeka Bible- For a season, I needed to take a break from being teacher and just be mom.  ABeka saved the day and the Bible courses we used were our favorite part of the day!  This is a live recording of an actual class with students and a teacher.  She addresses the at home audience periodically and makes them feel included.  If you are not a traditional schooler, this is not for you, but my son LOVED it and learned so much historical context!

I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist- This book is a must have for me!  I have each child read it as a high school senior.  There is a workbook that can be used as well. It is higher level learning for sure, but a great way to get one last good read on Apologetic before sending them off to college or a job.

Sonlight Bible- Again, we have been using Sonlight for years and each year I am reminded of why I love it.  They offer a good list of non- fiction apologetics books for each level, as well as many auto-biographies of Christian saints.

Apologia's Who Am I? Series- If you asked my favorite from this list, this series would be it!  There are four books in the series and workbooks are available at two levels if you want to use them.  There are also coloring books if you choose to use these as a family and have littles participating with you.  I highly recommend using them 5-8th grade!


Bible Study Guide for All Ages- This is another one I like for younger kids, but you can use it at higher levels!  The BEST part of this program is different levels of the workbook pages can be used at the same time- perfect when you have multiple kids to school and need to do some things together!  This may look like it is "just fun," but I assure you it is packed with info!

YWAM  Christian Heroes Series- If you have not read any books from YWAM, do so!  Like, go order them now and get started!  Easy enough for a middle schooler to read alone, but good enough for a mom or dad to enjoy.  Great family read alouds!

30 Days to Understanding the Bible- This review product I received was a hit in our family.  We actually are just finishing up, as we decided to do it in 30 weeks as a family, rather than 30 days!  This is a "know your Bible" type book with dates, and facts, and timelines activities in it!


The Secret of the Hidden Scrolls- We try to incorporate Christian fiction into our library when we can find good books.  These were introduced to us about a year ago and I love them.  Yes, there is a lot of the author's imagination in here, it IS fiction, but lots of truth as well and just some fun reads!

Again, I am getting nothing from telling you about these products.  They are just a few of many we have used in the past and love.  Hope you will find a few new ones that you come to love as well!


 Let's Talk about...Science
Let's Talk About...Math
Let's Talk About...History
Let's Talk About...Grammar and Spelling
Let's Talk About Foreign Languages 
Let's Talk About...Christian Education

Monday, August 26, 2019

34 Weeks of Clean 2019! Week 33- Address Book and Deep Cleaning

After spending three weeks in the office area, we are almost done!  Hopefully last week you cleared out all of the junk on your computers.  I am pretty sure mine is lighter this week! ;) Today is for those of you that are actually blessed with a physical room for an office and have not cleaned them yet.  Go on, admit you still have some things to do!  If you are not one of those people, you can use this time to finish up your paperwork and filing systems!  ;)

We are also using this week to get our address books in order.  Yes, we ARE going there.

You know the drill, though this time you do not have to take everything out, so here we go-

First the deep cleaning of the office-

  •  Clear off all flat surfaces and dust and wax furniture.  Remember this is not your weekly cleaning- really hit the tough spots.

  •  Add back 1/2 of what you cleared off.  Yes, that IS a challenge! ;)

                   Remember: Is it needed, does it make you smile, would you buy it again?

  •  Clean off windows and blinds and ceiling fans, and wash any curtains.

  •  Wipe off baseboards and door frames- don't forget the light switches!

  •  Vacuum- moving furniture where needed!

Now on to the address book-

This may seem like a small project to some of you but for us, not so much!
We have moved over 16 times in the last 27 years.  Unfortunately, so have many of our friends.

I learned very quickly to not write in pen in our address book. What can I say, I am a slow learner! 

Now, I write in pencil.

Well, when I get around to actually writing in it.  My go to plan of action is just to stuff the address book with return address labels and emails with new addresses on them.  And no, not even under the right tab.

Hence this look-

Yep, I know it is not pretty!And in my defense, this is what it ends up looking like usually after each Christmas.

I need help- I hope you do too!

So this week your second assignment is to pull out those address books, clean them up, get rid of all the scraps of paper (oh, please tell me it is not just me!) and then put it neatly away!  I did buy a smaller, more portable version last year and I love it.  I also now travel with it in case I need a quick address.

This one is a pretty simple no-brainer, friends, so I do not have a step by step guide for you this week. You can do it, I am sure!

We are wrapping things up next week, so now is your chance to go back and complete a project or two you may have put off.  It is also your last week to  share any pictures you are particularly proud of!  Can't wait to see what you have done!


Week 4- Fridge, Freezer and Floors
Week 5- Recipes 
Week 6- The Stove and Loose Ends 
Week 7- The Dining Room 
Week 8- The Living Room 
Week 9- Books 
Week 10- Bathrooms  
Week 11- The Foyer
Week 12- The Family Room and DVDs 
Week 13- Pictures and Scrapbooks
Week 14- Arts, Crafts and Hobbies 
Week 15- The Master Bedroom  
Week 16- The Master Closet 

Friday, August 23, 2019

Let's Talk About... Literature

NOW we are getting somewhere!  In this Let's Talk About ...Series we have talked about some pretty serious subjects (complete list can be found at the bottom of this post) but today we are getting to the fun stuff!  BOOKS!  I know I heard several of you squeal, you can't hide it.  Plus, I have been in some of your homes and I know you have a book problem!

But the written word just calls many of our names.  It can teach you facts, stretch your imagination, take you to far away places and entertain you for hours.  Literature is a beautiful thing.  While the mechanics of reading and writing can take up a lot of time in our day, don't forget to take even more time to have your child read, or better yet, curl up with a good book along side of them.  You can help build a love for learning and create a special time for you and your kiddos.

There are a lot of great literature programs out there and I will mention just a few, but honestly, the BEST thing you can do for your child's literature program is just give them a pile of books and have them read.  Yes, at a younger age you do need to make sure their reading comprehension is spot on, but after that, in my opinion, devouring books of all kinds is the best!

I would challenge you to choose wisely and be familiar with the books they are reading.  I have been known to let my kiddos loose in a library and had to take back a book I found inappropriate!  And those were from the kids section!  Kid you not.  Not all books are created equal, don't assume they are.

And on that note, just because someone else deems them a classic does not mean they are worthwhile.  There are a lot of books out there that are required reading in the public schools that are a complete waste of time.  Seriously!  Just because we read them in high school does not mean our kids have to.  There are too many amazing books out there to waste our time on junk just because everyone else is reading it!

So a few programs I recommend?

BOB books- These silly little books are not only a great way to learn to read, but also make for fun reading for your kids at an early age.  There are so many fun books out there for very young readers, but these are cheap and easy to find!

Sonlight- One of the reasons we still use Sonlight after 20 plus years is because it is literary rich!  I mean, seriously, how many other programs out there read over 30 books in a school year?  My two college grads will tell you they did so well in writing, vocabulary, and even history in college because of Sonlight books.  They still have been known to grab one of our current readers off our shelf to re- read.

ABeka- We used ABeka readers early on in our schooling with much success.  The kids loved the "readers" and if you are more old school, you will like the looks of this as well.  It is definitely a less expensive option than Sonlight.

Hewitt Homeschooling- The Lightning Literature literature program stands out for several reasons.  First, it has multiple themes to choose from, not just your standard "these are the classics" track.  Secondly, the accompanying workbooks really dig deep into what is being read.

Progeny Press- We have had the privilege of using several of these literary guides and had a lot of fun with them.  If you like having questions for your child to answer about what they are reading, as well as writing prompts, projects, and more, you will enjoy these.  You can get them digitally and in hard copy.

Great middle school book if you have not read it !

The Library!- Of course, we have to remember the best place to find GREAT books for FREE is at the library!  Grab a librarian and ask what they recommend or just wander the rows, but either way allow your child to read and read some more!  There is NO better way to learn, and the possibilities are endless!


Let's Talk about...Science
Let's Talk About...Math
Let's Talk About...History
Let's Talk About...Grammar and Spelling
Let's Talk About Foreign Languages