Thursday, August 27, 2020

Take Back Your Life

I am usually leery of recommending devotionals.  Not only are they a highly personal item, but there are just so many variances of belief out there that I usually steer clear of unwanted controversy.  Trust me, the threat is real. But when I saw FlyBy offering up for review the timing was perfect.  We are in the middle of a pandemic as you know, daily struggles are at an all time high for many, and we just completed a move to a town in which we know a total of four people.



Here's the funny thing.  When the devo came in, my 13 year old son took one look a the cover and said, "Hey, I know him!"  


Good thing his memory is better than mine.  It seems Levi Lusko, author of Take Back Your Life, A 40 Day Devotional,spoke at a youth conference my son attended a year ago in Phoenix.  He loved him!  

I can see why!

Take Back Your Life, A 40 Day Devotional is a 40 day, hard back, interactive devotional intended to challenge and inspire you to live your life as God intended.  While filled with current pop culture references and side stories, it is also filled with plenty of scripture and inspiration that come right from the word.

It may not be at a PhD theological level, but it is written from a heart that obviously wants to reach souls for Christ and challenge them to run hard after God!

That includes-

  •   putting social media aside
  •   taking a good hard look at yourself
  •   asking yourself what God has made you for
  •   putting prayer first
  •   and more!

Each day's devotion, 3-4 pages long, ends with a short prayer. Following that is a section called Breathe, Think, Live.  Here you will find thought provoking questions, challenges, and tasks for you to complete.  This section, Lusko says, is to "allow God to speak to you" rather than simply reading to check off boxes.  I don't know about you, but I am often tempted to skip application sections.  This time around, I have forced myself to carefully consider each question and then pray for the Lord to open my eyes to what He has for me.

I am only a few weeks in to Take Back Your Life, but I have already seen some changes in my daily life and attitude, and look forward to my reading each morning!  I highly recommend this great little book, and would even consider using it in your family devotion time!  Let's face it, I read half of it to them anyway! The thought provoking questions at the end of each day would be great conversation starters or even good journal prompts for older kids to adults.   

For kids ages 8-14, you can download a 4 day devotional just for them.  It even includes lunch box notes for you to print out and encourage them with!

About Levi- Levi Lusko is the founder and lead pastor of Fresh Life Church, located in Montana, Wyoming, Oregon, and Utah. He is the bestselling author of Through the Eyes of a Lion, Swipe Right, and I Declare War. Levi also travels the world speaking about Jesus. He and his wife, Jennie, have one son, Lennox, and four daughters: Alivia, Daisy, Clover, and Lenya, who is in heaven.



“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 and HCCP for providing this book for review.  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.

Monday, August 17, 2020

Kitchenette Prep

This past week was our "summer break" before we settle back into a fall school schedule.  Yes, we school year round, but usually only a few subjects are on our daily list in the summer months, and Colby chooses when he does them since he is pretty self sufficient.  But this past week Salem was gone for a few days (he also starts school today- COLLEGE), and Clarke had the week off, so we took some time to work on complete a few projects that needed to be done.

One was getting the basement ready for our "kitchenette" to be installed.

The first thing to do was remove the ridiculous set up that was currently there. 

Yep, they had installed two utility sinks, set them in a shower base, and stapled two grass rugs around the base to hide the plumbing.  Oh my!

The good news is that while a few things were heavy, it was very easy to disassemble.



The second thing that needed to be done was paint since they had obviously touched up more than a few places with the wrong color paint.  Bad news- there is no extra paint ot be found and we have no idea what color is on these walls.  Good news- there was a full can of light grey paint left from Salem's room that I like and was happy to use.  Hopefully the different color will set this area off a bit from the basement which can feel caverness at times because it is so large.


So we painted for two days!  Would have been a bit easier if the walls were not so high and I wasn't uncomfortable on the ladder, but we got it done! 



Now we wait for the install.  As you know, COVID has slowed down the world, so things are a bit backed up.  Of course.


Our Supervisor

The plan is to add a small cabinet set with a sink along the back wall, and bring our white fridge from upstairs down to match the cabinets.  Another island of cabinets will go in front to help define the space and give us a serving area.  To the left of that space we will add a high table to eat at or for games.


I am so excited to see it coming together after dreaming big since the moment we saw the space.  It is bright and spacious and we hope will be a fun space for guests!

Once that and the bathroom reno are done we are ready to host! ;)

Updates- I hear our front door will be here in 2-3 weeks.  We will see.  Our entertainment center is also due in by the end of the month, again we will see.  Finishing out a house is hard work and takes patience.  To do it in the middle of a pandemic- well, try patience on steroids!  

And about today- today Salem goes to his first IN PERSON college class and Colby and I begin 8th grade.  Riley is back at work at Medieval Times and Ashton continues to stay busy with work and such.  Clarke will be teaching four classes at Embry Riddle next week and is the new chair of their helicopter department.  I continue to marvel at all the changes we have gone through in the past six months and am forever grateful for the Lord's hand in it all!

I pray you are living your best life!  Eyes on God!



Monday, August 10, 2020

Let School Begin

Are you ready?  It is about that time when kids across the country start school.  Yes, this year looks a bit different!  If you are a parent sending your child back to school, know that we are praying for your family as you enter a new normal.  I am sure it is different and a bit scary.

For those who have decided to enter the homeschool arena, WELCOME!  We are glad you are here.  After doing this gig for 23 years I can unequivocally say it is one of the best decisions my husband and I ever made.  As a young Air Force family, we began homeschooling to allow my girls to be with their traveling dad as much as possible when he was home.  Through the years our reasons for continuing have changed, but our passion has not.

We now have two college graduates, one headed to college in a few weeks, and begin 8th grade for our youngest next week.  It is hard to believe I am teaching 8th grade for the 4th time now!  A lot has changed through the years, but rest assured some things stay the same regardless of the year, the current conditions, or the grade!

As you begin this journey let me take a minute to pass on some things I wished I had been told when I first started!

It will be OK!  First day jitters are a real thing, in you AND your student, but it will pass.  The unknown is always the hardest, but once you get into a rhythm you will be on your way.  You can do this!

There will be naysayers!  People don't always like things they do not know or understand.  It's ok. (see point one!)  Just stay in your lane and keep your eye on the goal.  Choose to stay out of debates and drama.

You are going to be the BEST teacher!  People used to ask me all of the time if I was a trained teacher.  Ummm, I am a non-trained MOM!  And no one knows or loves these kiddos as much as I do, save God!  I am pretty sure that makes me capable of teaching them.

There is help out there if you need it!  If you are fine on an island teaching, that is great.  If you need help ask for it.  Especially now, there are tons of people out there with tons of resources ready to help support you.  Don't be afraid to ask.

You do NOT need to break the bank to homeschool.  There are free programs available and no one is going to hand you a list of required back to school items to buy.  Watch out for the sale flyers- they will pull you in to buying a lot of stuff you do not need.  Children can and will learn without all the sparkle.

You do not have to maintain a traditional school schedule!  Your goal is not to re create school.  That is not homeschooling at its finest, trust me.  If you are an early riser then start early and enjoy quiet afternoons.  If your family loves to sleep in, then do so and start when everyone is fully awake. What time you start makes no difference to the learning that will take place.

Computer learning is not the end all, be all!  This is especially true for younger kids.  They need to be active, be outside, and be learning by your side.  There is a time and place for computer learning, just be careful not to fall into the trap of hours in front of a screen if you can help it.

Every child learns differently.  If you try to put a square peg in a round hole you will have problems.  Ask me how I know!  Be adaptable and be willing to make changes where needed- for your child's sanity and yours!

You are not alone.  Currently there are untold numbers of homeschoolers out there doing the same thing you are doing.  Find your tribe and stick together.

Not every day is easy, but every day is worth it!  That's my mantra- I repeat it often.  There will be bad days and there will be good days.  It's ok.  God's mercies are new every day!  Don't give up just because you have a bad day.
Get ready, get so, GO!  You can do this, mommas!

Thursday, August 6, 2020

No More Raccoon Garage

Yes, we had the garage painted black shortly after we moved in, but had not changed out the windows in them, so my kids told me they looked like raccoons.  Or pandas, depending on which child you ask.  I had all intentions of changing them out, but, as with all other things, shipping and installers were delayed. 

Finally, they came, and the difference is amazing.  I love them!

Now if that front door will ever come in. 

Other projects done-

Curtains for our dining room and our upstairs guest room.  Both were not high priority, but having that sewing project off my to-do list feels good. (OK, they still need to be hemmed, but it's close!)

I also finally got this quilt layered and quilted so I am ready for winter snuggling!  There will be a winter this year, right?! 

In preparation for two projects on our lower level, Clarke and I were able to take out this silly sink contraption the previous owners had put up for art projects I believe.  What you don't see is that when we bought it, it also had a woven grass rug around it.  Just having the thing pulled out makes me feel better.

This week I will be painting the back wall and column.  In a few weeks a kitchenette area will be added!  I am busy looking for a high table and four chairs to put where the card table currently is.  For now, Colby and I am using it for our puzzle space, but I am looking forward to having it set up for guests to use and movie night popcorn to be made.

The second project involves a bath room reno.  More on that to come!

As these initial projects start to wind down we are beginning to dream about our next projects.  Well, me mostly sharing my dreams with Clarke.  We will see where that takes us!

For someone who was a bit disappointed in having to let go of the building a house dream, I am enjoying making this place our own with updates here and there.  Feeling blessed that the Lord has allowed us to live His dream for our family- one we would have never imagined!


Tuesday, August 4, 2020

Laser Chess For The Win

You know by now we are a game loving family!  Like, we play games several times a week and often Colby and I end our school day with a quick game of cards or such.  I thought my older kids loved games- but the 13 year has them all beat.  In more ways than one, since he usually DOES win!

I was thrilled to be able to add a new game to our ever growing collection, because let's face it, we have more time on our hands these days with the virus messing with our plans.  Staying at home is a blessing though when you have fun things to do with your kids!

Laser Chess is a great addition and one I have been eyeing for a while.  The name Chess held me at bay until I got the opportunity to review it for Timberdoodle.  Let's start by saying I do not, nor does anyone in our family, play chess.  And that is OK.  Because other than the fact that you are trying to "capture" someone's king and certain play pieces can do special things, this game is not like traditional chess.

Made me feel a lot better.

Did NOT help me in winning.

But it is a fun game for two people, ages 8 and up.

There are several quick ways to set up the game and then you are ready.  Each player takes turns moving one of their pieces or has the option to rotate one.  Once you do, you push the button to see where your laser beams hits.  You can take out your own man, so careful planning is needed.  Ask me how I know! If you hit your opponent's piece, they remove that piece from the board.  Again, the object is to take out their king. 

Here's where the strategy kicks in.  The pieces are mirrored and reflect the laser beam at 90 degree angles, from one piece to another.  You have to figure out how to position your men to work together to take out your opponent.  Some pieces are always safe, some reflect on two sides, and some reflect only from one side, so careful placement is needed.

I will have to admit this game is not my cup of tea as far as winning, ( I don't. Ever.) but I do enjoy playing it with my son.  Each game takes about 10-20 minutes depending on how skilled, or not, you are.  More importantly though, is all three boys in my house, to include my husband, do like it and have gotten quite good at it. It is fun to watch them strategize and problem solve!

If you are looking for a fun game to keep those kiddos busy this fall, Laser Chess is definitely one you will want to grab!  Not only will they have fun, but they are learning great problem solving skills as they play.  That's a win- win in this momma's book!

*Laser Chess is part of Timberdoodle's 7th Grade kit!

Monday, August 3, 2020

Keep It SImple

People often ask me what my number one piece of advice for homeshoolers is, and quite honestly, it is hard to choose.  There are so many things I would like to say to you new parents embarking on this adventure.  It is so hard to pick just one thing. But I do know what I wish someone had told me!

Don't make it harder than it is- keep it simple!

Yes, there is a lot of people out there with an opinion on how BEST to homeschool. 
And yes there are a lot of curriculum to choose from.
And, YES, there are all kinds of sparkly pens and paper and notebooks.
And don't get me started on the Pinterest boards!



OK, yes, you will need to choose some sort of curriculum and a pencil and some paper would be helpful, but other than that, if you need to pass on the other stuff-


I promise.

But, you say, what about all those shiny classrooms my kids are used to?

Teachers in traditional school are amazing.  Not only do they have to teach 20-30 kids at one time, but they have to hold their attention.  Brightly colored, exciting classrooms do that in some ways.

But you are only working with a few students- your kids!  No need to entertain them if that is not your thing.  Just teach them.  They will learn with OR without the sparkle.

Beautiful school specific rooms are lovely if that is what you love!  We have had several in the past 23 years of schooling and they worked well in those seasons.  But we have also had times when the kitchen table and a basket was all we had. (now, for instance!)

Here's the point- do what you need to do.  Do what works for you!  If that is something fancy- yay you!  If it is something simple- yay you!

There is no time for comparison.  Homeschooling can be challenging, especially the first year as you find your new normal.  Don't get lost in the weeds by making it harder that it is!