I Have Been Blessed

All about how God has blessed me. In my marriage, with my six children, through homeschooling, and our faith with recipes, large family living, and updates on our life.

The Number of Perfection

I am not sure how it happens … how the passage of time goes so quickly, and you blink and six months have passed.  Your blog has sat empty. Your farm is in a new season of growing. A school year has ended and a new one begun. The children have grown.

I am not sure where the time goes. I am not sure how it happens so so fast. Where is the sweet little boy who is now nearly a teenager who can do *almost* anything you can do, who can fry chicken better than you, who can put the baby to sleep, cuddle a crying brother, or make his sister smile easier than anyone else can. I am not sure where the skinny little toddler went who turned into a skinny boy, who still can give the best butterfly kisses or look at you like you’ve hung the moon. Or when my first precious baby girl turned into one of the big kids who goes shopping with you to “help” and then actually does. Who announces on the fly that she’s going to wash the dishes for you. Or who cries for you when you get sick. How my blond haired baby turns into the sweetest blond headed FIVE year old. How she can melt a heart with a smile or a look and who will rub your head when you’ve had a hard day. Where did the time go when the crazy haired baby turned into the sweetest funniest toddler ever. Who loves his sister and cherishes her and who can make anyone laugh. Or how is it that my baby is somehow not a baby anymore, but a walking, talking, toddler getting into trouble and falling deeper and deeper into our hearts.

How is it that the time goes by so quickly and I, with all my faults, and failures, deserve to be this blessed. Deserve these six beautiful blessings. And then get the joy of holding another one deep in my womb. Holding my breath seven more months to meet the newest miracle to add to our family.

How do I deserve such blessing?

7 is the Number of Perfection.

Baby #7 is due end of April 2014!

WE ARE SO BLESSED!!!!

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EEK!

44495500083Yes, it’s been that kind of season. The kind where days pass by too busy to pay attention to and before you know it weeks have passed, then months.
We have been focusing on what’s important …. faith, family, the farm, trying to keep everyone healthy and our house in liveable condition. And yes, that is a long to-do list right there!!!
In the meantime, days are passing us by.
We were blessed to have been able to go to Disney, not once, but twice now.
Our farm is growing and growing and growing.
We are expanding … building a new plot of ground to plant on and possibly setting up a shade-cloth system so we can continue to grow during out hottest months of the year. What we have is growing well (Especially the carrots and onions!!) and we are so excited about the prospect of planting Spring Crops as early as tomorrow!!
The biggest, most exciting thing to have passed is that our sweet little Cassidy turned one! We were so excited to celebrate with her. She enjoyed opening her presents – taking the paper out of the bags, hugging her clothes, and playing instantly with her toys. She LOVED her smash cake and took no time at all digging into it double-handed to enjoy as much cake as she could! (And Mommy didn’t mind cleaning her up afterwards, because there are few things sweeter than a sleepy, sugar-high baby, freshly bathed and pajamad laying on your shoulder!

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Thankful Thursday

What we are thankful for this week.

Wonderful family, I can’t even begin to state how thankful we are for each other. The love we have for each other, our health, we are so thankful to be a big, loving, family.

DSC_2065-1 I asked the girls what they were thankful for this morning. Adreya quickly piped up with “Jesus”. There are not words to express the joy that fills my heart to know that my children walk in truth and that they love and appreciate our Lord. Madelynne’s spur of the moment answer was “family and friends.” It made this Mommy’s heart happy. Following Christmas and the gift-giving holiday that it was, my girls could have rightfully so, been thankful for the toys, or the new clothes, or the candy …. and I know they are for I see the evidence of it daily, but to be most thankful for the things that truly matter is special.

I am so BLESSED!!!!!

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A new page

Somehow it is 2013 already, and my mind has been swimming with all the possibilities that this New Year could hold. I’ve seen people on Facebook posting their word of the year, and although words have floated around, none have yet to take root. I can’t get past the word I have tried to set for my life – Blessed. I am so overwhelmingly, exceedingly blessed. For Christmas, my mom made me a gratitude journal “365 things I am thankful for in 2013″. The truth is I could sit down right now, and fill all 365 slots. Easily.

My dad asked me what my resolutions for this year will be and I told him I hadn’t made any. Although we will try to focus on getting healthier this year, I really don’t want to have the title of “resolution” onto it. It’s just something we knew we’d do after the stress and excitement of the holidays were over.

But what do I want to accomplish this year …. I want to pray more and judge less. I want to be a better me – a better wife, a better mom, a better daughter, sister, a better friend. I want to hold tightly to my priorities and my convictions. I want to stay positive. I want to remember that I am rich in love. My hands are full and my heart is fuller. That I am blessed with the opportunity to be in this life. With my wonderful husband. That I get to be the Mommy to these kids, in this house, farming, together.  I want to remember daily that I have everything I need and that the Lord has proven over and over again to us that he is faithful to provide for us in all situations. I want to remember over and over that I have MORE than I need, because He is also faithful to provide my wants to me as well.

Sometimes my faith is small, and God has to remind me that I am in His hands and He is taking care of it all. What do I have to worry about.

I was upset last week – the frost had knocked out some of our crops. Our green beans, our squash, our corn that was almost ready, our peas we had been hoping for …. all frozen. I was disappointed. But, I didn’t realize that it wasn’t all lost. In actuality only the tops of our plants had gotten freeze-burn, and underneath the plants were still thriving. There were still green beans I could pick, and flowers on my pea plants.

Then Saturday came, and it was raining. We haven’t  before had to do a market in the rain. I had convinced myself it was going to be a bad day. I told my husband on the way there “I think we’re going to lose money today. I don’t even think we’ll make cost. It’s a good thing your parents bought me a pressure canner for Christmas, because we’re going to have a lot of vegetables left over.” I had little faith. But I also knew we had everything we needed. Even if we had lost money and had a bad day, I knew it would be okay, because God had already provided for our needs this month. But I forgot. I forgot he takes care of us over and abundantly. Saturday ended up being the best market day we have had so far. We sold out of nearly everything. I was so overwhelmed with gratitude, and disappointed in myself for my lack of faith.

So maybe my word for 2013 needs to be faith – that I need to focus on strengthening my faith. Because God is good to us. WE ARE SO BLESSED!!!!!!!!!!

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Raindrops on Roses

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving Season. We have so much to be Thankful for!! We have a Saviour who loves us and cares for us, provides for us and most importantly died for us. I have a husband I can be proud of. Who I love unconditionally. Who is a good to me, and good for me. Who is not only my best friend, soul mate, but also a wonderful Father. I am thankful for Brendyn, and Tyler, Madelynne and Adreya, Wyatt, and Cassidy. I am thankful my kids are healthy and growing and sweet, and loveable, and mostly good kids.

I am thankful for my Family – My Mother, My Father, My sisters, My in-laws, My nephews and my nieces. My aunts and uncles, my grandparents, my cousins. I am thankful for my friends in whichever category they fit in – church friends, homeschooling friends, scrapbooking friends, old friends, new friends. I am thankful for my church and our church family.

I am thankful for the fact that we still live in a free country. And I am thankful for the men and women who fought for that to be so. I am thankful for opportunities. I am thankful for the land to grow our garden on and the harvest it provides.

I am thankful for raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens, and so so much more.

When I stop to count your blessings, all I can do is realize that I have been truly blessed!

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Teaching the Kids I Like

This is the article I wrote that will be on  The Old Schoolhouse Magazine’s Blog Feature,  “Meet the Crew”

Teaching the Kids I Like …

When I was about five years old, my Mom wrote a song for me:

I might be a Kindergarten Teacher

Or work in a bank like my Aunt Joan

Or work in an office like Mommy

Or have ten kids and stay at home.

I might be a doctor

Or maybe a baby’s nurse

But whatever I do, Wherever I go

I’ll always put my God first.

Probably from the first time I heard the song, I knew I wanted to be a teacher, and throughout my formative years, and on into my teen years, I never really wavered from that thought. So, in high school, I focused my electives on Education, and when I entered college, first at the Community College level, and then at the University of South Florida (at the time, third in the nation for their Education program), I entered with my focus on an Elementary Education degree.

I did my time and my classes. And then I got to my internship. My first internships were great. I learned a lot and I loved being in charge of the class for a couple of hours at a time. Then came my final internship. I was assigned a fourth grade class in inner city Tampa, in the ghetto. And it was a neighborhood school. I cried on my first day when I saw the bullet holes in the library windows. I had kids arrested out of my class. I lost kids to “the system” because their parents got arrested for drugs or prostitution the night before.  I had kids sleep in my class because they listened to their parents fight or party or because someone else was sleeping in their bed. And my heart broke over and over again. I realized I didn’t have the capacity in me to not become too emotionally involved.

I took a job working in an office (like Mommy) …. Where I eventually met my husband. When it was time for my oldest baby to go to school, the thoughts of the sending my son to school mixed with all I knew about the government controlled beaurocracy, I wasn’t anxious to send my son there. Thanks to some friends that were also homeschooling, I felt like that was the best choice for me as well.

I am sure when my mom wrote that song, the line about having ten kids and staying at home was meant as the punch line. The “way out there” one that wouldn’t come true. Surely, I would pick one of the other fine choices  … but to my amazement, it’s the one that is most similar to the truth. Six kids later, and I am blessed to stay home. So four years of college and I still teach, I just get to teach the kids I like!!!!

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Teaching Kids to Sing

I love listening to families sing. In fact, there is a secret part of me that wishes we could be one of those families. You know, the families whose children harmonize and sing together in church. We sing in the car all the time, even Wyatt sings along, we just don’t necessarily sound good together. I recognize the point of “making a joyful noise unto the Lord” is more about your heart and what you sound like. But it does become more joyful to those listening to us if we at least sound good!

Because of that, we were pleased with the opportunity to be able to review for Vocal Coach. Chris and Carole Beatty offer a Christian based product called Teaching Kids to Sing geared for ages 5-13 that is a 2 DVD/1 CD set that offers lessons for your children (and their teacher). Chris and Carole are in a typical choir room with a group of students and teach practical lessons on improving voice quality. The use of the students help the teacher to get a great visual on how to implement the lesson and what to look for. During the warm up sessions where the children are singing with Chris Beatty, you see Carole go around and correct and check the children’s posture. This was very helpful for me so I knew how to evaluate and correct my own children.

Disc One (Building Foundations that Last) is a little over 45 minutes long and has short lessons on Posture, Breathing, Tone, and then a section of Warm Ups. Disc Two (Essential Skills for Growing Voices) teaches Rhythm, Diction, and Dynamics. Also included is the CD featuring all the songs and warm ups from the two DVDs with vocals and track only.

Chris and Carole are good music teachers and use catch phrases and object lessons (using a sting for posture, blowing up a balloon in different scenarios for breathing, which made the lessons fun to watch and entertaining. Each lesson has a catchy little song that shows the lesson and gives the children a way to remember the lesson. The songs have a Christian base to them as the songs have lyrics “It’s all by God’s design” and “I’m an upright child of the King”, something I appreciated since we like to weave God into all our learning. The program has short enough lessons that even the youngest kids were able to implement.

This three disc set is available for $49.99 and would make a nice supplemental course in any homeschool. The lessons could be done onve a week, or once a month and practiced all along. These would also make great co-op lessons. We were blessed to receive this product free of charge in exchange for an honest review. Other crew members of The Old Schoolhouse reviewed products from Vocal Coach and you can read them by clicking on the banner below. We have been blessed.

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Primary Arts of Language

The Institute for Excellence in Writing very graciously allowed members of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew to review their Primary Arts of Language Program (or PAL).  This program, for ages K-2 is a blended sound-sight method of learning to read and write.  This program has two parts, Primary Arts of Language: Reading, and Primary Arts of Language: Writing. Although they are available individually, the program is best suited as done together. In a talk entitled” The Four Language Arts”, by Andrew Pudewa (included in the DVD-Rom), Andrew describes the four arts of Language as reading and listening, writing and speaking,

The Reading Portion teaches phonics and whole words, using poetry. There are four stages: Foundations, Activities, Discovery, and the Library.  In the foundation part, phonetic rules and sight words are presented using games and manipulatives. Next, your student moves into Activities, where he plays to master the phonetic rules. At that point, she moves on to the Discovery where she can use what she has learned on words, and then into books, in the Library Stage.  Poetry is the centerpiece of each lesson and a poem is enjoyed for several days and used for many purposes. The Reading Package is available for $69 and includes: Primary Arts of Language  Reading Teacher’s Manual  The Phonetic Farm folder and stickers, The Phonetic Games, and a DVD-Rom which has the following – An Instructional DVD portion, and files that contain the student materials, Readers, and some audio files that introduce the program and give you more insight to this method of phonics instructions.

The Writing portion lays the foundation for your child yo respond to what she reads or hears in writing. It is separated into three parts. Part One is printing lessons and an introduction to responding to stories using a Story Sequence Chart. Part 2 consists of copy work, introduction of style, and continued story sequencing, and PArt 3 begins formal composition. The Writing Package is available for $89 and includes: Primary Arts of Language: Writing Teachers Manual, An interactive DVD-Rom which includes video instruction, student files, and 6 informational audio files. The Writing Package also includes All About Spelling Level One. (Teacher’s Manual, Student Materials, and Basic Interactive Packet).

This is one of the most complete phonics instructions I have seen. It is very integrated with the reading and writing portion which is nice. And it has a simplicity that is missing in “other” phonics programs we have tried. I especially appreciated the manipulatives which are uncommon in the Arts of Language. For the REading Portion we really enjoyed the game play aspect and using the poetry. Some of the poetry was familiar to me (including my favorite: The Little Turtle), and some of it was new to me. It was all pleasant little poems. I also liked the way the letters were introduced (The Letter Stories) …. for example, c is a happy letter. It is a happy cookie because somebody took a big bite! c is for cookie. The story not only reinforces the letter sound, but also the letter formation. Overall  I think this is a great program. I enjoyed it, which makes it an easier program to teach. And I appreciate the durability and non-consumable elements, especially considering that once Maddy gets this down, Adreya and Wyatt, and eventually Cassidy will all cycle through.

We feel blessed to have reviewed this program. We received this free in exchange for our honest review. Click the banner below to see what others thought of this program.

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Journeys of Faithfulness

 

Apologia has given us the opportunity to review Sarah Clarkson’s book, Journeys in Faithfulness: Stories of Life and Faith for Young Christian Women. Although this book is targeted for girls ages 12 and up, I opted to do this review to read this book for myself. I love women’s studies, and am blessed to be given the opportunity to present a monthly women’s devotional at our church’s Ladies Meeting and am always looking for ideas or ‘kickstarts’ to a devotional, especially studying women of the Bible.

 

This 232 page paper back book offers historical fictional accounts of Mary and Martha; Mary, Mother of Jesus; Esther; and Ruth.  Through this text, the author challenges young women to deepen their relationship with God. Each section includes three biblical stories of these women, fictionized with added details, thoughts, and insights the author believes the women would have felt or done. Devotional sections with the author speaking straight to the young women, encouraging them in their  walk with God, and  Bible Study sections to get them in their Bibles and digging deeper , and includes a  journaling spot following each section. This book would be best used as a devotional between mother and daughter(s).

 

I am sometimes wary about books that fictionize Biblical stories, but I truly felt these were well done, and accurately portrayed. The stories were sweet and touching. It is a great devotional, and I can easily see doing this with my own girls once they were a little older. I also felt like this book challenged me in areas and helped me to realign my own relationship with God.

 

This book sells for $13.00. See a Sample Chapter or Table of Contents. I felt blessed to have been able to read this book. I was offered this book free in exchange for my honest review as part of the TOS Crew. See what other people thought of this book by clicking the banner below.

 

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My children love to read. They love stories. They love to submerse themselves into an adventure and see what happens. I was thankful that Beloved Books allowed us the opportunity to review their audio collection of the Sugar Creek Gang Volume 1.

The Sugar Creek Gang Volume are wholesome Christian adventure stories about a group of boys that are read straight from the text (good for following along if you also have the actual story) and dramatized (“with voices”, as my eleven year old told me.) My oldest son loved listening to these CD’s and devoured them. The story is “fun to listen to” and “very entertaining”. They were very “Christian-y”, which means that not only is there a gospel message written expertly into each book in a simple, easy-to-understand style, but the whole series is a discipleship journey. The books also add in education through nature studies, poetry, hymns and science.

Volume 1 of the Sugar Creek Gang CDs includes 12 CDs with the following stories: The Swamp Robber, The Killer Bear, The Winter Rescue, The Lost Campers, Chicago Adventure, and The Secret Hideout. Each story is about 2 hours long. They are currently available for purchase for $54.95 with free media rate shipping.

In The Swamp Robber, the Sugar Creek Gang discovers a disguise hidden in an old tree that might belong to the robber that is hiding in the swamp … but then find a map hidden near the tree. The boys also end up encountering the robber,helping Bill Collins (the narrator) welcome a baby sister, and save someone from a black widow spider bite. A good lesson in “sowing and reaping”.

In The Killer Bear, the boys learn a lesson on forgiveness. In this story decisions are made at revival, and while at the strawberry patch the boys encounter an angry black bear.

In The Winter Rescue, Little Jim’s pet baby bear goes missing. The search for the bear takes the boys to a cabin in the woods where they learn all about the power of prayer.

In The Lost Campers, the boys realize what it means to be saved – both physically and spiritually. On their camping trip they find a train car without any tracks, and an “honest to goodness” Indian, resplendent with war feathers and beads.

In The Chicago Adventure, the boy’s trip to Chicago is an adventure that starts with an airplane ride over a storm and includes a visit to a museum, an elevated train ride, and a chance to perform on the radio at the Moody Bible Institute. In this story the boys learn that Jesus is the only way to heaven.

In The Secret Hideout, the boys learn and understand the parable of the lost sheep, while spending the night in a cave that has a hidden passage near the cemetery.

I felt blessed to have been able to review these audio books, and with how much Brendyn loves them, I may move them into the car as our new something-to-listen-to. We did receive this product free in exchange for this review. We have been blessed.

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