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.

Time Flies

…when you’re too busy! Austin has been laid off again, so we are putting all our efforts into farming and markets and enjoying getting to spend lots of time as a family. We have been in this season before (for three years – from two weeks before Adreya was born until the Monday after her third birthday) and we are not fearful about being in this season again. When Austin was out of work for three years, we saw over and over again how the Lord provided for us. And even though it has been just one month now, we are still faithful and He has been faithful to show us already how we are in His hands. So in the last month, we have prepared our ground, planted seeds, and have little sproutlings up. We are doing a second planting today to stagger our crop. We have started doing markets (right now by buying and reselling to secure our position until our own crops are in) and are enjoying the fellowship and friendly atmosphere, but mostly enjoying being together as a Family.

Somehow in all of that going on, even though we DID celebrate my middle princesses FOURTH birthday, I forgot to get on here and make a tribute to her. I love that no matter how many children you have, they each end up different … with different personalities, different attitudes, different likes … Adreya is our charmer. She is the one who people levitate towards. She is so beautiful with her silky dirty blond hair and has a sweet personality. She is a nurturer and quick to help, happy to please. She is the best at doing a job through to completion, and often is the one I can count on to do a job that her three bigger siblings would leave unfinished, or complain about – Adreya will take on the task, with a good cheerful attitude and see it through, smiling, and talking all the way. She makes my Mother’s heart happy.

Recently, when I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she answered “a very nice queen”, which I thought was a great answer!!! Brendyn answered that question with a chef (he loves to cook and try out new recipes – he has quite the repertoire of meals I can completely turn over to him now.) Tyler had a hard time deciding, because he just doesn’t know yet, although for the sake of an answer, he told me a police man. We’ll work on the strength and endurance that comes with that later!! Madelynne answered ” a homeschooling mommy” with four kids: Violet (her favorite toy), Virgil (grandpa’s middle name), Virginia (Grammy’s name), and Victor (the only other  boy v name we could think of). She also wants her husband to farm and do markets that way he can be home, although, she says, if he has to work for long times, she will “just have to look after all my four kids by myself.” Wyatt said he wanted to be a soldier, with his Bubba (Brendyn says he would like to go do a short military tour before becoming a chef and Wyatt idolizes his brother!). Cassidy couldn’t answer for herself, so I decided for her she should attempt to be a princess. She is already so good at it!

We have been blessed. Beyond all that we could EVER ask or think.

 

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Federal Income Tax Course

National Tax Training School very generously offered us the opportunity to review their Federal Income Tax Course. While deciding if we were a good candidate for this review (I do our family’s taxes, usually with the help of an online program), I was looking around their website and it occurred to me that this might be an excellent program for my Dad. He is retired, loves learning, and could use a few extra dollars. I talked to him about taking this class and he was interested. This is a course designed to help you learn the ins and outs of tax preparation, not only for yourself, but for others. They are the only nationally accredited correspondence school specializing in tax training. They prepare you to take the IRS Registered Tax Preparer Exam.

This course comes in two shipments. The first shipment you receive includes a huge binder with 20 lessons. Each lesson is said to take about 8 hours of study each. You can complete the course in as little as eight weeks, but you have one year to fully finish it. See the course outline. Also included are self-check practice tests and exams which are mailed in, graded, and sent back to you, with not only what you missed, but an explanation of why you missed it, and where to find that information in the lesson again to refresh on it. They even give you self-addressed envelopes that only require a stamp.

After you have completed lesson 17, you receive your next package, which includes your Final Exam (with envelope), a certificate order form, Practical Case Studies, a 15 page Guide to State Personal Income Taxes, information on taking the IRS Agent Examination, and two books.

The first book is Building,Marketing, & Operating a Profitable Tax Practice {a practical, step-by-step, working guide to running a successful, efficient, & lucrative professional tax practice}. This text outlines what you need to know to do taxes for others and includes sample letters, fees, how to expand your practice, ethical responsibilities, how to handle an audit, marketing, etc. The other book included is the Federal Tax Handbook for 2012. This is a huge volume of 834 pages (and a 75 page index) that starts with highlighting what is new, the tax calendar and quick reference card, and then goes into 26 chapters of information.

This is so much more than a test-prep course. This is a full education on preparing taxes. They offer two payment options. $795 for the course with 4 years of post-graduate support, or $495 with two years of post-graduate support. (Payment options are available). The post-graduate support gives you full access to their online, annual Tax Change Bulletins and allows you to be able to contact your instructor with any questions that will arise as your tax practice grows.

My dad can see the benefit of this course. It will allow him to be able to help others and maybe earn a fee by doing their taxes for them. He says it is a little “dry”, but not difficult to go through. The information is easily laid out and accessible. They are also working on an online version of this course. While I personally prefer to be able to hold what I am studying, the online accessibility will make testing much easier and the grading more immediate.

It was a true blessing to be able to review this course.

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Beeyoutiful

 

When I first heard about the BeeYouTiful Review, I was excited. I think a lot of us would rather use the most natural products we can for our children. However, my family had the Car-to-the-Mechanic or Baby-to-the-Doctor syndrome when it came time to review these wonderful products. You know what I’m talking about, right? You car is making a funny noise, right up until you drive into the mechanics driveway. Or your kid is feverish and listless until you get to the doctor, and then they are running around. All summer long, our family suffered with allergies, bumps and bruises, sunburn, chapped lips, etc. all right until we received these products to try out!

 

Beeyoutiful sent us a set of some popular products. The set included Berry Well, Ow! Ease, Miracle Skin Salve, Lip Balm, and the Beeyoutiful Views DVD.

 

The Berry Well syrup is what I was most looking forward to using, as my husband suffers from seasonal allergies. It is an elderberry, raw honey and Echinacea syrup used as a dietary supplement to fight against the flu, colds, and bacterial and viral infections. After a full two days of mowing and weeding our yard, I noticed my husband’s allergies start attacking him and I had him take the syrup. It smells odd, but he said it tasted good; none of the shudder or aftertaste of store-bought medication. The syrup did seem to lessen his allergies. It did not dry them up completely, but it lessened the symptoms, and he only had to take the syrup for a couple of days. It is sold for $19.75 for an 8 oz. bottle.

 

Ow! Ease was the product we just couldn’t seem to find occasion to use. You would think with six children in the house, we should be getting bumps and bruises daily, but not so for this period of time. Except for a curious two-year old rubbing his fingers through it, we weren’t able to put this product to use. It is a trauma salve used for strains, sprains, bruises, and contusions. It is used to soothe, restore, and actually speed tissue healing. It has an extra virgin olive oil based and is infused with chamomile, St. Johns Wort, organic arnica (which is a yellow daisy-like alpine flower), and cayenne. It is scented with essential oils, which makes it smell very nice (but not girly so that you could definitely use it for husbands or sons.) It is available for $15.00 for a 1 ounce tube.

 

The Miracle Skin Salve can be used for sunburn, chapped lips, diaper rash, painful wounds and burns. It is made with plantain leaf, comfrey root, calendula flowers and more. I was able to find the most ways to use this product. I burned my arm on splattering grease and it did soothe the burning pain very quickly. It works beautifully on chapped lips. And it soothes bug bites better than any of the over-the-counter products we have tried. I think this is the must-have product of the bunch! There are so many uses for this! It is sold for $15.00 for the 2 oz. tub (which is what we got and would last for a while!), or $25.00 for the 4 oz. tub.

 

The Lip Balm is again, all natural, and is a great lip moisturizer. It is available in Orange (which I got), and Peppermint, for a very reasonable price of $3 each. It is a great lip balm and I appreciated the fact that it had no alcohol in it. Many over-the-counter chap-sticks have alcohol which actually dry your lips out more, making you need more and more of them.

 

The Beeyoutiful DVD contains video of Stephanie Tallent sharing how she uses some of the most popular Beeyoutiful products with her family. I know there are other products that I will be diligently checking out and adding to our medicine cabinet. This is available for $3.00 and is a definite must-have for anyone wanting to switch over to a more natural approach to healing. She even instructs you on making a garlic poultice.

 

We feel blessed to have been able to review these products. We were sent these for free in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Music Together

Our family loves music. We are one of *those* families that like to have music going during chore time and during our seat-work time of school. We always have music going on in the car (usually a collection of all our favorite songs burned to the MP3 player). It seems someone is always singing, or humming. We sing together in the car, and often during our school day I am trying to find a song to go along with what we are learning! So, we felt blessed to be chosen for the  Music Together CD and Teacher’s Songbook review. Music Together started in 1987 as an Early Childhood music program for babies to second grade, using a research-based, developmentally appropriate curriculum that emphasizes and facilitates adult involvement. There are classes offered all over the United States (and in lots of countries), although the closest one to us personally is about 40 miles away.

Music Together has offered their Family Favorites CD with 19 of the best-loved songs for $14.95 for the CD, $9.95 for the download, or $0.99 for individual tracks. You can see a list of titles and preview the songs here. The only song on the CD that we knew prior to receiving this CD was “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad”. All the other songs were new to us. The CD starts with a Hello Song and ends with a Goodbye Song, which for some odd reason, my children think is really fun. We have another CD with a “Hello Song” so upon first hearing this NEW Song, their first reaction was “That is not how the Hello Song goes.” But this CD (and the Hello Song) grew on them. A lot of the songs have  sounds, instead of words, as a main portion of the tunes, which makes it easier (in my opinion) for little kids to feel like they can sing along. It seemed like with using sounds (la, dee, bo, dum) that the kids could focus on the rhythm and tune without feeling they needed to memorize the “words”. One of our favorite songs was “John the Rabbit”. This song has a call and response type of tune, where something is sung, and the response is “Yes Ma’am!” A good song for us, not only because it is about a garden (something we are working on), but is also emphasizes manners (something Mommy likes), but it allowed the kids to sing along right away!

The Teacher’s Songbook, which is offered individually for $29.95 has 112 pages of the music and teaching suggestions. Using the John the Rabbit song, the teaching book tells you what activities are used (Large Movement, Fingerplay, Call-and-Response, and Songbook illustrations); the music of the piece (E Major, Starting Pitch B, and Swing Meter); and also what instruments are used in the Recording (Guitar, Bass, Shaker, Body Percussion . Then the teacher’s guide goes on to give you the sheet music, a simple two color illustration and ways to act out the songs, dances or movements for the songs, and alterations for children with speech/social or sensory/physical special needs. We found fun ways to move and play with our instruments. These songs provoke action. You want to move while you are listening to them. You want the simple shaker and drum instruments for your little ones to play along.

The CD and Songbook are offered at a $5 savings when bought together ($39.95) and if you use the coupon code “Schoolhouse”, you can save an additional $2. We did receive both the CD and the Songbook free in exchange for this review. We feel very blessed.

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Early Settlers in America

Last year was our first year using a Unit Study curriculum. The idea of all of us studying the same curriculum on one topic but each kid at their own level really appeals to us. At the opportunity to review a Once-a-Week Unit Study from Homeschool Legacy, we were anxious to see another angle into the Unit Study option. These units last around six weeks and are designed to be used, as their name suggests, once a week. They are designed to bring the family together, instilling both a love for learning, and a love for the Lord. The Once-a-Week aspect is designed for you to take a break from regular studies. The only thing added during the week is the reading (individually, and as a family).

There are many units available. We were allowed the opportunity to review Early Settlers in America. This six-week study covers The Lost Colony (Roanoke), Jamestown, Holland, the Pilgrims, Pennsylvania, and New York. This unit is suggested for grades 2-12, but is easy to accommodate younger siblings as well.

These unit studies are basically no-prep, although a trip to the library is necessary and a quick peek at what’s coming is useful so you can have all your supplies on hand. All of the units are faith-based and cover the full range of curriculum, including Bible, Literature, Language Arts, History, Science, Art, Music and Geography. The idea is that once you choose your Unit Study day, you drop your main curriculum and focus on your unit study assignments, starting with the family devotional. (Some people choose to do this on Friday, and some on Saturday, when Dad can become involved in Field Trips, etc.)

This unit includes a weekly family devotional, book and movie suggestions, a simple History timeline, some geography, a research project, American crafts, life skills, discovery of life in the 1800s, Creative Writing assignments, Field Trip Suggestions, Suggestions for Family Game and Movie Night, and “Stump Your Dad” Trivia. Additionally, these units are designed to incorporate Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls Merit Badge Requirements for each unit study.

The “Getting the Most out of Your Once-a-Week Study” was very helpful and (oddly) is located at the end of the study. (I recommend reading it first.) For our family, I found it best to split out the Unit Study into daily increments and do  a little each day to keep with the routine and flow of our homeschool day. Although, I have little ones, so that routine is important to us. Older children would surely appreciate the “day off” feel of the curriculum.

The Early Settlers in America Study is available for $17.95. We received this free, however, in exchange for an honest review. We have been blessed.

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Children in Church

For a long time, God has been using a myriad of examples to prove to me over and over that my children and my family are the Ministry God has called me to.  Because of that, I found that over the past year it has really started to bother me that we get to church and my family separates into different places, only coming together again when church is over. It’s something Austin and I have talked about a lot. So, like how most things happen, I was thrilled to see Great Waters Press, (who published Raising Real Men by Hal and Melanie Young), offer up the opportunity to review a book called, Children in Church: Nurturing the Hearts of Worship, by Curt and Sandra Lovelace. This book is available for pre-order for $12 (with Free Shipping), by clicking here.

 

I received this 160 page book and sat and read it in one setting. And since then I have been back to it several times. My husband and I have talked about it. There are nine chapters: Beginnings, Elements, Decisions, Pointers, Preparations, Supplies, Hints, Conflicts, Observations and then a section called: Note to Church Leaders.

 

The beginning of the book lays out the foundation of why they believe that children worshipping together with their parents is biblical and the model that the early churches followed. There are several scripture references given, both Old and New Testament. Throughout the book they offer examples, pointers, tips all in the way of making it easier to teach your children how to sit in church respectfully and appropriately so that your family can be together. It is my personal belief (and I am sorry to be controversial for a second, here) but I do believe that Sunday School and Junior Churches and Teen Programs and other such programs were not created for Churched kids. It is my belief that they were created to bring the unchurched kids in and give them a safe environment for them to learn and grow. I think there is HUGE value to Children’s programs, especially in conjunction with a Bus or Van ministry. And I have been a proponent for a church nursery so that I could focus on a service and not feel like a juggler, trying to juggle keeping preschoolers quiet, toddlers still, and a baby quiet – all while trying to hold my Bible, or the hymnbook, listen to the preacher, and pray we’re not disturbing all the people within a ten foot radius. But, as I grow and learn, I desire for my family to be together. I desire for us to worship corporally, instead of individually. I desire to work through this book, using their examples and train my children to sit in church and enjoy the service with me.

 

This book has been a Godsend to me. It truly gives a Biblical basis for bringing our children into the worship services and offers practical help to make it not only survivable, but gives us ways to teach our children to engage in the service and worship the Lord. I feel blessed to have been able to review this book, and I hope that as time progresses, you will see our family, making more effort to worship together!

 

We received this book for free in exchange for a review. We have been blessed.

 

 

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31 candles

31 does not seem like a great number. The general consensus yesterday while receiving my birthday wishes seemed to be “31, really? Wow!” I know, I am getting older! But even though the number went up one and my sweet Adreya told me that I was “really old now. As old as Grandma Doane.” (Who, just as a reference, is 76!!), even though I got older …. yesterday was a really great birthday!

My kids tried their best to be sweet yesterday and indulged me with as many hugs as I asked for! My dearest best friend brought over her five children and we spent the day together and despite being in the house with ELEVEN children, I really enjoyed it and had so much fun! They brought a spa to my house, they baked me a pink lemonade cake and even brought my favorite flavor of ice cream! And then she brought over everything we needed to do Tie-Dye (which I had never done before). So soon I will have a new long tie-dye skirt to add to my wardrobe and all the kids will have a neat T-shirt of their own creation!

Once Austin got home from work, he and my Mom took me out for dinner where I had a very yummy steak! Sitting at dinner surrounded by the people I love the most, and then reminiscing on the way home … I could only come up with one thing – I really am SO incredibly blessed! Happy Birthday to Me.

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Family Time Fitness

 

After seeing the booth for Family Time Fitness at the FPEA Convention, I knew I wanted to add them to my “must buy” curriculum list. When I saw their name on the possible list for review, I held my breath and prayed we’d get to review the Fitness 4 Home School Core 1 Curriculum. And we were blessed enough to be chosen! This is a physical education curriculum designed for kids K-8 that can be taught with the teacher having no prior phys ed knowledge. What really “drew me in” at the convention is the guy telling me he hands this to his oldest child, and that child taught P.E. for his other children. That is exactly how we used this program!

For a small amount of $57, you get 260 lessons. Each lesson takes about 30 – 45 minutes and are intended at 3 days per week. Although, I like to get my children outside every day, so we did four times a week, with Friday being “free play” day. All the lessons are PDF so there are lots of options, including reading it on the computer, a kindle, nook, i-pad, or printing it. There is the FULL lesson (which is two pages) or a Summary (which is one page per lesson). There are demonstration videos showing the proper way to do each exercise.

The equipment needed is minimal (things like a bean bag, hula hoop, balls). There are warm up Exercises (which is about three to five different things), and then Activity/ Game Play (a couple more exercises that help with skills), A Cool Down (about two to three stretching type exercises) and an outdoor activity. We reviewed this during our rainy season, so for most days the kids could not do their exercises out doors, but our living room worked just fine for most things!

We did this curriculum during our lunch break. For us, I printed the two page (full detail) instructions and handed them to my oldest (who is 11), Brendyn, and he led the others through the stretches and exercises while I got lunch ready. It was fun to peek around the corner and see them in their stretching moves and hearing Brendyn “coach” them through their repetitions. There were a couple of things that my kids are going to have to build up to (like 60 jumping jacks), but for the most part they Really enjoyed seeing what they would be doing and tried their best to attempt and finish everything. The variety helped keep it fun and interesting. My littlest kids loved trying everything out and doing the exercises.

This is something we will definitely keep as part of our ongoing curriculum, maybe even upgrading to the other options!! We feel blessed to have been able to review this curriculum. We did receive this free in exchange for a review.

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Lots and Lots of Penguins

Last year we were able to review Lots and Lots of Firetrucks from Marshall Publishing. So we were excited to be  allowed  the opportunity to review Lots and Lots of Penguins and Their Happy Feet. My kids love penguins and we are fortunate enough that we have been able to see them at our local zoo. Our zoo here has the tropical variety of penguins. We have also seen the Arctic variety while visiting Sea World a couple of years ago. It seems the fascination with penguins is on the rise with certain movies highlighting Penguins.

This set includes 2 DVD’s – Lots & Lots of Playful Penguins and their Toe-Tappin’ Happy Feet , and Lots & Lots of Penguins in the Wild! , plus a bonus animated music DVD – Party Like a Penguin! Regularly priced at $39.90, you can get the whole set now – just $19.95!

Lots and Lots of Penguins and Their Happy Feet is approximately 75 minutes long and has lots of footage of penguins in both natural and captive environments. There are lots of facts and trivia about all SEVENTEEN varieties of penguins from all around the world. Other animals are featured as well, such as polar bears, seals, and wild birds. This is cute and entertaining and is set to the backdrop of “toe-tapping” music. We found this was really cute to put on during chore time when the upbeat songs carried us along and the footage would catch our eyes for a moment or two during break-times.

Also included was the  really cute animated dance segment, called Party Like A Penguin,  that entertained the kids and had them dancing along.

In Volume 2, Lots & Lots of Penguins in the Wild, you are taken to Antarctica, Australia, and other areas and see Penguins in their natural habitat, the wild. In this 30 minute video, you see and hear the penguins while they take care of their babies, feed them, build nests, and get to see them playing and swimming. The camera men get on the penguins level to see what they see and is really interesting to watch.
We received this DVD set free in exchange for our honest review. We have been blessed.

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Uncover Exciting History

My darling eleven year old son would like a Kindle for Christmas. And I am as-of-yet undecided about it. What I love about it is that there are SO MANY educational applications and books available!  Recently, I have been able to review such an e-book on my personal Kindle. Golden Prarie Press has allowed us the chance to review Uncover Exciting History, by Amy Puetz.

This book has 25 Chapters, with four Bonus Chapters, with each chapter offering short  stories (about 5-6 pages each) about Christian Heritage topics such as Christopher Columbus, The Story of the Constitution, The Mexican War, The Oregon Trail, The Pony Express, The Navajo Code Talkers, Marco Polo (and so many more). After each story is a Digging Deeper Section that offers questions, and activities to further investigate into the topics.

Cautiously, I allowed Brendyn to borrow my Kindle and read this book, as he has a genuine love and interest for ANYTHING History-related.

I am going to interject quickly to say, my son likes History, and I as a general rule do not …. Unfortunate, I know…. However, this only presents a problem when upon instances like this, where my son finds it necessary to tell me all the “exciting” facts he learns while reading “fascinating” history. For instance, Chapter Eight, “Crossing the Delaware” here is the conversation.

“Mom, you know the Battle of Trenton?”

Me: “No”

“You know, during the Revolutionary War?”

Me: Um, yeah, okay.

“George Washington didn’t lose any men and the other guys lost 21 guys, 90 were wounded, and 900 were taken captive. Can you believe that?”

Me: Yeah, wow!

He enjoyed the book, and the stories were short enough that I could “lend” him my Kindle for short periods of time to allow him to read the stories. This book sells for $11.96 as an E-book, available in Kindle, Nook, or PDF format. Or as an illustrated print book for $15.96.

We did receive this free in exchange for this review. We are so blessed.

 

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