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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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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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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Three?

When you are a kid, weeks take too long, a month seems like forever, and years are just too large to fathom. How is it then, that as you get older, those years go by in the blink of an eye? How is humanly possible that my baby boy was born three whole years ago. When I can remember so clearly looking down at the wild-haired dark-eyed blessing God had given to us. That I can so clearly recall bringing him home from the hospital, and him meeting all his siblings. Even Brendyn can remember his first birthday so vividly. Wyatt, looking down at that cake as if to say, “Is this really all for me?”

It is so amazing to me, that even after six kids, that each kid is so different, with their own personality, their own quirks, their own “special-ness.” Wyatt has been a charmer since the day he was born. And he was the baby who was our baby for the longest time. So, it may be possible that is a little spoiled. He makes us laugh daily with his antics, or his looks, or his playing. He eats everything we put in front of him. He is happy to help and even happier to entertain. He loves to play with toys and with people. (Although his knock, knock jokes still need some work.)

He is a good big brother to Cassidy (he wants to play with her and kiss her, touch her and hug her, let her run her fingers through his crazy hair.) He is a good little brother. He adores his Bubby! It is often Brendyn that Wyatt wants to tuck him in, or Bubby who is his favorite (even though I keep trying to change his mind.)

Wyatt was baby number five. The baby that according to modern preconceptions, was too many. The baby that made us from a large family, into a too-big family. Imagine if we would’ve listened. If I would’ve stopped after four, or even worse, three, like “normal people” are supposed to do. I can’t imagine my life with out that big-headed, wild-haired, doe-eyed, smiling little boy.

We have been blessed! So Blessed! Happy Third Birthday Wyatt.

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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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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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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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