Sunday, November 27, 2011

Our Sunday To-Do List

1.  Sunday School and Church this morning (lovely service)
2.  Run by Target to get the (nearly) last of our Christmas presents
3.  Eat Lunch
4.  Celebrate the first Sunday of Advent
(with candles, scripture and songs)
5.  Have a Family Sing Off (Christmas songs)
6.  Put up the Christmas Tree
7.  Finish addressing Christmas cards 
8.  Play a Game
9.  Watch The Next Iron Chef on Food Network
10.  Have Bedtime Ritual by the lighted Christmas Tree

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

My Seven Wonders of the World

My Seven Wonders of the World are:
 - experiencing love, deep and abiding
 - experiencing soul cleansing forgiveness
 - experiencing grace, unmerited
 - experiencing unspeakable joy
 - experiencing peace that passes understanding
 - experiencing miracles, with eyes wide-open
 - experiencing hope found only in Christ

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Wonder of WonderMaps!

Oh. My. We have been blessed to try out an awesome new resource called WonderMaps from Bright Idea Press!  With this program, you can print over 350 maps, ranging from world, regional, historic and state focus, each customized with the details of your choice.  It is so much fun to use and very user friendly.  The possibilities of use with this program are endless.  Not only do the producers provide an list of several creative and exciting potential cross-curriculum uses, but the system also coordinates with both
The Mystery of History and All American History curriculums. 

This year we are using Veritas Press' Old Testament and Ancient Egypt Series and I can see many opportunities to utilize WonderMaps to augment our study.  Also, we are currently reading Little House on the Prairie as part of our night time ritual.  I printed each child a map of the "Heartland" of the United States.  I had them color the states that the Ingall's family have traveled through.  They had so much fun with this and it helps bring into focus the reality of the distance and struggles of the Ingall's journey. 

So, so many fun and creative possibilities!  You can learn much more about this incredible educational resource by checking out the following sites:

Request a free educational resource catalogue at

As a member of Timberdoodle's Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of WonderMaps in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Blessing ~ a book review

I recently finished a book that I have long wanted to read - The Blessing by John Trent and Gary Smalley. 

from the front cover - "Giving the Gift of Unconditional Love and Acceptance"

from the back cover - "Children of every age long for the gift of "the blessing" - the unconditional love and approval that come from a healthy relationship with their parents.  This lift-changing gift, essential for instilling a deep sense of self-worth and unshakable emotional well-being, contains five essential elements......"

This updated edition of the book, originally published in 1986,  thoroughly outlines implementing the "five essential elements."  It details the application of each element and offers real-life examples of both individuals who experienced that element and those who suffered the lack of it.  Utilizing personal anecdotes and scripture, Trent and Smalley present their strategies both with clarity and compassion.  In addition, the authors pepper the chapters with noted links to further resources online at their website The reader is left confident that they too, can offer "the Blessing" to each of their own children and to the other significant people in their life. 

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  As mentioned earlier, I have long wanted to read it and count it an honor to have it as a parenting/life resource.  It is thorough, but very readable.

I received a complementary copy of this book for review from
The opinions are my own.

Monday, August 22, 2011

in praise

1921. bedtime ritual again
1922. the comfort of rituals
1923. always grace
1924. reading aloud Little House on the Prairie
1925. Stevia in the Raw (I like my coffee even better now, Jennifer!)
1926. rearranging furniture
1927. my office space
1928. our school room
1929. the freshness of repurposed spaces
1930. kids journaling in their night-time journals
1931. looking at their journal entries with them
1932. today's early morning walk
1933. being drenched with sweat
1934. the blessing of a cool shower
1935. new lotion
1936. in our 3rd week of school
1937. antibiotics for strept throat
1938. the sound of my kitchen fountain
1939. the tapping of my computer keys
1940. shutting my eyes
1941. getting a letter in the mail
1942. a dad's homeschool prayer group for my husband to be a part of

Friday, August 5, 2011

our 2011-2012 homeschool schedule

As always I really, really enjoy designing and planning each year's homeschool schedule.  The grade levels that I am teaching this year are 6th, 3rd, and 1st.  This schedule is what we are aiming for on Monday through Thursday.

8:00 - 8:30 Morning Devotions
8:30 - 9:00 1st Silent Reading (each child will read out of a pre-chosen grade level book)
9:00 - 12:00 Grammar & Math Instruction/Seatwork
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch
1:00 - 2:00 History (M/W)/Science (T/Th)
2:00 - 2:30 Mom Read Aloud Time (probably history/science related)
2:30 - 3:00 Peer Spelling Drill/3rd graders read aloud to me
3:00 - 3:30 2nd Silent Reading

Friday's schedule looks like this:
8:00 - 8:30 Morning Devotions
8:30 - 9:00 Silent Reading
9:00 - 10:00 Math Testing (all)
10:00 - 11:00 Comprehension Quizzes/Handwriting (completion of a History Review Sheet in their best handwriting - doing double duty here)
11:00 - 12:00 Art Activity or additional History/Science Project
12:00 - 1:00 Lunch

I have also come up with a Daily Rhythm for which to aim.  I have never tried this before, so we will see how it works.   

 - Good Morning! + Breakfast (7:30 A.M.)
 - Morning Devotions
 - Homeschool
 - Daily Chores (Desk Ready, Public Rooms, Bedrooms)
 - Free Time
 - Supper + Kitchen Cleanup
 - Free Time
 - Night-time Ritual (8:00)
         TV off
         Pajamas + Brush Teeth
         Prayers + Monthly Memory Verse
         Journal + Story
 - Bedtime (9:00 P.M.)
 - Good Night!  Lights Out! (9:15)

I really enjoy reading other's schedules and plans, so I thought I would put mine up!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Desiring God

I have recently finished reviewing Desiring God, a DVD Study, by John Piper.  Quoting Piper, "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."  So simple, yet so profound.  Piper supports this premise scripturally and it is a result of many years of study. John Piper is the Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  This DVD presentation is set up as a 5 hour topical study to a small audience.  While the trappings of this presentation were a bit less sophisticated (use of overhead projector as opposed to powerpoint), Piper's delivery was both personable and engaging.  I found the message of this text both challenging and thrilling. 

From the back of the study guide - "This study guide companion to the DVD version of Desiring God - the classic explanation of Christian hedonism by John Piper - will help individuals and groups understand that the supreme calling of life is to "glorify God by enjoing Him forever." "

I received a complementary copy of this book for review from   The opinions are my own.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Growing Up Amish ~ a compelling read

When I was a young girl, I checked out biographies by the stack, laid across my bed and read my summer days away.  When I was in my early twenties, I read through the published diaries and letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  Since that time, my taste has shifted more to prefering fiction titles.  Then, I read Growing Up Amish by Ira Wagler.  I have read many fictional accounts of Amish life, all of which have been written by women.  Most of those women had a least some real connection to people of
 Mennonite or Amish backgrounds, lending credibility to the accounts. 
Never have I read a like book from a male perspective. 

This non-fiction story is an autobiographical telling of Wagler's childhood up until his mid-twenties.  He recounts details of Old Order Amish life and many challenges he faced.  This work was both compelling and provocative.  Even though the back of the book tells you clearly that Wagler leaves the religious background of his youth, even knowing how it would end, I could barely put the book down.  Wagler has such a gift for capturing his experiences in words, that the end result is a life-story that is both honest and yet tender.

I recieved a complementary copy of this book for review from 
The comments are my own.

Monday, June 13, 2011

from the gratitude journal

1363.  friends enjoying Gracie in Sunday School
1364.  focusing
1365.  setting boundaries on commitments
1366.  sunlight spearing up and down on a strand of cobweb
1367.  M and J cleaning laundry room on their own
1368.  Gracie sleeping
1369.  coffee ready to drink
1370.  a day spanning before me unmarked by outside obligations
1371.  being able to work on projects
1372.  being reminded - nothing matters more than each interaction - careful attention to words and attitudes
1373.  14 years of marriage marked today!

To learn more about the joys of journalling gratitude visit !

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Please Pray

Please pray for my dear homeschooling friend Marie, who blogs at  She is having surgery Tuesday.  Please pray for peace and healing.  Thank you!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

may book of days

 Papa has been playing and repairing his clarinets.

S learns to ride her bike without training wheels!

We celebrated Mother's Day.

We visited our local agricultural museum.

We also visited our local science museum!

The children have discovered the wondrous possibilities of hot glue!

We celebrated the end of the school year with our homeschool group.

E, M, J and S participated in the homeschool play.

J won first place in the derby car races!

We all signed up for the summer reading program at our library.

E played beautifully in her piano recital!

We watched our nephew/cousin graduate from high school.

Papa was promoted to Captain in the State Guard and participated in the security detail for the annual
Trail of Honor.

Also during this month, as a family, we learned Matthew 6:9-13 and read The Ordinary Princess, poetry of A. A. Milne, and continued The Hobbit.  Last week, we brought home our ninth foster baby, Gracie!
It was truly a fun and busy month!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Happy Birthday M!

We celebrated M's 10th birthday in April - double-digits!!! She is an active girl who loves riding her bike and rollerblading.  She also has a great sense of style.  Quick, inquisitive and compssionate, M is a treasure and we are blessed to have her as our daughter!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Money Secrets of the Amish ~ a book review

I just completed reading Money Secrets of the Amish - Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing, and Saving by Lorilee Craker.  Cracker is of Mennonite heritage and is a New York Times Best-Selling Author.  This book was a response to the strained economic times in which most Americans are now finding themselves.  Yet despite these economic challenges, many of the Amish, though not immune to the "economic downturn" themselves, seem to be keeping their heads above water, financially, more than many of their "fancy" counterparts.  Cracker divided up her narrative into 12 chapters that challenge the reader to rethink how they shop, how they do gift-giving, and bartering services among many other topics.  Included at the end of each chapter are specific challenge prompts to engage the reader in trying out these savvy spending, sharing and saving ideas.

I enjoyed reading  this book and have come away inspired to rethink many areas of my own spending and saving.  I want to look into buying some food items locally (fruits, vegetables, eggs, etc.)  and possibly learn the canning process.  Just typing that last sentence makes me a little nervous - as I have hardly ever canned anything in my life and from what I have seen is always a time consuming activity.  I am thinking of how I can be more creative/economical in my gift-giving and how I can greater utilize local thrift stores to make our dollars go further. 

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from  The comments are my own.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything, is to succumb to the violence of our times.”

— Thomas Merton

Monday, May 23, 2011

Top Ten Treasures from Our Camping Trip

1.  submerging in a nature-filled setting, while having the comfort of an air-conditioned cabin
2.  staring at the water
3.  gazing into the green of the trees
4.  listening to my kids and husband as they built sand castles
5.  disconnecting from the internet/computer and clock
6.  the biggest decision facing me - whether to read, crochet or nap
7.  feeling myself, literally unwind
8.  the kid's freedom to wander
9.  walking in a new setting
10.  roasting marshmallows

Come join the listing fun at !

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Desert Gift ~ a book review

I recently finished the book, Desert Gift, by Sally John.  This book is a part of John's series, Side Roads.  The main character of this book, Jillian Galloway, is a popular marriage expert, who is on the brink of even greater acclaim.  She has a large radio following and a newly published book.  Marriage expert though she may be, her own marriage appears to have fallen apart, as the book begins with her husband asking her for a divorce.  The story follows Jillian and her husband as they seek to find new footing in this phase of their lives.

I wanted to like this book, but I did not.  While some of the characters were well developed and showed authentic depth, the character of Jillian's husband, Jack, was a critically weak link to the whole story.  I could neither relate to his responses to the situation that he caused, nor find his character even believable.  He came off as shallow and nearly, if this could be possible as a main character, as an afterthought.  He simply made little sense in this story, yet by virtue of his position in the story, could not be overlooked.  For me the character of Jack ruined the story.

I received a complementary copy of this book for review from  The opinions are my own.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Plain Wisdom ~ a book review

I recently completed the book Plain Wisdom by Cindy Woodsmall and Miram Flaud.  This non-fiction work is a collaboration between an Englishcer, Woodsmall, and an Old Order Amish woman, Flaud.  Over a period of several years, Woodsmall, has spent time visiting with and living in Flaud's world.  The camaradarie between these two unlikely kindred spirits brings a gentle sweetness to the book.  Throughout the book the authors recount various life experiences and how their faith impacted these experiences.  The readings are broken down into short essays.  The section headings are "The Rhythm of Life," "Timeless Blessings," "Challenges Great and Small," "Laughter in Odd Places," "Beauty, Ashes and Things Between," " In His Hands," and "The Shape of Tomorrow." 

Having previously read most of Beverly Lewis' Amish-themed works and some of Woodsmall's I have always been fascinated by the details, especially the running of the home and kitchen, that make up this particular lifestyle. I have visited Lancaster, Pennslyvania and surrounding towns.  While there I tasted recipes unique to their culture and got a small veiw into the Amish world.  While I would never personally want to live under the seemingly rigid religeous/governmental order that they embrace, I find the simpler, "close to the earth," lifestyle fascinating.  Therefore to have a birds-eye veiw into the thoughts of a modern day Old Order Amish woman's heart, was too exciting to pass up.  I found this book easy to read and engaging.

I received a complementary copy of this book for review by  The comments are my own. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nick of Time

Nick of Time is a suspense novel in the "bug man" series by Tim Downs.  Downs' main character, Nick Polchak, is a renowned forensic entomologist.  He is also delightfully quirky man who maintains a dry sense of humor throughout the book.  A forensic entomologist helps solve murders through studying bugs found at the crime scene.  This book begins with less than a week to go before Nick is to be married.  A colleague requests Nick's help in solving an old case.  The two agree to meet up at the monthly Vidocq meeting.  Once Nick arrives, however, things quickly fall apart.  True to his nature, Nick becomes absorbed in the details of this case, leaving his fiancee, Alena, to wonder if Nick can commit to this marriage.  And, will Nick return in the "nick of time" for his own wedding?

This is the third book that I have read by Tim Downs.  Like the others, I found Nick of Time engaging and easy to read.  There were times that I busted out laughing while reading it.  (Which means that I will be reading this one out loud to my husband!)  The plot is tight and fast paced.  This book was definitely a delight to read.

I received a complementary copy of this book from  The comments are my own.

Thank You!

I want to say thank you to each one that has been praying for my mom!  The NG tube was removed on Monday morning because the blockage had cleared.  She was discharged from the hospital yesterday and is recovering well at home.  Thank you for your prayers!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Please Pray For My Mom

My mama is in the hospital recovering from a complete hysterectomy and the removal of an adrenal mass.  She has developed a small obstruction in her small intestine.  She has been in misery since early this morning.  The nausea has been relentless and is not responding to the medicine she is being given.  It is so hard watching her suffer.  On top of that they had to insert an NG tube, which, of course, is causing her much discomfort. Please, please pray that the obstruction will quickly pass and that my mama will soon have relief from the nausea.  
Thank you so very much.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Max on Life

I just completed reading the book Max on Life - Answers and Insights to Your Most Important Questions by Max Lucado.  In this book Lucado responds to many questions which are organized under the broader formats of Hope, Hurt, Help, Him/Her, Home, Haves/Have-Nots, and Hereafter.  The questions are numbered (there are 172 of them) and there is a topical reference section in the back of the book, thus making this book VERY user friendly.  Among the questions addressed are ones dealing with the purpose of our lives, dealing with disappointments and pain, handling personal finances and a myriad of other questions common to most people.  In addition, at the back of the book, Lucado offers pointers on the need and value of well written words.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  This is the first book that I have read by Max Lucado.  His gift of expression, explanation and harnessing the written word is literally astounding.  I read the book, cover to cover, even though typically, one would probably locate the particular question and just read from there.  Lucado's work is backed up with scriptures throughout.  His answers are compassionate and thoughtful, yet succinct.  This is most definitely a book I will treasure keeping and one that I know will be a valuable reference tool.  I would highly recommend this book as not only a great read but also as a great resource for ministry.

I received a complementary copy of this book for review from .  The opinions are my own.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Top Ten Tuesday ~ Reasons I Love Foster Parenting

1. It is an exciting adventure, each one unique and of eternal impact.

2. There is the excitement of getting the initial call from the social worker, asking if we could take a baby!

3. It is neat being a part of the process of growing families.

4. There is the inexpressible joy that is new life.

5. My heart melts watching my husband tenderly talking to a fussy baby in the middle of the night.

6. I am humbled by the God-made changes (increased patience and tolerance, for example) in each person in our family.  These changes make fostering possible for our family.

7. I am thankful for each painful lesson that God is teaching me about limited control and letting go.

8.  There is nothing quite like the feel of a newborn snuggled up on your chest.

9.  I cherish the opportunities to pray over each baby and pour love into their precious life.

10.  Lastly, I love being involved in something bigger than myself and something bigger than my capacity to accomplish apart from God's enabling grace.
I'm truly humbled and privileged to be living a God-sized dream.

Please join the listing fun at !

Nest Swap Show and Tell

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in the recent "Nest Swap" hosted by Monica at and Carrie at

My swap partner was Ruth Odell, Monica and Carrie's mom.  I had so much fun preparing items for the box that I sent her (you can see a picture of what I sent on Monica's blog).  I sent 2 gift books, 2 handmade bookmarks with charms, 3 dish clothes that I crocheted, 2 sets of hand stamped cards, a springime bowl of chocolates, 2 candles and a coupon holder.  I had received a wedding gift in the container in which I put Ruth's happies. With the chicken wire on the sides, it seemed to go perfect for the theme! 

It was a delight to receive my special box also!

I received a hymn cd, shopping pads, flower seeds, post-it notes, a flower gift tag, pink pens, flower pot stakes, peeps for the kids (thanks!), a gift book, a ladle, a purse pack of kleen-ex, "HE IS RISEN" out of scrabble pieces (love, love, love this!), chapstick, a candle wrapped like a lolly-pop (so cute!), packets of tea, a journal, ideas for putting together a Easter basket (so neat) including the linen cloth, a burp towel for our foster babies (how sweet!), and a new sponge (it is always such a treat to get a new sponge!).  It was all placed in a beautiful, nature-inspired photo box. 
Thank you so much, Ruth, for your thoughtfully put together box!!!