Monthly Archives: September 2011

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Review: Establishing the Home Vineyard

I was provided an audio recording of Establishing the Home Vineyard for my honest and unbiased review.
First of all, Shelley Noonan’s voice is very pleasant to listen to. That is one of the most important factors to me in an audio program so that I can listen comfortably to the information given.
I really enjoyed that although some secular sources of business advice were used – that information was still tied to the work of the Proverbs 31 woman. She also used her own business experiences (she has 2 long term successful businesses) to illustrate the decisions in a real way.
There is great information on how to choose the home business that is right for you including questions to ask yourself that are based on the Proverbs 31 woman’s purchase of her vineyard. Shelley has also included potential pitfalls of home business so that you can be prepared.
The biggest surprise, for me, was that I expected this recording to be focused on mainly online business, but I was pleasantly surprised that the advice is beneficial for both offline and online businesses – mostly because it is all based on Scripture which is always relevant. Even as an existing business owner, there were lots of things that made me think and I’m excited to put my new knowledge into practice.

Electronic Vacation (WW)

This is going to be my wordiest Wordless Wednesday EVER  lol

Five Minutes into our “Experiment”, the doubts started. A weekend without electronics?!? Had I LOST MY MIND? As it turns out the answer, loud and clear, was a resounding No.

So, what did we do on this electronic holiday you ask?  Well….

Within 15 minutes, I happened across the kids playing together in Monkey’s room (which she rarely allows)

We said goodbye to an era…. My daughter got rid of all her Barbies, Play Dishes, Fairies, etc… It kind of hit me that she is growing up and putting away childish things……

Jacket designed by Monkey

but, before we put them into the Garage Sale box, we got to play together dressing them – because everyone knows you can’t (or shouldn’t) sell naked Barbies.  We also marveled over some of the outfits she had created for them using scrap fabric.  LOL

I refused to let her get rid of this little beauty though – this is a “Board Game” that the Monkey made when she was about 8 years old called “Mathematical Bell”  I put it up high in her closet because I figure it will be fun when she discovers it again when packing up her room to go to college or get married. :-)

We played with Play-Doh together.

 Rex with his penguin army and Monkey with her pretty star.

Rex learned how to climb a tree that he’s had his eye on (AND how to get down)

We did the Laundry (two weeks worth – yikes!)

We went grocery shopping and then cooked most of the week’s meals. (and made quite a mess doing it…)

and, then we cleaned up the Kitchen together (nope, no picture – you’ll just have to trust me…)  – which left us enough time to Play Canasta! 

 What a GREAT weekend!  Rex even suggested that we make it a regular thing and I think he’s on to something there….because this is the first weekend in a long time that I can remember thinking – Wow, that just went by TOO fast!

YOUR TURN:  How do you make sure that your family has quality (as well as quantity) time together?

Weekend Family Time

A guest post by my friend, Jamerrill, of Holy Spirit-Led Homeschooling, on my other friend Amy’s blog, Raising Arrows, (how is that for a mouth-full?!?) entitled Simple Ways to Reach the Hearts of Our Children came into my world just at the right time.  I was considering an experiment this weekend, and her post really stuck it to me that I needed to go ahead and do it.

What is the experiment you ask?  Welllll, in about 20 minutes, the kids and I will be electronic free until Monday morning.  I gave us all 30 minutes to finish up what we were working on, and then there will be no computers, DS, Wii this weekend and TV will be severely limited (as in only if Daddy has a show that he wants to watch with them.) 

At first there was stunned silence, but then they seemed to warm up to the idea VERY quickly – especially when they heard that this is applying to Mom too  :-)  

So, I’ll see you on Monday morning, and I can’t wait to report how our weekend goes – please pray that God blesses this time that we’re going to focus on one another and on our home.

Turn Dinner into a World Adventure

Have you ever read the book Cheaper by the Dozen? I’m sure you have but in case you need a refresher – the dad is an efficiency expert and he used to put educational things all over their walls so that the children could learn while doing other more mundane tasks such as brushing their teeth or er – using the facilities.

I’m always looking for ways to put things up on the walls because I’ve found that my children will just stop and look at it. So, they may just be walking by the world map and something grabs their attention – and, quite honestly, the same happens with Dad and I too :) Having a smallish house, we are always on the lookout for new creative ways to display information. And, recently I happened across a website (oh how I wish I could give credit but I can’t remember where it was) that had the idea of laminating a map and putting it on your dining room table.

What a great idea – especially since my table has bits of the wood covering flaking up due to a very unfortunate experience with clay – but I digress….

So, I went to Staples a while back and they had a Laminated World Map that was the PERFECT size for my table for only $10. I came home and all excited rolled it out and put it on the table. It was so pretty! And, since then, we stopped eating at the table. It became a dumping ground for books and papers.

Why you might ask….well, I didn’t want to eat over it because I knew that it would be a pain to have to clean up under the map should anything spill – and, because we weren’t eating there that made it a prime target for all those odds and ends.

So, now I couldn’t SEE my pretty map NOR did we use the table for anything functional. But, then I remembered something!

I have, sitting in a corner, a roll of plastic “fabric” that I got to cover a bench once. So, last night after we cleaned off the table to play a card game, I decided to fix this problem that’s been bugging me.

First I secured the map with a couple of those Poster Strip things that you can just pull straight and they pop off the wall (or the table) and then I got the plastic sheet out and rolled out just the right amount to make a tablecloth.

I’m hoping that this will make it possible to eat here AND enjoy the map. I think it turned out pretty great – what do you think?

YOUR TURN:  What are some of your favorite ideas to put educational materials in front of your children? 

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God’s Workin’ On Me

Do you ever have those times when everything you see, hear, and do always seem to point back to the same issue in your life that you need to work on?  That’s me right now.  God is definitely working in my life on some deficiencies in the way of housekeeping and scheduling.  I know that I’m not successful in these areas – and, I’ve tried to be better.  But it never worked – wanna know why?

Because I didn’t take it to God!  I’ve always considered those tasks too trivial for Him – that I am only supposed to go to Him for the big things.  But, I’m learning that for one thing – God wants us to be good homemakers.  If He took the time to put it in the Bible, then surely it’s important enough for me to seek his guidance – right?!?  Not to mention, nothing is too small to God – I have really been coming to that position where I’m being reminded that He is God the FATHER – and, that just as we can talk to our earthly father about things that are going on in our lives, so can we go to our Heavenly Father with those issues as well. 

So, right now I am definitely face down before God in this area where I have a huge deficit.

For the time being, my focus is on the Kitchen – if the kitchen is a mess, then everything else is in chaos – so, that’s where I’m starting.  My #1 goal to begin with is for clean counters every night before we go to bed – no matter how tired I am – I have to build the discipline to do it – Now!

YOUR TURN: What is the most important area to take care of in your household?  What hints and tips can you give me (and other readers) to help automate our homes?

Not Always as It Seems (WW linky)

Peaceful to Look at…….Difficult to Do

Shrimp Boat picture taken by Gidget on 9/9/2011

Raising an Artist

I know, I know – it should be “Rearing an Artist” but it just sounded too weird to make it the title…

Monkey (age 12) LOVES drawing.  She’s loved it for as long as I can remember.  Even when she was 4, she would practice fingers and hands for hours on end.  I am definitely raising an artist.  This presents special needs in planning her school curriculum.  I know that there are certain skills she needs as an adult, but I really want to just let her loose on her passions.  Won’t she learn math with her sewing that she wants to learn or with her music that she learns on her own?

One thing that I insist on her studying though is Art – doesn’t that seem odd that I insist on the one subject she loves?  Well, the thing is that she has self taught herself so much that, quite frankly, it’s hard for her to believe that the exercises in the book are going to do her any good.  But, she’s coming around – thank goodness – because I can see that it does help her even if she can’t yet. Her real love is Manga  (which sadly is not represented in any of the master’s work lol) The attached photos are of two of her original characters she has designed.

I know that I am completely biased (and what mother isn’t?!?), but she has such a talent that I wanted to make sure that we chose a program that would both challenge her AND keep her attention.  Most programs I found were just too basic, but I finally found what I was looking for and exactly what we needed.

The Art Curriculum that she’s using now is God and the History of Art. We began using this program last year and it has been absolutely wonderful – which is a good thing since you have to buy both books together  :-)

The reasons that I love this program:

  • Copy the Masters (very Charlotte Mason concept)
  • Samples that are chosen are tasteful ie no nudes (although nudes are discussed at an age appropriate level for the 10 and up crowd)
  • Lessons focus in on basics – shading, color mixing, etc… using colored pencils, paints, and markers
  • Teaches the HISTORY of art (as well as artists) intermixed within the lessons themselves
  • Comes with Postcard Sized duplications Paintings
  • After learning the bio of an artist, then they typically look at several of that artist’s works
  • Samples of work by other students (and Moms) included throughout the book
  • Both books could easily last 4 years (doing 2 assignments a week)

All in all, this is a great program that is challenging enough for the artistically talented – while also taking the information step by step for those who may not be so inclined (yours truly included in that list.)  We only do 2 assignments a week because I don’t want to rob her of the joy that is her art – but, I do think that she is learning the tools that will allow her to SOAR with her talent.

As an extra note: How Great Thou Art Publications publishes books for all ages and they have many different choices available!  This is a top notch company that puts out a quality product.

YOUR TURNWhat talents are you trying to nurture and what programs have fit the bill – or are you still looking for that perfect fit? 

Homeschool Online Resources for Games & Printouts

OK, so Stef over at Educating Layton sent out a call for Websites with printouts, quizzes, etc…  So, here are the sites that we have found most useful and go back to again and again.  Everything on this list is free unless otherwise noted.

Sheppard Software – This site is an all around great site with lots of games.  We use the Geography portion to learn the counties of the world.

Seterra – a GREAT geography program for download! One cool feature is that it has the flags of countries as well.

Enchanted Learning – this site has lots of printables available – some require a subscription to print out but you can look at even those to give you ideas.

Apples4theteacher – has printables as well as interactive forms on a wide variety of subjects

D-maps – Outline and blank maps – has a huge assortment of different regions and including water or not including water – this one has to be seen to be believed :) – has some pretty good printables – especially for unit studies

Grammar Revolution – Grammar the Easy Way :) She has broken down Grammar concepts and includes how to diagram each of the 8 parts of speech – We use this in conjunction with KISS

KISS grammar – a free grammar program designed by a college professor – no matter where you are, he suggests to start at the beginning for at least a review – worked for us!

Weather Wiz Kids – Great kid friendly site (once you choose a topic) about different weather events

World Atlas – this one my mom sent to me and it is awesome!  It’s an interactive World Atlas right on your screen – how cool is that?

YOUR TURN: What online tools and sites have you found to be useful in your homeschool?

Click on over to Educating Layton and link up your post or tell me about it in the comments section and I’ll add it to my list – giving you credit of course :)

The Day that Changed Everything

by Danny Hahlbohm
available for Sale from for $7.99 plus shipping.

I’ve been putting off writing this post – I admit it – but not because I didn’t want to write it – but because I want to make sure that I honor those lost on that horrific day.

I heard about the first plane while dropping my daughter off at Pre-k.  By the time I got home, the 2nd plane had hit – and, at that moment I knew that 2 planes was NO accident.  Actually, I take that back – I had an initial thought that something was wrong with the flight electonics – that something was transmitting an incorrect flight path.  It actually wasn’t until the Pentagon that I knew without a shadow of a doubt that this was planned &something very very bad was happening.

My “baby” was truly a baby then – he was 6 mos old.  I think about that whenever we talk about how long it’s been.  I think about the fact that that day truly changed EVERYTHING.  He would never grow up in the same America that I grew up in.  I knew that instinctively then – all I wanted to do was pick my daughter up from preschool and seclude ourselves at home. But, I didn’t.  I did however watch in horror as the buildings came down – I remember thinking “This can’t be real” – surely, they are just showing us what could happen and doing what news people do.  But, no – this was really happening.

I remember, as stories came out about Flight 93, how amazed I was at the bravery of those on board. The fact that they were willing to sacrifice themselves for others – they did something that was HARD and met the danger head on instead of waiting for the inevitable to happen.

Out of the wreckage, I was encouraged by Americans coming together – even through the shock, fear, and misery – we reached out to our friends and neighbors – and, yes even perfect strangers.  Why? Because we are Americans! Whatever your background, we are united together by a unique history – we are part of a nation that was founded on God – FIRST.  And that, my friends is what makes all the difference.

10 years ago we experienced an event that would change our culture forever – but today I am thinking of those LIVES that were changed forever.  Those who lost a loved one or may have been injured themselves.  They are who I am praying for today and I pray that we all will always remember THEM as well on this day, the day that changed everything.


God’s Eye is On the….Butterfly?

Yesterday was such a beautiful day and after all that horrendous heat, the kiddos and I decided to enjoy it a little while longer after our library visit.

So, we had a lovely walk on the beach taking pictures as we went.  I’ve been playing with them in and I’ve got plenty to share, but before we get to that – I have to tell you about the most amazing epiphany I had while on that beach.

Lately I’ve been really focused on what God is teaching me and what I am supposed to be working on in my own life.  So, while on the beach I saw this

I know you can’t really see it well – but, do you see the yellow circle.  Well, inside that circle is a butterfly.

We see these butterflies each year as they migrate to wherever it is they are going.  And, they travel across open water. Alone. Not in groups or bunches – but ALONE. 

It’s a miracle that this species of butterflies even exists when you think about this amazing feat that they perform – not once – but twice a year!  If God takes care of that little butterfly – then SURELY he is watching over ME!

Five Minute Friday: In Real Life

OK – so, this is the hardest blog post I have EVER made.  The rules are to Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.  So, I’m sure that the train of thought may make you dizzy, but I did follow the directions for my first Five Minute Friday.

The prompt for this week is In Real Life………So, write your Five and come link up at

Real life is where relationships are made – real life is where love is forged – real life is in essense – real.  It’s the life that gives you interesting things to smell – like little boys fresh clean from the shower – and, beautiful things to look at – like little girls who wake up, smile at you, and then pull the covers over her head.  Real life is where God has given us all his blessings to enjoy even if we don’t appreciate that they are there all the time.  Real life is where you get to feel the rain while dancing or hear the surf while walking arm in arm with the love of your life – or maybe just by yourself to get a little alone time with your Heavenly Father.  Real life is warm blankets from the dryer on a winter night – or crickets chirping during a weenie roast in the fall.  Summertime brings watermelon! A feast for so many of the senses! Real life is time spent feeling and living – real life is what God designed for me before I was even born – real life is perfect for me – designed perfectly by my all knowing – forever loving – Lord God Heavenly Father.

Smooth Running Days Require Planning

Bet you thought from the title that I may have found the silver bullet, but sadly – no – I’ve been hit with an epiphany.  Lately I’ve found myself getting that overwhelmed feeling more and more often.  It feels like I’m constantly running from one task to another in emergency mode – or the kids are having to wait for me to gather the materials for our studies for the day.  Why is this happening?  What is going on?  I felt that I was getting a lot done each day but it just was always in a high stress mood.

Then, while going to sleep the other night, it hit me – I wasn’t taking any time for planning!  I have all these tasks that need to be done each day but I had totally forgotten to set aside time each day for planning the future days.  And, there are so many things that need to be planned – schoolwork of course being at the top, but I should also be planning out meals so that I know we have stuff to eat – and, what about housework?  Surely, if I were to plan housework, I’m bound to get more done in an efficient manner right?  And, my new passion – blogging, that definitely needs to be planned out or I could totally find myself stuck in front of the computer all day checking out what all my new friends have to say.  Oh, and let’s not forget couponing!  How on earth to fit it all in…..

You know the saying about tasks filling the available time…..I think that’s definitely what has struck me!  So, I’m off to plan now and see if we can take a little bit of the emergency out of the day to day.

What about you? How do you keep your day planned so that STUFF doesn’t take over?  Do you plan in time to plan?  I’d love to hear what works for you!