Monthly Archives: February 2012

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dirty laundry separated on the floor

Handi-skill Spotlight: Laundry

Today’s Handi-skill leans more on the life skill side of things. Well, not so much leaning as being a critical life skill.


The bane of my existence.

Luckily, this is now my children’s duty, and amazingly we now have clean socks when we need them. I was shocked when I realized that with the help of a step-stool (and a less filled soap jug), my 10 year old is completely capable of doing the laundry.

First, I taught them how to make our laundry detergent. It costs less than $7 for 10 gallons of detergent (a LOT less), and takes about 2 hours (or less) to make. And, yes – it cleans well – hypoallergenically too.

Then, on to actually doing the laundry – they have to learn how to load the washer, the temperature of the water, etc, etc…. There is really so much to learn.

My favorite source of all things laundry is Mama’s Laundry Talk. I think I’ve spent hours on her section on How to Fold Laundry alone…

On a side (somewhat unrelated) note, this past weekend I pulled out all the colored hangers and put as much as possible onto white hangers, and I can’t believe how much of a difference it makes. Now the hangers aren’t competing for my attention – the clothes are the stars – at least until they are put on, right?

What handicrafts or life skills have your kids been learning lately? I’d love to hear about it – let me know in the comments.


Hip Homeschool Hop Button

101 Bible Adventures

Have you ever thought about how many tales of adventure there are in the Bible? When I saw the book 101 Bible Adventures available on the Tyndale Blog Network, I immediately knew that I wanted a copy.

From the back of the book:

God’s people experienced lots of action and adventure throughout history. In this book you’ll find 101 of the most action-packed stories ever written. And yes – they’re all from the Bible!

I really like the layout of the book. Each adventure has a two page spread. You start out the story with a brief overview of the story – just a quick overview to give the kids an idea of what’s happening. Then, the story is told using actual Scripture (from the New Living Translation) albeit condensed. There is a key Scripture verse that sums up the main idea that could easily be used for memorization (NLT). And, then everything is wrapped up with a Now What? section that challenges the kids to apply the story to their own life.

The Good: I think that it’s great that the core of each story is told from Scripture (and this is actually the translation we normally use for reading), and then it’s followed up with commentary instead of the other way around (as found in so many devotionals – not just kids).

The Bad: The Now What? section’s language is very simple and stilted.  It lacks the rich language that I look for in our reading material. Also, I really don’t care for using the New Living Translation for memorization.

The Bottom Line: This can be a fun devotional for children, either as a family or on their own. We’re probably going to use it as a family devotional, but use the King James for our memorization. I think the real value in this book is two-fold – first, the type of stories collected together for maximum interest and secondly the Now What? section – assuming you can get past the overly simple language.


Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Tyndale Publishers through their Blog Network for my honest and unbiased review.


My One Day Fast

Have you ever just felt so toxic that you couldn’t imagine anything being able to make you feel better? I have been living on junk food and fast (junk) food for so long that I just couldn’t imagine that eating a salad every day would ever be able to counteract and clean the system to make me feel better. Not to mention that the addictions to the drive thru were still too strong to fight. I needed something extreme.

Enter the Fast.

Last week I decided to go to the extreme of fasting for the first time. I must admit that I’ve had an interest when the church does the Daniel Fast each January, but I’ve always talked myself out of it.

So, I decided that I needed to go extreme – 3 days at least – target of 5 days. I was convinced that extreme was the only way to go. Plus, anyone who knows me knows that anything worth doing is worth overdoing. I planned a juice fast because apparently a water fast in our toxic environment can be ultra-dangerous.

The decision was made before dinner so that’s when I started – no reason to put it off, right?

The next day, I occasionally felt hunger but it wasn’t anything too uncomfortable. Even though spiritual reasons were not involved when I made the decision, I found that through the day I felt closer to God and prayers were frequent.

That night, after 36 hrs of not eating, the hunger came on strong, and I felt light headed and sick, sick , SICK… I ate a banana to ease the situation and later HAD to eat some salad. I felt like a FAILURE.

How was ONE day going to make a difference? Did I suffer for nothing?

Unbelievably, no – even a one day fast made a HUGE difference. In The Maker’s Diet, Jordan recommends a partial day fast each week to allow your digestive system to rest.

All in all, I would say that it was beneficial, and I look forward to doing it again soon – although maybe I need to remember to drink more juice next time…

If you’re interested in fasting, I found that the Fasting Center had a lot of really good information. But, from everything that I’ve read, the Fasting Center may not be cautious enough…according to the Maker’s Diet, extended repeated fasts can mess with your metabolism permanently, so definitely research, research, research!

Have you ever fasted? What was your experience? Tell me about it in the comments.


Feet in the Grass

Five Minute Friday: Delight

Today, I’m particpating in Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday. This is where we write for five minutes – with no editing or rewriting – and not even internal editing! It’s definitely been a challenge for me, but each time I’ve participated, I have been blessed.

This week, I’m making a slight change. The kids are participating as well, so be sure to read their First 5 Minute Friday below mine.

The rules are that you have to write for five minutes without overthinking and without editing.

Then go back to Gypsy Mama and link up!

Visit the person who linked up before you, and be sure to encourage them.





Well, here we are again – I will be delighted when I finish this. Well not really – mostly… Delight – hmmm what a great word – if I hear someone tell I’ve that they are delighted with something I’ve done then it would be so awesome – it’s such a strong word. I would love to be able to bring delight to others. that’s actually what being on the stage is about for me. I am delighted to be on the stage because it causes other people such joy. They are able to enjoy something else – even if it’s just for a moment – they are able to escape anything that may be bothering them and just hopefully experience a little bit of delight in something outside of themselves. This is turning out to be a really weird five minutes, huh? I really wouldn’t have guessed that my thoughts would go in the direction of my acting bringing delight and giving it as well. But, there you have it. Delight – what a wonderful descriptive word!

Monkey (13yo)

finished drawing. cat drawing.

computer MMD. puppies.

finished drawing. cat drawing.

dynamite manga.

Manga, Manga, Manga.

funny words.

robust. nocturne. philosophical.

pretentious. pretentious.

peanut. blues clues.

possom not opossum.


Rex (10yo)

Movies. Video Games. Music.

Pokemon. Go. Bakugan.


Warcraft. A new game. Chess.


Animals. Inventing. Fantasy.


and most of all

my family all getting along.



Enjoy the Moments

Today, I’m over at the Post with an important reminder. Be sure to come check it out :)

Join Me at The Homeschool Post!


bonding over beauty

Bonding over Beauty

I know, I know – we always say that beauty isn’t important, right? It’s what’s on the inside that counts. And, yes that’s true – but, I also believe that it is natural for us to want to look our best. We want to put our best foot forward and make a good impression. And, I just don’t think that Bonding over Hygiene would go over as well, do you?

When I received the book Bonding over Beauty, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. I guess I was thinking that it would be filled with sleepover type activities for mother and daughter to do together, and while there are some such activities, this book really is so much more.

There are chapters focusing on such areas as hair (both wanted and unwanted), skin care, nutrition and fitness, and yes – make-up. The information given can range from the basic (how to choose a hairbrush) to the more complex (how to color your hair at home) – including some – er, shall we say – sensitive subjects that need to be discussed. Each chapter closes with some bonding activities to do together. I will caution that this book is really designed to be read by Mom and then shared with the daughter – not as a book to just hand to her. (Not to mention, that way you can decide when each area is age appropriate for your princess…) :)

I actually was amazed at how much information there was that was news to me. And, what surprised me more? My Monkey, who is definitely NOT a girly girl, grabbed the book as soon as she saw it and I didn’t see it again for a few days. :) (So, yes we didn’t use it in the intended way either.) I’m looking forward to giving each other some face masks – and maybe even a mani/pedi or two…

Now, for the really fun part – I get to giveaway a copy of this unique book to one of my wonderful readers. Just follow the instructions below to enter the rafflecopter. There’s a daily entry available, so be sure to come back tomorrow.

Entries will close at midnight (ET) on Thursday, Feb 23rd and the winner will be announced as quickly as possible after that. (I can’t wait to find out the winner, either!)

Good luck!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I was given a copy of Bonding over Beauty for my honest and unbiased review. The publisher is also providing a copy for the giveaway. Also, some links within the post are affiliate links.

Giveaway Day

Pygmy Goat in the food dish

All Mine! {Wordless Wednesday w/linky}

What would your caption be? Tell me in the comments

I can’t wait to see your wordless (or wordy) posts – link up!

Geography: Senegal

This year we’ve been studying geography in two week sections using books, maps, and online resources – keeping in mind that the primary reason for studying geography is to spread the news about Jesus.

We recently focused on Senegal where the first task was to find the country on the map. This one was harder than others we’ve recently done, but once given the hints that it is in the Eastern Hemisphere and has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean, they zeroed in on it.


Challenges for Prayer

We start our study by visiting the Operation World page for Senegal to find out some specific prayers for the area.


There are not many guidebooks out there for Senegal, so we used the Lonely Planet’s Guide to Senegal and The Gambia. It doesn’t have a lot of pictures, but the language is very rich and descriptive.

Folk Tale

Mother Crocodile is not only a great original story with a cautionary tale – but you also find out (briefly) about some of the animals that would live in Senegal as well.


The Manatee Scientists is kind of reaching – I’ll admit it – but, there really aren’t a lot of books out there about the animals of Senegal. The book is divided between Florida and West Africa. Important things to know about this book: It manages to slip evolution in there (I know, it’s everywhere – so frustrating!), and I tread lightly when Westerners start trying to dictate what people can and cannot kill for food. Given that in our area of the world, food is much easier to come by, I would never try to teach my children that it’s wrong for someone in Senegal to kill a Manatee to feed his family.

We’re also going to watch a program on TV called Be the Creature. Are you familiar with the Kratt brothers from Zaboomafoo? They also do this series. If you have Netflix, they have the DVD in their library. Warning: As usual with these types of shows, they do have references to evolution – tying the manatee and elephant together. Use your own judgement – my kids yell “Lies!” at the TV whenever these types of things are said.

There is also a Manatee Song on Youtube (for the younger crowd) and even a tutorial on how to draw a cartoon Manatee.


Enchanted Learning has multiple levels of outline map activities as well as a flag of Senegal.

What are some of your family’s favorite methods to study Geography? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.


White Tapered Candles

Handi-Skill Spotlight: Candle Making

Wondering what a Handi-Skill is?

There are so many different kinds of candles out there that you may have a hard time deciding which one to try first.

Tapered Candles

We’ve done this before, and it was fairly easy to do – although it will require adult supervision for any littles. You know your child best as to whether they can handle it on their own.

You need to have some sort of large can, clean and dry to use for the wax. We used a 28oz tomato can, but, A taller, skinnier can would have probably worked better. You’ll also need wax and some wicks (both available at the craft store) as well as a metal washer.

The hardest part was probably cutting wax off of the huge 4lb chunk to fit into our can. While you are getting the wax into your can, have a pot of water coming to a gentle simmer on the stove (NOT boiling). Once the water is ready, gently place the can into the pot of simmering water to allow the wax to melt. After the wax is melted, you’re ready to make your candles.

I found some great, really specific directions on how to make Colonial Candles that we used when making our candles.

Here’s how ours turned out.

And for a little fun, you can add crayons in your favorite color to the wax to make your own custom color candles (try saying that three times fast.)

See those really skinny small ones with the burned ends? We used those for my son’s 8th birthday cake. Yes, we did this project 3 years ago as part of a week full of Colonial activities.

Cost: around $25 – with plenty of wax left over to do this several more times. If you are able to find a 1lb pkg of wax, the cost can be considerably less.

Gel Candles

We’ve not done gel candles yet, but this is something that I’m interested in trying. There are so many options for fun designs that you really are only limited by your imagination. The good news (or possibly bad news if you’re easily distracted like I am) is that there is an entire row at the big craft stores dedicated to gel candles. Take a look at how easy these candles are to make.

Cost: You can get a Gel Candle Kit for about $25 at Amazon, but I’m sure you can get just a few supplies from the craft store for less.

Beeswax Candles

These look like a really fun way to do candles – lots of options and color. Since the wax doesn’t have to be melted, this looks like a great way to get started with the young ones.

Here’s some easy instructions to get started making your own rolled beeswax candles.

  Source: via Gidget on Pinterest

Cost: You can get a Beeswax Candle Rolling Kit with Decorating Ideas, in Bright Colors for around $20 at Amazon, but you may be able to start with less supplies to give it a try.

Molded Candles

Your creativity can really kick into gear with molded candles. Shapes, Colors, Scents – there are so many different options to choose from! This is probably the most complicated of the different candle styles, but I’ve found a pretty in depth tutorial on how to make your own molded candles.

Cost: This also looks to be one of the more expensive projects. You can get a kit for $30, but I advise taking a stroll down that candle aisle and seeing what you can get for a small project. You can also make your own molds.

There are lots of other possibilities out there including floating candles

and even a water candle kit

so there’s sure to be a candle out there that fits your budget and your style.

What’s your favorite type of candle? Tell me about it in the comments.


Note: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links.

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

100 Day Prayer

100 Days of Prayer

Can you imagine what 100 days of prayer – the same prayer – looks like? I know that I couldn’t several months ago – before I received a copy of Your 100 Day Prayer from Booksneeze.

Right off the bat, Mr. Snyder dispels the notion that it is necessary to have hours long prayer sessions in order to be effective.

Your 100 Day Prayer

You’ll find the book is broken down into 4 broad topics and then further broken down into daily topics that reads almost like a devotional study with each day having a Scripture that is applicable to that day’s topic, some commentary, a guided prayer, and a space to journal your progress. One of my favorites is Day 20: Here for a Reason.

I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose for me.

Psalm 57:2

The Transforming Power of Actively Waiting on God

That’s the subtitle to this book, and I have to say that I couldn’t agree more. Even though I haven’t finished all 100 days – and I’ve missed a lot in between days – I have been immensely blessed by praying a focused prayer for a long term. I’m not going to go into detail because I do think that each person’s experience will be different.

I think that you could do the same thing without the book and still be blessed, but the text definitely gave me some insight that I wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Even without a guide though, I encourage you – no, I challenge you – to pray a single focused prayer (for a need or want or anything really) and see how God blesses you.


Note: I was provided a complimentary copy of the book from BookSneeze for my fair and unbiased review. Some of the links within the post are affiliate links which means that should you purchase after clicking the link, I will make a small percentage – but, your price will remain the same.

Julie Anne Lindsey

Teaching Kids to Write {Guest Post}

Today, I’m thrilled to welcome Julie Anne Lindsey as my very first guest poster. I met Julie through Twitter and after discovering a mutual love of the movie The Princess Bride – especially the quotes – and starting quite the impromptu twitter party to boot, we’ve been friends ever since. I’m happy to introduce her to you, my wonderful readers. And, a big welcome to anyone visiting for the first time, too!

This is my first year not homeschooling. It’s been a tough transition for us all, but I stay involved in school more than the average bear, I think, much to the dismay of the school faculty at times. LOL But, our little country school provides plenty of opportunity for me to volunteer including reading at their library and having lunch with the kids. It’s a nice middle grounds for us.

I’m stopping here today as part of my first blog tour. I am finally officially an author. My debut novella, Bloom, has kicked off the new line of books called Honey Creek and I am honored to be here to talk about writing. Getting my oldest son to want to write is almost impossible. He loves books, as long as someone reads TO him. He’s a mechanical/hands-on thinker and in his mind, words are less than worth his time. He was a special joy to homeschool. The two littler ones like writing and creating and crafts and all the things my oldest detests. He refused to color all through kindergarten (which is mostly coloring, let’s face it) because “Coloring is for girls.” What was I supposed to do with THAT? LOL I learned to think outside the box, which it the biggest tool in every home school mom’s toolbox.


I developed story boards as a way to show him what a difference words make. I started basic, with one poster board folded in half and half again, leaving 4 large squares. We started with a stick figure dog. Then he told me it was a big dog. How big? HUGE/ He put his arms up in the sky. SO I added tiny houses to show the dog was HUGE. He was also red I learned.  LOL. With each passing block we added more details until the first pic showed one sad little stick dog and the last showed a giant red dog, nose against a roof, creating a slide for people to slide down to safety. I’m still not sure how they got stuck on the roof, but it was a lesson he could get behind. Words told the story.

We do the same thing now with my 3 year old daughter. Her stories revolve around faeries and unicorns, but she and her brothers can really get a good story going on their boards. (They do them for fun now). They understand the power words have in a way their public school counterparts don’t and I like that I gave them this gift. As a nice side effect, they call names a lot less and show more self-control over their mouths than many of their little friends. I like to think this comes from the same concept. Words are powerful.

If you’re teaching a stubborn little one who thinks words are a snore-bore, I hope you’ll find strength in the fact you aren’t alone. Even if they never become avid readers, the stories you make together will become memories to last a lifetime.

I also hope you’ll visit Honey Creek if you have time for a mommy break. It’s a beautiful place where anything can happen. Kick off your shoes, relax into that porch swing and cuddle up to a steamy mug of cider. Taking a trip to Honey Creek is as easy as Amazon : ) See you there!

Bloom by Julie Anne Lindsey

In a town filled with her past, she never expected to find her future…

Seven years ago Cynthia left Honey Creek with a broken heart. Three years ago Mitchell arrived with one.  Now Cynthia’s come home, and these two hardened hearts can’t stop arguing. If they’d only take a break long enough to find some common ground, they might be surprised to find love can grow anywhere.

If they’ll let it, love will find a way to Bloom.

*Bloom is book one in my new Seeds of Love series.  I’ll be planting those seeds all year.

About Julie:

I am a mother of three, wife to a sane person and Ring Master at the Lindsey Circus. Most days you’ll find me online, amped up on caffeine & wielding a book.

You can find my blogging about the writer life at Musings from the Slush Pile

Tweeting my crazy at @JulieALindsey

Reading to soothe my obsession on GoodReads

And other books by me on Amazon

Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Real World Math Word Problems

Free Real World Math Problems

I’ve found that math can get rather boring if all you do is learn a problem style and then do a page of problems with that style, so lately I’ve been on the hunt for some free real world math problems that would stimulate curiosity in the kids.

Here are my favorite sites that I’ve found with FREE problems.

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

Figure This!

This site has about 80 different Challenges that you can choose based on mathematical skill set necessary. We haven’t used these yet, but they are on our to try list. Middle school and up.

Franklin Institute

This site has quite a few different types of problems ranging from Melting Pot Math to Toothpick Puzzles. So far, we’ve only completed a few of the Open-ended Math Problems, and we’ve enjoyed working them out together very much. Middle school and up.

Real World Math: Using Google Earth in the Math Curriculum

They have lessons based on concepts, project based learning, space, and more. This site has ALOT of information, and I’m still digging through it. I have seen some projects that are for as low as 3rd grade, but most seem to be appropriate for grades 5-12. The author is clear though that it’s difficult to assign grade levels to the problems presented. I think the U-boat Hunt looks particularly interesting – combining decoding a cipher with charting latitude and longitude. This is an extremely well done resource, but you won’t be able to just pop on and print out a problem for the day – there are Google Earth files to download for each lesson.

Make it Real Math and States by the Numbers by Make it Real Learning

OK, this is not actually a free resource, but they do have a free download that contains 10 sample problems taken from the various workbooks. And, the entire state of North Dakota is available as a sample. So, while not free, you can definitely get some good practice problems out of it, and the cost is not prohibitive to purchase them. Make it Real Math is probably my favorite of what we’ve done so far because it uses actual real situations that you could find yourself in. States by the Numbers covers place value, rounding, estimation, fractions, and percents.

And, if you still don’t have your fill of math and want to get more real world ideas – you can check out Education Math’s article: Get Real: Math in Everyday Life.

And, for day to day math encouragement as well as great ideas, I can think of no better place than my friend Bon’s site Math is not a Four Letter Word. This girl LOVES math! Don’t believe me? Just take a hop on over there yourself. :)

So, what about you? What are some of your favorite math resources? How do you integrate math into everyday life? Tell me about it in the comments.