Monthly Archives: March 2012

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Baby Me

Gifts from the Father (5 Minute Friday)

On Fridays, I really love participating in The Gypsy Mama 5 Minute Friday. This is when you write for 5 minutes straight without editing and just allowing the ideas to flow. (I must admit that I fix spelling errors, but I leave the grammar errors. I also add the pictures after my writing time has elapsed.)

This week’s inspiration word?


There are so many gifts to be thankful for. God has blessed me with so much.

See that little bundle of joy? That's me!

He gifted me amazing parents who gave me the freedom to grow into myself while grounding me with what I needed to become a responsible adult. (Well, as responsible as they could – you can only do so much with what you’ve got to work with.)

I have an awesome extended family that others just wouldn’t believe. Who else still gets together with 4 generations every Christmas?

The ones who started it all.

My grandparents gave us the gift of family and of togetherness and of belonging – and LOVE. Love in Christ enables us to love each other.

Our honeymoon on The Big Red Boat

My husband was an another gift that changed my life. Thanks to him, and to HIM, I have 2 amazing little gifts running around. What a blessing to wake up this morning to find the two of them sitting quietly together in the den reading the books we got from the library yesterday.

Monkey and Rex as Pirates

How unworthy I am to have had all these gifts from the Father who loves us all – and, yet he has chosen to bless my life immensely through them.

Thank you, God for your care of even me. Thank you for your blessings that are evident every single day. I just hope you will use me to give a gift of blessing to others.


Won’t you come link up your best five minutes and experience the freedom – I’m sure you’ll be surprised. I have to admit that this post went in a completely different direction than I thought it was going to when I started.


using neglected wall space for map hangings

Are You Neglecting A Valuable Resource?

One of the best resources we have in our house?

The vertical spaces. That’s right – the walls.

When the kids walk down this hallway, they are constantly stopping to look at the maps and {maybe less often} the Periodic Table.

Recently, this principle was driven home again. I was looking for a place to hang the Tapestry of Grace Map of the Humanities {Full Disclosure: Even though this looks like a great program, we have decided not to use it because it is just too intense for my level of planning ability.}

I considered hanging it in the den because then you could see it while watching TV. The problem is that once you open the door, you wouldn’t be able to see it. And, it definitely seems that my kids are more likely to stop while walking by instead of sitting there and staring contemplatively at information on the wall.

So, I chose a wall that we walk by, but you don’t really notice otherwise, and guess what!

Within 30 minutes, Rex had stopped and was investigating and asking questions about the Unification of Germany.

So, if you have things on the walls that the kids aren’t looking at, have you considered moving it to a walking area instead of a sitting area? {and, if you’re worried about your home looking like a classroom, well…. it is, isn’t it? But, it if really does bother your sense of style, there are lots of nice decorative maps out there. I’m using the old world style.}

We’ve also had luck using this principle with printing out famous artwork, with the name of the author and the piece below it, laminating it, and hanging them up with removable poster strips. Please forgive the flash glare.

And, don’t forget the horizontal spaces!

It’s super easy to add a World Map to the dinner table {well, maybe slightly more difficult for a round table…} We’ve had great conversations start from just looking over the map. Even mom and dad get stuck looking at the maps. :)

What have been your most successful things to hang on the wall? I’m looking for ideas – so please tell me in the comments!



Handi-Skill Spotlight: Origami

Not sure what a Handi-Skill is?

Origami is such a neat little skill to have, isn’t it? From amazing your friends to being able to fold napkins for a fancy dinner party, it’s just one of those things that always surprises those who see it.

It’s really not as hard as it looks (well, some of it) – especially if you buy the specially made origami paper available at most craft stores. The key seems to be starting with a square. Also, the store bought paper is nice and thin which allows for more folds without getting bulky.

The great thing about origami is that the initial expense is very low. There are online resources with the directions, and you could even cut your own paper if you didn’t want to purchase the special kind. (Although from personal experience, I will tell you that it is much easier when using the purchased papers.)

Source:  Sean on Pinterest

Origami-instructions has some particularly easy beginner pieces for very young children or to use as a great confidence booster.

The Origami Resource Center seems to be targeted to a little bit older child – or once you’re ready for something different.

And, for something a little bit different, Tammy Yee offers Print and Fold Origami which allows you to have an end result that is very colorful.

For the adventurous types, check out the Napkin Folding Guide and be ready to amaze your next dinner guests.

Happy Folding!



5 Minute Friday: Loud

All right, here we go again with Five Minute Friday – and, I was lucky enough to get the children participating this week again, so under my five minutes, you’ll find theirs as well.

Here are the rules from Gypsy Mama’s site:

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without worrying if it’s just right or not.
Won’t you join us?

    1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.
    2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. Most important: comment and encourage the person who linked up before you.

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:




Sometimes life is just too LOUD. Everyone is talking over everyone else – you can’t hear yourself think.

And, then all of a sudden, no one else is at home and it is quiet – too quiet.

And, then I get sad because I realize that the loud days of childhood are starting to come to a close. Anytime the kids are off at an event or camp or something, and it’s just me and moondoggy starting at each other I wonder – is this what it’s going to be like when they leave?

just quiet. No excitement?

So, I’m trying to treasure these loud days – even when they are so loud I don’t know how to cope because I know that the quiet is coming. And, I’ll take loud any day of the week – although quiet is nice in small doses – it helps you appreciate the loud even more.

I’m just hoping that as they grow, the noise will become more organized – more purposeful – so that maybe, just maybe, i stand a chance of keeping up and understanding what they are talking about.

Because really, in the end, that’s the most important thing – connections, understanding, and LOVE through the LOUD.

Monkey (13yo)

rex. loudred. kaito is annoying.

i like gakupo better even though they’re just about the same

kyaaaaaaa dare kana yo whooo! mikumikuni shiteageru nyanyadada………… don’t be sad, be happy, it’s our day to make some joy. stand up and play around cmon lets do the dance, cmon. nyan nyan.

makes me wanna wag my tail, when it comes i scream and wail, * SCREAM *

***note from momma: some of those words are pokemon, vocaloids, and Japanese words. If you didn’t understand it, don’t feel bad – I had to get her to explain it to me too. :)

Rex (11yo)

I want to rock rock rock!

I want to rock rock!

There’s a feeling that you want me to turn down and I say No, no, No!

Ok, that was the start of one of my favorite songs “I want to Rock” and I’ll tell you another one of my favorites – well, the song is a very fun song but I can’t remember the name, But, there is another song that I like called I love Rock and Roll.

Some of the people out there don’t like the fact that rock and roll is loud.

The reason that rock and roll is loud is because it is amplified for the instruments.

They use an electric guitar – not a regular guitar – but an electric guitar which gives it a rock and roll sound.

Then there is the drums and when you push on the pedal it makes a specific sound.

There are other instruments that are also amplified. They use pianos and keyboards that are amplified and make a great song.

And, then there’s the singing. If the singing wasn’t loud, then you wouldn’t be able to hear what they are saying.

And, that’s the reason that almost all of rock and roll songs have amplified instruments.

It makes it sound great glorius that’s what rock and roll fans see in rock and roll.

Good night!

Then end.

Won’t you give 5 Minute Friday a try? I’d love to read yours – please let me know about it in the comments! (And, be sure to let comment-luv link you up.)


tim hawkins homeschool family song

Homeschooling Fantasies

OK, if you haven’t seen it yet, you really have to watch this video by Tim Hawkins on homeschooling. Not only is it sooooo funny, but you’ll also have a better understanding of the inspiration behind this post.

At the beginning of our homeschool journey (8 years ago), this would have described my goals (and not in that funny ironic way either)  – I had some outlandish pie in the sky picture of what homeschooling was supposed to be.

If I’m being completely honest, I really did want my kids to be expert spellers. I wanted them to know Latin AND Greek – and, oh yes, let’s add in some Hebrew once they’ve got those down.

But, after less than a year with that crazy schedule, it started falling by the wayside.

Then the guilt would start.

Oh, no – we’re not doing ENOUGH!

I’ve got to cram as much knowledge as possible into their little developing brains as quickly as possible – after all, their future happiness depends on whether or not they know how to do long division by the age of 6, right?!?


I want their learning to be relevant to THEM and the plan that God has for them not some arbitrary perfect child who knows everything and who is fully prepared for any and every situation.

Now, we take things much more slowly, trying to match the subjects and depth of information to the child, but I still find myself slipping back into overachiever mode from time to time.

I am FIGHTING those tendencies.

I want them to enjoy learning. I want them to fully develop the gifts that God gave especially to them.

Because after all – I don’t know all of those subjects that I had planned out for them, and I would say that the Lord has given me a pretty BLESSED life – and, if they ended up with a life such as mine, would it really be all that bad?



Handi-skill Spotlight: Bubbleology and Designing Your Own Future

Not sure what a Handi-skill is?

Right about now, I’m sure you’re thinking – bubbleology? Is that really a thing? And, I’m here to tell you that last Fall (at the same nature fair where we got the Cloud Posters), we were thrilled and amazed by a Bubble-ologist.


Keith Johnson uses bubbles to teach lessons on everything from science and math to history. He is hired to perform at schools, libraries, and other events – so, apparently there is a career path available playing with bubbles. Whoda thunk it, right? :)

But, even more than the bubbles is the lesson– this guy took something that he loved to do – and was good at – and made a career for himself!

The recipe for making your very own touchable bubbles (<-tweet this)

  • 12 parts water
  • 1 part dish soap
  • 1/2 part KY (I’m guessing for the glycerin?)

{There’s an exercise in math right there, right?}

Don’t have a wand?

No problem – you can go simple with either a straw or paperclip, or you can go as elaborate as a hula hoop in a baby wading pool.  Really the sky is the limit.

Using a straw? Make a small slit in one end of the straw, and fold back the edges. Dip the end with the slit into the bubble solution.

Using a paperclip? Unbend it and reshape it into a ring with a handle.

When touching the bubbles, be sure that your hands are wet with the solution – dry hands equals popped bubbles.

If you have the opportunity to see Keith Michael Johnson in person, I highly recommend it – it was fun for the whole family!  His website lists his performance schedule.

In closing, enjoy some bubble fun from the master himself:

Video not showing up?

Do your kids have any crazy ideas that would be pretty cool as a career? Tell me about it in the comments!


Linking up with
 And Hip Homeschool Hop Button

Educating the WholeHearted Child

Educating the WholeHearted Child

I have been absolutely giddy with excitement looking forward to telling you about this amazing resource. The 3rd version of Educating the WholeHearted Child should be on every homeschooler’s bookshelf (or at their bedside where mine seems to reside).

Some time ago, I checked out the 2nd edition of Educating the WholeHearted Child from the library, and I have to admit that I was completely overwhelmed. Here was all this wonderful information – and I was at a loss as to how to implement any of it.

This new version supplies all the specifics I was looking for and more – I almost cried with relief as I read it the first time because this is the book that I have been searching for to help me put it all together.

Clay and Sally Clarkson approach homeschooling from the viewpoint that our primary job as Christian parents is to train our children’s hearts to love God so that they are willing and ready to accomplish the tasks that God has planned for them. If we train their hearts while they are young, then they are ready for God to use for the Kingdom.


From the Publisher:

God did not forget to include “school” in his biblical design for raising children:home education is a natural expression of all that God intended for parents and their children. Clay and Sally Clarkson’s Educating the WholeHearted Child is about rediscovering God’s original design for the family. What you’ll find in this book is a homeschooling model that makes sense. It’s an approach that is based on sound biblical principles of nurture, discipleship, instruction, and learning. Newly revised and significantly expanded, Educating the WholeHearted Child is about much more than homeschooling; it is about life. Effective Christian homeschooling must begin with the sure foundation of a Christian home, and the Clarksons’ uncomplicated, common-sense approach to life and learning will provide you with the tools you need to experience God’s abundant blessings for your family.

There are 18 chapters that are divided into four sections covering everything you need to know to train their hearts.

  • Section 1: Home – Why train their hearts
  • Section 2: Learning – How do they learn
  • Section 3: Methods – What to study (and how)
  • Section 4: Living – Putting it all together

And, if that wasn’t enough, there is also a HUGE resource section including:

  • Books for the WholeHearted Family (broken down into different genres)
  • Books for WholeHearted Learning (books on Christian family, parenting, and homeschooling)
  • Forms for WholeHearted Learning (18 forms to help you plot your course)

***italicized notes are my interpretation of the section

My Thoughts (including some comparisons to the 2nd Edition)

The first obvious difference is purely size. The new book is amazingly thick. Part of that can be attributed to the slightly larger type size (which made it so much easier to read), but also by the addition of a lot of new information and ideas. Whereas the 2nd edition had 9 chapters, this one has 18. I also find the new version to be much better organized with the information being grouped into sections that makes more sense for me.

There is an entire section on Understanding Your Child (Chapter Eight) that covers Personality and Living Styles and also includes a “Learning Style Indicator” to help you better understand how your child learns and where they are coming from.

What is their Learning Style? Do they rely on

  • Facts & Logic
  • Facts & Values
  • Insights & Values
  • Insights & Logic

What is their Personality Type? Are they a

  • Doer
  • Helper
  • Mover
  • Shaper

Is their Mental Focus ACTIVE or REFLECTIVE?

Is their Life Orientation towards TIME or EXPERIENCE?

And, after the Clarksons have helped you figure out these traits, they don’t just leave you there to figure it out for yourself. For each personality style, there is a two page spread that covers

  • Thinking Modes
  • A Description
  • Life Motto
  • Personal Encouragement
  • Personality Profile
  • Chart of Strengths and Weaknesses (SO helpful!)

They’ve also added a section on the WholeHearted Youth (beyond the child) that discusses planning for high school as well as covering the purpose of the high school years.

In Section 2, you will also find a one page synopsis of each of the Five Focused Study Areas that includes

  • The Focus
  • The Content
  • The Purpose
  • Specific Learning Objectives
  • Suggested Methods to accomplish those objectives
  • Suggested Materials to use

And, then, in Section 3, you’ll find an entire chapter devoted to the methods for each of the focused areas:

  • Discipleship Studies
  • Disciplined Studies
  • Discussion Studies
  • Discovery Studies
  • Discretionary Studies

I also really like the addition of a table of contents at the beginning of the Methods Section which makes it super easy to find the exact method you are looking for within a specific study.

All of the forms included at the back of the book are cleaner and more modern than in the 2nd edition. Some of the forms have changed, some have been added, and some have been removed. Also, some of the original forms are still there but may have a new name.

Removed Forms

  • My Homeschool Work for this Week (I thought this covered duplicate info anyway.)
  • My Assigned Reading List
  • “Fish and Bread” Character and Values Planner
  • Bible Study Notes: Book Study

Added (and changed) Forms

  • My “Get It Done” Project Planner
  • My “Read for My Life” Book Report
  • My 24 Family “Ways to Be” – Godly Character
  • My 24 Family “Ways to Go” – Biblical Values
  • Family Devotional ARTS Planner
  • Bible Reading Record
  • Family Chores Chart
  • My “Check it Out” Disciple Sheet: more focused for topical Bible study (replaces Bible Study Notes: Topical Study)
  • Devotional Journal: has only 3 on a page (instead of 6 in the prev edition) – much friendlier for a child with large penmanship

While I do wish that there was an index in the back of the book, the Table of Contents is nicely organized making it fairly easy to find exactly what I’m looking for.

Final Verdict

Educating the WholeHearted Child is my new go to resource. The amount of information they have packed into this book is nothing short of amazing. There are so many nuggets of pure gold that I imagine I will still be gleaning new information well into their college years – and maybe, dare I hope, with my homeschooled grandchildren?

This would absolutely be my gift of choice to any new homeschooling family. It almost makes me wish that I were back at the beginning again.

And, as if that wasn’t enough to get you all excited – how about the opportunity to win a copy for free?!? You know we love Apologia around here, and they have been so generous by not only providing a copy for me to read to write this review, but they are also offering one copy of the 3rd Edition of Educating the WholeHearted Child to one of my lucky readers!

Just follow the directions in the rafflecopter below to enter to win! There are lots of different ways to enter – with only one mandatory – click on the “Do It” button and answer the question in a comment. The deadline is midnight,Thursday, March 15th. Find out more about rafflecopter. (Fine Print: valid for US mailing addresses (including military) and you must be 18 yrs or older to win. Void where prohibited.)

And, if you can’t wait to see if you won, you can purchase a copy directly from Apologia for only $22. A real steal for all of the information included!

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Can’t see the rafflecopter widget in your reader or e-mail?

Note: I was provided a complimentary copy of Educating the WholeHearted Child by Apologia for my honest and unbiased review. The thoughts and opinions expressed are my own, and I was not compensated by Apologia for sharing them.

Giveaway Day

Homeschool Science Lesson Clouds

Cloud Watchin’

Spring is just around the corner and what could be better than taking some time out to watch the clouds?

Won’t you join me at The Homeschool Post today for a science lesson while you’re enjoying the clouds?


Rex jumping

Leaping for a Contest

Today, we’re Leaping for a Contest over at Apologia. And, for the record – taking a shot of a jump – in midair – is not an easy thing to do! Wow – I had no idea it would be so tough! With that in mind, I have to apologize for Rex looking like he is going to pass out any second – my camera did not want to cooperate and take photos in sports mode (like it is SUPPOSED to).

So, in case you can’t tell, Rex is holding Exploring Creation through Zoology: Land Animals of the Sixth Day – he is absolutely crazy about animals and regularly pulls this book as well as the Flying Animals and Swimming Animals just to read them. Our favorite project with this particular book was dissecting an owl pellet. I know, it sounds gross, right? Well, it was – but also pretty COOL to find the skeletons of what this particular owl had eaten…. so, we learned about owls AND the rodents it had eaten – double score!

The books are made with quality, glossy paper that rivals ANY coffee table book with beautiful hardbound covers.

We’ve also done Botany, Astronomy, and Anatomy, and we are eagerly waiting for Chemistry/Physics to be released. (Those are all from the Elementary side of the products, but I would dare say that even this mom finds them interesting, so they would be great reading books for any age even if the work is not high school level.)

Monkey has just moved into the world of the High School courses, and I can’t wait to tell you all about Exploring Creation through Biology. Stay tuned for that soon.

If you are in search of Science books, you absolutely can’t go wrong with Apologia – we’ve been using them since Monkey was in the 2nd grade and I’ve been looking forward to this time with the High School materials (Personally, I hope, hope, HOPE, she decides to do Marine Biology – how cool is that? Marine Biology in high school!)

We love Apologia for their other products too (more on those coming soon) but possibly MOST important, we LOVE apologia because they love the Lord and are such wonderful people to work with!

So after you finish laughing at the photo, definitely check them out, and be sure to tell them that Gidget sent you  :)