Deuteronomy 6:6-7

And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. ~ Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Tea Light Snowmen

Hey everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I'm still recovering, lol. These two weeks between Christmas and New Year's always throws me off. No matter, I still like a cute little craft to work on with my girls. These little snowmen are great because not only are they adorable, but they go together quickly as well. 

You will need:
Battery Powered Tea lights
Black Sharpie
Hot Glue Gun

To make:

Cut out a hat shape, and scarf shape from the felt, in your favorite colors. Fringe the edge of the scarf with scissors.

Use your sharpie to draw the eyes and mouth for your snowmen.

Grab the hot glue gun, and squeeze a bit of glue above the eyes, and below the mouth. Stick the hat and scarf on the glue.

You're done! Turn on the switch, which will make your snowman's nose glow orange, and enjoy the cuteness! We used these as a table decoration, but you can also glue a ribbon the sides of the tea light if you would like to hang it up.
Until next time,

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Wordless Weekend

Like most of you, our family is busy preparing for Christmas this week. Enjoy a peek at our holiday d├ęcor.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

December Reading List

Hey there! This month is finding me scrambling to prepare for the holidays, in the midst of finishing up school for our first semester. Still, there are two titles that always come out at this time of year. I admit that I'm a bit late in pulling them out, but I'm not about to let the year pass without reading them yet again.

The first title is Stories Behind the Best Loved Songs of Christmas, by Ace Collins. This book goes through 31 classic Christmas songs, and tells the story behind their creation. It always draws me and my husband in with the wonderful history. Actually, I think that I'm going to use this as a fun holiday assignment for my kids, and have them select a song, and research its origin. Maybe I'll have them find the sheet music, and learn to play a song or two, as well.

The second book is a light read that I always enjoy. It's relatively short, so I make my way through quickly, but I always love John Grisham's Skipping Christmas. This book features a couple, The Kranks, who make the decision to skip Christmas for a year while their daughter goes away to the Peace Corps. If the story sounds familiar, yes they did make a movie out of this book, but it didn't do justice to the written story! My holiday season doesn't feel complete without this one. Now if you'll excuse me, I only have a couple more weeks, so I need to get reading. What's on your reading list this month?

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Let The Little Children Come - A Review

I'm sure that I don't need to ask any of my readers if they have young children in their lives, as the content of this blog revolves mainly around homeschooling, crafts, and general products and resources for families. Maybe a better question would be, have you thought about how best to present the gospel to those children? I want to share a great child evangelism tool to help with that challenge.
This month, I received a free Let The Little Children Come To Me Gospel Tract kit to review, in exchange for my honest opinion. 

Let me begin with some general information about this kit:


Let The Little Children Come aims to provide effective gospel tracts and evangelism tools and resources for children.
It is the hope that these tools and resources will help you in conveying the powerful gospel message to children.
the gospel tracts are all specially designed to capture and hold the attention of children, while not distracting them from the core message of salvation through Jesus Christ.

What's in the kit? 

There are several animated tracts. They are mini storybooks with distorted pictures, that then appear to move when the enclosed black and white screen is moved across each animation. They're pretty cool, and even my 12 year old got a kick out of them.

Then there are a couple mini pop up storybooks that tell about Jesus. Just like the ones you enjoyed as a kid!

Young crafters will enjoy the wordless bracelet kit. They'll string colored beads in a specific order as you discuss with them the symbol of each color, in order to learn about the gift of salvation.

Slightly older children will enjoy the flip about books. They take a minute or two to get the hang of, but you fold the book at a 90 degree turn, which allows you to then open it to a new photo.

Every kid that I've met loves those silicone bracelets. Let The Children Come To Me provides a multi-colored bracelet that comes with a small guide to help adults go through each color and talk about what each color symbolizes. It also includes a prayer of salvation. This would be great for parents, grandparents, teachers, Awana leaders, and on and on. This one was probably my favorite.

Finally, there is the wordless book. When I saw this in the kit, I thought that it might just be extra packaging, but oh no. The book is made up of colored pages, each of which represents an aspect of the gospel. Gold represents Heaven, Black page is sin, Red page is the blood of Jesus, White is forgiveness, Green is growth in our relationship with Jesus.

Every one of these resources includes detailed instructions in how to use, what questions to ask, Bible verses to use, and suggestions to grab the attention of your audience.
I really like this kit. What a wonderful way to present the gospel to young children, in a manner that engages their imagination and curiosity. Every one of these resources is small enough to take anywhere. Carry them in your pocket or a purse. Just like a little  portable mission kit, lol. These are useful for anyone who knows and loves Jesus, and wants to share Him with the children in their lives. Whether you're a parent, grandparent, Sunday school teacher, VBS volunteer, and I could list many more I'm sure, these are a wonderful way to further the gospel for the glory of God. I plan to keep these handy, and I hope you'll click on the links below, and get some for yourselves as well!

Buy it here:

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Family Honor Plate and Table Thyme Discussion Cards - A Review

Have you heard of The Family Honor Plate? I had the chance to review one, in exchange for my honest opinion. At first glance, I thought that it might be something better suited for a family with preschool or younger elementary aged children. Wrong! This diy craft/soon to be family treasure works great with all ages. Let me share with you what it's all about.

First of all, what is it? The Family Honor Plate is well, obviously, a plate. You and your kids decorate it, allow at least an hour to dry, bake it for a half hour, cool completely, and then use it any time an occasion arises, to honor a member of your family. Think birthdays, milestones, special achievements, really any time that you want to show someone honor. That's festive enough in and of itself, but there's a little more to it. Table Thyme Discussion Cards ask all kinds of questions to get the conversation moving. They vary from, "What's your favorite day of the week, and why?", to "Do you have friends who help you make good choices?"

The kit we received includes 1 ceramic, ready to paint, honor plate, 8 little paints in various colors, 3 paint brushes, some "discussion starters", a fancy schmancy painter's palette, and a stand to display your plate after it's been decorated. In addition to all of that, we received a set of "Let's Talk!" discussion cards.

Here are some helpful tips for this project:

About the plate:
The virtues are listed in the center of the plate for mom and dad to use as their anchor, their moral compass to guide them in how they need to show up for and to their children.  This is how our children learn what character (Christ's Character) is, what it looks like, what it feels like. Our children are watching us and learning from us. 

Look for the good choices and attitude your kids/spouse are making and showing throughout the day. Track it back to the virtues and character it shows.

Turn dinnertime into a celebration when you catch someone making good choices and showing good character and present their meal on the FAMILY HONOR PLATE.  This is when you:
·      Talk about the choices they made and the virtues and character that it showed (Be specific).
·      Talk about how they made everyone involved feel and the impact they had on people and how that is POWERFUL and BEAUTIFUL.

About the cards:
Every question is followed up with "Why?" to take everyone's answers to a deeper more intimate level.  That's where the magic is and the real conversation starts. So now when even a simple question such as..."What is your favorite dessert?" for example, rather than someone answering "Apple Pie" and then moving on to the next person, the whole family gets to walk down memory lane because it reminds them of Grandma Smith who always made apple pies with them when they came to visit." Her house always smelled of fresh baked pies and she gave the best hugs when we walked in the door." 

Communication is the key to connecting, building and maintaining healthy relationships.  When we are raise our children to be confident in their ability to communicate with others and get their point across, situations are less stressful and they have better outcomes.

Here's a video to help you out:

How about one more?

I have to take a minute and be honest here. When I took the plate out of the package and considered how to decorate it, the thought briefly crossed my mind to do it myself (she admitted through ashamed and gritted teeth, lol). You know, to have a prettier plate. I know, I know, that's wrong, and immediately defeats the purpose of this as a family tradition. But it was only a fleeting thought, and it quickly left as I realized how much pleasure my youngest in particular would have in painting. Truthfully, I underestimated how much fun both of my daughters, who are 12 yrs., and 13 yrs., would have in creating this project. It was also very fun to see the differences in their respective personalities (and oh boy, are they different) come through so clearly, in their designs. Having said all of that, the plate, in its now complete design and colors, does, as I feared, resemble a bruise, hee hee. But the girls LOVE it. My 12 year old has already named it a precious family heirloom. Take a look.

The decorating begins

You paint half, and I'll paint half

Put plate in cold oven, turn on to 350 degrees, and bake for  half an  hour. Cool completely.

The plate was complete, it was time for some honoring. We opted for general appreciation for the girls, as birthdays have passed for this year. Now yes, the treats for each were fun, but the best part of the process was the Table Thyme Discussion Cards. I truly was surprised at the uproarious laughter and general hilarity that ensued. Especially from my 13 year old, who often embraces the challenges of the teen years with gusto. In all seriousness, I thought that, as a homeschooling family, I knew my kids pretty well. But I learned a lot from the questions! Thought processes that surprised, and impressed me.

No, I didn't accidentally crop her out of the photo, she dislikes having pics taken.

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this kit as much as I did. My girls have brought out the discussion cards at every meal time since making the plate. My daughters are very big on family traditions, and it looks like we just added a new one here. I'm recommending this one for every family with kids at home. Also adding this to my Christmas list  for friends and family. I hope you'll check it out!

Want to buy it?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Where is Crosby's Alligator This Week?

So, about a month ago, I shared a bit about our Crosby, and his habit of hiding his alligator shaped dental chew. He has zero interest in chewing it, instead, every time he finds it laying out in the open, he searches high and low throughout the house for the perfect hiding spot. It's really quite adorable, and he's been selecting some funny places. Here are a few of them...

When he can't decide where to put his gator, his go to spot is a corner of a couch. We're all constantly sitting on it.

Ah, those holiday decorations come in handy! He This time, he tucked it behind the turkey.

This last one is my current favorite. I came downstairs and found the Christmas tree skirt like this. Guess what was underneath?

Have I mentioned how much I love our little Yorkie? Until next time,

Thursday, November 30, 2017

A Crazy, Holy Grace, The Remarkable Ordinary, by Frederick Buechner - Book Reviews

Alrighty, I have here, not one, but two books in this review. I had the opportunity to read both of these works by Frederick Buechner for free, in exchange for my honest opinion.

Let's get started.

                                                               A Crazy, Holy Grace

I love a good story. I love them even more when the stories are true, when they include a rich history. A story where there is struggle, pain, and then hope that overcomes. That is what this book offers. I love a story that jumps right into the fray, and Beuchner does just that, as he shares a hard memory.  He quickly gets to the subject of pain, and the fact that we are, as was pointed out to him, stewards of our personal pain. What a thought. We have the power to decide how our circumstances will steer us, either to increased turbulence, or into the loving arms of our God.

A Crazy, Holy Grace is a look into some hard situations, and how the author navigated his way through, ultimately choosing to use them as a light for others that point to God. He uses many examples from Scripture, and his own life. As I read, it was as if I was living it myself, hearing his thoughts. The book itself is fairly short, so while the material is deep, it's an easy book to work through. A really good book for anyone needing perspective on the Grace of God, which I think, is everyone.

                                                         The Remarkable Ordinary

After reading the first selection by Frederick Buechner, I was a fan, so I was anticipating a good read.
Not surprising, it was, it is. I'm trying to think about what his style reminds me of. I kind of feel as if I'm listening to my grandpa. Perhaps it's the nostalgia of reading his memories, his thoughts. I enjoy his style of writing, as he lays out what the title of the book states- The Remarkable Ordinary. I like the image that comes up when he says that we as people, have the mark of God's thumb on us, His image.

Like the first book, this is another short work, but there is a lot of material to consider. Buechner presents our ordinary lives in a remarkable way, pardon the pun, but he does. He helps the reader see the lovely aspects of a regular human life, and how God is in the smallest details of our existence. What we may feel is unimportant or insignificant, is actually part of our personal story that God is weaving.  How does he accomplish this? Through current events from his past, God's Word, even other religions. 
I apologize if this sounds corny, but the book is like a comforting cup of hot tea. 

This is a book that I'm keeping on a list for Christmas gifts. I hope you'll check it out.

In The Middle Of The Mess, by Sheila Walsh - A Book Review

It must speak to the stage of life that I'm in, that I find myself drawn to books with titles such as the one that the above photo names. You know, books with themes including brokenness, and messes.  But ones that also offer hope that there is a way to not only survive it, but even thrive. As such, I was pleased to review this book that I received for free in exchange for my honest review.

If you've been lingering for any amount of time in Christian circles, the name of the author, Sheila Walsh is likely familiar. She is not only an author, but well known (and loved) Bible teacher. This book, In The Middle Of The Mess, she writes a beautifully honest and ultimately healing book about finding our salvation in Jesus. I think the verse from Phil. 1:6 is a great summary of this book, and she does in fact, include it here- "And I am certain that God, who began the good work in you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." 

This book captivated me from the first pages. Walsh shares her most painful experiences with us, and I felt as if I was walking through it with her, up to the point where she found the rescue of Jesus. It's raw, and honest, and hard, and healing. There is a profound hope that comes from hearing a story that mirrors our own. There is a line where she says, "When I stop reacting from a place of pain and instead respond by taking my wounds to God, I find peace." That, right there, is a great theme of this book. 

In The Middle Of The Mess encourages the reader to run to God with our greatest pain, reject the lies we have believed, go to His Word, confess, and pray. This is a book that resonated with me, one that I saw myself in, and one where I found encouragement. Are you facing a hurt? Check this one out!

When Did Everybody Else Get So Old? , by Jennifer Grant - A Book Review

I cannot believe that I fit the demographic of this book, When Did Everyone Else Get So Old? (which I received for free in exchange for my honest review), but as a forty something woman, I do.  I find myself at the point in life where I cannot rise from a sitting position without a groan of effort. There are a few more aches and pains. I also confess to calling out "those clueless kids of today." That being said, I was looking forward to reading this book, as it seemed to offer a life perspective that I might identify with. I wasn't disappointed.

Jennifer Grant writes in a personable style. I felt as if I was sitting with the author, having a conversation over a coffee. She writes about the middle age years being ones of transition, change. As our children are moving into a more mature area of life, so are we. Those years have a lot in common. There are hormones,  happiness, sadness, stress, and most of all, change. A quote in the beginning of the book stands out to me, from the book of Ecclesiastes, - "To everything there is a season." 

The author gives many personal examples about this stage. We vacillate between looking back at our memories, and looking ahead to the future. The feelings are confusing. There is grief as we let our kids go, as we see ourselves getting older, and there is also anticipation for new roads to explore with more freedom.

I found this book to be an easy read. I caught myself nodding throughout the book as I could relate to many of Grant's experiences. It was real, it was honest and also encouraging, without casting broad generalizations. All in all, if you are or know anyone approaching that middle stage in life, this might be a good one to refer them to, or hey, pick it up for them!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Honey Lemon Water Challenge

Have you heard about the so called "wonder cure" that is hot water with honey and lemon? I have, and actually use it every time a scratchy throat or sniffly nose comes around. I've also made it my first drink of the morning on many occasions, but probably not for a longer length of time.

I just read about a blogger who took on the challenge of drinking hot water with honey and lemon most every morning for a year. Her results were pretty amazing, no colds, stomach bugs, or other ailments. Wow!

I believe that the way to do it is to make this drink the first one of the morning. Warm water, the juice from half of a lemon, and raw honey. So, I'm going to do it, and track my results. I can say from the experience of drinking it on a short term basis, that I did feel better. But this time around, I'm going to see if it affects the amount of colds and bugs that I get. I will be keeping you all posted. Maybe you'd like to join me too? It's a yummy experiment to try. I'll be letting you know how it goes!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Mason Jar Turkeys

Today's crafty blog post is brought to you by my youngest daughter. We were talking about our Thanksgiving plans, and trying to come up with a cute hostess gift or table decoration. We came up with...mason jar turkeys! They couldn't be too much simpler to create either.

You need:

Mason jar
Construction paper
Google eyes
Craft glue
Hot glue gun
Assorted candy or treat of your choice

To make:

Cut out a turkey body, feathers, beak and wattle. Glue turkey face pieces together, and then the feathers together. Using hot glue, attach turkey body to front of mason jar, and the feathers to the back. Fill jar with candy, treats, or you can write what everyone is thankful for on little slips of paper and put those inside. Cute!

Illuminating Literature:Characters in Crisis - A Review

As a member of the Homeschool Crew, I always look forward to checking out the upcoming vendors. When Illuminating Literature:Characters in Crisis by Writing with Sharon Watson came up, and I was put on the list to review it, I was thrilled. Actually, that's an understatement. I was probably more excited than one might expect a person to be over a literature course, lol. Of course, most homeschool moms that I know can get pretty jazzed over curriculum, but let's just say, I was happy.

We received the Student Textbook, the Teacher's Guide, and the Quiz and Answer Manual. There is also a great Novel Notebook for the course that is a free pdf download on the Illuminating Literature:Characters in Crisis  website. If you take another glance at the title of this review, you'll be reminded that it's a literature course. As such, you 'll be reading various classic books. While some short stories are included within this curriculum, you will need to borrow or purchase others. But I'll come back to that in a bit. For now, let me lay out the material and other pertinent information that you'll find in each of these books.

This is a class created for grades 9-12. It is a full year, two semester, college prep course. Upon completion your student will have earned one credit. While it is second in a series, this class may be completed on its own, without prerequisite. Bonus, for me, and I know, many of you, it is presented from a Christian worldview.

The Student Book:

This is the textbook, and the workbook for your student. The text begins with an introduction to the course. The author presents the material in a personable style, very conversational. She offers an overview of the year, some of the literature selections that will be covered, and then has the student take a fun opinion survey regarding their history and general feelings about the subject. She also provides reasons that it is important to include classic literature in their education, and a glossary terms that will be used. I love the way that she presents this course. Even if you have a student that dislikes the subject in general, her tone is disarming and welcoming. I was quickly drawn in by the personality of her writing, and I knew that my daughter wouldn't be the only one taking this class, lol.

After finishing the first few lessons of the Introduction section, it's time to begin reading some classics. The material for the books make up the chapters. So for the first story, A Jury Of Her Peers, that chapter features lessons surrounding that story. There are questions that relate to the theme of the story, to get your mind thinking, reading and homework schedules, character breakdowns, insights into the author's life, and finally, the story itself. It's packed with material! Following the story, there is still more to do. Students rate the story, giving one to five stars. There is a quiz to take, and work in the Novel Notebook- I'll cover those shortly. Finally, there is a list of activities to choose from, to extend the theme of the story. All of these activities and lessons will help teens learn how to analyze a piece of literature.

Hand in your activity and wipe the sweat from your brow. Lol!

The Teacher Guide:

Really, this is what it says it is, the manual for the course. It provides the versions of the books that will be read, as well as a list of the short stories that are already in the Student Workbook. It lays out course objectives, grading instructions, and the basic schedule. Very good book.

The Quiz and Answer Manual:

There are two options for taking the quizzes for this course, online, or using this Quiz and Answer Manual. The only difference, which obviously would be, that one is paper and one is online. Our family is old fashioned, and we still prefer a paper copy, so this manual was and is, great. There are a couple of quizzes for each story, one is an "I read the story" quiz, and the  other a literary terms quiz.

The Novel Notebook:

This is the free PDF that is found on the website. It's pretty cool. Print it, and keep it in a 3 ring binder. It's colorful, and sorry teens, this might not be cool to say, but it's cute and pretty too. This notebook has various questions to answer, as well as other short writing assignments, all of course, relating to each story or book. And you know, I just really like this. It's visually appealing, and a nice written record of the class.

Here is a sample of literature that will be read:

* A Jury of Her Peers
* Frankenstein
* Silas Marner
* Much Ado About Nothing

What do we think?

I used this with my daughter, who is in the 8th grade. But wait!, you say, you said that this is a course for grades 9-12! I know, I know, it is. The cool thing about homeschooling is that you can gauge the maturity and readiness of your students. I felt that she could handle the course, so we went for it!
We worked 4 days a week, and are partway through the book Frankenstein as of the writing of this post. I had thought that she would find the tone of the teaching to be interesting and inviting. My daughter loves to read, but the general study that accompanies the subject of literature can be a bit of a yawn for her. I'm happy to say that I was right, and while she wouldn't call Frankenstein her favorite, she does like the lessons. She's learning that there are classics that she likes and doesn't like, but that she can learn something from all. And, this class is not only for homeschoolers. It will also work in classrooms and co-ops. As the teacher, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this course! I wish that I had had the opportunity to take this class when I was in high school. Fortunately, I  still can! I would and will recommend Writing with Sharon Watson to anyone who will listen, and specifically this course, Illuminating Literature:Characters in Crisis . I would strongly encourage you to visit the website, and look at the sample lessons. I bet you'll be impressed!


Find Writing with Sharon Watson on social media:



What did other Crew members think? Read their reviews here