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Jan 25, 2016

Cards "Kind Friend"

I made these cards a while back, which made me feel quite "accomplishy" since I rarely make my own cards anymore.  I have a whole craftroom full to the ceiling with papercrafts, some beads, and a few sewing supplies.  It's pretty sad. 

Most of what I own (and really love) is older Stampin' Up! stuff.  I used to be a demonstrator.  These cards used one of my all time favorite stamps.  I quite literally bought the All Holidays stamp set just for this stamp.  Not that I didn't *like* the others, there are just a bajillion and three other sets out there for the same holidays.

I didn't really have a plan before I started.  I just wandered the room grabbing stamps, ribbon, and punches that I really love, then I came upstairs and chose my paper.  Probably kind of backwards, but I think it really worked here.  I created three friend cards and one birthday card while I was at it, as well as bookmarks.

Jan 17, 2016

Bragging on My Boy

I know the Matthew 6:3 tells us "But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing."  If no one ever told of good deeds done, the world would seem a dark and scary place.  So, today, I want to brag on my little boy.

Xavier heard about a fire last spring in which some children lost their home, everything they owned, really.  His heart broke so much for those kids, he began to wonder what he could do to help other children in similar situations.  He devised a plan and I spoke with a friend of ours who works for the Red Cross.  Then we spoke to the local fire chief who also liked Xavier's idea.  By summer, we were shopping to see his plan come to fruition.

We thought that what these kiddos needed most was to be comforted and to have something new that was just for them.  I purchased six school backpacks on clearance for just $3.50 each.  Then we started collecting stuffed animals, fleece throw blankets, coloring books, and crayons for each bag.  As we were nearing Christmas and I started to really feel a need to finish up, I put the word out and three of my friends helped us complete EIGHT backpacks which even ended up including a picture or chapter book and a small puzzle or toy.  We are so grateful for each of the people who caught Xavier's vision and wanted to help him make it a reality. 

Sorting stuff for Xav's backpack project.
We recently took those backpacks to the fire station where the boys were treated to a tour, played on the fire trucks, and even rang the bell.  We learned how the toxic exhaust was sucked away from the trucks to keep the firemen safe in the truck bays.  Though Xavier's reward will be in Heaven, it didn't hurt to have a little treat here on earth.

When we left, Xav told the firefighters to let him know if they needed more backpacks.  One of the men said, "Hopefully, these will last us forever." 


If you think you would like to start something similar in your area, contact your local fire chief.

Jan 11, 2016

Watermelon Lemonade

Lop the top off of a watermelon.
Scoop out guts and freeze.

Dissolve 1 cup sugar in 1 cup hot water.
1 cup lemon juice (this took about 8 small lemons).
Juice one lime.

Mal and Xav liked this part.  I nuked the fruit for 20 seconds or so, left it for a minute, and then they rolled them and mushed them a bit on the table.

Puree frozen watermelon in food processor to make about 3 cups. 
Puree some more to eat.

Seven more cups of water and ice.

Throw in slices of another lemon and watermelon chunks.

Hide it from the children because those punks will suck it down so fast that those with a more discerning palate will miss out.  People will cry.  I'm not kidding.

Jan 7, 2016

Review of

Guess what!  I'm back on the Schoolhouse Review Crew!  That's right.  I get to try out all those cool homeschool related products you've been wondering about, and maybe even a few you've never heard of yet, and tell you all about them.

The first product of 2016 is a Yearly Membership to and it is A. Ma. Zing.  I've had a membership off and on for years (like since The Old Schoolhouse Magazine ceased to be a print magazine in 2011) and now I'm all set for another year.

SchoolhouseTeachers Review 2016

Q. What is
A. is a vast depository of classes utilizing printable PDFs and videos.

That sounds all official, doesn't it?  SchoolhouseTeacchers can seem pretty overwhelming at first.  I recommend that you start with the New Members Hub under the Start Here tab.  It's tempting to jump right into the course lists, but this is where you'll find the FAQs and tutorials to help you navigate the website.

SchoolhouseTeachers has made and is continuing to make lots of updates and additions to the site since I last reviewed it in December 2013.  One of the nicest new features is called Quick Links.  Instead of searching for your class by grade or subject and requiring several more clicks for the lesson you want, you go straight to quick links and select "lessons."  From there, you simply choose which lesson to open.  If you want to learn more about a class, there is a Quick Link for that, as well.

SchoolhouseTeachers also has a new chat feature.  If you ever have a question, just click and chat with a representative

There are some terrific teachers on this site.  I've worked with Diana Waring, Amy Puetz, Scott Turansky, and Bonnie Rose Hudson personally online before.  There are scads of other names you'll recognize from homeschooling blogs and businesses.  The quality of instructors pays off in the quality of courses.

You'll want to check out the Focused Learning Centers where SchoolhouseTeachers has compiled loads of related resources in one neat, tidy location.  You might find classes, webinars, ebooks, worksheets, and articles.

A membership to RightNow Media is included with your membership.  We have all of the What's in the Bible? series of videos, but if you don't own them, you can see the videos on RightNow Media.  This is a fantastic bonus anyway, but I'm mentioning it because I have *planned* (had good intentions *ahem*) to create worksheets from the What's in the Bible? lessons and had just never done it.  That is exactly what one of the courses consists of.  All I will need to do is collect the vocabulary from the episodes for the boys to add to their personal dictionaries.

Watching What's in the Bible? and working on the worksheet questions.  A first lesson in note taking.  Merrick is pretending to be "like Daddy" with his pencil in his mouth and a hand selected sheet of "drawing paper."  I love that he doesn't care if the paper has a chunk cut out of it.  It's all good.

We are afternoon homeschoolers, but I've been wondering how to make more intentional use of our mornings without making it seem like just an extension of our afternoons.  I recently started putting together ideas for daily morning family time.  I plan to add several courses to those school mornings.  Not all at once and not to overwhelm us, but one or two days each week.  I think the archived Tinkers Club is right up our alley and will put a spark of fun in our mornings.  Another day, we'll probably add Everyday Explorers: USA.

I always find plenty for the older boys to do and Merrick always wants to "do school."  I've introduced him to the Character Training for Young Princes lessons now that we've worked through our internet troubles and can watch videos easily.  Bonus!  The big boys enjoy those stories, too.

If the courses at aren't enough to sell you on the site, there are various resources available.
  • Each month of your SchoolhouseTeachers membership, you'll gain access to bonus ebooks.
  • Access all six of the MEGA HUGE Schoolhouse Planners; Special Learners, High School, Big Mama, etc.
  • The Old Schoolhouse Magazine back issues to 2007.
  • A certificate gallery.
  • The silver plan for AppleCore online Record Keeping.
  • Forms for tracking the courses taken and skills learned.
  • And don't forget RightNow Media.

You'll find classes for every family member from toddler to adult. Every subject is represented from Art to Science and Bible to Math.  Learn a new language with your kids (choose from French, Spanish, Hebrew, Latvian, or ASL) or take a class just for parents.

Use the code CREWFOLLOWER for a half price one year subscription.  This coupon is valid through 1/31/2016. on social media:
Pinterest:     TAG your pins:   @tosmag   #SchoolhouseTeachers #onlineclasses #TOSReviewCrew #HSReviews

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Jan 4, 2016

One Word for 2016 - Peace

For about six years or so now, I've picked a word for the year.  I don't remember many of them for certain.  I do recall Smile and Improve and Gracefull (sic).  I really haven't been super intentional about any of them.  Words are small.  Words are also powerful.  They can lift someone up or let someone down.  I had an awful time trying to choose a word.  I didn't think I was going to know it when I heard/saw/thought of it.  Thankfully, my word came to me when, twice in one day, I read


This year, I plan to really make the effort to think on my word regularly and what it means to me.  How can I use it to connect with my family?  How can I use it to sooth my anger?  What does God tell me in His Word about my word?


This year, I'm also going to study verses regarding my word. I'll study many verses, but I'm beginning with these two key verses.  I want to come back to these verses any time I need a reminder.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.  John 14:27

I like to use Webster's 1828 dictionary when learning about a word.  I've copied the definitions that I feel mean the most to me this year.  They mostly have to do with inner peace and peace in relationships.

PEACE, noun [Latin pax, paco, to appease.]
1. In a general sense, a state of quiet or tranquillity; freedom from disturbance or agitation; applicable to society, to individuals, or to the temper of the mind.
4. Freedom from private quarrels, suits or disturbance.
5. Freedom from agitation or disturbance by the passions, as from fear, terror, anger, anxiety or the like; quietness of mind; tranquillity; calmness; quiet of conscience.
7. Harmony; concord; a state of reconciliation between parties at variance.

To be at peace to be reconciled; to live in harmony.
To make peace to reconcile, as parties at variance.
To hold the peace to be silent; to suppress one's thoughts; not to speak.

It was interesting to me that the words used most often in the definitions were FREEDOM and HARMONY.

Peace, my friends.