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Jan 27, 2017

B is for Breathe

I had a B is for... post half written in my head.  Yes, in my head.  Then my head forgot it.  While trying to remember and going through my regular day, I kept telling myself to breathe.  Just breathe.  And, well now, isn't that a song?  I like music related posts.  Also, I like reminders of things I *should* be doing.  Well, gentle reminders.  And songs can hit you like a ton of bricks and still remind you gently.

In Sesame Street's Follow that Bird! Big Bird is moving to a new home halfway across the country.  All of his friends are giving him sage advice.  My favorite came from Grover.  "Don't forget to breathe.  In *and* out!"  What great advice.  Seriously.  Do you find yourself holding your breath?  Don't do that.  Let it out.  You breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide.  In other words, you inhale the good stuff and exhale the bad stuff.

In the song Breathe by Jonny Diaz, he sings
Breathe, just breathe
Come and rest at My feet
And be, just be
Chaos calls but all you really need
Is to take it in fill your lungs
The Peace of God that overcomes
Just breathe
Let your weary spirit rest
Lay down what's good and find what's best
Just breathe
  1. The Peace of God that overcomes - The peace of Christ surpasses our understanding.  I pray that for each of you.  This is a very tumultuous time for many right now.  Everyone is testing and fighting and accusing.  Let's rest in the Peace of Christ.
  2. Lay down what's good and find what's best - This reminds me so much of Martha and Mary.  How often do I forget what is best in favor of what is "right now" (it might not even be that good, just pressing)?  The Lord wanted Martha to breathe in what He was offering and to breathe out the troubles of her mind.
May you find peace and remember to breathe today.  In and out.

Hopkins Homeschool

Other B is for... post:  Bitterness

Biblical References:
1. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. KJV Phil 4:7
2. Luke 10:38-42

Jan 21, 2017

FMF ~ Refine

When I saw the Five Minute Friday prompt (over at Heading Home) was the word REFINED, I decided to join in for the first time ever.  I had just seen something in my Facebook newsfeed about being refined from a Christian point of view.  It's one of those dozens of videos we've all seen that start playing silently as we scroll by.  Something about it caught my eye and I continued to read the scrolling words.

The gist of it was about the process used to purify and refine silver.  Such is the nature of FB newsfeeds, that if you don't share or save a link or video, it is quickly swallowed up into Facebook land and never seen again.  Unless another friend also shares it.  The video is that of a woman who left her Bible study determined to talk to a silversmith about the following verse.

She asked the smithy to explain the process.  He told her how he used heat to remove the impurities from the silver and he had to watch the entire process very carefully so he did not miss the moment it was complete.  Before she left, she had one more question.  How did he know when the process was complete and the silver was refined.  He told her he knew it was ready when he could see himself mirrored on the surface.

The video had the desired effect on me.  It drove home a Biblical point in a way many could understand and in a deeper way than just reading the words on the page.  But I also need confirmation of "facts" from Facebook newsfeeds.  I'm a rabbit trail chaser.  So, I spent some time looking up the process using Ye Olde Google.  I found this article from the online Encyclopedia Britannica about the refining process and one thing in particular caught my eye.

The lustre of the pure metal is due to its electron configuration, which results in its reflecting all electromagnetic radiation of wavelengths longer than 3000 angstroms (3000 angstroms is in the ultraviolet range).

I don't know much about UV and what to make of this sentence in this instance, but it has captured my attention (perhaps another rabbit trail?) and my imagination.  What wavelengths do other minerals reflect and absorb?  Is this unique to silver?

My friends over at Webster's Dictionary had an assortment of definitions to choose from, as usual.  The two that I thought most applied to Psalm 66:10 were this verb transitive:
2. Applied to metals, to separate the metallic substance from all other matter, whether another metal or alloy, or any earthy substance; in short, to detach the pure metal from all extraneous matter.

And this verb intransitive (and now another rabbit trail, learn what transitive/intransitive means).
 2. to become pure; to be cleared of feculent matter.


And, as I suspected, Five Minute Friday prompts will, indeed, take me more than five minutes to complete.  Is anyone who knows me surprised by that?  You shouldn't be.

Jan 18, 2017

A is for Alleluia

Some lovely ladies have invited me to join them in a Blogging Through the Alphabet series.  (See the link below to follow along or join.)  Last time I tried, I only got about a third of the way through.  Hopefully, I will be a bit more d is for diligent this time!

A is for Alleluia

Webster's 1828 dictionary says this about it.

ALLELU'IAH, noun [Heb. praise to Jah.]
Praise to Jehovah; a word used to denote pious joy and exultation, chiefly in hymns and anthems. The Greeks retained the word in their praise to Io; probably a corruption of Jah. The Romans retained the latter word in their Io triumphe.

I love that Alleluia quite literally means ""Praise ye Yah." Yah = short for Yahweh (Jehovah).  It's a great reminder for all of God's children.  Even in our darkest times, we are to praise God.  We all know that, although it can be difficult to do.  What I've noticed in my own life is that I sometimes forget to praise God even through his great gifts to me.

I always have the kids write thank you notes after Christmas.  I want their grandparents, aunts, and cousins to know that they appreciate the gifts they have received.  They don't really enjoy doing it.  It's *writing,* after all.  But it's important.  We shouldn't put off or refuse to give thanks and praise.

When I think of Alleluia, three songs come to mind.
  1. The hallelujah chorus from George Frideric Handel's Messiah 
  2. Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which uses some Biblical imagery, but in Cohen's words is "the Secular Hallelujah."  The use of Alleluia in his song is actually the calling together of the people to sing.  I thought about not including this song, but I definitely think of it and there are some beautifully rewritten Christian versions of it floating about the internet.
  3. This simple song we sing at VBS and Friday School is a huge hit with Merrick.  We usually divide up our group by sides of the room or boys and girls.  One side stands and sings the Alleluias, quickly sitting down and the other side stands and sings "Praise ye the Lord."  It's fun and fast and all kinds of calisthenicy. 
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah
Praise ye the Lord
Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah
Praise ye the Lord
Praise ye the Lord, Hallelujah
Praise ye the Lord, Hallelujah
Praise ye the Lord, Hallelujah
Praise ye the Lord. 

Hopefully, I'll see you next week for B is for...

Hopkins Homeschool

Last time through the Alphabet, I was working on word studies of virtues.  You can read A is for Attentive, if you're interested.

Jan 13, 2017

Hit and Run

We're having a hit and run battle of wits on the fridge the last couple of weeks.
It mostly involves magnetic insults, like this epic zinger.

Merrick wanted to leave a note for his brother.  I had to help him spell the last word.  
It ended up like this.


He isn't the best listener!

Jan 12, 2017

My Review of

High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

As a member of the Homeschool Review Crew, I get to take a look at a lot of products that are new to my family.  There's one, though, that I've used with the boys off and on for *years*. first came out when The Old Schoolhouse Magazine stopped printing and became a bi-monthly digital magazine.  Well, way back in 2011, if you had a subscription to the print magazine, you received free access to until the length of your remaining subscription expired.  I think I had well over a year of access at that time.  When it expired, I didn't renew, but kept an eye on it and thought about it a lot.  Then, in 2013, I won a year subscription.  The site had grown so much in that time.  It was A. Ma. Zing.  In 2014 and 2016, I had subscriptions as part of the Homeschool Review Crew.  And now, guess what?  Yes, this year I've received another Yearly Membership subscription.  (Hint: If you are interested in reviewing awesome products...)

Recently, many upgrades have been made to SchoolhouseTeachers.  One of my favorite changes is the ease of accessing *all* of the content now.  It used to take a few clicks to reach the lessons for classes.  They had a "quick links" page, but you really sort of stumbled on it and then had to bookmark the page to reach it quickly.  Now, it has it's own tab right on the home page.  You can still search by age or subject, but if you know right where you want to go, just click quick links, scroll to the class, and click on lessons.  So easy and intuitive.

The page is so pretty now, too.  It's so clean and bright.  Everything is at your fingertips.  I recommend starting in the New Members Hub at the "Start Here" tab (natch!) even though it's tempting to head straight for the course list.  You'll find out all about navigating the website here.

Members of receive lots of great classes and extras.  Some of my favorite resources from The Old Schoolhouse are included.
  • Access to the over 300 classes on the site, classes for the entire family.  Literally everyone from parents to toddlers.
  • Streaming videos.  Drive Thru History, Bible stories, apologetics, marriage, and lots more.
  • A subscription to the World Book E-book Library
  • New lesson plans.  These plans are being added, a few at a time to help you implement SchoolhouseTeachers classes in your own homeschool.
  • Free membership to applecore.  An online planner, attendance tracker, and all around record keeper.
  • Six of their MEGA HUGE digital Schoolhouse Planners, including Hey Mama!, Special Needs, and High School.
  • Past and future Expo webinars.
  • All The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine digital back issues.  Yes!  All of the back issues.
  • A print copy of the huge Annual Print issue.
  • A certificate gallery to present to students upon completion of courses or goals.

If you feel lost and confused about anything on, there's a chat feature for quick help.  Just click to have a conversation with a real, live representative.  You can also download a handy dandy Classes By Grade Level chart.  It's a spreadsheet of courses all marked with a nice visual bar of color to indicate Family or grade(s) for PK-12.

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.  Just a quick glance through the teacher directory showed me half a dozen other names I know from favorite homeschool vendors.  The quality of instructors pays off in the quality of courses.
We had a lovely Christmas break, though we still did math and writing most days.  That's still a break for us!  Now it's time to look at the rest of the school year and I'm choosing some courses for us from SchoolhouseTeachers.  I'm looking at Bible Study for Preteens (10-18 weeks), ASL Introduction (15 weeks), Kindergarten Social Studies for 34 weeks, and we've added in Elementary Spelling, and Hands on Math Help with Cuisenaire Rods. has grown from, literally, a handful of courses to over 300 online classes for preschool to high school.  They've decided it is time to raise the price.  If you subscribe *before* the January 15, 2017 rate increase, you will remain subscribed at the lower rate for the length of your subscription.  If you choose monthly for $9.95/month, you will receive that rate as long as you remain a member.  If you purchase a year for $90, your rate will remain $90/year as long as you remain subscribed.  This is a great time to join.  Use codes CHRISTMAS for $9.95/month or CHRISTMASYEAR for $90 for the Yearly Membership.  You'll have a ton of learning at your fingertips.

Schoolhouse Teachers Half Price Discount

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High-quality, Self-paced, Online Homeschool Resources {}

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Jan 7, 2017

My One Word for 2017 ~ Faith

I always have the most difficult time choosing a word for the year when December/January rolls around.  One year, I just chose a verse on which to focus.  Well, this year, because I am a rebel like that, I have chosen a verse that sort of fell into my lap a few times lately.  The verse reminds me, without even using the word, to have faith.

I like to check Webster's 1828 dictionary for word meanings.  (It's funand educational to see how words change over time.)   I chose the definition there that I felt best conveyed Faith in my new year.

4. Evangelical, justifying, or saving faith is the assent of the mind to the truth of divine revelation, on the authority of God's testimony, accompanied with a cordial assent of the will or approbation of the heart; an entire confidence or trust in God's character and declarations, and in the character and doctrines of Christ, with an unreserved surrender of the will to his guidance, and dependence on his merits for salvation. In other words, that firm belief of God's testimony, and of the truth of the gospel, which influences the will, and leads to an entire reliance on Christ for salvation.

Being justified by faith Romans 5:1.

Without faith it is impossible to please God. Hebrews 11:1.

For we walk by faith and not by sight. 2 Corinthians 5:7.

With the heart man believeth to righteousness. Romans 10:6.

The faith of the gospel is that emotion of the mind, which is called trust or confidence, exercised towards the moral character of God, and particularly of the Savior.

FAITH is an affectionate practical confidence in the testimony of God.

FAITH is a firm, cordial belief in the veracity of God, in all the declarations of his word; or a full and affectionate confidence in the certainty of those things which God has declared, and because he has declared them.
 So there you have it.  Our word for 2017 is FAITH.  And our focus verses are James 1:5-8.  

I hope you feel inspired today, and all year, to have faith.  Do not doubt.  Do not fear.

Much love!

The Homeschool Review Crew is linking up our words.  Come and see what everyone else is thinking about for 2017.

Homeschool Review Crew Reflecting on 2016

Jan 4, 2017

gEEk School ~ Marshmallow Shooter

Xav was gifted with this terrifically fun marshmallow shooter.  It was a snap to assemble and is a huge hit.  Xav and Merrick particularly enjoyed it and their laughter was contagious.

You need just five pieces of PVC pipe.
  • Two inch
  • Five inch
  • Seven inch
  • Two 90* elbows
Add in some marshmallows and a target.  We also found that the small craft pompoms worked OK, too.

I'm sorry, I don't know where this particular target came from, but you can use or make any target.  Three dimensional targets are fun, too.  Set up paper towel and toilet paper tubes and knock them over with your marshmallow projectiles.

Super easy assembly, as shown above.  Pop the marshmallow in the end of the 5" piece, which is also the end you blow in.  I'd guess the elbow joints tend to slow your projectile down a bit.  With the boys in this house, slowing them down is definitely a plus!

It wouldn't be a great project in this house unless some alterations were made to the design.  "Just this once." 

Zonderkidz The Beginner's Bible ~ A Homeschool Crew Review

Zondervan is a well known publisher of Christian books.  Their children's division, Zonderkidz, produces books and products for children under age 12.  We own several of their children's Bibles as well as some of the Veggie Tales story books and some of the newer Berenstain Bears books.  The Beginner's Bible had actually been on my wishlist for quite a while and through a couple of boys.

This award winning children's Bible covers 94 well-known Biblical events with richly colored illustrations and short bits of easy to understand text on each and every thick, glossy page.  The hard cover is sturdy and should last through years of love and usage.  512 pages cover both the Old and New Testaments.

The Beginner's Bible arrived right before Christmas, so the first parts I read aloud to Merrick were the sections pertaining to the birth of Jesus Christ.  I was surprised how little time it took to read over three to four "chapters" of this Bible.  After we finished with read aloud time and looked over the illustrations together, I left the book with Merrick who is learning to read.  He mostly just looked at the pictures, gave his best guess what each story was about and narrated to the cat.  He knew King Herod by his angry face.  He must have "read" The Beginner's Bible in that manner for over an hour that day.  We've returned to it several times since then and have often discussed the stories and pictures in more detail.  He's very hungry for the Bible right now.

What is it with kitties who feel the need to swish their tails across your nose?
The first page of The Beginner's Bible has a place for the child's name and an invitation to read to them.  This is followed by the Table of Contents for the 94 Biblical events.  (Is it just me who doesn't like using "story" in relation to the *nonfiction* Bible?  Probably.  I'm weird.)  It begins at the very beginning, with darkness, and ends in Revelation, with Jesus bathed in glorious light.  I liked that contrast and was reminded that this is exactly how it was and will be.  Following The Book of Revelation is a dictionary defining some of the words that may be new to some children.  The words in the dictionary are italicized when they appear in the text of the book.  You'll find definitions for Books of Law, manna, Sabbath, and three full pages of important new words.

For the new year, we're getting more intentional about spending time reading every day and using part of that segment of our day to get in The Word and learn scripture.  Now is a great time to gift a child you love with his or her own Bible.  I will always remember the wonderful example my grandmother set for me.  She was up early every morning and when I went to the kitchen, she would be sitting at the chair by the window with her open Bible on the table.

The only (very small) thing I have to disagree with the publisher on is the claim of "all-new, vibrant, 3D artwork."  It definitely has illustrations that young children will enjoy and they are presented here with more depth, both in perspective and in colors and shading.  The art is much improved over the classic The Beginner's Bible.  However, any child who has seen actual 3D in movies or books (remember the old blue and red glasses?) will quickly see that this Bible is not illustrated in three dimension.

The website suggests this book is intended for ages six and under, but the book back itself points to a 4-8 year old range.  I have found The Beginner's Bible to be a perfect fit for two kinds of youngsters.  First, as a read aloud for much younger listeners, the text is very minimal and will hold those short attention spans.  Second, for early readers who are just beginning to enjoy reading on their own.  I think it would be frustrating for children still learning to read.  Many of them might still like it as a read aloud.  To me, it felt like there might be (for some families) a gap of a couple of years between those audiences.

The Beginner's Bible has it's own website where your child can play games and print coloring pages, mazes, iron ons, and trivia cards, as well as see the anniversary edition illustrations contrasted with the classic art.

Book Details at a glance.
Size: 7.75x6.5 inches
Format: Hardcover
Page Count: 512
Price: $16.99
Publisher: Zonderkidz

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The Beginner's Bible {Zonderkidz}

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