Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Reformation Day

Many of us spend Halloween night chasing kids around who are wired up on candy and the thrill of playing dress-up for the night. This is the first year we haven’t participated – my boys decided they were too old to trick-or-treat. We did have a few ding-dong our doorbell and distributed our share of sweet treats for the evening.

Some Christians don’t mind Halloween while others choose not to participate. One thing all of us who call ourselves Protestants should recognize is that not only is it Halloween, but it is also Reformation Day.

It is believed that on October 31, 1517, Martin Luther tacked his infamous 95 Theses to the door of the All Saints Cathedral. These Theses are credited with sparking a reformation of the church resulting in the split between Catholics and Protestants.

This reformation created a theological shift that sprang forth the many denominational variances we see today. Being an Episcopal Presbyterian Methodist myself, I appreciate his standing against some of the church failures of the time (like indulgences) in order to refocus the church on Christ.

So, after the sugar wears off and your little trick-or-treaters are snug in their beds – take a moment to thank Martin Luther. I can’t help but admire a man who goes against the establishment in favor of what he knows is morally right and starts a revolution… well, reformation.

Volunteering Our Time

This week's blog cruise asks: What are some volunteerism opportunities that your family has participated in?

We always try to include volunteerism in our homeschool. This past year we were very active at the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue. Here they provide a safe haven for waterfowl in our area that have been outcast or injured. We closed the rescue weekly on Tuesday nights and fell in love with many of the animals that have become permanent residents as they can no longer live in the wild. Based on our schedule for this year, we can no longer do this, but we are seeking other avenues for weekly volunteerism.

In addition to our time at the rescue, for the last three years we have been delivering Meals on Wheels. This is a monthly activity where we get to deliver meals to those who cannot get out of the home on their own. We developed several friendships. The boys have their “favorite” deliveries that we look forward to each time.

Finally, the boys will be participating in Teen Court next year. They will sit on a jury as peers of the accused (who must admit guilt) and help determine the best remediation for the crime. The purpose of this Court is to help young members of society learn from their actions and develop into productive citizens rather than staying in a life of crime.

How does your homeschool volunteer?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Monday Memoir - Week 6 Sneak Peek

Time for another sneak peek…

We’ve been able to enjoy some rain this week! Yay! My poor lawn needed it soooo bad. I’m glad for no accidents this week, too! Knock on wood… If you don’t celebrate Halloween, why not write about what you did on Halloween night as a kid instead?

I hope you'll come back and link up on Monday.  I've changed the linky - so, hopefully, it'll work better this time.  I'm learning...  :-)

1. How did you like being the oldest, youngest, or middle child? What were the advantages or disadvantages?

2. List all the costumes you have worn or characters you have been for Halloween.

Friday, October 29, 2010

He Found WHAT in the Crawlspace?

A good friend of mine’s husband works as a carpenter. He has done some amazing work! His most recent job called for him to crawl under a restaurant in the crawl space. He noticed quickly that he was not alone down there. There were numerous little worm-like creatures poised and ready to keep him company.

As she relayed this story to me, being who I am, I asked if he could get me some of the worms to look at. Weird, I know, but you’d have to know me. We have a really cool little dish that has a magnification lid. Many an insect has been subjected to close inspection in this little dish.

Sure enough, her hubby was happy to comply and delivered me a small jar filled with dirt and worms. Actually, it turns out, our little friends aren’t worms. They are millipedes, and not centipedes, which is actually a good thing. Millipedes are harmless to humans. No toxins, no biting, etc. It didn’t take much internet research to find this out, but, in the process, the boys and I did learn some pretty interesting facts about distinguishing the two.

One major difference comes in the number of legs per body segment. Centipedes have one set; millipedes have two. In addition, a centipede has a set that faces backward off his body where the millipede doesn’t. No backward facing legs on these little guys and definitely two sets per segment. Little legs were running everywhichaway (all at the same time).

Centipede                                         Millipede
As far as I can tell, our little visitors come from the following line:

Kingdom Animalia (Animals)

     Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)

          Subphylum Myriapoda (Myriapods)

               Class Diplopoda (Millipedes)

                    Order Julida

                         Family Parajulidae

This family of millipedes is found all over the United States. A pretty exciting find to round out our Friday. I’m pretty sure I was more excited than the boys, but I think that has something to do with the fact that we had just finished school and they had been promised some Halo time. Why a video game is more fun than looking at bugs is beyond me!

One additional note - In the process of researching, I came across the house centipede – we get those around our house sometimes, and they truly gross me out. Glad to know he wasn’t working down there with these… Eww…

House Centipede

Five Question Friday

Five Question Friday - This week FLEW by.  Not sure why, but we blinked and it's already over.  So excited for November to start next week!  Yay!

Five for this week. Please post your responses and then visit Five Question Friday from the My Little Life blog to see what others had to say.

1. If you could be a fly on any wall, which would you choose?
Boy, now that’s a tough one.  If I could go back in history, the options would be numerous - the Last Supper, Sermon on the Mount, Second Constitutional Congress, planning sessions before the final battle of any war, landing on the moon, etc.  How to pick?
Today… Hmmm…  Boy, when I think about it, all the options seem kinda boring.  Oval office – nah.  Congress – definitely not!  Snooooze…  I guess I could be a spy fly and sit in on discussions in North Korea or Iraq or Iran or Afghanistan… 
2. Do you budget your Christmas shopping or just get it done without budgeting?
I don’t budget it to the penny, but I do get a sense in my head of how much is reasonable to spend.  I like to breakdown everyone we shop for and try to keep track of how much we spend for each.  Scott’s parents, his sister’s family, my sister and family, my dad’s family, my grandparents, friends, etc. 
With four kids, I do try to keep the spending about the same for each, but don’t worry if one gets a little more than the other.
3. What is the craziest fad diet you have ever done?
I did do the Carbohydrate Addict’s Diet.  You don’t eat carbs all day, and then you have one hour for the main meal where you can eat anything.  It worked for the most part.  I was exercising a lot then too.  The only problem is that that hour became an obsession.  I don’t like being so focused on eating.  That’s the problem with diets – eating and food takeover my brain.  Just knowing I can’t have something can make me fixate on it.  Doh!
4. Is there a TV show that you have seen every episode/season of?
Not really. We like Bones, so that’s the closest we’ve been to seeing All of it.  Last season we missed a few.  We’re Tivo’ing the season this time, so eventually I can answer Bones to this question.
5. What one song always pulls at your heart?
I don’t know if this counts, but I like You Gotta Be by Des’ree.  I liked this song back when I was a single mom and recently divorced.  It helped motivate me at times when things got rough.  Take a listen here -

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Holiday Traditions

The Homeschool Village asks:

How does your family show your fall spirit? Do you have a special tradition or wear a fun costume? Are there special foods you like share?

For me, as soon as November hits – we’re in the holidays! Right up until January 2nd, my mind is on the holidays each and every day. Sometimes it drives the family crazy… The Christmas radio stations start about then, and I don’t listen to anything else. After about the 20th rendition of “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer”, they are ready to mutiny.

We ALWAYS decorate for Christmas the day after Thanksgiving. Friday, the tree, stockings and Christmas plates all come out. (Makes more sense than fighting the crowds and raising my blood pressure. :-))  Our best investment was a prelit tree!  No more aggravation or arguments about putting on the lights - plug and go!  Now that's the way to do it! 

Having the house decorated creates a wonderful air of excitement.  As the presents start filling up under the tree, we realize how blessed we are with family and home.  Our nativity scene has a special place close to the front door so that we never forget the reason for the season.

Food is also a big part of our traditions. We make snowball cookies, pumpkin bread, Sonia Heines, muddy buddies, and lots of hot chocolate. Well, that's just for starters.  Not to mention all the goodies for the big family parties and meals!

 One recipe I’d like to share is super simple and lets the kids get involved. Butterscotch-Chocolate Peanut Clusters are in high demand at the Bradley household throughout the season.

Butterscotch-Chocolate Peanut Clusters

1 bag semi-sweet chocolate chips

1 bag butterscotch chips

 1 jar salted, roasted peanuts


Empty both bags of chips into a microwave safe bowl

Microwave at one minute intervals stirring until all the chips are melted and smooth

Stir in peanuts

Drop by tablespoonfuls onto waxed paper lined cookie sheets

Place in refrigerator until solid and move to a plate

Store in the refrigerator


Now, of course, there are plenty of traditions surrounding Christmas itself, but that’s for another blog post.

What are some of the traditions you look forward to as we enter the holiday season?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Are You Content?

What does the word contentment mean to you? What does it take in life to make us content?

Benny Prasad
We had the privilege of being visited by Benny Prasad at church a couple of weeks ago. This young man is from India and travels the world preaching the gospel and sharing his unique music. (He plays a drum with bongos built in.) In fact, he has been to every country on the planet except one and hopes to be there by the end of the year. He holds the distinction as the most traveled Indian musician. He challenged us to think about contentment.

Having traversed the globe – he’s experienced many different levels of people’s definition of contentment. In the impoverished parts of India, contentment may be a simple hut and food to eat. It may be family or faith. It’s not the Western definition where contentment is much broader and hard to achieve.

Why is that? Why are those with less more content than those of us with much? Can I be content with less? Can you?

The boys and I have been studying India these past few weeks. Sonlight and Mission India partnered to bring two weekly lessons to subscribers’ inboxes. While I knew poverty existed, seeing it through the videos makes a difference for both me and the boys.

Sitting in the One Room House
In one lesson, a young man in a poor village invited the commentator to dinner. The boy’s home, where his family of seven lives, is smaller than my bedroom. They have no electricity, clean water, or bathrooms. Nobody in the village does. The matron of the household cares for the boy along with her own family. His parents died of illness when he was very small. She makes $1 per day working long hours in the sugar cane fields. Yet, they are happy. I would even say, they are content. Would they want for more, sure, but they live contented lives accepting and enjoying what they have.

Where does this peace come from? I sit and fret about my finances without acknowledging that I’ll spend more on dinner out with the family than this family will have for an entire month. It’s time to focus on what we have and not what we want to have. Focus on the blessings before us and not the desire for more.

Thank you Lord for reminding me of all you have blessed us with! Help me to discern how you would have us share our blessings and be content. Show us ways to reach out to those less fortunate instead of amassing our own fortunes. In your name, Amen.

How do you define contentment?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday Memoir - Week 5

Welcome to Monday Memoir Week 5

This week I’ve been struck with what the Southerners like to call the crud or epizoody (spelling?) – I don’t spell Southern. I am feeling better now. As with many of you, I’m sure, I’m waiting for the other five of us to follow suit. Here are my reflections for this week – I’m looking forward to reading yours!
  1. Do you like rainstorms? Why or why not?
I love rainstorms. It’s so peaceful listening to the rain as it hits the house or drips down the gutters. The plants all react by turning a vibrant green or renewing their floral blooms. Rain is a renewing.

On a rainy, drizzly day, I love to snuggle up in a warm blanket with a good book and just enjoy the laziness that comes with those kinds of days. If it’s a homeschool day, the boys and I get our blankets and spend most of the day under them doing our studies.

I also like thunderstorms. Something about nature's violence as it cracks across the sky is both frightening and beautiful. I wouldn’t stand outside in the middle of one, mind you. Being a human lightening rod is not my thing!

When my son played baseball, we disliked lightening. It could be miles away, but, as soon as detected, the horns would be blaring and we’d all be retreating to our cars until the blaring brought us back. Now that he’s not playing, I still think of the kids coming off the fields.

Describe the most serious illness or accident that you have had.

I’ve been blessed with good health. My heart and prayers go out to those who struggle with chronic or terminal illness.

The worst accident I have had… Well, that’s another story. I am accident prone…

There are actually two.

First, I was trying to take a friend Christmas shopping. He is a paraplegic from the chest down and wanted me to drive his van to the mall and accompany him shopping. I was happy to do it. Unfortunately, the road we went on and a distraction caused me to ride the curb briefly. Because of the odd center of gravity for that van, we began rocking and tipped over. I was horrified. My friend, who wouldn’t let me seatbelt him tightly, fell out of his chair. What a nightmare! I remember my shoes coming off and running over broken glass to get to him. I was spitting glass for two days, but, other than that and flashbacks for a year, we were both ok. The van, on the other hand…

Second, again at Christmas, I had brought a student a computer that my husband had rebuilt for her. Her home was way out in the country. The front door was accessed by a ramp, and it was damp that day. I walked out to get the monitor and slipped right down on my buttocks. Instinctively, I put my hands down to stop me. The net result was a broken wrist that required two surgeries and ten screws. Ouch! It wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t Christmas Eve.

Needless to say, my hubby forbid good deeds for the next Christmas. lol

I can’t wait to see what you post. When you click the linky to post, that’s when you will see others who have posted as well. Not my favorite format, but the way it works for now.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

An Easy Mexican Dish for a Sunday Night Supper

The hubby always loves a big sit-down meal on Sunday nights. A wrap-up to the weekend and a kickoff to the next week. Tonight we decided to team up and cook some yummy enchiladas. These are one of the family favs…

The best part about them is how easy they are! This isn’t the best pic, but they were in the process of being consumed before I remembered to get a snapshot.


I thought I’d share the recipe since we all need something that is yummy and easy to fix…

  • Four to five chicken breasts cooked (I boiled them to get them done fast.) We like to chop the chicken up into small bites.
  • One can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies. (I go with mild so everyone likes them; you pick the heat.)
  • One can of enchilada sauce (if you like red sauce) or one can of green chili sauce (Chili verde) – (again, you pick the heat.) ((Personally – I like green chili, but that’s just me. We make a little of each.))
  • Three cups of shredded Mexican Cheese Blend
  • One package of 8-inch diameter flour tortillas 10 count – I like them pretty thin (some brands can be thick).
Now, if you are a connoisseur of Mexican cuisine, you immediately realized that these aren’t enchiladas since we don’t use corn tortillas. True… But, hey, we’ve always called them enchiladas.

  •  Heat oven to 350.
  • Spray large casserole dish with non-stick spray. (Trust me – don’t miss this step for easy cleanup.)
  • Put the cooked chicken, Rotel, and half the sauce in a bowl and mix well. 
  • Add two-thirds of the cheese and mix again. 
  • Put a scoop of the filling on the tortilla to fill it and wrap it placing it in a casserole fold side down.
  • Do this for remaining filling/tortillas nestling them in next to each other.
  • Cover the enchiladas with the remaining sauce.
  • Place the remaining cheese across the top.
  •  Place in oven for 20-25 minutes or until bubbly and the cheese is melted.
  • Serve with refried beans or a nice salad. Yum!

I followed this up with Betty Crocker Decadent Supreme Chocolate Molten Lava cupcakes.

Talk about easy – mix and bake! Two cakes, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce drizzeled over the top and whipped cream.

Needless to say – we are all about to pop!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Monday Memoir Week 5 - Sneak Peek

Welcome to Monday Memoir Sneak Peek – these are the questions for this coming Monday. Remember to come back here on Monday and post your responses!

This week I’ve been struck with what the Southerners like to call the crud or epizoody (spelling?) – I don’t spell Southern. Anyway, the gist is a nasty cold. In addition, we’re expecting rain tomorrow. Please Rain! My poor lawn…. So that got me to thinking about the questions for this week.
          1. Do you like rainstorms? Why or why not?
          2. Describe the most serious illness or accident that you have had.
I’m looking forward to seeing what you post. When you click the linky to post, that’s when you see others who have posted as well. Not my favorite format, but the way it works for now.

Post your responses weekly to the memoir questions, and you too can assemble a set of memories for your children and grandchildren to cherish for years to come. Of course, if assembling isn’t your thing, then just join as we enjoy the walk down memory lane.

Taking the TextLitClassicUnit Approach to Homeschool

What is your homeschooling style, and how did you choose for your family?

When we first started thinking about homeschooling, I was in the mindset of a teacher looking for textbooks that would fit each subject. The more research I did, the more I realized that we weren’t going to be constrained by the “public school” way of doing things.

We started our journey using the unit study based approach. One study that encompassed all of the subjects. While I did like this, I found myself staying up late many nights finding materials to supplement and expand on what we had learned. I’m not opposed to doing this; however, I knew there had to be a little better way. One that wouldn’t lead to burnout.

So, we began to pick and choose based on what we liked or didn’t. One thing we have stuck with all three years has been a living books approach to literature coinciding with what we are doing in history. I love this because the boys may or may not digest all of the facts thrown at them, but they will remember the nuances of a time period when told in a story. We are reading Guns for General Washington right now. It’s a quick read, but it has really helped us visualize the race to get the guns from Ticonderoga to Washington before the British fleet arrived during the Revolutionary War. I’m almost sure without the books, they wouldn’t remember these details. We have completed several lapbooks with history as well. Tying all those little details together as much as we can.

For math and science, we do go textbook. I like to supplement with field trips and hand’s on exploration. I think kids do need exposure to textbooks as this is what they will encounter once they are in college.

I think what is most important as one begins or continues the journey of homeschooling is to keep an eye on what works while not being afraid to change course when something doesn't. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to push through a curriculum that neither you nor your kids enjoy. You get stressed, they get fussy and don’t learn, and in the end it’s not a positive experience. Some like to say – “I don’t quit what I start.” In most cases, I agree. However, when it comes to homeschooling, our motto is “Never stop learning,” and sometimes that means taking on a new direction.

I guess we use the TextLitClassicUnit approach to homeschooling - wait, I mean eclectic.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Five Question Friday

Five Question Friday - Friday again... This week went by really fast and really slow - both at the same time. Ever have that happen? I've been sick all week, so the days seem to crawl by, but all of the sudden it's Friday. Must be the cold medicine... Anyhoo, here are my Fave Five for this week. I hope they are coherent as I'm currently getting ready to snuggle in after a large dose of nighttime cold... Please post your responses and then visit Five Question Friday from the My Little Life blog to see what others had to say.

1. Who is the better cook, you or your spouse?

I am, with one blot on my record. We had an “Iron Chef” cook-off in the house one night. We both had a Crockpot and meat to work with. His got voted better than mine by the boys. I contend that his cut of meat was better and juicier than mine, but they would have none of it and crowned him victorious. When we are able to be on a more level playing field, I intend to rectify this little mishap.

2. How often do you talk to your mom?


3. Are you adventurous in the kitchen or stick to the recipe?

I like to be adventurous. Of course, I like all sorts of foods from plain Southern to exotic. Unfortunately, that makes me an island. The boys and hubby like a routine with most things fitting into meat and/or fried. My teens will be adventurous with me; problem is, they are never home. While I do expose them to new things every now and again, I have found that if they won’t eat it, it’s not worth the effort. We have ventured into new Crockpot recipe territory with some pretty good success, though. J

4. Is your second toe longer than your big toe?

Yes, in fact it’s a hammer toe. Bent over with a giant knuckle. Not particularly attractive, but then what’s a person to do? It is what it is.

5. Do you dress up for Halloween? (Bonus question: What will you be this year?)

Nope. I’ve never been a fan of Halloween. I have let the kids Trick-or-Treat each year, though. This will probably be the last year. Phew! My youngest wants to do it one more time.

Review - Outlive Your Life

Outlive Your Life:

You Were Made to Make a Difference

Written by Max Lucado

Let God unshell you. And when he does, “make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that”(Gal. 6:4)

~Max Lucado

The opportunity to review this book came to me at a time when I have been wrestling with the ideas of faith and works. How interconnected are they? Our Pastor preached on this very topic last Sunday.

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?... As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:14,26(NIV)

The articulate and friendly approach Max uses to lay out our obligation as Christians to serve really resonated with me. My favorite message in the book comes from Max’s quote above. We are to make a “careful exploration” of who we are and then determine the works that we were created to do. Some of us have a heart for teenagers, some for urban poor, some for the elderly, and some for international suffering. We all have a calling when it comes to works through faith; determining ours and taking action is what is important. This makes sense to me. There are times when an opportunity to aid a cause is presented and I find myself less than enthusiastic. I have always felt guilt over this reaction. However, as Max points out, we are spiritually wired to enthusiastically respond in some areas and not in others. We can’t do it all, so God has given us a heart for those needs that we are best equipped to meet.

This book is a very easy read. I read it in one sitting and enjoyed it thoroughly. I also appreciated the study guide provided at the end. My husband and I will be teaching a young adult Sunday school class. I hope to incorporate this text into the class.

Outlive Your Life is a partner book to the teen version written by Max and his daughter, Jenna, that I reviewed earlier – “You Were Made to Make a Difference.” My thirteen year old son is now reading this book. He came to me just yesterday excited about chapter one and the story of Father Benjamin, a story that starts this book as well. I’m excited to share my Benjamin’s excitement as he reads about his ability to make a difference. If you are a parent of teens, I would suggest both books as a great opportunity to kickoff works through faith in your family.

Whether you believe that “Faith without works is a dead faith” as James put it or not, there is no denying that there are needs in the world that we are called to address. Max’s book is a comfortable overture to each of us to define our abilities and meet the needs of others.

*** I received this book free for review purposes from Booksneeze

Monday Memoir - Week 4

Welcome to Monday Memoir Week 4 – thank you for reading and for participating!

Post your responses weekly to the memoir questions, and you too can assemble a set of memories for your children and grandchildren to cherish for years to come. Of course, if assembling isn’t your thing, then just join as we enjoy the walk down memory lane.

Here are this week’s questions:

Did it snow much when you were a child - tell something about it, what did you do?

Did you and your father share any interests together - what and why?

1. Did it snow much when you were a child - tell something about it, what did you do?

Did it snow? Well, I grew up in Colorado and Wyoming, so, yes, it snowed. There were times when it felt like the snow would never end. We could get A LOT of snow. I remember loving snow as a child. It was fun to play in! When I grew up, I didn't like snow much anymore. First, I didn't like being cold. Second, I didn't like paying the heating bill to keep it warm inside.

When I was in elementary in Wyoming, I went to a prep school on the campus where my father worked. During the winter, they would take us skiing for a series of Fridays. What a hoot! I remember really enjoying those ski trips. We got out of school and we got to ski - very cool! I also remember that my mom always bought me one McDonald's orange juice to take with me in my lunch. It never lasted long enough. Why didn't I get a soda? Geesh! :-)

I also remember enjoying winter as a teen. After getting my driver's liscense, there was very little that was as fun as doing donuts on the ice! Wee! (I probably shouldn't let my teens read this!)

Now that we live in NC, there isn't much snow. We do get it on occasion. In fact, a dusting will close down the town. lol Snow in small amounts is much more enjoyable and a whole lot cheaper, I do believe. I do wish we could at least get a small blizzard on Christmas.

2. Did you and your father share any interests together - what and why?

My father was and is a workaholic. So, it was always important for me to find ways to connect with him. He worked as an administrator for colleges while I grew up. I remember writing a report about Pell Grants when I was in middle school. I also did an investigation into college financial aid for a report in high school. Anything so I could interview Dad. I also remember him being a weekend warrior (National Guard). I always woke up with him around 5:00am so that we could sit at the table and talk before he headed out for the weekend.

Now, we have a lot more in common. We are both educators at heart. I work in colleges teaching online, so we have much to discuss when we talk on the phone. He's always my go-to person when I have to comiserate about school policies or student issues. I do wish we lived closer! Him being in Colorado and us being here in NC makes for quite a distance. However, we do enjoy the visits when we can.

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Faith without Deeds is Dead?

Today’s sermon was a response to a question I have been confronting since speaking with a Reverend at the local Easter Orthodox church.
In any case, the base assertion is that Protestants water-down faith by making it too easy. There is no requirement for faith to manifest itself in our daily walk once we have accepted Jesus into our hearts. Today’s sermon centered around James’ assertion that “faith without works is a dead faith.”

Whether you agree with the assertion or not – I do, the hubby doesn't – I would say it is evidentiary that not all Protestants are watered-down. The idea that if a person is suffering and we do nothing we aren’t truly faithful Christians resonated throughout the sermon.

I know many Christians are known for saying “I’ll pray for you.” While most times this is truly meant, there are times when our works are more important than that simple statement. Prayer and works are required. If a person cannot feed his/her family, saying “I’ll pray for you” does little to meet the current need. Providing food and prayer is the response of faith.

Just a little “food” for thought on this fine Sunday. I feel like God is responding – now I have to pray what works he would have for us.

Onto the next question from that discussion – does God withhold salvation from those who do not demonstrate their faith?

Faith and Deeds

14What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

18But someone will say, "You have faith; I have deeds."
Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by what I do.

19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

20You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21Was not our ancestor Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23And the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,"[e] and he was called God's friend. 24You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

25In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.

James 2:14-26(NIV)

Tough Times and Homeschool

How do you homeschool during illness or family stress or crisis?

Wow, what a great question. I wish I knew the answer, or, actually, I’m glad I don’t. We’ve been very blessed during our homeschool journey. Aside from the occasional cold, we’ve not had any major hurdles to overcome these past three years (knock on wood!).

There have been a few times of family stress, but those times we are able to push aside the stress during school hours. In fact, when there is stress, the routine and enjoyment we get out of schooling tends to make life a little easier.

We’ve had to travel several times while schooling. Personally, I think this is just an opportunity for schooling outside of the box. I always find us educational tours wherever we land. We pack our bookbags and do school on the plane, in the car or in a hotel room. It’s always a priority.

I know some amazing women that have homeschooled as single parents, while battling cancer, and even while losing a spouse. These women I admire tremendously! My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of them! I don’t know how we’d handle schooling in those situations. What I do know is that we are committed to homeschool. It’s not just something we do – it’s a way of life. I have great faith we would be able to overcome most obstacles and still make homeschooling the experience God intends it to be for our family.

How have you handled the hurdles life throws at you while homeschooling?

Review - Young Hearts Longing for God

Young Hearts Longing for God

A pre-inductive study of the Psalms

Author - Kim Cargbo

Cost - $16.00

Ages – 4th to 8th Grade

I was excited to be selected to review this product from Soli Deo Gloria Resources as I had been looking for a good resource for Biblical studies to supplement what we were already doing.

The Psalms is one area we had not yet covered. However, as we all know, the Psalms are a wonderful way to connect with God and feel the emotions that go along with that connection.

Young Hearts Longing for God is set up in thirty lessons. Each lesson contains a Psalm (or part of a Psalm) along with six to eight questions for further study. What I really like about the questions is that they encourage my boys to really work within the Psalm understanding what the words mean and how they reflect God and man.

In addition, the final question is always a journal question where the boys can reflect on the Psalm and apply it to their life. This really makes the reading relevant instead of just being something David wrote.

The instructions suggest covering one Psalm a week. I found this to be a bit too slow. We are doing two a week. The pace could be faster, but the instructions suggested that going faster would cause the meaning to get lost for the students. I do require both of them to read the Psalm out loud each day – this allows them to really hear the Psalm and deal directly with the words.

I have found this study to be an excellent resource. We are enjoying working with it and will continue to use it throughout the school year.

To see additional reviews by the Homeschool Crew click here.

** I received this product free of charge for review purposes. **

Memoir Monday - Week 1

Hi All - I'm finally doing it! I'm starting a memoir of all those special childhood memories I want to share with my grandchildren. Not that I'm in a hurry to have grandchildren - no, no, no! But, I am getting prepared. Of course, I start shopping for Christmas in July, so you get the idea.

Anyway, won't you join me? Post your responses weekly to the memoir questions, and you too can assemble a set of memories for your children and grandchildren to cherish for years to come. Of course, if assembling isn't your thing, then just join as we enjoy the walk down memory lane. Here are this week's questions:
  1. Are there any family heirlooms in your possession? Tell about them and how you came to acquire them.
  2. Between the ages of 5 and 10, what was your favorite activity?
Here are my Week 1 answers - post yours, then come on back and link up:
  1. Are there any family heirlooms in your possession? Tell about them and how you came to acquire them.
I don’t have anything expensive that has been handed down from generation to generation; however, I do have a few small items that have been given to me by my grandmothers that mean a great deal.

The first is a teddy bear I received when my maternal grandmother passed away. She was 82 at the time, and I was 14. This teddy bear had been in her bedroom all the time that I knew her. I had always loved it. When she passed, it was given to me. It was the Teddy she had as a little girl. I used to keep it on a shelf until my husband went to tuck in the boys one night and offered to let them sleep with it. Yikes! Now, he’s protected in a plastic cube in my closet.
The second cherished item I have is a doll from my paternal grandmother. She is my hero. At 96, she’s still sharp mentally and leading the family. She gave it to me several years ago. It means a lot to have the childhood dolls from both my grandmothers. This is also a doll she had as a little girl. The clothes are newer, but the doll is the original.
Finally, that same grandmother gave me a reverse painting given to her on her wedding day in 1934 by a friend of hers. I think it is absolutely beautiful. This memento reminds me of the longevity of my grandparents marriage (76 years), and how important it is to have a strong marriage to hold a family together.
Unfortunately, I won’t have a doll to pass down to my children. I was never the doll type. I hope they’ll take with them lots of wonderful memories of times spent together.

2. Between the ages of 5 and 10, what was your favorite activity?

Between the ages of five and ten, I lived on my bicycle. It had a squishy banana seat and tassels hanging off the handlebars. Back in the day (yikes, I’m getting old!), kids left home in the morning, dropped in for lunch, and showed back up around dinner time. I took my bike everywhere. Places I know my parents didn’t know I was going. They had their boundaries, and I was always one who didn’t like to be limited by imaginary lines. Eventually, my bike would take me to school and back, to friends and back, to the ball fields and back, and even to the edges of town (yep, that’s where I wasn’t supposed to be). Sadly, my kids don’t get that kind of freedom. How can one generation make such a difference?

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Review - The Treasure of God's Word

The Treasure of God’s Word:

Celebrating 400 Years of the King James Bible

Compiled by Jack Countryman

But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. 1 John 2:5

For some, the language of the King James version of the Bible is that of another time and place: confusing and difficult. For others, it is a lyrical tribute to the majestic message the Bible conveys. Whether you like the King James version or not, there is no denying that it is the most well-known version in print.

The book is beautifully presented. The appearance of leather, gold leaf edges and high quality paper make this a nice gift. Inside you will find a breakdown of scripture by category for quick reference. Scripture demonstrating God’s Love, Our Inheritance, His Sacrifice, among many others is included. I appreciated the quick reference as there are times when I need inspiration from God’s Word but am not sure where to start looking. In addition, the author, throughout the book, provides a history of the King James translation from inception to present day.

What I found a difficult juxtaposition was the melodious reading of the scripture and the dry writing of the historical background. They didn’t flow together very well. Packaging the entire history in the beginning or end of the book instead of spread throughout would have made for a more cohesive history. I had to jump through the pages to read it in its entirety. Since the layout is more as a reference for scripture and not a cover-to-cover read, having the history throughout makes for an awkward approach to honoring the development of the King James version.

Overall, I like the presentation of this book and believe fans of the King James version will find it a nice addition to their spiritual walk. As a fan of history, I did appreciate the detail about the development of the version even if I did have to jump through the book to read it.

** Review copy received free of charge from BookSneeze**

Are Protestants Watered-down Christians?

I had the opportunity to speak at length with a reverend at the Eastern Orthodox Church in Charlotte recently. I was interested in Eastern Orthodoxy as I knew very little about it. I think my knowledge of religion began with the break of the Catholic church.

He spent a good deal of time explaining to us that Eastern Orthodoxy is the original church of Christ. That Catholicism broke off from Eastern Orthodoxy, and, after Martin Luther and Henry VIII, the Anglican and Protestant sects were created. I know I didn't realize that they were the original faith.

One assertion he made really had me thinking, however. He felt that Protestants have taken the responsibility out of Christianity. That being a protestant meant a one stop shop for salvation, and then one can continue on his/her way. That there is very little or no accountability for action post salvation. Just pray a little prayer, take Jesus in your heart, and poof you’re saved! Now, please understand, he was neither flippant nor disrespectful. I’m paraphrasing. However, the meaning was clear.

So, is this true? Do the churches emphasize salvation without putting an emphasis on accountability? Are we not expected to walk the Christian walk once we have accepted Jesus as our savior, or do many Christians feel that that one act alone is sufficient without any further responsibility on their part?

Personally, I feel like if you’ve been truly saved, if you’ve truly taken Jesus into your heart, then you will really try to walk the Christian walk. Not that we’ll all be perfect, far from it, but that we will be internally convicted when we choose to do things unpleasing to God. That inner voice will make us want to repent and to fix what we have done wrong.

However, I see Christians every day not demonstrating that internal conviction. So, are they not really saved? Or, is the Reverend correct? Is our salvation tentative based on our lifelong walk rather than on a moment of conversion?

This is a question I’ll be pondering for quite some time. What are your thoughts?

A School of Exploration

This week's blog cruise asks: What are some field trips that your family has enjoyed?

We love field trips – big ones, small ones and all in between.

We have been blessed over our three years of homeschooling to go on some really amazing field trips. The principal, AKA my hubby, likes to schedule a special excursion for us each year. I’m hoping it becomes tradition!

Our first year homeschooling, we were looking at ancient civilizations. Scott surprised us by taking us to Cancun so that we could make the trip to Chichen Itza to see the Mayan ruins. What an amazing trip! It made such a difference seeing these ruins up close and really understanding the history and the building that went along with the culture.

While we were there, I was able to finagle us an almost free snorkeling trip in the gulf of Mexico. We got to see the reef and its inhabitants. Normally, I don't do cold water, but this time it was just take the plunge and enjoy the experience.

Year two we were still in World History, but were up to more recent times. This time he took us to Washington D.C. We’ve been before, but not in many years. It was good for the boys to go back. We saw the Air/Space Museum, Natural History Museum, American History Museum, National Art Museum, Monuments (Washington, Jefferson, WWII, Vietnam, Korean War), Capital Building, Library of Congress, National Archives. Phew! Yes, it was a whirlwind.

At the end of last year, we went to Tybee Island in GA for a field study. If you can go, I HIGHLY recommend it. Very inexpensive with lots and lots of science. See my post about this trip.

This year, we’ve been to the Ashley Woods Living History Day. I have a post about this too! Yet another great adventure where we got to meet reenactors and see vehicles and equipment from the Civil, Vietnamese, Korean, and World wars. Admission was $2 for adults and free for kids. Can’t beat that!

What we’ve really learned is that there is SO much out there for homeschoolers to do and experience. We have another Civil War history day scheduled for November. Most factories have free tours – we’ve been through candy factories, a tea factory, art galleries, museums, etc. The best thing to do is just stay connected with the homeschool community. That is where you find out about these wonderful activities and can dive in!

Review - LanSchool Home Edition

LanSchool Home Edition

One Home License - $99 (includes 3 years tech support and 3 years major upgrade protection)

LanSchool Technologies provided me with a program to install on both my computer (the teacher computer) and the computers of my three boys (student edition). The purpose of the program is to allow me, as the teacher, to connect to their computers to execute various functions. I can see their desktop, control their desktop, lock certain functions like internet, mouse or printer, allow them to see my or each other’s desktop, chat, or even blank their desktop if I want their attention.

When I first started exploring the functions of LanSchool, I immediately thought back to when I ran an academic computer lab at a local college. Boy would I have liked to have this tool then! I know many schools use these types of programs today, and, after getting the chance to work with the program, I can honestly say I see why. However, I wondered, how will I use it at home?

How did I use it then?

Installation was incredibly easy. I was very impressed with how user friendly it was. I installed the program on my computer and the three boys’ laptops in no time. My two younger boys were excited to see everything it enabled me to do from my computer. My oldest, 17, however, didn’t like it at all. He felt like his privacy was being taken away. We came to an agreement that I would only use it to test it for academic reasons and would not violate his personal time. All of my children are aware that I reserve the right to see anything they are doing at any time, but I think this felt a little too invasive, which I understood.

Well, the main function I found helpful was the ability to see their desktops as they worked on their schoolwork. Some of the work we do is computer based. I am able to help Ben with his Algebra and Noah with his Spanish while not having to stand right next to them. I could also peek in to see if they were on task rather than having to come in and stand over their shoulders.

Another helpful function is the chat; I work online, so they can get my attention with chat without having to feel like I’m going to shoo them away to let me finish my work.

I plan to use the program so that we can watch online videos without all three of us having to huddle around one laptop screen. I will be able to share my screen and have all three of us watch from our own laptop. We use a lot of media throughout the school year, and this will be a great advantage.

If you are a family that incorporates a lot of technology into your homeschool, then I can see LanSchool as a helpful addition. This is especially true if you have independent high schoolers who need some monitoring without you “invading” their space all the time to make sure they are on task, or for younger students where the ability to see and even control the computer will help them learn.

To see additional reviews by the Homeschool Crew click here.

** I received this product free of charge from The Old Schoolhouse for review purposes. **

Continued Crockpot Success

My ongoing dedication to finding new recipes to fill my crockpot has been a lot of fun. Last week I told you about my love of the Molly Makes Slow Cooker Suppers download from TOC. Since then I have tried out four additional recipes from the "book". (I got so excited about the eating, I only remembered to take a pic of one of them. Doh!)

1. Farmhand Supper

This was a big hit. Loaded with ground beef, potatoes, onions and a tomato based sauce, it was delish! We had been having a minor cold snap as of late, and this was the ultimate comfort food. It made so much I invited my in-laws over to partake with us. Only my youngest wasn’t a fan – as I’ve noted, he’s my Mikey. He is VERY finicky. Six out of seven approval rating works for me! Here’s a pic from the recipe book, mine looked just like this minus the cornbread (which would have been a good idea!):

2. Pineapple Chicken

I wasn’t sure how this one would go over. It’s basically chicken, pineapple and soy sauce. We’re not big on Asian flavor here. Not that a few of us don’t love sweet and sour, but it’s about half and half with our family. It was a good change of pace, but probably won’t make it into the final cut of regular rotation meals.

3. Ham and Bean Soup

Wonderful! That is if I hadn’t have added salt to it. It said salt to taste. Scott says he should hang a salt lick by our bed so that I can get my fix as needed; however, this was even too salty for me. I am going to take a second shot at this one because the flavors were really good minus the excess salt. Another perfect comfort food for a cold evening.

4. Creamy Cubed Steak

Tonight was the debut of this recipe. Although, in all fairness, my men do love them some good country style steak. I’ve made something like this before, but not with the added ingredients of beef broth, cream of mushroom soup and onion soup mix. I only used half of what they called for of these three, and it came out wonderful. It made a delicious gravy to go with the steak. In the past, the steak has been good, but the gravy left something to be desired. These add-on’s did just the trick. Loved by all – even Noah! Woot! Added to the rotation!

I’m going to try a few more this week and next. It’s quite fun trying out new recipes, especially when I can put them in the crockpot in the morning and have a wonderful hot meal ready at night! I don’t know about y’all, but I run out of gas right about dinner time. Knowing the family will be well fed and I won’t be exhausted afterwards is a major plus!

If you have great crockpot recipes - please post them in the comments! I'm always looking for easy, new ways to spice up our evening meals!

Monday Memoir - Week 2

Welcome to Monday Memoir - Week 2!

Post your responses weekly to the memoir questions, and you too can assemble a set of memories for your children and grandchildren to cherish for years to come. Of course, if assembling isn’t your thing, then just join as we enjoy the walk down memory lane.

Here are this week’s questions:

1. Describe the perfect autumn day and what activities you enjoy.

2. Did you have a childhood hideout – tell about it?

I especially like these questions this week as the weather has finally turned to fall. We went from temps in the low to mid nineties to temps in the seventies. Honestly, I'd like it to get into the sixties and just hold there. I'm sure you'll hear me complaining about the cold come January, but, for now, it's nice to be back to pleasant temps where we can go outside and just enjoy nature.

1. Describe the perfect autumn day and what activities you enjoy.

I think that by far autumn is my favorite season. While the heat is nice at the beginning of summer, by the end, I’m ready for a little relief. Sweater weather is wonderful. I can put on my favorite sweater, walk outside in the cool air and just enjoy nature. All the animals are scurrying getting ready for winter, the air is crisp with the hint of a fireplace in the distance, and the breeze is refreshing.

My first year in NC, 1994, was the perfect autumn. Growing up in Colorado, I enjoyed the changing of the aspen from green to gold, but here in NC the trees turn all colors of orange, red, yellow,… I was just mesmerized. Our annual trip to see the leaves in something that symbolizes autumn to me.

2. Did you have a childhood hideout - tell about it?

We moved a lot when I was a kid, so I wouldn’t say there was a specific hideout that I had. However, when I was old enough to drive, we lived in Fort Collins, Colorado. It was a twenty minute drive to be up in the mountains along the river in the Poudre Canyon. There was a specific place in the canyon where a large rock jutted out over the river. I used to love to drive up there, climb up on my rock and either think or read. I miss that location. Being a mountain girl, that rock was a little slice of heaven.

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Review - The One Year Mother Daughter Devo

The One Year Mother Daughter Devo

Authors: Dannah Gresh with Janet Mylin

Pretty in pink – this book is a great resource for mothers wishing to connect with their daughters on a spiritual level. The book offers a devotional for a mother and daughter to share daily along with questions for further thought.

While this may sound like your typical devotional, what makes it different is the way it is written. The devotional is written in language directed at young teen girls. After reading a Bible passage, the devotion helps the teen and mom understand the message in “today” terms. The “Girl Gab” offered in the margins lets the pair discuss what is going on in the teen’s life, how mom handled life when she was a teen, and provides for in-depth conversation. All moms wish they could connect with their daughters on this deeper level. Reflections like, “Talk about a time you cried really hard. Were you angry, sad, confused, happy or scared?” Other days offer crafts or recipes that can be done together.

To be effective, this book requires mom and daughter to set aside time daily to be together. What better way to spend time? The fun way the book is written and the conversation it creates help to ensure the time will never become a burden.

Were my twenty year old daughter still a teen, this is one book she would find under the Christmas tree this year.

** Review copy received free of charge from Tyndale Blog Network**

Blogging for the Homeschool Village

Boy am I excited! It's an honor to be picked to participate on the Homeschool Village Panel for the next two months. Please drop by their blog and see what they are up to!

One of the new experiences of joining is trying out Twitter. Join the HSV tonight at 9PM EST for their first ever Twitter Chat! It promises to be a fun hour of homeschool Q&A with our panel as well as special guests!! Use the hashtag #askhsv. I'll be there doing my best to keep up! Hope to "see" you there...

Nature Immersion

The Blog Cruise for this week asks - How do you do nature studies where YOU live?

Nature studies are one of our favorite things. We have spent a great deal of time walking through our local nature parks looking at flora and fauna alike. Living in the South – the foliage is out of control as are the critters who live there. It’s a wonderful place to discover nature’s beauty.

This year, we haven’t had much opportunity yet, but, in past years, we have done a lot with nature. Our first year, we raised painted lady butterflies, African clawed frogs, a bearded dragon, two googley eyed black goldfish, and a dog/cat for good measure. It was fun to see cocoons release butterflies, tadpoles grow legs, a lizard molt, and, well, goldfish get fat. :-)

We also enjoy dissection. At home we have dissected a flower, a frog, a sheep’s heart and kidney and a cow’s eye. The cow’s eye was the coolest – I would never have thought the lens is like a flattened marble. Aren't you glad I don't have a pic? :-)

We tried doing nature journals, but they got in the way of the actual exploring.

Last spring, we took a trip to Tybee Island for a science field trip.  There we learned about (among other things) orienteering, beach/forest/marsh ecology, shark dissection, echolocation and bioluminescence. If you are in the area and have a chance to participate in their programs, I can’t recommend them highly enough.

Finally, up until August, we were volunteering at the Carolina Waterfowl Rescue. This is a great place! The education we got about the various waterfowl and how to care for them is invaluable. Nothing like immersion for learning!

Any time we see something strange in nature, we try to figure it out. If we can, we bring it back home to go under the microscope for a closer look.

We are always on the lookout for new opportunities!

What do you do in your homeschool to study nature?