Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Day it Clicked!

I love the idea of allowing my kids to learn according to their natural curiosity. I kept saying that I wanted them to unschool.
Then, I found books, blogs, and articles to read on unschooling. I found out real quick that I am not okay with the entire life style of freedom and choices. I still believe in bedtime, mealtimes, eating healthy, and some kind of accountability. 

What I did like was the freedom to explore and learn at their pace according to their interests. I needed a balance. 

We were already using journals from The Thinking Tree. I just hadn't figured out how it all was going to work for our family. I knew that I wanted it to work, but I was still a little skeptical. My littles are 7, 5, & 3. The idea of them doing school, or creating learning opportunities on their own was hard for me to grasp. 

It was a Monday, we were not actually 'doing school' that day. The house was a mess and I was overwhelmed with getting it caught up and trying to teach. I called a free day and began cleaning. The kiddos were busy playing with various toys and were keeping themselves relatively entertained. Around 10am they started a movie on Netflix. I made lunch for them about the time the movie was over. After eating Brother Bear and Sister went down for a nap. 

Then it happened, no notice given, Popper brought me a paper airplane that he and B made. I remembered a book that my mom had bought them with paper airplanes in it. I went and got it for them. For the next 3 hours those two boys followed directions and created paper airplanes and space shuttles.

boys, unschooling, learning, homeschool

Next, Popper found a thermometer that usually hangs outside. He brought it to me and asked how to read it. I spent a few moments explaining how to read a thermometer. He was super excited. He asked if he could put it outside to see what the difference was in temperature between inside and out. After a about 10 minutes he brought it back in and read the temperature to me. He asked what the difference was. We discussed how to find that out. He grabbed his journal and began to write down everything he was learning. He was even able to figure out that there was a 32* difference. Excitedly, he put it back outside explaining that he wanted to check it first thing in the morning to see how cold it was going to get 
funschooling, The Thinking Tree, temperature lessons

When I least expected it, learning happened! Popper's curiosity lead to a lesson in math, science, and data recording. His creativity was given freedom as he created paper airplanes. His deductive reasoning skills went to work when he was trying to discover how to make the planes fly further and longer. 
That night at the library he had no trouble getting 9 books! He wanted books on temperature, Egypt, and space. Then he found one just for fun! 

funschooling, The Thinking Tree, journaling

All this without my prompting, without me teaching, without any pressure to 'do school', learning just happened!

That is the day that I finally became a believer! I get it and I want it to continue! I never want to go back to workbooks and table lessons! Let's get messy, crafty, and continue to be curious! I love this!  

I am linked up with Homeschooling 6!To find more great posts about funschooling with The Thinking Tree click the link below:


Thursday, December 24, 2015

My Favorite Christmas Song!

There are so many Christmas songs to choose from. Many people change favorites every year. My husband likes them all. Me? I have a few that I love dearly and look forward to every year, but my favorite song, that's easy!...

Christmas, Carols, Mary Did You Know, Pentatonix

"Mary Did You Know?"

It makes me really think. I sends me to a place of awe. 

Once I had boys of my own the reality of what Mary was dealing with, what God chose her to do...I can't imagine! 
There are a few of the lyrics that really get me, and I would like to share with you my heart.

"Mary did you know that your Baby Boy 
would save our sons and daughters?"

We all think that our children are special. We try not to compare them with other children, though sometimes we fail. Can you imagine knowing that you child's purpose in life would be to save those other children?

"Did you know that your Baby Boy 
has come to make you new?

This Child that you delivered 
will soon deliver you?"

I can't imagine the power of that thought! Put yourself in Mary's shoes, this baby boy that you just carried for 9 months and delivered after who knows how many hours, is going to be the one that makes you new!

"Did you know that your Baby Boy 
has walked where angels trod?

When you kiss your little Baby, 
you've kissed the face of God?"

Okay, seriously! This is more than my mommy/human heart can even begin to take in! I have no words! Only an awe struck moment, an image of that special moment when Mary held her Baby for the first time. Just like every other mom. She leans over and kisses that sweet little chubby face. She allows Him to wrap His tiny fingers around her pinky and stares into her eyes. ***SIGH***

What about when she nursed her sweet Baby? Those special bonding moments that moms spend with their precious babies in the wee hours of the night. Was she aware of just what the future held for her Little One?

"Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy 
is Lord of all creation?"

Baffled yet again. He created you! That's a crazy thought! This little One that you just carried in your body for 9 months, that your body supported and allowed to grow, actually created you and chose you! 

"Mary, did you know that your Baby Boy
 is heaven's perfect Lamb? 

The sleeping Child your holding 
is the great I Am?"

'heaven's perfect Lamb' that makes me tear up. To know that my baby was going to be the sacrificial lamb! Did she know? Did she have any idea what God had planned? 

When God called she answered. She was a mom just like you and I. I'm sure she had dreams and plans for her children just like we do. Can you imagine her heart, her thoughts, or how about her prayers?

Those are the thoughts that come to my mind every time I hear this song. With these and the ones that you are having now, I invite you to enjoy my favorite version of this song:

I pray that you have a blessed Christmas. Enjoy the small moments with your babies and families! 

Merry Christmas!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Saying "I'm Sorry"

sorry, submission, help-meet

God calls me to be submissive to my husband, and I'm still learning how this works. I'm still searching. I still make mistakes. Recently, I made a rather large one. I had to learn to resubmit and ask for forgiveness from Daddy T.

I have a very dominate type-A personality. I tend to jump in head first even when God places warning signs in my way. I am learning, but sometimes (cough-cough) I can be a bit stubborn!

A few months ago, I was introduced to a new idea. It was intriguing. I liked the idea. I liked some of the stuff that went with the idea. Naturally, I began to dive-in. My husband told me, in a very loving and careful way, that the idea was not a good one. He told me that he didn't like the idea at all and that I needed to be careful.

Did I listen to his wisdom and warning? NO, of course not. I preceded to dive-in head first. In doing so, I hurt several people along the way. 

God brought me to my knees through a series of events that seemed devastating at the time.  I spent several days on my knees searching out truth. Once I realized just how much I had screwed things up, I repented to God. I can't tell you how thankful I am that I have such a forgiving Father. I mess up a lot. I am so thankful for His unconditional love for me.

The next part was the hardest. I needed to ask for my husband's forgiveness. I knew that I had wronged him. I knew that I had hurt him and my family by ignoring his warnings. 
Sometimes, the apology is the hardest part. However, the release of guilt when someone says that they forgive you is so worth it. 

The conversation wasn't easy. I wasn't even sure where to start. I said a silent prayer for courage and began. I poured my broken heart out to my husband. I thanked him for his wisdom and asked him for forgiveness for ignoring it. He forgave me. Even though I knew that he would, it was still a difficult conversation. I had to humble myself, which is never fun. 

The end result was worth the pain. I restored my relationship with both my God and my husband! Things are back in their rightful order. 

If you have ignored God or your husband in someway, I challenge you to take the next step. Get alone with God. Allow Him to forgive you. He's there waiting, longing for that renewed relationship with you again. Then go to your husband. Ask for his forgiveness as well. It does wonders for your relationship when you acknowledge his position in your life. I promise you won't regret it!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Brother Bear Turns 5!

I cannot believe that it has already been 5 years since I first saw my sweet Brother Bear's face! This past week we celebrated with friends and family. It was a really good day. 

My 3 littles all have dye allergies. Therefore, the traditional cakes that you buy at the store are not an option. In the past that has meant that we had white cakes with white icing and some kind of fun plastic topper to make them festive. This year I was on a mission to find natural dyes so that I could make their cakes as special as they are. 
Brother Bear requested a Ninja Turtle party complete with pizza cakes.

My search was on:
My first stop was Sprouts. I love this place! 
I found these natural dyes and decided, despite the price, to try them. 

Next, since I was making the cake from scratch, I needed to find the toppings.
I went to Aldi. They have a great variety of things that are dye-free. They are my go to for snacks.
Icing to dye for the 'sauce', white chocolate to grate for the 'cheese', raisins for the 'sausage', and raspberry gummy strips to cut into circles for the 'pepperoni.'

I was excited to get the cakes assembled and see his happy face!
Saturday, I baked 4 round 8 inch cakes. 
On Sunday morning, I started to dye the icing to make the sauce. Now, I knew that I would never get bright, vibrant colors with natural dyes, but I was hoping to get it close. No such luck. The red made it look like a flesh tone. It was almost like silly putty. I added a little orange to it to try and get it saucier looking. 
It was close enough to make a 5-year-old happy. However, I think I'll try different dyes next time, especially for the price!

Overall, I was pleased with the results. It sure beat white icing with a plastic figure! 

The party was festive! Brother Bear had a blast. 
I think I can rule this one a success! 

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dyslexia Games-An Answer to Prayers!

At the beginning of November I wrote and told you all about Popper's recent diagnosis of dyslexia. I told you about the opportunity to review for Dyslexia Games. I knew the review opportunity alone was an answer to my prayers. The results of the last 3 weeks speak for themselves!

 We have been using Art First, which is the 1st book on Group A.
 Popper loves this book so much. He actually asks to do pages in it! Sitting down to read and work on phonics used to bring us both to tears! Then we started Dyslexia Games. Now, he loves his workbooks!

dyslexia games review

Last Friday, I asked him to complete his normal 3 pages for that day. He sat down to start and counted that he only had 6 pages left in the whole book. He wanted to finish them that day. Of course, I let him! That much excitement over school work makes a happy mommy!

dyslexia games for kids, dyslexia games the thinking tree

We started using Word Hunt 1 in conjunction with the 2nd book. It is very helpful. I had Popper look for 3 letter words in the 1st chapter that he read. It caused him to really slow down and look at the words. Which resulted in less stumbles while reading. He was so excited that he could actually read the words without much help! I could see him self-confidence building!

dyslexia games series a

This picture melts my mommy heart and shows just why Dyslexia Games my answer to prayer! I was cooking dinner and looked up to find Popper reading a book to Sister! He was reading for pleasure; not because I told him to, not because it was assigned, but because he wanted to read to his sister! 
This is a new found confidence! I am so excited about the improvement in his reading already, and we are only through book 1! 

I can't wait to see where we will be when he finishes all of A! 

I'll be posting updates as we go. My hope is that if there is someone out there who has a child struggling, they will see this and be able to get the resources that they need!

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Just Be Held!

It's been a rough week. 2 days! That's all. I've spent 90% of it in prayer. The more I pray the stronger these lyrics have sounded in my mind! He's got this! That's my reminder.
So, for those of you struggling this week, remember, He's in control!

"So when your on your knees

an answers seem so far away

You're not alone, stop holding on 

and just be held

Your world's not falling apart,

it's falling into place

I'm on the throne, stop holding on
and just be held
Just be held, just be held."

I pray that this song ministers to you in the same way that it has me this week!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Our Chickens!

I realized that I had not written anything in regards to homesteading lately. I figure that it is long overdue.

Back in September we went down to Atwood's and bought ourselves chickens. Yep! We were officially owners of 8 baby chicks. The kiddos were thrilled to have 'pets.' I was thrilled that we would have fresh eggs in the early spring. My sweet crunchy family goes through a dozen eggs easily in one breakfast.

raising baby chicks
They started out so very tiny. 

The first few weeks were very entertaining as the crunchy kiddos played with their new pets. They begged constantly to go to the mudroom to watch, but not touch, the chicks. (that never happened, by the way!) I usually found them cuddling a chick a piece and arguing over names.

So tiny!

Finally, after about a month, most of the names were settled. We had Penguin, Flappy Bird, Robin, Batgirl, Watchman, Sweetie Bird, and Indian. This left one bird, who still doesn't have a name. Poor guy!

At the beginning of November, these little birds weren't so little anymore. They moved from their small living space in my mudroom to the barn out back. We started taking them to the small fenced area that will eventually be their permanent home during the day. Meanwhile Daddy T and B worked on the hen house.

Popper and his friend, Diva, cuddling the chicks.

One day while we were outside trying to secure a spot in the fence that Robin, renamed Houdini escaped through the night before, we had noticed that Sweetie Bird was missing. Moments later a very large hawk came swooping in and almost captured Batgirl. My screaming scared him away. We realized very quickly where Sweetie Bird had gone.
Learning to free range, before the hawk found them.

Now, Daddy T and B have a much larger job of enclosing the top of their fenced in area to keep out the hawk and any of his friends that might try and get another one of my hens!

Brother Bear cradling Penguin! She actually thinks that she is a pet!

This is a new experience for me and Daddy T. We are learning all we can as we go. I can't wait until there are fresh eggs on my table every morning!

Friday, December 11, 2015

Bruised Not Broken By:Sheryl Beck-Nelson -A Book Review

What’s Next After Your World Falls Apart? Choose Back ‘In’ to Life and Purpose. A young widow is faced with the reality of rebuilding her life after the sudden death of her husband. She recounts the comfort and restoration of God, who is always near to the broken hearted. With amazing strength of faith, she chose ‘in’ to life again: abundant life. As a result, she discovers a new love, a renewed hope and a new calling, proof that God can redeem even our most painful circumstances. “There are times when unwanted change evolves into a fear of the unknown. This fear can paralyze us, ultimately keeping us from making the choices that will kick-start our healing process.” Beck-Nelson’s heart-warming, witty style will inspire hope in anyone experiencing a loss; whether it be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a dream or of faith in a good future. Bruised but Not Broken will encourage you to ‘choose in’ to a life of purpose and hope.

My Review: Sheryl Beck-Nelson experienced something that for many of us is our worst nightmare, the untimely loss of her husband. She was left with their 11-year-old son and the responsibility of being the leader of their home. Where many would crumble, she learned to lean on God. She found such strength and growth during the time after his death! She chose to keep going and to find her purpose in God!

This book is so inspirational! It is not just for people that have lost a loved one. It is for people who feel like their world is falling apart. There are so many encouraging words of truth found here. I have many pages bookmarked because of Bible verses that she shared or quotes that really spoke to me. There was one quote in particular that really got my attention:

"I know that while it's easy to focus on our own suffering, 
the truth is, nothing about our circumstances changes anything about God."

There have been so many times in my life when the 'junk' of life had me down. During these times I have been guilty of focusing on the problem or circumstance at hand that I lost sight of God. He never changes! He is always there to lean on. That is one of the many points of encouragement that Sheryl shares in "Bruised but Not Broken."

I cannot recommend this book enough! If you know someone that is going through a difficult time in life, this book would be a great gift to help them refocus on a God Who loves them very much!
If it's you that is going through the tough time, do yourself a favor, get Sheryl's book! It is an uplifting and inspiring read!

You can get your copy on Sheryl's websiteAmazon, or Barnes and Noble.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Unschooling Days!

We have been busy busy with school lately. I have been co-schooling with my neighbor and best friend, Heather from Home's Cool.  Our kiddos have been very interested in Egypt. We decided to do a joint study. 
On Mondays we go to their house to learn music, art, and literature. On Tuesdays we are here at the Crunchy House learning culture, geography, and craft time. I am personally enjoying getting the extra help, especially since teaching art and poetry are not my strong points!
Our study is going to last about 9 weeks and end with an Egyptian party where the kiddos will present all their new knowledge to the dads. They will be learning a play that Tiger Lily is writing to present as well! 

I thought I would share with you what we have been up to so far:

We started the week of Thanksgiving. It was our prep week. Mr. Popper had said that he wanted to make his own globe. So, of course, in true unschooling, child-lead learning, we did just that!
No one told us that paper mache balloons and 7 children was a bad idea, not that we would have listened to them! We are super moms!(or really crazy, we haven't decided which yet.)

Here are the finished projects drying in the sun. Next week we will be starting the painting process.

We started painting the Egyptian flag on the front of our file folder 'suitcases.'  This is where we will be keeping all of our fun writings and information!

Of course we made time for a nature walk.

This amazing field has some of the best climbing trees that I have ever seen. The kids had a blast!

The coming weeks are filled with lots of fun crafts, creative writing prompts, virtual field trips, and more! The kids are little sponges soaking up all they can about Egypt. Between the 7 of them I don't think there is a book left available to be checked out at our local library. I love that they are so excited about learning! This is one of the main reasons we started this homeschooling journey.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

An Exciting Opportunity!

Back in October I saw a post on Facebook from The Old Schoolhouse. They were accepting applications for new members of their Review Crew. I looked into it. I thought it was a great opportunity to try some new curriculum ideas, products, and websites to supplement our school days. Since we unschool I am always excited to try new stuff that will help push us further and get us excited about new subjects. 

I filled out the application. The whole time I prayed that if this was a good thing for my family that God would allow my application to stand out, but, if not, that He would allow it to slip through the cracks. 
A few short weeks later, I got an e-mail telling me that I made it to the next phase. I was then asked to do a sample review for one of their ebooks, Creative Nature Study. I submitted my review a week later. Then, I was nervous! I prayed so hard that if this was God's will that it would happen. I talked to Daddy T about the responsibilities that I would have, making sure he was okay with me taking something else on to our schedules. He was 100% supportive.
That Friday night I received an e-mail inviting me to be a part of the 2016 Crew!!!
 I am so excited to get started! I can't wait to share with all of you the fun and exciting products! 

2016 is shaping up to be a busy year! I'll be posting so much more! I want to get the opportunity to interact with all of you! If you haven't already, link up with me on Facebook!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Nothing but the Blood!

It can forgive, forget, and make you new;
It can can heal sickness 
It can justify you;
It allows to to go before the throne;
To get to God, you must go though it alone!
Nothing but the blood!

I have always known that the blood of Jesus was important. I grew-up listening to my grandparents sing hymns about it. I heard time and again that there was 'Power in the Blood' along with several other cliche style 'churchy' sayings. 
At age 7 I came to a realization that I needed Jesus. I knew that I could never be good enough. I asked Him into my heart to be my Savior. When I was 21 I realized that having Him as my Savior wasn't enough, I wanted Him to be the Lord of my life. I wanted to let Him lead me. He needed to be my guide. I could no longer do that on my own. I had tried and failed too many times.
Since that time I have had seasons of growth, waiting, rebellion, repentance, and closeness with Jesus. I have studied His word and prayed for wisdom to understand. I have leaned on Him during the tough times and rejoiced and praised Him during the good times. I haven't been perfect, that's why He is necessary!

Lately, my views on a lot of things that I believe have been tested. I have searched and found scripture to either back what I believe or teach me differently. In these intense times of seeking God's face, I have found some amazing scripture about the blood of Jesus. (I know that all scripture is amazing, 2 Timothy 3:16 says "All scripture is God-breathed..." it doesn't get any more amazing than that. However, there are times when a verse or a group of verses stand out to me so big that amazing is simply the only word to use!)  
Have you ever stopped to really think about the blood, to understand it's importance? I did this week and let me tell you, I am in awe! Here's an example:

In Hebrews 10 Paul is talking about the sacrificial system set up in the Old Testament as a means of covering the sins of the people. Let me pick up in verse 11:

Every priest stands [at his altar of service] ministering daily, offering the same sacrifices over and over, which are never able to strip away sins [that envelop and cover us]; 12 whereas Christ, having offered the one sacrifice [the all-sufficient sacrifice of Himself] for sins for all time, sat down [signifying the completion of atonement for sin] at the right hand of God [the position of honor]"

With the sacrificial system that the priests used, it was simply a cover-up for sins. The sins were still present, the blood just masked them. These sacrifices had to be repeated over and over! 
The blood of Jesus did away with that system! He was the ultimate sacrifice!
His blood doesn't just cover our sins, it erases them! More than that, as if there needs to be more, the blood allows us to go before the throne of God. We no longer need priests to do that for us. We are covered by the blood of Jesus, we are forgiven, and we are justified by faith! We can now approach the throne! 
Without the blood of Jesus, I am nothing. I am a sinful, imperfect person. I am destined to be separated from God eternally. When you apply the blood, it changes all of that! Now, I am a joint heir with Christ! I am a child of God. I am FORGIVEN! I can now go before God on my own. I can have a personal relationship with Him! 
That my friends, is some pretty powerful stuff! 

Because of this, today I stand thankful and in awe of my Heavenly Father Who loved me so much that He sent Jesus to die, for me!!! So that I no longer have to face ultimate separation from God, but instead, ultimate fellowship! An eternity of worshiping and praising HIM!!! All because of the BLOOD!!!

"What can wash away my sin?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
What can make me whole again?
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;

Oh! precious is the flow
that makes me white as snow;
No other fount I know;
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

Nothing can for sin atone;
Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
Naught for good that I had done;
Nothing but the blood of Jesus!*"

*"Nothing but the Blood of Jesus" by Robert Lowry

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Jesus on Every Page

That I would see Jesus on every page. That was her prayer for me. I knew that He was there in the beginning. I knew that He was a part of it all, but to actually see Him in every page of scripture? That seemed a bit far fetched. 

For the last year I have been trying to sort out some things in my life. I have been digging to find answers to so many questions that had been plaguing me. I've been determined to know what I truly believe. I am beginning to find that some of my beliefs were blind. I was believing them because that is what I was taught. Now,....well, now I'm not so sure. I have been searching. Trying to seek out the truth. I desire a deeper walk. I want to really know who God is. I want to have a real prayer life. I am HUNGRY! 

If you have been following me at all lately, you know that God has been getting my attention. He is actively seeking me too! I have been getting a crash course in trusting Him. My behind the scenes isn't easy.

To be frank, because I'm not sure I can be any other way right now, I had gotten bored with the Old Testament.  I loved reading about Jesus and His miracles. I was called to be like Him, so, studying Him only seemed like the next logical step. For me, He was found in the New Testament.
My friend is a Messianic Jew. I know that a lot of you want to stop reading here, please don't. I'm not going where you think that I am. Please, stay with me. 
We have been going to Shabbat (Sabbath) on Friday nights with her and her family. It is a time to be refreshed, to worship God, and I enjoy being challenged in my beliefs. It causes me to dig and get scripture to back what I believe. Sometimes, I find that I am wrong and have twisted or misread something. Sometimes, we simply agree to disagree. This isn't about who is right and who is wrong. This isn't about 'converting' anyone. This is about 'iron sharpening iron.'  This is a safe place where I can ask questions, search scripture and pray with fellow believers, because our core faith beliefs are still the same. 
One afternoon, about a month ago, when Heather and I were talking about a section of scripture that we were reading, I began to express my complacency with the Old Testament. She didn't judge or act shocked. I told her that I had really been enjoying the Friday nights, but there is no way I could be Messianic. I was a New Testament Christian. She was so patient with me. She paused, and after about a minute, she told me that that was not her goal at all. She wasn't trying to get me to come to Synagogue or anything to do with the Messianic. Her only prayer for me was that I "would see Jesus on every page." She longed for me to not just have the head knowledge that He was there, but for me to actually see Him there! I thought she was crazy. 

Here I am a few weeks later, I am still searching. I am still digging. I do not have all the answers. Heather and I have agreed to disagree more than once. BUT I am growing. I am finally getting that walk that I only dreamed of. I am studying the Old Testament. I am starting to see Jesus. I am starting to understand. 

What does this mean for my future? I'm not sure. Here is what I am sure of:

I believe that Jesus is the son of God. That He came to earth and lived a sinless life. He died on the cross, was buried, and 3 days later He rose again! I believe that He is at the right hand of God. I believe that one day, very soon, He is coming back, and that I will get to be with Him in Heaven because He lives inside of me. He is my best friend. I believe that everyone has that choice and opportunity as well if they will simply accept Him.  Either way, I believe that one day 'every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess."  

These is my core faith beliefs they will not ever change! The rest, I am still searching for truth. I am still learning. I have other things that are strong beliefs that haven't changed, but those are just extras!

I am starting to see Jesus on every page! I pray that you will seek and find Him too! Matthew 7:7-8 says:

“Keep asking, and it will be given to you; keep seeking, and you will find; keep knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who keeps asking receives; he who keeps seeking finds; and to him who keeps knocking, the door will be opened.   

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Creative Nature Study by The Old Schoolhouse- A Review

I was given the opportunity recently to review the "Creative Nature Study" by The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.  Their Review Crew has reviews for all sorts of products and curriculum. I was amazed by the wide variety of stuff that they reviewed it's not just books. If you are looking for ideas for your school days, you should definitely start there! 

When making the transition back to unschooling, I knew that I would need to incorporate more outside time with the Crunchy Kiddos. The same nature walks looking at the same leaves and trees had become almost boring to us. I needed to spice things up, try something new. I was drawing a blank. This book came at the perfect time!
Creative Nature Study is full of fresh ideas to help make nature more fun! I had not thought about packing a nature bag.There were so many ideas and resources that you could take with you on a walk to help make it more educational and fun.
I am a firm believer in the fact that nature studies are the best science curriculum that there will ever be! It is also one of the best ways to really see who God is. 
"The heavens declare the glory of God; 
the skies proclaim the work of his hands." 
Psalm 19:1
I want my children to grow up appreciating what God created. I want them to enjoy searching and learning about His creation. I just needed a little push to get me back on track. I needed some fresh ideas to help motivate me. This amazing book not only did that, it also included scavenger hunt pages that I could print off to help steer me and my children in the right direction. It gave us ideas of things to study that sometimes are forgotten about. 
I love that through nature you can even learn to be a better writer. The descriptive words that you use to describe all the sights, sounds, and smells help to create some very lovely creative writing assignments and poems. Here is a haiku that was written after a nature day:

by Popper age 7

Fall leaves are very pretty.
They always crack under feet.
Red, yellow, orange, brown, and green

The fall air is fresh.
It makes me feel cold sometimes.
It makes it rain leaves.

Squirrels collect acorns
to store away for winter.
They hide acorns in the ground.

Fall is beautiful.
All the colors of nature
make me want to smile.

I would encourage everyone to add a little nature to your lesson plans. If you are new to nature studies or are bored with the same old walks, this book would be a great resource for you. You can find it on The Old Schoolhouse's website! You will not be disappointed! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Unschooling, Back to Our Roots!

School had gotten boring. We were beginning to hate it! With the diagnosis of dyslexia, I realized why it was harder, but that still didn't change the fact that it was hard. We struggled to work on anything on our lesson plan. Reading and math were nightmares that I avoided like the plague! Then, I read Life Love & Dyslexia. I remembered why I started homeschooling to begin with!
I wanted my children to love learning! I wanted them to get books that interested them, not assigned readers. I wanted the world to be their classroom. I didn't want workbooks and tests. I wanted nature studies and notebooking! I wanted to read together, watch documentaries, and explore the great outdoors! I wanted to unschool my children!

I had given in to the lie that my children needed structure and curriculum to learn properly. While that might be true for some families, it is not for ours!
So, along side my friend Heather, we started over this week. Our children were equipped with their journals, both plain spirals and some fun ones from Dyslexia Games. We set out to allow the children to learn! Here are just a few of the many fantastic things that we did!

Top Right: Sister, Popper, Diva, and Fashionista are learning to sew.
Top Left: Tiger Lily is researching the Holocaust.
Bottom Right: A group game of Monopoly Jr. to help with math skills!
Bottom Right: Brother Bear and Turkey Boy make Yodas out of theraputty!

Left: Turkey Boy showing off his nature scavenger
        hunt finds!
Top Right: Fashionista found some tree sap.
                 She thinks it smells like honey.
Bottom Right: Brother Bear is cradling our sweet
                    hen, 'Penguin.'

Top Left: Diva and Popper are enjoying the                            chickens and trying to decide which ones                  are hens and which are roosters.
Top Right: Popper is holding 'Bat girl' (though the                      chicks gender is still unknown)
Bottom Right: Tiger Lily and Fashionista are burying                       the others during an afternoon of                               outside learning!
Bottom Left: All the kiddos journaling about their                         finds on the nature scavenger hunt!

We had such a good time learning together this last week! We started each day with our daily Dyslexia Games lessons and journals which I don't have pictures of. I also failed to get pictures during reading time, but there was learning of subjects across the board from Holocaust to Titanic to Gorillas. I feel like we learned more together in this time than in the last 2 months!

This is my passion for my children: to create an atmosphere of learning. Teaching them to follow their interests to the furthest point and back again! I want them to be curious about life and search out answers on their own with a little guidance from mom and dad when needed! My job is to help fuel that curiosity not squash it! I want to come along side them, learn with them, and learn from them! This was the reason that I started homeschooling my children! Thank you Sarah Janisse Brown for reminding me of that in your book!

Thank you, Heather, for joining me on this journey! Learning together with your children is so fantastic! Thank you for your friendship that means more to me than you'll ever know!

Above all else, Thank You, Father God, for the privilege of getting to learn right along side my children in this way!

And to you friend, thank you for joining me each week! I am so excited about where our school year is headed and can't wait to share them with you!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Life, Love, and Dyslexia: Sarah's Journal- A Review

This is not one of my normal reviews. I actually was given a copy of "Life, Love & Dyslexia: Sarah's Journal" by my friend, Heather. With the recent reality that Popper has dyslexia, I wanted to know more. Sarah Janisse Brown not only has dyslexia herself but 3 of her 10 children have it as well. She is the author and creator of Dyslexia Games. I knew that with all that she would have answers for my many burning questions.
She might, but this book did not answer those questions. Instead, this book took me on a faith journey. It challenged my level of surrender to God, It made me re-evaluate just how serious I took my relationship with Him, and so much more.
I have more highlighted phrases, underlined verses, and prayers in this book than any of my other reviews. God used this book to get me face-to-face with Him and His calling on my life! I was reminded that He will take care of every single detail! When He gives you a promise, command, or calling He will provide all of the details that go along with it!

I cannot say enough good things about this book! Even if you or anyone in your family doesn't have dyslexia, this book still is a gem that you need to read! You will see a level of faith in Sarah that will challenge you and cause you to believe deeper, and desire to grow more in your relationship with God.
There is humor there too! Stories of her and her children that will make you laugh, and wonder how she does it all!

Get your copy today!  You can get it on Amazon.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dyslexia? Seriously!?!

In this journey that we homeschool moms take there are some major ups and downs. We spend countless hours praying for our children, planning learning activities, and researching the best way to teach ______. Just when we think that we have it all figured out, we get a curve ball. Things change. What was working doesn't anymore and what worked with the first child never works with the next!  This is the curve ball that we received recently:

Mr. Popper was struggling with reading last December. He had completed a complete 1st grade curriculum already and wasn't retaining any of the sight words or phonics. I was desperate! I searched and searched for anything that might help me to help him. I needed something affordable that actually would work. I found My Father's World curriculum. Let me just say that I love it! It did help in getting Popper a little further with his reading, but he was still struggling. I was at my wits end!
I called my friend, Heather. She has been homeschooling her 4 children for years. I figured that she might have some advice as to what I was missing . I poured my heart out. I told her about all of our struggles lately and how defeated Popper and I both felt. I was beginning to think that homechooling just wasn't for us. That may be public school would be a better fit.
She listened to my verbal vent. Then she asked me if Popper had ever been tested for dyslexia. Of course not! He can read, he just has trouble with sight words and some of the phonics rules. Heather went on to explain to me that dyslexia isn't a 'he can't read' thing, it's a right-brain/left-brain thing.

So, I did what any mom in my shoes would do, I googled it! I went searching, digging, absorbing everything I could about what dyslexia is and how to identify it in children and adults. Much to my surprise, I learned, through testing, that my sweet Mr.Popper was dealing with dyslexia. I felt relieved that we finally had answers and yet somehow very irritated at myself. How could I have missed this? I was with my child all the time. I was learning right along side him. How could I  let him struggle as long as I had and not realized?

After some prayer time and serious conversations with both Daddy T and Heather, I came to a peace that at least we know now. Now what?

Heather introduced me to this amazing curriculum: Dyslexia Games!  This has been our life saver! I immediately created a wish list of all the items that I would love to have. With it being the middle of the year, I knew that I didn't have the budget to buy all new curriculum just yet. I decided to pray about it and wait. Little did I know, God was about to answer that prayer in a mighty way!

Sarah is the women who created Dyslexia Games. She has an amazing story that she writes about in "Life, Love and Dyslexia: Sarah's Journal," which I will be reviewing next week. She was seeking people who's children have dyslexia and who would be willing to review some of her products and blog about it! OOOOH!!! PICK ME!!! I was stoked! I contacted her immediately! Just like that God reminded me that there is no prayer too small or silly. That if something is important to me it is important to Him.

We started using the curriculum this week! I am so excited to see my sweet Popper excited about learning again! I look forward to all the rave reviews that I will get to post for you guys!!!