Friday, May 22, 2015

A Review: Motivate Your Child Action Plan!



One of the best parenting books I have had the opportunity to read has been Motivate Your Child by Scott Turansky and Joanne Miller.  I was blessed to be a part of the Launch Team for the book. When the chance came to be part of the Motivate Your Child Action Plan team I knew that it was something I had to be a part of.

Parenting is the toughest job I’ve ever had. It is also the most precious. Let’s be honest. None of us are singularly qualified for the job. We are parenting unique, living, breathing and complicated creatures. It is a far different experience than parenting the baby dolls of my youth.
 
 

The Motivation Your Child Action Plan is a 40 plan that helps you, as the parent, develop a parenting plan. It gives you tools to tackle school performance, disrespect, laziness, procrastination, sibling conflicts and more. It emphasizes the value of relationship and how to move forward with any age child.
 

The book also comes with a link to download 12 audio sessions with the authors.

One unique aspect of the plan is that you work with your child. For example, there is time and attention placed on having meetings with your child. The purpose of those meetings is to strategize with your child how to best work on those character issues. You make the child responsible for their actions and help them confront their behavior.
 

For example, in our house Josiah and I have talked about motivation concerning his school performance. He is dyslexic and I understand that some things are harder for him. However, we have talked about being engaged and committed. Josiah and I have been making a plan that includes those virtues.

 
The workbook was so helpful when it actually came down to practical ways to make this happen. Instead of me yelling and “monologuing” about the disaster of an unfulfilled life and a mediocre education, we have come up with more of a helpful system. Josiah now has a checklist that he is supposed to manage. This helps him manage his time and helps him measure his progress.


The beauty of the Action Plan is how much it emphasizes relationship and the leading of the Holy Spirit. I like this little passage.

Too many children are raised on simple behavior modification. That approach to life trains kids to think about themselves. When parents help their children practice faith, rely on the Holy Spirit, and pay attention to the prompting of the conscience, they’re contributing to the long-term maturity and the health of their kids.

This is truly what it is all about. I want to raise a son who has a heart after God. The authors understand that we can't use a "one-size-fits-all" approach to parenting. However, by building relationship and relying on the Holy Spirit we can go far. HIS Grace is sufficient.

The Action Plan can be used alone, but I recommend purchasing the book as well. They are both valuable tools to have.



I believe right now there is a special on the Motivation Your Child Action Plan.  Head on over to the National Center for Biblical Parenting to check it out. There are many other great resources as well.



Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A TOS Review: Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition

One of the special Christmas traditions Josiah and me enjoy when we share the holiday with my in-laws is going to the movies on Christmas day. This past Christmas was no exception. Playing at the theaters was a variety of family fare, including the movie Unbroken. I opted for a lighter choice that Christmas day. For one, I had never heard of the hero of the movie, Louis Zamperini, and I wasn't quite sure how intense the picture would be.

Over the next few months, I heard just a little more about this fascinating man. When I was given the opportunity to review the Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition on DVD from FishFlix.com, I knew that this was something my family needed to see.

fishflix.com


In regards to the movie, Unbroken, I was curious to see how Hollywood would handle a movie involving Faith. My town of Springfield, Missouri boasts one of it's hometown boys as Brad Pitt. The movie's producer, Angelina Jolie, doesn't profess to be a Christian nor does Brad. However, Brad's parents and family are people of strong faith. Would they make light of the spiritual aspects of Mr. Zamperini's story?

More on my thoughts in a minute, but I have to say I am so pleased I received the whole package from FishFlix.com. If you have seen Unbroken or are curious about viewing it I can't recommend enough getting the Legacy of Faith Edition. You won't help but be moved.

Louis Zamperini, himself, is a fascinating character. He was an Olympic athlete in the 1936 Berlin games. He even met Adolf Hitler (he talks of his handshake of being 'limp). He was in WWII and during a routine rescue mission his plane went down in the vast Pacific Ocean. It killed 8 of the 11 crew members on board. He and his fellow survivors drifted for 47 days. They survived sharks, a Japanese bomber and savage conditions. He was "rescued" by the Japanese Navy and taken prisoner. It was a nightmarish experience.

When he was finally rescued after the war, Mr. Zamperini married. He battled PTSD and woke up one night strangling his wife. One fateful night, Mr. Zamperini's life and heart was changed forever. He was saved at a Billy Graham crusade. He eventually met with most of the Japanese guards who had tortured him and forgave them.

The movie, Unbroken, deals  with Mr. Zamperini's life before conversion....his troubled childhood, his Olympic experience and his trails during WWII. Many were disappointed that the movie didn't highlight his conversion experience. I recognize that Hollywood isn't going to understand how significant this was. They simply cannot see. I do appreciate that they at least highlighted one specific promise Louis made to God during a harrowing moment. It was an intense movie. There weren't very many light moments. I felt that if my 13-year-old son can view an action/adventure movie about Middle Earth he can certainly see a man's story of trial and hardship. If you have young ones I don't recommend the movie just yet. They need to be fairly mature.

In addition to the movie, we were so blessed to have that additional 90 minute DVD that tells the rest of Mr. Zamperini's story.


~Coming Full Circle---Louie’s Exclusive CBN Interview
~Louie & Laurie---Pastor Greg Laurie Interviews Louie Zamperini
~Captured By Grace---The Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Louie Zamperini Gives An Inspirational Message Of Faith
~Angelina & Louie---Angelina Jolie Talks With Louie About The Faith That Sustained Him

We watched every minute. I can't express enough how much this man's testimony touched me. He was witty and sharp as a tack. But more importantly you can sense his heart. I am so glad I got to share this with my son.

fishflix.com


I wasn't familiar with FishFlix before this review. They are an online retailer for Christian and Inspirational movies. This is a fantastic resource for Christians! They have done a super job with the whole package. Not only that, I just spied one of my favorite new series on their website. It's going on my wishlist for sure!

You can connect with FishFlix via the following social media outlets. Click on the banner to read more reviews. Some of the Crew Members reviewed other films, as well.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fishflix
Twitter: https://twitter.com/christiandvd
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/fishflix/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/+Fishflix/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/familychristianmovie











FishFlix.com Review

Somebody just knock me out...

So this isn't the most thought out blog post I've ever written. I'm literally sitting on my couch right now inhaling my cup of coffee before heading back into the fray. I am in mad dash to clean my house.

It's all my computer's fault. Or it could be my crazy, busy, crazy, busy schedule over the past few week. Or it could be that I'm just not on my "A" game.

But then again...My "A" game is usually less than inspired.

For the past few weeks, I have been preparing my niece for her High School Graduation. Actually, I had nothing to do with the graduation itself (other than my opinion on what she should wear). I threw her a Graduation Tea Party....complete with scones, chicken salad sandwiches and real china. I had help, of course (namely, my brother and sis-in-law paid for all of it!) and my Momma lent me her expertise, petit four dipping skills and half of the butter in her freezer. Not to mention my Dad. He picked his prize peonies. They were gorgeous and really made the party. I promise pictures as soon as I can get them from the other people who took them. It was loverly.

And as I explained a few weeks ago, I managed drop my laptop in the parking lot. My parents are literally these weird computer whisperers and I took it them for repair. I have it back now and other loosing everything on it and this strange black shadow in the right hand corner it has been fine.

Except.

It doesn't know that today is May 20. It told me that it is May 19.

Which is why I am cleaning like a mad woman.

May 20th is the day that the Pest Control guy comes for our quarterly bug inspection.

Can I tell you that my house is not bug inspection ready?  This could be because I have piles of muffin tins, tea servers and odd bags of tissue paper in about every corner of my house.

Up until last night I still had boxes and bags of tea bags strewn from one end of my living room to the other.

When I plan a party everything is involved.

I thought I still had a day to empty the ice cooler of strange and obviously used petit four containers, but no. While whipping up a batch of biscuits this morning I thought, "How can today be the 19th?"

It's good to know something in my brain works.

I am still dreaming about wrapping skewers with tiny tags of washi tape. My body hurts all over and more than once I've found myself staring off into the distance.

My poor long-suffering husband.  For weeks he has been sharing me with a tea party.

I suppose the bug inspection is a blessing in disguise. I might have draped my favorite chenille bedspread over the mess on my table until my sister-in-law comes to visit in June...or until I start crafting for our Annual Cousin Camp.

Oh yes,  my friends. It is approaching.

Maybe I should put that tissue paper back where I can find it again.









Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A TOS Review: Westward Ho! (I & II)

Unit Studies have to be one of my favorite approaches to homeschool. This might hark back to my early childhood teaching days. I had an apple unit I would drag out in September. A pumpkin unit that would appear in October. Other themes might include transportation, inventors and the solar system.  That kind of immersion thematic learning just makes sense. I have found that my "hands on learner" thrives with Unit Studies, as well.

However, the challenge of Unit Studies is often the preparation. When one is the chief cook, laundress, maid and head teacher there aren't as many hours in the day. I was really excited to get to review two unit studies - Westward Ho I(5 week) & Westward Ho II (4 week) from Homeschool Legacy.

http://homeschoollegacy.com/


Homeschool Legacy was started by veteran homeschool Mom, Sharon Gibson. She developed the Once-a-Week-Unit Study. All of the Unit Studies are no prep, Biblically centered and can be incorporated into your current core curriculum. I'll explain a little more about this approach in a minute. The Unit Studies also help those in Boy Scouts and American Heritage Girls programs with earning badges. The Unit Studies cover a variety of topics and subjects and can be used with the whole family...from grades 2-12. Though I think the littles can get involved too ;<) By the way, I encourage you to check out Sharon's article on planning a staycation. I've been inspired !
 
 
Each study includes Bible study, literature, language activities, history and geography, arts & crafts and so much more! There are even field trip suggestions, family movie night ideas and something called "Stump Your Dad Trivia."
 
 
My first choices for review were Westward Ho I and Westward Ho II. We love history and both studies fit into where we are in our studies right now. I'll talk a little bit about each of them. I didn't get an opportunity to review all of the weeks, but we did have a lot of fun with what we did do.

 
 
Westward Ho I is a 5-week study.  It follows a unique, but easy approach. Simply work through your core curriculum four days a week (including reading materials based on your Unit Study). On one day of the week work through the Unit Study activities. For example, Monday, Tuesday,Thursday and Friday you work on reading, writing and 'rithmetic. We still did our math, spelling and writing programs and English. On Wednesday you dive into your Unit Study.

The most prep work I did was to order books from the library and gather a few supplies now and then. Even ordering the library books was made easier. We were given call numbers...just in case the books suggested weren't available we could use books within that same subject of books.

Frontiersmen (Week 1)
This week had us reading tall tales. We even wrote one of our own. We read about Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone. We also learned about the Northwest Ordinance. Our family read aloud for this week was The Sign of the Beaver. I found a audio book and we listened everywhere we went. The family movie night movie suggested was a movie about Davy Crockett. Unfortunately, someone else had it checked out at the time and instead we watched the movie version of The Sign of the Beaver.

Pioneer Life (Week 2)
I have an awful confession. I have only tried to read parts of the Little House books to Josiah. He just wasn't focused enough when he was younger. This time I started with the audio book version of Little House on the Prairie. I am so glad I was encouraged to try again. These were some of my favorite books when I was younger. Josiah enjoyed it so much and we have been listening to all of them since. This week had us also making Johnny Cakes. The family movie night suggestions was Love Come Softly. I have all of those movies in my private collection. It was really a fun week overall.

Here are pics of one of Josiah's Johnny Cake making sessions. My camera was down for the count the first time he made them. This is round 2.


Such concentration. I told him that is what Ma and Pa ate from The Little House books. If Pa  eats them...


He probably didn't get enough oil in the pan. Some of the Johnny Cakes were more like "Johnny Mush."


It was tasty.



Lone Star Republic (Week 3)
This week has us reading about Sam Houston and learning all about the Alamamo. We learn about writing a news story and even learned how to become a naturalized citizen in the United States.

The Life and Times of James K. Polk (week 4)
This week talks about the expansion of the United States. We learn about Manifest Destiny and Morse Code. How fun! This week even has us designing our own postage stamp!

Oregon Fever! (week 5)
Have you ever read up on the Donner Party? Pioneers heading west encountered all manner of hardships. We even get to figure up how long it takes us to get from Independence, Missouri to Oregon. We are also encouraged to play the Oregon Trail computer game. Remember that one?



 
Westward Ho II is a continuation of our adventures westward.  
 
The Gold Rush (week 1)
This week has us learning all about those '49ers, as well as early gold discoveries. The family devotion talks about Greed and choosing wisely. We also get to learn how a territory becomes a state and how to make a business plan.


Life on the Prairie (week 2)
We loved, loved this week. We got to read about the Pony Express and what living on the prairie was like. There is even a recipe for edible soddies. We chose to make the virtual soddy. The edible soddy is made out of brownies. Josiah would be all about it...I can't have chocolate in my house at this point. I would just eat it.

We loved reading about the Pony Express books so much that we shared them with our little Reading Club and used them for another project. This is the poster created by one young man.




The Great American Railroad Race (week 3)
This was another great week (what am I saying? They are all great!) We get to learn about America the Beautiful and how a steam engine works. I loved both of the Family Movie options so much we watched both of them!


Cowboys  and Cattle Drives (week 4)
So much fun! Who doesn't a good cowboy story? This week even has us designing our own brand! And is anybody up for a rodeo?

Here are few things in my head.



1. I loved all of the options for movies, documentaries and books. We don't have to read everything on the list, but I tried to make sure I reserved my books ahead of time. We also have Netflix and Amazon Prime. I didn't find everything I needed there, but they at least gave me some options.

2. I also love, love the idea of using one day to immerse the family in the study. We would read our books, etc. throughout the week. I also assigned a documentary during the week. For the purpose of this review, I did have to schedule some of our activities on additional days, but I can totally see how this approach could work for us.

3. The Unit Studies come via a PDF download. I did copy a few things out. I liked having the digital book open because there are some really great links to follow. The author is so thorough. You can tell she did her homework.



4. The devotions were excellent. I loved looking at history through a Biblical lense.
I can't recommend Homeschool Legacy and the Once-A-Week Unit Studies enough. They are so creative, detailed and easy to use. I am planning on purchasing one of the nature based units for our summer study. Go check out the whole list for yourself!



You can connect with Homeschool Legacy via the following social media outlets. Click on the banner  below to read more reviews.


Homeschool Legacy Review

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A TOS Review: S is for Smiling Sunrise



We just had the opportunity to review a charming little children's book called S is for Smiling Sunrise by Vick Wadhwa of WordsBright.

I, of course, am not the mother of a young child. My son's voice recently changed and he has some start of a moustache going on. However, I teach a reading class every Thursday morning and I knew that this would be a great book for the littles in our group.

I also took a little bit of a different approach. I let the bigger guys read to the little guys. It was great practice for them and I'm sure they felt really important.



This is Josiah's friend, Corey. Corey doesn't not have a moustache.

The book itself is bright and colorful.  This one was Josiah's favorite page. Surprise. Surprise. He is my swim team guy, after all. All of the artwork is cheery and eye-catching.


This collection of inspirational ABC poems was written by a father for his young daughter. The intended ages are 3 and up, but I think a whole host of readers and listeners will enjoy the book. The rhymes are sweet and encouraging.

If you look really close at Josiah's lip the stache is there.


I must tell you that Josiah is dyslexic and he felt so encouraged being able to read the book to his little friends.

I do have a funny little story.  One of the older boys was reading the "T" page, which stands for "Tasty"(healthy food). When our littlest guy who is four initially saw the page he yelled,"T is for Old Lady!" The illustration was of a cartoon girl eating. My apologies to whoever was the model for that particular drawing.

Along with book, I received a download of the book in song. It is a catchy little tune and I believe it is available as a free resource on the WordsBright website. Another free resource are the Teacher's Guides. They give suggestions for activities for Preschoolers and Grades K-3. There were many great ideas. There is a also a beautiful poster Words poster for download, as well.




Being a former early childhood teacher myself, I felt that the suggestions were engaging and lots of fun!

For our activity on this day, the kiddos talked about Rainbows. We have had some stormy weather here in the Ozarks lately. Rainbows have been plentiful and they were inspired to draw and color their own Rainbow.



I think this is a sweet, little book and our kids loved reading through it. I really love that the author  offers the free resources. I have been teaching reading classes for some time now. I'm glad to have it as part of my teaching toolbox. I appreciate the positive note of the whole book. We found it delightful.

You can read other reviews by clicking the banner below and connect to WordsBright via Facebook.




Wordsbright Review

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On Mother's Day

We celebrated Mother's Day this past weekend. It was a busy weekend. Filled with family, food and rain. We are planning my niece, Kalynn's, graduation party there was seldom time for me to reflect about my journey to motherhood. In children's church on Sunday morning the lesson was about Joseph. We talked about his personal trials and how he always remained faithful to God and His promises. I talked to the kids a little about what it feels like when things don't look like they are going your way and how necessary it is to just stay focused on God.

I speak from personal experience. I wasn't sold into slavery by my siblings (though they might have been tempted to short sheet my bed). I wasn't falsely imprisoned. My struggles have been different.

For those of you who have ever spent a Mother's Day in silent pain I understand. You can read about my experiences starting here.

Saturday night (as we were making up food for Kalynn's party) we listened to some 80's music. I took Josiah for a short twirl around the kitchen. He is almost as tall as me now. His voice has changed and he has some kind of mustache growing on his upper lip.

He's still my baby. I don't take my blessing for granted.


A TOS Review: Successful Homeschooling Made Easy



I love a good “how to” manual.  This must not be confused with an “owner’s manual.” I always get one of those strange intrinsic urges to set an owner’s manual aside and tackle my appliance/building project/other doo-dad without having a clue as in what I’m doing. Shew. Like that “owner’s manual” I must have somewhere about run-on sentences.

The “how-to” manual is an entirely different animal. It sets a goal in front of the reader and step-by-step it guides the reader towards that goal. I find the older I get I need a little bit of hand holding. I don’t know as much as I once did.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been blessed to review the Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Course by Stephanie Walmsley from Successful Homeschooling Made Easy. This course assists homeschoolers  step-by-step into the whole homeschooling world through encouragement and helpful information.

Stephanie Walmsley is a Christian wife, mother and grandmother. She also has a background in teaching. She shares all of that experience, as well as her understanding as a homeschooler  into this course (you can read more about her homeschool story here).  The course is 26 weeks long. It covers everything from scheduling, organizing, choosing curriculum and even helps with housework.

The lessons come as a weekly subscription via PDF. Stephanie gives us practical guidance and an assignment weekly. There are practical schedule templates and places to add notes. Her suggestions and information is easily tweaked to fit anyone homeschool family’s particular needs or situation.

How it works...How I used it...What I think

I have homeschooled Josiah since he was in 1st grade. He’s in7th now so I’ve had a few years under my belt. I do have a background in education so what I brought to my  homeschool experience was a mixed bag of blessings.

My first few years of homeschooling were all over the place. I tried to cram so much into our short days. When it was discovered that Josiah was dyslexic I was left in a tizzy. I’ve slowly but surely settled into at least some peace of what needs to happen and I’m always quick to assure new homeschool families that it isn’t ever perfect. I’ve also reached a season in our homeschool that I need to reset some things.

  I felt that this course could not only be something that I could point fellow homeschoolers to as well as glean some wisdom for myself.  Already I have been able to review 9 week’s worth of lessons.  I received an email with the download link and saved the PDF document. It is recommended to print off each of the lessons and save them in a binder for easy access.


With some lessons I had more printer ink at the time so I was able to do that. Other lessons I have simple referred to on my computer. I have also sent the file to my Kindle.

For one, I found Stephanie’s tone to be very encouraging. Her assignments weren’t ones that left the reader overwhelmed. I found her advice to be very doable. She also encourages the participant to find what works for their own family. My needs as a homeschooler with an only son who struggles with some learning challenges is different for those who have many children.

From the very first lesson I was inspired. Lesson one begins with establishing a weekly schedule. For years I have struggled with this very thing. I am naturally a morning person. So is my son. However, my husband’s work schedule is a strange one. He works 4 days a week from 3:30pm-1:30am. Often our “family time” has to be in the morning. I have to get his supper reader before he leaves for work. Josiah often has morning activities. Stephanie encouraged me to embrace that afternoon school schedule. Now I have time in the morning to complete my household chores, errands and spend time with my family. This leaves our afternoons free for a school schedule that is seldom uninterrupted.

Stephanie also recommends establishing a Literacy Hour into the routine. And then a Numeracy Hour. Both of these were established in consecutive weeks. I think this is a fabulous idea for new homeschoolers or those who need to ease their way back from a summer break or long illness.

We are also encouraged to set goals for our homeschool . In Lesson 6 moms are encouraged to make self-care an important part of their routine. For me, this advice couldn’t come at a better time. I have been burning the candle at both ends. Contrary to popular belief, homeschool moms do not simple stay at home to eat cheetos, watch soap operas and craft. It is a tough job and I usually find myself stretched.

We are treated to a lesson of the history of home education. Along with this the different methods to homeschooling are outlined and we are given the assignment to decide which style fits our family the best. Although I have pretty much decided on a style we fit most easily into I was glad to see this included. Some homeschoolers simply stay in that traditional mode because that is all they know. There are so many wonderful ways to school.

In Lesson 8 we talk about socialization. This isn’t a “how –to” to get your kids more involved in activities. Instead Stephanie advices us to make the home the center of homeschooling. I found this to be valuable wisdom.  

So far, I have found this to be a very valuable course.  I have a very Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde approach to my organization. On one hand I am very project oriented. Give me an event to organize and I plan to the last toothpick. When it comes to my day-to-day life I am more a “fly by the seat of her stretchy pants” kind of girl. I have tried all manner of suggestion and programs only to disappoint myself. The mere suggestion that I could adjust my schedule to work for my family was revolutionary. I am anxious to see what else I will be able to glean from Successful Homeschool Made Easy.

You can connect with Stephanie via Facebook. Click on the banner below to read more reviews.












Successful Homeschooling Made Easy Review


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