Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Manhood Journey (A Homeschool Crew Review)

Every Friday, Josiah and The Muffin go off on an adventure together. They call it “Dad’s Day Out.” Out of politeness they have offered to take me along, but unless they plan on spending 2 hours at Hobby Lobby I politely shake my head no. I relish my quiet time, but mostly it does my heart good to see my two guys carving out a time just for themselves. You can understand how excited I was to review Manhood Journey Father’s Starter Kit from Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio.




Manhood Journey is a Bible-based study for fathers and sons.  It is non-denominational and is intended to grow young men through discipleship. It can be used in small groups at church which is especially great for young men who do not have a father who plays an active Spiritual role in their lives. The study is recommended for ages 8-17.

The Starter Kit that I received contains the following:

·        Embarking Group Discussion Guide
·        Embarking 1 on 1 Discussion Guide
·        DVD of the introductory videos
·        10 Maprochures
·        Free Bonus book: Wise Guys: Unlocking Hidden Wisdom from the Men Around You, by Kent Evans (Manhood Journey Co-Founder)
The program is divided into six sessions:
Week 1: Preparing for the Journey
Week 2: Setting Out on the Journey
Week 3: Relying on the Compass
Week 4: Seeking Guidance Along the Way
Week 5: Encountering Others Along the Journey
Week 6: We Have Embarked – Where to Next?
Each session contains scripture readings and discussion questions.
The sessions start with “a word to dad.” There is plenty of information in each session to encourage discussion. There is even weekly homework! For example, one week dad are encourage to take their sons out to eat. They are given questions to ask during the meal.

One of them is:

Do you completely trust God with your future and your prosperity?

This question is hard for many of us to answer!

The study is based around learning the “Five Big Rocks.”

A GODLY MAN

1.     Trusts God
2.     Knows His Word
3.     Prays Fervently
4.     Builds Relationships
5.     Serves Others

Aren’t those awesome things for our boys to learn?


 photo COH_Horiz_Logo_CMYK_zpstbwi5z8u.png


 When we first received the box of goodies my pastor husband eagerly looked through everything and was immediately impressed.

Here are some of his thoughts.

This study is well-done. The “Five Big Rocks” are vital for any Christian man.  I really like all the Scripture that is used in every session. This is an exciting product for any home and/or church. The materials are professionally made and I would be confident recommending Manhood Journey to anyone.

The Muffin liked it so much that he is considering using it with a group of young men we have at church. I personally love to see my husband and son so engaged with each other. I love that they are discussing the big things in life and I can see my son growing in so many ways.


You can connect with City on a Hill Studio and Manhood Journey via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 

Manhood Journey
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/manhoodjourney 
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/manhoodjourney  @manhoodjourney

City on a Hill
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/FollowCityOnAHill 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/COAHStudio 



Manhood Journey Father's Starter Kit {Manhood Journey & City on a Hill Studio Reviews}


Crew Disclaimer

Monday, March 27, 2017

Weight Loss Fail

This post was sooo hard to write.

In fact, I have written it a few times in my head before deciding that perhaps I didn't need to write it at all.

Make sense?

I feel like I have failed. I'm ashamed of myself.

I've told you before that one of my best coping mechanisms is that I am able to ignore unpleasantness around me if need be. I have a "happy place" and I'm not afraid to use it.

Unfortunately, that ability to block out the nasties also makes me more likely to not confront certain things in my life that need confronting.

The "nasty" in my life for sometime has been my weight.

A few years ago, I lost almost 80 pounds.

80 pounds.

I had the world in my pocket and this sense that I had finally figured out the secrets of the universe.

Then I had a 6 month long plateau. This is not uncommon in an extreme weight loss journey. I switched up my diet and exercise routine.

And then I gained a few pounds back. I didn't sweat it because I had just started taking a hormonal supplement for irregular cycles.

And I gained a few more pounds. I didn't sweat it because my clothes still fit.

After all, I'd get this under control. I talked to the doctor about my suspicions that my thyroid medication was not as effective. But...my levels were hunky dorry and there wasn't any need to change my medication.

I gained some more weight.And slowly started to cover my eyes. I didn't have the energy to think about it. We are preparing for a huge change in our lives. A move. A change in ministry and position.

When we finally got to Indiana my health took a serious nose dive.

And at my initial doctors visit here in my new state I was forced to confront my reality.

My clothes didn't fit because I had gained most of the weight back.

My blood sugars were frighteningly high and uncontrolled.

My blood pressure was at stroke level.

I was puffy, swollen, fatigued and sick.

For whatever reason I was back to a place I never...ever...wanted to venture again.

I do have a few take-a-ways from my current situation.

I HAVE to be my own advocate and my biggest cheerleader.

I HAVE to move...even when I don't feel like my body can handle it.

I HAVE to take control of what I put in my body. Nobody is going to do it for me.

So this is where I am now. I have a plan and I'm sticking to it.

I am slowly adding more activity back into my day. If you deal with chronic illness you understand how difficult this is at times.

A dear friend from church and I are going to start taking water aerobic classes at the local high school a few times a week. I know from past experience how beneficial the water is for me.

I can't even begin to tell you what a blessing this is.

The Muffin and Josiah are going to take turns walking with me. Walking is generally not as beneficial for me because I have a hard time handling longer distances. It puts more stress on my joints. However, it is a "step" in the right direction.

You do see that I made a funny right there.

The doctors have already placed me on a low sodium and low carb diet. I have taken it a step further by eliminating some things that might be causing increased inflammation and insulin levels.

I'll share as I go. It's hard but I've been through worse.

There is part of me that is still just a tad rebellious.

Why can't I be like other people and eat a french fry every once in a while without it making me swell up like a toad?

Why isn't there just a magic pill/easy cure that I can implement? Why does this have to be SO STINKIN' HARD?

I have a few ideas on this which I will try and share as my journey continues.

But here is where you come in.

You are my accountability partners. I have be forthcoming in my struggles. My tendency is to brew a cup of tea and grab a book when things get tough....which is still a perfectly healthy thing to do.

Don't feel like you have to comment or even read every post I write on weight loss. I just need this public platform to keep myself accountable.

I have found I tend to only want to talk about weight loss when I am succeeding. It's much harder to admit you have failed.

So that's enough right now. I've laid it all out there.

It's time to go take a little walk.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Bessie's Pillow (A Homeschool Review Crew)

I love a good biography. Call me nosy. I can take it. And when you combine another favorite book genre by way of the historical non-fictional novel you have me for life. I knew immediately that I NEEDED to be on the review list for Bessie’s Pillow published by Strong Learning, Inc.



Bessie's Pillow

There aren’t very many of us living in the United States who don’t have immigrant ancestors. Of course, immigration has been front and center in our current news cycle as of late. I am not going to talk about any of those kinds of issues (thank goodness). For myself, I know that I have family that immigrated from Ireland, France and England. There is a little bit of this and that sprinkled in and even some of my folks who were here before the Europeans made landfall.

I have always been interested in those journeys to the New World and wondered what kinds of things could compel a family or individual to leave all they loved and knew to sail across the ocean to an unknown world.

Before I tell you a little bit about Bessie’s Pillow I need to say this.

I LOVED THIS BOOK!

This is the kind of book that answers all those questions. It places the reader in the shoes of a 19-year-old Jewish girl and her journey to New York City in 1906. She lives in Lithuania, which at the time is part of the Russian Empire. It is placed within the Pale of Settlement.

If you are a student of history you understand the significance of being Jewish in the Pale of the Settlement. Jews in 1906 Russia were treated despicably. Young Jewish men were conscripted into the Russian army and often sent to the “front” of the front lines.

Bessie’s family sends her alone across the Atlantic for a better life…away from the troubles of her homeland.

We follow Bessie has she arrives at Ellis Island, makes a new life for herself and finds love. Her story doesn’t stop at the Happy Ever After. She suffers devastating losses and becomes a woman of independent means.

It was written by Bessie’s granddaughter, Linda Bress Silbert. Linda’s mother (Bessie’s daughter) had the presence of mind who record her mother’s conversations and stories. I sure wish I had had done the same with the stories of my grandmother and great-grandmother. What they could have told me!

Now that I’ve peaked your interest I have some more awesomeness to throw your way. 

Bessiepillow.com is filled with great resources for a study of life and immigration in the early of 1900’s. There is a Teacher’s Tab which houses a 16 page PDF Teacher’s Guide with suggestions on how to use Bessie’s pillow in the classroom.  We are given a list of silent movies that Bessie might have seen, given instructions for making a Peach Melba and how healthcare compared to our modern medical practices.

On a side note: Some of this story hit home. I have been in treatment for cardiomyopathy for nearly 20 years. Part of my health history has involved extremely high blood pressure. In fact, not 2 months ago I had a medical crisis that required visits to the hospital, massive doses of blood pressure medication and constant monitoring of my blood pressure. I was sad to hear that Bessie suffered from small strokes and eventually died in 1950 because she did not have the advantages I do of modern medicine.

The book is written for with high school students and adults in mind. I knew that when I requested this review that there might be a chance that I read it by myself. Josiah’s birth father was an immigrant. I know that one of these days this is going to be a great resource for us to discuss. I know from having brief discussions with this young man years ago that immigration has greatly changed in many respects. However, there is still the strangeness and adjustment when one comes to a strange new world. 

This book does just a beautiful job of drawing you into Bessie's world. We care about her. We laugh and cry with her. I can't recommend it enough.

You can read more about Bessie via the book’s website (bessiespillow.com) or the following social media sites. Don’t forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews.


Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BessiesPillow
Twitter: https://twitter.com/BessiesPillow @BessiesPillow

Bessie's Pillow {Strong Learning, Inc. Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Creating a Masterpiece (A Homeschool Crew Review)

We do enjoy an art project now and again at our house.  In fact, it’s one of MY favorite subjects to do right along with Josiah.  I loved reviewing the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece.




Creating a Masterpiece offers not only a monthly subscription option, but an annual pass, as well. With the access you and your family has access to over 144 videos and art projects.

For this product you will need a computer with a reliable internet connection and a good set of speakers. There is also a whole list of art supplies that are required, but each project has an easy-to-find list.

The Artist, Sharon Hofer, works right along with students as they (we) create a unique masterpiece. Sharon is such a good teacher. She started Creating a Masterpiece because she wanted to extend her fine art school to those outside of her immediate area.

If you are a parent of a “little” (say 4 or 5) it is possible to use this product with ease. Each lesson is broken down into small, manageable assignments.

We were able to schedule several projects over several weeks and I am going to show you a few of those we completed. Some projects take a little bit longer than others.

This clown fish isn't the first project we did, but I think it was my favorite. 

This little fish was colored with COLORED PENCILS. Can you believe it? 


This is mine. This project, believe it or not, takes a few sessions. I do have some advice. We used our cheaper colored pencils as well as my favorite, more expensive, brand. The better quality of colored pencils did so much better. Still...it was So. Much. Fun!



The next project I am going to show you is the first piece we worked on. This one is entitled African Sunset.  I don't want to give much away, but we got to play with straws during this project.


Here is Josiah's project.



This is one intense artist! 



This is such a neat product. I found every lesson thorough, easy to follow and so much fun. There are several levels of difficulty and I think certainly appropriate for a variety of ages. Sharon is a joy to watch and I found her very easy to follow. 

There is a FREE lesson available on the Creating a Masterpiece site. You can check it out for yourself. I know you will be as impressed as I am. 

You can connect with Creating a Masterpiece via the following social media sites. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. 



Creating Beautiful Art at Home {Creating A Masterpiece Reviews}
Crew Disclaimer

Splish Splash (You need to be taking a bath)

Before I tell you all I think I know, I do need to disclose just a few pieces of information. I am not a medical professional though I did take Anatomy and Physiology I in college. I DID, however, go to Beauty School which MIGHT give me a little bit of advantage in the beauty and skin care department.  I CAN boast of a tried and true history of successful and satisfying bathing. 





I received this picture a few weeks ago.




It is a picture of my parent’s almost completed master bath.

They have been remodeled their nearly 100-year-old farm house for nearly 100 years.

Pretty much.

This large master bath wasn’t at the top of the remodeling priority list.

I take that back. My Dad did install the toilet fairly early in the project.

He also purchased a large whirlpool tub.

And then promptly set it on top of the large box he had created for it.

That whirlpool tub has stored air mattresses, extra blankets, Christmas presents, the occasional jigsaw and stacks of National Geographic magazines.

Occasionally, one of us would hint (very loudly) about our fondness for a good tub soak. Or the need to feel the whirlpool jets across our weary bones.

Dad (who apparently doesn’t care for my weary bones) would simply nod his head.

Until now.

Now that I live over 8 hours away.

My mom told me that when it first was installed everybody had to have a turn in the whirlpool tub.

It was like Christmas came a little early (or late) to the farm on Raccoon Road.

The tub installation is significant primarily because of what Momma instilled into us at an early age.

If you are cold, put on more socks.

If you are hungry, go make yourself something to eat.

If you want to rest easy at night, be kind to those around you…no matter how much they hurt you.

If you are bored, better go find something to do because there is always a chore to be done.

If you are:
Sad,
Achy,
Sick,
Tired,
Depressed,
Angry,
Or weary…
Go take a hot bath and fix yourself a cup of hot tea.

And if you are really sick, Momma will run the bath and fix you a cup of tea herself.

This “cure for all that ails ya” has stuck with me all my life.

When I was younger I didn’t fully appreciate the restorative benefits that a hot bath and a cup of tea would provide.

Our modern generation prefers the shower. Some houses or apartments are only built with showers. I’m not knocking the practicing of showering or bathing in general.

Personal hygiene is definitely encouraged in our home. Teenage boys can get ripe!

However, there are therapeutic benefits to a tub soak that can’t be disputed. A good soak in the tub might just be one of the cheapest natural medical treatments out there!
1.    Hot baths can be beneficial with those with arthritis. A bath helps promote the flow of endorphins.
2.    It can improve the heart’s circulation.
3.    It can increase endorphin levels. For those of us who suffer with seasonal depression and anxiety this is so beneficial!
4.    It can help improve your immune system. A hot bath increases circulation of the lymph system and accelerates the body’s natural healing process.
5.    When you are having trouble sleeping, a hot bath help with insomnia.
6.    It helps keep skin smooth and supple.
7.    If you are like me and suffer with arthritis, a hot bath can provide relief and soothe muscle and joint pain.

Now that I’ve given you just a few good reasons to languish in the tub, I want to impart a bit of “bath-taking” wisdom upon you.



Such as it is.

I make sure that I soak at least 10-20 minutes….even if I have to heat my water up a time or two. This allows for all the pores to open up and any benefit I might need to take effect.

Epsom salts and other bath “add-ins” have become my secret weapons. I can’t even begin to tell you how much including these minerals or essential oils has changed my life.

Dr. Axe has several great articles on “make it yourself” bath cocktail. Just go to his website and type “bath” in the search box. There is everything from Epsom salts to oatmeal. For years, I also added baking soda to my bath.

My current favorite bath “add-ins” are the Dr. Teal’s Epsom Salts. There are lots of varieties and I think I’ve tried about all of them.

Presently, I am loving this Energizing blend featuring Ginger and Clay.

It makes me happy.

Another favorite is the Peppermint Foot Soak. I don’t just use it for soaking feet. I like to add a lavender essential oil when I use this one, as well.

There are other household ingredients that you can add to a bath for healthy benefits, as well.

I just read that adding a couple of cups of vinegar to a warm bath can help a yeast infection. My mom used baking soda in our baths back in the day from time to time.  I, myself, always had some sort of rash going on…be it from a food allergy or dry skin. Adding baking soda to a bath helps soothe dry skin, eczema and hives.

From time to time I bring my music into the bathroom, but mostly I relish the quiet. Sometimes I grab a paperback book (I’m awfully careful with my Kindle) or I just sit and let my mind drift and wander.

The after bath routine is also an important one. Because frequent bathing can dry out one’s skin, I make sure I moisturize right after patting myself down with a clean towel. A natural oil like coconut oil is safe and effective.

 I want to try and post (from time to time) more of my favorite self-care ideas. We need to be taking better care of ourselves!


So tell me. Do you enjoy a good hot bath? 


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Celebrating Manhood (A Homeschool Crew Review)

I recently had the opportunity to review an interesting product. It’s an ebook called Celebrating Manhood: a rite of passage guide from the Home School Adventure Co. If you are the momma of boys I think it’s worth reading on.


2001 was one of the most devastating, yet exhilarating years of my life. I became pregnant with my first child after nearly 10 years of infertility. Sadly, I lost that first, precious baby at only 8 weeks. If you follow my blog any, you know that just a few months after that heartbreaking event we became parents to a beautiful baby boy born to another momma.  My mourning “turned to dancing.”



That baby is now 15 and he is our joy. He’s grown up so fast! That chubby baby now has whiskers on his lip and a low baritone voice. (not to mention a fondness for crazy selfies!)




Celebrating Manhood was written by Stacy Farrell.  When her firstborn son approached his 14th year, she went about creating an evening to celebrate his passage into manhood. The experience was so meaningful and significant that she created this guide to help other mothers do the same for their sons.

The ebook is divided into the following sections. 

Celebrating Manhood—our Story
A Blueprint
Invitation Template
The Question Cards
I Remember When
If Only I Had Known
What I Value and Respect
Welcome to the World of Men
About the Author

In each section, Stacy gives us step-by-step instructions about how to pull it all off. 

 Basically, the evening is a celebration of your brave and beautiful boy. You fix all his favorite things to eat. Then you invite the important men in his life. They surround your son with great advice, blessings and love. 

One of the intriguing parts of the evening (I think) is a question time. There are ready-to-print cards available to promote great conversation and good advice.

Here are a couple of the questions.

What is one thing you do that helps you overcome fear?

What is one of the most difficult things you have had to do?

Aren’t those good?


When I first looked over the guide, I immediately started planning Josiah’s special evening in my head.

I wanted to get started right away!
However, I took a step back and decide that I want to wait and plan it around his 16th birthday. I didn’t want to throw together an event merely for this review and some good photo experiences. I want Josiah to understand the significance and know how proud we are of him.


I already have a list of guys I want to invite. Josiah has been so blessed to have some pretty great guys in his life.  They take him fishing, out to breakfast, hiking…he has also helped with work projects and clean-up.  Josiah’s dad (The Muffin) is the real hero in Josiah’s life. He has shown Josiah what it is like to be a real man. He displays a sincere love for God and his family.

Stacy has truly come up with a meaningful experience. I encourage all of you with boys to grab this book. I can’t wait to bless Josiah with an evening to celebrate the man he is becoming.

I’ve done a review or two for the Home School Adventure Co. in the past. They are a company with an integrity and I am always impressed with their products.

You can connect with the Home School Adventure Co. via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner to read more reviews for other Home School Adventure Co. products. 



 Twitter:  https://twitter.com/HomeSchoolAdven  @HomeSchoolAdven
Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/HomeSchoolAdventureCo
Pinterest:  http://pinterest.com/homeschooladven/
Google+:  https://plus.google.com/b/115241518288669984312/+Homeschooladventure
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/HomeSchoolAdventure


Resources with a Biblical Worldview{Home School Adventure Co. Reviews}


Crew Disclaimer

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Undocumented (for reals)

Yesterday morning I had a melt down.

In a bank.

In public.

I couldn't help myself.

You see, I am currently an undocumented citizen of the United States of America.

Shhhh. Don't tell anybody.

It begin a few months ago when the Indiana BMV (DMV in  my ancestral home of Missouri) declared that my marriage license was not an "official" marriage license and I needed to send off for a new one.

I am pretty sure I am legally married. However, they wanted some kind of seal on my pretty marriage license.

What.Ever.

At the time, I was at the Indiana DMV  BMV is get my Indiana Driver's License. I brought in the necessary paperwork/documents and even had to take a "knowledge" test to prove that I know the difference between a stop sign and a yield sign.

I took the test and after finding out I needed more information/an official marriage license I tucked all of my necessary paperwork/documents into a file folder to be worked on later in the week.

And then I started feeling reaaally bad. My blood pressure shot up to stroke level (I'm blaming it on the Indiana DMV BMV) and I set aside that whole driver's license business.

And then.

I couldn't find that handy dandy file folder with all of my necessary paperwork/documents in it.

My driver's license.

My social security card.

My pretty (un)official marriage license.

AND my birth certificate.

I couldn't just pop down to the courthouse to get a birth certificate reissued either.

I was born in Nicaragua in the early 70's. I have to get any copies of my birth certificate from the State Department.

I know this because the last time I needed a copy was in 2006. That copy has Condoleeza Rice's name on it.

True story.

So after doing doing some research on the whole gnarly process, I gathered the necessary documents and proceeded to find a notary public who could verify that I am who said I am.

Do you know that a notary public will not verify anyone's identification without a PHOTO ID?

Problem.

I DON'T HAVE A PHOTO ID! I threw it away with my social security card, marriage license and birth certificate.

And we come to my melt down at the bank.

My Poor Muffin. He was with me. I could tell he vacillated between feeling sorry for me and helpless and then feeling uncomfortable because I was crying in the bank lobby.

Eventually, we went to call on someone who had helped us with our health insurance when we first got into town. It was deemed that we would just do the best we could.

All of it rests now on The Muffin's word of honor. He has had to sign certain statements declaring that he can vouch for my existence.

Am I who I say I am?

Good. Grief.

I can't even get a library card in my new town.

You can't understand how devastating this is for me.

I am going to have to turn in my Nerd card now.

Unless I threw it away with the rest of my identification.





Saturday, March 4, 2017

Catching Up (chatting)

Hello my friends.

I think we are in store for a bit of sunshine today.

We had sunshine yesterday, too. While, Princess the Cat and I were too busy occupying a corner of the couch to get out and enjoy it, we did appreciate our view from the living room window.

Have I told you that we got a cat?

She is loverly.

She was given to us by a sweet family who had inherited a couple of dogs.

Princess was Not. Having. It.

She is a beautiful 7-year-old Siamese with lots of personality.

The first few days we had her she hid behind the washer. One evening she just showed up on The Muffin's lap. She decided that "we will do," after all.

Most importantly, she ADORES Josiah. A boy needs that kind of pet adoration in his life.

If you know anything about Siamese cats, you know that they can be kind of chatty. Princess is no exception. She makes it very clear when her bowl isn't filled to her satisfaction, the front window curtains aren't opened in the morning (she likes to look outside) and she is looking for her favorite toy.

You can tell we are in love.

In other news, my blood pressure is doing much better. Right now, I am still struggling with high blood sugar readings. Basically, I'm just exhausted.

It's always something.

But there is always hope and at least this little health crisis of mine has required me to refocus on some of my health goals that I've neglected.

I'm not meant to be one of those girls who can live a wild and crazy life. I have to stick to the straight and narrow.

Don't worry. I'm not speaking about any kind of crazy behavior other than late nights and french fries.

Sigh. I do love a french fry.

I have quite a few blog posts I'm working on. I know I have been not as active, but I'm getting there. This move has been more challenging than I anticipated. I need some syncopation in my life and I'm getting close to finding my groove.

I think it's so important to have little routines in one's life. Some of my favorite routines happen to involve hot tea and colored pencils.

I am working on those exercise and house cleaning routines. They aren't quite as fun. 😁


This morning, Princess the Cat and I are once again alone. The Muffin and Josiah are at the first of many Lent breakfasts in the community. They are quite the pair. Josiah loves to go and do these kinds of things with his dad.

After that, I have a list of chores for that boy to complete today. You know he LOVES it when I give him a list of chores. Chores take away valuable video gaming time.

That's it for today! Have a beautiful weekend and enjoy a french fry for me.




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