Tuesday, January 17, 2012


I will be adding to these as the days go bye, but I thought maybe it would give some good ideas to others to post as I go! Not sure I am going to get 100 simple because I am going to try hard not to repeat my acts of kindness but try hard to be creative and think of new ways to show kindness.

Act 1: Pick up kids that live in a different town to bring to church/drop off (rotation for the year)
Act 2: Brought kids to zoo with friends, despite being exhausted, not wanting to go and having things I needed to get done. They had a blast
Act 3: Volunteered to be a Judge for the National Spelling Bee for all grades, even though only my 6th grader is participating.
Act 4:  Spent time with my neighbor and encouraged him when he got bad news about a pending court date.
Act 5:  Did not yell at my daughter when I really wanted to, instead I walked away till I calmed down
Act 6: Did not get upset with my son when he had yet another accident (really wanted to)
Act 7: Did not chew out and voice my opinion at the lady we breed-ed (?) our dog with. despite the fact that she did not give us pick of the litter as promised and sold the dog we wanted to keep. (VERY HARD)
Act 8: Shared the Gospel with Daughters friends and tried to answer all their questions
Act 9:  Prayed for an issue a friend is going through
Act 10: Held the door for a lady that was alone with a double side by side stroller and she could not get the door and her kids in at the same time.
Act 11: Volunteered to be an AWANA teacher when they have needed one for 4 months. Goodbye Tuesdays! But I confess I love it!
Act 12: Helped my daughter organize her menus for the month for her cooking class with a lady from church
Act 13: Slipped 30 sheets of  paper hearts that say “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week! Have a great day and remember Jesus loves you!” under the windshield wipers of parked cars.
Act 14:  Payed a compliment to my neighbor about his musical abilities
Act 15: Told my kids why I love them (almost used past tense ;)
Act 16:  bought coffee or the person behind me in line
Act 17: Payed for the meal of the person behind me in the drive-through
Act 18: Held the door at the post office for a lady walking up
Act 19: Played football for 4 hours with the neighbor kids
Act 20: Caved and took the kids and their dog on an hour walk, when I was exhausted.
Act 21: Let me kids have the TV to watch wrestling instead of watching my show
Act 22: Gave my daughter and extra day off school
Act 23: Offered to keep my daughters friends dog till they can find him a new home.
Act 24: Didn't yell at the car that cut me off, but let it go and waved instead
Act 25:Offered to help an elderly man with his groceries
Act 26:Intentionally said hello to every person I passed this morning and asked how their day was and waited for an answer.
Act 27: Withheld my snide comment when I REALLY wanted to give it
Act 28: Let someone cut in line in front of me at the grocery store
Act 29: Gave away my hockey tickets to a someone who otherwise would not get to go.
Act 30: Took  some of my kids friends to the zoo with us.
Act 31: Did not point out what my kids did not do today, but only focused on what they did do! (not as easy as it seems)
Act 32: Made breakfast for the kids for dinner, which they love
Act 33:  Put up my shopping cart instead of popping it in front of another car :(
Act 24: Sent cards to five random people in the phone book, just letting them know someone cares.
Act 25: Complimented a stranger
Act 26: Sent a thank you note to the employees at a Children s Hospital, for all that they do.
Act 27: donated some of my favorite books to the local library.
Act 28:Adopted another cat from a neighbor so she did not have to bring it to the pound when she lost her job and could not afford her. Now she can see her kitty anytime.
Act 29: spent extra time cuddling with my son, even though it made me late to work.
Act 30: let my daughter stay up late so we could spend some mommy/daughter time together.

OK let me stop right here! WOW, never thought this would be hard. I don't doubt that I do random acts of kindness everyday, just never thought of them as acts of kindness..Now that I am "documenting" it most of the things that I would write seem kinda petty actually. Not that they are not good things, more of how can people not simply do these things everyday without cause? I cannot think of going a whole day and not complimenting my kids on something they did great, or holding a door for someone, or offering to help someone that I can plainly see needs it. I am finding it difficult to jot down things I don't feel are "deep" acts of kindness is my problem. Then I think of Luke 6:35

"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil."

and Philippians 2: 1-4

 "So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy,  complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others"

And I realize that even the smallest act of kindness can make a huge impact on someones life. You never know what someone else is going through and the simplest of things can be the light they needed at that moment. Above all else we are called by GOD to treat others with kindness, compassion and love every day. So all the little acts of kindness I am thinking are not "good enough" to put down here, well, they are. Every act of kindness is important and demonstrates the love of God and you never know how that act of kindness is going to affect someone and how God is going to use t for His glory! So all that to say, after contemplating, I am perfectly OK with all my acts of kindness.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Difficulty with writing

Writing Getting too Hard to Handle?


Here are some ideas that have helped me:

Dictation: For younger elementary ages, I have the children dictate to me whatever they are to write about. I ask appropriate questions along the way, such as, "What happened next?" "Where were they?" "What time was it?" etc. I write or type it as they dictate, and then they read it back to me (or if very young, I would read it back to them). This not only freed up their minds to think (as they didn't have to worry about penmanship), but they also enjoyed doing it, increased their vocabulary, and were proud of their finished product. I still have them physically write, but I separate the writing process from penmanship or handwriting. Requiring both at a young age will tend to frustrate both of you. Hang on, moms, it does come to pass. I have a couple of college students who are very proficient writers now but were boys with many tears in the early years.

Handwriting: For penmanship/handwriting, we would copy Bible verses or complete a daily workbook page in manuscript or cursive writing. Right now, I am looking into Cursive First for my younger kids.

Five-Day Essay As the kids get older and it is not physically hard to write anymore, I would have them write or type their own assignments according to a "five-day essay" fashion. It looks like this:

Day One: Pick a subject and brainstorm with me some ideas, coming up with three main points. Write the opening paragraph, which includes a brief description of the three main points.

Day Two: Write paragraph two, which describes main point No. 1.

Day Three: Write paragraph three, which describes main point No. 2.

Day Four:  Write paragraph four, which describes main point No. 3.

Day Five: Write the closing paragraph, wrapping up the three points above.

The second week, we would take each of the five days to go over the entire essay and correct only one paragraph a day.

The third week, they would rewrite the essay, focusing on getting rid of "boring" or ordinary words and replacing them with better verbs, adjectives, etc., until they ended up with a polished, finished product. This was not overwhelming and taught them the basics of essay writing, which is important as they go into higher learning environments.

Contests: Another great way to inspire children to write is to give them a purpose for writing--places like local homeschooling newsletters, library poetry contests, bookstore writing contests, Internet contests, etc. Anything to get them to write with a reward attached to it seemed to inspire greatness. You will be proud of the effort, and of course they love the prizes!

Other People: As the children have gotten older, it has been helpful occasionally to have them under the tutelage or requirement of other teachers (co-op writing classes, presentation days, community college classes, etc.). Take advantage of what your homeschool community has to offer.

Praise: Praise their efforts before showing them their errors. Pray continually, and God will be faithful to show you the "write" way for each child

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Our Yearly Science Outline

Note: I plan to use Super Charged Science for most of this, along with Exploring Creation and Anatomy and physiology Revealed. I will also use a combination of websites and free online gaming sites.

  1. Science for Beginners:
    1. Nature Study
      1. The Study of the World Around Us
        1. Rocks and Soil
        2. Water
        3. Air
        4. The Sky
      2. The Study of Living Things
        1. Our Bodies and How They Work
          1. Major Body Parts
          2. Organs of the Body
          3. Skin and Outgrowths
          4. Digestion, Metabolism, and Elimination
        2. Animals
        3. Plants
    2. The Study of Matter and Energy
      1. Light
      2. Electricity
      3. Heat
      4. Simple Machines
      5. Solids, Liquids, Gases
        1. Gas
        2. Ice
        3. Water
  2. Basic Principles of Science
    1. Scientific Method
      1. Observation
      2. Induction, Inductive Method (logic)
      3. Verification
      4. Generalization
    2. Scientific Experimentation
      1. Scientific Measurements
      2. Scientific Instruments
      3. Scientific Documentation
  3. The Sciences
    1. The Abstract Sciences
      1. Metaphysics
      2. Logic
      3. Mathematics
    2. The Natural Sciences
      1. The Physical Sciences
        1. Physics
        2. Chemistry
        3. Astronomy
      2. The Biological Sciences
        1. Zoology
        2. Botany
        3. Biology
    3. The Mixed Sciences
      1. Geography
      2. Geology
      3. Biochemistry
    4. The Human Sciences
      1. Psychology
      2. Sociology
      3. Anthropology
      4. Philology

Our Bodies and How They Work Outline

Our Bodies and How They Work 
Bony Structures 
Glands and Their Products 
Organs of the Body 
Skin and Outgrowths 
Muscles, Membranes, and Cartilaginous Tissues 
Sense Organs 
Nervous System 
Body Processes 
Digestion, Metabolism, and Elimination 
Major Body Parts 


Organs of the Body 

Gall Bladder 
Skin and Outgrowths 

Digestion, Metabolism, and Elimination 

Alimentary Canal 

I will wrap in animals after we finish the body to show similarities
and differences in how God made us:


Familiar Animals 
 Farm Animals 
 Zoo Animals 
Useful Animals 
 Working Animals 
 Animals Useful for their Products 
 Animals Whish Fight pests 
 Animals in Sports 
Where Animals Live 
 Land Animals 
 Water Animals 
 Animals that Live on Both Land and Water 
 Animals of Various Continents 
 Animal Homes 
How Animals Live 
 How Animals Move About 
 How Animals Protect Themselves 
 How Animals Get Food 
The Body of Animals 
 Animal Senses 
 Life Stages of Animals 
 Animals Growth and Length of Life 
 Body Parts and Form 
Animals Behavior 
 Animals' Instincts 
 Animals' Intelligence 
 How Animals Communicate 
 Animal Habits 
 How Seasons Affect Animals 
Community Life 
 Animals that Live Together in Organized Communities 
 The Hierarchy Structure of Herds, Flocks, or Schools 
 Animals that Live Alone 
Animals in Relation to Other Life 
 Animal Competition 
 Animals helpful to Plants 
 Animals and the Balance of Nature 
 Endangered Animals 
 Animals that Attack man 
 Disease Bearing Animals 
 Animals that Harm Man's Food 
 How Animals are Classified 
 Principal Groups of the Animal Kingdom 

Followed lastly by plants, and how we all depend upon each other.


Familiar Plants 
Useful Plants 
 Which Plants Produce Food 
 Medicinal Plants 
 Plants Useful for Shade and Ornament 
Where Plants Live 
 Land Plants 
 Water Plants 
 Plants of Various Continents 
 Plants that Live in the Air 
The Structure of Plants 
 Plant Parts 
 How Plant Parts Work 
How Plants Live 
 Protection Against Enemies 
 Plants that Eat Animals 
 How Seasons Affect Plants 
 How Weeds Affect Plants 
Plant Diseases 
Kinds of Plants 
 How Plants are Classified 
 Principal Plant Groups 

Friday, January 13, 2012

100 Acts of Kindness

 This month we are starting a 100 Acts of Kindness Project (idea from here) and we want you to join us! I got the idea from Toddler Approved and thought it was a fabulous way to spur on another on in the love of Christ. Something we should be doing everyday, but simply forget at times. I am always looking for new and creative ways to help my children grow in love, and appreciation of their talents and the uniqueness of each individual.  I simple cannot wait to see how my children and I can spur each other on and see who ca actually go OVER the 100 Act. Yes, we are competitive and love to make challenges against each other, especially ones like this, were I am helping teach them the act of servitude and putting others needs before their own. What a great way to learn a valuable lesson, without ever realize that you are learning!
I am giving a 100 days homework sheet with very simple fill-in-the-blanks to my kids to get things kick-started: "I wish I had 100 _______. I could eat 100 ______, but I would never eat 100 ______." My favorite one is "My Mom has told me 100 times to _______." "I caught _____ being kind! Here is what I saw." I told the kids that we were going to be "kindness detectives" and try to catch each other (along with our friends, family members, etc.) in the act of being kind. We talked about how all the little things we do for each other every day (like lending someone a pencil or helping someone pick up something they dropped, helping someone put their groceries in their car, holding a door for someone) is an act of kindness.

Don't know how to get started, but desperately want to participate?

Here are some great  ideas, courtesy of the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation – hit their site for more ideas:
1. Deliver fresh-baked cookies to city workers.
2. Collect goods for a food bank.
3.  Bring flowers to work and share them with coworkers.
4.  Garden clubs can make floral arrangements for senior centers, nursing homes, hospitals, police stations, or shut-ins.
5.  Adopt a student who needs a friend, checking in periodically to see how things are going.
6.  Volunteer to be a tutor in a school.
7.  Extend a hand to someone in need. Give your full attention and simply listen.
8.  Merchants can donate a percentage of receipts for the week to a special cause.
9.  Bring coworkers a special treat.
10.  Students can clean classrooms for the custodian.
11.  Buy a stranger a free pizza.
12.  Distribute lollipops to kids.
13.  Sing at a nursing home.
14.  Offer a couple of hours of baby-sitting to parents.
15.  Slip paper hearts that say “It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week! Have a great day!” under the windshield wipers of parked cars.
16.  Have a charity day at work, with employees bringing nonperishable food items to donate.
17.  Serve refreshments to customers.
18.  Draw names at school or work, and have people bring a small gift or food treat for their secret pal.
19.  Remember the bereaved with phone calls, cards, plants, and food.
20.  Treat someone to fresh fruit.
21.  Pay a compliment at least once a day.
22.  Call or visit a homebound person.
23.  Hand out balloons to passersby.
24.  Give free sodas to motorists.
25.  Be a good neighbor. Take over a baked treat or stop by to say “Hello.”
26.  Transport someone who can’t drive.
27.  Mow a neighbor’s grass.
28.  Say something nice to everyone you meet today.
29.  Send a treat to a school or day-care center.
30.  Volunteer at an agency that needs help.
31.  Wipe rainwater off shopping carts or hold umbrellas for shoppers on the way to their cars.
32.  Give the gift of your smile.
33.  Send home a note telling parents something their child did well.
34.  Adopt a homeless pet from the humane society.
35.  Organize a scout troop or service club to help people with packages at the mall or grocery.
36.  Host special programs or speakers at libraries or bookstores.
37.  Offer to answer the phone for the school secretary for ten minutes.
38.  Volunteer to read to students in the classroom.
39.  Write notes of appreciation and bring flowers or goodies to teachers or other important people, such as the principal, nurse, custodian, and secretary.
40.  Incorporate kindness into the curriculum at area schools, day care centers, or children’s classes in faith organizations.
41.  Give a hug to a friend.
42.  Tell your children why you love them.
43.  Write a note to your mother/father and tell them why they are special.
44.  Pat someone on the back.
45.  Write a thank-you note to a mentor or someone who has influenced your life in a positive way.
46.  Give coffee to people on their way to work in the morning.
47.  Donate time at a senior center.
48.  Give blood.
49.  Visit hospitals with smiles, treats, and friendly conversation for patients.

50.  Stop by a nursing home, and visit a resident with no family nearby.
51.  Plant flowers in your neighbor’s flower box.
52.  Give another driver your parking spot.
53.  Leave a treat or handmade note of thanks for a delivery person or mail carrier.
54.  Give free car washes.
55.  Clean graffiti from neighborhood walls and buildings.
56.  Tell your boss that you think he/she does a good job.
57.  Tell your employees how much you appreciate their work.
58.  Let your staff leave work an hour early.
59.  Have a clean-up party in the park.
60.  Tell a bus or taxi driver how much you appreciate their driving.
61.  Have everyone in your office draw the name of a Random Acts of Kindness buddy out of a hat and do a kind act for their buddy that day or week.
62.  Give a pair of tickets to a baseball game or concert to a stranger.
63.  Leave an extra big tip for the waitperson.
64.  Drop off a plant, cookies, or donuts to the police or fire department.
65.  Open the door for another person.
66.  Pay for the meal of the person behind you in the drive-through.
67.  Write a note to the boss of someone who has helped you, praising the employee.
68.  Leave a bouquet of flowers on the desk of a colleague at work with whom you don’t normally get
69.  Call an estranged family member.
70.  Volunteer to fix up an elderly couple’s home.
71.  Pay for the person behind you in the movie line.
72.  Give flowers to be delivered with meal delivery programs.
73.  Give toys to the children at the shelter or safe house.
74.  Give friends and family kindness coupons they can redeem for kind favors.
75.  Be a friend to a new student or coworker.
76.  Renew an old friendship by sending a letter or small gift to someone you haven’t talked with in a long time.
77.  For one week, act on every single thought of generosity that arises spontaneously in your heart, and notice what happens as a consequence.
78.  Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading a car.
79.  Invite someone new over for dinner.
80.  Buy a roll of brightly colored stickers and give them to children you meet during the day.
81.  Write a card of thanks and leave it with your tip. Be sure to be specific in your thanks.
82.  Let the person behind you in the grocery store go ahead of you in line.
83.  When drivers try to merge into your lane, let them in with a wave and a smile.
84.  Buy cold drinks for the people next to you at a ball game.
85.  Distribute kindness bookmarks that you have made.
86.  Create a craft project or build a bird house with a child.
87.  Give a bag of groceries to a homeless person.
88.  Laugh out loud often and share your smile generously.
89.  Plant a tree in your neighborhood.
90.  Make a list of things to do to bring more kindness into the world, and have a friend make a list. Exchange lists and do one item per day for a month.
91.  Use an instant camera to take people’s photographs at a party or community event, and give the picture to them.
92.  As you go about your day, pick up trash.
93.  Send a letter to some former teachers, letting them know the difference they made in your life.
94.  Send a gift anonymously to a friend.
95.  Organize a clothing drive for a shelter.
96.  Buy books for a day care or school.
97.  Slip a $20 bill to a person who you know is having financial difficulty.
98.  Take an acquaintance to dinner.
99.  Offer to take a friend’s child to ball practice.
100.  Waive late fees for the week.

My daughter is also participating, and she loves the idea of using the kindness chart ..check out her blog here with all her great ideas: http://myhomeschooladventuring.blogspot.com/


Wednesday, January 11, 2012


I got this from a friend of a friend and could not agree more, so I thought I would share it with you all. If anyone lectures you on spanking, direct them to:

Proverbs 13:24~ Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them,

Proverbs 22:15 - Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; The rod of correction will drive it far from him,

Proverbs 23:13, 14 - Do not withhold correction from a child, For if you beat him with a rod, he will not die. You shall beat him with a rod, And deliver his soul from hell, and

Proverbs 29:15 - The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother.

Spanking a disobedient child is God's mandate. I AM NOT SAYING BEAT YOUR CHILD IN AN UNLOVING WAY, but you should use the correct punishment for the crime.

A Taste of Shakespeare

A Taste of Shakespeare

We are going to be starting a unit on Shakespeare in February. We will be reading What Fools These Mortals Be, Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Julius Caesar, and Shakespeare's Sonnets. and some of the things we will be covering are:
  • Questions about Shakespeare. Students can ask questions about Shakespeare  Students will be given a mini-history lesson about Shakespeare and his life and times in 16th Century England.
  • Physical and Vocal Warm Up. Students will learn first hand why it’s important to keep the body and voice alive. Through vocal and physical warm-ups with the students, they will earn that stage acting is not unlike preparing for a big game. Students will rise from their chairs and get their bodies and voices moving!
  • Theatre Games. Acting isn’t just moving and speaking. It’s also thinking. In this workshops students will be asked to play a variety of games that will engage both body and mind. Listening, improvisation and reacting will give students a taste of just how much skill the art of acting requires.
  • Iambic Pentameter. Iambic Pentameter teaches the essential components of Shakespeare’s language. Students will learn the basic definition of iambic pentameter, and then be asked to demonstrate what they have just learned through actual quotes from Shakespeare’s plays. Discover how iambic pentameter is fundamental to both actors learning his text AND a student’s ability to understand Shakespeare’s plays.
  • Stage Combat. Stage Combat offers a fun, interactive means for students to fuse physical activity with learning Shakespeare. Some of the most exciting fight scenes in history are in Shakespeare’s plays, with a brief history lesson and explanation of the basics of Stage Combat, reality vs. film and stage and why it’s so important to be safe.
  • Cooling Down. The cool down will give students the opportunity to calm and reflect on the points covered by the workshop. Through controlled breathing and stretching they will relax and then return to their chairs and be given opportunity to ask any additional questions about the workshop. The points covered will be reiterated, and thus concludes the workshop.
Curriculum standards: History, Movement and Voice Work, Shakespeare Verse, Language Arts, Theatre Arts, Stage Combat and Improvisational.

2011 Writing Competition

To help reenforce the need for my kids to have good grammar, punctuation,  and basic understanding of the English language I like to enroll them in competitions that give away prizes as an incentive to do good work. So far this seems to work. This year they have entered two so far.The Olive Garden Writing Competition and this one. Here's the scoop:

2011 Competition
Take up your pens and prepare to write! Students between the ages of 12 and 18 are invited to submit original works of fiction that thoughtfully reflect some aspect of God’s truth, in accordance with the rules and guidelines of two separate divisions. Further details are below.
If you have any questions, please contact Alicia Constant at shortstory@phc.edu. Some questions may also be answered on the Call to Pens blog.

Submitting Your Entry

To submit your manuscript, you have two options. (NOTE: If you submit your entry online, you do not have to mail in an entry form as well.)
(1) Online Submission
Fill out the online form to submit your entry and payment online.
(2) Hard-Copy Submission
Please fill out the entry form (you can type in the PDF) and mail it to us with a check for the appropriate fee and a stapled hard copy of your manuscript. You can also email your manuscript to shortstory@phc.edu as a MS Word document. (Please be aware that if you choose to email it, it will be set aside until your entry form and fee are received in the mail.)

Submit all fees, entry forms, and printed manuscripts to the following address:

ATTN: PHC Short Story Competition
Patrick Henry College
10 Patrick Henry Circle
Purcellville, VA, 20132

Manuscripts will not be returned, so don’t submit your only copy.

Prizes, Fees, Deadlines & Dates
There are four prizes in each division, as follows:
  • 1st: $225
  • 2nd: $125
  • 3rd: $75
  • 4th: $50
There is a $10 fee per manuscript; two manuscripts per person are allowed. The deadline for submission is February 1, 2012. Check above for submission information.
Winners will be announced in April, 2012. The exact date has not been determined yet.

The First Division
Theme: An Unexpected Adventure
Age group: 12-15
Word limit: 1,500
The Second Division
Theme: Redemption
Age group: 16-18
Word limit: 2,500

  Rules on Format & Content:
  1. Submit an original, unpublished work of narrative prose fiction (an ordinary short story). No poetry, essays, novellas, etc.
  2. Double-space the text.
  3. Use a regular font and size (e.g., 12-point Times New Roman).
  4. No handwritten entries! Please type.
  5. Number each page in the upper right hand corner.
  6. Do not put your name or contact information on the manuscript itself. (Do title your work, however.)
  7. Do your own revising and editing: no one else is allowed to do this for you.
  8. Failure to comply with the rules may result in disqualification.

  1. Winning entries will thoughtfully reflect a Christian worldview, but not necessarily in an overt manner.
  2. Edit and revise several times before you submit! Clarity of style and grammatical excellence are both a “must.”
  3. If you have more general questions about the themes, good writing, or even the link between fiction and Christianity, please submit them to the blog! We will try to answer such questions there in more depth.  
Legal Stuff
Once you submit your manuscript, Patrick Henry College has the right to publish all or part of it. The college is not responsible for any manuscripts that have been lost, damaged, misdirected, etc. Entrants must be U.S. citizens and must agree to abide by the rules and accept the judges’ decisions. All profits from the contest will be given to PHC’s Annual Scholarship Fund.
View results from 2008.
View results from 2009.
View results from 2010.


Now through Sunday, Jan. 29, Olive Garden is asking writers in first through 12th-grade in the U.S. and Canada to submit an essay of 50 to 250 words answering the question:

“If you were given $5,000 to support education in your local community, how would you use it and why?”

The grand prize winner of Olive Garden’s 16th-Annual Pasta Tales essay writing contest will receive a three-day trip to New York City that includes dinner at the Olive Garden in Times Square and a $2,500 savings bond. In addition, Olive Garden will provide a $5,000 grant to support education in the winner’s local community, which will bring his/her essay to life. The winners in each grade category will be awarded a $500 savings bond and a family dinner at their local Olive Garden restaurant.

All entries must include the writer’s first and last name, complete address, phone number with area code, grade, date of birth including year and a statement that the work is his or her own. Entries must be submitted either online or postmarked by January 29, 2012 and sent to Pasta Tales, PMB 2000, 6278 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308-1916.

Submissions will be judged based on creativity, adherence to theme, organization, grammar, punctuation and spelling by the Quill and Scroll Society of the College of Journalism and Communications at the University of Iowa, with winners selected by Olive Garden.

For more information about Olive Garden’s Pasta Tales, contact Lauren Simo or Catie Jackson at (954) 776-1999 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. EST, or Heidi Schauer at (407) 245-5642.

Click here for a printer friendly mail-in entry form, and more details including official contest rules.
No purchase necessary.

Monday, January 9, 2012


I decided that I needed to revamp our home school routine a bit. Both my daughter and I have been feeling a little overwhelmed. We simply cannot seem to find our flow and get things moving in a stress free type environment. I work FT out of the home so that means we school at night. My daughter wants to use a combination of unit studies and individual studies, so I am trying to incorporate both into her learning. She wants to cover one topic at a time, so it’s difficult to give her everything that she wants, so we had to come up with a compromise to school work.

Monday: Mystery of History and Geography (newspapers: look for locations mentioned in the paper)/Drama Class from 6:30-7:30/Bible

Tuesday: Language Arts/Writing/Spelling (National Spelling Bee word list)/AWANA from 6:00-7:45/Bible

Wednesday: Life of Fred Math/Khan Academy for reinforcement of lessons/Exploring Creation Science/Bible

Thursday: AWOA: Greece/Unit Study/Bible

 Friday: Art/Music (possible the flute, but also the keyboard/piano)/Bible


Geography: http://www.yourchildlearns.com/geography.htm (maps, puzzles, quiz)
       http://sites.google.com/site/geogeomania/geographygames (maps, puzzles, quiz, games)

Science: http://www.lawrencehallofscience.org/kidsite/ (great site for games)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spiritual conversation openers

Spiritual conversation openers

General issues

1. What gives most meaning to your life?

2. What, or who, are your sources of strength in your day-to-day living?

3. When you have problems or crises, how do you manage to get through them?

4. Is religion or God important to you?


In what ways?


If not, is there any particular reason why not?

5. Wouldn't you like to have faith in something?

Relationship questions

1. Does God (or a Higher Power) seem personal to you?

2. Do you feel close to God?

3. What is your picture of God?

4. What has God done for you?

5. How is God working in your life right now?

6. Are you comfortable with God's guidelines and laws for living?

7. Do you feel there are any barriers between you and God?

8. Have you ever felt anything against God?

9. Have you ever done anything for which you feel God could not forgive you?

10. Do you understand the way to forgiveness and what it means?

11. Do you feel God has a plan for your life?

12. Do you feel you are living up to what you feel God expects of you?

Devotional life and practice

1. What kinds of devotional readings do you like?

2. What are your favorite authors, writings?

3. Do you like religious music? Kinds? Favorites?

4. Do you read the Bible?

5. Do you understand what you read?

6. Does Bible reading help in living? How?

7. Is prayer a meaningful part of your devotional life?

8. Do you feel you are growing spiritually?

The Church

1. Are you involved in a church?

2. Is your church helpful to you?

3. Do you attend the worship services of your church?

Preparing a Personal Testimony

Why Prepare a Personal Testimony?

The Bible commands that we be able to communicate our faith, 1 Peter 3:15, “But
in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to
everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this
with gentleness and respect.”

The apostle Paul demonstrates it in Acts 26. When he stood before King Agrippa, he
told him logically and clearly about his life before salvation, how he came to know
Christ, and what his life was like after salvation.

As a Christian, you have a message that non-Christians need to hear.

What Is a Personal Testimony?

A personal testimony is your own communication of your personal experience in coming to
know Jesus Christ as your Savior. The purpose of a testimony is for you to express in your
own words your experience of coming to know Christ so that a hearer who does not know
Christ can understand you.

The general outline of a testimony is:

Before I came to know Christ, I lived and thought this way.

How I came to know Christ.

After I came to know Christ, my life changed in the following ways.

Make your testimony conversational; prepare it to be natural! If possible, avoid
religious words and phrases that non-Christians may not understand (“went
forward”, “saved”, “redeemed”, “under the blood”, etc.). In the “how”, communicate the
Gospel briefly and clearly:

God’s Holiness

Man’s Sinfulness and Its consequences

Christ’s Payment of the Penalty

The Necessity to Repent and Personally Trust in Christ

In the “after”, share two or three specific changes that God has made in your thinking/

How to Write a Personal Testimony

Before you begin, pray and ask for God’s help. Accumulate brief notes under before, how,
and after. From your notes, write out a complete testimony. Have someone who has given a
testimony before read yours and give suggestions.

If you have your testimony prepared, you will be ready to share the Gospel with others
when God brings opportunities in your life to do so (Matthew 28:19-20).

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Teaching Your Kids About Presidental Elections

Homeschool parents may be a small minority, but they've shown they can make a big difference when it comes to politics. After all, it was a passionate homeschool community that helped push a presidential candidate to a surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses four years ago. Making phone calls, knocking on doors, emailing, and persuading neighbors to get out and vote, these homeschool volunteers understood how to network to get the job done.

According to Michael Farris, chairman of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association, many homeschoolers have become involved in the world of politics simply because they had no other choice.

"The establishment tried to take away our freedom," he said, "and we became a political force because we had to protect ourselves."

As Christian homeschooling parents, it's important to take an active part in politics ourselves, but we also need to teach our children how to make a positive effect on government with godly values and a Christian worldview. What can you do during the 2012 campaign to nurture a lifelong interest of politics in your children's lives? Here are a few suggestions:

For Younger Grades

    • Observe President's Day on February 18 and teach your children about voting, elections, and presidents as you read stories and make crafts relating to George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other famous presidents.

    • Use the democratic process in family decision making. Decisions about where to eat or what video to watch can involve a homeschool election ballot and voting box.

    • Take a field trip with your children to the polling place when you vote. Show them the polling booth and how it works. Build anticipation as you tell them, "When you're older, you'll get to do this, too!"
For Older Grades

    • Educate your children with a solid understanding of the legislative, judicial, and executive branches of government, as well as the history and development of current political parties.

    • Stir debate around the family table and ask your children's opinions about today's tough issues.

    • Discuss public policies that affect your family directly and show your children how to express themselves and listen to opposing views. Let them know that it's okay to hold a different viewpoint than Dad or Mom.

    • Get involved in the political process. Have your children attend caucuses, primaries, and political rallies. Let them participate in phone call surveys, fundraisers, and campaign promotions for their preferred presidential candidate.

    • Encourage communication with current and future political leaders. Have your children write state and federal representatives with questions and comments about important issues, especially those that affect homeschooling.

    • Take your children to city council and state legislature meetings. Familiarize them with the process of how a bill becomes a law.

    • Watch campaign debates on TV, read newspaper articles, and take advantage of media coverage in regard to the voting process. Explain the power of their vote and how it should not be taken lightly. Also, teach them where and how to register to vote when they turn 18.
Remember, children's attitudes toward politics are most influenced by their parents. From the time they are young, they either observe your active, positive involvement or your lack of concern and apathy. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, one third of eligible voters chose not to vote in the 2008 presidential election. Making a difference in federal, state, and local government takes people who care enough to get involved. Will your homeschool family make a difference in 2012?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Fun with Electricity

Planet Shark

I love taking my kids place and for New Years we went to the Science Place to check out the new Plant Shark exhibit. It was fantastic. Our tour guide was Patrick and he was incredibly knowledgeable about sharks! Not so much about how old our planet really is, since he believes it is 380 million years old! Guess he must not buy into the whole God created the heavens and the Earth and our planet is not that old, but was not there to bicker about theology.

So the first thing we learned is that the way we pronounce the word "shark" is all wrong. It actually is a New Zealand/Holland lineage and the word is pronounced "Shack", (ʃɑːk) think basketball player Shaquille O Neel.

Types of Sharks: 
There are over 350 different types of sharks such as the Tiger (think Soul Surfer movie), Whale, Blue, Bull, Goblin, Great White, Hammerhead...you get the point. There are tons of great little web site for kids to learn more about the different types of sharks and what they look like: So I won't list them all!

The kids learned all about how sharks bodies are made up of cartilage except for their teeth and spines. So sharks do not fossilize and the only way they can determine the size of a shark is buy the teeth and spines left behind. A sharks size is determined by its jaw size more than anything else. Interesting little fact about sharks teeth we learned is that sharks loose there teeth every 2 weeks and a new set grows in. This happens throughout their entire life time. Most people when they think of sharks they think sharp teeth...but this is not always the case. It really depends on what type of shark you have and what they eat. Some sharks have nothing but molars for teeth. Also, the color of the sharks teeth is not determined by the type of shark it is, but the region in which it inhabits. The color is from the minerals that are local to that region. So a sharks habitat that is mainly limestone would have different color teeth from a place were its mainly jasper, talc or rhodonite. Plus, some sharks move their teeth up and down and some move them like saw blades back and forth. The Tiger shark for instance is the type of shark that attacked the girl from soul surfer movie and he uses a back and forth movement.

The largest threat to sharks is from the "Shark Fin  Soup Threat"  Asia has such a fascination with sharks that their fins are considered a delicacy. This one movement alone has put sharks on the endangered species list,also known as the ETL or extinction level event

 Shark Sensory:

Sharks have this wonderful thing called Electroreception this is were sharks pick up on electricity from prey within a 3ft range from their nose! This is an awesome little sense and also cost the government billions of dollars back when submarines were being tested. The government thought that the Russians had invested a new weapon because the submarines they docked had these circular holes all over them.  It took a team of scientist to figure out it  was the cookiecutter shark was taking bites out of submarines. Apparently since the outside of subs use to be styrofoam and the shark picked it its electricity it thought it was food and kept taking bites out of it. Pretty funny actually.

             ************* GRAPHIC IMAGES BELOW***************************

 Shark Dissection:

I love hands on experiments and nothing beats getting to open up a dogfish shark and takes its guts out to peer inside. That's exactly what we got to do with a dogfish shark! Oh yea, it was as cool as it sounds. I attached the link to several different sites that allow you to watch or give you instruction on how to dissect a dogfish.

video of dissection

 Great Questions to ask: 
  • How has the shark adapted to its environment?
  • Where is the shark found? What does it eat? How does it swim? What is its prey? What preys on it? How does it reproduce?
  • What is the external and internal anatomy of a shark?
  • How are sharks similar to and different from bony fish?
  • Why are Spiny Dogfish caught by humans? What are some of the impacts of over fishing?
  • How big was the fossil shark Megalodon, based on the size of its teeth?

Shark attackAttacks by sharks are extremely rare and should be put in context. The dangers that we confront each and every day of our lives from driving to work, to playing sport are far greater.
There are many theories and ideas about why Great White sharks attack humans and whether it is deliberate or a case of mistaken identity. Today scientists and researchers remain divided. What we do know is that humans have not featured in the diet of Great whites until relatively recently when we began to enter the water. We also know that we give off similar signals to prey types that Great Whites target such as whales, dolphins and seals. It is therefore reasonable to assume that they attack humans because they recognize us as food.

10 ways to avoid attack
Avoid entering the water at night and particularly at dawn and dusk.
Many of the more dangerous sharks are actively feeding at these times. They can see and sense you long before you can see them. 
Always swim in a group.
Sharks usually attack lone individuals.
 Avoid entering the water if you are bleeding.
Sharks have an acute sense of smell and can quickly find the source of even minute amounts of blood in the water.
Avoid entering the water where people are fishing or have been fishing recently.
Or where other animals are hunting for fish. Diving sea birds are a good indicator that other animals may be fishing in the area.
Avoid entering the water if sharks are present.
Also leave immediately if sharks are seen. Move swiftly but calmly as sharks are attracted to splashing. It the shark is already swimming at you move as fast as you can to safety.
 Avoid splashing a lot or swimming with pets.
Erratic movements and the quick movements of animals like dogs can attract sharks.
Avoid wearing shiny jewelery while swimming.
  Jewelery can reflect the light and look like fish scales or a small school of fish in the water.
Be vigilant around the edges of sandbars or steep drop-offs.
These are frequently visited by sharks.
Don't think that you are safe because dolphins are present - this is a myth.
Sharks are often found in the presence of whales and dolphins as they eat the same foods.
If attacked by a shark do whatever it takes to get away. Be aggressive rather than passive.
Yell and scream to attract rescuers and fight the shark off by attacking its most vulnerable areas - its gills and eyes.

~New Years~

Well why most the people  I know were out drinking and dancing and partying this New Years, I am the girl that stays home with her kids:) I took my son out to the Science Place to see the "Sharks" Exhibit and literally spent the whole day there doing dissections and exploring the wonderful world of sharks We had a blast and even made time to run back by the Bob the Builder exhibit before it leaves in a week. Went home watched some hockey. Stars won 4-2 against the Bruins! OH YEAH~ Cooked some traditional New Years Eve foods and ate with my family. Then had my little brother and one of my nephews come over and we hung out looking at old videos and listening to music with the kids from when we were growing up. Had a blast reliving old times and memories. Really could not think of a better way to spend my New Years then with my family reflecting on Gods greatness and enjoying bonding with my little brother and watching our kids build bonds as well. This is a GREAT LIFE~