Friday, November 30, 2012

Blessing Your Children with Words of Praise

"Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Although they may not realize it, parents often inflict deep scars on their children, not only by using negative, condemning words, but by withholding praise and affirmation. Discover how to use your tongue as an instrument of blessing and develop a positive relationship with your child that lasts for the rest of your lives!" J. Michael Smith, Esq., HSLDA President

One of the biggest challenges that stand in the way for me when trying to build up and edify my children is my obsessive need to complain! Now i call it other things: directing, guiding, doing things the correct way..the list could go on and on, but at the root of it, I am simply complaining. Telling my kids that what they did, how they did it was not good enough and in fact just wrong! I have realized though that all this does is give them low self esteem, discourages help, and it gives them a bitter taste toward me! So what can be done to prevent this?

Why We Complain:

 There are usually two main reasons why we complain. 1. We complain because we feel powerless. 2. We complain because it’s a habit.  I think I personally have a nice unhealthy mix of the two combined. Sadly, my nasty little habits are forced upon my family, mainly my children. So what is the cure? Is there a cure? All through out the bible the tmaining of the tongue is discussed and how to bind it and how greatrly is displeased God.
“Now when the people complained, it displeased the Lord…” – Numbers 11:1 (NKJV
“Do all things without complaining and disputing…” -Philippians 2:14 (NKJV)

Our Shadow: Complaning

But complaining isn’t something new. Think about the Israelites who had spent years as captive slaves and within a short time of being freed they start complaining. They complained about being hungry. They complained about not having enough water. They complained about living in the wilderness. They even said it would be better to be back in Egypt as slaves rather than be free in the desert. Four hundred years of slavery, and they didn’t appreciate the freedom and blessing they have been given.
Here’s the thing, God doesn’t want us to be complainers, He wants us to live with a spirit of joy and thanksgiving.


So today I want to encourage you to adopt a No Complaining Rule and go on a complaining fast. Not because it will make everyone around you happier, although it will, but because it will help you experience more of the peace and joy that God wants for you, and it will help you build strong, positive relationships with others.
To help you break out of a “complaining” rut here are five things you can do instead of complain. These tips will help you realize you are not powerless. You have the power to choose your beliefs and actions. And in your focus on the positive instead of the negative you'll find the faith, strength and confidence to take on life’s challenges and identify the solutions to your complaints.


Well John Gordon a writer for streaming faith had some wonderful tips in his September article, on how we can tame our tongue and start prasing and uplifting one another instead. I have added to some of them, as i am sure you could add your own to ths list too!

1. Practice Gratitude. Research shows that when we count three blessings a day, we get a measurable boost in happiness that uplifts and energizes us. It's also physiologically impossible to be stressed and thankful at the same time. If you are focusing on gratitude, you can't be negative.  (Psalm 118:24)
2. Praise Others. Instead of complaining about what others are doing wrong, start focusing on what they are doing right. Praise them and watch as they create more success as a result. Of course, point out their mistakes so they can learn and grow, but make sure you give three times as much praise as criticism. You can energize and engage your coworkers by encouraging  them and their work. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
3. Focus on Success. Start a success journal. Each night before you go to bed, write down the one great thing about your day. The one great conversation, accomplishment, or win that you are most proud of. Focus on your success, and you'll look forward to creating more success tomorrow. (Philippians 4:8)
4. Let Go. A biggie I know. We like to tend to hold onto things to use later in life against someone. We sadly even do this with our kids. We nag, complain and hold it over their heads as a reminder of their "incompetance" Instead we need to focus on the things that you have the power to change, and let go of the things that are beyond your control. Give it up to God and trust Him with the outcome. You’ll be amazed that when you stop trying to control everything, it all somehow works out. Surrender is the answer. (Proverbs 3:5)
5. Pray. God wants to hear from you. Pray without ceasing! He wants to have a personal relationship with you on a daily basis. Take your worries to Him and He will help you. If you’re a skeptic, also know that scientific research shows that daily prayer reduces stress; boosts positive energy; and promotes health, vitality, and longevity. When you are faced with the urge to complain or you are feeling stressed to the max, stop, be still, plug-in to the ultimate power of God and recharge.  (Philippians 4:6)

Scripture of the Day: “Do all things without complaining and disputing…” -Philippians 2:14 (NKJV)

The History of the Christmas Tree

The History of the Christmas Tree!

Christmas wasn't always celebrated the way it is today. In fact, the Puritans of Massachusetts banned any observance of Christmas, and anyone caught observing the holiday had to pay a fine.Can you even imagine this going on today in the US!! Connecticut had a law forbidding the celebration of Christmas. A few of the earliest settlers did celebrate Christmas, but it was far from a common holiday in the colonial era. Since we are currently studying Rome and making our way through the Middle Ages, I  thought this would be interesting to share with everyone. Here's a brief but interesting history of the Christmas Tree!

Roman times

The Christmas tree actually predates Christianity by centuries!  Ancient Romans decorated trees with small pieces of metal during Saturnalia, their winter festival in honor of Saturnus, the god of agriculture. There is much evidence to suggest that December 25th was chosen as the day to celebrate Christ's birth in order to take over the holiday from the pagans. (Most historians place the birth of Christ as in the spring or summer; shepherds don't watch over their flocks in the fields in the dead of winter!  Historians believe the Emporer Constantine did this around the year 390 to combine Christmas with the Saturn and Mithras celebrations and also with the cult of Sol Invictus, a form of Sunday worship that had come to Rome from Syria a century before).

Middle Ages

During the middle ages, an evergreen was decorated with apples and called the Paradise tree, as a symbol of the feast of Adam and Eve and was held on December 24th each year.


Tallin, Estonia claims to be the home of the Christmas tree. A Christmas tree on Tallinn Town Hall Square was first mentioned in 1441, according to one Estonian website. and Wikipedia. The custom then was to dance around the tree and celebrate, and later burn it.


The modern Christmas trees appeared in the middle 1500's. The trees were sold at local markets and set up in homes   without any ornaments in the Strassbourg area of Alsace in 1531, which was then a part of Germany. A decorated tree is reported at Riga in Latvia, in 1510.


The oldest record of a decorated Christmas tree came from a 1605 diary found in Strasburg. The tree was decorated with paper roses, apples and candies.
Around 1650, an English theologian, Professor Dannhauer, wrote "amongst the other absurdities which men are often more busied at Christmas than with the word of God, there is the Christmas or fir tree which they erect in their houses, hang with dolls and sweetmeats, and then shake it and cause it to shed its 'flowers'-- it is a children's game. Far better were it to lead the children to the spiritual cedar, Christ Jesus".
Tinsel was invented in Germany around 1610. Real silver was used at that time, and special machines were invented to pull the silver out into wafer thin strips for tinsel. Silver was durable, but tarnished quickly, especially with candlelight which was used at that time. Attempts were made to use a mixture of lead and tin, but this was heavy and tended to break under its own weight so was not so practical. So silver was used for tinsel right up to the mid-20th century when plastics took its place.
In the early 16th century, Martin Luther is said to have decorated a small Christmas Tree with candles, to show his children how the stars twinkled through the dark night. In Austria & Germany during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the tops of evergreens were cut and hung upside down in a living room corner. They were decorated with apples, nuts and strips of red paper.


The first record of Christmas trees in America was for children in the German Moravian Church's settlement in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Christmas 1747. Actual trees were not decorated, but wooden pyramids covered with evergreen branches were decorated with candles.
The custom of the Christmas tree was introduced in the United States during the War of Independence by Hessian troops. An early account tells of a Christmas tree set up by American soldiers at Fort Dearborn, Illinois, the site of Chicago, in 1804. Most other early accounts in the United States were among the German settlers in eastern Pennsylvania. Just as the first trees introduced into Britain did not immediately take off, the early trees introduced into America by the Hessian soldiers were not recorded in any particular quantity. Even so, it is known that the Pennsylvanian German settlements had community trees as early as 1747.
Decorations were still of a 'home-made' variety. Young Ladies spent hours at Christmas Crafts, quilling snowflakes and stars, sewing little pouches for secret gifts and paper baskets with sugared almonds in them. Small bead decorations, fine drawn out silver tinsel came from Germany together with beautiful Angels to sit at the top of the tree. Candles were often placed into wooden hoops for safety.

1800's - The tree really catches on in the English speaking countries

Charles Minnegrode introduced the custom of decorating trees in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1842.
Somewhere around 1846 - 48, Queen Victoria's husband, Prince Albert, was credited with bringing the first Christmas tree to Windsor Castle for the Royal Family. Some historians state that in actuality Queen Charlotte, Victoria's grandmother, recalled that a Christmas tree was in the Queen's lodge at Windsor on Christmas Day in 1800.  It is certain that in the Illustrated London News in 1846, an illustration of Queen Victoria, Prince, Albert and their children around a Christmas tree appeared. Unlike the previous Royal family, Victoria was very popular with her subjects, and what was done at Court immediately became fashionable - not only in Britain, but with fashion-conscious East Coast American Society.
The decorations were tinsels, silver wire ornaments, candles and small beads. All these had been manufactured in Germany and East Europe since the 17th century. The custom was to have several small trees on tables, one for each member of the family, with that persons gifts stacked on the table under the tree.
In America, until this time, Christmas trees were considered a quaint foreign custom.  America was so geographically large, that it tended to have 'pockets' of customs relating to the immigrants who had settled in a particular area. It was  not until the telegraph communications really got going in the 19th century, that such customs began to spread. Thus references to decorated trees in America before about the middle of the 19th century are very rare. But by 1850, the Christmas tree had become fashionable in the eastern states.
Meanwhile, in Germany, companies, like Lauscha, began to produce fancy shaped glass bead garlands for the trees, and short garlands made from necklace 'bugles' and beads. These were readily available in Germany but not produced in sufficient quantities to export to Britain or America. The Rauschgoldengel was a common sight. Literally, 'Tingled-angel', bought from the Thuringian Christmas markets, and dressed in pure gilded tin.
Mark Carr brought trees from the Catskills to the streets of New York in 1851, and opened the first retail Christmas tree lot in the United States. Franklin Pierce was the first president to introduce the Christmas tree to the White House in 1856 for a group of Washington Sunday School children.
By the 1870's, Glass ornaments were being imported into Britain from Lauscha, in Thuringia (Germany). It became a status symbol to have glass ornaments on the tree, the more one had, the better ones status! Still many home-made things were seen. The British Empire was growing, and the most popular tree topper was the Union Jack (the nation's flag).  Sometimes there were flags of the Empire and flags of the allied countries. Trees became very patriotic.
The glass ornaments started being imported into America around 1880, where they were sold through stores such as FW Woolworth. They were quickly followed by American patents for electric lights (1882), (until this time candles were attached to tree branches - which resulted in a lot of fires!) and metal hooks for safer hanging of decorations onto the trees (1892).  You can still find candle clips and tree candles in German department stores. The artificial Christmas tree was invented in the 1880's in Germany, to combat some of the damage being done by so many native Fir trees being chopped for Christmas.
The main meal in England on Christmas day was goose (if they were wealthy), ham or roast beef.  Turkey is a relatively recent addition, as turkeys are native to America and don’t do well in the English climate. Christmas pudding, Figgy pudding and plum pudding are English fruitcakes, saturated in brandy, that date back to the Middle Ages. Suet, flour, sugar, raisins, nuts, and spices are tied loosely in cloth and boiled until the ingredients are "plum," meaning they have enlarged enough to fill the cloth. Brandy is poured over it daily for weeks until it is well pickled! It is then unwrapped, sliced, and topped with cream or custard. You can feel your arteries hardening just looking at it; but it still tastes better than a fruitcake.  For some reason those Claxton fruitcakes caught on around the beginning of the 1900's in America.  (Personally, I think people are still passing around the same ones manufacture red at the turn of the 1900 century, as no one I know would want to eat one!)


The Christmas tree popularity died down somewhat in the UK after the death of Queen Victoria. but in the 1930's (in Britain) there was a revival of Dickensian nostalgia, particularly in Britain. Christmas cards all sported Crinoline ladies with muffs and bonnets popular in the 1840's. Christmas Trees became large, and real again, and were decorated with many bells, balls and tinsels, and with a beautiful golden haired angel at the top.
But wartime England put a stop to many of these trees. It was forbidden to cut trees down for decoration, and with so many raids, many people preferred to keep their most precious heirloom Christmas tree decorations carefully stored away in metal boxes, and decorated only a small tabletop tree with home-made decorations, which could be taken down into the shelters for a little Christmas cheer, when the air-raid sirens went.
The first national American Christmas Tree was lighted in the year 1923 on the White House lawn by President Calvin Coolidge. A tree from the National Christmas Tree Association has been displayed in the Blue Room of the White House since 1966. See  Christmas Trees at the White House.
After World War II, the Christmas tree again became popular!
The mid-1960's saw another change. Sammy Davis Jr, and the Mod 60's were booming, and plastic was everywhere. Silver aluminum trees became popular. The 'Silver Pine' tree, patented in the 1950's, was designed to have a revolving light source under it, with coloured gelatine 'windows, which allowed the light to shine in different shades as it revolved under the tree. No decorations were needed for this tree. Very "hip"!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Advent Study

Good Morning Girls is hosting a new Advent study "Keeping Our Hearts Focused on Jesus" starting November 26th and running through December 24th that my daughter and I are going to be taking part in. We would love for you guys to follow along as well. Head over to Good Morning Girls and become a subscriber and you will get the book and a bookmarker sent to you. While you’re there go ahead and be daring and link up, accountability is essential in a strong Christian walk.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What I Love Most about my Munchkin-November

Month: November

Special Days: 

Favorite Stories: You trying to talk your way out of school issues. Your excuses need some more work, for future reference. I do enjoy watching you try though.

Fabulous Photo:  HAHAHHA What  a joke..Iam lucky to get a photo of you..I wish I had one to put here, but sadly you hate the camera and you tuck tail and run away every time you think I may be even thinking of taking a picture. I reach for my phone and you disappear, You should really think about being a magician. Just saying.

Greatest Quotes:  " Drake's hurt"...something a mother never wants to hear. Luckily in the end he had a broke bone, but all things considered it could have been alot worse and everything worked out. It was the look on your face when you ran in to say it that stopped me in my tracks and I knew it was bad.

2nd Greatest Quote: "Back Scratcher!" You say this just about every time we sit down to watch a show together. Followed with you wiggling your back, just in case  I didn't get the hint.
What has impressed me most about you this month:

Where I hope to see you grow:
You are becoming solitary again. You came out of your shell for a few months and now you are slipping back into it.  I would like to see you a little more social with people and able to carry on a conversation with people you do not know very well instead of it being one sided. The ability to verbally communicate well will take you far in life. Oh yea, and I am still holding out that you except Christ....Just saying, come into the light it wont hurt you.
My Absolute 3 Favorite Thing We Did:  Sadly trying to find 3 fav things this month, especially when I am posting early is impossible my little hermit man. You have been hulled up in your room so secluded from your family that we could easily have forgotten you were there. You come out to eat ~Ich ben hungry~, get your back scratched then you scurry away for the night. its like your a darn cat right now.  My 3 fav things I did with you this month was harass you about not being social and going and doing anything with us! You make it hard to write this post just FYI. Your my munchkin though and I love you just as you are...see arnt I the greatest mom ever! I know right. Anyway munchkin, just having you around and watching you turn into a self efficient man is fantastic all on its own. I love you Matthew.

What I Love Most About my Princess-November

Month:  November

Special Days:  Thanksgiving, homes-schooling, end of volunteering at the zoo, more Christmas play rehearsals, and growing deeper in faith.

Favorite Stories: You complain all the time about how much pressure you are under as the lead in the church play, but every time I turn around you are talking about being in another play, wanting to do a musical, rejoining drama classes and all things theatre. I get such a giggle out of you sometimes. You are adorable and unique and Iam so thankful God has entrusted you to me. You make my life joyful.

Greatest Quotes:  " Can I dye my hair purple and black?" You were flipping through magazines waiting on your brother to get his hair cut and ran across this woman with jet black hair and huge purple streaks and you loved it. My answer was if you can pay for it, sure go ahead. Which you responded with, but you cant afford to give me allowance how Iam I suppose to pay for it? I love it when I get to see those light bulb moments with you;  and your hair is still its natural color. 

Greatest Quote #2: " What can I say, the spot light loves me!" This was in response to all the people praising you for your work on the Christmas play as Taylor in "Dude, you hear what I hear?" You were of course joking, but it was adorable, with your little hair flip and all to add to the sass.

What has impressed me most about you this month:

The attention you give to the kids you are entrusted to watch. You take such good care of the babies at church it blows me away. I sometimes wish you would pay that much attention to your little brother, but I actually understand that one. I am constantly getting praises from others about how attentive you are and how polite and smart you are. Iam flabbergasted at times. You are very good with kids though and you light up when you get to watch them and more so when they see you out in public and come run up for a hug from you. 

 Where I hope to see you grow:

Continuing to study scripture and apply it to your life Also, to see you have a closer relationship with both of your brothers. You are starting to isolate yourself and get annoyed when anyone comes near you. I know that's part of being a teenager, but I don't want to see you miss out on love, friendship and relationships that are right in front of you, with people who are pulling for you and want the best for you.

 My Absolute 3 Favorite Thing We Did

1. Thanksgiving Preperation:
you have already let me know you plan to help me prepare all the food this year, set the table and pray for us. My heart melted. Plus you have been doing all the meal planning as well so I dont have too. You have shown great responsibility and I am loving it!
2. Watching TV shows with you:
Yes, trivial to most I know, but this gives me an opportunity to see how you see things and experience shows through your eyes. What you are finding that support and contradicts your values and morals. It also allows for spiritual mentoring and character development. We really love watching Psych, Melissa & Joey and Switched at Birth together. I keep trying to suck you into Vampire Diaries, but your not hearing it :(
3. Helping with Drake: Normally you are locked up in a room someplace,but ever so often you will creep in and want to help your little brother with school work. You read to him, play "school" with him and teach him about life. Its a beautiful thing to watch. Plus, wiht him being hurt you are more loving and kind to him and he is eating it up. he lloks up to you and wants your undivided attention and he is getting it. You help him iwht his walker and getitng his clothes ready for the day etc.

**This month had to go out early so I can get all my posts toghether to make your special book for you for Chirstmas. Cannot wait to see how each of you react.***

What I Love Most About my Drake Bake-November

Month: November
Special Days:  Hospital visits, training wheels coming off, Thanksgiving, birthday parties and reading your first book!

Favorite Stories: Today 11/7/12, you read your very first book! It was called " Baby" and it was one in a set of 10 early reader books. I was so excited that you could read the words and follow along that I had to record you!!! Which of course got you all excited that I was so excited so you read one more book to me, just to hear me praise you and your reading greatness!

Fabulous Photo:  

Greatest Quotes:  " its ok if its broke just a little bit"  You thought we would be mad at your brother over your foot and this was your way of saying you were ok with it all.
What has impressed me most about you this month:
You are reading! Finally after so much hard work, you are able to read books that have 3 to4 words on a page! I love hearing you breeze through the books and sound out your letters and just listen to you. I am mvery prooud of you.
Where I hope to see you grow: I hope to see you continue to grasp reading and writing your letters. You have made alot of progress, but we have along way to go. You try so hard, but cannot grasp the writing aspect yet, but we are workin in it.

My Absolute 3 Favorite Thing We Did

1. Hair Cut: You got your first big boy haircut that you picked out all by yourself. You did so good and sat really still and listened to everything "Buddy" told you to do. You wanted your hair cut just like Matthews. You look up to him so much and secretly I think he loves it. Afterwards, I took my two boys and my princess to Braums for ice cream. 

2. Hospital Visit: You were getting a ride from your brother on the back of his bike and your foot got caught in the spokes. You guys flipped and you got hurt. The hospital thought your ankle was broke, so they cast it and told me to go to Children's Hospital in the am and have an pediatric orthopedist look at it.  Luckily, it was not broken, just sprained. We had to keep you in the cast for 5 days! You got to ride around in the wheelchair at school because you could not master the crutches. By the end of the first day you were ready to have the cast off and wanted to run though, so you were kinds miserable for a week. :(  Then we had to bring you to Childrens to gte your leg cast and place you on some horrible smelling and tasting meds that cost way too much money.

3. Cuddle Time: Since you have been indisposed for a while, we have got to have lots of cuddle time. You read me your very first book called :Baby and I was so very proud of you. We played the Wii, watched movies and played lots of games, your favorite were the matching games and fishing games.

** November had to be published early so I can combine all the blog posts and make your book in time for Christmas! **

How Do You Deal With Fear?

"God wants us to walk by faith, Satan wants us to walk by fear." By: Joyce Myers

To kick off our 3rd 6 weeks of school our family decided to do a little bible scavenger hunt on a topic we saw Joyce Myeres was getting ready to launch a speaking tour on: FEAR, ANXIETY AND WORRY~OH MY!

We have all had it at some point in our lives. Fear over a new job, education choices, spouses, anxiety over paying bills, kids driving,  kids leaving home , worry over money, relationships, friendships, and so much more. Some of our fears are rational, others not so much. The questions we posed as a family was simple: What does God have to say about fear? How should we respond wen we face trials, uncertainty and come face to face with doubt and fear?

Bible Verses:

I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

Dr. Gary R. Collins, Christian Counseling, offer some general, common sense suggestions for those weighed down with fear, anxiety or worry…
  • SIN IN YOUR LIFE - Sometimes fear and anxiety are the result of one’s own sin and guilt. If you have committed a sin or done anything evil, your fear and anxiety is probably God and your own conscience trying to get your attention. You need to repent, confess your sin, seek God’s forgiveness, and set it right.
  • SLEEP - Humans generally need 8 or 9 hours of sleep per day. Sleep deprivation can increase anxiety. Get enough rest. If you cannot sleep, you may need to seek God’s help and perhaps that of a physician.
  • BE MORE REALISTIC - Many people are worried and anxious about events that will never actually will happen to them. Relax. Focus on today. Take life one day at a time.
  • LISTEN to relaxing, soothing music. There is some great Christian music available that can help you focus on God and leave your fears and worries behind. It may also help to listen to good Christian speakers and teachers.
  • FUN - If at all possible, do something that you enjoy. It is good to get some recreation on a regular basis. Take a break. Get your mind off your fears and worries, and have some fun.
  • TALK to someone. Don’t hold all the anxiety inside. It can be a big relief to share your fears and worries with someone else—a friend, relative, pastor or counselor. If fear and anxiety is an ongoing problem in your life, schedule a regular time each week to talk with someone.
  • TAKE ACTION - If there is something practical and wise that you can do to alleviate the problem or avoid needless danger, take action. Don’t put it off. Procrastination will generally raise your anxiety level.
  • EXERCISE - Medical studies show that exercise can help lower anxiety. If you are healthy enough to exercise, try it. Regular brisk walks, running, swimming or other exercises can be a real stress reducer.
  • PROFESSIONAL HELP - There are various organizations which provide help for people with anxiety attacks, including the Midwest Center for Stress and Anxiety ( which provides self-help. You can search for information and assistance on the Web using keywords such as: anxiety, panic attacks, agoraphobia. You should be able to find local help by consulting you pastor or physician.
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work” (2 Thes. 2:16-17).

Friday, November 9, 2012

Novel Crossing Street Teeam

I just became the newest memeber of  The Novel Crossing Street Team with I am so excited to be a part of this team.

What I really like about this site is it has a  wide range of novels from a lot of the publishers in our industry such as  authors like Katie Ganshert, Becky Wade, James L. Rubart and others talking about their newest books.  The database already has over 10,000 Christian fiction books from numerous publishers.  Another great feature is that you can go in and share your thoughts on books you’re currently reading.   It’s a great way to connect to other book lovers and to keep track of your ideas to post on your blog later!  You can also create your own bookshelf where you can track what you’ve read, what you’re currently reading, and what titles you want to read next. Kind of like your own personal Pinterest for books!

Do you love talking about Christian fiction books and authors? Then you’d be a perfect fit for our Novel Crossing Street Team! Head on over and check them out!

The low down from Novel Crossing website:

" is a website that aims to build a community of Christian fiction readers by becoming the “one-stop-shop” for articles from top Christian fiction authors and others, reviews from readers, popular bloggers and media sources, an extensive database of all Christian fiction titles, a resource for readers to find their next great Christian fiction read, and a community where readers can engage with and discuss Christian fiction.”

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Operation Christmas Child

Every year our church participates in The Shoebox Ministry  aka Operation Christsmas Child, partnering with Samaritans Purse. This is such a fabulous ministry that spreads the love of Christ in a tangible way that these children can really understand.  It not only gives them “things” that can use that are practical, but it lets them know that are people out there in the world that love them, care about them and want them to succeed and grow a close relationship with our creator and Father.  Lets make this Christsmas shine, by showing the light and love of Christ to all the ends of the Earth. Together we can make a difference.
Samaritians Purse is chalked full of resources to help you make this Christmas special for some boy or girl, there are also lists availalbe if you are unsure what to pack:
Drop-Off Locations
Not sure where to take your box during National Collection Week? It's easy to find the nearest collection point by using our location tool. Simply type in your ZIP code to see the closest location to take your lovingly packed shoe box.

Follow Your Box
Want to know what country the child receiving your box is from? When you donate your $7 for shipping online, you'll receive a bar code to print and attach to your box. We'll track your gift, and send an email telling you where in the world it ended up!

No Time? Build A Box Online!
We know life can get pretty busy. But even busy people want to help change a child's life. That's why we've created a process where you can build a box for a boy or girl online. Simply select the gender, age, and hand select specific toys you want to include in the box. We help you personalize it by giving you the opportunity to upload a photo and include a message to your gift recipient. Can't get easier than that! You can also give a family member or friend the opportunity to build a box.

Pledge to Pray
Nothing is more critical to the work of Operation Christmas Child than the prayers of faithful believers. Last year, thousands of people like you prayed for the children receiving the boxes. Please consider joining us during National Collection Week as we pray that God will use each shoe box collected this year for His glory, and that millions of lives will be impacted by the power of a simple gift.


Time4Learning Review

I've been invited to try Time4Learning for one month in exchange for a candid review. My opinion will be entirely my own, so be sure to come back and read about my experience. Time4Learning can be used as a homeschool curriculum, for afterschool enrichment and for summer skill sharpening. Find out how to write your own curriculum review for Time4Learning.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Kindergarten Sight Words Caterpillar

I am always on the hunt for new and creative ideas to help my kids learn. My youngest is having a difficult time with recognizing his letters and words still so that has continued to be our main focus. While pursuing some of my favorite "go to" sites for ideas I came across these lovely little Kindergarten site words from Erica over at Confessions of a Homeschooler . My son was sold on the caterpillar alone. I loved all seeing so many of the words we have been practicing all year mixed in with some new ones!

At first I was trying to be very structured and rigid with teaching words and letter recognition, but realized quickly that my son simply did not learn well this well at all. With him everything has to be a game and fun or it simply does not stick and I loose his attention. All he wants was for learning to be fun. Sometimes I get so caught up in the "learning" process, I forget to let them learn on their terms and not mine! So I decided to make a game of it instead.

My little man loves matching games and hide and seek games and the like so I figured the best way to get him to learn and not realize it was to make it a fun, light mystery game.

We flipped all the cards over, except for the caterpillar head. Then we each took  turns drawing one card each and adding it to the body.  After we got a few cards down and we went over the words a couple of times, I realized he was getting a little side tracked. It was all too soon time for more creative thinking on my part. So I decided to try and make a funny story out of the mystery words we flipped over.  Drizzle would pick a card from the pile and add it to the caterpillar and then make up a sentence using that word. Then it was my turn  to do the same thing. After a little while we added to the game to keep the fun rolling and I had to make a sentence using his word and mine, all the way down the caterpillar body. We did this for about 8 cards then stated over. If we drew out a color card only we had to work that color into our sentence.

He had a blast and learned some new words in the process and I didn't stress myself out. A two for one deal! yeah. :)    Sometimes I find it amazing how easily he can learn and enjoy himself if I don't  get in the way and try and force learning on him. Afterwards he felt so proud of himself for his accomplishments and was on cloud nine the rest of the night.   The power of the game!   

 I would love to hear any great game ideas that you use to make learning more enjoyable. What has worked and what has been a complete flop with your kiddos?

My little man trying to decide on the perfect card to pick

Thanksgiving Traditions

Every year our family celebrates Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November.Many families have their own traditions that they follow each year. Our family is no different.

One of the best things about Thanksgiving is spending time with family. My family lives mainly in Minnesota and therefore we like to pack up the natives and either drive or fly up north to visit my family at least every other year. Anyone who has ever traveled with small kids knows that this is a feat within itself and requires lots of planning, packing and repacking. One of the joys of the holiday.

The Grub..hhmmm I mean... Feast :)
We pretty much stick with ttraditional foods here include turkey, stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, cornbread, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce, tons and tons of cranberry sauce actually. We LOVE the stuff~!Lets not forget the pie's though: pumpkin, pecan, sweet potato, and apple oh my! The last 2 years have been a little different though in adding to our traditions. We have some family members who have gone vegan and that has been a challenge for some of us...not me, since I am one of the vegetarians in the house, but the rest, lets just say find it "undesirable".  You know vegetables and fruits there so terrible. lol
The Wishbone

Oh we fight over this one! The breaking of the turkey's wishbone is something we all love to do. Tisk Tisk I know, I know, so hypocritical of me, but hey I still enjoy it. You neverr  know one year I may win and we will all have world peace by my definition of course, not couldn't resist sorry.

Helping Others
Our local church body has a couple that operates a non-profit called Our Calling, and they are dedicated to helping serve the homeless in Dallas, physically, emotionally, but more importantly spiritually. One way they do this is by hosting an annual Thanksgiving dinner for the homeless. Our family has not participated in it, but this year we plan to start.  We also do canned food drives and the like to help out others families. We have been those other families before and have a desire to help when we can.

We adore watching the New York City Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and of course FOOTBALL!! Just saying

Tossing the Pig Skin!
Football, football and more football. A family favorite in our home after we have all ate so much we can hardly move, is to toss the football around and "attempt" a go at a scrimmage game. None of us can play worth a flip, but we love just hanging out and smack talking and having some old fashioned family fun that everyone can play. If we are not playing football, we are normally playing baseball. We love our sports.

Fast Facts- (taken from the national geographic kids magazine, which my 2 younger ones adore)
  • The largest pumpkin pie ever made weighed 2,020 pounds (916.25 kilograms).
  • A ripe cranberry will bounce.
  • All turkeys and chickens have wishbones.
  • Canadians celebrate their own Thanksgiving every October.
  • Abraham Lincoln declared a national day of Thanksgiving in 1863.
  • The first Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was held in 1924.

So what are your Thanksgiving traditions?  I would love to hear abou them, who knows maybe we have some in common.

Sports Injuries

Tennis Injury Handbook

Sports injuries-If you have ever played a sport you have undoubtedly suffered through on of the great bragging moments of a sports injury. Painful, unyielding and yet somehow they cause bragging rights and an insane amount of attention not only with the younger kids, but adults too are fascinated with all the facts and marginal lies surrounding injuries. We cannot seem to get enough. 

This last week, my youngest son went through the same thing. OK admittedly his was not a "sports" injury, but an unfortunate event. My little man got his ankle caught in the spoke of his bike, causing a major sprain. He ended up in a splint for the week and then he has to keep his ankle ace wrapped for another 3-4 weeks. It was kinds ironic that I harp on my kids to wear helmets, knee and elbow pads to prevent accidents, but inevitably there is always an injury waiting to happen that you simply cannot account for. One of the many joys of parenting I suppose.  However, it did lead us into the topic of injuries:common injuries in each sport, how to prevent them, treat them and a better understanding of how intricate the human body is and how each system has its own function and a combined one.

I had each of my kids look at the following sports: baseball, running, hockey, football, cricket, soccer, bicycling and gymnastics. The each wrote down what they thought would be the most common injuries that would be suffered in each sport, what body parts it involved and how they thought they would be treated. Afterwards, I had them each Google their topics and see how it compared to leading websites opinions.

Most common type of injuries in all sports results my kids found:

1. Muscle Pulls: There is little you can be done to prevent a muscle pull except to stay limber and work your muscles regularly.A muscle pulls when a sudden, severe force is applied to the muscle and the fibers are stretched beyond their capacity. If only some of the fibers tear, that is a muscle pull. If most of the fibers tear, that is a muscle tear. Treatment: Streatching and knowing when to stop working a muscle. Resting muscle groups inbetween days.
2. Neck Pain: Inability to look one direction when turning your neck from side to side due to excessive pain. Treatment:  apply ice for 20 minutes at a time and gently stretch the neck. Sit in a chair and hold onto the seat with the hand on the painful side of your neck. Bend your trunk and head to the opposite side. Hold the stretch for 20 seconds. Or gently drop your chin to your chest and move the chin in a semicircle from shoulder to shoulder five times. The same exercises can strengthen the neck and prevent pain.
3. Shoulder impingement: caused by rotator cuff muscles being stretched out after prolonged use, causing tendons to be inflammedTreatments:  Physical therapy, ultrasound, moist heat and electrical muscle stimulation.
4. Lower Back Strain: twisting awkwardly, lifting a heavy weight or doing some unpracticed activity. Virtually all lower back injuries are due to weak or tense muscles or muscle strain. Treatment:  Rest for a few days and take medication such as aspirin or other anti-inflammatory agents. Ice the back for 20 minutes at a time for as long as the pain persists or call MD
5. Tennis Elbow: inflammation of the muscles of the forearm and the tendon that connects the muscles to the bones in the elbow. Treatment: learning proper form- normally this is in tennis players and golfers more than anyone.
6. Runners Knee: misalignment of the kneecap in its groove, causes both the cartilage on the side of the groove and the cartilage on the back of the kneecap to wear out. On occasion, fluid will build up and cause swelling in the knee. Treatment involves strengthening the quadriceps muscle

7.Shin Splints: Shin splints are pains in the muscles near the shin bones. They can be caused by running or jumping on hard surfaces or simply overuse. They occur most often in people unaccustomed to training. Treatment:  arch supports, start exercising slowly to warm up the leg muscles, wear athletic shoes with good support and run on a softer surface, for example, changing from asphalt to grass every few runs.

8. Ankle Sprains: The most common ankle sprain happens when the foot rolls to the outside and sprains the ligaments on the outside of the ankle. The outside of the ankle swells up and throbs, and may turn black and blue around the injury. Treatment: The tried-and-true treatment for an any ankle sprain is RICE: Rest, Ice, Elevation and Compression. The goal is to limit internal bleeding and cut down on swelling-This is what my son is doing right at this moment and its driving him BONKERS!! :)
9. Arch Pain :  over-stretching or partially tearing the arch pad. This happens most often to people with rigid, high arches. Tratment: arch supports most common treatment we could find.
Of course this list is just a small sample of injuries, treatment and you should always seek professional advise and not self diagnos and treat when in question. We gatghered our info from a lot of differntsites, but there favorite was the Mayo Clinic because of the cool videos on surgeries related to sports injuries- very graphic so be mindful when watching with younger kids!

So what kind of injruies have you suffered in your family? Do you use traditional methods to treat or home remedies? I would love to hear your comments!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action

Unstoppable: The Incredible Power of Faith in Action
By Nick Vujicic 

From the Book:“Being Unstoppable is about believing and achieving. It’s about having faith in yourself, your talents, your purpose, and most of all in God's great love and His divine plan for your life. Millions around the world recognize the smiling face and inspirational message of Nick Vujicic. Despite being born without arms or legs, Nick's challenges have not kept him from enjoying great adventures, a fulfilling and meaning career, and loving relationships. Nick has overcome trials and hardships by focusing on the promises that he was created for a unique and specific purpose that his life has value and is a gift to others, and that no matter the despair and hard times in life God is always present. Nick credits his success in life to the power that is unleashed when faith takes action. But how does that happen? In Unstoppable, Nick addresses adversity and difficult circumstances that many people face today.”

About the Author

Nick Vujicic is a motivational speaker and the director of the nonprofit organization Life Without Limbs. Nick regularly does speaking engagements to large crowds about overcoming obstacles and achieving dreams. A longtime resident of Australia he now lives in Southern California with his wife Kanae. 

My Review

This was a hard book to read, not because of how it is written, but because of the content and how personal the stories are and how deeply they effect you both emotionally and spiritually.  Nick builds those stories into his message of "unstoppable" and how his faith has gotten him through some horrific situations as well as how his faith has helped so many others get through their dark moments in their lives.  The stories that are told make you stop and attempt to put yourself into these situations and wonder if your faith is strong enough that you could still give all glory and honor to God in the midst of these trying times. Even if you don't have strong faith, the messages Nick relays are often that of determination, communication and understanding, something we all can relate to across the board.

Nick is a really funny guy full of a joyful spirit that shines through in his writings.  He's genuine, sincere, and inspiring, and just an all around amazing human being. Obviously, this book is filled with hope, survival, loss, faith but more than that it is a book of love, determination and dedication to God. I would recommend this book to anyone who has or is encountering some struggles in their lives. 

Overall I would recommend this book to adult readers. Although, inspiration the book does discuss several topics that may be too overwhelming for a younger audience to understand such as suicide, drugs, sexuality and the like. The only negative thing I would say about his book is it seemed to go off topic several times, and also seemed to be very repetitive at times. Overall, though, very encouraging book.

How do you respond to adversity? What can you to do help yourself respond better? You can leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

What I Love Most About Matthew-October

Month: October

Special Days: Skateboarding, movies, hanging out and watching you grow!

Favorite Stories: Has to be the reason you gave me for skipping school. I drop you off at school in the am and go to work. I come home, unexpectedly, for lunch, and behold there you and Jacob are sitting in your room playing video games. When I ask why you are home, you tell me because Jacob was sick. So I am like OK Jacob is sick, why are you home? You start to lie and tell me you were feeling sick to, but then half way through change your mind and say because he had no place else to go and I didn't feel like going to school because I hate my English teacher. You then ask me to call you in sick, which I refuse, which leads into how school is useless and pointless and how you just need to drop out and get your GED because school is a waste and you hate your English teacher and you don't need calculus in the real world. Cases like this I love to sit back and let natural consequences take over. The sad thing is you only go to school till 2 anyway.

Fabulous Photo:  

Greatest Quotes:  " Schools not important, I'll just drop out and get me GED." This from my high school senior that only needs 2 classes to graduate. My for the GED with your own money, pass the test, get accepted into a college, then feel free to drop out of high school." Needless to say you are still in school :)
What has impressed me most about you this month:
You are coming around in expressing yourself verbally more and not holding it all in. You are gradually coming out of your shell and putting yourself out there just a little bit more than you were at the start of the year. You are growing out of video games and wanting to get a job and be able to live on your own soon and to be your own man!
Where I hope to see you grow:
You try and manipulate. I hate it, but except that every child at some point in life attempt to do this.It drives me crazy though. I have to pick and choose which ones I call you out on and which ones I let you think you got away with. Normally they are over school issues and me catching you skipping when you were suppose to be at school. I love listening to the excuses you give me for why you are not there. ALWAYS your friend is with you. So this month I would definitely want to see you grow in the honesty department. Your word is something you never want to loose. You want others to know you are a man of great character and that when you say you will do something or be someplace that is exactly what you will be doing and where you will be. The last thing you want is for people to be looking at what you are not saying instead of what you are saying. Meaning, you want your yes to be yes, your no to be no and not have people looking for what you are leaving out and trying to cover up or leave out of a conversation. Basically I want and desire for you to be a man of your word.
My Absolute 3 Favorite Thing We Did:  

1.Looking at stupid/funny pictures together: Although its highly inappropriate my favorite one had to be the one about the guy sits wearing a hoodie and dark glasses at the park and another guy walks up to him and asks "which kid is yours?" and the guy responds with " I don't know yet, haven't made up my mind."
2. Skate park: Finally we tracked down a skate park for you to go practice your mad skills at and you had a great time. You talked me into to "attempting' to drop in and had the whole park watching and waiting. Needless to say I could not do it and fell on my backside, but hey it was fun.

3. Our conversations:  I love sitting around talking to you about what you think. That's it. I just love listening to what is going on in that mind of yours. It gives me great insight on how to deal with issues when they arise and were your morals and purpose lies. We have held numerous conversations over God and religion, school, music, movies, family life, dating, relationships and the like. I just really enjoy getting to know you better and what makes my munchkin tick at this stage in your life.

What I Love Most About Drake-October

Month: October

Special Days: Your birthday, first sleep over, end of fall ball, AWANA, Christmas play rehearsals and so much more.

Favorite Stories: You got your very first sleep over this month! Your best buddy Jace stayed the night and the two of you stayed up till midnight playing baseball, football, the Wii and just having a great time. Then you two little ruffians were up at 5am ready to go again! You plum tuckered me out for sure. I wanted a nap by the time Jace went home and you were so sad he could not just stay again.

Fabulous Photo: 

Greatest Quotes:  "That's so lame" I am not even sure were you picked this one up. We were talking about going to get your sister from youth group and I realized we were leaving an hour early and you respond with " that's so lame they are not ready" 

What has impressed me most about you this month:
The way you pray! You talk to Jesus like he is right there in front of you asking you how everything is going and you are pouring your little heart out to him. There are time you are VERY long winded and I want to tell you to wrap it up, but I know you need encouragement and so I let you go on. You have thanked God for the birds, grass, clouds, rain, the animals of the world. your animals( and you list them separately) your sister, brothers, me and dad, your grandparents, friends, and then you pray for everyone of the above, along with the sick and hurting, the homeless, the friend less and the list goes on and on in one night!! You love to pray and will remind me if I forget. I have truly been blessed with a little boy with such a great love and zeal for the Lord.
Where I hope to see you grow:Temper, temper, still have a short fuse and an inability to control your emotions in a positive manner. Its a work in progress and something mommy prays for you on.  You are my little control freak and cannot stand if someone says something or does something other than your way. You can drive us all bonkers then turn around and hug and kiss all over us in the same 10 seconds..You keep us all on your toes,but I truly wish you had more self control.

My Absolute 3 Favorite Thing We Did

1. State Fair of Texas: Making pottery, riding the rides, walking around and taking in the sites and just enjoying life and the day. It was a beautiful day and we had such a great time as a family. Sadly, the next night Big Tex burned to the ground, but it was your first time to see him and hear him talk and you adored every second of it!

2. Birthday! We celebrated my little man's 6th b day at the Gentle Zoo in Forney. Almost all your  friends came out to celebrate with you and you had an amazing time.

3. Science & Math day at the Zoo: We didn't even know this was going on till we dropped your sister off for her volunteer shift and you got so excited that we decided to stay and have some good ol' educational fun! You ran from booth to booth so excited to learn something new that I was blown away. After you had done every booth you went back and did them all again for a different grade level. All the while its pouring down rain, we have no umbrella and are soaked to the bone. Excellent day!

Drizzles 2nd 6 weeks of Kindergarten

The  last 6 weeks you were able to recognize 6 upper case letters out of 26 and 3 of the lower case ones. This 2nd 6 weeks you are up to 8 upper case letters and 7 lowercase letter! GO TEAM DRAKE!!!

Word Wall Words: 

my, we, see, to, who, will, see, go, you, yes, with, I

  • features of Fiction and nonfiction

Phonological Awareness:
  • syllables
  • rhyming
  • hearing letter sounds, focus on letters /d/, /k/, /f/, /o/
Phonics and Grammar
  • letters Dd, Kk, Ff, Oo
Amazing Words/Oral Language
  • glad, afraid, proud, angry, worried, confused, surprised, nongiction, visual features, text features, labels, captions, photographs
  • attributes of shapes
  • using time to describe, compare, and order events and situations
  • compare events according to duration such as more time than less time tan
  • locations and spatial reasoning( top, middle, before, after, and between)

Science and Social Studies
  • changing colors
  • jobs in the dcommunity-People have jobs to earn money to meet their basic needs
  • Voting-coting in important in a democratic society
Bible/Character Development
  • Awana- John 3:16
  • 2 Timothy 2:15 "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth."
Physical Education: You just ended playing fall ball this 6 weeks and so I decided to talk to you some about the bones that you use when playing baseball and why they are important and how they function separately and together. We talked about how when you are born you have over 300 bones in your body and as you grow some of those bones fuse  (combine) together and when you reach adulthood you have 206 bones.To show this in terms he could better understand  we got out 300 logos then we connected 94 of them to other lego pieces making objects. AS we worked  I talked about different bones that fuse and he would point to were those bones were at on him. It was a good picture for him to be able to use. I then let him trace his body on a huge sheet of paper and we drew in his arm bones and leg bones and colored each bone a different color. We then went on to talk about typical sports injuries from baseball in your arms, knees, rotator cuff, etc and how to prevent them with proper body mechanics, stretching, healthy diet etc.

Bones  in your legs:
Bones  in your arms:
Sentence we have been working on:

 I am a boy. I am smart! God loves Drake.
Working in our ABC book daily (recognize letter, sounds and word picture associated with letter.

Website: , tumble-books, and Reading Eggs

What I Love Most About Delaney-October

Month: October

Special Days: State Fair, church outings, cuddling up, playing ball.

Favorite Stories: Well this month we had a little bit of a change up. We got to keep a foreign exchange student from Korea, Soul, for the weekend for another host parent who had some serious plumbing issues. She was 15 and you were so excited to get to have another girl in the house. Sadly, it was not what your imagination saw. She was reserved and very shy. She basically sat on the couch all weekend and listened oto her music and talked to her friends on her I phone. So you may ask why did this make for my favorite story this month?
Its the way you handled the situation. You were a very good host and made sure you offered her drinks, food, and the option of doing things with you and our family. You did your best to include her all weekend!That took courage for you to step outside your comfort zone and speak to someone who barley spoke your language and you did not speak hers. You got to use your hosting skills and you did wonderful. I was incredibly proud of you baby girl.

Fabulous Photo:  

Greatest Quotes: "Cause, is not an answer" You were talking to your friend on the phone and you must have asked him a question and he responded with "cause" and you went off on your tangent..too adorable. I use to have to say this to you all the time when you were growing up and now you use it on your friends. I had to try VERY hard not to laugh.

What has impressed me most about you this month:I have loved watching you grow more confident and self assured. You show tremendous love for others and have a helpful and kind spirit to you.

Where I hope to see you grow:
I would love to see you wanting to study Gods word, pray and be more open with your faith at home. You started a prayer journal with youth group, but you have only rote in it one time since you got it at the beginning of the month. I want you not to be ashamed or embarrassed about your faith and to make it your own, always seeking to grow and become closer to the Lord no matter what anyone says or thinks about it.

 My Absolute 3 Favorite Thing We Did
1. Zoo Training/Volunteer work- This is great preparation for helping you build the foundation of your animal rescue business you want to start when you are older. You complain about it some days, but you are learning alot and it is important to see how things are run from the ground up.
2. State Fair: pottery making, glass blowing, carnival rides, walks...need I say more?
3. Halloween: Cheesy I know, but its my favorite holiday- getting dressed up and watching you get scared and the like, its good clean fun and I adore it.
4. Christmas Play Rehearsals: "Dude, Did you hear what I hear?" You are the lead, Taylor, and get to share the gospel message to everyone. I love it!
5. Making Monsters- Monster Halloween Candy boxes that is! We went to Lowes and had a blast making our little boxes together to place all our trick or treating goodies into.