Our Family

Our Family

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: An Amish Second Christmas

Book Description 

 "Celebrate Second Christmas, a treasured, lighthearted time of community, with four Amish romances.

 “When Christmas Comes Again” by Beth Wiseman
 Katherine knows the first Christmas without Elias will be hard for her and the children. But when a mysterious Englischer appears with photographs of her late husband, Katherine begins to wonder what other blessings Christmas could have in store.

 “Her Christmas Pen Pal” by Ruth Reid
 Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman. But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast. 

“A Gift for Anne Marie” by Kathleen Fuller
 Anne Marie and Nathaniel have been best friends since they were kids. Now things are evolving . . . in ways everyone else predicted long ago. But when her mother suddenly decides to remarry in another state, Anne Marie’s new chapter with Nathaniel looks doomed to end before it begins.

 “The Christmas Aprons” by Tricia Goyer
 Vanilla crumb pie has been Esther’s mem’s calling card for decades. But when Esther finally gets her hands on the secret recipe, she discovers that vanilla crumb pie is more than just dessert . . . it’s bachelor bait.

An Amish Second Christmas contains 4 novellas from 4 talented authors.  As the name implies, Amish families celebrate two Christmases and the main part of each of these stories takes place on Second Christmas.  Each of the stories have a bit of sadness in them, but the main focus is on hope, joy, and of course romance popping up in unexpected places.  Sometimes God's blessings are not what we expect and always God will bring something good out of everything.

I thought the stories would be a bit more connected to each other.  Usually in these novellas, there are mentions of similar characters in each one and I didn't really notice that here.  But each story makes a great stand alone novel and there are intertwined by the Second Christmas theme.  My favorite story of the four was Tricia Goyer's The Christmas Aprons.  I started out really enjoying When Christmas Comes Again, as it had a very different plot from most Amish romance novels, but I have to admit I did not like the unanswered questions at the end.  A Gift For Anne Marie was a bit confusing to me. It contained characters with some of the same names and several details in An Amish Christmas, A Choice to Forgive, (too many to be a coincidence) but it was written by a different author, and a few of the names and several important details were different.  Her Christmas Pen Pal was a great story with love showing up in an unexpected way, but I have read a similar story by a different author.

Overall, I very much enjoyed reading An Amish Second Christmas.  It will be a great holiday read this year.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation and all opinions are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance to FTC regulations.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Quick and Easy Fall/Halloween Dessert

Looking for a quick and easy Fall/Halloween dessert?  I made this the other day and not only was it quick and easy, it was pretty inexpensive (around $4) and the kids LOVED it!

Halloween Cake and Oreo Bars

1 pkg Halloween Oreos
1 pkg Halloween Funfetti Cake Mix
1 egg
1/4 cup oil
1/4 cup milk

Spray a 9x9 baking dish with no stick cooking spray.  Line the dish with oreo's.  Mix cake mix, egg, oil, and milk together.  This mixture will be very thick.  Spread it across the oreos (I used my hands to do this.)  Crush remaining oreos and sprinkle over top.  Bake at 350 for 20 to 25 min, cool, cut, and serve.

I found the original recipe here.

Happy Homeschooling!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Schoolhouse Crew Review: Clued In Kids

Doesn't a treasure hunt sound like fun?  We recently had an opportunity to use and review two different hunts from Clued In Kids: Halloween Treasure Hunt (printable) and Soccer Treasure Hunt (printable.)

Clued In KidsReview
Clued in Kids offers a variety of both printable and physical hunts that can be used by a variety of ages.  Most can be used by children ages 4 and up.  Teens can coordinate the hunts for their younger siblings, or they can use them together making it a great product for families or different kinds of group activities (church, 4 H, scouts, birthday parties, etc..)  The hunts promote teamwork as well as having children use skills such as reading, math, logic, and social studies.  
Clued In KidsReview
The hunts take less than 10 minutes to set up.  Then the children are given the first clue.  On that clue there may be a riddle, scrambled words, word puzzle, math activity, or other activity that will tell the location of the next clue when the children solve it.  Once they get to the next clue, the process continues.  A few of the clues are not hidden but kept with the hunt coordinator to give to the children after they do a specific assignment (for our soccer hunt it was dribbling a soccer ball while saying woo, woo.)  Once the children figure out the last clue, it tells them the location of the treasure.  The treasure can be whatever the coordinator wants it to be.  I bought $1 six packs of small candy bars for my children's treasures, but things like stickers, pencils, small toys, or if you were doing a birthday party little gift bags would be fun too.
Clued In KidsReview
The printable hunts that I received are $5.99 each.  Both of them are for children ages 4 and up.  They come in PDF format and simply have to be printed out, cut apart, and hidden.  Clued in Kids also offers some printed hunts as well that cost $8.99, hunts that come in a gift card for $9.95, and other options as well. The hunts the Crew reviewed include:


Nutrition Themed
Happy Tummy Treasure Hunt
Gluten Free Treasure Hunt

Educational Related
Homework Reward Treasure Hunt
Multiplication Dragons

Soccer Treasure Hunt
Baseball Treasure Hunt

Clue Pad Products (physical)
Christmas Treasure Hunt in a Greeting Card
Slumber Party

Plus there are many, many more available!

I used the Clued In Kids hunts with my 3,5,7,9, 11, and 12 year olds.  As I noted above, I received the Halloween and Soccer printable hunts.  I printed them first on my black and white printer to save on ink, but it just didn't look that good in black and white.  So, I went ahead and printed it in color.  I grabbed some $1 candy snacks for prizes, cut the cards apart and it only took a few minutes for me to set up the hunts.

Since we were in the middle of soccer season, we did the soccer one first.  I followed them around and took lots of pictures. 

When they did the Halloween hunt, I had some things I needed to do, so I hid the clues and set them free to do it on their own.

I found the hunts were very easy to set up, and also easy to modify if necessary.  For example, one of our clues were supposed to be hidden with napkins.  We do not use napkins so I hid it with paper towels instead and just told the children when they solved the puzzle for that clue.  There was a great variety of the activities involved in solving each clue.  I love the different themes that Clued In Kids carries, and that an answer key is included with each hunt.  

The children thought the hunts were great!  They were very excited to do both of them and asked when they could do it again.  They did a good job working together and taking turns finding the clues, and of course they loved the treasure at the end!

Having such a wide age range in our family was very beneficial because the older boys could solve the puzzles for the younger children, but if you had a group of younger age children, an adult would have to help them with some of it,  I think the math puzzles were the most difficult.  

We did have trouble with one clue in the Halloween hunt.  There is one that is a picture that you have to locate a household object in.  Even knowing what I was looking for did not help me find it.  None of the children could find it either.  I think it needs to be a bit more obvious.  Luckily the key gives the answers and I just told the children where the next clue was.

To see what my Crew Mates had to say, click on the banner below.  
Click to read Crew Reviews

Monday, October 27, 2014

Don't Feel Sorry For Me

My main purposes for this blog is to support and encourage parents, especially homeschoolers, and record our homeschooling journey.  Along the way I also share recipes and of course product reviews.  Sometimes though, the blog just serves as a good way for me to vent and share my thoughts about things that happen in my life.  This is one such post.

I din't know about you, but Sunday mornings tend to be my hardest day of the week.  Sometimes it is pure chaos around here getting 7 children up, fed, and out the door fully clothed in something that doesn't look like the rolled around in the back yard.  "Mom, I can'y find my....." is a very popular phrase.  Mornings are usually a challenge for us to go places for other reasons as well.  Plus I teach Sunday School and have to be at church early and I do not do late.  Really.  I cannot stand to be late and do everything I can to be somewhere on time.  It just feels like Sunday mornings Satan is doing all he can to try and keep us from church and it can be difficult just to get there.

So we get out the door on time.  Everyone is clothed and even the baby has shoes.  Of course she was the last one up and barely touched her breakfast but that's ok, a few donuts once a week for the child that doesn't normally eat sweets will work just fine for breakfast.  We get to church and start heading in, pausing for a gentlemen pushing his mother in a wheel chair that Christian holds the door open for and we make our way over to the donut table.

I am stopped on the way by an elderly gentleman that goes to my church.  I say good morning and he says, " I feel sorry for you."

I said, "I'm sorry?"

"I watch you with all those kids and you do a good job keeping control of them, but I feel sorry for you having all those children."

I stood there for a second  Stunned.  Speechless.  And then said, "Don't feel sorry for me.  I would have a dozen more if I could."  Then I turned, got the baby her donuts and headed over to greet my little preschoolers.  My children, by the way, heard what he said.

Over the years , we have heard a lot of nasty, rude, and hurtful comments from people.  But the sad part is that most of those comments have not come from strangers on the street, but from family, friends, and members of our church.  And that actually is so much more hurtful than when it comes from strangers.  And honestly, most of the time they don't think there is anything wrong with what they've said and that it is completely acceptable.

It saddens me to think that that is what someone thinks of when they look at my family.  That you cold look at those beautiful, wonderful, amazing children and the first thing you think of is to feel sorry for the parents.  I don't expect people to really understand or comprehend how I feel about children.  I don't expect them to know first hand what God taught me about the miracle of life and how precious it is through fertility issues and the sudden and tragic loss of my brother.  I don't expect people to understand the amazing capacity of love for children that God has given me that makes my heart just overflow.  Or that I stand in amazement every single day that God chose me to be the mother of these precious children.  But, as Christians maybe we should have an understanding of what the Bible has to say about children.  Let's look at a few verses.

Psalm 127:3-5 "Children are a heritage from the Lord, offspring a reward from him. 4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are children born in one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them. They will not be put to shame when they contend with their opponents in court."

Psalm 139 13-16 "For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.[a] Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."

James 1:17-"Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows."

Genesis 1:28 "God blessed them and said to them, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground."

Matthew 18:10 ""See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven."

Matthew 19:14 "Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

There is no recipe for the perfect size family.  I would never tell someone I felt sorry for them because they have no children, or one child, or two.  Some people choose to not have children, others choose to have only one or two.  Some choose to have as many as God sees fit to give them.  That decision is between the family and God.

Don't feel sorry for me.  Raising children is hard and is a ton of work, but it is also an amazing blessing. I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world.  If there are people we should feel sorry for in regards to children,  let's think about those who don't value children and the results of those feelings.  Millions of babies are murdered through abortion every year.  Children are abused and neglected every day.  Parents abandon their children. Orphanages and the foster care system overflow.

Now, I've got a snuggly 3 year old who has just woken up and I am going to take advantage of those snuggles for as long as she is willing to give them.

Happy Homeschooling!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Homeschool Wrap Up Week 10

*this post contains affiliate links

Can you believe it is almost November?  I sure can't.  The school year is going by so quickly, but I suppose it always does.  We had a short week since we took half of Thursday off to go play at a friend's house.

Week 10 in Our Homeschool

Bible: We finished up Purposeful Design and went back to What On Earth Can I Do?  We had some really good discussions to go along with what we were reading about protecting your eyes from seeing things they shouldn't and the importance of watching what you say to people "keep your tongue from evil."

History: We completed lessons 19-21 in Mystery of History Volume III.  Our lessons were on Cortes and Pizzaro Conquistadors of Spain, Ferdinand Magellan Sails West, and Martin Luther and the spread of the Protestant Reformation.  We added timeline figures to our timeline, made memory cards, and did the mapping assignments.

Science: We only had one day of Exploring Creation with Chemistry and Physics since I loaned the book to a friend for a few days so she could look over it.  We did do two experiments about the first law of motion.  We also did another lesson of Fascinating Chemistry.

Spelling: Alex did not do spelling this week since we were working on chinese.  Anthony and Christian did some review.  They are doing well spelling the words as we are doing them, both in writing and aloud.  But we are still struggling with recognizing the words in our reading.  We can just finish the lesson and have a corresponding reading lesson with the words and they won't recognize them.  I am thinking that I may get the All About Reading Level 2 workbook and teacher's guide to work on some fluency exercises.  That may help their reading along a bit better.

Language: Alex finished lesson 3 of Chinese and Nick finished lesson 34 of Visual Latin.  Next week we are setting those aside and will be working on a new product from Compass Classroom called Word Up!  That teaches Latin and Greek root words.

Literature/Writing/Grammar-Christian has been reading Grandfather's Journey for Lightning Lit and completed the workbook exercises.  He also started a composition comparing and contrasting it to the book Umbrella.  Anthony has started reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, which he loves so far.  Nick and Alex completed lesson 9 of Fix it! Grammar and are working on lesson 8 of IEW Medieval History.

Math - Nick and Alex finished lesson 10 of their books (Pre-Algebra) and Delta.  Christian and Anthony finished lesson 9 of their books (Beta and Gamma.)

My Father's World Creation From A to Z

This week we started on the nest unit.  In this unit Lily is learning about different types of animal homes, with a focus on nests.  The Bible lesson focuses on God taking care of us.  We are also learning the number 5 and the letter "n."  So far this week we have done a picture box activity of the letter n, written the letter n in salt,  She also did a letter worksheet of the letter n, a picture page choosing words that start with n, a math page that she had to put a certain number of eggs in a nest, a worksheet that she had to choose the correct beginning letter of 6 words, and an activity matching the correct animal to the correct habitat.  We also researched different types of bird nests and looked at pictures of them online, and we made an edible nest out of pretzels, peanut butter, and chocolate chips.  I had some cute pictures of the nests but apparently deleted them off of my phone before I uploaded them :(  (we don't want to talk about the fact that my camera is broken...again)

Other Activities this Week:

The older boys finished their soccer season this week.

Christian is still playing.  We had soccer Monday.  Lily had gymnastics on Tuesday.

Thursday we had a play date at a friend's house, a 4 H meeting, and a soccer game.  With so many activities planned we decided to use our Pizza Hut Book It coupons for supper and I got a large cheese pizza for the other 3 children to eat.  Friday we had a field trip to Crater of Diamonds State Park.  Saturday our local library did a program.  They had stories, crafts, games, and refreshments. The children had a great time!

The bunnies turned 3 weeks old this week.  They are getting really fat!

The kittens have made themselves quite at home at our house.

Christian and Anthony won a writing contest from Hewitt Homeschooling.  Christian wrote a composition on Duck Billed Platypuses and Anthony wrote one about having an allergic reaction to the rabbits.  They won $25 and a set of 9 books.  They were so excited!

I hope you had a great week in your homeschool!

* the links in this post are my affiliate links.  I only form affiliate relationships with companies whose products I actually use and can recommend!