Monday, August 29, 2011

First Ever TOS Crew Blog Hop

Crew Blog HopA little late in the game, but I'm catching the tail end of the TOS Crew Blog Hop.  You may recall that I am reviewing products this year as a part of The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew.  In fact, be on the lookout for my first review this week. 

I encourage you to click the button and check out some of the blogs linked up.  You'll get some great homeschool ideas, inspiration, encouragement, and even a few laughs.  Link your blog up as well!  Anyone can participate - not just TOS Crewbies.  It's just a great way to connect with others.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Going to Kentucky (State Fair that is!)

This week, I chose to teach both my CHIL music classes the singing game "Going to Kentucky."  The lyrics are:
We're going to Kentucky
we're going to the fair
to see the senorita
with flowers in her hair

Oh, shake it baby, shake it,
shake it all you can
shake it like a milkshake
and drink it from a can

Oh, rumble to the bottom
rumble to the top
then turn around and turn around
until you make a STOP!

While we had a super time in class, my kiddos were ecstatic at the actual Kentucky State Fair.  At the invitation of good friends, we enjoyed this first experience together.  Jeremiah asked, "What's a fair?"  Exhausted after a tiring Tuesday, all the kids had quite an answer.  Apparently, it encompasses animals, cute baby ducks, lots of sheep and pigs, dogs doing tricks and catching Frisbees, a dive show, tractors, putt-putt golf, photo ops, coloring a large mural, a robotic dog in a small motorized police car, a TARC bus, fruits, vegetables, cakes, Christmas trees, quilts, a giant inflatable colon complete with polyps (ewww!), health screenings, Abraham Lincoln, the Fair Bear, a magician, Bobaloo, bubbles, stinky socks, drum sticks beating on 5-gallon buckets, icecream, and exorbitantly over-priced but oh-so-fabulous fried fair food.  Yep - that about sums it up!

Thanks Melissa and McKenzie!  We had a terrific day.  The kids are already plotting and planning what they can enter in the fair next year.  McKenzie's prize-winning pumpkin is quite motivating :-)  Although I just learned today that the kiddos Papaw has some fair experience as well... 4-H Coffee Can Canisters and FFA Welding.  Maybe I should put Papaw in charge of next year's projects?  Let's just hold off on the welding for a few years!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

While Mom's Away...

While Mom's away, the kids will play at MAMAW & PAPAW's house.  Oh yes, this is always beyond exciting!  The kids LOVE spending the night.  Because of my early Friday morning departure, I took the kids to my parents Thursday night.  Translation:  BONUS! Two overnight stays for the little ones.

What exciting stuff did they do while I was gone?  Paint, play outside, play cars, trucks, baby dolls, blocks, etc., and watch movies.  As always, taking a bath at Mamaw's is always fun too because she has cool bath toys.  (Yeah... we pretty much just run them through the shower now at home.)  They even discovered a new special treat - graham crackers and left-over cake icing.  When asked if Mommy could figure out how to make these delicacies?  The kids assured Mamaw they could teach me.  When Daddy picked them up, he wondered about that.  Ha!!!  Since Mamaw sent a box of graham crackers and a can of pre-made frosting home, I completed said task with flying colors and tasty treats were enjoyed by all!

The activity to top all others was bike riding!  You should have seen me trying to wedge three bikes in my swagger wagon.  Oh my the mini-van was at maximum capacity between kids, backpacks, stuffed animals, toys, clothes, and 3 BIG KID BIKES.  (Apparently, I'm pretty good at puzzles because Daddy couldn't figure out my strategy, so he rode with a bike in the passenger seat when he brought them home.)  While I was gone, the bike riding skills vastly improved.  Jeremiah is a natural, but Caleb and Rachel made great strides under Mamaw and Papaw's tutelage. 

Thanks Papaw & Mamaw!  The kids had LOTS of fun and are ready to come back :-)  Hee hee... no worries, well, until next month's end.

Women of Faith - The Island of Misfit Toys

  • 10,000 women
  • incredible praise & worship music
  • fabulous speakers
  • phenomenal musical talent
  • surprise guests
  • tears, laughter, tender moments, pee your pants hilarity, thought-provoking questions, messages of hope, encouragement, and renewal
You have just imagined the Women of Faith:  Imagine event that I had the privilege of attending August 19-20, 2011 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  Truly, I'm so thankful BookSneeze and Women of Faith provided me two complimentary tickets.  My friend, Melissa, and I had the absolute best time.

I'm no stranger to women's events, but it was immediately clear to me that this even was unlike the others.  I was unable to quite put my finger on the difference until dramatist, Nicole Johnson was sharing her personal story.  Speaking in regards to the "something beautiful" God makes from our broken pieces, she admitted that at a time when she was particularly struggling she "washed up on The Island of Misfit Toys that we know as Women of Faith."  The ah-ha moment!!!!  At other women's events I have attended, in all appearances everything was rehearsed, polished, and perfect.  From the Women of Faith platform, musicians and speakers were both vulnerable and strong enough to share about clinical depression, divorce, abuse, childhood trauma, the baby blues, fear, the loss of a child, etc.  Women of Faith was REAL!  In being themselves, broken vessels... jars of clay being formed in the Potter's Hand...  each woman (and one brave man) connected on a personal level with the thousands filling the arena.

One of the most impressive things to me was the "front porch."  Oftentimes, at an event featuring multiple speakers/artists, those who aren't on stage are hiding in the wings doing their own thing.  Instead, Women of Faith had a designated area at the base of the platform reserved for all those participating in the weekend.  What a joy to see the others sitting on the sidelines worshipping with and rooting for their sisters!  Adding to this incredible camaraderie, several of the speakers and artists featured at the Women of Faith - Over the Top events were in attendance to support the sisterhood that has formed.  For an Island of Misfit Toys, Women of Faith is inviting, comfortable, and oh-so-sincere.  I trusted that all the words spoken were bathed in prayer and from a place of conviction within the speaker's own heart.  It was easy to be ushered into God's presence when the leadership so obviously dwells there daily.

I filled 2 programs with notes, so recounting all I gleaned from the weekend in a single blog post is virtually impossible.  Instead, I will give you the highlights from each speaker.  However, I know that my ever-growing TO-READ list has just gotten considerably longer as I've added titles from each of the speakers.  I encourage you to do the same because I know you will be equally blessed.

Sheila Walsh
"Peace is not the absence of trouble, but the presence of Christ."
"The Shepherd knows where to find you!"
"It's not your job to get yourself home - it's the Shepherd's!"
~I can still picture Sheila speaking with a worn, stuffed lamb in her hands.  She shared some of her personal story of struggle, and it is clear that she knows the source of her strength.  She was a bright light for Christ, and wow - can she sing!!!  I had no idea.  She is also extremely witty, humorous, and who doesn't love a Scottish accent?!

Dr. Henry Cloud
One of the few men brave enough to infiltrate the women's camp, Dr. Cloud shared some great truths from God's word.  He spoke of happiness and reaching a place of SHALOM in our lives.  He gave us the points of 1. Being a Giver, 2. Being Connected, and 3. Setting goals.  Also, from an illustration about monkeys, he gave birth to a running joke the remainder of the weekend.  Oh yes, 10,000 women turned to each other and said, "Baby, Be My Monkey!"  You had to be there :-)

Lisa Harper
Lisa shared several stories including: a hilarious encounter with a seemingly "neck-ed man," the courteous and concerned bikers who stopped to check on her, the recovering addicts she mentors, and even her own father figure's conversion.  It was evident that God has allowed Lisa the keen ability to see value and worth in the lives of all people.  She shared a modern day account of the woman in John 8, and I know she had the women in the arena "all ears."

Luci Swindoll
Frog in her throat and all, Luci was the voice urging ladies to live for others in Jesus name.  She spoke of her involvement with World Vision as well as her relationship with a teenager who started a non-profit organization.  In both cases, she has experienced the joy of giving generously and honors Christ in both her words and actions.

Nicole Johnson
Using her theatrical talents, Nicole touched women's hearts identifying the many "HATS" a woman wears and the Invisible feeling that is often harbored inside.  While each of the sketches touched me, I was most moved by her personal story.  The broken pieces of stained glass represent so many things in Nicole's life, but I assure you that the Master Craftsman truly did piece together a stunning work of art.  Nicole is a blessing to all who hear!

Angie Smith
Admittedly, I have very few notes written down because I was absolutely spellbound by Angie Smith.  Her quirky, comical personality and the sadness of her personal tragedy completely captivated me.  Literally, I volleyed between side-splitting laughter and the ugly cry.  Oh yeah... 10,000 women experiencing a bawl-fest, but oh the message of hope Angie gave to all.  Even through the loss of her child, Angie was able to call to the Son of God - the One to Whom I Belong.  Sweet Audrey Caroline most definitely had weight in this world and continues to do so as her short life is shared through her Momma's tears.  Angie Smith is an absolute gem!  She is endearing and a great communicator of God's love. 
Mary Mary
The dynamic duo was a single at Women of Faith.  Only Erica Campbell was in attendance, yet she still performed her heart out.  She did enough jumping around for two.  I tweeted that I needed to get some Mary Mary on my iTunes.  I could get my praise on and a workout :-)  The most darling moment was created when Erica's 6-year-old daughter joined her on stage to sing Elmo's, "SING!"  Oh my... not only could the little girl sing, but the moment was so tender and special.  All the Momma hearts were warm and fuzzy and longing to cradle our little ones.

Natalie Grant
One of my all-time faves anyway - I was beyond thrilled to hear her in concert.  She sang some hits including "Held" which also has a special meaning to me.  This time though, the song became a timely tribute to those who lost their lives at the Indiana State Fair earlier in the week.  It definitely provided some healing for those affected by this tragedy.  The most profound moment was at the close of her time.  Natalie sang an absolutely stunning a capella arrangement of "It Is Well."  The old hymn's beautiful words rang loud and true as Natalie truly poured herself out as an offering on that stage.  The entire room was on their feet... it was a preview of the angels voices in heaven no doubt.  I still get goosebumps every time I think about it.  WOW - God has truly gifted Natalie Grant, and she is definitely pointing others to the ultimate gift-giver!  The Father of Lights!

Women of Faith: Imagine was a phenomenal weekend.  I was so blessed to be able to attend.  The experience was so memorable and meaningful.  I do hope to attend another Women of Faith event in the future, and I'll definitely be following the speakers and artists.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Our Favorite Floridians

Once a year,  my great aunt Betty and cousin Jill make the trip from Florida to visit the kin folk in KY.  (Does that sound hillbilly-ish?  I am barefoot while typing this if that helps? Ha!)  It is always good to see them, chat, catch up, and take a few pics.  Our reunion is even better when we share a meal at my Mama Spaulding's house.  Yummy!

Monday, August 15, 2011

SSMT Verse 16

Mid-August??? Really - that is crazy!  This year is buzzing by way too fast.  It is time for my new Siesta Scripture Memory Team verse.  I've chosen to memorize Isaiah 43:6-7 over the next couple weeks.

I will say to the north, "Give them up!" and to the south, "Do not hold them back." Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the ends of the earth - everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Homeschool Mother's Journal - Back in the Saddle Again!

In my life this week…
  • I attended a Girls Night Out/Pre-Teen Adoption Shower with my great adoption support group.  So happy for Chris, Jan, & B - I love how God grows families!!!
  • Attended our new homeschool co-op's first activity day.  Kids loved their classes, and I'm even teaching again.  Not too rusty after leaving the classroom, but I do like this setting a lot better!
  • Enjoyed Ethiopian Cuisine at Queen of Sheba Saturday night.  It was great to fellowship with other Ethiopia Adoptive families at home with their kiddos and in process.  Light Will Rise is truly building a strong community and support system.  Praying we continue to grow!
  • We were blessed by a tremendous sermon this morning in church.  Very moving and sparked some great convos with the hubby this afternoon.  I love when God stirs both our hearts to move at the same time.  Praying for God's leading in some upcoming endeavors.
In our homeschool this week…
  • We are officially back at it!  Monday was glorious.  We worked hard, got lots accomplished, and everyone was excited.  On Tuesday, Math brought tears for one stubborn little boy, and on Friday for the other.  Hmmm... I'm going to have to re-think a few things.  That's part of it!  Turn, twist, and try the puzzle piece until you lock in for a perfect fit.
  • We started with Bible, Math, Handwriting, Phonics, and Map Skills this week.
  • My Father's Dragon was a huge hit as our read-aloud this week. 
  • The kiddos LOVED their 1st day of CHIL.  I think our new co-op was a great decision!
Helpful homeschooling tips or advice to share…
  • Whether a few days in, a week in, months, or even mid-year, don't be afraid to change things.  Tweak here and there along the way.  I have to remind myself that it IS POSSIBLE to be both flexible and have high expectations.
I am inspired by…
  • by those who are the "hands and feet" of Christ serving those in need both locally and globally.   
Places we're going and people we're seeing...
  • Thursday, we are back at CHIL.  As soon as we are done, we are heading to see my family.  My great aunt and cousin are visiting from Florida.  We only see them once a year, so this is always a special time.  Then, the kiddos are spending the night with Mamaw and Papaw because I'm roadtripping.  I'm sooo excited to be attending/blogging the Women of Faith event this weekend.  I'm not as chipper about how early in the morning I will be hitting the road Friday, but Melissa will keep me awake on the drive :-)
My favorite thing this week was…
  • This week had a lot of "highs" - some really great stuff!  Although, it was really nice to have the kids all take a great Sunday afternoon nap.  Then, they were content for some quality cuddle time in Mom's bed watching a few cartoons.  Pretty sweet!  
Things I’m working on…
  • Lesson planning... still mapping some things out.
  • Mental plans for all that needs prepared/packed for the weekend.
  • The whole Light Will Rise team has September 11th on our minds.  Lots of details still being ironed out and preparations to be made, but we are beyond thrilled to celebrate Ethiopian New Year and launching our Children's Hope Chest Global Partnership.
I’m reading…
  • How to Have a H.E.A.R.T For Your Kids (Review Coming Soon!)
  • The Bible  (I'm a bit behind in my 90 Days Challenge.  Gotta buckle down and catch up!)
I’m praying for…
  • Those who face hardships I can't even begin to fathom... even death due to drought and famine in Africa.  I pray for the precious people of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.  They aren't statistics!  They have names, families, loved ones, and a God who LOVES them.  I pray that in tangible ways those of us more fortunate can provide for their needs. 

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CHIL has begun!

Day 1 of CHIL - the kidlets were sooo excited!  This is the closest to a 1st day of school pic as we have, so we capitalized on the photo op.  Look at all the cheesy grins!

The kids are participating in the CHIL (Christian Homeschoolers of Lawrenceburg) Activity Day every Thursday this year from 12 - 3 p.m.  The best part - for 2 1/2 of those 3 hours they have a teacher other than Mom.  This is good for them as well as me.  They are split for their science class which will help Rachel learn to stand on her own two feet.  Then, they are together for History of Little Pilgrims, 1/2 hour of music with Mom teaching the class, and 1/2 hour of gym.

They had a wonderful time and have all reiterated over and over that they want to go back.  I guess they haven't grasped that this is a weekly activity yet.  I do believe it is going to be both enjoyable and very beneficial!  Looking forward to a great year!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Day of Play

Following our day at the Creation Museum, we took a swim in the hotel pool and called it a night.  For Mom and Dad, it turned out to be a less than restful night.  Our kids make some crazy noises in their sleep not to mention that they are very squirmy.  When we woke up we grabbed a quick breakfast and took another short dip in the pool before heading to Totter's Otterville.

This has been a fave spot ever since Caleb was quite small.  However, I do believe that we are approaching the age where the magic is wearing off.  Yes, they were pretty tired from the previous days events, but they weren't totally enthralled in the activities of Totter's Otterville.  We made the once through much quicker than we have in trips past.  We may have a visit or two left, but as the kids are about to start the cycle of birthdays and will be 5, 6, and 7 the end is in sight.

Enjoy a few of the pics I captured.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Outside the Creation Museum

While we enjoyed all of the Creation Museum's inside offerings, the outside was also very nice.  We walked on a winding path through lush botanical gardens, crossed swinging bridges, and stopped by waterfalls and at the lake's edge.  Even though it was quite toasty in the sun and the temperature soared,  I did manage to get my wild ones to be still long enough for some pics.

There is also a petting zoo outside the Creation Museum.  It is home to alpacas, cows, goats, wallabies, a zorse, a zonkey, and a few others.  Jeremiah is never one to pet the critters.  Caleb was a bit apprehensive petting the zorse... guess he was kind of big.  Rachel seemed to enjoy the goats best.

Inside The Creation Museum

Hubs getting home from work last Friday brought about conversations of going somewhere and/or doing something.  Thus, a spontaneous trip was planned and our overnight bags packed.  We loaded the van without revealing our destination to the kiddos. 

When we had arrived, the Creation Museum marked our spot.  Thanks to a coupon I had, the boys got in free and Rachel is still young enough to receive free admission.  Because of our great savings, we opted to purchase planetarium tickets for the whole fam.  Then, we were off to see the sights and were immediately greeted by large robotic dinosaurs.

We found ourselves in the Garden of Eden in the Walk Through Biblical History exhibit.

We also visited the Natural Selection is Not Evolution, Noah's Ark Construction Site, and the Dinosaur Den.  Not a shocker - but the DINOS were a hit with my kiddos.  The creation science, evolution vs. creation, natural selection was definitely over the little ones' heads, but exposure to this truth at any age is never a bad thing! 

While inside we also watched the following theater productions:  Six Days, The Last Adam, Dragons & Dinosaurs, and Men in White.  The last one was in a special effects theater.  Our seats rocked and moved, and we even got sprayed in the face with water a couple of times.  Jeremiah and Rachel were just cackling.  Caleb held his hand over his ears the whole time and greatly disliked the surprises the theater had to offer.

We also enjoyed the Stargazer's Planetarium program.  The kids were pretty impressed with the chairs that laid down and watching TV on the ceiling.  Again, a lot of it was more than they could comprehend, but they liked looking at the stars.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Women of Faith - 2 weeks away

As I've mentioned before, courtesy of BookSneeze, I will be attending my first Women of Faith Weekend event and blogging all the details.  I can't wait!  Now the countdown is truly on... two weeks from today, I'll be in Indianapolis.

Check out this incredible line-up!!! 
Don't you want to join me August 19-20th in Indy? 
Some of the Speakers!

Just a glimpse of what is in store...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When Cousins Come To Play

 You play on the top bunk. It's soooo cool... especially if there aren't bunkbeds at your house!

 You play Just Dance Kids on the Wii when it's raining outside.

Paint lots of pictures.

Enjoy fine dining:  mini corndogs, mini chicken/cheese sandwiches, fruit cocktail, apples,
string cheese, fruit chillers, and yogurt.  A lil' something to make everyone happy!

Create foam farm crafts.  Rachel is all smiles about it!

Play in the sprinklers - except Josh who wasn't so sure about it.

Go Swimming - I mean splashing!

My two handsome fellas!

Allison is a mini-me of her Momma!

Hair is wet, so you can't see his blond curls - Josh is a cutie!

Tired from swimming, best to veg and watch some tv.

A fun day with family!