Monday, July 30, 2012

a Monday giveaway

GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED!  The winner is Melanie L.  Congratulations! 

Our family has been watching the What's in the Bible?  series for family devotions.  Don't let the puppets fool you.  Yes, there is humor, but this series is rich in Biblical information and integrity.  Each DVD in the series tackles a book of the Bible or a section of books.  The series goes beyond a general review of the well-known "children's"  Bible stories and delves into who wrote each book, the historical setting, and the lessons God is daily teaching us through His Word. The series aims to show us our need for a Savior and map out the rescue plan God has for each of us who surrender to Him.   DVDs 1-8 are available now and cover Genesis through the Song of Solomon.  (DVD 9 is due out on August 14 and the New Testament DVDs are scheduled to be released starting in January.)

My giveaway, though, is for a What's in the Bible DVD that is an accompaniment to the main series.  It features two of the main characters, Clive and Ian, as they ask questions about God such as "How old is God?" and "Does God tell the truth?" 

Clive and Ian's Wonder-Blimp of Knowledge: 5 BIG Questions About God!

To win this (pre-viewed) copy, enter the giveaway in the form below. 
Contest runs through midnight (EDT) on Saturday, August 4. 
(Will ship US only.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 26, 2012

How Do You...Prepare for the New School Year?

How do you prepare for a new school year?

We are beginning our formal studies again about a week-and-a-half.  This year I'll have a 5th grader, 3rd grader, 1st grader, and two preschoolers.   Though I often get overwhelmed by the massive task of homeschooling my children, I love it, too!  I usually begin planning a new school year before the old one is complete.  (Or how about this one?  I already know what we're doing for science next year.)

Aside from the obvious gathering and purchasing of materials, the best thing I did to prepare for this coming school year was to talk to my kids.  (I was inspired by Stacy, who asked her kids to help evaluate their school year.)  As we talked, I jotted down notes in my trusty spiral notebook.  They talked, I talked.  I asked questions about our schedule.  They gave ideas.  They frowned about what they didn't like.  I starred the margins and circled thoughts.  When we were done, I was so glad I had taken those twenty minutes with them because I had a clearer picture of where to take this next school year. 

There was one subject that I had continued to add to our schedule because I thought they all loved it.  Come to find out, they were all okay with discontinuing it.

I had planned to order Owen the same handwriting book that Maddie had loved last year.  He hates handwriting and I thought maybe this would make him love it, too.  Come to find out, he hates handwriting because it takes "too long" so I found a book with shorter lessons.  

Gavin was concerned that by the time he takes care of the dog, does chores, and completes his school work, he will have no time for leisure (aka Legos).  We worked out a system where he and Maddie can rotate dog duty and housework each week, freeing more leisure time.  

I could go on, but the point is, preparing for the school year was made easier by a simple conversation! I'm going to make this a yearly tradition.

How do you get ready for your school year?  Let us know in the comments. 

Also, if you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post, share that in the comments, too, or send me an e-mail!   I'd love your input!

Monday, July 23, 2012


Despite my sacrifice in taking my kids to the beach in June (though I despise it myself), they didn't consider that the "real" beach.  The calm waves and small strip of sand are just my style, but, though they didn't complain, the kids were not to be content until we visited the rough and endless surf. 

On trip #1, my mom, sister, and I took the kids alone, but for #2, we brought the men along. 

There are a few things I hate about the beach:

  • sunscreen
  • sand stuck to my skin
  • swim suits
We went late in the afternoon so we could skip the sunscreen.  Because of that, the sand didn't stick quite as determinedly to my skin...and I decided to wear a T-shirt and shorts and skip the suit altogether.  It was possibly one of the best beach days I've ever had.

Still, when we did an informal poll during our sub dinner on the beach and someone said, "Raise your hand if your favorite part of the beach is when it is time to go home," I did raise my hand.  (As did my dad.)

Another someone said, "Raise your hand if your favorite part is digging in the sand." and Alaine's hand went up.  (As did Ben's.)

Then someone else said, "Raise your hand if your favorite thing is playing in the water," and lots of hands went up (including Ben's again!). 

The girls even became boogie board enthusiasts, though they both went home scratched, scraped, and sand-burned.

There was one other part of the day I enjoyed, though it happened after dinner so I couldn't raise my hand to say I liked it.  We took a long walk along the edge of the surf to search for interesting shells.  We collected a whole bucketful, but we also found a piece of sea glass, many hermit crabs, a horseshoe crab, and huge rubbery clumps of sea weed. 

Ben's collection of black shells

Maddie's tiny hermit crab


Now this?  Makes me wonder if he's really my son. 

Another thing I love about the beach... after all the running and splashing and yelling and digging and climbing, not one child in my house woke before 7 am! 

The Original Dress-- Looking Towards Fall

Maybe it's only July 23rd, but I'm already thinking about how to makeover Alaine's dress for fall.  Since by then we'll be 15 months strong on the dress, it's going to need a bit of alteration and repair, along with the seasonal embellishment.

I am inspired by Allyson's entry  to The Dress Project, though!  I'm thinking of adding a ruffle to the bottom of Alaine's dress to extend the length, but since my sewing machine bit the dust and I primarily sew by hand anyway, I'm not sure I have the skills! 

For Allyson's detailed directions and  pictures, click on the above photo.

Are you working on an entry for The Dress Project?  I love how every entry so far has been unique.  I'd love to see your creativity, too!

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Early 1900s (by the books)

To read a brief overview of my history-teaching method, click here.  And remember: These lists are not intended to be all-inclusive.  They are a jumping off point for your own walk through history. 


This era was one of my favorites.  Because we were reading so many biographies, it was easy to slip them in the cracks  of our winter break last January without the kids even knowing we were doing school! 

Samantha: An American Girl series (includes Meet Samantha and Samantha Learns a Lesson by Susan Adler; Samantha's  Surprise by Maxine Schur; Happy Birthday, Samantha!, Samantha Saves the Day, and Changes for Samantha by Valerie Tripp)

The Chicago Fire
There'll Be a Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight by Robert Quackenbush

I is for Idea: An Inventions Alphabetby Marcia Schonberg

Alexander Graham Bell
Alexander Graham Bell by Elizabeth  MacLeod 

Thomas Edison:
A Picture Book of Thomas Alva Edison by David Adler

Henry Ford:
Henry Ford: The People's Car-maker by Haydn Middleton
The Great Horse-Less Carriage Race by Michael Dooling
George Washington Carver:
A Man for All Seasons: The Life of George Washington Carver by Stephen Krensky

Teddy Roosevelt

Thursday, July 19, 2012

How Do You... Teach Children to Pray?

How do you teach your children to pray?

In general, I would say we don't teach prayer.  We model it.  We try to convey to our children that prayer is talking to God and that they can tell Him anything.   We urge them to thank Him for what He has given and bring their problems and requests to Him. 

We pray throughout the day-- school time, meal times, bed time-- and give ample opportunities for praying aloud.  At meals, Brian leads the prayer, but if he is not home (which is often in the summer), I ask a different child to pray each night.  They consider it a privilege to be chosen. In other situations, we'll start with one person praying and then go in order around the room, with each person contributing.  Other times, Daddy will start the prayer and the children can pray in any order (with the option of staying silent).

Our goal is for praying to become a natural and necessary part of each child's day as they grow in their individual relationships with the Lord. 
How do you teach your children to pray?  Let us know in the comments. 

Also, if you have a question for a future "How Do You...?" post, share that in the comments, too, or send me an e-mail! I'd love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

T.I.P.sters: Taking Family Photos

Back when Alaine was weeks old, I mourned the fact that it was nearly impossible to have all five children look at the camera at the same time with pleasant expressions on their faces. I wanted magazine-quality happy perfection, but my kids had no interest in cooperating.  Relate?

The end result of that impromptu photo shoot was so perfect, though, that I have it hanging in my hallway, even though everyone has changed and grown older.  That photo shoot taught me that a great picture does not have to mean everyone looking straight ahead.  Sometimes capturing personalities and capturing memories is equally good. 

October 2010

A finger in the mouth or the frowny face showcases the age of the child.  (At least I tell myself that when I smile through gritted teeth, frustrated that the 3-year-old does. not. like. his picture taken.)

Easter 2012

And while silly faces and wiggly tongues may not be the stuff of a magazine-quality spread, it surely is better than tears.

Can you spot the extra child?

Taking family photos can  mean doing whatever possible to keep the kids in the shot at all.  Think the two little ones holding my hands looks quaint?  It was the only way I could them from running away! 
Mother's Day 2012

The only time we insist on seven happy faces all looking at the camera is our annual Christmas photo.  With a little planning (full tummies and rested kids), a patient photographer who is willing to get a little silly (my sister), and a ton of outtakes, we manage to get it done!

November 2011
My sister has written a great article on photographing children.  She took the photos of Gavin, Maddie, Owen, and Ben that are in my sidebar.  She has a knack for capturing their personalities better than I ever can in a photo.  (Click on their names, above, to see more of her work.  If you're local and want some photos of your kids, I bet she'd work out a deal with you. ) 

For more inspiration on anything from what to wear to how to pose, visit my Family Photos Pinterest board

As always...take a moment to visit my fellow T.I.P.sters,
Allyson and  Christy!

Coming Soon:
August 7: Schooling Kids of Different Ages
August 21: Teaching Kids to Read

Monday, July 16, 2012

The Dress Project-- Mid-Summer

Who can believe it is the middle of July?  Between swimming and sweating and strong storms and summer reading, the weeks are flying by.  (Only three weeks until we're back to school!)  The Dress Project-- Summer Challenge ends on Friday, August 31 so we're halfway through the entry period, too! 

Hannah is the latest to join the fun...with two entries!  Her first submission was a maternity shirt that she added some flair to while making it more modest at the same time. 

To see how she did it and for more photos, click here

Her second entry was a T-shirt dress that she crafted out of a stained, un-usable shirt from her daughter's closet. 
To see more photos and a tutorial, click here

Is your entry ready for The Dress Project?  I'm excited to see what you can come up with.  Blog about it and then add your link HERE.  There are two prizes up  for grabs!

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