Friday, December 27, 2013


My “Word” for 2014 is HOPE!


In this coming year, I want to live a life of hope.

  • Instead of focusing on the trials (or pleasures) of today, I want to focus on hope for the future—in this life and the next.
  • I want to seek God’s will for my life. As my child rearing and homeschooling years are coming to an end (3 kids raised, and one approaching high school), I am looking for discernment as to what he is calling me to do next. I believe that God has plans to give me “a hope and a future.”
  • I want to consciously look for God’s blessings all around me and continually acknowledge his goodness.

Through the year, I am committing to meditating on and memorizing these verses about hope:

  • Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him.   Job 13:15
  • Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him.   Psalm 62:5
  • The Lord delights in those who fear Him, who put their hope in His unfailing love. Psalm 147:11
  • But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not be faint.  Isaiah 41:31
  • Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produce4s perseverance: perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us because God has poured out His love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which He has given us.   Romans 5:3-5
  • Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12
  • May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   Romans 15:13
  • “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  Jer. 29:11

Monday, December 16, 2013

McWane Science Center

After Thanksgiving, Emily went back to Birmingham for a few days with Katie. When I made the trip to pick her up, we made a stop at the McWane Science Center. This is a great science museum and we both had a fun time. I think Emily was 3 years old the last time we went, so it was all new to her!

We were greeted near the entrance with a bed of nails!


Emily’s favorite area was the natural history floor, where we saw fossils of dinosaurs and prehistoric marine life and learned about bugs (complete with live tarantulas, Madagascar hissing roaches, and scorpions!)


This is quite a turtle!


Dino trivia


Testing the advantages of pulleys


Bubble Fun!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bon Bon Cookies



This recipe is one of our Christmas traditions. I risk an uprising if I try to skip a year making it!

Bon Bon Cookies


  • 1 c. butter
  • 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 T vanilla
  • 3 c. flour
  • 2-3 T water
  • 60 cherries

Cream together butter and sugar. Add vanilla, flour, and water. Dough will be crumbly, but you should be able to form it into a ball. If not, add a little more water.

Form dough into a small ball, then flatten and wrap dough around a cherry.

Bake at 350 until cookies are barely browned.

Dip tops of cookies into warm icing (powdered sugar, milk, and food coloring) and let set until the icing has hardened. If desired, decorate tops of cookies with chopped cherries, nuts, or coconut while the icing glaze is still wet.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Free Educational DVD’s

Do you know about Educators, including homeschoolers can request one free educational DVD each year. We’ve done this for several years and found some very interesting topics.

They also offer an IZZIT PLUS membership that allows you to request 12 DVD’s a year for only $9.95 ($0.83 a DVD), along with additional teacher resources for the videos. You can’t beat that deal!

I’m sharing this simply because it’s a great resource!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Fun e-card for LEGO Fans!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of LEGO for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
Have any LEGO fans in your home? I spent some time this morning designing a free e-card featuring a LEGO Minifigure Family  modeled after our family. Although it didn't take me long to design the card, I think kids could spend hours experimenting with the different options. I was able to choose:
  • skin color and facial expression
  • clothing
  • hats and hair color and style
It was fun trying to choose "people" that were representative of my family members. I could even include pets (although a black dog was not an option)!
Then, I chose a background. Some of the options were the North Pole, beach, forest, ranch, and several cozy indoor LEGO scenes. Once I placed the LEGO figures where I wanted them in the scene, the card was ready to download to my computer or to email out to friends. I'm going to set Emily loose with the site later to see what she comes up with--probably something crazy! I think she'll have fun with the creativity aspect of it. My son would have LOVED this when he was a little younger and in his LEGO-maniac phase!

Visit Sponsor's Site

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Free Electronics Kit for Kids!


Emily and I took advantage of a great offer to try out the first kit of the EEME (Monthly Project Kits to Teach Kids Electronics) absolutely free. The kit came with all the necessary electronic components (“real” parts, not toys) to build a “Genius Light”—an LED that lights up when the room is dark and dims when the room is light. The kit is accompanied by online videos that carefully detail the process and explain the principles of electronics.

I am very impressed by the program. Although the recommended ages are 7-12, it was both enjoyable and beneficial for Emily (teaching far beyond the simple electronic circuit concepts that she already knew). I think other teens would enjoy it as well. I know that Emily (and I) will learn a lot with  EEME!

If you would like to also try the first project free, use this link:

There are 5 monthly projects in the series, and you may cancel at any time.


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ (Review)

Filling Up the Afflictions of Christ: The Cost of Bringing the Gospel to the Nations in the Lives of William Tyndale, Adoniram Judson, and John Paton  -     By: John Piper
Filling up the Afflictions of Christ, by John Piper, is Book 5 in the “The Swans are Not Silent” series, which teaches about the lives of Christianity’s great missionaries and martyrs.
This particular volume covers the lives of William Tyndale (martyred translator of the Bible into English), John Paton (missionary to cannibals in New Hebrides) and Adoniram Judson, missionary to Burma (Myanmar). The story of each man is told, with an emphasis on the great personal sacrifices he made while committing himself to the Lord’s work. Many quotations from the personal writings of each man are interspersed throughout the narrative.
This would be a good book (or series) for a school study on church history or for anyone wanting to learn more more about these heroes of the church, some well-known, some more obscure. However, I did find the reading a bit dry. I won’t be asking my teen to read the book because I think she would get bogged down in the writing style, which was very factual, rather than story-like. The most interesting parts to me were the original source quotes. One of my favorites passages was by John Paton, written shortly after his beloved wife and baby son died on the island of Tanna.
I felt her loss beyond all conception or description, in that dark land. It was very difficult to be resigned, left alone, and in sorrowful circumstances; but feeling immovably assured that my God and father was too wise and loving to err in anything that He does or permits, I looked up to the Lord for help, and struggled on in His work.
This gave me some insight into the complete devotion and trust in God that Paton had. It is difficult for me to imagine such devotion to God despite the devastating circumstances. Reading through these short biographies definitely deepened my respect for these great servants of God.
I received this book free in exchange for my honest review from Crossway Books.

Monday, December 2, 2013

CurrClick Cyber Monday Sale—Doorbusters and Freebies!

It’s Cyber Monday time at Currclick . There is a live event with door prizes and freebies and many items are 20 to 70% off. All Super Star Speech books and Games are on sale, too! I can’t wait to see what the goodies will be!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

String Christmas Tree Card Holder

What do you do with the Christmas cards your receive? Throw them in a basket, display them, let them stack up on the counter? For many years, we strung a ribbon around a wide doorway and clipped the cards to it. This displayed them nicely while brightening up our home. In the past few years, we’ve received fewer cards and really haven’t had enough for a nice display until right before Christmas, so I’ve just propped them up on our sideboard.

I saw this simple idea for holding Christmas cards in Better Homes and Gardens magazine and thought it looked like fun. I made a few adaptions to make it even simpler and to use what I already had around the house.

I started with an old  18 X 24” bulletin board that we weren’t using any more (bigger would have been even better). Then I chose several sheets of scrapbooking paper to cover it. This paper is decorated with gold flecks, although the pattern didn’t show in the photo. (Fabric would also be a nice choice, especially for a bigger bulletin board. I also used green crochet thread and colorful push pins.


I used a staple gun to attach the scrapbooking paper.


Then, I outlined a Christmas tree shape with the push pins.


Finally, I wrapped the string around one push pin a few times, then strung it from pin to pin until I was happy with how it looked. Easy enough for even young children to do with minimal help!


Friday, November 29, 2013

Sun Stand Still Devotional (Review)

Sun Stand Still Devotional: A 40-Day Experience of Daring Faith  -     By: Steven Furtick

The Sun Stand Still Devotional, by Steven Furtick, challenges the reader to make the leap into “audacious faith.” Each of the 40 daily readings begins with a Bible reference to read. Several pages of encouragement follow, helping the reader to apply the passage to modern day life and giving numerous examples from the author of audacious faith in his own life.

Sun Stand Still is not a “name it and claim it” message. While Furtick insists that God can do anything, he explains that “Faith is governed by laws and principles, but it can’t be condensed into a magic formula. God is way too big to be confined in some blab-it-and-grab-it formula of theology. His thoughts are not our thoughts, and his ways are not our ways…What we have faith for, ultimately, is God’s plan, not our own.”

Still, the author has made huge leaps of faith in his own life based on what he believes God is calling him to do, including selling his home and moving across the country in order to start a new church (which grew to a membership of thousands in a short time).

The reader will learn to grow his or her faith by learning what scripture says about faith and God’s promises, by looking to the examples of prophets and disciples in the Bible, and by being challenged to trust God while stepping out boldly to accomplish God’s will.

I was challenged and inspired by this book. I underlined quite a few passages as I read, and will be returning to the book to study it more as I learn to boldly trust God in my own life.

Read Chapter One of the Sun Stand Still Devotional.

I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

Monday, November 25, 2013

My Favorite Homeschool Review Products

As the Schoolhouse Review year comes to a close, I’m looking back over the many products that our family has been privileged to try out. It’s been a busy year—I‘ve done reviews for 33  different items! I’ve been accepted back onto the Crew for another year and can’t wait to find out what’s coming up next!

These are a few of my favorites (with the review linked):

Homeschool Spanish Academy

Flip Flop Spanish

Institute for Excellence in Writing

Essentials in Writing

Bridgeway Learning Labs

IXL Online Math and Language Arts

Moving Beyond the Page

See the Light Art Projects videos

Supercharged Science


You can read about the entire Schoolhouse Review Crew’s favorites (and find some fantastic resources for your family) at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!

Love and Respect in the Family (Review)

Love & Respect in the Family: The Respect Parents Desire;  The Love Children Need    -     By: Emerson Eggerichs

One of my very favorite marriage books is Love and Respect, by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs. The concept that what men really desire is respect and that women really need is love was eye-opening to me. Eggerichs explains that when women don’t feel love, they act disrespectful and when men don’t feel respected, they act unloving. This creates a “crazy cycle” and disharmony in the home.

I was excited to see Eggerechs’ newest book, Love and Respect in the Family: The Respect Parents Desire; The Love Children Need, which extends the concept to the relationship between parents and children.

Eggerechs explains that what parents want most from their children is respect; when they don’t receive it, they tend to react in ways that children perceive as unloving. Children, on the other hand, want love from parents; when they feel unloved, they react with disrespect. He gives tips for breaking this cycle. The responsibility for making changes rests, of course, primarily with the parents.

Eggerichs  proposes six parenting guidelines, abbreviated by the acronym “GUIDES.”

  • G—Give—Meet children’s needs generously.
  • U—Understand—Listen to your child. Try to understand him, and make sure he knows you are trying to understand.
  • I—Instruct—Patiently teach children to know and apply God’s wisdom.
  • D—Discipline—Help your child correct poor choices.
  • E—Encourage your child to find and use his areas of giftedness.
  • S—Supplicate—Pray for your child.

This book fell into my lap at a perfect time. I’ve been increasingly frustrated with the increasing levels of disrespect that my child is showing. Now, I have more ideas of how to break this cycle by showing love, and am already seeing some small improvements in her attitude.

To me, some of the most valuable chapters in the book were the ones that validated my observations that children sometimes DON’T make the correct choices. Some children will choose to act unloving and disrespectful despite anything the parents can do. Eggerechs encourages parents to persevere and to imagine Christ standing behind their child, so that everything that is said is said to Christ. Even if the child makes the wrong choices, we are honoring God by making the right choices ourselves. As the author says, “My response is my responsibility.”

I found Love and Respect in the Family to be an excellent parenting tool, full of good advice and real-life examples of how to apply the principles.

I received a free copy of this book from BookSneeze in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Leonardo da Vinci Exhibit

I was thrilled when I heard about the traveling Leonardo da Vinci exhibit that was making a stop at the US Space and Rocket Center. Since we’re just finishing up a (6 month!) study of the Renaissance, the timing was perfect! Of course, I would still have been anxious to visit even if it didn’t fit into our current history studies.

First, we spent a little time in the main exhibit hall for the US Space and Rocket Center. We’ve been here before, so we only stayed here for about 30 minutes. It’s a great place to learn all about the history of space exploration, to experiment with some of the scientific principles, and to see and even climb inside models of different space capsules. (Side note: when I was Emily’s age, the first monkey in space, Miss Baker, lived here too!)


Then, we moved on to the traveling da Vinci exhibit. One entire room was filled with models and replicas of inventions from his notebooks. I was impressed by the sheer number of them, as well as the variety.



Copies of some of da Vinci’s masterpieces.


Leonardo’s notebooks.


The Mona Lisa look!


And we finished up with a visit to the climbing wall!


If you’re in the Huntsville, AL area, this exhibit (and the Space and Rocket Center) are well worth a visit!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Best Schoolhouse Review Products of the Year


The 250 reviewers in the Schoolhouse Review Crew voted on their very favorite homeschool review products of the year and the results are just out!

28 different companies earned awards in different subject areas (math, science, foreign language, toy, book, magazine, etc.). Many of these companies, such as IXL, God’s World News, Institute for Excellence in Writing, and Homeschool Spanish Academy were some of our personal favorites as well.

You can read about some of the very BEST homeschool products at the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Educational Apps for Kindle (Free and Low-cost)

(This post contains affiliate links.)

Educational apps for Kindle Fire

There are LOTS of educational apps for i-products, but good ones are a little harder to find for the Kindle. These are some of the paid and free educational apps for the Kindle Fire that I’ve found. I’ve tried to focus here on school-age apps rather than preschool ones. We’ve tried many, but not all of these. They do, however, all have good ratings on Amazon. I’d love to hear about some of your favorites!

Free Apps!



Interactive Time Telling App


My Homework Student Planner 

Spanish in a Month (We LOVE this! We purchased the paid app listed below after trying out the 2 free levels in this free version.)

Spelling Bee

Interactive Periodic Table of the Elements

Math Slicer (Fruit Ninja for math!)



Speed Anatomy


Jog Nog: Quizzes for Common Core Test Prep; Grades 2-8

Art Museum Match ‘Em Up—Learn about famous artists and their paintings.

 US Citizenship Test Prep (Should be useful for anyone to brush up on US history and government!)

 The Oregon Trail: American Settlers







Paid Apps

These e-books ($0.99 and $2.99 include reviews of hundreds of Kindle Fire apps for kids.


Learning Games Series: These are very highly rated. $1.99 each.

1st Grade 2nd Grade

Stack the States $0.99 and Stack the Countries $1.99 teach capitals, landmarks, location of states and countries, and more.  We have these and like them a lot.

Spanish in a Month ($3.99) We have this and really like it. It uses a Rosetta Stone-type format where the player chooses the correct photo out of 4 choices.

Art Memory Game ($1.28)

Bridge Constructor ($1.99) –Learn about types of bridges and physics concepts.